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Notes Towards Day 18: Reflecting on our Election (and Other) Choices

I. Reflecting on our Election (and other?) Choices

Study Shows Conservatives May Enjoy Humor More

II. More to say about Prodigal Summer?

what does the novel tell us about choosing?
who chooses? what part of what selves?
how much choice/free will does it give the characters?
how do their choices relate to
those of the animals around them?

52: "a thousand silent females ready to chose and make the world new"

79: "The unbearable, exquisite pleasure of being chosen."

97: "This day was going. Was gone already...all the choices she had thought she'd made for good."

188: "'Deanna had made an unlucky choice in an otherwise perfect morning...she'd chosen the route"

266: "'That's a startle response, not fear'...'that's not fear, that's disgust....' 'Foolish choices...People make them every day.'"

279: "Evolution isn't helter-skelter! It's a business of choosing things out."
323: "Most people lived so far from it, they thought you could just choose, carnivore or vegetarian, without knowing that...just clearing the land...had killed about everything on half the world."

We can choose what kind of story
we tell about what happens:
this story gets revised during the process of its telling.

This novel re-interprets the story of
what is "normal," what is "right" in farming...
about making different choices....
it turns a tragedy into a meaningful life....

The novel also gives us some guidance
about making multiple interpretations:

115: It had taken her a year to learn that when mountain people said "I don't care to," they meant the opposite of what she thought. They meant "I wouldn't mind."

131: Compost piles. "Laziness lots" would be a better name for them. "Stacks of sloth."

372: "people are suppposed to be dead and buried at our age. That's normal."
Another form of ambiguous figures: puns
(from Why Words Arise, re:
the gap between the sounds of words and what they mean...
a movement from disorder--what we do not comprehend; into order--the meaning we make of it; back to disorder--what cannot be incorporated into the story we tell; back to order--revising the story

We see that process, paradigmatically, in the playful constructions we call puns. There is a moment of puzzlement, followed by a solution ("Oh, I get it!"), followed by more puzzlement ("Isn't that curious; what is the logic of the resemblance?"), followed by another answer, a recognition of how shallow--or how deep--the resonance is. When we "get" a "perfect" pun ("Why couldn't the pony talk? He was a little horse/hoarse"), we are seeing simultaneously--or perhaps in such rapid oscillation that it seems simultaneous--two alternative meanings of the same word, or two alternative spellings of the same sound. What constitutes the peculiar pleasure of punning is the ability to switch rapidly back and forth, to hold two meanings in mind at (nearly) the same time ("What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft? A-flat minor/a flat miner"). Writing the puns out, as I have here, can ruin the fun, because it breaks apart what is the key to the game: the delight of doubling. But, once its logic is recognized, such doubling can also produce further play ("What do you get when you drop a piano onto a military base? A-flat major/a flat major").

Turning to choices about paper-writing/revising....
Grouped by theorist?