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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Pissertation.

Ohoho, I am such a punner.

So, my dissertation has got to an odd stage. I rattled off 2400 words in just over an evening, and over the last three or four days, have added about 600-700 more words. I am just over half way towards the minimum word count. I sent my 2400-word version to the boyfriend of one of my closest friends. Her boyfriend is in the first year of his PhD, and he wanted to give it a once over, out of kindness and interest.

I just got his feedback back (back back. Just thought that sentence needed even more backs), and I am just awestruck. Each little nugget of feedback is like a chunk of gold! I know that it is worth an awful lot, but I have no idea how to make it into something useful. It's a shit analogy, but it kind of works in a way. He has given me lots of ideas for other people to read, and given me a heap of suggestions of ways to develop my argument. Any normal person would be delighted at this level of feedback and encouragement. I just don't know what to do with it! I feel like my argument is going nowhere, and I worry that I will be unable to salvage it. I can't change my title as it is too late, but I don't feel like I am addressing the titular themes at all...

Dan's mum asked me what my "opinion" on Electronic Literature was. Six months ago, I might have said it was "Innovative", "collaborative", that it "opens doors to new territory and modes of communication, yet unexplored"... However, when she asked me the question, the night before last, I had no idea what to say. Admittedly, it was a very open-ended question indeed, but really, I think my lack of coherent approach to her query was that I don't even know what to think anymore. It isn't as though the advent of the internet suddenly sparked cries of "Oh! Finally literature can be truly interactive and collaborative! We were trapped by books before! There was no way to express a sentiment through temporality or spatiality!" That wouldn't be true at all. My research for my dissertation, particularly in recent weeks, has shown me, if nothing else, that the tropes of electronic literature go way back to before computer technology existed. Bob Brown conceptualised the "Reading Machine" in 1930, and sought to revolutionise the way that literary works were perceived, as well as the way in which they were written. B. S. Johnson ruptured the idea of the linear narrative in the 'book technology' long before randomization and coding on a computer was used to create any artistic work. Cinema was used as an artistic and literary outlet for a century... I just don't know what I am doing anymore.

I am in the library, and this counts as serious procrastination. Back to work with me.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

"Vacation"... (ha ha ha)

Salut chums,

I packed my life into a cupboard and a box room on Saturday, and moved my sweet self (as well as a pile of books, and a suitcase full of clothes) to Dan's parents' house. I hate moving. I hate how I have to make choices about which of my items I will get to see for the next month, I hate how I have to dismantle all of my picture displays, I hate how I always break at least one of my nails really far down, and it hurts like a SHIT. It puts me in a really bad mood, to move all of my things, and pack them away. I cannot wait until I install myself somewhere at least semi-permanent.

On the other hand, after eight weeks at university, staring at the same four walls, I do become slightly stir crazy. I need constant changes of scenery, which is probably because I lived between two houses from the age of nine until I moved to university. I cannot stay for the whole day inside the house, otherwise I feel like a slob. I have never understood "pyjama days", but many of my friends swear by them as food for the soul.

The change-over between university, and "home" is also irritating in that takes away an entire day. The packing, the moving, the unpacking, and the subsequent EXHAUSTION means that there is no chance of pulling off any productivity on that day. That said, over the last two days, I have added over 600 words to my dissertation, which is something of an achievement since I have had no real direction for it, and no feedback from my supervisor. I have hit a brick wall at the moment, and feel like there isn't much that I can contribute to it until my supervisor has got back to me with some advice as to how I should proceed. I feel like I am writing myself in circles.

On a more positive note, I have rediscovered cross stitch, and have been cross stitching feminist slogans. I will post pictures when I have finished some projects to my satisfaction. The good weather, and the copious amounts of blossom everywhere has cheered me immensely, and I cannot wait until the end of exams, so that I can start to enjoy all of the things that the outside world has to offer me!
A photo I took of blossoms near college.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Overheard Conversations

I had to renew six books today as well as taking out five more, from two separate libraries in Cambridge today, so I decided to take a big "re-usable" Sainsbury's carrier bag, in which to carry my ridiculous pile of books. Having completed this errand, I was faced with a choice; to take my book-heavy bag back to my college on the bus, or to walk to town. I stared up at the departure board at the bus stop outside of the English faculty, and decided that nine minutes was just too long to wait, and that I'd have to walk to town (the opposite direction to my college/home). There was clearly some kind of masochistic subconscious thoughts going on, as I already had a splitting headache, and had sprained both of my ankles earlier in the week.
I set out in the direction of town, knowing as I went, that I had made the wrong choice, but relishing the schizophrenic rebellion that I was enacting. Walking through King's College, I was in too much pain to appreciate the little ducks pattering around in the bluebell covered banks on either side of the pathway, but I just about managed to smile at the daffodils that have all popped up out of nowhere. Every year I think to myself, "I don't notice the daffodils until they are flowering! Next year, I vow to notice them before they open their bright yellow heads!", but of course, I never do.
I got to town, and thought, "Now what?" as I really hadn't thought past getting there. I felt like window shopping to congratulate myself for having been so productive in renewing all of my library books, but I was in no position to do so. My head pulsated. Defiantly, I walked to the Post Office to buy stamps that I don't need, just because I could. I was on FIRE. There wasn't NOBAWDEH who could tell me what to do. I was my own man. Blowin' in the wind, etc. If anyone wanted to tell me to stop, they could SUCK MY BALLZ. You get the picture. I bought the stamps, twelve of them; an arbitrary number that I decided upon from a shortlist of seven, twelve, and fifteen. With that task completed, I felt empty and directionless, so I let my battered feet do the navigating. I limped to Boots to see if my friend Liv was working that day, and to buy some paracetamol to subdue my pounding brain. Liv wasn't working when I went there, but I managed to buy paracetamol, and summon enough saliva to swallow two of them, "dry". I couldn't really see in a straight line by this point, and all of the ground had turned into a series of rolling hills, undulating before me. I staggered to the bus stop, and sat waiting for the bus. As I waited, consuming a nut and grain bar that I had purchased on the way, I overheard the following half-a-telephone-conversation:

"...So now I'm in a load of shit, and they think I did it. Sarah's on my side, and told the others it weren't me, but I think they still think that it was...........yeah............ But now my mum's in on it too...............mm................ I refused to vote, I wasn't going to get involved with their bitching....... Just left............... Apparently they killed them, and dragged them all around Cambridge............. the gypsies............... Gypsies................ You know, travellers............ So they killed them, and dragged one of them all around Cambridge......"

You'd think that at this point, my ears would prick up further, but the haze of my headache made me zone out for a bit. When I tuned back in to this girl's conversation, I heard:

"...And threw them all on a fire............ At least one of them, anyway............ The gypsies............ And had a massive party.............. And I really, REALLY wanted to watch........... Like, really............ but I went home because I thought it was disrespectful............."

At this point, the conversation changed completely, to the girl talking about how her dad wanted to charge her £75 for driving lessons. I felt like I had experienced some sort of shift to another plane of existence, where people habitually had gypsy burning parties, and then slipped back into this dimension seamlessly, between bites of my cereal bar. It was odd indeed. I made it home, and tried to explain to my flatmates what I had experienced, but they didn't quite seem to understand. Dear reader, do you think that I am going mad?

I am sorry for the text-heavy posts of late. I will post more photos soon, when I have debugged my laptop. :)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Third Day Running.

Last night, I went to Stratford upon Avon with my seminar group for the Shakespeare in Performance module that I am taking this year. I don't get on with anyone in my seminar group particularly well, save for the lad who is on my course, AND at my particular college. He has his car with him at university (highly illegal, and punishable by flogging and public degradation), so normally he drives us both to the seminar. He couldn't go to the play, so I was doomed to take the minibus with the rest of my seminar 'comrades'. They aren't all that bad, I am just peculiarly shy around some people. It seems completely arbitrary, which people I will be bright and bubbly with, and which people will make me recoil in social terror.
I sat next to a boy on the coach who had bought some skin-tight white jeans at the recent RSC costume sale, but as soon as we arrived in Stratford, everyone disappeared. Perhaps my fear repelled them. Maybe they could sense my distaste at their pretentious thespian ways. The outcome of this was that I was doomed to roam the streets of Stratford alone, and to eat my pasta salad on a bench opposite the birthplace of Shakespeare in the freezing cold, whilst the rest of them ate hot, steaming piles of delicious, soggy chips in an establishment that caused me to salivate like a dog when its aroma met my nose (a good couple of minutes before I could see the place).
The performance itself was fantastic. The woman who played Cleopatra was spot on, the perfect mix of heightened sexuality, and childish petulance, whilst Antony was a sordid, groping needy excuse for a man. My seminar comrades complained that they couldn't see the couple's "chemistry", but I thought that it was glaringly obvious. Perhaps I am naive. The production was in modern dress, but with a really polished edge. The characters were definitely 'in costume', rather than looking like they just turned up in mufty. I wish I could have seen Romeo and Juliet too, as that play is also being staged in Stratford at the moment.

Today has been long and stressful, with several unfortunate mishaps such as my computer falling victim to a particularly nasty virus, making me unable to hand in an essay for which I am being supervised tomorrow. Time to go bedwards, and see what tomorrow may bring (apart from an embarrassing and awkward supervision).

Nacht. x

Monday, 14 March 2011

Une Liste

Salut encore, mes petits pois.

Tonight, I offer you a list. I am feeling bogged down with work and dissertation stuff, so I am going to write a list of things that make me happy, in an attempt to cheer mysef up. Let me know if any of your happy list things are the same as my happy list things!

- Candles wedged into the tops of wine bottles.
- Colour coded notes/folders.
- Having everything written into the calendar and into my diary.
- Shakespeare.
- The Royal Shakespeare Company.
- Pasta Salad.
- Having random heart-to-hearts with unexpected people.
- My baritone ukulele.
- Shoes.
- The fact that every surface in my room is covered with piles of books, and so is the floor.
- Saving pretty pictures onto my computer.
- Materialism.
- Getting things done.
- Washing myself.
- The Great Gatsby
- Rose perfume (I got Paul Smith's Rose for Christmas, from Dan's parents!)
- Apostrophes, and the correct usage thereof.
- Fairy lights.
- Cups of tea, pots of tea, mugs of tea.
- My cameras.
- Being told that my argument is "cogent".
- Feeling comfortable enough with a supervisor to say the word "strap-on" with utterly no context, or motive.
- Being looked after.
- Bunting.
- The sky.
- University Radio.
- Blossom.
- Post.
- Planning the future.

I might "treat" you to my ridiculously romanticised, idealised imaginings of the future, in another post, but for now, let me just leave you with a small peeve of mine. I'll be damned if I ever end a blog post on a positive note...

Etc. I use this little 'word' an awful lot. I also often see it used by others. However, it pains me to see people spelling it "Ect". I know, I know, when people say it fast, it sounds a bit like "Eksetra", and if that were the case, you might be forgiven, if you had never seen it written, to spell it "ecetra" or something similar. Perhaps you believe it to be a contraction of such a word as "ecetra". However, if that were the case, we would write it thus; ec't'. That's just not write. The fact of the matter is that when I see Etc. being bastardised into "Ect", I automatically assume that the person who is writing, is referring suddenly to Electro-Convulsive Therapy, a procedure for which the acronym ECT is used. In fact, when people say "Etc", they are saying "Et Cetera", which is a Latin term for "and so on". So, "etc" is literally, "Et" (and) followed by the "C" for "cetera". It is for this reason that we follow "etc." with a full stop. It is also often written &c. I do love the ampersand. That's another matter, for another post, I fear.

Night, etc. x

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Howzit goin'?

Salut chums,

I have cruelly neglected my bloglet again. A heinous crime, I know. It has literally been months. I use tumblr a lot these days, although I feel the constant pressure of having to cater to an audience there. I have started a thing that I call "Tumblr Rules" where I basically gently rip the loving shit out of all of the unspoken Tumblr conventions that seem to be floating around that website. Perhaps it is just the types of blogs that I follow, but there certainly seem to be a lot of skinny thigh-ed, field dwelling, flannel shirt wearing, kitten cuddling, nail polish wearing, long haired girls, frolicking themselves stupid on that website...

As I wrote in my last post, I always make these silly little lists of "How things will be" around September time, and they always go to shit by about a week later. Let's see how I did...

  • Don't spend as much time on the internet Well, that one certainly went to pot almost immediately. What can I say, I am a shameless addict. Plus, I moderate a forum. I have a DUTY to be on the internet, guys!
  • Read more (replace useless internet time with useFUL reading time) I have read many many more books so far this academic year, than I managed last year, that's for sure. I still have a tendency to click mindlessly through the same five tabs at 2AM when nothing has changed...
  • Work in the library Nope... Actually, I lie. I have worked in the library twice this year, and both times have yielded magnificent productivity. So it's all about actually GETTING myself to the library...
  • Get my essays done before 'essay crisis night' There has been so much work this year that every other night has been 'essay crisis night'. That was never going to work.
  • Cook for everyone and make them think I am a superawesome cook. This one has mostly worked. We take it in turns to cook for the whole flat, and whenever it's my turn everyone is very happy with the results. However, I am condemned to ALWAYS cook meat, because I live with carnivores who think that a meal without meat isn't a real meal at all...
  • Pluck my goddamn eyebrows more often. I used to be so dedicated to this cause. Maybe I have sorted my priorities out since then. That's what I like to tell myself.
  • File my work more neatly. Partial success. However, Dan's work is everywhere and they get mixed up, quite often.
  • Go to more lectures. I wish I could say that this year has been a wonderful success regarding my attendance of lectures... However, that would be a lie. I always start term so well. It's been a while since I went to a lecture.
  • Make better lecture notes. My lecture and seminar notes still consist of "Someone just said a word that I don't understand. It's something like Acctrecc....something...shun? Learn that word... Someone else just said a thing. Why do they always say things? Shakespeare... plagiarism... commonplace... shut up bitch you sound so nasal... bear baiting..."
  • Do more exercise I weep at how little exercise I have done.
  • Eat more healthily Mostly a success! Fallen off of the wagon a little in the last couple of weeks because I have been ill, but other than that, I've been doing well.
So this is how that list stands now. The italicised parts are my annotations, in case that passed you by.

In other news, my mother is in Australia, and my father is still in France. It feels rather strange to be alone in the country, as it were. I wouldn't dare to liken it to being an orphan, but the feeling of not having your parents anywhere nearby is an oddly terrifying thought, although it is also very liberating. I was never constrained by my parents at any point, and I had a fair amount of freedom, but it's rather nice to not have to answer to anyone. That said, I really miss talking to them, and I miss the dynamic whereby all parties had very defined roles. I was the child, they were the parents. Of course, those roles still stand, but it changes when you leave home. I can completely understand why my mother (along with all of the mothers of all of my friends) is suffering greatly from a case of 'empty nest' syndrome.

After a long struggle to get my reference, I submitted my application for my PGCE in November. I got rejected by my first choice university straight away, because my Director of Studies took so long to writemy reference, and they'd filled up. The application system for PGCEs is an utter mess, and the way it runs is that they send your application in order to your choices, only sending it on, once you've been rejected. It allows the universities to be more selective, but doesn't allow any selection on the part of the applicant. The number of places on PGCEs has been cut significantly, by the Tory "government", and so the process changed from being relatively stress-free, to a competitive hotbed of evil. I was eventually invited to interview at my second choice, and so after spending weeks agonising about what to wear, and significantly less time worrying about what to say, I set off for my interview...
Upon arrival, the thirty or so candidates that were assembled alongside me in the room, were told that there was tecnhically only ONE place on offer, for which we were all competing. Immediately, the air tasted sour, and the sound of gulps stereoed around the room. We all looked at one another. The interviewing man placated us a little with the promise of ten further "waiting list places". There were significantly more than ten of us present, a fact of which everyone was acutely aware.
There was a group task, involving us reading a year 7's creative writing story, and then critiquing it in groups of about six. We were then to produce a piece of "reflective writing" about the task we had just done. With that completed, we were allotted our ten minute interview timeslots, and allowed to leave until we were needed again.
If I am honest, I really don't know how I managed to get an offer. I feel as though I balls-ed up the interview, and that my "reflective writing" was incoherent and unstructured, but two weeks after the interview day, I received an offer, conditional upon my obtaining a 2:2 in my degree. I bloody hope I manage that. I will be heartbroken if I get a 3rd, for many reasons, the most significant being that I REALLY WANT to get into this university, and I don't want to have to take a year out.

This has been a wall of text, and for that I apologise. Let's show you some pretty pictures of things that I am lusting about. Then I shall finish, as I have to read more of Iain Sinclair's "Lights Out For The Territory" before bed, and get up for a day full of Shakespeare tomorrow!I've been fantasizing about next year. Dan and I are getting a kitten, and I have all of these idealised images of myself reading paperbacks with the cat curled up on my lap. This is just a picture I found on Tumblr. Rather emblematic of the whimsical bollocks you see on there actually. I love it really...

This is someone else's photo of a tiny keychain camera that I just purchased to add to my collection of cameras. It's on its way from Hong Kong at the moment, but I await its arrival with eager anticip.....ation.

This is a picture from my 21st birthday party. I had a very whimsical teaparty, with lots of IRL and interweb friends. My mum made all of the cakes, and everything was lovely.

Adieu. xx
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