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Meanwhile, the narrative’s temperature steadily increases to a boil, and readers are unable to think or claw their way out.
In the collection’s introductory remarks, Orlean considers her own criteria for selecting essays: “Many of the essays that intrigued me this year were funny, or unusually structured, or tonally adventurous….
What mattered most,” Orlean writes, “was that they conveyed the writer’s journey, and did it intelligently, gracefully, honestly, and with whatever voice or shape fit best.” E.g., I’m not trying to give you a PETA-like screed here—at least I don’t think so.
“Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness from Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed” Franz Kafka had a sense of humour – we were not taught to see this.
“It’s not that students don’t “get” Kafka’s humor but that we’ve taught them to see humor as something you get — the same way we’ve taught them that a self is something you just have.
As Karen Kaplan of Huntington, New York, writes: I imagined feeling the way a lobster feels after being plunged into a pot of boiling water.
I certainly felt like I was rattling and clanking on the lid of the pot trying to escape.In order to save a lot of research-summarizing, I’ll simply assure you that the analogy between frogs and lobsters turns out not to hold.There’s nevertheless a useful correlation between the frog parable and thinking about the structure of Wallace’s career-long engagement within the literary journalistic tradition: He begins slowly, almost tepidly, with his readers, gracefully careening them through a seemingly innocuous narrative about “one of the best food-themed festivals in the world.” Meanwhile, unbeknownst to gourmands and frogs alike, the narrative’s temperature steadily increases to a boil, and readers are unable to think or claw their way out of questioning the varying gradations of consciousness and the responsibilities and subsequent difficulties of living a thoughtful, conscientious existence.On a Wednesday morning in late July 2003, David Foster Wallace made his way to the “the enormous, pungent, and extremely well-marketed Maine Lobster Festival” held every year in the state’s midcoast region.Wallace, “your assigned correspondent…accompanied by one girlfriend and both his own parents,” had been sent there by Gourmet, “the Magazine of Good Living,” whose of a readership no doubt anticipated a freewheeling, lighthearted tour of the festival’s gustatory pleasures of August in Maine, perhaps accompanied by a recipe or two.What are you going to scare me away from eating next? ” Another alternative is to put the lobster in cold salt water and then very slowly bring it up to a full boil.Cooks who advocate this method are going mostly on the analogy to a frog, which can supposedly be kept from jumping out of a boiling pot by heating the water incrementally.“What were you thinking when you published that lobster story?” writes in one distressed reader, continuing, “Do you think I read your magazine so you can make me feel uncomfortable about the food I eat?Wallace’s voice is, to use Orlean’s phrase, tonally adventurous throughout, a contagious bewilderment from Wallace in unceasing conversation with readers of Gourmet, never quite letting them forget that they’re part and parcel to his own thinking about the various “questions of whether and how different kinds of animals feel pain”: As far as I can tell, my own main way of dealing with this conflict has been to avoid thinking about the whole unpleasant thing.I should add that it appears to me unlikely that many readers of gourmet wish to think hard about it, either, or to be queried about the morality of their eating habits in the pages of a culinary monthly.