Saturday, September 20, 2008

Show & Tell: Description, Part II

Oh, and I absolutely have to share this too, because I realize how well it fits.

William Carlos Williams is this great poet known for brevity and density in his writing. (He's the guy who wrote the poem about the plum in the ice box, which most of us had to read in high school.) He's describes with great precision.
And then there's, the painter, Charles Demuth, who I don't know much about. But I do know, that he painted a picture of one of Williams' poems, and I absolutely love it and it was one of the first pieces of art that I really liked and understood and felt touched by, and wasn't just told to like by some authority figure.

Here they are:

The Great Figure
Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
fire truck
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city

Williams' poem is a description of a moment (among the rain and lights) and an object (figure 5 in gold, red firetruck). The verbs do a lot of work too: clangs, howls, rumbling. I think Demuth captures this poem in an abstract but visually descriptive way--the sizing of the 5 creates movement, the shadows on the edges are the dark city. And something I find humorous about this piece, Demuth put Williams' name and initials all over the painting, as if paying homage.

Show & Tell: Description

Excerpt from Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World.

What I found so fantastic about this book is that, Scarry's main point is to prove an argument, but she can't do that (well) without filling the book with descriptions because of the subject matter.

Most readers, don't understand what torture is, but through her clear descriptions it becomes more accessible to the reader, and thus her argument becomes more accessible.

She uses a lot of concrete nouns, verbs and senses, and I think the Solzhenitsyn example also enhances the description.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Week 2 Reading

Once again, here's a recap of my reading highlights.
  • Eudora Welty excerpt from "Storekeeper, 1935" on page 161
  • "Turn Left or Get Shot" photograph by Kerry J. Marshall on page 171
  • Eric Lui's "The Chinatown Idea" on page 172
  • Scott R. Sander's "Homeplace" on page 210
  • Shawn Macomber's "The Chasm Between Grand and Great" on page 230
This week's gold star goes to Joel Sternfeld's "The Former Bryant's Grocery, Money, Mississippi." This is not the image I conjure up when I recall the tragedy of Emmit Till. If you don't know the history, I implore you to take a minute and read up on it. Although, I had read/learned the time and location of the murder, I obviously never pictured it right. In fact, when I thought about it, very little time was spent thinking about the place; instead, focusing on the events--"Bye, Baby," murder, acquittal. I never correctly imagined how rural it was, how very ordinary. It seems as if the place mattered very little, but in fact, this photograph makes me realize that it mattered so much. Because if Till was home in Chicago and had gone to a local corner store and said those doomed words, the consequences would have been different. Place can make all the difference.

On a different note, the chapter is called "coming to terms with place." I found a lot of the readings discussed what it means to occupy a space and what it means to occupy a place. Apparently, depending on the writer, the better situation can be place or space. But regardless of how they name it, it seems that they all agree that it is worse "to sightsee" (be mindless) and much better to do--canoe on a lake, build a home (again), or replenish the earth--in life. I happen to concur. I guess the "do" part--the work, action, creation, etc.--is what makes a house a home, makes wage into wealth, and makes life memorable.

Project 2: Hey, What's Up?

Project "Hey, What's up?" should really be called "Hey, What's Hot?" -- why, you ask? Because I'm doing infrared saunas! Haha. If you had asked me earlier today, I would have worked that joke into "confusing," "hard" and "stupid," depending on my then level of frustration, that perhaps some of you are still working through. Good luck.

As far as I can tell, there is news about infrared saunas in like the sauna-niche market, but so far no general/mainstream news articles (meaning, I googled it and the first 50 posts were not from the NYT, BBC, Cosmo, etc.). I found a magazine/blog article (it doesn't look like a very legit magazine), but it was posted this spring. So really, I feel like this constitutes new. And there's enough information that I'll be able to describe it, and a few pictures from companies selling them, so I'll be able to work with a graphic or two.

For those of you still killing yourselves over the topic, I think it's possible to get around the "new" part. If articles have been published about it--were they from an industry insider or a general news outlet? I feel like any articles on the inside are fair game. Because, like other people have suggested, how could we write about something new, if it was so new that nothing had been written on it. It's new to me, and it's going to be new to a large segment of the population--even those who keep abreast of the field that it's in, then I think that counts. Although, don't take my word for it, chances are I'll get a mysterious post from a professor stating that I am in fact, very wrong. Ha.