Victor Von FrankenEmo
the fork of truth
thethingsunsaid
As part of the neverending Reading The Classics project (AKA: 'all those books you keep meaning to get around to but never quite do'), and seeing as it is the end of term and I'm now Officially a Free Agent, I thought I'd post a book review/summary.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is quite possibly the MOST EMO BOOK I  HAVE EVER READ. EVER.

Frankenstein reviewCollapse )

In conclusion: Victor Frankenstein= Worst Parent Ever

Next Time: Thoughts on Les Mis! (probably)

What The Victorians Did for Us, or, Yo Ladies! Up the Revolution!
thethingsunsaid
Recently, quite a few people I know have been having more or less the same reaction whenever the Victorian period comes up in conversation, which is basically, "Oh, the Victorians *shudder*", as if before 1837, Britain was a halcyon paradise of bucolic farmers and caring aristocracy, and we've spent the last hundred-odd years trying to get over the buggers who messed it up.

This strikes me as kind of unfair. After all, there's no such thing as a historical vacuum, is there? It's not like we can just seamlessly stitch 1836 onto 1902.
 
The Victorians have always interested me because they're almost, but not quite, in living memory. A lot of history is like reading about another world, but it's quite easy to find people who were brought up by relatives who remember the nineteenth century in vivid detail. Alright, I wouldn't have wanted to live there, but there definitely worse places in history I can think of. At least the Victorians weren't likely to burn me as a witch or give me the plague.

So, in defence of our great-great grandparents, here are ten (ish) reasons why the Victorians kicked ass.

Cut for length. Lots and lots of length.Collapse )

Online Inhibitions
thethingsunsaid
I'll tell you a secret: I don't like writing on the internet.

Not much of a secret, you might be thinking. Considering you've just declared it online for anyone to read. And unto you I would reply, in triumphant tones: Exactly!

Wait! Before you start backing away, let me explain.

When you post on the internet, the only thing people have to know you by is your words. If you write on the internets 'I hate cats!', that is all that your audience will know. They have no way of guessing that you love budgies, or give generously to charities, or had a traumatic encounter with a zombie kitten when you were nine (well, not unless they are conveniently psychic or secretly stalking you). All they know about you is that you hate cats, and that's what they'll judge you on.

For many people, this is quite liberating. There's even a name for it and everything: the Online Disinhibition Effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_disinhibition_effect See? It has a Wikipedia page, it must be true. You can even see it in action. Personally, I believe that human beings are, for the most part, basically intelligent, tolerant, decent people. For this reason, I try not to read most comment threads, because they very quickly disabuse me of such notions.

Maybe it's because I'm not a particularly sociable person. I regard things like Facebook and Twitter with deep suspicion. Last weekend, I left some washing on the line while I went away, in the vain hope that it might be dry when I got back. In my absence, my neighbours declared me missing and called the police to break into my house in case I was dead. I had neglected to tell them I was going away.

"You wouldn't call me unsociable, would you?" I appealed hopefully to my friend.

He burst out laughing. "Sociable?" he said. "You're about as sociable as a male lion!"

I don't even talk to the people I like. The idea of people I don't know reading my thoughts and judging me on them is a pretty scary one.

But I'm a writer. I can't help it. It's like a particularly wordy disease, an addiction to verbiage. I write a lot. I send stories off. I hold out vain hopes that, someday, someone will publish them. So I'd better get used to people judging me on my words. Hence this blog.

What about you? How do you feel about writing on the internet? Do you post blithely or lurk in cheerful anonymity?

PS - I harbour no negative feeling whatsoever towards cats.

The Awesomeness of Magnus Bane
thethingsunsaid
Sometimes, I think my priorities may need readjusting.

I'm in the process of trying not to end up as a homeless single parent student. So far, this has gone a bit like this:

EVIL ESTATE AGENTS: *behave in a manner of general nefariousness*
ME: Oh dear. That was unkind.
EVIL ESTATE AGENTS: *laugh evily*
MY FRIENDS: This is discrimination! Oppression! Write letters! Take to the streets!
ME: Oh dear. I don't suppose you'd mind perhaps not being evil? No? Oh well then. I've never been a homeless student with a toddler before. It will be a new and interesting experience!
FRIENDS: *facepalm*

As you can see, I find it difficult to sum up the required degree of assertiveness and indignation.

Then I read things like Cassandra Clare's post on rape myths, which is here: http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/post/23500077162/rape-myths-rape-culture-and-the-damage-done , and I find they come quite naturally.

This isn't a post on the insidiousness of rape culture, because I think lots of other people, including Cassandra Clare, have written about it at much more length and more eloquently than I could.

No, this is a post about the Awesomeness of Magnus Bane.

I wasn't a massive fan of the City of Bones. I liked it. It was alright. Then I encountered Magnus Bane, and promptly fell in hero-worship. I read the whole series mostly to watch him being sarcastic and blowing up battleships. Here was a character who threw awesome parties, felt pretty much the same way I did about the main characters, and owned a cat called Chairman Meow into the bargain.

Magnus Bane very quickly became one of my Fictional Heroes, and not just because of his taste in dressing gowns. He's character who is openly bisexual, and not just in a 'straight-except-for-threesomes -and-one-night-stands' kind of way, and, to quote Cassandra Clare,; 'is basically joyous about his sexuality and never ashamed'. A character who's entirely happy to be different, regardless of other people's opinions on the matter.

Magnus Bane taught me that it was okay to not have terrific angst about your sexuality, no matter what others may think. He taught me that bad things can happen to you and yet you can still choose to see life as essentially wonderful and filled with beauty. He taught me that you can fall in love more than once, and that it is worth the risk each time.
So when Cassandra Clare wrote about getting weekly hate mail, and people saying that  Magnus and Alec got together  'for no point', it made me sad.

It also made me kind of angry. Because for me, having a fictional character who could have a romantic relationship with someone of their own sex, and be happy, and it not be the central defining feature of their lives was awesome. Seeing people like you in books is always important, even if they happen to be Shadowhunters and three-hundred-year-old warlocks, and therefore probably not actually that much like you. In a way, that's kind of the point too.

The rest of the post made me sad and angry too.

Dark things are part of life for teenagers as well as adults. If we don't see them in books, if we don't address them, then how can they be dealt with when they crop up in the real world?

We need books to be our mirrors, to reflect the bad as well as the good, to teach us things and make us think. If we pretend that the dark stuff isn't there, that it never happens, how can we fight it? When we learned about the Holocaust at school, they told us that bad things happen when good people do nothing.

That's a simplification, but it's still true.  If you don't talk about the uncomfortable stuff, write about it, put in books, it's much easier to look the other way.

As an aspiring writer, one of the things that scares me is the bad things people might say about my work when it gets published. Stories are like your babies; you don't want people to beat them up and steal their dinner money behind the metaphorical bike sheds. So: thank you Cassandra Clare for being brave enough to give us heroes outside the mainstream, in a world where that can sometimes feel like stepping out of a car in the fast lane of the motorway.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use the rest of that righteous indignation to write a polite but strongly-worded letter to my landlord.

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