The Wall Street Protests are spilling over other states. It's sad that they're not getting as much media coverage. The coverage that they do get portrays them as young anarchists who are aimless and know nothing about their wants or goals.
The new I-phone has more coverage than these protests.
I support the Wall Street protest. I may not be there physically but I am there in spirit.
I just read this article from The Guardian about French philosophy and its effects on the "uni"-going public from the 60s and beyond.
While an undergrad, I was heavily influenced by French post-structuralism. Now that I'm in grad school, almost a decade later, it seems that French post-structuralism reached its zenith and is now passe. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for me because most of my thinking process is based on Post-Colonial, Post-structuralist and Deconstructionist proclivities.
I'm just thinking about this because I was talking to one of my professors that I'm doing an independent study with and he seemed befuddled about what my true intentions are in pursuing graduate study. As he put it, "You're pursuing something from a theoretical, philosophical framework. What are you doing in an English program? What are you going to do when you're asked to do (work on) Wordsworth?"
Well, I don't know if I will pursue a PhD. However, there is one theory I am working on and it is a framework of studying not only literature but almost everything; except perhaps in the hard sciences. How will all things go?
I haven't been abreast of all things literary in some time. But I stumbled on a piece of news today that made me a little excited. One of my favorite writers, Jeffrey Eugenides, the author of one of my favorite books, Middlesex, has a new book out coming this October. It's called The Marriage Plot, set in the 1980s about a girl named Madeleine and there's a love triangle in it sandwiched between the "marriage plot" of Madeleine's interest in nineteenth century novels by Jane Austen and George Eliot and her love interest between two men.
Here is an excerpt:
To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Bronte sisters. There were a whole lot of black-and-white New Directions paperbacks, mostly poetry by people like H.D. or Denise Levertov. There were the Colette novels she read on the sly. There was the first edition of Couples, belonging to her mother, which Madeleine had surreptitiously dipped into back in sixth grade and which she was using now to provide textual support in her English honors thesis on the marriage plot. There was, in short, this mid-sized but still portable library representing pretty much everything Madeleine had read in college, a collection of texts, seemingly chosen at random, whose focus slowly narrowed, like a personality test, a sophisticated one you couldn’t trick by anticipating the implications of its questions and finally got so lost in that your only recourse was to answer the simple truth. And then you waited for the result, hoping for “Artistic,” or “Passionate,” thinking you could live with “Sensitive,” secretly fearing “Narcissistic” and “Domestic,” but finally being presented with an outcome that cut both ways and made you feel different depending on the day, the hour, or the guy you happened to be dating: “Incurably Romantic.”
We are born with dreams in our hearts,
looking for better days ahead.
At the gates we are given new papers,
our old clothes are taken
and we are given overalls like mechanics wear.
We are given shots and doctors ask questions.
Then we gather in another room
where counselors orient us to the new land
we will now live in. We take tests.
Some of us were craftsmen in the old world,
good with our hands and proud of our work.
Others were good with their heads.
They used common sense like scholars
use glasses and books to reach the world.
But most of us didn’t finish high school.
The old men who have lived here stare at us,
from deep disturbed eyes, sulking, retreated.
We pass them as they stand around idle,
leaning on shovels and rakes or against walls.
Our expectations are high: in the old world,
they talked about rehabilitation,
about being able to finish school,
and learning an extra good trade.
But right away we are sent to work as dishwashers,
to work in fields for three cents an hour.
The administration says this is temporary
So we go about our business, blacks with blacks,
poor whites with poor whites,
chicanos and indians by themselves.
The administration says this is right,
no mixing of cultures, let them stay apart,
like in the old neighborhoods we came from.
We came here to get away from false promises,
from dictators in our neighborhoods,
who wore blue suits and broke our doors down
when they wanted, arrested us when they felt like,
swinging clubs and shooting guns as they pleased.
But it’s no different here. It’s all concentrated.
The doctors don’t care, our bodies decay,
our minds deteriorate, we learn nothing of value.
Our lives don’t get better, we go down quick.
My cell is crisscrossed with laundry lines,
my T-shirts, boxer shorts, socks and pants are drying.
Just like it used to be in my neighborhood:
from all the tenements laundry hung window to window.
Across the way Joey is sticking his hands
through the bars to hand Felip� a cigarette,
men are hollering back and forth cell to cell,
saying their sinks don’t work,
or somebody downstairs hollers angrily
about a toilet overflowing,
or that the heaters don’t work.
I ask Coyote next door to shoot me over
a little more soap to finish my laundry.
I look down and see new immigrants coming in,
mattresses rolled up and on their shoulders,
new haircuts and brogan boots,
looking around, each with a dream in their heart,
thinking they’ll get a chance to change their lives.
But in the end, some will just sit around
talking about how good the old world was.
Some of the younger ones will become gangsters.
Some will die and others will go on living
without a soul, a future, or a reason to live.
Some will make it out of here with hate in their eyes,
but so very few make it out of here as human
as they came in, they leave wondering what good they are now
as they look at their hands so long away from their tools,
as they look at themselves, so long gone from their families,
so long gone from life itself, so many things have changed.
I can't believe how busy I am! For those complaining why teachers get so much "time off"...well, think again. The sheer mental effort a teacher needs is unbelievable.
Anyway, I've been meaning to read the Patrick Rothfuss Re-read but, unfortunately, I've been very busy with the syllabus-making, the pre-school jitters and life.
What? You say you have no idea who the hell Patrick Rothfuss is?! Are you mad?
He's just one of the greatest fantasy writers ever! Read about wiki's Patrick Rothfuss entry.
Better yet, pick up his books - The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear. You won't regret it.
But I digress. So, there's a Patrick Rothfuss Re-read for those that have already read the book and are just miserably agonizing over when the next book will come out.
Enjoy this re-read link
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
- Martin Niemoller
(German Pastor and Theologian who first supported Hitler's rise to power but quickly spoke against it. The Nazis arrested him and sent him to Dachau for allegedly not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi propaganda. He was released by the Allies in 1945. These words were taken from one of his speeches in 1946 and later circulated in the free world in many different incarnations. This was the version he liked the most.)
Saturday last week was my last day at the Hospital. Next week, I will attend a mandatory orientation for new adjunct faculty. My decision to finally leave the Hospital was precipitated by another petty event - a she-says-she-says-kind-of-thing. Unfortunately, the Hospital is filled with gossip mongers and when you're an unwed pregnant employee, especially if you're a loudmouth pregnant unwed employee who likes telling her dirty little secret all over the place then swearing people to secrecy only to find out that the whole goddamn place knows your dirty laundry, well...news gets around. Although, I had nothing to do with it, key people from her circle of "friends," her cronies that are supposedly my "friends" also from the workplace, informed me of such succulent gossip that she's been dishing out then told her that I knew. Next thing I know, I'm involved in the middle of that fiasco. People calling people up. People hanging up and then comes a middle-aged woman accusing me of being a liar. My life is dramatic enough as it is. I don't need anymore from external sources. So, this event was the last straw. I secretly told everyone (in my head) to suck it. I gave my notice in June. Anyway, I had the teaching gig to look forward to in the Fall. It's no such big loss to stop working at the Hospital. I must say, God was good to me because the subsequent schedule I had after I decided to hand in my notice was amazing as though I planned it so deviously. I didn't have to work at all with that middle-aged lady to the point that she was asking other people if I was avoiding her! The wonders of destiny...
So I forgive them their pettiness anyway. I'm not just saying that. I'm extracting that forgiveness with a heavy-duty drill from my heart. In fact, I should do that to all those who have wronged me in the past. I guess it's my mea culpa too. No one's perfect.
So I'll be teaching my first class in two weeks. According to the roster I have from the College, there's about 20 students signed up already. I've been looking for different varieties of reading material. It's an ESL class and the theme, according to the ESL coordinator I spoke with at the beginning of the week, is "crossing cultures."
I just saw this youtube video a few minutes ago. This kid is obviously very talented. I hope he becomes a professional singer. Life in the Philippines, especially for the poor, is not easy. It's like Slumdog Millionaire without the track music though I do think having been to India that India has got it worse than the Philippines.
Neither relationship nor friendship nor the most intimate connection is sufficient to effect this. To give one's whole confidence is quite different from giving one's regard. The closest intimacy has its exceptions, without which the laws of friendship would be broken. The friend always keeps one secret to himself, and even the son always hides something from his father. Some things are kept from one that are revealed to another and vice versâ. In this way one reveals all and conceals all, by making a distinction among the persons with whom we are connected.
This article speaks about the current state of freshman composition in most colleges and universities. Thisarticle drives home the fact that most people that teach freshman comp are unprepared and the students are usually unprepared. It's a problem because it's hard to be empathic and driven when it's an institutional problem. Most people out of high school are trained to take exams and do well in them (usually). They are not taught how to write or think critically and then write about what they've thought out critically. It's really pathetic. Then to put a barely-qualified graduate student to magically teach undergrads how to write...well, that's another story. That's expecting a miracle.
I'm going to be in the same predicament in the Fall when I start teaching freshman comp. I'm a little more prepared than the girl who wrote the article but it doesn't make it easier...
I am currently reading Ilustrado, a book by Filipino (and now Filipino-Canadian) writer Miguel Syjuco. His unpublished work was the recipient of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize. I must say that I am impressed at the breadth of Syjuco's literary vision and I am also quite shocked that a Filipino can write like this. There are a lot of meta-fictions in the piece injected with humor, unrelenting eagle-eyed observations of humanity and "Filipino-ness" (or lack thereof) of being Filipino or being in Filipino politics. Though, in Syjuco's case, it's not surprising that he is intimately aware of politics in the region since he is a son of a politically-involved (aka rich) family. My own prejudice and bias against Filipino writers comes from my lack of exposure to this group of writers. I've read Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters but it did not explode in the chest as this book has. I haven't read Ninotchka Rosca, Carlos Bulosan and other major or minor Filipino or Filipino hyphenated writers. But perhaps there is a cause far deeper in the psyche. I'll leave it at that...
Anyway, I'll hold off on my own opinion until I read the entirety of the book. For now, the NY Times article should suffice. But here is a brief passage from the book where the reader gets a taste of Syjuco's writing:
The boy had always been quickly on his way to becoming a character misled by his own good intentions and assurances of self, and perhaps interesting in that way. And so, this is where he is declared a protagonist. The dramatic angle to his story begins with recurring images of him fidgeting in his own silence, in deserted subway stations, in classrooms surrounded by schoolmates, in a forenoon queue at MoMA. You can see in his face he is searching, hoping to dispel those things that nettle and diminish him, finding purpose in the conceit of himself as a modern-day member of the ilustrados - a potentiality owned by every expatriate today, a precedent granted by those first Enlightened Ones of the late nineteenth century. Those young Filipino bodhisattvas had returned from abroad to dedicate their perfumed bodies, melliflous rhetoric, Latinate ideas, and tailored educations to the ultimate cause. Revolution. Many dying of bullets, some inextricable exile, others subsumed and mellowed and then forgotten, more than a few later learning, with surprising facility, to live with enforced compromise. What's the difference between them and him and all the other peripatetics, except that the ancestors had already returned? His thick, furled intentions and rolled-up plans would also be shaken out to flap alongside our national flag, one day. So he waited, just as they did, collecting himself into integrity, just as they had, anticipating the final magnetism of native shores. Now, having come home, we see him, our patriotic protagonist, sitting in bed, wondering. Where are the trumpets?
This passage reflects preoccupations of the "ilustrados" according to Syjuco's interpretation. The boy who is the protagonist might be the character who mysteriously died, Crispin Salvador or perhaps it is the protagonist of the supposed magnum opus of Cripin's - Cristo. Or perhaps Miguel Syjuco is also (or merely) writing about himself.
On my drive today, I heard an interesting piece of news from BBC radio. V.S. Naipaul was reported to have said that women writers are no equal to him. In one article written about his dismissive diatribe against female writers, he reportedly said that after a paragraph or two, he knows whether the author is a woman or not, particularly citing Jane Austen as sentimental and possessing a "narrow world view." I can't even begin to comprehend this.
It got me thinking that colored men have complained about the injustice and inequity between them and their white counterparts. Yet when given the chance, some of them take part in the same degradation by putting down women.
Because of an incident that happened a week ago, I'm actually curious about the people who read this blog. I really thought that it was a handful of people that I know. So if you read this blog regularly, can you do me a HUGE favor and leave a post below? Your mark will show just how many people read this thing. As far as I was concerned, this was really for me and some of my friends and the few others that get to see this at random.
Instead of writing my self-appointed 500 words a day on Saturday, because of a headache, I started reading instead. (Seems counterintuitive, right?) I read the sequel to David Whitley's first book, The Midnight Charter Before proceeding to The Children of the Lost, I'd like to say a few words about the previous book and the writer, David Whitley. David Whitley is an under-30 up-and-coming British writer. He is young, talented and driven with a degree from the University of Oxford. He's been publishing since his early twenties. As if that wasn't enough for the over-achiever, he is also an actor and a singer.
The Midnight Charter is one of those rare Middle Grade books that are written well with a very detailed description of the world the characters inhabit. It's about a town called Agora where everything is traded according to value. When two children stumble upon the Midnight Charter, a prophecy, their lives and the lives of those around them change.
The Children of the Lost cannot be read by itself. One would need to read the prequel first. Otherwise, nothing would make too much sense because the story starts off right from where The Midnight Charter ends.
After reading this, I would certainly read the next installment.
I was at the local library the other day, working on my writing and decided to take a break by browsing through titles. I was immediately taken by the title of the book, "Angelology." It's a novel by Danielle Trussoni. It's the story about man's epic battle with the fallen angels' descendants, the Nephilim.
I finished reading it in about three days. The plot is not too bad and some of the writing could be better. As one reviewer put it, it's collegial writing at best, showing a one-paragraph excerpt of the earlier part of the book. He writes:
Continue reading on Examiner.com Fallen angels, crouching agent: movie plus sequel equals ’Angelology’ - Albuquerque Contemporary Literature | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/contemporary-literature-in-albuquerque/fallen-angels-crouching-agent-movie-plus-sequel-equals-angelology#ixzz1OXs6hk37 The novel's draw, however, is not the actual writing but the conceptual framework. It is fascinating and Trussoni draws on many mythic references, synthesizing them together to make her tale. There's the myth of Orpheus, Prometheus, the Giants from the Book of Enoch. She even bases the cave in her book where the fallen angels, referred to as "monstrous creatures," have been imprisoned, from an actual place in Bulgaria where her husband is from.
As I've said, conceptually, the work has a lot of potential. However, the primary drawback that I felt the book had was the characters were undeveloped. There was more focus on plot. I almost felt like it was written specifically so that it would be a movie, with a lot of action. It almost felt Dan Brownesque.
Would I read the next installment, Angelopolis? I sure will...
I heard from one of my publishing friends that Amanda Hocking was offered a 2 million dollar deal. She's the first fanfic writer I heard of that has had this type of success. Then again, she's doing well self-publishing her books so of course that would mean that publishers and anyone in the publishing industry would court her. She would make them a lot of money.
I think Maya Angelou's poem is appropriate for me today. It is a new day. It is a day of rising. It's the first day I'm officially done with the semester and I'm scheduling myself to finish my novel and also submit proposals for conferences in the next few months...
STILL I RISE
You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
God is in the details. But to speak of specifics, the nooks and crannies of said details, can also point to the Devil. The detail-oriented then can, in this fashion, be accused of heresy or the divine. It is, however, the same coin albeit different sides.
I pull two quotations from an early twentieth century writer, Whittaker Chambers.
Tragedy occurs when a human soul awakes and seeks, in suffering and pain, to free itself from crime, violence, infamy, even at the cost of life. The struggle is the tragedy - not defeat or death.
"When you understand what you see, you will no longer be children. You will know that life is pain, that each of us hangs always upon the cross of himself. And when you know that this is true of every man, woman and child on earth, you will be wiser."
About three weeks ago, I was walking on my way home from the gym. I was crossing the street and there was a vehicle turning from the other intersection. As the car passed behind me, I heard a disembodied voice (which I assume was from a female driver) shout: "You're too slow, Bitch!" I turned around but couldn't find the perpetrator of this verbal crime. So I started yelling back into thin air, "Can't you see? Pedestrian crossing says I can go!" But there was no one to listen to me. The car sped off. I was left, fuming. No one has ever cursed at me like that before for crossing the street when I had the right of way from the first place. So I cursed her. I wished she got into an accident. I wished that her license was revoked. I wished that she could feel the same anguished anger at being told that they're slow and a bitch in the same breath. Then I talked to my significant other and he asked me, "Was there a message there for you?"
Me: Huh? Him: Was the universe trying to tell you anything? Me: Ya, that that bitch is a bitch and I'm so f@cking pissed off at that bitch. Him: I think you're being too emotional. Me: Are you taking her side?! Him: No, no. I just think that there is something else going on. Why don't you think about it. Me: There's nothing to think about. She's a bitch and that's that.
Well, in a matter of three days, after having this conversation, I got into almost-accidents while driving my father's '99 silver Nissan Sentra. People were so angry with me for no reason. I suddenly lost all sense of space and couldn't park. I had people watching me. I had a bus waiting for me. There was an Arabic guy cursing me out for not being able to park and he was waiting for me to leave so he could park at the space himself. It was, in other words, a driving/parking nightmare. Suddenly, it was me who shouldn't be driving and I could imagine these people clucking their tongues and shaking their heads, thinking, why in hell does this girl have a license?
So I told my S.O. about it again and he repeated the same thing.
Him: I told you so. Me: (quiet) Him: So think about it. Me: So what does it mean? Him: You should not curse that woman out. You have to go back to the moment and take out that hate you felt for her and just accept it for what it is. Me: Sigh. Fine.
So I tried to do what he suggested. I visualized it. I tried not to hate the bitch. God, I even thanked her for reminding me to be conscious. Anyway, I didn't think of it again until the whole thing with people from the hospital suddenly asking me about my future plans. When I talked to the S.O. about it, he reiterated what he said earlier.
Him: I really think it's a message from the universe. You're being too slow. Me: What do you mean? Him: You should have finished one of your writing projects already. You're being too slow. It's the universe telling you your time is up. Me: Well, when you put it like that... Him: So finish something already.
Alright then. Here's my plan of action: I'm quitting the Hospital job. I'm going to finish my novel draft and I'm going to write for more conferences. The Universe is cursing at me already. One thing's for sure though: I still can't believe the Universe called me a Bitch!
You know the universe is telling you to do something when every goddamn person is asking you why you haven't done it yet. In my case, I've known for a while now that my time at the Hospital is up. It's just gotten unbearably ridiculous in the past couple of weeks. Remember the Russian-Jewish nurse, the typical tall-leggy type, who rolled her eyes at me when she found out I'm taking my Master's in English Lit? That's one. Then, in the past few weeks, everyone's been asking me when am I going to be done. As if to add more insult to (verbal) injury, there was one guy, a 23 year old nurse, who asked me, "So, are you going to be a Clerk with a Master's Degree?" Well. Now that it was put that way, I'm hoping not. I was putting off the composition teaching for a while but I can tarry no longer. I've decided that if Brooklyn College accepts my application to be an English Composition teacher, I'll take it and quit my illustrious job at the Hospital. I'll find out on May 26 since that's the day of my interview. Then I don't have to deal with these questions ever again. Instead, I'll be dealing with different questions. The universe, then, can't accuse me of not following the signs that my time is up and I better get my butt off the proverbial seat.
With the conference only a week away, we encourage you all to broadcast the event among your peers, colleagues, and professors at your respective schools. If you have access to a university or other listserve where you would like us to post the information, please let us know and we will work with you. Please let your acquaintances know that they should enter Hunter College through the West building on the corner of Lexington Ave. and East 68th Street, where they can procure visitor passes at the information desk. This is the procedure for you as well.
I've been thinking a lot lately. What is the nature of love? The best answer that I've seen is Khalil Gibran's from his work, The Prophet. On Love
When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep, And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.
When you love you should not say, 'God is in my heart,' but rather, 'I am in the heart of God.' And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night, To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
Wow. I just received notice that my proposal (for a paper) was accepted for a panel in the English Department of Hunter College. I'm so shocked. Also, I am so scared - like shitless scared. I haven't actually worked on the paper since I submitted the proposal because I thought that I probably wouldn't get in since rejection seems to be the story of my life. But, really, I'm so surprised. For once, I was accepted into something in a quasi-professional level in the world of academia. I don't really count my entrance to the graduate MA English Dept of Brooklyn College since I didn't exactly apply to the program in the first place. My admission was re-routed from the MFA Fiction program.
But I don't really know how to go about doing a conference paper. I have about three weeks to write a really good one. Of course, this is besides the fact that I have to write my final paper for my stupid Intro to Critical Theory course as well as re-write a story for my fiction writing course. Jesus Christ.
It'll be an exciting next few weeks. I thought I would just wallow in some self-pity while doing my papers and whatever it is I am writing but now there is an added pressure of this conference.
Am I complaining?
But, hey, I'm so glad I got into this conference. Now all I need to do is write an awesome paper.
Wish me luck; better yet, pray for me and for my academic salvation.
This week, my writing class is supposed to critique this overly verbose, poorly constructed and badly written piece of fiction by one of my classmates. The first lines read something about an eight year old boy witnessing his older siblings engage in a sexual activity. It was so graphic that I couldn't bring myself to go on. Everything in that story was too much. The prologue that I read containing the very charged piece was just too much for my nerves. I started having a physical reaction - dry-heaving and my chest tightening up. Then I just wanted to throw it and scream at this author that he needs help. I have calmed down since yesterday. But I still feel the same. I can't bring myself to do a close reading of this piece. It's too much. I have since written my critique of it saying that he should tone down the charged scenes. But that's about it as far as anything I can tell him. I felt so violated. I can't even bring myself to go to the class tomorrow.
So, if you were in my shoes, would you do a close reading and critique it?
I am taking a writing class with Marie Rutkoski, the author of the book Cabinet of Wonders. I hadn't read the book when I started the class a few weeks ago. I dreaded having to read it. It wasn't required. But it would be nice to read something from the professor you're taking the class from - to see if you hate their work or not. It's a good gauge to see whether that person knows what they're doing. I downloaded the book into my Kindle and then I began reading. I couldn't stop. The word that kept looping through my head over and over - delightful. DELIGHTFUL. I don't ever use that word to describe anything I've read. Ever. That is, I've never used it until now.
Here's the synopsis from the Macmillan website: Petra Kronos has a simple, happy life. But it’s never been ordinary. She has a tin spider named Astrophil who likes to hide in her hair and give her advice. Her best friend can trap lightning in a glass sphere. And Petra’s father is able to move metal with his mind. He has been commissioned by the prince of Bohemia to build the world’s finest astronomical clock. Then Petra’s father returns home—blind. The prince has stolen his eyes, enchanted them, and now wears them. Petra doesn’t know why, but she does know this: She will go to Prague and steal her father’s eyes back. When she finds out that her father’s clock has the power to destroy the world, Petra realizes she may never make it home alive.
Read it. You won't regret it. I don't care if you're six or sixty. You'll love it. It's that kind of book.
I have a new muse. His name is Banksy. I recently saw a documentary film he directed called EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. It was required viewing for the class that I am the student-interning for. It's brilliant. The story line follows a French man named Thierry Guetta with an obsessive need to film anything and everything that crosses his path until he found the world of street art in the 90s. He meets the big names in the world of graffiti - Shepard Fairey, Space Invader (Guetta's cousin) and others. Then he encounters the mysterious Banksy, the biggest name in the scene, and his life as well as the art world's, changes forever.
I've already seen the film twice in a matter of three days. I recommend it to anyone. Of course, true artistes might find this film offensive. But that's besides the point. It's entertaining while being a documentary and it's as "real" as it gets.
Banksy is a phenomenon. He is known for being the prankster's prankster (he's pulled stunts like spray paint on the West Bank and enter museums to put his own art) so most people thought that this film is a hoax. But you can't fake some of the scenes. It's just life as it happens. He says as much in one of his interviews.
I was in my Intro to Critical Theory course the other day. We were discussing Ricouer's essay Freud and Philosophy. The crux of the essay was something about comparison between the hermeneutics of doubt and the hermeneutics of faith, hermeneutics meaning interpretation. So Ricouer makes a point about how Freud, Nietzsche and Marx are in the school of hermeneutics of doubt (which is where academia is now since the '60s, btw). These thinkers believed that our "reality" is a sham and it is something to wake up from. For example, in Nietzsche's case, "reality" is in the our concept of Morality while in Marx's case, our "reality" is in the idea of the social class system while in Freud's case, the truth is to be taken from the Unconscious. To my shock, one of my classmates asks the professor if he's heard of Daniel Quinn, the guy who wrote ISHMAEL. The prof. said no then she proceeded to tell him that the guy was saying the same thing as these other thinkers, that in the book he was being instructed by a monkey. I couldn't take it anymore and raised my hand. I told her that I know the guy she's talking about and he's just an author, that he's not in the same category as Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. I was in total and utter disbelief. I liked ISHMAEL but, please, it's in another universe as these other guys. Yes, I'm being a snob but, really? This is a graduate English program not an undergrad hippie fest.
On my first visit to India two years ago, I failed to show up for a "party" me and my family were invited to. It was an invite by a man selling beads in a small stall the half the size of my bathroom back in Brooklyn. His village in Tamil Nadu, about six hours by car travel where we are now in Puttaparthi, was one of the recipients of SQ Foundation's charity work in the past several years. So when we mentioned that we knew Derek O'Neill, the founder of SQ Foundation, Kamaraj acted like he knew us thousands of years ago, hence the invite. At the time, I was hesitant because of fear. I was afraid that after having masala chai with him, we'd all end up in the bathroom or worse. Of course, I've regretted not going since. So when we returned to India a few days ago and saw him on our second day, he immediately reminded me that I didn't show up to the party and that this time around, we have to come and have tea with him. So I agreed and my family followed suit. It was easily one of the best times I've had in India.
He took us to a cafe we'd never been to before. If you had no idea that there was anything inside, you'd never even think to go through the narrow hall from the outside where all manner of souvenirs from Punjabi suits, saris to silver jewelry and Ganesh statues all vie for the eye's attention. So none of us thought of even looking on that side of the street when we'd pass by. The interior was painted a light sky blue and in one side of the cafe was open ground where actual banana trees twenty feet high grew. It would have been the most perfect spot only it seemed like everyone that was staying there who, by the way, seemed to all be Russian speakers, smoked cigarettes as if they were chimneys.
Kamaraj told us a little more about his life. He's married to his "big sister's daughter." We were surprised but kept the conversation going. I also thought, no wonder his brother-in-law looked exactly like him! He was shocked that the we didn't have our "caste" written in a piece of paper like everyone else in India. In fact, he seemed perplexed that there was no caste system outside of India (and possibly Nepal). I had no idea that his wife/niece, Kavita, has a hole in her heart. I asked him how come he never told Derek and he said he didn't want to tell him because everyone wants something from Derek. I was in disbelief. How humble and how well-meaning was this person that he didn't even ask for himself (well, his wife) something that was needed. I told him I would pass it on to SQ and, later on, having talked with my dad about it, we told him that we would help with the bill if the foundation couldn't. Kamaraj was elated.
Currently in India at the moment, in the town of Puttaparthi to be exact. It's Sathya Sai Baba's town in Andhra Pradesh. The last time I was here was two years ago. The first thing I noticed on my return is that people I met back then, like Ngajeng the Nepali merchant, the Tibetan doctor in Chadrawathi Road and even Sai Baba himself is the ravage of age. Everyone's gotten older. Ngajeng has a paunch that he didn't have two years ago. He's married now. The Tibetan doctor who runs an apothecary and massage place has raven line wrinkling his eyes. Everyone has aged. The talk of age and death loom the air - Sai Baba's upcoming death, that is. He is the icon, the avatar, the very life of this place. Times have been rough for the town and its residents. They rely on the tourists and devotees that flock every year to Puttaparthi to get darshan from the holy man. But the world economic crisis has affected even the beggars here. Ngajeng said that the past year has been bad for business. It's only picked up since Baba's birthday in November.
Anyway, I'm currently nursing a pinched nerve in my neck. It was my bright idea to get a Tibetan massage while here. It only cost 800 rupees which is roughly equivalent to $20. The petite Indian girl, the doctor's neighbor in Karnataka where he and his wife are from, did a job too well. Her small hands penetrating my nerve. I can barely move my neck now. It's 2 am. I don't think I'll be able to sleep anytime soon. I'm going back to the doctor tomorrow and get acupuncture. Maybe it'll help.
I have a good feeling about this year. I think it comes down to this inner mechanism that speaks in waves and in volumes. I feel it. It's called HOPE. I wrote a poem long ago called HOPE but it was the most depressing thing ever. I read it to four people and their comments were invariably the same: "After hearing that, I just want to go f-cking kill myself now." Geez. I didn't want to be the downer but I guess that's how I was writing. I think HOPE has something to do with HONESTY.
Then I was thinking, well, what do I like to read? Certainly, I didn't like to read depressing stuff. I wanted to write uplifting words, words that made me hope. All this time, maybe I was trying to be somebody I'm not. I was trying to present myself better as though I couldn't accept the part of me that reads romance novels and chick lit from time to time. (Yes!!! I know!) So I realized that I like historical fiction (like Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, The Twentieth Wife), Young Adult novels (like Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) and I like inspirational pieces and paranormal stories. I was ashamed to admit it. But who cares really? I thought there was a judge and jury ready to pass judgment on me just because I like these "non-literary" genres. These are mostly commercial fiction. I've let myself get brainwashed by the "Literary Man" that the great books only lay with the stuff we read in schools. I love Harry Potter. I secretly like the Twilight series (OMG, yikes!); admittedly, it's not written very well but, man, that did that author hit a primal nerve or what! So here it is: I've just come out of the literary closet. I'm not as highfalutin as I thought or pretended to be. I'm part of the mediocre mass that I mocked not so long ago for so long. But then again, I also loved the mental push of me sounding so uppity, spinning words and breaking them into synonyms, acronyms and antonyms, getting stuck in words of convoluted verbal passion. Yes, I am that too! I am part of that other (imaginary) 1% that actually reads (as in gives a rat's ass) on Nietzsche, Augustine, Lacan and, lately, Zizek. So I have bipolar literary desires.