Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Last One

Well, I've been thinking for a bit about what I wanted to say in this final post and I don't know how to end this journal of sorts. I thought about going back through the texts and talking about each one, but that feels to final. So, I'm just gonna write about what we talked about in class today.
All semester I have been doing the readings and trying to find a way to relate myself to the texts, sometimes I'm successful, other times I dragged my feet through the pages and can't wait for the end. But, the one thing that I am always able to do is relate whatever we read to one of the numerous literary theories I've learned about in my other class. For me, I've really become interested in deconstruction and really trying to separate the meaning from the text. This is not an easy way to read anything, but I find it very interesting. I find that this goes hand in hand with linguistics and really trying to figure out where the meaning is in any given text. I read The House of Mirth trying the whole time to deconstruct the text and really find different meanings within the story. I found this to be very hard and mentally taxing and half way through I just stopped. It was starting to ruin the story for me and I didn't want to do that to something that I liked. Unfortunately this is what I found to be the most troubling thing about deconstructing a text, you begin to lose sight of the story and when you are done, it is nothing like what it started as. I guess thats what happens with deconstruction?
Another thing I wanted to mention before signing off for good...this is my second go around at college and I took 4 years off between when I started out of high school until now. I mention this because i spent a lot of time thinking about education and what exactly do you gain from spending $40,000 dollars on an education and how does it all tie in together? I've never really been able to answer that question and I find it troubling. But, today I had a break through of sorts while we were talking about literary theory and the authors we have been reading. Sometimes you forget that what you learn and why you learn what you do in the classes you take. But it's days like today where it all comes together. The things we learn in one class, can in some way be carried over to another. It is when we lose sight of this that school becomes a drag and we question why it is we are sinking ourselves further and further in debt. But, we need to hold out and remember why we are here and really value what it is we are doing. We are becoming studious, well rounded people who will leave here and bring something to the world that most other people can't. And thats having an arsenal of great literature behind us, making us historians and poets, writers and thinkers, readers and leaders. It is in classes like 368 that supply us with more weapons for the real world, giving us an obscure quote to draw on in just the right situation. Go us. This has been fun.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Ending of Mirth

As the last of the chapeters in the House of Mirth were consumed I found myself totally unsatisfied. I dont understand the reason that niether Lily or Sledon come out and express their love. I was actually at the poitn where I had to put the book down, and remind myself that this isn't real life, but as I was calming myself I was thinking about a the same feelings I had during The Blithedale Romance. The way I feel about novles is more like an investment, you invest your time and effort into it hoping for some sort of pay off, but that doesn't always happen. This novel and others like it, leave the audience feeling empty at the end, the investment of Lily and Seldon never matures to the point where there is a gratifying payoff. Watching Lily go through this novel and not only miss her opportunity at loving someone but, missing her chance to tell the one she really loves that she in fact does love him, leaves us with nothing. Why have a novel that never reaches its ultimate potential? This makes me wonder if Wharton felt the same way I do after I finish, like the piece was never fully developed or reached felt final in any way.
The other thing I've been wondering and really trying to work out in my head, is why exactly does Lily not play her trump card and expose Bertha for who she really is. This makes absolutely no sense. All Lily really wants is to be part of high society, yet she seems to want to do it in a quasi honest way. Whereas everyone else around her doesn't care how they get their status, just as long as they get it. Again, this only adds to the frustration that is Lily. She never reaches her potential as a character and to me this is perplexing, Wharton alomst teases us with this character and this book.
As I get my closure with this book, I understand where this book stands within the canon.
Good book, but very limiting when in characters develope....or don't.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The house of mirth

As I've read this book and thought about the characters I've developed a sort of affection for the era in which this piece was written. Personally I really enjoy the modernist novels, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner and this book falls into that same category. There is something about the time that really holds a firm place with me. I think what The House of Mirth really does for me is shed light on the foundation of the novels I love. One of my favorite books is The Beautiful and the Damned by Fitzgerald, and we wouldn't have that book, if we didn't have The House of Mirth.
I mentioned in class today how much a like both of these novels are and the more I think about the characters the more they become eerily similar. Anthony Patch and Seldon are both very similar in how they feel about the women they love, but even past that I think it's how neither one of them get to the life they want. Even better though, I think this is a sign of the modern movement and The House of Mirth leads the way. I feel that almost all of the modernity canon is a failure for the characters to live up to the expectations of the lives they want and ultimately find their demise. For this hypothesis to hold true, someone is going to have to die or really take a hard fall in The House of Mirth, if I were to guess right now I'd say Lilly. But, I've read The Sound and the Fury, Babbit, Manhattan Transfer and some others, but the one thing that seems to happen is a failure to live up to the status set out by high society or society in general. The House of Mirth has all of the same qualities as these modern novels and it's because of that, that I feel the same thing is going to happen.
Finally, today I asked where this novel fits in Modern Lit. and it was decided that it's sort of in between two periods. Which I see, but I feel like this is a modern novel, just the very beginning of the period. But, what really interests me is the gap between our readings for the semester. We started with Blithedale and have ended up here at The House of Mirth and the novels couldn't be more different. I mention this because I find it fascinating how quickly literature progresses from one period to the next, always evolving and changing into something better and stronger. Being able to see this on paper from beginning to end really hammers the point home, that nothing can stand or has stood in the way of the progression of literature.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Like I said in class today, Greed the movie, was hard to watch and follow. Probably because I'm not used to watching silent movies but, nonetheless I got the gist. I think what I found really interesting was the selection of actors used. To be honest, I don't know any of their names, but they didn't fit the mold I had created in my mind of what they should look like. As I think about it, I do this with a lot of the books I read and in the rare occasion they become movies I am constantly let down. This is no exception. McTeague, in my mind, was a big scary man with almost inhuman power. In the movie I didn't find him scary at all and it really took away from the effect of the book. I thought this book was really creepy and seems like a real life situation but the movie didn't give me the same feeling. Trina, in my mind, was a beautiful innocent looking girl but in the movie she looked almost demonic. She scared me more then McTeague. Because of the character in the movie, the movie seemed a little cartoonish and not very believable. To be fair, I am trying to be as objective as possible, but I don't really see the book in the movie. Obviously the scenes are the same, but the intensity is missing. The book was riveting at times and the movie wasn't.
I thought Greed was going to do a really good job of making a book come to life, but I was let down. Overall, the movie didn't do the book justice and it's unfortunate because it could be something really special, especially if the intensity of the book spilled over to the movie.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Today in class we had a brief discussion about the omitted section from the book and it seems that even though we can obviously make the connection of what happens, reading the details makes this more scary and real. Professor Campbell agreed that omitting those two paragraphs made the scene more creepy and scary but I disagree. Had this been a movie and we could see the build up of McTeagues last attack and had some sort of cut-away to the end, then the effect is much more intense. But, actually reading the words seems to put the audience in the mind of McTeague at his most violent and dangerous ravaging of Trina. What truly makes scenes scary is twofold; 1. the scene has to be believable and in certain cases less can be more; 2. Being able to see inside the mind of a character as they act out some heinous act of violence gives any medium more power and ultimately more effect.
I understand that this is a morbid thought and probably holds no real academic merit but this does show how much editing and re-writing can really change a text. To be fair to the text, this doesn't change how the it reads or the kind of character McTeague turns out to be. He's bad guy and thats ultimately what we are supposed to get out of him. I just find it interesting that, in the crux of the book during the most intense scene Norris had to cut a big portion of a scene out. Whatever the reasoning for is, in todays world he wouldn't have to do that and I really like that we get the chance to read, in context, the omitted section.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ethics...what are those?

We had a very intriguing discussion on Tuesday about business ethics and the dilemma of what to do when something shady is about to go down. We were asked if Silas did the right thing and I don't think there is a right answer to such a question. But, the question carries more weight then just right or wrong, to me this story (and situation/question) shows us that the dilemma presented proves the legitimacy of the piece of literature. With that said, I want to extend what I said in class. Dr. Campbell asked us what we would do and I answered with something along the lines of "i would do whats best for me." But after I said this and thought about it for a while I realized what Silas was asked to do was much more complicated then we realize. When it comes to business there seem to be no rules or better yet the only rule is survival of the fittest. In todays world of Bernie Madoff and insider trading it truly is survival of the fittest. Today, Silas would have sold his place and not even have thought twice about hurting someone. The purity of human nature is much to tainted today to do anything different. This poses the question of what is and isn't ethical? If Silas is looking out for his family first how can we say that making an unethical choice is really unethical, it seems pretty ethical to me to put your family ahead of everything else. Does this excuse Madoff from stealing literally billions of dollars, no. But it does shed some light on how fuzzy and in most cases non-existant ethics really are. Especially in todays corrupt world of me first, you second. Silas Lapham is arguably a microcosm of what todays world is really like. Maybe even foreshadowing the world to come. Well, here it is and its pretty shady.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Daisy Miller

Daisy Miller was an interesting read, in fact I thought it was actually very good and it held my interest rather well. I didn't really think about it very deep until class on Tuesday, when we talked about the article in the Evergreen and then on to the "rules" we think as okay or not okay. Our discussion in class got me thinking about the way we set these rules and how we then put those rules into play. A good example of this is just the culture here at WSU and how the perception of us is we are here to drink and party and school comes second but in reality we aren't any different then the average university. Daisy Miller has the same thing happening because of how the characters view each other and then how those views and perceptions shape the outcome of the book. Whatever example you want to use this still says something about social interaction and how we have a higher social code that we hold each other to, whether we are aware of it or not, good or bad. So stepping back and thinking about this in the big picture I ask myself why do we this? Is this part of our nature that we just can't help or has society and culture forced us into this sort of behavior? I never would have thought that a 70 page novella would make me think about something so abstract and really put me in a place that I start to question my culture and up bringing.
In short, Daisy Miller was a powerful read. It made me think and I like that.