Max's Blog
Monday, December 01, 2003
  I feel like I haven't used the blog for its therapeutic effects as much as I should have this semester. These therapeutic effects being that I can vent my thoughts on the page without having to endure the feeling of disgust which comes over me when I see my illegible writing. Also, I feel as though my ability to find the right word in English is decreasing due to my study of other languages. As my knowledge of German and Spanish grows, so does my ability to write in English decrease. My creativity with languages is too diverted to be able to adequately suffice in one. English, my mother tongue, the most important language I am able to speak, seems to be getting the short end of the deal. Maybe I need to read more. 
  In response to Brian's blog entry on Queens, NYC.....

I feel like one can see Brian through his environment. He fits the bill on wearing loose clothing, baseball caps, headbands, etcetera and seems well versed in the Hip-hop jargon. I find it interesting that he only knows the recent history of Queens in terms of Hip-hop, such facts as where 50 Cent, LL Cool J, and other important figures in the genre are from. It strikes me that his understanding of his home environment is only current; the past has little effect on the viewing of Queens. The understanding of the past in terms of a place is very important to understanding what has shaped that area, and to some extent how that area has shaped you. I look at my childhood in North Carolina and I see the way Greensboro had an effect on me. I can see the last remnants of racism that can still be seen in the buildings and the way the area is set up. Dudley High School, on the "bad side of the tracks" to me, is a crumbling edifice, which city officials have deemed too "old" and "incapable of renovating", while Grimsley High School has just received a million dollar phone system and a new library. Dudley was obviously the black school, while Grimsley was the white school. I noticed this, but did not take note of it. These many little things have shaped my view of and are present in my character and personality. Brian's environment has definitely shaped him. Maybe, the present is much more of a changing force in the city. Apparently, everything moves much faster and the older traces of the past are ignored. As a southener, I guess I have a laid-back, more lackadaisical approach, born of intolerable humidity and upper 90s temperatures. I am not meaning to critize in any way Brian's past experience with his boro of NYC, but my experience has been very (possibly vastly) different. The one thing the south did not impart on me, is a narrowness of mind or a quickness of judgement. I remain open to new ways and peoples.  
Thursday, November 20, 2003
  Jimmy’s Wheels

My character’s name is James, but he goes by Jimmy. He is sort of a rough character with a lot of brawn, a scruffy face, and a lip that hangs down tremendously, probably born of the use of Kodak, or dipping tobacco. He drives an ’87 Chevy Astro, one of those boxy vans with two lines, one red and one white, tracing both sides of it. The car itself is gray and has innumerable small body imperfections. Inside, rap music bumping on almost burnt out old speakers, Jimmy sits, perched in his seat, leaning forward over the steering wheel. In the bottom of the passenger seat, where the passenger’s feet will go, lie over 50 empty cigarette packs. The car in general is very messy with an assortment of brand cigarettes, and blunt roaches, sticking out of the ashtray. The car is coated in a thick layer of dust, except the driver’s seat, and whenever he throws anything in the back, he is forced to open all the windows to avoid asphyxiating from the onslaught of dust particles. Jimmy drives his car to and from work and smokes at least three cigarettes each way. There is little in the back of the car, except one broken seat, and some boxes filled with forgotten possessions. There is one lone bumper sticker on the back window, which says in bold letters: Bush Cheney 2002. When questioned about this, he states emphatically, “Hell Yeah.”
 
  Ideal Reader

I am not sure I can envision an ideal reader. I hope the readers of my stories (if there are to be any readers, I may be like Kafka and not let anyone read anything) are understanding and who, hopefully, are drawn to the story and its conflict. Obviously, some readers will like the story and others won’t, all I want is an acknowledgment that the story has its merits and creates some kind of interest or emotion. I guess the ideal reader could be myself, because I have the power to change what I don’t like and improve on the piece. I don’t become offended by what I myself am saying, or if I do then it is there for some reason or purpose for this offense. Really, my ideal reader is anyone who appreciates reading. Obviously, if a person who doesn’t like reading reads one of my stories, then they probably won’t appreciate the story. I don’t really speak to a specific audience when I write, so the real ideal reader is someone who likes reading and is intelligent.
 
  Julie Orringer Reading

Julie looked to me like a demure Jewish girl, just as in her story, though she exhibited a depth of writing and meaning that made me think back upon my first assessment. I thought the story was gripping, though it was slightly long and took a while to develop. This reading made me question my own ideas about story writing. First, my stories never take too long to develop. They are usually short and stocky and seem to come to a close very quickly. I need to break my intrinsic dislike of having to write longer pieces, and just throw myself at the assignment and write. Second, Julie didn’t seem to use incredibly advanced vocabulary or incredibly unique images, yet she was able to fully draw my attention to her story and captivate me. This made me realize, a realization I should have come to long ago, that one doesn’t have to use phenomenal vocabulary or incredibly vivid images to convey meaning and intrigue the reader. Just look at Ernest Hemingway. This reading was productive for me. It gave me an idea that success is not based on how advanced your vocabulary is or how well you can make comparisons, but how you invoke emotions in the reader and how you build your stories. She gave me more confidence in my own writings. And wow, what an introduction.
 
  yessss...... so I am at the library where my blog, oddly enough, works. So here are some forgotten blog entries from long ago. 
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
  Sorry for the delay in posting my blog, but my ancient piece of constructed machinery was being ornery
 
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
  As a child growing up in Greensboro, NC (a mid sized city), I lived in a world within a world, though I didn't know it at the time. My house and my family constituted one world, a world of seemingly neverending intellectual stimulation. My parents are both from Europe and both have Ph. D.s in languages, my father in Italian and my mother in German. Our house contains no television, to the suprise of all my friends. The house also holds at least 1000 books of different natures. Consequently, I was brought up voraciously reading. The other world is the outside. There, I would see God billboards in English and Spanish, the vestiges of racism (now more economical character), among other features of a city in the south. North Carolina, in general, though, has been considered one of the more forward-thinking states of the South. There are large concentrations of very intelligent people clustered around the acclaimed universites, Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and this area, the Research Triangle (with Raleigh, the capital), is probably the best place to live in North Carolina. Greensboro is located in the Triad (Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem) and is mainly known for Tobacco and furniture. I feel like I have painted a bad picture of Greensboro thus far, which isn't entirely true. The city has a laid back, lackadaisical aspect to it, characteristic of Southern culture, which I miss living in the North. Also, growing up there, I have come to know it very well, and I quite like being there. In addition, the deepest and important friendships that I have are with people in Greensboro.
At a very impressionable point in my life, I was given
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which profoundly influenced me. I began to notice the remnants of racism around me and, on a trip to the Sithsonian in Washington, I saw the Greensboro Sit-in stools. These things motivated me to continue reading African-American literature, which I still do, and changed my outlook on diversity. Obviously, the place I grew up shaped me to some extent. I appreciate Greensboro for its good qualities, but I only have to walk a block from my house or drive two minutes east to see the bad things. In the end, you can't choose where you are from. You are a product of your environment and you must only open your eyes to see it merits and faults.  
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
  I primarily enjoy prose much more than poetry. I am unsure of the reason for this bias, perhaps due to the fact that I was raised reading novel after novel, fiction or nonfiction. I have little experience with reading or writing poetry and it is much more difficult to write for me. I enjoy the more lyrical aspect and the cleverness it takes to write intelligent rhyming poetry, though it is very difficult. The verse form that I have become most familiar with is the Limerick. In essence I enjoy the writing of prose though I respect the writing of poetry. As I reflect upon it, I should write more poetry. It is an aspect that I need to improve upon. I will leave you with my favorite poem, a limerick.


The limerick peculiar to English,
is a verse form that's hard to extinguish
Once Congress in session
decreed its suppresion
but everyone got around it by making the last line without rhyme or meter.  
  I particularly enjoyed the piece "Prayer against the experts and their ways" by Paul Maliszewski. He seems to reject the concept of the "objective correlative", if I understand the term correctly. Emotions and abstract thoughts cannot be broken into pie graphs and statistics. Order breeds more order. Yet disorder plays a vital role in life. In the end, disorder will prevail. He gives the call to fight against this new order; to retain our humanity. Humanity lies in disorder and imperfections. I will heed the call.  
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
  The pleasures held in mysteries are brought out by the mind's intrinsic curiousity. The mind has a will to find out. When one is reading a mystery novel, you want to continue reading because the plot and characters have unlocked the mind's curiousity. Mystery is found in every facet of life. People find their mysteries in science and math. For me, the pleasures of mysteries lie in their power to motivate. They entrance you and do not let you go until the mystery is resolved or closed. This makes mysteries attractive. Mysteriousness surrounds everything. Everything that I do not know is a mystery; they await my endeavour to discover the meaning behind them. On this day, especially, I find it very mysterious how actors and others with little or no political background can win elections and attain places of power.  
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
  Love in itself is always a story, occasionally an epic saga. The traditional love story involves a man and a woman who fall in love and the love story details this process. Love stories, in my opinion, should not have to follow this traditional path. Love stories could really be about anything that involves a deep and affectionate relationship between two things. These things can also be inanimate, or could possibly be abstract. For instance, the love story between Joe Schmoe and ice cream could be touching. Or the intense relationship between two brothers could also be a love story to some extent. I would be hard pressed to say that every story involves some kind of love. Most stories usually incorporate love into the story somehow but a detective novel usually doesn't focus on Love. Love stories are told or written to illustrate the glory of this incredible emotion, yet they remain vastly inferior to the actual emotion when experienced for oneself.  
English 280

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