Monday, September 20, 2010

DIY & Guilt Ridden Sinners.

The Metro Detroit area has certainly not been lacking in weekend activities, having boasted at least one event in the area for the past three weekends.

This past weekend it was DIY Street Fair and the Funky Ferndale Art Fair. The two events separated by no more than the 20 yards or so that makes up with width of Woodward Ave. Last year, unaware that these were two separate events and unimpressed with what I found on the Western side of Woodward, I never ventured over to the DIY. This year I spent nearly 8 hours at the DIY never once feeling inclined to investigate the FFAF.

I have never had so much fun at an art fair before, generally I find art fairs mildly amusing at best. If anything I spend my money on food and grow increasingly frustrated as I drift from booth to booth searching in vain for something anything that interests me. What I liked about DIY was that it is less professional than your typical art fair, and I mean that in the best possible way. Most art fairs have a whole lot of professional to semi professional artists selling prints, enormous sculptures or glass work coasting somewhere in the hundreds. Or they have jewelry made from glass beads, which is usually quite lovely, but that only a grandmother would see as fashionable. In any case I usually find that the items on offer at art fairs are either out of my price range or not to my tastes.

The DIY was entirely different, the art & jewelry for sale was youthful and interesting. There was a lot of re-appropriated pieces where jewelry was made from pieces which had obviously been thrifted or scavenged from garage sales and remade into truly unique and fashionable jewelry. In addition to the many booths which I thoroughly enjoyed visiting multiple times throughout the day, there were food stalls from local restaurants, live music and the piece de la resistance: a beer tent boasting a wide selection of beers from 15 Michigan based breweries.

A brief note on the food, Treat Dreams a new ice cream / cookies / cakes establishment in Ferndale was there offering both traditional and more unique varieties of ice cream. I tried both the Honey & Lavender and the Sunday Breakfast (Maple ice cream, with bits of bacon and waffle mixed in, sounds weird, but is so good). I hope the keep these flavors in the store and that they weren't just for the DIY.

So as I went I took people's cards Here are some of my Favs: Mio Dio , Marcy Davy PrintMaker, Janine's pewter jewelry, Photography by Lori O'Connor, Dang Argyle, and last but certainly not least Courtney Fischer Jewelry. Most of them have etsy shops as well so definitely check them out.

Now lets shift gears completely shall we? I am currently undertaking the masochistic endeavor of reading at least the first two volumes of the Norton Anthology of American Literature. I am currently on the second volume and have reached Nathaniel Hawthorne's short stories, and yes The Scarlet Letter.

Now I read The Scarlet Letter and a couple of his short stories in high school. I had very little patience for them at the time and rather than skip them this time around I thought I would give them a second chance. Unfortunately I am no more impressed now than I was 9 years ago when I had to read them for 10th grade English. Although I am perhaps better equipped, this time around, to identify my disinclination for Hawthorne.

There are a few obvious reasons: 1. he isn't terrifically imaginative when it comes to symbolism I was bored with this even in high school, 2. He may have created several enduring female characters, but it is still clear to me that he didn't care much for women, and 3. He can simply be a tedious writer. Now I love Dickens a man who was lets face it paid by the word, but Hawthorne just doesn't do it for me. I think he sometimes get a little too infatuated with his use of symbolism and metaphor, he also takes a but longer than this reader would like in making his descriptions of people, places, things etc.

But what I have perhaps the most difficulty with is setting aside my feminist sensibilities so that I can read him without being annoyed. As a student of English Lit and History I will be the first person to warn against judging a historical figure or their writings from the standpoint of the 21st century. However, I do not believe that being from a distant historical time period exempts one from being the consideration of criticism. In addition to this difficulty the whole idea of sin and penance around which this story is woven is not something with which I am able to connect. I wouldn't call myself an atheist, but I'm not religious either. I suppose the word is agnostic, but since I rarely think about it I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with any label. The point is that while I realize that even Hawthorne was writing about a historical period with far stricter religious beliefs and practices than his own, I personally cannot help, but see the complete and horrific ignorance of the entire ordeal. I suppose one could argue that this is precisely what Hawthorne is attempting to expose, but my familiarity with his other work leads me to believe otherwise. He may not have felt as deeply about such matters as the puritans he writes about, but I do believe that he sees Hester as a sinner and that he sees her suffering as necessary to her redemption.

Anyway those are my thoughts for the moment, perhaps I will have more to say once I've finished it (for the second time).

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