Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Now That I'm Not Manic Anymore

Okay, I think this has already been kind of stated outright, and I don't know quite why this appeals to me so much, but where I'm really hoping the Hitherby canon is going, with even more explicitness than there is now, is that Melanie joined the monster's organization and accepted her birthright as a monster and is all monstrous purely with the intent of saving her best friend partially, Liril, from her horrible fate, even though she has to do it obliquely and subtly, and even though other than this one act of rebellion she must genuinely be a monster, and that she doesn't see what's wrong with it, and that she in fact refuses redemption and experiences her awful foretold fate, and that's the story.

I really have no idea why this is the kind of story I like. And it kind of is a bit too close to Max and Sid, maybe? But still, I am happier and happier that this is really where we seem to be going! She sacrifices herself, not physically but morally, for friendship! She sacrifices her morality for friendship! Please may it be so!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Black Magic" by Jarvis Cocker

I woke up in the morning
and all the bells were ringing
My eyes could see the glory

Could hear the song they're singing
You only get to see the light
just one time in your life
Oh, black magic
that blows your mind away
and takes you somewhere that you wanna stay
You only get to stay one day
Oh, that cold black magic

Is there anything more wretched
than to just have caught one sight?
The eyes that saw the glory have been
have been blinded by the light

And it's the true believers that crash and burn
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna learn
Black magic
that blows your mind away
and takes you somewhere that you wanna stay
Oh, you only get to stay one day
Oh, that cold black magic

We can't escape; we're born to die
But I'm gonna give it a real good try
because nothing comes close and nothing can compare
to black magic

Yeah yeah yeah

Black magic
Yeah yeah yeah

"Black Rook in Rainy Weather" by Sylvia Plath

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then --
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical
Yet politic, ignorant

Of whatever angel any choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur.
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance
Miracles. The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.

"Hymn to Intellectual Beauty" by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats through unseen among us,-visiting
This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,-
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,-
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,-
Like memory of music fled,-
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.
Spirit of Beauty, that dost consecrate
With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
Of human thought or form,-where art thou gone?
Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
Ask why the sunlight not for ever
Weaves rainbows o'er yon mountain-river,
Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
Why fear and dream and death and birth
Cast on the daylight of this earth
Such gloom,-why man has such a scope
For love and hate, despondency and hope?

No voice from some sublimer world hath ever
To sage or poet these responses given-
Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven,
Remain the records of their vain endeavour,
Frail spells-whose uttered charm might not avail to sever,
From all we hear and all we see,
Doubt, chance, and mutability.
Thy light alone-like mist oe'er the mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.

Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart
And come, for some uncertain moments lent.
Man were immortal, and omnipotent,
Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart.
Thou messgenger of sympathies,
That wax and wane in lovers' eyes-
Thou-that to human thought art nourishment,
Like darkness to a dying flame!
Depart not as thy shadow came,
Depart not-lest the grave should be,
Like life and fear, a dark reality.

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
I was not heard-I saw them not-
When musing deeply on the lot
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
All vital things that wake to bring
News of birds and blossoming,-
Sudden, thy shadow fell on me;
I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy!

I vowed that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine-have I not kept the vow?
With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours
Each from his voiceless grave: they have in visioned bowers
Of studious zeal or love's delight
Outwatched with me the envious night-
They know that never joy illumed my brow
Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free
This world from its dark slavery,
That thou-O awful Loveliness,
Wouldst give whate'er these words cannot express.

The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past-there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Thus let thy power, which like the truth
Of nature on my passive youth
Descended, to my onward life supply
Its calm-to one who worships thee,
And every form containing thee,
Whom, Spirit fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Only One Coin

“Because beauty, Phaedo, is the only thing that is divine and visible at the same time, and so it is the way of the artist to the soul.But do you believe, my dear Phaedo, that the one who reaches the intellectual through the senses can ever achieve wisdom and human dignity?Or do you believe (and I am leaving this to you) that it is a lovely but dangerous road that leads nowhere?Because you have to realize that we artists cannot take the path of beauty without Eros joining us and becoming our leader; we may be heroes in our own way, but we are still like women, because passion is what elevates us, and our desire is love—that is our lust and our disgrace.Do you see that poets can be neither sage nor dignified?That we always stray, adventurer in our emotions?The appearance of mastery in our style is a lie and foolishness, our fame a falsehood, the trust the public places in us is highly ridiculous, education of the young through art something that should be forbidden.Because how can someone be a good teacher when he has an inborn drive towards the abyss?We may deny it and gain dignity, but it still attracts us.We do not like final knowledge, because knowledge, Phaedo, has no dignity or severity:it knows, understands, forgives, without attitude; it is sympathetic to the abyss, itis the abyss.Therefore we deny it and instead seek beauty, simplicity, greatness and severity, of objectivity and form.But form and objectivity, Phaedo, lead the noble one to intoxication and desire, to horrible emotional transgressions rejected by his beautiful severity, lead to the abyss.Us poets, I say, it leads there, for we are unable to elevate ourselves, instead we can only transgress.And now I am leaving you, Phaedo; stay here until you no longer see me, then leave also.”

---Thomas Mann, Death in Venice (translation found online)

I am really not sure what to think of the fact that I fell in love with this at fifteen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Universe Loathes Me, and It Is Destroying Me Always

No, seriously, I am not even kidding. This is just not fair. This is really the product of active malevolence. There isn't any other explanation. There is something out there that just wants me to die. It's not okay. There is a vast and intricate design out there, and its objective is an end to Grace.

Except of course I should note that my choice of pseudonym is also not particularly helping right now, hello!?!?!!?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Really Depressed Schizophrenia

Also, this is the best thing ever. I saw that it was Jarvis Cocker interviewing David Bowie and was like, this is going to be the best thing ever! And then it turned out to be all about cigarettes and I was like, meh. But then I read it and it turned out to be the best thing ever after all! Probably because when you get Jarvis and Bowie together in a room, they are going to be talking about the Jarvis and Bowie things. Even cigarettes cannot stop them!

I should have faith in my boys.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Whenever I think that something is a Shelley reference, I am right. It is a Shelley reference. I can prove it.

That's just a fundamental truth of the universe.

Do I Have Time for This? No, I Do Not Have Time for This!

One beneficial side effect of my current utter, complete, mind-blowing, devastating obsession with "Station to Station" (Devastating? Part of the problem with being obsessed with a song about the experience of cocaine addiction is that the obsession kind of recapitulates the experience of cocaine addiction) is that I have discovered that this is finally available online. I have been looking for that forever because it is, very predictably, probably up there on my list with Byron as one of the best things that has ever happened in the real reality. It's kind of hilarious to watch, really, because. . . well, first of all, Jagger sounds like me while I'm teaching ("Are you going to be quiet and listen to me now? This is really important, so you really should be quiet!" That is totally what I'd say if I were to suddenly start reading from Adonais in class.), but, secondly, he says something like, "I'm sure this reflects the way we're all feeling about Brian," and I'm like, "No, most people do not react to celebrity death with Neoplatonism, do they? I mean, the mere existence of Adonais certainly suggests that some people do, but. . . that's not the normal response, is it?"

If you are wondering about the connection with "Station to Station," can I just point you to this poem? It's by Aleister Crowley! And it's called "In the Woods with Shelley!" Lines totally include the phrases: "Spurning the stain of all grief here" and "Loose but your soul - shall its wings find the white way so appalling!"


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Explain the Resonance to Me!

DWJ's story "The Girl Who Loved the Sun" and Connie Willis's story "Daisy in the Sun" are two good, similar works. It is unsurprising that I like both of them, given that they both deal with themes of questioning conventional narratives of female sexuality and girls who rebel against these narratives. It helps that both of them, in different ways, have bittersweet endings that simultaneously affirm the girls' desires and express the problems with rebellion; I find that it makes them more interesting than pure wish-fulfillment fantasies.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm not the only person who finds this an interesting theme, so it's not surprising to me to see two authors, in particular two female authors, working on the same topic. What confuses me is, why did both authors happen to pick, as their vehicle for discussing the topic, girls who rebel against ordinary heterosexual relationships by falling in love with the sun instead? Why is this the choice - boys or the sun? Where does the sun come from? It seems terribly coincidental that two stories both dealing with the same themes would pick the same exact symbol for alternative narratives, but I can't for the life of me think of what resonance made both authors choose the sun! Can anyone explain this to me?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Real Place

You know, 2011 is a quarter over, and I have posted a grand total of one post on this blog this year that is not about Hitherby. Yeah.