What Does it Really Mean

I really like when writers use metaphors and symbolism because I like to think outside of the box. I think metaphors and other forms of symbolism add to the allure of writing because they stimulate thought. Metaphors force readers to think about the main idea of what is written and also how the metaphor relates to the text as a whole. They often stimulate discussion because the interpretation of the metaphor often varies from person to person. The piece that resonated with me the most from the readings this week was Andrew Sullivan’s “Why I Blog”. What stood out to me about Sullivan was his writing style and his use of metaphors, he made me think outside of the box. I respect blogging as a discipline a lot more now that I have read and reflected on Andrew Sullivan’s piece.

Sullivan had a few metaphors in his piece that I thought were interesting, but one stood out to me more than the others. Sullivan compared being a good blogger to being a good host of a dinner party. I was baffled when I first read over this idea and I thought being the host of a dinner party and being a blogger couldn’t be more different. I was forced to ask myself, what does being cordial and food really have to do with writing a blog? Sullivan forced me to think outside of the box to try to find a relationship between the two.  Sullivan provided a brief sentence to justify the correlation between the two, and after reading it, I was able to find the relationship between them well. The objective of a dinner party host is to create a hospitable environment, while at the same time, engaging in honest and thought provoking conversation with your guests. Healthy conversation will lead to some agreements and some disagreements, but as a host, your main duty is to remain as respectful as possible in an effort to ensure that your guests remain comfortable. Similarly, as a blogger Sullivan wants to make readers feel comfortable enough with what he is saying to comment on his writing, while remaining honest and respectful. I didn’t think it was possible to find any similarities between two things like being a dinner party host and being a blogger, but Sullivan forced me to think outside of the box and I appreciate that ability in a writer.

The short piece I decided to bring in to class 1/11/12 is a letter written by James Baldwin. I appreciate Baldwin’s abilities as a writer as well. In the letter, Baldwin is writing to his nephew in 1965, 100 years after the Emancipation. The reason why it resonates with me so much is because the topics Baldwin discusses in the letter are important in the history of my race. When I read this letter I feel like the words are more than just words on a page. I feel like I am in another world when reading Baldwin, his words sometimes makes me forget where I am, all I can think about is what I am reading. I know it won’t be easy, but I want to be able to write like he does. This note from Baldwin was special to me because he was writing it to his nephew; a young boy who Baldwin knows has a long future ahead of him. Baldwin knew that if he could make an impact on his nephew’s life at a young age he could help make his thoughts conducive to living prosperous life as an African American male despite racial prejudices in the world around him.

In Orwell’s piece he talks about the importance of a writer’s influences in their early life when thinking about their writing. James Baldwin was a homosexual African American man subjected to a substantial amount of racism and discrimination throughout his life for his beliefs. As a result of the discrimination he was faced with, he spent a lot of time alone, refining his thoughts and perusing through books and his mind looking for what his purpose was in life. He eventually left America and went to France to find a better life for himself and to become a better writer. It is sad things got to be that difficult for Baldwin, but his early life experiences and his beliefs made him the man he was. I actually think more highly of him as person and as a writer knowing that he went through so much in his life.  He is a one of the best writers I’ve ever encountered and he is extremely thought-provoking.

2 thoughts to “What Does it Really Mean”

  1. I agree that one of the most important qualities of a writer is that he or she can get the audience thinking. I think this holds true today more than ever. Considering the diminishing amount of time our generation spends reading, especially relative to our parents, writers today need to strive to be as engaging as possible.
    Reading about Baldwin made me think of Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”; have you read it? The main character of this novel also felt rejected from a racist society. He too found solace in being alone and shutting himself off from the world. His experiences certainly influenced him as a person and writer. Ellison’s magnum opus is brimming with metaphors and symbolism.
    Finally, I also agree with your opinions of Sullivan’s piece. Although I was doubtful of blogging since I had never experienced with it, he brought up many good points that make me respect it too. I especially liked what he said about blogging’s purpose to stimulate traditional writing, not completely overhaul it.

  2. Ron, I think this is a really good post–and you could get even more out of it if you could talk about HOW Baldwin makes you lose yourself in his writing, etc. So that’s definitely a quality worth wanting to achieve, but you’ll be able to emulate it more successfully if you can pinpoint the things he actually does with words that get you into that frame of mind. For instance, the Sullivan example that you gave–can you do that with Baldwin in a way that helps you understand how his writing works? One thing I really appreciate about your post, too, is the way you bring in context–both for Baldwin and Sullivan–in your consideration of what speaks to you about their writing.

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