Journal 3: The Method
Pick a short passage from Antigone–preferably one that you do not quite fully understand, or that you know is more complex than you currently understand. Further, I would keep to one speaker—so look for a longer passage from one character.
STEP 1: List exact repetitions and the number of each (words, details). For example, if a form of the word seems repeats three times, write “seems x 3.” Concentrate on substantive (meaning-carrying) words. Only in rare cases will words like “and” or “the” merit attention as a significant repetition. At the most literal level, whatever repeats is what the thing is about.
List words that repeat X number of times you found it in the passage.
STEP 2: List repetitions of the same or similar kind of detail or word—which we call strands. (for example, the words polite, courteous, decorous are all words related to manners and behavior). Be able to explain the strand’s connecting logic with a label: manners.
List words that seem to fit under a larger theme or category that logically unites them together. You can use words more than once in different categories/strands.
Ex., Nature: moon, grass, moon, breeze
STEP 3: List details or words that form or suggest binary oppositions—pairs of words or details that are opposites—and select from these the most important ones, which function as organizing contrasts (for example: open/closed, ugly/beautiful, global/local, life/death, etc.) Your goal here is not to engage in either/or thinking but to locate what is at stake in the subject, find the tensions and issues that the work is trying to resolve. Many times, the binaries we locate in literature help us to find places where the binary does not work–and thus the complexity of the work itself.
List binaries here. On/off; Yes/No, etc.
STEP 4: Locate anomalies, exceptions to the pattern, things that seem not to fit. Once you see an anomaly, you will often find that it is part of a strand you had not detected (and perhaps one side of a previously unseen binary).
STEP 5: Choose ONE of your findings above as a starting point for your journal in which you discuss its significance in relation to the whole. As your write, push yourself to ask “so what?” to the specific examples you are working with. This will push you into interpreting the text beyond noticing the parts. For example: What does it mean that _______ repeats in this paragraph five times? What meaning does that have in the specific passage? in the larger chapter or work?
If you run out of things to discuss, turn to another strand to discuss until you have met the assignment length (step 5 should be 600 words).