Tag Archives: Agatha Christie

Those Rare Electrical Things Between People

I finished a collection of Tennessee William’s short one act plays this week on a whim – recalling the sweetness of reading Streetcar Named Desire. It was stunningly gripping and beautiful – the sort of plots which creep onto you and overwhelm you with a sudden confrontation of temptingly human characters.

Paradise – a word which recalls so many meanings. To regain paradise, to retrace the road to pleasure in a world of pain and loss, is a common theme in the work of Williams. William’s characters blend a sort of Henrik Ibsen reckless passion and Manon vulnerability – they are driven by the desire to see beyond the walls of their worlds, to see outside and above and beyond it – leading to a singular encounter of the kind that Lawrence describes as ‘one of those rare electrical things beyond people’.

In Summer at the Lake, a 16 year old boy is denounced by his mother as a ‘dreamer’ without a future, his mother’s voice rings through the play, her questions are gapped in the boy’s empty’s replies, and while she builds her dreams of him in a steady industrialist job, he flees the house to go swimming in the lake. In the space between words, the reader glimpses the desire of the boy to escape his identity constructed by his mother and the world he lives in.

A personal favourite was And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens, about the private life of ‘Candy’ Deleany, a New Orleans fashionable tranvestite recalling the plot of Sunset Boulevard. Her lingering emotions and heartfelt desire to seek out the unlikely passion of a sailor make for an awkward empathy for the reader, and an interesting statement by Williams of homosexuality in postwar drama and film. The self-conscious naivete of Williams’ characters are evident, and yet they are passionate, non-conformist individuals:-

I think the strange, the crazed, the queer
will have their holiday this year,
I think for just a little while
there will be pity for the wild.
I think in places known as gay,
in secret clubs and private bars,
the damned will serenade the damned
with frantic drums and wild guitars.

I think for some uncertain reason,
mercy will be shown this season
to the lovely and misfit,
to the brilliant and deformed—

I think they will be housed and warmed
And fed and comforted awhile
before, with such a tender smile,
the earth destroys her crooked child.

On other things. A week ago I came across my old diary, and came across a passage I had copied from Machado De Assis’s Epitaph of a Small Winner, in which the protagonist speaks of old letters:

Unenlightened reader, if you do not keep the letters of your youth you will never enjoy the pleasure of seeing yourself, far off in the flatteringly dim light, with a three-cornered hat, seven-league boots, and curled mustachios, dancing at a ball to the music of Anacreontic pipes. By all means, save the letters of your youth.

Or, if you do not like the figure of the three-cornered hat, I shall use an expression of an old sailor who used to come to Cotrim’s house. I shall say that, if you save the letters of your youth, you will be able to “sing a yearning.” It seems that our sailors give this name to songs about the land that are sung only at sea. It would be hard to find a more poetic expression of nostalgia.

On British romantic tragedies- read Agatha Christie’s Giant Bread last week (under her pen-name Mary Westmacott) and it proved to be a brilliant and pleasurable read- even better than her detective fiction. Features the gettings-on of an avant garde musician and his devastating romances and flight to music. Reminded me of Evelyn Waugh, but she wrote so poignantly of childhood, I found myself wishing I had a similar grandmother and mauve violets on my wallpaper. Really worth reading if you are in the library. It usually comes with her trio collections, under Mary Westmacott.

And for those with ipods – I’ve been listening to the 45C English classes of UC Berkeley Charles Altieri and John Bishop – there are some good ipod downloads, though most are frightful, and even Oliver Wendell Holmes on law turns out to be quite a bore. But these were quite good – the tapes deal with the modernism of English literature – some Dickens, Yeats, Pound etc. (though I am not quite an Ezra Pound fan, I like Yeats terribly) and moving on to the novelists James, Conrad, Woolf (I dislike James as much as I adore Conrad, and even did Conrad for Special Paper in junior college). As Lawrence adorably intoned,  the two men are ideal foils for one another. Altieri delivers with a lovable Woody Allen, schizoid New Yorker style, whereas Bishop utilizes an incredibly dense stream of monotone. What I would like, a blossoming romantic ze French accent, winning the hearts of girls over radio waves.

Also reading Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell – a treatise on poverty strongly recommended by a friend. Unfortunately I think its ok though, the stories are entertaining, but not enjoying it all that much. It makes me worry about the day where I might have to sell my coats at a pawn shop though.

So many other books I’ve been promising to share with you, Irving! You have to especially read the Giant’s Bread. But I really ought to go back to my law assignment, now. I feel so reluctant and frightfully like a procastinating kitten with an old grey mouse toy. Please call me soon to tell me about flute girl after all my assignments are finished.


Hidden Council Annual Costume Ball

S devised the most fabulous idea for her birthday party tomorrow- a murder mystery costume ball – with fantasy creatures! There are faint names of Greek gods and relationships, both of which I adore, and I can’t wait. I have been obsessed with Agatha Christie’s complete series of stories lately, and secretly wishing I could be in the midst of a murder mystery. Yes, I am like one of those maidservants in Hercule Poirot that gets inordinately excited that my master has been murdered!~

The introduction to the costume ball: “It is again time for the Hidden Council’s Annual Costume Ball. Everyone is very excited. Recently, there have been several Mortal Watchers murdered. As we all know, the Watcher’s are very important to the Immortals. They stand between us, and the discovery of our existence by the mortal world. The Watchers ensured all tales of the Immortals became Fairy Tales or Mythology. We all know that if the mortals were to discover our existence, there would be widespread panic and “Witch Hunts”. We must discover who is threatening our existence and put an end to it. A Spectral Inquisitor will be attending, to help us discover who is behind these murders. Those that cannot attend will receive a personal visit from the Inquisitor for interrogation. We think most would prefer to handle this meeting with a crowd around!”

“Your Character’s Background has most of the information you will need to play your character. It will give you a general background on your character. You may have instructions to do something at the beginning of the evening. Do this as soon as possible as it needs to be accomplished before the murder can take place! Use the background as a foundation for your character & feel free to introduce new information or stories about your character.
Upon arriving, you will receive a nametag, game money and any other props your character may require. Later you will receive a Confidential Booklet with lots of secrets and instructions. Call it ammunition if you will! Any information that would incriminate or embarrass your character should be kept secret for as long as possible. Other information, however, should be used in whatever way you deem most beneficial to you. Bribery and extortion are encouraged. Use the knowledge you have, as you can be sure others will use their information against you!”

I would love LOVE to have a murder mystery (but a different sort, I want it to be terribly terribly English) at a birthday party one day. But there must be jazz and I don’t know how Hercule Poirot feels about jazz and Chet Baker. I think I would like a decadent sort of party like in Marie Antoinette where guests stream over fields without shoes afterwards (and they are nice fields haha)

I haven’t written about D’s party that I attended on Christmas Eve (or was it NY? Hmm…) yet but there are a million photographs from the event and it was mischievious, lackadaisical FUN. It was a neon-themed party~ and the food was spectacular and we played with fireworks sticks as we did the countdown!~ Aw….~

Preview video from the party~!! Click here >> http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v128/s-urreal/?action=view¤t=CIMG6407.flv

Sorry for an outside link as I just couldn’t figure out how to embed it…

Also funky party photographs until I figure out a time to write abt it… XD

Esmonde selects this moment to declare his love for XJ…

Our whole party crew!~~

More photographs up next time : ).

Oh yes and I am currently addicted to Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories and especially his shilling shocker version of Jekyll and Hyde. (unabridged version) Its amazing, I had always knew offhand the abridged version before, but reading it was like discovering Edgar Allan Poe for the first time. His version of Body-snatchers was also phenomenal, and I love the cold-hearted rendition of his characters and his darker interpretation of a nativity sort of tale (Oscar Wildish) in Olallah.

Some quotes from the first chapter to pique your interest to read the book …

“‘I incline to Cain’s heresy,’ he used to say quaintly: ‘I let my brother go to the devil in his own way.'”

“You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”

From Wiki:

“This story represents a concept in Western culture, that of the inner conflict of humanity’s sense of good and evil. The novella has been interpreted as an examination of the duality of human nature (that good and evil exists in all) and that the failure to accept this tension (to accept the evil or shadow side) results in the evil being projected onto others. Paradoxically in this argument, evil is actually committed in an effort to extinguish the perceived evil that has been projected onto the innocent victims. In Freudian Theory the thoughts and desires banished to the unconscious mind motivate the behaviour of the conscious mind. If someone banishes all evil to the unconscious mind in an attempt to be wholly and completely good, it can result in the development of a Mr Hyde-type aspect to that person’s character. This failure to accept the tension of duality is related to Christian theology where Satan’s fall from Heaven is due to his refusal to accept that he is a created being (that he has a dual nature) and is not God. This is why in Christianity pride (to consider oneself as without sin or without evil) is the greatest sin as it is the precursor to evil itself, it also explains the Christian concept of evil hiding in the light. The novella has also been noted as “one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian era” because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century “outward respectability and inward lust” as this period had a tendency for social hypocrisy.

Various direct influences have been suggested for Stevenson’s interest in the mental condition that separates the sinful from moral self. Among them are the Biblical text of Romans (7:20 “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”); the split life in the 1780s of Edinburgh city councillor Deacon William Brodie, master craftsman by day, burglar by night; and James Hogg’s novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), in which a young man falls under the spell of the devil.

Literary genres which critics have applied as a framework for interpreting the novel include religious allegory, fable, detective story, sensation fiction, doppelgänger literature, Scottish devil tales and gothic novel. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has been the influence for The Hulk, Two-Face and the general superhero genre for the story’s ties to a double life.

The duality in the novella has led to a variety of different interpretations. These include readings which see the work as being a Victorian morality tale of unleashed sexual depravity, or an allegory for the necessarily double life of the Victorian homosexual. A common interpretation sees the novella’s duality as representative of Scotland and the Scottish character. On this reading the duality represents the national and linguistic dualities inherent in Scotland’s relationship with the wider Britain and the English language respectively, and also the repressive effects of the Calvinistic church on the Scottish character. A further parallel is also drawn with the city of Edinburgh itself, Stevenson’s birthplace, which consists of two distinct parts: the old medieval section historically inhabited by the city’s poor, where the dark crowded slums were rife with all types of crime, and the modern Georgian area of wide spacious streets representing respectability.”

One of RLS’s better known quotes:

“All error, not merely verbal, is a strong way of stating that the current truth is incomplete. The follies of youth have a basis in sound reason, just as much as the embarrassing questions put by babes and sucklings. Their most antisocial acts indicate the defects of our society. When the torrent sweeps the man against a boulder, you must expect him to scream, and you need not be surprised if the scream is sometimes a theory. Shelley, chafing at the Church of England, discovered the cure of all evils in universal atheism. Generous lads irritated at the injustices of society, see nothing for it but the abolishment of everything and Kingdom Come of anarchy. Shelley was a young fool; so are these cocksparrow revolutionaries. But it is better to be a fool than to be dead. It is better to emit a scream in the shape of a theory than to be entirely insensible to the jars and incongruities of life and take everything as it comes in a forlorn stupidity. Some people swallow the universe like a pill; they travel on through the world, like smiling images pushed from behind. For God’s sake give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself! As for the others, the irony of facts shall take it out of their hands, and make fools of them in downright earnest, ere the farce be over. There shall be such a mopping and a mowing at the last day, and such blushing and confusion of countenance for all those who have been wise in their own esteem, and have not learnt the rough lessons that youth hands on to age. If we are indeed here to perfect and complete our own natures, and grow larger, stronger, and more sympathetic against some nobler career in the future, we had all best bestir ourselves to the utmost while we have the time. To equip a dull, respectable person with wings would be but to make a parody of an angel”

He also wrote a series of children’s verses:

“I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.”

My Shadow, st. 1

“The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart. “

The Cow, st. 1

Hahaha I love the last verse so much, I am going to recite it to you the next time we speak, Beansprouts! You are all Sydney Boy now and do not care for CP one bit, eh? I shall give you no tiramisus and no apple tarts.

Panda party!!~~ I *heart* Kelly~