I hope that you’ve all gotten at least a first draft going. Essay is due Wednesday, December 3rd 2014. Hard copy and turnitin.com.
Monthly Archives: November 2014
“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”
“What if a demon crept after you into your loneliest loneliness some day or night, and said to you: “This life, as you live it at present, and have lived it, you must live it once more, and also innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and every sigh, and all the unspeakably small and great in thy life must come to you again, and all in the same series and sequence – and similarly this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and similarly this moment, and I myself. The eternal sand-glass of existence will ever be turned once more, and you with it, you speck of dust!” – Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth, and curse the demon that so spoke? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment in which you would answer him: “You are a God, and never did I hear anything so divine!” If that thought acquired power over you as you are, it would transform you, and perhaps crush you; the question with regard to all and everything: “Do you want this once more, and also for innumerable times?” would lie as the heaviest burden upon your activity! Or, how would you have to become favourably inclined to yourself and to life, so as to long for nothing more ardently than for this last eternal sanctioning and sealing?”
As of right now I only have 40 hard copies of Columnist Response #2 in my hands. That means 50% of my 3 sections will either get a zero or no comments on a major formative assignment. Get them to me before the turkey break, turkies!
“Meet a piece of literature on its own terms, not yours. If you have to “relate” to a work in order to understand it, you are not reading sufficiently. In other words, don’t try to fit the piece into your life; try to see the world the piece creates. Then, if you’re lucky, its world will help you re-see your own.”
Just a quick word about The Waste Land as I am working my way through your initial attempts to wrestle with the poem:
Some of you seemed to get jammed up worrying about figuring out what is occurring in Eliot’s poem, I think, because you were
obsessed with worried about the literal interpretation. The problem is, sometimes, the words don’t quite map onto the semantic world very neatly.
Here’s my advice regarding reading poetry: If the poetry is good, it captures that which conventional language cannot. Often connotations are as important as denotations, so you have to let go and experience the poem. Try to hear it. A first read should wash over you. You should live it and record these responses as valid reactions. All subsequent reads should creep closer and closer. Let the language guide you.
Here’s my advice regarding Eliot’s poem specifically: As I said in class, try to imagine nothing. Empty space. Images, ideas, emotions, colors, characters, voices invade as fragments, appearing on and disappearing from the stage. Let each fragment impact you as it will. Let your mind form the strands from which to hang them together. Let the most salient lines assail your consciousness and stick there, evoking what they will. Research references in this order. Repeat this process. Each high tide is a new experience, each low tide a time for investigating that smell you can’t place. Each time the water encroaches you will be immersed anew, but don’t fear death by drowning! Each time the water recedes you will stand again on terra firma.
So, a lot of students have come in to see me for help in the days before the first column response is due. That’s a good thing. I’ve been dispensing a lot of the same advice, so I decided to write down some specifics I’ve been doling out to almost every student. I wrote this in about 20 minutes, but I figured I’d publish it before I obsessed about polishing it so that it might reach some of you who are working right to deadline.
Enjoy with a glass of cold water.