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7.31.2009

good morning.
i like phoenix.

'Private Worship'

- Mark Van Doren

She lay there in the stone folds of his life
Like a blue flower in granite - this he knew;
And knew how now inextricable the petals
Clung to the rock recessed beyond his hand-thrust;
More deeply in, past more forgotten windings
Than his rude tongue could utter, praising her.

He praised her with his eyes, beholding oddly
Not what another saw, but what she added -
Thinning today and shattering with a slow smile -
To the small flower within, to the saved secret.
She was not to have - except that something,
Always like petals falling, entered him.

She was not his to keep - except the brightness,
Flowing from her, that lived in him like dew;
And the kind flesh he could remember touching,
And the unconscious lips, and both her eyes:
These lay in him like leaves - beyond the last turn
Breathing the rocky darkness till it bloomed.

7.28.2009

covers

Okay, this is pretty hilarious. Maybe it's not so funny for those who haven't spent the last two years staring at young adult literature, wondering why all the covers look vaguely similar. You see, there's this whole world of YA followers, bloggers, forums, readers (obviously), and it's filled with its own heroes, enemies, controversies, etc. But essentially, there's something about it all that seems randomly selected.

Anyway, I tried the make-your-own-cover thing, only I don't have a program to piece it all together right now. So, my new name is Sidney Jones (not a big fan), and the title of my YA novel is 'Bolster.' It goes beautifully with my cover (which may break the rules, being an illustration, but I like it anyway).

7.26.2009

i've been browsing through my old poetry, making sure my documents are all right and tight in their new computer-home. it's an odd practice. i'll read one and think 'why did i ever save this piece of trash?' and another 'if this is ever published i will surely be declared the most brilliant of poets.' one in particular gave me pause. on the whole, it's not very good. i just saved it for the first two lines, which i will give you here:
'Jesus, who are you,
and what am i doing in your brain?'

Huh. What should I do with that?
We [Christians] should not abandon music because of the superstitions of pagans if there is anything we can take from it that might help us understand the Holy Scriptures... Nor is there any reason we should refuse to study literature because it is said that Mercury discovered it. That the pagans have dedicated temples to Justice and Virtue and prefer to worship in the form of stone things which ought to be carried in the heart is no reason we should abandon justice and virtue. On the contrary, let everyone who is a good and true Christian understand that truth belongs to his Master, wherever it is found.

- Augustine

what you learn when you read beyond the Confessions.
oh yippee. :)

it's sunday, after all.

7.24.2009

Catching Fire


I just finished reading Catching Fire, the eagerly-awaited sequel to Suzanne Collins's magnificently popular teen novel The Hunger Games, that came out last year. It was a wonderful read, and I continue to be amazed by the author's ability to weave together so many bizarre, disparate elements to create a compelling, convincing story. Like The Hunger Games, there were several parts where I stopped to ask, 'is she talking about this oppressive post-apocalyptic society, or is she talking about our own?' If M. T. Anderson's Feed feels too hard and desperate, these books tackle the same themes without leaving you hopeless for the human race. Ultimately, they are less about sending a message (though a message remains), and more about telling a really fascinating story.

Katniss has just won the Hunger Games without losing her partner - an unprecedented act of rebellion against the Capitol that cannot be ignored. Now she must face the consequences of her victory - and the deceit that won it. The Games have only just begun. The novel is aptly named. I got the feeling as I was reading that this was more of a transitional book, shifting the ground of the narrative from Katniss's concern for personal survival, to the survival of her family and friends, and on to the state of the Districts under the control of the Capitol - in other words, rebellion. It was a fast read leaving me impatient with the next year of waiting till book three comes out. This is why I don't read a series until it's finished - usually.

It also vaguely reminded me of another book that is due to come out in the next few months, a sequel to a largely overlooked teen fantasy novel I read recently. Even the title is similar. Kristin Cashore's Fire will be released at the beginning of October, one month after the release of Collins's Catching Fire. Cashore's book follows her novel Graceling, the story of a girl with the unique gift of killing. (Incidentally, her name's Katsa. Katsa... Katniss... are we in a rut?) Raised by her uncle the king to be his personal assassin, she has grown to hate her gift and to distrust everyone around her. She is distant, hardened, wired to survive, but not to love. It sounds a little melodramatic in summary, but it's actually a very good story. Not that I can recommend it to people. Because Katsa makes me very angry. And not the good kind of angry, like when Emma is so stupid you want to shake her, but you're ultimately really glad she figures out about Knightley. I grant that Katsa has had a rough upbringing and she's had to kill people in really ugly ways for almost as long as she can remember, but that really doesn't justify her unwillingness to commit her affections or her attention. Katniss (of The Hunger Games - don't want to lose anyone with the swift shift in names) is determined not to marry because she doesn't want to have children who will have to go through the Games. As a result, she withholds her affection for Gale and ignores her affection for Peeta. Romantic mess galore! But messy with a cause. Katsa (back to Graceling. don't lose me) loves Po, but not enough to marry him. Just 'cause she doesn't want to feel tied down. And she doesn't want children because she's no good with babies. Okay, I get the children part and I get the tied down part. What I don't get is why you would call it love, real love, if you're providing yourself with an out. It frustrates me that Cashore's heroine comes so close to being healed from all her garbage, to letting go and learning to trust, but she's still not able to take this step. I'm not looking for a Cinderella story with a happy wedding at the end - I'm looking for healing. And Katsa doesn't have it.

What makes me angrier still, angry beyond description, is the quiet, unembellished use of 'emergency contraceptives' in the novel. I put that in quotes because the phrase implies prevention when what it really does is abort. Katsa knows of a helpful plant, she's found her man, she doesn't want kids, voila! Okay, boys and girls - go and do likewise? These are supposed to be characters I respect, people who are turning from a lifetime of violence to embrace life and hope and peace and all things good and beautiful, and this is what they do? And we're not being at all straight about what it implies. Katniss wouldn't do it. Or if she did, she'd call it what it was. Not prevention, but violence. This is why I recommend The Hunger Games, and why I'll continue with Catching Fire. They tell the story of a girl in hellish circumstances who learns to see beyond herself. Who learns to trust and to be vulnerable when everything around her demands walls, barriers, and implacability. She's no saint, but she's straight with us. Sorry, Ms. Cashore. You're a really good writer, but your books will get no help from me.

7.21.2009

There is a strange difference between my public and my private self. Of course, I tend to think the private self is more 'me' and the private is the 'show'. This is where lack of self-awareness comes in. It is me no matter where or when I am. Me hyped on people, me polite, me snarky, me calm, me careful, me spontaneous, me grumpy, me determined to get over the grump. I told a friend the other day, 'I'm really a very quiet person,' and she just laughed. Once upon a time, it would have been the other way around. 'I'm really a very social, funny person. The life of the party. Unpredictable, quirky, sometimes obnoxious.' Right.

It used to bother me, these distinctions. I called it inconsistency. I think I might have considered it a sin, somewhere in my frustrated, legalistic brain. (I'm still frustrated, still legalistic, still sinful and inconsistent.) Now, I think it's just me being human. It's also a kind of coping mechanism. I laugh more as the world becomes harder. I make people smile when they bring me bad news. I shrug off the world, because who can carry it? More importantly, it's a way to keep people at arm's length. It's my way of being distant. Which is perhaps why my family, for many years, didn't see much of my funny side. Weird, yes. Funny, no. Because I didn't care about keeping them away.

Not really sure where I'm going with this or what exactly I make of it all. I'm just thinking with my fingers on the keys.

7.18.2009

Buildings crumbling from the blast
and I'm staring at you.
Stones and bones a thousand years old
and I'm staring at you.

The tapestry, the tombs,
frescoes, catacombs,
and you, blonde and blue.

The hair falling over you,
hiding your balding,
and in the corner of your mouth
a sore slow to healing.
I've never been so captivated,
simply enervated,
by your simple staring.

(never mind it's to the camera. not to me.)

7.16.2009

someday i'll write a real blog post

in the meantime, follow the link to the links. unless you're emily. because then you'll just be going right back to your own blog.

7.13.2009

Browse through these to your heart's content. Tell me which is your favorite. (Guess which is mine.)

7.05.2009

Just watched 'Happy-Go-Lucky' with the family. It was my fault. I had some noble notion of giving Mike Leigh another go. Nobility... not worth it. There was no acclimating oneself to Sally Hawkins giggle. And if hers was a lesson in flirting, I'm not interested. Was the whole point to learn that happiness can only achieved when you embrace inanity? I know that film is an art form and straight narrative is not always necessary, but seriously. Something could have happened. Sometime. Ever. I appreciated the crescendo with the driving instructor, but it was not worth all it took to get there.
Independence Day! was yesterday (duh), and one of the best celebrations in a long while. Of course we wrap ourselves in glow sticks and launch water balloons at each other in blissful forgetfulness, ignoring the facts. That our country is owned by China, our state is spitting on the Constitution (to its own detriment), and we are missing a president. I mean, they tell me we have a president, but I haven't really noticed any real leadership happening. We have a celebrity, but didn't we already have a bunch of those? Yeah, so there's a lot to be frustrated about. I guess the thing to do is to rise above it. If our leadership sucks, that's just reason for us to be the better man. Or woman. If our country spends extravagantly and stupidly, that's just reason for us to learn sound judgment with our personal finances. And if our nation compromises its integrity by parceling itself out to foreign nations that have little regard for human rights or the health of our earth, why it is possible (though not easy) to boycott the whole business. It just means that we have to be more conscientious people. Scratch that. Conscientious is too tame. We have to be hard-core. We have to be both severe and extravagantly forgiving. We will run the risk of seeming inconsistent, but we will at least be good. Happy fifth of July.
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