Kill Me

Origins

The past is often a difficult place to return to, especially if you’ve done a good job of removing a lot of the memories from certain periods of time. I have school pictures, sure, and old physical copies of stuff I took in my early years of experimenting with film cameras. These memories have helped create the basis of a novel that I hope to finish soon, but in the main those times are not ones I enjoy returning too, or indeed like to remain within for long.

Me, circa 1985

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Back in my early 20’s, I wrote a Murder Mystery from scratch, to be performed as an ‘event’ at our first Housewarming. It was a significant undertaking, as memory serves: 1930’s themed, people in costume, modelled after the ‘Mystery in a Box’ games that were quite popular at the time. There were pictures of that, but they went in a skip during one of my darker periods of self-reflection followed by a redemptive clearout. Needless to say, I was big hair all over the 1980’s. There’s also perilously few pictures of me that remain, which should come as a relief to just about everybody concerned.

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I surface again as photogenic in the late 1990’s, but between this period a lot of writing work did go on. There’s a separate post next week on my legacy to the early Internet, but I have script ideas and fully-planned novel overviews that have survived from this time, which remain nothing more than hand-written, fanciful affairs. In fact, if you wanted to categorise how it worked back then, the process can be fairly succinctly summarised as follows: get a great idea, work on it, then get told I’m a waste of space at work and trash the whole thing. It was only when I left my job to have my son that the toxic influences finally vanished, and creativity finally surfaced. That’s fifteen years, give or take, of wasted opportunity I still regret even now.

TV was also a significant influence on how my future endeavours would work, in fact without fan fiction, I doubt I would have ever found the confidence to attempt my own long-term narratives. The earliest surviving example of that in my own timeline is dated sometime around 1995, a decade after the first tentative pushes into my own fiction. That’s also part of next week’s Internet legacy, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Needless to say, this is a part of my life I wish never existed in part, and that I’m really very loathed to go back to at any great length. When the autobiography is written, this is four paragraphs in a chapter and nothing more: important as reminder but not significant as celebration.

Time to move on to more important things.

The Friday Prompt :: July 14th 2017

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Want to tell me what to write for the next seven days worth of MicroPoetry and Haiku?

Here’s your chance: reply to this post with a prompt: it can be anything at all. A picture, a video or a song, even a .GIF is acceptable, or perhaps some poetry or a snippet of dialogue. Post it in the comments, and if I like it enough, I’ll use it as a prompt for my Sunday afternoon writing session.

If your suggestion is chosen, I’ll make sure you get credited for the inspiration.

Submissions close at 12.05 pm, Sunday July 16th.

AWAY YOU GO.

Adventures in Micropoetry [ONE]

This is also the first week that I’ve taken a prompt for the Micropoetry (which will happen again) and it was a piece of video, provided by @rjdeducation:

From this sequence came the following five pieces:

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Now, see both sides
Understanding
Both good and bad;
Consequences.

Your point of view
Dependent on
Too much, at once
To guess at will.

An upshot, not
Ever certain
Dictated by
So many things.

This simple act,
Outcome clouded:
The final path
To journey’s end.

Open your mind:
Accepting truth
Each choice is more
Than what is known.


 

Adventures in Haiku [TWO]

This week our weekly Haiku was written as a prompt from this image, from @espiroth on Twitter:

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The Haiku that followed are, I think, some of my best work so far. Here they are for your enjoyment, in one sequence:

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Caught in brilliant light:
Rain princess walks homeward bound,
Water drenched backdrop.

Your story intrigues:
Where will the journey end, who
Is lucky, waiting.

The light that reflects:
Brilliant strokes, colour blocks
Angular prisms.

At distance, a blur
Only up close does this life
Begin to make sense.

The world here surveyed;
Kingdom of seductive light
One moment, preserved.


 

Book of the Month :: My Body, My Internet

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Of all the essays contained in Ways Of Seeing, it is the two that focus on female form that are the most interesting from a personal point of view. One is simply a set of imagery: 1970’s adverts juxtaposed beside modern photography, challenging and mundane presentations of women plus classical images of the female form, nude or provocatively clothed. The other is a verbal dissection of how men have painted women, process of visual manipulation that has taken place over hundreds of years. This ties in with the second of four BBC documentaries on that same subject, which was broadcast on 15 January 1972.

The conclusions of both are damning:

Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relations of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.

This essay postulates the portrayal of nudes for hundreds of years as an example that women in paintings are rarely, if ever placed there for anyone except men. It is they who stare at the female form, covet it, with the woman always aware that she is being painted simply to be objectified. There was a period where the use of mirrors became popular, supposedly signifying the perceived conceit of women, with truth as anything but:

You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.

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For many decades both before and after these essays were written, it is very easy to cite and demonstrate the influence of the ‘classical’ nude in popular culture, and to be able to read into this a back story that men continued the process of objectification of their own desires. Except, in the last thirty years, there has been an undoubted change in how this takes place, if it does so at all. Actualisation has, in many situations, become unacceptable, both socially and morally. However, it would be a fallacy to believe that with so many key positions in advertising and media still dominated by men that there is as yet an end to such practices in sight.

What has altered are the means by which such practices take place, the methods in which the imagery is delivered to the ‘consumer’ and what now passes as objectification in the first place. Tastes have rapidly evolved since the 1970’s: add to this that racism, sexism and segregation were commonplace forty years ago, and have been slowly eroded as acceptable practice. However with the recent rise of fascism as a popular flag to stand behind and the controversial stance of the current President of the United States, these seemingly outdated ideologies are currently very much at the forefront of public consciousness.

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Women as objects however remain a subject of contention, especially when one sees popular icons such as Kim Kardashian or Beyoncé take to social media as their own stylised variant of the classical nude. Are these women making a ‘sight’ of themselves, or are they perfectly aware of the significance and impact their naked forms will have on those who consume their brand? Somewhere between the 1970’s and here women have gained significant power and influence in many areas of society: equal pay and conditions however are still a long way off for many, key management positions in many industries notably lacking a diversity in employees.

It is not simply the female form that is expanding away from the realms of objectification. Sexual culture has changed beyond all recognition, with thanks undoubtedly due to the expansion of the Internet: terms such as ‘revenge porn’ and ‘slut shaming’ live alongside female and male cosplayers, fetishists are a breath away from Hentai. What the Internet offers us as consumers is a breadth of choice in consumption which is both staggering and concerning, where lines often blur with such speed as to be impossible to discern. At the heart of all these things however is imagery: for the first time objectification extends beyond the desirable, and into areas which were previously inaccessible or even culturally taboo.

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All body shapes and types can be found online: as fashion houses continue to rely on unrealistic physical proportions, more and more individuals celebrate and embrace body diversity. For each conventional porn site there’ll be somewhere else to celebrate every kink and desire… with this extending into the darker, depressing depths of depravity. In the past all these things undoubtedly took place, it is just there was no one platform to show them to an audience with such immediacy and impact. This is why, more than ever, it is vital to understand the truths in what is presented to us as ‘seen.’ Images can lie, and that is a fact that many young and vulnerable individuals need to be reminded of, often on a daily basis.

As a depressing example of this of particular relevance, there’s been a marked increase in the number of young girls asking for labial surgery on the back of viewing online porn, believing their own bodies are somehow deformed. This, like it or not, is a direct consequence of the standard imposed on actresses in said profession. It is proof that, wherever you look, someone will decide a benchmark for visual acceptance that is often utterly unrealistic. In their own way, whenever an actress poses nude and attempts to justify this as an example of ‘my body, my rules’ they forget about the negative influence their perception of beauty and empowerment may have on those simply and immediately swayed by visual stimulus.

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However, despite this, there must remain a freedom of expression in this regard, to extend to every single person who chooses to use their body as an extension of personality. Social media has gone a long way towards allowing that extension, and undoubtedly it has created a generation who are more capable of communication than the one which preceded it. Of course, this expression has not come without consequence, and that is probably a discussion for a different place. If we are to focus on the issues with body image, is it fair that this is automatically associated with simply the female form?

It is now just as common to find the male body objectified not simply by women but other men. In fact, any physical shortcoming is fair game in the modern world: however without due thought and attention this can and does backfire. The company who considered making body lotion bottles in the same varied shapes and sizes of their audience failed to grasp a key factor in why this process is inherently dangerous. How we see ourselves is often vastly different to how we are perceived by others. The classical nude was painted as a reflection of beauty at that time, and would as a result become a benchmark for what those creating the images desired. Trying to second guess the complexity of imagery in the rapidly changing world is considerably more difficult.

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What we can do, as viewers, is to attempt to address the wider themes at play. Undoubtedly there are those celebrity women whose ‘brand’ dictates an almost constant exposure to media scrutiny. On the flip side, it would be unwise to take a certain actor’s desire not to do interviews or photo shoots as a sign of integrity. The truth is undoubtedly found at a differing point in each individual case. No longer can we accurately use history as the means by which certain truths are illuminated. The past remains where we should begin the journey, but not all of the answers can or will be found there.

However, there is one ability that is clearly absent in many people’s mindset: acceptance. Allowing freedom of expression and individuality has always been an issue: questioning the might of Catholicism, the elimination of slavery, allowing women the vote, accepting gay marriage… all of these events have come at considerable personal toll to all those who fought in opposition. Yet, without that concerted effort, life would not be as refreshing and confusing as is undoubtedly the case. The price one pays for liberation is seldom grasped at the time: for many older people, the past remains the only place where they feel truly safe.

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The next time you are presented with an image that could be considered as provocative, try and interpret why that might be the case. Half the battle in understanding is the ability to grasp why one person finds an image offensive and the other doesn’t. Berger suggests at the end of his essay on nudes that if a male reader were to substitute their own image for those of the countless women across the ages, and then to consider what another person might think of the resultant picture, there would be a very different set of feelings at play. This concept works for an awful lot of current imagery too, and makes for an exercise in enlightenment like no other.

In the end, like it or not, it is rare for an image now to be just that, simply encompassing the moment. Parents use their children’s pictures as news on Facebook, female streamers post provocative images of their bodies to garner views on Twitch… and the list goes on. Everybody has a reason, and no two are ever exactly the same. If you are to truly understand the Internet’s depth and breadth, then every picture should be studied with at least some measure of care, before any immediate conclusions can be drawn.

Out of Touch

Origins

When I started this little adjunct to the Internet of Words journey, I’d not expected the reaction it garnered. People being genuinely interested in my backstory, is, I’ll grant you, something of a surprise. Having grasped the level of interest, I’ve gone back into my history to start putting together an actual chronology of what I’ve written, and when. That means, this week, I’ll ask you cast your mind back to October of 1985…

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I’ve picked a US cassette sleeve for the sole reason that Ghostbusters is track one, and I’d spent quite a bit of time post ‘A’ Level exams obsessing about this film. I ended up at my first choice destination for college, and that meant three years of Media studies and English. I was told by my tutor it would be a good idea to practice learning how to write poetry, as it would grant a greater understanding of what I was going to learn going forward. Thus, the Big Book of Poetry was created:

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Okay, it’s not that big (A5 size) but there are enclosed in these pages a respectable 32 poems. I say respectable advisedly: I was 18, and a lot of this is dire. However, my issues with depression are already apparent back then, and maybe if I’d paid more attention to myself in those early days my life might have run a different course. However, it is what it is now, and that’s just one of those intractable truths that you accept and move on from. However, I have picked one poem to share: it’s all hand written, in pencil, and hopefully this is readable enough.

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I know when this was written: a trip up to London (I think to see something course related) which prompted my first attempts to capture a world that was still amazing and brilliant on my own terms. Even though a lot of that year is lost completely to the vagaries of alcohol, late nights and bad memory, these poems remain. Some are named for people I remember, others I don’t recall at all. There are also hints of what else influenced my life, most especially the book of poetry studied in my first year, forming the basis of an end year dissertation.

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These poems are still an important part of what I am, and to understand me is to know that many of these works run through me as letters through a piece of seaside rock. Without Brian Patten, in particular, I would not be the person I now am. There’s a lot to look back on at this part in my life, and to be honest not all of it was stuff I am proud of (as seems to be a theme that runs through large swathes of my existence.) However, if you are to truly understand where my love of writing began, it was here. There’s also a story, already told from this period of my life, that’s featured previously on the Blog. If you’re interested about that time someone tried to convert me to Christianity, you could do a lot worse than go read this.

The Friday Prompt :: July 7th 2017

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Want to tell me what to write for the next seven days worth of MicroPoetry and Haiku?

Here’s your chance: reply to this post with a prompt: it can be anything at all. A picture, a video or a song, even a .GIF is acceptable, or perhaps some poetry or a snippet of dialogue. Post it in the comments, and if I like it enough, I’ll use it as a prompt for my Sunday afternoon writing session.

If your prompt is chosen, I’ll make sure you get credited for the inspiration.

Submissions close at 12.05 pm, Sunday July 9th.

AWAY YOU GO.

Adventures in Haiku [ONE]

As you will know, I’m experimenting with my poetic styles as part of daily content on the @InternetofWords Twitter site. This week, I wrote a 5 part Haiku, which forms a larger sequence, and I’m really rather proud of it. Therefore, it seems appropriate to reproduce it here complete.


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Your picture, taken:
So perfect. Turn to ignore
Chaos and anger.

What has happened here?
The sudden alteration
of joy to sorrow.

We were perfection:
an unbreakable union,
’til doubt split apart

these tender efforts;
soon discarded, forgotten
in the heat of rage.

Take this image: now
remember beauty was here,
between us, as one.


 

Coming Up

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If you’re a Patreon, you’ll already know that it isn’t long now until the first of my Book of the Month content is available. What you won’t know is what else is being offered, quite apart from the special weekly poetry and micro-prose options. We mentioned participation via visual prompts yesterday: as one of my Patrons rightly pointed out, it doesn’t need to be a moving image that acts as a catalyst. With that in mind, lets lay out how the weeks will pan out going forward. I’m still working on graphics for these features (just me here as the one woman staff) and they’ll be added when complete.

MONDAY:

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Many people have asked me about how I write, why I do and the experiences that have shaped arrival at this point. Monday’s posts, for the foreseeable future, will present a rough autobiographical journey from my first inklings of being a storyteller to where we now stand.

TUESDAY & THURSDAY:
GENERAL WRITING POST.

Whatever crosses my mind, writers and writing in the News, general stream of consciousness gubbins… gonna be a pretty mixed bag on these two days. Might try some longer form poetry or chain up some prose in a rough sequence… we will see. This is the area where I’ll allow spontaneity to shine, and which will probably be written ‘live.’

WEDNESDAY:

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Wednesday is Patreon Day, and that means a scheduled essay or piece of fiction, depending on what time of the month we’re in. To get more details of this, visit my Patreon page, and if you haven’t already, perhaps consider a pledge. However, there will be a second post on Wednesdays, which will pick up a word and consider how its definition has changed in recent years.

FRIDAY:
‘MAKE YOUR OWN CONTENT’ DAY
& NOVEL UPDATES

I’ve still not thought up a snappier title for this (working on it!) but Fridays will be when you can suggest images as prompts to next week’s poetry. This will also be the day when I keep you up to date with Novel developments and what I’m currently working on in terms of fictions generally.

I take the weekends off, as a rule, but that’s because there has to be some time to write for pleasure as well as business. You might get a post Saturday and Sunday from time to time, so we’ll pretend this is every day and say no more about it, ‘kay?


That’s the basic plan going forward, but I will review things again at the start of October. The key I have found to keeping things interesting is continuous reassessment, and I’ll be listening carefully to feedback and suggestions on every step of the way.

For now, however, this will do for starters

Beautiful Noise

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Welcome to what is now scheduled as a daily post on this site, in addition to the Patreon content being presented by the Internet of Words. For the last couple of months, every morning (or in bursts of creativity that are subsequently scheduled) I’ve been writing a daily haiku. Poetry has never been my strong point in all the years I’ve been crafting with words. However, as the weeks have passed, I find my brain beginning to think in a 5/7/5 manner as I wake. It is akin to remembering how to hold dumbbells for a certain exercise, or what my body has to recall when running so there is no additional stress on knees or back. Poetic muscle memory has become a thing of joy.

However, in the scheme of cerebral haiku I’m very much still swimming in the shallow end. Ideally two images/concepts should be separated by a kireji (“cutting word”) which also serves to join your disparate concepts together. Occasionally I’ve come close but it there needs to be more thought (and possibly caffeine) to make those neophyte efforts more acceptable. There should be more haiku when I’m awake, which means as of right now I’m going to try and write a week’s worth of content on a Sunday and then schedule it appropriately.

I’ve also started making a distinct effort to match appropriate GIF-age with both the daily haiku and the micropoetry, and starting on Monday if you’re following me on the IoW Twitter feed, you can suggest a GIF that will be used as inspiration for the following week’s offerings. In effect, you’ll be providing the pictures, and I’ll come up with the words, and this whole thing becomes a truly group effort. This has already proven quite productive based on the previous week’s output.

This is, however, only the beginning. I’ll be introducing the weekly ‘features’ starting next week, which is also when there’ll be a webpage established for all the Twitter poems, both from morning and evening. As they’re published in Tweet format I’ll be using that platform’s Moments feature to present them in an easily digestible form. I hope you’ll enjoy reading as much as I am writing.