wheresmycow: (cabinpressure02)
When I became a literature major, I didn't expect to start hating some of the texts I read. I certainly didn't expect to find that analyzing them could be a horrible chore and not a pleasure at all.

Take my current problem, for example: to write a 25+page in-depth analysis of Gertrude Stein's Three Lives; if possible, to come up with some original insight into its creation, reception, and influence on modern American literature.

What else is there to say, though? I can talk about how much of an influence Cubism had on Stein and her work (and how much influence she had on it, thanks to her and Leo's palling around with the Parisian artist's community); taking that idea further, I can write about how much her experimental style reflected and influenced early 20th-century literary modernism; we can discuss the sexual politics of "The Good Anna" and/or racial politics of "Melanctha", even though I find analyses like these irritating and exhausting; I can go back and mine Stein's work with William James and the Harvard Psychology Laboratory for some juicy tidbits about her characterization style.

Thing is, it's all been done. I'm currently surrounded by a sea of printouts of journal articles talking about everything I mentioned above. The only other approach I can think of at the moment is to discuss the significance of threes in Stein's life and work made manifest in Three Lives (also, Cubism. See, cube = three. Get it? *groans*), and right now I don't know how to spin that one without making me sound like some weird New Age fool.

The problem here, too, is that I have now read Three Lives backwards, forwards, and sideways, and I can tell you this: I hate it. I HATE IT. I have never liked the Modernist Literature movement and its dreary misery and emptiness. I hated the literary and linguistic experimentation and how it was all so dreadfully artificial and frequently got in the way of whatever story there was -- and sometimes there wasn't any story to speak of, nothing but a mess. It takes an extremely talented writer to make his or her experimentation seem fluid and organic, and as far as I was concerned Joyce (and to a certain extent Woolf) did it. I am a formalist at heart, and Miss Stein, all you did here was annoy me. Especially with "Melanctha" and its meanderingly circular way of storytelling. Talk about ending not with a bang but with a whimper.

I want to make it clear that I'm not against all literary and linguistic experimentation here -- literature would stagnate if it didn't occur -- but there's a huge slush pile of mediocrity to wade through, here.

It feels like a rat race, sometimes.




Gosh, that felt good. I'm sure I'll regret a lot of the things I've said here by tomorrow, but right now, it feels really good.
wheresmycow: (Default)

1400. Oh god. Melanctha is so, so irritating. And I'm not just talking about the prose style. I do so loathe Naturalism.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

wheresmycow: (Default)

Right now I'm sitting in the Starbucks across the street from where I live, trying valiantly yet vainly to concentrate on Gertrude Stein's infinitely irritating prose style. I've got a whole sofa set, all four seats, all to myself--it pays to be here early--but I keep trying to eavesdrop on the pastor (and his parishioners? relatives? don't know, who cares) sitting on the set behind me.

It's annoying, though, that I can't make out the words. I'm particularly sensitive to low baritones--it overrides all other sounds, which is why I pitch my brother out of the living room whenever I'm trying to watch TV--so here I am, trying to read Melanctha but with a relentless susurrus (sic? can't look up proper spelling right now) in the background.

Gah. It's enough to make me scream in frustration. But since I would like to come back here in the future, am posting crossly about it instead.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

wheresmycow: (Default)


This morning, I got a call from my mother, in Gubat:

     "Did you see the news? Nag-erupt na ang Bulusan!"

     "I'm doing the shopping, ma. Hasn't it been erupting for the past few months na?"

     "Well, yes, but it BLEW UP!"

     "WHAT?! Crap! Does this mean our flight this Wednesday's cancelled?"

     "Don't worry, the wind's blowing the other way -- but WE CAN SEE THE MUSHROOM CLOUD FROM HERE!"

     "WHAT?!"

     "Ooooh! Tita Betsy took pictures!"
wheresmycow: (sarcastic)
Pam Pastor's little rant column "The next person who asks me when I'm getting married will get punched in the face" posted in the Inquirer this afternoon was quite interesting and illuminating, not just for its content but also for the varied responses to its content. In it, she describes in horrifically accurate detail what single women like myself are subjected to, not just during the holidays, but during almost every single family gathering.

I am, like Pam, also 30 (okay, 31) and not even the fact that I have two older unmarried sisters can insulate me from the inevitable questions and the consequent looks of pity. Just this past Christmas, at one of those aforesaid family gatherings, I was just sitting on the couch minding my own business when one of my older cousins sidled up and whispered, "O, ikaw, kailan ka naman ikakasal?" ("So, Mary Ann, when are you getting married?")

If she thought it was an ideal conversation-starter, well, it wasn't. If you're single and unattached and with no desperate immediate plans to rectify that situation... what do you say to something like that? I admit, a slew of responses similar to and yet more uncharitable than Pam's did go zip! like a bunny in my head. What stopped me from unleashing the full force of my withering sarcasm, though, was the tiny yet shrill voice of my conscience screeching "She meant well! She meant well!"

And that's the trouble, isn't it? Most people who ask this question always mean well. They genuinely are interested in and worried about your future. I remember staring at my cousin for a full five seconds, searching for some sign of malice aforethought in her face (Alas, there was none. She's from the branch of the family that wouldn't know deadpan irony if it goosed them on the backside. She honestly believed that this was The Right Thing To Do) before smiling awkwardly and saying "Walang oras, alam mo naman, laging busy." ("Oh, you know how it is, no time, waaaay too busy.")

And that would have been the end of that, if she hadn't added, "Oo, kasi para habang pwede pang magka-anak, di ba?" ("Oh yes, you should get married while you can still have babies, right?")

Goddammit so much.

You know what really irks me about questions like that? It's the assumptions inherent in them. The state of matrimony and motherhood is apparently the Holy Grail of being a woman, and anyone who makes the conscious decision to either postpone or completely write off one or the other is apparently someone that needs to be saved from themselves. And any protest, however mild, is looked at as hurtful and offensive towards someone who only wants what's best for you. Looking at some of the comments left on Pam's article certainly cements that impression.

(Some people on that comments board do make the point that it's part of Filipino culture, this intrusive questioning. Oh yes, it's right up there with "near-non-existent grasp of irony" and "no concept of personal space". To people who try to excuse that behavior by saying it's "part of the culture": Screw you. It's annoying in every culture.)

Here's the thing: Yes, I am single. No, I am not seeing anyone at the moment, but even if I was it sure as hell wouldn't be with the intent of dragging him down the aisle lickety-split. Quite frankly, dearest cousin, I'm really not interested in getting married at this time because 1) I dislike fuss and weddings are the very definition of fuss; 2) it will inevitably lead to questions like "O, kailan ka ba magkaka-anak?" ("So, when are you having kids?") or, more rudely, "O, buntis ka na ba?" ("Aren't you pregnant yet?"); and 3) I have no interest in enabling your self-validation.

If and when I do decide to get married, it won't be because there's this societal, cultural need to do so before the age of 40; quite frankly, I'm quite open to the idea of--dun dun dun! LIVING IN SIN--provided it's with the right person. I will get married because I and whoever I choose want to. And if that happens when I'm 55 with no possibility of having kids, well, that's fine.

Don't worry, I'll still invite you to the wedding. Don't be scandalized if I don't wear white, though.



WERE YOU AWARE OF IT?: The Philippines is one of only TWO countries (the other being Malta) where divorce is illegal. So basically (except under extreme extenuating circumstances): you break it, you bought it.
wheresmycow: (Default)
...sorry. still a bit hungover.
wheresmycow: (Default)
I've been feeling progressively dumber this past year, so this Christmas I'm unearthing all my old lit crit books, lecture notes, etc. from storage and studying all over again. So, basically, I'm going back to school.

NO, [livejournal.com profile] freehold, not literally! Of course, I may need to take out a few books from the University library (thank you, University of the Philippines Alumni Association Lifetime Membership Card!) sometime in the process. But wow, I'm so badly out of practice at this lit crit gig, I'm not even sure where to start anymore.

Now, where are Professor Aureus's class notes again?

WTF?

Aug. 29th, 2010 03:50 pm
wheresmycow: (Default)
I'm just finally getting over the stupid pneumonia and I was finally enjoying not feeling like a tired old wet dishrag after a week, and now I've got a bloody FULL-BODY RASH?! FUCK!

*insert impressive Malcolm Tucker-style swearing*

ETA: ANOTHER ALLERGY?! Why are you bloody things showing up 25+ years overdue?! If it turns out to be that crisp turbo-roasted chicken for lunch or Ma's delicious gravy I AM GOING TO SERIOUSLY HURT SOMEONE.
wheresmycow: (Default)
Even if My Boy doesn't win, I will be fine with Wet Noodle becoming President. Maybe after several drunken binges I will also be fine with the Grasping Orange Opportunist being President as well.

But if Erap WINS... Dammit, then what the hell was EDSA II for?!

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