strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

Psychokinesis December 21, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:22 pm

I am determined to have a white Christmas. I’ll make it snow through sheer will. None of this sunny and 40 degrees crap. Here I am trying to read about “cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal…The city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already: it had not been light all day: and candles were flaring in the windows of the neighbouring offices, like smears upon the palpable brown air” and it’s practically March outside.

Besides, you’ve fucked me over enough this year, universe. You owe me this at least.

London Snow



When men were all asleep the snow came flying,

In large white flakes falling on the city brown,

Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,

Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;

Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;

Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:

Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;

Hiding difference, making unevenness even,

Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

All night it fell, and when full inches seven

It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,

The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;

And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness

Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:

The eye marvelled — marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;

The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;

No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,

And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.

Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,

They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze

Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;

Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;

Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,

‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’

With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,

Following along the white deserted way,

A country company long dispersed asunder:

When now already the sun, in pale display

Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below

His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.

For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;

And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,

Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:

But even for them awhile no cares encumber

Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,

The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber

At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

Robert Bridges

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falling into theory December 20, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 2:06 pm

I had a very odd dream last night. I was discussing, or deconstructing, that “Ants Go Marching” song with my History of Literary Criticism professor. Seriously. It was very in depth and abstract. I was going on about the subversive pacifist subtext of the work, how the parody of Civil War-era patriotic propaganda was a subtle critique of militaristic conformity. I remember using the word “facistic.” (Is “facistic” even a word?)

This is very worrisome. I think this semsester has fried my brain.

I’m going to curl up with chapter 8 of Jonathan Strange (Norrell is just about to raise poor Miss Wintertowne from the dead!), and leave you with Frank O’Hara’s “POEM,” which is about as frazzled as I am, but in a funny way.

Lana Turner has collapsed!

I was trotting along and suddenly

it started raining and snowing

and you said it was hailing

but hailing hits you on the head

hard so it was really snowing and

raining and I was in such a hurry

to meet you but the traffic

was acting exactly like the sky

and suddenly I see a headline

LANA TURNER HAS COLLAPSED!

there is no snow in Hollywood

there is no rain in California

I have been to lots of parties

and acted perfectly disgraceful

but I never actually collapsed

oh Lana Turner we love you get up

 

"I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them." December 16, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:34 am

Happy Austen Day! My favorite author is 229 years old today. Ideally I would spend every December 16 re-reading my favorite parts in her novels, consuming copious amounts of tea and cake, dancing a set or two, and watching Persuasion for the umpteenth time while knitting and cross-stitching (Jane brings out my femme side something fierce). But she had the very bad manners to be born right in the middle of finals, so I’ll be studying and packing instead. Bah humbug.

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero[ine] in her way. Northanger Abbey

Hey, I only modified it just a teensy bit; and I’m still waiting for the universe to back Austen up on this.

 

Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture 1668-1801~Emma Donoghue December 15, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 10:28 am

I really didn’t think it was possible to increase my admiration for Emma Donoghue, but I was wrong. I love her even more now that I’ve read her scholarly work. I was delighted to find her a sharp, frank historian as well as a fine novelist; her research is as rich and vivid as her fiction, her prose is just as passionate as the women she describes, full of wit and humor too.

Passions is a scholarly, meticulously researched book, but it’s emminently readable and brings the 18th century to life in all its debauched glory (and trust me, I had Queer Theory this semester, it is possible for a discussion of lesbianism to be dry and boring).The frontispiece is a reproduction on an illustration of Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, “Phoebe initiating Fanny in the brothel.” Fanny holds up her skirt and looks on curiously as Phoebe quite explicitly puts her hand between Fanny’s legs, a coy, knowing smile on her face. You can tell right away that this is going to be a fun and frank discussion of what lesbians did in the 18th century, refreshingly devoid of academicese (thank you jesus!). Evidence of real, lived lesbian culture at this period is fairly sparse–how do you prove two women had sex 300 years ago, when even the word “homosexual” wasn’t coined until the 1890s?–so Donoghue deals with texts: newspapers, pornography, poetry, gothic novels, letters, plays, court documents, diaries. How did people talk about “women like that”? How did those women talk and think about themselves and their relationships? Was it all restricted the ostensibly asexual romantic friendships of upper-class women? Donoghue reveals a colorful and complex picture of how the 18th century viewed (or tried not to view) lesbians, bisexuals, spinsters, cross-dressers, butches, and bluestockings. This book is filled with such stories–women who passed successfully as men and married other women, queer pirates like Anne Bonney and Mary Reed, lascivious nuns, and tons of gossip and rumors about aristocratic Sapphic societies. Even Queen Anne makes an appearance; she seems to have had something hot ‘n’ heavy going with the Duchess of Marlborough. Personally, it’s a much-needed antidote to the overwhelming, relentless pressure of the heteronormative culture I’ve been taught. All the Great Literature I read and study and love is structured on some variation of boy-meets-girl, the promised bliss of heterosexual domesticity that women are supposed to be genetically programmed for; where any intimacy between women is trivial, just a dry-run for the real relationship with a man. Donoghue’s work gives me a sense of location in history and society; see, I can say, I’m not just an aberration, there were other women like me, though they lived their lives differently and thought differently than I do.

I said Passions was refreshingly devoid of academicese, which is true, but academics can never seem to resist inventing elaborate metaphors, and Donoghue ends her introduction with a pretty funny, somewhat tongue-in-cheek analogy for her work.

Tribady, an activity that is rarely discussed, provides a stimulating metaphor for the business of doing history. The researcher is not so much penetrating the past to find what she wants as making contact with it, touching the surface of her present interests to the details of the past; the more she touches, the more she will become sensitised to the nuances she is exploring. This friction between centuries can bring us a sense of intimacy with our foresisters, as well as great pleasure, and laughter when things fail to fit. Passions Between Women is primarily intended to get the stories to the women, so that we can all take part in this never-ending act of tribady that is lesbian history. (24)

Historical research as a form of lesbian sex. I love it.

(P.S. Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is the complete works of Emma Donoghue. Thanks).

 

Sonnet December 14, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:32 am

Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;

In my own way, and with my full consent.

Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely

Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.

Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping

I will confess; but that’s permitted me;

Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping

Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.

If I had loved you less or played you slyly

I might have held you for a summer more,

But at the cost of words I value highly,

And no such summer as the one before.

Should I outlive this anguish—and men do—

I shall have only good to say of you.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I love the wild and wonderful things Millay does with a sonnet. She can make them flow so smooth and rhythmically, almost like a prose poem or ordinary conversation. Not even Shakespeare quite manages that, but then he’s stuck with his Elizabethan thees and thous and dost and whatnot, so he has a harder time of it.

 

Because I ought to be studying December 13, 2004

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 4:15 pm

and because this meme never gets old for me.

1. Grab the nearest book.

2. Open the book to page 23.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

Indeed, he said, I am strongly of opinion that they ought not to hear that sort of thing. Plato, busily banishing poets from The Republic. Critical Theory Since Plato, 3rd edition, ed.Hazard Adams (now that is a cool name) and Leroy Searle.

I’m also being unproductive by listening to the Beatles’ Let It Be album, finishing Book XVI of Tom Jones, and reading Yeat’s “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, which is my poetic equivalent of comfort food.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.



And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.



I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

I once heard a recording of Yeats reading it; usually I avoid listening to poets reading their work, because the opening lines of Prufrock have been forever ruined for me, but Yeats has this rich, sonorous Irish voice, like ocean waves.

I’m also watching bunnies act out “It’s Wonderful Life” in 30 seconds, and laughing my butt off.

 

End-of-the-year meme

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:55 am

All my papers are done, and I have nothing to do but pack and do a bit of studying for finals. Hence all the posting.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you’d never done before?



Dear god, I don’t even know where to start. Participated in political protests. Ate sushi and octopus. Started drinking (moderately, don’t worry). Traveled around a foreign country. And lots of other things besides.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

About the only resolution I ever make is to not buy any more books until I finish the ones I already have. I failed to keep it this year, and I will fail to keep it next year I’m sure.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?



No, but my aunt and uncle adopted their fourth from Korea.

4. Did anyone close to you die?



My grandmother, in July. When I go I don’t want to go like that, sickly, pitied, and not much loved.

5. What countries did you visit?



France.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

Quite a lot. A job, if nothing else.

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?



April 25. The March for Women’s Lives in D.C. There were lots of other Big Important Moments but their specific dates don’t really matter.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Besides coming out and not having the sky fall, finding my place here, with a good group of friends.

9. What was your biggest failure?



Do we really want to get into that again?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?



nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?



Well I haven’t read it yet, but I’m betting Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell will be my best purchase. Either that or Byatt’s Little Black Book of Stories.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?



My friend’s. And my parents’, they’ve been trying really hard.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?



Well my brother proved himself worthy of the name Shithead. And heck, she ain’t reading this anyway, so L. I can’t believe I got dumped for a man. How cliche is that. And she didn’t even have the guts to be frank with me.

14. Where did most of your money go?



Books, where else?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?



Not much, really. I think I spent most of this year in a mild state of panic.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?



“Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”, Jet. Just the first thing that popped into my head.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
both and neither. Wiser, I hope.

b) thinner or fatter? thinner, I think, which is not good. I haven’t been eating or sleeping well.

c) richer or poorer? about the same.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?



I wish I’d taken more risks. Which surprises me.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?



Crying. I don’t think I’ve cried so much in my life as I have this year; I’m usually too stoic for my own good. I don’t even cry at funerals.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?



With The Clan, looking after the little ones, as I always do.

21. Did you fall in love in 2004?



No. Believe it or not.

22. How many one-night stands?



Ha. Aha. That would be funny if it weren’t depressing.

23. What was your favorite TV program?



The Daily Show.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?



Shithead. But I don’t really hate him, I’m just very unhappy with him.

25. What was the best book you read?



Sugar and Other Stories, A.S. Byatt.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?



Meav

27. What did you want and get?



Friends.

28. What did you want and not get?



Sanity. Stability. Some sense of direction.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?



A toss up between Les Choristes and The Watermelon Woman

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?



22. I did nothing at all, which was very nice, and I bought Melissa Etheridge’s new CD against my better judgement. That’s what I get for shopping based on sexual orientation.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?



Some sort of queer community would have been really great. I’m fucking tired of isolation.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?



Wow, I really don’t put that much thought into my fashion choices. But these last few months have totally revolved around the Big-Ass Dyke Boots.

33. What kept you sane?



Poetry. Written words are the only thing that ever keeps me alive.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?



How much time have you got? Rachel Stirling, Jena Malone, Scarlett Johansen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley, Parminder Nagra, Cate Blanchett, Sophia Myles.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?



The election.

36. Who did you miss?



L. S., my oldest friend. I came out to her over the summer and I haven’t heard from her since. And K., but I’ll get to see her over break I think.

37. Who was the best new person you met?



J and R. My feminist gals.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004



Take risks, even though they won’t pay off. Be as honest and genuine as you can, even though it will bite you in the ass later.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year



Actually, I think Ferlinghetti’s “The World is a Beautiful Place” is best; it’s got a bit of a “Life sucks and then you die” attitude, which is not actually where I’m at, but the contrast of simple joys and relentless sorrows is pretty acurate.

The World Is a Beautiful Place

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind happiness

not always being

so very much fun

if you don’t mind a touch of hell

now and then

just when everything is fine

because even in heaven

they don’t sing

all the time

The world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t mind some people dying

all the time

or maybe only starving

some of the time

which isn’t half bad

if it isn’t you

Oh the world is a beautiful place

to be born into

if you don’t much mind

a few dead minds

in the higher places

or a bomb or two

now and then

in your upturned faces

or such other improprieties

as our Name Brand society

is prey to

with its men of distinction

and its men of extinction

and its priests

and other patrolmen

and its various segregations

and congressional investigations

and other constipations

that our fool flesh

is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all

for a lot of such things as making the fun scene

and making the love scene

and making the sad scene

and singing low songs and having inspirations

and walking around

looking at everything

and smelling flowers

and goosing statues

and even thinking

and kissing people and

making babies and wearing pants

and waving hats and

dancing

and going swimming in rivers

on picnics

in the middle of the summer

and just generally’living it up’

Yes

but then right in the middle of it

comes the smiling

mortician