Weeks 9 and 10, Assignment #5

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg (fourth from left) and the late Antonin Scalia (beside her in blue vest) as supernumeraries in the Washington National Opera production of Ariadne auf Naxos (1993-94)

For assignments #5 and #6, you may either use the week’s prompt or rewrite a prior assignment. One of these last two assignments should be a rewrite, while the other should use the week’s prompt.

NB: In addition to Assignments #5 and #6, you may revise still another assignment, to be thrown into the final grading mix as spelled out in the March 2 email “New revisions policy.” So as not to confuse matters, let’s refer to Jenny Egan coverage as Assignment #7, and this latter, outstanding revision as Assignment #8. See the email for those guidelines and deadlines (the proposal is due April 19).

Prompt #5, for Weeks 9 and 10
Satirize the target of your choice in the manner of Virginia Woolf and Richard Strauss / Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Here’s the link to the Ariadne auf Naxos we looked at today (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WLNHWUAkh0), from the final minutes of the Prologue at 1:04:00 to Ariadne’s entrance around 1:16:00. I recommend the entire opera to you–along with Orlando one of my very favorite works of all time, a true (appropriately enough, considering Ariadne’s situation) desert-island companion. Lola and Olorin, consult your editors and me about this for clarification if you need it, but the gist is that the satirist is making fun of the target–in both cases a young creative artist–while simultaneously writing at the height of his or her creative power. What’s satirized is a youthful, overblown style, in both cases, but also a hidebound, academic, structural one, in the case of Ariadne’s Composer. The powerful ambiguity is in whose work we’re hearing: that of Strauss or the Composer? Woolf or the biographer or Orlando or Vita Sackville-West? Ultimately it’s a phenomenon much like free-indirect narration–we could call it free-indirect creation, blending the artist’s work with the artist’s artist’s work.

You may choose whatever or whomever you wish to satirize, but I suspect you’ll have the most success (and fun) following our models if your target is an ambitious, talented young artist, at least slightly ridiculous in his sincerity and idealism. The fun is in breaking or bending rules governing style and taste, but doing it gorgeously. The glories and the comedy of Orlando and Ariadne are in their creators’ pleasure in writing as they did before they knew better, in indulging their youthful grandiosity and virtuosity, in showing off. Seek comedy in your own creative self-indulgence–this is one assignment in which you probably don’t have to hunt down and kill your adjectives.

This is adapted from the Assignment 8 rewrite procedure, but pay attention to the details:

STEP 1: No later than midnight Thursday, email me and your new editor (you are welcome to seek input from your old editor, but they are not obliged to provide it) a proposal that fleshes out the the original story goals, problems and opportunities, and where you plan to take it. Let’s give ourselves 24 hours to brainstorm before you start putting down too many new words. This email is worth 0.3 points of your score.

NB: original assignment prompts are void – this is about pursuing the idea where you want to take it.
STEP 2: Start over with a blank document and the old draft and new notes within reach. DO NOT COPY AND PASTE. Real rewriting is not mere revision. Starting over is liberating and powerful. If there’s a sentence that’s good enough to make it from the old draft to the new, it’s worth retyping. Just the exercise of retyping it will introduce the possibility of changes that wouldn’t occur to you with a paste operation. Don’t cheat! This is a practice that will serve you well in all your future rewrites and revisions.
As for scoring, be aware that these will be held to a higher standard than the originals. But if you follow these steps, you will meet it. Deadline Sunday midnight, as usual.
Loulou Oudshoorn (Lola Jalbert)
Lindsay Parkhowell (Acacia Mays)
Olorin Etemad-Lehmer (Alona Cohen)
Ronni Shalev (Irina Bunčić)
Wilma Ewerhart (Joel Dombrower)

Acacia Mays (Lindsay Parkhowell)
Alona Cohen (Olorin Etemad-Lehmer)
Irina Bunčić (Ronni Shalev)
Joel Dombrower (Wilma Ewerhart)
Lola Jalbert (Loulou Oudshoorn)

Weeks 9 and 10, Assignment #5

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