Monthly Archives: May 2014

Creative Kaleidoscope: First

His lips were speckled

With freckles like tiny stones

Embedded beneath

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“I was feeling homesick for the event while it was happening.”

I read Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland in my final year at university. Written and set in the nineties, it is about a generation on the margin of a new millennium. And that it right where the characters reside, on the border of civilisation. The three main characters have very little to say for themselves, making ends meet with their ‘McJobs’, revelling in their mutual resentment at what the western world has become and spending the majority of their free time in the California desert exchanging nonsensical stories. This does not sound like the makings of a good book, I know.

"Now Denial: To tell oneself that the only time worth living in is the past and that the only time that may ever be interesting again is the future."

“Now Denial: To tell oneself that the only time worth living in is the past and that the only time that may ever be interesting again is the future.”

However, the story and its messages have haunted me for over a year now. There is nothing special about Andy, Coupland’s main character and narrator. He leads the framed narrative, leaving room for the imaginations and frustrations of other characters. There is a sense in this book that people’s main concern lies with the history of every single person they meet, even more so with their own place in history. Andy mocks how this obsessive nostalgia becomes a commodity, employed as an advertising tool.

My tutor asked us to look at the book cover, how the colour was postmodern. I didn’t really understand why at the time, thinking it had something to do with the Sex Pistols and being garish. It does to a certain extent, but it is also lends itself to the hyperreal, the loss of identity, destruction and irony. The postmodern movement cannot be plotted on a linear timeline of history, it is chaotic and disenchanting.

‘A landmark book’ (Daily Telegraph)

I admit that I’m deviating from Andy, but his voice in the book embodies all of these ideas, doing so in a way that makes them easy to swallow, and that’s saying something. The easiest way to describe it is by using the Disneyland analogy that is dotted around various essays on postmodernism. A place that is magical and nostalgic and timeless all at once, yet overall, completely artificial. Theorists argue that this Disneyland culture has seeped into everyday society, making it no longer a temporary space to visit but a way of life. Andy and his friends escape this in the wasteland, the only place that allows room for original thoughts and new experiences.

Generation X is still relevant today, if not more so. Coupland anticipated the loss of a natural order of things, you only have to look at social media to understand how individuals can construct an artificial image or history of themselves. I find postmodernism a difficult concept to understand but it’s definitely worth pursuing, and this book is a great starting point. I certainly relate to Andy, I always feel an urge to locate history, or to suspend it. Yet I also succumb to narrating my life online, or at least a version of it, censoring the bits I’d rather forget. These ideas inspire a lot of my writing today and I’m grateful that Coupland informed my thinking on the subject, it has definitely broadened my outlook on the social and historical context of now.

The V&A held an exhibition, ‘Postmodernism: Style and Subversion’ two years ago, and this video tackles some of the bewildering themes associated with the movement.

Photos: Wonder Vintage and Amazon

“Pain, pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.”

Tonight I watched ITV’s Perspectives: Under My Skin, a documentary lead by musician Emeli Sande about the life and art of Frida Kahlo. An artist I have often found intriguing, yet knew very little about. I had no idea Kahlo had suffered so greatly with poor health from a young age, her physical and emotional anguish illustrated symbolically in so many of her paintings.

Frida Kahlo photographed by Nickolas Muray, 1937

Renowned for her self-portraits, her work is certainly confessional, if not self-absorbed. Kahlo reasons with her spectators, explaining “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Who can argue with that? Clearly, I myself enjoy nothing more than learning about other people, from observing them to inventing them. However, whenever I produce my own work I can’t help but find glimmers of myself pattered throughout. It is unintentional but perhaps it is inevitable.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

One thing I’ve learnt from Kahlo is that truth provides a beautiful source for any art. Some truths are rooted so deep inside ourselves that they are impossible to share, even with our nearest and dearest. It could be that we are unable to articulate them, too strange to understand them ourselves. Emotions such as grief, desire, anger – they’re just words. They still have value but they only touch the surface. Kahlo’s self-discovery is an example of bravery and beauty.

Photos: Collectors Weekly and Artist Daily

Couple Kaleidoscope: Han Solo and Princess Leia

This week it was confirmed that the original cast of Star Wars will be back for the sci-fi film’s seventh instalment. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t wait for Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill to reunite on the big screen.

Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo

When I was little and my Mum worked night shifts at the hospital, my Dad would let me stay up late and we would watch his Star Wars videos. I think for that reason, the original trilogy has always been my favourite. Even more so because I love the relationship between Princess Leia and Han Solo, their space-age banter flits through the action, without being cheesy. Not really one for futuristic films, their love story seemed to make the plot easier to relate to.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia

Quite honestly, I think Leia is a great role model. She’s royalty but she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty, she knows exactly how to handle the handsome yet incredibly arrogant Han Solo, even when she is taken hostage by Jabba the Hutt she doesn’t play the damsel in distress part. And she does it all with fabulous hair.

As for episode VII predictions, I wouldn’t be surprised if Han Solo and Leia’s stubborn dispositions prevented them from ever settling down. I definitely won’t be disappointed if their clash-fuelled chemistry carries on.

Photos: MovieStillsDB and Letter to Jane