Friday, December 31, 2010

Recap and Capstone

Grades for Fall 2010
English
451: A
452: A
495: A
French: D-
aawwww yyyyeeeaaaahhhh

Anyway, here is my capstone paper. This is a shortened version, and I'm not including the works cited. Ya, I'm pretty sure you are over it already.



Emerald Guildner
Professor Roberts
English 495
12/15/10
Fact Through Fiction: The  performative act  of Albee’s Zoo Story

“A paradox is fundamentally an idea or concept involving two opposing thoughts, which, however contradictory, are equally necessary to convey a more insightful illumination into truth than either can secure alone”. - Krasner

Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story (1959) begins with two men, Jerry and Peter, talking in a park and ends in a violent murder/suicide. Critics have attributed different symbolic meaning to both Jerry and Peter and give them credit for successfully communicating. Jerry has been compared to Coleridge’s “The Ancient Mariner” by Spielberg, and has most famously been seen as a metaphorical Christ figure whose “sacrifice is perhaps the most effective way that the story has been told’(Zimbardo 17).  Lewis asserts that “Jerry tries to establish contact with a person other than himself, and succeeds in the moment of death”(Lewis 29). What is most agreed upon is that Jerry’s violence is why Jerry is successful, that communication “is accomplished through Jerry‘s violent death“(Baily 33). While I do think that Jerry and Peter have their own roles that have been explained before, they do not fully achieve what the critics have claimed, and certainly not by the means they have ascribed to them. Jerry does not achieve communication through violence. Peter is not merely the character devised to represent a mankind that needs saving. Peter and Jerry are set up against each other as equal opposites.  Jerry’s violent performance actually makes it impossible for himself to communicate with Peter. Peter’s complacency makes it impossible for himself to communicate with Jerry. Jerry does not “save” Peter. But the play itself does communicate to the audience. The play is more than “fundamentally a piece of social criticism” that looks at the state of mankind (Samuels 188). It is also a critic of Performativity. The play contains both Peter and Jerry who together create something performative, though neither Peter nor Jerry are performative themselves. Their interaction on stage successfully communicates to the audience why communication is so seemingly impossible at times. Among all the debate about Performativity, Albee’s play illustrates that neither Peter or Jerry are capable of being performative because they each lack what the other has.

A performative act is one that “does something”, which means that it is one that communicates successfully. There is the commonality that a performance must have a context or intent in order to “do things”. Austin explains that in order for words to not be etiolated they must have an agreed upon context. Even though Derrida argues against Austin in many ways, he still explains that every performance is a citation. J.L. Austin claims that speech can be and act that “does something“, but that this happens under certain circumstances. Though Derrida differs with Austin’s claim that speech on stage is not performative, Derrida agrees that in order for speech to “do” something, there are certain qualifications, or precedents that must be met. Derrida counters Austin’s claim by saying that if language is parasitic when it is a citation, then everything is parasitic because every utterance, especially a performative utterance, is citational and therefore a performance.  In both of these theories there is the common thread of intent, or citation, being necessary for speech - and I would claim, any act or performance -  to “do” something, for it to be performative. Judith Butler further complicates this concept when talking about identity being constructed through performance. In order to create something, it must have a construct or context. Citation is needed for something to be performative. This can be seen as the act having the right intent. Other performative theorists such as Grassner, Brander Matthews, Eve Sedgwick, and Johnson Barbara have given their own views on what Performativity is and where it comes from( Jackson 93, 110-128, 180-191). They all have a commonality that says speech and physical acts need to be in the correct context, or follow the right social conventions, to have their intended effect.  The participants and the audience need to understand the citation in order for a performance to have its intended, purposed, effect. I conclude from this that a performative act is made up of two parts: the act or performance and the context or intent. Jerry and Peter are each representative of the two parts that make up a performative act. The frustration comes to each of them from the very half that they ascribe to. They each try to communicate to the other by using more and more extreme versions of performance or context, respectively. This push to the extreme ends of the halves that make up a performative act ultimately makes communication unlikely to the point of impossibility. One without the other renders itself ineffective, and ultimately pointless. It is  like Jerry says to Peter twice, “sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly”(Albee 25). It may seem contradictory to need two opposite parts to make a whole, but in the end a Performative act does need them.

     Jerry is only performance.  From the very beginning, he flouts social conventions. Jerry enters the stage and says “I’ve been to the zoo. I said, I’ve been to the zoo. MISTER I’VE BEEN TO THE ZOO!” (ZS 12). This is an abrupt, violent way to begin a conversation. There is no greeting given to Peter and no introduction offered. How was Peter supposed to understand that Jerry was speaking to him? How was Peter to know that Jerry wanted him to care without any indication? Social conventions can be perfunctory, but they are also needed in order to communicate. Peter’s response of “I’m sorry, were you talking to me?” shows that he was not ignoring Jerry’s entrance, but that he did not know of it. You cannot ignore something you are not aware of. Yes, maybe then a point could be to “always be aware”, but this point ignores the fact that it would be near impossible to function that way, and that mankind just does not function that way.

   The combative way Jerry talks to Peter also shows Jerry’s rejection of context and his failure at communication. He claims that “every once in a while I like to talk to somebody, really talk; like get to know somebody” but really he just wants to “ask [Peter] questions”( SZ 19). Jerry asks questions that generally shock Peter, questions about his salary, about his family life, about where he lives, and about deeper desires like having a son. Jerry was attempting to shock Peter into awareness, but only managed to annoy him. Peter says to Jerry “you don’t really carry on a conversation; you just ask questions” (ZS 22). This self alienation is Jerry’s way of refusing to contextualize his performance to his intended audience. Jerry continues to approach Peter with “slowly increasing determination and authority” as the conversation goes on( Albee 24). This determination does not come from confidence, but more from desperation. In the end we see that the whole time Jerry “ was so afraid I’d drive you away. You don’t know how afraid I was you’d go away and leave me”(Albee 60). Behind the determination was always fear, a fear that was created in him early on in his life.

     Much of Jerry’s frustration and ultimate rejection of context and social conventions are caused by his past experiences with people close to him whose contexts did not result in Performativity. He has “two empty picture frames” that he explains away by saying he does not “have pictures of anyone to put in them” (ZS 27). The parents that are supposed to be close to him are at best no longer anything to him, and at worst bad examples. His “Mom walked out on good old Pop” and then died soon after. Jerry’s father then commits suicide. Jerry is then left to his aunt who dies the day of his high school graduation. These people were in context with Jerry, but do nothing performative. Jerry refuses to give them a context by framing them. He continues to keep the frames empty, from putting any other people in context, including himself. No family, no friends, not even “the little ladies”( ZS 30). Jerry saw that these people were in context and did nothing performative, so he attributes this failure to the context and leaves it completely behind. Jerry correctly recognizes that context alone cannot create anything performative, but misrecognizes that context is to blame. The reality of context not being enough by itself alludes to the illusion that it is not even a part of Performativity (Althusser). This is a state that Jerry becomes stuck in, “Jerry has been reenacting this same conflict all his life, continuously locked into the role of outcast, locked out of love and belonging”(Gabbard 15). Jerry swings to performance from context, instead of with context.

On the other side of Performativity is Peter. Peter has only context and does not act. Peter asserts his successful inclusion in convention through his position as a married man, who “has a wife”, two children who are “both girls”, two TV’s, two parakeets, cats, and has “an executive position with a small publishing house” (ZS 21). Peter is everything that disappoints Jerry. He is a man who has context and does nothing with it. He is, as Jerry says, “a vegetable”. His state of being is also caused by an illusion that alludes to reality. The reality is that context is necessary for Performativity. The illusion is that performance will take you out of context, and that misrecognition is what frightens Peter into his vegetable state. Peter sees people like Jerry and their performances and is scared of not having influence like them. Peter wants to assume that Jerry “lived in the Village” like most actors and is disappointed to hear otherwise because it would have made “sense out of things” for him, shown to himself that his fears were justified (ZS 25). As hard as Jerry tries to take himself out of context, Peter tries to put him into in, to make sense of him and his situation, but continues to be rather confused. Jerry tells him “You don’t have to listen. Nobody is holding you here; remember that. Keep that in your mind”, to which Peter responds with “I know that” (Albee 35). But he does not really know this. Peter is confused and does not have control over the possibility of performing because of this confusion.

In spite of his efforts to stifle his awareness, Peter does feel the desperation of not being performative. He is in the park alone and does divulge information to a total stranger, even if that stranger seems quite forceful. Peter “ruefully” admits to having cats, and gives long pauses before admitting to having parakeets. His job fulfills financial obligations, but he is not excitedly engaged in any of his endeavors. Peter acts offended at Jerry’s jabs at him not having any sons, but shows his true disappointment when he says “naturally, every man wants a son”. Peter’s impotency, or inability to be performative, is insinuated when Jerry asks “you’re not going to have any more kids, are you?”. At first Peter reacts with anger at the question, but he is more disappointed in the truth than the accusation, the truth that he will “have no more children”(ZS 18).  As the talking and questioning continues “Peter becomes more and more aware of inadequacies not really faced before”(Hewes 43). With all the disappointment, Peter attempts to be performative in the way he believes should work, by placing himself even further in context with society, to more solidly plant himself into the safety of his current situation.

Albee has set the two characters up as clear representations of the halves of Performativity. They are stuck because they do not see that both parts are needed even though they seem to be contradictory to each other. The problem is like the situation that Jerry explains to Peter about the pornographic playing cards. He says, “it’s that when you’re a kid you use the cards as a substitute for a real experience, and when you’re older you use real experience as a substitute for the fantasy”(ZS 32). Though  this quote has been used to illustrate that Jerry is in a childlike state, while Peter is in the adult role, this statement makes it clear that either way, one state is being used as a substitute for the other, and niether is complete on its own. Jerry sees his own performances as real experiences and Peter as living in a fantasy world where nothing happens. Peter sees his conventional life as real and acceptable, while seeing Jerry as stuck in a realm that is fanciful and unreachable. Each man is incomplete and sees the other half that could complete them as antagonistic instead of complementary. This inability to see the necessity of both is why they will always be substituting things in for the other half, never actually reaching Performativity. So they circle each other, each getting deeper into disliking the other man’s state of being. What is most tragic to Jerry about Peter being a vegetable is that Peter’s life gives him a built in ability to connect with people in a way Jerry failed at. Peter’s respectable life does not guarantee connection, but certainly makes his job easier. The more you are contextualized, the more power you have to use violence and performance to create a performative thing. With all that inherent possibility, he does nothing with it.

As Peter continues to more fully contextualize himself, Jerry’s attempts at Performativity become more and more extreme, with violence being the most extreme and shocking form of performance. He tries to explain how he believes he successfully communicated with the dog that lives in his hallway in “The story of Jerry and the Dog!”(ZS 36).  The experiment Jerry acts out with the dog is to connect with the dog in the hallway of the where he lives. First Jerry is nice to the dog by bringing it food. The dog reacts as an animal does, eating the food and remaining the same. This frustrates Jerry. He says “to be truthful, I was offended, and I was damn mad, too”(ZS 38).  This deepens his desperation to connect with the dog. Jerry tries for days in a row the same experiment, just as he does with Peter. Jerry pushes Peter with questions that all rub him in the same way, each time hoping that Peter will respond in the way Jerry wants him too. When the dog’s response does not change, as Peter’s does not, Jerry moves on to more extreme and violent acts. He does this because he becomes “less offended than disgusted” by this point. This disgust drives his violence. Jerry attempts to poison the dog to death, though only accomplishes making the dog “deathly ill”(Albee 40). After this experiment with the dog, he calls the dog “my friend” because “That’s the only word for it”(Albee 41). Jerry supposes that his experiment in violence was successful, but is shaken to see his mistake when he realizes he did not really connect. He argues with Peter saying “Her dog! I thought it was my…No. No, you’re right. It is her dog” (Albee 45). This same misrecognition of success happens to Jerry in the end when he believes that he has shaken Peter out of his vegetable state, but the violence is so extreme that it masks this realization to Jerry.

Jerry tries to explain that “neither kindness nor cruelty by themselves, independent of each other, creates any effect beyond themselves; and I have learned that the two combined, together, at the same time, are the teaching emotion”(ZS 44). But Jerry is misunderstands the outcome of his experience with the dog.  Kindness and cruelty, or love and violence, are both performances without context. They are merely on opposite ends of the spectrum of performance. Jerry calls himself a “permanent transient”. He is constantly vacillating between different types and levels of performance. They are not capable of being performative without context, so he goes from one type to another in constant search and in constant failure. He manifests his desperation when he says “I’ll kill the dog with kindness, and if that doesn’t work…I’ll just kill him”(SZ 37). The violence that the dog and Jerry experience do not create anything performative. The change in the situation is that they “no longer try to reach each other”. The change in their circumstances is not the same as communication. If it truly was, then Jerry would not have to continue on to even more extreme measures to communicate, his desperation would be appeased. But it is not, so he continues his search.

This violence of the dog story is what causes Peter to shout out “I don’t understand!”. It does not bring Peter closer, it does not communicate with him. It really just scares him. The extremeness of Jerry’s performance comes from Jerry’s desperation to communicate, but in the end it really just pushes Peter further away. The ultimate violent performance is the murder-suicide that Jerry orchestrates. It is Jerry’s final attempt at communication, and is attempt is the most violent act he can come up with. Jerry pokes and provokes Peter into fighting for the bench that they have been having their chat on. Peter talks big and says he will fight until Jerry tosses the knife to him. Jerry wants so badly Peter to “fight for that bench…fight for your manhood, you pathetic little vegetable” (ZS 59). Peter picks up the knife and holds it out “not to attack, but to defend”. Peter is passive throughout the entire act, including when Jerry shouts “So be it!” and them impales himself. The violence shocks Peter and the audience. But Peter does not get shaken to any kind of active performance. This act, as Lewis claims, is not one that “connects” the two characters to save Jerry from his “self imposed isolation”, but is ultimately one that further estranges them (Lewis 3). Jerry misrecognizes, again, what the result of his violence truly does. He says to Peter “you’re not really a vegetable; it’s all right, you’re an animal”(ZS 61). But all Peter really does is flee the scene.

The violence is not what teaches anything, as Baily would argue. Jerry’s extreme performance was his attempt at Performativity, but that violence is ultimately itself what prevents Performativity. Jerry is dead, he has cut off his ability to perform at all, let alone be performative. Peter remains passive. He runs away. There is never an indication that Peter leaves his vegetable state later on in life, and any speculation that he does is just that.  Peter’s understanding of the importance and safety of context is what makes him pull further into himself when Jerry performs his violent act. Jerry understands that “we have to know the effect of our actions”, but he misattributes the cause with the effect in his experiments (sz 40). The very violence that critics claim as what creates connection is the act that drives each character farther from any possibility of  communication, and ultimately cuts both of them off from performing, themselves, anything performative ever again. Violence without context is the ultimate de contextualizing act that Jerry could ever come up with. Jerry claims that Peter “won’t be coming back here any more, you’ve been dispossessed. You’ve lost your bench, but you’ve defended your honor”( Albee 61). Just like with Jerry and the dog, Jerry and Peter’s circumstances have changed, but that does not mean that they have communicated. The ease of getting stuck in one half of Performativity is where so much frustration comes from.

Albee’s play is itself an experiment to see the “effects of [its] actions”. Peter and Jerry are set up as equal opposites. The audience identifies with both characters, sees that the play is “a shiningly sickly and, at the same time, painfully interesting, one-acter”(Luft). We understand and sympathize with Jerry’s frustrations as a “stranger that has a desperate need to make contact with someone”(Hewes). And we know and fear what Peter fears. We want the same securities that Peter wants, and we feel the need to perform that Jerry feels. And we want to connect and communicate with people like they both want to do. The audience does still feel that “no real relationship between the characters is attempted and we were left with a  rather literary dialogue” (Special to the New York Times). We feel the disappointment that they characters do, but the play does successfully communicate this disappointment to us.  The play itself has them both in equal parts, just as a performative act needs them both. This makes the play performative to the audience. The play was received as “an extraordinary first play”(Hewes).

The question of whether or not communication is possible is one of the main themes of the Theater of the Absurd. Amacher explains that the play is about Absurdism, but is not itself absurd, but in fact is “hopeful”(Amacher 42). The paradox of Performativity, that the two seemingly contradictory parts of Performativity are needed together, mirror the Absurdist concerns about the seeming impossibility of communication. Sometimes is seems like the “only sense we can draw from it is the conviction that one shouldn’t talk to strangers in Central Park”(Driver 44). There is definitely a sense Jerry and Peter are individually living this out. The play itself, however, being communicative, is not Absurd. Albee’s work is his proposed answer to the Absurdist problem. In real life they “find it hard to believe that people such as that really are”. Jerry says that “It‘s for reading about, isn‘t it?…And fact is better left to fiction.”(ZS 35). Albee does not necessarily answer the question of whether or not an individual is able to be in possession of both context and performance at the same time, but he does claim that fiction can. This is why fiction can and should be used to communicate. This is why we have it. This is why Albee can claim that his play “is neither nihilistic or pessimistic…the play is obviously not a denial of life”(Gelb). Performativity is paradoxical, which makes it difficult to achieve. “The Zoo Story” illustrates to us the anxiety of it being so difficult, and most often failed. But Albee’s play does successfully communicate and proves that it is not impossible.


There you have it. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I have a problem with commercials today

I'm obviously watching too much late night TV.

"PajamaJeans" - a designer jean look with a pajama feel!! You will think you are fooling people into thinking you are classy, all while being not classy! And look good doing it! For all body types!
Yeah, Nope. I'm pretty sure we can all tell denim colored sweatpants from real jeans. And when did wearing jeans become so difficult? Don't we have casual fridays to get to wear jeans instead of skirts, suits, ties, petticoats, corsets, and outrageous wigs?
People, put on some pants.

The charmin ultra soft commercial with the "lets-get-it-on" music. Its a sexy vibe commercial, with cartoon bears, about toilet paper.
Barf.

The sad sad sad abused animal commercial with the sad sad song.
Stop it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Okay, life's a fact...


...people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness.



I think I can believe that. 


Usually, Breakfast At Tiffany's is my rainy day movie. How cliche am I, right? 
Watevs.
For some reason, last night felt rainy despite the real weather. And, I have the house to myself for a while and can watch a movie two times in a row without bothering anyone. 


I've also been writing a little, and I am surprised at how both my love and frustration for it has been increasing. 




Holly: What do you do, anyway?
Paul:  I'm a writer, I guess.
Holly: You guess? Don't you know? 

Paul: OK, positive statement. Ringing affirmative. I'm a writer.


Ya, me too Paul baby. 


Random Emy fact: 
My life would be complete if I were to be wooed in a library. 








Can I also say that I have a mad crush on George Peppard? Yup. He's a dreamboat, with amazing hair. 
Nuf said. 




Hey Em, lets add to the slight mess of a life you have by watching the entire first season of One Tree Hill. Oh, you just did that? Well, how about tonight you get through season two then, ya? Cool. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rise and Shout. The Cougars are Out.

I'm not one inclined to sentimentality, but I'll make an exception today.

"Enter to learn. Go forth to serve."


I am Emerald Guildner.
I am, now, as of today, a college graduate.
I have a Bachelors degree in English Literature.
I am part of the BYU alumni.
I am quite possibly a real adult now.

Watch out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good night moon





In the Quiet Night 


 The floor before my bed is bright:
 Moonlight - like hoarfrost - in my room.
 I lift my head and watch the moon.
 I drop my head and think of home.


- Li Po
Home '05


It's really late.
Mom is being crazy.
Laundry needs to happen soon.
I had quite a rockn night.
I miss my family.
I will be a college graduate in two days.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Choose or Die

A Psychological Tip


 Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
 and you're hampered by not having any,
 the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
 is simply by spinning a penny.


 No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
 while you're passively standing there moping;
 but the moment the penny is up in the air,
 you suddenly know what you're hoping


- Piet Hein


I like this poem for making it clear that decision making is an active process that takes work and desire.
And guts. Most of my bravest moments are the ones in which I make a decision that I have been struggling with. It means I have committed to something, and that I trust my Heavenly Father and myself. It means that I have accepted letting the other options go, which is always a risk. It means I am willing to take on the task of following the path (cliche bleh) I have chosen.
Decision making is also a way to prove to yourself that you even have desires and passions at all. There aren't decisions to be made if you don't give a rat's tushy about anything. I know that I am fairly well known among my friends for being the most indecisive person ever when it comes to choosing where to eat. Maybe I'm justifying a personality flaw, but I think it is ok to be indisisive about things that really truly do not matter as long as I am decisive about the things that actually affect my life and those around me.

Important: My friends, how to help my family, what school to go to, who to marry, where I live, how I spend my time, what I study, my opinions on things like religion, black or blue pens (blue). 
Not important: Wendy's or Arby's, diet Coke or diet Dr. Pepper, cereal (I always end up eating a little bit of EVERY type of cereal that is available, always. Tip: start with the less sugary ones end with the chocolatey ones so that the milk isn't all weird with your other cereals, unless you like that kind of thing which makes you kinda messed up.)
 Ok, I digress. Which is NOT the same as being indecisive. Moving on.

What you are decisive about = What you care about
The inverse holds true as well. Being indecisive is a manifestation of a lack of passion, which really just makes you super boring at best and a douche at worst.
Frills though, I would rather someone be a douche than bore me.


Indecision and indirectness = BORED

The past little while has been full of decision making for me. I was frustrated with it at the time, but am now so grateful for all of it. I am grateful that I know what I am supposed to be doing with my life and that I have answers that have been a long time coming. I like having my desires made clear to myself, even if it is accomplished through the often crushing process of decision making. Changing and growing and learning is pretty darn awesome. And the more it happens the more I like it and the better I am at it. 
So, you know, don't fear change blah blah blah. But really, improvement, though inherently painful and stretching, is da bomb. 


 “a crisis and upheaval in his soul, which shook his mind but also ultimately strengthened it for the whole of his life, and towards a definite purpose.”  
- Dostoyevsky's Brother's Karamozov

Most of all I am grateful that I know how to communicate with my Heavenly Father and that I am taken care of. I know how to tell feelings of fear apart from feelings of caution. I know complacency apart from peace. I'm not always the quickest at getting it right, but I do get there eventually. And the best thing is that I am getting better and better at it. It has been so neat these past weeks to feel promptings and recognize them for what they are. Just being reassured that I really am capable of that and that I am improving in it has been the best part of this whole experience. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Tinsel"

Christmas '05


You know what,
I guess that sometimes,
not usually but sometimes, my heart is
Like tinsel at Christmas -
Glinting and gaudy and silver and seen.
Abundant.
Cheap and itchy.
And the mess, the mess. oh my, what a mess.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"In a word, something disorderly and absurd began" - Dostoyevsky




Morning

 dam's broke,
 head's a
 waterfall.

- Robert Creeley

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When it rains...



The metaphorical shelves of my life are getting pretty full right now.
 In no particular order, and with no details:

Happiness
Confusion 
Intrigue 
Reading
Tension
Fun
Weariness
Cold
Surprise
Interest
Stress
Hope
Writing
Curiosity
Love
Humility
Apprehension
Trust
Waiting

And a lot of prayer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The way we get by

By: me


"Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly."
                           - Edward Albee's The Zoo Story

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What do you think you will answer yourself?



The word "Blustery" has long been in my vocabulary.
Yes, this is the source.  You're welcome.

The wind made me laugh so much today.
I don't just mean being happy on the inside, but out-loud giggling. I was walking to school and leaves were flying, my hair was everywhere, my skirt was fickle, and there was a general sense of playfulness that made everything around me funny or downright adorable. I just couldn't help getting giggle fits and probably looked slightly deranged as a result.

Oh wind, you can flirt with me again any day.
Today was rather blustery, and so much the better for it.

P.S. / update:
Grad school app is coming along, stressful, but along.
Piglet's statements match my life so well right now. I feel weird that I identify with a stuttering cartoon at my age. B-b-b-but I do.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some things need no words

The end of a longer conversation about the past little bit of our lives:

Me: The trajectory of our lives is really crazy.
Natty: Ya it is...Want some Butterfingers?
Me: Yeah.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I DID IT!!!

This is my English 495 senior course final exam essay.
It was timed, so excuse any weirdness, if you have a heart.
This paper got a 96. 
That's an A. 
Yes, I am bragging like a total tool.
Yes, I might have made a small scene in the JFSB when I picked it up.
That's ok, happiness excuses most things.
And I am so happy.


Emerald Guildner
Professor Roberts
English 495
11/3/10
Final Exam

Krasner said “A paradox is fundamentally and idea or concept involving two opposing thoughts, which, however contradictory, are equally necessary to convey a more insightful illumination into truth than either can secure alone”. Krasner was referring to the paradox that black writers faced in pleasing both past tradition and trying to create a new future, but this applies directly to how performance works to become a force in the real world and moves beyond its realm on the stage. How can something be both a mere utterance and performative? How can a citation of something be both a parasite and a creative action? How can a play performed on a stage somehow translate into action in the “real world”? Performance in theater brings out a new problem with utterance and speech. J.L. Austin claims that ordinary speech is in the “real world” and has the potential to be “performative”, while theatrical speech is an etiolated form of utterance, or is parasitic upon its normal use”(Austin 22). For Austin, theatrical speech does not “do” something. Derrida counters this claim by saying that if language is parasitic when it is a citation, then everything is parasitic because every utterance, especially a performative utterance, is citational. I would expand this to say that all performance has some sort of effect and therefore an action. The plays we have studied mark the ways that writers work for a change in their audience and therefore a change in the world. They do not write plays to just be watched, but to be something that has action attached to it in some way. In other words, a performance is always somehow performative.

In a theatrical sense, “performance included any live act created for a public audience”(Krasner 11).  In “A New Coon in Town”, Terminus puts on many performances, some meant to push the plot along, and most for farce. He acts the part of Palaver Sauce, “Prince o Phoo Phoo”. Serena and Hebb get quite caught up in his performance and he really does trick them, Serena calls him “your Magnificent Highness” repeatedly. In this performance, Terminus does not actually become a prince by uttering that he is one. Like all actors playing a character, it is a role. This can be seen as being a “parasite” on real life, however, it is clear that by playing a character, action happens. Terminus’s “audience” of Serena and Hebb respond in complete belief, their actions happen because of Terminus’s utterances.

Now, what about “Coon”’s effect on the audience? It clearly is built around farce, with some attempts at changing opinion on how to see black people. Performance was the way that many went about trying. But breaking away is a very hard thing to do. We can see in “Coon” that a play can both be trying to break away from stereotypes, while reinforcing some, and even creating more. In the play, Dennis says about Terminus being the statue, “When he is in the skins, and otherwise ornamented, it’s no one that would identify him” and then later that they “want [him] to stand on the platform, there, and look as if you were not alive”(55,59). The farce of the play masks the attempt to make the audience act differently, it just makes them act the same. As Krasner says, “theatre and performances conspired to encourage the stereotypes”, and so theater continued to try to break away from that. Performance is not a perfect means of changing the world, there are definite risks in making a performance a performative act. There is the risk of what Hartman describes as “fungibility”, the play or performance is in a way a commodity consumed by the audience, which could leave it “an abstract and empty vessel, vulnerable to the projection of others’ feelings, ideas, desires, and values”(Hartman 21). Terminus says right at the beginning to Crank, “Is I one o’ de ‘lect? Co’se I is!”, but Crank responds with “since you are one of us, you will gladly give me your mite”(Downing 9).  In “Coon”, Terminus’s wit hints at his humanness and his internal equality with the white characters. But in the end it seems to work against any fight to change his actual social status. It is only taken as a joke, or not understood. Reinforcement of action is still action, but minstrelsy is proof that performance and positive change do not always follow after each other.

 Writers and actors worked for realism and away from melodrama as another way to influence change. The Krigwa, Crisis Guild of Writers and Artists were a foundational part of this movement. The negro “has been a minstrel, comedian, singer and lay figure of all sorts. Only recently has he begun tentatively to emerge as an ordinary human being with everyday reactions” (Du Bois 134). The break away from melodrama to realism was a move that pushed a performance towards being performative in the way that the writer‘s desired, toward action that changed their circumstances.  She says that she had stopped caring “Because it doesn’t seem deep enough, close enough to what ails mankind! It was a child’s way of seeing things - or an idealist’s” (Hansberry 133). The drive came from the desire for people to see a realistic depiction of black people in order to break stereotypes. The method system of acting and performing also shows this movement to want change. “We might assume that believable acting  is simply a matter of being natural but…acting realistically onstage is extremely artificial and difficult”(Wilson/Goldfarb 99). We have to learn how to act differently, to see things differently. In “Raisin” Beneatha, even as a negro, acted out her perception of what she believed a true African to be. When she gets the dress from Asagai she “starts to wriggle in front of the mirror as she thinks a Nigerian woman might”(Hansberry 66). People are all trained, in a sense, one way or another.

A good play will help to re teach the audience to see with different eyes and act in different, hopefully more moral, ways. Just as the actors had to learn these steps, the people in the audience have to yearn for this change in themselves and in society as well. Beneatha’s experiences with how people act, or perform, towards her help to change the way she sees herself and her situation. Eventually she becomes proud of who she is and where her family is going as she watches her brother Walter’s performance to Lindner in his climactic speech where he tell him “we have decided to move into our house because my father- my father- he earned it for us brick by brick…And that’s all we got to say about that. We don’t want your money”(Hansberry 148). This performance changes the whole family. Ruth gains faith in her husband again, Travis has a father to look up to, Ruth finds a pride that is actually usable, and Mama is restored to her own peace of mind. According to the Stanislavinski system, “all action onstage must have a purpose”(100 Goldfarb). The family takes action as a whole after that and moves to the new neighborhood.

As much as it is argued, there is the view of  “race plays” and “folk plays” as one being propaganda, and the other not. However, both are working to change the way people see black people, and are therefore attempting some form of propaganda. One is just more in your face than the other and they are effective in different ways. Effiong explains that people at the time, particularly those a part of The Little Negro Theater movement, were working to expand these levels of folk aspects in plays. Hughes, however, came out with intense “agit prop” with “Scottsboro, Limited”. The most obvious aspect of the performance being the actors in the audience, the complete breaking down of the fourth wall. It is a direct challenge to what Melodrama and Minstrelsy was doing, to what  Saxon did in “Coon”, which was to create a “barrier, to prevent [others] from approaching the platform too close” so that they are “unable to see plainly”(Downing 65,67). “Scottsboro,Limited” begins with the white man rising in the audience to shout to the eight black boys “What are you-all doing in here? What the hell are you doing in here, I said?” (Hughes 117). They are all there for the play, the performance, both the actors and the audience. With the audience’s own involvement in the play, especially in the shouting at the end, the actors are not merely saying parasitic words from a script that only has meaning that is separate from the “ordinary speech”; The audience is given “new words in their mouth” to cite. This performance is effective because “the ones on the outside fight for us, too”(Hughes 123). Because the performance is of the actors and the audience combines, it all becomes and is “real” and performative. The play ends with everyone shouting “Fight! Fight! Fight!”(Hughes 129). It is all beyond acting. It is more than a call to action. It is action.

The whole point of having these plays being performed can be seen as a way to bring out the “Africanist presence” that Morrison is pushing for. A play is not something to only consume, “imagining is not merely looking or looking at; nor is it taking oneself intact into the other. It is, for the purposes of the work, becoming”(Morrison 4). These plays should be seen as “responses to a dark, abiding, signing Africanist presence”(5). These plays should be studied with the intent on changing racism, if not then studies are “enforcing its invisibility”. There is the need to move beyond seeing things the same way. Walter had said “I didn’t make this world! It was give to me this way!” before he finally stood up and gave the performance that made his family proud again (Hansberry 143). Plays are asserting this presence and the ability to change the “given” world through performance. Without performance “we will be dead /If we stay quiet here”(Hughes 118). Utterances through performance is action, and so “We need not die!”

We should not want to “dismiss the difficult, arduous work writers do to make an art that becomes and remains part of and significant within a human landscape”(Morrison 8-9). Dismissing would be to see theatrical speech as something etiolated but because it happens on a stage. Writers are trying to change the landscape, and can if we see each play as an opportunity for performative speech instead of just statements, or at least a catalyst to action. The play may be “citing” some other action, but its purpose is also to become what the people in the audience “cite” in their future actions, which is how it creates a change in others through its performance.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evening News

Girl Pummeled By Chair in Library

While standing on a chair to reach the top half of the white board in room 5446 of the HBLL, Emerald Guildner, age 22, fell off and subsequently landed on another chair and bruised her upper thigh. Her fall was caused by extreme shock to her system when the library's closing announcement was introduced with a loud, obnoxious, and very scary bell tone. Authorities are looking into the petition to make this noise less dangerous and scary to library goers everywhere.
Sources say that Emerald's only comments were: "WELL ________ !"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I can, and so


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
- Robert Frost
 
 Whose woods these are I think I know,
 His house is in the village though.
 He will not see me stopping here,
 To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 My little horse must think it queer,
 To stop without a farmhouse near,
 Between the woods and frozen lake,
 The darkest evening of the year.

 He gives his harness bells a shake,
 To ask if there is some mistake.
 The only other sound's the sweep,
 Of easy wind and downy flake.

 The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
 But I have promises to keep,
 And miles to go before I sleep,
 And miles to go before I sleep.

I know I am not the only one, but I am getting so tired. Sometimes it is like these woods, a deep dark lull that entices me towards indifference. Sometimes a maze of confusion that only gets worse the more times I try to get out. Sometimes hysterical panic.

There have been five times in my life where I not only felt I could not get up from under such heavy weight, but that I actually desired to not get up.  

I always got up.

I never completely understand how, but I always know why.

The why is because I want big and important things.
Things so important that it is impossible for me to stop working for them. Things I will work for until I have nothing more to give, because there is nothing else worth having or doing anyway. And I have a responsibility to get them.

And there are some things that I want, that are not so essential, but I want so badly. Things that I know I can have if I work hard enough, harder than I care to think about. And so, I will not think about the work, I will simply work.

I have made myself promises. I promise to get what I want, what should be mine. 

I don't just feel like my heart is bursting with desire, or even that it is bigger, but that my heart has changed shape and filled everything inside me. Everything under my skin is gone and replaced with heart, my insides are one giant muscle that has no other purpose other than working for what I want.

And so I will.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I feel the season


"So the days, the last days, blow about in a memory, hazy autumnal, all alike as leaves: until a day unlike any other I've lived"
- Truman Capote


"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." 
- Albert Camus


"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death"
- Yutang Lin





I've resisted Autumn for so long, my whole life really. I just love the summer so much. But I really have fallen in love with Autumn this year.

I'm also bursting to begin this again.

mmmmm knitting.

another thing to make you say: huh what?

My mom desperately wants me to understand, and never believes that I do, that just because a man holds the priesthood and can take me to the temple, it does not mean that he is nice or going to be good for me in other ways. I have never given her reason to worry that I do not know this obvious-to-all-of-humanity fact. I told her that I get it, and that she should stop assuming that all LDS people are like the ones she does not like.

Someone please let me know if any sense can possibly be gleaned from this latest text fun from the mama.

Mom: What do you mean lds are not the same?
Me: Like I just said, they aren't, and I don't know if you are being sarcastic or not right now.
Mom (much later): Eating now.
Me: Well that's just great.
Mom: Hi hony what you eat for dinner.
Me: quesadillas, is your night going well?
Mom (again much later): What do you think, LDS should be one like Zion Zion homo like because their belief is the same. you with us or you not is like you with us or you out.
Me: No?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Welcome Fall

Ode To Autumn by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,---
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 
Wishblows are for making all your dreams come true.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So strange are we

I finally downloaded all the pictures off my camera. I had the rest of my stay in Hawaii on there all the way up to now. The pictures will be dribbling in here as the week goes along I guess. For tonight, here are some of the funny and/or shameful ones.

Sandwich AND Vietnamese food? But of course. 

I don't exactly know how we found this.

Rosie was bored and decided crazy hair was in order late at night.

I gladly obliged.

PJ really does have a knack for capturing me at my most pleasant.

PJ as a tourist.

Again, I don't know how we find these things.



Onjana and PJ. This is how we eat.

Dear reader, I hope these only entertain you, and do not incriminate me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

From the mom again.

Background: Today I told my mom about my plans to apply to BYU's grad school. She immediately started a raving lecture on me not being well rounded, being a brainwashed religious fanatic, being unsuccessful and unmarketable, and how getting more schooling is NOT going to guarantee that anything good will ever come into my life and I am "obsessed like a crazy person with getting too smart". She then screamed something about how I'm getting too old and hung up.
Hours later this lovely text exchange happened:

Mom: Why we can never talk without fighting?

Me: I was simply calling to say hi and to tell you some good news about my life and then you blew up. Everyone else in the whole world believes I am doing good except you. Really, even everyone YOU want me to become: businesses, companies, professionals, schools, leaders. They all know I am making a good decision. Why can't you see that?

Mom:
I am going to name my dog...EMY.

......

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deconstruction is the bomb...a bomb?

I don't think posting my weird 452 midterm essay is cheating or anything, as no one who could use this for cheating reads this. Here's hoping. Anyway, this is, in my humble opinion, a pretty good/readable/approachable introduction to deconstruction. Excuse the occasional snarkyness, it was written under time constraints.


 In which I die over Derrida

    Structuralism depends on having, or searching for, a center or presence. Presence is the grounding, first principle that is the center or base of a system of meanings and values. Structuralists see this center as the truth which allows for a system in the first place. The search for the truth of a system (or in literature, the meaning of a novel; in criticism, the grounding theory etc) is the point of a structuralists’ work. Logocentrism is the system’s attempt to establish the justification of its meanings and values through pointing to its “center” as having an original, preexisting presence. We can see that the search turns into one of continual change. Each new theory about what the “center” of a system is was being replaced over and over by the next theory. Derrida says that this “must be thought of as a series of substitutions of center for center”(279). This realization calls into question the idea of a “center” at all, which is why “it was necessary to begin thinking that there was no center”(280). So, Derrida starts to deal with this issue of no center.

    He comes down on Levi-Strauss to illustrate his argument against structuralism. Levi-Strauss does a study on the nature versus culture. The basis of his study is depends on this distinction between human practices. The incest prohibition is a law that is both natural, occurring in all groups and peoples, and cultural, each culture has its own and varying way of dealing with it. This law cuts across the nature/culture binary, a binary that “has always been assumed to be self evident”(283). This cutting across proves that the binary is not only not the original presence that Levi-Strauss says it is, but that it does not exist at all.  Derrida goes on to explain what it is that Levi-Strauss does in the face of this. Levi-Strauss’s decision is to go on as if the center was still there, even while having proof that it is not. Doing this is bricolage. Bricolage is to use and “preserve as an instrument something whose value he criticizes”, tools to be used even when there is “no longer an truth value attributed to them”, and a bricoleur is the person who “uses the means at hand”, those tools (285). In this specific case, Levi-Strauss is a bricoleur who continues his work, and in a broader sense, we can see all and “every discourse as a bricoleur”. All studies that function in a system or try to find  a center, or work with the assumption of a center, have to use bricolage, inevitably. Though inevitable, this very endeavor is what confines, restricts, “closes off the play” (play - which I hope will be coming right up) (179).

  If we see the center as absent, we have the option of filling it in with something if we wish to. The example with Levi-Strauss is when he encounters totalization, well, nontotalization in his study of myths. When comparing myth to speech, Levi-Strauss explains that he would not “feel constrained to accept the arbitrary demand for a total mythological pattern, since, as has been shown, such a requirement has no meaning” (289).  It is not that they system’s center is too big to completely understand or fill, but because there is no center at all. We can replace it with a “sign”, we supplement the absent center with a sign. This “movement of the supplementary” is the idea of “play” (289). This idea of “play” leads to what we now call “trace”( I am already so sick of using “quotes”).  Trace is how we simultaneously produce and defer meaning by outlining the appearance of meaning by marking the gaps and pointing out differences, and by following the movement of the “centered” signifier pointing to a signifier and so on.

So, Levi-Strauss, and structuralism along with him, is caught in this weird world of tension between “play and presence” (292). For Levi-Strauss we have this rather uncomfortable place of existence where “play is the disruption of presence,” yet “one no less perceives in his work a sort of ethic of presence, and ethic of nostalgia for origins”(292). He does his work with bricolage guiltily, asserting a presence while at the same time proving it isn’t even there. This is one of the two interpretations of interpretation, the more depressing one for sure. The other interpretation being the “Nietzschean affirmation” that “determines the noncenter otherwise than as the loss of center. And it plays without security”, and is the “seminal adventure of the trace”. Here, we are able to live in a world without a center, but still with purpose, the purpose being to create concepts ourselves. These two options are “absolutely irreconcilable”. The Nietzschean one is surely more appealing, “joyous” if you will, but Derrida does not let us end with that. He says that he does “not believe that today there is any question of choosing” between them and that leaves us with a “terrifying form of monstrosity” (293). Well, cool. Now what? Enter deconstructionism.

    “Structure, Sign, and Play” is our starting example of deconstruction. Derrida pointed out (or created, or found, or whatever it is that he would let me say here) the binary that was at the “center” of structuralism. He them basically blew it up, proved it was a construct and not a truth. This very action is what deconstruction is, the way that Derrida has decided to get beyond binaries, to show them as binaries to destroy them. I have to say before I further explain deconstruction that I still see it as an assumption on the deconstructionist’s part to even claim that the center is a binary in the first place. The deconstructionist says that a center is created by the system making a hierarchal binary, but that binary is actually in itself  a construct of the deconstructionist, not necessarily the system.  I feel sometimes like it is like someone making a sandcastle next to me, saying it is mine, then knocking it down, all while I am sitting there just making my own sandcastle. Anyway, deconstruction works by pointing out the hierarchical binaries that is the supposed “center”, then reverses them - often by use of supplementation, which I won’t explain right now as I am most likely already off topic - to disrupt the binary. Then hopefully the deconstructionist inscribes a new and better binary in place of the one he shot down, or at least has successfully pointed out the need to replace the binary with something better. In this case the sandcastle destroyer has successfully reached my sandcastle, shown me its faults, smashed it, and built up a better, stronger one with which to make more friends and control the stretch of beach, or whatever, with.  I hope that made sense, as I feel a bit punchy now.

   
    There you have it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something happened, I don't know what

I literally woke up after three hours of sleep with this running over and over in a very fast voice in my head:

"I am a site within which codes flow. I am only part of a greater textual product."

(I'm pretty sure this is a conglomeration and slight misinterpretation of Roland Barthes mixed in with Derrida. I don't know why my sleeping mind would put works together quite like this.)

I was writing lit theory papers till five AM and do not remember taking off my jacket before sleeping, but I awoke with cold shoulders and a mantra.  I think I was drugged, kidnapped, and brainwashed without knowing it.
Help me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Welcome to your family Ivy Rae!

My dearest friend Erin and her lovely husband Steven are now parents of a baby girl, Ivy Rae Talley.

I want to write something beautiful and poetic and somehow fitting to this occasion, but that will just have to come later because my mind isn't working fully tonight.

For now I will just say that today I was initially expecting to cry sadly from dumb stressful school stuff, but instead ended up crying out of complete joy and happiness for the new life that is now here, and for the lives of my wonderful friends that made it happen.
I love you all. 

Ivy Rae, I am so glad you are here.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A roadtrip rife with Radiohead

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't belong here...

  - "Creep", by Radiohead

When I am the driver, I get to pick the music. I probably over fueled my Radiohead obsession. Thats ok.

I liked getting out of Provo.
Even if it was just for the weekend.

Someday, it will be for longer. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sounds about right

On the phone today:

Me: Hi mom.
Mom: Hi Emy, this is your mom.
Me: Yes, I know. Hi mom.
Mom: I'm not near a computer and I need you to look up plane tickets for me, from Nashville to Dallas.
Me: Sure...Wait, are you in Nashville? Right now?
Mom: Yes, I'm in Nashville and I want to get back to Texas.
Me: Why the hell are you there?
Mom: Business.
Me: You aren't in a business.
Mom: That's Ok.
Me: ...What?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

As of late

Not much writing here this time. Just want to say that I am back in Provo. School starts on Monday. I am moved into my new apartment with my lovely room mates/best friends. I miss my family very much. I've already eaten too much Del Taco. I'm very happy to see all the people I was missing this summer.

And I finally wrote another dumb story, here. I wrote it quickly in the airport on very little sleep, so it might sound a bit cracked up. Or fully cracked up.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today is a Favorite Day

I've been asked before to tell about a "favorite day or memory" I have, you know, to get to know me or to bring out my creative side. Those questions are often hard for me, as for most others I suspect. I lean towards having "top 20 lists" for things like my favorite memory, book, food, or movie, and that makes me squirm when people ask about them.
However inconvenient that might be, I would like to add today to my "favorite day" list.
Added.
Done.
Here is a bit of it:
A lovely family in our ward let us use their kayaks. 


We went down a river, which was fairly epic.







Then we paddled to a rope swing (in the estuary - where river and sea meet, fun fact from Rosy today).
I CLIMBED A TREE to get to where I needed to jump off.

And yes, I jumped off.
Rosie did it and PJ did it upside down, crazy kids. So much fun.
I don't have all the pictures yet. There will be more, and, if you are lucky, some video. 

We then paddled out into the ocean; it was much harder than the river. The waves were not big at all, but it still made it difficult and my arms feel like jelly right now.
We reached a beach where we rested and put our heads upside down and looked out to sea with the ocean as the roof, a very trippy experience.
It was a perfect time with a few kayak battles thrown in as well.  PJ totally jumped onto Rosy and my kayak and "commandeered" it, which means  attacked and tipped us over.

We were all happy and not a bad thing happened.
I honestly can say that I went a solid seven straight hours without even a single fleeting negative thought about anything or anyone.
I couldn't stop laughing all day. I mean it, I feel so good.


Joy.
Not just happiness, but blissful genuine Joy.
These days make me want to just sit and think about them for the rest of the night. I am going to go do so.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dun nuh nuh nah naaaaaahhhhh.... DUN DUN

Stanly Fish writes an opinion blog for the New York Times. In this kind of recent article, he actually spends his time and words talking about Law and Order, which has reached it's end after twenty years. I have my own on and off relationship with Law and Order, usually on, so I was hoping for something I would really understand. (Yes, I realize that getting excited about actually being up to date on something Mr. Fish would write about means that I am a bit ignorant of the world around me except for TV and makes me sound like a bit of an idiot. So sorry.)

He doesn't really say anything I found interesting, just kind of what he thinks Dick Wolfe thought about society and how to keep an audience, which is nothing ground breaking.
Mostly I am just wondering about how many episodes Fish has seen in his lifetime. He writes as if he has sat through his share of the marathons. I kind of hope so actually. If he could become a high and mighty critic and theorist with daytime television mucking up his brain, then perhaps there is hope for me still.

Then again, I have found that the majority of his theory essays are extremely redundant of themselves. Like Law and Order, his ideas have the same format, different and usually interesting examples, but ultimately we know where it ends up. If we are what marathons we watch, do I get to be America's next top model? Or do I just turn into the psycho Tyra Banks?

Well, Good thing for Fish that there is no rule, that I know of, that keeps a person from plagiarizing from their own papers. I guess I am grateful for that, too. I would not have gotten through some horribly procrastinated papers if I didn't steal from my older papers. (If this confession gets me in trouble, I was kidding about that last sentence to make Mr. Fish feel better.)
I actually like his argument for how we should teach against plagiarizing, and his follow up as well.