Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'll Dream a Nation of Me, and We'll All Live in It

From my dream journal, October 11, 2007: ". . .the actor who had played Peter in the Narnia movie was up ahead in the museum. I guess his name is William Moseley. Anyway, I was very excited, not because he had played an important character in the unmemorable movie version of one of my favorite childhood books but because, in the dream world, the Franz Ferdinand song "Outsiders" was apparently about this actor."

From the official lyrics to the album version of Franz Ferdinand's "Lucid Dreams," as written in the liner notes of Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, released in the US today and in the UK yesterday: "I'll dream a nation of me / another Narnia where we can live it."

As I like to say in these kinds of situations, be warned that the world may be destroyed at some time in the near future! But don't worry, if it is, I will save us all by effectively dreaming us into a new and better (if only slightly so) world. Then I will get abused by a misguided psychologist who wants to turn everyone grey. Won't that be fun? You should be greatful.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All the Poets Are Ded

I like Keats. Heck, I've written two relatively decent and (if I do say so myself) insightful papers about Keats, which is more than I can say for Byron and much more than I can say for Shelley (in fact, I feel I wouldn't even know where to begin with this last).

The trouble with Keats is Keats as a person, which. . . well, I've read multiple writers talking about how, of the younger Romantics, Keats is the only one you'd actually want to know, because Keats was genuinely nice, sweet, and good. Which on a certain level is presumably true. And reading Keats' biography, or his letters, is not boring - and not just because he had interesting things to say about literature and wrote some amazing poems - since he was both a legitimately nice person and a brilliant genius in his field (and, for that matter, relatively disadvantaged), his death is quite depressing and tragic. But poets, like pop stars and politicans, don't really count as real people. And my tastes in real people probably don't run to the norm, anyway.

Shelley (as a person, as described in Richard Holmes's book) actually reminds me more of many of my friends than Keats. Probably this is a class thing, at least to some degree, but it remains true. Shelley writing that atheist pamphlet but getting kicked out of school for refusing to answer questions rather than making the "strong case" that his intellectual inquiry was, in fact, not criminal, Shelley deciding that it would be a great idea for his best friend/boyfriend to sleep with his wife, going away in order to facilitate this, and then completely abandoning the friend when he suggests it to her and she gets offended. . . these may not be paradigms of positive behavior, but they seem awfully reminiscent to me of the kind of things that happened to my friends, at least when they were young. And Shelley was, if not the same kind of intellectual as my friends, certainly a very intellectual person. . . part of the reason why I have such a hard time thinking about how to write about his poetry is because of the philosophical complexity of it. Shelley certainly had his flaws, and he obviously wasn't a nice person like Keats (hell, he apparently was, completely obliviously, not very nice to Keats himself), but I would have liked to have been friends with him, had that been possible. He would certainly have been a very interesting friend (although some evidence suggests that a friendship between us would have been difficult. Then again, this goes for Keats, in a perhaps even more off-putting way, as well.).

As for Byron as a person. . . ummm. . . he sort of wasn't. I realize that the blame for this lies somewhat on his own head, but obviously not entirely. The problem with Byron is that every aspect of his personality, including his own resistance to his celebrity, his desires to divorce himself from the characters in his poems, and even the admitted great differences between, Don Juan and, say, Manfred, has informed later writers and creators so much that it really is fundamentally impossible for me to think of him as anything other than a fictional character. Are there lots of real people like Byron? Clearly, no. Are there lots of fictional people like him. Oh my God yes. Thus, the concept of considering Byron as a potential friend seems ludicrous - it would really be like considering Cain or Manfred as a potential friend.

Everybody knows the story behind the creation of Frankenstein, but I found the story behind Polidori's Vampyre to be really. . . entertaining. So Byron begins a story and then never finishes it. Polidori, who apparently served as Byron's personal doctor largely out of a desire to give a kickstart to his career (and who was uncle to the Rosettis? Man, you think of Goblin Market as setting up a completely different tradition of speculative fiction), uses the story as inspiration for his own novel. This ends up being a story about a guy who pals around with a British nobleman who spends vast quantities of time seducing women on trips throughout Europe and eventually seduces the guy's sister. The nobleman, who is of course a really evil vampire, is named after a character in an earlier novel who is a transparent portrait of Byron. When the novel was published, somehow the magazine decided to claim that it was by Byron, thus infuriating both Byron and Polidori, who by this time really disliked each other. And apparently, all Internet sources agree that Polidori was the first to really write about the vampire as an aristocrat, thus more or less setting the tone for the entire genre as it developed throughout the next couple of centuries. I find this story genuinely hilarious. But it really does demonstrate why Byron basically only counts as a fictional character. The fact of his existence seems more or less irrelevant ;-).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Zizek and Laibach

Here is something I wonder - does knowing more about Slovenia than I do (something which ought to be achievable with great ease) actually provide one with a useful context for Zizek and Laibach. I feel like it ought to - largely because I feel like there has to be some kind of context for Zizek and Laibach - but I know so little about Slovenia that it's hard for me to understand how it would.

I have been listening to Laibach songs today on YouTube and occasionally catching glimpses of the videos. You know it's going to be a good Laibach video if the lead singer shows up in his headdress thingy. Their cover of "Across the Universe" is really disappointing, though.

ETA: Apparently, Slovenia is the highest-ranking Slavic country on the United Nations Human Development Index. Did you know that? I totally did not know that. Watch me learn more about Slovenia!

Monday, January 5, 2009


I think I like Astaroth (in Angel Sanctuary - this is going to be an entirely AS post) - and by "like," I mean that I get reasonably excited and happy when he shows up, just like I do with characters I like for other reasons - entirely because he is hot. I mean, he only plays a significant role in ONE volume. He has an appealingly tragic backstory, but since he appears in a manga with the fundamental premise that One Above. . . is experimenting / With various mixtures of human character which goes best,/
All is interesting for him it is exciting, but not for us,"
only for "various mixtures of human character" read "various mixtures of human and angelic character and also angelic fetuses" (why do you think I said I like the plot even better than the characters?), this doesn't make him stand out in any way at all. He also doesn't stand out in terms of what he actually does with his backstory; you would expect him to be kind of evil, and he in fact is kind of evil - and not even particularly interestingly so. So all that's left is that he excites me because he is hot. Darn it.

Oh, you know who else in AS is hot? Zaphkiel! Not that that is the only reason why I like him. I like him for a LOT of reasons - he has multiple personae, all of which I like, and I particularly like the combination of them all in one person. But he is, nonetheless, hot.

I. . . ummm. . . probably shouldn't even start talking about Kira. And yet once I started writing about this topic it was kind of inevitable that I would end up talking about Kira. So, leaving aside the disclaimer about my actual reasons for loving Kira with infinite, passionate love - if anyone really wants to know why I love Kira so much, just ask me in comments - I just so happened to almost by accident be reading the AS volume wherein Kira walks around in the military uniform. Now, Kira is always hot. That goes without saying. But, man, Kira in the military uniform. . . . Like, Kaori Yuki should have had Kira and Setsuna go to military school in the beginning of the manga, just so that Kira would have had to wear a military uniform. Also, she should totally write a sequel to AS about the next great war between Heaven and Hell. Sometimes we might see what was going on in Heaven, and Raziel and Raphael and Michael and Barbiel could show up, but mostly it would be about the army of Hell, and Kurai and Asmodeus and Astaroth (yay!) and Belial and Lucifer. They would have a horrible time all working together in order to fight against Heaven. It would be really funny. Also, Kurai and Belial would tease Lucifer a lot about the fact that he was married to Arachne. Lucifer would respond by being enigmatic. But mostly the plot would be about pictures of Lucifer in military uniform. That's what I think.