Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon

I turned 21 on the 27th of July and am hanging on slightly to that new research that suggested adolescence actually ends at 25. I woke up that morning feeling... not so good. It may have been because I've been sleeping upside down for the last month after breaking my bed, but I also tend to feel a little bit sick around my birthday. I don't know why. The days leading up to it, there is an overwhelming sense of pride and extreme self-love. I'm like: "yes. It's nearly my birthday. 27th July. Best date ever. Leos are the best. Lions are the best. Roar roar roar. I'm going to make myself a fucking crown out of gold card. I am a boss" etc etc. But the day itself always begins with an inward groan.

This one was no different. There was a violent knock on the door. A parcel. It took me a second to work out what it was. At first I think someone must have sent me a present. Then I realise it's my graduation photos. I open it. Have a quick look. Am nauseated by the size of my head and then I leave them scattered over my bed and pretend to go back to sleep. My mum comes in, says happy birthday and prays for me with her hand on my head.

I don't get washed and dressed until 2pm. I'm meeting a friend at 4.30pm to watch Dear White People. I've specifically chosen not to go to Hackney Picturehouse even though it's within walking distance for Reasons: 1. It's Hackney, if you get what I mean. 2. The film is called Dear White People, if you get what I mean. 3. I didn't want to get angry on my birthday, if you get what I mean. We go to Picturehouse Central instead. Fewer hipsters but still some shockingly inappropriate laughter. We discuss racism in the UK and America, gesticulating wildly and looking up in exasperation as we cross busy West End roads. Then we end up in front of the Cavalry Museum and sit for ages talking about LIFE, relationships, our younger selves, and rich people with stately homes they can't look after, until we get up and realise we're unable to walk. I get home and realise no one is awake. I cut a small slice of cake, use the bathroom, and get in bed. I look at my phone: it's after midnight. It's not my birthday any more. I groan inaudibly and go to sleep. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The World According To Kanye West

So this 246 page ebook by Wonder Shuttle  and Pxlfctry which is FREE was written 'about' Kanye West. It is more like a collection of his best quotes. It is black and white, and beautiful, and I'm planning to have it bound and given to myself as a graduation gift. After blogging last time about narcissism, and generally having concerns about seeing it in myself, I always surprise myself with my own reaction to Kanye's radical self-love: I fuck with it. Yes, Kanye has a massive ego. But his confidence in his ability and more importantly his potential is actually really inspiring to me. He's a lot more self aware than people give him credit for and I always wonder why people are so offended by his arrogance. I mean, why does it hurt you so much? Is it because he didn't wait for you to call him a genius, and called himself one? Did you want to be the one to raise him up so that you could absolutely destroy him as culture has done to so many other popular prodigious talents in the arts? Kanye was clever, in that he beat everyone to the punch. But I silently pray for him because just like James Baldwin predicted for MJ, I doubt Yeezy will be 'swifly forgiven' for pushing boundaries.

Here are some of my favourite parts from just two sections. I don't want to give the whole thing away. I chose these parts because I loved how Kanye speaks not just about what he's done, but how he can learn and improve. I loved how he speaks about sharing ideas and work openly and not hoarding, which is something I struggle with.

Kanye On Art

I did this film, Runaway. When people see it, they’re moved by the
emotion. They see the emotion, they see the naïveté, in the work I
do, because I’m not trained at all.
If I talk to Spike Jonze about it,
he’ll be like that completely sucked. I’ll talk to just an artist about
it, and they’ll be like that’s my favorite thing. I talked to Takashi
Murakami, he said he cried when he saw it.

I think it takes experience to be a great poet and
communicator, and as life goes on I have more and more
experiences, so hopefully I’ll just get better and better.

We will follow in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Gil Scott-
Heron and Nina Simone. Their work improved with time.
They documented what was happening in culture. That is our
responsibility as the modern day artists and poets, to accurately
represent what is happening now, so when the powers that be
try to rewrite history you can always look at our works and find
truth and sincerity in a world of processed information.

 Kanye on Creative Process

I’m giving all that I have in this life. I’m opening up my
notebook and I’m saying everything in there out loud
. A
lot of people are very sacred with their ideas, and there is
something to protecting yourself in that way, but there’s
also something to idea sharing, or being the person who
makes the mistake in public so people can study that.

I try to get as close to a childlike level as possible because
we were all artists back then. So you just close your eyes
and think back to when you were as young as you can
remember and had the least barriers to your creativity.

You can download the ebook here and donate to the artists here

Viva Mr West!


Monday, 6 July 2015

Unconsummated longing and petty humiliations

I haven't blogged in a while because I thought I was going to do my Masters this year and so I was working on my application. I've decided instead to take a year out, to work, to save money (please David Cameron, make graduate student loans available! agh!!) and to really, seriously focus on improving my writing. Before I ultimately decided to postpone my application, I was writing the personal statement and thinking about what drives me to write and it lead me to read this New Yorker article by Louis Menand on why people keep diaries. He writes a Freudian interpretation featuring the id, the ego, and the superego to theorize why people keep, and ultimately give up, writing diaries. I thought it was fascinating, I don't think I agree with absolutely everything, but I've copied some extracts here. 

The ego theory holds that maintaining a diary demands a level of vanity and self-importance that is simply too great for most people to sustain for long periods of time. It obliges you to believe that the stuff that happened to you is worth writing down because it happened to you. This is why so many diaries are abandoned by circa January 10th: keeping this up, you quickly realize, means something worse than being insufferable to others; it means being insufferable to yourself. People find that they just can’t take themselves seriously enough to continue. [...]

The id theory, on the other hand, states that people use diaries to record wishes and desires that they need to keep secret, and to list failures and disappointments that they cannot admit publicly have given them pain. Diary-keeping, on this account, is just neurotic, since the last thing most people want to do with their unconsummated longings and petty humiliations is to inscribe them permanently in a book. They want to forget them, and so they soon quit writing them down. Most people don’t confess; they repress.

And the superego theory, of course, is the theory that diaries are really written for the eyes of others. They are exercises in self-justification. When we describe the day’s events and our management of them, we have in mind a wise and benevolent reader who will someday see that we played, on the whole, and despite the best efforts of selfish and unworthy colleagues and relations, a creditable game with the hand we were dealt. If we speak frankly about our own missteps and shortcomings, it is only to gain this reader’s trust. We write to appease the father. People abandon their diaries when they realize that the task is hopeless.

I've written a little bit about why I write in a previous post. I write to get to know myself. I write to exorcise painful thoughts. But it is also almost an impulse for me; I must write. To survive. While I can't deny that somewhere in my entries and in the act of keeping a diary (and a blog) lie the threads of narcissism, (and I have tried to be as self aware about it as I can) I feel my objectives in keeping these journals, both on-line and privately, are a result of a  mixture of the id and superego theories. My private journals, especially since I've turned 18 and started writing in earnest, do contain things I would rather nobody ever knew. However, from a very young age I have never been able to shake the feeling that I was writing not just for myself. Maybe it's the way in which many people have come to write diaries: you address it, as though it was a person. You say Dear Diary or you even name it. You write in a conversational voice, like it's a friend, and you're telling it how your day went, or what you're worried about, or sometimes you are confessing and praying you will not be judged. And, I don't know if this is narcissistic or not, or sometimes I suspect it is and then decide I do not care in the slightest (but I do), I imagine somebody in the far future reading it. 

Is it because I'm a woman writing? That I'm so concerned with coming off as narcissistic? I look at the reviews of books like Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be, and see people, particularly men, describing it as self indulgent and narcissistic because a woman is writing about herself and the minutiae of her life. Yet the outpouring and rants of male authors are held up as insights into the human condition.

There are some other articles exploring writing about the self here and here.

Which of the theories, if any, speak to you?


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

That gleam in your eye is so familiar

1. I made a tshirt using an image from Daniel Clowes' Ugly Girls 2.Me in the elevator at Piccadilly Waterstones. I actually hate lifts

Letter from Amelia with new journals. She also sent me Moonrise Kingdom stickers!
After getting nothing but surveys and the occasional postcard of gratitude from Dominos Pizza, it was really cool to get some snail mail from the awesomeness that is Amelia. Thanks! I promise you'll get yours soon, I really need to get my shit together! <3 Getting some mail from the other side of the world is quite exciting and gives me a real desire to write letters and to gain the courage to travel. I got a text from a friend who's on holiday in Tokyo.

I won't lie among the excitement I felt a twinge of envy. I can't even get myself together enough to hop over the channel to go to Disneyland Paris! He's already sent me some photos and told me some stories. Lucky he can handle himself quite well socially. I imagined myself in Tokyo alone and instantly felt anxious. I can't even think about getting a job and having "colleagues" without feeling anxious let alone jetting around the world by myself. I know there's no way "right" to be an "adult" but when I see others doing things and seeming so much more capable and willing to takes risks and have adventures, I can't help feeling a little frustrated with myself.

I looked up the Disneyland Paris prices as I'd really like to spend my 21st birthday there. The tickets are reasonable but to stay in the Disney hotel is almost £1000 dollars for just one night. I know, what the hell, right? But it's so beautiful so magical. I'm actually afraid it could never live up to my expectations. For some reason Disneyland isn't just a glorified theme park in my mind (I'm not alone). Perhaps in reaction to the rapidly approaching adulthood and 'real world', I've regained a real appreciation and fascination for fantasy. I don't have a very good printer so I've just been collecting beautiful images to facilitate my daydreaming. I love the steampunk-esque aesthetic of Meet Me Halfway and The Mummy Returns which are where these images are from. I especially love the airship from The Mummy Returns.

I know you can't see it that well but on the t shirt I'm wearing is the image of King Ludwig II of Bavaria also known as The Swan King, The Dream King, The Fairytale King (and sometimes the Mad King). Not a huge fan of all the obligations that came with kingship, Ludwig focused his energies on the arts, and on building amazing castles like Neuschwanstein, which was the inspiration for the Disney logo and Sleeping Beauty's castle. 

Neuschwanstein Castle

Linderhof Castle
Venus Grotto
The Guglmanner, a secret society who pay tribute to Ludwig every year by carrying a cross to the site where he died. They believe he was killed for political reasons

I've got a bit of a soft spot for dear old Ludwig, he seemed like a beautiful person, if not a little troubled. He died a mysterious death and has devotees to this day who mark the anniversary of his death every year with a trip to the lake where he is said to have drowned. He's fascinating, I promised you! The way he was treated because of his eccentricities was reminded me of the way we treat famous people who are 'different' now. I won't name names, but see who comes to mind.

So this is my life now. Running away from reality as fast as I can. I'm having a good time so far. But the constant pressure from my mum about my future plans, and my decreasing bank balance never fail to bring me regularly back to Earth. Ah well!

How's things?

Screenshots of Black Eyed Peas Meet Me Half Way from Youtube
The Mummy Returns screencaps from here

Friday, 5 June 2015

A murderous desire// Nabokov and Me// Why I write

I wish writing for me was creative in the sense that I do it to create. But if I really take the time to think about it, there is something malevolent and even murderous in my desire to write. Not towards myself, but towards the thoughts and ideas I have. I read, I think things over, I feel things that excite me and very often trouble me, and I write to exorcise those thoughts and feelings. In 'Watt', Samuel Beckett writes 'For Watt, to explain was to exorcise'. I scribble all these things down on the page, and there they die. My journals are graveyards.

I don't know how I feel about this, if I'm honest. I love creation, the idea of creating and the fact that people create and have created the most incredible and inspiring things. But now I'm a little closer to answering that question all wannabe writers should ask themselves: 'Do you want to write, or do you want to have written?' Sometimes for me, it feels like the latter, and that disturbs me.