Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Breakfast Club" never gets old

So I know the deadline for blog posts is technically over, but I have to save this article somehow. I love John Hughes. And I love that so many people tell Ally Sheedy that they were Alison in high school. I was too. Too much eyeliner, antisocial habits and all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Books books, blah blah blah

Sorry about the sudden outpouring of blog posts. Most of these are all posts I'd written a while ago and saved as drafts. Must stop procrastinating...

Anyway, we mentioned Thomas Hardy last class period, and it totally reminded me of first reading "Tess of the D'urbervilles". It was one of those books that totally floored me. I think I was 16 or 17 when I read it. Anyway, in honor of Thomas Hardy, here's a list of books that I believe have either deeply affected me or have led to my development as the twisted, backwards creature I am today ;P
Besides, we're all book lovers here, right? Hopefully this won't be too dull then.

1-"The Lorax"by Dr. Seuss. I think I read it in 2nd grade. I was floored that a children's book could be so... bleak. It's made me kind of a tree hugger/mistruster of consumerism ever since.

2-"Where the Wild Things Are"/"In The Night Kitchen"/"Peter Rabbit" and anything by Beatrix Potter-- I think I came out of the womb reading these books. I've always loved children's literature because of them. I also loved that Sendak was never imposingly moral in any of his books. Kids hate that anyway. Anything by Roald Dahl (especially "Matilda") falls into this category as well.

3-"The Giver"- I read this in 6th grade and was very, very bothered. I couldn't believe that a dystopian society like this could even be imagined. I think this book started my love for books like "The Handmaid's Tale" ,"1984" and "The Stepford Wives" as well as this suspicion of overly cheery authority figures... I dislike politicians...

4- "To Kill a Mockingbird"- Read in 5th grade I think. The first "grown-up" book I read. I was touched and traumatized by how beautiful and sad this book was. I also learned that rape, racism and just plain vindictiveness were real things. (5th grade was a weird year...) It also made me see how important and powerful love was, pure and simple. I think this might have been the first book that made me cry.

5- "Dracula"/"The Portrait of Dorian Grey"/"Jane Eyre"/"Wuthering Heights" -- I think I read these all in 9th or 10th grade. I loved them immediately. This was when I first discovered that I was a romanticist at heart. I think these books, oddly enough, got me to loosen up a bit and really enjoy life for the first time in several years. There was something strange and adventurous about them that acted as a sort of epiphany for me; like I suddenly realized that I could find happiness in strange things, if that makes sense. I don't know why I suddenly felt that way, but I did. It was a good year.

6- "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"- I watched the movie first, but hey, plays are meant to be watched anyway. I had never been so heartbroken by any characters before this. Especially Maggie. Oh, Maggie. I still get all

7- "Hamlet"-- I read this my senior year in high school and I ate it up. The drama! The murderous villain Claudio! The wickedly witty Prince Hamlet! The crazy, heart-broken Ophelia! I swear, this is Shakespeare's most entertaining play. I still can't get enough of it.

8- "Tess of the D'urbervilles"/"Jude the Obscure"-- My 12th grade English teacher recommended these to me. Ugh, I was so upset by all of the injustices, I actually threw "Tess" across the room. "Jude" I had to stop reading and go for a nice walk to calm myself down-- that one was more disturbing than infuriating.

9- "The Catcher in the Rye"/"Franny and Zooey"/"A Perfect Day for Bananafish"-- I'd never been interested in Salinger until I was 18. It was a lonely Saturday night, I was hating my freshman year at BYU and didn't want to be around anybody. I picked up "Catcher" at the bookstore on a whim. five or six pages into it and I was in love. I think I'm always going to be a little bit in love.

There are about a million more... I'll have to continue this another day... when all of our blog posts aren't due...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fantastic C.S. Lewis quotes

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become."

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."

"The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not."

"What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard."

More about that whiney jerk named Holden...

Here's a video of this guy discussing "Catcher". I know this book has been beaten to the ground as far as discussions go, but I think he (whoever he is -- some nerdy vlogger) does it more effectively than most people I've heard. It's in two parts. If you like it, you can search for the other part on youtube. I don't think I'm ever going to get over this book. Or Holden. I hope it never becomes a movie.

Life Story

I love this poem so much, I can't keep it to myself:

"Life Story"


After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

Thoughts About "Night"

Reading "Night" was... an experience. I tried reading it between my classes, but I always had to stop as I'd start crying. I had to wonder, what kind of a person would I be like in this horrid world? Eliezer was so kind and patient with his father... at least, up until the end when he does nothing to prevent that guard from beating him in the head. I can hardly blame Eliezer for anything... but what would I have done? Everything inside of me screams that I would clearly have attacked the guard, or anyone else that moved to hurt someone I care about... but would I really? Unless you were actually there, it's hard to say. It's pretty naive to assume that your most heroic side would come out in such a hellish place. But I still wonder.

And what about that poor old man that was killed by the other ravenous victims? All because they wanted his bread ration. Would I have been one of them? Driven stupid and desperate by hunger? I have to say, though, I'm proud of Eliezer for not joining in on that.

And what about all of those poems we read about Peter? Would I have denied Christ? I'd like to think never in a million years... but like I said before, how could one really know? And of course he chose to deny Christ, what with free agency and all... but he was warned about it beforehand...? I've always struggled with this concept. This and the Adam and Eve thing. They had to eat the fruit to leave the garden, yet it was technically a sin...? But it was a wonderful choice as they could now experience joy and have children...

Ack. I almost hope I never have to be faced with a situation like that. Of course, I'm sure life only gets harder and more complicated (and more competitive in my line of work. :/) as time goes on...

Do thoughts like this ever plague anyone else?

Were you sad when Beth died in "Little Women"? I was :(

So, today in my ENG 336 class, we were discussing "The Things They Carried" (a very good, but very sad sorta-memoir about Vietnam) and our professor asked the question, "How does writing serve as an escape?" It's a pretty straightforward question, one that makes me think of that "We read to know we are not alone"-type English major sentiment...
I read and write (very shoddily) as a form of therapy-- I invent other people and give them problems that they usually solve in one way or another. Sometimes it helps me solve my own issues, sometimes not. Either way, it's comforting somehow, to feel like I have control.

However, we went on to discuss how writing about horrible, violent, or otherwise tragic events is another form of coping. In "The Things They Carried", the protagonist is never responsible for actually killing any innocent victims. Yet, he goes through great pains to show that he didn't do anything to prevent some from being killed. In this way, he argues, he is now a killer. He makes the scene more awful than it actually was, to live with this weird guilt. So when his daughter asks him honestly if he ever killed anyone, he says he can honestly answer both "yes" and "no".

How complex is that?

It makes me think of something read about Stephen King's "Salem's Lot". In the book, there's a scene where this little boy wanders onto a busy road and gets killed by an oncoming truck. :( In real life, Stephen King had a similar encounter with his own son, but he was able to pull him out of the way the last second. Apparently, he was so disturbed my his son's almost-death that he had to write about the worst possible outcome of the event to get over it.

This seems morbid... but maybe this is why Thomas Hardy wrote the tragic things he wrote. Or why Poe wrote what he wrote, or why Shakespeare wrote things like "Othello" or "King Lear".

I feel like a majority of the best books I read are all... sad. I mean, there's always "Little Women" or "Twelfth Night" or whatever (then again, Beth dies. Who wasn't traumatized by that at age 10???) ... but really. I guess that's what makes them so beautiful too.

Why is that? Why is tragedy so memorable and beautiful?