Representing Female Narratives with Things That Go Bump In the Night

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Art via Pinterest

For women to tell their stories, it has often been a hard and critical journey. Whether through poetry, the short story form or screenplays, women have always had to pussyfoot around core issues of hegemony and patriarchal suffocation. I’ve been exploring African female writers recently, and their contribution to empowering women’s voices. Each woman is an ocean of tales. She will let you sit on her island and bring forth the waves with torrential rains or gentle drizzle. Do not attempt to impose your prejudice or your ignorance on her. She will smile sweetly for a while, until she loses her patience with your inability to truly see life or those around you.

When I came across the trailer for The Mummy 2017 – yes I’m one of those weirdos that spends an awful lot of time enjoying movie trailers…

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…I was delighted at the portrayal of a strong, unapologetic female antagonist. I’m not a fan of evil in the real world (depending on what time of month you catch me) but I am a big fan of women who look their injustices in the eyes and unleash unimaginable terror when it’s called for. Perhaps I’m just a big fan of Karma. I’m tired of the various forms of masculinity I come across that are incapable of seeing the ways in which they reenact gendered stereotypes. The ones you really have to watch out for are the ones that insist that they love women and that they respect them. Those are the ones that love an idea of a submissive woman, domesticated and sweet that never question their thoughts or actions. They’re the ones that outwardly oppose silly displays of male testosterone but make up for it by mentally playing with females, and ultimately destroying each one that enters their lives. They’re also the ones that have a savior complex and can only feel relevance if they’re ‘saving’ women or ‘mentoring’ them. And the more the merrier. Sad. Often unaware of their treatment of females as mere ‘things’. But true. And ever pervasive. So when I see that a horror movie is allowing an oppressed female the chance to get her revenge on types like these that fill the pockets of society- I’m going to silently chuckle.Or loudly cackle. Karma karma karma. Movie narratives are starting to explore the female psyche in deeply provocative and terrifying ways- and I’m ok with that. Of course these are exaggerated extensions of the darker aspects of most human beings, but sometimes stories need to be told from these places of pain and fright. The Gothic in narratives can be a mobilizing force. It can offer a way for the light to intrude and heal those aspects of oneself or society that can often go unnoticed.

Whilst the movie is only set for release in June (I think) the trailer sparks interesting conversations on female roles, the dangers of ambition and greed… and that topic no one quite likes to go near – revenge.

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Revenge is frowned upon. If there are any young readers reading my blog, never turn to the dark side. Unless you like wearing full black and were pushed.

Truth be told, I maaaaaay (that’s a yes) be rooting for the Princess when I finally get to watch the movie. Patriarchy could do with a good dose of the heebie-jeebies sometimes. Enjoy the trailer below! I’m off for the Easter vacation to explore the ocean, exquisite coffee and search for some magic…maybe in a stranger’s eyes (who won’t awaken centuries of suppression). Or maybe I’ll just let the creepy-crawly shadows reveal my inner voice…bump…bump…bump. Your thoughts and comments are as welcome as ever. Conversation and differing opinions are how we learn in life 😉 Ciao ciao!

Via KinoCheck International on YouTube

The Poetry of Yeats, Humanity and Sci-Fi Dystopias

The Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, is no stranger to flavors of the apocalyptic kind ( see “The Second Coming” ). He seems to have built himself a time machine that persists through the ages…one that certainly pops up at random intervals in my life to remind me of humanity, the void and other persistent existential (and highly important) musings. Today I thought I’d share his short poem “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” which features in a rather intense scene in one of my favorite Christian Bale movies. Yes, I’m talking about Equilibrium (because despite what people have to say about it, it really is BADASS!). Martial arts, long dark coats and rebellion…do I even need to justify myself?

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Image via Pinterest
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,   
Enwrought with golden and silver light,   
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths   
Of night and light and the half light,   
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;   
I have spread my dreams under your feet;   
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
                                             W.B.Yeats

 

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Art is truly a thing of beauty. It comes in colors, it comes in words. It comes in forms, sounds and feelings. And Yeats’s poem is a gentle wash of a watercolor brush against fine paper. I can fall into the thoughts. It moves me. It reminds me. It changes me. That is what art can do to me. It’s not something that exists in a vacuum, with its ideas and emotions looking at me from the other side of the looking glass: it extends its hand and grabs me. And does not leave me unaltered.

Every ‘creative’ has the potential to feel dystopia like a vast wasteland within themselves, when inspiration is scarce or the well of passion has been allowed to run dry. I can’t say I suffer from these moments in my own personal ‘wasteland’ because I tend to feel inspiration on both sides of the border. I am however, constantly feeling the barren abyss when it comes to questions of humanity. I live in a country that doesn’t make any sense to me right now. I used to (although not in agreement with either) be able to understand crime and murder based on social inequality. I could hypothetically reason that people were forced by the deep ruptures in our system to commit atrocities out of desperation or greed. But what I can’t intellectually reason- and what I never will- is pleasure in causing trauma to others. To breaking their souls. To sucking it out and leaving a gaping hole where a person used to be. WARNING: sensitive/uncomfortable content to be discussed. Yesterday, two stories out of thousands that occur in my city, scarred that area of my being that I like to refer to as my soul. The first was about a girl and her father out for a run and walking their dog. A group of males held them at gunpoint and  gang raped the daughter whilst forcing the father to watch. After they were sure sufficient psychological and physical damage had been done, they let them go. They let their bodies go…but what happened to those people’s minds, hearts and souls? We’ll never be able to comprehend. The next was an elderly woman, driving her car innocently out her driveway and the same thing. Only there wasn’t anyone she loved with her. Only guns. Only fear. Only light taken away… “only”.

Every single day when I return home, I take a minute to understand that I made it through the day, without someone holding a gun to my head and taking away what makes me love, dream and hope. I say thank you- to whatever unseen forces may exist out there- that my humanity is still intact. But I wonder…about the things that make people emotionless. That make them want to harm others. Is it an inherent cruelty? Or is society creating these heartless mobs? Shaping and duplicating…in preparation for the apocalypse to come. How can intellectuals and creatives impact on these hardened monsters that are multiplying exponentially? How do we fuse ideas, words and art into a special inoculation that can remind people…yes, you do have a heart somewhere deep inside the mess.

Maybe it comes down to holding on tightly to those things that keep you feeling something. Maybe I’m asking futile questions. But maybe there is hope amidst the dystopia…if we can just ‘touch’ that point within other humans that ripples our benevolence

 

‘Welcome to Dystopia’ image via wizzley.com

There is Magic in My Bones

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Art via Pinterest

Do you feel that?

That’s ancient power running through my veins.

Do you hear that?

That’s poetry in motion

in time with the universe.

Do you see that?

Those are eyes where eyes should be

a mouth where a mouth has always been,

and a heart that will beat

like a drum against the moonlight.

There are spirits calling your name.

One by one

they have plans for you.

Pity.

I wrap the earth around my skin

there is magic in my bones.

I’ll

trust

my own path.

 

Open Your Eyes

The theme for today is ‘sight’. What does it mean to ‘see’? Is it to look? To observe? To notice? To understand?

What do you see when you look around you? The glimmer of a twist of fate? The emptiness of existence? The choice of perception is in your eyes. But there are eyes deep within yourself that need to be opened. So…open them.

“My arm was around her and she was leaning back against me, and we were quite calm. She was looking into my eyes with that way she had of looking that made you wonder whether she really saw out of her own eyes. They would look on and on after every one else’s eyes in the world would have stopped looking. She looked as though there were nothing on earth she would not look at like that, and really she was afraid of so many things…”  Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

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“Good morning, it’s time for you to wake up.” Sofia, Vanilla Sky (alternate ending)

 

All images via Rebloggy.

Neil Gaiman : A Love Affair of the Imagination

“Name the different kinds of people,’ said Miss Lupescu. ‘Now.’

Bod thought for a moment. ‘The living,’ he said. ‘Er. The dead.’ He stopped. Then, ‘… Cats?’ he offered, uncertainly.”
― The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

It’s no big secret that I’m thoroughly mesmerized by all things Gaiman. I think I’ve made it pretty clear in many of my blog posts. I’m fascinated. I’m intrigued. I definitely have a major fan-girl crush going on there too…but let’s NOT be creepy for once. 😉

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The other day, in one of my tutorial classes that I teach, a student genuinely showed concern as to why someone as “fun” and “smart” (their quotes) as moi is single and seemingly fine with that. But how do I explain to people that my imagination craves something more? That my creative side won’t allow me to settle for the first strapping, young gentleman that dares to venture through the thicket of thorns and awaken the sleeping princess. Honestly, I’d probably wake only to send a few curses his way about disturbing the excitement and enchantment of  my adventures in Dreamland. You see how human interaction (with me), dating or non-dating is a complete FAIL?

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Cue Neil Gaiman. A most bizarre hero (and reason for my slackening attention span in most males) that pawed his way into my head and heart a couple years ago. I’ve honestly never been the same since. Reading Gaiman is like finding portals appearing in my reality. Portals to my inner Wonderland. If he wasn’t already married, I think I’d be plotting adult-napping so that I could keep him in my personal library and have stories fed to me everyday.  Of course I’d keep him well supplied with tea (I’m not culturally inappropriate after all) and have an endless supply of mythical stories of my own to keep him from getting bored. These are things that I honestly contemplate in my day. So you see how impossible it would be to answer my students’ questions without coming across as a recent escapee from a mental ward. There is no substitute once your creative buttons have been pressed.

Oh, did I mention Neil Gaiman loves cats? You had me at meow.

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Via The Cultural Cat Blog

I thought I’d write a post, not to make my craziness known, but to expand on the deep love that Gaiman fans experience. There seems to be a mad rush to read and re-read American Gods before the television series starts painting out visuals to the original words. People tend to refer to Neil Gaiman as the ‘rock star’ of current writers, others call his following ‘cult-like’. Some are in agreement about his unmistakable contribution to literature, others are perplexed by the worth of his writing. To the second group, I can only say it’s a case of unraveling your unconscious. Gaiman gives readers one of those lovers’ boat rides that you find at fun fairs or theme parks. As you hold your lover’s hand and your boat moves across the gentle waters, entering the cave, you’re suddenly aware of something more than the fluttering of your innocent heart. There’s something lurking…at the corners of the boat…in the water…inside you. And that is what Gaiman does to people that respond to his words. He lifts veils to the Other Side. He punctures any sense of psychological resistance one may have towards all those creepy, crawly things sitting hunched over his stories. Sitting hunched deep inside you.

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Via Neil Gaiman tumblr

My Master’s thesis attempts to psychoanalytically analyse Gaiman’s Children’s Gothic Literature (Coraline, The Graveyard Book). So I get to spend my days swooning over Gaiman books at coffee-shops while gaining deep psychological insight into the human inclination to positively respond to his writing. I’m finding a pattern between Gaiman’s texts and creative impulses…but that’s another blog post for another day.

You can leave the lovers’ cave in one piece, slightly annoyed at the perception of being invaded…or, you can leave fragmented and glued together with bits of magic, in the knowledge that glitter will be falling off you every step hereafter. He imprints on his beloved readers. He offers them everything they’ve ever silently wished for but could never find in the physical plane. He’s a psychical mastermind. A dream-catcher of words that leaves the reading encounter littered with fairy dust and monster droppings.

I dare you to tread a path into his world and not find something that jars you a little. Something familiar. Something unfamiliar. Something you’ve always quite never unknown. Or have you? 😉

Weekend Book Recommendation: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

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For writing advice from the man himself, visit his website www.neilgaiman.com.  When I finally do pursue my PhD in the Land of Dreams (his current abode), you can rest assured there’ll be plenty of Gaiman posts in my search to get my favorite copy of Coraline signed. That and plenty of open-mouthed gawking.

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