Friday, February 18, 2011

The Cabinet of Wonders

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.

Banksy's Couch Gag

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


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.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


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.

OMG, I just exhibited the hermeneutics of doubt!