black hermione

Don’t you love it when things you thought about all the time when you were younger and assumed were silly are validated by other people who also secretly thought the same thing? Enter this article.

The problem with articles like this is that it’s preaching to the choir, which is self-gratifying, but rarely does it accomplish anything. It makes me sad.

Then there’s also what Neesha Meminger said, which can be applied to literature, movie casting, political party affiliation, and tons of other things:

But here’s the thing. For some people, being “political” is not a choice. Stating that racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc., exist – to some folks – is simply stating a reality, while others have the luxury (privilege) to choose not to address it, engage with it, or even acknowledge it. I’m not really sure what a polarizing political post is – maybe a call to action? But I do think it’s good for agents to state their preferences, just as I think it’s good for writers to continue stating their views. Because, really, there are no apolitical views. The political runs through our day-to-day lives, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Choosing not to write political posts IS a political act. Choosing not to see “colour” or race IS a political act. Choosing not to engage in discourse around power and privilege is exercizing that very privilege, and it is most definitely a political act.

I guess this little compilation is just my way of saying that I want to be a part of the people who engage in political acts that counter the dominant norm. And that’s not even going to do much, because for the most part I am in Meminger’s group–that is, the people who have no choice not to acknowledge those things, because they are a reality. So I hope people who do have the choice make the better one–to acknowledge it.

why learning literature is silly

This is the first college semester that I have felt challenged and educated. Truly. And it’s the first semester that I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed. It’s not that every class I’ve taken has been awful, but a lot of them have, and even the ones that were awful were not really challenging. Honors classes are generally shitty, except for my intro to ethnomusicology class and the honors contract I did in my literary analysis class. And there is a difference between a class being hard and a class being challenging, which is why I’m not counting music theory or neuroscience. Theory started out challenging and quickly turned into a place where I was completely lost and just maintained a B every semester by luck, and neuroscience was horrible, because everything we learned in this supposedly general education course was prefaced with “But you already know all this other stuff, so we’re just going to build on that,” when nutrition and weather gen eds in no way taught me anything about actual science.

Anyway. This semester I’m taking Spanish lit, which challenges me because my reading skills and my formal writing skills in Spanish are really poor. It drives me crazy that I don’t know conventions or rules about the tone to take, whether to say “we,” “I,” or “the reader,” etc. And even though many of the people in my class are terrible at Spanish and have no idea what’s going on, it challenges me to have to work out my ideas about literature in another language. I was finally getting to the point that I really felt like I had an aptitude for literary analysis and conversation in English, and now I have to find a way to do close reading in my second language and to find the vocabulary to discuss things. So that is good.

Then I’m taking three English classes: non-fiction prose, Victorian literature, and British literature through 1660. They are all going well, and it’s giving me the opportunity to finally read those things that everyone has read, like the Canterbury Tales and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I have a lot of homework, but not so much that I can’t handle it, and it’s keeping me on my toes.

But it’s also pretty sad that I’m 22 and have never read most of this stuff, even though I’m pretty well-read. There is a problem when you’re reading Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” for the first time and you think that one stanza is making the point that “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved before,” and that’s when you learn that this poem is where that freaking line is from. And it’s also sad that we read books and watch movies inspired by classic literature, or using things that are now cliche that originated in classic literature, before we read the actual works. I was disappointed when reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, because I didn’t know if I would actually be surprised at the twist at the end, because the whole effing world knows that they’re the same guy. It’s not a difficult book to read, and there’s no reason that you couldn’t study it in 6th grade instead of 16th.

Reading more classic works at a younger age would a) make you smarter and probably more apt to be a good reader on your own, b) make you less stupid when you enter college, c) leave you to discover more obscure works from historical periods once you’re in college, and d) give you a chance to also study contemporary literature in high school and college, because it’s just as valid to know what’s getting written now and what was written recently as it is to know literature’s foundations. I really hate that I know next to nothing about the 20th century post-WWII, because neither my history courses nor my literature courses, in high school and college, found them valid to teach. That, or they had no time to teach them, because my teachers were busy catching me up on Christopher Columbus.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t also read contemporary literature when you’re younger. I think it’s great that in elementary school and middle school I studied Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 and Stargirl. But let’s be honest. Most of middle school is a waste of time, because it’s the worst time of adolescence, and you don’t even get to escape by actually learning things, because somehow administrators think that they shouldn’t make puberty harder on you by providing you with an education while you’re going through it. Honestly, you’d probably be better off being truant for three years than going to middle school, at least in Tucson. So I propose that middle school become the time when you start learning real things, so that other people don’t have to go to college and feel positively behind and stupid because they never got around to teaching themselves Middle English when they were 14.

accentuate the positive

So all those times I’ve said here, or in my journal, or my myself, “Today I start my applications?” Yeah, didn’t happen. Soon they will. I’ve lost a little faith in my ability to be a hard worker when it’s all about self motivation, but at the same time, I’ve also become a much better student this semester. I’ve never in my life (or at least since elementary school) been so dedicated to my homework as to actually do it, consistently, whenever it’s assigned. It’s a pretty amazing feeling, being competent at school.

New Jewish year (5771), new school year, new age year (22), and what feels like a new life. My birthday was once again an exercise in learning whom here I matter to, and it was very few people. But it doesn’t even feel sad. I’m very happy with what I have, and I haven’t had many bouts of sadness since May. I’m amazed with myself. Positivity is awesome.