7 Quick Takes Friday (3/7/14)

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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…

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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?

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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)

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source: One of my students drew this! See the lightning storm? And all the crazy prophetic events happening on the upper right? And Casca freaking out in the bottom left? So, so good.

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source: Another student! Here are the strange, prophetic signs in much more detail. Caesar will notice all of these and decide whether or not he wants to go to work on the Ides of March…

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source: Another student! A very nice summary of the discussion taking place between Casca and Cassius.

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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)

And, further:

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.

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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)

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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.

Hemingway

“Write drunk, edit sober.” – Hemingway

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)

Source: http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm

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?

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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?

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Archbishop Gregory Amond’s Letter in response to a special request. Diocese of New Orleans.
source: Catholic News Agency

Read it all here.

Happy Lenten Friday! Enjoy your alligator!

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4 Comments

Filed under Literature, Teaching, Uncategorized

4 responses to “7 Quick Takes Friday (3/7/14)

  1. haha — I would totally say alligator is safe. . . if you’re brave enough to eat it God and Jesus are just impressed!

  2. RE: #6

    I’ve noticed the same disparity between posts that take the most effort and posts that get the most attention, but I’d attribute it to something else. It seems to me like there’s (at least) two kinds of writing, or, perhaps, two kinds of writing a blog post: figuring out what you think about something, and expressing thoughts you’ve had for a long time.

    With the latter, the writing happens quickly, almost effortlessly, not because you’re “inspired,” but because you already know what to say. And because you know exactly what to say, it’s exceptionally clear and engaging for the audience.

    With the former, it takes a long time, because you’re not sure what to say, and the audience doesn’t always know what to make of what you end up writing, because the “why this matters” can often go missing. For you, the writer, after all, one of the reasons it matters most is that you don’t know what you think about it and want to find out, but the confusion probably doesn’t grip the reader with equivalent strength.

    At least, this reflects a lot of my experience blogging. YMMV.

  3. Francis Philip

    RE: “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.”

    Perhaps I have an answer for you here:

    What you write quickly is inspired; God labors for you. For this to happen, you must be docile.

    What you write laboriously is not inspired; you struggle on your own. When this happens, it is because you are more willful.

  4. Francis Philip

    I am impressed with your students’ drawing talents. Very good!

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