Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"What I Don't Understand"

Here's the list of responses to Monday's "What I don't Understand" cards. I'll give enlightment, to varying degrees, to each at Wednesday's lecture:

What I Don’t Understand
• Inversion
• Woods stance
• Wood’s Argument form

What I Don’t Understand
• Dualism in Life after God
• Irony vs. lying in BAG
• Final exam concepts

What I Don’t Understand
• Why BAG is a polemic or anti-God

What I Don’t Understand
• Why Greene’s novel is praised as a work of polemical art

What I Don’t Understand
• Review concept of dust in the Amber Spyglass
• Review “dialectic” from the first couple of lecture

What I Don’t Understand
• Ironic gap

What I Don’t Understand
• sincerity

What I Don’t Understand
• in Pullman’s Amber Spyglass, what’s the relevance of the concept “world separation” (or “multi-world”)? and the sword used to cut an entrance between two worlds?
• Also, how’s multi-world and sword related to the author’s anti-God ideas?

What I Don’t Understand
• The significance of animals
• The concept of Creed

What I Don’t Understand
Life after God ~ main theme and main vocabulary: if you could maybe brush over it a little I’d really appreciate it

What I Don’t Understand
Brighton Rock
• Douglas Coupland

What I Don’t Understand
• The Amber Spyglass’ concepts and related definition

What I Don’t Understand
• Genre: one of the lecture you mentioned Amber Spyglass’ genre is polemical
• What to focus on in the course

What I Don’t Understand
• Plato’s cave
• Irony from The Book Against God: can you give examples (from book) and explain the intended effects? (I’m the group of audience that just don’t get the irony but I
need to get the irony but I need to get it for the exam)

What I Don’t Understand
• English pastoral literary type
• Similes and paradoxes

What I Don’t Understand
• How BAG is strictly anti-God (references, examples)

What I Don’t Understand
• You, your inability to bring light to any important issues aroused by the books. I can understand one maybe 2 lectures about genre, style, type etc.
• Maybe you should take some time out of your busy lecture schedule to lecture on things that matter. Life, love, death, time…how these topics relate…
Who cares if BAG is English Pastoral???

What I Don’t Understand
• How to avoid wordy rambling in essay exams
• How to be concise, and stick to the core concepts…

What I Don’t Understand
• The significance of Ida in Brighton Rock

What I Don’t Understand
• Imaginative truth definition (can’t remember)

What I Don’t Understand
• I don’t really understand the point of the Book against God is…
• I don’t understand why we had to read Anne Rice. That book was hard to read. It was awful .

What I Don’t Understand
• What you are looking for when you ask questions. (sometimes)
• How to learn to dissect a novel
• Some of the words you use (LOL!) I can look them up though
• Still how to deal with final exam questions breakdown

What I Don’t Understand
• Different kinds of irony like: Roman irony, dramatic irony…
• Although I attend to the lectures, I find it difficult to study the lecture notes on the web site and to follow it up.

What I Don’t Understand
• Why has Douglas Coupland forsaken us? Do we have to deny him three times or something?

What I Don’t Understand
• Your notes
• Some of your tangents however, some help me understand the text better
• Why some authors have such dissatisfying conclusions

What I Don’t Understand
• Ironic gap
• Difference between “dialogic” and “didactic”

What I Don’t Understand
• Bildungsroman
• English pastoral
• Literary distance
• London and Purnar
Immaturity vs maturity

What I Don’t Understand
• Dialogic novel
• All of the inversions?

What I Don’t Understand
• Why Life After God is a significant read?
• Is there a finite list of literary types/methods?

What I Don’t Understand
• Significance of lies
•The role of music in BAG


What I Don’t Understand
• How one can argue against something by making it look good
• How you can draw such plausible connections between concepts that before being lectured on seem completely unrelated.

What I Don’t Understand
• Why the ending seemed to be the way it was in Life After God, almost seemed out of place

• Why the Book Against God wasn’t a more harsh polemic, title is very misleading
• Why Sam Harris looks like Ben Stiller

What I Don’t Understand
• If Sam Harris’ definition of Atheist is valid, then the proof of God falls on the believer, not the atheist. Book Against God puts everything in the contexts of belief so that Thomas is less concerned with proving that God doesn’t exist that proving that we shouldn’t humour God.

What I Don’t Understand
• Some of these books (i.e. Amber Spyglass) don’t seem to be ‘anti-God’ but rather anti-institutionalised Religion, and there is a certain amount of Spirituality. Is this valid or are we to argue that it is completely polemical in a formal setting like an exam.

What I Don’t Understand
• Why the only alternative to X-ianity is Atheism
• Is the ultimate irony in BAG that Tom is more credible than the church?
• Anne Rice as literary excellence?

What I Don’t Understand
• Even though I know the direct meaning of English Pastoral, I don’t know how to identify them.
• Irony

What I Don’t Understand
• Chesterton’s Orthodoxy
• Doctrines

What I Don’t Understand
• Literary distance (Book Against God)
• Plato’s cave

What I Don’t Understand
• Not quite clear on Greene’s ultimate message in Brighton Rock. Heaven must exist if there I hell?

What I Don’t Understand
• The significance of the end of Brighton Rock where Rose and the priest talk and
Rose’s thoughts in the end
• What duality has to do with God in Life After God

What I Don’t Understand
• Why Brighton Rock is pro-God
• Why the dialectic of setting in BAG is important

What I Don’t Understand

Brighton Rock seems to outweigh its supposedly pro-God stance by all the negative events that transpire. I know that the idea is because there is evil there is God but it seems to be such a round about way. How is it Pro-God and not neutral or Anti-God?

What I Don’t Understand
• The difference between sarcastic and irony
• What’s the final exam is going to be like (lots of short answer questions and three essay questions?)
• Is there a similarity between Coupland & Wood’s work (both unstable)

What I Don’t Understand
• The different genre of each novel
• The difference between sarcasm and irony: sarcastic is the basic form of irony?

What I Don’t Understand
• The relationship of Max to concepts of the BAG
• Sarah’s position (mediator?)
• Wood’s an atheist?

What I Don’t Understand
• The concept of Brighton Rock being pro-God is vague to me

What I Don’t Understand
• Dogma
• Heteroglossia?

What I Don’t Understand
• Literary distance

Monday, July 16, 2007

More on Coupland: YouTube-ing

More helpful material sent along From J.L.:
Here is a link to a pretty old BBC interview with Douglas Coupland. I was very interested to see this, and I suspect many of my classfellows would be as well. In particular, I am fascinated by the way in which Coupland expresses contradiction without irony. He seems very authentic, and yet has no qualms about expressing very contradictory views without making any effort to reconcile them. The interview is in three parts, the link I supplied being to the first, and the other two being accessible from the same page. There is probably an interview somewhere on youtube that deals directly with Life After God. I like the BBC one.

More Relevant Pop Lyrics

From classfellow J.L.:
I must first make it clear that I don't find the discussion of song lyrics nearly as interesting as the books themselves, but as long as we're doing lyrics, we'd be remiss to ignore Bad Religion. Couple that with the in-class dialectical comment about the state of my own nation today, and we get an obvious choice of lyrics for the general consideration*:

Bad Religion-American Jesus

I don't need to be a global citizen,
'Cause I'm blessed by nationality,
I'm a member of a growing populace,
We enforced our popularity
There are things that seem to pull us under and
There are things that drag us down,
But there's a power and a vital presence
That's lurking all around

We've got the American Jesus
See him on the interstate,
We've got the American Jesus
He helped build the president's estate

I feel sorry for the earth's population
'Cause so few live in the U.S.A,
At least the foreigners can copy our morality,
They can visit but they cannot stay,
Only precious few can garner our prosperity,
It makes us walk with renewed confidence,
We've got a place to go when we die
And the architect resides right here

We've got the American Jesus
Bolstering their ship of faith
We've got the American Jesus
Overwhelming millions every day

He's the farmer barren fields, (In God)
The force the army wields,
(We trust)
The expression in the faces of the starving millions, (Because
he's one of us)
The power of the man. (Break down)
He's the fuel that drives the Klan, (Cave in)
He's the motive and the conscience of the
murderer (He can redeem your sins)
He's the preacher on TV, (Strong heart)
The false sincerity, (Clear mind)
The form letter that's written
by the big computer, (And indefinitely kind)
He's the nuclear bombs, (You lose)
And the kids with no moms (We win)
And I'm fearful that he's inside me (He is our champion)

We've got the American Jesus
See him on the interstate
We've got the American Jesus
Exercising his authority
We've got the American Jesus
Bolstering their ship of faith
We've got the American Jesus
Overwhelming millions every day

One nation under God(x10)

*This is the most complete/correct version I could find online. If any part of these is incorrect I trust loyal fans with access to the actual liner notes will supply corrections.


Vibrant Debates on our Course Theme

As serendipity has it, there is apparently a climate of dialect in the wider culture on our course theme, as a number of exceptionally potent debates are appearing in print and online fora.

One of them -- the most biting -- features the illustrious Canadian, Steven Pinker, (whom I have met) and Leon Kass, a medical doctor and biochemist who is, I believe, a non-secular Jew, on the topic of Science -vs- Scientism. Two others feature Richard Dawkins and are especially interesting for each coming counter to Dawkins from the side of science and unbelief, i.e. intra-atheist dialectic contra-Dawkins, to a degree.
  1. Pinker-Kass
  2. Dawkins-Wilson
  3. Dawkins-Krauss

Roman Irony

The example of Roman, or Rhetorical, Irony -- common in parliamentary discourse -- to which I referred in lecture can be seen at this LiveLeak link.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

More Musical

Classfellow M.E-P. sends along a recommendation for a Swedish singer-songwriter, Eva Dahlgren, whose lyrics echo several of our course themes. Ms. E-P. has translated and transcribed some salient lyrics, below. This YouTube clip is also worthwhile viewing.

Give me a place in this World
By Eva Dahlgren, 1984

I don’t care about eternity
But give me a place
Here in reality
Another life
In another time
No peace can come from that now

I live by the playfulness
And by sincerity so deep and heated
I dream about fairytale worlds
About the other world
About up and down
That right becomes wrong

Give me a place in this world
Not necessarily in the sunshine
But my own window towards the street
That I can open and close
As I please
That is the only thing I need
That is the only thing
That my heart demands
That I can find somewhere
Where I can choose between
Peace and quiet

I live for honesty
And for all my secrets
For what is a lie
Against a crushed dream
Nothing that bothers us now

I want to love from overheating
Not like some welfare institution
I want to give life
From my own life
For my own sake

Ref: Give me a place in this world………..

Young and Proud
Eva Dahlgren, 1987

Iuvenis et magificu
Miles sum
Fidem mihi habens
Vitam persequor

I am the ground
Underneath your shoes
I am the dust
And dirt
Fields in the spring
I am the insurrection
Where freedom lives
I am the Oxygen
That you breath
I am the light
You dream
Everything lives
In me

Young and proud
I am a warrior
With faith in me
Life goes on

The inheritance from
Another time
In my veins
Flows the sin
But I won’t take
My life
As a punishment
As a tunnel
To eternity
What is it
Without you

Ref: Young and proud…

Never a confession
Until the look
Is murky
And the thought
Has stiffened
If I lie myself down
To die
And take revenge on life
The only thing
You have given me
Don’t blame me
You are a part
Of me.

Live so
Eva Dahlgren, 1991-1992

Looking for the words
To touch a heart
But black lines
On white papers become so black

Lovers in the inks
Fall soundlessly
To quiver
The heart requires
Lips closeness

Looking for the language
In order to wander your woods
Your nights
Shall bear fruit from my days

Consolation like
The words shall be breathed
In your thoughts
But in order to live
The thoughts require
Your dreams

Like the stars in the sky
For no ones sake
Stipple the night
Live like the wild wind
For the sake of the game
Over large waters

Like a flower looks for light
Like a poet looks
Live so
Live so
Like a field in summer attire
Like its beauty you are
Live so

Looking for the words
Which will remember my kisses
Just as warm
Just as smoothly they shall caress

Lovers in the night
Slowly fading
Looking for the words
That forever
Will carry my truth

Who lights the stars
Eva Dahlgren, 1991

It was seconds of eternity
Three short breaths
My whole life turned
Who made the choice
Not me
I heard words
Coming from my lips
That has never rested in my mouth
Thoughts never thought
Like new walls in a room
As if we’ve always loved
Since my diary’s first page
But that I get to write your life
Only luck
Not a choice
Of all these meetings
And everything that should have happened
How rarely am I the reason
For my life turning

I have no faith in destiny
That thought gives no comfort

But who turns the winds
Who gets me to go
Where I have never gone
Who lights the stars
That only I can see
In your eyes
Who turns the winds
And brings me there
To where my thought
Has never reached

As many years as I have lived
With the person I wish to be
So many women that I have role played
But never done it well
Must dare to just be
With memory of the child
Who let life choose
And dared to say YES

Eva Dahlgren, 1988

Let me be
Let me cry
Until the oceans have dried
Till my heart
Is a wringed out sponge
Let me scream
Let me dance
With the devils
And drink
Let it always
For ever
Be night

They took you
Took you
Why not me

The anger in the body
Has copulated with
The Sorrow
And the kids they give birth to
Have me held hostage
They offer me to eat
Out of repulsive little hands
And I swallow

Ref; They took you…

Always when the sun
Shines shadows over life
I know
That I must
To my end
I laugh at the Gods
In heaven
Those who know everything
Poor devils
But they don’t bother me

Ref; They took you…

The moon makes a street in the ocean
Separating black from black
I have to
Have to go
Because over there beyond the night
There my heart is on fire
And that I’m going to pour
Water on

Ref; They took you…

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Book Against God" Appraisals

This webpage has an array of links to informative reviews of The Book Against God, along with the following blurb:
In The Book Against God, Tom Bunting is the son of a vicar and loving parents, but his life is one long adolescent rebellion against his father and his father's God. Tom is self-centered, lazy, and a compulsive liar, and has spent years avoiding finishing his PhD dissertation. His wife, Jane, has recently left him until he can get his act together and his father has died. Tom spends what little time he does any work writing his "Book Against God,", with which he hopes to prove that God doesn't exist. Yet as his friend points out, how can he be against something that doesn't exist. James Wood is a renowned literary critic and The Book Against God is his first novel. The book has received mixed reviews, although one must wonder how much of that is from other writers enjoying the chance to skewer a critic. The Los Angeles Times calls it "witty, serious and intelligent."