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

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Back, Back Again

 

Now, I know what you’re going to say. She’s come crawling back to the blogosphere, like a cheating husband to a scorned wife, when he’s run out of clean shirts, and his mistress has dumped him. She’s been absent for nearly a month. This, of course, is all true. I have come crawling back. Again. But, dear reader; my absence has been due to a trip to the USA, and general apathy towards writing.

I’ve been plodding on with a manuscript that is breaking my heart. Whenever I try to write, I end up wanting to bang my head against my desk. My protagonists seem to have taken on lives of their own, completely beyond my control. They’ve turned into irritable toddlers, with ideas completely outside of my own. I was warned of this, but like all major problems, you never really think that they’ll happen to you. Ah, sweet ignorance.

Anyway, I’m back to regular rambling about all kinds of things, all over again. As per usual, I’ve come back with more resolutions to be healthier, write more, work harder, and so on. I think I experience something of a New Year’s epiphany every six weeks or so. As I write this, I’m wondering whether I ought to take up yoga, or if it’d make me more relaxed. Or whether there might be something to become serene, and taking up meditation. Unfortunately though, I lack the patience to meditate. Thinking crates a bit of a distraction. Trying to sleep is turning into something I can only do between six am and eleven am. Nighttime is turning into a dark place, in which I try to name all of the states in the USA, or wonder what it would be like if alligators could fly.

Anyway, I’m sorry about my lengthy absence. I have lots of blogging, and reading to get done. There are awards to reciprocate, and books that I have read recently that I ought to review. That should give me enough material to resolve your insomnia, dear reader.

(:

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It’s A Vogue Life

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Vogue has long been a large part of my life. Since 2008, I’ve had a renewing subscription, and every month I eagerly await the thump on the mat. A grey, matt plastic package with the glossy fashion magazine lands on the doorstep, and I feel content. I usually, at this point, go to eat my dinner, and read my magazine. I keep every single issue, and for a while, I went through a phase of cutting up front covers and all the ad campaigns from the major fashion houses, sticking all the cuttings onto about sixteen feet worth of old wallpaper backing. It took hours, and they all look fabulous, and I will keep them forever.

To a less discerning reader, Vogue could be seen as just a showcase for the rich and famous; a showcase of wealth and high fashion, something that is unavailable to the general public, especially at this point of recession. But to me, it represents a want to do better; I want to wear Gautier and Stella McCartney, and I want to write about all of these sumptuous, fabulous clothes. I would love to be in the fashion business, but I’m not really sure what I’d like to do; I’m not masochistic enough to be a runway model, and I’m not insane enough to design the clothes. But I do think that I’d be able to do some really cool catwalk shows; I’d love to be the person who coordinates everything, you know; the one with the microphone and clipboard. And being this person means you get some cool freebies, and hopefully, Christian Louboutin shoes.

Another element to Vogue is the rather inspiring journalism; there’s a lot of focus on fashion and it’s relationship with current events, however there are always stories about women who have been, or will be inspiring. This represents an empowerment that isn’t a part of the fundamentalist feminist perception. Instead it is about being able to be a woman, and being able to look beautiful, and being able to indulge yourself with things that are almost beyond dreamlike. In the meantime though, the women of the magazine work, start companies, run charities. They all contribute to the world in some way, and that is what makes them incredibly inspiring.

Last month, an initiative was launched across the franchise to tackle the problems of anorexia, eating disorders, and promoting unrealistic expectations of body image. The major Vogue branches across the world have agreed that no model who appears to have an eating disorder will be used, and alongside this, models will not be allowed to work ridiculous hours, and they will be better protected on photo shoots, and castings. This initiative continues the idea of the empowered woman; they will be obligated to treat models better. Many models study whilst they work and use modelling as a financial bumper, and in the future, especially when their modelling careers are over, they fall back on the education they acquired whilst they were modelling to continue along different career paths.

And as I’m sat here writing this, I’m craving my next ‘hit’. It should be falling onto the doormat any day now.

(:

(1) http://www.designscene.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Lana-Del-Rey-Vogue-UK-March-2012-01.jpg

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Prom Pandemonium

Today is my little sister’s prom, and it’s fantastic. She’s absolutely terrified. However, we’re one step closer to being ready; our nails have been done, at two the hair will be done, and then it’ll be make up, and time to get dressed. I’ve been given the job of being a lady in waiting for the day; on hand to do things such as doing up dresses.

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It’s strange to watch because I remember my prom, and it seems like a million years ago. Really, it was three years ago. And the prom that’s taking place today is far more sophisticated, taking place in a hotel instead of the school hall, but on the downside, the food sounds an awful lot worse. I think the decor will be pretty and we’ve had to have a ‘getting out the car’ rehearsal. The music will be lovely and there will be wholesome, school disco dancing.

I think I might be more excited than she is though, because at the moment she’s just paralysed with fear. She can’t button up her shirt because her hands are shaking so much, and she keeps saying she’s not hungry. Her poor date is going to have a meltdown on his hands in the car on the way in. It’s just because she wants it to be perfect, and everything has to go off without a hitch. It’s all in the detail.

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She wants her hair tied up in a loose bun, with curled strands around her head. Her nails are so long that they’re scaring me a little bit. She’s going to look like a little princess, who has just finished school. She’s all grown up, and she’s going to the after party with her friends, and it’s just so exciting. The icing on top of the cake is that the sun has come out, and since she’s going in a convertible Mercedes, that’s something of a benefit.

Listening to all the prom related conversations is something of a bizarre experience, because I’ve spent all day talking about chiffon, acrylic nails, hair styles, cleanser, Clinique foundation, eye shadow, the make up she’d like to wear… and so on. I am girly and I like doing all this girly pampering stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a long conversation about the benefits of a kitten heel. (Personally I’m not a fan; an all or nothing kind of girl, you might say).

Anyway, I have to go and sort out an exfoliation on my little sister’s back now, so that her skin will be shiny and fresh for tonight… I’ll let you know how it goes!

(:

(1) http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/hamsterman/hamsterman1105/hamsterman110500142/9567877-composition-with-makeup-brushes-and-broken-multicolor-eye-shadows.jpg

(2) http://www.carreviews2012.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/mercedes-clk-coupe-300×225.jpg

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Beautiful Blogger Award!

I’m popular these days, it would seem! A wonderful bloggette has nominated me for my third award on this blog, and i’m just so excited about it! I think you guys out there spoil me with all the love and attention. And so, as is par for the course with these things, there are rules to be followed.

The Rules

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog.

2. Answer these 10 questions, below, for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy. Or you pick the number.
4. Pay the love forward: Provide your nominee’s link in your post and comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been included and invited to participate.
5. Pay the love back with gratitude and a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you.
The Questions: 
1. What is your favorite colour?
Red
2. What is your favorite animal?
Lion
3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?
Ginger Ale
4. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?
Twitter
5. What is your favorite pattern?
6. Do you prefer giving or getting presents?
Giving. Mostly. I’m only human. (;
7. What is your favorite number?
3
8. What is your favorite day of the week?
Friday
9. What is your favorite flower?
Tulip
10. What’s your passion?
Literature. Writing. Reading. Travel. Never make me choose!
My Nominees
1. www.thesecretsofanineteenyearoldstudent.wordpress.com – This lady’s writing is daring, adventurous, and rather brave, go have a look around!
2. www.mysexlifewithlola.com– I realise I’ve nominated H.H’s blog before, however I think that because the blog award is a ‘beautiful’ one, Lola and H.H deserve to be nominated again!
3. http://storyofalice.wordpress.com/– The same as above really. The layout of her blog, as well as her style of writing, is just fantastic!
4. http://becomingmadame.wordpress.com/– Is there such a beautiful place as Paris?
5. http://howtodateboys.wordpress.com/ – A completely hilarious account of a single woman in the 21st century.
6. http://snippetsandglimpses.wordpress.com/– A very, very brave account of life with a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges. A beautiful blogger because she is very, very brave.
Thank you so much for the award guys, and thank you for reading this rather mundane post! You’re all just the very best.
(:
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Mixtape

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I’m going to put this out there, because it was incredible. I honestly cannot believe how lucky I am. Yesterday, I was at work, and I was fairly fed up. My cold was annoying me, and my shift had been dragging on for far too long. But then, I met Voldemort. Yes. Lord Voldemort. Or Ralph Fiennes really. So anyway, I run back into the kitchen, kind of hopping and bouncing around a bit. And after I finished doing that, I went home and watched Harry Potter films all night. It was amazingly cool. And, having just read back that paragraph, I realise that I sound a tiny bit as though I don’t get out enough, but there we go. I thought it was awesome.

On a completely unrelated note, I’m starting to get very excited about my impending trip to Washington D.C. I’m especially excited about going to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I like looking at all the mechanics and engineering behind space travel, and space exploration, and the shuttle, Discovery is living at the museum for the moment. I’m going to go and see that! I particularly like looking at  the scale of these things. They make me feel like a very tiny blip in the world, when you compare yourself to the machinery that means we can actually walk on the moon!

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There’s a cupcake shop in Washington, called Georgetown Cupcakes, that my little sister is just desperate to go and visit. She really can’t wait, because she watches their television series. She’s also an excellent baker, and makes the most adorable and delicious cupcakes. I’m a very big fan of her red velvet ones; they’re somehow creamy and moist all at once. Her face lights up whenever I mention cupcakes. It’s so lovely. And because she finishes school, ready to go to college this week, I bought her two brand new cupcake books, so she’s got something to do over the summer. She’s fifteen, and will be until the end of August, which means that by law, she can’t work this summer, even if she wanted to. I think she should just start a business plan for opening a bakery, and I could help her do the promotions.

At this point, I must bid this post farewell, because I have to go to work soon, and I have some ironing to do. The joys of work, but maybe Voldemort will still be there…

(:

(1) http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/images/content/107094main_discovery-launch.jpg

(2) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/cupcakes.jpg?w=300

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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.

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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

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Lolly Willowes, Sylvia Townsend Warner

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As I have mentioned before, I got my second year reading list a few weeks ago. And so, with due resignation, I signed on to Amazon, and ordered nearly forty novels, that comprises the entirety of the second year of university. My novels arrived and I was rather pleasantly surprised to find Lolly Willowes on my reading list. Unlike many of the novels for the upcoming year, it is rather short, and in comparatively simple prose. It isn’t overtly dense with meaning, because superficially it seems as though it is just a story about a sheltered woman, living in a tiny village, who becomes a witch.

However, I was asleep one night, and I ended up dreaming about the novel, imagining Lolly as a witch. The novel explores not just the parameters of the family unit, but also looks into ideas about marriage and the stigma of spinsterhood. Spinsterhood remains stigmatised even today, whoever was a much more obvious issue at the time of writing, 1926. The novel also discusses the idea of feminism in a rather oblique fashion. By empowering Lolly to go out into the world, alone, Sylvia Townsend Warner created a novel that supported Woolf’s rather more explicit literature, that also empowered women to go out into the world. The novel is significant in its own right, because of the subliminal message of strength it puts across. However it transcends into a network of early twentieth century literature, becoming a part of a literary network that also included Woolf, Mansfield, and other great female modernist writers.

The novel is not a modernist text in terms of linguistic style. It is written in the form of the Victorian novel, following a traditional structure in terms of time constraints, and character construction. This can be related to the fact that the novel itself is set in the patriarchal society of Victorian England. Lolly’s life, up until her move to Great Mop, is controlled by her brother, who represents the height of patriarchal control within England. Lolly is often considered as being passed around, almost as a package of no consequence. By moving along, and reclaiming herself, she becomes a woman in her own right, outside the control of her brother.

Conversely however, Lolly does fall under the influence of another male persona; Satan himself, disguised as a friend. By her assumption of his control over her, something that is never quite clarified for the reader, we see a necessity of patriarchy that structures all of Lolly’s actions. Whilst she is free, and has come under the influence of Satan somewhat willingly, there is still an echo of patriarchal society underpinning her world view.

The power dynamic that exists between Lolly and Satan is extremely interesting, because he is a kind of optional and yet inevitable patriarchal influence. There is a degree of resignation throughout the last couple of chapters in the novel, resigning Lolly to Satan’s eternal influence. To this extent, we can question the feminist tone that flows throughout the novel, and the extent to which it is effective.

If anything however, Lolly Willowes is very entertaining!

(:

(1) http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/covers/2012/3/12/1331563702226/Lolly-Willowes-Virago-Modern.jpg

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On The Canvas

The subject of piercings is often a contentious one, especially when raised between parents and children. The same sort of thing goes for tattoos. Parents as a rule do not tend to agree with offspring putting holes in their eyebrows, lips, nipples, and so forth. I have managed to work my way around this by saying that I won’t ever get any tattoos, or facial piercings. Piercings below the neck are accepted with a degree of derision, repulsion and disapproval, however on the whole, tend to pass without being commented upon.

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In a professional sense, I think they ought not be on show to your boss. There are boundaries, however I think that as long as they’re covered, anyone ought to be allowed to alter their body in any way they might want to. It’s an artistic licensing issue. We all have one beautiful canvas given to us at birth, and by the age of eighteen, we are granted the ability to put whatever we so wish on and through our skin. It’s kind of beautiful, if you think about it. Anyone can look as they want to. Nobody has any real right to change the way you look, except you.

I like the idea of being an individual. It depends on you, I think. Everything is beautiful, as long as it’s yours, your idea.

(:

(1) http://www.amazingtattoo.info/data/media/11/tattoo_model_search.jpg

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Sarah Alice Goes Back To (relative) Normality

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There’s been great excitement in  my life recently, because of a new laptop, and a brand new reading list, for my second year at university. The relief I felt to know I was allowed to return was immense; I’d all but convinced myself that I was destined for smaller things, and would have to move back in with my parents for eternity. And it’s nice to go home of course, but a lifetime is a very, very long time to still be driving your mum’s car, and eating your mum’s dinners.

The reading list for next year is fantastic; much more modern, with far less emphasis on the intricacies of mythology. I’m extremely excited about these modules, mainly because they are the reason I applied for the course in the first place. The modules of first year were an introductory gallop through the history of literature and theory; the second year looks at literature from the eighteenth century to the present day, which is a time period I feel much more comfortable with. I suppose that a literature course has to consider all the facets of literature, from its ancient beginnings. But personally, I shall be happy enough moving on from the ancient world, into the Victorian world, and then the post-modern world.

So, first year is finished, and has been passed. This is something I find reassuring, as though it wasn’t all wasted, as if I’ve done something truly productive this year. I have moved out of my flat, and subsequently, into my new flat. And I think my writer’s block is finally starting to lift, which is something again, that I find reassuring. It’s been weeks, and despite venturing outside, and trying to find things to write about, I just couldn’t think of anything worth saying about very much at all. Work has been a little bit hectic too, which is yet another reason why I’ve had absolutely nothing to say; waitressing doesn’t tend to inspire any ideas, except rants against irritating guests.

The end of the tunnel is being revealed to me however; my new laptop literally sparkles with CPU processing power, and my sleepy brain is starting to be creative and shiny again. Myself and the gym have reawakened a slightly abandoned friendship, which is producing a chemical influx, which is in turn making my brain work again. Examinations called a rather abrupt halt to my ability to write about anything but how stressed I was. And now there’s other things to do; like plan for my trip to Washington, and explore my fundraising ideas for Kenya, next summer. It’s all looking shiny and happy, like an intellectual Disneyland, as it were.

So now I’ve bored you all to death, telling you about the reawakening of my brain, and I promise that tomorrow I’ll write something vaguely interesting. Promise!

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/normal.jpg?w=235

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