Sunday, November 30, 2008

Contemporary Readings

I thoroughly enjoyed almost all of the reading selections for my contemporary literature class. I thought the list well-represented modern literature, and I would change little on the list. I particularly enjoyed reading Atonement, The Watchmen, A Streetcar Named Desire, and the Shakur lyrical poems. Atonement was a novel that I knew little about before reading. I thought the style was very interesting, particularly how the end was written like an author within an author. It embodied many post-modernism ideas, which I enjoyed. Reading The Watchmen was also great because of its extreme difference in writing style when compared to the other readings. I never before read a graphic novel and, although sometimes difficult to read, it was very fascinating. The many symbols and political metaphors also contributed to my liking of it. I look forward to reading it again. A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic play that should be read by all. The realistic dialogues within the play and overall plot kept me reading on. I liked how my teacher included Tupac Shakur's poetry. It is again a different style from the other literature which kept the class interesting. Considering Shakur's hard and troubled past, his poems were extremely genuine and meaningful. As you can see, I would change little on the reading list for my contemporary literature class this semester. It was a great mix of literature further supporting and contributing to the many post-modern ideas we discussed in class. I would have liked to see more literature from around the world, however. I think we can truly learn more from different cultures and other people's points of view totally different from our own. Some of the short stories in the anthology seemed somewhat meaningless and replaceable. However, these stories allowed me to further understand post-modernism, and how one can truly interpret something totally different than another.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Watchmen

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article, "The Comic Book Virgin Reads Watchmen," by Isabelle Burtan. I thought the metaphor (of one being a 'virgin' to comic book or graphic novel reading)Burtan used throughout the article was funny, clever, and intelligent. I had not read a long comic book series or graphic novel before reading "The Watchmen." So I guess I will have to admit to losing my 'comic book virginity' to "The Watchmen." Gosh, that sounds weird. Therefore, I would have to agree with Burtan regarding my unique experience with reading "The Watchmen." Reading a graphic novel is quite different from reading any normal novel, or one that does not include near as many illustrations. At the beginning, I thought the graphic novel would be a simple, easy read as the first thing that came to my mind was lots of pictures! Something that I was not used to reading as an assignment in any class which made me happy. As I read the graphic novel, I realized how intricate and complicated the plot and characters were. I was forced to both read the text and look and interpret the many drawings and dialogues. One most definitely has to read this type of novel differently than reading any other typical novel. At many times there were more than one storyline being discussed within the same page. This was confusing. There were many hidden text, symbols, and drawings throughout the book that were key to the story. In order to identify all of these political and religious symbols and references, one must pay close attention to both the illustrations and text. It was difficult to pick up on all of these things. However, this forced me to read and look closer in order to comprehend the 'total picture.' I think I shared a similar experience to Burtan because of not reading a graphic novel or comic book before. We shared similar emotions or excitements as well as frustrations with regard to the read of "The Watchmen." Reading "The Watchmen" was not simple and at some points became exhausting and wearing yet still enjoyable. "The Watchmen" needs to be read multiple times in order to fully get all of its rich messages. I look forward to reading it many more times allowing myself to pick up on even more symbolic messages. It seems like a novel that gets better every time you read it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Atonement or Lack There of

Although the title of Ian McEwan's novel is Atonement, many of the characters do not fully achieve total atonement for their past actions. Many characters, particularly Briony, try very hard to achieve total atonement, but in my opinion they do not. However, I do believe that the particular time period does affect their failure to achieve atonement. Briony, throughout her whole life, tries many different things to seek atonement for her terrible deed when she was only thirteen years old. She becomes a war nurse to seek justice for putting Robbie in jail and then in war. She is trying to give back for her many wrongs. She also writes a false ending to her book where Robbie and Cecilia are alive and still in love. She also visits them too in this ending. Although her book about writing is very well done, it is a weak attempt at atonement. She did not have the courage to go to her sister face-to-face and apologize, etc. She also did not have the courage to stop Lola and Paul Marshall's wedding when she truly knew what happened. I do realize that the time period does constrict her ability to truly seek total atonement. Paul Marshall was very high in society, and it would have taken a lot to pin rape on such a high societal man. It also would have taken a very long time for Briony to totally reverse her accusation of Robbie as a rapist considering the war at hand and the long process that would entail. Despite the setting constraints, all in all, she gave a weak attempt, and I think died knowing she was still at fault. Paul Marshall also does not achieve atonement by marrying the girl he used to regularly rape. Instead, he truly warped Lola's mind set into thinking raping her was not bad. He is a horrible character. Cecilia also does not achieve atonement regarding the arrest of her lover Robbie. She could have fought harder despite the circumstances and the particular time period at hand. I think her death in some ways led to her atonement. She deserved better, but accepted what was (during the war). Robbie dies in action from a fatal illness. He obviously did not deserve to go to jail or later war. But because of Briony, he did. He did not have atonement to seek. I do not have sympathy for Briony. Although she was young when she accused Robbie of rape, she still needs to pay for actions she committed and take the consequences along with them. She had to realize that throwing words around like rape is not a joke and that going to jail is not just going to your room and not having dessert after dinner. She in some aspects ruined Robbie's life. I do think she did pay, though. She was forced to live a life of guilt and was truly and constantly trying to seek atonement for what she had done. She turned to writing in order to vent her inner feelings. She suffered, and I believe that was her punishment. Her fatal illness, vascular dementia, also seemed fitting. This particular illness causes one to forget certain things, eventually leading to the culmination of forgetting everything in one's life. It was an effort to achieve atonement when she wrote the book, but not enough for me. It is ironic that she is the last to die out of everyone, too. However, when the book becomes published and she dies, it will be known to all who read it that she was at fault and suffered during her life with her past actions constantly haunting her. In a way, the final publishing of her book completes her atonement or efforts at atonement.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pet Milk

I particularly enjoyed our recent reading of the short story, Pet Milk, by Stuart Dybek. It involves two lovers that seem to be on separate ways in their lives. Kate, the narrator's girlfriend is thinking on going to graduate school in Europe, and the narrator is thinking of joining the peace corps. I really liked the last scene, when the two characters are on the train embracing each other lovingly and the narrator sees a young passerby on a platform look up at them. "It was as if I were standing on that platform, with my schoolbooks and a smoke, on one of those endlessly accumulated afternoons after school when I stood almost outside of time simply waiting for a train, and I thought how much I'd have loved seeing someone like us streaming by. " This is the last line of the story and I can relate to it greatly. Going to high school in the city, I took the train to school and saw many interesting people. I would see some very happy people and some very sad people. Like the narrator, I often would feel good after seeing an extremely happy person or people conversing. I also thought of what and how people viewed me as I drove by. Did they think I was a happy person? I usually was and conveyed that pretty well. I wondered how I would view kids and such as an adult having experienced everything they were at that moment. I felt a great relation to this story and as a result thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I hope in the end of it all, I live a fulfilling life wherever I am and with whomever I am with.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"The Indian Uprising" by Donald Barthelme

I think Barthelme's writing is brilliant and true academic postmodernism. He did a great job, in my eyes, of producing a nameless narrator with a personal war describing the man's emotions perfectly. I would particularly like to focus on the plot of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the character Blanche. Blanche obviously was fighting a personal war, yet it wasn't articulated like the man in "The Indian Uprising." Blanche would most likely use fantasy to show her personal war. She would have many suitors who are all fiction. She was often betrayed and I feel like she would re-encounter these men who have haunted her past. She would have conversations with these men, particularly, her ex husband, similar conversations to the nameless narrator. In the end, I feel like she would come to grips with herself and end up killing herself with all the commotion inside her head from her mysterious past.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Character's Theme Song

The character I chose is Blanche DuBois, from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. The song I chose which I feel most embodies the character of Blanche is "One More Night," by the band Stars. This song has a more creepy, provocative, and mysterious tone that I think describes Blanche well. It shows her total reliance on men for sex and self-confidence. It describes how this girl in the song desires one more night with this man and how she craves him, yet she is unable to have an actual relationship with him and the connection between the two simply ends after this 'one more night.' It is very hard for Blanche to have a stable relationship with a man, as we see in the play, because of her ill-motives for true love. The one more night they have is a good one, but that's it. The two are unable to communicate and it all ends there. Blanche struggles with men and relationships. As a result, she comforts her self with quick fixes such as alcohol and sex. My favorite lyrics within the song that I feel relate to Blanche best with regard to her interaction with men are:

"He starts with her back cause that's what he sees / When she's breaking his heart she still fucks like a tease / Release to the sky, look him straight in the eye / And tell him that now, that you wish he would die / You'll never touch him again so get what you can / Leaving him empty just because he's a man / So good when it ends, they'll never be friends / One more night, that's all they can spend"

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Hey, my name is Pat Conlon and this is my blog. I am a sophomore at Clemson University in South Carolina majoring in Business. I eventually want to work in the field of international management and become fluent in Spanish. I am originally from outside of Washington, D.C.; specifically Montgomery Village, Maryland. I am 19 years old and will be 20 on December 23rd. I like to swim, listen to music, hang out with friends, have fun, be outdoors, and travel. I am from a big family and have four sisters. We also have a 14 year old border collie named Swoopie. I also am a lifeguard and pool manager. I once saved a little kid's life by using CPR. I am primarily using this blog for my English 215 class. My teacher is Angie Rogers and she rocks. I will be posting blogs weekly concerning the various topics assigned in our class.