7 Quick Takes Friday (3/7/14)
My twin sister is coming to visit me for the next week! I am so excited! Perhaps I will bring her in for show-and-tell at school…
Something to meditate upon during Lent.
Whatever your views on the violence in Syria or what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, I think this video is very beautiful and very powerful. So often we take for granted that certain parts of the world are experiencing violence–in some vague, other-worldly kind of way. But what if it were happening here? Or what if it were happening in a country we don’t usually think of as war-torn?
Here are some samples of my students’ recent work on Julius Caesar. The assignment was to draw a cartoon of Act 1, Scene 3.
(Click them to enlarge)
Speaking of old, classic literature that was written such a long time ago in weird language I don’t understand and which cannot possibly be “relevant” to my life now, Ms. Shea…
A UD student has a wonderful article over at Public Discourse: “A Rational Defense of the Humanities” by Antonio Sosa.
A taste or two:
Here, Sosa summarizes not only the arguments of scholars like Rebecca Schuman, but also of some of my own beloved high school sophomores who grumble about having to plod through Shakespeare:
More than being simply obsolete, the thought of previous times is thus seen as unintelligible and hence inaccessible in any meaningful way; only the thought of the present, of our time and our concerns, is intelligible and hence only the thought of the present can be studied seriously. In other words, the study of humanistic thought is ideological by definition. (Sosa, via Public Discourse)
By this line of reasoning, Macbeth, for example, cannot guide us with respect to the problem of tyranny. Macbeth cannot teach us what is always true concerning the problem of tyranny as it is found in disparate moments across human history, but only what was true relative to a particular moment in history, i.e., Shakespeare’s moment.
On the basis of this view, the study of Macbeth should indeed be neglected in favor of more contemporary works. Or, if it is to be read, it should be studied in light of the recognition that the value of what it has to teach is obsolete. (Ibid)
Okay, I should stop before quoting you the whole article, but one last quote that reminds me a lot of G. K. Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead”:
If the greatest works of literature cannot emancipate man from his historical parochialism, then the greatest works of literature are merely the greatest statements of historical parochialism. Rather than study literature in order to acquire breadth of perspective, and so learn to distinguish the ephemeral problems that concern certain men at certain places from the fundamental problems that concern man everywhere and always, we would study literature to become further confirmed in the views to which our particular time has predisposed us. (Ibid… GO READ IT)
And this is the narrow, limiting sort of “broad-minded” English class I would like to eradicate from the face of the earth.
Here is G. K. Chesterton’s “democracy of the dead” quote for you to ponder and enjoy:
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. (Chesterton, “The Ethics of Elfland,”Orthodoxy)
About my last post: If I Could Teach One Thing About Writing…
What I find really interesting is that so often, posts I spend a lot of time and labor over do not seem to resonate with people as much as posts (like that one) that I wrote rather quickly and did not revise or change very much. I wonder why that is.
It is true in my songwriting, too. I find that a song I write in 10 minutes is usually better appreciated by most people than a song I begin, and stop, and begin again months (or years) later and finally finish after a lot of agonizing.
I wonder if that phenomena has to do with what Flannery says about “the truth being in you.”
Now, don’t tell my students this, but…
… maybe too much editing and revising is a bad thing sometimes. Because then you rethink what you want to say, and you worry about “the message” you are sending, and you can be tempted to ignore whatever truth has miraculously bubbled up to the surface of your page without you really realizing it.
Of course, this would be contra to Hemingway’s dictum: “Write drunk, edit sober” or this interesting take on the art of writing:
Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.
(Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris ReviewInterview, 1956)
What do you think? Does revising sometimes inhibit the art of writing– or is it, as Hemingway seems to claim, itself the art of writing?
And this is a PERFECT ending to a 7 Quick Takes Friday in Lent, especially for someone who spent a little too much time in Louisiana:
Is it okay to eat alligator during Fridays of Lent? Does alligator count as fish or as meat?
Happy Lenten Friday! Enjoy your alligator!