Memo to Self...

Thursday, September 13, 2001

Following the example of Starrynight and my profs, I'm going to use this just as a forum for blogging. Also, I have time--I missed my only class today. -_- I'm not happy about that.

American Lit: In something many of us thought fitting, we began discussing T.S. Eliot's Wasteland today. Before I get to that monster of a poem, I should go into a bit more about Eliot's theories of criticism. For one thing, unlike most Modernists, Ezra Pound proclaimed that Eliot had "modernized himself"--meaning that he came to these theories without some sort of mentor like Pound--and this earned him a lot of respect. Also, his essays on criticism influenced and still influence critics today. His three big contributions/theories:
literary history: The concept that the bulk of great literature stand outside of time, or above time, that the sense of progress (like scientific progress) doesn't mean the same thing in lit. In science, progress moves us steadily forward; in literature, it moves in a circular way. Works of the future are influenced by works of the past, but then those past works are in turn influenced by their future counterparts. Pretty nifty, IMHO.
impersonality: A work of art is outside the life of its creator, even if he includes part of himself or his experiences in the work. Keat's referred to this as "negative capability"--a poet has no identity when he writes his poetry, he is merely filling another body. In modern terms, we described this in class as, "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV." Another way was to refer to the poet as a dam, and the river of creation that ran through him turned the turbines of his mind and produced the electricity of work creation (be it poetry or prose). The important thing here is that he did not believe that the creative spirit was intrinsic to him.
objective correlative: This is more an Eliot technique than a critical theory. He took words, images, selected characters and pieces of older works, and used them to form a sort of collage (or pastiche, if you will) of a feeling without stating it. Part of Eliot's modernist view was that people are detached from pieces of themselves. For example, Dante and the metaphysical poets (whom he admired very much), he thought that they were whole in the sense that their mind-emotions(soul)-body were all aligned together. In Eliot's view, though, WWI and Modern times fractured people, so that their parts were no longer aligned. He referred to this as dissociation of sensibility.For instance, in The Wasteland, a woman has sex with her co-worker, an action that should inspire intimacy and love in her. It doesn't; she's so disconnected it means nothing to her. Also, I have noted down, "alienated from herself and the world." These are big themes in Eliot's poems.
A Few Prof. Pieces of "Prufrock" Info
*Major movement in the poem is towards the QUESTION--though no one really knows what the question is. His words around it mirror the twisty streets at the beginning. There are three levels of self in the poem--the first level is his outward appearance, the social level, that tells the first part of the poem; the second level of the poem is the internal monologue, the self he addresses in the poem; the third level is his dream and imagination, represented by the mermaids and the sea. This is all drowned under the sea--it's inaccessible to reality. The last line, "Until human voices wake us, and we drown" refers to how both of his parts are connected to this third level, but cannot do as they desire and live in it. Reality drowns the soul in water, making it barely accessible, until your dreams can only be glimpsed through the surface of the pool of your subconcious.

(Eliot really brings out the poet in me. I have great sympathy with him and his ideas.)

On "Waste"...
This is the larger world that Prufrock lives in. It's not a happy place. It's also not an easy poem to read. There's no continuous line of thought, no definte description of anything, and a total absence of order.
There are two big themes here are:
*There's loss of life, loss of death, loss of beauty-teeth-physically good appearance, innocence, youth, eyes-sight-vision, meaning-perspective. Because of the pastiche nature of the poem, a lot of these fit together but show up in different ways around the poem. It's an Eliot trademark. There are also pairs of people put together in the poem, like Lil and the upper class woman, or the two people in the "Game of Chess" section, the woman on the throne and her man. In the women, we can see their appearances fading, and the knowledge that they're growing older, but have nothing to SHOW for it. In the couple, we can see that they've been together for awhile, but don't FEEL as if they have anything together anymore. They've lost touch with each other.
*For this theme, Eliot makes use of the Fisher King legend, which tells the story of a King who sacrafices himself for his land so it will survive. It corresponds with the seasons, and the title of the poem, which is winter, when the Fisher King's death has happened yet or brought about the rebirth of the land. A secondary sequence of this is the Grail legends, in which a person goes on a quest to find something to heal the land. Also, vegetation myths and creation myths come into play. The connecting theme for Eliot is the dying hero.

Whew. There will be more Eliot stuff tomorrow. I'm enjoying this a lot, if you couldn't tell. :) Also, on my book list: From Ritual to Remembrance, which is the book that REALLY influenced Eliot a bunch.

Writing Fiction: Discussed the stories and how the descriptions and dialogue in them really conveyed the tone and feeling in the story. I also have some common errors of John Gardner's that I haven't noted here:
The three parts of a sentence are S-V-O: Subject-Verb-Object. These sentence parts should not be loaded up with too mnay modifying phrases (Adv. phrases, Adj. phrases, prep phrases, etc.) otherwise it'll just be a tedious read.
Filtering is when things are viewed through a character, and it's not the best technique...oops.
Adverbs are weak words. Verbs are STRONG words. Avoid passive voice and redoubling of meaning on the verb with descriptive phrases--use the verb to create the image.
Be careful with the psychic distance you create--the distance between the reader and the story. (actually, I'm not quite sure what I meant by this, but it's in my notes.)
"Show, don't tell." (DETAILS!)
Vary sentence length. Play around a little. Don't be too worried if you break the rules. (Suuuuuuuuuree...)

*WHEW* I'm done, I'm done! Jya ne, 'til tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Hey all. Gonna try to make this quick, as I just somehow lost my last attempt at posting. *siiigh*

Japanese: Err, frustrating. Sensei is new and...I think this is gonna take some time to work out. We (sorta) took a quiz, then reviewed body parts and their kanji. A good list of them can be found here. Then we broke into groups and discussed our families. Our quiz and descriptions of our families, friends, and what we do with them is due next week. In the meantime, I'll be looking for kanji help, which'll probably end up being posted here.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Hello hello hello to all! It's my two class, long wait day, so I thought I'd get this done. Well, really, I wanted to get this done, 'cause I won't be home until later this evening, and I'll have Japanese notes to post then.

On another note, doing Japanese homework and self-learning the kanji can be...dare I say it? almost fun. We have to draw our family tree and then describe our family members--which one should never do in pen, NEVER!--and after a few sheets of paper, I think I finally got the tree done. I'm putting off doing the descriptions until a little before class, 'cause that way I can review vocab. Anyhoo, I went to title it "my family" and realized I had no clue what the word for "family" was. Turns out it's made up of two (strange) kanji--"house" and "tribe." I think this makes elegant sense. :)

Okay, okay, Spanish:
We took a quiz. I forgot that "producir" gets a "j" in the preterite, so I messed that one...and I found that writing irregular forms in the nosotros is strangely unnerving. "imos"? "emos"? AHH! (It's "imos" if you didn't want to scroll down and check *g*). Also, I forgot the "i" in my vosotros. I should note those forms here really quick, so....
Vosotros forms!
hee hee that sounds like a superhero band..
Present -ar: áis
Present -er: éis
Present -ir: ís
Preterite -ar: asteis
Preterite -er/-ir: isteis
Imperfect -ar: abais
Imperfect -er/-ir: íais
Basically, it's just adding an "i" or "is" to the tu form. It doesn't stem change, either, and most students aren't taught it since they're not gonna use it unless they go to Spain. But it's good to have up here, since I can earn extra credit for knowing it.

After the quiz, we went through some preterite and imperfect exercises, first out loud, then in groups. My little group may have been a minority, but we argued and argued over some of those pret/imperfect uses. La señora helped us and empathized with us, and it seems that like "wa" and "ga" in Japanese, the use of preterite and imperfect is something that'll vary from person to person. Someone needs to go dig up the sacred scrolls or enshrined stones which have the exact usages, because the disciples who first brought these grammar concepts unto the people really botched things. Ah vel...asi es la vida.

In other notes, Ki is back, Ki is back! (well, has been back. Her return is a preterite usage, I do believe.) In honor of her, I write a little poem:

Bounce bounce bounce
Does the genki Ki
She makes me smile

Write write write
Urges the serious Ki
She is my muse

Through the keys we share lives
Even with distance
She's an incredible friend

*blush blush blush*
Is the reddening Ty
But it had to be said somewhere, neh?

Okay, I'm gonna end this post before I go back and edit and write MORE about Ki and then I'll have to write one about mi amante and Starrynight and things'll just be MESSY. :) Ta ta!

Err...hi everyone. I know it's Sunday, and I have had classes since Tuesday, but...err...sorry. I had work on Wed, Rday was mi B-day, I did a 9 to 5 on Fri and closed yesterday. Plus I been chillin', and really strangely tired. But no matter my excuses! These sorts of study habits will lead me down the road of destruction and less than good grades! BAD ME! *whomps self*

Okay, now that I'm down with the self-flagellation, let's get down to business.

Spanish: Guess what kids? It's preterite and imperfect time! Yes, one of the banes of Spanish grammar is its double past tense (the others are: por vs. para, the uses of the subjunctive, and ser vs. estar, though the last one isn't SO bad). Once explained correctly, it's all right, but there are little nuances to it that just BITE. In essence, the preterite is used for completed past actions, and the imperfect is used for repeated past actions, descriptions, and that sort of thing. My favorite explanation of this came from my Prof last semester. He said that if time can be represented on a graph, then the imperfect is a sine or cosine graph--a never ending curve. The preterite, on the other hand, represents points on that line, actions already done.

Enough of that, here's what the worksheet says:

  • To describe single events in the past that are considered completed.
    Ex: Nací en Puerto Rico (I was born in Puerto Rico).
  • To describe events that took place a specific number of times.
    Ex: Comí tres veces en el restaurante la semana pasada. (Last week I ate in the restaurant three times.)
  • To express the beginning or end of a past action.
    Ex: Se conocieron en abril y se mudaron juntos en Mayo. (They met in April and moved in together in May.)
  • To express mental or emotional reactions in the past.
    Ex: Me enojé. (I got angry.)

This last one demonstrates an important difference between pret and imperfect. Pret is used for actions of sudden occurence, a swift change--in fact, any change at all from the normal past state.
Common words used with pret are: ayer, anteayer, anoche, una vez-dos veces (once, twice), el mes pasado, el lunes pasado, de repente (suddenly, which goes along with that "sudden change" part of pret.)

  • To describe past actions in progress
    Ex: Que estabas haciendo? (What were you doing?)
  • To describe habitual actions in the past (something you always did).
    Ex: Cuando era niña, leía mucho. (When I was a child, I read a lot.)
  • To describe mental or physical states in the past (characteristics)
    Ex: Mi hermana tenía el pelo largo. (My sister had long hair.)
  • To tell time in the past. SIEMPRE. This is a use that belongs totally to the imperfect. Also, location, weather, and age are imperfect attributes.
    Ex: Era muy temprano. Eran las seis o las siete. (It was very early. It was six or seven o'clock.)
  • To set the scene of what was happening when another event took place.
    Ex: Dormía cuando llamaron. (I was sleeping when they called.)
    Mi amigo veía el final mientras hablaba con su novia. (My friend was watching the end while he was talking with his girlfriend.)
    (NOTE: Guys, I do not recommend this. Your corpus collosum's are too small for it. It'll just tick her off.)
  • To talk about subsequently planned actions using ir + a + infinitive in the past. SIEMPRE for this, too.
    Ex: Ibamos a ir al cine. (We were going to go to the movies.)

Words frequently used with the imperfect are: todos los (time--dias, lunes, etc); siempre, frecuentamente, mientras, de niña/o, de joven; was ___ing, were ___ing, used to, would (when would implies used to in English.)

The imperfect conjugation is easy, so I won't even review it here. The only irregulars are ir, ser, and ver:
ir: iba, ibas, iba, íbamos, iban.
ser: era, eras, era, éramos, eran.
ver: veía, veías, veía, veíamos, veían.

Along with figuring out how to use imperfect and pret, there's also the fact that some verbs (MAJOR verbs) change meaning depending on which tense you use them in. Curious? Well, here they are!

conocí: I met, I made the acquaintance of.
conocía: I knew, was acquainted with
costó: It cost (after purchasing) (the finalized price)
costaba: It cost (before purchasing) (since there's no set price yet)
pude: I was able to and DID
podía: I was in the position to
no pude: I tried but couldn't
no podía: I couldn't, was not able to
quise: I tried to
quería: I wanted to
no quise: I refused, would not
no quería: I didn't want to
supe: I learned, found out
sabía: I knew, knew how to, had the knowledge to
tuve: I had, received
tenía: I had (in my posession)
tuve que: I had to do something, and I did it
tenía que: I had to something, but I didn't necessarily do it

You can see some of the distinctions are PitB (pain in the butt) ones, but it's kinda nice that Spanish follows these tenses so rigorously that they've changed verb meanings to reflect it. Unless you go to Spain, where they tend to avoid the pret. and use a compound past tense instead. (haber + past particple) *sigh* I love you, español...

American Lit: I gave my lecture! End of story. Forgot my outline for it, though, but managed to pass off my discussion notes for it. Whoops. ^^;. She said I did a really good job, though.

Writing Fiction: Discussed the stories (that I forgot to read!) and got into groups about our descriptions with tension. I winged in through the discussion, but my description wasn't too bad, minus the out-to-forever margins (to keep it one page) and the lack of title. Our next assignment is on voice--we have to write the beginning of a story from two different perspectives. I'll see what I can dig up for a beginning. :)

WHEW! I think that's it. Tomorrow is Spanish and Japanese again--and I should really get my vocab up for that class...