Friday, May 31, 2013

Which Road To Claim?

After several hours of looking back on topics I have posted, as well as classmates posts for ideas to use as a thesis for my English 251 class, I have made a decision.   

Using different types of claims for my critical analysis of Robert Frost’s poem, "The Road Not Taken," I have composed five thesis statements.  
Robert Frost
 I would appreciate your comments and  feedback you may have to strengthen and improve my thesis.

I have always loved Robert Frost’s poetry because of its beautiful imagery and deep meanings.  Frost had the ability to observe little noted details of nature and describe them in an appealing way. 

Frost mixed philosophy into his poetry that causes the reader deep reflection with his forthright and uncomplicated style.
The Road Not Taken

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Analysis of "A Letter to Horace Greeley."

Within the vast scope of non-fiction, I seem to skip over the plot of land that covers political writing.  Political speaking.  It sounds yawny to me.  

Colbert is the exception to
political tediousness.
And yes, I just invented that adjective. It's like brawny, but...yawny.  Lame.  Tiring.  Tedious.  Boring.  

So, as part of my self-directed learning plan, I want to study a little more political writing.  Within an anthology of letters, I found this little gem:

A letter to Horace Greeley, from Abraham Lincoln, in response to an article written by Greeley, titled "The Prayer of Twenty Millions." I decided to take a stab at it critically (inspired by Dr. Burton's review of Neal A. Maxwell's dissection of two sermons) ; being careful to analyze the appeals to ethos, logos and pathos, while also examining kairos: the timeliness of the exchange.  

A Raw Thesis!

The emphasis made in most of my posts has been on the real and the raw. That's why I chose non-fiction for my group, and have enjoyed being a part of it.  Issues that have real application, connections between sub genres that are relevant to now.  

Memoirs, confessions, histories, biographies, "how to" books, moral sermons and the like....    What is it about this genre and the realness of it that peaks my interest?   I like to think that I'm drawn to truth.  To honesty.  I'm drawn to the idea that I'm making a real-time discovery, albeit vicarious.  

truth is stranger (and cooler) than fiction: learning plan

To continue my non-fiction reading, I want to delve into some literary neuroscience and psychological literature. I have a nice collection of Oliver Sacks, William James, and Stanislas Dehaene built up. I want to revisit their works, make notes (which always has something of the absentminded madwoman about it), and cull real ideas about how the brain works, stores memories, and how we react to and create narratives ... all to build ideas for my essay.

Neurons are beautiful.
That's what I love about non-fiction! It's real!

pitching a story

I'd like to approach crafting a thesis the way I'd approach pitching a magazine story. I've written for websites, school newspapers, and school magazines. Typically, when you have an idea for a story, you brainstorm ideas, scrap the bad ones, and then dump your thoughts about the best two or three. After outlining what you want to say, then you can fill in the material with quotations from interviews, photography, and typeset it, and you're good to go!

Additionally, I have been contemplating a project to submit to Salt Lake magazine for a few months now, so if it's good enough, I may pitch it for real.

The post which I most want to elaborate is that on "Stegner & Setting." Right now, my ideas range from the macro to the micro. Here they are, in very rough form:
  • retracing the steps Stegner describes both in his fiction and his essays. Using the framework of Philippe Hamon (private link) to talk about how we interact with the city
  • adding the previous idea to the idea of memory (using the Sonnet 122 idea of "tables within the brain")
  • Going even more specific: looking at one passage (maybe "something drastic had happened to Main Street"?), and relating that to urban planning and cultural memory of today (City Creek Mall, anyone?)
  • one of my favorite ideas—the idea of created space. The funeral parlor in Recapitulation doesn't exist, and as far as I can tell, never did, although he gives a very specific address for it and it's easy to believe it could exist
  • could always frame it as a travel writing piece—but isn't that more of a so-called staycation?
I like all these ideas, nebulous though they are. And honestly, this project started out as one part literary pilgrimage, one part excuse to eat doughnuts on South Temple. Gotta start somewhere!

All literary pilgrimages should involve petit fours.

(Once I move to Madison, I will be making a Crossing to Safety pilgrimage for sure.)

Topics That Tickled My Fancy

Gotta love weird post titles. 

Following the model of Dawn's post, I've decided to answer all of Dr. Burton's questions concerning the process of literary analysis and developing a thesis.  

1.  Review your recent writing, notes, discussions, etc. to find topics and issues that have intrigued you.
 I've found that all of the topics that have caught my interest have to do with either the internal thinking     process and/or thoughts of certain characters, social issues present in era/plot, and authors' intentions.  

2. Review your recent reading-- perhaps looking at passages you have annotated or notes you made in the margins. What are the ideas, characters, or issues that most interested you?

I really enjoyed reading "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid because it raises social issues and I feel that there is a lot to be discussed there.  As I mentioned in another post, I really like Petrarch's work and brought to attention his interest in his feelings for Laura and not necessarily Laura herself.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coming Up with a Compelling Thesis

I agree with Dr. Burton, that literature does provoke thought.  If it did not, it would not have attained its universal stature and appeal.  As Lev Vygotsky said, “Thought is not merely expressed in words; it comes into existence through them."

As I consider how to evolve my responses to literature into a compelling thesis statement, I will use the guide Dr. Burton has provided.

New Modes, New Morale: Banja Luka, Bosnia.

The city of Banja Luka is surrounded by rolling hills that closely resemble those of the American midwest.  A bird's eye view would prove similar in appearance to the farm communities of Idaho and Northern Utah, but if you wander the unpaved roads between the cinderblock houses, significant differences become apparent.  Many of the unfinished dwellings have been forfeited for lack of funds, and others are unfinished but inhabited out of desperation.  

Bosnia has been known for it's religious divisiveness, the beautiful cities of Mostar and Sarajevo, and the sacred site of Međugorje. However, it is most recently known as a war-torn country with little left of its male population.  The men who remained after the war have been debilitated by injury, and dampened by traumatic memories of violence.  Yet, somehow, the families that have been stripped of their brothers and fathers carry on by the strength of their women.  

The Tadić women and their home in Bosnia.
March 2012.
This is true for the Tadić family.  With her father out of work and consumed by post-traumatic stress, Violeta Tadić, at age 20, provides for the bulk of her family's necessities.  Her grandmother joins her efforts by making Balkan socks--papuća--and selling them at the local market.  Their 120 square-meter house sleeps the nine of them--children, parents and grandma--but not comfortably.  Violeta spends a few weeks at a time working as a housekeeper and nanny for a family in Zagreb, and then returns to her country and humble home in Banja Luka for a few days, only to leave again at the end of those

While away, Skype is her main mode of communication.  Between the former Yugoslavian countries, phone services differ and are unreliable, thus giving Facebook and Skype the opportunity to do their best work: keeping the family connected.  Though the Tadić family lives a far-from-extravagant lifestyle, they do have a computer for school assignments, Skyping and Facebook.  

Without these new modes of communication, Violeta would be alienated from her family's day-to-day worries and concerns.  While the country is still developing a stable economy and rebuilding its physical anatomy, it has stayed up-to-date in terms of technology.  Those who have been displaced by the recent civil war are now able to reconnect, and those families who have survived utilize new media and modes of communication to stay connected.  This new media has played and continues to play a vital role in revitalizing the country's confidence by cementing smaller communities through connection

Politically Speaking. . .

Fellow Bloggers, friends;  We are gathered here today in this period of profound change in communication.  My focus is social media’s effect on communication and relationships within the family.  Social networking has replaced the intimate interactions within most American families.  Family conversations have been replaced by texting sessions.  Family activity time has given way to countless hours of Internet surfing resulting in disconnected families.

Which reminds me of the worried mother’s comment to her teenage son as he slips through the door in the wee hours of the morning,  “would it kill you to update your Twitter status if you’re going to stay out so late?” 

Not that social networking is bad in itself, but

Memoirs of a Teenager

Model yours after whatever memoir/biography you choose. P.S. the tone should be reminiscent and make sure to not hold back too much; autobiographies are very open!

In order for me to speak about my familial relationships and social media's impact on them, I must first discuss those relationships states'.  I have an older sister and two parents, all of whom are nice and good people, but we're not all nice and good people towards each other, more so in the past.  My sister and I have a seemingly above average amount of problems and differences, which have, as one can imagine, weakened our relationship over the years.  Social media has not helped the issues.  We are on again, off again Facebook friends and I honestly do not know why.  Every few months, she will add me, and then delete me and this process has been recurring since I first got my Facebook in 2008.  I believe the first time she deleted me was because I left my Facebook open on the home computer and my parents were able to access hers and discovered new and enlightening pictures about my sister's extra-curricular activities to their disapproval.  As a result of years of being deleted from her social network, I have this bitter taste in my mouth everytime I discuss Facebook and my sister.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What is Media? On Signs, Rituals, and Rethinking Networks

New Media platforms are analyzed often enough from the perspective of child development, commerce, and psychology. While all thee perspectives may well yield valuable insights, treading where others have trod is unlikely to prove either fruitful or timely. In the time I wrote this sentence, another sixteen-year-old with an app was probably bought out by an angel investor.

Rather than inveighing for or against social networks, I will make a claim that one can use the tools of rhetorical analysis—even some postmodern ones, though sometimes those tools can be a bit like using a power drill when a wrench would have done—to analyze what social networks are and how we can more usefully envision them.

If you were born after the release of "Smells Like Teen Spirit,"  then I'm not sure I'd consider you to be of the same generation as myself. Anyone who has a smart phone in high school, a Facebook account without a university address, or who has never used a hardbound encyclopedia is perhaps ill-equipped to examine, much less question, online media tools as such. No wonder premature nostalgia for the early '90s abounds (just try shopping without running into Doc Marten boots and ill-fitting tops; it's horrifying)—there's a vague idea that this era was more authentic, more individual, and less polite. 

According to Saussure, an idea, a sign can be broken into its signifier (say, the word blog, a rather unfelicitous chopping off of weblog) and the signified (the "actual" blog itself, whether you treat that as a series of 0s and 1s or its realized presence). I think this is an incredibly useful application for an old idea which struck me as academic at the time: a blog is just a configuration of electrons. You and I are ultimately protons and electrons. What is media? On one level, "it is such stuff as dreams are made on:" ephemeral and hosted on a server, perhaps in Iceland where it's cold and there's geothermal heating.

But looking at the signified—what we talk about when we talk about the Internet—is more interesting. I would argue that the new media are made up of and therefore are the playing out of social ritual. Really, the critical toolbox we should be throwing at the likes of Facebook is that of the anthropologist. Seen as a realization of mating rituals, scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch yours rites, and (of course) social posturing, maybe the hysteria of media agnostics and the evangelism of media millennialists could cool down a notch. (I say "agnostic," because presumably media atheists are out fly fishing or preaching Mormonism or hunting down Osama.)

Here's a map of the U.S. according to Facebook connections. Only the deluded or deeply eccentric have never met those on their social network: who's to say a guy I met on a plane isn't better suited to my confidence than whomever I happen to live by or work with?

There's a certain beauty to the idea that every line is not just 1s and 0s but two people who know and like each other. I'm reminded of corporeal metaphors: on Vronsky's horse in Anna Karenina,

the muscles stood up sharply under the network of sinews, covered with this delicate, mobile skin, soft as satin, and they were hard a bone.

Neurons "network" to make a brain. Media is as real as anything intangible, whether philosophy, your FDIC deposit insurance, or love. Human beings have never lived entirely in the realm of the tangible. The very act of language makes real the unreal: it always points to something else (arbitrarily, as anyone who has studied a foreign language knows).

Language, the cracked kettles for bears to dance to, is no better, no worse, neither more alive nor more dead, than at any other time in human history. Social networks both use language and constitute a language of their own. Specific platforms may go the way of engraved tablets and Kurt Cobain, but human communication and connection will endure.

Coming to Terms with the Personal Essay (Assignment for Thursday)

Now that you have had greater exposure to creative non-fiction as a genre, we will put our learning to work. In lieu of our regular in-class assignment, this week will entail doing a blog post between now and Thursday on the following topic:

Family Life and New Media: Help or Hindrance?

Now, to give you direction on this assignment, we will be flexing our non-fiction muscles by each writing in different genres. These are:

Political Speech
Travel or Food Personal Essay
Literary Criticism
Confessional Autobiography/Memoir

Jocelyn, Jennifer, Philip, Lindsey, Sined
Andrew, Hilary, Briggs, Leah, Olivia
Richard, Kirsten, Clarissa, Taylor, Danielle

KimaraDawnJamieCharly, and Caitlyn will be modeling each genre type. If you're in the red group, you might start your post, "Verily, verily, in the days of many gadgets," whereas if you're in the pink group, you may be starting with "let me tell you about time when ..." You can write a normal-length blog post, and please label them nonfiction personal essay. On Thursday, we over at Team Nonfiction will highlight our favorites, and we'll give you time within your groups to discuss how genre affected your approach to the common topic.

Best of luck!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Allure of Travel Writing.

I went to great lengths this weekend to locate my journal from the time I spent in Sardegna and Rome, Italy.  Here is a random entry I flipped to. (Most foreign names have been changed. Also, a note to the reader: these entries were compiled at a time when I was lacking ethics.  They do contain mild profanity.) 

A reaction to "Take, Eat"

Three generations of lady-lovin'.
*Awkward family photo. 
Last Friday I read Tessa Santiago's "Take, Eat," and was so impressed that I sent its link and a short message to all my close female relatives, friends, and friends' moms, and asked them to read it.

The reaction was unanimous.  They all loved and appreciated it.  They've all passed it on to other women in their lives that have had an impact on them.

What was it that triggered such a reaction?  What about Santiago's writing is so compelling and endearing?  It begins with her analysis.  She puts into words what many women have not been able to in their observation of physical appearance, mothering, and the like.  All these things that are so relatable, and so encouraging to hear from someone else.  Another woman.

Then, her writing is so easy to understand.  It's beautifully written, but not so intricate that you get caught up in the details and forget the big picture.  She moves from idea to idea without wasting time on creative continuity.  Once a thought is well-established, she glides to the next one...but without a trace of disconnect.

She writes the way women think.  A connection between each thought, emotion, frustration and pleasure.  There's a snappy quality to it.  I can't stand the way THIS is, and then THAT happened, and I couldn't stand that SHE would do THAT, and I'm so excited for THIS, because SHE'S going to bring THAT, and, and, and, and, and, and....

And it's not just for the women who have had children.  I think it's for any woman who has or who is considering it.  It's for anyone that wants to appreciate the feminine role as a nurturer.

It's raw.  It's smart.  It's personal.

Sharing Our Love for Literacy

Sharing our knowledge with others is a valuable gift.  

As we apply lessons we have learned from literature in meaningful ways, we gain a better appreciation for it.  Our appreciation then builds our excitement for reading as well as our learning that will accompany us through life.  It is natural to want to share our knowledge and passion for literature socially (Learning Outcome # 4). 

Reading with my grandchildren is an excellent way to share my enthusiasm for literature that will broaden their thinking and increase their love and appreciation for good books.  As I read with them, they will sense my motivation as they experience the wonder and satisfaction that comes from reading through a variety of genres. 

James S. Jacobs and Michael O. Tunnell, authors of Children’s Literature, Briefly (3rd edition. P. 271), believe that reading is personal as well as a natural process.  They identify some common characteristics of motivated readers that reflect these beliefs.  For example:

            Motivated readers:

o   read for pleasure and their own purposes.  

o   have personal and identifiable likes and dislikes in books.

o   are not hesitant about passing judgment on a book.

o   develop a personal attachment to books they like.

o   find time to read regularly.

Reading with my grandchildren is a pleasant experience we both look forward to.  I believe they will learn to love literature in these informal settings.  They feel safe asking questions and interjecting their opinions about the books when they are with their grandmother.   Plus. . . . ., I love the quality time we share!

A Compelling Call

Rhetoric is the art of discourse that attempts to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. Though widely used in Western culture, the best known definition of rhetoric comes from Aristotle, who considers it a counterpart of both logic and politics, and calls it "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion."  Using Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals of logos, pathos, and ethos rhetoric as heuristics for understanding, Elder Dallin H. Oaks calls for unity in protecting religious freedom. 

Elder Oaks establishes  ethos, or his authority as the keynote speaker in the beginning of his speech given at Chapman University School of Law on February 4, 2011.  Being a former Justice of the Utah Supreme Court as well as a current apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides validity among both political and various religious leaders to call for religions’ former respected position in our nation.

By relying on common values to unify his audience, Oaks allows them to see how their shared fundamental values are greater than their differences in religious doctrine. 

Biography Films

Biographical pictures or what is commonly called bio-pic films are a sub-genre of the larger drama and epic film genres that became very popular in the 1930’s and are still prominent today.  According to the AMC filmsite “these films depict and dramatize the life of an important personage or group from the past or present era.”  One such movie, Sergeant York, came out in 1941 and is a personal favorite of mine. 
 AMC explains, “Sometimes, historical biopics stretch the truth to tell a life story with varying degrees of accuracy.”  This is not the case with Sergeant York, the story of Alvin C. York, a hillbilly from Tennessee who becomes one of the most decorated soldiers of WW1 when he single-handedly attacks and captures a German position using the same strategy he uses in an Appalachian Hills turkey shoot.  Being against war himself, York was not proud of killing and only did so to prevent more lives from being taken.  

York was opposed to having a movie made about his heroism, but under the circumstances of another impending world war, he consented to a biographical movie,  but only if the movie script was accurate.  York also specified that Gary Cooper would portray him and a non-smoking, unknown actress would portray his wife. 

The film stayed true to York’s life except that he was a corporeal instead of a sergeant at the time.  Corporeal York did not have the same sound appeal as did Sergeant York.  A great flick!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


This term has to be addressed.  And if it has to be addressed, then I want to address it.  

Logical fallacies are the first thing I look for while reading a personal essay or other kind of persuasive writing.  Where are the holes in their logic?  Why do I feel oddly squeamish reading that ridiculous question they've rhetorically posed?  Why am I losing respect for this author so quickly and suddenly?!   

LOGICAL FALLACIES.                  Hate 'em.  

And the worst part?  I use them.  Sometimes.  When I'm not paying attention.  When I'm too passionate to notice.   

What is a logical fallacy, by definition? Well, it's a misleading or unsound argument,'s typically based off of a bit of logic. It can make any essayist, writer, or politician sound childish in trying to legitimize their argument.  

It's okay.  If that didn't make sense, here are some examples, and a link to my favorite website with an alphabetical listing of each one.  Start looking for them in your reading this weekend!  

The power of sequence and music.

The way a scene or play is presented can dramatically (no pun intended) alter the way it's received.  Will it be interpreted as funny, scary, sad, or contentious?  The director has the ability to tack any one of those adjectives--and certainly more--to his play by changing the pace of the line exchanges, the music that accompanies them, and the way that the characters speak.  

That's why I think scripts are meant to be analyzed as a performance, rather than simply on a page as a process of wording or spelled-out emotion.  Some would beg to differ in cases of Shakespeare and the like, but.  I prefer to think that--were they here to speak a preference--they would like their works to be seen on the stage, rather than read on a page.  

Here's The Notebook, re-stitched as a horror trailer.  Brilliant, really.  

my stab at the personal essay

Originally published on March 22, 2007.

Physical landmarks often mean little to me. (This is evidenced by the fact that I have been a passenger dozens of times coming out of Parley's Canyon, but I couldn't tell my friend when to get off.) No, I track my life by the books I was reading at the time.

Moving into a new house was marked by The Chronicles of Narnia series. It was probably a year after, when I was twelve. I had a white shirt with flowers from Old Navy, and blue shorts, and it was June, because the image about it being as bright as stepping out of a garage in June stuck out to me.

In ninth grade, I was reading The House on Mango Street the day I signed up to audition for The Nutcracker. I was a soldier that year. Which means that I was 4'10", yet in high school.

At Girls' Camp, I was reading Sense and Sensibility when one of my peers was complaining of her omnipresent migraines.

all the world's a stage

And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts

Comedies, in Dr. Burton's words, "unmask general hypocrisy." So can tragedies. This well-known monologue by Jacques in As You Like It got me thinking about roles we play: gender roles, roles in the workplace, roles in our family relationships ... the idea of acting/scripting in real life.

A well-regarded sermon by Dieter Uchtdorf (for any readers who aren't Mormon, don't worry, he's very cool!) discussed the different roles a man plays in his life. More than the typical dialogue within the Mormon community, he emphasized that men wear many hats, and that is important that no one is shunned because they fit into one role better than another.

None of the "titles," or roles, focused on professional attainment or (and this is important!) ecclesiastical positions, or "callings," as they're termed in LDS circles. They were all deeper and longer-lasting than that. (Healer of Souls, son of God, &c.)

Human Frailty (The Philadelphia Story and The Importance of Being Earnest)

When Dr. Burton suggest we compare The Philadelphia Story and The Importance of Being Earnest, I was thrilled.

I saw a production of Holiday at BYU last November, and it was spectacular. I decided that this was a playwright I wanted to get to know better. His probing of societal expectations in the 1920s and '30s had a lot of resonance today, what with the financial crash of '08.

I promptly bought The Philadelphia Story, a film adaptation of another of Philip Barry's plays. It has a dream cast: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart.

The two men battling (at times) for Hepburn's affections come from different social milieus: the "high line" Philadelphia society of Grant, and the wisecracking everyman of Stewart. I won't spoil the plot too much, but let's examine the following exchange (Grant plays Dexter and Hepburn plays Tracy):

Dexter: No, Red, not of you, never of you. Red, you could be the finest woman on this earth. I'm contemptuous of something inside of you you either can't help, or make no attempt to; your so-called 'strength' - your prejudice against weakness - your blank intolerance.
Tracy: Is that all?
Dexter: That's the gist of it; because you'll never be a first-class human being or a first-class woman, until you've learned to have some regard for human frailty. It's a pity your own foot can't slip a little sometime - but your sense of inner divinity wouldn't allow that. This goddess must and shall remain intact. There are more of you than people realize - a special class of the American Female. The Married Maidens.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Coming of Age through Literary Genres

My elementary school was so crowded that my fifth grade classroom was relegated (or -  should I say promoted) to the school library.  What a tragedy to be surrounded by shelves and shelves of books all day!  My attention was too often focused on the myriad of books surrounding me as I would decide what I was going to read next.  It was during that year I read an abridged version of "Lorna Doone," by Richard D. Blackmore. 

This is a British romance based on historical characters from the late 17th century, written with an olde English dialect.  It is an adventure, with a developing plot line, about outlaws, family secrets, and romance. I was captivated with the whole story as this book quickly drew me into the vast magical world of literature. 

It was an introduction that soon lead me into the British regency romance genre of Jane Austen and the Brontes.  A tough decision, I decided my favorite book in seventh grade was Emily Bronte's, "Wuthering Heights.I wanted to identify with the head strong Cathy who was adored by the mysterious Heathcliff.  I waded through some unpleasant junior high years by privately pretending to be one of my favorite  British heroines.

By eighth grade, my favorite book was Alexander Dumas“The Count of Monte Cristo,” unabridged.  Themes for Monte Cristo are adventure, revenge and power.  My family gave me the nickname of bookworm because I could not seem to be able to quench my thirst for reading.  I went through several Nancy Drew Mysteries, then on to the biographies of every musician and artist I had ever heard of.  Of course, I could not pass up American writers, Pearl S. Buck, Ralph Moody and Gene Stratton-Porter's fabulous books.  The problem
was that there was not enough time!

There was a library reading class offered while I
was in the ninth grade that provided me with legit reading time . . . .heavenly. . . . .

This literary journey through my young life provided a foundation for understanding people and circumstance, values and virtues, adventure and adversity that has helped guide and shape me.  There are still volumes and volumes to go!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Social Learning

This past week, I was able to give several literary recommendations to friends and acquaintances as to contribute to Learning Outcome # 4.  On Monday, I went to the library to check out a biography on Francesco Petrarch, whom I adore.  Humanism is one of my favorite philosophical movements, so humanist ideas mixed with love poetry = me loving it.

The person I was sitting with then asked me what the book was and I explained to him who Petrarch was.  He did not seem amused.  Feeling the need to defend the poet, I went on a tangent explaining what he wrote about, why it is so beautiful, why it would speak to him if he were to read it, etc.  Then he seemed convinced and I think accepted Petrarch as reputable.  JOB DONE.

A few minutes later, I went to the help desk where my friend was working to check out the book.  He, as well was unfamiliar with the 14th century writer so once again, I happily gave a brief background and told him that he should check his work out.  TWO in one day! I left the library satisfied.

             ↑ My fifth floor Instagram

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Realism Onstage

What is Realism?

Reading about Realism Onstage in Literature Craft &Voice - Delbanco and Cheuse, p. 1344, 

says actors like  "Marilyn Monroe
Realism = Skill?

and Marlon Brando -

made a method out of naturalism onstage.

An actor and his or her character should merge so that the

role becomes inhabited by the person cast in it;"
Naturalism Onstage

Dr. Eric W. Trumbull, Professor of  Theatre and Speech explains that "realism was partly a response to new social and artistic conditions.  It is where people move and talk in a manner similar to that of our everyday behavior.  It was to deal with everyday life and problems as subjects.  

A dominant style for 120 years, realism holds the idea of the stage as an environment, rather than as an acting platform."

Thoughts on Borges' Thoughts.

Charly, dear.  Dear Charly. Thank you for that essay.  Verbiage for Poems.

Considering the fact that he accused the Royal Spanish Academy of "florid vagueness," he was quite extravagant in expressing himself.  But I was ultimately impressed by what he had to say.

My favorite epiphanic rant he went on was on page 20:

"We touch a sphere, see a small heap of dawn-colored light, our mouths enjoy a tingling sensation, and we lie to ourselves that those three disparate things are only one thing called an orange."

I laughed out loud while reading that.  Really, and I mean really, where would we be without common, objective nouns?

Me: Could you hand me that tingle-inducing, dawn-colored sphere, there?  That one, on the flat, wooden-made surface?  

You:  Are you....talking about the orange-colored ball of juice that squirts ooze when you open it?  

Me: Nope.  Definitely not what I'm talking about. You're so ignorant. 

We would be in subjective disarray, I think.

Okay, I know that's not what he's saying.  Though I think his "utopic...ideas" (his words, not mine) are honorable in their explanation, they're a bit silly.

Again, ultimately, to his credit, I think he raises some very valid points.  And, since this was written in 1926, I'm sure he would be even more passionate on the subject given the decay of our language in the past half-century.  The evolution of language has its own personal history, I think.  Somewhere not on this blog...
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges

The Human Fascination: Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude.  ʃɑːdənfrɔɪdəShod-en-froid-eh.

It's the German word explaining how we feel when we joy in others' misfortunes.  Unfortunately, I've been guilty of that a few times in my life... But I'm sure none of you have...

Why this word?  It came to mind while I was reading page 1277 of Craft & Voice:

 "The convention, or the agreed upon 'reality' of the modern play, assumes that we're watching the action as if the fourth wall of the room has been removed...A scene with language and physical gestures, enacted by characters we find familiar, in a settling that resembles space we occupy offstage: that is the essence of the style we call realism."

Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher, Broadway, pbl. 2013

I love plays like that.  Ones that are raw and real and resonate within you long after a performance is over.

"The focus of modern theater altered everything: characters grew recognizable, not exalted or debased, and their very human failings became the stuff of drama, redefining the conditions of tragedy."

Now. That word, schadenfreude, came to mind, because when we experience human drama through the stage, our reactions are quite the opposite.  If an actor is good, they can make you feel dread when they feel dread; hate when they feel hate; excitement when they feel excitement.

By using colloquial diction, relatable characters, and, in comedies, common culture references, modern drama has endeared itself to its audiences in a way that no other sub-genre of drama ever has.