Saturday, 30 May 2009

Academic biograpical details

I always read the biographical details prior to beginning a book, and I'm always irritated by the publisher's insistence in writing about the university the author attended. Does a university education shape the perspective and substance of an author? The author's style is developed independently, not by the university he attended. I don't see how this biographical note is of any substantial value or relevance.

Also, after mentioning the university the author has attended, they list just about the entire bibliography of the author. Again, this is completely pointless. You don't get a good insight into the author's oevure by a mere elongated list of his books.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Clashing interior and exterior worlds

I think that writing fiction is a way of bringing everything about yourself out in the text. Conequently, both your interior and exterior worlds surface and clash. You are writing both your innternal and external autobiography; you are writing about your unconscious tendencies and your current, every-day waking life.

I think that J. G. Ballard's work is so pioneering because of this reason: his earlier fiction attempts to interrelate both the inner world of the psyche and the outer world of reality. He attempted to create landscapes where both the paintings of people like Dali fuse with the everyday normality occuring in the prevailing political events of whatever time in question.

My state of mind is constantly preoccupied with this dilemma. Fragments of dreams clash against the events in my life, and I'm left in a standstill which blurs what is normally deemed to be 'reality'. Reality is fiction and fiction is reality: I am left to a state where nothing is distinguishable, and where nothing is credible.

I think it's a mistake to think that a surrealist artist turns his back completely on 'reality'. The surrealist draws on the external world just as much as the interior world; his job is merely to make them converge. They are both synonymous, one isn't deemed to be 'superior' to the other. I think that this is what differentiates it from, say, social realism. I'm not criticising this genre, but overall it is far more single-tracked. It works on one level, and draws solely on the preoccupations of reality. Surrealism can work with the same themes as social realism, and it can implement them into a new unprecedented form. This 'unprecedented form' is a new landscape where interior and exterior worlds clash.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Adapting to new, constraining environments

One of the recurring themes in J. G. Ballard's work is how characters adapt to new, constraining environments. This is drawn from his experiences at Lunguah camp, and I relate to these experiences after my time spent at the psychiatric intensive care unit.

When one is in a small space, the way one adapts to one's environment is altered. One must be prepared to endure a lot of incessant, provocative pain. Your whole approach to living is redefined, and you have to accommodate yourself to this new situation.

Ballard often reconstructs his past with his fiction, and he defies his characters to endure the most threatening experiences. But these characters acommodate themselves to these environment, and they revel in them. I found that during my stay at PICU that I gradually accustomed myself to it, and I consequently developed a penchant for it. My fiction, I think, works at a completely different level than Ballard's as my experiences at 'constraining' environements are related with the issue of subverting reality. My characters - at least in my earlier fiction - are constantly seeking new methods of escaping reality, and amidst of all this they endure these 'constraining environments'.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tension and pathos

There have been startling moments in literature and cinema when there is an unprecedented amount of tension and pathos. There are numerous segments from books and films which are so powerful that all your senses are on the edge, and you're alert when reading a text. The pathos of a work of art is what often determines its strengths and its enduring appeals.

The level of tension in Crime and Punishment is intolerably moving. I remember reading the moments when Raskolnikov is pressured by the officer, and as a reader one is anguishing and suffering in a tense level of exhiliration. The pathos in scenes like these foreshadow the dark revelations which are unfolded at the end of the novel. You already know the end by reading the first few pages, but going through the novel itself is compelling and indisputable.

Pathos can often be sinister, and it can suggest hidden facets which are suggested rather than exposed. This is what is achieved in Kafka's The Trial. You don't know for certain about the situation of the character, but you're left in a sense of despair that is created via the tension and pathos.

The tension of a text pushes the narrative forward, and it shrouds it with vitality. It is, of course, subjective with separate texts, but a lot of the time pathos is a necessary tool for the writer to draw the reader into his terrain. Novels, I find, can be boring and diluted when there isn't enough tension. Tension can be constructed in a variety of ways, but it can often be accompanied with a brutal marriage of violence and sex as Ballard created in Crash... as well as the work of Bataille, De Sade, Miller, etc.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Advantages and disadvantages of cinematic and literary mediums

The two most featured and renowned mediums of establishing a narrative are cinema and literature. Both these mediums have their advantages and disadvantages. In this blog post I will attempt to dismantle each medium, and will come to a conclusion as to which one - aesthetically speaking - is superior.

I've always thought that one should look at what's inside the canvas rather than what is on the outside of it, but I think that it is nevertheless interesting to compare two mediums of expression within aesthetic standpoints.

When watching a film, you are bombared with information incessantly. You can't leave it aside for a while and let yourself digest it. When reading a book, on the other hand, you can consume and savour the words bit by bit without any rushing. Often, complicated themes in movies need careful attention or they will go over your head. When groundbreaking cinema appears, you are never accustomed to it because you haven't engaged with another film that works at that particular, distinct level. Because of this, you often have to revisit the film and watch it again. I was perplexed on first viewing - though often stimulated - by the whole of Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend, Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou and Jodorowsky's El Topo. When something cinematic has no preceding style model, you're often vexed and must struggle to get to grips with it.

Complexity in literary texts often works superbly, but it can often be highly unnecessary. Often a book will be about 900 pages long with relentless digressions, digressions within digressions and numerous sub-plots. You may say that this multi-level complexity is a highly distinctive trademark of a literary text that could never be equalled in cinema, but it can be dreadfully boring to be entangled within this maze with the direction of the novel heading towards no direction. Other times, texts will have an elaborate vocabulary which will require to get the dictionary and will interrupt the flow of the reading.

You pay far more attention to a book than to a film. You are intensely engaged with everything occuring within the text. The approach to watching movies is far more passive, and this results in subconscious dismissal to many of the film's demands which ultimately leads to an incomprehension of the several layers that constitute the film.

Because cinema is a visual medium, it often happens that the images will linger in your mind. Books also offer this, but I've found that moments of cinema which are most memorable replay themselves inside my mind more so than images from books.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The remote edges #1

These twelve photograpgs are all from Firth Wood. It's quite a small wood, but it's got beautiful places. I am not going very deep into the 'remote edges' of Dronfield at the moment, but this is a start at least. I couldn't cover all of Firth wood due to restrictive memory card space. These are the first woods I discovered, and they have always been an escape from the mundane for me. I have come here to read, scream in frustration, seek solace from the supressive world and to walk around in tranquility. These photographs are the first in a monthly regular. Enjoy - and the really good stuff is yet to come!

Friday, 1 May 2009

My state of mind #1

For my first diary entry I wrote this: "Every day one (OR SHOULD I SAY I) gets a specific feeling that's akin to no other - one doesn't feel it again. Today my way of viewing things differs from yesterday's, so it's an axiomatic truth to jot it down, or - like a dream - it will fade away. It is necessary to record these perceptions; it is a pain to lose them."

I will now take this assertion and apply it to a monthly view. Every month one goes through a variety of emotions, and it's terrible to think that these emotions don't get recorded in print. I no longer keep a diary, but I think that this will be meliorated by starting this monthly regular 'My state of mind' on my blog. This monthly post won't be an unconscious stream-of-consciousness exploration as its title may suggest, but it will be a chance for me to write my feelings over the course of a month as well as the experiences I've gone through.


My emotions have gone all over the place during this month. Initially, my month started with the prospect of visiting Chile. I wanted to take many, many books, but ended up taking about 8 or 9. The aeroplane trip wasn't as ardous as I originally envisiged. The great thing about this visit to chile - to begin with - was the fact that I was constantly occupied. In the months leading up to my episode, I was constantly doing something... Recently, this went downhill when I left the hospital as I submerged myself into lethargy... This changed with college as I have gradually started to become more active. My state of mind has gone up and down like a yo-yo string.
I was originally going to go to the wonderful city Valparaíso on my own, but my aunt persuaded me to go with her along with my cousin... I think it was better this way, actually! I had a lovely time; I went to about 4 cafes and drank lots and lots of coffee. The walking up the hills was wonderful, and I went into a museuem of comic artist Lukas. In this trip I went to a very odd shop where I bought '2666' by Roberto Bolano and 'Residencia en la Tierra' by Pablo Neruda. This trip was great as I got to know my aunt much, much better. But, above all else, Valparaíso is a wonderful city...
I wanted to get on with a lot of reading, but didn't succeed with the fucking dogs barking incessantly. I was hoping to read excessively; I barley got through Ballard's 'Kindom Come'! All the 9 or so books of mine were left unread. Because I failed to read with the dogs barking, this resulted in long periods of time where I did nothing.
This was a watershed trip in that I was exposed to lots and lots of people. Not only family members, but other people too. My aunt is very into 'new age', esoteric philosophy... We had very interesting conversations about a variety of topics. She hooked me up with a woman who'd had experiences with psychosis, and she talked a lot about creatures she'd seen (she even claimed that she saw some sitting next to me). She talked about ways she'd dealt with her illness, and how other people perceived her. She also arranged a meeting with a man called Hernan the day before I left Chile. He even said that he found my blog. He mainly talked a lot about metaphysics and what we perceive to be reality, as well as lots of authors I admire. Both of these meeting were very intersting and refreshing. The day after the Valparaíso trip I also met my cousin's husband who is a teacher of literature at a university, and we talked a lot about Borges and Cortázar. I also spent a lot of my time with my male cousin Sebi who is very wild but has calmed down after he acquired a girlfriend. We went out to buy some lovely German sweets, and we watched a Woody Allen movie.
My parents left on Wednesday to go to the city where I spent my childhood, Concepcion. I left a couple of days later because I wanted to spend a bit of time on my own. After the ardous bus trip I met the family which got to know me very well during my childhood. I had a fine time conversing with the woman who is quite intellectually-oriented, and the husband who is the complete opposite of my aunt: sceptical of 'new age' philosophy and quite opiniated (in a good way, though). I had a splendid time with an old childhood friend Valentin and, despite not having anything in common, we got on very well. Paulina (the woman) drove me through the town I spent my childhood in, igniting rememberance of things past. After a few days here, we went back to Santiago. I spent a few more days here, attempting (but failing) to read Ballard.
During the long trip back I finished (finally) reading the Ballard novel, and I read some Borges followed by James Purdy. Despite travelling for 24 hours, I arrived full of energy - possibly because of the new environment. I always become energised after becoming exposed to new surroundings (even if it's my own home). I re-orered my bedroom wall. I took off a lot of the stuff on it and replaced it with new photographs and posters. I put my vynl of Trout Mask up on my wall and replaced the photographs of Paul Auster and Ballard with a photograph of Anna Karina in Godard's 'Un Femme Est UnFemme'. After this, I eventually went to bed where I proceeded onto dreaming a whole assortment of strange scenarios I can't remember too well. In monday morning I found out that J. G. Ballard died, and I felt a bit depressed for the rest of the day. I have always felt a sort of 'contact' with him after my episode. Oddly, he died when I took off the photograph of him off my wall and when I finished reading his last novel on the plane.
After this, college has taken up my days. I found out that I got an A for my film studies essay on Naked Lunch, and I found out today that my literature essay was the best of the class and got an A! :) I may not fail my A-levels after all, but I'm still very, very worried about my exams... I completely fucked up my language mock exam... I am not equipped for them!...
I made a start on William Faulkner's 'Absalom, Absalom!', and it's really, really engrossing. It flows with very long sentences, and the dense writing is really captivating. I read the first chapter last weekend, but I sadly haven't had the time with college; and free time I have had free I just waste by lying around and just thinking.
Last friday I went to a jazz concert with my dad, and it was spectacular. The drummer was phenomenal. On Monday I saw Herzog's latest movie at the showrooms, and I just got back from watching a documentary on jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. I still keep watching movies every Wednesday, and I saw Seijun Suzuki's 'Tokyo Drifters' and Tarantino's awsomely gruesome 'Reservoir Dogs'
I also came across a chilean person in Sheffield. He was playing latin-american music for a radio programme, and I was there! We talked, and I went to his club where they performed music the next day.

In past months I think I have suffered of mild depression.... Everything seems bleak... I spend most of my time thinking rather than doing things... My mind spirals all over the place with little care for cohesion. Now I think I'm over the depression, and I think that things are looking up... Everything's a mess, though; I feel like my life's a glass that's being shattered, and that I need someone to help me to pick the pieces up and assemble it together... This could be done through a psychologist... I've always felt disdainful towards pyschoanalysis, and I feel that I have already climaxed beyond the need for psychoanlysis, but it is nevertheless something I could look into...
I have now got 20 sides of paper for my short story 'The Desolate Valley', and some of the dialogue for it is pretty corny, but I think that it surpasses my 'David Crapper' play in being the most 'complete' and 'total' piece of writing I've done so far. After I finish writing it, I will make a start on 'The Prostitute's Customers' and 'Poetry Reciter'.
I miss all the walks I used to go to incessantly... I don't go for enough of them anymore... I have taken a few (but not enough) photographs of Firth Wood, and I shall take pictures of the lovely, lovely pond there tomorrow.
It was a bit of a shock to my system when I got back to England and back into college because I'd been in Chile for two weeks.. I've now eventually adapted to it... I think it's got to the extent of me forgetting Chile :(.... or my holiday in Chile, at least.
By two weeks, I'd had enough of Chile and wanted to get back to England. The funny thing is that I feel other way around now! I want to go back to Chile and have had enough of England!
Nothing seems real anymore. Reality just doesn't seem to be credible.... I don't believe anything I see in reality any more; it is all false.
I had my first fit of anger in months. I threw a tantrum/screams of anger when my sister came home while I was watching Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs'... and it was really refreshing and great to be reminded of all the enraged activity I've done in the past!...

A person (in all likelihood the lunatic) who visited my Feedback page asked me questions on how I consider people to be 'dull'... It's mainly me being prejudgmental, but I sort of switch off of them for their superficial aura, so that I can dismiss them as 'boring fucking cunts'. The thing is that I don't want to be part of their lives.

I ALWAYS forget to write everything I originally set out to write in my blog posts. I occasionally have to go back to add more to them after I've finished writing them... I had a lot more to write for this post, but I have forgotten it... I will come back to write more for it