Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sleep No More

Sleep No More

So last night I ended up reading Oryx and Crake until the early hours because I was trapped in the 'oh-this-is-an-exciting-bit-I-can't-stop-reading-now' vortex. This vortex quickly turned into 'oh-there's-only-fifty-pages- left-I-might-as-well-keep-reading'. And this is not a good thing. Fantastic book, crammed with lots of amazing ideas and, unusually for dystopian literature, absolutely beautifully written*. But all this means that Oryx and Crake makes you think. And think hard. Even without the thinking going to bed with the destruction of the human race in your head is not the smartest move. Coupled with which my head was also buzzing with how the art vs science theme, which shadows Oryx and Crake, is expounded in Brave New World and 1984. Or at the least in which of them one of the characters goes off to the island of poets near the end. What can I say, I know the rats belong to 1984 and the hanging to Brave New World. But beyond's three years since I last read them and they've blurred. So, all in all, not conducive to good sleep.

Tonight I've just come back from one of my free ticket jaunts having seen Howard Barker's The Fence. And I'm feeling mildly traumatised. Not because it scared me, or pushed my thoughts in an interesting direction [though it did have its moments and I had to laugh when the characters were playing chess and then at the end of the scene one of them knocked all of the chess pieces off of the board***] but because I'm wondering what the heck the point of it was. Other than trying to be clever and slightly pretentious. Expanding theatre, apparently. Hmmmm. Another one for my brain to puzzle over.

Tomorrow I think I may read trashy magazines and reap the benefit of intellectual stupor.

*Are you listening at the back Mr Orwell, that was directed at you.**

**Excluding Animal Farm which I do think is rather beautiful. So that'll just be 1984 then.

***Again for readers who don't know SSoB, there's a game of chess that runs through the play and Harry, crumpled and alone near the end of the third act, knocks all of the pieces off in his great Byronic moment. The hilarity (read mild amusement) was only increased by the fact that one of the characters in The Fence commented 'I don't like Chess, Chess is for metaphorical people'. In the production of SSoB - though not in the script I would argue**** - chess was the overwhelming symbol*****.

**** In the script, at least to me, water's the dominant symbol.

*****Really I should stop adding footnotes that only five or six other people reading this will understand but I can't stop myself. Blame Barker for twisting my brain. Erm, this footnote did have a point. Namely that as well as being rubbish for talking about vikings, it really bugged me that the BBC Oxford review used a chess piece as its photo image and captioned it 'chess is a theme of the play'. No chess is not a theme. It's a metaphor. There's a difference.

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