Monday, December 24, 2012

Blog queries

It is always intriguing to know how people arrive at this blog. The most popular searches are “racism in Heart of Darkness” and, latterly, “Life of Pi”. Last year, I noted some of the more unusual search engine queries which, somehow or other, ended up here. These are some of this year’s crop.

Often, you can tell the precise question that students have been set for class essays, because they are typed straight into Google. For example:

“In the secret agent how does conrad present the anarchists”
“what word does kurtz overuse?”
Other times, you suspect these students may not be near the top of their class:
“what is the literature in the short story the ascent by ron rash”
“the sense of an ending please explain”
“what are some psyche in pincher martin”
And one suspects that the searcher looking for “literary review of john fowles's the collector by some writer” may not have a career in the arts. Nor will these searchers:
accountable for leibovitz book "who wrote blindness"
"bellow silver dish sparknotes"
"scottish author carson mc"
"what century was the collector written"
On the other hand, the following enquirers may be onto some fascinating new avenues of research:
"mr verloc and huckleberry finn character differences"
"sylvia plath was a racist chinese"
"tom and huck engagement"
And as for the “Beast Jesus Restoration Society”, I’d quite fancy joining that myself.

One class was given quite an imaginative creative writing exercise to do this year: “Write a scene in which clarisse mcclellan reappears in farenheit 451”. That would be quite an interesting challenge.

The curse of students everywhere – failing to make a note of the page number for references, surfaces a couple of times:

“what page the stars up close to the moon were pale; they got ...” a “in the novel shattered what page is the quote all that is required for evil to prevail”
“what page does the judge mention kkk in clocks without hands”
You get the feeling some of these students would much rather be doing something else:
how long is don delillo's mao ii"
"How does Don Delillo's Cosmopolis end?"
"a.m. homes music for torching about?"
"what was steve frinks from winesburg ohio father's name?"
On occasions the searches seem curiously personal. How about: “is heart of darkness a racist novel tom”? Well, since you ask, no it isn’t racist, and Chinua Achebe is entirely wrong in his analysis.

Matters sexual and scatological always make a perplexing appearance. The ideas are strange enough, but what I don’t understand is why Google directed them here. It must be a great disappointment to searchers for:

“blogspot brown assholelicking”
"www.debonair pissing"
“woman tied up in window”
“little flower girl sex stories 1,2,3”
Some searchers simply seem stuck for inspiration. I feel for the person who wanted to find out “how to write a composition on occasion when i mistook someone for somebody else”. It’s almost an existential crisis.

I was tickled by the fact that someone working for the Irish government was googling for the “historical price of a pint of guinness”. One wonders why they wanted to know?

Sometimes, I just want to talk to some of the searchers, because their interests sound so close to my own. I’d love to chat to the person who was looking for “comparisons of death valley sorley maclean and dulce et decorum est”.

And it would be great to be able to put people in touch with each other. Within the space of half an hour I had these virtually identical queries:

24 Dec, Mon, 06:16:50 Canada Google Images: "ww2 bombed city"
24 Dec, Mon, 06:47:56 Argentina Google Images: "wwii bombed city"
Anyway, another year rolls by. Another year awaits, and another collection of curious searches.

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