“Now that’s some well-and-true high-minded theorizing, but think about what frequently receives called Southern gothic now. A misspelled phrase on a sign for a boiled-peanut stand. The mood cued by way of cheesy Dobros on TV movies. A rusty school bus in someone’s backyard.”
“Sounds like those Jeff Foxworthy redneck jokes,” Tammy says.
“Exactly. Kind of secure and stupid. Or worse, things get categorized as Southern gothic which might be simply unspecific nightmares or social problems. The term has been sort of redefined through misuse.”
I keep: “Dickinson’s home turf has a viable gothic, too. The South had Oral Roberts persecuting humans for having beards, and groups dressing in sheets, striking people for his or her skin colour. But Massachusetts persecuted accused witches and maintained paranoid, socio-economically pushed narratives of sacrifice and ownership.” I cross on, trying to explain that the North is just as authentically spiritually haunted and spiritually entangled in the dynamics of denial and confession as the South.
“Look at what the Northerner Dickinson wrote from her doorstep,” I say, and examine from Poem 1583:
Witchcraft became hung, in History
But History and I
Find all of the Witchcraft that we want
Around us, every Day—
Class ends on this note, and I sense like we didn’t get some distance sufficient. Examining Dickinson’s poetry is like releasing an ant from a spider’s web with tweezers, which, come to think about it, is some thing human beings might be moved to do on their porches on dark evenings in Gainesville.
The following few instructions move properly as we plunge forward and the students get to know Dickinson better. We unmarried out lots of her defining developments, crudely lowering her traits to a pinnacle-ten list. The dashes and randomly capitalized abstractions go down effortlessly for the students, as does Dickinson’s hyper-self-referentiality. One pupil, who loves to mention masturbatory, unearths something to mention masturbatory about. Another student likens a number of Dickinson’s “I-me-my” strains to the braggadocio of rappers, obvious whilst Dickinson boldly recognizes how she’ll be remembered after she is dead even though simplest eleven of her 1,775 poems (fewer than 1 percent) noticed book during her lifetime:
My Splendors, are Menagerie—
But their Completeless Show
Will entertain the Centuries
When I, am lengthy ago,
An Island in dishonored Grass—
Whom none however Beetles—understand.
We look at her use of citation marks, at how postmodernly sassy, mocking, and ironic they may be, often wondering such utopian notions as “Paradise,” “Hope,” “Faith,” and “Heaven.” We shaggy dog story approximately a man or woman that the late Chris Farley used to do on Saturday Night Live, who’d overgesticulate creepy citation fingers as he mentioned his “hygiene” and “fitness.” Our chuckling subsides when I factor out that the various words between Dickinson’s quotations indicate that her truth was the unending night of the depressive; “Tomorrow” and “Morning” are punctuated as if doubtlessly fictitious.
The students get a feel of Dickinson’s rich inconsistency as we have a look at poems that make aggressively polarized arguments about religion and dying and love and nature and sexuality. This slipperiness frustrates them in the beginning, specially the linear Lauren Hendrickses of the class, current as they do in a international of O’Reilly Factors complete of absolute, uncompromising, and often righteous stances on issues. The protection of any intellectual flexibility is supersized to ambivalence or downgraded to waffling, symptoms of weak point or culpability of their worldview.
One afternoon I’m sitting in my workplace answering the e-mail of a pupil who disappeared for weeks however now desires to catch up. He’d heard we were doing “something about Angie Dickinson,” so I attempt to sort out for him the nuanced variations among the solitary poet and the swinging film superstar. Someone knocks. I limit the email window, dispose of my wad of gum, flip down the tune, and open the door to welcome a pupil named Jillian Jenkins.