Thursday Class

27 Oct

Group Story Presentation 

After discussing with your group the story you chose, your group will first email a paragraph of your opinion (not summary!) and one main theme you see present in the story. Second, you will email me at least three open-ended questions (can not be answered with a single phrase or yes/no answers) about the story for the rest of the class. Third, you will email at least one supplementary material you think will help the class understand the story (websites, youtube videos etc..). Questions are due the week before you present, so I can post online.


Lastly, your group will then lead a 15-minute in-class discussion. Think of this as a book club. Or some other informal event, where friends gather at a bookstore or coffee shop to talk about a movie or book they just finished. Your group should catch up and review, very briefly, the main characters, or main themes in the reading. Most importantly, you will be graded on how well you lead a class-room discussion on what your group found most compelling, or what you fond most confusing and leading an open, in-class investigation to answer what your group was confused about. Summary/Insight: 3 minutes max. A very brief summary of the main characters and the general arch of the story (beginning, middle and end) and have something to say about the author and history of the story and how it relates to the stories (by either reading his or her bio or doing your own research). Afterwards, give the class your insight, and then get their opinion. Things to consider for discussion: how do the characters change from beginning to end; how does the setting affect the story; what is the significance of the title; and how does the author use imagery, motif, and themes to convey a certain message through symbolism. You may focus on one aspect are all of them. Have Fun!


11/1: Annotated Bibliography due for “Otherness” re-write


11/3: Outline Due

Research Presentation

-Group:___________Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra


11/8: Assign Research Paper

Otherness Rewrite due

Annotated Bibliography


11/10: Group:___________Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling


11/15:Research Presentation Due

-Group:___________Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling 


11/17:Library Orientation


11/22: Annotated Bibliography Due

 -Group:___________Kafka’s “Before the Law”


11/24: Thanksgiving. No Class.


11/29: TBA..


12/1: Outline Due


12/6: First Draft Due – Peer Review #1


12/8: Prep for the Final


12/13: FINALS & Final Paper Due


The Crying of Lot 49: Final

9 Dec

Please post a link to your article in the comments below. If you haven’t written or created an account on goodreads, please go here to setup an account and post your review. And here to write your review on The Crying of Lot 49. *To get credit for the final, your review must be posted on (right now I see only 4 student reviews posted).

Here’s my review  on Goodreads (an example of a ‘Parody Review’) 

Purpose: Instead of the conventional timed-writing assignment, this final aims to move the student forward into the world and deal with the very themes brought up by this work of literature. The goal of this course has been to develop your own unique voice in order to allow for personal agency (or action). In this final composition, you will practice the writing process, researching, inference, thesis-driven writing, and moving your reader forward (audience).

Assignment: You will log-on and create a user profile on the social media app (owned by Amazon/a real-world Trystero?) and post a 600-word minimum review of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.

The review must follow either of these two formats: 1. Research/Analysis Review, or a 2. Parody Review.

  1. Research/Analysis Review: Integrate two opposing viewpoints of the novel by established authorities (book critic, academic, etc..) analyze both viewpoints (which can be as simple a single quote from each author, as well as at least a single quote from Pynchon) and move the reader forward with your opinion of the novel. But remember, key to thesis driven writing is a single theoretical framework, lens, or theme to narrow down and focus your opinion.


  1. Parody Review: A parody review still moves the reader forward with your opinion of the work, but, much like Pynchon and the form of the novel, it expresses its ideas through a sense of irony and an established structure (recent Study of Mind research shows creativity, and play to be the highest level in Bloom’s Taxonomy of brain learning). While you don’t have time to write a novel, you could write a short story, letter, play, sitcom, commercial, there’s really no limit to what you can come up with, but most importantly to make satire work, you MUST commit to your form and not break the 4th wall (unless that’s your point). Two examples:

Due: Please post your review link to, and bring a typed copy to class December 17th at 5 p.m. (or to the English secretary before the due-date).

Have fun!

Writer discussed: Thomas Pynchon’s Chapter 6

Team Calvin: From returning from the Courts, Oedipa comes to find out that Metzger had run off to marry a 15 year old girl. She learned this through a song that Serge had wrote and sang to her. Metzger leaves a letter to Oedipa that he had turned over his executorship to another lawyer. Oedipa was shocked to see that he didn’t mention anything about their love life. Oedipa was too occupied to even really pay too much attention. She then reached out to a professor called Emory Bortz and went to visit his home. She passes through the Zapf’s bookstore that had been burnt down on purpose. She learned this by the next door neighbor. As Oedipa arrives to the professor’s home the first thing she asked is about the line containing Tristero in her version of The Courier’s Tragedy. Bortz did not like the fact that she had a paperback version of the play he wrote. So Driblette changed the play around because the real play was pornographic. Oedipa mentions that Driblette had used the Tristero version from her book. Bortz showed her the real Vatican version and Oedipa asked what the Tristero was then. The next day Oedipa attended Driblette’s burial. After hearing what she heard, she sat on the ground and wanted to communicate with him, he wanted to see if the Tristero had any connection with his death. She also realizes when the Tristero was brought upon.

What does Oedipa mean by she is pregnant by horror?

Why do you think she is losing everyone?

Has she been set up all along by Pierce? Or who?

Also this Friday, the first film adaptation of a Pynchon novel finally comes out:

A really cool article how far the director went to make the movie like the book:

And will Pynchon make his first appearance ever?


Chapter 5: Team Fab 5

7 Dec

Note: Function Outline Worksheet

Writer discussed: Thomas Pynchon’s Chapter 5 of The Crying of Lot 49

From the group “Fab 5”: ch. 5 was very long & complicated to read. Oedipa seem to be losing her sanity, she starts to hillucinate almost like if shes on drugs but im pretty sure shes not & I feel like shes tryin to find connection to wat is real & what is not. Oedipa is trying to grasp reality but is unsure of who she can or cannot trust.

1. Why did Nefastis think they were going to have sex?
2. Why is Dr. Hilarious paranoid?
3. Is Odepia hallucinating because she’s taken drugs or has she gone slightly insane from how isolated she feels?

Shall I Project a World? (Team A Squad: Chapter 4)

2 Dec

Writer discussed: Pynchon’s Chapter 4

As Oedipa begins to read over the will, she decides to fulfill Pierces aspirations. Despite her lack of knowledge of business she gets a feeling to go to a Yoyodyne stockholders’ meeting. The feeling is reminiscent of the moment she had at the Scope. It’s as if she is still infatuated by The Tristero. As we read later in the chapter she meets Mr. Clayton (“Bloody”) Chiclitz the president of the company, who then invites her for a tour. But Oedipa’s intentions are to find out more about The Tristero. After some time roaming she subconsciously leads her self to somebody relevant and of significance. Which happens to be Stanley Koteks who was doodling the sign. After sweet talking how she can influence new policies, she almost gets a strong lead before mispronouncing WASTE. From Koteks to Fallopian, Oedipa asks him for some foresight. We then get an insight of why there might be this secret society. As Fallopian points out Yoyodynes oppressive non innovative ideals. Oedipa then comes across an elderly man named Mr. Thoth who tells her about her grandfather. And he shows her a ring which once more has the WASTE symbol. She then gets a call from a man named Genghis Cohen where she gets a huge break. Genghis Cohen shows her a sign similar to the WASTE symbol, which belonged to an old European mail service. The origins are so old it’s almost unbelievable how such a secret society could exist for so long. Oedipa seems to be on to something very big! Perhaps the government is involved.

What is the purpose of the “Glee” that the president of Yoyodyne sings routinely?

Why does Oedipa want to travel to Berkeley?
What is the significance if any, of the names of people Oedipa comes across(Mike Fallopian,Bloody Chiclitz,Stanley Koteks,Genghis Cohen)?

What is ‘Symbolic Architecture’ & HyperReality?

27 Nov

Artist Lynn Folkues explores the Influence of Disney. Currently at the Hammer Museum.

Authors Discussed: Reyner Banham and Umberto Eco. Suggested Reading: Baudrillard‘s  Simulacra and Simulation (Lots of mind blowing videos below found by the class!)

Reyner Banham was the first academic to really celebrate Los Angeles’ as a place of cultural value. Where many, up to then, saw tacky buildings, Banham saw a new artistic form in “symbolic architecture’. This can be anything from Derby-hat shaped, doughnut shaped buildings, to Murals, to lowriders with Aztec warriors airbrushed on them. He even loves our freeways! But it’s true. If you show any out-of-towner our freeway system, they’re blown away. If either articles were confusing, here’s an old school 70’s video of Reyner Banham presenting his essay, which should help:

City of Robots

‘Disneyland tells us that technology can give us more reality than nature can.’ (586)

“Disneyland is also a place of total passivity. It’s visitors must agree to behave like its robots.’ (589)

Team “Who’s Your Daddy:” The O.C. and Chapter 3

24 Nov

Writers discussed: Joel Garreau’s “Edge City Irvine” & Judith Lewis’ “Interesting Times”Chapter 3.

I’ve learned that each of our relationships with the suburbs is uniquely different. Some are kicking and screaming to get away from it, others have never experienced it and are working hard to obtain it. I first grew up in West Covina and Oscar from class said “Oh the place where each house has a swimming pool.” And even though that’s not entirely true, I’ve never thought of it that way. Garreau mentions many of the easy attacks on the suburbs

The Suburbs were breeding a new set of Americans, as mass-produced as the houses they lived in…incapable of real friendships; they were bored and lonely, alienated, atomized, and depersonlized..”

KCET has an awesome site that you can start to do some of your research on your neighborhood called: Departures

But Garreau is quick to point out that it’s more complicated than just hating on the suburbs, especially in Los Angeles where we are really a huge brothel of suburbs; maybe some more suburby than the others, but still one big collection of suburbs with no real center. Garreau points out the L.A. basin area leads the world as far as how communities are planned out:

That is why Irvine is interesting. It is part of the Los Angeles Basin, the birthplace of the American landscapes and life styles that are the models for Edge Cities worldwide.

Click for detailed map.

Why Irvine? Garreau points out that Irvine is a bit different than the suburban image we’re use to thinking of in the 1950s. But how? He claims it’s the Southern California dream. Is this true? The Fashion center is nice and, just like the clip from The Stepford Wives, everyone’s car is done up and their wives even more done up. We all want a safe place to raise our family. Right?

Pynchon Chapter 3 (Team Who’s Your Daddy?): Chapter 3 from what read it seems to focus on Odepia’s ordeals on focusing and lack of communication with everything. Its starts off from where chapter 2 left off.  She starts to reflect on her perception as the Rapunzel figure and goes over in her mind of how to end her captivity in the “Tower”. There is slight mail exchange between Mucho and Odeipa for communication but the exchange is unwanted. Yet as the story continues; one gets to realize how Odiepa focuses. It begins when she and Metzger go to a bar called scope; where they meet mike who is a radical. The conversation between them goes on about his ideals and thoughts of U.S postal service and a mention of Tristero.In the end the conversation all she remembers is Mikes good build and his handsome American nose. However the word Tristero gets in the mind of Odepia for some reason only wanting to figure out what mysterious it can reveal to further help her. It seems she get side tracked for no apparent reason. The word Tristero gets more into Odipea’s thoughts, when both her and Metzger go see a play to investigate about some bones of fallen soldiers. yet while investigating; during the play the word Tristero comes up and she forgets all about the bones. This tells a lot; the bones in the story are of a great moral issue that should be investigated. However Odepia seems to be focused on what Tristero is; from the point that I’m seeing it seem she is going on further away from her own problems.

Why did Mike oppose the local government mail system?

Who or what is Trystero, and why do you think Trystero saved Oedipa from the tower?

Why did Oedipa end up asking about Trystero and about the bones?

Team BestFriendsofAmerica: Ch.2 & THE DREAM OF SUBURBIA

17 Nov

Writers discussed: Mike Davis “City of Quartz,” & Chapter 2

So I wanted to get the discussion started on sprawl as it might help us dive into the first teams’ discussion of chapter 2, who have some great questions for us. Mike Davis’ “City of Quartz” compares the history of the small utopia desert town of Llano with future predictions of Los Angeles. David mentions the major industries so cal was founded on: agriculture, automobile (briefly), then aerospace; now those have all been out-shadowed by the industry of subdivisions and mega developers like KB Home.  What of Davis’ predictions do you believe have come true? Will come true? How does Davis’ interview with the El Salvadorian day laborers add to the essay?

From Team Best Friends of America on Crying Lot (Chapter 2): Chapter two wasn’t as hard to read as it was to understand. It seems like there were a lot of things that happened, but I do no really see any reason for them to be in the book although I feel like they are important moments. In the beginning of the book Oedipa was saying that she did not see anything happening even though the city was built with so many for people to do. With all the freeways and shops, I would expect San Narciso to be very busy and lively. Also, she describes the city in so much detail, but she cant find anything that differs from any other Californian city. At the end of the book, Oedipa has sex with the lawyer even though she has her husband. What reason did she cheat? Was it because of a carnal desire or was it because she was using her body to get something?

1 Why is San Narciso so empty?
2 Why Did Oedipa sleep with the lawyer?
3 What was so religious about that moment she had?

Have fun!