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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2003

Time Event
9:37a
"Word" to various stuff.
anniesj has written her best Spike/Xander yet. (P.S. Dear, you should link to your other pieces in that entry -- either that or put them up on your site or index them in memories or something so people who missed them the first time around can read them. Because this is so not my pairing at all, but you just make it so perfect -- especially in this one.)

My mother, catching up on my LJ after a weekend in New Hampshire, wrote:
I was deligthed to read abotu you enjoying your essay writing. That's how I feel at work when we're doing something -- almost like a puzzle. And very much like a finished product. And I could never get how my daughter the writer never seemed to experience that. Yay! And, indeed, weird you haven't gotten that from Smith. If you bring that home with you, it's worth the $5000 bucks!
Also, um, they watched the video of the funeral of my grandfather, who was a POW in WWII, and one of the Vietnam vets read the following: the end is definitely tear-inducingCollapse )
2:05p
I'm starting to love literary analysis, or, at least, literature.
Honestly, i have moments at Smith in which i feel this way, i just feel like i've been having them more frequently here, with my Modern Self class. Given that they're "moments" they may well fade from memory just as the Smith ones do, but i do think it's interesting that i'm feeling it more on a summer course than at my prestigous college of choice. And if it keeps up, it's definitely worth all the money i've paid to be here.

Perhaps more accurately i'm learning (as i do at Smith) just what i like about literature and what interests me to study about literature.

I'm really big on allusions, probably because i love myth and religion [wow, typing that i realized for the first time that duh, my love of greek mythology and my passion for learning about different religions actually have a big connection] so much.

We started talking about the final line of The Mill on the Floss, the line on their tomb: And in their death they were not divided, which comes from 2 Samuel 1:23 and the resonance of the David/Saul/Jonathan relationship (reading this book has ruined me of course, but i didn't talk about that) and how readers of the time would also hear the preceding line, "they were lovely in their lives," and how that has a dissonance given what kind of person Tom was and all that.

Other major Biblical allusions related to Maggie's self-destructive tendencies -- she cuts off her own hair in a twisting of Samson&Delilah, and her behavior with her Fetishes is directly linked in the text to the story of Jael (Judges 4:17-22).

Then there's Philip's slighly inaccurate rendering of the story of Philoctetes.
He listened with great interest to a new story of Philip's about a man who had a very bad wound in his foot, and cried out so dreadfully with the pain, that his friends could bear with him no longer, but put him ashore on a desert island, with nothing but some wonderful poisoned arrows to kill animals with for food.

'I didn't roar out a bit, you know,' Tom said, 'and I daresay my foot was as bad as his. It's cowardly to roar.'

But Maggie would have it that when anything hurt you very much it was quite permissible to cry out, and it was cruel of people not to bear it. She wanted to know if Philoctetes had a sister, and why she didn't go with him on the desert island and take care of him.
I don't need to tell you how many issues i have with Maggie's way of thinking there, but Valentine's line of thinking was that while Maggie wonders if Philoctetes had a sister, what if he were a woman? He is othered in much the same wasy as women are. In the real story, his wound will not heal and it stinks so much that people cannot bear to be around him. This has very obvious parallels to how women were traditionally seen as contaminating presences because of menstruation and such. And Valentine said that when Odysseus and Diomedes go to retrieve Philoctetes, the first thing they see are his bandages hanging up drying.

Also, he said there was the idea that Philoctetes' phenomenal strength was linked to his wound, and that that was a common theme in myth, about strength being dependent upon a wound, and Philoctetes' is the title story in an early Freudian book The Wound and the Bow which asserts that early trauma leads to literary greatness. (I'm not going to get into that argument at the moment.)

There's also the story of the witch of St. Ogg's and the drowning and the parallels to Maggie and the issues surrounding her and water throughout the book. I love stuff like that, retelling stories, parallel stories. That must relate to my fascination with not so much fairy tales themselves but the retellings of them (and often the originals, because our common versions have been so changed -- usually sanitized -- that they seem to be themselves retellings).

Valentine also talked about Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity, which George Eliot translated. He mentioned the phrase "work is worship," which made me want to look for the book in the library to use as additional reference material for my Robinson Crusoe paper and mentioned that another big thing of Feurbach's was the idea that all meals are sacramental and stuff, which got me interested in his actual theology.

A. S. Byatt, in his Introduction to my edition of The Mill on the Floss writes of Feuerbach:
His central theory was that man had created God in his own image by personifying, or projecting, those human quantities he most valued in the human species onto eternal Figures. It was now time, he considered, to unlearn the language and understand the needs that had given rise to the creeds and codes of Christianity.
That pretty much sums up my take on religion (complicated by the fact that i insist on a belief in a loving Creator for my own sanity) so i really want to track down a copy of that book.


Valentine edited the World's Classics Adam Bede and mentioned casually that if we buy a copy while we're here he'll autograph it. Anyone want? (I'm thinking mainly of my mother here, but anyone can respond.)

(Searching Amazon for him, i found this book, which looks really interesting and reminded me of another thing he was talking about in class today, about writers having an idea as to what a novel is and how to do it is fairly recent [which got me thinking about Jessica's talk about Joyce reinventing the novel or whatever] and their big three women writers -- George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Iris Murdoch -- were critics/theorists before they were novelists. Plus i tend not to be so big on literary theory. Definitely wanna procure a copy of that book at some point.)
3:32p
once again a paid user
largely because i wanted to use this icon (made by silvercobwebs), but also because i wanted to tweak my layout a bit (i'm still mildly dissatisfied, but it'll do for now).
9:39p
Virgina Woolf, High Table, etc.
Guest lecturer (Clare Morgan) tonight, Virgina Woolf and Her World.

It was okay.

At one point she quoted some critics of Woolf, which was interesting.

Clayton Aiken (sp?) said she was very much like Jane Austen, breathed that same air of gentility, and Clare said that she didn't know what he was reading to assert that reading her work makes one think of Jane Austen. I've admittedly only read Mrs. Dalloway (some of her other stuff i am interested in reading, and at Michelle's suggestion i will likely take Bob Hosmer's Woolf class) but i the idea of there being a great similarity resonates with me.

There was some guy Bennett who was very critical, one might even say dismissive, of Woolf, and i don't remember specifically what he said, but what really stuck with me was Clare saying after reading an excerpt, "That tells us a lot about Bennett." I thought, "Well of course all criticism, and praise for that matter, tells you a lot about the person doing the reviewing, sometimes even more than it tells you anything about the person being reviewed, but it says a lot about you and your pro-Woolfian biases that you think his criticism of her somehow reflects poorly on him."

From a correspondence to T. S. Eliot, i think while Woolf was working for Bloomsbury Press or something:
We want your defective compositions as soon as we can have them. We should have them suitably printed, and produce after Christmas. Don't think that this allows you plenty of time: it does not. Send as soon as you have done your Preface. I don't like paying fellow authors compliments, because I like there to be one cake of praise which is reserved entirely for me, but visiting Charleston the other day ... I there picked up The Sacred Wood [one of Eliot's literary critical pieces] and came home and burnt every one of my leading articles in the [Times Literary] Supplement. Why are you the only man who ever says anything interesting about literature?
I was amused.

One of quotes Clare didn't include in her handout but which i loved was from Leonard on the house that he and Virgina spent the first night of their married life in. He said that it was a romantic house, and that it was also a claustrophobic and musty and other adjectives i can't remember house. I loved that, because the romanticization of stuff, and the glorification of romanticism is something i am not enamoured of (tee, unintentional pun) at all.

I have more thoughts on romantic notions of love here.



Changing topics, it was Guest Dinner (read: fancy dinner) and i was at High Table. Usually fancy dinner is less than my favorite dinner, but tonight my overarching thought was, "This is the best fancy dinner yet."

Warm rolls to begin, which is often the best part (and for once i didn't have a poppyseed roll). Instead of salad and then meat and vegetables, we had Ogen Melon with Lemon Sorbet (lemon sorbet's not really my thing, but the melon was delicious) followed by a normal salad (last week we had avocado salad with rose-something-or-other dressing which people were calling Thousand Island, and as i like neither avocado nor that dressing i partook of little salad) and then the main course. I saw Char Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with Red Wine and Shallot Butter and thought, "Steak! If i weren't a vegetarian, that would excite me (though i've had steak once in my life and found it overly chewy)." I came down from my "best dinner" high when the vegetarian dish was placed in front of me: a small mushroom keesh topped with a green sprig and surrounded by mushroom sauce. It just looked so small. Was good, though, and Devon next to me had still bleeding steak. [edit: And there were french fries! How did i forget to mention that? They were curly spicy fries, so not my favorite, but still, french fries! In shallow bowls on the tables. Fancy dinner is usually odd because whereas at regular dinner they scoop large helpings of food onto your plate, at fancy dinner you get served these fairly small portions. But bowls of french fries meant you could keep muching until you were full.] Dessert was summer pudding, which is too tart for my taste, but that's okay. Shame today turned into solid rain given the lovely summery dinner.
11:06p
in which i briefly discuss Harvey Milk High School going public
My dad sent me this and i smiled.

A friend sent me this and i felt torn. Shortly thereafter, my father sent me this, and while i can't bring myself to head over to the Jolt, webchicky does have an entry asking for thoughts and one commenter links to a comment-debate in his journal.

Okay, here are my issues.

I have issues with affirmative action and single-sex schooling (yes, even though go to one such institution) and i really need to research them a lot more, so please don't attack me about this because i can't argue properly, i just have issues. Anyway, i think this provokes the same sort of gut reaction. If it's a private school, fine. Private institutions can do pretty much whatever they want. But getting public funding for something which with only 100 students is a very selective institution rubs me the wrong way.

Plus, only 100 students, so as a band-aid it's not even a big band-aid. I have no idea how admission is chosen (i would hope the criteria would be how shitty your high school is, i mean, how badly you really need to get out of there and into a safe environment, but cynically i suspect there are other factors, like perhaps if you can afford it, though i suppose that would be remedied by going public) but many school administrations may see it as an excuse to not do more to fix issues in their own schools, figuring, "Hey, gay kids can just transfer to Harvey Milk."

Also, what about queer kids who are getting mistreated in school but who can't tell their parents? What about straight kids who are getting mistreated in school because people think they are queer?

A commenter in the Reason post brought in publicly funded schools for the blind, deaf, and mentally handicapped. Hi, there's a difference between not being able to function in mainstream schools because of a birth defect and not being able to function in a mainstream school because the world is out to get you.

I'm not at all opposed to a high school just for queer kids. I just don't think it should be publically funded. Public funds should go to making all schools safer for queer kids.
11:13p
I think Virginia Postrel is one of my new favorite people.
Click here.

And because i have nothing to say about Bob Hope, i just present this link.

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