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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Challenge in Persuasion

Okay, so I'm ready to get this thing started, even though the timer on the survey still lists, like, four more days to go.  If you've been keeping track, though, the tally hasn't changed much, except to lean more heavily in Eden's direction, so I'm posting a challenge regarding your votes (I voted for Queen Loana, by the way):

for those thinking, "East of Eden again?"
1. Why should I bother waiting for more votes to come in?

2. And even if I do wait, I'm pretty sure East of Eden is going to win anyway!  Give me at least one [well-written] good reason to ditch the survey and just do whatever the heck I want--or what you want.

for those supporting Steinbeck
3. Why should we do this again?  Most of you have (based on the those I see who've signed in as followers here) have read it.  Support your cause!


  1. Originally, I voted for Alice. I loved it five years ago, and I've been meaning to read it again. However, the more I think about it, the more I want to look at the imagists again. Poetry, and tearing it apart line by line was one of my absolute favorite things in class. Being out of school, it's one of the things I miss most. Not only is it an enjoyable rainy day activity, you can learn so much about a poet. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, and invite (almost force) you to look in on their most private thoughts and feelings. Everyone has that desire -- to be spied on, read -- it's why everyone hides their diary under their mattress (or on the internet nowadays). They want it to be found, for someone else to read it. The imagists (and all poets) know this, and show everything, except it's ridiculously veiled. The fun lies in tearing that veil to shreds.

    That being said, Mr. Center, I think you should do whatever you want. That was the true spirit of your classroom. Stay open to suggestion -- perhaps offer a couple options of what to do next -- but ultimately it's your decision.

  2. Thanks, Ben. Very well said (and written, by the way; you've come a long way!) about the poets. I have a feeling that no matter what we read, I'll end up using an aweful lot of the imagists' and other poets' stuff as cross-textual analysis. However, in the meantime, I think you should compile a list of poets whose stuff you'd like to work on or discuss.

  3. To be honest - and I realize that it's a pretty long read, but here it goes anyway - I think it would be pretty cool to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace with you giving us the kind of direction/guidance you gave in class. One thing I always admired about your class and about you as a teacher is how it was always clear from the structure of the assignments and class discussions that you respected us as students. You didn't pitch to us the boring, textbook-type questions or ask us to give a CliffNotes summary of the reading. You understood that we had the capacity for a more challenging and meaningful approach to the literature, and that made it all the more enjoyable and rewarding.

    I know that Infinite Jest wasn't on the poll, but I'd like to make its case, either for the upcoming read or, potentially, the next. I've only read the first two chapters, but it's already evident that Wallace put a whole lot of thought and depth into this book. The book is sometimes funny, it's sometimes depressing, it forces you to think, and it keeps you interested. I'll admit: I have a soft side for postmodern literature, so my suggestion is, to an extent, self-serving. But I really think that this book would give you the perfect opportunity to ask us those imaginative, atypical questions that made you our favorite teacher.

    It's late, I've been crunching numbers all night, and I don't think I'll find time to sleep any time soon, so excuse me if I'm not making any sense. I hope this anecdote is able to help get my point across: all it took was reading four or five paragraphs of Infinite Jest, and I couldn't help think to myself, "man, this would be perfect for Mr. Center's class." I think that's worth something.

  4. Thanks, Aryan. Wallace has been on my list for some time, but it's been pushed down a little bit as it's so long, and my time and attention span have been so short. From what I already of know Wallace, he--regardless of which book/s he may have written--would be perfect for study, but I'll have to read Infinite Jest first. I als owanted to put on a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but, again, I need to read it first--1000 Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera. However, since you're interested in perhaps doing something not on the list, might I recommend Eco's piece? Thoughts?

  5. Actually, I have been meaning to read something by Umberto Eco. Queen Loana looks neat. I think that could be really fun, too.

  6. I should clarify "meaning to read." Truth be told, I never heard of him until you mentioned his work. But after reading up on him (and I confess that the main reason I spent so much time researching the guy is that he has such a cool name), his stuff sounds like it would be a lotttttt of fun.

    Just thought I should clear up any confusion for Devin, Waqas, or anyone else who reads this blog and knows that I usually stick to my boring econ books and don't spend a whole lot of time finding good fiction books to read (as sad as that may sound).

  7. Hey, why isn't Waqas a registered "follower?"

    As for Eco, he's great. His non-fiction as well as his fiction. I recently read his "Experiences in Translation," and it was amazingly insightful. What's great about his fiction really took shape after reading it. He's a semiotician, which in terms of his fiction, finds locus in the shifting of systems, one language to another. You know his other-language editions are right on with his intention, unlike something like Dante where you're always having to think "is this what he really meant?" especially while comparing one translation to another--forget the original.

  8. I read East of Eden last year in Mrs. Reid's class. We had a month to go over the entire book which sounds like a lot of time but as anyone whose read it knows, it's not nearly enough at all. I think it would be fun hear your wisdom and insight on this Steinbeck classic and hopefully hear some of your literary diatribes and maybe a crazy story or two from your days growing up in Ohio, we may never know.

  9. I'm bending back toward EoE. (I may not have a choice, anyway, or no one will ever vote again on a poll!) No matter what we do, I'm sure there will be plenty of stories.

    By the way, sign up as a follower. I've said it before, but it makes it a lot easier to keep up--at a glance--with who's paying attention, which will, of course, affect how I write and what I think about in preparing discussions.

  10. Okay, so you already signed up; thanks Brian. BUT TELL EVERYONE ELSE TO!


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