felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I am very much enjoying Headhunter, though having worked half the day and slept the other half, I'm not much farther. I find I'm quite hampered by my lack of Wuthering Heights knowledge -- what does "Heathcliff hath murdered sleep" mean? How did Linton perish?

This is a book that requires you to know a lot of other books. I'm very glad I've read Heart of Darkness three times. I'm glad I know about the Samurai Susanna. I found this line very funny:

"The groundhog, looking up at her as it ate, had a face very much like Susanna Moodie's -- slightly bad-tempered, furrowed over the brow, a weatherbeaten red in colour -- grey around the edges.
But if Susanna is going to help Lilah Kemp fight Kurtz from Heart of Darkness, she should have come with her giant samurai sword. That would help. A faithful groundhog familiar couldn't hurt, but Kurtz is likely very powerful.

This is a very fun book.

Worked today. Sounds like they're going to want me back for my old job, starting week after next. I've barely written anything today (1.5 pages), but I'll probably spend the evening doing that :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So Green Grass, Running Water was great, though a little confusing for the obscure references. If you got them, they were very funny, but you need a course on Herman Melville, at least (or at least you have to read "Bartleby the Scrivener", "Benito Cereno", and Moby Dick.

Still, having a completely clueless "Sue Moodie" (obviously our Samurai Susanna) show up at the Dead Dog Restaurant was hilarious.

Now I've started the next book on the course, Famous Last Words I worry because Timothy Findley is one of the most-hyped writers in Canadian fiction, and as this is my first Findley I'm worried it could only disappoint. So far, it hasn't. The man is a master of brief but brilliant descriptions. He throws in just a handful of little details that make a scene seem more realistic that pages of description could.

He does seem a little obsessed about Ezra Pound (this novel and one of his plays are about Pound). I find that even more baffling than Margaret Atwood's obsession with Susanna Moodie. Ezra Pound strikes me as a cross between a crazed Montana militiaman, and than truly obnoxious professor I once had who claimed that Finnegan's Wake had to be a brilliant novel because no one ever finished reading it.

Truly a disturbing combination.

Other than that, it has been good. I missed the deadline for the CBC short story contest, but my novel is proceeding apace at a rate 5 pages a day. And we had a wonderful rit for Samhain last Monday :)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
For the record, I don't exist on Tuesdays. I phase out of existance. I refuse to exist on this plane on Tuesdays, because that would mean trying to balance the reading and writing necessary before any one of my grad classes, and the 8 million tasks and crises of daily life.

The world refuses to listen to this basic rule. Every crisis imaginable lands in my lap, invariably, on a Tuesday -- today it was a long talk with a landlord pleading for time to regulate the problem of my roommate's rent cheque bouncing. It was a cashflow problem, but the roommate is in Spain, I don't have enough money in my account to cover the rent without a transfer of funds.

And that conversation ate into my preparation time for the big project I had going on Susanna Moodie, Margaret Atwood, and Carl Jung -- which fortunately came off without a hitch, in spite of my only getting to it 48 hours before it was due.

And also, every social activity I could ever want attend happens on a Tuesday. The six other days of the week -- when I do exist -- do not seem to exist for other people.

(After my project, I would just like to crash and sleep for the rest of the week. Of course, since The-Place-Where-I-Don't-Work has called me in for an all-morning shift tomorrow, that's not happening.)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, I'm wading through more PoMo stuff in preparation for my presentation. This one article from Canadian Poetry is about how Susanna Moodie's giddy desriptions of the beauties of nature are a way of establishing a dominative power relationship between her and the landscape.

I've also learned from the author of the article, Susan Johnston, that wealth and security are a prerequisite for appreciating the beauties of nature. Finding things in nature beautiful is apparently a province of the rich, and therefore bourgeois. In case we doubt the obviousness of this point, she makes sure to quote Immanuel Kant.

Not for the first time reading a postmodernist, I wonder if this woman still lives in her parents' basement, and yells "You're not the boss of me" whenever they ask her if she could please take out the trash.

I also wonder why I didn't go in for something more spiritually enriching and intellectually satisfying than English Lit, like digging septic tanks.

On a very different note, Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This week's disasters have begun to peter out. My presentation was a success last night, which is good because it counts for a whopping percentage of the mark. Everyone looked bored, but then everyone always looks bored at these things. I tried to make it less boring by talking more about Atwood and Jung than the Samurai Susanna, but I gave the second major presentation of the night, so everyone was just falling asleep.

After me there was a presentation on some of the work of Catherine MacKinnon. One of her usual bait-and-switch, non-sequitor arguments used to demonize pornography by association ("In the 19th century, there was a lot of abuse of women in psychiatric institutions by male doctors. Here's the proof it was going on. Now, isn't porn evil?").

We didn't have time for class discussion after three presentations, so I didn't have a chance to rip into her. For those of you who don't know, MacKinnon's crusade for censorship has played a major part in the persecution of queer bookstores by Canada Customs. If it weren't for hers and Andrea Dworkin's briefs to the Supreme Court, Little Sister's and other bookstores wouldn't have to face the tyranny of Canada's most backward public institution.

Anyway, I have my ticket now to Advent Children -- today's English Tests were right near the theatre, so I ran out and grabbed it. I've never been as excited about seeing a movie in theatres as I am this time, especially since so few theatres around the world will be playing it.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Well, I finally began work on my seminar. I looked up every scholarly article on Margaret Atwood's Journals of Susanna Moodie, in every major scholarly publication that deals with Canadian literature, what libraries they were available at, when those libraries were open, who wrote them, when they were written, how many pages they were, and even browsed a few newspaper reviews of the book.

It took fifteen minutes.

What did grad students do before the invention of the Internet? Did they even have grad school back then? Probably, but I expect the classes were conducted in Latin, and mostly involved reconciling Aristotelian physics with the writings of the Fathers of the Church.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I'm nearly finished the Samurai Susanna. I wouldn't say reading it is so much good as it is character-building.

I really wanted to like her stuff. She is a big name in Canadian lit. My favourite Canadian novelist loved Moodie's work enough to write a volume of fan-poetry about her. She shows up as a hero, I've heard, in Timothy Findley's Headhunter, which promises to be a great book. On top of it all, she was very active in the anti-slavery movement.

But she is very tedious. It's that same long, drawn-out, dry prose style that has made me avoid any class in Victorian lit. The same ultra-sentimental Christian morality, the same cheerleading of British Empire, and for an anti-slavery activist, she's awfully narrow-minded. She also likes to go on for pages about how she's the only one around her who ever keeps her head in a crisis.

Oh well. Writing is continuing well and I expect to be at my first hundred pages of the new novel in the next few days. And tonight, I'm getting a Firefly education in preparation for watching Serenity tomorrow.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I finished Solomon Gursky Was Here. Good book mostly, but it just kept getting more and more homophobic, and I began to wonder what Mordecai Richler's problem was.

All the homophobic parts were tangents to the main plot. They felt unnecessary, making me wonder why they were there. He kept using us as symbols of hypocrisy, of the empty decadance of jet set, or even as an indication of insanity. By the time we came to the insane cannibal rapist-of-men in a dress, I had to put the book down for a moment.

It was far too clumsy for a satirist of Richler's skill, and seemed over and above his usual misanthropy.

I could understand it if there was one gay character, and he was unsympathetic (the two Wiccan characters were very unsympathetic). The problem is, there were more than a dozen of gay and bi male characters (no queer women, except a passing mention of Vita Sackville-West), and most of them were at the worst end of evil.

I'm now back to reading the Samurai Susanna. I've also written 8.5 pages today, and played video games a little, so I feel my day isn't completely wasted.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'm still enjoying Solomon Gursky, though it is getting a little irritating because of all the homophobia. At first, I was giving the author the benefit of the doubt -- he's not writing about nice people, and I assumed it was they, not the author, who were the bigoted.

After awhile though, it gets to be a little too much, and you have to wonder if -- among the dozens of queer predators and shallow queens, all played for laughs -- there's going to be one nice one. Mordecai Richler is misanthropic, but there are nice straight people around the margins of his story.

Minor spoilers here for Solomon Gursky )

(I need a Canadian Lit icon. If I could draw at all, and still access to Photoshop, I think I'd put together a Samurai Susanna animated icon, done in the style of a Canadian Heritage Minute. You know, something like an anime scene, followed by,

"In 1837, Canadian pioneer Susanna Moodie defeated the last ninja gang of the Duoro Township, ending the plague of ninjas that had been plaguing the Canadian wilderness, and thwarting American plans to built a space station capable of destroying Ottawa from orbit. A part of our heritage.")
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Got called into work this afternoon. Not to do placement tests, but to my old job in administration, which I prefer.

They were swamped. Paper was stacked everywhere. Teachers were coming in for books for courses that hadn't even been entered in the computer yet. We were fed-exing textbooks to Quebec for courses that didn't even teachers yet, but were supposed to start Monday. And nobody knew what was going on because the people in charge of this mountain of paper were stuck doing phone tests all day.

I think I made a dent in the paperwork, though not much more than a dent. I'm still not officially working there though, but if things keep up like this, I won't-be-officially-working-there full time.

Other than than, I'm about 48 pages into my novel, and I'm enjoying Solomon Gursky still immensly. But it seems my big project will be on Susanna Moodie and Margaret Atwood. I can't wait to tell them all my theories of Susanna Moodie's secret life hunting ninjas in the Canadian wilderness.

(It's Concordia university. If I handed that in as a final paper, I'd still only get an A-)
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
My writing is getting sluggish right at the worst possible moment. I have to turn in a very short story by the day after tomorrow. I have something written (I wrote it just yesterday), but it needs heavy revision, and I keep getting sidetracked.

I finished Prisoner of Azkaban again, and then went dutifully back to the Samurai Susanna Moodie. Apparently, she had a talking dog:

"[The servant] Jacob's attachment to us, in its simplicity and fidelity, greatly resembled that of the dog; and sometimes, like the dog, he would push himself where he was not wanted, and gratuitously give his advice, and make remarks which were not required.
She seems remarkably unperturbed owning a dog who "gratuitously gives his advice" and who "makes remarks which were not required."

That talking dog must have been a great help to her whilst she was hunting ninjas in the Canadian wilderness.

Also, it turns out I'm a fairy, which is of no surprise to anyone, I'm sure:

meme )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Not much to say, but I thought I'd update before my LJ grows cobwebs.

I've been writing. A lot. Eighteen pages in four days on my novel, and 2.5 on a short story.

I have meanwhile been studiously avoiding reading the autobiography of the Samurai Susanna, though I'm almost two-thirds of the way through the book. It's perhaps a little unfair of my to judge her work so harshly. After all, today I learned that Susanna Moodie would not drink coffee made in a frying pan.

The practical applications of this information are, obviously, endless. Who doesn't want to know how Susanna Moodie prepared coffee? If a maniac ever puts a gun to my head, and asks me about Susanna Moodie's coffee-drinking habits or suffer death, I'm well prepared.

I am, otherwise, enjoying music:

"I cannot turn my feelings down
Beyond my means to turn my thoughts around
Expressed in every word I will ever speak
Brighter than all the stars combined
More than the waters, Earth, and sky..."


"Find me and follow me through corridors, refectories and files
You must follow, leave this academic factory"
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I think by far the most interesting detail of Susannah Moodie's life is that she carried an ostentious Japanese sword into the forests near Peterborough, to her new log-cabin home. From the description, and from a brief internet search, it sounds like something called "a reverse-handled Tachi sword," a kind of samurai sword.

Which is a great mental image. There's Susannah -- matronly, aristocratic, patronizing, self-absorbed Susannah Moodie in her bonnet and farmwife's skirt -- wielding a giant Japanese sword.

I can see it now:
She pauses in the middle of a maple grove. Something doesn't quite seem right. Cherry blossoms whirl out of nowhere.

Then, suddenly, ninjas -- those ever-present scourge of the Canadian wilderness -- drop out of the maple trees. She's surrounded. Susannah raises her sword, and says, "I will never forgive you." Then she cries, "I will destroy your happiness."

Everything goes dark. Several red slashes cut across the blackness.

The lights come up, and there's Susannah, sole survivor, standing over her defeated enemies in the maple grove, her hair stirred by the wind. A mournful Japanese flute is the only noise, amidst the sombre silence.
Yes, I'm in a weird mood today ^_^


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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