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March 21, 2011

Sarah Hall's _The Electric Michaelangelo_, 2004, U.K.

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"...‘This is America, we can all be f*****g rude’..." ~ The character "Grace" in Sarah Hall's, The Electric Michelangelo

Students,

*DO NOT POST ANYTHING HERE UNTIL YOU HAVE CHOSEN--FROM THE SIGN-UP SHEET TO BE DISTRIBUTED IN CLASS--A CHAPTER OR CHAPTERS FROM THE TEXT FOR WHICH TO FOCUS YOUR DISCUSSION QUESTION/ENTRY-TICKET*

*ALSO: BRING YOUR TEXT TO EACH MEETING THAT WE ARE SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS IT. *

Using the REVISED directions (Quotation, Page Number, Setup Statement based on quotation, Non-yes/no Discussion question based on interpretation of quotation) I provided in some handouts I gave you previously, please type your entry-ticket discussion questions for this reading in the comment box below. These questions will be . . .

. . . fair game for the midterm and final exam. In addition to submitting the question to English-blog.com, the question must also be submitted to Turnitin.com. You should also have it written in your Course Journal (collected at midterm and at the final), and have a typed, printed hardcopy to bring with you to class on the day the work is discussed (see syllabus). I will not accept late submissions so mind the deadlines.

Posted by lhobbs at March 21, 2011 01:10 PM

Readers' Comments:

Emmanuel Cruz
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
March 30, 2011
Discussion Question
“His mother said that human eyes saw no more nor less than the human brain commanded them to. . .” (10).
His mother lives by these words because her survival depends on them. For instance, she does not care to have dying tuberculosis customers at the hotel because money is money as she states later on. Does her behavior categorize her as a serial killer? She does not care that others get infected and die as a result of their contagious sickness.

Posted by: Emmanuel Cruz at April 1, 2011 10:56 AM

Entry Ticket #11 The Electric Michelangelo: History’s Ink
Malcolm Sedak tells the police that he threw the acid on Grace because “he had wanted her body altered, put back to how she belonged, restored to grace and femininity, restored to God’s blueprint for her kind” (p.286). Does having a tattoo really alter God’s original blueprint of a person or does it enhance the beauty that was already created?

Posted by: William Kopnek at April 1, 2011 01:14 PM

Through out the time reading this, as well as the video presentations made Monday, I found myself asking this one question. Can mixing art and business really work together? Especially considering what economic times and trouble the story takes place?
“Cy hadn’t thought of his mother in a while. But now he was suddenly remembering too the way she would be write out in pencil in a little notebook the budget for the months of October through to March and she would be pleased with herself if there was money left over after any one week, but she would never spend it, she’d just carry the surplus over into the savings from the summer.” pg 169
“He might have tattooed five hundred people that summer or he might only have tattooed five. The rest of the season was passed in a blur, with him stewing, brooding, festering, gathering all communication up in a tight knot at the back of his mind and putting the fear of God into anyone who sat in chair for work. Nobody cared to guess at the despair behind the frown and the complete lack of verbal engagement did wonders for his reputation” pg 299
Cy knows what do and how to live on a budget life, but his business to really started to boom after his distressing events and such, and he getting a load of costumers, but he still pretty much miserable, so is still worth doing?

Posted by: John Walker at April 1, 2011 01:47 PM

Entry Ticket – The Electric Michelangelo, Chapter 1, “Bloodlights”
“It was a light that had neither the impatience of fire, nor the snap of electricity, nor the fluttering sway of a candle. It was light that was nature's grace, unhurried, the slowest, seeping effulgence. Lesser and greater than all light. Blood of the sky” (Hall 55).
The Aurora Borealis is the chapter's titular “bloodlight,” appearing at the end of the chapter. Throughout this chapter and Cy's entire time as a tattoo artist, he deals with blood. What significance, if any, can you pull from the scene where he is woken to view the Northern lights? Is this a pivotal moment for Cy, and how do you see it impacting him in later life?

Posted by: Greg Robinson at April 3, 2011 04:05 PM

“When he struck on the idea of body art. Claudia was all for it and said she would become his living canvas. He tattooed her top to toe and together the two of them travelled about, awing the crowds in Europe and America” (p.179).

Cy met Arturas and Claudia in New York and discovered how Claudia used her tattoos to make money. This seems to be the first time Cy had seen somebody use their tattoos in such a way. Do you think that Cy got the idea to tattoo Grace from Arturas and Claudia? When Arturas tattooed Claudia, was it there the same sensual feelings as there is when Cy tattoos Grace? Would the story be different if Cy never met these two people?

Posted by: Eric Dirth at April 4, 2011 09:22 AM

In Sarah Hall's Electric Michelangelo, the author spends a great deal of time describing Claudia's obsession with the incubation exhibit on Coney Island. On page 234, it is stated that Claudia had spent so much time there that, "the management of the baby incubator exhibition decided to put a ceiling of the amount of time allocated to the entrance fee. It was considered unhealthy for some women in particular..." Why is this scene so important? How does Claudia's infertility influence the story? How would the removal of this tidbit affect the main plot?

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at April 4, 2011 12:38 PM

On page 260, the narrator says, “One day he might go mad with the knowledge of too much brutality, the violations, the ripping of hearts and minds and bodies. All the terrible information his needle bit into, all the secrets it lanced. All the memories of people who had come to him and bled their history, which he recorded like a photograph album or a diary of pictures on their bodies.”The narrator suggests that tattoo artists become very affected by the stories that they often hear from the people they tattoo. Do you think this is true? Do you think that because the tattooing process is so intimate, the tattoo artist feels as if they too have shared in the experience? Or do you feel that after tattooing people for a while you become numb to the stories and are able to dismiss them immediately after the tattoo is finished?

Posted by: tara mcloughlin at April 4, 2011 12:50 PM

From The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall:

“There were instances when Cy’s needle unwittingly delved down into a soul and struck upon meaning, then confidential matter came up, unstemmable as arterial blood or gushing oil, and customers confessed the reason behind the art.” (260)

Tattoo artists learn many secrets of those they tattoo, even without the necessity of asking. What is it about this ritualistic process that encourages the customers to tell the very personal stories of their lives? Why is the tattooing process different between Cyril and Grace in this respect, and how is he affected by it?

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at April 4, 2011 01:08 PM

On page 27, Hall says that “life could be creul and it could be strange and it was certainly messy, that much he knew.” Considering Cy’s young age at this point in the book, does this show an advanced level of thinking or is it simply an idea he obtained from his mother’s stories about his father?

Posted by: Meghan Donovan at April 4, 2011 01:36 PM

The Electric Michelangelo – Sarah Hall
“The sensed that his mother had prepared her statements, they were benign, considerate, sifted, and he wondered if all good wishes and positive outlooks did not require first crafting in some fashion.” Pg. 17

Do his formative years in the consumptive hotel in England with his mother dictate who he will become in the wildly different atmosphere of Coney Island? Also, is this reaction to his mother’s ways the bud of nihilism?

Posted by: Jamison Whitney at April 4, 2011 01:41 PM

"It was those without a calling that Riley scorned, those for whom the profession was about self-inflation, braggery, and big-man's sport, those who relished the coarse top coat of it all. They were scrapers, scratchers and scroundrels, he was an artist through with anomalous human messages were conveyed" (pg. 73). With our recent discussion in class on the reality television shows that focus on tattoo shops, would you say that Kat Von D and other reality tattooists are about self-inflation, bragger, and big-man's sport, all about the top coat of it all, the money?

Posted by: Prewitt at April 4, 2011 01:50 PM

“I paint hearts. And I paint souls. That’s what I do” (Hall 151). What does this say about the mentality of the tattooist on tattoos? What does the use of the word paint rather than ink (implying art) and the use of the words hearts and souls rather than skin tell you about how a tattoo artist sees his work? Use examples from the text to defend you answer.

Posted by: Meahgan Jameyson at April 4, 2011 01:54 PM


There were five colours in the tattooing pallet and limited archive o f symbols to cover the spectrum of life and death. Five colours to capture all the joys and sorrows of the world and hold them down against a piece of boy…Five colors to say everything that could (Hall 110).
Do you agree with Hall’s quote of limited options of tattooing? In comparison to Trachtenberg how would you say each Hall’s depiction of tattooing and their being a limitation on “symbols “ you can use differ? In your personal opinion do you feel that when it come to tattooing there is a limitation?

Posted by: amanda.arce at April 4, 2011 02:03 PM

“No, no, I paint hearts. And I paint souls. That’s what I do.” –Riley (151)

This quote by Riley, about the job of a tattooist, reveals his belief that tattooists use their medium to reveal something deeply personal about their clients. Where in the novel do you find Cy agreeing or disagreeing with this assertion? What does the novel itself seem to think? Defend your answers with support from the text.

Posted by: JH Pless at April 4, 2011 02:20 PM

“There were five colors in the tattooing pallet, and a limited archive of symbols to cover the spectrum of life and death. Five colors to capture all the joys and sorrows of the world and hold them down against a piece of body. Red, brown, yellow, green, black. Five colors to say everything that could be said” p. 109-10.
This excerpt is about how Cy wants to be able to use the color blue, even though using blue when tattooing is sort of taboo because it is temperamental. However, taken out of context, what does this quote say about the art of tattooing and how tattooists might think of the process of doing it?

Posted by: Sarah Buckner at April 4, 2011 02:23 PM

“Babylon in Brooklyn”
From The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall, page 156:
“Hey, you gonna do my Rosie over sometime? Her tits are beginning to fade. Gotta have those red tits! Old Graty Feltz did a good job on her for one of them navy yard boxer guys, and blind in the eye and wearing that damn patch and all, but she’s beginning to go a little at the chest. Her and the wife, I love my wife but you know what I mean. She’s my lucky charm, my Rosie, got to keep her looking sweet and shiny, right?”
Should a tattoo artist feel obligated to give a customer a touch-up? Should the tattoo mean more after it has faded to the wearer, or does the “new” feeling and colour of a tattoo matter more?

Posted by: Chad W. at April 5, 2011 11:28 PM

Natasha Witter
April 4, 2011
ENG 340
Tattoos in Literature
The Lady of Many Eyes

“Otherwise my body already belongs to them. I don’t care if its not thought of as beauty. I don’t need it. They can think what they like, but they cannot do is use me with their damn eyes.” (272)
In meeting Cy for the first time Grace mentions that she wants to do something new, it is later revealed that she wants her body completely covered in eyes. Can this act be considered the ultimate form of feminism? Are her tattoos considered destructive or liberating?

Posted by: Natasha Witter at April 6, 2011 02:44 AM


Dana Jennings
Dr. Hobbs
ENG-340
4/4/11
Entry Ticket: Electric Michealangelo
“Eva Brennan, on the other hand, gave him no such early forecast that she would trample on his heart” (Hall 65).
What does Cyril’s successful and unsuccessful experiences with women in the Chapter The Kaiser represent? Are his dysfunctional relationships hindering him as a person?

Posted by: Dana Jennings at April 6, 2011 01:33 PM

In the Kaiser Queen of Morecambe, Cyril experiences several sexual encounters sparked by his first learning about female genitalia from biology book, this seems to set off a series of events where he discovers more and more about the female body as well as his sexuality. "Soon there was to be an entirely new batch of contentious issues to wrangle with. LIfes next riddles may well have stemmed from Cy's discovery of the Pisces vaginales in a science book during a weekly biology lesson." Cy receives a first kiss and begins to notice the cold air hit the young bathing beauties. In this time of lost innocence, is Cyril experiencing these events differemtly because of his age? How much does his home life play a role in the loss of his innocence.

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*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.


~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Patricia at April 6, 2011 02:01 PM

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