Sunday, April 30, 2006


In a short while I will be graduating from college. And I am not ready.

Unlike a lot of seniors, I am not yet tired of where I am at the moment. But then again, my situation is peculiar. Having switched my major rather late in my college career,it is only this year that I am taking a lot of classes I enjoy and doing something I am passionate about. I have had a chance to make valuable contacts with professors, staff and students. I enjoy having stimulating discussions with my professors and it fills me with dread to think that very soon, that cord of communion will be snapt.

I have been so fortunate to be here, in this place with its wealth of resources and nurturing environment, that makes it possible to bring to world to me if I should wish it. If I have a question, be it anything, I could pursue the answers here. I regret the many years in which I was blind to all that was before me. Oh just how much could I have done if only I had had an awakening earlier. Besides doing a Bronte thesis, I could have double majored in what inspires me every day: Art. I could have started a Bronte Society in my college, presented at a conference, procured funding to go to conference elsewhere, or had rewarding summer internships that involved doing things I really liked to do, like teaching. I am convinced I could have brought Juliet Barker to speak here, with some persuasion and support. I could have written for the college publications, or started one of my own. I could have taken actual creative writing classes and submitted some of my stories for competitions. I could have formed more meaningful relationships with people instead of telling myself to be satisfied with indifference. I could have done so much with what I was given. Just this one year of doing something I like, makes up for the past three years in which all I remember now is being in some sort of trance, working like a machine without being free, trying to achieve something without asking the vital question: What do I really like?

I was truly blessed to be here and even during those times when I get a grade I didn't expect or the internship I didn't get, I think about the great discussions I've had in classes or with professors afterwards and I know that the journey has been worth it. Besides classes, this is the only year in which I actually opened myself to freedom: not just emotionlly but physically as well, for I've taken up a couple of sports I enjoy doing.

Very soon this will be no more. I will literally be forced to move out of my niche and fend for myself. Myself alone. Moving home is out of the question, at least not for the present. And then, I don't know what I will do or where I will go. I don't know what type of people I will be surrounded with, whether they'd have the kindred spirits in them or whether they'd mock my eccentricities. If I could have my way, I wish I could get paid to research the Brontes or work on Children's Literature. Even if it is possible to do this at some time in far future, thinking of my present choices is not very comforting.

I suppose I should not complain. But job anxiety is kicking in, especially when I see a lot of seniors with jobs. I suppose everything happens for the best...but we only know that in hindsight...we have to go through the journey first.

And I don't know if I am ready to do so soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Anne Shirley, do you mean to tell me you believe all that wicked nonsense of your own imagination?"

"Not believe exactly," faltered Anne. "At least, I don't believe it in daylight. But after dark, Marilla, it's different. That is when ghosts walk."


Anne might plead and cry as she liked--and did, for her terror was very real. Her imagination had run away with her and she held the spruce grove in mortal dread after nightfall. But Marilla was inexorable. She marched the shrinking ghostseer down to the spring and ordered her to proceed straightaway over the bridge and into the dusky retreats of wailing ladies and headless specters beyond.

"Oh, Marilla, how can you be so cruel?" sobbed Anne. "What would you feel like if a white thing did snatch me up and carry me off?"

This passage from "Anne of Green Gables" resonates with me just now. It always had ever since I had first read the book.
I find that I can relate to Anne in many ways, especially because of the power of the Imagination and its dangers.

Have you experienced moments when your imagination seems to devour you? How does one deal with an over-heated imagination without willfully suppressing it, literally fainting (like Jane), or undergoing an unsettling punishment (like Anne)?

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I wonder what the world will be like if everyone told each other exactly what they felt. If you don't like the way someone behaves, is it not better to be honest with them about how you feel instead of putting on a plastic smile and pretending like nothing was wrong? How long can you lie to yourself evertime you look in the mirror? Would your conscience not eat you up?

I find that too often people live in this garb of propriety...except it is not really propriety. I wonder in this case whether the fault rests with the fact that people simply don't feel or whether they try to conceal their feelings. When someone bursts out the truth, then the other "decorous" people stare at her, immediately making up their minds to ostracize her. In their eyes, this is improper, simply irrational behaviour. What could she simply find fault with in order to burst out like that? And why so passionately?

So they continue to ignore her afterward, for "fear" that they would disconcert her "sensitive" constitution. Why is it that people are SO unwilling to admit that someone could nurse vehement amimosities because of feeling ignored, slighted, trampled? How can people be content in mere civilities all the time instead of yearning for a marked preference or affection?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

This was mentioned in Bronteana's post but I thought it was the funniest thing I have seen EVER that I simply had to post!!

Picture is courtesy of Legacy Designs

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Fall according to Charlotte Bronte

In Jane Eyre, Rochester is the fallen. He falls from Grace and is saved by Jane, the Eve to his Adam. Although I don't profess to be a Bible scholar, I am aware that a debate exists about who was responsible for the fall. By making Rochester physically hurt after his horse trips, Charlotte Bronte explicitly makes it clear that it is the man who is fallen and needs the woman to be redeemed.

She also complicates the nature of Eve by making Jane "plain", stripping her of Eve's ethereal beauty. Furthermore, she gives Eve a double: in Bertha. Because Bertha is not wholly bad, we detect a hint of sympathy from Charlotte Bronte, which is Miltonic in itself.

Although Jane had her suspicions and her curiosity was roused, it is clear that Rochester had "sinned" by not disclosing this secret. Hence, instead of Eve's being tempted by the Tree of Knowledge, Bronte argues that Man was already fallen even before the woman's curiosity was roused.

If only Milton had lived during Charlotte's day, what heated letters must have passed between them!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Catalog of Bronte dogs

Here's what I can recall so far:

From the Bronte family:
Emily Bronte's Grasper and Keeper
Anne Bronte's Flossy

From Jane Eyre:
Mr Rochester's Pilot
St. John Rivers' Carlo

From Wuthering Heights:
The Lintons' Gnasher and Wolf

From Agnes Grey:
The Murrays' Snap

From Tenant of Wildfell Hall:
Mr Huntingdon's Dash

From Shirley:
Shirley Keeldar's Tartar

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Bronteblog has an article on Prozac and Charlotte Bronte. It argues for Lucy's Snowe's depression, which is described "poetically" in Villette.

My question is, to what extent can meds be prescribed to people? Lucy wasn't perpetually depressed. She was not a happy child but does that mean that she should have gone on meds?
I wonder about the notion of "prozac nation".
Can feelings not be allowed to be expressed? I suppose one could argue saying that meds would have helped Lucy to not have the urge to end her life. But I got the impression (and I have to re-read the novel to confirm this) that she sunk into depression when she was left alone in the Ponsionnnat. Was Lucy never happy in her own world?

Why should people conform to others' notions of what being "happy" is? I realize that manifestation of depression can, but not always, be very aggressive, such as causing self-harm, and in this case, going on meds and therapy would have helped. However, what if people are born with the tendency to be dejected? Can one not feel dejected and happy in their inner worlds? This seems to me one of the paradoxes in art. In his argument about negative capability, Keats states that it is indeed possible to to never reach one's goal/objective, and still be fulfilled.

If Lucy's problem was that she didn't have many friends, is it reasonable to make her have people like Genevra or Madame Beck for friends? Will they not strip her of her freedom? Especially of her freedom of independence and imagination? Would turning her into a "happier" person give us the Lucy Snowe we know?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Here's a rough draft of my new Jane Eyre Madlib!
Try it here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I saw this Meme on Holly's blog and decided to do it for myself too :)

Random Question Meme

1) Who is the last person you high-fived?
My friend Tulip
2) If you were drafted into a war, would you survive?
I don't think so. The emotional stress would be too much (and besides, I can't stand the rigidity of rules).
3) Do you sleep with the TV on?
No. I rarely watch TV
4) Have you ever drunk milk straight out of the carton?
5) Have you ever won a spelling bee?
Yes...second place in Middle School.
6) Have you ever been stung by a bee?
Not sure...
7) How fast can you type?
Not sure.
8) Are you afraid of the dark?
9) What color are your eyes?
Varies...often velvet-like.
10) Have you ever made out at a drive-in?
11) When is the last time you chose a bath over a shower?
4 months ago.
12) Do you knock on wood?
Often :P
13) Do you floss daily?
15) Can you hula hoop?
16) Are you good at keeping secrets?
I believe so.
17) What do you want for Christmas?
A job!!!
18) Do you know the Muffin Man?
19) Do you talk in your sleep?
I wouldn't know if I am sleep.
20) Who wrote the book of love?
No idea. What is love? A fantasy or a feeling?
21) Have you ever flown a kite?
Yes. Those were good times :)
22) Do you wish on your fallen lashes?
23) Do you consider yourself successful?
24) How many people are on your contact list of your cell?
About 30.
25) Have you ever asked for a pony?
Yes! When I was younger.
26) Plans for tomorrow?
Reading (including Tenant of Wildfell Hall), compiling a Newsletter, trying to reduce stress.
27) Can you juggle?
28) Missing someone now?
Not really.
29) When was the last time you told someone I Love You?
In what sense?
30) And truly meant it?
31) How often do you drink?
Including water? ;)
32) How are you feeling today?
A bit anxious. Surprisingly I have some free time this morning, and I can't help thinking that either I've forgotten something...or am trying to get away from doing something I am supposed to do.
33) What do you say too much?
34) Have you ever been suspended or expelled from school?
35) What are you looking forward to?
The day I get a job!!!
36) Have you ever crawled through a window?
Yes, when I was younger.
37) Have you ever eaten dog food?
38) Can you handle the truth?
Yes. Even if sometimes it takes me a while to face it.
39) Do you like green eggs and ham?
The book? Yes. But otherwise, no.
40) Any cool scars?
Yes. On my leg.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Someone I know confessed that she has been having doubts about being an active member of an organization.

The other members of the organization still wished to give her a large leadership role in the organization, in the hope that "this will reinforce her interest in the group instead of turning her away from it". (It is implied that her turning away was "uncalled for").

I was the only one who opposed their decision, for I wanted her to actually make the choice herself: as in give her time to choose what she wanted without being compelled to be a part of any group.

I strongly feel that desire to do something should come from the heart. One has to be aware of all their options before making a choice. This person must be allowed to see for herself about what the absence of being involved in the organization would do to her. Whether it stregnthens her bond towards it or breaks it, at least she is given the right to make a choice.

This is consistent with Milton's argument in Areopagitica. Virtue is not virtue unless it is tested with vice. We are given free will and we must choose our inherent virtue or otherwise it will remain uncultivated.

(ETA: By vice I mean challenge and self-interrogation. This post is not meant to advocate for Satanic or rude behaviour.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

The unsettling ending of Jane Eyre

We just finished discussing Jane Eyre in my Bronte seminar and I am yet again full of questions regarding the (rather strange) ending of the novel.

Jane and Rochester's relationship seems too perfect, as if it cannot exist in "real life". As I had explained in response to Bronteana's post a while ago, it seems as if Charlotte Bronte uses a lot of "flowery" language in the ending that she didn't use at any other point in the novel. The phrase "bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" directly alludes to the Bible and gives the impression of Jane and Rochester as the new Eve and Adam. Ferndean, with its isolated setting and rich greenery represents the new Eden.

Just as she fills us with hope of a "New World", Bronte undercuts that by stating that Ferndean is very "damp" and "unsalubrious". How is it that though Jane is afraid of going to India because of it's unsanitary conditions, she is prepared to live the environment at Ferndean at the risk of her health? My own take on this would be that this morbid state of Ferndean presents a death-like, albeit more gothic, life for Jane. Almost as if it is unreal, fleeting, cannot exist. Bertha's dying is symbolic of Jane's inner fire being quenched and perhaps the woman we are left with is no longer the Jane we have come to know.

And why does Jane wear a blue dress in the end when she had clearly stated earlier to Rochester that she does not desire finery or showy clothes? When her son is born with "eyes like Rochester", does this, along with her wearing a blue frock, mean that she is forced to conform in some way (either to Society's view on beauty or her own need to satisfy her cravings)?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

This picture of a version of Jane Eyre appeared in the Bronteblog today. This is a fascinating picture for many reasons, especially in its portrayal of Bertha. It is a picture of psycho-sexual eroticism. I could't help noticing Bertha's red dress and the manner in which she clings to Jane. Her gesture it poised between that of a tender caress and vampire's demonic stab. She seems to cling to Jane like a motherless child while she is taking away Jane's strength. Jane in her turn seems distressed: torn between having to choose Rochester and another fate (either one of independence or one more connected with Bertha). In this picture it seems like Bertha has just as much a hold on her as does Rochester, as if she cannot let them both go.

This is more evidence of the novel's connection to Coleridge's Christabel and Keats's Lamia and La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
I bought a small notebook with ruled pages a few days ago. I chose a smaller size because I found bigger notebooks intimidating and I thought a smaller book meant there'd be fewer pages and that would force me to write my burning thoughts out.

However, it doesn't seem to be working.

I found what I feel more comfortable with is a notebook with no ruled pages. A notebook with blank sheets where I can write in whatever size I want, form my lines any way I please, and doodle at the same time too.

I understand now that books with ruled pages are too confining for me. The sight of the ruled lines on the page turns me off. I don't know if my unwillingness to face these ruled lines is a weakness I must overcome...or if I'd be better off taking a "different path" and chossing notebooks with blank pages hereafter. It doesn't necessarily mean that everytime I come across a blank page that a new idea pops up into my head and I can write, but rather that a blank page offers me freedom. More freedom than that found in a sheet with caged lines.

I find it intolerable to be in spots where I am restricted mentally and emotionally. Perhaps I've become too sensitive to such places. The worst part is when one finds that the imprisonment stems from within. Nevertheless, I could do with fewer ruled notebooks for now..

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

YES!! Thanks to a WONDERFUL carpenter and the lovely librarian, the lock is now fixed and I am all set to display my collection!!!!!! *jumps and squeels in glee*

(And my puppet family seem delighted too!)

A new poem:

Instead of "No coward soul is Mine" I will be reading this:

Aye, there it is! It wakes tonight
Sweet thoughts that will not die
And feeling's fires flash all as bright
As in the years gone by!

And I can tell by thine altered cheek
And by thy kindled gaze
And by the words thou scarce dost speak
How wildly fancy plays.

Yes, I could swear that glorious wind
Has swept the world aside,
Has dashed its memory from thy mind
Like foam-bells from the tide--

And thou art now a spirit pouring
Thy presence into all--
The essence of the Tempest's roaring
And of the Tempest's fall--

A universal influence
From thine own influence free;
A principle of life, intense,
Lost to moratality.

Thus truly when that breast is cold
Thy prisoned soul shall rise,
The dungeon mingle with the mould--
The captive with the skies.

(--Emily Bronte (July 6, 1841), from the Honresfeld Manuscript)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Update on my Bronte exhibit.

Just when I had everything from my collection all ready to be displayed I found out that the key to the glass cabinet did NOT work!! This is so frustrating! Now they've called the carpenters to come and fix the lock. I only hope it won't be long.

The other option is for me to leave my precious objects inside the cabinet in the hope that no decent person will attempt to steal any of it. But I don't know if I can afford to take that risk. My collections are really valuable to me.

Considering I don't have much time and Charlotte's birthday is in a few weeks, I really want to get the word about the Brontes out there as soon as I can. Many people have remarked on the finger puppets and I am sure they'll enjoy the other items including the Angrian book.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jane enough?

I haven't seen any other movie starring Rachael Leigh Cook other than "She's All That" so I can't speak for her acting, but I was wondering if she could potentially be cast as Jane. In terms of appearance she seems elfish, little and pale enough....and could appear plainer with make up.
Writing Tip

I wrestled with writing a Wuthering Heights paper recently. It turned out that my trouble was that I didn't seperate myself from the characters enough. In other words, I was more involved with them than about them.
The trick I learnt, when writing formal papers on material one professes to understand well enough , is that one must involve themselves with the characters only to a certain extent because it is important to step out and observe as an outsider.