Can Twitter be Literature?

On previous Quote Tuesdays, I’ve talked about how quoting something might say more about the person quoting than the literature itself. The choice to take out a tiny part of a whole and use it to make your point is an artistic choice in itself. Along the same lines, a quote can never fully represent a piece of literature, or anything, for that matter. You wouldn’t want a quote of one thing you said to entirely represent you as a person, would you? Quotes are extremely useful and necessary ways to talk about and analyze writing, but they have limitations.

However, it is not the length of the quote that limits it; it is the lack of its entirety, its context. For example, six word stories have become quite famous, as supposedly inspired by Ernest Hemingway:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.Classic_baby_shoes

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“We perished, each alone”

Following up on my recent musing about Virginia Woolf, I want to talk this week about a quote within a quote. In Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay, a well-read man obsessed with (especially female) admiration who has lost his wife and two of his four children, is traveling toward a lighthouse that existed before his losses. As he sails with his remaining, mutinous children, he repeats to himself, “‘We perished,’ and then again, ‘each alone.'”

Ramsay is quoting a poem called “The Castaway” by William Cowper, the last verse of which reads:

Hovhannes_Aivazovsky_-_The_Ninth_Wave_-_Google_Art_ProjectNo voice divine the storm allayed,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatched from all effectual aid,
We perished, each alone;
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulfs than he.

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The Symbol of the West

This Quote Tuesday I wanted to talk about a symbol that I realized has been cropping up in a lot of the quotes I like recently. The West has long been a symbol for exploration, the unknown, the destination towards which you ride in the setting sun.

Doesn’t get much more Western than this…

I’ve always loved Annie Lennox’s song devoted to Lord of the Rings, “Into the West” (Howard Shore is also a genius). She takes the idea that Tolkien created of races like Elves taking ships to a land of immortality as the age of men gets into full swing in Middle Earth, and she weaves it together with the calming imagery we often associate with the sea and the sunset to create a sense of “home.”

Indeed, if you have read The Silmarillion, the Elves are returning closer to their homeland, the immortal paradise to which they once had access. In Lennox’s song, however, she also elaborates on time; “all will turn / to silver glass” indicates an eventual calming of worldly troubles. The song hints heavily at death as well, however. Continue reading

Quote Tuesdays

I have kept journals of my favorite quotes for years. Some simply appeal to me in terms of the language they use. Others I illustrate to the best of my artistic abilities (capped at high school Art I). Certain quotes inspire me, beautifully putting into words an idea I could not fully form or portraying something from a new angle.

One of my favorite quotes is, in fact, a quote concerning quotes. John Green, bestselling young adult author and Vlogbrother, said, “Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.”

John Green video blogging and making the Nerdfighters' sign

John Green video blogging and making the Nerdfighters’ sign

I believe this to be absolutely true. Quotes are necessarily out of context; one chooses a single, small section of words out of a larger work that strikes one as appealing for some reason, whether that is the language, the ideas, or both. Whatever we choose, therefore, points out what we believe and appreciate. Continue reading