March 31, 2007

the BI ble SALES man DID n't GET a SMILE.

"He who losest his life shall find it," he said simply and he was so sincere, so genuine and earnest that Mrs. Hopewell would not for the world have smiled.

Flannery O'Connor, "Good Country People"

Disciple; God's student - that's Pointer here.
No smile is granted; Matthew's verse is strong,
but not for Mistress Hopewell. That is clear.
A Christian; she's devout, but strung along.

"Who finds his life shall lose it;" hold this dear,
"but he that loses life for Christ," no wrong,
"his life, it will be found." So Matthew's cheer
proclaims. This Manley Pointer says so strong.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 4:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2007

Learned Racial Prejudice and Behavior

"If you seen one you didn't know what he was," Mr. Head said, completely exasperated. "A six-month-old child don't know a nigger from anybody else."

Flannery O'Connor, "The Artificial Nigger"

The battle for racial equality is still ongoing, making discussion of the more opinionated stances difficult and easily tip-toed around.
In the opening pages of Flannery O'Connor's "The Artificial Nigger," Mr. Head makes a point that is one such tip-toed around stance. Nelson doesn't know what the physical differences between the races are due to lack of exposure. The only differences he knows are those that have been inflicted upon him. Mr. Head states it from the point of view of Nelson's naivety as a downfall rather than a more natural un-biased opinion.
In class last night, Dr. Jerz shared a story about the maturing of his young daughter when it came to terms of racial prejudice. Racial prejudice isn't in-born; as is proven by the bold expression of Mr. Head and the innocence of the young lady Jerz. It is rather learned from an environment - like most strongly opinionated viewpoints.
In order to have strong motive behind racially prejudiced behavior, an understanding of the differences that are disapproved - and why - must be established. While Nelson hasn't been exposed to the actually physical differences, his behavior has already been established in his particular environment.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 9:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 28, 2007

There is Only One Epistémé - And Nothing Else

Epistémé (discursive formation): Based on the Greek word epistēmē, which means knowledge, a term used by twentieth-century French philosophical historian Michel Foucault to refer to: (1) a network of discursive practices - of thoughts, concepts, and cultural codes - dominant during a given historical period; and (2) the rules governing the transformation of those practices.

Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms

There isn't anything outside of the epistémé. Basically the epistémé is every thought that occurs over a given time-frame. No, the time-frame isn't fixed it just flows into the next time-frame when people start thinking in the terms of that epistémé.

An epistémé isn't the same thing as ideology - bummer too, because that seems to be the easiest way to make heads or tales of what an epistémé actually is. The reason epistémé leaves ideology in the dust is because there are things outside of an ideology. There is nothing outside of the current epistémé, because the epistémé "governs the way that people perceive and approach the world at any given time."

What a confusing little word - though I will say, it's fun to have a blog entry up that includes so many accent marks . . . you go epistémé.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 8:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There is No Center to Find; Which is Why We Search

[L]anguage bears within itself the necessity of its own critique. . . . their [rules of language] relative efficacy is exploited, and they are employed to destroy the old machinery to which they belong and of which they themselves are pieces.

Jacques Derrida, "Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"

Jacques Derrida - I think you need to tutor me in language.

Language doesn't stay structured. Derrida argues that there is no structure that can be examined structurally, but that without a structure, there is no language. (Yes, it is circular; you did read that correctly.)

The guidelines set down for language are constantly broken - but they are broken because they are there. As Derrida put it, the rules of language are used to destroy the rules of language - and it is only because the rules of language are presented through the confines of the medium of language that they can do so.

Or, at least, I think that is what he meant.

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 8:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Text Inside the Text

We may prefer one context to another, but we could never point to the poem to ground that preference, could never claim one perspective was more "illuminating" than another, for the idea of what counted as illumination would itself be determined within the context we were defending. By such reasoning we simultaneously undercut our structures while revealing our inability to do without them.

"Poststructural Criticism: Language as Context" by Donald Keesey

There isn't one perfect way to examine literature. If there was, the topic of literary criticism could be covered in a matter of weeks; it would be simpler than going around in circles with various types of criticism.

Keesey covers the slippery slope of language. In order to talk about language - you've got to express your thoughts through the system of language. (Which came first, language or the discussion of it?) (Isn't this one of the singular aspects of language that is a complete joy and complete horror?)

Well, the point is there isn't a right way. Oh yes, there is a wrong way; there is always a wrong way. What I think Keesey is trying to say is that it is just harder to find the wrong way than it is to find a way that works. They all work (unless you've decided to look at French cheese when you're supposed to be looking at a French manuscript - hence, the wrong way).

What I really got from Keesey was that one perspective is only as good as the reader makes it to be. If you've found a ton of historicism in a text that your neighbor (who conveniently is studying the same text) found a lot of realism is doesn't matter - you are both right; you just can't claim you are. Because that claim is what "simultaneously undercut[s] our structures while revealing our inability to do without them."

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 6:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

See No Evil; Hear No Evil; Speak No Evil; Do No Evil

The Misfit is caught between absurdity and faith. He rejects belief in Christ yet he recognizes that a world in which actions and consequences cannot be made sense of leads ultimately to a world in which logical distinctions between good and evil collapse.
But as [Simone] Weil also remarks: "When there is a transference of evil, the evil is not diminished but increased in him from whom it proceeds. This is a phenomenon of multiplication" (65). The Misfit's killings do not liberate him from his felt degradation. Rather, they intensify his pain, a fact that O'Connor points to when the Misfit says at the end: "It's no real pleasure in life" (153).

John Desmond "Flannery O'Connor's Misfit and the Mystery of Evil"

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is a common phrase, usually used to describe someone who doesn't want to be involved in a situation or someone turning a willful blind eye to the immorality of an act he is involved in. Sometimes, a fourth component "do no evil" is added to the phrase.

Flannery O'Connor's Misfit takes this common phase to an entirely new level. John Desmond's article talks about the obscure justice system that the Misfit holds to. He looks at this justice system not as a defense or explanation for the actions the Misfit takes, but more as a way to show that the Misfit is not purely evil. If the Misfit had been a purely evil character, Flannery O'Connor's story would not hold the sway it does.

Simone Weil's theory on the transference of evil and phenomenon of multiplication fascinated me. It is entirely along the same lines as that Pringles catchphrase: "Once you pop, the fun don't stop." Except in terms of evil (or as I saw it, sin), of course.

By reacting to evil with evil, the evil has built upon itself. It seems a simple equation: evil + evil = evil x 2. However, that simple equation isn't so simple when the terms aren't "evil." For example: murder + revenge = death x 2. The evil is still there, but it is buried under the facade of "revenge." There are still two deaths, even if one does seem more justified than the other. (Weil's theory doesn't take into account motive - I can't figure out if this is a weakness of the theory or not.)

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 5:25 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Comma Sandwiches

The first rule of bracketing commas is that you use them to mark both ends of a "weak interruption" to a sentence - or a piece of "additional information". The commas mark the places where the reader can - as it were - place an elegant two-pronged fork and cleanly lift out a section of the sentence, leaving no obvious damage to the whole.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (90)

I'll be the first to admit it; I'm a fan of bracketing commas. Of course, now that I really want to demonstrate this love, I can't seem to write a sentence incorporating their use. Oh wait. . . . I think that was even correct usage of those troublesome bracketing commas.
I am one of those English students that looks up comma usage. I'm terrified of the implications of my ungrammatical writing. I don't have a single memory of my senior English teacher that doesn't incorporate the comma. She was a maniac when it came to catching a comma splice. Hopefully this fervor has added to my punctuation abilities, but I have my doubts. (For example, was that sentence done properly? Was that question?)
Maybe my severe reaction to this chapter is a result of it hitting closer to home than I'd anticipated it would. I can't remember how many papers I've gotten back from professors marked up largely because of my comma usage, though, to be fair, my semicolon obsession is equally commented on.
I don't like admitting my faults; who does? (Oh semicolon, are you correctly placed?) I will say one thing about this particular chapter: every comma put in this short entry sent shivers up my spine. (Oh how close I was to using a comma in that sentence rather than a colon!)

Posted by Diana Geleskie at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)