October 2009 Archives

Just like Blogging

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           I really like how Keats uses comparisons in this poem that relate his love of reading to Chapman's "Homer". Keats explains that he has read and analyzed a massive amount of writings when he says,

"Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,

And many goodly states and kingdoms seen:

Round many western islands have I been" (1-3).

I have never read the Illiad or the Odyssey or any of Homer's works for that matter; however, I am quite certain a lot of traveling occurs in both stories. I find it fitting that Keats describes having a lot of experience with literature with that of traveling and knowing many places around the world.

            Reading Keat's poem reminded me of blogging. In class we have to blog about each reading. Keats did the same here after reading Chapman's "Homer". The only difference is that Keats wrote it in the form of a poem. Keats expresses his knowledge of literature and his feelings after reading the piece, just like we do in class. We admit what we know, what we have learned, how we feel, what we like or dislike, any revelations we may have had; many of which, can be seen in Keat's poem. Keats describes his awakening in these lines:

"That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne,

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene

Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then I felt like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken" (6-10).

            He expresses having heard of Homer's greatness, but never having appreciated his work until now. I felt similarly when we read "Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet". I had never heard of the author before, but I really enjoyed the play. After reading that piece, I actually wanted to give Shakespeare a second chance.   

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Factual vs Flowery

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"If all Keats had written had been a paragraph like this one, we would pay little attention to it, for it conveys no excitement or wonder" (Roberts 141).

            I agree with this comment; however, I am going to pick at it a little bit. First of all, it sounds as if Roberts is saying that writing is not interesting unless it is flowery. While that may be true for many forms of writing, some simply do not follow this rule. For instance, if I were to read an article in the paper about a current event, I would expect to read the facts and only the facts. Some pieces simply need to get straight to the point. However, would it be more beneficial to make the facts more interesting? Would you rather read that increasing gas prices are crushing our economy like a mudslide (lame I know) or would you rather be given straight forward facts? I don't think I would mind a simple simile like this; however, if the current event was written in one big massive metaphor or simile, I would be pretty annoyed. If an article in the paper is going to have similes or metaphors in it, I think the author should stress having a greater ratio of facts to entertaining comparisons.

            This quote also made me think about writing student research papers. I would rarely if ever use similes or metaphors in a research paper for a school assignment. I guess I might use a short, catchy phrase if anything, but nothing long and flowery. I feel like research papers need to be straight forward.  

My Thoughts are Haunting Me

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            I'm sure we all have experienced the power of negative thoughts. Think one negative thought and suddenly a thousand more come pouring in. That seems to be what happened when Shakespeare wrote this poem, or perhaps Shakespeare was attempting to bring out this curse of thought intentionally. The sonnet begins with a harmless reflection on thought:

 "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,

I summon up remembrance of things past (1-2).

Then the speaker seems to think about dreams or ambitions that he/she never accomplished, thus, beginning the flow of negative thought:

 "I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste" (3-4).

Now pessimism strikes. Rather than remembering all of his/her successes in life, the speaker enters a world of self pity. We can only imagine the speakers thoughts of "I am such a failure", "Now it is too late for me to accomplish anything great", "I am worthless". This progresses to the speaker remembering all the hardships he/she has faced. Now the speaker is drowning in his/her own flow of negativity, suffocating in overwhelming memories of grief:

"For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,

And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight" (6-8).

            It takes strength to stop the flow of negativity. Some may allow themselves to cry and find that they feel better afterwards. Others may think happy thoughts, thus putting themselves on a new positive frequency of thought. Unfortunately others would rather stay on the train of self pity, choosing to remain depressed. The speaker of this poem seems to break the cycle of negative thought in the last two lines of the poem. These last two lines are set apart from the rest by being slightly indented in order to demonstrate the transition of thought from negative to positive:

     "But if the while I think on thee (dear friend)

     "All losses are restored, and sorrows end" (13-14).

 The speaker breaks the cycle by thinking about the happy times he/she spent with deceased loved ones rather than the actual death. Rather than continuing to wallop in self pity, the speaker becomes grateful for the happy times he/she had spent with certain loved ones.

One Order of Imagery, Coming Right Up

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"Imagery is therefore one of the strongest modes of literary expression because it provides a channel to your active imagination, and along this channel, writers bring their works directly to you and into your consciousness" (Roberts 129).

            I love this definition of imagery because I have such high respect for this form of literary expression. Not that imagery is difficult or anything (I mean the book said even lake could be imagery), it is just so powerful. Imagery has the power to take you to places you may have never even seen before. You read the words and sculpt an image in your mind using images you have seen to create a new one. Imagery gives you both a mental and physical escape. Physical, in that you can actually place yourself in the vision of the author and escape the present time and mental because of the imagination that ensues.

            John Masefield's "Cargoes" takes us to Palestine, Spain, and even England simply through imagery. We may have never been to these places before, but we can sculpt an image in our minds using the knowledge we already have of the people, time, and culture of these countries. The cargo from each scene helps sculpt images as well, not only of the actual objects, but also of the transportation. When I read "Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine/ With a cargo of ivory/ And apes and peacocks" (2-4) I imagine a pleasant ride home through calm waters. Likewise, with the description of the Spanish "Dipping through the tropics by the palm-green shores/ With a cargo of diamonds/ Emeralds, amethysts" (7-9) I think of a more exotic scene and a bit less calm than Palestine. The treasures being transported are rich, rare, exotic, and precious which adds to a scene of exotic landscape. In contrast, the description of British cargo being "Dirty" (11) "With a cargo f Tyne coal/ Road rails/ pig-lead" (13-14) makes me think of the industrial age. I picture a rough travel, loud engines, dirty workers with sweat and blackness caked on their faces and under their fingernails. I also imagine this to be occurring during rough weather because of the description of the "mad March days" (12).

            This is what I pictured; however, the images will be different for every reader because we all have a different history of images stored in our brains to pick and choose from to sculpt our new images. That is part of the magic and power of imagery. In my opinion, almost every piece of writing has imagery. Everything we read provides new images, new images that we can use to sculpt other images when the time comes. When we read we picture an image in our minds of what is going on, what is being said. Even case studies, with their examples, provide us images. Student research papers provide images through whatever quotes and examples they use to prove their point. I am probably stretching the definition of imagery here. I would not teach that everything is imagery and what not, it is just a personal opinion I need to look into.   

A Coping Method?

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"Ilzecki and his wife didn't come back from the war...But his son remained alive; ours did not. And anyway we had to give Richieu to hide a year later" (81).

When I read these first few chapters, I was taken aback by how upfront the characters were about their hardships. Maybe it is because of the format of the book. It is quite short for telling such a detailed story, a part of someone's history that probably could have been made much much longer. Spiegelman says to his father, "I still want to draw that book about you...about your life in Poland, and the war" (12). He knew from the beginning that this would be an illustrated story, like a comic book. Perhaps he needed to be upfront about all the stories. Having almost constant dialogue makes flowering descriptions and narratives full of adjectives nonexistent.

Time may also have played a role. By now, Spiegelman's father may have accepted what happened in the past. There is no use getting all choked up about something that is now history, right? Maybe not. Maybe it is actually a difficult subject to talk about without simply stating the facts. Maybe telling the story like this is somewhat of a coping method. Going into details, means going into more emotions, which could make telling the story a bit difficult.

Portfolio 2

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Coverage:

Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality?

-Here I discuss how "Goodnight Desdemona" made me willing to give Shakespeare another try. 

Blast That Trumpet Angel

-In response to a class discussion on "Goodnight Desdemona", I discuss how Macdonald eases her readers into Shakespearean language through Constance.

To Be Redone

-Here I attempt to analyze postmodernism in Worsworth and Yeats poems.

I Wish I Could Remember

-In response to Roberts Ch 12, I reminisce on methods I had been taught of how to write persuasive essays in high school as well as what works best for me now. I also discuss how helpful I now find the sample essays.

My Depression is Scarier than You, Mother Nature!

-Here I quote phrases from Robert Frost's "Desert Places" to show the presence of depression in the poem.

My guilty conscience is bad enough! But now I have to see ghosts too?!

-This is my first entry in response to The Quick and the Dead. I question the meaning of Ginger's ghost as being Carter's guilty conscience.

What Lets You Do Bad Things?

-Here I analyze two opposing quotes from Corvus and Alice and the possibility of a religious meaning behind the two ideas.

Sleeping in a Nursing Home

- In this entry, I argue my idea that Annabel, Alice, and Corvus represent stages of life.

Just Enough to Pull Me In

-Here I analyze a book review by Janet Maslin on a Jodi Picoult novel.

Depth:

Sleeping in a Nursing Home

My guilty conscience is bad enough! But now I have to see ghosts too?!

My Depression is Scarier than You, Mother Nature!

I Wish I Could Remember

Blast That Trumpet Angel

Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality?

Interaction:

Good Night Childhood, God Morning Maturity - Gladys Mares

-I added to the discussion of Disney by discussing subliminal messages in classic Disney movies.

Once upon a midnight dreary - Aja Hannah

-I added to the analysis of death and suicide in Robert Frost's "Desert Places".

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING - Shellie Polly

-I agreed with a comment from Josie on how to read The Quick and the Dead  

Who Saw that Coming? We Did. - Josie Rush

-I added my opinion on Annabel's mourning process.

Infuso-what? - Karyssa Blair

-I added to the conversation by analyzing a quote and question from Karyssa.

1-D Characters - Aja Hannah

-I added to the discussion of what makes a character round or flat and provided a definition from a website.

Walk the Line, Corvus, Walk the Line - Josie Rush

-I gave my opinion as to why we are not given Corvus's point of view after her house burns down.

Charlotte's Web and Alice in Wonderland... - Jessica Orlowski

-I discuss foreshadowing and the importance of children's novels in The Quick and the Dead.

Symbolism Abounds - Karyssa Blair

-I added my interpretation that Annabel, Alice, and Corvus represent stages of life.

Discussion:

Sleeping in a Nursing Home

What Lets You Do Bad Things?

Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality?

Blast That Trumpet Angel

Timeliness:

Goodnight Juliet, Good Morning Homosexuality?

Blast That Trumpet Angel

To Be Redone

I Wish I Could Remember

Just Enough to Pull Me In

Xenoblogging:

Good Night Childhood, God Morning Maturity - Gladys Mares

-I provided a link to a video on youtube showing the hidden images in Disney movies.

Infuso-what? - Karyssa Blair

-I answered a question from Karyssa with my interpretation.

1-D Characters - Aja Hannah

-I helped Aja analyze whether or not the minor characters in The Quick and the Dead were flat or round and provided a definition from a website.

Wildcard:

Sleeping in a Nursing Home

 

Just Enough to Pull Me In

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/24/books/24masl.html

            I really enjoyed reading Janet Masin's review of Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. This is a novel I read a few years ago; however, I thought it worked best for this assignment being that the other novels I most recently read had merely one or two sentence reviews. Being that it has been a few years since I read this book, Masin's review really helped me remember the plotline and the significant meanings in the book. Without giving away any major events, she simply raises questions that the book raises in the very beginning and provides detailed character descriptions. I love the way she began her article by writing about Picoult's journey; "Some of it took her to a prison in Arizona, where she found herself right next to the lethal-injection gurney while discussing the death penalty with the warden. She also visited a gas chamber. She spoke with a condemned man". Immediately she pulls her readers in by showing where the novel will take place and that it will be about a much debated and touchy concept: the concept of death row. Masin targets those who are unfamiliar with Jodi Picoult by describing her success as a writer, "Ms. Picoult's books currently top both The New York Times's hardcover and paperback best-seller lists". I was really impressed with Masin's ability to write a description of all the major characters without boring me. She comments on the comedic relief of the lawyer, Maggie, and the mysteriousness of Shay, the death row inmate, or as Masin recalls the nickname he is given in the novel 'the Death Row Messiah'. Overall, Masin succeeded in cutting a complex novel down to size by raising unanswered questions that I believe most people would want to read to find out.

 

What Lets You Do Bad Things?

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"'I think you can only do bad things,' Corvus said, 'if you forget you're going to die"' (148).

"'Remembering you're going to die lets you do bad things' Alice said" (148).

            I found these quotes quite interesting. I am not sure whether or not Corvus is religious; however, her opinion seems to fit in well with how people who believe in God or some other supreme being may feel. If you forget you are going to die, then you also must be putting off the idea that a supreme being will eventually judge you; therefore, forgetting lets you sin.

            Alice on the other hand seems to share an opinion most would who do not believe in a God or gods. When you remember you are going to die, you have an excuse to do what you want regardless of what is right. You only have your time on earth once and you don't know when that time will come to an end so why not have some fun, right?

Sleeping in a Nursing Home

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            I may be reaching here, but I think Annabel, Alice, and Corvus represent different stages of life: childhood/adolescence, middle age, and old age. First of all, Annabel's obsession with belongings, looks, and boys places her in the childhood/adolescence stage. During her first conversation with Alice, she says "but usually I'm very conscious of my body and I want to look pretty and have pretty things and be happy" (29). She also seems less concerned about her morals and more concerned about what others think. She goes on a camping trip "wearing a shiny red jacket that looked expensive" (140). Rather than being reasonable by dressing in frumpy clothes suitable for a camping trip she has to look her best. She also cares more about the number of boys she had sex with rather than having sex with someone she is in love with (31).  Her image is what is most important to her.

            Alice sees this immaturity in Annabel, frequently contradicting her, and acts more like that of someone going through middle age. Rather than sharing Annabel's obsession with looks, she observes disapprovingly saying, "'She wants to perfect parts of herself by choosing patinas and little adornments and effects that are apparently recognized by people she wants to be recognized by, or so she says.' Alice frowned" (61). Alice contradicts matters of life and questions what mainstream society thinks. She and Corvus both make comments regarding death: "'I think you can only do bad things,' Corvus said, 'if you forget you're going to die"' (148). Alice contradicts saying, "'Remembering you're going to die lets you do bad things'" (148). Annabel would rather focus on herself rather than these complex ideas, which is demonstrated in the following quote:

"'That guy wasn't up to this kind of thinking,' Alice said.

Who is? Annabel thought" (149).

Perhaps Annabel has not yet experienced enough of life to think as complexly as Alice and Corvus. Maybe it is true that we become wiser with age; therefore, Alice and Corvus can think in a more mature, analytical way.

            As Corvus deals with her grief, she seems to come closer and closer to death and is ready to throw in the towel so to speak in her old age frame of mind. Despite her grief, she chooses to volunteer at a nursing home, a place she will soon feel at home at. She even says "I don't hate anybody" (204). She soon begins to only sleep and go to the nursing home: "'That young woman sleeps too much,' her granny said. 'I wish there was something we could do for her"' (206). Alice, being in the middle aged frame of mind, feels uncomfortable in the nursing home. For instance, she tells Corvus, "I don't do as well in this place as you do" (181). Going to the nursing home becomes second nature to Corvus near the end of the novel, "She pulled out, shifting slowly, no thought arising, to Green Palms" (275). Corvus's stages of grief seem to parallel her symbolic aging. Eventually, she lands herself in an empty room at Green Palms. Like most elderly people, she ends her aging in a nursing home.

"'Come with me, Carter. Come to where I am"' (85).

            I have been trying to analyze the meaning of Ginger's ghost in the first 100 pages. Being that we have only read one third of the book so far, my interpretations will most likely change drastically by the end of the novel.

            So far my take on Ginger's ghost is that she is actually a part of Carter's conscious talking to him, kind of like the voice in your head that helps you decide what to do. Another way of looking at it is like in cartoons and movies where you see yourself dressed as a devil on one shoulder and as an angel on the other. I think we all have conversations with ourselves through thought. We analyze our decisions, the possible outcomes of our decisions, the meaning of our existence, etc.

            To further analyze Ginger as a voice inside Carter's head, perhaps she is the voice of his guilty conscience. In the first conversation we witness between the two, Ginger says, "'Speaking of stones. I wouldn't have minded one of my own. You could've inscribed upon it 'Here lies the victim of an unhappy marriage.' Nothing fancy, just to the point"' (33). She visits Carter almost every night reminding him of all the mistakes he made during his marriage to Ginger. He seems to want to move on, find someone else, find peace and happiness again, but his guilty conscious prevents him from doing so. He imagines how Ginger would feel about him already moving on to a new relationship, "'Carter, I swear, if I ever catch you in this bed with anybody. I'll give you both heart attacks"' (35). He starts to have odd feelings about Donald, his gardener. In his mind it's almost as if he is thinking, what are these feelings? Could I be falling for a man? Oh dear God, could I be bisexual? That's when Ginger comes along, the guilty conscience to interrogate and insult him for these digressions, "'It's humiliating the way you're all a-bubble around those young men. And that one man..."' (85).

            Carter's guilty conscience also comes in the form of Ginger to tell him that he is a bad father. She says to him, "'Come with me, Carter. Come to where I am"' (85). Could he be contemplating suicide here? I think so. Then he remembers Annabel and thinks in the form of Ginger, "'Annabel? She'll get along. Children stay children for far too long. Annabel will be fine. You're not raising her properly anyway, what with those soirees you're always hostessing"' (85). This quote is what first got me thinking Ginger's ghost was Carter's guilty conscience. The way Annabel seems to adore her mother makes me think Ginger would not be so quick to encourage Carter to leave Annabel as an orphan. Therefore, I feel as though this quote had to of come from Carter's thoughts not Ginger.

 

My Depression is Scarier than You, Mother Nature!

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"To scare myself with my own desert places" (16)

            When I first read this poem all I could think about was depression. The phrases "loneliness" (8), "blanker whiteness" (11), "no expression, nothing to express" (12) jumped out at me as signs of inner pain. The quote, "Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast/ In a field I looked into going past" (1-2) especially struck a chord in me. This seemed to be describing someone who had hoped to get through the depression but instead found him or herself becoming too overwhelmed and buried by the pain. Then the speaker goes on to say "And the ground almost covered smooth in snow/ But a few weeds and stubble showing last" (3-4), which only further embellished by interpretation. It seemed as though the speaker felt as if only a small part of him or herself was still able to fight the angst of depression, but was losing the battle to the overwhelming strength of the grief. We have no control over nature's forces, such as, snow storms, cold, heat, etc.; therefore, I found it appropriate that the speaker related his or her pain to being caught in these circumstances. Yes, one could be medicated, go to therapy, or find other methods of help to overcome the depression; however, sometimes the pain is just too much to bear as the speaker seemed to be feeling. When the speaker said, "They cannot scare me with their empty spaces" (13), I took it as meaning the speaker felt his or her own feelings of depression were more frightening than the strength of nature.

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