I have been a lackluster blogger as of late. The few posts I have managed to churn out have been poor efforts at recapping my FAVORITE reality show. You would think I would have been all over the chance to regularly keep up with my all-star chefs! The fact that I have been so bad at it should tell you that I must have had good reasons keeping me from successful and healthy blogging!
The largest hurdle in my way has been the monstrous amount of reading I've had for my two courses this quarter. Taking multiple classes would have been a walk in the park in
the days of yore college, when I had the ability to function on a mere two hours sleep and my entire universe was concentrated in the relatively few miles that made up my college campus. Now, I'm out of academic (and physical!) shape, have other additional responsibilities, and spend lots of time driving to and fro. Truly, I have loved reading the novels visible in that pile, but my aspiration to carefully complete each one has resulted in a necessary sacrifice of my time. Though I had read most of them before, I determined to read them all again, start to finish. I am proud to have completed my goal thus far, though we'll see how I can manage when we finally arrive at our last book for the quarter, Absalom, Absalom!
Each week we are required to write a brief paper (only a few pages long) honing in on an issue or thorny problem that stuck out in our minds while reading. It's given me a chance to scrutinize all my notes and highlighting, so I include a smattering of quotes here. My favorite book so far? Wuthering Heights, though I admit that my teenage notions of great love from my first reading were dissipated immediately when my more mature adult perspective saw Cathy and Heathcliff for who they really were. Most pleasant surprise? The Scarlet Letter. I should not have read it in high school, a time when most great literature is tragically unappreciated. It was excellent.
"Even where the affections are not strongly moved by any superior excellence, the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds, which hardly any later friend can obtain. They know our infantine dispositions, which, however they may be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge of our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity of our motives." -Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
"My sensations were those of extreme horror and dismay. In vain I attempted to reason on the probable cause of my being thus entombed. I could summon up no connected chain of reflection, and, sinking on the floor, gave way, unresistingly, to the most gloomy imaginings, in which the dreadful deaths of thirst, famine, suffocation, and premature interment crowded upon me as the prominent disasters to be encountered."
-The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe
"My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I would not be a part of it."
-Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
"But there was a fatality, a feeling so irresistible and inevitable that it has the force of doom, which almost invariably compels human beings to linger around and haunt, ghost-like, the spot where some great and marked event has given the color to their lifetime; and still the more irresistibly, the darker the tinge that saddens it."
-The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
"To add to the difficulties and dangers of the time, masses of sea-fog came drifting inland-white, wet clouds, which swept by in ghostly fashion, so dank and damp and cold that it needed but little effort of the imagination to think that the spirits of those lost at sea were touching their living brethren with the clammy hands of death, and many a one shuddered as the wreaths of sea-mist swept by."
-Dracula, Bram Stoker
"Here at present I felt afresh-for I had felt it again and again-how my equilibrium depended on the success of my rigid will, the will to shut my eyes as tight as possible to the truth that what I had to deal with was revoltingly, against nature. I could only get on at all by taking 'nature' into my confidence and my account, by treating my monstrous ordeal as a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant, but demanding after all, for a fair front, only another turn of the screw of ordinary human virtue."
-The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
And now for the REAL reason why I have difficulty taking a few minutes to sit down and blog about whatever recipe or movie is on my mind. Meet my nemesis:
Yes, my other course revolves around this hefty, inscrutable tome. It is my second on James Joyce, both taught by a lovely, gem of a professor who has been a faithful guide through the murky forest of Joyce's words. I knew I would certainly never be able to sit down with Ulysses outside of an academic setting, and considering its fame, I felt I should take the opportunity to study the book with a real expert.
I can't say that I'm full of regrets for the decision, but I can certainly tell you that I have never been challenged in such a way before. It is easily the most difficult text I have ever encountered. In the beginning of the course, I spent most of my time racking my brain to figure out what was going on, even sentence by sentence. Now, rather than get frustrated, I simply accept that I'm going to miss some things. I can readily identify the reasons why Joyce is such a huge literary giant, and will thoroughly attest to his talent. When our class finishes, however, I don't think I'll be returning for a second reading any time in the near future.
Just to get an idea of the sheer craziness that goes on week after week, try this rather tame quote on for size:
"A frowsy whore with black straw sailor hat askew came glazily in the day along the quay towards Mr. Bloom. When first he saw that form endearing? Yes it is. I feel so lonely. Wet night in the lane. Horn. Who had the? Heehaw shesaw. Off her beat here. What is she? Hope she. Psst! Any chance of your wash. Knew Molly. Had me decked. Stout lady does be with you in the brown costume. Put you off your stroke, that. Appointment we made knowing we'd never, well hardly ever. Too dear too near to home sweet home. Sees me, does she? Looks a fright in the day. Face like dip. Damn her. Oh, well, she has to live like the rest. Look in here." -Ulysses, James Joyce
Just over halfway done with winter quarter-here's to better blogging in my future!