Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hot for Teacher


I received the student evaluations of my graduate seminar on anti-heroes in noir fiction in the mail yesterday. They were pretty good with little complaints. Most of the comments on the weaknesses of the seminar were about my nervousness. I have to admit that I was not in prime form at the beginning of the seminar, but as it went on I think I was more comfortable. Another criticism was the limited time, which I've been complaining about since the beginning. Student seminars are only an hour long, while the faculty seminars are an hour-and-a-half. (And the student ones are usually more in depth, so it doesn't make sense - but then again, that's the logic of the program, by which I mean there is no logic) I really wished I had an extra half-hour so I could have gone into how to develop anti-heroes more.

People seemed to have liked the use of clips from The Untouchables. Anything to avoid reading. And apparantly, I seemed to know what I was talking about. Thank god I was able to fool everyone.

The funniest comment was my use of curse words. "Clean up the language." What a fucking load of shit. I read some lines from a couple of books and quoted a few people. My favorite was a quote by James Ellroy who said he "wanted to give crime fiction back to the shitbirds of history." Someone didn't appreciate Mr. Ellroy's comment. Too bad. Earlier in the semester there was a huge exchange on the MFA program's listserv about people swearing in postings. That really pissed me off, but that's another entry for another day.

The second funniest comment was someone's objection that Phillip Marlowe can be seen as an anti-hero. The names on the evaluations are cut off, so we have no idea who wrote what; but I have a good idea who wrote this. That little exchange during the seminar was unbelievable. But more on that later. Yes, Virginia, Phillip Marlowe is an anti-hero.

But, like I said, they were all pretty good, so I'm happy.

15 comments:

The Grumpy Poet said...

I wrote the comment about the naughty words you used in that seminar. Someone should make you eat a bar of Fels Naptha soap, you rotten little potty-mouth.

Steve Allan said...

That's me. Potty mouth extraodinaire.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Sanchez,

Gosh darn it all, if you don't stop all that cussing you're going straight to h-e-double hockey sticks!

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

You did get more relaxed as you went along. A big part of the problem was that it was about 90 degrees in that fucking room. It's hard to stay focused on your topic when your glass keep fogging up or you have to wipe sweat from your eyes.

And, yeah, I know who made the Marlowe comment too.

Steve Allan said...

Patrick, please, watch your language.

Anne Marie said...

It was hot in there. It's because you were there, you delicious hunk of man meat you.

Sandra Ruttan said...

"Clean up the language." What a fucking load of shit.

Tee hee.

ROFLAFAO!

You tell 'em!

Steve Allan said...

Delicious hunk of man meat? If there were ever five words in the English language that described me, those would be it.

Unbelievable said...

I happened to visit this blog because I thought this Steve was another one I became acqainted and was curious to see what kind of noir he was into, as I had no idea he was a noir writer. It was kind of surprising to see that I'm mentioned in a post. I'm sure you remember me making that Marlowe comment. I stick out like a sore thumb there, for fairly obvious reasons, and it seems fairly immature to call it "unbelievable." I really wasn't trying to bust your balls or anything, and maybe I should have just nodded along, in the way that most people get through these things and probably want their own seminars to be gotten through.

Yeah, if you want to go along with every easy and preconceived notion in the book about what an anti-hero is, then Marlowe is. I didn't want to go that way. I spoke out because I happened to actually be interested in the topic at hand. I wasn't talking about anything in any literary context--just felt a need to speak from my viewpoint of the world as it actually is. It doesn't seem like a stretch to think that, in the real world, a man who goes (here's the movie cliche' anti-hero line) 'above the law' can be a hero. Easy Rawlins has cops wanting to kick his ass just because he's black, and the asses of other people just because they're black . . . he certainly has anti-hero qualities, but would that fact alone, the fact that he's hated by the Law, make him an anti-hero? I think you like the idea of an "anti-hero" more than a "hero," which makes for a fairly one-dimensional view of it all.

"He must be the best man in his own world, and a good enough many for any other world." That's not an exact quote of Chandler's definition of what a hero in his fiction was, but it's close, and all I was suggesting was that maybe you should think about your definition. I know for a fact that Marlowe doesn't live up to that ideal, but, even so, it seems pro-world enough for me to have wanted to see this guy as more than an anti-hero. We're on two different sides of what noir can be, and I don't think it needs to be unbelievable, guy.

correction said...

because I thought this Steve was another one I became acquainted with*

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

I stand corrected. I didn't know who it was, after all.

Anne Marie said...

Oh that's right Steve. We poets are filled with succinct and accurate descriptions -- especially of you sexy popfuckers. I mean popficers. Yum.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Anne Marie, just what is that thing you're gnawing on? I get the feeling some important details have been cropped out of the shot...

Anne Marie said...

It's a machete. Mmm yum.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Poets are freaks.