Heather Farley shares a a short story she wrote about a difficult topic.
I. After she felt nothing. Her concern was for her parents; ‘where were you 'til so late, I thought you were just with friends?’ were their words; the specifics and smells for some reason stayed with her far longer than the events, the reality. In fact, reality never was, nor never will be truth on that godforsaken night. In its place; forget me nots and things she desperately wanted to forget. Truth was not something known that Hogmanay. The world came to them, partied, drank and discovered their dirty little secrets. Yet they lived above it all in a bubble of wealth.The Mercedes was gone from the drive, ‘oh don’t worry darling, they’re at a dinner party,’ plastic’s painted face motioned to her, as she stepped into the wilderness people called socializing. Ever since her diagnosis people had become some distance creature the town’s folk tell you myths about in country western films. Alone and a little embarrassed she laughed to herself, seeing Nick with his beloved invitation. And thus, with Mr Caraway style, she drank. She drank with them, like one of their own, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, rather, a lamb in lion’s clothing. II. They watched the fireworks explode. Their toxins pouring into their skies, bringing with it an adrenaline-fueled beauty. Rather like he did for her. He held her, she collapsed into his torso, the well-known Barbour wax scratched her face like sandpaper, but she did not feel it. She felt the alcohol, the slight spatter of socialites gossip and him. She felt him; his hand strolls down the side of her hip, shoulders flex around her head. He kissed her as the chimes roared and the hysteria of hugs began, drawing away she looked up at his cool blue eyes. It was quiet and destructive, the look in those eyes, so sincere; a dim light in the peace of that winter’s night. They walked the streets, wandered into his drinking cabinet, and waltzed to his bed. And slowly, but all at once; the forget me nots turned into memories she wished to forget. She was a deer in a forest without hunters; she knew there was something to fear, but was blind to her hunter. She felt the alcohol fail her as he mounted her. It wasn’t going to tide her through. Her conscious possessed her to stop. She possessed him to stop, begged him, literally on her knees. The deer died in oblivion and ignorance of its cold-blooded killer. His charm and smile would catch out a pretty little fool any day. He, the ‘baddy’ dressed up as the ‘goody’ in children’s tales. The grandma with big ears and sharp teeth. Harmless 'til he’s hungry and his little red riding hood is all he has left to eat. He held her as she collapsed into him again, like she had an hour, a year ago. This time he held her down, she only collapsed into his bed after he finally released his grip. III. She felt nothing after. After ‘what’ was her most pressing thought, his being, compliments of her mouth. On that night, a night of two years, two individuals and one bed. A night that changes the fundamentals, 2014 to 2015, desire to despair, friend to stranger, angel to devil; innocent to corrupted.That night more than beauty was broken, she was a fragile Russian doll with a perfect exterior. Open her up, like he did, and you find fragments of layers that once were part of her. He broke the insides and put her back in a beautiful cage. Selfishly let her carry shattered glass around inside her, while his armour remained in tact. That night, she didn’t know, wondered if she’ll ever really know what he took. How many layers he cracked, tore ripped apart with his strength…Her mind cried flames of mental illness, burnt the rope tying her to him, burning the rope holding her neck. She screamed inside; smiles wide on the outside and begs herself to stop descending. A year, tormented relationships, diminishing friendships, sanity which faded like her drugs, all those black out nights later;She knew.He took something she didn’t even know she had lost. She saw it in the afterglow of her dreams. Felt it in the raindrops of poison drenching her face. That New Years night, she lived for seconds and died for moments. Heather Farley
Kara Gooding shares a creative piece of fiction, centred around the birthday anxiety of a character, Mary-Anne.
She woke up on the 5th of May. Her eyes opened as shots rang out in her head. Today was Mary-Anne's birthday. These words echoed over and over, like a giant, bumbling monster bouncing off of the walls in her head. Her eyes stared at the ceiling, empty and scared. "Okay, today will be the day", she rehearsed to herself, "we know we can do this".As she swung her legs out of bed, she began her journey to her parents downstairs. Taking stock of the room, she observed how her bed was surrounded by books. Stories narrated by knights, princesses and both. Photographs of her surrounded by family and friends. She stared at each of them in turn, wondering how to interpret them. She knew the characters and story, but she didn't know how to relate, how to empathize with each of these people. Each felt as real as the other. She saw them all in her dreams and saw them all in real life. Except for a few - the ones that would turn up today. They didn't infiltrate her dreams. She didn't know what to do with them.Slowly, one foot after the other, she trudged downstairs. She listened to each floorboard creak, a squeak of familiarity, until she had to face the real challenge. At the bottom she met her parents. One after the other they noticed her, and turned around with their sweet smiles and well-meant congratulations. Condolences. Congratulations for her birthday. As she looked at them she genuinely wondered whether they fully realize what they were congratulating. Another year of anxiety? Fear? Misunderstanding and dysfunction? It's what they knew how to do, just the same as the only thing she knew how to do next was "thank you mum, thank you dad, I love you both very much". This was all true, but said through a veil of tradition and uncertainty. Was a birthday supposed to be more than this?Mary-Anne didn't have time to question as she was inundated with sweet and savoury and colour and light. Pancakes with syrup and bacon sprinkles and sparklers. It was all so much, but she saw how happy they were. Mum and Dad. The anticipation, and wanting her to feel like the most special person in the world. She didn't. She didn't think she ever would. But goddamn would she let her parents wait for a second thinking that she didn't. Embraces. Braced together. Warmth. I don't know what to say or feel. Tears in their eyes. "I love you." "We love you too, darling". Once the traditions were over, the pancakes were eaten.She sat down with a book, far away in a corner cushion, as her parents whizzed around the room. She could see how hard her parents were working. She could see the effort. However, all she wanted to do was fall into a different world. Looking at the book, the words swirled together towards the different dimension. She could see it - the centre in her hands, the world separate from hers. She could take herself away from every other facet of reality. How easy it was to reject reality. All she had seen so far was frustration, sadness and nothing beyond perseverance. In her worlds, there were wizards who fought bad teachers, witches who helped others, protection and childhood that were never intervened. She could see herself in this world. But before she knew it, her parents rocked her back into existence. "Your friends are coming soon! Aren't you excited?" She drowsily brought herself back, taking several seconds to understand what was going on. But she understood, and she watched the anticipation on her parents' faces. They wanted this to be the moment. They wanted now for her to realize that this was the world she needed to be in.From her corner, slightly darkened, she saw her invitees drop in one by one. The slowness of arriving and slowness of understanding arrived at her like drops along a stalactite. They eventually started to form some kind of comprehensible mass, but too slowly for her to realize the phenomenon occurring and too slow for her to take some kind of action in intervention. Guests stood for a while in the bare, too-perfectly decorated living room, staring around at the sculptures and paintings that stared back at them, soon wondering where all the real people had gone. My parents happily replied that they would show them the way towards the other children. Away from me. Towards the children.I did reconvene with the rest of the children. They were playing SingStar. I enjoyed SingStar - there was an element of perfection that I knew would exist, that could be attained by some human measure. All the other people were my game. I played. I sang what I could. How much could I understand while I saw male and female performers squirm on screen. Is that performing? Do my peers expect me to do this? I measure and replicate the squirming and screaming. Performance. This is what I knew about people - they knew how to perform for others. I had seen very little that wasn't some replication of a squirming or screaming of another, and this seemed to be fairly accurate. In a moderate dose, I garnered some applause. Applause. My first external praise. Not only would I replicate it further, I would extend it and exaggerate it. Is this what it felt like to be popular? Or was this just because it was my "birthday"? Suddenly, a voice from underneath exclaimed that lunch was ready. The next part of the ritual. I watched all my peers filter down the stairs, like ants into an anthill. As I watched them filter down, I accepted my moment as over, and pushed myself down into the mound.I emerged underneath. I saw my friends gathered around in joy. They clambered together for the sweetness of cake, the happiness of a gaily made food of some character assumed to ground me, such as a pink-eyed princess or a green-blue scaled dragon. I tried. I really did. Mum and Dad must have really wanted me to make this moment the moment of relation to all of my peers. As I descended the final step of the ladder, that very moment I gave up. I gave up hope. I gave up on intention. I gave up on having a future of understanding everyone else. I decided that that world where I knew myself, the only world where I knew where I stood and how I should embark on my quest, was the only world I could really belong to. In between the understanding, I saw the transition. Everyone sang 'Happy Birthday, in the usual, jovial tune. Once I had to wait for the end, I simply stood. I was immobile. Why interact with such a world when there was no chance of being understood.Goodbye, and watch my spiral down, into your oblivion. Kara Gooding Featured Image
Victoria Walshprovides us with her insight regarding the Polish Translation Duel at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The 2015 programme for the Edinburgh International Book Festival was packed with an array of events to satisfy every taste, from those in touch with current trends (I was far from surprised to learn that tickets for the reading workshop on To Kill A Mockingbird were sold out) to those who prefer to read books that are off-the-beaten-track. If it had been possible, I would have been there almost every day to go to something, but alas, limited time and a typical student budget allowed me only a day to see what the festival had to offer. Fortunately I managed to make it to a couple of events, one of which was the Polish Translation Duel hosted by Daniel Hahn, featuring Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Bill Martin, both esteemed translators of Polish literature.The event was part of the festival's Talking Translation series, the aim of which was to explore the role of the translator and the challenges they face, whether linguistic, cultural, creative, or political. The ‘Translation Duels’ were held for a range of languages, including French, Spanish and German and each brought together two translators, who had produced different translations of the same text, to discuss the nuances in their interpretations.Upon arriving at Charlotte Square Gardens for the Polish Translation Duel, I was handed a printout of the feature text, including the original extract and both translated versions. This was my first surprise of the day, because the text (as I would have known had I bothered to read the event description properly) was in fact an extract from a comic strip called 'The Night Caller,' or 'The Night Visit,' depending on which translator's version you look at. I suppose, in an event like this, I was expecting to be presented with a thick chunk of text ripe for translation, but the comic was a rather refreshing reminder that there is much more to the literary world aside from novels and poetry.
By presenting the two translated versions side by side in a booklet, we were able to see clearly the differences between the translations, ranging from whole sentences to the mere position of commas. In his role as host, Daniel Hahn picked through the text bit by bit, questioning the translators on their choice of a specific word or phrase, and opening up some intriguing discussions about language and cultural reception. Bill Martin and Antonia Lloyd-Jones, in turn, engaged in enthusiastic discussion - and debate, as per the event name - about the thinking behind their different results.As a comparative literature student, I have studied my fair share of texts in translation, and naturally it is something we discuss in class, but I do not think, before this event, I truly appreciated the full scale of a translator's work. It is more than simply converting a text from one language to another. Rather, it extends as far as adapting it to suit an entirely different audience, and with older texts, even a whole new period in time. As if I needed a reminder that countless words or phrases in a certain language have no exact counterpart in another, right before I went to the Duel, I found a book called Lost in Translation in the festival bookshop. It is a beautifully illustrated edition full of 'untranslatable' words from around the world which have no direct translation in English.With such obstacles in their path, how does a translator decide what to do with every phrase or sentence encountered, and how much creative freedom does - or should - a translator have? Recently, I read Jonas Jonasson'sThe Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, but sitting through this translation event made me wonder - as, perhaps, I should already have been wondering - how much of what I read was Jonasson, and how much was the input of translator Roy Bradbury? And is it a negative thing that a text is altered in translation, if such alterations make it more suitable to the new audience?The translator's level of textual authority is something I had never really considered in much depth, but after this short, curious, and thought provoking event, I will be sure to turn a more critical eye to my reading of translation in future. Victoria Walsh
Jacana Bresson went review the last Inklight Open Mic on October 5th, 2015. Let's hear what she has to say!
It was a cosy Monday evening in Aikman’s. I had a cider in hand and I was about to lose my Inklight Open Mic virginity. By the time I arrived all the seats were already taken by keen poetry enthusiasts so I nervously propped myself up at the bar like the philistine that I am. We were promptly informed that the society’s resident MC was M.I.A so president Alexandra Julienne dutifully stepped in to kick the evening off.For their second open mic of the year Inklight decided to jump on the seasonal bandwagon and had requested poems touching on the two blessings of this month: Oktoberfest and Halloween. A fair few of the evening’s contributors made a stab at keeping it seasonal with poems such as “When Witches Date” by Bennett Quinn Bonci and my personal favourite “Girls Don’t Drink Pints” by Flannery Wise, with some even managing to combine the two, waxing lyrical about witches getting their drink on. I am uncertain as to whether “Piggies” by Esmond was intentionally creepy to fit the theme or whether it was just a happy coincidence. His performance was powerful enough that he almost tipped me over the edge into a life of vegetarianism.We also heard a lot of great poems that ventured away from the event’s theme and towards the end of the night things took a humorous turn with the appearance of the missing MC Mr Michael Grieve. We were treated to what was referred to as the diametric opposite of poetry in the form of a very entertaining reflection by Nishant Raj on why we Tinder as well as a witty imagining of how famous artists would respond to stumbling upon a dead body in “Artists at the scene of a crime” by Inklight President Alexandra Julienne. We were even allowed into Samantha Evans' deepest darkest thoughts with extracts from her infamous Toilet Journal.All in all, losing my poetry virginity was much less intimidating and much more pleasurable than I had anticipated. Like everyone who teeters at the edge of creative endeavours, too afraid to put myself out there, I was extremely impressed with everyone’s willingness to open up so intimately in front of such a crowd. And to those who apologised for the supposed poor quality of their poems - don’t - because an event like this would not happen if it were not for troopers like you. Jacana Bresson
Alexandra Julienne, our Creative Writing editor shares with us with us what and where to read this September.
What Poetry to Read in September
For many people returning to St Andrews, it means a transition in clothing and lifestyle—from home cooking and hot, summer weather to student budgets and layered clothing.
Coming from Atlanta, often awkwardly called ‘Hotlanta’ (please never say this out loud), the seasonal transition is abrupt when I return to St Andrews. For me, this means changes in diet and clothing, but it also alters what I am reading. I’ve included a few poems that are for those early September days when you’re still clinging to that last flicker of heat and sun, while also lusting for the stark, refreshing days of Autumn and Winter.
WHERE 2 READ:
A lot of people think that reading poetry regularly requires a large collection of, well, collections! Wrong! It’s the 21st century and while it might not be the same as reading your antique book in Taste, there are plenty of options for reading poetry online.
THE OBVIOUS ONES:
poets.org - a wider variety, more British poets than poetry foundation
poetryfoundation.org - mostly American poets, but a great selection of commentary and bios, and very easy to navigate according to themes or forms.
Both of these websites offer a ‘poem of the day’ option — do it! Then you’ll have poetry emails everyday…a good distraction from the tutors wondering why you missed your last tutorial.
There are so many that I can’t list here - big and small. Try just clicking around, you never know what you’ll find.
Now…For Specific Poems?
by Margaret Atwood
This is the plum season, the nightsblue and distended, the moonhazed, this is the season of peaches
with their lush lobed bulbsthat glow in the dusk, applesthat drop and rotsweetly, their brown skins veined as glands
No more the shrill voicesthat cried Need Needfrom the cold pond, bladed and urgent as new grass
Now it is the cricketsthat say Ripe Ripeslurred in the darkness, while the plums
dripping on the lawn outsideour window, burstwith a sound like thick syrupmuffled and slow
The air is stillwarm, flesh moves overflesh, there is no
This poem articulates the trickling period between seasons. It also describes that slow and sleepy feeling of late Summer, the molasses quality at the edge of the season.
Margaret Atwood is coming to Edinburgh! If you like this, consider going to see her.
by T. E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
Hulme creeps me out a bit here — the ruddy moon, the white faces. Maybe it all just reminds me of a night out in St Andrews during Freshers…
by Geoffrey Hill
Undesirable you may have been, untouchable
you were not. Not forgotten
or passed over at the proper time.
As estimated, you died. Things marched,
sufficient, to that end.
Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented
terror, so many routine cries.
(I have made
an elegy for myself it
September fattens on vines. Roses
flake from the wall. The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.
This is plenty. This is more than enough.
Autumn is beautiful, surely, but it brings with it a feeling of imminent finality. I have made an elegy for myself it is true is a perfect little phrase and it sums up the feeling of writing in Autumn. There’s a certain urgency to these coming months. If you’re writing, which I hope you are, be sure to let that feeling come easily to both your coursework and your poems/stories.
Justice Yennie takes a look at Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics, and the essential understanding of the economy that it offers to its readers.
Basic Economics is the holy book for the aspiring capitalist. The cover claims it is a “Citizen’s Guide to the Economy,” but this book is far more than the unbiased handbook it is typically viewed as. Sowell indeed defines many of the basic concepts that one would find in a similarly themed work, but never misses an opportunity to add his opinion. Defining supply and demand quickly segues into the failures of the U.S.S.R. and how the free-market economies did it better. Sowell makes quite the argument, though it should be said that any eager neophyte (myself included) ought to be wary lest they view his words with an overly accepting mind. One of the primary charms of this book is its accessibility. Mercifully, Sowell spares us the soul-crushing mathematics of what is referred to as the “dismal science,” and keeps Basic Economics basic; you will find no graphs or derivatives here.Beyond the conservatism, there are several points Sowell makes that he believes no economist could argue against. One of the most convincing of these is that not enough people understand economics, whether they are intelligentsia, politicians (regrettably too often), or the average citizen. He proves with eloquence that economics is accessible and that knowledge of a few basic concepts can allow anyone to make sense of how politics is actually affecting things like rent, the price of gas, and why peanut butter costs what it costs.Another good point that Sowell brings to the table is that skepticism is indispensable when dealing with the strident voices of the great legion of politicians, journalists, and other economists that have “axes to grind.” Statistics can be twisted in countless ways to make one argument or another (ironically Sowell’s own opinions in Basic Economics sometimes fall prey to this logic). Far too frequently, facts are left trampled in the wake of people’s quest to be “right”. Truly, if someone did know all the answers, would we still have problems like recessions?We do not have the perfect system yet, and discussion is often hindered by over-generalisation. Phrases like “war on poverty,” “welfare state,” and “rich and poor,” are bandied about with abandon. Sowell shows that there are many distinctions to be made, and not everything is black and white. Some still live in the past, believing that in order to win, others must inevitably lose out. That is not the case, as Sowell proves. The “fallacious assumption that economic transactions are a zero-sum process,” plagues political theory today. Some political figures (our dear Mr. Trump for example) act as if one country can somehow “beat” another, and gain victory in the process. Sowell does not believe this is possible, which he elaborates on alongside the plethora of other theories that encumber proper discourse.Basic Economics is clear and easy to read. It is not without bias, but Sowell’s opinions are more a sounding board for discussion than a one-way diatribe, and should not prevent the reader from making his own judgments. The basic information can help the layman understand really what is going on behind the scenes of politics. Eloquent and precise, Basic Economics makes the dismal science a little less dismal. Justice Yennie
Nicola Simonetti, our culture editor, attended Literary Society's Beat Jam Session on Monday, September 14th in the basement of Aikmans, and found that beat culture is still alive and thriving.
It was 1955 when Allen Ginsberg performed Howl for the first time. Sixty years later, The Literary Society of St Andrews celebrated his works and the works of other Beat poets with a dynamic and enthusiastic reading at Aikman’s on September 14th.‘Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!’ said Whitman is his eponymous poem. And that is how the night began, Robbie Leeson hypnotised the audience with his saxophone and silence filled the room. Several students performed (Tahra Mok, Nicola Simonetti, Ryan Hay), reading out their favourite poems while enjoying a pint or two. It was an impromptu reading, as LitSoc tried to evoke the inspired, yet disorganized atmosphere of the Beats. Aikman's basement was the ideal environment. With more than thirty people crammed in at sunset, it conveyed a vibe of craziness and audacity that Ginsberg must have felt the first time he started writing his most known poem 'Howl'. The Jam Session could not have taken place anywhere else.Without any sort of introduction (Kerouac, Ginsberg and Whitman need none), the Beat Generation Jam Session was simply a group of loud people spontaneously sharing, or rather screaming, their poems. Featuring an integral reading of 'Howl' by Alexandra Julienne (President of Inklight), major and minor poems were performed. After a few breaks for chatting, Samantha Evans, who is working on a dissertation-documentary on the Beat Poets, shared some of her knowledge about the first reading of 'Howl' at the Six Poet at Six Gallery Reading, and what happened at their after party. The bohemian lifestyle anecdote is a bit too risqué to be included in this review.LitSoc’s Jam Session is the living proof that ‘the Beat is not dead!’. Similar to the landmark 6 Gallery reading in 1955, the Beat Generation reading brought together a remarkable number of artists (and viewers), all sharing their passion for a literary group which changed the way society was perceived. From shouting at performers to speed up to simply listening, everybody stepped forward and contributed to the Jam Session in one way or another. Besides being an educative experience (which was not the purpose of this social), the Beat Generation reading’s liveliness disposed of the idea of Poetry Slams as one-way experiences where a few performers deliver their poetry to an audience. It offered, instead, a two-way experience, where everybody learnt, read, and responded to Postmodern poetry and the Beat poets themselves thanks to half a dozen books provided by LitSoc.Continuing for more than two hours, the Jam Session did not attract only English students or native speakers already familiar with the Beat vocabulary. On the contrary, it was a melting pot of different cultures and literary traditions, making of Aikman’s the new Six Gallery of St Andrews. Might this seal the rise of a new literary group denouncing the madness destroying the best minds of our generation?Either way, the success and uniqueness of the Beat Generation Jam Session cannot be denied. As Kerouac himself said: ‘Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion’. Nicola Simonetti Photo credit to Nicola Simonetti and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, U of T
Each year, St Andrews welcomes thousands of new people, including freshers, postgrads, and faculty. Throughout this semester, The Tribe will be introducing some new voices to the St Andrews community. A lot of writing happens here obviously, but luckily it isn’t all academic! For this first issue, we are introducing Maciej, a new postgrad who writes in a number of languages, including of course English, but also Polish, Arabic, Hebrew, and French. His poems are sharp, playing with the relationship between beauty and darkness. We’ve included two of them here. You can find more of his work @ http://malariyh.blogspot.co.uk/
Jack Coopey takes a look at the text 'Plato's Republic' and what it means for our beliefs regarding literature and writing itself.
What then will cascade from its rigid structures, if we permit the destruction of the false dichotomy of philosophy and literature? Or perhaps more crucially, what then is the history of literature, and its consequent nature? Furthermore, what is the nature of writing itself in relation to speech, and the supposed ''real'' phenomena that it refers and signifies?Within in this paradigm of thought, I shall comment upon Maurice Blanchot's The Infinite Conversation as itself a metatextual attempt to dissolve the critical distinction between so called philosophy and literature from a phenomenological perspective. The text I shall utilize for analysis is Plato's Republic. From the works of Jacques Derrida and Maurice Merleau-Ponty who also sought to analyse the fundamental presuppositions behind questions of language, Blanchot begins his text by analysing how meaning is constructed with dialogue with the Autrui or the Other, the work of Edmund Husserl which has been a prevalent trope in Continental philosophy, and the analysis of language also. Blanchot argues that the ''speech of writing'' is not only non-dialectical, or causal, but something beyond both in terms of how interruption in a conversation creates a distance between the two interlocutors, but does not allow them too close to become solipsistic, and permits speech. Such that, when people have a conversation, there must be apotheosis, a gap, a space of silence in order to not only generate an exchange, but meaning itself.
Putting this analysis of Husserl's Other and comparing it to Plato's Republic, to what extent are such figures as Glaucon designated as the recipient of Socrates' monologues? Perhaps to the fullest extent, aside from committing the authorial fallacy, as we know that Plato aspired to become a playwright or an author, rather than a philosopher, the lower form of Greek art. Although the concept of the Other has become a household name in postcolonial theory and other forms of literary theory, the extent to which Blanchot's innovative usage demonstrates we still require a working definition between Heidegger's ontological care for the Other, and Levinas' pre-ontological, ethical concern as the fundamental question of philosophy itself. Derrida's hearing-oneself-speak practice would be the pre-cogito which Husserl talks of incessantly in his works. This proves an interesting phenomenological example, when discussing a supposed ''self'' and ''I'' in language, and thus in literary terms, what the other ''I'' would mean. In Republic, we can recall questions such as: What is the good? What is justice? What is the soul? All of which not only presupposes the ethical question of Otherness itself, but also presupposes perhaps naively, that the other is merely another ''I'', not something negatively presupposed as Blanchot reminds.Blanchot's text itself is split up into three consecutive part. The second tackles the ''limit-experience'', or the experience of reality itself and what that constitutes in terms of language, and thus literature. The third part of his text explores constructing language as inherently a ''poetic fragment'', to which the realism of prose, or the surrealism of poetry can never attain its signified meaning. It is always spaced from its original posit. In relation to Republic, we can see this poetic, metaphorical nature of language itself within the example of Plato's Noble Lie, a thing that binds the polis together but cannot be understood without its law. Furthermore, classical philosophy itself proclaims that Plato’s Republic is a philosophical text, yet as a dialogue it is a piece of literature. Thus even at its definition and centre, the philosophy and literature distinction is itself a aporia, a paradox.In conclusion, despite Blanchot's non-originality in terms of content, he analyses the limits of language in the constitution of literature, and our seemingly arbitrary distinctions between poetry and prose. When considering such texts as Rimbaud's A Season in Hell, our conceptions of meter or rhyme to which poetry adheres collapse, and the prose thus does not conform either in its definition of being a narrative-based writing convention. Furthermore, building on these preliminary remarks in this article, I continue to ask to what extent can we extend these deconstructive elements outside of literary theory? To what extent is anthropology an inflection of art history? Or how much is chemistry linked to the poetic form? Perhaps as Blanchot thinks, we do not require a new dialectic, nor a new form of causation, but a new materialistic idealism that is required to re-think our beliefs regarding language. Jack Coopey
Maya Moritz, looks back on one of Stephen King's most iconic works ‘The Shining’, in celebration of the release of his most recent novel ‘Finders Keepers’. Few people will approach The Shining by Stephen King without having seen, or at least heard about, the 1980 movie starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The story follows writer and recovered alcoholic Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and his psychic son Danny, when Jack becomes caretaker of a hotel hiding a dark past. While reading King’s book, I was distraught to see that such an incredible cult-classic film was based on such a displeasing novel. However, this pain was temporary as my mind became accustomed to the work’s simplistic style and odd, somewhat surreal dialogue. Once adjusted, The Shining became a different sort of entertainment: campier, less serious, but nonetheless meritorious and worth reading, if only to prove how ridiculously talented Kubrick was as an adaptor of the book.King will rarely force you to utilize a dictionary, which is comforting in a way. His work will not make you ponder philosophical quandaries, nor fear for your life (unless you are reading at night in an old creaky house, as I foolishly did), but The Shining has a certain effect. It draws you in, like the hotel draws its unfortunate caretaker into its corridors. In this way, King is a master of enticement. Towards the end of the novel, I was speed-reading in frenzied anticipation of what would become of Wendy and Danny. However, the plot twists are as simple and reliable as the writing style. Nothing about the book is subtle, from Jack’s evident character flaws to a multitude of horrific events that make the final scene anti-climactic. The final scene is perhaps the largest disappointment. After devouring 659 pages, albeit quick ones, the reader face a conclusion that feels like a man shooting a machine gun in every direction and somehow still missing his target. The nose-dive in subtlety and complexity by the end of the text is disappointing.The plot events are the area in which the book falters most. These parts are improved in the movie version (described in the documentary Room 237), which I will compare with the book to show how slight changes could have made the text more effective. The roque mallet that is so integral to the book’s horror is far more frightening as an axe in the movie. Wendy’s blonde hair turns into Shelley Duvall’s pale skin, dark hair, and noticeable teeth in the movie, an understated way create the traditional image of the gothic heroine and mother.At the same time, the book’s many (often extraneous) background details result in some worthwhile contributions to the plot. Jack’s alcoholism is well trod-out, but his friendship with Al Shockley is relatable. Danny’s spells of psychic powers grow tiring after a few pages, and I sighed with relief when those chapters came to a close. While the first scene of the book is an unrealistic mess, the way in which Jack teases Mr. Ullman delivers comic relief like Mercutio and Lear’s fool manage to do in Shakespeare’s plays.Most importantly, Wendy’s relationship with her mother has a dimensionality that the rest of the book lacks. Wendy is easily the most sympathetic character in the book, and her narrations are the most enjoyable to read. Because of the book’s role in pop culture, readers may already know some of the story before embarking on The Shining. As the reader realizes Jack’s state of mind alongside Wendy, readers who know what will happen can find as much fear and confusion in Wendy’s discovery as those who will be experiencing the story for the first time.The Shining is not a great book. In terms of its subtlety and writing style, it is not an especially good book either. But its redeeming qualities, which include its many perspectives, interesting characters, stirring plotline, and quick surprises, save the book from campy melodrama and make the story well worth reading on a trip to the beach or a road trip. Maya Moritz
Flo McQuibban writes a comparative review on Lorenzaccio by Alfred de Musset and Lorenzaccio as interpreted by Franco Zeffirelli
As a reader and a critic, it is undeniable that ambiguity of character is the most stimulating and exhausting aspect of the play Lorenzaccio written by Alfred de Musset and the film Lorenzaccio as interpreted by Franco Zeffirelli. Given that the main character, Lorenzo, is based on the real Lorenzino de’ Medici, it is no wonder that the image of him as an implicit Jekyll & Hyde is even more penetrating and lingering: a real enigma makes for an interesting read. Due to the history, Lorenzo’s intentions and the ending of the play are no secret — therefore, I will divulge as little as possible about the plot and contents, so some mystery may remain.Imagine a fan fiction about the Queen — fret not, for the curious, I have already written one. Writer Musset and screenwriter Zeffirelli take a historical figure, and hyperbolise him into a progressively evolving gender-neutral flamboyant closet gay — who does not love that?On one hand, the picturesque Lorenzo is described as the feminine archetype of Florence’s debauchery, on another hand, he is sly and conniving (not unlike a contestant on RuPaul’s drag race — we were all thinking it). A living antithesis, Lorenzo is a child, but he is also Brutus, he is a woman and a man, he is innocent, and he is guilty. Even his flamboyant gesticulations mock his surreptitious diabolical plan to assassinate the Duke – he is a man (kind of) with a plan.In Act III, scene 3, “Am I a Satan?” is the question that introduces his doleful tirade where he has a Hamlet-like self-deprecating dilemma. In this touching scene, he purposefully splits himself by offering an external perspective of his own experience as an anti-hero with a somewhat carnal hamartia. Cousin of Alessandro the Duke, he laments his situation; shall I kill a member of my family who I also frequently imagine nude? I totally think so. Despite the win-win situation of being related and attracted to each other – Lorenzo decides that the decrepitude that Florence has become, now engulfed in its own iniquity, is a bit paramount to his own incestuous Game of Thrones love affair.Zeffirelli’s interpretation of the play acts as complimentary, underlining the ambiguity even more so by severing Lorenzo’s personality between the characters; he is a traitor to everyone, but he is loyal to the Duke, the person he assassinates — which makes sense the less you think about it. Additionally, Zeffirelli plays around more with Lorenzo’s already questionable sexuality. He is seen kissing various women, but is also described as frail and feminine. He also engages in kissing with men, notably Tebaldeo the artist, and even the Duke (an act that was only ever made explicit in the reader’s murky mind…).The Duke often calls him “Lorenzina” or “Lorenzetta”, which are feminine diminutives in Italian. Most importantly, he calls him “mignon” (Act IV, scène 11). Most commonly known as meaning “cute” in French, or preceded by “filet” on restaurant menus, “mignon” in a XV century context is the term designating the ruler’s favourites (wink, nudge). When Henri III comes into power in 1551, it begins to take a sexual connotation, although the first to associate it with homosexuality were the Calvinists. The play is of course set in 1535, but was published in 1834 – and considering the numerous anachronisms made by Musset, it would not be implausible to claim that “mignon” should be understood as “homosexual” — not very subtle, Alfredo.In the first Act it is claimed that Lorenzo previously decapitated eight statues in Rome, yet he can barely hold a sword in the play, which could quite possibly be intentional restraint. To hold a phallic symbol with agility would tarnish his credibility. His intentions might be deciphered in his walk, which is slow and crooked. Zeffirelli has his actor walk in a protracted, calculated manner, with the demeanour of a man who has something to hide. His violence is also covert and insinuated; however, in Zeffirelli’s adaptation, Lorenzo kisses the Duke after killing him, sending the reader back into perpetual and profound perplexity.Lorenzo is no doubt an amalgamation of an anti-hero and a romantic hero who is representative of a lost generation in an era that seems ill fitting. Just as the author, Lorenzo has le mal du siècle. It is not hard to link Lorenzo to Brutus by his murder and treason, and to Hamlet by his rhetorical questions, making it a very relatable play. Practically gender neutral Lorenzo, debauched, sweet, but deadly, is every reader’s romantic anti-hero fantasy, and Zeffirelli takes that to the next level. I highly recommend reading Lorenzaccio whilst watching Zeffirelli’s interpretation with subtitles, as this offers a unique multi-dimensional experience of a play that was never intended to be acted out. Flo McQuibban
In Brittle Glass, the final instalment of To Prove a Villain, Richard’s reign will end the way it began – with blood.
Richard Plantagenet – Mayor of New York City.Harriet Stafford – Speaker of the New York City Council and confidante to Richard.Katherine Woodville – Harriet Stafford’s partnerWilliam Catesby – Richard’s chief of staffFrank Lovell – Richard’s aideRebecca Ratcliffe – Richard’s aide
An interrogation room. Quarter to twelve. As Harriet had confessed everything – not just her own guilt in connection to Hastings’ murder but the fact this had been done at Richard’s behest and that he had murdered Edward - the officer questioning her had, rightly, become more and more incredulous. He was pacing in front of the table she was sat behind now, a stark contrast to her continued calm. The second officer, standing by the door, simply looked on.“These are some very serious allegations you’re making, Miss Stafford.”“They’re not just allegations, they’re the truth. Everything I have told you - about Hastings’ murder, about Edward’s, the rigged elections – it’s all true.”There was an earnestness in her voice, calm as it was, that could not be denied. Yet the officer looked as though he was going to laugh. He stopped pacing, then, resting his hands on the back of his own chair, gave an incredulous shake of his head before looking directly at Harriet once more.“Forgive me, Miss Stafford, if I take everything you’ve told me with a large pinch of salt. It’s in a politician’s nature to lie, and you’re as political as they come. The speaker of the council accusing the mayor-”“If I was lying, would I be here?” Harriet snapped, her calm demeanour swiftly fading at the prospect of her story – no, the truth – not being believed. In all the ways she had envisioned this scenario in her head, she hadn’t imagined one in which she wasn’t believed. But, it was a truly twisted, incredible story. Two people dead and the elections rigged, and one of the men who had died was the brother of the man who currently controlled the city...“What?”“If I was lying, officer, would I have turned myself in for murder?”If the officer was surprised at the question he did not show it, responding as swiftly as she had to his statement about politicians lying by nature.“You kept this secret until now, you covered it up. Why are you only telling us this now?”“That’s the point I’m trying to make,” Harriet replied, a slight note of desperation in her voice now. “I should have come to you before, hell, I shouldn’t have done any of this, but I’m here now and-”“Were you trying to protect him, is that it?”“Why would I want to protect a man who threatened to kill me?”The officer sighed and turned away, moving over to his colleague at the door. They exchanged a few brief, hushed words before the first officer exited, presumably to speak with his colleagues behind the one-way mirror. An uncomfortable silence followed for the next couple of minutes until the officer returned, and when he did, his expression was unreadable.“I’ve dispatched officers with a warrant for the mayor’s arrest,” he explained. “A story like that...you couldn’t make something like that up.”
Richard looked from the broken phone on the floor to the hand that had thrown it. That hadn’t been the wisest move. He needed to stay in touch with Ratcliffe as she was the only connection he had to Harriet’s situation at this point. But, even Ratcliffe’s telling him what had happened didn’t mean Richard could believe it. The repercussions from the Times article that morning had come far sooner than expected; it had been a blank cartridge, this was the bullet. That Harriet had turned herself in, Richard did not doubt – what else would she have been arrested for, and so soon after the re-opening of the Hastings investigation too?No, she had planned this. She had planned to betray him, even as she professed her loyalty, even after he had reminded her of the fate she would face if she went against him... He was so furious he was sure he could have killed her himself – and why hadn’t he? Entrusting the job to Ratcliffe - what had he been thinking? Now not only was Harriet still alive but she was doubtless telling the NYPD exactly what had transpired between them over the past months. How he had persuaded her to conspire alongside him, how he had murdered his brother, how he had forced her to murder William Hastings, how they had both rigged the elections, just to drive home the point that murder – and fratricide – simply hadn’t been enough...But what was strange about all this – aside from this unprecedented betrayal – was the fact that Richard found himself both angry enough to want to kill Harriet, yet he also wanted to speak to her. He wanted her to tell him exactly why she had done what she did. Why, after everything they had done, equally guilty and bloodstained, she had chosen to destroy them both. He almost wanted to know what it felt like. Guilt. What emotion, what mere feeling, could be strong enough to overwhelm her reason like that, to make her ignore all the threats, the warning signs, and doom herself?He would not say she had doomed them both. No, he wouldn’t say that again. Harriet may have been willing to surrender to the law, to let justice be done and endure the punishment she felt she deserved, but Richard was not such a coward as to hide behind the law he had defied for so long. After all, in his mind, he was not guilty. He did not deserve arrest, trial, a lifetime behind bars. In his mind, his actions were not crimes. Edward and Hastings, both of them had deserved to die. And as for the rigged elections, well, the people were too stupid to elect the right man, so he had taken matters into his own hands. They should be thanking him. Edward and Hastings had not been fit to lead the city but he, Richard, he was not only fit for the job but he deserved it, he deserved it more than they had ever done. He had suffered and this had been his reward. This had been his reward, no, this was his reward. It still was. If he was going to give it up, he would do so on his own terms. Richard Plantagenet would not come quietly – quite the contrary.It was only then he realised he had been pacing, frantic, wild, like an animal trapped in a cage, his thoughts becoming his words, muttered, frantic.“They all deserved to die, I’m not guilty, I’m a villain, I’m not, I did what I had to do....”Then came others, his words, others’ words, old words, all in quick succession.Whether these words were memories or he said them aloud, he no longer noticed, no longer cared.“I’m not asking you to kill him, Harriet. I am perfectly capable of doing that myself.”Richard continued to pace across the floor.“I’ve always trusted you, Richard, you know that.”He stopped and shook his head. Edward shouldn’t have trusted him, Harriet shouldn’t have trusted him, not when he couldn’t trust himself...“You expect me to be like you, is that it, to feel nothing, not to feel the slightest shred of remorse for anything...I’m not like that, Richard, I’m not like you!”Did he really feel nothing, as he professed? Why was he dwelling in these words, these memories? If his suspicions were true they would be coming for him even now...“You won’t regret this. Trust me.”He moved towards the desk, filled with a sudden clarity even amidst the voices in his head, the voices in which he spoke out loud. He now knew what he was going to do, and he would not regret it.“Don’t worry Edward. I’ll see you again soon, I promise.”The sound of footsteps in the corridor.Will Catesby’s voice.“You can’t just barge in there-”Richard opened the drawer. The door to his office burst open and the officers strode in.“Richard Plantagenet, you’re under arrest.”He simply stared, for a moment or two. But his gaze was dead, unseeing. He removed the gun from the drawer. Immediately the officers reached for their own guns and one of them yelled for him to drop the weapon. Instead he raised it higher, higher, till it was pressed against his temple. Now the others had joined in, insistent, commanding; drop it! Richard wasn’t listening. All he could hear now were the voices inside his own head, and they said the opposite.“Execution? Yes, it will come to that.”
I would like to thank Catriona for this fantastic contribution over the academic year. It's been so enjoyable reading every episode - and what a great finale!
Disclaimer:This serial is inspired partly by historical fact and partly by historical fiction (that being Shakespeare’s Richard III); however, as the setting (New York City) is very much a real location – as are other businesses and events I have used – I felt the following disclaimer to be necessary. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The repetition of the title holds its brilliancy, expressed boldly in the routine which is outlined close to the beginning of Iris Murdoch’s novel – each morning the protagonist, Charles Arrowby, drops off a cliff into the sea.His isolate nakedness, the plash and tor of water is captured with a tone of reflectiveness which allows us to know that Arrowby will rise again out of the waves, repeat the cycle. After all, The Sea, The Sea is a novel concerning being trapped in routines whilst simultaneously being confronted, even tempted, by the possibilities for escape strewn around us. As a novelist, Murdoch is not unacquainted with introducing the paradoxes and conflicts of life to her readers, as in her first novel – Under The Net. Her novels highlight entrapment yet simultaneous exploration, a gradual process of exploring and unfolding. Murdoch was nominated for The Booker Prize four times before finally winning it with The Sea, The Sea, her 19th novel, in 1978.Although The Sea, The Sea holds key aspects of melancholy, as can be expected, it is also deeply, often amusingly, satirical. The first person unreliable narrator and protagonistl Charles Arrowby is a fascinatingly pompous figure who is difficult to dislike. Indeed, difficult to dislike, but also difficult to love. This is shown in that although he, an ex-theatre director and what would be constituted a ‘success’, has escaped to the isolated coastal house of Shruff End, he is haunted by his last relationships. In effect, his presence is eroded by the tides of the past – like a continuing process of dissolving or digestion. At multiple instances, the dreamy fluid narrative is interrupted by Arrowby’s own accounts of the food he cooks for and eats himself – pasta layered in oil and herbs, bread with cheese, meals increasing in size, bulk and complexity. It is this sheer physical presence which marks a discomfort within the beauty, even suggesting the compromise of the human body.Here a man who has arrived for spiritual escape, and his body has betrayed him.After all, Arrowby seems a character rather incapable for accepting the full moral authority for his actions. In eating he is feeding, feeding the ego which so dominates the narrative. This is a somewhat obvious metaphor; Murdoch’s presentation of character therefore may be regarded as flawed by some, but perhaps it is intended to be. As well as a novelist, Murdoch was also a philosopher, keen in emphasizing the importance of the ‘internal life’ to moral action. Although regards himself as in control, Arrowby, in effect, allows his life to be overtaken by his connections to others.For example, in becoming acquainted with Shruff End, he co-incidentally catches a glimpse of his long-lost, long-term love, Hartley. It is somewhat unusual that she is not mentioned before his actual physical sighting of her, now an aging woman as he is an aging man - but this can be seen as a strategic part of using unreliable narrators and actually highlighting his lack of human empathy. It could also be seen that Arrowby treats people, especially those he is romantically interested in, like oranges – an assumed solitary pleasure, something to turn over in his mind, his hands, aiming to gain control, to touching each segment. This want for control is demonstrated in that he baits Hartley to his house under the premise of her long-lost son being there; Arrowby is capable of feeding other peoples' human empathy to make up for the complications within his own.These complications are seemingly exacerbated by the interspersing of friends and acquaintances throughout Arrowby’s narrative account, including the bachelor Peregrine, and the seemingly overblown Buddhist (and possibly gay) cousin, James. This compiling of characters – current loves and ex-lovers, friends and family gives an almost claustrophobic effect which is quite remarkable given the protagonists attempt to escape from social obligation into isolation. Only he can’t, and the sea reminds him of this – its beautiful turbulence reflecting back what Murdoch has captured so deliciously within a novel – the beautiful turbulence of life.The Sea, The Sea is a novel of conflicts, of love and love, passion and resent – the changing tide of human emotions which is difficult to capture. Murdoch could appear to be trying too hard to capture it at times, with repeated clichés and perhaps some element of the stock character, but perhaps this is the point: we cannot escape our flaws, just as Charles Arrowby cannot escape or cleanse himself of his, no matter how many times he jumps off a cliff and into the sea. Emily Oldfield Image Credit: wikimedia.org
A constantly delivering poet to The Tribe's Creative Writing section, Stan Usovicz sent us his poem Drop, Sip, Drop, Plop - a poignant, emotional and thought-provoking plea from its author for not only safe, clean and accessible water for all, but for those with the privilege of access to clean water to reduce its wastage. This poem encourages us to think about what we consider privileges and draws us to uncomfortable and unsettling areas of both the world and our own thoughts that we choose to ignore. Thank you for your poem Stan! Drip, Sip, Drop, PlopWe don’t even think when we leave on the sinkDrips hit the basin with a resounding, “plink”Drip, Sip, Drop, Plop, - Makes you thinkOur toilet water is better than what some people drinkPlants, animals, and the smallest cells have the same conditionGrowth and survival innately depend on nutritionDrip, Sip, Drop, Plop- ListenAll life would stop if hydration were deficientMaybe if all people of all nations would listenMaybe if the people on vacation would listenMaybe if those in high paid positions,Would take their mind off profit acquisitionWe could improve our current conditionWe’ve taken a basic human need and made it a commodityMeaning a man can sit outside a store and pleadFor a resource, which of course, he needs desperatelyBut will go without because he can’t afford the feeAt some point we have to stop and question-Is human life an important investment?Drip, Sip, Drop, Plop – Do I need to mentionThat capitalism doesn’t always have best intentions?It’s not a question of politics or profitsIt’s a choice of economics vs. coffinsDrip, Sip, Drop, Plop- Stop itNext hour long shower, you might put some thought inEight hundred million people desperately need itIt’s caused more deaths than wars and airborne diseasesDrip, Sip, Drop, Plop- pleaseOpen your eyes before our water depletesIf you are a son, daughter, or citizen of earthIf you recognize that human life has its worthIf you want to stop something bad getting worseRemember thatDrip,Sip,Drop,PlopThat some people have never heard. Stan Usovicz
I always remember at school what a treat it would seem to get that £1 World Book Day token each year. While most of my classmates swiftly discarded theirs under desks or at the bottom of bags - those more business savvy might even trade them for something they deemed more valuable - I was the kid who took the utmost care of that little piece of paper and couldn't wait to get to the nearest bookshop where I would inevitably wear my mum's patience thin by spending far too long choosing something to add to my already overflowing bookshelves.Between solving mysteries with Enid Blyton's Famous Five, giving myself nightmares from Roald Dalh's The Witches and, of course, wishing an letter of acceptance from Hogwarts would arrive in the post, books played a huge part in my childhood (and, it would seem, my young-adulthood as I now find myself almost halfway through an English degree in spite of ever dwindling job prospects). I would rarely leave my bedroom, let alone my house, without a trusty book to accompany me, and in light of last week's World Book Day celebration I thought I would take a moment to reflect on some of the stories that have stayed with me as I've grown up.As a child there are few things as thrilling as a good adventure story, and some of my favourites were Eva Ibbotson’s novels, in particular Journey to the River Sea, which I remember reading over and over again. Following the plight of orphaned protagonist Maia as she sets out for Brazil to live with her relatives, this book definitely ranks as one of my childhood favourites; I was always delighted by the twists and turns in the plot, and enthralled by the vivid Amazon setting. I was likewise enchanted by Ibbotson’s The Star of Kazan which left me with a (still unfulfilled) ambition to visit the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Although perhaps a tad idealistic to my now more cynical reading, I still think there is a certain charm in Ibbotson’s books, in particular in her knack for infusing the locations of her stories with such life that, aged ten, I felt as if I knew Vienna and Brazil so well I might have lived in both places myself.Continuing down the path of mystery and adventure, it is probably unsurprising that Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden was another favourite of mine. Spoiled brat-ish Mary is a refreshing contrast to the entirely innocent heroines of Ibbotson’s books, and for kids I think there is definitely a grow-with-the-character aspect to this kind of protagonist. The garden itself is an alluring concept – what child doesn’t want a ‘secret’ place to hide out with friends and call their own? There is definitely something magical about this one that makes it appeal to children and adults alike, and it is thoroughly deserving of its position as one of the reigning classics of children’s literature.One final thing I find striking as I think back over some of the books I read as a child is how so many of them simply transcend time. Not only can re-reading a childhood favourite revive the delight felt upon first encountering it, but there are so many books marketed for children that are in fact quite complex if we come back to them when we’re older – take Watership Down, The Hobbit and even To Kill a Mockingbird. All three have been labelled ‘children’s books,’ yet that is certainly not to say that their readership is or should be restricted to children. Overall I think there is a lot to be said for children’s literature, and even more to be learnt from it, be it profound life lessons or basic literacy. In this so called digital age I can only hope that books won’t be neglected by future generations of children as they grow up, and this is exactly why events like World Book Day, trivial as they may seem, are really quite important. Victoria Walsh
In light of this week's student elections, Stan Usovicz's next poemThink Small seems particularly relevant. It continues the theme of consumption from Drip, Sip, Drop, Plop and reminds us that while thinking of others is a quality often taught to young children or espoused by us, through whatever means, we much prefer to indulge in ourselves and boost our own ego in a number of forms. In this particular poem, the need to 'think small' is not only apparent in the content but in Stan's lexical choice as he refrains from using flowery language or complex metaphors; the message he wants to get across is, evidently, and firstly, the most important thing. Think SmallThink about yourself- that’s what you need to doQuench your thirst with a Sprite, stuff your face with some foodFill your house with things, a TV for each roomWatch plenty of shows, but don’t watch the NewsFind a good paying job, complete with stock optionsYou’ll make a good wage, not as much as your bossesSpend it all quickly- swipe your card without cautionOr save up your money and live like a BrahminFind yourself a spouse, have a child or twoKeep everyone happy, and entertained tooGo on vacations and trips to the zooWhen you travel abroad, just sit by the poolLook inward, not at the world that surrounds youDon’t listen to logic, even if it sounds trueDon’t worry about problems that don’t harm youOther people can solve it, the burden’s not on youScrew all the others! they’re resource trapsThe water you need- it flows from their tapsThe poor they complain- forget all their yapsTell a shoeless man to lift himself up by his boot-strapsNever think about the way the world is constructedDon’t concern yourself with the world’s social justiceWhen you think macro its far too destructiveYou’ll have to tackle difficult discussionsOver population, Water depletionSecurity v. private freedom,God v. an atheist’s reasonBreaking a law for something you believe inThe less we read, the more we watch TVThe less we reason, the more we “believe”The less we talk, we’ll begin to seeThe less we think, the happier we’ll be. Stan Usovicz
We're so glad to hear from Tom Liney with his new poem 50/50. Inspired by 'glacier stalking' in Patagonia over the Christmas holidays, 50/50 touches upon chance and the game of life. If you have been inspired by any experiences you have had lately and want to write about it, please send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. 50/50
‘How heavy it is- this brokennesswhich couldn’t be helped.' (Esther Morgan, ‘Muntjac’)
My ears tune to the roar of toothpaste iceBooming between reluctant jaws as it surrenders to nature’s play.My eyes squint as winks of sunlight dance on its wrinkled surface-Blinding flares that go unnoticed.My hands grip the boat rail. I stand unmoved.Waiting for the show. Waiting for it all to unfold.I watch the ice shelf plunge even faster than he fell-Wondering, what if I had been there just a minute before?Screams of awe break out and cameras jostle for positionTo reduce it all to a digital mime - the sight of nature’s play; captured.And now staring at this gigantic mesh of ice,I feel like I’m staring straight at him.I look up from where he jumped and watch,Maybe I was looking for his other self, you know-The one that promised me I’d be safe.But I suppose the truth is- it could have happened to anyone.You know as well as I do that there are graphs and equationsTo prove this and that, but somehowI can’t accept that it all comes down to follied fate.A wasteland of secrets, a burial site for sanity-Life’s script is as cruel as stealing a dying man’s last word.So, unable to predict and unable to understandYou move to where that other wasteland lies.Far removed, yet so close it blurs into nothingness-Emptied of stoic chance but filled with understood goodbyes.You play god to this wasteland. No more 50/50. Tom Liney
The Shock of the Fall has all the raw, essential elements of a first novel. It is tinged with angst, unapologetically gritty and yet holds a particular poignancy. Perhaps even more poignant is the fact that it is not only the narrator’s first novel, but the first novel of the author Nathan Filer, who won the Costa Prize for this book. The Costa Prize is relatively contemporary, and Filer maintains this mood within the novel – a contemporary and spontaneous approach through an unstable, haunted narrator recording his thoughts on a typewriter. This positioning of the narrator, Matthew, reveals that he is so much more than a diagnosis; thus, Filer combats common conceptions of mental illness. In actuality, there is not set point in the novel in which Matthew is formally diagnosed.Ultimately, life is felt not in the formalities, but in the complications of sensation underneath, and it is these sensations that the character of Matthew evokes to great depth, especially through the recurring return of the narrative to his childhood. The novel opens with a sense of impersonality as Matthew recalls his experiences of ‘the girl and her doll’ – how his boyish self in a burst of half-fear, half-curiosity pushes a little girl into the mud. In this light, the narrative could seem composed of fractured memories, but Filer instead writes with a cut-glass crispness that keeps the reader aware of something greater underneath. Underlying Matthew’s every sensation is the death of his beloved brother Simon, who was born with Downs Syndrome, and as the novel unfolds, so does Matthew's guilt and what he understands as the ‘shock of the fall’ – the belief that he is responsible for his brother’s death.The Shock of the Fall is ultimately an exploration of the indeterminacy of reality and how potentially terrifying it can be. We never discover if Matthew’s self-blame is wrongly placed, just as we never definitively know what he is afflicted with – but what we are led to understand is that the mind itself is a complex series of narratives and lasting impressions. Particularly profound is the interlinking of ‘the girl and her doll’ to the end of the novel, where the girl and her experiences with grief return to help Matthew come to terms with his own sorrow.Yet this is not only a novel of coming-to-terms but also one of coming-of-age with a young narrator whose wry humour and ironic observations on the treatment of mental illness it is difficult to dislike. As Filer himself observed of his complicated protagonist, ‘I got to know him by spending time in his company’, and the reader is similarly invited into the confusing array of experiences affecting Matt - from his absence from school and subsequent isolation, to his living in a flat with a friend, to his later institutionalisation. We are invited to witness the human condition under various impressions of reality, just as Matt himself creates handwritten invitations in the closing pages, fondly addressing ‘To Nanny Noo and Grandad’. Here we see a young man haunted by impressions of infancy, yet increasingly building upon this past to construct what could be a better future. It is both unnerving and incredibly beautiful. Emily Oldfield
In the ninth installment of Catriona Scott's To Prove a Villain series, O Coward Conscience, even Richard’s threats cannot put paid to Harriet’s guilt. A few wrong words from Katherine, suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Hastings’ death, lead her to reveal more than she ever planned, putting them both in danger in the process.
Richard Plantagenet – Mayor of New York City.Harriet Stafford – Speaker of the New York City Council and confidante to Richard.Katherine Woodville – Harriet Stafford’s partnerWilliam Catesby – Richard’s chief of staffFrank Lovell – Richard’s aideRebecca Ratcliffe – Richard’s aide
O Coward Conscience
It wasn’t until around nine o’clock that night that Harriet arrived home. It was almost as if she had thought that working late would help, in some small way, to put her back in Richard’s good graces – and, indeed, he had seemed pleased when she passed him in the foyer just as she was leaving City Hall. He had smiled, and she knew Richard's smiles were rare, even now when he was at the height of his power. But there was something about that smile that made her uneasy. Perhaps it was the fact that Richard rarely smiled in and of itself - or was it something more?When Harriet arrived back at her apartment, she found Katherine waiting for her. She had expected this, but what she had not expected was for Katherine to run over to her the moment she was through the door, embracing her in an almost uncomfortably tight hug. Harriet managed to extricate herself from this – with some difficulty – before posing her question.“Katherine, what the hell are you so pleased about? It’s not as though I was planning to stay at work overnight - ”“I know it’s a bit silly to be so excited about this, you probably get this sort of thing all the time, and I was going to phone you but I thought I’d wait, to tell you in person - "“Get to the point, Katherine,” Harriet interrupted, setting down her briefcase and shrugging off her coat, walking away to hang it up even as her partner continued to talk.“You remember that gallery in Brooklyn that commissioned some pictures from me?”Harriet nodded. She was feeling impatient – both with Katherine’s inability to cut to the chase, and with the whole idea of art galleries in general. She understood why they were there, of course, but that didn’t mean to say she enjoyed going to them – even if some of the paintings on display were Katherine’s. She just didn’t understand the art scene at all, or what any of it meant. There were too many meanings and too much to try and take in at once.“Well, it turns out The Times is doing a piece about the gallery, and they want to interview some of the artists – and they asked me. I mean, they asked me, but they also want you to be interviewed with me, the two of us together. Isn’t that great?Harriet frowned.“You didn’t agree to this, did you?”Katherine was too excited to even look crestfallen at her partner’s disapproval of the whole idea.“Of course I agreed to it, why wouldn’t I?”“You know I would much rather keep our relationship out of the papers, Katherine. Why does the public need to know - ”“But this would be a good thing, Harry, can’t you see that? Good publicity, for a start, you talking about something other than politics...”Katherine’s explanation faltered into nothingness as she saw the look Harriet was giving her – one which mingled her frustration with something almost like pity.“Good publicity? Katherine, darling, can’t you see that I don’t care about that? I want to keep us a secret as much as I can so that I can protect you – protect us. You don’t know what it would be like, to be put in the spotlight like that. You remember everything your sister had to put up with, with Edward in the papers all the time? I don’t want you to go through that.”It was now Katherine’s turn to frown. It had just been over a month since her brother in law had died, and here Harry was, speaking ill of him, bringing up his front page grabbing antics – and for what? To try and prove a point? She decided not to comment on how insensitive Harry was being – she was fairly sure her partner knew it as she had never much cared for Edward when he was alive, at any rate. “But I wouldn’t go through any of that with you, you don’t go out to clubs and bars every other night - ”“I know I don’t, Katherine, for God’s sake,” Harriet snapped. “That’s not the point I’m trying to make. If there’s nothing there the press will make up some lie, you’ve seen the sort of things they write – you see why I don’t want us in the centre of all that?”There was a brief pause as Katherine considered this. It was true - if there was no scandal to be found, some less reputable members of the press would be more than happy to make something up. But what caught Katherine’s attention more was not Harriet’s explanation, but her continued reference to the pair of them as a couple. She was so adamant about keeping their relationship in the dark that for some time now it had felt there was no relationship anymore, even behind closed doors. Why would Harriet suddenly care so much for them? No, this was all for her, for protecting herself in order to further nurture her ambition. Of course, Katherine could have misinterpreted Harriet’s words, and Harriet could have been genuine – but even if she was, at this point, it would have been difficult for Katherine to believe her. And the time had come to make that clear.“It’s not us you’re worried about, Harry,” Katherine said, her tone surprisingly calm considering her accusation. “It’s you - you and your ambition. You would have cared about us before, five years ago, when we first got together. But now? You’re different. You’ve changed.”Harriet had not been expecting Katherine to stand up to her, but this did nothing to lessen the derisive nature of her reaction.“For God’s sake, Katherine, you don’t understand - ”“I understand a lot more than you think I do, Harry, and I have done for years. I’m not stupid.”“Well, you could have fooled me.”With that, Harriet moved past Katherine and towards the dining room – Katherine followed just in time to see her remove the whisky decanter from its cabinet and pour herself a large measure. She was about to say something, to try to defend her position, but it was Harriet who spoke first as she turned back to face her, unsurprised that Katherine had followed her into the room. She even went so far as to sit at the dining room table, as though this were a staff briefing, although the fact she had brought the decanter with her somewhat ruined the illusion.“What do you think you know then, Katherine? What do you understand?”There was a long pause. Katherine wasn’t sure where to begin, or, indeed, what Harriet was expecting. But then, there was no point in looking back years, telling her partner all she understood of the scandals and cover-ups and misinformation of the past. Now was the time to focus on the present. She had been suspicious of events ever since the night of the elections and how easily Richard had been able to win his brother’s seat. And it wasn’t just the elections themselves, either, but the circumstances that surrounded them. Will Hastings had died just over a week after Edward, and his death had been suspected as a suicide. Katherine just knew something wasn’t right there, but that was not the place to begin.“The elections,” she said, at last, moving a little further into the room but continuing to stand, hoping this more powerful position would give her some advantage in this altercation. “Something about them was wrong – and you were involved.”Harriet had taken a drink from her glass as Katherine spoke, but she found herself spluttering with laughter mere seconds afterwards, as if hoping this would disguise her fear at how on the mark Katherine’s accusation had been.“Don’t be ridiculous, Katherine,” she replied, with a shake of her head.“I’m being serious,” Katherine replied hotly, moving further into the room. Then, changing the topic slightly, “And if we’re going to have a conversation about something like this, you shouldn’t be drinking.”“Surely if we’re having a conversation like this, that’s all the more reason for me to drink?” Harriet replied, without missing a beat, but there was a palpable note of relief even in this attempt at a joke, as she lifted the glass to her lips again.Katherine moved further into the room now, closer to her, and Harriet found it was all she could do not to shrink away, clutching her precious glass close to her. First Richard, now Katherine? Was it any wonder she had recently been finding greater comfort in the bottle than in the arms of her partner, or the words of her co-conspirator?“It’s been getting worse, Harry, you know it has. It’s not one or two that bother me, it’s when you have five or six that I get worried. It’s been getting worse ever since - ”“Ever since?”Another attempt at delaying the inevitable, another sip from the glass. Almost empty now.“You know when.”Harriet nodded, almost in spite of herself. Her voice was quiet when she spoke again.“Hastings?”“Who else? Something didn’t feel right about his death, and - ”“Nothing ever feels right about death!”Another sip.“You know what I mean!”Another. There was nothing left in the glass. She could no longer hide behind it. Unless...“Harry, what happened?”Harriet set the glass down, reached for the decanter again. But even as she did so -“Harriet.”She stopped just shy of reaching the bottle, retracted her hand. She could no longer hide behind the glass, nor could she keep avoiding, keep denying, the truth of what she had done. But she could not tell Katherine, she could not confess...Richard would kill her if he found out, and not metaphorically. But he wouldn’t find out, would he? Somewhere inside herself Harriet knew that he would, but at that moment she felt this strange, liberating feeling of not caring whether he did or not – she had to confess, she had to tell Katherine what she had done, or else she would start to go mad...“I can’t.”She knew she had to tell Katherine, but she couldn’t. She just couldn’t, no matter how fearful or guilty she felt. Everything would change between them, irreversibly – but then, hadn’t it already, even in Katherine’s unknowing? Katherine would no longer love her, Katherine would leave her... All these panicked thoughts and more mingled with her guilt and fear of confession, and she found herself struggling to hold back her tears, especially when Katherine moved over and sat down beside her, taking her free hand in hers, her manner gentle, comforting. Just what Harriet needed at the moment - and what she did not need.“Why not?”It was fear and guilt - plain and simple. Harriet began to reel off her list of excuses, her voice rising as her panic fully began to take hold.“Everything will change, it has changed already. I’m not who you think I am, I can never be that way again and if I tell you I’ll be in danger, we both will be, you’ll stop loving me, you’ll leave me...”Katherine opened her mouth as though to protest, to question what this outburst meant, perhaps even to try and comfort her - to say whatever it was couldn’t be as bad as she was making it out to be - but Harriet cut across her, her grip on her partner’s hand almost unbearably tight, her voice suddenly quiet, almost a whisper.“Please don’t make me tell you.”Katherine, for her part, did not know what to think, how to react, at first. To say she was worried would be an understatement – she had been right in her fears about the corrupt elections, not to mention the circumstances of Hastings’ death. But what worried her even more was the fact Harriet had said she was in danger – but she knew it would be unwise to give into her fear, as Harriet was. She needed to stay calm for Harriet’s sake as much as her own.“Harry, please,” she said, after a moment or two. “Whatever it is, you can tell me, you know that. I love you.”It was at these last three words that Harriet snatched her hand away, shaking now with rage as much as with fear.“Don’t say that...don’t you dare say that!” she snarled. “It’s not true, it can’t be true, not when I tell you...but I can’t tell you, I can’t...”She got to her feet then and made as if to leave the room, but something stopped her. Perhaps it was the way Katherine was looking up at her, a mix of fear and confusion, but there was love there too. Even in her fury and fear, Harriet could not deny that. She didn’t want that expression to change, the love Katherine felt for her, and it would change, she knew it would. But she also knew she could keep this a secret no longer – not now. Richard be damned. But even so she could not face Katherine as she spoke, instead looking at the opposite wall. It was almost as if she were giving some speech, confessing her guilt before a court.“Hastings’ death..."She paused and took a deep, shuddering breath. When she spoke again her voice was no longer steady, and the confession spilled out of her like the whisky from the bottle.“It wasn’t natural. It was unnatural. But it wasn’t a suicide, he was - ”“He did this?” Katherine was on her feet now too, but more from incredulity than fear. But then, why should she be incredulous? It made perfect sense, he had been one of Richard’s rivals for the position, and yet, the fact that this crazy, awful idea, the fact that this was not just an idea, a twisted theory, but the truth...“W-what?”“Richard,” Katherine exclaimed. “You’re saying that he - ”Harriet shook her head. If she was going to tell the truth, she would tell the whole truth.“He killed Edward. But he didn’t kill Hastings.”Katherine, stunned, sat back down again. What else could she do, when she was shaking so much it was too difficult to stand?“Edward....but he....Richard was his brother...”The slightest of pauses, as an even greater realisation dawned.“No....no...Harriet, what are you saying....you don’t mean...”Harriet did not say anything, but instead reached out a hand for the whisky decanter again. This seemed to be enough of a confirmation for Katherine, however – she got to her feet again and reached for the decanter too, pulling it away from Harriet but with such force that it slid across the table, falling onto the floor and breaking upon impact, shards of glass bursting in a bloom across the floor, the amber liquid swiftly following suit.You could say that this was symbolic, for any number of things – this new side she was seeing to Harriet, the broken-ness they both felt, the violence and destruction that had led to this moment. But now was not the time for such sentiments. Now was the time for cold, hard facts and facing the truth. It was a truth neither of them wished to face, but they had to.Harriet had looked over at Katherine as she stood, alarmed at the ferocity of her action. She flinched as the decanter hit the floor and shattered. Now she looked from the shattered glass to Katherine again, unsure of just how to arrange her expression, never mind what she could possibly say. But it was Katherine who spoke first.“That’s enough, Harriet. That’s it. I’ve had enough, I thought it was just the drinking, the lies but this....this is just... I don’t want to believe it...I knew something was wrong but I never would have thought - ”Harriet moved towards her then, moving as though to take her partner’s hand in hers, but Katherine recoiled even as Harriet said her name, desperate, pleading.“Don’t touch me!"“Katherine, please - ”But Katherine would not stay to listen to any more of Harriet’s words or her confessions and pleas. She had heard enough, more than enough. She was walking away even before she fully knew where she planned to go, out of the apartment and, more importantly, out of Harriet’s life. Now, more than ever, she knew she was no longer part of it.The next morning there was a headline on the front page of The Times, and every word clanged like a death knell, to Harriet’s relationship with Katherine, to her partnership with Richard – even now, she feared, to her own life itself.
ANONYMOUS TIP-OFF RE-OPENS INQUIRIES SURROUNDING WILLIAM HASTINGS' DEATH
Disclaimer:This serial is inspired partly by historical fact and partly by historical fiction (that being Shakespeare’s Richard III); however, as the setting (New York City) is very much a real location – as are other businesses and events I have used – I felt the following disclaimer to be necessary. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Samuel Barley sends us another of his poems Am I real? for this week's The Tribe. If you are inspired by any of the work in this week's issue please email your submissions to email@example.com or to our creative writing sub-editor Olia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Am I real?I did not exist in your world until now,Yet you did not conjure up these lines,Was I always here? Do you know? How?Do you not follow? Shall I explain? Fine. I have lived and so have you,But we have never met nor shall we,To my existence I have given a clue,Which end it achieves is yours; Torture or glee. By reading this you now know I'm here,In words alone maybe, but it shall suffice,All this can be seen, do not fear,For we both exist. Isn't that nice? Now you know, come seek me and find,If I'm here, or inside your mind. Samuel Barley