Monday, 4 February 2008

Journal Series: Introduction

The Lives of Amphibians and Chimaeras:
Journals in Literary Theory
In the course of writing these journals, I have chosen as a universal theme amphibiousness, including hybridity, duality, contradiction, conjoining, and assorted elements and ideas that spin off of these. I use a variety of symbols and make a variety of allusions, and this has also become an unofficial theme--the use of hopefully unexpected and uncomfortable comparisons to illustrate my point and challenge common-place conceptions. I also briefly challenge the assumptions that these symbols must only be symbols.
Though my journals were not intended to follow any particular pattern and the early ones were not written to feed into later ones (with the exception of #9 into #10), I have since traced a course of connection and thought through them, outlined here.
Journal #1, 'A Response to Sir Philip Sidney's Sonnet 45', though not on the topic of amphibiousness, establishes that art has some relevance to life, and it also reveals my interest in Renaissance poetry--ideas seen again in Journal #9. Journal #2, 'An Analysis of "True" and "False" Wit, and Amphibiousness,' privileges amphibiousness, the ability to thrive in both land and water, and thus begins the developing theme. Journal #4, 'Metaphysical Poets and the Chimaeras of Perspective', builds off of the effectivenes of mixtures by examining how metaphysical conceits are more successful than 'simple' metaphors, like similes. Journal #5, 'Retro-writing Origins in Light of Shklovsky', did not begin as a continuation of this theme, but ends so, in that the technique described works in two opposite and complimentary ways. Journal #6, 'The Paralyzing Grey', begins to explore the darker aspects of amphibiousness; drawing on the messy moral reality outlined in Journal #3, 'Dancing with the Devil: An Affront to Samuel Johnson', Journal #6 examines how living between two entities can lead to ostracism, confusion, and violence. Journal #7, 'The Land of No Man or Woman', examines hermaphroditism as something in 'the paralyzing grey' but also having the potential benefits of amphibious viewpoints. A similar track follows in Journal #8, 'Dual Selves and Berger's Women,' where Berger's observations on women's self-image are contorted to demonstrate the power of dualism. Journal #9, 'Sidney, Jameson, and Bakhtin: A Chimaeric Idea', tackles three literary theorists in a likely misguided attempt to reconcile their theories. This produces a problem, the solution to which is partially developed in the final Journal #10, 'Contraries Meet in One: Conjoined Twins as Symbols of Conflict Resolution.' Along the way, other topics, observations, and ideas develop alongside this master theme, but those are best left to fend for themselves...

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