post academic rant…

(skip to last paragraph if you just want to read the few lines of fiction/thought)

Something I wrote ( last paragraph) at the start of my last philosophy class for a course I have failed if I can not claim mitigation for another entire semester of neighbour induced stress, sleep deprivation, daily paralysis and despondency. We discussed institutions and I sit between two women – one rationally opposing the others cocaine-like ranting on the future of civilisation. The latter can only attack her points and I wish the lecturer had electronic buzzers attached to our seats. I sit like a glum child trapped at the dinner table while their parents argue. Come on Sas, press a button and zap her arse of ‘everyone must be localised (to my order) and exist autonomously (to my dictatorship). Actually no, in the imaginary world of buzzers under our arses zap mine: at the point of her spurting that there are too many people in the world, those in desert communities will die or the rest will get cancer and aids (like she really hopes we all do then the worlds all hers to reorder)…zap my butt, open the trapdoor under my desk let the crowd boo and me drop out the room when I so miss actually being applauded and told by audiences that I inspired them to dance. I’m not an Academic Get Me Out of Here! I try to catch his eye to communicate in a nano second that I actually do live in an institution for the disabled that screws our rights that will be sold to profit the ‘charity’s’ directors, that life should be full of wonder not politics… ranter activist bangs on that if another tribe disliked hers thay could just go emigrate somewhere else. I can’t even emigrate to Oxford and write stories, no philosophy just simpleton storytelling…

I can not catch his eye. It is all quite amusing in its horror on my tired brain that feels like that moment you drop bread dough onto a work top of flour from lack or sleep. Shit metaphor I know but I have a bread dough brain.

…this debate is brilliant but can you just do it in whispers and maybe smiling? My eye balls ache….

One more class to go on teansgender narratives than I have finished the University of Westminster. Mitigation would mean submitting in July next year. No fresh new year but uncertainty of disability benefits having to be reapplied for, uncertainty of home, urologists, cyptotoxic drugs and burning drops in my eyes wires to my brains activity (toast or bagel results?).

Another six months the reincarnation of Vivien Eliot (Tom’s preferred spelling). The more I read of her remaining words the more I find another affliction we share: eyes, brain, skin, no sleep, poor writing, failed dancing, I got flu sniffing over her leather notebooks with my leather notebooks and our faint pencils. Could Vivien read her own writing back as difficult as I do in pencil? Students are doing dissertations on linguistics and colonialism in philosophy- I am trying to resurrect some importance in a woman who just wrote for a while and felt sick a lot and the literati disregard. I am trying to point out that writers like Vivien are buried under too many intellects.

I want to walk into a book shop and buy the slim volume of the writing of Vivienne Eliot (with my own foreword and no typos would be my version of wearing Cartier). Vivien would have snapped at the class debate as beastly (she probably would have written her own headache with it too).

‘A clamour of inanities…’ (F.M/V Eliot  The Criterion)

Anyway here’s what I wrote in class while everyone chatted about what bar to go to…

I’m distracted by a window lit outside across the block. It is like that moment in Nadja when she says the window will turn red. Do you ever stare into windows at night in the hope you will see something no one else is noticing because you are the only one who hasn’t the mind to be here in class. And those inside the window will never know: something obscure or a melodramatic, Hitchcock style moment- anything other than discussing Derrida and Kant everyone pronounces as cunt….I’ve already written all I dislike on Kant for a frail pass grade on whether life should be found through action not thinking about thinking

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Gardens in Literature

Sometimes the settings and locations in books can be as captivating as the characters. Here are my favourite books featuring spellbinding gardens. The gardens of these books are places of secrecy, escape and encounters. 

Rebecca

The gardens of Manderley in Daphne Du Maurier’s sumptous novel surrounds the English country estate with its own woods and bay by the sea. The descriptions are rich and intricate so that your imagination can almost smell the roses. Kept in ornate splendour, the garden, with its winding drive of high wisteria, is also what gives Manderley an atmosphere of seperation from society and builds what becomes an isolating and entrapped life as the new wife of Mr De Wnter. 
Atonement

Evocative of long summer days the gardens in Ian McEwan’s  novel recaptures the golden summer before outbreak of war. For the children and teens the gardens are a place to escape and relax, sunbath and swim in the lake or play in the meadows beyond. The film adaptation also depicts an atmosphere of humid ennui before family disaster. 
The Thirteenth Tale

This has been my read of the year, read in bed until dawn. Again the garden is a place of escape where childhood and its games can run free in twins with no discipline, left to there own terrible pleasures. There is a contrast between the topiary gardens and overgrown woods that fester their own family secrets and demise. It is in the gardens, both of the past and present,  where mysterious characters are seen playing or singing in the night. This book is fascinating. 

Villette

Compared to the other novels featured here, the gardens in Vilette are enclosed in narrow alleys and overlooking windows. From those windows the comings and goings of Charlotte Bronte’s semi autobiographical girls school in Brussels can be spied. This is a city garden under lock and key of half seen people at dusk, buried things and where love intrepidly grows. 

The Shared Dawn

‘After the ending of this inspiration…’ -T S Eliot

After the shouting and cussing,

After the blunt demands and defiant refusales,

And after the handwriting deciphering of missing poems and threats to ruin the peaceful garden,

I spoke to my neighbour on the phone, through the wall,

Of the day,

Of the guide-dogged unguided thuggery of the man who throws his weight to get his wat.

This is a Supported Housing complex of unsupported complexities and those that revel in mistrust. 

We talked until the operater cut me off at 6.30 a.m of a September morning cold enough for snow. 

‘Hello Fox!’ Echoed off the grass below my sock footed balcony. 

In one breath his orange fur extinguished into black ivy by the wall. 

My fox has escape routes I wish I knew. 

Already the traffic gushed along the park,

There was no violet air only indigo, the etchings of familiar tree branches,

The first declaration of morning exchange between my whisper and a crow. 
Downstairs balcony, one flat along, a cherry thick smell of shisha smoke told me I shared this dawn.

Nests sang with dry hello’s, the sound child make with imaginary guns. 
A boy on the top deck of a bus stuck in rain had pointed his closed umbrella, spied a pedestrian and took aim. 

Over machine gun birdsong and blackbird aria I laughed at a stag’s disgruntled moan. 
After my sight was given to clouds of fresh bruises, sagging dirty denim blues. 

I tilted my head up and was greeted by diamond points of rain. 

This was my ‘Sunday outing’ without ever been to bed. And the world did not seem futile, 

Only witnessed and sublime. 
This poem was inspired after reading missing and ommitted sections of The Waste Land by T S Eliot. The fascimile and transcript of the original manuscript,  as well as the missing poems, editted by Valery Eliot is available from Amazon here  The Waste Land : A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

Of London: Circus

‘Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.’


“What shall I do now? What shall I do?
I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street
With my hair down, so. What shall we do to-morrow?
What shall we ever do?”

‘Unreal city….’

– T S Eliot ‘The Waste Land’

Summers morning shivered through the rarity of exposed, skin and rattled the bones that led tired eyes and a skull of petals, seashore treasures, the road it used to go. In a cloud of misfitted, white dress, summer felt cold.

‘Some of us walk in the day,’ a friend had sung. It had always been a night time ditch place flowing with headlights, lurking enemies, twisted ankles, disused motel. Summer left the midway exposed.

And all looked newly scrubbed and void. The dark tower stood proud in technicolour as a workhouse chimney, the snap of the guard dogs bark slept; off duty where the factory smelt of glue. .
‘Show me a trick?’
‘I Don’t Do Tricks,’
The man with his hood up demanded money from empty pockets outside the corner shop.
There was once a Christmas tree in the garden of the funeral parlor, it caused doubled laughter but the joke is forgotten.

The white dress lifts like a Big Top and twists like a shroud around a ghost of the circus’s legs as Clancy stands silent, licked with paint and banners. Roll up, Roll up….roll ups? Press up? A slip of old echoes on Wednesday nights.

It was the Christmas trapeze ropes grazed the tops of feet, roll off, drop out of seat, turn, catch the weight at the last moment and. And for years after in a yellow gymnasium lined with trees, the trick was never achieved again. Years later on a blue January train in Maize Hill fresh acrobats huddled in mutiny.
‘She is weak….if she get blood on the silks..’’
How can so much sunlight leave London so cold?

‘You used to hold my feet when I got scared….’
One after another strangers climbed the ladder and swung through the air on a rainy Hoxton morning.
‘You used to hold my feet when I got scared.’
At the bottom of the city, teenagers had peeled off anger to laugh, taught to juggle in a skate park. A trapeze had twisted beneath a climbing frame and caught the drips of twilight trees, and caught delight in numb fingertips. Circus of the dumps.

A security barrier lifts at the entrance, curtain up…’heads up’ the technicians carabiner had dropped to the theatre floor. Lights Up, only the audience wasn’t there.

Curtain call?

Summer blinks on a tattooed back.

Hands come together without applause.

‘I always find myself back here.’ The words twirl.

‘Down by the riverside……Look at the stones on the river bed
I can tell from your eyes
You’ve never been by the riverside…….sings Agnes from the last performance like a whirlitzer tune.

The trapeze is wrapped in its own ropes against a bookcase. It cherishes the smell of paraffin, lingered days of dancing with fire, breaking into the park.

‘But there’s fire! There was fire…..’

The performance smoldered out a little after midnight on the football pitch.

Here are clown arms, belligerently take them. ‘In case I don’t come back.’

Midday on the midway brought rain. The white dress must have washed seethrough as it billowed around London for the rest of the day.

The dress has lost a button, caught over the edge of a little trapeze.

Of London: Mine

Gloomy, familiar, rainy Great Portland Street. Where dozy traffic clots and we all walk with intent.

Cloth tape pinches the arm with a needle hole, it gave six blood bottles, full, with bright caps like toddlers bricks; a silent nurse held the hand. Healthy as ever, dinnerless and late as always; every puddle laughs at striped socks of yesterdays dancing.

Black starched boys of the best of decorum can’t decide out of their politeness who to put in a black cab first. Their delays gives a gap to skip across a by-street. The telephone tower. BT Tower? Post Office Tower, phallic, cartoon, outer-space thing, marks the way like a friendly sentinel to the weekly haste of being lost.

A Fritzrovia mistake: it’s one street not two. Retrace in thicker gloom. The reading device in a fake leather bag won’t last in the rain. These eyes won’t last a lifetime but isn’t the little street grand? Everything has gone guache blue and echoes of heels in the detour.

What is the orange thing that slips hurried feet on the corner of Wells street where the pavement is little lit squares and pencil skirts in silhouette:a sweater, some cadaver of clothing? How has someone dropped such a thing?

Late for class but wide eyed and learning.

Dunce

Help- I have to write a textual analysis of how an extract and how it conveys the subject.

What does that even mean?!! What is a textual analysis? How is it different from an essay? I cant ask uni they already think I’m a helpless case at intellect. I am currently having to read critical essays on how people from rural areas are slow, stupid and habitual compared to the highly intellectual city dweller.

Uni gave me low grades on my Ginsberg poetry essay saying ‘you are trying to argue that writing is a direct form of expression and I can’t think of any example where this is the case’!!!

Can anyone explain what either a textual analysis or conveying the subject means?

I am studying literature at masters level in my 30’s having not studied it since I was 15. I have no desire or interest or intelligence for teaching and no idea what to do with the qualification. I would like to write or work in a place I get to be an expert on certain characters and texts but no idea how in the working world.

Mr. Hyde – The beauty of truth or horror of reality

nesbittPonderings after studying Jekyll and Hyde and its adaptations. This is long. Go brew some tea or some special salts in a vial that smoke and turn purple and green and….)

Is it simply an old cliché that girls are always attracted to the bad guys? Looking through old film adaptations of Jekyll and Hyde, from silent movies to the present there is an obvious ascendance of his appearance becoming more attractive. Screen versions deviate into romances or gender swaps (any excuse for Hammer films to show bare breasts) as though the dilemma is not one of dual personality and hidden selves but all about the girl.

Strangely enough, in Stevenson’s novella ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Hyde’ there are no girls and certainly no romance. To be accurate there are two, briefly mentioned, women; a maid servant who, in a romantic mood, sits at her window only to witness Hyde beat Carew to death and Hyde’s landlady with an ‘evil face smoothed by hypocrisy’ (a transvestite in Victorian Soho dwellings/brothel perhaps?). No, this tale revolves around the friendships and letters of three middle aged men in repressed Victorian society; The stalwart lawyer and the friendly Doctor, Mr Jekyll and his fiendish, Freudian ‘Id’.

Every witness of Hyde gives a different description from ape-like and primitive to ‘dwarfish’ and the ‘impression of deformity’ yet none can say what exactly separates him from the norm. The lawyer Utterson describes Hyde evocatively as having ‘the mere radiance of a foul soul.’

And yet none of them can look away; repelled but enticed. Is it that each see in the candour, expression and eyes of Mr Hyde themselves? Do they get a glimpse of what is really beneath tight starched collars of social upstanding and taught morals. Hyde wears the true self on the outside, free from constraint with the wonder of a child and all the desires of an adult, the instincts of an animal.
Jekyll himself tries to suppress his Hyde side after the murder yet still succumbs as his Hyde persona grows in strength and ability to change regardless of the potion. There is an attraction in this story not just to unravel the mystery of Hyde (as in Utterson’s pursuit of him) but to be him. Jekyll looks in his mirror and does not find his ‘ugly idol’ hideous but is exhilarated, born anew.
In one film adaptation the first words from Hyde’s lips are ‘free’. The following excerpt from the novella further shows this freedom and jubilance of being unbound.

‘I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness of a current of disordered sensual images running like a millrace in my fancy…I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, ten fold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil, and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.’ (Stephenson 1886)

On a tangent, the potion he swallows is often made out to be some kind of transforming elixir responsible for the change. Actors grab their throats and scream in the movies having swallowed a sip. Read the final chapter of Jekyll’s explanation and the ‘potion’ can be interpreted more as a drug addiction, like preparing heroin/laudanum that is an inhibitor to losing his inhibitions.

Is that the attraction watching James Nesbitt’s (aside from the fact it is James Nesbtt) insatiably brilliant portrayal of Hyde, charm and shock in the BBC mini series, to be with someone dangerous and unpredictable? It is Hyde we all route for and not the Jekyll side of him as Dr Jackman, an uptight and methodical scientist. Yet that is the joy of fiction; the enticement of playing with danger and knowing it isn’t real. We all love an anti-hero, the abnormal and strange that whirlwinds life away from the humdrum everyone, in one way or another, complies with. For the real Hyde’s of this world would be the serial cheaters, abusers and murderers that so many times we thought were men of high society we could trust. Look at the recent child and historical sexual abuse cases of men we always thought of as charitable or admired as celebrities. Isn’t it better to absorb ourselves in the fictitious fiends with devilish smiles in a London we never walked through?

But then Hyde isn’t entirely without morals. when Utterson finally meets him he makes an excuse as to how he knows who Hyde is, that Jekyll told him. Utterson is supposed to be our faithful, truthful protagonist, the one to solve the mystery.

‘Jekyll never told you,’cried Mr Hyde with a flash of anger, ‘I did not think you would have lied.’

My Literary Disaster

It was the last assignment of the last day of the semester and I screwed it up in all its nonchalant relinquishing of failure.

The presentation should have been a persuasion that Hunter S Thompson’s make believe and lies are what all literature should have and to quit scrutinising reality- it’s all a story.

I’m telling you this and it really happened, but I’m picking the words and making it a story.

The night before I memorised most of it to a stop watch like a theatre script.

On the day I typed it all and made handouts, playing at teacher, playing at intellects.

Nothing would print. Forget the handouts, email it to my Kindle.

I couldn’t log back in to the computers in 2buildings. When I did all my work had vanished.

So after a 15minute walk to another campus while the presentations had started, phoning IT maintenance, finding another machine, choking, power walking back to class…..

I sat on the desk in my glittery converse shoes and talked of disjointed pieces of ill forgotten script from fatigue and nerves.

Thompson would have applauded my mashed up brain.

A few sentences in I got that feeling like the dreams of going to school naked and just gave up because I knew no one wanted to hear my babbling of acid trips and Cadillacs.

They probably think I was high. I hate drugs yet am engrossed in the Beatniks and Thompson’s highs and farcical paranoia.

Why do I study dead men who wrote books with no career path? It’s all there to read, explained better than I can. What do I do with dead junky writers?

I started this course loving the Brontes wanting to teach.

I’ve turned into Ezra Pounds dirty socks.

My tastes are so oblique I spent 2 hours in Waterstones despondent at the choice. Where is the Cantos, The Waste Land among thousands of crimes and failed marriages and Hobbits?

I settled for Kerouac and Burroughs fiction version of their friend murdering an infatuated English teacher, long unpublished.

Weirdly I like more poets than authors; Plath, Eliot, Pound, Ginsberg – all fill my bag and Starbuck table.

What use do I find to all this study and revelations everyone else already read?

Circus begging

Hi this is to anyone in the UK circus community. I am looking for somewhere in the London area to do regular aerial training at low height.

I am utterly broke. I am applying for funding but this
still means weeks on the ground.

I spent the last two years devising aerial dance in a bedsit I have now left.

Recently I performed a WIP at Jacksons Lane after a week residency which was fabulous to be around other performers, have enough space and build my confidence that what I do is what I do. And now I would like to develop my ideas further.

There are no classes in what I do and due to back problems I can’t do most of the conditioning in classes and haven’t the funds even if I was built like He-Man.

If anyone spectacular can help and there is anything I could do in return for some riggable space please put the word out or get in touch.

Love

Ariadne

The Girl Who Was Wednesday

Varnished winding pavements lead me away from the stalwart,
London matriarch of St Paul’s Cathedral down passages that I set my
first novel in. Alone in rain as always I walked over my own
stories. On this bench I laid against a guitar with no sleep and
nowhere to live. On this piece of river I had read in the sun,
danced for tourists…. There is a residue of me everywhere in
London. Last night I read of the cathedral in the snow of a spy
novel called the Man Who was Thursday. All of the anarchists are
named after days of the week. I am undercover as a literature post
graduate. I say undercover because on my first day, despite
lavishing the ideas and theories my dull life craved, i haven’t the
intelligence. The class was great; being in a place to learn again
and the lecturer made what seemed confusing on paper, make sense
and make me question the subject more. People with understanding
and enthusiasm of their subject always make me enjoy studying. In the seminar I knew I had to say
something, couldn’t sit at the back and say nothing. But my words
were short and ill educated with no academic terms. Every author
spoken of I have not read. I haven’t even read Dickens! Even Mary
Shelley’s monster had read Milton. The books they are reading for
pleasure I haven’t read either and the course material plus 6 hours
work a day takes up my entire week. I read every night until 1am
making notes I shan’t share. I read Frankenstein. I wanted to prove
my intelligence. Dumbly I enrolled at uni with no money for the
fees and no career goal. I read Jane Eyre aged 10. I stole
Frankenstein and got through the opening letters before getting
caught aged 12. I read Little Women, Wuthering Heights, The Bell
Jar, 1984. I read Frankenstein. I adored Frankenstein. Where will
it ever get me? I’d love to write something on Victorian London or work in archives somewhere.