Dec 08 2010

Post on Paul Longley Arthur

Published by under Uncategorized

I think that the quotation regarding cyberbiography is quite interesting. Arthur mentions how:

the whole realm of “cyberbiography” is like a “second life” in relation to the traditional field of biography. Even those people who do not live second or alternate lives online are finding that their lives gain new dimensions and take on a new complexity because of the growing interrelationship of humans with technologies that augment our abilities (Arthur, 77).

He makes a point about how cyberbiography creates another life, one that is ours, yet not completely us. This is how I perceived his concept of a “second life.” If we claim ownership of two sets of lives, which one is truly us? Suppose that they are dissimilar to a point that no one could tell them apart – we would be the only ones who could say. How would we rectify this?

My old professor used to tell me that women and men are different in that men can compartmentalize their issues, while women can’t. A man can work without thinking of his last argument with his lover, and there’s a chance his co-workers won’t even know he has a problem, while a woman will be dreary all day and her girlfriends will, though not always, tell straightaway there’s an issue and seek to address it. I suppose that’s how I understand the point that Arthur tries to make. When I write in a persona online, it’s usually to vent, and as with a lot of my friends, it beats beating around the bush when friends throw their arm over your shoulder and asks “pare – anong nang yari? (Dude, what happened?).” It’s simpler to put yourself in a persona that nobody has to know about, where you’re safe from pointing fingers and crowds gasping as you berate, destroy, and murder the name of that person who haunts you, or know that your mom and dad won’t nag when you mope over how overbearing they are. As Arthur says, lives gain a new complexity, and it augments the writing about life, but in quite a specific way. He also mentions that because of technology, “we readily engage in imaginative elaboration and confabulation and, once we have done this, the bare bones memory is lost forever within the animated story we have constructed” (79). However, even if it threatens the integrity of the biographer because of its uniqueness, it is the personal narrative of the biographer that attaches itself to it, which makes any artifice we’ve created still portray something about is. Even if it’s not made by us, it’s in the way a song describes our day, or how a video by a kindred soul makes absolute sense. We add something to it, small quotes, or merely a short text summary of “how my day was like” and it’s officially our own. It takes away from our authority and originality, but it works, at least so far.

One response so far

Dec 08 2010

Last Post

Published by under Uncategorized

There were a lot of texts from class which struck a chord in me. Some of them were easier to relate with, considering they dealt more with the understandable, difficult yet solvable issues. Consider the feeling that Tim O’Brien portrays: in that section of The Things They Carried where he debates whether or not he wants to jump into the water, cross into the Canadian Border, and dodge the draft, he portrays that oh-so-human emotion where we are at a crossroads. Sometimes, we know the hard and narrow path, and though we may not wish it upon ourselves, we go it anyway. Other times, we run instead of stand our ground. It’s relatable; it’s not hard to put ourselves into his shoes in parts like these. But take the more traumatic areas of some biographies, like Sebold’s Lucky, Harrison’s The Kiss, or even Sexton – each one of these authors have provided us with unique experiences where we have to cross a line, or find ourselves there without us wanting to, for us to be able to put ourselves into their shoes. We may fathom it logically, but it’s ultimately separate from us. We understand, but it’s difficult to relate.

Some of the more non-linear narratives, like Dictee and My Life were harder to take in, but I feel make you want to learn the secrets that lay hidden. It’s like Hejinian and Cha want you to decipher that hard-to-grasp thoughts they leave in the air, yet right before your eyes. It’s unique in that it gives you an experience that rewards you if you try your hardest to find what they want you to see. Sure, it’s never a clear answer what you find, but you know it’s something about them, and you know that somehow, even if you’re not fully right, you know. Even Bechdel’s Fun House, and to some extent Sexton, was a little meandering in terms of ironing out the specific details. In Bechdel’s work, half of what you needed to know was deliberately painted on the faces and backgrounds, so you had to look twice. Sexton did poems, so it was like Hejinian’s and Cha’s work in that you had to associate the concepts with something, or look closely at metaphors.

Overall, the course definitely gave me a myriad of ways to present an autobiography. Funny how that experience makes you realize that it’s practically a lot less high and mighty as the old guard might have said when they kept calling memoirs about sex sensationalist, or how it made the proverbial soup taste sour. I suppose critics have a point about the importance of drawing the line between literature and experimentation, high class, and low class. But if you think about it, the essence of life-writing is that a writer wishes to portray a sense of his life, or her life. And in that sense, I suppose makes it a lot more encompassing than literary critics tend to make you believe.

No responses yet

Nov 24 2010

Thesis Draft

Published by under Uncategorized

Thesis for Autobiography

My draft so far. Enjoy, guys

No responses yet

Nov 03 2010

The Kiss

Published by under Uncategorized

To say that Harrison was a “willing participant” is a little too much of labeling, or simplifying of the issue at hand, but to say that she was merely a “victim” of her father and personal circumstances in life would be too limiting of her will as a person as well. Her relationship with her mother was probably a precursor for the need for parental attention. Being left in the complete care of her grandparents at the age of 6 would be the most striking phase of scarred childhood Harrison must have gone through. Perusing her mother’s drawer and finding gowns she thought weren’t good enough to bring along, she stumbles on one she herself finds pretty and exclaims: “I push my face into the smooth fabric, a hundred times more lovely than any other thing in this house. If a dress like this was not worth taking, how could I have hoped to be?” (14). This logic indicates the lack of confidence in self-worth. The way she calls her grandmother “predatory” in the later part of the page – enough to instill a fear in her mother, who chooses to leave no indication of her next address – would predicate a possible kind of suffocating parenthood which could be surmised as highly lacking, or beinog devoid completely of, in terms of the tender kind of parenting which Harrison, at age 6, seems to want more than anything. Earlier in the same chapter, when she looks to her slumbering mother, she depicts her need for her mother: “she can’t remain insensible to my imploring her – my wanting her – as fervently as I do” (7). She portrays her mother as someone who seems to constantly be in some mood of emptiness, where “Her eyes, when they turn at last toward me, are like two empty mirrors. I can’t find myself in them” (9). Her need for fatherly affection may also stem from the inherently painful parts of their relationship early in life. Harrison recalls learning French with the ability to absorb the language being so limited that it frustrates her mother enough to make her hit Harrison. The one portion which portrays the dynamics of their relationship is seen when she has an exam, cheats, excels, and ultimately confesses to her mother about doing so. The magnitude of her mother’s happiness is tantamount only to her merits: “even at the age of seven I understand how damning my success—that my mother’s love for me (like her mother’s love for her) depends on my capitulation” (20). This also indicates the level with which her grandmother implicates Harrison’s relationship with her mother, and apparent need for more love and support. Her relationship with her father seems to be the only answer to this need, considering that her father wants to build a loving relationship with her, one that does not base emotions on merit, but solely on the fact that he is her father, and she is his child.

The whole memoir relegates the greatest amount of importance in “the kiss” which her father gives her around the time she is in college. In one part, she writes: “I think of the kiss not as what he did but as what happened. I’ve separated him from the act; I’ve made the adjustment of regarding the kiss as I would a more helpless physical transport, a seizure, perhaps, or a spasm of coughing. If the kiss was an accident, outside of human control, then it doesn’t pollute the love he has for me. It doesn’t demand that I turn away from what I want” (86). This portion indicates both a personal wish for the relationship to consummate, and something tantamount to apologia for what she has presented to the reader. It is as if she wants, but knows deep down the act is wrong, but does not want to end it. Doing it, however, allows the reader to pass judgment, and therefore, she apologizes by rationalizing the act as something like an “accident” which does not “pollute” the “love” she perceives from her father. Later, when her father finally asks sex of her, she is definitely taken aback, yet her actions seem to stem from both fear of “going to hell” as well as fear of the immorality of the notion. She writes: “‘God gave you to me,’ he says. When the preacher in my father speaks,  I lose what’s left of my power to defend myself. The words that might send most people  running are the very words to trap me” (108). Here, Harrison portrays her feelings at the time to be akin to someone who is helpless, powerless, in the thrall of a higher authority. This definitely shows a side of her which is repulsed by the idea, but her previous abandon which allows the continuation of her more lustful feelings for “the kiss” they shared begs the question: is she really that against the idea of having an intimate and sexual relationship from her father? She definitely portrays a sort of self-imposed ignorance for the facts, but she still allows herself to do it. I believe this to be a dynamic tension between wanting her father’s love, being ensnared by innocent lust, and being at the thrall of a higher authority.

One response so far

Nov 03 2010

To Bedlam and Part Way Back

Published by under Uncategorized

One of the motifs one sees in Sexton’s work To Bedlam and Part Way Back is the characterization of certain objects in Sexton’s past. We see this in poems like The Kite, Some Foreign Letters, and The Bells. One way to understand these seemingly random, or specific yet odd items, is to understand that these poems were part of a journal that her doctor from the loony been asked her to jot down. It wouldn’t be so far off to believe that she was possibly instructed to leave nothing out of it, because from a psychological standpoint, everything you think of represents something, and therefore is crucial to the portrait of your mind. This is the rationale behind the psychotherapy technique called Free Association: “One of the basic techniques of classic psychoanalysis in which the patient says everything that comes to mind without editing or censoring”(Strickland). In any case, this would at least point to one possible reason why the poems exist. With regards to the reason they are relevant is another case. Perhaps these items may have stuck out, due to some particular relationship with some character portrayed in the poem, such as with the “Ezio Pinza” character in The Kite, her father in The Bells, the “soft white lady of my heart” character, which could be her mother, grandmother, or mother-figure in Some Foreign Letters. The items themselves, become items of chronological reference, and hold relevance as items that perhaps, remind her of a past memory. Considering the repetition of this motif of using images or items for her titles and objects of poems, it’s an arguable point.

Sexton also alludes to important figures in history, like the witches she aligns herself with in Her Kind, or the figures of Venus and Noah in the title of the enigmatic poem Venus and the Ark. Some of these poems, like the last, are merely allusions to a possible thematic scheme. In the poem Venus and the Ark, there’s a reference to the planet Venus which is named after the Roman Goddess, and the Ark of Noah. The poem itself however, talks about a missile attack, and two PHDs that save animals on a balloon, which one may recognize as an allusion to Noah’s Ark. The former poem, Her Kind, sounds less otherworldly, and more in touch with the character of Sexton that the book creates. She is an outsider, ostracized and labeled as separate from society, and she is proud to be. Some of these poems  paint some vivid idea or caricature of the Anne Sexton psyche. One might look at Venus and the Ark, and surmise that Sexton sees the world as a place for the female, considering that the planet which the two PHDs are from is Venus, not Earth, and definitely not Mars (referencing the old book Men are from Mars, and Women are from Venus, though this is 30 years previous that book’s publishing). The manner with which she portrays “the planet” to be of gaseous nature could indicate some notion she may have wished to portray about her view of the world – a dystopic, miasma-laced one, perhaps?

Lastly, she constantly portrays specific figures in her life, particularly her mother. The poem The Division of Parts is about the time after her mother has passed, and one might note the particular importance this holds – someone wouldn’t necessarily write a poem, and one of this length, if it wasn’t relevant in some way. The fact that she and her mother were often at odds, as shown in the poem Double Image, could be a reason for this recurring theme of mother-daughter relationship.

Sources:

Editor: Strickland, Bonnie. Encyclopedia of Psychology. Gale Group: MI, 2001.

4 responses so far

Oct 26 2010

My Life

Published by under Uncategorized

I find that Anderson’s train of thought regarding Derrida ties in well with Hejinnian’s take on autobiography. The writing I refer to pertains to the Derrida quote:

In calling or naming someone while he is alive, we know that his
name can survive him and already survives him; the name begins
during his life to get along without him speaking and bearing
his death each time it is inscribed in a list, or a civil registry, or a
signature. (81)

Of this, Anderson writes: “For Derrida the question of the proper name or signature quickly takes on overtones of death since the name with which one signs will always outlive the bearer of that name” (81). Both these quotations implicate the autobiography in the truth that it creates – an autobiography is not simply a recollection and presentation of life, but also metaphorically speaking, a tombstone of sorts, a monument that will outlive the person it represents, and in the end, represents the person.

My life is not merely a poetic representation by Lyn Hejinian of her life, it is a constantly evolving piece, and that sets it apart from other works that stand by themselves, and do not “change”. By adding to it, Hejinian represents the aspect of life and time which does not stop for a moment, but lives it out to the edge of doom. It is here that the quotes of both Derrida and Anderson correlate with Hejinian’s work. Regardless of how many additions there are to Hejinian’s work, the fact of the matter is, the various printings of her life will outlive her, or survive her as Derrida puts it. By writing it out, however, she allows something to live in her place, to outlive her, and be a representative of both her poetic inclinations, as well as her thoughts about life in general. And yet it also implicated death into the work, noting that it is done so that it takes the place of the writer as a figure in the minds of readers. We don’t know Lyn Hejinian, we know the Lyn Hejinian in her work. We therefore know about her, and not her. The name we find in her book, will one day outlive her, or as Derrida implies, already has. Even Anderson’s wording regarding this is interesting: “the name with which one signs will always outlive the bearer of that name.” Hejinian is definitely aware of it, yet like most writers, chooses to do it anyway, in some ways embracing the finality that is to come by preparing a way out of “death” (in the sense that we stop living on by being perceived by others) through writing.

One response so far

Oct 24 2010

Prospectus for Final Research Paper

Published by under Uncategorized

My paper will primarily address Blogging as a form of autobiography. The text I will be using, called Densha Otoko (Train Man) is a novel based on a largely Japanese anonymous online community called 2Channel that recounts the story of “Train man”, in a number of thousand-post threads. It’s basically about a socially-inept geek who saves a pretty girl on the subway train from a molester, and with the helpful advice of his geek community, gets her to be his girlfriend. With regards to research on blogging itself, as it is a relatively new compared to other forms of autobiography in existence, there is a limited pool of serious, literature-based criticism and research on the topic. A lot of research I’ve come across that is done on blogging involves people with a background in children’s education, Anthropology, Psychology, and Cyber-media. Despite their non-literary views, however, there are certain portions of their research which tie in with the point of my paper. There are also a few articles regarding research that is written largely from a literary perspective, such as the paper by Catherine O’Sullivan, which links the life-journaling aspect of many weblogs to the earlier diarists. Using this data, I plan to provide evidence to show that blogging is a form of autobiography that has links to various kinds of accepted or acceptable literature, tackles current national or global issues, and in the view of a number of scholars, is acceptable literature (though is arguably not “canon” literature).

I will use the portions of Train Man that recount the life-experiences in his relationship with Ms. Hermes as a basis for how blogs have a life-journaling aspect, which in part is something akin to memoir-writing. I will also use the text as evidence for how certain blogs or bloggers can hold cultural relevance, and therefore, can be a medium for literature. Train Man itself as a blog, has spurred televised dramas, a novel, a film, and graphic novels, which portrays the cultural significance it has to Japan, and various geek-communities, and presents the viability of blogs as a medium for literature to spring from. Two writers for the Japan Times have mixed feelings, as well as different takes on Train Man as a cultural phenomenon. Roger Pulvers considers it as a poignant symbol for a “dumbing down of Japan,” where he points out that the younger generation’s wild attraction to blatant escapism brings Japan nowhere, and fast, while Janet Ashby considers the work a sigh of relief, attesting to how the experience of love and life does not change, despite the fast-evolving cultural quirks of the newer generation. These two articles stand as examples of various cultural perceptions of blogging, and its effects on a country as a whole. It would certainly be too difficult to argue for blogs as “high literature,” considering the voluminous amounts of definitions for what literature should be. However, considering how many bloggers produce work that is affected by socially-important events, or forces, like politics, or war exposes bloggers to literature about those topics, either in other blogs, or books, journals, televised news, radioed news, and newspapers. I will use research done by Adam Reed to provide evidence to attest to how blogs have social relevance, and at times how bloggers tend to conglomerate in groups that they may affiliate with, like those based on race, nation, or various interests. The paper by Guzzetti and Gamboa recounts the blogging histories of two young girls, and they link the modern “literature” of the internet to the way children perceive new information, process it into their own writing, and their possible reasons for writing in blogs. The paper by Bryan Alexander simply provides insight on the blogging generation, the tools of the internet based communities which shape the face of blogging, and its importance as a tool for educators to provide new ways to teach to a new generation.

Sources:

  • Nakano, Hitori. Trans. Elliot, Bonnie. “Densha Otoko (Train Man) The Novel. The Internet-generation love story from Japan.” New York: Del Rey Books, 2004.
  • O’Sullivan, Catherine.  “Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them.”  The American Archivist.  Vol. 68, No. 1 (Spring – Summer, 2005), pp. 53-73.  Print.\ <—References the Link to Blogs as Online recipients of Diaries, and how they serve as practically permanently archived literature
  • Guzzetti, Barbara, Margaret Gamboa.  “Online Journaling: The Informal Writings of Two Adolescent Girls.”  Research in the Teaching of English Vol. 40, No. 2 (Nov., 2005), pp. 168-206. Print. <— Research Paper on Online Journals as Literary Practice, using two girls and their blogs as the subjects of the project. Delves into the mindset of people who blog.
  • Reed, Adam.  “‘Blog This’: Surfing the Metropolis and the Method of London.”  The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun., 2008), pp. 391-406. Print. <— Adam Reed dissects the subculture of geography-based online communities, how cyber-reality takes precedence over reality during the course of blog writing, and how profound events in reality overlap into cyber-reality.
  • Alexander, Bryan.  “Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies.”  Theory into Practice Vol. 47, No. 2, Digital Literacies in the Age of Sight and Sound (Spring, 2008), pp. 150-160. Print <— Delves into the advantages and tools of Web 2.0 (i.e. the web as a source of hyperlink realism, or web of information that spreads beyond a single webpage or article), how it affects cyber social communities, and in effect, blogging

No responses yet

Oct 20 2010

Tentative Final Research Paper

Published by under Uncategorized

With my research paper, my intention is to convince that Blogging as a form of autobiography, and is an acceptable form of modern, and even evolving literature. Not only is it acceptable as such, but blogging is also a form of  autobiography that gives the reader an experience that cannot be provided by text-based sources. Due to its internet-based nature, it is possible to delve deeper into the writer’s thoughts through hyperlinking, pictures and videos(possibly taken by the author himself/herself), as well as net-based/website based applications (like flashgames or activities) which facilitate the possible recreation of a feeling the author wants the readers to partake in, or experience for themselves. It will also delve into the subculture of different social websites which facilitate blogging and cyber-socialization (e.g. Facebook, Livejournal, etc.) But is it really literature? Some argue that due to its free-range of authorship, it would threaten the standard of “literature,” and this paper will address that issue with scholarly evidence. It will also engage The Novel “Train Man” by providing it as evidence of cyber-socialization subculture.

Text:

Nakano, Hitori. Trans. Elliot, Bonnie. “Densha Otoko (Train Man) The Novel. The Internet-generation love story from Japan.” New York: Del Rey Books, 2004.

Sources:

O’Sullivan, Catherine.  “Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them.”  The American Archivist.  Vol. 68, No. 1 (Spring – Summer, 2005), pp. 53-73.  Print.\ <—References the Link to Blogs as Online recipients of Diaries, and how they serve as practically permanently archived literature

Guzzetti, Barbara, Margaret Gamboa.  “Online Journaling: The Informal Writings of Two Adolescent Girls.”  Research in the Teaching of English Vol. 40, No. 2 (Nov., 2005), pp. 168-206. Print. <— Research Paper on Online Journals as Literary Practice, using two girls and their blogs as the subjects of the project. Delves into the mindset of people who blog.

Reed, Adam.  “‘Blog This’: Surfing the Metropolis and the Method of London.”  The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Vol. 14, No. 2 (Jun., 2008), pp. 391-406. Print. <— Adam Reed dissects the subculture of geography-based online communities, how cyber-reality takes precedence over reality during the course of blog writing, and how profound events in reality overlap into cyber-reality.

Alexander, Bryan.  “Web 2.0 and Emergent Multiliteracies.”  Theory into Practice Vol. 47, No. 2, Digital Literacies in the Age of Sight and Sound (Spring, 2008), pp. 150-160. Print <— Delves into the advantages and tools of Web 2.0 (i.e. the web as a source of hyperlink realism, or web of information that spreads beyond a single webpage or article), how it affects cyber social communities, and in effect, blogging

One response so far

Oct 06 2010

Dictee post

Published by under Uncategorized

“The tongue that is forbidden is your own mother tongue. You speak in the dark. In the secret. The one that is yours. Your own. You speak very softly, you speak in a whisper. In the dark, in secret. Mother tongue is your refuge. It is being home. Being who you are. Truly. To speak makes you sad. Yearning. To utter each word is a privilege you risk by death. Not only for you but for all. All of you who are one, who by law tongue tied forbidden of tongue”

This passage is first and foremost, a framed depiction of a daughter’s mother. One may imagine how only someone who knows someone this intimately could assume such mastery over detail. However, this too, of course, could just be an overarching exposition on the part of Cha. After all, if her mother did not speak of it in her own words, it is largely the interpretation of Cha, isn’t it? Regardless, the work itself is not her mother’s, but Cha’s. It certainly gives the text a more intimate feel. The emotional attachment is clearly depicted through the intimacy of the prose. It’s almost poetic in a sense, in the amount of detail and time one assumes she would have taken to frame her mother’s life this way.

The diction that Cha uses is quite minimalist. She doesn’t bother to separate her thoughts, for example, in the last few words of the quote: “who by law tongue tied forbidden of tongue”, Cha doesn’t seem to care if the syntax is grammatically correct, so long as the though prevails. And it does – the words flow into one another, both in text, and in thought. By choosing not to separate them by punctuation, they share a closer space to one another, and the way I see it, connects their intertwined meaning even more. The symbolism of a tongue – the mother language – becoming a source of identity which one cherishes is so raw in utter emotion. You can almost feel the difficulty in her mother’s choice to not speak her language, in fear of death, yet also how she needed to expel the longing to speak it at the same time. The struggle is clearly depicted, despite the apparent “lack” of punctuation.

The meaning here is similar in the way it is in other parts of the book. The images of darkness, secrets, and finding the self, the home, the yearning for the wholeness that is lost in the dark of daylight because of outer forces. The fact that it is in second-person makes it seem more intimate, and all the more so, because it is almost a letter to someone who reads it, while also being something she seems to be saying to her mother as well. It’s like knowing her mother fully, yet still choosing to add to what her mother knows from her own perspective – a never ending relationship. Who knows? I forget if her mother was dead when she wrote this. You certainly can’t tell from how she places it, now can you?

3 responses so far

Oct 06 2010

Potential Topic

Published by under Uncategorized

I’m geared towards writing about blogging as a form of art that expresses the spirit of autobiography. The difficulty that lies in writing about blogging as a form of autobiography is that over 50% of the time, weblogs are not accurate in terms of recounting the daily lives of their authors – weblogs, which are basically journals online, are sometimes used as a venting space to experience a certain catharsis that accompanies the writing of something that is possibly read by some random stranger on the web, and also the possibility that it is one of the countless unread threads that compose of the internet multiverse. The critical writing about blogs would not be too hard to find, but finding an example that can be true to the definition of both blog and autobiography may prove to be more difficult that one may imagine. Currently, I’m looking into a novel called Train Man, which is an edited 53-day thread on an anonymous forum called 2ch about a nerdy geek finding a love interest then asking for advice on the net. The story is purportedly true, but finding the “Train Man” in question has been a fruitless endeavor for most, and though the factual thread does exist, the reality of it all is that it can’t be proven. I could always take a “Tim O’Brien” spin on it and consider the novel to be true to both the author, and the people who’ve accepted the story as a pseudo-reality (it’s been made into a movie, a tv drama, manga [japanese comic book series], and drama cd). The tension when writing about web-based truth is that the truth is never completely real, and is always subject to the artistic imprint of the author. It’s both art and literature at times, because the text is real, but the authenticity is always subject to questioning, and therefore is only as real as the author can make it seem (I believe this is due to the mindset that you shouldn’t believe EVERYTHING that’s on the internet – both an old adage and a generation now mindset). I think that delving into the topic of this tension would make a pretty good paper. What do you guys think? If I can’t, I might go into something else in the next week. Perhaps something on Graphic Novels or Confessional Poetry?

2 responses so far

Next »

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar