Month: August 2012

Leunig’s Love and fear

Hats off to Hayley for producing such inspiring notes from our class session on Leunig’s Love and fear.


Prompts for Whose Reality?

On the website VCE Study Guides I found a list of the different types of prompts you could expect to encounter.

What you should be working towards is getting together a generic essay that you can shape to fit any of the prompt types. Look at the prompts within the groups and work out the approaches you could take for the different types.

Experiencing reality

  1. Our reality is always changing.
  2. Reality is never fact but fiction.
  3. We are defined by our reality.
  4. Our perspective is always subjective.
  5. Both reality and imagination help our understanding of the world and ourselves.
  6. The reality we create is unique to our own experiences.
  7. Reality is subject to our  interpretations.
  8. Reality can be both subjective and objective.
  9. It is through a significant event that our reality changes.
  10. Our realities are formed by our opinions and beliefs.
  11. Reality forces us to act in extraordinary ways.
  12. When we face the truth, we need to be ready to face pain and suffering.
  13. People have varied reactions and responses to things because of their different realities.
  14. Reality is what we want to see, not what we have to see.
  15. Reality is based on the people and experiences we encounter.

Our reality in relation to others

  1. Our reality is never our own, but  influenced by others.
  2. No two realities are identical.
  3. Sometimes we lose ourselves in the reality of others.
  4. We cannot escape the world that others create.
  5. Accepting the reality of others is easier than accepting our own.
  6. Conflict occurs as a result of different realities.
  7. Some people manipulate others by distorting reality.
  8. One event can produce multiple  realities.
  9. Only through multiple perspectives can we understand reality.
  10. Some events influence our reality more significantly than others.
  11. Our reality can impact others positively or negatively.
  12. The realities of two people are drastically different.


  1. What we chose to remember and forget shapes our reality.
  2. Our memories distort our current reality.
  3. Memories help us maintain a grip on reality.
  4. Mixing memory and reality helps  reality.
  5. Some people suppress memories in order to cope with reality.
  6. Memories are the source of our  illusions.
  7. We can change our dreams to become our reality.
  8. Our memories teach us how to deal with  reality.

Dealing with reality

  1. We create illusions in order to cope with reality.
  2. Illusions are safe while realities are cruel.
  3. Truth is always more powerful than imagination.
  4. Distorting reality can result in both good and bad.
  5. What separates truth from fiction is our perspective.
  6. Illusions have the power to conceal reality but can never erase it.
  7. In the end, we are always forced to face reality.
  8. Illusions are created both intentionally and unintentionally.
  9. Reality and illusion are never dichotomous.
  10. Escaping into illusion is weak while facing reality is courageous.
  11. Illusions are created as a result of our disappointments and failures.
  12. Fantasies are how we create a world of success and happiness.
  13. Without illusion, reality is too difficult to confront.
  14. We cannot be forced to confront the truth; we must be willing to.
  15. What is real and fiction is irrelevant, merely what we want to believe.

The Asch experiment


It is amusing, perhaps slightly disturbing, that one can so easily fall into accepting and following the “dominant reality”. What this clip doesn’t show is that Asch went on to discover something equally important. Yes, people are willing to ignore their own views and go with the flow, but they are also very easily convinced to swim against the stream. This was demonstrated in another series of experiments in which an actor was used to defy the crowd – showing that if just one person acts sensibly (but against the norm) that is enough to make people eager to express their true thoughts.

Surowiecki, an American journalist, concludes that “ultimately, diversity contributes not just by adding different perspectives to the group but also by making it easier for individuals to say what they really think. […] Independence of opinion is both a crucial ingredient in collectively wise decisions and one of the hardest things to keep intact. Because diversity helps preserve that independence, it’s hard to have a collectively wise group without it.”



Past exam papers

As I’ve suggested to many of you, I think it’s a good time to start practising essays under timed conditions. Whenever you write an essay from now on, do it in an hour. Try to establish some timings and guidelines that suit you: for example, 5-10 minutes planning, intro in 10 minutes, paragraphs in 30 minutes, conclusion at about the 45-50 mark.

Here is a link to VCAA’s past exam papers. No excuses now!

And don’t forget that you need to practise all three types of essays – Context, Text, and Language Analysis. I’m happy to look at whatever you produce.

Plato’s Cave

I liked the concept that arose from watching the animation in class today, the idea that just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The brief summary of Plato’s cave below explores the idea that only when we are presented with new realities can we see our old ones as illusion.

“Plato’s cave is an allegory portraying a group of prisoners who have lived in a cave for their entire life. They are chained to a seated position in which they are unable to turn their heads, forced to look at the wall in front of them. Behind them is a fire which casts shadows on the wall from the figures who walk behind them on the roadway. The prisoners make a game of naming the objects (shadows) that appear on the wall. To them, this is all they know, their reality. When one prisoner escapes, he travels past the roadway and ascends into the sunlight. At first he is blinded by the sun (a metaphor for truth, goodness, knowledge and reality) although his eyes eventually adjust and he realises that what he had taken to be reality was merely an illusion. He descends into the darkness of the cave in an attempt to alert his fellow prisoners of his discovery. However, they believe he is mad, deluded from the sunlight, and hence they continue to live their life in the darkness, taking this as their reality. Plato’s cave is a philosophical metaphor that Plato intended as a truthful portrayal of the human condition. The allegory questions whether we can truly know what we experience is real or if we are blinded by illusions. He argued in his philosophical texts that reality is something objective and consistent and that it is found beyond the mere physical appearance of things.Through the study of philosophy, logic and mathematics, the ‘real’ world becomes visible. In order to find truth, reality and knowledge we must ascend from the ‘cave’ (in what he described as a difficult journey!) and see the world in an objective way, find meaning beyond how things appear to be. Perhaps we too like the prisoners are trapped in a cave of a false ‘reality’….” Source:’+Reality+Scrapbook+Task

This is a rather long clip, but it is facinating. How different the world might be if we were more willing to accept the views of others? As the clip suggests, this does go both ways – the chemist had to change the way she perceived the world and others. It was important that she attempted to understand their reality in order to find a more effective way of addressing both of their concerns. “If only I could make you see….” – a nice title for a Context piece?

The Dragon in My Garage – this is a favourite story of mine by the late Carl Sagan, renowned astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author. He raises the idea that something that is unprovable doesn’t exist – as opposed to the new reality of the prisoner in Plato’s Cave which is a reality that he actually experiences and can be experienced by others. The last line is a winner.