Saturday, December 6, 2008

Final Reflection

For me, this course has emphasized how much I enjoy literature. I find the various ways to analyze literature very interesting. I think that is one of the many reasons I like analyzing a story, because you really have to be way out in left field to be wrong. If you take the time to look at writing from different angles you can come up with various perspectives on what the writer wanted you to see. I suppose in a way it contrasts my love of history, since the events have already happened and that cannot be changed. However, I think applying the concepts I have learned in literature classes can also be applied to history in order to understand what ifs or just understand why something might have happened.

This course has also made me realize that in my conflict between a History and English degree, I probably do favor the English degree more. That being said, I am graduating this semester with a BA in History, but I will stay around another year for the English degree. When it comes to examining what to do in the future, my mind is still juggling many choices. However, if I do decide to go onto the Masters program, I will probably pursue a MA in English or possibly even a Masters in Library Science rather than a History MA. What better job could there be than working around books all day as a librarian? Other careers I have concerned are an editor or a book critic. I also believe that the degree in English could help me find a job as an archivist or writer for anything related to my degree in History as well.

I believe literature will always play a major role in my life. I look forward to my holiday breaks in order to be able to read for fun, even though by the end of the semester I am often complaining about all my reading I have to do for classes. Literature is a way of viewing the world in a different way or even escaping it just for a little while. I enjoy getting a new book and being able to examine it cover to cover. My closest way I can ever relate myself to a scientist is that a can practically dissect a novel. I believe books are similar to movies or art in the sense that you cannot always see everything the first time you read it. There are books that I hope sometime in the future I will be able to read again in order to fully appreciate the depth of them.

However, I will also continue to read just for the enjoyment of reading. Sometimes a novel can be good, yet there is not the need for too much analysis. There is a plot and a lot of good quotes, but I do not need to rack my brain over every possible meaning of the text. And although I am in college, I believe I will always continue to read books from the young adult section. I think often times there are books in that section that are proper for adult reading, and I suppose too often I get frustrated looking through the adult fiction and finding just bad books. Though I will judge a book by a cover, I will not judge it based off of the age it is labeled as aimed for. I would like to believe that reading will continue to expand my mind and take me on a quest, adventure, or just lead me to a new level of enlightenment. I may never be able to afford to travel the world, yet I know I can afford an escape in a book. I even just love the idea that a book can bring new perspectives and understandings to my life.

Although I do not write like I used to, I believe I will continue to write in my free time when it is needed. Lately school has kept me busy with writing papers, but I know that if things get too frustrating for me I can always write some random prose or a blog entry to clear my mind. I will probably never publish anything on my own that is not scholarly, if I take a career path in some form of writing; however, writing has always been more of a personal outlook for me. I think it is a reason I like the New York and Confessional poets, because writing is an outlet. Even if it ends up just being gibberish, I would suggest to anyone who is confused in their life or just frustrated to attempt to write things out. Like with reading, a person may be surprised at the clarity they can find by writing out a few stanzas or paragraphs.

I have truly enjoyed this course this semester. I was introduced to the new media of graphic novels, and I now know to keep my eye out for other similar novels. I know that Shakespeare will always be studied and I will continue to respect his writings. Plays, however, will probably always be the form of writing a struggle with. I believe they should be preformed and reading them just does not generally cut it for me. This may be because I love A Streetcar Named Desire and no other play I have read has really lived up to my expectations of what I should see when reading a play. Hopefully one day I will overcome that obstacle, but I will never refuse to read a play. Overall this class has helped me see how much I enjoy studying literature, and I hope to continue to be able to apply that enjoyment in my future either for a career or leisure.

New York Poets

Having read some of the New York poets before, I have to say they are some of my favorite poets. This might just be that I also like a lot of the jazz from that time and some of the art. I think the New York poets say a lot about the time they were in. Following World War II the 50s and 60s had the concerns of the Cold War and Red Scare. I think that made the poets very "in the moment."
I believe Frank O'Hara is a good example of this with his "Lunch Poems." In "A Step Away From Them" it as if the reader is walking alongside O'Hara on his lunch hour. The poem is very "in the moment" yet his concern with time is clear. It is as if he can write down every fact of his day that he'll somehow calculate more time, or at least be able to recall everything in the future. O'Hara's poems are very much like a journal entry, and does allow him to preserve those moments in time. James Schuylar's poem "Korean Mums" also represents this concept. He writes to preserve a moment in time he found important or influential. They focus on moments in times which are like small epiphanies, and although the writer one day will be gone, the poem will always be there.

I also find it so interesting at the ability to write something at the spur of a moment like in OHara's "Lana Turner Has Collapsed."
The poem also reflects the idea of humor in writing at the time. I like the fact that the poets had the ability to laugh at what they were doing. I think Kenneth Koch was a good example of this. His "Variations on a Theme" makes fun of William Carlos Williams' poem, which was originally a note he left for his wife. Again I believe the idea of including humor in the poem is influenced by what was going on in the world at the time. I believe it's the idea that it is possible to be respectful of poetry yet at the same time not let seriousness control how a poem is written.

Similar to the artists of the time, such as Pollock, the New York poets were inspired by spontaneity. Although I am more picky when it comes to the sort of art I like from the time, I love Dali's surrealism. However, from what we looked at in class I just can't totally understand de Kooning or Pollock. I suppose I'm looking for more depth, and they are just so abstract I need a map to find a general direction to a possible idea. However, since I cannot totally understand the finished work I'll have to respect and put more weight in the concept of the creation of the work. Pollock, I believe, brings people to question why art has to only be the finished product. Instead of just looking at the final canvas, why not look at the entire process of creating the portrayed as art.

Overall I do enjoy reading the New York poets, and I find it very interesting how connected they were with the artists of the time. The fact that music and even theatre was also changing at the time, it was as if it was a cultural epidemic. I do have to wonder if there will ever be another cultural moment like the New York school, since I think the arts have move in a very different directing since probably around the 60s or 70s.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Elizabeth Bishop

I really enjoyed her poem "One Art" and "Poem." I find her ability to discuss personal moment without being in your face about it very interesting. "One Art" doesn't cry out that she lost someone until the end, but she doesn't make an exact identity to anyone specific. "The joking voice" and "gesture" allows the person to be nearly anyone. I believe this allows the readers to make their own personal connection and can relate to the loss of a loved one. Readers can acknowledge that Bishop isn't as ok as she appears to be in the first few stanza, but it is also a quieter outcry. It's as if she is a confessional poet, but she isn't confessing in the same way Lowell and others were doing at the time.

I believe her ability to be personal while allowing others to make their own connections also shows up in "Poem." Many people have had that childhood place that has changed over the years. There are the homes of families and other relatives can share the stories of how things were before your time and tell how things have changed since their youth.

I also enjoy the use of nature and locations in her poetry. I believe this is another way for Bishop to express her emotions. As a child she moved around a lot and as an adult she continued to travel. I believe she felt displaced and wasn't ever sure where she had a home. Writing poems about the places she sees allows her to have a place of her own in her poetry. It allows her to leave a footprint somewhere, even if it's just in poetry. Maybe she can be comparable to Emily Dickinson, who also wrote about exotic locations. The difference would be that Bishop went to many of these places while Dickinson just read about them.

Though she isn't one of my favorite poets I did enjoy reading Elizabeth Bishop and I do find it interesting that she wasn't as popular as the confessional poets of her time, but that her poetry has become more appreciated in the future. I think that might go back to the idea that she was both personal with her writing but is vague enough to allow others to understand. I think being too personal in a poem, like the confessional poets, leaves distance between the reader and the poem unless they have experienced something exactly the same.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Glenngary Glenn Ross

I've had less insight on this play than everything else we've read in class. True, it was a nice spin after King Lear; however, any sort of sales talk might as well be written the same way. I did enjoy the play, but I believe I'm just not used to that sort of literature. This play does have deeper meanings that Mamet wanted to express; however, it isn't found through the surface metaphors or symbolism. There is the exception of Roma's speech, which I enjoyed reading despite his blunt, vulgar approach. Though the fact that I enjoyed his speech might show that I might possibly have some newly acquired, but not quite sure how I got it, land.

Mamet is arguing against the cutthroat world of salesmen. When he wrote the play the world of sales and such were changing. Men like Levene are old news, and door to door sales aren't going to cut it anymore. However, it is Roma's less direct approaches which have put him into the lead. Throwing in a competition just continues makes the fast paced world of sales more cutthroat. Mamet shows that the idea of always having to be closing can end up with the people making greater sacrifices of morality. Sometimes morals and truth have to be sacrificed in order to make sales; however, Levene crossed the line when stealing from the company. I suppose it's the idea that doing whatever it takes to get the customer is fine, tell them their wildest dreams have come true, but never try to cheat the company.

I think the language also emphasises the idea of manliness in the play. As if the more times vulgar language is used, the more of a man the person is. Roma is successful in his unorthodox way of speaking to a customer. I believe Mamet argues if, really, does that make someone a man?

The movie gives an interesting view on the characters. I don't believe Roma's speech made as big as an impact on me as it did while reading it; however, I had a lot more sympathy for Levene. Possibly when I was reading the play, though often desperate, everyone just sounded so arrogant to me, and I tend to be quiet annoyed by arrogance. I'm interested in seeing the rest of the movie and how the rest of the act is played out.

It's not that I didn't enjoy Glenngary Glenn Ross, but I think people are forced to slow down the fast-paced style it was written it. Possibly even the style Mamet wrote it indicates the idea that you either have to catch and hold onto the fast paced world or you're going to fall behind and be left scratching your head wondering, "Wait, what just happened?"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

King Lear

I quite enjoyed rereading King Lear; though I have to say, after not reading Shakespeare since high school, I did have a little hard time reading it. However, as we've discussed in class it isn't always important to what they say but how the people interact. Both Lear's family and Gloucester's family truly represent a dysfunctional family.

From the beginning we see that Lear has not treated his daughters equally. Cordelia is clearly his favorite. However, I don't believe it justifies the actions of Regan and Goneril. They appear to be jealous sisters and sinister women. Lear did get the kingdom to both daughters so there is no room for questioning there. Though it does seem possible that King Lear's headstrong and stubborn personality might have caused them annoyance in the past and now they can seek revenge. It is as if they girls knew he would not bow down in agreeing to give up his one hundred knights, which led him to be homeless. Gloucester also had family issues. We are introduced to him harassing Edmund for being a bastard son, and this leads to resentment. It appears that in both cases the characteristics of the father lead some of their children to resent them and seek revenge. However, both Cordelia and Edgar remain loyal to their fathers.

King Lear and Gloucester continue to parallel each other throughout the story. Gloucester had to lose his eyesight in order to see the truth. King Lear had to lose everything to acknowledge his faults. In the end any true reconcile is cut short because of their deaths. These actions do play on the theme of nothingness. King Lear states in the beginning that "nothing can come of nothing." However, something does come from nothing for both these men. They had to have nothing in order to see the truth in their lives. Prior to their loss the men didn't know who they were. On a side note every time I hear that phrase I get "Something Good" from Sound of Music in my head, and have to wonder if Rodgers and Hammerstein took the phrase from King Lear.

The theme of disguise goes along with the idea of characters not knowing themselves. Both Kent and Edgar had to disguise themselves in order to save their lives as well as protect Lear and Gloucester. It is interesting to see the the two men who truly know who they are and stand for what they believe in have to mask themselves. In my class that previously read the play we were given the possibility also that Cordelia was actually the Fool. In that case she too had to disguise herself. This theory came from the fact the two were never in the same scene and the Fool vanishes from the play as soon as Cordelia returns. Also, at the very end Lear calls Cordelia his fool, in a term of endearment, but it could also indicate she was the Fool. I am interested in knowing if it is a common belief that she was the Fool.

I also found the imagery of animals interesting. Often times the image of being treated and lead around like a dog appeared. The most interesting image was the association of Regan and Goneril with birds. They pluck out Gloucester's eyes, which is common for crows and vultures. Lear also says they are "pelican daughters," and young pelicans were attributed with drinking their parents blood (63). However, it was odd to see Cordelia being associated with birds as well. When she and Lear are captured he imagines that they could live together like caged birds, and when he holds her dead body he mentions that "this feather stirs" (116).

I did enjoy King Lear though it really was a tragedy. I understood the justice of Regan and Goneril being killed. However, I found the death of Cordelia unnecessary, though I suppose she is representative of a true victim. Throughout the play she is mistreated, she does what she can to save her father, yet she is still killed in the end. I suppose that's what makes a tragedy a tragedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I really enjoyed our reading of Persepolis. It was interesting to be introduced to a different style of writing. I believe the graphic novels brings the reader to a whole new level. Instead of having to imagine what went on the images are right there for you. I think this was also a very good way to tell a story though a child's point-of-view. It is like incorporating the image style narrative of children's books but with an adult storyline.

It was interesting to see the life and emotions of Satrapi represented in the novel. I believe she gets her intended message across. There are many misgivings about Iran and the Middle East. She has lost many people in her life and writing this book is a way to honor them. It is an acknowledgment that, although there are radicals thinking they are saving their nation and actions of war, not everyone agrees with it. It is true in any war or cultural movement; not everyone supported the Revolutionary War or Civil War in America. People should not be bias to events because they do not understand the reasons or have no involvement. I think too often people hate what they do not understand. Persepolis is a personal view of a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. It allows those who do not understand the religious connotations of the movement to find other ways to connection with Satrapi such as rebelling against parents or the different trends of music.

I enjoyed seeing the childhood innocence of Marjane, such as on the first page when the girls played with the scarfs. The beginning of the story demonstrates how easily a child can be influenced by the public life around her. However, in the end, her parents influence her more. The story was shocking and emotional. I thought one of the most moving parts of the novel was when she describing how the Baba-Levy's had been killed and she left the last panel black, because "no scream in the world could have relieved [her] suffering and [her] anger" (142). I could never imagine how powerful a black box could be.

I think the movie was well done also. A handful of people had complaints about things that were changed or left out; however, I have seen enough movies that have adapted story lines and I know that everything cannot be told. So I think with the limits of movies, especially having read the first part of story, it was portrayed well. I liked the interpretation of Marjane's father telling the story of the Shah. They made the characters one dimension and very puppet-like. This describes the way the British treated the Shah; however, I think it also shows how shallow these people were. They had one desire, one dimension and that was money.

I believe the image of the Statue of Liberty with the skull face was not Satrapi making some political statement. It showed the propaganda the Iranian government printed against democracy at the time, and is it not uncommon in any nation like that. However, I also think it has a deeper meaning; it represented the death of freedom for the Iranian people and more directly Iranian women. The Statue of Liberty is a woman and it is the Iranian women who are suppressed by the veils and subjected to be the lesser gender. A main theme in the book and movie is the power of women, no matter how much the government tried to stop it. This is constantly demonstrated through Marjane's mother and grandmother. Her grandmother was one of my favorite character's in the movie and I enjoyed her words of wisdom.

There was also the mentioning that the second part of the movie was more lighthearted and trivial than the first half. This is true in the sense that she was not living in the war, and Marjane realizes after she returns to Iran and sees her friend that her woes in Austria were so minuscule. However, I think the age she was when she was in Austria should be a factor. I believe she was thirteen when she left and had to grow up away from her family in another country. For everyone at that age life is very hard and difficult. I for one can admit that when I was in middle and high school many events felt like the end of the world. I felt like I would never to recover from the heartache of a first love, and I suffered from many life-ending embarrassing moments. Looking back on my life now, those events were not the end of the world but at the time they were. I believe it was similar for Marjane; I assume the second book was also told in the same style as the first. The first book was in a child's view and the second would be in the teenage and young adult view.

Overall I enjoyed both the movie and the book, and I believe if both were reexamined there would be new things to discover the second read around.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Moviegoer

I quite enjoyed The Moviegoer. Though Binx is a bit out of the norm, I have read characters similar to him before, and I have to admire his search. I think, for Binx, he found himself often disconnected from the world and his search was his way to stay level.

I believe that Binx is as honest and as caring as he can get to Kate. They have a history of an awkward relationship, but besides his aunt, Kate is the only woman who remains constant in his life. Kate knows that Binx isn't as well off as people think he is. His aunt believes he should be in research; Sharon never understands him,and always asks if "[he's] kidding." Perhaps his proposal is both is way in trying to help Kate as it is to help himself. He admits that he's selfish, but he also cares about Kate. He knows her ups and downs and stays aware of her actions, as opposed to other people.

I liked the relationship between Binx and Lonnie. I think Binx enjoyed his company because they are a lot of like. Both tell the truth and both are devout in a goal. Binx is devot in his search while Lonnie is devout in his religion. There was also the parallels between Binx and his father. Binx's father appears to be on a search like Binx, and it was his reasoning to going to war. He also seems to be misunderstood like Binx; everyone believed he should have gone into research and Binx's mother didn't seem to understand his actions. Even their responses to women are similar, Binx goes after his secretaries while his father rashly decided to marry whoever his nurse was going to be.

I believe Binx did find resolution at the end of the story. I believe that changing moment was when Binx was on the phone with Joyce and he sees Kate and says that "only after the end could the few who survived creep out of their holes and discover themselves to be themselves and life as merrily as children among the viny ruins" (231). I believe he doesn't so much give up on his search as he gives up on trying to be so aware of it. In the epilogue he doesn't say that he gives up on his search. What I interpreted in that section was that he realizes he can't logically explain things. That would be a leap of faith, he doesn't give up on his search even though he has no found logic to discuss it. He can't talk about the things he does not fully comprehend and cannot force that on others. Binx says that he is part of his mother's family so he shys alway from religion; I see that as acknowledging his new found religious ideals, because he wouldn't have to previouly talk about something he didn't believe in. Before he would just draw a curtin when God was mentioned, yet now he is choosing not to discuss it.
There's the argument that Binx settled in the end. However, he does seem content in the end. What he's doing works for him. I think its more that Binx is settling down rather than settling in a life he does not want. Even Kate seems a bit more resolved at the end, she can walk to the office on her own, even if she needs to be told step by step of what to do.

Things don't have to be picture perfect and romanticized to be resolved. Binx and Kate aren't the most typical people in the world, and I think the story would be rather disappointing if Binx became more down to earth, emotional, and sympathetic or if Kate became less manic depressive.