Monday, January 30, 2012

this has nothing to do with anything



The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.


The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.

With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.


You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed's edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.


His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o'clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Initial Impression of The Waste Land

My initial impression of "The Waste Land" so far is that it is basically a hodgepodge of literary references. I know that it is a historic and renowned piece, but I am still disappointed. I liked "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" a lot, but I did not really feel a connection to this poem at all. I understand the significance of it is that T.S. Eliot is able to connect so many different pieces of literature so fluidly, however I still have not been able to really get into it. I think that I must have found "The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock" to be a lot more lyrical perhaps..

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

St. Gregor

When I was reading Metamorphosis over the weekend, I found the part where Gregor wanted to send his sister to the music conservatory to be especially touching. I actually thought I might tear up for a second. I agree with everything that we said in class about Gregor being such martyr. I believe that Gregor has saint-like qualities. He is in no way selfish as a bug, and does not appear to have been selfish as a human either. His mother even said he worked tirelessly and never went out in the nighttime. It is ironic that he was the one to be turned into a roach when the rest of his family is more spineless and despicable than he. They only seem to care about money for themselves, but Gregor cares about money because he wants to support the family that he so loves.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kafka Video

So this doesn't really have anything to do with the literature and such and it pretty much just mentions Kafka's name and a little bit about the Metamorphosis. Emily and I got a little laugh out of it, hope you all will enjoy it too.

Degas in the MFL!

I'm sitting in study hall right now, and I just wanted to let everyone know that I feel really culturally educated thanks to humanities and studying for that test today! I'm sitting on the stage on the table next to the bookshelf and I looked over and saw a book called Degas in New Orleans by Christopher Benfey. As soon as I pulled it out I was able to identify the cover as A Cotton Exchange in New Orleans. It made me feel smart, haha. Thank you humanities!


According to Wikapedia, Kafkaesque seems to just refer to something that is so complex that an individual can not comprehend it. It seems to refer to an unnecessary complexity meant only to confuse people so that they can not operate in the complexity. Since we've only read Metamorphosis, I don't really see this link in his work. Maybe there's something I'm missing?

(What would I do is SOPA and PIPA had been passed?)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How similar is this??

I loved Baudelaire's poem "To the Reader" a lot but especially because it reminded me of "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg. Don't know if yall have read it but it's the bomb. Allen Ginsberg was one of the beat poets circa middle 1950's early '60's. He wrote a lot about what was going on at the time, about the whole experience of poverty, art, jazz, homosexuality, and general cultural explosion that came from post-WWII life. The beats remind me a hell of a lot of the american ex patriot movement we learned about with Beckman with Hemingway, the Fitzgerald, and rampant prohibition. Anyways Howl is one of Ginsberg's most famous and maybe most infamous poems; it was controversial, it was raw, it offended censures etc. I have a special place in my heart for Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, I read them when I was a sophomore and the two of them completely rocked my way of thinking about writing.

Howl (for Carl Solomon) begins:

"I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, staving hysterical naked,/
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,/
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,/
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,/
who barred their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,/
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,/
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,/
"who coughed on the sixth floor of Harlem crowned with flame under the tubercular sky surrounded by orange crates of theology/..."
well the word/image combinations in this work just in some small ways reminded me of Baudelaire for instance "gangs of demons boozing on the brain" just reminded me insanely of Ginsberg's description of Moloch and maybe just the emotions of that line, maybe just the way it captures in a way the author's experience trying to make something real and meaningful out of these mingling feelings of despair and frustration. Big difference however: Ginsberg's poem ends with a powerful feeling of hope beyond hope - the footnote to Howl basically declares everything is holy, despite all that he's witnessed. Baudelaire's poem doesn't really end on such a resilient note.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Realism is a very interesting movement in literature and art. I think that realism's boundaries are pretty well described for painters and other artists, as their portraits are almost like photographs of the scene that is being replicated. Photographs themselves are usually almost the exact same as their subjects.
But, literature is a completely different story. I don't think that a writer can ever be perfectly objective. In theory, realism sounds like a logical step after romanticism. They tried to accurately produce their world in front of their eyes, but isn't the world different through everyone's eyes. I mean even two people standing side-by-side will tend to pick up on different things that they see. I just don't think that realism can every be truly real. Anyways, I like impressionism much better, since the artists agree that it is simply an impression.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kafka & Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In the introductory material for Metamorphosis, it is written that Kafka apparently influenced other writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. My first reaction: "No way! Marquez writing doesn't have an ounce of realism in it at all. It's way too fantastic." However as soon as I began to read Metamorphosis, I saw the similarities. Both writers compose stories that are surreal. They entail fantastic events while maintaining a feeling of reality. All of the characters act so nonchalant towards the unreal events that unfold in their lives. I actually quite like the writing style and so far Metamorphosis has been an interesting read.

What's our Legacy?

We talked about this briefly at the beginning of class yesterday, so I thought it would be interesting to blog about.

As we were viewing the everyday moments captured by early photography, I began to wonder about the everyday moments that we capture on Facebook. Imagine Facebook falling out of use in the future or even if it does not. What will people in the future see? What will they think? More than ever there is an accurate account, to the most part, of every slice of society. As Sara or Meredith, I can't remember who, asked, will Facebook be read in history class?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baudelaire on Photography

As I was reading Fleming, I was a bit surprised to learn that Baudelaire was a big critic on photography. Apparently Baudelaire did not see photography as art since it was focused on "optical reality." I thought that as a artist himself (I consider poetry an art) Baudelaire would understand the artistic beauty in photography. However the idea of photography as art is still a topic that many people struggle with today. With more thought, I am not surprised with Baudelaire's reaction. Photography was a new invention and it only took a split second to capture the image. It makes sense that Baudelaire, as a poet obsessed with absolute world control and mastery of craftsmanship, would argue that photography was crude.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miss Julie

In March, I'll be in a school play called Miss Julie. I recently had the chance to read through some of the script and it reminded me immediately of Madame Bovary and even What is to be Done? The main character (Miss Julie) is upper-class. However, like Madame Bovary, she is not happy with her life. She rebels against her family and husband (or in Miss Julie's case, fiance) and throws away all discretion, getting her into a lot of trouble. Let's just say their end results are very similar....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Charles Baudelaire and Edgar Allan Poe

Reading Baudelaire's poetry after reading the head notes, I definitely felt that Poe and Baudelaire had many similarities. As the head notes point out, they both have this beautiful fascination with death and decay. However, judging from the works of Poe that we've read over the years, such as The Fall of the House of Usher and The Cask of Amontillado, I think that Poe had a more grim outlook and more developed fascination with evil. On the other hand, I may be making a false comparison, since with more thought (as I am writing this blog) I think the head notes really meant a comparison on the two authors solely in poetry. For example, Poe's poem "The Bells" shows the procession of life to death much like Baudelaire's "Spleen LXXVIII." Does Baudelaire's poetry remind you of any other poets we've read?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Baudelaire + Rimbaud = THE SHIT

They are madmen. These men bend words in ways I never thought was possible. I don't want to speculate about what the poems meant, about themes or w/e. I don't go to muesums to analyze brushstrokes for hidden meanings; I go because the colors are pretty. That's me, and you might disagree, but I just wanted to let you know I don't have a point writing this (other than "I thought these poems were beautiful.").

I loved the language in "Drunken Boat" and in "The Bridges" espeically. I don't know where to begin so I'm going to focus on this particular stanza: "Sweeter than sourest apple-flesh to children,/Green water seeped into my pine-wood hull/And washed away blue wine stains, vomitings,/Scattering rudder, anchor, man's lost rule..." That first line stuck with me, I'm not sure why but I keep comming back to it; the sensory details really sell it for me. I think the reason I like Rimbaud so much is his passionate language and the way he turns emotions into unexpected images. I like that nothing in these lines is expected. Every one of his words is powerful and I think this strong control of words shows that he's a very tallented, very ballsy poet. I love the way he uses a series of objects to set a mood and create an image; like blue-wine stains, vomitings...rudder, anchor, man's lost rule. I'm not saying he only does this in these 4 lines but I'm only writing about these 4 lines at the momment. I love the "sourest apple-flesh" the "green water" and "the blue wine stains" I think that when he uses colors and adjectives it's effective; I mean I think ever word is powerful...
Ok one thing: I love when people uses lists of images. For example, in one poem Paublo Neruda opens with the line "Hot moon, fleshy apple, full woman" and that's just the bomb; it's direct, it's subtle, it wastes no line-space. Neruda uses lists like this quite a bit in his work.
Baudelaire also uses unexpected language in the excerpts from "Paris Spleen." I love music of his work which comes through even in translation, for instance, "Where only the Boucher girls in pale pastels/Can breathe the uncorked scents and faded smells." His stuff is beautiful; I love the line "Slowly the land is rolled/Sleepward under a sea of gentle fire."

series of unfortunate events

ok - weird story; so I've had kids-book nostalgia on my mind again after reading Baudelaire. I don't know if it's this weird end-of-childhood feeling I've had all week or what but I keep coming back to this conversation I had after this workshop I ended up in a few weeks ago. Basically then I think that the base of all cultural literacy I have (which isn't all that much) comes from stuff I read when I was a kid: JK Rowling, Jack Perlutzky, and Lemony Snicket stuff. It's funny though because looking back on Series of Unfortunate Event especially with what we've been reading this week, I'm like damn, this stuff was totally refrenced over and over in a book I read when I was seven. I mean I'm not about to dig up and re-read these book again but from what I remember, I know that for sure T.S. Elliot, Dante, Baudelaire, Edgar Allen Poe, the history of the Catholic church, people and events from history, The Old Testiment, Robinson Crusoe and probably other stuff too as far as I know were refrenced and playe a role in these books. I mean I kind of think it's funny that one of those book titles ("wide window") totally comes from one of my favorite poems by T.S. Elliot, I can never remember which but I'm pretty sure it' one of those really religous ones (might be one about the stairway to heaven with the man-eating purgatory-leopards.) Reading the poems (and don't get me wrong they are beautiful, beautiful poems) from Baudelaire's Pairs Spleen totally reminded of these books haha.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Madame Bovary

I thought that Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary was a very interesting one. The story seemed like one that could have been written way back during Euripides or Virgil's time. The main character, a female, commits adultery many times and eventually dies a horrific death. There is a moral aspect which is supposed to teach us the adverse effects of adultery, which was a much bigger deal many years ago. Women were killed for disobeying and decieving their husbands. I coul be wrong, but I though the novel was somewhat uncharacteristic to the other works of the time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

For Julia, In Deep Water

I'm sure Ms. King wouldn't like us discussing the poem on the blog without talking about it first in class (but maybe she will). So,

I interpreted the poem to mean a child, presumably Julia, struggling to swim with her swim instructor. Her parents are watching from the deep end and are waiting for Julia to come to them.  Because "only your mother is drowning," I pictured that the mother was crying or in pain while watching the child fight through the water. Obviously, the water represents life and it is supposed to be extremely difficult. To portray life as menacing, Morris uses words like wasting, darker, hopeless, and screaming. The child is maturing in the last stanza and the parents finally have to let go. I guess it is a poem about the difficulties of life and parenthood plus how hard it is to allow your child to grow up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Gaze

I thought that UMan's avoidance of people's eyes reminded me a lot about Jacques Lacan's theory about the "Gaze". Lacan basically says that the feeling of people staring at you, makes you self-conscious enough to stop or change what you're doing. UMan seems to permanently have a "Gaze" on him. He is constantly paranoid that others are judging him. Sounds like the symptoms of the "Gaze" to me.

we dont need no education

UMan is totally "Pink" from the wall.
- Both have just been rejected by the "love object" woman that neighter can really reach out to anymore
- Both feel completly isolated
- Both try to find connections with the ouside world but can't
- Both had bad experiences with school/were lonley as kids
- Both are self distructive
- Both lost one or both of their parents and/or lacked a father figure
- Both have built/are trapped behind the wall (UM's underground is his wall: the wall is the final seperation from "real life" that is built brick by symbolic brick with decicions and events that thrust him deeper into the underground, so for UMan, the underground is kind of the place behind the wall and he cant get out)

I was going to post a video but if you're not watching it from the beginning... it's a little diffrent than most movies; it's a psycological portrait of a man's decent into madness. I mean the main character's going insaine so he starts to hillucinate a little bit (for instance he becomes a combinaiton of hitler and stalin and later he shaves off his eyebrows) plus the actual wall only exists as a metaphor of his mind/madness. It's a great cool movie and a great album.

UMan = Holden Caulfield

I think that the title explains my thoughts well enough, but just in case it doesn't, I think that UMan and Holden Caulfield from J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye share some common traits. They're both obviously "different" human beings. They are reclusive, pensive, and solitary. They both philosophize and over-think situations. They share a search for fulfilling human connection. Of course they're different as well. Holden is not quite as paranoid. He's also wittier, and a little more sociable. He is clearly capable of love to as that is demonstrated through his relationship with his younger sister. He represents an angsty lost teenager more than UMan ever could. UMan is too neurotic and obsessive. Anyone else see it?

What characteristic of UMan do you possess?

UMan's flaws represent common idiosyncrasies within much of humanity. Given all of his quirks, I am certain that  everyone can identify with at least one of them. Embarrassingly enough, the choice was a hard one for me. I'm stuck between obsessive and paranoid. I'm obsessive because I find myself acting "OCD" and not being able to move on from things that aren't perfect, therefore holding up lots of other projects. I'm paranoid because I'm constantly worried about something, I often over think situations, and I am even guilty of reading too much into a conversation or event.

What UMan trait do you identify with?
ok - I need to post this week because I always end up putting it off then remembering at like 11:40 on saturday... so here goes

Notes from the Underground Playlist:
1) Modern Love - David Bowie ("Don't belive in modern love"/"Never gonna fall for modern love/stands beside me (modern love)/walks on by..." and it goes on; its a seriously up-beat song that talks about secularism and modern isolation from God and man and love etc. plus it's Bowie... and Bowie rules.)
2) The New Underground - Guster
3) Jolene - Ray LaMontagne (really beautiful song about a guy in a tough place in his life, beat up and lying in a ditch, trying to find something to hold on to/dealing w/ emotions about a girl, chorus = "Still don't know what love means")
4) Money - Pink Floyd (UMan wants to reject the ideal of wealth and power in someways I think but cant reject it really, and still probably wants it... Money is a problem for UM)
5) Where is My Mind? - Pixies
6) Outsider - The Ramones
7) Conquest - The White Stripes (because UMan keeps telling himself he likes to conqure people)
8) Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
9) I Predict a Riot - Kaiser Cheifs (Uman's world is pretty scary; he lives in poverty, he can't speak his mind w/o being hauled to Siberia and since '48 there's been revolutions all around him + on his own soil with the decembrist revolt and murder of the Tzar liberator... also I don't think UMan really likes the madness of his world and would like not to have to deal with it so BAM this song works)
10) Drain You - Nirvana (has UMan's outlook on love (at least outlook he tells himself to belive) kind of nailed)
11) I am a Rock - Simon & Garfunkle (this could be UMan's themesong)
11) Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd (UMan = syd barret in a lot of ways - Syd is the former member of Pink Floyd that "The Wall" was based on)
12)Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles ("all the lonley people/where do they all come from?")
13) Hey You - Pink Floyd (UMan= pink, the fictionalized syd barrett and character in "The Wall")
14) Creep - Radiohead (could also be UMan's themesong)

well that's all I have.
feel free to add

Monday, January 9, 2012

Underground Man as Scrooge

Today, while re-reading the passage about Underground Man's childhood, all I could think about was Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. They were both sent off to boarding schools at a relatively young age with relatives that just didn't seem to care. They also both didn't really have friends while at school. I think it is really interesting that people, or characters as a reflection of real people, tend to be so severely impacted by their childhood and school experiences.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Whatta Creeeeep

Does anyone else feel as though Underground Man has the qualities of a serial killer. The way he stalks the soldier for years is obsessive and unhealthy. In fact, obsessive is a very good way to describe UMan. He obsesses over little occurrences in his everyday life imagining revenge until he drives himself crazy. He is definitely "sick" as he said in the beginning, but I'm not sure it's a liver problem....

Underground Man = Grendel

I mentioned this in class, but I think that the simularitiea between Grendel and Underground Man are uncanny. They both are solitary characters, yet ache for connections that they can't seem to find in the outside world. They are very psychological characters. Most of their respective books are written largely in their thoughts. They both find themselves unique and separate from the rest of humanity in some way. They're also both kind of depressed and full of despair. This is midyll because they feel confused and unable to relate to anybody.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


"At any rate a certain awkwardness can be observed each time he approaches the achievement of similar goals. He loves the process, but he's not so fond of the achievement, and that, of course is terribly amusing."

This quote from Notes from Underground basically describes how I feel about all of my art projects. I enjoy making them, but then I always hate how my pieces turn out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I found a list of over 200 different -isms.

For example:
utilitarianism - belief that utility of actions determines moral value
realism - doctrine that objects of cognition are real
naturalism - belief that the world can be explained in terms of natural force

It is definitely a useful website to keep on tabs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Notes from Underground meets an awesome 20th centry book

I'm only a little ways into Notes from the Underground but I'm really into it so far. One of my favorite books, the first book I ever read by Jack Kerouac, The Subterraneans, draws quite a bit on Notes which I didn't realize until now. The Subterraneans, besides drawing from just Notes' title, opens in much the same way and has a lot little of stylistic similarities. Keroauc's book begins "Once I was young and had so much more orientation and could talk with nervous intelligence about everything and with clarity and without as much literary preambling as this; in other words this is the story of an unself-confident man, at the same time of an egomaniac, naturally, facetious won't do- just to start at the beginning and let the truth seep out, that's what I'll do-. It began on a warm summernight- ah, she was sitting on a fender with Julien Alexander who is... let me begin with the history of the subterraneans of San Francisco." In this book the narrator Leo eventually looses love but gains a book, this book, about it and slinks home to his mother, lonely. It's a beautiful book; it got me hooked on Kerauac and I started reading his books like they were a series detective novels. This is a little more story-focused than Notes, I've only gotten a little ways into it but so far Notes seems more character-focused. The Subterraneans are a group of hipsters that basically make up a big part of the Frisco-scene for Leo in the book and the group of writers and artists he associates with; they're mad for jazz and kicks and love etc - Mardou is one of the Subterraneans, which is more or less a playful term.

The contradictions, the little ellipses, the dashes, and the quick running thoughts all seem similar to me in the bit of Notes I've read and then The Subterraneans. Also Leo, like the Underground Man, is a bit lovably neurotic at times; both are self-conscious books which makes the narrative voice really interesting and strong. Underground Man keeps mentioning the reader collectively and anticipating the reactions of the reader, the "gentlemen." Leo agonizes over what he's revealing; its a confessional, he confronts painful memories of loosing love as objectively as he can by writing the book which weirdly is similar to the pleasure Underground Man gets from refusing to have his liver checked out for instance. Leo and Underground Man also suffer lack of money, tendencies to self-destruction, and their own neurotic-ness. Leo drinks and Underground Man thinks man is drawn to destructive things and is himself pretty disillusioned.

This is dull but its what my circa '81 Kerouac copy has to say about Dostoevsky: "Kerouac's most immediate source, however, as evidenced by the title, was D.'s Notes from the Underground, which propounded the idea that in our overly intellectual era, man can no longer face the reality without first shielding himself with numerous impenetrable layers of fantasy and dream. The role of the novelist, then, as D. saw it, was to unpeel this modern madness layer by layer though a continual forced confrontation with the most feared and forbidden - or as we say nowadays "repressed" - aspects of human personality. In this approach, D. was a precursor of Freud."

Leo looks for reality in dreams but those dreams ironically destroy the reality of his relationship with Mardou and Underground Man definitely wonders about free will and says that if man reaches the epitome of reason (blending reality with an imaginative, symbolic outcome), people will rebel against 2+2 until it's 5 and loveless logic is subverted so people can have feelings and imaginations and fantasies again... anyway Underground Man wonders a lot about free will until you wonder how free he is because he's finally rebelling against himself, causing himself pain for no reason except because he seems to prefer pain to numbness.