Friday, March 5, 2010

Yay for this class!

I just wanted to post one final time to say how much I've thoroughly enjoyed this class and every student in it.  Weekly, you brought questions and insights that blew me away and really opened up these texts in fascinating ways.  Rock on with your bad selves!

I hope you all drop by and say hello to me from time to time and keep me posted on what you're up to.  With luck, our paths will soon cross again in another class.

I'm checking posts now and will turn in grades later today.  I never e-mail grades to students, but you should have your results from the college soon.  If you have any questions or concerns, please stop by and see me.  I'm in 303B East from 8:15-11 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Monday, February 22, 2010

No posts from me this week

only some themes/ideas to think about while I prep the last two classes of our session--

social inequity


cultural collision

collapse of time and history into the present

"reality" and how to portray it



natural world


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post-Lesson: Reflecting on our newly created "Happy Endings"

Is it just me, or do the happy endings seem to be the most absurd?  Take a story like "I Stand Here Ironing" (sad ending), and it seems totally accurate.  Pretty Woman, on the other hand, only becomes more absurd the more your strip it down.  Does this say something about humanity or about our stories?

Love and Carver

Was this, or was this not, the perfect antidote to Valentines' day?

Consider Carver my box of chocolates to you all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I've read that there are two basic plots:

A man goes on a journey
A stranger comes to a town

and really, it's shocking how well these work.  Huck Finn?  A man goes on a journey.  Jane Eyre? A woman goes on a journey.  Light in August? A stranger comes to a town.  Moby Dick? A man goes on a journey.  And so forth.  Some would say this is depressing--why keep writing these two narratives?--but glass full people will recognize just how possible it is to make these stories new over and over and over.  Mainly, though, it leaves  me feeling uncomfortably close to being a structuralist, but I digress...

Margaret Atwood's "Happy Endings" works in a similar vein, calling our attention to the underlying narratives that are perhaps too common, and more importantly, makes me think about the gender implications of these common endings.  Ah, John and Mary.  Adam and Eve.  What have you.

I'll save talk of this until class, though.  For now, let me just add that Atwood's novels are amazing.  Oryx and Crake is one of my favorites of the last decade. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Towards a definition of poetry

My friend Jeff (rockstar/poet) just posted this on Facebook, and I thought I'd pass it along for you to consider.  (NB: I also stole the title for this blog post from him.  Good writers borrow.  Great writers steal.  Bonus points if you know who I've just paraphrased without having to Google it.)

Poetry is knowledge, salvation, power, abandonment. An operation capable of changing the world, poetic activity is revolution by nature; a spiritual exercise, it is a means of interior liberation. Poetry reveals this world; it creates another. Bread of the chosen; accursed food. It isolates; it unites. Invitation to the journey; return to the homeland. Inspiration, respiration, muscular exercise. Prayer to the void, dialogue with absence; tedium, anguish, and despair nourish it. Prayer, litany, epiphany, presence. Exorcism, conjuration, magic. Sublimation, compensation, condensation of the unconscious. Historic expression of races, nations, classes. It denies history: at its core all objective conflicts are resolved and man at last acquires consciousness of being something more than a transient. Experience, feeling, emotion, intuition, undirected thought. Result of chance; fruit of calculation. Art of speaking in a superior way; primitive language. Obedience to the rules; creation of others. Imitation of the ancients, copy of the real, copy of a copy of the Idea. Madness, ecstasy, logos. Return to childhood, coitus, nostalgia for paradise, for hell, for limbo. Play, work, ascetic activity. Confession. Innate experience. Vision, music, symbol.

--Octavio Paz, The Bow and the Lyre

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I always read "Diving Into the Wreck" as a metaphor for diving into any type of study.  I'm not alone in this, right?  How you have to figure out how to move, how there never is anyone there to tell you when the ocean begins, how you end up staring at all the dead faces and make your own sense of them, as if the person behind the mask breathing the foreign air from a private tank was not a part of the scene....