This Also is Vanity

Joshua James Arsenio, University of Texas at El Paso


With the help of my professors (and some dead and not dead authors—and some much needed time out of the country), I made my goal for the last three long pieces I've dived into to write from beginning to end before starting another long piece. The result is two novels (in the early drafting stage, but the entire story, the pages, are there) and a screenplay. The first of the novels is this thesis and my first real attempt at a prolonged etude (credit to Chacòn and Chopin for the term). The parameters of the etude were structured while I was under the influence of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. I wanted Hemingway's iceberg. I wanted the unsaid to be the most impacting parts of the story. The idea was to study people who are unable not to be “icebergish”: that is, they cannot say what they mean. The result I hoped for are several strained conversations and scenes, building a little, but unable to explode just as the language of the piece is unable to explode. If I had to choose one word to describe this etude, it would undoubtedly be: restrained. Language, characters, scenes, setting, theme—even the most important detail of the protagonist (the fact that he is impotent) were all scaled back so that the inner thoughts of the characters, the “what's really going on” of the piece had to come from the images that the character notices. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) ^

Subject Area

Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Arsenio, Joshua James, "This Also is Vanity" (2004). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAIEP10514.