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Showing posts from January, 2011

Can reality be transcribed? An attempt to put things into words in florid sentences:

After attempting to find an outfit at the Red Cross charity shop for tonight’s bop, I made my way back to college by way of the walled winding Queen’s Lane. The sun was starting to sink and as the sky was a fading blue and the evening birds sang there was something almost like June in the air. As I passed the walls of Queen’s College, the voice of a heroic tenor erupted from one of the windows. A pause. A few steps later, the voice sang a short run, abruptly descending into a tired sigh. After passing the mysterious place where I think the journal Areté might be (where the letters of Milan Kundera are surely addressed) the unmistakable – though surprising - sound of a chord from a full orchestra.

The suddenness of this chord impressed upon me at once the sense of grasping the depth of something which, almost as soon as it was grasped, was gone. This can only be the case of something which happens suddenly. A chord from an orchestra you expect to hear can hardly unveil the same sense of…

Once on this island

Island literature is so wonderfully stagey. Like the murder in the English village, the island is a self-contained playground for certain fantasies to run wild, and for certain conceits to be explored. I wonder who first discovered the island as the fertile ground to explore themes of civilization and degeneration? For characters to perform as a microcosm (a word I learned when reading Lord of the Flies) for society.

I traced my way to The Island of Dr. Moreau backwards: from LOST, to Bioy Casares’ Invention of Morel, to a lecture on mad doctors and vivisection (from which I learned the term apophane, or, cutting the vocal chords of an animal so that the vivisector will not be bothered by the sounds of pain by the subject under the knife), to a Penguin Classic picked up in George’s best used bookstore.

It was an unnerving and unsafe read: chanting beast-people and scientists with questionable ethics are the only companions this narrator can expect to have on a mysterious island after …

Blessed Bookstores

A rainy, blustery day, and just after seeing the cottage of my dreams, a brick ivied house in Jericho, potential residence for next year (sadly unlikely), I popped into Oxfam and found the man of my dreams:



I've been thinking about buying this for at least four months. And this copy was only a tenner, not thirty-five pounds. Consolation, in part, for the cottage.
Henry James anticipating Saussure and much of twentieth century literary theory:

'What's language at all but a convention?' said Isabel. 'She has the good taste not to pretend, like some people I've met, to express herself by original signs.'

- Portrait of a Lady

Time flies

Time flies. It’s 2011, Christmas break is over, New Year was beat in with pots and pans and vuvuzelas, and summer was swapped for winter as I left South Africa and returned to Oxford yesterday. Collections (exams on last term’s work) on Friday, and thus to delay study: time for the year’s review:

The Book:
The half of Cultural Amnesia I read (put on hold) and Janet Frame’s Towards Another Summer

The poem:
W.H. Auden – ‘Fall of Rome’

The Film:
Luca Guadagnino’s Io sono l’amore (I am love), soundtrack by John Adams




The T.V. Show:
LOST (tied with Planet Earth)

The Album
Easy, Joanna Newsom

The signposts:

Shi-Shi, the stars



Kristin & Patrick’s wedding



Laura & Jeremy’s wedding (also known as best dance party of 2010)



A move




A surprise adventure



It’s hard to be excited for 2011. Last year felt full of so much promise. This year holds neither promise nor dread; it’s the blankest of blank.

To-night a scrambling decade ends,
And strangers, enemies and friends
Stand once more puzzled underneath
The sig…