Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ursula Le Guin: Part III

I believe I said that there was a book by Ursula Le Guin I had to find and read at some point. It would appear I was mistaken.

There were two. And one of them finally gave me a name for a collection of Tolkien's literary criticism, which I've found surprisingly hard to find...

From Cheek by Jowl:

-"The mandarins of modernism and some of the pundits of postmodernism were shocked to be told that a fantasy trilogy by a professor of philology is the best-loved English novel of the twentieth century."
-"To throw a book out of serious consideration because it was written for children, or because it is read by children, is in fact a monstrous act of anti-intellectualism. But it happens daily in academia."
-"What fantasy often does that the realistic novel generally cannot do is include the nonhuman as essential."
-"What reality may be, what really happened, we cannot tell; what we can tell is the story, the infinitely flexible, wonderfully rearrangeable, extremely useful story. With it we remake reality."

And from The Language of the Night:

-"I think we have a terrible thing here: a hardworking, upright, responsible citizen, a full-grown, educated person, who is afraid of dragons, and afraid of hobbits, and scared to death of fairies. It's funny, but it's also terrible."
-"Some people can talk on the telephone. They must really believe in the thing. For me the telephone is for making appointments with the doctor with and canceling appointments with the dentist with. It is not a medium of human communication. I can't stand there in the hall with the child and the cat both circling around my legs frisking and purring and demanding cookies and catfood, and explain to a disembodied voice in my ear that the Jungian spectrum of introvert/extrovert can usefully be applied not only to human beings but also to authors. That is, there are some authors who want and need to tell about themselves, you know, like Norman Mailer, and there are others who want and need privacy. Privacy!"
-"The way of art, after all, i neither to cut adrift from the emotions, the senses, the body, etc., and to sail off into the void of pure meaning, nor to blind the mind's eye and wallow in irrational, amoral meaninglessness--but to keep open the tenuous, difficult, essential connections between the two extremes."
-"I invite you to meditate on a pair of sisters. Emily and Charlotte. Their life experience was an isolated vicarage in a small, dreary English village, a couple of bad years at a girls' school, another year or two in Brussels, which is surely the dullest city in all of Europe, and a lot of housework. Out of that seething mass of raw, vital, brutal, gutsy Experience they made two of the greatest novels ever written: Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights."
-"You may have gathered from all this that I am not encouraging people to try to be writers. Well, I can't. You hate to see a nice young person run up to the edge of a cliff and jump off, you know. On the other hand, it is awfully nice to know that some other people are just as nutty and just as determined to jump off the cliff as you are. You just hope they realize what they're in for."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quotation Time with Ursula Le Guin: Part II

So, in case it's not apparent at this point, I really like Ursula Le Guin. And she's intelligent. And verbose. And a badass.

Also, the library apparently has a copy of another book on writing by her which I have not read so... there may be another set of Ursula Le Guin quotes popping up later. Fair warning.

Anyway, more quotes (again from The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination):

-"Children have a seemingly innate passion for justice; they don't have to be taught it. They have to have it beaten out of them, in fact, to end up as properly prejudiced adults."
-"Women have a particular stake in keeping the oral functions of literature alive, since misogyny wants women to be silent, and misogynist critics and academics do not want to hear the woman's voice in literature, in any sense of the word."
-"It is curious that evidence for what looks like an aesthetic sense--a desire for objects because they are perceived as desirable in themselves, a willingness to expend real energy acquiring something that has no practical end at all--seems to turn up only among us [humans], some lowly little rodents, and some rowdy birds."
-"In America the imagination is generally looked on as something that might be useful when the TV is out of order. Poetry and plays have no relation to practical problems."
-"To me the important thing is not to offer any specific hope of betterment [in stories] but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader's mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live."
-"These days, no writer can legitimately claim either ignorance or innocence as a defense of prejudice or bigotry in their writing."
-"A dangerous book will always be in danger from those it threatens with the demand that they question their assumptions. They'd rather hang on to the assumptions and ban the book."
-"All human beings are liars; that is true; you must believe me."

Friday, July 25, 2014

Reflections on the Writings of Academics

Mostly, this has been prompted by the fact that I'm reading a number of philosophers, along with several authors/literary critics. Some, such as Umberto Eco, are both. I thought it would be fun to take some of the academic language and change it into more colloquial phrasing, trying as best I can to preserve nuances. Now, since this has been for research regarding the ethical implications and ethical assessment of art, the variety in subject matters is going to be a little low.
Anyway, without further ado:


Umberto Eco: "many modern theories are unable to recognize that symbols are paradigmatically, that is, textually, open only to the indefinite, but by no means infinite, interpretations allowed by the context."

Translation: "modern theories of literature ignore the fact that, while a given written work can say multiple different things, it can't say anything."




Richard W. Miller: "there is always a possible rational dissenter from our moral judgment who would disagree in response to our evidence, indeed all the evidence that there might be."

Translation: "There will always be someone who can disagree with any moral claim you want to make, and be justified in doing so."




Noel Carroll: "inasmuch as the autonomist argues that art is essentially independent of morality and politics, the autonomist goes on to contend that aesthetic value is independent of the sorts of consequentialist considerations that Plato and his followers raise."

Translation: "in arguing that art exists only for its own sake and isn't tied to morality/politics, people seek to avoid arguments (such as those by Plato) that art which causes dangerous effects should be banned/restricted."




And, my personal favorite in this:

Pierre Bourdieu: "all religious theologies and all political theocracies have taken advantage of the fact that the generative capacities of language can surpass the limits of intuition or empirical verification and produce statements that are formally impeccable but semantically empty."

Translation: "Religious and political organizations like to say things which, while grammatically correct and coherent, mean fuck all."


Patrick

Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Quotation Times!!! (Ursula Le Guin Edition)

Now, in quoting Ursula Le Guin (from a variety of essays compiled in The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination), I'm running into a problem I didn't have with Margaret Atwood. Namely, that any attempt I make to quote Ursula Le Guin takes her words out of context, and they're inevitably better in context. But, I'm going to do it anyway, because much like a internet picture of the Mona Lisa isn't the Mona Lisa, but is respectable nonetheless, so it is with these quotes. So:

-"Maybe the people who rope themselves together and the huge heavy things resent such adaptable and uncertain footing because it makes them feel insecure. Maybe they fear they might be sucked in and swallowed. But I am not interested in sucking and am not hungry. I am just mud. I yield. I do try to oblige. And so when the people and the huge heavy things walk away they are not changed, except their feet are muddy, but I am changed. I am still here and still mud, but all full of footprints and deep, deep holes and tracks and traces and changes. I have been changed. You change me. Do not take me for granite."
-"I run into the moral problem we storytellers share with you anthropologists: the exploitation of real people. People should not use other people."
-"We [as children] had to be allowed to go into the Adult Side [of the library]. That was hard for the librarians. They felt they were hurling us little kids into a room full of sex, death, and weird grown-ups like Heathcliff and the Joads; and in fact, they were. We were intensely grateful."
-"Coming from another world, they take yours from you, changing it, draining it, shrinking it into a property, a commodity. And as your world is meaningless to them until they change it into theirs, so as you live among them and adopt their meanings, you are in danger of losing your own meaning to yourself."
-"My fantasies explore the use of power as art and its misuse as domination; they play back and forth along the mysterious frontier between what we think is real and what we think is imaginary, exploring the borderlands."
-"Fiction as we currently think of it, the novel and short story as they have existed since the eighteenth century, offers one of the very best means of understanding people different from oneself, short of experience."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Projects Discussed

As part of my assignments this summer, I've been tasked with mashing together video clips of a number of Writing Center consultants saying why they love the writing center. For example, mine can be found below:

video

In my personal opinion, I sound really weird. And I feel like I have an accent in this video that I'm not sure if I normally have or not...

What I've noticed in compiling these videos is that a vast chunk of us don't say much of anything related to actually conferencing. Generally, we talk about the Writing Center community: as friends, family, or just a good place to be. With some mentions of coffee, which are far more sparse than I thought they'd be.

Sparser. Should probably use correct grammar. Wouldn't want Weird Al to become cross with me.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Garden Update

Hey all,

     Gardens, unlike bloggers, never take breaks from creating new content. Here's a few updates on the garden since Patrick or I last wrote. It's still there even though Dr. Bob officially retired. Dr. Bob, at the moment, is teaching at Coe's Wilderness Field Station.
     Penstemon Husker Red was in bloom in late June. Now, its flowers have turned into attractive, waxy red seed pods.

     Not sure the name of the plant, but it attracted this butterfly who didn't mind a photoshoot.


     This shot is from the bed immediately behind the house. 


     This bed is to your right, as you leave the house. Recently, Dr. Bob endorsed it as "one of the better-looking parts of the garden."


     Felicia and I planted two beds near the back gate. We planted Russian Sage, lilies, bee's balm, bachelor's buttons, balloon plants, and a few other things. This bed and its opposite, at the start of summer, were the most chaotic but now that we've tilled, replanted, and re-mulched parts of them, they look more ordered, for now.

     -Peter

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Deep Clean

     On Monday, June 23, the summer WC crew, 5 brave students, gathered to clean our space. We knew not what we would uncover, but uncover we did.
     Here's some of the finds.


We ended up with a lot of things from the cafe. 19 cups (plus a red one from the pub), two mugs, and a few tongs from catering. We took it all back, don't worry.


Another kitchen find: look at all these plates! We have so many plates. This is just one set of plates we have. Patrick and I (Peter) took everything out of the cupboards and cleaned them well.



While Felicia and Nicole were moving furniture and vacuuming the main room. We heard a lot of crunches and tings as the vacuum picked up who knows what.



We have a lot of chairs! Look at them! This isn't even all the chairs we have. One question we had while cleaning: Where did all these chairs come from? Another question: Where do they all go?

One thing is certain: the Writing Center smells cleaner now and looks a lot cleaner. Until next time, 
Peter