Saturday, April 24, 2010

Random Internet Quotes Thursday!

I need a snazzier name for this segment. But this will have to do until I can channel some (un)divine inspiration.

Disclaimer: Not all of these quotes are actually from the internet. So I fail.

As much as I play around with the concept, no one who's actually met a modern female human can believe that we're all fleshy Cathy homunculi made of Activia lids and tampon strings. (Right?)"

Lindy West, Link.

I hope you’re like me. I hope you have put off reading Wuthering Heights forever for some vague reason. Maybe you figure it for weak tea. You’ve heard things. Costumes. A period piece. A love story for the ages. Just pick it up. Don’t read the back. Don’t read the introduction by a noted scholar. Especially don’t look at the cover. Remember that part in the Bible when the rich man gazes up from hell and begs for just a drop of water on his tongue? Spoiler alert: He doesn’t get it. I guess you get a drop of water from Emily Brontë, but just a tiny one, and not before she pulls it away again and again – most awfully and exhilaratingly near the end, when the narrator tortures you by saying (I’ll paraphrase) “Too bad this didn’t end up the way it would in a book.” My jaw dropped cartoonishly, which doesn’t happen often in real life, and it wasn’t the first time. The reading is propulsive, fueled by the adrenaline of helpless dread.

Jack Pendarvis, Link.

Lest anyone try to convince you that God should be separated from the state, our Founding Fathers, they were believers.

Sarah Palin, Link.

...the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.

1797 Treaty of Tripoli

My kingdom is not of this world.

Jesus, John 18:36

I mean, come on Sarah. You can't argue with Jesus.

'Twas beauty killed the beast

Finished reading the short but wonderful King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes, author of the book Baise Moi and co-director of the controversial film adaptation. I had heard of the film as an undergrad in a Film Censorship course. We had to choose between writing on Despentes' film or the likewise controversial I Spit on Your Grave. I chose the latter because I thought it sounded more Tarantino-esque. Baise Moi was temporarily banned in France and Canada with its initial release, and it's still not easy to get a hold of now. Netflix has denied me, and I doubt it's at Blockbuster. Frowny face. I haven't read the original novel either, although it's now on my ever-growing wishlist.

BUT, I found Despentes' King Kong Theory a very empowering and inspiring read. It's one of those books you want to read when you're pissed off at the world (damn you, world!). So here are some snippets:

The character of the loser in the femininity stakes doesn't just appeal to me, she's essential to me. In the same way as is the social, economic or political loser. I prefer the guys who don't make the cut for the simple reason that I myself often don't make it. And because generally speaking humour and invention are to be found on our side: when you don't have what it takes to think highly of yourself, you tend to be more creative. As a girl, I am more King Kong than Kate Moss. I'm the kind of girl you don't get married to, the kind you don't have babies with. I am writing as a woman who is always too much of everything--too aggressive, too noisy, too fat, too rough, too hairy, always too masculine, I am told. And yet's it's my virile, masculine qualities that make me more than just any old social misfit. I owe to my very masculinity everything I like about my life, everything that has saved me.

It has never seemed obvious to me that good lookers are having all that great a time. I have always felt ugly. I put up with it and now I'm starting to appreciate it for having saved me from a crap life in the company of nice, dull, small-town guys who would have taken me nowhere fast. I like myself, as I am, more desiring than desireable.

...this ideal of the attractive but not whorish white woman, in a good marriage but not self-effacing, with a nice job but not so successful she outshines her man, slim but not neurotic over food, forever young without being disfigured by the surgeon's knife, a radiant mother not overwhelmed by nappies and homework, who manages her home beautifully without becoming a slave to housework, who knows a thing or two but less than a man, this happy white woman who is contantly shoved under our noses, this woman we are all supposed to work hard to resemble--nevermind that she seems to be running herself ragged for not much reward--I for one have never met her, not anywhere. My hunch is that she doesn't exist.
Oh she exists, alright. Don't you know June Cleaver?

Also, the premise behind the title of the book, a feminist look at King Kong (which I won't quote here, but it's very intriguing), kept reminding me for some reason of one of my favorite comedians, Sarah Silverman. But I didn't know why. Then I remembered:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Eat, Pray, Read

I apologize for the predictable post title, considering the subject matter.

I decided to read Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love after reading this column by Jessa Crispin over at The Smart Set. Somehow I missed out on this memoir being a huge hit back in 2006. I was probably busy plowing my way through some 1200 page Norton anthology assigned by an over-zealous professor. (Oh god, the tiny 8pt type!)

But I did some research, and wow, Jessa was right about the backlash. Reading some of the reviews on Amazon and other sites, you wonder what these people are so angry about? Why is the idea of a human being living their life the way they want so upsetting to people?

Anyway. If there's one thing I've learned about user reviews of bestselling books, it's that you can't trust them. I've read horrible reviews of popular books I end up loving, and glowing reviews of books I end up throwing out the window.

So I wasn't that surprised when I fell in love with Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, even beyond the fact that it dealt with a few of my favorite subjects: eating, meditation, and travel. I found myself barraging the text with post it notes, scrap pieces of paper, paperclips, etc., trying to mark all the wonderful passages. Here are a few (and apologies, a few are quite long):

Americans have an inability to relax into sheer pleasure. Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment. Americans work harder and longer and more stressful hours than anyone in the world today. But as Luca Spaghetti pointed out, we seem to like it. Alarming statistics back this observation up, showing that many Americans feel more happy and fulfilled in their offices than they do in their own homes. Of course, we all inevitably work too hard, then we get burned out and have to spend the whole weekend in our pajamas, eating cereal straight out of the box and staring at the TV in a mild coma (which is the opposite of working, yes, but not exactly the same thing as pleasure). Americans don't really know how to do nothing.


How many people have I heard claim their children as the greatest accomplishment and comfort of their lives? It's the thing they can always lean on during a metaphysical crisis, or a moment of doubt about their relevancy--If I have done nothing else in this life, then at least I have raised my children well.

But what if, either by choice or by reluctant necessity, you end up not participating in this comforting cycle of family and continuity? What if you step out? Where do you sit at the reunion? How do you mark time's passage without the fear that you've just frittered away your time on earth without being relevant? You'll need to find another purpose, another measure by which to judge whether or not you have been a successful human being. I love children, but what if I don't have any? What kind of person does that make me?

Virginia Woolf wrote, "Across the broad continent of a woman's life falls the shadow of a sword." On one side of that sword, she said, there lies convention and tradition and order, where "all is correct." But on the other side of that sword, if you're crazy enough to cross it and choose a life that does not follow convention, "all is confusion. Nothing follows a regular course." Her argument was that the crossing of the shadow of that sword may bring a far more interesting existence to a woman, but you can bet it will also be more perilous.

I love her mentioning the confusion over family reunion seating arrangements. I was recently at a reunion and I faced the same dilemma. Can't sit with married couples, or the parents, or the old I just played with the kids. I have more in common with 4 year olds, anyway. Why yes, young one, I enjoy Spongebob as well!

It was in a bathtub back in New York, reading Italian words aloud from a dictionary, that I first started mending my soul. My life had gone to bits and I was so unrecognizable to myself that I probably couldn't have picked me out of a police lineup. But I felt a glimmer of happiness when I started studying Italian, and when you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt--this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.

And finally

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, the come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it.

Okay, one more

You're wishin' too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be."

And that was my favorite line of the book. I'm looking forward to using it on someone in the future.

By the way, the film adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love is coming out in August.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Neverending Story?

Reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, which turns out to be, unsurprisingly, very infinite. 1420 pages in the e-book version! This one will take awhile. Meanwhile I'm learning a lot about drugs. And jest.

Here's a passage:

"Attachments are of great seriousness. Choose your attachments carefully. Choose your temple of fanaticism with great care. What you wish to sing of as tragic love is an attachment not carefully chosen. Die for one person? This is a craziness. Persons change, leave, die, become ill. They leave, lie, go mad, have sickness, betray you, die...A cause outlives you."


"What if sometimes there is no choice about what to love? What if the temple comes to Mohammed? What if you just love? without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?"

"Then in such a case your temple is self and sentiment. Then in such an instance you are a fanatic of desire, a slave to your individual subjective narrow self's sentiments; a citizen of nothing. You are a citizen of nothing. You are by yourself and alone, kneeling to yourself."

I love that last part. Romeo and Juliet were obviously just selfish. (!)