felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I was greatly disappointed by Timothy Findley's Pilgrim. I had high hopes for it -- I mean, how could you go wrong with Findley writing a magic realism piece about Carl Jung? He's a great craftsman, and it's great material.

The first fifty and last hundred pages were excellent -- pity that it's a 520-page book. The middle is a sandwich of Findley's usual obsessions -- bad fathers, bad psychiatrists, bad fathers, bad psychiatry, bad fathers, World War I, bad husbands, and bad fathers.

We've seen it all before. He did it much better in Headhunter, The Wars, and Famous Last Words. This mixes those three books together into a rather unsatisfying glop.

Also, the spirit of Leonardo of Vinci probably prefers his portrayal in the Da Vinci Code to Findley's version of him.

I can't say I'm used to straight authors portraying homosexual men as monstrous rapists of children and adults, or particularly grotesque johns and sugar daddies. But from a gay author like Timothy Findley -- who spent the last 51 years in what was by all accounts a happy marriage and artistic collaboration writer Whitehead -- it'd be nice to have, say, one gay character who didn't read like a propaganda pamphlet from the religious right.

At least his Oscar Wilde wasn't that vile.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I just thought I'd pop in to wish a Happy Lughnassadh to all those who observe it ^_^

I'm very slowly getting caught up on LJ again. Mostly I've been wrapped up in writing, in work, in Timothy Findley. I tried Psychonauts today -- I saw it at [livejournal.com profile] node357's -- and it deserves its reputation.

Er, yes -- how about ancient Roman Graffiti from the city of volcano-buried Pompeii.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, first day of my vacation from school, I've taken it very easy. I've written about four and a half pages with more on the way, read a little Carl Jung. There's snow outside. Add a little green tea or white chocolate, and this day would be perfect ^_^

I'm a man of fairly simple pleasures.

Writing is going well. The runaway background-writing in my novel continues. I have about thirty pages on my main character's background which, unfortunately, is better written, more exciting, more poetic, and generally more interesting than the rest of the novel -- some of it is some of the best stuff I've read, much less written, and since I generally have a much lower opinion than others about my work, I have high hopes for it.

Weird thing was that dozens of characters stitched themselves perfectly together in hours, out of whole cloth, and one of them is one of the most interesting ever. And thing is, he's not based on anyone I've met.

Timothy Findley has compared writing to schizophrenia, because both involve listening to different voices. The difference between a hack writer and a good writer is that the hack creates characters, and the good writer's characters are born -- or summoned.


Those of you who watch [livejournal.com profile] montrealais's journal probably have seen this, but it looks like the Libs are up to their usual dirty tricks. They have an election commercial where they have "average Canadians" explaining why they're voting Liberal. All of them work for the Liberal Party or Canada or have close ties to the party.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I'm so sick of postmodernism -- I know anybody reading this journal is probably sick of my being sick of PoMo.

Today I read a particularly vile piece of trash called "'Singing Our Way Out of Darkness': Findley's Anti-Censorship Argument in Headhunter." It's a Postmodern treatment of it, and I've never seen the Postmodern hypocrisy laid more bare.

Starting with Stanley Fish's book there's No such thing As Free Speech, and It's a Good thing, too, Mark Cohen makes a typically PoMo assault on "liberal values" (Linda Hutcheon, bearer of the sacred flame of Postmodernism since Michel Foucault died, takes "liberal values" as one of her favourite targets as well).

From the conclusion:

An overly rigid adherence to an absolute anti-censorship position is what causes liberals, often to their own consternation and clearly to the detriment of their societies, to support the right to free expression of the most heinous of hate-mongers and pornographers. As with most difficult moral issues in our society, the blind application of principle must give way to judgement. Judgement based on tests [Whose tests? Cohen's?], such as the one measuring the risk of harm [How do you measure the harm caused by a book? Maybe if it's thrown...], should be exercised in order to draw lines in a wise manner across a spectrum of menace.
Well, Cohen, you've convinced me. I'm going to start going out and burning books right now. Starting with all your work. And Fish's. And Foucault's...

Honestly, does censorship ever work? Canada's gay and lesbian bookstores are being eaten up by the cancer that is Canada Custom's obscenity rules -- rules supported by academics who suggested certain kinds of books were harmful. Has the banning of hate literature actually stopped hatred? Did the fatwa on Salman Rushdie bring an end to his career? How many people had never heard of Rushdie before the Ayatollah dropped the world's biggest bit of advertising into his lap?

And why is it that so many of my favourite books always make those 100-most-challenged books lists?

On another subject, I was still hoping for a bit of feedback on this paragraph, here. It's a protected entry, so you have to be logged on to see it...
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

Well, I took to the streets with thousands of others in ice cold-temperatures (oh, the irony) in support of the Kyoto Accord on global warming. Organizers were expecting only 15000, but Ken Hechtman, who's pretty much in a protest march every other week and has been for decades, says that he could see about 50000 to 60000 people, and parts of the march disappeared off the horizon at either end. All this in minus-4 degrees celsius and a bitter wind.

I marched as part of the NDP. The federal Green Party were there as well, and they kept trying to get in front of us. They're just pissed, I guess, because Greenpeace gave our party better marks than them for eco-policy, and that's supposed to be their one issue.

(Of course, Jack Layton's spent the last 20 years of his career fighting for alternative energies and ecologically clean cities, and the federal Greens have gone over to "eco-friendly business" models, so it's no surprise we're leaving them in the dust, as it were, on environmentalism.)

Oh, and on the subject of the election, the Conservatives keep tripping themselves up. First they re-opened the same-sex marriage debate, and then Harper couldn't bring himself to say he loved Canada (everyone knows love is the only thing that can destroy Harper). Today he announced he'd get tough on drugs, and would not decriminalize marijuana. Because, you know, the War on Drugs has really worked in the US...


I collected about 40 articles on Timothy Findley, and I have about 48 hours to become an expert on Carl Jung, or at least those aspects of Jung I need for my essay due on Thursday. Towards that end, I'm reading Alchemical Studies, which deals with the sorts of ideas Findley is working on.

I feel the same way about Jung's stuff as when I dabbled in it years ago -- it feels intuitively true. Like reading John Ralston Saul's stuff, it feels like I'm reading something I always felt, and could never articulate. I wish I had time to go over it properly.

I'd like to bring more Jung into English Lit. Every second critic I read talks about Freud as if he's prophet spouting truth, and Jung is a marvellous antidote. Besides, Findley is obsessed with Jung. Not only did he write a novel with Jung as a major character (Pilgrim), but Headhunter starts with a quote from Jung.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Essays for the University of LaPuta, Queer Tax Returns, and Sadomasochistic Housework )


Funny how an unhappy carton that sums up your own rotten mood can actually make you happy. My friend Sean put this one online at just the right moment for me. Been trying to turn it into an LJ icon, but it never comes out looking right:

felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

For those of you who don't follow the news, the Liberal government fell at 7:09 pm tonight. That means we are in election mode. The precise date of the election has yet to be set, but it will likely be mid- to late January.

At this point, the results are anybody's guess. The Liberals are going into it with a slim lead, and the NDP has picked up points. With an extra-long election and too many factors to count, we could be looking at either Prime Minister Martin or Harper, and the Conservatives or the Liberals or the NDP as Opposition. Actually, the Bloc as Opposition isn't impossible.

Naturally, it's crucial that all of us vote -- or at least all of us who are fighting against Harper the kind of far-right, pro-corporate, pro-fundamentalist politics he represents. There are no excuses not to cast a ballot -- it takes 10 minutes, it's right near the home, there's more than one day you can do it on, and you're legally allowed time off work to do it.

Personal Stuff

Overshadowed by the affairs of nations, I hit a personal milestone today. Two days ago, I reported that I had beat my previous record of 11 pages written in a single day on my fiction -- I made it to 12. Today I made 13. I've shattered my record twice in one week. I expect to hit 200 pages total on this novel tomorrow.

I also finished Headhunter. Marvellous in every single detail. I was pleasantly surprised by the ecological and political themes creeping in by the end. There's also an anti-postmodernist thread throughout the whole book, which I like. But mostly it's just a very fun (though very dark read).

I'm now allowing myself a little Yami no Matsuei time before I get to my other tasks.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I woke up very late this morning since I spent half the night reading Headhunter. I'd gotten to a scene I just couldn't put down -- Marlow's conversation with Austin Purvis, two-thirds of the way through, for those who've read it.

The novel has gotten quite disturbing, but in a good way. Cathartic may be the better word. Part of his argument is that a good novel can be a form therapy, and it does feel oddly therapeutic to read Headhunter. But Aristotle knew more than 2000 years ago that pity and horror can purge an audience of its own inner demons. It's as much true now as it was then.

In a much lighter vein, this is the second time I've seen this virtual Thanksgiving card from American Greetings -- the strangest card in any format I've ever known.

I can only conclude from it that either American Greetings has been infilitrated by vegetarians hoping to put an end to the annual turkey-slaughter, or that the company is trying to corner that small but vital niche market made up of people who desire to feast on the flesh of Gloria Gaynor.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
On the downside, I am ill. On the plus side, I am reading Timothy Findley again, now that I've finished The Great Gatsby.

Still, there must be better states to read Findley in than lightheaded and nauseous.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So, I went to the Homo Hop last night -- first dance I've gotten to in years. I was hanging out with a lot of great people, and it was a lot of fun in spite of most of the music. Whatever happened to music genres other than hip hop? I'm old enough to remember them.

I ran into quite a few people I knew, including a guy who was "straight" last time I saw him ^_^

My writing's slowed down a tad. I've only been able to manage 4-5 pages a day because of all my reading. I had to interrupt Headhunter to re-read The Great Gatsby -- which is a great book, but interrupting a marvellous book for a great book is still a little depressing. I have to give a glorified book report on The Great Gatsby on Tuesday.

When I last left it, Headhunter had begun to shift from dark comedy to actual horror. Not tentacled-monster-hiding-in-the-closet horror but purely human and creepily realistic stuff. I'm still not halfway through.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So yesterday, I reached one of the funniest moments ever to appear in a novel. For those who haven't read Headhunter I won't spoil it. For those of you who have: the funeral, the black silk Balenciaga dress. 'Nuff said. That shall be permanently etched upon my memory.

Yesterday, I kept passing buildings -- shopping centres, banks, churches -- occupying space that could so much better used to construct shrines to Timothy Findley. Why haven't we diefied him yet?
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
One of Timothy Findley's characters on what literature is:
These characters drawn on the page by the makers of literature ... are distillations of our thwarted selves. We are their echoes and their shadows. They move us through our muddied lives at a clarified pace. What we cannot describe, they articulate. What we cannot imagine, they reveal. What we cannot endure, they survive.
We need a word in English for when someone first articulates what you've always felt.

In other news, the Catholic church was so afraid about our rally protesting anti-abortionist, anti-queer group Québec Vie that they decided not to host Québec Vie's conference at the Oratoire St-Joseph. Instead, Québec Vie decided to bus over to a Protestant church in Pierrefonds.

Since Pierrefonds is impossible to reach, especially at that hour -- it's the part of Island of Montreal marked on maps "Here There Be Dragons," and I've yet to see proof it exists -- the protest march seemed to be going nowhere in particular when I ducked out of it. Still, it's always a good day when you've terrified the Catholic Church :)
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)
Best opening line ever:

On a winter's day, while a blizzard raged through the streets of Toronto, Lilah Kemp inadvertently set Kurtz free from page 92 of Heart of Darkness.
It's the beginning of Timothy Findley's Headhunter, the story of a schizophrenic who may or may not have the power to bring characters from books to life.

In other news, it has been a very long time since I've had a streak of writing like the current one. I wrote almost 9 pages last night, and have averaged 7 or 8 pages all week.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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