Archive for March, 2010

My Literary Cannon Adventure: Jane Eyre

I finished the last page of Charlotte Brontë’s ‘Jane Eyre’ last night, and in all honestly I was really moved by the whole story. I surprised myself as at the start of the book, where she details her wicked upbringing and the doom and gloom at Lowood I began to lose interest within the bulk of chapters that seemed to be detail upon detail upon gloom. However, from when she chooses to leave Lowood and heads for Thornfield and to the post of Governess for Mr Rochester’s young ward, it becomes both racy and intriguing as to ‘what’ exactly is the secret that Edward is keeping stored in the attic of Thornfield Manor…

None-the-less, I acknowledge that the first bulk of chapters (10) have to be there in order for you to assertain a degree of ‘sympathy’ for Jane, as she remains quite outspoken and strong-willed throughout, and if a reader were just to start at the 11th chapter of this wonderful novel they wouldn’t approach them with such sympathy.

Without spoiling the plot for those reading this who have not yet read the book, I would highly recommend it. It is filled with highs, lows, romance, lunacy, religion, literature…it encompasses all that it was to be both at the height of the social circles of the 19th century, and at the very very bottom. Jane Eyre experiences it all through the 10 (or so) years of her life  that the book spans.

I will next encounter the likes of another Brontë sister. Emily Brontë to be exact, and her famous novel ‘Wuthering Heights‘. I have already started the first few pages having finished Jane Eyre last night, and i have already noticed that Emily writes with a much more ‘forward-thinking hand’ than her sister.

I will again endeavour to write-up my findings following my finishing of the book…

Literary Cannon

I have taken it upon myself as a  kind of belated new year’s resolution (aside the ‘must loose half my body weight for girlie holiday’ and ‘don’t leave cleaning the car until i loose a passenger under the filth!’) to invest in some of the books that we discussed as featuring on a typical ‘Leavis-like’ literary reading cannon.

I have so far spent so much money on Amazon I now have shares in the company …. and 5 books!

I finished 1984 last night after a week or so of dispersed readings and to be honest by the time I’d finished at around 2am this morning i was all but ready to jump from the nearest cliff (of which I doubt there is any around here as I live in the Midlands! – re-think plan!) it was so depressing!

I understand that at the time of its publication, it was considered to be very ‘forward-thinking’, even an innovation, in literature terms. However, would it really have killed Georgie to throw in a more racy sex scene or even a happy ending for the loved-up pair of traitors??!

I have now started the first few pages of Jane Eyre, which no doubt will take me a while to read for fear of ripping the ’tissue-like’ pages of the book (shame on you penguin classics!) and so I will post my progress shortly.

A Spot Of Light Reading: Stuart Hall: Notes On Deconstructing The Popular

Main Points:

  • ‘periodisation’ – he addresses our need to ‘categorize’ everything into ‘blocks’.
  • ‘class struggle’ – he talks of the continous struggle between the working, labouring, and the poor
  • ‘reformation’ – changes culture
  • tradition is hard to maintain as changing world makes it hard to set a ‘tradition’
  • popular press changed culture as did revolutions, & capitalism
  • culture constantly changes. Old things make way for new things.

Methods used:

  • Historiography
  • Own views and ideas
  • Cross-analyses facts with his own views and what he percievs culture to be like today.

Conclusions:

  • ‘popular culture’ remains hard to define/pin point due to the ever-changing modern world.
  • Remains as ‘people vs power’ still

Agree/Disagree:

I do agree with how hard it can be now-a-days to define such a concept as ‘culture’ as we are constantly seeing new ‘niche cultures’ surfacing due to citizen journalism and a larger media market that caters for a much wider market.

However, he does seem to ‘shun’ the idea of ‘popular culture’, and talks of how everything blends into one, which I feel is a good thing, as it means that it is received by a much wider audience. (Popstar To Operastar).

Useful Quotes:

  • ‘‘tradisionalism’ has so often been misinterpreted as a product of a merely conservative impulse, backward-looking and anachronistic.’
  • ‘’Cultural change’ is a polite euphemism for the process by which some cultural forms and practices are driven out of the centre of popular life, actively marginalised. Rather than simply falling into disuse through the long march to modernism, things are actively pushed aside, so that something else can take their place.’
  • ‘’Class-against-class’, is the central line of contradiction around which the terrain of culture is polarised’
  • ‘The study of popular culture keeps shifting between these two, quite unacceptable poles: pure ‘autonomy’ or total encapsulation.’

Critique Of A Cultural Industry: ‘Syco TV’

iconic scene from Hitchcock's 'Psycho' (courtesy of 'www.acqal.com')

‘Syco’: an informal word for psychopath, psychopathic.

See also:

  • crazy
  • insane

Sound familiar?

Nope?

What if I were to tell you that 11 million of the Great British public go crazy (or ‘psycho’) for warbling one-hit-wonders each week, controversially ‘brainwashed’ by the likes of much the same definition (give or take a few letters!)

Hello ‘Syco TV!

Still none the wiser?

How about now?…

Yes, i’m afraid so…it seems as if we have been going ‘syco’ (excuse the pun) for ‘Cowell Culture’ since his first appearance as the ‘sharp-tongued’ judge on Pop Idol in 2001. Since then the music mogul has continued to take over our TV screens, with programmes such as: X FactorBritain’s Got Talent, and American Idol as well as bands including: Westlife, Sinitta, Five, Robson & Jerome, Leona Lewis, Susan Boyle, Alexandra Burke, & most recently Joe McElderry.

Standardisation

As mentioned above, 11 million of us reality TV revelers tune in and vote on programmes such as the ones Simon’s very own ‘Syco TV’ franchise churns out.

But are we all simply ‘brainwashed’ into voting for certain contenders?

It’s well documented that the British public love an ‘underdog’, but we seem to be so predictable these days that the bookies are now cashing in on ‘how’ we will vote. Is this an example of standardisation?

Are You Really Getting A Choice?

und: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 freeze final
Joe
McElderry
13 13 13 10 17 16 34 37 42 52 61
Olly
Murs
6 11 9 13 13 10 10 19 20 28 39
Stacey
Solomom
13 15 11 8 11 26 18 20 19 20
Danyl
Johnson
27 7 8 36 20 16 16 13 19
Lloyd
Daniels
6 15 8 6 12 10 12 12
John &
Edward
5 6 9 7 9 15 11
Jamie
Archer
9 14 11 9 10 8
Lucie
Jones
11 8 11 6 9
Rachel
Adedej
2 4 15 5
Miss
Frank
4 4 5
Rikki
Loney
3 4
Kandy
Rain
2

Above are the %s of the results from each show of the most recent X-Factor series. As you can see each week an act is knocked out of the running, leaving the public with less options to choose from all the way up until the final stages, leaving us with ‘dippy’ but ‘attractive’ Stacey Solomon, ‘Robbie 2’/’ladies man’ Olly Murs … and Joe! (bless)

But did we really have  a choice as to who we would inevitably vote for in the final leg of the ‘simon show’??

Now I’m an avid watcher of the Derren Brown shows that are always on Channel 4, and he’s always rabbiting on about ‘subliminal messages‘ and how ‘humans can’t really be ‘random” … so this got me thinking about the subliminal messages at the time of the show…

The magazine covers above are just a selection of the ‘Cheryl Craze’ that was going on at the time (following the news that her adulterous hubby Ashley had cheated on her).

Cheryl was the most popular judge on the panel of the X-Factor.

Simon blatantly flirted with her on every show

Joe McEdlery was the ‘shy’ ‘gordie-type’ = UNDERDOG if ever i saw one!

So in summary… are we really ever given a choice by franchises such as ‘Syco’?? Are we as a nation so predictable in consumer trends and our love for the underdog that bookies are now making a shiny penny or two based on this presumption?

We are constantly surrounded by the media, and whether or not we are conscious of ‘taking it all in’…we must be…or simply following the ‘trends’ I.e ‘whos hot’, ‘what you should be wearing’ … ‘who you should vote for!’.

Either way, I think I’m in the wrong profession. I think I’ll become a bookie!