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Towards Day 23 (Tues, Apr. 10): "Orchidelirium"

Anne Dalke's picture

I. coursekeeping
for Thursday, finish The Orchid Thief
--and think about how you might make a film out of it:
what is the primary subject? what might the visuals look like?
what would the tonality be? what sort of score would you use?

II. from our (irreducible!) Sunday evening conversation....

froggies315 & Ayla on the questions of The Wicked Child
dglasser: Tralfamadorians = Stoics in an anti-Stoicism novel
Alicia and leamirella on free will and choice
KT on reading the serenity prayer--as ironic or @ face value?
leamirella & Ayla on "the shape" of human knowledge (excluding humanities0
sterrab: "unstuck in time BUT "trapped in the amber of the moment"
kobieta, vspaeth, Ayla & EGrumer on
"what Vonnegut is really saying" --> do something!?

III. Before we turn to the passages in Orleans'
book which you've selected for discussion...

let's begin by describing the title object....
what do you see? what does it suggest to you?
(write for 5 minutes: what does this "look like"?)

[according to Orleans, what the ghost orchid looks like]
p. 39: the face of a man with a Fu Manchu mustache...
an ethereal and beautiful flying white frog...
p. 43: a bandy-legged dancer ... a fairy...
p. 258: snow-white, white as sugar, white as lather, white as teeth...
its shape...the peaked face with the droopy mustache of petals,
the albino toad with its springy legs....

let's read and interpret a few passages together...

Anne's reading notes
subtitle: "A True Story of Beauty and Obsession"

p. 29: "I didn't care all that much whether what he said
was true or not; I just found the flow irresistable."

p. 38: " was about orchids that sedued humans
so completely.... 'Oh, mystery, beauty, unknowability....
the real reason is that life has no obvious
meaning....I think everybody's always loking for something
a little unsuual that can preoccupy them...'"

p. 41: "I wanted to want something as much as people
wanted these plants, but...I think people my age are
embarrassed by too much enthusiasm and believe that
too much passion about anything is naive...I want to know
what it feels like to care about something passionately...
strong feelings always make me skeptical..."

p. 45: "no flower is more guarded against self-pollination
than orchids ....each orchid species has made itself irresistible"

p. 68: "The Victorians...set out to categorize the living diversity...
locating, identifying, and classifying....the Victorians looked for
order in the univese, an outline that could organize their knowledge...
and rationalize the meaning of existence"

p. 93: "botany by imagination"

p. 100: "as long as I have it, I still sort of have the moment when I got it"

p. 109: "the reason it matters to care passionately about something is
that it whittles the world down to a man manageable size. It makes the
world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility. If I had been an
orchid hunter I wouldn't have seen this space as sad-making and vacant
--I think I would have seen it as acres of opportunity where the things I
loved were waiting to be found."

p. 123: "Florida is... as suggestible as someone under hypnosis.
Its essential character can be repeatedly reimagined."

p. 127: "the place had a wierd overfull was full of the
feeling of a million things planned on and never done."

p. 136: "Laroche...had started to the endpoint in a continuum
....the oddball ultimate of those people who are enthralled by non-human
living things and who pursue them like lovers."

p. 145: [taking credit for a new hybrid that some one else created is] "conceptual
theft....For a Buddhist it would be spiritually incorrect to protest about intellectual