In his essay The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes argued that the only way to read a book was to separate it from its author. According to Barthes, authorial context and intent wouldn’t provide insight into the meaning of the text. Instead, it would limit the amount of meaning a reader could take from it. Giving a text an author before you analyse it was nothing more than a convenient and simple way to understand it. For Barthes, the meaning of a book wasn’t dependent on who the author was but on who the reader was. As we can never really be sure of what an author intended, trying to understand a novel based on who they were as a person would always be flawed. The author, thus, becomes not a God but merely a “scriptor”. They aren’t imposing meaning but merely translating putting the meaning on paper for the reader to untangle themselves.
A few months back, I did Google search and was presented with a warning reminding me that child pornography is illegal. You might be asking what the hell I was searching for that brought me face-to-face with this. It was simple “Lolita as a love story”. I’d seen an article on Twitter a few days before but couldn’t find it when I went back to read it. I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it, who wrote it, or what the title was. So I used a vague search term in the hope of finding it. Clearly, Google thought I was up to no good. After all, Lolita isn’t a love story. It’s the story of a predator who uses romantic language to justify grooming of his stepdaughter. It’s part of the genius of the novel and the genius of Vladimir Nabokov. It’s also one of the main reasons that Lolita is one of my all-time favourite books. But I understand that saying this to certain people can bring about the same warning signs as my earlier search did with Google. Even after all this time, there is still such a mystique about the novel because it deals with such a distasteful subject. But I find all the arguments citing the story as immature. What is the point of literature if not to tackle some of the worst aspects of humanity? And anyway, I bet the majority of the people who whine about Lolita are the same people who buy countless psychological thrillers about serial killers.
Twitter is a pretty horrible place to be. All you need to do is look at the Twitterstorm that hit Yorkshire Tea a few weeks ago. On the plus side, it gave us the immortal phrase “Sue, you’re shouting at tea!” On the minus, it showed us how fucking crazy people can be. I used to work for the company that owns Yorkshire Tea and met one of the people on their marketing team. He was a nice guy. He was a really good copywriter and really liked his job. As I’m sure everyone at the Yorkshire Tea marketing team is. Definitely not the kind of people who deserve abuse being hurled at them for something that was beyond their control. But that’s the kind of world that we live in. That a politician can be seen drinking a specific tea and then a whole host of people demand a boycott of the brand in response. Despite the fact that the original post wasn’t an advertisement. The real issue with social media is that it’s fooled people into thinking that their voice deserves to be heard. It’s changed the idea of what freedom of speech means to so many people. It no longer means having the power or right to express your opinions without censorship, restraint, or legal penalty. It means saying whatever the fuck you want and not thinking there are any moral, social, or emotional consequences to them.
Do you remember when Ricky Gervais was doing interviews about Special Correspondents and decided to lecture everyone about what comedy is? And then it turned out to be dreadful? Yeah, pretty awkward. Well, this week director Martin Scorsese has decided to use an interview discussing the release of his film The Irishman to deride comic book movies. Actually, he didn’t even do that. He simply dismissed them. In an interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese told them he didn’t bother watching Marvel movies: “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema”. Now, of course, Scorsese is in a much stronger position than Gervais was to tell people what’s what but that’s not to say he deserves the final say on what is and isn’t cinema. After all, what is cinema? According to Google, “the production of films as an art or industry.” The MCU sounds like it’s the exact definition of cinema.
It’s been over two weeks since the third season of Stranger Things came out and I finally think it’s okay to rant about it. Especially after seeing a few posts on Instagram this weekend. It’s something I’ve been feeling since I watched the show the weekend it came out and, thankfully, I know I’m not the only one. So, in lieu of my normal Monday post, I’m doing this instead. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant though. It’s been nearly 2 months. That’s quite a lot of rage to keep inside. It was bound to find an outlet eventually.
So, you may have noticed that this isn’t a book review. And that’s only partly because I haven’t quite finished Machines Like Me yet. I say partly because I’m trying to convince myself that I haven’t been rubbish at reading this week. That’s not the reason. The real reason is that I needed to talk about this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Or, more specifically, the reaction to it. Cause this season has divided opinion quite dramatically. And the last few episodes have left a particularly sour taste in people’s mouths. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve found the final series of Game of Thrones to be disappointing. The writing has gone downhill and the storylines are being rushed to fit into the shorter episode run. The focus has been on spectacle instead of the story. Character development has gone out of the window in favour of more CGI dragons. Now, it should go without saying but spoiler warning guys.
It’s nearly been a week since the last Game of Thrones episodes so it may seem like a stupid time to post a rant about it. However, there never seemed to be a decent time to do it. This week was all about Endgame. The only sensible time would have been Wednesday but I had a book review ready to go and I’m trying to keep on top of those. So, I almost just left this alone but, as you should know by now, I’m never one to miss the chance to rant about something. And this is a doozy. Spoiler warnings to anyone who hasn’t seen the episode this week. It’s been long enough by now but I still don’t want to risk it. A friend of mine had the ending ruined for him and I feel his pain. If I’d have known how that episode finished going in, I would have been fucking livid. It was such a fantastic thing to be surprised by. So, yeah, if you haven’t seen the latest episode I’m about to give you major spoilers so stop reading now. It’s really not worth it for what I’m going to say. I’m just going to be getting angry about stupid men on the internet. I have hundreds of rants like this already. Go read them instead.
Yesterday I posted my spoiler free review of The Crimes of Grindelwald which probably ended up being one of the longer posts I’ve written lately. And there was definitely more I wanted to say. Despite coming out of the film feeling fairly positive, in the week since I watched it I’ve become more and more angry about certain things. Driving home on the evening I was bemoaning the changes in timeline and it’s something that hasn’t stopped since. So, I’ve done the unthinkable and purposefully broken my book review streak in order to get some stuff off my chest. I have a history, on this blog, of ranting about J.K. Rowling and this year has been a good year for angry content about her. That was mainly concerned with the fact that Johnny Depp continues to star in the blockbuster franchise despite his worrying personal life. Not only the possibility that he is a domestic abuser but also has a constant struggle with drugs and alcohol. I found it sad that a writer who wrote a series about not letting entitled bullies get their own way would allow an actor to get away with such troubling behaviour and still get paid a shit-ton of money. But, let’s be honest, he pulls in the viewing numbers and, these days, that’s all that seems to matter.
For the first time in a really long time I haven’t got a new book to review. So, for the first time in a really long time I haven’t got any inspiration for my Wednesday post. It definitely doesn’t help that my current read is so bloody uninspiring. I don’t really know what possessed me to start reading To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, especially as I didn’t even like the film that much. I guess I thought it would be an easy read but I just can’t get into it. It’s fallen into so many awful YA traps and I genuinely hate reading parts of it. There is something about an adult writer trying to write the voice of a 16 year old that never quite works. I know that there is no way that I could write a convincing 16 year old yet, still, YA writers keep trying. It got super bad when she used the word “beotch” twice in quick succession. This was a book that was only written a few years ago. Who was still using the word “beotch”? It’s ridiculous. I’ve spent so much of this novel cringing. Which is why I’m being so bad at reading right now. I just don’t want to pick up this book.
It’s reaching that time of the month when us bookish people start to set out what we plan on reading in the weeks ahead. As a keen Bookstagrammer who sticks to a couple of photo challenges for inspiration, I am used to post at least one photo at the start of every new month to show off the books in my monthly TBR. Now, I know there are people out there who will stick religiously to whatever they pick at that point but I’m not one of them. In fact, each of my TBR Instagram posts just tend to be a random selection of books that I kind of want to read but know, deep in my heart, that I won’t be doing it any time soon. It’s just a routine I’ve found myself in. But this month is worse than other months. Because I’m in the middle of a major reading slump. I’m currently still reading Frankenstein in Baghdad: a book that I actually opened for the first time towards the end of March. Fucking March, guys! That was ages ago. So, I’m feeling a little more stressed than normal about my selection this month. And, as we all know, stress isn’t something that really helps in a slump.