The Ramblings of the Excited 2nd Year

 

So, in light of my rather terrible installation troubles, i.e. no internet for the foreseeable future, posts will be even more limited than they are at the moment. Of course, I will do my best to abuse the uni WiFi, and will squeeze as many insightful and interesting thoughts out of my head as I feel I can. A new term of new books and new lecturers will surely provide me with ample material for posts. I started this blog as an outlet for this material, and so it will be nice to return to the original stuff, even though I’m sure you find my culinary updates just terribly exciting.

Now, I can’t sit still. That’s the main problem. Because I’m just so very excited. Sitting in the car tomorrow for the six-hour drive will just about push my patience to the limit I think, because I’m already itching to unpack everything, clean cupboards, and get really, really organised. I’ve even roped my little sister into staying with me for the first night; she’s really good at cleaning things and so I guessed she’d be a useful pair of hands for the evening. I will have to concern myself with trying to cram tonnes of clothes into my wardrobe, and negotiating homes for my ever-expanding shoe collection.

It’s the waiting that I hate the most about moving from place to place. I love the excitement of finding somewhere new to live, and I like having a clean slate; you can make it look as lovely as you’d want to, and I have a fantastic collection of fairy lights that somehow make any given room far more inviting than a simple ceiling light. I have shelves, and I couldn’t have asked for a better house. I even have a garden with a greenhouse; not that I’ve ever gardened, but I like to entertain a fantasy that I could.

I’ve also managed to create a collection of comfortable and yet attractive clothing this summer, thus dispelling the need for baggy track suit bottoms around the house. Instead, I’m going to head down the ‘jegging’ route, and whilst I hate the word, and used to despise the idea, I’ve come to realise that they are in fact quite comfortable, but look marginally more presentable than tracksuits. I also spent a vast amount of money on an original Rolling Stones tour sweater, but I’ve decided it was just completely, and utterly worth it.

Anyway, I have to try to sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be long and exhausting. So for now, I’ll leave you to stare at the screen in a nonplussed sort of way, trying to work out what I spent the last four hundred words talking about. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back, but I’ll do my best to make it soon!

(:

©

 

Advertisements

Three Days Left!

It’s finally happened. I’ve packed up, ready to return to college for the start of another semester. I’ve been taking preliminary notes, and packing boxes of fairy lights and duvet covers up. It took nearly seven hours to sort all my clothes and bedding into vacuum bags. It took even longer to establish how many pairs of shoes I ought to take with me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that by the time comes to pack the car, there will be a conversation related to “How many bl***** pairs of shoes do you need? You’ve only got two s******* feet!”. But that is all a part of the joy of moving down.

It’s really weird, because I’ve just got used to living at home again. I got used to being told what to do again, and so now I’m going to go back and be a little bit confused, because I won’t have anyone who can tell me what to do. Freedom hits a person like a brick in the face. You know it’s there because it’s just kind of, well, scary. But I’m sure it’ll only take about ten hours to establish myself independently again. Probably even less. I managed to nearly amputate my foot earlier, by standing on a pair of nail scissors. I’m amazed people actually let me venture into the world, alone and unsupervised.

I’m actually going to have a few days completely alone in my new house. I have to be back, to help out with some student-y type things, and I have errands to run, and jobs to interview for. But this means I’m back a little early, so I’m going to end up having a few days to collect myself, and join gyms, and run, and volunteer for things. I’m doing that thing, where I plan to be a whole, rounded individual, and I really do want to stick to it this time. Because of my dalliances in the kitchen, I’m half convinced I’m kind of like an Italian mother, who’ll cook vast amounts of food for whoever feels brave enough to eat it. Our own perceptions of ourselves are quite interesting, I always think.

So, I have three days left here. There are hair appointments to attend, and last-minute washing to do. I’m going to spend some time with my family, and generally being at home. And then before I even realise it’s happened, I’m gonna be at a Pirate Party, wearing a ridiculous stripe t-shirt, and an eye-patch, with a cardboard parrot on my shoulder.

(:

©

Slutty Spaghetti, and Other Stories

(1)

Ack. That’s the only word to use to describe the last few days. Work has been terribly, terribly busy, and even this, my half day off, is turning out to be something of a tricky one. But anyway. I’ve made some serious progress on the domestic goddess front. For instance, I have learnt that there is in fact a right and wrong way to cook pasta, and rice. There ought to be a cup of rice to two cups of water when cooking. And on Wednesday I’m planning on making muffins or cookies, and something nice from the Nigella Lawson Kitchen book. It’s turning into a necessary part of the day. I think my Mum is enjoying all the cooking.

I rather want to make white chocolate and raspberry muffins. The trouble is, I haven’t got a recipe that doesn’t make me want to cry. If anyone has any recipes that are tried and tested, I’d be most appreciative!

Something else I tried last week; Slutty Spaghetti, or Spaghetti Puttanesca. I think the Slutty Spaghetti nickname has more of a ring to it than the latter, but there we go. The sauce was perfect, and the bitterness of the capers seemed to counteract the building heat of the chilli flakes. It wasn’t that difficult to make either, although the smell of fresh garlic is rather pervasive, and lasts for days afterwards. I think that might just be a kind of homely smell; the smell of home cooking, and not using powdered garlic. In culinary terms, it seems that garlic powder is akin to devil worship.

Because I have a house now, I will be able to put little plant pots on the window sill, or on the patio (it’s really odd, knowing you have your own patio, complete with furniture), and grow little fresh herbs. I draw the line at growing vegetables (I don’t like mud, and gardening, and I like having clean fingernails), but I like the idea of growing herbs.

I think I might try cooking some kind of chicken dish this week, or fish. Rick Stein has some excellent fish recipes, and I might see if I can make a decent jambalaya. I think my family would quite enjoy that, and I think my housemates will enjoy it, too. Y’know, as long as I don’t set fire to a griddle pan, or make the microwave explode. Whilst these things sound a little far-fetched to the normal, adult person, it’s all entirely possible if I happen to set food in the kitchen. This is because my clumsiness knows no bounds; just yesterday, I was carrying hot food at work, and my napkin slipped, and as I caught the dish, I touched a pan that had just come from under a red-hot grill. I seared my thumb, and I have a little blister for my trouble.

There’s little news from the literary sphere from me, at the moment, because I’ve been caught up in the wonders of domesticity, and learning things about cooking, and lifestyle. So that’s what might be cropping up more often on here; perhaps there’s a food blogger in me yet!

(:

(1) http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_KznaiPtvdRw/TMW_KSx14gI/AAAAAAAAAMs/ZOHD_OrJeG4/s1600/Kitchen+Nigella+Lawson.jpg

©

 

White Noise Is Rather Tough To Take…

 

White Noise by Don DeLillo was a novel I was expecting to dislike. For some reason, the front cover was repelling me, and I thought it was going to something similar to a postmodern ghost story. I was right, to a certain extent, because Don DeLillo does write a prelude to a ghost story. He maps the mentality of death, and an abject fear of what is to come, and what comes afterwards. His protagonists, Jack Gladney, and his wife, Babette, represent a kind of paralysis of mentality; their fear of death overrides their sense of everything else.

This, I think, can be considered both an advantage and a disadvantage. A disadvantage, because they live, believing that they can and will be dead at any moment; their marriage is overshadowed by a fear of the other dying, and so their petty rows, and Babette’s ‘arrangement’ with Mr Gray is insignificant, in comparison to her fear of losing the physical and emotional entity that is Jack. Therefore in many ways, the sanctity of marriage and union itself is questioned.

The cover that so unnerved me… (1)

Their sense of death however is an advantage because it allows them to explore the parameters of marriage in terms of a whole existence. Instead of a focus on small events, the couple manage to look at everything as a whole. The ‘airborne toxic event’ is not an individual disaster, and instead, the protagonist seems to focus on the impact it has on his entire life; the fact that it is shortened by this unknown threat. In some ways then, the fear of death provides a mechanism so that both protagonists can stay united by the unresolved fear.

The novel places a very heavy emphasis on the importance of technology to modern-day life. Throughout the text, phrases such as “the radio said” are used. This reminds the reader of George Orwell’s 1984, because there is an outside force that influences the character’s movement. The instantaneous information that is available through the television and radio influences the fear of death that Jack and Babette experience; unreliable information seems to only emphasize the unreliable nature of life, and the unpredictability of death. The relative power of the medical industry is also highlighted by Jack’s “brackets and stars” status. His doctor represents an omen, and therefore towards the end of the novel, Jack refuses to visit him, to find out more details of his impending death. This refusal shows a monumental step in his life, because he refuses to indulge the fear itself.

By far my favourite scene however, is when Jack shoots Mr. Gray, the man who has allegedly created the drug that removes a person’s fear of death. The shooting can be seen as an irony, because Mr. Gray represents being fearless. Therefore by causing him serious injury and plotting to kill him, he metaphorically attacks the idea of being unafraid of death. Gunshot wounds are an unnatural way to die, in the same way that it is unnatural to be unafraid of one’s own passing.

The novel itself is an interesting comment on 1980s society, especially because of the novelty value of technology at the time. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I should.

(:

(1) http://theasylum.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/whitenoise.jpg?w=470

©

 

Falling In Love: The Writer’s Life

Now, writing a novel has always been a dream of mine. In fact, it’s on my bucket list. I have a plan. And a very detailed character list. And a blow-by-blow plan of every twist and every element in the novel. There is nothing in the novel that isn’t in the plan, and I have begun, this summer to write the chapters. Y’know, the fundamental basis of the novel; the text. And I find it something that it is very hard to do part-time.

(1)

I’m working at the moment, however when I’m not working, at three o’clock in the morning for instance, I find myself perusing the ten thousand words I’ve already written, scratching my head, and wondering how I can improve the novel, the characters, and the flow of the novel. It’s a job I’ve always dreamed of having. Writing, is the only job I can really imagine doing; and thus this very blog, which is almost a year old now, was born.

I can imagine myself, in five years or so, in a house which has an office stuffed full of books, a comfortable desk chair, and my laptop. I could contentedly work there, for ten hours or so a day, writing down all the stuff my rather expansive imagination comes up with. I would blog, at the same time, and perhaps write commissioned pieces, editorials, and do some editing work too. I could travel; laptops are rather portable, as are ideas. Travel produces ideas, and creates different perspectives. One of my biggest ambitions is to spend six months or so, travelling around South America, and writing about it. Combining two of my favourite pastimes, it would be one of the best years of my entire life.

But anyway, I’m working on the novel. It’s gonna be interesting, and has a historical aspect that I like, because I am intensely interested in both of the World Wars, and the impact it had on families and their dynamics. I hope it’ll be something I look back on in a few years, and call it my first good thing; my first successful venture into the world of publishing. I hope that comes true, and I can imagine spending all my free time writing, because that’s all I’ve ever really wanted to be, or do.

There are some problems, with the writer’s life though; the first is that you have no externally imposed structure, and so you have to be well-disciplined, and able to commit yourself to work, even when there are a variety of distractions around you. The second is writer’s block. I’ve had a few weeks recently, where there was nothing I could say. I couldn’t write anything worth a dime. But then I caught a cold, and spent a week at home, watching old episodes of Friends, and all of a sudden, I remembered why I wanted to be an author. And when my new laptop came, and I did the thing, you know, where you sort out all the old files on your computer,I found the drafts and plans I made for a novel, about a year ago. And with nothing else to do with my time, I decided to start writing it again.

And frankly, it’s been the best four days of the summer, so far. Despite the raging cold, and an ability to talk like Darth Vader.

(:

(1) http://cjwriter.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/fountain_pen.jpg?w=600

©

Last Day In Halls Today!

You can really only live like this for a short amount of time… (1)

So it’s finally arrived. My last ever day in university halls. It’s been an experience and a half. However I think it’s about time that we moved onwards and upwards, into a real live house. A house with a dishwasher, no less. It’s one of those things that don’t appear to be terribly important, however living without one for a year really increases your appreciation of such a magical, practical object.

It’s a little bit strange though, to think I’m moving out of my flat. I mean, I can’t wait. I’m just so excited. The last couple of days have been just, well, perfect, despite the looming presence of my last exam. However, the sun’s been shining, and the weather has been warm, and so the desire to go to the beach simply outweighed any desire to stay at home, reading books. Helpfully, my last exam is my favourite module, and so I think it’s all going to be just lovely.

It’s been strange because its only in the last two or three days that I’ve finally fallen in love with where I am. The climate is lovely (except during the winter), and it’s just beautifully quaint, and fantastic. I haven’t fallen in love with it, all year. In fact, I’ve been wondering if I went to the right place for university; did I make the right decision? Ironically, I only decided that I have, about three days ago. But now first year is over, with the exception of one two-hour exam, and then I’m up, and out, back home, and before I know it, It’ll be moving into a brand new, wonderful, and lovely house. I cannot believe how lucky I feel today.

I’ve finished packing now, up to and including doing all my washing, and cardboard wrapping my external laptop monitor. It’s a very odd feeling to know I’m not ever coming back to this flat again, after tomorrow morning. It’s a feeling of almost being displaced. Because that’s what this whole year has felt like; the moving back and forth has been something of a struggle to me, in places. I think it’s been a learning curve too. The most important element however, has been to never, ever, try to pack more than you can lift onto a train. That is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learnt this year. Packing light is really the only way to travel, if you’re a cheap skate student, and get the cheapest train tickets, and subsequently have to get four different trains. No one wants to be shifting heavy suitcases up and down train staircases. Nobody.

Anyway, I have to go to the beach again now. It’s just too beautiful to stay indoors, as much as I do love the blogosphere.

(:

(1) http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Education/Pix/pictures/2012/4/16/1334574443353/Filthy-student-kitchen–008.jpg

©

Supporting Photographers!

Yesterday, my lovely flatmate, Sam, updated his blog with all of the work he’s put into his first year of BA Hons Press and Editorial Photography. His work is fantastic, and I’ve never seen anyone so committed to a particular course. It’s remarkable how myself and other flatmates moan around exam time about the complexities of our course, and Sam just gets on with making workbooks, and hanging out in the dark room. He put an awful lot of effort into work this year, even securing freelance work for companies such as Student Surf Tour.

So, please have a look at his blog, its brilliant!

http://samuelshrimpton.blogspot.co.uk/

(:

©

To Read Or Not To Read; That Is the Question

I’ve often wondered about literary opinion, and how literary opinion differs between people. Everyone understands the world in a different way to somebody else, and so naturally, they will understand literature differently too. Literature, and one’s attitude and understanding towards it, depends on experiences. Experiences of education, literature, whether you enjoyed your lessons when you were in primary school, whether you have a natural love of reading. These are all key factors in understanding what literature is, and whether you enjoy it, or despise it.

I know people who have yet to finish an entire book, and I suspect there are people who go their whole lives barely reading books and magazines. This is of course, a life choice. Whether you want to read or not is entirely up to you; education demands a certain amount of reading. If you choose a literature, or essay based degree, you’ll find reading to be nonnegotiable. Arts courses tend to be much more vocational, and this choice depends very much on the style of learning one is accustomed to.

Philosophy of the Mind (1)

It’s difficult to know how you’ll feel about different kinds of literature, until you experience it. For example, I don’t like all kinds of literature. I really dislike mythical Greek and Roman texts, as well as finding James Joyce’s Ulysses utterly intolerable. Some regard it as an example of the greatest literary creation of all time. I think it is a grammatical abomination, and something that is so complicated that it begins to lose its point, because it’s completely inaccessible. Conversely however, I thoroughly enjoy T.S Eliot, who is well-known for regarding literature as an elite pursuit and past time.

Philosophy is something else that is considered highbrow, and rarely brought down to an accessible level. It is complicated because it involves thinking about the makings of the universe, and theorizing on that most illusive of characters, knowledge. However it’s less complex than some think; it’s a matter of having a good teacher and a simple reader, to introduce someone to the rudimentary elements of philosophy. There’s no need to over-complicate things, and dive straight into analysis on Plato’s dialogues.

I consider literature to be one of my greatest loves, and I consider almost everything to be literature. I think that the well-written blog can be considered literature of all sorts; some blogs can be understood as literotica, some can be understood as beautiful prose. New writing is the writing that will one day be considered classic, and will belong to the modern cannon, and so I think it’s important to look at new literature, read magazines, of all kinds; fashion, photography, literary; they’re all part of a modern culture that will, like all cultures before it, be revered by future generations.

It’s all about enjoyment, you see. Culture is formulated through the things that people enjoy; a city with a strong opera programme tends to become linked to the opera as a pursuit and therefore becomes a cultural construct. To this end, we create our own culture. I’d like to think we do, at least.

(:

(1) http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/workshops/_files/Philosophy-of-Mind-Workshop.jpg

©

Good Afternoon, Dr. Freud

Now, I’ve always been something of a sceptic when it comes to psychoanalysis. I don’t really buy into brain-dwellers, and I think that ferreting around in the subconscious is sometimes like digging around a landmine; sometimes, things are buried for a reason. However, our American cousins seem to have a lot of faith in the practice, and since I have to revise the subject anyway, I thought I’d embrace it and see what all the fuss is about.

Freudian psychoanalysis is a method of literary interpretation that places heavy emphasis on the nature of the mind, and how the unconscious influences of the super-ego, ego and id affect the way we conduct our literary and everyday lives. Freud wrote a number of important essays on various topics of literary interpretation. These include his thoughts on narcissism, the short comings of the pleasure principle, the issues surrounding proposed infantile sexuality, and the importance of dream analysis.

A Formidable Man… (1)

Psychoanalysis as a discipline focusses on the talking cure as a way of establishing and tackling the root behind one’s neuroses. This approach can be applied to literature in so far as one searches for one’s neuroses hidden behind imagery that can be found in a text. Freud suggests that everything we do is the result of impulses and therefore to look for these impulses can be conducive to providing a literary analysis of the subject.

All of Freud’s literature is based around the concept of the unconscious, which is deemed as having three levels. The first is the super-ego, which represents the expectations of society and is widely considered as being the voice of morality. The ego represents desires, and attempts to mediate between the id and the superego, whilst the id represents the base human instincts; it is something that is inaccessible.

Freud’s theory of dreams tends to relate back to the content of the id, and the process of establishing the dream-work is perhaps the most important in terms of psychoanalysis. Latent content is the fundamental basis of analysis, made all the more obscure by way of the fact that it is hidden deep inside the content of the dream.

Condensation is the Freudian understanding that one object in a dream represents a number of complex ideas, therefore the content of the dream is deceptively small. Alongside condensation is the concept of displacement, where the dream object’s emotional significance is separated from it’s real object or content and attached to an entirely different one, in order to not arouse the suspicions of the dreamer. Dreams are never simple and represent a huge amount of latent content.

The pleasure principle is something that is always sublimated to something else; the human psyche is more complex than simply the pursuit of pleasure. Other pursuits, such as repeating a certain action, are repeated in order to fulfil the unfulfilled wish. The converse principle, or the reality principle, counters the pleasure principle, when people choose to defer fulfilling a certain desire on the basis that circumstantial reality is opposed to this desire. Society therefore intervenes, creating the reality principle. Freud defines maturity as an ability to tolerate continual deferred pleasure, in favour of conforming with social expectations and understanding. Therefore the ego has become reasonable, and obeys the reality principle in favour of understanding only the pleasure principle. The reality principle does also seek to fulfil desires; however it does so whilst taking into account the problems of circumstantial reality.

This concludes my elementary understanding of Freudian theory, and also proved a very useful revision task.

Thank you for reading!

(:

(1) http://specularimage.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/freud12.jpg?w=640

©

A Friendly Face In A Doctor’s Surgery Is As Rare As A Cuddly Great White Shark

I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been recently trampled by a pack of wild dogs, whilst being forced to ingest razors. My head was pounding, and my throat was on fire. And I sighed, and resigned myself to the usual amount of pre-exam viral infection, and went about trying to do all those things that make you feel better. One of the worst things about living alone when you are ill however is that there’s no one to look after you, and make cups of tea. And this means that really, if I’d like tea, well, I’ll have to scrape myself off my mattress, and go and make some.

I often fantasize about having a robot precisely for this sort of thing. Doing stuff you can’t quite manage to do yourself, or indeed cannot be bothered to do yourself. I wish I had a robot who could book appointments to the doctors. I promised my mum that I’d go tomorrow, if I wasn’t feeling any better, which isn’t a problem in itself, however in order to actually get an appointment, you have to phone as soon as the radio beeps at eight in the morning, and then you spend some time doing battle with the elderly people and the babies, trying to get a slot that isn’t at an entirely preposterous time of day, like ten past eight, or six twenty.

A Standard Day At the Surgery… (1)

Doing battle with the irritable receptionist is also an exercise in patience; I’m not even offered a ‘good morning’ anymore, but instead I’m barked a time, usually something ridiculously inconvenient, at the precise time that the heavens open and I have to walk there in the rain.

Students, unfortunately, alongside middle-aged adults, are at the bottom of the healthcare food chain; we’re too old to be considered children, and our immune systems are reaching their peak. The elderly always seem to fill up the waiting room, and yet seem perfectly healthy whilst they chat to their friends at high volume, because none of them have their hearing aids switched on. When my friends and I are in attendance, we’re usually bleeding, coughing, or expelling some kind of bodily fluid. One could say that we at least have the decency to look as though we need medical attention.

So now I’m definitely feeling as though exam season is approaching. I’ll probably miraculously recover about twenty minutes after the end of my last exam, but up until then the only exciting thing I shall be doing is taking regular paracetamol, and taking in lots of fluids. I shall probably spend too much time watching Sex and the City and revising from my bed, with a book. I like the circulatory nature of university life; we begin the year with Fresher’s Flu, and end it with something I like to refer to as “exam fever”. Living together is like a breeding ground for viral infection, especially if you’re frequenting the nightclubs and bars on a regular basis too. It’s days like today when I start to think Sheldon Cooper is on to something about avoiding people and infection…

I must dash anyhow. I need to slump and make some more tea. (Or text my flatmate to see if she’ll do it…)

(:

(1) http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/jdi/lowres/jdin31l.jpg

©