Electric Grandmother

Maggie Croft's Personal Journal young spirit, wire-wrapped
spark electric grandmother
arc against the night

-- Lon Prater
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love songs

Back in the day (about 10 1/2 years ago) I took a class in American Literature from 1865.

The class blew. What I learned was this:

1) I was not meant to be an English major (at least not at this school),
2) I'm fucked up (according to one woman who took the class with me -- she informed me of this in class and was very excited about it),
3) I said things and had thoughts that bothered one teacher in particular (and probably others), and she told me so in front of the class,
4) A great deal of the professors who I took classes from were so indoctrinated into their ivory tower academic interpretations that they missed stuff in front of their faces or couldn't deal with a different point of view (e.g. "You know, I think what is going on in this part of this Louise Erdrich novel means something along the lines of yadda yadda." "It means nothing." "Really? Because, see, I was reared by Chippewas, and Erdrich is *gasp* Chippewa, and all these Indians I grew up with would say this is significant." "It means nothing.""Okay, whatever you say -- even all that stuff about how all these Indian women writers are absolutely lesbians, even though the Indians in the class think you're snorting crack. And oh yeah, they're Indians from Fort Hall and Oregon, but they agree with me that this is important.It may or may not be useful to look into to understand the book, so why don't we get a drink and talk about it?""It means nothing." This may be partially why I ended up in anthropology ;).)*
5) Langston Hughes is/was black,
6) Most English majors around here hate poetry, unless they wrote it,
7) I love T. S. Eliot. I knew I liked him a great deal before this year, but this was the first time I read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I adore this poem. (This is evidently why I'm fucked up, according to the feminists in the room.)

I may be bitter.

So, today while feeding LD, I read some T.S. Eliot to the boys. I did the same thing with Avadore. He'd eat and I'd read poetry to him, or Milne or Just So Stories, or sing Bob Dylan or The Beatles. I do the same thing with LD, though Avadore is usually involved and sometimes I take online quizzes.

When we were in SLC last I got a little copy of The Waste Land and Other Poems. It's cute, it was 2 bucks and some dude wrote his analysis and interpretation of Eliot's poems all over it. Some of what he wrote makes me chuckle. But what do I know? I majored in anthropology. Still, the poems thrill me and give me the absolute chills.

BTW, I wasn't too fucked up for the anthropologists. I was incredibly vanilla compared to a lot of them.

* Since I'm not an English major, I have a question for the Enlgish majors out there. An example to start with:

From what I've been told (and what I believe) it's pretty much impossible to completely understand/interpret/analyze Kafka's (I adore Kafka) "The Metamorphosis" without having an understanding of the cultural context/influence within which he was writing. Without that one can read it and say, "Woah! A story about a cockroach! (or bug, or vermon, depending on which version/translation you read)" or "This man did not get on with the fam" or whatever. With the background, it means more. Would you say that to interpret/analyze most literature/writing/stories/whatever it's important if not essential for the scholar to have an understanding of the cultural/social/historic/etc. environment/influences that impacted the writer? Can you separate the writer from their environment/society?

I don't think you can entirely, which is why I thought having a cultural understanding of what was going on with Erdrich was useful/important, but I've had a lot of people disagree with me and they didn't want to explain why. (Other than some Jungian stuff about symbols being universal. Okay, to a certain extent some are (I'm all for archetypes), but at other times... All right. I'll shut up now.)

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