UP Saga 6-8: She Can Smile! She Can Smile! She Can Smile!
NOTE September 9, 2012 20:18:
This was originally posted on my Multiply account.
I am nursing a fever as I write this, since my cat (whom both my sister and I are allergic to) just woke me up at 3AM. I realized I couldn’t breathe. Nasal drip resulting to clogged nose and sore throat. I had been experiencing something like this since a few weeks ago and only during and after my CAL class. Well, it would usually be a headache, but it’s the first time it actually progressed to full blown fever.
Yesterday afternoon, I was determined to mentally write my own fiction: I imagined I would try to heal my eternally angry professor by inhaling the energy of the trees and projecting this energy unto her. Joyce found me sitting prettily in one of the benches in front of Vargas Museum and I told her my “plan”.
This is where I saw the power of imagination. She was talking to a dissertation advisee on the phone when we entered the room and I envisioned myself being wrapped in green glowing energy, wrapping it around Joyce, too, and I proceeded to throw bits of that towards Dr. Tomoe’s direction. In my mind, the light was green because I needed to gather knowledge from her (as I mentioned many times before, the woman is brilliant) while healing — not blocking — her energy.
As soon as the class started, my head began to pound. Softly at first and it progressed to that dull ache that has now become a very familiar feeling whenever I enter her room. Joyce and I were surprised, however, when we saw her doing something we had never seen her do in the entire month we’ve been taking her classes: She actually smiled!
I had a bit of a problem understanding a certain part in my report about Laurence Lerner’s essay on History and Fiction — this bit about Friedrich Engels’ text disappearing — and I tried to express my idea by saying it reminded me of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris. How the cathedral of Notre Dame was already in shambles when he wrote it and how the city fixed it because the novel was attracting tourists. I didn’t know I was actually arriving at empirical validation. The idea of “truth”. She was surprisingly patient in telling me that she thought I was headed for the right direction, I just couldn’t articulate my thoughts. That was a shock because last week she was telling Joyce, who still wouldn’t admit that she was already a doctor and is taking this as a second PhD, “Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?”
The experience was exhilirating, to say the least. She’s actually very passionate about it. It seemed to Joyce that she was teaching a class of 20 instead of 2. I listened to her, in awe of how she was able to extract context cues from literary pieces. And we’re not talking about college-level subliminal messages. We’re talking about the actual process of philosophizing! I realized that my report started off on the wrong foot — the opening paragraph, my summary, was actually wrong — and that it ended with the correct answer. My ending paragraph negated the opening. I didn’t notice that.
Of course, I woke up with a fever after all the effort my imagination exerted yesterday. I feel as if my brain had gone through the fryer.
On History and Fiction
The relationship between history and fiction reminded me of the countless arguments about royalties, especially ones dealing with Marie Antoinette. As I wrote in my analysis:
The critic is willing to re-enact the historian’s thoughts to see how well these have been done. He only re-opens an old problem that a previous historian has deemed solved if new findings have arrived. Lady Antonia Fraser’s account of Marie Antoinette’s life, as a prime example, was touted to be one of the most balanced biographies by award-giving bodies like Enid McLeod Literary Prize. To come up with this “well-balanced” view, Lady Antonia Fraser had to build it up from many earlier biographies and literary pieces that revolved around the French Revolution.
I’m reminded of how a lot of bloggers attempt to grasp what is and isn’t true when Lerner points out, through the writings of other literary greats, that the past is both knowable and unknowable. We are looking at history through colored lenses and whatever it is that historians write are tainted by the culture they grew up in and are motivated by their ideologies.
le vraisemblable: acceptable-as-probable. According to Roland Barthes, what the public believes possible is the violent imposition of society that is based on a set of conventions, its pretentious take on what is natural and its role in constraining human thought. It is a device that conceals from us our inability to attain real knowledge of the extra-textual world. Literature should then cease to strive for mimesis and become semiosis.
Victor Hugo as a Visual Artist
One other thing I like about Victor Hugo, even though he’s more of a Romanticist rather than a Historian, was that there was a point in his life when he stopped writing and just drew. He never showed these drawings to the public but some of his contemporaries observed that had he pursued the visual arts, he would have surpassed those of his time. He was way ahead of his century and was one of the few who were into mixed media (even using coffee stains for effect).
I think I am nearing the point when I want to give writing a rest (my blogs are, unlike my formal papers, barely coherent anyway) and just concentrate on my visual artistry. Or computer programming. Being a multidisciplinary scholar — in my case, I am triangulating methods used by both my right and left brain hemispheres — can be straining sometimes.
I’m getting tired of thinking.