My topic for my next essay is going to be my trip to India. I had not actually thought this was going to be my essay at all. But since we did the writing assignment in class I am thinking that I might be able to turn it into a good piece. I am a little hesitant, even while doing the assignment I didn’t think I would do anything further with it. But I feel like there is a possibility to make something greater with what I wrote and I want to explore that idea. I want to use a quote from the bible but I also want to reference more than one work. I liked the way Carson used epigraphs and I think that is how I want to structure my lyrical essay. I really want to explore how I can frame this piece in a way that I haven’t done in any of my other classes. My only concern for this essay is not having enough material. For example, Carson is able to analyze a single subject in so many ways, and each time with fresh eyes, I don’t know if I will be able to do that with my essay. I want to be able to present the topic through different lens.
I like the use of the Zen story that Tzelnic uses in the beginning of his essay. I thought it was similar to how Carson places a epitaph at the beginning of her works. The reason Tzelnic includes this story is to connect it to his own experience and tell the reader that for the traveling to be enlightening you need to have an open mind to your trip. He didn’t object to go with Ben, he let his cup be empty and it is then he saw what Ben meant by paradise. He uses the story in the start to let the reader see the connection and see the epiphany type moment he had without having to spell out every word for the reader. This is something that I think is what is important to include in our own lyric essay. We have to remove the excess and really trim down what we want to say so that the reader can make inferences that we don’t necessarily say.
Something that I found interesting is the use of pictures and videos in Tzelnic’s essay. When I read this piece I felt as if it were like a blog because of its inclusion of the pics and videos. However I think artistically there is a point behind it. I really liked the use of the first two pictures. I think they provide the view for the audience that his words might not have sufficed. The second picture added humor which let the reader know about the tone of the piece. The use of the last two videos was also efficient because instead of trying verbalize the moment he shows the moment. In a scene with a action such as that I feel the reader can get lost. With the video there is no question. The other pictures I think just served as filler, I don’t think they were put in for a special purpose. However, in the end the lack of a picture of him water rafting is very impactful. It shows he was there present at that moment without worrying about if the camera would catch the right angle or if the lighting would be ok. There was none of that he captured the moment with his best camera; his eyes. Which relates to the first point; leave your prior knowledge and fill yourself up with the new. Although before it would be ok to take picture this moment is one he should enjoy in a different way than before.
From the readings we have done so far lyric essays seem to have a poetic flow to them. The use of very strong images as well as fragmented thoughts that somehow connect is something that I have only encounter in poetry before. An example of this is the Carson piece that we read. She has taken a subject such as water and explores it in so many different ways. She really delves into the topic and presents each view in a new light. Just as poetry can present something familiar in such a new light.
One particular thing about the piece that I liked was the use of the pilgrims to tie the little stories together. I think this was effective in terms of flow and after a certain point I would anticipate reading the last line about pilgrims. This constant repetition became the central thread that joined the stories. She choose to include themes of water, and outside stories such as that of the Greek god and the Queen however those stories somehow connected to her pilgrimage. The stories were carefully placed to tie in with the pilgrimage, which is something that is also present in poetry.
Another interesting technique used with the repetition of the images, is that fact that they change over the course of the stories. That is the reason they are separated and not all combined into one essay. The one image takes on many faces and as the short essays continue and change so does the significance and the meaning of the particular image. So the one image that connects all the stories is also what distinguishes the stories.
I walked down 49th street and pulled my jacket in closer as I quickened my pace to catch the train. As I turn the corner a frazzled young girl bumped into me, as I glanced up my eye caught a glimpse of a bright big red sign “Bis- Restaurant Grand Opening.” A rush of memories came jamming back. I kept walking and barely got into the train before the doors closed.
Suddenly I began to feel the warmth and coziness I used to feel when I used to go to “Bis” back home in South Korea. The dim lighting, the smiles and friendliness of the waiters, and the mouth-watering aroma of the food every time the doors to the kitchen would open seemed to all be present here in this subway car on a wintery day.
I can still taste that linguini with clam sauce and their impeccable garlic bread that no chef in New York City has been able to even come close to replicating. I remember my girlfriend saying “You like this place so much, you should work here,” which I ended up doing. I smile to myself. As I hear “Stand Clear of the Closing doors” I am brought back to present and I realize I missed my stop.
Wolfe mentions about looking things with “fresh eyes” and “without the constant intimidation of being aware of what other writers have already done.” I think this is a very interesting concept but it is not practiced in academic environments. A lot of times we are taught to look at scholarly material based on the review and criticism of prior scholars. For example, when we write a scholarly article we must draw on published work from the past as a reference or to support our own ideas.
I understand the need to teach this form of writing because without your work will not be considered “scholarly.” However, we are never really taught to look at material with “fresh eyes.” We always have to look at what past writers have said and done to examine new material. I think this can be disadvantageous sometimes, because we begin to always filter what we read in a certain way. I do think there are benefits to using techniques such as a critical or historical approach to understanding literature, as it is often taught in our english classes, however I think it should be also be taught how to view material to you and to examine it in a world that is relevant to you right now. There can be advantages to teach students to ignore what has been said before and interpret the material as it appears to you especially since, as Wolfe points out, the distinction between certain forms of literature are changing.
In her essay, “Mother Tongue” Amy Tan questions the standards of scholarly literature. She questions if how some thing is written affects the quality of what is being written.Tan argues that the language used in her book is meant to effectively communicate with her readers rather than impress them with her knowledge and ability to construct sophisticated sentences.
I haven’t looked at reviews as essay’s before and I do not exactly know how to frame a review, hence I am a little puzzled in this topic. What Makes A Great Critic? by Maria Bustillos somewhat aided my transition into the new topic. She starts off by saying that a critic either attaches her own experiences to the work being reviewed or completely dis-attaches herself from the work and only discusses it in terms of itself. One really helpful thing Bustillos does is she analyzes how George Bernard Shaw prepared a review for Ibsen and his work. According to Bustillos this was Shaw’s greatest strength.
I think a good review would be one in which the reviewer reviews the work in two ways. The first is with “fresh eyes.” By this I mean that the work is looked at without looking at past work by the artist or attaching personal experiences to the review. The second is by examining the work in comparison to the artist previous work, or to their contemporaries or time period. This is what Shaw does in his work on Ibsen. He uses the reviews made by others who didn’t like Ghost and made a statement about that. He takes the time period into consider as Bustillos states: “Shaw calls the Ghosts-hatin’ class of conventional Victorian moralists “idealists,” and then says that the real problem for an idealist is the fact that regular family life is totally not working for him.”
Bustillos says that one of Shaw’s greatest strengths is that he writes in a language that can be understood by many. I agree with this point. I think a good review is one that can be understood by the lay person as well as someone in the field. however, in addition to that I believe that the work should be reviewed in the two ways I mentioned above.
“My First New York” by Colum McCann, made me realize how glad I am that I was born and have always lived in New York. This is not because I appreciate the greatness of New York but rather I am glad I have lived here my whole life because if I were to come here from somewhere else I would be overwhelmed, it would almost make me feel like I don’t belong. Many writers and artists have often made New York their subject of art. They often talk about the lights, the city, and the hastiness. That is also how McCann initially describes New York. If I were to experience this I would be so overwhelmed, since I have always lived here I don’ t know what else to compare it to.
One thing that I found interesting in McCann’s piece was his meeting with the female that he doesn’t name. It made me question how reliable the narrator was. Or whether the story was a symbolic representation of something else. Did McCann choose to change the details to make the story more interesting ? Or is the unnamed female rather a representation of a moment of serenity and silence that is so impossible to find in New York. This image of New York is the one that he says becomes “his.” At first he is overwhelmed by it and that’s what attracts him to it. But it is in that moment when there is silence and beauty that he fully accepts New York.
This has been my favorite essay to read so far. I wouldn’t have looked at this as a essay before, but now that we have broaden our views of personal essay this would be considered a personal essay and a very intriguing one. What drew me to this essay the most was the fact that it was so personal. It was between a man and his nephew, yet I, as a reader, was included into this letter. It was a history that I could not relate to but that I am aware of. And it is because of this that the author did not have to spell out every little thing. I think this was a technique very carefully applied to the piece.
Content wise one thing I really liked about this piece is the message. You wouldn’t expect the author, James, to tell his nephew to treat those that have been unfair with love. This is something that may be taught to us when we are younger but no one actually does it. I would have expected the author tell his nephew how cruel the world might be to him and that he will have to fight to get his rights. But instead the author tells his nephew to see beyond what others see him as and treat with love those that might be unfair to him for the reason that they don’t know better. “Many of them indeed know better, but as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.” James seems to have an understanding not only about a certain types of people, but people in general. This is what makes his essay relatable; in actuality he is just talking about people.
“Consider the lobster” is a very interesting piece. I think it is so different from anything I have ever read. I think what surprised me the most is the shift in the writer’s position towards the Maine Lobster Festival. As I read the starting paragraphs I was very interested in the MLF. The way it was described made me want to go and experience such an event even though I have never had a lobster.
However at about four pages into the piece I realize that the work has taken a different perspective and Kurt isn’t actually for the MLF. He is against it. I was like “Wow, what!” This grabbed my attention and held it for the rest of the piece. And then he goes on to describe the treatment of those poor lobsters, that made sympathize for them. Especially because not only do they feel pain the have no endorphins to reduce the sensation of pain. I enjoyed this piece. This could just be my personal response to the piece but I think the way Kurt discusses all the biological aspects makes it easy to follow. Most of the terms he uses I have heard before but I think they would be very accessible to even the lay person. This is something I would want to include in my personal essay.
However, one thing I would say I was confused about would be the endnotes. Usually endnotes site source if I am correct, however some of Kurts endnotes were actually side stories. So I am not sure what the purpose of this was. The only thing I can think of, and this is probably way off, is that maybe he is taking a punch at the magazine. For example he is writing for a magazine that promotes the opposite of what he is saying. So maybe as a final blow he cites sources that are not really sources ? I don’ t actually know but am very curious to find out as to why it was done.