Beauty

McMullin, Elise emcmullin at kl.com
Tue Jan 18 15:48:19 EST 2000


	Melissa said:

	"This is what happened to me with _Wuthering Heights_.  EVERYONE
describes it
> as this wonderfully romantic book, but I was appalled and disgusted by how
> Heathcliff and Cathy treated each other.  They're positively brutal.
> (See,
> Elise, you're not alone!)"
> 
	I thought they treated everyone rotten and I wouldn't have called it
love so much as brutal and manipulative head games. Yuk!  But what I really
detested, because presumably they both consented to how they treated each
other, was how they treated everyone else.  To me, they were the villains of
the piece.  Someone come lambast me now and tell me how wrong I am!


	"The truth of this gets proven to me all the time--from this
discussion, to
> the recent critique of a story I wrote from a person who simply didn't get
> what I was doing.  (If she'd been the only one who'd ever read it, I might
> have assumed I was being unclear, but from other feedback I became aware
> that she just doesn't do subtletly well.  Also she didn't know what a
> "copse" was--wanted me to change it to "corpse" or something.)"
> 
	Sometimes I wonder about critique.  I've taken a lot of art and
writing classes and sometimes critique has gone all wrong.  One time a
jealous fellow art student left twinkie wrappers on my easel to express his
feelings and another time someone just absolutely shredded a drawing on
totally non-formal grounds - just on personal choice aspects.  Funny thing
is, both of those students were far and away some of the best in the class
and those two drawings were a reach for me - better than my usual.  I think
they felt a bit blindsided and competitive and lashed out.  Anyway, those
are a couple of my critique tales, under the heading of backhanded
compliments ;)

	Although finally in '97 I was in an excellent poetry critique where
people actually appreciated that different folks are exploring different
things - it was brilliant to exchange thoughts from that angle.  I notice
it's much more fun to write the stuff and to share it in a communal setting
than it is to crack open a poetry book and read it.  Funny thing, eh?

	It seems weird that she would want you to change it instead of
looking it up herself first.  It's not like changing copse to corpse would
suddenly make the whole story leap into sharp relief, although it certainly
introduces a potentially sinister note ;).  I knew a woman who always put
all the important words in all caps, just in case you missed that she was
talking about roses a lot in the poem.  She was the avowed enemy of subtlety
and was always outraged when it was discovered in a poem or story.  

>  " There's still room for people to be dead wrong about how they read a
> book--that
> _Tess_ discussion, for example; the text of the book *directly*
> contradicts
> much of what Elise's teacher said."
> 
	I'm glad that topic came up since I had never realized quite how out
of whack that situation was.  In future perhaps I can help some younger
person negotiate something similar because of that experience.  And hey,
it's fun to realize that I was smarter in some ways than my teachers, and
not hopelessly out of step as I had thought!

	"I know.  I happen to think it's funny.  Makes me feel I should be
dressing
> in black turtlenecks or something.  :)  All through high school I had
> friends who wrote poetry about suicide and death and the bleakness of
> their
> upper-middle-class existence..."
> 
	lol!  Deborah posted a link to some handiwork of her college friends
- it was *so* funny.  Post it again Deborah!  Of course, they did it *on
purpose.*  I had one friend who used to write 5 page rhyming poems in
tribute to her crushes - and share them with me.  The things we do for our
friends.  Of course, I won't even address the stuff I made her listen to
:P, but it never ran over 1.5 pages.  I joke about it but I really do think
it is 100% worth it to live the 5 to 10 page rhyming poem phase to the hilt.
It's all part of learning about expressing yourself.

	One guy at my college liked to work in mention of bootlegged
Grateful Dead tapes wherever he could.  But one of my favorites, I will
never forget, was one about a guy spitting off a cliff into the ocean.  The
narrator is the drop of spittle and says "I am Me. i am me. i am the sea."
I hope I have a copy of that somewhere.  I sure never thought of having spit
be the narrative voice.  Jealousy! :D


	Elise
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