Posts Tagged "english"

The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

My morning tempers often transcend into day tempers and eventually in unadulterated pure magical hatred towards the mere existence of other human organisms if left untreated. I remember walking down the isle of a supermarket (true — a really dreadful place to be) and seeing someone standing right in the middle where I couldn’t pass. What this person did, this defiant act of just standing, got under my nails and skin and right through my head and set my hair on fire in a moment’s time. I realised how ridiculous I was feeling so all there was left to do was curl up into a ball and read. That day, I finished reading The Hearing Trumpet in a patch of sun with my mother’s eighties sunglasses on because the sun was so perfectly bright and then all was brilliant and beautiful.

The main thing that lifted my spirits was obviously Leonora Carrington’s writing.

via Flickr
I think the internet should love this book. It features a ninety-two year old with a beard, a deep love of cats and a best friend who makes up fantastic fantastical stories and who dreams of machine guns and helicopters. As the story revolves you get to read about more beautiful nonagenarians, crazy nuns, witches, unicorns all in a majestic nursing home that has bungalows shaped like cake and mushrooms and other perfect things. I imagined the ladies very akin to the beautiful babes over at Advanced Style. I don’t want to mention more because delving into it with hardly any knowledge was such a trip. The language was fresh, always funny and the mere fact of reading about ninety-year olds generally kicking ass is such a welcome change to any and all protagonists I have ever read about.

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

There are times when you read or see something and all of a sudden it connects with every thing that follows.

I dyed my hair, again. While I was in the store figuring out the right shade of teenage rebellion sehnsucht I was distracted by groups of teenagers, who were anxiously trying on fake plugs or picking out a piercing with jittery fingers trying to say something vaguely cool in front of their friends (and failing), who were equally anxious, and excited all at the same time.

In a different way, like I have been connecting everything this past week or so, this reminded me of Angela Carter’s The Magic Toyshop. I cannot say I loved it all too much, but it’s been lingering in my consciousness. The story itself is unimportant in this but the more symbolic narrative, reinforced by the drugged atmospheric writing sticks in a sort of frightening way.

The book begins with the most sensuous description of a girl’s discovery of one’s own body, the part where you’re that special kind of young where you still love yourself and touch yourself and look at yourself in such beautiful anticipation. But then abruptly stops.

From thereon the story becomes gradually violent, confusing and so smothering, always in that same little dark building with those creepy dolls hovering over you with their weird allegories. With that huge phallic symbol of a ghost man that makes you afraid to breathe. The highlight when Melanie is physically but, I guess, mostly symbolically confronted with a man’s desire was gross and scary and violent and you felt like suffocating, losing your childhood and facing something of an inhibitive stoic adulthood. At the same time your face flushed and your shaking hands were waiting to embrace (sexual) maturity while being too afraid to touch it. But longing anyway. And it only culminated in destruction, however small or however big it seemed. And disappointment, too, but it’s the good kind somehow, and you’re left with a comparative calmness and a stillness so foreign you could never have imagined it. And some zit scars.


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Two days in a row I’d recently read Anna Kavan books, and two nights in a row I had wicked nightmares. First it was a feverish dream of brutally killing unreal-dummy people I felt a harsh alienation to, slicing open their neck, blood gushing all over, in a terribly disaffected mood. Then I was pregnant. That should be enough to freak me out, but upon realising there was a person growing inside of me I couldn’t stop envisioning super gore images of the baby ripping me open, blood streaming everywhere etc. etc.

The first story I read, in Julia and the Bazooka, related a woman just released from a hospital, going out, standing in the traffic seemingly intentional and describing the subsequent hit with a car and blood gushing down the streets and drowning people with it. Near the end of this gruesome vision she writes: “Since the universe only exists in my mind, I must have created the place, loathsome, foul as it is.” I knew right then it was love. What could I do but almost obsessively read more?

Sleep Has His House is up to now my favourite, an autobiographical book told in a ‘night-time language, a dialect we have all spoken during our childhood’ with fiercely strong imagery and crazy symbolism which is occasionally too obscure to grasp thoroughly but by which the reader can easily fill in the gaps in his own way, creating his own meaning and symbolism mixed with the writer’s. It tells the story of Kavan’s increasing withdrawal from the world due to a lack of warm human contact, until she’s left in the darkness that she created.

Kavan sometimes writes poetically but always precise, cold and detached which regardless make her stories relatable in a frightening way to those experienced in those certain moods. And I’m just kinda in love.

Or something like this may happen while you are out for a walk in the country: you feel yourself quite alone for an hour you haven’t seen one living creature, not even a dog or a horse in a field, you seem to be miles from anywhere. And then in this solitude, out of the bushes at the side of the road, a sly face looks out at you, the face of an old man with a beard and a big hat such as is seldom worn these days. Just for a second he looks out at you. It’s really surprising to meet anyone in such a lonely place; but instead of saying Good day, he draws back, disappears into the wood, and you don’t see him again. What is it makes you feel this this old man has been watching you, perhaps following you for some time, hidden among the trees: that he has perhaps been sent to that out-of-the-way spot on purpose to see and report afterwards which track you are following, whether you turn to the right or the left at the crossroads at the foot of the hill?
Nobody knows the exact significance of those feelings which all of us have experienced: but that they bear some relation to our close surveillance by the authorities appears certain. if only it were possible to find out something definite. One feels under constant observation. One has the conviction that every trifling act is noted and set down either against one or in one’s favour. And at the same time one hasn’t the faintest clue to the standards by which one is being judged. How is it possible to avoid anxiety and indecision when a move of any kind involves the whole of one’s future status.

From Sleep Has His House