Depression log: 1

Life is pretty boring right now.

I bought some old games on Tuesday – Fallout 1 and 2, Civilization III, and Starcraft. I’ve only installed Fallout 2 so far, and was pretty into it yesterday, but today I can’t maintain interest in it. I play for a few minutes and then exit in frustration. Installing another game seems too much work, especially if I can’t get into it either.

It’s awkward when your interest in things is broken. If you’re bored, you can’t fix it by simply doing something different like you normally would. It’s not what you’re doing that’s the problem, it’s your ability to engage with it.

I might watch a Countdown episode I recorded yesterday. The finals are on at the moment, so there’s a high standard of play.

Who cares, right?

Published in: on December 14, 2012 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fiesta : The Sun Also Rises

So I finally got around to reading some Hemingway. Pernod. Bullfights. Tennis. Fishing. Hanging out with prostitutes. French brandy. Spanish wine.

Jake loves Brett, and she loves him (in a way), but any chance of a relationship is complicated by both of their personalities – and by the fact that Jake has an “injury” from the War. Awkward. So, during the Fiesta in Pamplona,  Jake sets her up with his Spanish bullfighter friend, Romero.

I was impressed by the way Jake presents himself. He’s a pretty good model of a certain type of narrator; he observes and reports on the action to us, without being too involved in what’s going on. The fact that he acts as impotent procurer for the woman he loves is a pretty key example of this; he’s a sort of passive mediator there. There’s also a scene where Jake watches while a friend of his is repeatedly insulted by his wife. Jake is watching his friend and wondering “why does he just sit and take it?”. It really brings out the embarrassment of watching a couple airing their dirty laundry in front of you – I think you can really put yourself in Jake’s place a lot of the time.

On the other hand, Jake is competent, capable, well liked, and well-connected; in mundane things, he’s a vigourous man. This seems like it would contradict Jake as a passive observer (and I think there is a real contradiction there), but at the same time his character doesn’t seem divided. I think this adds something quite good to the novel.

Hopefully I’ll be reading A Farewell to Arms sometime soon – I don’t have much else to say on Hemingway yet, but maybe reading something new will bring new insights.

Edited 2017-12-23 because I’ve been misspelling Hemingway’s name for years.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Company She Keeps

I’ve just finished Mary McCarthy’s The Company She Keeps. I knew McCarthy from her introduction to Nabokov’s Pale Fire, so when I came across her first novel, I thought it might be worth a read.

The novel’s “hook” lies in the fact that each chapter is written from a different perspective. We have one chapter in the first person (“an extract from memoirs begun by the heroine”), one in the second person, and a couple of third-person portraits at various levels of intimacy – some with the heroine as the subject, and some, as it were, catching her unawares in the background. Although we are never directly narrated to by any of the other characters, we get a lot of opportunities to see the heroine through their eyes. McCarthy handles this really well, and in particular the second-person chapter came across very naturally.

This heroine I mentioned is Meg Sargent, a young woman living in New York in the 30s. Although intellegent, cultured, and (no doubt) attractive, she has trouble committing – both professionally and in romance. After a divorce, she finds herself drifting; living a rather “second-rate” lifestyle and getting involved with men who are all “lame ducks” in one way or another. All this, of course, is borne of existential angst and unfortunate childhood experience (the poor dear was Catholic on the mother’s side), with a dash of bourgeois guilt thrown in. However, because Meg is a bright girl, and pathologically honest to boot (she never lets herself believe the lies she tells), it is not quite as simple as that. Although she searches for meaning, she tends to see through any answers (and men) she and others come up with.

A friend of mine pointed out that I have a tendency to enjoy these semiautographical studies of medium-strong female characters – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie being another major example. Actually, Spark’s novel has an unusual narrative structure too. I’m not quite sure where the appeal lies, but I guess interesting form and psychological insight are pretty good traits for a novel to have, especially if the insight is into the mind of a sexy lady!

The only real problem with the book is the introduction. Here McCarthy pretty much sabotages the story by giving a rather pat explanation of the heroine’s motivation. It’s odd because in the text itself we grasp this motivation quite subtly, which is much more satisying. Funnier still, McCarthy does exactly the same thing in her Pale Fire introduction – she gives away her interpretation of the “true” story behind the narrator’s account, and this can really spoil our enjoyment of Nabokov’s hinting style.

The Company She Keeps, despite the many narrative perspectives, has a lot of coherence and unity. As such, it is self-sufficient, so it is probably hard to write a good introduction about it. If you consider the novel on its own, it is a very good read.

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Here’s a comic that I’ve been working on since July of 2009

Bad thigns can TRANSPIRE

I couldn’t have done it without Dave

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Barthes and Myth

This post isn’t finished yet – I’m just putting it up because I’m hoping it’ll help me get over some writer’s block.

I’m rereading a few of the essays in Mythologies at the moment, the ones where he deals with manufactured physical objects: “Soap-powders and Detergents”; “Toys”; “Ornamental Cookery”; “The New Citroen”; “Plastic.” Barthes tends to use a sort of alchemical langauge to describe these objects; just as water, for Aristotle, was essentially cold and wet, so metal, for Barthes, has an essential “flat hardness.” The substances that form the basis of this alchemy come from the world of sense, but not necessarily the world of nature; we also have “civilised” categories of substance like finished wood, rubber, plastic, paper, varnishes and glazes.

The interesting thing about Barthes’s alchemy is that he sometimes stands outside it to criticise the beliefs that arise from it, but he also sometimes seems to have become trapped within these beliefs himself. In the essay on soap powders, for instance, he is clear that the properties attributed to cleaning products by their manufacturers are mythical, but

Barthes does not like plastic, and I suspect this is for two main reasons.

Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate Beverages

I was at the vending machine in college today, and got both a “hot chocolate” and a “chocomilk” to compare. They were… pretty similar. They both were served hot. The hot chocolate was a shade darker, and had slightly more of an aroma of cocoa, but they tasted almost the same. Maybe one is suitable for lactose intolerance and one isn’t – I don’t know? A friend I was with thought that the chocomilk had more of a milky taste, but I was only half-sure I could detect this. There definitely wasn’t a more “creamy” texture to the chocomilk; both drinks had a certain viscosity to them, and a slight tendency to coat the tongue. The “chocolate” taste was a little dusty in both cases, and I found them both a little oversweet.

I don’t think I’ll be changing from my usual coffee.

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 12:10 am  Comments (2)  
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The Other Supreme Buddha

I read this article yesterday, and I think it influenced the manifest content of my dreams last night. Also while I’m on the topic the “Stuff White People Like” blog, I feel like mentioning that it often cuts really close to the bone. It’s not fun to see how closely one fits a stereotype!

Anyway, I dreamt that the Buddha pulled up to my house in a blue car, just as another blue car was pulling out of my driveway. He resembled a statue of orange stone. I invited him in, and offered him anything he cared to eat out of my fridge. He didn’t find anything he cared for, though – most of the things were half-eaten – so he asked whether I had any paint (or possibly I offered him some paint). While I was looking, I asked the Buddha whether or not he was a vegan. He told me that the “real” Buddha was a vegan, but that he wasn’t, because he was only the Buddha for people who were just “into” Buddhism. At this point I noticed that he was dressed like a hippy, and had a scruffy beard and sunglasses. I felt a little sorry for him, although he did not seem unhappy.

I found some light blue paint, and some tent pegs, and gave these to the ersatz Buddha. I have a vague memory of him chugging the paint, but the dream is hazy at this point; just after this, I woke up.

My analysis so far indicates that the Buddha might be a representation of myself on my return from hospital. Also, if we merge the symbols of the cars and the paint (as they were the same colour), the fact that the Buddha came out of the car, but took the paint into himself, implies a confusion of the inside/outside relation.

Published in: on May 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm  Comments (1)  

Sexism in the Aristocats

At the risk of seeming fixated on Disney (but then, I am), I thought I’d mention this. In the Aristocats, the cat Duchess’s two male children, Berlioz and Toulouse, are named after a French nineteenth-century composer and painter, respectively – appropriately, since Toulouse paints and Berlioz plays piano in an early scene. Her daughter, by contrast, is given the much more generic name “Marie” – possibly after Marie Antoinette. Why not name her after a nineteenth-century prima donna or something (since Marie sings along to Berlioz’ playing)? I sense a lack of respect for women in their creative endeavours…

Hm, in the time it took me to write that out, I managed to lose interest in the subject. Yawn.

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 11:41 am  Comments (1)  
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Pizza Night

I think that it’s about time I returned to my blog. My subject today? The last pizza night on Kilroot ward!

Thursday’s was the night when four guys with anxiety disorders got themselves some pizza. Ross, Peter, Sean and I assembled in my room to order our usual from Dominos in Crumlin. Before this got started, though, Ross pointed out to Peter and Sean the view from my room, viz. the big honking rats in the courtyard below. We tried to count them, but they spent a lot of time going in and out of the cover of bushes and holes in the pavement. We only have a rough estimate – I’d say around six.

Ross is on a kick at the moment of exposing people to the triggers of their anxiety (I incidentally think this was the idea behind his mentioning the rats), so he thought I should jack up my social anxiety by making the call to Dominos. Partly because my social anxiety makes it hard for me to say no to people, and partly because it sounded like a good idea, I went through with it. Bad idea. I’m not going to say any more about it, but basically Ross had to call them back and actually place the order.

Anyway, our appetites whetted by our rat-watching, we really dug into the pizza, wedges, and so on, when they arrived. Topics of conversation included:

  • How do we divide up all the food?
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (via a comparison of the rats in the courtyard to Shredder).
  • Which mental illnesses are the worst to have? This one got pretty involved and confusing pretty quickly, because things like the intensity of the illness had to be taken into account.
  • Which mental illnesses do the characters from Winnie-the-Pooh have? Apparently this has been put on somebody’s blog before, but I can’t find it anywhere, so here it is again: Pooh Bear has an eating disorder; Piglet has an anxiety disorder; Rabbit has OCD; Eeyore has major depression; Owl is approaching senility; Tigger has ADHD; Christopher Robin has gender dysphoria.
  • What is the deal with the nurses in St. Patrick’s Hospital? They come into our room every hour to check up on us. They write down what we’re up to – it goes into our files! They force us out of bed in the morning! They call me on the phone even though I find this extremely anxiety-provoking! It’s all most frustrating, and we find it really brings down the bearability of the whole “psychiatric hospital experience” for us. I’m considering setting up a patients’ union to somehow voice and maybe address these complaints.
  • Which country is the best – France or Italy, and then, after some thought, France or Spain. Or maybe it was Italy or Spain. To modify a Simpsons quote – “Nobody ever chooses France.”

I feel like I’m forgetting a lot, but hey, if anyone wants to add anything, there’s a “comments” feature. I’m off to watch a Woody Allen film – I sort of want to write an essay on hypnotism as a theme in his films.  Sayonara!

Published in: on May 2, 2009 at 6:52 pm  Comments (3)  
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After my ECT today, I found that I had forgotten how to solve the Rubik’s cube. I was quickly able to refresh my memory online, but nonetheless – who knows what else I have forgotten? Obviously I don’t, and indeed for the most part can’t, know.

Then again, I suppose there is little point in worrying about it. I should focus on the positive – the therapy actually does seem to have done some good today. I am tired, but am also rather less depressed than I felt at the weekend.

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment