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Art Appreesheeayshun

So I'm in my second year of college, and let me tell you, as a furiously notebook-sketching teenager, I never thought I'd have a hard time filling my art requirement. Somehow I can find plenty of classes I want to take in math. My method of finding core requirement classes I can stand to take is to scan each category for anything in the math or linguistics departments. Of course, all the arts classes were in either the art, music or drama departments, so now I'm in an art, music and drama history/appreciation class. While I do appreciate all of those things (I mean, I like comic books, Little Horse and Oscar Wilde), I'm kind of not that jazzed about the class. Maybe it's just because it's an 8 AM. But the lectures themselves are okay; what really irritates me is the book.

          The thing is, I hate being given value judgments about subjective things, and that's all art appreciation is: "Like this. It's good." The teacher doesn't do this, but the book is totally biased in favor of how great art is great. I guess that's to be expected. But I just want the facts, dammit! Keep your own opinions to yourself; just give me a set of tools with which to judge art, preferably scales with lots of numbers and measurements, and I'll draw my own calculat--I mean conclusions.

          But what I really hate about my art history book is how it puts dopey pronunciation keys next to nearly every word.

          It completely saps otherwise aesthetically pleasing names of all their beauty and dignity. I mean, you tell ME which instills you with more respect for the famed Athenian historian:

Thucydides (thoo-SID-ih-deez)

          And it's not like the Roman-letter translations of Greek names are that hard to pronounce. This is college, here. Everyone's read about ancient Greece in high school; and everybody has at least some familiarity with how things are pronounced. Nobody's going around saying "Hippo Crates". And if they are, the teacher can quickly set them right in class. Jesus.

          Giving pronunciation keys for common names like "Myron" (MY-ruhn, if you're interested) already establishes the authors' complete lack of faith in me as a human being. But they also feel the need to let me know how to pronounce run of the mill English words, like "hubris" or "oligarchy." Leave me alone!

          Half the time, the pronunciations given aren't even right. Who says "SuMEEEErians?" At best, it's not incorrect. But it's certainly not the only, most common, or best way to pronounce the word.

          It also bugs me how they don't follow any of the many established methods of representation pronunciation. I don't expect everyone in the world to know the International Phonetic Alphabet-- I guess-- but they don't even use the same perfectly serviceable notation employed by Webster's. Rather than using, say, a line over an "e" to show long "e," they write "ee". Short vowels are generally proceeded by an "h". It's not only extra long, but it looks dumb, making each syllable look like a caveman's grunt. It really makes you want to pronounce everything in a caveman voice. "Oog," you want to say, "me like bay toh ven!" And, okay, guttural grunts may be fine for English or German, but French? Italian? "fron-CHAY-scoe dee pee-AY-troe dee bur-nahr-DOE-nay"? [kuhm AHN now].

          Other than that, the class is okay. Our first assignment was to cast the legend of Orpheus with actors, which was fun, despite because my knowledge of Hollywood is limited to those actors who have appeared in Lord of the Rings, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Firefly. And Hugh Jackman [HYOOJ ACK-muhn].

          Also, we watched a documentary where a psychoanalyst was giving an interview from inside a dollhouse, and Baldrick was in it, so that was a hoot [HOOT].


- Laura