Commonplace Entry #10

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

A tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities (source: New Oxford American Dictionary) is what fantasy is. This tendency is its glory. This is why we are so attracted to fantasy, to Tolkien’s, Rowling’s, Lewis’s, Carroll’s characters and universes. Because their world offers us relief from our own, we lean towards their realities.

Especially during finals.

Commonplace Entry #9

” PERHAPS, the Well-regarded Rabbi said, raising his hands even higher, his voice even louder, WE DO NOT HAVE TO SETTLE THE MATTER AT ALL. WHAT IF WE NEVER FILL OUT A DEATH CERTIFICATE? WHAT IF WE GIVE THE BODY A PROPER BURIAL, BURN ANYTHING THAT WASHES ASHORE, AND ALLOW LIFE TO GO ON IN THE FACE OF THIS DEATH?

But we need a proclamation, said Froida Y, the candy maker.”

 –Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, p.13

Stylistically, the author chooses not to use quotes, but italics, to indicate dialogue throughout the whole story. He also places text in all caps in sections in where the character is speaking LOUDLY, so as to convey to the reader that the character is speaking loudly. I think it’s a strong effect as I’m imagining this old orthodox rabbi shouting at people as he’s talking while I read.

Commonplace Entry #8

“Craig, where are you?”

It’s funny how people ask that as soon as they get you on the phone. I think it’s a byproduct of cell phones: people–girls and moms especially–want to nail you down in physical space. The fact is that you could be anywhere on a cell phone and it shouldn’t be important where you are. But it becomes the first thing people ask.

It’s Kind Of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini (p. 232-233)

I like this passage. The author comments on an experience everyone (almost everyone) has. He makes a truthful and honest social commentary. His usage of words (particularly “nail you down”) illustrates the narrator’s emotions in this exchange he has with the person who calls him. The text doesn’t explicitly say if he’s annoyed or not, but through these subtle uses of figurative speech and negative particles (“..it shouldn’t be important where you are.”) one can observe the author’s attitude about this interaction.

Commonplace Entry #7

“She came naturally by her confused and groundless fears, for her own mother lived the latter years of her life in the horrible suspicion that electricity was dripping invisibly all over the house. It leaked, she contended, out of empty sockets if the wall switch had been left on. She would go around screwing in bulbs, and if they lighted up she would hastily and fearfully turn off the wall switch and go back to her Pearson’s or Everybody’s, happy in the satisfaction that she had stopped not only a costly but a dangerous leakage. Nothing could ever clear this up for her.”

-p.16 of “My Life and Hard Times” by James Thurber

James Thurber humorously describes his grandmother in this passage. The ethos he projects about his grandmother is an ill-informed and a paranoid individual. The emotions he elicits in the reader (pathos) includes feelings of amusement, curiosity, and  pity. This short description is written in the medium style, used to entertain and tell a story. I appreciate James Thurber’s clever figures of speeches (one can only consider if electricity leaks without its bulbs or not).

Commonplace Entry #5

“To this day, I prefer to believe that inside every television there lives a community of versatile, thumb-size actors trained to portray everything from a thoughtful newscaster to the wife of a millionaire stranded on a desert island. Fickle gnomes control the weather, and an air conditioner is powered by a team of squirrels, their cheeks packed with ice cubes.” –p.33 of “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris

Mr. Sedaris’s imagination is wildly described through this passage. He dissects how the inside of a television set really functions, that there are actually tiny little people who are able to fit any and all the roles that we have seen through programs before. He also goes on to explain how mythical creatures control whether it’s sunny or cloudy, if there’s rain or drought, and even speaks of squirrels being the reason why the air conditioner blows cold air–that is, because of the ice cubes inside their cheeks! For obvious reasons, this passage made itself known to me in many ways. The descriptions are clear enough that an image of each idea is readily made in my mind and helps me envision these strange and inspiring pictures.

Commonplace Entry #4

When a new disability arrives I look about to see if death has come, and I call quietly, “Death, is that you? Are you there?” So far the disability has answered, “Don’t be silly, it’s me.” -“The Measure of My Days” by Florida Scott-Maxwell

This is the beginning quote given in Chapter 6 of Ellen J. Langer’s “Mindfulness,” which is about aging. I like the entertaining use of words in this quote. The subject experiences a new disability and begins to talk to it, wondering if it’s death this time. The quote finishes with the disability answering back, as if ideas can speak for themselves, that it’s just disability. The subject shouldn’t be silly and question if it’s death, because it’s not–it’s just disability.

Commonplace Entry #3

” A borderline suffers from a kind of ‘emotional hemophilia’; she lacks the clotting mechanism needed to moderate her spurts of feeling.  Prick the delicate ‘skin’ of a borderline, and she will emotionally bleed to death.” -p. 12 of “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus

I really like how the metaphor is used in this sentence to convey how a person suffering from borderline personality disorder suffers. Hemophilia, which is the condition in which an individual bleeds severely due to an inability of the blood to clot, explains how one with BPD can also emote severely and eventually bleed emotionally to the point of nearing death. Sometimes I struggle with using metaphors, so I don’t, but when I read a cleverly used metaphor I take notice of it. This is one of them.