Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Next Stop: Super Glue

Part One

I spent a few hours yesterday researching hagiographies, which is a really fancy religion word for "biographies of saints." As it turns out, this is harder than I thought it would be, because I foolishly assumed that someone had translated hagiographies into English from Latin. I don't know why I thought hagiographies would just be laying around the school library, but maybe it's because that place is a huge pit of books. Too bad the only thing it's good for is getting you lost and confused and possibly trapped between two walls of encyclopedias.

If you think I'm exaggerating, look at Northwestern's library:



Yeah. What IS that? Every time you look up a book, you also have to check to see which pod it's in and what level it's on. And let's say you need four books of different genres. Well, good luck, buddy, because it's going to be a long day of walking and peering and staring and getting shushed by stressed out grad students.

Anyway, my attempts at research were basically fruitless, except I learned that hagiographies mimic Arthurian legends, because the people writing them wanted to make saints seem more like heroes than boring, stuffy monks. This is good news, though, because Arthurian legends are quests for the unattainable (IE- the grail) that involve a lot of physical struggles, and hagiographies incorporate a kind of spiritual quest for the unattainable with a lot of spiritual struggles. Woo!

Damn, my tea is cold. Anyway.

The reason this is good news, and the reason I'm talking about this in the first place is not just because I'm procrastinating and I don't want to read this essay about Huck Finn. It's because last year, when I still had delusions of grandeur about what senior year was going to be like, I decided I wanted to structure my senior thesis (read: another novella, continuing the last one) as a hagiography, and I've been stuck on what exactly the plot of this thing is going to be until I realized this nerdy thing about hagiographies/Arthurian legends.

AND SO, because I have set up this character with a physical difficulty (heart condition), an emotional difficulty (no mother), and a spiritual difficulty ("...Legalism? Or grace?"), this plan to structure the story like a hagiography is actually going to WORK, which is always comforting to me.

So basically, prepare for a series of posts featuring Novella 2 and references to hagiographies, which is a pretty funny sounding word. I realize it more and more as I say it more and more. Hagiography. HAG...iography. Hagio-graphy.

Part Two

Almost every day, my lit professor (who used to be my writing professor) walks into the classroom and tells us about something she read or something she saw on the news that somehow relates to what we're doing that day, or at least that's interesting enough to share with thirty tired college students. It's always hilarious and it's always fascinating. Did you know that they have to bundle up at-risk infants to keep their arms from flailing, because they'll be afraid of their arms, because they don't know that their arms belong to them? Okay, not hilarious, but interesting, right?

A little hilarious? No?

I think what I really like about this is that she continually reminds me that there's stuff in the world worth knowing apart from what you learn in a classroom. That sounds really simple and obvious, but to someone who spends all her time staring at religious texts written a thousand years ago and writing papers and then zoning out at a television (...me), it bears repeating. The world is a huge and fascinating place, full of interesting and crazy and ridiculous and beautiful things, and I'd probably be a better writer if I noticed more of them.

So I have decided to pay closer attention to all things not school-related, and write them down in that moleskine I have, which, by the way, is IMPERVIOUS TO ALL GLUE, because the stuff I glued to the cover keeps falling off no matter how much rubber cement I use. Next stop: super glue.

Have I mentioned that I can see the metra trains arriving and leaving from my apartment window, and that their shiny side panels reflect this purple-blue light at night? Very cool.

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