My Father

My father had taken me out to sea one day when I was just a child. He stood proudly at the helm of the ship, gazing out upon the expansive horizon he was so desperate to claim. The wind swept away his features from my memory, but I can remember his face being devoid of emotion. He stood with his foot set sternly upon the edge of the boat as though he were a mighty captain. Sitting upon the floor, he had forgotten me there, and I was left to soak up the sea’s spill that had made it onto the vessel. I was only was able to see his romantic heroism burning away while his shadow covered a son he left behind.
We sailed out through hours that poured into weeks that stacked into months that all felt like the same day. We ploughed headstrong into the endless ocean, towards an uncertain destiny. On occasions, he would turn to me to yell something I was unable to understand, though something I will never forget. “This is what it’s all about, boy!” he said while his fingers grasped at nothing. “This! Right here! Can you feel it, boy? Can you?” He would soon turn back to the empty ocean and ignore me once again. His repetitious monologue instilled a despair in me I thought I would never shake.
We came finally to where blocks of ice pushed past our boat.
From the haul, I gazed up into the sky. The pale blue painted above me eased my mind. I plunged my gaze into the water’s darkness below. Between the two, the children of the sky and the sea lay frozen as floating masses, forming an everlasting and ever-changing landscape that chose to appear as it pleased. Drunk, maybe, from the icy sea air, my father turned to me and said, “In you get.”
Filled with uncertainty, I found his command to be ridiculous, but the tension was too dizzying for it to have been a joke. “Did you not hear me, boy?” his voice called again.
I suddenly wished I was not there. I knew I could either sit and be thrown in by my father’s irrational temper, or embrace his torturous will.
“Father, it’s freezing,” I pleaded.
His eyes looked hard at me.
“Nonsense. Get in. It will make you strong, and help you become a man. I want a big, strong boy, not a weakling for a son. Look at your father: he grew up in the mountains, out every morning in the snow before the break of dawn, catching rabbits for his father. He could swim laps in this water! Ha! Just you watch!” He chortled, but his eyes were harder than stones. I stood reluctantly and moved slowly toward the edge of the boat. “Not with your clothes on, stupid boy! You’ll get them wet!”
I removed my clothes to expose my skin to the merciless breeze. I looked before myself: the rolling rip curls concealed a black coffin. I thought he may have been right, and feeling the extreme chill might make me a stronger man and, stepping into the air, I let my breath be stolen away and let myself be flooded with shock and horror.
I could hardly scream or remember how to swim. I slapped the water in vain as the blinding, burning sensation filled me. In the few brief moments when I managed to rear my head, I tried to express the indescribable sensation by wailing before my father reached in and snagged me back onto the boat.
“There we go,” he said, and drew a soft towel that he wrapped about me tightly.

By J.H. Sageman

Tags: lit prose writing




Should You Go Out Tonight? Let Morrissey Help You Decide
via revolutiontrainee 

favorite favorite favorite

This is EVERYT<3.<3




Should You Go Out Tonight? Let Morrissey Help You Decide


favorite favorite favorite

This is EVERYT<3.<3


Great use of commas in this section - learning to appreciate Daphne du Maurier&#8217;s technicality.

Great use of commas in this section - learning to appreciate Daphne du Maurier’s technicality.

Tags: lit prose writers



Animated artwork by Rebecca Mock

Fine, detailed and subtle animated artwork created by New York illustrator Rebecca Mock. Apparently the animated gif back to stay, gradually more and more people are exploring this old format and customers asking for shouting. Several of these illustrations were created for the New York Times or The Warlus magazine.

(via story-dj)

"If we forget, we are cattle. If we remember, we’re a nation."

— Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Tags: lit quotes russia

"The end of living and the beginning of survival"

— Chief Seattle

Tags: lit quotes

Theory of Representation

Ever wondered why you like what you like?

‘The theory of Representation’ is one of the staples for any Media Studies student and from a young age we automatically learn to identify and interpret the various ways that our society represents social groups in public consciousness. One of the essential values of studying Media Studies therefore, is to be able to avoid the marketing tricks, propaganda and manipulative images that inhibit the world around us. Nevertheless, our studies of representation are nearly always associated with external objects - I would like to encourage us to start evaluating our own ‘self-representations.’

Let’s take another hackneyed area of study in Media Studies as an example – Social Media. Can we honestly say that the representations of ourselves on our Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr (et al) profiles are really the people we are? My Twitter profile picture (above) contains a black and white photo of myself (looking terrifically better than I normally do) on a beach. Already there is so much that could be misinterpreted (which is obviously my intention) by the viewer. You could suppose that I am a surfer, you could suppose that I am quite artistic, you could assume that I am a fun and laid back guy…I won’t patronise you by going on and on because I think you can see what I am getting at – I am the first to spot and frown upon mass media’s misrepresentations but how often am I misrepresenting myself?

Pierre Bourdieau was a sociologist whose ideas laid the foundation for this interest in (self) representation and there are two theories of his that we can use to stretch our own understanding of, not only the world around us, but ourselves. The first theory is his concept of Habitus: this is the values, beliefs, habits and expectations of a certain social group which inform their experiences of everyday life. On a very basic level let’s take the stereotype of a middle class white British male in order to explain this. This gentleman may have been told (and by told I mean in all the ways a society can tell – signs, parents, TV, books etc.) that Da Vinci is the epitome of art while graffiti is art in its most base form. Which habitus would this man identify with more in order to be accepted in society - the habitus of Da Vinci lovers associated with foreign galleries, priceless paintings and western physical features? Or the habitus of graffiti art – associated with hip hop, crime and gritty urban commentary? Now we can look at Bourdieau’s second theory – his theory of taste. Bourdieau argued that taste is socially constructed and not a biological development. In other words, from the moment of our birth (perhaps even earlier), external factors in the social world around us contrive to create our own dislikes and likes. Obviously certain things in our distinct habitus might always be considered to be something to like or dislike such as Shakespeare, corruption, Chanel…The issue with this of course is that if we are unfortunate to be born into a lower social habitus, our tastes are likely to be in favour of tastes that aren’t be considered ‘tasteful’ by the socially dominant habitus or be so tasteful that they are unobtainable.

The comedian Chris Rock explained this clearer in his joke about how African-American people in America always spent money on ‘rims’ for the wheels of their cars instead of saving, thus preventing them from becoming wealthy and improving their habitus. Perhaps, by belonging to a minority, habitus often forces the individual to have a personal taste for material gain. Why - because it is a way of being accepted by the larger, more controlling habitus in society, and therefore improving our own self-representation. However, it is not even the desire for money to escape the habitus that is the driving force here but rather the desire to demonstrate wealth to others of our own habitus – to exclaim that one has escaped the habitus of the minority. On a trip to Africa a few years ago I witnessed large groups of people with the latest mobile phones – the only issue was that they couldn’t afford to use them – they took pride however in the material representation of having the brand new phone.

Another example of this actually occurred in one of my lessons recently. A younger student from another class came into the room to collect something for her lesson. One of my older students cried out, “Wow you’re so beautiful!” to her. The girl that had entered was mixed race with green eyes. The girl that had yelled out was Asian. She had been taught that beauty in the dominant habitus was ‘most beautiful’ when it was presented as a mixture of racial features. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote extensively about the trend of black people straightening their hair in order to look ‘more white’ - society had taught him that its taste did not favour African features except in his own habitus. A glimpse at modern ‘beautiful women’ demonstrates this social favouritism towards those who have a look of the mixture of racial features: Rhianna, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Aishwarya Rai, Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey and so on. How many times have we heard people favour a particular race when looking for a potential partner? This ‘taste’ is not an accident - it has been crafted by the society and habitus we exist in. What colour hair does a princess have? Blonde. Why? Because the dominant habitus in society was made up of blonde haired women who were seen as the height of beauty at the time.

Think back to that profile picture from my own Twitter page – now, being in the habitus I am, which despite my best efforts must be described as middle class, it is easy to see why I made the self-representation choices that I did for my Twitter photo. I have always been ‘told’ by my habitus that: arty photos must be in black and white in the manner of Robert Capa; the black shirt I am wearing is unsophisticated yet mysterious and brooding just like two of my favourite musicians - The Man in Black – Johnny Cash and Morrisey – who once sang, “I wear black on the outside because black is how I feel on the inside.” I even have the rockabilly hair cut in the photo. Why might I like them – because they are rebellion in a way that I can relate to without being outcast from my own habitus. Having Chesil beach in the background represents my free-flowing spirit and love of travel, which has its own connotations of romance and rebellion such as in Kerouac’s novel ‘On the Road.’ The sunglasses are the type that are now considered ironic or retro by my habitus, and wearing them creates an element of not taking myself too seriously and being hip.

But why would I or anyone do this? Well that’s easy and rather embarrassing to admit - I am hoping to manipulate others into liking me. I am hoping to be accepted as a person who is desirable in my habitus – a beautiful, intelligent, fun-loving and ‘cool’ person. Essentially I am dishonestly marketing and branding myself to the world – why might this be - well marketing is prevalent in our society; we are saturated by it to the point where it is embedded in our mind that we need to continually market ourselves. The sad thing is most of us are well aware when this happens in our external world and yet we still do it internally. Even more so perhaps it is a sad indictment on how truthful our society is.

I think you’ll agree that it’s time to change that profile pic .

Douglas Walker

"A house is a machine for living in."

— Le Corbusier


The first photograph ever taken was a selfie.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Victor Vasnetsov 1887

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Victor Vasnetsov 1887

Tags: lit apocalypse

Really like this passage from Pincher Martin by William Golding.

Really like this passage from Pincher Martin by William Golding.

"What I wanted to do was paint sunlight on the side of a house"

— Edward Hopper

Tags: lit art quotes

I’m really not trying to be provocative but…

I didn’t think ‘The Fault in our Stars’ was that good. I gave up halfway through. Sure I liked that a protagonist could be a terminally ill cancer patient and all the rest and sure, of course I appreciate the depth of feeling and everything related to the subject of cancer. But I am fed up of this young adultification of writing, and to me, The Fault in our Stars represents everything wrong about writing at the moment.

It’s not the young adult genre itself but it’s the young adult fiction that masquerades as literary fiction. I don’t want a plot that makes me break down and cry, I want a sentence that makes me break down and cry. I am tired of this dumbing down of prose. What? because someone is young they can’t be challenged by some evocative vocabulary? Can’t a teenager appreciate a complex sentence with multiple clauses?

For me The Fault in our Stars was such a contrived easy way to score a hit. It’s the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas of cancer. An easy way to present something heartbreaking to an audience of impressionable readers who will lap it up and think ‘This is Fiction.’ If it leads them into more serious literature then great but at worst I fear books like this will be the Blink 182 and Green Day of literature: art for teenagers.

If you liked the book then great but please look at Green’s lineage. And writers please, let’s challenge younger readers. This compound sentence/1st person/3rd person past tense Hemingway-esque meets Eggers meets Carver style needs to evolve.

"Everyone’s got a sad story."

— Rorie Jackson

Tags: lit quotes

Love, like
Flowers and flames,
Can be dowsed in rain
And germinate or drown.

Tags: lit poetry