Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In these tough financial times...

...M.snowe has consolidated...well, sort of.

Because Wordpress is so much easier, m.snowe has populated all her Writer's Block posts to her Wordpress account. So please start visiting here:

(p.s. it will still be a mix of fourth-wave femiladyism...and the poetry blog--but you can ignore the poems!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Golly Gee, Dolly

(where M.Snowe talks of Lolita.)

Lolita/Lolita is a lot different than what m.snowe was led to believe prior to opening the book. And by that, m.snowe means both the whole book as well as the character of Lolita.

This phenomenon should really be studied more often: the idea of a book before reading it, to the actual experience of reading and then the feeling you are left with once you finish (reading it the first time, that is). Novels have a way of surprising readers, unlike most other mediums of art, because of the sheer length, and the different voices of different authors. Picking up a book by an author you have never read before is always an interesting pursuit--because no matter what expectations, or research you did beforehand, nothing competes with the act of reading the text.

Okay, so most readers, staring at the cover of Lolita, would know a few things, just from its permeation into the realm of pop culture, of which we've all been steeped since we were zygotes: Lolita is this small, young little mischievous sex pot who causes the downfall of a much older lover. In comedy, in references, Lolita is shown as a clever minx who dresses scantily, and has her wits about her--she uses her sexual guile as power. Perhaps m.snowe has been misreading all the references to Lolita, but this was her impression before opening the book. Yes, there was the messiness of pedophilia always lurking towards the back of these references, but it was never made so prominent so as to disturb the image of this lustful young girl. The last real reference m.snowe saw that evoked Lolita was a scene from Broken Flowers with Bill Murray, where a lithe teenage daughter of Murray's ex lover walks around in front of him, naked. Oh, and her name is Lolita. Very subtle, people.

But the Broken Flowers instance is a perfect example of the largest misconception people have before they read the book--Lolita as seducer. She is not. She is, even by Humbert's submission, too young to fully understand, and is forced to do things she certainly would not choose to do. but even if she was a seducer, we would have no way of knowing, because the entire book (except the introduction) is written from the perspective of Humbert. And not only that, but Humbert makes it quite clear, even through all his lies, double entendres, and sheer lunacy, that Lolita indeed rejects him, and never seriously considered their sexual behavior as consummate. Perhaps m.snowe is reading it "wrong," but she thinks not. This bothers m.snowe's sense of fairness--how is it, that a book about an obsessed pedophile becomes an instant classic, enters the cannon and thereby mass culture, and then Lolita is culturally turned into villain, or at least into the stand-in campy seductress? Lolita surely deserves the acclaim, but Lolita the character got a bum rap.

There's another part of Lolita that the outside observer might never have known without at least reading a very astute summary of the book: it's hilarious. It's hilarious in so many ways: the word play of Humbert, his dark and bitter commentary of others he meets, etc., etc. When people think to quote Lolita, they often quote the opening lines, which are very memorable, but they are also the most sincere, and really are the at the end of Humbert's life. It is not representative of the whole. Humbert is appealingly (and yet paradoxically) frank. And this frankness, we believe in one instance (ex. when he judges women) and disavow in another (ex. when he pleads his case for sanity, or tries to qualify his lust for nymphets.) And that is the other great triumph of Nabokov's work, surely: the person of Humbert, the narrative he weaves that makes us completely secure in the story, while simultaneously not believing a word that comes out of his filthy mouth. Humbert (and by extension, Nabokov) is very careful in his insanity to gloss over what the reader would be shocked to hear--and although there is bitter honesty contained in the book that might make the reader blush or be affronted, it is never so gross as to detail the deepest reaches of Humbert's pedophilia.

M.snowe recommends you read Lolita, if, like her you've been putting it off. If for nothing else, to reevaluate what pop culture told you it was about. But you'll be pleasantly surprised how beautiful an ugly story can be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will you be my?

What is it about Valentine's Day that puts everyone in what msnowe would most accurately characterize as a "tizzy"? And why does our culture basically command women to universally go doe-eyed over this sanctimonious sham, while simultaneously allowing men to disavow, or publicly despise and complain over the expectations of a day of the exhibition of romance?

Msnowe, personally is pretty apathetic regarding Valentine's day, because she feels that like Veteran's day, or an anniversary, if you're not appreciating the compromises and commitments of others year round, you need to figure your shit out, and not only devote one day to thinking about it, etc. Some would say "but msnowe, you're not in a relationship, so of course you're defensively indifferent..." Well, perish the thought good readers--msnowe thinks Valentine's day is a ridiculously medieval (or at least Renaissance) tradition that objectifies women and places the responsibility solely, and stupidly, on men--most of whom will not wield their ill-gotten power wisely (not that they should feel obligated to, anyways).

Valentine's day has pagan roots, and then, like most good, rowdy holidays turned bland, it was overtaken and transformed by the catholic church, for fear of ungod-fearing, lascivious activities. But the actual traditions that we still observe today (cards, flowers, confections) are rooted in the time of Chaucer. Msnowe loves and appreciates a good courtly sonnet, and sometimes secretly wishes she could compose works like that of Sir Thomas Wyatt, but she certainly doesn't want to be a subject of the courtly love tradition--it's all about objectifying, setting up a woman on an unattainable pedestal, fetishizing her body, and ultimately neither sex gets the fulfillment they so direly seek, and that nature intended. That's the problem--Valentine's day tells women it's a gauge of their desirability, while it simultaneously reminds men that they are the pursuer, the objectifier, the fool out of control--which naturally makes them rebel, and leaves the women high and dry. Surely, many women seek out their own Valentine's fun, and do just as much for the man as vice versa. But we all can feel the holiday telling us our society-prescribed gender roles...and that whisper is what makes msnowe pop in her ipod, and tune out the whole medieval composition...

Another thought: Also, lest we forget, Valentine's is a holiday that alienates all other forms of love, as if homosexual or bisexual love was not as justified to celebrate and express. Msnowe doesn't mind the pagan-rooted holiday of people basically having big ancient "swingers" parties, but the catholic (little "c" on purpose) tradition imposed a reinforced false legitimacy for solely heterosexual love . . .

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lactose Intolerant? No Worries!

...Because this blog is pretty sweet, and comes without any dairy-induced guilt.

[Look out--it's also been added to my "Linkages" at the bottom of this blog]

Give it a shifty, why don't you? my ex-coworker and writer friend would love it if you did...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Frustrated by time.

The Times that is. The New York Times.

What now, you ask? This. The fact is, m.snowe has never once picked up this magazine, even in a dentist's office, but she has seen it on the shelf, and her roommate does flip through it from time to time. A quick study shows that the decor of the magazine is more bright and modern than something out of a more staid home decor magazine, but still, what's with this excerpt:

"Fans of the girlish, how-to decorating magazine owned by Condé Nast were vociferous in their disappointment, posting anguished comments on design sites like Apartment Therapy, Decorno and Design Sponge (which accrued 498 remarks in just a few hours), as well as nondesign sites, like The Huffington Post. Even Gawker readers set aside their snark to mourn."

M.snowe would like to note two things:
1. "Girlish"? Really? Does GQ get to be described as "Boyish"?
2. If a men's zine was folded for business, would men be characterized as "anguished," as if their lives could not possibly recover, in a fit of despair over the loss of their monthly bro information? Would they become disconsolate and overly emotional?(like, omg, they're breaking up with me!)

Or what about this crazy blanket statement:
"Did Domino’s demise augur the crumbling of a larger, cultural movement, characterized by a girlish and fizzy optimism and an appetite for Jonathan Adler ceramics and Parsons tables from West Elm, and peopled by thousands of crafty, handy young women — like Carrie Bradshaw but cooler, with fewer shoes, better values and a mortgage?"

More things to say:
1. "The crumbling of a girlish and fizzy optimism." Using "girlish" along with "fizzy" and implying that the current climate is undergoing a "reality check" suggests that girls, by nature, are naive and utterly out of touch with the "real, harsh realities" (i.e. the manly manly brute world of grunts and devious investment bankers). While yes, it's a reality check we are living in, to accuse twenty-something women of some foolish fizziness is just ridiculous, as if yes, it was their fault we're in this economic, political, humanitarian crisis age. If anything, it's those normally "serious" or at least "manish and harsh" fat-cats that got us into this economic and political mess (yes, we're looking at you G.W.B.).

"Marian Salzman, a trend spotter and partner at Porter Novelli, a marketing and public relations company, wondered if, as she put it, 'these women may have made Domino a part of their life, but they may not have made consumption a part of their life.'"
1. Clearly, these women-girls can't distinguish between human relationships and inanimate bound paper products. Give m.snowe a break.

[m.snowe just proofed this post and realizes it's a bit harsh. But hey, at least it's not fizzy.]

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

If you steal my sunshine

"But you're taking away our sunshine!!!"

While m.snowe is slightly (ever-so-slightly) glad that people find her personality in some ways sunny, or at least less-than-overcast, in an office setting it's just not appropriate, instead it's slightly (ever-so-slightly) condescending.

Think about it this way. If m.snowe was a beefy dude in a tie and had an awesome personality to boot, it is extremely likely that despite the friendliness and appeal, another gentlemen, when hearing that the beefy dude's office will be moved, would not exclaim such a pleasantry (i.e. "lost sunshine!").