Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Red and the Black Notes 1

The Red and the Black begins by describing a small French village made prosperous because of a nail factory. Some of the themes of the novel are apparent in the description of the town. There is an “air of self-satisfaction…an impression of narrow-mindedness and lack of imagination” (18).

Next we meet Monsieur Renal, who typifies this description. He is the mayor of the town and owner of the nail factory. He’s obsessed with buying land in the town and putting up stone walls on his property to earn the respect of his neighbors. My opinion is that Stendhal’s purpose here is to bring up socialization as a theme. Everybody in this society is supposed to have a designated place and the “walls” symbolize the rigidness and lack of mobility and self-determination. Socialization is an important theme in mostbildungsromans but the theme here seems to be that socialization is being privileged over self-determination.

Monsieur Renal buys a piece of land from “old” Sorel, presumably a relative of Julien Sorel, the eventual protagonist of The Red and the Black. Next Stendhal equates public opinion with despotism. The inhabitants of the village must not be too original in the way they build their walls, or they will not be respected by their neighbors. In other words, the overly strong socialization impulse amounts to tyranny…Note in this more classical view, it is not just the state or ruler that can impose tyranny, but rather society itself can inflict despotism and limit self-determination.

Stendhal. The Red and the Black. Trans. by Lowell Blair. New York: Bantam Books, 1959.


Snow Notes Part I

These are my notes for Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow. They aren’t a formal argument or review, but I find Snow to be such a complex novel that I need to take fairly extensive notes.

Silence of Snow-this is the “feeling” or maybe the state of being described by the author when journeying to Kars from Istanbul. This is a metaphor for the journey continuing East from Europe, then Istanbul, then further East to Kars…So far it seems to be another world from “Europe” or even Istanbul…Though I imagine this distinction will be problematized as the novel progresses.

Ka’s German coat also provides some insight. It is described as causing shame and disquiet while paradoxically providing a sense of security…so Ka’s position as “Europeanized” is both shameful and disquieting and gives him a sense of security. Quiet a paradox, that seems to represent the “Europeanized” intellectual…Maybe this will also be problematized and deconstructed.

The feeling Ka describes by the silence of snow intensifies as he travels further East to Kars from Erzurum. Thus the metaphor of Ka’s predicament as “Europeanized” intensifies as he symbolically travels further East. Yet Ka doesn’t initially have this thought in his mind. For him it is a journey back to the “innocence” of the past…taking note that he is from Istanbul, but has to go symbolically further East to Kars for this journey back to the innocence of his past. The implication in Ka’s mind is that Istanbul has changed and lost its innocence as it became “Europeanized,” and Kars, in Ka’s mind, has not. This journey back to “Eastern, pre-Westernization innocence” is probably going to be deconstructed and problematized.

So really we have two things going on here. First is the predicament of the “westernized” intellectual in Turkey. Second is the journey back to a mythical (I assume) innocence of “pre-Westernization.” I anticipate that both will be deconstructed and problematized by Pamuk.

Orange Jello Salad

I’m not a fan of this jello salad, or any jello salad for that matter. I think they are abominations. But my family likes them, and this one in particular.

Orange Jello Salad

1 pt orange sherbert
1 large package orange jello
1 sm package orange jello
3 11oz cans mandarin oranges, drained and juice reserved
2 cups whipping cream, whipped 
3 cups boiling water
Dissolve jello in 3 cups boiling water. Melt sherbert in hot jello. Add in mandarin orange juice and oranges. Fold in whipping cream. Looks good in clear bowl. 
Rob likes a lot Thanksgiving 2011.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children promises an innovative approach using authentic vintage photography added to the narrative. The photos are interesting and creepy, but most of the time they do not really add anything innovative to the book. Don’t get me wrong, not every novel has to be innovative, but these photos are the gimmick that tries to spice up an otherwise bland novel.

The use of the photos in Miss Peregrine’s home calls to mind the use of photos in other recent novels, Water for Elephants being a good example. The difference between the two is that Water for elephants is a good novel even without them. Miss Peregrine’s Home promises paranormal mystery but does not deliver much. The mystery is pretty quickly solved and it isn’t very exciting.

Much of that can be explained with the fact that it’s probably the first installment in a series. A lot of time was taken introducing characters and the basic premise. Will I read a sequel?…I might. It may be worth giving another chance to the series, but as a stand alone novel it’s weak and the gimmick it relies on doesn’t work very well.

View all my reviews

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Here is a link to Ransom Rigg’s Website. I just reviewed her novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Here is a link …

The Mark Haddon Debate Continues!

You have a good point about it being an introducti­on into popular culture. Hopefully as people learn more about Asperger’s we’ll see more positive representa­tions in popular culture.

One thing I wonder about is Haddon’s role in putting the word Asperger’s on the cover because he doesn’t ever use it in the text. As you obviously know it’s not easy for unestablis­hed authors to get published. Could it have been added by the publisher for marketing purposes? I’m not familiar with the process of getting published yet (I’m still working on my first novel). I’m wondering what kind of artistic license an author has to let go of in order to get published.­..

The Mark Haddon…

Mark Haddon and Aspergers

I read this post about Mark Haddon’s The Incident Case of the Dog in the Night Time and commented on the Huffington Post. I thought I’d share the article and my comment on it.

There may be a whale in Moby Dick, but Moby Dick is not a book about all whales or even whales as a concept. Moby Dick is about good and evil. Similarly I doubt that Curious Incident is a book about autism, and its protagonis­t is not meant to represent all autistic children. I didn’t think Mark Haddon’s book was at all one of the best books recently written and I agree that it is sort of gimmicky, but I have a problem when people read a work of fiction with a certain type of character and say “oh I’m “X” too, but this doesn’t represent me,” or “character “X” does something stereotypi­cal and it offends me.” This is something I’ve seen a lot of recently with glbt representa­tions on TV. Does Kurt Hummel represent all gay teenagers and do the writers have a duty to always put him in a positive light? No of course not, he’s just a character in a teen drama.

I think the larger question we should be asking is what is Mark Haddon’s book really about? Therein lies the problem. I found Curious Incident to be unfocused. I wasn’t sure what the author wanted to get across. I think it’s much more productive to criticize Curious Incident from its failings as a piece of fiction than to criticize it for not depicting aspies correctly.

Mark Haddon and…

Thursday workout

Pushups – 3 sets of 10
medium bench press 3 sets of 10x115lbs
incline bench 3 sets of 10x125lbs
chest dips 3 sets of 5
cable crossover 2 sets of 10x 160lbs 1 set of 10x140lbs
cable overhead triceps extension 3 sets of 10x110lbs
triceps kickback 3x10x30lbs
biceps dumb bell curl 3 sets of 6x40lbs

Job Search To Do List

Apply at Sears – Done (cashier and loss prevention)
Apply at Kmart – Done
CSU Pueblo Interim Student Organization Coordinator
Check Parkview and St. Mary Corwin Hospitals…Again
Follow up library ciculation clerk II

Atlas Abdicated: Chapter 1

Atlas Abdicated: Chapter 1

“John Galt is an asshole.”

Eddie Willers could barely see the bum in the ebbing light. His face was hardly distinguishable. No expression marked the bum’s voice. Nothing. He said the words simply. But Eddie Willers could see the bum’s eyes. Those eyes mocked him. They intentionally addressed the uneasiness in Eddie’s mind.

“Why did you say that?” Eddie asked, his voice filled with nervous tension.

The bum leaned against an empty doorway, a broken pane of glass catching a glint of metallic sky behind him.

“Why does it bother you?” he asked.

“It doesn’t,” Eddie snapped. He was trying to hide the nervousness in his voice.

Eddie shoved his hand into his pocket, pulling out a dime and tossing it at the bum’s feet. Pleas for dimes were frequent these days. Eddie didn’t care to hear the bum’s story. They were all the same.

“Go get your cup of coffee,” he said, thankfully beginning to forget the bum’s face.

“I didn’t ask for your money. How about a real job with a fair wage?” The bum leaned forward from his doorway perch, steely eyes peering through Eddie over wire-rim glasses. The face was windblown, deep cuts of weariness and resignation ran across it.