Tuesday, March 29

Literature Vs. _________

No, don't ask me if I have free time.

I am still stuck on the thousands of books from the 5th century while everyone else keeps on writing more and more books right this minute. I have the Tubadours lyrics to finish, the Le Morte D'arthura to complete, the Ovid poems to translate and that is just completing the first half of the century.Then comes not only Chaucer but also his different translation and of course we being the proud literature students are never satisfied with just one translation, we have to dig deep trying to find the French translation, Italian translation, Walsh translation and every translation that has been made possible. And then finally like most Bhutanese are so fond of pointing out, we have to master the Master of English, Shakespeare, himself. Furthermore, it is not one play per year, it is one play per hour and we are suppose to finish the whole of his Thirty-seven plays within the semester. If citing Shakespeare's work as the paradigm where English language began and his language as the best and hardest of all that the language has to offer is an excuse to remove his work from your study, then don't for you haven't even tried reading one of the scripts that some of the Scribes wrote in earlier days. Try thinking about the plays you so naively considered 'difficult' when you were in high school, then try imagining the whole lot of them being thrown in on your head to be completed in a single hour, then try asking do I realy have free time?

You shudder at the though of reading one poem by just one of the poets, a single 500 pages novel, imagine how it feels to be Us.There is Austen,Wordsworth,Keats, Blake,Shelly,Plath and on and on goes the name. It never stops, it just continues on adding name after names. We have to study the whole set of poems that has ever been written, the whole set of novel that has ever been published and search for meaning where it is sometimes impossible to depicter. Believe me, sometimes it feels like it is the Creation of the world that we are reading about, that is how massive it is. And we are not satisfied with just the authors, we need to know about the whole movement that each history goes through -The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Transcendentalism, The French revolution and so on and still we are not satisfied. We have to analyse, study and interpret everything in every possible way. And it is never a simple case of a single interpretation for a single text, we are expected to read the author's point of view, the society's criticism of it, the reader's own view, intertextuality and whatever the any person deems possible to interpret!

Furthermore, it  is not enough that one study the Classic. Ask anyone and they will tell you, the person who study classics are either book-worms or nerds with total lacking social skills! Come to think of it,go to a party and try talking about Jane Austen or William Wordsworth, most of the people will think you are a bore, not to mention it would be difficult to find anyone who is even willing to listen in the first place. And why would want to be a bore right? So Yes, we go and read. Read all the popular book that comes up, every new sensation that has taken the world by storm - Twilight, Vampire dairies, or any latest Celebrity's autobiography and discuss it like we can't live without them for God forbid, if it is revealed that we didn't read the latest fancy doing the rounds, how are we,literature students suppose to survive without knowing about the latest book? How on earth is it possible for us not to have read the book? Aren't we suppose to be the one who likes book? Take the most popular book that you avow so much to a literature class and look how easily it is shred to pieces by the people around the tutorials, discussing the good point, the bad points, the narrative style, the voice, the desire, the tension....Then tell me if I am suppose to like the newest chick-flick you are such a fan of, that you so consider to be of the utmost literary quality.

One complains that they can't 'express' their feeling properly to their loved ones, imagine what we have to do. An individual person has so much trouble explaining their own feeling to someone they know, imagine how hard it is for us to interpret the thought and feeling of so many writers -writer that we don't know personally - so many times over and over again. And to be addressed to one's Tutor who is going to grade you according to your expression, decide if you are good enough or not, don't tell me 'expressing' your emotions to someone you already know is that hard!

We know you have work, I am sure you work is as hard as it is ours but we never presume it is easy for you. We never deduce that just because you spend more time writing things down on a paper, you gain any less idea than we do in our own respective fields. So what makes us so different? Why be so - for lack of a better work- partial to our work?

So No, do not ask me if I have free time and Yes, stop and think before you go on accusing me of not having too much work, stop and think before you go on and ask me what the use of my Arts Degree is.Because believe me,if you had to do all the works we do and still face as much criticism as we do then you would have given up a long time ago.

Saturday, March 26


Do you believe in Soul mate? The one person who fits into you like the perfect other half? The one person who makes you feel so complete you can only belong to him, and no one else? The person who makes you feel like you are his only reason for existence, the center of his universe? Do you believe that God made a single person just for you?

The thing is, I have always known mine. I have always understood the way Sansom felt about Delilah, the reason Shar jaha dedicated a monument for his Mumtaz, the feelings that drove Romeo to kill himself instead of imagine a moment without Juliet. I have always know it. You know, the feeling Jacob describes in Breaking Dawn, as if your whole universe is in symmetry and you know without a doubt that every steel cable in the universe ties you to him. I know where my center of the universe lies, the person the steel cable binds me to. I have known him all my life.

My soul mate.

I have always known I belong with him - the other half of my heart, the center I always revolve around. He is perfect - the way his face splits up in a smile when something pleases him, the way his eyes cringes at the side whenever he frowns, the way he gets all gooey-eyes when he is pleading. I know him with every fiber of my body - that guilty smile when I catch him doing something he shouldn't, the cute face he put on whenever he knows he is going to get his ways - every expression that crosses his face. I can understand the feeling behind every artist's song and for me all the love songs are always meant for him. He is the center of my universe, the soul reason for my existence. 

And the things is, he knows too. He knows where the steel cable of the universe binds him to, the center of his universe. He knows where he has always meant to belong, the person he has always been meant to be with and he says he loves her, his reason for existence - Another girl, another being, another soul. 

So do I believe in soul mate? I used to. 

Friday, March 25

Literature - Maid of Astolate

A friend of mine asked me why I choose the title of my page to be known as 'Maid of Astolate' while I could have used my own name, prompting me to write this article.

Ofcourse, it is easy enough to recognize the name. You only have to look it to guess just how crazy I am about literature.The Maid of Astolate is actually a fictional literary figure, more commonly known as Lady of Shallot. I am sure most of us studied Tennyson's Lady of Shallot when we were in junior high. It is said that Lady of Shallot fell in love with Sir Lancelott when he was travelling to rescue Queen Guinevere. Tennyson just took a part of the story to focus on her. Literature makes imaginary characters come to live like Tennyson did with the Maid of Astolate. She is one character I have never been able to forget.

More often than not, we always come across fictional characters in books that we immediately fall in love with. You only have to look at thousand of girls who can not seem to forget Darcy from Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering Heights's Heathcliff. Or even Edward Cullen for that matter! And we often do transcend those qualities from book into our own life. For instance, girls still look for qualities that Darcy or Heathcliff possess in their real life partner and dream about it, making it so much more difficult for boys to live up to their ideal expectations.

We read because we can relate to it. The more we can relate, the closer the book feels to us. One would never realy want to relate to the villain of any story instead choose to be closer to the kindhearted protagonist but despite that we usually understand where the anti-hero stood from, understanding his reasoning despite our distance from him. But then we also read to escape. Someone once said 'Literature is the perfect antidote to life' and I absolutely agree with it. The thrill is not just about getting home and picking up an old book to read when you are tired. It is more than that. It is not just for the feeling that you might learn/feel/know something from the book that you haven't experienced before. It is for the feeling that the book leaves you with at the end of the story when you finish reading it.Of course now that I write about it, it sounds corny but being corny does not stop people from picking up a book to read.

The thrill of reading old classic books always has a very different appeal. But it is not just classics like Shakespeare that hold the realm these days. We have Eat, love and Pray by Elizabeth Glibert or My Sister's keeper by Jodi Picoult which might as equal any Austen novel. We always get vary of comparing newer literature to older ones. We are not bounded by any rules that one should like the classics better than the modern ones. But more often, even if a person likes a new book better, he/she would never compare it with older classics. This has always been the case.We are always daunted by the thought that old literature are classic which can not be equated but then when we look at it, ages after we are dead and long gone, our children might look at these book the same way we now view Shakespeare and Austen. 

Of course, if years from now, children might start considering the Twilight series as we now study Shakespeare and Marlowe, then I can only shudder at the thought of what Literature quality has come to. But then it always happens, doesn't it? While our seniors studied Shakespeare's 'Tempest' and 'Merchant of Venice', now all the student gets to read is few, if any, works by Shakespeare. We were among the lucky batch to catch the last Shakespeare play 'Taming of the Shrew' in junior high. But then ofcourse, this is an old issue and have been adapted for few years now but it still does not fail to say something about our education system. 

I am a literature student and of course everything I just wrote about is common enough to be my opinion as well as anyone else. But I am not making excuse for writing something down that is so common one can easily take it to be obviously obvious. A lecturer once told me that once you have an opinion, you are suppose to write it down for the mind has this tendency of changing every moment. Once written, you can always come back to look at it and know where you began, so this is me writing it out, whether I change my opinion on Shakespeare and Twilight is as good a guess as anyone else's. 

Monday, March 21

Addiction: Depression

I am changing.I didn't spend ages hiding in the bathroom crying before,didn't spend hours applying make-up trying to hide my black eyes,didn't stay holed up in my room making excuses to explain my bruised arms,wasn't so anti-social that now the only place in a party for me seems to be in the corner,hiding.

If anyone were to see me,I am sure my life would look like a rehash of a bad addiction movie.Only for me the addiction seems to be Him.

I wasn't this girl before, was like any perfectly normal girl.Happy and content in my own uncomplicated world.And now it seem like a life time ago.A different lifetime ago when everything changed so much.

I remember painting my room to its now darkish purple hue to the extend that it looks almost back on my regular sunny plaster white walls.That was when the changes first started.His favourite dark colour in place of mine.And after that it was like I didn't notice.Everything just receded into a dull feeling on the side of my heart,as if I was watching someone else's life turning into this nightmare rather than my own.

I don't remember when he first asked me to switched my music taste from pretty Katy Perry to his dark Metallica songs.I didn't notice when I started preferring his dark clothes to my usual colorful ones to please him.His favourite food in place of mine, his friends instead of  mine, his favourite movies, his hobby, his routine.Everything his, nothing mine. 

His life,nothing mine.

He loves me,I suppose,in his own sick way.Like the way he brought me flowers in the hospital the day after I cut my wrist when I found out about the first of his women.The way he threw the vase containing the same flowers at me the same night screaming that it was all my fault.Everything always seems to be my fault.His affairs because I couldn't please him the way he wanted,his office frustration because I wasn't a good wife at Home,his boss's anger because I couldn't entertain his boss well.

I don't remember how things reached this stage,how things becomes so messed up.I was suppose to be smart.I was suppose to be know when to get out.I was suppose to listen to everyone who said he would be bad for me.A lots of I was suppose to, I suppose.But I didn't listen. Didn't notice a lot of things.Didn't do a lot of things.And now I can't seem to remember when I became so addicted to this dark depression,anything else seems to scare me.

He says the depression is also my fault,that he keeps me happy enough and I just try to twist everything up.And I suppose he will say this is also my fault,when he sees me in the bathroom floor with the empty pills and tequila bottles.I bet he will get angry.I bet he will scream in rage when the Doctors aren't able to bring me back.I know he will,I am just hoping I won't relive to see him rage this time.

Saturday, March 12

Privacy, authority and Involvement

I was featured in someone else's blog. I remember watching 'The Social Network' and thinking Mark was such a jerk for blogging about his ex-girl friend. Furthermore like she says 'Internet is not something that you can easily erase, it is written in ink for everyone to see and wonder'. Don't worry, my case isn't so dramatic. My cousin didn't write anything bad about me. He just mentioned some of the things that we chat about but that got me thinking if it is appropriate for people to involve someone else in one's blog.

When you tell a story you can never realy complete it without involving someone you know regardless of what you write. One can write about climate change, environment or some abstract topic without involving people you know to a certain point. But more often than not, people from our lives are always involved in our stories. One would be a fool to think they can write about their life without mentioning the people around them. Even in a imaginative piece, people are inspired by things around them, something someone said or things that happened to him. The people in ones' lives is inherently a part of that story, article or blog for that matter, So one involves them in one's stories, in their articles and in their blogs.

The question is - is that fair? We are the ones who is writing the story, the ones who started the blog, not them so is it fair for us to involve someone else in our blogs?  Do they even want to be in the blog? Does he/she approve of you writing about him in your blog? You start a blog, you write about your problems, you thoughts and your opinion so why is someone else who had nothing to do with your decision to start a blog involved in it? Does he even read your blog?

I guess there realy is no problem if one is writing an ode to someone or something funny about the person involved but problems always arises if you are writing less than flattering words about the other person or something that incriminates the person involved like the movie 'The Social Network' for that matter. Furthermore, like in the movie, how is it fair for the person involved to be plastered all over internet without any chance to present their side of the story. And what is to say that just because you put hands to the keyboard first makes your version of it any truer than the other person who doesn't write? It is like mentioning someone or something in an autobiography that the other person would rather have left untold. We have seen it happen often time. I guess one can resort to mentioning only the good parts and steering away from the bad ones but then when have humans been that perfect and how is it fair that you only tell one side of the story? That in itself creates problems.

I suppose one could always ask permission from that particular person but things doesn't always work that way. If you badly want to share an interesting fact but can't find the person, what do you do? Do you publish it without their permission? Or you don't write and miss out giving interesting facts? Furthermore isn't it obvious that the person involved will never approve of a writing that presents him even in a slightly negative way? And which of these things is actually yours to make the decision of? Where is the line where you stop mentioning other people? Telling your side of the story would be only half the story so do you stop in your side of your story or continue even without permission?

I know that by writing this piece my cousin also features in my blog and I think it is so ironic that I couldn't even write about who to involve and who not to involve in my blog without already involving the person who made me think about it in the first place.

Wednesday, March 9

Perfect Balance?

Can we have it all? That is the question. I had a lecturer once. I thought she had it all - a great face, a gorgeous body, way too much brain and a gorgeous husband and two kids. I thought she had it all figured out.  And then suddenly we hear she is getting a divorce and her husband is moving away with her kids. A great face. Check. An ideal career. Check. A good personal life. Uncheck.

This made me wonder how many of us can have it all. Subconsciously whenever you think about growing up and living on your own, you always imagine yourself well-settled with a great career and a blooming personal life. But how many of us actually get around to achieving it? We dream about it enough times - To have a great career. We work for it but where does it leave time for a personal life in between all that hectic schedule? We want to have a great relationship, search for the love of our life but where does it leave time for one to concentrate on ones work.

We have heard it enough times before - Spouses complaining that their husbands don't spend enough time with the family, husbands getting held up at work, girls opting their careers over a relationship. We have seen it numerous time. Don't tell me you have never been distracted from work because your girlfriend/boyfriend was sick or upset? And when do you not interrupt a family getaway for an urgent overtime at work?

They say the answer is all about balance. To be able to balance our career perfectly with our personal life. But I am asking, where is the balance between all that? How do we manage it? How do we know how much more back-steps a career can take in regard to a personal life or how strained a relationship can become because of a career? Is is always going to be One or the Other?

I am not saying I haven't met anyone who hasn't juggled a personal life and a career together. What I find disheartening is the number of those people. There are rarely few who actually do it. And even when they have done it, ask that person and he/she will tell you of a time when his career and personal life weren't on such harmonious grounds. I guess I am searching for a rather unrealistically perfect way of balancing the two but if there really was a way, I would want to know.