Friday, April 30, 2004

The Dread Phonetic

Well... that would be my exams done then, wouldn't it?

I'm in a weird place right now. I really don't place any significance on my education as a measure of my intelligence, so I don't want to make much out of the fact that I've (hopefully) just completed an honours English degree. But yet I still want to go visit a couple of high school English teachers who told my parents that I'd never manage to pass standard grade English just so I can laugh in their faces. I know this urge isn't entirely irreconcilable with my aforementioned position, but I still feel weird that I have this (admittedly quite childish) urge at all.

Ach well, enough of that garbage: hopefully I'll get back into the swing of updating this thing regularly sometime in the next week or so.

In the meantime, here are a couple of links for you:

--I really, really, love this livejournal post by Toddius -- the idea that Thomas Pynchon is secretly behind all spam mail seems bizarrely accurate to me on so many levels, and the concept of using spam as a source of character names is totally inspired.

--The defense of South Park offered up by Eppy in this post is pretty wonderful, and I wholeheartedly agree with the man! What can I say -- I know the show is deeply uneven, but I still have a certain soft spot for it, and Eppy nails why better than most anyone else.

--They're releasing Visionaries on DVD? Jesus Christ -- it's like watching the last part of the dismembered corpse of your childhood come flopping in the front door on a Tuesday afternoon! Ok, maybe it's nothing like that at all, but what the hell is going on here?!

--Anyone interested in reading an ancient interview with comic book writer Grant Morrison that was conducted by then-aspiring writer Mark Millar should go right on over to this website and download away. There's nothing particularly illuminating in there; Morrison's Morrissey-aping archness is quite amusing, but while I was oddly excited to see Morrison list Flann O'Brien as an influence, I doubt this will be a feeling shared by many other readers out there. O'Brien's dead good though, and if you've never read his work before you could do far worse than to read The Third Policeman and At Swim-Two-Birds. They're both excellent post-Joycean novels that explore (among other things) what happens when language and imagination turn in on themselves and become cancerous. Rather importantly, they're also funny as all hell; seriously people, O'Brien is one of the funniest writers I've ever read and, erm... I think I've pimped him hard enough for now so I'm just going to stop!

--ITEM! Jebni is right, this is the greatest concert review ever written!

--Being, as I am, a huge fan of both cartoonist David Muzzucchelli and of Paul Auster's New York Trilogy, I've always been curious as to how the comic book adaptation of the first part of the trilogy, City of Glass, came off. After reading the various bits and bobs about the comic on the Indy Magazine website I have to say that I'm even more eager to read this particular sequential adaptation. Lucky for me the damned thing's being reprinted this year, eh? Thanks to Flat Earth for the link.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Shake Up

via a couple of different livejournal users.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"They dug a hole and buried her."

From The Heath Anthology of American Literature, edited by Paul Lauter.

And I'm back, again. As you may have worked out already, I've decided against whipping myself in public over my exams. The first two "exam diary" entries I wrote were pretty much the end result of the weird mood I was in at the time, but since I'm over that now it's not something that I'm going to continue with. I've only got three exams left to sit, and by this time on Wednesday afternoon I'll be done.

After then you can expect mucho postage about movies, music etc, so look out for that. In the meantime I'm away to read some 20th Century American poetry -- take care, and have fun out there y'all!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Exam Diary: 15/4/04

Exam #2 was Paper 15, Literature 1640 to 1785. The topics written on were as follows: Reader-Author Relations in Dafoe -- Swift, Rochester and the Defensiveness of Satire -- The Value of Samuel Johnson as a Literary Critic.

The topic that should have been written on in place of the latter: Ideas of Nature and Society in Congreve.

Here's a little something about this morning's exam that I wrote earlier:

"So, I'm two exams down the road now -- am I really 1/4 done already? It would certainly seem so!

Today's key word is time. I really need to work on my time management skills. Today, I wrote two excellent essays (I'm not being smug here -- my answers were really, really good!) but took far too much time to do so. My last essay was written in half an hour (in a three hour exam), and was a bit messy and weak as a result. It was a bit of a bum move all round -- not only did I not leave myself with enough time, but I also chose the more complicated of the two questions I felt equipped to handle, thus compounding my initial error. There was another question which I could have written on more easily, but no, I had to go and try to write an essay about how the real value of Samuel Johnson as a literary critic lies in comparing the ideas and attitudes he expresses (which are very much of his time) with those of later critics and writers such as William Blake (on Milton and Paradise Lost), Nathaniel Hawthorne (on the romance novel), and Oscar Wilde (on whether or not writing can/should be either moral or immoral). Now this is a topic I know well, and could write a very good essay on, but I don't think that really came across in my frantic scribblings. Still, the basic outline was there, so hopefully it'll be okay. I'm sure the other questions will prop it up a bit, and I've just got to make sure I don't make this mistake again.

I'm going to be much more strict with myself in tomorrow's Renaissance Literature exam -- 15 minutes to read the questions and decide what I'm doing, 45 minutes on each question, and then 30 minutes at the end to finish all three essays off. No deviation allowed."

Well, I certainly over-used the word "questions" in that last paragraph, didn't I? Blogging be dammed, I'm off to read over some Donne right now. Hope you're all having a good time out there. Take it easy.
Exam Diary: 13/4/04 -- 14/4/04

Time to bore the tears right out of your faces by making my exam experiences public methinks! It should be noted that revisions were made to the initial exam timetable I posted here that spaced the exams out a bit better and pushed the starting date forward by a couple of days.

Exam #1 was on the 13th of the month, and was Paper 18, Literature Since 1900. The topics written on were as follows: Time in Larkin, Vonnegut, and Borges -- Chaos, Order, Sterility and Violence in Conrad and Eliot -- Narrative and Dramatic Patterns vs Realism in Pinter and Kafka.

Here's what I wrote about it on the 14th:

"My first exam went pretty well, I think -- if anything, I'd actually over-revised for it. The amount I wanted to say about some of the questions felt like a hinderance to my time-management skills, but aside from that, yeah, I feel pretty good about it.

I'd completely forgotten that the most important thing in an English Lit exam (after a decent working knowledge of the texts in question of course!) is the ability to take the questions they give you and make them work for you. Putting the right spin on them to allow you to show off is the name of the game, really -- once I get that down I should be fine.

Still: one down, seven more to go. I've got one tomorrow in fact, and am thus currently occupied re-reading some choice excerpts from the work of Jonathan Swift. This would normally be a good thing, but, well... I'm rediculously fucking tired right now. As a sort of post-exam celebration I dissapeared off to West Kilbride last night with a couple of friends (cue much messing about on rainy beaches and other such silliness). Long story short: I stayed the night there and didn't get much sleep.

The good: I've packed a fuckload of revision into the last 24 hours.

The bad: I'm a completely energy-free wreck right now.

Oh well -- I'll get a good night's sleep tonight and everything will
be all right."

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