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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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 Predicament of Routine

I’ve ever so slightly fallen in love with Microsoft Office Outlook, something I’ve never been able to use properly before. The calendar function is excellent; you can colour code every element of your life, scheduling yourself in until your heart’s content. The search for a job however is prevailing; I am simply desperate for a job at university, if only to find myself some structure within this abyss of living in toy town; university day structures just don’t suit me. Arising at two in the afternoon and eating supernoodles on a regular basis is now a banned practice: I will not arise any later than eight in the morning on any given weekday. On Sundays however, I’m allowed a concession: nine am, but only if I’ve been out late the night before. The general “feeling” and routine of university life makes me feel unproductive, and I can’t stand feeling so completely swamped in apathy, so I have to try to get up and out and get things done during daylight hours, to the best of my ability. And unfortunately for students everywhere, alcohol does not make a person any more mentally efficient.

The Microsoft Outlook Icon: A Symbol of Hope For the Fundamentally Disorganised... (1)

You see, all I can think about at the moment is changing things about myself; starting an exercise routine, a better skin routine, a new part-time job. I feel as though I need a complete change, in order to see a complete physical change. Having begun changing my routine in mid-December, I’m already starting to feel the benefits of a regular sleeping and waking pattern, and the lack of junk food and excess alcohol makes a huge difference: I feel far less sluggish, and I have a plethora of energy I didn’t know existed. I’ve gone so far as to start looking at spinning classes and gym membership, and purchased cropped leggings for the purpose of attending the classes. Once the money has been spent, I feel too guilty not to make the most of the service I have paid for.

On a general point then, I’m hoping that this endless amount of energy will fuel not only the functional elements I’d like to change; hopefully it’ll move to me maintaining my blog a little better, and writing a little more, and forming ideas for novels, pictures, and plays. At this point however I digress, into the land of the optimistic, romantic artist. I like to inhabit this beautiful land, because it’s full of hyper enhanced colours and diamonds in the sky. It’s far nicer up there.

And so in this vein, I venture to share another of my works with you;  again, I’d love to hear what everybody thinks of this poem. Since it is loosely related to the theme of writing, and seeking publication in general, it would be interesting to hear what people in a similar predicament think of a poem that could potentially relate to them personally. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Letter to Talent

There was never a chance this would work. Well,
Competition, was inevitable.
There is a large, empty space, on the floor.
Scorch marks, by the fire. My carbon footprint.
The empty bottles, clink. Shame, floods my face.

The letters, the postcards. The newspaper.
Inky reminiscent. They smoulder, underfoot.
Smoke from our forefather. He founded the
Words, and songs; the poems, the plays, to us.
Dedicated literature, burning.
Scorch marks into the hardwood flooring.

Memorandum arrived, all from London.
Messages; Dear Sir; Dear Madam; Truly.
Bundles of new paper, new ideas, all
Etched into fresh, shiny ink. Sketched our words.
Seeking approval, we bid for our place.
A place in time, a magazine. A book.
A place, somewhere, anywhere to belong.

To exist, in the world of creative
Integrity, is a paradox;
Constantly, overshadowed, by bigger,
More powerful talent than your own being.
Carcinogens curl around your pale throat.
Inhaling: Have you found the mystique of
Post modernism, existing beyond
Your own suffering body? Searching for
A reason to stop stamping envelopes…

…The posting out of the charred paper: What’s left?
What is left of soul? You would (screw) everyone.
If everyone was asphyxiated
In your soulful, poetic arms,
Their charred bones. Mind.

*
(But for this agony, of attempts and failure,
Whatever is truly owed to us,
Whatever will become of us.)

-Sarah Alice

(1) http://www.medlineschool.com/Portals/12654/images/outlook.gif

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