Saturday, October 31, 2015

Week 10: 11/3-11/9


Critic #2:
In my week 9 journal, I wrote about a positive critic of this book, but after having class on Tuesday, I wanted to explore the more critical review of the book. Although this book received a lot of praise, it also has a lot of hate. I decided to read the blog, "I Hate Cheryl Strayed," that you put up in class. Talking about it in class and just reading the title of the blog was a shock, but actually going through some of the blog posted left me thinking a lot about this book and how someone could hate this book and Cheryl so much. First of all, whoever writes this blog is so dedicated to it. It's kinda crazy how much effort has gone into hating on a single person and book.

Even though I've read and we talked about all the hate, I still enjoy the book. After hearing about the flaws, it does kinda ruin some of the detail of the book because I stop and think they could be lies, but I still got a lot of insight. Much like for the Book of Wanderings, I related to Stayed's need to just get out of her comfort zone. I don't think I'll ever do a backpacking trip as crazy as this, but I definitely relate to her need to run away from life for a bit so she can get a hold of her life. In a little way, I do this by just taking a days/time for myself. Usually, I just go for a walk or to a coffee shop and just sit and be alone for a while. I do this just to think and escape from all the busyness around me. In Strayed's Ted Talk, she talked about her "greatest sufferings" and the lessons she learned from it. The one lesson that stuck out to me to most was when she said she learned the, "power in simplicity." I really made me think about my life. I've always been that girl to look up ways to be more happy or more productive and simplicity is a common theme that comes up. Stayed's talk just reminded me of this and it was really the perfect time for me to hear this in college. College is a crazy time. I'm always busy and constantly feel like there is more to be finished. This theme of simplicity just reminded me to think about everything I'm grateful for instead of complaining about being too busy. I really enjoyed her talk but, the one thing that really suck with me was that I need to remember to appreciate all the simple things I have to be grateful for.

Strayed's Epiphany:
The critic brought a lot of doubt about this book to me. In class, I felt like my perspective was completely changed, but thinking about it more, I still enjoy this book. Even thought their may be some false details, I don't think it takes away from Strayed's epiphany and how it effects the reader. Through her epiphany, I got that everyone has an internal strength they need to find. Everyone finds it in a different way, but it's always there. I loved this book because of the little things it reminded me about my life.  I think if someone can get meaning or a new perspective from this story, it's meaningful no matter what the circumstances of the details are.

Final Thoughts:
We talked a lot about the message we got from this book and if it was credible or not. But how I see it is even if it's not 100% truthful, if you can take something away from it, it is an impactful book. Yes, it would be nice to know all of Strayed's experiences were truthful, but I really don't think it should impact what you take away. I personally really enjoyed reading this book because it made me internalize my own life.  For example, in my last journal, I wrote about all the different ME's I have been and this really got me thinking about all the possibilities there are for me. As a college student, I still have no idea what I'm doing with my life. I just switched majors and the possibility of switching is always an option. This book eased my nervous about having one ME I need to become. For me this was one of the biggest revelations I had from this book. I have so many possibilities and the thought of this now excites me because who know what I will do next with my life and whatever I do, the experience is always worth it.

Week 9: 10/27-11/2

Initial reaction:

This is definitely my favorite book we've read so far. In a weird way, I would say I connect with the reader. Of course her life experiences are way different from me, but the way she talks about life to herself really connects with me. I was immediately drawn into this book because I'm from Oregon and the PTC runs through Oregon, but also because this summer I was really into doing day hikes, and the Bridge of the Gods (where she says is her final destination is), is a place I went by a lot. I went to this little town after my hike to get something to eat before heading home, but I never realized that this place I was going was such a landmark. Now, when I go home I'm really interested to find and go on the trails that are a part of the PTC.

How I would write page 5--Who am I?

...And why not? I'd been so many things already. A daughter. An over achieving high-schooler who always wanted to be the best at everything. A supportive teammate who was in love with the game of soccer. A loving friend that would be there for the good and the bad. An ambitious dreamer with no thoughts of failure. I was the daughter of two loving parents who just wanted to see me be happy. As a teen, I disregarded the importance of home. I took the comfort of home for granted. In spite of this, I'm learning from my ungraciousness. I'm attending Gonzaga University in search of my passions. Everyday, I remember why I am here and how lucky I am to be doing what I am with all the support I have.

I didn't really recognize the importance of this passage my first time reading, but I think because you made us re-write it to correlate it to our own lives,  I found a little deeper meaning. Because Strayed has had a lot more life experience than I, I was surprised how easy it was for me to write this. Thinking about all the different ME's, I have been was an interesting take on my life. By examining all the things I have been, I was surprised how in this short paragraph I could portray how I've grown so easily.

The Dream of Common Language:
Strayed mentions this book a lot because its one she chooses to bring on her journey. On page 60, she mentions the poem "Power" from the book and I wanted to look into it further for my reading journal.

by Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-deposits of our history
Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.
Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

Strayed says, "...but, The Dream of Common Language was my religion." This is a very bold statement and I wanted to see why she held this book of poems so holy. After reading this poem a couple time, I realized that Strayed related to this women that is described in the poem. Although I don't know anything about whats in the rest of the book, I can see how Strayed may have related to the women described. It's most apparent in the last stanza when she talks of wounds. Strayed's whole story is basically about coming to terms with the wound of loosing her mother and looking into the last line, "her wounds came from he same source as her power," really made me examine Strayed's character more. I think this line related to Strayed in the sense of how she came to find her inner strength from the wound of her mother.

Response to Critic:

I choose to look of the review that went with, "Vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of the life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together." -The Wall Street Journal

This critic was more like a little summary of the book. It take the most important feelings you get from the book, like Strayed's honesty throughout. I felt like this was a very positive critic and I thought it was good that although they gave her lots of praise, they also mentioned that their has been a plethora of other novice hiking book. Although I do think this was a genuine critic, I thought it would have been nice if the critic had questioned the book. Because it was such a positive critic, the critic's argument probably wasn't as convincing as it cold have been. I already love Wild even from the little amount we've read, so I didn't take too much convincing from the critic.

Week 8: 10/20-10-26

As I Lay Dying

Bitter or Triumphant?
We talked briefly on if this book was bitter or a triumphant novel in the end. I can definitely see both sides, but without really thinking about it, I would say this is a bitter novel. I decided to think on this idea of how it was a triumphant novel for my reading journal. 
When I look the many ways human nature is portrayed, I could say this was a successful book. Faulkner made it really easy for the reader to see mankind as just cruel based on how everyone in the family seemed to have ulterior motives and how they treated Addie. But on the opposite side, I think this book was also able to show the dynamics of a family bond. Although it was a very extreme family, the connect between certain characters was very interesting for example, Darl with everyone. Darl taunted both Jewel and Dewey Dell a lot and I thought Darl had relationships with a lot of tension. Because of this the act of him being taken to Jackson wasn't seen as something the family did against him, but more as something they were doing to stop this negativity in the family. 

Ulterior Motives:
Ulterior motives was a theme that definitely changed how I read this book. They didn't really stand out to me because I was so confused with how everyones perspectives worked in the book, but after I saw them, I related it to the question if this was a bitter or triumphant novel. Even though I really want to see it as triumphant, because of all the ulterior motives in the book, I cant get myself to get over how bitter it is. The use of ulterior motives shows how everyone is only looking out for themselves in life and that in general, humans only do things to benefit ones self.  

List of ulterior motives-
Anse: teeth
Dewey Dell: abortion
Cash: machine
Vardaman: toy train
I also think its interesting that the one family member that doesn't have a ulterior motive of going to town is Darl. This is ironic because Darl gets taken to a mental institution at the end the book. When they are finally burring Addie, he is taken away. This is ironic because even thought Darl wasn't one of Addies favorite children, I think his love for her may have been the most truthful. He was always yearning to be love by her but never got it.

As I Lay Dying Movie Response:

The movie was extremely dramatic; it was almost comical to me. The whole family was crazy at to a whole new level than the book. It was hard for me to watch because of how all the characters talked and how horrible some of the scenes were. Especially when they cut off Cash’s leg. I could barely watch and I would have been so lost if I hadn’t read the book. Most of the movie was split screen and I didn’t really like it. I get why Franco decided to do it, but I thought it took away from the story.
A lot of the scenes in the movie were interpreted differently than I had in the book. I wouldn’t say Franco portrayed them wrong, just different. The first time I noticed this was when Darl and Jewel went to get wood because it meant $3. In the movie, Jewel seemed like he was fine going to get the wood for the three dollars. In the book, I interpreted it as Darl was the one that wanted to go and Jewel was forced to help him. Darl knows Addie will be dead by the time they get back, but Jewel seems to think they will make it back in time. In the book, I thought Jewel knew Addie was going to die, but he was still forced to go.
On thing I thought the book portrayed very well was how Darl would taunt Jewel and Dewey Dell. Darl taunted Jewel about not fitting in the family and Dewey Dell about being pregnant. I didn’t really notice it much in the book until was talked about it in class, but I thought it was a really important detail in the movie and added to the relationships between Darl had with his siblings. I also thought the movie intensified the relationships Darl had with all the characters. For example, Darl held Vardamans hand while they walked behind the wagon and before he got taken to Jackson, he gave Vardaman a loving goodbye hug. This affection between then wasn’t a big thing in the book for me.
Another scene that was interesting to me was, when Anse has is moment with Addie after she dies. He says the line about getting his teeth, but it seemed like saying he could get his teeth was a way of coping with Addies death instead of something rude to say after he died. The movie made it a lot sadder for me. In the book, I thought Anse was heartless and move on from her death the instant she was gone, but the movie portrayed this differently and I liked its interpretation better.
The movie also made me think about the reason Addie was buried in her wedding dress. It made me think more that it was the nicest piece of clothing she owned. Anse says, “she loved that dress,” and the movie made me think less of a modern extravagant dress and more of a nice piece of clothing which was rare for the Bundren family.
The scene that was completely different from the book, was when Whitfield was at the house when everyone was there to say goodbye to Addie. In the book, Whitfield is traveling to confess his sin to Addie, but turns around because someone tells him Addie has already passed. I thought it was a good scene in the movie because it would have been hard to portray this important fact from the book in the movie without Whitfield making it to see Addie even though she had already passed.

Week 7: 10/13-10/19

As I Lay Dying

Wedding Dress:
This was one of the weirder details in the story. I thought it was interesting they included it and I don't really know what to think of it. It could be ironic to contrast with her bad marriage with Anse but I really don't know why the detail is so significant. Or maybe it's not. I also think its weird that they put her in the wedding dress if they know it will make it so she doesn't fit in the coffin correctly. Because Cash is so crazy about building the perfect coffin I would think the family would make sure it was perfect but they could care less about all the work Cash put into the coffin. 
Although Cash is kinda annoying about all this coffin not being balanced talk, I would be annoyed if I put that much work into something and it goes misused or unappreciated. I do believe at the time he was building it and Addie was still alive, she appreciated all his hard work, but after Addie died, I don't think anyone else appreciated what he had done for their mother. 

Darl and Dewey Dell:
I think Darl and Dewey Dell have the most interesting relationship. I didn't catch all the sexualizing Darl does of Dewey Dell and how they can talk without words is really interesting to me. Darl has the most sections in the book and is kinda the main character. I thought because Darl and Dewey Dell have this really close connection that they would place a lot of trust in one another, but its interesting how its more like they put each other on edge. Especially for Dewey Dell, because Darl knows her secrets. 
In general I have a lot of sympathy for Dewey Dell. I think I relate to her most because she is a women and thinking about how she's going to deal with her mothers death is hard. Assuming the role of the women in the family would be really difficult. She doesn't have anyone to go to for motherly advice that a daughter needs. I also feel bad for her because her story is one that I still want to know more about. Since she cant get the abortion she is wanting to get while in town, I just wonder how her story will keep going when she has to have to child. I also wonder how Dewey Dell being pregnant and having a child will change the dynamics of the family. Not only is this family not ready to have a baby, I don't think they are capable of raising a baby with the loss of Addie. She would know best about what to do and now Dewey Dell is left alone to jus figure it out for herself. 

Jewel is definitely the one family member who doesn't fit in. The build up of this ultimately leads to us finding out that Jewel is not like the rest, because he isn't Anse's child. He's Whitfield's son. Whitfields chapter is an essential chapter and exposes that Jewel is a product of Addies affair with him. In Addies chapter its also very interesting how she says she did nothing to hid the fact that when she was having Jewel it wasn't Anse child. She basically says that Anse knew the whole time it wasnt his child, but he never did anything about it. This detail is just weird to me. If Anse knew the whole time, why would he not say anything about it. How could he not get mad at all? I feel like they would still stay together because of the time period norms, but how could he just sit by knowing Jewel wasn't his. Also Jewel isn't directly kin, by the end, I do think he is a part of the family. His hard work and sacrifices he made while they made their journey to burry Addie definitely proved himself and how much he wants to contribute to the family. 

Week 6: 10/6-10/9

The Book of Wanderings

Doubt is a big theme in this book whether it's Meyers doubting herself about why she was on the journey or if it was doubt in her religion. I found this to be one of the themes I connected with most. Doubt is a part of everyday life and I would say doubt in myself is something I definitely struggle with. Meyers husband knew that this trip was necessary for her, and was one of her biggest supporters. One thing we talked about in class was how doubt either strengthens or creates a new path. In Meyers case, I think her doubt strengthened her. Even though she had a lot of doubt about why she had gone, in the end I think she discovered more about the world that she felt she was missing before. The emptiness of not living her dream needed to be filled and that is what this trip ultimately did for her. 

Visiting Writer- Kimberly Meyer Reflection:
            Listening to Meyers in person, made me fall in love with this book even more. Reading it left me confused at times and I didn’t always understand her views when I started reading, but now I understand. Not only do I have a better grasp on the book, I also realized how much I admire and resonate with what Meyers is struggling with throughout the story.
First off, I totally understand what Meyers is saying when she talks about missing her chance to have a “bohemian-explorer-intellectual kind of life.” I’ve always felt this deep feeling that I need to adventure and explore the world. Probably not in the same way Meyer follows a historic and religious path, but I’ve always felt this internal need to get out and explore. I can never say exactly why I feel this way, but it just feels like something that’s always been a part of me. When I dream of my future, I see myself exploring other cultures and having the explorer lifestyle. Although I won’t know what the future hold for me, I understand why Meyers felt this trip was so necessary.
The other way I really relate to Meyers, is her struggle with religion and her beliefs. We grew up differently, but I think as of right now we are in a similar place of “seeking.” Seeking for some higher power or something base all your belief on. Unlike Meyers, I grew up without any religious affiliation. My parents are Buddhist and Christian, but they never enforced any religious beliefs on me. As I started to get older this left me questioning what I believed in. All my friends had religious affiliations passed down to them by their parents, but I was left questioning. I started to go to religious services with my friends, but I never had that moment where I completely accepted God or any other religion. In a few moments, I felt the presence of God or some force in my life, but I couldn’t get myself to truly be a believer and convince myself of some higher power. I was never 100% convinced that God was real. I’ve always been questioning the religious aspect of my life because it bothers me that I can’t say what I believe in, but after listening to Meyers and hearing the struggle she is also going though made me feel better about where I am with my beliefs. I feel more confident in saying that I’m doubtful, but seeking.
Meyers talked about religion and her need to explore as a yearning for something more. I don’t think I could have put it any better, because this put all my thoughts into words. An interesting response that had never crossed my mind, to the yearning Meyers talked about was when she said she had her biggest revelation of the trip. It was on top of Mt. Cyanide. And she summarized it as, God gives us this yearning so we become more connected with him. This really made me step back and think. I don’t know if it’s because after listening to Meyers I began to admire her words, but this makes sense in how I view my beliefs.
All in all, this was a great experience that I enjoyed and benefitted from more than I anticipated. I’ve never gone to a book reading and getting to ask the author personal questions about her story was an experience most people don’t get. Now that I’ve listened to her in person, it has changed how I read the book. When I read it I can picture her on this journey and how she interacts with people make more sense to me now that I’ve heard her speak about them and seen their faces.

As I Lay Dying
Initial Thoughts: 
This is probably one of the most difficult books I've had to read and I'm very confused. The bouncing back between characters is a lot to keep track of. I have questions about the family dynamics because I'm really confused. From what I've read, I go that the mother is dying and the whole family is trying to get ready for her death. Their is definitely some favoritism between the children, but I can't tell exactly where everyone in the family stands with each other.