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February 27, 2007

Ye Olde Bedford Guide. Yar har.

gynocriticism

"A term coined by Elaine Showalter to refer to a type of feminist criticism that focuses on literary works written by women, rather than critiquing male-authored works or studying women as readers who must resist the predominantly patriarchal ideology that traditional texts reinforce."

Basically, its one of those terms that's used to build up women as authors and artists, rather than attempt to cut down men. I kind of like that theory.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

Everyman.

I cannot, in earnest, discuss this as of yet, for I have not been able to see the production yet. I read over the text provided so that I would have a basis of understanding for the production (even with the Indigo Girls). More on this as it develops.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

Keesey: Not just a flying enemy in the Legend of Zelda

“the work is good to the extent that it accurately depicts the clash of class interests, the forces of economic determinism, the dialectic process of history, in brief, the social reality as the critic's particular interpretation of Marxism may conceive it.”

I think I'm getting this (note: doesn't mean I necessarily agree with it), so correct me if I'm wrong.

The mimetic critic, which derives its name from mimicry, which is the resemblance of two (or more) different items in action, appearances, etc, acts as the interpreter of the world and is evaluated in “goodness” and “truth,” by how accurately they report the world around them. As such, the Marxist would then want to properly portray the rising, ruling class taking advantage of the underclass, and the underclasses ability to rise against them....in other words, any “poet” who has ever written a poem about their job at Walmart.

Interesting. I might be off base, but that was what I was able to get out of this. Its the whole idea of “holding a mirror up to nature” as Dr. Wendland has said numerous times.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:45 AM | Comments (2)

Paris: Not a Hilton

“It is because they contain highly individualized characters or extremely detailed pictures of society that many novels lack total artistic integration. In novels of psychological realism (on which we shall focus here) there is a character-creating impulse which has its own inner logic and which tends to its own way, whatever the implied author's formal and thematic intentions may be.”

Whew. Kind of takes your breath away, doesn't it? Let me get this one straight. The essence of the psychological aspect in literature...is that the characters develop their own logic, separate from that of the author's implied formalist and thematic intent.

I can guess, and guess is a good word for it, that this approach focuses on the idea that these are the inner-most thoughts and feelings of the author coming forth in their character. These thoughts and feelings are so deep and hidden that even the author is unaware of them, and, as such, it gives the appearance that the character has a self-thinking thought process.

Why were we assigned this before break?

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:44 AM | Comments (0)

Brann: Not for Breakfast Anymore

“If poetry is to be like a picture then, by a natural transition, it might very appropriately be about a picture.”

How about that. I said this a while ago. I know I said this in one of my papers. I basically used this idea against things like authorial intent and historical criticism because, well, I didn't feel as though there was much to debate. Keats was looking upon an urn and it struck him in a way and moved him enough that he wrote a poem on it. I don't think (and, for the sake of argument, have no basis to this claim right now) he was writing this epic allegory about other events in the world or even his own life. I think, in all honesty, he was making art via art.

Not so much the issue of “Art for the sake of art,” but for the same reason we will write a poem about the changing leaves or the snowfall. We can write a poem about the snow falling to the ground and it isn't mean to represent the Roman empire. Its bloody snow. Its very Freudian in regard to “a cigar is just a cigar.” Not everything means something at all times on multiple levels. I think he just saw an urn that he liked and made up a story.

Haven't any of you ever been to a ball game or a store and you see someone, perhaps a little odd, or a couple and you just make up this amazing and fantastical tale about these people you've never met? Hell, half the people on Facebook make up hilarious friend details.

I just...I'll be quiet.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:43 AM | Comments (2)

Donovan: This isn't any McNabb, that's for sure

“Much of our literature in fact depends on a series of fixed images of women, stereotypes. These reified forms, surprisingly few in number, are repeated over and over again through much of Western literature. The objectified images have one thing in common, however; they define the woman insofar as she relates to, serves, or thwarts the interests of men.”

I saw this quote and I, immediately, couldn't help but begin making my strange pop-culture connections to things. The first thing I thought of, especially since it is something both near and dear to me, is videogames, moreso the perception and depiction of women in games. I know, from first-hand experience, that women have a stereotypical form in games (as much in comics, too, but that's for later). In a photo-realistic game, a female character, generally speaking, has enhanced...physiology. The typical features, which tend to be more geared toward a western/male-dominated groups, are really played up.

Dead or Alive Xtreme 2

Need I say more?

This, too, is another rant altogether, which I don't feel ready to unload on everyone yet. I, personally, think that the depiction of women in games is a bit over-the-top and unfair as well as, well, horribly sexist. However (and this is what gets me into trouble)...the market for which most videogames are made...is made up of adolescent boys. The 14-24 year category. Some of us in this course are men. We know what its like being that age. You women know what it was like having to deal with us at that age. It wasn't a pleasant experience for either party.

What I liked is how Donovan qualified (I guess you can say that) these stereotypes by acknowledging the rebuking of men. That, too, is then perceived as a stereotype, but a much stronger stereotype and, generally, a better stereotype. It is much better, at least in modern society, to be seen as a strong woman who can toss men to the side with great ease rather than some dimbulb with a big chest and a wind-tunnel of a brain.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:41 AM | Comments (3)

Gilbert and Sullivan....wait, no, Gilbert and Gubar.

“Certainly the righteous Doctor John – whose name links him to the anti-hero of Charlotte Bronte's Villette – has been temporarily defeated, or at least momentarily stunned. 'Now why should that man have fainted?' the narrator ironically asks as she creeps around her attic.”

I think we all were able to agree in the defeat of John, though we debated about why he fainted. It seems as though these two answer that question as a self-serving observation. He fainted because he was defeated. He didn't see rope. He didn't see writing. He finally saw, in the metaphysical sense, his misdirection and his wrongdoing embodied in his wife as defeat. It was a sobering experience for him and it was just a little too much for him and he passed out.

I'll let the debate rage on.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 9:40 AM | Comments (4)

February 26, 2007

On a different note


There is no more music. There is only Neko Case.

She is the only music left in the world. Everyone should go buy her albums, especially "Fox Confessor Brings The Flood."

That is all.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2007

Blog Carnival

Val, who has been more than helpful to me in the past, oh, few months, has come through again, this time hosting our little traveling carnival. Unfortunately, the beared lady got sick and the He-She couldn't come with us this time, so we're only left with Goat Boy, the Mind Reader, and the Sword Eater.

The topic for our carnival was:
How far should we allow literary criticism to seep into our lives? Should we always be so on-guard about the way we read, or are there times when the less interpretation, the better?

--

As soon as I saw this topic, my brain started lighting up. Some people, thus far, have been only too unlucky to have been on the end of one of my never-ending rants about things. This is one of those topics where I have kept relatively quiet, but not for lack of having something to say.

How far should we take it? Well, that all depends. I was thinking on this question on my drive into campus today. I think, at least for those of us "in the industry," we always have a little bit of criticism going through our heads. We can't help it, as its one of those things kind of hard-wired into us. And having critical theory drummed into our heads through secondary school and college, well, it then became second nature for some of us.

By the same account, though - is it a bad thing? Well, not, not always. A book, such as Alan Alda's Never Have Your Dog Stuffed was absolutely and thoroughly enjoyable as well as humorous. I found myself criticizing how he wrote the book, the order in which he placed some things, and the whole part in the middle where it just kind of droned on and on. Did it make me really like the book any less? No, not at all.

I do think, though, that for those of us studying literature, it will be hard, if not impossible, to halt criticism from seeping deep within our bones. For should we fail to practice the skills, certainly, they will be lost. I also think we should put forth an effort to have pleasure reading. I, personally, have found that in the Harry Potter series. It is, I admit, a series of books which, years ago, I disected the stuffing out of. Then I started to ask myself why I felt the need to do so? My understanding of the norse mythology and why a character was named a certain way, though a little fun, was essentially pointless.

I can't help but agree that, yes, less interpretation is better for some things. Those of us entering the Education field, well, we need to keep up on these types of things, but at the same time, if we don't read things we like just for the Hell of it, then why bother teaching about literature and writing? If one is constantly critical of what they read, they should never be able to creatively write, either, as they will find (even if it isn't there) some reason or motive as to why they should or should not do certain things with words and thoughts.

My stance, strange as it may be, is to try to remove myself from critical response when it comes to true, honest pleasure reading. There will be moments of poignancy, in which a lightbulb will go over my head and I will think of the who, what, why, when, where of a line or idea, but I will put forth the effort to refrain from over-analyzing a work.

The real litmus test will be this: after the semester is over, I have a new book the read -
The Parables of Peanuts. We'll see how I handle this one.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 4:19 PM | Comments (1)

Blog Portfolio Ver. 1.0

Much as the Fellowship journeyed into the long dark of Moria en route to Mordor, we, too, must travel the roads and blog about everything we see. If, by the end of the term, I have as many posts as Melville had commas, I might have to hurt someone.

As such, it begins.

Coverage



Keesey: Making Complexity Slightly Simpler Through Cunning Use Of Extended Philosophical Theories Of Reality: Or, The General Introduction



The Melvilleian (Villian? What?)! Poetic Justice Becomes Melville



Intro: What Is Literature? Who Said What, Where, And Why - How Things Said Three-Hundred Years Ago Are Being Seen Nowadays



Elliot: Tradition And Those Who Follow It - A Lesson In How Not To Play Jazz



Apparently Valerie, Lorin and Myself Were On The Same Wavelength



Gilman's Wallpaper: A lesson in Poor Interior Design



Keesey: The Man, The Myth, The Legend - Ch. 1 Intro



Hirsch: If the Rubik's Cube were a written work, this would be it.



We'll not discuss the poetic justice in our discussing The Tempest while a storm is headed our way.



Willy Shakes: The Obedience and Political Equation



Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!



Old McDonald had a theory...



Keesey: Third verse, not quite the same as the first...



O Ye Bedford Guide, How I Sleep Better With Thee Under My Pillow



I still have a hard time trusting somebody named "Wolfgang"



The Formal Keats



What Is and What Isn't in "Benito"



You know what...



Gender and Literature, what some might refer to as a "sticky wicket"


Depth


Elliot: Tradition And Those Who Follow It - A Lesson In How Not To Play Jazz



You know what...



Gender and Literature, what some might refer to as a "sticky wicket"



Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!



Gilman's Wallpaper: A lesson in Poor Interior Design


Blog Carnival!
Blog Carnival


Interaction



Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!



Keesey's Intro: Chapter 2 as a study of what Chapter 2 is, why it is and how Chapter 2 is integral to the study of Chapter 2 without considering



Melville...he still haunts me. Everywhere I go, he's there. He is my past, present and future.



Apparently Valerie, Lorin and Myself Were On The Same Wavelength



Elliot: Tradition And Those Who Follow It - A Lesson In How Not To Play Jazz


Discussions



Apparently Valerie, Lorin and Myself Were On The Same Wavelength



Keesey's Intro: Chapter 2 as a study of what Chapter 2 is, why it is and how Chapter 2 is integral to the study of Chapter 2 without considering



Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!


Timeliness



Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!



Apparently Valerie, Lorin and Myself Were On The Same Wavelength


Xenoblogging



Comment Primo
A Hirsch Interpretation - Kevin "Kelo The Great" Hinton



The Comment Grande
Donald Keesey gives me a complex - Valerie Masciarelli



The Comment Informative
Melville's Relation to American Society - Jason Pugh


Wildcards!



Life's Poetics: Life Lessons and Other Assorted Goodies About Me



With due credit to my buddy Mike



Oh Snap

And thus endeth the blog portfolio, ver. 1.0.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 3:26 PM | Comments (0)

No relation to anything at all

Just for the Hell of it, because I can.

I got a Wii

God bless you, YTMND. How you make slacking off that much more enjoyable.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

You know what...

I wish I had thought of this last week...

In regard to authorial intent, specifically - why is it that academia always beats it into our heads that we have understand the author, the author's life, their society, etc....but when it comes to other art forms, we are told to separate the artist from the art? Something, once again, like Rap music we are told about how the lyrics and the rhymes are misogynistic, sexist, racist, etc...but can't one critically look into these as products of the artist's life?

Eminem is a decent example of this. A lot of people tend to immediately tear him down because he does say some inflammatory things. Partly, I will admit, was to keep his name out there at the tip of everyone's tongues, but at the same time, he was speaking from his life. How can old, pasty white men (read: congress) sit there and tell us how nobody should listen to this trash and garbage...when, ultimately, its a product of society and lifestyle, which is precisely what these people were elected to enhance.

When an elected official condemns something like rap music, as a blanket statement, they are proving how truly out of touch with their electorate and the mainstream they are. Like I said in that previous entry, I will be the first to admit that there is a lot of junk rap music that is hard to defend; it has grown from a culture of oppression, poverty, prejudice, limited resources and has now begotten its own culture, and not necessarily for the better.

The new hip hop has gone from Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" to the likes (oh jeez, this takes me back to 9th grade) Sisqo's "The Thong Song." Worst. Socio-Poilitcal. Movement. Ever. And Sisqo wasn't even the pinnacle of all things wrong with rap.

That then leads into the question - do you need strong lyrics to have a successful rap song? Well, I would say that's a subjective matter. If you want to make a song for the club that's got a killer beat, then no, not so much. And that is, unfortunately, where a lot of rap music has gone in recent years.

I have a sneaking suspicion, in my lifetime, I will never see a great renaissance of Motown or soul music. There will never be another Commodores. Marvin Gaye's spirit will not live on again in future generations. The same goes for rap. I don't see a great reformation of rap any time soon, as it has long since begun the downward slide into money, drugs, sex...

Rap has always had a slight hedonistic twinge to it, which is why I feel so many are turned away from it. And now the hip hop culture has all become about the money and the glamor and moved away from its core - an alternative to rock and country, but still drawing from its roots in blues.

I think Chris Rock said it best, though, about the artistry of rap
"White man makes guns, kills (expletive deleted) dead everyday. Nothing happens. White man makes guns, nothing. Black rapper says 'gun'...Congressional Hearing! 'He said gun...and he rhymed it with fun!'"

But we're always told that we must consider the author when reading a poem or story, but told to keep the artist away from their art when it comes to something such as rap. The people who write the rhymes have stories to tell, too. They, too, are results of a growing and diverse culture and an evolving attitude. Why isn't their background as important as, say, Shakespeare? You might think that an odd comparison, but both are poets and had the ability to appeal to everyone - intellectuals and groundlings alike.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Gender and Literature, what some might refer to as a "sticky wicket"

Obviously, we've covered gender roles in literature, especially with the likes of "The Yellow Wallpaper." Generally, one can apply gender roles to most any literature, either canon or popular. The writings of Nick Hornby, which I love dearly, are enjoyable to all genders, but typically will resonate more with male readers. Hornby writes, mostly, about music, sports, women, relationships, and personality.

The majority of the people here have seen the film "High Fidelity." Hornby wrote the book, which was then adapted to film (in one of the best book-to-film transitions I've ever seen). I know lots of ladies who enjoyed the film; it was funny and was able to be without misogyny. Rather, it took a more critical approach of both sexes as equally flawed and equally perfect. It stands more with men, though, because the narrator is a man who has been spurned by many lovers, who are then ranked in a "top five all time break-up" list.

Kolodny's essay touched on something similar. She discussed Poe and the contemporary readers of "The Yellow Wallpaper" and claimed "Those fond of Poe could not easily transfer their sense of mental derangement to the mind of a comfortable middle-class wife and mother; and those for whom the woman in the was a familiar literary character were hard pressed to comprehend so extreme an anatomy of the psychic price she paid."

For those reading Poe, who was fairly overt in his approach to the macabre and morose, it was difficult to fully understand the transition of the woman in Gilman's work as she slowly slid from safety and security into chaos and a world unseen by many.

More on this as it develops.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

February 19, 2007

What Is and What Isn't in "Benito"

I know...I know. Melville is never going away. I said before that he haunts me still. I might as well just get used to him. If he and I can co-exist for a few months, the relationship might work.

Initially I had a hard time following what O'Connell was getting at, but much like last week's reading on "The Tempest," I will liken that also to fatigue. It turned out I just needed a coffee (or so I thought, anyway).

For me, and this is some Reader-Response for you, I found the core of her essay was, basically, don't stand around and refer to Delano as "Captain Happy." She defends Melville's use of ambiguity and strange, if not ethereal, bond between Melville, the two captains, the slaves and the readers. She even defends how Melville tells us what to think at the onset of the story, claiming that we should be "wise and discerning, able to see beyond the allegedly innocent interpretations of Delano."

I enjoyed that O'Connell went to great lengths to show that Melville, for all intents and purposes, was a bastard about writing this story. She even says "Melville appears difficult simply for the sake of being difficult." Kind of like dealing a moody, hormonal teenager. They don't entirely know why they are being difficult and belligerent, but they feel a compulsion to do so. Melville felt this same need, but being the master craftsman that he is knew that in creating a mood of difficulty would also create an ambiguous atmosphere.

Curses on you, Melville. I wish I knew how to quit you.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:50 PM | Comments (1)

The Formal Keats

Right at the end of the essay...when Kent notes "the lifeless desolation of art uncovered by the ode's fourth stanza is thus already implied by the grammatical and rhetorical elements of the third stanza and, in particular, by its dependent quality."

I don't think I've ever heard or read a better statement of formalism than this. The entire essay is summed up in this sentence, in which is explains how the third stanza, through grammatical and rhetorical structure, sets up the fourth. The fourth is then dependent on the third because of the aforementioned reasons. The text is the context, and from studying its devices we can understand the work.

On a more personal note: Dr. Jerz - why didn't you give us at least one of these last week? These have been enjoyable.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:43 PM | Comments (1)

I still have a hard time trusting somebody named "Wolfgang"

Wolfgang? There are still actually people named Wolfgang? I imagine its a fairly common name elsewhere, just not one you hear around this neck of the woods too often.

I really enjoyed the long quote in the 2nd column on page 144, right before the break. The entire final paragraph before the break I found to be both entertaining and informative.

My buddy Wolfgang discusses the three types of readers; the superreader, the intended reader, and the informed reader. I had never really looked into this theory much, and the difference between types of readers - I always knew there were different types, but I didn't know they really had names or anything.

One looks to style, another looks to sociology and reaction, while the last one looks to historical disposition. Perhaps it was just me, but I never really limited myself, knowingly, to an examination of one or the other. Some have claimed that I try to hit too many bases with looking at historical fact as well as my own personal reaction while studying a device or element within the text...

And that is exactly what is being professed in my boy Wolfgang's essay - linking all these things to ascertain the true reaction of the reader which will, ultimately, give the work some meaning.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

O Ye Bedford Guide, How I Sleep Better With Thee Under My Pillow

Malapropism

"The erroneous substitution for the correct word of a word similar in sound but very different in meaning; a form of catachresis."

I remember once, long ago, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling. I was a then-WWF fan. I remember Vince McMahon once referred to Bob Backlund as "Mr. Malaprop." I didn't really understand it way back when, and until I looked it up, I didn't understand it. More or less, thanks to the Bedford Guide, I found that it is the misuse of an word in place of another which sounds alike - such as "precede" and "proceed."

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:51 PM | Comments (1)

Keesey: Third verse, not quite the same as the first...

"Most reader-response critics have little interest in authors or intended meanings. The poem exists now. It affects us now."

How? How can I say anything more than that. I do enjoy Keesey and I don't care that he waters things down. Complexity is nice, but simplicity is sweeter. I know some people *cough*Jay*cough* have focused strongly on reader response theory. I haven't spent, or so I feel, enough time with it. As I said last time, I've found myself to be more of a formalist, but I also felt it was time for a new bag.

I guess, as Dr. Jerz and Dave learned last week, I also have an inner-reader-responder which causes me to want to throw my text book across rooms and at people who assigned readings from it (just kidding, Dr. Jerz). It evoked a reaction and deep emotion in me, but I'm not making a case study of myself, so, why should I consider reader response? My response wasn't important, in the grand scheme, to class discussion because it wasn't getting to the meat of the work. I wasn't getting to the fruit, only the rind.

I do think I need to spend more time working with Reader Response. That is all.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:30 PM | Comments (1)

Old McDonald had a theory...

McDonald's essay on "The Tempest," or at least to me, became a thoroughly enjoyable read. Perhaps it says something about me or the way I enjoy essays to be written, but I appreciated the demarcation with the numerals as the points which are being addressed.

I don't know why, but I found comfort in McDonald addressing repetition right off the bat. Really, I have no rhyme or reason for it, I just found that to be important, especially the evidences presented by McDonald when he said "from the confused echoes of the first scene ("We split, we split!") through Prospero's re-creation of the past ("Twelve years since, Miranda, twelve years since").

Perhaps, as some may have read in my last entry, I discussed the poetic justice in my life. I guess, maybe, the reason I enjoy McDonald addressing repetition, especially early, is because he highlights the fact that everything is balanced and repeated - essentially the yin and yan of Shakespeare. Perhaps, but I'm not certain. Perhaps further explication on this later this week.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2007

Life's Poetics: Life Lessons and Other Assorted Goodies About Me

Not often can one say they've been able to make amends for mistakes made previously in life.

The most recent has been making amends by listening to a lot more Bone Thugs N Harmony, a group I never really gave a fair shake back in the day when they were big. I just kind of wrote them off and went about my business. Only recently have I started listening to some of their music and, well, I regret not listening to them previously. But its all alright because I'm listening to them now.

The other instance was one of those that hit me with a little reality. About two weeks ago I was at work (for those playing the home game, I work at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store) and I was putting some clothes out on the sales floor. I saw a girl who looked familiar. Very familiar. I kept about my work and listened to the conversation going on. This familiar girl was talking with someone, her sister is seemed (and, for privacy's sake I'll withhold real names). I hear her sister call her name and, lo and behold, it was who I thought it was.

I walk over and we start talking, just playing catch-up a little. Their mother was with them and we were all laughing and having a good time. I gave her my business card and let the three of them about their business and I had to hurry myself back to the actual work I was supposed to be doing.

Here's the interesting part - back in middle school I had a huge crush on her. I found it strange that I hadn't heard from or seen her since graduation and then, on a totally random night in Plum at the Saint Vincent de Paul, she suddenly appeared.

As such, I kept my eyes and ears open as to when they were leaving. Something stirred within me and I thought, of all things, to something Ludacris had said. He said something along the lines of "all I got in this world is my word and my balls, and neither get broken. But sometimes you just gotta put your balls on the line and risk it all." I found a strange poignancy in that, and it gave me enough of a spring in my step and a boost in attitude that allowed me to ask the girl out. Why is that such a big deal, some would ask. Well, to be perfectly frank...she bloody lives in Colorado now (which explained why she fell off the face of the Earth after graduation). It was also enough of a step in me getting back out there after breaking up with my previous girlfriend of two years.

It may not seem like much, but it was something to me.

We went out that night. Kept it local and quasi-early (it was the following day, but not disgustingly the following day). Talked about old friends and all different kinds of things. It was a good time.

Things started to strike me a little. I always understood how life was poetic. I also understood that, well, not everything will make sense. We are trained to believe there is a rhyme and reason for all things. Sometimes its a little difficult to believe that. I'm not what most people would describe as a "good Christian boy," but I do believe there is a God and I understand that He works in strange ways. I have had numerous times in which I questioned his motives. I questioned why He allowed my two serious girlfriends to cheat on me. I questioned why He allowed a lot of misfortunes to befall the best people I know.

I really, really questioned His motives when He took my dad away from me...wow, going on six years ago.

But then something like this happens, and I can't help but chuckle a little at God's sense of humor. I always understood that He brings people into our lives for a reason or a purpose, but it isn't always clear to us why they have been brought into our lives.

I think I understood, at least a little, why this girl had been returned to my life, if only for a day. He provided me the opportunity I needed to right myself in the world. In a previous relationship I had been wronged and it was my grand chance to make right of a great regret. He provided a situation and it was left to me to determine where it went from there.

The Lord gave me a second chance at something I missed a long time ago. Even though its one of those impossible situations, I was perfectly happy and fine with a date. One. That's all I needed. I was able to finally close the chapter on a yet unfinished section of life's book. I was able to take my regret and cast it away.

Rarely, I have found, in life are we ever able to wrap up things in a nice, neat little package. I was given that opportunity. I can't help but also appreciate the living poetic justice in that.

Life is, if nothing else, very strange.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2007

I need to create a new filing system

So, I'm gonna put this one under the category of "Dr. Jerz was kinda right, but not really."

I made previous mention that I will bring my Nintendo Wii with me. I have done as such. And between 3:30 and 5, I was set up and playing down in the room. At 5, Dr. Gray walked in and said he had the room booked for a meeting.

Thus

Dr. Jerz was kinda right in asking me if I was sure the room was available at that time. I was kinda right because it was available at that time...just for a little less than I had planned.

Score:

Dr. Jerz - 1, Kevin - 1

As an aside - since I have the thing with me, I'll be more than happy to stick around after class for a while and play with some of y'all.

That is all.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 5:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

With due credit to my buddy Mike

I was talking with my old friend Mike and he told me the quote of the day - here's the whole thing, background info and all:

--

Mike: I was in the liquor store picking up some stuff for my friends before the ball game Saturday, and this girl comes in. Hereforth is the dialogue:

Girl: "Hi...I know this is going to sound really stupid...but can I return this? (holds up a bottle of Bushmills Irish whiskey and the receipt)
Counter: "Why?"
Girl: "My boyfriend asked me to get some Irish whiskey, but he doesn't want this. He said 'Protestants know f**k-all about drinking, go get some Jameson's.'"

--

For those playing the home game - I don't often imbibe in the alcohol, but when I do, I drink only the best - Jameson's Irish Whiskey.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 8:33 PM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2007

Watson? Can you Hear Me? Watson, I need you!

I never thought I would be excited to read something out of a textbook. I really never thought I would be a little giddy over an essay about poetry and historical context, but I was really looking forward to reading this. The title is what got me interested, as its a theory I've had for a long time, but that's for later in this diatribe.

"When a reader recognizes a novel to be such, or chooses it because it is such, he is certainly using evidence from outside the work as well as evidence from within. He is recognizing features in the novel he holds in his hand which resemble those in other novels he has read."

I love this quote because it helps sum up a lot of the feelings I have toward the notions of authorial intent. For the reader, they can't help but draw similarities to other things they have read. We do it all the time for things, but does that always prove a point in a story or help shine the proverbial light on anything within the text?

This quote also struck me when considering the grand scheme of this essay. Are poems historical acts? Personally, I think they are. And I want to make a few examples here, but allow me to provide you with a little authorial intent - I, as the originator of the following, am a fan of all forms of music. I love, and I mean love, old-school rap - pretty much anything from the Sugarhill Gang through, oh, about the year 2000. Not that I dislike modern rap, I just find it harder to defend. I also love old-style country western, which has been morphed into more modern-day "Americana" or "new-folk."

Some would ask - how can someone love both rap and country? Well, they're two peas from the same pod.

Let's look for a moment. Rap is poetry. In fairness, it has gone away from those roots. It is very hard to defend "Get Low" as poetic, however, a song like "California Love" or "Changes," the latter especially, are poetic. Just because they don't openly discuss things in a grand scope, as Yeats noted by saying "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." Yeats wasn't even addressing a "historical" event, as it has/had not happened yet. The world was not ending and the second coming was not happening.

Tupac, however, he addressed racial intolerance, which had reached, sadly, another peak in the 90's with the race riots and police brutality. Tupac said

"I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let's erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they'll be acting right
'cause both black and white is smokin' crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain't ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain't a secret don't conceal the fact
the penitentiary's packed, and it's filled with blacks
But some things will never change
try to show another way but you stayin' in the dope game
Now tell me what's a mother to do
bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
"I made a G today" But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin' crack to the kid. " I gotta get paid,"
Well hey, well that's the way it is"

I imagine for a number of you, this is the first time you've ever heard this song. That passage came from the second verse. The other two are equally as poignant, but I've elected to not reprint those here because of a few suggestive words. But the passage is telling a story, and isn't that at the very center of poetry and literature? Naturally, you have a few outliers who preach strange sentiment, but the majority of writers just want to tell a story. And rap music tells a story and it does so through rhyme and rhythm. Through measures and beats. It is poetry. Nobody ever said that poetry has to be innocent and "good" as it can very easily be raw and powerful, and sometimes that requires the use of some off-colour language.

Even in historical context, a song such as "California Love" makes note of the passing of time and gives itself to a historical analysis. Dr. Dre even says so by describing "I been in the game for ten years makin' rap tunes/ ever since honeys was wearing Sassoon."

Now, I understand this isn't entirely the point that Watson was getting at, but he touched on it. He addressed the notion that often a time-period or age is important to know about a poem as it will aid in understanding the meaning behind the writing, such as the World War I poets who have a view of a fractured world, unable to ever be whole once more. Knowing these things are important, and these are a lot of the issues you can find in rap music.

The same can be said for country/western music. Before the days of things like "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," the Western song told a story, usually one of heartache. Songs like "On The Evening Train" are tales of sorrow and loss, as a child bids farewell to his dead mother. Many other "country" songs of old were derived from hymns or spirituals - songs such as "I'll Fly Away" are inspirational and, typically, are used by artists in times of hardship as a means of guidance.

Once again, into the 1990's the country music scene was still within its own niche market. It hadn't yet exploded onto the scene and didn't have to conform to the soon-to-come Shania Twain syndrome of making story-songs a bunch of dancing songs. Even those artists who had become famous, such as Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, mostly, kept true to their roots. People such as David Allen Coe and Chris LeDoux, and my personal favorite, Garth Brooks stood apart from the rest. And that was what country music was - it stood apart from the standard rock and roll formula, especially during the drug-induced 1970s and 80s, finally coming into its own, even for a few years, in the 1990s.

Rap and country, though, they make strange bedfellows, to say the least. Not often can you really compare them, but really, they tend to be more similar than some would like. They both have rebels. They've got rivalries (Dixie Chicks v Toby Keith) and drug advocates (Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg).

Like I said, though - not every rap song is worthy of being analyzed and given the title of "poem." Things like "Raise Up" from Petey Pablo is not exactly what I would call an achievement in word play. And some will claim this a point of contention, but I find Eminem to be an excellent lyricist and poet. He might use some words that people don't like or do things in his life others don't care for, but that goes along with studying the "authorial intent" and historicism of the poet.

Even by the same measures - Jazz can be studied historically because it is always changing, and that truly is the point of good, solid jazz music. It always tells a story, but doesn't say a word. Jazz music is the musical speech for the artist. You can always tell what the musician is thinking or feeling when playing. You know if they are falling in or out of love, or if they've lost someone dear to them. You can tell if they've just got a promotion at their day job or saw their son take his first steps. Jazz music doesn't have to ever say a word and it can tell an entire story. Set a jazz album to a football game and see how often it syncs up with the game. It might scare you.

Poetry is historical. It doesn't have to be limited or grouped into "poems about the end of the world" or "poems about World War II," though it aids studying that time period. I've written poems about one moment of fun or one night when I had a good time. I've written them about break-ups and loss. Just because they weren't moments of global significance doesn't mean they weren't "historical" events. Keats' Grecian Urn wasn't world changing, either, but rather him looking upon an urn at a museum and he wrote about it. One moment in the poet's life then becomes the work itself.

Unfortunately, though, the same thing happens when one looks at historical time-periods; the Liberty Valence effect takes place. History, ultimately, will be recorded and passed down differently than it actually happened. There's no two ways about it. Dr. Jerz will be the first to tell you about in the courtroom and with court reporting how unreliable witness testimony truly is because our minds play tricks on us.

Rap music tells a story, Poetry tells a story. They both can provide a snapshot of a moment in history and normally do. Are poems historical acts? Yes. Generally they are. There are exceptions to this rule, but not often. In fairness, sometimes it takes a little digging into the author's life/circumstances to understand the historicism of a work (read: knowing Coleridge's addiction and his sleeping/dreaming of "Kubla Khan" only to be disturbed by a visitor, thus creating the shift in the poem).

I admit, I would keep going here, but I'm just too cold and too tired. Maybe another day. Maybe in class. The world may never know.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:42 AM | Comments (6)

February 12, 2007

Keesey's Intro: Chapter 2 as a study of what Chapter 2 is, why it is and how Chapter 2 is integral to the study of Chapter 2 without considering

"A study of all of Blake's writings will tell us the various ways he used the word on other occasions. But none of these, says the formalist, will tell us exactly what the word means in the lines in question. Only a full understanding of their immediate context - that is, of the poem itself - will tell us that."

When I read this line I knew it immediately - I've been a formalist for a long, long time. I've always been one of those people who say how the work itself will unlock the mysteries and not outside sources. To be fair, I have said that outside sources might aid in the unlocking of the "deeper meanings" of a given work, but they won't tell the whole story.

I loved the discussion that Keesey presented on Blake's use of the word "charter'd," and the different definitions it could have. He delved deeper into it by discussing the nautical uses of it in reference to the Thames river, but then spun us around when describing the streets of London. This example then became the centerpiece for studying the context of a word. This contextual study, or so I've found, is where Dr. Patterson (among a few others) loved to lead discussion. She loved to get at the root of what the word is and why it was used; how no other world could have possibly been used and this was, essentially, the perfect choice. As for formalists, well, they simply felt as though the context would allow the writer to use unusual wording or use a word in more than one way.

I guess I've always been a formalist. Maybe its time for a new bag.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 11:14 PM | Comments (3)

Willy Shakes: The Obedience and Political Equation

"Absolutism's enhancement of political obedience as loyalty provides shelter from 'winter's drops,' but the drops do not represent a 'natural affliction.' Instead they represent Gonzalo's ideologically determined sorrow for culpable acts which were themselves determined by the idea of obedience."

As Yachnin wrote this at the close of his essay I couldn't help be struck a little. People always say (myself included) how difficult it is to translate Shakespeare into a modern style or format. Numerous people will proclaim that film doesn't do the play justice and that so many things get lost in the translation. While I agree that reading the play is usually better when it comes to my boy Willy Shakes, I can't help but draw similarities to more modern works, especially when examining absolutist governmental entities.

Of course, my first instincts lead to the likes of Orwell and his prophecy of the over-reaching government ultimately causing its own demise, as well as people like Huxley in the attempts to create a perfect society, as compared to pacifying one, and be one true body. Even the film "Gattaca" addressed the issues of a perfect society. But for this political problem, Yachnin notes the philosophy of absolutism "as loyalty." It falls into the problem of the classic quote that "those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither."

Once again, the brilliance of Shakespeare is shown in his ability to satirize politics (i.e. Queen Elizabeth) and the motives of the time...


You know something? I had a point in here, somewhere. I can't find it anymore. Maybe I'm just tired or something. I've gone back and started this over and over again. In short: Those who blindly follow any authority are victims of their own folly, as it only provides a false sense of real security and quality.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

We'll not discuss the poetic justice in our discussing The Tempest while a storm is headed our way.

Much as a few others have gone on record with this, its been a while since I've had to pick up my copy of the Tempest. I was one of those lucky people who had this text in Shakespeare class as our presentation and it rocked (especially with Karissa making that awesome powerpoint and all).

If nothing else, I enjoyed the total bastardization that happened when they adopted the work for film. As such, this became a perfect example of Watson's discussion of a certain item being translated for a different media/audience.

Luckily, for me, I didn't have to dig out the Book of Sand (har har) and only had to flip through my Penguin classics version, but still.

Now I feel so inadequate because I didn't have the Norton and don't have the intro so many have referenced. Oh poo.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2007

A Public Service Announcement

For any interested persons - I had made mention that next Thursday (2/15/07) I will bring my Nintendo Wii to campus. I'll set up in our room for Lit Crit probably around 3:30. Feel free to drop on by.

That's about it, really.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)

February 8, 2007

Melville...he still haunts me. Everywhere I go, he's there. He is my past, present and future.

I actually enjoyed the interlude by Keesey as he introduced the Kaplan essay, addressing:

"'the image of Melville as subtle abolitionist in "Benito Cereno" may be a contribution of generous wish rather than hard fact." It is the task of the literary historian, however, to discover not what the reader may want the story to mean, but what its author meant."

The connections to the slave ship revolts cannot be ignored, as they were integral in world affairs, especially for Americans. As one of the major voices in American literature, it was almost expected that Melville would comment on them in some form or another.

Other than standing on a box on the street corner, there was no medium by which one can spread their opinions further than in conversation or, at best, a local publication. There were no blogs in those days. In this modern day, every single person can make their opinions known, no matter how obscure, abstract or quirky.

Social commentary no longer has to be done in subtle ways like writing a short story or poem. One could take the direct route, like our buddy T.S. Eliot did and write an essay, but there is a stigma attached to that. When a great American voice writes a story, people will read it. In a time of turmoil though, did Melville really wish to allow his true sentiments be known, knowing there will be consequences for whatever he say? If he writes a staunchly abolitionist work, then the pro-slavery crowd will call for his head, whereas if he writes a pro-slavery work, the abolitionist movement would label and boycott.

Did he just simply have to do a fancy little dance around the issues while writing his story so that either side can be argued? Was he a racist? An abolitionist? Simply by Captain Delano's view of the precious cargo of slaves...who becomes hostile, but still seen as property...where does it all fall in?

Even after the Kaplan piece...I still don't know. Like...ugh. Damn you, Melville. Damn you.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 3:53 PM | Comments (2)

Hirsch: If the Rubik's Cube were a written work, this would be it.

"The interpreter's goal is simply this: to show that a given reading is more probable than others. In hermeneutics, verification is a process of establishing relative probabilities."

Thanks, Mr. Hirsch. You've been able to explain what I've thought for a long time in one sentence.

Honestly, I don't know if I can build on that more. It doesn't limit or become too broad - it simply states that it is our collective job to interpret a work that seems more probable than another. One can look at Gilman's story through this - the most probable cause was that she suffered from postpartum depression. The less probable, though one could defend it, is that she had bats in her head and the only way to quiet them was to remain, physically and emotionally, low and imprisoned.

Actually...that's kind of interesting. Bats in the head. I like it.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 3:19 PM | Comments (0)

Keesey: The Man, The Myth, The Legend - Ch. 1 Intro

"On the one side, we have the plausible assumption that authors will be affected by the intellectual currents and social conditions that surround them." - p. 13

I'm really starting to like this Keesey fellow. He tends to get a little trapezoidal in his descriptions and explanations, but two or three readings will clear them up.

I enjoy this quote because of the use "assumption." In his explaining of the genetic method, he doesn't limit things to this concrete and finite notion that an author will be gridlocked by the intellectual movements and social changes. It is logical to assume as much, but is not a central key that must, at all times, be considered.

This is the sentiment was shared by comedian Robert Whul, when he taught a course at a university in Boston (I forget which), which was filmed and broadcast as a program called "Assume the Position." For anyone who had seen this, feel free to ignore the rest of the post.

Whul addressed what he called "The Liberty Valence Effect." There was a film, made in 1962, which starred John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart called "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," in which a senator returns to his home town as a hero for killing the legendary outlaw Liberty Valence. The truth is that the senator never actually killed the outlaw. The man who had been commissioned to write the senator's biography, after learning that he hadn't been the man who killed Liberty Valence, tore up all the notes and refused to write the story, explaining that "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

The same thing can be said, or so I feel, for criticizing written works by studying the author and everything surrounding them. As Whul also explains, history is pop culture. In essence, we like hero stories and tend to glorify things, more than they should be. He also addresses the notion that Queen's "We Will Rock You" became a national battle cry, almost as much as "Yankee Doodle," both of which are either by or about homosexuals.

This isn't to say that historical criticism isn't warranted, but sometimes a little overboard. History, usually, will bear someone out as a bigger hero (or totally inhumane) than they were. As such, "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

Gilman's Wallpaper: A lesson in Poor Interior Design

"I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.
Of course, I don't when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone."

Having studied this work a few times (the roughest study I had was at Penn State when I took a course in female authors...I was, quite literally, the only guy in the class. That hurt), I wanted to look for a quote I hadn't previously used. At PSU, the reading, obviously, had a little bit of a slant. Dr. Rubin, fantastic as she was, strongly moved the course in the direction of studying the character of John and his negligence.

As a matter of principle, I didn't look up any information about Gilman and did my absolute most to forget anything I learned about her. Val only gave me a few gentle reminders. In perfect honesty, the only thing I could really tell you about her life was that, as best we know, was born and woman and remained as such until she died.

I then began looking at quotes that have a personal type of appeal. Something I can associate with my own life or with people known throughout my life.

This quote stuck out to me. Obviously, the type of pattern being shown here is indicative of postpartum depression, but I don't feel is exclusive to such a disorder. I've known lots of people who cry all the time.

Hell, my ex-girlfriend used to cry at the drop of a hat. Barry Manilow's "Mandy" made her cry, alright. But any form of crying or deep emotional strain was kept for private and personal use, never around others...and last I checked, there were no children involved in anything.

By Gilman including this and phrasing it the way she did, one can't help but have an emotional pull - as though we wish we could reach into the pages and save her. For those of us who have read it before and know the eventual outcome, it becomes a stronger urge to save her.

And the notion of not crying in front of others, especially her husband, is outrageous. It goes back to the whole thing of when you ask you wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever..."What's wrong?" and they say "nothing..." but you know something's wrong....

If you keep asking, they'll get angry and then you'll be a cause of further anguish. But if you just leave it alone, you'll be considered self-centered and that nothing matters. If they are willing to tell you, you better listen. On the flip-side, though, if one is unwilling to discuss a problem, well, it might have to come to badgering and sometimes desperate measures to seek help.

I'm a proud, proud man. As a male, I am, typically, the fixer of things. But there are times when I am unable to achieve an end on my own merit or by my own strength. I may be proud, but not too proud to seek help.

I'm not trying to criticize Gilman or anyone in her situation. It is a serious matter and one that needs all the support in the world. But I'm also not going to condemn John's character either, as he was attempting to do what he, an educated man, thought was best.

But we all know where the road paved with good intentions leads to.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 2:33 PM | Comments (0)

Rising from the Grave: Transcribing from notebook to blog thanks to that little server problem

Thanks, blogs. Curses on ye.

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 2:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 2, 2007

Oh Snap

For those playing the home game, we should all do the following:

Move the couch and chair
Move the lamps and tables
Put the dog outside

Konami is bringing Dance Dance Revolution to the Nintendo Wii...

From the Komani Press Release today:

The global dancing phenomenon gets even more physical with an entirely new game designed for the Nintendo Wii. Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party enhances the series' trademark interactive gameplay by combining the physically engaging, innovative and easy-to-pick-up-and-play mechanics of the Wii platform. DDR Hottest Party is sure to be the life of the party with 4 player multiplayer, Wii Remote and Nunchuk support, smash hits taken from the last 4 decades of music, entirely new modes and more

* Brand new DDR game designed exclusively for the Wii
* Support up to 4 player simultaneous play ensures your house is the hottest party on the block
* All-new soundtrack includes licensed smash-hits from the last 4 decades
* Use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk while dancing for greater total body interaction
* Swing the Wii controller to send obstructions to your opponents while competing
* New gameplay twists, fun minigames and other challenges
* Great family fun with added modes and difficulties for all ages, including Friendly Synch and Kind Support Mode

For the first screens, check my site - Wii Café

Basically, take the standard DDR formula, now add hand motions into the wild flailing of feet. So many shins are going to be kicked. It will be, in a word, awesome.

Oh, and they've included a workout mode.

You can check the first video here

Posted by KevinMcGinnis at 6:00 PM | Comments (0)