Lawson – Blackout
As signees of the Duke Community Standard, we have all pledged to “conduct [ourselves] responsibly and honorably in all [our] activities”. We have an obligation to consider how our individual choices might affect the lives of others. If we truly care about our community—and ourselves—we can no longer turn a blind eye to our blackout culture. Blackouts aren’t cool; they’re dangerous, repulsive, and unacceptable
I’m glad that someone has written about this. Not that I am overly against drinking or that I don’t like to party (I do), I just feel like Duke and blackout culture are acceptable behaviors—which they should not be. This essay perfectly exemplifies the logical, intelligent, rational decision-making I’d expect from all Duke students. Yes, there are going to be blips here and there, and someone screws up. But for it to be a social practice? Something is seriously wrong.
Anyways, besides my agreement with Lawson, this essay did everything right. It stepped into its argument with cool rationale, examined and reflected upon experience, and maintained a heartfelt consistency to stand up against. It provided the right amount of information to persuade, and slightly shock its audience, into reconsidering.
And not to go on an aside, but this essay demonstrates what I think many of us have done individually throughout the semester: write something we care about deeply. Lawson did just that. So I’d like to not only congratulate him on a nice essay, but also extend that applause to all of us. It isn’t easy writing about serious matters, or ones that come close to home. When you do, however, the experience (at least for me) has remained extremely enriching.
Carol – Tin Foil Men
I found one meditating in the grass with its legs crossed. A pair of them stood atop a short wall, hugging each other in a solid embrace. Some held hands and stood righteously on table tops. Others scaled walls or hung from a precipice (like doors). Lonely misers who didn’t have another tin foil man to keep them company stood in hidden corners. Some of Lev’s creations had large heads, small feet, or no thumb at all. Skinny thighs, long necks, you name it. My friend had placed these tin foil men all over campus —in the libraries, bathrooms, classrooms. Along the Plaza, in the quad, on the engineering campus….one here, two there, another there. Even Dr. Seuss couldn’t count them all.
Carol’s voice (her actually vocal voice) is engrained in her written words and I want to hear everything that is said. This story was awesome. It was mysterious, charming, funny—all things that I enjoy in an essay. What I found most intriguing was Carol’s description of the little creatures hanging about Duke’s campus. Just as Lev created them, Carol recreated them with her words, making them just as alive. (Perhaps the pictures added to that effect). But the descriptions here reenact how I imagine the tin foil men to act: they were just hanging around.
by Eriks Reks
So I’m looking to submit a piece I revised, but never handed in as a “Revision” assignment. (Don’t worry; the prof said it was cool). The piece is about Sonny Falcone and partly how I reflect on my experience as a football player. I talked about maybe sending it in to a more “athletics” inclined publishing, but I thought hard about this and I figured Sonny is a person that all Dukies should recognize; so why not a non-athletic forum?
I emailed Lawson—actually like five minutes ago—about sending it in to Towerview magazine, a local Duke magazine with articles featuring various personalities and thing-a-ma-jigs, e.g. I remember reading an article about Steve Galanis and Spartan Entertainment. Hopefully they too recognize Sonny as someone worthwhile and would accept the piece.
I was told that I need to write up a summary of what the piece is about and just send in the email. I’ll probably do that within the next 10 minutes.
This piece, like many before it, has kicked my ass. For some reason this semester, I keep wanting to be very intellectual and my essay gets caught in the mix. No thanks to Eggers and Monson for that!
Anyways, this revision of my X4 stems from my love of music and where I find it—from family, friends, self, etc. I think I have found it most from myself (and maybe you can relate).
If I was to continue working on it, I could probably make a long piece about my musical taste evolution. It hasn’t gone far from the weird spectrum, but it definitely has shifted over the years.
Hope you enjoy! And gobble, gobble!
What can be written that hasn’t been written before?
This always pops in to mind when I’m asked to write something thoughtful or original. It’s not that I always feel like I’m plagiarizing, but I do feel that I am stomping on already beaten paths…
And the Robert Frost reference comes in…three…two…one…
I do; I really do want to take the road less traveled by. If it makes a difference or not, is really not my call. But then again whose call is it? And, better still, whose road is it? Maybe a herd of cattle gallop along in the morning causing the wear on the path. Maybe some alien life force shoots laser beams down at it to make it look used. I really don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter if we take the path that is popular. Then again, I’d like to think these things (the cattle and the aliens) because then it would allow me to write all of the cliché things that I find in everyday life and say that I, the Bill Shakespeare of the 21st century, is a genius.
But I am not. Actually, I don’t think I even come close to being a “good” writer. I probably write more for myself than anybody else. I’m like a self-texter, reassuring myself with small phrases that everything will be okay. I aspire to write for the therapeutic benefit of letting it all out.
The beaten path, as a symbol of the literary tradition, is in fact not where I want to be at all. (No matter how much I convince myself that this is where I should end up.) Even these words typing now, clacking away, is more a purging, instead of something like “look at me.”
So with that said, I return to my question: What can be written that hasn’t been written before? Well… that depends on whose reading it. All of you who are reading (skimming is more like it) don’t really care about this post. It doesn’t matter to you.
You aren’t going to be analyzing my symbol of Frost or determining whether or not I use ellipses correctly. You are reading it because you are in a class about writing, and the nice thing to do in such a class is at least give fellow classmates the decency of reading their work, as it still has very little to do with what is going on in anybody’s life but mine.
So what I got a reject letter today. Who cares? I can guaran-damn-tee you that this post like the rest of them will have absolutely no effect on anybody—probably not even myself.
Like I said, I am writing because it releases some of the emotions, the tension, the little demons that float around in my subconscious. A therapy session, thank you very much.
Go read somebody else’s work.
posted by Eriks Reks
I started off this essay thinking about the Kindle that I had recently purchased. I figured talking about that would flush out any ideas I had about technology and reading. While I did end up having many things to say, it unfortunately ended up being too much. With my second revision of my x2, I had this essay about a whole mess of stuff—science fiction, education, people sitting in front of YouTube, etc. If I had 5 months to write this essay then I probably would have tried to manage all of the things I was originally talking about. But I didn’t so I resorted to talking about books—something that I knew was at the heart of the essay to begin with. Perhaps my essay is a little simple and quirky; all I do is talk about loving books. However, in its simplicity, I hope the truth of a bookworm’s love for books resonates. It isn’t really complicated why we love particular things in life; we just do.
by Eriks Reks
In Sarah Vowell’s exposition of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, I found myself drifting along with her tangents without hesitation. From the Alaskan totem poles to Dr. Mudd’s exile, her engagement with history and its quirky relationships is strangely compassionate. Because she attempts to see the big picture, Vowell quietly exonerates some of history’s villains – and if not the villain, at least his big brother. Take Edwin Booth the Thespian for example:
…how Edwin retired from acting out of shame when heard his brother was the president’s assassin, but that nine months later, broke, he returned to the stage here in New York, as Hamlet, to a standing ovation…how he built his own theater, the Booth, on Twenty-third and Sixth…and how, in the middle of the Civil War, on a train platform in Jersey City, he rescued a young man who had fallen onto the tracks and that man was Robert Todd Lincoln, the president’s son, so he’s the Booth who saved a Lincoln. (102)
I apologize that that’s such a large quote, but it goes to show Vowell’s sensitivity in reporting the history of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. In order to narrativize her own experience of kind of wanting to kill a president – remember she says, “So if I can summon this much bitterness towards [George W. Bush] I can sort of, kind of see how this amount of bile or more…could prompt a crazier narcissistic creep to buy one of his country’s widely available handguns” (7) – then she is required to research a relationship that entices this feeling. Luckily, she found such a gentleman in Edwin Booth; and it truly does make the Booth family less sadistic. You almost feel sorry for them – or at least I did. Nevertheless, her research positions this bookmuch more in terms of her answering a question of whether this act was done rationally by John Wilkes, than a traditional reenactment of Ford Theatre’s bloodshed.
by Eriks Reks
I read Faustian Economics a few times. I liked it and I think it had a lot of good things to say. What I appreciated most about the essay was his simple approach.
You may be thinking, Oh, but it’s economics, and he said this and that and the other thing.
Well, he did, but it all revolved around the word “limitless.” When I begin writing – and this happens a lot – I tend to just write and hope that something good will fall out of the process and clunk down on the ground next to me so that I can pick it up. Sometimes this works; too often it doesn’t, and I’m stuck there with words and no substance.
Berry’s essay moves smoothly through different fields of discussion – a language critique, to a Marlowe-Milton analysis, back to looking at modern predatory economics (by way of a veterinarian). You would maybe think – if you haven’t read this piece – that those topics don’t really mend well with each other.
And, you are most definitely right. Yet I think the magic of an interesting essay comes from the ability to link unlike conversations together and make them party. Berry found a word that he could implement and use as mortar, and thusly produced an imaginative, well-thought argument.
So from Faustian Economics, I saw the approach as very effective. He maintained simplicity (by using one word “limitless”) as the backdrop of his essay, and then moved through complex fields that would challenge his word, but remain affiliated.
posted by Eriks Reks
When I sat down to write this reflection, I tried to find something really worth saying, something that would convey to my classmates that I could defeat anyone with my words. And, sadly, I sat there, looked dumbly at the blinking cursor, and realized that I would immediately fail no matter how hard I tried.
So I changed the passage that I originally found in bird by bird, and chose a new one that would apply nicely to this feeling of despondence. Lamott says, “Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believe in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly” (114). Writing, when I first thought of myself as a “writer,” was more-or-less about sounding like a cool Kerouac who could change the face of entire generations with amazing sentences, inspiration, and energy. After a while though, I came to terms with never become that writer. (Lamott recently reassured me of that.) Thus, in the mean time, I have learned to write for writing’s sake, and my own. Putting words on the page, or screen, is something we have to do if we want to call ourselves writers. Professor Harris’ challenge to write daily is vital to our existence. (I had a suggestion, but didn’t speak up. If anyone is interested, there is a website called One Page Per Day, which reminds you to write a page about anything daily. You can set it up to notify your email, and then login with a Google or Twitter account, throw five hundred words on the page, and be done for the day). Whether or not, what we write on any given day could be something great – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we set out to write with confidence, a feeling of purpose that trumps any doubt. We write because we are writers, a self-proclaiming, chosen few.
Only when we are through with the writing can we truly say and admit, “Dammit, I suck at writing.” But then, if we want to continue and survive and call ourselves “writers,” we must start again.