Thursday, 19 April 2007

Concerning Others, Selves and Stories

I recently had cause, although certainly not for the first time, to wonder again about the role of the familiar in the Perilous Realm. Granted, what constitutes the 'familiar' is different to every individual, and in a postmodern world, the 'familiar' is also fraught with ambiguities and politics when it comes to those still forced to negotiate the post-colonial identity. Such as us, or to use Queen Lestat's terms, Blaaaahnians. We, it seems, are in a continual state of conflict with our 'Selves', our projected selves, our given selves, our spontaneous selves. And in that, when it comes to fantasy, there is curiously something both soothing and defeating in the pages of the classics, to cite a notable example, The Lord of the Rings.

Of course we may argue, we know that the values embodied by the narrative are not alien to us, not alien to the values which we grew up with, in the stories we were told by our teachers or our parents or our books. Even if they might have come to contraries when it comes to the actual practice of some of our illustrious elders. For the themes are the same, war against tyranny, the unexpected heroics of the meek, the lights of faith and kindness in the darkest of hours. The ringing of elvish laughter, which is to say laughter which was sad and thus most true in its joy, wise laughter, silver with moonlit nights of yearning for a better world. But then I have to remind myself that the very act of arguing brings into conflict those stories, whether they in nature, are in fact the same. Why do we need to argue, I need ask, why is the familiar always strange, always in conflict with the beautiful?

Perhaps we lack the metaphors which would have brought our own beauty to the familiar, to the strange. Perhaps we lost the sense of the beautiful in our Selves, oh, far too long ago now for the reaches of the memory or the heart.

Friday, 06 April 2007

In Which the Formidable Lobelia, Herself, figures

Identity is a magical, arcane business, fraught with illusion and prone to treachery. I know this when I write here, know that a projection of myself gets flung to the mystic highways of knowledge dissemination, so that that part of me will never be in my control again, will morph and mutate into a monster that might devour a Selfness I might fail to rescue should it be not so carefully alienated from itself. Forgive me while my head spins and I channel Derrida.

I think this in particular in connection with one Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, whose code-name many will know is derived from an exceptionally unpleasant character in the otherwise idyllic Shire in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and whose icy tyranny wields its poisonous tentacles in my identity with rather callous explicitness. I think this when I meet my esteemed Teacher, the formidably unpleasant Lobelia herself. I think this when I confront the theatrical elegance and pungent dislike which inspires the terror I feel whenever in her presence, and ironically, but perhaps with poetic justice, informs my rather conscious sense of Self-construction.

For we all construct our Selves, and to an extent, we all leave parts of ourselves lying around for others to pick up and twist and display. With particular reference to those who write blogs, I have to think our time allows for a dissemination of Self that is not even hardly within our control. Too many of the inventions used for social projection - cell phones, T.Vs, blogs - allow for a projection of evident self that exists, separate and concrete, indefinately, outside ourselves.

Recently my chosen name has risen behind me with some of the wily motives described above. Lobelia's Student, while projecting some of the predominant tensions in my life into the Perilous Realm, could hardly have done better than getting shortened, rather well-meaningly, into Lobelia. Now I found my tensions merging, so that Lobelia's student, a self-perceived victim of Lobelia's tyranny, becomes Lobelia, and the Student being both victim and student, must be the tyrant in some form or other.

I wonder if Lobelia herself, should she read this, would mind much the notion of existing in me. But I can't guess, looking at this mergence the wrong way up. From the bottom, I have to say I am only Lobelia's unfortunate student, NEVER Lobelia herself.