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"Life, Like Literature, is a Leaky Bag"

I had a mysterious morning right out of a SciFi/horror movie, like "Quiet World" or "28 Days Later". My alarm actually managed to wake me up this morning, so I went to go check on Nikki and Anna and see how they're doing. No one there. I went outside. No one in sight. I went to the ground floor. No one in the lecture, lounge, or dining area. So the question of the morning is, of course, "Where is everyone?" At least Vass and his angels were up or else I wouldn't have been able to get into the ground level of the building.

I was quite the little ray of sunshine this morning. No, no wait, I kicked the little ray of sunshine's arse this morning. I was splendidly tired and cranky, and freaking out that I'd somehow got the day wrong, the time wrong, and everyone had left on an excursion without me. [sarcasm] Lovely bloody morning. [/sarcasm] I should have slept in longer. Cold this morning, too. I should have worn long sleeves. [sarcasm] Lovely, lovely morning. [/sarcasm]

I don't do mornings.

So I didn't actually lose all sense of time; people trickled in to breakfast like molasses in January, or a parade of turtles. Breakfast discussion with Wally, Noonie, and Maira (because they're the ones responsible enough to get up early) was about jury duty, after which I can conclude that NYC is scary, and Wally is, and I quote, "bad ass." Noonie and I wax rhapsodic about wanting to do our civic duty, and Wally tells stories about the crazy, scary things that happen in New York City.

Jennie greeted me with a disgustingly cheery "Good morning!" just because she's like that. If I didn't adore the girl, I'd hate her for being so happy in the morning hours.

"Adjective," I spat at her.

"Excuse me?"

"I don't agree with your adjective usage. I'll grant you that it's morning, but good...?"

"Okay. Fine." She gave me a hug and a still very cheery greeting of "Bad morning!" Strange and wonderful girl, that Jennie.

Spent the rest of the morning trying not to fall asleep during great lectures. What am I going to do in college? I'm certainly not going to get any more sleep in college, but there are going to be plenty of interesting lectures in college... Perhaps this is college-prep in Tiredness Management.

We've had another visit from the beloved Dr. Clerici, with whom I have a tutorial scheduled later, and now I know all about Romanticism! Ooh. I can say intelligent things about Wordsworth, Bryon, Blake, and Keats. Go me.

Programme Notebook Entry:

In Dr. Margaret Clerici's lecture, "Romanticism," we were presented with a basic 101 on this artistic concept. I am beginning to understand that most artistic movements were reactionary, or at least in response (in some way) to the time period. Romanticism was a response to the Industrial Revolution. I think (or rather hypothesize) that Romanticism was born out of cynicism, looking back nostalgically at "better times" in the past, and romanticizing those times. Ah, the joys of language. But was Romanticism protesting this modern cynicism, taking a sharp left turn from its mother? I think it was, for there is always modern cynicism, and thus the neo-romanticism to fight against it.



During the morning break, we had our tea and coffee and biscuits, and John the Over-Educated Gardener relented to giving us programmers rides in his little gardener cart (£2 for five minutes). I stood at the sliding glass door and photo-documented the experience, because that is what I do. Dr. Clerici stood beside me and remarked that this is childhood.

"What, getting rides in the gardener's motor cart?" I asked.

"Yes, that's exactly what childhood is," she reiterated.

And then there was a lecture on literature. Ooh! It's lectures like these that make me very happy to be a LitKid. And this doctor guy was fabulous. Dr. Peter McDonald. I will take away his definition of literature and carry it with me forever. "Literature is a leaky bag." I find that the quote warrants no explanation, as explaining it makes it less funny.

Also, I love his definition of poetry: justified left-hand margin, unjustified right-hand margin. I need to remember that for my writing group next year.

Over all, through the entire lecture, I was just so happy that I knew all the terms he was using. And he wrote all about the William Carlos Williams poem that I love! ("This Is Just To Say" -- the one about the plums.) Another quote of McDonald's brilliance: "Perhaps the plums are problematic!" He goes on to make an argument for the poem being a Forbidden Fruit metaphor, very Eden-like, and I just about died of glee, squealing in my seat. I love poetry analysis. I'm in my field for a reason.

I am getting rather tired of all these "What is art?" lectures, but I really did love this one. Yes, the idea of "What is literature?" can be tiresome, but the professor was just so charming in his delivery of the ideas. "I hope you've acquired a new sense of ignorance as to what is literature," he concluded, absolutely charming. I made sure to get his picture. (I'm going to be in so much trouble when I get to college, falling in love with all of my professors.)

Programme Notebook Entry:

In Dr. Peter McDonald's lecture, "What is literature?" (another "What is art?"-type discussion) the group was posed this question and guided on an exploration of various examples -- guided by Dr. McDonald, that is. One of these examples was William Carlos William's poem, "This is Just to Say" -- the famed note-on-the-fridge-about-the-plums poem, and perhaps the epitome of the question, "Does this actually mean anything?" It's this question that fascinates me, because it examines the human ability to create meaning, which I believe is a crucial aspect of literature (on the reader's side). An author rarely explains his or her work, and for good reason. For there to be a definitive answer as to the author's intent and meaning would eliminate the reader's opportunity for interpretation. That's what I think the International Baccalaureate program has genuinely gotten right -- it's approach to literary analysis. It's not about having a "right" or a "wrong" interpretation, but a well-supported interpretation. If you can support that the plum poem is actually about Eve's transgression in Eden (fruit, guilt, forgiveness, transgression), then that's what it could be. It's not necessarily what it is, but what it could be. Art (for literature is art) is personal; it's individual, hence how there can be so many interpretations of one piece of literature. Art serves as an internal dialogue, where the art questions what you know or what you believe, and you question the art for meaning. This of course goes back to one of our original questions -- What is education? Is dialogue education? It can be, especially in terms of literature, but it's just between you and the art.



Lunch, and then back to the computer lab. Lucky for me, my tutorial's late in the day, so I get more time to polish it up. ...Or just, y'know, finish the essay, which I did, though a poor excuse of an essay it may be. But still! It's something, and it's done -- before my tutorial, at that!

I wandered around for a little while, waiting for my tutorial time-slot to roll around. Outside, Maddie was discussing Tom Hardy with John, the over-educated gardener. Inside, both Farah and Risa were asleep in the lounge, so I did what any good teenage friend would do: I took silly pictures of them.

Still with about fifteen minutes to go, I sat by the elevator and waited to be summoned by Dr. Clerici, reading up more on existentialism, which is deadly depressing, and definitely not encouraging if you're already feeling nervous or anxious about something.

Once in Dr. Clerici's room, huddled in my chair opposite her and trying to hide behind my papers and notebooks, my Extended Essay is finally starting to take shape, Thank God. I've finally hit a centralized idea: identity and food symbolism. Things are finally starting to come together. Though, for the greater part of the hour, I merely struggled to find intelligent things to say. Dr. Clerici kept saying, over and over, "And so...?" and how badly I just wanted to give up analyzing and say, "And so that's it!"

Best Quote of Today's Tutorial: "You can't bloody well have any jam!" And I don't think anyone actually uses the word "foodstuffs" in normal conversation. And despite how far of a stretch it is, I love the idea of "Off with her head!" being a rejection of cerebral Cartesian philosophy.

Upon exiting Dr. Clerici's room and returning to the outside world (breathing the air that tastes a little fresher, since that moment is the moment farthest from my next tutorial), I joined Noonie, Brian, and Mike, who were all sitting on the flower-box-benches outside. I walked in on the conversation just as Mike (who I have recently learned is actually of Armenian descent) was saying, "It's the tango, Ms. Noonan. It's a provocative dance." I can only really imagine what prompted a statement like that.

Mike is apparently really starting to freak Noonan out, doing things like connecting her freckles and using bad, bad pick up lines.

Mike: So, did it hurt?

Noonie: ...did what hurt?

Mike: When you fell from Heaven.

Everyone: *groans*

In other news in the world of the boys, Fred threw a water balloon at Mike'n'Brian, violating the agreement of Friday Fights. Water balloons were reserved for Friday Fights, and as it is Tuesday, this is an obvious violation.

Mike is an interesting character. One of the L.A. boys, he's probably who you'd call the most "ghetto" of all our male programmers. He's got the ghetto-speak down, at least. ...But he's not really ghetto; it's impossible for a boy who goes to a private school in L.A. to be "ghetto," and it's easy to call him out on this.

Mike: Acting ghetto-gangster is so fun.

Brian: Thank God you're not wearing your loafers, Gangsta Boy. Might cramp your style.

Brian's always such a wit. He's taken to mocking his tutor, an ethnic graduate student of anthropology who those apparent, extensive travels have allowed him to commune with the animals of the Amazon, even the jaguars. Not the cars, the large cat animals. Obviously, the comedy writes itself. Sayings like "I'd love for you to speak jaguar to me..." are only all too easy.

Inside the Maplethorpe building, Ms. Wallace was receiving post. The Salisbury custom-ordered shirts came in today! A few of us banded together and decided to have group tee-shirts made, so we could really be tourist nerds (like the Japanese tourists with matching back-packs at Stonehenge!). They read:

got schedüle?
TALKING ROT
OXFORD 2006

Yeah, we were trying to phonetically spell the way Dr. Speck pronounces the word "schedule," though if we did it properly, it'd be more like "SHED'yule." It's just that we like umlats. We're so nerdy; we're planning to wear them on the next excursion, and to give Dr. Speck a shirt as a gift from all of us to him.

After that, a group of us (Brian, Ryan, Mike and I, led by Noonie) set off on an ATM adventure because all we have is money in coins, which is much too foreign for us Americans. We need bills. While on the walk, I was filled in on the funny things that have occurred recently while I'm not around. For example, one night in the computer lab, Dr. Speck came in to lecture everyone about late-night etiquette of being quiet, or, as Speck put it, "lowering the decibels," to which Ryan promptly responded, "Dr. Speck, the decibels will be so low that crickets won't be able to hear us," which, if you actually think about it, makes absolutely no sense, but that's Ryan for you.

Also, in the infinite wisdom that is Ryan, he has informed us all that at the next Italian party, "we're gonna have to get NASTY." I'm not exactly sure what "getting nasty" involves, but I'm already apprehensive.

In other news, we saw a dead bird on the sidewalk as we turned onto the main street. In fact, we saw it twice, once when we walked into town, and once again when we returned to St. Hugh's. I'm not sure what significance this holds on anything, but since I felt it necessary to mark down its presence in my pocket notebook (the notebook in which I use as notes for these entries), I thought I should say something about it. There was a dead bird on the sidewalk on the main drag, much like the newspaper headline "BEAR ELIMINATES BOWEL CONTENTS IN WOODS."

At dinner, Noonie asked me how I thought my tutorial went. I told her I wasn't sure, and that I thought it didn't go over very well, to which Noonie responded that Dr. Clerici had told Noonie that I, in fact, had a good tutorial. My spirits lifted immediately. As simple and obvious as it seems, it's nice and endorphin-inducing to have adults pat you on the head about things you, the silly little minor, care about.

The symbolism of food and existence in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland -- how did I end up with this topic? What made me think that this topic was at all worthy of being classified as part of the field of academia? Though, it must amuse Dr. Clerici somewhat, for, at dinner, as she passed my table, she waved a spoon at me and said, "Hayley! Remember! Eat Me!" She seemed much tickled by the Alice reference. Eat Me. Symbolism of eating, what my topic was becoming. And we were eating dinner. Ha. Haha. English humour, perhaps? Yes, with the extra 'u'.

Dinner discussion was mainly dominated by the bit of news that the pound has finally, just today, reached two, cout 'em, TWO dollars in exchange. We all weep at this financial tragedy. Shopping is a pain enough as it is, especially when you actually know how much you're spending, which is now double what meets the eye. Woe, woe, woe.

In addition, there has been an itching to go to George & Davis -- G&D's, for short -- the ice cream shop to get Irish coffee ice cream milkshakes, which are apparently a new particular favorite of Nikki. So after dinner, a group of us made the trek down to Little Clarendon Street, a chorus of "I've got a love-a-ly bunch of coconuts, diddle dee dee" breaking out along the way, don't ask me how. Brian & Ryan make a very interesting singing duo. Also, don't ask me what paper crane fights are either. It's apparently another Ryan thing I've missed out on.

Talking with Ms. Noonan as we licked at our ice cream cones, I have come up with a theory. Take any group of teenage girls and place them in an unfamiliar location, as soon as the location starts to become familiar, the teenage girls will revert to their instinctual high school mode in their interactions with the rest of the group, determining which of the girls are suitable for friendship, which of the girls aren't, which of the girls you pretend that you're friends with, but secretly dislike, which of the boys you like, and which of the boys you like. It's truly astounding. We cross the Atlantic, and we didn't get away from high school.

On a lighter note, the Spanish-speaking among our group (namely Brian & Ryan) have decided to create their own Spanish verb. Noonar. It means "to be addicted to coffee." Thus, in conjugation:

yo noono -- I am addicted to coffee

tú noonas -- you are addicted to coffee

él/ella/usted noona -- he/she/you (formal) are addicted to coffee

nosotros noonamos -- we are addicted to coffee

vosotros noonáis -- you-all are addicted to coffee

ellos/ellas/ustedes noonan -- they are addicted to coffee

Ms. Noonan was much amused by this. Ella noona, you know. Hence, the verb.

As we walked home, we ran into Nikki & Anna and the some of the other surrounding girls going to G&D's as we were leaving G&D's. Ice cream traffic, you know. And just as we were turning onto the smaller streets to go back to the college, we saw Stephen, Risa's tutor, across the street. He shouted at us that we were going to be late for the improv class if we didn't get back to the college soon, but he was the one who ended up being late. Ha.

In the subsequent discussion of tutors, it has arisen in conversation that Joe, Farah and Mike's graduate student tutor, is a dick. That is all I know at this time, but I feel compelled to report it.

Back at the college, sated and happy with dinner and G&D's ice cream in our stomachs, we had fun playing TheatreSports, but it made me a little homesick, though why I would be homesick for TheatreSports competitions to run, I have no idea. It was fun anyhow.

At bedtime, I headed up to my room, but saw that Nikki and Anna hadn't returned to their room, so I sought them out in Andrea's room, which has become the communal Hang Out area among the programmers. What I found there was a sleepover with not only Andrea, Nikki, and Anna, but also Farah, Risa, and Jennie (though Jennie didn't stay the whole night; she left around midnight to sleep in her own bed).

Once they saw me at the door, I was invited to join in the festivities. We all clambered around on the duvet covers padding the floor, laying on our stomachs and gossiping in various languages (mostly French and Spanish, making Andrea and Nikki the queens of gossip, for they understood both), but there wasn't much gossip to be had. Nothing's really happened yet. No sparks have flown yet, though we're rubbing the flint between our fingers in our pockets.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2007 01:32 am (UTC)
and then she wrote more....
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
so mad!! where was this interpretation of literature when i was writing my bloody tok paper on... does lit convey the truth?!?!? love you anyways though. good night.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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