21 November 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 111

If I bring up Stephenie Meyer's Twilight up a lot during our discussions of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, that's because the latter is the unacknowledged great-grandfather of the former. Edward Cullen is the perfect blend of Frankenstein and his Creature . . . if you overlook the sparkling. But seriously, the Romantic ideal of being lonely and lost in a beautiful but comfortless world, until you find the individual who is the perfect and only mate for you, is believed by both Edward and the Creature. And the idea that you yourself can have a hand in creating this individual is explored by both Meyer and Shelley.

. . . a train of reflection occurred to me, which led me to consider the effects of what I was now doing. Three years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated my heart, and filled it for ever with the bitterest remorse. I was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species.

But if you really think about it, the Frankenstein of Twilight is Carlisle Cullen, the vampire who turned Edward and the rest of his coven . . . and who would have been willing to turn Bella had Edward continued to refuse. Something that I've long felt the Twilight series fails to explain is why Edward has always had only admiration and affection for his "sire," when he himself is so ambivalent about what he was turned into.

17 November 2014

+ JMJ +

Knitting Diary: My First Hat

Did I really say did knitting has made ​​me "methodical"? ROFLMAO! It didn't take me long after I did to revert back to my old self--the self that can't follow recipes without tweaking them a little. For it turns out that you can have a similar approach to a knitting pattern! In my case, it's not because I want to misbehave, but because I discover along the way that I made ​​some unintentional mistakes that mean I will not be able to follow the original design as rigidly as I've committed to. . . and so need to improvise.

Take what happened when I decided to make the Fresco Simply Slouched Hat that you see on the left.

11 November 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 110

Do you like finding books within books? I do! It's nice when characters are also readers. =) It strains credulity a bit that the Creature learned how to read while observing other people doing it, from outside the latter's home . . . but no more than that he should just happen to stumble across some pretty good books in the wilderness. So let's just accept it, aye?

I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books. They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me into the lowest dejection. In the Sorrows of Werter, besides the interest of its simple and affecting story, so many opinions are canvassed, and so many lights thrown upon what had hitherto been to me obscure subjects, that I found in it a never-ending source of speculation and astonishment . . .

As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own feelings and condition. I found myself similar, yet at the same time strangely unlike to the beings concerning whom I read, and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathised with, and partly understood them, but I was unformed in mind; I was dependent on none and related to none. 'The path of my departure was free'; and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to solve them.

The other two books are Plutarch's Lives and John Milton's Paradise Lost--and together the three make an odd collection. It's true that the purpose of literature is to teach us what our immediate experience cannot, and these books certainly expand the Creature's intellectual world. But they seem to be here mostly for contrast, for the effect that these worthy classics have on him is nothing compared to the effect of some other reading material that he finds in his own pocket: his creator's journal entries.

10 November 2014


Knitting Diary: Cathy's Cowl

How do your knitting projects begin? That is, the ones that end up completed? Mine start with unraveling something else that seemed to be working but really wasn't, which was the case when I tried knitting up a basic lace pattern with one of my grandmother's old balls of yarn . . .

Now, the nice thing about ripping up one project is that you get to use the yarn for something else. I don't feel too bad because the "projects" are usually just exercises. And exercises feel like exercises all the way through, even if I begin them with the intention of finishing. There have been exactly two exercises that hinted, very early on, that they had the potential to be something greater. You know, something finished. And one of them just may be the first hand-knit gift that I ever give to a friend.

05 November 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 109

When I anticipated getting my heart ripped out by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I envisioned something gruesome, bloody, and grunting. I had no idea that it would actually be emotional. And yet that is what the five chapters we are tackling today have been. By "emotional," I certainly don't mean emo, although Frankenstein has that all sewn up, as usual.

. . . Elizabeth read my anguish in my countenance, and kindly taking my hand, said, "My dearest friend, you must calm yourself These events have affected me, God knows how deeply; but I am not so wretched as you are. There is an expression of despair, and sometimes of revenge, in your countenance, that makes me tremble. Dear Victor, banish these dark passions. Remember the friends around you, who centre all their hopes in you. Have we lost the power of rendering you happy? Ah! while we love--while we are true to each other, here in this land of peace and beauty, your native country, we may reap every tranquil blessing--what can disturb our peace?"

. . . not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe: the very accents of love were ineffectual. I was encompassed by a cloud which no beneficial influence could penetrate. The wounded deer dragging its fainting limbs to some untrodden brake, there to gaze upon the arrow which had pierced it, and to die--was but a type of me.

Oh, shut up, Victor, before I get Bella Swan to punch you in the face . . . Seriously, someone needs to slap Frankenstein the way we slap people who panic during a crisis, to help him to snap out of it. He lets his emotions rule him without even trying to gain the upper hand. This would be annoying enough if it weren't made worse by his never even pausing to wonder what his Creature might be feeling.

02 November 2014


Early Edition: Suicides

The unprecedented combination of a heavy workload, an illness, and a new knitting obsession may be slowing down the blog, but that's what old drafts are for, aye? Let's hope that this one is satisfactory . . . 

Sometimes it's easy to know when to act and what to do. I mean, surely a CPR instructor who suffers a heart attack would want you to use CPR on him. (Right???) If only it were always that simple.

29 October 2014


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 108

The scene in which Victor Frankenstein successfully animates a corpse is a favourite among filmmakers that even those who have never seen a Frankenstein adaptation expect a really dramatic "It's alive! It's ALIVE" moment. So it's a bit of a shock to read the novel and to see how understated it originally was.

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!--Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

Mary Shelley is very stingy on the technical details, but she does have an excuse a reason for it. Frankenstein is so horrified by what he has unleashed on the world that he wants to make sure that no one else ever has a chance to do it. That's probably a good thing . . . but it's also a case of too little, too late.