March 31st, 2011
Today’s class began with the following: a delightful discussion about kumquats, yummy coffee cake, Dr. Scanlon shaming us about the blog and t-shirts, and symposium discussion. I personally love the idea of a Borderline pastiche (can you do those in film?)
Most of today’s discussion centered on the relationship between “The Master” and Tribute to Freud. Everett began the discussion with the story of Perseus that H.D. related in which she is unsure what character she is supposed to be. Everett thought that H.D. related most to Perseus since he is the creator figure in the anecdote. This is not the first time that we’ve seen H.D. unable to identify with a specific character in her dreams; the Miriam/Princess/Moses dream is the most prominent example. Do you think it’s possible that she relates to all the figures in a particular dream? We briefly talked about H.D.’s role as a prophet after Alyssa brought up that Miriam was a prophet. This is a role that could be assigned to Moses as well. Instead of relating to Moses as the creator of a religion as Freud suggests, H.D. could relate to him as a prophet; that way she would have the male and female author represented in her dream. The princess could represent female power. Anyone else have thoughts on this?
We also focused on the relationship between H.D.’s “The Master” and E.D.’s Master letters. As Scanlon pointed out, H.D. would have been unaware of the Master letters since they had not been published, but there are still some odd similarities between the two, especially the flower imagery. Many people noted that the biggest difference between the two works came down to the tone; Christine talked about how problematic the Master Letters are because they are so subservient in tone. I think one point to expand on is the power dynamics between H.D. and Freud. Scanlon mentioned that H.D. saw herself as his caretaker at times. The only examples I can think of that relationship extend from his vulnerability as an Austrian Jew, but I’d be interested to see if that dynamic comes up elsewhere. I think that H.D.’s insistence in his infallibility is one example, but it doesn’t get to that same caretaker dynamic.
We also (really briefly) touched on H.D.’s relationships with her brothers. We mostly discussed the relationship and how it was routed through her mother, but I think that the relationship can be seen in other ways. When I finished Tribute, I was especially interested in H.D’s story about her father’s brothers’ experiences in the Civil War. Does anyone think this is a palimpsest for her own relationship with her brothers, since H.D. and her father sharing the same role as the one who didn’t go to war? We never even touched on the fact that H.D. confused her father’s birthday with D.H. Lawrence’s death day. Given her relationship with Lawrence that’s definitely up for more discussion.
Choke of the Day: The bookstore for telling Scanlon to buy the wrong book.
MVP of the Day: Sam, for her fabulous movie idea. Can I get the role of the piano player?
Quote of the day: “Do you think they would have been attracted to each other?” Gracie, on the love story between Dickinson and H.D.