Monday, March 27, 2023

About Great Expectations

Watching the latest TV iteration of Great Expectations and suddenly I'm 18 again and in a tutorial and Dr Chris Brooks of blessed memory pretty much devotes all 90 minutes to the first paragraph, including his contention that “Pip” represents potential, but also something apparently insignificant that might be spat out.

“Great Expectorations,” I say and immediately wish I hadn’t.

And Chris looks at me with an expression not unlike the one that Miss Havisham bestows on Pip when she first sees him, but with less warmth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

About World Poetry Day

It is, apparently, so I did one. 

‘On Watching A Noah Baumbach Movie’ 

The dialectical sparring created 
an intellectual conflagration so intense 
it burned their minds beyond recognition 
and they could only be identified 
by reference to their high school transcripts.

Friday, March 17, 2023

About Nadine Dorries

For no particular reason, I asked ChatGPT to write a sonnet about Nadine Dorries and, intriguingly, it’s just about bad enough to be a sonnet written by Nadine Dorries (if the former Culture Secretary knew what a sonnet was). 

Fair Nadine, who in politics finds her place,
Her voice is heard with vigor and with grace,
She stands for values, for freedom and for right, 
And battles those who seek to dim the light. 
With passion, she defends the common folk, 
And fights for justice, always without cloak, 
Her heart is true, her mind is clear and bright, 
And with her words, she challenges the might. 
Her spirit soars, unbound by fear or doubt, 
And with her strength, she leads the righteous rout, 
For she believes in truth and in what's just, 
And in her cause, she puts her sacred trust. 
So let us hail fair Nadine's noble heart, 
For in her work, she plays a vital part.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

About bad writing

Alan Moore
Read terrible books, because they can be more inspiring than good books. If you’re inspired by a good book, there is always the danger of plagiarism, of writing something too close to it. Whereas a genuinely helpful reaction to a piece of work that you’re reading is: ‘Jesus Christ, I could write this shit.’ It’s immensely liberating. Analyse what they’re doing badly and you’ll discover all the mistakes not to make.

And, in the course of a pretty depressing article about the death of English Literature as an academic discipline, Nathan Heller attempts to clarify Lionel Trilling’s notions about why it might still matter:
... one of those pursuits, like acupuncture or psychoanalysis, which seem to produce salutary effects through mechanisms that we have tried but basically failed to explain.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

About not reading and not knowing

Yet again, life throws up a nugget that could have found a home in my dissertation. From Mark Bauerlein:
In my limited experience as a teacher, I’ve noticed in the last 10 years that students are no less intelligent and no less ambitious but there are two big differences: reading habits have slipped, along with general knowledge. You can quote me on this: you guys don't know anything.

PS: From a deliriously depressing series about the decline of civility in modern Britain, a view from the further education sector: “Anything unfamiliar prompts either deep anxiety or aggression.”