Alice, you’re doing it wrong!–

The Red Queen

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Alice is always told that her ways are incorrect. She is doing something wrong. She tries to reason through what she is, authoritatively, being told; and sometimes she comes to her own conclusions and other times she is lost. I presume, that is how we make our way through life. We are told what is right or wrong, and we hold that information up to what we have learned or what we feel we know. Sometimes, our convictions are so strong that we refuse to hear any other truth–like the Red Queen, who wants everyone’s head off. Like the White Queen, who believes that the Mad Hatter should be locked up for what crimes he might commit; this, she claims, will teach him not to do the thing he might have done. Alice tests her own logic, but she, ultimately, gives into the bent the rules of un-reality.

Alice regards it as nonsense to lock the Hatter away for a crime he has not committed; ethnically it is not right. In the eyes of the law, one is innocent until proven guilty. Thus, one may not be locked away before a crime or evidence of the crime has been, undeniably, proven. [In an ideal world, but, I will briefly say, human error &c.,] Our society is based upon civil liberties (as much of a pipe dream that it is). But if more circumstances are added that show the person, who is locked away, is very likely to commit a crime, are we right in locking them away?  It is not lawfully right to lock someone up for something they might do. We believe that people have free will, and can chose to make the *right* choice. At least, we hope that they will. It seems unsatisfactory when there are lives at stake, or when our personal safety is in jeopardy. It is an ethical question over which the law and lawmakers will always puzzle. The simple answer is no, but, in life, there are no simple answers–are there? To lock someone away for something they might do is akin to dictatorship. Perhaps, Lewis Carroll offers us a bleak interpretation of monarchy and absolute rule of the monarch (and, by extension, in our own times, dictatorial rule). Although Alice opines that it is wrong, she does not alter the rule of authority in the stories. In fact, in order to regain her own autonomy–for she has little to none in Wonderland–she must wake up. She describes her experiences in Wonderland like a dreamworld, where we all have experienced the submission to plot and action. (I exclude lucid dreams).

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Alice’s lack of autonomy raises yet another implication to the reader–are we submissive to our dreams and/or our superiors (in class/caste)? or, do we have autonomy in a dream state and/or towards our superiors? Is it possible to reclaim authority by waking, and then telling our story as we remember it? Changing events? Writing out history? In Derrida’s Archive Fever, he says memory always forgets–this is why we have archives. But the very archives themselves point out the fallibility of memory.  “Consequence: right on that which permits and conditions archivization,” he says “we will never find anything other than that which exposes to destruction, and in truth menaces with destruction, introducing, a priori, forgetfulness and the achiviolothic into the heart of the monument…The archive always works, and a priori, against itself.” (12) Derrida is explaining to his audience that the urge to record, to inscribe, to mark out a story or truth of our past always points to the destruction of that past. We record, because we forget. Indeed, Derrida cleverly plays with the classical notion of knowledge as being a priori, or that what comes before; the claim that we know by innate knowledge and not learned experience. In Plato’s Dialogues, he records the lessons of Socrates; in particular, the lesson of a priori knowledge of the soul. Socrates claims that knowledge is not something that one apprehends mortally but something that one remembers from a past life of the immortal soul. In the example of Meno’s slave, where Socrates nudges the slave to recollect past knowledge, or a priori, knowledge is something to remember. Derrida turns this on its head; the archive always seeks to destroy a priori knowledge. Derrida explains, the archive or information resource highlights to our forgetfulness, our need to collect to recollect. Our monuments, historical and cultural, inscribe historical events upon our landscape, lest we forget.

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Derrida explains, the archive or information resource highlights our forgetfulness, our need to collect to recollect.

Let us now return to the question of authority and story-telling. Derrida links the archive to psychoanalysis and Freud, largely, because his lecture was given at the Freud museum in London, which had been in a political battle with the Freud Museum in Vienna over which museum is the authoritative Freud resource. And, most importantly. WHO HAD FREUD’S CHAIR? It was like the Where’s Wally of Freud’s toosh. Where did that bum rest itself?

All silliness aside, this is a very real question. Who gets to claim to be the authoritative resource for a subject matter? In the dreamworld of Wonderland, where is the seat of authority? In understanding dreams, Freud would claim that our dreams reveal our desires and repressions, long hidden from our conscious minds. In this way, our waking mind seeks to control our desires, which manifest when we sleep or through slips in daily life. (This, of course, would be a suitable analogy for the idea of Victorians as repressed. Of course, there were repressions–Queen V was scandalized by her sons and their sexual liaisons. But this was also the age where serious studies into sex and sexual behaviour were beginning. As I mentioned in my Introductory post on Oliver Twist, historical periods are wrought with contrariety. It is our job, as readers, to make sure we don’t lean too far either way in our hermeneutics.) Indeed, Alice becomes a Queen in Looking-Glass, but her authority is always undermined, the reality of Wonderland changes itself so that Alice is always listening to characters who authoritatively inscribe their realness or legitimacy. The characters she meets are real and have their own rules and laws to which they ascribe. What makes these characters unbelievablly credible is their commitment to reason against our logic. The White Queen, when she offers Alice employment, says she will have jam every other day. Alice may have jam yesterday and tomorrow, but she cannot have jam today, never today but every other day. There is a strange logic in the nonsensical. To indulge in Wonderland, we willfully abandon the logic we have learned for the illogic we experience.

Alright, so we’ve reached the point in our discussion that leaves us alone with our existential crises. I think this is what is so brilliant about Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Adulthood is fraught with ethics, laws, and coded behaviour. Wonderland represents this foggy space where Alice can ask big questions and be confronted by them, too. She rarely has the answer, and I think, if we were able to remember our childhood, a lot of the time, we did not have adult answers when we first encountered new ideas. (This is where and when shame tends to work its darkness.) We learnt coded behaviours from our own encounters with figures of authority. Indeed, Alice and Wonderland seems to be a successful archive of the befuddled state of childhood and childishness. Is Wonderland, then, an archive of childhood that is premised on the idea that we will, largely, forget what it is to be a child?

Perhaps, the reluctance to enter Wonderland carefree, by the older reader, is the reluctance to admit the fallibility of memory. Children enter, laughing at the play. Adults enter trying to solve the puzzle. One should enter Wonderland without the drive to untangle all of its riddles and puzzles and accept play as our motive—for do we really need to know why a raven is like a writing desk? But, you’ll say, Alice offers us so much to think about! We must not deny ourselves this. Of course not, I’ll respond, because the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe——for, if anything. Carroll teaches us how to revisit childhood, at any age.

***

I am going to be reading G.K Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill now. I’ll continue working on my Oliver serialization. It is my aim to have a new Oliver post up every Friday. This week, it might be a bit late because of my dog. She had quite a rough night, Sunday night, and Monday was a bit draining (for me). Tuesday, she will be groomed, for her hair is becoming a tad long.

Here is an excerpt from The Napoleon of Notting Hill. It seems like an absolute treasure; with the slight (& unfortunate) casual gender essentialism, as you do. I hope you’ll join me! What are you reading?! Let me know in the comments.


Heaps of love,
Word Play Xx

Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever, A Freudian Impression, trans., Eric Prenowitz (London: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

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On Privacy and Narrative.

unnamed-6The act of reading is an intimate act. You sit alone in your flat. You become alone in a crowded space, as your mind submerges into the text. You hear the author’s words resonate from the silent paper as waves of sound pulsate through your body. At the perfect harmony, you are shattered. Reading allows for a personal intimacy, an intimacy with the text, and an intimacy with the character. Whether or not the narrator is reliable pressures our ability to trust our access to characters’ private lives. Part of us may let go, most of us may cling to the edges of the newly bound or ruggedly aged book in our hands. In my own experience, there is always a sense of wanting privacy and self-freedom, whilst also wanting someone to, omnipotently, understand our own narratives. We don’t want to have to explain ourselves. We want an empathetic audience to our lives, but on some level, wouldn’t that just be insufferable? I’ve been thinking, today, about the need for privacy and space whilst reading Oliver Twist. Of course, many narratives do not give the mundane reality of a person’s day. For instance, not once has Oliver had a wee. Am I the only one that this bothers? (haha, please don’t run away with the idea that I think about this and this alone). But such mundane acts are the building blocks of life. A narrative takes the reader through the character’s movements–as much as we can see, as much as is pertinent to the narrator and/or author’s articulations. Reading can seem especially invasive if we are reading a memoir or a memoir-styled fiction. It seems quite perplexing, in a humuorous sort of way, that to escape this world and slip into a quiet sanctuary, that we, unnoticed by the cast, emerge into other peoples’ lives. Of course, I am also going to claim that, although some might argue the observer effect is null-and-void in this context, it is at the forefront of our engagement with the text, story, film, or television show. We always bring our own biases and knowledges to a book. We each have our own particular strengths. I, for instance, can recall quotations from theoretical texts, but I find it much harder to recall lines from literature. I am incredibly envious of people who can memorise these quotations. I’ll have to work on it, I suppose. Back to my point, we always bring our own state of mind (at the time), our own set of knowledges, our own abilities and lack of ability to empathise, and our own interpretations to what we are viewing or beholden. Our observer effect does not effect the ink’s immutability upon the page, but it is key to our understanding of what we read. We cannot change what happens upon a screen, but how we engage with it is our own observer effect. This may be dubious in other areas of life, ‘research’, or writings, but our nature to engage with things on nuanced and varied measures is precisely the (abstract) beauty of reading. Thus, in our own small ways, as we escape into these worlds, you can align or malign with a particular character. The books become about us, inasmuch as they are about other things. Perhaps, that is why in cases of extreme emotion–it is difficult to lose yourself in a book. But, I’ll always remind myself. The lustful craving for privacy and lack of intimacy is willfully and beautifully undone by the power of narrative, character development, and/even the deconstruction of narrative itself. Those silly post-modernists; shucks.

***

Additionally, I am setting myself a goal of Five Books in March. I’m trying to whiz through Oliver, but so far, I’ve been a little slow with it. My own narrative continues to drown out Oliver’s. But, if anyone is intimidated by Dickens, do read this book. Dickens has such a beautiful way of phrasing things. tumblr_nkpcm0aFEe1sb2oz2o1_1280 Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? I’ve read P&P, and if I don’t get to it this month, I might save it for early spring (Canadian weather). To me, it is a spring novel. Maybe, I can bring it forth sooner through literature? Also, I picked up my copy of Northanger Abbey today and was gently perusing it. This might also contribute to my slow pace with Oliver. Woopsiedaisy. I hope you’ll read along with me and/or let me know what you think about these books or a book you’re reading. Be the courageous ones I know you all to be. I wish you peace and happiness.

Heaps of Love,
Word Play Xx

A Not-So Valentine’s Day Post

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I’ve been trying to think, all week, about an appropriate Valentine’s Day Post. I’ve been largely unsuccessful. I wanted to write about the love in the book I’m reading. For goodness’s sake, the ‘girl’ is called Valentine! But I love the book too much to have it fit in with a themed post. I want to unravel this book more intimately, if you will. Perhaps, I am delegitimizing the opportunity for love and true caring that is meant to surround Valentine’s Day, but this book is pretty rad. I am looking forward to ruminating on the text even further. I’ve read the first book of four, Some Do Not…(by Ford Madox Ford), and I feel so in love with the text and its meaning. Valentine struggles against being a (first-wave) feminist and the realities of the Edwardian society in which she lives. For all her innocence, society has painted her as a mistress, unkept by her lover. And whilst I think we should always be wary about making anyone sexually-innocent or not, I think those societal pressures are there, so it is valid that she struggles with it. Additionally, she is quite thoughtful about the whole situation. The man she loves, and who does love her, is married and heading off to war. He may not return. Some Do Not…

I hadn’t meant to talk about the book, and look what I did! It just happens. I think when a book is that momentous, you just want to share it with everyone. I find that I am always slightly ashamed over books that have a theme of love. This text isn’t quite just that. It’s far more complicated. My GoodReads review reads as follows:

I want to rant and rave. I want everyone to know of its genius. The way the novel envelops you; reminds you of your own love. The novel cleverly creates an empathetic reader, and we want the rose-red days of love to live on forever. Tietjens is a man of great intellect, and his knowledge translates into a great criticism of Edwardian England. Richly engaged and tied to every corner of the world, England seems isolated, but this text reminds the reader the far-reaches of England’s Empire and the biting nature of a gossip-ready bureaucratic class.

Read this novel and fall in love. Fall in love and recall it’s intricacies.

From my review, it should be clear that the novel contains a lot more than just romance. And, I am going to take a little moment to censure my last sentence and my shame. I do not think that we should judge a reader, writer, or novel based on the inclusion of love and romance. Love always surrounds us. Just like Christmas:

So why do I, and others, think that books which contain romance, love, or social affairs are somehow bad or less worthy of our time? Isn’t it these kinds of books that teach us how to empathise and connect with others? Aren’t there so many internet posts about social awkwardness? I am not saying reading romance novels is going to solve these issues; I wouldn’t characterise Ford Madox Ford’s novel as a romance novel. I just think that we/I should stop shaming ourselves for liking the emotional gratification that comes with these reads.

I guess I am just trying to say that, whatever your jazz is, just enjoy it. It wouldn’t be right for me to judge someone who reads a book that I find flakey or lightweight. I’ve read YA, and I think that, whilst they don’t always contain the best of grammar or plot-lines, they do contain something current and instantly meaningful to the reader. It’s like this…you may know something really well, but sometimes someone rephrases or frames an idea in a way you never considered, and that moment of recognition is the same space in which your brain grew a little wiser. To end with an example, Ford’s novel reframed WWI in a way I hadn’t before considered. The protagonist is extremely clever and really only likeable to few people, but his cleverness presents a new way for me to think about things. His politics, though not always overt, offer me an opportunity to see the difficulties of Toryism, Whiggism, and early feminism in England.

Just read something that makes your heart swoon this Valentine’s Day. If you’ve done that. If you’ve found the book that makes your heart race, your blood rush through your veins, and your brain quiver with beautiful words…you’ve lived and you’ve loved.

Heaps of love,

Xx

P.S I think I might read Barbara Pym’s Some Tame Gazelle now…

Current Fling; Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End Tetralogy

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I have decided to give this book a go, again. I first tried to read this when I was doing my M.A in London, but for some reason or another I couldn’t get into it. For example, there were times when I felt that the first few pages were just too rigidly male. That kind of pre-WWI, British, aristocratic maleness drenched in the cologne often referred to as eau de privilege. I’ve decided to retry reading this and putting my own skepticisms aside. I have been promised many good things by the reviews out there, so I remain hopeful. I read a little bit yesterday, but didn’t get too much into the novel because I was out at 90th birthday party. <<aspirations>>

In addition to this text, I’m also going to revisit Dr Margaret MacMillan’s history text, The War That Ended Peace. Dr MacMillan’s text is really readable, so do consider picking up this historical study of the lead-up to war and the consequences of the First World War. Particularly, in an age where we have been engaged in war without acknowledging it or its consequences, I think it is important to revisit and remind myself et al., of its impact. Indeed, perhaps it may seem problematic to re-schematise this age of war within a European/Western context, but a lot of the issues that have arisen in the Middle East are direct consequences of Europe’s post-war territory making and settlement of nations which did not even consult the peoples living in those territories.

I look forward to getting into this book. Additionally, the most-lovely Benedict Cabbagepatch has starred in the BBC dramatisation of this tetralogy of novels, so I may look into those once I have finished reading.

One last fancy. Why hasn’t he starred as Dorian Gray in OW’s The Picture of Dorian Gray? Hum, but let’s not do to the novel what they did with the most recent film. I refuse to link it here. I saw five minutes of it yesterday, and I found myself defending the novel, most adamantly. Ugh. Please, let’s all just take a moment to RESPECT Oscar Wilde’s genius and not just use his book as an excuse for lascivious screen shots. The book contains so many beautiful instances of pure artistic craft. It respects the various artworks and styles it encounters, and the reader is enraptured by Dorian’s collections and decadences. [aside: The reader sees Dorian take opium to forget. But this scene isn’t romanticised. A character (left ambiguous here) is having a terrible hallucination that makes the reader question—what terrible reality makes those hallucinations better? There is more to be said about this, but I’ll leave it here.] Wilde was put on trial and largely criticized for the novel, a piece of artistic genius, which does not contain explicit reference to sexual content (that’s for your own imagination). And, I think that’s the genius of Wilde’s novel. He’s telling the reader…’It’s not here, but you’re thinking it. Just try to stop thinking about it. GOTCHA’ Love this man. I’ll leave it here:

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

– Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Heaps of Love,

Xx

Book List


In Alpha-Order and Updated Regularly; Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I’ll add them and tag you alongside. I will read these in no particular order, and I will discuss the book I am currently reading in more detail in separate posts.

Heaps of Love. Xx

A
[  ] Purple Hibiscus – Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie
[  ] The  Oresteia – Aeschylus
[  ] London Fields – Martin Amis
[  ] Poetics – Aristotle (re-read)

B
[  ] The Tiger Claw – Shauna Singh Baldwin
[  ] Cousin Bette – Honoré de Balzac
[  ] The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
[  ] Whittaker’s Wife – Bloom
[  ] The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum – Heinrich Böll
[  ] The Sweetness – Sande Boritz Berger
[  ] East is East – T. Coraghessan Boyle
[  ] The Death of Virgil – Hermann Broch

C
[X] Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass – Lewis Carroll 20/4/15 
[  ] Silent Sprint – Rachel Carson
[  ] The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life – John Carey
[  ] The Poems of Catullus – Catullus
[  ] The Napoleon of Notting Hill – G.K Chesterton
[  ] Anything by Agatha Christie
[  ] The Enormous Room – e.e. cummings

D
[  ] Divine Comedy – Dante (Alighieri) (re-read Inferno)
[  ] Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe (Because in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone one of the characters refers to the story with biblical authority).
[  ] Barnaby Rudge – Charles Dickens
[X] Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens 12/04/15
[  ] The Old Curiosity Shop – Charles Dickens
[  ] Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
[  ] Bleak House – Charles Dickens
[  ] The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoevskii (read half before)
[  ] The Idiot – Dostoevskii
[X] Trilby – George du Maurier 15/7/15

E
[  ] Half Blood Blues – Esi Edugyan
[  ] Second-Class Citizen – Buchi Emecheta
[  ] The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides

F
[  ] Recipes for Sad Women – Héctor Abad Faciolince
[  ] The Empire Trilogy – J.G. Farrell
….[  ] Troubles
….[  ] The Siege of Krishnapur
….[  ] The Singapore Grip
[X] The Days of Abandonment – Elena Ferrante [6/6/15]
[  ] The Character of Credit – Margot Finn
[  ] Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
[X] A Room with a View – E.M. Forster [26/01/16]
[X] Maurice – E.M Forster [06/07/2016]
[  ] Howard’s End – E.M Forster
[  ] A Passage to India
[  ] Parade’s End Tetralogy – Ford Madox Ford
….[X] Some Do Not…
….[  ] No More Parades
….[  ] A Man Could Stand Up–
….[  ] The Last Post
[X] Discipline and Punish (re-read) – Michel Foucault [25/03/2016]
[X] The History of Sexuality Vol.I – Michel Foucault [16/08/2016]
[  ] The Magus – John Fowles

G
[  ] The Sandman; Preludes and Nocturnes – Neil Gaiman
[  ] Ruth – Elizabeth Gaskell
[X] North and South – Elizabeth Gaskell [04/07/2016]
[  ] Wives and Daughters – Elizabeth Gaskell
[  ] Mademoiselle de Maupin – Théophile Gautier
[  ] The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium & Discovery – Amitav Ghosh
[  ] Sea of Poppies – Amitav Ghosh
[  ] I, Claudius – Robert Graves

H
[  ] Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
[  ] Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
[X] The Iliad – Homer (29/01/15)
[  ] The Odyssey – Homer
[  ] Etta and Otto and Russell and James – Emma Hooper
[  ] And the Mountain’s Echoed – Khaled Hosseini

I
[X] The Remains of the Day: A novel – Kazuo Ishiguro
[  ] The Buried Giant: A novel – Kazuo Ishiguro

J
[  ] Ulysses – James Joyce

L
[  ] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
[  ] The Enchanted Wanderer: Selected Tales – Nikolai Leskov
[  ] Out of the Silent Planet (Trilogy) – C.S. Lewis
[  ] How Green Was My Valley – Richard Llewellyn

M
[  ] Absolute Beginners – Colin MacInnes
[  ] Man’s Fate – Malroux (re-read)
[  ] The Scapegoat – Daphne du Maurier
[  ] Saturday – Ian McEwan
[  ] Wicked – Gregory McGuire
[  ] The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
[  ] Leaving Howe Island – Sadiqa de Meijer
[  ] Moby-Dick; or, The Whale – Herman Melville
[  ] Paradise Lost – John Milton
[  ] Spring Snow – Yukio Mishima
[  ] The Wood Beyond the World – William Morris
[  ] The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

N
[  ] Lolita – Vladmir Nabokov
[  ] Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi (recommended to me by Felicia)
[  ] The Birth of Tragedy – Friedrich Nietzsche Currently Reading.

O
[  ] The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
[  ] Down and Out in Paris – George Orwell
[X] Animal Farm – George Orwell [31/6/15]
[  ] Metamorphoses – Ovid

P
[  ] The Museum of Innocent – Orhan Pamuk
[  ] My Name is Red – Orhan Pamuk
[  ] Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust
[  ] Excellent Women – Barbara Pym

R
[  ] Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
[  ] London Lore – Steve Roud
[  ] The Casual Vacancy – J.K Rowling
[  ] Harry Potter et l’ecole des sorciers – J.K Rowling (en français)
[X] Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Days – Salman Rushdie (17/11/15)

S
[  ] Tendencies – Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
[  ] Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire – Sedgwick
[  ] Epistemology of the Closet – – Sedgwick
[  ] The Lonely Londoners – Sam Selvon
[  ] Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare
[  ] An Exquisite Sense of What is Beautiful – J. David Simons
[  ] White Teeth – Zadie Smith
[  ] I am a Cat – Netsuke Sōseki
[  ] East of Eden – John Steinback
[  ] The First Circle – Alexander Solzhenitsyn
[  ] Antigone – Sophocles (recommended by Elizabeth)
[  ] On Self Esteem and Scholars, Witches and Other Freedom Fighters – Gloria Steinem
[  ] Cures for Love – Stendhal

T
[  ] Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
….[X] The Fellowship of the Ring 
….[X] The Two Towers
….[  ] The Return of the King
[  ] Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
[  ] The Road Home – Rose Tremain

V
[  ] The Aeneid – Virgil

W
[  ] Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh
[  ] Brideshead Revisted – Evelyn Waugh
[  ] Vile Bodies – Evelyn Waugh
[  ] War of the Worlds – H.G Wells
[  ] The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
[  ] Someone at a Distance – Dorothy Whipple
[  ] A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
[  ] Mrs Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

Z
[  ] The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
[  ] Nana – Émile Zola
[  ] The Collected Stories – Stefan Zweig

Knits and Books

IMG_4852 I am currently working on a knitting project. It will be a hat, when all is said and done. The border will be knit in one direction and then I’ll knit the top in the other. 🙂 It is my intention to work quite slowly on this project because it’s one of those things. Normally, I knit quite quickly and I stay up even later to finish projects, but this time I am knitting patiently and I do believe it will be quite pretty. I’m using quite fine wool, it is alpaca and deliciously soft. I have 8cm / 3 inches complete, and I know I’ll probably have to knit to at least 21 or 22 inches before I begin the top of the hat.  Now, onto books. I’ve been trying to find a unique way to keep myself on track, and I think I’ll just set up my own bookclub of one. Currently, I’m reading The Iliad by Homer and The Pickwick Papers by Dickens.  IMG_4853 Both texts are quite unique, and the pairing is like trying a new dish. I am going to try and work my way through quite a few novels and texts this year. I will read The Odyssey in the near future, but I will break up my time between Iliad and Odysseus’s journey home.  In order to make sure I’m not overwhelming my to-be-read list, I will probably set myself a currently reading and the next book I want to read, rather than sit down and make a plan of attack. I will choose books on a more short-term basis because I think books have stronger magic upon us at certain times, and we should respect that magic. Additionally, my pace might seem a little slow because I also like to do background reading on some of the more historic works, such as Homer’s texts. I can write an entry on some of the history and critical theory on The Iliad if you would like. Let me know in the comments.  I’ll make a more effective and creative post about this bookclub of one. Feel free to read along with me, and let me know what you’re reading too or even if you want to read the same book too. I scoured Goodreads for ages to find a book club that hadn’t yet read the books I wanted to tackle, but I’m so fickle that nothing seemed to fit. I haven’t yet decided what I will read after these two texts, and part of that is because I am waiting for some books to come in the post.  What books are you guys reading, and what tips do you have to stay on track? Keep well and lots of love, X

Thus Quoth Homer

The rage of Achilles—sing it now, goddess, sing through me
the deadly rage that caused the Achaeans such grief
and hurled down to Hades the souls of so many fighters,
leaving their naked flesh to be eaten by dogs
and carrion birds, as the will of Zeus was accomplished.
Begin at the time when bitter words first divided
that king of men, Agamemnon, and godlike Achilles.

~The Iliad 1. 1-7.