Author Topic: Literary, cultural, fairytale, feminist ramblings (and other clever stuff too)  (Read 15401 times)

Offline Miaow

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Where's the feminist ramblings? I want to be part of some.
Femme, queer, feminist

Offline merce

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no seriously not sycophantic at all; one of the best things is it has *no*information. Also has a dramatised tape of the argument between queen anne & sarah churchill - very stirring. And a cabinet of curiosities.

Offline Charlotte Mew

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no seriously not sycophantic at all; one of the best things is it has *no*information. Also has a dramatised tape of the argument between queen anne & sarah churchill - very stirring. And a cabinet of curiosities.

ooh that sounds very good indeed! 

If our feminist ramblings are not good enough for you Miaow you will have to start some new ones on the thread.   

PQ

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The Kensington Palace thing sounds fabulous!




There was this thread "Pronouns and Parity" a while ago (last year); & it had some fabulous discussion about writing (esp. women writers) and other stuff in it, which I'd love to keep, so I'm giong to post some of that in here.



I think a lot of writers get stunted.  I think the stunting is I the thing that is going to get me thinking today.  Stunted is exactly the right word. 

I am very relieved that it isn't sacriligious of me to find Atwood and Winterson stunted, it seems so churlish, somehow, but this is the point:  it does women writers no favours for us to have *gratitude* for them, and this was my objection to Angela Carter.  They should be held under the same exacting scrutiny as a male writer.  And I don't think any writer, male or female, should just *churn* out stuff.

It's the *churning* of writing I don't like.  I don't mind a writer taking a risk, writing something that doesn't quite work, but I always feel peeved if they've found something which people like,and they deliver it, and it sounds like this is what you're describing.  So for me writing has to be less feminist, more queer, in terms of being surprising, unnerving, unexpected, and shifting my perceptions. 

I think Nothumb did the churning thing, too, I agree with you Bizoute.  I don't think Toni Morrison does, I get the feeling when I read her that she's mildly freaking herself out, too.  And that's where writing gets sexual/queer/gives that frisson.  Because there's an element of danger.

btw PQ - that *is* how I spend my hours.  The muttering is exacerbated by having to stop and do so much in the way of domestic nonsense.

 

I am very relieved that it isn't sacriligious of me to find Atwood and Winterson stunted, it seems so churlish, somehow, but this is the point:  it does women writers no favours for us to have *gratitude* for them, and this was my objection to Angela Carter.  They should be held under the same exacting scrutiny as a male writer.  And I don't think any writer, male or female, should just *churn* out stuff.
 
I don't mind a writer taking a risk, writing something that doesn't quite work, but I always feel peeved if they've found something which people like,and they deliver it, and it sounds like this is what you're describing.  So for me writing has to be less feminist, more queer, in terms of being surprising, unnerving, unexpected, and shifting my perceptions. 



yes, yes yes.

i think there is the danger of canonising writers, and yes, especially if they are writers who seem to be offering a rare commodity.

i say this against the backdrop of liking atwood, and think she's a very strong writer: atwood often uses a stock childhood for her characters. sometimes her characters aren't brilliantly well developed. a lot of murakami's protagonists blur too.
winterson stopped being wonderful when she cottoned onto a formula that works & stopped using original ideas.


and those are all writers that - when they're writing well, i really really like.

actually actually actually in terms of my reading tastes, i think perhaps stuff i particularly like doesn't necessarily even lend to / encourage three dimensionality of characters, often. i'd happily skip plot in favour of atmosphere if the atmosphere is well enough done.

i just do think it is important to allow one's self to notice imperfections in writing. especially because ... yeah. with someone like atwood it does seem almost 'sacreligious' in doing so - which i think is around the notion of canonisation.

but. well. writing that seems to come from the heart or - the gut - or wherever raw part - should not feel 'churned out,' imho. it should flow or it should be a smack in the face, or whatever. but formulaic writing is depressing. what always put me off sarah waters.

< very very critical.


i guess the idea with a writer seeming to be freaking themselves out slightly in writing maybe revolves around the idea of them writing from deep inside of the book. (does that make sense?) as opposed to from just below its surface. like when authors talk about a book 'writing them.' i guess theoretically that should all be flow and swing of the text without the need for tried and tested formulas. ew. i'm using cliches.

Now if we're talking about canonisation I've got a lot of time for (wrong expression) J D Salinger, even though it's hackneyed, and he's always the writer people seem to default back to as being - let's say - A Real Writer.

And I think that is because of his palpable fear at the pressure he's been put under as a writer, the horrible position he's been put under as this genius figure.  I think the same is true of Beckett, I think for all their faults, they had this grace laid at their feet which I don't think they were asking for (whereas I think Joyce was asking for it, and so many others were and are too), and that shouldn't go on with any kind of literature, feminist or otherwise.  It's like raising a child, you don't tell them they're a genius and fawn all over them the whole time or you ruin them.  I think the best thing Jeanette Winterson did was to start running a shop, to me that was a more writerly thing to do, especially when she has this readership just waiting for whatever she writes to fall off the press and they'll just chew it up like little puppies. 

Being a writer is an act of courage, and I realise from this thread that for me this is the male/female stance I blanch at in writing, regardless of the writer's actual gender:

- if I perceive there to be a lack of courage, and an ego which has got in the way and that ego comes from the industry, then for me that is a male stance.  And because of the way the industry works that stance kicks in with so many writers now, too soon, and it's a ruinous act. 

It sounds bleak but I think Bizoute with the zines and the online world that you are obviously tapping into, that's where the renegades and the writers of courage may be lurking.  The pulp machine of 3 for 2 and blah blah blah isn't really anything to do with the writers who get minced up in that machine, but it takes a truly great writer to retain their courage and their highwaywoman  kind of swagger.

i think salinger has a very particular voice, which i think was (well. i hope still is) incredibly coherent, and i think it was original.

i do think the same of bukowski.

less interest in all the voices out there now attempt to channel one or the other.


i think it's exciting to read writing of any ilk that feels raw, fluid, original. not all beat lit is my thing, but i think there was often that vibe to it, and part of that must have been that it was new.



and i wonder if all along, for innovation, for possibility, underground lit has really been where it's at. like underground art of any kind. there's just more scope within it. so it might be online or handmade zines & shoestring independent publishers these days - or whatever - but i'm sure it's always existed in different forms, and just morphs as society does.

PQ

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have you tried cat's eye or the robber's eye by atwood, pq? those are my favourites - cat's eye particularly.

I did read Cat's Eye, & didnt like it at all.
Mind you, that was a long long time ago, when I couldnt read between the lines and took everything at face value. It struck me as rather anti-feminist then, but I wonder now whether that was the character rather than the auhtor speaking, if you see what I mean. I also remember it as a bit colourless; & the character as kind of boring, trying to be different from her more flamboyant parents. Personally, I'd rather have flamboyant. But as I say, it was a long time ago.
I did recently try to read The Blind Assassin, hoping that the setting (1940s) & the crime angle might make it palatable, but I just gave up on page 4.  :-\
I think the Penelopeiad might be more my thing; I heard her talking about it & both she & it sounded cracking.
Or mebbe I just take to Atwood as a speaker but not a writer.
Ive had  the opposite with writers whose writing I really liked, and I went completely both off it & them upon seeing or hearing them in the flesh. I cant divorce the work from its creator. Actually, I'm not sure, upon reflection, that thats a bad thing. Is it?


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i think atwood consciously doesn't allow the reader to get too comfortable.

Ah. Now that is interesting. Yes. You could be right. Mebbe I should go back ot her.
Or mebbe it's an age thing. I still dont get Virginia Woolf (apart from Orlando, which I love muchly) -- fiction, I mean, I adore her non-finction; Room of one's own & Three Guineas. But her other novels - nada. I think mebbe I'm not quite old enough yet.
Or mature.


.... Angela Carter. It's the *churning* of writing I don't like.  I don't mind a writer taking a risk, writing something that doesn't quite work, but I always feel peeved if they've found something which people like,and they deliver it, and it sounds like this is what you're describing. 


This is kind of off-topic, but I remember reading (in Marina Warner on fairy tales, I think) that when Angela Carter knew that she had terminal cancer, that she basically sat down & produced as much stuff that she *knew* would sell as possible, to keep her husband and ?son after her death. I wonder now whether that was M Warner referring to such criticism as yours, Musca?

Now I re-read what Ive written it sounds like a sob story & I dont mean it like that at all... more like, mebbe actually youve hit the nail on the head & she *was* churning out stuff.

Which doesnt let Winterson off the hook. Ah well. She did produce, what, five, six, fantastic novels. Let's see where all of us are five, six novels down the line. Mebbe things begin to blur & one doesnt notice that one is recycling oneself. (I speak after a day of writing some, churning around in the mud not getting anywhere a lot, and deleting chunks of stuff. I cant imagine what it must be like having six books out.



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So for me writing has to be less feminist, more queer, in terms of being surprising, unnerving, unexpected, and shifting my perceptions. 

I agree with surprising, unnerving & all the others; but I dont think it has to be less feminist for all that. Less programatic, certainly; and not formulaic. But I think (I hope!) it's possible to be feminist and surprising etc. at the same time.

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....Toni Morrison ... I get the feeling when I read her that she's mildly freaking herself out, too.  And that's where writing gets sexual/queer/gives that frisson.  Because there's an element of danger.

Oooh. Yes. I like that. As a description of writing thats really alive. Risky. Like a thing a little bit possessed.


Quote from: Bizoute
formulaic writing is depressing. what always put me off sarah waters.

< very very critical.

But you're right. It is depressing.
Good writing needs to be alive.


I knew I felt strongly about all this stuff but I didn't know how strongly until I looked properly today at some Jacqueline Wilson.

I had always dimly believed she was doing something quite right-on, only it just wasn't my cup of tea, and totally formulaic.  But if it gets kids reading yada yada yada.  I had this knee-jerk disgust for her stuff because it's the literary equivalent of Eastenders, ie a bit over dramatised bleak non-reality version of reality.

But not necessarily harmful for all that, and pro working class.

Having said all the positive-ish things I already thought, I can't even begin to say how negative I feel about this gobshite.  Any given page of one of the novels that have infiltrated my home had something beyond trite, beyond hope.  If this is what girls read from the age of 8 or whatever then I feel a tremendous sense of gloom.

I realise I'm glad I was reading Stephen King and Jackie Collins when I was 10, now, having always thought it was a terrible deprivation on account of not having access to Good Books. In fact, even Enid Blyton is better.  Literally, I wonder if anything is better.  Apologies for my tumbleweed apocalyptic vision of literature.


Hmmmm. Does children's lit have to be good though? This may be terribly unfair on children, but I dont konw how much of a sense of language children have. And, yes, stereotypes, but I used to love Enyd Blyton; hell, into my adult years I used to love Agatha Christie; and look at me now going on about literature and whatnot.

I speak as one who was banned from reading comics (all comincs, even Asterix) and pulpy horror stories and the like throughout my childhood & youth (not necessarily for reasons of literary purity, more as a means of control I think); and I realise that youre not banning anybody from reading Jacqueline Wilson. I htink I'm bumbling towards saying that all is not lost, even if children's books are trash. As long as there are alternatives out there; and I think they always will, poeple can always look them out when theyre older.

On the one hand, we're all trashing the publishing industry, and rightly so, for its easy-ness and its mainstream-ness and lack of willingness to take risks.
On the other, it's actually never been easier to get a book published than it is today; more and more books get published every year. (And that is of course why more and more rubbish books get published every year. *sigh*)

I dont konw if I'm defeatist or fatalistic or just annoying; but I actually think that things arent much better or worse than they have been. I think this is what prolonged contact with prehistory does to you, you look at things over the last 8000 years, and it all seems much the same.
Which I think of mostly as a good thing.
Hmmm. Rose Macaulay put it rather better in "Told by an Idiot." Oh, and I had *such* a crush on Rome...


What did Rose Macaulay put better?  Explain please.

No, I agree.  I mean yes, I agree. ;)

I have simply been silenced and snuffed-out by the existence of Jacqueline Wilson.  I don't wish she didn't exist, in fact in terms of *her*, I think I rather like her, I saw a picture of her office in the paper and she had a drawing on her wall I'd kill for.  But what she writes, sheesh.  I'm actually dumbstruck, and all my passionate feelings about writing have been subsumed by her cack. 

Sorry, Jacqueline Wilson.  I know you are feted and held in great esteem.  .

And no, children's lit doesn't have to be good, I'd just rather the most popular children's writer wasn't quite so bad.

I haven't read all 5 pages of this but has anybody mentioned Cynthia Voight and her children's books about the Tillerman family written in the 1980s? "Homecoming" and "Dicey's Song" I think are especially good. The main character is a tomboy girl who has to look after her younger siblings when their mother becomes ill. They are later adopted by their grandmother who is also a wonderfully feisty independant woman. The books address lots of issues including mental health, puberty, the notions of family and home... there is even a section where they run away with the circus. What more could a girl want?

x

PQ

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What did Rose Macaulay put better?  Explain please.

Ive had to go and dig the book out now - grumble, grumble  ;) - and re-discovered that it has a character with my name in it.  :D I'd completely forgotten.
Here's how she put it better:


Funny, hustling, strutting, vain, eager little creatures that we are, so clever and so excited about the business of living, so absorbed and intent about it all, so proud of our achievements, , so tragially deploring our disasters, so prone to talk about the wreckage of civilisation, as if it mattered much, as if civilisation has not been wrecked and wrecked all down human history, and it all came to the same thing in the end. Nevertheless, thought Rome, we are really rather wonderful little spurts of life. The brief pageant, the tiny, squalid story of human life upon this earth, has been lit, among the squalor and the greed, by amazing flashes of intelligence, of valour, of beauty, of sacrifice, of love.


I'm sure there was a shorter bit somewhere, but I really rather like this.


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I have simply been silenced and snuffed-out by the existence of Jacqueline Wilson.  ... what she writes, sheesh.  I'm actually dumbstruck, and all my passionate feelings about writing have been subsumed by her cack. 

Nooooooo!! Don't let her. There is room in the world for more good writing; the existence of bad writing doesnt signify anything.
I mean, it does, obviously, but while good writing can pollinate and lift up and fire more good writing (and I daresay a lot of well-meant bad writing); bad writing is just there and is inert.
Quick. Read some Toni Morrisson. Nina Cassian. (Do you like poetry?) JD Salinger.

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And no, children's lit doesn't have to be good, I'd just rather the most popular children's writer wasn't quite so bad.

That, yes.  :-\ Agreed.



@Ginger; I havent read those Cynthia Voigt books; I remember some of her fantasy ones (Jackaroo, something like that?) and I think I found them a bit boring. The one you describe sounds a lot better!




Hm. I found it a bit depressing when I researched the children's book market a few years back, and the scope these days seems to revolve almost solely around serials of the harry potter model. But ... again, I guess stuff evolves according to demand.


There's always debate about the fact that less & less people read nowadays - particularly poetry, apparently, and that the internet (especially if reading at a screen) tends to shorten people's concentration spans. However, the flipside is, I think its immediacy, and that it does keep people reading.

As PQ said, there's really been no easier time to get published than nowadays. And though that's double-edged, I think there really are advantages to that. If I eventually have a harmonious enough collections of poetics put together and can persuade a publisher to take them on as a chapbook, by necessity it'll be an independent experimental publishing house. And if I'd been writing in a different point in time? If those had even existed, I doubt I'd have known of their existence.

For children's books? Actually as a kid, from about 8 onwards or something like that, I teamed blyton & such with reading adult novels. And it's the classic children's stories (I mean the waterbabies, and alice and things like that) I retained the fondness for rather than finding I still care much about Sweet Valley High. So ... Regardless of what presently published fare offers, I guess it's always a parents choice what they introduce their kids to, lit-wise? I know a lot of 'classics' fall more and more out of fashion, apparently.


And re: Atwood. I think The Blind Assassin is stunted. I like it. It did feel stunted. I like to think that maybe part of that is something Atwood does on purpose.
'Colourless' seems an interesting word to use for it: the impression she paints of rural 40s/50s Canada tends to seem pretty 'colourless' in a bland food, god-fearing, xenophobic sort of a way. But ... Cat's Eye always struck me as one of her more colourful novels. What she tapped into it that really made it resonate with me the first time I ever read it was the consciousness of a bullied child. But I always felt like she harnessed some impressive powers of perception in writing it from the point of a view of a child. There's a sentence in that book - something to the effect of children only being 'cute' to adults, that to one another they are life-size.
I think adults often forget details like that.
I like it, so I am extolling its virtues, but I do think it's a sensitive read - though a stunted one. :) (Urgh, that smiley's not meant to look condescending!)

And authors vs. their work? I think I do it more easily with dead writers.  :-[ I can separate the two to some degree. Part of what engages me with both Allende & Morrison is my impression of their personas as warm, earthy, strong - no cult of ego. I am a bit put off by the amount of ego around Atwood and Winterson both - Winterson particularly, but if I like the writing enough, I can polarise that a bit.
One of the things I've always liked about Carter was there seems such shrewdness there, in comparison to the often-ethereal leaning writing. Like ... feet on the ground.
And hm ... The take on her final writings is interesting. From my understanding of it, though I've only read brief stuff, I think she was diagnosed with terminal cancer before she wrote Wise Children. I'd read that she wanted to end on a note of jubilation - and so went from her usual dark delicious fare to colourful carnival. I'd always really liked that version of it. Even the other interpretation of it I think in that instance I can think 'fair enough.'


Jesus. Uber babble mode.



I totally agree Musca about Michelle Roberts trying too hard.   Allende  - never read House of the Spirits and I have been so put off by Eva Luna which I detested - I can't even get the words around why. It felt journalistic, sensationalistic, I just hated to have the experience of survivor daughters of servants who get dragged into sexual relationships because they don't have enough choices, exoticised.  Well that is how I read it.  I couldn't carry on with it, it upset me so much.  And it seemed facile. Not deep in any way.  I like things to be deep. 

There is no-one like Toni Morrison that I can think of, even then I didn't like Beloved like everyone else did, I found the ambivalence in the characters about the baby's spirit too upsetting.  I love Sula particularly.

I too like female authors best for all the good reasons PQ explained so well about the gaze coming from the experience of otherness, though I do read some men. I just can't think who.   But when, years ago, I tried to join the GB Book Babes they were reading month after month of contemporary male authors and I didn't feel inspired to read the books and never turned up. I wrote and asked the convenor why only male authors and she did not like my question, I think she must have thought I was being sexist or anti-men or something.   Just like others say, I too am (nominally if not practically) bisexual and have many close men friends in my life but I yearn for the female voice that life has so deprived me of in my growing up* and studying English Literature at university.   


*Hmmm what was the female voice then, in my growing up?  It was Charlotte Bronte (Jane Eyre only) and Mrs Ewing on brownies, and Enid Blyton (at least there was George for otherness, for all EB was such a racist with her swarthy faced non-English villains).   Who else?  Anna Sewell's Black Beauty and a look at animal rights.  Agatha Christie when I was a teenager and huge numbers of historical novels written by women authors I have forgotten except one was Jean Plaidy.  Not 'literature' but I learned a lot about sex from the historical novels - probably what I was after in 1961 and you could get it in a disguised way by reading historical novels.   Could have them on the table in your mum's living room.   I am trying to think who else...  I never read Wuthering Heights til I was grown up.    Du Maurier - I read Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel as a teenager.

But in spite of that list I felt really deprived of the female voice.   So much in the world was about men and the man's view of the world.  So much was addressed to men with the assumption you must be one if you were reading.   Not that I didn't love Conan Doyle, all the same.


And why hasn't it changed much?  Is wot I want to know.

Gaby Hauptman, huh.  Must look her up.  (aside)

I mean, like you say, DD - or are you VV, I always forget - the Brontes just got it, like Toni Morrison, and I think it's a wildness.  Aside from cliches about being black or being in desolate places, there's more to their writing than colour and place.  I'm talking about wildness in terms of otherness of spirit, and not belonging, but not being defeated by that, but not just in terms of subject matter.  Most of all in terms of writing style.

And I am a big big fan of writing style.  Style over substance every time for me.

I also loved Black Beauty.  That was a brave book.

PQ

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i think there's a rawness to morrisson's writing, and though that relates to her subject matter, i think it's the voice itself. i want to say 'urgency' and i can't think why but that was the word that popped into my head. and though it's very rich it's also accessible.

off the top off my head, i can't think of many male writers whose writing i have engaged with that i'd apply those words to. 'howl' or most things ginsberg have that urgency to them but it's in such a different way.

i think, for me, it's about the 'strong' female voice. strong is maybe a slightly flimsy word for it. i know i keep referring back, but i think for me that's the appeal of myth - medea and medusa characters and so on. and then, later in writing i can't quite bear the tess of the d'urbervilles (tess herself i mean) styled characters, because, well, triumphant or defiant or just plain old raw is just so much more engaging.

but morrisson writing has this fierceness - and it's a very lyrical fierceness, but i think it's fierce nonetheless. i got the same feeling from 'possessing the secret of joy.' and it's part of why i like some atwood - there feels like there's this strength to the writing voice.

so maybe defiance is what i mean?
and if the same feeling exists within writing by men perhaps i'm just less drawn to it.


Yes, yes, yes. Raw, urgent, I think those are really good words.
And it makes complete sense ot me that such writing should be so much more identidy-able-with (apologies for word monster (thats a German expression I really rather like :D)) -- than calm and tame and civlised and smoothed-down writing.

I have been thinknig about this for a while now & I cant think why it should be so, but it makes perfect sense to me that it does.
I spoke to a poet once (Einir Jones, one of a small handfull of women who won a Crown at the Welsh National Eisteddfod) and she said for her writing poetry was like throwing up - you went about with a poem inside yourself and feeling all strange and queasy, and then you threw up and wrote it all down & you felt much better afterwards.
It struck me as a very unpoetic kind of thing to say at the time, but I think she was describing the same kind of thing you're writing about, the rawness & the urgecy; and I tihnk that mebbe the best writing is like that because it's about real things - blood and guts and gore and that - and it needs to be a bit painful to bring it out because otherwise it's too easy... oh, I dunno.  :-\ I find no proper explanation. But yes. Definitely. Rawness & urgency.


That's very flattering and all, but I'm sure it's not a matter of consensus and it's highly likely to be very much the contrary.  PLUS:

I find writing to be exactly like vomiting, so I'm glad the Eisteddfod woman said this.  I don't even find writing enjoyable, except that I do get a bit high after I've thrown up enough, which makes the whole process dubious and (with all due respect to actual bulimics) would make me a writing bulimic.  Oh, and addictive, as well, in the same way: ie, with the suspicion that it's not very good for me, despite this Western idea that all art is cathartic and therefore good.  I think it's possibly balderdash.


It could be that writers have some sort of unbalanced emotional digestve system, as it were. Theres certainly a theory that Ive heard somewhere to the effect that most writers are unhappy poeple, but not because they write; but rather that they write to deal with unhappiness.
I can see that it would be so (I mean, it makes sense to me as an explanation); and sometimes it feels rather like a kind of spasm has laid hold of me and is shakíng everything out of me. That prodces the best stories.
But sometimes I also find it very enjoyable, and sit there in a cafe bent over my laptop, grinning in an unhinged fashion at everybody around me. 


What happened to all these wan and pale and gentle poets in attics?


Also:


and it's highly likely to be very much the contrary.
I dsiagree.  ;D

Writers are selfish bastards and the compulsion to write is an affliction and a disorder.

*sweeping generalisations I am happy with*

I just watched the films of Noah Blumbach (excuse misspelling of his surname) and this appears to be his theme.  It's a very funny theme and quite hideous, watching the effects of a writer's ego on her/his loved ones. 

I am also friends with the offspring of three successful writers, and the fallout of these kids has convinced me that I'm deliberately holding back from any kind of success in order to protect my own kids from the kind of monster I'd become if I did well  ;D

Writers are selfish bastards and the compulsion to write is an affliction and a disorder.

.....
monster I'd become if I did well  ;D


Nnnno. I dont think so. An affliction, yes, quite possibly. Probably. Yes, I will go with affliction, but an affliction in the same kind of way that being able to fly would be. A nuisance among nonflyers, and uncanny and scary, but also fab and enjoyable.

I am aware that if I apply this comparison logically, I appear to be saying that those who write are somehow on a higher level above everybody else, which is not true. There are monster artists of any kind, selfish and vacuous buggers. Just as amnog the general populatoin.

Oh, I dunno. Mebbe it's just me. I think being able to write is the best thing evah, for me, barring nothing at all. I want ot write and I want to get published and bought and read, and then I can die happily.


.....so mebbe I am a bit of a selfish monster. H'm.  :-\

No, because you aren't going to expect your offspring to marvel at you.  I listened to a programme on R4 today about Max Hastings (? was it?) and how his mother, who was an accomplished writer, made him miserable.

Mind you, she wrote for the Express and the Mail and it might have been in the days that people went out in gloves and a hat, but I suspect that these rags always were a whole load of gobshite.  But I think my sweeping generalisation might hold  ;)


It could be that writers have some sort of unbalanced emotional digestve system, as it were. Theres certainly a theory that Ive heard somewhere to the effect that most writers are unhappy poeple, but not because they write; but rather that they write to deal with unhappiness.
I can see that it would be so (I mean, it makes sense to me as an explanation); and sometimes it feels rather like a kind of spasm has laid hold of me and is shakíng everything out of me.


yah. sometimes i think of writing as like having a repetitive strain injury, or a twitch.

i like the vomited onto page metaphor. because, well, sometimes it feels like that. (even if it sounds rather disgusting.)


i think writing can feel like nothing. sometimes i put feelings, words, emotions to page, and it's just nothing, yanno? like no better, no worse, but just like speaking through my fingertips. sometimes less of a release.

i notice there's a difference, though, depending on what i'm writing. i think my writing & reading tastes are very similar. occasionally i write dream/nightmare prose poetic scapes. even more occasionally, they just flow, and those i tend to know immediately that they work, if they do. those leave me with a good feeling - like they're the wordings of emotions, feelings, set to a whole new background. and it's quite a transportative release, i think. like having done a deep meditation, or whatever. it's freeing.

if i'm writing & it's just mundane, or angsty, it's definitely not the same feeling.
similarly, reading angsty lit rarely does as much for me. but crazy magic realist dreamscapes - yum.


this is separate - i like what lore says about writing:

http://www.writers-bloc.net/2009/03/13/these-words-are-ghostings

No, because you aren't going to expect your offspring to marvel at you.  I listened to a programme on R4 today about Max Hastings (? was it?) and how his mother, who was an accomplished writer, made him miserable.

Ahhh. But many mothers who are not accomplished writers make their children miserable. I know a woman who is a failed rock singer who is making her daughter, not perfectly miserable, but certainly pretty stressed.   


PQ

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similarly, reading angsty lit rarely does as much for me. but crazy magic realist dreamscapes - yum.

Yes, yum. It's about authenticity, isnt it? It needs to be real. And well done technically, in terms of language, grammar, rhythm, all of those. Otherwise it's just well-meant personal outpourings. But it needs both.

Except for Muriel Spark, who is perfectly controlled, but for some reason still works for me.

I must re-read Loitering with Intent. So joyful (and, er, about a writer). And I went forth rejoicing is a prase which I think recurs.
Ah. *happy sigh* Books. Good books.



Oh, lots of parents make their children miserable, but there's a special way that writers and artists can do it, I think, a particular kind of selfishness.    ;)

and the vomitty kind of exorcism and tapping into some kind of ghostiness, it's a bit of a zen state I suppose? (if it's comparable to any kind of religion).  A meditative sort of nothingness, ideally.  Whereby instead of that ego and the havoc it can wreak on loved ones around, that instead a writer or artist might inhabit a sort of transcendental nothing-state.

I like that Lore Stein mentioned Beckett, because for me he was very much not 'male' (unlike Joyce) because of his nothing-state, the way he used repetition and a trance-like state of absolute dissolution in his writing and kind of became no gender at all.  And less than (or more than?) human.  What he did was brave.  Sometimes not fun to read.  But sometimes very fun, very funny.  One extreme or another.

I think going back to Toni Morrison I simply want to marvel at how she does that ghosty transcendental nothingness (and of course that's her theme, of how the murder and ghosts running through our veins can make us subhuman).  So it's kind of purging and vomitty.

But the control and the discipline of her writing at the same time.  So she's basically superhuman, in terms of her transcendental and yet disciplined writing skills.  If I was religious, in writing terms that would make her a high priestess.


I have nothing of any susbstance to say; Ive just come back from Hay and I'm high on poetry, Ive discovered Imtiaz Dharker and I think I'm in love. She read a poem which Ive just posted in the Poetry Thread which is all about Otherness and claiming it and I made a right idiot of myself and had to stumble out of the tent afterwards in a flood of tears; but then composed myself enough to buy her book & get it signed and she was lovely.

Oh god, and words.



I think going back to Toni Morrison I simply want to marvel at how she does that ghosty transcendental nothingness (and of course that's her theme, of how the murder and ghosts running through our veins can make us subhuman).  So it's kind of purging and vomitty.

But the control and the discipline of her writing at the same time.  So she's basically superhuman, in terms of her transcendental and yet disciplined writing skills.  If I was religious, in writing terms that would make her a high priestess.

yes.

there's this bit in 'beloved' where all the words and identities break apart & it's all watery foggy disembodied speech / thought. but there's this strength to her that stops it being ethereal flimsiness & does seem to go right over into transcendental.

i do have a thing for writing / art that seems to transcend solo voice and zip right past binaries, somehow. there's a lukas moodysson film 'container' which, when i watched it, struck me like that. it felt very much like a poem to me.

it's sort of akin to that literary orgasm idea again - though 'container' is theoretically very unorgasmic, it's as though some writing - or film, theatre, art, whatever - can just be such a continuous outpouring of something. and so be so transportative as to just trippy & sublime & rather like some kind of prolonged inhalation of breath or exhalation - so rather orgasmic / sexual.
and i'm sure rawness & authenticity are a part of that - as though one should need to be able to connect with something on a fairly visceral or core level in order to be able to experience it fully enough for it to be able to have that transportative quality. (as if, somehow there needs be that connection to base feelings in order to trip right over into something else. perhaps.)

i felt like that about this film 'black orpheus.' and 'nadja' is a little like that too, i think - ethereal and oddly giddy, and definitely sublime. (i know i'm citing films too. i think my definition of 'poetry' is broad.)



pq, your post made me grin.



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would it be sidetracking to ask if people want to tell their favourite myths/fairytales/fables in here amidst delightful feminist ramblings?

i'm so myth-hungry. i like learning new ones.

Offline Blythe

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I would like someone to recommend ONE book that discusses feminism and fairy tales ... I read an article Germaine Greer wrote about a month ago about old wives tales which was fascinating and discussed some of the origins of stories ..
'Someone take Blythe's mobile phone off her before she says something silly'           kitty

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^ Now, what I'm going to recommend to you is 60 per cent fairytale, 20 per cent fairytale and 20 per cent cultural/religious history, so perhaps not exactly what you're looking for. It's written by a feminist scholar, and it is one of my personal bibles, and one of the best (possibly the best) on the subject that Ive come across:
"From the Beast to the Blonde", Marina Warner.  (clicky)

would it be sidetracking to ask if people want to tell their favourite myths/fairytales/fables in here amidst delightful feminist ramblings?

i'm so myth-hungry. i like learning new ones.


Because threads on GB never get sidetracked, obv. :D

I think it's a fab idea.

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I don't know if anyone read The Guardian on Saturday but there was an article in it about the resurgence of feminism. It was in the news section and it talked about the various campaigns happening in and around the UK. Great!
Femme, queer, feminist

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^ Now, what I'm going to recommend to you is 60 per cent fairytale, 20 per cent fairytale and 20 per cent cultural/religious history, so perhaps not exactly what you're looking for. It's written by a feminist scholar, and it is one of my personal bibles, and one of the best (possibly the best) on the subject that Ive come across:
"From the Beast to the Blonde", Marina Warner.  (clicky)

Excellent, thank you  ... I saw this recommended somewhere else .. it sounds just what I want .. !
'Someone take Blythe's mobile phone off her before she says something silly'           kitty

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Oh good. :D

And, duh. What I meant was, 60 per cent fairytale, 20 per cent feminism & 20 per cent cultural history.

Also possibly of interest as a kind of companion volume, her Reith lectures, published as "Managing Monsters". Warner was only the third, I think, woman Reith lecturer. (And I'm trying to remember, has there been once since?)
I love her non-fiction. Her fiction I find boring, but her non-fiction sparkles.

I do adore telling poeple what to read.  :D

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I don't know if anyone read The Guardian on Saturday but there was an article in it about the resurgence of feminism. It was in the news section and it talked about the various campaigns happening in and around the UK. Great!
Yes it made me feel all optimistic.  Then I read the article in the Observer today about female genital mutilation and felt depressed again.  Though in it they said 16 women had protested and marched in Bristol about this recently so perhaps this too is encouraging.
'Someone take Blythe's mobile phone off her before she says something silly'           kitty