Shiyue Jiang (Vicky)
English 1110.01, MWF 1:30-2:25
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
February 19, 2017
Edmund White is an American novelist, memoirist and essayist. He was born in Ohio, in 1940. He is good at writing the topic of same-sex love. I clicked into some interviews randomly, and I was attracted by the name of Edmund White, because he made a conversation with himself, in other words, he interviewed himself.
In the interview, he communicated his early books including published and unpublished, he talked about the feeling when he is writing, and what is his next book. Also, he compared his autobiography series with early fiction. Since he lived in Europe, he asked himself if this element affect his work.
If I have a chance to interview Edmund White, I would ask him his thoughts about LGBT, because he wrote a lot of novel about gay. And I would also ask him the reason why he went to France to live and does this action affect his own life. Lastly, I am interested in that when he writes same sex love novels, if he was affected by his novels.
The following is the lists of his works.
- Forgetting Elena(1973)
- Nocturnes for the King of Naples(1978)
- A Boy’s Own Story(1982) ISBN 0-525-24128-0
- The Beautiful Room Is Empty(1988)
- Skinned Alive: Stories(1995)
- The Farewell Symphony(1997)
- The Married Man(2000)
- Fanny: A Fiction(2003)
- Chaos: A Novella and Stories(2007)
- Hotel de Dream(2007)
- Jack Holmes and His Friend(2012)
- Our Young Man(2016)
- The Joy of Gay Sex, with Charles Silverstein(1977)
- States of Desire(1980)
- The Burning Library: Writings on Art, Politics and Sexuality 1969-1993(1994)
- The Flâneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris](2000)
- Arts and Letters(2004)
- Sacred Monsters(2011)
- Genet: A Biography(1993)
- Marcel Proust(1998)
- Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel(2008)
- Our Paris: Sketches from Memory(1995)
- My Lives(2005)
- City Boy(2009)
- Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris(2014)
- The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis, with Adam Mars-Jones(1987)
- In Another Part of the Forest: : An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction(1994)
- The Art of the Story(2000)
- A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play](2001)
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20 – 11:15
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: Dalkey Archive
Feb 18th, 2017
Svetislav Basara is a Serbian author of many novels, story collections and essays. He discusses his first novel Chinese Letter in the interview with Ana Lucic. Believing he has more to express, he starts to writes his first novel instead of just writing five or six pages story. Moreover, the background for him to start this literature at the end of seventies, during which it, to him, was a dullness, for spiritual and psychological, resulted from the development of communism. Therefore, he, in order to be somewhere else, wrote this novel and named it as Chinese Letter. What is more, Svetislav Basara has literary works include but are not limited to the following publications.
- Peking by night (1985)
- Kinesko pismo (1985)
- Na ivici (1987)
- Fenomeni (1989)
- Na Gralovom tragu (1990)
- Mongolski bedeker (1992)
- Tamna strana meseca (1992)
- De bello civili (1993)
- Drvo istorije (1995)
The reason I chose Svetislav Basara is that he mentions a point that readers always laugh when reading his novel Chinese Letter, but he never laugh when he was writing this novel. This represent his deep understanding on how comedy is actually consists of all kinds of tragedy. It, like what Svetislav Basara points out at the interview, is really interesting to realize that “ how close laughter is to despair and vice versa”. He talks about the reason he dropped out of the Serbian Writers’ Association, which he calls: “ a hot bed for a number of retrograde ideas”, and he finds that it is meaningless to stay at there. He, to me, is persist on his own thought, like when he feels there is no point to stay at the Serbian Writers’ Association, he just quite without any regret. The stubborn, positively, always make excellent people when they are walking on the right path.
Had I got a chance to interview Svetislav Basara, I would ask him if he likes the novel writing better or his old job, writing story. He did pointed out that writing novel could comprehensively express himself but I am just wondering if it had changed. Besides, I would like to ask him the reason to choose write about China instead of other communist countries, even though he illustrates that China is far enough for him to be somewhere else; but Russia or some other countries also fit in his requirement.
English 1110.01–Dalkey-13qdnsb(download word file here)
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20—11:15AM
Professor: Cathy Ryan
Feb. 19, 2017
Interview with Rikki Ducornet
Reading multiple author interviews from Dalkey archive, I was fascinating by the conversation between Rikki Ducornet and Sinda Gregory. There are several reason that I chose this comprehensive conversation. Firstly, one of my friends recommended her to me a couple month ago. I even added her fiction the one Marvelous thing (2008) into my book list this year. I am curious about her background and living experience. Why she can write so many imaginable fiction with numerous brilliant thought. Besides, Sinda Gregory mainly focused on the experience of author during the interview. These critical and thoughtful questions caught my eyes immediately.
She lived real and authentic. Every life piece was her ideal spring. Living into Egypt one year, she introduced Egyptian element into her article with her fantastical notion. Staying with his imaginable grandmother, she came out numerous creative ideas into her article.With many great child experience, Rikki Ducornet figured out her own writing style which is connecting Latin American fabulism and magic realism.
When she grew up and was in Greece, she read a piece by a leftist agitator who had been arrest and tortured. During the interrogation period, she felt a sense of outrage so she wrote all night—- her strange little book called From the star Chamber came out. This is the first time that awakened her interest in writing fiction. Once she walked in the woods with a friend, she came out upon the body of a red fox swarming with bees. She then depicted those scenes to book Le chien andalou. Her writing work was derived from the living, beyond the living. It won the fond of her reader and tended to popular in her era.
If I got a chance to interview her, I would like to ask her why she would like to connect her life with her work. How she considered the relationship between illustrations and novel since I found out she publish several illustrations and novel simultaneously. I thought she would like give me the following answer, as she mentioned in the interview that art work is like colorful way to convey the world in her eyes. Besides, basing her life, all her article instilled her real spirits and thoughts, which made the reader feel the way she thought about the world better.
Rikki Ducornet has written many great works throughout her lifetime. Below is a list of her great works.
- The Stain (1984)
- Entering Fire (1986)
- The Fountains of Neptune (1989)
- The Jade Cabinet (1993)
- Phosphor in Dreamland (1995)
- The Fan-Maker’s Inquisition (1999)
- GazelleAlfred A. Knopf (2003)
- Netsuke: a novel (2011)
- Brightfellow (2016)
Short fiction collections
- The Butcher’s Tales(1980)
- The Complete Butcher’s Tales(1994)
- The Word ‘Desire’(1997)
- The One Marvelous Thing(2008)
- From The Star Chamber (1974)
- Wild Geraniums (1975)
- Bouche a Bouche(1975)
- Weird Sisters(1976)
- Knife Notebook (1977)
- The Illustrated Universe (1979)
- The Cult of Seizure(1989)
- The Monstrous and the MarvelousCity Lights (1999)
- The Deep Zoo (2015)
- Shoes & Shit: Stories for Pedestriansedited (1984)
- The Blue BirdAdaptation of mem (1970)
- Shazira Shazam and the Devil(1972)
- Spanking the Maid(1981)
- Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius(1983)
- Torn Wings and Faux Pas(1997)
- Horse, Flower, Bird(2010)
Title: The origins of steely Dan
Format: Biography with facts
Author: Rob Brunner, March 17th ,2006
Rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★
This website briefly talks about Steven Moore’s interview with Ducornet in the Bloomsbury Review (January/February 1998), which concludes with Ducornet’s account of the song: “I knew Donald Fagan at Bard. He was wildly gifted. He gave me a phone number which I never used and I guess I lost! Philosophically it’s an interesting song; I mean I think his ‘number’ is a cipher for the self”
A Conversation with Rikki Ducornet By Sinda Gregory and Larry McCaffery
From “The Review of Contemporary Fiction,” Fall 1998, Vol. 18.3
SINDA GREGORY: What kinds of books did you read when you were a kid?
RIKKI DUCORNET: One of my favorite books was Heinrich Van Loon’s Ancient Man, filled with his strange little drawings. Whether he was sketching Neanderthals or Babylonians, Van Loon’s ancients all looked like insects. Ceram’s Gods, Graves and Scholars had drawings too; I recall a mysterious House in Ur and Mayan glyphs of the months of the year. And, of course, I read Alice.
LARRY MCCAFFERY: I know you spent some time as a child in Egypt. Did that have any kind of an influence on your sensibility?
RD: I was “stunned” by Egypt. We lived there one year. My father was Cuban, and so we also spent some time in Cuba, too, when I was very small. I cherish memories of the old Havana.
LM: That’s interesting simply because it seems to provide a biographical connection with the Latin American fabulism and magical realism feel that your writing often has.
RD: I had a very “Marquezian” grandmother—fantastical, greedy, and narcissistic. She was a perverse storyteller, and she was an anti-Semite. She never forgave my father for marrying my mother—who was Jewish. Once, when she thought she was dying, she confessed to a black African and a Jewish ancestor. Like the fresh chocolate in one of her favorite stories that was spoiled by a naughty schoolboy’s sliced-off finger, the family blood had been soiled.
SG: This sounds like some of the images and background material that appear in Entering Fire.
RD: Emelina Carmen Dionysia is the bad wind behind much of my work.
LM: At what point did you start becoming interested in surrealism?
RD: I first came to surrealism in early childhood and through the back door: via Dali and Cocteau. I say “back door” because both were titillated by totalitarianism and, in fact, were not surrealists. Cocteau never was and Dali only briefly. But the “convulsive” beauty of Cocteau’s Blood of a Poet—which I saw at the age of eight—and Dali’s inspired drawings from the thirties and early forties really seized my imagination. After that I was forever hunting down a similar resonance or “quality;” it was a kind of hunger. Remember, I grew up near a college library. I found Ernst and Eluard (together, in a book with a pale blue cover and treacherously brittle pages), Duchamp, Tanguy, and even Jarry. Breton’s Nadja was one of “the” books of my adolescence. Later on, when Guy Ducornet and I returned from Algeria, we met the Chicago-based group “Arsenal” at the first anti-Vietnam war rally in New York City and soon after joined the Paris-based international group, “Phases.” My engagement with both was primarily as a graphic artist; I didn’t start writing until much later.
LM: Your first one-person show was in Algeria. What was the background of that?
RD: Just after Algerian independence, Guy went to Constantine for a two-year engagement in the “Cooperation” (the French equivalent of the Peace Corps). I went with him. During the day I was alone and could not move freely through the city—it proved too dangerous: I looked Arab, and I refused to wear a veil. So I did drawings—imaginary architectures inspired by the human face and ideal landscapes.
SG: What was it that first awakened your interest in writing fiction?
RD: Just after the coup d’etat in Greece, I read a piece by a leftist agitator who had been arrested and tortured. During the interrogation she miscarried. I felt such outrage I wrote all night and when I finished I had a strange little book called From the Star Chamber. Its dark energy is rooted in the torture of Algerian students in Paris, the night of Crystal, My Lai, Hiroshima . . . and in my personal life also. Guy’s brother had died in a car crash; my mother was battling cancer. The first Butcher’s Tales are here.
LM: Charlotte Innes’s Nation article referred to The Butcher’s Tales in painterly terms—for instance, she likened those stories to miniatures. I realize this topic is probably something that’s difficult to articulate with any degree of precision, but could you talk about the way your background as a visual artist may have influenced your fiction?
RD: Looking at the paintings of the artists I love—such as Bosch or Vermeer—has had an influence on the way I see the world and so on the way I write. Often I want a kind of Vermeer light—that transcendency- and a Boschian “noise.” That savagery. That clarity. That delicacy.
LM: I first became aware of your work when I saw those drawings you did for Bob Coover’s Spanking the Maid. Those seemed to be beautifully integrated with what Bob was doing in that piece—his interest in representing transformation and metamorphosis, the peculiar combination of abstraction and sensuousness, and so on.
RD: We met in ’66. I was drawing, “transforming,” objects. They were like aberrant natural histories or subversions of encyclopedia plates. And Bob was writing Pricksongs—those wonderfully mutable stories. There was a startling affinity there; our friendship has been long and delightful.
SG: Fairy tales and other forms of fabulous storytelling that you’ve used in your work are similar to science fiction—that is, anything can happen from one moment to the next as long as it fits into the logic of the story, as opposed to realistic fiction, where you’re locked into describing only certain kinds of characters and events. Obviously your approach allows you to present these transformations almost “naturally,” in a way.
RD: The world was imbued with beauty and magic when I was a child. I had the luck to grow up on the Bard campus; which, as I think of it now, reveals itself as an “axis mundi”—a metaphysical core. There was a window of green grass on the second story of the old library. For a child of six, walking across it to shelves on the other side was like walking on water. Beneath it, the first floor looked like it was submerged. I used to dream of libraries that were also aquariums. And there was an. intimate biology lab—its door always open—filled with queer things floating in jars. A few years ago I met Rosamond Wolff Purcell, we discovered that for both of us childhood has the intoxicating smell of formaldehyde!
Once while walking in the woods with a friend, we came upon the body of a red fox swarming with bees. And I think because I had been reading so many fairy tales that summer, the fox’s body seemed magical, portentous—and the forest enchanted. I remember we both needed to shit—to leave a mark, an offering of some kind—beside the body of the fox. As though at some pagan altar! Because the encounter was sacred somehow, simultaneously beautiful and terrible. Like Black Kali! Or a scene from Le Chien Andalou!
LM: Your works seems to display a sense of the world as a place of inscrutability. There’s an emphasis, let’s just say, on mystery. Again, this goes back to the notion of the realistic novel, which emerged in the eighteenth century during the age of a world where everything can be explained. In your work I never get that sense. There’s always that respect for ambiguity.
LM: There’s that incredible moment in The Stain when Charlotte’s father comes home to find his wife about to give birth and that moment of horror. That scene struck me as one of the most powerful moments in your work. It seemed to embody that fear of the feminine, the fear of mystery, the fear of, of everything that that represented—the blood, the birth, the vagina, the mystery. All these things seem to come together right at that moment.
RD: Exactly. Charlotte’s father is a hunter; he’s been out in the woods reducing life to a bone. He exemplifies the lie that because things die (or can be “seized” or soiled) they have no intrinsic value—a profoundly fascist idea that broods at the heart of capitalism: nature and people reduced to marketable objects. Remember Robinson Crusoe and his endless list? He survived on his island only because an entire hardware store washed to shore.
LM: When I first read The Stain I was struck with how authentic these descriptions of life in this village were. Could you tell us a little bit more about this village you were living in and how the experience of living there might have affected your work? For example, did you actually start writing either The Butcher’s Tales or The Stain while you were living in that village?
RD: Yes, both those books were written in Le Puy Notre Dame. I was fascinated by village life, the seasonal chores imposed by wine growing, the customs, the superstitions, archaic political structures, and so on. We were living in the poorest section of the village among an uneducated peasantry. There were no television sets, washing machines, telephones, cars. For a time my husband was called upon to drive old people to funerals. My son grew up among children who could imitate the crowing of roosters and knock flies off the wall with a rubber band.
SG: One of several politically incorrect things that you have done in your work is to present Charles Dodgson in such a favorable light in The Jade Cabinet. This goes against all the negative reinterpretations of Lewis Carroll—the suggestions that he was a sort of pederast or pervert. And yet you have all these wonderful descriptions of the joy that he brought these girls, and how much they enjoyed taking off their clothes, that freedom they felt in his presence when he was taking the photographs of them, and so on. Such treatment struck me as being very brave.
RD: I researched Carroll very carefully, and there is nothing in any of the loving reminiscences of the women who were his child friends to imply that he was a “voyeur” or abusive in any way. In fact, several insist upon the joy it was to kick off their boots and run around naked! I think he was a little girl himself. Did you know he signed his earlier pieces “Louisa Carolina”?
LM: You mentioned earlier that as a child you loved Carroll’s books. What was there about his works from an adult perspective that made you decide to have him play such an important role in The Jade Cabinet?
RD: What makes those books so extraordinary—coming out of the Victorian Age as they do—is that common sense is always triumphant, and that a little girl is the voice of reason.
LM: You also have in your works all those interesting speculations about language itself—about paradox, the different ways words can mean, and so on—and the ongoing delight in wordplay.
RD: To a great extent Alice is all about the irrational use of language by tyrants. Humpty Dumpty is a terrifying figure, for example, insisting that words have no intrinsic meaning. I think of him as the first deconstructionist making language do his bidding.
LM: Edward Lear is often associated with Lewis Carroll, for obvious reasons; but I think he’s really more interested in true nonsense (whatever that might mean!) than Carroll was—or the surrealists were, for that matter. Are you interested in nonsense? I recall the epigraph to The Stain—something like “aaa ooo zezophazazzaieozaza”—seemed to introduce the notion of nonsense. Where did that come from, anyway?
RD: That bit on nonsense is a Gnostic mantra. Its intention is to empower the navigating soul as it passes the planets—all guarded by demons—on its way back “home.”
LM: Again, that sort of discourse seems to be operating differently from nonsense. The way I think of it is that nonsense is literally nonsensical words or phrases, whereas surrealism suggests that the symbols have different kinds of hidden meaning that the artist can access. Again, I know you’ve always been interested in Lear; the epigraph to your first book of poems—The Star Chamber—Up Yours was for Lear, wasn’t it?
RD: Lear’s old man of Ibreem who threatens to scream is threatened with a beating just as Alice is threatened with decapitation when she “talks back.” Nonsense delights us I think because it offers us language in mutation, in gestation—how much richer English is for “brillig” and “snark!”—and because it ridicules pompous, vain, and obsessive behavior.
LM: You did the illustrations for an edition of Borges’s Tlon, Uqbar and Orbis Tertius—just one indication of many that Borges has been important for you.
RD: Very much so. Those drawings are a parallel itinerary. And this because Borges’s wonderful story “evolves” so much—causing the reader to dream startling and inventive dreams. I spent six months on that series of illustrations, and as I was drawing, I would return to the text to discover that I was constantly reinterpreting it. It seemed to be a text in spontaneous mutation. This experience had tremendous impact on the writing of The Fountains of Neptune, which is riddled with implied histories.
SG: I’d say your work often seems to operate that way—that is, like Borges and Calvino, you often seem to enjoy creating lists or an extended series of images that summon up all these other narratives that aren’t fully developed in your own book but which invite subsequent exploration by readers. For instance, there’s a scene in The Jade Cabinet where they visit the circus and see all these fabulous and hideous creatures, each possessing its own background stories which you briefly mention and then move on to the next. It’s almost as if you’re saying to the reader, Yes, there’s all these stories to be told about these things, but I don’t have time to tell them so why don’t you tell them yourself.
RD: One of the delights of travel is to discover that the world is full of stories. Heinrich Bleucher used to say: that man is mythmaker! Perhaps for me writing stories is a way of engaging in the infinite, the mutable, the “evocative” world which is the world of the imagination.
SG: As I’ve already suggested, it seems to me that postmodernism has gradually evolved so that it is now synonymous with skepticism and nihilism. But the fact that any story can be approached from all of these different directions and that there are multiple tellings possible of everything doesn’t mean that there is no truth; it just suggests to me that there are many truths that can be expressed with language. This is deeply troubling to a culture that seeks to limit “truth” to linear, logical propositions. I guess one of the things that I like so much about your work is that you seem more interested in using language to express multiplicity than using it in the service of either the reductiveness of rationalism or the kind of empty relativism that seems so “hip” these days. You have that great line in your work about the path that goes straight a leaden door, while the circuitous one goes to a garden.
RD: Certain writers, specific books come to mind at once: Marcel Detiene’s Le Jardin d’Adonis, Robert Harbison’s Eccentric Spaces, Pierre Mabille’s Le Miroir du Merveilleux, Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck, Sarduy’s Cobra, Coover’s Pricksongs and Descants, Calvino’s Cosmicomics, all of Borges. Manuel Puig, Angela Carter, Mary Caponegro. I just finished Harry Mathews’s wonderful new novel, The Journalist. Speaking of metaphysical delirium!
LM: What about Jose Donoso? I was just wondering because you apparently lived in Chile for a while.
RD: I’m especially fond a story of his called The Walk. I met Donoso recently, and it turned out he had been analyzed by Mateo Blanco—a Chilean analyst of special interest to Jonathan. So the meeting was delightful and intense for all of us!
SG: You mentioned last night over dinner that you developed a friendship with Angela Carter.
RD: Bob Coover suggested we meet because he knew we shared a similar private landscape. And there was a remarkable affinity between us. An early interest in the surrealists, Sade, and Freud had a lot to do with that connection, and our love of Rabelais and Jarry. Despite her terror of bicycles, Angela was a fearless, an acutely subversive creature.
LM: Over the past couple of years, you’ve been sending me sections of work-in-progress that’s not connected to the tetralogy. Have you found the process of working on it to be any different since it’s outside of this structure you’ve been working on for so long? Or has it been basically the same?
RD: In some ways the writing of the new book—which is now entitled Phosphor in Dreamland—has been somewhat different. It is a slender novel that I would describe as a species of parable. However, I would say that if it stands alone, it also illumes the tetralogy.
LM: As you were working on the books in the tetralogy, you obviously had these central metaphors or motifs—earth, fire, water, and air—that created a kind of organic framework for what you were doing. Is there any kind of unifying image or principle that you are aware of with the new book? Or were you mostly just telling a story?
RD: I think the unifying principle was Don Quixote—but as a “folie a cing.” The novel turned out to be about all sorts of things: terror of the female body, of the unknown, of the abyss, of absences. The attempt to fill the hole with noise. Magical thinking! Orthodoxies and sexual craziness. As the novel progressed, the vanished aborigines of Birdland returned in the shapes of visions, food, songs, erotic artifacts, a painted cave, and, finally, a living lover. So if the book is about human folly, it is also about the resurgent capacity of the erotic imagination.
LM: Do you find your creative process operating differently now from the way it did when you were first starting as a writer? For instance, you mentioned that you are now perhaps more aware of reworking motifs and character type.
RD: Somehow that doesn’t get easier. When I write it’s almost as if I’m in a waking hallucination even though I’m aware that I’m consistently dealing with certain kinds of motifs, like the cosmic egg, or twins, or monkeys, or the problem of power. The only thing that’s different is that, having done it before and survived, I know I can do it again. Psychologically, then, it’s easier; from a technical standpoint, it’s not. If anything, there seem to be more challenges.
LM: Beginning with that early scene in The Stain where Charlotte eats the clock, references to eating and food are a constant in your fiction—in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read anybody who has as many different kinds of food references that operate in so many different ways, sensuously and also metaphorically. Can you talk for a moment about the role of food in your work? It was obvious from the dinner you made last night that you’re interested in food from a personal standpoint, but at what point does this become a motif that you’re aware of as an artist?
RD: I love the sensual world, I love the body, and I love the physical, natural world. And for me part of the delight of existence is the feast. The ideal day for me is to get a walk in nature, do creative work of some kind, and then prepare a feast at the end of the day.
SG: In The Jade Cabinet you describe Tubbs arriving in Egypt and wanting to make it into a pudding with raisins. That sentence seemed to express beautifully not only a deep-seated response to the awareness that time and the cosmos are devouring everything—but the desire to turn this around, so that “he” can do the devouring.
RD: Tubbs is the Market! He would eat the world with a runcible spoon if he could—he is so fearful of being devoured himself: by space, by time. It is mortality that prods him on.
LM: After you had finished Entering Fire, at what point did you begin The Fountains of Neptune?
RD: At once. The wonderful thing about having the tetralogy in mind was an extended “season;” it was like writing a single book.
LM: Those vivid, fantastic stories that Nicolas hears throughout the opening of Fountains of Neptune, the ones about ghost ships, bars made out of whale bones, mermaids and sea monsters and so forth—where did those come from?
RD: Some of them came from living in the village and listening to my neighbor, who was drunk but also a wonderful storyteller; the stories that would up in the book aren’t his stories, but there’s something about the quality of his storytelling that informed Toujours-La’s voice.
LM: It struck me while I was reading The Fountains of Neptune that you were describing the last period in which this kind of magical storytelling was possible. We can’t have stories like that anymore—the magic and mystery has been dispelled by the cameras and information.
RD: No, its gone, You know, that’s one of the things that I really miss about living in the village before television. There were a lot of old codgers around who would say things like: “I remember when sardines were so precious that for a treat we would have them for dessert with coffee.” An image like that one would often be enough to get me writing.
LM: Nicolas’s construction of this strange, idealized other world—a place outside of space and time that he could control—reminded me of similar creations: J. Henry Waugh’s baseball universe in Bob Coover’s Universal Baseball Association, Kinbote’s Zembla in Nabokov’s Pale Fire, the various fantastic imaginary cities and worlds you find in Borges, Calvino, and Robert Kelly.
RD: Nicolas’s ideal world originates in my father’s passion for war games. He had hundreds and hundreds of lead soldiers—Hittites, Nazis, everything. He also played a postal game and had named himself the Emperor of d’Elir. It was delirium! My father was brilliant, handsome, eccentric, and fearful of the world. Playing at war, he could make and break the rules. I grew to hate games because whenever he was cornered he would pull a new rule out of the air. Once he offered to teach me fencing, and before I knew it he had lunged at my heart. The “rule,” I knew, was that a touch was enough to win. I thought: “what if that rule gets broken?” I never did learn to fence.
Many years later he was nearly blind and living in Canada, he was desperate to play Chinese chess. I felt sorry for him and said OK. He got out a board—I think it was for Parcheesi, and various pieces from chess and checkers games (even dominoes!)—upon which he had stuck little emblems, and said “As you can see I don’t have a Chinese chess set, but these elephants will be horses and they move like bishops except that on certain occasions they can leap to the left (or the right); and then this piece with the tiddly-wink glued to its head will be the emperor although it’s the wrong color. But you’ll remember that all the black pieces belong with the red—you’ll notice we have black, red and white; the green tiddlywink is really black.” This went on for ten minutes and then I said, “Dad, I need a walk, I’ll be back.” And walked over to my friend Jane Urquhart’s house and I said, “Jane, I need a whiskey.” And Jane said, “Rikki, you don’t drink whiskey.”
SG: Where did the image of the jade cabinet come from?
RD: I love jade and the tales about the uncut stone’s destiny conveyed to the carver in a vision or a dream—the virtual image hidden within that he is to give tangible form to. A terrific metaphor for a character telling the author what the book must be. I’ve done many drawings inspired by Chinese or Mayan jade—imaginary archeologies. But The Jade Cabinet was precipitated by a phrase of Kafka’s that’s always intrigued me: “All language is but poor translation.” In other words, if we could speak the language of languages, the language of Eden, we would have the power to conjure the world of things: a tower of Babel, cabbages and kings. But it was Memory who gave the book to me, just as Septimus gave me Entering Fire.
SG: Of course, the main focus of The Jade Cabinet is Etheria. Did you ever consider narrating the book from her point of view? Although that would have kept her from being such a figure of levitation.
RD: You’re right. Etheria had to be talked about; her story was “porous.” This is why she takes form through scraps of letter, journals, phrases, and memories. She is volatile, a spirit or inspiriting presence, an animating air. For her gravity-bound husband, Radulph Tubbs, she is also a season of the mind.
SG: At the end of the book, were you aware when those shots were fired that killed the magician that it wasn’t Etheria who had been murdered?
RD: No, I didn’t plan it that way. I didn’t know that until Memory discovered it. At that point, I though, My God, Etheria has vanished!
SG: There are several ways that your work goes against the grain of a lot of things that are in the air, philosophically and aesthetically, in postmodernism. For instance, there seems to be an insistence in your writing that everything is finally not undecidable and relative, that there are moral distinctions that can be made (and need to be made). So for all the emphasis in your work about flux and ambiguity, there’s also an almost old-fashioned insistence on the difference between good and bad. But it also strikes me that in your work the difference between good and evil is not the difference between power and passivity, but more between the willingness to use power for life enhancement or for destructiveness—it often seems as simple as destruction vs. creation, or something like that. Part of that has to do with the way you present language itself—this sense that language has an ability to control and limit in bad ways versus language which liberates, which opens things up, in good ways.
RD: I grew up on Sartre and continue to think that freedom without responsibility is just another form of enslavement. We live in terrible times in which the so-called freedom to make money without concern for the social and ecological consequences is unquestioned. Living and being has been usurped by taking! To fight this is seen as subversive.
It seems to me that rigor—aesthetic, intellectual—is the paradox at the heart of creative work. But what I call rigor resists definition because it cannot be reduced to one small bone; it is not palpable, but intuited. Every artist worth her salt knows what I mean—either one chooses the well-trodden path, platitude, sentimentality, the current orthodoxy, whatever, or one blazes a trail which is, no matter the nature of the work, part of the process of becoming. I think rigor implies trusting inner experience, investigating inner experience, and so investigating the work of courage. In this way the artist reveals the darkness and the wild beauty at the heart of things. Such a revelation can be a profound aesthetic experience and, simultaneously, a transgressive, a regenerating experience.
I fear we are undergoing a “fascistization” of culture and one indication of that is the idea that beauty is elitist, or somehow “soft.” As if beauty didn’t belong to all of us. And the idea that truth is a lump of bloody human cartilage attracting flies and not the “living being.” What I am attempting to describe here is the process toward understanding, and if I speak of rigor and imagination so much it’s because I think we cannot function as free beings, as “imagining” beings, unless we have the courage to perceive the world and to name what we see, to choose clarity over opacity.
LM: Again, the way you’re describing this process—this struggle between competing forces, the existence of an evil that is actual rather than just a metaphor—sounds almost Manichean.
RD: There’s a connection there with Manichism, I’m sure, but I’m not talking of “cosmical” powers but worldly ones. I’m talking about the constant tension or struggle I perceive—well, it is “palpable”—between forces of enslavement and obscuration, and forces of liberation and illumination. For example, what are the descendants of the Maya fighting for now? They are fighting for what we all want and what we all must have: the right to “be” in the fullest sense.
LM: In some basic sense your books always seem to present these opposing kinds of principles struggling for control of people’s minds and lives—and one thing I admire about your treatment of this struggle is that you’re “old-fashioned” enough to eschew the easy relativism that’s become associated with so many postmodern works. In other words you’re willing to take sides and come down clearly on the side of “life.”
RD: I’m saying the side of life is the primary subversion.
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20–—11:15
Professor: Cathy Ryan
Feb 19th, 2017
Diane Williams was a famous writer who lived in New York, America. She was the person I found who has the simple name which can be written easily many times compared to other authors. However, through her interview with John O’Brien, I found that she was a free style writer who does not want to imagine the contents of the book or experience the events she had been through. What she wanted in her book is a brand new world with vivid characters living with their own faith, not Diane’s. Therefore, she is a pretty interesting and successful writer that I personally like.
During the interview, I know that Diane moved from place to place to improve her writing skills when she was very young: firstly in Pennsylvania, and then went to Chicago and New York. Moreover, I learned that she was a very emotional and creative person shown in her dancing period, because she felt depressed when she danced with robot-like dancers and improvised a lot when she did the choreography. Soon after she went to DoubleDay where she trained to be an editor and started her professional writing life. Due to her high self-esteem, she wrote many successful stories during the time she was a secretary of someone else, but could not reproduce the glorious work she had written. After she had her first kid, Jacob, she changed her mind and started writing children’s book under a odd circumstance. Although the book itself did not met the qualification for 12-year-old children to read, she did her best on trying new topics.
When Diane realized that she can write something novel about her own children, she tried her best to imitate the fear that if her child was hit by a car, and that’s how her stream of idea goes. She let her words free to write themselves, and what she could do was put herself in the third person view, getting a reduction on her own point of view, where she found writing could be as a perfection.
If I ever had a chance to interview Diane, I would ask her how to get into the theme that characters move themselves arms and legs when you are writing about them. Diane may respond to me that if you can mimic the character under your pen, such as their feelings, their appearances and their personalities, you can let them go free. The characters would do whatever they want, and you are writing about what you recorded from the theme.
Diane Williams as a successful writing who wrote 8 books, her work are worth for reading, and here is the lists of book she have written.
• This Is About the Body, the Mind, the Soul, the World, Time, and Fate (1990).
• Some Sexual Success Stories Plus Other Stories in Which God Might Choose to Appear (1992)
• The Stupefaction (1996)
• Excitability: Selected Stories (1998)
• Romancer Erector (2001)
• It Was Like My Trying to Have a Tender-Hearted Nature, (2007).
• Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty (2012)
• Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (2016)
- My First Real Home(2008)
Title: Diane Williams is at her unconventional best in ‘Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine’
Author: Carmela Ciuraru, Jan 21th, 2016
Rating: ★★out of★★★★★
The website introduced Diane’s work Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, and introduced Diane a little bit and her writing style with a picture.
Meina Zhou_dalkey-1svhdll (Download Word)
English 1110.01, Monday 10:20-11:15AM
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: “Authors Profile” (Dalkey)
February 18, 2017
Michel Butor was born in 1926 in northern France. He is a representative of the important writers of nouveau roman in French literature during 1950s, and he was hailed as one of the most promising novelist in the 20th century by Jean-Paul Sartre, who was one of the leading figures of French philosophy during 20th century.
Butor never stopped writing in his life. He wrote over a thousand novels and essays. Besides that, he also wrote poetries and created painting. He explains that to make art is an “indomitable urge” of human beings. He also says he likes travelling. He considers travelling as his motivation for the whole life, because he can explore everything and seeing all kinds of perspectives. For example, during his trip to Egypt, he not only found a job as a teacher, but also found “the god of writing” in Egypt. Therefore, he cannot help writing all his experience down.
In his interview with Anna Otten, Butor discusses about his creation. He says though the stories of his novels are extremely simple, he focuses more on the combination between words and words, and he is always looking for a new kind of novel form. For instance, La Modification, his most famous novel, is written completely in the second person. Moreover, he likes to collaborate and use the experience of other writers for reference as well. Then he will reorganize or transform them into different meaning in the new context. He believes reading other’s work and learning something from them can help him see world culture in the form of a “gigantic weaving”, with a profusion of individual strands and threads. With the combination of his ideas and others’ ideas, he can create all kinds of works and use them to change the reality, to make up the emptiness of life, and to find out the mysteries of life.
If I had the opportunity to interview Michel Butor, I would ask him what kind of art would it be if he had to create a work of art to show his creation. I think he would say it is hard for him to make a decision since he also has lots of hobbies, such as painting and music. Maybe he would also say he doesn’t like the word “creation”, because he says he just transforms and changes something from outside world, he doesn’t crate anything of nothing. I would also ask if he couldn’t travel to some places, could he still write so many novels? I think he would say no, because he once said his experience of the journey is the main source of his novel. He travels first, then he writes. I like his attitude to life: he enjoys exploring the life, then he spends time on thinking the world and creating arts.
Michel Butor has written numerous works throughout his lifetime. Below is a list of his most famous work:
- Passage de Milan (1954)
- L’emploi du temps (1956)
- La modification (1957)
- Degrés (1960)
- Histoire extraordinaire : essai sur un rêve de Baudelaire (1961)
- Les mots dans la peinture (1969)
- Improvisations sur Flaubert (1984)
- Improvisations sur Michel Butor : l’écriture en transformation (1993)
- L’utilité poétique (1995)
- Quant au livre : triptyque en l’honneur de Gauguin (2000)
- “Répertoires [I à V]” (1960–1982)
- “Essais sur le roman”
Title: Courrier des Antipodes – Notes on Michel Butor’s Letters from the Antipodes
Format: Biography with pictures and facts
Authors: Pam Brown, 1 February 2017
Rating: ★★ ★ out of ★★★★★
This website briefly introduces the book, Letters from the Antipodes, which was introduced and translated by Michael Spencer. It shows the style of Michel Butor’s writing and how he commented his work in the 1960s.
A Conversation with Michel Butor By Anna Otten
From “The Review of Contemporary Fiction,” Fall 1985, Vol. 5.3
ANNA OTTEN: What makes you write a new book?
MICHEL BUTOR: I like to explore, everything interests me. Within each book I explore something new, see various perspectives, in themes. Often I am reminded of something I have read or written elsewhere. But within the framework of a certain book, the ensemble acquires specific significance. Even when I quote another writer, the quotation takes on a different meaning in the new context. In the final analysis, what thought is really new? When I look back, I find in ancient books answers to questions I have asked myself a hundred times.
AO: But you give different answers.
MB: I cannot help transforming or at least modifying them. Each generation has to find new answers. Cultures change and men change with them. Nothing stands still. I am not the same from one moment to the next. When Hokusai sketches his thirty-six and his ten additional views of Mount Fuji, they all turn out to be different. Each time his point of view changes.
AO: You do not limit yourself to literature.
MB: No. I like to explore the arts as a whole and see world culture in the form of a gigantic weaving, with a profusion of individual strands and threads. There are spaces between them and tissue below the surface.
AO: You showed me one of your work sheets on which you had divided the page into columns and sections by drawing lines that look like threads to separate them. It looked like a grid or weaving.
MB: Yes. In print, I have different columns, typography or various colors of ink. I plan how much space will be allotted to each section of the text. Organization provides a certain rhythm, particularly in my plays written for the radio. Various speakers convey verbal and tonal elements that shape the play as a whole.
AO: I felt that I had listened to a play and, simultaneously, a piece of music, with melodies, point, counterpoint, repetitions, harmonies, dissonances, silences . . .
MB: Silences are a powerful presence or absence. They are a musical phenomenon and may cut or prolong the impact of an actor’s recitation. In some plays, the sonorous quality of language is so important that they can be seen as texts and musical scores.
AO: I also remember your “Faust.”
MB: Oh, yes, the “Faust.” I wrote the libretto and Henri Pousseur the music. It is a collaboration.
AO: I noticed a great deal of verbal and musical interlacing of individual components, almost too intricate. They are so intertwined that they develop a chemistry of their own. References to other writers—Goethe, Marlowe—are also interspersed.
MB: I like to collaborate and often quote many other writers—Mallarme, Chateaubriand. When I quote someone in my books, it is a form of collaboration since the citation, placed in a new context, becomes an integral part of my text. I use language I have learned, and the musician uses notes that existed before him.
AO: You have written many essays on musicians.
MB: Yes, music interests me. I often improvise within certain textual cells; this is akin to musical composition—jazz, for example.
AO: You are interested in jazz?
MB: But yes, but yes! Why are you so surprised?
AO: You are a serious writer!
MB: One can be a serious writer, love jazz and write about it. Consider a jam session. Individuals get together to contribute to the future of performance. The band leader selects soloists he knows. He must foresee. The writer must also anticipate how his components can form a coherent whole.
AO: You could say the same thing about painting.
MB: Painting is also a process toward organized composition, like music. It is a matter of imaging a structure within which colors and shapes can form an artistic whole. Writing, music and painting are three faces of the same enterprise: formation of new tissue. Of course, there are many other contributors to the cultural fabric, among them sculpture and architecture. All artists work within this fabric to change it. There simply is no truly individual work. The immense cultural weaving exists at our birth and nourishes us. We become part of it, others follow us. All works are collective!
AP: Michel Butor, you have partially answered my questions by your view of the writer as contributor to the cultural heritage of humanity, his reinterpretation of inherited wisdom for his time and the future. He has to look backward and forward at the same time, like Janus. This is how you see Michel Butor, the writer. Is there not another perspective, namely, Michel the man and his personal modification through writing?
MB: I find it hard to separate the two.
AO: There are rapid reflections, constant movements and a great array of personifications as well as many versions of your events; your point of view changes, which means, you change. Just as Hokusai does in his different views of sacred Fuji. Beckett’s statement that the observer infects the observed with his own mobility certainly applies to you. Did you not say at the colloquium at Royaumont that you “write to obtain unity in your life” and that writing is for you “a spinal cord”?
MB: It is extremely important for my personal growth. I want to capture in writing the most important things that I see, hear, read, and think.
AO: You have said that for the writer nothing is lost. It seems to me as if you look around and record your perceptions of the world and by doing this, you find out what you are at a given moment. What else can you do, if you want to know who you are? The mind cannot look at itself, you cannot see your self think, except in writing. I recall that the questions “Who are you?” and “Where are you going?” come up in “La Modification.”
MB: I cannot answer those questions, but I find what I thought when I look at what I have written. I know why I write: I have an indomitable urge, as if a voice dictated to me and then the text engenders itself. I should like to know the center . . . the voice. It may be God’s
AO: You record its reflection. There must be stillness at the center out of which “the voice” rises, as it keeps exploring the periphery.
MB: It is a succession of voices, just as we are a succession of individuals.
AO: Perhaps it is consciousness. But you work with, and in, language, and form is of primary importance to you. You follow strict rules of composition when you write.
MB: They are the rules of musical and geometrical structures.
AO: And architecture. Words are for you building blocks. You construct strings of connotations, place words into unexpected context or insert incompatible comparisons. They become weapons to attack cherished middle-class semantic, artistic, social and political beliefs.
MB: Those beliefs are sclerotized and must be changed. I look at words closely and discover hidden meanings. I do not pretend that words are univocal; it is much more complicated than that. Some words are charged with problems and ambiguities. Rather than imitate acquired forms, I seek personal exploration of contemporary reality and not that of yesteryear.
AO: A renaissance?
MB: Yes, a kind of renaissance, not a spiritual movement that is born, grows, and dies, not a closed circle. You call it circle in space and cycle in time. I aim to open the circle and continue the cycle to have a helix or a spiral.
AO: That means this renaissance has to be continuous.
MB: To cling to traditional ways was an illusion people had. That is no longer possible. The idea of doing is important. And to write is action par excellence.
Some things have to be finished, the work itself has to expand. The writer is a tenuous beginning, we cannot even say a beginning—an articulation. He is situated midway between the older and the newer reality. When he publishes his work and people read and respond, he helps to shape the future that will in turn become a past. When the writer dies, his work will survive.
An efficient work of literature will close some bad periods, but that closing is not permanent. Even during unproductive cultural epochs, something can be redeemed. We have never closed the Dark Ages. Our own age is still dark and we hear voices rising out of it. We have to change our past in order to change our future. We must turn back and throw light on it to see it in a new way. What we need is archeology around and in ourselves.
There is a strong link between inspiration and childhood. When Proust wanted to experience a new childhood and become a writer, he had to go back to his first childhood. Things forgotten wait in the library of your mind. It is a question of having to look back ward and yet not go backward at the same time. To free Euridyce from Hades, Orpheus was forbidden to look back at her and when he did, he lost her. Almost the same legend can be found in the Bible. It is the story of Lot’s wife, who, when fleeing Sodom, looked back and was transformed into a pillar of salt. We have to be able to look forward, but to bring back Euridyce you have to go back to Hades. It was a very powerful memory, which was at the origin of the journey to hell. We always have to descend into hell in order to got out of it. It’s also an open cycle.
AO: We have to get to know the past without regressing into it. If we were tempted to go back and stay, mental growth would be impossible. We would freeze in time and space. You firmly believe in eternal movement in life and literature?
MB: Yes, yes. I believe that one’s work is never finished.
AO: Nothing is finished that could not be formed differently. That, by the way, is what I learned at my alma mater.
MB: The university is not always an alma mater, but can be a tyrannical, a castrating mother. It is necessary to change that mother, reveal what she is and change her.
AO: Evidently she represents two poles of motherhood, death-bearing Kali and birth-giving Parvati.
Sometimes I think of the German bildungsroman when I read certain of your works. I find that they show a young man’s learning process in the world, the wish to transform it and make it better, the search for selfhood through experience in a variety of environments. There is also constant forward movement and no standing still whether in time or space. The best graphic representation would be a spiral.
MB: You can also speak of the spiral of spirals. In the bildungsroman you have one spiral and all events around one evolving character. This is the case for some of my books, for instance “L’Emploi du temps,” “La Modification” and even “Degres.” In “Degres” the central character is broken down into articulations of characters since all takes place inside the secondary educational system in Paris.
My German book, “Portrait de l’artiste en juene singe,” is also an educational novel. It is full of references to German writers of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. But in most of my other books, you have a multiplicity of characters. There certainly is “Bildung” in many senses of the word in all of my works. There is education and pedagogy, a way to teach; but even more, there is a way to learn, and it is a way to form something: the reader, the writer, words give form to reality. So, certainly, you can draw a comparison to the German bildungsroman.
AO: I can also see biographical elements in your books.
MB: In the last years, biographical elements have become more and more evident in my writing. At the beginning, when I wrote my first novels, I wanted to have characters as different as possible from myself. Nevertheless, I see in my first books similarities between characters and myself. It was important for me to have mirror structures, “mise en abyme” and the like. After some time the name of Michel Butor appears in my text and it becomes in some way autobiographical. But I have never written a continuous autobiography and I do not think that I ever will. But there are more and more autobiographical moments.
The first book where this is evident is the first “Genie du lieu.” It was a book about places, and it was not possible for me to speak about places without speaking about myself and giving indications of the point of view. How can one speak about the situation without saying anything about the person who looks at it? After that work, you very often have autobiographical references.
At some point my family came into my writing; I needed to speak about my four daughters. I think that this period is finished now, but I am not sure.
At any rate, in “Boomerang” I mentioned my whole family, my daughters and my wife. It is interesting to see how the consciousness changes and how biographical elements intervene. This is related to biography itself. Perhaps one of these days I shall write something for my grandchildren. Maybe the time will come; so far it has not.
Marie Jo plays a very important role in “Boomerang” and so do the four daughters. In my writing, they have always appeared together. My daughters had already erupted into my writing when they were five years old. That’s strange.
AO: You placed them in all sorts of geographical regions, surely because they were part of whatever you were doing.
MB: Yes. In all three volumes of “Genie du lieu” autobiographical elements are present. I wanted to be as faithfully autobiographical as possible. I tried to give the historical elements, not to tell any lie, and avoid errors. In “Portrait de l’artiste,” the first part is as faithful to my autobiography as I could be, but the second part contains inventions and transformations. Some day historians will demonstrate that I made mistakes, but that day has not come so far.
AO: What about “Matiere de reves”?
MB: That is different. I dream about dreams.
AO: We already know that you are multiple and have many identities. What are your two main strands? Author/critic?
MB: I don’t know. There can, of course, be Michel Butor judge of Michel. In these last years I have given seminars and lectures about my work. It is difficult to do. I had to reread some of my books that I had forgotten. When I write something new, I have to push back the old one, erase the blackboard to make something different. Some critics or translators begin to know some of my books much better than I. I reread some works, not to judge them but to comment on what I have done, and so do for myself what I have done for other writers. And I prefer to comment on other writers, but I am sufficiently different from my earlier work so that I can speak about my own work from time to time.
In my own work, I try to give explanations, theories, and criticism. I know when I write about other writers, I also reveal myself; when I discover other, I also discover myself. It is not so different, it is a matter of degree.
AO: If you had to create a work of art that would symbolize your creation, in which art would it be? A musical composition or a painting? Or would you rather be an architect than a painter?
MB: I should like to be everything: musician, painter, horseback rider, pilot . . . and writing is a way to be several people at the same time.
I don’t like the word “creation.” The word means to create something of nothing. I am always making things from inside the world. I am “inside” the world. I am trying to be inside the world! I transform, I change, I do not “create”!
When I was young, I hesitated between music and painting, so I chose literature. No! I did not choose. I was “chosen.”
AO: Is it not a free choice?
MB: Oh, no, it is not free at all.
AO: Let me congratulate you. You are the happiest prisoner I have ever seen.
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20AM-11:15AM
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: The Lost Thing Quiz
February 1, 2017
The short-animated film by Shaun Tan tells us an amazing story about a boy and a lost thing. The boy looks like an ordinary boy in the big city as other people. One day he found a strange thing on the beach but people around never noticed it. He woke up it and made friend with it. Then he realized that it was a lost thing because no one care about it. His most know knowledgable friend had no idea with it and his parents saw it inimically. He found a official department for these strange objects but a worker in the department’s building sent him a tip to find another place to give his friend a better place to live. They followed that tip and reached a place that was full of the strange objects like the lost thing.
I think this boy looks like ordinary boys but he is much different from them. He is unusual because he would like to find something that others ignored in his life. He collects coins as well as bottle top while others are lying on the beach or works in their position with poker faces. Only he noticed “the lost thing” and was willing to playing with it. When all the people left the beach, only he would like to take “the lost thing” to find what exactly it was. He was always concerned about it in the short two days with it. For example, he took a long way trip to city in order to find the home of “the lost thing”. When someone told him that there is a better place for “the lost thing” to live, he was willing to finding that place rather than left it at the cold, official department easily. In the whole story, only him and the stranger at the department building’s hall have cared about the real life of “the lost thing”. Compared with others’ unconcerned faces, they are the few people with warm heart in the cold, industrialized city. I do not know why no one cared about “the lost thing” in their daily life. Maybe they only focus on their personal work and ignore every thing around them. They lower their heads, walk follow others. They do not want anything to disturb their boring life.
I think the name of the strange object, “the lost thing”, represents something that normal modern people lost. That is the ability to find nice things in their daily life. People suffer from busy work, family issues as well as other pressure. They spend all their time and energy on their daily target but forget to explore the nice things in their free time. They become numb. When they see a beautiful flower near the road to office or pass a street busker. They will pass them rather than stop to enjoy the beauty. They work, fight, then become tired. Their life is boring and repetitive. The writer reminds us that please pay more attention to the kind, beautiful and native things out of work. What we need is a signal to the unknown but interesting world. Knock the door, then we will enjoy the brilliant world which is full of the lost things.
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20AM-11:15AM
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: CHARACTER SKETCH/”ETHNOGRAPHY” WRITING
January 30, 2017
“I must finish all my homework this nightly absolutely. I am not supposed to delay anymore.” She told to me and showed me her determination.
It was the fifth time for me to hear her great determination after tonight’s dinner. She has a great amount of homework and assignments again and again. Fortunately, her professors also provided enough time for her to finish. However, she has a big weakness, procrastination. Whenever the due day is, she always wants to waste some time before starts her work or postpone her schedule. Then she had to finish her work in limited time with anxiety every time. This week, she was addicted to watching TV series, chatting with her friends and sleeping during the daytime, and then later she found tomorrow would be the due time. She was really worried about the assignments so she invited me to study in the library together tonight as well as supervise her to complete the homework.
As soon as we found a place to sit and put down our schoolbags, she took out her mobile phone and saying, “I just need to reply some message to my friends. It will not take a long time.” She said, with eyes focusing on the screen when I urged her to do her tasks. Next, about half of an hour passed and her computer still had not been turned on. She logged in her account on her computer eventually after I urged her several times. To my surprise, there was not a website for her study on her screen, but a shopping website. “Well, today is the last discount day on the website, otherwise I will regret for the whole year,” she said and then she wasted another half hour. She did not have enough time left to do the assignments tonight. Then it was very close to the closing time of the library tonight. “Wow! I have not started my homework today, and it is already so late,” she shouted out and really attracted others’ attention. The approaching deadline forced her made a great decision. She gave me her mobile phone and started to focus on her assignments.
What did she do in the rest of night? Do you think she finished her homework? That is only our nice personal thought but not true. A few minutes later, I found that she started to feel sleepy and the speed of her clicking the keyboard also became much slower. When I finished my homework and turned to see her, she was lying on the keyboard and fell asleep. The only content on her screen was three lines topic of the paper and the shining mouse cursor alone. Therefore, one more night was wasted by her without any progress of her homework. I was really worried about her when she told me she had to stay late that night to complete. It is impossible for her to finish the homework with high quality in such a short time. Just as other people say, delaying for things is a kind of disease for her seriously. If she saves her time every time and does everything ahead of time, I am sure her score will go up within a short time.
Peer comments of Common Sense
Commonsense_Peer comments_Yuepeng Chen(James)-1o0hl8f
English 1110.01, MWF 10:20AM-11:15AM
Instructor: Cathy Ryan
Assignment: Common sense
February 13, 2017
Common sense of China’s education
As a common sense in China’s education system, passing the college entrance exam is the only measure of success of a student’s life. Gaokao, the Chinese college entrance exam, has become the most important goal of all the Chinese families with children. Many years ago, the college entrance exam was the only way for young Chinese young people who forced to live in the countryside because of the policy to go back to the big cities since 1978. Or they will stay in the countryside all their lives. As far as nowadays, most Chinese talented people in all industries come from the first generation of university students who passed the exam during those special years. Therefore, now parents try to let their children realize the importance of the college entrance exam when their children start to receive education. At the same ages, children are still in kindergarten in other countries. Students compete for the exam since they take exams for the best school in their ages and the final target of all Chinese students, maybe all Chinese teenagers, is to pass the college entrance exam and go to a good university. All the country focus on this exam annually. News reporters begin to follow all the processes of this exam 4 months before the test. Experts express their point of view on television every June after the exam. Tutoring organizations for this exam earn many benefits every year. However, is the college entrance exam the only way of success for all the Chinese teenagers and their families? If they failed the exam, will their future become full of darkness nowadays? I do not think so. This paper will talk about my opinion towards the common sense of China’s education, the college entrance exam.
As the development of China’s economy and the change of ideas in some areas, Chinese young people now have more options to achieve the lives they want. Firstly, I think Chinese families’ economic conditions have become much better than before. Parents are willing to send their children to study abroad. For example, when I was in the last year of my senior high school, the students with the highest scores and the worst scores decided to study abroad at the same time. Good students thought they could achieve better education opportunities out of China because China’s college education level is still not high in the world. But the worst students had realized that they are unable to pass the exam so they chose to pay much more money to enter other normal universities with easy entrance standards. They avoid participating in the college entrance exam, but they also achieved the education experiences they want.
Secondly, in my opinion, young people in China have more personal opinions than before. In the past, they followed the way that their parents, friends, older people of their generation did. However, they have begun to find that lives others described are not the real lives they want. They are unwilling to enter an ordinary university and then become a normal office worker like their parents want them to be. Maybe they hate sitting in classrooms and doing endless homework as well as exams. They have their interests, and they believe they should spend their best time of their life on the things they love. Young author called Hanhan has one million readers. Young e-sports player called Uzi won the world champion twice. Young singer Jay Chou becomes well known all around the world. A famous Chinese writer, Eileen Chang, said that becoming famous must take advantage of early. It is better to do the things they like rather than waste their time on the college entrance exam during their most valuable young ages.
Thirdly, some poor students in China refuse to participate in the college entrance exam but choose to work earlier instead. Nowadays, the tuition fee of universities has increased rapidly. It is not easy for students from poor areas or not wealthy families to afford the tuition fee. Some families borrow money from others with high interests to pay for the fee but it finally causes the financial crisis. In addition, the end of their university graduation is not going to work and feeding their families. They own neither any human resource or social experiences. Except the reasons above, the huge pressure of expensive housing price in big China cities and high cost of living in big cities will push them back to their hometown. After that they will find that their friends who did not join the college entrance exam has worked for more than 5 years with abundant work experience. Some of their friends have become rich bosses who drive luxurious cars and enjoy their wealthy life. In my point of view, going to work earlier is not a bad choice for this kind of young people above to support their family’s economic condition. They do not need to fight with others in big cities who have rich background and better foundation. They will also be able to learn some useful life skills and knowledge during their work time.
Above all, just like a saying goes, all roads lead to Roma. It is useless for Chinese parents and students to see the college entrance exam as the measure of success. To my way of thinking, doing the jobs they love is the real success of young people’s lives.