Transcript of Web Chat "Paper 1"--Wednesday 26 April 2000

John A Stenzel: I am writing this at 8:30, to verify that my configuration was successful, and this worked. I'll check back at 10 and see what happens!

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Ok... Well, I'm writing this at 9:30. I'll be back around 10, still wondering about those same issues I mentioned in last night's chat. Namely what's Porphyria's "utmost will" and "darling one wish"... While it might just be that she wanted the moment to last for the rest of her life, and by killing her he gives her that, that seems too simple... And I kind of think that the Lover character is something more than just a madman... Anyway, I'll be back around 10.

John A Stenzel: Max, do you have an answer for Jackson about the problematical lines in Porphyria?

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Hi! I'm back.

Erin Max Boehlke: No I don't, sorry. I just wanted to know if I can use all of My Last Duchess for my essay.

John A Stenzel: Max, I think MLD as a whole poem is longer than you can treat adequately in this paper. Narrow down to a manageable chunk--I guarantee you'll have more'n enough to write about.

Erin Max Boehlke: Okay, I'll do my best to cut it in half. Thank you, that's all I wanted to know.

Ryan William Ingram: hello - anyone here?

John A Stenzel: Jackson--have you notice tense shifts in this passage? Pretty interesting. Did you look up the words in OED? Have you decided what the "it" refers to? And by the way: if you have a really tough interpretive problem that you can't resolve, you can try to solve it in several ways, articulating the controversy as best you can--that's part of the fun of this assignment, to acknowledge the difficulties and make informed arguments for and against different interps.

John A Stenzel: Ryan, how's the paper going?

Ryan William Ingram: good - almost done, but I actually am wondering about the triple-spaced line-by-line explanation that you want. Does it need to be word for word and nothing more? And also, should I include the word + definitions that I looked up?

John A Stenzel: Ryan--the line-by-line explanation / translation isn't just word by word, it may involve unpacking poetic diction / word-order / syntactic oddities etc. If you need to add a subject for a verb (say) or want to put in a quick def'n, you can use [square] brackets to keep the flow.

John A Stenzel: By the way--to all those who enter here--beware! If you don't send a message, you'll need to keep hitting the "refresh" button every few minutes to stay current...

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Well, I'm guessing that the "it" is the will... But you're right, looking the words up in the OED would be a good idea... I shall refer to my concice version shortly... What do you think of the idea of the lover being something greater than just a madman? I understand the arguments that it IS a madman (repetition of certain phrases, etc), but do you think there's any evidence to support something more than that?

John A Stenzel: Jackson, what do you mean by more than a madman? Are we talking some kind of Nietzschean "Ubermensch" or what? Or a Victorian version of Hannibal Lecter?

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Hmm... my OED (concice) says that "will" is "desire or intention", "intend or desire to happen", etc... there's a couple more definitions like "legal document", but they're obviously not right.

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Well, I'm thinking possibly not really a human, but something like Death? Because at first she doesn't notice anyone in the cabin, and acts like she's alone... and he never actually directly speaks to her... Perhaps she's wishing for death? I realize that there's not a lot of support for her being suicidal, but he seems very surprised that she's interested in him, and if he hadn't known that, one would think she'd do more than ignore him when she came in...

John A Stenzel: Jackson--in Shakespeare's day "will" was a euphemism / slang term that had sexual meanings. Any way you can read those last lines in terms of desire / consummation maybe?

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Ok, yes, I see that, and that ties in with the "too weak, for all her heart's endeavor,/ To set its struggling passion free" etc...

John A Stenzel: Jackson, be careful--remember "whn the only tool you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts to look like a nail." There's plenty here without arguing that she's suicidal...

Jackson Dupree Pritt: However if her will was for sexual consumation, how does her being dead fulfill that? And what is it that she scorns? The fleshly sex-before-marriage stuff?

Ryan William Ingram: I'm a little unclear about whether my thesis is strong enough. It goes something like - is apparent that Laura is sorry for what she did and is trying to correct the harm done to herself. This idea seemed to best sum up the whole idea behind her healing process. Does this make sense?

Ryan William Ingram: she replenishes her thirst and desire for the fruit, realizes that its burning her lips and not exactly as enjoyable as before, but she continues to endure it. Does this sound reasonable?

John A Stenzel: Ryan, where exactly do you get that Laura is sorry for what she did? She's sorry she can't hear the goblin cries anymore, but is that the same thing?

Jackson, don't forget, "scorned" is past tense. Sure, it could refer to refusals in the past.

Ryan William Ingram: it seems obvious that her body is so used to the poison and this new "medicine" is quickly being rejected. But while it seems that she is in pain(well I gues she is), it is healing her. The poison is trying to grab onto whatever kind of hold it still has on her. I related this to the addictive properties and hold that nicotine in cigarettes has on people(so I hear).

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Well, I get that she scorned it (whatever it is) while she was alive, and now that she's dead it's "at once fled"... which I guess ties into the sins of the flesh thing, since she's no longer alive...

John A Stenzel: Ryan, refresh my memory about what lines exactly you are doing. I don't see healing in Laura--quite the contrary, until she's able to get that dose off of her sister's face, right?

Ryan William Ingram: yeah, I'm doing lines 485-506. But if the healing started after she got the juice off her sister's face, it's obviously the juice, right? So wouldn't it have started "healing" from the moment she began licking it off? Because it does say just after her starting, "Her lips began to scorch" and "She loathed the feast". So we know that the same thing(fruit) is having a different effect on her here than it did previously. Could I conclude that there is some sort of "healing" taking place here? I hope I'm understanding this poem correctly...

Margaret Ellen Slatterly: Hi I am here, but I don't really have any questions. Just wanted to see if it is the same as last night.

John A Stenzel: Margaret--did you check out the transcript of the other conference? I answered a couple of questions at the end of that one. How are you doing on yr paper?

Margaret Ellen Slatterly: Yes, I did see the transcript. I feel pretty ok about it. I just have a little "buffing" to do.

Andrew Steven Delfino: John, I was wondering how long our papers have to be before we should start worrying that they are too long.

John A Stenzel: Andy, my usual philosophy on length is +-150 words or so is OK, but if you get over a page too long there'd better be very good reason to keep reading... If you end up with pages extra, make your cuts and maybe include the dregs as an appendix.

Andrew Steven Delfino: Okay, thanks. I guess it wouldn't hurt to cut a little more. That is the problem with good poetry: too much good stuff.

Margaret Ellen Slatterly: Well instead of chatting , I am going to finish up my paper. Just thought I would check in.

John A Stenzel: Ryan, I'm loving this. Your nicotine analogy would then mean that Laura is on some super "patch" that is getting her enough of the drug to recover from withdrawal... Seriously, how are you explaining the different effects anyway? I'll be interested to see the case you make. It's not a trivial problem, these lines!

Ryan William Ingram: The different effects that the juice has on her? Do you mean how it first pleases her and then sends her into a downward spiral of seemingly unrecoverable illness? I'll have to look through my paper, I don't remember everything I said. But I do remember something else that I mentioned pertaining to Laura's need for "healing" - it's not only on the more obvious physical level but on another level as well. I said that she comitted one of the 7 deadly sins(gluttony-because of her need for "present" satisfaction, ignoring the future and her sister's warnings) - because of this, she must suffer some kind of pain, or "healing" process in order to make things right again.

Andrew Steven Delfino: Ryan, what about the possibility of committing other deadly sins, like greed or lust. I got the sense from the poem that the eating was a metaphor for her carnal urges. That could just be my warped view though...

John A Stenzel: Hey Jackson, by the way, you asked about "rehearsals for what?" last night--I sing in a semiprofessional chorus based in the East Bay called Pacific Mozart Ensemble, and every year we put on a big a-cappella jazz and pop concert with a huge range of music. The chorus as a whole rehearses on Monday evenings, but small groups (for j & p) rehearse on their own. Just 'cause you asked...

Jackson Dupree Pritt: Ooh! Singing! Neat! It's nice to see that some of our teachers here at the great UC of D are multi-talented! Anyway, I'm off to work on my paper. Thanks for the help, I'll try not to stray to far off into the lands of conjecture and stick with what the text actually has to say. G'night all! :-)

John A Stenzel: Ashlyn, how is Meredith's couple treating you? putting the "fun" in "dysfunctional?"

Ashlyn Zeff Simmons: Hi! This is pretty cool! Yeah, I have a question- What
do you guys think about this line

"Fast, sweet, and golden, shows the marriage knot."

It is the second to the last line of Sonnet 17 by George
Meredith. Umm, I can run down stairs and get a page

I thought it was interesting combination of descriptive
words because "fast" seems to describe the true
fleetingness (?) of the love that doesn't exist between
the narrator and his wife anymore while "sweet and
golden" describe how their relationship appears to
others. Also, if you combine "fast" with "knot", isn't a
fast knot one that won't slip? Suggesting that marriage
is securing him, binding him?

Ryan William Ingram: hmmm...that's possible. gluttony is just the first thing that popped into my head, but maybe greed would work better.

John A Stenzel: Ryan, interesting point about the Sins. CR avoids explicitly saying this is Lust at work, instead making it Gluttony--with some of the same effects as it would've had if she'd been sexual.... Quick question: have you seen the classic movie "Bedazzled?" Stars Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (and Raquel Welch as a matter of fact). A remake is shooting this year in SF and LA I just read.

Ryan William Ingram: No I haven't seen that one. Is it similar to the poem or something?

Andrew Steven Delfino: I like that Ashlyn

Ashlyn Zeff Simmons: Help! How do I keep the current conversation on my
screen? do I need to keep pressing refresh all the time
and keep scrolling to the bottom?

Andrew Steven Delfino: I saw that movie... very dry humor it seems to me. I see how you can relate it to "Goblin Market": beware of what you wish for, you just might get it

Andrew Steven Delfino: Am I close?

John A Stenzel: Ashlyn, I think your second defn is the one--how does the s-v-o shake out here? What's the subject in this sentence?

John A Stenzel: Ashlyn, consider "shows" as meaning "seems to be" or "puts on a show of being." See how then the inverted word order would make sense?

John A Stenzel: Andy, I think that's a good connection between the movie and the poem. And no Ryan, the movie is only tenuously related to the poem at best! ;-)

Andrew Steven Delfino: John, for the last time... about an extra half page is not fatal verbal obesity

John A Stenzel: Andy, as the Aussies say, "no worries mite." I get apoplectic when students turn in ten instead of five...

Ryan William Ingram: Ok, I'm outta here. Thanks for your help!

John A Stenzel: Well, at the risk of being like those profs who ask "Any questions?" and assume there are no questions, I am going to sign off pretty soon--a couple more minutes. I'll be in my office tomorrow morning. See y'all in class. Hope this has shown the potential usefulness of the tool. Kind of an odd way to carry on multiple conversations, but once you get used to it it could work.

Ashlyn Zeff Simmons: OK, so the marriage knot appears to be fast, sweet,
and golden would be another way of saying this. And
you think that fast means lasting in this sequence?

Ashlyn Zeff Simmons: oK- Thanks, this is pretty neat see you tomorrow

John A Stenzel: Sure Ashlyn. Didja look it up? I know there's a poem somewhere called "the hold-fast" or something, and I'm pretty sure "fast" meant secure for a long time. Unfortunately my compact version OED is in Alexander's bedroom and I'm not going in there...

John A Stenzel: OK y'all--over and out.

Andrew Steven Delfino: thanks.