97 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2018
    1. “The fact is,” she said, pensively, “I couldn’t have eaten any more of that ham, and so I gave it to Julius.”

      Another well-orchestrated, poignant triumph.

    2. En dey sot a heap by one ernudder.

      I have been reading this phrase as "And they sought a heap by one another," which is a really beautiful way of describing two people spending time together.

    3. “‘Fo’ de Lawd!’ he say, ‘dat mule drunk! he be’n drinkin’ de wine.’ En sho’ ’nuff, de mule had pas’ right by de tub er fraish grape-juice en push’ de kiver off’n de bairl, en drunk two er th’ee gallon er de wine w’at had been stan’in’ long ernough fer ter begin ter git sha’p.

      In his tales, Julius opens up the space for humor and relief in a narrative that is ultimately about inhuman forms of subjugation.

    4. ‘ca’se de beastisses doan none un ’em eat terbacker. Dey doan know w’at ‘s good! Terbacker is lack religion, de good Lawd made it fer people, en dey ain’ no yuther creetur w’at kin ‘preciate it.

      Perhaps this is what separates humans from animals: no animal intentionally inhaled hot smoke.

      In this particular schema, it seems humorous that God presides over his two gifts to humankind: tobacco and religion. Even though tobacco served as a cash crop, it was a source of pleasure that fell within the jurisdiction of the slaves working the fields of it - and Chestnutt seems to be suggesting that religion, to some degree, offered a similar form of relief.

    5. “You en Mis’ Annie would n’ wanter b’lieve me, ef I wuz ter ‘low dat dat man was oncet a mule?” “No,” I replied, “I don’t think it very likely that you could make us believe it.” “Why, Uncle Julius!” said Annie severely, “what ridiculous nonsense!” This reception of the old man’s statement reduced him to silence, and it required some diplomacy on my part to induce him to vouchsafe an explanation. The prospect of a long, dull afternoon was not alluring, and I was glad to have the monotony of Sabbath quiet relieved by a plantation legend.

      This all feels like caricature (and maybe a little bit like Brechtian alienation). In particular, the narrator's mention of "diplomacy" betray him as conscious of a market where his white male body is valid social currency. His and Annie's dramatic (perhaps overblown) negation of Julius' oral account understandably upsets Julius, but it also highlights the clash of two irreconcilable modes of representation. In the face of conflict, the narrator now sets off to do "damage control" and attempt to level with Julius in his rational, professional logic.

  2. Feb 2018
    1. I decided to tear down the old schoolhouse

      This seems like it might produce some spooky consequences.

    2. “Dey did ‘pear ter die, but a few un ’em come out ag’in, en is mixed in ‘mongs’ de yuthers. I ain’ skeered ter eat de grapes, ‘caze I knows de old vimes fum de noo ones; but wid strangers dey ain’ no tellin’ w’at mought happen. I would n’ ‘vise yer ter buy dis vimya’d.” I bought the vineyard, nevertheless, and it has been for a long time in a thriving condition, and is often referred to by the local press as a striking illustration of the opportunities open to Northern capital in the development of Southern industries.

      The sharp contrast in the two idioms here also underscores the tension between a belief in Black oral history and the embrace of the supernatural, versus the self-assured, scientific-economic speech of the white Northern capitalist narrator.

    3. He was not entirely black, and this fact, together with the quality of his hair, which was about six inches long and very bushy, except on the top of his head, where he was quite bald, suggested a slight strain of other than negro blood. There was a shrewdness in his eyes, too, which was not altogether African, and which, as we afterwards learned from experience, was indicative of a corresponding shrewdness in his character.

      In this description, the narrator reveals a persistent prejudice to anti-Blackness as he repeatedly endeavors to characterize the stranger by observations of traits that are "not altogether African."

    4. jimson-weeds and briers

      The jimson-weed is a foul-smelling variety of nightshade with toxic and hallucinogenic properties, and briers are squat shrubbery with thorny branches. The mentions of these plants, beyond strict description, seem to have a figurative quality.

    5. somnolent

      This description of the town as sleepy, and the description of its restful, "sabbatic" calm definitively give the sense that it also harbors deeply sinister things under its surface.

    6. which I shall call Patesville, because, for one reason, that is not its name

      Why is the name of this town being withheld?

    1. choke, for heavenly union.

      violent double entendre

    2. the memorable Darg case
    3. He would read his hymn, and nod at me to commence. I would at times do so; at others, I would not. My non-compliance would almost always produce much confusion. To show himself independent of me, he would start and stagger through with his hymn in the most discordant manner.

      FD finds a method of revolt in humiliating Mr. Covey in his religious procedures.

    4. t neither made him to be humane to his slaves, nor to emancipate them. If it had any effect on his character, it made him more cruel and hateful in all his ways; for I believe him to have been a much worse man after his conversion than before. Prior to his conversion, he relied upon his own depravity to shield and sustain him in his savage barbarity; but after his conversion, he found religious sanction and support for his slaveholding cruelty. He made the greatest pretensions to piety. His house was the house of prayer. He prayed morning, noon, and night.

      Rings familiar to this day, particularly with many of the voices in American politics right now.

    5. when the beginning and ending of human existence meet, and helpless infancy and painful old age combine together

      heart-wrenching comment on how the arc of a human's life bends back in on itself

    6. having outlived my old master and all his children, having seen the beginning and end of all of them, and her present owners finding she was of but little value, her frame already racked with the pains of old age, and complete helplessness fast stealing over her once active limbs, they took her to the woods, built her a little hut, put up a little mud-chimney, and then made her welcome to the privilege of supporting herself there in perfect loneliness;

      A really filmic bit of language, almost like watching a movie reel roll in fast motion and sputter out when it reaches its end.

    7. he fruit of abolition.

      This phrase and the use of italics imply that this phrase is new and not fully understood by Douglass. The italics seem like an oratory cue to a specific vocal inflection.

    8. died away for want of utterance

      The difficulty of not being able to "get it out."

    9. She finally became even more violent in her opposition than her husband himself. She was not satisfied with simply doing as well as he had commanded; she seemed anxious to do better.

      The virulent reality of slave ownership and accompanying violence also play out in the marital realm.

    10. by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine

      this incident is the topic of Fred Moten's essay "Resistance of the Object."

    11. darken their minds

      As Addison Gayle Jr. brings to bear in "Cultural Strangulation: Black Literature and the White Aesthetic," the "systematic aesthetic" of Western/Greek culture has long featured the codified binary of black/white. In this instance, even though "darken their minds" is a metaphor about illumination and knowledge (rooted in Platonic thought), it still reifies this racially charged linguistic prejudice.

    12. Who can read that passage, and be insensible to its pathos and sublimity? Compressed into it is a whole Alexandrian library of thought, feeling, and sentiment—all that can, all that need be urged, in the form of expostulation, entreaty, rebuke, against that crime of crimes,—making man the property of his fellow-man!

      More of the Greek background. Funny, ultimately, to recall that the center of the Hellenistic world was placed upon a heart of African civilization.

    13. An American sailor, who was cast away on the shore of Africa, where he was kept in slavery for three years, was, at the expiration of that period, found to be imbruted and stultified—he had lost all reasoning power; and having forgotten his native language, could only utter some savage gibberish between Arabic and English, which nobody could understand, and which even he himself found difficulty in pronouncing. So much for the humanizing influence of The Domestic Institution!”

      Though the author is condemning slavery here, he cannot do it without a recourse to othering. Even to an abolitionist, the opposite of possessing "reasoning power" is utterance of "savage gibberish" reminiscent of Arabic.

    14. debase their moral nature

      more coded language out of the fount of liberal thought

    1. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.

      Frantz Fanon's The Fact of Blackness comes to mind:

      I came into the world imbued with the will to find a meaning in things, my spirit filled with the desire to attain to the source of the world, and then I found that I was an object in the midst of other objects.

      Sealed into that crushing objecthood, I turned beseechingly to others. Their attention was a liberation, running over my body suddenly abraded into nonbeing, endowing me once more with an agility that I had thought lost, and by taking me out of the world, restoring me to it.

    1. I find your conviction genuinely moving, even if it cannot deter me.”

      Humanity granted, in a sense.

    2. But perhaps you don’t want to do that. It doesn’t suit your character. Perhaps in your country people behave differently in such situations. That’s all right. That’s perfectly satisfactory. Don’t stand up at all. Just say a couple of words. Whisper them so that only the officials underneath you can just hear them. That’s enough.

      This has escalated into a manic, nervous monologue.

    3. harbour construction

      How is "harbour construction" such an endlessly pertinent political agenda item? And a favorite soft spot for satirists. From its mention in Brecht's *The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" to the recent (non-satire) example of Bloomberg's West Side development, it seems like waterfront building rules the world.

    4. He, of course, understands how to turn such a meeting into a spectacle.

      The old order had a functioning spectacle, but the new one does too.

    5. The vomit was already flowing down onto the machine. “This is all the Commandant’s fault!” cried the officer and mindlessly rattled the brass rods at the front. “My machine’s as filthy as a pigsty.” With trembling hands he showed the Traveler what had happened. “Haven’t I spent hours trying to make the Commandant understand that a day before the execution there should be no more food served. But the new lenient administration has a different opinion. Before the man is led away, the Commandant’s women cram sugary things down his throat. His whole life he’s fed himself on stinking fish, and now he has to eat sweets! But that would be all right—I’d have no objections—but why don’t they get a new felt, the way I’ve been asking him for three months now?

      The apparatus is the Officer's baby, and he seems rather irate that the Commandant-sanctioned last meal for the Condemned has now been thrown up onto it.

    6. for the purpose of his traveling was merely to observe and not to alter other people’s judicial systems in any way.

      like an anthropologist doing ethnography in a war zone

    7. Officer the torn-off piece of strap, wanting him to help. So the Officer went over to him and said, with his face turned towards the Traveler, “The machine is very complicated. Now and then something has to tear or break. One shouldn’t let that detract from one’s overall opinion. Anyway, we have an immediate replacement for the strap. I’ll use a chain—even though that will affect the sensitivity of the movements for the right arm.” And while he put the chain in place, he kept talking, “Our resources for maintaining the machine are very limited at the moment. Under the previous Commandant, I had free access to a cash box specially set aside for this purpose. There was a store room here in which all possible replacement parts were kept. I admit I made almost extravagant use of it. I mean earlier, not now, as the New Commandant claims. For him everything serves only as a pretext to fight against the old arrangements. Now he keeps the cash box for machinery under his own control, and if I ask him for a new strap, he demands the torn one as a piece of evidence, the new one doesn’t arrive for ten days, and it’s an inferior brand, of not much use to me. But how I am supposed to get the machine to work in the meantime without a strap—no one’s concerned about that.”

      What is this if not the banality of evil? Yes, the task that the Officer is assigned to is to supervise the murder of political prisoners. But in the hijinks of the whole thing - in the logistical snafus, the two opposed tides of the Old and New Commandant, the haggling about the cash box and broken parts as evidence and the Officer's grievance at the inferior replacement parts - there is a strange sense of humanity that we can extend to the Officer.

    8. He suffers nothing but pain. After two hours, the felt is removed, for at that point the man has no more energy for screaming. Here at the head of the bed warm rice pudding is put in this electrically heated bowl. From this the man, if he feels like it, can help himself to what he can lap up with his tongue. No one passes up this opportunity. I don’t know of a single one, and I have had a lot of experience. He first loses his pleasure in eating around the sixth hour.

      The flip from "nothing but pain" to the human spirit broken so far that it won't lap up warm rice pudding is especially funny. Is rice pudding a Austrian/Czech food?

    9. Here they are.” He pulled some pages out of the leather folder. “Unfortunately I can’t hand them to you. They are the most cherished thing I possess. Sit down, and I’ll show you them from this distance. Then you’ll be able to see it all well.” He showed the first sheet. The Traveler would have been happy to say something appreciative, but all he saw was a labyrinthine series of lines, criss-crossing each other in all sort of ways. These covered the paper so thickly that only with difficulty could one make out the white spaces in between. “Read it,” said the Officer. “I can’t,” said the Traveler. “But it’s clear,” said the Officer.” “It’s very elaborate,” said the Traveler evasively, “but I can’t decipher it.”

      And the rest of this scene as well. Like dark physical comedy, reminiscent of the clown scene in Brecht's Baden Baden Lesson on Consent.

    10. “Now I know all about it,” said the Traveler, as the Officer turned back to him again. “Except the most important thing,” said the latter, grabbing the Traveler by the arm and pointing up high.

      Something about this feels like watching macabre slapstick.

    11. The long one inscribes, and the short one squirts water out to wash away the blood and keep the inscription always clear.

      There is a Rube Goldberg machine feeling to this extreme tattooing corporal punishment apparatus, and also a corresponding inanity to its insanely frivolous, upkeep-heavy nature. This double needle insta-wash component seems like a good example of that.

    12. once the apparatus is clean again—the fact that it gets so very dirty is its only fault

      The "only fault" of the apparatus is the very reason why the Officer gets to keep his job.

    13. that in this place special regulations were necessary, and that one had to give precedence to military measures right down to the last detail

      This feels perennially important, with many instances to show in history, but particularly in regards to American surveillance and military intervention following the PATRIOT Act of 2001.

    14. Now, instead of standing up and begging for forgiveness, the man grabbed his master by the legs, shook him, and cried out, ‘Throw away that whip or I’ll eat you up.’

      This threat of cannibalistic violence feels like an extreme rupture out of the previous mood of the story.

    15. Then he looked at his hands, examining them. They didn’t seem to him clean enough to handle the diagrams.

      There is a religious undertone to me here: cleanliness of the the hands, washing and spiritual purity, adherence to the Commandant's diagrams/codes/word. If nothing else, the exercise of political power always carries a religious valence to it.

    16. Up to this point I had to do some work by hand, but from now on the apparatus should work entirely on its own

      In place where the spectacular exercise of violence is de rigueur, where even those whose turn it is to die fail to take any interest in it, it seems interesting that the Officer is perpetually bound to the apparatus' upkeep. Furthermore, it's even weirder that the banal, self-sufficient violence which gives the Officer his active duty still only needs him in a very marginal sense - just to do handiwork and upkeep. The idea that the apparatus can successfully be automated further compounds the simultaneous sentimentality/detachment that the Officer feels toward it.

  3. Nov 2016
    1. When Stein answers the question “how does one write?” by example, her work serves both as a singularity (that is, an instance whose authority is drawn from Stein’s exceptionality) and as an instance of a broader concept (the question or injunction bears upon a general dilemma, of which Stein is an instance among many—exemplary precisely in not being singular)

      We can look to Clement Greenberg, who writes in parallel about art to clue us in to a tactic of Stein's project:

      The limitations that constitute the medium of painting—the flat surface, the shape of the support, the properties of the pigment—were treated by the old masters as negative factors that could be acknowledged only by implicitly or indirectly. Under Modernism these same limitations came to be regarded as positive factors, and were acknowledged openly.

      Much as modernist painting draws attention to its insistent curiosity with a certain formal property (like color, or the flatness of canvas) to which it is bound, and that fact taken as its subject matter. In Stein's, that formal property is the functioning of grammar. Stein's writing privileges, in some sense, form over content - syntax itself is taken to be the subject matter over which Stein madly pores and iterates through; the contents of the sentences themselves suspiciously arbitrary or given to chance. The more senseless, absurd, or infantile, the greater the tension against the rationalizing power of syntax and the more heightened the poetic affect yielded.

      In creating her work, Lezra claims, Stein is both offering herself as one-of-a-kind writer whilst also acknowledging that she is offering one of potentially many solutions to the task of meaning-making through writing.

    2. much more cautiously asking how, after all, one can write

      The sense of desperate pleading in this particular sentiment comes across more deeply than in Lezra's title, which is made all the more prescriptive and potentially pedantic by the flourish with which he opens the piece.

    3. foreclosing

      After Judith Butler

    1. And it being a thing to see no master-piece can see what it can see if it does then it is timely and as it is timely it is not a master-piece.

      Does a masterpiece need to be at a disjuncture with the time it is situated within to be 'good'?

    2. The pleasures that are soothing all have to do with identity and the pleasures that are exciting all have to do with identity and moreover there is all the pride and vanity which play about master-pieces as well as about every one and these too all have to do with identity

      maybe something like "jouissance" -- there is a neccesary correlation between the feeling that sets us seeking pleasure and the innate instability of knowing who oneself truly is.

    3. it may be unwelcome but it is never dull

      the outrage and disavowal that accompanies transgressive art can be understood as the pain of repressing what was a genuine aesthetic experience (perhaps ahead of its time)

    4. writing, it is remembering

      writing is a technology by which we preserve our memories in a physical capacity

    5. but because a certain number have found out what a master-piece is not. Even the very master-pieces have always been very bothered about beginning and ending because essentially that is what a master-piece is not. And yet after all like the subject of human nature master-pieces have to use beginning and ending to become existing. Well anyway anybody who is trying to do anything today is desperately not having a beginning and an ending but nevertheless in some way one does have to stop. I stop.

      The repetition has a manic quality to it, as if repeating an inscrutable thing many many times will make it lucid.

    6. It is very curious but the detective story which is you might say the only really modern novel form that has come into existence gets rid of human nature by having the man dead to begin with the hero is dead to begin with and so you have so to speak got rid of the event before the book begins.

      In the narrative arc of detective fiction, the motor of the story is the Whodunit, the Master Signifier that gives motion to all that unfolds. But if we know that the thing we're looking for is an empty set--someone who has ceased to be in the world-- we can proceed with that consistency at the very least. There's no delusion about seeking the very thing which cannot be known.

    7. That is every one's trouble and particularly the trouble just now when every one who writes or paints has gotten to be abnormally conscious of the things he uses that is the events the people the objects and the landscapes and fundamentally the minute one is conscious deeply conscious of these things as a subject the interest in them does not exist.

      Everyone's too semiotically self-reflexive these days, Stein sez.

    8. identity would take the place of entity

      The fear is that identity, your subjective estrangement from language, will overshadow the artistic thing-as-such.

    9. the letter writes what the other person is to hear and so entity does not exist there are two present instead of one and so once again creation breaks down.

      a 1:1 correlation of what is meant to what is understood cannot be wholly achieved through representation.

    10. After all any woman in any village or men either if you like or even children know as much of human psychology as any writer that ever lived. After all there are things you do know each one in his or her way knows all of them and it is not this knowledge that makes master-pieces. Not at all not at all at all

      Stein seems to be exulting in the ability of modernist work to agitate familiar lines of understanding. Psychology, and an author's ability to create landscapes anchored in a rational understanding of the human mind, lose the irrational potency that makes them transcendental or sublime as works of art: the ability to activate that space beyond language or comfortable sense perception and invoke affect in an unusual way.

    11. Identity is recognition, you know who you are because you and others remember anything about yourself but essentially you are not that when you are doing anything. I am I because my little dog knows me but, creatively speaking the little dog knowing that you are you and your recognising that he knows, that is what destroys creation. That is what makes school.

      There is practical advice here - create for oneself and not for the conception of themselves that they see as lauded for their work. Perhaps it is warning against cockiness or an injunction to a certain form of meaning-making. If it is voyeuristic pleasure that motivates your art practice (not in any contemporary sense tho), or if it is for the critical appraisal that one applies themselves: it becomes possible that your art has lots its authenticity (that 'genius character' due to which 'important' work is archived in posterity).'School' is vague here so there may be two readings: she may mean small organizations of like artists organized into intellectual and productive working groups. More insidiously, one might read 'school' as the larger notion: the place of education. The institution is the final organized form of aesthetic principles, an entire combine of culture production

      -Pedagogy cementing aesthetic norms, instilling continuity.

      -Instruction and studio apprenticeship as vocational training.

      -State-sanctioned exhibitions as apparatus with the power to valorize, archive, and amplify cultural products.

    12. I talk a lot I like to talk and I talk even more than that I may say I talk most of the time and I listen a fair amount too and as I have said the essence of being a genius is to be able to talk and listen to listen while talking and talk while listening but and this is very important very important indeed talking has nothing to do with creation

      Stein is writing about her fondness for speech, but yielding that "talking has nothing to do with creation" of "masterpieces". Perhaps the joke is on us - Stein opens the piece noting of her decision to "write and read it" v. "talk [this lecture]"; but regardless of the cover given it is undeniable that her writing sounds an awful lot like the speech she has deemed ineffectual in artistic creation.

  4. May 2016
    1. Using tools to facilitate differential reading practices can facilitate self-reflective or self-conscious critical practices by helping us interpret the patterns we see in texts and in how others have read texts.

      This methodology continues to proliferate these days: http://www.cinemetrics.lv/

    2. This short list of examples reflects the awareness within digital humanities that “situated knowledges” are entwined in the “silences, absences, and distortions in dominant paradigms” that compose the layers of representations of representations of representations that literature and digital tools employ (Haraway; Hawkesworth 8).

      Brings to mind the PowerPoint chapter of Jennifer Egan's "Visit From The Good Squad". Also, a beautiful piece of academic language.

    3. John Unsworth touts “the importance of failure” within digital methods (“Documenting”). Willard McCarty’s notion of a “via negative,” or a “negative way,” to knowledge involves an iterative, trial-and-error process (5; 39–41). This short list of examples reflects the awareness within digital humanities that “situated knowledges” are entwined in the “silences, absences, and distortions in dominant paradigms” that compose the layers of representations of representations of representations that literature and digital tools employ (Haraway; Hawkesworth 8).

      Failure as an epistemological strategy is a kind of seeing in relief. However, the more that I think about what an array of misreadings might yield in terms of analysis, I suspect that the text at hand dissolves deeper into being art rather than the merely mediated literature it was before the digital method was applied. Granted, I may be splitting a hair that doesn't even exist.

    4. omputer screen’s “flickering signifie


    5. D. Sculley and Bradley Pasanek preface their discussion of data mining with the observation that these methodologies “will always be subject to experimenter bias”

      Sweet and thoughtful, if not defensive and alert.

    6. The clusters map remarkably well to genre classifications previously discussed by critics, a finding that allows Ramsay to explore the idea that abstract genres such as tragedy or history have a direct correlation to these “low hanging” structural elements.

      Who woulda thunk?

    7. The physicality of an archive’s categorical system shows a flexibility that a database does not have, because a card catalog is itself an interfaced database.

      A notion of flexibility necessitates a material object to show the effect of that characteristic. In dealing with data, we've given up the possibility of thinking about these problems in terms of stacks of books in rooms.

    8. an interface that reflects, as Derrida reminds us, a structure of “archivization”

      It seemed that this thought is increasingly commonplace in general perception of how we interact with technology. Derrida would have enjoyed the Snowden revelations.

    9. the wider one’s reading in a specified area, the greater the pleasure of a given text and the greater the ability to make connections between texts” (16).

      This is a really compelling notion of pleasure, and I've heard it said so frankly.

    10. These methodologies defamiliarize texts, making them unrecognizable in a way (putting them at a distance) that helps scholars identify features they might not otherwise have seen, make hypotheses, generate research questions, and figure out prevalent patterns and how to read them.

      The visual metaphor is both helpful and necessary. Similarly, in accompanying our deconstructive turn in analysis, a mechanical way of picking apart the constitution of texts makes sense given where we're going. At the same time, it will soon become outdated to create distance between ourselves and the apparatus-- for that seems to be what early critics purport shortsightedly when they claim dehumanization-- and the sanctity of the humanities is swallowed up as we become cyborgs.

    11. Gass is using his tool to magnify one sentence of Stein’s text because he believes that it will augment his ability to examine the rest of the novel. Doing so is “convenient” and generalizable: he maintains that “almost any sentence would yield the same results” (vii). Van Dyke, in generating syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic patterns and comparing these with the style in Stein’s novel, seeks “to explore both the nature of Stein’s art and certain wider questions about linguistic and literary meaning” (170)

      Smoke 'em if you got 'em, but also, that's a really beautiful and clever way to pose a question.

    12. data-flow

      There seems to be a poetic dimension to a lot of the language that has developed around digital technology, and this particular word combination feels like it illustrates it.

    1. The concept of criticism as "a doing," as action and intervention

      Somewhere, a graduate student is smiling in his sleep.

    2. Why are we so hesitant about doing the same thing?

      Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

      And in accordance with everyone here, I don't see any kind of difficulty that the reader has in remixing original works; it happens so rampantly, and the intensity of close reading that happens in high school and college classroom often births the accusation that ANYTHING could be said about a text provided you can dig up a cursory word or two to drive that interpretation home. Contrary to McGann, maybe it's time for us to think a little bit more about authorial intention. The mishandling of anti-Semitism in Ivanhoe is fodder for nuanced critical and historical work-- the way out is not to rewrite Ivanhoe along lines that helps us sleep at night.

    3. humane

      I understand that the Humanities stems from this attribute, of being humane, but this word choice seems so strange to me.

  5. Apr 2016
    1. multimedia and multimodal forms onlin

      the rebus, derobed

    2. the ability to formally instantiate that marked-up document

      Makes me think of the way in which there is sometimes more literary juice flowing when one is working in a word processor versus a piece of paper

  6. Mar 2016
    1. an opera of mine quite dear to my heart

      A lot of talk about this opera has been about its apparent homo-erotic subtext, and Zachary Woolfe spelled out a bit of itin a 2012 article for the NY Times. A considerable amount of scholarship has constructed the suspicion that Britten, Forster, and Crozier's adaption hinges on a suppressed love between Claggart and Budd.

      Woolfe notes,

      "Forster wrote that Claggart's aria at the end of Act I, which consciously echoes Iago's "Credo" in Verdi's "Otello," represents "love constricted, perverted, poisoned, but never the less flowing down its agonizing channel; a sexual discharge gone evil."

      This leaning by Britten and co, interestingly predates Eve Sedgwick's analysis of homosociality, which makes explicit comment about the fraught relationship between Billy, Vere, and Claggart that is explored in the opera through dramatic and musical means.

    2. E.M. Forster and Eric Crozier

      Theater scholar Minou Arjomand makes an interesting note about the relationships between Britten and the two. After a 1964 revival of the work at the original location, E.M. Forster wrote back to the reviewer at The Times after the article written had entirely excluded mention of him or Crozier. Unfortunately, often it so goes that collaborators get moved into the shadows alongside the Big Name. While my quick look around suggests that the Crozier has been excavated since the performances mentioned (if only by the glaring abundance of scholarly work on this particular opera, holy shit, Arjomand's scholarship reminds us of the mutability of Text and what a peculiar thing a musical adaptation of literature can be.

    3. the performance

      I mean, it's an opera. And opera certainly isn't casual listening (not for me, anyway). But there are some nice parts, so perhaps they're worth spotlighting--

    4. Peter Pears

      Biographer Paul Kildea has put forward the hypothesis that Pears, who was intimate to Britten (both musically and otherwise), may have given Britten syphilis, the complications of which had ended his life just three years prior. If so, the resonance of this being his last performance stands a moving tribute.

    1. But subsequent depositions of the surviving sailors, bearing out the revelations of their captain in several of the strangest particulars, gave credence to the rest. So that the tribunal, in its final decision, rested its capital sentences upon statements which, had they lacked confirmation, it would have deemed it but duty to reject.

      Douglas Coulson gives a dizzying analysis of the potential fallibility of these testimonies here in the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities.

    2. Such were the American’s thoughts. They were tranquilizing. There was a difference between the idea of Don Benito’s darkly pre-ordaining Captain Delano’s fate, and Captain Delano’s lightly arranging Don Benito’s.

      As has been mentioned before, I wonder how much Melville's use of the light/dark dichotomy is rooted in racial prejudice, and how much is just a metaphor of seeing and "illumination" (not that we can ever fully divorce language from life as such through which it is upkept).

    3. The slave there carries the padlock, but master here carries the key.”

      Aside from the syntactical way that this sentence arranges the slave and the master-- the former gets the independent clause, from which follows the fact about the latter-- it is interesting to note Melville's play with these two symbolic items, the padlock (there) and the key (here).

      ".. suspended by a slender silken cord, from Don Benito’s neck, hung a key. At once, from the servant’s muttered syllables, divining the key’s purpose, he smiled, and said:–“So, Don Benito–padlock and key–significant symbols, truly.”

      The binding character of the two items is given a magical dimension and affirmed through Captain Delano's satisfied comment. But I want to note that while this serves very effective as literary language, this instance in which physical binding is brought to the foreground of the narration existed within the matrix of an economy, in which a whole fleet of financial practices operated in conjunction. Not to be forgotten is the complicity of insurance underwriting, and so ownership here wouldn't depend so much on our padlock and key, but on a document stowed away in a filing cabinet somewhere.

      In 2000, California State Legislature took up the Insurance question and passed SB 2199.

      "The Legislature found and declared that: (a) Insurance policies from the slavery era have been discovered in the archives of several insurance companies, documenting insurance coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves, issued by a predecessor insurance firm. These documents provide the first evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today.

      (b) Legislation has been introduced in Congress for the past 10 years demanding an inquiry into slavery and its continuing legacies.

      (c) The Insurance Commissioner and the Department of Insurance are entitled to seek information from the files of insurers licensed and doing business in this state, including licensed California subsidiaries of international insurance corporations, regarding insurance policies issued to slaveholders by predecessor corporations. The people of California are entitled to significant historical information of this nature."

      Though we cannot know for certain what the case was for Alexandro Arando, it is interesting that his companion is then used to perform the theater of property relationships.

      However, Melville's use of the Deposition as a factual account, working to create distance from the narrator's testimony, uses the Deposition to strike a counterbalance. The findings of SB 2199, another instance of law working to bring something to light, reported that,

      "…There is a tradition in the Corporation, though no written evidence of it has come to light, [ftnt. 1 - many of the records of the period have unfortunately been destroyed] that in the middle of the eighteenth century a cargo of slaves (each of whom was branded on the thigh) was insured, and heavy weather being encountered on the voyage, some of the Negroes were jettisoned, and in the consequence a claim for General Average was presented by the owners."

      "An Act of 1799", the same year that the encounter on the San Dominick occurs, "put an end to such inhuman practices, for it provided that: 'No loss of damage shall hereafter be recoverable on Account of the Mortality of Slaves by natural Death, or ill-treatment, or against Loss by throwing overboard of Slaves on any Account whatsoever, for restraints and detainments of princes, and people of Africa, caused through any Aggression for the Purpose of procuring Slaves'.

      SB 2199's transcript can be read here.

    4. Paraguay tea

      Paraguay tea, in this instance, is yerba mate, of which Paraguay was the leading producer prior to its independce (after which, it would be superseded by Brazil and Argentina). The mention of throwing of the "heavier sacks of mata" come right after the mention of the reduced number of slaves remaining on the ship ("now not more than a hundred and fifty... but then numbering over three hundred souls"). One can suspect as to why over half of the slaves perished (scurvy and fever are mentioned earlier in the text) but it would not to be unreasonable to assume that some of them, like the heavy mate, were thrown off for the same reason. Joseph Mallord William Turner's 1840 painting "The Slave Ship" deals with this practice, and would not have been unfamiliar to the culture-savvy readers of Putnam.

    5. Off Cape Horn we had heavy gales. In one moment, by night, three of my best officers, with fifteen sailors, were lost, with the main-yard; the spar snapping under them in the slings, as they sought, with heavers, to beat down the icy sail.

      The infamous Cape Horn is particularly known for being a difficult naval route, and many a ship have been known to suffer losses rounding it. The real Delano, sailing in 1799, dates before a lot of the documented wrecks. Audiences who kept up with maritime affairs would have been no stranger to stories of naval dissapearances in those waters. A short scholarly compilation of this can be found at here

    1. "This idea comports well with the critical legacy of post-structuralism's emphasis on performativity..."

      I am intrigued by the way that Drucker bridges the reader-response theory of criticism it seems she is proceeding from into the post-structural realm, where the reader enacts the process that the book undergoes (what she pegs as “performativity”: the shared reading and interpretation of text). However, it seems that reader-response thought still is willing to lend to the literary work some kinds of fixed boundaries, within which the collective process of interpretation in a reading community sculpts out what the final iteration will look like, while poststructuralist’s notions of Textiness seem to imply a fluid and transitory thing. Invoking the Text in e-space conceptualizes within a matrix that feels linked moreso to an abstract location in consciousness than around an item that floats through collective consciousness. While the idea of Text pushes questions about materiality to the side, Text in e-space both makes peace with its immateriality but still has the capacity for presenting blank “space” on which topographical metaphors (like the illusion of fixed "boundaries") can be rendered.

    1. forced to black bread themselves, they deemed it but equity that each person coming nigh them should, indirectly, by some slight or affront, be made to partake of their fare.

      Confused here. Is "black" a verb?-- he's forced to black bread i.e. burn it, and thus wants to share his suffering with all others? Or is it literally just black bread? In which case, is black bread really so awful? I've had plenty in my life and it's quite alright.

    2. humane satisfaction

      The racial dimension of "humane satisfaction" makes me deeply uncomfortable, understandably.

    3. satyr in a mask, holding his foot on the prostrate neck of a writhing figure, likewise masked.

      This imagery is nothing short of gnarly. What is the relationship between the two actors, and why is one authorizing violence against the other? And why are the two characters here making wearing masks?

    4. noddy

    5. Froissart

      Best guess is having some kind of resemblance to the artistic renderings of Medieval historian Jean Froissart (~1470), whose large tapestries often depicted courtly life enacted in loud and theatrical fashion.

    1. Genius.com (formerly RapGenius) has gotten into the business of annotating all documents whatsoever, and tens of thousands of users have participated in the collaborative marking-up of a wide variety of texts.

      ...and has given otherwise-unintelligible rappers a chance to make sure they're being heard correctly.

    2. Social media platforms such as Facebook encourage annotating photos by identifying people’s faces

      "Encourage annotating photos"? Sorry, this one seems a little bit of a stretch, but it's cute that a positive spin has been put on this rather than the more expected paranoia about the lack of digital privacy. Can someone say "surveillance state"?

    3. n meme generators and GIF tools

      The reiterative nature of how memes work make them interesting barometers of collective thought.

    4. As Engelbart’s example makes clear, the work of annotation is already a thing all students and scholars do: we work over other people’s texts in order to better understand it. Being able to draw on the experiences of others is also surely helpful.

      Is "annotation" not itself a kind of literal way of thinking about the positivistic aggregation of Knowledge?

    5. lyrical connections

      Similar to the way poetic meaning arises out of permutation along the associative axis of language, it is charming to think that peripherally connected ideas, too, can have a similar lyrical beauty in their relationship.

  7. Feb 2016
    1. It is there in the classical drama of a brawling, controversial Wikipedia article whose behind-the-scenes “talk” page stages the chorus of the “rule of many” or “wisdom of crowds.”

      Facts are not simply admitted into the Archive, and it is fortunate that Wikipedia affords the curious reader a chance to see this debate in action.