Monthly Archives: March 2016

Build-up period to David Foster Wallace archive visit #3 .01

Trying to post anything at the moment is like attempting to wade through treacle, as my Mac is constantly beach-balling for no apparent reason – the swine started playing up the very day I upgraded OS to El Capitan, and has never been the same since. I’m in the middle of upgrading its RAM, and have been through endless screen freezes, Safe Boots, Recovery Boots, and have stripped back all unnecessary apps and stuff, emptying the trash along the way.

CS4f2mqWsAAbMcR

I should be plotting a chapter on Brief Interviews with Hideous Men for my PhD thesis, but how do you do that when all drafts are stuck inside the machine that’s not working properly? And no, I don’t have access to another computer. And yes, I do back up regularly.

So, for light relief I go into my phone to check what’s going down on Goodreads. @EmWatson’s #OurSharedShelf has chosen Caitlin Moran’s book, How to be a Woman, as its April read, and Emma Watson has posted some links. One of which is an article written by Moran in Esquire, titled: “12 Things About Being A Woman That Women Won’t Tell You: Except this woman (Caitlin Moran), who will.” In an attempt at cheering myself following the beach-balling hassle, I find reading the article in Russell Brand’s voice brings a touch of light relief to my situation – Moran’s and Brand’s laid-back-street-prose-style being quite similar in many respects.

how90111_1_innerbig

Moran’s point 6 of 12 is Fear, reproduced here in its entirety because it’s quite short:

We’re scared. We don’t want to mention it, because it’s kind of a bummer, chat-wise, and we’d really like to talk about stuff that makes us happy, like look at our daughters — and we can’t help but think, “Which one of us? And when?” We walk down the street at night with our keys clutched between our fingers, as a weapon. We move in packs — because it’s safer. We talk to each other for hours on the phone — to share knowledge. But we don’t want to go on about it to you, because that would be morbid. We just feel anxious. We’re scared. Given the figures, we can’t sometimes help but feel we’re just… waiting for the bad thing to come. Because that would be a realistic thing to think, and we like to be prepared. Awfully, horribly, fearfully prepared.

Note the absence of the word that this fear is based upon: rape. Rape is alluded to, but never mentioned. It is mentioned elsewhere in the article, but here it is not. This is an interesting approach in that it makes Moran’s point 6 seem unnecessarily passive in tone – “waiting for the bad thing to come.” Is that an accurate view of all women? I’ll hazard a guess and say it’s not, for there are women who take more of an aggressive stance where rape is concerned. In spite of how it is written, point 6 motions towards a feeling that “rape culture” is really and truly embedded in contemporary Western culture (for anyone who’s interested, Laurie Penny discusses rape discourse and rape culture in the New Statesman).

1440557382747

Anecdotally, every woman I’ve ever met and with whom I’ve discussed the topic of rape has expressed that they have to consider their actions and/or dress on a daily basis. And when you’re doing that, and so are your friends, and so is your mother, and so on, it’s appropriate for fear to become the primary emotion, which strikes me as extremely unhealthy.


Build-up period to David Foster Wallace archive visit #3

The end of March marks the beginning of another period of research at the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, working on the David Foster Wallace archive. As the research becomes more focused, the archive materials are whittled down to the stuff that’s really important in terms of relevance to my thesis. What this means is that with each visit, the frantic searching that went on during the very first visit becomes calmer, more structured, which is all good and well as far as the PhD goes, but something’s been lost along the way.

James Joyce, allegedly (but that’s not what’s been lost):

20140213-153717.jpg

For example, the delight and surprise in finding unexpected bits and pieces seems is likely to occur less. Like pulling out a notebook with FBI evidence tape across its covers, leaving me wondering as to the authenticity of the tape (quite naive like that) and even entering into an email discussion with someone who had requested that the FBI release all data it held on Wallace in the interests of full public disclosure (or something like that). Anyhoo, is something like that ever going to pique my interest again, I wonder?


Infinite Jest @20 & @EmWatson (Book Clubs) #2

From my last: “[…] on the forty-five minute bicycle ride home from the train station, the latter part of which involves riding down a few hundred yards of pitch-black, serial-killer kind of country lane.”

Here is said image:

IMG_5817

After listening to one of the Infinite Jest @20 book club’s participants disclose that she cannot now brush her teeth without thinking of Infinite Jest‘s Don Gately, I am minded of an association of my own. Riding the final leg of the journey home down this particular path, in the dark, consistently evokes a childhood memory. As a group of 6/7 year olds my friends and I were fascinated with/horrified by tales of the Red Brick Wall – a wall made of red brick that had a path running by it and which surrounded private land next to a heavily forested area (all very secluded and quiet back in the day). During a session of who could tell the scariest story, someone came up with one about the Red Brick Wall. The wall had a small wooden door that was always locked. The tale goes that one night a couple drove their car down the path, it was raining and all that, and the car broke down unexpectedly, close by the door in the wall. The driver got out and thought of knocking on the door and maybe getting some help. It all goes quiet for a time and the passenger gets nervous/anxious about what has happened to the driver. Suddenly, the driver’s head lands upon the bonnet of the car, attached by rope, and at the end of the rope is a stick, and holding the stick is a crazed, disfigured mad-person who intends to do a similar thing to the passenger.

nFfncnQT

And on the Emma Watson front, still working through the bell hooks book – nothing creepy there.


%d bloggers like this: