Summative Entry

American Literature helps me to expand the boundaries of my own experience.

Beyond contemporary life, where we sit amongst endless technology, devices, distraction and lack of humane interaction, is an alternate one, one fuelled by emotion, experience and passion. It sits within the words written by renowned American writers. American Literature has been shaped by a multitude of national events. Not only have these emotions moved the people of the time, but aid in the reevaluation of my own experience.

The study Native American Literature allowed me to view nature from an alternator perspective. Having been familiar with colonial settlement within Australian, I drew upon the same empathy to relate to the experience of the Native American Indians in America. With similarities found in the work of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, to Native American writers such as Zitkala Ša -Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, despite the disparity in their background, the message of nature and spiritual nourishment is profound in all works. What Dickinson taught me was that spirit, the Church, all things Divine or heavenly, can be found wherever you find them. This notion was also seen within the Transcendental ideology.

Transcendentalism was perhaps the highlight of the unit for me. With its powerful philosophy, it has infiltrated my life through the works of Emerson, Thoureu, and perhaps, most powerfully Walt Whitman. Whitman’s attitude towards religion allowed to expand the boundaries of my own experience. In his attitude toward the Church, viewing ‘Faith’ as a ‘fine invention’ has urged me to ‘unscrew the locks’, to remove the confinements of the instilled rules of religion, and view spirituality as an omnipresent entity. His celebration of the self has allowed me to reevaluate my insecurities and rather than shun what I dislike, but to embrace them. His words: ‘“Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and / clean / Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar / than the rest”, within part 3 of Song of Myself, was a personally powerful reading that has changed my attitude toward myself. I am grateful for that.

Another person also inspired by the work of Whitman, was Robert Frost. As I have struggled myself with finding the right path in life, whether it be choosing a degree, choosing a career, and am still struggling with answering those questions, Robert Frost provided a poetic answer to those by providing an empathetic response to this challenge individuals, myself included, face when navigating their lives. In his relatable, quotidian style of writing, free from pretentiousness, his writing gave a sense of compassion to the everyday reader. His endeavours to capture the ineffable were inspiring. This American poet reminded me why I loved poetry as a primary school student, a high school student, a tertiary student, but moreover, as a person. His belief on poetry, that “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom…it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life,” mirrors my own. This clarification is achieved by the multiple possibilities of interpretation that poetry allows for an audience. One person never interprets a poem exactly the same. This has broadened my writing experience, not only in this unit, but others as well.

Poetry and I have an amicable relationship. T.S Eliot, who I met in high school and whose writing I was extremely fond of, was able to expand within this unit. American Literature produced extremely moving works from modern poets. Eliot’s poetry captured life after the war with The Waste Land, impeccably, but moreover, he captures the essence of human experience. His poems’ fragmentary nature help to picture the fragmented nature of humans. Taking this into my own experience, I am able to identify with the schisms of my self and have Eliot to thank for that. The modernists, in their writing, have critiqued modernism itself; industrialisation, consumerism, materialism. These issues have not been wavered, and are present in the contemporary world today. They have consumed humanity and replaced it with a functioning human replica, devoid of soil.

William Faulkner, in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, aims to recapture humanity. Faulkner reminds us of the importance of both unpleasant and pleasant emotion, and the power it has in writing. So often the world, my world, focus on the material or economic gain, rather than spiritual gain. Faulkner instigated my own meditation on my motivations for what I want in life; were they materialistic? Were they selfish? Was I doing it for my own heart?

The power of American Literature is undeniable. The works of renewed authors have protruded into my existence and probed at every experience. They have urged considerations and reconsiderations of my own livelihood, allowing a greater appreciation of nature, spirituality and human experience.

Examples of blog posts that demonstrate how much American Literature has expanded my experience are linked below:

Best creative: https://vzengl200.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/blog-week-6-creative/

Best critical: https://vzengl200.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/blog-week-4/

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Week 11 Blog, Faulkner Continued

CRITICAL: How do you understand Faulkner’s extraordinary statement in his Nobel Prize speech “the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat” ?

William Faulkner exposes the danger of many writers; the ‘lust’ of it, rather than the love of writing. The essential notion that Faulker puts forward in his Nobel Prize speech is the immortality of the human condition. This can be evidenced today: the long lasting classics that feature in the classroom, or on the bookshelf in your home library, are the one’s that innately capture what is is to be human. Humanity is not circumstantial. It is not dependent on external events, monitory value or commodity. It is the inner self. It is love, feeling and emotion. It is pain, hardship and guilt. Faulker acknowledges this drift, the loss of connection to the soul. Worldly devastation and preoccupation has society fearing for the world, rather than the self. He states “There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up?” 

There is an admirable statement within Faulkner’s Nobel Prize speech that highlights the writer’s ability to manipulate the emotions of the reader:

‘The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.’

Faulkner acknowledges the power of writing. To write about emotion is to teach emotion, to remind the reader of the importance, perhaps even the existence of emotion. To remind them the eternal power of the human. For, as Faulkner says, the human is immortal.

Peer Review, Week 10

Daniel, a great blog post! I admire the time taken to ensure each line was similar in syllable count and rhythmic pattern. I like how you highlight the dangers of each road, particularly in the concluding line “For either choice made, I shall be damned.” I think the first line needs some consideration “Two roads diverged in a yellow road.” Another word for road, perhaps, “Two paths’?

Otherwise, a good poem!

Link to blog post: https://ddavid1818.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/literature-journal-blog-6-4/comment-page-1/#comment-100

Week 10, Creative

CREATIVE: Using any one of Faulkner’s 15 character voices as a guide, create a paragraph in the voice of a character totally different to yourself. Think about people you might have overheard on the train or bus or someone you might have seen randomly on a street corner. Invent their life, their consciousness in a paragraph. Who knows it might become the start of a larger work!

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Note: This is insipired from an occurrence that happened on a Wednesday morning on my way into university. 

 

Wednesday Morning

“Tickets! Checking tickets. Get your Opal and concession cards ready, please!”

The transit officer belched from the back of the carriage, with much more authority than necessary. You’re not a cop mate, relax. The girl in front of me reacted instantaneously; Opal with according concession card at the ready. Goody-goody, that one is. People’s sleep are disrupted as they rummage through wallets, fiddle with their head phones, have mini panic attacks in fear of the $200 fine they’ll receive if they can’t produce this paramount piece of plastic that proves you paid your $4.50 fare.

“Hey mate, can I see your Opal card?” There were two officers who stood over me, utilising their superior standing position over the seated passengers as a power trip. One stood behind, silent, but I feel he washarsh.

“Sorry, I don’t have it. I lost my wallet last night and it was in there.”

“What’s your name?”

“Alex. Alex Debney.”

“You know its a crime to provide a false identity.”

“That’s my name.”

“Any proof of identification?”

“Nah mate, I told you, I lost my wallet.”

The officer was stumped. He paused, then continued to read the laws and regulations regarding Opal cards.

“What station are you getting off at?”

“Granville.”

“Alright, we’ll meet you at Granville and discuss this further.”

They left the carriage. I called dad.

“Hey Cameron, why are you bloody calling me this early? What have you bloody done now?”

“Didn’t tap on this morning for the train, so didn’t give ‘em my Opal card. They said they’re going to fine me at Granville.”

“You can’t afford any more fines! You can’t get involved with the jail anymore, mate! Anything else, you’re out. Can’t take it anymore, mate. I’m sick of this.”

His voice was becoming raised and I could see the girl in front of me trying to turn to listen. Bloody goody-goody. Mind your own damn business.

Over the speaker, I could hear the stops being listed: Next station Fairfield, then Yennora, Guildford, Merrylands, Granville…

They can’t take me back to jail. It’s a fine, but I can’t afford the fine. With my record, they’d probably think it’s easier just to shove me away. Why couldn’t they let a poor bloke go? He lost his wallet, probably had to cancel his cards, apply for a new license, risk identify theft and a potential shopping spree from whoever found his cards, draining his bank account. Poor bloke and they couldn’t let him off for not having his Opal card? Without which how is he going to get to work? No paper tickets. Doesn’t have a license to drive. I thought it was a pretty damn good lie, to be honest.

I could see the transit officers in the carriage after us through the windows. As the doors opened on Fairfield station, the officers didn’t take notice. Their minds were on fining the next poor bloke. I quickly got up, and just before the doors closed, bolted through.

What am I going to do in bloody Fairfield?

Peer Review, Week 9

Natalie, I enjoyed your confronting address to Mr. Baldwin. your acknowledgement of the juxtaposition between inward and outward feeling was great! Thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts on the piece. Having read this piece myself as well, I found it compelling in its confrontational elements. I feel he captured the essence of societal conformation and the injustice faced by ‘black’ society. Just a correction: should be ‘your’ not ‘you’re’ in the first paragraph.

Link to post: https://natalie4820.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/dear-mr-baldwin/

Week 9 Blog, Creative

5/ Try to write either a William Carlos Williams, an Ezra Pound or an e.e.cummings poem using your own subject matter but sticking to their language and form. As a starting point you might try either “The Red Wheelbarrow” (309), or “In a Station of the Metro” (318) or e.e.cummings “in Just-” (638))

Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”, reads:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

Short in length, powerful in language, I am to do the same by adopting the minimalist imagism style. I wanted to take an evening of going to dinner, my ideal restaurant scene, and depict it by capturing the elements that make it so idyllic.

“An Ideal Evening”

Sand hour-glass running slowly, the conversation dances to the flames;

Auburn night, smooth taste, cadence turning, slow.

Week 8 Blog

1/ Write a paragraph that says succinctly which of the two Roberts you preferred and for what reasons.

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Whilst both Robert Frost and Robert Lowell are incredible writers, with incredible talents for the construction of poetry, it is Robert Frost who I gravitate more heavily towards. Frost’s writing is extremely entertaining to read, particularly owing to the song-like rhythmic effect of his poems, that mimic the pattern of music. Frost adopts an unpretentious, quotidian style with his approachable word choice, which encourages a broad spectrum of readers. In his work, whilst deceptively simple, he is extremely ambiguous, adding to the cleverness of his construction. Often, he alludes to the ineffable: the things beyond descriptions, the indescribable. It is his description of the ineffable, that transports readers to the edge of silence; a spiritual place, not God, but a place of renewed understanding, that brings an alternate interpretation of reality. It is Frost’s attempt to discover something nourishing and nurturing within reality. The greatness of Frost, is his ability to address both the ineffable, something beyond words, and his ability to capture the everyday human experience, extraordinarily. In this way Frost celebrates the ordinary life and celebrates the extraordinary notion of what life and living is. His appreciation of the (some would call) ‘mundane’, things, life, nature, squabbles amongst friends and family, is what aligns his work with the Transcendentalists. Something poignant, that captured my interest in Frost whole-heartedly, was his belief that “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom…it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life.” “The Figure a Poem Makes” (250-251). This sentiment runs true for so many of the poems I have enjoyed and is the reason I love the form so much. Ambiguous in its nature, poems bestow a rhyming quality that enchants you whilst you read, whilst adopting your own, personalised meaning to the poem. Therefore, upon reading, you are entertained. Upon leaving, you have circumnavigated your brain, leaving with a greater clarification of your own life. Poetry allows for individual interpretation, and thus, gives everyone opportunity to gain clarity within their own lives.

It is for the above reasons, that I prefer the work of Robert Frost.

Image from: https://williambertrand.fr/robert-frost-poems/

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