the lisp of affinity

‘When you have seen that of which you are capable, when you have stood in blood long enough, what is there left but to wade to a desolate shore, away from all others?’ -The Creature, Penny Dreadful

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What is there but poetry to guide the ignorant towards enlightenment? For without that invocation of literary want we are surely fated to damnation.

It is my belief that popular culture’s appropriation of the monster figure into the media has the effect of demeaning the integrity of gothic villains and the writers’ intents for them.  In this respect, i draw focus to what has and always will be my favourite character, Frankenstein’s creature. Since James Whales’ Frankenstein (1931) the vision of Shelley’s monster has become distorted, and he remains so today as the creature who mumbles, but does not speak, who is mindless and above all, blank eyed with bolts in his neck. All in all, this is a representation that functions as the antithesis of who the creature is, and it doesn’t half grind my bolts to see him altered through this arguably perverse characterisation.

The quote above is taken from the creature’s dialogue in the Showtime TV series, Penny Dreadful. Here, John Logan positions the creature directly alongside Shelley’s vision of the monster and for this i commend him greatly. The language alone is enough to convey the fragility of the Creature’s condition that is so often overlooked. It is eloquent, learned and above all literate. This is a creature who has been educated through stories from the romantics and poetry enlivened through soft tongues. His sense of humanity is founded on the easy self-expression of emotion through fire-light words that radiate and breathe. So when this is pierced by livid tongues that dispel the essence of beauty, he becomes rotten to the world, because even he is too monstrous for a society he has merely tasted but can never be apart of.

It comes as no surprise that the Creature is often infantilised and thus traumatised as his will is bent by the violent actions which form his first experiences. In ignorance he replicates what he learns externally, but is caught out in confusion when his violence oversteps a line he is unaware exists. As time goes on, he believes he has formed relationships only to be deceived and his negative perception of the world, proved.

If we go back to the quote, the metaphor for having ‘stood in blood’ is inherently literal, but more importantly, it is an allegory for the creature’s need of religious acceptance. The image of the creature standing in blood and wading to the shore causes water and blood to be directly linked, which is also mirrored within the Bible, concerning Jesus. During the Last Supper Jesus turns the water to wine, telling his disciples to think of the wine as representing his blood. It therefore stands as a reminder of his self-sacrifice. In the epistles of John 1:7, it is said that ‘the blood of Jesus purifies us from every sin.’ In this moment, the creature unconsciously reveals his deepest desires: to be christened in the eyes of God and accepted by Jesus. In addition, Jesus is famously described as being able to walk on water. The creature must adversely ‘wade’ through the water, reminding us as an audience that he is merely mortal. This is supposed to humanise the creature, to highlight that he is not the animal or monster society within Frankenstein would have us believe. On the other hand, he is also connecting himself with the other characters to highlight the degeneracy of humanity in its ability to condemn and punish man against man, rather than uniting the religious image of a wholesome brotherhood. Just as the creature is a character who has sinned, so is every other human, imbued with original sin (and so the argument is expanded further through countless academic papers).

Regardless of the many other connotations that can be made here, what i hope to have demonstrated is that Shelley’s Frankenstein is a heavy contextualised piece of literature that holds a necessarily intrusive and yet sensitive exploration into societal changes and fears whilst raising philosophically demanding questions about the human condition.

I cannot deny that there are criticisms against the novel; however it is worth remembeing that Frankenstein’s creature is not a character to be mocked or twisted but to be learned from, even 200 years on when aspects of his growth still challenge our identity.

Sometimes, when i’m alone, i will cry. I will cry because i am reading how he struggles for self-expression. I will cry because he lives in a world with sight, but where everyone else is blind.

I will cry and not feel ashamed.

 

 

numb

I’ve forgotten how it felt to have my lungs hump against my ribcage.

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There was a time when my tears ran rapids along duvet formations, but now they’ve crystallised, become as blank as the scripts i’m failing to start. I’ve become an on/off switch that triggers like seasons, finding myself saying, this is supposed to hurt. But it doesn’t. The next time i open my mouth to laugh i am reminding myself it’s not real, that this isn’t hitting the nail on the head of my heart, not like it used to. So when i sit down, looking at the ocean or facing down my food, i am forcing myself to think creatively, to look beyond ordinary perception; i’ve become blind to that sensation. All that is, simply is. It seems that secondary value of literary license has failed to make it past the the passing of the polling card.

Just a pawn in a political stratagem.

I am no longer the God to my will, simply puppet to the drill of stoicism repeated in blows. Replicate. what. you. know.

What i know?

That weakness is my sin; stand straight, stand proud, stand abject to the crowd. This is your mantra. Don’t let the bastards get you down, because if you do you’re going to drown.

Screaming.

From within.

I am conflicted. Irrational thoughts are like hair clogged drains strangling my membrane. There’s a giant finger pressing against my spine, and now i’m a spot ready to burst, waiting until i poole into the cement to be swept away by treads of rubber taking me away until i’ve been stretched from point to point, a murder track connected by pale nerve endings.

Most of all i am a voodoo doll with invisible pain receptors. Cut me and i’ll bleed stuffing. Stab me, i’ll say nothing. And yet still i’ll smile because i am a doll and dolls do not feel.

 

Shelley’s Literary Monster

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I am writing a letter because my silence has been grated and i am tiring of the absence. I am a page left curling against the heat of pigeon-winged coal, guided only by typographic strings that bar the way to speaking out. And these pages are no longer strong but weak, like tissue that’s been held for too long in a sweaty palm. I am nervous. Anxious. Brains have become clouds, translucent and vague but ever so easy to cut through with the metal of a jumbo jet blade. Emotionally traumatised, physically unhinged. Where was i? A crumpled ball of paper hurled at yellow talons.

A new, ivory slice presents itself before me. The ink is wet. It wants to touch, to taste, to stain the page. Am i the one to imbue life through these lines? Will i give birth through the scoring of black arteries, hoping to see the words thrum and the punctuation to rise and fall; literate lungs, syntactically stitched. When i colour you in with phonetic prostrations will you murmur and wail like a child, grappling with speech? Will my emotive language punch a heart into the fabric of your being?

But despite all these things i will leave you blind, save for the knowledge of my relations, frustrations. You will learn from the whispered entries of my publicly dialled down thoughts and know only the misfortune of the private appearance, hidden and scarred. Scarred and ignorant. You are the side effect i created by chance.

 

 

RAGE.

Stress and rage move hand in hand, they are dancers in a ring of roses, made only out of thorns.

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I am a beacon and out flows lines of ebony that crease under the strain of gravity, telling me to lower my volume. When i want to break out i am hushed by the silence of the room closing in, saying shush now child in that patronising tone that gives leave to my authority as speaker. I’m wearing a collar of words, stemming the breath that is trying to escape. I am intoxicated by carbon dioxide dreams lulling me towards goodbye.

What brings on the frustration that manages to filter through the crevices of my mind? Pressing against my temples like piercings along a spine? This is a constraint upon my thought process; i am no longer all seeing but half blinded by confusion and despair. Everything seems awry while weight after weight lays me down to rest in a grove with no willing protection against the fall of raindrops, pressing me to the earth. But i can no longer resist the power of nature, drawing me into her through incantations of an easier path where we no longer need worry about trivialities, about society and constructing identity as if it was the one true meaning of life. To work towards working and working towards more work. Is this the cycle we are doomed to recite in this live, die, repeat-VR game-world-structure? There is no pause, no second chance. So where do we stand when the blankets have suffocated our dreams and the smallest words seem to shatter our nerves?

All that remains is us, an expanse of crops, pulled too early and trembling because we have been abused by the time spent musing over rules of what we have been made to think is important but not what makes us free. To stress is to feel as barren as the ocean when coral reefs have fallen to ashes. It is to feel like water slowly boiling in a pan, knowing that soon, we will burst.

Something New

Touching you is new.

Touching you is like sticking my tongue in a plug socket just to feel the rush of static on my breath.

Touching you is like colliding against the pavement at 3am in the morning, when I’m off my tits on booze but having a bloody great time anyway.

Touching you is like being soaked in baby oil

And our movements are fluid as we ascend the waterfall of our greatest dreams.

Touching you is having my body bleed into the sheets as you push me under

Feeling enveloped as if 20 puppies were suffocating me through their own formidable cuteness.

Touching you is sensual, even when it’s not supposed to be.

 

Hugging you is new.

Hugging you is like falling into the sand only to emerge with seaweed lining my eyes.

Hugging you is like breathing again after having stood fear stricken waiting until that spider I’ve been staring at for over half an hour has finally waltzed away, back to the depths of hell.

 

Kissing you is like blowing out birthday candles in July.

Kissing you is like opening a brand new book and inhaling like it’s my own brand of cocaine.

Backtrack, kissing you, kissing me, you’re my personal brand of heroin and we’re making a transfusion of our own DNA.

 

Loving you is like waiting for that voluptuous baked potato to finish roasting in the oven, lips coveting fragile pleasures to wait.

 

But when I can’t kiss you, there’s a paper doll masquerading in my way.

When I can’t hug you I am a loose wire touched by wet hands, feeling abused by the angry voices cursing my name.

When I can’t touch you I am sticking my tongue into plug sockets, waiting, but getting struck.

 

Loving you is like watching my mother’s dog being driven away and never knowing where he spent his last days. It is as hard as my head on the pavement when my drunken thoughts have sent you off and I can smell Subway mixed with sodden dismay.

 

But loving you is like stepping into a lecture hall naked and laughing because to hell with social norms.

Loving you is caring the way I cry when a seagull has fucked off with my chips.

 

Loving you is new.

 

Child of Mine

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Don’t upset the child that waits within. She clusters close to the pane that offers hope, but is often obscure, like the breath of a ghost. Her cries are without symphony, they’re mangled and maimed like a deer in the woods with a beat that suffers slower and slower. I write rhythms not rhymes she cries, oh she whines. She is not silent and yet she is, she is a contradiction with no reason to her actions, she just is. She is constant, but ever changing; did I say she was simple?

The girl is the wing man to your night, the stock character hidden from the plot line. She is secondary; she is emotion, so volatile she must be upbraided, snuffed out as a candle dripping on flesh for the sake of a cheap thrill.

I’m scared to let out the child. She is the inner me, the necessary component lighting my nerves so i’m no longer just a robot programmed to act without feeling. And it’s truly terrifying.  I want to bare my feelings like my body, to have it caressed and comforted the way it is stimulated. But i must be blank, empty as an ink cartridge, careful not to print the wrong thing; it’s not what you ordered. If i open up like these parting legs would you enter into this cavern with me? Could you find me along the folds of our sheets to hold my hand close? Because sometimes a smile is not enough to hold it in. And when we embraced my body was open but so was the window to the girl climbing out. Her foot is hooked on a hold i cannot shake and here i’m left ready to show you what i am, beneath this barrier of flesh, just a child needing help and assurance.

But with a cry you turn from my face- this is not what you expected.

Please don’t leave, i didn’t mean to go too deep. Just forget it all, let’s go back to just you and me, the lock and the key, this function so simple how could we be anything but free? Lets be slaves to our bodies, crushing together in a cycle of lust. We can lie like we’re one and pretend it’s fun! Oh the fun. All the fun.

So much fun.

2016

Ask for my story.

I’ll hand it in a casket

and you’ll take it to the grave;

Or even a pawn shop,

where you’ll make a living

out of my porcelain words.

But first, let me wrap it up in a

carmine cast of my withered

brain, forget

the bow, I’ll lace it with vervain.

I’m caustic to the bone,

a wind up doll

ready to explode.

Baby you’re a quick

fuck but I’m a bucking bronco,

and I’ll bang you back home.

You’re lamenting on the endings,

but here we are again,

waiting for that final bong to

blow me out a tick tock tune like-

will you light my final spliff, friend?

I’m the sucker punch to the gut,

the crack in the nuts,

and best of all I can never be snuffed.

So when I can be assed to

break with a laugh

(hahaha oh how i’ll laugh)

remember this: I’m part of history

in a wonderland world of ignominy

and regret, but i’m sure to beset

the minds of the millions in years to come

and then who will have won, when my memory

remains and the disdain is sustained?

 

 

*Well done 2016*

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