Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Lady Oracle--Part II

Chapter 20. After two years of marriage, somewhere around 1966-1968, Joan and Arthur still have no sink, and Arthur has not yet deigned to get a job. My impression is that smart women don't put up with this kind of lifestyle anymore. Life would be potentially more interesting for me if more of them did, but that is no consideration of anybody's.

The construction of the part detailing the curiosities of the little district (Toronto hipster scene), finding the dead dog, etc, I seem to have thought was well done. It gave the book 'dimension', I wrote. Though in all seriousness, is it really credible that Margaret Atwood was ever a hipster, or hung out much among them? To me, crashing/penetrating these kinds of scenes are like pushing against the very limits of human possibility. I don't understand how some people can just get in and make themselves accepted in these circles and remain enshrined for the rest of their lives while others can never convince anybody that they have any part of the soul of a bohemian.

p.248 "When Women's Lib had appeared, Marlene had dismissed it as bourgeois; now she was a convert." I can see how that would have been confusing at the time.

p.254--"Byron, I remember, had kept a pet bear in his rooms and drunk wine from a skull." Yes, of course you did. For many years I thought Byron should be just about everyone's hero, science geniuses and people of that ilk included, because it seemed to me he had mastered every aspect of human existence that mattered in modern life, and then left it off carelessly, more or less in disdain, while still in the full throes of his powers and superiority, both of intellect and spirit, over other humans. His seemed to me the most ideal life accessible to people who were incapable of religious serenity or profound philosophical cogitation. I am of late less inclined to this opinion, since it seems to steer one towards a nihilistic attitude towards life, and this is generally not considered to be acceptable. No one else is as pleasing or convincing to me in his self-expression that I have discovered yet as old Byron seems to have been however.

p. 259--"He goes to all the parties, he goes to every party he can get into." Why not. Back then parties were actually fun.

p.264--"He'd heard from one of his friends, also a concrete artist, that if you got a string of Christmas tree lights, plugged it in, unscrewed one of the lights, and stuck your finger in the socket at the moment of ejaculation, not only you but your partner would have the greatest orgasm in the world." This is stupid, but it did inspire me to ask how people had so much time away from jobs and spouses and other people back in the day to conduct sexual affairs and still be home before midnight. Though I am sure it isn't true, my impression is that people were much hornier, certainly more openly so, in the 60s and 70s than they are now. There were, percentage wise, far more people of rutting age, socio-economically the middle class at least was far more equal, and I would say that given the lower numbers both of obese people and people adopting really unnatural appearances--cosmetic surgery, extreme levels of exercising, whatever people are doing with facial make-up and hair so as to only remotely resemble human beings--there were far more attractive people around to awaken and flame one's desires than there are in the ordinary person's life today.

p.273--"The television set had vertical on the lower third of the screen..." Hey, I remember that.

p. 289--"He hated celebrities, he felt they diminshed him." Contemporary celebrities tend to be so ridiculous that they don't in themselves diminish anybody. The people with relentless drive, self-confidence, and ambition for the sake of ambition are what is diminishing me. Where does this belief that one is a winner, that one can do whatever he wants, and that one deserves all of the top prizes to be claimed in life all of the time and in perpetuity, come from?

p.310--"I was feeling marooned; the impulse to send out messages, in bottles or not, grew every day. I am still alive." That is the whole and only object of this blog at this point.

Italians are depicted in this as utterly ruthless people, not just the mafiosi but more or less everybody. Are they still like this? The conventional wisdom is that they have gone completely soft, at least morally, like every other western country.

I like the conceit of the structure here, having the romance novels, with all their absurdity, parallel her own life. I ought to come up with some kind of clever device like that for my own next book. p. 338 "Mr Morgan looked serious and responsible; he was having the time of his life, he was important at last, he was acting out his own fantasy." Mr Morgan witnessed what he believed to be a tragic drowning, thus earning the attention of the police and the newspapers. I cannot imagine what I would do if I ever became convinced I was genuinely important. I don't think it's likely to happen.

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