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: http://problemchildbride.com/blog/?p=20 ) 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 www.TheDyingOfDelight.co.uk 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.