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Sep. 6th, 2011

Currently loving Lady Antebellum's "Just A Kiss" video - if only a handsome guy would sit next to me on the bus while I'm abroad. Not bloody likely!

Sunday, Sunday

Florence and the Machine has become my new "play over and over again" music.  Going to head down to dinner with Ky and then on a Target run - I need groceries and she needs gloves (and eyeliner) for her trip to New York to interview for Christie's Art Institute.

I know I hardly ever update here, but I really should. Yesterday proved that. Even if no one reads this, it's good sometimes just to get this out.

"Strangeness & Charm" - that's all I have left.

Missing London and wandering in the rain like nobody's business. At least there was a good stormy day yesterday.

Also, anyone who reads this (ha!) and is in the L.A. area should go see the Dangerous Beauty Musical in Pasadena - quite good!

All my best,

bb_07

Sad News for an Update

Well, it just seems that when it rains it pours, as usual. Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson.
So much sickness and death. it is said that we cannot fully have the happiness without the pain ,but i'm not sure.

Trying to finish strong...

So I have been noticeably, to anyone who has been watching, basically not really then, but anyway, absent from LJ for the past week and a half - I am getting into that part of the semester when schoolwork really has to become my main focus.
Hope to see you soon,
bb_07

For Tomorrow...


John Donne, VII, from Holy Sonnets

At the round earths imagin'd corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angels; and arise, arise
From death, you numberless infinities
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go:
All whom the flood did, and fire shall, o'erthrow,
All whom war, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance, hath slain, and you whose eyes
Shall behold God, and never taste death's woe.
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space;
For, if above all these, my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of thy grace
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach mee how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood.
 
Behold... My Future
  I will marry Ian.  
  After a wild honeymoon, We will settle down in san diego in our fabulous Mansion.  
  We will have 2 kid(s) together.  
  Our family will zoom around in a blue bug.
  I will spend my days as a professor, and live happily ever after.  
 
whats your future
 

Just sharing...


you shall above all things be glad and young.
For if you're young,whatever life you wear

it will become you;and if you are glad
whatever's living will yourself become.
Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:
i can entirely her only love

whose any mystery makes every man's
flesh put space on;and his mind take off time

that you should ever think,may god forbid
and(in his mercy)your true lover spare:
for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave
called progress,and negation's dead undoom.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

-- e e cummings
 

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Dover Beach



Dover Beach

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

 

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

 

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

 

By Matthew Arnold

 

My Professor of Mjr Amer/Brtsh Authors from 1660, does not really like the Victorians (the literary movement of which Matthew Arnold is a part). However, this is a survey course, and it is impossible to skip Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach" which is exemplifies all the qualities of Victorian poetry: depressed, losing faith, no answers in the world, love as the last recourse. Professor Adams said that when he reads this poem he is always worried that Arnold just might take a dive from the window and into the sea. Despite all the sadness, I love this poem. I love the way it sounds when you read it, as if you can hear the roar of the waves coming in against the beach. You might be standing at the window with him. In class, our Professor pointed out that Arnold is asking a serious question with this poem: How do we deal with our depression? With a seemingly complete lack of hope in the world around us? The Victorian age was characterized by a new social consciousness. People wrote about poverty, slavery, the evils of industry, Karl Marx was writing the Communist Manifesto. In England, the 1840s were known as the Troubled Times. Arnold had a lot to be doubtful about.

 

We begin the American Victorians next week, which my Prof promises will be even more depressing. However, his specialty is American Lit, so he likes it a bit more. I love this class, it is so much fun to talk about poetry and short stories. We just finished doing Hard Times by Charles Dickens as part of the British Victorian section. I love Dickens's writing.  Apparently, it is rare to like both Austen and Dickens, but i am in general a lover of all literature, though i certainly like some things more than others.
 
(The picture is not of Dover Beach in England, but rather the Washington coast from spring break last year.)
 

Essay to share


The Reconciliation of Stars and Earthworms

There are two poles to the earth: North and South. In our gravity-oriented brains, North points to the distant black sky stretched with stars, and South spirals to the basement of earth till the dirt above is as immense and as black as the night. In our duality-oriented brains—in our brains that process ideas and motives into good and bad categories—comes the question of “either/or.” Where do you want to love? Among the transcendent stars? Or among the blind earthworms, their dreams and loves as absurd and real as ours? Love then has two poles. However, let us leave our brains, and think with our hearts. There is no good or bad, only two ways of loving. What do the two poles have in common besides loving? Laughter.

The two poles of comedic love shelter many diverse lovers. Dante, his face closest to that velvet night, floats near the pole of self-transcendence with his La Commedia. At the opposite end dwells Aristophanes. He is quite comfortable among the earthworms who are no more absurd than his loving hermaphrodites, tumbling happily on the earth. These two poles are seeming opposites. Is there no reconciliation between earthworms and stars? For humans are neither stars nor earthworms. A middle space is necessary for the lovers with two legs and arms and one flawed heart. In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the author Milan Kundera explores this middle space through his two characters, Tereza and Tomas. Both struggle with earth and stars; both manage to come to rest together simultaneously on earth and in flight with nocturnal butterflies. Their road is not without its ruts and breakdowns; their struggle is just that, a constant moving against that old duality begun in Ancient Greece. To understand the value of their final resting space, it is necessary to travel that same road from Ancient Greece to Florence, Italy, and finally to Prague. Absurdity and self-transcendence mix to create an odd love potion: poignancy.

Let us begin with the first ingredient: absurdity. Aristophanes, the comic king, reclines on a couch at Agathon’s banquet and begins his speech about Love thus, “Don’t think I’m afraid of saying something funny—that would be pure profit and typical of my Muse—but of saying something ludicrous” (Plato, 22). What in life escapes Aristophanes’ Muse? Certainly not love which is so wholly suited to the ridiculous. Yet as silly and improbable as Aristophanes’ four legged lovers are, their sorrowful tale is not ludicrous. It is impossible to mock the whole children of the sun and the earth split into two. Their wound is physical and spiritual, and it is one we are each born with, a mark on our soul. The hermaphrodites’ solution is an earthy one; to cling for life, “They threw their arms round each other, weaving themselves together, wanting to form a single living thing. So they died from hunger and from general inactivity, because they did not want to do anything apart from each other” (24). Their solution is laughable, but sad as well. It is a kind of laughing that hurts. To die from loneliness and a lack of self is frightening and a possibility to all those who do not find the half that they tumbled with.

Another earthy lover of Greece is Anacreon. His absurdity lies not in his clever wit, but in his unsuitable love objects: young boys who want very little of his wisdom if it is to come with a middle-aged body. Unlike Aristophanes’ hermaphrodites, Anacreon does not cling to his match. In age, at least, his matches are misses. His “To Cleobulus” describes such a miss:

Soft-eyed, a girl’s, your face is…
Unheard I plead: unknown
My soul takes on the traces
And moves by you alone. (Translated by T.F. Higham)

The comparison to a girl’s face suggests that the beloved of this poem is a beardless youth, oblivious to Anacreon’s desires. His chase of the young boys is lecherous and ridiculous. It is earthy and has much to do with physical desire, but that does not take away from its sadness. Anacreon suffers from the same wound as the hermaphrodites, and his solution is just as physical.

Anacreon and Aristophanes bring forth laughter at their plight and clever love speeches. However, neither provides a happy ending. It is Dante Alighieri who gives us a relatively happy ending in love. His self-transcendence brings him peace in his love in La Commedia which is aptly named, for a comedy ends in marriage. Dante’s marriage is not between himself and his beloved Beatrice, but between himself and God. It is Beatrice’s love that has led him to the Mystic Rose high above the earth, high above those very physical hermaphrodites. In fact, Dante’s guide, Bernard, tells Dante:

“Dear son of Grace,” he said, “you cannot know
this state of bliss while you yet keep your eyes
fixed only on those things that lie below. (Lines 113-114)

Bernard might as well have been speaking of those absurd earthworms and the four-legged lovers. Dante travels a different path than those lovers. His path does not lead to love, it is love, and it is this loving path that leads ultimately to a self-transcendence and to God. His comedy is a different brand than that of Aristophanes and Anacreon. No one laughs at Dante, yet his sublime experience lends itself to a kind of happy ending. He is unable to hold his Beatrice, but he beholds her beneath the universal lamp of God. Instead of clinging and dying, he lets go and flies to the Rose.

How does the love of Tereza and Tomas unite the two poles of comedic love? The clinging and the flying, the earthworms and the stars, seem impossible to combine. However, Kundera, a post-modern novelist, is able to draw on the comedic traditions of Aristophanes as well as Dante. This is evident in his use of Beethoven in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Beethoven is a part of the “six laughable fortuities” (Kundera, 239) that brought Tereza and Tomas together, and it is Beethoven that presents to Tomas Es muss sein, or it must be. Tomas struggles with the weight of Es muss sein when it comes to loving Tereza. Is she really his other half? Or is she a placeholder until that time when he meets the perfect woman? These questions become silly when Kundera tells the reader that the joke of Es muss sein is on Tomas. Beethoven’s musical composition of Es muss sein began with a man named Dembscher who owed Beethoven money, and was reluctant to part with his purse. Beethoven’s response is a hearty laugh and Es muss sein! It must be begins with a joke, much like Aristophanes hermaphrodites. However it transcends its original meaning:

A year later, the same motif showed up as the basis for the fourth movement of the last quartet, Opus 135. By that time, Beethoven had forgotten about Dembscher’s purse. The words “Es muss sein” had acquired a much more solemn ring; they seemed to issue directly from the lips of Fate. . . . “Es muss sein!” was no longer a joke; it had become “der schwer gefasste Entschluss” (the difficult or weighty resolution). (195)

Tomas’s “difficult and weighty resolution” (195) is built entirely on a pecuniary joke. It is the joke’s transcendence that causes Tomas so much trouble. Is Tereza his Fate, his Es muss sein?

Tomas’s answer to Fate is to supposedly reject its decree. It is a supposed rejection because he believes that in choosing Tereza again and again, he disdains Fate. However, Tomas knows as much about the mind of Fate as the earthworms; that is, not very much. He has a dream about the woman of his Es muss sein, and it is not Tereza. It is a nameless woman who exists only in the house of his personal paradise. What Tomas discovers through this act of the imagination is that abandoning Tereza is impossible:

He tried to picture himself living in an ideal world with the young woman from the dream. He sees Tereza walking past the open windows of their ideal house. She is alone and stops to look in at him with an infinitely sad expression in her eyes. He cannot withstand her glance. Again, he feels her pain in his own heart. Again, he falls prey to compassion and sinks deep into her soul. . . . he knows that time and again he will abandon the house of his happiness, time and again abandon his paradise and the woman from his dream and betray the “Es muss sein!” of his love to go off with Tereza, the woman born of six laughable fortuities. (239)

Tomas, the atheist, defies his only omniscient force, Fate, for his love of Tereza. Tomas chooses her again and again despite the joke of Fate, Es muss sein. In this way, he combines the transcendence of Dante and the earthy choice of Aristophanes’ hermaphrodites. He clings to Tereza above Fate and above his own desires.

Tomas and Tereza create their own way of loving that combines self-transcendence and earthy choice. They find that middle space between the two poles of comedic love. In the seventh chapter, the chapter of rest, Tereza and Tomas come to the place of their idyll. It is the countryside of Czechoslovakia, strictly regimented by the Soviet work leaders and comrades. Despite this, it is a sort of Eden, a place outside of time. It is in this Eden that Tomas and Tereza stop struggling and just love. It is Tereza who realizes the form their love has taken:

On they danced to the strains of the piano and violin. Tereza leaned her head on Tomas’s shoulder. Just as she had when they flew together in the airplane through the storm clouds. She was experiencing the same odd happiness and odd sadness as then. The sadness meant: we are at the last station. The happiness meant: we are together. The sadness was form, the happiness content. Happiness filled the space of sadness. (313-314)

The sadness of the last station is the same sadness of Aristophanes’ hermaphrodites whose last station is in each other’s arms. The happiness is the self-transcendence of Dante—eternally flying through storm clouds above the earth.

In the end, Tomas and Tereza do not make a choice between earthworms and stars, between the weight of the earth and lightness of the atmosphere. Their love is a weight that lifts them, propels them out of themselves, creating something greater. In their middle space, the place their love takes form, earthworms and hermaphrodites mingle with Dante and his stars. It is topsy-turvy, the air mixed with the earth, but it is perhaps the only place for post-modern lovers such as Tomas and Tereza, such as me. My feet pressed into the mud among the worms, my dreams spiraling to the clouds, transcending the tree tops, I wait for the other tumbling half of myself; countless other dreamers, countless other feet in mud long for the same light weight that will lift them like Tomas and Tereza. It is just a matter of waiting for that restful seventh chapter; a move to Eden and the discovery of the form of love: happiness and sadness.

Finally got to see...



In Mumbai, India an eighteen year old tea server somehow wins the Indian version of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" The people of Mumbai adore him, love him. His success is surprising considering his background. He isn't a professor, he's never had regular school. All his life he's been struggling out of the muck and trash of the slum. For this reason he is accused of cheating just before the million dollar question and taken in by the Mumbai police for "questionning." Slowly, they ask the questions, and he answers. What unfolds is a radiant love story, a story of destiny. There are slums, trash heaps, Indian gangstas, a burning man, a beautiful kiss, a scarred girl in a yellow scarf, two brothers, and three musketeers.

 

This is one of the best movies I have seen in theaters in a long time. I was told to go see it by my Professor of Social Class and Inequality because it connected to our course and, hey, its just a good movie. I can definitely see how it connects to my class, the stark contrast between Mumbai's shanties and the glitzy host of "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" It's a movie about perseverance, determination, and a young man who refuses to let go of his destiny.

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