Saturday, 11 April 2009

A Number of Things

1) I had planned on turning in a paper yesterday. I have an introductory paragraph written. Marvellous. I also know it won't be finished today, as I need to go to bed early. Why? See next entry.

2) I am going to both services at church tomorrow; Easter comes with baptisms at Bethel, and I have a Navs friend getting baptised in each service. So I'll be there for three and a half hours tomorrow morning, and I'll get the same service twice. This will be an opportunity to see if they remain consistent throughout. Mwahahahahahaha! Actually, it'll be an opportunity to support my friends and fellow Navigators.

3) As a going-away present, the Navigators staff have given me a book called Invitation to the Jesus Life: Experiments in Christlikeness. You know, these presses need to work on their titles. That's not a title that I would just pick off of a shelf. Anyway, the chapter I'm on is about attentive listening, and it comes with optional activities at the back of the book; you can pick and choose and see if you want to try some of them out. They include: "Chastity: Focus your eyes on someone you find attractive and ask God, What does this person need from you, O God, and how do you want to use me in his or her life? How might I bless him or her?"; "Secrecy: Instead of expressing your opinion about something just because the topic comes up, inquire further about what the other person thinks"; "Silence: When someone speaks to you, practice the situational discipline of silencing your mind. As the person speaks, don't think about what you want to reply"; "Submission: When listening to someone, look only at the person instead of looking around or behind the person. Enjoy keeping your gaze intent on the speaker"; "Submission: Listen to someone who is not interesting to you and pray for that person."
I've selected these to show and discuss for several reasons. The first, "Chastity," is one I just found funny. The juxtaposition of "Chastity" and "Focus your eyes on someone you find attractive" is quite amusing: so, in order to be chaste, you want me to check a girl out? Wow, being chaste is easier than I thought! If you know me, you'll also know that the "Secrecy" and "Silence" ones will be difficult for me. That not thinking about your reply thing will be especially difficult, considering that I train listening and formulating responses simultaneously in seminar all the time. And then the first "Submission" one. I don't intend to do it at all, ever. What the author is asking us to do is called "staring," and it freaks people out. This is not to say, look at the floor, but it's creepy to never break eye contact. At least, I freak out if other people never stop staring at me when I'm talking. I get really uncomfortable. And then the final submission. I actual do this from time to time anyway, but I could work better at visibly listening when I don't care. I usually am listening, but I suppose they can't tell that if I'm also playing with paperclips or staring at my computer screen.

4) I have noticed some interesting things working on my essay...
a) Mercutio is wonderfully anti-Petrarchan. Background: Petrarch was an Italian poet who invented the sonnet. Some guys, namely Wyatt and Surrey, translated Petrarch's sonnets into English and introduced the form into our language. Printers and an aristocrat named Sir Philip Sidney more strictly formalized the sonnet (since Italian doesn't have metre) into one of the forms we're familiar with today. Content-wise, these guys talked about how pretty and virtuous the girl is, how nice her hair is, her eyes, her lips and cheeks and teeth and forehead. They occasionally made forays down to her hands and her breast, though notice that they're more likely talking about the section of skin that would appear above a Renaissance lady's corset or whatever, and also her heart in her "breast." There was a different sense of the word. And then, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio wonderfully explains what these sonneteers are actually about: "I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes, By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip, By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, And the demesnes that there adjacent lie...My invocation Is fair and honest. In his mistress' name, I conjure only but to raise him up." Ostensibly Mercutio is talking about rousing--awakening--Romeo, but arousing Romeo is probably on the agenda as well. OF COURSE the sonneteers were thinking of things other than those--I was thinking lips, cheeks, hair, but those all have multiple meanings, don't they? Get your minds out of the gutter, people. OK, of course the sonneteers were thinking about things other than her eyes, and they were very appearance-focused, so I think Mercutio (and Shakespeare through Mercutio) is spot on in pointing out the transparency of their propriety. This is not to say that sonneteers have no place being proper, or that Astrophil doesn't quite legitimately think Stella has pretty eyes. I'm just saying that he also checked her out from behind when he got the chance, even if he didn't write about it.
b) Rosalind says in As You Like It, "If with myself I hold intelligence/ Or have acquaintance with mine own desires,/ If that I do not dream or be not frantic/ As I trust I am not..." Do you know what my mind went to? Comic books. And not just comic books that I have read. Oh, no. See, I have read very few comic books in my life. No, I thought about comic books I have read about. Isn't that excellent? Not only am I a nerd, I'm an atypical one at that.
c) On a theoretical level, I found this quotation from Sidney's Apology interesting: "Aristotle saith, those things which in themselves are horrible, as cruel battles, unnatural monsters, are made in poetical imitation delightful." That's something to consider seriously. How well does moralizing work when the subject of your disgust becomes delightful in your representation of it?
d) I have written in the margins, "The murals in the Mac-Correy food court are pastoral. Huh." Under pastoral, I wrote "(idealized)"; under "court" I then wrote, "Haha. Punny."

5) I spent way too much time last night reading Penny Arcade back issues. Way too much time.

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