Friday, February 26, 2010

Death of My Brain

I was reading that article in Falling Into Theory called "Death of the Author" and maybe it was that it was translated from French to English, but I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.

From what I could gather, he said that nobody every has any original ideas, that our brains are just giant dictionaries full of everything we've ever heard or read or whatever. This made me think, "Well than where did the first ideas come from?" His answer was that they come from God.

He said that when we read a book we just go to that dictionary in our head and then we "write" the book based on the stuff we already know. Thats what he meant by the death of the author, I think. He says that authors don't create ideas and stuff they just put words on a page and that we, the readers, are the ones who write the book.

Kind of cool, but man it hurts my head.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Making a Conscience

I had a really interesting experience reading "Night". I kind of knew what to expect but I still was affected by the graphic nature of his novel. Not that I haven't read or seen worse stuff, just that this time I had to analyze it. I decided to read the book with the intent to show the moral implications of his writing. At about halfway through the book I was feeling very confused.

How did his writing make me feel? What kind of moral concepts was I being asked to accept? What was he saying about human nature?

I still haven't completely decided how I feel about these questions but I'm afraid that I might come up with answers against the norm.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Truth and Rhetoric

I was reading some of the General Conference talks and I decided to apply the things I'm learning about English to them.
In some of my favorite talks, I noticed that there were some elements of rhetoric that were really strong and others that seemed almost nonexistent.
I think obviously the General Authorities rely heavily on appeals of ethos in their talks. Their audience trusts them because God trusts them. But it couldn't all be focused on that because why would any skeptic take their words on face value?
I looked at logical appeals, and there were some but nothing that was going to convince anyone who didn't already believe.
Elder Holland definitely invoked emotion in his audience but even he relied on his audiences acceptance of what he was going to say. And then, instead of aknowledging opposing views, he defied them, which once again made me ask why someone would believe them in the first place. Then it hit me: the truth.
There is something in each of us that knows what is true(right) and what is false(wrong). We have it at birth; some people call it a conscience.
I think that truth can probably be more powerful than any form of rhetoric to the people looking for it.
Maybe that is the true purpose of rhetoric in the first place: to find out the truth.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sonnet #1

Since I spent ridiculous amounts of time coming up with this, I thought I'd record my sonnet here. I always start poetry as kind of trivial but it always ends up being serious. Or at least more serious than I had originally planned.

Oh what a laugh that one should dare to trust
A Word, expressed, so oft in times of love.
For petty difference and selfish rust
Will break the Word despite the strength thereof.
A Word may seem, in dire times of need,
A promise spoken in sincerity.
But wiser men will wisely pay no heed
To words that make of kindness, mockery.
The call of common nature dictates thus:
The fox will always lie to get his way.
And so the cunning have their way with us
If we would prove so gullible a prey.
             Then to the fool who thus would speak I cry:
             In trusting there is hope; in lies we die!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Separation or Domination?

For my ENG 150 class we are required to study an article out of the "Perspectives on Religion in America" composition book. Then we are supposed to write a rhetorical analysis on said article. We were given a choice between 4 different articles and I chose one called "A Government in Thrall to Religion" by Frank R. Zindler, an atheist.

I obviously approached this article with some trepidation, not knowing what to expect. As I read through it, I couldn't help but question if what he was saying was true. His main arguments are as follows:

1. The Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.

2. George Bush(the president at the time) is not supporting this separation but is bringing religious bias into the White House.

3. Evidences of this bias: His entire cabinet was made up of religious politicians; He largly ignored the warnings of ecologists and other scientists; He did not believe in global warming; He pulled funding from a U.N. fund that helps mothers in third world countries get abortions; His administration to some reproduction-education stuff off the nation health websites; He allowed more waste dumping by manufacturers and miners.

The author calls for a separation of church and state and makes it clear that the nation should base it's decisions on science, not religious values, in order remain non-secular.

Do you agree or disagree with this? Do I agree or disagree with this?

On second thought, I'd have to say I disagree.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Poetry Perspiration

I will have to admit that I have little (meaning absolutely none) experience with critical analysis so bear with me.
The poem from our reading that most caught my attention was "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Hopkins. It caught my attention because I am having a terrible time deciding what it is he is trying to say. Here are some thoughts:

He first uses the word "charged" which could mean many things like electrically charged or charged with an accusation. He says the grandeur of God "gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed." For me, just evaluating the word choice I cannot make out any decisive meaning. There is something about recking his rod which follows. I am confused by the "not" in this statement which seems to give the opposite meaning of what was intended. Hopkins then goes on to explain how the earth has become tainted by the mark of man. Man can't feel it either because their feet are shod.
The poet then goes on to speak of a "freshness" that survives deep down. He makes the point that morning always follows the night, bringing hope. He then makes a reference to the Holy Ghost which I am familiar with and which is mentioned in the Bible. I was confused the most reading this part for the first time because I could not see where he was coming from.

I read up on Gerard Hopkins and found out that he was a 19th century Victorian poet who converted to Catholicism and became a Jesuit Priest. Things in the poem like the reference to the Holy Ghost started to make sense. Also, many critics mentioned that the oozing oil was the oil of an olive, an interpretation that makes the most sense to me. They also said that the word "charged" was referring to electricity because electricity was under a scientific spotlight at the time. All of this stuff I never would have picked up if it hadn't been for studying his historical background.

This analysis was probably the most obvious to me from the get go because he uses prolific alliteration and diction throughout the entire piece. I immediately noticed the vivid word choice in words like "charged" and "flame out" which give an untamed, bright feeling. He contrasts this with words like "ooze of oil" which describes a slow, rich concentrating. The repetition of trod in the next line creates the sound of trodding which is pretty cool. He also rhymes the words "seared", "bleared" and "smeared" int he next line which continues the idea that every thing we do to the earth is all the same and all disgusting. I could go on with all the other examples of diction and alliteration. I think in this poem he uses these devices to evoke emotion in his readers and also to create memorable phrases that will stick in their heads.

Holy cow, that was long. Oops.

Honestly, at first I didn't really see the value in this poem but after giving it some time, I can see why it would be considered worthwhile literature. I found that I had to make the effort to overcome the time gap between me and Hopkins: about 130 years.