20 July 2009


Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge

"He passed the Clock Tower. The House looked lacy and imposing, more beautiful than fashion granted. Did they spin the web of England's future in that House? Or were they painting camouflage -- a screen, over old England?" -- Galsworthy, "A Modern Comedy" (255).

I've been feeling wretched these last few days. I have days when I'm perfectly fine and then others when everything seems too terribly difficult to deal with, people seem too difficult to deal with. I don't know what has brought on this sudden inability to deal with people, but I need to let my feelings out, even though I will hurt people in the process. Suppressing these feelings only make them more powerful, to the point that when I do let them out, they are very destructive.

I think my main problem is that I question my feelings about people. I'm so unhappy with the actions of some people but I do not know if I am right in thinking so. So much of what I dislike about life I feel are things that I just have to deal with. But for some reason I can't just deal with them anymore.

I'm afraid that most people's apparent personality -- or whatever -- are just a camouflage. How do I know if they have my best interests at heart, when their actions suggest otherwise? And even when people are seemingly kind, I still worry that they will hurt me in some way. I'm too sensitive for my own good. Although, I have developed the ability to be quite mean to them now. Protection? Good-sense?

When you have a mother who acts one way in the morning and a different way in the night -- and you have grown up with this, learned that there are often two different (one good, one not) sides to a human -- you learn not to trust people's seemingly good intentions.

16 July 2009

London, "at the dead hour"

The Embankment, 6:00 AM

"He turned at random to the right along the river. Never in his life had he walked through a great city at the dead hour. Not a passion alive, nor a thought of gain; haste asleep, and terrors dreaming; here and there would be one turning on his bed; perchance a soul passing. Down on the water lighters and barges lay shadowy and abandoned, with red lights burning; the lamps along the Embankment shone without purpose, as if they had been freed." Galsworthy (275)

I really miss London. It was not the best of times, but then it was not precisely the worst of times, either. I miss walking the streets, I miss the people, I miss all those things that are so different from what I have grown up with in the States. There is some consolation in knowing that whenever I travel there again -- even if it is only for a weekend -- I won't feel a tourist, a mere visitor, but as though I am entering another home. I know the streets so well; I can see them clearly in my mind. I remember all the little stores on the Strand, the theatre's in the West End, the cobble stoned side roads that lead to nowhere. I feel a part of me is still in London. It is a wonderful feeling to hold such familiarity with a place, despite ones distance from it.

15 July 2009


Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy

A tallish man was standing the middle of the little room, thin and upright, with a moustache brushed arrogantly off his lips, and a single eyeglass which seemed to have grown over the right eye, so unaided was it. There were corrugations in his thin weathered cheeks, and in his thick hair flecked at the sides with grey. Soames had no difficulty in disliking him at sight. (276-77)


"He called me an attorney," said Soames with a grim smile, "and she called me a liar. I don't know which is worse." (278)

14 July 2009


"Picnics were like Christmas Day, better in the future and the past than in the present." -- Galsworthy (229).

Not one of his better similes, but I like the idea of things turning out better in one's minds eye when both thinking about what it will be like and then some time after how great it was. Somehow the present action of being never lives up to expectations.

Perhaps events are only good when you don't plan them. Anything is better when it just happens, and sometimes you don't realise how great it was until some time after.

12 July 2009


"They say the war killed sentiment," said Soames suddenly: "Is that true?"
"In a way, yes, sir. We had so much reality that we don't want anymore."
"I don't follow you."
"I meant that only reality really makes you feel. So if you pretend that there is no reality, you don't have to feel. It answers awfully well, up to a point." Galsworthy (98)

What to write... I've got nothing. Don't feel the narcissist tonight. Don't want to talk about myself. I would be quite happy only posting quotes from books each day. You'll get more out of them than you will anything I write. So I'll just leave this post as such.

11 July 2009

my desk

"Light-heartedness always made Soames suspicious -- there was generally some reason for it." Galsworthy (178)

I'm going to cheat and not write anything of substance tonight. Not quite different to any night, really. So this is my post.

What Helen has on the desk she is typing on

  • Obviously -- my laptop, apple mac

  • Galsworthy's "A Modern Comedy"

  • The Secret Smile, starring David Tennnant as a stalker obsessed with his ex-girlfriend. A feel good movie.

  • CD by Massive Attack; "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene

  • Harrods tea; a little brown stuffed bear with a straw bonnet (only stuffed animal I have in my room); Loose leaf Coco Truffle tea

  • A complete set (sans one) of Thackeray's books, a green hard back edition from the late 19th century

  • A tea cup that I drink tea out of every night while either watching a movie/television show or playing poker

  • a change purse that I bought in Camden Market in North London in '06 that is currently holding the remaining British change that I own

  • Programs for various shows playing, like DOUBT at the PICT and shows at the Symphony Hall

  • A card from the White House that my grandfather received in 1951 to attend a "Highway Safety Conference". He was then Mayor of Canton, Ohio

  • A card reminding me that I have an eye appointment this Wednesday

  • Tylenol, allergy medication, nasal spray, Clearasil ultra, Halls throat lozenges, makeup remover

  • Post-it Notes

  • A paper-weight with London landmarks on it (the eye, big ben, london bridge)

  • A slew of books on the Bronte's (Juliet Barker bio; Villette; Jane Eyre; guide book of the parsonage that I bought when I visited; The Bronte Myth by Lucasta Miller; The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Oxford Companion to the Bronte's; a collection of letters).

  • Other books displayed: The Good Life, a philosophy book bought for Grant's class; Possession by A. S. Byatt; Lucy Gayheart by Willa Cather; Shopgirl by Steve Martin

10 July 2009

mechanized world

"Mechanism! Everywhere -- mechanism! Devices for getting away from life so complete that there seemed no life to get away from." Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy (134)

I'm feeling a bit anxious today, and head-achy, and just a general sense of having nothing to look forward to. I should have gone somewhere today.

Instead, I stayed at home and mucked about on the Internet for much longer than should be humanly possible. Watched EastEnders, a trashy British soap that I originally hated -- poor acting, poor quality in every respect -- but that I kept watching as it is the highest rated soap and I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Now I'm obsessed with it, and, luckily (?) for me, can watch it on youtube. This would not have been possible even 3 years before now. I can watch many British shows on youtube. The BBC often takes them down, but someone else puts them up. Do I feel bad about this? Not nearly as much as I probably should. But the "age" is changing. Soon everything will be online, and we'll probably have to pay to watch telly online instead of or along with a monthly cable bill. Of course, what is worse about watching British T.V. online on youtube for free is that even to watch television in Britain you have to pay a standard television license fee. This is not a cable bill. This is a, rather hefty, fee one must pay each year in order to even hook up ones television to a cable line, or to watch real live television on the computer. Although, I suspect that it is less than what we Americans pay, in total, a year for cable. So, now, anyone in Britain can catch their shows for free on youtube. This is bad, yeah? I'm more a "power to the people" sort of girl. I'm sure the wonderful corporate world of television will find some way to squeeze money from our pockets.

Watched a great many other things on youtube, played poker, listened to British radio shows.

I feel that I should feel bad for not having a job, but I am completely immune to people's insistence that I have a job. I choose this pleasurable break from the social mechanical life I have lived and will at some point need to live again. School. That's your whole life when you are young. What a fucking waste too, to learn about the ways of this horrible world we are forced to live in. Oh, watch out, a little pessimistic are we? Yeah. A late adolescent phase is what I am going through right now.

I prefer the pleasurable side of this mechanical world we live in, television, arts transmitted on screen; rather than the solidifying, automaton existence of the 9-5, week-day world.

09 July 2009

reality shows are the new Shakespearean plays

"If only life were like 'The idiot' or 'The Brothers Karamazov,' and everybody went about turning out their inmost hearts at the tops of their voices!" -- Galsworthy (133)

I have something of a headache after watching Kenneth Branagh's HAMLET, reading both the words at the bottom of the screen and watching the action above.

Funny, but I didn't realize until now how HAMLET compares to the quote above. It is the fact that Shakespeare's characters so often speak their mind (and at that, in very heated decimals) about their feelings or thoughts at any particular moment, usually when no one is about, that makes his plays a bit difficult to translate from stage to screen. Perhaps no Shakespeare play can be correctly produced for the screen without those moments when one thinks -- "Well, this does not quite work." Soliloquies are a bit jarring. Even, I would hazard, when seen on stage. None of us stop what we are doing at work or home in the middle of the day and exclaim out loud some very long and well rhymed speech.

Exposing ones heart. I was thinking this form seen so literally in Shakespeare's play was dead. Perhaps movies express through action more than words what a character is feeling, but in real life we still have that need to explain ourselves and to be heard. Certainly, the reality shows of today thrive on self-expression. Big Brother and The Real World, two of the first, in which people are forced into what become overly dramatised social situations with others and then enter a small room, with only a camera, to talk, essential to themselves, about others, and their thoughts and feelings.

So there we have it. Reality shows are the new Shakespearean plays.

"O horrible, O horrible, most horrible!"

08 July 2009

2:00 am, London, a man cuts his hair

A young English man is cutting his hair on camera at 2:00 am in Trafalgar Square in London, while standing on a very high plinth (marble raised stage of sorts). From July 6th until October there will be a new person every hour for 24 hours, seven days a week doing this, and you can watch the action live, anywhere, here. There are people heckling the man right now. (Can't wait to see what the atmosphere is like at this time on a Saturday night). Two bobbies have the unfortunate duty of standing around the plinth. Bright lights illumine the "stage." One is hoisted to this precipice on a machine. Several cameras hung on the plinth show the people on the stage and the people around the area. It is all live, so there is a disclaimer that the site isn't responsible for untoward happenings.

Heckler: "Dude, why are you cutting your hair?"
"Well, I had a lot, but now I want less." -- "Is that a brass band over there?"
There is a jazzy band playing near the area, that you can hear (everything is mic'ed). At 2:00 am. On a Wednesday night. A lot of traffic in the background, as though it is 2:00 in the afternoon, not 2:00 in "the dead of night." Horns blazing every once in a while. You can't see them, but you know when busses pass. Like any major city, London is a city that never sleeps.

Heckler: "Is that candy, man?"
"Yeah, I brought this to soothe hecklers."
Heckler: "I want yellow."
"I can't tell if this is yellow or something else."
Heckler 2: "I want green!"
"Green where, I can't see because of the lights." -- "I'm going to start some riot up here." As he throws the candy over the trampeeze like wiring surrounding the plinth so no participant jumps to their death.
Man on plinth: "What colour?" -- "Yellow, yeah?"
"Can I throw one back?
Man on plinth: "Has it been on the floor?" -- "I don't know what I'm going to do with it once you chuck it."
Man on plinth: "It's gone off the other edge. A weak catch. A weak throw actually." -- "Oh, they bounce, who knew?"
One man wants more. "But I threw you three jelly beans." -- "No, I haven't got a mirror." -- "You're not feeling very confident about my new look?"

"Tell us something true," another man asks him.
"I actually quite liked my hair. Is that a good look? I actually quite liked my hair," he say's louder for those who can't hear him. -- "That is true. All right."

Someone tells him thank you. "See, see, he's open to it. He likes it."

This is considered art. Post-modern art? I would say we're even beyond that now. Is this art? I don't know. But I think it is interesting, which all art should be. It has a decidedly reality T.V. component to it. Open venue for criticism. What daring it must take to go up there if you aren't the kinda person who likes to be on "stage" (hair cutting/jelly bean throwing man admits on his profile that he is terrified to do this) especially at 2:00 am when the only people out are club and pub crawlers.

One of the "audience" just caught a jelly bean in his mouth.

07 July 2009

thought vs fact, part deux

Fleur. "She could see herself sitting there, a picture in the firelight; see how lonely she looked, pretty, pathetic, with everything she wished for, and -- nothing! Her lip curled. She could even see her own spoiled-child ingratitude. And what was worse, she could see herself seeing it -- a triple-distilled modern, so subtly arranged in life-tight compartments that she could not be submerged." -- A Modern Comedy, Galsworthy, 138

I am only writing tonight's post so I can post a quote. Wanted to provide two, but then thought that it would be too much, that if someone were actually reading this they wouldn't continue. Too many words in this age is lethal.

I want to return to my post re: thought and fact.

One, I don't think there is a creator, but rather that our existence depends on not knowing the whole truth of what we call life. There may be some omniscient presence that has dictated our existence and this presence, for lack of a better term, has staked our existence on never figuring out "what it is all about." If we were to find it out, we would die within that instant. So clever is this presence against our knowing, that it has created a mirage of truth that we take as real, which is only true as we see the life we have created to be true, but in a larger spatial reality is not valid.

Our idea of truth has been disputed over the years, such as Ptolemy's notion that the earth is the center so that the sun and planets are destined to circle round it, later disputed by Copernicus's Heliocentric model. As Ptolemy's notion of reality was incorrect, so is ours of many other notions that, once we discover more, if we discover more, we will learn is not, as it were, "the whole truth and nothing but the truth."


I don't quite know if that makes any sense, but these are my thoughts at the moment, based entirely on nothing but my own imagination. Not something to hold up in court.

06 July 2009

"If one possesses a thing securely, one need never use it"

Don't have much to write tonight. Did write a long rant, but have deleted it. I can't allow myself to think so negatively.

Anyway, the quote in the title is from The End of the Affair by Graham Greene.

05 July 2009

thought v.s. fact -- round one

I am determined to write one post a day here, but don't have much to write. I am tired, a bit sunburnt after having spent the weekend in the country for the fourth.

I keep thinking about my creative writing teacher telling me that my writing is too introspective. Not enough description of people and action details. My writing is too thoughtful, philosophical. It would be nice if I could branch out into a more narrative form, but don't particularly care to. I feel like then it would not be me. Anyway, I don't want to be a novelist.

That I think too much about things instead of just seeing the world as it is -- wondering why that man walks every day from 6:00 - 7:00, instead of just describing him (weak example, but you get the point), does say a lot about me, I suppose. I live more within myself than in the "real" world. Am I trying to escape life? A bit, maybe. It seems we're all into that, and use all sorts of devices to do so, television, drugs, obsessions with new crazes that fill in those gaps in our life that we don't quite know how otherwise to fill. But also, it is easy to describe something, not quite so easy to look at that thing abstractly. Many people do the former -- in life, in todays fictional works.

Simplicity is the trademark of our generation. Perhaps of every generation. The Victorians may have thought the early twentieth century, with its introduction of the (better constructed) car, radio, television, an easier, and perhaps scarier, mode of living.

Maybe we think too much about things. Maybe we want to get away from that. Just show how things are. Facts. Science. No more wondering what things are -- we find out what they are, give an explanation to them. Pretty soon there will be no mystery to life. We will have figured it all out.

It is my thought that whatever we think life is -- using our scientifc tests -- is not actually what life is. That whoever created us, if such a creator exists, set up a mirage of truth that we consider real but in actuality is not even near it.


Thinking is good. Dreaming. Making up. We all have to have some mystery to life. Some difficulties, not everything can be so simple. There would be nothing to live for, otherwise. Life is only worth living if we make something unique out of it.

Nope, I haven't a clue where I'm going with this. Perhaps I'll come back tomorrow and try to narrow it down. (Try to create some sort of solid, final argument that makes sense in realistic terms as is our need as human beings).

Okay, that's the thing. By pinning it down, do we lose its essence? By trying to create a cohesive argument about this idea between reality in thought and fact, will I then lose a part of its reality? I think so. That is why I have recently found it so hard to write literary essays. Because not everything can be included, unless it flows, unless the reader can follow your thought(s). This is considered important, and so it is, for your reader to understand what you are writing, but I think in our endeavour to make others understand, to pin down the reality, we lose a part of it -- perhaps the very part that makes it real, so that what we are left with is a half-constructed (although seemly well created), semi-real (although considered wholly realistic) argument.

02 July 2009

"between the hours of two and four"

"...only that tendency, inherited from his father, James, to lie awake between the hours of two and four, when the chrysalis of faint misgiving becomes so readily the butterfly of panic, had developed his uneasiness." 31

I've woken in "the dead of night" feeling an immediate and sharp hatred of myself. Something about the alienation of this time, promoted by darkness, seems to expose our inner demons.

I love when reading passages like the above. Galsworthy has a wonderful gift, demonstrating in not so many words a very immense feeling/idea. Although succinctly, not simply. He does not simply relate, "When Soames is awake between two and four in the morning he feels great misgivings" -- as I would hazard is the method of most authors today. Even the greatest authors of our time are so very simple in their prose. There is no beauty in the words written today. Many will disagree with me. Granted, it depends on what type of style of writing you prefer.

I believe the greatest literature proves a complex thought or feeling with lyrical (not necessarily flowery or overly adorned) language that also has the seemingly contradictory feat of using expression in a realistic -- i.e. deconstructive -- manner.

01 July 2009


Galsworthy, A Modern Comedy

"Wilfrid! His collar up to his ears, a cigarette between his lips, hands in pockets, eyes devouring." 18


"Fleur stood quite still, her chin on the collar of her fur, her clear-glancing eyes fixed on his face, her lips set and mutinous." 103