Copies of Mills and Boon I’ve found at the Salvos part 2.

I didn’t think I could possibly find another treasure chest of pure gold. But on my most recent trip to the Salvos, the gods were smiling on me. So prepare yourself to once again, feel a mixture of concern and intrigue

(Not just the tip for the All-the-way Man)

(The defender looks pretty Bear Grylls to me. I mean he’s even sacrificed his shirt in what I assume was a bear attack)

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Booker

This is probably one of those things that everybody was already aware of, but it blew my mind finding out that the UK’s lucrative literary award, the Man Booker prize (formerly the Booker prize), was named after the Sugar Company that founded it – Booker McConnell, and later The Man Group which became the new sponsors in 2002. I just thought Man Booker was a clever name; this is like finding out that after writing some stellar philosophy Plato went on to invent the plate.

The Booker McConnell company, founded in 1835 by George and Richard Booker, owned Caribbean sugar plantations, and only started investing in books when their headquarters were moved to London following the independence of Guyana in the 1960s. Their  additional branch was called Booker Books, and its purpose was to buy the copyrights of popular authors such as Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming.

Anyway, it’s still two months away before the 2016 winner is announced; and what would really warm my heart is for the winner to accept their award in a literary themed way by pulling a Yossarian (Catch 22) and rocking up to the award ceremony naked.

 

The doing uni readings experience

For somebody who really loves reading, I’m surprisingly terrible at keeping up with uni set readings. There’s always the best of intentions in week 1 – the reader is all nice and shiny, and I’m convinced that despite previous instances where I’ve been a lazy dropkick, this will be the semester where I’ll just be a beacon of productivity. But then out of nowhere it’s suddenly week 4, and the reader is somehow reflecting my motivation levels – pages are falling out, its covered in little drawings from times I’ve zoned out, and its a bit dirty cause it did fall in a puddle. I don’t know how this happened, I highlighted the shit out of those first readings, things were going splendidly. And its not that the topics aren’t interesting….well for the most part. I’ve narrowed it down three things that may be the issue

1. I’m just not gripped. Sometimes they really can go on and on, to the point where I genuinely start to believe that by the time I finish reading it I’ll be dead.

2. The semester goes ridiculously fast and I have other things on

3. Eventually time gets taken up with reading for assessments and/or panic writing an essay

But it’s still early days into semester and all is not lost. Thankfully its still in that beautiful little period that doesn’t last very long, where the amount I have to get done hasn’t actually dawned on me yet, and the gnawing sense that I’m about to be up shit creek hasn’t arrived. So the big plan I have to be an adult for once and do these readings on time is the same as when it comes time to writing my essay; I’m going to pretend I’m the guy from the movie Misery. My heart may not be in this reading/writing I’m doing, but I value one day being able to leave the room I’m currently trapped in, so I carry on writing.

To finish off here’s a picture of me essay time semester two 2015; as you can tell, at that point I was loving life, getting loads of sleep and not dead inside at all.

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Those Times Kierkegaard was the best darn life-coach

So I googled Soren Kierkegaard quotes and all these heart-warming ones came up! No! That’s not the Kieregaard I know! Personally I prefer when this forefather of existentialism was a bit of a negative nancy and decided to have himself a little whinge. So here is a collection of much less life affirming quotes from the Danish philosopher:

 ‘At a theatre once a fire broke out backstage. The clown came on to warn the audience. The audience thought it was a joke and applauded; he repeated what he said, and the applause increased. I think that’s how the world will come to an end: to the general acclaim of witty types who think it’s all a joke’

‘Hang yourself you’ll regret it: don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it, either way, you’ll regret it. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all life’s wisdom’

‘It is never given a person to be absolutely and in every conceivable way completely content, not even for one single half-hour of his life.’

‘Probability is the sworn enemy of enthusiasm’

‘My distress is enormous, boundless; no one knows it except God in Heaven, and he will not console me; no one can console me expect God in Heaven, and he will not take compassion on me’

‘Thus our own age is essentially one of understanding, and on the average, perhaps, more knowledgeable than any former generation, but it is without passion. Everyone knows a great deal, we all know which way we ought to go and all the different ways we can go, but nobody is willing to move. If at last someone were to overcome the reflection within him and happen to act, then immediately thousands of reflections would form an outward obstacle. Only a proposal to reconsider a plan is greeted with enthusiasm; action is met with indolence’

‘life is so empty and meaningless…how barren is my soul…always before me an empty space’

‘…it is terrible to think, at moments, of the life I led in the hidden centre of my heart, of course literally never a word breathed to anyone, not even daring to note down the least thing about it – and that I was able to clothe that life with an outwardly lively and cheerful existence’

‘People no longer write for someone to learn something. Perish the thought, what disrespect! the reading public knows everything already. It isn’t the reader that needs the author…no, it’s the author who needs the reader. An author is therefore quite simply someone with financial problems.’

‘Since earliest childhood an arrow of grief has been buried in my heart. As long as it stays there I am ironic – if it is drawn out I will die.’

‘Most people tend to have two advisers, one for the moment of danger when they are afraid. Then when things are going well they would rather have nothing to do with him, for the sight of him reminds them how weak they were’

References
Carlisle, C. (2005) Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Becoming, University of New York Press
Gupta, A. (2005) Kierkegaard’s Romantic Legacy – Two theories of the Self, University of Ottawa Press
Kierkegaard, S. (1996) Papers and Journals: A Selection, Penguin Classics
Poole. R. Stangerup, H. (1989) A Kierkegaard Reader, Fourth Estate Limited

 

Books which paint a grim future #we’reallreallfucked

Last year we all had to face the crushing disappoint that it was 2015 and the scum who wrote Back to the Future II had massively over-estimated how far hoverboard technology was going to progress (we all still have to use non-hovering type transport like suckers and it leaves a bitter, bitter taste). But if you want to be glass half full, at least we’re not currently residing in one of these dystopian societies from 20th century literature (*the key-word is ‘currently’ there. If there’s full anarchy by next week I don’t want to look like an idiot).

I’ll try not to give spoilers here:

Handmaids Tale (Margaret Atwood, 1985)

For me out of all these books listed, the state of Gilead sounded like the worst future hypothetical, totalitarian society to live in – specifically if you’re a woman. It’s ruled by the idea of positive restriction, and the narrator known only as ‘Offred’ is of the first generation of women who is stripped of every freedom and valued solely on her ability to reproduce. What’s particularly frightening is how Offred has no way of knowing what is happening in the outside world as the media cannot be trusted and she is not permitted to watch the news.

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley, 1932)

(It was quite a few years ago that I read Brave New World so forgive me it isn’t as fresh in my head). In the World State, humans are mass produced in hatcheries and are conditioned to be the perfect consumer and to instinctively hate books and nature. Family, love and monogamy are now antiquated ideas and ‘everybody belongs to everyone else’ (a quote I’m sure Huxley sometimes bought out if he wanted to initiate a key party). There is also the Savage Reservation where people from the World State can visit to be reminded of how good progress is.

Cats Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut, 1963)

In Cats Cradle the three grown-up children of an eccentric scientist each have a piece of his final invention ‘Ice-Nine’ which has the power of freezing all the worlds water. Most of it is set on the island of San Lorenzo where everyone follows an odd religion called Bokononism, which is pretty much a glorified foot fetish club (there’s a lot about the importance of sole-to-sole contact, its a strange book)

A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess, 1962)

This is one of my favourite books, but I do have a bone to pick with it. At the start the main character, Alex Delarge, successfully cracks onto two girls using what it possibly the shittiest pick-up technique in history: the gist of the quote is ‘Come with uncle…you are invited’. What a load of false advertising, you couldn’t score your own hand with that line.

Anyway, A Clockwork Orange is set in a future where the youths are excessively out of control (a terrifying world where A Current Affair doesn’t need to exaggerate as much). When Alex finally ends up in prison he agrees to undergo a kind of aversion therapy which leaves him feeling ill at the thought of violence and incapable of committing any act of violence. Seemingly it sounds positive, but who wants to live in a society which can take away your ability to choose?

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury, 1953)

In this future, books are prohibited but few people care, and firemen burn books. Televisions have become so big in this future that they’ve become rooms with four screens as walls and people refer to the television characters as their families. Plus if you’re one of the few people who decide to piss the firemen off they send a large mechanical dog after you.

1984 (George Orwell, 1949)

1984

This is true – there was an incident where Amazon removed all copies of 1984 from its Kindles after realising their version was a pirated text; so readers rebooted their kindles to find that 1984 had disappeared. It was all a little interesting, and the kind of thing that possibly sparked some great conspiracy theories (it may be a sign of censorship to come, and I bet the lizard people who live underground were somehow behind it).

Anyway, 1984 is set in Oceania and told from Winston Smith’s perspective. Being a book of its time, aspects of Oceania are meant to mirror the Stalinist system. The Party controls everything: it rewrites history through censorship, monitors every action through telescreens, a new type of speech has been created to eliminate certain words, there is no way of knowing if you can trust anybody, and if you commit thoughtcrime you’re massively in the shit (I hear that sometimes they even force people to watch celebrity Big Brother in Room 101). Also if you’re still not convinced that Oceania isn’t pretty grim, sex is also forbidden.

Bernard Black is my spirit animal

My last job interview I was asked what my spirit animal was. I’m a huge disappointment and I did not answer that question truthfully – my spirit animal is hands down Bernard Black from Black Books. 

This beautiful Irish chain smoking filth wizard, who nearly bought the world the classic children’s book The Elephant and His Balloon, is living the dream – he gets to be all witty and grumpy while surrounded by books with a red wine in his hand. I strive to one day have my sense of shame that dead, and to be able to come up with insults that creative. If I had to narrow down my favourite Bernard moment it would be a draw between when he attempted to get himself beaten up to avoid doing his taxes, and the wicker chair incident.

He’s unsocial, childish, drunk, quite mad, slightly evil, always flailing his arms in the air dramatically, and he’s drops pearls of wisdom like ‘pineapples grow in space’ and ‘no one’s prepared to admit wine doesn’t really have a taste’. He’s a legend, and I love his thing against children and how he does secretly care about Manny.

 

The Fouco-so Brother. Check it Out!

(I think my feature image may be the exact moment it dawned on Foucault that the baldness was not going to be a temporary thing. With his eyes he’s saying goodbye to his once luscious locks.)

This week in honour of the turtle-neck sweater aficionado himself, I’m going to have a little ponder over Foucault’s theory of micro-power: because it’s quite fascinating and I’m in the mood get all confused and have a small existential crisis here in the library.

Anyway, if you’ve ever taken history units at uni, odds are Foucault has been mentioned. His work was predominately concerned with questioning the popular interpretation of historical events as orderly, and a progressive development towards greater rationality. For Foucault, history is not linear, its an ongoing struggle for power between dominant groups. The theory of micro-power refers to how the power struggle of our time is expressed on and through our bodies.

According to Foucault, our body is the ‘inscribed surface of events’ (which sounds a bit like he secretly had a dolphin tramp-stamp that he did not regret #yolo). Power is always tied to the body, and shows itself  through the way we intuitively act out our gender roles, class and culture – we are the embodiment of our historical period.  This is seen for instance, in medieval times, when power belonged to the King: if a subject broke the law it was written on their body through torture. Additionally, categories which we use to define ourselves are created by power structures in order to make distinctions between things.

Even if you believe Foucault is being far too melodramatic here, and that we hold much more free-will over our bodies and personalities than his theory implied, it’s still incredible/a bit of a mind fuck to think that the extent of Power and History’s influence over who we are as individuals is unknowable. Thank you Foucault, my brain hurts a lot now!

References
Schirato, T. Danaher, J. (2012) Understanding Foucault: A Critical Introduction, Allen & Unwin