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Human Experiences - the Road

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Stephanie Oesch

Listening Extract

  1. Explain why Barbara Soup thinks fiction is important.

Reading fiction allows us to live in the head of somebody else, we get to experience all sides of this person, the good which is rarely seen, the bad and everything in between. Reading fiction makes us readers better human beings because it makes us more compassionate, curious, we empathise with characters, cry when they cry and smile when they smile, we want the character to be successful with their cause and be there every step of the way while they unravel secrets.

  1. Why does Dan Wakefield believe fiction is the truth?

Dan Wakefield believes that a fiction story holds more wisdom and truth than philosophy book, he says we learn how to live and experience life through reading fiction. You cannot get truths with facts, our experiences are limited in a way imaginary stories are not.

  1. What does John Green consider the marker of civilisation?

John Green considers the marker of civilisation to be when people stopped telling stories and started writing them down.

What have you learned about human experiences from ‘The Ghosts of Heaven’ by Marcus Sedgewick?

Is it human nature to want to explore and discover the mysteries of the unknown, it is in our nature to take risks to reveal the truth. Humans are curious creatures, our ability to think and feel and to act on those impulses has posed important questions in both philosophy and science. Our ever changing ideas and theories have shaped the world to how we have experienced it in the past, how we do, and how we eventually will.

The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick tells four different stories all connected by the symbol of a spiral. The motif of the spiral flows through out all four of the novellas and interacts with the characters and shapes their stories. This book tackles human experiences from prehistory into the far distant future.

Marcus Sedgwick challenges the way that society sees young adults and teenagers, society sees young adults full of laziness and arrogance, people who have not contributed to the progression of our species but as a disruption to it, plagued by risk taking behaviours and everything that adults frown upon.

The four novellas feature young adult and/or teenager characters who are placed in tragic and dire circumstances but show dynamic moral purpose and step up instead of away, to face their challenges head on and make tough, life altering decisions.

The third novella The Easiest Room in Hell features a young man gone to work in an Insane Asylum. Upon arrival Dr James is affronted by the methods that supervisors use to contradict the patients. Dr James is promptly taken by Dexter, the ‘insane’ poet with a blinding fear of spirals. Dr Philips, the elderly man who runs the asylum wants to take extreme measures to ‘help’ Dexter, a method which will most likely kill Dexter. Dr James is appalled and sets out to help Dexter. But it is too late for Dexter, who in death leaves Dr James with a powerful message about overcoming grief and continuing to live and experience life and not drowning in the past.

The fourth novella The Song of Destiny is set the distant future, spiralling through space, and a young astronaut Bowman who is utterly alone is space. When people on the ship start being murdered, including a girl with a spiral tattoo, the entire human races survival falls on this young man’s shoulders and Bowman must use his wits and take risks to find a habitable planet and an intelligent life form to ensure that humans are preserved. Bowman, knowing he must return to his sleeping pod or risk dying of old age on the ship, continues to work to find the murderer, a courageous act that most would not have been able to stomach with their own lives in thought. A courageous act that leads to his utter desertion on a ship full of dead long sleepers.

There are many fantastic qualities to being human, but there are many horrible things humans do that make experiences poor. Marcus Sedgwick shows not only the goodness and selflessness of his characters but shows the corrupt and destructiveness in his secondary characters.

The Easiest Room in Hell features a young man working in an Insane Asylum to see what better he can do in the world, to help in any way he can. But his pure intentions are put to the test as his supervisors practise their cruel methods and take advantage of patients. Dr James readiness to help disturbed patients by giving them patience and kindness instead of beating and taking advantage of them shows his integrity and good heartedness.

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