Reviews

The PowerBook – Jeanette Winterson (review)

The PowerbookThe Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A modern day collage of memories, love, philosophy, history and the grit that lies underneath all of us.

That’s my attempt to sum up the novel in a single sentence. What’s it about? Well, the chapters are laid out with headings you will see on a Apple computer (e.g, SEARCH, NEW DOCUMENT, EMPTY TRASH). Even the title is “The PowerBook”, which has the same layout as a MacBook does (i.e. an Apple Mac laptop for the layman). The story line flickers between an entity online called Ali (or Alix) who writes stories for other people for a living, and a love triangle in Paris. A guy who falls in love with two different women on separate occasions.

I read this in spurts over 3 days. Most of the chapters are around 3-5 pages. If you’re prepared for a postmodern story line that hops back and forth leaving some questions unanswered, this may be for you. Perhaps I was too caught up in the swirling metaphors and visceral imagery which, in turn, propelled me to keep reading.

The PowerBook may not answer all your questions on love, and the inner cogs of lovers. However, it’s a beautiful and moving read. I reckon you should give it a go.

If you’re in-love with someone else while you’re reading it…even better!

 

PhilosopherPoet

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Philosophy, poetry

there is a god in my head

there is a god in my head
cold notions scrape against
the cement of the mind

he sways from slumber
with a dark fist

there is a god in my head
voices crawl through cables
neurons heavy with history
synapses
writhe in molten thought

i am the god in my head
emotions scatter in anger
i frighten the fragments
the chaos i sculpt with blind intent
the picture of a weak man
[i refuse to watch]

i brighten timid corners of
my narrow house with the
scalp of a light bulb burning
and the vacant murmur
of callous cutlery

dividing my guilt

 

 

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poetry

cookie cutter

there’s a measure of time
in the cookie cutter
my hands bend
into the silver folds
our parents left us

the playground is punched
into our hearts
into a single shape
we carry onto the fridge

it all begins
in our fingers
it all lies
in the discarded dough
we have yet to touch

 

 

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Thoughts

Lessons in a Letter

Below is a letter I wrote to my boss recently. I’m not normally the type to put personal things in the public domain, however, I thought more people could identify with this. I’ve taken out the names of the people mentioned in order to protect their privacy (as well as my own).

Dear R—–

I remember some time ago my father teaching me a few principles philosophers sculpted. One such philosopher (Immanuel Kant) came up with a theory of Universalization. We both talked about it and nicknamed it “just because”. The way you act, treat people, make decisions, joke, cry, laugh and so on has no rationale behind it. Sometimes the choices we make are born from an inner feeling of “I’m doing this, and acting this way just because.” If one has oiled their psychological cogs in the right way, then plodding along and acting the way you do, is not miraculous because of one life-changing incident, but rather because you have the momentum and courage to be consistent.

I’ve trained many people by now, and a good example of this would be when I see someone knot their brow with frustration when they don’t understand. Many others pull the keyboard towards themselves and hurriedly console the awkwardness. My instinct though, is first to question and then help that person one foot forward, step by step.

I’ve been through many managers in retail and wholesale. I admire your consistency, and your ability to wear your heart out in the open. Despite the stress and pace that retail runs at…I know by the time I have your hand around my shoulder – saying goodbye, or good morning – we’re friends again.

Look I must admit, the other day when you flipped out because I had screwed up an EFT order I felt very ashamed for a while. Perhaps I needed that. Part of me wanted to get angry and lash out, although instead I held it in and went away to do some soul searching. I didn’t expect you to cover my arse with the EFT, or even when I infamously deleted S—— emails. However, you did it because partly that’s what Managers do, they sort out issues.

At the same token I realize I’ve made you dance across a few hot coals from time to time, when there needn’t be coals there in the first place. I am truly grateful for you helping to bring closure and relief to those situations, it means a lot to me. Hopefully, as I mature in the I.T. Industry I’ll make fewer blunders, and create more successes.

Sometimes I battled to convey my emotions out in the open. The reason being I’m a natural introvert. I wanted to say this to you earlier, but I hadn’t managed to summon the courage to say it. A letter is more fitting, I feel. It’s something you can hold in you hand, annotate, and read between the folds of duvet before you sleep.

Whenever you write a letter, there’s a natural part of you questioning yourself saying “Why am I doing this? Is it not a bit much?” It’s a common human feeling to be self-conscious from time to time. If I had to answer that now, I would turn to you and say…

“Just Because.”

Warmly
J———–

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Humour

Truth is female

Truth is female, since truth is beauty rather than handsomeness; this, Ridcully reflected as the Council grumbled in, would certainly explain the saying that a lie could run around the world before Truth has got it’s, correction, her boots on, since she would have to choose which pair – the idea that any woman in the position to choose would have just one pair of boots being beyond rational belief. Indeed, as a goddess she would have lots of shoes, and thus many choices, comfy shoes for home truths, hobnail boots for unpleasant truths, simple clogs for universal truths and possibly. some kind of slipper for self-evident truth. More important now was what kind of truth he was going to have to impart to his colleagues, and he decided not on the whole truth, but instead on nothing but the truth, whig dispensed with the need for honesty.”

– Terry Pratchett (Unseen Academicals)

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Philosophy, Reviews

Rooted

What I find interesting about human nature is the way we break things up. We label, categorize, number, annotate almost unconsciously. To give you an idea of what I mean I will use the simple school playground as an example.

Take any group of kids, and pick them at random (just make sure they’re all the same age, or peers, if you will). Tell those kids to go to school for two months and very soon you will have the divisions you see in any playground. The Prissies, the Sluts, the Jocks, the Geeks, the Academics, the Rappers, the Goths, and the Fat Kid who always steals your lunch. No one tells us to isolate and make these classifications. We simply do it to justify our own self image and to feel ‘rooted’.

 

If you were to look at our ties with other evolutionary species (i.e. cows, mice, apes), we’re only separated by a few chromosomes. In other words we’re barely out of the jungle, so we feel safest in herds, just like any other mamal. Surviving on your own, means you’ll soon get tired and eventually slaughtered by some creature with bigger claws. So as people, we look for similarities and cling to them. Sometimes we’ll even put race aside simply to have peace of mind.

I guess that’s the more pessimistic view on people. We’re not only drawn to similarities due to desperation, the flipside is connectedness or being. Children on the playground will make friends, form close relationships, because commonality gives us a greater sense of being. Don’t forget that the so-called alpha male, is not always a problem. Humans have a natural desire to compete against each other purely to grow wiser and/or more skilled. Comparing and competing may become exhausting if it’s done on an extreme scale, but healthy competition means our sense of being is elevated.

Think of the alpha male this way… If the alpha male never existed, since the beginning of our evolution, do you think the human race would still exist. If we purely fought for our OWN territory and never considered gathering warriors together; is it even logical to ask if we’d still be around? Allow me return to our playground experiment in the meantime.

Prissies, sluts, jocks, geeks, academics, rappers, goths, fat kids. From the list of cliches you’ll notice that one thing is evident (when it comes to categorizing ourselves), every label is there as a result of it’s OWN group of labels. Factors such as IQ, EQ, clothing, physique, music, and hobbies give birth to the cliches the kids turn into. These labels aren’t chosen, but brought about by their desire to ‘be’.

NOTE: I say ‘be’, because being has as many (or even more) facets as a single personality may have.

The child’s desire/yearning/will to ‘be’:

– loved

– nurtured

– challenged

– wounded

– observed by a master of their craft

– accepted

– forgiven

– understood

– heard

– touched (physically or emotionally)

– broken

– lost

I spoke about pain in a few of the words above. I once told my father that “Love isn’t blind, it just doesn’t wear the right glasses”. To expand on that I think we sometimes go through life trying on different pairs of glasses until we find ones that are right for us. If the first few pairs aren’t the right fit, we will experience and have to face our pain through those lenses. Maybe our eyes will change after a year or two and we’ll trundle along in search of a more adequate pair. In time we’ll come to find comfortable ones with a better fit. A pair that goes far enough around the ears, and is clear enough to watch your lovers hair skip over her nose. Then, perhaps, it’s time to put down your book and drift off into a dream.

 

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Philosophy, Thoughts

Porn is not for pussies (The logic in life)

 

 

 

Throw a few heterosexual men together; add a few beers and maybe the odd good looking dame. If you’ve done that the topic of sex is bound to come up one way or the other. It could be you friend bragging about how he ‘nailed’ a certain amount of girls. I’ve had a few friends describe to me their sex lives in the most uncomfortable detail (of course I don’t show this reaction, and pretend that IS how men are supposed to talk.) I’m different from your Joe Soap kind of guy. The reason is I don’t believe that a conversation should include wine, women and motor vehicles. At the same token I can’t say that I’m obsessed with each of the former pieces of conversation. I’m not some religious fanatic who thinks these are all evil either.

 

I’ll take them one by one, alcohol being my first rant. Alcohol is one of those drugs in life that blurs the logic in life. Some people choose to avoid it in its entirety. From one angle, you could say that there’s nothing wrong with an alcoholic because he choosing to ‘inflict’ himself with bouts of drinking (and ultimately blurring the line between his conscious and subconscious mind). Also many people would drink alcohol aren’t alcoholic, such as myself. This is simply because we are aware of the drugs’ negative and possibly abusive effects. For some it’s harder than others, but we learn – with trial and error – to pull in the reins when necessary.

 

Now what about cars? Well, mostly it’s just a hobby and a sport (predominately) men seem to share. Call me a geek, but this is another category I fail to file myself into. I’ve watched enough Top Gear (the British TV series featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May), to throw a few models and makes into the general conversation. I start to get shaky and nervous when there is a petrol-head in the room that starts to talk technical terms such as horsepower, torque, handling not to mention throw in a paragraph of numbers to show he knows his shit. If you talk to me about cars for longer than 30 minutes, without asking my opinion or even throwing in a joke for sympathy’s sake you’ve lost my respect.

 

That’s another thing that fascinates me about men. Way back when…we were cavemen killing animals and trying to prove ourselves as capable and better (i.e. stronger and more bloodthirsty) than the rest of the clan. That little quirk in our chromosomes as kept us humans alive, but also shows its teeth if we are not aware with the way we handle it. When it comes down to racing a car, downing beers, or even earning a large salary I don’t mind competing. However, that’s not the end of the road for men. Along with that caveman chromosome to survive is another one…to conquer three things namely: Food (i.e. to provide for your family), Land (i.e. to have a dwelling to nurture and protect your family) and Women. The concept of choosing only one mate for life is relatively new, if you consider the whole of evolution. However…it doesn’t always work as planned. For example men still have affairs, or mistresses they don’t tell their wives about. If none of the former is true, then a man’s desire to conquer women seems to ‘leak’ out in one other category…

 

…Porn.

 

I spoke about men having a desire to conquer women. I do not mean that we’re all programmed to abuse and regard women as furniture. What I mean is as a man if you’re not conscious enough to form a relationship, and get to know/respect another woman intimately, it’s more likely your male need-to-breed part of your brain is going to be running the show.

 

Back to porn… What I’m trying to say is, at the end of the day, if you watch a lot of porn, you’re sitting on your sofa staring at a countless amount of male equipment. Porn (for a heterosexual guy) is not ONLY about seeing vaginas. Your friends might tell you different, because they are just trying to convince themselves. Even though a few lesbians may excite hetero guys, I’ll bet you that at least 80% of their porn collections have butt naked men in them. This is not because they have any gay tendencies. Realistically, if you want to watch a woman come, only another hetero guy can do it in a way that will excite you. Lesbians approach sex differently. So at some point a strap-on will never provide the same feeling and climax as the real deal. If you watch porn frequently…you do this purely to catch glimpses of a small little girl pretending this kind of thing, really excites her. I don’t give a shit about her actual age. Once upon a time when enough psychological forces (i.e. emotional and sometimes physical abuse) propelled her into a barrage of penises…she was still a girl. I also wonder does this girl really enjoy, the hot cum of five different men, painting her face? Does this act truly make her soul (or inner being) come alive?

 

To be honest I’d rather take this girl (regardless of how intellectually shallow she may be), and go to an art gallery. We’re still enjoying the act of people painting, although the process has cooled by now. No one is guiltily washing away the mess they were wallowing in, or even considering it a mess in the first place. An artist, who paints on a canvas, loves the stains of the oils left in her shirt. Sometimes she’ll turn her hand into a painting, just for one day, to see if it suits her. She is willing to create a mess, embrace the chaos, and swim with the variables. The major difference is she isn’t coerced into being an artist because she feels overwhelmed with life and needs to forget. The painting, careful planning, helping others, and the irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment are her motivating factors for engaging in this past time. Artists are often referred to as being influenced by the Muse. This is simply a mythical creature we say exists, to try and quantify the source of our inspiration.

 

I feel that watching porn for an extended period of time is just another reason to blur the logic of life. I know I’m getting a little repetitive so let me put it another way to you. It prevents us from staying conscious. My father is a philosopher, and I remember him introducing to me a while ago the theory of consciousness.

 

Initially when I heard the word I thought he was referring to my physical health. After all, that’s most probably the first place I heard the word while watching an episode of E.R. or Gray’s Anatomy. The philosophical definition of consciousness is a lot more than keeping the blood in your body. What it means (in a nutshell, since this is one huge topic) is to keep yourself ‘aware’ and continue to live despite the pain we face looking beneath the surface of our psychology. You see we’re all human, we all have religion, family, addictions, hobbies, passions and emotions. The biggest challenge we face is to juggle all these factors, and still continue to see the logic of life.

 

I think of myself as being at a horserace. I’m not a spectator, a jockey, or even a model (wearing something that breaks twenty minutes after the cameras regard you as ‘sexy’). I see myself as the horse, galloping ahead. I can feel the weight of the jockey’s fat arse, his stinging crop; i can smell the acrid dust burning my nostrils. I hear the squeal of last-minute-betters, and yet I continue to churn up the dirt. If you live and embrace a life according to Consciousness, then you’re prepared to plod along. Sometimes a glamorous outcome (like winning a horse race), will put aside the dirty details involved in its accomplishment. Some details we know, some we’re aware of, others will never cross our minds…but that’s ok.

 

Being conscious doesn’t mean you have to control every facet, and force around you either. Sometimes you may simply have to watch a few lives pulse and peter out into the horizon. If you can see the warm and solid hand of the sun – holding your gaze – you’re damn lucky you had the guts to stand up see it. Maybe one day we’ll be able to stand on the horizon, and learn to understand the struggles of our human condition.

 

PhilosopherPoet

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