“How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and movement, how express and admirable, in action, how like an angel, in comprehension how like a god… Yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?” –Hamlet (2.2.293-298)

Paper Patches is the official blog of Valerie McLean, writer and former English student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Born in Honolulu, HI, Valerie moved and grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC. Valerie has been involved in the arts all her life, starting piano lessons at five, to pursuing a Creative Writing degree in college. Her subjects range from various fields of science and philosophy, to literary analysis, to confessional poetry. She considers herself a big fan of genre fiction, and is currently working on her first novel.

From the OED:

patch, n.1

1.a. A piece of a material attached to something to repair a hole or tear, or to strengthen or protect a weak area.

The idea of patching up a jeans jacket that had run its course originally came from an episode of The Art Assignment—“Object Empathy”. This episode’s assignment was to take an object and repair it so that the repair was obvious. The idea was to feel empathy for an object, and to turn in into art. Its use in this capacity was obvious—two of the things that define me are my love of pop culture and my denim jacket. I’ve been wearing one habitually since the seventh grade and it’s become my signature, more than even my actual signatures. And in some ways, the newly patched jacket is representative of who I am and what my life has been like. As much as Art has called to me all my life, I have constantly and consistently Refused the Call—even so far as to enroll at Tech as a Chemistry Major. That first semester destroyed me in more ways than one, and that was the tear in the denim. What ultimately saved me was my writing—and a semester’s worth of therapy.


I chose the specific quotes based on personal significance, and it was hard enough to narrow it down to just four. The first shown here is from Hamlet 2.2—“What a piece of work is man!” I am influenced by Shakespeare probably just as much as any other writer that works with the English language, but I absolutely love his works anyways. There were a number of quotes that I could have picked, but this particular one was actually influenced by the last quote I picked. The next one shown is from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. I grew up with Harry Potter—I’ve been reading his books almost as long as I’ve been playing the piano, and that’s quite a while now. I would not love reading the way I do now, nor would I be the writer I am now without it. The third quote is the opening lines from The Great Gatsby. A contender for the title of Great American Novel, Gatsby was the first piece of Literature that I truly loved, particularly the character of Jordan Baker, golfer and consummate liar. I’m not sure what intrigued me about her, but I feel like she often gets pushed to the side far too often in analyses, and even in the book to some respect.


The last quote is a bit more obscure to the casual viewer, but I said it relates to the Shakespeare quote, and so I will make the connection. Each were said in a particular TV show, each by two different characters, and each to the other character. The Shakespeare is quoted first, to defend Man’s decision to venture out into “The Undiscovered Country”, and the second is after the other character shows the first why Man should have “[gone] back home and [crawled] under [their] bed.” It’s… it’s Star Trek guys. Specifically, “Q Who?”, from Season 2, introducing TV audiences for the very first time to the entity known as The Borg. Q has decided that if the human race insists on travelling onwards and outwards, that they should know what they are up against. And they are woefully unprepared. I like this quote because Q seems to understand that humans aren’t going to stop exploring, but that they should be mentally and emotionally prepared for what is to come, even if they don’t know what’s coming. Exploration and human endeavor require fortitude, strength, and perseverance. These are things I hope to have someday.