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."


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:


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.


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, 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Advantages of Summers in Cedar Rapids

Namely, the ability to visit Iowa City once in a while. Well, not so much Iowa City as Prairie Lights and The Haunted Bookshop. Because books.
In particular, I made a point of picking up a copy of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I already have a copy, but it's an eBook. I thought I'd save money that way. I had forgotten to factor in the fact that trying to read Infinite Jest on an eBook is a horrible life choice because it's so ridiculously dense. I also happened upon a copy of Doctor Faustus. Which, as I am looking the book up on Goodreads to link, I have now realized was not the book I had wanted to buy. Silly me; I had actually been looking for Doctor Faustus. Can't imagine how I'd ever make that sort of mistake. So, instead of an early-17th century English playwright's rendition of the Faust myth I get a mid-20th century German's rendition of the myth which focuses heavily on contemporary (for when the book was published) German social issues... You know, I actually am kind of happy I made that mistake.
Also, while I'm on the subject of my stumbling in book buying, I managed to finally find a copy of Pscyho. And, while I was browsing the horror section for some comfort-reading material (like you do) I saw a copy of Hannibal. As I was already picking up a classic horror book successfully turned into a movie that's probably better remember, I figured I'd pick up the other one. Only to realize that there's also a book called The Silence of the Lambs which comes before Hannibal in the series. Fortunately, I managed to snag a copy of that as well. I did not, however, realize that those were the third and second books respectively, and the first book (Red Dragon) did not happen to magically appear in my possession before I left the store.
So... Reading. Yeah. Gonna have to do some of that.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Odd Jobs & Good Books

     There is always an element of surprise working in the WC. You never know who will walk in looking for a conference or what subject you might end up talking about. Maybe one of your coworkers makes a batch of flan or mashed potatoes at 10 pm.
     But in the summer, the surprise comes from a different source: Dr. Bob. The other day I helped him move some furniture from campus to home, around his house, into his garden house (a small writing hutch at the end of his property), and a few other things.
     There were a few benefits to me for helping. Dr. Bob gave me a small pot filled with potting soil for an indoor basil plant and a number of books to borrow. Including (but not limited to) Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac, Walden by Thoreau, and The Great American Novel by Philip Roth.