Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave" OR Calling All Arachnidologists!

I've been using the winter break to study for my upcoming comprehensive exams. I have to say that I'm really enjoying the process. I think it is good to be confronted with how much we don't know about the things we think we know so much about.

As a writer, it makes me feel small and insignificant when I discover how many works and how many people are really involved in the Literary History of the United States until 1900. Many figures just get a passing nod in the Heath Anthology of American Literature. Many don't get that.

I'm also noticing that I have a lot of spider webs in my house. I guess I already knew this, but until recently I haven't taken the time to look closely and carefully at them.

I tend to give spiders the reign of my house. They just don't bother me enough to whisk them away with my broom, and I figure that if they pose me no danger and we aren't in competition with one another, why not be generous with my space? (Readers, please let me know if the type pictured is dangerous.) When I come through my front door, letting in small flying insects, I like to watch those insects get caught in the webs, then watch the spiders pounce suddenly, wrapping the tiny prey in silk, little snacks saved for later.

They remind me of cattle ropers when they do this.

Then they return to the center of their webs and sit motionless, patient.

Is it sadistic to enjoy this? Or do I just need a fuller social life?

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Bailout for Writers?

Paul Greenberg explores the option in a recent NY Times article.

"[. . .] onetime best-selling novelist and story writer Ann Beattie mourned the situation of the modern writer, living in a world where people are more interested in 'being a writer' than in writing itself. 'There are too many of us, and M.F.A. programs graduate more every year, causing publishers to suffer snow-blindness, which has resulted in everyone getting lost,' she lamented."