Friday, December 7, 2007

Good, hard questions

Neo has asked a few of 'em. Seven, to be precise, on a creative meme spin. Neo wants answers? Neo gets answers.

1) How do I feel about the past...? I don't think it's the past for its own sake, so much, that drew me to Renaissance lit. I am, through and through, a lyric poetry girl. And the place to be, if you like lyric verse, is between 1550 and 1670. It's not just that lyric poetry during this period is so freaky (though it is) or so moving (though it's that too); to me, it's that writers during this period have huge antennae up for the nuances of language. They know their Greek and Latin and Hebrew and a ton of other languages, and they hear a long, long echo in a word like "ruin." That turns me on. I started my academic life as a scientist, and I guess there's still a part of me that likes to open stuff up and see how it works.

2) My work hasn't required me to be an archivist to this point, but a project I've just started has meant that I've been handling some books from 1589, 1628, etc. How I feel, mostly, is this hunger to own the books. They're so beautiful, and fragile, and seeing marginalia from 1650 kills me. It makes the text so much more a product of a real world, a pasttime for a real mind.

3) As I've mentioned before, my other gig is as a creative writer. It's obvious to me that both my public readings and my teaching are just substitutes for my long-abandoned career as a rockstar.

4) My first intellectual crush was the man who seduced me from the sciences to this less lucrative career path. I continue to know him. Simultaneously, I'd die for his approbation, and I wish he'd drop dead so that the pressure to be impressive to him would go away.

5) A text in my field with which I have some kind of difficulty: _Romeo and Juliet_ sucks. And those long poems by Shakespeare ? "Venus and Adonis" and "The Rape of Lucrece"? WTF?

6) What I'd change about my field: its domination by fairly snooty, condescending old white men.

7) My marginalia are mostly little half-arrows to indicate ideas I want to return to. Underlining is for passages I want to quote. And I try to keep track of my objections marginally as I read, so as to find them quickly when writing my own essays. In library books: pencil (usually. Not always. Sorry). In my own, bold blue pen.


Flavia said...

I'm so glad that this discussion has been moving through the blogosphere.

For now, all I'll say is AMEN to your #6.

(Oh, and perhaps also this: it's nice to feel like a rockstar once in a while. Albeit with fewer drugs and a smaller, not always entirely willing audience.)

Neophyte said...

I didn't know what snooty, old, and white really meant until I came to Britannia. I love my snooty old white men, I really do, but I could to with a touch less of the sardonic layer that's smeared over everything, and I would be completely thrilled if there was just one young woman, or just one queer, in the program, or even on the seminar schedule. Sniff.

I love V&A! And the sonnets nauseate me... But I love what you say about early modern lyrics. I was telling a Victorianist friend the other day that poetry, for me, stops around 1670 and doesn't pick up again until the 1920's or so. She was horrified. I stand by that statement.

Renaissance Girl said...

Neo--For me, poetry gets okay again with Dickinsen and Hopkins, but otherwise the entirety of the 18th and 19th centuries are pretty bland bread.

Neo and Flavia--I could forgive the old and white and male if they weren't so damned condescending.