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Anti-Dutton! What I Like Wednesday!
SSar's Beast
This is me getting onto the "X I Like Xday" meme! Because I can't just post about Dutton forever. Well, I can, but.

So! Things that are neat!

*The random chocolate bar I bought today was DELICIOUS. I think it was called a Hershey's Skor?

*I have arranged a mid-week weekend for myself while pleasing my employers at the same time! I'm on 20 hours a week at the moment, which usually means that I do a half day on Monday, and full days on Tuesday and Thursday. But this week they really wanted me to come in on Friday, so I graciously agreed to swap my Thursday and Friday hours. Voila - I got today and tomorrow off to work on a linguistics essay in a nice unbroken block of time, and this makes everyone happy.

*I'm enjoying doing footnotes at the library. The people give off a lovely professional/cheerful vibe, the attitude of people who know they're competent at what they're doing and also know it's of use to someone. When I walk past someone checking facebook, I get the feeling that it's because they just wanted a quick break, not because they're desperately bored and resentful.

*The Art Therapy destruction in the quad is rather cool. Now, it occurs to me that I still have a can of glittery green spraypaint... It's nice being a stationerywhore sometimes. The most amazing stuff turns up in my stationery sack. Spraypaint, acrylic paint, stencils, paintbrushes, wire... Hm. ^!^

*I cleaned the microwave today! Go me.

*I was pretty proud of the How To Get A Book Published In NZ In 1896 mini-essay I wrote, because it was very self-directed: I had a question, I researched, and I answered it.

*The student from Otago University emailed me her essay on S. N. Brown and Co., the mysterious printer!

*anord came home from knitting the other day and told me that everyone wished me good luck in my studies. Aw. Thanks, you guys.

*This week has had good news from friends; Matt got a new job, and angelchrome and lamuella are finally in the same country as each other! It may not be my good news, but it brightens my day.

I'm actually feeling rather glum about The Bird of Paradise introductory essay that I've been working on all year. It's not really the impending deadline. It's the need to confront the entire divorce papers, and they are heartbreaking.

Before I realised that my author's life was so sordid, I came to identify with him. I was given the task of finding out about him as a historical personage, and this filled me with curiosity and interest; meanwhile, I was reading his book. Having read it, I looked forward to getting to "meet" him through whatever historical documents I could find.

But then Pip turned up the divorce papers. I skimmed some of them, and felt nauseated. I've been putting off going through them, and meanwhile, I've been subconsciously siding with my author, because, well, he's my author. He's the reason I'm doing this whole project. I realised I was doing this, and that I was doing this illogically, when I mentioned it to 20thcenturyvole the other day. She said, flippantly, that she'd side with the wife, and I said, "Hey!" It stung. It stung because I really wished I could believe that Dutton was a good guy.

It's a week and a half before my essay must be finished, and formatted suitably for online publication, and so I've had to confront the divorce papers. What's particularly awful about them is that they really are the dark side of the story written in The Bird of Paradise. In The Bird of Paradise, Eugene saves his friend's child by performing a tracheotomy. In the divorce papers, his medical colleague gives evidence about a case they both attended in which Dutton was drunk and the tracheotomy patient died. Every episode in Paradise where Eugene did something good, or was in the moral right... All tarnished. Neighbours, policeman, barmen, all assert that he was rarely sober, that they sheltered his wife from him when they could.

And, sure, he says, through Paradise, that Marvel/Mary was a liar, that she rallied her family and her supporters around her with money, to slander him shamelessly. But she got her divorce. And in those brutal times, where divorces were granted in the case of proven fault, they weren't granted when your husband was simply a lout. It wasn't enough for him to use terrible language and shame his wife, to threaten, to withhold money, to be drunk. He had to be really bad.

Okay, so I should have seen this coming, but I want to believe the fiction, because I've spent over eight months with it in my head. I feel guilty for that wish. It's not very brave of me. And it's not very fair to Mary.

And it's really bloody weird to discuss things like the dying children from a) the perspective of Victorian Fiction: Dying Children Teach Us How To Die and Cement Familial Bonds and b) It Was All Dutton's Fault But He Wants You To Believe Differently.

This is pretty ugly stuff and it's getting me down. Only nine more days.

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I think your experience of uncovering the truth behind your author is fascinating, especially the way in which you wish you could still believe in him.


In my more grandiose moments, I imagine writing a book about what it was like to write this essay. I mean, it's full of big themes, like historical investigation, feminism, the death of the author...

I had the experience of encountering a science-fiction author that I had read a lot of when I was a bit younger. Recently I found out that he had was rabidly anti-gay, and returning to the books, I could suddenly feel it. It hurt.

Also, new job for Matt? You mean Pip's Matt?

No. Actually, Pip's Matt hasn't been Pip's Matt for some time now. I mean my friend Erin's Matt. (You know, the couple who also had a radio show with Muse.) There are a lot of Matts. ^!^

You mean Orson Scott Card? It really bugs me that he can do people so well (the Ender series was brilliant) but yet has what I consider to be a warped view of humanity. Then again, there are probably more people that fit your description, because a lot of classic sci fi overlapped with an era which was less open minded. Which sucks, because I suppose you have to brace yourself for more potential disappointments. =/

Huh. Apparently I'm out of the loop - last time I encountered the topic, the two were dating. Possibly? Am I going mad? Now I'm all self-doubty.

Orson Scott Card was my specific example, but in Wikitrawling I've found a whole bunch of others. Consider me well and truly inured to that kind of disappointment, now.

They were dating quite briefly - I don't know, two months absolute max (she guesses)? So basically you are right, you're just lagging by about six weeks.

Gah, I'm sorry, I induced you to trawl for something really unpleasant just for the sake of being cynical/descriptive. LOOK DOUBLE RAINBOW. SO INTENSE.

Also I have 'Gimme Sympathy' stuck in my head so badly Joel had to ask me nicely to stop singing it over, and over, and over again.

The historical research sounds fascinating! And yes, divorces papers are ugly things. But being a bad man doesn't stop him being a good author. And besides, it's much easier to write pieces on 'bad/juicy' things than good things (both essays and fiction). Chin up, nearly there. :)

What's the Art Therapy Destruction? It sounds kinda interesting. But surely destroying peoples art might upset them a tad?

Heh. Thanks.

The Art Therapy thing is quite neat. We have an area of the university, a covered concrete quadrangle between the library and some other buildings, which is due to be torn down for some very large-scale renovations. Since it was the last week of classes for Semester Two this week, the Student Association organised for it to be turned into a giant art project, as "end of study art therapy". It is currently very, very rainbow. The main part of the project is over, but I could still go down there and add some decorations if I wanted.

Indeed, Dutton's nearly over. I just didn't expect an English essay to bring up ethical implications.

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