Archive for October, 2010

Postmaster Faulkner

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Here’s an short & interesting albeit dated article from The New York Times about Faulkner and his work as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi.  According to this article, Faulkner allegedly sucked big-time.  Faulkner was accused of negligent behavior on the job: throwing away mail, playing golf, reading rather than helping customers.  He held the position for three years until he was forced to resign.  However, despite his questionable behavior, a professor discovered a series of letters between Faulkner and the university chancellor that somewhat redeem his previous bad reputation as a lackluster postmaster.  In any case, he has a stamp in his honor to make up for it.

William Faulkner was a Man Slut

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

So here’s my second post ripping into Faulkner.  I was doing a little bit of Wikipedia research into him and I couldn’t help but notice his colorful and patchy relationships with women.  In class, we mentioned his complicated relationship with his wife, Estelle, since he was the (slighted?) second husband.  However, he had a number of extramarital affairs.  But most of these weren’t really flings, but full-blown relationships that lasted a couple of years.  Wikipedia (yeah, I know, Wikipedia) lists five total.  Yet it sounds like Faulkner & Oldham stuck it out, which makes me curious about the dynamics of their relationship; I haven’t found anything conclusive just on the Internet.  Although from this biographical information it seems as if Faulkner had complex and curious relationship with women.

Faulkner’s Military ‘Experiences’

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Apparently William Faulkner only stood at 5′ 5 1/2″ or 5′ 6″ according to some sources.  Because of his height he wasn’t allowed to enlist in the U.S. Army during the First World War, so he decided to join the British Royal Flying Corps instead and tried to pass himself off as British, accent and all.  Although he trained at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, Faulkner never witnessed any wartime action himself.  The war ended before he finished training.  But that didn’t stop him from over-exaggerating telling his war stories. When he returned home to Oxford he went on about his exploits and his injuries, one of which supposedly ended up with a silver plate in his head.  He falsely acquired an RAF lieutenant’s uniform and strutted about in it. Faulkner even enrolled at Ole Miss under a special program for war veterans.

Scary photo for Halloween

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Continuing the Hollywood theme we’ve got running here, I thought I would post this great photo taken of Faulkner while he was working as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

Faulkner in Hollywood

Fun bit of trivia from Faulkner’s Hollywood days:

In 1932 Faulkner went dove hunting with Howard Hawks (a director) and a friend of his, an actor named Clark Gable (the guy who played Rhett Butler in GWTW, of course). Hawks began talking with Faulkner about books, during which Gable remained silent. Finally, Gable asked Faulkner who he thought were the best living writers. After a moment, Faulkner answered, “Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos, and myself.”

Gable paused for a moment and said, “Oh, do you write?”

“Yes, Mr. Gable,” Faulkner said. “What do you do?”

Both from:   http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/faulkner/faulkner.html

A Horrible Holiday Intrusion

Friday, October 29th, 2010

As from the time I write this blog, a recent explaination from Richards about the character Anse interested me. In explaining some of the character’s characteristics, the description of Anse’s mooching tendencies were notable, especially how Anse’s false teeth would improve his ability to “take in” food. In other words, Anse posses what may be described as a vampire-like nature, in which he feeds off the other characters–especially his children–for his own benefit. Now, I could go on to list traditional (or at least, prevailing) vampiric features that could be applied to Anse and then justify my claims with more ramblings. (I’m sure you’d love that.) But the focus on the false teeth seems most promising: While the now cliche feature of sucker fangs is found in the classic Vamp fic text of Stroker’s Dracula and Rymer’s Varney the Vampire, in the folkloric version prominent teeth as such are found lacking and it wasn’t until Christopher Lee donned the Drac cape that the mainstream film version got orally armed in 1958.* While the holiday parasites still can be found without fangs among fiction, film and whatever, I find it interesting how a characteristic can define a character or, rather, a character-type. After all, Anse spent most of the text toothless where he did most of the mooching–the false teeth were the aim of his endless taking.

On that joyful note, try to enjoy the rest of your Halloween! 😀

* Earlier films such as the infamous “Nosferatu”, a Turkish take of Dracula and a girl/vamp version of “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” called “Blood of Dracula” have included fangs but they aren’t counted here because of the kicker word “mainstream” and the fact that the former two weren’t even available to the American film audience, to whom the archetype mainly developed.

Source: “The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead” by J. Gordon Melton, Visible Ink Press, 1994

Omniscent Narrating?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

We read a lot in the criticisms for last class about Faulkner’s role and authorial voice in the novel and the lack of a unifying omniscient narrator. My question from last class pertained to the italicized pieces that occur mainly in Darl’s chapters, but in Varadaman’s as well. When I first began reading the novel, I thought these pieces suggested a stream of consciousness- a link directly into the thoughts of the chapter’s narrator, but on page 30, in Darl’s chapter, the last sentence of the italicized piece reads- “I am I and you are you and I know it and you don’t know it and you could do so much for me if you just would and if you just would then I could tell you and then nobody would have to know except you and me and Darl” It cuts back to the narration of Addie’s death before the sentence ends. Is this another Freudian psychoanalytic tool- suggesting that Darl’s identity is split, that he is a torn, tormented individual long before he finally ‘snaps’ and is committed to the asylum? If this is the case, then we would have to commit to the assumption that Darl was actually insane, rather than overcome with grief, or merely different from the dominant and only acceptable way of behavior in the South- sort of anachronistic in his family relationships. On the next italicized piece, Darl ends the chapter speaking to Jewel- “Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead” (p. 31) Once again the italics are cut off without a period, suggesting that there is more to be said, that Darl’s thoughts are not fully complete. What do you all think is Faulkner’s intent in employing these pieces?

Lets stick to the facts

Friday, October 29th, 2010

I found these articles trying to understand Faulkner’s state of mind while he wrote his prize winning literature.  First I came across This Article where a psychologist, Dr. Ian Smith, explains that drugs and alcohol’s effect on creativity is a myth, and that:

“The American writers Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway were addicted to alcohol, said Dr Smith, speaking at a Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting in Edinburgh. The poets Coleridge and Keats took opiates, as did the writers Proust and Edgar Allan Poe, while the painter Vincent van Gogh drank the potent spirit absinthe, he added.  The American writers F Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill and William Faulkner all received the Nobel Prize for Literature and all were alcoholics, said Dr Smith.”

So obviously, according to practical science, it has no positive effect, all these artists just happened to use drugs and alcohol coincidentally.  Furthering his claim that “When you try and capture the experiences [triggered by drugs or alcohol] they are often nonsense. These drugs often wipe your memory, so it’s hard to remember how you were in that state of mind.”

The second article, which I found hilarious, is a Faulkner “article” in the Uncyclopedia.  Here Faulkner is placed under the lens of pop culture.  Here you can find quotes like:
“In Soviet Russia, barn burns You!”
William Faulkner on Russian Reversal
“Poor Faulkner, does he really thinking big emotions come from big words?”
Ernest Hemingway on William Faulkner

Im quite sure these quotes are not true as they are not cited, but it is still a funny article to me.  The disclaimer at the bottom states “This article is funny because it is written in the real or imagined writing style of its subject.”  So be aware.

My mother is a fish.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

In the age of easily made and mass produced t shirts, it seems that no reference or quote is safe from being put onto  someone’s chest.  I decided to search, “My mother is a fish” and in doing so, I found this extraordinarily bland tee: Seeing this shirt has made me want to create my own, more interesting version of this shirt.  Maybe Stephen won’t be the only one have shirts related to our texts.

Disability in “As I Lay Dying”

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

This semester I am taking a course called Disability and Literature with Dr. Foss. We began the semester with reading Disability Theory and now we have moved into reading texts and looking at them under a different light. Some of you may have heard Kathleen say she and I were sick of Faulkner before we even picked up As I Lay Dying because we had just finished The Sound and the Fury in Foss’s class. Disability is obviously a theme in both of these novels.

Since we are reading AILD in this class I thought I would bring up a passage I found interesting. From the beginning of this novel Darl seems to be our most “trustworthy” narrator. It is argued that this is only because we are getting the most information out of him, and therefore we are forced to believe it. However, towards the end of the novel Darl must be committed to a mental institution for burning down a barn. And we no longer have Darl as a a reliable narrator. The honor is passed on to Cash.

Right before Darl is taken away Cash makes an interesting comment. “Sometimes I aint so sho who’s got ere a right to say when a man is crazy and when he aint. Sometimes I think it aint none of us pure crazy and it aint none of us pure sane until the balance of us talks him that-a-way. It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, but it’s the way a majority of folks is looking at him when he does it” (134). This passage is a perfect for analyzing under the microscope of Disability Theory.

How did Darl sunddenly become so crazy? Was it because the loss of his mother was finally getting to him? Or was it simply because committing him is what would save the family from being sued by the Gillespies? Cash seems to think his brother isn’t actually crazy, but his actions of burning a barn were. You don’t see any of the family fighting the fact that he is being shipped off to an insane asylum either. In Disability and Literature we would have a discussion as to whether Darl truly is crazy or is it just the way we as readers (reading copious amounts of scattered stream of consciousness narrative) or as the characters see him? I just thought it was an interesting point to bring up. And a very insightful thought an impartial character like Cash has made. I’d like to know what others think about Darl’s “sentence.”

Oh and I tried finding some info on the Jefferson Asylum and this was about all I found. I think it’s kind of creepy that the original location of the places is now home to the University of Mississippi Medical Center…

The Rüppell’s Vulture

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

All of this talk about “buzzards” in As I Lay Dying made me think of a bird I recently stumbled upon on the internet called the Rüppell’s Vulture.  You could argue that vultures and buzzards are basically the same.  Their names are pretty much interchangeable.  Anyways, I thought it’d be interesting to share information about this carnivorous scavenger.

The Rüppell’s Vulture is usually found across central Africa, in countries such as Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Guinea.  It’s name comes from the German explorer/collector/zoologist, Eduard Rüppell.  They are usually just over 3 feet tall, but have a wingspan of about 8.5 feet.  This places their weight between 15 and 20 pounds.  They even fly at over 20 mph.

When searching for food, its not uncommon for them to fly up to 20,000 feet, or almost 4 miles, above sea level.  However, they can go much higher.  This is pretty much the reason I wanted to share this bird with the class.  It has been recorded to fly up to 37,000 feet. Meaning, the bird was flying around at about 7 miles about sea level. The only reason this was know was because this is the altitude level in which planes travel. (P.S. the poor little guy got sucked into the jet engine.)

These birds are noted for being social, but there has been a decline in their activity. “A decline in the range of these very social birds is partly a result of their being used in black magic.”  So, apparently in the African countries in which they are found, people are hunting them to use as ingredients for their black magic.  I guess I can understand why they fly at over 4 miles about the Earth’s surface to search for food.  I would too if I was hunted like that.

Here is a bonus infographic about the extremes of height and depth of Earth (this is where I first heard about this vulture): http://www.truthistreason.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/infographic_height_depthof-Earth.jpg

Sources:

  1. http://www.avianweb.com/ruppellsvultures.html
  2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/species/R%C3%BCppell%27s_Vulture
  3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/7952480/Pilots-put-on-alert-after-vulture-escapes-handler.html