when people in a debate says “i concur” you know you’ve lost

things i think about when i think about alt-lit.
always include references to things you like, or anti-like, or likes ironically – but not sincere irony, because that would be tacky.
if possible, never write about anything explicitly vulgar. we are living in a civilized millennial environment, where safe space is a real thing. if you ever come near my comfort zone without my knowing i will sell you to the police.
the hardest part of writing alt-lit is that microsoft word is trying to autocorrect. part of the fun is that you never use capital letters. this means that you have to revise the first word of every sentence and you have to correct the upper case i’s literally all the time. you should omit punctuation too – and if you must use it, don’t use it correctly; or use it as liberal as you want. there are no police here (yet)*
i am using punctuation badly, but it’s there. that is my form of rebellion i guess.
the literature you should read should be self published, or just screen grabs of the internet. try to misuse words that are already overused for the sake of using an overused word. examples of these words include: “literally”
“like”
“gmail chat”
“2010”
“miranda july”
“the pale king is inferior to…”
“introvertism”
“kitsch”
“post-meme-deepweb-realism”
“the next day we had whale”
do you see what i did there.
that was actually a question, but i just can’t be bothered to include a question mark. quotation marks and parenthesizes are used regardless.
here i would if i where you apply a reference to something that I think is more obscure than what it actually is. i feel like sharon carter, dodging the trainwreck that is michael ‘berg’ bergen (1998-2001)
actually you can just change the autocorrect issue in a settings tab, so now it’s not a big deal anymore.

anyway, this has been my review of audun mortensen and his influenced writing based on tao lin
i have a sneaking suspicion mortensen doesn’t even use gmail chat
here follows alt-lit poems i wrote just now

i could be a decent beekeeper if i outgrew my crippling fear of white suits

sometime i cant help but wonder if sarah jane would be a better feminist if the doctor didn’t go to metebilis iii

the plural of žižek is most likely žižex

>i’m so sorry for not attending your birthday party
something came up (my life) and i had to handle it (postponing to start reading proust)

Who is Rosemary’s baby?

Rosemary's baby

 

The reason why it took me so long to watch Rosemary’s Baby – I will tell you quite honestly – is because I was afraid to. I was afraid I might not be able to take it, that the movie simply would be too scary for me. I never used to be a horror movie fanatic, I should say. I had heard rumours about the movie, rumours that this movie was in fact one of the scariest movies made, up there with The Shining, The Thing, and The Exorcist. I had seen The Shining and rather enjoyed it (I was all the while thinking well this isn’t too scary, what’s the fuzz about?) I liked The Shining, it was scary (scary in a good way), so why I still had doubts about Rosemary’s Baby, I couldn’t say.

As with so many great movies through history, Rosemary’s Baby also started out as a book. It was written by Ira Levin, published in 1967, and this book was recently assigned reading for the course I was taking at university. Suddenly I had no way around it. I was relieved it was the book, though, as reading something scary is not completely the same as seeing something scary. (This statement is obviously open for debate. There’s a sense of having something forced upon you in seeing something scary that is not present in reading, for example.) As I had no idea what was awaiting me in the book, plot wise, the terror/horror ratio, what type of terror/horror it handled etc., I thought that by first reading the book, I would at least have some sort of armoring with me if ever I chose to see the movie. (Besides, it`s always better to have read the book first. Always.)

So I read the book, and I watched the movie. I liked them both. I didn’t get inordinately scared by them, but I did get to the point where I had to put my hands before my eyes in the movie, and I was definitively puzzled by some of the aspects of the novel. Several questions arose in my head, opinions formed, and this here text will try to present one of them to you. (Before you move on, let me just say, be aware there might be spoilers (I really am not good at this stuff), and that having read/seen the novel/movie would be, regardless of level of spoilers in the text, beneficial to you. But as always, I don`t really care. Do as you wish. There, it`s done, now move on on your on responsibility.)

After having read the book, what strikes me the most is the title. To me, the title (Rosemary’s Baby, to be clear) has been around a long time, I’ve known about it, and have had a somewhat idea of what it represents to me before having actually familiarised myself with the novel. But having read it, the title has attained new meaning to me. It is not just “some title” popularised by Polanski’s famous horror movie anymore; it contains significance that is important to the novel. The title mystifies, depersonalises, belittles and makes arbitrary who Rosemary’s baby actually is. We know, after reading the novel, Rosemary’s baby is in fact the antichrist. Then why didn’t Levin simply call his book The Antichrist, or Antichrist, or something to that effect? Because if Levin had done this, the ambiguity (the mystery) as to who the protagonist is, would not exist, as it does now. With naming it Rosemary’s Baby readers are left contemplating who they should emphatise with, who to root for, as it were. The most obvious answer to these question is immediately Rosemary. (No sympathy for the Devil). She is after all in the title itself! But, it should be emphatised that while, yes, Rosemary is the only name in the title, it is not Rosemary that is the main focus in the title; it is in fact her baby. It is not about Rosemary as much as it is about her baby. If Levin would have the reader believe Rosemary to be the main protagonist, would it not have been easier to simply call the book Rosemary?

Now don’t get me wrong, I should point out that I do believe Rosemary to be the protagonist. In fact, there really is no doubt about that, and saying something else would be outright wrong. I will, however, stick to my previous argument and try to better explain it by putting it differently; the pains and the suffering she goes through during her pregnancy should all be attributed to her baby. We must agree on this. Without him, Rosemary would be an ordinary pregnant soon-to-be mommy, which would make it extraordinarily hard for Levin to establish and produce empathy toward her, extensively making the writing of this novel oddly somewhat frivolous. Without Rosemary, the baby would not exist, without the baby, Rosemary`s suffering (and therefore her significance) would not exist. Rosemary is, as it were, stuck between this earthly world and the unknown supernatural world where witches have taken control over her presence in this earthly world. (Having written this, I feel like a true asshole, a giant sexist. It sounds as if I am saying Rosemary is not important had it not been for her suffering, and her ability to carry forth the antichrist. While this is on one hand correct, it is simultaneous incrrect. I hope you are able to see my underlaying point here. The underlaying point is that there would probably not be written a book about “an ordinary pregnant woman”, because she would be, in and of itself, ordinary. A book about “an ordinary pregnant woman” would not be, I hope we can agree on, as exciting to read. Remember, Rosemary is stuck between two worlds. This is an interesting handling of any gendered individual. And, as we shall see, she is treated very badly by the people around her, too.)

So of course, Rosemary is not completely irrelevant. The next point I want to make is slightly more connected with the text. (We`ll see about that.) The title suggests that this is in fact Rosemary’s baby, and only hers; it it not the Castevets, nor Guy’s baby, it is Rosemary’s. This is interesting because if there is a character in the book who is opposed to the baby, it is Rosemary! Well, no, don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t go so far as to say she is opposed to it, that would be wrong. The circumstances in which Rosemary gets pregnant is immensly important in this aspect, and worth a look at. You see, she is the one who keeps trying to talk Guy into getting her pregnant, that this time in their life is the best time etc. But Guy wants to wait. He wants to be a bit more securely positioned in his acting career, something that Rosemary respects to a certain degree. It comes to a point where she is sick of waiting, but she never acts out so much so that she forces Guy to get her pregnant. But Guy suddenly changes his mind, and tells Rosemary that now, now is the perfect time. The planned evening, however, Rosemary becomes ill and doesn’t feel up to much after dinner. (It should be noted that the dessert they eat is something given to them by Minnie Castevet, and arguably (probably) contains some sort of chemicals engineered to make Rosemary pass out. And Guy, of course, knows. Let`s not forget, he is inn on everything the Castevets do.) Guy rapes Rosemary in her drug-induced sleep. Everything goes according to (the Castevets’s) plan. Although Rosemary expresses some doubt and sceptisism towards Guy’s rape, she does not assert any consequences toward him. Nor does it appear that she gets any hunch of what his agenda is. She’s happy that she finally is pregnant. However, when the baby keeps growing inside her, she starts feeling pain. The doctor she goes to says not to worry, the pain will go away shortly. But they don’t. They stay with her for weeks, for months. She is definitely the only one doubting and questioning what is going on with her pregnancy, wanting to get a second opinion on her pains etc. This is what I mean when earlier I said she is opposed to her pregnancy. The doctor she goes to, Dr. Sapirstein (recommended by the Castevets, keep in mind), and her (so-called) friends and family all tell her it will go over, that she has nothing to worry about, when in fact, they are all smiling behind her back, hardly not being able to wait for the it’s birth. It’s all going according to the Castevets’s plan. They have tried before, with Terry, who understood what was going on, and decided that killing herself was a better fate.

But The Castevets wouldn’t let that happen to Rosemary; they kept good care of here. As we know, they were able to talk Guy and also the first doctor, Dr. Hill, to their side. (If they weren’t already on their side, of course. This is a possibility open to argument, but I shall not dwell upon for the moment being.) At the end, when the little child is born and put in a cradle (Rosemary, of course, being under sedating during the whole ordeal), Roman Castevet is even able to talk Rosemary to their side. Well, that’s what it seems like, at least. Let’s stop for a second and examine the ending. To me it seems to be two possible reason why Rosemary decides to go against her primary impulses and, rather than shunning the anti-christ child from her life, decides to taking care of him; 1. the power of love is stronger than evil; Rosemary looks past the fact that her son is the anti-christ and chooses to be a good mother to him, and treat him as she would any other child, or, 2. the power of evil is stronger than love; the Castevets’s power is too immense, and Rosemary has successfully been infused with the same poison of evil that Guy and Dr. Hill have been.

My natural and immediate reaction upon reading the book, is that number one is the correct one. Here follows a selection of quotes from the end of the novel, from which I draw my conclusion. (This is the part where I thought my point would become slightly more text-relevant.) I take them from the edition published by Corsair, with an introdution by Chuck Palahniuk, from 2011 (pictured above?):
“Why don’t you help us out, Rosemary, be a real mother to Adrian …” (Says Roman Castevet, p. 222)

“No, she couldn’t throw him out the window. He was her baby, no matter who the father was. What she had to do was go to someone who would understand. Like a priest. Yes, that was the answer; a priest. It was a problem for the Church to handle. For the Pope and all the cardinals to deal with, not stupid Rosemary Reilly from Omaha. Killing was wrong, no matter what.” (P. 225)
“`Rock Him,´ Roman said to Rosemary, smiling. He moved the bassinet back and forth towards her, holding it by the hood. She stood still and looked at him. `You’re trying to – get me to be his mother,´ she said. `Aren’t you His mother?´ Roman said.” (P. 226)

“Roman said. `His name is Adrian Steven.´ Rosemary said, `I understand why you’d like to call him that, but I’m sorry; you can’t. His name is Andrew John. He’s my child, not yours, and this is one point that I’m not even going to argue about. …” (P. 228)

The thing to notice in this selection of quotes, is how Rosemary first hesitates, then re-evaluates. First she does not want to be his mother; her impulsive decision is to ignore the child, to not be a part of his life. But after Castevet points out that she is in fact his mother, she seems to re-evaluate.

Also, the fact that she insists upon his name being Andrew John and not Adrian Steven suggests that Rosemary is in possesion of her own sovereignty the whole time and her desicion is not an impuslive one, one that she wants to get over and done with. It is a competent and thought through choice. She chooses herself to act as hs mother.

Maybe this conclusion is derived from me being too naive, idealistic and romantic, but this is my opinion anyway and there really is not alot I can do about that.

I’m glad I did watch the movie after reading the novel. The movie is an important input in the cinematic history in many ways. What I immediately reacted upon was how the movie lies very close to the novel. Polanski doesn’t seem to take very many artistic liberties with it. This is both a good and a not-so-good thing. (An example of a movie where artistic and creative liberties have been taken, would be The Shining. It is very different from the book. But I won’t dwell on them here. We are approaching quite a different subject, one concerning the difference between an adaption and an interpretation of a book, a very interesting subject mind you, but not one fit for this here post.) This here post is hereby finished. Thanks for reading.

~ Milk

Guest Lecture: American Idiot: Political Rock Opera? Rock Opera? Brilliant? Overrated????

In 2004 Green Day released their multi-platinum selling rock-opera American Idiot. It’s the band’s second best-selling album after the 1994’s major label debut Dookie. The album is both loved and hated and put them back in the mainstream after years of commercial flops. The album won a Grammy and inspired a Broadway musical, which will also be made into a screen version. The album is known for its socio-political imagery and has been said to capture the zeitgeist of Bush-era America.

I think the rock opera format is interesting as it gives an album a dramaturgic or narrative angle as a whole, and many bands and artists have tried it. Most notable are probably David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime*, Rush’s 2112, Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia. A problem with the format is that it often gets way too pretentious and overly pompous, and often lose the original spirit of rock n’ roll. Sometimes the overly ambitious story might sabotage the songwriting. Done well, however, rock operas can be great and make the listener appreciate a story in addition to the music.

*Operation Mindcrime might be more of a concept album than a rock opera.

Back to American idiot.

Is American Idiot a political rock opera? Is it even a rock opera? I’m not going to look too much into the latter at the moment, but it could probably be questioned. I feel like we should take this quote with a grain of salt, being from a Green Day fan-page, but I’ll include it anyway: “2004 was a year of conflicting views(sic) and political statements. Green Day were adding their on self-certified speech to a declining nation. Creating a product of retaliation, unearthing a fresh new source of backlash from a country swamped in scrutiny. As a band of authority, Green Day weren’t lying down to big ego’s (sic) or presentential(sic) stronghold. A feature so potent in American Idiots underskin. Green Day disapproved of their government(sic), and a catalogue fuled(sic) in profound belief(sic) and superioty(sic) would change a Country and a band forever. « I would say that there is no doubt that songs like the title track and “Holiday” are political statements. Vocalist Billie Joe utters as he introduces the song in Milton Keynes 2005: “This song is not Anti-American, It’s Anti-war!!!!!”. The legendary, merciless music reviewer Robert Christgau views war as one of the issues that the album references (“War (Not any special war, just war”). Christgau later goes on to say about the whole album: “There’s no economics, no race, hardly any compassion». “ and he’s right. In my opinion neither “American idiot” (The song) nor “Holiday” offer any real ideas and are both just random political musings and half-baked statements (“I don’t want to be an American idiot” and often trying really hard to offend (“Zieg Heil to the president gasman”/”Subliminal mind fuck America”). The songs are also quite detached from the actual story in the rock opera and to me seems a bit misplaced on the album as a whole.

Outside of the politics, I think a lot of the songs are a bit weak and depends too much on obvious theft. Quite a few songs border on plagiarism. I would also say it’s quite an overrated album. The songs that are great are, however, really great, “Whatshername” is a perfect ender and really makes a perfect finish to the actual story as well as being an incredibly beautiful song. It starts “I thought I ran into you down on the street/ Then it turned out to only be a dream”. The Whatsername character, as seen in a dream by the protagonist of the story, brings on the entire story and the entire album would not make sense if it weren’t for the song. In that regard it also starts with the end.

The actual story is also pretty good and might hold up better than the music does. Even if the story also borrows a lot from the Who’s rock opera: Quadrophenia. Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong even made a joke or a prediction that they were going to make a rock opera about a guy named Jimmy, an obvious reference to the Who, in an interview from 1993, before they had even made it into the mainstream. The huge difference is that Jimmy is the main protagonist of Quadrophenia and St. Jimmy is one of the other characters in American Idiot. I’m not much of a fan of Quadrophenia as an album, but it’s actually one of my favorite movies. The title is a play on the word “Schizophrenia”, meaning splitting of the mind and bases on the misconception that it means split personality, ”Quadrophenia” means in the rock opera that Jimmy’s mind is split in four. The connection is that it’s often assumed that St. Jimmy is just a part of the main protagonist in American Idiot also known as “The Jesus of Suburbia”’s(Taken from “The Buddha of Suburbia”) split personality. Still St. Jimmy seems even more destructive than Jimmy, and in the “Jesus of Suburbia” music video he resembles a Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols member) inspired character, making him some sort of Punk Rock version of the troubled Mod. In Quadrophenia, Jimmy drives his Vespa off a cliff into the ocean, while in the Green Day song “Homecoming”: “Jimmy died today, he blew his brains out into the bay” and the Jesus character continues, “In the state of mind/ It’s my own private suicide”. This connection is maybe my favorite part of American Idiot. Later in the song, the Jimmy character is gone and “Jesus is filling out paper work now”. Jesus has now gotten a job and left the life behind him and daydreams of something better.

The reason Jesus seem to move on is that the girl he is in love with sends him a letter bomb saying that nobody likes him and she certainly doesn’t seem to either.  The girl is Whatsername from the song with the same name. It’s uncertain whether he actually refers to her as Whatsername when they are together or if that’s how he refers to her in retrospect, it is said that they all call her “ol’ Whatsername”(“She’s a Rebel”), but in the song “Whatsername”, he claims to have forgotten her actually name and forgotten all about her, yet seeing her in a dream makes the basis for the entire story told. Outside of “Whatsername”, “She’s a Rebel”, “Extraordinary Girl”, “Letter Bomb” and “Homecoming” are all about her, it seems. “She’s a Rebel” and “Extraordinary Girl” shows Jesus/Jimmy’s love or fascination for her as a person and a fighter for her beliefs, while “Letter Bomb” and “Homecoming” are about her leaving him. “She’s a Rebel” is also the song where the imagery of the album cover comes from “She’s holding on my heart like a hand grenade”. In “Letter Bomb”, she seems to be the one to tell him “You’re not the Jesus of Suburbia/ St. Jimmy is a figment of/ your father’s rage and your mother’s love”, establishing once again that St. Jimmy really doesn’t exist.

I definitely think that the story between the split personality or identity crisis ridden character and Whatsername is a far more interesting angle than the political aspect, which is slim, if it exists at all. Still as far as politics and social commentary goes, if we can distinguish a difference there, I would say that the rock opera (especially in songs like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “Letter bomb” which discuss divorce, drug use and commercialism) are much more of a comment on the situation, thus captures the spirit of the times in the Bush-era America than it offers any ideological points or solution to the observed issues. That being said, the reason it captures this particular time is because it was released in it, the war in “Holiday” as Christgau mentioned is not talking about a specific war, and unless we are relating “idiot” to George W. Bush, I wouldn’t say there is actually that much to go on if one is to claim the album is restricted to take place in the Bush-era. I think, it being an opera and all, the album would be more interesting if it had a libretto (a book attached to the album), but then again that might ruin the imagination the songs themselves produce. I think maybe the most positive part of the rock opera is that it actually does tell a story, and a pretty good, relatable story too!, unlike so many other rock operas, including American Idiot’s successor 21st Century Breakdown, where it’s unclear there even is a story. In spite of my slight negativity when it comes the album, I’m actually going to see the musical in Stockholm! So I’m looking forward to that.

~Labbetøs

 

***
Thank you so much for the insightful article on American Idiot, and for being our guest lecturer. I hope we’ll see more of your stellar work again sometime.
– Peanut.

 

 

Possessive Aggressive

I left the house on a Wednesday (If you feel like you need to know the day). I then drove the car to a store-it garage just outside Chinatown.  The rest of the trip was going to be strictly on foot. No rides, no hitchhiking or transports.  I guess piggybacks would be OK, but only if I’m asked I guess.

On my epic quest for self-discovery I met some girls. They were pretty. One of them had a skirt and a top, but you could clearly see the belly. Around her bellybutton she had a tattoo of a narwhale. I asked the girl why she had a narwhale on her belly.

“It a piercing animal” she said, and gave me the old ‘are-you-stupid-you-old-cunt’ look. The girl next to her laughed, and lightly tapped her tattoo, as to make it wobble. “Look, it’s dancing”. We laughed.
“Are you locals?” I knew they were. Anyone is this damn city are locals. I know that’s an obvious remark – but I mean that they are locals in the mind, and in their appearance and in their way of living.
“We live @ the trailer park, but right now we are evicted.” The tattoo less girl said to me. “We live together, her and I”.
“I think you mean “she and I.”” I said, immediately regretting it. “Stupid, stupid, stupid”. Truth been told, I do not even know the first thing about grammar. Grammer?

“Are you for real, old boy? Nerds like you need to chill the fuck out. ”The tattooless girl smiled condescendingly, and put her hand down her skirt. She retrieved it, but now she had a small bottle in her hand. She began drinking it, and shared with her tattooed roommate.  “It’s gin.” “The best kind.” I looked at the bottle. It was called “Gin-ie in a bottle, baby” and had a picture of a Genie with starry eyes and an electric guitar. “You should have some.”
“Should I really?” I thought. I haven’t been drinking for ages. But then again, it wasn’t like I was going to drive anywhere, so I answered. “Yes please”. I think I paused to think for too long. Mere seconds later, I was given the bottle. They nodded in a way that said that I could have some, but not too much -just enough to warm my body. Their eyes followed the bottle, greedily watching my every move with their now runny eyes complimented by their red cheeks and pale lips. I felt like kissing them with my gin soaked lips. Especially the tattooed girl.

My stride had to continue. Besides, I was really cold, and I had to keep moving. Always moving. Always getting farther. I bode the girls farewell, and thanked them profusely for the swig. I have always felt that gin clears my head. The air feels more airy after a small sip. A small amount like that shouldn’t really make any difference, but then again, I almost never drink anymore.

The city was busier further down the block. Some dodgy youngsters stood on a corner wearing what I assume to be a gang identifiable outfit. They all had basic colored clothes, but with purple accents, be it their shoes, belts or bandanas. The old me would be terrified to even look in their general direction. Now however, it didn’t seem so distressing. Not that I would go over and tell them to fuck themselves, I would never do that, but I could, if I wanted to.

**********************************************************************

This soulful wandering down the city – it’s been done so many times before in books he liked. The bitterness of not being original in any aspect of his life, whilst he was desperately trying to be, slowly drained his childhood cheerfulness. In addition, being this self-shallowed; it’s such an outdated thing.

**********************************************************************

Some cars drove slowly past me. It was, as if they wanted to take some time when driving past. Looking at me, analyze the type of man I am. They don’t know me. For all they know, I could be the son of the President, or an unstable maniac baiting in people with my small and insecure body, for only to lurch at them with a knife. But I don’t have a knife anymore. I don’t have anything.

“The fewer the possessions you have, the freer you are” was an outstanding quote I once read. I can’t remember where, but it spoke to me. I can never tell anyone that I get feely by quotes of that standard. Personally, I despise people who live by motivational and inspirational quotes. It is simply beneath me. I wish I read books instead of keeping myself alive by remembering cheap quotes.

It got colder now. Luckily, my jacket was padded, and the cold night breeze bounced off the gore-texy fabric. I should have brought along a scarf or a beanie. Oh well. A slight cold won’t matter. I’ll just keep on walking. Somewhere must be better than this place. Fresh beginnings and so on…

The streets became less crowded with parked cars, benches and other items that you usually see in city centers. Despite getting colder, the air felt fresher. WAITAMINUTE! Have I really so little to ponder? The air quality and the temperature? I’m supposed to have this life changing experience, where I denounce all my possessions and leave to explore the world with my own eyes, and all I can grasp to think about is the weather? I should be having complex philosophical and poetic thoughts and discussions with myself. If I only read books.

  • I’m Kerouac
  • I’m Thoreau
  • I’m Supertramp McCandless
  • I’m Rousseau.

It’s been awhile since I talked to the girls. The narwhale girl was the prettiest, even though girls without tattoos generally are more beautiful. It’s more of a healthy choice to abstain from ink. Would it be lame if I went back and asked her for a date? Yes.

**********************************************************************

For the first time this evening he took a cigarette up from his pocket, and lit it with a cheap gas station lighter. He adjusted his jacket, and if one were around to see him, like the old Chinese woman who stood by her door, you’d see he was slightly shivering. The Chinese woman probably took him for a meth-head or someone jacked up on alcohol. He did have a swig of gin, so she wasn’t complelty in the wrong. Mysterious psychic Chinese lady. How spooky.

**********************************************************************

The moon is up, and I’ve walked at a partly leisurely, partly busy pace without any stops for several hours. I’m way past the city. From now on there’ll be forests, hills, ponds, bridges and fields. I can breathe. I can talk loudly. “The fewer possessions you have, the freer you are”. “It’s a piercing animal”. I’m tasting the words. “P-pier-piercing-cing”. I wish I read the books.

I guess I have to return at some point. The feelings I can’t seem to well up through traditional narration of my own thoughts must pass, or die down at some point. I should get a dog, and a backpack, and books, and new cigarettes, and a small cottage, and weed. I need possessions as much as I need freedom. But I want freedom and no possessions. I want the narwhaled girl. Hell, I want her friend. I want her to read the books for me.

“I should turn” I tell myself. I can’t do this, I’m not strong willed enough. I should turn and go back. Back to –

I should go back. The gravel under my feet makes the most soothing noise. “Crunch crunch crunch”

“I should go back.”

  • “I should go back.

**********************************************************************

He should go back.

**********************************************************************

“I should go back.”

 

 

 

~Peanut

Two texts

# 1: – Sam:

Sam looked at himself in the mirror. He pointed at his reflection and said, slowly “This is not me. You are not me.” His reflection followed the movements of his hand and his mouth. After having said it, he felt relieved and like he could finally relax – like he did`nt have to wait for anyone anymore. He felt like his body was a hollow shell, a something that is not his, that could have been anyone`s; a shell where `he´ lived, where `Sam´ was supposed to spend his entire life. “Maybe there`s a monster hidden inside of me” he thought while standing motionless looking at the something in the mirror. Sam wondered whether the something was aware that he, Sam, was looking at it now. The something might be looking back at him. Like looking at the abyss. Then he realised that for it to be aware of that, there would have to be an actual entity inside of him, making the shell un-hollow again. Sam shuddered at the thought.

“Does he want to escape or does he want to stay inside me?” he wondered. He thought his body was probably a good place to live in, and that if he had had the opportunity, probably would want to live there himself.
He went to bed again and closed his eyes. His body felt detached from him, like it was situated far away from his head. He would wiggle his toe and think “This toe is not part of my body. My body is too far away from me for it to belong to me”. The longer he thought about it, the further away the rest of his body felt. Before he fell asleep, he thought maybe he should give the something a name, instead of just `the something´. Several names went through his head, but he was unable to find a suitable one. Then he fell asleep.

Sam was dreaming. He was outside, in a low forest ravine, surrounded by stones and trees and fog. This was a place where time and space didn`t exist. He looked around and was surprised at what he saw. He saw his reflection, the something that had been staring back at him from the mirror before he went to bed, sitting alone at a table, eating. Sam wanted to walk over to him and talk to it, but he was unable to move; he could only move his head. In a corner he saw a little girl who was jumping rope. Sam saw her jumping in slow motion. With each stroke she would count “one” aloud over and over. And with each stroke, time would go slower and slower, the rope taking longer and longer to complete one arch over her. She finally stopped altogether and suddenly collapsed on the forest ground. A man dressed as a clown appeared from out of the fog, picked up the little girl and disappeared again into the fog. Sam could hear someone clapping from behind where he stood.

When he woke up he went to the mirror in the bathroom again and said aloud “Is the monster `me´ or is he someone else?” and then he said “I feel alone” to the emptiness that surrounded him. “I am happy.”

Then he ate breakfast.

– – – – – –

# 2 – Little Scotty:

It was around the time that Rachel was training for her first marathon that Little Scotty just could`nt take it anymore: he had died, only three years old, after having spent half his life in a coma. It was March 28th. The marathon was August 2nd.

Rachel was devastated but also not surprised. She had heard the news from Jen. Jen was her best friend, they had know each other “since forever”. Jen was Little Scotty`s aunt. “He will be cremated.” Jen said. “It is what he would have wanted.” “Why do you say that?” Rachel asked. “I.. just know.” Jen answered. Little Scotty died when he was three, and had spent half his life in a coma. He was barely able to speak when he first came in a coma, how is Jen able to know “what he would have wanted”, Rachel asked herself. But it didnt`matter. Never did it matter.
Being his aunt, Jen now was the one responsible for Little Scotty`s after-death care. Jen was his mother`s sister and by default also his closest relative. Both of Little Scotty`s parents had died; his father died in a car crash the day after he had gotten his mother pregnant, and his mother had died giving childbirth. The doctors could not explain how it happened, or how it was possible in this day and age. They could only briefly share Jen`s despair, give her a pat on the shoulder, a hug.

“He deserves a proper funeral. Everyone who knew him should be there.” “But Jen, that`s like … five people..” “He deserves it.” Jen repeated. “You, me, the doctors and the nurses. That`s seven. The funeral will be held a week from now. A week and a half. Here, in the hospital. That`s best for everyone. Cheapest. Closest. Everyone knows where it is.” Rachel nodded.

The next day Rachel went for a run. She tried to run four or five times a week. Today she thought she`d run 12 – 15 kilometers, and tomorrrow she wanted to try to run the distance of a half-marathon. Rachel wanted to try to run the distance of a full marathon at least once before the actual marathon. She was a firm believer that the actual marathon should not be the first time anyone ever actually`d run a marathon. While she ran she listened to music; Iron Maiden. She had listened to the band “since forever”; she had practically grown up listening to them. Song: “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”, oddly fitting to her current activity. Jen didn`t listen to them. She was more into soft rock etc. Which was fine with Rachel. She, too, occasionally enjoyed listening to that kind of music. But Rachel was more into the fast, and the brutal. Iron Maiden was only the beginning; the more brutal (brutal-er?) the music, the better. As much as she loved them, compared to the other stuff she sometimes listened to, she had to admit Maiden was “soft”. But it wasn`t about being brutal. She couldn`t care less what people thought of her, who she was, or what she listened to. It was about the way it made her feel, and about how she was able to “just let go” when listening to music. People often complained that they could never hear what the bands Rachel enjoyed, were singing about. Rachel could never understand why that was a problem. What`s the big deal about always being able to hear what they sing she thought. If they actually could hear what they were singing, people would probably change their minds anyway. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Besides, it`s not about the lyrics, you know. It`s about the brutality, and the being able to letting go of whatever anger or sadness or whatever you might have bottled up inside on some days, just letting it all go through the loudness and the screaming and the running she thought as her pace unconsciously fastened while hearing Bruce singing. (ruuuuuuuuun on aaand oooon, ruuuuuuuuun on aaand ooooon THE LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONELIIIIIIIIIIIIINEEEEEEEES OF THE LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISTANCE RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNEEER)

Rachel did not think about Little Scotty even once during the following week.

April 13th, the day of the funeral, one week after Little Scotty died, came and went. It was a Friday. Everyone Little Scotty had known had been there. Everything was as Jen had wanted it to be. After the ceremony, the body was driven to the crematory. Rachel was one of the people carrying the coffin to the car. It was a weird feeling. The coffin was very small, and very light.

Jen lived with Rachel for a little while after the ceremony. It was a way for her to recuperate. “I didn`t know him for long,” Jen started “but he sure made an impact on our lifes”. Rachel was thinking that the only way Little Scotty had made an impact on Jen`s life, was a negative one. She had always needed to be around in case something should happen to him. This affected her work life and her social life. Rachel kept telling her that if she ever needed any help with anything, she would be there for her. But Jen had never asked for help. Although Rachel could tell she wanted to. But Rachel didn`t want to intrude, either. In the days after the funeral, while she was living with Rachel, there was no doubt that Jen was relieved of not having to keep thinking about Little Scotty. It was as if a giant weight had been lifted off her shoulders. But she never said anything about it. Rachel thought Jen felt bad for being relieved about his death. “There was nothing more you could have done, Jen” she would say. “You did everything you could”. Jen agreed to this. She would say things like “Yes, I know.” and “Thanks, Rachel.” “He was in a coma for all his life. It`s sad, but it`s also kinda good. Remember what the doctors kept saying; `if he was not in a coma, he would have been in a severe painful state´, remember?” Jen remembered, and it gave her some sort of closure. At least he didn`t suffer, she would say.

During the weeks she lived with Rachel, they would get drunk together, and watch old, cheesy horror films. They laughed and, Rachel thought, had a great time together despite the circumstances. “It`s what needs to be done” they would tell each other, then laugh. They would order pizza and eat half of it, then order a new one and eat half of that one, too. They would bring the rest of the pizzas to homeless people on the street, and they would smile and thank them profoundly. Then they would repeat the process. Somedays they ordered chinese or indian food, and would eat everything themself.

One night, after Jen had fallen asleep during an extremely boring movie, Rachel decided to go for a run. She didn`t listen to any music this time. Sometimes Rachel, too, enjoyed silence. She ran the complete length of an actual marathon. She never felt more ready in her life.

~ Milk

An Uneventful Post About An Uneventful Story.

I accept the challenge, Ellen, even if it means me over-analyzing your seemingly uneventful story.

Ok, so some context would be nice, right? My blog partner Milk showed me some years ago another blog called Muumuu House. This is a place you’re probably going to hate or love. There is no middle ground. It’s like if marmite was a blog. I don’t care for marmite, but I do like this blog. One of the posts on said blog, is a story by Ellen Kennedy. The URL calls it a poem, but I rather think it’s a short story, or to give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps a prosaic poem. You can find this text here: http://muumuuhouse.com/ek.poetry1.html.

Let’s talk about the title. AN UNEVENTFUL STORY ABOUT A PERSON AND A DOG IN AN APARTMENT THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION WOULD REACT TO BY SAYING ‘I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE POINT OF THIS IS’. What a title! It reminds me a bit of old novels, where the entire plot is told on the cover, so that the consumer could decide on the purchase. Like in Robinson Crusoe, where the subtitle is something along the lines of …or the story of a shipwrecked Scotsman who survives on a deserted island for many years, whilst still maintaining to keep his faith and by cleverness and help by a savage finally goes back home. Perhaps this was a bit over exaggerated, but I think the point still stands. We understand the basics of Kennedy’s narrative only from the title. Or, a part of the title does generalize the dog. In the proper text, the dog is a toy poodle.

The title challenges the reader. I don’t want to be a part of the “Majority of the population” if they are in the wrong. If the majority of the population has a large dick, I’d like to be a part of the majority, because then they are in the right, or at least in the normal. The majority of the population react to this story by saying “I don’t understand what the point of this is.” She calls her own story uneventful, so she’s kind of joining in with the majority of the people. One can argue about whether or not the author has more authority over her own reading, but I think that when she’s just a reader, she has to apply to the readers rules, given by the implied author, she no longer is.

The whole poem starts every line with the subject of the sentence, and it’s often either the person or the poodle that starts the sentence. We are as a reader just observing it all, like we are at the theatre. There’s no dialogue, but there is one instance of thought. “’fungus, i’m eating fungus’” notice how the ‘i’ is in lower case. Is this a power play, or does not the upper case I need to be so when only in a thought?

The person lives a life of bare necessities it seems. The mattress is directly on the floor. And the apartment is just one room containing the basic furnishings a home needs. Can we from this assume that the person is bohemian? Is the person perhaps poor, or just not that interested in luxury? I feel like the person is a bit contradicting. (S)he is eating a raw Portobello mushroom for dinner. Instead of eating the whole thing, (s)he eats just the helmet and top part of the stem, and throwing the butt to the dog. Just like one throws bones and scraps to a dog. The fridge is also containing vegan burgers. And our person is deciding to eat them, but later on, the mushroom is the winner. Our person of poor living conditions sure do have some fancy foodstuffs.

Thea eating and throwing away of the mushroom can be read as a sexual thing. The mushroom works as a phallocentric object, and it is subject to the persons habits. It’s washed, and then eaten raw. Saying that this is a metaphor for oral sex might be a bit too simple, but it sure plays with our sexual thoughts, and how we readers can find filth in pretty ordinary things if we set our minds to it. The Toy poodle gets the stem. The Toy poodle is also alive, and has from the beginning witnessed the person walking over to the toilet, and stared at him/her peeing. This is another reference to the human organ, the one that pees that is. The toy poodle is submissive, and is just lying around, eating the thrown out stem, and returning back to its corner to sleep. The person is introduced by doing the action of just waling over to the toilet, and the last action is feeding the toy poodle. This is the story, and it is quite uneventful, but it’s still compelling. It might be the shortness of the story, and our want of meaning that bears this narrative, and makes it eventful just because we are being told it isn’t.

I won’t pick it further apart. I just wanted to shine some light on this story. I really like the absence of action, and the absence of eventfulness. This isn’t that weird to be honest. Perhaps more stories should be this uneventful? Some stories should be, to contrast the ones that are eventful. We can also learn that events doesn’t necessarily provide meaning. The absence of meaning is still meaning.

I’d advise you all (4 readers) to check out Muumuu house. It’s so hip that if you ever need a hip transplant, they’ll have plenty to spare.

All for now,
~ Peanut

Thoughts concerning The Shining Girls (a review, if you will)

When first I heard of this book, I immediately thought of the popular horror film The Shining, but I must make it perfectly clear that it`s important to note that Lauren Beukes` The Shining Girls has nothing at all to do with the twin girls from Kubrick`s controvisal 1980`s movie – The Shining Girls is a hugely satisfactorical achievement in it`s own right for plenty of reasons, so let`s have a look at it. (Spoilers probably occur, I really am not good at telling whether or not pieces of information could ruin the experience for individuals. Either way, consider this a written warning and proceed on your own risk)

With her novel, Beukes has constructed a thriller traversing across multiple genres. It is primarily a crime-solving novel (with the depictions of murders and corpses and all that goes with it) but included are fantastical elements of magic, time-travelling and supernatural nature.

In an abandoned house – simply refered to as the House – in Chicago in 1931, Harper Curtis finds the name of nine girls who have the ability `to shine`. A voice, seemingly from nowhere, tells him he must trace them down and kill them before they become too powerful. One of these girls, the strong female protagonist Kirby Mazrachi, manages to escape his attack and makes it her objective to hunt him down and avenge herself. The interesting thing is that all the girls are from a different date and time in the 20th century. The peculiar, supernatural thing about the House, then, is that it allows Harper to travel in time.

We never get an explanation as to how the House is able to do this; the time-travelling aspect of the novel remains a mystery. With this in mind we can understand The House as a modernisation of the Gothic castle. Indeed, it is not a “castle” as such; that is not the important thing. The important thing is that it is in the House that the supernatural takes place, and it is here that the laying down of the Law occurs. The laying down of the Law in this instance is the voice`s command to Harper to kill the girls. It is the House that has control over Harper, not he who has control over it.

Another example of supernatural element is just this command from the voice in the House. We never get a distinctive answer as to what it means that these girls `shine`, nor why they need to die. Neither does Harper, but still, he asks no questions about it, he only goes about the tasks set to him to do. It contributes in making his character all the more interesting. Harper succumbs to becoming a murderer without needing a reason. It is as if his life is bad enough already; he doesn`t care and might as well start murdering people. If the House tells him to do it, surely it must be of some worth, surely by commanding the voice in the House he will do some good. Something good ought to come of it?

This Harper`s uncritical way of going through with his actions allign with Beukes` wonderful way of drawing up contrasts between him, the murderer, and the female victims. Harper is portrayed as a tiresome, broken and beaten down person, a drifter, who, after all, is not uncomstumed to breaking into abandoned houses. He, as we have seen, has nothing against taking orders from some voice arguably only he can hear. However, the female characters Beukes depicts on the other hand are wonderful. By giving each of the victims their own little backstory before they are confronted with Harper, Beukes has managed to create beautifully complex, deep and round characters, making it all the more sad for the reader, knowing already about their inevitable, tragic fates.

Together, these two strains of discourse (with the inexplicable supernatural Law, command, the girls`s shining and time travel on one side, and the beautifully constructed, delightful handling of the shining girls`s background story on the other), Beukes has accomplished an appealing, dynamic and interactive read. I have not read any of her other books, but hopefully I will get the chance to try in the nearest future!

 

~Milk

Don’t read the entire post.

You never read that book? You simply must read it through! Don’t even talk to me before you’ve completed it.

Chances are that if you read weird blogs on the internet, you probably also read books. It can be fiction, poetry, science or travel guides for all I care. The problem about reading books is that they’re often pretty darn long.

Before you get your pitchfork and torch, please hear me out.
A good book is literally the best thing ever! I love a good, rich and emotion laden book as much as the next, but sometimes a book can be devilishly long, boring and, frankly, badly written. In our day and age we read, I argue, more than ever. Be it internet articles, social media messages and commercials on the bus. These are often short enough to keep us interested in their message, and to keep our relatively short attention span.

Without going to bother with finding the source, I’ll just tell this in the form of an anecdote. I’ve heard that the producer for The Beatles; George Martin once had drinks with John Lennon (This is still believable, I’m sure!). Seeing how they both were interested in music, they began talking about music length. The standard of the day, probably in the 70’s was to have ‘radio hits’, also songs that are about three minutes long (as it is today as well). The duration of these minutes are long enough to make an interesting song, but also short enough to make people remember it. Martin is a fan of classical music (as I guess Lennon were too) and he said that classical music often had pieces lasting from two minutes to forty minutes, and some even over an hour. Lennon admitted to this, and he said something along the lines of “I feel guilty when I listen to classical music, because when it’s being played for over five minutes, I’ve already forgot how it began.”

I’m certainly not blaming Lennon for this. He’s a musician, and a terrific one at that. What I find funny is that shame or guilt we feel towards the arts. “I haven’t read the entire book” you find yourself saying at a dinner party – quickly followed by “But I plan to finish it later” as to justify the action of you not reading it all the way through.

Thing is, when we read a massive book, we might be afraid of losing out on some details, or we might be afraid that we can’t comprehend that much information. We’d rather stick to the 300 page novel, instead of trying to read a 1000 page book. Can this relate to other genres as well? We’re afraid of ancient texts like the Homer’s Odyssey, or Milton’s Paradise Lost? A Lennonesque way of looking at it would be; “We want to finish the book, but we don’t necessary remember what we read in it.”

I think we can learn a lot from those people who leaves the movie theatre in the midst of a movie. Why should I spend my short time on this earth reading this? Is it to win someone’s approval? Perhaps you’re proving something to yourself? If the book isn’t for you, you don’t have to read it through. I don’t want to tell you to stay clear of good literature, no-no! Just be more honest with yourself, your reading and your time.

To crack open a huge tome, and reading it despite your lack of interest for the text can be challenging. On the other hand it can also be super rewarding. No one really ever read their high school physics books and thought “This is good literature!” It can however be riveting pedagogics at work.

The plot is what keeps the ‘telling’ of the story going on. This is achieved by plot structure and plot devices. I’m no expert in narrative theory, mind you. A well-structured plot makes for a riveting story, most of the time. Sometimes an unorganized plot structure might even be the plot-device used. These two forms intertwine in the narrative.
Then comes the part where you read a book, and it’s either really predictable, or you find that the plot devices are weak, and perhaps unnecessary – i.e. a vampire that is also a werewolf and a zombie and can fly and see through walls. It can be a lazy way of getting your character out of trouble, or you can make it interesting. Plot is important. You need a beginning, middle and an ending part to your story. Plot isn’t everything though. Symbolism and poetic language can be used to achieve the same effects. The more ambiguous the plot, the stronger it can become.

Let’s get back to the guilt. Why do feel guilty when we don’t finish something? I think that not finishing a book can be a good thing if you don’t like it. Give it a shot, pick it up later, and try to understand why you don’t like it. You might learn more about yourself if you think about that. Remember that the author has her/his mind-set that they impose upon the text, and you have your own.  Some disagreements on opinions and literature could make for great debates in literary circles. Books and even different directions in academic principles have occurred due to differing thoughts about aesthetics, life and the world.

We are not closer to a solution to the guilt. This is perhaps hard coded into our worker bee mentality. We should finish what we started. Perhaps our curiosity and our naivety keep us reading in hopes that the book gets better?

The guilt and shame of not having read Orwell’s 1984 should not deter you from having an opinion about it. This shame is man-made, and not really a thing of substance. We have it because others have it. It’s a social construct. I can’t prescribe a cure to this ail, but I can at least try to give you a better consciousness. Don’t finish a thing unless it’s super important. You don’t have to watch a bad movie in its entirety just because you began to watch it. Stop it; find another video more suitable to your interests, or a movie you can learn better from. Don’t stop it just because it’s challenging. All literature should challenge you! You learn and experience that way.

Build up your attention span, bit by bit. Try something else than your standard 3 minute song. Listen to some classical music. Try to pick up a classic book instead of your “SOON TO BE A MAJOR PICTURE MOVIE” book. The more you read/listen, the stronger your foundation for attention and knowledge will grow. I guarantee it.

~Peanut

American Psycho

In this text, I will be looking at the narrative structure of the story in American Psycho to see how this relates to the protagonist Patrick Bateman`s feeling of selfcontrol. By looking at his relations, both familial and friendly, can we get a better understanding of why he uses violence? I have also looked at how his relations links up to his own perception of reality, and whether or not the events Bateman narrates are actually real.

There are different ways in which violence is used in American Psycho. One of them is for Bateman to retrieve his lost identity. Berthold Schoene writes in his article that although Bateman`s frequent `panic attacks´ help him in providing momentary relief, they «cannot reassemble his fragmented self into a coherent, viable identity». So, then, the violence may be interpreted in a different, more personal way. Bateman`s violence could be a way of keeping himself sane or even to `reassert´ himself. (Schoene, 2008, p 383) It is an outlet for holding up with his unbearable social relations, which overflow with boredom, repetition and is, essentially, a competition over who has the most expensive suit. During the depictions of torture and mutilations, however, Bateman shows a much more colourful and lively use of language, than in the repetitive and arguably boring parts when he lists up what people are wearing. These passages becomes almost a ritual to him (and to us as readers), that gradually becomes less and less significant, reflecting what the formalist Shkolvsky`s writes when talking about habitualization; «And so, life is reckoned as nothing». Bateman`s obsession over The Patty Winters Show is another example of this. At the end of the book, after continually summing up what the days show was about, he says that, on page 268 of my book: «The Patty Winters Shows were all repeats. Life remained a blank canvas, a clichè, a soap opera.» (American Psycho, p 268)

Let`s return to his reason for violence.  I would like to suggest it is also a way of way to compensate for a dysfunctional childhood. We know virtually nothing of his childhood, and we have to make our own interpretation from what we know of his parents. I am making my interpretation from what we know about Bateman`s relations to his mother. Only one and a half pages are given to his mother, but during this passage we can interpret their relations to be one of non-functional. His mother is «heavily sedaded» and Bateman himself ignores her and is more interested in how he looks like. Through this, as well as keeping in mind a passage in the zoo, where Bateman sees a woman breast-feeding which awakens something awful in him, I suggest that he might have had a troublesome, dysfunctinal childhood, or mother-figure, which may be a source to understand his mysogynistic treatment of women. Another hint that points to this, is how he films his victims in order to «understand them better.» This could all be a way for him to say he wants to understand his mother better.

Of course, this is based on very small passages from the book, and are mostly a result of self-interpretation. Carla Freccero would disagree with my point of view. She writes in her article, «… no clues are provided that would suggest a tortured relationship between the two» (Freccero, 1997, pp 51). She, rather, focuses on Batemans`s father, whom all we know about is through a photograph Bateman looks at, where he stands besides a topiary animals, and «… there’s something the matter with his eyes» (Ellis, 1991, pp 352)

Whether or not Bateman is an unreliable character can be (and has been) interpreted narratologically. (see Jennifer Phillips, 2009) There are hints that point in each direction. There are a number of instances where we can question whether what Bateman says and does are actually happening. More than once does he straight out tells someone he is a murderer, and the reaction he gets is either non-existant, or very unlikely. There seems to be an incompatibility between what Bateman says, and what happens immediatley after. This is a source of his unreliabilty. Furthermore, he keeps talking about his own reality, and points out what is and what is not a part of it. Even his trustworthiness is questionable. But when it comes down to it, whether he is reliable or not is really irrelevant. The gruesome, horrific scenes of violence are still there for us to read. And if they don`t actually happen, they are still very real to Bateman. As we have seen, it is in these events in which he assumes total control over the narrative, and himself.

There is a passage in the book where the narrative shifts from first to third person. It happens while Bateman is being chased by a police officer through the streets of New York. The timing is not coincidental; as we know, throughout the book, being the perpetrator Bateman has been in control over the narration, but in this specific part of the book, it is himself who has become the victim. He loses control over himself and feels chaos taking over him, and thus, fittingly does he lose the narrative authority. This is interesting in a narratological perspective, but we will stick to the notion of Bateman as being in control over himself as a way of maintain his identity. He is unable to do so in this passage. When he gets back his control, the first person narrative resumes.

There is a significant lack of a complex, round character in the book, other than Bateman. This links up to his excruciating obsession of constantly listing up what his friends are wearing in practically every situation Bateman finds himself in. Bateman in this way detaches himself from other human beings, and turns them into objects. Julian Murphet writes that «the people are invisible, swallowed by the products they wear». It becomes hard to distinguish a definite, substantial character that stand out from the book. (Murphet, 2002, pp 28) Humans have become products and merchandise. This becomes painfully clear when reading about the way Bateman picks up prostitutes, as if browsing through a shopping centre. During this de-humanising process, the act of murdering has become routine for Bateman, in the same way (as we have seen) listing up what people are wearing, and The Patty Winters Show. At some point in the book, Bateman doesn`t even bother to specify who says what, he only says «someone says», or «a sound coming from somewhere».

The only character in his social circle Bateman treats with respect, and like an actual other human being, is his secretary Jean. Despite the obvious misogynistic discourse, I argue that Jean is the closest to a heroine this book comes to. Bateman is able to open up to her, unlike anyone else. He treats her with respect, and asks himself what kind of books she reads, so as to get closer to her intellectually.

One way in which the horror in American Psycho is depicted, is how behind a `normal´ shell, there lurks a psychopathic cannibal. The fact that individuality is not longer an issue is also horrorfying, for two reasons. One; because we are no longer able to understand ourself fully. Our subject becomes fragmented, and figuratively eaten up. And two, in the words of Freccero; because of the way American Psycho is «collapsing form and content and [by] eliminating a `moral framework´ for the depiction of `monstrous criminality´» (Freccero, 1997, pp 51) Meaning, this could be anyone. Furthermore, the possibility of an unreliable narrator works as a horrifying element in American Psycho because we constantly ask ourself the probability of Batemans actions, and what their possible effects could be. Whether we can really trust anyone becomes a question. I would like to conclude by including a quote from Ellis, from Freccero`s article, on art: «… art has now become our need to be terrified» (Freccero, 1997, pp 56)

 

Bibliography / further reading

 

Freccero, C. (1997) Historical Violence, Censorship and the Serial Killer: The Case of «American Psycho» Diacritics [Online] (Vol. 27, nr. 2) p. 44 – 58. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1566351 [Accessed: 18th October 2015]

Murphet, J. (2002) Bret Easton Ellis`s American Psycho: A Reader`s Guide London: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.

Phillips, J. (2009) Unreliable narration in Bret Easton Ellis`s American Psycho: Interaction between narrative form and thematic content. Research Online. [Online] (Vol. 1, nr. 1) p. 60 – 68. Available from: http://ro.uow.edu.au/currentnarratives/vol1/iss1/6 [Accessed 11th October 2015)

Schoene, B. (2008) Serial Masculinity: Psychopathology and Oedipal Violence in Bret Easton Ellis`s American Psycho. MFS Modern Fiction Studies. [Online] (Vol. 54 nr. 2) p. 378 – 397. Available from: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/mfs/summary/v054/54.2.schoene.html [Accessed 16th October 2015]

Shklovsky V. (1917 / 2004) Art as Technique. In Rivkin J. & Ryan M (eds.) Literary Theory: An Anthology 2nd Edition. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing

~Milk

 

 

On being alone.

Is there a difference between being lonely and being alone? Can this loneliness be productive? Today I’ve been writing down some things I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Alone is an occupation where you choose to be apart from other people (At least in a normal setting). If you’ve purposely been put into a room, you might be alone, but you are also isolated – So there’s a new word too; Isolation. We have now Loneliness, alone, isolation and why not also solitude. Can solitude be a collected term to contain the others?

I’d say loneliness is a feeling of not belonging, and to be kept outside of something. What this ‘something’ is, is arbitrary, but it can be a social circle, a physical place you’re not allowed to enter or not being able to fullfil criteria etc.  If you are lonely, you probably want to engage in activities to make you less lonely. You have not chosen to be lonely. If you have chosen to be lonely, I argue that you have in fact chosen to be alone.

Jonathan Franzen wrote in his book How to Be Alone that

“Every writer is first a member of a community of readers, and the deepest purpose of reading and writing fiction is to sustain a sense of connectedness, to resist existential loneliness; and so a novel deserves a reader’s attention only as long as the author sustains the reader’s trust.”

I am aware of this being about writers and readers, and not random people. But aren’t we all readers? And sometimes we are the writer. We can perhaps replace the writer with the teller, and the reader as the listener. The book needs a reader, as the writer needs one. And the reader longs for a writer. This relationship is to me symbiotic. The reader needs to be trusted, and must take great care of his position. Loneliness brings people together through others experiences with loneliness. We circle around the bonfire, which in this metaphor is the great pit of raw unrefined loneliness.

Des Esseintes, the main character of Joris Karl Huysmans novel, Against the Grain decides to close himself inside with his books, his art and his music. He becomes a true follower of the aesthetic. He is more concerned about what to wear, what to read and how to be perceived as better than to address his troubles of loneliness and moral decay. This is also the point of decadence in general. A shift from the before where we move away from nature and God, and accept artificiality and hedonistic views. He chooses to be alone, and is therefore not lonely. On the other hand, ‘aloneness’ makes you socialize less, and makes people less likely to come to you, begging for you to join them, and is therefore making you lonely as an end result. Des Esseintes isolates himself so that he can hide from all the grimness reality has in store. This is also his downfall.
Des Esseintes is also a rich heir, with nothing to do, and with to much money. Being alone is for him, his job. He has the time and resources to be alone. One can argue that the occupation of being alone, is a privilege.

Solitude is a word with both positive and negative connotations. For introverts, solitude is a safe word. Solitude is (I argue) also a self-made predicament to find oneself in. On the other hand one might be trapped inside a cabin when an avalanche hits your front door. This is accidental solitude, but not loneliness.Solitude is a bit like religious asceticism where you seek the silence, and the stillness. It’s also the wish of being alone and undisturbed for a while.

To be alone and to be in solitude can reap many rewards in terms of calming oneself, and being in touch with oneself on a deeper level. This is not meant to be a cheesy conclusion. I just wanted to share some thoughts about solidity. I think people should learn to become more content with being alone. Sure, we love as a species to be social, but when was the last time you just sat down without any form of entertainment like a book, a movie, music, computer etc.? When was the last time you just sat and listened to nothing except for your own heartbeat and breath? It’s in the downtime you can hear the white noise of your life. And you would want to keep that tone as harmonious as you can, right?

~Peanut.

Franzen, J. How To Be Alone. 2001, Harper Collins. London.