One Last Thing Before I Quit

December 8, 2010

So, the end of the class hangs near.  In all the time that we’ve had, it adds up to almost two days worth of group discussion of literature.  Admittedly my transportation arrangements have made it a bit spotty attendence-wise and my blogging has been sporadic, but a decent run.  The question lingers though: what the fuck do I, or does anyone else taking the class, have to show for all this?

We were warned that the first half of the class was “The Canon,” the literature approved by scholars to be of some value to the academic world.  This shit’s supposedly worth our time reading and pondering.  We were also warned that it might be difficult to deal with.  Me, I dug it mostly.  Heart of Darkness is always a favorite, though I stand by my opinion of Eliot being a pretentious and melodramatic twat.  The Sun Also Rises was also a pretty cool guy, eh talks like a child and doesn’t afraid of anything.  All in all, not too bad.  I wouldn’t read any of this because of its endorsement by that dude from Masterpiece Theatre but it wasn’t as painful as the professor made it out to be.

Next, we had the uncharted stuff that the professor added to the syllabus in order to shake things up.  More contemporary works that are widely studied, but are the “gnostic” books of the course in the sense that they aren’t books with a legacy.  Of note was Obama’s memoir, which regardless of your politics is a pretty interesting story.  Of all the promises that he made on the campaign trail, his promise to be a person of the people seems most tangible in his writing.  If you didn’t know it was the president, you’d almost be inspired to think that even a mouth breather like you could write something worth reading! Persepolis was an interesting look at what’s gone on in a part of the world that gets no sympathy from most people.  Hopefully it’s expanded at least someone in the class’s mind and opened them up to the political plight that every nation potentially faces with an extremist government.  Faulkner’s story was alright, too.  A canon book in the second half of the course, but held up as well as anything.

I think that the expectation that the canon would lose the class, at least for me, is someone a very generalized statement.  Both parts of the class had their ups and downs, but I personally had a preference for the first books we read.  I don’t say that because of their place in history, but rather because they transcend history.  There’s an intangible qualilty about the stories, an intricacy that they have that seems to run deeper than some of the latter stuff.  Yes, Persepolis is moving, but from a purely literary perspective I think that Kurtz’ death is much more striking due to the fact that it lacked pictures, making the very nature of the character as mysterious to the reader as it is to Marlow.

I don’t pay the history of the books any mind, to be honest, but to me the older works evoke more of a mood than the newer ones.  Is this because books like Dreams from My Father and Drown were written in an age where pictures have become so ubiquitous that even telephones and Barbie dolls have cameras? Or is it because Conrad and Hemmingway are simply better writers? I don’t really know, to be honest.

I’m not quite sure that anybody who asks questions in the literary world ever really knows the answer, or hopes to find one.  These things I ask because, yes, this class has in some small way changed how I think about literature.  It has opened my mind to different writers, works, and perspectives.  The blog, as much of a pain in the ass as it was and will forever be to me, was an unfiltered way for me to share my (admittedly sometimes tactless) thoughts.  The class reflected these sentiments, in that questions and opinions were raised but conclusion was seldom found.  That’s the wonderful thing about literature, though: it is always going on, even when you close the book.  You write essays in the present tense when you talk about these stories because the issues and themes presented in them never stop.  They’re on-going intellectual challenges to scholars and newcomers alike.  Everyone has their own opinion on what literature is or what a book is about, and no one opinion is right.  This class has made me realize that though I am an English major and will always be wrestling with the words on a page, I don’t need to expect conclusions for everything I read or think because of the text.  Nobody needs to have answers in literature, only ideas to be shared and compared.

Also, in closing, I say this song best sums up T.S. Eliot:
“Pink Cellphone” by Deftones

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4 Responses to “One Last Thing Before I Quit”

  1.   Kirsten Says:

    But I hate literature that has no answers! (It makes my brain hurt too much and causes too much frustration for me to appreciate it) I mean, Hitch Hickers’ Guide to the Galaxy has a crummy ending but at least they tell you the damn answer is 42!!

    Anyway, I am reminded once again of why I decided to become a math major.

    Commenting to see how this affects your grade!!!

  2.   pmiss100 Says:

    See math doesn’t work for me since there’s “is” and “isn’t”, without much space for “might be” or “might not be”. Granted, music is based in math and I’ve found ways to fudge that to my advantage.

    Thanks for the comment! Take a look around, see what else goes on.

  3.   beverly gross Says:

    good question: how will this affect your grade

  4.   About Onno Vocks Says:

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you need to publish more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t talk about these subjects. To the next! Best wishes!!

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