The State of Literature

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We live in a world dominated not by literature but by pop culture.

This can be  through music, trends, fashion or basically anything that has a social value. A certain contingent can thrust an entity into the spotlight and create domination (e.g. Justin Beiber, One Direction, Gangnam Style or Twilight), not always to the delight of others. This brings me to literature, perhaps the most important of all mediums in human construction. Younger generations take a while to grasp the strength of books, but once they do the content shapes their lives and builds who they are, for all stories are simply a human in conflict. This teaches us about ourselves, with more influence than any teacher or parent can project. So, in the current age, what are the trends of this necessary tool?

books

Unfortunately, it is impossible to suggest that it has improved. Literature has gone from Orwell (1984, Animal farm) to E.L James (Fifty shades of grey), from Nabokov (Lolita) to Meyer (Twilight). Basically, from storytelling and language to poorly written sex and lust. How can we expect an improvement in society if our growth as people is reliant on this transformation into pop culture?

I could juxtapose Orwell and James, but the analysis would be complex due to them being from different eras with alternative inspirations. Instead, I place a few extracts from ‘Fifty shades of grey’ above my own attempt at a short, descriptive piece,that hopefully illuminates part of the human condition.

Fifty shades of grey by E.L James:

“Suck me baby.”His thumb presses on my tongue, and my mouth closes around him, sucking wildly. Holy F***. This is wrong, but holy hell it’s erotic.

“I thought it was chocolate hot fudge brownie sex that we had, with a cherry on top. But hey, what do I know?”

“I found some baby oil. Let me rub it on your behind.” “Christian squirts baby oil onto his hand and then rubs my behind with careful tenderness — from makeup remover to soothing balm for a spanked ass, who would have thought it was such a versatile liquid.”

“I don’t remember reading about nipple clamps in the Bible.”

Here is a piece I call ‘The girl with hair aflame’. I try to convey the essence of desire in a more literary format. You, the reader, is the judge.

The rapidly flashing lights bounce off her scorching red hair, a crackling flame burning brightly for all to see, to be entranced by, warmth that reaches within.

He dances behind her in an environment of deafening tune, of people drugged, of gang bangers and men of prey, but it doesn’t matter: for she is all that protrudes, an illumination through the sea of flailing bodies, epileptic.

Her energy and enthusiasm is unmatched, thrashing seamlessly to all that reaches her thrice pierced ears. She is in a different world to surroundings, yet her bronzed tone and loose top attract every eye in the club, a flare that cannot be doused, a beacon to bring the ships to shore.

Despite attention from confident men she turns, staring at him with a hazel gaze, luminous coals, a smile then rising through puffy lips to reveal teeth the colour of purest snow. In that facial expression he enters her personal world, and all periphery vanishes through the sole form of the dancing flame.

Bumps and words from other dancers are invisible, silent, for he is no longer here but there.

She finishes her drink with eyes for him, seductively sucking the vodka off a piece of ice without the realisation of appearing so radiant.

She turns away but moves backward slowly, embers flickering before him, displaying a hint of interest towards an average identity, and all he remembers is a face that shone through darkness and strobe effects that wouldn’t allow a proper look, like a dream that haunts the mind.

He wants to reach out and hold her by swaying hips, to swing the fire back around and be face-to-face with the roaring red curls that framed a portrait of danger and remarkable beauty.

She spins as though connected to his thoughts, a sign that she has burrowed into his mind and discovered his lust, his desire to be a part of the sparkling flame. Their eyes connect briefly, before both turn away simultaneously, afraid the lock would devour everything within the vicinity, fuel to the bright chaos, heat unleashed.

But he knows nothing can happen, not here, not now, not ever. For this flame was too hot for him to touch, others understood, including the blaze herself, yet he would never forget the two looks he’d earned.

The second stare may have lasted only a moment, but with the memory etched in his mind he felt as though he would be part of that unstoppable flame forever.

END

In this short tale I try to capture temptation through the analogy of fire, rather than dwell on breast, arse and the use of swearing. Orwell’s totalitarian environments were constructed from his experiences of war, as our experiences create ideal reading through added imagination. James uses ‘Twilight’ as a reason behind her story, yet I shudder to think of the true inspiration.

As a studying journalist and passionate reader/writer, I will be creating reviews, articles and recommendations to fellow students to raise awareness for certain subjects.

7 Comments

  1. Roto Tom

    29/01/2013 at 6:11 pm

    i don’t think this is the right space for a critique, yet i think it is required.
    firstly; you’re evidently complaining about the ideology behind modern literature, but then you use exactly the same kind of drab, dime-a-dozen language that is used in that literature you so detest. notice the subtle constructions employed by Nabokov, or the presbyterian exuberance espoused by Herman Melville: these are great examples of literature. the problem is not simply ideological, but with the crass and clichéd language employed in modern fiction.
    secondly; this is not really a space for you to submit your own creative writing. a juxtaposition of Orwell and James would have been interesting, but it would not require a complex analysis. It would be evident as soon as they were placed next to each other that Orwell is far superior.
    thirdly; your writing is dull and melodramatic, your characters bland and brainless and the setting vacuous and inane.

    • Raquel

      30/01/2013 at 10:16 pm

      In response to what you have said I think you are judging Chris’ piece very biased. This isn’t exactly critiquing modern literature to futuristic and modern day literature, he is simply implying that the form of writing has hugely shifted and that readers are into pop culture rather than well shaped stories that give some sense and meaning. Obviously I have never read Fifty Shades of Grey because I don’t need a book to present me with sexual desire and I think that anyone that does read it has self esteem issues and if not that they should consult a physician. Are you saying that Orwell and Nabokov should not be compared to Meyer and James? I think this has actually given me a reason to actually think twice about today’s generation of readers. Why do they actually write books so extremely written? Why do we have to base sexual content and erotic desires through writing? What kind of example will that give the next generation to come? I find that appalling and quite frankly disgusting.
      This is a place for people to write about something that relates to students or something that can be discussed or written about, I don’t see anything wrong with what Chris has written and ideally if you didn’t like it then maybe you should have just carried on and went to the next article or just closed the tab.
      The article had simplistic meaning and relevance to today’s society and student body I think that’s exactly what this site asks for. It asks for the opinions of others, that’s how all articles make and break it these days!

  2. Chris Sutton

    29/01/2013 at 10:34 pm

    Excuse me? I agree it is not the right place for a critique of such nature. First of all, start your post with a capital letter. This is a space to submit whatever students would like to draw attention to, and if it passes the editor then it qualifies. Copying a slab of Orwell is too easy; I’m attempting something different. You are calling my characters brainless? Wow, what a keyboard warrior – have you read 50 Shades? I gave myself 400 words, that book has over 100,000. You obviously don’t understand the club setting or have respect for this website. Do you feel better now? Focus on your writing – to be this disrespectful means you are struggling with your own career.

    • Roto Tom

      31/01/2013 at 12:47 pm

      hahaha
      it’s a stylistic thing, i choose not to capitalise unless using proper nouns (notice the consistency?) anywhichway, compare and contrast these sentences:

      “Copying a slab of Orwell is too easy; I’m attempting something different.”
      “I could juxtapose Orwell and James, but the analysis would be complex…”

      “You obviously don’t understand the club setting or have respect for this website.” actually… i wanted to post on here because your “analyses” lower the standard dramatically. there are some really excellent posts about psychology which i found highly entertaining.

      “Focus on your writing – to be this disrespectful means you are struggling with your own career.”
      this could possibly be true, however i am comforted by the notion that i may actually be capable of writing something good.

      and a few notes on your short story:

      why flame? seriously, if there is a more overused metaphor i haven’t found it yet. and why o’ why have you used “the girl with hair aflame” as a title. we don’t talk like that, it sounds conceited and contrived. and under this subheading there is one sentence i would like to draw your attention to:

      “Despite attention from confident men she turns, staring at him with a hazel gaze, luminous coals, a smile then rising through puffy lips to reveal teeth the colour of purest snow.”

      so if she is like fire… why are her teeth like snow? surely they’d melt… also to compare a hazel gaze and luminous coals is similarly antithetical: coals are black, hazel is light brown. if you did want to use something like that you could talk about her having those incredibly deep brown eyes that sparkle like light is inside them. i think it’s called the Ionian fire.

      “She spins as though connected to his thoughts, a sign that she has burrowed into his mind and discovered his lust, his desire to be a part of the sparkling flame.”
      and
      “She finishes her drink with eyes for him, seductively sucking the vodka off a piece of ice without the realisation of appearing so radiant.”

      discovered his lust? seriously you’re no better than Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James, this is a fanfic intended to slander another fanfic. all you do that is different from them is deny expectation, but it’s very easy to tell that you’re just repressing it.

      “For this flame was too hot for him to touch, others understood, including the blaze herself, yet he would never forget the two looks he’d earned.”

      how the hell did he earn them? what does that even mean? oh and congratulations on un grande cliché in the first part of the sentence.

      “…thrice pierced ears.”

      why are you affecting “ye olde Englishe” as a part of your language? where do you live? where’s your story set? nowhere? oh, that’s right, australia. it’s entirely unrealistic to write like that and it makes your character seem pretentious and idiotic.

      “Bumps and words from other dancers are invisible, silent, for he is no longer here but there.”

      bumps and words? silent bumps? what is there? her world? what does that mean? some metaphysical extra-planar space dominated by her? idgi, this is silly.

      in fact, there is only one way i can think positively about this text: if it were intentionally attempting to portray a pretentious twat in first person. that is the only mode in which it can succeed, any other only shows your negligence as a writer.

      also, from your email to me: “How dare you post something like that on my article? That is disrespectful, rude and reeks of ‘keyboard warrior’.”

      first things first: that’s a terrible sentence (how dare you post something like that on my article is not a question, it’s a statement.) however you do seem to have something of a prediliction for the phrase keyboard warrior. keyboard warrior. that’s a really stupid insult. if i’m a keyboard warrior for pulling you up on the shocking standard of your writing, then so be it.

  3. Victoria

    31/01/2013 at 5:12 am

    Chris,

    If you truly are an aspiring journalist, I’d imagine you would be a rigourous supporter of freedom of speech? Your above post is embarrassingly unprofessional and infantile. It’s hard to take a “writer” seriously if they can’t handle critical analysis of their work. Just because the poster didn’t agree with/enjoy aspects of your writing, doesn’t mean you retort with childish insults. Get used to criticism if you want to work in the media industry. Journalism 101 sonny!

  4. Chris Sutton

    31/01/2013 at 9:44 am

    If you look at the first comment I’m sure you will see childish insults more so. I’m happy to have constructive criticism, but not an attack that is only in the intention to degrade. Read his last line – brainless, dull – should a fellow student explain why rather than use subtle word insults?

  5. Chris Sutton

    31/01/2013 at 9:49 am

    One worded insults **

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