Monday, May 4, 2009

what will stay

I'm not sure where I'll be in fifteen years.  At this point, I'm not even sure where I'll be in four years.  But I will definitely always remember the e.e. cummings poems.  I loved "the boys i mean are not refined" even initially, and I loved how the class discussions and blog posts completely changed my impression of the poem's 'deeper meaning.'  The layers of meaning in the poem worked really well, and, weirdly enough, I loved having my initial impression shaken up like that.  And even though I preferred it at first to "next to god of course, america," I came away from the class liking the second one more.  I found it really pertinent to this day and age and political climate, even though it was written in (I think) 1926.  I guess it will always have some social resonance in (next to god of course,) America, whether fifteen or a hundred years from now.  When watching the news (and war coverage) recently, I couldn't help but think of cummings' words: "what could be more beaut/iful than these heroic happy dead/who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter."  I doubt this image will ever leave my mind.  

And Lolita.  I actually just submitted it as my contribution for a summer reading list we had to compile for a class.  I've rambled about the loveliness of Nabokov's language, and how beautifully he presented something so horrifying, and how horrifyingly he presented something so beautiful.  I liked it beyond the aesthetic quality of the language, though, because it challenges and provokes the reader to consider, like Sharee said, what is and isn't okay.  I'll always remember and love Lolita for the "love letter to the English language' that it is.  As with the cummings poems, I am often reminded of little fragments of sentences out of nowhere, and it makes real life a little prettier.

Poems and books are easy, though, because they are little strings of words that get stuck in your head easily, and you pull them out sometimes when it feels like the right time.  The more complex, varied forms of literature that we studied this semester will stay with me as well.  I was pretty strongly affected by The Wire - reminded that there is a Game.  I may not see every day, I may not be directly immersed in it, but it exists and we all have the power to do something about it.  Awareness of this world is a good start - I love how The Wire didn't gloss over anything or use wind machines or overzealous airbrushers in its advertisements, (though I wish it'd been more accessible/on a more-viewed network/basically not on HBO.)  It's a show about real life, and it portrays Baltimore in a real-life way.  In real life, no one is all 'good guy' or all 'bad guy' and The Wire really makes a point to emphasize this duality in every character.  I really hope that in fifteen years, this show still speaks to me and that I still feel compelled to help.  I'm not exactly sure how, but I don't ever want to be the kind of person that pretends that The Game doesn't exist, that people like Wallace don't exist.

Lastly, as much as I don't want to admit it, Eagleton's Literary Theory will remain in my head for a long time, even if just subconsciously.  When I'm reading, my mind can't help but play around with the different theories.  I'll catch myself sometimes being extra-Deconstructionist, or even sometimes too Reader-Response.  I've referenced these concepts in lit classes when people have argued about the 'real meaning' of texts.  I hated reading Eagleton because I found it dry and pretentious, but, I mean, he presents valid ideas that are worth knowing... it's just that the acquisition of said knowledge can sometimes be painful.  When reading, I also remember Nabokov's essay on "Good Readers, Good Writers" and sometimes even ask myself if the metaphorical berries are edible because berries usually are, or because the author has created a world to make me believe this.  Even if a book is enjoyable, the answer is not always the second one.

I was surprised by a few of these (Eagleton? really?) but then again, not really.  At the beginning of the semester, once I saw that the reading list would demand much more than just 'reading,' I realized that I had to shed my preconceived opinions of a lot of these texts and keep my mind completely open to even what I considered the shittiest assignments ever.  That resolution has served me well - I actually disliked some things I expected to love (Funny Games) and found a lot of value in those which I hated from the beginning (yes, Eagleton, The Wire.)  And I don't plan on stopping this 'suspension of judgment' after the class is over :]

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