October 31, 2004

What they lack in literary style...

In the wake of reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and philosophers, such as Aristotle and William James, who I find are rather verbose and figurative, the Native American writings of my American literature class are rather uninspiring in style. The plots of creation and how the whites impugned upon them--well everything, is great, but the style is simplistic, lacking the posh oratorical techniques of Socrates, of which I have become accustomed.

I will attribute these shortcomings to the fact that Native Americans were nomads, rather than safe thinkers walled up in Athens; the Native Americans were more concerned with finding the next herd than the best phrase. And understandably so.

In inundating students with texts with difficult diction and metaphorical passages, instructors think they are challenging the class. And in most cases they are, but I have read difficult texts and I can read them (with dictionary firmly in hand); what takes me off guard is a simplistically written text.

I read too much into it, attempting to grasp something that may not even be there; for example this description struck me: "that the old man rode a white-faced bay with white hind legs and the old woman rode a brown mare with a bay colt," making me think that the colors of the animals have some sort of importance, when the author probably just meant to stress that horses are an important part of Native American culture--so much so, that when one is approaching, one not only notices the man or woman, but also their steed.

Sorry, I just had an image of Shrek. "Did you hear that? She called me a noble steed."--Donkey cracks me up.

Now that I think about it though, Native Americans were most concerned with the stories--not the style. In oral literature, the style comes from the individual, rather than the work. Telling the stories, keeping all of them for future generations reminds me of the Hebrew writers in the Bible.

Just as the Hebrews entered Babylonian captivity, the Native Americans entered the captivity of the Europeans, and later American cultures. In keeping this oral tradition alive, the Native Americans kept their culture alive. However, the Native Americans made a mistake, that the Hebrews did not. The Hebrews wrote down everything, in addition to oral history. Now, as witnessed in some of these writings, such as "How the White Race Came to America and Why the Gaiwiio Became a Necessity," question marks accent the transcript of the oral history. Though in biblical texts some words are, to use a movie title, lost in translation, however, several languages, such as Greek, Latin, and English, have been applied to the texts for a better understanding of terms ambiguous when translated.

I am all about mixing and matching classes this semester. Hebrew Scriptures, Western Cultures and Traditions, Philosophy, and American Literature all rolled into one blog. Sheesh.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:25 AM | Comments (5)

October 30, 2004

Response to John Henry: Tech vs. Humanity

I just posted this comment concerning John Henry: Steel Driving Man on Linda's blog:

I think that the "necessary evils" you mention are not evil at all and that humanity is reaching a potential, through technology, far greater than our physical capabilities.

Can you compute calculus equations in seconds? Can you lift a building and transport it to someplace else? No--at least I can't.

While people are still trying to find a place amid all of the technology that is reigning in our time and society is changing because of these advancements, people are the same, just expressing themselves in a different way.

While we do have the things that maybe shouldn't be computerized (i.e. your checkout and gas up experiences) human physical capabilities are sometimes just not enough--that is why our reason--our minds are equipped with ideas that provide these advancements, which in most cases, do improve our standards of living. I mean, who really wants an outdoor toilet, or only communicate with friends once a month as the letter crosses the mountains? Not me. If those are my choices, give me the impersonal checkout any day.

The last little note about checkouts was from past experience. No one should have to be a cashier.

Anyway, about John Henry. While Henry does have the whole wonderful human spirit thing going on, I think he is missing the entire point. Technology is a gift of our minds. Reason is our defense mechanism in the absence of claws, fangs, or poisonous darts (idea from Aristotle). As he goes driving away with his hammer, he is looking stupider with each stroke. I am probably going to offend some with that statement, the whole union mentality, but we should seize technology and remember that something has to make it work--humans.

Something missing in humanity? I don't think so. As for all the hoopla about people not communicating in-person as much anymore, I say I would rather communicate less in person to a smaller group, than not communicate at all with friends and family far, far away.

That was for you, Grandma. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:40 AM | Comments (8)

Feminism questioned: "The Devil's Dictionary"

In this EBSCO article, I finally found researched evidence of my belief that Mr. Bierce may have had some pent-up frustrations about women, spilling into his "Devil's Dictionary":

In "The Haunted Valley" a love relationship ends in death because of a woman's infidelity, a theme Bierce comes back to again and again. In his Devil's Dictionary, Bierce defines female as "one of the opposing, or unfair, sex" (Writings 238); he defines fidelity as "a virtue peculiar to those who are about to be betrayed" (240). Infidelity seems to have touched Bierce's own life at several points. His wartime love affair with Bernie (Fatima) Wright appears to have ended with her turning her attentions to other men. For Bierce, even the "faintest suggestion of disloyalty from someone he loved was unbearable" (O'Connor 42). Wright made an impression on Bierce's life that seems to be beyond her importance as an individual. According to Richard O'Connor, she unknowingly "contributed . . . to some of the bitterest anti-feminist phrases ever written" (42). When Bierce was writing "The Haunted Valley," he was courting Mollie Day, his future wife. Was Bierce entertaining suspicions that Mollie would eventually turn her attention elsewhere as Wright had? We will probably never know, but it remains a fact that infidelity figures prominently in his first published piece of fiction written at the time of their courtship. In 1888, Bierce and Mollie separated; the next year Bierce published many of his Civil War stories that use the ravine symbol coupled with the infidelity theme. The most striking instance of this juxtaposition provides the basis for "The Affair at Coulter's Notch," published in October 1889. During the previous summer, Bierce's son, Day, was killed in a duel over his unfaithful fiancee (McWilliams 76-77). (from A HAUNTING MEMORY: AMBROSE BIERCE AND THE RAVINE OF THE DEAD , By: Conlogue, William, Studies in Short Fiction, 00393789, Winter91, Vol. 28, Issue 1)

Sorry I can't provide a link. EBSCO Host is the devil.

While the Conlogue's article does have some issues of doubt, the parallels in this paragraph alone are staggering.

During my presentation a while ago, the controversy was sparked that Bierce was trying to be an early feminist; however, as this demonstrates, he may just be poking fun at women in general for his enjoyment, rather than impelling a change in society.

I came to Bierce's writings literally, as McNab does, rather than the figurative manner that some in the class seemed to do. While I wasn't as extreme as she is: "I can't read much of Bierce's work: the book grows dusty on the shelf because it makes me depressed, and are there quite enough things in life to get a trans woman down without subjecting myself to pages of printed gloom," I did get angry with him for making women look so incredibly wenchy.

I mean, really, how can you spin some definitions, such as FEMALE, n.
One of the opposing, or unfair, sex, into a positive light, supposedly impelling change? However, I can see where one may be mislead in this assertion. In the woman definition, for example, "the woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the American variety (felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk,"
Bierce in a literal sense, bashes women, but if turned around, one can see that Bierce may be making a statement that women are being subjected by masters. By the number of the literal definitions, there are definitely more entries with hits on women, such as queen, and earlier in woman and maiden, that one may note the vision of feminity is not conveyed in the most shimmering form.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2004

Setonian in media spotlight

Learning the art of multi-tasking and double-dipping hehe...

I am doing a project for my Media Production Skills class on how The Setonian is produced. I mean, I spend enough time there, why not profit from that experience and implement it into my class work. As for how The Setonian benefits, I plan on burning my presentation/ad/promo thingy to disk and handing it out to newbies in the spring. Hopefully I will be enlightening and professional. :-)

I am doing sort of doing a voiceover type-thing with shots of the staff working. The voiceovers will provide explanations describing what is happening within each photo.

However, I am faced with some difficulty, I don't know what type of background music I should play. I know that current music would be appreciated, but I want this presentation to look professional, and not dated like the geography books I had in high school with the current president being Roosevelt.

Suggestions always appreciated. Your music faves? Any help on where I could go for free, legal MP3 music downloads? I am constructing the presentation on Microsoft Movie Maker, and that is the only audio format the program recognizes, as far as I know.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2004

Best Gift EVER!


My mom just came home from a church conference in Columbus, OH and brought me this little squirrel back. She got him/her in a specialty store. I have been looking everywhere for one. I guess only Ohioans? Ohioanettes? Ohiourgers? can appreciate the value of a decorative squirrel.

You can't imagine my response when she gave me it. :-)

I don't know what I want to call it...Any suggestions? I can't wait to put him in my car!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:12 PM | Comments (7)

Blogging depression

Okay, so maybe I am getting a wee bit depressed every time I visit my blog. I miss everyone. I miss the wonderful traffic, the talks in school after someone has written an outrageous entry, and the fun of jumping through my archives and seeing every day on blog calendar underlined.

I have been stressing over two blogs that I am supposed to write: one on Native American literature and one on the "Devil's Dictionary" that I did for my speech. Please forgive, Dr. Jerz, I am mentioning assigned blogs. While I will post a rather full and analytical blog on each set of writings, I would just like to vent a bit on each of the readings.

The Native American writings are full of question marks around words. Even the transcribers didn't know what the writers were talking about. Each of the writings seems to meander along, referring to creatures that I do not have any way of knowing, for example this one. While I love reading, I get really irritated when my question marks in the margins outweigh the real notes on the subjects.

As for "The Devil's Dictionary", I did a huge entry on it for my speech, however, the requirement is to blog on all the selected readings. I brought out all my best ideas on my blog about the subject, and this entry is looking rather pathetic in comparison.

As for the number of my blogs this year, I find that I am steadily losing momentum. Blogging, as much as I lament it, has taken a back seat to everything else littering my white, dry-erase board in my room.

About the community relationship too. The freshmen and I have been separated by time, and my fellow sophomores are just as busy as I am, discovering that blogging takes a lot from one's schedule (at least quality blogging).

I feel as if I have sapped enough time away from philosophy, so I must go back to reality--the place where this girl is starting to despise.

I am missing you, Girl Meets World, but know that I will return, full-force one of these days. I know you are jealous of The Setonian.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:07 AM | Comments (5)

October 19, 2004

Twain's Finn, and the adventures therein

Who names their kid Huckleberry? I really don't know. That, and a whole lot of racial views crossed my mind while cruising through the surprisingly, fast read of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, or should I say, the illusive, rather odd character, Samuel Clemens?

The one element of the story that did slow me down was the issue of Jim's "dialect." When I read the disclaimers on the first few pages, I couldn't help laughing:

In this book a number of dialects are used, to wit:...the shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guess-work; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech. I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.

Anyway, as Diana and Stephan said today, going back to figure out what Jim was saying was commonplace. I had a similar experience. Maybe I could get some kind of translation like I had for Shakespeare in high school. No, too boring, and constrained, and structured--don't get me started on English classes in high schools.

In Lit class today, we talked about the character of Jim and his "act" of playing the fool to keep on good terms with Huck. Through that companionship, Jim reaps many benefits: safety through travelling with a white boy, a sympathy vote in a 'chile', I mean child, and someone to keep him company. As for reading the dialect of Jim, I think Jim was putting some of it on to keep Tom believing that he actually was a "hick," that he really talked that way. Or maybe he really did speak that way--he was pretty consistent.

In this article a mention of Fishkin is made. Fishkin teaches Huck Finn and American Culture at Stanford (isn't that cool? :-D), asks "Was Huck black?" While the author of the article does offer some great points about the Fishkin argument:

In any case, for Fishkin to persuade us that Jimmy's talk in particular and BE in general is the main source of these features, she would need to compare Huck's talk not just with Jimmy's but with other oral storytellers speaking other dialects transcribed by other writers. Without such a comparison, we cannot judge how distinctively these features define a speaker as definitely African-American.

I cannot make up my mind because I have not read the original source, and Fishkin's books are a little out of my price-range right now. Besides, I console myself, I don't feel like filling out a form for Inter-Library loan. Maybe I will when I get into this more on my big-ol'-research extravaganza later this month.

In class we had this huge discussion about Huck and why he kept Jim around. We basically hit an impasse and said that Huck was either being nice for the sake of being nice, or he was completely selfish and wanted Jim around to play tricks, such as making Jim think the fog adventure, was a dream. I think that Huck does have a soul; unlike what some of the people said in class, I think Huck, knowing what it feels like to be constrained or hurt from the abuse of his father, does not tie up Jim.

Though the transition of Huck's character has not reached completion, the signs Huck shows: his remorse for leaving the robbers on the boat and his apology to Jim, are not of an unfeeling character, rather a naive, somewhat selfish young man trying to figure out his life, with all the angst that teenagers face today. Huck Finn has transcendent themes, that contrary to today's discussion in class, may be discerned without a history book.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:01 PM | Comments (2)

A new view

Blurred vision. Check. Headaches. Check.

So I a have been having some problems with my vision in the past few months. Prolonged reading in books, computers, driving incessantly, and the fact that my contacts haven't been updated in about two years.

Let it be known to all that I am incredibly near-sighted. So embarrasing. I can't see anything but fuzziness when my contacts are out. Is that a dog...or a really big cat? Um...dunno.

Anyway, today I finally got in, my appointment actually starting on-time.

But I did arrive early. This is not an ordinary office. In my little town, the offices tend to be so as well. I felt like my closet is a bigger space. :-D Just some chairs, carpet, and a few nice-looking advertising boards with people with the fanciest colored contacts and Hilfiger glasses accent the waiting room. So I was there with almost every seat filled--about ten of them. I hate to be an eavesdropper, but one conversation between a mother and her outrageous teenager begged to be heard, principally because they were shouting at each other.

It went something like this:

Mother: Why can't you just leave your sister alone? (whispered, but very audible tone)

Girl: BECAUSE! She gets away with EVERYTHING. I don't understand why I get SCREAMED at all the time, and she just gets away with it. (YELLING! The tones reverberating throughout the closet, I mean waiting room)

Mother: Do you HAVE to yell? (whispering--I can hear every word) You don't act like that in a DOCTOR's office. You don't act like that in a public place (italics mine).

Girl: I am going to say whatever I want. If I feel something I am going to say it. I am not going to keep my feelings in.

Mother: You will learn when you are a parent.

Girl: Who says I want to be a parent?

While I didn't share the yelling part of the interlude in my experience as a teenager--yes I still am one on the verge of being a twenty-something--I did share passionate "discussions" like this with my mom when I was her age.

So much to learn.

Anyway, I couldn't help thinking that this seemed a lot like something out of a WB series. Dawson's Creek, 7th Heaven or something.

Are people really like that? As I write this I can't help but connect it to Doogie Hauser.

So after all of the dramatics by the three little ladies, I was very happy to get inside.

Optometry tests are really scary for me--I never pass them. haha. My eyes are rather bad, flattened corneas or something. I just smile and nod at the blurry face in front of me (my contacts are out at the moment). Thankfully, this doctor seems to know what he is doing. He gave me the 411 on laser surgery and talked me through contact care.

The freakiest part about the entire examination is when he dialated my eyes with this liquid that looks like iodine. I felt like someone was rubbing cotton in my eyes. And very sleepy. I have to get it done again for a prolonged period in December for glacoma testing. Argh.

After that, I got a new pair of contacts, and a free sample of solution. I have another appointment next week. Apparently, he isn't really satisfied with the prescription yet.

I am, though. I can see EVERYTHING now. Blurred vision. Gone. Headaches...well, we'll have to see about getting rid of some stress in my life. Huzzah!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:07 AM | Comments (8)

October 11, 2004

LOL in Library

Just reading some blogs, and I almost died.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:26 PM | Comments (1)

Devilish Definitions

I recall thinking last year while writing a research paper (I am not as naive now) that nothing could be as unbiased as a dictionary. According to my logic then, a definition is a definition and how you define that object is relatively the same from person to person. However, after lots of researching and hitting rather biased sites with definitions favoring their supported view, I quickly amended that conclusion. "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce reminded me of the biases that can influence anything, even those works as supposedly unbiased as a dictionary.

What is this dictionary of the devil?
Background Information on "The Devil's Dictionary"
  • Began as a half-page column in the San Franciscio Wasp in 1881, weekly installments
  • Published the dictionary as The Cynic's Word Book in 1906, although the definitions only ran through half the alphabet, A-L.
  • In 1911 Bierce added the second half, M-Z, in Volume 7 of his Collected Works, this time completing the alphabet.

When I read "The Devil's Dictionary," I didn't read any background, going against my usual habit. Instead, I just read and derived my impressions from the text alone.

Impressions of the text
  • Satirical: The entire text is like something out of Family Guy, pointing out the shortcomings of society. Because I did not do research beforehand, I read over some entries two or three times, finally realizing that this is satire. The text slows one down, suprising the reader with bald statements, rather than euphemisms that dictionaries usually employ. (example: DD: "BORE, n. A person who talks when you wish him to listen." WordNet via dictionary.com: bore, n 1: a person who evokes boredom [syn: dullard])
  • Formal style: Throughout the text, a constant formal style is maintained to look dictionary-like. Lexicographer language is being mimicked.
  • Insertions of other writers to enhance the "credibility": While I did not know all of the quoted sources, the Cromwell quote struck me as odd. Cromwell was born before the American Revolution, so I thought, how could he have used the exact same phrasing as Jefferson? Or did Jefferson take from Cromwell? When I did a Google search for this quote, only Bierce came up, and, I concluded that, in his same satirical manner, he was using bogus quotes to lend credibility to his work. All in good fun, of course. However, I am not quite sure...what is your take on the cited quotations of Bierce?

As I read, I scribbled in the margins. In the process, I began grouping the definitions into


  • Politics: Bierce pokes fun at the politicians and government. Example: AGITATOR, n. A statesman who shakes the fruit trees of his neighbors--to dislodge the worms
  • Opposite sex relationships (usually in the "blissful" state of marriage): While I did notice Bierce criticizing men, I got the impression that women faced the majority of his abuse. Example: FEMALE, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex To most likely conteract this type of assumption, Bierce places two "opposite sex" definitions together in favor of women: BRIDE, n. a woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her. BRUTE, n. See HUSBAND.
  • Self: Bierce repeatedly notes the selfishness of human beings. Example:
    I is the first letter of the alphabet, the first word of the language, the first thought of the mind, the first object of affection. in grammar it is a pronoun of the first person and singular number. Its plural is said to be WE, but how there can be more than one myself is doubtless clearer the grammarians than it is to the author of this incomparable dictionary.
Proposed Purposes of the Dictionary (So What?):
  • To outrage his contemporaries, receiving the name "Fierce Bierce"
  • To inspire societal change. I found definite similarities between "The Devil's Dictionary," and Jonathan Swift's Irish cannibalistic classic, "A Modest Proposal". Both works, through extremist language and the satirical technique of hyperbole, influence the reader's perception of the subject and the narrator's perspective toward that subject; for example, when Bierce defines a Pigmy, he also describes a Caucasian with is a "Hogmie." Though this description the reader understands that Bierce thinks that Caucasians are piggish, and that one should also think this way because it is in such an "authoritative document," flagrantly described as a "useful work" against the "malevolent literary device[s]" of other dictionaries.

That is my take on Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary." Feel free to add your responses to this blog; if you do blog on this subject, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a link here for all to read. Thanks :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:48 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2004

Scrapbooking the blog: Girl Meets World Fall 2004

I blog...yeah, it's something I do. For a year now, I have been writing on this blog, carving out of Moveable Type bandwidth, an entity that is all mine (a bit melodramatic, but it does the trick). And now, my archives are getting pretty stacked; I can't find my best entries amid my ramblings about squirrels, my latest Gabes purchase, and/or event that has marked that day rather odd.

Don't misunderstand me, I love all of those things; they give my blog variety and homeyness that is Girl Meets World, but I am missing the element that is professional A. Cochran. I have added the "filed under" category on my blog recently, which has helped me accomplish some organization, but I thought, periodically, I would compile my blogs to show off my best work, perhaps I can even come back to this entry when I get my graduation portfolio together.

Check them out:

Covering the Classics
  • The Scarlet Letter entry is my example of New Criticism; though I did not use outside resources, I quoted several times from various passages and made conclusions based upon those details. In the comments field, Evan brought up the religious backgrounds of the period; what great insights for such a comment monger. :-)
  • In my entry about "Bartelby the Scrivener," I tried to make a classic work, which is usually a turn-off to my readers, interesting (believe me, my comment counts are almost non-existent on entries about literature). While all of my comments were from people that have some English background, I still got -something- which is more than I can say about last year's crop. Renee and I also discussed Moby Dick versus Bartelby in this entry, whereby Dr. Jerz quoted Parker.
  • One of my favorite entries is "The Bell Recitation" on the poetry slam. Not only documenting a memory, this entry also refers to our methods in conveying the work. This blog combines the elements of personal reflection: my reading experiences, and an analytical Poe interpretation.
  • As I have discovered from my entry on Poe's "The Raven," sometimes the best course is to make it known that you do not know. In this entry, I gave several views, going deeper than a I-feel-this-way style, and allowed my comments field do the talking. Trisha Wehrle and I interacted, as well as Sarah Elwood (in another entry) about this poem. Trisha and I discussed my thought on the narrator's sex, while Sarah and I discussed Poe's symbolism in relation to light and dark descriptions.
  • While my entry on "The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" does not have completely researched ideas, I took some time to find many perspectives and discover a little more about Bierce through several biographies. In writing this blog, I found an idea for my research paper, connecting "Owl Creek" with his life, and also got research help from my classmate, Linda.
  • Perhaps my favorite entry of this fall is on Emerson. Connecting knowledge from course to course is a valuable part of the liberal arts college experience; and in this entry, I brought together four of my classes in philosophical dialogue. Not only does this entry demonstrate that I can remember facts and people, but it also illustrates my capability in applying those principles to each other. In addition, a new word, "philosophomore" was coined. :-D
  • WOW! As I look at this list, it seems as if all of them are pertaining to what I have written for my literature class. So now you ask, "What about all the others, what is the best of the non-literary blogs?" I would have to respond: Bush Latrobe. Go ahead, type it into Google. This will be the first article to come up, and this is my reflection of the experience. Why include this blog? Well, I reflected on writing for an online news source, I used the online site of the Setonian for my credentials, and I demonstrate through my reflection, the many purposes of a blog: a scrapbook, a resume, and an informational resource.

While my blog will always be home, I have gone out--into the unknown--making friends and enemies.

Comments of Note

  • This comment on the sex of the narrator, previously mentioned in my other entries, sparked conversation on my blog between Trisha and I. We also talked about this subject in class. What a ruckus! Amanda mentions homosexuality, and the entire world falls to pieces. :0
  • While Sarah did not comment directly to mine on her blog about her artistic application of Poe in photography, she came to my blog to answer. What a great way to gain a reader base!
  • In response to Stephan Puff's presentation on Emerson and Thoreau, I commented a bit on each writer's style. Though I did not get any response (as of 10/10/04 @ 5:00), this comment demonstrates an attempt to draw others into discussion. In a similar manner, this one on Erin Manko's blog, her first comment on Emily Dickinson. I guess you can't get feedback all the time. :-(

So there they are--my best blogs and comments of the first half of the Fall 2004 semester. Maybe next time I will get pretty pictures and post them sporadically through the entries. A scrapbook is supposed to be a combination of both, right? Here's a prediction pic of me at the end of this week:

Happy Carpenter

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:51 PM | Comments (7)

October 9, 2004

Please describe: "Occurrence"

In my experience, reading a biographies about writers are either boring or wonderfully colorful. I am swept away by the life that is Ambrose Bierce. My romanticism of him may conflict with my readers', but certain elements of his life are astounding. As a Civil War veteran, Bierce worked for a William Randolph Hearst muckraking newspaper: The Examiner, and was considered "America's first true cynic"--and the best part of his story--is that he just disappeared into Mexico, making the man into literary myth.

In the same way that his life has a mystical quality to it, so does his short story, "The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." Description is my favorite thing to analyze in literary works. The first thing I ask is, "Too much, too little [description]?" Throughout this semester, I seem to have been eating Father Bear's porridge and sitting in Mama Bear's chair. With Bierce, however, this Goldilocks found Baby Bear's bed.

The descriptions Sarah calls "fishy" in her pursuit to pinpoint the imaginery shift in tone, I believe make the piece rich; the descriptions drive the entire story. In the descriptive switch, for example, between a dreamy, beautiful homecoming, "his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet" to the fatal, business proceeding of a hanging, "Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge," the story's climax and surprise ending hit the reader with a force that would not have been as forceful with one, singular descriptive tone. That dichotomy is what makes the surprise ending (that, for me, was ruined by this bio).

While looking through some book reviews, I stumbled upon this one about Maupassant and the American Short Story, suprisingly there was something about "Occurrence". According to the article:

"In 'Owl Creek,'...one need only read closely in the section in which Peyton first fans from the bridge (and, in reality, dies) to obtain all the information necessary to interpret the rest of the story correctly as an hallucination.

Allen is making that conclusion based on his knowledge of the ending. Kind of like a person watching The Village and saying that they knew all along what was going to happen. Arrogant Allen, saying "I read closely. I got the joke. Why didn't you?" Just for my credibility, I would not use this source AT ALL for a research paper. PDF files are just too annoying to link to on a blog.

Kudos to Linda on her five stages of death theory. I agree that Farquhar was probably experiencing each of these stages during the story. While the story is in third person perspective, the narration is limited to Farquhar's thoughts, thereby stringing the readers along for the ride through each stage. Expressed most explicitly in what Linda calls the Acceptance segment, the readers are pulled in: "'…recovered from a delirium…' and he sees his home,'…all bright and beautiful' His wife is standing to greet him and he thinks:' Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forwards with extended arms.' Then, the reader must also accept, rather quickly, the ending.


More Bierce to come. Speech on Monday!

If you have read this far, thanks, a lovely parting gift will be waiting backstage. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:16 PM | Comments (3)

October 8, 2004

Friday Frenzy

Apart from freaking about things that are due on Monday, this Friday was cake. A lovely day, only two classes, and a shopping trip to Gabes. While Tiffany, Cara, Chelsie, and I planned on hitting the thrift stores in the area, we had to get back to school for other fun, so we just went to Gabes.

Anyway, when I shop, I shop. I had a buggie full (Southwestern PA for "cart" full) when the rest of my pals only had one or two items. I found a sweet suit for my next speech, formal meeting, or just for the next let's-get-dressed-up-because-I-am-feeling-like-crap day.

Perhaps Monday I will don the suit. I do have a presentation and I have a feeling that I will feel like crap.

But tonight I am taking it easy. Romeo + Juliet, courtesy of pal Athena and Baz Luhrman, is my entertainment. I will be reading some d'Holbach later, and perhaps some Source. I have a feeling the Michener will put d'Holbach to shame. The Source is actually getting pretty good. Recommendations to all who decide Near East culture is worth researching AND have the luxury of plot.

Thus begins my wonderful weekend. Next week looks daunting in my black planner of death. Tests, Setonian production, readings, audio recordings, photos, portfolio AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:56 PM | Comments (6)

October 7, 2004

My hours

I am in the Setonian office right now, listening to John Mayer. I posted hours this week. While I chose this job because I would not have set hours, I think this is a good thing--it makes me be in the office, and it makes the writers and editors, that don't have a key, a little more plugged into the Setonian experience. As of now, however, I am not doing anything Setonian--or anything really, except blogging. I should be reading philosophy. Hume is next on the list. Michener's The Source is also on my list for Hebrew Scriptures. What a great book, especially because I am reading it without thinking that it is homework (ARGH).

I have a speech on Monday about "The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce. I had no idea it was that long. I pasted it into Microsoft Word and I put it into two columns to a page, size 8 font, and it still took up 85 pages. More trees. Lumberjack AC that's me--or Amanda Bunyan. It has a certain ring :-)

I haven't begun reading it, except what I picked up when I copied it. I will update when I have a better impression. I have a feeling the narrator is a smart ace in this one though...

If you are presenting on this topic, or know anything about this topic or Bierce, feel free to post here. You would be doing me a great favor. Or maybe I will offer some incentive: if you post something helpful on this blog, pertaining to "The Devil's Dictionary" or Ambrose Bierce, I will comment on your blog, and we all know how much we need comments for our blogs (for various reasons).

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 6, 2004


I used to watch Animaniacs. You know what I am talking about. The two brothers: Yakko and Wakko and their sister, Dot. "Helllllooo Nurse" and "ZORT!" If you don't know what I am talking about--read up.

Anyway, when I found out we were reading Poe's "The Raven", the immediate thing that popped into my mind was the Animaniac version and how ANNOYING Poe can become, especially in cartoon form.

Beyond the repetition of "nevermore" in "The Raven", I agree with Renee, I just don't get the symbolism of the poem. The raven--bird or statue above the chamber door? Not quite sure.

Then I ask, was that the intent of Poe, to keep his readers in the dark? Pun intended. :-) Probably. The reader gets just as lost as the narrator, strung along in the dark soliloquy.

Such sparse detail in what is actually going on between all the "nevermores" is offered. I wanted to bang my head up against something by the end of the poem. I like Ambrose Bierce better. While Bierce does not give everything, he does not leave the reader hanging either. What is it with me and puns this week? When the narrator mentions that the soldier was a "federal scout," for example, the reader knows something is up, and that Peyton is in trouble. Thanks Bierce for spelling it all out for me. Definite smileys for him. :-D :-) >;-)

While the ambiguous technique Poe employs here does create an overall dark and edgy mood; I despise things like this when quizzes come round, and I don't have a definite answer to refer back to. I know this is a terrible thing to say, but looking for objective answers while reading is a good critical thinking method.

While reading Poe, however, I kept asking myself, "WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?" This poem could be taken in many ways: the bird is not real, the man/woman narrating (you never do discover the gender--wouldn't that be something to study?!) is in a mental institution, the narrator is in the living room of their stately manse (as Zach believes), reflecting upon Lost Lenore. The possibilities are endless. One interpretation by Wikipedia, is that the bird is a figment of the narrator's imagination, "an uncomely real [hallucination], with real black feathers and a real croaking of the single word, 'Nevermore.'" While Wikipedia maintains a certain skepticism about the hallucination theory, the Online Companion to the Norton Anthology accepts the symbolism more readily:

"Poets frequently turn to birds as poetic voices of nature and symbols in their poems...Compare Poe's symbolic use of the raven with that in one of these poems, and think about why Romantic poets in particular are attracted to birds as symbols."

As for the style of the poem, Poe goes crazy over repetition once more--NEVERMORE! However, I must concede that the final lines of each stanza are constructed pretty well, especially at the beginning of the poem; later, though, it seems like Poe got tired of thinking up tricky lines and just started writing, "Quoth the Raven Nevermore". He was probably too busy writing "The Bells" and the "Tell Tale Heart" to notice his little lapse in style diversity.

I welcome comments. Poe eludes me; if someone thinks they have a better grasp than I--please educate me. I need your assistance. :-)

Update: 10/9/04 I haven't made up my mind yet about Poe, even with more research. His style, I have concluded with additional research, is meant to be discordant with reality and sanity. That, in essence, is the appeal of Poe.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:15 PM | Comments (7)

October 5, 2004

She philosophs: Connexions and Emerson

Bombarded by ideas. Yes, that is how I would classify my scholastic experience this year. I am taking Hebrew Scriptures, Philosophy (the biggie), and Western Cultures and Traditions. In the midst of all these classes, I am attempting to differentiate who goes with what era and what they believe. Can someone say "stressful"?

"American Literature," I thought, "now that's a class I can get away from all that..." Foolish Amanda.

Bombarded by ideas. Yes, that is how I would classify my scholastic experience this year. I am taking Hebrew Scriptures, Philosophy (the biggie), and Western Cultures and Traditions. In the midst of all these classes, I am attempting to differentiate who goes with what era and what they believe. Can someone say "stressful"?

"American Literature," I thought, "now that's a class I can get away from all that..." Foolish Amanda.

Emerson. After looking at the sixteen pages and feeling like I just killed three rainforests, I set to work grudgingly. Why? I read Emerson a bit in AP History--that dark era of my high school experience marked by profuse paper cuts and bulging eyes from reading with toothpicks propping up lids.

In other words, I was not looking forward to another reading of Emerson. Sixteen pages! I don't have time for that :-D or so I thought.

So I dove right in, thinking that I should get through the pain quickly. Instead, I was proved wrong once again. I don't say that with distaste. I love being proved wrong, especially by myself.

Emerson is set apart from some of the philosophers I have read so far: Richard Rorty, William James, and John Hick, but strangely similar to Socrates and Marcus Aurelius. I apologize for crossing subjects and eras. I do it all the time in my head; it really works when you are studying to associate one philosopher to another.

Emerson in "Self Reliance", like Socrates in "The Apology", speaks about the supremacy of the self. Both Emerson and Socrates believe in a divine being, however; Emerson repeatedly alluding to biblical principles of "the Last Judgment" and the Almighty, while Socrates relates to the gods.

Ludicrous! I thought upon first glance. How can one put so much stock in themselves and still believe in something greater than that Self? Then I realized that that was what they are trying to express; the divine cannot be reached through a dogma or societal influence, but through internal reflection. Emerson, for example, explains,

I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued adviser who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. ON my saying, What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within? my friend suggested, --"But these impulses may be from below, not from above." I replied, "They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the devil's child, I will live then from the devil."

Socrates has a similar experience in addressing the Greek assembly. "For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons or properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul."

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, also carried these values. "Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul;" he wrote in Meditations, "above all he who possesses resources in himself, which he need only contemplate to secure immediate ease of mind--the ease that is but another word for a well-ordered spirit."

So what? Here I sit with my three texts open on my desk and wonder...so what...

Emerson brings a vitality to these old ideas, bringing them to a modern culture. When he relates that "libraries overload the wit", for example, I can relate to that. When Socrates says that he goes about the forum all day long looking for young men to persuade, I am a bit distanced by the reference.

Emerson makes it close, keeping you reading. I can say that I read every page of that selection, and I enjoyed it too. In the future, when things calm down and I can sort through the philosophers that make sense to me, I know I will return to Emerson and find a depth there that I had not previously noticed.

The great works, I am learning, such as the Bible, you may return to again and again, picking up fragments and placing them in the puzzle of your mind, coming closer and closer with each reading to a better, fuller understanding of the writer.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:17 PM | Comments (6)

October 4, 2004

More Tidbits

This is the proto-type for amazing things to come...be prepared. :-)

While many of you already know me pretty well--perhaps more than you or I would like...

However, I thought for the new people on the SHU blogs would like to know a little bit about the first year SHU experience and about me.

*FYI: I write about the funny things (at least the events I think are humorous on my blog) Hope you have a good time clicking through my links. Some are old, some relatively new. Just giving you a full flavor of the variety of things I have written about and how I have grown as a writer, blogger and person.

In Past Times

Worst I-can-share experiences
Best I-can-share experiences
Combo Supremos I adore
  • Cappuchino/cookies
  • Cottage cheese and pineapple
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy (What's Atkins'?)
  • Garlic toast and meat sauce
  • Hot fudge and peanut butter ice cream
My Director's Cut
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Bridget Jones' Diary
  • LOTR: Return of the King
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Fight Club

This is kind of fun...HTML isn't the demon that I had previously thought...and bringing a lot of your work together in one place is like a scrapbook that won't go turn to acid ashes as the years pass.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:34 PM | Comments (5)