Train Wreck

Travel Journal Entry 4

I’m on the train to Dharamasala now, it’s just north of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ in India so i think it will be quieter than anywhere we’ve been before.

I can’t wait to start teaching in the school; still can’t believe we were delayed for seven hours though! I suppose I’m sort of glad; we played games with Jeremy on the platform and a huge crowd formed around us. I don’t think many had seen a white person before, they were fascinated by us.

Travel Journey Entry 5

I couldn’t sleep in the bunk beds so I went to the toilet; I met a pair of men by the door with the conductor, they had opened the train door to let some fresh air in.

They seemed friendly enough, we talked for about an hour. Apparently the two men were brothers, they were both metal workers on their way to see family; they told me they worked in the city for months at a time. One of them had a new daughter he was going to meet for the first time when he got home!

I’m sat at the door now, the train is moving slow enough to hang my legs out the carriage. It’s hard to see but I think there are small villages all along the tracks, they don’t have electricity so I can’t see any lights. Everything is so peaceful he-

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Reading for University

As I have decided to attempt starting my book today, this post will be fairly short. I figured that because this segment is titled ‘literature’, I would share the literature I will be reading over the next few weeks, this picture on the right shows some of them (click to see in more detail), but I will also be reading some e-texts and extracts from larger novels.

The entire list consists of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations; Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey; Hari Kunzru’s Transmission; Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Caryl Phillips’ Cambridge; Ann Radcliife’s The Mysteries of Udolpho; Virginia Woolf’s The Mark On The Wall and Monday Or Tuesday; and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. That’s a fairly long list for someone with an exam on the 8th of May, but I’m sure I’ll manage.

A lot of these books will be reviewed in the Monday’s segment,  and seeing as how I’m already half way through Cambridge, I’ll probably start with that. If anyone has read these books, or even just one, feel free to comment and let me know what they’re like or suggest further reading; I like to know what I’m getting myself in for. Also I’m going to include my first poll in this post, vote for your favourite, or if you don’t have a favourite then vote for the ones you like (or think you’ll like, if you haven’t read any like me). May the best book win…

The Knife

The pavement passed beneath me,

The cracks avoid my feet,

Two people meet along the path,

And blistering cold, all three.

 .

One pulled The Knife upward, shout!

I stopped so deathly still,

The cracks began to shine The Red,

His shivering stopped, no doubt.

.

The knife, deadly, frightened all,

A Devil’s silver tongue,

Short, and sharp, and glist’ning bright,

A crumbling man, once tall.

Change of Schedule

Just a quick note to say that I want to make my blog more focused on creative writing, so I have combined the literature and philosophy segments (as any philosophy I comment upon will probably have deep roots within literature). I have also taken out the Sunday polls in favour of an extra writing day; I don’t think many people would have voted so it wouldn’t have been worth it, however if you want to send me writing prompts for later weeks comment on this, or any other post and I will check them out. If I decide to use your prompts I will of course mention your name/blog in my post and give you some credit.  If you’re interested, the new schedule is in my ‘About’ page, I will be posting some poetry in about two minutes so keep an eye out for it.

What is Literature?

As a student of Literature and Creative Writing, it is hard for me to explicitly define literature; the literature student in me wants to calmly assert that any “writing of value, that is, writing that expresses a poignant world view, opinion, or set of morals can be defined as literature”, but the writer in me screams, “NO! It is any writing that expresses the emotion of the writer”. As a whole, I think I lie firmly between the two, you only have to look at my review of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga to see that I don’t think all writing is worthy of the title, literature. However, I do like to think I am a lot more accepting of modern expression that the literary ‘elite’. This poem by Tim Minchin is probably my favourite poem ever written, yet it is denounced by one of my tutors at University who believes it can’t be classed as literature because it contains a few swear words which to be honest I find ridiculous, Shakespeare uses swear words all the time and she loves him. Anyway, enjoy:

Tim Minchin

The dictionary (google – because I don’t have a physical dictionary to hand) defines literature as “Written works, esp. those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit“. At first glance this definition seems to be fairly appropriate, stating that all writing is literature, but good writing is better literature; it is in its own class. As always, I neither agree or disagree with this definition, it just seems inadequate, however it does ‘so the job’ to some extent.

Hellen Keller once said that “Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” Here she is suggesting that literature is what we, as readers, love to read; I personally think that a huge variety of books/texts can be seen as literature, however my Mum dislikes anything that doesn’t involve some aspect of mystery or crime, while my Dad enjoys reading car manuals, and once asked me how I could read Iain Banks’ ‘The Wasp Factory’, because it didn’t have any pictures in it. I think everyone has their own definition of literature and we should accept that for what it is. I know I poke fun at writers like Meyer but that’s just my opinion, I don’t expect everyone to take that on board, and sure I’ll laugh if someone tells me she’s their favourite author, but I won’t think any less of them for it.

On that note, I’m going to stop here; I could write for pages and pages but I think most people would consider that a bit excessive. Feel free to comment and tell me what your definition of literature is, I would be happy to hear it, although I won’t go as far as to explicitly ask you to do it, as that would make me seem desperate and lonely…and that’s…not…(trails off before clicking the ‘publish’ button).

The Path

I wandered into the field just up the road from my village to consummate my new found loneliness. I had never been there alone before so it seemed a decent place to start.

Through the long grass I glimpsed movement; a burgundy jumper flashed at me from within the miniature jungle. I would say it called to me, but that would make me sound cheesy; I was just lonely and wanted someone to talk to.

As I approached I saw her face; she was beautiful. Her hair floated gently on the breeze as she laughed. At the time I wondered what she was laughing at but as I walked on I saw her dog. She had been laughing because it had fallen in the pond. Absolutely soaking, it had shaken its fur dry onto her boyfriend.

What a shock! I headed back to the path, alone.

Review 1: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga Part 1

Stephenie Meyer. We all know who she is, and we all know exactly what she did (if you’ve been under a rock for the past few years, to put it bluntly, she took a great big dump on the English language). The Twilight series is absolutely terrible, I tried to read it, but I failed; that’s very rare for me, I have only ever had to stop reading a novel a few times out of hundreds. Her crazy Mormon dream seems to about resisting sexual urges and, anti-feminism, two of the most ridiculous notions ever conceived of!

Sexual Urges are one of the many things that make us human, without them there would be slim chance of the human race surviving for very long.

Woman: I want a baby, what do you think Nick?

Man: Yes I think that’s a spiffing idea, shall we go upstairs?

Woman: What, now? Are you crazy? Countdown is on!

Man: Ah, my mistake, sorry dear. I wonder if I’ll guess any nine letters this time…

It just doesn’t work! This is not to say that that Stephenie Meyer is trying to destroy the human race through the impression of anti-sex views onto young girls, wielding a scythe made from her Mormon beliefs and using it to attack popular culture; just that she’s a bit naive when it comes to real world, modern problems.

As for the anti-feminism, she may as well have plastered a huge sign across the biggest building she could find in every city across the globe with the words ‘Women are completely helpless at leading their own lives, but don’t worry ladies, ignore your new-found equality with men and subject yourself to an abusive, hassle-free life with a man who can protect/give money to you!’. Whether this unprovoked attack on women-kind is intentional or not, we’ll never know. However, what we can know is that at least subconsciously, Meyer is anti-feminist.

Wikipedia (not the most reliable source I know) had this to say on the matter: “Meyer has been criticized by feminists who consider Meyer an anti-feminist writer, saying that the series romanticizes a physically abusive relationship, pointing to red flags that include Bella’s entire life revolving around Edward; never being in control of her own life; being absolutely dependent on Edward’s ability to protect her life, her virginity, and her humanity; and the physical injuries Bella suffers from finally consummating her relationship with Edward. Meyer has dismissed such criticisms, arguing both that the books center around Bella’s choice, and that her damsel in distress persona is due only to her humanity”

I feel I could rant on this for a lot longer than would be reasonable for a single blog post, so expect part 2 of this Trash segment next Monday. For now however I’ll give you a quote from the great Stephen King, who summed up Meyer better that I ever could:

“Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Thank you Stephen.