lotesse: (adipositive_marble)
Welp - I keep posting these declarations that I'm doing better, and then I don't post again because I don't want to have to eat those words. Not doing better; pretty crazy this last week, maladaptive & panicky. I've got this problem where university stuff (deadlines, expectations, evaluations) makes me crazy, and my crazy makes me not good at university work, which feeds the crazy even more. I think I'm going to see if I can get permission to take my prospectus defense in the fall, instead of 3 May when it's currently scheduled, because I'm driving myself to distraction with panic over it; note that I have still not pulled it together enough to tell my advisor this, being vastly ashamed of my own inability to overcome my crazy. I did tell my father, though, which is almost harder for me.

It's Wednesday, so now that I've depressed myself let me talk about what I'm reading. I rbrought Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs to class today for a student who turned up absent, so I spent most of my office hours rereading it myself. I really, really dislike the judgmental quality of Levy's prose, but do find myself in accordance with her upset at the empornification of contemporary feminism - although I feel like growing up in fandom, and pretty isolated from mainstream pornography and raunch culture, gives me something of an oddball perspective of the issue, because for me porn is associated primarily with freedom from the male gaze and the need to please it. I've also been working through Rachel Ablow's The Marriage of Minds: Reading Sympathy in the Marriage Plot, which is super interesting but also somehow disappointing. Ablow argues that Victorian novels function as wives, teaching good moral and sympathetic values; but there is, I think, a more radical question to be taken up about the emotional nature of that sort of teaching work - what's the difference between a gentle maternal spoon-feeding of sympathetic values, Dickens style, and more Brontean demands for recognition and valuation whether the reader wants to or not. And then I also, because I was feeling sad and wanted to turn it into angry because angry feels stronger to me right now, picked up Franz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth - and because it fascinates me the same way Dune used to, where I feel like there's something big and important and flawed and fascinating in it that's just out of my reach.

As you can tell from the promiscuity of this reading list, I've been feeling narrowed down and understimulated - my brain is full of the nineteenth century and nothing else, and I don't think it's doing my particular brand of obsessively anxious crazy any good. So I'm trying to feed it some different stuff - and I wanted to ask the math&science-savvy among you for book or - ideally! - documentary recommendations. Not too jargony, not too sexist? I could go back and rewatch the old Nova specials that I was obsessed with as a kid, but somehow it seems like a bad idea to spend too much time poring over science that's nearly thirty years out of date!

My brain feels narrowed down and
lotesse: (firefly_harlot)
What I'm reading this Wednesday:

I picked up Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus as a treat to myself - a contemporary woman-authored fantasy novel set in Victorian London, what's not to love? Except I'm finding that I kind of don't love it. I'm a little over a third of the way through, and am at present not sure if I'll finish it. I don't see the point of doing a Victorian if you're not going to profit from either the milieu or the language. Morgenstern's prose style lacks the richness that I associate with Victorian pastiche, the kind of thing that Sarah Waters does so beautifully. Her use of the present tense, relatively limited vocabulary, and choppy presentation all seem like odd choices to me given the wonderful descriptive rhythms of so much Victorian prose. Morgenstern's epigraph is taken from Wilde, and imagining what he could've done with this story is giving me a serious sad. But I also just kind of feel like the novel's Victorianism is painted on. The fashion and design stuff in particular keeps frustrating me, because it's almost always general and vague, with broad references to period trends like japanism and monochrome, and all the clockwork stuff that E.T.A. Hoffmann did so much better, without ever feeling real or material or, you know, researched. I'm also more broadly fed up with the portrayal of Spiritualism as a delusional mourning cult led by hucksters - Morgenstern is far from alone in this, but beyond the fact that I was raised by American Spiritualists and actually do believe in afterlife communication and the mediation of the spirit world, this revisionist history totally ignores the sociopolitical radicalism of Victorian Spiritualists, many of whom were early feminist leaders due to the subculture's relative embrace of women in positions of power.

In nonfiction reading, I'm working my way back through Gayle Salamon's Assuming A Body, because I'm stealing her phenomenological account of the relationship between fantasy and sexuality for a paragraph in my dissertation prospectus - although I will admit to feeling a little odd about employing the theory that she develops for trans* liberation in a project on heterosexuality. I guess it does ultimately make sense to turn back to the seat of sexual power, the same way the study of masculinity is a necessary part of feminism, but I still feel kind of ish about it. I keep loading down my footnotes with those kind of caveats and attributions: I got this from trans* theory, Black feminism, queer affect theory. The whole question really reminds me of old fannish conversations about "queer het" back in the days of Spuffy and The X-Files - did we ever solve that one? Or did we just kind of move on?

Also, I am watching White Collar now - I found myself in need of something easy and lovely, and the ot3 caretaking and power dynamics in that show are pretty much aces. And apparently it's one of those fandoms where folk are super type-A and keep organized thematic lists of fanwork, so that is also aces.
lotesse: (feminism_emancipation)
Good maude today was a long day. Warm and rainy, and dark - I really, really didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Then, teaching, which today involved analyzing lynching postcards. Sometimes I wonder if my practice of building my syllabi out of objects that have haunted and/or traumatized me is a good idea.

But I was a good girl and went to a feminist candidate search lecture this afternoon all the same. And now, I suppose, I'd best get back to wading through Ruskin apologetics. I get that Kate Millett's positions on him could use some nuance, but does all post-1970 feminist writing on the guy have to center on how he's feminized himself and also look how much power he gives women he makes them ~QUEENS~ of their own gardens?
lotesse: (fairytale_goldenbird)
{tred tired semester teaching exam list argh} - so pretty much the usual. Except I'm pretty sure that when George Gissing told me that "there are half a million more women than men in this happy country of ours," i.e. Victorian Britain, he was either wrong, lying, or doing some really weird shit with population statistics. Because. That can't possibly be true.

And, for a change, I am writing words that are fictiony! Which is making me so, so, so happy. And, yanno, maybe someday I'll even finish a fic and I can do that thing I used to do where I posted the words on the internet and people read them. In the meantime, meme! Ganked from everywhere, idek:

Pick a number and I'll answer the question.

1 - Your current OTP
2 - A pairing you initially didn’t consider but someone changed your mind
3 - A pairing you have never liked and probably never will
4 - A pairing you wish you liked but just can’t
5 - Have you added anything stupid/cracky/hilarious to your fandom, if so, what
6 - What’s the longest you’ve ever been in a fandom
7 - Do you remember your first OTP, if so who was in it
8 - Do you prefer characters from real action series or anime series
9 - Has the internet caused you to stop liking any fandoms, if so, which and why
10 - Name a fandom you didn’t care/think about until you saw it all over tumblr [let's substitute LJ here for a more meaningful question in my case]
11 - How do you feel about the other people in your current fandom
12 - Your favorite fanartist/author gives you one request, what do you ask for
13 - Your favorite fanart or fanartist
14 - Your favorite fanfiction or fanauthor
15 - Choose a song at random, which OTP does it remind you of
16 - Invent a random AU for any fandom (we always need more ideas)
17 - A ship you’ve abandoned and why
18 - A pairing you ship that you don’t think anyone else ships
19 - Show us an example of your personal headcanon
20 - Do you remember what your first fanwork was?
21 - Self-rec: What's your favorite fanwork you've created?
22 - Are you one of those fans who can’t watch anything without shipping
23 - 5 favorite characters from 5 different fandoms
24 - 3 OTPs from 3 different fandoms
25 - A fandom you’re in but have no ships from
26 - Just ramble about something fan-related, go go go
lotesse: (glamazon)
ERNEST. Must we go, then, to Art for everything?

GILBERT. For everything. Because Art does not hurt us. The tears that we shed at a play are a type of the exquisite sterile emotions that it is the function of Art to awaken. We weep, but we are not wounded. We grieve, but our grief is not bitter. In the actual life of man, sorrow, as Spinoza says somewhere, is a passage to a lesser perfection. But the sorrow with which Art fills us both purifies and initiates, if I may quote once more from the great art critic of the Greeks. It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection; through Art, and through Art only, that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence. This results not merely from the fact that nothing that one can imagine is worth doing, and that one can imagine everything, but from the subtle law that emotional forces, like the forces of the physical sphere, are limited in extent and energy. One can feel so much, and no more. And how can it matter with what pleasure life tries to tempt one, or with what pain it seeks to maim and mar one’s soul, if in the spectacle of the lives of those who have never existed one has found the true secret of joy, and wept away one’s tears over their deaths who, like Cordelia and the daughter of Brabantio, can never die?

ERNEST. Stop a moment. It seems to me that in everything that you have said there is something radically immoral.

GILBERT. All art is immoral.

ERNEST. All art?

GILBERT. Yes. For emotion for the sake of emotion is the aim of art, and emotion for the sake of action is the aim of life, and of that practical organisation of life that we call society. Society, which is the beginning and basis of morals, exists simply for the concentration of human energy, and in order to ensure its own continuance and healthy stability it demands, and no doubt rightly demands, of each of its citizens that he should contribute some form of productive labour to the common weal, and toil and travail that the day’s work may be done. Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer. The beautiful sterile emotions that art excites in us are hateful in its eyes, and so completely are people dominated by the tyranny of this dreadful social ideal that they are always coming shamelessly up to one at Private Views and other places that are open to the general public, and saying in a loud stentorian voice, ‘What are you doing?’ whereas ‘What are you thinking?’ is the only question that any single civilised being should ever be allowed to whisper to another. They mean well, no doubt, these honest beaming folk. Perhaps that is the reason why they are so excessively tedious. But some one should teach them that while, in the opinion of society, Contemplation is the gravest sin of which any citizen can be guilty, in the opinion of the highest culture it is the proper occupation of man.

HOLY SHIT

25 Jul 2012 09:47 pm
lotesse: (narnia_peter)
So I just discovered that the big antique ink drawing of a lion, a lioness, and their cubs that's hung over my grandparents' fireplace for my entire life - and which is, I suspect, the originator of the entire family's tendency to use lions as worship icons, for which see our Thing with Narnia - is an original work by Rosa Bonheur, a queer feminist nineteenth-century painter, of whom I have often read. Apparently her descendents live up here on the beach somewhere.

My scholarship is invading my life HALP
lotesse: (sarc_fuckoff)
Oh my god, you guys, I just finished reading through Freud's "Dora" case history in full, and I don't think I'll ever feel clean again. I knew there was some bad shit behind this one - I read about it when I was researching psychoanalytic perspectives on father-daughter incest for a paper on the Donkeyskin fairy tales - but I wasn't prepared for just how horribly obvious it would be that Freud was denying this girl's experience of rape and using her to flatter his own egotism, as well as to bolster his psychiatric career.

She's eighteen, she says she was propositioned, touched, kissed, by a friend of her father's. She's close to her daddy; he denies her rape, says she's making it all up. He brings her to Freud; Freud determines that she wanted to fuck the friend, that she wants to fuck her daddy, that she wants to fuck Freud himself, and that she masturbates. Also, he decides that she's abnormal for reacting to a man's advance with repulsion, even though she didn't ask for it, didn't consent to it, didn't want it. It's sickening. Utterly utterly sick. I want to scream and yell and punch something and rend him limb from limb and just. Can I kill them all, please.

I ... kind of don't know what to do with the mass of my own anger and repulsion. I've also got "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" on my list, and I've read a lot of that one and know I like it better, know it's one of the ones where Freud is more smart than stupid, but I don't think I can keep reading him right now. If I hadn't been reading on my computer, if I'd had a book, I think I might have torn it down the middle.

I kind of actually want to go buy a copy so I can do just that. Instead I'm going to go read Toril Moi's critique of the case history for some second-hand cleansing and catharsis.
lotesse: (kink_laces)
I've been trying to decide if I want to take another crack at [community profile] kink_bingo; on the one hand, I've got an awful lot of wsip piled up right now, and an impetus to complete them might not be a bad thing, but on the other the last time I tried kb I totally froze up and couldn't pull it off. I think it has something to do with the external or imposed nature of the kinks - I don't think I'm the girl who can do that, write a kink just to explore it. Fic, for me, is inevitably rooted in personal response, along the lines of erotic sharing - this idea/story/image lit me up, let me write it out and share it with you and see if it lights you up too. Going looking for the kink is ass-backwards for me. It's related, I think, to the problems I continue to have with prescribed methods of academic reading, with note-taking and end-note-reading and all sorts of other systems that disrupt the affective connection of the reader with the text. I want everything to begin with my own naive libidinal response, to proceed from there. So - well, I think I've kind of just talked myself out of kb this year :(

BUT! even without bingo, I can still do kink. What happens when you give me a Victorianist exam list to read:

With ruches of silk
Anne of Green Gables, Anne/Gilbert, set during Anne of the Island and then after
{Tennyson, poetry, women's education, roleplaying, crossdressing, corsetry, and oral sex}
“If you came dressed as a girl, like the men in the poem, wouldn't you be contributing to the picture instead of disrupting it?” Phil wondered aloud, tone carefully innocent.
1775 words, teen

at the AO3,
or behind the cut )
lotesse: (avengers_sexystark)
I just finished the 2011 Great Expectations miniseries, because fuck if I'm rereading Dickens, y'all - and, tangentially, oh my god Gillian Anderson makes the most luminously wonderful Miss Havisham in the entire world, I am sorry for the Victorian Era because they did not get to see her performing this role, oh my god oh my god - but, what I actually came here to say was this:

Avengers AU.

So Steve Rogers is this scrawny little working-class kid - is this a no powers AU? I think it is, but could be convinced otherwise - and Nick Fury washes up in the marshes and of course little Steve brings him meat pie as well as the requested file, of course he does. And then Steve's parents send him to Stark House, where the eccentric heartless (rich) gentleman Howard Stark needs someone for his little Tony to practice breaking hearts on. And Steve thinks all these gifts he's getting are Stark tech, but it's all actually being channeled through Mr. Shield the lawyer by Fury, who's still hiding out in Australia. Howard's an unfeeling asshole, nothing new there, and he's training Tony to be a slick amoral bastard just like him, and little Tony is this halfpint with big eyes who's trying really really hard to be a bully but he's just no good at it and it doesn't take very long before Steve starts seeing through him and asking if he's ever lonely and not caring when Tony sharpens his tongue on him.

And Steve grows into a young man of Great Expectations, and (with the help of some sort of gift from his benefactor?) gets much less scrawny, and he's convinced that he's meant to marry Tony, but Tony goes with idk Ty Stone instead, and Steve's shocked when it turns out the gifts were from Fury all along.

... hang on, did I just make Nick Fury Tony's biodad? It is too late at night for this, clearly, so I'mma hit post now.
lotesse: (labyrinth_slave)
Since Brontës seem to be going around ([personal profile] selenak on Wuthering Heights, [personal profile] katta on Jane Eyre), it seemed to me like it might be time to try expounding on my Grand Unified Theory of Rochester. Which I have never tried to do before, not really, so be gentle!

Like Katta, I love Rochester. I always have, ever since Jane Eyre whirled me away as a sixteen-year-old and made me decide to study Victorian literature for a living. But I've had a really hard time talking about him, to most fans of the book, and certainly I've found that academic analyses of him don't patch with my reading. The current tendency seems to be to read Rochester as similar to Heathcliff, but without the benefit of Emily's sarcastic commentary and relentless anti-Romanticism: a Byronic brooding Bad Boy Woobie who gets himself Redeemed By Lurve. Witness the take Fassbender gave on him in the recent film: his Rochester is all about the lure of the bad boy. Rochester's appeal gets read as symptomatic of women's simultaneous political desire for freedom and sexual desire for submission, as suppressed s&m. All very Twilight, when you come down to it.

This is not my Rochester. )
lotesse: (books_sapphic)
I've picked up Charlotte Brontë's The Professor half a dozen times since high school, but never managed to finish it before. (The first chapter is very dull, and also I'm not sure one could read it successfully without knowing a little French, which until recently I did not.) And, indeed, I could scarcely finish it now. Only the expedient of my exam list got me through. Because oh, I found it so inexpressibly painful, uncomfortable, and generally pitiful that reading it physically hurt.

This is the first book she tried to publish, before Jane Eyre. She plundered it later to write Villette, and the novel itself was published posthumously in 1857 by her husband. The weird - and painful - thing about it, though, is that it's Villette from the other side. The pov character, the "I," is the brusque older male teacher, and through his first-person narration you watch him falling in love with the shy, clever, poor, plain, young female instructor.

And it's - it's impossible not to read the biographical in here, but - it's watching this young writer trying to write herself as lovable, especially knowing that in life, the beloved object didn't return her passion, that's so absolutely excruciating. The point of view is strangely attenuated - it keeps stretching out to encompass the girl-lover's feelings and impressions, which of course Charlotte knows, but I also feel that in the scenes of classroom instruction there's something in Charlotte that delights in inhabiting such an absolute position of disdainful masculine superiority, in tearing down the stupid vain girls and patronizing the prim schoolmistresses. Of course her analog-character never does this, but is meek and quiet, but in the same way that Agnes Grey clearly draws on a personal experience with childcare, so The Professor draws on Charlotte's own experience as a teacher.

The whole thing is really making me crave Snape/Hermione fic.

WHY?!

25 Jun 2012 05:09 pm
lotesse: (kink_chien)
... The novel Carmilla: The Return, written in 1999 by Kyle Marffin, begins in 19th century Austria but follows Carmilla's life into 1990s Michigan.

...

...

... considering that I grew up in 1990s Michigan, I think I might need to read this.
lotesse: (sarc_fuckoff)
John Stuart Mill on the tone argument, from 1869:

"Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take some notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where these supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent....

With regard to what is commonly meant by intemperate discussion, namely invective, sarcasm, personality, and the like, the denunciation of these weapons would deserve more sympathy if it were ever proposed to interdict them equally to both sides; but it is only desired to restrain the employment of them against the prevailing opinion: against the unprevailing they may not only be used without general disapproval, but will be likely to obtain for him who uses them the praise of honest zeal and righteous indignation. Yet whatever mischief arises from their use, is greatest when they are employed against the comparatively defenceless; and whatever unfair advantage can be derived by any opinion from this mode of asserting it, accrues almost exclusively to received opinions."

If he gets it, that far back, why in infinite hells is it so hard for us to grasp this principle nowadays?
lotesse: (jewel-boxes)
from Mary Seacole's The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (Seacole was a mixed-race Jamaican nurse who revolutionized care in the Crimean War) -

"What I did carry away was very unimportant: a gaily-decorated altar-candle, studded with gold and silver stars, which the present Commander-in-Chief condescended to accept as a Sebastopol memorial; an old cracked China teapot, which in happier times had very likely dispensed pleasure to many a small tea-party; a cracked bell, which had rung many to prayers during the siege, and which I bore away on my saddle; and a parasol, given me by a drunken soldier. He had a silk skirt on, and torn lace upon his wrists, and he came mincingly up, holding the parasol above his head, and imitating the walk of an affected lady, to the vociferous delight of his comrades. And all this, and much more, in that fearful charnel city, with death and suffering on every side."

I love this image so much - the crossdresser and the mixed-race woman meeting for a moment in the scene of war.

eta: "With the theatricals directly I had nothing to do. Had I been a little younger the companies would very likely have been glad of me, for no one liked to sacrifice their beards to become Miss Julia or plain Mary Ann; and even the beardless subalterns had voices which no coaxing could soften down. But I lent them plenty of dresses; indeed, it was the only airing which a great many gay-coloured muslins had in the Crimea. How was I to know when I brought them what camp-life was? And in addition to this, I found it necessary to convert my kitchen into a temporary green-room, where, to the wonderment, and perhaps scandal, of the black cook, the ladies of the company of the 1st Royals were taught to manage their petticoats with becoming grace, and neither to show their awkward booted ankles, nor trip themselves up over their trains. It was a difficult task in many respects. Although I laced them in until they grew blue in the face, their waists were a disgrace to the sex; while—crinoline being unknown then—my struggles to give them becoming [Pg 181] embonpoint may be imagined."
lotesse: (water)
I am safely transported & tucked in to the lakeshore in Michigan City - I went swimming yesterday, even though the water temp is still hovering just under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, because I needed to be in the Big Water and also that's just how I roll.

Disappointingly, missed passing the Spanish proficiency test by a single point; will retake in August, shouldn't be too much of a problem, I've already googled up correct answers to three questions I was unsure of, and the test given hasn't changed in like forty years.

At some point during this week I'mma go see The Avengers in the cinema, because they'll screen it for non-3D-enabled persons here. The cam dl is simply not enough, I need to see my babies large as life and twice as beautiful.

Am reading Mary Barton. It's all right, I guess, but I haven't managed to get any more pleasure out of it than that sort of pleasant meandering boredom that long realist nineteenth-century novels so often produce.
lotesse: (adipositive_marble)
Last week, my Victorianist reading group came to the happy realization that the Big Name Victorian Sages acronym out to CRAMP (Carlyle, Ruskin, Arnold, John Stuart Mill, Pater). Never has an acronym been more apt - lord can these men bloviate. I mean, I like Mill as much as the next girl, and Ruskin's stupidity can be sort of appallingly cute in an OH JOHN RINGO NO kind of way, but being in the middle of Arnold's Culture and Anarchy I feel quite solid in my opinion: go fuck yourself, sir. I'm reminded of Atrios' Wanker of the Decade entry on Will Saletan - the bleating superior pundit thing is the last holdout of the Victorian Sage, and they're every bit as appalling in present as in past.

Other links of interest:

[tumblr]The Silent Tarot: oooh, pretty!

[alternet]The Heroine With a Thousand Faces: the rise of the female savior: I'm not quite convinced by this use of Campbell - maybe better to jettison rather than transform - but points to an interesting trend.

[io9]even in this 1870s humans were obsessed with ridiculous photos of cats: Victorian cat macros!
lotesse: (sarc_fuckoff)
... fuck, Thomas Carlyle, I'm not really having any trouble figuring out why the fascists liked you so much. Yadda yadda great men this, yadda yadda great men that, kneejerk universalism, Progress-with-a-capital-P, and an amazingly casual ability to dimiss other cultures or moments as "stupid." I hate having to deal with discourse; counterdiscourse is almost always so much shinier. But such is the life of the exam-preparer, or so I'm told. Bloody discourse. And the retrograde ones are always longwinded, have you ever noticed that?

In other news, the X-Files! So somewhere toward the end of the third season it stops being a show and becomes a Show. It's like they suddenly figured out what it was for. Which is interesting timing; usually that sort of thing happens in the second season or not at all, from what I can see. Also, 4.04? Hello hometown! Although wow that episode is really not set in Traverse City, Michigan even a little bit. Even at all.
lotesse: (feminism_lorde)
Reading Dickens' short story The Perils of Certain English Prisoners, published in the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny and allegorically commenting on the same, and feeling VERY vindicated in my ongoing dislike of the man. It's like How To Be Racist 101: every horrible trope you can think of rolled into one narrative bundle. I suspected, after Bleak House, that I wasn't going to much like his take on indigenous peoples - after all, they take charitable resources away from deserving little Christian white poor children!!! But this is actually worse than I'd expected.
lotesse: (books_sapphic)
I'm reading James Eli Adams' book A History of Victorian Literature - exams approach apace - and thinking about a conversation I had with my mama over holiday about history and social justice. Neither of my parents quite understand how they came to raise a Victorianist. I think papa was hoping for a philosopher or a mediaevalist, and mama for a poet. And mama was asking me why, if I was bent on doing this feminism thing, I'd choose such a repressive era. (Oh, historiomythic accounts of the nineteenth century!)

Adams articulates, in his introduction, something that I tried to point out to her (though with less rhetorical aptitude): "Much of the elaborate etiquette that we think of as distinctly Victorian – rituals of introduction, calling cards, the chaperoning of unmarried women, intricate decorums of dress – is at root a strategy for coping with social mobility, by affirming one’s own claims to recognition while at the same time maintaining a distance that allows one to “place” new acquaintances (Davidoff 1973). The Victorian novel developed into a form uniquely suited to represent these dynamics, capturing the textures of social interaction, aspiration, and anxiety, within which social hierarchy could seem both a stimulus and a barrier to personal achievement" (&). This seems really key to me: the moment when society pushes hardest on the brake has to also be the moment when everything is already different, and folk just haven't figured out how to deal with it yet.

Which, actually, gives me some hope for the present political scene. This much repression must mean that, somewhere down deep, we're doing something right.

Tangential, but not unconnected: I have a politics question for those of y'all who inhabit the United Kingdom. I have a feeling that the very simplistic definitions of "whig" and "tory" I've hacked together aren't capturing the entire social context. In my own milieu I can trace all the strands of culture and lifetyle that make up US Republicans and Democrats, even down to breaking each group into a number of subsets: Repubs = Boston Brahmins, The One Percent, Rural Racists, Christian Evangelicals, ect. But I can't seem to get a real grip on Whigs and Tories. I'm guessing they don't just simply map onto US political categories, amirite? How do you understand those terms/groups/identities?
lotesse: (neverland)
So I did the coolest thing ever today. Because apparently (HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS) my University has possession of the original (as in, very first ever, handwritten, still-untitled, with scritch-ed out bits and different names sometimes) manuscript of Peter Pan. November 1903. So today I went to the rare books collection and they got it out of the vault for me and I sat there and read the whole thing.

[personal profile] theprimrosepath, when you suggested that Barrie wasn't yet capable of writing the ending to this story - you were right. The ending to this version is completely different in every way. That horrible ending that's been a sore spot in me all my life isn't even there. Instead, Peter and Wendy and all the lost boys fly back to London, where they then advertise for all the most beautiful mothers, and then Peter and Wendy test them to see which are the right mothers for which boys - and they're all countesses with ridiculous names, and the entire thing is farcical and ridiculous and completely gives the lie to any attempt to view London and the Neverland as polarized spaces. London is every bit as silly. And then, once all the boys are disposed of, Wendy and Peter try to say goodbye, get all choked up, and eventually get Mr. and Mrs. Darling's blessing to go live in Kensington Gardens as mother and child, and then they have a run-in with the nefarious school superintendent Hook, and everyone ends up dressed up as harlequins and columbines in a complete collapse into happy silliness and carnivalesque make-believe, and then all the stars in the set shine bright, and then go out, and the play is over.

The thing that I found most interesting, I think, was the way this initial version framed Peter and Wendy as much more similar in their attraction/repulsion to adulthood. Peter is tremendously enthusiastic about playing father, only pulling back when he gets scared. Actually, this Peter is scared rather a lot - this version casts no doubt on his story of having been closed out of his own nursery by his own mother. Peter never recoils from Wendy, or from her obvious feeling for him - instead he repeatedly asks her to help him understand. Which she doesn't yet have the courage or maturity to do - she also holds back from that step, that change. Both feel the draw of being grown up, the excitement available there, but both are ultimately afraid. Their home together in Kensington Gardens is a sort of ultimate representation of this; even in London, they're still playing more than anything else. The play doesn't ever force them into the sort of choice that later versions do, to have or give up once and for all. No one in this play ever leaves the Greenworld; in fact, their playfulness is contagious, infecting the citizens of London with commedia del arte tropes and spontaneous costumes and jokes and dancing.

Behind the cut, some of the best bits, as transcribed by yours truly, with parenthetical apostrophizations of delight )

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin

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