Memo to Self...

Thursday, September 20, 2001

Lots of blogging to do--Spanish, Amer. Lit, Writing Fiction, and Japanese. So I'm gonna split it into two entries: this Thursday one will be Amer. Lit and Writing Fiction, and then the next one, dated Monday, will deal with Spanish and Japanese. I'm still writing these all on my Monday break between Spanish and Japanese, but it's a nice bit of catchup. Plus, I can add material to the Japanese blog if necessary.

On another note, there's a book missing in this library. It is named American Gods, and from what I hear, kicks much boo-tey. I have been reading the library catalogue for it, and it finally showed up on Thursday. Rejoicing, I headed to the Gaiman section...and IT WAS GONE. More than that, the comp. says it hasn't been checked out. The people downstairs have no clue where it is. THE BOOK IS INVISIBLE, I tell you, INVISIBLE!

'Kay, 'nuff o' that, how about some...Amer.Lit?
In class we discussed the wonderful world of Tiggers. Not really, we talked more about Eliot's Wastey for the last time. Basically, she outlined everything in the poem for us. Nice of her, neh?
I. Burial of the Dead
General introduction; death and loss introduced early, especially in first few lines. People wish to be dead, ie wish to forget. Spiritual distruction already prominent.
First ideas of dryness--evident lack of water, rubble all around, a wasted, wasted land. Mme. Sosotris' fortunes, though she's regarded as not much more than a charlaten, all come true. The figures in her tarot show up throughout the poem.
Unreal city is here--work that is numbing in body and mind. All things beautiful become cold, dark, like the hyacinth girl who turns cold, wet, and dark.
II. Game of Chess
The very wealthy and the poor are snapshoted here. Rich woman and LIl have no connections in their life to their men, and Lil's friend goes from being rather nice to EVIL to her.
III. The Fire Sermon
FIre is the theme here, and Eliot balances the images of fire and has his contrasts of women.
IV. Death by Water
Water drowning him, theme expressed again--Wheel of Fortune
V. What the Thunder Said
The coming of rain and rebirth is important. Shows the fallen and reforming cities, all of that again.
No resolution to the poem. And it is the epitome of High Modernism.
(How did I suddenly get soooooooo tired?)
Now we have the Harlem Ren.--the biggest, most inmportant other group out of Modernism. Usually dated 1923-1929, though of course, others have differing opinions on this. It came about because with the de facto segregation in the South caused by the Jim Crow laws, lots of blacks went North into the cities there. The rise of Jazz also promoted this move up north. Harlem had been an old New York settlement, and by 1905 blacks were moving in. Slowed because of war preparations, but eventually became a pretty black neighborhood.
Talented Tenth--the top ten percent of blacks, who talent and intelligence and sophisitication would show whites how good they all were. (Rather like the trickle down theory of economy--silly.)
Harlem Ren. firsted used in 1925 in a newspaper account of the area. For awhile, Harlem was THE place to be, black or white. Then the stock market crashed in 1929, and the world fell away from Harlem.
Eatonville Anthology by Zora Neale Hurston:
The work as a whole is beautifully tucked together. The stories are like photographs with captions, slices of Eatonville life. If this was a novel, the main C would be Eatonville.
"How it Feels to be Colored Me" is such a strong work, in the same sense of strength that imbues most of Hurston's works. She recognizes discrimation and stereotypes, but she's who she is.
More on her next time.

Writing Fiction: Discussed the plot elements. Very quickly, there are two styles these days. One, the Classic, has exposition, conflict, rising action, climax/crisis moment, falling action, and resolution. The Contemporary model has the same sort of things, but in a different picture. The Classic looks like a triangle with two little lines out to the side. The Contemporary is an upside down check mark, or a backwards "he." Conflict starts early, and there's not a whole lot of either exposition or resolution.
Also discussed "Greenleaf" and how much fun it is to read Flannery O' Connor. And it is. Her imagery is so tense and well woven together. Very cool.

Dat's all for now. I am so in need of a nap, and I honestly don't know why. Jya!

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Back, and will be here for awhile. ~_~ (and it's COLD in here...)

American Lit: Our last day of T.S. Eliot! Oh, I cry...almost. I've come to really like and respect his poetry this past couple of classes, and I really do want to read more. We also got to hear a partial reading of the poem today by Eliot (on tape), and spiffy it was. But onto notes...

  • One of Eliot's subtler themes is the beauty around people that they don't see. This is not so much apparent in this poem, but it does show up in some poems.
  • Another juxtaposition: in the "Game of Chess," Queen Elizabeth and her lover are placed alongside the typist and her lover. This shows how much both of these characters have no real regard for those that they're sleeping with, though the image of QE's lover is much happier than the typist. Another example of Eliot bringing something into the present and showing how distorted it is.
  • There are some images of order in the poem. The game of chess, for one. The bar scene is another, but the bigger figure in that scene (and in the section "A Game of Chess") is time. The fact that time orders our lives is shown in the ageing of the characters in AGoC, and the strict rules of the bar in Britain (the bartender ordering everyone out at a specific time). Time and chess are both imposed orders on essentially chaotic systems.
  • This part is kinda disjointed, but in the section "What the Thunder Said," the DA-DA-DA lines break the poem into sections on Sympathy, Self-Control, and Compassion...though not in that order. The key mentioned later is the ability to think beyond or outside ourselves.
  • In review of some of the aspects of the poem, there's fragmentation/the feeling of collage (in which Eliot pulls bits and pieces of things he knows and stitches them together to create a whole). The allusions he uses are part of this, as well as giving the poem an additional layer of meaning. The poem has quite a surreal quality to it, in part created by his use of collage. There's also no one consistent speaker all throughout the poem, BUT there is a unitary voice that comes through in fragmented pieces, which works for the transistional nature of the poem. Lastly, the main activity in the poem is construction, or just before construction. Everything has fallen to pieces BUT there is the possibility of rebuilding.

Just in general, Eliot is fascinated by moments that can be both Birth and Death, beginning and ending, especially if it's not immediately clear what the difference is. This appears more in "Journey of the Magi."
Also, the Eliot estate apparently charges huge sums of money to print lines of his poetry. I like this NOT.

Writing Fiction: Discussed more about the Gardner book, techniques to use, and all that. Reviewed "be" verbs, so I'll list those real quick:am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, had, have, has. These act as equal signs in sentences. The rest of the stuff, we just discussed the story and how to vary sentence structure.

LPG class: Talked about just a couple of things (that I got notes on.)

  • There are three sorts of classifcations linguists use when talking about conversation. The most general is the speech situation, which is anytime language is used within an activity. The next specific is speech event, which is a conversation within the speech situation. Last is a speech act, which is a particular use of language for a particular purpose.
  • Direct speech acts vs. indirect speech acts.

    • Direct speech acts are when the form and function of the speech are in harmony, when the intent of the speaker matches the grammatical form of the phrase. Imperatives and casual speech are in this category.
    • Indirect speech acts are when the form and function are not in harmony, and the intent of the speaker does not synch up with their grammar. These speech acts are considered more polite.

I'm gonna stop here, as I will have to go soon. Jya!

Monday, September 17, 2001

I have lots of stuff to post because I didn't get around to much Blogging this weekend. I actually need to go back and add some notes, too, at least to last Tuesday's blog.
Sooo, here goes!

American Lit: More discussion of Eliot and his Waste(land). I came into class late because I was preparing some stuff down the hall in the computer lab for my next class. The Prof was okay with it, 'cause I snuck in like a late student should. (Seriously, she was all right 'cause I didn't disturb her lecture when I entered the class. I'll try not to make it a habit though.)
Motto for this section: Poems of an earlier age might be monuments or portraits. Those of the Modernists are experiences of what is still, and still moving. Fitting, IMO.
As we go on, our discussions of the material become much less concrete. Which jives very well with the poem (I keep wanting to call it "Wastey"...*grrr*), since as it moves into section five, things become surreal and unreal and rather grotesque. This is where the climax should be building, really doesn't.
The three river daughters of the Thames who speak in section III come from the old Norse myths about the three river daughters of the Rhine. However, everytime Eliot brings the past into the present, there's something wrong with it. The Rhine daughters sing of the beauty of their river. The Thames daughters sing of the ugliness and pollution in theirs.
Eliot uses something called a "metaphysical conceit," which is borrowed from the metaphysical poets. Essentially, they liked to bring two dissimiliar things together and show how alike they were. Pretty spiffy, but it makes Eliot seem contradictory.
Eliot also uses a bunch o' specific images to convey his mood, such as dryness, broken things, disconnected or dead people. He also uses the opposing forces of fire and water and their own internal conflict (of sorts. Elements can't really be conflicted, I guess) for different parts of the poem. For example, in Section Two, fire is used in its good sense--to bring light and heat, warm and joy. Yet later on in "The Fire Sermon," fire is used to represent sin, passion, liscentiousness, obsessions--the fires of Hell. The theme of sight-vision needs the light of fire, but if it grows too big it'll burn the eyes out. (eeegh, creeepy.)
More than fire, though, water is represented in its duel form. Water kills both Phlebas and the Fisher King, yet is instrumental and NEEDED for the land's salvation and renewal. Water that kills but saves, fire that burns but helps. Both of these act as bridges.
Tiresias is another bridge figure: sight and sightless, man and woman, a character in the poem yet not a character, living even when dead.

Writing Fiction: Discussed character and ways to define them.

    Five Ways of Characterization
  • Indirect Characterization: Also called "authorial interpretation." Used in fairy tales and similar tales; detached from reader, not drawn in. "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is a good example of this.
  • Direct characterization:when a person directly characterizes themself.

    • Appearance
      > these two are obvious, and go together
    • Action
    • Speech--summarized, indirect thought, dialogue
    • Thought--summary, indirect thought, direct interior monologue.

That's it for now. Spanish and Japanese notes this evening. 'Til then, jya!