Two Academic Papers 

The building that you see below is the place where I should be spending the majority of the next several weeks. I have two very important papers to write, but I am having some difficulty deciding what they should be about. Briefly, the first one should be about the nature of the "Victorian City," more specifically 19th century London. The second paper needs to be connected to the idea of "Sacred Violence." I do not have any strong leads on either paper, and I fear that this might have something to do with not knowing as much Literary Theory as I think I should.


For the first paper, the Victorian City, I am completely at sea metaphorically speaking. I figure that I might try to do something about the nature of physical space and how class differences worked in those spaces. I guess what I mean to say really is this: if you were rich in the 19th century you had more space, more mobility, but if you were poor, you were more confined. Unfortunately, I don't know if this is something that I ground in some kind of theory. Right now, this thought is an observation and does not rise to the status of a fully realized, academic thesis yet. An added restriction for this paper is that it must include some kind of connection to Dickens Bleak House, but what that connection is I haven't the foggiest idea yet.

The second paper I may have better luck with. I am going to return to some earlier work that I have done on Tim O'Brien's book, The Things They Carried. All of the stories in this collection are about a group of American soldiers during (and after) the Vietnam War. I have managed to write two other papers about two different stories in this collection before. I think I can write another paper about a third. By using "How to Tell a True War Story," and some research I did on psychological Trauma, I may be able to analyze how this seemingly secular war story has an element of sacred Trauma within it. However, I will be leaning heavily on the scapegoat elements within it and that may be stretching the story further than it will bend. But there are other stories in the collection that I could try work with as well.

I think my main project will be to swallow my pride, gather my courage, and talk to my professors about my paper plans. Even though they may not be happy with my admitting that I am not further along in the process as I should be, it looks like I am going to need some assistance to get something turned in to them by the end of the term. With the end of the term in mind, I am really going to be focusing on catching up on my reading assignments during the next four days. My only choice is to work steadily through this mess rather than doing what I normally do: which, specifically, is finding novel ways to avoid it.

24 February 2005


The end of the term is fast apporaching, so with that in mind, I really need to find a to get all of this term's work done in the next three weeks. Projects of note are two seminar papers, and one book review, which of course, requires reading the book. I have been doing pretty good with my assignments lately, but even still with my increasing productivity, I still have a backlog of stuff to do. This past week has been characterized with meetings with Professors and Program Directors. I think I have passed beyond regret stage about what I should have done, but I still can't help think that I really should have done this during last year.

Dreary Winter

As far as my personal life goes, I think I am getting a grip on my the balance between school and personal non-academic interests. Although I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I have found that my knowledge as a blogging hobbyist is proving useful and interesting to the few people who know me. I have a paper pending about the nature of blogs and hyperlinks, but it has been a few months since I have worked on it, and I already see that I am going to have to revise it. Some of the information is already out of date.

As for the above picture, I think it represents the kind of drab winter days that have been visiting here lately. The iron grey skies carry a chill that is most intense in the mornings when you have to scrape the ice off your car's windshield. On these days, it is almost a disappointment if the sun happens to come out in the afternoon. If, like me, you are dressed for the cold, the afternoon combination of the lunch induced drowsiness and unexpected warmth sap all my internal reserves for concentrated study. Plus, for some reason, the whole building in which I work is constantly overheated. Even if it is only 40 degrees outside, it is sometimes necessary to open a window.

18 February 2005

Resolved and Figment 

I'll try to post here a bit more frequently if I can. Now that I met with the appropriate advisors and professors, and now that I have resolved some of my issues here at work/school, I feel I can do a bit better about posting with more consistency. Of course, there will still be stretches of days at a time when I will have to put my blogging priority on the back burner (probably no longer than a week), but I am still committed to it and therefore will continue to do it for the forseeable future. I think I am fairly visual person, and I am enjoying posting pictures here on my site. I am not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I think the pictures look nice here, and it can be an interesting hobby of sorts when I am in the mood.

Winter Fountain

Today, after the high-water-mark of resolving a months long school issue, I decided that I needed a short break from the study routine, so I spent a little over an hour at the University Ary Museum looking at some of Andy Warhols' most famous prints. Of course there were the popular Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe displays. There were also some interestings ones of Jimmy Carter and JFK. I am not sure what to make of Warhol. Now that I am older, and can look back with some perspective (no pun intended), I realize how many people in the 80's tried to copy him. The large blocks of bold neon colors and the sketchy lines next to those colors, most of which is layered on a screen printing of a celebrity really brought that realization home. Seeing his works in person is really a lot different than looking at them in some art book. I have a new found appreciation for his ability to make a artistic composition out of his "manufactured" approach.

But part of me wonders if Warhol should not be remembered most as a comedian than as an artist. Some of his statements really seemed to me that he enjoyed putting the public on. He claimed that he thought it would be best if instead of dying, one could just "vanish" or turn into "sand." He also said that he did not want anything printed on his tombstone, he just wanted a plain slab of rock. But in the same quote, he amended his comment to indicate that the one word he wanted on his tombstone should be "Figment."

11 February 2005

Nineteenth and Twenty-fourth Centuries 

It has been over a week since I last posted, for which, all I can say is that the delay is like a result of my struggling with the increasing press of work at school. It is time to really start thinking about term paper topics for my seminar papers due in about five weeks. Research should start to take priority which means that I should be spending more time reading in the library than anything else. I would really like to read at home, but I have found that the allure of shows like Battlestar Galactica, Futurama, and Star Trek Deep Space Nine is nearly impossible to resist. My Victorian City class demands that I spend more time in the 19th century than the 24th. Thus, I commit myself to the Library on campus.


As far as spending time in the 19th century goes (specifically: London, England), it has actually been quite interesting. In 1851, there was a "Great Exhibition" of nations that drew large crowds to the "crystal palace" to see the so-called great accomplishments of mostly Western Nations. For example, the Americans brought their sewing machine (or Singer brought it, I guess). But one of my favorite displays was one from Germany which displayed the new achievements in Taxidermy. One display of animals had about five stuffed cats drinking tea, while another cat played the piano. It reminds me of the famous "Dogs playing Poker" painting that you see in thrift stores. This particular German display of animals in human poses was so popular that two policeman had to guide the crowd through the exhibition and prevent the usual crowd type problems. In any event, that is all for now. More on all of this later, I suppose.

08 February 2005