March 2009 Archives

Racism at its best

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I read Invisible Man before and I was equally dissatisfied with it when I read it then. I will say now that I hate this book because it disturbs me. Chapter Two ruined it. And I feel like I am in the dark the entire time. I can't picture any part of the book clearly.

That said, this book is full of things to write on from the representation of gold coins during the boxing fight in Chapter One to the black man having to turn into a savage to fight for his education to be "distinguished." The names and characters also represent different things like Bledsoe represents the pain the slaves went through from the chain he keeps to his him. The slaves "bled" "so" that we can be free now or "bled" "so" much... I'm not quite sure.

I'd like to talk about the paints though in chapter 10. The idea of keeping "America pure with Liberty Paints" (196) is blatantly favoring whites. The idea of purity = white paint, the white-ist paint ever. But the ironic part is that this great white paint comes from a brown substance that you have to add black to to make it white.

Is Ellison commenting on the idea that everyone originated from the middle-east/Africa and, therefore, the whites came from the browns and blacks? Or that the work of the black slaves is what really built the white America that the author lives in. I dunno.


Dad, Not Daddy

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"I made a model of you / A man in black with a Meinkampf look / And a love of the rack and the screw. / And I said I do, I do."

It seems to me that Plath makes the narrator a daughter who, at first, adores her father and is bitter when he dies. Now, the daughter is reflecting on her father for who he really is and who she thought he was.

At the quote that I pulled out above, I thought of something interesting. Is Plath suggesting that the author admired her (abusive?) father so much that she went in search of someone similar to him that she would marry. The words "I do, I do" certainly seem to suggest this.

Is the narrator like daughters who come from unstable relationships with their dads and, commonly, find men that treat them the same way. It seems the narrator here blames many of her choices in life on her father.

What is also odd to me is that she still addresses him as "Daddy"? Is that her childishness showing through? Or is she using it ironically? Why not use something less personal, more grown up like Father or Dad? I think Plath uses the word Daddy here to symbolize that the narrator has actually not moved on yet from idolizing her father or, at least, that because of her past the narrator has difficulty growing up and, therefore, moving on.

Sylvia Plath Assignment

Look Before You Leap

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I think it is fun that Elizabeth Bishop wrote The Armadillo for Robert Lowell, the next poet we read. I only wish I knew what it was about. Any help?

As for the rest of Bishop, I liked Manners and Filling Station. I found it amusing that when the mare got tired at the end of Manners that the people still have "manners" for the animal and got down to walk up the hill. The had to hustle up Hustler Hill.

I have a question about Filling Station though. What exactly was Bishop's or really the narrator's idea of the station? It seemed to me that they really disliked it and couldn't imagine people living there. But at the end, the narrator says "Somebody loves us all." Are they being sarcastic? It may help if I knew what a doily, hirsute begonia, and a taboret is.

Onto Robert Lowell, I liked Returning Turtle (RT) more than Bringing A Turtle Home (BTH) because the former was easier for me to understand. The allusions to Mount Olympus and Castine in BTH I just didn't get, but I do understand The Great White Father and the Sioux in RT.

My favorite part was "...[we] watched the turtle/ rush for the water like rushing into marriage,/ swimming into uncontaminated joy," because I thought of the many people who "rush" into marriage young and full of life. When the marriage ends (either in death or divorce), they are often left tired and joyless. But, I couldn't find any negative for the turtle besides the "look before you leap" cliche. Even then, the turtle comes to no harm.


Bats, Drinks, and Horses: Oh My!

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As I was reading Roethke, I remembered I'm not much for poems about nature, even with the new, dark twist that he gives them. It's just isn't me. Although, I do like poems about animals (we can argue that that is nature later) so I really enjoyed his poem The Bat on page 8. It captures that mysterious feel I get when I see a bat. I'm slightly alarmed, but not exactly put off. I also liked his comparison of bats to mice. He's right and I hadn't thought of it that way before.

Also, as bad as My Papa's Waltz is I also enjoyed deciphering that poem and the effort Roethke put into making the fight a waltz, even in the rhythm of the poem. I found it odd though that such a big man, as I read in his beginning biography, would write about something like this. It seems, after I read the biography, that he would be the father (with his alcholism problem and his giant stature), but perhaps when he was still young and small he learned these traits (alcohol and abuse) from his father.

Last, in Elegy for Jane the narrator is neither the father or lover of Jane. Was Roethke just writing something for his student who was thrown by the horse and died? Is the poem a way to remember the student? Did this actually happen? Or is it something completely different?

More on Roethke

OMG Yes! And the Bible

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I finally got something out of the book that I agree with and learned instead of "oh, I would have known that if I really paid attention." It's irony. I'm not very good at irony. The best I've done could be compared to Foster's billboard (really cheesy). I've known the definition of irony and sometimes I can recognize it, but the examples really helped. I wouldn't have realized the irony of the road or the arrow until it was shown to me.

But onto something I can discuss...(Cause I still can't really define/explain irony(Oh! That's ironic!))

"...try to find a reading perspective that allows for sympathy with the historical moment of the story', that understands the text as having been written against its own social, historical, cultural, and personal background" (228-9).

This reminds me of what I am doing for my Honors Jesus class. We read some of the passages and analyze them, keeping in mind what predjudices Jesus grew up around and what he was educated through (Hebrew scripture and the Torah). This way we find what was real about the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the Jesus of Scripture. For example, the gospels were written anonymously at first and Mark (what is thought to be the oldest) has four different endings.

It is thought that the original writer of Mark ended it the first way with the women saying nothing about the resurrection of Jesus and not seeing him to be risen, and then someone later added more to the ending.

Also, the gospels differ because they may have been written for different crowds or purposes. Some may have elaborated on Jesus's miracles or what he really said because they wanted to convert people. The gospels were written much later after Jesus's death so who really would still have (word for word) what Jesus said. Many of the people who had been alive to see Jesus's work would have died.

A big controversy/discussion is about Jesus having siblings. I could go into that now, pulling up all evidence to support and deny this, but I won't unless someone asks for it. This blog is already too long.


Making Sense of the Myths

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Throughout this reading, I was confused as to what the myth of the garden was. I think the garden is meant to reflect Eden, but I'm not sure what the myth behind it is. Is it that America is Eden or that that is just the American Dream and, therefore, American Dream=(America is Eden)?

That would make sense if the westerners moved to the west because they thought anything can happen in America and the country is big enough (plentiful enough) for everyone. That would be supported by this passage: "Parallel visions of world dominance and transcendental bonding with nature created a unique blend of ideologies which sought to simultaneously sustain an extractive economy and an unspoiled, untrammeled frontier."

I think the America Dream = America is Eden is what the myth of the garden is because Cassuto later says, " America offered a new beginning wherein land and settler could merge into a single corporate entity and recover, through diligence, husbandry, and mettle, the lost paradise of Eden."

But, as I was searching for a thesis, I found in the beginning, " ...The Grapes of Wrath represents an indictment of the American myth of the garden and its accompanying myth of the frontier." I think this is the thesis (but that is a whole other journal entry), but what is the myth of the frontier?

I think what is said above better supports an idea of the myth of the frontier than a myth of the garden unless the myth of the frontier is this: " the 1920s, the frontier was closed and Americans had bought solidly into the notion that technology and God would see to it that the Great Plains became the agricultural capital of the world.

Cassuto also has a quick answer: "The frontier myth posited that land in the West was uninhabited by anybody with legal rights and that the strength of the nation lay in its boundless and unsettled western frontier. The myth of the garden held that the land would yield bountiful harvests to any American willing to work it."

Another question: What exactly is he arguing? In part one, he seems to be arguing that people during the Dust Bowl were stupid and everything could have been avoided if they just had a little more intelligence and were willing to let go of the myths.

But, the title of the article and discussion at the end of part one/start of part two seems to be about water and its symbolization throughout the story/the real Dust Bowl. Is the thesis: Water in The Grapes of Wrath is important symbolically and literally? (Because that just seems too obvious). Or is part one just setting up (background info) for the real point?

My last question: What is yeoman/yeoman ideals? To be one with the land? To work the land? To make themselves from nothing to something?


About the Mockup

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I am excited about the look of the new Setonian Online. At first glance, it is a real improvement from what we had. I'm glad to see pictures and color and a horizontal navigation bar. I agree that the bar should be made bigger so that viewers can easily pick it out and know where they want to go.

That said, I think it also looks a little crowded. There is a lot of text going on and links. In my opinion, it is a little too much. Things seem squished and shoved in as an effort to make sure everything is seen. I think we need to evaluate what should go on the homepage. For example, games may just need to be a tab in navigation unless we have just created a new game.

Inside Higher Ed still had a lot of links and words, but for some reason it seemed less crowded. I enjoyed their internal layout also with the exception of all the scrolling. Yahoo articles handle this well. When their articles run too long, they give an clip of the first few paragraphs and if the reader wants to continue reading they can push a button that shows the rest of the article instead of scrolling past the article to get to the comments section.


Movies, Doctors, and Illness

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In chapter 24, when they are talking of consumption I thought of how not just literature uses illness. Moulin Rouge gave Nicole Kidman (Satine) consumption. I didn't think anything about this before, but I guess I can try to relate it now.

Satine was a whore and had never been in love. She thought she wanted money in the place of love, but she does finally fall in love. Only the love is hopless just like her dying of consumption. Her beautiful love could never last and neither could she. She "wasted away" without knowing it just like she didn't know her romance couldn't work until the end of the movie.

Another idea with this chapter is that I think author's could still use fever. There are still some diseases and cases where the doctors can't find a cure or diagnosis. And the author could put the character in a situation where they can't get to a doctor.

Last, I think that Foster is wrong when he says, "This (diagnosing virtually any disease)strikes me as a case where the cure is definitely worse than the disease, at least for literature." I think literature can be improved using all of these forms of diagnosis for entertainment like in House. And, although I can't think of it right now, there could be metaphors and deep meaning behind these things.


The Bible and Pedophelia

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I have many questions about this play, but I should chose to only focus on one or a few. The biggest: What is the main point of the play? A comedic view on the follies of humans?

Why are their so many bible references? At some point (and order), they stop making sense. Cain, of course, is the evil brother of Abel that kills him to get the land right? And the mysterious baby at the end could be like baby Jesus cause Gladys never has sex? (That we know of) Of course, the Flood and Noah's arc in Act II.

Other refrences are: Moses as a character and Eva/Adam promise ring...the singing/chanting in Hebrew and either Greek or Aramaic. Is all of this in any particular order? Like Old Testemant to New or something?

Last thing, did anyone else find it weird the 12 year old telegrapher mentioned having a wife and two kids?


The First, Never the Last

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Hello again to everyone (the few) who read my blogs so far. It is time for the portfolio to lay out what I have learned/done in the few weeks of EL267: American Literature. More information about the porfolio's purpose can be found above, but below I will add links that demonstrate my ability to create coverage, timeliness, depth, interaction, and discussion.


Racism and Sex

Those Crazy Southerners

Not the Road Less Traveled By

Let's Talk About the Weather


Not the Road Less Traveled By

Edward Cullen and the Holy Grail

Ladder to Heaven

Grim as the Dickins-on


Not the Road Less Traveled By

Edward Cullen and the Holy Grail

Ladder to Heaven

A Turtle in Disguise

Those Crazy Southerners


A Turtle in Disguise

Nameless Abortions

Grim as the Dickins-on

Fight or Flight...Or Neither

Ladder to Heaven


Rosalind Blair

Nikita McClellan

Juli Banda

Nathan Hart

Andrew Adams (One Story)

Movable Type is not allowing me to link everything at this moment. Please visit my blog's homepage or the archives to find these other entries.

More Portfolios for EL267

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