Monday, August 23, 2010

The Onion - Making News Worthwhile

Mysterious Crate Arrives From London

DOCKSIDE, NEW ENGLAND—Witnesses were reportedly baffled by both the provenance and contents of a mysterious box which, constructed of stout heart-of-oak and bound in cold iron, was brought the quay Thursday night by the H.M.S. Redoubtable, arriving from London after a passage fraught with misadventure.

The crate, standing roughly high as a man's chest and somewhat wider than a span of arms, has instilled in those who spoke to reporters a sense of great disquiet and foreboding, with many alleging the object to be possessed of strange properties that defy easy reckoning.

"Be right glad to be shut of that, whatsoever it may hold," said the captain of the Redoubtable, pointing to the box, about whose odd geometry a fog had curled in unclean tendrils...


Sunday, August 15, 2010

ek het jou lief, my soetkoekie!

VIA OEDchocolate-cupcakes

soetkoekie S. Afr.


Also zoete-koekie, soet-koekie.

[Afrikaans, lit. ‘a little sweet cake’, f. Du. zoet sweet + koek cake + -ie dim. suff.]

A traditional South African spiced biscuit.

1910 D. Fairbridge That which hath Been ix. 115 Juffvrouw wanted very bad to help hand zoete-koekies.

1939 ‘D. Rame’ Wine of Good Hope iii. iii. 368 They ended their tea and the thin bread and butter and soet-koekies of Grim's ceremony.

1949 L. G. Green In Land of Afternoon xii. 165, I have heard of a special ginger beer which is brewed during Christmas week and served with soetkoekies.

1973 Fair Lady 7 Mar. 23 With visions of my Voortrekker ancestors embarking on hazardous journeys with tinfuls of ‘mebos’, biltong, and ‘soet⁓koekies’, I scratched through my recipe book.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

There Are No Facts, Only Interpretations.

Thank you, Nietzsche.

reality, hyperreality

The term reality perhaps most often refers to that which “constitutes the actual thing, as distinguished from what is merely apparent or external” and “underlies and is the truth of appearances or phenomena."


Source: The University of Chicago :: Theories of Media

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here We Go Again

Today I decided to give myself a kick up the butt; I’ve started banging out a proposal for my Masters thesis. I am both terribly excited and petrified when I think about it, so that’s a good thing. Yes?

It took me the better part of the whole day to get out about 500 words, but I think it went well. I’m happy that I’m able to include aspects of undergraduate Religious Studies as well, even if it ends up meaning that I might have to have dual supervisors from two different faculties.

I need to remind myself to breathe. I have a lot on my plate, but it’s all good stuff. I just wish there were more hours in the day and that my brain could function at at least twice (thrice would be nice) the capacity it is currently capable of.

Picture courtesy of Brian’s Guide

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dragons, Fires And Hornets

I'm almost through Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. When I was younger I used to read crime novels obsessively, but eventually, for whatever reason, found myself discarding the genre. After numerous enthusiastic friends kept telling me that I had to read Larsson's novels, I gave in. The trusty secondhand bookshop down the road happened to have all three books in stock. I had no excuse.

I'm going to say upfront that, one of the reasons I found the books so compelling is because of the setting. Larsson manages to combine remote Swedish settings with finely detailed (but not overwhelming) descriptions of Stockholm, adding to the mix the danger and excitement of journalism with one mission only: to expose corrupt individuals and governments - something I have a soft spot for.

Then there is Lisbeth Salander. Somewhere inside me a perverse pleasure bubbles up whenever a male author creates such a fantastically complex female character. I can't explain it, neither do I wish to. Larsson creates between Lisbeth's actions and the details of her traumatic past an unspoken dialogue between reader and text that can be approached on so many levels that the potential for discussion is endless. Whether you choose to approach the themes of the trilogy from a philosophical, moral, social or psychological context, you're bound to come up with some uncomfortable questions. Isn't that what good books should do?

This is one of the key functions of Larsson's series; through Lisbeth Salander, the novels aim to communicate our perceptions of not only individual responsibility, but the effects our decisions have on those who are denied the same rights.

Lisbeth's actions throughout the three novels are based on one thing: self-preservation. Having suffered unspeakably for most of her life at the hands of the very people who should have been protecting her, she trusts no-one. Her methods are for the most part against the law. What sets her apart from an ordinary "grab-and-dash" kind of crook is that Lisbeth always takes responsibility for her actions. She lives by her own moral code, but it is a code that nonetheless has consequences . When one starts weighing up the difference between what Salander does to get her way and what has been done to Salander to turn her into the person she has become, things get very muddled from a moral and ethical perspective.

Perhaps the most admirable aspect of Salander is that, despite everything she has endured, she never comes across as a victim. Her experiences are of the kind that could easily break the strongest constitution, both mentally and physically. Lisbeth Salander never uses this as a defense for her actions. She merely does what she thinks is right. Whether those beliefs are shaped by the experiences she has had to endure is another of the intricate themes contained within the novels.

A note of interest: The first installment in the trilogy, "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", was changed in name from its original Swedish title, "Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women". I'm not surprised at the change. Make no mistake, these books are brutal in their depiction of the violence perpetrated by men against women. But I wonder if a novel - and particularly a film - would have been as successful in the oh-so-Hollywood-obsessed English mainstream market if the original title had remained. It implies that society, for all its constant patting-on-the-back about gender equality and equal rights continues to fail not only women, but everyone who doesn't allow themselves to be pigeonholed.

Elegantly Wasted

I want to be this cat right now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Continuing On A Gothic Note...

Next up in the audio book line is Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. I'm having a great time reading (or listening) to these texts from an academic/analytical perspective.

Poe was a strange man. I wish someone would find out what happened during the last few days of his life. I also wish that he had Lovecraft could have collaborated on a story. Can you imagine?

Image by Sophy Tuttle

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Good News Everyone!

More like bloody terrific news! Guillermo Del Toro is finally set to direct Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness.

Audiobooks Challenge

I spend 45 minutes every morning walking to the waterfront and back home via the city. As of today I'm using that time to catch up on some books I haven't read in a while or have always wanted to read. First up, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. What I like most about the novella is the way Stevenson manages to portray Hyde as both monstrous and pitiable. The relationship between Jekyll and his dark side is not so much conveyed between what Jekyll says and what Hyde does; it's altogether more sinister somehow. It has more to do with what Stevenson has not written than what he has.