Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Peer Seminar Discussion

One the advantages of blogging a course is the ability to informally publish scholarly analyses from seminar that would otherwise get no further airing. Yesterday's discussion of Rob Roy in terms of the two genres under study was most exceptionally strong, (humblingly so, in fact.) Accordingly, I will use this post to edit and copy any of your written summaries that I receive. I encourage you to continue the discussion in the "Comments" section ...

  1. Justice: Stalky & Co. has it. There is a reason there for the violence and it is always rationalised & controlled (as in the larger Empire model). The punishments fit the crime and there is always justice done after the rebellion. Comparatively, as far as Pinkie is concerned there is no justice. He commits murder and gets away with it. It can be argued that the lack of justice is Pinkie's downfall. He gets in over his head, has no sense of plausible boundaries to guide his behavior and, thus uncontrolled, things prove to be too much for him to handle. [Instructor: I liked very much the analogy you came up with in class of Pinkie as a "wind-up toy murderer." He just buzzes about from some inner compulsion, and in the absence of respected baffles or blinds to guide him on a sensible direction, he ultimately simply wheels & careers over a cliff.]
  2. My comment in class today was that the characters in Brighton Rock differ strongly from those in Stalky & Co. with regards to confidence. As you mentioned in one of the Stalky lectures, one thing that makes those boys so frightening (or rather, made them frightening to 19th-century authorities) was their complete and total confidence in themselves and their abilities. In Brighton Rock, characters are constantly speaking and acting out of paranoia and insecurity, rather than out of confidence. I suggested thatthis causes them to act in a reactive rather than proactive manner; it seems that true "stalkiness" would consist of planning a "stalk" and carrying it out accordingly, rather than making a mistake and finding ways to cover it up after-the-fact. [Instructor: Brilliant!] I also posed a question to the class, however convoluted or masturbatory it may be: If confidence is what makes Stalky frightening or "demonic", what does Pinkie's paranoia and insecurity say about Pinkie if we view him as the "fallen" Stalky?
  3. In seminar to-day we discussed the following: 1. Pinkie's phone no: three sixes. We thought this meant that Pinkie, being aged 17, was still a boy, not yet a man, and also that three sixes is the demonic symbol. 2. Cigars are mentioned in connection with Colleoni, a father figure, but when the inspector offers Pinkie a cigarette Pinkie refuses one because he doesn't smoke even cigar-ettes ...
  4. In regards to today's debate question in class (How is Pinkie like a fallen Stalky?) Pinkie's model of behavior and society is a realistic model; while the Stalky model is far too idealistic. Pinkie's world is darker and much lonelier than Stalky's because it is meant to represent real life. Outside of the military school Stalky and his chums attend there is a big badworld that does not care for pranks and tomfoolery. Stalky lives in a world where everyone looks out for one another, while Pinkie lives in a world much like ours, where people look out for No.1. I would appreciate any feedback. Do you believe the world that Pinkie lives in is much more like our own? [Instructor: I certainly do. A minor observation of mine is that the Stalky world is not technically "idealistic." As I enjoy saying so much, Kipling is a literary genius -- of a type for certain, but granted that type a very great genius. His portrayal of the United Services College is idealised - absolutely. However it is much more of realism than its (many) detractors -- then and now -- are either comfortable with or have the courage to admit! Indeed, what is actually behind much of the loathing of Stalky & Co. is the deep but unacknowledged awareness that so much is accurate: the horror, that is, that such a world in microcosm existed, and in principle could exist again]

4 comments:

maggie said...

In response to the Atwood quotation: what about the mind--the cunning mind which drives the body?
Women's mind aren't cunning??? Women's tongues can't be lethal???
Or is Atwood talking about sponteneity?

Anonymous said...

Does Atwood think men have minds?

Miss Peacock said...

It strikes me as difficult to contemplate Atwood's comment on men's bodies without any knowledge of the context in which it was written/stated. It comes to my mind that it may be very well possible Atwood made this comment in a mocking spirit -- which may very well underline our course theme of failed performativity, in the sense of -- failing to "get" the joke. And what better person could there be to joke about a man than a woman?

Anonymous said...

One of the very best things you can do is attend a sales seminar.