Tag Archives: Studying

Surviving (English 5)

29 Feb

Lots of heavy questions to ask…  I mean, “Who is she?” and “What does she want?” Not questions we can just answer, even after tonight’s reading assignment.  But, we can get a pretty strong sense, or even a slight sense of this author in front of us.  Like I said today, she’s immeasurably powerful but still so vulnerable.  And how she brought herself to the point of composing such mythic and sensual poetry, I’ll never know.  What I do know, is that there persists that level of intimacy I addressed in her work, that I’ve mentioned before.  And by intimacy, I’m referring to a successful connection to her readers, and an eagerness/direness from her, that she needs to share what she’s sharing.

No wonder she took on the form of poetry, arguably the most intimate and personal of literary modes.  This is much of the reason I love her work and even more adore her as an author, talking about what she’s committed to page.  It is hard to get through sometimes, I know, but that is just what engages her readers and elevates her to an author so worthy of study and discussion.  How many of us can relate to just having to get something ‘off the chest’?  Or, feeling like you don’t know what you should do in life, being faced with some decision whether crucial or somewhat commonplace.  Plath is there for us, and she’s letting us as modern readers know that she gets it, she knows what we’re going through.

In one of Plath’s journal entries she cites, to herself, being crucified by her limitations, and how blind choices can’t ever be changed.  This is a dire tone, a sense of urgency which is motivating but crippling at the same time.  Who is she?  Perhaps someone so self-aware that she herself acts as her own anchor, her own ‘chilled seas chained to her ankle’ (“The Everlasting Monday”).  Half-empty AND half-full.  An oxymoron trot across the page…

And now that I think about it, maybe the questions aren’t so “heavy”.  They’re simple, and regular, just with considerable depth.  Remember, she was a teacher as well as a penner, poetess, authoress.  Her complexity is universal yet staggering.  A reader can’t help but read on, on, till they find something, even if it’s a word they’ve never seen before—  She’ll make you sprint to the dictionary to find its gravity and application.

One of my questions from the end of today’s meeting, on your relationship with her…  What is it?  What could it be if you don’t already have one—  Maybe you’re not aware you have one!  (Something to think about…)  She’s in the room, as I said.  We’re reading her.  People will continue to read her and follow her, see her as a literary celeb’.  She’s more that a simple “Mick Jagger” of literature.  No… no…..  She’s a stratospherically musical priestess; a goddess of verse and expression.  Elevated far past what’s patterned and regular in what’s from today’s pages.


2/3/15, 1B

3 Feb

So, do we have resolution in his “novel”?  OR, do we just have more questions?  One week from today, your first longer paper’s draft is due.  The demanded length is 1100 words, or thereabouts.  I want you to craft a unique perspective and approach to the book, and argue it, that simple, right?  No.. this will take method, premeditation and organization of thoughts.  Be sure to develop all your paragraphs and have them liked by your driving idea (thesis)..  ITEM 1 for today: discuss book’s end; resolution or lack thereof; point and thesis of Kerouac, or other ideas to write about.. quotes I found valuable for a paper, “I found a great ghastly hatred of myself and everything…” (147), “Man I know all about it and I’m writing a final definitive article on how clean hard work is the saviour of us all…” (148), “…watch it…with horrified eyes…” (150), “I remember that makes me realize I dont understand what happened at Big Sur even now…” (161) “‘The hell with all this madness!’” (161).  I can only say we view decay as this book progresses, and a devolution to Kerouac and his perception and values, moral scaffolding and structure, as a character.. so if I were writing a paper, one of this length (1100 words) on ‘Sur’, I’d argue for the surrender in Kerouac’s character, and I’d support it with two outside sources (your choosing, this is required).  You could use the Paris Review article, the movie translation, or any critical/scholarly article found online or in the library, or in print somewhere.  Star your researching, immediately (even though you already have, what I’m, stressing is that you keep with it and select your final determined sources…).

Even the Sea poem shows unrest in Kerouac’s soul, the psychological and metaphysical dismemberment of his scope, sense, stability.  But don’t agree with me!  What did you see throughout this novel?  What did you see as Kerouac’s message, or prime, dominant consistency?  He was strong, till he became “famous” some could say, so was this ever reversible, or is the common conception true: this book simply documents a nervous breakdown?  Whatever your thoughts, write them, argue them!  We’ll talk more in class today.. find three to four quotes from the novel to support your position..

Emily Dickinson introduction.. similarities between her and Kerouac, as writers?  And the Kerouac documentary, from what we saw in class, and if you watched it all on your own, what’d you think?  Can you use it?  Anyone writing on Personhood.. the connection to Kerouac the man?  Zen?  Exile?  Alcohol?…..  Be Creative with this first critical paper!  Cheers!  -Mike

ps– 1100 words (not including works cited page); 2 outside sources required to support your argument.. due next Tuesday; Final draft due Tuesday 2/17/15

2/3/15, 1A

3 Feb

-One week from today (2/10): rough draft due (typed), 1000-1100 words; Final due 2/17, as there is no meeting on the 12th, I learned…..

Prompt:  On The Road is about…

-what is JK saying, what does he want us thinking when the novel’s over, what does he want us to think about him??  Lots of questions, yes, but don’t complicate this paper, and DON’T over-think it!

6-9 paragraphs, each paragraph should be between 5-9 sentences…

*Grim.. perceptions?  Judgements?  It’s okay to judge…  Is he ‘grim’?  Let’s find a definition and play with the synonyms, the language.

-Emily Dickinson poem…

-poetry, what it does to the expressive urge.. (We see it in PROSE, too!)

**The obsession with Time.. Grim?  Or realistic, honest.. TRUTHFUL?

-The notion of something being Grim isn’t with intent to defame them, the author, not one like Kerouac or Dickinson; they have their Morals and Worldview like everyone, but the tag of Grim is meant a perceptive and perspective tool.

And now, after class, I get home and hope you remember some of the ideas offered in session, today:  1, notion of ‘militant positivism’, how the Beat is intent on being positive and the notion and reality of ‘Yes!’ over doubt and doing what’s expected, or normal.  2, the blank page philosophy, filling the page with your story and scribing your own set of conditions, knowing exactly what it is YOU want; and on that note comes 3, “If you don’t start writing, IT will never be written.” And lastly, 4, play with whole notion and idea, word and synonyms of Grim.  There’s a writing direction in there, I assure you, let’s see if you can find it and craft something ‘gemütlich’!  Oh, and 5.. sorry.. the Reflective Equilibrium ideas, something being fixed and/or unrevisable.  This is integral with the Beat mentality, and Mr. Kerouac and him being as I argue a Grim Writer, part of the Gorgeous American Grim.  And why the term ‘Gorgeous’?  Because of the appeal and universal nature to individuality, and developing ideas, finding IT on your own.

Please start working on your paper ideas so we can workshop and play with them, develop them, next class.. start writing!  If I think of anything new between now and Thursday, I’ll let you know.  Cheers!  –Mike

Pre-Plath Lab… [English 5]

9 Oct

So what are some lines that tell you something about this dimensional introvert?  And, what are some of the terrestrial elements you see bothering her, if any?

A Letter to English 1A…

9 Oct

My apologies for not being in class last night.  Little Jack, unexpectedly taken by seasonal symptoms.  None a worry, as he’ll be fine.  It’s 5:49AM, Wednesday, and I can hear him talking, chanting, trying new sounds, and I think ‘words’ upstairs.

Before I go get the little Artist, I wanted to touch base with you all and let you know that we need increase our reading pace with Ms. Walls’ manuscript.  Before next class, please read through page 221.  And continue to develop your areas of focus; gather quotes from the book, SCENES, that really SHOW what you want to show us in the book (concerning your specialty, YOUR observations).

Paper2:  750-1,000 words, Due 10/24/13.  This paper can assert ANYTHING you want.. that is precisely why I wanted you all to develop your areas of expertise with/in the book.  Do you HAVE to use those in the paper.. or, does your paper have to be on your focus?  I guess not, but it would certainly help.  That’s why I tried to give you a head start.

Either way, you need to take a position on Walls’ book.

Best way to succeed with this assignment: DO IT.  Embrace your thoughts, fully.  And let them carry you through 3 or 4 pages.

Some ideas I thought of, for sakes of a thesis:

-Ms. Walls wants her readers to…

-This book is about…

-OR, you can make it personal, connecting your Human Experience, making it part of your thesis, like: “Glass Castle made me realize that…”


Feel free to post what you have below.  Any brainstormings, paragraphs, drafts, ANYTHING.

Sorry again about last night’s no-show, and I look forward to seeing you all Thursday the 11th.  Think of next class as a Literary Lab of sorts, where we drown ourselves in text, looking for answers, the author’s truest intentions (especially with a nonfiction book).. OUR intentions, as readers…  Let’s talk.

Cheers, and I look forward to seeing you all soon.


ENGLISH 5: Direction

4 Sep

Mr. Capote appears to have truly challenged us with ‘Muses’.  What are you observing?  Note differences, locations, his exhaustive descriptions.. embrace them, see if we can make anything of them.  Where is this going, in YOUR words?

On another note:  In order for us to have direction as writers, readers, we require balance.  And part of that balance entails rest.  So, I advise you all to rest adequately as the semester progresses, and pace yourself with Capote’s work.  With all the work we have ahead of us.  Balance in you as a writer WILL result in balanced pages.

On a personal note..  I’m exhausted from the day, and need a few moments to simply gather Self.  What do you do to relax, collect yourSelf at the end of a long day, or when you have a whole day off?  Your testimony might help colleagues who may be feeling stressed, overworked.  So please be specific.

Have a pleasant evening, colleagues..  See you Thursday.