Saturday, December 12, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
"the underpart is, though stemmed, uncertainis, as sex is, as moneys are, facts!facts, to be dealt with, as the sea is, the demandthat they be played by, that they only can be, that they mustbe played by, said he, coldly, theear!By ear, he sd.But that which matters, that which insists, that which will last,that! o my people, where shall you find it, how, where, where shall you listenwhen all is become billboards, when, all, even silence, is spray-gunned?when even our bird, my roofs,cannot be heard"
Thursday, October 22, 2009
English 30C: Contemporary American Literature
Perform a “close reading” of the poem on which you presented in class—“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. Develop the reading from the text, not a biographical reading. Look at the syntax, word choice, punctuation, rhyme, and rhythm (i.e. Form of the poem) in your reading. Also account for the ironic tensions set up in the poem and its tone. Does the poem unify or balance the tensions? You must use one other text we have read in class to contextualize and support your reading.
T.S. Eliot might have been afraid of his emotions—“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but a escape from personality”—but it helped him to write his commandment to new American poets about depersonalization in poetry. As an American poet, Elizabeth Bishop was no doubt aware of this manifesto and puts into words this revolutionary notion. In “One Art”, Bishop tells the story of loss, ranging from small and miniscule things to vast continents to her own personal voice and ability to joke about tragedy. Bishop’s work, although seemingly very personal, possesses a universal way of relating to others about loss, and succeeds in conveying what T.S. Eliot described in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” as significant emotion—that is “emotion which has its life in the poem and not in the history of the poet”. The only way one can achieve such a thing, Eliot claimed, is to turn away from actual emotion and to depersonalize the poet from the poem. Bishop understood Eliot, in that the poem she wrote is all about the loss one experiences, and how this can be likened to the loss one experiences when creating art.
If the “Art of Losing” is taken to literally mean the “Act of Writing”, because of the loss of personality when writing poetry, it makes sense with Eliot’s dictum about the nature of the poet: “The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality” (1008). However, and this serves to counter Eliot’s statement as well as to relieve an ironic tension in Bishop’s work: Writing is a way of recapturing or regaining the loss, because it places the loss onto page, and reverses it. The loss is now immortal, and can never be lost. The “mother’s watch”, the “two cities”, and “vaster realms” will now be remembered whenever the poem is read. This is Bishop’s intention when, on the very last line, she quite abruptly tells the reader—or herself—almost as an urgent aside, to “Write it!” and not to forget it.
Another ironic tension throughout the poem is the tone. At first glance, it is a melancholy look back on the fleetingness of life and life’s possessions. A somber reminiscing of all things that are inevitably lost, “the mother’s watch” and other relics of people that serve as physical memories, “door keys” or other opportunities lost, and “you” which can be the reader, the actual poet herself, or a third party. However, an inkling of a sardonic tone permeates the poem with word choices such as this: “And look! My last or next-to-last, of three loved houses went.” She quips that the “art of losing isn’t hard to master”, which embodies the joking tone about the process of writing. In the last stanza, her acknowledgement of the loss of her “joking voice, a gesture I love” sets up an irony that creates a new tension—Bishop is talking about the loss of her personality in her poetry, in the same way Eliot has commanded, but the poem is actually filled with her joking voice. It is a contradictory move, but it proves that, although Bishop has a respect for Eliot’s work, she is also her own person with an individual identity who can break some rules. Ironically, this is what Eliot wants in new poets anyway—to continue the tradition of non-tradition: “the business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all.”
The understatement of tragedy suggests that there is no real significance in the loss, even though there obviously is. Bishop’s main goal here is to assuage any deep remorseful feelings connected to loss, because the loss is always bound to occur—but she is losing the ability to joke about disaster. By the end of the poem, she admits what she believes to be her flaw, and this is the same flaw within Eliot’s statement of depersonalization—that the art of losing (personality and emotion) “isn’t too hard to master”—which means it actually is, to a degree, a disaster. A certain detachment is required to be a poet and Bishop is commenting on the fact that it is indeed disastrous and heartless, but she is also aware of the fact that her craft requires the loss—she has already lost things, so this is her appeal and apology. Her inclusion of the statement “though it may look like like disaster” serves to further separate herself from the tragedy, it is a thrice removed simile, which is another strategy of depersonalizing oneself from ones poem.
Bishop was clearly aware of Eliot’s instruction that poets must be aware of those who are dead, in a traditional context of that which is already living, however, she was also able to finish Eliot’s declaration and to continue the statement into the future. Bishop’s use of the future perfect tense in the last stanza: “Even losing you…I shan’t have lied”, shows her awareness of the present’s context in the future, the way that future historians will look at our present as the past. It is in this sense that Bishop, and all great writers and poets, are predictors of the future that have an awareness of “what is already living”, and are able to make poetic statements about what will be regarded as true and as part of the tradition. The future belongs to the poet.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"The art of losing isn't hard to master;so many things seem filled with the intentto be lost that their loss is no disaster.Lose something every day. Accept the flusterof lost door keys, the hour badly spent.The art of losing isn't hard to master.Then practice losing farther, losing faster:places, and names, and where it was you meantto travel. None of these will bring disaster.I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, ornext-to-last, of three loved houses went.The art of losing isn't hard to master.I love two cities, lovely ones. And vaster,some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gestureI love) I shan't have lied. It's evidentthe art of losing's not too hard to masterthough it may look like (Write it!) like disaster."
Friday, October 2, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
I started reading the play "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes" a couple of weeks ago after hearing Professor Bonilla mention it in class. I remembered a couple of years ago, that HBO aired an adaptation of his epic play "Angels in America", as a miniseries starring Emma Thompson, Al Pacino, and Meryl Streep. Before I watch it, I decided, I would read the play.
Monday, September 21, 2009
"Good Country People", by Flannery O'Connor, is a story of a woman so cursed by unfortunate circumstances and so blinded by her education, that when she unwittingly lets her guard down long enough to fall in love with who she perceives to be a simple-minded bible salesmen, she finds him literally pulling her leg (very distasteful, I know) and is left to be (half) a victim of her own ignorance.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Flipping through the Norton, I was really excited to see Cindy Sherman's photographs included. It says:
"This series consists of 'self-portraits' in which the artist explores representations of women by dressing in a variety of costumes and adopting a variety of poses. Sherman's role as both photographer and subject reverses the traditional power of the male gaze, and here she examines and subverts the objectified images of women displayed in magazine centerfolds. Rather than signaling availability, this cropped, colorful-saturated photograph is enigmatic. Sherman's girlish clothing, evoking the 1950s, conceals more than it reveals, and she holds in her hand a largely unreadable scrap torn from a newspaper. Her gaze, vacant and interior, is also unreadable" (C5)
Friday, September 4, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
A long time ago, there was a boy and a girl who loved each other, but they couldn't be together because their families were enemies. They had a plan to run away and get married, but the plan didn't work. She took a potion that made her fall asleep, and when the boy found her, he thought she had died. So he poisoned himself because he couldn't live without her. When she awoke, she found him dead, and so she shot herself in the head. And they lived happily ever after in heaven.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Pasadena City College, CA ** Tuesday, June 2, 2009 ** English 78B ** Professor Bonilla
Cymbeline Opens the 2009
Repertory Season at
By: Patrick Covarrubias
On the last afternoon of May in Topanga, California, the celebrated Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum opened its 2009 Repertory Season with a performance of William Shakespeare’s romance Cymbeline, directed by Ellen Geer. Under Geer’s direction, one of Shakespeare’s final plays, written towards the end of his career, was brought to life with a sprawling and diverse cast of about thirty, including professional actors from the Actors’ Equity Association, a beautifully natural and rustic setting, and an aura of traditional Shakespearean theater and presentation.
The production was able to capture the wide range of genres that the play requires, as Shakespeare’s late romances have the most developed characters and complex plotlines. From the romantic plight of Imogen and Posthumus, and the wager that the mischievous Iachimo makes with Posthumus thus instigating the sequence of events, to the cautionary tale of the ambition of the Queen and her son Cloten, to the story about the ignorance and arrogance of King Cymbeline, it is clear that Shakespeare reprises his earlier themes in plays, and the production translates this undoubtedly.
Always tinged with humor, the mood of the play is helped with the cast of many characters that capture the devious and manic energy so written. Even when some of the more difficult language spoken by the actors was lost on the unprepared audiences’ ears, the actions and feelings of the words spoken by actors helped to convey the deeper connotations of tragedy, comedy, mischief, malevolence, and triumph.
The most stunning aspect of the Theatricum’s main stage is definitely the outdoor amphitheater, with the various trees, gardens, and hills serving as the natural background for the stage of Cymbeline. The naturalistic setting allows for very beautiful and pastoral scenes that are traditional in Shakespeare’s plays and themes. The set and staging areas were able to capture the natural lighting of a late spring’s afternoon, and aside from the appropriately chosen music played through unnoticeable and strategically hidden speakers, the atmosphere of both the Theatricum and Cymbeline was idyllic.
The highlight of the play is during the final act, in which a live battle takes place between the more rough-around-the-edges British and the more refined and ordered Romans. As Posthumus is passionately lamenting his betrayal of Imogen, the two opposing
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armies enter slowly from opposite ends of the stage, building tension, until a very energetic fight between natural and ordered, barbarian versus civilized. The hills behind and around the stage allow the action to reach from far away to right in front of you. The intimate 299-seat amphitheater is transported to a time early in Britain’s history, complete with fitting musical choices and detailed costuming.
Standout performances are Thad and Willow Geer (pictured) as Cymbeline and his daughter Imogen, who evoke a relationship similar to that of King Lear and Cordelia. Aaron Hendry’s hilarious and crowd-pleasing portrayal of Iachimo is a lighthearted take on the potentially malicious role, because he responsible for much of the grief in this play. An interesting and well-received directorial choice was to cast two women in male roles: Earnestine Philips and Samara Frame as Belarious and Arviragus, respectively. The association and addition of femininity augments the value of the themes of kinship and the “simple country life” in juxtaposition to the devious and overly ambitious ways of the city. Much like the setting of the theater itself suggests, the feeling one walks away with is that it is probably better to get out of the city more often, in order to appreciate humanity among nature, rather than against it.
Driving through the winding highway of Topanga Canyon on an early Sunday afternoon, one would hardly take notice of the Theatricum Botanicum’s entrance, hidden among the trees and hills just north of Santa Monica. Upon entering, it feels like walking through a secret hideaway, almost like entering the enchanted forests of A Midsummer Nights’ Dream. The gardens of the area attract butterflies and hummingbirds that just may be Shakespearean faeries, and an easy-going and peaceful attitude is hard not to catch. The Theatricum Botanicum, created by Will Geer as a safe-haven for actors and performers that were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, and the concealed grounds convey a feeling of escape from the everyday. It is one of the most enjoyable ways to see a live production of Shakespeare.
Cymbeline runs every Sunday at 3:30 PM, until September 27th. Also running this season in repertory are Julius Caesar, opening June 6th at 8:00 PM, The Cherry Orchard on June 27th, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on July 4th, and The Miser on July 25th. Ticket prices range from $10 to $30, with discounts available for seniors, students, Veterans, and children under 12.
Box Office: (310) 455-3723
1419 N. Topanga Cyn. Blvd., Topanga, CA
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Double, double, toil and trouble.
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Double, double, toil and trouble.
Something wicked this way comes!
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
lizard's leg and owlet's wing.
Double, double, toil and trouble.
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Double, double, toil and trouble.
Something wicked this way comes!
In the cauldron boil and bake,
fillet of a fenny snake,
scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
witches mummy, maw and gulf.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
*This is also a first draft on my ideas about 'Nothing' in King Lear. After class today, I'd like to revise a couple of ideas. Also, in class, there was an interesting question brought up that I'll address later: Why is it that the 'mad' men of this play are the only ones who speak the straightforward truth and reason? At one point, Tom of Bedlam is considered a philosopher by King Lear (who goes crazy, but that's part of the point, and I'll explain later).
Follow the metaphor of “Nothing” in the play. What comes of nothing that begins this play? How does it affect the development of one of the major themes within the play: madness, blindness, epideictic language of praise, authority, or identity?
In the early Young Man sonnets, Shakespeare writes purely epideictic and praises his love object, to the point of idealizing and turning a blind eye towards any flaws love object may contain. As Shakespeare writes more sonnets, there is a progression from the idealized and flowery language of the early Young Man, into the more honest and brutal language of the Dark Lady sonnets. The turning point is in Sonnet 130—“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”—when Shakespeare has abandoned the purely epideictic language of praise, in exchange for a more honest approach. Shakespeare also begins to appear in his own work, as the subjectivity of the poet is included in these later sonnets. This is illustrated in Sonnet 130, because the quality of confessing and revealing the true appearance of his love object, Shakespeare is also revealing his non-traditional, yet realistic relationship to the object—Gone are the platonic boundaries of Petrarchian love poetry.
The development of epideictic language of praise in “King Lear” is expanded upon, but it is mostly criticized in this play. The main critique is that it is ultimately a flowery way of saying “Nothing”. In the play, King Lear wants to leave his kingdom to his daughters, but in exchange, he wants to be eulogized with epideictic language. Of his three daughters, two of them, Regan and Goneril, don’t really have love for King Lear, but they have no problem exclaiming such love for him:
Goneril: “Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter;
Dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty.
Beyond what can be valued, rich or rare,
No less than life; with grace, health, beauty, honour” (1.1.53-56)
Here, Goneril speaks of a love that cannot be described by the normal senses, of a love that cannot be put into words—mainly because the love she has for her father doesn’t exist—her flowery language is thus a fancy way of saying nothing. As opposed to the way Cordelia describes her love for her father: “What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent.” (1.1.59) Perhaps Cordelia lacks a way with words, and clearly her tacit ways are some of the cause of the great tragedy in King Lear, but it is because Cordelia—whether she knows it or not—wants to prove a point to King Lear that he is foolish to want validation for a love that doesn’t exist. Only God can Present, to make something come from nothing – the problem of representation, being an imperfect form of presentation. King Lear performs blasphemy when he demands that something come out of nothing, as only God can create. He cannot demand that something materialize if it does not exist, the love of his daughters. Words don’t mean anything, and this is a lesson Lear must learn.
He rejects Cordelia’s straightforward answer by saying “Nothing will come of nothing, speak again” (1.1.90), and this is true, but it is also false. It is true in that a declaration of love will NOT magically manifest itself when there was no love to begin with, i.e. the absent love of Regan, Goneril, and even Edmond in regards to Gloucester. It is false as well, and Cordelia needs to prove this to her father, that something can come from nothing, and that is in her attempt at teaching Lear a lesson, by giving him a non-answer—a denial—when he seeks validation/eulogy/epideictic language he expects from his daughters. Cordelia is proving that something can indeed stem from nothing, and this is tragedy and catharsis.
Another aspect of the play that is developed is madness, as well as blindness. When Edgar becomes Tom o’ Bedlam, he loses his rational thought in exchange for nothingness—“Enforce their charity. ‘Poor Tuelygod, Poor Tom.’ That’s something yet, Edgar I nothing am.” (3.3.177). By claiming to have nothing, he is able to descend to the level of madness that King Lear embraces and Gloucester flirts with. Blindness is explored, when Gloucester is blind to the sincerity of Edgar, who joins him in poverty as Tom, and blind to the manipulation of his bastard son Edmond. It is only when Gloucester is literally and ironically blinded, that he does become ‘unblinded’ to the fact that his son Edmond has betrayed him, and that Edgar is the truly honorable one.
How is Shylock used as a scapegoat for the plot of this play? That is, how does Shylock allow for the comic end of this play?
The play is centered around contracts, deals, bonds, agreements, legal matters. The problem here is that nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions. The solution is absolution through the law, selfishness prevails, being acquitted. The problem with the law is that it is not real justice—it is corruptible by man. The winner is he who has the quickest wit to see and make loopholes, a woman???
Portia doesn’t want to reject her suitors, because she wants to remain polite, and so the test works out in her favor—She gets lucky and doesn’t have to reject anybody. Once her limits are gone, however, she gets to show how she is smarter than men! Without her father’s rules, she proves to be more capable of saving Antonio and out-witting Shylock.
The test of a true Christian: virtue to be humble, to give all –“to hazard all he hath” (LEAD)—rather than pride, arrogance (SILVER), self-doubt, and giving in to desire (GOLD).
Antonio and Bassanio don’t want to repay, or never planned on repaying Shylock. They end up getting off on a technicality. Bassanio takes advantage of Antonio’s love for him, and uses him to gain “fortune” to woo Portia in style.
Shylock who is determined to hell that he will make them pay, that he will FINALLY get people to take responsibility for their actions backfires in his exploitation. He is guilty of trying to usurp God’s power, rather than to be a true Jew and to show faith in his endurance of grievances.
Shylock is likened to THE DEVIL in this play
Shylock, who has made a seemingly concrete deal, is defeated by a loophole, a technicality. Read the fine print, basically.
Shylock who represents trying to exploit the law for revenge, or justice, taking advantage of the legal system of men to usurp God’s privilege of vengeance, is punished.
Shylock is the Debbie Downer. He is defeated by a technicality.
“If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Expressed in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me”
He was too caught up in vengeance, and his adherence to law (which is on his side) that his downfall was on a legal technicality. A loophole was the deux ex machina that allowed for such a villainous character to fall.
A woman has outsmarted the villain—a man. But only by claiming to be a Man.
A woman has command over the law, over he who had claimed authority and revenge over man. By attempting to usurp God’s privilege of vengeance, a woman has usurped man’s command over law and reason.
Christian’s blame Jews for the death of Jesus. Anti-Semitism is condoned, Shylock is a complete villain, save for pieces of humanity—3.1.49-55 “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions . . . ? If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”/ his ring for his wife—but is too enamored by revenge. It’s NOT greed!
Antonio is a symbol of all who have done Shylock wrong, as he is an Anti-Semite, he wants revenge on everybody. If Shylock succeeds, it sends a clear message to Christians.
A scapegoat – got off on a technicality, just like Portia’s suitors—she trusted in the rules, and all men who chose wrong, followed the rules:
“Besides, the lott’ry of my destiny
Bars me the right of voluntary choosing.
But if my father had not scanted me,
And hedged me by his wit to yield myself
His wife who wins me by that means I told you,
Yourself, renowned Prince, then stood as fair
As any comer I have looked on yet
For my affection.”
“Portia adieu. I have too grieved a heart
To take a tedious leave. Thus losers part.”