Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Looking through my archive, I see that I have not given you all an update of my life since 25 February. My apologies; I assure you that I have been quite busy. If you take a look at that last 7 Quick Takes, you'll see that I bought some journals, which means that I actually have a record of what happened in the meantime. Fancy that. Let's dive in.

1. I have become a sidesperson and a liturgical assistant-in-training at my church. I am a member of the church for real. In the instance of the latter, I get to wear an alb again. Regular readers will know that this pleases me. What's even more exciting is that my church does not have albs big enough for me, so I get to wear the priest's spare clergy alb. One of the unexpected privileges of being a liturgical assistant-in-training is that I am sometimes asked to serve the priest the Eucharist.

2. I gave up tea for Lent. It was difficult but I survived. I also planned to write a sonnet each week; I only got two written. Not so good. If you want to see someone who succeeded at a more daunting sonnet Lenten devotion, go visit Miss Lazarus' site.

3. I picked up a new webcomic, Order of the Stick. I'm no table-top RPG player but I still find it delightful. Genre-savviness makes me swoon, what can I say?

4. I went to a Contemplative Prayer service or two in the elapsed time. In the most interesting I was introduced to the Anglican Rosary. I am a fan; I wish I had one. I am not sure what makes it different from a Catholic Rosary.

5. For class I have read a number of interesting works, some new to me and some familiar: "Death and the Compass" by Borges, The Tempest by Shakespeare (as well as other things by him, but that's in my opinion the most interesting of them), Waiting for Godot by Beckett, a host of stuff on reported speech, including an article by one Wooffitt on mediums reporting (supposedly) the speech of spirits.

6. I have officially (for myself, at least) moved towards Universalism. I'm aware that it's not fully worked out, but I consider the problems with Arminianism and Calvinism more insurmountable than those of Universalism. This move was entirely instigated by the series over at Dr. Richard Beck's blog.

7. I have started running. Twice a week, that is, in the morning, with a friend of mine. Athleticism is such a strange concept for me yet I've fallen into this routine easily enough. The trick is, will I continue over the summer?

8. I saw a Green College production of The Importance of Being Earnest. If you can believe it, I'd never seen nor read it before. I quite enjoyed it.

9. I also attended the EndNotes conference, the UBC English Department annual graduate conference. This year's theme was "Beyond the Book." I heard friends and colleagues give papers on how the Twilight franchise has impacted the community of Forks, Washington; how Canadian history and archive is explored in the comics of Seth; how V's mask relates to reader identification and the genre conventions of melodrama (theatre) in V for Vendetta (the graphic novel); how narrative pornography has begun to rise with Pirates and what this has to do with the potential for feminist pornography (that one was a bit controversial, you can imagine); how Girl Talk enacts the Death of the Author; and how intertextuality and copyright operate in the Arthurian legend of Swamp Thing #87, in which Merlin draws Swamp Thing back in time to Camelot to defend the kingdom against Mordred. It was an exultation of grad student nerdiness and I loved it.

10. I wrote two papers. One concerns a particular type of self-reporting speech which I examine in detail in order to learn more about self-reporting. The other concerns the constitution and perversion of the ideal male military body through its parodic inversion in the Coventry and Gloucestershire muster scenes of 1 and 2 Henry IV respectively. (Those are Shakespeare plays, in case you are not fully read up on your early modern drama.) The process of researching, writing, and editing was, of course, harrowing.

11. Immediately after submitting my papers I graded about 50 student essays (each of my 25 students had to write two essays for their final exam, as well as do an identify-and-state-the-significance-of section) and calibrate my final grades for submission. I did this perforce over the Easter weekend, which I found quite distasteful. During this process, I crashed a little bit.

12. For these essays, I read papers and books on the early modern English constitution of masculinty and on the dynamics of everyday speech. For the former, may I suggest Gary Spear's article "Shakespeare's "Manly" Parts: Masculinity and Effeminacy in Troilus and Cressida" and Patricia Cahill's Unto the Breach; for the latter, may I recommend Goffman's Forms of Talk. (His Frame Analysis is also interesting and was written earlier, so perhaps you should skim it first. Both are tomes.)

13. I have given substantial thought to some things other than my papers during this time, among which has been what friendship is and what sorts of requirements come with it. Altruism has always been important to me but certain interpersonal issues seem different when framed by general ideas of altruism than when framed in a context of friendship. As I make and solidify new friendships here in a new city, these question gain some immediacy.

14. Some time in the midst of the above, I finished One of Us, which I wrote on before. I'd like to share another excerpt, one I thought worthy of copying out in my journal: "But what if we understood such twins as people who are no more broken than anyone else? What if we stopped thinking of biological anomalies as the sworn enemies of humanity, and started recognizing their full social nature, perhaps even their social potential? In the long run, we can do more than try to guarantee every child a 'normal' body. We can try to guarantee a just world. If you take seriously what conjoined people have said about their bodies and their lives, you realize they are still experiencing what Mary Wollstonecraft felt in the late eighteenth century: 'It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.' Let us now stop referring to children who undergo massive normalizations as 'real fighters,' and start recognizing that we are the ones who construct what they are fighting against." [emphasis mine]

Now I'm free; I'm very tired at the moment, but I'm loose in the world again. And, who'da thunk it, but it's spring! (Actually, it's been spring here for months now. Vancouver is like that.)


Leah said...

Yowza, that's a pretty full (and awesome) plate. I just have to chime in to say I also love Order of the Stick, and that I found Beck's series to be fairly persuasive (with my limited, atheist knowledge of the matter).

Christian H said...

Leah, I do remember you recommending it once. It was either a logic-related post or your webcomics line-up. Anyway, you linked to the Test of Mind or whatever it was called. I didn't pick it up then, however; what finally did it was a link someone had posted to my brother's Facebook. After two bring spells with the characters, I could hardly resist...

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