Sunday, March 30, 2008

Getting Started

So, I don't really think that this blog is going to have much of a theme or a purpose to be honest. I think it is just going to be a reflection of a lot of my thoughts and ideas concerning identity, sexuality, literature, culture as it appears within my life, reading, and general viewing space.

For those of you who know me, this will also just be a general doorway or window view into my life if you happen to be far away and we don't get to see each other everyday or even if you happen to be in the same city and want to hear more about what I have to say. Not that I generally think what I have to say is all that important, but I do think it could quite possibly be significant. One day.

Introducing the name and the idea behind the blog--

A. S. Byatt, general genius and amazing contemporary writer from Britain, has this awesome quartet of novels that I think generally defines some of my ideals and aspirations. I want to be someone who went to Oxford, acted in a famous play, taught college classes on the Modern Post-War British Novel, loved numerous interesting men, and perpetuated intellectual television culture. What else to say, a fantasy. Anyways, generally amazing and insightful into so many interesting facets of contemporary life, Byatt espouses this particularly interesting theory of life as lamination. Understanding that humans are all fragmented creatures--divided between our desires and what we actually are, our sexual selves and our intellectual tendencies--Frederica Potter, one of the Quartet's central characters theorizes this idea of lamination, of living life laminated (see Appendix I).

So, this blog will hopefully be a realization of Byatt/Frederica's theory.

However, I would also just give a general warning to those interested in reading this blog that I am generally suspect of journaling and blogging. I hope to write in this space continually though to keep those of you out there interested entertained and fulfilled by reading my rants and thoughts. And maybe every once in a while we will have guest writers and creative entries. Who knows?

Appendix I: Frederica Potter’s qua A. S. Byatt’s Theory of Lamination

Byatt, A. S. The Virgin in the Garden. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Frederica is thinking about Freud, Racine, and Alexander after a sexual encounter with a stranger: “But, if you kept them separate. If you kept them separate, in many ways you saw them more truly. […] One could let all of these facts and things lie alongside each other like laminations, not like growing cells. This laminated knowledge produced a powerful sense of freedom, truthfulness and even selflessness, since the earlier organic and sexual linking by analogy was undoubtedly selfish. It was she […] who had linked these creatures to each other out of her own necessity. The whole problem of selfishness and selflessness was odd, since seeing things either separate or linked felt like an exercise of power, which she had been most ambiguously, by her father, taught to eschew theoretically and pursue in practice. She sensed that the idea of lamination could provide both a model of conduct and an aesthetic that might suit herself and prove fruitful. It would, she decided, as in the event it did, take years to work out the implications” (209-210, italics mine).

Byatt, A. S. Babel Tower. New York: Vintage, 1996.

“And she, Frederica, had a vision of being able to be all the things she was: languages, sex, friendship, thought, just as long as these were kept scrupulously separate, laminated, like geological strata, not seeping and flowing into each other like organic cells boiling to join and divide and join in a seething Oneness. Things were best cool, and clear, and fragmented, if fragmented was what they were. ‘Only connect,’ the ‘new paradisal unit’ of ‘Oneness,’ these were myths of desire, the desire and pursuit of the Whole. And if one accepts fragments, layers, tesserae of mosaic, particles. There is an art form in that, too. Things juxtaposed but divided, not yearning for fusion” (315).

“Frederica is an intellectual, driven by curiosity, by a pleasure in coherence, by making connections. Frederica is an intellectual at large in a world where most intellectuals are proclaiming the death of coherence, the illusory nature of orders, which are perceived to be man-made, provisional and unstable. Frederica is a woman whose life appears to be flying apart into unrelated fragments […]” (380, italics mine).

Byatt, A. S. A Whistling Woman. New York: Vintage, 2002.

“Frederica had an image of her several selves, the child, the woman, the mother, the lover, the solitary, tangled like coiling snakes in a clay pot, turmoiling” (17).

“She had had the word, Laminations, before the object. It referred to her attempts to live her life in separated strata, which did not run into each other. Sex, literature, the kitchen, teaching, the newspaper, objets trouvĂ©s. She did not put Leo into Laminations, not because he was not part of her fragmentary life, but because he was not fragmented” (41).

Alice, he said, is the Victorian child putting together the wild world of grown-up rules and hidden intentions and violent feelings and incomprehensible conventions. She is an English empiricist, said Frederica. She doesn’t get baffled or deceived or disconcerted. She is sure she exists, however, she is stretched or shrunk or told she is a Serpent” (141).

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