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For the Pastoral class I'm TAing I've been reading the assigned Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. This is the first scifi book I've ever read. I thought I could go my whole life without reading one. But I'll be honest, I'm enjoying it. See you at the next Comicon...
I re-watched "The Cabin in the Woods" last night and liked it less than the first time. But I'd still recommend it. That's all I got.
I think I want to go to the Clifford Still museum this weekend. Or is that an offensive thing to say considering the aspen are flipping to yellow and we should probably all be admiring them up-close-and-personal?
Remember when one of your parents would sweep the leaves into a pile and you'd bury yourself in it and pretend to vanish and then burst out like some crazy caterpillar and "surprise" that parent? Remember that?
Discussed Williams' Spring & All today. Here are some rambles or brambles:
The first time I read it, the prose sections seemed almost OCD, as though Williams could not resist obsessively returning to the same subject. The more I read it, the more I come to understand it in terms of how Gertrude Stein approaches language: “the idea of the recreation of the word.” And as William James asks of us, ““What after all is so natural as to assume that one object, called by one name, should be known by one affection of the mind?” I am drawn to the idea of how William’s persistence is a plurality of approach, which mirrors his plurality of affections and ideas of application for the imagination and the present.
Williams wants us to be in the present, to have the full experience of the moment. He explains all writing and art up to this point have “been especially designed to keep up the barrier between sense and the vaporous fringe which distracts the attention from its agonized approaches to the moment” (3). He asserts that it’s our imagination that can bring us closer to the present moment, “To refine, to clarify, to intensify that single force—the imagination” (3). So, imagination can eliminate distraction, can dissolve the veil between the present and our experience of it.
Williams circles around ideas of annihilation and plagiarism because he wants to bring our attention to tired rhetoric, the old ways of viewing the world. He uses the example if trite symbolism, he writes, “What I put down of value will have this value: an escape from crude symbolism, the annihilation of strained associations, complicated ritualistic forms of design to separate the work from reality” (22). He isn’t interest in a real annihilation so much as an artistic regeneration, creating an environment from which we can see the world anew, not with established constructs, traditions, and institutions. He pushes us away from directly representational art, too, the kind that mimics reality without creating its own reality. He explains that there is a “falseness in attempting to copy nature.” Williams also writes, “meanings have been lost through laziness or changes in the form of existence which have let words empty” (20). Multiple times, he says that “only the imagination is undeceived” and this relates directly back to the false, stilted lens we view the world when using language that no longer fits the contemporary moment.
I think that Williams believes we cannot fully experience the moment without empathy, which becomes jaded or dusty with tired rhetoric because it forms a distancing veil between people and experience. It is only with the imagination that this empathy can be tuned, and he writes, “Only through the agency of this force can a man feel himself moved largely with sympathetic pulses at work” (27). He wants to revivify how we see the world but also how we relate to each other. Through the relationship between the imagination and the present, we can open ourselves to emotive sympathies that are not insular, but inherently turn us toward the other.