Meme for Boob Pencil – ‘The Dying Of Delight’

OK then, on with the meme (see the post above for how this came about).

1. Briefly describe an aspect of your life for which ‘The Dying Of Delight’ would be an apt title.

I think, for me, being a bipolar bear n’stuff, the expected response would be – that time in the hospital – Or that time at uni – Or even, that time I bought all that wierd stuff I thought we really needed on ebay, in a looney week (manic episodes or mixed states aren’t always fun and sometimes expensive – never mind the ‘Dying of Delight’, the Dying of DeDave was more apposite, when he saw the multicoloured golf shoes a la ‘A Clockwork Orange’, arrive to a household where nobody plays golf). Or something along those lines but, really, I can’t remember much about a high or a low for long, once they’re over, what with time and modern medicine working the little miracles they do.

Nope, “The Dying of Delight“, makes me think of nothing so much as the 5th of January, or the 12th day of Christmas when all the decorations come down and the season’s over and it’s all over. I’m a real sucker for Christmas and, when the tree and lights come down, I get blue for a few days ‘cos everything looks much barer and less inviting than it did before they went up.

2. Pick another book whose title has some resonance in your life, and write a little about it.

Lets have a think. The one that springs to mind is “Last Orders” (by Graham Swift). Or perhaps “Dispatches From the Tenth Circle” (by The Onion). I could say “The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time” but nobody would believe me. But I’m being facetious and I don’t think that’s what’s required here. “Naked” (David Sedaris) is how I feel being asked this question, but I guess dosn’t have resonance or relevance in my whole life. I think “How To Be Good” (Nick Hornby) probably has resonanace in most of our lives.

But, in the end, the one with the most resonance for me is probably “The Human Stain” (Philip Roth). It’s the kind of book where it’s not obvious where the title comes from, and that makes you pay attention to it more.

It covers many things: the desire to make some sort of a mark in the world; the messy business of living; the irregularity of people; The organic way we enter life and leave it. The emotional and physical stains of a human birth or death. And, in between these two events, how all we humans are flawed but all also natural; and by extension, the idea that everything, cars, nylon, art, no matter how stylized, are all the product of we humans and might, therefore, be arguably natural too. The oozings and secretions of the minds that thought up the combustion engine make the car a human stain; chemicals are human stains, products of tools and thought. As we are natural and subject to nature, the artifacts we make with the tools we’ve learnt to use – the chemicals we use, the buildings we put up etc. – may be said to be natural human stains. That doesn’t make all that stuff good necessarily, much of it’s filthy. It’s just natural because it all came from humans.

To accept that, you have to accept the idea that all humans are natural. Which I do. I don’t think there is any such thing as an unnatural act; unusual, unique even, but not unnatural. We’re just all on a scale somewhere between, lets say, Ghandi and Jeffrey Dahmer. Jeffrey Dahmer wasn’t dropped from the sky into nature, he came from it. He was a bad man, but he was born, aberrated, straying wildly from nature, but not so much as to pop outside of it. If we believe that then we also have to believe that, on the other end of the scale, an extremely good man, the Dalai Lama for example, is outside of nature too.

I think the scale itself is a kind of stain. All the scales – the scale for how artistic, how kind, how argumentative, how jealous etc. people are – are kind of sparsely populated on the ends and consequently the stain there is light. And where most of us are on most of the scales, in the middle, it is denser – a darker stain, spreading out from the centre.

These are all just ideas which i’m not claiming are right, but that wasn’t the question, Clare asked. Since I first saw the title, “The Human Stain” I have found it has added a useful metaphor for me to think about stuff. The idea of the human stain, and the many interpretations it lends itself to, has informed a lot of my opinions. It’s had resonance in my life.
3. Write one more short personal piece – one which matches the book title chosen (in part 2) by the person who tagged you.

The Lovely Bones“, was Clare’s choice. Mine aren’t lovely, they’re rubbish. I’d broken 4 by the time I was 21.

Also, you can see mine because I’m a bit of an underfed problem-child-bride. I beg Dave for food every day, but his heart is stony; he likes his child-brides bony. Actually, I just forget to eat from time to time. I feed my children nearly every day (see here: ) but sometimes just get busy and forget to feed myself. Plus I come from a tending-to-the-skinny family.

4. Take your favourite little-known book and plug it to your readers. Authors need incomes, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to sell books.

Here is a little-known book written by a very smart and funny Mancunian woman. It is called “The Dying of Delight“. I got it in the mail yesterday and will be starting it tonight when I finish this. When I’m done with it, I’ll write a proper review here, but Clare’s a great writer with a sparky imagination and a sparkling writing style., so I’m anticipatinghaving good things to say! I’ve been wanting to read it since I learned she’d written one.
5. Sit back and marvel at the magnificence of this meme. It was brought to you by an out-of-breath author, reduced (on account of her publisher* having expired) to trundling copies of her book across the internet on a rusty old trolley with one wheel missing, sweating and shouting “Buy me book, Gov?” Now visit and see if you’d like a copy for yourself.

6. Tag five people with this meme.
*Diva Books, ceased trading Feb ’06. RIP

Will do that later. It’s post, then feed-the-cat-and-go-to-bed time for me.

12 thoughts on “Meme for Boob Pencil – ‘The Dying Of Delight’”

  1. Wow! Forgetting to eat. I take my hat off to you. I couldn’t forget to eat if I was in a coma and was only using 10 per cent of my brain. Maybe you are so skinny because you are an insomniac and staying up all night burns calories. Just a theory. I am more of a sloth… although considering I am writing this at five in the morning I can’t be that slothful.

  2. yes! That has been my point too when face to face with ‘raging hippies’ (of which there are a couple in my extended family). As humans are natural, it could be argued that anything we produce is therefore also natural (including detergent and dishwashers and plastic). I don’t use this point to argue whether these things are good or bad, I just like to point out that the idea of something being good because it’s natural is flawed from the start. I like your theory of the scale too and how perhps there is no such thing as ‘unnatural’, but just unique, etc. Hm, I am off to ponder further…

  3. Also, to any ‘raging hippies’ out there. No offence, nothing wrong being of a more hippy persuasion, in fact I admire it. It’s just I have come across a few people recently who make me want to shout “Aah, take off the blinkers!!!”

    Oh and also, I think being awake at night does indeed do something to your weight as I eat as much as I ever have if not more since Orla was born but yet I am the thinnest I have ever been. She’s a terrible sleeper so maybe that’s partly why? Just being awake – it’s exhausting!

  4. So, you fell into Clare’s cunning scheme to publicize her book, which she now has boxes of in her attic, ready to ship to customers. But mostly this post shows that you have way too much time on your hands, you think about things way too much, and also your imagination is rather obvious. I don?t think any of these are bad traits, but might suggest you try to fill your life with other things as well.

  5. Nope, Joe, plenty to do, during the day. I just don’t sleep much. It’s a problem, but this blogging wotsit helps pass the time. Most of my posts are done in the middle of the night. Beats counting sheep.

    “… your imagination is rather obvious”. Does this mean I obviously have an imagination, or I imagine the obvious things? Prolly both, in my view. It’s hard for any of us to know how we’re coming across sometimes. 😉 (I think that’s the first winky face I’ve ever put on a post!)

    Anyway, I’m supposed to tag 5 people to do this meme, so I tag you. You know Clare. She’s a great lady. This would help her spread the word about her book.

  6. The winky face has only got one eyebrow. Perhaps it’s had an encounter with a frat boy, a razor and a kegger. Those conditions would create the pefect storm for sudden asymetric eyebrow loss.

    Fluffag! Yeah. Nature’s a mixed bag, like ourselves. Caterpillar – good; cancer bad. European starlings in Europe – good: Eur. starlings in N America – bad. Kindness – good; being crummy – bad. I don’t think there’s anything to argue about there. Just because we accept the stuff we do is natural though, doesn’t mean that, if we know we’re screwing it all up so badly – polluting our air and water and changing our climate, eating donuts every day etc.- that we shouldn’t be responsible for that. We always push the envelope to see what we can get away with – that’s natural too, but at the moment with the environment and stuff, our envelope seems to be teetering on the desk-edge over the waste-paper basket, and somebody’s just opened the window and now there’s a draft and Aaaaarrrgh!

    If we know how to stop a catastrophe we should, of course, and avoid the fatalistic and fantastical thinking of the Bush administration. ‘Cos, you know, there’s nothing more natural than buggering things all up. And there’s nothing more SUPERnatural than praying for the system and rules that God set up, to be changed all of a sudden at a tricky moment in our environmental history. But what humans have excelled at since we swung out of the trees, is solving problems. If we just pretend they don’t exist, that’s not so good for us and our survival.

    What am I going on about? I need a cuppa.

    Emma, i think it is the not sleeping thing that keeps the weight off. I would happily gain ten pounds in a heartbeat though, if I could just sleep well for one night. Grrrr! Where’s that cuppa?

  7. “the idea of something being good because it?s natural is flawed from the start.”

    Absolutely. I agree with fluffag. And Sami. It really pises me off when people use “natural” to mean “pure and perfect”. For instance… herbal remedies. Just because it’s herbal doesn’t mean it’s good for you! Opium is herbal too, and so is belladonna you nitwits!

    As for Sami’s imagination being obvious… huh? What an odd thing to say. I absolutely disagree.

    P.S. Technically you were supposed to do the What Men Need To Know About Women thing, seeing as that was my number two… but I accept the whole concept is a little confusing. Soz about that!

    As for helping me to publicise my book… I’m so over my initial angst about marketing. As my friend Brian said, there’s a world of difference between marketing something that nobody really needs (but everyone needs a thneed!) and helping people to find something, like a book, that is worth being find and would fester in a very unnecessary way otherwise. And the world needs authors. And authors need readers. And incomes.

    So rah for me. And my book.


  8. P.S. I’ve never started a meme before. It’s rather exciting seeing it come to life like this. And you done a great job.

    Rah for you, and rah for me. Again.

  9. Sami, your imagination is as obvious as a speck of (albeit a rather brightly coloured and in your own words, impish, speck) of sand on a beach. And you are thoroughly without pretension. You are a lovely kookai cookie who never tries to be a muffin…or maybe you’re a muffin who never tries to be a cookie…or something. Forgive my silly attempts at metaphors or whatever literary technique I am attempting. I am in a unusually silly and “I am invincible” kind of mood today due to the fact that (and this is for Everyone) MY 16 MONTH OLD DAUGHTER SLEPT ALL NIGHT PROPERLY FOR THE FIRST TIME LAST NIGHT!!! Oh joy. I am practically skipping along today and already feel a few years younger. And if I had a drinking social life (ie with other people in a large public space rather then a solitary glass of wine in a small enclosed and not open to public space, my living room) then the drinks would be on me. Hurrah for sleep. I had forgotton just how good it could be. Hope you sort out your sleep problems too, Sami. Though the evil and selfish side to me is saying “no, let Sami never again find the sleep she so craves at night as then she will no longer have the time to write on PCB” But wait, that’s right, I had forgotton that you, a mother of twins, clearly has too much time on her hands and should do less thinking. Pah!

  10. The adjective I choose to attach to your imagination and those of other respondents is ‘vivid’. I have difficulty naming a colour to associate with this but I’ll opt for “sky blue pink with a yellow border”. For you Sami (alias… wirepeach, ‘who pray’ etc) I’d need to add one or two dark patches seeing that your coaxing “Wocky” to work, when there’s no visible daylight.
    Have you managed to fall asleep yet whilst coaxing “Wocky” in the wee small hours?

    Grandpa bear

  11. I would be delighted to do this….but I’m afraid I can’t get to it for another couple weeks. I’m stuck in one of those 16 hour day work modes until I get back home on the 13th or so. Could you tag me again then? By then it would be great to think about books and NOT advertising!

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