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Doubt and Immobility

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

From the novel, Life of Pi. A terrific read, and an interesting quote to consider.

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“If It Moves to Music, I’m in Love”

“Theoretically, I am ready to go to anything– once. If it moves, I’m interested; if it moves to music, I’m in love.” -Arlene Croce

Arlene Croce, formerly a dance critic for twenty-five years at the “New Yorker,” makes her love of the arts and, especially, dance clear in the anthology “Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the “New Yorker.'”

“Writing in the Dark” covers Croce’s long reviews of performances from the time she started at the “New Yorker” in 1973 until she left in 1998.

Croce’s work covers a topic about which very few have real, substantial knowledge; however, her reviews are just as informational as they are critical. Going into “Writing in the Dark,” I assumed that Croce would frequently use dance jargon and refer to performaces about which I did not know. I found myself, to my suprise, thoroughly enjoying Croce’s reviews of dance performaces and even learning a thing or two about this lovely art form.

Croce’s word choice is exemplary; it conveys the kinesthetic movements of the dancers, the underlying themes of the performances, and the powerful vitality of the music. “Writing in the Dark” is 745 pages of vivid description and sharp criticism, making it a wonderful read.

Ballet

The only criticism of Croce–for whom I have tremendous respect since reading her work– is in her 1994 review entitled “Discussing the Undiscussable.” The performance in question was Bill T. Jones‘ “Still/Here,” where Jones presented people who were terminally ill and proceeded to talk about it (Jones himself has AIDS). Croce stated that she had no intent on reviewing it, the reason being that Croce felt the performance was “pity art.” Croce wrote that by working dying people into his act, Jones put himself beyond the reach of criticism. She continued to defend her decision not to review the perforance which she dubbed unreviewable. I absolutely respect her decision and support her right to make such a choice. I only criticize Croce for this for the reason that a “New Yorker” writer has a certain authority and voice. When she wrote this controversial piece, it could have seriously cost her her reputation. Nonetheless, Croce wrote what she did and that is simply that. Read an excerpt of the review here.

Arlene Croce’s reviews, especially those published in “Writing in the Dark, Dancing in the “New Yorker,'” are as close to an acclaimed dance performance as you can get. Her writing style, as well as her knowledge and love of dance, makes for tremendous reviews.

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Judging a Book by the Cover

An adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world–a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler…

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“Where the Wild Things Are,” the lovely, whimsical children’s book written by Maurice Sendak, is being adapted into a movie thanks to Spike Jonze. Forest Whitaker, Paul Dano, and Catherine Keener–to name a few–lend their voices to the film. The book itself was an enormous success; it was awarded the Caldecott Medal,the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and was an ALA Notable Book.

I’m curious–and dare I say hopeful–about this movie because it has great potential.  Judging from the photographs, it seems that director Spike Jonze has really done a solid job making sure that the movie doesn’t head down the paltry path that many adaptations of books take.

“Where the Wild Things Are” is set to hit theaters October 16th of this year.

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“It Was a Picture of Language”

Everyone has something that moves them.  Language moves me.  In a book about diagramming sentences entitled Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, author Kitty Burns Florey puts into words my precise sentiments:

And then, in her firm and saintly script, she put words on the line, a noun and a verb—probably something like dog barked. Between the words she drew a short vertical slash, bisecting the line.  Then she drew a road—a short country lane—that forked off at an angle under the word dog, and on it she wrote The.  That was it: subject, predicate, and the little modifying article that civilized the sentence—all of it made into a picture that was every bit as clear and informative as an actual portrait of a beagle in mid-woof.  The thrilling part was that this was a picture not of the animal but of the words that stood for the animal and its noises.  It was a representation of something that was both concrete (we could hear the words if we said them aloud, and they conveyed an actual event) and abstract (the words were invisible, and their sounds vanished from the air as soon as they were uttered).  The diagram was the bridge between a dog and the description of a dog.  It was a bit like art, a bit like mathematics.  It was much more than words uttered, or words written on a piece of paper: it was a picture of language.

“It was a picture of language.”  I read that and was immediately inspired.  To be able to take the way we communicate to each other and draw it out in a way that is so precise, so clear, is something I find incredible and brilliant.

As you may have read, I am a junior at St. Edward’s University, majoring in English writing and rhetoric and specializing in professional writing.  Originally, I was specializing in rhetoric and composition because I had my heart set on being an English rhetoric professor; however, after taking several writing and journalism classes, I have found that I really enjoy writing. I am not tossing the idea of teaching—I am very passionate about rhetoric and would be honored to teach it one day—but I am passionate equally as passionate about writing and editing.  I suppose we’ll see where that takes me.

 

With this blog, I hope to accomplish several things.  Above all, I want to create a platform with which I can reach out to others who love, are inquiring about, or want to discuss writing, editing, rhetoric, journalism, or anything else within that realm.  I want to improve upon my own writing—which I hope those reading will vigorously critique and proofread—so that I can, too, accomplish my dream of writing for an established newspaper or publish my own book.  I will hone my writing skills by writing reviews (of both the long and short variety), opinion columns, and other editorial-like pieces.  I hope that when I write a post about how ridiculous it is not to use a terminating comma in AP style, you will argue with me.  I pray that when I write a review of a restaurant, you will dine there and make your own decision.  I don’t want this blog to be a reader-writer experience; I want this to be a discussion, a reference, a forum for talk about language and communication.

 

Writing and editing is my passion. This field is something that has always inspired me, and I will continue to pursue it.

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Homework before First Official Post

I plan to write my first post on my love of grammar–I assure you that it will be far more interesting than it probably sounds to those who may not share this passion.

If you haven’t already (my guess is 98% of those reading are in that “haven’t” category), I urge you to check out Kitty Burns Florey’s fantastic book, Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences. It’s a fabulous book, and it is precisely the book that my English professor recommended to me to turn me on to diagramming. It certainly did the trick.

If you’re itching to know more about the book or the author, Kitty Burns Florey, come back tomorrow for my run down on the grandeur that is this book.

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