ENG-221 Scrapbook

Writer’s Memo

My writing process for this project was really more of my reading process. To fully comprehend what exactly I was going to write, I was forced to read and reread a lot of the coverage that I came across. I would read an article once all the way through to get the main idea of it. Then I would be forced to read it through again to specifically focus and pick out rhetorical strategies that I could identify in the pieces. Finally, I had to read them all over again sometimes more than once in order to recognize an overarching theme or goal that all of the coverage seemed to have in mind. Only at that point of realization was I able to start writing.

If I had more time and space I would have wanted to take a more in-depth look at the way the court proceedings were covered. A lot of that coverage was simply reporting, with cold hard news and little room for rhetoric influence. Therefore, I focused heavily on the coverage from Atlanta magazine. Magazines writers have much more room to stylize their work, whereas a newspaper has to stick to the straight and narrow. Also, with more time I would’ve liked to explore coverage of the offseason moves that the Braves made this winter. They are entirely a different topic in themselves but the moves brought emotions out of writers that I read. The rhetoric they used to analyze some of the trades were interesting, but had no place in this project.

Analyzing the Atlanta media’s rhetorical strategies in its coverage of the Braves’ move to Cobb County

On November 11th, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced that they would be abandoning the spot on the Southside of Atlanta that had been their home for 47 years to build a new stadium outside of I-285 in Cobb County. Atlanta’s media was faced with somewhat of a difficult topic to cover, as there were two very distinct sides to the story. Journalists had to represent the mindset of the sentimental die-hard baseball fans and the people of Cobb County. Immediately following the announcement, the Braves’ organization faced backlash from fans that didn’t want to see their team depart from its place practically in the shadow of the state’s capital building. Cobb County residents were also disgruntled by the news because they did not have much of a say as to whether or not they wanted to host the franchise. Four days after the Braves’ announcement on that Veteran’s Day, Atlanta magazine took advantage of the Kairotic moment by publishing two pieces from contributing writers that appeared next to each other on the website. One article was a commentary from a self-proclaimed lifelong Braves fan, and the other was a mirroring post from a Cobb County resident. Therefore, each one of the authors possessed the corresponding ethos that would allow them to accurately convey the commonplace values that their respective communities would emphasize.

The common reaction from loyal Braves fans was to be upset at the idea of the team leaving Atlanta for a suburb, more specifically Cobb, which is a traffic-infested area that many ITP’ers (inside-the-perimeter people) loathe. Florio qualifies as both an ITP’er and a lifetime Braves’ fan and that gives her the ability to invent the correct ethos to comment on not only the mourning of the city’s loss of its team, but also the knee-jerk reaction of blaming Cobb County. Right away she makes an effort to quell the contempt for Cobb’s inhabitants with her empathetic tone. However, she shifts into a discussion of the baseball community’s commonplace values, namely its attachment to history, “This stuff matters to baseball fans. We’re a sentimental bunch. I won’t expound on my own very emotional attachment to the confines of Turner Field because most people reading this have their own: a first playoff game as a kid, or a last outing with a grandparent—memories as golden in our minds as the wheat field in which Roy Hobbs plays catch with his son in The Natural. I couldn’t have been the only one reading the news on Monday morning who felt as if part of my past had been erased.” Florio powerfully connects herself to other baseball fans by calling on her readers to remember their own special moments. Florio understands her audience’s state of mind and creates more emotion by not attempting to reproduce her memories for others at all. She asks her audience to rely on their own memories, which is a strong rhetorical move. The article is a well constructed and balanced work that accomplishes its goal to calm upset Braves fans that might be taking out their anger on their northwestern neighbors.

On the other hand, Betsy Riley’s piece in defense of Cobb County comes off as much more inflammatory. Clearly written in response to Florio’s post, Riley takes advantage of her own Kairotic moment that was created when Florio calls Cobb County “uncool”. While Florio opens with words that are sympathetic with the Cobb County people, Riley starts off with heated words towards ITP’ers in defense of her home. The defensive maneuvers are not convincing, as evidenced by the number of comments that are found below the article. The portion that sparked the most debate was Riley’s declaration that their neighborhood high school was more diverse than, “your (ITP) hipster charter school.” The issue is that Riley presents an extrinsic proof but does not back it up with any sort of data and damages her argument by not even naming a specific “hipster charter school.” Florio was successful because she recognized the attitude of her audience and adjusted accordingly. Riley was more combatant than she should have been if she wanted to win over the readers that she was pitted against. The pair of Atlanta magazine articles was an intriguing display of debate during a Kairotic moment to win the sympathies of readers.

The story that developed in the meetings at the Cobb County Board of Commissioners in the weeks following the announcement is one that still is being covered today due to its controversial nature. Atlanta magazine sent a reporter to sit in on the meeting where the county’s Board of Commissioners would come to a vote on the budget to build the stadium. The budget included a plan to use $300 million of Cobb’s tax money. The writer, Tony Rehagen, indulges in enargeia in order to get the reader to understand the plight of the people of Cobb County, “Only one formality remained: The commissioners had to idle their bulldozers and steamrollers for one hour to sit through public commentary. To act like they were paying attention while businesspeople wearing navy Braves t-shirts over their button-downs and ties eagerly pledged their blind faith to their leaders, despite having only fifteen days since the surprise announcement of the deal to review the scant details. To act like they cared while the other half of the speakers scolded them for the opaqueness with which they’d handled things.” The writer describes the appearance of the people and the atmosphere of the meeting in general throughout the article in a manner that emotionally connects the reader to the people fighting for control over the destiny of their own hometown and tax money. The dissenters were left uninformed during the whole process and they reacted by taking action in court, accusing the Commissioners of illegally reallocating public park funds for the Braves’ stadium, which they do not feel can be defined as a public park.

This spring, there were even more articles breaking down how the Cobb County Board of Commissioners improperly handled the deal by committing the green space budget to acquiring the Atlanta Braves. However, one article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution at least attempted to ease the county’s pain by comparing their investment to the Arlington, Texas deal that brought the massively successful AT&T Cowboys super-stadium to its area. The comparison of AT&T Stadium to what will be called SunTrust Park is a brief historical proof that appeals to a person’s logic. The authors were Dan Klepal and Time Tucker. Klepal was very familiar with the timeline of the Braves’ move since he covered it from the start. They draw parallels between Cobb and Arlington and their respective relationship to Atlanta and Dallas. Cobb is just outside of Atlanta. Arlington is just outside of Dallas. The Cowboys distanced themselves from the city that is included in the organizations title and ended up finding great success. By framing the Cobb County transition in the historical context of the Dallas Cowboys relocation, the couple of writers build up hope that similar developments will occur in the county. They point out that Arlington got over the fact that the city took over 200 homes to build the stadium and insist that maybe Cobb County will have a similar change of heart along the way.

November 11th, 2013 was an emotionally volatile day regardless of whether or not you were a Cobb County resident or a Braves fan that wanted to see them remain in the city. The journalists covering the story had to process their own emotions and attachments to Turner Field, while also processing the financial and long-term implications that this move would have on both Atlanta and Cobb. The overall theme of each of these stories is coming to terms with the deal and accepting it, but not all of them share the same techniques or audiences. The authors utilize pathos, ethos, and logos in clever ways to empower their voices and make them heard.

Works Cited

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/commentary-the-core-problem-with-cobb/

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/commentary-dear-braves-fans-stop-taking-it-out-on-cobb/

http://www.atlantamagazine.com/news-culture-articles/cobb-steamrolls-ahead-with-vote/

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/another-attorney-files-brief-against-braves-bonds/nj5w5/

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local/braves-deal-angers-cobb-county-park-advocates/nkpbX/#63789fb7.3484522.735724

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-govt-politics/arlingtons-bet-on-sports-similar-to-cobbs/nkF5d/#afe3fcc6.3484522.735723

 

Hemingway’s Style

OYxki6xAt the conclusion of “Hills Like White Elephants”, I considered what operation the couple could possibly be arguing about. Even though Hemingway intentionally does not include any concrete details to guide the reader to any hard conclusions, one can make conjectures from the characters’ emotional responses in their dialogue. When the American man says, “I don’t want anybody but you. I don’t want anyone else” (214), my only hypothesis was that he wanted her to undergo a birth control procedure. However, when the man says, “They just let the air in and then it’s all perfectly natural” (212), my confidence in my conclusion becomes clouded. “The Sea Change” also employed the same style of creating confusion that makes Hemingway’s stories very open to interpretation. I read The Sun Also Rises in high school and I always thought that people enjoyed his just writing because it came in a concise and simple package. Only after going through these short stories have I realized that people enjoy Hemingway because his style leaves the plot to be discovered by the reader.

Now, I am very intrigued to find what we will discover through our digital humanities style of reading. Hemingway’s form of story telling is immune to the skimming reading style. One cannot just flip through the pages of his stories and come away with an understanding of the plot – let alone the themes – of his pieces. Reflecting on what I read, I compared his writing style to something I learned in a rhetoric writing class this semester called an enthymeme. An enthymeme is defined as an argument in which one premise is not explicitly stated. An example of an enthymeme is a bumper sticker. When a person reads a bumper sticker, he makes his own connections and reaches his own conclusion. That is how I see Hemingway’s writing and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I look forward to using our analytic software on the short stories to see if a computer can somehow make the same connections and conclusions that a human mind does when reading Hemingway.

House of Leaves – Conclusion

Longleat Maze by fluteflute
Longleat Maze by fluteflute

House of Leaves has an innumerable amount of characteristics to it that make it a difficult read. Out of all the things that posed the most issues for me in this experimental novel, Johnny’s convoluted diary entries that come out of chronological order gave me the most trouble. They weave in and out of 1998 with one entry from 1999. The writings that I dismiss as some kind of alternate reality are the ones that he admits to making up and the one from August of 1999 where he comes into contact with the band that has read House of Leaves. My process of elimination leaves only the journey to Virginia, the reflections after Lude’s death, the confrontation with Kyrie, and the November entries as reality. Only after struggling to put the entries in order for this blog post have I been able to even slightly wrap my head around Johnny’s diary.

He mentions the introduction in the beginning of the writings that come in Chapter 22 and he proceeds to go into a narration of the birth of a baby boy who had holes in his brain. In the September diary portions, he talks about his Seattle friends, mentions a baby story – Dr. Nowell. Therefore, there is a fictional story that appears in a part of what I considered to be his real life and his imagination. As soon as I began to give credibility to the entries after rereading and analyzing them, I dispelled the thought of their reliability. I realized that a fictional story existed in both the reliable version and the unreliable version. When I thought I had solved a piece of the puzzle, I was quickly humbled after realizing there is no true understanding of this novel. Danileweski writes the novel in a way that there is no correct interpretation. His inaccuracies perfectly match up with other contradictions, rendering logic useless. I believe that the fact that this book cannot truly be grasped is what makes this novel as haunting as it is intriguing. The idea of an unsolvable or unexplainable place corrodes a person’s curiosity, leading to obsession – and this tales shows how destructive a true obsession can be.

Suspense in House of Leaves

Photo by Linus Bohman
Photo by Linus Bohman

My friends have seen me read House of Leaves recently. They watch me turn it upside down to read footnotes or flip back to pages to reorient myself with Zampono’s narration after an interruption from Johnny, and they always ask what I’m reading. You can’t just give a quick explanation to describe this book, but my brief synopsis usually ends with me telling them that it’s supposed to be like a horror book. After I speak my piece they almost without fail ask, “How can a book be scary?” Only after reading the escape section do I feel like I can provide a competent answer. The element of suspense is what makes this book evoke a sense of fear. Horror films have desensitized us. Blood, gore, and every type of monster imaginable is now manageable. Now, horror films resort to suspense to force their audiences to jump and flinch in their seats. Which is of course followed up by everyone glancing around the room to see who else fell for the classic horror film staple of someone or something suddenly appearing where they shouldn’t be. House of Leaves manages to do this with words and how they’re arranged.

My main example is when Navy is at the bottom of the stairwell and the rope suddenly snaps. Navy is disoriented and Danielewski immerses us into the situation on page 291 where he prints the words upside down and only feeds us with single letters at a time. The biggest contributor to add to the buildup of suspense is the section from 294-296 where Danielewski spaces the word “snaps” over three pages. With the first two letters on 294 the reader knows where this is going, and yet he breaks it up and angles the “a”. I really appreciated this portion because I feel like Danielewski somehow captures a sensation of snapping or jerking by doing this. If you’ve ever been in a fender-bender you know what it’s like to be violently thrown back-and-forth in your seat, and then realize you’re okay. That was what I think he was going for when he made the decision to break up “snaps” and rotate the “a”. For me it was effective. Even Truant’s interjections help to build suspense in a way by interrupting the Navidson story. The unique way that Danielewski builds suspense is what makes this book scary in the way a horror film might be.

Appendix II in House of Leaves

I have read reviews of House of Leaves and seen lists that name it, “the scariest

Insane Asylum
Insane Asylum

book they have ever read”. The last book I can remember reading that legitimately scared me, or at the least creeped me out, was probably the Goosebumps series from R.L. Stine. However, while reading House of Leaves there was a point where I was struck by a feeling that wasn’t fear, but horror. I was shocked by what I discovered in Johnny’s letters from his mother that she composed from her mental institution.

Her letters become increasingly manic over time and as I read them I anticipated that it would only be a matter of time before she had a complete mental breakdown. Right before the breakdown occurred, she wrote a letter that the reader has to decode by using the first letters of each word to spell out a message. I will not say what the letter revealed because I do not know in what order everyone else has decided to read the novel in. The tedious process of discovery directly added to the experience and it was a clever way to both show his mother’s state of mind while at the same time horrifying the reader.

The letters that are found in the Appendix have been my favorite part of the book this far because by understanding the mother’s propensity to mental issues Johnny Truant’s story can be explained and understood a little bit more. Even though the letters clarify Truant’s narration, they actually are detrimental to his credibility. The reader sees how convinced Johnny’s mother is of the validity of her complaints against the New Director, who turns out to be the same person who treated her so well in the past. After that, I definitely questioned everything I had just read that was from Johnny’s point-of-view. Strangely enough, Zampono’s writings become more legitimate and believable, especially because of the academic manner in which Zampono writes his narration.

“The Kray Sisters” in MARBL

Compared to Selling Manhattan, Duffy approaches The World’s Wife in a

London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt
London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt

much different way. We have discussed the concept of The World’s Wife acting as a collection of positive messages of feminism and after seeing how Duffy began to write The Kray Sisters, I believe that to be true. Nestled above the beginnings of The Kray Sisters are the words “sado-feminist” and “lesbian gangsters.” Instead of finding inspiration from the world around her as she did with Recognition in Selling Manhattan, Duffy settles on a concept that she wants to explore and is forced to invent a characters, or in this case, a pair of characters to start the conversation about sado-feminism. Convincing me of my theory is the phrase, “think properly about angle” that is scribbled in large print at the top and circled. Duffy knew what she wanted to say, but needed to make sure that her words were not taken in a manner that she did not intend.

Regarding the actual writing and editing process, drafting The Kray Sisters was evidently a more lengthy process for Duffy than it was with Recognition. I believe that is because Recognition was written from inspiration rather than invention with a goal in mind. It was imperative for Duffy that she pays attention to her angle and therefore The Kray Sisters was a poem subject to numerous edits and drafts.

The first appearance of the poem contains a few blank spaces where Duffy later inserted allusions to things like the names of superstars of the age in the third stanza. Those specifics were not really important to her, which made me think of our discussion of The World’s Wife and the use of lists. The Kray Sisters is not a list in itself, but a lot of its allusions could be interchanged with other references and still carry the same meaning, purpose, and angle that Duffy desired.

One thing I found intriguing in Duffy’s edits is that in the final version, the word feminism only appears once but the names that Duffy gives to the club, Ballbusters, and the twins themselves, Prickteasers, makes them more of a force to be feared. There are not as many direct references that there are in the initial drafts. For example, whereas the twins’ grandmother punches the horse in front of the king in the final version – the first version says that she punches the horse for the cause. The published edition is written with much more authority, but there is something about the lack of the direct naming of feminism that makes it somehow subtler at the same time.

Exploring “Recognition” in MARBL

Artists do not create without inspiration and Carol Ann Duffy is no different.

Woman at mirror, circa 1930s: Seattle Municipal Archives
Woman at mirror, circa 1930s: Seattle Municipal Archives

Taped down to the first page that contains a draft of her poem Recognition, is an aged and browned newspaper clipping. Not knowing the context of the clipping, I perceived it to be from maybe an advice column of sorts. The clip says “From Mrs. Rosemary,” and then a woman talks about how she has come to a place in her life where she doesn’t recognize the untidy woman in the mirror anymore and felt obligated to apologize to her reflection because she could’ve been so much more. With that inspiration – next to doodles of three-dimensional cubes and the clipping – Duffy jotted the ending to the poem, “sorry sorry sorry.”

Duffy was clearly struck by what she had read. Right away she takes a blurb that is only a couple of short sentences long – that she might have stumbled upon in her morning paper – and gives life to it. Duffy only took three rewrites to come up with a working draft that consists of eight stanzas like the published version, with only minor edits to word choices.

The final working draft that appears in the manuscripts that I looked at was written in silvery ink compared to the thick black ink she uses everywhere else. Additionally, the first versions of the poem use three stanzas with six lengthy lines before she dices them apart for her more finalized version that is eight stanzas, each of them with four lines.

Recognition fits nicely into the overarching theme of Selling Manhattan, which is Duffy’s ability to speak from the point of view of another person regardless of how foreign or even deranged that perspective may be. The fact that Duffy was inspired by a newspaper clipping shows me that Selling Manhattan was built with things that caused Duffy to stop and consider the possibility of a foreign existence, whether that existence be foreign physical, emotional, or mental.

 

 

The Devil’s Wife

I found The Devil’s Wife to have the most interesting and varying structure out

Prison Cell by Aapo Haapanen
Prison Cell by Aapo Haapanen

of all the poems in The World’s Wife. The poem is split into five different sections and it follows a plot of someone falls for the Devil and eventually spirals down the wrong path. She seemingly commits a heinous crime, as she is sentenced to life in prison. The first portion, Dirt, is pretty straight forward detailing the events that led to the woman succumbing to the Devil. Although in this section the Devil is identified as a man in her office, that fact becomes clouded with the burial of a doll. At that point, the woman becomes a shell of herself,  “I felt like this: Tongue of stone. Two black slates / for eyes. Thumped wound of a mouth. Nobody’s Mam” (17-18).

The Medusa section ruins the straightforwardness of the piece when the speaker says, “I flew in my chains over the wood where we’d buried the / the doll” (19). If the woman was in chains it insinuates that she was already shackled and possibly in prison before she committed the crime. Later she tells us that the Devil is gone which leads me to believe that the actual doll she buried was the body of the man she fell for. Bible utilizes double-negatives to confuse the reader, but it is fitting because it appears to represent the speaker’s experience of an interrogation room where she is disoriented and only wants someone to talk to that can help her sort out what happened because she doesn’t remember it herself.

The final two sections wrap up the poem well while also leaving it somewhat open-ended. In Night, the reader is shown the scene of the speaker in her cell alone, contemplating her remaining options. She decides to come forward and give a confession despite having no memory of when it actually happened. The final two lines of the poem encompass the open-ended nature of The Devil’ Wife. “But what did I do to us all, to myself / When I was the Devil’s wife?” I believe that that being the Devil’s wife does not mean that the man in the speaker’s office was the Devil, but her relationship with him is comparable to being possessed. Her depression or possession leads her to kill the man and bury him, but in her state she does not recognize the action as a crime and associates the man’s lifeless body as a doll.

 

The Comedy of The World’s Wife

When we were first introduced to Carol Ann Duffy prior to reading her in class, we were told about the scenario of her switching publishers because she believed The World’s Wife was more like pop culture poetry than her previous works. After reading the first half of the book of poetry, I agree. Many of her pieces in The World’s Wife utilize allusions to common stories, fairy tales, fables, or whatever else you may call them. The way Duffy uses these allusions reminds me of the way traditional poets from the past use mythological references to add layers to their poems. Duffy’s use of these characters push her poetry into the mainstream because they become more relatable to people who are not accustomed to reading poetry or dealing with literature. In fact, a friend of mind also attended the reading as a part of another class assignment. He was supposed to profile Duffy and instead left the venue telling me that he doesn’t usually enjoy poetry but he wanted to read more of Duffy’s work.

 

I believe that many people find poetry hard to relate to or confusing because it often deals with difficult themes like those found in Selling Manhattan. However, those themes are mostly absent from The World’s Wife. Replacing poems that focus on death and loneliness are humorous poems. The poem that I think encapsulates Duffy’s goal is “Mrs. Darwin.” Consisting of only five lines, “Mrs. Darwin” reads like a short joke with a punch line at the end, and it works. “Mrs. Darwin” elicited the most laughs out of the crowd at the reading and it was by far the shortest. Duffy’s The World’s Wife is unlike any other poetry I have ever read and I think that was her goal. She wanted to reach out to the readers who are not comfortable with poetry and invite them in with poems that were fun and easy reads.

asy reads.

Selling Manhattan – The Second Half

The first half of Carol Ann Duffy’s poems in Selling Manhattan heavily focused on themes consisting of death, illness, and mental instability. However, in the latter half of this book of poetry the themes do not have clear common themes as before. The string of poems from the pages of 47 to 52 tell a story of separation from a love by an ocean and that idea picks up again with the final three poems.

Photo by Dschwen Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Dschwen Wikimedia Commons

The speaker is in an unfamiliar land and cannot be comforted by the haven of loving arms. But in between those poems that discuss the struggle of a long distance relationship in a foreign land, there are cryptic poems like Scraps, Stealing, Three Paintings, and Big Sue and Now Voyager. Those works were difficult for me to give meaning to and I hope others can illuminate the ideas behind them in class.

The one poem that stood out to me in this reading was Mouth, With Soap. It made me think of an uptight woman who might chastise her children for aligning themselves with pop culture. For example, there are people who denounce J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series because they believe it supports witchcraft and its practice, but it has positive themes. The woman believes she is protecting herself against evil influences in the world but in reality she is only censoring herself and limiting her freedoms. The “constant drizzle in her heart” (44) could be the personality and uniqueness within herself that is dripping away into censorship and rotting away inside her. Eventually, her commitment to a perceived purity will leave her empty.