Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

In this book by Ursula K. Le Guin, Lavinia, a side character from the Aeneid, is given a whole plot. She becomes a person with emotions and thoughts and a role to play, instead of just Aeneas’ wife. This book showcases the world even before Rome was built, and goes deep into culture and the inner workings of a city during times of trouble. Overall, the story manages to take many characters and make every single one of them fleshed-out and alive. Definitely worth a read.

Greed vs Pride: – “Biggering” by The 88

Biggering by The 88, a song from the album Dr Suess’ The Lorax, was one of the original songs that was suggested to the soundtrack. In the end, “Biggering” was passed over in favor of How Bad Can I Be, the more upbeat version. The song was created as a way for the Onceler to express his justification for the creation of his corporate empire at the cost of the environment. The reason for this switch is due to the fact that “Biggering” goes much, much deeper into creating a theme about greed and its cause, pride. 

The story goes that the Onceler started out content with what he had, but as business grew, he began expanding, he slowly gave into greed. The Onceler justifies it as “Pride,” but the Lorax responds:

I’m going to say this once, and I’m not gonna repeat it

Greed ya see, it’s like a little pet, alright?

And the more and more and more that you go and feed it

The more hungry it’ll get

The usage of both simile and personification in this shows that the Lorax believes that the Onceler can not solely blame greed for his increasingly rash actions, because the Onceler was the one who “fed it,” which has caused that feeling to grow stronger. It builds the idea that greed is a cycle that can’t stop unless the person stops giving in, which the Onceler did not.

The Lorax says that greed isn’t the root of why the Onceler is biggering. Instead, he blames pride:

You see, it’s gotta worm inside

Oh yeah, that’s right

It’s one that always needs to feed

And it is never satisfied

You get it?

But the more you try to find it

The more it likes to hide

Now listen that is nasty little worm

And I like to call it pride.

The “worm” hidden inside of the feeling of greed is pride. The Lorax shows that the reason greed is so powerful is because it’s hidden, so you can never see what is truly powering your actions. The way pride and greed are continuously referred to as living things is the Lorax’s way of saying how they can shift and grow, and how they almost seem to think for themselves.

The Onceler, however, tries very hard to justify his actions without calling himself negative things like “greedy.” At the very start of the song, he talks about how he was content as he was. 

I had a little cottage

And that cottage was enough

A place where I could sit and knit

A place where I could sell my Thneeds

But now I’ve had a little time

To re-assess my needs

The lyrics here show that very quickly his opinions on how his business should be run changed. The line about “reassessing his needs” was likely the very start of when he began to get greedy, although later he justified it as:

A company’s an animal

That’s trying to survive (survive)

It’s struggling, and fighting

Just to keep itself alive

The Onceler is comparing his company to an animal, yet again bringing in the same level of personification that the Lorax uses, but this time, the Onceler is saying that his company needs to keep growing to stay afloat. He calls it “survival of the fittest” in his own way of saying that his actions were reasonable. (They were not.)

Throughout the song, personification is used over and over to show how feelings are always changing and growing, and not always in positive ways. The metaphors are there to show how similar things like companies can be to those changing emotions. The song “Biggering” is meant to show how it’s so easy to slip into actions beyond what you can reasonably justify.

The Loop (update)

The Loop By Ben Oliver is a dystopian novel set in a future where the world is united under one government. The main character, Luka Kane, is an inmate in an AI-run solitary confinement prison called the Loop. Each and every day is the same as the last, and Luka has been there for years.

A change finally comes when the government mandated rain fails to fall, which starts a chain of events that causes the end of Luka’s monotony.

The action comes fairly quickly in this book, and hooks the reader from the very start. Definitely worth a read.

UPDATE: I have since finished the book! After getting to see the end, I once again recommend reading The Loop. The closer I got to the conclusion, the more on the edge of my seat I felt, and I was not disappointed. A thrilling end to an excellent book.