Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sunset Limited - conflict and contradiction by Filipe Ferreira




O título da obra The Sunset Limited remete para um comboio do mesmo nome que faz a travessia dos EUA do Atlântico até o Pacífico. A mítica viagem para o Oeste, que muitas vezes na literatura dos EUA representa a descoberta do novo o renascer, mas que também pode ser o sítio onde termina uma viagem, onde o Sol se põe.

As duas personagens, Black e White cruzaram-se numa estação de metro (lugar subterrânio, viagem aos infernos), onde o primeiro impediu o suicídio do segundo.

A primazia nesta obra é dada à palavra, aos diálogos, tudo o resto é reduzido ao mínimo, o cenário e as indicações de cena.

A acção decorre no apartamento de Black, um local à parte, fechado para o mundo exterior, na porta uma coleção de cadeados e trancas parecem querer proteger o local do mal que está lá fora, sobre a mesa uma bíblia e um jornal a primeira marca este local como um lugar onde é a “palavra de Deus” que reina o segundo uma ligação mediada ao mundo exterior.

As personagens caracterizam-se de forma bastante distinta e cumprem a sua vida de acordo com certezas, narrativas sobre a existência que vão confrontar tentando fazer prevalecer uma sobre a outra.

Black
“Me? I'm just a dumb country nigger from Louisiana. I done told you. I aint never had the first thought in my head. If it aint in here [na bíblia] then I dont know it.”

“If it ain't got the lingering scent of divinity to it, I ain't interested in it.”

White
“I believe in the primacy of intelect”

“You give up the world line by line. Stoically. And then one day you realize that your courage is farcical. It doesn't mean anything. You've become an acomplice in your own annihilation and there is nothing you can do about it. Everything you do closes a door somewhere ahead of you. And finally there is only one door left.”

As personagens seguem em sentidos “diferentes”:

Black vem de uma situação que caracterizava como “Death in life.”, até que uma “revelação divina”, o momento em que ouviu o que diz ter sido a voz de deus “If it were not for the grace of God you would not be here” fez com que passasse a dedicar a sua vida à palavra de Deus “If you never speak again you know I'll keep your word.”, à vida eterna “He said you could have life everlasting. Have it today. Hold it in your hand.”.

White valorizava a erudição “Books and music and art […] have value to me. [...]foundations of civilization., até o ponto em que se desiludio com as suas crenças “The things I believed in don’t exist any more. It’s foolish to pretend that they do. Western Civilization finally went up in smoke in the chimneys at Dachau but I was too infatuated to see it. I see it now” o que deseja é a morte absoluta “I yearn for the darkness. I pray for death. Real death. If I thought that in death I would meet the people I've known in life […] That would be the ultimate horror.”

“I want the dead to be dead. Forever. And I want to be one of them”.

Ao longo do texto as personagens vão jogar com a linguagem como criadora de significados, interpretando a realidade de formas diferentes e tentando fazer prevalecer uma interpretação sobre a outra. Ambos utilizão expressões do outro como ponte de ligação entre as narrativas, como ferramenta para contra-argumentar, como subversão da argumentação do outro. (Primacy; Loathe; Facetious; Trick bag; Constituents; Niger; Jailhouse/penitentiary; Mojo.)

Black
“But not the primacy of all them folks waitin on a later train.”

White
“I might be warming up the trick bag”

A “vitória” intelectual será de White que abandona o apartamento aparentemente para o seu encontro com o Sunset Limited. Black, abalado, termina perguntando a Deus “If you wanted me to help him how come you didnt give me the words? You give em to him. What about me?”, reafirmando a sua devoção à palavra de Deus e a pergunta repetida “Is that okay? Is that okay?”.

Expressões conotativas em Sunset Limited, de Cormac MccCarthy - por Sofia Freitas


As serious as a heart attack.  Black claims to be this at the beginning of the Sunset Limited. One could see a kind of morbid humor in such a statement, considering Black has just finished stopping another man from committing suicide when he says it. If Black wasn’t serious, things could lead back to White trying to kill himself again.
The lingering scent of divinity. A catch phrase Black hears from a preacher. Black claims he does not think of anything that does not have the lingering scent of divinity; an interesting point to note is that, throughout the story, Black’s arguments to dissuade White from his point of view all end up drawing from the same idea that it is through believing in God and in the light that White can see life with new purpose.
I read the Book of Job. White claims this when asked whether he has read the Bible or not. The irony of the statement is not lost on the reader, considering that the Book of Job deals with the theme of God’s punishment of the just and can be criticized in a way that would portray God as an incompetent entity or as one who does not care to save or help those who are faithful and just. This would end up showing the very action of reading the Bible, a book dedicated to God, and Black’s convictions towards believing in God as achieving happiness, as pointless and foolish ventures.
See when that next uptown express is due. The ‘uptown express’, as Black calls it, is the Sunset Limited: the train that crosses the country from Louisiana to California can be seen as a way for someone who comes from a poorer background (typically those living in Louisiana have less favorable living conditions than California; California is considered one of the states with the highest amount of billionaires living in it) to get to a ‘richer’ state. We can see the Sunset Limited as a metaphor or a perverse representation of White’s ‘ascension’ to a better reality. Black tries to show White ‘the light’ and tries to steer him towards what he believes is a better way of thinking by keeping him away from the ‘uptown express.’ White, on the other hand, finds the ‘uptown express’ to be his ticket to a better state of being.
Fixin’ to put you in the trickbag. The ‘trickbag’ is Black’s code for a group of experiences and information that he commits to memory and saves for future use. The trickbag seems to be what the characters refer to as their deposit for arguments and expressions that might later advance their rhetoric, and this ends up being called back to a few times during the narrative.
Moral leper colony. If taken literally, those who would suffer of moral leprosy would theoretically be those whose morals would slowly degrade into nothingness, individuals having a disease that can never truly be cured. White refers to the people living in Black’s neighborhood as a colony where the people are beyond saving.


Constituents. Black mentions constituents as something one can have in order to organize, or to live their life; the word is an interesting marker of Black’s own social background, as it happens to be used amongst prisoners and drug peddlers. White questions why he’d need constituents and Black claims he does not necessarily need them, but the opinion that one should live one’s life by feeling like they are a part of something (for instance, like Black believes he is part of God’s plan by doing his best as one of his faithful) in order to find happiness is something we can infer from the conversation. White does not feel like he is a part of anything, he does not feel like a ‘constituent’ in anything, not even where he teaches or among his family. There is a lack of belonging, and, while Black admits that he doesn’t necessarily need to belong to anything, there can is truth in stating that some people can in fact feel more fulfilled, feel like their lives have meaning, when they believe they are a part of something, be it a higher purpose or something more mundane.
Manual overrider. Black’s ‘manual override’ would make him revert to his violent ways. The manual override implies that Black would stop forcing himself to be a good man to others and to just let himself go and give way to despair. White finds the expression interesting perhaps because he sees the irony of Black applying the catch-phrase without truly giving it deeper consideration. If we take into account that he has, in fact, to force himself to care and to continue living, we can assume that life is too Black as much a bleak and painful experience as it is to White; by stopping himself from going into manual override, Black is simply struggling against what is inevitable in White’s eyes.
Communal misery. White’s concept of communal misery is exactly what it sounds like. It is the search of kinship through the common ground of being miserable. People group together in function of how miserable they feel, and White does not see how something like that could be in any way something anyone would wish to do. Socialization seems to be, for White, something people do to avoid introspection, to avoid thinking about their situations on their own. It is then a type of coping mechanism for those who still practice living. In a religious context, believing in God is just a different flavor of deluding oneself into believing that life is not devoid of happiness.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Terminal Commuters vs. (Every)day Travelers - Practice exercise for the test

Thinking of these opposition in several texts throughout the Post-1945 US Literature Course, choose A. or B., relating any of your writings with at least 3 of the texts we have studied:

1. Write a commentary on the struggle of the approaches to life, movement, mobility and community in your preferred texts in this class.

2. Write a creative text dramatizing the struggle between these notions.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Please try to be in class on time tomorrow

Our guest will be there at 2.00 p. m. sharp and there are people who will have to leave early. Let's make our best.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Jim Train by A. M. Homes

Please comment
- on the symbolism of the train and the journey in the short story
- on relevant passages (with examples) of the image of the United States


Charles Reis Felix - special class on the 10 th December

Dear students
the texts for the special class on the 10th december are already in the moodle platform:
https://plataforma.elearning.ulisboa.pt/course/view.php?id=5345
and in the "fotocopiadora vermelha" (red photocopy store"
Please read by order of importance:
1. Charles Reis Felix, "I don't want a Portagee in the family" from Through a Portagee Gate (2004)
2. Interview with Charles Reis Felix by Francisco Cota Fagundes
3. Article by Fagundes on Through a Portagee Gate
4. Article by Fagundes on Da Gama, Cary Grant and the 1934 Elections

Please note that the chapter "I don't want a Portagee in the family" will replace, in our reading list, the text by  Sherman Alexie, The True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2004)

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Subverting the Racial Codes and the Role of Maggie in "Recitatif" by Toni Morrison (by Seray and Irem)

In the early 1960's, throughout much of the South, African-American people’s right to vote was denied, they were barred from public facilities, subjected to insults and violence 
and, in the North, black Americans also faced discrimination in housing, employment, education and many other areas. Because of these reasons, many African-Americans started to protest and claimed their rights in what became known as the Civil Rights movement. This subject substantially took part in US literature. Toni Morrison also draws attention to this subject and she is doing  it in a different way.
     “Recitatif” tells a story of two girls, Twyla and Roberta, both abandoned by their mothers. They first meet in an orphange where they spend four months together and then meet four times as adults in different places and situations in life. It is evident that these two girls are from different races and this can be understood from thelines: “-it was something else to be stuck in a strange place with a girl from a whole other race”(Recitatif 2253) and “-that we looked like salt and pepper standing there..” (2254). On the other hand it is not clearly emphasized which girl is black and which one is white and the reason why Toni Morison leaves it unclear is that she tries to raise consciousness. On the other hand, although it is not mentioned directly, the story gives us some clues about their racial identities. For example, Twyla remembers her mother having warned her that the people of Roberta’s race “never washed their hair and they smelled funny” (2253). Twyla validates Mary’s stereotypical notion by saying, “Roberta sure did. Smell funny, I mean” (2253). This may be a reference to black people according to white canon and it can be considered that Roberta is black. Morever, another example for this is lack of  knowledge of Twyla about Jimi Hendrix. When Roberta says that she and her friends have an appointment with Hendrix, Twyla thinks about someone else and it can be seen in these lines: “ ‘Hendrix? Fantastic!’ I said. ‘Really fantastic. What's she doing now?’ Roberta coughed on her cigarette and the two guys rolled their eyes up at the ceiling. ‘Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix, asshole. He's only the biggest-Oh, wow. Forget it.” (2258).





However much racial coding the short story contains, “Recitatif” shows that racial stereotyping is based on illusion, since one can never be certain about the reality of the story. For instance, the examples which are given above can be also deceptive because blacks can also have a prejudice against the smell of whites and,  additionally, Jimi Hendrix appealed to a lot of white people at that time. Therefore, it is still ambigious which girl is black and which one is white because the decision is left to the reader to conclude, since everyone can interpret these clues according to their own experiences in life. By giving these clues, without conclusion, Morrison subverts traditional stereotypes and myths concerning blackness and whiteness. For example, it is therefore likely that Twyla's mother, Mary thinks that “beauty, order, cleanliness, and praise” are connected with the white race. This hypothesis is subverted, though, as we meet the mothers of the two girls: Twyla reports her mother having looked cheap and ragged in a “fur jacket with the pocket linings so ripped she had to pull to get her hands out of them.” (2256). In addition, in the scene, Twyla is situated in a serving position and she works in the coffee shop where Roberta is a customer. This might shows that the servant-role associated with black characters is subverted in the story. So, it can be said that the story has several racial codes but they are used in order to deconstruct the stereotypes in people’s minds.


There is another important character in the story besides these two girls named Maggie, who is mute and most probably deaf. Maggie has several significant roles in this story. One of them is that she might be the representation of African-American people in general. She is mute, she has legs like paranthesis and her disability symbolizes the African American presence as the stereotypical “Other”. For instance, “Maggie fell down there once.The kitchen woman with legs like paranthesis. And the big girls laughed at her.” (Pg 2254). In this line, Maggie needs help but no one helps her and the big girls make fun of her like white people do to African-Americans.

     Another role of Maggie is that she is used here similarly as a surrogate body through which the protagonists reflect their own experiences and consequently the reader can consider his or her relationship with stereotypes. For example, Twyla says that “Maggie was my dancing mother” (2265) and she does not help Maggie when she falls and Twyla admits that she wants to harm Maggie, as well because she replaces Maggie as her mother who is not with her, and due to her mother's absentness, Twyla blames her mother and wants to harm her. Therefore it can be said that Twyla and Roberta each perceives the mute Maggie as her own unresponsive, rejecting mother, and therefore hates and wantes to harm her. Morever, the character of  Maggie helps us to understand races of two girls because each girl perceives Maggie according to their own experiences. For instance, when they meet in Food Emporium, Twyla thinks that Maggie fell in the orchard but Roberta says that she didn't fall and the other girls pushed her down. In addition, when they meet again in front of the school, Roberta insists on the fact that they kicked Maggie when she fell by saying that “Maybe I am different now Twyla. But you're not. You're the same little state kid who kicked a poor old black lady when she was down on the ground. You kicked a black lady and you have the nerve to call me a bigot” (2264).These lines can show us that although Twyla remembers Maggie as a sandy-coloured woman, Roberta perceives her as a black woman and tries to protect her, so the reader can speculate that she is also black and she reflects her own situation in society through Maggie. 

    In conclusion, in this story, Toni Morrison tries to deconstruct racial stereotypes and, in order to do that, she leaves the races of the protagonists unclear because she tries to make the reader  interpret the race issue according to their own experiences. Additionally, she uses the character Maggie so as to  help the reader understand the protagonists' inner world and sense of diffidence.

Ponte entre "Sources" - "When We Dead Awaken" (Adrienne Rich) - "Daddy's Li'l Girl" (Bikini Girl) de Madalena e Lourenço


Para criar um elo de ligação entre o ensaio de Adrienne Rich, uma obra representante do pensamento feminista, da posição enquanto mulher numa sociedade patriarcal feita através da experiência própria da autora, e uma música da banda de punk feminino dos anos 90, Bikini Kill, escolhemos a VII parte de um poema tardio da autora do ensaio, “Sources”, que fala de algo comum aos outros dois pontos de análise: a relação entre pai e filha e o que esta representa na maturação da mulher.
            Começando pela análise do poema não podemos deixar de reparar no título: “Sources” - fontes, origens – que sugere imediatamente a busca do autoconhecimento, o revisionismo/revisitação para chegar à origem do “self” mas também à origem do sofrimento que compõe a mulher. O título é também concordante com um dos mais importantes pontos do ensaio “When we dead awaken”: o período da origem é antecedente ao de “awakening consciousness” (pág.167, 7º parágrafo) e, portanto, é muito importante conhecê-la para construir a nova identidade feminina.
            A nível formal, o poema afigura-se até mais com uma prosa poética de tom confessional, quase como se fosse um discurso corrido e impulsivo. O uso de deícticos e o jogo que é feito com estes transmite duas ideias principais: a repetição de “I” contribui para transmitir a dimensão ultra pessoal do poema e o uso do determinante “your” aponta para casos de posse, neste caso, que representam a pressão esmagadora que o pai exercia sobre o sujeito poético.  Neste jogo de deícticos é também interessante observar o uso gradual destes, ou seja, como a autora faz a transição do pronome “I” para “She” e mais tarde para “They”, transição esta que alude ao carácter universal desta experiência do sujeito poético.
            O poema, apesar de não recorrer a muitas figuras de estilo, tem um factor temporal muito pesado: é um poema altamente situado no tempo de revisionismo pelo qual o sujeito poético passou (“I saw”/ “For years”/ “Taught to study but not to pray”/ “Taught to hold reading and writing sacred”.), este faz uma passagem pelos tempos em que vivia com e para o seu pai e por todas as “lições” que recebeu (O verbo “taught” ironicamente é depois usado também para a frase “take what he taught her and use it against him”).
            Encontram-se também algumas metáforas como “castle of air” e “kingdom of fathers” (uma representação do poder e da arrogância, em geral, do homem na sociedade). Já quase no fim do poema a metáfora “womanly lens” sugere um período pós-awakening, um tempo que a mulher já é plena e já tem uso pleno de todas as suas características. “Power” é um substantivo que inicialmente é associado à facção masculina na vida do sujeito poético mas que, no fim, é já usado para descrever a “womanly lens” (uma ideia de inversão do poder).
            A estratégia a que procedemos para dividir o poema em duas partes (1ª parte até “always be aliens”) pode também ser interpretada como uma representação do processo de auto conhecimento necessário à mulher e do próprio movimento feminista. Vemos na primeira parte uma recapitulação da experiência submissiva do sujeito poético, a construção do que o seu pai representa, uma sinédoque para toda a sociedade patriarcal e as dificuldades por que a mulher passa ao tentar encontrar-se/orientar-se através da “voz” masculina, ao tentar corresponder às expectativas masculinas que lhe impõem, é transmitida uma ideia de masculinidade forçada (“The eldest daughter in a house with no son”). Foi a partir da imagem do pai, a primeira figura e exemplo viril na vida de uma mulher, que o sujeito poético e o sexo feminino em geral se apercebem da situação em que vivem. Nesta primeira parte parece ser passada a noção do quão doloroso é o processo de revisionismo, algo que a autora refere igualmente no ensaio (“(…) it’s exhilarating to be alive in a time of awakening consciousness; it can also be confusing, disorienting and painful.” – pág.167, 7º parágrafo).
            Na segunda parte do poema assiste-se a como que uma segunda fase de todo o processo de “aquisição” da plenitude feminina. Aqui, o poema adquire a um ponto extremo o seu tom confessional, referindo a morte do pai, que dá uma sensação de que o sujeito poético está a conversar com a sua campa, pedindo desculpa mas também perdoando. Assistimos à aceitação e ao reconhecimento, uma espécie de “iluminação do género” (“Could name at last the principle you embodied”/ “(…) there was na ideology at last which let me dispose of you(…)”/ “(…) that I can decipher your suffering and deny no part of my own”.). Outra vez, é usada uma referência temporal, “at last”, que indica um tempo de espera e de sofrimento mas também de compensação. É também aqui neste período do poema que o sujeito poético assume a sinédoque através do seu próprio processo de revisionismo (“as part of a system”/ “I saw the power and the arrogance of the male as your true watermark”).
            Curiosamente, o uso do ponto e vírgula (;) a meio da segunda parte introduz uma nova fase que contrasta com a raiva e sofrimento pessoal, introduz o sofrimento do pai, um sofrimento escondido, e introduz as possíveis causas deste (a ideia da herança judaica, um “estigma” na sociedade americana, a ideia da deslocação e pouca adaptação). Esta quebra insinua a maturidade da mulher (está talvez aqui um pedido de desculpas implícito) quando esta se apercebe da raiva presente em si mas também das suas causas reais, uma espécie de “anger management”, de que Rich fala também no seu ensaio (“Both the victimization and the anger experienced by women are real, and have real sources, everywhere in the environment, built into society, language, the structures of thought (…). We can neither deny them, nor will we rest there.” – pág. 177, 2ºparágrafo).
            Podemos olhar para este poema como um complemento artístico a inúmeros pontos do ensaio. É neste poema que encontramos a realização da chamada “linguagem feminina”, algo a que Adrienne Rich apela em “When we dead awaken”, preenchida por pronomes, proveniente da experiência unicamente feminina, uma linguagem contrária à “cool writing” masculina [“(…) is the way men of the culture thought a writer should sound.” – pág. 169, 6ºparágrafo] também apropriada por escritoras como Virginia Woolf e Jane Austen mas que, segundo Rich, o que estas pretendiam dizer não era cumprido na totalidade por ainda estar sob o signo da sociedade patriarcal e da dominação pelo sexo masculino. Poeticamente, “Sources” é também a realização do processo de revisitação e a tomada de consciência feita de forma pacífica de que Rich fala. A passagem do registo pessoal para o geral é verificada tanto no ensaio (Rich parte da sua própria experiência para servir como exemplo) como no poema (recordemos a graduação pronominal que se dá ao longo de todo o texto) e contêm exactamente a mesma mensagem: a libertação e ascensão da Mulher são possíveis e comuns a qualquer uma. [«revision (…) is for women more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival, self-knowledge is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male dominated society. »].
“It is only, under a powerful, womanly lens, that I can decipher your suffering and deny no part of my own.”
Na música da banda Bikini Kill, “Daddy’s Li’l Girl”, a forma de revolta e recusa do modelo masculino é feita de forma diferente. Apesar do tema ser o mesmo, o peso das expectativas de um pai para com uma filha e a indulgência perante o sexo feminino, o registo é muito mais agressivo. A letra é muito mais directa e violenta: “Daddy’s li’l girl don’t wanna be his whore no more” ou “Didn’t know I’d have to lose myself for Daddy’s touch”. Kathleen Hanna, vocalista, transforma a opressão da figura feminina enquanto filha numa coisa extremamente violenta e sexual. A estratégia passa muito mais por chamar à atenção e provocar em comparação com a obra de Adrienne Rich, que se centrava nestas questões de uma forma mais cerebral. Em “Daddy’s Li’l Girl” os sentimentos são transmitidos de uma forma altamente emocional e descontrolada. Mas é aqui que entram as diferenças entre a arte literária e musical. As Bikini Kill usam de propósito o Punk como forma de alarmar a Mulher, ironicamente um genre musical maioritariamente dominado por homens. O problema da figura paternal já provinha de períodos passados, como se vê na poetisa que estudámos, daí a óbvia associação temática. Mas a diferença que mais ressalta é a forma de transmissão: o poema pretende dar relevância à linguagem feminina e a música faz passar a mensagem usando um modelo mais masculino de linguagem (um equivalente exagerado ao que Rich chama de “the misnaming and thwarting of her needs by a culture controlled by males” pág. 169, 5ºparágrafo) não deixando, no entanto, de estar adaptado à problemática feminina.
Esta ponte que pretendemos fazer prova então que o carácter revolucionário e perdurante da busca de soluções para a ascensão plena da Mulher (uma busca através de meios que variam de acordo com a época e situação) pode ser transmitido por inúmeros formatos de expressão artística. A mensagem poderá parecer mais ou menos deformada, mais ou menos directa, mas o cerne ligado a esta procura incansável mantém-se sempre: a mudança de paradigma e a construção de um sistema mais igualitário. 

                                    

The New Gerbil III


“The children cheered wildly”
And the rat cried sadly
“Speak! We command ye to speak”
But it cannot utter a single word…
It just looks wide eyed, waiting.

“Well, if thou cannot speak, dance!”
But still the rat looked on.
“What are you good for?”
The girl pressed on and on.
                                                On.



Another boy, who sat in the corner,
Looked, also scared at this totalitarian,
He said, “Well, it’s only a little rat!”
“Shut up, Allen!”
“But it is. You cannot expect it to…”
“Shush!”
“Understand.”

He got closer, she got closer, it freezed.
“Someone has to do as I say!”
“Why?!”
The rat squeaked. They looked.
“Because, look it can do things.”
“Not what you want”
“Hmmm…”

They continued to argue. While I,
I was bored, waiting for an end.
Waiting for a sun, waiting for clarity.
But on they went, like maddening tradesman
Discussing prices of stock.
It’s a bloody rat.
                                                Just another rat.

Bárbara Campos

The New Gerbil II


The children cheered wildly. Sebastian was holding a cute little gerbil. He said that if they behaved properly and kept quiet, they could have it. That was worse. The children were beginning to get over-excited by the look of the cute gerbil in Sebastian's hand, almost agressivly. All of a sudden, one of those vile creatures started to bite Sebastian's leg, and the other children followed the example. When everything was falling apart on Sebastian's life, a man suddenly appeared. Literally out of nowhere, like out of the sky. 'Help me! - said poor Sebastian followed by the carnivorous children. 'What? - said the man that came from the sky, whose name was Billy. Sebastian couldn't answer because of his urge, he was only capable of getting near Billy's strange figure. Suddenly, Billy took a glimpse at the poor Gerbil in Sebastian's mutilated hand and felt alarmed. He took it from Sebastian's hand and thus the crazy children's attention moved to Pilgrim's innocent body. When they were almost reaching Billy with they're sharp teeth, leaving Sebastian's bloody hands and legs and feet behind, he disappeared. The gerbil disappeared too, but not in Billy Pilgrim's embrace. The New Gerbil was forever lost in time, destined to turn other "innocent" children into Satan's evil minions. 


Lourenço Veiga

The New Gerbil - I

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Pussy Riot (2012): Santa Maria Livra-nos do Putin


Poema VI da Sequência "Sources" de Adrienne Rich (1986) em comparação com "Daddy's Li'l Girl" (1990)

proposta de Madalena e Lourenço:


Sources

VII

For years I struggled with you: your categories, your theories, your will, the cruelty which came inextricable from your love. For years all arguments I carried on in my head were with you. I saw myself, the eldest daughter raised as a son, taught to study but not to pray, taught to hold reading and writing sacred: the eldest daughter in a house with no son, she who must overthrow the father, take what he taught her and use it against him. All this in a castle of air, the floating world of the assimilated who know and deny they will always be aliens.

After your death I met you again as the face of patriarchy, could name at last precisely the principle you embodied, there was an ideology at last which let me dispose of you, identify the suffering you caused, hate you righteously as part of a system, the kingdom of the fathers. I saw the power and arrogance of the male as your true watermark; I did not see beneath it the suffering of the Jew, the alien stamp you bore, because you had deliberately arranged that it should be invisible to me. It is only, under a powerful, womanly lens, that I can decipher your suffering and deny no part of my own.




Daddy’s Li’l Girl
I have no desire
I can't feel a thing
I just want to make him happy
Daddy's little girl
Daddy's little girl
Daddy's girl don't wanna be
His whore no more
Food
Shelter
Love
I need to hold my tongue
I need to hold my tongue
Didn't know I'd have to lose so much
For Daddy's love
Didn't know I'd have to lost myself
For Daddy's touch
Listen!
Listen!
Listen!
Daddy has something to say
He has something for you to do
And he wants it done right now
And he wants you to do it his way

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Some info on Women's Rights Movements in the US

Particularly here

Adrienne Rich, "Orion" (1969)


Far back when I went zig-zagging
through tamarack pastures
you were my genius, you
my cast-iron Viking, my helmed
lion-heart king in prison.
Years later now you're young

my fierce half-brother, staring
down from that simplified west
your breast open, your belt dragged down
by an oldfashioned thing, a sword
the last bravado you won't give over
though it weighs you down as you stride

and the stars in it are dim
and maybe have stopped burning.
But you burn, and I know it;
as I throw back my head to take you in
and old transfusion happens again:
divine astronomy is nothing to it.

Indoors I bruise and blunder
break faith, leave ill enough
alone, a dead child born in the dark.
Night cracks up over the chimney,
pieces of time, frozen geodes
come showering down in the grate.

A man reaches behind my eyes
and finds them empty
a woman's head turns away
from my head in the mirror
children are dying my death
and eating crumbs of my life.

Pity is not your forte.
Calmly you ache up there
pinned aloft in your crow's nest,
my speechless pirate!
You take it all for granted
and when I look you back

it's with a starlike eye
shooting its cold and egotistical spear
where it can do least damage.
Breath deep! No hurt, no pardon
out here in the cold with you
you with your back to the wall.

News about Adrienne Rich's Death (2012)


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Donald Barthelme, "The School", presentation by Kajo and Katarina

Humor:
Although the humor can be considered dark, it is present throughout the story and usually through escalation. 
- It normally begins with ordinary situations that anybody can recognize like a classroom gardening project but then it escalates to death and how to approach life values.
- The narrator's calm tone adds up to this theme because it never rises to a high pitch, and this monotonous way of telling the story actually makes it funnier in my opinion.
-  The narrator builds a large sequence of deaths so that the readers eventually find humor in death which is very unusual because death is normally a serious matter.
-  Starting from a tree, to reptiles and rodents, to puppies and finally to humans. One can say that there is a moral lesson in this story and it's that life is a school where we are supposed to learn and death is inevitable.

Elements of grotesque:
-  Story of death is told in non serious language.
-  The situation that should be traumatic is treated normally.
-  Role reversal in language: Teacher speaks like a pupil, children use formal philosophical language.
-  Elements emerge without a cause – deaths, philosophical question, Helen.
-  The situation that should be traumatic is treated normally which causes surrealistic/oneiric atmosphere.
-  One may argue that the story has neither a real beginning nor a real endubg. The reader may have a feeling that the end it is only another episode of the story that will be repeated endlessly.

Sense of time and post modernism:

- In postmodern literature time doesn't necessarily need to go in chronological order. This means that there can be flashbacks or distortions in time, and this is something that caught our attention in the story.
- The narrator talks about the snakes, and the Korean kid... etc and we don't know when exactly this is happening. No clear indication of when the action is happening.
- Later the narrator talks about a discussion they had “ONE” day in class. Again, this is very uncertain, and could be considered a flashback, as we don't know when the “ONE” day actually was.

Insecurity as a postmodern trait:

- Postmodern literature is often ambiguous and certain things are unclear. Insecurity is a present theme in this short story, I get a sense that the narrator might be doubting himself very often. Sometimes there are questions or issues present in the story but the narrator doesn't know the answer or has a very ambiguous answer. An example of this is the language used in the story, such as “I don't know” or “You know what I mean”. 

Language:
-  Using colloquial language causes a sense of disbelief.
-  Narrator plays with decorum, switching from informal to formal language.
-  Way of expression of the first-person narrator may be taken as directly addressing the reader, or as an inner dialogue with hitself.


Poema "Naturalmente ao Contrário" (de Cláudia e Christian)


Naturalmente ao contrário

Ocorrem, em sentido inverso
As imagens já passadas
São imagens descritas em verso
Sobre fardas ensanguentadas.

Corpos, sem dono, abandonados,
Balas que sobrevoam o chão,
Meninos que aqui foram deixados,
Nada mais que carne para canhão.

Os corpos voltam à vida lentamente,
As asas caídas retornam a voar,
As balas são recolhidas novamente,
Tudo o que era vivo, retorna ao seu lugar.

Bombas que deixam de o ser,
Aviões retornados às suas bases,
Hoje há um belo amanhecer,
Dias assim, na guerra, são fugazes.

Memória Descritiva do processo de composição do poema "Naturalmente ao Contrário" (de Cláudia e Christian)


Título – “Naturalmente ao contrário”, tem um significado muito simples e está directamente relacionado com a obra, com o personagem Billy e com a cena aqui retratada.
“Naturalmente” refere-se ao estado débil de saúde de Billy. Billy, tendo problemas do foro psicológico, devido ao trauma que a guerra lhe causou, acaba por fazer coisas que outros personagens, estando mentalmente saudáveis, não fazem. Uma dessas coisas é quando Billy decide visualizar um filme que tinha visto. E como é que Billy visualiza o filme? Visualiza-o ao contrário. Para ele, é natural fazer tal coisa. Para nós, não. Quando vemos um filme, fazemo-lo pela ordem que o vimos, nunca o vamos visualizar do fim para o início. Daí termos utilizado o advérbio “naturalmente”.
Em relação ao uso da palavra “contrário”, tem a ver com o que já explicamos acima. Ele visualiza o filme de trás para a frente, logo ele visualiza o filme ao contrário.
1ª Estrofe, 1º e 2º Versos
Através dos dois primeiros versos explicamos que o poema que se segue será, tal como o que acontece no livro, uma cena passada do fim para o início.
“Ocorrem, em sentido inverso, / As imagens já passadas” – vamos contar algo que vimos, pelo fim. É isto que o personagem Billy faz na cena. Ele vai ver o filme do fim para o início. – A passagem onde esta cena acontece na obra é a seguinte: “It was a movie about American bombers in the Second World War and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this:” (página 38, linhas 10-11)
1ª Estrofe, 3º Verso
Este verso não tem qualquer ligação com a cena do livro porque na obra esta cena é retratada em narrativa. Este foi um verso que acrescentamos para dar a ideia de que vamos apenas resumir a cena da obra, vamos recriá-la da forma que achámos mais adequada.
1ª Estrofe, 4º Verso e 2ª Estrofe, 1º verso
Este é o primeiro verso que começa a descrever o que se passa no filme que Billy está a rever mentalmente. Na obra está escrito o seguinte: “American planes, full of holes and wounded men” (página 38, linha 12). A primeira imagem que nos veio à mente foi uma farda ensanguentada. O verso seguinte, “corpos, sem dono, abandonados”, tem a mesma inspiração. Eram meros objectos que foram derrubados pelo inimigo e agora jazem naquele sítio e dali não irão sair mais. De homens passaram a nada.
2ª Estrofe, 2º Verso
“Balas que sobrevoam o chão” – remete-nos para a seguinte descrição: “sucked bullets and shell fragments” (página 38, linha 14). O mesmo processo que foi usado na obra está a ser usado aqui. É uma imagem vista do fim para o início.
2ª Estrofe, 3º e 4º Versos
“Meninos que aqui foram deixados / Nada mais que carne para canhão”
Estes dois versos não têm uma ligação directa com a cena mas sim com a obra no geral. Na parte em que usamos a palavra “meninos”, estamos a referir-nos a um dos principais temas debatidos na obra que é o facto de para a guerra serem levados jovens / crianças. O 4º verso está direccionado para o que se passa na guerra e está directamente relacionado com o 1º verso desta mesma estrofe. Aqueles meninos que iam para a guerra eram objectos de combate e quando morriam no meio destas explosões e ataques eram simplesmente substituídos por outros meninos.
3ª Estrofe
Esta estrofe está relacionada com a cena em que Billy começa a chegar, digamos, a meio do filme e os corpos que estavam deitados e as balas que estavam no ar começam a recuar no tempo e começam a regressar ao seu lugar de partida. “Over France a few German fighter planes flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments” (página 38, linhas 13-14).
4ª Estrofe
“Bombas que deixam de o ser / Aviões retornados às suas bases” – estes dois versos remetem para o seguinte passo; “When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals.” (página 38, linhas 25-27) – esta passagem remete-nos para a construção das bombas. As bombas que já tinham explodido voltam para o sítio de onde vieram e, a partir daí, são levadas para o seu local de construção.
“Hoje há um belo amanhecer / Dias assim na guerra são fugazes” – estes dois versos não têm nenhuma ligação à cena que se está a passar no filme, porém, na nossa opinião consideramos ser uma boa forma para terminar o poema. Tendo em conta que tudo volta ao seu início, os homens que estavam mortos voltam à vida, as bombas que foram explodidas voltam às fábricas onde foram feitas, logo o dia volta ao seu início.
O último adjetivo, “fugazes”, no fundo, remete para todo o poema. Os dias que, aparentemente serão calmos, são fugazes – como vimos aqui – os soldados acordaram, acreditaram que ia ser um dia sem qualquer conflito e umas horas mais tarde estavam a ser bombardeados e baleados. Na guerra nunca se sabe quando ou o quê irá terminar. Tudo é fugaz na guerra – a felicidade, os dias sem conflitos e a vida.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

George Saunders, sobre "The School", de Donald Barthelme e escrita criativa

http://paulsaxton.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/saunders-barthelme-a.pdf

in Come Back, Donald Barthelme, ed. Dave Eggaes, San Francisco : McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, [2007]

Billy Pilgrim's Letter about Tralfamadorians (Vanessa Ideias, Ana Durão e Marta)

    The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
'When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in a bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "so it goes."
    They pretty much resemble what we today call a plumber's friend. They are green in color - a very flashy green, in fact – and about two feet high, having their so called suction cups on the ground, working as a single foot on which they manage to stand. They also possess a single eye in the middle of their heads, which happen to be shaped like hands. That is because their intelligence resides in their actions. They see with their hands and they also think with their hands, immediately turning their thoughts into actions. They are quite admirable, the Tralfamadorians. With their way of facing life and death and so on. They also have no free-will. And that makes things so much less complicated.

    Now that I think about it, I remember I have written about their appearance before. It doesn't matter. Let us just say this repetition of information serves to keep a very fresh and vivid image of these creatures in your minds, just in case you happen to forget. In fact, I have even taken the liberty of water-coloring one of these extraterrestrial beings myself, just for your viewing pleasure:
 I told you before they looked like plumbers' friends.
And to think a creature like the one you have just now seen was capable of getting me displayed in a Tralfamadorian Zoo.
    It was a strange place, the Tralfamadorian Zoo. Lonely. But I was given everything I needed for survival there.
    I had visits every single day. Not actual visits, but curious Tralfamadorians who very much wanted to see the new creature displayed at the Zoo. The sight of me apparently made them extremely happy for some reason. All I had to do was my usual everyday routine and that had them screeching in euphoria. Telepathically, of course. Because that's how they do it. That's how they communicate.
    Suddenly, one fateful day, I was not alone in that exhibit anymore. Another human, a woman, had been thrown inside the same exhibit as me. Her name was Montana Wildhack. They expected us to mate. And so we did. We had a child. I know nothing of that child today. He or she is probably not a child anymore. It could even be dead, for all I know. So it goes.
    I should have probably finished writing this letter long ago, but I suppose I got carried away.

Eagerly awaiting a response,



Prezi das colegas aqui


E ainda links para "crash courses":
Parte 1: http://youtu.be/F6g7S2W27Kc
Parte 2: http://youtu.be/HyKhIiGKq5M

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Philip K. Dick sobre realismo...


HOW TO BUILD A WORLD THAT DOESN'T FALL APART TWO DAYS LATER
 
(...)
So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.
Of course, I would say this, because I live near Disneyland, and they are always adding new rides and destroying old ones. Disneyland is an evolving organism. For years they had the Lincoln Simulacrum, like Lincoln himself, was only a temporary form which matter and energy take and then lose. The same is true of each of us, like it or not.

Philip K. Dick, 1978 in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick  Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings. Ed. Lawrence Sutin, Nova Iorque: Vintage Books, 1995, 180-195.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Correct Calendar for Post 1945 US Literature - from November 2014


3 Nov
14
Sylvia Plath
3
Bárbara and Ana F. / Vaessa and Rafaela
5 Nov
15
Thomas Pynchon, “Entropy”. (1960-1984)
3

10 Nov
16
Kurt Vonnegut (introd) + Slaughterhouse 5 (1969)


12 Nov
17
Slaughterhouse 5 + entrega e correção dos exercícios escitos
3
Vanessa Ideias, Ana Durão, Marta
17 Nov
18
Slaughterhouse 5 (1969)
3
Claudia Silva and Kristian J.
19 Nov
19
Donald Barthelme, “The School” (1976) + exercício de escrita criativa


Catarina and Cajo
24 Noc
20
Adrienne Rich, “When we Dead Awaken” (1973) + Poemas
3
Madalena and Lourenço
26 Nov
21
Poemas de A. Rich; intr. Toni Morrison


1 Dez
22
Toni Morrison, “Recitatif” (1983)
3
Irem Filiz and Seray
3 Dez
23
A. M. Homes, “Jim Train” (1990)
3
Tiago, Clara and Caio
8 Dez

Holiday


10 Dez
24
Sherman Alexie, The True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2004)
3
Cristiana, Patrícia, Madalena
15 Dez
25
Cormac McCarthy, Sunset Limited (2007)
3
André, Filipe, Sofia
17 Dez
26
Continuação da aula anterior + revisão para o teste



Correct Calendar for Post 1945 US Literature – from November 2014