The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories:
Exploring the Significance of Diversity

Forum 11
"I preferred the story of Wilhelm Meister to that of Werther; while Werther disintegrated, Wilhelm learned from the wonder of us life and grew" (p 387)


Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  some more holden.
Date:  2004-04-05 21:42:04
Message Id:  9182
Comments:
read elizabeth's post and it got me thinking about how we get into each other's subconsiouses without even realizing that we have these visitors in our minds. i've also been thinking a lot about icarus and how my life is so busy it's hard to really listen to the splash made by those who are constantly falling. so, in an attempt to lessen the generalizations i usually make, i have a personal anecdote that happened today:
my brother is in israel right now. this morning i got up for breakfast and read the paper while i ate. the front page article was about a bunch of american soldiers who had been killed in iraq. not really startling news these days. i flipped through the pages of the paper ... checked up on the b-ball games from the past night ... not really focusing on anything in particular. but, then something flashed in my head ... let's say that my brother, so close to that violence, had been one of those young army men killed. and i thought about how absolutly crushed i would have been ... i was only able to feel the pain scrawled on the front page when i brought it into my own life. and then the pain was debilitating. maybe you see why this story is relevant? Auden's poem seems to critisize the ploughman and the sailor's in the delicate ship ... and, while reading the poem, i think, of course, i would jump out of that dainty ship and save the fallen boy, i'm lifeguard certified! but, i think the point of the poem is that the ploughman and the sailors are like me eating breakfast, they don't even make the connection that someone's else's pain could insight a feeling or action within themselves. they sail on not because they are cold or cruel, but rather because they are unthinking. their bodies don't know the motion of turning to another's pain. my body doesn't know the sensation of empathy for other's unless brought into my own world, brought into the language of MY family. and i wonder if other's have that lacking within themselves.... when you hear about someone else's pain do you have to convert it into a scenario in terms of your own life? i think that icarus speaks to a world in which people not only do not feel other's pain, but they don't even realize the pain until they are in it themselves. ... they can't even imagine pain into their lives ....
and i think the reason i like to use generalizing language (the WE and the US) is becuase i feel threatened when i say these things only about myself ... that's a lonely paragraph i just wrote .... how sucky would it be if ya'all said, "orah, we have absolutly no idea what you're talking about, you cold-hearted @#$%." and so generally i would tell this story in terms of my friend, humanity, on the cliff not being able to see her sobbing company. so i think this might be my only post like this, though it might be more precise, better accuracy ... it kinda hurts to tell it this way.

and one more thing:
for those of you who might, too, be holden caulfield lovers ... a treat for you: been thinking about how some of you seem to feel that my words are clingy themselves, that you are feeling clung to ... holden explains better than i so i'll let him talk. his last words in catcher, the book in which he tells the evolution of his story, are thus: "I'm sorry i told so many people about it. about all i know is, i sort of miss everybody i told about. even old stradlater and ackley, for instance. i think i even miss gaddam Maurice. it's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. if you do, you start missing everybody."
and holden has just told us everything. and with these last words holden misses US, his readers ... those seem like clingy words if i've ever read any. and i guess i can relate. i tell so much here, to all of you, and i beleive holden, i know i'm going to miss ya'all ... and so i guess, you're right, my words are clingy. i could argue ... but i won't.
i guess i'll just say that i know telling my story creates ties, clinging-divises, but i don't take holden's advice ... i will tell my story ... and doom myself to a life of missing everybody, a life of lonliness. isn't that what you're asking us to do here? to tell our stories? to create ties between people? ....to risk intertwining our stories ... there isn't much that is riskier, i don't think ... maybe that is the strength of stories (but, godam it! there i go again trying to generalize.) ....so we have a choice ... do we tell our stories and then miss those we told, or do we not tell. both seem like lonely lives.......but, anyways, don't worry, i won't cling too hard ... you've seen me learn that ... i know, now ,that it is safer, i'll live a longer life if i don't cling too hard, i'll let go, don't worry. i know people leave ((i like thinking back to when i figured things out ... i figured that one out while reading little women with anne spring semester last year ... i went absolutely crazy when i figured it out .))
g'night all.
ps humm.. never got to talking about how we get into each other's subconsious' .... later.


Name:  kat
Username:  kmccormi@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-05 21:53:07
Message Id:  9183
Comments:
Roz, your posting made a thought that I had a long time ago return to me. I have trouble imagining (believing?) that the world intellectual climate could change, mostly because it is such a vast, vast place. Somehow I have trouble thinking of changes that could cause resultson that scale. I think this is largely because I see myself as so individual, and usually the sphere of things that can and do affect me is a small one. But then again, I know that as technology grows, the world becomes so much smaller a place, due to the communication between cultures that formerly knew not of each other's existence. And this in turn reminds me of one of the central tenets of evolution presented in Mayr- that evolution occurs the fastest in small isolated populations. Is our (human) cultural evolution slowing as we gain knowledge of eachother and assimilate into each other's spheres?
Name:  Nancy
Username:  nevans@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  blind spots
Date:  2004-04-06 10:17:28
Message Id:  9204
Comments:
Such provocative conversation in the forum right now; I feel like I am
buzzing from class...

So, I think I'll start with Diane's query:
"what other creatures on earth can take nothingness (ie the spot) and
create something more beautiful than was even there in the first place "

Last year, Emily Teel introduced me to a photography magazine called
Blind Spot (www.blindspot.com). At first, I felt exceedingly pedestrian
that I "didn't get it", but I never stopped to think that "blindspot" might be
important. I like to think of a blind spot (and, granted, i missed out on
tuesday's discussion) as something that might transcend the idea of
cultural capital. Thinking of blind spots leads us to hone in on
everything we overlook in our efforts to know what is "important" or
"useful". So, anyway, the pictures are beautiful and poignant in that
'ohhhhhhh, wow. hmm, i never would have paid any attention' sort of
way.

www.blindspot.com


Name:  Nancy
Username:  nevans@bmc
Subject:  Election...
Date:  2004-04-06 10:22:10
Message Id:  9205
Comments:
Has anyone seen the movie election? I remembered it again this weekend, and I think it's a good modernized variation on Moby Dick.

Basically, it's about a high school teacher (Matthew Broderick), who will go to any and all lengths to destrot Tracy (Reese Witherspoon)'s efforts to become student council president. One of Broderick's high school friends (who is also a teacher), has an affair with Tracy and winds up losing his marriage. Broderick loses his job and winds up as a tour guide somewhere. It's a dark comedy, and it definitely has that essence of trying to destroy something because the idea imbedded in that something is larger than life. Tracy becomes an obsession for these men, and trying to "get" her in various ways destroys them both.

Just thought someone might want to check it out :)


Name:  Pbraun@bmc
Username:  Perrin
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-06 15:13:14
Message Id:  9207
Comments:
Back to Moby Dick...I was thinking some more about the crew's mob mentality and their eagerness to make Ahab's personal mission into a collective goal. I find this really interesting because Americans pride themselves on being an individualistic society (as opposed to collectivist Asian cultures where conformity to social norms is blatantly encouraged), but we really are so, so ready to bend our backs towards a charismatic leader like Ahab. Well, maybe their conformity is not ALL due to Ahab's charisma, but partially because the rational behind his quest is so ambiguous. Everybody has their own White Whale—their own vendetta or their own pursuit—and it is Moby Dick who bears the brunt of their collective passion.

Also, someone in Anne's Thursday discussion section made a comment about how the crew of the Pequod signed up for the whaling voyage because the concept of whaling is romantic, but I don't think that's true. This particular crew does not strike me as having a glorified vision of their life's work; they all seem to be running from something, perhaps life? Otherwise, why would they stay on the damned Pequod if many members of the crew acknowledge that they are going to die? Their voyage seems far from romantic, almost...suicidal.


Name:  Elizabeth Deacon
Username:  edeacon@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Fanfic
Date:  2004-04-06 16:39:53
Message Id:  9211
Comments:
I was thinking about _Ahab's Wife_ as fanfic. I mentioned it in class, how fanfic writers write stories with other people's characters. Now, in most fanfic, almost all if not all of the characters in the fanfic are from the original story, I think because of the reasons that people write fanfic.

The average teenybopper writing fanfic is writing is because he or she loves the characters, the relations between them, and the world they live in. Those who are particularly attached to a character might make a new character who their favorite character falls in love with. Those who love the world will make a new character who simply lives there and might be somehow involved in the plot. Those who love the relations between characters write with only the original story's characters and has them interact in the ways the author would like them to.

_Ahab's Wife_ seems terribly unlike these typical fanfics. It has almost entirely new characters, and they don't live on a boat for most of the book. This makes me almost want to give up on it as fanfic, but that's unnecessary. The thing is, what I think fascinated Naslund most about _Moby Dick_ is something few fanficced stories have and fewer fanfic authors notice; philosophy. _Ahab's Wife_ is studying the philosophy, rather than the characters or the world setting of _Moby Dick_, from a new angle.

The next question that comes to my mind, then, is what angle is it? It's easy to toss of that it's a woman's angle, a woman's perception of the issues dealt with in _Moby Dick_, but I think that's too easy, and unfair to the complexity of both books. So perhaps it's the perspective of Una specifically? Of someone who grew up in her environment, on the land, struggling with freedom and constraints? But that seems too narrow. Maybe I won't be able to figure this out until I've read more of the book. Maybe even after I've finished the book it will be one of those questions I just wonder and wonder about. Maybe the only answer is that it is Naslund's perspective. What do you guys think?


Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  proceed with caution! clingy words ahead!
Date:  2004-04-06 17:15:02
Message Id:  9212
Comments:
finding it hard to tear myself away from md. ... this is the first time i've realized how wonderful it is, can't we stay just a little longer ... not yet engaged with ahab's wife. but, here are some thoughts, tinged by md's dwindlings in my mind and dawning thoughts about ahab's wife. ((reminds me of, oh my, such a sublime melville line, "In thought, a fine human brow is like the East when troubled with the morning" (274).)) so, last semester i took a class with prof. beard in which we read a lot of african american women writers. we read toni morrison's paradise (which i fully recomend) as the experience of an african american woman. and the question was raised, and i've been thinking about it ever since, when will we be able to read toni morrison as a human being writing about what it means to be human. when will she stop being confined in the parameters of being a woman, and the boundaries of being a black woman? when will toni morrison be taught as a human being telling the story of her humanity? and i resent the fact that i am confined to the experiences of a woman because of my anatomy, or that my writing can be pinned and limited to the experiences of a woman. i'm a human being, gadamn it! and that's what i talk about. that's what i care about.
so, the idea behind ahab's wife kinda bothers me, i guess. just the unfounded stigma of the book being the 'female version of md' ...don't like that. i realize that md is a masculine book, but i don't think a male is going to get more out of it, or relate more to it than i do. and grobstein says that he really like ahab's wife ...
on another note: to the begining of class: the role of the teacher vs. the ahab ... em's hard choice .... so, i think about that a lot, because with my passions in life it seems that i have cornered myself into a space in which the variety of professional fields are very limited: in short, i'm going to be a teacher. and that kinda scares me, because i'm comfortable in my ahabian lifestyle, my crazed monomaniacal language. and if i become a teacher i'm going to have to extract some of that, and open up ... reminded of the comfoting imagry of contraction from the begining of the course, curling into oneself. we're each alone, (fine!) I'M ALONE (though i'm inclined to say that my experience of individual humans has been that of loneliness), but at least i can contract into myself, and think my own thoughts, and soothe my own fears ... for a newly converted drifter i am pretty self sufficient at sewing myself back up, healing my own wounds. but, as a teacher your concerns are outward, ever expanding ... i don't really know how to get there ... or even if i want to be there ... i like my self-centered existence... who will hold me together if i don't focus my attention inward ?
and another thought: should have said this when grobstein read my posting at the begining of class. don't like that post anymore. i don't like the idea of the clinging club and the tossed team. because there is reality (i think, right now), there is an aerial view (?a little less sure of, but am saying for the sake of argument) and we are all living in the same world ... so i guess i'll say, as anne did in her notes, that the 'clingers' and the 'drifters' are exaggerations, no one is a complete clinger or a complete drifter ...
finally i'll quote melville for the last time (that's a lie) "But even Solomon, he says, 'the man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain' (i.e. even while living) 'in the congregation of the dead.' Give not thyself up, then , to fire, lest it invert thee, deadden thee; as for the time it did me. there is wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness." there is a theme in md about seeing this dark side, the unformed, existence before the word ... as when Pip is in the sea "Pip saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom, AND SPOKE IT; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason , is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, it feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God."
ENOUGH, ORAH!
i guess i'm curious of our professors' monomeniacle sides ... what they think about these quotes ... we get lectured to and asked questions, but don't get posts ...maybe too much to ask?
i promise i won't take it as gospel truth...if that's the hesitation of the teacher.
anyways, i'm off to my familial obligations to The Great Opiate.
Name:  Fritz Dubuisson
Username:  fdubuiss
Subject:  The big snore or The whale
Date:  2004-04-06 21:56:05
Message Id:  9216
Comments:
Having found Moby Dick a hard read I was very skeptical of anything having to do with that Whale. But I find myself oddly liking the story of Una. Today's posting readings have me wondering "what is excitement?" and why does it seem to be so important? In the Thursday sections with Anne we've talked about and around the Melville's running commentary that life should be lived not read- yet he goes and writes a novel that sometimes looks like it has no end. Was this his search for "excitement"? Maybe that's one of the reasons I couldn't and still can't stand Moby Dick- It just didn't drive me to excitement or any thoughts near the realm of enjoyable.
Name:  cham
Username:  chamovitz@aol.com
Subject:  a retrospective thought upon returning to shore
Date:  2004-04-07 01:37:09
Message Id:  9224
Comments:
According to Dan Gottlieb: "to acknowledge our smallness is to acknowledge our vulnerability". However, i assert that to acknowledge our smallness is to acknowledge our opportunity.

And here we find a conflict: to acknowledge our vulnerability "takes the pressure off" of us and allows for safety, while to acknowledge our opportunity posits greater control over our own destiny and allows for adventure.

The way(s) in which we choose to interpret our own smallness is often a matter of deep personal conflict. I can easily say that I choose to see my own smallness as opportunity rather than vulnerability, but have I acted in any way as to justify this statement? have I or will I throw caution and practicality to the wind, in pursuit of adventure or greatness? ...or will I remain on the safe and steady shore?

I wonder if ishmael struggled with such an internal conflict prior to embarking on his journey...and as I graduate this May and set my own sails into the sea of opportunity...I wonder if he regrets his choice.


Name:  Diane Scarpa
Username:  dscarpa@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-07 15:54:23
Message Id:  9238
Comments:
Cham I'm so glad you made that last posting. I interpret our smallness in the same way, am comfortable with it, and am pleased to see that someone else is with me. To elaborate I am going to refer to Kabbalah, which is something I don't often do because I take it so seriously. I worry about misrepresenting it, which is why I don't usually mention it when it is pertinent in class. But in this case I think it is appropiate..

Kabbalah says that we are all sparks that comprise a larger verb (or g-d). Therefore, we all possess g-d like qualities. We are simultaneously connected and disconnected, unique and aggregated. Because of this connection what one person does affects the rest of us. The smallness is only one part of the story. You cannot have smallness without bigness, and vice versa. I like to remember the immensity of what we are embarking on together, it doesn't give my smallness purpose -- rather, it reminds me of the purpose inherant in my smallness.


Name:  simran
Username:  skaur
Subject:  dan and cham
Date:  2004-04-08 01:20:04
Message Id:  9244
Comments:
cham, your posting really made me think...
when dan said that to acknowledge our smallness is to acknowledge our vulnerability, i don't think he meant for that safety to be the end result. i agree with you and i think he does too. for me, to acknowledge my smallness in this large disorderly design first makes me feel vulnerable, then makes me realize that i do not have as much control as i thought i did, so i do feel safe...but from that safety also comes the belief that things can go only so wrong, thus allowing me to take chances, set sail and have adventures! both dan's posting and yours really speak to me and for me, they say the same thing...
Name:  Ro.
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  Memes, niches, and the writing process
Date:  2004-04-08 07:13:44
Message Id:  9245
Comments:
Been thinkin' bout memes since before this course, and about niches since Dennett (although I do think he's got it wrong—a finite number of niches are not just there, waiting to be discovered and filled; there are an infinite number of niches created spontaneously as biological and cultural evolutions take new turns). From time to time, I've been asking myself if the course objectives are still hinged, i.e., is there a substantial hinge between the story of evolution and how stories evolve? The jury is out on how that hinge works, but I'm feeling that the apparatus does exist.

So, when Paul interrupted Anne (I am happy for these interruptions, additions of thought because they are generally working at the hinge if it all) on Tuesday to observe out loud that Ahab's Wife would not exist were it not for Melville's Moby (a tacit thought I am sure many of us had noodling around in our brains. I did, but had not noticed its worth yet), and that one created a niche for the other to enter, I got excited.

Fiction creates niches that more fiction can follow: To test this hypothesis, all I need is some time, a computer, access to some heavy-duty data bases that contain stuff about fiction (authors, dates, synopses, that sort of thing. I betcha I'd find some strong, interesting patterns across time, physical location, and cultural space.

The only way fiction is created is by filling niches created by predecessor fiction. Hmmm. It is so true that writers train for their craft by studying the works of other writers, past and present. Reading is the best path to writing. It is interesting that what comes from one writer reading the works of others can be fresh, new, dare I say it: original. How does that happen?

And what about non-fiction? The truth of it is that it is not "true" because we cannot/do not remember events faithfully...but I think it's more than flaky wiring...I think that we immerse event memories in our own psychological juices that change the color and shape of what happened as they go down.

But do we also create non-fiction in the niches formed by other people's non-fiction writings (and these could be scientific, journalistic, etc), or must first-order events spawn this form of communication?

It's getting complicated, but I'm not done. There's another thingie in the middle: Take something purported to be true—something you saw or experienced. THINK about it. WHAT are you doing to it in the process of thinking about it? Something's going on that produces extrapolation, conjecture, deductions.... are these "fiction"?

I'll stop. I think this will be the rope I climb...or wind up pushing on...for the third paper.
See ya's in class.


Name:  nancy
Username:  nevans@bmc
Subject:  she's talking to me...
Date:  2004-04-08 11:52:50
Message Id:  9246
Comments:
I'm struck by the times when I feel as though I am being spoken to directly, and I don't really mean "the time when I, the reader, am being spoken to", more like "Hey, nancy, listen to this.."

"Let me assure you and tell you that I know you, even something of your pain and joy, for you are much like me. The contract of writing and reading requires that we know each other. Did you know that I try on your mask from time to time? I become a reader, too" (p. 148).


"do you know that I try on your mask from time to time?"
.wow. it's amazing how things are so interrelated when you pay attention.


Name:  nancy
Username:  nevans@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Diane made me happy
Date:  2004-04-08 12:03:28
Message Id:  9247
Comments:
"we are all sparks that comprise a larger verb"

how lovely. I love to think that there is some sort of elemental interconnectedness among people... and this is now my favorite way to describe it. We are all part of the same action; I love 'verb' used like this... not so much as something *someone* does but just as the act that can stand alone with everyone contributing to it.

This makes me think of what I just posted (I read Diane's posting afterward). Perhaps this is why we read books-- to remind ourselves of our intertwining fates (so romantic...). Maybe this is why passages like the one I posted above hit me so hard; because Naslund is acknowledging something that we all feel (but have a difficult time expressing as poignantly as Diane has done).

I need time to think about this book; I feel like I want to keep it inside me, and have my own way with it before I let it out into the world. Isn't that selfish?


Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  LOL
Date:  2004-04-08 12:08:25
Message Id:  9248
Comments:

...at Orah's saying she's "curious of our professors' monomeniacle sides ... what they think about these quotes ... we get lectured to and asked questions, but don't get posts ..."

I've actually been fretting that my own monomania is so openly on display in this course, that (for instance), the web page I made for Tuesday's class, w/ its incessent quoting/reflecting on quotes/weaving together quotes/linking them to concurrent conversations elsewhere with Dan Gottlieb, feminist theory, information theory, local political arrangements...are all indices to same. Identifying/cathexing w/ Una as I do, it's a wonder I didn't show up on Tuesday in a hoop skirt (though I did drag in a few of my quilts....)


Name:  em
Username:  emadsen@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  men/women
Date:  2004-04-08 16:32:05
Message Id:  9249
Comments:
i've been reading this book, "ways of seeing," by john berger, and there have been a couple quotes that really struck me re: our tuesday discussion about the different first sentences of moby-dick, and ahab's wife. the crux of berger's discussion on the female nude in art concludes with this: "One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." (47) the function of this separate definition of gendered identity serves to illuminate "Call me Ishmael..." and "Captain Ahab was neither my first...". when Ishmael addresses the reader, he needs not do so with any intermediary. he is simply a man capable of introducing himself and he does so accordingly. he acts. una, on the other hand, must define herself in a reflexive way that depends largely on the eyes of the observers-- both us, the readers, and the society she lives in. reading berger's book, i wonder, could either of these books be begun in any other way?
Name:  Anne Dalke
Username:  adalke@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  alternatives
Date:  2004-04-08 20:23:27
Message Id:  9251
Comments:

oh, of course, em: there's always an alternative to what IS....

and much? most? fiction moves us from one place to another: Moby-Dick begins in comedy, moves to tragedy (? or a zen state?). Ahab's Wife begins w/ a relational gesture, and will move slowly, slowly into...a sense of independence, of marriage-to-self, of taking self as center...? (Since I'm a *little* further along in Ahab's Wife than everyone else, I need to keep reminding myself not to "give anything away." But want to invite you all to watch as Una works herself out of/away from the Ahab-like "singleness of purpose," fastened on something outside herself, which originally drove her...)

Following Roz's suggestion that new environments are productive of new fictions "adapted to fit" them: Moby-Dick offers a 19th c. American alternative to Shakespearean tragedy, Ahab's Wife a 20th-c. alternative to Moby-Dick; our section today was imagining some pretty satisfying 21st-century alternatives to Ahab's Wife...

Well, okay, okay, we ACTUALLY spent an amazing amount of time today confronting the cannibal w/in. And discussion turned from the particularities of the dilemma of what-to-do-about-being-hungry-@-sea to the much larger existential questions of what it means to decide for ourselves about what we value in life, what gives it meaning (for instance: might dying physically be a way of preserving one self spiritually/emotionally/socially ....of survival in a different dimension, on a plane other than the material...??)

I thought of these queries, of Ahab's (and Una's alternative) way of answering them as I was reading Albert Camus's "The Myth of Sisyphus" (1955) this evening:

"the world itself is not reasonable....But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. The absurd depends as much on man as on the world. For the moment it is all that links them together. It binds them one to the other as only hatred can weld two creatures together....the doctrines that explain everything to me also debilitate me....They relieve me of the weight of my own life, and yet I must carry it alone."

A (slightly) relevant pun, provided by my daughter Mar,
just returned from a beach vacation:
what's the opposite of a pelican?

**a peli-can't


Name:  Mary
Username:  mferrell@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  CANNIBILISM!
Date:  2004-04-08 21:22:20
Message Id:  9252
Comments:
Wow, what a discussion today! Hope I never have to go to a feast of hands but if I do, I am wondering - should we each eat our own hand? Probably. Although, not much meat there. I imagine we would eat a foot and a calf next. I would definitely want my own because it has a good amount of meat and fat. Wonder what it would taste like? (And this from a vegetarian?) I am definitely making light of a horrid scenario. What is the meaning of this? Really, what is the meaning of this discussion on cannibalism? Today in discussion, it seemed to make us all think about the meaning of life.

Despite how vivid the meaning of life becomes when life is threatened, I still believe that human life self-defines its own meaning, and beyond survival, human-created meaning could be void. Meaning is a mental function, biologically created to help us survive. Being faced with the need to survive on a ship with no food, the meaning of life becomes very strong. Life is something that most of us do not want to give it up. The ability to indicate meaning (values) around us and value to our life is truly made palatable by our emotions. So palatable that it seems to really exist, rather than just be a measuring tool for survival.

Maybe meaning does exist in this existence and perhaps of a different nature than how we conceive it. I tend to think that it probably exists whether we are alive or dead. It seems to me that CREATION IS GREAT, dead or alive. And, I imagine the meaning of it all to be glorious, because creation is so glorious. Now, I only know life and I give it great meaning. I know not death. I want to live!!! I feel that life might not have meaning but that life equals meaning. Or is that my emotions speaking? I am hoping boundlessly that death or whatever comes next equals meaning also. I just got off the phone with a friend whose mother died yesterday. She has been crying continuously and it sounds like her pain is almost too impossible to bear...............................................................................

LOVE and MEANING: As I said in class discussion today, I would die for my children and so my love for them means more than my life itself. Love can mean more than life. Thinking about choosing love over life in biological terms, it makes sense that a parent would die for their offspring. However, an offspring would also die for their parent. And some of us would die for another human being even if we did not know them. I know I would if I had some sense that the other person was a good person. This leads me to think about how our minds have power over our genes. I think our minds go further than being unconsciously driven to preserve our genes. If selfish genes alone were running the show, how could people make the decision not to have children, or make the choice to die (or not die) for one's children or others? This ability to make these kinds of choices might be a randomly evolved ability that we humans have developed. Our mind's independence from genetic influence may or may not interfere with future natural selection. In the meantime, we have choices like love or life. Pretty cool.

I guess you could say, the story of evolution has greatly influenced my understanding of meaning and the mind.


Name:  Paul Grobstein
Username:  pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  a POST
Date:  2004-04-10 13:47:32
Message Id:  9257
Comments:
Orah saith "we get lectured to and asked questions, but don't get posts ...maybe too much to ask?". Its not TRUE (as per here/prior forums) ... and , as is obvious, I don't HAVE a monomanical side in any case.

I do though occasionally get amused by things, such as the cross feed between our conversation and the Gottlieb event/conversation. I've noted some of what's going on here there. And actually created a whole new page based on the mix of the conversations. Have a look and let me know what you think? Does relate to our conversations here?

We didn't manage anything as dramatic as cannibalism on Thursday, but I thought it was an interesting discussion nonetheless. I'll trust my colleagues to fill in their own view but what amused me was the notion that Naslund was raising some serious questions about the "moby dick moment", suggesting that maybe it was Una who was/is the "extraordinary" person and Ahab the "ordinary" one (rather than the reverse, as in the "canon"?). After all, Ahab just lost one leg, whereas Una lost a baby, a mother, a father, and .... (all in the first hundred pages). And it didn't cause HER to become monomaniacal. Which then (inevitably?) returned the discussion to "clinginess". Maybe Ahab was the clingy one? Was Una "clingy"? If so, to what? (no, I'm not clingy EITHER).


Name:  Perrin
Username:  Pbraun@bmc
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-11 15:45:35
Message Id:  9265
Comments:
In reference to the cannibalism in the boats, evolutionary Psychology postulates on what type of person we would die for and who we are capable of readily killing (or rather, who is more expendable). For example, if a mother were trapped in a boat with her two children and had to eat one of them—one an infant and the other a toddler—the mother would kill the infant because the toddler is better physically equipped for survival than the infant, who has acquired few disease immunities and would die quicker in such a situation. Conversely, if a mother was trapped in a boat with her teenager and a toddler, the mother would kill the youngest child because the teenager is ready to spread her genes by reproducing.

Referring to Paul's posting, I think that Una is the 'clingy' one. She clings to life with a tenacity that Ahab lacks because when tragedy occurs, it is Ahab who turns his back on everything that he once held dear and focuses all his energy on death and destruction. Una's circumstances were much, MUCH more catastrophic than those of Ahab, but she loves life enough to move on.

On another note, I find the syntax of Ahab's Wife so interesting. It has an almost poetic, rhythmic quality to it as if it had a Toni Morrison-esque beat.

page 224: "The murdering. We shouldn't. Voices cracked as lips and tongues. We must."
page 225: "We drank and ate. We slept. We dreamed, and believed reality was dream."

It's fascinating how those choppy sentences can be more profound and emotionally-riveting than Melville's long elaborations. Ok, that's all for now =)


Name:  Meg
Username:  mfolcare@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-11 18:46:03
Message Id:  9266
Comments:
I just want to say that I am really enjoying this book. Although it has a very tragic storyline, Una is so interesting. Her character is one that I can really identify with, and I like watching her growth through her different experience. She refuses to crack where everyone else does. The book itself is beautiful, and the colors and descriptions make it easy to picture in my mind's eye. It pairs nicely with Moby Dick, but as was brought up in class on Thursday, the book cannot stand on its own. It needs Moby Dick in order to function, but it expands on Melville's ideas and forms a wonderful little niche for itself.
Name:  Diane Scarpa
Username:  dscarpa@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-11 20:03:14
Message Id:  9270
Comments:
I concur, Ahab's Wife is not a book that can stand on its own. For this reason it is unquestionable that Una is clingy. Her entire world relies to something else (ie the original text). She is clingy by association, without even overtly exhibiting any real signs of it.

I can't keep from wondering how Melville would feel about this book. If I were him I think I'd be upset (and I assure you, it isn't because I hate the book). The author is not doing anything particularly innovative here. Innovation would mean that the book could stand on its own. I'm sure the author had good intention, but something about it feels like she took the easy way out and cheapened Moby-Dick in the process. The author has raped Moby-Dick, leaving it somewhat broken in my mind.


Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 00:17:55
Message Id:  9275
Comments:
about a week ago i said that i didn't think that anyone was a complete clinger or a complete drifter ... i think we all have a combination of both (no?? i'm curious what ya'all think) ... i'm even slightly embarassed to have coined the terms here ... i feel like i've betrayed my eliot-philosophy (from proofrock: "and i have known the eyes already, known them all - / the eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, / and when i am formulated, sprawling on a pin, / when i am pinned and wriggling on the wall, / then how should i begin / to spit out all the butt-ends and days and ways?") ... i think this pinning that i've (we've) been doing all semester is useful to a point ... but, when i start to restrict myself and others with this peircing then it's too violent, and should be stopped. as anne said, or was quoted as saying, that writing is an act of violence ... i think violence is only useful when it helps to rebuild something in the place of that which was destroyed (for those in the fairytale csem THAT was my problem with butler ... though i MIGHT revise what i said about her) writing cannot leave us to a wasteland with no water. the water must come. in eliot's the wastland all is utter desolation. but at the end he leaves us with 7 sayings and writes, "these fragments i have shored against my ruins." he leaves us with tools of regeneration. and THAT, Auden says is the function of the poet: " in the deserts of the heart / let the healing fountain start, / in the prison of his days / teach the free man how to praise."

haven't had internet access since last tuesday and i'm kinda glad that i wasn't able to chart my reaction to ahab's wife as i was reading, but only now, 600 pages in, can i finally release my thought about it ... but i'm am at a loss of words. i just don't know about this book. i don't know. it's a loose feeling: not knowing, premontions of imminent collapse. i'm inclined to formulate a condenced reaction to the book by the end of my reading, but i'm going to try to resist that.
...i'll start by saying that i was disgusted by the book until page 231, chapter 46, ganglion. not really important why i couldn't take it ... the important thing is what happened on 231. and i don't even know. it just got good. really good. she started being able to write ... i don't know what happened ... she started knowing about life ... and and and her words were just sublime for a couple chapters ...she makes me stutter ... i'll go back in a later post and say why i think these pages are just so sublime ... but, not now.
i'm just stunned by this sharp change in her writing ... for the rest of the book she seems to dabble in an out of this genious.
sometimes she speaks so so deeply to me.
so, i guess i am frustrated that she cannot keep that level of genious in her writing. melville doesn't either, i guess ... but for some reason i find it much easier to critisize her fluffy writing ((that's an understatement)) rather than his boring writing ((i guess, that, too, is an understatement.))
but maybe that's what our whole conversation about 'embarrasement about past postings' is all about. Ahab's wife is about the evolution of a woman and i guess we can't get to the genious without the learning to be a genious.
should the learning, should the embarrassments, should the development be published? it is about the movement toward beauty or is it the beauty itself that is treasured? i guess this course is all about how the important part is the evolution, not the end, but i don't know here ... you tell me ... i'm at a loss, i just don't know. i thought until now that it's about the movement, the evolution. but, i don't know anymore, because of this book.
i'm kinda at a loss for words (wish my body would just let me be in silence for a while ... or at least let me quote for eternity ... let the masters explain my soul) but, i guess i will just quote to you two lines that blew my mind:
md: ahab to starbuck:
"stand close to me, starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into the sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God."
and ahab's wife:
david to una:
"'i forgive you,' he said in his mellow male voice that seemed to blend God and nature."


Name:  daniela
Username:  dmiteva@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  love is in the air...
Date:  2004-04-12 09:20:20
Message Id:  9281
Comments:
I finally menaged to figure out why Una cannot make up her mind whom (Giles or Kit) she prefers. My answer is more than simple-because they are the complementary parts of one personality. Giles is able to observe the environment and admire it. He is the philosopher, the passive dreamer drifted along life. Quite unlike Kit who aspires to the unattainable. Is it only the bonds of friendship that unite them? Or is it some sort of dependency on each other's presence?
Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  better wise than famous ... or not.
Date:  2004-04-12 16:08:13
Message Id:  9287
Comments:
had my meeting with prof. grobstein today and we talked a little about ahab's wife. i said that one of the reasons i found the first 230 pages to be nearly unbearable was because una had no life experience and i'm not going to get anything out of that. i hate teenage love triangles unbearable and excruciatingly boring. grobstein brought up the point that from the begining of the book we know that this woman looses her baby and her mother in the same day; those traumas, found in the first pages, proves to be so much greater than anything ahab experiences. i mean, get over it buddy, it's just a leg. from these first chapters we know that una is a woman who knows the excruciating pain of life. and then the book moves back in her life, to her life before her pain, to her life of meaningless sappy romance (oops, did that slip out?!) and this writing is useless to me. what i am arguing is that even though we know that una goes through a lot these morsels of 'life before' are useless to me. i'm interested in what she says in the immediate, visceral life of pain. but, i agree that the first 230 pages are somehow essential to this book. we don't see ishmael's evolution. we are (oops, again!) I am utterly astounded in the first parragraph of md. what is the value of writing that charts the evolution of character, the evolution of thought, instead of maintaining one level of thought. i don't think there is any change in ishmael's intellect, his interest in the book. her learns something, we watch him learn that something, but something about him is static. not with una. everything about her changes. we KNOW una because we've watched her grow, we don't KNOW ahab (in md) or ishmael, we WATCH them.
what is the signifigance of this difference in perception?

also grobstein (((i really really really hope i'm quoting you acurately...a million apologies if i misunderstood))) said that he thought naslund did this intentionally. naslund wrote crappily at the begining on purpose. hadn't thought of that. but, now looking back to the realm before 231 i can see glimmers of genious that i hadn't noticed in my blinding disgust. (example (205) "at your own death, i adked myself, can the vastness of your own experience be buried in the ground, funneled into nothing but the shape of a grave?")
and finally i'll whisper some heavenly quotes to all of you, my friends...from ganglion:
"let me know that into the knot of self comes the thread called time, and that what i am, disgraced or blessed, came from what i was, goes to what i yet may be." this woman can write! and she's found a crack in my very making and has squeezed herself into my being with words! soul peircing!
and i have to go, but will have to post later about the three of them holding each other together. (241) "'do you think that we would die for each other?' i asked. 'yes,' giles said. 'or live. you might find that harder.'" and i asked in another post: who would hold me together if i didn't hold myself tight in the knot that is me? and this is a clinging threesome in which they don't hold their SELVES together individually, but rather, they hold the group together. but, what the hell happens when an essential part of this single knot is loosed!!!!!!!!!!!!! what happens when the people you cling to, the people who hold your very existence together, die!!!!!!!!!! godamn it! what happens?!?! kit goes mad. he's a clinger and ceases to be. una does not cling. she is like ishmael and she loves, but does not cling and she lives on. perfect example of the safer life of a drifter. (((i fall back into bad habbits of useing this flawed termenology ... sry ... but i think it kinda relevant.)))
k. gtg. later friends!
ps was so happy when naslund included pip. never got to talk about him, but pip is one of my favorite, if not my very favorite character in md ... that means one of my very favorite characters in all of literature.

pps didn't mean to poke at our prof.s in the post from last week. i'm just feeling more known than knowing ... don't like that ... i'd rather be wise than famous.
...maybe


Name:  Student Contributor
Username:  
Subject:  Una and Clinging
Date:  2004-04-12 16:34:02
Message Id:  9288
Comments:
I think everyone, by default, is forced to cling to something. Una, to life. Ahab, to his monomania. From our discussion on Thursday I think it was pretty evident that I cling to humanity. That's why I don't think I could ever eat another human being. I cling to my 'humanity' more so than I cling to 'life'.

Even for those of us who claim they do not cling to anything, do they not cling to the belief that they do not cling to anything? It's like believing there are no truths...except that believing that there are no truths is a truth in of itself.

It bothers me that Una is so composed. I understand, in some way, she is fighting madness and consumed by her guilt, but I feel these emotions come second to Una's determination to forget. I'm finding it hard to relate to this perfectly, composed Una. Giles flings himself off the boat (I think it was intentional anyway) and Kit goes mad, but Una... Una is determined to forgive herself and make sure no one finds out so that she might be given a second chance to lead a normal life. It's not that I want Una to kill herself...I don't know what I want. But I'm hoping with 300 more pages to go I find a different Una – an Una I can see myself in.


Name:  Julia
Username:  jeddy@bmc
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 18:48:40
Message Id:  9290
Comments:
First of all in the light of destressing, I thought I would share (although I am positive that EVERYONE has seen it before) the list of things to do rather than stress about room draw (or for our purposes stres about anything). They are corny but good to remember i suppose:

*Do something nice for a senior (you will appreciate the same thing some day)
* Treat yourself to your favorite snack food. A little indulgence does wonders.
*Read a little of that book you've been wanting to read for pleasure but
haven't felt there's been time..
*Rent a favorite movie---preferably a comedy! Laughter is a cure all.
*Attend an event on campus to support other students
*Go off campus and explore someplace you've never been before
*Take a nap
*Re-connect with someone you've been meaning to write, call, email, etc......
*Read, write, sing, dance, draw, paint, play....move and be moved, inspire
and be inspired....
*If nothing else, sit down, kick back and breathe deeply. Repeat often.

---------------
And then I guess I should say something about our readings... well, I REALLY like Ahab's Wife. I feel like we are just watching and experiencing her growth and development (physically, emotionally, morally and otherwise) into a who she is in those first lines of the book, and that is sort of fascinating to watch unfold. I am completely engulfed in this book, and constantly wondering what is going to happen next or when she is going to marry so many times, so many ponderings.

On the subject of clinging... what i am reading in the book and in what I hear orah saying sounds like clinging might be equatable to "loving" (argh- whatever that really is). When Una is clinging to her two male friends she is feeling kinship and as Daniela said Una finds a compliment to herself in them (or so i believe)... i think she "loves" them. I think she loves the way they make her think and feel, while there is still a degree of fresh naive teenage romance, she is learning what the world and life have to offer, and loving it.

I don't think Una is a drifter at all (well rather not entirely). No, she does not kill herself or go mad with guilt nor when she loses her complimentary kin, but I don't think that means she still isn't clinging to something. I hear others saying she is clinging to life, I like that. I too think she is clinging to life, and in doing so she embraces others who live and exhibit/experience the beauty of life, but she doesn't allow dispair to drag her away from continuing her own experiences... there is something about this that I am admiring I think because it feels like she doesn't agonize or dwell for very long on hardship (yet she carries an impression of everything she has lost or gone through with her).

I may be giving Una too much credit here(romanticizing it a bit), or perhaps even not enough, I don't know but something tells me I am going to be regret some of this later.


Name:  orah
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  maybe a conversation starter ...
Date:  2004-04-12 21:28:39
Message Id:  9298
Comments:
so ...
i'm curious ...
are there people in your lives who hold you together ?
or do you hold your own self together ?
does your being depend on anyone ?
and what would you do if that person, or one of those people was taken away? or left?
would you go mad like kit?
or ...
you tell me. i'm not asking for specific people ... just curious what you have done or what you think you would do ...
Name:  Kat
Username:  kmccormi@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  smear
Date:  2004-04-12 21:33:53
Message Id:  9299
Comments:
and as I stand on this axis of time- manipulate it, like a door, swinging on its hinge- the land and sea distiction blurs, the tide moves mountians.

And what if we all must have then taken our own calf and foot, as Mary said, to roast and live off of? Is our consumption of self so different than the calf-consuming act of Moby Dick? And since comsumption of flesh apparently produces consuming obsessions, could the monomania resulting from self-cannibalistic acts turn anywhere but inward?

And if this were so, what mask would we see? what would we see beyond it?


Name:  mary
Username:  mferrell@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Una
Date:  2004-04-12 21:49:41
Message Id:  9300
Comments:
I am thinking about how Diane expressed last week that she thought Una was "fluffy". I can imagine why. She does behave "old-fashioned feminine" throughout the story. "Fluffy" women just plain old contribute to giving women a silly image. This kind of woman used to make me edgy more so than it does today. Basically, I think it threatens me less because there are so many more strong independent women than there ever were in the 70s. (Although the sex-driven images constantly put forth by the mass media is a bit spooky). Now, unless it affects me close up, I tend to not get edgy and rather see fluffy women as a product of the times, with many other dimensions worth appreciating. But Una, I do not think she is fluffy at all when she opens the story. I fell in love with her in the second line of the book.

"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last. Yet, looking up into the clouds---I conjure him there: his gray-white hair....... etc."

With these two sentences combined she is saying—Captain Ahab was not my only love, but, yet, I am seeing his beautiful image in the clouds. She is not afraid of giving him height according to her appreciation of his nature. To me this is a sign of her ascendance to a more evolved female, the kind that is so assured of herself that she can give praise to men. Moreover, this is not a fluffy woman because she is a woman, who loves (many) and lets go when change beckons her to do so. She does not cling to men, not even to life. I think my appreciation of her in this instance is because of my age and my experiences of loving and letting go. It's not something that people do easily. It takes strength that I think is highly commendable. There are many people that lack it.

In the beginning of the book, when she was threatened in childbirth, she did not make many moves to preserve her life or her babies. At this point of the story, I wondered why she did not behave strongly. But as I came to better know Una, I feel that this was because of the many things in her life that made her despair. Earlier in her life, when Captain Frye lay down huddled in the boat during desperate times, Una looked at him as if he were a coward. This was the Una who had strength and determination. When she laid freezing to death bearing a child, this was the Una that was weakened and hopeless.Her shadow had arisen to the surface. I witness her shadow character throughout the book, such as when she marries Ahab, she seems to be marrying her father's monomaniacal spirit. She seems to be making peace with her father's spirit in a more successful setting.

She starts her story, referring to the men in her life and continues with the traditional female behaviors, which is historically determined but she ventures into her independence throughout.

I am enjoying this book very much. There are constantly in depth ideas to post about. I definitely think this book can stand on its own. More to come.


Name:  
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 22:32:08
Message Id:  9302
Comments:
I just thought this would be interesting...we have been saying that Ahab's Wife isn't funny, and Moby Dick is. Well, I never thought Moby Dick was funny, and until recently I would agree that Ahab's Wife wasn't either. But I found some things that made me laugh!
"The Indian woman passed through the lobby...Behind her swept the world-I mean Rebekkah Swain."-p141
this is the funniest though:
"'And some people believe' Kit put in, 'that if you eat cucumbers, your nose will grow long. Or other parts.'
'What parts?' Frannie asked.
'Your feet,' Aunt said."-p93
I also thought this was amusing:
"It is not her rod and her staff that comfort her-indeed, she carries no such implements-it is her clothes that comfort the female pilgrim."-p126
Name:  Heather Davis
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 22:32:47
Message Id:  9303
Comments:
the last one is me
Name:  Mary
Username:  mferrell@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  Self and Others
Date:  2004-04-12 23:12:47
Message Id:  9306
Comments:
Orah

After thinking thru your queries, about self and others and the affects of relationship on self:

In my experience, romantic story-book true love came and went twice and I have sustained self and even grew in its presence and its departure.

But there was a time when madness threatened to fracture me. My son developed schizophrenia two years ago, at age 17 and for a while there it seemed like I lost him completely, even though his body was alive, he was not there.These were times when I felt so low that life became a fog of pain and sadness that permeated even my occasional laughter. It was like I, like he, was also not present in my body. I often thought how I would like to just lie down and let go of control. Lose myself to ???????

Thanks be, he is somewhat back (even somewhat is wonderful) and there is hope for more of him to come back. The pain and sadness are multitudes less. I continue to still be a somewhat fractured self. It seems like I am very dependent on him for my sense of self; like the love is so strong that what happens to him happens to me. I've never experienced anything like it before. I think it has to do with the sharing of extreme pain or extreme happiness between loved ones.

Humans are so resilient (to a certain extent). I think the effect of loss of relationship on one's self depends on the depth and degree of loss and the time available for healing.

I pray for the people suffering too much loss due to war and famine and devastation around the world.


Name:  Patty
Username:  ppalermo
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-12 23:20:15
Message Id:  9307
Comments:
I have been thinking alot about the passages in Ahab's Wife where the captain kills himself immediately upon hearing that his son has been chosen to die in order to provide the rest with sustinance. I found it interesting to think about the fates that awaited the characters in Moby Dick and the fates that awaited those in Ahab's Wife. For instance. The young boy replies, "It is as good a fate as any," upon hearing the news that he was chosen to die. I feel as if this is very much meant to shadow the feelings of the men aboard the Pequod through out there entire voyage. Ishmael seems to suggest this quite often. I know it seems simple, but it's actually really fascinating to me that they would see all fates as "equal." I believe that this is what that particular scene was trying to ask the reader to look into within themselves; are all fates "as good a fate as any." In the end of that scene, both the boy and the captain die. This seems to beg the question, "Shouldn't the father have just let his son accept his death, it was comming anyway." It seems to suggest this inescapable fate, which I think is another theme that was played with alot in Moby Dick. The fact that both the boy and the captain die seems very simbolic of this inescapable fate, although it may have just been a simple close-up on the touched upon canniblism in Moby-Dick. I just feel that I was finally given a peice in Ahab's Wife, that would finally explain why all those men in Moby Dick allowed themselves to die when they clearly saw it comming. It was "as good a fate as any." It also occured to me that in both novels we have been given very suicidal captains, and although for very obviously seperate modivations, I was wondering what this might mean about the author's interpritations of the nature of these types of voyages? Is this type of exploration suicidal. Do the author's believe that all fates are equal?
Name:  katherine
Username:  kpioli@brynmawr
Subject:  many responses
Date:  2004-04-13 00:18:18
Message Id:  9309
Comments:
Hm, I think that this posting will be a collection of responses to other postings.
To start with, Diane said that, "The author [of Ahab's Wife] has raped Moby-Dick, leaving it somewhat broken in my mind. " That statement really claims something, something brutal. She seems to say that Naslund sucked all of the obvious bits, the characters and such, out of MD but didn't stay true to their purpose and character. As if Naslund wrote a cheaper form of MD, leaving all of the beauty and wildness in a pile of ash. I too feel that Ahab's Wife lacks some sort of the strange complexity found in Moby Dick. I feel sometimes as if the story is too linear, too plot driven, and not thoughtful enough. It doesn't stop to ask the deep questions that we muddle through in MD. I don't think that this, however, "rapes" the original Moby Dick. I do sometimes feel that when compairing the two texts, the phylosophy and life questions asked in Ahab's Wife lay in the shadow of the emence problems tackled by MD. In fact, AW does not leave MD broken, perhaps it holds the text up as a far more intellectual piece of work. Still, I can see what you are trying to get at, in some ways AW is not up to par with MD. I also have to say that even though AW lacks the major phylosophical slant, I don't really miss wading though all of that think-stuff.

Una is tricky. I can't decide if she is "fluffy" or not. She tries to be radical and to unsex herself and play around with gender roles. that is certainly not "fluffy" stuff. This side of her excites me. I love seeing women who can prove that a "man's task" is not really a man's task at all, but a person's task and anyone who is up to the challenge can be succesful. like sailing on a whaling ship and wearing trowsers is a man's job or a boys job, but it's not cause Una can do it too. then again, she seems to do things half way. she is only another man on the ship part of the time, she becomes a fluffy female again the moment she is in the presence of- and especially when confronted by- Giles and Kit. suddenly when the truth of her womanness is known she can no longer be this unsexed radical person. suddenly she wants to love and mediate and cuddle instead of climb rigging and kill whales. the men around her reveal her fluffy side, and I wish that they did not, because i like the other una better. I like the trowser una, not the cry-because-i-want-to-be-a-good-wife-for-my-mad-husband Una.

finally, in response to Orah, As of now I think that I hold myself together fairly well. even though my family and i now communicate long distance they are a part of the glue of my life, as are my friends that i left behind at home and the friends that I have here. even though I love them and love being around them, and though they all help to hold me together I don't think that I would come completely undone without them. maybe for a while, but i could pull myself through. I can very easily see myself, however, finding someone someday who provides a very neccesary adheasive in my life and possibly coming undone if i lost that- though maybe not to kit's extremity.

also, thanks to Mary for sharing her personal story.


Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  to mary:
Date:  2004-04-13 07:21:07
Message Id:  9322
Comments:
i think your story is so ... inspirational ... even more so than una's story because it's a story of such extreeme struggle ... while una looses giles she immediatly gets over him to care for kit ... and when kit goes mad and leaves she immediatly gets over it for ahab. she does not hold onto those she loves at all... that is told in the first line of the book, her identity is based on resiliance. but, your story seems to show a deeper ...something ... your love seems so much greater than una's ... and so, back to ishmael's learning: do we go through life without holding on becuase it is safer for us? or is there a point when we lose ourselves rather than let go of someone ? is it ever appropriote to go mad ? or not live ?
Name:  orah
Username:  ominder
Subject:  
Date:  2004-04-13 07:26:28
Message Id:  9323
Comments:
IS it ever okay to be ahab and "wage an honest battle with the deep (478)" because it's take something from you that you REFUSE live without ?
Name:  em
Username:  emadsen@brynmawr.edu
Subject:  mary oliver
Date:  2004-04-13 08:22:42
Message Id:  9326
Comments:
in response to orah's question, mary oliver says,
"To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."

i love mary oliver and i love this quote and its wisdom. but i am not there yet. in response to orah's question i say, yes, yes i would wage an honest battle with the deep because i have not learned that lesson of loving and losing yet. i have not yet lived enough and loved enough for that.


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