Archive for November, 2014

November 24, 2014

Questions/ Notes “Signifying Nothing” [David Foster Wallace]

–TITLE (Why the title?). (1) The narrator an “idiot” who tells a meaningless story? (does the story otherwise suggest Macbeth?) (2) The story does signify something, but about signifying nothing; for example — how treating exceptionally weird outlying events as if they were nothing is a successful strategy for coping with such events (the story concludes— “it was good”.) (3) The story may signify something but the characters themselves do not: they don’t openly express what they’re thinking or feeling. (“His face had zero expression” = his face signifies nothing.)

Plot/ structure. Four Scenes: (I) the protagonist is a young man packing to leave home for the first time when he has a memory of an incredible event from his childhood; (II) in the moving van with his father, in transit to his first living on his own situation, he discloses this memory to his father and becomes enraged at his father’s response; (III) this rage continues for a year during which (living away from home) he doesn’t speak to his parents; (IV) he reconciles with his parents during a dinner at an Italian restaurant.

Time. The narrator (21) is telling of an event that occurred “two years ago”, when he was 19. The event he remembered when he was 19 occurred when he was “around 8 or 9.” We don’t know how much time elapses between the story’s first scene (packing up boxes) and the second (transporting them to the narrator’s first apartment.) But it’s probably brief. “Over a year” then passes before the story’s final scene at the Italian restaurant. (And, I guess, another year passes before he gives this narration.)

Of the passage of time, we know that between the time the narrator was “8 or 9” and the time when he was 19, the TV set had been replaced by an “entertainment center”, while the mother’s TV afghan has remained the same (“the same as in the memory”) (We don’t know at all that the past and the narrator’s memory of the past are the same or rough equivalents –indeed, he is unsure himself). Also his younger sister has come to adopt the same restaurant as her special birthday dinner spot that he once had…. The one specific date mentioned in the story is July Fourth –his sister’s birthday.

Repeated words, phrases, concepts. “Wierd” (very often); “pissed off” (very often); “chicken”; “get the fuck outta here” […] the idea of being expressionless; the idea of not saying anything […]

psychology. A general psychological landscape of the feelings that might attend a young man’s leaving home for the first time –the menacing intercession of his father between him and his TV (he has to leave the house), his mother’s comforting afghan (it’s okay to sit around and watch TV); the narrator’s growing resemblance to an engorged penis (he’s pissed off, red, then pink)… Does “to leave the nest” mean for a young man to “become a dick” in some sense? […] the wax candles, the mention of shitting in public, the feeling of wanting the van to “swallow him whole” … Does the long hair of his sister’s boyfriend correspond to the narrator’s own early obsessive interest in wax candles — a young woman responding to signs of womanhood as a young man does to more masculine signs?

Conclusion My baseline view is that the story is a condensed and mysterious form of bildungsroman –a young character encounters and passes over a major hurdle to his personal growth; but, different from traditional narratives of this sort, the challenges the protagonist face more involve troubling “impressions” than concrete physical or professional hurdles.

od. 7.283

November 17, 2014

I’m noticing a sort of parallel construction here with the two phrases of the line each beginning with prepositions (epi and ek although what is the “ek” doing?) chiasmus is it almost? with Odysseus dropping and the night coming and with the night smelling fragrant and Odysseus fighting for his life (as if the night’s fragrance suggested its own continuing struggle to exist?):

And out I fell, fighting for my life, and on came the fragrant smelling night.

εκ δε επεσον θυμηγερεων, επι δ’ αμβροσιη νυξ ηλυθ’.

θυμηγερεων: endeavoring to rally one’s spirit, making a fight for life. αμβροσιη: sweet-smelling, fragrant.

[And I fell, fighting for my life; and the night came, smelling fragrant.]

Lat.: I came out and dropped, nursing a hold on life, and immortal/ night came on..

Fag.: So, fighting for life, I flung myself ashore/ and the godsent, bracing night came on at once.

November 10, 2014

Stagefright ; Michael Wilding ; Laziest Gal in Town (Porter) ;

prolusion ; adduct, Tulsa Sound, compendious, schlaft

homo sacer ; ; ἐξαπίνης (on a sudden) ; knot / nautical mile ;


Horace/ plants in epodes

November 3, 2014

Cypress (cupressus): (Ep.5.17).Fig tree, wild (caprificus): (Ep.5.18).Fig (ficus): (Ep.16.46).Garlic (allium): (Ep.3.3).Grape-berry (uva): (Ep.2.20).Grape-vine (vitis): (Ep.2.9).Grass (gramen): (Ep.2.17).Hemlock (cicuta): (Ep.3.3).Ivy (hedera): (Ep.15.5).Mallow (malva): “that eases an overloaded body” (Ep.2.68).Oak (ilex): (Ep.2.23); (Ep.10.8); (Ep.15.5), (Ep.16.47).Olive (oliva): (Ep.2.56); (Ep.16.45).Pear (pirum): (Ep.2.19).Poplar (populeus): vine married to(Ep.2.10).Sorrel (lapathum): “that loves the meadow” (Ep.2.57). “Tree” (arbor): (Ep.2.56); tree on hillside (Ep.12.20), (Ep.16.46).

General References: slip, shoot (propago) (Ep.2.9); branches (ramos) (Ep.2.13); fruit tree (pomus) (Ep.2.17), woods (silva) (Ep.2.17), fire wood (lignis) (Ep.2.43), branches of trees (ramis arborum)(Ep.2.56), “blades, leaves” (herba)(Ep.2.57); “salad” (herbis) (Ep.3.7); herba (Ep.5.21), herba and root (radix) (Ep.5.67-68); woods (nemus) (Ep.6.9); woods (silva) (Ep.11.6); woods (silva) (Ep.13.2), “nard” (nardus) (Ep.13.2); Ceres, floreo (Ep.16.43-44), vine-garden (vinea) (Ep.16.44), branch (termes) (Ep.16.45), seed (semen) (Ep.16.55).

Horace/ plants in odes book 4

November 3, 2014

Citron (citreus): citron roof (4.1.20). Cypress (cupressus): Achilles compared to (4.6.10). Grape-vine (vitis): (4.5.30). Grass (gramen): ((4.7.1), (4.12.9). Grassy (herbosus): herba (4.2.55). Ivy (hedera): (4.11.4). Laurel (laurus): of Apollo (4.2.9). Oak (quercus): (4.13.10). Oak (ilex): roman people are like (4.4.57). Palm (palma): (4.2.18). Parsley/ celery (apium): (4.11.3). Pine (pinus): Achilles compared to (4.6.10). Pine / Pitch-pine (taeda): (4.4.43). Rose (rosa): (4.10.4). “Spikenard” (costum) *: (4.12.16), (4.12.17). Thyme (thymum): (4.2.29). Tragopogon (come): (4.7.2). “Tree” (arbor): “unmarried” (4.5.30); ((4.7.2).

General References: flos (4.1.32); nemus (4.2.30); leaves (frons) (4.2.36); folium (4.3.7), nemus (4.3.11); frons (4.4.58); Ceres (4.5.18); “crops” (frux) (4.6.39); pomifer, frux (4.7.11); vine-leaf (pampinus)(4.8.33); “blossom, flower” (flos) (4.10.4); garden (hortus) (4.11.2) leafy twig (verbena)(4.11.7).