Have just discovered http://tagger.steve.museum/ and the word ‘Folksonomy.
Now how to use this for good in my archive project…?
- Thoughts on Body Image, or Why It Was OK to be the ‘Good Friend’ in the End
- What I Think About Men
- Time I Hate My Job, or Annoying Library Users vol. 1
- My To-Do List
I don’t have anything to say.
There’s half a post about winning flame wars on the internet sitting in my drafts, but I don’t really want to finish it right now (plus it’s embarrassing.)
I wrote about my holiday in my private journal (and besides, that’s not what this thing is for.)
I didn’t write anything creative while I was away.
There’s nothing in my moleskine at the moment bar shopping lists and notes about copyright and licencing issues in libraries. So unless you want a true record of my life, I won’t be updating with that.
I have, however, had what I consider to be a brilliant idea. Well, two, really.
One: world tour of pretty gardens. Starting with Europe (any excuse to practice my Spanish and wear a summer dress), then Japan, then the world! This strikes me as a brilliant excuse. I can write, and Will can design me a beautiful garden
Two: Actually make an effort to digitise the bits and pieces I keep finding around the library. Only problem is, don’t have a good enough name for this project.
LibraryCollection (surely, done?)
LibraryArchive (well, who doesn’t have one of those?)
RHULArchive (nope, that exists)
Thinking about it now, LibraryCollection may be my best bet. Will be working on library puns from now on. Any help greatly appreciated
For now, though, this will satisfy postaweek2011, although it barely counts if we’re all honest.
It strikes me today (well, yesterday) that I am one of a minority who actually like Valentine’s Day. And this saddens me. As far as I am concerned Valentine’s Day is an excuse to do something silly (whether it’s stalking your schoolgirl crush, badly-disguising your handwriting in an anonymous card or sending 100 red roses and a book of 71th-Century verse to the girl in the office) – and this is not merely limited to the coupled and/or unromantic. We’ve all done it, haven’t we?
Don’t try to tell me it’s because I have a boyfriend, either! I don’t think it should matter whether you actually have someone to share Valentine’s Day with romantically – or why it should matter more than any other day. (In fact, surely Valentine’s Day is an even better excuse to meet someone new…?) Sure, when I was 11 and all the other girls in my class got huge helium balloons and teddy bears from the popular boys it kind of sucked, but even then I was mostly happy for them, realising that there were more important things in life and the sooner I got over it the less bitter I’d be in future. And, I’m pleased to say, I’ve grown out of that jealous feeling. Whether I’m single or not, 14th Feb is just another day on which you can choose to do something romantic - how other people choose to spend it is no concern of mine. I mean, really, have some perspective people. It’s only one day of the year. What’s the difference?
Perhaps I’m wrong to see this as just a good excuse to go away together or send a present. Perhaps I should be disappointed in myself for enjoying telling someone that I love them on Valentine’s Day. But I can’t. What I think is more wrong is the suggestion that I wouldn’t do these things on any other day of the year. Why the hell not?! I would, and I do. The fact that I also choose to do them today of all things is irrelevant. What annoys me is the assumption that because I like Valentine’s Day I’m some sort of demanding harpy who will bawl her eyes out if she doesn’t receive red roses, chocolates, satin-covered cushions and surprise expensive mini-breaks. Yeah, those things would be good (well, not the cushion. And if a massive card or heart-wielding teddy bear comes near me I may well be sick), but they’re good whenever. And the fact that I didn’t get any of them today doesn’t make me more bitter or depressed about Valentine’s day.
In fact, if you want to get very technical, I wasn’t expecting anything this morning. And it didn’t break my heart. I didn’t even remember until about half past nine. And yes, sure, technically it’s a Valentine’s trip we’re taking this coming weekend, but as it’s not on the actual day does that make you hate me more or less?
This morning, I was woken up (no word of a lie) by lines of this poem.
MY delight and thy delight
Walking, like two angels white,
In the gardens of the night:
My desire and thy desire
Twining to a tongue of fire,
Leaping live, and laughing higher:
Thro’ the everlasting strife
In the mystery of life.
Love, from whom the world begun,
Hath the secret of the sun.
Love can tell, and love alone,
Whence the million stars were strewn,
Why each atom knows its own,
How, in spite of woe and death,
Gay is life, and sweet is breath:
This he taught us, this we knew,
Happy in his science true,
Hand in hand as we stood
‘Neath the shadows of the wood,
Heart to heart as we lay
In the dawning of the day.
- Robert Seymour Bridges
Probably some other post to come. For now, I’ll risk saying Happy Valentine’s Day, by which I mean – have a good one!
One of the potential problems with a blog such as this is that the more I publicize it (although I don’t think that’s going too well), the more people will form an opinion on me as a writer and, more worryingly, as a person. And the fact that when I typed that sentence out the first time it read ‘the more criticism I will face’ shows you how I feel about this. I am not the best person at handling criticism – but I have come a long way! From the girl who, when someone said they weren’t sure about a line in one of her poems, deleted everyone poem on a previous writer’s blog attempt; I learned how to share my poetry and fiction with groups in a class – precisely for criticism! – and read out my poetry at a poetry event in front of total strangers.
Second most important thing I learned on my degree: to accept, welcome and positively encourage criticism and opinion.
(Without it, in fact, I now believe that you won’t become a writer. Sharing writing equates to asking opinions, and if you can’t handle an opinion that matches yours, then you can’t put your things out into the open – and then you’re not a writer.)
Opinions allow you to see what you’re doing right, where you’re going wrong, and how you’re coming across to others. Also, another important lesson from my degree was that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but you don’t have to satisfy everyone. Actually, I learnt that before uni. The first quotation in my Big Black Book of Inspirational Writerly Quotatations (notably sparse as I am bloody lazy) is:
Seek not the favour of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of the few; and number not the voices, but weigh them. – Immanuel Kant
The reason that this appealed to my teenage self so much, was that it went against everything I previously believed about writing, and yet made so much more sense. It doesn’t matter how many people say something, it’s what they say that matters. It’s the depth of the opinion, and the engagement with your writing, that you really consider useful, not 500 ticks at the side of the page. It’s not about pleasing everyone and accepting dull, unexciting praise for dull, unexciting writing, it’s about creating what you want to create, listening to the reaction, and taking interest in what is then said.
In fact, flicking through the Big Black Book now, all of the quotations are about individuality in writing, and the fact that you have to accept that before you can call yourself a writer.
Which brings me onto the third most important thing I learned on my degree: detach yourself from your writing.
My first mistake, as a sensitive teenager deleting her blog posts, was believing that my poems were me. They are not me. Yes, they incorporate some of my deepest thoughts and emotions (at times – I am eager to add that ‘I’ isn’t always me, and sometimes ‘she’ is (although I won’t tell you when )), yes they’re inspired by things that I see, that I do and experience, but they are objects all of their own. Of course, people may well form judgements about me based on my poetry, but I know what’s true and what isn’t, and what actually matters is what they have taken from it (even if that it a criticism about me – nothing says I have to pay attention or censor myself for the sake of fear).
In his essay Tradition and the Individual Talent (which as an undergrad I thoroughly hated), T. S. Eliot writes about the influence of tradition on the poet, and the poet’s mark on his work. He writes “Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry” and that’s basically what I’ve learned. If your critics criticise you, then they’ve missed the point of writing, which is to create an object. If they criticise your work, you and your work can be improved if you take it the right way.
There was always this quotation in Eliot’s essay that I could never work out if I agreed with.
“What happens [when the artist writes] is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
There remains to define this process of depersonalization and its relation to the sense of tradition. It is in this depersonalization that art may be said to approach the condition of science. I shall, therefore, invite you to consider, as a suggestive analogy, the action which takes place when a bit of finely filiated platinum is introduced into a chamber containing oxygen and sulphur dioxide.
When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid. This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum, and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected; has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material.”
(The underlinings are my own, and for emphasis.) I always had a hard time believing that the artist left no impression on his art at all. But now, I agree. The poet’s role is to absorb an atmosphere, a moment, and preserve it in poetry. This poetry is not representative of the poet himself, or even his experience, but by becoming a poem object is an entity of its own, for analysis and consideration. Although I still think it is possible to tell who has written a poem (from reading an entire body of work, say), the poem is nonetheless an object existing independently of its writer. And similarly, the good writer will not impress his own opinion on a poem, at least not in a way that is obvious or the detriment of the poem. This sounds contradictory even as I write it, but I know that as an aspiring writer I’ve come to detach myself from my poetry and as such accept my poems as single objects which carry my views and are inseparable from them, but without being the sole vessel for them. I am the sole vessel for my feelings, my poems are like the moments they try to capture, and as such don’t have to be consistent.
It’s for this reason that John Donne can write poems about wanting to conquer a woman, about women being completely false, and then about wanting to be ravished by God – the poems stand alone as snippets of a consciousness which through the writing has been eradicated. They stand for that one moment, not a manifesto of the entire belief system of the poet.
I think I’m rambling now. I should come back to this later. But the main point is to say that regardless of my audience and their opinions, my writing should remain the same (or at least as consistent as it can be according to my constantly changing views). I don’t have to let opinions colour my writing, and certainly not myself, and although it’s taken me a good three years to come to this conclusion and (hopefully) therefore become a better writer, it’s better late than never!
Best ending I have ever read. Partly because the rest of the novel was so bloody annoying and predictable, but still: wow. I did not see that coming. And while I have been criticised in the past for enjoying books where nothing much happens (true), I still couldn’t help liking this. With one sentence Murakami has undermined an entire novel. (I’d like to say ‘much like Chekov’, but while I believe this is true from my limited readings and discussions in second-year Fiction… I may be wrong.) I honestly sat up and said ‘what?!’ out loud before flicking backwards and forwards to see if I’d missed something. So well done again, Murakami, you got me. I can’t pretend that I enjoyed the rest of the novel, or the liked a single one of the characters, but the ending really got me.
Other things I have been doing/need to complete:
Now, however, work calls.