Definitely within the Madding Crowd

Warner bros / tumblr

God, Thomas Hardy is like magic. So innocuously placed, these phrases paint a landscape of subtlety and delight. Loving my current fling–Madding Crowd and all. 

The hill was covered on its northern side by an ancient and decaying plantation of beeches, whose upper verge formed a line over the crest fringing its arched curve against the sky, like a mane. To-night, these trees sheltered the southern slope from the keenest blasts, which smote the wood and floundered through it with a sound as of grumbling, or gushed over its crowning boughs in a weakened moan. The dry leaves in the ditch simmered and boiled in the same breezes, a tongue of air occasionally ferreting out a few, and sending them spinning across the grass. A group or two of the latest in date among this dead multitude had remained on the twigs which bore them till this very mid-winder time, and in falling rattled against the trunks with smart taps.

Between this half-wooded, half-naked hill and the vague still horizon its summit indistinctly commanded was a mysterious sheet of fathomless shade–the sounds only from which suggested that what it concealed bore some humble resemblance to features here. The thin grasses, more ore less coating the hill, were touched by the wind in breezes of differing powers, and almost differing natures–one rubbing the blades heavily, another raking them piercingly, another brushing them like a soft broom. The instinctive act of human-kind here was to stand, and listen, and learn how the trees on the right and the trees on the left wailed or chanted to each other in the regular antiphonies of a cathedral choir; how hedges and other shapes to leeward then caught the note, lowering it to the tenderest sob; and how the hurrying gust then plunged into the south to be heard no more.

Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (Toronto: Penguin Classics, 2013), 8-9.

Absolutely beautiful. It reminds me of when I go for a walk, by myself or with my dog, and I just stare into the distance. The way I notice the trees that line the variegated sun-setting sky. All you can do is breathe in the magic. Hardy’s lines are such beautiful examples of being a crafter of words and the subtle experience of existence. It feels like breathing. It feels like fresh air. It gives life. 

A Vogon on Poetry

Touchstone / Spyglass / GIPHY / Douglas Adams

‘No, well you’re completely wrong,’ he said, ‘I just write poetry to throw my mean callous heartless exterior into sharp relief.’ —Prostetnic vogon jeltz

**spoilers for those very unaware of Douglas Adams’s and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy**

Later to come, I will attempt to recreate some Vogon poetry for the fun of it…this may appear in a few blips of a light year given the busy nature of the Holiday season. I wanted to include Jeltz’s line here because I felt like this should be the motto of today’s poet. There is much to be said and many words with which to say them, but should we expect people to find our underlying humanity in the matrices of language? I doubt people really do look for the human below, and perhaps that is too human-centric. This brings me to Douglas Adams’s amazing text, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. After the intensely bureaucratic destruction of Earth to make way for Hyperspace travel, there are only two ape-descendents remaining, Arthur and ‘Trillian’. As Arthur muses, England, Nelson’s Column, Trafalgar Square, and, most importantly McDonalds are all only ideas in his head. Their existence, their veracity, and their tangibility have left the realm of physical existence to metaphysical recollection and supposition. A memory to be forgotten or improperly recreated. 

Yet, when Arthur begins to Panic, a verb the wise Guide advises the wary, drunk, or happy traveller against, Ford tries to engage Arthur in an exercise in empathy with the Vogon guard, who is about to send them into outer space—something Arthur only eventually able to do:

‘There you are, Arthur,’ said Ford with the air of somone reaching the conclusion of his argument, ‘you think you’ve got problems.’

Arthur Rather thoughT he had. Apart from the unpleasant business with his home planet the vogon guard had half-throttled him already and he didn’t like the sound of being thrown into space very much.

‘Try and understand his problem,’ insisted Ford. ‘Here he is, poor lad, his entire life’s work is stamping around throwing people off spaceships…’

After much prodding from Ford, Arthur realizes existence beyond himself and beyond the truth of his world’s existence and, therefore, his own. But at this moment, he is about to be ejected into nothingness.

Indeed, in a previous scene, when Arthur prattles on about humanity, VOGANITY!, we are reminded, he mindlessly recreated a stream of pseudo-intellectual mumbo-jumbo. And, although Jeltz is cast as a character-type who belongs to an uncivilized race, he intuitively sees through these empty platitudes. He offers a statement of interpretation to both Ford and Arthur, who are attempting to save their own lives. Just as they accept, he calls their bluff. He says no, I don’t secretly want to be loved. I don’t want people to have to wade through my words to discover I need to be loved.  Heartlessness and crudity is my truth, but poetry, as a concept, signifies an opposing truth to you. Thus, although the text claims that poetry was inculcated in Vogon society as a way to display cultivation and culture, Jeltz mumbles his own indecipherable poetry in congruous language that emphasizes the cacophony and harshness of his own character:

‘o freddled gruntbuggly….thy micturations are to me / as plurdled gaggleblotchiTs on a lurgid bee.’

Indeed, it is Ford and Arthur who respond to Jelt’z poetry with onomatopoeic signifiers of their distress, rather than real words: ‘Aaaaaaaarrrrrrghhh’ and ‘Nnnnnnnnyyyyyuuuuurrrggghhh’

So, I’ll leave this brief and inconclusive because I want to continue to chew this over in my mind. Hopefully, more to come. In the meantime…

<< DON’T PANIC >>

Current Fling

american-gods

Hear ye, Hear ye! I am, indeed, reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I wanted to save some initial reviews for when I have finished this tome, but I’d like to add some preliminary remarks here. 

This novel reminds me of flicking through television stations only to notice that the same actor appears in almost all of the stations. Which somehow, miraculously, or perhaps the late hour, allows you to thread together a plot line without an end game. I do not note this as a failure of the novel, quite the contrary. It is quite a feat to organize so many different ideas and origins into one seemingly round-about story line. I find myself trusting the author to deliver something that keeps me hooked, and every so often that appears. From Lucille Ball references to random Russians, Gaiman intrigues. Of course, I am still waiting for that strong finale. 

As of right now, I’d say the novel is sitting at about 3 missed meals out of five. It is, yes, well-written and entertaining, but I am not certain it is amongst the best things I’ve read. I do appreciate the text, and I look forward to reading it to its conclusion. 

Dear American Gods, a rather long fling only because your page count is rather high. More than a bed-and-breakfast trip away from it all—more like a sketching trip gone awry and we’re still sorting through the broken heels. 

– fin.

Totally Remiss

Source: Tumblr

I have been totally remiss with my plan to read about five books this month and also provide book reviews. Whilst I would like to blame the fact that I’ve just moved, I have to admit, I just find it difficult to read at home. I just moved home. I’ve always been a coffee shop reader, or I would read on my couch in my various flats. But, at home, I don’t quite know where my space is. I am also amid a million job applications–yay, millennials. Additionally, I’ve been super caught up in all of the local politics around me. My own city’s mayoral and councillor elections, as well as my, much more important, neighbouring city’s elections. Clearly, the results are in, and we’ll just have to wait it out–see what happens. Yet, this feels like lazy citizenship. I am an ardent advocate for a more meaningful take on art and culture in my city. I fear we are all, to easily, driven by commercial transactions that perpetuate marginalization of particular members of our community. If we have a greater space for art and creative expression, we will witness the emergence of unique voices. This is how a city should operate–particularly, a democratic one. 

Alright, now that that is out of the way, I will discuss what I have been reading. I am slowly moving through a history text and Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. It is quite an easy read, but I’ve just been so slow at getting through it. It is so strange for me because I am used to pumping out two theoretical texts a day, but I haven’t found a groove. Hm. I’ll get there; I’m sure. There is so much I want to read, and I feel my curiosity burgeon at the crisp pages that adorn my shelves. If I could, I would dive into those pages without fear of a sand-storm of paper cuts. I am so much a café reader, though. Hah, I am not a homebody. But my city isn’t much of an artsy/culture-niche/café scene. Commercial institutions reign supreme. Haha, the acrid taste of truth hails like cynicism of old. 

As I am still in this weird transition, I will not make further promises to keep to a reading schedule. I find that I am more inclined to write these days. It is a driving force. The power of expression is vast, and to find oneself in a position to be able to express—it is a golden paradise. An offering from the gods of new. Millennials. Haha. Nectar flows into the mouths of the thirsty, and, in turn, they paint the world with meaning and fearless abandon. A contradictory state of being that reminds us of our fragility, without succumbing to decay. Abjection–but abjection is the immediate fear and disgust we transpose onto absolutes only to see them unravel–the fears, the disgust, and the absolute. Thus, abjection pricks us as a negative force, but reveals itself to be a life-force. Perhaps, this is my current relationship to reading. This epiphany may tire my fingers as they run through the pages. That’s what we’ll go with. 

All the best, my loves. Humbly yours. 

Word Play

READING TIMES!

Why haven’t I read this yet?

"I remember the ceilings of every bathtub I've stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colours and the damp spots and the light fixtures. ... I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath."

“I remember the ceilings of every bathtub I’ve stretched out in. I remember the texture of the ceilings and the cracks and the colours and the damp spots and the light fixtures. … I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath.”

 

As I wrap up my dissertation, I am consumed with all the literature ever. I will post a review about this and, soon, post my first ever video-review. There are some pretty cool things I want to explore with this book, and I look forward to hearing what you guys think and have to say.

 

Xx

 

Happy Monday, All.

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Found: Used Copies of Barnaby Rudge and Our Mutual Friend

Found: Used Copies of Barnaby Rudge and Our Mutual Friend

Barnaby Rudge, Ladies and Gentlemen

 

APPARENTLY!! HE HAS A PET RAVEN!  

And so it begins!

According to the blurb on the back:
“The cheerful, cosy domesticity of the Maypole Inn; the uneasy relationship of dull-witted, tyrannical John Willet and elegant, cold-hearted John Chester and their sons; the sinister activities of the apprentices plotting to overthrow their masters: all these plunge the reader in the opening chapters into the tense atmosphere of England just before the Gordon Riots.  When the storm breaks and Lord George Gordon embarks on his crazed ride into London, the action explodes into violence and mayhem.  In his handling of the three riot leaders, one of them Barnaby Rudge (mentally blighted  [what does that even mean] by a crime committed at his birth), and in his depiction of an infuriated mob storming through the streets of London to burn down Newgate prison, Dickens is at his most brilliant and terrifying.”

I’ve marked off 100p segments which are my weekly reading goals.  Accordingly, it should take me about 6-7 weeks; we will see with the ebb and flow of research and writing I have to do.

Additionally, I’ve decided to do 100p themed reviews and *fun* historical summaries.  We’ll see what I can come up with between now and page 143.

Bye my sweeties.
K

p.s this is what Goodreads has to say about the matter https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2009610.Barnaby_Rudge