Wednesday, May 13, 2015

evening in the library

I walked into the library with the big was transferring the wrong decision? hanging heavy. In class, one professor hated on unions and another made fun of Bruce Jenner. It was like she had literally never encountered transgender before. Last week a third spent an hour criticizing evolution. So I have my moments here at BYU. But I also had my English professor invite the entire class over to his house to get to know each other and eat home made cookies. I like the people in my classes. I have balance in my life. I've been here 3 weeks and haven't had to stay up past midnight once doing homework. I've gotten class high grades on every paper I've written so. I go to yoga a couple times a week. I feel good on campus. I feel more like a human being than a student. In many ways it is good.

Is that kinda like saying well, he's a racist but otherwise he's a great person? I don't know. Maybe. But be the change you wish to see in the world has never been so literal or real to me. It's a good place, and maybe in my little Hannah Pugh way I can make it better.

We spent an entire english class talking about Derrida, who I read at Swat, but really didn't understand until this class. I feel like what Derrida is essentially arguing is that people see the whole world and want to organize it so they put big red circles around arbitrary groups and put a word on it. Then that word becomes the way we see the world. It creates an illusion of definition. So this is feminine and this is conservative and this is smart and this is marriage. And then there is this conflict, because those big red circles have the illusion of being absolute but they are not. So when I use a word to describe myself, it creates this assumption that I fit in a circle. And I belong in the circle, but I don't. It's not so absolute. I hate the assumption created that I belong in the circle because of the language I use. Perhaps language has finally betrayed me.

Speaking of language betraying me, I spent 40 minutes trying to come up with one single word. I emailed 3 of my Waterford English teachers. Do you know how impossible it is to find a word you don't know on the internet? I knew that the word I was looking for started with an e and referred to a poem or section of a book from which the title is taken, for example the poem "Native Guard" is this to Trethewey's collection Native Guard. I finally impossibly found it on the internet by scanning through vast lists of literary terms. Eponymous. It actually doesn't mean quite what I thought it does, but is very close. Most of all I was just vastly relieved to find the word.

I've been doing research on Vietnam for a paper on The Things They Carried. And my research that started with literary critics, led me to the Vietnam war memorial page, where I spent way too long trying to find Tim O'Brien's friends' names on the wall (I found a few, based on nonfiction pieces O'Brien has written). It also led me on a long tangent on agent orange and it's birth defects. It's both grotesque and horrifically intriguing. So if you don't want to sleep tonight, google Vietnamese children agent orange birth defects. There are still orphanages full of kids suffering from it, which is awful.

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