Friday, 30 November 2012

Paedophilic Pastimes

“There are more things that frighten us than injure us… and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  

Over the last two days, I re-read, after years, a book that, I now realise, I picked up too early for my own good. Vladimir Nabokov wrote, in 1955, a book that was highly commended, and highly controversial. The title of the book- named for its subliminal protagonist- has since gained a stereotype and a cult status like, perhaps, no other publication has ever gained.
The book deals with issues that are far more complex than they're made to seem. Of course, Nabokov has displayed aptly through his work, his uncanny ability to latch on to the mind of his protagonist so strongly, that all other themes than those that he talks about, are lost to the reader until he or she puts down the book, and the frightening realisations come flooding to him in an uncomfortable and stubbornly overpowering wave.
Based, it is ventured, on the story of the kidnapping of 11 year-old Florence Horner by mechanic Frank La Salle who, it is said, raped her repeatedly while she was under his 'custody', 'Lolita' deals with the iffy- and taboo- concept of helpless paedophilia.
A lifelong attraction to young girls, who he calls 'nymphets' culminates, for Humbert Humbert, in a strong emotional and physical attraction towards the daughter of his landlady. Dolores Haze, all of twelve years old. Cranky. Wilful. Irresistible.
Shan't tell you what happens next, it's no fun if I do. Well, maybe fun isn't the best choice of vocabulary.
Either way, Nabokov, in his unique style, his uncanny ability to draw out shades of personality that transcend the usual black-and-white- even with reference to subjects that are disconcerting in their very societal presence, and his knack for the descriptive, flowing, effortless 'erotica' (although I dislike the term when used for this particular book), raised very potent questions about lifestyles that may or may not be widespread, and definitely don't go down well with a majority of the population.
What defines paedophilia? Is inculcating someone into the act of sex- which they will inadvertently discover anyway- when they don't know any better, and have no opposition: a sin? Is an unusual (yes, that is what it is, after all. Just unusual. I suppose.) attraction cause for psychiatric remedy? Or worse, for a lifetime of self-induced guilt and repentance? All I know is, our hero feels none. No guilt, no repentance. If anything, just a sorrowful desire that all women aren't like the ones he desires. If I recall correctly, 'childlike innocence' is the term he uses. Or perhaps, he uses both words at different instances.
The book made me think. Long and hard, about things that I had never really considered actively before. Look for answers to questions that I hadn't bothered to raise. It made me look at the psychology of attraction in a way that I hadn't looked at it before- definitely not the first time I read the book.
Who decides what attraction is good, and what is bad? Humbert Humbert is a despicable man for what he did to that child. But is he? Or is he merely lost in a world of people that do not understand what he does- that desire is what it is. Nothing more, and nothing less. Why Lolita, particularly? Why does the desire for possession morph so quickly into an all-consuming vacuum, that eventually overpowers any desire one has felt before, or is likely to feel?
Oddly, and for the first time, I felt impulsive, unadulterated hatred towards a character in any piece of literature. In my head, there is nothing, nothing that validates what he did. Not even a natural bent of mind. Never before, have I been so profoundly affected by the degree of disgust I feel towards a fictitious man. Given, Nabokov has provided his reader with a strong psychological cause for the behaviour that he has spoken of, and normally, I would consider it. This time, it's different. This time, there's no room for open-mindedness. So, though I see and appreciate Nabokov's skill of developing for his character, great many dimensions, I find that I cannot agree with any. The voice in my head, telling me that there are things that I will never agree with, is too loud. And for good reason.
In some respects, Lolita seemed to occupy a place in my mind very close to Robert Browning's Porphyria's Lover. If you haven't read the poem, read it. If you haven't read the book, read that, first. And if you've read both, you know what I mean by the parallel.
Until then, I'm not here to impose my judgement. I'm just giving you insight into a piece of literature that may rush you to create your own.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Men and Women Merely Players

Learn your lines! 
Why are you wearing uncomfortable clothes?! You can't rehearse in uncomfortable clothes! 
We have no money! 


What a word. What a concept. What an experience. Magic.

I've always known why I love the stage. It's simple. Theatre's in my blood. Not from my rich theatrical heritage- more like a rush of hormonal imbalance that shoots through my veins when I think about the fervour that the stage brings.
Working in theatre, with all its dimensions, has always culminated in being on stage. About the sheer joy that rehearsal brings to my day. About the spark that runs from my head to my toes every time I set foot on that cold wooden floor, the warmth of the fluorescent lights hitting my eyes till they water, the exhilaration of applause that echoes in my mind for days after I hear it.
You know how Sartre once said, "Acting is happy agony."? Well, he was right. Then again, that man always knew what he was talking about.
I can't recall the number of times a script, a scene, a line has twisted my insides with the confusion, the complexity, the unfamiliarity it brings. And I know there's a lot more the come. The thing is, that intestinal convolution is part of a far bigger, far more ethereal deal. Somehow, in my head, it's a fair barter. Some frustration, in return for a thrill like none other. What's the harm?
We go through our lives pretending, as someone I know very acutely pointed out. Pretending that we fit into society as we see it. That we know what the Algebra teacher is talking about (Well, some of us). That our minds are merely subject to a higher power. That, in following a dozen rules that we did not choose for ourselves, we are living honourably. That we care more about honour than happiness.
I could go on, but I'm sure you see the point.
Well, I like to act, because it helps me shed the coat of pretence. More significantly, it allows me the opportunity to point it out to others, so that they may, may, realise how much it is obstructing their vision.
Because, at the end of the day, isn't that what art is about? The painter paints to express his inner desires and  visions. The dancer dances to tell a story through his body. The musician uses his notes, his voice, the power of his instrument, to create a mood, foster a sentiment in a way that only he can. I act, because there are thousands of stories that deserve to be told, thousands of desires that are begging to be expressed, thousands of emotions that nobody is brave enough to face: and I can live them. Albeit for a while. And in living them, I can tell those stories, represent all those people, pull the mask off my face and hope that it may inspire others to do the same. It gives me the courage to be the truest version of myself, and wearing that face, I am the most I can be.
All the world's a stage, said Shakespeare.
My world may as well be one.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Leave Me To My Mistakes

This is a public apology for all the ridiculous typos that seem to have infested my posts.

I should have known better than to let them get the better of me.
If only Spell-Check had the extraterrestrial ability  to pick out words that don't fit the context. I can't really help it if I type 'life' in the stead of 'live'. I'm only human! Damn you, Spell-Check. I know they're both words, but why don't you possess the intelligence to know when the word DOESN'T FIT THERE?
Anywho. You know what they say about bad workmen. Fortunately, I, am not a bad workman. I genuinely do have bad tools. Or the wrong ones.
Let's not dwell here. I know this blog is called Ravings of a Know-It-All, but I don't have to keep wanting to prove its legitimacy to you.
I'm going to start typing slower in the future, I swear. I'd say I'll start double-checking everything I type, but even I don't believe that. I'd hardly expect you to.
Imagine my embarrassment if you found any typos in this post.
Fingers crossed.
With love.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hello, I Love You

If heaven had a voice, it would be his. If heaven had a bard, he would be it. If heaven had a beauty contest, he would win it.

If he were reading this right now, though, he'd probably be laughing. For the place that he belongs, is not heaven. He was too adventurous, too intelligent, too...completely out of his mind, to have to be sent there for the rest of his existence. But I know better than to say he's in hell. Hell, is for the unimaginative few, that do wrong without thinking it through, or knowing why. No, he is in a very special place. One, in fact of his very own creation. And the name of the band to which he belonged (I dare not call it 'his band', I've heard that annoyed him.)- should provide me with ample proof of the place I mean.

Beyond The Doors of perception, you will find him. You will find the curly haired genius I'm raving about.

You will find Jim Morrison.

And you won't find him alone. When I shut my eyes and think about what it was that made Morrison, Morrison, the answers fall into my lap, like they were waiting to get there all along. His poetry and his voice are only part of it- an indispensable part, but a mere fraction, nevertheless. There was more. There was alcohol, women, Robbie Krieger, and the police force of the United States of America. The backdrop to his fame. And that's what you'd find with him: that familiar bottle, the air of a high (I mean that quite literally, actually) and a thousand gyrating women, who'd been shipped specially from Hell for him. Or Heaven, if they gyrated Monday through Friday and worked in a soup kitchen on weekends.
Nevertheless, I'm digressing.

Why is it that Jim Morrison makes me- and so many others, feel the magic that music made him feel? I don't know. I don't know what it is about him, that makes me think he's the most beautiful man I've ever seen. I don't know what it is about his lyrics, that makes me laugh, cry, reminisce and float. I don't know what it is about his voice, that makes me feel like he's singing only for me, like I'm swimming in the richness of his tenor, and there's nothing to the world except the things he's singing about.

What I do know, though, is this. No ordinary man can life a life as dramatic as he did, write some of the best poetry of his age (and ages hence), and make a living out of messing with the heads of every solitary person in the world- and not succumb to the unending glamour of insanity.
What I would give, to live in his time. What I would give to be able to experience what he gave his audiences each time he went up on that stage. Everything. And more. But, I suppose, that's the beauty and the sorrow of a live well-lived. There's no going back, and there's no moving forward.

So I do what I can do best with him around me. I play his music, listen to his voice, and write poetry of my own.

Because, love, this isn't The End.

One day, someday, we might just meet. And that's a hope I'm willing to live in.

Come on, come on, come on, come on
And Touch Me, babe,
Can't you see that I am not afraid?