Tag Archives: literature

fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

i forgot to say in my last post that i was chatting in german with a few native speakers at my conference at georgetown over the weekend, and one of them asked me where i was from, and she was shocked that i wasn’t a native speaker.  after, like, a lengthy conversation in german.  HUGE ego boost.  still occasionally floating from it, even though MA exam prep + homework + teaching + coping with life is right now making it so i can hardly string together sentences.  i am sometimes competent in my language, yay.

and last week it snowed, big fat fluffy flakes sticking on the grass, which would’ve been thrilling and white christmas-y in november or december, but in mid-march, it’s annoying.  luckily, a certain special someone braved the columbus drivers (who turn of their brains at the first sign of moisture, possibly for fear of short-circuiting) to come pick me up from school.  tonight and all day tomorrow, we’re supposed to get blustersome bad thunderstorms.  april showers bring may mugginess; welcome to ohio!

april, though!  9 more weeks of winter school.  a box from h’s parents, a box from my parents (my mom goes into hallmark to buy me a birthday card and inevitably emerges with beanie babies that were just too cute for her to pass up), and a card from the lovely miss a all arrived the morning of my birthday!  and i was sung to over the phone more than once, though never well.  and we made pizza for supper, and in some distant eventuality, i will make myself a cake.  meanwhile, extensive (3 times in 2 weeks) eating of frozen yogurt.

i met with some of my fellow MA-examinees on friday to go over practice questions, and i was by far the most prepared of those present, and found myself able to answer the questions pretty easily, despite the fact that german literature pre-1700 (actually, pre-1950 or so) isn’t really my bag, baby.  so that was also a boost in the direction of i know i can pass these exams, it’s just a question of to what quality, at this point.  and it will be okay.

i just reread “i am a little church”, and it was lovely and brought tears to my eyes, as always.

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just this…

1) i am so addicted to hadestown.  if you like folk music and haven’t heard it, you should.

2) potato and caramelized onion tart currently in the oven.  sprinkled with fresh sage.  house smells heavenly.  plus i made mine in my pretty fluted tart pan instead of as a free-form galette like it is in the recipe, which was very gourmet cook of me.

3) this makes me happy on so many geek-and-gayness levels:

Love is Love: Threadless tee

Love is Love. Note the wizard and the alien.

4) i spent all morning pounding away at my reading list for MA exams (t-minus 902 hours), and now have done all my medieval and early modern works except for poetry.  and then i read walter benjamin, and now my brain is broken.  plan of attack for the rest of the week (because if i post it here, i’ve committed to it, right?):
~wednesday: finish der schimmelreiter and walter benjamin outline
~thursday: make medieval and early modern poetry flashcards, make literary history flashcards
~friday: study all pre-1700 flashcards, start adorno texts and outlines

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if you liked it, then you shoulda put a jingle bell on it

the adventure of the cat hairball remedy: mal’s been coughing oddly for a couple of weeks now, and we thought it might be that he has dust in his throat from the heat system, or that he’s having a hard time hair-ball-ing.  we called the vet to ask about this, because we are Worried Cat Moms, and she said either it’s asthma (please don’t be asthma) or hairball-type irritation.
solution: tube of essentially brown, malt-flavored vaseline.  cat eats brown goo, brown goo lubes up throat, no more coughing.  right?  wrong.
if the cat won’t take the goo off your fingers (which, of course, he won’t, being feline and widerlich by nature), you’re supposed to smear it on his paw pads, which will irritate him enough to lick it off.  or just, you know, shake gobs of it all over the kitchen.  so you try glomming it onto one of his favorite treats.  which he extracts from the middle of the goo, carries over to another part of the kitchen, and spits out.  and then refuses to touch.
glom it onto his pawsies again.  he shakes it off.  all over.  collect the bits.  really rub it into the furry bits between the paw pads; careful to avoid sharp kitten fangs.  …eventually, he licks it off.  and then decides, purring, to lick some of the gobs off the floor.

…repeat 3 times a week.

i don’t think i’ll ever be able to handle having babies.

i’m planning a somewhat independent study-like thing for next quarter, in which i will be reading theory relevant to history and memory post-war.  and for which i was told in a meeting today that walter benjamin just… isn’t kb’s bag.  haha.  anyway, kind of excited.  and now thinking about writing on paul celan, because the idea i had about peter weiss would be better for jd’s class next fall.  (next fall?  wait, didn’t i just apply for two jobs this afternoon?)

also, so that i don’t forget to put this (not in as many words, or even the same language) in the composition i have to write for my cult fiction class next week: you can call max demian the fischerkönig all you want, but the only way i’m buying demian as a grail novel, *especially* as specifically parzifal and not just archetypally grail-ish, is if you mention the harmony/unity of two worlds bit (the safe, home, allowable world vs. the corrupt outside world in demian, the world of court vs. the spiritual world in parzifal).  trust me, it’s gonna be big.  but then again, i said that about my theory that parzifal was a pseudo-bildungsroman, and apparently it’s been done.  by, like, thomas mann.  bastard.

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the politics of theater

warning: in the essay below, i will make my political views unabashedly known, make a controversial comparison, expound upon an idea not originally my own, and rant on politics, history, and literature ALL AT THE SAME TIME and it’s gonna be epic.

in my seminar on epic theater, we recently read berthold brecht’s play der aufhaltsame aufstieg des arturo ui, which parodies the political rise of hitler as the story of a small, somewhat inept but unambitious chicago gangster attempting to take over the chicago vegetable market.  the small-time crook, ui, is portrayed as a bumbling, somewhat discontented criminal surrounded by powerful friends (ernesto roma, the stand-in for ernst röhm, famously later purged from hitler’s government) who push him to the front of their political movement by taking advantage of a crippled economy and corruption and back-room dealings by the cauliflower trust (the prussian junkers) and the weak inter-war government (the barman dogsborough, standing in for the last inter-war president, hindenberg).  one major flaw of the play (in my humble opinion) is that it fails to take into account the sort of mass flocking to the national socialist cause, which is undeniably also an important factor in considering hitler’s rise to power.

brecht’s play was only rarely performed during his lifetime, but was recently performed on broadway, starring al pacino as ui; this, if you ask me, was the director’s first mistake, as pacino comes to the stage with far more street cred and gangsta bad-assery than ui really should have.  a new york times review criticized the play for being a little heavy-handed in its allegorical connotations (rightly so, ugh).  at any rate, reviewers of the play also criticized the play for making inappropriately salient certain comparisons between hitler’s rise / the early fascist years in germany and george w. bush’s two terms as president.

i’ve heard these comparisons tossed about liberally (pun intended) by various friends and classmates, especially at nice, safe, liberal middlebury.  accusations of rampant cronyism, lack of transparency, a bipolar attitude towards incendiary nationalism, and global imperialist intentions were hurled with some abandon.  to be perfectly clear, i was never a fan of the bush regime or just about anything it did.  yet i feel that these comparisons are more incendiary than apt, and make other, more appropriate criticisms of the regime seem laughable.

ANYWAY.  the point of this post was that my rather batty yet occasionally perspicacious seminar professor observed, in an unguarded moment, that ui’s rise is better compared to the rise of america’s favorite hockey mom, sarah palin.

i was a little shocked when i heard this.  you compare sarah palin to arturo ui, you compare her to hitler.  it’s a little harsh for anyone who hasn’t recently committed an assortment of crimes against humanity.  but the more i thought about it, the more true the comment rang.  (please don’t tell her i said that; i more or less live to antagonize this particular professor this quarter, and baiting her has become my favorite sport.)  think about it…

arturo ui, as i said, is a small-time crook (hitler was a virtually unknown politician; palin was, famously, governor of alaska).  in the play and in its real life, sadly less slapstick counterpart storyline, he is shored up by powerful, ambitious friends (cough-johnmccain-cough).  there is even a scene where ernesto roma encourages ui to take elocution lessons: picture charlie chaplin playing the part of gene kelly in singin’ in the rain.  but anyway, i realized that what brecht’s play is portraying is, for the most part, the part of the story before most of america started quipping, “i can see russia from my house!”  the powerful friends making a small but ambitious politician the (church picnic casserole-ing, lipstick-wearing, hockey mom-in) face of a movement?  it does sound a little familiar…

what happens after the curtain falls on arturo ui?  that once bumbling gangster goes on to incite hundreds of thousands of people, through a sense of national history (the swastika is an ancient germanic rune; andrew romano recently wrote an excellent piece for newsweek about how sarah palin’s movement has made use of a different iconic symbol of cultural heritage) and in the face of a struggling economy, to cling to farther right politics than either of their countries (i mean… vegetable markets) had seen in years.

it’s easy to throw stones at the bush administration.  in hindsight, there were a number of major cockups, and the close calls in both elections made his time in power that much more heavily derided by his opposition.  but history does repeat itself, potentially in moose-shooting, star-dancing ways that we might never have expected.

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