Goals for February: results

Goal one, draw foxes: qualified success.  I drew some okay ones and some honestly good ones.  I did work that I can be proud of.

Goal two, do it every day:  colossal failure.  Stopped after the second week.  I could have made time for it, but I didn’t.  I have only myself to blame.

Goal three, spend a month meatless: total victory.  ‘Course now the month is over and I’m back to eating chunks of dead animal.  I got some real serious cravings for meat, but as long as I had enough vegetables I could get a satisfying meal.  Problem was I would always have to prepare it myself.  But I got through it and now I’m sort of wondering why I don’t keep it up.  I would really like to.  I’d also like to go completely bovine-free, which apart from the occasional squirt of honey would make my diet technically vegan.  I’m tempted to blame a lack of support, but I just proved I can muddle my way through.  I’m not entirely sure what to do next.  I could eat meat just when my family cooks, then no other times.  I’ll have to decide it later.

Today I turned in my paper on the Awakening by Kate Chopin, and I asked whether I could write my second paper about Song of Solomon.  She asked why, and I told her I could understand Toni Morrison better and I could relate to her writing.  She said I could do it!  😀

I did not mention that I think Morrison is qualitatively better than Edith Wharton.  I was so disturbed by Wharton’s acclaim that I had to get a copy of Strunk and White to make sure that I wasn’t crazy; to be sure, Wharton is praised for her “insider perspective” on the upper classes and her sense of humor.  I don’t recall seeing any love for her prose, but I may have blocked out that memory.

I did read some hilarious sentences in House of Mirth, but it’s impossible to be sure any of it was intentional.  One gem in particular: “She found the country lonely, and trees wet, and cherished a vague fear of meeting a bull.”  I mean, I laughed, but I didn’t want to keep reading. Let’s look at this grammatically.  “She found the country lonely and trees wet.”  Some words missing there, which are important for meaning.  We can suppose that she is distributing the verb “to find” over both noun phrases, which is certainly allowed, and is a normal way of expressing opinion in Victorian literature.  But which trees?  The trees?  A definite article would imply the trees of the country mentioned in the previous clause.  But perhaps it is just some trees, not necessarily those in the region mentioned.  Or maybe trees in general strike her as damp, regardless of where they are.  Of course logic would dictate that she is trying to distribute the definite article across both phrases along with the verb, but you have to read the sentence at least twice before that’s clear.

Now let’s talk about the wetness.  Consider a modern sentence “In my opinion this glass is full of water.”  Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  And it doesn’t sound as if you are satirizing anything; it just sounds as if you don’t know how to speak English.  As for her vague fear of meeting a bull, it’s humorous, maybe intentionally, but there’s just so much crap to sift through that I don’t even care which.

Wharton consistently violates Strunk, ch II, rules 15-18, and rule seventeen is punished with particular glee.  I don’t care to analyse which word or which comparison or which reference is important, because it seems that hardly any of them are.  It’s as if she’s writing purely for length.

House of Mirth has about as poor a grasp of English composition as Lattimore’s translation of the Iliad, only Lattimore has Homer as his source material as well as the excuse that the original he is working from is in Greek.

Toni Morrison writes clearly and plainly and every word she uses belongs on the page.  We don’t have reams of backstory for characters whose backstory doesn’t matter.

Let’s see, what else have I been doing?  Oh yeah, voted in the primary.  Hooray, civic duty.  Whatever.

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