littlewonder2

Little wonder we stumble in life.


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If Harry Potter Had Been Depressed Like The Other Teens I Know Instead of the Kind of Depressed that He, Harry, Was

This is gorgeous. Things to think about…

The Niche

Having the main character deal with every single problem by staying in bed does not make for a very exciting book set in a magical world. So, I totally understand why Harry dealt with his mental illness by going out and saving bunches of people whenever he could.

But the thing is, he wasn’t mentally ill like the teenagers I know. This kid just wanted to play sports all the time and win a group award at the end of every year that was based on points for good behavior. Instead, he got all sorts of disorders because: adults. It’s a wonder he wasn’t in therapy by the time he was fifteen. He was abused his entire childhood. And then he killed his (admittedly evil) professor with his bare hands when he was eleven. He got a giant snake fang through his arm the year after that. He had bunches of PTSD inducing…

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Have You Ever Thought About Ghost Stories?

This post is planned to be published before season 4 of Sherlock is released.

So recently, I’ve just finished reading the full Sherlock Holmes canon as an extension of my BBC Sherlock obsession, looking to further my knowledge and scope on the area. You can thank my latest obsession with the TJLC Explained videos on YouTube for this, which led me to as much meta (essays etc.) on historical and narrative context as to her video meta analysing the show.

One such meta claimed ghost stories are gay stories, and that was the one that really took me further away from the show and the original canon, and took me towards the actual tradition the canon came from. As in, now it’s not even about Sherlock Holmes; it’s about every narrative corresponding to the genre, the period that so much as reflects that tradition, and about queer coding within that setting and genre.

Through this meta, I’ve discovered Benson and M.R. James, both of which are writers that Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss is a fan of, I have plans to read Carmilla, and I’ve recently read Jekyll and Hyde. As well as all this, I have also discovered Rosamund Marriott Watson, because she has been referenced by Sherlock writer, Steven Moffat, when he announced in a real newspaper that John and Mary’s child carries a similar name to her:

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Rosamund Marriott Watson was a poet, although I haven’t read much of what she’s written so far. The Bird-Bride is one of the poems I have read, though, and there is some significance to it.

Some members of TJLC (The Johnlock Conspiracy) claim the reasoning behind naming the child after this poet is because her poetry reflect John and Mary’s situation: because they are set to have a rocky marriage in season 4, naming their child after a poet who commonly writes poems of marriage troubles is particularly telling.

All these expanded interests started with the show, extended to the canon, then extended again to the period and the genre. That was the starting point for this new interest, and they have led me into the territory of recognising particular metaphors that seem particular to the Victorian period. Metaphors like watermirrors, and keys, some of which have been explained by TJLC Explained. These first two are more major themes in TJLC, the latter being a more minor but no less important metaphor. It isn’t just BBC Sherlock or the original canon which holds these metaphors: I’ve seen them in the Benson story, A Tale of an Empty House (the title itself seems reminiscent of the Holmes story, The Adventure of the Empty House), and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Metaphors like this have some grounding in Freudian theory, as it has been said that at least water in dreams has a symbolic meaning that carries a message to conscious mind. However, Freudian theory wasn’t published until at least 1895, in the middle of Holmes and Watson’s relationship.

There are a fair amount of mirrors in BBC Sherlock’s Hounds of Baskerville. Three in particular stuck out to me. First, in Henry Knight’s kitchen, when Sherlock first suggests going out onto the Hollow, we see Henry and Sherlock both dressed in similar colours, especially blue, and in that same scene, there is a mirror image of Henry on the far left of the screen in at least two shots. Further to that, we see many circles (from lens flare) in this episode, and this indicates emotion. It can perhaps be concluded that this emotion is what links them as mirrors, especially as the both later suffer the same fear on the moor.

Later, when they go out on the Hollow, Henry brings up Sherlock and John’s relationship, relating it to that of his father and Frankland’s relationship. We can take this as a further mirror that Sherlock is meant to stand for Henry’s father, and Frankland for someone else. If we follow Henry’s comparison, we can conclude that Frankland is John, and that these relationships are linked because there’s something unspoken between both of them. But by the conclusion of the episode, we discover that Frankland killed Henry’s father for this secret, and that he stands not for John, but Moriarty: we know this because Sherlock sees him in the fog, before his mind clears and he sees Frankland. This probably indicates that Sherlock is afraid of his relationship with John because he’s afraid of Moriarty taking him away.

Second, there’s Louise Mortimer. She is seen on at least two separate occasions wearing a different red dress, and then when Henry starts hallucinating that he’s being chased by the dog, we see a flash of red eyes, and the mirror is broken ― literally. And we see her, not the hunter but the hunted, and Henry is revealed as the monster. Dr Mortimer never believed him, and perhaps condescended him in the session we saw with them together. But she also told John, “You’re only a nutter if you’re wrong,” so perhaps she had knowledge or suspicions beyond what we knew. In the original canon, she definitely did, but she kept it to herself for the sake of the man who eventually attacked her, who in this version is Henry himself. So in both versions, she is perhaps not a mirror for the hound, simply connected to him. And in fact, Frankland, who is seen frequently hanging about with a watchful eye, interrupts her conversation with John in order to avoid exposure.

The final mirrors were the Cross Keys innkeepers mirroring John and Sherlock, especially in the scene when they and Lestrade were interviewing them. We first see Sherlock through a mirror beside which John is seen staring, though not perhaps at Sherlock as it at first appears, and then two separate mirrors aligning Sherlock with Billy the chef, and John with Gary (the Scot). Rebekah from TJLC Explained has said that they are the version of John and Sherlock who are together because they openly communicate with each other.  It’s obvious from the chefs glances at his partner that this isn’t just verbal communication, although John and Sherlock too communicate this way. The Cross Keys couple also mirror John and Sherlock through clothes, but in lighter colours.

We first see Sherlock in the mirror making coffee, but the mirror seems to be behind John, and we assume he’s staring at Sherlock. If he isn’t, the implication is that he appears to be more aware of Sherlock than he really is, and this could extend to their relationship too, and how they feel for each other. Then, we see John drinking the coffee to humour Sherlock, to make him feel better about their recent fight. The fact that these mirrors come so soon after Sherlock’s attempts to push John away is particularly telling: it says that they need to communicate more, to be honest about how they feel about each other. Sherlock gives John the coffee as what John assumes is a peace offering and what is really an experiment; they’re not there yet. But at least John is trying.

Through analysing this show and other narratives, I’m working towards being a better writer myself. And in fact, this isn’t my first time studying Victorian literature. I’ve also read a ghost story by another Victorian writer with the last name James, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I fondly remember learning to craft a Jamesian sentence. You start with what’s called a meta-reflection, which is actually an impression. Then you move it forward with an action. And finally, you slow the pace with a conclusion that combines impression with true action.

For example: ‘A figure ー as if conjured by the light that burst across the sky ーsuddenly appeared, and I stood stock still has he came towards me, his ghostly pale flesh visible through an almost completely unbuttoned shirt, his dark eyes boring into me, punctuating each step with a pause before continuing until my back pressed against the hard wall and my heart fluttered in my chest.’

The above sentence is of my own making, but it is following the Jamesian sentence structure. 

Meta-reflection: “A figure ー as if conjured by the light that burst across the sky ー”
Action: “suddenly appeared, and I stood stock still has he came towards me”
Conclusion: “his ghostly pale flesh visible through an almost completely unbuttoned shirt, his dark eyes boring into me, punctuating each step with a pause before continuing until my back pressed against the hard wall and my heart fluttered in my chest.”
James, and Victorian writers in general, are said to have been fans of long, complex sentences, and James was a obvious example of this trend. Frequently, he also liked to use complex punctuation such as dashes and semicolons too, but he also frequently extended sentences with commas, as I have done here.

Ghost stories, like novels, like fanfiction, were the time’s underappreciated literary form. According to the above link, “We are part of the long tradition of women writing and being told their writing is not real and does not matter, that the things we love and value are worthless and foolish, for so long that we even begin to believe it.”

And this is something I’ve believed for a while, but I also believed myself capable of proving myself good enough anyway, though I’ve not believed my own skill level to be “there yet”. Although the above link is about fanfiction, as is my accompanying remark, how do you think novel writers or ghost story writers of the past felt? Not good enough? But even if so, they still followed their passion, because they needed to, at least for themselves. If ghost story writers added queer code, or anything else apart from the norm, it’s because they needed to subvert the norm, to write something that they saw themselves reflected in, as I do. So I will continue to think about these underappreciated art forms, and to learn from them. Because, I believe, I am one of them.


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Last Request

A life, unlived, was about to end.

She lay on her deathbed, the wound too deep to heal. She thought maybe she was diseased — maybe always had been — and she was just too afraid to pass that disease on to anyone else.

Maria walked in. The woman who she had spent so long watching, quietly pining for, the woman she had secretly fallen in love with. That had been the worst thing of all, because she had never asked for it, never wanted it. But at least she could say that they were friends.

She closed her eyes, unable to look at her. She forced out slow breaths, heart pounding as it broke. Just seeing her broke her, and that old desire rose up in her again. She would die, die, without even the simplest touch. It was more than she could bare.

“Beth?”

She opened her eyes. Those dark brown eyes instantly melted into hers, concern and love written softly in them.

“Kiss me,” said Beth before she could stop herself. A lifetime of repressed desires was released in that one sentence. Yet she felt cold with fear. Surely Maria would never understand… she had really destroyed everything now, blown up their whole relationship.

Maria looked at her in surprise, and Beth squeezed her eyes closed, unable to look at her. She couldn’t watch her love and life fall apart at what Maria would do next.

For a moment, there was silence. Beth thought perhaps Maria had already left. Then she felt a soft pressure on her lips. It was actually happening!

Her eyes shocked open, and Beth pressed her lips back in return, savouring the brief feeling. Finally, Maria broke away.

“You kissed me,” said Beth, still shocked.

“You’re an idiot,” said Maria. “All you ever had to do was ask. I was waiting.”

“You… were… You… love…” Beth paused, barely able to voice it.

“You,” said Maria at the same time that Beth said, “Me?”

Maria smiled. “Yes.”

“Too little, too late,” Beth smiled sadly.

“Not at all. You got your last kiss,” said Maria.

“First,” Beth corrected her. 

Maria smiled wider. “Well, we’ll just have to remedy that.” And she kissed her again.


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Write to Done prompt: Too Young

She pulled him into the snow-covered field. He stopped every few steps, resisting, confused.

“Come ON, Ryan!”

“What are we doing here?” he said.

“They can’t see us here. There’s something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile…”

She leaned forward, looking absolutely like a child, and kissed him on the lips. He didn’t move.

“Sarah… I’m too old for you.”

“Is that why you wouldn’t kiss me back?”

“No one can know about this. It would ruin me.”

“Why?”

“You’re too young.”

Prompt found here.


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World History and its Narrative Discourse

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Crash Course history, both World and US. And it seems to me that, although the channel does focus on history outside America, such as on history in the Middle East and Asia, there is still something of an exclusivity involved.

While watching World History, I gave some thought to the fact that they gave Africa only three episodes on World History 1 & 2 (72 episodes overall), one episode on Latin America, and no episodes on Australia or New Zealand, or even Canada. And then they dedicate a history course to America in detail; according to John [Green], not because of Euro-centrism, but because it is a major world power and thus relevant to all. Yet I can’t help but wonder how much of that is really national pride at least partly to the exclusion of outside perspectives. I mean, certainly nothing is written or thought of in a vacuum, and a little passion for your country is of course allowed. But would John have even considered dedicating a course to another country, say China, in more detail? I bet if he was born there, he would; I myself would certainly do a course on Australian history if I were a Crash Course history host. Perhaps there simply isn’t demand, but wouldn’t learning the histories of countries not our own broaden our minds the same way learning languages in school does? So shouldn’t we do that more?

History is great not just for learning the past but also understanding the present, something I didn’t really appreciate until Crash Course history. The historical context of Austen’s novels, for example: the fact that women’s roles were to become wives speaks even to today’s attitudes towards women. At my sister’s wedding, I remember someone off-handedly joking about how all that was left was to “marry off the other one,” not even to mention my new brother-in-law’s conservative views. I think Austen’s novels were perhaps an exploration on under what circumstances she might get married, divorced to her reality, and her female protagonists were also perhaps explorations of her own character as well. But apart from all that, it was often in Crash Course US History that I thought recurring themes still relevant today, particularly on the topics of prejudice and freedom, were quite interesting as well.

When I was in school, I learned Australian history so much, that by high school I was so sick of it that I would’ve been glad for anything else, especially as what I was taught was practically exclusively early colonisation of Australia and about Aboriginees. So when I entered The American International School, I grasped gladly to American history. But these are the only two histories I was taught; yet I was also taught French, Spanish, Japanese and Italian, not to mention briefly Indonesian at some point, throughout school too. I believe learning languages in school is compulsory in order to teach children to be more open minded about other cultures. However, why isn’t history treated the same way? Why is it so largely exclusionary, at least in my experience? We should learn the histories not only of our own countries, but of others as well. And don’t tell me that’s what World History is for; that should really be the starting point to learn more. World History, it seems both in Crash Course and across other courses, is really at the moment more like the General Knowledge of history: a special interest course but ultimately useless. History, however, isn’t useless, and in order to become more rounded individuals, perhaps we need to think more carefully about the stories we tell each other, even the non-fictional ones.

This has led me once again into the fantasy of what education could be. Perhaps you could learn World History (well) in primary school, and then in high get a specific-country elective (ie the country is elective, not the class), for one continent per school year. By the end, then you’d get an overall understanding of world history as background, and specific country histories as an expansion of that. Another step towards the ideal plan.

Another thing about the historical story that we tell is that it always starts with the history of the dominant peoples rather than the original natives. No doubt this is that bias of what is “our” history opposed to their history, “their” meaning the natives. But is it bias that leads us to focus on this, or does the excuse of easy access have some sway here? In my opinion, uneasy access to references from the past of other people isn’t necessarily an excuse not to teach it () know what’d make it more accessible? More initiative to research it), unless there’s so little reference that it would mean that everything is speculation and not fact. I think that this isn’t the truth in many cases, though. If history is what’s written, does that mean what isn’t written can never be known? Archaeology, oral traditions, living descendants, cultural art; even in written historical periods, it is always possible, even likely, to have other resources, even if the way history’s taught now might give us the opposite impression. Maybe I don’t know much at all about what resources are available, but I do know what I want to see, and that is a balance, even an unequal one, between all the peoples involved in a particular story, not just the victors.

I believe in any kind of storytelling, both comedy and tragedy are essential. Comedies uplift our spirit, and tragedies teach us to be more self aware. Both mind and spirit are essentials to becoming more wellrounded human beings, but in particular, tragedies, even ones that only reached individuals and not society as a whole, are perhaps more particular to history. Because, just like tragedies, histories serve to teach us about ourselves and our society. It’s just that we’re fortunate enough for our society not to have led to tragic ends, on the whole. And things are continuing to get better into the modern age, which is where comedy comes in: to give us hope for the future.


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Feat of Facebook

She stared at her phone screen, and it glowed against her eyes as she took in her image on her facebook site. People were always telling her she needed to be more active on it, that they wanted to see her more, but everytime she went on, she felt this sinking feeling.

She was an embarrassment. Every time she saw her picture, everytime she posted something or commented on something, she felt it. She should just shut down the whole site and run away from this whole internet interaction. At least when she was around people, she didn’t feel so self-conscious. She was thinking about the other person, not herself. But these days, whenever she was around people, they were always on the phones. It pissed her off.

But more than that, it made her afraid. Afraid, because if she was forced to come back here again and again, forced through these jarring interactions, she would expose herself too much, show people her real self, and they… they would tear her apart for it. People were about as gossipy and ruthless as she was ashamed for her differences and the body that hides them. Because that’s what she saw, looking at her photo. A face, a body that represents a whole. A smile so still it appears fake, the body too exposed by the clothes wrapped around it. Legs filled with sexual presence, arms filled with vulnerability, face belying too much sorrow. Everything too exposed, as she stretched on the grass, reading.

The book revealed too much, too, for those who knew. And there was those who knew, had to be. Catcher In The Rye, the book about Holden Caulfield, the character everyone she knew hated, who she alone loved because she felt like she knew him, was walking around in his life, in his skin. She could tell no one else this, but here was the evidence. She tapped edit, then choose facebook photo. She had to show a different self, she couldn’t be that girl, who looked their nose down on everyone and hated them; she knew it was all in her head. At least, she needed to show them a different her.

She scrolled through her pictures, saw pictures of her with friends, family… lots of scenery; she liked to keep the focus off herself… places she’d been, things she’d done… “I don’t know…” she sighed. She picked one close by, that was good enough. She stood by the side of the frame, crowded by a restaurant her family had taken her too. It was an unintentional shot by her brother, just as she was turned towards him. He had uploaded it with relish, telling her, too, that she didn’t have enough photos up on facebook. But part of her remained certain he did it just to embarrass her. Little brothers are so cruel sometimes.

She knew there was nothing particularly wrong in this picture, but her hair was too messy, her eyes too bright, and she tapped back. Find another photo… she thought, and kept scrolling.

Out of desperation, she almost chose a plate of food, if only to obscure her face, but she knew how that would look to the outside world; it would look like she was hiding. And from a world that demanded her presence, she knew that wouldn’t do, so she continued down.

Finally she found it, a group shot from school where she was reasonably hidden in a sea of faces. They had all taken a picture in front of the library during free period, and she pictured right from the centre, surrounded by her group. She chose it, cropped it, and stared in satisfaction as her eyes flitted from Alex to Sara to Jessica, and all around at the friends surrounding her, avoiding her own face completely.

She exited the app. There, she thought. Maybe that oughta hold them a little while. It wasn’t a post, but she really had nothing to say, so she’d just have to think about it a while longer.

Partly inspired by this.