img.latex_eq { padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; }

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

For ---

Here’s fourteen lines on impulse – like the way

we hide beneath your jacket in the rain

and find that, since we have the chance today,

I might as well be kissing you again.

This one’s for friendship; this, for pleasant lust.

This one’s for luck, and this one is for trust.

We tell each other secrets, you and I,

and still can look each other in the eye.

So sit down here beside me on the grass,

and never mind the mud, and take my hand,

and kiss me on the mouth, for time will pass

and things won’t always go the way we planned,

but sometimes we find serendipity ­–

I hope, for now, you find it here with me.

(You are reading this, aren't you? Hope you don't mind.)

Monday, 7 July 2008


Our last book but one for the Nonbelieving Literati was A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. Having read that and rather liked it, I pulled Orlando off the library shelves a while back, took it into a cafe and began to read.

I loved it, I swooned over it, I laughed with delight. It's one of my favourite books ever, I think, particularly the first half, where the title character is male. Orlando is known, among other things, for the unabashed lesbianism in the second half. That's all very well, and I appreciated it for the ground-breaking daring that it was, but to me, it was passages like this that really stood out:

The King was walking in Whitehall. Nell Gwyn was on his arm. She was pelting him with hazel nuts. ‘Twas a thousand pities, that amorous lady sighed, that such a pair of legs should leave the country.

Howbeit, the Fates were hard; she could do no more than toss one kiss over her shoulder before Orlando sailed.

Now, really! Oh, some may say that Orlando's legs may only be sighed over because he is somehow androgynous. Some may call the fact that Orlando is an object of desire a mere foreshadowing of his eventual femininity. Not I.

There is no denying it. I'm afraid I'm heterosexual.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate . . .

There's many a fictional version of Shakespeare who has written that poem to some beautiful leading lady of the story; we love to wonder who could inspire such verse. In truth, however, it's probable that this famous sonnet was written to a young man -- and to me, this is a lovely thought. I've seen a few men I'd love to apply it to, men with sunshine in their smiles and a sloppy grace to their form. Shakespeare's eighteenth sonnet is more than just a superlative love poem. It's a rare literary glimpse of the beauty than men can have.

I'm not sure that I love men in the way that men want to be loved. I wouldn't mind loving women. It might be as much easier in some ways as it would be harder in others. It's just that when it comes down to it, I'd much rather compare a man to a summer's day than a woman. Not every man wants to hear that.

Hush, now, don't say it too loud, but men are beautiful. It's one of the best-kept secrets of all time.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

He really should have had a blog.

This post is for the Nonbelieving Literati and refers to Voltaire's Zadig.

Voltaire should have had a blog. Look at him, right there on the page, Mister Magpie Mind himself in fits and starts and 'and thens', in conceits and delights slopped messily onto the page with very little editing. Make that no editing at all. He'd have been right at home in the blogging world, being witty and sarcastic and off-the-cuff with the best of them. I'd love to read Voltaire's blog. Wouldn't you?

I laugh, almost, at the way that nothing that happens is Zadig's fault. It seems disingenuous to me, almost tongue-in-cheek. "Oh please, good sirs, I acted with the purest of intentions!" I can't shake off the feeling that Voltaire is sitting inside the page laughing at us, protesting his own innocence when he knows his own tongue was downright wicked at times! It's conceit, I tell you, pure careless conceit, and I don't think Voltaire cares who knows it. There is a liberation in it, a sort of permission to love yourself with wry honesty and accept that, deep down, you're rather partial to yourself. Now, aren't you? Admit it.

Zadig might be the character Voltaire would like to be, cheerful and rational in the face of adversity, penetrating but still diplomatic, conveniently following a course of events that demonstrates everything Voltaire feels like demonstrating. Time and again, science and rationality triumph in the hands of Zadig -- as does the notion of a more abstract Supreme Being, a Creator that does not depend on petty religious details.

It's not an easy story to follow; basically one thing happens after another and that is very nearly it. You could break it up into small pieces and maybe enjoy it more. Indeed, while reading it, I found the best way to enjoy it was simply to enjoy the moment and not care about the mess it made as a whole. No doubt it would also be easier to understand if you were reading it at the time it was written, because there are plenty of references that no longer make sense.

So, yes. It would have been better as a blog. Oh, but I thought it was fun for all that.


Apologies for my long absence. The closer I get to leaving, the more urgent this real world over here feels. I've found my passport. I've told the guy I like that I like him (He does not quite return the same sentiment, alas, but at least I've said it). I'm supposed to visit my dear old gran, and buy my sisters birthday presents, and I still have paperwork to fill out, and -- well. It's not for a couple of months, yet, but it feels awfully close.