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Towards Day 14 (Mon, Mar. 17): "the way we inter-are"

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Coursekeeping
* Welcome back! any "breaking" environmental anecdotes?

* sent Sophia feedback/will talk through the entire 360 @ supper,
6:30 on Wednesday in the London Room (bring your supper!)

* heads up re: two useful interactive workshops @ HC on Sat, Mar 29:
Evalyn Perry on feminism, noon-2; and
Paula Palmer on destruction of indigenous culture, 3-5 p.m.

sign up for conferences w/ Ava this week,
to discuss your creative projects, due a week from today

* report on planning/adjustments for remainder of semester: field trips-->
Fri, Mar 21: Wissahickon
we will NOT be going to Mill Grove; others TBA once we schedule the story slam...

* Dorceta Taylor's visit: those who attended the talk,
fill in Kelsey, Jessica, Lisa (who else didn't make it?):
what did you learn/not learn/what confirmations/surprises emerged?
self-evident that cheapest land will always be sought/used?
opaque in terms of inviting us in/pedagogy....?]

* other cluster-wide or class-specific details to consider @ this point, here?

* we will finish discussing All Over Creation  Wednesday, when we will also divide
into small groups to discuss your last set of papers, on porosity-->
read each others' papers, come ready to compare and contrast:
what confirmed what you knew/had written yourself,
what surprised you or challenged what you know?
what would you like to know more about?
(i.e.: begin brainstorming ideas for the next web event?)
Simona, Lisa ;
Kelsey, aphorisnt, smilewithsh;
Jo, Agatha, Sophia;
Sara, Jessica, Jenna.

II. In the interview with Ozeki that I referenced when we first started the novel, she says,
"my first two novels...are very concerned with the interconnected nature of our lives and the world.
In Buddhism, we call this dependent co-arising, or 'interbeing'....Nothing exists independently of
anything else. Novels...are a beautiful way to investigate...the way we inter-are."

The way she cuts back and forth from "The Seeds of Resistance"
to the Fuller's farm, from Yumi's past to her present, illustrates this "inter-being"
[Kelsey pointed out how confused this is, not to keep the foreground/background/
main and back-up characters in line...]

But Ozeki also says, perhaps in countering this idea of "oneness" (?), that "novels are time-based
and need to move through was in the editing room where I really started to learn the
fundamentals of storytelling….I didn’t know how to move a character across a room, never
mind across months or years or a lifetime. Editing film and video teaches you how to do
exactly this…working in film and video has taught me to 'see' novels in cinematic terms.
I think about things like frame size, and focal length, and I use filmic techniques like visual
description, rhythm, and montage when I write…"

So let's make some movies!
Take a few moments to look through the novel:
1) are their any scenes (or sequences) that seem particularly "cinematic" to you?

2) How would you open a film based on this novel?
Sketch or draw that scene. Where is it set?
What filmic techniques would bring it alive?
If you finish that before the rest of us do, imagine the ending:
how would you conclude the film?

Anne's scenes:
pp. 3-4: It starts with the earth. How can it not? Imagine the planet...
On one small section of that crust...there streched a  vast tract of land...
Imagine that you are a seed, spit from the lips of one of Lloyd's crossbred grandchildren...
And then imagine the triumphant moment when you crack the crumbly crust...
how vast Lloyd Fuller's acreage must look to you now...
[how to play, visually, with perspective--zooming out/then in?]

p. 226: "I like the feeling that this is just the thinnest of crusts, covering the earth...
In can walk right out onto an active lava flow...
if you take a wrong step..your foot wil go right through and that'll be the end of it.
Burn your foot to a crisp.. A charred stump. That's all you'd be left with.
Maybe I'll take you there sometime."
[how to handle the desire for violence?]

p. 245-6: a fairly modern landscape, formed by volcanic eruptions...Imagine all the infernal popping and spluttering, the ozzing and seeping, as the magma welled and the lava flowed!...with rich depostis of volanic ash that proved to be ideally suited to the growing of potatoes...
p. 124: the pea gives off oxygen, creating a platform to support the life of other organisms,
like bacteria, or us. In a sense we’re just by-products of that program…
pp. 245: The irrigators walk the earth in summer. Like huge aluminum insects, they inch across the contours of the land...Rainbirds, they're called. Robotic and prehistoric, mechanical yet seeming so alive, they span the fields and stretch to the horizon. Emitters..spray a mix of water and chemicals..which catch the light and create row upon row of primatic iridescence, like an assembly line of rainbows...
pp. 416-7: "it's a class war, Tibet, and we're fighting for the planet...Daddy's going to save the world."
[lens isn't big enough here? reduction to the human dimension?...
wouldn't end on this note...too sentimental...]

III. These are literary/filmic techniques.
Let's try, on Wednesday, re-reading the book from some other p.o.v.s,
which might highlight other dimensions of the book:

economics [and its presumptions of scarcity?]-->
p. 172: Adjunct teachers are the professorial equivalent of the migrant Mexican farm laborers hired during harvest. If you can score a good contract at the same farm every year, where the farmer pays on time and
doesn't cheat or abuse you, then it's in your best interest to show up consistently from year to year....The nontenured faculty form a downtrodden, transient underclass, inferior in everyway to the landed professorial gentry.
p. 221: "but most farmers settled. Guys around here operate on pretty tight margins. Can't afford to go up
against a corporation...and they're not worth suing, not for damages anyway--they're so far in debt a
court case would bankrupt them. The idea is to slap 'em back down but keep 'em in business. It's just maintenance."
p. 270: The fact was, some things had to die so that others could live, and the idea was to try to
maximize your chances of staying on the living side for as long as you could.
p. 327: "Love is not free, Elliot. It costs. And you're just a fucking stingy bastard who's too cheap to pay."

Education [and its presumptions of capaciousness/possibility?]--> 
(Lisa on the function of Frankie's "cluelessness"--> capacity for learning/"saving the world"?!)

Relation/negotation between the two?

Cf. this form of representation with Dorceta's talk:
what's foregrounded/what left in the background in
these two very different depictions (two different genres?)
of environmental injustice?

Think about a time when you
1) changed your mind/"had" your mind changed
2) took action--what motivated/prompted you?

Cf. Andrew H. Wallis, "Toward a Global Eco-Consciousness in Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats." Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 20.4 (Autumn 2013). 837-854:
postcolonialists tend to focus on hybridity displacement, cosmopolitanism, and uncovering history, while…eco/environmental critics foreground purity, place, nationalism, and transcending human history/time.

the environmental movement [language of conservation and sustainability] has some of its roots
firmly planted in the logic of natural and cultural domination….
the “deep ecology” movement has been at times woefully oblivious to human suffering…

Nature and environmental writing is justifiably replete with …the “poignancy of the local”
paeans to a river, a mountain range, or a small town, or writing that attacks...
the de-naturing and abstraction of a place and space. Such approaches can…seem
insufficient in an ecologically, economically, and culturally interconnected world….
present circumstances…seem to be calling for “bigger” narratives
and are seen by some
as a lynchpin of the ecocritical enterprise…”challenging assumptions about border and scale”….

examining the local-global dialectic requires a framework for understanding space not merely as a physical/material object and set of relations, but as a heuristic concept that shapes and is shaped by an imagination informed by geography, cartography, financial networks, shipping lands, free-trade zones, and dumping grounds….

Ozeki’s plurivocal, palimpsestual logic of engagement….uses the “cosmopolitan” and the “vagabond”
to tie the regional to the global while providing a critique bound up within the class implications of a ‘cosmopolitan” intellectual “elite”

“the tension between displacement and an ethics of place needs to be situated in terms of
cosmopolitanism and bioregionalism”…recast “placeness” within a global consciousness