Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write.

Due to the obscure rain clouds that float above my head (in a purely literal sense here) I must stay inside my little glass box instead of walking around outside. The weather is a tad undecided about what it feels like doing today, and thus, even with the sun showing, rain flows in little spurts. Quite annoying.
Thus, I was drawn to my computer to 1. keep me awake 2. amuse me and 3. pass the time. The latter reason is quite unsettling however, as the theory of relativity keeps popping in my head because I swear I look at the clock every 30 minutes when in reality, only about 10 have passed. This may be my very last day trapped in this box, and therefore, I wish today to go by quickly. This is not happening.
Thus, I stumbled across this questionnaire that I found intriguing. Why? Because I'm a nerd.
You have received this note because someone thinks you are a literary geek. Copy the questions into your own note, answer the questions, and tag any friends who would appreciate the quiz, including the person who sent you this.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Elliot Perlman or Augusten Burroughs, I think they are tied with 5 each.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Siddhartha, I own two because one was a present.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
yes, actually. I cringed.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Simon from Perlmans's Seven Types of Ambiguity, Robbie from McEwan's Atonement, and Odd from Koontz's Odd Thomas.

4a) What fictional character would you most like to be?
Either Dagny from Atlas Shrugged, Stormy from Odd Thomas (minus the fact that she dies suddenly in the first book), Cecilia from Atonement, or Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice.

4b) What fictional character do you think most resembles you?
Either Elizabeth or Stormy from 4a, but most likely Stormy. Or perhaps Katherina from The Taming of the Shrew.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Most likely Harry Potter. But I honestly can't remember that far back, or if I even read.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
McCarthy's The Road. I had to put it down after 9 pages. The writing was horrendous.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I've actually been reading a lot of lighter books this year due to the heavy classic literature intake during the semester. So I'd have to say that I really enjoyed, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Odd Series, Atlas Shrugged (which I'm still reading), and Killing Yourself to Live.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I'd have to go with Atlas Shrugged, The Little Prince, or Siddhartha. So we have one for political, social, and spiritual enlightenment =)

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
Nothing recently has caught my attention as worthy of that in modern times. Everything is autobiographical, but I'm not complaining. And the only thing popular is trashy books. So I don't know. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves is the most outrageous, ingenious, original book I've read by a modern author. So perhaps him.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves or Perlman's Seven types.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Anything else by Stephenie Meyer or McCarthy.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
I had a few dream about Odd Thomas in his adventure, of course, I was his leading lady. And a few sepia-toned dreams involving characters from Austen's novels

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?

Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves just because you are continuously switching narrators and literally have to turn the book different ways to read it. But I'd also have to go with Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, The Fairie Queen, The Unfortunate Traveller, and Shakespeare took awhile to get used to.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
If we're going with seen instead of read, I'd either have to say Titus (Titus Andronicus) or Romeo and Juliet (the 1996 version)

17) Do prefer French or Russian?
French, only because I liked Tocqueville.

18) Roth or Updike?

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Again, neither.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Oh man. Milton was the most fun with Paradise Lost, but I am a bit of a drama nerd, so also Shakespeare, but I like Chaucer's messages. All of the above for sure.

21) Austen or Eliot?
Again, both. They're not really in the same category though? Perhaps I'd stick with my girl Jane.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Anything between the 1700's to the 1850's, minus Jane of course. Also, I despise a lot of modern literature. Or post-modern if you will. Like The Heart of Darkness, worst ever. I get the disillusionment going on, it's just painstaking to read about wars.

23) What is your favorite novel?
Perlman's Seven Types of Ambiguity or Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

24a) Play?
Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, or (yes, a modern play!) David Ives' Sure Thing.

24b) Musical?
I doubt I've ever read a musical. But I fell in love with Sweeney Todd.

25) Poem?
One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, Birches or The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, and Plath's Lady Lazarus.

26) Essay?
I have no idea what it was called, but a woman compared existentialism and Buddhism in an essay I read in my early college years. I fell in love. But I believe I sold the anthology, so I can't look it up ={

27) Short story?
Good Morning, Again by Elliot Perlman. I'm not going to lie, this 8 page short story gave me motivation to write my stories. Best and most emotion I've ever felt with such a short work.

28) Work of non-fiction?
Aristotle's Ethics, or Machiavelli's The Prince. (Do these count as non-fiction?)

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Perlman, Plath, Rand.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Stephanie Meyer Stephanie Meyer!!! or McCarthy. Or Poe. Seriously, I know he's one of the most respected authors of America, but seriously, he's so repetitive I get annoyed just thinking of his works.

31) What is your desert island book?
Oh man. Perlman's Seven Types, it's long, emotional, I'm in love with the character, and it changes every time I read it. But I would prefer to bring my Sony Reader.

32) And ... what are you reading right now?

Finishing up Atlas Shrugged, finally. =]

Monday, July 13, 2009

It turns out that an eerie type of chaos can lurk just behind a facade of order - and yet, deep inside the chaos lurks an even eerier type of order

I was doing some chaos theory thinking today on my drive to school this morning. Driving down Southfield fwy, it seemed as though everyone was moving in accordance with another. People were signaling and changing lanes just as those had already switched, leaving room for them. It became almost a symphony of highway driving, which is strange since I have a bad case of road rage, and usually my drive to school is filled with turbulent, precarious drivers cutting me off every chance they got. But this morning, I felt at peace as everyone around me was somehow aware of the greater force moving us in our direction. Of course, this could also be that I was half asleep and had just woken up a few minutes beforehand thanks to my exhausted brain.
Regardless, this unusual highway behavior got me thinking about the greater and broader questions of our universe and generation, which of course, is always a good thing to be doing while driving at 8 a.m. So I was contemplating the greater complexities of the world when the chaos theory popped in my head. I thought as though this highway was as good a metaphor as any to compare and relate the universe's chaos in my feeble little mind. First off, I would like to say that I have not solved any great dilemma of our time, and I do not claim to have any knowledge of the following topics, and/or anything for that matter. I am but a simple person working things out in her brain to the best of her abilities, just as anyone else.
So, this highway full of cars does not necessarily represent chaos, since we have laws and rational minds behind the drivers. We are all going one way and at appropriate speeds (and of course all very wary of police since they hide out along the overpasses.) And the thing that makes it most unlike chaos is that we all have a place to go. We have reason in our heads and this is telling us where we need to be. Now I pictured a place with no street lights or lanes and imagined what the traffic would be like then. Without a doubt, people would ultimately figure out a way to direct themselves. Why? Because there is order in the universe. Well, some believe that anyway. People love order, almost crave it, and I'm sure you've seen those people who have a mental breakdown when things are out of place. I, fortunately, am not one of those people and embrace the ambiguity and disarray this world has to offer. However, I was thoroughly intrigued when I looked up the word pandemonium and as it came with definitions wild uproar and disorder, the 4th definition was simply HELL. Now, in Milton's Paradise Lost, Pandemonium is the capital of Hell. So apparently, chaos=disorder=anarchy=evil=Hell. And for some reason I was struck by the fact that everything must have its place and command, otherwise it's labeled as evil. But if you think about it, we find beauty in the chaotic behaviors (or what appear to be), such as modern art.
So then, back to the traffic metaphor, and where I was really going with all of this. So these crazy people who drive all over the place in a lawless atmosphere, they would ultimately find a system of harmony because they knew where they had to get to. Now I would like to dive a little deeper, get your scuba gear!, into a subatomic level. We, and everything really, is made up of cells, and inside these cells are the particles that make up the cell, which make up every entity this world has to offer. Now these tiny subatomic particles, the activities of neurons and such, all act in accordance with each other to form their main cell and these cells all work together to form the big thing, be it people, plants, this laptop, what have you. So, and I am no physicist, does this reflect the idea that everything has it's own order, and nothing really persists through time in chaos? Does everything in nature move because it knows where it has to go? Even the tiny little air molecules that vibrate and seem to "bounce" off each other in space, do they move in a chaotic pattern, or can someone with an extremely powerful computer calculate where and why its moving?
And for that matter, our brains are simply made up of these subatomic particles. Therefore, are our brains subject to the motion of these atoms? Do we have any control over how, why, or when they move? And yes, here's the big question: are we subject to fate, and this underlying, religious, system of movement only visible to the power itself? And in fact, could someone make this system tangible and therefore control it? (I am slowly drifting to places even I didn't venture to cognitively on my simple drive to school this morning.) And if this were true, that there is some underlying meaning and driving force to our nature, then does that mean that free will is no longer even a concept, as our brains are just particles firing electrical circuits, which eventually boil down to tiny little particles, with or without order.
And if one day, there is solid evidence that everything has its own scientific calculations in its motions, and free will is ruled out, fate would be the driving force of nature, and can you really imagine going against that? We were given reason, but were we given choice? Or just an illusion of choice?
Well, I am going to make a decision which appears to be my own, and go have some tacos.