Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Does the work make you a better person?

In realtion to Becky's journal question, "does the work make you a better person?", I would have to agree. YES, the reading and comprehending a text makes you a better person. This is why we are English majors, we are the deliverees of the humanities!! What one takes from a text despite if the text is good or even if they enjoyed it, is not of importance. Simply by reading and taking in the words and thoughts of the page, makes you a better person for simply reading it. By absorbing as many different viewpoints, texts, opinions, and words as we can all make us better people. I feel as though many of the critics would agree, we learned of the idea of the "second sex" through Simone de Beauvior, we learned of race through Henry Louis Gates, and we learned of deconstruction through Derrida. You see, just at Dr. Sexson said at the begining of the course- to think of literature as a buffet- a satisfaction of all different kinds of needs. Some people may like chicken wings, while others enjoy poetry. Some may devour the salad, while some stick to the jello and defense of criticism. Regardless of whether you enjoyed the text or meal, you will become full within your belly as well as within your mind, and that my fellow classmates all makes us better people for diversity is key for a well lived life.

What literary work has changed your world?

This is broad and rather vague question, yet I would like to adress the question in regards to art. Literature is a form of art and the form of art which changed the view of my world would be the painting Cafe Terrace At Night by Vincent Van Gough. This painting hangs in my parents living room, and has been in the same spot ever since I can remember. I love this painting with it's rich golds, and lazy light. This work of art changed my world because it simply inspired me to want to see this beautiful and romantic setting. I want to travel and seek out this little cafe in Paris. It is wonderful to think of the thousands of beauitful places around the world, depicted in either fine art, or the art of words. I am excited to graduate becasue one of the first things I want to do, is to purchase a one way ticket to Europe and see as much ancient beauty as I can, and number one on that list is Cafe Terrace!

What literary work has changed your world?

This is broad and rather vague question, yet I would like to adress the question in regards to art. Literature is a form of art and the form of art which changed the view of my world would be the painting Cafe Terrace At Night by Vincent Van Gough. This painting hangs in my parents living room, and has been in the same spot ever since I can remember. I love this painting with it's rich golds, and lazy light. This work of art changed my world because it simply inspired me to want to see this beautiful and romantic setting. I want to travel and seek out this little cafe in Paris. It is wonderful to think of the thousands of beauitful places around the world, depicted in either fine art, or the art of words. I am excited to graduate becasue one of the first things I want to do, is to purchase a one way ticket to Europe and see as much ancient beauty as I can, and number one on that list is Cafe Terrace!

What text is a touchstone for you?

As an English major, I have an obvious love for text, one would have to or the very idea of being and English major would drive one crazy. One of my favorite works is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My mother is from the South and this is also one of her favorite works. She would read this to my sister and I when putting us to bed when we were little. I never really understood the deeper meanings beyond the characters of Scout and Jim until we read it English class my sophomore year in High School. I have traveld to the South many times, and it is crazy to see and realize that racial discrimination still lingers today. In my mother's neighborhood the only black people are the gardeners, butlers, cooks, and the lawn crews. Just last year, my grandmother's country club welcomed their first black member-since 1937. How sad. And very different from Montana. This is off the subject yet even being in Atlanta a few summers ago, it seems as if the whole social class system is off within the South , there are simply the "haves" and the "have nots", I did not see a large middle class like we have in Montana-another reason why this state is so great.

Atticus Finch says this, "If you just learn a single trick Scout, you'll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." What a wonderful lesson! This can be applied not only to people, yet to texts as well. You have to get inside people, like texts, taking time and patience to understand them. Like texts, people too can be entertaining, boring, funny, satirical, sad, dramatic and happy. Another one of my favorite quotes from this novel," I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted-if I could hit'em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon becuause mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat peoples gardens, don't nest in the corncrib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us." I just love this, I think it is so sweet and important to recognize the simplicities and song which nature offers.

This text is a touchstone for me, beacuase it was the first text I read which dealt with social, race, and family issues. I was angerd by this text, wanting justice for Tom Robinson, wanting him to be free! Reading this text is the first time I felt truley alive within the words, making it an important touchstone for me. I feel as though this novel will remian a classic throughout the future because society will always have a need for heros, and it this text Atticus Finch is the hero, defending a black man in the deep south in the early 40's believing that cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white man. Humanity will always call for integrity, character and truth and it is this novel which depicts all three beautifully.

What peice of work offers you consolation?

As an English major, I have read many texts and written even more papers, however I can always remember a short poem by one of my favorites, Henry W. Longfellow. In high school I was extremely busy and involved within clubs, sports, activities and the other trials and tribulations of being young. I remember one particular day, a day full of stress- I had just recieved two acceptance letters from two Universities- Lousiana State University, where my mother had attended, and Gongzaga University, where my father had attended. Both parents wanted me to attend their old universites, while I had no actual idea of where I wanted to go. I felt lost and unsure, which I'm sure many high school students do, and I was walking through the hallway and had just entered English class and I saw this poem on my teacher's desk: "And the night shall be filled with music, and the cares that infest the day, shall fold thier tents, like the Arabs, and as silently steal away." I know this is short and may not be considerd to be an actual text, yet, I love it nonetheless. When I read these words I suddenly felt better, knowing that whatever my decided univeristy to attend, would be wonderful. I still repeat these words in my head whenever I encounter hard days, or too much homework. How nice and delightful that just a few stanzas of someone's words can offer consolation and comfort.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Desert Island Book Question.....

If I were to be stranded on a destert island, alone, thirsty, bored, and sunburn, and I could bring one book it, would be Norman McLean's A River Runs Through It. This novel would not only offer a wonderful story, and images of the big blackfoot river rushing through the Missoula valley, yet would also bring a story of love, family, and Montana- a refreshing opposite from that of a hot desert island. I am not sure why I love this book so much, it must be the wonderful and beautiful descriptions of my hometown, Missoula , Montana. I spent every summer on the big Blackfoot river swimming and diving with my friends and sisters, and it is where my grandfather taught me the art of flyfishing at the age of six. "Poets talk about "spots of time", yet it is really fishermen who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone. I shall remember that son of a bitch forever."

I am by no means a great fisherwoman, in fact I have not fished in many summers, yet it this book and McLeans words which seem to capture the immense and grand beauty of Western Montana. I spent a summer working in Glacier National Park, and my family has a cabin which my grandfather built with his own hands, on Lindbergh Lake in the heart of the Swan Valley nestled in between the Swan and Mission Mountian ranges. Needless to say, I am in love with Montana. Surely when I finish my degree, I will head off to see the world and hopefully encounter many adventures, new rivers, and new mountians. Yet is my youth spent in the mountians and waters of this beautiful state which will forever be apart of my heart, and in this novel which puts the beauty and sincerity of nature into words. My grandfather too is old and rarley fishes anymore, he has this passage from the novel above his fly rod mounted in his living room;

"Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them. Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fishermen, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Artic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Artic-half light of the canyon, all existence seems to fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Through much confusion, and trudging through my computer illiteracy, I seemed to have finally created my own website. I suppose it is the year 2004 in the twenty -first century, and it seems as though I can no longer avoid the computer. So begins my English 300 daily journal as well as an introduction to computer technology. I am excited for MS class twice a week. Despite the early morning factor, it is quite nice and very refreshing to listen to a humorous classroom while being comforted that perhaps studying a Liberal Art may not be such a silly choice after all......

"And the night shall be filled with music, and the cares that infest the day, shall fold their tents, like the Arabs, and as silently steal away.

Reflections on Thursday's lecture....

Last Thursday morning, I was tired an entered the classroom somewhat sleepy. I left the classroom awake, prepared and smiling. How fun it was to discover such a lovely passage on the importance of Literature! I very much enjoyed Walter Pater's thoughts on not placing so much importance on a lesson, morality, or even complicity in a work- yet simply valuing the beauty of a work. One of my favorite books is Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shell Silverstien. It is a childrens book of poetry, often very simple, yet fun. To love, understand or even apprecitate a work of literature does not mean it has to be lofty, academic or extremely complex. Literature should enteratin and inspire and Thursday's class seem to shine a bit of light on the daring decision to become an English major. Also, the President of the University's cameo was entertaining as well.