American Literature has been a wild ride. From the richly descriptive natural scenes of the Native Americans to the wild and disruptive work of the Beat Generation I have found myself stunned and surprised at every corner. I have been exposed to so many new writing styles and authors that I can scarce remember all their names, however their words will stay with me long after the conclusion of this unit. My own writing has grown and matured though the study of these authors, and through regular writing both creatively and critically.
A more personal response is required for this unit however. I am easily distracted. I find things boring easily, and do not connect well with texts I do not immediately enjoy. This can be beneficial, as when I do connect to a text, I immediately absorb the information, and enthusiastically look for more, however it remains a hinderance in the texts that are more ponderous to read. For this reason I found this blog extremely helpful in expanding my literary boundaries- I was forced to study such a wide range of texts that I would have otherwise discarded out of disinterest. Do not mistake my tone here- as I, so often, have done with the texts I have commented on. I am extremely grateful for this task. This sustained effort has revealed much to me about my own abilities that I never would have realised before.
Overall, this has been the most rewarding, and interesting time of my university experience, and I thank all those who shared it with me.
From today’s massive, subversive and powerfully creative world of the Beats and beyond which artist and/or writer inspired you most? Which unresolved question did they bring to stir your imagination? Which innovation in language, in image most struck your sense of what was powerful and new?
I found love in Allen Ginsberg’s drug and sex induced haze. I have never fallen so completely in love with a writing style, and I found when reading the poem aloud (as is my custom with poetry) the words flowed in a way I had never heard them flow before. The movement of sound was simply marvelous, part song, part story, part poem. The simply state of free flowing, honest madness was something I couldnt look away from. The references to Moloch, the god associated with child sacrifice, further drew me in as it served to further his anti-establishment adgenda, while simultaneously turning “the greatest minds of [his] generation” into martyrs, sacrificed to an evil presence. The slow descent into true madness in this poem is so well done it set my heart to beating double, and my world to moving faster. In short- it gave me anxiety. However this does not count against it. It is by far my favourite poem I have read all semester.
A response to Jessica
I found your poem both heartbreaking and refreshing, as it shows a side to mental illness that very few other works show. My interpretatin of the poem is of the personas friend slowly distancing themself, preparing themself for the persona’s inevitable death. Building the coffin, as you say. As somebody who suffers from mental illness I found this particularly poingant, as I have watched my friends slowly fade into the background of my life, not for lack of caring, but for fear of what I may be about to do. I watched my friends build my coffin, but luckily the experience did not leave me as it left your persona. Your use of the fire in the poem is also very striking to me, as you put it forward as a trial, as an alternative to the cold coffin, and indeed forcing yourself to pull out of that coffin is like crawling through fire. It burns, but it proves to yourself that youre alive. Overall I loved this poem, and I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.
What do you think Faulkner might have meant by the caption that is around his neck in the image at the top of this blog?
“Dont bother just to be better than your contemoraries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
Progression is the natural human state. Once we discover we enjoy something, and furthermore excel in it, we strive to be the best. Our huberis is to be commended in this as it creates great art, architecture, writing, and forces people to excel in every field. However too often we only measure ourselves by our fellows. In making this mistake we become that which can only be considered abhorent- we become stagnant. Faulkner seeks to destroy this concept that one’s talent is defined by surpassing others and challenges people to surpass themselves. This must be done as the only true way to ensure one always improves is to be vigilent and mindful of all their competition- including the person they were yesterday.
A response to Annaliese
Annaliese- I found your piece very interesting. You use of the sky as both a was of showing appreciation for physical nature, and a metaphor for your emoitonal landscape was extremely engaging. As somebody who struggles to keep positive during “the charcoal moments” I found your final line both puzzling and beautiful. I have always run from sadness, so it is beautiful to see a persona who embraces it as an old friend. Your structure is very poetic and the flow of the piece as a whole is beautiful. I do still feel a bit of confusion over the fouth line- I can’t tell if your word choice is stylistic or simply a gramatical error. However this being said, the piece is beautiful and very striking.
Using any one of Faulkner’s 15 character voices as a guide, create a paragraph in the voice of a character totally different to yourself.
Today is a red day. Mama says I wear red glasses, but she doesn’t understand. It’s not the lens of a glass that colours my vision and turns everything to fire. Its the lens in my eye. Red is as familiar to me as my mothers face. Or her tears.
Somebody is looking at me. I can feel their stare boring into my back, baring my bones and exposing my organs. I glare back. The boy is younger than me, smaller, and his eyes go wide when he sees the coals smouldering behind mine. Dumbass.
The bus stops and I leave. The boy mutters thanks as he passes the bus driver. I walk up red streets, and every eye that looks at me is bleeding malice. I am bleeding malice. Today is a red day.
Sometimes the days are only pink, and I might hug my sister, or say sorry to my dad. But today is red, and I’ll destroy anybody who touches me. My skin is electric, I feel every brush of wind, and every small insect that lands on it.
My muscles ache from being clenched. Red bleeds into my body, straining every organ, every muscle, every tendon. My body aches and I wish I could lie down. But I can’t. Today is a red day.
Response to Ibel
Ibel- You read much more deeply into the poem than I, so reading your analysis was eye opening. I never picked up on much of what you mention, especially concerning the sexual imagery surrounding the peach. In all honesty I found TS Elliot a dreary read, and The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock to be one of the most difficult of his poems, so your blog has been fairly usefull for me, as upon returning to the poem I have found much there i previously overlooked. Thank you for this insight!
Write a response, either agreeing or disagreeing, with Mina Loy’s revolutionary suggestion that women should undergo “unconditional surgical destruction of virginity”
Mina Loy’s jarring statement “the first enforced law for the female sex, as a protection against the man made bogey of virtue – which is the principal instrument of her subjugation, would be the unconditional surgical destruction of virginity through-out the female population at puberty”, despite being shocking and provoking a near viceral reaction, is a statement which I personally agree with to a lesser degree. Society, even in this day and age, places far too much emphisis on virginity and purity. We as a society need to wake up to the myth of virginity, as people growing up in this age of reletive sexual liberation still believe the the ‘virginity’ is a medical truth, a kind of barrier that must be destroyed at first penetration. The stigma that goes hand in hand with this idea of the virginity as something tangible is almost as disgusting as Loy’s notion of getting rid of virgity at puberty. The perception of women as broken or used because they didn’t retain their useless farce of innocence and purity is a relic of an old society in which women were only valued for their breeding ability. This perception of sexually active women as undesrable gives way to the phenomenon the Loy speaks of; the great conquest that is taking a womans viriginity. To this day men trip over eachother in a rush to try and be the first to claim the ‘pure woman’. She is more desirable than the others, and because of this she is reduced to a prize for only the most masculine to claim. In modern society too many people still view pleasure in sex as a purely male domain, and women’s sexual encounters as trophies for their male counterparts.
In this sense, the destruction of the virginity is vital – it never really existed anyway.
Take a line from either Lowell or Frost and build your own poem trying, where possible, to imitate the style of the poet chosen
Some say the world will end in fire
I say not.
As despite our tempting of nature’s ire
Our world will end as we require.
We, humanity, too strong to kill,
Too stupid to be struck
by natures will,
Shall turn our own luck.
A response to Tara
Hey Tara! Fire and Ice is one of the first poems I ever read that managed to capture my attention as a bored 14 year old, only interested in badly written fantasy. I love your in depth descriptions of it, and how you manage to capture both the literal and metaphorical meaning. Personally I feel you may have touched more on the idea of fire and ice being representative of humanity’s chief foibles; how we as a people will eventually wipe ourself out- with unrestrained desire, or burning hatred? However this being said you beautifully illustrated the way in which Frost captures an eerie singsong tone in his work, and I look forward to reading more of your blogs!