Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Goodbye to the Blog

Well, this is it. This is my last post. When the semester first started, I was able to pick my font for my posts, and I'm not able to do that anymore. For some reason Verdana font inspired me. I felt like my posts were more insightful and thoughtful when I could use Verdana. Now I just focus on this ugle Times New Roman and do not know what to do with myself.
The only assignment left to do for this class is the final exam. I feel as though I am doing really well in this class, and really want to well on the final. At the moment I'm trying to decide which term/theorist I want to write about that we did not go over in class. I, like most people probably, have narrowed it down to: "de Man," "logocentrism," and "queer theory."
I am enjoying reading about the afterlife of theory according to de man, although I do not know if I want to choose it. We briefly discussed logocentrism in class, and what I am reading about it is interesting....and queer theory, I don't know about that. I feel like a lot of what I'm reading about queer theory are individual intrepretations, and I'm not finding any actual definition. I think I'm going to use the Barry book, and I'll see from there if I want to go with queer theory.

This class was amazing, though. I have never been so challenged by a class, and used it in the world as much as I have with this class. I'm always thinking about the hyperreal now, and recently just read White Noise. For those in the class who were inspired by postmodernism and want to read a novel analyzing the hyperreal, read White Noise. I'm very observant of my surroundings and my reality after this class. I think being in the city really added to the impact of this class becauuse a lot of what we learned about, we are surrounded by. I'm studying abroad in New Zealand next semester, and am really looking forward to comparing Boston's hyperreality to this small town in mountains I'll be moving to. I'm sure once I return home I'll have even more insights.
What I liked most about this class was that it inspired me and influenced me to challenge my environment. I questioned it, I analyzed it, I challenged other to question and analyze it. My two favorite topics we covered in class are postmodernism and deconstructionism. There cannot be any stable or fixed truths in a hyperreality. At first this thought paralyzes me and makes me upset, but then I think of all the vast potential that statement has - if there are no truths, we are truly bound by nothing and are free creatures with the ability to create our own individual worlds. We must take full responsibilty for our actions and our choices. They are precious to us, and they are our own.
Thank you, class, for an interesting and thoughtful semester! Thank you, Dr. McGuire, for leading our class through the tunnels and wonders of theory. I wish you all happiness for your future engagements, and have a wonderful winter break!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Thank you, Tonya Krouse for the wonderful post. It sparked a lot of thoughts and ideas, which some of the other guest post have not done. I would like to start by saying I especially liked the section where Tonya talked about Woolf's essay, A Room of One's Own, and the section on anti-pornography feminists. Virginia Woolf is one of my favorie writers. I read a few of her books over the summer and a published journal of hers and found her writing style very captivating, so I was excited when Tonya mentioned her in her post. I have not yet read A Room of One's Own, so I cannot say much about it, but this post have definitely inspired me to read it soon.
I also enjoyed reading the section on anti-pornography feminists because I share similiar feelings about pornography, yet have not been able to articulate myself as well as Tonya did in her post when asked to argue my opinion. I definitely see it as an objectification of women, and the real-life consequences of rape and violence it may inspire. When a woman's body is reduced to an object, it loses power.
I see the same idea in advertising. In commercials, especially food commericals, it may show a woman cooking for her husband and family, yet there is nevr a man cooking for his family. If he is shown cooking, the kitchen is either in flames, or he is making a cup of CHUNKY soup, advertised by strong athletes. The woman is shown as a dainty image, cooking for her family. When a woman is shown in a role of "power" it is a Victoria's Secret ad or some flashy image of a half-exposed body. This is ironic because I don't believe that showing a woman as a sex object is empowering.
To answer one of your questions, I think anyone can "do" feminist theory or be a feminist if they stand for an equality among genders. I do not think there should be discrimination of male or females or anything in between and beyond. To be a feminist to encourage a society of equality, to raise an awareness of issues and discrimination.
Thank you for your post, Tonya, I greatly enjoyed reading it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


For my close reading on Mantissa, I'm chose the passage on page 164 where Erato says, "'Everything must be 'real,' or it doesn't exist. You know perfectly well the real 'real' me is imaginary. I'm only being real in your sense because you want me to be.'" I read this as both postmodernism (more specifically Baudrillard's idea of hyperreality), and as Lacanian, concerning the real and the imaginary.
Lacan came to mind when I read this because Lacan says the imaginary is the split between the real self and the incoherent self, between self and other. While reading this book, I've been reading it in a few different ways. One of which being that Erato is Miles Green's feminine half, and full recovery would mean a merging of these two characters, which is shown through sexuality. However, Erato is also Miles Green's fantasy(ies), and Lacan says that the 'real' is the end of fantasies, but it would be traumatic for the individual if they ever did reach the 'real.' This could be seen as an outline of the relationship between the two throughout the story.
Lacan also says that one will journey through life judging through "the other" - Erato may also stand as "the other," and Miles is judging his life through her...also, the 'symbolic' comes into play because once one moves into the symbolic, one becomes a subject of language and representation, and how we experience ourselves is not through the 'real' - it is through the symbolic - and although this is not part of the passage I chose, at the end of the novel Miles and Erato are talking about how they want to enter a "text without words" - they want to be void of all dialogue. I see this as a desire to leave the symbolic and enter the real, no matter how traumatic and impossible it may be. They see that as the ultimate goal, as Lacan saw it, but something impossible to capture.
I thought of it in a hyperreality sense, too, especially when she says, "'You know perfectly well the real 'real' me is imaginary. I'm only being real in your sense because you want me to be.'" This made me think kind of the Matrix where Neo finally realizes that he can stop the bullets, that he can create his own reality, kind of like Miles at times in Mantissa, and Erato fits into this because Miles imagines her into his reality, even though she herself is imaginary in the 'real.'
The relationship between Erato and Miles is a very interesting one. Maybe the entire novel is a similacrum. Maybe its a play on the self and the other; they are split and its creating a repetitive "that's me, but not me" as Miles struggles to see himself as a coherent self, while trapped in his own mind, battling and loving this Erato character, who could be his feminine half, could be his ID, his subconscious, his "ideal image" of himself...I'm curious as to what others think. I feel as though I need to reread this book again, that it barely clicked the first time and maybe a second reading would bring things together more. Are we even supposed to arrive at answers?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Essay Topic

I had a somewhat difficult time deciding on what I want to write my essay on. I narrowed it down to post structuralism, structuralism, and psychoanalytic theory...and I knew I wanted to write about either Faulkner or Kerouac's work because they are two of my favorite authors. Finally, after a lot of panic and stress, I finally decided upon a mix of psychoanaysis and new historicism, and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Now that I have actually decided upon this topic, I am still in somewhat of a panic mode, for I fear I have taken on a heavy challenge.
I chose Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying because it is one of my favorite novels, and I feel as though there are a variety of areas where the character's repressions, fears, and desires relate heavily to the culture of the time period. There is also a lot of symbolism that does that as well.
For those who have not read the novel, I will tell you a little about it. It is about the Bundren family, in a small town in Mississippi, who set off on a journey to Jefferson, Mississippi to bury their dead mother, Addid Bundren. The story takes place in the 1930's, and much of the novel reflects what life is like for the Bundren family during this time period living in America. The novel consists of 40-something interior monologues; each chapter is a character's thought process, so the reader gets to know each character through their reflections and insights concerning reality and how they feel about their mother's death. Even the dead mother has her own chapter (which is probably my favorite). The novel is insane - this adventure to Jefferson to bury her corpse turns into an epic journey through which the Bundren family easily has become my favorite Faulkner family. For those who have read it, maybe you agree.
So I plan on using the interior monologues to uncover repressions and fears in the text, presented by the characters, and relate this in a new historicism way, by writing about how these things relate to the time period and location. I think this was a constant goal of Faulkner's in his novels, so I hope I am successfully able to achieve my goal. Sound good? I hope so.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Reflection on Ken's Post

I enjoyed Ken's entire post; I found it easy to understand, and it was a constant, steady flow, laying out different ideas and showing how they relate to one another. The part of the post I especially enjoyed was when he was talking about how different critical theorists simply invented these theories and concepts, they didn't actually discover them like something scientific.
I don't know how right I am about this, but I think that Baudrillard and Derrida would have some similiar thoughts about this. Derrida says every structure can be decentered, thus there are no stable or fixed truths. And when Ken was summarizing Baudrillard's thoughts on the Marxist idea of the commodity and the concepts of use-value and exchange-value, Derrida popped into my head and I immediately connected this idea with Derrida's that there cannot be any fixed truths. Baudrillard does not was to rescue reality, in fact it seems like he thinks this would be foolish or near impossible, that instead we should focus on rescuing illusion and keeping illusion alive. Wouldn't this relate to Derrida who believes we also must not focus on rescuing the real because the real isn't possible, that this all is an illusion? Lacan even, saying that if we ever reached the real we would be in a state of traumatic shock. These theorists invent these concepts to better explain our situation as human beings. That we must question and be curious about what happens around us, we cannot simply just take things how they are.
Our capitialist society is a good example of this. What I probably found the most interesting part of Ken's post was his comment on the 200 something trillion dollars American owe in credit. That is A LOT of consumer debt, and this is what keeps our country going. This fake, monopoly money is what makes up our country and makes us so strong and powerful. But this money is just an illusion. We consume therefore we are.
I also liked how Ken compared structuralism and Saussure's ideas about signs and the signified and signifier and related this to use-value and exchange-value. It really helped me looked at currency and its system in a new way, in a frightening way. What did others think of this comparison, and the statement on consumer debt? Did that make anyone else angry?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Foucault says that "the task of criticism is not to bring out the work's relationships with the author..." When reading this, I had a variety of mixed feelings. First, I disagreed with Foucault, a part of me thinks it is very necessary to show the relationship between the author and the work. The work is created by the author, therefore it is a part of the author, designed from the author's mind, and it may be important to acknowledge the author, and understand why in fact the work was produced. Then, I also agreed with Foucault, especially at the end of his essay when he says, "What difference does it make who is speaking?" Because the words, the message of the work is what is important, not who wrote it. However, not always, but in some works, in order to understand the text more clearly or deeply, the author must be brought into consideration. They are connected, and to disregard this connection, to say it doesn't matter who wrote the work, I think is somewhat foolish. Also, why is this such as issue? Even if the author isn't mentioned, if they are popular enough, normally just from reading a work the author could easily be named from their distinct writing style.

I found a blog on "ghostblogging," which I believe means having someone else, other than the original writer, write in one's blog, or that someone claims credit for writing the blog who did not actually write the blog. The blog also discusses "blog authorship." These are all new terms to me, since I am new to the "blog world." This individual believes that the author of a blog should not be reflected in the text, but the blog is also not independent of its original author. My first question is, how does one know if a blog is ghostwritten? That doesn't seem possible to me unless someone walks in on someone updating someone else's blog. Besides trying to prove that the writing style does not match previous writing styles, I don't see how this can be proven. Even when noticing different writing styles, I still do not see how this could be proven.
This blogger is talking about having others update a CEO blog, and how that would be no different from having someone give a newspaper interview under your name. This I believe is true.

Dr. McGuire, I am sorry if this blog seems lacking in any way, I've spent the majority of today at the hospital being diagnosed for pneumonia, and my head the past few days has not absorbed the reading very well. I attempted the post on monday, but could not publish what I wrote because it sounded awful when I reread it, and I find myself in the same problem today, but it is past 5 o'clock and I have no choice but to post. Foucault's essay was difficult for me to grasp, and I will reread it in hopes that I understand it better. I am sorry again, I just do not feel as though this post wasm y best work.

Also, the other picture on the cover of the book that is not an apple, is not a cat, and is not Derrida, is Barthes, correct?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

After reading about Psychoanalytic theory in the Barry book, I had a lot of questions.
First, Freud says our unconscious is in control of our minds. So, how can Freud accurately analyze and diagnose someone's unconscious behavior and thinking if his unconscious is in control of his mind? He would be attempting to analyze the unconscious with the unconscious, and that just doesn't seem possible. Or, rather, it seems possible, yet how could that be a validating diagnose or analysis?
I have a Spirituality and Mysticism class directly after Critical Theory and the Academy; polar opposite classes back to back. First I will be in class thinking about Derrida, and how if everything is a structure, and every structure can be decentered, resulting with universe that holds zero fixed and stable truths...where does that put God? Was Derrida an atheist? Then I'll go to my next class where we are discussing the journey of mysitics, whose goal is to be in union with God, that everything and everyone is part of God, and we must strengthen ourselves as spiritual beings.
Jesus' sacrament was love. Love those you fear. Every action you do in you life, do it with love. Derrida says that love is narcissistic. It is a relationship with the Self through the Other. That is a completely different message Jesus'.
I am not religious. I am curious, though, and I would like to know what others think of this juxtaposition of ideas.
In a sense, love is a structure. And by Derrida's definition, that is defining oneself and loving oneself through the lens of the Other. What I am is derived from you. By using Jesus' opposing "arguement," because I don't think Jesus would agree with Derrida, or maybe to a certain degree he would. But wouldn't this opposition create an instability among the structure of love? Or God? Wouldn't this structure then be decentered?
Yesterday in class we also talked about Descartes' words, "I think therefore I am."
The center is the Self...a free individual capable of self-awareness without the presence of the Other. If the Self is in itself a center, can the Self the be decentered, thus seen as flawed, thus having no absolute truth?
What is the identity of the Self?
Can the Self be decentered?