Thursday, September 13, 2007

Carbs in my belly and a thorn in my paw...

Yep, you heard it. I had an assload of carbs for lunch. That's a gargantuan amount, people.
  • Grilled ham and cheese sandwich
  • Fries
  • Sugar cookies

So take that! Not a real vegetable in the group! I like to think that by Thursday I'm under significant enough duress to wear really ugly, ill-fitting clothes, flat shoes, eat horrible food and generally hermitize myself by staying in the office all day. I have to be here for FOURTEEN HOURS. So, by God, I'm gonna be comfortable and well fed. I might have a baked potato with chili on it for dinner. Then I might take a nap.

Or not. I would kinda like to live to see tomorrow and all.

New addiction of the day: Facebook! If you're a member, lemme know and I'll add you. If you'd like to exchange last names away from ye olde blog, e-mail me at trippingtowardlucidity (at) yahoo (dot) com.

But that's really beside the point. I come to you today with a rant. A book rant (there went half the blog readers right there...*waves bye-bye*).

A while back, I watched an interview with Harold Bloom on BookTV, and while I was completely rapt--neverendingly interested in this squat, rotund man's point of view--he also angered me a little. Well, perhaps angered isn't the right word...perturbed? Ruffled? Whatever, he threw me into at least 15 minutes of serious reflection.

And I should mention, for those not familiar with Sir Bloom, he's a professor at Yale and NYU who advocates an aesthetic approach to literary interpretion, as opposed to all those "isms" and "ists": Feminist, Marxist, etc.

In part, Bloom discussed his ideas on the state of reading and literary study today by going on about the tragedy that is multi-culturalism. Bloomy thinks it's ridiculous that intellectuals study various cultures in literature for the sake of culture. That is, he's pissed that people are interested in Mexican literature or African American literature or Slavic literature because he claims that those individuals are more interested in the culture than the literature itself. As a result, he says, people will study any old crap in the name of their preferred "ism."

Now, I have to tell you, and I'm sure you won't be surprised to know, that I am NOT a traditionalist when it comes to...anything, really. That's not to say that I don't enjoy tradition or that I don't appreciate books that are traditionally included in the Western literary canon, I just don't get all crazy about it. And I get MORE than a little excited about all things literarily contemporary. For God's sake, I focused 98% of my Master's degree on Children's Literature and Graphic Narrative (comics). Not so much with the traditional, yes?

Bloomy says, "Take Dante as your textbook." And he ripped it off from someone, but I'm not at home to watch the show and see who he was talking about (and I'm entirely too lazy to Google it). In any event, Bloomy thinks we've forsaken the "greats." The greats, he concludes, are Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and he doesn't list many others, although I'm sure they're plentiful and very, very dead. I know he likes Cormac McCarthy, but that's as contemporary as he happened to mention in that particular interview.

Rambling? Yes! I realize. Hang with me...

I find it a disturbing thought, and quite a tired sentiment to think that multi-culturalism and other fields of cultural study are destroying literature and literary study. Bloom strikes me as one who is ridiculously brilliant and also significantly resistant to change. I personally chose to study Children's Lit and Graphic Narrative because 1) I enjoy them 2) they are challenging 3) they suit my interests and proclivity for visual narratives...a hangover from my art school days 4) they're hot and sexy in today's academic market. They've always been around (for the most part, anyway), they just haven't been studied much up to this point. They've been underappreciated and underexamined. And, like it or not, they are a cultural mirror.

So, I guess, at the end of the day, I just wish Bloomy would get his panties out of a twist. Essentially, I don't disagree with him, we should certainly take Dante as our textbook, but then we should move on to others with our abilities to think, analyze and reimagine and apply those skills to what's new and what's evolving.

Or maybe I'm just one of those evil multi-culturalist bastards out to kill literature. Who knows?

And for the hell of it, a very short list of my favorite old dead white guys (canonical, traditional) and some of my supa-contemporary favorites:

Canonical Works

  • Hamlet and Othello, Shakespeare
  • Inferno, Dante
  • Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
  • Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
  • Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser
  • Lolita, Nabokov

Supa-Contemporary

  • The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
  • The Human Stain, Philip Roth
  • The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  • The Blindfold, Siri Hustvedt
  • Beasts, Joyce Carol Oates
  • Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Yang

13 comments:

  1. I'm very happy to say that I've read all of your dead peeps books but sad to say I've only read one of your picks on the other list. I think I have a bit of catching up to do.

    p.s. I think culture rocks.

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  2. I've always believed that potatoes were real vegetables, so you're covered. And the baked potato/chili thing sounds like a perfectly acceptable dinner choice!

    I don't have the time to wander around Facebook much, but I'm over there. Feel free to look for me (I'll bet you can figure out how...)!

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  3. your lunch sounds fantastic! must go find food....

    i will read the rest once I find said food and report back...

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  4. C'mon, potatoes are a vegetable. Even fried. :)

    I like your book choices. Haven't read any Auster -- I keep seeing his name pop up on various blogs.

    I am a Facebook member, but I don't remember much more than that. (I'm part of a literary magazine group or something.) I'll get back to you.

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  5. Harold Bloom makes my ass twitch. He makes a perfectly valid point that the "classics" need to be taught, but he's so damned stodgy about it. I lost all interest in what he has to say when he slammed Harry Potter and said kids should read Shakespeare. Now, I agree that kids should read Shakespeare, but nobody slams Harry Potter in my presence and gets away with it. ;)

    People like Harold Bloom make me want to get my Ph.D. and teach comic books and trashy mainstream film.

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  6. I spend far too much time on Facebook! I will look you up.

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  7. Oh I forgot to tell you to look me up on facebook. I'm really obsessed too. Should I email you?

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  8. Jen, I'll look you up! Nik, e-mail me because I don't think I know your last name.

    The rest of you...sit still, I'll be right back!

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  9. Harold is kind of a gripey, stuffy, old coot. Although I own and have read the Western Canon, I too, feel a twitch in my butt whenever I read him. Sometimes he just blabs along and I ask myself why do I read him, but then he will say something really good and I'll come back for more.

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  10. Good for you and a little carb in the diet!! I could never in a million years give up carbs!!

    I haven't like Bloom since he dissed on Stephen King. Not everyone has be a super-acedemic to be a good writer!! So, I like Stephen King. Sue me!!

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  11. hey i did a book review sort of ... i try i try i just suck at them.... bah...

    really im here to say WOO HOOO im on facebook...

    corinna liscumb carlson invite me woo hoo! :)

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  12. Nik, culture does rock! That should be on a bumper sticker.

    Os, just because you believe taters are veggies doesn't make it so. lol Will look you up on facebook!

    Cold, I hope lunch was yumtastic! I'm starrrrving right now!

    LK, do get back to me, cuz I'd love to add ya. As for Auster, you MUST read him. I think you'd probably like his stuff. Start with The New York Trilogy, although some of his others are more "normal." Maybe The Brooklyn Follies.

    Discriminating Fangirl (you're giving my fingers a workout typing that...maybe I'll just call you DF now)...ass twitch! Yes! perfect way to describe it. *doing my best Meg Ryan impression*

    Fem, I'm about to read How to Read and Why, and I'll let you know if my ass survives or if it twitches right off.

    Steph, I didn't know he'd gone off on Stephen King! Must know more!

    LOL, Corinna! I can't wait to read your review!

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  13. Do you have the pirate app on Facebook??? ARRR!!!

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