Through the looking glass…

I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!- Lewis Carroll 

Imagine walking in to the bedroom you’ve slept in for the past  6 months. Everything is there in substance, the sewing machine table you lovingly restored, trinkets and pictures you carefully picked and placed, the clothes you discarded only hours before. Everything is the same, yet when you look around the room it is as if you have never been there before- things look different, brighter, bigger, moved around. You’ve not taken any mind altering drugs, but your brain is suffering a massive internal disturbance; stretching and distorting what you know until you don’t recognise it anymore.

On first reading, you’d be forgiven for thinking Alice in Wonderland is a rare look in to the mind of a genius, drug addicted writer who has spilled his visions out on to paper. Certainly, that was my initial thought- it mirrored The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’- cellophane flowers, a hookah smoking caterpillar and tablets which change your size and shape. It wasn’t until I discovered that Lewis Carroll suffered with migraine that it all started to make sense. Take the first hypothetical situation I put forward and then consider that this actually happened to me only a few days ago. It is clear that Carroll was riding on the back of these visual disturbances and distortions to feed his work- and how fantastic the result was.

 

Lewis Carroll isn’t the only gifted artist to have suffered with the affliction of migraine with visual aura. There has been much speculation that Picasso’s work was largely based on the visual disturbances he suffered through migraine. Perhaps if he had found a cure we wouldn’t have had the pleasure of viewing his extraordinary artworks.

The list goes on, it’s clear that people who are afflicted with this terrible problem have, through history, gained some sort of equilibrium with the disease- channeling it to their own benefit. Quite a number of the sufferers I have uncovered were, however,tortured souls who struggled with daily life. Perhaps the affliction is a gift and a curse; we just have to understand it and learn how to live with it.

 

 

I’m halfway through Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov- what a book.

As most people know, it’s a rather harrowing journey into the mind of a pervert. I have been reading it on the bus, cowering over it nervously in case anyone decides to judge me; I figured I’m safe since it’s one of the classics (right?). At first I thought it was my reaction to  the book which was strange, but now I realise the true beauty of the book is the way it has been written; tense, oppressive and full of lies. The main character draws you in to his web, tricking you in to believing his motives and it is not until you step back that you realise you’ve been duped.  Great writing, disturbing subject matter- but I guess that’s what makes a book brilliant in its time.

A month in the life…

Music

Books

Reading has been pitiful recently, the winter months make me sad and in the morning when I’d usually have a solid hour to read, I have been deep in sleep on the bus. I have managed to re-read The Virgin Suicides this month, just because it is such easy reading and one of my favourite books. I have a stack of books to read when I’m on holiday in three weeks:

– Jeffrey Eugenides; Middlesex & The Marriage Plot
– Bret Easton Ellis- Less than zero
– Irvine Welsh- Porno

Films

We started holding a weekly film night with two of our friends; we provide the ‘gourmet’ cooking and they provide interesting conversation. So, there has been a lot of film watching, with and without them:

– Bridesmaids
– The Virgin Suicides
– V for Vendetta
– Leon
– True Romance
– Melancholia

The Virgin Suicides is a great adaptation of the novel; it does leave you wanting more answers than you receive, which can quickly be sought by reading the book. I was pleasantly surprised by Bridesmaids, which promised to be ‘The funniest film of the year’- a bold claim. Having the sense of humour of a thirteen year old boy, I was dubious but the film is actually genuinely funny. Without prejudice, I didn’t expect the Americans to be able to invent a ‘Bridget Jones’ style character with any comedic gravitas but Kristen Wiig pulls off the role with such style- a likeable, funny and humble lead role. There were many laugh out loud moments in that one- and that’s praise coming from someone who only finds three films funny.

Style Obsessions

After watching Melancholia and The Virgin Suicides in quick succession, I realised what I have been missing all this time; Kirsten Dunst is a bonefide style icon. Thank you Kirsten Dunst, you inspired me to cut my hair.

BOOKS 1

Books are my favourite, they smell nice and make you look good in front of your friends. They also provide you with quotes you can apply in everyday life to make connections with other humans.

I have an annoying habit of adding books to my basket on Amazon and never buying them. Because they cost one pence. Nevertheless I did manage to actually buy a ridiculous amount this summer, mainly because I passed Foyles every day and commuted for 4 hours.

I really got into Alice Sebold after I chanced upon her book ‘Lucky’ in a charity shop. Sebold’s martyrish tones and real life angle resonated strongly- leading me to purchase her swansong The Lovely Bones. I read this by the pool in Cyprus. Admittedly it wasn’t the cheeriest read, murder, rape and the like but the front half of the book really absorbed me. The other half tiptoed around the ridiculous and when it was finished I looked at someone and just said ‘Oh’.

What follows will be me recounting my literary travels over the past few months and picking out the best bits.

Our only kiss was like an accident- a beautiful gasoline rainbow- The Lovely Bones

Love Me Do

Last night, on Valentine’s evening- the one day of the year when it is even more unacceptable than ever not to be a couple, I sat on the sofa by myself eating soup and watching ‘Faulks on Fiction: The Lover’. Clearly I have realised the irony of this statement and I have chosen to bypass it.

I’m not an art fan, I don’t get it. I can just about walk around galleries but it really depends if I’m the slightest bit interested in them. Strangely I love photography but I certainly have no tolerance for art which looks like something I could have knocked up on a Friday night after a couple of G+T’s and a novelty takeaway. I love books.

Last night’s episode was a stroll through the literary lovers over the years; from Darcy to D.H Lawrence, but more than that an examination of how a fictional love has become more ‘real’ over the years. I know plenty of men who embody Darcy’s worst characteristics for example, selfish, stuck- up and frankly rude (if Darcy had an iPhone and used Facebook he would be my worst nightmare), but Austen’s use of marriage as ‘the answer’ to his depressed state is quite clearly unrealistic. In the real world, they’d probably begin to drift apart almost immediately.

By the time we reach Lady Chatterley we’ve become slightly more realistic (except none of us live in woods or have hot gamekeepers) but the striking difference is that as time goes on, love becomes more flawed. Thinking about books of our time, love has gone almost full circle, where the Austens of the world portrayed marriage as the centrepiece, now we regard a love story as one where the characters indulge in wild passionate encounters, fall in love, one of them is a wanker or a cheater and it all falls apart…’One Day’ by David Nicholls is a case in point.

As society becomes more and more resistant to the idea of marriage, and relationships become more and more undefined one can only wonder what will become of the literary lover.