January 22, 2011

Black Swan and Ezra Pound

Black Swan made me remember what it was like to be in secondary school, a little. Or maybe what it felt like to be in last semester. The isolation of a drive for perfection, the trappings of innocence, the physicality of the brutality to Nina really affected me. Not on a personal level, but as a human watching another human break down, and how the physical body and sex played such a large role in it. The competitive drive for perfection and success even as people snap at your heels waiting for you to fall--who hasn't worried about that or had nightmares about that? (Okay, maybe more balanced people. Hmm.) Beyond all the trappings of the psychological thriller (the mirrors, sudden turning off of lights, the pervasive sense of wtf is going on??), the inner breakdown of Nina just really affected me because the themes that she went through are so universal. I want to be the perfect student, the perfect job candidate, the perfect daughter/ friend/ girlfriend/ family member, but at what cost? Will I one day wake up and realize that I've pushed myself too far and killed myself even without knowing?

Yet on the other hand the other thing that keeps me up at night is NOT pushing myself enough. Not doing all that I can, not using my time as best as I can. Thinking back about last year, I really felt that I didn't push myself non-academically as hard as I could have in the Spring, and totally over-compensated in the Fall. I think I had a lot of mini-Nina days when I would be so stressed about finishing everything on my to-do list to the point where I literally couldn't breathe because I was so nervous. At the same time it was so very isolating because I was constantly going at it alone and my goal this semester is to be committed to building better relationships with those around me. And it's true--perfection comes with isolation, the pursuit of perfection is isolating, yet we still want to be perfect.

It was very difficult watching Black Swan. The acting was brilliant and the cinematography was very well-crafted, and that just added to the believability of the whole story (D is convinced that Dawn is secretly a crazy ballerina who will break our mirrors and stab me in the face...)

Came back to find that I finally received my last English book, which means that I now have absolutely no excuse to get on top of readings. Right now I'm reading Ezra Pound's ABC of Reading:

And Ezra Pound is HILARIOUS. That was an example of the way that Pound writes. I don't really agree with some of what he says, especially about the literary canon, but I think that's mainly because of History of Art and that professor's views on the conversation that goes on between art works and thus what makes this particular piece of art "important" (echoed in last semester's 180), and I definitely don't agree with the way he didactically puts down what he determines as the "best" poems to read, like of all time because I mean yeah, maybe for Petrach it would be easy to determine everyone else who wrote Petrachian sonnets to be copycats, but it's really difficult to say that about the modernist poets? I think that some poems are complete rubbish (I...really do not get some modernist poets, and I'm okay with admitting that it is MY fault. I lack the capacity to understand some of them; I also lack the capacity to appreciate Wordsworth's "piping down the valleys wide")
But anyway, my favourite quote from the reading so far is this:

"One has to divide the readers who want to be experts from those who do not, and divide, as it were, those who want to see the world from those who merely want to know WHAT PART OF IT THEY LIVE IN.
When it comes to the question of poetry, a great many people don't even want to know that their own country does not occupy ALL the available surface of the planet. The idea seems in some way to insult them."

I think when I read I tend to start looking out for familiarizing clues. I think that's why I was so affected by White Noise last semester (I had nightmares about dying and I would wake up crying because I was so scared. I freaked out internally for approximately three weeks, and when I reread White Noise for finals, I finally realized why I was so afraid for that period of time in the semester. That novel seriously got to me, I don't even know why), because so much of what they thought of, like Babette wanting to die before Jack, was so parallel to what I think of sometimes. And everytime I read a novel /poem, I tend to look out for all the comfortingly familiar hallmarks of what I like. Guess according to Pound that means that I'm a terrible reader ): I love the last part of that quote because it is so true and so funny. But also somewhat tragic, because it doesn't just apply to the question of poetry, I think it applies a lot to the values that people hold and are important to them.

After not writing for super long, writing seems so stilted now!! ): Okay I'm desperately hungry and so I am going to eat myself. BRB.

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