A cause for celebration!

I have few fond memories of the last fortnight of my MA.  Despite months of hard work the writing hadn’t come together, leading me to rewrite the whole thing.  I was disappointed with the final piece, feeling it didn’t reflect the work or thought I’d put in.

The MA results were published yesterday.  I was ambivalent about collecting my mark since I had such low expectations of the final piece.  Fortunately Rosy had already checked, and broke the news I’d earned a merit.  I’m both surprised and delighted.

It’s strange to have scored so highly for work that, towards the end, was making me react physically.  In fact the dissertation scored an A, which is a shock to me.  The feedback, which I read today, described it as "very elegant, patient, illuminating and quirky".  I’m planning to re-read the whole thing over the weekend as it probably deserves a reappraisal.  I still feel weird to be awarded a merit but I’m  getting used to the idea.

A week

I didn’t get around to making a number of posts in the last week, so here’s a summary of them:

  • Last Saturday Rosy and I went to London.  We saw the Seduction exhibition and then went to my friend Ian’s play, How to Curse.  Due to an astounding navigational failure we had to run to make the theatre in time.  It was a little like being late for a plane, as the staff were waiting and hustled us through check-in.  The play was excellent: in its adept use of foul language, its set design and a script I thought was funny and gripping.
  • Early on Sunday morning I dropped into Merlin’s 27 days later party.  The house had been decorated with a post-zombiecaust theme and was incredible.  Beth took some terrfiying film footage.
  • Tuesday night I went to the launch of Quid 18, featuring a performance by Justin Katko and Jamelian Wigmore.  I wasn’t sure about the performances (although I’ve enjoyed some of Justin Katko’s written work) but Quid 18 is excellent.
  • Wednesday night I went on The Crawl of the Dead which was a fun spectacle to be part of.  Photos here, and one of me here

Old fashioned entertainment

There are good things about the end of British Summer Time too.  The office where I work looks out across the Sussex University campus towards Stanmer Park.  It offers some incredible views when the sun sets.  Someone will look up from the computer, see it, and let everyone else know.  The people sitting near the windows open the blinds and others get up from the desk to stand in front of the window, watching the sunset.  Good, old-fashioned entertainment.


There’s an interesting cache of sound files at ubuweb.  Today I was listening to Raiding the 20th Century.  It’s an interesting mix of documentary and example of cut-ups, including Burroughs, hip-hop and the avant-garde.

Through the guardian I learned that Raymond Carver‘s widow is planning to release the original versions of some of his short stories.  Carver is famous for his minimalism, but it appears some of that was forced on him by his editor, Gordon Lish.  There’s an argument to be made that Carver’s strengths come from the editing of his work, rather than his writing.  Compare some original text from One more thing to the edited version (the comparison is available from the New York Times).  Carver’s text reads:

L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm
again and once more picked up the suitcase. “I
just want to say one more thing, Maxine. Listen
to me. Remember this,” he said. “I love you. I
love you no matter what happens. I love you
too, Bea. I love you both.” He stood there at the
door and felt his lips begin to tingle as he looked
at them for what, he believed, might be the last
time. “Good-bye,” he said.

         “You call this love, L.D.?” Maxine said.
She let go of Bea’s hand. She made a fist. Then
she shook her head and jammed her hands into
her coat pockets. She stared at him and then
dropped her eyes to something on the floor near
his shoes.

         It came to him with a shock that he
would remember this night and her like this. He
was terrified to think that in the years ahead she
might come to resemble a woman he couldn’t
place, a mute figure in a long coat, standing in
the middle of a lighted room with lowered eyes.

         “Maxine!” he cried. “Maxine!”

         “Is this what love is, L.D.?” she said,
fixing her eyes on him. Her eyes were terrible
and deep, and he held them as long as he could.

The edited text is both simpler and more powerful:

        L.D. put the shaving bag under his arm
and picked up the suitcase.

        He said, “I just want to say one more

        But then he could not think what it
could possibly be.

The problem with science fiction

The LOLCat bible makes me very happy.  The Adoration of the magi, for example, becomes

something very strange and very funny:

"After dat dey waz about to IM king herod den wun of dem sayd “o, actuly, I hasd a dream at nait timez n ceiling cat wuz like “hey sup d00d.” n I wuz liek “nm, u?” n he wuz like “nm but d00d get dis, king herod r liez tbh. He iz lookin for jesus so he cn pwn him wtf!!!?” Den I woke up bt srsly ceiling cat sed dat.” So teh other waiz d00ds saied “o wtf, I haet dat n00b king herod wtf is hiz problem” n dey all goed bak to der home in d eats bi a moar differnt way." – Mathew 2:12.

This is what’s wrong with science fiction.  Imagine going back to 1992 and showing this to someone, trying to explain why it’s funny.  The way the world’s turning out is always a suprise.  No wonder William Gibson is retreating to the present day.