30 questions tag

well, i modified it a little, so it’s actually 28. ibby tagged me on tumblr & i’m crazy busy at the moment, so this is the quickest & dirtiest post ever.

Nickname(s): will calls me a tube of fucking custard about twice a day if that counts

Sign: in jo’s words, i’m a leo-cusp cancer with a very flamboyant mercury, & oh, it shows

Height: 5″5

Time: 09:05

Fave band(s): neutral milk hotel, the real tuesday weld, nick cave & the bad seeds

Fave solo artist(s): emily jane white, regina spektor, david bowie

Song stuck in my head: evanescence/lindsay stirling’s ‘hi-lo’ (it’s really good!)

Last movie I saw: the lost boys

Last show I watched: the x-files

When did I create my blog: in 2015, mostly to contain the overflow of my towering supernatural obsession

What do I post: now, book stuff, blathering about films/tv, personal crap, & i’m trying to post some original fiction too!

Last thing I googled: ‘american cereal brands’. underneath that, ‘how long to burn a human body’.

Do I have any other blogs: an old spn tumblr that i haven’t looked at since 2016, another tumblr i quit a year or two ago that was mostly aesthetics.

Why did I choose my url: when i started this blog, i was writing a novel whose working title was ‘the cobweb queen’. it’s not, like, my weird kingpin name or whatever.

Following: about 400?

Followed by: 255!

Average hours of sleep: at the moment, six, because i keep getting woken up by the fucking dawn chorus

Lucky number: 22

Instruments: clarinet & piano

What I’m wearing: spn/starry night t-shirt, black shorts, ankh necklace, velvet choker, lace gloves

Dream job: Actual Published Author

Dream trip: just drifting around europe- i want to see venice & rome in particular, & i want to go back to the south of france. or that american road trip i’ve been dreaming about for years. i nearly applied for a semester abroad in new orleans, actually, but it’d’ve messed up our plans for domestic bliss at house edric.

Fave food: peanut butter!

Nationality: british

Fave song: two-headed boy pt. 1

Last book I read: a truman capote short story collection

Top 3 fictional universes I’d join: the gormenghast trilogy, neverwhere, the ghibli howl’s moving castle

tagging: i’m going to be lazy & say anyone who wants to

anyway, i need to go make myself presentable for a family lunch outing, so i’ll be back with more nerd crap & irrelevant moaning soon!

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writing hell redux

so naturally as soon as something actually clicks in re: A Certain Project my laptop starts being A GIGANTIC PIECE OF ASS

& okay that is partially my fault for knocking a moses sea of water on the keypad yesterday but you know what isn’t my fault? the fact that last night it spontaneously decided to go into flashing purple lockdown mode to install one hundred & sixty-nine system updates! which have as of this moment taken sixteen! goddamned! hours!

hence why i’m posting this from my mother’s mac (I haven’t actually figured out how to scroll down yet, yes, hello, i am a cretin). i have no access to my project notes (yes, a cretin who forgets to back up) so i can’t even write the damn thing in a notebook unless i take the heathen road & skip ahead to write whatever random scene & that’s not really how i operate

just. technology oh my GOD how am i such a dinosaur i’m supposed to be gen z or something

in other news, it turns out that in first semester i made a spotify account whilst drunk. i’m guessing this is why my username is ‘green olive muncher’.

‘can you tell me whether my name at least shows up or whether i am just green olive muncher,’ i pleaded with jo.

‘you are just green olive muncher,’ jo said.

‘oh dear.’

so, yeah, i’m the last person in the western world to discover spotify. i’ve been listening to a lot of regina spektor & nick cave & the bad seeds. mostly writing to bohren’s midnight radio,which is perfect for the grimy nocturnal world of my current thing. i’m also obsessively in love with this beautiful fucking cover of i follow rivers:

i’m meant to be at ibby & eliza’s for a write-a-thon in, whoops, about seven minutes, so i may use the whole laptop debacle as an excuse to get on with that short (?) story idea. if i do i might excerpt it here. i’d like to get some prose out.

writing hell update

so, for whatever reason, A Certain Project is DOING MY HEAD IN

i am hopelessly behind on my wordcount, i can’t seem to find my way out of a Maze of Plot, & i keep breaking off to mope over southern gothic inspo tags & listen to doom jazz

(on the other hand the sun is shining & ibby & i are having a sci-fi marathon on tuesday & i have a short story idea involving old bookshops/stigmata/scary flat-eyed men that i am ITCHING to write IF A CERTAIN PROJECT WOULD LET ME)

(yes of course i could take a break & write the other thing but honestly i need to listen to my Vague Feelings of Obligation in re: writing things because otherwise i would never get anything writ)

anyway that’s my entire life at the moment i have thrown everything else out of the window for THIS GODDAMN PROJECT

hURGH

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pictured: the evolution of a killer

flip-flops & globs & hares, oh my!

-i write this sitting on a rock in the arse-end of nowhere. i actually got lost half an hour ago & ended up in some kind of farming metropolis, surrounded by agitated horses. but all is well; i am now enthroned in state upon a shapely rock, looking out at the valley. i think the purple flip-flops were a rash choice of footwear, though.

-so far my home-for-the-summer status is strictly theoretical. i think i’ve spent more time haunting ibby’s house, wandering the woods, facing down zenwriter among the dust motes & sunbeams of the library, than actually at home. all this going outside has put me into a state of being that i have not experienced since the age of ten: reader, i am tanned. it’s wreaking havoc with my whole scruffy impoverished pre-raphaelite aesthetic.

-a large & persistent golden retriever just appeared out of nowhere & disgorged a stream of bubbly slobber all over my rucksack. i wanted to be friends but i think he just wanted my strawberries. so it goes.

-i feel like the last person ever to discover what a fantastic writer hilary mantel is, but i finished wolf hall this morning. i think my favourite thing about it might be the awareness there of a not-quite-banished world just beneath that one, lingering in the grins & sneers of gargoyles, in carved saints, in bowls of milk left out for the fey-folk. in the ghosts whose language is the creaks of rope & floorboard.

-it’s so hot here. in the suburbs you can feel the heat striking up from the asphalt. i’ve been despairing over my wardrobe, which goes black, black, purple, black, maybe a bit of scarlet here & there, you get the picture; i’ve been hacking up old t-shirts with scissors & the result tends to be indecent but pleasantly breezy. i’ve also developed a habit of wandering around barefoot over the past few weeks; occasionally this bites me in the ass, because the pavement gets so hot it actually burns my feet. okay, yes, this predicament would be easily evaded if i put my damn shoes on, but where’s the sense of adventure?

-i’m also the last person ever to watch kenneth branagh’s film of much ado, but so much of it was just spot-on perfection. i laughed so hard during the benedick-‘overhears’-his-frat-bros-gossiping scene that there were tears streaming down my face. i think it was claudio launching into a full on wailing, breast-beating performance that did it. i couldn’t take it. i also LOVED how emma thompson & denzel washington played don pedro basically asking beatrice to marry him. he’s absolutely laying himself on the line- it’s very vulnerable- but he does it so lightly- & she gets this, & i love her response. she makes light of the situation, but she’s gentle about it, she does it in a way that doesn’t shame him. it’s very compassionate. i find it a really touching scene.

-i have finally, finally got round to reading hemingway! i’m about seven chapters into the sun also rises. it’s his first novel & the writing is very good, although there’s something a little too self-consciously ambiguous to it at times. i’m not sure what i’ll read after it- it’s between the thousand autumns of jacob de zoet & the well of loneliness. unless i’m feeling whimsical- in which case who knows.

-i’ve been rewatching season eight of supernatural. the whole amelia thing works so much better than i remember- it’s a difficult & delicate relationship, but there’s a maturity to it, & to the writing. sam is not in a younger brother role here; everyone is an adult; he & amelia are both weary drifters. it’s not nice (& oh boy neither are those colour filters) but it works. & my god- all the sam-dean-benny stuff is so WEIRD- by which i mean that there’s such an absurd jealous love-crossed vibe to the whole thing. they really go for it & everyone is seething & deceiving each other & lying out the wazoo. it’s completely horrible. i’m enjoying it so much.

-okay, so, a fucking hare just came lolloping into the clearing where i’m sitting on my rock-throne. with long graceful back legs & black fur in its ears & it sat up & gave me the most hardass stare you ever saw & then went gambolling off, presumably to bully its family. i’ve never seen a hare before. clearly i am at the centre of a teeming hub of wildlife.

-jo & i communicate through a convoluted system of in-jokes & personal slang that occasionally amounts to our own language. we undertook some artistic collaboration.

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this resulted in her painting these lovely dancy little chaps!

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jo’s selling them as stickers on her redbubble at castle of jo (& her cuttlefish are beautiful too). so, you know, go & buy them if you want your life to be filled with small jumping beans of joy. also to fund our olive habit.

-i’ve been plugging away at A Certain Project for weeks now, & i keep saying that i’m gonna go on one of my 31k-in-twelve-days kicks, but between all my reading- shakespeare in the morning, poetry in the evening, novels wherever i can fit them, plus things like, you know, socialising & exercising & watching stuff- i’ve been getting maybe seven hundred words a day done. i’m going to face the fact that unless i let everything else go out of the window for a fortnight, i won’t get this done. so i’m going to let everything else go out of the window for a fortnight. i’ll try & keep posting- probably little stuff- so that you guys won’t be deprived of my delightful online presence.

-you get no apologies for the title. ‘but isabel, do you have no shame?’ no, & you still get no apologies for the title.

-anyway, my throne is getting distinctly chilly, & i’m a little worried that the next visiting creature of the wild will be a grizzly bear or something, & most significantly i want to watch the joss whedon much ado tonight, so i’m going to attempt to flip-flop the four rocky miles home. pray god that i arrive with my feet still attached.

 

note: isabel did indeed retain her feet, although she arrived home with some exotically placed blisters & a sunburned neck. it moreover turns out that she was trespassing on land belonging to some fancy-ass golf club or other for most of her walk. she advises readers to wear sturdy shoes if they plan to go on extended hikes in the british countryside, & to watch out for friendly animals; the last creature she encountered was not a bear but an extremely willing cat, who ruthlessly exploited her back-scratching skills for a good ten minutes on her way home.

 

 

vathek: screwball grotesquerie

guys. guys. this book is WILD.

the whole thing is basically a sublime farce/orientalist pipe-dream of william beckford. this dude was a fascinating character- an arabian nights-obsessed dreamer with far too much money who extravagantly squandered his youth wandering all over europe having affairs with men, women & demons of all descriptions. his travel books are wonderful, apparently. i’d love to get my hands on one. he was inevitably exiled from english polite society, & ended up sequestering himself to translate arabic manuscripts for years on end.

then he made a public mockery of himself by building this gothic monstrosity, which, i mean, look at it:

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it’s hilarious & over-the-top & it collapsed in 1835. three years after beckford sold it for £300,000. i swear to GOD, william.

anyway, vathek. my edition sums it up as ‘the ruthless caliph vathek’s journey to superb damnation among the subterranean treasures of eblis’. it’s a nasty little fairy tale: the caliph is childish, rapacious, cruel. it’s also very, very funny.

this is mostly because of the hilarously deadpan nature of beckford’s prose. the novel opens thus:

“Vathek, ninth Caliph of the race of the Abassides, was the son of Motassem, and the grandson of Haroun Al Raschid.  From an early accession to the throne, and the talents he possessed to adorn it, his subjects were induced to expect that his reign would be long and happy.  His figure was pleasing and majestic; but when he was angry, one of his eyes became so terrible that no person could bear to behold it; and the wretch upon whom it was fixed instantly fell backward, and sometimes expired.  For fear, however, of depopulating his dominions, and making his palace desolate, he but rarely gave way to his anger.”

full disclosure: i tried reading this several years ago, when i was fourteen or so. somehow, probably due to vague preconceptions about anything written before 1800, the humour completely escaped me & i just felt alienated. this time my cynical eighteen-year-old soul latched right onto it. i was laughing out loud.

one particularly memorable passage comes when vathek, displeased with a man who comes bearing treasure from beneath the earth, literally kicks him out of the palace; the guy, who is some sort of ambiguous demonic creature, rolls up into a ball & just… keeps rolling, as you do. he rolls in his spherical state all around the city, kicked along by vathek & a gathering horde of people, until eventually he rolls up a mountain & off the side of a precipice into an abyss.

“The ball, indeed, in passing from one apartment to another, drew every person after it that came in its way, insomuch that the whole palace was thrown into confusion, and resounded with a tremendous clamour.  The women of the harem, amazed at the uproar, flew to their blinds to discover the cause, but no sooner did they catch a glimpse of the ball than feeling themselves unable to refrain, they broke from the clutches of their eunuchs, who to stop their flight pinched them till they bled, but in vain; whilst themselves, though trembling with terror at the escape of their charge, were as incapable of resisting the attraction.”

it’s so awful & so funny.

but there’s more there than black comedy. overall the novel’s pretty fanciful- it doesn’t take itself enormously seriously- but there’s some very strange & wonderful episodes scattered throughout. a personal favourite of mine is a bit where nourounihar (naive love interest) & gulchenrouz (even more naive pretty boy) are told by their household that they’re dead, & wake by a twilight lake, believing themselves to be in the afterlife:

“She recollected also, that herself and Gulchenrouz had been sick and dying; but all these images bewildered her mind.  Not knowing where she was, she turned her eyes on all sides, as if to recognise the surrounding scene.  This singular lake, those flames reflected from its glassy surface, the pale hues of its banks, the romantic cabins, the bull-rushes that sadly waved their drooping heads, the storks whose melancholy cries blended with the shrill voices of the dwarfs, every thing conspired to persuade them that the angel of death had opened the portal of some other world.”

then there’s a scene that reaches a high baroque level of screwball grotesquerie, where vathek stages a ceremonial procession as a cover for sacrificing the city’s fifty most beautiful young boys to a demon; the machinations of vathek’s mother, carathis, who shouts at vathek whenever he reverts to decadent indolence, which is often; the terrifying underground landscapes of eblis’s halls, eblis being one of the more down-to-earth & restrained characters of those who populate this novel.

eighteenth-century literature can be a tough nut to crack; the only other novels from the period that i’ve read & can think of off the bat are candide (which is brilliant), the vicar of wakefield (which is ghastly), & robinson crusoe (which dickens accurately described as the only universally popular book that has never made anyone laugh or cry). vathek is, obviously, not a conventional novel of the period- it’s probably one of the most out-there books ever written- but there’s an impish quality to the humour & a self-indulgence to the passages of decadence that really got me. i enjoyed the hell out of it.

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rubber ducks & public disgrace

-well, i’m back from uni. nothing to show for it except some superficial soup-making skills, one hundred & twenty-eight new books, & an interestingly shaped scar on my shoulder from running into a tree. first year sure went fast.

-jo, will, lucy & i made sure to carpe the diem (& the noctem, for that matter) very thoroughly in the last few weeks of uni. i spent half the nights sitting on the balcony, writing & watching the stars come out in a pale sky. jo & i attended a reception for the english lit staff & students, where we perhaps took advantage of the free wine a little too thoroughly. this ended with us giving a dramatic & antiphonal recitation of the love song of j. alfred prufrock & me calling jo a gay piece of shit in front of a high-ranking member of the academic staff. there followed several minutes during which we stumblingly explained that i am not, in fact, a giant homophobe, & am, in fact, quite gay. we wobbled back to jo’s block in shame & disgrace.

-we also threw me a fake birthday party. my actual birthday isn’t for another month, but that’s semantics. this was a deeply silly event involving party hats, a caterpillar cake, & tricoloured rubber ducks. will went on a tropical juice errand, charging jo & i to name the ducks in the meantime; they were perforce christened fyodor, clive staples & BOB.

-since coming back i have seen many lovely people & eaten an awful lot of strawberries. a couple days ago i went with my friends ibby & eliza to go see ocean’s eight (i loved it, by the way, it was fun & silly & cate blanchett’s motorbike, cate blanchett’s blue suit, cate blanchett’s hair, just cate blanchett in general, we were all fanning ourselves). it was a tiny, dusty cinema, almost empty, just us & a couple rows of people at the back. the trailers came on; we were rolling our eyes at the trailer for some spy flick when suddenly gillian anderson’s face appeared onscreen. dear reader, the three of us simultaneously yelled out a sort of joyous ‘HURRRRRGH’, so loudly that it blotted out the trailer. everyone in the cinema busted out laughing.

-i’ve been reading richard siken’s poetry collection crush, dearly beloved among spn fans. very, very easy to see why: it belongs to the same iconographic tradition. actually, that’s putting it mildly; there are some startling similarities. dusty roads & moonrise & all sorts of Weird Suppressed Vibes. honestly, i’m losing my shit over it. i can’t wait to get my hands on war of the foxes.

-i also read vathek a few days ago. it was… well. it was messed-up & bizarre & in a weird way one of my favourites of the novels i’ve read lately. i won’t say too much about it bc i’ll probably do a seperate post on it.

-man, it’s strange being back in my old haunts. i climbed the gates to one of my old secondary schools yesterday & had a good look, which made me feel rather ghostly. i’ve mostly been reading, writing, wandering in the woods. i’m glad i’m leaving in august. i’m enjoying myself, but i feel temporary here.

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ada or ardor: love on black wings

so, it’s a love story. it’s a perverse, amoral, self-satirising, deeply romantic & generally iridescent love story.

the premise: a romance between a brother & sister. completely unabashed. given the same narrative treatment as any conventional romance, if you overlook, of course, the plot obstacles presented by the illegality of marrying one’s sibling. &, you know, the fact that the narrator is of course (this being a nabokov novel) a fellow of enjoyably dastardly unreliability.

it’s also a book of layers upon layers. puns in english, russian, french & latin, often snidely half-explained in nabokov’s own notes on the text. there’s a meta element- the novel is written within the novel by van veen, the narrator, & edited by ada veen, his lover/sister, so that every so often- usually after a particularly provocative passage- there’ll be a little [really, van] or [this isn’t how i remember it at all]. then there’s the part where the novel actually takes place in a weird alternate universe called antiterra- i’ll admit this puzzled me for about three hundred pages, during which i did a lot of flicking back & forth wondering why there were cinemas & fast cars when van veen kept repeating, insistently, that the year was 1884, & what the whole deal was with electricity, for that matter (a forbidden topic, it seems, on antiterra).

then there’s a tolstoyish digression on the texture of time, which i found both heavy going & distinctly tongue-in-cheek; the funniest if-you’re-reading-this-it’s-too-late note i’ve ever seen; transgressive sexual weirdness (alternately sumptuous, farcical or coolly ironic) that only seems less shocking than that of lolita because of how casual van veen is about it; & several doctors all mysteriously named rabbit in various languages.

there’s such an imaginative richness to nabokov’s prose, & i’d rather excerpt it than pick it apart. this bit’s from part one, which centres on van & ada’s first summer together.

“In this our dry report on Van Veen’s early, too early love, for Ada Veen, there is neither reason, nor room for metaphysical digression. Yet, let it be observed (just while the lucifers fly and throb, and an owl hoots – also most rhythmically – in the nearby park) that Van, who at the time had still not really tasted the Terror of Terra – vaguely attributing it, when analyzing his dear unforgettable Aqua’s torments, to pernicious fads and popular fantasies – even then, at fourteen, recognised that the old myths, which willed into helpful being a whirl of words (no matter how silly or mystical) and situated them within the gray matter of the star-suffused heavens, contained, perhaps, a glowworm of strange truth. His nights in the hammock (where that other poor youth had cursed his blood cough and sunk back into dreams of prowling black spumas and a crash of symbols in an orchal orchesta – as suggested to him by career physicians) were now haunted not so much by the agony of his desire for Ada, as by that meaningless space overhead, underhead, everywhere, the demon counterpart of divine time, tingling about him and through him, as it was to retingle – with a little more meaning fortunately – in the last nights of a life, which I do not regret, my love.”

i mean, look at that- it cartwheels through parody, wordplay, phantasmagoria, musicality, & ends up half a love letter.

ridiculously, unsurprisingly, i found myself rooting for the ada-van love story. the novel should be an act of moral contortionism, but van, as narrator, brushes the incest pretty much aside, & so any such wrangling is left to the reader. oh, & van is a complete ass, by the way- aggressive & absurd, often thoughtless, sometimes cruel. & passionate, & sometimes even compassionate, & with a dark distinct sense of humour.

ada is a funny one, more impenetrable than van- they share a certain thread of moral bankruptcy, but she seems even dreamier, even more out-of-time than van; arrogant, a little wild, obsessed with orchids & insects. (i love these little passions nabokov’s characters have.) both ada & van are complex, frustrating, funny; they make whimsical references to mansfield park, execute bizarre ploys to lock their little sister up so they can go & bang each other in peace, write each other letters in insanely convoluted codes…

& then there’s lucette, the novel’s ophelia, who might be my favourite character- her plotline is strange & tragic & wonderful & has true moral gravitas, i think. there’s a scene where she & van, meeting for the first time in years, spend hours talking in a dingy bar, & she starts to emerge as someone who could have been good had life not ruined her- one of zweig’s ‘god’s stepchildren who have no hope, but feel that their earthly existence can be justified only by loving and being loved.’ & nabokov lets her talk & talk:

“‘I enjoy- oh, loads of things,’ she continued in a melancholy, musing tone of voice, as she poked with a fork at her blue trout which, to judge by its contorted shape and bulging eyes, had boiled alive, convulsed by awful agonies. ‘I love Flemish and Dutch oils, flowers, food, Flaubert, Shakespeare, shopping, sheeing, swimming, the kisses of beauties and beasts- but somehow all of this, this sauce and all the riches of Holland, form only a kind of tomen’kiy-tonen’kiy (thin little) layer, under which there is absolutely nothing, except, of course, your image, and that only adds depth and a trout’s agonies to the emptiness. I’m like Dolores- when she says she’s “only a picture painted on air.”‘”

the whole book’s wonderful, but there’s something special about the lucette plotline to me. nabokov devotes a peculiar compassion to unrequited love- & it’s visible here perhaps even more clearly than in lolita & pale fire.

it’s a hard book to talk about because there’s subterranean treasure in every page. where do you even start? i loved it, of course. it’s a huge novel, lit by stars & spilled diamonds- the kind where every human being is also a firebird, a conjoined water-nymph, a monster with black wings. it didn’t move me the way pale fire did, but that’s an unfair comparison; i’m not sure anything’s ever moved me quite the way pale fire did. ada or ardor is its own brand of fantastical.

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eraserhead, 1977

how do you even watch a lynch movie? pausing it every few seconds to google this or that oddball symbol or uncomfortable sex scene? frantically trying to ‘work out’, to analyse?

i find that i just have to submit to the experience. sit back & let the weirdo magic put me under, & read the meta essays later.

eraserhead is a bizarre experience, mind-bogglingly surreal, frequently wince-inducing. the first line of speech doesn’t arrive until fifteen minutes into the film, & this has a funny effect: it forces you to listen to what else is going on. & the first thing that comes into focus is the constant hum of industrial noise that underlies the film, like the roar of silence in an empty room at night, amplified. sometimes it builds & builds to screaming-point, panic-point. you’re worried that the whole landscape- a dilapidated, sooty wasteland of dirty windows & protruding pipes- will explode in a shriek of steam & black gas.

you could say it’s a film about fear of having kids. you could say it’s about fear of sex (& as far as blanket statements about its ‘meaning’ go, that’s my favourite one). there’s an utterly gruesome creature that’s supposedly a premature baby but looks like the sort of deformed kitten foetus you might find preserved in a jar of formaldehyde in a glass cabinet at an english stately home. its thin wailing pervades the film for about an hour,  incessantly, to the point where i, the watcher, was practically ready to mute the damn thing. there’s a brilliant scene where- after an unbearable period of the baby just wailing into the darkness- henry spencer’s wife bursts into tears, declares she can’t stand it any longer, & marches out.

grotesque imagery, largely of helpless creatures that resemble barely-alive pieces of raw meat being sliced open. an indescribably awkward scene where henry spencer goes to dinner at his girlfriend’s house, where the inhabitants seem barely human- her father has a fixed, horrifying grin; her mother attacks henry & starts sort of erotically mauling him while he stands frozen. henry himself is a drudge, a shy, pasty dishcloth-type who never quite dares to question the strangeness of the things that happen to him. near the beginning there’s a scene where the tension builds almost unbearably: henry gets into the elevator in his apartment & presses the button. it’s filmed from across the room, a voyeur’s angle. the elevator doesn’t move; henry just stands there. for a really, really long time. absurdly long.

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it’s probably at least twenty seconds that you’re just staring at the screen, getting vaguely freaked out, because why is he just standing there- & then the elevator moves. you realise that he had known the elevator took that long to start, that he was used to this. he’s a man so accustomed to life within a dreamscape that although things scare & embarrass him, nothing shocks him. this doesn’t make him look wise.

then there’s one of the great standout scenes, a blowsy, delirious rendition of in heaven by a mincing schoolgirl with very scary cheeks:

it’s funny that that scene feels more real than just about any other in the film. or rather: it feels like that scene enters the land of the Real, the land of symbol & essence. it’s the vision in its hypnotic grating lushness, stripped of the little harsh bits of daily life that make up so much of the unreality of the film. & man, is it disturbing.

i wouldn’t call eraserhead incoherent; it seems to operate according to its own internal logic, particularly in the later scenes, as though governed by a sort of dream code. but it is is a hard film to write about coherently.

so did i like it?

i thought it was horrible. disgusting & burnt-up & uncomfortable & even a little bit woozily beautiful. i couldn’t have looked away if i’d wanted to, & believe me, i did.

 

‘In such a night as this…’

so, i meant to post this last night, but instead i wrote myself into fuzzy-eyed exhaustion. LOOK AT THIS SCENE.

 

LORENZO: The moon shines bright!- In such a night as this, when the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees, and they did make no noise; in such a night, Troilus, methinks, mounted the Trojan walls, and sigh’d his soul toward the Grecian tents, where Cressid lay that night.

JESSICA: In such a night did Thisbe fearfully o’ertrip the dew, and saw the lion’s shadow ere himself, and ran dismay’d away.

LORENZO: In such a night stood Dido with a willow in her hand upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love to come again to Carthage.

JESSICA: In such a night Medea gathered the enchanted herbs that did renew old Aeson.

LORENZO: In such a night did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, and with an unthrift love did run from Venice, as far as Belmont.

JESSICA: In such a night did young Lorenzo swear he lov’d her well, stealing her soul with many vows of faith, and ne’er a true one.

LORENZO: In such a night did pretty Jessica (like a little shrow) slander her love, and he forgave it her.

JESSICA: I would out-night you, did nobody come; but hark, I hear the footing of a man.

 

it does everything. i mean, first of all, it’s shakespeare at his most musical: ‘in such a night stood dido with a willow in her hand upon the wild sea-banks, and waft her love to come again to carthage’.

i could take that line apart, but i really don’t want to.

there’s humour (‘i would out-night you’!). & it’s romantic, of course, but there’s an echo of tragedy- because all the stories referenced end in tragedy. & yet once you know the context- that jessica & lorenzo are the naive young lovers who never seem to be in any real body-or-soul danger, unlike the other inhabitants of merchant– there’s another layer of fun there. jessica & lorenzo know the context of these stories; they know that theirs is unlikely to end in death. & so they’re fantasising, they’re laying the ley-lined silk of literature over their own romance & glorying in the allure of it. it’s a love-scene between lovers of literature. it’s behaviour i certainly recognise; it’s behaviour that i imagine all bookworms who’ve ever been remotely lovesick ought to understand. i find that really charming. thanks a bunch, shakey.