Tuesday, February 24, 2009

attack of the erotic

I'm led to the inexorable conclusion that my fellow humanities grad students aren't getting much, if any, because nobody who's actually having sex can think about sex ("eros," as they rather pretentiously and inaccurately term it) as much as they do. It took most of my self-possession not to guffaw today when one of them--about Jane Eyre, no less--claimed that Jane's consumptive friend Helen becomes an object of erotic desire because we first see her reading. The twisted path by which this conclusion reached was another one of those examples of faulty syllogisms (reading is depicted as desirable, by which we can only mean one kind of desire; Helen Burns is associated with reading, therefore Helen Burns is desirable). Friendship or parts of human experience outside the sexual never seem to enter anyone's mind. Ergo, Dr. Shannon's prescription is more sex, immediately, or at least some very raunchy porn.

If my last few posts have been a bit joyless, I am actually enjoying most of my classes this semester. Today's discussion of Jane Eyre may lead me to grudgingly admit that there's something beyond schadenfreude to appreciate in the book; a parallel structure exists within that in turn points to a kind of earthly paradise achieved in its second half (same number of cousins, but better cousins, and plenty of others, too) but the unsatisfactory nature of this earthly paradise suggests that the Christian utopian element isn't quite as simple as it seems at first. St. John Rivers is a pretty nasty specimen, in other words. As much as I declaim the incursions of comparative literature students, I've colonized their department as well, and enjoy every Monday (almost on an aesthetic level) the erudition of Robert Alter. I'm grateful for the opportunity to read books all the way through, as we're doing with Mimesis, The Dialogic Imagination, Genesis, The Odyssey, and Ulysses.

Today I got an anonymous note from someone, returning a sensitive document I left in a library book. If that person reads this blog, сбасибо большое, тимофей пнин.

Posted by Shannon Chamberlain @ 3:11 PM