Intermedia Studio Critique I

Tuesday, 09.07.16

Introductory Pecha Kucha

Title: Memory, “Insight through words and visions”

Works of Literature, Listed in Order of Appearance

 

  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee [1]

Escape is such a thankful Word” by Emily Dickinson [2]

A Book” by Emily Dickinson [3]

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder [4]

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren[5]

Over the Rainbow Lyrics by Yip Harburg[6]  and Music by Harold Arlen[7]

Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams [8].

The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and Jacqueline Rogers [9]

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe [10]

 Indignation by Philip Roth [11]

Beowulf, Lines 1-5. Translated by Raffel Burton[12], Online Copy

Invictus[14] by William Ernest Henley[13]

  Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare [15]

Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck [16]

Star Trek Opening Monologue [17]

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams [18]

Sundiver, Book 1 of the Uplift Saga by David Brin [19]

.Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut [20]

Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. [21]

Multiple Works by Kurt Vonnegut [24]

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn [25]

Kiss of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig[26]

Selection Process

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I am from Montgomery. It is hard to imagine a book that could describe the old south more beautifully. It isn’t all good. Most of the stereotypes are true but the memory of a child doesn’t see the bad.

  1. “Escape is such a thankful Word” by Emily Dickinson

I don’t always love Emily Dickinson’s poems, but I feel as if she has a deep understanding of what it is like to feel trapped by your life. Her legendary refusal to join society must have left her feeling locked in even if that is what she wanted.

  1. “A Book” by Emily Dickinson

I picked “Escape” first but then I remembered the poem “A Book.” It fits because it is exactly the way that I used books all my life. They are not just entertainment, but also a coping mechanism to deal with the stress of society.

  1. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I must have read these books a hundred times. I got in trouble for it in school. It is a happy escape.

  1. The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

This was my first book without many pictures.

  1. Over the Rainbow Lyrics by Yip Harburg Music by Harold Arlen

I had a music box that played this. The song is stronger in my memory than the associated film.

  1. Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

This was my brothers book.

  1. The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and Jacqueline Rogers

This book is very old. It belonged to my mother when she was little and she read it to me and my brother. When I started this project I knew that the message of the book would explain the way I felt about being kind of weird and not quite like my peers when I was a child.

  1. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

This is my favorite book. It isn’t my favorite because of content. I do enjoy the story, but the power of the book is in my memory of it.

I was young, maybe eight or nine years old. It was during the high heat of summer when the sun beat down so hard that it was a weight hammering down on your head, driving you into the ground, harder with each step. The grass was dry brown hay. It crackled under your feet. The water in the pond was tepid and smelled like day-old chicken noodle soup. The animals drooped and swayed and rolled in cool mud that dried into hard clay in only minutes. Time was still and life was in a state of rest and waiting. Except the fire ants, the fire ants rose out of the dry earth in dense rivers waiting to attack tender flesh like tiny bezerkers filled with a mighty rage.

There was nothing to do. I wandered from outside to in, as if “in” was any cooler than “out.” My Grandmother was asleep on the couch. The ladder to the attic was down. I had never been up there. It was the home of the giant attic fan that whirled so hard that I had serious thoughts that it might suck me in and chew me up. I knew I shouldn’t go up. My Grandmother would probably be upset. I seldom broke rules. I was obedient. But, she never said I couldn’t go up. I didn’t want to wake her. I rationalized. I considered. I checked to be sure she was still asleep. From boredom comes bravery. I climbed up the ladder and scrambled over the boards into a baking oven.

It was a maze of old boxes and tattered pink insulation. I crawled across the boards. My scabby knees were torn open and blood dripped down my leg. I couldn’t go back down. Somehow, I knew that once I was down I would never go up again. I inched my way towards a box in the back, where the ceiling sloped sharply. Roofing nails protruded down so that I had to watch my head or be scalped. Sweat trickled down my neck. I reached towards the box and pulled open the lid. It came free in my hand with no effort at all. It was rotted down to paper. A thick black square tumbled out and landed in front of me. It was covered in black cloth. I picked it up and dusted it off. It was an old book. The cover was made of cloth covered cardboard. The pages were bronzed with ancient glitz. The cover was bumpy, textured as if it had been carved out but painted with colors that must have been bright once upon a time. It was a picture of a man with a long beard and ratty hair. He was dressed in leather and standing on a small hill. All around him were bright tropical plants. On his shoulder was a vivid red parrot. The cover said, “Robinson Crusoe.”

I thought it was beautiful. It was a priceless relic. It must have been made by hand hundreds of years before. Each letter was so carefully drawn and beautifully sculpted that it simply could not be made by other than an artist’s skillful hand. It was not shiny or slick or new. It didn’t feel like plastic. It didn’t smell clean or fresh. I opened it very careful. The pages were so fragile that they nearly crumbled in my hand. Maybe they were white once, but they had long faded past yellow and into a soft umber tone. It was heavy and thick. The story would be long and I wanted to know what it said.

I listened intently, trying to hear under the growl of the attic find to know if my Grandmother was awake or not. I could take the book down, but if she was awake she would catch me. If I stayed in the attic, maybe I could read it there and she would never know. I crawled to the edge again and peeked down the ladder. The shadows were lengthening but it was still early. Grandmaw was asleep. I could read a little. I sneaked back to the corner again and I opened the book.

It was hot, but the air was balmy and soft  and tinged with salt water. I rocked and crashed and swayed as oceans crashed against me and tensed and cried as sand stung my eyes. I saw to an island and stood on a sanding hill, alone and afraid with nothing but my clothes an my will to live. I saw endlessly back and forth, through the wreck of a ship. I rescued a cat. I found a parrot. I built a home, first in a cave and then in a tree. I tamed goats. I grew grapes. I lived a life without any family or friends, without society.

The book took me over. The attic was gone. The itchy burning of the insulation and the sting of my skinned knees did not penetrate. I sweated until I was soaked. I needed to pee but I didn’t. I was hungry but I stayed. The impending wrath from my wrong-doing was as distant as England from Robin’s island. Nothing in the world mattered except that book. I stayed until the attic light dimmed and my eyes could not make out the words. Reality intruded. My Grandfather came home. My Grandmother started calling me. I scrambled down the ladder. I left the book behind. I wasn’t quite done. I thought I would sneak back to it later. My Grandmother saw me. Her reaction was anticlimactic. I got nothing more than, “what are you doing? Get ready for dinner.” I guess I was allowed in the attic after all.

my Grandmother must have gone up to finish whatever she was doing because later that night she brought the book down and asked me if I wanted it. It was so casual, so simple. I knew immediately that the book wasn’t special after all. She was thinking of throwing it out. I wanted it. She gave it to me. I finished reading it that night. I never quite got back to the perfect out-of-body feeling again. I guess knowing that it was allowed softened the intensity. I still loved it. Even if it was not quite the same, it was special. I held on to the idea that the book might not be much known. Some years later I found out that it was a famous book but don’t know if the truth about the book matters very much. Every time I read it, it feels like it belongs just to me. Every time I read it, I can feel that slippery feelings when reality and imagination get too wrapped together. I’ve read it many times. I don’t really even need to look at it much anymore. It lives in my mind.

  1. Indignation by Philip Roth

This is another powerful book. It is a story about a young boy who gets kicked out of school because he refuses to bow to the religious nonsense that is asked of him. Terrible things happen to him but none of it is his fault. He suffers because other people are small and stupid and weak. When I read it, I knew what he felt because I felt it to. It is bad enough to suffer for your own stupidity, but to suffer for someone else’s is unbearable.

  1. Beowulf, Lines 1-5. Translated by Raffel Burton

Grendel is a symbol of fear. He is the monster that we can’t see. He is the “other” that we fear because he is not part of human society.

  1. “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

A powerful statement. Maya Angelou talks about this poem in the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She explains how it helped her know her own strength. It did the same for me.

  1. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

I like this play. The selection says what I needed it to say in the correct context. The play itself is not as emotionally resonate as some other choices.

  1. Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck

I love this book. I had a giant poodle for a long time. I also drove all over the US. Someday I will do it again. I will build a bus and drive wherever I wish to go. This book reminds me of how much joy there is in just going.

  1. Star Trek Opening Monologue

I couldn’t leave this out because Star Trek really is one of my favorite things. I joke about it, but the truth is that I simply admire the fiction. It is a world predicated on the idea that humanity can be better than it is.

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This was a joke but it also contains truth. You have to read all the books to really understand why “42” is the answer. This is the way life works. Sometimes you don’t know the answer until you have already done the thing.

  1. Sundiver, Book 1 of the Uplift Saga by David Brin

This is a nice little selection of hard science fiction. It is a crazy world were species are gifted with intelligence by other species. The whole metaplot revolves around an argument that human beings are the only ones in the galaxy who earned their intelligence alone. This fits well with the ideas in Breakfast of Champions.

  1. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut is my favorite author. He had to be included. It fit to include him to explain what it is that made me teach high school.

  1. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

Pedro Paramo is a master work It is an amazing little book. It is only about 100 pages but each word is perfectly chosen. The exact quote that I used reminded me of my own feelings about the people in my life who died, most particularly about my brother. Sometimes I think that he is more alive in my memories than he was in life. I feel like I know him better now than I did before.

  1. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I wanted to include Solzhenitsyn because I admire his courage. He never gave up his ideals in a system where everything around him tried to crush them.

  1. Kiss of the Spiderwoman by Manuel Puig

This is such a beautiful book. It is unique in both style and story. The Spiderwoman weaves stories. What better symbol cold their be for what I want to do with art. I want to weave something into the world that matters.

 

Footnotes

[1] Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1988.

[2] “Emily Dickinson Archive.” Manuscript View for Amherst, Asc:16186 – P. 1. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.edickinson.org/editions/1/image_sets/240257.

[3] “Emily Dickinson Archive.” Manuscript View for Amherst, Asc:F1286-A to Asc:F1286D. 1. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.edickinson.org/editions/1/image_sets/239317.

[4] Wilder, Laura Ingalls, and Garth Williams. Little House on the Prairie. New York, NY: Harper & Bros., 1953.

[5] Lindgren, Astrid, Illustrated by Michael Chesworth. The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. New York: Viking, 1997.

[6] “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The Yip Harburg Foundation. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://yipharburg.com/.

[7] “Harold Arlen’s Music.” Official Harold Arlen Website. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.haroldarlen.com/.

[8] Williams, Marjorie. The Velveteen Rabbit. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1986.

[9] Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin, and Jacqueline Rogers. The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings. New York, NY: Platt & Munk, 1988.

[10] Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. London: J.M. Dent &, 1906.

[11] Roth, Philip. Indignation. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 2009.

[12] Anonymous. Beowulf. Translated by Burton Raffel. 1st ed. New York, NY: Signet Classics, 2008.

[13] “William Earnest Henley.” Bio.com. April 2014. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.biography.com/people/william-ernest-henley-9334890.

[14] Henley, William Earnest. “Invictus Poem.” Poemhunter.com. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/.

[15] Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1991.

[16] Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1986.

[17] “Star Trek.” StarTrek.com. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.startrek.com/.

[18] Adams, Douglas. The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. New York, NY: Del Rey, 2002.

[19] Brin, David. Sundiver. New York, NY, NY: Bantam Books, 1980.

[20] Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of Champions: Or, Goodbye Purple Monday! New York, NY: Dell, 1999.

[21] Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo. Translated by Margaret Sayers. Peden. New York, New York: Grove Press, 1994.

[22] Polk, James. “Thoughts After Death.” The New York Times. August 05, 1995. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/06/books/thoughts-after-death.html.

[23] “Juan Rulfo, a Novelist and Short Story Writer.” The New York Times. January 08, 1986. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/09/obituaries/juan-rulfo-a-novelist-and-short-story-writer.html.

[24] “”So It Goes”” Today in Literature. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.todayinliterature.com/print-today.asp?Event_Date=2/13/1944.

[25] Solzhenit︠s︡yn, Aleksandr Isaevich. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. New York, NY, NY: New American Library, 2009.

[26] Puig, Manuel. Kiss of the Spider Woman. Translated by Thomas Colchie. New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1991.

[27] “Kiss of the Spiderwoman.” IMDb. Accessed September 02, 2016. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089424/faq.

[28] “Kiss of the Spider Woman, Original Broadway Musical.” IBDB.com. Accessed September 02, 2016. https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-production/kiss-of-the-spider-woman-4568.