Sunday, November 02, 2014

this week #5

Listening: Serial podcast

Yeah, I know. Me and everyone else who is aware that podcasts exist. I'm normally adverse to the zeitgeist, not a fan of bandwagons etc. But I love This American Life and many of the names involved in Serial are formally or currently involved with This American Life, so I figured Serial would be on par. And I'm kind of hooked. I stay up late Thursday nights waiting for the new episode to appear and will either download and listen right away or download to listen to first thing on a Friday. 

Something about the way the story is unfolding, something about the uncertainty, the way nothing in this narrative seems concrete. And perhaps there is some voyeuristic thing happening, too. The way the story is unfolding feels like we are participating in it, in Serial's investigation of it I mean. We are listening and digesting all this information and forming our own conclusions and opinions. Maybe that's the pull, we as the audience are not passive, we are active? I'm not sure, but it's damn good radio. 

Check it out here, but please start at episode one. It's really the only way to listen. And, you're welcome. 

Reading: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. I wasn't born in 1985, didn't make it into the world until 1986 for reference, make of that what you will. It has taken me until now to read this dystopian speculative fiction classic and I devoured it in a few days. Atwood has a way with words that I thoroughly appreciate and this story of a society overtaken by religious extremists, a society where women are stripped of just about every right they have and relegated to subservient roles: wives and daughters, marthas (cooks and cleaners) and handmaids (concubines, basically, walking wombs) is told from the point of view of Offred, one of the first generation of handmaids, a women who can still remember her previous life; a life with a husband and a daughter who are long lost to her. 

Offred lives with the Commander and his wide Serena Joy, an elite couple who are unable to conceive. Enter Offred, who acts as their walking talking womb. Every month the Commander has sex with Offred during 'the ceremony', an occasion Serena Joy is present for. However, soon the Commander begins a strangely ambiguous relationship with Offred outside 'the ceremony', something that is expressly forbidden. And things kind of unravel from there. 

There are a few themes running through this book, notably the importance of language and the complexities of oppression, but the most significant is the subjugation of women. In fact, worse, the politicising of women's bodies, reducing women to merely modes for reproduction. Ugh. Sometimes as I was reading this I would get so angry, so annoyed, despite being fully aware it was a work of fiction. But then, there is always some element of truth in every story. 

Look, the end point is, this is a really great read. So if you haven't already, read it. 

Watching: Not much, but there is this...

True be told, the only thing I've been watching this week is more episodes of Twin Peaks. But there is something else that happened this week I feel is worth mentioning, especially in light of the fact that I wrote so generously about it here. 

This past week I booked my flights to London. I officially have a seat on an airplane that is flying to London next April and I hope you'll excuse the plethora of feelings I have about this. Feelings that will no doubt manifest themselves on here. For the moment, it's a curious mix of excitement and fear. I say curious because those two words seem odd together - at least to me they do. How can there be fear in excitement? And how can there be excitement in fear? I'm not sure. And maybe what I'm feeling isn't either of those things exactly, but something that can only be described in a way that conveys some meaning by those two words. We'll see what other words rise to the surface over the next few months. 

kb xx