March 2009 Archives
"eidos, archè, telos, energia, ousia (essence, existence, substance, subject), aletheia..."
Derrida offered a plethora of words I didn't understand but "Eidos" stood out to me because it's the name that pops up when you play Tomb Raider. So obviously it is a video game company, but what does it mean?
Dictionary. Com says as a noun it means the formal content of a culture, encompassing its system of ideas, criteria for interpreting experiences, etc. It also means something that can be seen, or 'image' in Greek.
Ahhh...good choice Eidos!
These two aspects of the same scene show how Babo is at one and the same time domesticated by Delano's paternalism and demonized by Cereno's dread. Yet this dual response springs from the very situation of Babo, who is simultaneously slave and master."
The dual identity of a character is an interesting concept because it prevents someone from ever saying 'this is what it is.' It will always be, 'this is this or this.' I think it would be easier to write a paper using this form of criticism because you can talk about how a character like Babo is a slave and then talk about how Babo is actually a master. But it seems like your backing out of a firm argument and taking the easy way out.
You know what? I can't even pull a quote out from Derrida because I had no clue what the article was getting at. Yes there were a few points made that I kinda sorta not really understood. The only thing that really made sense was Keesey's intro into the article and he even stated, "While no single essay can fully represent Derrida's thought, or capture his shifting terminology..."
Sometimes, as evident with this article, you just shouldn't try.
"If language is our instrument of thought, as it is certainly our instrument of expression, then we are always in the position of trying to think about language in language."
We talk about language in language. We think about language in language. We write about language in language. There really is no escape to one's language. And we've seen that the formalists and the intertextual critics explore the idea of what language really means in texts. I think that is why I have agreed with formalists and intertexual critics the most so far because I never want to escape from language as language. I think the words on the page are the most important parts of a work.
I was actually talking to Ellen about taking the Praxis II Exam and I decided to look up some poetry "stuff" since that is my weakest area terminology and comprehension wise. I can read and interpret but don't ask me about meter or rhyming schemes.
So I turned to Hamilton and found "End Rhyme." A simple enough concept about the rhymes that occur at the end of a poem, but I did learn that the rhyme can be double or triple, masculine or feminine. Double and triple rhymes just mean double syllables or triple syllables in the rhyming words, but masculine and feminine rhymes brought back memories of learning masculine, feminine and neuter in German class.
In poetry a masculine rhyme is one that ends with a stressed syllable (pond) while feminine ends with an unstressed syllable (tasty).
"Another way of putting what we have just said is that meaning is not immediately present in a sign. Since the meaning of a sign is a matter of what the sign is not, its meaning is always in some sense absent from it too."
I can't help but think of Alfred Korzybski, the father of general semantics. He is the man who gave us, "The map is not the territory." Each of us has a different perception of reality. The map is just a representation of the territory; it can't and will never be the territory or even a representation of the entire territory. Words are just like maps. They represent something, but the word can never possibly convey everything that it represents. It is an abstraction.
Eagleton seems to be talking about something similar, but he is saying meaning is derived by eliminating everything that the "something" is not. And after that, there will still be absent aspects of the meaning of the "something." Referring back to the map, when I say the word map, everyone gets a mental image of what a map is. Every image is different; a road map, a street map, a terrain map- everyone thinks of their own idea of map (and once we start talking the "ideals" we get into Plato and that's always a good stopping place). The word map can never encompass the entire meaning of what a map is. I think that is what our friend Eagleton may be getting at.
Here's the link to the article that talks a bit about Alfred Korzybski:
The thing that got me thinking about Azar Nafisi and her lecture was how well read she is. Granted she has made literature her entire world, but we as Americans just don't read like people in other parts of the world. She cited authors and pieces from America to England to Persia to Russia. It astounded me. No wonder reading is so powerful to her. She has the experience of being a well read individual. She could easily be a literary critic citing a hundred sources that I have never heard of.
She also spoke very passionately about the importance of literature and imagination. That resonated with me because I agree with her. We have literature in order to experience and imagine places and things entirely outside of our conventions. To me, nothing is more important than how I feel about a piece of literature. I could read ten critical analysis' of the piece, but when I sit down to read that work, what I feel and see is what counts.
"But one can only claim that "Slavery is not the issue here; the focus is upon evil in action" if one uses myth/symbol criticism to evade questions of politics and morality--if the historical moment of the narrative's production is denied and Melville's other statements about slavery and racism ignored."
I was disappointed with this article because it was a classic criticism of "imagine this but without this," and I find it hard to just "delete" intended meanings from a work of literature. Taking away the statements about slavery and racism in "Benito Cereno" would completely erase the purpose of the piece. It's impossible, for me at least, to put statements in a work aside in order to examine the work at another angle. That angle would never be true because your creating for the sake of an argument. Your eliminating pieces of a work to try something different, but the end result would be skewed and pointless.
"And it is Shakespeare who gives us, as members of his audience, his island, as one would give a child an apple, but with the further hope that we will not stop with eating the apple, but will use its seeds to create for ourselves new seas and even more enchanted islands.
"Shakespeare's The Tempest" Frye (305)
Again, I was struck by the poetic words Frye managed. I hated this entire article until the end when he gave this fabulous conclusion. Comparing Shakespeare's literary creation to the seeds of an apple is a beautiful image. It reminds us why we read and write. We read to see others creations and we write to imagine our own, in hopes of sharing that image with others. It's a wonderful cycle, just like the cycle of the apple.
"In its resolute artificiality, literature challenges the limits we set to the self as an agent of order and allows us to accede, painfully or joyfully, to an expansion of self."
Literature is constantly challenging our minds to think beyond our normal conventions. Literature provides the ability for us to think outside of those conventions and experience joys or pains that we would not normally experience in our lifestyles. No one wants to live through a drug addiction, but literature can take us to a place where we can begin to understand someone who is living through one. Literature has the ability to create a way for us to understand and feel things that are beyond our own expierences.
"Poetry is, after all, a technique of communication; it engages the conscious part of the mind as well as the murkier areas, and what a poet succeeds in communicating to others is at least as important as what he fails to resolve for himself."
"The Critical Path" Frye (283)
Occasionally amongst Frye's dry ramblings he says something rather poetic. I think the best part of reading poetry is when it engages the "murkier areas" of the mind. The conscious area is busy with making associations and past connections, but the other part of your mind is feeling and listening to the poetry for what it is, not what it is meant to be. The conscious area of the mind gives the poem its meaning and the murky area gives you its feeling.
A "historical sense," which "involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence..."
TS Eliot (Keesey 269)
Eliot's vision of all the works of Western literature, not strung out in fixed sequence but arranged in some kind of conceptual space to form a context for the understanding of each poem, is precisely the vision of intertexual criticism."
I noted Eliot's quote when we first read "Tradition and the Individual Talent." The "pastness of the past" resonated in my mind and caused me to think about what Eliot was saying and apparently it stuck with Keesey as well, but he was able to articulate Eliot's meaning and apply it to help us understand intertexual criticism. The past is the past but it never actually stays in the past. The past is always part of a piece of literature because it becomes something of the past as soon as it is written. And pieces of the past influence or are reflected in all writings. Eliot stressed the importance of the past in pieces of writing because it is what makes writing important to generation after generation of readers.
Keesey's focus on Eliot's idea is an attempt to explain intertexual criticism to us. To me, Keesey is saying to look at the work on its own in its own world untouched by time, which is somewhat of a contradiction to what Eliot was saying. Ah, but this is of course literary criticism at its finest- saying one thing while trying to say something else...
"Spanish thinkers are equally mistrustful of any theory that conceives of politics as a purely secular endeavor."
Because the play was originally Spanish, I think "Life Is A Dream" would work well with historical context. From the above quote we can gather that the Spaniards weren't entirely down with the "separation of church and state" idea. I would like to have read this play with more historical knowledge of what was going on in Spain at the time. Rupp's article really brings political activity to the forefront.
"However, Segismundo cannot truly have learned his lesson unless he can leave the physical tower and still maintain the constraints on his choices that it represents."
I agree with this quote. I don't know how the king could ever determine if his son was truly beastly or not because his son was never in the real world for any length of time. A person has to be a part of society in order to know how to behave in it. To me, that seemed to be Seg's true problem.
"...she may recognize that in an essential way she had been defined simply by her purely biological usefulness to her species."
(Gilbert and Gubar 261)
Literary criticism never ceases to amaze me. To draw a conclusion of a woman's work of literature actually reflecting a regret of not having a child bothers me. It bothers me because I want to buy into that theory and at the same time I want a woman's work to have nothing to do with her gender. We don't spend time discussing whether or not a man's work had anything to do with his biological clock. And I see the importance of gender, but at the same time I wish it could be second to the actual "blots on the page."
"We incline to believe that if we can claim for a device, a technique, or a whole work a "realistic" purpose, we have provided an ultimate justification."
Aren't we always searching for a reason, a purpose? We can never just appreciate what things are for what they are. Every literary critic is looking for a purpose in the work they are criticizing, or they are making a claim about what that purpose may be. It doesn't matter if it's reader response, formalism, structuralism or psychological determinism. A work isn't worth study unless it has a purpose.
I think the best purpose for a literary work is the purpose it serves to you, or the purpose you need it to serve.
"I'm dreaming that I'm here, laden with these shackles; and I dreamt that I found myself in another, more flattering condition. What is life? A frenzy. What is life? An illusion, a shadow, a fiction, and our greatest good is but small for, all of life is a dream and even dreams are dreams."
(Life Is A Dream 123)
I did some research prior to reading the play and discovered that the above soliloquy is equal to that of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" but in Spanish. It irks me to know that the play is translated from Spanish. I can't help but wonder what I'm missing in the translation. In my European Lit class we read many novels that were translated into English and every novel just lacked something, even if they were highly praised books.
Aren't we always wishing our life was different? Or rather, it was more "flattering?" It's hard to be happy with what you have and especially in Segismundo's situation. He's never had a chance at a real life for any length of time yet and is constantly being drugged. No wonder, life is but a dream.