Monday, January 31, 2011

Dostoevsky Mondays

Being behind on my independent study of Dostoevsky's The Adolescent, I have decided that Monday, being our culture's most dreaded day of the week, shall become "study day".  This will not last long, I'm sure; however, free time is killing me right now and I need to have some kind of helps that we've moved play rehearsal to Monday morning, at least I get that drama high to carry me through.

Finished Bakhtin's The Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, the staple formalist work of criticism touching on Dostoevsky's work.  Bakhtin focuses on Dostoevsky's use of the idea in a polyphonic world (meaning that the author allows his characters to have thoughts and ultimately ideological viewpoints uncoloured by his own personal standpoint - the events and conversations are not biased towards reaching a didactic end).  An idea in Dostoevsky's artistic vision is indistinguishable from the person carrying that idea - Bakhtin uses the example of Christ as the word/idea in the flesh.  This organic inclusion of so many viewpoints in Dostoevsky's novels lead to the "great dialogues": telling conversations between vastly different, but equally valued, viewpoints.

A quote of interest from Dostoevsky himself:
"It is not enough to define morality as fidelity to one's own convictions.  One must continually pose oneself the question: are my convictions true? Only one verification of them exists - Christ."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hooray, there is nothing new under the sun

So that story I was ranting about...yeah, she had never even seen Stranger Than Fiction.  Is this proof of the collective social consciousness theory?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Editing Blues and Reds and Greens...

The class I was most looking forward to this semester was Creative Writing: Short Fiction.  So far, it has been a lovely course with literary discussion and reading a plenty.  Also exciting, someone back from when I was 12 happens to be in the same class - reality is stranger than fiction at times. Actually, I think much of the time. Anyways, we got our first batch of manuscripts last Thursday - it's a workshop class, so every week a different group of people submit their short stories for the rest of the class to take home and look over, with the idea that when we reconvene the discussion will be focused on each of the stories; some are afraid people aren't going to be critical enough of their work, but with a cynical satirist, a psychologist, and an outspoken gamer in the group, I don't think that'll be an issue.It has been bliss, looking these stories over.  I really do think editing fiction is one of my callings in life.  It's a safe place to have an opinion, an opinion that matters and is working towards making people better writers and making sure that the fiction getting out there is of solid quality.And then there are stories like this one.  A good friend of mine wrote it.  I had never read their work before, and was looking forward to hearing their literary voice.  But horror of horrors, as I read through, I was reminded more and more of an already extant version of the same story.  Could it be they had, not plagerized, but extensively borrowed from this story? And the character of most interest is thrown away with no explanation.  It made me sad, to say the least.  But, with any kind of creative process, there are up days and down days, and I am of the opinion that this person was writing this the night before and for lack of material tried to write a satirical commentary on the other story that didn't quite come across. Possible, yes. In any case, our class meets tonight to discuss the manuscripts and get a new slew of texts!  I suspect I'll be up late tonight reading them, and getting my own story ready for next week...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Change ~ by Brittni Ann Carey

Downtown drudge - January thaw
young woman, mustard dress, boots
watching pigeons making nests behind billboards

                    A voice asks her for change.

An open face, brogue, work clothes
out of work, and stranded

                             Not enough for bus fare
                             Empties her change purse, silver, copper
                             her free/necessary action enrichens him

               Both go with water in their fingers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Generic Thought

Blogs are annoying.  Not blogs themselves, perhaps, but the style that always seems to be inherent in them.  Perhaps it is because the audience is so vague, absent almost - at least with articles and books, there's a connection, foldable pages and paper smells.  Maybe not so much anymore.

I don't know why I write, if it really matters.  And I'm not saying that to collect comments.  Here I try to say things that are relevant, maybe inspiring, or simply random.  And all the time, there's a shadow of narcissism that appalls me, a pretentious word structure - can't sift it out.  Because that's how I've been treating this, the online outlet of my failed ambitions.

This needs to become something different, but I don't know what yet... 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sweeping Realization

I think I came to an important realization today.

I was sweeping up some run away coffee beans.  The roaster is a rich red, the kind of tone that reminds you of childhood wagons and fire trucks, set on a diveted silver floor. The bristles of the broom ran over it, catching the roasted beans and making them jump onto the hardwood and into the dust pan.  I love the smell of coffee.  It fills the shop, my clothes, the empty spaces.  It's something organic, yet fantastic, a yearning for tribal forests and Colombian sunsets.

But, the realization was something I wanted to hold closer and articulate more to test its truth.  I've always been appalled at the thought of passing judgement on others.  Because of this, I often shy away from making definitive statements about people, really looking at their character.  I confuse assumptions with understanding.  But yet, "what a work is man" - complex and only nearly graspable.  I learned long ago that to live in the world, you have to expect the unexpected from people. That way, you're never surprised. 

Understanding is not passing judgement.  It's striving to see something the way it is, truly and deeply.  And truth in its unblemished form is worth pursuing; only in the twistings and perversions of it are we judging others.  Take the plank out of your own eye so you can better see to take the speck out of your brother's eye.  That's what quietly went through my mind today as I was sweeping.