I am a reader and have been from the beginning of my literate life at 4 years old. Which means I have read an awful lot of books, literature of the English-speaking world with great literature—many by dead, white males—featuring prominently. Postmodernism leaves me cold and its premise that everything is relative is antithetical to Western civilization’s foundational absolutes: There is good and evil, and individual choices do matter.
Which means I usually avoid prize-winning novels because I disagree with the judges’ postmodern lens. A case in point is the magazine Granta, whose short stories I used to find interesting and thought-provoking; then it joined the postmodern parade and its stories are about victim after victim after victim—persecution because you are a woman; persecution because you are black; persecution because you are poor—and on and on ad nauseum. And the natural corollary is that everything Western is bad and all stories about second- and third-world protagonists are to take precedence in the publishing queue.
Well, I did not come from privilege money-wise, but I did come from the privilege of being born in the Western world and from being educated in why it’s the best of worlds devised by humans so far in our evolution. So I reject—and fight against—the left-liberal culture of tearing down the capitalistic, democratic structures that have been built and fought for over the centuries and trying to replace it with the socialistic, authoritarian structures that have failed miserably wherever they have been tried.
But I decided to overcome my usual reluctance and read the highly praised Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante. The praise was excessive but some of it came from writers or magazines that I respected. And I like sagas that take the reader on a journey through many years in the characters’ lives. So I began the journey of the friendship of Elena and Lila from girlhood through to old age. Their historical timeframe is identical to mine, so I could grow up alongside of them, experiencing the rapid changes in the world after the second world war, albeit with Elena and Lila living in the teeming slums of old Naples in Italy and me on the young prairies in Canada.
So the three of us—the protagonist, the friend and the reader—set sail on our lives through childhood, young womanhood, adults and finally seniors. The story kept me reading and there are compelling parts, but it goes on and on and on with the same things happening over and over until I wanted to shake Elena and tell her to move on from Lila. Lila is really quite repulsive in many ways and, unlike Elena, I couldn’t keep forgiving her and wait to be victimized one more time by my best friend. And guess what? They are all died-in-the-wool communists fighting hard for a better world. That’s really turned out great in Italy, eh?
It does reflect the on and on and on of life, but a novel by its very nature condenses life to show the reader some development in the
characters’ lives—some change for better or for worse. The relationship of Elena and Lila stayed the same, with Elena plugging away and achieving and with Lila stubbornly refusing to use her extraordinary intelligence for anything but flailing against the corruption endemic in Naples and making terrible personal choices over and over and over again. A reader is naturally sympathetic to the characters, or otherwise he/she would stop reading the novel, but despite trying to like Lila, she just irritated me. Then Elena irritated me even more because she kept making excuses for Lila’s stupid behaviour. And much of it was stupid—not bold or thoughtful or admirable—just stupid. And then at the end of all this misery, the author never does tell us what happened to Lila!
So I’ve read the four books, but to put it in the current vernacular, I unlike them.
Now, back to fashion fun
Black & white all over—a dramatic scheme that can be combined in hundreds of ways, and I do. Unlike so many fashionistas, black was not a primary choice of mine. I much preferred navy—like the French—and would have continued to but it’s often hard to find, especially at reasonable prices. Black is everywhere, all the time in all price ranges. Again unlike so many fashionistas, I always add a touch of white or another colour to black to leaven this sombre hue and dispel the shades of mourning black historically evokes, that is, for those of us of an older persuasion who are historically literate.
With just a few items in your closet, black & white outfits can be practically limitless. And a few of my are:
Pleather RL leggings and KM cardigan; black & white RL t-shirt, bracelet, shoes and barette; set off by my white three-strand necklace from Holt’s
or black Zara leggings; black & white RL t-shirt; white BB cardie, MK sneakers, purse and glasses; gold chainlink necklace, bracelet and belt for a more whimsical take on the same theme
or hang up the pants and put on a skirt, then add blue…
A striking combination I wore in the political trenches during the recent federal election in Canada was black and shocking pink: black pants by Theory, lacy top by RL with a shocking pink jacket by Zara, a rose for my hair, a wide cinch belt and ballet flats with a black bow. It provided a shock of colour in the drab surroundings of a campaign headquarters. Just because one is fighting the good fight against socialists and lefties doesn’t mean one has to be drab about it, eh?
Which takes me nicely into my next blog: our black & white parties.