My Passage to India

Back from India and what an excellent experience! I hesitate to say crazy because somehow I wasn’t shocked at all, everything was just as i had pictured it. So many people had raved about how crazy it was, the pollution, the bustle, the noise, the crowds, the lack of health & safety and the list goes on to include just about every opposite quality of the west.  Of course, in true developing third world fashion, the extreme poverty is modestly off-set by the not so modest marvels of luxury hotels, restaurants and bars complete with exceptional first-calss service.  Then again, with every statement about the country, there is an aspect of india to contradict it, so the best way to describe it is to say that it is absolutely everything, just with fewer white people.


Naturally, my first venture to India had to be accompanied by E.M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India’, which presents some rather incisive comments on the British colonisation of the country with wider explorations as to the fundamental incompatibilities of two cultures. Upon my return, in keeping with the region, I have also gotten through the engaging and quick read of Aravind Adiga’s ‘The White Tiger’, which I recommend as a kind of modern day assessment of Indian mentality and life in contrast with the comparative order of the West.

Published in: on November 30, 2009 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wasp Factory – Signs & Symbols, Systems & Processes

All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in. The strong make their patterns and influence other people’s, the weak have their courses mapped out for them. The weak and the unlucky, and the stupid. The Wasp Factory is part of the pattern because it is part of life and – even more so – part of death. Like life it is complicated, so all the components are there. The reason it can answer questions is because every question is a start looking for an end, and the Factory is about the End – death, no less. Keep your entrails and sticks and dice and books and birds and voices and pendants and all the rest of that crap; I have the Factory, and it’s about now and the future; not the past. –pp.117-8

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 4:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wasp Factory – Children; the sexless

I killed little Esmerelda because I felt I owed it to myself and to the world in general. I had, after all, accounted for two male children and thus done womankind something of a statistical favour. If I really had the courage of my convictions, I reasoned, I ought to redress the balance at least slightly. My cousin was simply the easiest and most obvious target.
  Again, I bore her no personal ill-will. Children aren’t real people, in the sense that they are not small males and females but a separate species which will (probably) grow into one or the other in due time. Younger children in particular, before the insidious and evil influence of society and their parents have properly got to them, are sexlessly open and hence perfectly likeable. –p.87

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm  Comments (1)  

The Wasp Factory – UFOs to the Less Logical and Less Imaginative

I remembered once, in the middle of summer two years ago, when I was coming down the path in the late dusk after a day’s walking in the hills beyond the town, I saw in the gathering night strange lights, shifting in the air over and far beyond the island. They wavered and moved uncannily, glinting and shifting and burning in a heavy, solid way no thing should in the air. I stooped and watched them for a while, training my binoculars on them and seeming, now and again in the shifting images of light, to discern structures around them. A chill passed through me then and my mind raced to reason out what I was seeing. I glanced quickly about in the gloom, and then back to those distant, utterly silent towers of flickering flame. They hung there in the sky like faces of fire looking down on the island, like something waiting.
  Then it came to me, and I knew.
  A mirage, a reflection of layers on air out to sea. I was watching the gas-flares of oil-rigs maybe hundreds of kilometers away, out in the North Sea. Looking again at those dim shapes around the flame, they did appear to be rigs, vaguely made out in their own gassy glare. I went on my way happy after that – indeed, happier that I had been before I had seen the strange apparitions – and it occurred to me that somebody both less logical and less imaginative would have jumped to the conclusion that what they had seen were UFOs. –p.86

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm  Comments (2)  

The Wasp Factory – The Technicolor Yawn

Christ, I was about to do the Technicolor Yawn all over this girl’s jacket, through the tears and rusting her zips and filling her pockets…
  ‘Want a fag?’ the girl said, shoving a packet up past my nose towards Jamie. I was seeing trails and lights from the blue packet’s passing even after she brought it back down…I saw the lighter go up, igniting in front of my eyes in a shower of sparks like a fireworks display. I could almost feel my occipital lobe fusing. –p.77

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wasp Factory – Control

I think there is a secret in the study. He had hinted as much more than once, just vaguely, just enough to entice me so that I want to ask what, so that he knows that I want to ask. I don’t ask, of course, because I wouldn’t get any worthwhile answer. If he did tell me anything it would be a pack of lies, because obviously the secret wouldn’t be secret any more if he told me the truth, and he can feel, as I do, that my increasing maturity he needs all the holds over me he can get; I’m not a child any more. Only these little bits of bogus power enable him to think he is in control of what he sees as the correct father-son relationship. It’s pathetic really, but with his little games and his secrets and his hurtful remarks he tries to keep his security intact. –p.16

  ‘I’m not sleeping.’
  ‘You’re not sleeping?’
  ‘Of course not. You don’t have to sleep. That’s just something they tell you to keep control over you. Nobody has to sleep; you’re taught to sleep when you’re a kid. If you’re really determined, you can get over it. I’ve got over the need to sleep. I never sleep now. That way it’s a lot easier to keep watch and make sure they don’t creep up on you, and you can keep going as well. Nothing like keeping going. You become like a ship.’-pp.59-60

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Wasp Factory – Women and the Sea

My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made. And I’m not all that sure the Wind is blameless, either.
  The Sea is a sort of mythological enemy, and I make what you might call sacrifices to it in my soul, fearing it a little, respecting it as you’re supposed to, but in many ways treating it as an equal. It does things to the world, and so do I; we should both be feared. Women… well, women are a bit too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned. I don’t even like having them on the island, not even Mrs Clamp, who comes every week on a Saturday to clean the house and deliver our supplies. She’s ancient and sexless the way the very old and the very young are, but she’s still been a woman, and I resent that, for my own good reason. –pp.43-44

Don’t quite see what Frank’s issue is…
Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 2:50 pm  Comments (3)  

The Wasp Factory – God’s Creatures

  ‘I hope you weren’t out killing any of God’s creatures.’
  I shrugged at him again. Of course I was out killing things. How the hell am I supposed to get heads and bodies for the Poles and the Bunker if I don’t kill things? There just aren’t enough natural deaths. You can’t explain that sort of thing to people, though. –p.13

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm  Comments (1)  

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

The narrator of Banks’ novel is an incredibly intriguing and disturbing specimen of a character.  There are a couple core elements to this book that really interest me.  The first I suppose being the intricacy of Frank’s self-constructed world, with all its bizarre rituals and processes which we gradually get drawn deeper into.  Then there is the sheer disturbing creativity of it all as we witness Frank’s crimes and understand the devilishly logical thought processes behind them.  But I suppose what really intrigued me was the occasionally beautiful yet sinisterly succinct and perhaps almost at times feminine passages of prose which are juxtaposed against the cruelty and disturbing subject matter of teenager Frank Cauldhame’s life. It’s all just so oddly calibrated.

My father’s leg, locked solid, has given me my sanctuary up in the warm space of the big loft, right at the top of the house where the junk and the rubbish are, where the dust moves and the sunlight slants and the Factory sits – silent, living and still. –p.10


Clouds were coming in off the sea, closing the sky like a door and trapping the day’s heat over the island. Thunder rumbled on the other side of the hills, without light. I slept fitfully, lying sweating and tossing and turning on my bed, until a bloodshot dawn rose over the sands of the island. –p.157

The breaks in the cloud overhead were moving slowly inland as I walked back up the path towards the town. It was dark for half-seven, a summery gloom of soft light everywhere over the dry land. A few birds stirred themselves lethargically as I went past. Quite a few were perching on the wires of the telephone line snaking its way to the island on skinny poles. Sheep made their ugly, broken noises, little lambs bleated back. Birds sat on barbed-wire fences farther on, where the snagged tufts of dirty wool showed the sheep trails underneath…I sighed and kept on walking, through the slowly diminishing dunes and past the rough fields and straggle pastureland. –p.166

Perverse Pastoral?

Published in: on November 9, 2009 at 2:28 pm  Comments (1)