Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I’m not sure who said it first, but the quote “You are who your friends are” came to mind when reading about Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. While I have heard this quote before and thought it to be true in some cases, I never believed it to be as true as in the case of Plath and Sexton. Both women were plagued by depression and it seems like they bonded over it too. In “Sylvia’s Death”, Sexton refers to suicide as “our boy” telling us that they had clearly discussed the topic several times. I think it is safe to say they were both obsessed with death. There are so many similarities between the two poets. Besides their suicides, they were feminists who practiced confessional poetry and both from Massachusetts. I feel like it is hard to analyze either poet’s work without thinking about their suicides and basically how morbid their minds were. I know after reading their bios that was stuck in the back of my head. I mean Plath even mentions one of her suicide attempts in “Daddy”, so it is hard not to focus on that.
Overall, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the poems we read, but since I am from Massachusetts I felt in the loop with the references!
What did you guys find?
A brief bit of background: The MLA is currently circulating a resolution to all of its members for commentary. This resolution essentially argues that tenure should be available to all university professors--full and part time. As I'm sure you're all aware, there is a very large mass of part time/"adjunct" professors here at GWU (and elsewhere). In fact, yours truly is one of them.
As I was reading through these comments, I was taken aback by the one that I've quoted, in part, below. The comment is in support of the resolution, but I was struck by some of the reasons why. Here are the reasons that struck me:
"Part-time employees, although not necessarily expected to produce scholarship, are nonetheless an integral part of a department's labor force. They often have more time to devote to students and are fundamental to the development of introductory courses that prepare students for upper-level courses taught by tenured faculty. Furthermore, they are routinely subjected to harsher criticism (and lower scores on evaluative materials) because they teach required courses to non-majors who resent them (for example, non-English majors in a composition course)."
I'm curious--sincerely curious--about your reactions to these statements, particularly the closing ones about non-majors taking courses taught by adjunct professors. I guess what I'm asking is this: What is it like taking a course like ours--an intro level lit course--that is required for English majors but is also available for Gen Ed credit? In cases like these, do you find that being a "non-major" in a particular department is a disadvantage?
Again, I'm not asking you to weigh in on me, our course, or other specific professors (and specific courses). You certainly have plenty of time to reflect on our class--here and elsewhere. I think I'm just interested in hearing about your experiences are as students in the contemporary university. Feel free to weigh in below. And no, none of this will impact your final grades ;-)
There’s something heroic about the way my fans operate cameras. So precisely and intricately, and so proudly. Like kings writing the history of their people. It’s their prolific nature that both creates and procures what will later be perceived as the kingdom. So, the real truth about Lady Gaga fans lies in this sentiment: They are kings. They are the queens. They write the history of the kingdom, while I am something of a devoted jester. It is in the theory of perception that we have established our bond. Or, the lie, I should say, for which we kill. We are nothing without our image. Without our projection. Without the spiritual hologram of who we perceive ourselves to be, or rather to become in the future. When you’re lonely, I’ll be lonely too. And this is the fame."
I think it is interesting how she likens fame to the leadership of kings and queens (her fans) to bring her illusory kingdom. She admits being a "jester", someone who plays games and jokes, no one with any real power.
I don't want to get too far into Lady Gaga philosophy, but I've read many pieces where people believe that Lady Gaga is trying to show us that fame is mind control. For those who have seen it, the Paparazzi video shows Lady Gaga as a slave to the media, killing her boyfriend to gain the limelight back after she had previously lost it. In the Telephone video, she goes on to poison an entire diner full of people while reciting "stop calling, stop calling, I don't want to think anymore", alluding to the fact that she has lost all communication with herself. In one article, someone mentioned that in the video that I posted, Lady Gaga is electroshocked, possibly in an effort to shake her out of her dazed stupor.
The video itself is pretty disturbing, but although the message is cold, it is nice to hear someone acknowledge the illusions of our society in an artful and intelligent way. Is fame just as disturbing as these images?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
I found “One Art” to be an immensely sad poem. Elizabeth Bishop begins the poem by saying “The art of losing isn’t hard to master”. I’m sure this first line is something we can all agree with. I know I have lost many times in life whether it’s a material object, a basketball game, or something bigger like friends or loved ones.
Bishop starts with small things that don’t seem to have a huge impact if lost such as door keys. They’re frustrating to lose, but life will go on. She moves on to bigger things as the stanzas progress. Next is “places and names”-- A little bigger than a set of keys, but still not a disaster if you lose them. “Houses”, “cities”, “a continent”—she has lost these things by moving. Many people find it sad to leave the house they grew up in or make a big move to a different place, but with time they learn that it isn’t such a big deal. Then finally, Bishop hits us with the big one—a person. She loses someone close to her, yet is trying to convince us (as well as herself) that although it may look like a disaster at the time, life will go on. We can see Bishop clearly has a hard time accepting the loss when she writes “(Write it!)”. She is forcing herself to accept the loss and move on. She uses the first 5 stanzas to build up to this loss, to try and belittle the feelings of great loss.
I just found it depressing that Bishop deals with the pain of a loss by comparing it to other less significant losses in her life. I guess everyone deals with pain differently… a lot like the Bundren family.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
In the latest issue of The New Yorker, classical music critic/blogger Alex Ross talks about a recent gathering of the world's most powerful orchestras on Carnegie Hall's stage. The Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh orchestras, the New York Philharmonic, and the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra were just a few that were there.
I thought this concept was interesting. Ross points out "The impulse to pit one orchestra against another is as regrettable as it is irresistible. In 1928, Wilhelm Furtwängler, the most relentlessly deep-thinking of conductors, bemoaned what he considered the American habit of “seeing things from the point of view of sport,” but even by then the “Who’s on top?” tendency had become universal."
Sometimes music is just meant to be enjoyed and the superiority of the orchestra should be pushed aside for the listener's own sake. This reminded me of cperkal's post on interchangeable parts and how as Americans, we seem to want to find the most efficient, competitive and profitable model so we can be ready for competition. In the case of simply enjoying music, do these principles still apply?
The New Yorker article can be found here.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
by Carl Sandburg
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
Tomorrow I will get on a plane, fly six hundred miles and land at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, which I have considered to be my second home for nearly two decades.
I could have probably gotten away with spending my Spring Break in Florida, or California, or Nashville, or somewhere else just a little warmer and more picturesque. I wouldn't have gone to any of those places if someone payed me. I love Chicago and I love flying in from over it, looking at the lights that seem to extend on forever in one direction and cut off at Lake Michigan in another.
I think there is a lot of truth in this poem. Chicago is definitely wicked, crooked, brutal. It is often an ugly city; deteriorating structures, regular murders, corruption, pungent smells rising from the sewers. It is a flawed, extreme environment. But I think all that is part of what makes it truly alive, and in a way humanistic. I don't think there is more of a realistic amalgamation of what life in the world is really about, with its beautiful sights, ugly blemishes and all.
I will stay for a night in the city proper, go to an Irish punk show on St. Patrick's Day, and go to the Art Institute of Chicago to look at Monets and Renoirs the next day. I couldn't be more excited.
This post will be cross-posted on my personal blog, Kaini Industries.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Dries van Noten's fall collection spoke wonders to me, offering a fantastical distraction from a world of confusion.
After watching a behind the scenes video, I discovered that van Noten used a song from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo called "Scene d'amour". This is somewhat fitting since Vertigo (although I have not seen it, my mom has described it to me) is about a man who finds himself involved with a woman that has seemingly split personalities- her identity is not concrete.
This made me want to look into the elements of the show. There is a strange, lonely element of the runway; although the surroundings are warm and well decorated, it is still very large and in many ways, very impersonal. The models are introduced in fairly conservative clothing, their heels clicking coldly on the hardwood floors as if there is nothing around them to absorb the sound. They are all alone. The soundtrack, as beautiful as it is, has an annoying shouting dubbed over it, making it hard to concentrate on what is going on around you. About halfway through the show, the shouting subsides, and the strings completely take over. It is at this moment that the designer starts to introduce bright color- the conservative elements begin to fade away and floral patterns flood the eye.
I thought of this change of color and personality as an escape from the confusing world around us. The woman no longer has a conflicting identity crisis as she did at the beginning of the show, where she had to cover up her true colors with plain jackets, coats and puffy skirts. In this moment of clarity, devoid of shouting (you can finally hear yourself think!) van Noten's woman is unafraid to just "be". It is less an act of defiance as it is an honest communication with one's inner self.
I think it's important to note that van Noten is a gardener, so it is quite likely that his idea of a "natural state" is one of floral prints and earth tones.
But enough about what I think... what do you think? I have friends that were not a fan of this collection at all, saying it was "boring" and "uninventive". Personally (if you couldn't tell), I thought it was brilliant.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
While this is hilarious (and has nothing to do with Faulkner or modernism, I might add), I have to ask myself: What would poor Lewis Carroll think?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
For any non-LOST viewers, it begins when, in 2004, a plane crashes on a mysterious Island and 40 some survivors attempt to stay alive and get rescued. While stuck on the island for 108 days, we get an intimate view on about 15 of the main character's lives. To make a long story short, 6 of the survivors get rescued and later return, the rest are temporarily and randomly stuck on the island travelling through time, there is a giant smoke monster thing and enigmatic people on the island, and countless historical and literary references throughout the entire show. There's no simple way to explain it.
Somewhere in the small portion of remaining my brain tissue I thought, "Huh, this is kind of like Faulkner." Of course not the time travel and smoke monsters, but the narration style of the television show. Throughout all 5 and a half seasons, the show is constantly jumping back and forth. On the island, off the island. 3 years flashback, 3 years flash forward. And NOW there is a whole other "sideways" dimension in which the characters live their lives as if the plane never crashed! Like Faulkner, no? He jumps from narrator to narrator, writing only jumbled thoughts and occassional long scenes, Darl being the most descriptive and useful. Even though I had read As I Lay Dying in the past, it's amazing how much I missed or didn't pick up on from the unique writing style. Similar to LOST, Faulkner always keeps you guessing and makes you think.
Almost done, I promise! So, because this is an American Literature class, I thought I would share another interesting facet of LOST. Like I said, the show is riddled with historical and literary references. One of the main characters, Sawyer, reads constantly and relates much of island life to the books he's reading. I'm happy to announce that LOST has its own book club. There is a great selection, a lot of it from authors we've read (sadly no Faulkner). It's not every day you find a TV show that combines a love for history, sci-fi, and literature all at once.
Monday, March 1, 2010
One part of the authors' theory is that the news media perpetuate negative stereotypes about black people, through their heavy focus on crime stories involving Blacks in local news.
They rest their theory on data gleaned from a survey of the racial attitudes White Americans. The survey data shows that most White people are ambivalent toward Blacks. That is, they would be classified somewhere between "animosity" towards Blacks and "comity or brotherhood" with Blacks.
The authors say the most dangerous characteristic of many White Americans' racial attitudes is their denial of anti-Black discrimination. If people don't think discrimination even exists, the authors say, there is no hope of improving things, because these people will oppose changes and policies seeking to achieve racial equality.
What do you think?
What would Zora and Hughes think?
It's called Eatonville as a tribute to Zora Neale Hurston!
Their menu has some classic Southern comfort food like, gumbo, a crispy chicken breast, and pecan pie!!
Sounds delicious, I know I'll be checking it out soon!