Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

"just show me a moment that is mine, its beauty blinding and unsurpassed…"

“… that makes me forget every moment that went by that left me so half-hearted ’cause I felt is so half-assed.” (Ani DiFranco’s “Half-Assed”, from her 2006 Reprieve album.)

I was fortunate enough to experience such a moment this morning, near the end of yet another grueling thesis meeting, which I showed up to with the usual pit of fear and terror in my stomach. I cannot express how both utterly draining and gratifying it is, having a professor you not only incredibly respect, but consider a good friend, go over your work, line by line by line, and not let you get away with anything. All those papers you wrote in the past, with the lazy throwaway sentences where you didn’t exactly know what you were trying to say, but figured it sounded intelligent? You will get called on that, each and every single time. Nothing is allowed to slip; everything is up for scrutiny and criticism and questioning. “What did you mean by this? This sentence isn’t clear. This word isn’t well-chosen. What are you trying to argue? This isn’t well-written. This doesn’t make sense.”

However, at the end of the hour and a half-long session, one that focused solely on the 10-pg introduction, he stands up and brushes his hands against his pants and murmurs in a wondrous tone of voice, “Si, nos va a quedar muy lindo esto.”

And suddenly it all seems worth it and you feel like you’re on top of the world again and as heart-breaking and soul-crushing and esteem-squishing and weepy state-inducing as the entire thesis writing process is, you can suddenly see the light at the end of the tunnel, because your adviser consents that your work is going to “quedar muy lindo.” And you kind of understand what he meant during your conversation about the kid who died last night, in which he said that the only true pleasure from life is not from the exhibitionist escapism of drugs and politics and media, but the kind that results from the well-earned satisfaction that only comes from the knowledge of a job genuinely well done.

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Filed under moment of pleasure, thesis

"Es bleibt wie etwas Unerforschliches und Geheimnisreiches in der Dunkelheit zurück"

A freshman at my school passed away last night, and everyone has been in a weird mood about it all day. I keep getting e-mails in my inbox from the president, dean of faculty, student body president. There are suggestions to have a book where people can write about their memories about the student in question or how they were affected by the experience. All throughout the day, I am disconcertingly and consistently thinking about how appropriately this all relates to the theme in my thesis about death as an appropriate moment to try to make “sense” of an experience, to find out the meaning of something, to make an effort to try to understand.

My entire thesis is essentially based on the implications of the final passage from Onetti’s “Un Sueño Realizado” (A Dream Come True). The story is essentially a subtle retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale– I’m too tired to explain why right now in a proper or coherent manner that does the story justice, but here’s some bare bones plot summary, in order to provide some context for the final passage: a woman comes to a retired theatre director (the story’s narrator) and asks him to stage a production a dream she once had. The dream is simple: a car goes by, a man crosses a street and drinks a beer poured by a girl with a pitcher, recrosses the street and pats the woman on the head, who has been lying on the sidewalk this entire time, as if she were a little girl. Her explanation for why she wants to stage the dream, as explained by Blanes (the actor) to the director, is not because the dream possesses some kind of deeper meaning for her, but simply “because while she was sleeping and dreaming about all of that, she was happy–but happy isn’t the word, something else. So she wants to see it over again.” The dream is reproduced onstage successfully; however, the moment in which Blanes pats the woman on the head is when they discover the woman is dead. Punched in the ribs by a raging Blanes, the director closes the story with the following ‘realization’:

“I was left by myself, doubled over by the blow, and while Blanes went back and forth on the stage, drunk, half-crazy, and the girl with the pitcher of beer and the man with the car bent over the dead woman, I understood what it was all about, what the woman had been searching for, what Blanes had drunkenly been trying to find out the night before on stage and seemed to be searching for even now, walking back and forth with the haste of a madman: I understood it all clearly, as if it were one of those things that one learns once and for all as a child, something that words can never explain.”

That’s my thesis, right there. Fairy tales. Stories. Death. Truth. Understanding. Ritual. Meaning. Knowledge. And at the end of it all, what Wilhelm Grimm called the Unerforschtes, the unexplorable that is at the origin and center of every story, significantly and emphatically different from the unexplored: “like something unexplored and mysterious that remained hidden in the darkness.”

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Filed under centers, death, Onetti, Rio Plata, thesis