Fifty Shades of Frustration

I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to hear the end of this Fifty Shades of Grey business, I will have to just read it. Bite the bullet; rip off the plaster. That kind of thing. Some of our fellow bloggers have condemned the latest literary craze, for being critically appalling, overusing colloquialisms, and following a theme that borders on the sexually deranged. So today I went to the supermarket and bought it.

And God help us, there’s two more…(1)

It’s sat upstairs in my bedroom like a ticking time-bomb. It’s staring up at me, on my bed. And I can’t quite bring myself to open the first page. I did randomly open the novel, to read only two words. “Holy crap.” This sentence, I must say, has not filled me with much hope. Neither has the description of ‘Mommy porn’. And neither has the theme of domination and submission. Sex scenes are rarely well written, and I have to hope that the critics have been wildly inaccurate about E.L James’s multi-million dollar novel.

That’s another problem, in itself. The fact that the novel was made for a multi-million dollar industry. Novelists in the nineteenth century never really concerned themselves with making millions through literature; they wrote in magazine supplements and were published in installments. There was no such thing as a one-hit wonder. If the first installment was unsuccessful then they wouldn’t be commissioned again. E.L. James wrote to shock, supposedly. But she didn’t write for love. This was almost certainly a case of love over money.

If anything, that’s what kind of offends me about modern novelists. There are two categories, really. The ‘people-pleasers’, and the people who write because they have something real and important to say. People do not tend to read the classics. They read purely for pleasure as opposed to education, and there is nothing wrong than that. It’s just that they’re missing out. And whilst I’m pleased that Mrs. James need never work again, I have a feeling that I’m going to be rather disappointed in her.

But time will tell; I’ll let you know how the project goes.

(:

(1) http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02251/shades-of-grey_2251523b.jpg

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On the Publishing Industry

As far as the publishing industry goes, I know very little about it. I know that I would like to be involved in it. And I know that it is incredibly difficult to get into the big publishing companies, purely because they’re just so competitive. The problem is less about your own aptitude for something, as opposed to finding a position that will allow you to pursue the career of your choice. Because in the corporate world, your dreams are just the same as another applicant, and you both want everything in the position.

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The problem is acquiring experience and having enough initiative to search for the highly competitive internships that do exist out there. I think being aware of them is part of the challenge, and then finding out where to go from there is naturally difficult, but not completely impossible. I personally felt better about the whole prospect of searching for a job after attending some employability events, and realising that networking as opposed to simply qualifications, is the way forwards.

However, a note on talent; I feel that everyone has one, and it just takes longer to come out in some people. It’s always there, and I do honestly believe, even though I am known for being a tad cynical, that everyone has something. It’s hard to compete with people who have a huge amount of talent, all the time, but I think that’s just a part of the world we inhabit today. Once upon a time, people found a career and worked in it until they retired, however today, we’ll all have a number of different careers, and we’ll be wanting to move on, and upwards in the world, until we retire. There’s more of a hunger to be rich and famous today than there ever was; we all want to be something, or someone, or at the very least, we want to be rich and famous.

I don’t really know how I will go about being somebody, however I think my business which has started well, and I hope it continues to go well, will help with this. It’s not always easy, phoning and emailing everyone you know to tell them about it, but eventually you have to be accepted somewhere; it’s a law of averages. Eventually, someone has to say “Yes!”. Eventually however, is not a specified time frame, and everyone I’ve spoken to says that perseverance is key. Networking is also key. Talking and communication is key. It’s almost comparable to the Deathly Hallows, really; the three ingredients to worldwide domination.

So there we are. I love the idea of belonging to this industry, no matter which bit of it. I’d like to be involved in PR, and maybe even consultancy, but it’s so difficult to really define what it is I’d like to do. Which is natural, and it’s why people of my generation tend to have a multitude of careers, and areas of expertise. The agony of choice; that’s what’s made our lives both more delightful, and more difficult, all at the same time.

(:

(1) http://www.consumercareinc.com/grey_business_group.jpg

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Onwards, Upwards, and Backwards

The problem is time, and loneliness. They go hand in hand; they always have. People do not form meaningful relationships overnight; a classic example of course, is the one night stand. However people also do not form relationships over any short period; there are fleeting friendships, holiday romances, work colleagues. They all form your perceptions of the world around you, and impact you in different ways, however they are rarely long-term friends, or even very good friends, because after all, we impact one another without ever really realizing that we have.

(1) It's nice, to be together. Ask Winnie the Pooh.

I always feel slightly deceived by the cliques that exist in high schools across the world, and the misconceptions that surround universities and colleges, after high school. Nothing really changes, and friends are not magically made. You do have to go out and find them, and hope that whilst you’re away, your old friends don’t move too far away from you. This is one of the worst parts of university; a complete upheaval of everything, including your friends, who are essentially the people you grew up with. It’s hard to be away from the people who know you better than anyone; suddenly you have to start making first impressions all over again, being presentable. You cannot be yourself in its full, unmitigated glory, because people can’t always handle that.

It’s challenging then, to go back to a time where people don’t know you, and have no history with you. They really don’t know you from Adam, and therefore, why would they bother with you if you didn’t come across well? This is a valid point, and one that I think is rather valuable to remember; people don’t owe you anything, ever. You call in favours, you must have history and friendship; the world is build on the latter. It’s a warm fuzzy idea, however sometimes it’s just plain alienating, because the new world is a billion miles away from where it used to be, and nothing is ever quite the same, after that. Including going home.

It’s inevitable that some life changing things will happen, and that some progress will be made. How much or how little is dependent on one’s willingness to change and evolve, and sometimes people have to go forwards in order to appreciate what they used to have. People move on. It’s one of the worst and best things about university, and I think it’s natural to think that. People are the same across the world; even if we were all still together, things would still be moving along. This tends to happen; as horrible as it is during high school, its way worse in reality.

But inevitably, we also find new people. And these people are just as amazing as the old people. They’re our people too. Real friends never tend to move too far away; they always come back given a phone call, or two.

(:

(1) https://sarahalicewaterhouse.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/best_friends255b1255d.jpg?w=300

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On Coming Home

A very short note, to prove to all of you that I haven’t abandoned the blogging-sphere. I haven’t, really, I’ve just taken a small blogging hiatus, whilst I’m on a holiday of sorts, with one of my best friends. Anyway, the holiday is drawing to a very rapid close, and this time tomorrow, I will have skipped merrily across the country, back to my own house, and my own bed. I’m very excited.

I think my love of coming home stems from the fact that when I was younger, I couldn’t wait to move out; I thought it would be the best thing ever; you know the drill. Unlimited freedom, the power to go wherever I wanted, with whomever I wanted to. The part I managed to leave out of my perfect little fantasy, was that with unlimited freedom, comes unlimited responsibility. Money, bills, rent, and so on. All those things that just sort of weren’t there when you were fourteen, and designing grand houses that you would move into, as soon as you escaped from home. I realised however, this was the most preposterous thing I’ve ever done in my life. Ever.

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Anyway, the point is, that in twenty-four hours, I’ll be back at home with my parents and little sister, and all my teddy bears. I’m nineteen in a week, and I still cannot wait to go home, put on my onesie (they look ridiculous, but it’s like being in a bag of blanket), and cuddle up with my Mum. Whenever I tell people this, they either think it’s lovely, or that I’m somehow pathetic, and not independent; I think the two concepts are not the same. Loving home, and being independent, are not the same thing. There’s a distinction to be made, and I always feel as though people should realise the difference, and appreciate things they have, whilst they have them.

So to conclude: the rucksack is packed, the train tickets are ready to go. A spot of washing, and the making of packed lunch, and we’ll land back in the homeland before you know what’s hit you. Guess who’s back?

(1) http://www.twincitieshomeforeclosures.com/images/home/quotes/HFquote10.gif

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The Day I Was Seduced By John Donne

The other day, I received books from home that I’d forgotten about; in particular, John Donne’s collection of selected poems. I studied the man for A Level, and whilst at the time, I resented him somewhat, because he reminded me of a long and stressful examination that was coming up, I realised today, that I had rather missed his company.

John Donne represents an age in poetry before anxiety, and before modernity began to swallow up literature as a whole. The poems are to some extent, simple representations of a world of love and sex, and of faith. John Donne’s poetry is divided into two distinct categories: the secular, and the divine; the latter was written in the later part of his life, during his time as a protestant minister. The former was written during Donne’s youth, when the man was an excellent example of Elizabethan sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

My favourite poems tend to be the secular ones; they are playful, and imaginative, and continually toy with boundaries that no longer exist to the modern world. However in the Elizabethan period, these boundaries formed the basis of social propriety, and to Donne in the earlier part of his life, were something to be rejected, in favour of sensuality. An example of the seductive poetry is “Elegy: To His Mistress Going to Bed”. Donne states:

“To teach thee, I am naked first; why then,/What need’st thou have more covering than a man?”

John Donne in portrait (1)

If there was ever such a thing as the Elizabethan striptease, then this was it; the poem describes his mistress getting ready for bed, and undressing completely. As the above quotation states, Donne explicitly alludes to the pleasures of sensuality, and of female company. The poem is playful, and most certainly defied the education he received as a child, growing up as a devout Catholic. Donne however abandoned Catholicism in favour of Protestantism in the early seventeenth century, and was ordained as an Anglican minister in 1615.

Donne became much more contemplative after the death of his wife, Anne More, during childbirth, in 1617. The responsibilities of fatherhood to no less than twelve children, and his bereavement, led him to write poems rooted in mortality, and feelings towards God himself. Many of his later poems also focus on redemption, especially for the sins of his youth. In Holy Sonnet XIV, Donne declares:

“But I am betrothed unto Your enemy;/Divorce me, untie me, or break that know again, Take me to You, imprison me, for I,/Except You enthrall me, never shall be free,/Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.” 

This rather striking quotation represents the shift in Donne’s perception of himself; his desire to be forgiven for his sins extends to wanting divinity to take full possession of him. The sexuality and passion that dominates his earlier poetry is matched in later work; the passion however is no longer directed towards pursuing carnal fulfillment, and instead, moves towards divine fulfillment. The passion with which Donne writes is in my opinion at least, unmatched by other poets of the period.

Undeniably, Donne was passionate; a poet who used linguistic devices to portray a passion that was by no means reserved for the page; it was a passion that dominated his adult life, and goes on to make his poetry very special. The move against formulaic expressions of romance captured my impressionable literary heart; he was a rebel, just as Oscar Wilde was, three hundred years later. There is nothing more seductive in literature as an author with no respect for boundaries.

(:

(1) http://paganpressbooks.com/jpl/DONNE25.JPG

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The Road Less Travelled

Last night, I sat down, and decided to read my novel for next week; the novel in question being Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The novel focuses on a destroyed America; a world in which commercial values and commodities have been completely destroyed, and the only living people left are either ‘the good guys’ or ‘the bad guys’. The two groups are defined; society has been reduced, in the wake of this destruction, to being composed of binary opposites; good and bad, dead or alive, starving or not.

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The world of binary opposites is something proposed in Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics. Binary opposites exist to define the world in relation to what it is not; something that is essential in McCarthy’s The Road. The child is a haunting reminder of the innocence of childhood, and the ways in which it can be affected by the nature vs. nurture environment, and is a striking example of how environment is paramount to the development of a person.

The way in which America, or the developed world is portrayed here takes us back to an almost prehistoric sense of existence. The scavenging and hiding that occurs is almost animalistic, and the country seems to reduce its inhabitants to little more than dogs, in the ways in which they try to survive. Hiding, and seeking refuge, is a part of human nature, or of the fight or flight response. This is not however limited to humans alone; animals often confront their attackers in the same way as the man in the novel, who shoots the person holding his little boy hostage.

The division between being a human and being an animal is made by way of the fact that the man remembers his wife, and the birth of his child; his ultimate role in the novel is to keep the boy safe, to protect him from harm. The harm that befalls him is primarily psychological, and represents how parents, with all the love in the world, cannot always protect their children from the world outside; this idea is not just limited to burned out pieces of America, or a world in which law has been removed; it is present throughout real life too, and the novel highlights rather acutely, how experiences befall people and how they cannot always be protected from these experiences.

The issue of paternal love then, is very prevalent throughout the novel; there is nothing the father won’t do for the child, and rather disturbingly, he has had to teach the child how to use the pistol, a symbol that runs through the novel, to commit suicide in an emergency. Self destruction is constantly debated through the novel, and the man himself often meditates on the benefits of suicide; his goal is to reach the coast, however the reasoning behind it isn’t made particularly clear; what lies ahead of them seems to be endless foraging, scavenging, seeking survival; however in such a desolate landscape, the reader simply wants to ask, “but why?”.

This term as far as novels go, has been far more rewarding than the last. I’m a huge fan of postmodern literature, and the development of modern literature often grabs my attention to a much greater extent than classical literature. The novel itself is terrifying and extremely sad; it makes a person question how they would survive under such a hostile environment. I recommend reading it, if you have an evening devoid of entertainment, especially because it’s thought-provoking, and asks questions that focus very much around the environmental crisis, and the nature of human survival in the wake of an apocalypse.

(:

(1) http://thewordofward.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/theroad.jpg

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Oh, What It Would Have Been…

The best news arrived on my twitter feed today: the Titanic movie, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, is being relaunched in April. In 3D. I read this wonderful nugget of information and then starting jumping up and down, because I love that film. Honestly. I get completely caught up in the sentimentality and the opulence, and start wondering whether I would have done well in the aristocracy, being Rose. I very much doubt it however; I don’t like corsets, and am rather comfortable in track suit bottoms, and the dress code would probably prove beyond my tolerance. I think I just quite like the idea of being involved in such a romantic situation.

It wasn’t really romantic, of course, because it didn’t happen in real life. However for one hundred and ninety-four minutes, it seems very realistic. The special effects are remarkable; the ship seems completely real, and even to the most critical film buff, it has some value. It even contains a degree of educational value; the unsinkable Molly Brown was indeed aboard the RMS Titanic, and the crew as stated in the film were largely a part of the create tragedy. I love true stories; and whilst Jack and Rose didn’t really exist, the ship did, and I imagine there were some interesting affairs and entanglements aboard.

So, to belong to the aristocracy; it’d certainly be wonderful to experience if even for a day, because we’d all love to be the elite; not to simply examine them, and watch them like vultures, but to be them: to be the people who are the most talked about in history. I think some of the facets of this world would be luxurious beyond any kind of modern comprehension; for example, dressing in magnificent gowns for dinner, or sailing first class across the world. Being painted, being given extraordinarily extravagant gifts, dancing. That would be fantastic. But, I think only for a week.

As a student of course, I also indulge in the above; I go dancing regularly, and I have a fantastic dressing gown that I often sport in the kitchen whilst I’m making my tea. I also receive extravagant gifts, for example, a huge bar of Dairy Milk, or a nice bottle of wine. But somehow, I think the chasm between the old world of decadence is rather far removed from the one I experience, or in fact the one that any modern person can experience. The old world, although highly romanticized, was wonderfully decadent; it was almost a bottomless pit of beauty and luxury. So much so that it was unsustainable perhaps, and of course it had its flaws; it was horrendously political, and expectations preceded personalities. But undeniably, it would have been a wonderful playground to explore for a month or so.

(:

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Plato’s Symposium

Attending a philosophy reading group serves to make you feel simultaneously more intelligent, and one hundred times more ignorant than one ever considers possible; it shows you that there are relatively few people in the world who truly get to experience philosophy, however that you are no better than anyone else in that the concept of it is baffling.

The Genius of Plato (1)

Plato’s Symposium is influential in a number of ways; primarily, it tries to define the nature of love, and declares that the highest and most developed form of love is the love of knowledge, and prioritising a love of knowledge over a love of physical engagement with another. Plato in this text also attempts to conceptualize love; love as a part of everything to music, to medicine and of people.

Gender issues are also raised in this influential text; the highest form of love, Plato suggests is that between men; women are given relatively little significance, performing only a reproductive function when engaging with a man. Feminists here would stomp their feet; especially when the issue of the creation of humanity is discussed.

According to this diatribe of ideas of love, the woman was created when God split his creation into two, causing a person to search for their other ‘half’ for the rest of their life. However, this makes some of us distinctly uncomfortable, when one considers that without a ‘great’ love, or a soul mate, we are not complete, or whole. This suggests a lack within ourselves, that we will attempt to fill; however raises more questions than it answers.

– What is the soul?

– Do people ‘lack’ something within themselves which means they have to find others to build off, and grow with?

– Are we truly only halves of ourselves, and so do we need to search for the missing piece of ourselves?

– Can we be truly happy without our other ‘half’?

– Is it possible that human nature will cause a person to be so ambitious that their perceived ‘lack’ can never be truly filled, and thus can a person become so overfilled with other ‘pieces’ of people that they simply cannot be themselves or exist in their own rights?

So honestly, I am not in support of Plato’s Symposium; whilst I like the narrative style, almost as a story of a conversation as opposed to a simple theory presented in essay format, which leads the reader to the point gently, with all of the information driving the assumption, I believe the essay conceptualizes love to the point where it becomes intellectually removed from the emotional feeling; every person experiences love differently, and no relationship between two people will ever be the same as another. I think this may be because I’m a romantic at heart; I have loved, and I will continue to do so, and I will never fall prey to the intellectualism of a feeling; emotion, emphatically, cannot be rationally understood.

I did enjoy the discussion however; Professor Kate Hext has some wonderful ideas about philosophy, and I can’t wait for next week, when we get to argue over the merits of Aristotle’s Poetics over vodka lemonades and crisps.

(:

1. http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/plato/schath.jpg

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