In the year of 1955, a novel would be published that would forever challenge the morality and values of its readers, prompting them to assess their own principles and integrity. Such a book with its risqué themes and synopsis would raise the question if love exceeds all boundaries, with its divinity consequently trespassing into waters that society deemed forbidden.
‘The Canon’ epitomises literature that has been deemed “worthy”. Defined by characteristics such as aesthetic value, allegorical escapades and illustrious language, the literary canon is comprised of the works that have shaped, distorted, perpetuated culture and all at once been embraced as a vital part of how society has documented its progress from brash copulating nomads, to regimented and sophisticated proselytes. From Shakespeare’s illustrious works of unequivocal magnificence to Wordsworth’s radical and romantic portrayal, the canon is understandably chosen well.
Some conservative scholars insist that “the classics of English and American literature taught since the beginning of the 19th century must remain at the core of the canon”. Of course, rightly so, but it is with this conservative and borderline ostentatious attitude that some works are overlooked.
Nabokov’s harrowing tale of a middle aged man and his daring nymphet trailing around USA is one that has been described as “an immaculate and disturbing masterpiece” by Bret Johnston. All at once we can understand that Lolita is a book that is not all at once comfortable on its podium of excellence.
From Humbert’s very own mouth comes Nabokov’s insight that “Human life is but a series of footnotes to a vast and obscure unfinished masterpiece”. It is this fragility of human life that is documented in Lolita which serves in itself a path to an articulated and risqué masterpiece.
Novels ideally observe the intricacies and brittleness of humans and their sometimes naïve endeavors, but with such a powerful concept that is inhabited within Lolita comes a more honest portrayal and deeper understanding of what people are capable of. Humbert asserts that “All at once we were madly, clumsily, shamelessly, agonizingly in love with each other” the confession is mildly understandable, yet it is the circumstances of which he proclaims his love that runs rampant with that of the uncanny.
It’s easy for one to understand why the novel may possess mixed reviews. The negative thoughts might exact it as the brash, paedophilic novel that objectifies females and ultimately takes away their ability to flourish into grown women. Humbert’s impact on Lolita is one that robs from her the childhood that moulds a person. Humbert finally confesses to himself; “She groped for words. I supplied them mentally “He broke my heart. You merely broke my life”. This destruction of the innocence and divine femininity that resides within Lolita is one for which critics have shunned the novel for, pushed it into the dark, turned a blind eye, and tried to vanquish its dark portrayal of sex and desire.
But in light of this, many have praised it, and perhaps rightly so. Critic Bret Johnston describes the novel as “passionate and playful, while the narrative is simultaneously lyrical and unsettling and erotic”. This combination of both the light hearted element with the amoral, results in the honest portrayal that Lolita depicts. Chapter five sees Humbert struggle with his impulsive and sporadic emotions. He claims; “One moment I was ashamed and frightened, another recklessly optimistic. Taboos strangled me”. Concerning who is to blame for the ugly turn of events within the novel, many cement their opinion on Humbert. He is the “grotesque Turk” who lives only for himself. Yet the language Nabokov uses here portrays him as the victim of seduction. He is frightened, and in turn he is demoted to the image of a timid and misunderstood individual. The use of words such as “frightened” and “ashamed” unequivocally portrays Humbert solely as a victim. We are forced to consider Humbert as more than the aggressor, but rather the passive agent in this relationship discourse. This is a mirror image of how many have felt Lolita really is. Though she may be the “American flirt” hungering for Humbert, she is the product of desires having their worst consequence.
One of the many criticisms of ‘Lolita’ is that it is too pornographic. A seedy novel that masquerades pornography in a rich, poetic guise which in turn eludes it’s real content. The novels raison d’être is not to exist on a level that solely serves as a stimulant for the working class pervert or paedophile but rather to offer a sophisticated glimpse into the taboo tendencies of America’s suburbia. Mendes’ adaption of “American Beauty” similarly explored the conflicting relationships found in Suburbia, along with a sharp and enduring depiction of the nuclear family.
Nabokov was met with much criticism upon publishing the novel. Having being rejected four times by an American publisher, he opted for a French publisher, thus fuelling the stereotypical erotic stance. The French: the unrivalled pioneers of all that furrows the brow and trembles the thighs, a fitting addition to the novels history. John Gordon from The Sunday Times branded it “Sheer unrestrained pornography” upon it’s publication, prompting the public to reject it solely on the notion that it was celebrating all at once what society is so afraid to seek out and discuss; the global taboo of sex and it’s consequential instances. As an audience and society, are we not mature to appreciate material that is sexual? Does the canon not comprise of works that aim to challenge our understanding of literature and raise important questions? Lolita’s portrayal of love is one that doesn’t resonate with the typical depiction of love. From the dwellings of the illustrious Lord in the English manors, to the stereotypically erotic sex on château de longs in picturesque French chateaux’s, Lolita is a far cry from Lawrence’s and Colette’s depiction of love, or lust for that matter. ‘Lolita’s lovemaking features more heavily within the seedy confines of motels; “With the deep hot sweetness thus established and well on its way to its ultimate convulsion I felt I could slow down in order to prolong the glow”. Such an exquisite description is used to depict prolonging the plateau of sexual pleasure, with the most poetic prose to mask the perhaps undignified act. Erotic novel or not, we must as an audience appreciate the language as it glistens and radiates with Wordsworthian charm. To possess such a trait should surely constitute the mark of a canon novel, surely?
This use of the American motel as a venue for romance acts as a rejection of the typical romantic novel. Furthermore, Lolita herself “Standing four feet ten in one sock” isn’t reminiscent of any other archetypal female character with her excessive fragility and naivety. She is the seductress and seducer, in the same manner Humbert is the perpetrator and victim respectively . Controversially a discourse on the attitudes towards women may be interpreted here. Drawing upon ‘Lolita’’s 1997 film adaption, it’s rather evident that Lolita is a manipulative nymph who is in cohorts with Humbert to embark on a journey of sexual self discovery. Despite this the book paints a more favourable female portrait; “Was my excessive desire for that child only the first evidence of an inherent singularity?”. He truly is depicted as the monstrous pervert who has corrupted an innocent child, yet we may be encouraged to consider ‘Lolita’ a little further.
After Humbert and Lolita’s first sexual encounter he narrates, “I am going to tell you something very strange: It was she who seduced me.”. This belief is spurred on by the fact that Humbert acknowledges that Lolita has an articulate way of kissing, something that might have been prompted by experience. Humbert further claims that there were no “traces of modesty in this beautiful…girl.”. Again, we may be prompted to revaluate this belief, as just weeks after Lolita grows bored and restless, not content with the deviant relationship that she and Humbert have concocted in the cauldron of malevolent love. Perhaps she felt inclined to exude her sophistication and maturity by conducting herself in such a way. The daring might even conclude that she was competing with her dead Mother for the affection in some crude Freudian way.
‘Lolita’ is undoubtedly profound and seedy. It is the taboo within Literature, residing carefully with the likes of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ and ‘The Tropic Of Cancer’. A collection of books that have been recognised by highly as of years that have passed, but yet haven’t cemented themselves within the respected confines of the literary canon. It is such a waste for proselytes who desire to explore the deepest and darkest moments of humanity.
‘Lolita’ is ultimately exceptional in ways that it provokes, evokes and forces readers to challenge their own sense of understanding, what it is to love, what cannot be loved and where love has no place. No piece of work may as beautifully and memorably explore the intricacies of love and its apparently boundless and deviant ways. For ‘Lolita’ has within it, a concoction of the human condition, all at once; the pleasure, woe, comedy, pain, lust and fragility that governs us as humans.
 ‘Why Lolita Remains A Favourite’ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5536855
 ‘Why Lolita Remains A Favourite’http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5536855
Crush? About 5.
Endeavouring to embark on sexual escapade? Endless.
Poetry as both an art and a manifestation of an individual’s philosophy is unanimously acknowledged as the epitome of intimacy and honesty. Wordsworth noted poetry as being “the spontaneous overflow of emotion” whereby which the poet could conduct himself freely, not restrained by convention or institution. Blake too voiced his poetry as a window into the soul and demonstrated this no better than in ‘Song of Innocence/Experience’. The notion of desire as the forefront of the human condition was glorified with a resolute understanding and Blake remarked that “Those who restrain desire do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained”. Within the poetry of both Wordsworth and Blake we find a persistent stream of consciousness that is articulated in a manner which forms a dichotomy between the poet and those who fail to connect and immerse themselves in the human condition, and of course nature; the focal point of Romanticism. The movements raison d’être was to depict all aspects of passion and nature in a manner where the poet could too perceive himself in the same conduct he does his surroundings, with Wordsworth and Blake we see two forerunners of Romanticism who have glorified nature and with it embellished their philosophy and soul.
Wordsworth defined himself in the pastoral with his allegorical poem ‘Michael’ which tells the story of a Shepard (Michael) who faces financial problems and once his son Luke is of age sends him away to the city where he might attain enough wealth to bring back the land Michael lost. The character of Michael is important as one might consider Wordsworth has woven himself beneath the sinews of Michael’s character as he too represents the lover of nature who acknowledged that which the conventional mind cannot;
“Hence he had learn’d the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone, and often-times
When others heeded not”
Michael being able to bring about meaning from a mannerism of nature, “winds”, focuses on his parallel with nature. He is the Shepard who toils the land and is a kindred spirit in the presence of nature, thus he is immersed in the tenderness of nature. Our assumption that he acknowledged what the conventional mind cannot is demonstrated by the fact; “others heeded not”, meaning the connection is sacred and is only brought about by an acquired closeness to sentiment and the soul.
It is prevalent in Wordsworth’s doctrine that there is a persistent anguish against the detriments of society and materialism upon the individual. The sheepfold of which Michael hopes Luke can one day continue never comes to pass and this is the first acknowledgment of the ways of industrialism encroaching on the rural;
“Of the unfinished Sheepfold may be seen
Beside the boisterous brook of Greenhead Ghyll.”
For both Michael and Wordsworth, the continuance of the sheepfold is an integral part of man’s connection with nature and it furthers the notions first imbued by Theocritus with the aspect of the rural. To anoint the aforementioned assumption with a different presumption, one may infer that the sheepfold may represent the learning and experience of Luke. Whenst he deviates from his pure self which he possessed prior to visiting London while immersed in the bores of trade and materialism, his Father Michael, ceases to continue the legacy of the sheepfold which gives the sheepfold some element of a quasi-voodoo, where by which Luke’s circumstance affects the sheepfold illuminating yet another connection with man and his surroundings;
“Now, fare thee well
When thou return’st, thou in this place wilt see
A work which is not here: a covenant
Twill be between us”
J.R Watson declares that when Wordsworth is considered alongside other Romantic poets, it is not his evocation of nature that is extraordinary but it is his insight into the nature of man, be it as an individual or his statutory place in society. Wordsworth succeeds in administering this concept within ‘Michael’ by exploring how man fits into the progression of society, and what traditions and inhibited values means for the rural individual. Michael is a tender fellow, stern, but containing the solemnity to that which he must be revered as a type of representation of Wordsworth himself, he is the archetypal poet resonating with the propinquity that the Romantics so gloriously demonstrated with nature;
“Of Nature, by the gentle agency
Of natural objects, led me on to feel
For passions that were not my own, and think”
This proposition of “passions that were not my own” seems to resonate with this attachment between man and nature. The concept that this chain of passion is not his own, but yet he still understands and interprets is vital to the understanding of man and nature being at one within Wordsworth’s philosophy. Wordsworth’s ambition and own sense of prophecy stem from his adoration for Milton, who he viewed as a poet, seer and remarked in ‘London, 1802’;
“MILTON! Thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,”
Wordsworth was not compromised by Milton’s sonnets or by the late poets talent, more he was engulfed by it and remarked to Landor that he was struck by “the style of harmony, and the gravity, and republican austerity.”. ‘London 1802’ is one of Wordsworth’s finest sonnets, exhibiting an illustration of Iambic Pentameter.
Both poets had witnessed the passing of a great revolution, and it in turn marked a decisive encumbering of their understanding of the world, Wordsworth documented the French Revolution with his first proceeding of the ‘The Prelude’ and it marked a poet who found himself immersed in a period where all that he valued was cutting its way through the veil that aristocracy had woven between themselves and the poor;
”For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”
We start to acknowledge similarities between Wordsworth and Blake at the insight of which they both revered Milton as the greatest English poet. Blake fashioned himself as a painter and engraver and too was a seminal figure within the Romantic Movement with his poetry. With Blake we see a poet who was unorthodox and even heterodox with his views spanning from monarchy, politics, religion and philosophy. Blake remarked monarchy as being an unjustified evil in so that he was a young man who saw turmoil within the politics of America, England France. An unconventional fellow, much like Wordsworth, Blake was synonymous with illuminating the soul and depicting man in the manner in which he was most kindred. He was certainly a radical, and upon meeting him, lawyer Henry Crabb Robinson, an individual friendly with Coleridge wrote:
“Shall I call him artist or genius – or mystic – or madman?”
With Blake we see an exceptional manifestation of the poets’ imagination and his garnering of the world around him. Blake did not find contentment in the understanding of the Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke and instead sought to perceive the world in terms of the individuals own sense of perception and then quantify it by means of the latent possibility of Nature’s beauty. In ‘Auguries of Innocence’ Blake put forward the notion of seeing “through the eye” and not “with the eye” which is in opposition to the regimentation of Enlightenment thinkers such as aforementioned Locke;
“To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour”
The poets unrivalled discernment with the world is noted by being able to see “a world in a grain of sand”. The poet is a connoisseur in the formation of the world from its environment, its hardships, its joys and its unfathomable despair. For Blake, he viewed himself as a prophet whose penchant for beauty led him to write and in turn divide audiences between a prophetic poet and simply a madman. Plato remarked; “Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.” And with this we start to acknowledge the marginalisation of the poet who finds himself in exile from conventional society.
Blake’s exploration of the soul can be found in one of his seminal poems from ‘Songs of Experience.’, in this case ‘The Chimney Sweeper’. Here we see an illustration of innocence and the manner of which it is exploited, with the case of the young chimney sweeper who is undone by the less than amiable nature of child labour. The poem begins with the narrator being the young boy himself which allows the emotive content to seep through;
“When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ” ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep.”
The use of the rhyming couplets is interesting as one may attribute the notoriety of such with a inducing a jovial essence to the piece. In this respect, we are essentially far away from any manner of celebration of excitement, so we may resort to understanding the use of the rhyme scheme as a method of reinforcing a specific ideology. In this case it is the exploitation of innocence and the quelling of the souls demeanour. Here we bear witness to Blake’s skill as a poet incorporating structure to manifest a specific element. What is manifested in ‘The Chimney Sweeper’ and Blake’s doctrine is that innocence is compromised by the effects of experience. It is an impending element that perpetuates what resides in innocence and thus there is essentially no innocence in the world as all must succumb to experience, and this is the essence of life. In a sense the notion consists of the individual being brought into the world with a tabula rasa lacking any imperfections, yet the weight of experience perpetuates this, thus the individual experiences the world by magnitude of empiricism, the five senses giving way to interpret the world and create experience.
Another of Blake’s poems found in ‘Songs of Experience’ is that of ‘The Tyger’ which marks a decisive documentation of Blake’s philosophy. The questions focus is that of who created the apparent monstrous Tiger, and compares the creator to a blacksmith. The metre of the poem is regular and contains a strong sense of rhythm, which mirrors the hammering of the blacksmith onto his anvil;
“What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?”
A large number of discourses are explored solely through ‘The Tyger’ and in turn demonstrates the Poet’s willingness and imperative endeavour to the world around him and that which is contained in himself. Blake’s question is how might a creator imbue life into a creature such as the Tiger while at the same time bestow it upon the tender Lamb;
“Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”
The juxtaposition of the existence of the Lamb and the Tiger reinforce the question of how “good and evil” might exist in a world made by a creator such as GOD. The Smithy represents an archetypal understanding of the creator and the artist and though he is perplexed by the aesthetic beauty of the Tiger, he is riddled with disgust for the impending consequences of the creation;
“And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?”
Romanticism is a broad concept, and represents what many held so close at a time when industry would encroach and in turn change the world. For Wordsworth and Blake, two of the greatest English poets, they may be acknowledged as kindred with the world as they possess within them a god spot, where an innate idea of GOD resides, or in this instance, an unparalleled understanding of the world and ones place in it. Within the individual there is turmoil, grief, despair but at times paramount joy. Suppose one should view Poet’s and their work as finding the equilibrium in the context of perhaps Hume’s Epicurean Hypothesis with Blake and Wordsworth we may regard them as demonstrating the intricacies of the soul, and yet all at once have forwarded the notion that the human condition is not resolute.
 J.R Watson: “English Poetry of the Romantic Period 1789-1830”
 Dorothy Wordsworth: “The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals” 1800
 Henry Crabb Robinson: “Extracts from the Diary, Letters, and Reminiscences of Henry Crabb” 1825 Robinson
 Plato: “The Republic”, Book II, Section V. 380 BCE
Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna): “Sirat al-shaykh al-ra’is”980-1037
René Descartes: “Meditations on First Philosophy” 1641
 David Hume: “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion” 1777
I’ll give you one more time #the1975 #royalalberthall #matthealy
Little snippet of the intro of my new song. Atmospheric urban synth orientated stuff. It’s going to sound like The Neighbourhood meets Tv On The Radio..hopefully #theneighbourhood #gatedsynth #synthindie #beat #soundcloud #the1975 #logicpro
This was a French girl called Mélodie who I met in Solfatara and then happened to bump into again along with her friends at Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. I will miss Italy. (at Napoli)
Authors note*: If at some point quality deviates, by weight of adapting culture and a more increasingly vapid influx of art that provokes nothing more than a cinematic rendition to grace popular culture, then by strict comparison; art has declined. Poetry and its proverbial cousins of drama, cinema and prose, have long documented a progression from brash troglodytes to condescending proclamations of morality. There upon that podium, art hath cried out, like a Christian in the time of decadence:
“Here layeth, the seed of all that rusts and rots. Doth with your negligence do you embrace this, with open arms and smiles of glee. Where to, does one look, to Rembrandt, to Dante?
Do you not loathe the sin that you embellish, you the ones who shun art, take pride its extortion and ridicule?
Do you not see, these artists as prophets? To grace yonder, Isaiah upon the mound or Muhammad in the plains of Medina?
Fickle were you, who laid waste to Pound when he saluted fascism, who let the virtuous Mathematics take a seat beside that which made the earth flow with sentiment and honesty. In time, thou shalt once more see, the heavens agape, and the earth flow open. The land shall grow white as milk and honey shall run like the Nile when the season doth pass.
I shall see The Bard with a vicious tongue and an apathetic ear settling for the tenderest of Iambics walk into the city clutching at the Folio: “Tears virginal
Shall be to me even as the dew to fire,
And beauty that the tyrant oft reclaims
Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax.
Henceforth I will not have to do with pity:
Meet I an infant of the house of York,
Into as many gobbets will I cut it
As wild Medea young Absyrtus did:
In cruelty will I seek out my fame.”
I shall see the Mothers of future poets, painters and philosophers not spare the obscenity of Lawrence, not declare the macabre of Plath a sin, for they shall rejoice in their children’s talent and love.
I shall see the clouds align and make for grievous apprehensions of God, they shall form shapes and ornaments: begging to be painted and serenaded.
I shall see dogs bark in harmony and delight, their song but a sweet and choral one, with the overture of their master’s discontent.
I shall see merchants drink their own wine, proclaim their anguish at lovers come and gone, with every sip a detail of intimacy shall breathe and come forth with woe.
I shall see the soldiers beat their swords against their shields, declare this the greatest love of the century, lift up their crimson tunics and flay what sent Paris blindly into Helen’s arms, without thought for lady loves pink skies, each moan but an expression of sentiment in deepest melody.
I shall see the sun perched in the sky, cradled in the arms of God, burst into the shade of passion that no lover ever once saw, it’s rays will burn and they will anoint and when the frivolity passes, the sun shall render himself useless for a quarter of an hour.
I shall see the Moon, like an actor go forth and bathe in the light for himself, blocking all manner of glow from the rest of you.
I shall see the faces of those that feared and hated, droop and wither like the flowers on the banks of the Jordan.
I shall see Shelley arise from her folly, take hold of the knowledge that men praised and swallow it whole, she will frolic hand in hand with Bysshe and then walk into the Dead Sea with stones adorning her pockets.
I shall see the stars amidst the veil of night sky, each one sending Rimbaud into fits of derangement and passion; twisting and turning- for you my son, you are in Hell, and in Hell you take delight.
And still, the academics and sceptics gnash their teeth and shake their heads, they will outlive their own disparity and their bones will be playthings for those that roam the night.
Still, will institution upon institution cast doubt about metaphor and prose, they will look to those that see heaven in number and currency.
Still, Dickinson will weep, she will sing of death in a glorious tone, her gift is but the promise of death, and she shall go hand in hand with Woolf into Heaven.
Still, the locks that adorn the gentle things of youth, they will stay gold, but like gold they will rust and crumble, for no Muse shalt be free from impending age, you have been fooled by poets.
Still, heaths and lanes that you held so close, that lit your mind with the flame of passion, they will be set alight by barbarians and their sentiment will diminish as flame and ember ravages.
And you, in the City of Jerusalem shall see; angel upon Angel Fall from the Heavens, they will be impaled by the quills of Kant and Hume, and their blood shall write a new way for the people to embrace.
And you, in the City of Jerusalem shall see; the Dome of the Rock cave in on itself, every Jew, Christian and Muslim with their mouths agape will weep and toil, yet they will salvage the gold for themselves.
And you, in the City of Jerusalem shall see; the fortune tellers and seers run like rabbits through the streets, trumpet tongued and singing of Michael.
And you, in the City Of Jerusalem shall see; the worms seep through from the sand, they will tie themselves in knots and they shall be used as badges for the Heretics.
And you, in the City of Jerusalem shall see; all that once was, is now, and forever shall be.
They shall write in tongues of old and in tongues of new, laments that did protest with rigour, which in our pursuit of that which sent bodies into the sky and dissolves babes in the womb we have abandoned those who wrote of lovers taking their lives.
Withered and blue, they will abort children that would give their own lives in due course for that of another.
Your beliefs and virtues will not remain intact, for the weight of apparent progress will crush them and you will be left with only remnants of your passion.
If you should still hold close that which laid naked covered in roses in high esteem and within your grasp, they will be snatched from you and made into Harlots.
They will consume every living thing that roams this Earth in the name of apparent instinct, those that shall find nutrition in the woods and gardens will be force fed the blood of a Lamb.
Gold will replace currency once more, the mines will be full of men, and they will be paid in lighter form of what they broke their back to find.
Schools of Art and Music will be boarded up, the clay will be used for building blocks and the violins shall be burnt to keep the roar of industry alive.
You will dedicate yourself to the Odyssey and the Mariner, and upon invigorating yourself with the solemnity of it’s worth, they shall tear the pages and put in your hand; diluted literature.
My friends, my Lovers, my Family, my Enemies, my Animals:
You shall scorn me, detest me and say that I feel the Western breeze no different from you, but believe me this when my lips move to convey;
O Glory! Sweet is such.
I believe in the twilight of poetry and consummation of art,
Together they shall intertwine like Tristan & Isolde, through the ages.
From whenst I felt the bitter kiss in my youth,
I beheld figments known only to Donne and Blake.
But you called me a liar and a false prophet,
For in your youth you were taught regiment and fixture.
I abhor these things like I do the sight of used up lovers!
Go forth into the city and frolic with those who wrote,
Sweet songs and verses, who sent the sun from China to the Americas.
There you will find yourself, immersed in all that is good and sweet.
Think not of the trumpet tongued angels who come to claim you,
for you shall remain a seer even in Heaven, even when the gates have rusted.
Jordan Mac Phee-Torres