Thursday, November 15, 2007

In a hurry... so.. here it is!

My main question is whether the essay is us explaining what other people have written about our subject of choice, or whether we are talking about our subject of choice, and using what other people have written as proof? Does that make sense? In other words, am I deciphering or explaining? Does even THAT make sense? I guess I’ll ask it in class tomorrow and try and explain it better then. I think that is about everything I’m wondering about this essay. It’s ten pages, right? Double spaced, right? Use quotes and cite in MLA format, right?
Oh! I have another question: How serious does the tone have to be? Can I make movie references? Pop culture references in general? I guess it’s all about inventing the university again, eh? Because how I write mainly depends on who I’m writing to. For example, if I’m writing to Dr. Rogers and a whole bunch of professors, I’d put on a more serious language and perspective. However, if I’m trying to explain to other students or tutors my age, I’d try making my essay more interesting by putting more pop culture references in it. I’m guessing it has to be pretty serious, huh? Dern.
Anyway. Yeah. That’s it :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

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Questions, Questions, Questions

What kinds of questions do you have about the bibliographic essay?

For those of you having difficulty finding sources, look to the MLA database.  Here are some instructions on how to use it.


That’s an interesting question to ponder, and I must admit that I don’t think I’ve ever really sat down and truly thought about how I think about a problem that I am writing about. I suppose I try my best to see the problem with a clear and concise point of view. If I can clearly see and understand the problem, it is much easier to solve. Then I ask myself ‘just what exactly is the problem?’ and I do my best to jot down what that is and begin looking at it from as many different angles as possible, hoping that a solution will illuminate itself to me. The first question I ask myself is usually something like, “what does this problem really about?” If I can get a concrete definition of the problem, it becomes that much easier to solve. Then, I ask myself ‘‘what if?’’ questions, like ‘‘what would happen if I tried this solution to solve my problem?’’ and then I try and think of the logical consequences of that plan of action. If the possible outcome doesn’t seem to be beneficial, then I try and think of another solution. I try to avoid questions that enlarge the problem instead of dissolve it. I’m the type of person that can become easily overwhelmed and bogged down by the list of things I have to do, and if I start asking questions that complicate my situation, it makes it more difficult to solve. To push my thinking, I try and look at the problem from a different angle than I normally would, and that usually brings a solution. Wow, my brain is tired from thinking about thinking about how I write about problems.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Logging Thought

When I wrote for this prompt here’s pretty much what went on in my head:

What is my response to that? *rereads the prompt for the third time* Hmmm….

*glances at the only line written and revises it, then goes back to re-reading the prompt*

Elmo is so fuzzy, I wonder what he feels like to touch. I wonder if any little kids have gotten to touch the real puppet. I wonder if that Wish foundation place has ever arranged that. I wonder what are the craziest wishes that Wish Foundation has made. I wonder how expensive some of those wishes are. The gas prices are going up; I had no idea we pay taxes on them. The government enacts tariffs on sugar and enforces the use of high fructose corn syrup in foods. Using plant-fuels is only going to aggravate the imbalance of corn production in US agriculture. The US is so corrupted…what a cliché thought that was. Oh yeah. Blog.

*goes back to re-reading the prompt*

Meta sounds like beta. Beta makes me think of Firefox. Firefox makes me think of that funny little browser clip. That Kingdom Hearts II parody was funny.

*goes back to re-reading the prompt*

I remember thinking I should be a tutor just because I was a good writer. Past-tense specific and intentional. Eng 2010 turned out to be a great class…I miss being adored and outspoken.

*goes back to re-reading the prompt*

The way I think about things? Jeez…if that’s why I’m a tutor, what does that reflect about the Writing Center?

I love writing philosophy. I should write about that. There’s so much to writing that can be picked apart like a good algebraic formula. Fun, Fun, Fun in the Sun! I love Beach Boys.

*goes back to re-reading the prompt*

*snort* I don’t think about problems. I think around them, circle them, watch them, but don’ t actually think them. Well, I guess that means I actually do think about them.

*goes back to re-reading the prompt*

I push my thinking by just forcing myself to sit at the computer until I actually write something. It’s the same process as making a little kid sit on the toilet until they go potty, just to help them recognize the use of the bathroom. Thesis acquired. If I’m motivated, I’ll polish it, trim it, conform it, and attach a body to it so it can walk around. Why did that make me think of the Nightmare Before Christmas?

*goes to Facebook to play on the Zombies application, instead of working on the Botany take-home exam*

....To Be Concluded?

thinking about how I think about problems that I don't want to think about

I guess I have a process for thinking about problems. I honestly do not write outlines, and I do not even write down ideas unless I have many varying ideas that I need to narrow down. In this case I write the ideas down and compare them all; I keep the ideas that seem to work together well, and I throw out the ones that I cannot make easy connections to. Usually, my process consists of thinking about all aspects of the idea that I can on my own. I take a lot of time just thinking about the topic; I do not write anything or keep a record of my thoughts because I want my writing to be fresh once I begin. I take time in the shower or while driving to dive into the subject, and then, I write. I write all of my thoughts down in the paper’s described format. Although, this is not near the end of my process, my paper is relatively complete with the introduction, body and conclusion.

Once it is written down, my ideas are easily accessible, and I am able to organize and expand on my ideas. Also, once I read over my paper, I usually realize more aspects about my topic that I can include. So, I really do not have specific questions I ask myself. I simply realize what the paper needs as I go through it. And, without questions to ask, I do not have questions that I avoid. I never thought about the oppositions to my ideas unless I am contrasting topics. For example, I would never ask myself what would change if I did not have (____) in my paper. I do realize the importance of this technique because it helps to give the writer a way to verbalize the topic’s importance. But, I usually do well by sticking to my tried and true techniques.

I believe by continually revising my paper, I push my thinking on the subject. Again, I realize different ideas that I can include and expand on as I read over my paper. And, by continually reading my paper, I can get a better sense of the organization I want. When I re-read my writing, I go through the thought process over and over again. This reinforces my train of thought, and it exposes areas that do not transition well. Transitions are usually very complicated for students-especially for beginning writers-because we do not have to verbalize our train of thought very often when we speak. We simply talk and jump from subject to subject and the counter partners in the conversation are able to keep up. In writing, however, there are many obstacles that are not present when speaking. Transitions, organization and the such become much more important because tone of voice is up to the reader. In this way I push myself to think of the different aspects of the topic readers would think of, and I also try to make my thought process accessible in order to successfully lead the reader to the conclusion of my work.

Second Star to the Right...

And off we go to Meta-Meta Land.

Sometimes I'm amazed by how profoundly spite motivates me. Generally, some of the first questions I ask myself when embarking on an anlytical paper are these: What have others done? What will others do? What won't others do? What can I do to be different?

At least in part, this spitefulness arose from an essay last semester. Rather than undertaking anything particularly ambitious, I had settled on an essay topic that was straightforward and easy to write. I was horrified to discover that at least two other people in the class had cranked out analyses almost carbon-copy identical to mine. Although I got a good grade, my sense of personal satisfaction plunged through the floor.

I had soldout.

As an English major, most of the problems the university requires me to consider are literary. Because literature is philosophy and philosophy literature, I generally approach literary analyses by viewing a text through different philosophical lenses. My Big Four in recent years have been Sartre, Camus, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. But because one of my professors threatened to fail me for excessive contemporaneity in a pre-contemporary literature class, I've had to dabble in platonic, aristotelian, and alchemical ideas.

How does this ideology differ from the platonic purview?

What do alchemical images contribute to this text?

Or my personal favorite, WWND: What Would Nietzsche Do?

I've caught myself asking questions like these until an idea finally "sticks" to a given text. After the initial coniunctio of a certain philosopher's theory and a literary text, the written analysis unrolls -- hopefully -- without too many snags. I don't have any official intellectual authority, so I have to rely on the abstractions of others. It works.

Most of the time.

Modern philosophy doesn't mix well with some classes. Math, for one. Any physical science class. And most social science classes. Although I'd love to write about the metaphysical rebellion inherent in electron orbital theory or the Nietzschean will to power manifest in the State of the Union Address, some subjects, at least at undergraduate levels, place buffers on free thinking. Sometimes, analysis consists of simply identifying the facts -- a process requiring subjectification in itself -- and establishing relationships.

I suppose at its most basic level, analytical thinking is just that: identifying "facts" and establishing relationships.


That's almost as bland as New Criticism.