Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Vibrant Moment

In his most characteristic writing Faulkner is trying to render the transcendent life of the mind, the crowded composite of associative and analytical consciousness which expands the vibrant moment into the reaches of all time, simultaneously observing, remembering, interpreting, and modifying the object of its awareness. To this end the sentence as a rhetorical unit (however strained) is made to hold diverse yet related elements in a sort of saturated solution, which is perhaps the nearest that language as the instrument of fiction can come to the instantaneous complexities of consciousness itself. Faulkner really seems to be trying to give narrative prose another dimension.

To speak of Faulkner's fiction as dream-like ... does not imply that his style is phantasmagoric, deranged, or incoherent. Dreams are not always delirium, and association, sometimes the supplanter of pattern, can also be its agent. The dreaming mind, while envisaging experience strangely, may find in that strangeness a fresh revelation, all the more profound in that the conventional and adventitious are pierced through. Similarly inhibitions and apathies must be transcended in any really imaginative inquiry, and thus do Faulkner's speculative characters ponder over the whole story, and project into cumulative drama its underlying significations. Behind all of them, of course, is their master-dreamer; Faulkner's own dominating temperament, constantly interpreting, is in the air of all these narratives, reverberant. Hence, no matter how psychological the story's material, Faulkner never falls into the mere enumeration which in much stream-of-consciousness writing dissolves all drama and reduces the narrative to a case history without the shaping framework of analysis, or even to an unmapped anachronistic chaos of raw consciousness. Faulkner is always a dynamic storyteller, never just a reporter of unorganized phenomena. His most drastic, most dream-like use of stream of consciousness, for instance, in The Sound and the Fury, is not only limited to the first two sections of the book, but it sketches a plot which in the lucid sections that follow gradually emerges clear-cut.

As clear-cut, at least, as Faulkner's stories can be. Here again is illustrated the close relation of his style to his whole point of view. If Faulkner's sentences sometimes soar and circle involved and prolonged, if his scenes become halls of mirrors repeating tableaux in a progressive magnification, if echoes multiply into the dissonance of infinite overtones, it is because the meanings his stories unfold are complex, mysterious, obscure, and incomplete. There is no absolute, no eternal pure white radiance in such presentations, but rather the stain of many colors, refracted and shifting in kaleidoscopic suspension, about the center of man's enigmatic behavior and fate, within the drastic orbit of mortality. Such being Faulkner's view of life, such is his style.

--Warren Beck, William Faulkner's Style, in American Prefaces, Spring 1941

Faulknerian Technique

Dirimens Copulatio: A figure by which one balances one statement with a contrary, qualifying statement (sometimes conveyed by “not only … but also” clauses). A sort of arguing both sides of an issue.

Protagoras (c. 485-410 BC) asserted that “to every logos (speech or argument) another logos is opposed,” a theme continued in the Dissoi Logoi of his time, later codified as the notion of arguments in utrumque partes (on both sides). Aristotle asserted that thinking in opposites is necessary both to arrive at the true state of a matter (opposition as an epistemological heuristic) and to anticipate counterarguments. This latter, practical purpose for investigating opposing arguments has been central to rhetoric ever since sophists like Antiphon (c. 480-410 BC) provided model speeches (his Tetralogies) showing how one might argue for either the prosecution or for the defense on any given issue. As such, [this] names not so much a figure of speech as a general approach to rhetoric, or an overall argumentative strategy. However, it could be manifest within a speech on a local level as well, especially for the purposes of exhibiting fairness (establishing ethos [audience perception of speaker credibility]).

This pragmatic embrace of opposing arguments permeates rhetorical invention, arrangement, and rhetorical pedagogy.

Not only should one tell the truth, but also, one should be prepared to lie when lying is warranted. Let me explain how this pertains to . . .

But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. --l Cor. 1:23-24 (Rom. 13:4-5)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rowan Oak

Faulkner's Aim

The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.

--William Faulkner

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tips for Writing Papers

How-to Write an Academic Essay Paper
Basic Writing Elements for High School and College
Kimi Bynum

The essay deadline is tomorrow, and that Word document still sits staring, blank, before the frazzled writer. What to do? Where to begin? Before an “A” paper can be written, a writer first must know the basics of academic writing. The basic elements that need to be included in an academic paper are a subject, a thesis statement, an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, transition sentences, and a conclusion.

The Beginning: Subject Matter, Thesis Statement, and Introduction

The place to begin is with a topic. What is the essay about? In the world of academics, more often than not, the subject matter is chosen by the professor. This may limit the creative aspect of the essay; however, when GPA is on the line, it is highly recommended to follow the professor’s guidelines. Once the subject matter is chosen, move on to the next phase: the thesis statement.

The thesis statement is critical to the academic essay. It is one sentence that sums up the overall idea of the essay. This does not mean that every idea is included in this statement; rather, include the main ideas of the essay in this statement, in the order that each idea will be discussed throughout the body of the paper. It is meant to let the reader know exactly where the essay is going, like a road map. It is meant to entice the reader to continue reading. It is typically the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

The introduction to any academic work is also important. The introduction is, after the title, what grabs the reader’s attention. It is meant to give a basic idea of what the essay is about. This is the reader’s first glimpse of the writer’s style, ideas, and beliefs, so it is crucial to keep the attention of the reader. If the writer catches the reader’s interest from the very beginning, it is much easier to maintain that interest throughout the body of the essay.

The Middle: Body Paragraphs and Transition Sentences

The body of the paper is the area for discussion of the main ideas. Each main idea receives its own paragraph, and that paragraph is introduced with a topic sentence. Think of a topic sentence as a mini thesis statement. It needs to give a basic idea of what the paragraph is about to discuss. For each paragraph, remember to address only the ideas listed in that paragraph’s topic sentence. Once the body of a paragraph is completed, move on to the next paragraph. Continue this process for each paragraph. Essential for literary criticism is the citation from the primary text to prove your thesis. Quotations need not be long--in fact as a rule they shouldn't be--to be persuasive. Simple "words" quoted in your "text" can really "help" your paper!

In order to make an essay flow from one idea to the next, each paragraph also needs a transition sentence. A transition sentence is one that connects the end of a paragraph to the beginning of another paragraph. When writing an academic paper, it is best to connect the dots for the reader. In order to do this, the writer must create a link between two ideas. An example transition sentence is this: “Not only do dogs bark, but they also wag their tails.” In this case, the first paragraph would discuss dogs barking, and the second paragraph would discuss how dogs wag their tails. A sentence like this is simple, but effective. It creates a connection between two paragraphs that wouldn’t necessarily have a connection. Continue the process of using transition senteces throughout the entire body of the paper.

The End: Conclusion

An academic essay needs a conclusion. A conclusion paragraph should recap the main ideas of the paper. This is done by restating the thesis statement, followed by a brief discussion of the points made in the body. After that, the conclusion is a chance for the writer to make a final point. Think of the conclusion as the closing argument in a defense case. Finally, a good essay needs a “punch.” The punch is the last sentence that ends the essay and gives the reader something to think about. It should leave the reader pondering the issue, and it should be memorable.

The essay is due tomorrow, but equipped with these basic writing elements, an "A" paper can be achieved. Remember that the basic elements that need to be included in an academic paper are a subject, a thesis statement, an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, transition sentences, and a conclusion with a punch.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Grauballe Man

The Grauballe Man by Seamus Heaney

As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep

the black river of himself.
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
the ball of his heel

like a basalt egg.
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan’s foot
or a wet swamp root.

His hips are the ridge
and purse of a mussel,
his spine an eel arrested
under a glisten of mud.

The head lifts,
the chin is a visor
raised above the vent
of his slashed throat

that has tanned and toughened.
The cured wound
opens inwards to a dark
elderberry place.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body’
to his opaque repose?

And his rusted hair,
a mat unlikely
as a foetus’s.
I first saw his twisted face

in a photograph,
a head and shoulder
out of the peat,
bruised like a forceps baby,

but now he lies
perfected in my memory,
down to the red horn
of his nails,

hung in the scales
with beauty and atrocity:
with the Dying Gaul
too strictly compassed

on his shield,
with the actual weight
of each hooded victim,
slashed and dumped.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Snow Man

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To A Mouse, on turning her up in her nest with the plow, November 1785

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Robert Burns

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Frost's "The Road Not Taken"

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost Reading "The Road Not Taken"

Robert Pinsky "Samurai Song"

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky Reading "Samurai Song"

Robert Pinsky Reading "Samurai Song"

Friday, February 4, 2011


Richard Bausch talks about Peace

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"Ode to Psyche" John Keats

Ode to Psyche

O GODDESS! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
The winged Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
A brooklet, scarce espied:
’Mid hush’d, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true!

O latest born and loveliest vision far
Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phoebe’s sapphire-region’d star,
Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
Nor altar heap’d with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.

O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retir’d
From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
From swinged censer teeming;
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.

Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
Far, far around shall those dark-cluster’d trees
Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull’d to sleep;
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,
With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign,
Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
And there shall be for thee all soft delight
That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
To let the warm Love in!

Poems (published 1820)