June 04, 2005
I was listening to Mercia FM the other day (it might be called Mediocre FM; it plays nothing I really like, but at least nothing that offends me like Radio 1 does) and I was shocked to hear Sally and Kevin (how annoying is Sally?) play something I liked on Music Control. Correction, something I loved. The song was I Don't Want to Be by Gavin DeGraw , who is a young American guy who sings a kind of combination of soul and rock. Even though I love the concept of soul, it tends to bore me, but this is different. What I like best is the subtlety of his lyrics which range from obscure (the title to this entry, from Chariot, the album title track), to the mundane, to the deeply insightful.
Take, for example, the song Follow Through. It starts off being really chilled out about the relationship it's about, in a completely straight-to-the-point way: "So, since you want to be with me, you'll have to follow through with every word you say". The whole song's about him rationalising this relationship, yet his real feelings come through too: "The words you say to me are unlike anything that's ever been said, and what you do to me is unlike anything that's ever been". What is ultimately a cliché becomes renewed in the context of the song, which I think quite accurately represents the way in which lots of us try to deal with relationships.
And if subtle, cliché-busting lyrics don't do it for you, I Don't Want to Be totally rocks. There's a variety of styles: while Follow Through is quite poppy, Just Friends has a distinctly Ben Folds Five feel, and Chariot is definite soul. But don't listen to me, listen to Gav, who was kind enough to put 5 songs on his website for everyone to listen to. And you don't have to wait for Media Player to open, cos he even has his own very neat little player. Listen, you will love him I promise!
May 24, 2005
May 20, 2005
May 14, 2005
…words in the Counting Crows song, "Anna Begins". I normally hate songs where the person is actually named, but this one I like. There's something mystical about the phrase "Anna begins"; why? Does she begin because she has been put in a song and is now known? Because she is having a fresh start? The song goes, "every time she sneezes, I believe it's love": so what, then of when she speaks?
I am fascinated by words, and by names—names are the ultimate words, because they really designate what they represent. The name 'Emma' is not just a name, but an indicator of me, or of some other Emma – the word is performative, because it does not end in being thought or spoken, but it sparks something else in the speaker, the listener, the thinker – a picture, an emotion, a memory, the image of a person, hollowed out and not whole, but nonetheless somehow present.
The Bible is almost obsessively concerned with words and with names. When God created the world, he did so by speaking it into being: "Let there be light". God has many names -Lord, Master, King, Father, Son, Holy Spirit – but his real name is 'I AM'. "I am who I am", he answers Moses when Moses asks the name of the God who is sending him to his people. To me, this says that no word can possibly sum God up or name him; you have to look at him to see who he is.
In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet famously cries "wherefore art thou Romeo?" and exclaims that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. When I was studying the play in Year 9, there ensued much debate about whether a rose would really be as beautiful if it was called a cabbage. Somehow it seems doubtful; words in themselves have a beauty that is able to captivate and transform. I think that to give a woman the name Hester is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy (I wonder why there aren't all that many Hesters around today?)—with an ugly name, surely you would just be a slightly different person. In fact, you would probably be a slightly different person had you been called anything else. There's something about the sound and shape of a name that somehow shapes you. Think about the way we shorten people's names and give them nicknames. Something about that is about wanting to possess the name, somehow to personalise it, to fit it better to our experience of the person. Amy (sorry) might not like being called Shamstick 5000, but there's something touching in the experience of knowing that for some reason someone crafted a name to you. Some of my friends have nicknames in my head that I wouldn't even call them to their face because it would seem too intimate, too much like giving myself away. What I call them is a picture of the way I feel about them.
Some guy in Shakespeare's time that I read about earlier said you should be wary of falling in love with words, for you fall in love with a picture. I think that's the point. Words are enough to render a picture so beautiful, so powerful, so immanent… that the picture is almost tangible. Why do lovers (and maybe not in real life, although probably, when no-one is looking) say the name of the person they love, over and over? Like Orlando in As You Like It repeating Rosalind's name over and over in verse. Names are incantatory, spell-like. We say the name to invoke the person. Say it enough, and it's almost like they're there. I bet lovesick people wouldn't be able to move themselves to tears without the name of the person they love to stir up the emotion. Notice how some people give exes or people who have treated them badly, other puerile names to mask the real one. Or how people refer to someone they like as just "him" or "her" or "you know". To say their name is just too powerful, gives too much away of what we really feel, and it leaves us exposed.
People often comment to me how people are willing to talk about God, but not Jesus. I think that it's because God, or certainly to a pluralistic culture, stands for something abstract, something bigger than human, a divine force. Not someone with a name. "I am what I am". But God is what he sent to be a picture of himself: Jesus. To say that name is to conjure up the very living God; to do that, for some people, is a miracle. For others, it is something that makes them afraid, unsure. Other people turn Jesus' name to an oath, because they know no other way to deal with this huge, beautiful, incantatory, powerful, dangerous name than to try to make it safe by debasing it. Most don't even realise what it is they are doing.
I can give no justice here even to my own thoughts on this matter, let alone to the subjects with which they treat. I simply don't have the felicity of words to deal with a subject so big (and no doubt to some people it doesn't seem big at all, but abstract, or pointless). To try to explain it, here's a poem I wrote some time ago about the power of words. It probably won't mean anything to anyone, but I'll leave it here as my best way of using words to explain what I mean.
Sometimes I forget that I can't make it black.
Not often, but sometimes,
Rapt in words that mean nothing,
I believe that none of them do,
And stop breathing.
All our tiny life is held in a word,
And when words leak to confusion,
Our life drains from us, slowly, thickly.
Tonight I feel that I would breathe cotton wool
Rather than spill another word.
May 11, 2005
It's complicated, it's messy, and it's time consuming… perfect for evading revision! Today, people, we are going to cook…
Italian Meatballs (serves 2, just to be different!)
Some pork or beef mince, I think I used 250g pork, but to be honest, I just made it up
1 Slice bread, crumbed (can be stale, wouldn't recommend mouldy though!)
1 small/medium egg
2 tsps tomato purée
1 apple, grated (or an onion, if you want to be conventional :b)
Italian seasoning/mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
1 can chopped tomatoes
A little sugar
Whisk up the egg, the apple (or onion) and tomato purée together in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, a generous sprinkling of herbs, salt and pepper, and mix together. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan, and empty the can of tomatoes into a fairly large saucepan, adding some water, sugar, and more herbs. Bring the tomatoes to the boil, and keep stirring.
Meanwhile, make the meat mixture into balls and fry for about 5 minutes each until brown and firm. When each meatball is cooked, add to the simmering tomato mixture (you can turn it down when you start adding the meatballs).
Finally, when every meatball is cooked and added to the sauce, cook some spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle and serve. Yum!
May 10, 2005
April 20, 2005
Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view
Not quite as strange as my last weird dream, but odd just for the surprising connections it threw up…
I was living in a big house in my village at home, like a student house, but I didn't know all of the people there, it was a bit like living at CU Houseparty. Carly was definitely there, and Shannah, and my housemate Sarah, who I was sharing a big bedroom with in the dream.
For some reason, Sarah and I got told we had to leave our room and move into some kind of dorm with about 7 other girls (some of the girls coming to the girlie night tonight, I think). I went into my and Sarah's room to move some stuff and found her in an uncompromising position with Matt Mead (that is, Teacher Paul's housemate Dee's brother, who I went to school with).
Afterwards, we went into the village, and I was with Lisa Martin, Sarah again, and another Christian girl, but I can't remember who. Someone started playing this cheesy Christian salsa cd I have, but then it rapidly turned into "Awesome God, Holy God, I worship you in wonder", to which the Christians started singing very loudly and defiantly. By this time, we were in some Sound of Music-style set-up and we got led away by someone, possibly because we were Christians. We kept singing "Awesome God, Holy God" even more loudly and out of tune. Then, as we were being led away, I saw Thorwald, in full policeman's uniform and helmet, looking away from us and not acknowledging our plight… and then I woke up!
April 19, 2005
April 18, 2005
Interested to find wealthy as number 6 on my list as I said I didn't want money, didn't think it was necessary in a relationship and wasn't bothered about a career! So generally quite silly, but fun nonetheless… Think they got my guy profile about right, but find me that Christian, shy, big-hearted, traditional, adventurous guy and, well, you'll get a medal, just like Martyn (oh, and he has to be willing to move to France…)
Your dating personality profile:
You matched the following traits:
Religious – Faith matters to you. It is the foundation that you build your life upon. You trust that God has a plan for you.
Adventurous – Just sitting around the house is not something that appeals to you. You love to be out trying new things and really experiencing life.
Practical – You are a down-to-earth individual who is not impressed with material excess. You care about the stuff of like that really matters.
Your date match profile:
You match with men who have following traits:
Religious – You seek someone who is grounded in faith and who possesses religious values. You believe that a religious person can enhance your life.
Adventurous – You are looking for someone who is willing to try new things and experience life to its fullest. You need a companion who encourages you to take risks and do exciting things.
Shy – You are put off by people who are open books. You are drawn to someone who is a bit more mysterious. You want to draw him out of his shell and get to know what he is all about.
Your Top Ten Traits, Ranked
Your Top Ten Match Traits, Ranked