Monday, 26 October 2009

Beyond Good and Evil

Friedrich Nietzsche.

Had a moustache; died, raving, of syphilis. And that's just off the top of my head, no doubt there was more to him than that.

I must have read this at some point but have little recollection - let us open some pages at random...

There is a great ladder of religious cruelty with many rungs...

What, at bottom, is the whole of modern philosophy doing? Since Descarte - and indeed rather in spite of him than on the basis of his precedent - all philosophers have been making an attentat on the ancient soul concept under the cloak of a critique of the subject-and- predicate concept - that is to say, an attentat on the fundamental presupposition of Christian doctrine...

Just think, somebody had to translate that from German too. Perhaps you could read it and summarise for me, dear reader. I think the days when I could concentrate on proper writing & in -depth thinking are long gone.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Outsiders

When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home...

Hmm, time to put away childish things. Though I did love the Outsiders and all the rest of SE Hinton's books about tough-but-sensitive manboys from the wrong side of the tracks. Pure teen fantasy - she swiftly despatches the boring grownups by making her heroes orphans, and cunningly writes from the boys' point of view to attract the boy readers whilst making them all cute to attract the girl readers. (Though she's pretty tough on her female characters, who are all faithless heartless femme fatales,there's more than a hint of homoeroticism in the whole setup. Mind you, teenage girls love a bit of homoeroticism - see also My Beautiful Laundrette, Interview with A Vampire, etc etc.)

It's easy to tease, but it's so well meant, and some of it still rings true.

I could see boys going down under street lights because they were mean and tough and hated the world, and it was too late to tell them there was still good in it, and they wouldn't believe you if you did. It was too vast a problem, to be just a personal thing. There should be some help, someone should tell them before it was too late. Someone should tell their side of the story...

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Lord of the Flies

William Golding.

We're really mining the classics here. One look at that pig's head on the cover and I'm straight back in that secondary school classroom, rolling eyes at Claire about what a hopeless old lech is our English teacher, Mr Y, and sneakily carving VS's initials into the desk with my protractor.

Why do they make you read Lord of the Flies at school? Not that it's not a very good book, but is it the teacher's revenge on kids, seeing that its message is that Humans Are Essentially Bad and Evil, especially the supposedly innocent youngsters who'd roast you and eat you, given the right conditions? (I saw William Golding give a talk once at college, he said he'd written it because he'd gotten so fed up with these Swallows and Amazons type books about happy children having a lovely time on holiday. Kids, he said, are just as rotten and horrible as the rest of us.)

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Bell Jar

"Then he just stood there in front of me and I kept on staring at him. The only thing I could think of was turkey neck and turkey gizzards and I felt very depressed."

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

So, Sylvia Plath, beloved of moody teenage girls since all time. The short autobiography: compulsive A grade all American (if slightly fucked up) girl goes to Cambridge, falls in love with Ted Hughes, has babies, knocks out some genius poems, sticks her head in the gas oven and is turned into feminist martyr forevermore.

I took the Bell Jar very very seriously as a girl, and it is quite a powerful story of someone going off their rocker, written with a poet's feel for language. But reading it as a grownup, it's the black humour I enjoy, and didn't see at all at the time.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


If you found this one you get a bargain, as it has my (highly pretentious) teenage dissertation notes in the margin. And pictures of Edie Sedgwick. We thought we were worthy of the Factory, back in the day, and that Lou Reed would have written songs inspired by us...

Andy Warhol's World and His Films by Stephen Koch