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Sunday, August 29, 2010

News Flash: Modern Fiction to Include a Snail as Lead Character!

     I’m not sure if it’s my easily distracted nature, or if “Mark on the Wall” was just a little difficult for me to read. I understood it, I “got” it, but I kept having to redirect myself to the text. It was hard for me to pay attention while reading. I don’t know if it’s the lack of plot, or if I kept wondering back to how can I make this a page in my altered book. Three things in the story piqued my interest: 1. her use of ellipses, 2. her concern of health, and 3. “Whitaker’s Table of Precedency.”

     Her use of ellipses characterizes wondering thoughts. The thoughts go somewhere, but not anywhere we need to know. Perhaps they just wonder away somewhere that words don’t have a use, so she can’t share that part of the memory with her reader. And maybe it’s just a typical aspect of thoughts; they just trail off without a definite end and just jump to a new, unassociated thought.

     Twice concern for health popped up. The first instance was on page 157: “And the less we honour them as our superstitions dwindle and our repsect for beauty and health of mind increases. . . .” She specifically designates the health of the mind, a topic that weighs heavily on her. The second instant on page 158 is less definitive: “I understand Nature’s game—her prompting to take action as a way of ending any thought that threatens to excite or to pain.” That infers that her caretakers through the years have kept her from situations that might threaten her mental health. She was taken away from London, was she not?

     Lastly, I wondered, “Just what the heck is Whitaker’s Table of Precedency?” I give thanks for Google; if I were Polly Purebred, Google search engine would be my Underdog because it always comes to my rescue. Apparently, it is a record of tradition, convention, and a list society’s heirachy. It was a rulebook on how certain people in certain classes should act in formal situations. Her main reason to include this was to point out how many traditions and conventions died after the war.

     Although I didn’t list it, I also found the first line interesting in that it informs us that this is not a present memory; this is a memory from the past, but she remembers such detail. I might remember a one line thought from a week ago, but not a whole short-story worth of thoughts, much less thoughts about a spot on a wall. Is this her re-living a thought or perhaps creating a memory for artistic reasons.

     Now, moving to her essay “Modern Fiction,” we learn that there is nothing materialistic in “Mark on the Wall.” She has accomplished what this essay entices writers to do. She goes on to categorize some writers she thinks as materialistic writers. I think she would be satisfied, and maybe even happy, to find that her idea of stream-of-conciousness writing has made its way into films. I saw a British film Cashback that mimics the stream of conciousness. I don’t believe a film could be based entirely on thought, but this one comes close. As I liked the beginning of her memoir because of the beautiful images she created, I enjoyed this movie because I felt the main character’s idea of beauty.

     I’ll make my comments short for Goldman’s article on Woolf’s fiction. One line really stood out to me: “People should not leave looking-glasses hanging in their rooms” (CSF 225). It brings back the image of her looking into a mirror as a child and feeling shame. So, here’s another thing for which I’ll have to keep an eye out – looking-glasses.


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