Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beloved Four

And in conclusion.

Beloved tells the story of not just one family's attempt to deal with a tragic situation, while being constantly haunted by the victim of the tragedy, but also the story of how they got there. What drove Sethe to kill her child? And so Morrison provides for us a glimpse of the live Sethe led, the life Paul D. let, and the lives of those with whom they rubbed shoulders. We see slavery at its filthiest when we see Schoolteacher instructing on the animal characteristics of the slaves, when the women are raped, and the men hung from trees, burned alive, and broken like horses. We see slavery at its finest when Paul D and his brothers are allowed to share their opinions with their owner, who allows them to have guns, and treats them like men. Even in those moments, Paul D. acknowledges that he is only a man because the white man has said he is-whether the slavery is brutal and gruesome or simply servitude, the white man determines the worth and meaning of the black man's very existence. All of these events from the past combined create the woman Sethe was when she killed her daughter. Morrison challenges the readers with the question Who is really to blame? Sethe killed one child, the institution of slavery killed 'sixty million and more'.

Beloved Three

Self Love

In the Clearing, Baby Suggs instructs the people in a new form of worship: self worship. Baby Suggs tells them "More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. more than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart." She instructs those at the Gathering that no one else is going to love any part of them, they are responsible for this love. Self love=self preservation, according to Baby Sugfs. And then there is Sethe. Sethe loves so much that lives outside of her. She laments to Paul D after Beloved leaves that "she was the best of me", to which Paul D replies (in one of the most heart achingly beautiful moments of the book) "You your best thing, Sethe. You are". Sethe has, in her mind loved her children so fiercely and strongly; however, because she fails to love herself, from whom these children come, whether that love is too thick or too thin, it isn't enough to survive. She needs that self love Baby Sugfs preaches on in order to survive these moments.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beloved Two

Margaret Garner- A Modern Medea
Toni Morison based Sethe's character on the real life Margaret Garner, whose story is all the more tragic because it isn't fiction, but a real life scar on America's history. Margaret and her husband and four children escaped slavery and crossed the river into Ohio only to be found and surrounded. As her husband was dragged away, Margaret grabbed a butcher knife from the table and slit her 2 year old daughter's throat. The men grabbed her before she was able to kill the other children. (interesting point here-the children of Margaret all had questionable paternity-all were lighter to white skinned, and born 6-8 months after those born to her owner's wife). "Why did Margaret Garner murder Mary, her own three-year-old daughter? According to Weisenburger, Garner had "a tangled skein of motives: despairing desires to 'save' her children, urges for violent backlash against the master who had probably made her his concubine and who might in turn victimize little Mary, and a destructive spite for her children's whiteness"(Eden, Edward: Modern Medea). While this part of the story is awful, what happens next is all the more sickening. The courts didn't know what to do with Margaret. The crime took place in Ohio, a free state, where they wanted to charge her with murder, while Kentucky, from which she fled, wanted to charge her instead with destruction of property. The southern courts won, and the judge found her guilty not of killing a child, but of destroying property. Knowing this fact illuminates the conversation between Paul D and Sethe when she defends what she did, and he responds "You got two feet, Sethe, not four" (194). According to the law, according to what her real life counterpart was charged with, whether she had two or four feet, she was property, not person, and had destroyed a piece of property, not killed a child. The indignity that must come from the courts of the country and the laws of the land saying such things about her and her children-I don't blame Sethe a bit for the forest that springs up between her and Paul D after that statement.

Beloved One


In the last words of Beloved, Paul D says to Sethe, "me and you, we got more yesterdays than anybody. We need some kind of tomorrow"(p. 322). Throughout the course of Sethe's life, the constant focus on the past directly causes her tragic circumstances. Toni Morrison uses the focus on past and present in this novel to make a point. Living in either one without acknowledging the other will lead to disaster in the long run. Sethe lives a life focused solely on her past, and in doing so, has no present, and thus no future. In Sethe's world in the 28 days leading up to her daughter's death, she lives in the fear of her past, specifically the brutal treatment she received at the hands of the schoolteacher and the nephews. Sethe is so affected by these experiences (and who can blame her), that they drive her actions in the present when Schoolteacher finally finds her. The actions in her present result in the destruction of her future in two ways: first, literally she destroys the next generation when she kills her daughter, and second, she destroys her own personal future, which will always be haunted by her actions in the barn that day.
The entire novel examines Sethe's constant need to live in the past, and the effect that has on the present and the future. Only when Sethe is able to exist in her present, while still acknowledging the past, will she be able to have a future. Toni Morrison uses this story to illustrate the very problems plaguing America. There is a tendency in this country to either focus so much on the grit of the past (ie: slavery) that the present and future cannot improve, or, on the other hand, ignore completely the past, making a hollow and somewhat false present and future. Both mindsets lead to destruction, and only when we are able to live in the present with an honest but not obsessive view of the past, do we have any hope for a future.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Great American Indian Novel

"In the Great American Indian novel, when it is finally written,/ all of the white people will be Indians and all of the Indians will / be ghosts."

What a clever and insightful statement. I have always found it interesting the fascination white people have for Indians, minus the respect. There's that need to be part of the Native American culture in some way. My best friend growing up is Navajo and Blackfeet, and her dad used to tell me that their joke about white people is "everyone's great grandma is a Cherokee". Because that's what the Native Americans hear from white people all the time. This "we're part of you, we're related" sentiment, when in reality, it's probably not true-it's just this way to ease the guilt of the injustices wrought against that culture. If I'm white, but can trace my ancestry back to them, than I didn't lend my hand to the racism. But the fact is that the white culture who wants so much to be part of the Indian culture has killed the Indians themselves. and now they're ghosts.


"Imagine the Angels of Bread" is such a powerful poem full of hope for a better future. I love the final stanza-that if slavery was ended first with the idea of ending slavery, if the holocaust ended first with the idea of ending the holocaust, than the idea of ending the oppression of and horrible treatment of immigrants now will lead to the idea coming to pass in the future. I think this poem is a perfect example of successful political poetry-something written with such honesty about the situation, is able to motivate the readers in a way only a well written poem can-to become part of that idea-the idea that will lead to a hopeful future. I like it.

the Balloon

Well, this is my least favorite story. All it conjured up in me was that Colorado family and their balloon boy hoax. That's really all I've got for this one-I read it, it was strange, I didn't really like it, it didn't really move me.


I've read this story for several courses, and am always left with the same question: So what? So what that you quit your job on some principle? Does this guy really think that he's changed anything? It's not even the type of story he can use on his kids later in life as an example of making the right decision, or standing up for what's right. Because really, what he did was dumb. Why did he stand up for these girls-was it because he didn't think that people should be judged by what they're wearing, or was it because he was mad that the juicy butt he'd been drooling over was kicked out before he was done looking? I guess it just goes to show that people's actions may be the same, but their motivations determine the nobility of the action.

Why I Live at the PO

This story reminds me of all the times my sister hogged the spotlight while we were growing up. Of course, her version of our childhood is much different than mine, but mine is the correct version. From the narrator's point of view, everyone else is concerned about silly things like their beards, how they look in women's robes, and on and on. But she has no problems, and she definitely has her priorities straight. Of course, the irony is that when she finally storms out of the house in a fit, she remembers to grab all of the material objects that are hers-yup, she's a reliable narrator all right!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

here's a toast to the folks on the pine ridge reservation under the stone cold gaze of mount rushmore

"I have no sylvan glades of dreams,/ just dust words / for my people dying."
-Adrian Louis writes with such grit and honesty about his people-these poems are packed with honest power. I had to stop reading "A Colossal American Copulation", because you can only read that word so many times! But I loved the MAPs website on this poem: "And while Louis' catalogue of what deserves to be fucked ranges freely over late twentieth century America, there is nevertheless a persistent logic to its categories". It makes me laugh when lit crits talk about the persistent logic to the categorization of what deserves to be f*cked! And since I'm a lover of all things Bob Dylan, it was good to see the influence he had on Louis, though obviously Louis is feeling a little let down with dylan at this point.


I really enjoyed all of her poems. I think my favorite lines come from "Quiet Evening". The last five lines read "So Penelope took the hand of Odysseus/ not to hold him back but to impress/ this peace on his memory:/ From this point on, the silence through which you move/ is my voice pursuing you." I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to these lines, but I am. My next question is about "Parable of the King". Why are the line breaks where they are? I asked myself this throughout the entire poem. When I read a poem, I always read it out loud-it gives you a better sense of the meter, which has a huge effect on a poem, just as much as the words themselves. So why are the line breaks done the way they are? And my final question is about "Circe's Grief". In my book the last two lines read "if i am in her head forever/I am in your life forever". Never mind how powerful that sentiment is-what I want to know is why is the i lower cased in line 15? I've searched for other copies, and all of the ones I found online (though not from the most reliable sources) have it capitalized, so I guess it could be a misprint, though what anthology misprints something like my question is why would it be lowercased? And what effect does that have on the poem?

chicxulub (if that's the way you spell it)

What a fantastic story! A brilliant way to compare the loss of a child to these crazy asteroids and comets that don't just leave huge marks, but have the power to suck the light into oblivion. And we have no control over them. Whatever gods we believe in, have no control over the chance encounter of space matter with earth. If the gods can't control something that big, how on earth could the gods control whether our children live or die?

Sea Oak

On one hand I enjoyed this story, on the other, it was the nastiest of nasty. The mixture of humor and general grossness makes for an interesting read. This story makes such a sad case for poverty in America. These characters show no actual motivation to change their situation-the girls half heartedly study for the GED while watching ridiculous day time television, and the narrator even finds no actual shame in his job, saying 'at least it's a job'. Only after Bernie (did it actually have to be Bernie? I mean, come one, who didn't think Weekend at Bernie's at least once during this story?!) comes back and warns them of Troy's future demise does anyone start looking towards any semblance of a structured future. And even then, we're left with the feeling that nothing will change.

Monday, February 15, 2010

round here we talk just like lions but we sacrifice like lambs

Philip Levine
All his animal references have me quite distracted this week, especially since my house has been inundated with the story "Click, Clack, Moo" as of late. All that aside, I think I'm really digging on Levine. This is my first experience with him, and there's something in the dignity of these poems' characters that really resonates with me. "They Feed They Lion", full of this anger that builds throughout the poem leaves me wondering what this lion-like anger will accomplish? It seems that while it comes from the suffering of the weak, it's going to devour whatever is in its path, those from which it comes included.

John Ashbery

Oh what the?! "They Dream Only of America" is a strange poem. I get all prepared for another "we are America" poems, only to find from the beginning that "they dream only of America to be lost among the thirteen million pillars of grass"-does this mean they want America to be lost? And this 13 million pillars of grass-why not blades of grass-why pillars? Pillars are permanent, strong, immovable, strong, phallic. Not blades easily stepped on. The final stanza reminds me of Stockholm syndrome-specifically the final lines "there is nothing to do/ for our liberation, except wait in the horror of it/ and I am lost without you". Dependency on the captor turns into sympathy for and love of the captor-only who is the captor, and who is being held captive?

Let's talk about Love

Interesting that the cardiologist is the one spending all the time going on and on about love, and seeming so far off in his beliefs regarding love. But what, really, is love? Discussing love is like discussing what salt tastes's...salty...? So instead of talking about what love is, we discuss what love isn't. Love isn't (or shouldn't be) so codependent that it becomes abusive and unhealthy. True love, arguably, isn't impermanent. So what we talk about when we talk about love, is really the opposite of love.
Just a side note:
My husband and I moved to Athens five days after we got married. The second or third week, we were attending church, and the Sunday school lesson was on having a happy marriage or something like that. The teacher asked me something about how my husband and I resolve our disagreements, and all these other women started raising their hands and saying "oh, she's only been married a month at the most!! She doesn't know anything about disagreements yet! Let me tell you how awful it can be sometimes...". And off they went on some of the horrible experiences they'd had in their marriages. This story reminded me of that experience-the idea of being newly wed, and everyone telling me how much it would suck for the next few years. Awesome.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Endings-Margaret Atwood

"Even the happiest stories, if you follow them far enough, end unhappily."
"...It all depends on when you stop following the story."
-dialogue between friends recently

Is this story simply a story, or does Atwood challenge us the readers when she says that the plot is easy "just one thing after another, a what, and a what, and a what...Now try How and Why." Atwood tells us that the plot is generally the boring part-it's not so much what happens as it is the human motivations that make a story interesting.
Stories don't end happily, we the characters make them happy-the very fact that the story ends ends the happy aspect of the story-so there cannot be any happy endings.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"They give up everything to serve the Republic"

What have we become when instead of building monuments to those who died in war, we instead use photographs of the safe that survived Hiroshima to sell the product. "Look what devastation this inanimate object can survive" instead of "look what devastation we humans don't blink an eye about". While society draws closer to space, we fail to draw closer to those around us, "When I crouch to my television set, the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons". What a sad poem.

Berryman crazy. Reading these "Dream Songs" gives me the distinct impression of delving into the inner mind of a serial killer. I am assuming that Henry and Mr. Bones are the same person, the two sides of the coin. Really, these poems were just creepy. The first line of Song 46 caught my attention. "I am, outside. Incredible panic rules." The comma between am and outside-what does that do to the meaning of this line? It isn't that he is outside-the comma changes the meaning to something else, only I'm not sure to what.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sylvia Plath

Did you know that Sylvia's son Nicholas Hughes killed himself last year, and that Ted Hughes' second wife (for whom he left Sylvia, triggering her own suicide), killed herself and her young daughter six years after Sylvia? What a tragic family tree.

I'll admit it, I'm one of those girls who has read a lot of Plath. I've read The Bell Jar, I have her complete collection of poetry-did you know she even wrote a children's book?! I have "Daddy" memorized, or at least did at one time.
"Ariel" has always intrigued and somewhat perplexed me. The poem seems to center around the moment when "White Godiva-I unpeel"-this symbolic stripping down-stripping of self, or of everything blocking and hiding that self?

Anne Sexton

“And opening my eyes I am afraid of course
to look--this inward look that society scorns--
Still I search in these woods and find nothing worse
than myself, caught between the grapes and the thorns.”

Her Kind
-The speaker has been a witch, a domestic, and an adulteress. She has been 'not a woman, quite', 'misunderstood' and 'not afraid to die'. "Her Kind" always makes me think of Sexton's poem "Kind Sir: These Woods", from which I quoted above. "Kind Sir" starts with a quote of Thoreau: "For a man needs only to be turned around once with his eyes shut in this world...not til we are we begin to find ourselves". It seems that the speaker is examining the space between the double I's and in that finding her true self, or at least what she has been, and is not now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Papa's Waltz

Is this a poem about abuse? I don't know-the line that I have always thought brings it to abuse is this one, which I think I read a little differently than some: "At every step you missed/ My right ear scraped a buckle". Now, bear with me, I'm not sure where I got this interpretation, if it was pointed out by a professor in college, or what, but I have always read that as the buckle of the belt scraping his ear each time his father missed his target while whipping him with the belt.
Is it about abuse? I don't know. I do know that this speaker obviously has at least ambiguous feelings about his father-millions of people do not say "hey, could that be about getting beat" unless there's a bit of that tone in the poem. Is it about getting beat up while mom looks on, or is it just an examination of a relationship that was at times great, at times, dizzying, and at times very much like death itself?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

One Art

This is a villanelle. It is composed of five tercets and ends with a quatrain. The first and third line of the first stanza then alternate the ending lines of the next 4 stanzas, and end with a couplet in the final quatrain. This is a rigid, controlled poetic form. Using this poetic device provides the control the speaker holds over the art of losing. Losing is simply another art to master: start out slowly with losing little things, and then move to bigger and more important things. The final line shows the loss of control. If the final word is not written, the villanelle is not complete, the control is lost. Wouldn't losing control, then, be the ultimate achievement in the art of losing?

The Boy Died in My Alley

My best friend lives in NYC-Washington Heights to be exact. I visited her this past October on a trip. Sitting up in her apartment, even with the windows closed, in the middle of our crazy shenanigans in preparation for the next day's parties, I heard men yelling on the street below, a woman's scream, more yelling, the sound of flesh on flesh. I waited for the pause in conversation, for one of them to go to the window, look down, suggest what we should do. Nothing. No pause, no looks, no concern. For all I know, they beat that woman to death. I'll never know, because the screams stopped, and we went on talking and laughing.
"I have closed my heart-ears late and early".

Why I am Not a Painter

The painter, inspired by the word sardines uses colors to express it, while the poet, inspired by the color orange, uses words to express it. I love what O'Hara does with this poem-the way he takes a simple trip to visit a painter friend and stretches it to examine a much broader meaning. The painter gets rid of the word "Sardines" because "it was too much", and yet the poet writes a total of twelve poems without even saying the word orange before his project is complete. Both artists are striving for creation, but can only achieve representations, mere symbols, of what they want to create. The artist can no sooner paint real sardines into existence as the poet can write an orange into being. The best they can do is liken color and line and shade to sardines, and compare orange to all things around and related to orange.

Tillie Olsen

I have never read anything by her til now, I think. And to say that this story spoke to me is understating it. I have reread it every day for a week, at least twice a day. So many thoughts running through my head. "All human life on the planet is born of woman. The only unifying, incontrovertible experience shared by all women and men is that months-long period we spent unfolding inside a woman's body. Because young humans remain dependent upon nurture for a much longer period than other mammals, and because of the division of labor long established in human groups, where women not only bear and suckle but are assigned almost total responsibility for children, most of us first know both love and disappointment, power and tenderness, in the person of a woman" (Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born). Even as I'm typing this, I'm inturrupted every two minutes by my 20 month old daughter who wants to play. What mother doesn't question how the choices she makes today will affect her children in the future? I didn't breastfeed because of health reasons; is that why Layla has had pneumonia twice this season? When I started back to school last year, I decided not to do my school work while she was awake-I saved it only for nap time and night time. Waking hours I devoted wholey to Layla. That meant that night time was clean up the house and do homework time, not bond with husband time. I realized eventually that if I kept this up, my marriage would suffer. I then had to decide: was it worse for Layla to grow up perhaps in a broken home, or was it worse to set her down in front of Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse every day while I did my school work. Well, my marriage won. Will she resent me later in life for chosing knowledge over her, or will she recongize what I have done as an example for her own life? I hope for the later. One more feeling about this story? Why is it so ingrained in us to blame how our daughters turn out on the mothers? Why does this woman never say in this whole thing "if only her father hadn't left us to begin with...". Why blame the woman and not examine the man's role in this child's slow blooming? And again, why does she lament her role in her daughter's slow blooming, but not feel any sort of responsibility for her daughter's recent triumphs? these are my thoughts-but now I've got to go, because Layla has taken to pushing the computer keys to get my attention.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn , burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." Jack Kerouac

I adore the Beats, so I'm looking forward to discussing "Howl". There are so many parts of this that stand out, but for today, I'll share these words:"who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot for Eternity outside
of Time, & alarm clocks fell on their heads every day for the next
decade,". Love It! And if you don't like the Beats, if you don't like what Ginsberg says, you can go back to your Emily Dickenson, that's fine. But seriously, how can you not fall in love with the idea of just saying to hell with it, and 'casting your ballot for Eternity outside of time'?! and of course, no matter how hard we try, the next morning we're hit upside the head with the alarm clock. And that's how the best minds of his generation were destroyed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Ethics of Living Jim Crow

What a painful experience this read was. My friend sent me a link to a newspaper article in Augusta about a new basketball league trying to get a team sponsored. This basketball league is an all white league. The spokesman for the league talked about how they simply wanted to create a league for people who wanted to play regular ball without the risk of someone hitting them, or getting a gun pulled on them in the locker room, or foul language being used. Because white people never do any of those things. It wasn't the article itself that was most upsetting. It was the comments posted after the article. Bunch of tin foil hat wearing weirdos. All these people kept saying the same thing "why's it racist?!" and then rationalizing it, complaining about reversed racism, etc. I was tempted to post the link for this essay, and say simply "until your entire culture has experienced THIS at the hands of an entire country, until everyone you consider part of your race has stories like THIS, let's not throw out the reverse racism card, and let's be honest with ourselves."


Can I be honest? I have a difficult time writing these blogs. Were I simply writing a private response to the professor, I'd have no problem putting my thoughts down. But knowing that all of you are reading (or at least could read, if you cared) what I say makes me just a little more self conscious than I already am. So every time I sit down to write, feeling like I have so much to say, I get a few sentences down, then delete it and go check my facebook. Having said that, hopefully I can now move on, and discuss what I enjoyed about this short story.
Hurston uses the story of Eden, and adds a wicked twist to create her short story. What I find most interesting about this story is the obvious role reversals. First, there is the title of the story: Sweat. In the Biblical story, God tells Adam that he will earn his keep by the sweat of his brow. Yet, here we see Delia doing the earning and the sweating. Also, we have the serpent. There is still enmity between the woman and the snake, as in the story in Genesis. But again, where Adam was the protector of Eve, Sykes is the antagonizer of Delia, torturing her through her fear of snakes. The most important scene in the entire story, is that final scene, as Sykes drags himself on his belly across the lawn towards Delia who stands under the tree, watching. He has become the serpent, and here she stands at the foot of the tree, again reckoning back to the story of Eden, watching as he comes to the same knowledge as she.
After reading this story, while I liked it, I wondered 'so what does this have to do with the Harlem Renaissance?' And I started to dig a little deeper. According to Barbara Johnson "Hurston's work is often called non-political simply because readers of Afro-American literature tend to look for confrontational racial politics, not sexual politics"( Baum concludes that a tension exists between the black characters' attempts to assert meaning in their lives and the white world's oppression of those lives. "Hurston's assertion . . . is of a promising world outside the dominant culture, a world created by human beings as a stay against confusion, as a potent denial of sacrifice and suffering"(ibed). A lot of interesting stuff at work in this story, as well as the rest of her works. Many critics have often taken Hurston out of the political frame work simply because her works are not inherently race related.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Harlem Rennaissance

James Weldon Johnson "The White Witch"
The speaker in this poem warns his younger brothers to beware the white witch. Is this simply a warning to avoid sexual relations with white women? Definitely sexual relations between the races at this time was considered by both sides to be taboo, but the symbolism Johnson uses in this poem speaks of a more subtle relationship. "Her lips are like carnations red,/ Her face like new-born lilies fair,/ Her eyes like ocean waters blue,/ She moves with subtle grace and air,/ And all about her head there floats/ The golden glory of her hair." This woman's coloring is strikingly red, white and blue-she is the true American woman. "And back behind those smiling lips,/ and down within those laughing eyes,/ and underneath the soft caress/ Of hand and voice and purring sighs,/the shadow of the panther lurks,/ The spirit of the vampire lies." On further examination, Johnson is comparing lying with a white woman to embracing the American ideals. America advertises itself as "the land of the free", but the speaker warns his black brothers not to be fooled by any of it. In spite of economical freedom being granted African-Americans, the Jim Crow laws, and legalized segregation and subtle racism of the north, are perhaps even more dangerous than the "ancient hag and snaggle tooth" of which they are accustomed. Johnson's narrator says "your only safety lies in flight", referring back to the idea of Pan Africanism that Johnson and others supported.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Much of Eliot’s poetry explores the relationship between the sacred and the profane, and how one lives in the profane world while striving for the sacred. As he says, it’s fitting the square to the circle. “Journey of the Magi”, one of the Ariel poems, was written around the time of Eliot’s own personal conversion. Through the eyes of one of the three wise men, Eliot explores traveling the road of religion paved in a profane world, and the complexities that come with choosing that religious path. After seeing the Christ child, and returning to his native land, the Magus feels “no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,/With an alien people clutching their god”. His conversion, which is a combined death and birth results in an existence out of sync with the rest of the world. After such long and weary traveling, he says it was…satisfactory. Not the word one expects in describing the birth of the Son of God. But conversion, coming to worship at the feet of the Savior, rarely ends with fireworks and cotton candy.
The Magus questions what led them there. Was it Birth or was it Death? In Christianity, it is Christ’s death that makes His birth something worth noticing. No one would note the birth of a child in an obscure village in the Middle East, had not that child, according to Christianity, proceeded to suffer a heinous death and miraculous resurrection 33 years later. This is one aspect that the Magus ponders. ON the other hand, at his conversion, was he reborn, or did his previous self pass away? And if it is both, and the Birth brings only this other-world existence, then the only thing to do is await the next death, and birth into the next world.

Stevens and imagism

Imagism and Stevens

The imagist movement focused on the use of precisely accurate language in poetry. One of the basic tenets was "to use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word” ( Ezra Pound described the movement as "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time." Pound, in listing what imagist poets must do, explained specifically, “Don't use such an expression as 'dim lands of peace.' It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol”. Imagism based its philosophy and approach on the focus on the object, as focusing on abstractions and sentimentalities was considered dishonest. Imagists were also influenced by the Japanese haiku, as this form of poetry typically means more than is actually written, all while avoiding huge abstractions and overt sentimentality. Though Stevens was truly influenced by the imagist movement, and in some cases is considered one of the American imagists, he did find fault with the movement, as some images carry more importance to others, in his opinion. The heavy imagist influence is prevalent in both “Thirteen Ways” and “Study of Two Pears”.

In a Station of the Metro-Ezra Pound

THE apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

Thirteen Ways excerpt

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stay Gold, Ponyboy

"Nothing Gold Can Stay" was the first poem I ever memorized. I was eleven going on twelve, and had just moved across the country for the fourth time in my life. While unpacking my dad's leather bound book collection, I thumbed through his first edition of Robert Frost, and there it was-change is constant, and each change, though it triggers a sense of loss, leads only to more greatness. The dawn is lovely with its delicate colors, but the day is when we truly awaken. Yes Eden sank to grief, and with the Fall came both loss of innocence and a fuller experience of life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Rose for Emily

Oh, Faulkner! I. Love. Him. I love his ability to explore the crazy side of humanity, in such a real and believable way. Nobody finishes this story by saying "no way, that wouldn't happen". Instead, we all say "Emily's a fruitcake! Crazy old bat slept next to (and maybe even with, for all we know) a dead man, not once, but for YEARS!" What drove her to do it? Emily's life is ruled by time, it haunts her throughout the story. When the men of the town come to visit her late in life, they even hear the ticking of the clock hidden at the end of the gold chain. The years go ticking past her, second by second, as her hair begins to fade shade by shade to grey. Who hasn't wanted to freeze that one perfect moment of happiness for ever? And Emily does-she beats time by stopping it for the one glimmer of happiness, or possibly even existence she possessed when she kills Homer Baron, and keeps him to herself. For all the effort Emily goes to for preserving that moment, it is only in death that the two are ever together, and even then, time goes on.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hills Like White Elephants

Hemingway packs a lot into this short, short story. Whenever I read stories like this one, I am reminded again why they are the writers, and I am not. Every word carries so much weight and meaning, nothing is being carelessly thrown around here. Which is, of course, why Hemingway is the master of the short story. So let's take a look at what's going on in this story. In so few words, Hemingway is able to explore a truly complex relationship and situation in this short story. Every time I read this story, I focus on Hemingway's use of 'girl'. She's a girl, while he's an American man. That obviously portrays the balance of power between the two in this relationship: he's a man, and she's a girl. I would argue, however, that the content being discussed by these two definitely shows who is the powerful one and who isn't. Maybe she was a girl before, but at this train station, at these cross roads, I would argue that she becomes a woman. She recognizes that 'cutting it out', or 'letting the air in', is going to cost her. Whatever decision she makes, she's losing something that she'll never get back. Either she has the abortion and loses the child, or she keeps the child and loses the man. While we never really know what decision she makes, I would argue that by the end of the story, she's not a girl, she's a woman.