Head, meet Heart. Heart, this is Head

April 30, 2008

I am not a head person, or a heart person, or a blended head/heart person. I am a person, my head is over here where I can see it and occasionally make use of it, and my heart is behind it somewhere in the shadows waiting to jump out and vomit emotions all over me. So I may well be a crazy person, but only in that twee ‘gosh I’m just insane’ way and not in a serious mental illness way.

Perhaps it stems from years of being called ‘such a sensible girl’ or the odd passivity of the household I was raised in. Outwardly I think I am composed, reasonable, and often say clever things. This probably comes off as aloof and big headed though strangely knowledgeable. My reserved nature in childhood wasn’t through any virtue of being sensible but from chest crushing anxiety. I wasn’t too clever to do stupid things, just too afraid. So I developed an analytical front, a way of processing the world into something I could easily understand and therefore not have to be anxious about.

Which was all going so well until sex got involved. I was not overly anxious about sex, having studied it both mechanically and in Cosmopolitan, but the men that came with… well there is no training for that. They liked to be listened to, and agreed with; they liked to advise me on what to look like which I foolishly endorsed by asking and trying to satisfy their imagined ideals. Any hurt I should have been feeling about this was pushed down beneath the rationalisation that I loved them and therefore it must be natural that I try to please them, to excite them by fulfilling their wants and desires. Also my old friend anxiety was still there, encouraging my self-destruction further by implying that I could lose these men I supposedly loved if I were to ignore their wants and desires.

In fact, not only were most emotions and reactions suppressed, but where was Head in all this? I actually find it embarrassing to think of how I allowed myself to be mistreated for so long. I’m not a stupid person and yet I allowed myself to be hammered into a new shape to suit someone else’s tastes. This was a long time ago but I think I still have dents.

And so to the happy ending right? Well I do live with a man I love who I don’t believe would try to hammer me. But I still have dents. There are ways in which I still behave as if he is trying to control me, as if his opinions should count for more than mine. And he’s not doing it, it’s all me. I have these learnt behaviours that Head has been programmed to think would show consideration and Heart panics and anxiety comes back. Or maybe it’s the other way, Heart panics so Head takes charge and tries to fix the situation by walking into a wall repeatedly. Bless Head, it tries so hard and is so thoroughly confused when despite all its hard work Heart still starts to cry.

So Head and Heart need to reconcile somewhat. Head needs to stop being so bullheaded crashing about everywhere and Heart needs to speak up a bit more. Heart tells Head that arts and crafts make it happy, so Head helps by making designs and concentrating. Head likes to read clever books and think about them. It sounds like I live in sheltered accomodation for the mentally/emotionally disturbed. I actually live and work in busy cities. I’ve only got shelter on the inside, which is really what I always had, but it’s starting to exist in the outside world too. Perhaps that is part of the reason why having a room of one’s own is so important.

When am I?

April 29, 2008

Due to some kind of crazy internet timing system that somehow escapes my understanding my previous entry, made yesterday afternoon, has been marked with today’s date. I’m not going to stress over it as it’s close enough, and as long as the posts stay chronological it’s really no big deal.

To open up the question in a more philosophical vein: what does now really mean in context? I’m currently reading a collection of women’s letters that spans the last 800 years and it mentioned the tradition of women writing about women’s novels from previous eras. It occured to me that I have never really considered that although I have full access to all that has gone before I assume that history happened in isolated nuggets. Which is wrong. Ok I’m not a total dumbass: it actually occured to me just before christmas when I was wikipeding some of my favourite authors and influencers, only to discover that they in turn had been influenced by what had come before them. I started to wonder how far you would have to trace this back to discover the origins of certain ideas.

Letters, that strange and seemingly obsolete communication medium, have been making a prominent appearance in my mind of late. Before the above mentioned collection I was reading a book called Virginia Woolf’s Women which featured a large number of extracts from letters both to, from and about dear Ginia. Letters used to be much admired (probably before VW’s time) and passed around to show the skill of the writer. This has been lost now but our culture still has a keen thirst for gossip and voyeurism as quenched by our disturbing media who frequently seem to miss the point. I was even more upset than usual by the Daily Mail website today when they ‘paid tribute’ to actor Kris Marshall after he was injured in a car accident by publishing a picture of him being scraped off the road by paramedics. Sad and grim. I guess this type of thing has taken the place of the public execution.

But anyway, back to things about me. As I have no assignment at work this week (going to work for no reason being the bane of my existence) I have been trawling teh interwebs and my find of the week is etsy.com the craft shop website. My new hobby of cross stitch (don’t laugh) that I started about a month ago is working out rather well, but as I am almost finished with my first project it struck me that after a while I’m going to have a massive pile of things I’ve made and only so much space left on the ceiling. So perhaps I might sell things. I’d have to make a good few more before I could make a shop, and I’m sure BFF will stiff me for one before I’m allowed any kind of profit. But yes, although profit may seem to be the enemy of creativity it does give me something to work towards and perhaps even a few pennies to go in the ‘one day I will own property’ fund.

The point at which my random ramblings intersects is this: what if I wrote a short story in the form of some letters and sold it as a work of art on etsy? I have always had a strong feeling that words and art were intertwined, hence my passion for William Blake and cross stitching phrases, and decorating words and writing on pictures seems to be the only way in my mind to show all the things I want to show. Seeing some of the things on etsy, particularly illustrated poems made up as booklets, and seeing that they sell well gives me a little hope that I could do something like that too. I probably wouldn’t be as successful as I am out of practice and outside the USA so my shipping costs would be higher but there is hope nontheless.

Grindhouse reaction: with a side of tasty spoilers

April 28, 2008

Disclaimer: I considered WWVD when debating with myself whether to write about this, and concluded that she wrote reviews for newspapers to earn money in her youth so it must be ok. When I get comfortable with the name I don’t think this type of question will occur to me any more.

I’m guessing I’m one of about 200 British people who actually got to see the Rodreguez/Tarantino collaboration Grindhouse in its original double feature format. I cannot believe they tried to chop this up! That kind of censorial violence is far more offensive than anything contained in the movie. The project was designed from the start to be a single movie in two parts, a send-up and homage of the writer/directors’ favourite genre of exploitation movies. Actors and characters blurred the lines of reality by appearing in both films, as they would have done in the seventies when they were churned out in batches. In seperating the two parts you lose three quarters of the magic and charm lovingly instilled here.

I skirt the edges of the feminist blogosphere and I have read reviews going both ways about this movie (or the bits that were made available). Yes, on the one hand the star of Planet Terror is a go-go dancer who spends a third of the movie without a shirt on and Death Proof features the grizzly deaths of a group of young women. On the other hand, our dancer Cherry is an engaging character. She cries when she dances, the lacks the confidence to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. After being attacked, losing a leg, and almost being molested she comes in to her own, decides to take shit no more, saves the day, and becomes matriarch of a colony of survivors. She totally wins the movie! True, she also provides the T&A, but it’s an exploitation movie in a loving piss-take of the genre. She loses a leg but there is no grotesque lingering on her being brutalised in a torture-porn way – the scene is actually very brief and in keeping with the light comedic mood of the movie.

What seems to have been overlooked in the few reviews I’ve read is the relationship between female doctor Dakota and that Fergie from Black Eyed Peas. Fergie is on her way to pick up Dr D and her son when she is waylaidby the Infected. Dr D’s husband finds out and gets all nasty, creepy and threatening because his wife is cheating on him. Dakota and Fergie’s relationship is accepted as a complete, meaningful, real relationship. Our supporting actress, with substantial role, is playing a legitimate bisexual character and nobody seems to have noted how awesome this is. The two women were not sexualised (they don’t appear on screen together) or deridedand their relationship was in no way implied to be less meaningful because it was between two women, one of whom was also interested in men. How many bisexual characters do you ever see anywhere? (Apart from in Torchwood which doesn’t count because it’s crap. This opinion does not affect my chasmous love for the doctor.)

So there I was, already pretty pleased with Planet Terror (and the excellent cake served in the Electric Cinema) when we had some spoof trailors. There was one before Planet Terror for the hilarious looking ‘Machete’ but that’s actually going to be a film now so I’ll look out for that later.Most of the spoof trailors pleased me muchly. But then Eli Roth came and pooed in my partyhat. Eli Roth, in my humble opinion, is a bit of a tosser who has a facination with hurting vaginas. He’s just across the line when it comes to nasty, and given my enjoyment of the rest of the show that is by no means a puritanical line. He did a fake trailor called Thanksgiving, and the parts that left me uncomfortable were the shot of a cheerleader about to land in the splits onto a knife, and the body of a woman made up to look like a roast turkey with a trumpet coming out the crotch. Why, Eli, why? What did vaginas ever do to you? As the king of torture porn I should have expected nothing less but still, that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I would question what sort of women would befriend or have relationships with a man like him but even Bernard Manning had a wife…

So after a distasteful piece of asshattery from Mr Roth the main feature continued. The benefit of seeing the Grindhouse version is that the ‘missing reel’ gag saves you the potential discomfort of having to see the lapdancing scene. What struck me most about Death Proof was how quickly Tarantino can make you care about a group of characters. Getting half an hour in to a 90 minute movie and killing off most of the cast is bold but Tarantino’s skill of writing and portraying friendships really pulls it off. The crux of the feminist argument against this movie is that so many women had to die before other women could get revenge but I believe it was necessary to show how far Stuntman Mike goes to get his kicks. He doesn’t just drive a foolish woman off into the woods and kill her quietly: he has the arrogance and faith in his death proof car to think that he can get away with killing five women at once without getting in trouble for it. We have to see that otherwise the revenge might look too extreme. The revenge, incidently, was fantastically enjoyable, and once again the women win the movie.

So thus concludes my reaction to Grindhouse. It’s a shame they didn’t release it properly in the cinema here – I think it would have done fantastically well and I can’t imagine why it didn’t in America considering it’s based on an American cultural icon. Perhaps it needed to fail in the cinema in order to achieve true cult status in years to come; after all, if everyone’s seen it it doesn’t really count, does it?

What would Virginia do?

April 28, 2008

A new day, a bright shiny rain-freshened monday, a new blog. Not since the heady heydays of LiveJournal around two years ago have I taken to writing for internet consumption. By migrating to Facebook I believe that we now get all the advantages of LJ with none of the drawbacks of actually having to write things that people may take offence to. That was actually why I stopped LJing – people starting rumours based on things they were inferring from my posts. But nevermind that. Now I am a new person.

The title and user name refers to Virginia Woolf, for whom I am a total fangirl. I expect if she were a twentysomething now she would be a sharp-witted and internationally reknowned blogster. What she would have written about in a modern context I have no idea.