ahead of my time

When I was a sophomore, attending Logansport High School Advanced Placement English, we had to talk about the meanings of poems. I always hated this because the grading scale was completely subjective, but pitched as being objective1.

I would argue that it didn’t matter what the author had meant to say, because now all we had was our own interpretations. The poet was dead2, and therefore we would never know the “true” meaning, only what we made up as the meaning now3.

Come to find out, I’m actually just a Postmodern/Constructionalist. A quote for you, out of An Introduction to Social Constructionism by Vivien Burr”:
Postmodernism is a rejection of both the idea that there can be an ultimate truth and of structuralism, the idea that the world as we see it is the result of hidden structures… In art and literature it is seen in the denial that some artistic or literary forms are necessarily better than others, so that ‘pop’ art claimed a status for itself and the objects it represented equal to that of, say, the works of Leonardo or Michelangelo. In literary criticism, it also led to the idea that there could be no ‘true’ reading of a poem or novel, that each person’s interpretation was necessarily as good as the next, and the meanings that the original author might have intended were therefore irrelevant.” (emphasis added)

Thanks, Burr, it would have been really nice to know all that BEFORE I got counted off for DARING to think for myself, and question your reality. I guess all those postmodern museums Mom and Dad took me to really paid off.


1. Another reason to love math. If the answer is wrong, it is because you fucked up somewhere, not because your teacher is a fucktard that confuses Greek and Roman mythology.
2. D-E-D, dead
3. PS, Blake is a fucker. I don’t care how “clear” you think his message is.

17 thoughts on “ahead of my time

  1. silly willow….high school is not about thinking. sounds like you had whathisfuck…i cannot even remember his name, his class was so worthless.

    • The jackass that had girls who wore skirts sit in the front row? The guy I had a petition signed on because he kept sexually harassing girls? Yeah, I had him. Had a face like a fish-balloon.

      Not that I’m still bitter or anything.

  2. i can’t help it

    dork activated. engage:

    the question you probed, the connection or disconnection between and author’s intent and a work’s meaning, is actually the question that has both plagued and invigorated literary criticism since the beginnning of the twentieth century. New Criticism – the method most instructors equally utilize and bastardize – approaches poems as whole, self-contained units, and as such, separate from any biographical/historical considerations and not reducible to the ever-wavering chimera’s of “intentionality.” since that time (in the interwar and postwar years), schools of literary approach have either gone even further in embracing the “death of the author” (i.e. Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, which have much more testicular fortitude in eschewing the question of “the authorial” than the New Critics could ever muster), or have attempted to more delicately and responsibly integrate the life and times of a work’s creator without necessarily leaning on him/her as the final arbitor of literary meaning (New Historicism, dubiously yet deservedly in vogue, sports such a mission from time to time). i myself fall somewhere in the Post-Structuralist neighborhood myself, though with some qualifications i could bore you with another time (truth be told, i’m a closet deconstructionist).

    all of which is to say: not only is there one school of thought that rubs right up against your instincts, there are whole swarms of methodological stances that are vying for your intellectual affections, nestling up to your ideas and going “please willow, choose me, i agree with you too.” and really, who wouldn’t want that kind of attention.

    see you soon.

    • Re: i can’t help it

      I like the idea of schools of thought rubbing up against my legs. Better than schools of fishes.

      Thanks for the mental image!

    • Re: i can’t help it

      Interesting, as we’ve been dealing with the same material in all my critique classes. At what point did the literary critics start going to bed with the art historians to spawn lovechildren that insist that artists must understand and apply these methodologies in their work? So that you now have a new generation of art makers who are creating work in response to *theory*, rather than to the world around them. I believe one article referred to us as the termites – perpetually chewing up and regurgitating everything that came before.

  3. DAMN RIGHT. The only way I got away with saying the same things was that I’m good at English-Major-ishly justifying my opinions, when I so choose.

    I don’t understand how anyone can be so absurd as to think as your teacher did on the matter. Idiots.

    /vicodin babble

  4. Heh, I was almost suspended for claiming a book had homosexual subtext.

    Of course that’s just one of the things that I almost got suspended for involving English class. (That’s s’why I left High School for college two years early.)

    But as someone else said, the problem is that you were thinking and that’s not what High School is here to teach. Although it sounds like that teachr was a bit of a fucker in several regards from your later description.

  5. I’ll give you a dollar if you go to the Lilly Library, request a first printing of one of his books and write “Blake is a fucker” in it with a big blue Sharpie.

    • As appealing as that is to my dark humor, I don’t agree with graffiti of any type in most contexts. I’ll argue shit all day long, about how while post modern architecture is an interesting idea and neat to think about, it has in all cases been poorly executed. It is nearly impossible to live in these buildings. Then again, this re-affirms my feeling that buildings are a form of art, and not for me to physically mess with.

      And stuff.

      But I do like blue marker.

      : )

      • Hmmm….okay, I’ll bite.
        What do you mean when you say that “in all cases” postmodern architecture has been poorly executed? Surely, there might be just one piece of postmodern architecture that’s “right.” And whose definition of “right” is right anyway? The architect’s or whoever is paying for the building (the client…they’re evil because they can change things whenever they want) to be built in the first place? How do you know that’s it’s nearly impossible to live in the buildings? Have you tried to live in every single one, or are you basing your opinion on what you see on the outside without ever having experienced what it’s like to be in and experience the actual living space of a particular building?
        I agree though…a lot of buildings are a form of art, and like art, you can have your high art and lower art, right down to the bottom of the barrel kitsch “art.” Throwing the word “art” around though brings up some other questions…like, what constitutes a “work of art?”

        See what you’ve started with your four little sentences…

        Oh yeah, your head looks good shaved and I’m not sure what it is, but I like how you’re not looking directly into the camera lens in your photos…even in the ones taken by the pool.

        Cheers and stuff.

        (don’t feel like you have to reply to this, I’m just babbling really)

        • I mean that as art, it is fantastic. But I also feel that any impact we make as humans needs to be necessary and useful (as far as things that take up as much space and materials as buildings do). Therefore, creating a building means that it should be utilized to its fullest extent as such – a building, not a piece of art. Buildings can be beautiful, and I love architecture, but it must be done responsibly.

          I see the beauty in and draw to Postmodern architecture, don’t get me wrong. I just feel that, while valid as art and theory, when put to such a large scale it is immature and useless. Call me extreme if you’d like.

          I think it relates in some point to how I feel about globalization – supposed to be about ideas, not money. And I feel that people who go through such lengths to question the meaning of the shape of a roof, and how it can be altered are fucking with energy efficiency and minimalism. Use your energies to be useful and creative, not an over-schooled elitist.

          Then again, I could be entirely wrong.

          (and I like this, thank you for the stimulation)

        • So, in an ideal world buildings would be both artistic in design and environmentally friendly in terms of construction. Also how they function in relation to the surrounding environment should be taken into consideration and also the working environments for the people in them i.e., user friendly. Yeah, I agree with that and I don’t think you’re wrong at all. It actually sounds like some kind of manifesto.

          It sounds like your talking about something like this (scroll down to the article): http://www.nyc-architecture.com/MID/MID157.htm

          I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in NYC…I’m thinking that this building kind of goes beyond what currently is “Post Modern” (even though technically anything built after the Modern period is Post Modern), but their isn’t a term yet of what to call them…maybe Post Modern-Modern? Maybe there could be a Post Modern-Past, Post Modern-Present, and Post Modern-Future? 😛 Hmmm, maybe I’ll start using those terms in stuff…

          I’ll have to add that badly designed buildings have a purpose though, that’s to give us something to compare to in order to judge if a building is “good” design or just plain shite. I guess you could also apply that to a lot of other things too…you have to have a “bad” in order to judge if something is “good”, so one couldn’t exist without the other.

          And I feel that people who go through such lengths to question the meaning of
          the shape of a roof, and how it can be altered are fucking with energy efficiency
          and minimalism. Use your energies to be useful and creative, not an over-schooled

          Whoa! Where’d this come from?

          Cheers! 🙂

        • Re: don’t agree with graffiti

          That is peachy. I love chalk graffiti. I like things that make impact on thought but don’t destroy the original work. Then you’re not allowing others to take it as they wish, just giving them the salt. If that makes sense.

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