The following essay was written as coursework for my ‘Critical Perspectives: Historical Perspectives’ module, which is essentially a philosophy module. It’s the only A* I’ve got for an essay at Uni so far, I’ve posted the feedback sheet I got for it, so I hope it’s of help to someone writing about Nietzsche/philosophy/any essay at all!
And I am maybe a tiny bit proud of myself, possibly.
Anyway, enjoy, let me know what you think! I do have other essays but I haven’t posted them on here because I didn’t, and still don’t, think they were a high enough standard to share. If anyone is interested, I’ll send them a copy of another essay I wrote which only got a B, as a point of comparison perhaps!
Critically analyse how Nietzsche’s two-drive theory relates to his ideas pertaining to art and philosophy.
In the same way Nietzsche’s theory on Apollinian and Dionysian drives presents a duality of seemingly opposing ideas that in actuality “cannot be reckoned with other than as a pair,” (Burnham and Jesinghausen, 2010, p.33), so too do the realms of aesthetics and philosophy depend upon one another within the Birth of Tragedy (henceforth BT). Where many thinkers prior to this, especially Plato, simply employ art as a device with which one can exemplify aspects of philosophy, Nietzsche argues that it can unite a menagerie of metaphysical concepts in a way that scientific pursuits may not, eventualizing in the discovery of truth itself. To investigate this it is necessary to consider; how and why an ‘anti-structural’ thinker such as Nietzsche employs a duplex conceit that he recognizes “smells offensively Hegelian”, the significance of his borrowing from Greek mythology and thus the classic, theological stratus from which he sought ascension from and the nuances which nudge such contradictions into accordance with one another. Whilst the mature Nietzsche self-deprecated his first work, even re-writing the foreword in “An Attempt at Self-Criticism” in 1886, I would argue that the cacophonous form infamously chastised reflects ideally his own notion of affirming differences rather than suffering to ‘correct’ them. Firstly, however, we must establish the significance art holds to Nietzsche that he should begin his philosophical writings with seeking to gain “much for the science of aesthetics” (p.222).
To Nietzsche, who “started shaping his own philosophy of art under the influence of Schopenhauer” (Taminiaux, 1987, p.85), the pertinence of art is already substantiated in The World as Will and Representation. Herein, art is appropriated as the medium through which we can come to know the ‘thing-in-itself’ without being governed by the will operating in science’s strive towards understanding phenomena logically. Nietzsche acknowledges this, writing in An Attempt at Self-Criticism (1886) that “the problem of science cannot be recognized in the context of science,” (p.5) and rather “only as an aesthetic phenomenon is existence and the world eternally justified” (section XXIV). Art, through taking a subject, separating it from the constraining spheres of space and time, and placing it in such a perspective that is synecdochical to the whole, can help in the achievement of truth and most importantly, in the case of Tragedy, coping with truth. Take the Tragic artist’s chorus where “ the true human being [i]s disclosed, (…) the satyr chorus represents existence more truthfully (…) and completely than the man of culture does who ordinarily considers himself as the only reality” (p.230). Identifying with the satyric chorus (classically followers of Dionysius), the audience shares in experiencing the strife endured by the Apolline characters (bound in stereotype) thus negating from the horrors inflicted by the senseless Dionysiac life/will and fundamentally, veiling spectators from the true nihilism of life that Schopenhauer had previously diagnosed. Taminiaux’s 1987 essay comparing the two philosophers states that “the Apollinian and the Dionysian (…) is understood by Nietzsche according to Schopenhauer’s duality between Representation and Will” (p.94). Schopenhauerian ‘will’ is easily transposed to the Dionysian faculties of primordial unity, ecstasy and satisfaction, as does the former, ‘representation’, contain attributes of the imagistic, illusory and illuminating Apolline. The perfected reciprocation between these, as with aesthetics and science, is crucial in Nietzsche’s considerations.
Through the course of the book Nietzsche unravels how his aesthetic study of Tragedy can be “inextricably linked to his philosophy of human existence in general” (Devir, 2010, p.1). In the opening paragraph he establishes that the ‘Apollinian/Dionysian dichotomy’ should not be considered as ‘concepts’, rather, they are personified as “intensely clear figures of (…) Gods” (p.222), and he refers to them as “tendencies run[ning] parallel to each other,” (ibid. Emphases added). This is noteworthy for several reasons; Burnham and Jesinghausen (2010) remark that “concepts to Nietzsche are nothing but dried up metaphors, (…) they have stopped corresponding with that which they are aiming to capture,” (p.1) and yet “the assumption is that metaphors are the closest linguistic form of human correspondence with the outside ‘true nature of things,’” (ibid.). Syllogistically then, the creator of metaphors, the poet, writer and composer (note that Nietzsche encompassed all three), stands in closer proximity to understanding ‘true nature’ than the creator of concepts, the philosopher (Plato/Socrates perhaps). This also elevates the language Nietzsche uses to greater import, we will return later to how resonant the musical allegories he utilizes in the book truly become in light of this. Secondly, in distancing his faculties from conceptualization he both apotheosizes the drives (they do not merely represent dreams/intoxication, plastic/poetic and so forth, they are a literal embodiment as such), and simultaneously ascribes them to the historical field they have jurisdiction over. The latter takes into consideration Schopenhauer’s belief “that space and time individualize phenomena” (Taminiaux, 1987, p.86).” BT culminates into a study of what eventualized the ‘death’ of Tragedy and seeks a modern ‘rebirth’ of the balancing relief it provides. In Niezsche’s mind, for Hellenic society Tragedy provided catharsis through the ideal coalescence of Dionysiac and Apolline art forms until the conception of Socratic, (Apolline) ‘theoretical optimism’ iconoclastically denied Dionysian chaos, disrupting the delicate balance between the drives. Likewise, “Christian teaching (…) negates, judges, and damns art” (Nietzsche, 1886, p.8) so modernity must adopt it’s own emulation of Tragedy in order to overcome it’s Socratic/Apolline equivalent; Christianity, “As a (…) man of words I baptized it, not without taking some liberty – for who could claim to know the rightful name of the Antichrist? – in the name of a Greek God (…) Dionysius” (p.9). Using Schopenhauer’s own belief system, Nietzsche illuminates a means of escapism from the asceticism and resignation Schopenhauer deemed necessary through an alternate medium from Tragedy, music.
Nietzsche’s studies in Greek philology appear to have provided the idiosyncrasy absent in Schopenhauerian considerations. It is interesting, then, to consider that Apollo was classically characterized as the god of music, often depicted with a golden Lyre. Masing-Delic’s (2004) distillation of the Dionysiac and Apollinian into ‘The Music of Ecstasy and the Picture of Harmony,’ articulates and epitomizes the tenor of music in Nietzsche’s god-headed book. Why then, does he champion a “Dionysian art of music” (p.222)? The deifying of the drives can account towards part of this, characteristics are not exclusively confined to one figure and may be shared, but this is rather reductionist. Nietzsche’s Greek philologic knowledge deems it unlikely that he simply ‘overlooked’ such an inherent theme, based in both syntax and Hellenic culture. A cross-examination of the classic myths associated with Apollo and Dionysius, of which Nietzsche was undoubtedly well-versed, helps us to understand why he chose them, despite this indiscretion. Apollo, “the glorious divine image of the principium individuationis” (p.223), famously competed with the flute player Marsyas to establish whom was most musically talented. Dionysius, on the other hand, infamous for his “singing and dancing crowds” (ibid.) made no such distinguishment between friends, strangers and even enemies, (such as Agave, an aunt who denied his mother’s relations with Zeus and thus his status as an Olympian) in terms of incorporating all into his musical entourage. Hence, Dionysius embodies the specific musicality to which Nietzsche’s dual theory depends, not that of the tonally-ascribed, Apolline harmony of dreams (Traum) but rather of the fervent (Rausch), hedonistic and all-encompassing music, typical of Dionysian festivities. Furthermore, both stories conclude with the portrayal of how an excess in either approaches is fundamentally detrimental. Of the former, when both musicians ‘drew’ from equal proficiency, Apollo demanded that the deciding challenge should be which of the musicians could best simultaneously sing and play. The individualities of their differing instruments meant that Marsyas could not do both with his flute as Apollo could with his Lyre, and resultantly Marsyas was flayed alive. Conversely, Dionysius exploits group mentality incited by wine-delirium to drive Agave to kill her own son, unable to identify – and individualize – her maternal reasoning amidst the frenzy of her peers. He chooses instead deindividuation to enact his wrath. Thus, through these tales Nietzsche also elucidates the prominence he ascribed to the interdependency of the drives.
So far we have established that BT was written in the hope of bringing about societal reform through a revival of Tragedy’s regulation of Apollinian and Dionysiac drives. Music, too, is integral, a recurring motif with great consideration applied in it’s representation. Burnham and Jesinghausen (2010) identify with, and further this, stating that “leitmotifs (are) taken directly from opera into text.” ( p.108) particularly through the boat/sea analogy first used in page 223. These leitmotifs link directly to to Allison’s (2001) claims that “Wagner’s interest in classical drama and Schopenhauer, his theories of total art, and a music of the future all helped to develop Nietzsche’s own concepts” (p.9) and quite rightly – as we have found – elements of all these exist within the text. If Wagner was indeed the “embodiment of artistic genius” (ibid.) to Nietzsche, as many perceive, then he is the common denominator marrying together establishments made so far; to the Nietzsche writing BT, the alignment of Apolline and Dionysiac drives is encapsulated in Wagnerian music, and if accepted could relieve nineteenth-century German society from the falsities of Christianity. Indeed, the original preface to the book is literally dedicated to the composer. However, Nietzsche later revokes this, becoming disillusioned and ashamed that his text had become such a pastiche of Wagnerian music, and “In the ‘dithyrambs’ of Zarathustra (…) [the] opposition of the two gods was [also] repudiated and the will to power was proclaimed as the (…) only basic force of the universe” (Luyster, 1977). Indeed, the dualistic theory he spent so long constructing he tears down in later texts, recoining his definition of ‘Dionysius’ as already exhibiting the characteristics of the union with Apollo, ‘das Ureine’ – the primordial one. What can serve the union of these constructs into one?
The answer lies in the nuances of the wording and workings of Nietzsche, for which Hegelian theory provides a valuable comparison towards uncovering. Unlike Hegel’s dialectic, where the comparison of thesis to antithesis synthesizes understanding, the Apollinian and Dionysian are not mobilized by realising opposition. Where Hegel applies “negation, opposition or contradiction, Nietzsche substitutes the practical element of difference,” (p.9) (Deleuze, 2006). Similarly to how Apollo exploited the idiosyncrasies of his opponents instrument, so too do the Apolline and Dionysiac utilise their differing traits; instead of negation, they come together, like attraction between positive and negative poles, part of a whole magnet. This coherence, the Dionysian revealed in Apolline form, Burnham and Jesinghausen (2010) explain is like “pessimism and optimism (…) no longer opposed as negative/positive binary opposites. The conceptual oppositions are not original, but derivative; they are (…) already intrinsically valued” (p.16). One could understand Tragic art as ‘seeing a pessimistic world in an optimistic light’. This illustrates the reasoning behind Nietzsche’s selection of deities from the plethora of Olympians – why not prometheus and epimetheus, more distinctly demarcated? – it is because of their likenesses that their differences can be resolved. The need for a third factor of synthesis is annulled. Nietzsche wrote of “Greek tragedy as a Dionysiac chorus which discharges itself over and over again in an Apollonian world of images.” so while expressed in the Apolline, the Dionysiac is not changed, rather, made more palatable. In the same way that mythologically Dionysius was born twice, once of his mother, and secondly in Zeus’ thigh so too we can assume Nietzsche conceives the rebirth of Dionysius in Apolline form with the same name but wiser and bettered from the first experience of life.
Writing of a proficient philologist, it is difficult to ignore the ironic wording of Nietzsche’s deprecation of BT as “arrogant and rhapsodic” (p.4). For a book attempting to illustrate the philosophic order a Dionysiac perspective attains, I would suggest that the Apolline form of a philosophic writing in a ‘rhapsodic’, leitmotif-ridden, chromatic arrangement represents a self-explaining, metafictional model of how Nietzsche’s two drives are symbiotically linked to, and inseparable from, art and philosophy. His peer-critics simply overlooked that the innovative and poetic form BT takes “is intended to be symbolic of what Nietzsche wants to say” (Burnham and Jesinghausen  p.11). I would argue that the book and all the parallels it contains are the ‘rerum concordia discors’ – the discordant concord of things – that Apollonian and Dionysian discourse represents, materialized, and fundamentally Nietzsche should have embraced his later aphorism to be “master of the chaos [BT represents]”.
Word Count: 2200 (excluding references and page numbers)
Nietzsche, F., (2008) ‘The Birth of Tragedy’, in Cahn, S., and Meskin, A.,(eds) Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, Blackwell: Oxford
Nietzsche, F., (1995) ‘Part 1:On tragedy Attempt at a Self-Criticism, The Birth of Tragedy’, in Grimm, R., and Molina y Vedia, C.,(eds) Philosophical Writings, Continuum: New York
Allison, D., (2011 ) Reading the New Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Genealogy of Morals. Roman and Littlefield: Oxford
Burnham, D., and Jesinghausen, M., (2010) Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy’: A Reader’s Guide, Continuum: New York
Deleuze ., G (2006) Nietzsche and Philosophy. Columbia University Press: Columbia
Devir, P., (2010) ‘Apollo/Dionysus or Heraclitus/Anaxagoras? A Hermeneutic Inquiry into Nietzsche’s View of Tragedy.’ Papers on Language & Literature: a quarterly journal for scholars and critics of language and literature (46:1), pp. 61-78.
Luyster, R., (1997) ‘Nietzsche/Dionysius: Ecstasy, Heroism, and the Monstrous.’ Journal of Nietzsche Studies (21:1) pp.1-26
Available at: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20717751?uid=3738032&uid=2134&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21103345899573
Masing-Delic, I., (2004) “The Music of Ecstasy and the Picture of Harmony: Nietzsche’s Dionysus and Apollo in Turgenev’s “Pesn´ toržestvujušcej ljubvi”’
Scando-Slavica (50:1) pp.5-22
Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com.v-ezproxy.brunel.ac.uk:2048/doi/abs/10.1080/00806760410011079#.UtGvmvRdXKA
Taminiaux, J.,(1987) ‘Art and truth in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche’, Man and World (20:1), pp. 85-102.
Available at: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF01248634?LI=true#
Simon is whining and scratching but I can’t see at what. I try and peek over his shoulder but he kicks me in the eye and I fall back and I’m worried maybe my eyeball is scratched and I might never know what’s down the hole.
“Lemme seeee!” I cry, both at Simon and a little bit at God. He turns (Simon, not God) and sits, watching me and question-cocking his head. I am super proud I got the authorative thing right but as I think this I get a strange feeling in my stomach, a growling, and it gets louder and deeper and all I can think is that I ate all my lunch today, what’s going on?
Then I realise it’s not my tummy at all it’s everything, the ground and the sky, oh! The sky is heavier and loud like a dry sunny storm then it’s only a plane but then it’s even louder and rumbling, a bus in the sky!
But buses don’t fly. Simon knows this and he tries now to tear open the hole, panting and digging and spraying dirt over my head. Then he stops, stares at me and barks even louder than the bus and runs always looking back to make sure I am following and I am. We are running and its flying over our heads almost towards home and we are running into it’s path, there’s a dark shadow thrown across the grass. My ears hurt and I roll into a ditch and Simon rolls too. As it passes overhead it goes silent. And though my ears feel better I get a feeling that this quiet is much worse than the noise.
I see it now, the Not-Bus and it’s actually a shark with its white teeth bared. I don’t like the way it glides towards the houses without as much as a flick of a fin. It’s moving effortlessly, to keep it’s breath washing over it’s gills. It’s descending still though, definitely. The ditch is wet I realise but I think I should stay and Simon agrees and shuffles on top of me, covering my view with serious eyes and his warm chest.
“What happens when it stops breathing?” Simon looks at me blankly.
“Don’t ask.” He says.
As we walked home watching people running and shouting in the broken glass with buckets Simon was the best behaved I’d ever seen him. We even saw the cat from number 22 race past in a orange lightning bolt but the whole way he stayed perfectly ‘heel’.
When we reached our road and noticed number 54 was gone I knew I was right about the Not-Shark. There was a giant pile of matchstick beams and a bathtub where it used to be. Then Simon ran off and for a moment I was scared but then I saw he was running towards a little pink shimmer in the dust that was Mummy and soon they were both running back to me.
“We’re okay my dear, are you alright? Father’s just helping Mrs. Newbury, let me see you, you’re not cut are you? No, just dirty, oh my sweetest!” She squeezed me and I checked to see no one was watching as she did but secretly I was glad that she was there and the hug did make me feel better.
Simon’s tail is wagging again.
The three of us walk back home together. All the windows on the left side of our house (the side closest to number 54) are smashed but then 53 has a few walls missing and when you tilt your head it looks like a gummy mouth. 52’s roof looks like the thatching came off and got put back funny. But 54 is just… a pile. Mummy squeezes my hand.
“Mum. Where’s the Tomlinsons?”
Simon is curled up in his bed with the fire glowering behind him. He looks more crumpled now, and a few of his spots have turned grey. Caroline goes to ruffle his ears but he just sighs and turns his head away.
“Simon! Sorry, I don’t know whats gotten into him. He’s not usually like this.” Silly dog. She smiles and comes back under my arm.
“It’s okay, he looks tired.”
“Oh dear, yes, he’s an old dog now! Still likes a cuddle now and again but only on his terms I’m afraid. Much like your father dear,” She laughs that secret silent laugh. “I wouldn’t worry Caroline, he’ll be climbing all over you after tea. Speaking of which, are you both hungry yet? Ah, good, the chicken should be ready any minute!” Mum shuffles off to the kitchen.
“Your mother’s an amazing woman you know. Still living in this house after -”
“Yeah, I know. It was strange coming back after the evacuation. You go on in darling, I’ll be there in a minute.” She squeezes my hand and leaves.
“What’s wrong boy, eh? Why are you being like this?” He won’t look at me when I try to scratch his chin so I lift his head towards me. “What is it boy?”
He gives me a look that I remember through the white brows then his eyes go glassy and he turns his head away again and stands up. He shakes himself then walks towards the garden door.
“Silly dog, the chicken’s not in there.” He must be getting old, I think, Simon never misses Sunday roast.
After dinner Simon is gone. He must’ve gone out of the catflap though he’s never done that before, we always thought he couldn’t fit. I pull on my wellies and my jacket.
“It’s cold Caroline, you wait here.” I take her hands. “He can’t have gone far, I won’t be long.” I go to leave.
There is running in the distance. A warm, familiar embrace.
“Stay my sweetest. You know, he wouldn’t want you to see.” Mummy squeezes my hand.
This was written under the inspiration we were to write a ‘coming of age’ story. Trying to use dialogue a bit more too!
My Dad was evacuated in WWII and this is loosely based on a true story he told me about when doodlebugs fell in Enfield! Simon is also a real dog but I don’t know if he could really talk.
I should start posting more often now I’m back at uni.
Hope you enjoyed :)
Food and foreplay: How social media shaped our religion
Apart from instigating misleading responses to the question ‘Mommy, what exactly is a BJ?’ Steak and ‘Love-between-a-woman-and-a-man-Kind-Of’ Day took Twitter by storm this March 14 as ‘the male equivalent to Valentine’s Day.’
What does this say about what we care about in a modern age? Particularly when we consider the 2002 article ‘Britain has no National Children’s Day…’ and eleven years, and no recognition of International Children’s Day (November 20) later we have, at least, managed to produce a chauvinistic celebratory day which nudges women towards the belly (excuse the pun) of a patriarchal social media-fed monster which has spawned three ‘official websites’ to date. Honestly, Google it. Or don’t actually. It is this dependency on the internet which conceived the beast in the first place. Not that I can deny hypocrisy. As I write this I am simultaneously searching funny dogs on Pinterest (LOLcats are so last year, didn’t you watch Crufts?), uploading the weekends photos onto Facebook and thinking of witty oneliners for #smellconfession, apparently. Social media has indeed given us a platform to market ourselves, but once we’ve finished writing About Me’s and reformatting backgrounds we find ourselves in an internet purgatory of sorts, waiting for the illusive ‘k’ to appear after our number of followers. In lieu of such an occurrence, the majority of us must find contentment in scrolling through our Newsfeeds for something we can hashtag and follow like square-eyed sheep. Lo and behold, horsemeat in burgers?! Haven’t bought one since 1998 but heck, I eat, people eat; Sarah Jessica Parker, there’s a meme here with your name on it.
Although you laugh, you can’t ignore that familiar shudder down your spine as you remember your own ‘neigh-ver eating Findus again’ status. Yes. I know.
Self-loathing aside, I can’t help but wonder what drives our collective writer to use those precious one hundred and forty characters on the same topic pretty much every other sucker is. According to one ‘Official Steak and BJ’ site, the day has been slithering around the internet since 2003, so why hadn’t I heard of it until now? I can’t help thinking of Hume’s theory of the Natural History of Religion. Essentially, he postulated that religion follows an evolutionary pattern, oscillating between monotheism and polytheism – that’s one god or moar gods to you internetter – from pagan idols to an omnipotent creator then refluxing back into the worship of multiple, more personal deities. Applied to the modern age, it still makes sense. During the age of World War, the threat of imminent death drove the majority to seek a God who would be a comfort during times of fear or disaster. While I certainly can’t call the noughties perfect, I can refer to the nearly universal revocation of threats of climate change, as per the Sunday Telegraph’s rather cutting article on David Attenborough’s polar bear fibs, and the absence of weapons of mass destruction this end of the universe. Once we realised we weren’t all going to die in a puff of nuclear ray guns, the celebrity culture exploded instead, morphing into obsession with the invention of our good ol’ friend the Internet.
So here we are worshipping Stephen Fry and Justin Bieber when Stephen gets gay on us in too many ways than we can ignore, and Bieber’s balls drop. Ah. I guess we’re back to the metaphorical religious drawing board.
Bringing us nicely back to the question baffling our government for so long; who wants to celebrate kids anyway? They get old, smoke weed and smell like milk for an unnaturally long amount of time. They can’t even vote for monotheism’s sake! It’s not a big deal, the UN recommend it, but the only countries that celebrate Children’s Day are Azerbaijan, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central Africa, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, China, Hungary, Haiti, Indonesia, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Mexico, Mongolia, Mozambique, New Zealand, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Sudan, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zambia after all.
Macedonia and us. We got a good thing going; let’s not mix things up too much.
Despite how this seems to be going, I am not about to suggest we start self-flagellating for Fillets and Fellatio [N.B. Cheers Official S & BJ site No.2]. What I am happy to propose however, is that the next step on our religious pilgrimage is not merely towards an omnipotent being, but an omnipotent idea. Our previous Gods disappoint, popes quit; All hail the internet, and our collective input to it. The hashtag will be our spiritual guide, connecting us to the spirits of our brethren, Thou Shalt not Hack thine Neighbours Facebook will be sang at schools across the Western world. Smirk all you will – we are half-way there, preferring self-glorification in fabricated red-letter days than celebrating the implementation of Children’s Rights.
At least we learnt something from the little mites; following the fall of our previous religions, our paracosm is the Internet itself.
I know. Time to stop typing that T-Bone joke.
This is part of my ‘Journalism’ module coursework, and doesn’t necessarily express real opinions of mine! The project is to write a collection of articles in the style of a certain publication as if to be published and has to be about current affaris. Bit concerned this might not be high-brow enough… ha!
It’s inspired by Charlie Brooker’s column, and thus for The Guardian… hopefully that’s apparent?
Let me know what you think :)
My poem, ‘Names’ has been published on the ‘Dead Beats’ literary blog and you can have a look on the link above :)
Thanks to Dead Beats for this great opportunity!
You can read what they had to say about it on Facebook here
Let me know what you think!
“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”
— Albert Camus
A man wakes to the first rays of light prickling through the curtains. It is the same grey room that always greets him. There are a few more scattered items of crockery than he remembered there being. One of the cups on the bedside wears a furry crown upon an invisible head of water. Yawning, he pulls himself up at the promise of coffee.
Stepping through the smattering of papers and books strewn about the floor, he makes it to the kitchen, slapping down the knob on the kettle which bounces up defiantly. Swearing, he walks the extra few steps to the sink filling the kettle and slamming it on the mains port.
Next, he gropes at some mugs. Liquid splashes onto the work surface. He lifts the largest one to his nose, retching at the stench of alcohol that assaults his nostrils. Turning his face away, he tips the contents into the sink and squeezes washing up liquid into its mouth and leaves the tap running in it.
Lifting his body onto the work surface he puts his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees and his feet are left swaying in the air beneath them. He sighs, loudly, turning his head to the desk whereupon his laptop and numerous notepads lie. Turning his head back, the sight is obscured safely again by his palms.
This rest is broken by a urinal trickling. He jumps up, knowing immediately that he will be met by the suds bouncing gleefully around the rim of the sink as pieces of old food are swept to the floor in small streams. Turning off the tap he hears a fizzle behind him as the kettle overflows. His rage is immeasurable. With a sweep of his arm, he sends an array of porcelain crashing to the floor.
He is frustrated I suppose. He thinks his only companionship lies in the pigeons that occasionally shit on his balcony and fly away again before he has time to throw profanities and failed prologues at them.
His shoulders rise and fall steadily as he looks upon the sharp pearlescent shards that almost grin back at him. Impossible. He throws the closest dishtowel over the whole lot. The writing desk looks better now.
Although now he’s reached it and he can see the coffee stains stamped upon his laptop and the snowballs of paper that frame it, a familiar feeling rises in his stomach. Dizzied by it, he takes a seat in the worn grooves of the wooden seat.
Even now, fingers stretched towards the jar containing his writing instruments, his hand trembles. The capacity of those tubes of ink when nodding along with his knuckles as he scribbles frantically, terrifies him. His hand slumps back onto the table as he tries to determine which pen should serve him best. Which one curves sufficiently to navigate cortex and cerebrum and catch the golden tail of an idea, saturate itself in it and regurgitate it shiny and new onto the page?
Rubbing his temples, he tries to raise memories of techniques he may have overlooked, something to stimulate the Midnight Disease he knows he has within him.
The free-flow had failed. All he could write was that he could not write. He wrote this, over and over again, in different ways, past tenses and present participles until he found himself faced with the same sentences and there were no new ways to say old things.
He had cut up old papers and books producing jargon and confetti, some of which still lines the skirting boards.
He had bought Significant Objects. Mediocre and trashy he had thought as he picked up fluffy trolls and chipped china. But gold flashed in his eyes. So mediocre, so trashy, he had to have it. How could he not be inspired by such innate items handled by strangers?
It is now he remembers them and looks upon the windowsill where some sit, casting obscure shadows onto his desk, funnelling light through handles and armpits and tails, almost glittering. He thinks he will perhaps incorporate all of them, in the same vein that Greenman used the longest name palindrome in his Corked Bottle tale. But as he sits it does not come. He doesn’t even understand the fucking name story. He finds himself thinking only of the corporate stamp upon each form, items designed for one wear then tears. Instead of seeing their story potential he wonders what mark-up they achieved for Villeroy and Boch.
So as he stares at the window, eyes glazed to the sun, he misses the gentle clink of china as They congregate about his bed.
For Significant, his Objects are.
I hope people can make sense of this, I’d be interested to see what people think. Hopefully it’s a positive reflection to leave you with :)
Link to Ben Greenman’s http://significantobjects.com/2010/04/30/corked-bottle-ben-greenman-story/
The world stopped today
At four o’clock
The great red whales
spat their last commuters
As the powdery barnacles at their fins
Calcified them for another working day
bank holidays and weekends not included
My stomach smiles inwardly
as my solemn brow turns from the porthole
sighing at the clock
on a perpendicularly moustached face
The coffee in your palms
ebbing and flowing
with the tides outside
And spewing steam
like the smokestack won’t
Splashes onto the deck
Pulling on your smock
(and your trousers)
You hand me my wetsuit
and yank open the hatch
your hair pink on your cheeks
You draw the zip up my back
the teeth bite my neck
Pretending not to see
the coral spreading across the neoprene
you tell me I’m a strong swimmer
that the iceburg is off-course
And with a kiss
(I smell the bile rising in your throat)
send me out
Swimming with the sharks.
Got inspired/bored by the snow that’s all over England today. An alternative stance I hope, but definitely got carried away with the sea metaphor sorry :(
In your tower,
Suspended on expensive plastic rods,
Within strands bound with the bloodcells of bleeding fingers.
You know nothing,
As you lie, spreadeagled,
The hair ripped from your loins
By a stranger,
Who looks upon you
As a medical steak,
And a portfolio,
And $100 from a newspaper story.
As they pull back
The little pink ovals from your fingertips,
Glossy and glittering.
Beneath, they reveal,
The yellowing, fractured calcium
Layered like an onion,
And smelling so
Til they wipe chemicals over it,
Pressing a new nail on
As you notice their naked hands..
As your eyes sting,
Peroxide fumes rising,
Fusing together the plastic hairs upon your eyelids,
That you already cried for once.
Your scalp screams.
And the little man behind you
Pats the burning skin atop your head,
Protected in rubber,
In a falsetto voice
He tells you ‘Honey, you know it’s worth it’
But as your silhouette arches,
Held by a man who also held your heart,
On a TV screen.
Daddy shaking his head,
You’re both crying again.
He gives you the key to the world,
So you can hide til this all blows over.
And you find yourself in the same LA hotel as always,
Cradling your plastic chest in your arms.
We were given about 20 minutes for this writing exercise. I won’t lie, I did add to it as the seminar went on, but the idea and 99% of the poem was devised and written in class I swear :)
I will be using this blog as a platform to share some of my creative work.
It’s mainly stories/poetry written at University, coursework or homework I have been set as part of my English and Creative Writing BA so it’s mostly quite rough around the edges, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.
Will possibly post articles too as I am taking a Journalism module this term, as well as videos and radio shows.
I am also Secretary of the University Sub-Aqua/Scuba club so you may see that popping up every now and again too; for this, I apologize.
Constructive Criticism welcome, I’m a student – I’m used to it… Just try to minimize spirit-crushing etc.