English 204 handouts

1. Intertextuality- is a practice of using one text to help you read another text. For example a text in the Old Testament can help you read something in the New Testament (Saul and David/Saul and Paul). Sometimes the texts can be really of a different texture. A painting might help you read a poem. A piece of music might shed light on a play or another written text. In this quiz we will use Mallarmé’s poem “Chastised Clown” to help us read Matisse’s Jazz.

2.  In the “Chastised Clown” the clown quits his job at the circus and is renewed as he swims naked in the water. The experience ends badly as the make-up comes off and he feels dirty, and feels like he quit a “sacred” job. The metaphor is comparing the clown to an artist (poet, painter, actor). The experience of “symbol” is the complexity of the act of quitting- is it wrong to quit your vocation, or is it necessary in order to discover the sacredness of what you quit? The “mythic” level is raising the “symbolic” experience to a universal level of quitting a vocation—that is literally a calling from the supreme being of your existence or religion. What if Muhammad or Buddha or Christ quit?

3. In Jazz, we can see Matisse as doing the symbolic act of either quitting his job, or trying to discover why he started his job in the first place. His “clown” is an Icarus figure who flies too close to the sun and falls. There is a necessary flight and failure in all vocations. We will fail. The failure will still be a sign of love if we are willing to continue a vocation in face of the fear of failing. Matisse uses childhood art of scissor cut work to recall how he got started in painting. He loved the circus and “Icarus” type flying acts. He realized his heart was in his painting and at the end in “Tobagon” we see he is not afraid of falling.

4. The Swan:

Literal: stuck in ice for not flying south

Metaphor- swan and artist

Symbol-experience of failing to write or failing to reach an audience

Myth-Universal feeling of exile because you cannot give birth to an idea