On contexts and youth

I very quickly settled on Dana: An Irish Magazine of Independent Thought as my magazine of choice, primarily because I have a particular fondness for the Irish historical and literary tradition, and because it was very stripped down to literary material and the advertisement of additional literary material. The work I picked was in the fourth volume, a poem by James Joyce that was simply titled "Song" (124). This is a pretty little piece I have seen before in various settings, but which has never stood out in particular. It is a very nice poem, but taking the context into consideration made it something more than that.

"Song" is located on an even-numbered page, which in the usual pagination puts it on the left side, directly across from "Literary Notices," by F. M. Atkinson, and directly following William Buckley's "King Diarmuid." In fact, the poem appears on the same page where "King Diarmuid" ends, effectively attaching it to the story like a footnote or a related quote. "King Diarmuid" is the story of a king and hero who meets his doom at the hands of a woman; however, at the last, she takes pity on him and allows him at least to die rather than persist miserably. With this prelude, then "Song" takes on a decidedly less innocent, lighthearted air. Rather than the pleasant praise of a young lover for his lady, it is lonelier, spoken from afar, spoken as a loss and not as a gain.

The "Literary Notices" following the poem seem a little less related and impactful; however, there was one fragment of this section which resonated for me. The first item of notice is a Mr. Swinburne's collected works, the first volume of which has just been released. Swinburne's youth is considered with great delight, and it brings to mind Joyce's own youth at the time of this publication. Atkinson romanticizes the idea of "what I have written I have written," suggesting that a young man's work is no less valid because he was young, that it provides insight into his growth as a writer. The commentary reminded me, as a reader, that even the great James Joyce was at this time a young writer, still getting started. In some ways, it halts my incessant need to read into his poem and urges me to consider its charm, its love for antiquity and its traditions of courtly love (antiquity is another idea discussed with respect to the young Swinburne) which, in many upper-level classes, might otherwise be somewhat brushed over.

Reflecting the past

I am not sure I got this right so please forgive me if not.

 I chose to look at the Dana magazine on the site vol. 2 no. 7. I found that it was related to the turmoil of Ireland. Especially the Protestants vs. The Catholics and the fact that it was in 1904 means the Easter Rising of 1916 did not occur yet. So it was interesting to read the feelings of the Irish before a huge event would occur in their history, probably one of the biggest aside from the Great Famine. There was a variety of articles, letters, poems and other forms of literature to convey how the Irish were feeling at the time. So the magazine’s issue reflects the past of the Irish as they were feeling about their situation in religious and national aspects.

The different forms of text in the issue relates to how strongly the Irish were feeling at the time. Their poems, articles and letters reflect their sense of emotion during a time of conflict that was escalating to the point of the Easter Rising of 1916. So it can be seen that the magazine’s reflection of the past shows the discord that was going on for Ireland at the time of its publication. So therefore the item alone is trying to represent Ireland and what is going on through the country religiously, publicly and nationally. It then reflects the past by gathering all the said items of text that it posesses and it uses it in it's publication to express those feelings of the time. Giving a sense of what the people were thinking though these trying times where the nation was shaking at it's core. I find it interesting this occued before the Easter Rising of 1916 because that means that these occurances are feelings from before that would greatly intensify afterward. Yet the feelings shown in the publication almost seem as greatly intensified even then as it would after the Easter Rising. 

Stolen Time Archive

 When I first looked at this archive I was frustrated because I didn't really know what I was looking at or what I was looking for. I re-visited the archive this morning and after clicking through different links I finally found some things of interest. I don't believe the archive is set up very well, but once a person figures out how the archive actually works it is quite interesting. 

My favorite part of the archive was the "Launch Project" link. It was very interactive and brings an interesting experience to the reader. After discovering that, I found that I could go into other editorials and launch other projects throughout the archive. The archive becomes more than written pieces of information or history. There is a lot more to this archive than what it appears to be when a visitor first comes upon it. 

By interacting with this archive I believe it helps and encourages the reader to understand the information better and want to read more. This archive is an example of some of the things we talked about on Monday-Discourse and Disciplinarity. There is so much involved in this archive. It is quite fascinating.

On the resistance of the archive to interpretation

I've found the Stolen Time article rather interesting, but extremely confusing. I honestly am not quite sure what it is archiving or what I am looking for when I look through it—where, when reading the Blake or Rossetti archives, I was able to start out just with the aim of familiarizing myself with their work, I feel I am missing something fundamental about this archive.

It took me a good two hours to actually figure out how to open the archive—I was wading through authors' notes and editors' notes of all kinds, analysis of the archive as a whole, and other related writings on the website before I even found the link to launch the actual project. I get the overall idea that it is something of a cross between office work, "stolen time" (that is, using the time you are getting paid for to do your own personal business), play, and organization/archiving. To be completely honest, though, I can't really get beyond a very surface level of observation with Stolen Time.

The way the archive mimics an office working environment in many ways is quite interesting to me—the clock in, clock out, the folders, the timestamp in the corner. There's this profound confusion about whether you're really doing anything worthwhile, about whether you're actually working towards something that can be called "work" or just browsing… like one generally does on the internet. It's definitely making work to eke any information out of it, and I look forward to finding out what the class has to say (both in terms of commentary and in terms of how to work it, period!).

The Waste Land as an Archive

First of all, I was completely distracted throughout my reading of Foucault by how he stole his argument from the Reading Rainbow reel:


Back to the matter at hand, I was intrigued by a few morsels of information I retained from the assigned texts. Foucault's observation that Floubert's The Temptation "opens a domain in depth," (Foucault 105) laconically describes the significance of the archive.  Certainly, Eliot's "The Waste Land" serves multiple roles (if not simply individual pleasure), including this capacity as an archive to past intellectualism and dialogue.  As the Quotations and Allusions group from our wiki project found, Eliot collected fragments of canonical texts to express old thoughts in a modern, erudite way.  Voss and Werner describe the archive as now being an "ex-static" property, thanks to the digitization of prior information, where "the material becomes immaterial" (ii).  We have seen how this shift of preservational theory opens new possibilities for understanding and analyzing a text, yet Voss and Werner are not replete to acknowledge the importance of material evidence (as found by Elizabeth and I during our investigation of the original magazine appearances of "The Waste Land.")

Studying literature that serves an archival function is interesting, yet I sometimes question whether our analyses take the intention of the author out of his or her context; our resources are so amplified and complex that there may be some danger of ascribing anachronistic hypotheses that distract from the purpose of a text.

Waiting for a corpse to sprout

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout?  Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!

Waiting for a corpse to sprout.  The image is an eerie one, but also extremely tragic, carrying with it the connotation of bereaved family members who have watched their young sons and brothers bloom and then die, cut off at their prime.  As a gardener returns often to the spot where he has buried a seed, so a mourner returns often to the burial site of his or her loved one.  There is that sense of not quite letting go, that inability to move on.  Instead, a sick, twisted need remains to return to that place of heartache, as though it would be sacrilegious and petty to forget and escape from it.  

The passage is almost mocking as it queries "Grown anything yet?  I would've thought that with your dedication to that 'seed,' you'd have more to show for it!"  On one hand, there is a desire for change, for something to happen, for life to be given back, for the corpse to sprout and bloom.  Yet at the same time, there is a parallel image of it reemerging from the ground not in bloom but as the unearthed remains that comprise a dog's meal.  There is the tension between a desire to try and restore what was lost and a realization that it is probably better to leave well enough alone.  

I find this much more powerful than a simple expression of sadness and regret.  Rather, the reader is almost implicated for daring to suggest that things be reversed—or perhaps for daring to suggest that moving on is the best course of action.  He is forced to wrestle with the guilt of either side, really drawn into the conflict and the shattering of death and loss.  

The Waste Land

 What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow at morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

(Lines 19-30)


In these lines she is remembering the past. The trenches of the war and the rubbish it has become. She is speaking to someone, but no one is really there listening. She is stuck in this moment from the past, but cannot see the picture clearly, only images. She sounds like she is experiencing PTSD- Post traumatic stress disorder. She could be depressed and scared and wants someone to talk to and share her past. The red refers to the blood and the death of the war. The shadows that were present and that haunt her still all these years later. The last line is both drawing the reader in and pushing the reader away. She says come and let me share with you all the horrors and fears and sadness. She does not want to be alone in her memories.  The line with the cricket is the memory of silence. Even the silence is deadly. These lines remind me of loneliness and loss. There is no cheerfulness in these memories of the past. 

I read this poem last semester, but now that I read it again I feel like I am seeing more in this poem then I saw before. I keep referring to "her" because of the lines in Latin before the poem begins. The lines translate to "I have seen with my own eyes the Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her "What do you want?" She answered "I want to die." So from the very beginning there is loneliness and sadness and regret. It feels like all of the negative feelings are thrown together in one person's mind and she can't handle it. She is lost in a world of her own with no way out of a past she cannot change nor control. These lines in the poem are very dark to me. 

Blog #2

 My experiences with my major started out with lots of reading and writing. Recently my experience has grown throught the use of technology. I never really cared much for technology, but recently my interests have grown. Technology is also becoming more world wide and the tool that people seem to prefer. Now I am simply following everyone else and learning to adapt with the changes. Only recently has the use of technology become of interest to me. I much prefer the literature side of english. I have done plenty of research when it comes to writing papers, but any research on my own I have not really started. I have used technology in many different ways. I have used programs like Wordle and Prezi to present projects and I have realized that there are a lot of different ways to look at literature through technology. English is not just about reading words on a page and deriving meaning from them. I am begining to learn that english can be changed into different forms of technology like video games. Many video games have a story and in order to finish the story you must finish the game. The more technology progresses the more I use it to think in new ways. The simplist form of technology that I use or rather many use is changing the way we write papers. Papers are not written by hand and turned in through chicken scratch anymore, rather we use programs like "Word" to write papers on the computer where writing is faster, easier to correct and far easier to read. The internet is also a great tool for pretty much anything. Why take all the time that is needed to go somewhere when all a person needs to do is Google it. Technology has become more a way of life than I am sure anyone believed it could be. My favorite creation so far is the e-reader. I can access books much faster and and download them in seconds instead of going to the bookstore or a library. 

Technology, Publication, Discourse, and Information

My experiences with English have been quite limited and quite recent, as I come from a primarily ENS background due to family pressures.  Since changing over to English last year, though, I have been extremely excited about the ability of literature to explore and convey the human experience and identity.  It's only recently, though, that I've begun to have much of a focus within that broad field.

I've been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and while I continue to read obsessively, I have also had a long-standing fascination with newer forms of media and their ability to expound on the experience and communication that the written word offers, especially in the area of storytelling.  As a creative writer, I take a keen interest the ability of one medium or another to tell a story, whether oughtright or implied, general and theme-oriented or intensely detailed.  Video games in particular have captured my attention over the past year; while I play video games only as time permits and very poorly, I have always loved the potential of certain games to evoke a sense of deeper stories behind even the primary storyline.  I gravitate towards story-heavy games, as this is my primary motivation to care at all about the objective of a game, but I have also been interested in some smaller independent games that do not necessarily offer a strong storyline, but instead bring up new ideas, new ways of thinking, new philosophies, and new types of experience.

Aside from the video games/interactive storytelling aspect of technology, I am also extremely excited about the role of the internet in literary (and all other forms of) discourse.  Having started out my internet experience in a book-discussion forum and moved from there into roleplaying and text-based games before discovering the enormous cyberworld that I know today, I love the sheer speed and volume of discussion and joint theorizing that occurs online.  Contrasted with the Age of Enlightenment, when we had maybe a hundred or so great thinkers publishing enormous books and essays at a rate they thought revolutionary (printing press!), the present day struggles with information overload!  I've done a bit of my own discussion on books, movies, games, and even webcomics and been fascinated by the number of people who devote honest time and critical thought to comments on blogs.  Where writing used to be something that needed to be a career in order to have the leisure to devote to scholarly discourse, it has become something amazingly available to the everyday person.  Yes, there are a lot of trolls on the internet, but the number of honest thinkers from all walks of life is just staggering.

Lastly, I have been keeping an eye on the impact of technology and the internet on publication.  The sheer ease of publishing stories, essays, games, videos—anything—on the internet has given rise to both problems and enormous potential.  Video games have a chance to reinvent themselves as the backing of huge gaming companies is not necessary for publication, and artists in that field have the chance to explore newer approaches to interactive media.  Visual art has become much, much more accessible due to sites like DeviantArt that have brought it all out of high-class galleries and into the eyes and criticism of the everyday public, which has in turn affected what we now think of as "art."  

I digress.  I think my point was that I am extremely excited about the role and potential of technology for not only literature but communications media and storytelling as a whole.