I think I’m kind of deading this blog? I don’t know, as you might have noticed (if you are one of Five Of You who take an interest in my affairs) I haven’t posted here in quite some time and it has become boring and tiresome for me. I don’t know exactly what the point of a new blog is, I just feel like it somehow. I tried a private one for a while and I missed knowing that Five Of You were reading. So voila, new one, clickez clickez.
I want to put something like What?! CHARMANDER is evolving… but I think this is more like a tamagotchi i.e. dependent on environment (oh God, I don’t want to end up with one of those sick-looking ones with the puffy lips (quite apart from the fact that I have puffy lips and rather like them and if a real live chicken ever had them I would probably be rooting for it against the world)). What was I saying?
Click, do. You know there’s always the chance I’ll forget myself sufficiently to put on a fur coat and pretend to be a raucous little bear (sweet baby Jesus, you would think I’d tag a post where I’m dressed like a bear as THE POST WHERE I’M DRESSED LIKE A BEAR).
So having chastised the sea for failing to deal with the evil that lurks in the hearts of men despite its adequacy re preserving a British sense of being above every nasty thing happening on the continent – I’ve been thinking about tangentially similar stuff. This is a ramble fyi. I watched Angel and am reading it too (actually basically went to the library and carried out heap of Virago books – Radclyffe Hall next).
I sort of enjoyed the movie although it was deeply odd. It isn’t even slightly like the trailer. I think perhaps the protagonist has become more of a heroine in translation from one medium to the next, but a lot of that is to do with Romola Garai having silky hair and nice boobs (actually, I’m of the opinion that a lot of Romola Garai’s work can be explained with these two factors in mind – I wanted to like The Hour but didn’t care for it at all). Still, Angel is hugely unsympathetic for a movie character and you spend the entire first half of the film thinking wait, WHAT? And in the book she’s even worse.
But the main thing is, the main thing that makes Angel unlikeable and briefly successful and at all compelling, is that she’s a tyrant. In fact one normally does not see such an epic and deep-rooted will to power splashed across a screen unless it belongs to Napoleon or Amin – except maybe in Black Swan, which is why that movie cleared up at the Oscars LOL JK they would have given Best Actress to Colin Firth if they could.
Imma link you to my tumblr, OP seems to be awol
Her books are solely the product of the ‘soul’s delight in playing with itself.’ She finds all experience of the world distasteful, because it gets in the way of her own imaginings. This is obviously unpleasant; I wonder if it might not even be a little bit evil. Yet Hilary Mantel is right when she says that all books are, to some extent, the product of this kind of small-scale tyranny, and there’s even a nice Monica Dickens quote to that effect.
I mean VN says as much – his characters do not get away from him, as Forster claimed his own did. They are ‘galley slaves.’ There’s some Jung about this too – a long-winded German word for it – an author in perfect control of a work is perfectly under the spell of that work. So firmly under that she imagines she is powerful and free. I’ve always thought this is true. What happens for me is that a big gust sweeps me up and puts me down in a place where I feel quite uncomfortable and says WRITE so I begin to write and the thing says NOT LIKE THAT and I have to keep working and working until the idea has been expressed exactly as it wishes to be expressed. In which case, I have to be in control of every detail. Characters ‘running away’ or the like could be fatal.
So Angel is a terrible writer, but she is like all writers. I wonder if the horrific part of her is the part that treats experience as an obstacle, but it’s difficult – one wouldn’t like to be one of those authors who dumbly transcribes from the world and fancies it ‘autobiographical’ or ‘true’ or (shudder, shudder) ‘realistic.’ So then the balance is between experience and invention – there must be a continual transmutation of experience into textures and colours, which I think is what Christopher Nolan means in Inception when Cobb tells Ariadne only to use details, never whole scenes (you can dredge up monsters that way). But isn’t that a bit horrific in itself? It’s certainly tyrannical.
Anyway, I have decided to be a worse person and give large swathes of myself over to this thing that I’m writing. I decided it’s probably worthier of my being conscientious than other stuff in my life right now. I do worry that this is a bit like watching Black Swan and deciding to dress more like Nina (and presumably eat less and have more psychotic episodes), but what the hell. But I mean, it will have almost no effect on you unless you are at my workplace being like wtf why does Mairi do less hours surely ninjas have to eat or if you are in my house going no I will not turn down the fucking TV, I work hard all day and want to relax without being forced to comply with the demands of this demi-vegetarian whose existence in my home is accompanied by the stinky presence of kimchi and camembert in the fridge.
No, more like – I tried to read a book about the sea, but the book about the sea was too right-of-centre, and I gave up. I mean that in the spring I made a project for one of my classes about coastal erosion and time and weaving, but also that last summer (the summer of last year) I read lots of things about the sea and whales. I had a belated charismatic megafauna phase. I made my family go to the whale room at the Natural History Museum.
Aside – GO TO THE WHALE ROOM AT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, it makes you feel like a child.
So then I was hunting for things to read at the library, and I thought I might as well read Sea Change because I see it in every local library, and even though memoir-meditation-history-smattersofscience books by middle-aged white guys are inevitably self-indulgent, they sometimes contain information about the work of C.G.T. Garnier that it would be impossible to find outside of the work of C.G.T. Garnier.
Then very near the beginning, there was a passage about how the sea shaped Us, The British People, and apparently the sea did this partially by being so jolly and super and such a bright wheeze that it ‘kept out undesirables like Napoleon, Hitler and rabies.’ Now, admittedly this wouldn’t be such a problem for me if it didn’t segue into a lengthy passage positing a historical origin for the brace of flood myths (basically, I don’t know – and nor do you, and nor does anyone else), and then suddenly veer into eugenics and oh looky more Hitler.
O Sea, in the future, perhaps you could also keep out Cromwell and Baring and those dicks in Malaya? The current crop of idiots too? Oh gosh, Sea, thanks awfully.
(P.S. YAY, SOON, ECT
Oh, here’s what I meant -
She scrambled into her country clothes – a blue shirt, grey flannel shorts, held up by a boy’s snake-buckle belt, gym shoes, and an ancient scarlet prep-school blazer with a stag’s head on the pocket, that Denys had bequeathed to her.
I think it’s a wonderful book for a young girl to read, on a rainy, rainy day (I guess I’m not, but we’ll ignore, yes?).
I don’t know how to categorise this, but in my world it’s very specific: ghostly evacuee child. I also can’t tell if it’s in poor taste. You have to understand, I guess, that in my neck of the woods we were taught to empathise with evacuees before we even knew what the war was about or anything really – we had to play at being them in classes, and try on gas masks, and listen to grandfathers with whistling breath (not mine; he was of the opinion that anyone too Irish to work in a munitions factory is also too Irish to fight) as they told us stories of powdered egg and Lord Wootton pie and things. This is, I think, a generalised British experience. Perhaps it is the reason that so many people found it hard to understand, until v v recently, with the discovery of a whole room that escaped the cleansing fire of the auto-da-fé (silly me, talking stew with parents, wanted to write pot au feu there), that the British also did very wicked things. And they did them even after they had seen other wicked things done by other people, and then they lied for years about it, and a pensioner from Putney was still lying about it in the letters page of the Guardian every time the subject came up, for years, until he died. Sorry – that got away from me, sort of. It’s been on my mind.
I guess my point is, I’m never going to shake that initial feeling of identifying with those particular kids. I played at being them so often that their memories are mixed up with mine – memories of scratchy woollens, vests in winter, frost on the inside of windows – simultaneously artificial and real. Have you eaten Lord Wootton pie? My dear – degueulasse!
Bonus from private collection – was early adopter:
A certain boyishness – a particular boy. I like the idea of being a raffish smirky naive Communist schoolboy so much that when a tweed Beau Brummel blazer with leather buttons (assuming it was old; certainly was battered) floated down the belt towards me, I jammed myself into it and when I finally eased it off and rubbed the feeling back into my tingling arms and read the 9 YEARS on the label, I did think I was a teeny bit creepy.
It’s OK, I found a similarly cool blazer from a slightly older and larger child.
Did you ever read The Woven Path and the other Wyrd Museum books? That shit was the shit. Haunted teddybear Satan cockroach ftw.
Nothing deep here, am ill (have I mentioned that enough times?). I don’t just watch new Lady Gaga videos looking for stuff to be angry about. I am curious as to what other people get out of her, and I like to read their discussions, so I try to watch with an open mind. Yeah you know me – I think pop music is important.
So just briefly, (various grammatical errors aside):
Not going to bother analysing the song overmuch. On first listen it was just like blah, Shania Twain, Cher impersonation, blah. On second listen – disturbing Robbie Williams overtones. That ‘disturbing’ is probably redundant.
In terms of the video, I found myself liking it. Nothing massively complex there, it just has a mermaid and looks like Yelena Yemchuk’s videos for the Smashing Pumpkins (which, yeah, I enjoy, bite me). But. Could you tell there was going to be a but? After a couple of minutes I started to wonder if it wasn’t a little too like those videos, not even in a plagiaristic way but just. Too much. Everything.
For comparison’s sake (I thought about capping these but yeah no Tiny Tim cough):
Specifically, it really bothers me that the grainy-nostalgia-cam is so indiscriminate; I don’t get why it’s necessary for a shot of Gaga in a harness (harnesses are nice though). It could be my germs talking, but this seems like shorthand for what I dislike about her generally: some affectation is fine, but it must be deliberate and not want grace. Look at the scenes of her with Jo Calderone. Part of the reason the first still images of Jo were so striking is that one could not see her horribly stagey gestures – and once those are visible, it just reminds one of the fact that all her gestures are horribly stagey. Like, not in some queer Butleresque fashion. In some awkward mimesis-spills-over-into-parody-this-is-what-Gaga-sees-when-she-looks-at-YOU (or I) fashion.
Stuart (whose advice was sought specifically because he is a Gaga-sympathiser, though not one of those delightful ‘little monster’ creatures I’ve been hearing about) also did not like her mermaid makeup, finding it over-literal. I thought about it and I get that it’s supposed to be some 1920s tattooed lady circus freak thing, but that does even less for me. It just sort of raises the disturbing possibility that the entire video is Robbie Williams pretending to be Amanda Palmer. That ‘disturbing’ is probably redundant. Bleurgh seriously, the longer I think about this, the more I start to feel that maybe the thought process was like Cher -> Mermaids -> OMG, I should be a mermaid!
Gosh, I do sound ever so negative. Really, what I mean to say is well done, Gaga, you made something that I didn’t hate! as much as your other stuff. You made a Florence and the Machine video. It was bad, but there was nothing overtly racist about it. [line from In The Loop about 'willy banjo'].
I feel like I can’t end this on that sentence, so have an extra sentence.
Themed post – guess the theme (I was going to start bitching about how impossible it was to think of a title but then I was like hey no yeah that will do so).
Bought from work, obsessed with. I’m not really a big accessories person but I’ll wear something if it has a talismanic aspect (and like, this doesn’t actually work and various parts of the mechanism appear to have been removed so its only real value is symbolic fyi. Could try buttering it?). & whilst the horses push it a little too far into twee, they also remind me of my hometown.
(This is the town where I was born. It’s full of tiny people and also has a palace with a secret passage. I’ve always been pleased that the two most important places in my life are similar looking towns with central clocktowers, and it occurs to me now that they might communicate underground just as the King and Nell do)
Bonus: familial wit display
Gran: It’s because of… what’s the word, what’s the sort of government we have now?
Me: In The Night Garden?
I actually haven’t finished this book yet; I know how it ends though. DuBois tells us the ending in a series of prefaces. I found the book in my local Oxfam, where sometimes curious anthropological and sociological texts go to die and I never find out who owned them (shoutout owner of Gender Trouble, which I didn’t score, because some other person I’d like to meet got there first). (This is a big deal to me right now: quiet people in my neighbourhood I’d like to meet, quiet people in my FB friends whom I love all the more deeply).
When I found the book, it looked like this:
It has been in my bag and it doesn’t look that way any more.
So this book is very oldschool. It represents a path that anthropology never took, because out of the obsession with structure there arose a contrapuntal obsession with agency, habitus, the body – and these things stood in for what DuBois here calls personality. Every now and again, these obsessions sound low bass notes that approach her own – approach, I guess (words!). She says things I don’t agree with, sometimes – she assumes a kind of basic level of maternal care that I would never use as the foundation for a really grand edifice. But she’s also surprisingly enlightened. I mean that if you read old E.E.E-P. he does not care about babies, you will not see any pictures like this:
But I am circling my real point here because I wanted to encircle you before I broke it to you: there is a point to all this. All *points* *sweeping gesture* this. A nice medical student got impatient with me at a wedding in May – he had asked so many questions about anthropology and had kept insisting on universals that I was sadly unable to take for granted; and having uncovered my absolute favourite thing, the one about how there is no scale, and no one society is better than another, he blurted out, “Well, it seems sort of pointless to me. I hope you don’t mind my saying that. What is the point exactly?”
I told him the important thing was to go to communities and do what they wanted, to understand them on their own terms, to pitch in and help.
He was most unsatisfied with this response and suggested that we give them the internet first and a proper economic system. For him there was no point unless we could rank people and get them nicely starched and have them at church on Sunday saying how do you do in their most dulcet voices, and in this he was like the first anthropologists. But for me there is no point unless we try to understand. You know, unless most of all, babies, we’ve got to be kind.
But I do also have a taken-for-granted assumption of my own. The idea is basically that everyone – so that’s like, the Nuer and the Azande, denizens of Atimelang killed by Japanese troops because they named your house ‘Her’ Merica, the mid-90s indie scene in Liverpool, girls making microchips in Malaysia, even down to people that I don’t really like (too numerous to name, am spiteful) – probably has some rationale for what they do. I may or may not agree with it. But in general, I probably want to find out what it is.
I’m not good with violence, like I am non-violent to the point of being inert, and I fight with this and this (forgive the melodrama of the reference – I don’t think it’s any more naive than an MLK quote though)
but I’m not about to end this sentence the way you think I am – I mean, I said but, but – but – bear with. But I am getting better at anger, at understanding it, and at expressing my own. For a very long time I was so frightened of it that it was a kind of blind spot for me. Recently I found myself feeling pretty angry, just that I knew there were people like me around, people who believe in understanding even things we don’t condone, and who don’t think rubber bullets and truncheons bought off Amazon and dressing up as Batman and reading/generating rageporn on the internet are actually about peace/rebuilding communities at all. And we were all sitting silently there, because no one wants to create an FB shitstorm that ends friendships. Even the very bravest people were tentative about saying these things, although thankfully they are getting a little braver, and sometimes even writing in newspapers.
So I just wanted to say thank you to all the quiet people. Thanks everyone who thought, shit, this is horrible, I don’t think I can say anything about something so awful (beyond expressing sympathy for the victims) until I’ve at least thought about it and heard some other people’s opinions and rolled them around in my head and tried to see the situation from at least two other points of view. You are awesome, and you are going to rebuild things.
Bibimbap from Bi Bim Bap
Still no goldfish :( Grow sea monkeys instead?
Height of sophistication. Bonus action/Myspace shot:
Clammy car-sushi. Context:
Some of you may remember my earlier eggs Florentine-related hysteria
Pork bun and beer at the Barbican. Not enough pork bun, rather too much beer. To whit:
Followed by more (blurrier) bibimbap at Bi Bim Bap
And (blurry) (coconut) bubble tea from Boba Jam which – can I just share how ridiculously happy I am that they opened? I am DOUBLE RAINBOW happy about this
I don’t know how appetising this is to other people, but this is my new favourite breakfast for hangovers, illness, and general glum days. Miso, gochujang, egg (beaten if you can be bothered)
Monsterpeaches from the box, yoghurt, honey