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declining stories. Nouns, too. [Oct. 7th, 2010|02:12 am]
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[Current Location |right in front of the pumpkin!]
[Current Music |justin vernon - song for a lover of long ago]

I never thought of it, really, but--declension, that's what you do, I mean, that's when you change the endings of nouns. Rai from Ground Beneath engages in a kind of declension of stories, inasmuch as he's changing their endings. This is a stupid idea? But I like it anyway. When I was little I liked stickers very much; I had dog stickers and I drew silly pictures for them to live in. I still treat words like stickers, probably; I just stick them on weird landscapes of idea or shape etc. and say "You live here now."

The god of the imagination is the imagination. The law of the imagination is, whatever works. The law of the imagination is not universal truth, but the work’s truth, fought for and won.

So, this book still rocks.

A lot.

The three chapters I have to write on this week--'The Whole Catastrophe', 'Beneath Her Feet', and 'Vina Divina'--are all chapters which I completely adore. You'd think this would make them easier to write about, but that's not the case. At least the chapters of which I'm less fond are about as difficult to consider, since at this point I'm not going to cop out and retreat into a Thesis of Complaint. Hmph, anyway.

As usual, rambling beneath the cut. Kickin' chairs and takin' notes. On records (skipping and keeping) and the end of invisibility.Collapse )

Other things:

1) I keep going to the library in search of one Joyce book and walking out with five; my shoulders ache from carrying them all. At the beginning of this week I finally picked up Richard Ellmann's biography of Joyce and I can already tell that I'll love it. Ellmann is absurdly sympathetic towards Joyce--so, he's biased--fine--but without bias, who has a personality? & it's not like I didn't have the same sympathies before reading Ellmann. His (criticized) practice of using Joyce's texts as biographical evidence is a bit odd, but also a bit Joycean; I mean it's not like any other sources he's using have no claims to narrative. I'd rather someone writing my biography look to my fiction than to the testimony of certain individuals, for instance; it's a bit closer to some side of me. You've got to get the all-roundedness; better even than Bloom or his wily fellow-traveller. Translating a life to a book is impossible. Dig wherever you can. Find the wishlists and the pot-shards too.

It's sure loads better than that biography of Eliot I had to read a few springs ago. Talk about Stockholm syndrome.

2) I think I've decided to write a story for my independent project. Yikes. I'm going to do some preliminary work on it over the course of this semester, here & there, & see if it looks promising. If it does, I'll try to finish a draft of it over Christmas break. If it doesn't, I'll scrap it and plan to write yet another paper instead.

It will be an Orpheus and Dionysus story. I may end up calling it "Names that End in S or I". I'll endeavor not to take it very seriously--soon-ish I may post here with just a blathery "what in the heck must I do" paragraphing frenzy.

3) In the same vein (I typed 'vain') I'm trying to work out precisely how the papers are going to be written/organized. I'm certain now that I'm writing Joycepaper on the Ithaca chapter--now the question is whether to just write Rushdiepaper, or to write Rushdiepaper and Joyce&Rushdiepaper, or to just write Joyce&Rushdiepaper--? Nah, that last idea doesn't work. I want to write a just-Rushdiepaper. I will have to try quite hard not to turn it into a fangirl treatise, but. Maybe, if fiction doesn't work out, I'll write Joyce&Rushdiepaper for my independent project, & otherwise ditch it.

4) Will's asked me (for the second time) what audience I'm aiming for with my translation, and I must confess I haven't the foggiest. Another question: do I have poetic pretensions? Yes. Can I manage that, I asked myself? I don't know. I'm really wretched at determining an audience for my fiction; I shouldn't have expected this to be any more straightforward. For some reason I feel like a real wretch for not knowing, though. I mean, what's the point of translation without an audience? Haven't I been writing about that very idea for a few years now? When I think about who I might send it to--the translation I mean--I think, maybe people I know? people who know what I'm doing? that I'd send it by way of explanation: "I'm living on the other side of these words, see." But that's not a justification. That's a silly personal thing. I must give it more thought.

The problem is this: I know full well that both texts I'm translating have been translated before, and better; I know that there are people who could translate them now with better results; I know that even Future Me could someday take a better whack at this. But I'm doing it now. What do I have going for me now? Concentration, assistance, a good atmosphere and great zeal. I can build on an earnest and varied (if less than scholastic?) foundation.

The balance I want to strike is the Joyce-one: between architecture and growth. Between accuracy and art. Between the organized and the organic.

Good %$#@in' luck, Kimble.

5) It's October! Proper autumn. How the--...hmm. There is a tiny pumpkin on the table! and another tiny pumpkin on my desk! This is Plan-relevant because the presence of tiny pumpkins increases my intellectual capacity exponentially.
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yeah, we got trouble. Trouble right here in New York City. [Sep. 30th, 2010|06:31 pm]
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[Current Location |inside, for the moment.]
[Current Music |cantores regina caeli - dies irae]

(why sure, I'm a theater-goer, miiiiiiiiighty proud to say--you know I'm mighty proud to say it!)

ahem. So, I'm trying to come up with something to say about the next 100-odd pages of The Ground Beneath Her Feet ('Higher Love', 'Transformer', and 'On Pleasure Island') and I'm realizing this may be my least favorite section of the whole book. Why? Well, lookee there, Ormus and Vina have reunited at long last and moved to America and I feel guilty, because I think I've joined the crowd of people who find Orpheus and his many selves more interesting unhappy than happy. Without Eurydice than with Eurydice and this is not surprising, but, but I feel sort of bad. After all, it's this preference that led to the guy's suffering in the first place. Also, it's not like Ormus is actually that happy during these three chapters, and that's rather a point; he's with the only woman he'll ever love from whom he's been parted for years and his main concern is...The Nature of Reality...or something. Well, that and music. But the music is his answer to the first question.

I think you'll find we're trapped in someone else's mind. Yes I think you'll find we're trapped in someone else's mind. And it's only make-believe but we can't leave it behind. Everything you think you see: it can't be. There's just me. Darling there's just me, just me.

Really fourth-walling it there, aren't we, Ormus?


Anyway, uh, 'On Pleasure Island' dwells in a pretty cloying, fictive, exaggerated America. Intentional I suspect. There was the imaginary America that Ormus (& Rai) dreamt of, the real and yet bizarrely tragic America where Vina grew up, and now there's the 'real' America she returns to (for the second time) with Ormus--but it's in tacky colors and full of sex and commerce and scandal and Capitali(st?)zation; it's not without its anchors to a real America, but it's very hm. It's a shiny surface. It's sequined lingerie in a dressing-room somewhere. Rai and Ormus war with the difficulty of presenting anything, hell, seeing anything that doesn't look like a presentation, that seems real enough. Solid enough. There's something of this in the title, I imagine. And I think I'm going to start blathering, so I'd better put this under a cut.Collapse )

So it seems that I ought to write about levels of unreality or something this time, & in so doing find a way to complain. You know...eloquently.

I can't wait for the next three chapters. 'The Whole Catastrophe'! Yes.

And then I'll stay up all night doing Greek. I think I have moved on from the first stasimon to Cadmus and Tiresias, so it'll be nice easy sentences for a while. "So...Bacchic worship then?" "Yeah, let's."
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Fritz Senn gets to make up words! [Sep. 28th, 2010|10:28 pm]
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[Current Location |the corner. ]
[Current Music |stan whitmire - bella's lullaby]

In this he follows the noble tradition of his (unkind, absent, s(S)ignipotent) mentor J.J. so we will not only applaud him, but applaud him with a knowing smirk on our faces. He wrote an essay called 'Dislocution' which I guess he must have liked because it's the last essay in a book of his essays entitled--yes, you guessed it, Joyce's Dislocutions. Dislocution is (a little ironically) nowhere to be found in the OED--it's a creation of Senn's, coined in the hope of describing a terribly clever thing that Joyce does better than his predecessors. The exciting prefix dis- stuck onto a form of good ol' Latin loquor (and hey, that's one letter away from 'liquor'! see, ain't I just a phrase-drunk dislocutin' fiend!) combine to form a process through which Joyce suggests a thousand paths in differing directions. One sentence is the station from which at least a dozen trains of thought are due to depart. This is the idea. The subject I think.

I wrote a response for class on this subject, I mean, this essay. This is what it looked like. Blah blah prefixes blah blah Bloom & Stephen dichotomy blah blah we're a bit infinite & Joyce gets it but Finnegans Wake still sucks.Collapse )

Confession: I was super-pleased with myself--that I sought out & selected this essay & it seemed to be something of a success. I've got to read more of the stuff in that book--the stuff on Ulysses anyhow, despite the risk of becoming a slavish Senn devotee. That guy is ridiculous and he is articulate and he's got a polysyllabic soul I think and he never seems to take himself too seriously. The best of critics! Mark my words, I shall quote you again, Mr. Senn. I shall quote the heck out of you and you will become stranded in part in my messy texts and you & I, we'll pick bad routes to Ithaca together.

Speaking of Ithaca, I'll likely write about it for my Proper Plan Paper on Joyce. at some point I will probably crawl back here and sprawl a bunch of blotted nonsense best entitled 'What in the Hell is Emily Going to Write About Ithaca This Winter'. I think it would be good if I could finish Joycepaper at the very least (particularly if it's about Ithaca--then I can finish it before I pop back to my Ithaca!) before Christmas break, and maybe Rushdiepaper too. Then I could devote second semester solely to refining my translations and writing Joyce&Rushdiepaper. Joyce&Rushdiepaper is probably going to somehow involve crowds of selves, Rai & Stephen & narrative shenanigans, relationships between narrator/author/audience/character/translator/translation and how very saucy they can sometimes become. Rushdiepaper is going to involve using myth & song for similar purposes and the deficiencies of text or, or something, I dunno.

I am excited.

Good session working on Tristia today, too! Though Ovid's adorable personification of books is making me want to draw a little comic starring all the books I'm using for Plan thus far talking to one another and attempting (ill-fated) seduction. Independent project? ...no. No, definitely not.
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(it was a preface to knowing) [Sep. 19th, 2010|10:49 pm]
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[Current Location |comfortable chair of doom.]
[Current Music |jeffrey foucault - highway and the moon]

Blahdiblahdiladeedah, Ithaca, Ithaca, Ithaca.Collapse )

The computer only encourages my deranged note-taking process. I'll become Stephen, paragraphing all over the place--oh, who am I kidding, no future tense necessary. I love 'Ithaca'. There are parts I can barely get through because they're such a pile of cataloging blather but do I care? no, because Stephen Dedalus finally gets a cup of cocoa! I've been wanting to give him one for six hundred and eighty-seven pages, Bloom. Thank you so much.

The idea of writing a chapter of a novel entirely in Q & A format's really delightful--I mean, were I to do it, I wouldn't be thinking on a zillion levels, nor referencing old textbooks, catechisms, or even a real scientific inquiry. The closest to set, intellectual questioning I get is half-baked Socratic interrogation. And that's among friends. It's so hard for a narrator to ask questions without sounding like a doofus. :( I work very hard to drive myself out of my narrative voices, and I ask questions all the time, so I ditch the question marks save in quotation and and this has nothing to do with Plan.

Uh, look, a wonderful quote from an essay on Ithaca:

[In Ithaca] we are tacitly invited...to supply our own reflections upon the ruin that language leaves when, like time, it has passed across the reality.
R.A. Copland & G.W. Turner, 'The Nature of James Joyce's Parody in 'Ithaca''

And one from the chapter itself:

What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier returning to the range, admire?

Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator's projection: its umplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8,000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation...its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs, and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew...its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe) numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90% of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.

...What reason did Stephen give for declining Bloom's offer?

That he was hydrophobe, hating partial contact by immersion or total by submersion in cold water (his last bath having taken place in the month of October of the preceding year), disliking the aqueous substances of glass and crystal, distrusting aquacities of thought and language.

....October?! This is June, Stephen. For shame. Don't worry, neither thought nor language'll get on you if you practice hygiene. If you brood in the shower, that's your problem; you brood every damn where.
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window-candles, etc. [Sep. 17th, 2010|12:08 am]
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[Current Location |kitchen table. chai was here!]
[Current Music |my terrible friend - when i decide]

Most recent Rushdie response. Wow, maybe one day I'll even learn to use segues.Collapse )

Took my first whack at reviewing The Bacchae this evening--I'm surprised by the grammar; how it's not as intimidating as I remembered. Really, it's just that I forget all the vocabulary. And I still can't scan worth half a damn. I looked at my notes from that one tutorial with Will and attempted to imitate the process and I ended up throwing up my hands in defeat. "Why's that long? Hasn't it got to be short? Argh argh argh!" Went through Dionysus' opening monologue. Such a talker! Abridged version: "Oh, no, you did not just diss my mom. It's on now."

It's nice that somebody has mommy issues that are a little less complicated. Rai, Stephen, I'm looking at you.

I am sick (I think it made the literature easier & the translation harder--less thinking).

There's a photograph in this book of a 1988 production of the Bacchae. Pentheus is in a suit and glaring at the silly people in their silly clothes. Dionysus would look awfully sharp in a suit. Pentheus has got an inadvertent point. Imagine!
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what is a ghost? [Sep. 13th, 2010|12:32 am]
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[Current Location |the desk. the damn desk.]
[Current Music |andy mckee - into the ocean]

my desire to stab my copy of Ulysses with a pen--or better yet a pencil (sharper)--it's rising. Not so much out of any antagonism towards the book per se, but I feel like I want to confront this thing more directly. Have a half-knife-fight and lose. Pen is mightier than the. Posthumous printings mightier still. I'm so tired, but I have to say something tonight so I won't wake up to silence tomorrow, so, here I am.

Babbling--Scylla and Charybdis, Wandering Rocks, Sirens.Collapse )

It's late.

From the end of Scylla and Charybdis, something amazing:

Kind air defined the coigns of houses in Kildare street. No birds. Frail from the housetops two plumes of smoke ascended, pluming, and in a flaw of softness softly were blown.

Cease to strive. Peace of the druid priests of Cymbeline, hierphantic: from wide earth an altar.

Laud we the gods
And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
From our bless'd altars.
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the word 'myth' is starting to not sound like itself. [Sep. 8th, 2010|11:42 pm]
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[Current Location |next to the kitchen and behind the window.]
[Current Music |the books - none but shining hours]

Today I read one article that I did not like ("Whine whine! Rushdie writing more global novels/novels that heavily involve the West in a way that isn't hugely condemning upsets me! He ought to have the same political position in everything he writes, and enough with this human/philosophy nonsense! God!") and one that I completely adored, with a great title too: Bouncing Down to the Underworld: Classical Katabasis in The Ground Beneath Her Feet. It was very long, but covered so much that I was so thrilled to see someone else was thinking about. Of course--a little intimidating. That's to say, ack. This professor whatsherface from Britainfield has done buckets of research and she reads Bahktin whose name I can't even spell right and she is a classicist of the highest order, so how could I stride with confidence across her territory?

but, soldiering on. In my creative writing I don't seem to balk at covering the same ground as, you know. Freakin' Virgil and his like. So I should not be such a cowardly wretch.

Spent the better part of the evening taking notes and rereading the first four chapters to prepare for actually writing my response. Typical. Predictably scattered notes behind the cut.

Hopefully my response will make more sense than this.Collapse )
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oh, shade off. [Sep. 5th, 2010|05:55 pm]
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[Current Location |the cottage-ship not in the catalog.]
[Current Mood |intimidatedintimidated]
[Current Music |pearl django - zingarelli]

Of all human signs, onomatopoeia represents the minimum degree of emergence from the ceaseless groaning of noise...[it] inhabits the very frontier of the synchronic order of language; it straddles the point at which the signifying imperceptibly shades off into the nonsignifying.
Murray McArthur, "Signs on a White Field": Semiotics and Forgery in the "Proteus" Chapter of Ulysses

Just to let you know, McArthur, spell check doesn't think 'synchronic' or 'nonsignifying' are words. You must be a Joyce fan. Dictionary.com defines 'synchronic':

having reference to the facts of a linguistic system as it exists at one point in time without reference to its history: synchronic analysis; synchronic dialectology.

You know it's one hell of a word when one of the example phrases uses the word 'dialectology'.

Also it's the opposite I think of 'diachronic' and I had to look that up too.


In other news, I have no idea what to write, and I've forgotten all of Latin. Whoops--sed causa patrocinio non bona maior erit. Thanks much Naso, though I knew that already. :(

I can't wait until it starts getting dark around five or six; writing's a little easier when I can't see crowds of trees outside my window getting bored with me & sun spiting these little efforts, artifices & electric ones.

need to stop absorbing ideas & start producing them.

Off to try--?
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back on this island. On the rocks, and I. [Sep. 4th, 2010|06:06 pm]
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[Current Location |the cottage-ship not in the catalog.]
[Current Music |ani difranco - rush hour]

Lamented to Amanda today that I'd forgotten how horribly hard it is to address Joyce from an academic standpoint: didn't elaborate, but she pointed out with good reason that this is my first day returning to it. Realized, though--where do I get off complaining? How else does anybody address Joyce? I've yet to meet anyone who just does the admirable thing and reads his books sans any aspirations of Literary Analysis; Joycean text's a nice big block of cheese sitting in a trap set for myself and others like me. Come and get it, guys. You totally want to generate criticism for this. No, really. There's no way I made fun of you at my typewriter before you even knew you wanted to try and follow my memory there.


Anyway, my assigned tasks so far are:

1) Write 5-page response of some kind to the first three chapters or book of Ulysses, a.k.a. J.J.'s own Telemachia
2) Write a similar 5-page response on the first hundred-odd pages of The Ground Beneath Her Feet, through the chapter 'The Invention of Music'
3) Prepare some appropriate amount of Tristia for review & refinement etc.
4) Likewise for Bacchae.

And for my own benefit I mean to:

1) Read more of Schork's Greek and Hellenic Culture in Joyce--maybe the section on Aristotle next? read the section on tragedy for kicks and wow, it sure did have some informative speculation on why Joyce was so dismissive of tragedy. Schork's quest for references is quite exhaustive, although his one or two-word phrases plucked from Finnegans Wake make me feel like a lazy bum and a poor Joyce scholar.
2) Start in on Joyce's Dislocutions because Fritz Senn is The Man.
3) Reread Portrait. Swiftly I hope.
4) Start combing Jstor & the like for articles on the Telemachia & Proteus in particular, since I think I might shine a spotlight on 'em for the sake of Stephen-Rai comparisons. Me and my yoke and my big mouth. Started doing this already and I've only looked at the titles so far (most in that oh-so-seductive formula 'Vague Phrase or Catchy Quote: An Explanation of What the Essay is About, [Subject] in [Work] or [Thing] and [Comparable Thing] Re: [Subject]') but I am intrigued.
5) Skip some stones across Morwood & remember my damn Greek grammar. What are verbs? I don't even.
6) Something similar with Kennedy & Latin.

Okay I have been boring so before blather for my own ends here is a bit of 'Proteus':

His shadow lay over the rocks as he bent, ending. Why not endless till the farthest star? Darkly they are there behind this light, darkness shining in the brightness, delta of Cassiopeia, worlds. Me sits there with his augur's rod of ash, in borrowed sandals, by day beside a livid sea, unbeheld, in violet night walking beneath a reign of uncouth stars. I throw this ended shadow from me, manshape ineluctable, call it back. Endless, would it be mine, form of my form? Who watches me here? Who ever anywhere will read these written words? (U, 48)

Yes, that'll do. ♥

Intimidated by the prospect of Writing About Joyce Ack so soon, I just took some random stupid notes rereading Telemachia before I actually got around to the assignment, which I'll likely do tomorrow. Tonight will be for Tristia if I can manage it. Now I've actually got a few commentaries, I might not struggle so much with Ovid and his slippery smirking similes. Pfffft. Notes are beneath the cut.

Without worth but never without words!Collapse )

The real problem with studying Joyce--and Rushdie for that matter--is that reading either of them makes me want to run off and write fiction and poetry and dump all this analytical expository nonsense in a ditch. Which is a credit to both of them, I hasten to add.

Time to go pick up Ulysses Annotated and lug it back down the hill. Maybe I'll have it for dessert.

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