Sunday, May 01, 2005

Final Thoughts

As I wrote the title of this last entry I was reminded of Jerry Springer show, and how after an hour of debachery he would sum up his thoughts, although I only saw the show a couple of times (really I did not watch that show) it reminded me of the Simpson's episode where they go on Jerry Springer to confront the idea that Maggie was the baby of Khan's (the alien) and not Homer's and at the end Maggie kills Jerry Springer. It was a halloween episode, and was quite funny, but in all seriousiness this will be my last entry. There are many things that evoke fascination throughout this semester. The idea of how my entry starts out, that of secondary orality, the memory theathers, and especially Cabalaism. This lead me to think about some of the research that I had done on The Tempest and the idea that most people believe that Caliban's name is an anagram for Cannibal, yet some liken it to Cabala, and the idea that Caliban may be closer to divine knowledge or the true sense of God than Shakespeare can come to it through his books. Just another example of how the oral culture and the literate culture can coexist. This class has brought me to the realization that there is much that can be learned from our oral cultures, and that it is something to keep in the back of our literate minds. Because I am getting a minor in Native American Studies, I have long known the imporatance that oral stories had and the magical powers that was embodied in these utterances. The idea that the spoken word is alive while the written word is dead. I think that these realizations will help me to appreciate the oral and written cultures more, because although I love the oral culture, I don't plan on forgoing my written books yet. Although as Dr. Sexson has pointed out, books as we know them are becoming increasingly unneeded, and that in the future we may just have ebooks, or books that we push a button and the chapter appears. I know that I am purchasing an ipod so that I can download books and listen to them as I do housework, drive, go to the park, etc. So that our idea of literacy is changing, and maybe in the future we will have a class that looks at the lost art of the written text, who knows. I do believe in Faith that their is something intrinsically benefitual to hearing the spoken word, as she spoke about in listening to Noah's Ark. And many people have shown the benefits of listening to tapes as we sleep to internalize the message. Another Simpson's episode that brings this to mind is when Homer tries to get a weight loss tape to listen to as he sleeps, but the send him the vocabulary builder, and although he gains weight, he is much more ligquistically capable. So Dr. Sexson may have his Wake, but I have my simspons, a sort of secondary orality that I carry with me, I believe that through the Simpsons you can learn a lot about literature, art, and the debates society is having. It may seem like a quaint little sitcom, but has many layers and levels similar to hypertext. You just have to have the knowledge to unlock the mysteries, and I think that is what this class has taught me. You must have knowledge about the cultures and technologies that have come before you in order to more fully understand the technology that we experience everyday. I know that I appreciate writing more, yet feel that the oral culture still has a vibrant place in our society. I don't want to be one of those people who just uses natuaral things, such as the telephone, but explores all of the avenues, the memory theathers, the art of orality, and the practicality of writing and the Internet. So thank you for your great leadership Dr. Sexson, you are like Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, you are my captain, o'captain! We must seize the day and expand our minds to all of the possiblities, and then we may be closer to finding the divine knowledge that some many of our ancestors have searched for. TIS ONLY IN THEIR DREAMS THAT MEN TRULY BE FREE,'TWAS ALWAYS THUS, AND ALWAYS THUS WILL BE. -KEATING.

Final Day in Class :-(

So today we finished class, and I must say that although I am excited for school to be out for the summer, I am sad that our journey through oral traditions has ended. I think that this class has been quite intriquing, and intellectual stimulating. I think that the presentations have been fantastic, and that I understand the great change that writing has had on the world. I am happy to understand that our President is not an illeterate, but just in the secondary orality class, although that makes me sad that he was still elected, at least he is totally not without some literate knowledge. If you click on Bushism you will be taken to the site, today's quote is, "It's in our country's interests to find those who would do harm to us and get them out of harm's way."—Washington, D.C., April 28, 2005
So this last class entry will go over what we did in class, the last few presentations, and then what is expected on the final. Dr. Sexson did say that we should be familiar with our classmates ejournals as this is an important part of the class.
Steph gave her presentation on the Grimm Brothers and how they were influenced by culture, and the social implications this had on the fairy tales.
Jennifer gave her presentation on mueseums, and how our talk about the muses influencing museums interested her. How the muesuems are becoming much more tactile, or hands on. ORality is infiltration muesuems, and how it would be if we would honor the sites with poems or odes, she talked about a few technologies that are being used, hand held computers, eye glasses that gives you more information on the subject you are looking at, and these head phones that give you an immersive sound scape. Very interesting.
Kelly talked about memory and combined research with personal experience. How her grandma had alzheimers and how this affected memory, no short term memory, but the ability to tell elaborately detailed stories of her older memories. Finally coming to the conclusion that memory cannot be confined to a particular theory, much to vast.
Hanna talked about how oral story tellers must also be actors, that they share 2 mindframes with actors. 1.) Feel audience, comes through with practice and also as a natural gift. 2.) the ability to see yourself from the outside. Ong defined acting -secondary orality-different from oral narrative because text is written. Victor Turner was someone that Dr. Sexson suggested that we read, guide to acting, antropologist on indigineous socities.
Wes talked about psychology of trickster figure-much more in oral than literate study. He then read to us a traditional trickster story that as Dr. Sexson pointed out, was not really an oral performance, because he would have needed to memorize and use the techniques that Hanna pointed out.
Zac spoke of the way in which the Rainer Beer can has a picture of the Chichaw mountian range from Alabama, not Mt. Rainer. The idea that iconography was around way before writing, pictograms, etc. and that Icons also have individual stories. Talked about how this story also involves the walkabout memory technique we had spoke about earlier in the semester. Zac also weaved in his 50 memory items through the story which we were unaware of, so he gave a great performance of the oral culture, a talk that accomplished his goals and was entertaining.
Sam spoke of a poem by Shel Silverstien and the idea that some literacy is striving for orality. Like in Silverstien's books that are targeted for a younder audience which is more oral, there is much repetition, and there are images to go along with the stories. Playwrights also have to hear dialogue to write, and unfortunately because we are so engrained in the literate society, we much use literate to reconstruct the oral. All oral attempts are doomed to failure because we are pre-programmed in the literate culture.

Final
Ong Chapter 7 & Yates Chapter 9 plus Individual and Group Presentations

Dr. Sexson left us with these last thoughts regarding the state of education, as Dustin pointed out, teachers not so necessary with the Internet, but as an educator you must provide doing things that are innumberable, or things that you cannot get from information alone. Always think about how what you are doing could be memorable in 20 years, Dr. Sexson thinks that for some of his students this class will fulfill that requirement, and would like us to email him in 20 years. He also suggested that we read "Lessons of the Masters" by Steiner. That true teaching is by example, we are the midwife for pregnant spirit awakening the forgotten. That writing induces a neglect of memory. And finally that we should rent Faherenhiet 451.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My Final Paper-Orality as Demonstrated Through the Tempest

Here is a copy of my paper for your pleasure. I would just like to add that this is a topic in which I could have written 10-20 pages more on, but as you know at the end of the semester time is tight, so this is just a short version. The similarities between Caliban and Prospero representing the oral vs. literate is fascinating. Hopefully you will enjoy the discovery as much as I did.

Where Oral and Literate Cultures Clash: The Tempest

Throughout the study of oral traditions, many dimensions have come to the forefront. The idea of two cultures clashing, and one becoming more dominate than the other has been a topic of many discussions, yet through looking at the play by William Shakespeare, The Tempest, these two divergent life views come into focus. Prospero who has been cast out onto this deserted island epitomizes the literate culture. He has used the tools of reading and writing to maneuver control over the natural world, namely Ariel, and in turn over the natural world’s inhabitants, namely Caliban. Caliban on the other hand is still quite rooted in the oral tradition or mind frame, although he has acquired some language skills, taught how to speak English, he still is amazed by Prospero’s command over the natural world and speaks of destroying his books, the key to Prospero’s power. Exploring how this work encompasses the pre-literate and literate domains of society will be the focus of this paper. Showing the ways in which the life views and consciousness of the two characters are diametrically opposed through the text will prove the theories Walter Ong asserts regarding writing and reading changing consciousness and with this, losing the ability to hear the songs nature sings.
Prospero comes to the island a highly literate individual, his “magic” or art is contained in his books, and it is this obsession with the literate world which has lead to his overthrow as Duke of Milan. When he arrives in this foreign land, he is able to free the spirit of air, Ariel, and befriend the only other man, Caliban. (Some would dispute if Caliban was fully human, or half monster, but given the time the play was written, native inhabitants would have been viewed as not human, so that may explain some of the implications in the text.) Yet when Caliban is implicated in the attempted rape of Prospero’s daughter Miranda, he becomes enslaved by Prospero. Whether Caliban understood the subtitles of the charge of rape, being unsavvy in the English language, brings to light the power that foreign language has over a primarily oral culture. Because Caliban is not aware of the subtle nuances of this accusation, he is guilty of the offense without being aware of the gravity, caught between a truly oral or natural culture that does not have a term for rape, and of the literate cultures that have laws and customs preventing this type of offense. Caliban goes on to abhor the language that Prospero has taught him, “You taught me language, and my profit on’t/ Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you/ For learning me your language!” (1.2.366-68). Although this quote does not take into account the language that Caliban already possessed, the language of nature, or the song that the earth sings.
Caliban claims the island belongs to him, “This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother/ Which thou tak’st from me. When thou cam’st first/ Thou strok’st me and made much of me, wouldst give me/…and teach me how/ To name the bigger light, and how the less, / That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee, /And showed thee all the qualities o’th’ isle” (1.2.334-40). Examining this quote shows how Caliban, who is in touch with nature, helps Prospero survive, by showing him the goodness of nature and the island. Yet he is then cast aside when a misunderstanding regarding the language that Prospero has given him, without full understanding, misappropriates the written codes. This quote sets up perfectly the ways in which the two characters look at nature. Caliban sees nature from an oral perspective. He is in touch with the land, can find the “fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile”, whereas Prospero must rely on his books and “magic” to gain control over the inhabitants of this land to survive (1.2.341). Without Caliban and his ability to speak the language of the earth, to know the earth and nature in a deeper sense which allows him to coexist with nature. It is this knowledge that Caliban in turn tries to teach Prospero, the language of the island, a much more powerful gift than the language given to Caliban. Kane points out, “human dialogues with the earth and sky vary with the relationship humanity has with it’s environment”, so the dialogue that Caliban has with nature is divergently different than the dialogue Prospero has with nature (Kane 24).
Prospero looks to control the natural world, whereas Caliban sees nature as a part of his consciousness. This is where the idea of Ong’s that “writing changes consciousness” comes into play. Because Prospero is so intertwined with the literate world, and his books, he is unaware of the language of the earth, or the language that Caliban speaks with, “Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, / Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not./Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments/ Will hum about mine ears,” (3.2.130-33). Prospero has lost the ability to converse with the natural world, and according to Kane because populations are, “[n]o longer constrained by the checks and balances of survival in nature, populations are now controlled by social class” (Kane 21). Prospero is more concerned with enslaving nature and her inhabitants rather than understanding Caliban and his world. It is this ability to separate oneself from the natural world, and give time to introspective thought or as Ong states, “[b]y separating the knower from the known, writing makes possible increasingly articulate introspectively, opening the psych as never before not only to external objective world quite distinct from itself but also to the interior self against whom the objective world is set” (Ong 104). Precisely because Prospero has been able to focus his energy on thought outside of mere memorization, he has gained the ability to become more analytical, yet has lost the ability to converse with nature, he has traversed the boundaries of the natural world to that of the unnatural convention of reading and writing, a boundary that Caliban has not made, and therefore will be at odds with each other’s life views.
Yet Caliban is not a fool, and understands the power that Prospero holds is within his books. When he has enlisted the aid of Stefano and Trinculo to kill Prospero he warns them to “first seize his books” (3.2.84). As Ong asserts, “[w]riting is often regarded at first as an instrument of secret and magic power,” and Caliban sees Prospero’s book as his “sorcery”, “I say by sorcery he got this isle;/From me he got it” (3.2.50-51). So although, as stated earlier, Caliban does not posses a full understanding of the language Prospero has taught him, he can see the power in which this new technology holds, a sort of magic, that is able to control the natural world.
By exploring the play, The Tempest, one can see the way in which the clashes of the oral culture and the literate culture are already playing out. As stated before the writing culture has moved towards a social class structure and this enables a context of “otherness”. The oral culture, represented by Caliban, is seen as not quite human, or lacking the cognitive ability to control nature, whereas in reality it is just simply a different life view. Caliban does not feel the need to enslave the natural world, but is content to listen and sing the songs of the earth, “…an affectionate counterpoint to the earth’s voices, with no ambition to direct them or force them to give up their meanings” (Kane 14). Prospero is fully entrenched in the typographic culture and feels the need to control the earth with his knowledge and books, therefore exhibiting the clash of the two cultures.

Salman Rushdie

Here is the article that Dr. Sexson sent to us. It was quite interesting and I thought I would post it. Salman Rushdie will always remind me of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer thinks that this guy at their health club is Mr. Rushdie, because he has changed his name to Trout, which is a fish. It is a funny episode, and shows the way in which secondary orality has seeped into our unconcious. It also goes back to the ideas we discussed in class, how Salman Rushdie is primarily an oral story teller, and the way in which he can juggle the balls, and still bring it all together, probably the closest thing that we may witness of an oral bard.
Books vs. GoonsPowerful writing stumps ayatollahs and sets free vibrating broomsticksBy Salman RushdieApril 24, 2005Copyright Salman Rushdie http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-rushdie24apr24,0,7200094.story Does writing change anything? A butterfly flaps its wings in India, and we feel the breeze on our cheeks here in New York. A throat is cleared somewhere in Africa and in California there's an answering cough. Everything that happens affects something else, so to answer "yes" to the question before us is not to make a large claim. Books come into the world, and the world is not what it was before those books came into it. The same can be said of babies or diseases. Books, since we are speaking of books, come into the world and change the lives of their authors for good or ill, and sometimes change the lives of their readers too. This change in the reader is a rare event. Mostly we read books and set them aside, or hurl them from us with great force, and pass on. Yet sometimes there is a small residue that has an effect. The reason for this is the always unexpected and unpredictable intervention of that rare and sneaky phenomenon, love. One may read and like or admire or respect a book and yet remain entirely unchanged by its contents, but love gets under one's guard and shakes things up, for such is its sneaky nature. When a reader falls in love with a book, it leaves its essence inside him, like radioactive fallout in an arable field, and after that there are certain crops that will no longer grow in him, while other, stranger, more fantastic growths may occasionally be produced. We love relatively few books in our lives, and those books become parts of the way we see our lives; we read our lives through them, and their descriptions of the inner and outer worlds become mixed up with ours - they become ours. Love does this, hate does not. To hate a book is only to confirm to oneself what one already knows, or thinks one knows. But the power of books to inspire both love and hate is an indication of their ability to make alterations in the fabric of what is. Writing names the world, and the power of description should not be underestimated. Literature remembers its religious origins, and some of those first stories of sky gods and sea gods not only became the source of an ocean of stories that flowed from them but also served as the foundations of the world into which they, the myths, were born. There would have been little blood sacrifice in Latin America or ancient Greece if it had not been for the gods. Iphigenia would have lived, and Clytemnestra would have had no need to murder Agamemnon, and the entire story of the House of Atreus would have been different; bad for the history of the theater, no doubt, but good in many ways for the family concerned.
Writing invented the gods and was a game the gods themselves played, and the consequences of that writing, holy writ, are still working themselves out today, which just shows that the demonstrable fictionality of fiction does nothing to lessen its power, especially if you call it the truth. But writing broke away from the gods, and in that rupture much of its power was lost. Prophecy is no longer the game, except for futurologists, but then futurology is fiction too. It can be defined as the art of being wrong about the future. For the rest of us, the proper study of mankind is Man. We have no priests; we can appeal to no ultimate arbiter, though there are critics among us who would claim such a role for themselves.
In spite of this, fiction does retain the occasional surprising ability to initiate social change. Here is the fugitive slave Eliza running from Simon Legree. Here is Wackford Squeers, savage head of Dotheboys Hall. Here is Oliver Twist asking for more. Here is a boy wizard with a lightning scar on his forehead, bringing books back into the lives of a generation that was forgetting how to read. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" changed attitudes toward slavery, and Charles Dickens' portraits of child poverty inspired legal reforms, and J.K. Rowling changed the culture of childhood, making millions of boys and girls look forward to 800-page novels, and improbably popularizing vibrating broomsticks and boarding schools. On the opening night of "Death of a Salesman," the head of Gimbel's department store rushed from the theater vowing not to fire his own aging Willy Lomans. In this age of information overkill, literature can still bring the human news, the hearts-and-minds news. The poetry of Milosz and Herbert and Szymborska and Zagajewski has done much to create the consciousness, to say nothing of the conscience, of those great poets' time and place. The same may be said of Heaney, Brodsky, Walcott. Nuruddin Farah, so long an exile from Somalia, has carried Somalia in his heart these many years and written it into being, brought into the world's sight that Somalia to which the world might otherwise have remained blind. From China, from Japan, from Cuba, from Iran, literature brings information, the base metal of information, transmuted into the gold of art, and our knowledge of the world is forever altered by such transformational alchemy. [Last week we honored] the memory of Susan Sontag and Arthur Miller, great writers, intellectuals and truth-tellers. The old idea of the intellectual as the one who speaks truth to power is still an idea worth holding on to. Tyrants fear the truth of books because it's a truth that's in hock to nobody; it's a single artist's unfettered vision of the world. They fear it even more because it's incomplete, because the act of reading completes it, so that the book's truth is slightly different in each reader's different inner world, and these are the true revolutions of literature, these invisible, intimate communions of strangers, these tiny revolutions inside each reader's imagination; and the enemies of the imagination, politburos, ayatollahs, all the different goon squads of gods and power, want to shut these revolutions down, and can't. Not even the author of a book can know exactly what effect his book will have, but good books do have effects, and some of these effects are powerful, and all of them, thank goodness, are impossible to predict in advance. Literature is a loose cannon. This is a very good thing. Salman Rushdie, the author of nine novels, including the forthcoming "Shalimar the Clown," is president of PEN merican Center. He gave this speech April 18 at the PEN World Voices Conference: "The Power of the Pen: Does Writing Change Anything?"Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Term Paper Presentations Part Duex

Well we are winding down, and I am a little stressed to find out that our ejournals were due today, so I am will be frantically trying to finish up my thoughts and get some of this stuff down. I know that I have at least 4 solid journal entries that I wish to write, so hopefully I will get them down, more rambling for you to read. The presentations started off today very well. Bryan J. refuted the idea presented by Ong regarding the importance of gesture. He had a lot of information and made some really interesting connections, asserting that sign lanuage accelerates language acquisition, and that it is hard to determine by the development of a child who is deaf and a hearing child. Courtney did something that I know I was interested in, and if you read my Finnegans Wake entry you will see that I have taken up the gaunlet thrown down by Dr. Sexson and will try and complete the works of Joyce, and especially the Wake. But enough about me, Courtney did a hypertext experiment with the Wake and it looks quite amazing. If you would like you can travel to her site by clicking on the Wake. The printout of her site that went through class looked amazing and although I have glanced at the site, I plan on trying to spend some real time with it tomorrow. Ed looked out memorization and how literate cultures and oral cultures differ on the idea of memory. ORal presenters may think that they are giving a verbatim account, but in actually they are not. We need to think of the idea of not only being able to memorize something but also being able to present the material well, that is where the oral culture surpasses the literate culture. That the body is ultimately tied to the presentation. Justin looked at Tolkien, and the ideas of literacy in the lord of the rings books. Asserting that Tolkien felt that writing was not a bad thing, that it keeps records, and that we may have somethings to learn from those who have gone before us. Mick gave a presentation on various thoughts and ideas he had regarding our study of oral traditions. Essentially writing down to see what he thought, expanding on that he didn't understand Ong, that he felt there were a lot of quote worthy material, but as awhole not meaningful to him. Yates he felt was dense, and he like Kane, and especially the presentation aspect of the class. Jeremiah gave us some entertainment, and it was amazing to listen to "Boy named Sue" by Johnny Cash and to see the oral aspects of it. It reminded me of the instruction that Dr. Sexson gave us to go out and listen to the common language. To me, it was the common folk, or the way the oral language is spoken reproduced in that song. Very Nice!! Dustin came in neurons a firing, and explained how Vico's theory on chaos is playing at, and that at some point humans are going to have to become Gods are create more Gods, that we are in chaos, and that any shumk because of Internet can seem enlightened. A very worthy presentation. Valerie was next and again she enlightened us on the relationship between the memory theater and tarot cards, linking this to the memorization and the astrology elements, showing how they are all tied together. The four main cards of the tarot being the 4 elements of memory. Shauna was next and her presentation was very interesting and one that I am hoping in which she will post her paper so that I can see more in depth what she was pointing out, although I think anyone who is familiar with our President, W, will understand her linking him to secondary orality, in fact I think Dr. Sexson may have alluded to it as well. She found 6 examples that Ong points to as being primarily oral conventions that W has been shown to use. Unfortunately I had to leave class a little early, and did not get to see the final few presentations. But it is amazing how each person took the information that we had been given throughout the semester and tweaked it into their own work, we got a vast diverse offering of ideas and thoughts and it was nice to get to hear each person orally speak about the work since this is oral traditions, again I was amazed by the brilliance of our class. WE ROCK!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Term Paper Presentations

Today we finished up with the memory things and then headed into our paper topics, again there was a wide variety, and much great information.
Jeremy did the names mentioned in Joyce's Ulysses Chapter entitled Cyclops, suck up, just kidding.
Sam did several poems relating to WWI and they were anti-war in tone, she always does such a great job of presenting, and really gets the audience involved.
Shawna did 50 Bob Marley songs, which I loved because I love that rasta man.
Then we started the papers, and Tracy discussed the levels of literate cultures in the Tolkien books, Lord of the Rings. Stating that writing is evil and in Gandar it can kill you.
Faith remarked on how she remembers going to sleep as a child listening to Noah's Ark on tape, and how she feels this can enhance your memory through listening. That listening is in important quality in an oral culture, and linking music to the oral culture which we have seen through Kane as well. She also brought up the idea that you can't write rhythmn and blues, and that it is a sort of improvisational technique that uses various chords to remind us of the rift, a very thought provoking topic.
Heather's inspiration for her paper was the video "Waking Life", and how words are symbols and they are dead. Language was created to communicate but becomes a problem when trying to talk about emotions such as love. Not only written word dead, but words, and by using words getting closer to communication.
Jeremiah gave us the Idiot's Guide to Oral Traditions, which I thought was a great idea.Took the stories of Joel Chandler Harris, stories that originated from the African Trickster stories and color-coded the entries to correspond with Ong's 9 forms of oral composition. Also pointing out the importance of flat characters to the oral tradition.
Nikole- focused on memorable thoughts, memory as well as passages from literature, song. Imparting on us again that the biggest sin is to forget and the most important things is to remember.
Stacy- writing is a benefit, but there is something great about oral culture, something that we should try and recapture.
Kristi spoke about her returning from the Peace Corps in Guinea, and the language, poolar that this man had created to assimilate more closely to the dialect and how this has a tremendous cultural and community identity.
Allison-Jabberwocky is Carroll's oral poem. Humpty Dumpty is the linguist, and every character recites a poem, although it is in a book, it is very close or is harkening back to the oral tradition in the same way and before Joyce did this in Finnegans Wake.
Cara- focused on the Ong idea of how writing reshapes conciousness, using the technique of psychoanalysis to dissect the quote. Very interesting to incorporate the Literary Criticism that she is taking now with this class.
Brian talked about the fictionalized audience: 1. writer must construct cast in role, the audience must also correspondingly fictionalize itself, whereas an oral audience is directly in front of bard. The conflicts that this creates in the written word.
Jennie talked about the power of the spoken word over the written, and how powerful those utterances are.
Josh-talked about eastern/indian music and how the ragga/talla is the muscial personality or the energy of the song. That there is a center in which the improvise around, similar to the structure of the epic poems or epithats. Very interesting.
All of the papers sounded fascinating, and it shows how different we all read the same text, that although the text is dead and formed in space and time, the readers still brings so much to the interpretation. And through these discussions and ponderance on the issues bring the words back to life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Time-Musing on

One of the things that I found interesting in Ong's book was the idea of time not existing until the chirographic era. Now this was not the first time that I had been made aware of something like this, but it just struck me as how different our cultures and lives have become because of writing. "Early charters conveying land in England were originally not even dated" (Ong 96). This was suggested to be true because people at that time were not inundated with time. The people would have no idea what calendar year it was, because when do you take time from, the cruxification, the creation of the world, the birth of Christ, and "was it presumptuious to date a secular document as Popes dated theirs?" (Ong 96). In our high tech lifestyle, their is not getting away from the clock or the issue of time. As soon as I wake up in the morning the first thing I try to determine is what time is it, if I don't have my alarm clock already set, this will tell me if how much more time I have to sleep, do I need to get up and start working on that paper that is due in 5 hours, etc. Yes I am a total prograstinator. This is a society without newspapers, and time would seem inconsequential, which is what grabbed my attention in the first place. Just as writing has become a technology that we cannot survive without, so has the idea of time. I cannot even pathom a world without deadlines, alarms, and time always pushing in. I remember about 8 years ago, I decided that I was sick of being a slave to time, and that I was no longer going to allow it to control my life. I stopped wearing a watch, and yet in a way it made me more a slave to time, becasue although I may not know what time it is, it was still pushing on and controlling me. I needed to know the time to be to work on time, or I would have no job, and no food or housing. I also needed to know the time because I needed to know when the bus left so that I could make it to that job. Plus appointments, etc, I may not have wanted time, but it sure wanted me. I became adept at reading other people's watches on the bus, in casual environments, etc. I still don't wear a watch, and am still completely preoccupied with time, so don't get alarmed if you see me staring at your writst, I don't have some weird fetish, unless it is with time. And if you look to literature time is a big topic. Just off the top of my head I can think of Mrs. Dalloway, which time is ticking away, and she feels she needs to have one more great party, to make the lives of her guests beautiful one more time, Tom Robbins investigates time in many of his novels, the one I am thinking about is Jitterbug Perfume, I know Borges also looks at time and memory, and I am sure if I were to really think I could come up with many more, so time is always on our brains. I mean we have websites which will tell us when we will die, I mean how much more consumed, or obsessessed can we be with time. Yet I understand that it was not a utopian free for all without time. The oral cultures had their ways of determining the time of year, and this was the seasons. In their highly agricultural lifestyles this type of time keeping helped to tell them when to plant, to harvest, etc, and as Kane points out also helped to determine the activities of the season. As he stated in Chapter 5, the winter season was a time for telling of stories, rememberance, reflect on the legends and thier ancestors. So to say that the oral culture was without time would be false, yet I think that it would be fair to say that they are not obessed with time in the way our society is. And really it is all just arbitrary, I mean the same questions that confounded the oral cultures about dating their documents still exists today, what is our time based on? I know it has something to do with the calculated seasons, etc, but really isn't it all just a technology, a creation, like writing. A way to try and make sense of a unsensible world, a bunch of random symbols that we have propagandaed into everyone minds? I don't know, but I think I would have liked to live a couple of days in this oral culture to see what it would feel like not always to have a clock ticking over my head.

Auditory vs Vision-Which is Stronger?

This is in response to the Presentation by Group 5-Valerie asked us to think about what is a stronger imput, visual or auditory. I think because as Ong points out we are moving into a second phase of orality, the secondary orality phase, where icons are becoming increasingly important and powerful in our culture, I would have to say that I think the visual aspect of memory is more important. Although I do believe that as the presentation went on I was able to pick up more of the auditory that was going on. And although I remember thinking that I would remember certain aspects or phrases that had been repeated, I realized while trying to compose this entry that I had missed out on remembering those ideas, I think that what Yates says about memory needing something visually memorable, grotesque, elaborate to aid in the recollection of memory seemed to be true. I remember that Joyce was being read, and I thought it was from Finnegans Wake, but then it might have changed, to another book. I also thought I heard something about the raven and how it is well regarded in the oral world. I also remember I think Cindy talking about if a story is not remembered then it is dead, or that words are dead if not spoken, I am not sure, and what is even more disheartening is that I remember hearing that and thinking that I would remember it, so obviously even the workout that my memory has had during this semester it is still a flabby outshape muscle. I think that our culture, especially college students, is so engrained in the notion of writing to remember things, that without my scribbles of notes, I was unable to retain the information. Yet I do think that when you put the two senses together you would have a easier time of remembering. Maybe if I had witnessed the performance I may have been able to retain the information, yet because the conversations seemed so erratic and all over the place, it may have been easier for me to remember without the visual distraction. It would have been interesting if the group would have done 10 minutes of just auditory, and then 10 minutes of just visual to see what we retained more. I think that our society had become so much of multi-taskers, and that we are so used to doing more than one thing at a time. Like right now, I am typing on the computer, I have the tv on, I have laundry in the washer, and am in the middle of cooking dinner, so that all of those distractions, or visual and audio noises work together. It reminds me of the article that Dr. Sexson brought up where one lady did not want to use technology, while the other want to use all of the technology at once. I think that is where our culture is, still engrained in the typography, but moving to a more oral iconic based society, heck we have a secondary oral president, so we must be moving in that direction, which I think is not a bad thing. It allows people who may not have access to education on a more level playing field, but the dominance in power still reigns with the written word, and the way in which to get that power is still through the written word, in the way we speak and write. So although we may be moving towards a more oral culture for social justice to reign we must still pursue the ends with writing.

Complimentarity in Myth

Okay here is a post that will hopefully try and clear up some of the confusion that our looong re-enactment have inspired. The problem with our chapter was that it was a long myth, and therefore we were unable to really give you guys any insight, it is a somewhat hard chapter to wrap your head around, I read it three times. But hopefully this will give you more of an understanding. I think this is one of those books that you can take things out of by reading individual chapters, but to really experience the full meaning, you must read the entire book, because I think it builds on each chapter. But without further ado, here goes!
"The term hieracrch denotes an organization having distinct yet interrelated levels of activity or being....The term hierarchy is useful so long as one does not confuse it with the power pyramid spoken of by sociologists. In the power pyramid, all mind and control is concentrated at the top, like the eye of Reason surmounting the pyramid of Matter on the back of the American one dollar bill. In contrast, in a natural ecology no part of the system is in a position to control the rest of the system unilaterally. That is because the system is informational in character." Kane pg 165. This is to say that in myths, their is no one power that controls the other, but a working together, and that the myths are not to control the listeners but to inform. The myth that we re-enacted was part 2 of a 4 part myth called the "Branches of the Mabinogi", our myth representing the 2nd part or that of the summer. Each branch representing one of the seasons; spring, summer, fall, and winter. So that the 2nd branch is the branch that is concerned with war, "a set of thematice categoy of "youthful exploits", as seen through the youthful exhuberance of Evnissyen, and the war that follows between the two worlds. The spring branch is concerned with the idea of fertility and rebirth and is celebrated in the Celtic world by Beltain, May 1st which marks the earth turning into her explicitely fertile phase. From dream to objectification-re-establishing boundaries-wooing and betrothals. The fall phase is the banishment phase, where the fertility and light are starting to wain, it is concerned with the consequences of loss of feritility in the human world. On Nov. 1st "Samhain" is the foreboding of these nights-movement of the earth to the dark-during this hibernation of nature & growing power of the new year, people retreat to their homes to reflect on the legends and their ancestors. A sort of mythtelling explosion, to remember the lives and customs of those that have gone before, and to celebrate. Winter therefore is the story of sterility. Where nothing is blossoming, and death is a common thought or theme. It is during these two sacred dates May 1st and Nov 4th that the boundaries between the 2 worlds are most permeable-so exchanges between the realm of the living and the realm of the spirit is most accesible. The 4 branches represent the 4 seasons or birth, adventure, disapperance, & death. The 4 branches of the Mabinogi set in order of the seasons is a whole mythology. In the center of the mythology is the g reat complementarity between 2 kinds of power: dreaming and doing. Two worlds that must sustain each other mutually.
So as demonstrated by the myth we re-enacted because the cauldron of life was taken from the spirit world, the gift of life must have something missing, and because it was speech, and as we have seen without words or speech the oral culture is basically dead, this was the complimentartity, it was a warning to the people not to forget hte power that the spirit world holds over fertility, "With its vision of what seem to be speechless clones emerging from the Cauldron of Rebirth, the myth stands as a warning against the modern temptation to manipulate the priniciple of fertility.
Because this chapter is so dense, it is hard to sum up, but hopefully that makes it a little more clear. In myth there are complimentary elements, and the living realm and the spirit realm must work together if harmony is to be accomplished, and once something is taken from one world, then the other world must surrender something in order to substain this balance.

50 Discrete Memorization

Well today in class we were again amazed by our fellow classmates with their ability to remember, some were informative, others like mine, more of a comedy, yet this seemed to me to be easier than the first, of course it was half as long, but I think that once you have gotten the idea of the memory theather down, then it is a breeze, although I have to admit I have not taken full advantage of the memory theather, and memorized my 100 with rote memorization. I have a high capacity for memory, not as great as Harold Bloom who is reported to have a photographic memory, but a pretty darn good one. I will now list what the presentations where and give some brief comments to some.
We started off with finishing up some of the oral poems, Jeremy sang a rather racy song in ode to blue-eyed Sophie, and it was very informative.
Cara- recited wildflowers you would see if you drove through Idaho, MT, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming which I thought was pretty cool, she did a great job.
Allison did the 50 top artists, which was interesting, not unlike the debate we had in Lit Crit last semester, it is totally subjective, and no one will ever agree, although I think the Beatles were number 1 as it should be, just like good old willie shakes should be number one on the top msu bookmark, or any for that matter in my opinion.
Debbie (me) did 50 Simpson characters, which wasn't really a stretch for me, as I love that show, and the hardest part was parring down who I would include, because there are so many great characters, although I did skip Chief Clancy Wiggum and his family, luckily I had more than 50, so I think I am okay, plus as we have learned a good bard does not admit mistakes but keeps on truckin'.
Ed's presentation I thought was the most impressive, he did Prometheus in german and english, and it was awesome. He has a great accent, and it was some pretty heavy stuff, I was very amazed and realize how many talents our fellow students have that we know nothing of, that is one of the reasons that Dr. Sexson's classes are my favorite, and wish that I would be able to have him for another class. But Ed you are the man!
Api-did mountain ranges encapsulated in a poem.
Jenny recited "oh the places you'll go", by Dr. Seuss dedicated to Api and Brian because they are graduating. She did a great job, and I thought this was a great memorization feat.
Hanna did major religions, and did a great job of reciting 70+, and being very diplomatic about it.
Brian-the past 50 Monarchs of England-which Dr. Sexson informed us is represented in the second chapter of Finnegans Wake, (shocking that he could plug Finnegans Wake again, but he did).
Juliette recited 50 foods she craves, I liked the third world coke in a bottle.
Heather- 50 top albums by Virgin-a very viceral presentation, the class got quite involved agreeing and disagreeing.
Jerimiah did his top 50 country songs, and although his favorite song was not the top song, which I don't really understand, but #1 was He stop loving her today, by George Young.
Kristi-our non english major (gasp) did parts of the brain, very impressive.
Faith recited Wink, Blink and Nod, the first book that lead her into the literary world.
Valerie recited astological signs and a lot of other information.
Tracy did names of moon besides the moon as used in literary and religion.
Stacy-who we will remember as the woman who rides Hamlet all night long thanks to Brian, recited the last 50 Kentucky Derby winners.
Josh recited a track off of his prison songs CD. He is so cute, that smile just gets ya.
Lauren-top 50 universities, I think she should have thrown in MSU, because why not she is in an oral traditions class, their is no historians.
Courtney recited the last 50 snowboards in inventory at her shop.
Jennifer did the past Nobel Prize winners and should get a reward for saying all of those difficult names, and I should thank her as well because one of the names on the list looked familiar, and it was a book I bought my boyfriend for christmas, see I have good taste, so I have begun to read it and it is fantastic, probably why he one the nobel prize. The book is called "One Man's Bible".
Wes did a poem by Shel Silverstein who is on the list of the top 100 challenged books according to the ALA, which I don't understand.
Justin-books of the Bible
Wayne - a close second behind Ed for most impressive, recited the first quartet in 4 Quartets by T.S. Eliot which is also number 41 on our list. He did it with a grace and style and softness, very impressive, but I still have to give the nod to Ed, you the man!
All in all another impressive and informative exercise. I always think that I am going to dread these presentations, and yes the Top 100 did get a bit old, but every student has such a different style and presence in front of the class that it is always fun. I miss the days of oral stories, and think that since I am going to become an English teacher that I will try and incorporate some of these techniques in my classroom. Although I fear it will tramatize some shy students, they will eventually be expected to speak in front of a group of people, and better to start early and get the hang of it, or at least not be deadly scared, then to wait until you incounter an educator such as Dr. Sexson. Our captain!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Group Presentations 2

Group 4- Complimentarity
Okay I know that our was a little long, but that is the story Kane gave us, it was also a little disorganized, but that was due to group technical difficulties, meeting problems, but I think overall it was fairly entertaining and at least somewhat amusing. It is hard to portray with limited time, props, and room to portray the epic that was our scene, but basically it was the second part of a four part story, this one representing adventure. For a deeper explanation of what our chapter was about see the journal entry entitled Complimentarity in Myth on this ejournal.

Group 5- ALthough I am not sure what the groups chapter was about I feel it had something to do with cacophony. At least that is what I got the impression of. The fact that the group forced us to be blind folded made us as listeners more attentive, because we could not see the action or try to infer what we were suppossed to be interpreting. We were allowed to let the sounds of various converstations and music sweep us away, and at one point I do believe that I did feel a sort of rhythmn or music sweep over the disordent sounds. I felt like the man who could hear all of the animals voices at once, and it was a little disheartening at first, but then it became almost soothing. It was strange how my ears would focus on different parts of the many voices, at times I could hear a voice speaking of the raven and how it is a symbol or representation for many mythical stories, or the voice reading Joyce, or the idea that a story without a voice is dead, after trying to recall what was said later in the day, I could not remember all of it, even though I know that this speaker (I think Cindy) had used the techniques of repetition during this piece, and as I heard it, I remeber thinking, that is interesting, I won't forget that. But obviously my memory is not up to par with Lull or Bruno, so alas by the time I got home and tried to remember everything, I could only get pieces. I could see the frustration and reason that oral patterns had to be repetitive or used other wise nothing could be stored and pulled back. The overall mood of the performance was excited, agitated, yet in the end became somehow soothing, as in all of the voices, once I became accostumed to them, melted together to create a new song, that worked together. The group asked us to write a response regarding do you think that the oral aspect is more powerful than the visual aspect, kind of comparing Ong to Yates, or Camillo's theather, this will be addressed in another journal entry.
Group 6- I am always amazed how many different ways our class will come up with presenting different things. I have to admit I wish that our group would have done something a little more creative, but oh well. Just the fact that people can interpret and mold presentations in such differing ways is awesome. I really like Group 6's puppet show. And they way in which they broke the story up into 3 different narrations was great, really pulling together the idea of context. I thought the writing for the different contexts was great, and that they really hit home the idea of how myths, especially the same story can take on such different meanings put into different contexts. I thought the explanation at the end, with describing how stories have been stripped of much of what makes them memorable for oral cultures, such as the explicit details, and graphic images, and the watered down versions we recieve in the written culture. The reason for this is because with text and writing we do not need those graphic images to remember because we can always look up the information on the handy internet, just google it. All in all it was another great day in oral traditions, thanks so much for all of the presentations, each one helped to shed some light on the book by Kane.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Presentations Day One

The presentations today were great! We had some real thesbians, and of course they were all entertaining. I thought the oral map that Group One gave was great, and I think that the bottle of wine was hidden out by bear creek, but because gas prices are so high, and I have to work directly after class I wasn't able to go and find it. But it was interesting the way in which the map was oriented by landmarks and visually rather than what directions someone would normally give you. The idea that maps in the oral tradition were different and linked by spirituality made sense, and reminded me of the book, Fools Crow by James Welch. (This link gives you a small taste of the feel of this book, which I think is reminescent of the more oral culture, look at the way in which Welch describes the surroundings, similar to the map given to us by group one.) Throughout this book the scenery is marked by movements of animals, sacred areas where huge events had taken place. At first, coming from a text based culture the book was hard to follow, animals were described or you needed to understand the context that the oral culture would have used, such as salmon where referred to as the0" people who live in the water", I am paraphrasing because I haven't read the book in a year or two, but this referred to the belief held by the tribes in the Northwest where salmon were a huge importance to their survival, and during the spawning times of the year there was a ritual where you could only take one salmon, and you must return the bones and skin to the water, in the belief that these were your ancestors, and you needed to give them the ability to regenerate. The book also describe the rivers in the book by the physical descriptions, the yellowstone was referred to as elk river, becauce there were so many elk surrounding this area. One you became familiar with the terminology, the book began to flow, and you could situate yourself within the landscape of Montana, but it initially was hard. I think that is the point that Dr. Sexson was trying to impress on us at the beginning of the semester, that the oral tradition is so far removed from what we are used to that it is almost like a foreign concept or language. That in order for us to try and transcend to that mindset, we must be uncomfortable and force or brains to work and connect in different ways than our written culture is used to today.
Group 2 talked about boundaries, and the way in which certain things cannot travel beyond the boundaries of the different worlds. That although the maiden E-something (who was a hottie with that blonde hair) had traveled through different spheres, she was unable to talk about the other worlds in her new existence. I thought the group did a great job of presenting the material, and then gave the class a lot to think about regrading the different boundaries that oral cultures and myths were aware of. It reminded me of the chapter our group (4) was working on, that of complimentarity. This also had to do with boundaries, and that in the Haidu myth if something was taken from the spirit world by the human world, then the spirit world would take something from the human world. That things could transcend these boundaries, and that there was an equality between the two worlds, a balance that must be kept in place. I really like the idea of the polyphony, and the myth that Kristi related about the man who chose to be able to hear all the animal voices, a kind of music of nature that for a mind which is used to one voice or univocal, would be disturbing. This idea of being able to hear many things at the same time was extremely important in the oral tradition. A way of bringing humanity and nature into a oneness, of being able to hear the song that the world sings.
This idea of the song the world sings links to my paper topic, of looking at The Tempest by Shakespeare and seeing how Caliban and Prospero represent the oral and the written traditions respectively. The idea that Caliban can hear the music of the island, whereas Prospero is immeresed in the written culture, and is trying to tame nature through his knowledge from books. The idea being can one learn the secrets of nature without being inture with the inner harmony of that nature? You will have to wait until my term paper presentation to hear what I come up with. But boundaries seemed to be an intriguing chapter, and the group did a wonderful job of presenting it.
Group 3- well what would you expect from a group with super Brian in it. Of course the costume was amazing, but the way in which the group began the presentation, speaking of how dreams are our connection to the unconcious, or more primal aspects of our minds, harkening back to the idea of the oral culture. I loved the mood that the presentation created, and the way in which the actors moved around the room. I thought Ed was fabulous as the young excited god who was so excited he created the rivers and lakes, how appropriate for someone who loves the outdoors. The mood was reminiscent of a dream like quality, and I felt that I could feel the spirit dream up the earth and Ireland. The music added to the experience, and I felt it was a great oral presentation.
All of the groups did a wonderful job, yet after reading the introduction and Chapter 5, I realize that this will be one of the books that I finish for the summer. I love the idea of the oral tradition and Kane has a way of making the myths accessible to the uptight written minds that our culture has become. I am pursuing a minor in Native American Studies, so I have been exposed to the more oral based type of literature, I know oxymoron, and this book seems to speak to those traditions, yet expands on them, and gives you a broader base for their understanding.