Thursday, December 31, 2015

Scorched Amalgamation Shout Out

On my other blog, I just posted a review of my year of reading. My 2015 reading review. I didn't post it here because I didn't feel like it was literary enough, but because it is about books, and a lot of readers of this blog enjoy reading books, I figured I would post a link to it.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Another Hiatus

mrbarbaricyawp will be taking another break. Finals Week has hit our school and then after that we will go on Winter Break. Enjoy this time with your family and we will see you back in 2016.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

McCarthy's Use of the Complex Sentence

Still reading The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy. Got into part two and my reading just really slowed down. It's not that it isn't interesting, just that there is a ton to process. Here is a quote from part 2, page 129:
"They rode the high country for weeks and they grew thin and gaunted man and horse and the horse grazed on the sparse winter grass in the mountains and gnawed the lichens from the rock and the boy shot trout with his arrows where they stood above their shadows on the cold stone floors of the pools and he ate them and ate green nopal and then on a windy day traversing a high saddle in the mountains a hawk passed before the sun and its shadow ran so quick in the grass before them that it caused the horse to shy and the boy looked up where the bird turned high above them and he took the bow from his shoulder and nocked and loosed an arrow and watched it rise with the wind rattling the fletching slotted into the cane and watched it turning and arcing and the hawk wheeling and then flaring suddenly with the arrow locked in its pale breast."
If you have ever read McCarthy (or Faulkner, or Morrison for that matter) you know that he likes the long sentence. Part of his style. In this case I believe that McCarthy is using this to suggest that time is passing, but it seems that all of time is sloughing into itself. You cannot really tell when things are happening; it seems that it is all happening at once. All at one time. His use of the conjunction "and" accomplishes this task. The sentence isn't incorrect, just very long and drawn out. It helps the reader to feel the exhausting nature of this journey. And this happened, and this happened, and this happened. I don't think that most writers should use this style. This is reserved for those masters who are allowed to break the rules.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Explain: Wolves by Joe Wilkins

I have to admit it: I am a Joe Wilkins fanboy. My first exposure to Wilkins was in The Sun where his wonderfully beautiful essay, You, All of You, appeared. I've loved his writing since then and whenever I see something published by Wilkins I just have to devour it. So, I knew I would be blogging about this newest poem from Wilkins that just got published today on the Linebreak website. This poem is also interesting from the standpoint of the other things I have been reading. There has been a lot of wolves in my read as of late. Anyway, on to the poem.


Explain: Wolves

OR-7, also known as Journey, is the first confirmed wolf in western Oregon since 1947, and the first in California since 1924. Since the wolf left his pack in September 2011, he has wandered more than 1,000 miles […] through Oregon and Northern California.
The wandering wolf OR-7 appears to have a mate.
–The Oregonian, May 12, 2014
She wanders heavy-bellied, full of milk & knives.
Lowers the barrel of her body like this, forepaws soft & sure as motherwings against the infant earth.
When finally she takes flight, she falls to gnashing the neckmeat of deer, one last upwelling of arterial blood the very blush of certain bodies in the near heavens.
When mountains gather their snap & shatter, when down comes the wind & winterlong, even wolfbones leak their autumn grease, wolfeyes go lonesome & sallow, & for warmth every wolf snouts the yeasting fleshpockets of those they run with & love.
I’m telling you capped & nightgowned like that the story is not the wolf’s but ours, our fear not of being devoured but blinded, lied to, made complicit in our own undoing.
The images in the poem are strange and beautiful.

  • "She wanders heavy-bellied, full of milk & knives." The odd part of this image is the knives. Her belly is full of a wolf pup(s), but metaphorically Wilkins is calling the pups knives. These unborn pups will grow up to become wolves: dangerous animals. Knives helps us to see the wolf pup's potential.
  • "When mountains gather their snap & shatter, when down comes the wind & winterlong, even / wolfbones leak their autumn grease." When I was listening to the reading of this poem that phrase, "wolfbones leak their autumn grease," made me stop in shock. What an interesting image. When winter comes even the wolves lose some of themselves, in the struggle to stay alive during those tough months.
Then the poem has it's poetic turn, in the fifth stanza. "I'm telling you capped & nightgowned like that the story is not the wolf's but ours, our fear not of / being devoured but blinded, lied to, made complicit in our own undoing." Yes this poem is about wolves, but it is also about that animalistic nature inside each of us. We are the wolves.

Joe Wilkins does it again people! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Last Our Town Post

I don't want to belabor Our Town. Like I said in my review, I really do think that this is just an average play with some good lines and an semi-interesting theme. It is uplifting though, which doesn't happen often in classical literature. We love talking about death, depression, and not getting the girl in AP Lit. But there are some wonderful, poignant lines in Act III.
"Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you."
"Do any human beings every realize life while they live it?--every, every minute?"
The Stage Manager's answer to these questions is no. Humans do not realize how wonderful life is. Simon Stimson seems to agree later on the next page. But them Mrs. Gibbs provides the counter-voice.

And I think that I agree with Mrs. Gibbs. There are times in our lives when we do realize how wonderful earth and life is. That might be a moment when your first child is born. Or perhaps when a second child is born. Or perhaps when you marry your best friend in the world entire (as Cormac McCarthy would phrase it). Maybe when you read something and it touches you to the very core. But maybe it can be something as simple as looking at an old photograph, posing for a new photograph, reminiscing about the 80's with your Mother on Thanksgiving, or hanging out with those people who you love. I think that Wilder just wants us to have one of those moments while reading or watching his play. He wants us to stop and realize that life is wonderful..."every, every minute."

I do find it interesting though that as I was reading this play my favorite youtubers put out the following two videos about uncontrolled excitement, which I believe is connected to all of this. Sometimes the vlogbrothers are heady and seem to like to push their brand of nerdom on the rest of us. But other times they really have something interesting to say. These two videos give us some amazing analysis of these ideas. Watch them both!

 And then we get this wonderful line from John Green:
 "Okay, so I would argue that you are both never and always truly alone." 
And sometimes you have to just stop and be thankful for the genius that is John Green and how he can, in one simple sentence, encapsulate everything that I feel when the sky is grey and clouded over, and my feet are freezing, and I just feel yucky inside.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Review of Our Town, by Thornton Wilder

Our TownOur Town by Thornton Wilder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Yes, now you know. Now you know! That's what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those...of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at th mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know--that's the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness."

Just finished Thornton Wilder's Our Town. I had never read the play before and I have been preparing it for my AP Literature and Composition students. This play will become their reading over Christmas break. I will say that I enjoy this play better than the old play we used to assign which was The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, which I felt didn't offer much in the way of literary interpretation. Our Town certainly does a better job of offering students something to discuss and interpret, but overall I felt that it was simplistic and heavy handed.

I mean I get the message, I understand the theme that Wilder is trying to put down. And it is a good theme, but at times (especially during the third act) I felt like Wilder was stuffing it down my throat.

I mean what else can I say. It was an average play about an average group of people, living in an average town.

But, like I said, I think it will serve well for a Christmas break reading assignment.

View all my reviews