Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Right on Baby, Right On

I'm willing to openly debate anything. That fact doesn't mean that I'll change my mind at the flip of a coin. Honestly, Jesus himself would have to swoop down and tell me I was wrong to get me to change my mind on certain issues.

I'm not secretly judgmental; I'm openly opinionated. E.g., Anyone who doesn't take their values seriously probably doesn't have any. That's one of those not-so-secret judgmental opinions I have.

Can you tell I had a nasty day at work?

You Are 48% Open Minded

You aren't exactly open minded, but you have been known to occasionally change your mind.
You're tolerant enough to get along with others who are very different...
But you may be quietly judgmental of things or people you think are wrong.
You take your own values pretty seriously, and it would take a lot to change them.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ex Post

I realized that my last comment could be read in far too many ways, which I had not intended.

What I intended was a comparison between the characters of Emma and Elizabeth. Both are heroines in Austen novels, and though their novels share themes, and the characters have some similarities, they do differ from one another heartily. Emma's world is confined in a sense that Elizabeth's is not. She's Pride to Elizabeth's Prejudice. Emma lacks sensitivity, whereas Elizabeth may have too much.

Furthermore, Emma's world is more confined that Elizabeth's, and is driven very much by Emma's own imagination. Clearly, the opening phrase of Emma--namely, that she was "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition" and "had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her" and the fact that the book is titled after the main character indicates that the book is, at heart, about Emma. Reality often intrudes on her private world, and, as she emotionally matures, she realizes that though she is witty/clever, she is often mistaken about her emotions and the emotions of others.

Where Emma begins with a very personal and particular phrase, Pride and Prejudice begins with a general phrase about society. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This reader is left to assume that the opposite is true as well--that, that ALL women are in want of a man with a good fortune too.

The novels have interwoven themes and subthemes, and I can't even begin to realize them all. Certainly both are about how Emma and Elizabeth survive their own personal failings and find true love in the process. But, I've often wondered what Elizabeth and Emma would say to one another about the subject of Love over a nice cup of tea.


Congrats to Odious over at Odious and Peculiar. He's been published and paid! Check it out at flashquake. He's husband to Kate whose poem I recommended only days ago, which brings to mind one (of many) Jane Austen quotations--namely, "It's such happiness when good people get together--and they always do." (Emma)

Would Elizabeth Bennet say the same thing?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Icky, Icky

So, recently I've happened upon novels that play with time. For example, Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is told from the present and the future simultaneously--that is, school girls reminisce and contemplate their lives and connections with a charismatic, if often misleading, teacher.

Spark's memorable characters are engaging, but I'm not sure we're on the same page with respect to what she says about those characters. Her style is perceptive, but cold. She doesn't shirk from depicting evil and failure, silliness, and human folly, but I wasn't sure that she did anything more. Then, I stopped being mentally lazy, and I got it.

The title character, Miss Jean Brodie, a silly romanantic, elevates the personal above the universal. That's why she's a good facist. She's pitiable, and yet ugly. She reminds me of Peter Keating in Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. She lives vicariously through her students, convinced that she's controlling them, and is omnipotent about their futures. Student A is destined to be a great lover, and student B is destined to be X, Y, or Z. Sandy (the other primary character) observes, "She thinks she is Providence . . . she thinks she is the God of Calvin, she sees the beginning and the end." She confuses the Italian Renaisance with Italian facism. In the end, she isn't nearly as perceptive about the world or her students as she thinks she is.

She loves facism. Through her dynamic personality she controls her students, infusing their minds with her facist ideology, personifing facist authority. She convinces them that Catholism is passe, that morality is whatever the elite make it, that religion is populism, that we are all predestined to be whatever we become. In the end, though, one of her own students betrays her, exposing her shallowness and nonconformity/conformity to the school's headmistress.

Sandy, one of the Brodie-set, the "creme de la creme," rejects her teacher, and finally ends up becoming a nun. Sandy revolts against the idea that she is above all things and all others, including morality. She becomes keenly aware that her conformity to Miss Jean Brodie's "group judgment" which is at odds with her individual judgment is a source of human cruelty. Furthermore, Sandy thuroughly revolts against Miss Brodie's Calvinist ideology of predestination. Sandy, though, is not without fault. She engages in an affair with a married man, while on the road to rejecting Miss Brodie's ideology.

Miss Jean Brodie tells one of her students that she should have an affair with the art teacher (Miss Brodie's ex). She never sees Sandy as a candidate for the endeavor, so, as Sandy begins to revolt against Miss Brodie and her misleading romanticism and rejection of religion, Sandy starts the affair. The affair is just the first step. It isn't until Sandy realizes that Miss Brodie didn't think she was good enough to have the affair (Miss Brodie thinks highly of herself and must live out her fantasies through those she finds acceptable substitutes for the real thing), and that she takes NO responsibility for having contributed to the death of one of the other school girls, that Sandy truly rebels, exposing Ms. Brodie. Miss Brodie never knows who betrayed her deepest secrets and sentiments to the school, or why.

I'm writing this during a quick break. Now back to court!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sacred Music

I sang Bach's St. John's Passion this weekend with the Oratorio Society. It was a splendid performance--much better than the Christmas one. Though, after seeing the Fab Four on Wednesday, having rehearsal Friday and Saturday, seeing Swan Lake on Saturday and performing the Passion on Sunday, I am tired.

On the subject of splendid books and blogs, Kate wrote a nice poem over at the Little Bookroom.