Friday, January 28, 2005

Bowie and Dylan and Woody Guthrie, pre-post-punk, Joe Bloggs, Ginsberg's syllabus, Kafka on the Shore, the six essays explained, my Aragorn hairdo

I'm listening to David Bowie's Song for Bob Dylan. Coincidentally, yesterday I bought Bob Dylan's very first CD and I was listening to it as I did my homework. It's really folky and traditional but great--in fact, only two of the songs are originals that he wrote; the rest are recordings of Dylan singing some folk classics. His nasally twang is discernible, but just--I think he was still figuring out what his signature was to be. Anyway, one of the original songs on the CD is called Song for Woody, as in Woody Guthrie. (I always knew that Woody Guthrie had influenced Dylan, but I didn't know to what great extent until I read Dylan's book recently.) So you see, Dylan wrote a song for Woody and Bowie wrote a song for Dylan. I wonder who will write a Song for David Bowie?--it would pretty much guarantee success to whoever wrote it, I guess.

Speaking of bands, I was playing Gang of Four yesterday while I was talking to B. (This morning I was listening to their song I Love a Man in Uniform when I was on the bus, and whenever the ladies would break in with, "You must be joking, oh man you must be jo-king!" I would start giggling.) Anyway, B. asked what genre they were and I said, "Well, post-punk I guess." "That's ridiculous," she said, "did they just run out of names? It's the same with post-modernism. What does THAT mean?!" Long story short, we decided that if we were ever to start a rock band, we would designate its genre pre-post-punk (so it would just be punk, you see!). Plus, we wouldn't even need to be good musicians; didn't the Ramones famously use just three chords per song?

An incidental thought: isn't Joe Bloggs the British equivalent of America's John Doe? It says something funny about bloggers, because Joe Bloggs is both an everyman and a no-man--his identity is unknown, so he's a nobody who could be anybody (did that make sense?). Anyway, that's the same with bloggers; often they are anonymous or their identities are otherwise concealed, and yet they represent our present-day everymen. Hm, this paragraph seemed like an interesting thought at 2:00 last night. I guess things look different in the daylight.

Ah, and after Steve Silberman was here yesterday I browsed on his site, and he conveniently links to the syllabus he followed when Allen Ginsberg was his teacher in the '70s. It looks like a pretty intense list, but I think I shall try to work my way through it during this semester.

But first, I have to finish Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which came in today from the library. I requested it about a week ago when I read all those interesting reviews about it in the New Yorker and the Guardian and Newsweek, but at that time it wasn't even officially for sale yet. I must be the first person in my town to read it! I'm going to take a big bite out of it this afternoon, I hope.

Remember how a couple days I wrote a really upset post? At the end, I mentioned how I had to write six essays for Thursday, which was of course yesterday. I obviously didn't have TIME to write about them yesterday, as I was still writing THEM, but I'll explain a little bit now:

A few days ago my mom handed me a postcard addressed to me--all it said was "Free summer program--Apply online today!" and a url. I thought, Oh, another of these summer-classes-at-a-college things that I keep getting spammed with. Nevertheless, it said the magic word FREE, so I typed in the url to see what it was all about. And indeed it is (entirely, even room and board) free. It's for a few weeks over the summer, taught by famous professors about fascinating topics, with no grades. You're only invited to apply if a teacher at your school recommends you, and even if you do apply you're not guaranteed to get in. But of course I wanted to get in, and anyway there was nothing to lose, so I decided to apply.

As I scrolled through the information about applying, I saw to my chagrin that the deadline for applications was the 27th. Thursday. Then as I read further, I saw that six essay questions were asked as part of the application. How on earth do they expect me to write six good essays in two days? I wondered. Then I looked at the postmark: December 23rd. That meant that the postcard inviting me to apply must have arrived a month ago, but my disorganized house and busy family being as they are, the postcard didn't reach ME until two days before the deadline. Lovely.

I looked at the essay questions. Alright, it was more like five, because one of them just required a list of books I'd read recently and periodicals that I read regularly. Easy. But then there were the others... And I must tell you, I can write something passable very quickly, but it takes me quite a lot of time and revisions before I have an essay that I'm truly proud of--one that's cohesive and interesting and concise. I was angry because I was sure I could have gotten in if only I had more time to write the essays; as it is, I'm rather dubious.

Furthermore, I realized that I'd forgotten to write one of them (I'd skipped it to "come back to later") FIFTEEN MINUTES before midnight on the 27th. So. I wrote a fifteen-minute response to the vast question, "Discuss a specific problem or topic in a field that interests you. You may address political, philosophical, social, literary, aesthetic, or other questions. Your essay should represent your own views and thoughts; it should not be a research paper. Your essay should be no longer than 2 single-spaced pages." My response was rambling and jumped rapidly from point to point, just as if it were me talking (hence the excessive italics). It's embarrassingly bad, for I was writing with a sleepy mind as well as the obvious time constraints.

Basically, I was trying to convey my sadness that nobody's encouraged to become artists anymore. I stopped telling people I want to be a novelist when I grow up because the looks that THAT comment received were always either indulgent ("Of course you are, dear") or incredulous ("Okay, what are you REALLY going to do?").

Anyway, I thought that you guys could at least derive some amusement from my little exposition (don't worry, it's significantly shorter than 2 single-spaced pages), so it's the post below this one. I didn't clean it up for you, so don't even ask me why I wrote that thing about the dying man. Don't. Even. Ask. I myself have no idea what could have possessed me to write such strangeness. Oh wow, there's no way I'm getting into that program. Dammit.

But I like to end my posts on a more positive note, so here we go. Today my sister looked at my hair and exclaimed, "Oh, you're wearing your Aragorn hairdo!"

5 Comments:

Blogger Steve Silberman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Steve Silberman said...

Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie, by Bob Dylan

10:54 AM  
Blogger T.C. said...

Wow, thanks! I've also been listening to a bit of Woody Guthrie lately, plus there's Mermaid Avenue, a 2-volume CD on which Wilco and Billy Bragg sing melodies they've written to accompany old long-lost Woody Guthrie lyrics. The songs are great.

--T.C.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Shakeer said...

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3:39 PM  
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