Lectures, Lectures, Lectures

Monday’s lectures got progressively better as the day went on. We started out with a brief overview of Irish literature, followed by a talk (I won’t call it a lecture) by Glenn Patterson on how he got his ideas for one of his books, Mill for Grinding Old People Young. I really enjoyed listening to him talk about Belfast, and why he chose certain places in Belfast to use in his book. He also told us about the exact day when he knew that he would write this book, which is apparently pretty rare in the writing world. He told us that his daughter, Miranda, had just been born, and when she started crying one night, he got up to “have a chat” with her, and while he was up with her, all of the ideas for this book started forming in his mind. I thought that was a cool story when we were listening to him, but after class that day, we went to a really cool bookstore called No Alibis, and got Mill for Grinding Old People Young, and inside the front cover where an author dedicates his/her book, it said “For Miranda, who made sure that I was awake.” How cool is that? It feels pretty neat to know the backstory of a book dedication.

Our final lecture of the day was called “Class Politics and the Irish Stage.” As someone very intrigued with sociology, I thought this was great. We started out talking about the working class and how that has changed post-industrialization. This speaker was great because he would throw in quotes once in a while, let them simmer, finish making his point, then he would come back to the quote and connect them to whatever he was talking about. One such quote was by E.P. Thompson who said that “class is a relationship, not a thing,” which totally makes sense because no matter what class one may be in, it is their relationship with other classes that define class itself. We also talked about “cultural capital,” coined by Pierre Bourdieu, which is so perfect. I can think of so many situations where “cultural capital” would have described exactly what I was thinking, but I could never come up with those perfect words. Anyways, our professor made the claim that literature, theater, music, etc. has been geared towards people with large amounts of cultural capital. This isn’t good because the arts should be something that everyone can relate to. This is a generalization, but take rap, for example. It’s typically associated with inner city, working class populations, and these populations aren’t viewed as having large amounts of cultural capital, but why not? If rap is an art from that conveys certain feelings about a situation then why can’t it be valued as cultural capital? Doesn’t Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel convey certain feelings about a situation? Why does that have so much more cultural capital than rap? The question is, why does cultural capital have to be stuck in the upper class? Although “culture” among any group that isn’t white upper class is starting to even out a little bit (i.e. Chicano Literature Studies, Native American Studies, etc. are gaining some ground), cultural capital still leans so heavily to upper class populations. Fascinating stuff.

In other news, when I put on my makeup in the morning, I close the toilet lid and set my makeup on there because we have very limited counter space. Normally that’s fine, but this morning, I set my blush on the back end of the toilet, behind the lid. Turns out that bit is slanted because I watched my blush slide through between the toilet and the lid (all in slow motion of course), then I heard the miserable clink of the blush on the toilet bowl. I opened the lid to find that my blush had sunk to the bottom of the bowl, and of course the lid wasn’t air tight. Ah well. I guess I have another funny memory to tuck away. Speaking of memories, I think that everyone should go see Inside Out, the new Pixar film about what goes on in a young girl’s brain when her family moves across the country. The movie takes place inside her brain, and each memory is associated with a different emotion. It’s very cute and introspective.

Today we took a field trip to Derry/Londonderry, but that post will have to wait for another day. As they say on this island, Cheers!

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