Thursday, March 29, 2007

Attribution (Annotation G1-8/Goddard)

“Dialogue Attribution,” he said.
“Is distracting,” I said.
“Is it distracting?” she said.
“In Faulkner’s story,” he said.
“It is distracting,” she said.

“That Evening Sun,” is completely dialogue driven. Nearly the entire story is told trough the conversations of the characters. Everything revealed is discovered through the voices of the characters themselves. Often times there are upwards of five characters speaking at one time and several conversations are going at once. This in itself may be difficult to follow, however Faulkner has given the readers all they need to know and everything that is said is given attribution. Despite the clarity of who is saying what and when, the attribution to every line of dialogue becomes annoying at times and completely distracting.
“You’re worse,” Caddy said, “you are a tattletale. If something was to jump out, you’d be scairder than a nigger.”
“I wouldn’t,” Jason said.
“You’d cry,” Caddy said.
“Caddy,” Father said.
“I wouldn’t,” Jason said.
“Scairy cat,” Caddy said.
“Candance!” Father said.
It’s incessant. It’s on every page, with every character and it doesn’t stop. I gives me the sneaking impression Faulkner had the normal typewriter of his day but there was a special button “said” which he liked to use.
The dialogue itself is fascinating, no doubt about it. All the events of a Monday morning in Jefferson are told exclusively through conversation. The information is dense too; I had to read the story three times. On the third read, I read the story aloud to an audience. About the time everyone left the main house and went through the hole in the fence and to Nancy’s house a few thought plagued me. First, Faulkner must have been drunk as he wrote this piece, and the attributions at the end of each and everything anyone said were for his benefit and not for the benefit of the readers. How else would he be able to keep everyone straight? Secondly, Faulkner had to have worked in a mode of utter silence. As he wrote, I doubt he read anything aloud. Reading “That Evening Sun,” is tolerable when quietly read to oneself.
“Reading it out loud to others is a grating experience,” I said
“Because it doesn’t flow,” she said.
“There are too many pauses,” he said.
“Conversation isn’t like that,” he said.
“What’d you say?” she said.
The last thought during the read aloud visit of Faulkner, it was less confusing to listeners and to reader alike to simply leave off half the ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ attributions. There was no breech in the story, and it seemed to flow a little better.
In the last examination of “That Evening Sun,” read quietly to myself, I knew exactly what was going on and ignored the attributions entirely. Better flow? Absolutely. Less distracting? Absolutely. It is practically unnecessary, the voices of the characters and what they said should be enough, after all they have voices of the their own.

Faulkner, William. “That Evening Sun.” 50 Great Short Stories. Ed. Milton Crane. New York: Bantam Books, 1952. 352-367.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Process Paper G1-3/Goddard

rimarily thank you for your time on the telephone last week. I must admit I felt a great deal relieved and rejuvenated after our conversation. It also enjoyed the comments on my work in the return packet. I have gotten over some hurtles during the work on packet number three. Rewriting has proved to be more exciting than I would have thought. It is still a challenge as I am sure it will continue to be. However, I am quite pleased with the results.

Change number one in my mode of work this go around, I spent more time with the notebook and pen, and I only approached the computer when I was ready to clean things up a bit. I think there must be something a little more tactile about the old system, and although I want to be more high-tech and savvy in this modern age, there is something more comforting in sitting under a tree with the notebook. Yes, I have taken to sitting under trees as spring is moving along here with alarming force, the winter is over.

Thank you for accepting the Huxley and the Johnson annotation. Having at least two of them under my belt made the task of rewriting tolerable. More tolerable? Actually, it made the task enjoyable. My confidence in these critical pieces is building, as well as the confidence in myself.

The annotations: I took what you’ve said both in comments and in our conversation very seriously. For the first time since this process has begun, I feel like I’m getting a grasp on it. What’s more, I’m really looking forward to doing more of them. The revision of the Dickey annotation was tough to get started. I read the book before I left Vermont, so there were many things clouding my memory. After a few days of rereading the text as well as my first draft, I decided to simplify. After cut much of the fat it became easier to see my thoughts, and as a surprise to me, easier to see my thoughts on the page.

Zamyatin and the colors of We went as smoothly. The other annotation, the Book of Ecclesiastes I just tried to have fun with it. I hope you have fun with it too. This book, although mired deep in old language and biblical mumbo jumbo was enjoyable to read, and even a little funny. As I have indicated in the second title of my annotation, I’m grateful to have read this book on a sunny day. Macabre stuff really, and I enjoyed it terribly.

As I’m looking at my reading list for the upcoming annotations, and after reading your response attachment, “Write Till You Drop” by Annie Dillard, I’ve decided to try something new. In the next line up, I’m planning to focus on the short stories on my list. Even looking at the Steinbeck story I realize so much is being said in short space. Since we’ve been discussing diction, and syntax and the like perhaps, a spell of micro-examination of sentences is in order here. I’m busy rethinking.

My creative work is moving along. I’m concerned about many of the things you’ve expressed concern. Yes, I think the structure is going to be an issue. Well, actually I know structure is an issue. It’s already an issue. Fortunately, in this installment you will be meeting the last character I plan to introduce. A stately older gentleman named Papa. Things are getting exciting, and I’m still trying to puzzle it together. The introduction of Papa although planned, is absolutely crucial. Aside from my narrator, he is the only other male in the story. He is also the only character who will not get deported or dead. What’s to come I think will be exciting. Currently, I have a small stack of handwritten vignettes, which will be requiring attention. My mode of work is to spend a little time on it everyday. This story is with me most of my day and even into the night. One night last week, I had such an amazing dream that stuck with me most of the day and it several hours later I realized its importance. I have a snapshot-type dream and it was in wild dream fashion the end of the story. So knowing now how it ends I don’t want to rush to get there too soon.

I’m considering the process already of the revision of this Omma Opus; however, I really want to finish the writing of this story first. I need plenty of guidance, but I don’t know what the specific of this guidance is just yet. I do appreciate having you as an audience with it, and please know I am taking all critics and suggestions seriously. At this point in the semester, I’m seeing the improbability of volume of the story. Do you think I should just keep on truckin’ with it, get it all down, and spend a subsequent semester in the revision? If that’s the case, we probably ought to take about extending our relationship into the next term… However, I’m probably getting ahead of myself.

The Annie Dillard attachment you sent struck a chord with me. I initially read it a couple of time shortly after our conversation on Friday, and I have since read it a third time. Great motivation, and written with confidence which I’m just now starting to understand. Jeez, it seems I’m very optimistic about the process today. Well, it is a sunny day.

I can’t think of anything else to address in this letter. In rehash, thank you again for the time and care, I believe the quality of my critical work is improving, and I am trusting in the process.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Description of Beauty and Strength in Elisa Allen (Annotation G1-7/Goddard)

Elisa Allen’s character in John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” may be a study of beauty and strength but each is only a facade. Steinbeck introduces the reader to only three characters in this short story, Henry Allen, Elisa’s husband and a traveling fix-it man. Elisa attempts to display both beauty and strength to each.
“It was a time of quiet and of waiting.” (283) As the fog of winter covers the Salinas valley Elisa is quietly cultivating her Chrysanthemums. “Her figure looked blocked and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat pulled down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets to hold the snips, the trowel, and scratcher, the seeds and the knife she worked with. She wore heavy leather gloves to protect her hands as she worked.” (283) In this initial tableau, Steinbeck describes a woman doing her designated work task. As gender roles go, it is not impossible to see the wife of the ranch out from digging in a flowerbed. The care used her to describe her garb puts the fa├žade of this worker into perspective. In such heavy clothing and laboring over such a minute task, the reader cannot help but to place this woman into view. The black man’s hat, and pulled down over her eyes brings an image of a child wearing an adult’s hat. “Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water.” (283) Even clear as water one must get right up to Elisa and under the brim of the hat to see her eyes. The fix-it man gets just that close too. Entreating her for work, this fix-it man is as close as the fence, which separates the flowerbed from the animals of the ranch. Seemingly self-conscious of her appearance the meeting makes Elisa acts less blocked. “Elisa took off her gloves and stuffed them in the apron pocket with the scissors. She touched the under edge of the man’s hat searching for fugitive hairs.” (286)
After a quick conversation of the Chrysanthemum sprouts, Elisa finds work for the man to do. She watches the man, inquiring details of his existence and believes she has the strength to live the way he does. “You might be surprised to have a rival some time. I can sharpen scissors too. And I can beat the dents out of little pots. I could show you what a woman might do.” (286)
As the man exits in his wagon, Elisa retires to the house to get ready for a night out in town. As the heavy clothes come off, she bathes. “After a while she began to dress, slowly. She put on her newest under-clothing and her nicest stockings and the dress, which was a symbol of her prettiness. She worked carefully on her hair, penciled her eyebrows, and rouged her lips.” (290) Henry upon seeing her sees something different in his wife. He explains how strong she looks to him: “You look strong enough to break a calf over your knee, happy enough to eat it like a watermelon.” (290) Despite the care, she had just given to her appearance she agrees with her husband: “I never knew before how strong.” (290)
The care given to her appearance after a day of work in her gardening costume is impressive, but the clothes do not make the man, or in this case the woman. Likewise, despite the care given to describe her strength she is not nearly as strong as someone who might be inclined to break a calf over her knee. The haunting end of the story is in the car along a country road moving toward town. Dolled up as she talks to her husband about the prizefights in town; however, she is not intending to see a fight herself but asks if women go to see them. As the car approaches the wagon of the fix-it man on the road the flush of emotion, come over Elisa. “She turned her coat collar up so he could not see that she was crying weakly – like an old woman.”

Steinbeck, John. “The Chrysanthemums.” 50 Great Short Stories. Ed. Milton Crane. New York: Bantam Books, 1952. 282-291.

Zamyatin’s Use of Colors in We (Annotation G1-6/Goddard)

In the Record 1 (First chapter) D-503, the narrator and the builder of the INTEGRAL explains the future when the space craft will leave Earth for a greater cause: “…to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the necks of the unknown beings who inhabit other planets – still living, it may be, in the primitive state known as happiness.” (Zamyatin 3) This understanding of D-503’s world, no individuality, no humanity, no color and no shadows, D-503 has a white washed world to see everyday. He has never known anything different and he is the one tell the story. As he discovers colors, and tells them to his readers the colors an impact which is describable more than just the adjective itself. The use of color in WE, although a mere words, gives more image than explanation in total. In a city without color, all representations of color have specific emotional meaning.
“I can’t imagine a city that isn’t girdled about with a Green Wall.” (Zamyatin 12). This city which is steel and glass is surrounded by a “Green Wall’ which separates the life of it’s denizens from the natural world. “From beyond the Green Wall, from the wild plains out of sight in the distance, the wind is carrying the honeyed yellowed pollen of some flower.” (Zamyatin 5) The difficulties of this conception for D-503 are simply he has never seen the other side of the wall, nor has he seen a flower, nor anything organic. “And then what a sky! Blue, unsullied by a single cloud… I love – and I am sure that I am right in saying we love – only such a sky as this one today: sterile and immaculate.” (Zamyatin 5)
“They give you a careful going – over in the Sexual Bureau labs and determine the exact content of your sexual hormones in your blood and work out your correct Table of Sex Days. Then you fill out a declaration that on your days you’d like to make use of Number (or Numbers) so – and – so and they hand you the corresponding book of tickets (pink). And that’s it.” (Zamyatin 22) D-503 while waiting the demonstration day of the INTERAL D-503 has pink ticket time first with O-90 and later with I-330. While O-90 is a soft woman whom he’s had longer relations, I-330 holds his imagination. I-330 creates the change in D-503: “on the corner in the white fog. Blood. Cut with a sharp knife. It was her lips.” (Zamyatin 70) She has come through the white world of OneState and she has both delivered and condemned D-503. “The two of us walked along as one. Somewhere a long ways off through the fog you could hear the sun singing, everything was supple, pearly, golden, pink, red. The whole world was one immense woman and we were in her very womb, we hadn’t yet been born, we were joyously ripening.” (Zamyatin 71)
Perplexing scientific changes, alarming growth in technology and new political ideologies are the priming of the pump for new fears, new sensibilities, and grim outlooks on life. Zamyatin, a Russian, lived through the brunt of it. In his society that shuns individuality, creativity and imagination are dangerous to the state. Zamyatin uses color to spark imagination in D-503, and later in others who still have soul. For the rest of Numbers soul and dreams are considered illness. Conceptually speaking anything outside of a white washed world, a sterile sky and white yunnies how can colors not spark imagination?

Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. New York: Penguin Books, 1993