Don’t fall for their cuteness; children/youths in fiction who are terrifying

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I was never a scout so I didn’t realise until Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties that ‘brownies’ refers to a fairy tale about a tiny race of people who will tidy and make themselves useful while the adults of the house are asleep (I always assumed that the brownie organisation chose that name because it was cute or they wore brown uniforms or they sold brownies at some point in history).

The story is from 1870 by Juliana Horatia Ewing, and frankly even as a child I would’ve thought what a load of bullshit, with the twist being that after a long journey into the forest the girls learn that brownies are simply children who are suck-ups and wake up at dawn to do housework and don’t want any credit. And I say nah, kids aren’t that selfless and if they’re going to the effort of getting up at 4am to contribute you bet your sweet a that they’re not doing it anonymously.

Based on the books I’ve picked for this post; the changeling myth is probably a bit more realistic. According to that age-old legend, a changeling is a demon or fairy replacement who has been left in the place of a normal – usually unbaptized – child. The fairies or demons will give the abducted child to the devil or use it to strengthen fairy population; meanwhile if you have your suspicions, Irish folklore on changelings tells you to watch out for physical give-aways in your child like an adult level beard or long teeth.

So let’s talk about children/youth from literature who scare me and who wouldn’t be caught dead cleaning the house in secret just to be a nice guy – unless it was part of an elaborate, well-constructed scheme to gain trust from the adults and ultimately utilise that trust for evil bidding!

The Midwich Cuckoos (John Wyndham, 1957)

I wrote about Midwich Cuckoos in my fictional places blogpost, and while I generally try to avoid writing about the same book twice, a list of evil children from fiction would feel incomplete without a least mentioning this ominous pack of identical blonde youth (it’s probably also an incomplete list without mentioning Lord of the Flies too but I’ve not read that one so that’s a shame).

Midwich is a fictional isolated English village where one evening all the residents inexplicably fall asleep and wake up to find that every woman is pregnant. Similar to changelings, it turns out the entire village has been impregnated by aliens, with the book even being named after a real family of parasitic birds which lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, for other the birds to then raise.

And just like changelings, physical and mental differences make these children identifiable – with their golden eyes, blonde hair, shared mind and rapid development. Their evil deeds largely involve mind reading and causing ‘accidents’ to those they suspect mean them harm.

Rosemary’s Baby (Ira Levin, 1967) *spoilers

This is one of those rare books, where the novel is largely identical to the film – which for me made Rosemary’s failed attempt to reach out for help from an outside doctor even more tragic because I knew it was going to play out exactly the same as it did in the 1968 film adaption.

Here, a young married couple – Rosemary and Guy – move into a sought-after New York apartment building called the Bramford. This (fictional) gothic building has a historic reputation for witchcraft, but it’s vast and fancy and Rosemary and Guy are adults so they’re excited and move in anyway.

Now that they’ve got a fancy abode, Rosemary wants to start trying for kids however Guy only changes his mind once the couple become acquainted with their eccentric neighbours. Guy is an aspiring actor, and long story short, the neighbours are Satanists who promise Guy that his acting career will pick up if Rosemary carries the son of Satan.

While the book finishes with Rosemary choosing to raise her son anyway, despite knowing this, we don’t actually know how the baby turns out. His father is Satan though and he has piercing red eyes so surely he’s a bit of a rascal at the very least.

A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess, 1962)

Again this is another book I’ve written about in a previous post, but that post was five years ago so fuck it let’s revisit.

In a dystopian future where campy teen gangs rule the street while wearing matching elaborate costumes and talking entirely in futuristic Russian-cockney slang; the main character Alex is fifteen in the first chapter where, as the head of his gang of five – beats up a beggar, steals a car, tortures a writer and gang-rapes their wife, and ultimately unintentionally kills someone all in the span of two nights. The accidental murder is the crime with Alex is sent to prison for.

We need to talk about Kevin (Lionel Shriver, 2003)

This is a good book because you’re never entirely certain whether Kevin is inherently evil or if it’s his mother interpreting everything he did as malicious even as an infant.

The narrator is Eva Khatchadourian; a former travel writer who never wanted children but conceded to make her husband, Franklin happy. Kevin is her now fifteen year old son who is in jail following a school massacre he alone perpetrated. Told through letters to her husband, Eva traces their relationship and her feelings towards Kevin throughout his life, and it’s a classic nature versus nurture thing where you’re not sure if Eva’s perspective can be entirely trusted and you’re left wondering whether part of it was that Kevin could sense that his mother never liked him.

Sisters (Daisy Johnson, 2020) *spoilers (kinda)

In comparison to the last three books, the evilness is this one is more of you’re regular high school cruelty. I’m not going to give too much of this one away because it’s quite surrealist and blurry but its about two eerily close sisters, July and September, who are moving to their family’s abandoned beach house with their mother, following a mysterious incident that happened at school.

Told from July’s perspective, it turns out the catalyst for this mysterious incident was September wanting to take revenge on the classmates who had catfished July into thinking a boy she liked was talking to her, then subsequently convinced her to send nudes and sent them around the school because high school is awful sometimes.

Book Recommendations from Daria Morgendorffer’s Reading List

Image result for Daria Morgendorffer reading

My two favourite tv bookworms would probably be, Daria Morgendorffer from Daria and Mark Corrigan from Peep Show. Everyone’s favourite, Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls, shits me for one reason: I don’t think it’s realistic (regardless of her being gifted) that a teenager whose life is interesting enough that she’s in a quirky jam every week with her mother, has time to read 339 bulky and often dry as fuck classics on top of her schoolwork (give me a break, she’s just holding at least some of them to look like a boffin. I’m calling bullshit! No one under 20 is reading Ulysses unless someone’s holding a gun to their head for several months). 

Daria ran for five seasons, during which 62 books are either read, or referenced, by the brooding misfit – that’s a believable number (and I want only realistic standards for bookish types dammit! unless it’s Lisa Simpson; she’s been eight for 30 years, she can go read Gore Vidal and it not be weird that she’s in primary school).

The Simpsons Episode 25 GIF

The Simpsons Episode 25 GIF

Anyway the reason I’m bringing up every cynical teen’s hero is because I read a surprising bit of trivia recently; only seven of the 62 books Daria reads over the course of the show, are by women. 

Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with the character, this was unexpected because Daria is considered a bit of a 1990s feminist icon – and while she’s fictional, the writers/artists of the show would’ve thought carefully about what books to draw her with to best represent her personality and intellect. 

This got me thinking about my own reading habits and how I too could definitely stand to branch out and read more from different perspectives. 

It’s certainly not been an intentional choice, and this isn’t to say I don’t think the books I read aren’t varied: it’s more something I’ve noticed I could improve, especially when it comes to fiction – because in the fiction department I tend to go for old books or books regarded traditionally as classics and with that there’s a risk of complacence as well as not proactively searching for voices that were/are marginalised but are equally as worthy (or I could just read more fiction brought out in this millennia with an author who’s still alive).  

And I know out the four books I’m about to talk about from Daria’s reading list, only one is by a woman but I promise that with future blogposts I am going to make a better effort to read more diversely and have slightly less dead white guys. Anyway here are four of my favourites that the sarcastic legend is spotted reading! [Of the seven books from the list written by women, I’ve only read two and I’ve already written about Frankenstein in a previous blogpost so I didn’t want to double up] 

The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath, 1963)

A bell jar traps whatever’s displayed inside – and while transparent, the glass warps the perception of what’s outside the bell jar. This is how The Bell Jar’s protagonist, Esther Greenwood, describes the growing isolation she feels as her mental health descends – ‘under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air’. 

Told from Esther’s perspective, The Bell Jar begins with the aspiring poet (and recent college graduate) completing a summer internship in New York City for Ladies’ Day magazine. She applies for a writing program which commences immediately after the internship finishes; but following her rejection, Esther moves back to her mothers for the rest of the summer and attempts to start a novel.

However, feeling as though she has no life experience to write something meaningful, teaming with the daunting realisation that college is over and none of the limited paths she has to choose from appeal to her, Esther feels the descent of the bell jar hovering above her head and must eventually undergo electric shock therapy and analysis at the mental asylum.

This is one of those books where I feel like you’re not really going to get a lot out of reading it until life’s thrown you around a little, or you’ve at least feared that your life is directionless.

It’s embarrassing but nineteen was too young for me, and my first impression of The Bell Jar was that it was average. I couldn’t understand what had spurred Esther’s breakdown: myself being a little too immature to get that that’s part of the point – as well as failing to read it with the historical context that opportunities for women were a lot more limited then, or truly appreciate that it was written by a poet who did end her own life less than a month after it was published. In other words I’m very glad I revisited it last year.

Nausea (Jean Paul Sartre, 1938)

You know how in Rocket Man, where it’s a Saturday night and they’re at a rowdy venue and you get the sneaky suspicion that a fight is about to break out so Elton can conveniently play ‘Saturday Night’s Alright’ (oh so subtle); Nausea is kind of like that, in that Sartre’s philosophical ideas are what he wanted to primarily discuss and the story fits around those discussions.

For the French existentialist/campus legend (apparently he once turned up naked at a university event, what a mad dog), “existence precedes essence”, in other words life is all about creating meaning through action.

Like The Bell Jar, Nausea’s main fellow is a writer, called Antoine Roquentin, who is having a ponder –not just about the point of his existence, but human existence in general.

Roquentin documents every thought and sensation he has in order to fully comprehend his own existence (sounding like a writer who’s got a wee bit too much time to kill) and comes to the conclusion that there’s no reason for any of us to exist, the past is meaningless and what he’s going to do with his newfound free will is to write a novel.

The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck, 1939)

Image result for The Simpsons Grapes of Wrath

In 1948, Stalin allowed the film adaption of The Grapes of Wrath to be released in the USSR because it depicts destitute Americans and it heavily criticises capitalism. This backfired however as Soviet citizens turned out to be impressed that even the poorest Americans owned cars.

The first time I read The Grapes of Wrath I was also nineteen (the uni library had a stellar American classics section) and I reread it again this year because 2020 hadn’t made me cry enough on its own. 

I love Steinbeck, and I know this book has received contemporary criticism for having historical inaccuracies but it still has merit regardless; you can feel Steinbeck’s raw anger like he’s talking to you and his point has that rare quality of being both of its time and equally politically pertinent now. There’s a reason he received the Nobel Prize of Literature for it and if anyone wants to tell me it wasn’t their cup of tea that’s fine but you have terrible taste and we’re going to have to take this outside!

During the Great Depression over a half a million Americans migrated west in the space of two to three years; The Grapes of Wrath focuses on a fictional Oklahoma family, the Joads, who lose their farm due to draught, recession and the introduction of tractors. Their only option is to make their way to California and try to get work fruit picking. The book follows the Joads’ journey travelling on Route 66 with everything they own in a beat up Hudson, and the disheartening reality that awaits them as migrant workers, when they finally reach California.

Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut, 1973)

This one’s a lot more fun compared to the other books on this list – it has many delightful illustrations from Vonnegut himself and a fascinating theory about mirrors being ‘leaks’ to different dimensions – good choice Daria.

So this one splits between two strangers, Kilgore Trout – an elusive and essentially unrecognised science fiction writer, and Dwayne Hoover – a mentally unstable yet respected car dealership owner and local businessman, Dwayne eventually reads a novel by Trout, after a chance meeting at an arts festival, and takes his book literally that he (Dwayne) is the only free-willed being in the universe with dire consequences. As the narrator, Vonnegut also interjects regularly to give his hot take on life.

[Images via Triple M, Bookglow, Scoopnest, and aerogrammestudio]

Book Fate

Look, I don’t believe things happen for a predetermined cosmic reason. What’s the point in trying and living in this moment if it’s all already planned? But I do believe in book fate – I know it sounds strange, but let me explain.

I used to have a to-read list; but its length was getting more and more intimating, until it dawned on me that even if I ran away from all of my commitments and started living in a cave and drinking my own piss, there’s no way known I’d be done with that list in no less than thirty years.

So now I just let whatever I’m going to read next find me instead, and scarily what I’m reading tends to find me at exactly the right time and when I’m able to take the most out of it.

There are certain quotes and snippets of narrative, that I still love partly because of the solace they were able to give me at a certain point in my life when I first read them.

I needed to read Stephen Fry’s first two autobiographies – Moab is my Washpot and The Fry Chronicles, as an anxiety-ridden eighteen year old. This one line in particular made me feel like I wasn’t alone,

“I would always be the same maddening, monstrous, mixture of pedantry, egoism, politeness, selfishness, kindliness, sneakiness, larkiness, sociability, loneliness, ambition, ordered calmness & hidden intensity”

There’s the Fig Tree Analogy from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which at the time I remember thinking, it perfectly summed up that underlying fear of inadequacy when you’re surrounded by endless choice.

“I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and one by one they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

And then there are certain books which I probably would’ve quit if I had started reading them at any other time. For instance, Confederacy of Dunces: if I hadn’t have gone into reading it knowing that it was on Bowie’s list of top 100 books I would’ve quit it at the start (IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR DAVID IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU ELLEN YOU SCUM).

I just love letting some scungy looking second-hand book walk into my life and suddenly it’s changed me a little, for the better. It also gets bonus points if it has one of those old library stamp cards taped on the inside.

Literary Troublemakers Who Had Stellar Sarcasm & Fibbing Ability

As someone who despite logic, still worries deeply what other people think, I find myself very drawn to characters who just don’t give a single fuck. Here are a few big beautiful loudmouths from literature who knew what they were about:

Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, 1958)

‘it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The Saxon Hall was supposed to be a very big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn’t win’

When this book first came out, a lot of critics interpreted Holden Caulfield’s character as disturbed. Maybe this says something about me, but I don’t think that’s fair. Personally, I think this grey haired sixteen year old is a realistic embodiment of being young and thinking – yeah I’m pretty fucking smart and everyone else is an idiot.

Golden lines such as ‘almost every time someone gives me a present, it ends up making me sad’ or ‘I’m not too crazy about sick people anyway’; remind me for example, of my favourite comment to come out of my then 14 year old cousin’s mouth – ‘I hate having to tell old people that their food sucks’.

For those of you who are unfamiliar; in The Catcher in the Rye Holden has just found out that he is being kicked out of another school. He decides to leave early before his parents have been notified, and go to New York for a few days, giving his parents ‘the opportunity to thoroughly digest the news’ before he comes back.

I loved this book and I really wish I had read it while I was still in High School (cause it wouldn’t have hurt me to be ever so slightly, less of a goody-goody). A few of the reasons Holden is on this list include:

  • having pride in his lying ability – ‘I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life’
  • Yelling ‘sleep tight ya morons!’ through the hall of his dorm in the middle of the night, as he left
  • His overall life philosophy against ‘phonies’

Ignatius J. Reilly (A Confederacy of Dunces, 1980)

‘Talc you have been found guilty of misleading and perverting the young. I decree that you be hung by your underdeveloped testicles until dead. Zorro’

I noticed that like Holden Caulfield, Ignatius also wears a hunting cap! I’ve reached the only logical conclusion that hunting caps have eerie powers, and fashioning one increases your brain’s wise-ass cells.

Anyway, if you’re a masters student like me, reading A Confederacy of Dunces might make you a wee bit self conscious – like, oh dear god!!!! do I ever sound like that when I choose to use a fancier word?

Ignatius J. Reilly is a highly educated yet unemployable thirty year old who lives with his mother in New Orleans, and is quite deluded regarding how important he actually is. Interestingly, he perfectly fits TLC’s definition of a scrub given he also can’t drive.

He is excessively sensitive; with his ‘heart-valve’ issue, and his refusal to let go of an incident where he got motion sickness on a bus (describing it as as one of ‘the traumas that have created my worldview’). However his sense of shame is dead.

Notable moments in the novel where I was in awe of Ignatius’ ability to not give a fuck include:

  • His attempt to initiate a militant style coup the at Levy Pants factory
  • Getting into a fight while working as a hot-dog vendor, in his pirate costume
  • Refusing to mark any of the student essays while he worked as a professor

Captain Yossarian (Catch 22, 1955)

[on inkblots] ‘you can save yourself the trouble doctor everything reminds me of sex’

Set during World War II; Yossarian is a pilot who has completed his set amount of missions, and wants to be sent home. Throughout Catch 22 Yossarian is attempting to be classified as insane due to the reluctance of his superiors to send him home. However  this is struggle due to Catch 22, which specifies that ‘a concern for ones own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind.’

Yossarian’s ability to cause trouble for the higher authorities means, that for Colonel Cathcart, the ‘very sight of his name made him shudder’. Moments where he was a massive pain in the ass include:

  • Falling in love at first sight with a woman he’d never spoken to, and inadvertently initiating a ‘moaning epidemic’ during a briefing.
  • Boycotting wearing his uniform after a dying man bled all over him, and accepting his heroism award naked.
  • Coming up with dynamite questions in the educational sessions such as ‘who is Spain?’ ‘why is Hitler?’

I also love when he has to share his tent with youths, how he does NOT appreciate the nickname ‘yo yo’

Brilliant future book club ideas

So I was listening to ‘Anonymous Club’ on the long drive back from Ballarat to Melbourne. When I’m left on my own too long – especially in the car, I’ll suddenly decide to have this big formal meeting between myself and my brain, and together we’ll come up with some diamond plans.

Anyway, whenever I hear this song it tends to spur a brainstorm on potential clubs I could start. Here is the fruit of my labour from this last trip: I give you my brilliant future book club ideas.

  1. If I were the leader of a book club, all the meetings would begin with me doing a heart warming interpretive dance to either Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ (possibly involving a ribbon) or Elvis Costello’s ‘Everyday I Write the Book’.
  2. Wookie Booky – where we all have to dress as Chewbacca and speak in shyriiwook while having a deep and meaningful about the romantic poets. (Side note, apparently all the wookie suits from the movie were made from human hair!)
  3. Books, Bikes & Bitches – a part book club, part biker gang. Where we all dress massively rebelliously, and we pick a nice place to cycle.
  4. Grapes of Wrath – Where we all discuss books and simultaneously attempt to make homemade wine in the bathtub by stomping on grapes.
  5. 1984 – Where every meeting finishes with a half an hour dance party to songs from the year 1984
  6. I’m not sure yet what this would be called, but a book club where the members attempt to make a pair of pants out of the heaviest book they own.
  7. Clockwork Orange – where if a member has forgotten to read the book, everyone gets to throw oranges at them. Or it could be darker, if they’ve forgotten to read the book they have to wear the device from Clockwork Orange which stops you from blinking and they’re forced to watch something really shit – like an hour of Escape to the Country
  8. Robert Frost Book Club – where you have to read Robert Frost’s The Road Less Travelled  as fast as you can out-loud. Every member is timed, and everyone gets to throw snowballs at whoever was the slowest.

 

Books that teach you how to do a smooth stalking

Back in olden times – before the internet was a deeply entrenched part of our culture, and we weren’t all technologically savvy – if you wanted to do a stalking you had to rely on your own wits.

Our poor ancestors couldn’t just do a sneaky stalk of someones Facebook wall, they needed to put in the man-hours to gain valuable intel.

This is quite noticeable in older literature. Here are some examples from classics that are about as subtle as a brick to the face.

The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald, 1925)

I like to think that there was one Gatsby party that was so excruciatingly shit and awkward that it didn’t make it into the novel. One that wasn’t exactly off the chain, and everyone was in bed by 8.30pm. I’ll level with you, I only made it up to page 52 of The Great Gatsby, then I lost interest. For all I know the rest of the book could’ve just been 100 pages detailing this one crap party Jay held.

Anyway, if this novel has taught us nothing else, its that if you’re trying to win back your former lover, she’ll be nothing but massively impressed if you buy the house directly across from her and throw loud parties every single night.

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Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1985)

In this book Florentino shows his lady-love that smooth is his middle name by cracking onto her at her husbands funeral. Dude! I know you’ve been waiting a really long time for her to be back on the market but maybe pick a better time.

Of Human Bondage (W. Somerset Maugham, 1915)

Look there’s no denying that in this book Mildred is a piece of human shit, BUT in fairness she did repeatedly say to the main character Phillip that she wasn’t interested. She even made a point of telling him more than once that she didn’t like having to kiss him. This doesn’t deter Phillip though, he knows that he can’t change her mind but he still can’t let go of hope.

This is actually a pretty good book, but you do feel quite drained reading about these futile feelings Phillip holds. I just wish I could give him a hug and say please just let her go.

Perfume Story of a Murderer (Patrick Süskind, 1985)

This is a pretty odd book. I think the moral of the story was virgins smell fantastic.

Anyway, I’m over-simplifying the plot here, but majority of Perfume is Jean Baptiste Grenouille lurking around French markets then secretly following around women who happen to have a nice natural scent. He’s a bit of a wrongin – there were also some blatant un-dealt with mummy issues here.

Rebecca (Daphne de Maurier, 1938)

Rebecca is about an unnamed protagonist who marries a older man, Maxim. When Maxim takes her back to his giant house (called Manderley), she is haunted by constant reminders of his deceased first wife Rebecca. Specifically, the housekeeper – Mrs Danvers, is not particularly impressed that Maxim has remarried, and throughout the book gets increasingly more passive-aggressive towards the main character.

Its very much a book of its time, in that the main character could’ve just told Mrs Danvers to fuck off if she wasn’t bound by very British conventions of social etiquette.

Anyway, while Mrs Danvers doesn’t teach you how to do a stalking, but she’s filled with diamond tips on how to do an obsession.

She loathes Maxim’s new wife only because she adored Rebecca so much; and the house is kept precisely as Rebecca had left it not because Maxim likes it that way, but because Mrs Danvers wants it preserved.

Using Neruda to crack onto people

At the moment I’m hearing the song ‘Treat you Better’ all the time, and its really shitting me to tears. I hate those kinds of songs where the basis is, a persons significant other is shit and they should really consider chucking them because in my (the singer’s) humble, and completely unbiased*, opinion I’m way better to date. 

I’d love to hear a response song to ‘Treat you Better’ called ‘I still stand by my decision Shawn Mendes! I’m a grown woman who can make my own choices. Fuck off’** . 

Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this song up is because its clearly an attempt to entice this woman using the medium of song – and therefore poetry, and frankly it sucks. It instantly made me think of Pablo Neruda’s beautiful poem If you Forget Me in comparison.

If you want to win somebody’s heart with words, my advice is to seek Pablo Neruda for inspiration. In If you Forget Me, Neruda writes that he will respect her feelings if she does not love him – ‘I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land’.

However if she feels that they are destined for each other ‘ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated’ – now that’s a man.

Neruda is my favourite poet, and he is hands down the smoothest mother-fucker in poetry! When he wrote about romantic love he wrote with a burning passion.

He described his subjects in intrinsic detail, and as though the whole universe conspired for them to be together. In Your Feethe writes ‘I love your feet only because they walked upon the earth and upon the wind and upon the waters, until they found me.’

When Neruda described their beauty or their body, he would do so with nature metaphors and in way that suggested complete adoration -‘Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace. My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road’.

So I guess my point is if you’re planning on writing a song and/or poem to a love interest that details how much you fancy them and outlines what a fabulous catch you are, read some Neruda. Here’s a few more quotes to get you started:

‘I have gone marking the atlas of your body with crosses of fire’ – I Have Gone Marking 

‘In you the rivers sing and my soul flees in them’ – Ah Vastness of Pines

‘Naked, you are simple as a hand, minimal, supple, earthy, transparent, round. The lunar markings, the pathway through the apple, are yours; naked, you are slender as the wheat.’  – Morning

‘I waken and widen my eyes, and you plant in my flesh the darkening stars that rise in my soul’ – Girl Gardening

‘I want to do to you what spring does with the cherry trees’ – Everyday you Play

How could one not love her great still eyes’ – Tonight I can Write 

 

 

(*its just such a shit song! of course you think she’s in ‘the wrong situation’ if you’re also trying to tap in)

(** also while we’re on the topic, in Taylor Swift’s song ‘You Belong With Me’ I really would love to know the joke Taylor refers to at the start that she found amusing but this boy’s girlfriend didn’t. Was the joke concerning the girlfriends physical appearance? Did he give her an unflattering nickname like Chewbacca?)

Those Times Kierkegaard was the best darn life-coach

So I googled Søren 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’

Shitty Things Greek Gods Did

Momus was the Greek God of ridicule and sarcasm. He sounds like the god for me, I’d definitely build him a shrine.

So this week I’ve written a quick list of my personal favourite times Greek Gods made a bit of a dick move, or had ego’s that were far too sensitive.

Because the Greek Gods were quite entertaining: they were incredibly powerful and tended to be ridiculously attractive so their ability to handle disappoint in a calm, adult manner, left a lot to be desired.

Cronus – the God of time and father of Zeus swallowed each of his children as soon as they were born

Zeus – the ruler of heaven/Olympus. This’ll take a while, he was quite a prick. We may need to do this in dot-points

  • That time he was massively pissed off with Prometheus –Prometheus made an agreement with the Gods that he would slay an ox and half would be given to the Gods. Zeus selected one portion that would henceforth be set apart for them, but Prometheus tricked him by making the shittier half look more appealing and Zeus was not impressed. Zeus tried to punish Prometheus by refusing humans the gift of fire, so in retaliation Prometheus gave Zeus a big fuck you by stealing some sparks from the sun. So Zeus took it up a notch: he sent the creation of Pandora as a gift to Prometheus’ house and she opened a jar filled with all the blessing reserved by the gods for mankind, which he had been forbidden to open. All the blessing flew away except for Hope. Then Zeus chained Prometheus to a rock and sent an eagle every day FOR THIRTY YEARS to gnaw away at his liver, which would grow back again every night. Dude you’re Zeus, is the ox that big a deal? Kill your own friggen ox you lazybones!
  • Tricking Europa – One day while Europa was innocently gathering flowers in a meadow, Zeus disguised himself as a white bull as some kind of bizarre dating tactic. Europa was surprised by the bull’s gentleness and seated herself on its back, Zeus immediately swam across the sea with her to the island of Crete. I like the reasoning behind this decision – I’ll dress up in a bull costume, bitches love bull’s right?
  • Persephone – Another example of why you shouldn’t go wandering around a lovely meadow, they are dangerous places dammit!! Persephone was gathering flowers one day when suddenly an abyss opened at her feet and Aides (ruler of the underworld) appeared and took her away to the underworld. It was Zeus who gave Aides permission to steal his daughter, in order that she could become his wife – and no he hadn’t discussed this decision with Persephone or her mother Demeter (prick).

Eris – the goddess of Discord. This particular story really does sound like some that would be on Real Housewives. So there was a wedding between a sea-nymph, Thetis, to a mortal, Peleus, and all the Gods and Goddesses had been invited except Eris. Eris therefore was determined to ruin this wedding, and did this by throwing into the room a golden apple with the inscription ‘For the Fairest’. All the goddesses begun fighting over who was the hottest (love how no one thought maybe we should just give this to the bride to be nice), and finally after long debate it was agreed that the three finalists Hera, Athene and Aphrodite would accept Paris’ decision. Paris chose Aphrodite, and Hera never forgave him and persecuted Paris and his family.

Demeter – the goddess of agriculture. In general she was nice enough, but once she cracked the shits with a youth who made fun of her for eating porridge too quickly, and turned him into a lizard.

Phoebus-Apollo – the god of light, prophecy, music, poetry and the arts and sciences. I have two favourite times Apollo acted like a shit. The first was the contest he had with Pan (god of shepherds) over who sounded better – Pan on the flute or Apollo or his lyre. Apollo had WON this contest yet still chose to punish the one judge who disagreed with the decision by giving him the ears of a donkey.

The second story is once his favourite bird, the crow, told Apollo that his wife was in love with another. Apollo was so upset that he instantly killed her with one of his death-bringing arrows. Then he actually thought about it, realised he might have been too hasty, and decided to punish the crow by changing the colours of his feathers from white to black. The crow was just the messenger dude!

Hephaestus – the god of fire in its beneficial aspect and son of Zeus (who wasn’t though, try keeping it in your pants Zeus). As revenge he gave his mother, Hera, a golden throne which once she was seated she would be unable to get back up from.

Amphitrite – the wife of Poseidon, god of the sea. Because she was quite jealous of a beautiful maiden called Scylla, Amphitrite threw herbs into a well where Scylla was bathing and this transformed her into a monster with twelve feet, six heads and the voice that resembled the bark of a dog.

Artemis – the goddess of hunting and chastity, and interesting fun-fact was raised by a she-bear (imagine the yo’mamma jokes she survived in high school, that’s why is was angry). Once a King neglected to include her in a general sacrifice to the gods. Artemis responded to the snubbing by sending a huge boar to destroy his kingdoms grain and cause famine.

Dionysus – the god of wine. He sounded like a bit of a ragamuffin you’d find on schoolies week, and was often depicted riding a panther. Dionysus invented wine and gained a devoted following, however the King of Thrace often had to have a stern word with him as he disapproved of the behaviour of Dionysus’ followers.

Utilizing Philosophy to Become the Ultimate Victor in an argument

Although I spent the bulk of my high school philosophy classes turning the philosophers on the worksheets into drag-queens, I can still help you find an obscure philosophy reference that you can bring up in an argument, to win, or at least confuse the person you’re dealing with. So here’s some tips:

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(*side note – these techniques are enhanced ten-fold when you add “so shove that up your bollocks!!!!” to the end of the conversation. And possibly flip them the bird a few times in case there’s any confusion)

The old ‘that’s a fallacy’ defence 

Its surprisingly hard to completely avoid fallacies, and even bringing up the word fallacy, is quite intimidating (and a hint douchey). Common fallacies you could look for include:

  1. Slippery Slope – one course of action will invariably cause one particular consequence
  2. Straw Man – the arguer creates a simplified version of what you said and criticises that, rather than your original argument
  3. Naturalistic fallacy – stating that something is moral because it exists in nature

Pull a Socrates

Engage them in a long, tedious dialogue where you insist on an in-depth analysis of every point they’ve just made and the meaning of each word they’ve just used (and do it in a toga for full effect)

If deep down you know that you’re the one who’s fucked up 

  1. Virtue Theory – this believes that a virtuous person will always make the right choice, so you could try making a big case about how you’re very virtuous to justify yourself
  2. Utilitarianism – If your course of action caused more pleasure for the most amount of people than it caused harm, you could bring up utilitarianism. OR you could say that it just caused so much happiness for you personally that it justifies it (but that might be rubbing salt  in the wound)
  3. Perspectivism – The truth differs depending on where it’s viewed from. Or you could really take it up a notch by asking ‘what is truth?’ and bringing up Dualism. They’ll be so distracted by pondering their existence and whether they’re a brain in a jar they might forget the whole unpleasantness.
  4. Idealism – this is perfect for if you’ve eaten some of your room-mates food for example. Simply state that an object/thing can only exist so long as its being perceived – if you can’t see your box of pop-tarts, maybe they never existed to begin with? Mention John Locke in there as well to really look like you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Bringing up Lacan – Jacques Lacan wrote an analysis of a widely reported case of a woman called Aimee who had stabbed an actress. Lacan suggested that in stabbing the actress Aimee was stabbing herself, because the actress was the embodiment of who she wanted to be. You could use this to flatter somebody maybe? Like, I did the wrong thing by you because I think you’re the greatest! Lets hug!
  6. Bringing up Nietzsche – you could use the old ‘Will to Power’ argument that Nietzsche and Foucault were so fond of. A belief that meaning, ideas, rules, truth ect. do not emerge naturally but are created to support the strongest social group. So you didn’t do the wrong thing, you were making a stand against a  social construct! Or bring up Slave & Master Morality (also known as the ‘don’t hate me cause I’m awesome defence’) which in summary believes that your actions and character are not two separate entities:

‘popular morality separates strength from the manifestation of strength as though they were indifferent substratum’