June 14th, 2011

Jamaica Trail

It was a just like any other boring day in the summer of 1989. I was 9years old and my two best friends and I were in the familiar predicament of having nothing to do. None of our usual activities seemed like they would do the trick today. Basketball didn’t seem exciting enough, water balloon fight, not hot enough, too hot for video games inside the hot house with no air-conditioning. It was Dawud, Duane, and I.  You could call us the three musketeers because we did everything together. After much debate and negotiation we arrived at one of our favorite activities of the summer, back trails. For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with what a back trail is, here is a simple explanation. Go to any block in surbarea Queens NY that is fortunate enough to possess a backyard and observe the connection of houses. If you pay close attention to your backyard and your neighbors backyards you will be able to see the path that links all the houses together on one side of the street.  Whether that trail leads you crawling over low garage roofs uniformed in a row, or up a large berry tree to procure the sweet and delectable berries that stain terribly or even scaling and traversing a wooden fence like a trapeze artist from Barnum and Bailey’s circus to evade Carlos’ crazy pit-bull Zabu, back trails were always an adventure. So back to our bright idea to do a back trail, we were feeling particularly adventurous that day and decided to do one of our longest most treacherous back trails, the Jamaica Line. It was aptly named the Jamaica line because the entrance to the trail was located just outside Jamaica Park. It originated at Jamaica Park, crossed the LIRR train tracks, and two avenues and numerous unknown neighborhood houses before terminating just before Hollis avenue.  With such a close proximity to Jamaica Park we were forced to become even more involved with the train tracks. We would climb the dirt hill hidden near the park entrance, and perch near the trestle. From that vantage point we thought it funny to throw rocks and pebbles at not only passing trains but also at the people passing beneath the trestle overpass where we lay in wait for any unfortunate soul to pass. It was out of nowhere when Duane yelled “Look out, the train!” we could barely turn our heads as we glimpsed the locomotive speeding down upon us without hesitation. The speed of the train causing a kind of backdraft that sent the three of us stumbling backwards, even making Dawud take a small yet hilarious stumble a few steps back down the dirt hill. (Duane and I laughed until we thought we would piss our pants watching Dawud struggle to regain his footing.) So you can imagine our distress in seeing two uniformed officers appear from out of thin air and command us to get down immediately and don’t try to run. We froze with fear as we were cornered and forced back down the dirt hill. A minute ago we were Gods atop Mt. Olympus raining down rocks rather than lightening. Now we ourselves were mortal once more, and in a lot of trouble. Turns out the train conductor, the same train that had nearly hit us…he believed he had in fact hit us and called the police to investigate. In addition someone complained some boys were throwing rocks at people off the train tracks. A short police escorted ride home later and I was at the mercy of my parents. I think I would have preferred to stay with the police officers. Well one thing is for sure, I wasn’t bored after that, and we never did the Jamaica Trail again.

June 14th, 2011

Don Quixote…master of his fate

Don Quixote was truly the master of his own fate. He believed in himself and with that belief he conquered all foes, including reality. The author states “The idea that his whole fabric of famous fabrications was real so established itself in his mind that no history in the world was truer for him.” (Cervantes 27) So with this belief Don Quixana began an epic quest to become the greatest knight errant the world has ever known. With this belief Quixana a mere hidalgo described as being of the age of nearly fifty, robust in stature, and with dry skin, ascended to become  to Don Quixote de la Mancha. Don Quixote, a man of character, chivalry, and honor; well in his mind anyway.  With this simple belief that he was destined to be a great knight Don Quixote sought out first legitimacy for his delusional crusade by becoming first a legitimate and honoree knight.

And so, by now quite insane, he conceived the strangest notion that ever took shape in a madman’s head, considering it desirable and necessary, both for the increase of his honour and for the common good, to become a knight errant, and to travel about the world with his armour and his arms and his horse in search of adventures, and to practice all those activities that he knew from his books were practiced by night errant, […] (Cervantes 27)

So with this Quixote fashioned some shabby armor that he put together himself. A crude lance and shield made of leather, and a visor made of cardboard he rode his noble stead, a hack named Rocinante he searched for wrong doings to right. At no point had it occurred to Quixote that he is not a knight, everyone he encountered fell into two categories. Either they knew he was a madman and fed into his delusion, or told him the truth, only to be disregarded as illustrated by the following excerpt; ‘[…] had already suspected his guest wasn’t in the right mind, found his suspicion confirmed when he heard these words and, to have something to laugh at that night, decided to humor him;’ (Cervantes 36) Quixote sings his own praises and reveled in his knight errantry.  Moving from situation to situation no matter what proof was given to Quixote de la Manacha, he simply dismissed it. Even as he attempted to profess the love and beauty of his fair Dona Tolosa he was thwarted due to his own inabilities yet was unable to place the blame upon himself. Instead he blamed his misfortunes on his trusty steed Rocinante. ‘Flee not you paltry cowards; you wretches, bide your time. ‘ Tis my horse’s fault and not my own that I am lying here. ’ (Cervantes 47) Here we have a character who is dedicated his life to the goal of becoming a knight errant and going out charged with helping those in need. Wherever the oppressed dwell or those less fortunate are in need, Quixote is there to protect. However everyone who comes into contact with the great knight endure some small or large misfortune due directly or indirectly to the good knight’s involvement. The other side of the character Don Quixote is that of a completely amoral hidalgo because of his egotistical singular vision. So much is his vision that he has become tuned out of the real world and responds to know references to real world or relative sanity outside of his personal fantasies. Fantasies created and maintained by the fabrications of myths and stories that have fueled his cessation of living life as a simple hidalgo and ultimately with the real world.

June 13th, 2011

Guillermo Sampiero’s “She Lived in a Story”

Guillermo Sampiero, author of “She Lived in a Story” creates a matrix, a world in which his characters are enveloped and are given a life inside a story within a story. In order to establish a base point of reference Sampiero introduces an embedded character or hyponarrative.

A matrix narrative is a narrative containing an ’embedded’ or ‘hyponarrative’. The term ‘matrix’ derives from the Latin word mater (mother, womb) and refers to “something within which something else originates” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). In linguistics, a ‘matrix sentence’ is one that embeds a subordinate sentence. Ordinarily, both the transition to a hyponarrative, its termination and the return to the matrix narrative are explicitly signaled in a text; occasionally, however, a text closes on a hyponarrative without explicitly resuming the matrix narrative (see example in subgraphic [c] below). One could call this a dangling matrix narrative. The systematic opposite to this would be an uninitialized hyponarrative (example?). (Jain N2.4.1)

In this case it is Guillermo Segovia is our hyponarrative. Through Segovia’s eyes we are given a view of a matrix characterized by Segovia, but created by Sampiero. Segovia, a somewhat pompous writer then creates his own view of a world, which he can create inside of Sampiero’s matrix. Inside this world Segovia’s own hyponarrative, Ofelia is created and charged with giving the reader an outlook on the world that Segovia has created, which is in actuality still all within the original matrix created by Sampiero.  Inside Segovia’s world Ofelia writes “I write that he writes a story that I live in.” With this simple admonition everything changes. Ofelia is clearly stating that she is aware of Segovia on one level or another. She is an aware she is a character even as she pens the author of her existence. However I wonder, at this point, does Segovia recognize that he himself is a character? Why does Ofelia write that he writes her story? Although Segovia is writing the story about Ofelia she is aware that she is a character and even of Segovia himself. There is no indication that Segovia shares that enlightenment and therefore very well be authored by Ofelia. It is because Sampiero is proving a crucial point.  She as a hyponarrative can be juxtaposed with Segovia to accomplish any function that Sampiero writes. Any other embedded characters that Sampiero creates can also be employed in this manner. However Ofelia neither Segovia can ever create a world outside of Sampiero’s general framework. It is within this framework or matrix that Segovia and Ofelia live. Within that framework there may be any number of levels of discourse between Ofelia and Segovia for the position of second and third degree narrator. However neither Segovia or Ofelia or any other hyponarrative may ever attain the position that Sampiero holds as creator of the matrix. There are three levels of narration occurring here in the story. Heterodiegetic narration occurs but the idea is played with similar to a game of ‘hot potatoes’.  Not only does the narration shift there is also a physical change in writing between narrators. Segovia’s story concerning Ofelia is written in italics while Ofelia/Sampiero’s story involving Segovia is in regular print. There are many different sub tactics of narration that are being employed by Sampiero. Here Ofelia and Segovia are ontologically separated yet are very much influencing forces on each other’s realties. Ofelia has a feeling of being watched that haunts her. Segovia is haunted by what himself as author of Ofelia has scripted of her. Very philosophical questions are being examined in regards to creation and purpose. Fictional characters like Segovia reacting to the discovery of an imaginary world. Using character discourse, like between Ofelia and Segovia, and focalized narration to view this intricate framework. Sampiero presents a fantastic view of narration “She Lived in a Story.” Simpler stories are less challenging to read, however I believe reading a story like this a peeling back the layers  provides an even more satisfactory feeling upon completion of the story. Once you can have that realization that you have figured out the author’s intent and then to realize that the ambiguity was part of the beauty of the story unfolding, well to me that is a makings of a great author and a well-crafted story.

June 13th, 2011

Narrative Levels in Gulliermo Sampiero’s “She Lived in a Story”

Guillermo Sampiero, author of “She Lived in a Story” creates a matrix, a world in which his characters are enveloped and are given a life inside a story within a story. In order to establish a base point of reference Sampiero introduces an embedded character or hyponarrative.

A matrix narrative is a narrative containing an ’embedded’ or ‘hyponarrative’. The term ‘matrix’ derives from the Latin word mater (mother, womb) and refers to “something within which something else originates” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). In linguistics, a ‘matrix sentence’ is one that embeds a subordinate sentence. Ordinarily, both the transition to a hyponarrative, its termination and the return to the matrix narrative are explicitly signaled in a text; occasionally, however, a text closes on a hyponarrative without explicitly resuming the matrix narrative (see example in subgraphic [c] below). One could call this a dangling matrix narrative. The systematic opposite to this would be an uninitialized hyponarrative (example?). (Jain N2.4.1)

In this case it is Guillermo Segovia is our hyponarrative. Through Segovia’s eyes we are given a view of a matrix characterized by Segovia, but created by Sampiero. Segovia, a somewhat pompous writer then creates his own view of a world, which he can create inside of Sampiero’s matrix. Inside this world Segovia’s own hyponarrative, Ofelia is created and charged with giving the reader an outlook on the world that Segovia has created, which is in actuality still all within the original matrix created by Sampiero.  Inside Segovia’s world Ofelia writes “I write that he writes a story that I live in.” With this simple admonition everything changes. Ofelia is clearly stating that she is aware of Segovia on one level or another. She is an aware she is a character even as she pens the author of her existence. However I wonder, at this point, does Segovia recognize that he himself is a character? Why does Ofelia write that he writes her story? Although Segovia is writing the story about Ofelia she is aware that she is a character and even of Segovia himself. There is no indication that Segovia shares that enlightenment and therefore very well be authored by Ofelia. It is because Sampiero is proving a crucial point.  She as a hyponarrative can be juxtaposed with Segovia to accomplish any function that Sampiero writes. Any other embedded characters that Sampiero creates can also be employed in this manner. However Ofelia neither Segovia can ever create a world outside of Sampiero’s general framework. It is within this framework or matrix that Segovia and Ofelia live. Within that framework there may be any number of levels of discourse between Ofelia and Segovia for the position of second and third degree narrator. However neither Segovia or Ofelia or any other hyponarrative may ever attain the position that Sampiero holds as creator of the matrix. There are three levels of narration occurring here in the story. Heterodiegetic narration occurs but the idea is played with similar to a game of ‘hot potatoes’.  Not only does the narration shift there is also a physical change in writing between narrators. Segovia’s story concerning Ofelia is written in italics while Ofelia/Sampiero’s story involving Segovia is in regular print. There are many different sub tactics of narration that are being employed by Sampiero. Here Ofelia and Segovia are ontologically separated yet are very much influencing forces on each other’s realties. Ofelia has a feeling of being watched that haunts her. Segovia is haunted by what himself as author of Ofelia has scripted of her. Very philosophical questions are being examined in regards to creation and purpose. Fictional characters like Segovia reacting to the discovery of an imaginary world. Using character discourse, like between Ofelia and Segovia, and focalized narration to view this intricate framework. Sampiero presents a fantastic view of narration “She Lived in a Story.” Simpler stories are less challenging to read, however I believe reading a story like this a peeling back the layers  provides an even more satisfactory feeling upon completion of the story. Once you can have that realization that you have figured out the author’s intent and then to realize that the ambiguity was part of the beauty of the story unfolding, well to me that is a makings of a great author and a well-crafted story.

June 8th, 2011

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