English 300 - Fall 2004

This is my class journal for Professor Sexson's Critical Theory class.


Mimesis, Writing, and Painful Representations

...are the topics for today. Jeez, that's just a little heavy. Anyway. Guess I'll start.

How does the poem (by Wallace Stevens) address mimesis--art as imitation?

Well, I mean, the woman is imitating the sea. "...what she sang is what she heard...." But according to Stevens, it is the imitation that is more enticing than the reality, because "...it was she and not the sea we heard...." And though the sea is a very venerable thing, the woman--artist--creator surpasses its majesty because she CREATES a whole new world instead of naturally existing in one pre-made.

"...She was the single artificer of the world / In which she sang...she was the maker...."

We can see that the narrator is in awe at how this woman can create from nothing (albeit she may be influenced by the sound of the sea) an entire new world in which she and she alone perfectly belongs--she is a goddess, orating the world into existence: a tradition seen in many religious myths.

And as impressive as this creator is, her SPIRIT--the soul bringing forth creation, is what at the core fascinates the bystanders:

"...Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knoew / It was the spirit that we sought...."

So the creation goes far beyond the actual product, just as the song is "...More even than her voice...." Concerning mimesis, it is the SOUL behind the creation that is the most fascinating.


What does a better job, speaking or writing?

Speech can be very compelling, filled with emotion and twisted in tone in ways written words just can't. But--and I know many of you could easily argue me down and disprove this, so be it--I find writing more effective.

The main reason why writing does a better job is it can be revised!! "Well, you can plan out a speech," --Sure, but that's usually done by WRITING IT OUT and organizing your thoughts in the most effective manner. You can consider word choice and make changes later--you can't change what you've said.

I find writing still superior because you can come back to it and it will not be altered. If you want to improve a speech, you might not remember exactly what you said in the first place. If it's written, it is exact and not subject to faults in the human memory. And another thing: when something is written, the reader can take his time through it. He can reread a passage over if he needs. He can take a break and come back to it. He does not have such control over a speaker, at least not in normal circumstances.

...As with any of these journal topics, you could go on for 80 pages and still not exhaust the topic, or not. So I think I'll just not. I wish I knew what kind of a grade I've got so far on these journals....


What representation have you seen that was painful, but also makes you a better person?

That's not a morbid question or anything.

Ok, well I don't even really know what to say. I mean I've seen/read some pretty disturbing things but it's not always like they contribute to my sunny disposition or anything....

Silent Hill 3 comes to mind....

Ok, well why be limited to representations? Let's take this. When I was 10 or so, my pet kitten got chewed up (killed) by a neighborhood dog, and when I went out to find it I found...quite a mess. At that age I had never seen anything of that nature in real life before--the image still remains in my mind.

Obviously this experience didn't send me off to Yale where I would graduate with honours and eventually save the world. But it did give me some kind of sense of death. This may be cliché, but I really realized how fragile life is and how easy it is to take away. It really made me see the physical body as some kind of a shell trapped in a physical world, while maybe the soul is elsewhere. I don't really know how to explain it. Just that these physical pieces make up something that we treasure so much--but that's all it is: physical pieces of stuff. Isn't there anything more? Aren't we more than just our physical manifestations?

I have to believe that we are.

I don't need therapy or anything :)


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