WARNING: This review probably contains some (but not many) spoilers, so you may not want to read this if you haven’t read Perdido Street Station yet....moreWARNING: This review probably contains some (but not many) spoilers, so you may not want to read this if you haven’t read Perdido Street Station yet. This review also contains plenty of vulgarity. Please don't read this if you do not want to see the "f" and other words. Thanks.
Me reading my review: I decided to read this on SoundCloud, since BirdBrian has turned me into a recorded voice madman. You can listen right here if you'd like.
I fucking hate moths.
Seriously. I hate them. They freak me out. You know how Indiana Jones hates snakes? That's how I hate moths. I hate them so much that the disdain and fear extends to butterflies. I actually made a little girl cry when I was surprised by a butterfly and crushed it between the sole of my shoe and concrete, although I've never been sure if she cried because I squished the moth or because I let loose with the sanguine battle-cry: "DIE FUCKER!"
Moths and butterflies are frightening, fucking horrible, unholy, unnatural, freaks of fucking nature.
I sense you wondering why I feel this way. Well ... I'll tell you.
When I was sixteen years old, I walked out of my bedroom on a Friday night and headed for what I thought was a D&D marathon. Somewhere upstairs my Dad heard my bedroom door closing and yelled down, "Turn off the light." Even back then he was a stickler for energy conservation (but that had everything to do with being a cheap bastard and nothing to do with the environment). I heard him, but I ignored him. My friend Pat was honking for me outside, I had a pack full of D&D gear, and I was in a hurry. I was up the stairs, in my shoes and out the door before anyone could say anything more.
Now I had this fucking bizarre bedroom window. You see, I was and am the lightest sleeper the world has ever seen (even now I have double blacked windows, wear a black eye mask and 33 decibels ear plugs, and I still wake up at even the slightest shift in the air), and to try and buy me some more sleep without hurting the aesthetic of our home (a far more important concern for my Mom than combating my insomnia), my Dad installed a blind whose efficacy required the removal of my window screen. That meant that when my window was open in the summer, which it was the night I was out D&Ding, my room was open to all creatures great and small -- mostly small.
So somewhere between the time I left and the time I came home, my Dad came downstairs to make sure I'd turned off my light. He opened my door, reached for the light switch, turned off the lights, closed the door and went off to bed himself, but not before the light had attracted some fuzzy, beige, fluttering, dusty fucking creatures.
That night we didn't play D&D.
Nope ... that night we ate some mushrooms. My first time on hallucinogens. And what did I do? I invited the creatures of the night into my room. At around 4 a.m., I found myself back at home on the downturn of my trip. I needed to get to my room, put on some chill-out music and a soft light, and just let my cozy room ease me back to reality. I opened my door, closed it, flipped on the light switch and was fucking bombarded by HUNDREDS of moths.
I fucking lost it. I grabbed my squash racket and started killing while I screamed and swore and trashed my room.
There were probably only about a dozen moths in my room, but those shrooms did their job, and I spent the rest of that long morning obsessing about fluttering wings and the claustrophobic feeling of moth dust and guts settling on my skin, in much the same way that dreamshit settles on the minds of sleeping New Crobuzoners.
I am sure that you’ve figured out why I related this story now.
When I first read Perdido Street Station, I was enjoying Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin’s search for crisis energy well enough. The beauty of China Miéville’s prose and the complexity of New Crobuzon made Isaac’s rather pedestrian quest tale, whose goal was providing Yagharek -- the exiled, wingless Garuda -- a way to fly again, a compelling read. Then came the blindside of the Slake Moths, and my enjoyment was transformed into absolute horror, keep-the-lights-on-late-at-night-horror, stomp-all-fluttering-insects-into-the-pavement-horror, fucking-shit-my-pants-at-night-from-nightmares-horror. Miéville dumped the quest and changed the plot and raised the stakes, shifting the tale unexpectedly and fundamentally, and that coupled with the horror of the Slake Moths made me a passionate believer in his writing.
For me, the Slake Moths are the most terrifying creation in literature. Now I know that much of that is the psychology of my good trip gone bad, but when one considers all of my inadvertent personal subtext -- that Mieville’s Slake Moths feed on fear, and induce fear through their droppings, that their shit is sold as an hallucinogenic drug, that they suck the minds of their victims dry with an interdimensional tongue -- well, I hope my passion for the Slake Moths will be forgiven.
But then, I know that my love for Perdido Street Station goes far beyond my drug-induced psychosis. China Miéville’s writing bursts with sensuality, intelligence, politics, social commentary, fierce creativity and a thirst for life that is unparalleled. And those are just some of the reasons his fans love him.
For me, however, my loathing of the order lepidoptra means that Perdido Street Station must and will remain my favourite Miéville, and Slake Moths will continue to excite and haunt the recesses of my mind until I die.(less)
This review was written in the late nineties (just for myself), and it was buried in amongst my things until today, when I uncovered the journal it wa...moreThis review was written in the late nineties (just for myself), and it was buried in amongst my things until today, when I uncovered the journal it was written in. I have transcribed it verbatim from all those years ago (although square brackets indicate some additional information for the sake of readability). It is one of my lost reviews.
I am glad for the opportunity A Fine Balance gave me to spend time with such wonderful characters: Dina Dalal, the matriarch who opens her home; Ishvar & Omprakash, who defy caste and pay a terrible price; Maneck, whose gifts destroy him with guilt; the supporting cast of Beggarmaster, Shankar, Monkey-man, Rajaram and the proofreader, all were characters (and, had they lived, people) I am happy to have known.
I love the fact that A Fine Balance ends with the death of Maneck. The one with hope for the future throws it all in front of a train, while those without hope just move on. Om, Ishvar, and Dina keep living, keep doing what they must, yet we know they are not happy. Had they escaped their pride and helped Maneck escape his guilt, all of them would have been saved. Instead, no one could overcome the hurt, and in the end, everyone lost.(less)
Lolita isn't about murder. Lolita isn't about obsession. Lolita isn't about madness. Lolita isn't even about pedophilia or abuse.
Sure those elements...moreLolita isn't about murder. Lolita isn't about obsession. Lolita isn't about madness. Lolita isn't even about pedophilia or abuse.
Sure those elements are there, but there's skin on the outside of my body, and I can tell you that my largest organ is not what I am about. The same is true for Lolita.
Lolita is a game. It's a chess match by a Russian master. It's an intellectual exercise by a genius. It's an experiment in reader manipulation that's hypothesis is born out. It's references upon references upon references upon references, and it requires multiple PhDs to fully understand (which I know I don't, but I keep trying).
It is one of the greatest novels in the English language and everyone should read it, but if you let yourself be fooled by any of those things that Lolita is not about, Nabokov will have beaten you without a fight, and you won't be doing the master or his book any justice.(less)
Goblet of Fire's sprawling messiness is fascinating to me. It seems to mark the moment when J.K. Rowling gained full power over her creation. She wasn...moreGoblet of Fire's sprawling messiness is fascinating to me. It seems to mark the moment when J.K. Rowling gained full power over her creation. She wasn't a struggling, driven, single mom anymore -- she was J.K. ROWLING! She was a literary superstar, and suddenly she could do anything she wanted without hindrance.
The result is a giant mess. She's got a Quidditch World Cup happening; she's got the crazy Triwizard Tournament, and all its machinations; she's got Harry's hormones starting to rage; she's got a jumble of adult politics and the old and new wars against Voldemort competing with Harry for time; she's got the endless Rita Skeeter vs. Hermione subplot; then she's got the Hermione - Dobby - Winky - SPEW debate; she's got the first appearance of the Pensieve, and its onslaught of explication; she's got not-Mad Eye Moody to introduce, the first serious appearance of Voldemort, another ghostly visitation, Padfoot hanging around in caves, Fred & George scheming their brains out, and Dumbledore being his usual forthcoming self; she's got Tournament challenges and school to deliver; she's got humiliating dances for us to attend; she's got the death of Cedric Diggory; and she's got all her usual suspects -- Snape, McGonagall, Neville, Hagrid, the Malfoys, etc., etc.. It's a lot of ground to cover. I think it is too much, and I am sure that if she hadn't been an institution, she'd have been forced to cut and trim.
But I am damn glad she wasn't forced to cut and trim. Sure Goblet of Fire could have been tighter. Sure it could have been a slicker story, more compelling, faster in the telling. But fuck all that. Life is messy. Shit is always going on around you. Just look around tomorrow and you'll see it happening. And all of those diversions, all of that messiness, is a reflection of the way life is.
More importantly, though, I just love the fact that an author -- ANY AUTHOR -- reached that stage with her writing, reached the point where it was so beloved she could tell the story her way without any interference. Most authors only get to do that if they stay in the ghettoes of self-publishing, but Rowling moved into the gated suburbs and painted her house all the colours of the rainbow, and she was so fucking rich and powerful that the community council just let her do her thing. That is authorial victory, and that makes Goblet of Fire a personal fave.
Besides, it's kinda fun despite its flaws. And it is the first time I really fell for Hermione. She's one of the great supporting characters in all of literature. Seriously. She's up there with Dr. Watson (but better).(less)
The following checklist will tell you all you need to know about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's suitability for you. The more checkmarks you have, the more you need to tackle this wonder of modern literature.
1. Do you have Daddy issues? ✓ or ✘ 2. Has a creepy middle aged man been sleeping with you for years, unbeknownst to you? ✓ or ✘ 3. Does the full moon make you anxious? ✓ or ✘ 4. Have you ever gorged on chocolate to combat depression? ✓ or ✘ 5. Do you find there just isn't enough time in the day? ✓ or ✘ 6. Are you misunderstood? ✓ or ✘ 7. Do you have an overactive sense of justice that gets you into trouble? ✓ or ✘ 8. Do you break rules whenever you can? ✓ or ✘ 9. Do you scoff at personal danger, especially when it gets in the way of your fun? ✓ or ✘ 10. Are you a dog lover, or would you like to be one? ✓ or ✘
1-2: You'd probably rather be reading Finnegan's Wake, The Book of Mormon or Sally Dick and Jane 3-5: Skip it and watch the movie. 6-8: Time to dust off that copy and give it a whirl. 9-10: Put your existential crisis aside. Shave your moustache. Take a day off work, and read this book. It won't change your life, but it'll be like reading about your dream self.
...Master Frodo stood in the centre of the crimson carpet and gazed around with fascinated eyes. Gollum watched him and la...moreThe Great Gollum
...Master Frodo stood in the centre of the crimson carpet and gazed around with fascinated eyes. Gollum watched him and laughed, his mad, excited laugh; a tiny gust of dead skin rose from his emaciated chest into the air.
“The rumor is,” whispered Faramir, “that that’s Sauron on the Palantir.”
We were silent. The voice in the hall rose high with annoyance: “Very well, then, I won’t do your bidding at all. . . . I’m under no obligations to you at all . . . and as for your bothering me about it at lunch time, I won’t stand that at all!”
“Holdings down the stone,” said Gollum cryptically.
“No, he’s not,” I assured him. “It’s bona-fide. We happen to know about it.”
Gandalf flung open the door, blocked out its space for a moment with his thick body, and hurried into the room.
“Frodo!” He put out his broad, flat hand with well-concealed excitement. “I’m glad to see you, my friend. . . .Samwise. . . .”
“Makes us full of pain, he does,” cried Gollum.
As Gandalf left the room again Gollum got up and went over to Master Frodo and pulled his hand down, kissing him on the Ring.
“You knows I love you,” he babbled.
“You forget there’s a lord present,” said Faramir.
Gollum looked around suspiciously.
“You kiss the fat one too.”
“What a low, vulgar beast!”
“I don’t care!” cried Gollum, and began to clog on the stone mantle. Then he remembered the rope and couched guiltily on the stones just as a tall warrior led Meriadoc into the room.
“Bles-sed pre-cious,” Gollum crooned, holding out his arms to Master Frodo. “Come to your own one that loves you.”
Meriadoc, relinquished by the long haired Warrior, rushed across the room and kicked Gollum savagely to the ground.
“The bles-sed pre-cious! Dids I do something to deserve these nasty hobbitses? Stand back. Let me be. Let poor Smeagol be.”
Mr. Frodo and I in turn leaned down and took Gollum's small, reluctant hand. Afterward we kept looking at Meriadoc with surprise. I don’t think we had ever really believed him so cruel before...."
*freely adapted from Chapter VII of Fitzgerald's book, with a surprising minimum of alterations(less)
I freely admit that my disdain for The Da Vinci Code is my own personal backlash over its popularity.
Dan Brown isn't a terrible writer, despite facin...moreI freely admit that my disdain for The Da Vinci Code is my own personal backlash over its popularity.
Dan Brown isn't a terrible writer, despite facing that charge from many experienced readers. He has a likable style, and he drives the pace of the book relentlessly, which is exactly what one would want from a pulpy adventure that one can take to the beach.
Likewise, the charge that The Da Vinci Code is somehow a failure because it is in any way inaccurate or unbelievable is unfair. The story is fiction, after all, and one should expect to have his/her credulity stretched, especially when reading pulp that is written with the screen in mind (as The Da Vinci Code surely was).
I even enjoyed the Sunday afternoon it took me to read The Da Vinci Code. It was an absolute waste of time and exactly what I wanted to be doing, sitting on a comfy sofa, drinking tea and reading about self-flagellating albino monks (and other fun things).
I've given many books that are just as good as The Da Vinci Code and even some that are worse three stars, and I meant every star. The truth is that on its own merits, I'd have given The Da Vinci Code a similar rating if not for a repeated experience that led to my backlash.
At the beginning of every semester, in a bid to get to know my students better, I play a memory game wherein the students provide me with their favourite things (books, food, music) and some personal details (people they hate, people they love, things they are proud of), then I connect something about them, something that stands out for me, with their name. It is a good start in getting to know the students, but it has also led to my hatred for Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.
A good half of the students that enter my courses declare that they don't have favourite books, and/or they've only ever read three books in their lives -- two involuntary (both assigned by an English teacher, and always seeming to include To Kill a Mockingbird) and one voluntary (The Da Vinci Code). What pisses me off most is that even if these people liked The Da Vinci Code, Brown's novel didn't spur them on to read more. They read the The Da Vinci Code, enjoyed it or didn't, then went back to their reading apathy.
Moreover, if I could convince people to read one book voluntarily, one book for their pleasure, it would not be ANY cheesy, pulpy, low grade adventure story. It's like pouring a glass of $9 dollar wine for a person who is trying wine for the first time. They may enjoy the glass, but they're not going to choose wine as their alcohol of choice based on Fortant de France.
And for that reason, I hate The Da Vinci Code. It is the cheap wine that keeps people away from the joy of good wine, and while I admit that it is the fault of popular culture rather than Dan Brown, each reader I find who stops at The Da Vinci Code makes me hate the book a little bit more.(less)
The reasons are myriad: my mother hated Austen (a disd...moreFor a lover of books, I came to Pride and Prejudice (P&P from now on) very, very, very late.
The reasons are myriad: my mother hated Austen (a disdain she took to the grave without ever explaining), so she never recommended her to me; I was a boy in the '70s and a teen in the '80s and even though I loved Barbra Streisand, ABBA, Wham!, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran (and...yes...I still do) I wasn't about to let people know that, and since I carried whatever book I was reading with me wherever I went, I wasn't about to let myself get caught in possession of a literary chick flick; I played tons of D&D and there's no room for P&P when you're busy writing new spells and fragging Orcs with exploding eggs; and when I began studying literature in earnest, in my undergrad years, I was more taken with the Lost Generation than any other generation, so I spent most of my time steeped in the early-Twentieth Century.
I finally bumped into Ms. Austen in grad school. I took a course that covered all her novels, but even there I skipped over P&P. The reading list was her entire body of work, and the A&E P&P miniseries, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle -- which remains an excellent adaptation of P&P -- was big at the time; it saved me from having to read P&P along with S and S and E and P and NA and MP. I took part in the P&P discussions, albeit sparingly, and wrote my papers on E and P, eschewing P&P for the books I knew well.
But P&P wasn't about to let me off that easily. You see...my wife was a former stage manager turned accountant who wanted to get back into theatre, and one of the profs at school was putting on Love's Labour's Lost. There was a bit of an emergency, and she put out a call to the entire grad community for a stage manager, with any level of skill, to save the production. Enter my wife (who is an amazing stage manager). I gave her the heads up; she became the s.m.; two weeks later I found myself rushing to learn the lines and blocking for Nathaniel to save the show from a second emergency, and suddenly I was an actor.
I was actually pretty darn good (I have only recently bowed out of the craft), and I found myself cast as Mr. Darcy early the following year. Now I had to read P&P.
So I did. And I read Bridget Jones's Diary. And I watched every version of P&P I could get my hands on. And I grew out my mutton chops. And I learned how to dance. And I improved my posture. And I had the most miserable time I have ever had on stage anywhere. My Elizabeth and I grew to loathe one another (I have never worked with a more selfish actress). Our director cast herself in a fairly important role and lost track of actually directing, so the performances were terribly imbalanced. The play adaptation we were working from was butchered beyond recognition, which horrified the writer in me as the playwright was never consulted. And the rehearsals were utterly excruciating.
But that acting gig gave me some great things too. It gave me one of my finest moments on stage (I fell off the thrust in the middle of my first dance with Elizabeth, climbed back on stage and rejoined the dance, never missing a line or breaking character. Whew!) It gave me my first leading role and the confidence that comes along with that. It made me a better playwright (showing me what was actually doable); it made me a better director (teaching me what not to do when in charge of a show); it gave me some everlasting friendships; and, despite all the impediments thrown up by the play, it made me love P&P.
These days I teach P&P every semester or two, and it gets better every time I read it. My twins, now 6, recently watched the mini series for the first time, and they, too, have fallen in love with Darcy and Elizabeth. P&P looks to continue its popularity well beyond my lifetime, and there are few books that deserve such sustained readership as P&P.
Finished reading it to the kids tonight. I'll have to write about it tomorrow.
later ... It's been almost two decades since I last read The Hobbit,and...moreFinished reading it to the kids tonight. I'll have to write about it tomorrow.
later ... It's been almost two decades since I last read The Hobbit,and the intervening years have not been kind to our relationship. I've reread The Lord of the Rings in that time, and been both dazzled and repulsed by Peter Jackson's screen interpretation of them. I revised my intellectual response to Tolkien, if not my feelings, because of the racism inherent in the Trilogy, then I revised it again because of the sexism.
But the Hobbit comes out in the theatres this year, and my kids are HUGE fans of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman -- Sherlock and Watson on the BBC's Holmes update -- and since they just happen to be playing Smaug and Bilbo Baggins, respectively, I thought it was about time I revisited Middle Earth with my kids, setting aside my Tolkien grievances to awake some non-Potter magic in their hearts.
It was the single best reading aloud experience I've ever had, and I've read many, many books with Të and Loš in their seven years. They loved it like nothing else I've read. Miloš actually wept when Thorin died (which took me completely by surprise). Brontë adored Fili & Kili, and has drawn some spectacular pictures of Smaug. Even Scoutie toddled her way into the readings once in a while, wanting to be part of the energy and excitement.
Reading the Hobbit aloud was nothing like what I had expected. I expected the read to be a slog. I was thinking of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings prose, that heavily descriptive, pseudo-archaic language that delivers so much weight to the War of the Rings, and I thought it would be impossible to keep my kids interested (though I had to try). Boy, was I wrong.
I remembered that Bilbo was the slightly-veiled narrator, but I assumed he would sound like Tolkien. I always remembered it that way, but it wasn't and he didn't. The narrative and the narration didn't just sound like Bilbo Baggins, it was Bilbo Baggins, with Bilbo often intruding quite literally on the telling (hiding his identity, of course, as any good ring bearer would). It was a conversation between Bilbo and my kids, and I was able to become Bilbo and tell the tale as our little Hobbit rather than as a dad reading to his kids in the winter of their seventh year.
Something marvellous occurred to me during my reading, something I'd missed each time I'd read the book in the past -- and it's the true genius of Tolkien's writing. I have always marvelled at his world building, his linguistic gymnastics, his deep, believable, overwhelming mythologies (even when other issues have frustrated me). I have been blown away by the fierce creativity of Tolkien's mind. But I suddenly realized what a subtle writer he truly was. The Hobbit, you see, is a lie. It is a white lie, perhaps -- an hyperbolous exaggeration by a bit player turning himself into the star -- but it is a lie from beginning to end, and Tolkien wants us to find the lie (and to do that we must be well versed in the Lord of the Rings -- so J.R.R. was busy forcing some deep intertexuality, amongst other brilliant things) and love Mr. Baggins all the more for the lie.
In Lord of the Rings we see an extended and objective vision of four hobbits, each heroic in their own way, each impressive, each foolish and/or weak, each capable of making decisions and driving events, but they are merely part of a much larger whole. They are members of a party of beings who can and do the same things as they. Aragorn is a king in the making; Gandalf the White, née Grey, is the catalyst of action; Boromir is noble and tortured and tragically heroic; Legolas and Gimli and Eomer and Eowyn and Treebeard and Gollum and Faramir and others all have roles to play, all are capable, all are important. But in the Hobbit -- with the exception of Gandalf once in a while -- Bilbo Baggins, or so he tells us, is the only one capable of anything great, and everyone else's great moments, if they have them, depend on him.
He is like no other Hobbit who ever lived. He's also completely full of shit, which makes me love him even more. There's probably a sliver of truth in everything our furry footed unreliable narrator tells us, but whatever that sliver is really doesn't matter because The Hobbit isn't about the truth, it's about the weaving of a tale, and this is the one time that J.R.R. Tolkien achieves that weaving perfectly. The Hobbit is mesmerizing for those who read it and those who have it read to them.
I wonder what the movie will do with Bilbo's attercoppy web of deceit. Will Jackson play it straight, and retell the tale in the same way he told Lord of the Rings (I can't imagine a bigger mistake)? Will it be dour and serious, and will Bilbo's lies be taken as truth? Will the movie be the book, lies and all? Will Jackson somehow tip us off to Bilbo's bullshit? Or will he dig deep into the tale and tell us the Hobbit that really was but never made it onto the page? Will all the events be there, but will the Dwarves be more capable? Will Thorin be more impressive? Will Bard and Beorn and Gandalf be more than deus ex machinas? Will Smaug be more frightening, and will his demise be more his own responsibility and less Bilbo's? Whatever the case, I think Jackson will have a much harder time delivering a satisfying Hobbit, though I bet it will be more loved than his first three.
It doesn't matter what the movie(s) do(es), though. What matters is that for those who take the time to read this with their loved ones, who read to their children or
for those who really embrace the telling, The Hobbit will always remain one of the most rewarding literary experiences you can have.
I love this book more now that I ever have before. I hope, with fingers crossed, that a year or two from now, Miloš or Brontë or Scoutie will bring me our tattered old copy of the Hobbit and ask me to read it again. Or, maybe someday, when I am old and dying, one of them will come by the home I am wasting away in and read it to me. That is about the most beautiful way to die I can imagine. And it will be comfortable and cozy in a way that Bilbo would approve.
*stolen with love and respect from Ceridwen's fantastic review. Go see it for yourself.(less)
Can someone tell me where the anarchy lies in this book?
All I can remember about discussing this book in high school is that it was supposed to be abo...moreCan someone tell me where the anarchy lies in this book?
All I can remember about discussing this book in high school is that it was supposed to be about anarchy, about how we descend into madness and "chaos" without law and order to hold our childlike hands. Every time I've overheard a conversation about LOTFs since, it has been the same thing: somewhere in the discussion someone mentions anarchy, as though that one word can sum up everything Golding was doing. Even the afterword by E.L. Epstien calls "Jack ... the leader of the forces of anarchy on the island," and still I wonder "Where is the anarchy?"
I don't see it anywhere. Anarchy reigned on the island for all of ... what? Eight pages in my edition. Then Ralph pulls up the conch and anarchy is over. The conch comes, the meeting is called, and society rears its ugly head, and that felt to me like the point of Golding's book -- the ineluctable need to "civilize" ourselves and what that civilizing drive really looks like.
It's a fucking ugly drive.
Many see Ralph as the best of the kids, the natural leader who is looking out for the good of the many. I don't see it. I see a selfish little shit, whose only desire is to leave the island (a desire that I think has little value or necessity) and return to civilization, and while stuck on the island to build himself a shelter so that he can play "society" as comfortably as possible. He tells everyone and us that they need shelter, but the actual need for shelter never appears beyond Ralph's constant bitching. He becomes the leader of the democratic government, leaves too much power to Jack and the hunters so that he can avoid early conflict, then spends his entire time telling everyone what is important, what they should care about, and he can't stand it when they have different priorities. Everyone was eating, breathing and drinking, Ralph (apart from those your need for a fire burned to death the first day). They didn't need you or your rule as "chief."
Then there's Piggy. Whiny, bright ideas Piggy, always pissing and moaning about right and wrong. Always needing others to police those who "wrong him" always wanting to make more rules, always opining about the need for them all to be more civilized. Always backing Ralph to exert his power, to use the conch to gain control, to talk and impose his will on the littluns and the hunters. He's in fear for himself, and he's more than willing to have other impose their will on still others to make him feel safe. But he takes no personal responsibility. He talks and talks and lectures and lectures but never does.
Then there is Jack. I don't think he's really any worse than Ralph, nor do I think he is better. He has other priorites that are just as fucking selfish. He wants meat. He believes that more food, better food, should be the priority -- and he's sure that his position as the strongest, the best provider, should give him a right to power. He doesn't give a shit about the fire and rescue. Then he -- like Ralph in practice and Piggy in support -- places his own idea of society on the group, and like Ralph he's responsible for some deaths. Ralph gets away with his deaths in the minds of readers because they were a foolish "mistake," and the killing of Simon is too personal and bloody to be forgiven, so Jack is seen as the force for evil on the island. Yet the catalyst for the killing of Simon was genuine (albeit misplaced) fear and superstition of "the Beast" they all (not just Jack) talked themselves into. Ultimately he rejects Ralph's power, Ralph's vision for their society, and he sets up his own, with his own rules and regulations and controls and defenses.
And now I go back again to the question I can't stop thinking about: Where is the anarchy? I don't see any anarchy here (unless it is in the nameless, faceless, uncared for littluns that populate Ralph's benevolent dictatorship. It's important to note, since I am talking about them, that Jack makes his littluns an active part of his tribe, while Ralph barely notices their existence. Nice leadership, Ralph). I see imposition of social constructs, I see a drive to law and order, I see a desire to remake the social structures from whence they came. I see imposition of control at every turn, and it's a control that instantly takes on the trappings of a "system" with rules and rituals and imposed consequences.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not espousing anarchy as a real world possibility (it is an ideal that fascinates me, but I know that it is a practical impossibility); I am not saying it would have made for better living conditions on the island (although I highly doubt it would have made them worse); but I am saying that I never saw anything approaching anarchy in Golding's writing, unless it was as the unspoken, hinted at ideal of a world beyond "civilizing" influences.
What I did see was Golding telling us that all our instincts to govern and control and civilize have dire, ugly and pitiable consequences, no matter where we sit politically or philosophically. I saw it in Ralph and Piggy and Jack, and it was driven home when the naval officer -- the "saviour" of the boys on the island -- saved them from their own little wars to return to a "grown-up" society at war, playing the same ugly games on a grander, uglier scale. I saw a mirror, and I didn't like what Golding made me see. (less)