Monday, August 31, 2009

Breaking News: Disney Buys Marvel

This will be a quick post: according to venerable news sources, Disney has just announced it's bought Marvel Comics for around $4 billion. As a dedicated comic reader, a lot of issues jumped to my mind: with DC owned by Warner Bros, this means that both of the two major comic publishers receive their marching orders from larger multimedia figures. Will Disney be insisting on some creative changes to bring Marvel characters more in line its other set? Will this deal have an effect on the rise in comic book prices? Will this have an actual, measurable change on the quality of the comics themselves, in the long or short term?

Well, to be honest, these questions were not the first thing to come to my mind. The first question was:
How long do I have to wait before I can go to Disneyworld and get my picture taken with Donald Duck and Wolverine at the same time?

Later Days.

This Post Never Happened

I had a really nice weekend. A going-away birthday potluck on Thursday, an old U of Blank English alumni coming down for a dance night on Friday. (is alumni the plural? Should I be saying alumnium? alumnius? If only I took a year's worth of Latin classes at some point in the past. Oh, right. And it feels odd that I can actually know alumni from the program after only being here a grand total of three terms. ) Despite my aversion to dance and dance-related phenomena, it was a good time. And Saturday and Sunday were largely spent saving Gotham City from the Joker. I mean, studying for comps.

Speaking of studying for comps, remember how I resolved earlier not to speak about comps? Well, I'm sticking with that. But I still feel a need to talk about the latest book, so I'm going to talk about it without referring to its author, title, or subject matter.

What's left after you strip away all of that is the impact the book had on me, and this impact is crater-shaped. I was about a hundred pages into the book when I realised I'd read it before. My English undergraduate course work is a little spotty; not because I didn't do the work, but because I did a double major in Math and English, there were some holes left in my education. I've taken steps to fill these holes, but for the longest time, lit theory in general was one of the more gaping ones. Additionally, aside from the seminar courses, the courses at U of Someplace Else all went out of their way to tell me NOT to use secondary sources, but rely on my own ideas. (Maybe it was some sort of departmental edict?) This methodology created another set of holes, which also took time to fill--and, to its benefit, also forced me to never use secondary sources as a crutch and to build and construct my own arguments. I will note, though, that my 19th century ecocriticism professor nearly wore out a red pen trying to teach me how to properly do a works cited page.

All of this is to build to a single point: in my undergraduate career, I only had to read one book of lit theory from beginning to end. It was for a seminar course I took in my second year, and the book was 600 pages long. That's a lot of theory to inflict on an undergraduate sophomore. Though ridiculously long, the book was well-written, and as I read it again, some seven years later, what it left really stood out.

Because I've already dropped the Coleridge ball, I can mention that his theory of associativity may be at work here. Coleridge said that people associate ideas with other ideas through various associations, and, in this case, we've got a temporal association at work, with the book as the anchor. As I read through it more recently, I was reminded of who I was when I first read it. I think this holds for every book that affects someone greatly, and especially if there's been a lot of time between a small number of readings. And what struck me on this reading was how much of the book had sunk into my general literary philosophy, without me even realizing it. The author is big on a close reading followed by a historical situating. More importantly, the way he uses the texts in a way that doesn't come up in literary criticism as often as you might think. I'm going to give it the italics emphasis: he presents the texts in such a way that you actually want to read them. Now, I'm not saying that this should be the main focus for literary criticism, or even a focus, in some situations. But it's a nice change of pace to see someone who's that enthused about the work itself.

It's funny; I don't really agree with his actual literary theory now, and I don't think I even understood it enough to disagree then. But the style, the method, hell, I'll go as far as to say the ethos of his writing is something I instinctively agreed with, because it was the same way I looked at literature. Looking back, I can't begin to estimate how important this work has been for the direction my scholarly pursuits have gone in since. But I'm glad for the opportunity to look back at my critical roots.

Comps exams: a voyage of self-discovery.

Anyway, I might do a post tomorrow, but between internet problems (every internet application works at home EXCEPT the browsers. My computer hates me.) and an upcoming mini-vacation, I'm going to be in absentia till Friday. Try to last till then.

Later Days.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Shadow of the Bat, or, the Story of the Unsensible Purchase

When I was fourteen, I put out an order for Final Fantasy Tactics for the Playstation. Because of its rarity at the time, it was used, cost me $70, and took six weeks for them to find a copy. And I thought that it was the most effort I'd ever go to to buy a game.

I was wrong.

When I was twenty-three, I jogged to the nearest EB Games one wintery evening to get a copy of Dragon Warrior VII for the Playstation 2 on the first day of its release. They were out, but they said that the other store had one--the catch was that I had to make it there before 9:00, closing time, and it was already 8:30. It was a very, very quick run. And I thought that it was the most effort I'd ever go to to buy a game.

I was wrong.

Today, I paid an exorbitant amount for a deluxe edition copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360. (Folks, that's where the birthday money you gave me went. I'm sorry.) And if I ever put more effort into getting a video game, it will be because I'm stealing it from the Tower of London.

A friend of mine once complained that his family bred good value studding bulls, but no one local would ever come and take a look at them; they all went to places like Texas. I suggested that part of this was, when it comes to a really big, rarely repeated purchase, people don't just want the product, they want a journey, a story that shows all the effort they underwent to get that product. In the antique game, for example, you're selling the history as much as the object. In a similar vein, Michael Benedikt, in the book he edited, Cyberspace, says that in a true cyberspace, travel should not be instantaneous, because the journey is an important part of the human experience of travel.

We are both wrong.

Or, at least, we're both missing an important proviso: when the difficulty of the journey reaches a certain point, it's no longer a good story anymore, it's just a pain in the ass, and actually makes you resent the end product.
Wanna guess how this relates to me getting Batman?

My brother gave me a phone call yesterday to inform me that EB games was having a limited, half-off sale of the game. (Which was awesome of him, BTW.) Now, in the city of Blank, there are two EB games; they are 12 km from each other, and approximately 7 km each from my apartment. This will be important later. I decided to run out to one of them--literally. It was a good run, and best news of out this whole affair is that I'm back to being able to do 7km without much stress, which bodes well for future longer runs. Yes, I'm sweaty and disheveled and not really in any condition to be in a mall, but I wasn't going to be there for long.

Or so I thought. I talk to the clerk, and he tells me they're sold out, but expecting a second shipment by 2:00. It was, at this time, 11:00. So I myself some lunch, (I went to New York Fries; I've been craving them for ages. Not as good as I remember. So the second good bit of good news is that I've got that out of my system.) It was a long wait; thankfully, I had my Ipod, and a book on tape. (Chesterton's Club of Queer Trades. Review to follow. Preview of Review: that word meant something different back then.) At 2:00, I come back, and the guy says their shipment's been delayed, and probably won't get there till tomorrow. But he calls the second outlet, and they have a half dozen copies left--first come first serve.

Well, I've gone this far and this long. So decided to go to Mall B. It's 12 k, though, and adding the distance home from there, it would be 26 k total, which was not what I'd signed on for. So I went with the bus. (Good thing 3: got over mild phobia of public transport. It's not a phobia, it's just a distaste for paying money for something my feet do on their own.)But I wasn't carrying change, so I needed to get some cash back on a purchase. (Which I did at the Shoppers; final good thing, I got those razor blades I needed.) And then I was on the bus. I asked the driver if the bus went to the other mall, and she said yes. What I should have asked was if it was the fastest bus that went to the other mall. An hour later(slightly faster than I could have run it; very slightly), I was at mall B, glad once again for my Ipod and the melodic voice of Franz Ferdinand.

If the game had been there, this would have made a tolerable story, in which the final goal was reached. As it happened, the store had sold its last copy of the on-sale version 5 minutes before. (Bad thing 1) But they still had 2 $85 deluxe edition copies.

I shouldn't have. I know I shouldn't have. That much money would have bought one, maybe even two books off of my comps list. But before you judge me too harshly, remember that I had just spent 6 hours waiting for this moment. Six hours of mall people, bus people, and jogging. I needed to have something to show for my efforts. Even if it was a game I barely even wanted anymore. So I bought it. It turned out to be in this huge, cumbersome box in a bag, (bad thing 2), which meant my plan to run back home was even less of a good idea, which meant the bus again. Now, the store didn't offer cashback, and neither did the first five other stores I checked, so I had to make a withdrawal at the ATM, pay the service charge, then break the subsequent $20 with an inane purchase (Bad Thing 3) , all to get the change I needed.

Apparently, though, this bus changes its number half way through, so I had to get off while there was still two kilometers to walk with the big, awkward bag (Bad thing 4). One kilometer from my apartment, the handles break (Bad Thing 5). Five hundred meters from my apartment, I trip (I kid you not) and twist my ankle and hobble the last distance. (Final Bad. Bad: 6, Good: 4. And let's face it, they weren't that good.) As for the deluxe package, the biggest bonus seems to be the plastic batarang on a plastic stand. Totally not worth a 'deluxe' label. (Although it is sitting on top of my TV, because, really, what else am I going to do with it?) (That's also not quite true; though not advertised as such, the coolest part of the deluxe package is the faux-leather with string binding wallet that the manual comes in. I could find a use for that.)

So, after all that, how is the actual game? Can it be so good that it overcomes all the financial and emotional torment?

I have no idea. I need to catch up on all the comp reading I skipped first.

Later Days.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Prawn Too Far; District 9 Movie Review

So originally I was going to go to a burlesque show last night (Hi Mom!), and in preparation for that experience I was already mentally composing my blog entry. It would have been about my ambiguity on the subject: on the one hand, it is attractive women dancing, which I understand has a certain appeal to many, and people should be free to express their bodies. On the other hand, a small part of me still feels that "burlesque" is a fancy way of saying 'stripping.' Not that there's anything wrong with stripping, per se. Actually, according to my home province Saskatchewan, there is something wrong with it, which is why it's illegal there to serve alcohol in a strip club. So there would have been a tour de force of conflicting emotion and ethical conundrum, and at some point, I'd talk about actually seeing the show.

But a few guys were out of town, a few were busy, and the few remaining were also ambiguous about the whole thing.

So we went to see Quentin Tarintino's Inglorious Basterds instead. I'm not a big fan of Tarintino. Don't get me wrong; I like all out to the point of ridiculous action flicks--Shoot 'Em Up, the movie where there's a birth delivery/gun fight, is a favorite of mine. What I don't like in Tarintino's movies is that they try to have it both ways; they try to be big important art films and ridiculous action movies at the same time. Exhibit A: the Kill Bill series. Although I'll admit, those are the only two Tarintino movies I've actually seen, and I honestly do believe that a film can be a ridiculous action movie and important artistically. So that blog post would have been a tour de force of conflicting emotion and ethical conundrum, and at some point, I'd talk about actually seeing the movie.

But it was sold out when we got there, and the only other choices were GI Joe and District 9, so we went to see District 9.

(I'm reaching new levels of non sequitor preambles here. Laurence Sterne would be proud.)

District 9 is a sci-fi film about how people interact with aliens. Its plot isn't entirely original for science fiction in general, but it somewhat of a novelty for the big screen. An alien ship appears over Johannesburg, South Africa. And in case you missed the significance of the location, the characters remind you: this isn't an alien encounter in New York, or Washington, but at the heart of former apartheid Africa. After a year or so of communication silence, a joint government initiative forces their way into the spacecraft, and finds a million or so aliens, slowly starving to death. The giant, chittering creatures--soon derogatorily nicknamed 'prawns' for their appearance--are relocated to District 9 just outside of Johannesburg. The district quickly descends into a slum, and the prawn live in complete squalor. Xenophobia in Johannesburg rises to a breaking point, and Multi-National United, the agency that has been contracted to monitor the prawn, decides to forcibly relocate the prawn to another area further from the city.

Enter MNU official Wikus van der Merwe, the man in charge of informing the prawn of their relocation. Originally, Wikus comes off as a slightly annoying bereaucrat; imagine a toned-down Michael Scott (more the British version than the American) and you're not far off. But over the course of the day, we see a more complete picture: he's somewhat cowardly when dealing with the military side of MNU, somewhat incompetent, since he got his job because of his father-in-law, and just as xenophobic and racist as anyone else. His sole redeeming virtue is his devotion to his wife, a fairly stunning Dutch woman. As an example of the kind of man Wikus is, before moving the prawns, by UN law MNU needs them to sign documents saying they've received 24 hour notice of eviction. Usually, Wikus bribes them into signing with cans of cat food. When one of the prawn objects to the legality of the eviction, Wikus plays hard ball: realizing that the younger prawn nearby is the first's son, he tells the prawn that the child is living in squalor, and thus Wikus has to take the child away--unless, of course, the prawn would like to just sign, and forget the whole thing. Charming. He's far more concerned with getting a good performance review than helping the first alien race humanity has come across.

Unfortunately for him, he doesn't seem likely to get either. Due to a series of mishaps, Wikus soon finds himself a fugitive from the MNU. The movie can be roughly divided into three parts: an early documentary mode that describes the aliens' arrival up to the early stages of the eviction; Wikus' fugitive run, and a confrontation at District 9. Personally, despite its slowness, I preferred the early documentary part, although the whole film was entertaining. You might guess from what I've described that the film essentially depicts the prawn as refugees, and the film definitely has a sharp postcolonial point. It's too bad I already did a postcolonial paper on aliens, because after this movie, I want to do another one. The prawn are so alien it's easy to justify the subhuman conditions they are treated to--which, of course, is the point.

The film strikes an interesting balance between being an anti-alien-based blockbuster summer flick, and, well, being an alien-based blockbuster summer flick. Originally, no one in the film is at all likeable; our main character, Wikus, is pretty contemptible. MNU in general seems composed of petty beareaucrats, militia men working out their aggression on the aliens, and businessmen obsessed with figuring out how to profit off the prawn and their alien weaponry. The native Africaners are represented by those running a black market district for the aliens, occasionally killing one and eating it to gain their strength (which, frankly, went a step too far, but whatever). Even the prawn, with one exception, are constantly seen as too bestial, too ugly, too inhuman to sympathize with. (The sole exception is the smarter prawn mentioned earlier, assigned the human name Christopher Johnson.)In most alien films like this the aliens are portrayed as remote and evil (Think Independence Day), but putting the aliens at the humans' mercy really turns the tables. This is the state of the film for about half of its running time; then it flips, and becomes, bluntly, a balls-out action film. It's very well done action, but all the previous ambiguities are thrust aside. It's like someone saw the film and said, "yeah, that's deep, but howzabout we rewrite the ending so it's... you know, profitable?"

It should also be noted that this is not the movie to take young children to, regardless of its superior depth over most alien-based blockbusters. There's some pretty gory moments in those action scenes, and Wikus has a tendency to drop the f-bomb a lot when he's under stress--and as far as his character's concerned, this film is a pressure cooker.

Again, both halves of the movie are well done; the story is compelling, the execution works fine, and the special effects are superb, especially for the prawn themselves. But it feels like the film is a compromise, and I left the theatre wondering what the original movie was meant to be.

Later Days.

Friday, August 21, 2009

You Know, This Would Have Been A Lot Easier If I Had Remembered to Look For a Quote in My Last Seven Solid Days of Reading Big Textbooks...

...So, since I don't want to work very hard, you're getting a random Bloom quotation, and a random "dissing Bloom" quotation.

“Poets, by the time they have grown strong, do not read the poetry of X, for really strong poets can read only themselves.” ---Harold Bloom.

"first he thinks hes part of a great tradition he's not second he thinks hes a critic of poetry he’s not and then he thinks he knows what the world of poetry consists of but he doesn’t” --David Antin, on Harold Bloom.

Oooh, controversy! (The views of David Antin do not reflect the views of any given Persons beyond himself, whether those Persons are of Consequence or otherwise.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Because really, what's the difference between an ancient Greek satirist and a 20th century archetypal psychoanalysist?

I mix up Lucian and Lucan.

Later Days.

*edit* By Lucan, I mean Lacan. Because apparently, to add a third element, I mix up 20th century archetypal pyschoanalysists with first century Roman historians.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Review: Robert Heinlein's Time for the Stars

According to their biographies, Destiny's favored children usually had their lives planned out from scratch. Napolean was figuring on how to rule France when he was a barefoot boy in Corsia, Alexander the Great much the same, and Einstein was muttering equations in his cradle.
Maybe so. Me, I just muddled along.
--excerpt from Heinlein's Time for the Stars

I came to do my work at the university today, as the double enticement of air-conditioning and a working keyboard were too good to pass up. (Yes, I have low standards in this area.) Sadly, when I reached the university, I realized I had grabbed the wrong set of books. Another proud moment for the future of intellectual scholarship. And they're the weirdest selection of books, too. Iris Murdoch's Unicorn. Jim Harrison's English Major. Huraki Mirakami's Kafka on the Shore. Why do I even *HAVE* a copy of "Language and Style in Leaves of Grass"?

Anyway, the only one of the books I have with me that I've actually finished reading is Heinlein's Time for the Stars. And since I'm here and have access to a working spacebar, I might as well review it.

In the last Heinlein book I reviewed, I delivered the Introduction to Heinlein 101 speech, so I'm not going to revisit it here. Suffice to say, he's called a sci-fi grandmaster for a reason. As for the book at hand... like I said before, Heinlein's work comes in two basic flavours: the juvenile-level stuff, and the more mature stuff. Time for the Stars is definitely at the juvenile end of the spectrum; the main character never explicitly uses the phrase "gee willickers," but sometimes you can tell he really wants to.

So: plot. Heinlein combines two big sci-fi ideas: telepathy and space travel. A long shot think-tank develops a program for testing and developing the telepathy between identical twins. Pretty soon, they've reached the point where the twins can communicate instantaneously regardless of distance. This, as it turned out, is the solution to the last hitch in the space exploration problem--how to communicate with earth when you're light years away. Tom and Patrick Bartlett are such a pair of telepathic twins. But the system requires that one of them stay home, while the other gets to explore space. This creates some tension.

But that's just the first portion of the book. Once the main character, Tom, actually gets into space, the other built-in drawback of the system becomes apparent. Like in The Forever War, faster-than-light travel hasn't been invented yet, so as Tom gets further and further out, his twin brother rapidly becomes his much, much older brother. (Actually, it's not just like Forever War, it's exactly the same plot but with twins instead of a space war. Sci-fi writers like to share their conventions.) The program is saved somewhat when it's discovered that, with each pair, the older twin's descendants can be brought into the link. Then disaster strikes during one of the missions, as the crew finds a planet that is inhabited, and the inhabitants think human would make a good change of diet. Half the crew is taken in a disastrous rescue attempt, and the survivors face a bleak set of prospects: they can either go on, practically crippled, or return home with their mission prematurely failed, while the entire world has moved 60 years forward in their absence.

The climax of the book is Tom being arrested for mutiny. As the last communication link to Earth (all the other twins on board having reached the point when their Earth-linked twin has died without producing suitable heirs), he chooses to stand up for the crew and talk about going back to Earth; the new captain, however, is intent on establishing his own authority and following his orders. The situation is defused when a new wave of ships reaches the crew: following up on faster-than-light telepathy research in twins, they've discovered a new means of space travel, and the entire situation has become moot. As Tom comments, it's the equivalent of Columbus getting half way to the new world, then told to head home, because someone just invented the steam engine. The book's final passages concern how the crew acclimatizes to an Earth that views them not as heroes, but antiquated relics.

As you might gather from that description, the book's a bit of a mish-mash. The closest thing to a binding thread is the idea of space exploration under the near-light speed problem, but mostly, it's about presenting the elements that would most likely be of interest to a 1950s teenage boy: sibling rivalry, family issues, space travel, a romantic subplot that's not TOO romantic, exciting battles with aliens, and a rebellion against authority. It's telling that the climax of the book is not the fight with the aliens, which are, like the Forever War aliens, largely ciphers, but Tom's fight with the captain. Don't get me wrong--the book is more than compelling enough to sustain its 192 pages, and Heinlein uses his conventions in a clever, engaging manner. It's just very clear that this a book written with its audience in mind at all times.

The other reason that the climax of the book is a rebellion against authority is that it fits with Heinlein's long-running theme of masculine independence (the rebellion doesn't quite fit as well with Heinlein's other theme of military loyalty, which would make it an interesting companion to a reading of Starship Troopers). A similar strand shows itself earlier in the book when Tom argues for the right to include twins on the first away teams to a planet. The argument makes little sense, frankly: as the most valuable piece of equipment on the ship, the twins should be exposed. But the problem is presented more as "a real man protects himself," which means the twin must fight, doggon it.

The most interesting part of the book for me was actually the least sci-fi based: the Bartlett family dynamic. The family is composed of a father who feels that society has kept him down and oppressed him to the point where he was cheated out of his true prominence, a mother who is quietly but grimly determined to keep her family together at any cost, and a pair of twins bitterly opposed to each other, each convinced that the other is the dominant one. Also three sisters, who are most notable for having boyfriends that keep referring to the twins as freaks. So you know, charming. I'll get on the gender dynamic stuff in a minute, but for now, note that the brothers are named after figures in American history and Italian artists: Thomas Paine Leonardo Da Vinci and Patrick Henry Michelangelo. The sisters are named Faith, Hope, and Charity. 'Nuff said. This sounds like a fairly gloomy family picture, and it's true that they don't spend a lot of time in loving conversation. But it is a fairly compelling family portrayal, and fits well with the tradition antagonism between family members that would be coming out in the adolescents the book is aimed toward.

Note the emphasis here on the masculine, because that's certainly what we're dealing with. There is a fairly odd mix of genre roles in the book, which dates it more than any other element. The crew of the ship is about equally split between the genders--in fact, a female engineer gets the main role of explaining the technological aspect of relativity and so forth. That's another thing to remember about the book--Tom is a clear surrogate for its ideal reader. In this case, it means that he spends a lot of time having things explained to him, whether it's relativistic time, or women. (The poor boy understands neither, of course.) The book isn't dumbed down, exactly, but again, it's clear that it know its own audience.

Okay, that was a bit of a digression. To continue on the treatment of women, in addition to the empowerment is a "woman's place" theme. The men of the Bartlett clan are all fierce independents; the women are mostly quiet wallflower types. Tom's mother is described as a quiet wallflower compared to her independent husband, who forces the family to live in sub-standard conditions because he refuses to pay the tax for having more than three children, as it is "unconstitutional, unjust, discriminatory, against public morals, and contrary to the will of God." And Tom's nieces don't come to see him when he reaches Earth because "their husbands didn't see any need for it." Because apparently going to the return of the uncle you've never met but communicated to telepathically for years is something you let your husband decide the RSVP for.

The telepathic connection brings me to my final talking point. Heinlein's use of telepathy is very interesting. The twin connection is simple enough--talking to a twin is only one step away from talking to yourself. But this is complicated significantly when you factor in the time difference; when you're still in your late teens and your twin is worrying about his business and mortgage, things are going to get weird. But the really weird part comes in the future telepathic links. All of Pat's children and grandchildren that are telepathically compatible are also female, and there's an odd sexual intimacy associated with the link. To continue with the above, the reason his neices' husbands don't like Tom is that they are intimidated by the idea that he has communicated with their wives on a level deeper than any they can reach. But if telepathy has connotations of sexuality, then there's also a hint of taboo at work here, since Tom can only do it with women related to him. It's not incest, not by a long shot, but it's not entirely innocent either. In fact, two seconds after they meet for the first time, one such descendent, Vicky, decides she is going to marry Tom. And he goes along with it. It's a nice reversal of the gender domination dynamic, in that Tom admits straight away he's not going to be wearing the pants in this relationship, (because apparently someone has to be in charge) but it has to be said: Tom is marrying his own great-niece. The granddaughter of his twin. Which makes her pretty genetically close to Tom. And he's never actually seen her before they decide to get married. And he's been talking to her telepathically since she was a little girl.

I swear, it's falling in love with the 11 year old all over again.

Don't get me wrong: Heinlein is a good writer, and even his dreck is head and shoulders above standard sci-fi fare, and this book is not dreck. And on one level, it's interesting to see how Heinlein can include these subversive elements in a book that is simultaneously so intent on hitting its mainstream sci-fi audience. But just once, couldn't the hero find a spunky heroine he DIDN'T play a significant part in raising? I mean, am I making a mountain out of a molehill, or is there something intrinsically creepy about a relationship that begins when the man is sexually at his prime and the girl is at her most vulnerable? Isn't it saying that the way you get an independent female character is to find an independent male to make her that way?

For more attacks on sci-fi concepts of masculinity, join me next time (or, you know, eventually) when I return to Haldeman's ouevre to investigate his novel "The Hemingway Hoax." Hemingway and Haldeman. That should be fun!

Later Days!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Comprehensive Exam = 4000 years of Literary Progress Summed Up in A 4 Hour Test

I said yesterday that I'm not going to use this blog as a place to investigate in depth the various readings that make up my comprehensive exams (even though I kind of did that with Biographia Literaria anyway). It's really a pity, to be honest. In my reading today alone, I think I've just had a breakthrough in what the writer is getting at, and I'd love to talk it out. Ideally, this would be a perfect forum for such a discussion. (And yes, I do think me talking and you audience rarely ever responding still constitutes a discussion. David Antin defines his talk poems as conversations in the same way, if you want, the option to reply is there.) And what I'd gain by organizing my thoughts and presenting them in some legible form would probably be at least as much of an educational boost for me as for everyone else. In the most bright-eyed, optomistic view, this is what the internet is for: the exchange of ideas.

But I also recognize that it's not a good idea, for a reason similar to the reason why I don't use my real name on the blog, and the reason why I generally don't provide stories directly involving my family and friends--there's a limit to what I can talk about and still preserve my responsibilities. I have no right to tell stories that aren't mine to tell . Similarly, I have a responsiblity not to flash the University of Blank's English comprehensive exam's reading list on the Net. Further, I have an intellectual responsibility to myself and my future career not to blurt out all my research and thought in a public forum, where it can't be protected. Some day, the copyright and intellectual property right laws may be more settled in this area, but for now... Well, I have no illusion that my real identity would be hidden from anyone who put some effort into finding it, and virtually all my readers know it anyway, but the pretense towards anonymity is important, if for no other reason that it's a reaction to my own sense that I'm being foolhardedly indiscrete.

Of course, there's people who have added their bosses on Facebook, so I've still got a ways to fall yet.

But all that's beside the point. Today's topic: even if I can't discuss the specifics of the comp, I thought it was about time that I explained what it was, since I'll be obliquely complaining about it for most of the next year or so. It's typical for a graduate student, especially a doctoral candidate, to go through a comprehensive exam that ensures he or she has a fundamental grasp of the discipline. This exam usually takes place after the course work has been completed, but before the actual dissertation work begins. In my particular department, the student chooses tw exams from two of the disciplinary categories to focus on, one based in literature, one in rhetoric.

One of these is declared the "primary," and is hopefully related to the eventual dissertation topic, and the other is declared the "secondary." You can do your secondary and primary exam in either order (the first will be done in the last week of November, the second in the last week of... May, I think.). Both have a type-written component that consists of a 4 hour exam. You choose from sets of questions which you want to answer in the time limit provided, using the readings from your category as you see fit. The difference between the primary and the secondary is that the written primary exam is followed up a week or two later by an oral exam, in which a selection of the department specializing in that area quizzes you on the subject.

I've chosen to to do the secondary first, and the primary in the spring. I won't say what categories I picked, but given my recent posts, you can probably figure it out. For the moment, I've been operating on a systematic approach to my reading list: I read everything that's on it, sequentially. Further, I take extensive notes; following the method used in the long-concluded spatial theory course, I take about a quotation per page, and occasionally jot down some note on why it was significant. It's a very comprehensive method, so it works well with the overall endeavour, but it's slower than a snail race through a road of molasses. I'm probably going to have to shift to something more expedient as November nears. I've been averaging about one reading a day, or, bare minimum, 50 pages if the work is particularly dense.

So that's the process, and that's my method. And now, no doubt, I'll never have to mention comprehensive exams ever, ever again.

Later Days.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whine of the Ancient Grad Student Part III: The Long Awaited Conclusion

Incidentally, this post would have happened a lot sooner, but my keyboard at home is acting up again. So... technology. Yay.

Anyway, I finished Coleridge's Biographia Literaria a few days ago now, so it's gotten a little fuzzy in my mind. From what I recall, the content of the book can be divided into four broad categories: literary criticism, philosophy, Coleridge, and commentary on Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads. These are by no means rigid categories. The commentary on LB is essentially an extension of the literary criticism theories he puts forth, as are the comments Coleridge makes concerning himself. The literary criticism slides into pihlosophy and back again at the drop of a hat as well. But I'll still try to address each of them in turn.

I'll start with philosophy, as it's by far the most complicated. As Coleridge explains, his time in Germany had a great effect on him, and much of his philosophy is bound up with the ideas of the Germans, in particular, Immanuel Kant and the lesser known Friedrich Schelling. It gets very abstract and technical in places, and I'm not entirely sure I understand it even now. One of the key elements Coleridge extracts is an idea he traces back to ancient Greece: the law of associativity. Essentially, this law states every idea we have arises out of some association of either previous ideas or our physical environment. Coleridge explains that there are a few different types of association, including contrast, temporal, and spatial.

There's a lot more to the philosophical side than that, but I'll stop there because associativity is what links the philosophy to the literary criticism. I'm not going to go too far into how literary criticism works in this book, or any of the other books on my comp list, because somehow I don't think my professors will take too kindly to the comp list being summarized and annotated in online form. Suffice to say, the criticism is concerned with three main issues: exactness in terminology, where Coleridge's theory differs from that described in Wordsworth's Preface to LB, and the difference between imagination and fancy. (Associativity comes into play mainly in the last one; if I understand it right, and I'm not saying I do, imagination is the force that generates new associations, whereas fancy organizes and shifts the ones we've already made.)

Part of the literary criticism involves Coleridge's ideas on how literary critics should act, and this dwells heavily on both his own writing and the way critics have dealt with him. This area of Biographia Literaria is the one that really feels like Coleridge is letting his true feelings through. He honestly thinks that he's made a lot of enemies as a result of his literary work in poems and journals, and that he's been misinterpreted as a result. He also realizes the bind he's in--if he says nothing, then everyone gets the wrong idea about him, but the harder he tries to explain his work, the more defensive he seems. The resulting emotion can almost be called desperation, and it comes out in one chapter in particular, when Coleridge tries to defend himself against the accusation that he doesn't work very hard. (To be honest, I kind of held this opinion myself before reading the book. See Part II.) It's a very plaintive chapter, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for someone who was clearly so emotionally invested in his work.

Given his own feelings towards criticism, you'd think he'd be a little more circumspect himself. At least a quarter of the book is devoted to Wordsworth's LB. As I said last time, Wordsworth and Coleridge's friendship and subsequent falling out is famous--it's arguably the most interesting literary alliance in English history, at least, until the incestuous Bloomsbury group hits the scene. I'm not exactly sure where their relationship was at the time this book was published, but it certainly didn't survive long after it. And the fault is definitely not Wordsworth's. Yes, Coleridge ends up praising the book in the strongest manner possible, declaring that Wordsworth has the potential to write the first true philosophical poem (Oh, and I missed that in the literary criticism part. Coleridge thinks the ultimate expression of art would be its unification with philosophy. Remember that. It's kind of important.)--but given that it's still just potential, even that is essentially damning with faint praise. And this praise comes after 50 pages or so of tearing both the Preface and the poems to absolute shreds. Friends don't mercilessly eviserate other friends' books in publication.

What makes the whole thing so interesting to me is that it's very clear that Coleridge believes he's ultimately doing Wordsworth a favour. He did end up praising the poems, after all. And better these criticisms come from a friend than his enemies. Besides, who wouldn't want to know how to write better poetry? Keep in mind that Lyrical Ballads was originally going to be a collaboration between Coleridge and Wordsworth, in which Coleridge would write supernatural-based poems and Wordsworth nature poems, in equal number, but Coleridge failed to deliver more than a handful of poems.

The editor of my edition of Biographia Literaria tries to downplay the attack by going with the theory that the original Preface that Coleridge was attacking was actually written by Coleridge and not Wordsworth to begin with, and so it was Coleridge contesting his earlier ideas rather than Coleridge contesting Wordsworth. This theory doesn't quite work with me though; Coleridge spends at least as much time attacking the poems themeselves as the Preface. And even if we do accept that Coleridge wrote the Preface, he certainly doesn't say so in the Biographia Literaria, which, if he's going to be disagreeing with it so heavily, seems like the polite thing to do, rather than let Wordsworth take all the blame.

So to sum up, I imagine Wordworth's reaction to Biographia Literaria to be something like this:
"What are you doing, man? First, we agree to do this book of poems. Then you can't come through with your share, so you beg me to let you write the Preface for me. Now, seventeen friggin' years later, you decide you didn't like either, and the first I hear about it is in this d---mned book? (That's how they talked back then, in dashes.) Don't give me that "potential to write the first philosophical poem" bull plop. If you didn't like the poems, you know what you could have done, seventeen years ago? Walked next door and told me. But hey, waiting a decade or two then printing your complaints for the world to see... that's a way to go too.

"You know what? I'm done with this, man. I put up with the opium for as long as I could, but this? No. I got my own problems. I've got bills to pay, a family to support, and a sister who really, really doesn't get the concept of personal space. I don't have time to deal with this passive-aggressive-dope fiend nonsense. I'd give voice to my natural sentiment, but saying "raised middle finger" just lacks some of the punch. Smell you later, jerk."

Truly, it was the age of eloquence.

Later Days.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yeah, So This Is A Thing Now

Friday Random Quotation:
"His last assault, like that of a Frenchman, is most feeble."
--John Dryden, in reference to a critic's attack on The Essay of Dramatic Poesy

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Whine of the Ancient Grad Student Part II: 4 Things I Hate About Coleridge

I finished Coleridge's Biographia Literaria last night. As to its quality, I'll admit that it's a long way from the most interesting thing I've done after 2 am. In order to see how much of this large, bounteous book I've actually retained, I'm going to do this post without actually consulting the book. I'm off to a good start, since this is the first time I've gotten the title right without having to look it up.

When I looked at my comp list, this is one of the works I was not really looking forward to. I have numbered reasons:
1. Pettiness. So far, since August started, I've been averaging a book on the list per day. When the books are 48 pages and written in large, 17th century font, this is not particularly difficult. But Biographia Literaria clocks in at 289 pages of teeny, tiny font, which makes it the first, though certainly not the last, of my longer comp readings. It's slowing me down, and I don't care for that.

2. The drugs. Coleridge had a long standing opium addiction that played both a part in his writing and a part in his death. This may be the puritanical streak in me, or at the very least, the streak in me that doesn't like poetry very much, but I honestly think that taking drugs then writing poetry is cheating. It's like taking steroids, then going on to be MVP. All writing should be done with a clear, pure mind. (Anyone who says I've ever posted after drinking is an utter, utter liar. Very utter.)

3. And then I woke up. If you've ever taught Coleridge to first year undergraduates, then you've probably taught Kubla Kahn. It's a good poem for teaching vivid imagery, rhyme scheme, rhythm, and a few other poetic devices. It's also got the infamous note, in which Coleridge tells us the poem came to him in a dream, after he'd taken drugs (see point 2). He sat down to write it, but was distracted by a visit by the infamous Person from Porlock, and when he returned, he found that he could not remember how the poem ended. Given what I now know about Coleridge, there's a high chance that this anecdote is really an allegory for how reality interposes itself on creative genius and dream. Even the name "Porlock" can be seen as a thinly disguised version of "Poor Luck." Coleridge certainly wasn't above inventing such incidents if they served his purpose. In that sense, it makes an interesting complementary with his comments on the nature of genius, the use of fancy, and how to integrate a life and family with being a poet. Either way, we've got two options: the dream story is a highly artificial construct or this poem is the result of a fever dream. And either option kind of rubs me the wrong way.

4. Chivalry. Coleridge was famously friends with William Wordsworth, and, just as famously, they felt out over a number of issues, including Coleridge's drug habit and, more than likely, the Biographia Literaria itself. (More on that later.) I'm far more familiar with Wordsworth's poetry over Coleridge's; in the last year of my undergraduate, I took a seminar course on 19th century ecocriticism in which poems such as Wordsworth's "Michael" featured predominantly. We also had to read the collected journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, Wordsworth's sister. Dorothy is... how do I say this kindly... a simple soul. (Okay, so much for kindness.) She is, in fact, pretty boring, and while Wordsworth was traipsing around England, she was confined to their estate, as was the 19th century role for society's middle class unmarried women. Reading her journals was like watching a race between grass growing and paint drying, but... without ever actually seeing the movie or reading the book, I think of Dorothy as bland version of Bridget Jones. Yes, she's embarrassing and annoying and any compliment you give her involves the words, "in spite of herself," but... well, in spite of herself, you can't help but like Dorothy, because NOT liking her is like picking on a kid whose parents just got divorced. You could do it, but what's the point? Aren't things already bad enough for them? I mean, she's afraid of cows, for God's sake. Cows. This woman is clearly not a threat to anyone but herself. Anyway, from the journals, she clearly had a soft spot for Coleridge. Thus, in leaving Wordsworth, Coleridge was hurting Dorothy. And that, the romantic in me holds against him.
I'm quite ignoring certain facts here, like Coleridge was either married and interested in other women for most of the time he was close to the Wordsworths, and Dorothy herself was far, far more interested in her brother than any other man--which is a long story. A long, kind of creepy story. But a part of me still believes that Dorothy Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge should have gotten married, which would have led to Coleridge beating his addiction, he and Wordworth would have been BFFs and, most likely, both would have written even more poetry than they already did, which I would have had to learn and... and now that I think about it, why did I want them to get together again? (Seriously, though, it would have been a good thing. Really. "Michael" is a good poem.)

So that's why I went into the book not liking Coleridge. The reasons, I acknowledge, are both long and irrational. But as unkind critics would tell you, a spirit of long irrationality is the perfect beginning for a study of the Bibliographica Literaria.

It's actually not that bad, and I can definitely see why it deserves a place on the comp list, although certain chapters are more useful than others. But this list went on for longer than I intended, so I'll finish up the Ancient Grad Student series tomorrow with a quick sketch of the book.

Later Days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Whine of the Ancient Grad Student Part I: Coffee Shop

Coleridge's Advice to Aspiring Writers: "never pursue literature as a trade."

My Comp readings have reached Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, and I'll have more to say about that when I actually finish the book. One of the reasons I didn't manage to finish it today is that I chose to do most of my reading in a coffee shop. About a half hour into my work, a girl comes down and sits at a spot two seats away. A friend of hers shows up, and they spend about twenty minutes talking about the first girl's problems: she just lost the lease on the house she shares with her roommate, and her weekend getaway with the boyfriend ended prematurely when the boyfriend pushed her too far and she broke up with him. So the friend--male friend--she's talking to decides that this is a good moment to toss his hat in the ring as a contender for next boyfriend, and takes the seat right next to me. They proceed to have a very heated, yet very whispered conversation. I am, at this point, insanely uncomfortable, but I refuse to leave, or even acknowledge I can hear them, because I was there first, damn it.

So the guy storms off, the girl sits there awkwardly for a few minutes, and then another, female, friend of hers shows up, and they talk about how the first girl's life seems to be spontaneously combusting, and agree to wait for a third (fourth?) friend before going out for drinks. And just as they reach the end of the story, the girl's mother phones, and she gets the whole story minus the boy scene I witnessed, and apparently, judging by the girl's end of the conversation, the mother is indignant on the girl's behalf for losing the house, since the landlord was being sneaky, yet somewhat sympathetic to the boyfriend. And as soon as the phone call ends, the other friend, also male shows up, and immediately asks what's wrong. The girl starts the story, and he says, yeah, he just ran into the most recently rejected guy, and he wouldn't say what's wrong, but he looked rough. Then, after hearing the whole story, he makes this statement: "You know, the only common element in all these situations is you."

Neither girl judges this as a helpful contribution, and the party storms off to discuss things further elsewhere.

I know eavesdropping is not polite behaviour, and that these are real people, and their problems should be taken seriously. And even though I'm preserving their anonymity on this post, by describing the event in this level of detail, I'm definitely edging towards the "uncool" in terms of maintaining internet privacy. But in my defense, they kept sitting next to me and having conversations that really shouldn't be happening in public areas (a point which, to be fair, the girl made repeatedly, albeit without actually moving).

How does all this relate to not finishing Biographia Literaria? Put it this way: try as hard as I might, Coleridge's dissection of David Hartley's mid-eighteenth century philosophical treatise on the oscillating ether of nervous systems just couldn't compete with some well-acted live theater.

Okay, that was kind of mean. Kind of true, but mean.

Later Days.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"What I'd Like Is, I'd Like to Hug and Kiss You"

Full geek points to whoever can trace the relevancy of that title to the content of this post.
Anyway, let's go back to Friday, AKA "Birthday Celebrations." I showed up an hour early to the festivities, to be sure we'd get a table. (A totally unnecessary gesture as it turned out for this evening, but when you just assume that there will be a table open, you wind up booking your going away party at a bar during its wings night, walk through it in amazed bewilderment, then spend a half hour very frantically trying to find a venue that can seat yourself and the seventeen guests who are arriving in short order. Or so I imagine.) And then everyone else pushed the fashionably late motif to about an hour or so, which meant that I had two hours by myself in the bar before anyone showed up.

This is not the most conducive atmosphere to foster feelings of birthday mirth, and I'll admit that I have some angsty tendencies at the best of times, but in this case, there was a bright side. I got done my comp exam reading for the day: Pope's "An Essay on Criticism," which is essentially a discussion on how critics should behave--nicely, as it turns out. To get a sense of the quality of my study, I just checked my notes, and the top of one page is written"Is Pope Catholic?" and it took me a few seconds to remember why that was an honest question instead of a punchline. Also included in reading was Rushdie's "Enchantress of Florence," and "The Art of Stealing" by Christopher Brookmyre. I'll probably do reviews of both later, but "The Art of Stealing" begins with an evaluation of how hookers should be detached yet focused while performing oral sex, concluding with the phrase: "Dammit, it's called "blow JOB" not "blow hobby."

So you know, classy.

Anyway, the festivities. It was a pretty good showing, and there was good company and good conversation. I learned a few things about myself: I like shots of Bazooka Joe (1/2 oz Baileys, 1/2 oz Blue Curacao liquer, 1/2 oz banana liqeur; what's not to like?), I CAN, when dared, fit an entire slice of pizza into my mouth at once, and I have in the past sang the Red Hot Chili Peppers'
"Give It Away."

I'll explain that last one. There was a girl from our program who I never quite got around to meeting who made it out last Friday, and she explained that she remembered me from my awesome rendition of RHC's tune on Rock Band (her description, not mine, as my large portions of that night are "File Not Found," in my memory bank, which is my only excuse for not remembering her, likewise.). The comment put me in a bit of a contemplative mood (contemplative between shots, anyway), on how you can never be sure when you're an impression on someone, or what that impression may be. On previous occasions, I've mentioned James Boswell--in fact, it the party night described in that post is just when the "Give it Away" song occured (and it's proof I don't remember it, 'cause if I did, I definitely would have put it in that list). Anyway, to sum that up, Boswell was constantly torn between two desires: the desire to be liked, through any means necessary, and the desire to preserve his dignity. Looking back at that party, I felt the same way he often did; I overindulged, I went beyond the proper bounds of behaviour in the name of fun, and I felt embarressed as a result. Apparently, though, from what I'm told, the impression I left people with, while it may not be the uber-responsible student, was one of a nice, enthusiastic guy. I can live with that.

Socrates said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." The punchline is that, although that may be true, at least the person living the life won't know it. And there's also the other alternative: "the unparticipated life is not worth living." The condolence to that sentiment is that participation comes in many shapes and forms, and Heisenberg tells us that every spectator is playing the game. (That's what he tells us, right? Any quantam phyics people lurking?)

After the initial drinking and talking, there was a smattering of... ugh... dancing, more lovely drinking and talking, and home by 3:00 with many happy thoughts. Participating is fun.

Later Days.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Facebook: Finally, a place for inappropriate venting on the internet

This time 'round, I've spared you all from endless complaints regarding my term papers, and posted them on Facebook instead. Now, since there's nothing else of note to post, here's a "greatest hits" compilation (with Person substituted for my actual name). My theory is that compiling all this information in one place will provide keen insight into the working process. First, the background. The post-colonial paper was on how the video game Mass Effect allows players to work out colonial ideologies in safe environments. The art and persuasion course paper was on how David Antin's talk poems can be better viewed as tours rather than maps, following Certeau's spatial theories. For the record, Mass Effect is a video game in which the player saves the galaxy from a machine race invasion, and makes several choices regarding the genocide of other species while s/he's at it. And Antin is a poet who's thing is that he shows up, gives an hour long talk, records it, writes down the result, removes all the spacing, captials, and margins, and calls both the book and the talk poetry. The former was due July 23, the latter Aug 4. I am happy both are done. First, the Antin stuff:

Person realized his original presentation was in 11 size font, which means he has a ten page paper instead of eight. Which also means that in order to "build on without expanding," I'm going to have to cut about half of it, and still glue on a new argument that fits with the remains. Oh, the terrible conundrums of a grad student.
24 at 4:40pm.

is reading David Antin's latest book of talk poetry and noticed that Antin was using an apostrophe, and immediately became disgusted that the poet was selling out. And that's when he realized he was entirely too involved.
July 30 at 1:18pm.
Person : God help him if I find a semi-colon.
July 30 at 1:18pm.

wrote 1800 words today. On his blog. The paper, sadly, did not go nearly as well.
July 31 at 6:29pm.

"now in this sense every subjectivity is social to the extent that it is localized consciousness but to become a self it has to survive the collision or union with other things and endure." Antin tells us this is poetry. I choose to believe him.
August 1 at 10:10am.

feels like it's time for a status check. At the moment, I'm 2000 words and 6 pages into my Eng 760 paper, and calling it a night. Anyone else want to weigh in on how their efforts are going?
August 1 at 8:41pm.

Person is done, bitches. Aug 2 at 9:32 pm.
an ending. Crap, I'm articulate. And the Postcolonial Paper (which, frankly, is more entertaining):

is trying to work on his paper, but the asari matriarch won't friggin' die
11 at 3:11am.

Person is having the most research-productive day EVER.
14 at 7:46pm.
First, I stumbled onto this gem, by Douglas: "Video games do not threaten film's status so much as they threaten religion, because they perform the same existentially soothing task as religion. They proffer a world of meaning in which we not only have a task to perform, but a world made with us in mind." Which redefines my area of study as an act of worship. And my folks say I never go to church.
July 14th at 7:49pm.
Second, in"Colonialism and the emergence of science fiction," Rieder describes the "lost race" trope, in which a secret treasure map leads a white European stand-in to a lost civilization in the middle of a colonized people, and identifies the trope as a staple of colonial literature. And since that's basically "Mass Effect" 's entire plot, that makes my postcolonial paper on video games a lot easier.
July 14th at 7:53pm.
Can you imagine how my life would have been wasted if I went into mathematics instead of English? Granted, I'd probably be enthusiastically posting about the amazing awesomeness of invariant polynomial algebras, but think of the loss to the Humanities.
July 14th at 7:56pm.

Person just found a paper entitled 'Nintendo and New World Travel Writing.' Or to phrase it differently, post-colonial score.
16 at 8:31pm.

just made his 200th Xbox achievement in the pursuit of his Mass Effect paper. Yet somehow, it doesn't feel an achievement at all...
17 at 11:34pm.

is finishing Mass Effect tongiht, come hell or high water. And he's goingt to be transcribing the efforts in half hour intervals. So... enjoy. First up: goin' to Ilos.
19 at 1:07am.
Post 2. Went through all the crew's final conversations. And the romance subplot. Kaidan'svall man, ladies. Also: a guy that can make things move with his mind should have a better pick-up line than 'you make me feel... human."
19 at 1:42 am.
Lost in Ilos. I was wandering around for ten minutes before realizing that what I thought wasa button for the door was actually a button for the elevators.
19 at 2:15am.
I spent another 20 minutes wandering around before I remembered I had toreturn to the first level after unlocking the bay door. In the process, I discovered I could push my fellow teammates off the elevator ledges. This provided some amusement.
19 at 2:41am.
A half hour mapping out Vigil's dialogue options. Still on Ilos.
19 at 3:10am.
Still mapping out Vigil's dialogue. Mouthy little VI. Still on Ilos.
at 3:41am.
Person: *six pages of transcription* DAMN IT VIGIL, SHUT THE HELL UP!
19 at 4:10am.
Now we're cooking. In the citadel, first saren battle. Gotta love an end boss that uses a hover platform.
19 at 5:12am.
Person: And THAT is how you save a galaxy from an impeding Reaper invasion. It's 5:35. Do you know where your next dictatorship in the name of humanity is?
19 at 5:35am.
You. Are. Crazy.
19 at 12:47pm.
Person: I spent an hour writing down all of the conversational options of a machine inside a disc inside a game system. So... I don't think I can dispute that.
19 at 2:23pm.

Person made an outline for his essay. That's enough for today, right?
19 at 3:32pm.

was thinking about pulling a quotation from "The Empire Writes Back" for the paper, but the book feels a little 'undergraduatey.' A question to the masses: What do you think?
19 at 5:50pm.
One alternative is that I'm intellectual snob. Of course, that could hold regardless of the answer.
19 at 5:53pm.

just learned to snap his fingers... I don't think I've ever put this much effort into procrastinating on a paper.
20 at 9:26pm.

probably can't get away with including his eight paged appendix in his page count.
21 at 8:28pm.

22 at 2:08am.

...And there we are. So much for insight, huh? I think the most interesting thing here, to put myself under the microscope, is how my expressive style changes depending on the medium: Facebook, or the blog. If anyone who's powered through this whole thing sees a difference too, feel free to comment.
Later Days.