Thursday, 18 March 2010

Pulling a Novel out of a Hat

Reading has always been a peculiarly magical experience- being transported into a different world full of colour that we travel to by looking upon a page of black and white. For me Stephen King put it perfectly when he said that ‘books are a uniquely portable magic’. It’s the magic in these paper blessings that I’ve been considering recently after re-reading Italo Calvino’s view on the subject that ‘in a narrative any object is always magic’. When I looked up ‘magic’ in the dictionary the first definition I came across was ‘the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.’ So I suppose seeing as every object in fictional writing is just that, fictional, technically they are deceptive devices created to entertain us with the illusions they create, allowing us to see what is not truly there.
Other terms that came about with further definitions were ‘enchanting’, ‘influential’ and ‘charming’ which to me are adjectives relevant to narrative, and the objects within that narrative, because without such enchantment or charm we would cease to read and be influenced by the messages we collect from various literature. Every narrative is influenced by the thought of its author even in the weakest of senses, and according to Lord Byron this original thought in itself is where the magic begins; ‘The power of thought, the magic of the mind’.
This music video always amuses me, but that aside, the lyrics are quite a beautifully clever way of describing a relationship as a narrative in a book. For me this is an example of how the illusive magic of narrative has woven its way into our lives.

Sex and Death know no bounds

I’ve been questioning Italo Calvino’s statement that ‘in the boundless universe of literature there are always new avenues to be explored’. I once was told that all literature boils down to sex and death, and this was the case all the more in Victorian literature, as these two themes were somewhat obsessions. Therefore if all literature no matter what genre encapsulates both sex and death, is the literature universe boundless?
I suppose in order to answer this question the ways in which these ‘avenues’ are ‘explored’ need to be looked at more closely. When I think about books I’ve enjoyed, even polar opposite genres, for example Romance and Crime I can’t help but draw out the same two themes. P.S I Love You, Cecelia Ahern’s novel is Romantic fiction but the book is centered around the death of the main character’s husband, and the Dr Kay Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell are weighted with sexual tension between Marino and Kay Scarpetta, the two lead characters, as well as being full of grotesque deaths. However if I wasn’t looking closely at these two author’s works with my theory in mind, I would have never noticed, and definitely wouldn’t have found the themes at all predictable. Therefore I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘avenues’ aren’t different in literature, but the ways they’re explored and written about are, keeping that universe indeed, boundless.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

"The beat and the chorus at the same time" unbreachable limit or a challenge?

For Milan Kundera ‘the novel cannot breach the limits of its own possibilities’. This quote has got me thinking about boundaries in literature and all art forms for that matter. The idea of ‘possibility’ covers such a grand span as possibilities are endless and come in many forms. So what is meant by the possibilities of a novel? I did some research on literature that has pushed its limits and the limits of its readers. What continued to appeal to me was controversial literature, works that have been banned for pushing boundaries and breaching limitations that nobody thought were possible. For example D.H Lawrence’s novel ‘Lady Chatterley’s lover’ was banned for pushing the sexual boundaries of its time. Surely this proves that novels can indeed breach their limits and create new possiblities.
In class we looked at the possibilities that could arise upon meeting a historic figure, my group chose Elizabeth I. We discussed who we could introduce her to, to test her personal limitations and ideals. We chose Katie Price, a woman who today is seen as having a scandalous power over the nation, as Elizabeth once did. I wrote a poem about Elizabeth and the limits she puts upon herself:


My virtue is my thrown
The Lord, your God
My husband
Born in place of man
Vanity’s my outcome

Marry not for scandal
Alliances, gifts
What sum!
But as for suitors
I want none

Drudgery my task’s converted
My rein, My crown
Is my Heir
The life of a simple family owned woman
Is for one I do not care.

What is so exciting about limits, possibilities and boundaries in literature, music or even within ourselves is that what some construe as limits, others see as eventual defeatable challenges. This is how individual art is created. I’ve posted an example of art defying the assumed limited physical possibilities, this is the BeatBoxer Rahzel, clearly to him limits are rules made for breaking.