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Another day, another essay.  The weekly structure I once had (if there ever was such a thing) is a fast fading memory. Today is Monday but it could just as well be any other day.  The days seem to blur together, accumulating into a chloroform silhouette that moves slowly towards something we refer to as ‘the end.’ This motion might be an illusion;  there might be no movement at all. I feel I am at a standstill. Hypotheses form a web around my consciousness, isolating it to a timeless interim in a geographical void.  You could also say I’m in the library and I’m bored.

Well, Monday or not, it is International Women’s Day today. Hurray! And yesterday’s Academy Award saw to it so that Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman EVER to win an Oscar for Best Director. Hurray!  And an Oscar to Sandra Bullock (up against Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren)! Hurray! Hurray! I love Sandra Bullock; I think she’s amazing; she just does a lot of films that aren’t so amazing.

kathryn bigelow

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All female solidarity aside…what on heaven’s earth is this woman wearing and why in god’s name has no one steamed it for her? No, not Sandra, she looks divine, the other one (Yes, when you haven’t seen any of the films you are allowed to judge and objectify. And possibly at other times too, as this argument works both ways).

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Caspar David Friedrich Chalk Cliffs on Rügen

(I want to go to Rügen so, so bad. My ideal travel plan this summer is Copenhagen-Rügen-St. Petersburg)

Ok, I take back all the bad stuff I ever said about Romantic poetry. Once I got going (and no I didn’t even mention Kant or the sublime) I enjoyed it tremendously. Wordsworth and I are now like Batman and Robin, like Thelma and Louise, like Simon and Garfunkel. I’m his bodyguard and he’s my long-lost pal. It’s potentially the best essay I’ve ever written (or rather, it has potential of becoming the best, so far my rather grand statements are fairly underdeveloped). I think this every time I write an essay, I must have megalomaniac tendencies. But honestly, isn’t it the nature of literary criticism? It’s so arbitrary and subjective. There are no facts, only opinions. And in my essay, only my opinions count. You hear, clearly not healthy for your gracefully modest sprit. Well, of course, getting criticized for your essay isn’t exactly an ego-boast, but it doesn’t mean I was wrong, it just mean I wasn’t able to persuade you I was right.

So, the LSE Literary Festival kicked of last night with a panel discussion on the somewhat misleading topic ‘How would a Robot read a Novel?’ Discussing almost nothing of what was initially promised, it was still amazingly interesting. The whole thing is very timely indeed. I am more than ever questioning the benefits of an English degree and the purpose of literary studies in general. I see no direct attachment to the real world; I find no specific benefits of Lit-crit in the greater context. I know culture is important; I’m just not sure what I’m doing is. So a weekend of exploring the relationship between the sciences and literature feels absolutely vital for my sanity (and probably good for other reasons too). And the LSE! Seriously, what a stimulating environment. What resources they have. I feel smarter just by being in proximity.

Now, Friday night has finally arrived. Time to put on a dress and drink some wine methinks.

…this is what I like.

Essay: Zadie Smith on the essay. (bonus: Joan Didion anno 1967)

Perspective: everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy. (bonus: very funny!)

Philosophy: The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand.

Radio: Weekend Woman’s Hour

Tune #1: Tougher than the Rest with Bruce Springsteen (bonus: fashion anno 1988)

Tune #2: Pata Pata with Miriam Makeba

Poem: “Spellbound” by Emily Brontë:

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing dear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Painting #1: Waterhouse – St Eulalia

Painting #2: Millais – Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind

Painting #3: Friedrich – Winter Landscape

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mimi harcourt

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