Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reading en espanol

I was chastised by someone this past semester, I think by a Latina woman I helped in the writing center, for not keeping up my Spanish through reading. Of course, although I have always intended to read in Spanish, I've read very little since my return from Spain except when getting my Spanish minor: started several novels, completed a few short stories, various newspaper articles. So, once again, I start down the road, hoping I might actually do some serious study--a leer!!

I've chosen through careful examination and contemplation (i.e. I happened to find a copy at Saver's half off sale) Isabel Allende's retrato en sepia. I'm not quite sure why I will be more likely to read this novel rather than any one of the 15 Spanish novels I have down in our basement, but what the hell.

Reading the first few pages reminds me that my early experiences with Spanish literature helped me decide to be an English major (my first college lit class was a Spanish one). And it reminds me of how beautiful the Spanish language is as the main character contemplates the difficulties in discovering the truth of one's past and of truth in general: "He venido a saber los detalles de mi nacimiento bastante tarde en la vida, pero peor seria no haberlos descubierto nunca; podrian haberse extraviado para siempre en los vericuetos del olvido. Hay tantos secretos en me familia, que tal vez no me alcance el tiempo para despejarlos todos: la verdad es fugaz, lavada por torrentes de lluvia."

Isn't that last line wonderful? La verdad (the truth) is fleeting, watered down by torrents of rain--sounds much better in Spanish. If all language is metaphorical then maybe the Spanish sounds better to the novice like me because it's still a fresh metaphor. And of course Spanish is much less gruff and rough than English with all its vowel endings.

Bueno, voy a leer algunas paginas.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Quite a *summer* weekend

  • Bike ride to Layton park with my youngest son in the morning: I now know it’s summer.
  • Watch oldest son’s last soccer game of the season: they went undefeated for the season; the passing and tenacity is a pleasure to watch; Seth will take on anyone in his midfield position and has of late found a certain composure and awareness.
  • Hour and half mt bike ride in 90 degree weather—I was wasted but did get cheered on by some hikers as I made one difficult climb.
  • Rush to get to Guitar City before it closed: son needed a cowbell for his drumset—serrendipitously son decided he wanted a cowbell and we happened to watch Christopher Walken’s and Will Farrel’s hilarious SNL skit with the Blue Oyster Club—“We need more cowbell.” See the video here:
  • End the evening with our favorite little Mongolian Barbecue in Ogden.


Up early with the two boys (daughter informed me she isn’t a hiker) to scout out a new trail I found in Centerville: Parish Creek trail or Centerville Peak. A five and half hour, 8 mile hike (longest one yet for my 7 year old)—beautiful views of Bountiful peak, Davis County, Antelope Island, and the Great Salt Lake. Every ounce of food, water and Gatorade was consumed but we did, as youngest son insisted, reach snow (mentioned by a guy coming down) which he threw at us for miles on the way down. I tried to get my pictures off my phone but the @*&$&#*& thing won’t work. See photo from someone else's hike.

  • In the afternoon my daughter and I finish up Out of Africa (side note: I thought I had seen this movie but it turns out I had just listened to the soundtrack so many times I imagined it). Good moments with our daughter are far and few right now (she is solidly and only focused on herself at this point) so I jumped when I saw her getting into this film—several good conversations came out of the film. One about syphilis and another about the causes and planning of world wars.
  • Later, an honest and nourishing discussion about religion with my wife (in part brought about since I under-estimated hike time and stubbornness of 7 year old, missing church by 2 hrs).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's goals...

I thought about doing difficult work, stuff I've been putting off (update websites, research for a 1010 retention study, revision of a paper....), until lunch today and then rewarding myself with some sci-fi short stories this afternoon. Instead, I jumped directly to the dessert, reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's amazing "Elbow Room," a pleasurable unraveling of a story (as I noted on the contents page of my book) which starts out with a loner "womaning" a space station where her every psychological and physical need is met AND ends with self-aggrandizement and multiple personalities.

It's going to be tough deciding which of the Norton short stories not to use for my sci-fi diversity class this summer; tougher yet get myself to do the real work I've been putting off since April--maybe Monday will be the day.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

We all a different sensory world

Roberta Haas, recent Pulitzer prize winner in poetry, was interviewed today on the News Hour on PBS. In talking about his poem “The problem of describing trees” he ponders if a tree dances, no, capitalizes no… In the interview Haas quotes Wittgenstein’s “the limits of our language are the limits of our world” and E.O. Wilson’s “Every species lives in a different sensory world.” I’m aware that both of these claims, especially the first, might sometimes get overstated; still, I was bowled over by the latter. There are, without proving ETs, different worlds: my cat lives in my house yet in another house; the dolphin lives on this planet but we do not know the same world. Isn’t that an amazing thought? Each species has at its “finger tips” on its very own world.

And that got me thinking about how each of us human animals truly live in a different sensory world too. It's not that we merely perceive reality differently, we live in different realities. We’re probably all more similar to one another than we are to a cat, but still...this difference the ultimate proof of distinct subjectivities. All at once beautiful and terrifyingly depressing.

**I wrote this yesterday and had more to say but my all-day-grading-session has turned my mind to mush. I swear if I grade another paper I will barf up my brain.