Monday, July 03, 2006

Moving On

I am officially on myspace now. If you want to see what I am up to, go to the link above.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Gather Ye Yeastbuds Whil'st Ye May

Gather Your Yeastbuds Whil’st You May
By Janet Bartholomew

In Memory of those Millions of Yeast Cells
Lost in the Great Lab Power-outage of 2006

R.I.P. (Rest in Petri-dishes)

Gather your Yeastbuds whil’st you may,
Old cells are still multiplying,
And that same cell that buds today,
to morrow will be dying.

The glorious Eden of yeast the plate,
The more cells he is growing,
The sooner will they be too great,
And nearer they to slowing.

That cycle is best which is the first,
Whil’st youth and genes are warmer,
Expect not then the last and worst,
Apoptosis succeeds the former.

Then not cry but use your cells,
And whil’st you may go dividing,
For having once but lost your gels,
Your life fore’er residing.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Haunted Library

Okay, so it has been a few days...weeks...months...but here I am again. I actually had completely forgotten about this blog of mine until I got a phone call from my father-in-law who managed to find it so many months after my last entry. So I figured, what they hey? Why not type in a few words and see if I can't breathe life into this pile of mud and dust?

Lots has happened since my last encounter with my blog here. I am frantically trying to finish up a seriously busy semester. I have three research papers and three exams all in three weeks here, and those of you who have been to graduate school knows what that entails. Basically, my life is my studying right now.

Currently, I am sitting in a very old library at an old university where my mind is wondering towards the world of Edgar Allen Poe. I am surrounded by stacks of ancient books as far as the eye can see. This library is truely a House of Leaves, for there are more rooms on the inside than appear on the outside. It is an eight story building, but one would never know, because the entrence is on the fourth floor. It is a maze of corridors and hidden rooms, of century old wooden desks and bolted shelves. The original building burst at the seems, so like the home of the Winchesters, rooms began to be added to appease the spirits haunting this place. When space ran out building sideways, it seems as though they began to add rooms to the top of the building. When they reached high enough, they began to dig caverns into the earth to house the abundance of manuscripts.

It is easy to imagine one living and dying here without a soul knowing. There are many hallways leading to rooms that appear as if out of nowhere. Shadows are abundant, and one can't help wondering if it was a lost soul or the flicker of a lightbulb that they had seen out of the corner of their eye. It smells old here, like nothing has disturbed its silence for over a hundred years. Picking off a book from the shelf, one could easily find a book that hadn't left the library since 1922. History is abundant here...not only in the books themselves, but in the bricked up window panes in the middle of the several shelves of books. What did the original structure look like? Was it a small two story miniature library or was it a three story structure with a basement? Did it have a floorplan that made sense or was it designed as a place where one could get lost in the literature?

A human could get lost in this maze of stairwells and elevators. Without an intimate knowledge of the library, it is easy to be caught in a stairwell that only goes up to the fifth floor or an elevator that will not go down to the floors three and below. Like jumping from one train to the other in the British underground, one has to transfer from one elevator to another, or one stairwell to another, in order to gain access to all levels of the library. Even then, there are still several rooms that I haven't been able to discover the entrence to. From the outside of the building, one can see two tourets rising high above the grassy quad. However, when visiting the floor these would appear on, there is no indication they exist. There are no locked doors, no rounded rooms, no spiral staircases. They simply do not exist.

There are many secrets to this old building which will never be unlocked. There are literally dozens of locked rooms storing secret treasures that have long been forgotten. Once I was sitting next to one such room. These small storage areas look like confessionals, with a small grate that you can't see into but one could see out of on the door. The walls fail to come down all the way to the floor, inviting the adventurous patron to grab a flashlight and look into the darkened world of the hidden library. On this particular day, a stack of loose papers was seductively peeking out of the modest haven. I grabbed the corner and tugged. It appears that I was sitting next to a trove of photocopies. These happened to be of books published in the 1800's. Why were they locked away? And why were they piled irreverently on the floor?

Who knows if I will ever unlock the mysteries of this place. Perhaps the librarians know. Maybe this is what they teach in library science: how to handle the secrets hidden within these walls.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The 12 Days of Finals

So besides recovering from the surgery and getting back to work, my semester ended without serious injury. I have written a tribute to the last few weeks. Some parts are true, and some are not as true, but all are based on fact, if not loosely. (Okay kids, this is a sing- along. Be sure to sing it at least in your head as you gets confusing if you don't.) Allow me to present to you…

The 12 Days of Finals

On the first day of finals, my professors do decried:

1. Write one Lit Anthology. (Not kidding!)

On the second day of finals, my professors so decried:

2. Research and write two papers. (Not bad.)
1. Write that book on the 17th Century. (Still not kidding.)

On the third day of finals, my professors so decried:

3. No, make that three papers. (Seriously!)
2. We hope you started the other papers. (Good thing I don’t procrastinate...riiiight!)
1. Make sure your book cover is pretty. (Okay…)

On the fourth day of finals, my professors so decried:

4. You need another “A” to get a 4.0. (No pressure.)
3. Those three papers need to be at least 8 pages long. (Still not bad.)
2. Two people should proofread your work. (Let's see, who owes me a favor...)
1. Your cover must tie in symbolically. (Say what?!)

On the fifth day of finals, my professors so decried:

5. Write five rough drafts! (Ideally, that is.)
4. Nevermind about the grades. (Calculation errors.)
3. Those papers should be longer. (Really?)
2. Two page works cited minimum. (No problem.)
1. Presubmit your topic unto me. (That’s due tonight?!)

On the sixth day of finals, my professors so decried:

6. Six points for grammar. (Thank God for spellcheck!)
5. Don’t put off writing! (Who, me?)
4. We rethought your 4.0. (And…?)
3. Stay tuned for paper length. (Oh come on!)
2. Your rough drafts are due today. (I’m on it.)
1. We loved your topic: Renaissance misogyny. (Go protofeminists!)

On the seventh day of finals, my professors so decried:

7. Seven days until they’re all due. (I’d better start writing.)
6. We will grade on content. (That’s subjective.)
5. Please email me! (Is there a limit?)
4. We will now grade on a curve. (Woohoo!)
3. Let us know of your research. (That’s a lot, are you sure?)
2. We’ll add attendance to your grade. (Yes!)
1. Now add an essay as an introductory. (What?!)

On the eighth day of finals, my professors so decried:

8. Eight page papers are too short. (So tell me how long they need to be…)
7. No wait, they’re due in five. (That’s what I thought.)
6. We have no rubric. (Great, I’m doomed.)
5. Questions? Just stop by! (Do your office hours go to 3am?)
4. Pick up your graded papers in the spring. (Darn!)
3. Cotton Mather’s use of scriptures is okay. (Who?)
2. Too late for conferencing. (Nooooooo!)
1. Include a table of contents in your anthology. (Fair enough…)

On the ninth day of finals, my professors so decried:

9. Nine cited sources, minimum. (I’m way ahead of you…)
8. Papers must be longer than nine pages. (How much longer.)
7. Four days left to work on these. (No problemo.)
6. Just do your best on mechanics. (My best, or your best?)
5. Don’t procrastinate! (Too late.)
4. We’ll post grades on WebCT. (Does anyone remember my login?)
3. Margaret Fell’s a great topic. (Great…who was she?)
2. Call us anytime. (Are you there at 6am?)
1. Explain in your intro a layout strategy. (Strategy?)

On the tenth day of finals, my professors so decried:

10. Ten pages is the paper maximum. (Finally!)
9. Your sources should be period. (Anyone have a 17th library I could borrow?)
8. If you go over your limit, penalties will ensue. (You’re kidding!)
7. Three days of working left. (Starting to panic…)
6. Titles are worth a point. (Just one?!)
5. Email your paper! (You mean I can stay home? Sweet!)
4. Check out the school site for your grades. (What happened to WebCT?)
3. Good luck finding period sources. (You’re telling me!)
2. Your transcription is incomplete. (But Mather’s handwriting is awful!)
1. Make sure your anthology fits your theme. (Okay...)

On the eleventh day of finals, my professors so decried:

11. The eleventh journal is due. (Ummm…)
10. Still ten pages each. (Only ten?)
9. Use EEBO for your research. (What are Latin books doing there?!)
8. Your works cited doesn’t count as a page. (Aww…not fair!)
7. Two days of writing left. (Panic: full throttle!)
6. Citations are worth ten points. (Where is that MLA handbook…)
5. Be sure you’re on time! (Eeek!)
4. Stop checking your grades, you’ll crash the system. (Oops!)
3. You don’t need to know Latin to read it. (Direct quote here…)
2. Your transcription is wrong; use mine. (Thanks, but the day before?!)
1. Take your book assignment seriously. (Aww, no fun themes!)

On the twelfth day of finals, my professors so decried:

12. Twelve people have turned theirs in. (Already?!)
11. Congrats, you turned in your journals! (Yay!)
10. Use Courier 10 to stretch your paper. (Again, direct quote…)
9. Good job using 17th sources. (I hate Latin!)
8. Make sure your margins are just an inch. (Drat!)
6. If you’re late, your grade will fall. (Come on email, send!)
5. We need a hard copy! (Of course the server would go down today!)
4. We don’t know when we’ll post your grades. (Great…)
3. Good use of Latin texts. (Three cheers for online translators!)
2. We got your three papers. (Thank God!)
1. Have one super-duper holiday. (Sleep…at last!)

For all of you doubters, here is a true Christmas miracle:

Despite the confusion, drama, illness, and panic, I still managed to pull off a 4.0.

God must have been an English major : )

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving Thesis

My mother found out that I had been linked to the fantastic website above. Imagine how tickled pink I was (and outright shocked) that someone actually read my blog! Let's hope this will be the first of many visitors to see Renaissance Woman. Now that I am nearly recovered from my surgery, I hope to be posting more, much to the dismay of many, I am sure. (I think my family is sick of my continual updated blog notifications.)

An interesting dilemma has occurred to which I do not know how to respond. I have approached the department head and Early Modern English professor with a thesis idea, for which I received approval and encouragement. My overprotective gradstudentism includes symptoms of paranoia that prevent me from getting too detailed lest another student stumbles across this site and steals my idea, so I will simply say that it involves an investigation into a particular use of the image of Queen Elizabeth I by some unnamed authors. I was stoked. I was excited. I was relieved that I had an idea so early in my program that I could begin working on, but then...

I managed to get another thesis idea approved quite by accident. Seriously.

I turned in an abstract for an end of the semester paper, and my prof got so excited about it, that she was speaking of it in terms of my thesis by the end of the conversation. In fact, she recommended layout ideas, topics and books to read, and even took me next door to meet another prof who would be of great help on the subject. Again, paranoia of thesis theft causes the vagueness of the description, but it was on the male definition of woman in the Renaissance and how some female writers used a particular device to redefine their gender in a more balanced and positive light. My prof suggested that I submit a thesis chapter as my paper on this topic. I left her office bewildered and unsure of what happened.

Needless to say, I have the opposite trouble that I had just a month ago when I was bewailing my lack of thesis ideas. The history of women must be written, and both ideas appeal to me, so I don't know what to do. Perhaps it will work itself out. More to come. I leave you now with a real passage of the first governor of Plymouth's writing. This is a true event of the first pilgrims, the discovery of a new land, and the icon of Thanksgiving: the turkey. (I tip my hat to my prof that introduced me to this wonderful piece of American history!)

William Bradford, On Plymouth Plantation, Norton Anthology of American Literature, Third Edition, Shorter, W. W. Norton and Company, New York, 1989, pages 46-47

From Book II, Chapter XXXII, Anno Dom: 1642

And after the time of the writing of these things befell a very sad accident of the like foul nature in this government, this very year, which I shall now relate.

There was a youth whose name was Thomas Granger. He was servant to an honest man of Duxbury, being about 16 or 17 years of age. (His father and mother lived at the same time at Scituate.) He was this year detected of buggery, and indicted for the same, with a mare, a cow, two goats, five sheep, two calves and a turkey. Horrible it is to mention, but the truth of the history requires it. He was first discovered by one that accidentally saw his lewd practice towards the mare. (I forbear particulars.) Being upon it examined and committed, in the end he not only confessed the fact with that beast at that time, but sundry times before and at several times with all the rest of the forenamed in his indictment. And this his free confession was not only in private to the magistrates (though at first he strived to deny it) but to sundry, both ministers and others; and afterwards, upon his indictment, to the whole Court and jury; and confirmed it at his execution. And whereas some of the sheep could not so well be known by his description of them, others with them were brought before him and he declared which were they and which were not. And accordingly he was cast by the jury and condemned, and after executed about the 8th of September, 1642. A very sad spectacle it was. For first the mare and then the cow and the rest of the lesser cattle were killed before his face, according to the law, Leviticus XX 15 and then he himself was executed. The cattle were all cast into a great and large pit that was digged of purpose for them, and no use made of any part of them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Star Trekking Across the Cagiverse

Here I am, laid out after my surgery, doped up on drugs with a pile of research to go through. I have two grad papers due right after Turkey day, and I am at home recovering this week, so I have plenty of time to study, except...


I had no idea how entertaining these little guys can be. Here I am, a busy grad student, fascinated by 16th texts and 18th century manuscripts, only to be hypnotized by two amazingly cute puff balls in a cage. I should be sleeping. I should be reading. I should be writing. But I just can't tear myself away from the entertainment that is my hamsters.

They are CRAZY! One is super hyper and very friendly while the other is grumpy and lethargic. But, oh! The trouble these two get into! And in such a small space! It is honestly like a tiny microcosm. You know what it is really like? Star Trek! You know, the really old one, where Kirk and Spock "explore" a planet together that is really only one video pane across and get into all kinds of trouble. I think Leviathan is a lot like Kirk and Behemoth is like Scotty having a bad day. Today's episode:

Captain Kirk vs. The Biscuit

A new biscuit appears on the bow of the Starship Enterprise. Apparently it appears overnight, and Kirk is the first on the scene. After checking it out with the new ensign, Kirk determines it is harmless until...zap! The ensign is killed by the biscuit and Kirk teleports back to the bridge. Scotty, furious that his engineering bay is under construction, hears of the attack of the foodstuff, but is unable to attend. Apparently there is a rupture in the core of the ship that only torn up tissue can fix, so he is busily repairing the warp drive. (It was still buried under the rubble of the dilithium mining that took place last night.) So Kirk, armed and alone, stealthily attacks the biscuit through the bars. It put up a mighty struggle; the battle could be heard throughout the galaxy! All seem lost for the crusty biscuit, and it fled in retreat. But Kirk, in a leap of masculine prowess, took a flying leap off the toilet paper roll and tackled the biscuit into the dust, where he proceeded to munch it to death. Scotty, having stabilized the warp drive core, managed to crawl out of the tissue rubble just in time to join Kirk for a celebratory drink at the water bottle.

The End

Good grief.. I so need to get off the couch.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mourning Over!

Okay, I'm over Trouble. Meet my two new hamsters! Below are links to pictures that look them. I'll let you know what they are up to!

This one is Behemoth:

This one is Leviathan:

I figured that if I gave them the names of two frightening monsters of biblical proportions, it may give them the courage to overcome their tiny stature. (Not really...I just thought it would be kind of funny!)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Death of a Hamster

I am at home sick today, and to make the event even more depressing, I am watching my little dwarf hamster die ever so slowly. Trouble has been acting strangely lately, and we have suspected that his end was near. He started biting me whenever I tried to pick him up, which helped me considerably to get over the impending loss. (I do believe I spent the last few weeks yelling at him and calling him names for biting me every time I tried to fill his bowl or change his water. I think we have emotionally separated and severed that nurturing owner-hamster bond beyond repair.) But still, even with the animosity I have been feeling towards my furry friend, I am feeling sorry for him. He went through a weird squeaking/chirping phase last week and has now fallen silent. Today I found him staggering about, unable to walk properly, and falling into narcoleptic fits mid-grass pellet. He finally collapsed at nine this morning, falling asleep over his food bowl. I had picked him up previously and he was completely unresponsive to my touch. I can see his little tummy rise and fall in painfully slow, shallow breaths, but he is out cold. I think he ate his last meal early this morning of sunflower seeds, a favorite of his because to him they are a kind of narcotic that is similar to catnip to cats.

I don't think he is suffering. He can't open his eyes and with his paws stretched out in front of him (which is an odd position for a hamster), he sort of looks like a sleeping puppy. When I saw him having trouble this morning, I went ahead and cleaned out his cage. I took him out and placed him on the carpet. At one time the revelation of cageless horizons would have sparked him into a curious romp about the living room, but not today. He didn't move at all. In fact, I don't even know if he was aware at all that he was outside his cage. He did, however, look rather lonely and cold. I bundled him loosely in a tissue (like he loved to do himself) and placed him in his cage. I gave him fresh water and filled his bowl with the last of his food, which was ironic because he just so happens to be dying on the first day in two years that I would have had to go buy a bag of hamster feed. He isn't interested. He isn't conscious. He is just slowly dreaming his life away.

And have to sit here and watch him.

It is no sad event. In fact, looking back over this little guy's life, he has really been through a lot of trauma. Being a classroom pet to 20 hyper inner city kids (who think poking a hamster with pencils is a sport) probably didn't prolong his life. I am forced to reflect on his death and the death of my previous hamster, who passed away alone in my classroom over last Thanksgiving break. I think that maybe I owe this one a better burial than Tribble. Being quickly chucked into a public dumpster before the children arrived that morning seems undignified somehow. I don't know what to do with this one. I thought about putting him outside to die a free hamster in the wild, but then I started thinking about the cold wind, stray cats, and scared hamster feelings. So his final moments will be here with me, in my living room, passing away to old reruns of "The Nanny" and "The Golden Girls". If I knew his favorite show, I am sure I would have it on. But alas, my hamster never developed the power of telepathy, so he is stuck leaving this world surrounded by my viewing choices.

I didn't know what to do with him after he's gone. I thought about what an honorific burial for a hamster might be, so I considered various options. A small funeral pyre is a heroic way to go, but I don't know if I could stand the burnt hamster smell or conduct it properly as not to catch anything else on fire, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it in our barbeque pit. I thought about burial, but I was afraid of what might happen to him. The last thing I need is for him to be dug up by a neighborhood stray or attract a bunch of ants to our house. (It took us forever to get rid of them the last time we were infested.) I don't think I could flush him, because there's nothing grosser than a hamster that is both dead AND wet. Again the dumpster option rears its ugly head. Trouble doesn't strike me as the type who cares where his body goes, as long as he is free from his cage. Some days I think that perhaps his loneliness was unbearable, but then my husband points out that his cranial capacity is such that he is incapable of feeling such a complex emotion, so the ignorance of his loneliness made him even more pitiable.

With nothing else to do besides sleep, take pain pills, and watch him die, I started writing some haikus about him. At first I thought that, although his loss isn't devastating, I should at least feel something sad. I know that these poem addressed to him are really for me, so I went ahead and wrote them anyway. That way, if he comes back as a human in the next life who can read English, he may wonder over to my blog and read what I had to say about his final days (although this is highly unlikely).

Trouble the Hamster
Be not troubled anymore
Cageless, you are free

Touching yes, but then I realized that although dwarf hamsters have a life expectancy of two years, so I was forced to reflect on what might have caused his departure a year early. I settled on his classroom experience with 20 seven-year-old students feeding him crayons probably had a little to do with it. So then I wrote:

Fuzzy little friend
I have heard that stress could kill
Sorry about that

This one struck me as kind of funny, so I then started entertaining funny hamster death poems, like:

Fluffy Hamster Wings
Carry you up to heaven
Will there be cheese?

Hamster heaven is
Mountains of sunflower seeds
But without the shells

Then I found one that was kind of in between:

Hamsters in heaven
Run on big wheels all day long
This time, they go places

I hope you get where you have always wanted to go, little buddy. So far, your trip appears to be a nice, long, peaceful journey. I guess that's all one could hope for in the end.

Pet, Friend,

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I can safely say that the city known as being the buckle of the bible belt does not celebrate Halloween like my hometown, but it isn't completely without it's spooky revelers. Sunday we threw a mini-Halloween bash done up in true old married couple style, starting with a nice dinner of appetizers and ending with playing a board game. (Settlers of Catan may seem like a simple agricultural game, but it can get very vicious!) I didn't win, but neither did my husband, who claims he didn't place a village near my territory (that eventually lost me the game) on purpose, so that made some consolation. I blackballed him the whole game and tried to get everyone else on board. I even went as far to help the victor when the game was coming to a head just to get my husband to loose. Revenge is a dish best served cold, after all! It was all in good fun, however, and I am looking forward to the next time we have enough people to play this game so that I can taste victory once again.

My home was incredibly witchy this Halloween, and I have to say I was very proud of it. Although we didn't get any trick-or-treaters, we still had a good time celebrating that night. We had apple cider and chili, a family tradition of my husband, and watched the Halloween specials on TV. My home is done up in lots of fall decorations, but I am most proud of my hearth. I strung up fall garland, hung my black cauldron in the fire place, and had my harvest broom leaning against the side of the freplace. Very, very witchy. I also had a bit of a witch's welcome when I came and left my apartment that day. We have a tall free-standing lamp right next to the door that you practically run into when you enter. As I came into the townhome, a big black furry spider dropped right in front of my face and hung there! I jumped back in surprise...what a great Halloween scare. I decided to let the spider live, partially because I was grateful for the funny scare but also in part of my guilt over clobbering his brother the day before with one of my heavy black clogs. I went to look for him later, but he was gone. As I was headed out the door for class that evening, I reached for the doorknob right by the lamp and Bam! The spider jumped from the lamp right in front of my face, twirling on his little strand of silk. It startled me so badly that I had to laugh. What a witchy thing to happen on Halloween!

Although I had class that night, which is kind of scary in and of itself, I felt like I needed to do something traditional for the holiday, so I went ahead and broke out my tarot cards. It was an interesting reading, rather ironic for what has been going on lately. It said that I was currently feeling burn-out but, in the end, this experience will improve my writing. A poet once told me that he does his best writing when he is angry, sad, or depressed. If this is true, I've got the next Pulitzer in the bag! Funny though, I have scored higher on my papers, quizzes, and exams since I have gotten so sick...could there be truth in this? Maybe I ought to do some thesis writing so when I get better I will be able to have good ideas to work with. Hmmm...

In the spirit of this holiday, I will leave you with a link to a short movie trailer spoof. It will only be funny if you have seen the scary movie "The Shining" however, so don't even bother if you haven't seen this Stephen King classic because you won't get it. Have a great week!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Janet Goes Batty

I'm back! I still have a little ways to go before I feel comepletely better, but I am doing well considering. Last week, before I fell sick, we had an interesting find at our office. Outside the window, in broad daylight, lay a little bat. Upon closer inspection, it was breathing shallowly and rapidly. We figured that he flew into the window and hurt himself. None of us expected him to make it. So do you know what my first thought was? Why, this would make a great haiku! (What can I say? I'm an English major!) Here it is:

broken little bat
curled up like a sleeping child
dream your life away

But the silly little thing DIDN'T die! In fact, it lay there in the same spot panting away for three more days. Finally, our office animal-advocate couldn't take it anymore, and she called animal control. She just couldn't watch such a cute little thing die out there. So they came with their steel-lined leather gloves and clear plastic containers and went to go get our bat. There it lay, all curled up, cute and furry, so innocent, so peaceful. That is, until they went to pick it up and put it in the container. All of a sudden its wings started flapping, the feet started scratching, and it let out the most blood-curdling shreaks! In one second our meek adorable pet transformed into an Alfred Hitchcock movie! Our poor heroine jumped back frightened, as they wrangled the bat into the box. We had no idea that thing had so much life in it still! The animal control people told us that sometimes bats get disoriented and stay in one spot for a long time until they get their sonar straightened out. They were going to test it for rabies then let it go in the wild. After such a scare, I don't think the animal-advocate really cared if they had to kill the thing!

If there was one thing I learned from my mini vacation at the hospital last week it is that Rachel Speght's _Mortalities Memorandum_ does NOT make good ER reading material! Here is a sample of what it is about:

The manner of Death's comming, How 'twill be,
God hath conceal'd to make vs vigilant.
Some die by sicknesse, others by mishap,
Some die with surfeit, other some with want:
Some die by fire, some perish by the sword,
Some drown'd in Water swim unto the Lord.

And it goes on and on and on. How depressing! It was not good to read when pondering my OWN mortality! But I want to leave on a high note, so here is some of the O-So-Sexy John Donne:

Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be,
To taste whole joys...I am naked first; why then
What needst thou have more covering then a man.

-1633, "Elegy XIX: To His Mistress Going to Bed"

Mmmmm...yummy...I'm lovin' it!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Looking for Leviathan

Who's afraid of the big bad _Leviathan_? I have been hearing horror stories about reading this monster of a text, so to gear up for this week, I read many different commentaries and summaries to help me understand the chaos that is Hobbes. My fellow students warned me it would be difficult to understand. My prof decided not to give us a writing assignment on it because she feared we might self-combust or riot against her. So apprehensively I cracked my book open to the introduction of this behemoth of literature and...

Lo and behold, I loved it! _Leviathan_ is not unlike the monster in your closet, ever present and lurking in the darkness, terrifying your six year old self until you confront it by opening the door and peeking inside with your flashlight. Needless to say, we didn't have to read the entire thing. We only read about 100 pages or so of various chapters. He is rather Darwinian and I liked his sense of pessimism. Unfortunately he made it clear that he was writing only about MEN for MEN, so I felt a little left out because I wasn't invited to play. However, he did manage to throw in an interesting blurb about women every now and then, just to put us in our place. (You know, can't let the women think this political talk could apply to them!) Here is an interesting passage, which I took out of context, since it was used to argue why women should not be the head of the household:

"In Commonwealths this controversy is decided by the civil law: and for the most part, but not always, the sentence is in favour of the father, because for the most part Commonwealths have been erected by the fathers, not by the mothers of families. But the question lieth now in the state of mere nature where there are supposed no laws of matrimony, no laws for the education of children, but the law of nature and the natural inclination of the sexes, one to another, and to their children. In this condition of mere nature, either the parents between themselves dispose of the dominion over the child by contract, or do not dispose thereof at all. If they dispose thereof, the right passeth according to the contract. We find in history that the Amazons contracted with the men of the neighbouring countries, to whom they had recourse for issue, that the issue male should be sent back, but the female remain with themselves: so that the dominion of the females was in the mother."
- Thomas Hobbes, _Leviathan_, 1651

Although we women were not really invited to this commonwealth tea party he hosts, there was a lot said that could be applied to how governments are run today. He complains about the tendency of commitees to squabble and get nothing done, as well as the problems of just letting the aristocracy run the show. However, where we would be crying, "elect a president", Hobbes is shouting, "establish an absolute monarchy!" Ummm...okay Hobbes, whatever...

You can't blame the guy. I mean, he was and Englishman stuck in Paris writing _Leviathan_ as his country duked it out in a civil war. After several years, I think any of us might have chosen an absolute monarchy just to stop the bloody thing. After all, as Hobbes pointed out, man in nature alone is fine, but put two men together with a stick, and suddenly you get jealousy, greed, violence, and lust after a stupid twig. Why? Because deep down we are all two years old and want what others have regardless of what it is. Luckily for us, instead of bashing each other over the head with clubs and swiping each other's rocks, Hobbes points out that our biggest motivator is a fear of death. That is the only reason we decide to put down our weapons and try to get along as a society. Way to go Hobbes, pointing out how we humans always strive for the greater good!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Battle of the Sexes: Renaissance Style

After a whirlwind of writing activity this weekend, I managed to get my paper done! Huzzah! It is on the humanist misogyny that influenced the protofeminist movement of pro-women’s education in the classics. I know many of you are just dying to read my paper (yeah…right!) and I will be happy to send it to you if you email me for it. Just promise not to copy it, because I know all of you are taking an Early Modern women’s prose and poetry class right now! (To those engineers and meteorologists out there…you don’t know what you’re missing!)

It is now officially cold here and I am bundling up just to sit around the house. No matter what our thermostat is on, it still feels chilly. The leaves are beginning to turn and the smell of bonfires fills the air. I am beginning to miss summer already! Luckily I have a plethora of wool socks to see me through.

Not much going on today. I am getting geared up for my next paper on Rachel Speht’s heated response to Joseph Swetnam’s “The Araignment …of Women” in her “Muzzle of Melastomous.” I will close with a quote. He published his anti-woman text anonymously and Speght, being so infuriated by his sexist claims, actually tracted down the publisher and got him to tell her who wrote it. Her piece actually exposed his identity to the world, opening him direct criticism by women, but unfortunately his popularity was so immense that once his name was know, many wrote of his praises. (Doh!)


“Many propositions have you framed, which (as you think) make much against Women, but if one would make a Logical assumption, the conclusion would be said against your own Sex. Your dealing wants so much discretion that I doubt whether to bestow so good a name as the Dunce upon you: but Minority bids me to keepe within my bounds; and therefore I only say unto you, that your corrupt Heart and railing Tongue, hath made you a fit scribe for the Devil.”
- Rachel Speght,_A Mouzell for Melastomus_,1617

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Premiere Blogging

Greetings y'all! I decided it was time to jump on the blog-bandwagon and add my own two cents on the internet. Things have been crazy here in Music City, USA. We went from summer to autumn overnight, and although I was excited to break out the sweaters, I am remembering now what I dislike about cold weather: frozen fingers! Nothing a little hot chocolate won't fix...actually, there ISN'T anything chocolate can't fix! I pulled out all of the Halloween decorations and our home is decorated with the lively splash of fall colors. I even set out a tub of candy for the trick-or-treaters we get (mainly Clinton and I, with the occasional friend). Moving here has made it difficult to be pro-Halloween. Not many celebrate it in this city. I have learned a lot about the "Southern Christian" mentality since moving here and I have to say, although we have our differences, it is kind of fun to be challenged on a regular basis!

But all is not lost...the psychic fair is in town! : ) There are little pockets of magicky goodness to be found in this land of spiritual conservatives. Unfortunately for me, however, this weekend I am bogged down with homework. Actually, I shouldn't say bogged down...I absolutely adore what I do. It is very time consuming but I love every minute of it. (I say that now before doing my Ren Lit homework...reading exerpts from Hobbes _Leviathan_...ugh!) I have a paper due on Monday on some articles on women's education in Early Modern (the politically correct term for Renaissance now) England. It is amazing how far we have come and yet we have so much in common with the women of the past. I am sure you will hear lots about it later.

With that, I will leave you with a great quote from one of my new favorite Early Modern misogynists Joseph Swetnam from his _The Araignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women or the Vanity of Them, Choose you Whether_ published in London, 1615:

"Women are called night Crows for that commonly in the night they will make request for such toys as cometh in their heads in the day, for women know their time to work their craft. For in the night they will work a man like wax and draw him like as the Adament doth the Iron. And having once brought him to the bent of their bow, then she makes request for a gown of the new fashion stuff, or for a petticoat of the finest stamell, or for a hat of the newest fashion; her husband being overcome by her flattering speech and partly he yieldeth to her request, although it be a grief to him for that he can hardly spare it out of stock. Yet for quietness sake he doth promise what she demandeth, partly because he would sleep quietly in his bed. Again, every married man knows this, that a woman will never be quiet if her mind be set upon a thing till she have it."

Even our 17th century sisters new how to work it! Ha ha :)