Sunday, July 02, 2006

LITERARY CRITICISM AND ALL THAT JAZZ

Alazon: A deceiving or self-deceived character in fiction, normally an object of ridicule in comedy or satire, but often the hero of a tragedy. In comedy he most frequently takes the form of a miles gloriosus or a pedant.

Anagogic: Relating to literature as a total order of words.

Anatomy: A form of prose fiction, traditionally known as the Menippean or Varronian satire and represented by Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, characterized by a great variety of subject-matter and a strong interest in ideas. In shorter forms it often has a cena or symposium setting and verse interludes.

Apocalyptic: The thematic term corresponding to "myth" in fictional literature: metaphor as pure and potentially total identification, without regard to plausibility or ordinary experience.

Archetype: A symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one's literary experience as a whole.

Auto: A form of drama in which the main subject is sacred or sacrosanct legend, such as miracle plays, solemn and processional in form but not strictly tragic. Name taken from Calderon's Autos sacramentales..

Confession: Autobiography regarded as a form of prose fiction, or prose fiction cast in the form of autobiography.

Dianoia: The meaning of a work of literature, which may be the total pattern of its symbols (literal meaning), its correlation with an external body of propositions or facts (descriptive meaning), its theme, or relation as a form of imagery to a potential commentary (formal meaning), its significance as a literary convention or genre (archetypal meaning), or its relation to total literary experience (anagogic meaning).

Displacement: The adaptation of myth and metaphor to canons of morality or plausibility.

Eiron: A self-deprecating or unobtrusively treated character in fiction, usually an agent of the happy ending in comedy and of the catastrophe in tragedy.

Encyclopaedic Form: A genre presenting an anagogic form of symbolism, such as a sacred scripture, or its analogues in other modes. The term includes the Bible, Dante's Commedia, the great epics, and the works of Joyce and Proust.

Epos: The literary genre in which the radical of presentation is the author or minstrel as oral reciter, with a listening audience in front of him.

Ethos: The internal social context of a work of literature, comprising the characterization and setting of fictional literature and the relation of the author to his reader or audience in thematic literature.

Fiction: Literature in which the radical of presentation is the printed or written word, such as novels and essays.

Fictional: Relating to literature in which there are internal characters, apart from the author and his audience; opposed to thematic. (N.B. The use of this term is regrettably inconsistent with the preceding one, as noted on p. 248.)

High Mimetic: A mode of literature in which, as in most epics and tragedies, the central characters are above our own level of power and authority, though within the order of nature and subject to social criticism.

Image: A symbol in its aspect as a formal unit of art with a natural content.

Initiative: A primary consideration governing the process of composition, such as the metre selected for a poem; taken from Coleridge.

Ironic: A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action inferior to the one assumed to be normal in the reader or audience, or in which the poet's attitude is one of detached objectivity.

Irony: The mythos (sense 2) of the literature concerned primarily with a "realistic" level of experience, usually taking the form of a parody or contrasting analogue to romance. Such irony may be tragic or comic in its main emphasis; when comic it is normally identical with the usual meaning of satire.

Lexis: The verbal "texture" or rhetorical aspect of a work of literature, including the usual meanings of the terms "diction" and "imagery."

Low Mimetic: A mode of literature in which the characters exhibit a power of action which is roughly on our own level, as in most comedy and realistic fiction.

Lyric: A literary genre characterized by the assumed concealment of the audience from the poet and by the predominance of an associational rhythm distinguishable both from recurrent metre and from semantic or prose rhythm.

Masque: A species of drama in which music and spectacle play an important role and in which the characters tend to be or become aspects of human personality rather than independent characters.

Melos: The rhythm, movement, and sound of words; the aspect of literature which is analogous to music, and often shows some actual relation to it. From Aristotle's melopoiia.

Metaphor: A relation between two symbols, which may be simple juxtaposition (literal metaphor), a rhetorical statement of likeness or similarity (descriptive metaphor), an analogy of proportion among four terms (formal metaphor), an identity of an individual with its class (concrete universal or archetypal metaphor), or statement of hypothetical identity (anagogic metaphor).

Mode: A conventional power of action assumed about the chief characters in fictional literature, or the corresponding attitude assumed by the poet toward his audience in thematic literature. Such modes tend to succeed one another in a historical sequence.

Monad: A symbol in its aspect as a center of one's total literary experience; related to Hopkins's term "inscape" and to Joyce's term "epiphany."

Motif: A symbol in its aspect as a verbal unit in a work of literary art.

Myth: A narrative in which some characters are superhuman beings who do things that "happen only in stories"; hence, a conventionalized or stylized narrative not fully adapted to plausibility or "realism."

Mythos The narrative of a work of literature, considered as the grammar or order of words (literal narrative), plot or "argument" (descriptive narrative), secondary imitation of action (formal narrative), imitation of generic and recurrent action or ritual (archetypal narrative), or imitation of the total conceivable action of an omnipotent god or human society (anagogic narrative).One of the four archetypal narratives, classified as comic, romantic, tragic, and ironic.

Naive: Primitive or popular, in the sense given those terms of an ability to communicate in time and space more readily than other types of literature.

Opsis: The spectacular or visible aspect of drama; the ideally visible or pictorial aspect of other literature.

Pharmakos: The character in an ironic fiction who has the role of a scapegoat or arbitrarily chosen victim.

Phase: One of the five contexts in which the narrative and meaning of a work of literature may be considered, classified as literal, descriptive, formal, archetypal, and anagogic.One of six distinguishable stages of a mythos (sense 2).

Point of Epiphany: An archetype presenting simultaneously an apocalyptic world and a cyclical order of nature, or sometimes the latter alone. Its usual symbols are ladders, mountains, lighthouses, islands, and towers.

Romance: The mythos of literature concerned primarily with an idealized world. A form of prose fiction practised by Scott, Hawthorne, William Morris, etc., distinguishable from the novel.

Romantic: A fictional mode in which the chief characters live in a I world of marvels (naive romance), or in which the mood is elegiac or idyllic and hence less subject to social criticism than in the mimetic modes.The general tendency to present myth and metaphor in an idealized human form, midway between undisplaced myth and "realism."

Sign: A symbol in its aspect as a verbal representative of a natural object or concept.

Symbol: Any unit of any work of literature which can be isolated for critical attention. In general usage restricted to the smaller units, such as words, phrases, images, etc.

Thematic: Relating to works of literature in which no characters are involved except the author and his audience, as in most lyrics and essays, or to works of literature in which internal characters are subordinated to an argument maintained by the author, as in allegories and parables; opposed to fictional.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WATCHING THE WHEELS
These days, world peace is a good book, a nice film, a few drinks, and watching Ravi Shankar and George Harrison performing in a benefit concert for Bangladesh—that was also the year my mom delivered her only bugoy, 6.5 lbs. with a big head and invariably exaggerated ears, at a Chinese hospital. Some book says Ravi composed scores for Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s movies and that Nora Jones is the sitar player’s daughter. The other Nora Jones that I know sells the best 3 p.m. empanada.

These days, when they’re pouring forth P1B for a two-year anti-insurgency offensive, I turn for comfort to a nice song by John Lennon called “Watching the Wheels.” “Well, I tell them I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall…” the song goes. Each time I hear some friends doing well, I listen to, “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go ‘round and ‘round/I really love to watch them roll…”

I rarely even stay in one place for a long time. I just drop by the waffle stand, head home and grab a book. “Don’t you miss the bigtime, boy?” sang John Lennon. Then I strum the guitar, “No longer ridin’ on the merry-go-round…” Some friends holler for a drink, and I trust the wind for wisdom. I pick up the newspaper, and say someday I’m gonna have to figure out what P70 mean to a poor lad. I’d probably need some time to read Jurgen Habermaas and figure out a philosophy behind children killing each other over money.

Just the same, I hang on for any hint of humor from the two bugoys on these pages: Frank M. and Pablo John G. I also wait for my friends’ pieces here. The others, well, I find them funny in a rather perverted way. I’d love to teach media ethics someday, set up a dart tournament with real “smileys” on the board. School will be cool again.

Meanwhile, I’ll be watching the news again, they look pretty much like bicycle spokes, perpetually grinding on the rocky road called Philippine society. “I really love to watch them roll…” thus sang John Lennon.

And, oh, today? I’ll get a dose of Chin-Chin Gutierez speaking about “The Birthing of a New World.” Eat your hearts out, boys.

WATCHING THE WHEELS by John Lennon

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them rollNo longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry
I'm just sitting here doing time I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-roundI just had to let it go
I just had to let it goI just had to let it go

Monday, June 05, 2006

THE BLUES IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD

Love my onion rings,
Love me. Here they come,
Those big thirty-year-old feelings.
The rain on the holiday, the meat ruined on the grill.

Put the beer in the freezer to bring it up to speed.
Turn the radio on. Come lie in the sun, warm
In the certainty no teen ever makes it out
Alive from a Shangri-La's song.

Listen, the killer's childhood friend
Says he's brought the amazing Florida shit.
Come midnight, our luck will be visibly changed.
We'll put the flame to the punk and the punk to the fuse —

I'll never have sex in this town again.
So tonight, I'm flaming. The hottest thing
Evolving on wheels, and I'll be crashing all your barbecues
On my way to the stars.

by Patricia Ferrell
Thirty Years War: Love Poems
2003 Paris Review Prize in Poetry

Wednesday, May 31, 2006














Bats kept surging out, and soon four columns stretched miles across the sky. A few strays looped and fed near us, passing like shuttles through the weave of the trees. The night was noticeably free of insects, but that was no surprise. These bats would eat five thousand pounds of insects that one night alone. -Diane Ackerman, The Moon by Whale Light

Imagine if, in Samuel Beckett’s play, Godot actually did come – and he was just a regular guy. This, for Slavoj Zizek, encapsulates the difference between modernism and postmodernism. (3) The procedures of modernism correspond to that period of capitalism in which the subject that was supposedly constitutive of society was fragmented, reified, isolated from others by the very rationality it had set in motion. So, the key figure in modernism is the absent centre, the emptiness that enables any social structure but which, at the same time, cannot be found within it: everything revolves around the moment that Godot will come, but he never does. Postmodernism, on the other hand, occurs when the subject is imploded into the technological network. Long ago, the entire public world became available on the television in the formerly private home, and now everyone walks around with a cell phone, an iPod and a laptop in a laptop bag, with a different brand-name emblazoned boldly upon every article of clothing. Baudrillard describes this as “obscenity”, when the subject is struck with “too great a proximity of everything” (4). Postmodernism, then, is a matter of overwhelming presence; that is, an obscene, dull intimacy with the object(s) that defines the system.--Asad Haider. A student at Cornell University, he serves popcorn at the Cornell Cinema

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


“A stapler with its tiny fangs
Cannot outwit orangutangs.
Rocks are very good at sitting,
but never walk or take up knitting.
Living things all feel and sense
their way through every happenstance."
--Diane Ackerman, Animal Sense