Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Memory Recitations!!

Another amazing perfomance of my fellows as they perfomed their memory feats.
It was so great to see the wide range of interests, poems, and ecclectic lists: Juliette's unique and descriptive list of her favorite foods; Jennie's well-wishing performance of Dr. Seuss; Hannah's informative recount of religious sects; and Josh's colorful account of a prisoner's sex life....all very stimulating and engaging. It seems that with all of our public performances we are not only exposing and sharing bits of our own personalities, but some of us are also becoming more comfortable and skilled as public speakers and entertainers. Much gratitude should be given to both Francis Yates, Walter Ong, Sean Kane, and Dr. Sexson for providing us with the opportunity to learn not only about the ongoing debate between orality and literacy, but also for providing for the opportunity to learn a great deal about ourselves and each other...

Thanks everyone for the great and educational experience of Oral Traditions 2005!

Friday, April 01, 2005

March 31 - Review for Test # 2

1. What is it about Nikole that makes her every guy's wish? She likes to fish.
2. Wayne is the brain, we si-i-ing of Wayne. Kristi's poem.
3. What model did Tracy use for repetition? Leviticus.
4. Valerie swears the fish was "this big" and used the Odyssey as a model.
5. Wayne used the pantoum structure as an inspiration. It is a structure that ensures that at the poem's conslusion every line has been repeated twice.
6. What, according to Aristotle, is the difference between an epic and a tragedy? Epics- episodic, redundant, too copious. Tragedy- coherently unified, short and organic with a single focus.
7. Ong p144-148: The reigning perfect peice of literature for the 19th and 20th centuries is the Detective Story. .
8. Ong p139: Discussion of Freytag's pyramid.
9. What word could one use to sum up Finnegans Wake? Either mememorme, or, remember.
10. The 7 liberal arts: GGRAMAD, Grammar, Geometry, Rhetoric, Arithmatic, Music, Astronomy, Dialectic.
11. The words 'in medias res' mean in the middle of things.
12. What epithet of Homer's which refers to women is used most often? "of the lovely cheeks"
13. "Amathia" means forgetting, to forget everything that is important. To be truly sinful is to be forgetful.
14. Ong p96: How does one authenticate a written document if one has just entered a literate/written culture? attach a symbolic object such as a sword.
15. Ong p126: The issue of typographic space as in Easter Wings. The poem in this case takes on the shape of wings on the page.
16. Ong Chapter 4 is titled "Writing Resturctures Consciousness".
17. Ong p103: Corrections- Oral performers do not admit mistakes or draw attention to them.
18. Ong p103: Plato wrote in dialogue form, one person talking to another, yet, the dialogues are NOT transcriptions of actual discussions.
19. Ong p104: Writing introduces introspectivity into our culture. With it, we became more interior and isolated.
20. Ong p123: The book is a thing, not an utterance.
21. Ong p141: lengthy and climactic plot comes into being only with writing. pg 142: there is an incompatibility between the linear plot and oral memory. Print gives the need for closure.
22. Ong, p145: Which gives us the firmest sense of "closure" : (a) print (b) writing (c) oral performance (d) film
23. Ong p146: Who else, besides Salman Rushdie, felt the need to declaim the written novel in order to reclaim the feel for the old orla narrator's world?
24. Ong p147: According to Corinthians, the spirit gives life, but the letter ________.
25. Ong p148: The "round" character is valued most by which tradition, the oral or the written?
26. Overwhelmingly, the symbols of Camillo's theatre tend to be from: (a) classical myth and the zodiad; (b) the Bible (c) the underworld images of the Middle Ages (d) Virgil's Aeneid.
27. Read carefully the last paragraph of page 172 in Art of Memory and be prepared to answer questions about what a "Renaissance plan of the psyche" might mean.
28. Lull: be able to answer questions about Ramon Lull and his memory system as it relates to (a) neoplatonism (b) the abstract vs. images (c) movement (d) the Cabala (Kaballah).
Google the term Cabala for more information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Oral Epic Poems


The poetic creations of my fellow classmates completely stunned me. They were so impressive, especially the ones that were able to perform theirs from memory. Being a non-musical person myself, I am always amazed by those who can write songs or write their own lyrics for old songs. The performances of Kristi, Jerimiah, Courtney, and Josh were fantastic. I also enjoyed Zac's Irish-like ballad for the "fire-haired lass" and Callan's classic ode to his fair Juliet. Many of the poems that weren't musical had a certain rythmic quality about them that was so telling of the inherent qualities of oral performances. The theatrical elements of some of them were also very impressive. For example Hana's dramatic retelling of Heather's encounters with "creeping and crawling critters" and Valerie's epic tale of Wes' fishing adventure. The best part of being a member of the audience was being exposed to the talent and accomplishments of my fellow classmates. Not only is every unique, but we are now all been memorialized. So Cool!!

Monday, March 28, 2005

A Poem for Kelly Stoll

Sing to me, sing through me,
Let us hear a gentle song.
Dear muse, sweet muse,
Tell us a tell of the lovely and fair
So that we may rest in slumber.

From the east a gentle wind once blew
Into the quiet home of a loving two.
A child was born, a beautiful babe
With sparkling eyes of cornflower blue.

From the tops of the hills of old West Virginia
The proud father stood tall and shouted, "Hoorah!
A princess has come, and soon she'll become
Our fair and lovely Queen."

But before her coronation could come to pass,
She had to grow, to blossom, with much to surpass.

Like the seeds of a dandelion her journeys went far
From Virginia to Massachussets and on to Connecticut
Where finally her proud father screamed "This is patheticut!
The cornflower blue diamonds of my young babe's eyes
never will shine nor dazzle under these dull gray skies."

So he packed up his treasures into suitcases and trains
And set out for the West where it promised great things:
The air always fresh and the water crystal clear,
The spaces wide open and the animals not too near.

Across the barren and empty, dry, dusty plains,
And into the buffered yet rocky mountain terraine.
Untill finally this fair flower and her dear family paused
And settled in Missoula where it praised their sweet cause.

To school went this delicate and rare tiny flower,
Where a destiny slowly began to unfold for her
With her diamond like eyes of cornflower blue,
She continued to blossom, mature, Oh, how she grew!

Finally the day came for her to came her reign.
And her proud father again cried out "Hoorah!"

In her royal blue dress of satin and lace
She flashed her eyes of cornflower blue
And wowed those poor judges right of their shoes.

With her dazzling white pearls she smiled their favor
And blinded them with the beauty of her ravishing curls
The ballots were cast to support the old claim
That Kelly was more lovely than all of the girls.

With little competition those dull ladies faded
And the fair and lovely Kelly was granted her fame
Complete with a title, a sash, and a crown
Miss Western Montana Cowgirl, a queen had been found.

On stallions and mares she entered corrals,
Waving and flaunting those infamous jewels.
To the faithful and jubilent she would shout and grin,
"Hello, Welcome, Let the fun and games begin!"

She escorted the cows, the sheep, and the bulls
Out from the limelight where they had been culled.
She often would dance in the arms of new beaus,
Those courageous young heroes of the day's rodeo.

She has since then retired her sash and her crown
But her diamonds and pearls continue to shine on.
Just gaze at her lovely cornflower blue eyes
And return a smile when she flashes one by.

Now off to a peaceful slumber for you.
I promise sweet dreams of glittering stars
That twinkle and glimmer as gentle clues
Of the fair and lovely queen with cornflower blues.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Salman Rushdie!!

Today the class discussed Salman Rushdie, his public performance, and his master class. I was very grateful that we covered all three topics for those of us who were unable to attend. Dr. Sexson said it was a "compelling presentation" because Rushdie dipped into the basket of oral traditions. There was a certain rythym or cadence to his speaking. Rushdie discussed the differences between the oral storyteller and the novelist. The novelist is restrained by the confinements of literature. For example, the author must follow the form and structure of written texts, whereas the oral storyteller can create and shape a more fluid story. Much of Rushdie's success may be attributed to his ability to balance the two and reconcile such differences. Indeed one of the characters within his novel must constantly keep him on a linear track. Dr. Sexson related this linear organization of literature to Aristotle, and reminded us how very little affection Aristotle had for oral traditions. He detested the spilling over, messy, unstructured form of oral narratives and prized the linear, box-like organization of rhetoric and books.

The oral storyteller is forever conscious of the audience. He is always observing the feedback fromt the audience so as to prevent the audience from leaving or falling asleep. The oral narrator is in fact a juggler. He must manipulate many different parts of story without every dropping one or the other. There is a need to wrap things up, cohere all elements, as well as entertain. He must also constantly adapting and adjusting his presentation which often requires great skills in reassembly and reorganization.

Salman Rushdie went into great detail and explanation about the importance of freedom of speech. As an author and as an individual he has been extremely outspoken about the problems and limitations of religion, especially when it interferes with politics. He articulates a difference between religion and faith with his statement, "I believe in the their stories, and there are many stories." This statement aims to free people up from literal interpretations of religious documents. As stories they are more complicated and more revealing about human nature and the way in which people should be spiritual. Great problems arise when people forget that they are stories and think that they are historical facts. In this way, religions become boxed up and confining entities, when in reality there are many perspectives and many oppourtunities. His comparison of "boxed up" religions resonates of Aristotle's obessesion with neat and tidy organization of information and thoughts. History has proven that religion itself is a multi-faceted, diverse, messy, and unpredictable institution.

Dr. Sexson was also fascinated with the fact that Salman Rushdie referred to many of the same books that were part of the Top 100 titles on MSU bookmark. Rushdie referred to these important texts as the important stories, and that everyone could get closer to the "root, source, origen" of the human experience. Rushdie made repeated references to The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, Alice in Wonderland, Shakespeare, the Bible, the Qu'ran, Homer, and the Orestae Trilogy.

Jeremy had to opportunity to ask Salman Rushdie a question. He asked, "What reccomendation would you give to aspiring writers?"
Rushdie responded, "Endure and Perservere"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

100 Book Titles Memory Presentations

Everyone was able to demonstrate their new skill and fabulous art of memory. Although it was a bit tedious to listen to the same 100 titles more than 30 times, it was fascinating to watch the process and results of such an accomplishment. I found the discussion afterwards on how other students created their memory palaces very interesting and revealing. Thanks Jennie for walking us through your home and a big thanks to Brian J. for giving us all a visual and creative represention of your memory palace.

Friday, February 18, 2005

February 17- Review for Test #`1

1. Singing is referred to as a text (Sing in me, Muse . . .)
2. How are words defined in an oral culture?Gestures, vocal inflections, facial expressions, and the entire human existential setting in which the real, spoken word always occurs.
3. What activities put us in contest with nature?Agriculture – to build a fence around a field or pasture, to tether an animal, to harbor seeds and plant them at just the right time – these activities put humanity in a state of contest with nature.
4. Chirographic – All evidence of writing
5. Typographic – Writing with print Oral-Chirographic-Typographic-Electronic
6. Loci – Latin for ‘place’, where you store memory palace images
7. Anima – Latin for ‘soul/sprit’
8. Rhapsode – Greek for ‘weave’
9. Text – to ‘weave’, pulling strands together
10. Gesang ist dasein – ‘song is existence’
11. Paratactic – additive/ Syntactic – subordinate
12. White berries = practical wisdom
13. Primary vs. 2ndary Orality (literary residue)
14. There is no such thing as a story, only the idea of a story – it only exists while being told
15. “How do you know what you think until you see what you say?” W.H. Auden
16. Agon – Greek for ‘battle’, having to do with Ong’s flyting
17. Mnemosyne – mother of muses
18. Epithet’s importance as a memory device and grab-bag for rhyming possibilities
19. Milman Perry – within a text there are complexes, themes, and formulas
20. What virtue is memory a part of? Prudence
21. Tabula Rossa, ‘blank slate’ – as we age more of our knowledge is erased
22. Aristotilian – induction/ Platonic – recollection
23. Mnemotechnics – Ram’s testicles
24. Define and give an example of flyting
25. Natural and Artificial memory