Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Good Vibrations

So I stole the title of the last "unit" in our class from the band Explosions in the Sky--specifically from their album The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place. Released in 2003, the same year that Sherman Alexie published "Do Not Go Gentle," the album suggests, to me at least, a certain amount of hope--life--in the post-9/11 era. And that's why I used their title as an organizing scheme for the last few of our classes--adding the question mark to encourage all of you to interrogate whether or not the final literary selections present us with a world that is not cold and dead.

Given our vibrator discussion today, I think it's appropriate that you all listen closely to the drumming (and opening guitars) on EITS's "First Breath After Coma," the lead track on Earth. After listening, use the comments section to do some wordplay, to stretch out our discussions from class, or to comment on my good taste in music.

"First Breath After Coma" (you can ignore the visuals)


  1. It is literally a heartbeat with what it sounds like hospital monitors beeping along with. From the rest of the song I gather that the bands view in the Age of Terror is very optimistic. And around the 2:45 mark the quick beating on the drums gives me an image of the American Revolutionary soldiers as they kept rhythm. Patriotic as well as hope inspiring.

  2. I think this is the longest song I have ever heard composed by a band! After yesterday's discuss, I definitely get the vibe that the drumbeats are like heartbeats.

    I agree that both the album and Alexie's piece espouse an optimistic outlook. We have had some tough and scary times in this country, particularly 9/11 and its aftermath. But as long as we're alive there will always be hope. The Earth can be cold at times (figuratively speaking), but indeed, it is NOT dead.

  3. Also, I want to raise a few points about the layout of the Norton, in which there are pieces of work written prior to 9/11 in the category of "Writing in the Time of Terror".

    I cannot help but feel that including literature written before 9/11 was an attempt by the publishers to assemble a more likable and neatly-packed book, in which they deliberately put certain pieces alongside work about 9/11. I'm all about crafting a message and being strategic--I am a politics aficionado--but, for literary purposes I disagree with what they did.

    9/11 was not our first exposure to terrorism. The previous decade saw the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the first attempt to destroy the World Trade Centers, and the Oklahoma City bombings. With that said, is it possible that the "Time of Terror" actually started before 9/11?

    Even if it arguably did, the publishers of Norton consciously and deliberately mark 9/11 as the advent of the "Time of Terror". I disagree then with their inclusion of work in that section that was written prior to 9/11. By indicating 9/11 as the beginning of the period, they effectively are saying if you wrote before the attacks, then you were not writing in the "Time of Terror"--yet they included such writings in the section.

  4. Terrorism is definitely not a new occurrence, but 9/11 definitely brought it out in the open for US citizens. It was the beginning of a new decade, with an advent of new technologies and optimism, and then the attacks occurred. I believe the Norton defined the "Time of Terror" as beginning with the 9/11 attacks because it has so much impact--basically, start with something huge to define a period.

    I thought I'd just leave with a Four Tet remix of EiTS's Catastrophe and the Cure. I don't usually care for remixes, but seeing this post made me remember it. I hate youtube's new layout, btw.


  5. I can totally hear the heart beat in this song, which I really like by the way, however I still cannot wrap my mind around a vibrator symbolizing a heart beat. Sorry, its just too far of a stretch for me.

  6. I think 9/11 is marked at the most significant terrorist attack in recent history and caused the biggest rise in patriotism and whatnot and the discrimination against arabs etc... so beginning it with 9/11 does not seem unreasonable but i agree with the fact that it does not make sense to incorporate older material if it is before the said-cutoff

  7. something in the Norton introduction to "writing in a time of terror" definitely relates to this string of posts right here. The last two sentences of this section says, "In dark times, wrote the philosopher Hannah Arendt, who fled Nazi Germany, 'we are reconciled to the world through lament, and through an ever-recurrent narration, a telling-over of what took place,' whose meanings keep unfolding. Whether in prose or poetry, the writers in this section take their place with others who have given us the tellings of dark times" (p.3205).

    I guess what it's trying to say is that, even though 9/11 was the most catastrophically massive traumatic event that has happened to date within the US, we can for this reason, acknowledge reactions to the event, as we can review all reactions to all catastrophes (such as the Holocaust, Oklahoma City Bombing, and others) as being its own movement in literature.

  8. Alex J, Just remember that the narrator's wife was using the vibrator like a drumstick in the stroy. Does that change your mind?

    All of you are asking good questions about The Norton. They are important ones. Keep it up!

    Lila, I appreciate the link to the Four Tet remix. Full disclosure: I actually ripped off the title "Catastrophe and the Cure" for an anthology that I'm assembling with a colleague of mine. I overlooked the deluxe edition of All of a Sudden I miss Everyone when it came out because I tend not to like remixes, and I have to say, I'm not crazy about this one. I understand what remixes need to do, but leaving out the jaw-dropping climax of the original track is just so, so, so wrong.