Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Harry Noden's Five Basic Brush Strokes:
1. The participle/participial phrase: Lounging lazily, the cat watched the mouse.
2. The absolute: Tail switching, the cat watched the mouse.
3. The appositive: The cat, an insipid lounger, watched the mouse.
4. Adjectives shifted out of order: The cat, indolent and sleek, watched the mouse.
5. Action verbs: Surveying his domain, the cat examined each food offering.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
So it wasn't only curiosity. And it wasn't only guilt. In retrospect, I wonder if it wasn't a final admission to feeling very much at loss with the world at large and America in particular. In reading a history of philosophy, perhaps I hoped to find not necessarily answers, but rather questions that would help me settle into my own.
Sophie's World is not a book for answers. Or at least easy answers. Of course, Reagan said that there were no easy answers, just simple ones. And we must have the courage to do what we know to be morally right. Those are reassuring words, indeed. Truth be known, however, there were Greek philosophers who would have agreed whole-heartedly with him.
As I finished the last words on the last page tonight, I found myself already plotting my second reading of the book, replete with a much larger copy and a journal for keeping notes. I've contemplated taking the book apart at the binding, punching it for a 3-ring binder, much like Sophie & Hilde had, and going on from there. Certainly highlighters and post-it notes are a must.
On the other hand, I've been meaning to read We the Living for some time now. And, in a way, as it is but a continuation of the history of philosophy via a fictional journey, I'll have remained true to the ideal of searching for answers.
Here lies the Royal Rug, where his majesty spends an inordinate amount of time. Whenever the words "outside" are muttered, he races to his rug, sprawls upon it, and pretends that he is in the middle of a thorough washing. Here he is studiously ignoring the tiny pink and white mouse lying beside him in case excessive movement earns him banishment to the outdoors.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Three Not-Quite-Non Sequiturs:
I remember my high school English teacher telling us that in order to break form you need to understand and be capable of the original form. In specific, she was speaking of the sonnet. Shakespeare was perfectly capable of penning a perfect sonnet. He did so. Therefore, when he deviated from the format, using a spondee instead of a iamb, he did it with full intention and purpose.
This taught me to look at the concept of rebellion in a new light: In order to truly rebel, one must first understand and be fully capable of performing, thinking, doing, etc, whatever it is one is rebelling against. (After all, it's only lashing out against your infirmities otherwise or fighting against someone else's beliefs, neither of which are truly rebellious in nature.) And secondly, rebellion without a purpose is stupidity personified.
When applied to writing, then, it seems that in order to pen something new and fresh and thought-provoking one needs to become a student of the masters. Without an understanding of the accepted form(s), how can one make playful references to the past or purposeful breaks from essential truths?
All this is to say that I'm contemplating the purchase of the Harvard Classics, originally known as Dr. Eliot's Five Foot Shelf. Of course, owning said books and actually reading them are two different things, I acknowledge, but Dr. Eliot promises that in just "fifteen minutes a day" I can obtain all the elements of a liberal education.
In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. --George Orwell
Monday, November 10, 2008
- Contemporary setting suitable for readers ages 12 to 18;
- Manuscripts should be 100 to 224 typed, double-spaced pages;
- Include a cover page with title, author, address, and phone number;
- Submit in padded envelope; Include SASE for notification only.
- No simultaneous submissions;
- Authors may submit up to two manuscripts to the competition.
Send Manuscripts to:
Delacorte Press Contest
Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10019
Saturday, November 8, 2008
In my combating elitism post, I indicated that certain self-entitled "educated elites" are tedious and self-important. Stu rebutted with the observation that there are those who disdain all educated individuals as lacking common sense. I think both statements contain truth. However, MacDonald's essay reveals that education lies not within a degree but within reading.
While Socrates writes, "The life unexamined is not worth living," Meyer observes that "the life unexamined is the life unlived" (26). It is only through examining and drawing relationships between and contemplating and discussing and mulling over ideas that we truly come to life. "Complex ideas and complex relationships are not transmitted by body language, by brainstorming sessions, by the boob tube or the boom box. You cannot turn back the pages of a television show and review a part you did not quite understand. You cannot carry conversations around in your coat pocket" (25). While technological advances of the last decade have changed the literal truth of MacDonald's claim, the philosophical truth is inescapable. As a stereotypical whole, we tend to eschew the complex and embrace the simple.
This is glaringly evident in MacDonald's final warning to the nonreaders of our nation. Although I have not verified the figure, Meyer quotes an article in Psychology Today, saying that, "sixty million Americans, one out of three adults...cannot read well enough to understand a help-wanted ad" (25). Epidemic illiteracy is devastating not only because of what it means to our economy or our status in the world or the future of our children, but especially because of the multiplying impact it has upon every aspect of our lives, from the minutiae to the enormous. "The nonreader in our culture, Travis, wants to believe. He is the one born every minute. The world is so vastly confusing and baffling to him that he feels there has to be some simple answer to everything that troubles him" (32).
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Because of who I am, I find myself downright irked by high-faluting, self-indulgent, I-am-the-center-of-the-universe, hoity-toity elitists.
You find them everywhere, it seems.
1. I'm consciously avoiding politics, but does it ever occur to anyone that our elected officials (on both sides of the aisle) run roughshod over us? They exempt themselves but demand our last drop of blood, our last half-penny.
The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. --Ayn Rand
2. The anti-NaNoWriMo crowd has been none-too-gentle with their derision and contempt of those of us who choose to Nano it up this November. Of course, I'm with Voltaire: they certainly have the right to their own opinion, but gracious! the hatred, the vitriolic sputtering... the moral superiority! On the other hand, it could be part of a diabolic plan to spike their blog ratings! (Whyever didn't I think of that?!)
3. Certain individuals within the education realm who consider a "degree" the final word on intelligence seem to forget that much of what life teaches lies outside of the ivory tower. And many educators have even forgotten the purpose of a liberal education within American culture: "Traditional liberal education constituted both a rich body of knowledge and a deep habit of mind, a set of disciplines and a set of practices, one leavening the other, to the creation of intellectual culture and the ennobling of Western culture at large." --David M. Whalen
4. Will the press never be held accountable for their shameless mis-education of the American people? "Hastiness and superficiality -- these are the psychic disease of the twentieth century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press; it is contrary to is nature. The press merely picks out sensational formulas." --Alexander Solzhenitsyn
5. In tolerating the intolerant, I try to practice what I preach: I may actively disagree with many an opinion, but I believe every individual is entitled to that opinion. It saddens me when groups of people believe that they are above their own law of tolerance. I think what they really believe is that everyone needs to be tolerant of their ideologies, but they -- in their cozy superiority -- have no need to tolerate anyone else's view.