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WINTER/SPRING 2012

KATE

ERICKSON WYATT

HONG BRIAN

TICH SETH

WINGER THE

LITERARY LAB

leland QUARTERLY 1

Leland Quarterly Winter/Spring 2012


leland

QUARTERLY VOLUME 6, ISSUE 2 Winter/Spring 2012 Copyright 2012 by Leland Quarterly, Stanford University All Rights Reserved Giant Horse Printing, San Francisco

Editors-in-Chief Jaslyn Law and Katie Wu Managing Editor Elissa Karasik Senior Editors Brian Tich Elissa Karasik Rachel Kolb Seth Winger ZiXiang Zhang Associate Editors Tim Lee Antonia Madian Ian Montgomery Esther Oh Tiffany Shih Lilith Wu

Art Editors Kate Erickson Alberto Hernandez Lilith Wu Layout Editors Antonia Madian Seth Winger Illustrators Alberto Hernandez Armine Pilikian

Web Editor: Tiffany Shih Financial Editor: Ryan De Taboada

Leland Quarterly: A Statement on Literature, Culture, Art, and Politics is a general interest magazine that showcases the very best in Stanford University undergraduate art and writing.


EDITOR’S NOTE On Procrastination o r,

Actual, Embarrassing Theses We Penned at the Last Minute

The Snuggie’s questionable validity does not diminish the effect of its ever-increasing universality as a consumer product recognizable by any American, suburban or not. How Austen and Woolf choose to end their novels is instrumental to the demonstration of the irony of a woman’s loss of self through the gain of power in society. Though motivated by factors from different sources, both Danny and the nameless family view consumption of culture as a method of perpetuating a fantasy that helps them to elude the destructive trauma of their racial disparity. This paper will first compare the multi-dimensional Confucian woman, as described by Wei-Ming Tu and Walter H. Slote, to the more Westernized concept of the femme fatale, embodied here by Miss Li and Phoenix; then, examine the two women and their use of calculated schemes and manipulation to increase their own wealth and power; and, finally, explore the crucial difference between them that elevates Miss Li and dooms Phoenix: the redemption of humane remorse and penance. That successful conservation in the archipelago will require not simply resource management but also navigating corrupt political pathways, placating the conflicting desires of local stakeholders, and establishing residents’ ties to the land suggests to me that a better way to conceive of the Galápagos as a microcosm is to ask: if we can save the Galápagos, what can’t we save? Consequently, though the rhetoric of political campaigns is not our specialty, and though we are a bipartisan council, we wish to supply you, Mr. President, with the following pitch moving forward with your 2012 campaign: “A cap and trade system would provide a better, more flexible alternative for job creators than rigid, job-killing regulations while providing strong incentives for trademark American innovation in the green technology sector.”

— JASLYN LAW & KATIE WU (compiled at the last minute)

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CONTENTS

EDITORIAL STATEMENT

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ARTIST PROFILES

弳: Woman Yanshuo Zhang

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Kate Erickson

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To Live a Life of Poetry Brian Tich

Kelly Vicars

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POETRY

FEATURED

Paul Giamatti Armine Pilikian

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The Making of a Graphic Novel Lilith Wu

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Airport Beauty LiHe Han

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Abroad Reflections

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Midnight Safeway Run ZiXiang Zhang

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Essays Mary Glen Frederick, Seth Winger, & Dustin Janatpour

FICTION

Photographs Cole Murphy-Hockett, Kate Erickson, & Seth Winger The Stanford Literary Lab Seth Winger

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NON-FICTION & ESSAY

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Hansel Wyatt Hong

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The Abstraction of the Dairy Cow Jaslyn Law

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Vials of Juliet Lucas Loredo

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PHOTOGRAPHY

MIXED MEDIA COLLAGE Blonde Kelly Vicars

Cover

MONOGRAPH The Queen Katie Pyne

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Slick Katie Pyne

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DRAWING Super Geisha Lauren YoungSmith

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Shrooms Lauren YoungSmith

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Sestra Kelly Vicars

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In the Back of My Head Lauren YoungSmith

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Natalie Uy Girl Talk

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It’s a Girl’s World

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Derek Ouyang Cherry Blossoms

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An Opportunity Missed

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Seattle Public Library

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Suzzallo Library

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Book Aisle

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Observation

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Empty Library

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Patrick Freeman Bull Elephant, Etosha National Park, Namibia

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Kate Erickson Major: Art History Year: Senior

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“The photographs in this series reflect a primal need to gather evidence of matter, both physical and sensational. The images depict the evidence of car headlights illuminating the darkness, of one individual’s manipulation of nature, and of the profound and overarching impact of modern society on the natural world. They produce a record of my physical interaction with the matter of the world around me, and an attempt to render transient qualities of light and time into the physical materials of film and paper. Ultimately, these images provide a concrete witness of individual existence in an otherwise unquantifiable and disarticulated world.” ABOVE “Sand Hill Road, Woodside, California”


ABOVE “Unknown Illumination, Leasburg, Missouri” BELOW “Car Approaching, Potter County, Texas”

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“Oak Tree, Cuba, Missouri”

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“Looking toward Amarillo at Midnight, Potter County, Texas”

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ABOVE “Farmhouse, Carlisle, Massachusetts” BELOW “Driveway, Carlsisle, Massachusetts”

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“Lights from Chelmsford, Carlisle, Massachusetts�

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“Cholla Power Plant, Joseph City, Arizona”

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Paul Giamatti

— ARMINE PILIKIAN

the candlelight strikes your bald patch, gleaming cold and bright like a fish egg. you talk of getting the pasta aioli but I hear areola— I haven’t been touched in months. from your smile, that curling, flaccid plantain, and from the wiry snags in your beard I can tell you’ve been stealing from your mother again. you’re rambling on about the injustice of sales tax as the shadows in your nose become deep, strange caverns— you talk about things like soft-shell turtles and the perfect seasons for growing tomatoes. the world, you say, is a wolf with shrapnel fur and broken howl. your brain twists, a tangle of bickering snails—and I am but a desirous tub of salt. your life, I say, is a sack of potatoes, and you have the worst ankles.

A. Pilikian

you choke, I feel the wine trapped in your throat like a vial, my teeth humming in the cool rust of whiskey and one of us moves closer and one of us is shriveling up.

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Angles, poses, negative space, dynamism, repetition—a hundred different factors go into the effectiveness of graphic storytelling, and thumbnailers need to accurately communicate the intentions of the writers to the illustrators while contributing their own artistic vision.

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— LILITH WU

digital touches.

he Graphic Novel is a two-quarter class at Stanford that meets for six hours every Monday. The project’s mission is to create an adaptation of a true story with the purpose of doing good. This year’s chosen story is based on a San Francisco Chronicle article series on sex trafficking, following one girl’s journey from Busan, South Korea to San Francisco. Drawn in by the wealthy lifestyle of her college classmates and yearning to be accepted into their glamorous inner circle, she quickly falls prey to creditors eager to take advantage of her naïveté. In a short span of time, she finds herself $40,000 in debt. Desperate, she takes a job offer in America which turns out to be a front for prostitution. The writers transformed the 24-page article into a script for a 160-page graphic novel. Thumbnailers created drafts of each page, deciding what layout best suits the action and how to communicate timing through still images. The rough The final illustration is images are given to the illustrators, who flesh out detailed versions of inked and cleaned up the pages. After passing muster with (sometimes with the the instructors, the pages are inked, help of copious amounts scanned, and go into post-producof White-Out), and tion, where colors and lettering are added in Photoshop. ready for the final

As the writers churn out pages of dialogue and description for each recto (right) and verso (left) page, the finished script pages are passed on to the next stage of production, thumbnailing.

GRAPHIC NOVEL

THE MAKING OF A


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Cole Murphy-Hockett ’11

Stanford Overseas —

On Being a Jew in Germany, On Township Tourism, & On Surviving Oxford Tutorials or,

See, we didn’t just party!

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BERLIN CAPE TOWN OXFORD

“Actually, I’m Jewish.” SETH WINGER Studied in Berlin, Spring 2010

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t’s a phrase I’m used to saying, for one reason or another. What are you doing for Christmas? Actually, I’m Jewish. (Subtext: going to a Chinese restaurant.) Why are you dressed in a suit and walking away from class on the first day of the quarter? Actually, I’m Jewish. (Subtext: going to shul for Rosh Hashanah, and then probably to a Chinese restaurant.) How come you didn’t play Little League? Actually, I’m Jewish. (Subtext: and Koufax I ain’t.) I’ve been saying it for as long as I can remember, since my second grade class wrote letters to Santa—and I wrote one to Harry the Hanukkah Elf. I’ve got the tone down, too, inflected enough to not offend whoever makes me say it, but casual enough to not sound offended. Done right, it’s downright diplomatic. Actually, I’m Jewish. (Subtext: but thanks for asking anyway, I mean it, really, and don’t feel bad about it, there’s really no way to tell—not like we have horns or something—and if you’d like to know anything about my culture I’m probably a mediocre ambassa-

dor but I’d be glad to do my best to use my bar mitzvah, my Hebrew school, my bits of Yiddish, my ability to tolerate gefilte fish, to use anything, really, to help explain whatever may be on your mind.) I’ve been saying it for so long, in fact, that I’m completely taken aback when, in the back seat of a luxury sedan in the middle of Berlin, the ethnically Persian, culturally German girl beside me—who’s a bit of a world traveler and has carried on conversations with two people in this car and one on a cell phone in four different languages— turns abruptly in her seat and asks me, without warning, “Are you Jewish?” “Actually, uh, yeah, I am,” I stammer.

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f you’re expecting me now to say that being Jewish during the quarter I spent studying abroad in Berlin was weird or isolating or deeply significant or anything like that, well, sorry to disappoint. Most of the time I didn’t even think about my day-to-day life as a Jew. I really didn’t even think about it when I applied to the program—Berlin was just another European city, a name like Paris or London or Venice. Unlike Paris, London, or Venice, though, Berlin was faceless. I could picture those other three, could picture Moscow or Madrid or Dublin, without having been to any of them. But Berlin was blank. It had no Eiffel Tower, no wa-

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tery canals, and for whatever reason the sights and monthink it’s like to be a Jew there?” he asked. I didn’t know. uments I would fall in love—or at least wanderlust—with had never entered my sphere of, ummm, “world travel he quick answer is that being a Jew in Berlin in 2010 awareness.” (There’s a German word that captures exactly turns out to be a lot like being a Jew anywhere else. what I’m trying to say here, I’m sure, but hell if I know what the word is.) I associated Berlin synecdochically found out a year after that conversation with my grandwith Germany, and Germany with, well, Bavaria. Munich father that, Jewish or not, going to Berlin was probably beer halls, dirndls, fantastic accents. Hans Gruber. The more of a homecoming than I ever thought. I always asSound of Music—which, I know, takes place in Austria, sumed “Winger” was an Ellis Island name, assigned by but the two countries were pretty thoroughly amalgamlottery to replace some Polish construct held up by an ated in my mind before I visited both of them. arch of consonants pushing on the weary keystone of an Of course, there were also the wars. World O. But one of my dad’s cousins did some digging War I is all spiked helmets and U-boats to into the family’s past, unearthing the Being me, maybe because I’m hard-pressed earliest recorded Winger sometime a Jew in Berlin in to imagine a Princeton professor in the eighteenth century in eastleading my country to war, or may2010 turned out to be ern Europe—a long time before any be because it’s largely eclipsed in a lot like being a Jew huddled masses yearned to breath media and high school history by its free, before any of my relatives, temanywhere else. successor. World War II is the spoiled pest-tost by Teutonic turmoil, washed child of military history, getting all the atup on the shores of America. tention with its whole war-on-fascism and final-battleThis cousin’s guess about the origin of our name? It between-good-and-evil deal. evolved from the German word for our ancestor’s proSo I guess Berlin wasn’t really completely blank. fession. Some Winger progenitor followed the German Stretched over the empty canvas of that city like a dirty vineyards that were exported to Poland in the middle of film were images of wide streets lined in stark red and the last millennium. We’re winemakers. Winger. Weinblack iconography, iron crosses and swastikas, Nazi ralmacher. Pass the Manischewitz. lies and narrow little mustaches. But, I told myself, I was young enough and progressive enough and forgiving ut back to that luxury car idling in Alexanderplatz enough to look beyond that, to let Berlin dump its detraffic, and the question from the high-class Germons into the abyss of the past and travel there with a man-Persian girl next to me, mercifully in English, but clean slate that I was ready to fill with beer and pretzels. otherwise out of nowhere: “Are you Jewish?” My family had other ideas. My parents seemed fine Actually, no, I could have said. I’m German. More with it—if perhaps a little unsure why, exactly, I was German than you, even. Or I could have told her I was choosing to go to Berlin out of the ten or so other study Swedish, since my ancestors lived in what was technically abroad programs easily accessible to me—but my dad the Swedish Empire, which swelled into eastern Europe made a point of telling me what his dad would have said in the 15 and 1600s. Or Polish, or Hungarian, or Czech, if Papa Winger hadn’t snuck so many Denny’s cheeseor Ukrainian, Silesian, Russian, Lithuanian—borders burgers into his doctor-prescribed, heart-healthy diet. that swam around the Winger clan so often that different My grandfather, born in the roaring twenties in New generations were often wildly different nationalities. York and second youngest of twelve, left Winger Bros. But that’s just it—the borders changed so much, and Meat Company to join the US army as a cook, ended up so long ago, that I have no connection to any of those on a command plane in the 82nd Airborne division (the countries. When I think family history, I don’t think of how of this story is a little unclear to me), and one cloudy German wineries or Hungarian dairy farms. I think bar June morning in 1944 landed behind enemy lines on a mitzvah. beach in the north of France. His eyesight, like mine, was So I say what is the obvious answer, even if I am abysmal, but instead of discharging him the army had caught a little off guard. “Actually, uh, yeah, I am.” taken his rifle, given him a gold bar on his uniform and a The girl leans back in her seat, looking pleased with Thompson submachine gun, and told him to squint and herself. “I thought so,” she says, and makes some vague kill some Krauts. hand gesture that could be referring to a nose, some hair, The point being I can understand, at least superfimaybe even a circumcision. It’s hard to tell. cially, why my grandfather never so much as looked at a Volkswagen for the rest of his life. t’s not hard to tell, apparently, that I’m new to Berlin, My other grandfather had also been drafted into the despite my efforts to blend in. I bought a trendy Euarmy during World War II, but hadn’t fought in Europe. ropean jacket and by sheer luck already owned the same He had the same bemused questions as my parents about pair of Adidas that dots the aisles of every U-Bahn train why Berlin, but went one step further. “What do you like a conspiracy of leather ravens, bobbing their heads

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rhythmically with the sway of the train car as German necessity, our conversations are usually curt and simple. commuters tap their feet, shift their weight, huddle by I can’t do anything more in German. But tonight, over the exits. Within a week of getting to the city I made a steamed spargel and boiled potatoes, she breaks new point of not carrying the subway map with me on my ground. commute to class. But I reek of America. It’s in the way “So. You,” she says, out of nowhere. “Are you, ah, JuI walk, the way I quickly look away when my peopleden?” watching is discovered. It’s in my plaid shorts and my I’m caught off guard again, but this time I manage a cheap pay-as-you-go phone, and hopelessly ingrained smile and take a bite of asparagus. “Ja.” into the English copy of Lolita I’ve been reading on the “Ah,” she says, leaning back in her chair. “I had train. thought so.” I expected all of that. I’m a Californian and proud of Again with the certainty. it, and trying to blend in came from a desire to distance myself from tourists, not from my country. But I didn’t he long answer to my grandfather’s question—what’s expect to find out that it’s also apparently not too hard to it like to be a Jew in Berlin—seems to be this: tell that I’m Jewish. Being a Jew in Berlin in 2010 turns out to be a lot Less than a week after I was called out like being a Jew anywhere else, except that in the car in Alexanderplatz, I’m havyou’re thinking, all the time, about that I reek ing dinner with my host mother in question your grandfather asked you of America. It’s her apartment. She’s middle-aged, and wondering if maybe things are in the way I walk, my different but you’re just not noticsingle, and—I’m extrapolating— probably lonely in her tiny twoing them, wondering if the fact that plaid shorts, and my bedroom flat, with only a stream acquaintances come right out and cheap pay-as-you-go ask of one-quarter students keeping her about your religious identity in a phone. company. Ten weeks and they’re gone, way that’s almost unheard of in Amerabsconding in the early morning to catch a ica is indicative of a cultural difference, a flight back to their homes, their loved ones, their famishamelessness akin to nudity at a public beach, or if it lies, just like I’m planning to do in a month and a half. portends some lingering Semitic sensitivities—not necMy host mother isn’t German. She’s a Bosnian imessarily anti-Semitism, mind you, but maybe just some migrant, speaks German as a second language and Engsense that German history was different for these Jews, lish as a third. Between my rudimentary German and diese Juden, these once-yellow-starred and starving peoher passable English, we manage to communicate in hyple, and that this is something to be aware of, something bridized, halting Deunglish, thought I can’t help but feel to note, to observe. something’s always being lost in translation. Perhaps by Then again, neither of the people who asked me

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straight out about my Judaism were truly German. They were, undoubtedly, Berliners—but Berlin is a city of immigrants and emigrants. The street signs just happen to have umlauts.

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here’s a long history of Jews, those eternal immigrants and emigrants, in Berlin—lives lived well before the Holocaust, which in both my secular and religious education was the only facet of German Jewish history ever discussed. The city’s grown around them, but the sights are still there. Majestic synagogues, ancient Jewish day schools. Berlin is a new city, shining metal skyscrapers erected out of bombed-out rubble, jockeying for skyline space with the few crenelated nineteenth-century low-rises that survived the Allied assault and the dull gray soviet housing projects that dominate the east. The new construction didn’t leave the Jews behind—their ghosts are etched in the jagged lines of the Liebeskind Museum, in the ivied statues of the Rosenstraße memorial, in the endless field of concrete blocks dedicated to die ermordeten Juden Europas. I’d be lying if I said the thought of experiencing the more infamous side of German Jewish history didn’t enter my mind when applying to study in Berlin. But I didn’t know these memorials existed, that architects and sculptors had attempted to recreate in concrete and granite the terror and inhumanity of the Holocaust. What I did know about, what I was prepared—what I hoped, even—to see, was a concentration camp.

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had my chance one week before people started confronting me about my heritage in cars. A group of students was taking the train to a camp, led by a German history professor. I went along. We didn’t go to Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen or Dachau, though, not to any of the names that had been painted in blood and tears and human ash on the inside of my skull by history teachers, Sunday school rabbis, Spielberg movies. We went to a little town north of Berlin called Oranienburg, and visited the monster slumbering in its belly: a camp named Sachsenhausen. There are a lot of reasons you’ve probably never heard of Sachsenhausen. I had certainly never heard of Sachsenhausen. It wasn’t a death camp, first of all, which would be a distinction worth something if 100,000 people hadn’t died there. And though it was a concentration camp, it was largely used for communists and political dissidents. (Somehow in the wash of history people always seem to forget that Nazis murdered not just one multitude, but many.) The camp now centers around an enormous memorial the Soviets erected after liberating it, a giant obelisk depicting brave communist comrades who stood up to their Nazi jailers. Unlike other camps, Sachsenhausen is more Soviet museum than mausoleum.

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I only thought about all of this hours after I left the camp. The entire time I was there, I could only think about how goddamn beautiful it was. The sky wasn’t dull gray like I imagined it was at all these camps. It wasn’t cloudy or brooding or menacing. It was blue. Fucking blue. And it was big and beautiful and stretched on forever to the horizon, forever up to the heavens, forever back in time, oblivious to everything that happened underneath it. At the time I thought it had no right to be so be beautiful. I realize now that I had no right to tell it not to be.

The entire time I was at Sachsenhausen, I could only think about how goddamn beautiful it was.

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came to Berlin partly to be a part of history—the history of the twentieth century European Jew, a history of my own aunts and uncles and cousins whose names I don’t know, my history. The skeletons of crematoria are still standing in Sachsenhausen, charnel houses to hold sepulchral the shadows of burning human flesh and the echoes of desperate screams. There are also gravestones. Large stone blocks placed evenly around the footpaths, granite slabs with memories interred. The thirty or so people I was with walked past the first grave marker, but I hesitated. I kicked the dirt around at my feet until I found what I was looking for: a rock, irregular, small, and a little dirty. I picked up the rock and rolled it in my palm twice, then placed it slowly on the granite block. Everything looked for a second like the rolling green hills from my childhood, like Mount Sinai Mortuary in Los Angeles, the bronze plaque of my grandmother’s plot, the embossed words, Ruth Winger (née Felder), beloved wife and mother and grandmother, the little rocks to lay by her name that my brother and I would run around collecting—frolicking in the cemetery—and then it was gone. A pebble on a slab of gray. The blank slate of countless futures, the single point of the present, the weight of the past. When we left Sachsenhausen, one of my classmates asked me why I had stopped to put the rock on the gravestone. “Well,” I said and paused, trying to find the words to sum up a long funereal tradition, wondering how much detail to delve into, if other customs—rending clothes, covering mirrors—should be brought up. How do you talk about one part of tradition without giving the whole story? “Well,” I said, as I realized all that needed to be said. “Actually, I’m Jewish.”


BERLIN CAPE TOWN OXFORD

The Thinking Citizen’s Tour of the Townships MARY GLEN FREDERICK Studied in Cape Town, Winter 2011

— PHOTOS BY COLE MURPHY-HOCKETT

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ne of the girls sits next to me on the tour bus. I can’t remember her name —per usual, I am conflating and confusing the students I do not yet know. She forgot her lunch so I offer her my walnuts, some slices of tomato. She turns the tomato down, takes some walnuts. I turn away, to squint out the window at sunny sand and dusty sky. We begin in a literal paradise. Cape Town, one of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth. Lush and rich and surrounded by mountains keeping watch over an eyelet of aqua, winking turquoise in the glorious sun. The ocean air hangs so thick on sweatered nights you can trap the salt between your fingerprints. We drive fifteen minutes. That’s all it takes. The mountains are gone. The color muted. The water evaporated. Welcome to the Flats. The “we” here is thirty North Americans Studying

Abroad in South Africa, seated safely inside this behemoth of a bus, protected by the air conditioning, cushioned seats, and curtains that shut out the unattractive world behind them with the flick of a wrist. I blink and turn away from the window. What’s her name again? I want to ask but I can’t now—we’ve been sharing a seat for too long. I find myself wishing she was louder—that she would express an emotion other than an impossible serenity. Sandwiched between her and the truth outside my window, I wish I could tell her how I feel, ask her, how do you feel, how should we feel? Are you as messy as me inside? I would feel better if she nauseated me with optimism, burdened me with weighty statistics or maybe patronized me into submission—something. I wish she had taken a chunk of slurpy tomato. Out the window, the land has been tousled and tamed with a flat iron. Sand and litter and government housing, seared to the ground by the fever of the sun. We, of course, that fortunate and beneficent we, cannot travel here alone. Not safe. Too much crime. Or was

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it poverty? We share too much and brag even more. But we can come here in this bus—a perverted zoo In this moment, clutching this beer, I do not know on wheels. what the two months ahead will hold. I will come to reWe drive through Khayelitsha. A city on the Westalize that I am about as underqualified as anyone could ern Cape, the El Dorado coast for those who moved here be; that this imperial mission, to bring English to poor looking for destiny on earth. Set the bag down, the bepeople, is pretentious and paternalistic; that the words to longings spill out. Set the people down, they spill out. describe my impact are Negligible at best, Damaging if And keep growing, reaching, spreading. This is what is honest. I will have to come to grips with the fact that, no called a township. An informal settlement. A shantymatter what justification or commendation, I came here town. A slum. for myself. I will be forced to recognize my own naïveté, We are on A Township Tour—as it is advertised to my own pride, my own goddamn stupidity. Wealthy Westerners. Hop on board a bus, pull But I do not know these things now. I out your binoculars, and take a am sitting in the cool, night-drawn Hop on look. No touching please. around a plastic table full of board a bus, pull out your air But it’s certainly not so for strangers, and the two months us, because we are a we of uni- binoculars, and take a look. ahead hold promise. versity affiliation—we ride the I am selfish. But in the headno touching, please. bus for academic purposes, Eyeing light mist with my cheeks flushed, I is justified, if you do so Critically—this is The Educated do not know it. Not yet. Citizen’s Tour of the Townships. We drive dirt roads that are too narrow. Our tour n the bus, I finger the strap of my digital camera guide speaks into her microphone, which crackles in the then tuck it back inside my bag. I can’t overcome my heat. These roofs are made of corrugated tin, the walls humiliation at being One of Those Tourists. Not again. packed up with mud, the windows and doors sculpted I lean my forehead and cheekbone against the glass, with the finest O2. In an almost choreographed moveplaying chicken with the heat until it gets too much to ment, cameras are pulled out of our group’s pockets and bear. I pull back, see the grease marks I have left and wish bags. I feel the tug, I want to take out my own piece of I could somehow wipe them off discreetly. suddenly ostentatious equipment, snap a memory, that All things whip by. Cracked and peeling paint on Reminder of Poverty which will keep me honest and true gates that swing off the hinge, children that swing off the and popular amongst my friends. Wow, AFRICA, that’s gate. Faces, upturned, curious or discouraging or excited so brave, it must have been so hard, to be out of your or closed. I see them, or sometimes just the mark of my comfort zone like that, to witness such poverty, such sweat, which I so badly want to wipe away. hardship. We stop on a wider road, and children run to catch Yep. Hard to look at hard things. Easier to take a picup with us. They stand beneath our windows, reaching ture. arms, fingers climbing up our vehicle, they wave and ask I lean my head back and shut my eyes, flashes of sun for nothing but acknowledgment. I half-smile and wave strobing red behind my eyelids. My brow furrows as I back—I want to reciprocate. But I feel it so acutely—my remember, a year and a half earlier. height above the ground, the seat cushioning my ass, the meal stipend sitting in my pocket, my privilege, my plane had the chance to spend the summer teaching English ride across the ocean to this place. My skin, my self. in a rural village of Ethiopia. This was five years ago. A young girl holding a baby walks out of the house I wanted to travel. I spent my childhood reading encyin front of us. She shields the sun with one hand across clopedia entries about countries in faraway places with her brow bone, and her eyes appraise us: up and down, beautiful names that were photographed in National end to far, far end. She takes slow steps forward, toward Geographic. And so I seized the chance. us, stops when she reaches the half-a-fence that bounds I walked shakily off the plane in Addis Ababa and her home. She stands rooted amidst the children’s laughmade my way down the ramp through security, trying to ing, jumping dance. She looks at us, across each window, feel calm and look casual, as if I had missed it, as if it was each staring and curious face. She rocks the child. nice to be back. I have no idea how to do this. I have no idea how to I was dropped at the hotel, introduced to the group, fill this gap between me and the outside, me and you. I and shown the shared quarters—patio out back, plastic want to. But I don’t know how. chairs, glass beer bottles. Here, have a drink. My seatmate suddenly sits up and leans far over my We play drinking games to get over the strangeness lap. Snap. That girl, with those eyes, and the broken fence of finding ourselves here, together. We name drop schools and the baby, and the colorful puzzle piece roofs all in the attended, languages spoken, volunteer accomplishments. background—what a beautiful picture.

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BERLIN CAPE TOWN OXFORD

The Tutorial Cycle DUSTIN JANATPOUR Studied in Oxford, Fall 2011 — PHOTOS BY KATE ERICKSON

I. Tutorial Morning

S

o you wake up. The sun is already peeking through the back windows of Stanford House—including the one in your room—but no matter. Phone says it’s 8:32 a.m. You only set alarms with times like that when you plan to give yourself a few more minutes to sleep. Maybe this isn’t your first time waking up today. Paper’s not due until 2:30 anyway. You’ll wake up then. Set the alarm for 9:01. Back to sleep. This time you wake up from a dream about falling. Okay... so you’ve preempted your alarm. You check your phone to see what time it is. It’s 11:14. Well, damn. You’d set your phone to go off at 9:01 p.m. Oh well. You still have three hours. It’s time to re-

cover the situation. Back to the routine: What were you supposed to write about? Why were you up so late? Is there still time for a snack or a shower? Bargaining theory. You were reading something about bargaining theory and you need to write about its scope and inherent assumptions. Fine. And you were awake because you told yourself at 2:00, and again at 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00 a.m. that it’s not worth it to start writing until you know what you are going to write about. Then, at 6:00 (or was it closer to 7:00?), you set an alarm for 8:00-ish, fell asleep, and now here you are. Normally you give yourself the following option during each crunch-morning (and this has been happening every Monday morning lately): choose two of shower, snack, and sleep. But you have overslept, so snack and shower will have to wait until after today’s tutorial. Best fix the dent in your hair so the tutor doesn’t get worried or ask funny questions.

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Time to sit in the inclined position. You open LyX (to make prettier documents) and hammer out an introduction that you’ll have to rewrite anyway. Then one paragraph elaborating on your initial thesis. Then another. Where did you tell the reader where you were going with this? Somewhere around page three you realize two very important things. The first is that you need coffee. The second is that this paper isn’t going to come together unless you map out the whole thing in your head first, and that means starting over. With the help of the Oxford Rendezvous, the café underneath Stanford House, you are confident that you can kill two birds with one stone. Down the maze of stairs. Out the door, into the café. You exchange good mornings with the Moroccan guys who run the place and get your usual: medium americano, extra espresso. There isn’t quite enough room to properly pace around in the waiting area of the Rendezvous, but as you stare into the cheese and jalapeños on a so-called Spicy Mexican Panini, the ideas come together. This paper shall be vanquished. It’s past noon. Grab the coffee, get the hell back up the stairs. No more typing in the bed. You clear some stuff off of your desk, get the lights, and put on the clothes that you’ll wear to your tutorial now, since you probably won’t have time to change if you let yourself start typing. And you hammer it out, yet again. Bargaining theory, bargaining theory, bargaining theory. There is no restriction on the length; to your tutor, a paper’s argument

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is either complete, or it’s not. You are now confident that this one is complete, and it’s only 1:40. Just enough time to read it out loud and clean it up—no need to sweat the small typos as you’ll just be reading your paper to your tutor anyway—and run downstairs to print it. You get out of the door at 2:03. You’ll need to walk quickly, but hopefully not so quickly that you’ll be out of breath and sweating in front of your tutor (it’s happened before). You’ll walk briskly. High Street is looking nice this afternoon and the weather is chilly but very bright. Lots of people are moving about as usual. The cars are still on the wrong side of the road, but otherwise traffic isn’t giving you a problem. People waiting for a bus occasionally force you to step off the sidewalk to keep the speed you want. You round the Pret-a-Manger (the most ubiquitous of cafés) and head down Cornmarket Street. You dodge the guy who is wearing a microphone trying to save your soul (a nice reminder of home) and the hobos who are trying to stop their dogs from fighting. One asks you for change and you ignore him, partly because he asks every day, and partly because violin-playing Latino guy is playing Ave Maria today and you’d rather use your change to show him that you like his taste. Down Cornmarket, past the bus stop, down Woodside road. You pass The Eagle and Child—a cool pub with a great history, even though its has the same menu as the Chequers on High Street—and then you get to the construction site. Almost there. The wind is picking up so you fold your paper to keep it from getting blown


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BERLIN CAPE TOWN OXFORD

around. You make it to the last turn of your route, the left onto Observatory Road, with just two minutes to spare. The Road is really more of an alleyway, with enough stone and vegetation to convince one that it hasn’t changed in over a century. Your destination, the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, lies behind an unassuming wooden double-door that you can only access from this alleyway. You go into the anteroom, punch in a security code, and ascend four turns of steps around an old-fashioned industrial elevator.

You’re only a little out of breath as you stumble through the door, say a good afternoon to Susan, the secretary, and whip left to meet your tutor. There he sits, as usual, at the gigantic table with the green tablecloth, reading his newspaper and drinking his tea. “Oh,” he says, as always. “Good afternoon.” “Good afternoon, Professor.” You are still catching your breath as you take your seat. “What do you have for me today, again?” “Bargaining theory, I believe, is what we discussed.” “Oh, yes, very good. You may begin.”

II. Not a Tutorial Morning

gain, class starts at 2:30. And it’s in the building. You can really afford to sleep in this morning, and, if you want, this afternoon. So you do. By the time you’ve finished the ritual of resetting the alarm every three minutes (fortunately you’ve only done this for an hour this time around) it’s about 2:04. 2:05? The phone now reads 2:05. Time for a shower.

Flip off of the side of the bed. You need to make the bed—you always get it made eventually—though it can wait for now. About face: grab what you need from the shelf on top of your dresser. You get your shampoo, your toothbrush, your toothpaste, your keys. They can stay in your right hand as you round the bed to get your towel from its drawer. With only your left, you retrieve the towel. Before you leave the room, you scan the desk: your copy of The Quiet American is sitting safely on top of your notebook, and the clip of your mechanical pencil is held

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DROFXO NWOT EPAC NILREB 28

fast to the notebook’s spiral binding. They’re all where Behind this door is your third-choice bathroom: the they need to be for rapid retrieval. In a smooth(ish) moyellow one. It has an ugly yellow floor and bright yellow tion you slide each foot into one of your Shaq-brand stalls, and it gets more sun than the other bathrooms you shower sandals as you leave the room. use. The showers are also very small, and you are a tall Here’s the tricky part: Stanford House is maze; in guy. But... fact, you dedicated an entire afternoon to making sure There is no time left to waste. You toss unnecessary you could go from your room to the study room withitems onto the windowsill and jump into the shower out going outside. You live on the second floor (counted without further consideration. You get into the tiny ground, then first, then second, etc.), up two winding shower, throw your boxers over the top and relax as the flights of stairs and a third that continues past the second water hits you. You shut your eyes. It feels nice. into a secluded hallway that you share with three other guys. This hallway has its own bathroom, but no shower. ou wake up and the water is still going. You are leanYour preferred shower was the one on the bottom floor, ing against the wall. Damn! This has happened bedown all the flights of steps plus a small indentation into fore, but again, no time to waste. No more time to waste the ground. But that one broke weeks ago. that is. Have you even shampooed your hair? No, So you go down the steps from your you haven’t. No time to do it now. You are hallway and the steps of the second flight. certainly late, anyway. What’s worse, the Here’s This brings you to a middle platform steam has made you tired and slugand is standard procedure for reachgish again. Time to cut losses. the tricky part: ing the ground. From here, though, Shower off, towel on. You slide Stanford House is you continue forward to go down the folding door open and stumble a maze; in fact, you the far flight of steps instead of to the sink. There’s another dude turning around as you descend. there, waiting for the shower. dedicated an entire This brings you to a hallway that “Hey,” he says. afternoon to making always smells of bitter coffee and “Mornin’,” you grunt. It’s afsure you could go from ternoon. Whatever. is your main gateway to the study room. It also contains the door to You brush your teeth. your room to the study your second-choice bathroom. You Out the door, down the steps, room without going turn to face it now. minding your head all the way (you outside. Through the door, keys and toothare convinced by now that Stanford brushing equipment in the cubby, towel over House was designed to evoke both images the side of the shower. Shirt off, shower on. And... there of Hogwarts and the Shire). The Large Seminar room— is no hot water. Unlike other showers in which the only where today’s class will be held—lies roughly between indicator that there is no hot water is a cold stream that your current location and your room, if you go down never seems to get any warmer, the showers in Stanford one level before coming back up a different flight of House have the common courtesy to make their defisteps. So there is a question: stop by the Seminar room ciencies readily apparent. This shower has only a single in your towel to see if class has started and check in, or knob which one turns counterclockwise through cold go straight to your bedroom first but make your first apand onto the hot setting. However, as you turn it on this pearance even later? On another morning, in a more ramorning, when it should become hot, it simply turns off tional time, you would probably choose the latter. But again. you have just fallen asleep in the shower and the steam You don’t have your phone so you can’t be sure that has addled your brain. You choose the former. you have enough time to course-correct, but you are alAs it turns out, class hasn’t started yet. In fact, only ready mostly naked, so you may as well get clean. You the girls have shown up so far. None ask why you have sling your towel over your shoulder, gather your things come to class in a towel. You don’t give them the opporand, clad now in your boxers, your Shaq-sandals, and tunity. iron determination, march through the coffee-smelling “I’m gonna get dressed and roll back down in a sechallway and back to the junction of the steps that lets ond,” you tell them. “Just let him know I’m on my way.” you reach the ground floor or your room. From here you As you turn around you see that he, the profesturn around yet again to go up a different flight of steps sor, has just come up the stairs. You are still in a towel. which faces away from your room and takes you through There is no shame in this situation, you tell yourself. This a claustrophobic nook with a very low ceiling. Through is pure academic dedication. His quizzical look almost this nook is a heavy door. Behind this door, there is anagrees. You can at least pretend it agrees. other platform. In the room that contains this platform, “Good afternoon,” he says. there is another door. “G’dafternoon,” you say. “I’ll be right back down.”

Y

Leland Quarterly Winter/Spring 2012


airport

beauty I fished her out of pallid obscurity clung to her edges and hues. Wrapped her in a net that my pupils— tight-knuckled— gathered into their depths. Beautiful girl in an airport, leaning back in the sun.

—LIHE HAN

ndez

A. Herna

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女: WOMAN O

pening my Chinese textbook as a six-year-old girl new to school, I found the character for woman, 女, everywhere. Hao, the word for “good,” is “woman” and “son” together: 好. Nu, 奴, means “slave” and is composed of “woman” and “again.” 娇 is the word for jiao— “tender” and “charming.” It is a woman either tall or in disguise. These ideographs accompanied me as I grew up. I have also written my own character “女” with strokes sometimes smooth, sometimes strenuous. Entering middle school at twelve, girls were required to cut their hair short. I had to abandon my girlish dream of flowing black hair until the last year of high school when girls around me started to tie their hair with flowery pins again. I still remember how my heart lightened when the flowers bloomed that spring, and my hope for the future grew, as did my hair. Leaving high school at eighteen, Mother’s teaching was still haunting: “Girls should reserve themselves. Never give yourself out.” Chinese culture teaches girls that waiting is a virtue. For two thousand years, the birth of a boy was the great joy of the Chinese family. It is still true in some families. Yet a woman, or a daughter, is also treasured as “jian jin”—a thousand pieces of gold.

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Some parents would not trade their girls for ten thousand pieces of gold. “I just don’t believe that girls cannot be great achievers,” says Baba when he recalls how he had decided to raise a great daughter from the moment he knew Mother was pregnant. To him, no son could have been more cherished than his daughter. From the time I was young, he held me to high standards. When I was three, Baba taught me not to litter even though I wondered why other kids did. “You are different, my daughter.” That was his explanation. When I was twelve, Baba resigned from his college professorship to return home and mentor me. When I finally made my trip to America for college three years ago, Baba’s hair grew grey overnight when I failed to call home after my arrival. Seventy years ago, my great-grandmother could hardly leave her house, her feet bound into tiny “three-inch lotuses.” A housewife all her time, the old lady would totter near the front door, tend to the silkworms, and call my father home. Popo, the grandma, loved my father deeply and turned all her dreams into nurturing a household of life. But today, as a young woman without bindings, I have traveled thousands of li away from home. I have studied in both Europe

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and America. In my American classroom, “woman” has been redefined. While I was taught that love of any kind, even among women, is natural, my Chinese friends still frown if I bring up the topic. While Western feminists teach me the social constructionist idea that “One is not born a woman, but becomes one,” I had grown up with Grandma’s caution that “Girls should naturally be ladylike”—she would not be happy if I only wore a tank top on hot summer days. When I graduated from college at twenty-two, two of my cousins, close to my age, were already married and were starting families. Woman. 女. When I write down this character again, stroke by stroke, I see my life being folded into this simple yet incredibly complex ideograph. As a young woman shaped by different cultures and traditions, I carry with me the inescapable baggage of my past. Yet at the same time, one can never uproot herself from her native land. A shorthaired girl in school, I faithfully recited the poetry written by generations of Chinese poets, about women’s yearnings, men’s pains, peasants’ tears, and soldiers’ sufferings. In the past when I went away Poplars and willows fluttered at home Today when I look back Rains and snows cover the land. Slowly and heavily I go Craving and thirsty


My heart is filled with pain Who can understand my yearning?

This ancient poem, from the Book of Poetry, captures my experience of being a wandering child. Home, the noblest image in Chinese culture, continues to nourish me no matter where I go. 女: putting down this character on paper, I see a dancer merrily stretching her arms and legs, free from any shackle. It is a complex process of becoming and understanding woman. This process also takes up a woman’s entire life, and varies from one person to another. Life itself is a process of negotiating different identities: while reaffirming our roots, we embark upon new beginnings all the time. We are the products of the multifaceted forces of culture, instead of black-or-white answers to an ultimate question of who we are. It is indeed painful to negotiate our different parts, but pain itself elevates our soul and enriches our existence. 女: it is a different character every time I write it. It is the dancer embracing new forms of freedom. No matter how you write your own character, make sure that it is eventually able to dance elegantly, joyfully, and freely.

— YANSHUO ZHANG “Sestra,” Kelly Vicars, colored pencil

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— SETH WINGER

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I

n 2004, English professors Matt Jockers and Franco Moretti teamed up to teach ENGLISH 366E: “Electronic Data, Literary Theory,” a graduate-level seminar on the burgeoning overlap between the study of literature and the field of digital humanities—combining traditional discussions of novels or plays with computational tools and analysis algorithms. Only one student enrolled. But Jockers and Moretti were undaunted and, confident that there was something to this new way to look at classic works, they continued to forge new ground in the marriage of written word and compiled code. Class sizes grew and, eventually, piqued enough interest to sustain projects beyond the limitations of the ten-week quarter. The Stanford Literary Lab was founded out of one of Jockers and Moretti’s seminars in 2010, a loose collective of graduate students, lecturers, and professors with interests in computationally analyzing works of literature. The first publication came in January of 2011—a pamphlet with the surprisingly honest title “Quantitative Formalism: An Experiment.” And now, at the Lit Lab meetings in a seminar room on the top floor of Margaret Jacks Hall, enrollment is certainly not a problem. The room is filled to bursting, every seat plus extra folding chairs occupied. Jockers and Moretti have their choir; at last, it’s time to preach.

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s befits a Stanford laboratory, a Lit Lab meeting certainly has the feel of a collaborative research effort. Sitting beside Stanford professors and grad students are visiting scholars from San Jose State and the University of Kansas, a professor of literature from France, and a doctoral student from Columbia University whose voice materializes out of a Skype-connected computer monitor in the corner. The whiteboards are covered in vertexand-edge drawings of plays published in English, French, Danish, and ancient Greek. Jockers studies Irish-American literature, Moretti did his doctoral work in Rome, and the two are proud that their pamphlets have together been translated into more than a dozen languages, from Italian to Turkish. Jockers and Moretti began the lab in part to explore Moretti’s idea of “distant reading”—essentially, literature analysis without any actual reading at all. You can leave that to the computer, which counts key words and phrases, clusters data, classifies it. These machine learning techniques can crunch through thousands—tens of thousands—of books in hours, reducing them to any of a number of key components for the enterprising literature professor to explicate. To open today’s meeting, Moretti explains the methodology of his most recent work on the networks and interactions between characters in dramas from Antigone to Macbeth. There are three main goals: 1. Visualization, making the internal differentiations in play perceivable, or even, at times, exaggerated;

2. Articulation, a study of the morphology of the play and how its parts fit into a cohesive whole; and 3. Semantics, or how to reconstruct the events of a play from the meanings of its words. “But,” Moretti warns, standing in front of the room’s single large table, his deep, Christopher Lee voice echoing from behind a graying beard, “this process is not a machine.” There’s human analysis behind it. Moretti then spends the next two hours talking about “network theory,” “structural equivalence modeling,” and “anisotropic intensity of dialogue.” Machine learning algorithms have found a new disciple from a novel discipline. Turing would be proud.

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ork at the Lit Lab currently focuses on nineteenth-century and earlier works—things that have fallen into public domain and exist in a nicely curated digital corpus. But that is far from limiting. Moretti believes techniques like the Lit Lab’s can increase the sheer quantity of literature analyzed tenfold. “It’s the same thing that’s happening in science under the label of ‘big data,’” adds Jockers, one of the English department’s Academic Technology Specialists in addition to serving as Moretti’s rock-climbing, rugby-playing, ultra-distance-running counterpart. “You couldn’t do this ten years ago. It’s opened up a whole new realm of questions and dissertation topics.” And though the lab may seem to straddle the “techie” and “fuzzy” divide on campus—Jockers’ personal blog is equal parts Herman Melville and Latent Dirichlet Allocation—Moretti and Jockers know just where they stand. “We’re not writing papers about algorithms,” Jockers says. “Our interest is about applying those algorithms to something new.” Can you use natural language processing to discern the sentiments expressed by characters? Can principal component analysis decipher changes in the structure of dramas over the form’s twenty-five century history? Can machine learning teach us about the human condition? Jockers and Moretti are among the first to admit that they don’t know—but that the results are promising. The Lit Lab’s publications (“Pamphlets” 1, 2, and 3) are written with a candor and narrative that’s uncommon in all forms of academic writing, but especially so in the humanities. There’s an acceptance of failure in them, and a true chronicling of the research behind the pamphlet. This hasn’t been universally embraced by the literary world, nor has their quantitative approach reached full maturity. One critical editorial ridiculed Moretti’s model for its ability to deduce that the protagonist of Hamlet was (wait for it) Hamlet. But that was a half-sentence sidebar in Moretti’s larger discussion of the relationships of Hamlet—though even he admits that the discussion eventually “drifted” back to the qualitative. And aye, there’s the rub—he admits his model’s flaws. Moretti believes traditional literary analysis focuses too much on ques-

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tions that have known answers. “Failure is the present state of your knowledge,” he says, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “In literary studies, this is not the tradition. Knowledge has been an all-or-nothing affair, and scholarship not incremental.” “Our work tends to build on previous work,” says Jockers, meaning the models and techniques and insights will only get better. It’s a fairly scientific method.

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ltimately, the Lit Lab is built in emulation of the natural sciences—hence the “lab” title in spite of the Margaret Jacks address. So, too, are its methods of extracting meaning from its data. The notion of a “project” or an “experiment” are rare in the humanities, which center on papers and theses. The Lit Lab is attempting to create new paradigms in literary research, using established paradigms in science: exploration, hypothesis testing, model building. Perhaps even more impressive, it’s doing this while run off of passion alone. No grad student can come and get a doctorate in the Lit Lab; anyone working on a project is there because they want to work on that project in addition to their (funded) dissertation. But because of this, Jockers and Moretti can work with grad students from all over the country. They’re eager to bring in new students or colleagues and expose them to their methods—Moretti calls them “envoys,” who can spread his teachings around the country—and while Jockers and Moretti are mentors and teachers for everyone who comes through the lab, the two directors are primarily equals and collaborators. One form of literary scholarship or another is not going to die out any time soon, but what Jockers and Moretti hope to prove

is simple: that quantitatively studying a massive collection of works can illuminate the evolution of literature over long periods of time, or the change of themes over vast geographical distances, or even just something novel about the representation of social status in Hamlet—the same things traditional, qualitative literary analysis sets out to investigate, but now aided by new tools, new methods, new minds. In his pamphlet on network theory, Moretti compares western works like Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens, to eastern ones like The Story of the Stone, a Chinese novel. He found profound differences in the form of the stories, how their protagonists interact with the other characters: Dickens’ networks are symmetric, built on pairs of interacting characters, while Stone’s networks have no symmetry at all. In his conclusion, Moretti writes: A different role for the protagonist, resulting from a different set of narrative relations: what networks make visible are the opposite foundations of novel-writing East and West. One day, after we add to these skeletons the layers of direction, weight, and semantics, those richer images will perhaps make us see different genres—tragedies and comedies; picaresque, gothic, Bildungsroman…—as different shapes; ideally, they may even make visible the micro-patterns out of which these larger network shapes emerge.

Moretti is palpably excited about the future of the field, and excited about a younger crop of scholars bringing “scientific imagination” to the discipline of textual interpretation. “We have to prove these new tools and new mind frame can produce literary scholarship as good or better than traditional scholarship,” says Moretti. “This is the generation that is going to change literary study.” One pamphlet at a time, if necessary.

Network maps for Our Mutual Friend and The Story of the Stone, from the Lit Lab’s second pamphlet, “Network Theory, Plot Analysis” by Franco Moretti. This article’s title image is a representation of Moretti’s Hamlet network.

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Above: “Girl Talk,” Below: “It’s a Girl’s World,” Natalie Uy, in Morocco

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hansel

“I

— WYATT HONG

t’s going to be wonderful,” she said, putting on a grey sweater. It was the day after Valentine’s Day, a Sunday, 6:15 in the evening, and in the morning, we had bought chocolatedipped strawberries from Andronico’s Market. I was eighteen and she had just turned nineteen and we couldn’t buy the wine ourselves. During lunch, she had asked her friend over the phone to get us “something delicious, not too expensive.” “Wear something over it. It’s chilly outside.” “What earrings should I wear?” “Something classy. The diamond ones.” I wasn’t sure if they were real, but they looked like they were and she had never corrected me. We took the school shuttle to University Avenue and had bacon-wrapped dates at Lavanda and watched the eight o’ clock Sunday Flicks movie in Memorial Auditorium about a man who aged backwards and a woman who did not. They were in love. At the end of the movie, the man simply disappeared in his crib and the woman died of old age in a hospital. Walking back to her dorm in the dark, unmindful of the passing bicycles, we talked about how we liked that we were young, but how nice it’d be if we could buy the wine ourselves. Everything was ready but she had forgotten the bottle opener. I stuck the bottle inside my shoe and tried

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banging the thing on the wall as I had once seen on a TV show. On our way to her friend’s room to get the bottle opener, I didn’t reply when she pointed out Orion’s Belt and how bright the stars were tonight. The stars were always bright in Northern California and had lost their appeal like the naked Playboy models on the walls of Cheever’s room at Groton. It was past eleven by the time we were back. I was upset, but when she looked at me with her signature hurt-eyes and bitten lip, I decided that I would forget it. The strawberries were sweet and the chocolate masked their aftertaste. She had also gotten cheese and crackers without telling me about it. The yellow core of the cheese rippled over the edge of the hard white peel as she sliced it with the knife she had stolen from the dining hall. She placed the ivory slice on a golden-brown cracker then put a thin slice of red-white strawberry on top of the cracker and the cheese, then she


put the cracker and the cheese and the strawberry on my and gray-scaled the terrain and I could get through it tongue and sealed everything with a kiss. all right. But when the pain left came the loneliness and By midnight, we were full and it didn’t hurt to fall it was especially difficult during my hour of duty from back on our palms. We lay facing each other on the carthree to four in the morning, after I had been woken peted floor of her room. up from a dream, bound to fall into one again, in that “What class do you have tomorrow?” state of weightlessness felt at the top of a swing ride, “Chemistry,” she said. “I don’t want to get up for it.” when I could see so clearly everything I had left behind. “You don’t have to.” I remembered many faces during that hour. Some were “It doesn’t really matter. Does it?” She turned to me. too near and you could not follow them for they were “No. We could have this every week. We could like your shadow. Others led you to too many places at choose a day, you know.” once and you quickly lost them. Finally, there were the She looked up at the bottom of her lofted bed as if silhouettes of those whom you had never met but had she were watching a moth midair. Her small unmoving only heard of, whose names you might have read on a mouth was half parted like those of the excavated statues wall of a restaurant or on a list of guests. Sometimes, this of Pompeii, boys and girls burst into flames, immortalsilhouette of a face spoke to me in a familiar voice and, ized into a thing of plaster. with the kind disposition of a stranger, led me to places “Wednesday?’ to which all roads had been lost. I had a class on Robert Frost on Thursday mornings. At four o’ clock, I walked into the room where the I could read the poems during breakfast. It didn’t matter twelve of us slept and marked the temperature and huwhether I knew what they were supposed to mean. If it midity using the light from my watch, then returned was a good poem it should mean everyto my seat to undress. It usually took fifteen thing. minutes to take off my equipment and Sometimes, “Sure, sounds good.” place them in their exact places this silhouette of a “Really?” in the cabinet. The reason, our “Yes, really. Every face spoke to me in a familiar company commander said, Wednesday.” that we were to organize our voice and, with the kind Her room looked cabinets every hour was beout into an inner court- disposition of a stranger, led me cause the power might be yard where the trees to places to which all roads shut-off during a war with were soundless. Their thick North Korea. You should be had been lost. trunks separated into branches able to arm yourselves in complete three feet from the ground and in the darkness, he said. When the lights went spring you could read a book leaning on the thickest off in Luray Caverns, Virginia, you lost your hearing for bough. the beating of your heart. It was never that dark here. “I want to say the ‘L’ word,” she said, and closed her The light from the hallway shone through the square slit eyes. on the door. The mattress was cold but it felt good to It was February. It had been cold, but it was going to lie down. I could hear the soldier on duty opening each get warmer. For Valentine’s, she had given me two glass door to make sure that no one was missing. The speaktumblers full of red and white confetti that had our text ers would blare at six-thirty. messages written on them. The narrow strips of paper The fifty-two of us in 1st Platoon, 5th Company, 1st lay scattered about us. I reached for one. Battalion, 26th Regiment moved in a box formation of four columns. We talked much about our past during he things I had lost I could only perceive through a the first week, but it was difficult to imagine the person picture and not touch with my hands. When I realnext to you walking into a classroom or buying a bag of ized this impossibility, the clearances between the dark chips from the grocery store because you had only seen trees outside her window widened into the long mouth him naked or in uniform. By the second week we had of the hallway and I became nervous. I was standing stopped talking about who we had been and behaved alone with a rifle on safety-catch and twenty rounds of as if we were born without the parts of us that had been ammo, none of which I should use, I had been told. I lost. We talked much about our fear of throwing grewas told many things here and had to accept every one nades and going in the gas chamber for our final week of them just as calmly as I had to accept that Mont Blanc at boot camp. It was the same talk with every person but was the highest summit of the Alps. When there was it was comforting to know that he was afraid just like physical pain, I told myself that I was in a theater and you, and you came to know everyone very well despite turned the drill sergeants into faceless crash-dummies the mangled surface of his appearance. Perhaps I had

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already learned to do this when I was eight years old, standing on the staircase of the Louvre in front of the Nike of Samothrace. “Dad, what happened to her head and arms?” “When the Turks invaded Greece, they cut off limbs and genitals from the statues to make a point that they were stronger than the Greeks.” “She’s beautiful.” “Yes she is.” Sometimes you felt your body disappear entirely. During the twenty-mile march, the entire battalion was divided into two parallel columns along either sides of the road. The columns extended beyond the hills you could see and beyond those you couldn’t. After a while, your legs moved without making a sound and you thought about all the places you had been to. When you glanced up to smile at a sudden recollection, you saw shivering against the red sunset a thousand black bodies. The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough. Sakura trees flower in April when it is warm in the day but cold at night. When we were in elementary school, my parents would take me and Ryan to the

cherry-blossom festival on Walker Hill, named after General Walton H. Walker of the 8th US Army. There was a Sheraton on the top of the hill where visitors from the U.S. liked to stay, so the area was well-kept and the roads around the hill were wide for the American Cadillacs. Sakura trees were planted on both sides of the road, and on the second week of April the road was closed to traffic from six in the evening and lanterns were hung from temporary snack stands that sold steamed dumplings and imported beer. Because there were no tables, the snack stands had large stainless counters that seemed to me like the arms of giant waiters from Gulliver’s Island holding silver plates of hors d’oeuvres. Liquefied gas from the metal tubes underneath the stands fueled the lanterns that blinded you when you looked up to see what your dad was paying for, and violet patches flushed your vision as he placed in your small hands a churro wrapped in white paper. The cashier machines sounded like the sound-effects in Tom & Jerry and the falling petals made everything dreamy. The petals turned pink and yellow when you stepped on them. There were so many on the ground and it was impossible not to hurt them. In the mornings, old men hired by the hotel would sweep them into large hemp bags to be burnt outside Seoul but some of them would stick to the asphalt until the mon-

“Cherry Blossom,” Derek Ouyang

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soon season. At the end of the month, when the trees “Well you should tell her.” were no longer white, the stands were broken down and “I don’t actually like her. She never shares her penshelved in a warehouse behind the hotel. cils. I also heard that she hits the boys really hard when In July of that year, my parents enrolled me in a prishe plays ABCs.” The boys in her class liked to talk about vate summer school near home. I had half an hour of this and I knew they all liked her. lunchtime between English and science, and instead “I think you like her,” he said and tossed his cigaof going home I went to a cheap Japarette out the window. “You want to go As he nese restaurant down a block get some sherbet?” that had small square The sherbet shop sang the most beautiful tables that could hold on the first floor was rendition of the song that all of exactly two trays of called “Terra d’ Glathe lunch menu. The us had learned in elementary school, ce.” You could choose katsu there was delitwo flavors on a cone everyone swallowed fast so that cious and I liked paying and three in a cup. Durhe would not cry. for the food and keeping ing monsoon season you the change for the arcades. The watched the passing umbrellas waitress was kind but I didn’t like how she through the glass pane of the entrance. talked to me as if I were a kid. After eating quickly, I would go to the arcades and spend all my change there t the half-point of the march, we put down our and, on days when I played well, would be late for class. gear on the ground and walked into a makeshift Our teacher was in his late twenties and wore the auditorium. Each of us was given a Snickers bar. A sersame white sweater to class every day. He was tall and geant asked the oldest recruit to stand up and sing “Dear good-looking and taught us interesting facts like why Mother.” As he sang the most beautiful rendition of the maple leaves turned red in the fall and why your voice song that all of us had learned in elementary school, evtraveled farther at night. During our ten-minute breaks, eryone swallowed fast so that he would not cry. I was he smoked on the stairs and blew the smoke out the windoing well until I saw older guys weeping. We arrived at dow between the second and the third floor. I liked to our barracks around three in the morning. Hot porridge talk to him because he did not talk to me like the waitwas served. We went to bed without washing. It was the ress at the Japanese restaurant. end of training. “I have two of the same sweater, you know,” he said. His long hair was parted sideways to show his wide forehe train gave a nudge and it felt as if an angel had head. Against the brown buildings outside, his pale skin touched me on the back. The drill sergeants were made him look angelic and lost. standing on the platform waving their hands at us. The “Why would you have two of the same sweater?” cold morning air carried their white breaths away. The “Because I don’t like to do laundry. See how clean conductor handed out MREs for us to eat during the ride it is.” He pulled at the bottom of his sweater for me to and asked if anyone wanted a smoke. He pointed at the see. It was made out of wool and woven in thick cables. first three people from the front and they followed him The white wooly sweater fit him very well even though it out the door at end of the car. The dead rice fields seemed was summer and I wondered how he could tell between smaller than they had been when we had crawled across the two. I liked his silver watch that had a big white dial them in the rain. with the Roman numerals III, VI, and IX instead of real “It’s finally over,” Yoon said. He had been the squad numbers. He looked at it now. leader. That meant nothing now. We were going to Seoul. “Do you have a girlfriend?” he asked. “I know.” There was a girl in the school orchestra I liked to talk “Damn. I feel like I’m dreaming.” to. She had a tiny face that you could hardly see under “I’d shoot myself if this was a dream.” her hair that reached a little above her waist. You could “I can’t believe we stayed alive in this shit-hole for tell she was proud of her hair by the way she combed it six weeks.” with her fingers. My friends teased me about her often “Don’t remind me.” I looked at my blackened fingerand spread rumors that we had held hands. I told them tips and hoped that the sense of touch would return to we had never, and we never had. them by the time I could go home. “Not really.” “Sucks for the guys who got stationed near the bor“What do you mean not really?” der.” The First Sergeant who had once been stationed in “There’s a girl in orchestra with me and I think she’s 3rd Division had told us that he had wanted to cut off his pretty.” feet when he had stood guard in the mountains during

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the winter. Yoon did not answer and now the train was moving “Did you tell your girlfriend that you got stationed very fast and the shadows of the telegraph poles passed in Seoul?” I asked. The 8th US Army Base was thirty reme like some vague rhythm of a lullaby my mother used turn to them by the time I could go home. to sing me. Yoon said something back but I was in an“Sucks for the guys who got stationed near the borother place and did not hear him. der.” The First Sergeant who had once been stationed in 3rd Division had told us that he had wanted to cut off his The buildings grew taller as the train approached feet when he had stood guard in the mountains during the city. The train passed through several stations in the the winter. suburbs where I could see women and children standing “Did you tell your girlfriend that you got stationed on the platform. Soon, we passed the gigantic malls on in Seoul?” I asked. The 8th US Army Base was thirty the outskirts of the city then the large billboards near minutes from my house, in the middle of Seoul. We had the freeway entrance with the newest celebrities holdheard that there was a Burger King in the base and that ing the newest cell-phones. Finally, the train was movthe burgers there were big like the ones in America. We ing parallel to the Han River. The green dome of the were to serve as interpreters for twenty-one months. The National House of Assembly and the gold façade of the English language had never done me a greater service. tallest building of the city emerged behind the sound“I’m going to call her as soon as we arrive. She’s goproof walls. Seoul Tower loomed over the sprawling city ing to be so happy. The base is literally fifteen minutes from the top of Mount Nam. When you looked down at away from our school.” the city from its viewing stand at night, the river was a “You never know. She might hate it.” dark strip between two carpets of gold; the bridges thin “Fuck you.” threads along which traveled tiny red lights of cars. The He snuggled into his seat and sighed as he closed his fence around the viewing stand was made out of crisseyes. His stubble and thick eyebrows made him look oldcrossed wire and couples bought locks from the souveer than he was. He had a clean-shaven face and brown nir store next to Cold Stone Creamery and locked them hair in the sticker picture of him and his girl he carried onto the fence. There were very many locks and you in his breast pocket. They had met in an Economics class. could not count them. “I’m so glad it’s over,” he said. In the dark you pointed out to the girl next to you The rice fields grew smaller and smaller. I unlaced the places you had taken her; the hookah bar on Rodeo my boots and leaned back on my chair. “Do you think Street where they sold pear martinis filled to the brim we’ll ever see them again?” He asked. that you were careful not to spill on the We The twelve of us had shared our fake Persian rugs; the pork-belly email addresses the night before. place with the grill in the shape kept no secrets We promised that we would of a turtle’s shell, the grease among each other, but meet someday over glasses flowing down the grooves to maybe that was only because its tail and dripping onto an of beer and laugh about how Cho took off his mask in the oval tray made out of stone; we knew that we’d never gas chamber because he misDoksu Palace where it was rumeet again. heard the drill sergeant and came mored that lovers who walked along out crying and his face bright red, how its stone walls would part within a month; each of us donated a liter of his blood to the Green Cross all the metro stations on the green line and the shops for two bite-sized whoopee pies. We were from all over underground that sold umbrellas that would break in the country, between the ages of eighteen and twentytwo weeks, but you would lose them in a week, and the nine. Some of us had not gone to college. One wanted florists in the back alleys of Ewha Women’s Unversity to be an actor and worked as a valet at a hotel to pay who delivered the flowers for you if you paid them extra; for his acting classes. One lived in Busan and went to the revolving doors of Kyobo Bookstore in the old part the baseball games every Saturday to get drunk. One of the city with the entire ceiling a mirror—when you of us studied in the United States. One lived in Japan. looked up, your face looked like a pebble breaking the One was a marathon runner. One of us wanted to work face of a rapid ravine. in the shipbuilding industry after the army. One of us Then you pointed at the darkness and said, ‘There’s received letters from two girls who did not know each the path by the river where we walked holding hands other. Some of us had never slept with a girl. We kept and those are the fishing poles of the old men dozing no secrets among each other, but maybe that was only off in their plastic chairs and there, the spiders are weavbecause we knew that we’d never meet again. ing their webs between the tall grass.’ You could point “I don’t know. I don’t think so.” farther and say, ‘Here is my house and here, the empty

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“Super Geisha,” Lauren YoungSmith

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“Shrooms,” Lauren YoungSmith, drawing

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lot where my friends and I used to play soccer, and that “Kind of. We’ve lived twenty years now. Isn’t that is the bench, yes the one on the left, where we threw our scary?” backpacks, and sometimes the midget Chinese deliv“We have plenty of time. Don’t worry.” ery man joined us until he had to go pick up his dishes, “Screw work. Party more.” and over there behind the rhododendrons is a sheltered “True that.” meadow where I buried a soft yellow chick I had bought “Anyways, let’s crush them tomorrow.” We were in in front of my elementary school for fifty cents. I marked upstate New York for a squash tournament at Hamilton the place with a branch. Can you see it? Over there is the College. The teams in the tournament were ranked much Japanese restaurant where I used to eat alone, and right higher than us but we didn’t care. next to it you might see the sherbet shop where you can “Obviously. We’ll break their ankles.” choose two flavors on a cone and three in a cup.’ “Goodnight.” But she would not know the sound of a deflated soc“Goodnight.” cer ball against the asphalt nor the softness of the small At the team dinner after the tournament, Coach Talyellow living thing in your hands nor the discomfort bott told us that we had given our best and that he was of the long wooden chopsticks and no, she would not proud of us. On the wall of the restaurant’s bathroom know that the lady at the sherbet shop had a daughter was Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night. The first poem I with six fingers who wore a white glove on her left hand had ever written was about that painting. In tenth grade even in the summer, and she would ask her about the English class, we had read Auden’s “Musée des Beaux glove just like you had. And all the places you could Arts” and had to write a poem on a painting of our not point to because they were no longer choice. My roommate Andrew had found I sat there and all the places you could the painting in the basement stornot point to because they were age and had suggested that we on the side of the so far away; Mr. Tulp’s classput it on our wall next to the dining table facing the room on the second floor of Maxim covershot of Carmen kitchen and wondered why the schoolhouse in Groton, Electra. It was a nice paintMassachusetts with wooden ing and I looked at it during I sat in the same place chairs that creaked when you study hall hours when I didn’t though I was alone. leaned back on them. You faced want to work. The poem, titled the sunfaded Vermeer if you sat near “Second Movement: Lento”, began: the window, and the girl in the painting seemed Light blends time in Van Gogh’s café to want to tell you something, something special only for you to hear, and you looked at her pleading eyes want“We’re here, baby,” Yoon tapped me on the shoulder. ing to apologize while the class went over Livy’s History We were at the middle of a bridge over the Han. of Rome line by line. If you sat under the painting, you The bright sun pummeled my face in multiple directions looked at the green leaves outside the window trembling through the lattice of the truss. That poem, what was it: like plaited manes of horses and if it was Saturday you something about the river and a kiss. were already thinking of biking down Peabody Street, past big New England houses and fields full of goldenrod Mom had left to pick up David from school because and the school pond where the trees looked like used-up it had begun to snow and he had not taken an umbrella pencils because of the beavers, to have pizza at Pastores’. with him. The house was quiet with all the lights off. The And California, the edge of the fountain in front of Old snow outside fell quickly and I knew that it was wet and Union where you lay on my back watching the spotlights heavy and would not last a day. It was the end of March. I from the frat-houses make the same ellipses around the had arrived early in the morning in a cab. After six weeks same stars until she arrived, warm from alcohol, her of training and two months as a Private Second Class, I breath peppermint white and her guilty perfume all over was home on my first weekend leave. you, writing on your back with her finger that yes, she I changed into civilian clothes and lay in bed for a will go out with you; the Hampton Inn in upstate New very long time until I lost sense of where I was. I went to York where Spencer suddenly asked you in the dark, the kitchen and took out a cold bottle of milk. I sat on “Aren’t you afraid we’re going to die someday?” the side of the dining table facing the kitchen and won“What?” dered why I sat in the same place though I was alone. The “I said, aren’t you afraid that we’re going to die trees out the window were white with snow. I got up and someday.” walked around the house looking at the photographs on “I guess I used to be. I don’t think about it that the walls like I was in someone else’s house: Ryan and I in much. You?” front of the Eiffel Tower, he holding a harlequin teddy-

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bear from the souvenir shop at the Louvre, I a rubberband propelled plastic bird the peddlers sold at Place de la Bastille; Ryan and I with little David in the middle, all of us in pastel colored shirts the day after my graduation from Groton; mom and dad waving from a swan-boat at the Shilla Resort on Jeju Island. I had taken the picture. Their bedroom smelled sweet and sleepy. The bed was perfectly made and all the drawers were closed with their handles aligned. The mahogany framed clock on the wall sounded like marbles falling into perfectly fitting wooden grooves. Out the window across the bed I could see the empty lot where I used to play soccer after school. Their wedding picture rested against the threeplaned mirror above the dresser—dad in a black tuxedo, flowers in his breast pocket, mom on his arm, flowers in her hands. August, 1989, he young and intelligent in his gold-rimmed glasses; she beautiful in her pearl earrings and long white gloves, smiling at him; the blurry trees in the background pastel-green, and everything surrounded by an ivory frame carved in the texture of waves, grapevines, waves of wine, and the snow outside falling everywhere, on the empty lot, on David’s footsteps, on her umbrella, washing everything whiter than sakura petals, falling from the boughs of the trees into wine-dark puddles made under the tires of passing cars; the mahogany clock spilling pearls endlessly onto the floor, the smell of their bed so sweet and white, the pil-

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lows without a crease; the young man and the beautiful girl smiling at each other twenty-one summers ago. All the stories she told me on that bed—a family of bears who got lost in a city searching for honey, breadcrumbs and moonlit stones, jealous queens, a daughter who tossed herself into the Yellow Sea for her blind father to see again; characters who were lost and found, lost again and resurrected, who walked into a black forest with the certainty that they’d return, and Hansel with the white pebbles which lay in front of his house, smooth and round from the years of sweat from his palms. And all the people I remembered, who were far away from me, eating, opening a window, or just dully walking, carried with them a thread of me tied around their ankles, dark and smooth, across the green shadows of maple leaves, so that I spread wide like a richly worked robe, the loveliest and the deepest, of the streets and the stars and the pulsing lights of all my cities. And someday I will spread so wide that I will no longer be seen. I wasn’t afraid to listen to her with my eyes closed because I knew that she was looking at me through the dark. “One more.” “It’s time to sleep dear. It’s almost ten!” “Just one more.” “Okay, this is the last one.” And the story would begin.


“Bull Elephant, Etosha National Park, Namibia,� Patrick Freeman

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Kelly Vicars Major: Cultural Anthropology Year: Senior “What I love about days that are damp and dark is that they add complexity to a usually bright and legible reality. Things are subdued slightly; there is an afterthought in the air. I don’t try to realize this atmosphere consciously in my pieces, but that nameless quality that seeps under doors and through sweaters and into our minds on rainy days is there, I hope, in the same way a gray sky can cast itself back at you, asking you the questions, for a change.”

“Earnest,” watercolor 46

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“Urban Landscape pt. 1,” acrylic on canvas

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“Study in Ballpoint n.3,” ballpoint pen

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THE ABSTRACTION OF THE DAIRY COW on paintings by Emma Webster

: disassociated from any particular instance

: expressing a quality apart from an object

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nimalia begat Chordata, and Chordata begat Mammalia, and Mammalia begat Artiodactyla, and Artiodactyla begat Bovidae, and Bovidae begat Bos. By our hand and discriminating eye, Bos primigenius emerged—which is to say cattle, the most common domesticated ungulate. Cow is an instance of cattle—a female one—but think ‘cow’ and no one particular face emerges out of the herd. Colloquially, ‘cow’ is cattle, singular—a microcosm of cattle. The cow persists in its collective sense: like the rest of its species, the cow is doe-eyed, its ears splay, it chews its cud, its neck hangs low. Occasionally the tail swishes to dislodge a fly, and with it swing the tails of the entire herd, swishing in rhythm as the herd dislodges their flies. A cow produces milk for its calf, and we appropriate it for ourselves. We mix it into anonymity so that milk, when it arrives in a suburban glass of milk, is the milk of an entire herd—even of disparate herds. Meat in a hamburger is the meat of cattle, not of any one cow. One cow in Britain contracts a prion disease and embargoes prevent all beef products from seeping out of the British Isles: if one cow has it, cattle have it. In the suburban and urban experience, cow is incomprehensibly small—one blade of grass in acres of pastureland. Industry trades cattle, not cows.

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ou’re such a cow,” she told me, and turned away with contempt. That summer, I went to the Marin County Fair and walked through the exhibitions, watched the pig races, and rode the mechanical bull. My path traced a spiral, a collapsing orbit, that finally, inevitably ended at the penned dairy cows, where they stood with tubes attached to their udders, frothy milk pumping up and over into giant canisters. It was late in the day, and the crowds were gathered around the main stage to watch a Black Sabbath cover band imitate Ozzy’s voice and gestures. “You’re such a cow,” I said to the nearest one, staring it down. I noted the green stain on her flank, let my eyes trace over the loose skin draped over her boxy, coarse conformation. High in my sinuses, a particle of animal dander and the rank staleness of matted manure colluded to aggravate my allergies. Her tail swished and I watched the flies rise off her croup only to settle back down again. The milking apparatus continued its chugging, still clamped onto her teats, and the cow still stood, staring straight ahead, chewing, her eyes not quite alert but not quite glazed—she stood compliant, complicit, unprotesting. I imagined her eyes always looked like this, no matter the occasion, no matter the boredom, no matter if her calf was being weaned from her side. “You’re a cow,” I repeated, venomously.

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: having only intrinsic form with little or no attempt at pictorial representation or narrative content

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y mom always says that cows lying down means rain, which is to say that cows are weathervanes—or, perhaps more precisely, that the curled-up cow is an element of the weather in and of itself. Cats and dogs may rain figuratively, but you can see cows lying down and recognize its accompanying weather system, rain. The cow’s crudely constructed body may dot the fields, but the cow occupies a more undulating, bell-like form, blurry, wrapping itself around its offspring to warm and nourish them. They migrate across the wet, verdant landscapes, creating and perpetuating the pathways between food and shelter, unaware of their bodies’ great stench, drifting along in the currents directed by man. Sometimes, black clouds approach, thunder fills the skies, and a cow looks around to find that all their bodies already have, as one, folded to the ground to wait for the storm.

— JASLYN LAW


“Mom Says Cows Lying Down Means Rain,” Emma Webster (’11), oil on canvas

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“The Queen,” Katie Pyne, monotype

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Vials of Juliet — LUCAS LOREDO

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hen Eliza and Danny Whitlock first took their own lives they were giddy. Danny said with a smile, I’m nervous, and Eliza told him, Don’t be so soft. And they tangled their arms like they’d seen older kids do, but instead of saying bottoms up and drinking alcohol they said bottoms up and each child drank a small clear vial of Juliet. One minute later they took their first breaths and their hearts spontaneously thumped, singular and hard, like an underwater detonation. Their sleeping muscles kneaded blood back through their dried veins, and when their eyes fluttered open they looked at each other. Still nervous? said Eliza. Danny said, I don’t remember anything. Eliza said, Me too, except everything was purple. Like closing your eyes and opening them up again, Danny said. They both sat up and Eliza guided her black course hair over her right shoulder and sat stroking it, and Danny tugged on his shirt which ate at his small chest. I don’t think I would want to do that forever, Danny said. You’re such a weenie, Eliza said, but she was looking down at her hair. Maybe, said Danny, but I

still wouldn’t want to do it. It became ritual, this brother and sister, in the hours before afternoon service every Sunday, their parents busy drinking the mimosas they’d let sit out overnight, marinating. Juliet was not hard for the children to get. It was expensive, but they piled their allowances for a taste of the clear liquid vials, for a taste of the dark coolness of death and then the sudden explosion of the heart, and the warm blood creeping back like roots reaching through dirt. The blood seeping back, Eliza said once. That part makes my toes curl. On Easter Uncle Bob came from out of town with his wife, Beatrice, and his son, Kurt. Kurt was ten—one year younger than Danny and two years less than Eliza—and he wore a blue clip-on Leland Quarterly Winter/Spring 2012

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tie decorated with dyed eggs wrapped under the collar of a thin, white, short-sleeved dress shirt from the boys section. In the play room Eliza said, We’ll all take half—you won’t be out ten seconds. It’s purple, Danny said. Kind of like sleeping but not exactly. The vial was big compared to Kurt’s hand, the exact size of the stretch between the base of his palm and the end of his middle finger. I don’t want to, Kurt said. We’ll get in trouble. No one’s gonna know, said Eliza. They’re partying, don’t be so soft. Kurt looked to Danny and Danny nodded, though he wasn’t sure why, and so Kurt watched as Eliza and Danny did the familiar dance of arms and said bottoms up and brought the vials to their lips. Eliza slid a glance at Kurt, who was obligated to put the half-vial of Juliet to his mouth. Eliza said, Tastes sweet, too, and then they were out. Sound seeped warm into Kurt’s ears like

Kurt lay on his side, didn’t get up. He said weakly into the carpet, I don’t get it. He rolled up his legs into his gut and pressed his clip-on Easter tie to his eyes. He cried, quiet and bald. I hate it, he said. Yeah, Eliza said, but now you know. Mr. Whitlock called from the kitchen, Ready for takeoff! and Eliza jumped up. Alone, Danny said to Kurt, It gets easier. Kurt said, It felt like dying. That’s because it was dying, Danny said. Kurt’s small soft face twisted up like it was trying to catch an idea. But I don’t get it, Kurt said. It was nothing. Danny said, I hate it too. And then they left for afternoon service. The next time was at Danny’s twelfth birthday party. Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock rented a bouncy castle, which Danny and his friends were just barely young enough to still enjoy. It was a family affair—each kid came wrapped with two parents, all of whom joined Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock for cool screwdrivEliza said,We’ll all take half—you won’t ers. It was hot out, bathing be out ten seconds. It’s purple, Danny said. suits ran around attached to kids and bundled down Kind of like sleeping but not exactly.The the Slip ‘N Slide. At one point Mr. Whitlock hoistvial was big compared to Kurt’s hand. I ed Danny from the armdon’t want to, Kurt said. pits, threw him up into the bouncy castle, and shoutmelted chocolate. His eyes flitted open. Af- ed, Liftoff! As Danny flew through the air ter a moment his vision faded in and he saw laughing he thought how neat it would be to Danny and Eliza were already sitting. Eliza build rockets like his dad. was grinning down at Kurt, and Danny was Later all the kids gathered in Danny’s turned away searching the blank wall and room and taped a note to the door that read tugging at his shirt. Told you, Eliza said. Like Boys Only, at which all the parents chuckbutter cream. led. Eliza was in there, too, but when one of

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the boys protested she slid him a look that said, Oh no you don’t. Eliza had made Danny spend all the birthday money his grandparents sent on vials of Juliet. Kurt was there in big Hawaiian trunks with palm trees that swallowed his rear. I’ll watch, said Kurt. Eliza was lifting vials from a small brown bag. Fine, she said. No one’s forcing you. Sissy, someone said. The boys talked. I heard it was purple, someone said looking at Danny. Danny nodded, staring into the opposite wall. Tommy Meyer got grounded for a whole year, someone else offered. Like he’d leave his room anyway, said another boy. Eliza passed vials around—ten clear wraps of glass in all. She emptied Kurt’s vial into her own. Good, Kurt said. Danny was still staring into the wall. I don’t want to anymore, he said, and poured his share of Juliet in Eliza’s vial. Eliza grabbed the boy next to her, Jimmy Studebaker, and wrapped her arm around his. Jimmy’s eyes jumped out of his head and he smiled right into Eliza’s chest. Jimmy had never touched a girl before—not like this. Eliza said, Bottoms up, and Jimmy would have said anything to her so he said, Bottoms up, and Danny said—Don’t. Eliza looked Danny firm in the face. Well I’m trying to be prepared, she said, and then she and Jimmy were gone. Kurt got up and left the room. Danny had never watched someone turn off. It was like the taut strings that hold a person up were suddenly and permanently cut. Danny could almost hear a sound, deep and dark like the bottom chords of a piano, punctuate


the moment his sister slumped over. Jimmy Studebaker came to sixty seconds later. He looked all around and when his vision finally faded in he stared at Eliza. The boys stared at Jimmy. Jimmy couldn’t stop smiling, looking down at the girl who entangled her arms with him. What was it like? one boy asked. Jimmy stared and stared. Who cares, he said—did you see her grab me? After a while another boy said, Man she took a lot. The door opened and there were Mr. and Mrs. Whitlock, screwdrivers in hand, with Kurt hiding behind Mrs. Whitlock’s yellow summer dress peeking in. Mr. Whitlock looked down at Eliza and said, How many? And Danny said, Three. Mine and Kurt’s. Mr. Whitlock handed his drink to his wife and picked up his wasted daughter and carried her into the master bedroom. Danny heard his father talking to his mother through the walls. She’s heavier, his father said. Kurt was still drippy from the Slip ‘N Slide, his curly black hair stuck to his forehead like electrician’s tape. Jimmy Studebaker’s eyes drifted dreamily onto Danny. Your sister has a thing for me, he said. This is stupid, Danny said, and he grabbed his young cousin’s hand and he and Kurt left the whole thing. You guys saw, Jimmy said, turning back to the group. She wanted it. The kids were entrenched in leftover hose water, circled on the floor around the empty brown paper sack. No man, someone said, pouring out his vial of Juliet on the dry bag, you didn’t see her. She was really out.

“Slick,” Katie Pyne, monotype

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ABOVE “Seattle Public Library” BELOW “Suzzallo Library” OPPOSITE “Book Aisle”

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A Life of Poetry FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

A Life of Poetry BRIAN TICH Photographs by Derek Ouyang

T

oday I came across these lines by the poet Dorothea Lasky:

I say I want to save the world but really I want to write poems all day I want to rise, write poems, go to sleep, Write poems in my sleep Make my dreams poems Make my body a poem with beautiful clothes They come from her poem, “Ars Poetica.” These lines are not the most elegant, nor are they the most complex, but they are certainly compelling. Why? Because they offer the reader a beautiful vision of how a poet’s life could be. Within these lines, Lasky imagines her everyday existence as a particular subset of her poetic craft. Not content to be merely a writer of poems, she decides her life ought to be poetry. Other than the heedless romance of this notion, what attracts me to Lasky’s poem has to do with a piece of advice I once received from a writer. It goes like this

(and please indulge me on this one, because it is more profound than it sounds): “If you are going to be a poet, you need to write poems.” That may not seem revolutionary, but anyone with writerly aspirations will tell you that although you may prefer to believe it is enough for now to have the mind of a writer, and to think literary things, you do actually have to write sometimes. And, for the most part, what you write will not be good. The words you come up with will rarely seem to do justice to their brilliant nonlingual prefigurations, which may lead you to wonder why indeed you are doing this instead of trying to save the world. And then there is the old adage, “write what you know.” Not difficult, right? But there is many a grumpy old writer who will tell you that, at your age, “what you know” isn’t all that much. Maybe you are one of those overachievers whose stuffs her life to twice the density of the average person’s—but even then, you aren’t totally original all the time. Your life, like mine, is filled with a great deal of banality. And is that something you really want to write about? But my point is this: for the true poet, the person

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“Observation” who understands her life as poetry, the person whose Between the lips and the voice something goes dying. greatest desire is actually to make her life into a poem, Something with the wings of a bird, something of the problem dissolves just as easily as it appeared. For if anguish and oblivion. you really are going to attempt to understand everything The way nets cannot hold water. through poetry and as poetry, there is no chore. I can My toy doll, only a few drops are left trembling. think of no better response than this to the words, “If Even so, something sings in these fugitive words. you are going to be a poet, you need to write poems.” Something sings, something climbs to my ravenous If you are going to be a poet, of course you are going to mouth. write poems—so why not live them, too? Oh to be able to celebrate you with all the words of joy. And even if Dorothea Lasky doesn’t always leap earnestly out of bed each day, yearning to do nothing but Here, in essence, is Neruda’s sophisticated write until she collapses from exhaustion No elaboration of Lasky. What better way to and then has multi-layered dreams describe the poet’s own purpose, his matter how many about writing more poems—even own struggle, his own particular vicif she is not this constant, pure, words you attach to a torious and defeated joy? How little perfect poet-of-poets, she may thing, they will not be the his nets can catch! How much evaponevertheless tell herself that she thing. But they will be rates, prematurely and breathlessly is. This is how she comprehends something. lost! But even so… her condition. It is a grand and tidy No matter how many words you attach to little fiction. It lifts the pressure off the a thing, they will not be the thing. We all know that. But words, off the page. It demystifies the pen. The parapherthey will be something. nalia are incidental: it’s all about the life. If you want to save the world, then maybe you’re At this point, I would like elaborate a little on not meant for poetry. But if your dreams are poems are Lasky’s intentions by giving you another few lines, this dreams, then what else is there to do? time from Pablo Neruda:

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“Empty Library,” Derek Ouyang

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Alberto Hernandez

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MIDNIGHT SAFEWAY RUN — ZIXIANG ZHANG

Standing on line at register 10 in the Menlo Park Safeway half past midnight housewives restocking in the aisles me cradling store-brand fig bars & two balloons of herb chips on sale for $2.69 each when I hear a man behind me mid-30’s with craters for dimples eyes clouded: rainstorms brewing asking if he can get ahead words hurrying over the countertops— slipping like wheels on ice says that his wife is sick & doesn’t think he has ever touched a living person so hot: her skin burning his palm her redness on him no voice besides the clock gripping so tight on the electric thermometer & acetaminophen that the packaging warped (& I guess that’s love)

I say “yeah go ahead” too fast to come off as caring (although I do, I really do) but he is already at the ice machine grabbing a 20lb bag & running back to the register a reflex—his head turning to say “thank you” & a deliberate pause as if to remember my face like the linoleum of hospital hallways another minute: the cashier like a pendulum swinging back & forth his heaviness inside & he leaves, glancing back with one last nod— two seconds time & its passing what it means to the workers at this graveyard hour to that sick scarlet woman: an endless night to wake up for but minutes to wake up in. Together, they wait & it all passes.

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“In the Back of My Head,” Lauren YoungSmith, drawing 62

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CONTRIBUTORS

CONTRIBUTE

KATE ERICKSON is a junior from Carlisle, MA MARY GLEN FREDERICK is a senior from Overland Park, KS PATRICK FREEMAN is a junior from Valley Springs, CA LIHE HAN is a junior from Beijing, China WYATT HONG is a sophomore from Seoul, Korea DUSTIN JANATPOUR is a junior from San Mateo, CA JASLYN LAW is a coterminal senior from San Rafael, CA LUCAS LOREDO is a senior from Austin, TX COLE MURPHY-HOCKETT is a coterminal senior from San Mateo, CA DEREK OUYANG is a junior from Arcadia, CA ARMINE PILIKIAN is a junior from North Hollywood, CA KATIE PYNE is a senior from Los Angeles, CA BRIAN TICH is a freshman from Ellicott City, MD NATALIE UY is a senior from San Antonio, TX KELLY VICARS is a senior from Monument, CO SETH WINGER is a coterminal senior from Santa Clarita, CA LILITH WU is a junior from Mesa, AZ LAUREN YOUNGSMITH is a junior from Denver, CO YANSHUO ZHANG is a PhD student from Chengdu, China ZIXIANG ZHANG is a sophomore from Ridgewood, NY

• We consider work by current Stanford students only. • Submissions are reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the year. We publish on a “Stanford quarterly” basis—that is, three times a year (fall, winter, and spring). • Submissions must be original, unpublished work. • To avoid redundancy, please do not submit any work to Leland that you are also submitting to other campus publications. • We accept submissions from all genres: we are concerned first and foremost with quality of expression, not in the genre of the work itself, so feel free to innovate. • All submissions are reviewed anonymously by the editorial staff. If selected, contributors will work one-on-one with Leland Quarterly editors to produce a polished piece for publication.

READY TO SUBMIT? Visit www.lelandquarterly.com

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Q Volume 6, Issue 2 Copyright Š 2012 by Leland Quarterly Stanford University lelandquarterly.com

Profile for Leland Quarterly

Leland Quarterly, Vol. 6 Iss. 2, Winter/Spring 2012  

Featuring Kate Erickson, Wyatt Hong, Brian Tich, Seth Winger, the Literary Lab, and more...

Leland Quarterly, Vol. 6 Iss. 2, Winter/Spring 2012  

Featuring Kate Erickson, Wyatt Hong, Brian Tich, Seth Winger, the Literary Lab, and more...

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