This is probably the hardest post that I have had to write in this class so far. My main problem is that Text Book does not seem to inspire any feeling in me one way or another. If I liked something about it alot, or disliked something about it alot, I might have somewhere to start. However, I read the two chapters and my strongest reaction was “oh, I guess that is kind of interesting,” or “I am not really sure why this is here,” but nothing to really grasp onto. I skimmed over the book again, looking for something, anything to get that old belly fire stoked, but have still not found inspiration. I just sat down and started to type in the hope that something relevant and coherent would come out…that does not seem to be happening. So read on at your own peril, you’ve been warned.
Many of you have already noted on the problems in the book, and I agree with most of your assessments. The intended audience for this book is not clear to me. Some of the background discussions and explanations of literary devices seem basic, but many of the literature selections and questions that go along with them are pretty tough in my opinion. I also agree that the structure of the book could use some work. Running all of the literature selections together, or randomly breaking them up in divisions and subdivisions made the book tough to get through. I felt that most of the non-fiction selections, and the authors’ sections went on for entirely too long. The Freud section and the metaphorical structuring were especially redundant in my opinion. The book seemed to just be applying the “lets throw a bunch of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks method.” It jumps around all over the place, doubling back on itself and grabbing things from all directions. However, none of this made me really dislike the book, it just was slightly frustrating or occasionally boring.
Which brings me to the things that I did like. The idea of intertextuality that they propose on the first page: “The point of all this is that texts and life exist in a very complex relationship.” The idea to think of books, or novels, or poems not as closed circuits but as texts that are constantly being changed by and changing the reality they encounter is one that fascinates me. But then they kind of drop the idea, or maybe we have different ideas about what intertextuality is. I also liked most of the literature selections: Borges, Calvino, most of the poetry. Some of it was new, and some of it was a reminder of texts I have enjoyed in the past. I also enjoyed Emily Martin’s “Egg and Sperm: A Scientific Fairy Tale.” How our subconscious feelings or associations or prejudices can work their ways into the most seemingly random constructs is a good reminder of the power of words and what they can represent. I wish I could share it with my students, but I do not think that FCPS would be too thrilled about it. So there was enough in Text Book to keep me reading it and somewhat engaged. I don’t regret having read it, but I am not thrilled about it either. Tepid is how I would describe my feelings, or profoundly ambivalent if I wanted something a little snazzier. That also pretty much sums up my feelings about this blog post. So if you stuck with me this long, thank you, and I will try to get some fire in my belly for next week.