29 ago. 2017

Teaching about Natural / Man-made Disasters - Modern Family Episode 3 Season 2

Upper Intermediate Level

1. What is an earthquake? Write down its definition.

Earthquake (n) /ˈɜː(r)θˌkweɪk/: ______________________________________________________________________

2. Fill in the gaps with the missing words.

Jay: Look... I'm not going to church anymore. It's not the end of the _______. Let's not make a big deal out... Hell...
Gloria: Aah! Aah!
Manny: _________!
Gloria: Terremoto! Vamos, vamos, Manny! Vamos, Jay!

Cameron: We're gonna ______! We're gonna _________!
Mitchell: We better not. If they find us in these outfits, It's gonna be very bad for the gays.

Phil: Claire?!
Alex: We're okay!
Luke: Dad?
Phil: Luke! Buddy. You okay?
Luke: That thing almost _______ me! I was sitting there, And it came this close to my head!
Phil: It's all right. You're okay. You didn't get _________.

3. BEING PREPARED. Read the following quote:

Phil: For months, Claire has been after me and dogging me... "what if we have an earthquake? We've got kids in the house." Blah blah blah. So it finally reached the point where I had no choice but to just roll up my sleeves and tell her I did it.

Now, list three things you would do before an earthquake strikes:


Now, list three things you would do after an earthquake stroke:


4. What’s the difference between a natural disaster and a man-made disaster? List five of them under each category.






5. Read what Jay says about earthquakes at the end of the episode. What does it matter the most for you?

JAY: There's nothing mystical about an earthquake. Pressure builds and it's released. And you just hope there's not too much damage. But it makes you realize what matters, and for me that's my family... My family and golf.

21 ene. 2015

The Author and the Process of Writing in The Hours

The author fathers/mothers any text or piece of writing. The authorship of The Hours and the fictions that make up The Hours is highly problematic, as you can see from the following examples: 
I will have to kill someone else” Mrs. Woolf
Scene: Mrs. Brown attempts to commit suicide.

Opening scene: Plunging
To what fiction does it belong within the framing fiction of The Hours?
Is it the ending of Mrs. Woolf?Is Mrs. Woolf the fictional character that Mrs. Woolf is writing about and, therefore, the scene of the suicide is part of the fiction that she’s writing and she is just a fictional character inside her own fiction?

...Would this mean that if the opening scene of the suicide is part of Mrs. Woolf fictional construct, “Mrs. Woolf”, the short story itself is part of her own fiction and the author is just inside her own fictional as a fictional construct?
...So would it be possible to say that “Mrs. Woolf is part ot Richard’s already constructed fiction?

Richard’s suicide:
Then, is Clarissa Vaughn’s story “Mrs Dalloway” the fiction, the fiction that Mrs. Woolf is constructing since she has chosen to kill Richard instead? (According to Louise, Richard in his books kills his heroine)


v  TWO FICTIONAL AUTHORS: Mrs. Woolf and Richard 
o   Clarissa Vaughn = Richard’s Mrs Dalloway = Cunningham’s Mrs. Dalloway = Mrs Dalloway (short story)
o   Mrs Woolf Mrs Dalloway is not Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway (Cunningham projects himself in Mrs Woolf as a fictional author, as a fictional Virginia Woolf)
o   Mrs woolf: Fictional Virginia Woolf/ M. Cunningham = A Mask
o   Richard: 1) Fictional Author within “mrs. Dalloway” and The Hours. 2) A fictional character in “Mrs. Brown”.
o   Mrs. Brown seems to be a fictional character in Mrs. Woolf’s fiction or in Richard’s fiction (He wrote about his mother in his big book) // Richard’s Dalloway mother in “Mrs Dalloway” and Richie’s mother in “Mrs. Brown” //Richard's fictional mother in “Mrs. Brown” if we take for granted that “Mrs. Brown” is part of Richard's big book // A fictional reader of a Mrs. Dalloway
o   Sally: Clarissa’s lesbian partner and a double for Sally Seton

o   Louis Waters: Richard’s ex and a double for Peter Walsh

15 sept. 2013

Canada's History through the Eyes of the Untold/Unofficial stories of marginalized characters in Miuchael Ondaatje's "In the Skin of a Lion" &sw Joy Kogawa's "Obasan"

Canada's History through the Eyes of the Untold/Unofficial stories of marginalized characters in Michael Ondaatje's "In the Skin of a Lion" and Joy Kogawa's "Obasan"

Traditionally and according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, History is "the discipline that studies the chronological record of events, based on critical examination of source materials and usually presenting an explanation of their causes". For those who take this definition as a conclusive one, we can add that it is or was believed to be objective or truthful. However, recording historical facts and events requires a previous process of interpretation and analysis, and these obviously imply a high degree of subjectivity. We cannot deny that certain historic events took place; but we can question the selection made to retell those events. This is so because human subjectivity is largely shaped by culture and its dominant ideology. As a consequence, History as a grand narrative and as a Human construct bears the imprints of cultural and ideological discourse of a certain group or individuals. 

Since History cannot account for all past events, there is a need for selection. Therefore, Human beings subjectivism as an intrinsic characteristic is brought up when making such selection. Parameters and criteria according to which such selection is made are ideological and somehow arbitrary. Taking subjectivity into account, we can infer that the problem of History as a grand metanarrative lies in its false claim to totality. The selection of historical facts and its globalizing idea are subjected to issues of power and ideology. The question of selection is of great relevance when it comes to historical representation of oppressed and ex-centric people. How can reliable knowledge of past events be acquired if everything we know about the past is based on cultural and ideological representations of somebody else writing in the name of "objectivity".

In an attempt to open the past gaps, "objective" history has left us, there are a number of writers who have devoted themselves to counterbalance the totalizing discourse of History with private and/or local and ex-centric narratives. In order to present a concept for this new kind of literature emerging from what / who the official History has left aside. Linda Hutcheon coined the term "HISTORIOGRAPHIC METAFICTION". According to Hutcheon, works of Hisotriographic Metafiction are..."those well-known and popular novels which are both intensively self-reflective and yet paradoxically also lay claim to historical events and personages". Historiographic metafiction is a postmodern art form, with reliance upon textual play, parody and historical reconceptualization in which the active participation of the reader plays an important role. History is not viewed anymore as a definable and conclusive object, Historiographic Metafiction sees engagements with history as being discursive, situational, and textual. These visions of what is known as traditional "History" allow for new re-writings which open up new perspectives and identities of those culturally marginalized. "Stories" as opposed to "History" account for the richness, diversity, and complexity of individual experience that History omits; that is why postmodernist fiction suggests to "...re-write or to re-present the past in fiction and history is, in both cases, to open it up to the present, to prevent it from being conclusive and teleological" (Hutcheon).

When talking about Canada as a country and its own History, we get to know that Canada has long been characterized by a diverse ethnic composition. Diversity is one of its main characteristics. According to Prof. Sandra Fadda in "Canadians in Canada", "The process of peopling Canada can be divided into five phases: 1) From its origin to the end of the 19th century, 2) From 1896 to 1914, 3) From the end of WWI until 1929, 4) the post-WWII period, 5) The 1950s and 1960s". Taking this into account, what Marta Dvorak states holds true in Canada: "...a large part of literature in Canada has long been generated by first-generation or second-generation immigrants coming to term with displacement and relocation...". This is why the evolution of literary works according to Dvorak: "...reflects a shift from 1867 to the beginning of the twenty-first century when... (immigrants)...account for one-third of the population with a high proportion of Asians...". Among these minority writers there are the ones who started writing and using historiographic metafiction so as to open up the gaps for the reconstruction of Canada's History through the eyes of the marginalized characters. Linda Hutcheon was the first one to coin the phrase "Canadian Historiographic Metafiction" to describe the emerging literary genre that focuses on the act of writing about Canadian History and identity by fictionalizing its historical past.

The novels In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje and Obasan by Joy Kogawa portray the "unofficial" stories that are associated with anonymity and passivity of immigrants in Canada's official History. Nevertheless, for Ondaatje and Kogawa, the process of reconstructing personal narratives and the act of telling them involve a creative process by which characters become aware of their importance in history and begin telling their "stories". For these writers, to take responsibility for one's own story is a way of legitimizing and appropriating one's life to compensate for historical omissions. To account for the omissions and partiality of the "official history" of Canada, the alternative is to celebrate a plurality of private and/or local narratives that give voice to the forgotten voices, creating this way a polyphonic text in which minorities are given a voice to tell the stories of their cities and to leave aside their anonymity and passivity and becoming part of it. Many Canadian writers were born in countries other than Canada; there are a number of writers that come from the Eastern side of the world. This is the case of the two authors involved in this paper. One of the most famous Canadian author associated with Historiographic Metafiction is Michael Ondaatje who was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Canada where he began writing. In the Skin of a Lion is set mainly in Toronto, Ontario and tells the story of immigrants who built the city. By doing so, Ondaatje gives voice to the blood, sweat, and tears of these workers who have never been recognized by the "official" History. There is also another Canadian writer who made use of Historiographic Metafiction: Joy Kogawa. Her novel Obasan, Japanese for aunt, was first published in the early 1980s Japanese Canadians began demanding reparation for their forced internment from the Canadian government. Kogawa's novel narrates the story told by a woman and her childhood as a Japanese Canadian during WWII, a time when Japanese people living in Canada were singled out by the Canadian government as a threat to National defense and were removed from the West coast and sent to Japan, or dispersed throughout the British Columbia interior to the Prairies.

An important aspect of In the Skin of a Lion in relation to Hisotriographic Metafiction is the depiction of Toronto in the 1920s. Ondaatje gives importance to the construction of Toronto's landmarks, such as the Prince Edward Viaduct and the R.C Harris Filtration Plant. He focuses on the lives of immigrant workers. Many characters become aware of the fact that they are left out when retelling the history of the city. Ondaatje presents characters in a fragmented, non-linear way which the reader has to unfold while reading the novel. For example, the title of the novel In the Skin of a Lion is a call for action; it implies responsibility for one's story and the narrative so as to compensate for historical silences: "Each person had their moment when they assumed the skins of wild animals, when they took responsibility for the story..." (Page 157). In the introduction of the novel, before the narration starts, Ondaatje also incorporates a framework story, that of a man telling a story to a girl that opens and ends the novel and gives coherence to the many personal narratives: "This is a story a young girls gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning. She listens and asks questions as the vehicle travels through the darkness..." (Page 2).

Ondaatje's characters are also self-conscious of how narration is organized. This is evident on Page 148 when one the character says: "All these fragments of memory---so we can retreat from the grand story and stumble accidentally upon luxury, one of those ground pools where we can sit still. Those moments, those few pages in a book we go back and forth...". Other than being aware of the narration, Ondaatje's characters are also aware of their marginalized position in it. For instance, Nicholas Temelcoff is aware of his anonymity and marginality, as follows: "He was anonymous (..) He would never leave his name where his skill had been. He was one of those who have a fury of sadness of only being described by someone else. A tarred of roads, a house-builder, a painter, a thief - yet he was invisible to all around him..." (Page 199).
He feels his story has never been legitimized. When Nicholas Temelcoff realizes that "His own life was no longer a single story but part of mural, which was a failing together of accomplices. Patrick saw the wondrous night web - all these fragments of a human order..." (Page 145), as a consequence of this, he decides he should take responsibility for his story and compensate for omissions to appropriate his own life: "...he has been sewn into history. Now he will begin to tell stories". 

In the case of Kogawa's novel, we can see a clear identification of the suffering of Japanese-Canadians prior to and after WWII and the Pearl Harbor bombing. Kogawa's historiographic metafictional novel weaves together three different fragmented stories: Naomi's childhood, the official documented versions of events in Canada, and experiences before and after the war as they are described in Emily's diary. That is how Kogawa, through the process of reconstructing the discursive history of Naomi as the narrator of Obasan, makes her learn the importance of giving voice to those who were left aside. There is a need to compensate for the stories of those Japanese Canadians whom Canadian story omitted. In her novel, Kogawa is ready to reject the assumptions of Western historicism in order to challenge the previous tradition by telling her side of the story and denouncing different mistreatments. This is stated even before she begins writing her novel: "Although this novel is based on historical events and many of the persons named are real, most of the characters are fictional...” Through Obasan, Kogawa intends to show those stories behind the official one of Canada; she denounces mistreatments of Japanese people through the character of Aunt Emily. For instance, Aunt Emily states: "... The Japanese American were interned as we were in Canada, and sent off to concentration camps, but their property wasn't liquidated as our was (...) we never recovered from the dispersal policy" (Page 35). Throughout the novel, this idea of Japanese Canadians being stripped of their possessions affected a large percentage of them, including Naomi's uncle: "...uncle was too taken away, wearing a shirt, jacket and dungarees. He had no provisions nor he did have an idea where the gunboats were heading him and the other Japanese fishermen in the impounded fishing fleet" (Page 22). And also, as Ondaatje presented in his novel, it is a way of making her character aware of the importance of giving away their stories, the value of voicing and exploring.

These authors employ different ways to include and deal with historical events, they make use of files and government's records, personal photographs, and mementoes, dramatic scripts for both radio and theater, lyrics of popular songs, films, newspaper clippings, letters, tall tales, and even dreams. Narrative events are endowed with meaning by incorporating these sources into the texts since they are identified as part of an integrated whole. In Ondaatje's novel, the inclusion of these documents makes the characters aware of their marginalized condition in the "official" history of Toronto when building a bridge, for instance. In the Skin of a Lion, the silenced and marginal characters are given a voice and the possibility of telling their own stories through reading the articles reflecting the story of the city: "The articles and illustrations he found in Riverdale Library depicted every detail about the soil, the wood, the weight of concrete, everything but information on those who built the bridge (...) Official stories and news stories were always as soft as rhetoric, like that of a politician making a speech after a bridge is built" (Page 145).

Ondaatje also describes how marginal characters were ill-treated and disposed after they finished their task: "In 1938 (...) people were crowding together in large buildings across North America to see (…) Anna Karenina (...) by now over 10,000 foreign-born workers had been deported out of the country (...) the longest bridge in the world was being built..." (Page 209). By making use of newspaper clippings, Ondaatje's character realize of their unimportance in official history or the minimum role Canadian history has assigned to these building the landmarks of the city, as in the following case: "He read upon everything - survey arguments, the scandals, the deaths of workers fleetingly mentioned, the story of a young nun who had fallen off the bridge, the body never found (...) He turned the page to the photograph of them and he pulled out of the picture he had and laid it next to the one in the newspaper. Third from the left, the newspaper said, was Nicholas Temelcoff" (Page 144).

In the case of Obasan, the documents, including letters and newspaper articles written by some journalists as well as the narration of stories and the reading letters, force Kogawa to voice her own perspectives. By writing this novel, Kogawa claims for her Japanese Canadian identity. She includes pamphlets like the one on page 34: "... Racial discrimination by Order-in-Council" in which the "seizure and government sale of fishing boats. Suspension of fishing licenses. Relocation camps. Liquidation of property. Letter of General MacArthur. Bill 15. Deportation. Revocation of nationality.” Another strategy Kogawa employs is the use of newspaper clippings: "Bar Japs for Another Year from Going Back to B.C" says the newspaper clipping from Toronto Star written by Borden Spears (page 127). Kogawa also makes use of letters in order to account for different past events, for example, in Aunt Emily’s letter she describes not only the repressive measures taken by the government but also the way in which these measures were enacted. Character's feelings are also included: "This is my own, my native land. Later still, after our former homes had been sold over vigorous protests, after having been registered, finger-printed, card-indexed, roped and restricted, I cry out the question: Is this my own, my native land? The answer cannot be changed. Yes, it is. For the better or worse, I am Canadian" (Page 42).

To conclude, we can say that since historiographic Metafiction is a postmodern art form which requires active participation of the reader like the ones in Obasan and In the Skin of a Lion. Works of historiographic metafiction also include a reflexive task on the part of the writer. Instead of viewing history as a definable and conclusive object, historiographic metafiction sees it as being discursive, situational, and textual. Ondaatje and Kogawa have tried to problematize the nature of Canadian historical facts in their novels, and at the same time they have tried to blur the lines between history and fiction in order to present instead of an "official" history, several "stories" that represent the reality of some other Canadian citizens who were not taken into account in terms of their status as such. For Ondaatje and Kogawa, stories are characterized by fragmentation, indeterminacy, silences, lack of closure. They voice the ex-center and long-forgotten protagonists of the mainstreamed History. Probably, their aim is to recover the past so as to fill in the gaps and present a different Canada of the one we have been told about: a Canada devoid of problems like immigration and multiculturalism.  

11 sept. 2010

Is Dr. Faustus a transitional work between the Middle Ages and the Reinnasance?

Marlowe has created Dr Fautus as a character with Reinassance characteristics who had to pay the medieval price for thinking and behaving like a Reinassance man. This means that in the play of Marlowe we can see the clash between the Medieval World and the emerging world of the Reinassance. On the one hand, the Medieval world placed God at the center of existence and shunted aside man and the natural world. On the other hand, the Reinassance was a movement that carried a new emphasis on the individual, on the classical learning, and on scientific inquiry into the nature of the world in which secular matters took center stage.
Faustus, despite being a magician rather than a scientist rejects the medieval order. In scene 1, for example, he goes through every field of scholarship: logic, medicine, law and theology by quoting an ancient authority for each. Artistotle on logic, Galen in medicine, Justiniane in Law and the Bible in religion. In the Medieval Model, tradition and authority were the key, not the individual inquiry.
In his soliloquy, Faustus considers and rejects this medieval way of thinking. He resolves, according to his Reinassance spirit, to accept no limits, traditions, or authorities in his quest for knowledge, wealth, and power.
The play's attitude toward the clash between Medieval and Reinassance values is ambiguous. Marlowe seems hostile toward the ambitions of Fautus and he keeps his tragic hero. In the Medieval World eternal domination was the price of human pride. Yet, Marlowe himself was no pious traditionalist and wants to see in Faustus a hero of the new Modern world, a world free of God, Religion and the limits that these imposed on humanity. Faustus may pay a Medieval price, but his successors will go further than he had, and suffer less. However, the disappointment and mediocrity that follow Faustus' pact with the devil, as he defends from ground ambitions to pretty conjuring tricks, might suggest a contrasting interpretation. Marlowe may be suggesting that new, modern-spirit, though ambitious and glittering, will lead only to Faustian dead end.

10 abr. 2010

Evil Iago driven by undefined motifs

In William Shakespeare’s play Othello, the character of Iago is a complex one who has a very deep psychological insight as well as a great capacity to manipulate people. In Othello, Iago is the Villain who brings about the final destruction of the Hero – Othello. Iago personifies the traits of deceit and revenge and is presented as the embodiment of Evil. The development of Othello centers around the rising jealousy of the antagonist as the vehicle which produces Othello’s downfall. Moreover, Iago possesses a powerful intellectual capacity to manipulate the other characters. However, Iago acts with the most perfect indifference to good or evil, or with a preference for the latter. He is nearly as indifferent to his own fate as to that of others characters; he runs all risks for a doubtful advantage. From the beginning of the play, Iago makes it clear that his goal is to destroy Othello by any means possible. Consequently, it is important to notice that there no apparent and/or defined reasons to do so; however, we can say that Iago has been moved by hatred of good and delight in causing pain, marital and professional jealousy, overwhelming ambition, and perverted intellectual amusement.
Considering the fact that Iago seeks for hatred of good and delight in causing pain, we can say that he was willing to make anyone’s life miserable by taking revenge on them at the slightest provocation and enjoys the pain and damage he causes. This can be seen throughout the whole play which ends tragically since Iago’s hatred poisoned everyone’s mind, setting the characters against each other. For instance, by attempting to help Cassio, Desdemona’s credit was undone in Othello’s eyes generating an uncontrollable feeling of hatred and jealousy. This eventually, turned up as the cause of Iago planting the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind about his wife being adulterous. However, as the play unfolds, Emilia becomes suspicious of Othello’s development of jealousy and finally finds out the truth and reveals Iago’s plot to Othello, but too late, when their fate is already written. This is yet another vicious act to show the true evil Iago represents but Othello finally realizes after being fooled into murder: “I look down towards his feet – but that’s a fable / If that thou be’st a devil, / I cannot kill thee” (Act V, Scene II( and Iago replies: “I bleed sir, / but not killed” which his final statement that truly shows openly his belief in evil. That is the destruction of all that is good: Hell over Heaven and Black over White. Iago, as a representation of evil, has one major motivational factor that leads him to lie, cheat, and commit crimes on other characters. This motivation is the destruction of all that is good and the rise of evil.
As regards professional jealousy, the first and most obvious reason for Iago’s desire to undermine Othello is the fact that he was passed over for pa promotion to be a lieutenant. However, the motivations of Iago are quite ambiguous and seem to originate in an obsessive delight in manipulation and destruction which stems from his overwhelming unhappiness. Othello is the Moor of Venice who has just married Desdemona (a senator’s daughter) and he has just promoted Cassio to the position of lieutenant, which provokes anger in Iago. Such anger seems to stem from the fact that Cassio was passed over for the position of lieutenant, whixh arises Iago’s jealousy: “In personal suit to make me his lieutenant, / Off-capd to him; and by the faith of man / I know my price, I am no worse a place / But he, as loving as his own pride and purposes, / Evades them with a bombast circumstance / Horribly stuffed with epithets of war, / Nonsuits my mediators; for “certes” says he; / “I have already chose my officer”.” (Act I, Scene I). Considering marital jealousy, we can exemplify it with Act I, Scene II, in which Iago states his belief that Emilia (his wife) committed adultery with Othello: “It is thought abroad that “twixt my sheets / He has done my office” (Act I, Scene III). These suspicions are raised again when Iago explains that he lusts after Desdemona as part of his plan to get even with Othello “wife for wife”: “The Moor – how be’t that I endure him not - / And I dare think he’ll prove to Desdemona / A most dear husband. Now I do love her too, / Not out of absolute lust” (Act II, Scene I). However, these suspicions do not fully explain the story behind Iago’s hatred for Othello, nor do they give him motivation for destroying the other characters. Besides, another fact that it is important to take into consideration is the jealousy that had aroused in Othello’s eyes because of Iago, and the fact that he had warned Othello: “O, Beware, my lord, of jealousy / It is the green-eyed monster / which doth mock the meat it feeds on” (Act III, Scene III), telling Othello that jealousy can take over and make things appear differently that they are in reality. Also, Iago reminds Othello that Desdemona deceived her father in marrying him and she could do the same to him. And to make things looks worse, Iago tells Othello to “look for his wife, observe her well with Cassio” (Act III, Scene III) since Iago wanted Othello to look deeper into the relationship of Desdemona and Cassio, where the whole plan of constructing and illusion on the part of Iago, began. As a result of Othello’s trusting nature in Iago’s ideas, Iago could penetrate into Othello’s unsuspecting mind and therein warp his thoughts and actions throughout the course of the play.
Taking into account Iago’s overwhelming ambition, we can say that it is Iago’s talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him that makes him a powerful character who is ready to fulfill his thirst for ambition. We can see this, when he took the handkerchief from Emilia and told Othello about it knowing that he will not doubt him: “I will in Cassio’s lodging lose this napkin, / and let him find it. Trifles light as air / are to the jealous confirmations strong / As proof of holy writ. This may do something / The Moor already changes with my poison. / Dangerous conceits are in their nature” (Act III, Scene III). Through actions like this, Iago inspires trust upon the characters. This shows Othello’s tragic flaw, at this point he is already susceptible to Iago and the jealousy within him begins to lead to the demise of others. By this actions, Othello has isolated himself from everyone except from Iago. This gives Iago the perfect opportunity to complete his course of action. Considering Iago’s desire and ambition for money, Iago’s scenes with Roderigo show his manipulative abilities. Iago tells Roderigo that he needs more money to take Desdemona away from Othello in Act I, Scene II, “Put money in thy purse / Follow thou the wars / defeat they favor with an usurped beard / I say, put money in thy purse / It cannot be long that Desdemona should continue her love to the Moor / Put money in they purse” (Act I, Scene III). He does so, because he says that that is the only way Roderigo can get Desdemona. This may show that one of Iago’s motives could be his ambition for money since he insists that Roderigo needs to give him more money.
If we take Iago’s perverted intellectual amusement as one of his motifs, we can say that by false aspersions and by resenting the most revolting images to Othello’s mind, easily turns the storm of passion from Othello against Desdemona, and works him up to a trembling agony of doubt and fear, in which he abandons all his love and hopes through the construction of an illusion. For instance, in Act III, Scene III: “Now do I see ‘this true / Look here, Iago / All my fond love thus do I blow to Heav’n – ‘Tis gone / Arise, black vengeance from the hollow hell; / Yield up, O love, thy crown and hatred throne / To tyrannous hate! Swell, bosom, with thy fraught, / For ‘tis of aspics’ tongues” in which Othello’s love turns into pure hate. Another intellectual movement performed by Iago van be illustrated in Act IV, Scene I where Othello falls into trance after falling victim to one of Iago’s malicious lies concerning the details of the imaginary affair between Desdemona and Cassio: “Lie with her? Lie on her? We say “lie on her” / Fulsome! / Handkerchief –confessions- handkerchief. To confess and be hanged for this labor. First to be hanged / and then to confess! (…) / Noses, ears, and lips? / Is’t possible? – Confess? – Handkerchief- O devil!” –then Othello falls down on a trance. The lethargy of Othello followed by his physical collapse shows his final capture by Iago and the point where the tragic hero becomes irreversibly cast into a tumult of sin.
Iago’s motives are not clear cut but instead they are a related combination of many things. He is jealous, he has a hatred for good and takes delight in causing pain. He feels and overwhelming ambition, and presents a perverted intellectual amusement. This leads to the tragic ending of the play: Desdemona is murdered by her husband who in turn commits suicide. Emilia is killed by Iago because she revealed the truth. Cassio is the only character that lives to see Iago’s fate.

12 feb. 2010


"The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep".

(Mary Shelley, Frankestein)

6 feb. 2010

Abrazos y fueguitos

“…—El mundo es eso —reveló—. Un montón de gente, un mar de fueguitos.

Cada persona brilla con luz propia entre todas las demás.

No hay dos fuegos iguales. Hay fuegos grandes y fuegos chicos y fuegos de todos los colores. Hay gente de fuego sereno, que ni se entera del viento, y gente de fuego loco, que llena el aire de chispas.
Algunos fuegos, fuegos bobos, no alumbran ni queman;
pero otros arden la vida con tantas ganas que no se puede mirarlos sin parpadear, y quien se acerca, se enciende.”

(Eduardo Galeano. El libro de los abrazos)

30 ene. 2010

The Way We Talk

"The way we talk, whether it is a life choice or an immutable characteristic, is akin to other attributes of the self that the law protects. In privacy law, due process law, protection against cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from inquisition, we say the state cannot intruce upon the core of you, cannot take away your sacred places of the self. A citizen's accent, I would argue, resides in one of those places." (Matsuda 1991:1391-2)

18 dic. 2009

"What is Metafiction and why are they saying such awful things about it?"

From Metafiction, Patricia Waugh,UK, 1984.

Metafiction is a term given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. In providing a critique of their own methods of construction, such writings not only examine the fundamental structures of narrative fiction, they also explore the possible fictionality of the world outside the literary fictional text. (Waugh 2).
Spectrum: Metafiction is thus an elastic term which cover a wide range of fictions. There are those novels at one end of the spectrum which take fictionality as a theme to be explored whose formal self-consciousness is limited. At the center of this spectrum are those texts that manifest the symptoms of formal and ontological insecurity but allow their deconstructions to be finally recontextualized or 'naturalized' and given a total interpretation . . .Finally, at the furthest extreme that, in rejecting realism more thoroughly, posit the world as a fabrication of competing semiotic systems which never correspond to material conditions, ...(Waugh 18-19)

Patricia Waugh makes us point out the similarities among a selection of quotations and she lists three things readers would say:
A celebration of power of creative imagination together with an uncertainty about the validity of its representation
Literary form and the act of writing fictions
A parodic, playful, excessive or deceptively naive style of writing.
But, the reader is offering a description of the concerns and characteristics of the fiction, so the term “Metafiction” needs to be defined:
“Metafiction is a term given to a fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship of fiction to reality”
So, Waugh claims that such writings not only examine the fundamental structure of narrative fiction, they also explore the possible fictionality of the world outside the literary fictional text.


Metafiction poses questions through its formal self-exploration, drawing on the traditional metaphor of the world as book.
Consequently, if our knowledge of the world (as individuals) is now seen to be mediated through language, then literary fiction becomes a useful model for learning about the construction of “reality” itself.
According to Waugh, “Language is an independent self-contained system which generates its own meanings. Its relationship to the phenomenal world is highly complex, problematic and regulated by convention. Meta terms, therefore, are required in order to explore the relationship between this arbitrary linguistic system and the world to which it apparently refers”.
World OF fiction = World OUTSIDE the fiction

If the writer sets out to “represent” the world, he or she would realize that the world as such, cannot be “represented”. They can only “represent” the DISCOURSES of that world.
The dilemma Metafiction sets out to explore: How is it possible to “describe” anything?
Hjelmslev developed the term “Metalanguage”: “Language which, instead of referring to non-linguistic events, situations or objects in the world, refers to another language: it is a language which takes another as its objects”.
In Saussure’s terms, a “metalanguage” is a language that functions as a signifier to another language, and this other language becomes its signified.
So, in the process of writing, what is explored is the problematic relationship between life and fiction.

Metafiction pays attention to particular conventions of the novel by which the process of its construction is displayed. Novels attempt to create alternative linguistic structures or fictions which imply the old forms by encouraging the reader to draw on his or her knowledge of traditional literary conventions when struggling to construct a meaning for the new text.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
Grendel by John Gardner
The Lime Twig by John Hawkes
Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan

Metafiction and the novel tradition
Patricia Waugh argues that, “… the term “Metafiction” might be new, the practice is as old (if not older) than the novel itself…Metafiction is a tendency or function inherent in all novels”
Novels are constructed on the principle of fundamental and sustained opposition:

As a consequence of this, more and more novelists question and reject forms that correspond to ordered reality:
This is done so, in order to create a fiction and to make a statement about the creation of that fiction. Writers feel that any attempt to represent reality an only produce selective perspectives.

Novel tradition
Metafictional writings
A well-made plot
Chronological sequence
Authoritative omniscient narrator
Rational connections
Atmosphere of certainty
The process of constructing the world is more important than the plot
Unimportance of sequence & details
Plurality of voices
Non rational connections
Atmosphere of uncertainty

17 nov. 2009


"All official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology"

Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (1975)