Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Woeful Wednesday

Despite the recent hot weather it is really rather chilly outside. This morning was very deceptive as it was threatening to be a glorious summer day, the kind of day you would expect in late May - but sadly it was not to be.

I am finding getting out of bed very hard to do and spent most of the morning reading in bed.  I have finished reading the selected articles from Freewoman, and I am now moving on to the complete articles from the Clarion. She wrote such a lot of stuff this woman it is mind boggling. I can barely manage this blog daily, three days on the trot is good going for me! my own diary and Blipping!

Though today's blip was significant in that if features my passion for books!

I watched an interesting programme last night about TATE Modern, which has had its 10th anniversary this year. Incredibly expansion programme is going on and I can't wait to pay a return visit to it next time I am in town!

Trying to get down to the nitty-gritty of the presentation now. The more I read the less I clearly know! ARGH!

Tate: British and international modern and contemporary art

Tate: British and international modern and contemporary art

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Drowning in Aphorisms.

Today I am at least attempting to do some work towards this paper for Cambridge.


Whenever I read West's work I feel as though I am plunged into an ocean, with each wave crested by something infinitely quotable. It is not a dissimilar feeling to that which I get when reading Oscar Wilde.
You feel you are swept away by their prose, which can be both soothing and pleasant whilst also scathing and sharply satirical.

Today reading some of her early journalism for The Freewoman (March 1912) I came across her review for a book by James Stephens called The Charwoman's Daughter.

She writes: 'This year I shall mark the date of the coming of spring from the day I read this book. And, indeed, it is like a wood being awakened by spring. As the buds leap out on the trees, so word by word unfolds its beauty: each lovely in itself and an essential note in the larger symphony of loveliness. It develops slowly with the sedate spendthrift elaboration of Nature herself, and every page brings the book to a ripe beauty that one can hardly bear to leave, just as one wants every April day to linger for ever. Nothing can express the delicate strength of his style: to read the quick, beating sentences is like holding a bird in one's hand.'

When she enjoyed literature, regardless of its worthiness, she said so. When she loathed it - she also said so; acerbically.

Reviewing anti-feminist writer harold Owen's essay "Woman Adrift", West humorously opened: "Mr Harold Owen is a natural slave, having no conception of liberty nor any use for it. So, as a Freewoman, I review his anti-feminist thesis, Woman Adrift, with chivalrous reluctance, feeling that a steam-engine ought not to crush a butterfly".

I am envious that she had such a capacity for phrasing. She certainly did slash through the swathes of hyperbole to turn the masculine discursive arsenal back on itself 9as I have phrased it in my own thesis!)

One thing I find frustrating is that you can still buy Stephen's books in relatively new editions - but can you do that for West? No, you can't! And yet she was a literary giant by comparison. However, there is one drawback; she was and always will be considered by many to be a second class artist simply because she was a woman! He even has 5 novels on Project Guttenberg despite writing far less work than West, who only has one novel listed The Judge (which in writing this Blog entry I have discovered has just been re-released! Yippee! )

I am struggling as usual to make progress. I had a message from a fellow Phudder* and it seems she is drowning in a sea of her own editing just now.

For a list of West's major novels and work look here. I am slowly but surely acquiring a library of her work!

*Phudder: my own moniker for a reluctant PhD student !

Monday, 24 May 2010

Monday... again

... and all weekend the sun has been shining - no blazing - down on us poor sun-deprived Scots and it will be so hard to get up in the morning and work! But I have to!
The conference is fast approaching and although I know I can write a good paper I just need to get on with it! The dry run at forum the other week went ok - though it does need a rewrite!

Ok so it has been a while - but I now BLIP and I am also a Mass Observation Contributor so my t'internet life is getting crowded!

The annual review went well, which considering I had been labouring under the impression that I failed the upgrade last year when in fact I had passed it, isn't surprising! The supervision was successful if a little intense. The writing is coming on! I am in a relatively good position!

One bug bear - I am still refused permission to teach. The reason given is that there is a question over my ability to mark! However I do think it is more a question of whether or not teaching will interrupt my flow and the dept get penalised for late submissions! I raised this as an issue at my review and got a satisfactory reply!

I seem to be a fortunate soul that when I do actually write I  produce decent stuff - yes it needs some editing and work but it is almost there. This can't be a bad thing!

I've dislocated myself for the summer as well. I spent a morning moving books (not quite the chain gang above but close!) I couldn't bear the tension in the office house; there were spies operating to see who was and wasn't using their desks! I felt like I had been cast as an extra in 1984! The director of postgraduate studies, a woman who has yet to even show her face at Forum, or even reply to my email regarding a PG journal, felt the locks on office doors should be removed to allow more flexibility of space! Given we house our books and personal belongings in there it was utterly inappropriate!  As a compromise two house committee members agreed to act as grasses, informants, desk nazis  monitors of the situation. Plus my office mate yacked! And yacked, and yacked! She is in love! I adore her but I wasn't getting any work done!  Also the petrol to commute was a sting in the financial tail, added to the guilt I felt when my homelife prevented me getting into the office, and the lack of productivity when i was stuck at home because all my books were ... in the office! Enough said I feel!

So I decamped to my own study - no more commute, no more dodging the evangelists, no more feeling like an intruder when I dare to venture out of my office to make a coffee! A weight has been lifted! Just peace, my iMac and my books!

Let's hope this is a recipe for success and not for disaster!