#AtoZChallenge: April 26, 2013 ~ Women

La liberté n’offre qu’une chance d’être meilleur, la servitude n’est que la certitude de devenir pire.” ~ Albert Camus

Amazons
A wall painting by Franz Xaver Simm from the Caucasus Museum in Tbilisi. The original painting has not survived. Date 1881 Source Hermann Roskoschny, 1845-1898. Das asiatische Russland, Leipzig: Gressner & Schramm, 1884

Perhaps one day – how far in the future is a matter for speculation – it will be suggested that parthenogenesis is the way forward for the human species on its way to the Stars.  In my novel, The Page, the alien race poised to colonise Earth, offers it to the female gender, arguing, with some reason, that exterminating the males would be a favour to the Universe in general, Earth in particular, and free them from the kind of slavery no law or feminist revolution has so far succeeded in doing.  The unanimous reply is: “Please go – and clone yourselves.” This may be yet further evidence supporting Paulhan’s idea of “bonheur dans l’esclavage”…

Yet you are irreplaceable, even if we might be.  Not only are we hopeless at bearing children – pace “mummy” Schwarzenneger – let us banish for ever the thought of a male only world, even if biologically such an enormity was conceivable: it would be hell, even for the more softly inclined among us.  Who would we copy, whose lingerie would we try with rising emotions?  Whose panties would we rub our stubbled cheeks with, dreaming of the thousand and one nights delights? Whose lovely ways of walking would we try to emulate, us, the primates, occasionally goose-stepping morons, of otherwise poor artistic tastes?  And, worst of all, whose slender necks would wear those sober collars, emblematic of our deepest dreams?

“Neanderthal rising” is an hallucination lurking in my “writer-in-learning” ’s mind: an apocalypse of primal beasts rushing back to the stone age in a flurry of females being dragged by their (long and gorgeous) hair… and frightened mammoths…

But there are biological and physical facts: a different – but then, are two brains ever similar? – wiring of the synapses, longevity (a crucial quality for deep space travel)… and of course the potential for asexual reproduction.  If a (presumably female) Columbus of an unfathomable future wished for “peace on board” the proverbial ship, what would be her best bet?  A mixed gender crew soon rioting into roman orgies and muscular hand to hand fights, or a spartan and disciplined amazon crew of jar-headed female warriors, athletic, evidently lesbian, and, well… just tremendously sexy to this Neanderthal’s imagination. Peace.

#AtoZChallenge: April 12, 2013 ~ Kafka

In the world of this blogger there are two of them: a writer of genius, who died in 1924, wrote The Trial, The Castle, The Metamorphosis and a host of stories and plays, and Nakata “Kafka” Tamura, hero of “Kafka on the Shore”, the novel by Haruki Murakami.

Kafka statue in Prague Franz Kafka, the writer, inspired Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, among others.  To the love of his life, the writer Milena Jesenská, he wrote passionate letters. Milená died in 1944, murdered with so many other women at Auschwitz.  He is the lead writer on the Absurd of the beginning of the 20th century depicting the insanity of the bureaucracies of his time.

The other Kafka is a growing young man, who discovers love in the person of the unattainable Miss Saeki.  When I go to Japan, I hope I will meet them both.

#toptenbooks

In response to:

http://kdrush.com/Main/content.php/179-The-TopTenBooks-Challenge

#10 The Kindly Ones (Les Bienveillantes) by Jonathan Littell:

I have listed this harrowing account of evil as I was surprised by the description of Europe’s worst nightmare by a young American author, who, besides, wrote in French. This is a giant of a book, and the horror is not  imagined, it was so.

#9 The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy:

A quintessential account of a horrific murder by a master of controversy. Somehow this book talked to me, and, yes, I felt for the Black Dahlia.

#8 The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke

Part from “inventing” the Space Elevator Arthur Clarke – who also predicted accurately the geostationary communication satellites – showed in this novel how to marry technology and spiritualism, a feat of fiction but also a lesson for living. I read it as an adolescent, and am still reading it.

#7 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Well, it’s a classic. When I first read it – a few years back! – my English was still hesitant, and I struggled. A few years later (still well before the films) I fully appreciated what a masterpiece of language and adventures this was.

#6 The Magus by John Fowles

The mystery of youth, John Fowles’s first novel and to my mind his best. I travelled to that greek island in a dream, one of the inspirations for “The Page” (not a plug!)

#5 The Stand by Stephen King

Read it four times, and this is not the last time. One of the great novels of the second half of the last century, I am still in wonder. I cried for Fanny. I would have nuked the evil too.

#4 The Plague (La Peste) by Albert Camus

A unique allegory of what it was like in Europe under the fascist boot. Written in 1947, it is the account of ordinary courage and its opposite by a man of high values and principles. I think it’s as valid a read today as it was then.

#3 Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

Pynchon’s greatest book, set at the end of WWII in London and Northern Germany. This book typifies for me the absurdity of the last (hopefully) European civil war, a shower of rockets, the ruins of cities, yet humour and love. I fell for that mischievous Dutch girl, yes I did…

#2 A La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust

My bible of introspection. The language is unique, the mix of longing, eroticism and splendour is irresistible.

#1 La Chartreuse de Parme by Stendhal

The greatest love story of all times! To my mind one the summits of Western literature. Period.

Cover of "The Black Dahlia"
Cover of The Black Dahlia