Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Invention of Comics, Amiri Baraka.

I am a soul in the world: in
the world of my soul the whirled
light from the day
the sacked land
of my father.

In the world, the sad
nature of
myself. In myself
nature is sad. Small
prints of the day. Its
small dull fires. Its
sun, like a greyness
smeared on the dark.

The day of my soul, is
the nature of that
place. It is a landscape. Seen
from the top of a hill. A
grey expanse; dull fires
throbbing on its seas.

The man's soul, the complexion
of his life. The menace
of its greyness. The
fire, throbs, the sea
moves. Birds shoot
from the dark. The edge
of the waters lit
darkly for the moon.

And the moon, from the soul. Is
the world, of the man. The man
and his sea, and its moon, and
the soft fire throbbing. Kind
death. O
my dark and sultry

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I am taking African American Literature.

I was first exposed to a lengthy piece of African American writing in my eleventh grade honors English course. My teacher, Olivia Macaluso, gave all of her honors English classes a long list of authors about halfway through the school year, from which they would choose one and select a novel on which they were expected to write an extended paper weaving literary criticism with their own writing on a topic of their choice by the end of the school year. I was a little late to the game, so by the time I asked Mrs. Macaluso for recommendations on whom she supposed I would enjoy, Ralph Ellison was already taken. She then offered a few others, of which Ishmael Reed was the only one that I had a mild interest in. She warned me about students from previous years having trouble with his work, but I would not back down. I traveled about a half hour away until I finally found a bookstore that had a copy of Mumbo Jumbo available for my taking. Reed's surreal, hyper-attentive style appealed to me, and made me want to do research to understand some of the allusions he was making that I was unfamiliar with.

On October 3rd, the day I was born, of 1998, I received Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as a present from my mother. Mind you, she did not read my mind, or anything of the sort, she just got what I had asked for a while back. I put off reading it, because I had also received two or three novels and had a difficult course load for my honors English class that year, until the summer after I graduated. That summer I took an Introduction to Cinema course at Hunter, and since I live in New Jersey I commuted four days a week, taking the bus and then the train. I remember, quite vividly, being so absorbed within the world that Ellison had constructed that I frequently forgot I was even on a train at all. I did not want it to end, and after I had finished it I thought... I wish I could be someone's boo'ful. But then I discovered, I probably was, and I just didn't know it yet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov.

Of students' papers: "I am generally very benevolent [said Shade]. But there are certain trifles I do not forgive." Kinbote: "For instance?" "Not having read the required book. Having read it like an idiot. Looking in it for symbols; example: 'The author uses the striking image green leaves because green is the symbol of happiness and frustration.' I am also in the habit of lowering a student's mark catastrophically if he uses 'simple' and 'sincere.' This is widespread, and when I hear a critic speaking of an author's sincerity I know that either the critic or the author is a fool." Kinbote: "But I am told this manner of thinking is taught in high school?" "That's where this broom should begin to sweep. A child should have thirty specialists to teach him thirty subjects, and not one harassed schoolmarm to show him a picture of a rice field and tell him this is China because she knows nothing about China, or anything else, and cannot tell the difference between longitude and latitude." Kinbote: "Yes. I agree."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Steps, Frank O'Hara.

oh god it's wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much

Monday, August 9, 2010

Meditations from a Boy, Meditations on a Boy.

What is the "correct" way to inspire someone? Who is to say what the correct way to inspire someone is?

Ever since I was young, I was curious... curious about my inherited physical traits, curious about the way people socially and physically interacted with each other, curious about how I thought I was supposed to be, curious about the construction of a society in which I never asked to live. Fear not, I understand that my problem is global and not just societal. Understand, I am not blaming my problem on anyone else, nor am I blaming it on myself, or the sperm and egg that produced me. For even more closure, I am not blaming it on the country in which I have lived my entire life.

I'm not very curious these days. The empirical model [of my life] means just about as much as the next decision I will make (whether to feed myself or not). That was a joke.

I know I once emphasized reason over emotion, but now I approach this way of thinking with apprehension. Recent physical exchanges have taught me to confront the issues I have with others in a more subdued manner, but I know that writing about them now would be unwise.

I must give it time to settle, or else I will not be able to forgive myself.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The City and the Pillar, Gore Vidal.

"Even so," he said quickly, "there are other things in life than being in love. Look at Jim. He's never in love, are you?"
"Of course I am. With what I want." Jim thought of Bob.
Maria was puzzled. "What do you want?"
Sullivan answered for him. "What he cannot have, like the rest of us." He turned to Maria. "Have you ever found what you wanted?"
"For a time, certainly."
"But not for long."
"No, not for long. I've failed, like everyone else."
"I suppose I may want more than any man cares to give. And sometimes I give more than any man wants to take."