Monday, 6 February 2012

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Shit Muncher

This morning was spent in a haze of procrastination under the guise of “research”, and during my “research” I came across the above article. This kind of thing always catches my attention but probably not for the reasons the writer intends. I regard them as an invitation to partake in the increasingly popular sport of shit munching. The article really reads, 

"Dear Plebs, please come munch our shit. It is nutritious and will aid your neuroses in ways that don't seem much at the time, we're just frivolous fun after all, but will nevertheless try to get under your skin and make you question yourselves, just like all the other ridiculous shit that you get bombarded with every day but means jack all. Thank you for your time. Now please fuck off and feel bad about yourselves." 

It's a genre of article that is designed to fuck our shit up. Mcshizzles like Cosmopolitan do it all the time. "Better sex", "Why doesn't he want you?" "How to make him want you!” "Even better sex!" - a thinly veiled didactic pissantry that in reality serves only to confuse and undermine.

I think I can consider consider myself as being in a successful (certainly so far) long term relationship (getting on for 20 years *choke splutter*) but that qualifies me for nothing. Good for us and all that - I genuinely believe that committing to anything, not just in respect to love and companionship, should be celebrated (and that includes committing yourself to cutting your losses; those decisions are almost invariably hard as fuck) - but mine is not a template for anyone else's relationship. 

In a world of increasing homogeneity *shudder* this kind of article comes thick and fast. While we're told that the family unit has changed/is changing and that it's okay to be on our own or whatever, we're also slammed with these proclamations about the holy grail of long term security and love. As though anyone really has a clue. People can lecture you all they like about how they "make it work", but I'd be willing to bet good money they're making that shit up. Truth is, in our case, the only thing I really know is that we stick together. We don't give up when it's hard, we don't walk away and wander around in that greener grass over there. Not because we stand before a jury of our peers and declare ourselves to be committed to working things through, noble soliloquy from the male lead and all, but because the thought of not being together sucks ass. Simples, as they say.

So much energy is wasted in making judgements about other people's relationships, whether that's from a negative “it’ll never work” or a positive “what’s their secret” perspective. Futile rubbish. You can’t really explain why one person falls for another – common interests and lust are all very well, but that mysterious kick-in-the-gut spark is usually what seals the deal. You can't share secrets about "how to make it work" because the variables are never the same. Even if all men were uncommunicative ballbags and women uptight harridans, the variations on these stereotypes would still be in their millions, making any rule, or set thereof, redundant.

Yes, be nice to each other - if you care deeply about one another, why would you not be? Yes, talk to each other - again, caring deeply = worth the effort. But all that other horseshit in the article? Pinch of salt. It probably doesn't apply to you. It doesn't to us. Secrets? I can't lie to Mr Y to save my life, I'm brutally honest and open, and it works. Sit down and make a fucking road map for the future? What for? We usually can't plan much past next week ... but, then again, if that's what floats your boat, why should you not? Get your cartography on!

The thing is, none of us know much about any of this carnival of fools. We have little to no idea why some relationships work and why others don't. We're all flying by the seat of our clich├ęd pants and articles like these are fillers, not pointers. Don't waste your time worrying about what you're supposed to do, and get on with the loving and the living. Or working, or helping, or painting, or skiiing, or whatever the fuck you like. You’re the only one who can feel what’s right for you at the time. It's your life, whether you live with someone (or someones) else or alone. Your choice. Your rules … actually, fuck rules. Rules suck.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Mr Hardy

The RSC are putting on an evening of the poetry of Thomas Hardy. Here's the link to the event:

Sadly, I'm going to miss it, but it has reminded me to reread his poetry because I haven't done so in ages. Hardy's poems are what really made me fall in love with English Literature. I studied them for GCSE and although I had been a rabid reader since I was but a scrap of a thing, I'd never connected with the subject at school. Not really. We read Far From The Madding Crowd, but Hardy's prose left me cold - I've tried since, I really have, but still with the meh. His poems, on the other hand, turned out to be a revelation.

On the surface, they might seem homely, but often they are twisted and wonderful. Many of them make me want to dig him up and slap him upside the head, but the impotent angst is just too addictive. His first wife, Emma, died suddenly and although they were estranged her loss hit him hard. He began churning out acres of mournful poetry about her, every line aching with his futile remorse. Remorse, you say? Yes, indeed. But how is that so? I don't recall him living out the rest of his life in heartbroken solitude. No indeed. This spurt of industry was in full effect when he married his second, much younger, wife, Florence (who had been his secretary) It seems to me that he spent most of his marriage to her bemoaning the loss of Emma. Quel ballbag. But my, they're good poesie.

Try any of his work - in a step away from his marital shitdickery, Convergence of the Twain, about the sinking of the Titanic (or, more to the point, about how Nature was just waiting to fuck that shit up) is one of my all time favourite poems:

      In a solitude of the sea
     Deep from human vanity,
And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she.

     Steel chambers, late the pyres
     Of her salamandrine fires,
Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres.

     Over the mirrors meant
     To glass the opulent
The sea-worm crawls -- grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent.

     Jewels in joy designed
     To ravish the sensuous mind
Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind.

     Dim moon-eyed fishes near
     Gaze at the gilded gear
And query: "What does this vaingloriousness down here?". . .

     Well: while was fashioning
     This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

     Prepared a sinister mate
     For her -- so gaily great --
A Shape of Ice, for the time fat and dissociate.

     And as the smart ship grew
     In stature, grace, and hue
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

     Alien they seemed to be:
     No mortal eye could see
The intimate welding of their later history.

     Or sign that they were bent
     By paths coincident
On being anon twin halves of one August event,

     Till the Spinner of the Years
     Said "Now!" And each one hears,
And consummation comes, and jars two hemispheres.

Of course, there's a lot more to Hardy than my pithy but sadly superficial scratch at his surface might suggest. So, I urge you to read his poetry. I really do.