Off to Ghana

Hello my fellow lit, film and social justice heads,

I am off to the small village of Have, Ghana to volunteer for four weeks and won’t be updating this blog while I’m away. I do hope to share my daily experiences at my travel blog, Alfajiri: Destination Africa, (a blog which has since been integrated here) electricity permitting. Stop by and say hello. It’ll be nice to converse with familiar folks from home.

See you in August!
– AtticFox

I’ve Been Robbed

I learned last week through the WordPress pingback feature that a substantial number of Brain Drain posts had been mentioned on another site. As any blogger would probably agree, to see a pingback to what you’ve written is an honor of sorts, a hat tip to your brilliance or at least a mockery of something quirky you’ve said. You smile, feel full of yourself for a minute (sometimes two) and move on. Instead, this list of pingbacks aroused suspicion. This is a partial view:

literature linked here saying, “Silence Speaks Louder In response to Richard Barsa …”
literature linked here saying, “Anne Finch: Creating Her Own Space The poem ?The …”
literature linked here saying, “Quills: Voyeur as the Voice of Reason The Voyeur a …”
literature linked here saying, “Objectivity: A Question of Perspective In referenc …”

Although I’d like to think I’m that important, nobody is worthy of being legitimately quoted twelve times in a single day.

I followed the pings to their source. There, a solid, orange banner bore the photo of a young woman-child. She wore a skimpy, green silk halter and cowboy hat. Her long, blonde highlights were seductively fanned by some off-screen electronic device yet there was an innocence about her that threw me. The small image was cocked to one side and framed as if it were a film negative but that didn’t produce the negative feeling in my gut as much as the title ”literature” in bold letters (with a lower case L and quotes included) under which were all my latest posts. Only one, Aisha in Rwanda: In Need of Humanity, had been offered up for redistribution, NOT MY WHOLE DAMN BLOG.

While one knows that to blog is to run the risk of having your thoughts hijacked, still, the kicker was seeing a copyright symbol at the bottom of the page alongside the words “posted by Smite jonz.” Funny, Smite, you look a lot like ME in that picture linking to an article all about ME in the Saint Rose Chronicle.

Smite chose Blogger to host his (?) site, which works hand in hand with Google’s AdSense Program. From the look of it, this thief stole material from all over the web for two months, increasing the chances of drawing site traffic through numerous keywords. Cha-ching. Any visitor clicking through a sidebar ad generated a small pittance for Smite. The problem is this (as if there is only one here). The last time I looked at Smite’s tracking widget by, new visitors were pouring in by the minute from all over the world to read my material and with no kickbacks to me.

Ad-ing insult to injury, the kind of advertisements I was generating was astonishing. According to Google:

AdSense for content automatically crawls the content of your pages and delivers ads (you can choose both text or image ads) that are relevant to your audience and your site content?ads so well-matched, in fact, that your readers will actually find them useful.

How does my text translate to “Pro-Republican” in bot speak???? There were seven Republican spots on “my” page.

I notified the folks at Blogger last week, following their procedure by attaching a copy of my passport photo for proof of identity. By using my real name and photo, not just my screen name, Smite may have temporarily dealt a heavy blow to my identity but he also gave me legal leverage in pursuing him. I’ve been watching to see how Blogger would deal with the offender and the site was finally removed today.

Of course, I’m pleased to be me again. More than that, this experience has taught me that it’s possible to make some dough off my own work. It’s been proven by Smite and his boatload of field testing, field testing that I’ve already paid for and learned a great deal from. Thanks for all the hard work, Dude. I’ll use it wisely.

Then again, perhaps the wiser choice is to stick with WordPress whose policy states:

We have a very low tolerance for blogs created purely for search engine optimization or commercial purposes, machine-generated blogs, and will continue to nuke them, so if that’s what you’re interested in is not for you.

It seems, once more, capitalism has been proven to gum up the works of “free” speech.

More Pre-Romantic Poets

Assignment: Respond to comment from the fictional professors below.

“Mary Robinson’s “London Summer Morning” is a cheap rip-off of Swift’s “A Description of The Morning”; she gives us a list of London sights and sounds but without the satirical bite.” – [Fictional] Professor Larry Hunt

In Mary Robinson’s poem “London Summer Morning” (1800) and Jonathan Swift’s “A Description of The Morning” (1709), each poet similarly departs from the classical pastoral tradition. These poems record the less aesthetic details of urban noise and filth surrounding the daily preparations of industrialized London rather than idealizing the dawn as a time of beauty, peace and renewal. While this strong similarity exists with almost a decade between publications, this does not constitute a “cheap rip-off” on the part of Robinson, regardless of her allusion to line seven in Swift’s poem.

Poets have often shared common interest and observations of their mutual societal surroundings and have engaged in discourse with each other over time through the poetic craft. Robinson’s engagement with the subject matter of Swift’s poem, as well as her own surroundings, is no less valuable than Dryden’s allusions to Greek mythology in order to reference the common social shorthand of understanding.

While Robinson “lists off” a series of London’s sights and sounds, her poem is not without the revered satirical bite present in Swift’s poem. The details she chooses to include are telling of London’s class divide and the way she portrays this divide is not without bias. Swift’s poignant poem solely draws upon images of the working class while Robinson juxtaposes the tasks of the working class and poor with those of the upper class elite. This juxtaposition, in my opinion, better illustrates the disparity between classes, while at the same time demonstrating their interdependence. The elite are not the ones paving the way for the day’s smooth operation, but their wealth is what affords the lower working class the monetary means of sustenance via the exchange for goods.

The most biting bit of Robinson’s satire is evident in lines 27-29, “Now pastry dainties catch the eye minute / Of humming insects, while the limey snare / Waits to enthrall them.” One must wonder if the insects are truly the wealthy consumers ensnared by the wares of the working class. This image bestows power to the merchants, no matter how filthy and loud they are in their marketing methods when compared with the appearance polished upper class. The “eye minute” could illustrate that the elite do not see or acknowledge the class disparity displayed before them, but rather their eye is on the prize. This is not to say that the working class occupies a minimized position in Robinson’s mind. The shop-keeping damsel “Now, spruce and trim” (line 23) and “smart” (line 25), becomes well kept by the time the passerby “Peeps through the window, watching every charm” (line 26). Although “charm” could be a reference to the wares for sale, it seems more likely that the watching refers to action rather than an inanimate object. Thus, the charm described here is likely that of a seduction of sorts in the art of the sale. We see this type of positive spin from line 2 where the smoke of noisy London is described as “sultry.”This transition of dawn is when the “have nots” become the “haves” and the wealthy become those in need.

While Swift’s poem well observes and records London’s morning, Robinson overtly places the job of the poet somewhere between the working class and the elite. Granted, her “poor poet” is awake, laboriously recording the goings on of the day and making meaning of the sights and sounds. At the same time, that poet does so from within the space of strict observance after rolling out of bed, perhaps from a second story window with a full view of the entire street and not necessarily on the same level as those being observed. This poet is like the upper class who hears the sounds of London but does not partake in working to make them. According to Smith, this in-between space is reserved for poets who, regardless of looking out from within, write from beyond the boundaries of mere existence by consciously entering the realm of all that they observe. While borrowing from Swift via poetic discourse, this observance of poetic process becomes Robinson’s new and interesting twist on what Swift has to offer.

“The history of the late eighteenth- century poetry documents the poet’s increasing self absorption, reaching an apotheosis in a poet like Charlotte Smith.” – [Fictional] Professor Sarah Black

Late eighteenth-century poetry, while moving away from social generalizations used to instruct the masses, has certainly migrated toward self awareness through personal musings. To say that this self awareness is “self absorption” and that Charlotte Smith is the quintessence of an entire era is blatantly overstating the point. This overstatement is particularly evident when a poet like Aphra Behn, with a style also new for her time, worked equally hard to achieve similar exploration of the feminine self, albeit without the evolution of linguistic style and form yet enabling her to achieve the same results.

Smith may take a comparatively heavy handed approach to self expression, offering her personal emotions freely throughout her poetry, but her work is far more than evidence of self absorption. It is also a social commentary on the lives of women who are not well married, the numbers of which throughout history offer no singular experience. In larger works such as “The Emigrants,” Smith abandons a strong focus upon self reflexive feelings. Instead, she traces the challenges of those aristocrats and Catholic clerics fleeing the French Revolution and acknowledges the women left behind in France by those who become counter-revolutionary soldiers. This broad view of historical events aligns more with Augustan poetry written to instruct the public. Where the difference lies is within the gender balanced subject matter.

None of this is to say that Smith’s poetry hasn’t been a direct source of inspiration to William Wordsworth, the very man who defined the scope of Romanticism. It is simply to say that, rather than to call Smith a self absorbed apotheosis, it would be far more accurate to say that Smith’s ability to turn inward for self validation in a world where no public validation existed has inspired a new poetic era while, at the same time, her poetry successfully educates the public on the feminine position within the social spectrum.

Preromantic Poetic Poop

My friend Erin keeps a blog called Feed Your Head in which she regularly compiles random information. As I read this month’s update, I couldn’t help but think of several of those wiley pre-romantic poets.

Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray

… even though the average American moves 11 times in their lifetime, 61% will die in the same state in which they were born.

Cheers to Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” and all those farmers who probably died in the same town as where they were born.


If I were a poet…

What British Romantic Poet are You?

Your Result: You are George Gordon, Lord Byron!

Byron was as well-known for his lifestyle as for his remarkable works. He was a poet, athlete, womanizer, and gunrunner, who was once accused of writing poetry “in which the deliberate purpose…is to corrupt.” He died at 36.

You are John Keats!
You are William Blake!
You are William Wordsworth!
You are Samuel Coleridge!
You are Percy Shelley!
What British Romantic Poet are You?
Create MySpace Quizzes

Hmmm. Not sure how I got this result.

  • My work is not remarkable… I’m a jane-of-all-trades?but?master of none
  • I’m SO not athletic
  • I am a woman, not a womanizer
  • Gunnrunner? My dad made me shoot?a .22?when I was young, but I’m no Dick Cheney.
  • I’m not out to corrupt anybody, just enlighten them, but I can see how?perspective would depend upon point of view.
  • Last but not least, I’ve already outlived this dude.

Goodbye Luciano

Luciano Pavarotti passed away on the 6th of this month and, although I didn’t know him, it saddens me.

One of my favorite memories about being a flight attendant was a 1998 trip to Italy. Pavarotti was seated in first class. The famous tenor’s manager had arranged for our airline to provide a special meal on board. Once in the air, Pavarotti stepped into our galley to be sure that his request wasn’t causing any trouble. A jovial man, he made us laugh, broke out into song, and suggested we take a group photo. He was singing as he posed with me and some of our crew. (I’m just to the left of him, wearing a barrette.)

Before the month was out, I just wanted to recognize Pavarotti’s much appreciated good will and cheer. It made my flight and will not soon be forgotten.