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So obviously this blog is not only going to be about graffiti and hooliganism, they are merely two of the major events I thought about when beginning my remembrance of the week. This week, has in all, been much more cultured and appropriate for the world of the internet, and so i’ll start with the semi-serious subject of…wait for it… University! (You know, the purpose of me being here and what not.)
So I’m studying English Literature here at Unige, and as I stated last week, the campus is beautiful, but I didn’t really delve into the details of my classes due to only having been to introductory sessions. This semester, my classes are as follows.
  • Modern Intellectual History
  • Apocalyptic Fictions
  • Medieval Literature 800-1500
  • Chaucer’s Dream Visions
  • Introduction to English Literature 1500-1800
  • Restoration Poetry
  • Industrial Evils and Ideals
  • The Gothic Novel
  • French
Now, to me, this is a fascinating bit of information, but for those of you heathens who hate books, please feel free to move on from the next few paragraphs while i extoll the virtues of a foreign course…
So – the question everyone keeps asking me is, ‘why are you going to a foreign country to study English?’. My bog standard response is , ‘different perspective’, and my rationalisation is ‘I get to travel, and the government pays me’ but in reality, it’s a much more pathetic reason.
here goes
I FUCKING LOVE LITERATURE.
I said it, it’s out there, I am a total geek and just wanted to study it for an extra year, particularly all of the different courses offered by a new university. Now you see at Leicester, we were unable to chose subjects, and although I enjoyed what I studied, I wanted more free reign – it doesn’t get more free than this place. As i mentioned briefly, the assessment system for Erasmus seems to be ‘do what you like’, and it’s only this week I have fully appreciated the brilliance of this notion.
Here’s why…
My apocalyptic fictions module, which is damn brilliant by the way, is allowing me to write my own examination essay question…the topic i’ve chosen?
“Why is there seemingly a focus on the political and social constructs of apocalyptic survivors, focusing predominantly on anti-capitalist and pro-socialist forethought, based on ‘Robopocalypse’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ comics.”
Yes, you heard me, THE WALKING DEAD COMICS. I can also reference the program, but I chose the comics just ’cause they’re more fun and I can reference easier. This is fucking immense, i’m starting research this week, and you have no idea how excited I am. Being essentially as left-wing as it gets, I’m going to enjoy libelling the right-wing side of society by inflicting zombies and robots through it’s own guilt.
The Walking Dead.
In addition to this, Modern Intellectual History is damn amazing, I’m looking at perception, the knowledge of the self, knowledge in general, and the concept of ‘modernity’, while this all sounds a bit vague and unreasonable, let’s take a minute and look at my main primary text…..Momento!! Many of you will have seen the film, about the man who loses all long term memory and has to reconstruct his identity and history every day, but this will be focusing on the textual adaptation of this film done by, oh just guess who? Oh you don’t know? Christopher and Jonothan Nolan, the masterminds between the most recent Batman movies (The Dark Knight trilogy). Now who’s not jealous of my English degree eh?
One thing that has surprised me though, is that the module I was most looking forward to is actually pants. I think perhaps my standards may be a bit high courtesy of the one and only Mr Ben Parsons, mind of a God, humor of a wit, and teacher of the century, (those who know me will understand that this is not hyperbole, i genuinely love him). However, the shock that I have recieved this week at being made to ‘read aloud’ from the text we’d been set to read, until the whole massive chunk of 147 lines (please?!) had been read out, then we discussed ‘what had happened’…and then we left. I’m sorry, at a University level, what the fuck is that? I expect basic narrative information from a GCSE level class, and even at that level, I found it patronizing being forced to read aloud anything that wasn’t a drama and therefore necessary to characterize. We discussed no criticism, no deeper meaning, not even the analogous nature of the text which I myself had done a lot of research into (with the help of Ben Parsons himself, who emailed me related criticism). Don’t get me wrong, it means this seminar’s going to be easy, but it also means it’s going to drag – Tollhurst better buck her ideas up if she expects me to attend this class regularly and write an interesting essay on her topics.
ENGLISH RANT OVER; NON-READERS RESUME
So I have a new house mate! I was totally unaware of the expectancy of a new occupant in the spare room at my current address, but this week I received an unexpected visitor to the bomb shelter that is my bedroom in the form of an individual named Ava, (Hello to you!). She’s an interesting little thing, born in Paris, brought up in Spain, but half Mexican and half English. She speaks four languages (Dutch, Spanish, French and English) and so is putting me to shame but hopefully she’ll be able to teach me. I don’t know her as well as I’d like yet, but during a trip to the market we joined together in an act of freeganism and stole some items discarded from a restaurant, yes to beating unnecessary waste one bin at a time! She seems right up my street to be fair, and Janillia (Swiss mum) goes away tomorrow, so we have the house to ourselves to be our crazy selves for a WHOLE MONTH.
During our trip to said market, by the way, I found possibly the coolest mode of transport EVER. The ‘techniski’, for 40 francs, i’m going back next Wednesday to see if they still have it and I’m so going to purchase it. Hopefully it will improve my skiing, if nothing else, I’ll have loads of fun looking like a mentalist traversing Geneva on this bad boy.
TECHNISKI, complete with ski poles and aura of coolness.
Another new person in the Genevan life style is my Canadian friend Courtney, although she can’t blog about this particular event, we did spend an interesting evening yesterday in her dorm room being classy birds eating pizza and salsa with some intoxicating substances before the football game. I had great fun trying to explain to her in this state the difference between the United Kingdom and England… Quite a difficult concept to grasp apparently 😛
In a related subject for those of you who grasped the above reference, I’d like to draw your attention to the fantastic student grafiti culture and it’s overall theme in Unige toilets. Rather than explain, I shall just post the pictures…
Toilet humor
On another note,

If you don’t get this reference, get out of my life.
English weather came on Wednesday! Hurrah for cold and rain, it gave me an excuse to pull out excessive knit wear
knitknitknit
And then, to continue the English theme, we attended a football game. Although obviously not English football, and in fact, a worse game than I’m used to seeing, the hooliganism present gave me nostalgia for the old Deepdale stadium. Upon arrival, the away fan coach arrived, to a gigantic ruckus that scared the majority of the group there, flares were thrown, along with bottles and other missiles, until the typical European police dealt with it in their preferred fashion; hello tear gas. Although fairly scary, it was also quite amusing to discover that the stereotype about English football was not, in fact, reserved only to us. In fact, this seemed to be on a whole other level considering the tiny amount of people who were there, I honestly don’t think i’ve ever seen a stadium so empty.
Football is SUPER popular.
Now, after that brief lapse into a casual subject I feel I have given your brains a rest, and can return to my more serious topic: Politics.
This week over a cup of coffee, I was speaking to a local Swiss guy, a.k.a Swiss Nick, about politics in Switzerland. He informed me that they are the most democratic country in Europe, possibly the world, although this is a view drenched in bias, having had the discussion with him I at least concur it is more democratic than the U.K. Here, every issue is voted on, every vote has proportional representation, and there is a political party for most political stand points (not just 3, or should I say 2 as in the U.K). He also brought up an interesting point about the way in which the Europeans view our English democratic state, and the one institution they simply don’t understand: The House of Lords. I had to agree with him, England, despite it’s claims at democracy and equality, falls way below these standards, and in my opinion is actually categorized as a plutocracy. Although in the U.K we are all aware that the House of Lords are not the be-all and end-all of politics, it’s still interesting to consider that we hold onto an archaic system like that, along with our bizarre desire to maintain a monarchy that we believe is ineffectual in our day to day life apart from as an excuse for street parties and our so-called beloved tourist industry. The truth is, power still remains with the wealthy, and we really haven’t clawed our way out of the past yet. This excuse of it bringing in tourism is, in fact, ridiculous. The tourists don’t come to see the Queen in her active status today, but the history of our monarchy (in my opinion a brutal and embarrassing past of oppression, colonialism, and jingoism), and so the retention of a family who, let’s face it, are just a P.R stunt, is totally outrageous. Now before I incite shouts of ‘terrorist!’ and libels about my moral standing, I’m just going to clarify that I don’t have any issue with the Royal family as people, just their Royal status – can’t they just be rich people living in London like the rest of them? Can’t they just go on with their normal lives and not have to come out and smash bottles on boats and cut ribbons at University Libraries et cetera? It doesn’t make anything any better, it just gives us another excuse to fight for ‘queen and country’ and hearken back to the ‘good old days’ when we were an aggressive nation royally fucking up everywhere under our obese colonial wasteband before we went on a diet and left cultures destroyed with the superstructure of a society in place that was traditionally inappropriate. We destroyed families, languages, invented the concentration camp, and all based on an argument about flags and what imaginary being you believed in.
“God is good.”
“We have a God that is good too..”
“Our God is better, and by the way, he says that this man we call ‘The King’ is divinely placed to make sure you get into heaven, you ought to listen to him to.”
“Or what?”
“You burn to death, both at the stake in this life, and in hell in the afterlife.” 
“…ok. Amen?” 
Enough to that, back to fun and frolics in Geneva.
Also, as I was unable to blog about this last time, I went to watch my Swiss sis Licia perform at Le Chat Noir, a really cool bar up in Carouge, and the gig was unbelievably good. There’s more about it on my music blog artsofsoundandsilence.wordpress.com , but here’s some pictures and videos anyway.
Honor: Hey look, there’s a piano stuck to the roof.
Harriet: Oh yeah, how cool.
Honor: Why are there smurfs playing it though?
Front page Licia.
 
Anyhow, after that brief rant, I shall bid you all adieu and, until next time, stay sane.
Honorj.
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Ma Langue Maternelle

So, maybe I’m crazy, but here’s my first foray into poetry of another language (Namely, French).

Those of you who speak French, please excuse the awfulness of my grammar and pronunciation, as you can tell being French speakers, that’s sort of the point.

For those who don’t know French, I’m posting the English translation, but be warned, it’s losing a lot because of it. I want to express the reliance we have on Language, the difficulties of the boundaries we face when we lose that, and yet the ability to still comunicate this loss and confusion.

Hope it’s not too awful!

Honorj

ENGLISH

My mother tongue,

I’m lost in a world of words,

In English it’s like ‘moat’

but it’s not the same,

But it is the same.

language is an ocean,

And i’m trying to hold tight

to the rock, my mother tongue.

And sometimes, my grammer fails,

my past becomes present,

my future uncertain,

but it will be alright,

I will learn to swim..

float or sink.

C’est la vie de Genéve!

So here I am in Geneva, I thought, before I wrote anything about it I’d leave myself a while to settle in and make sure I’m not going to give up and get on the next plane home. Not that some terrible disaster might not happen and I will do that anyway, but I’ve managed a week and a half on my own in a foreign country where nobody really speaks English so I think there’s some form of achievement in that in itself.

So much has happened in …(insert brainy computation of hours here)…such a short time! I’ll try and sort it into a chronological order, but I’m not sure my British brain can deal with the way time passes in this land of clocks. For example, University hours are not hours, no, they are 45 minutes.  Which means that all of my classes start at quarter past the hour, I can’t get used to this nonsensical system. Although it is great, due to my brain working at British *ahem, normal* time, I get to class for the hour, have time to buy coffee, smoke a cigarette, and begin my European learning experience in the most European style possible.
My new Swiss family are great. I adore them. My Swiss mum is called Janilla, she’s lovely, she only speaks French and Creole ‘cause she’s originally from Haiti but it’s really helping my French just communicating with her, and my Swiss brother, Phillipe, is like a high up banker (of course) in Geneva. The coolest, however, is my Swiss sister Licia Cherry. She’s a blues singer in Geneva, newly famous, and unbelievably cool. This is what I wake up to in the morning.

Great huh? I’m actually writing this just before I go to watch her in Carouge this evening, at a bar called Le Chat Noire which is apparently great for jazz, blues, electro, funk, and soul nights. (Additionally, just to add to the brilliance of Geneva, Electro-Swing ,my newest craze in music, is big here, so I’m off to Lausanne in a few weeks to watch CARAVAN PALACE. Fantastique!)

Anyway, enough of the family, more of the place.

Well Geneva’s possibly the nicest city I’ve ever seen. There are 192 different nationalities here, so walking down the street is such an insane variety of different languages, and yet EVERYONE is immaculate, they’re either in suits, or in very expensive ‘alternative’ clothing.
I spent two days last week at the BEACH. In September, in the city centre. Unheard of really, especially as someone coming here straight out of 2 years living in the most land-locked city in the U.K (Leicester). I got sunburnt, but it was worth it, and I have now swam in Lake Geneva so I can check that off my proverbial ‘things to do in Geneva’ list. Here’s some pictures and stuff so you don’t get too bored of my words.

He wants to die, in a lake in Geneva
The mountains can cover the shape of his nose

This strange contraption you can see in the distance spouting water into the air is Le Jet D’eau : Brief info – It continually shoots a jet of SEVEN TONNES of water into the air to ‘regulate water pressure’, however, it has now become a symbol of Geneva and is fairly impressive to behold!

Also during this sunny period of holiday-type recreational activities I went to a great wine festival in the Genevan countryside, at a place called Russin. It was most probably the weirdest day so far, due to the fact that we drank a lot of wine while the cute stalls bust out terrible chart music from around a year ago (a la Soulja Boy), and then out of nowhere there appeared a transvestite Snow White.

I’ve given you some space for that to sink in.

He was dressed in a full snow white outfit, and following him, was a huge amount of people dressed as dwarves. Snow White then pulled out his conducting baton and it turns out the dwarves were, in fact, a brass band who then serenaded us with saxophones and drums. Due to wine haze, this was probably the best thing that could have happened.

Surreal transvestite Snow White conducting her group of non-dwarf dwarves.

The beautiful Genevan countryside of Russin

Left to right: Harriet, myself, David, Jade

My. University. Is. Fucking. Beautiful.

Honestly, the building I’m in is a gorgeous old building on a beautiful park that is full of horse-chesnut trees that make it dangerous to walk anywhere due to falling conkers, giant chess boards where old men gather and take games really seriously, bars all over where you can buy beer and icecream, and, yesterday, very attractive men playing electric guitar and singing. Not for money. Just because they want to.

I had a cigarette on a balcony in my Uni today, a fucking balcony, goodbye strange granite chairs outside Leicester, hello view of the most beautiful park in Geneva. I took a picture, I was so amazed. Also, I was glad to find that everybody smokes here, which has led to indoor smoking areas in bars, great news!

Elevated walkway between the buildings

View from my afternoon break on the balcony/walkway between the Library and classrooms. 

The classes, so far, seem really easy, and the examination process for Erasmus seems to be a bit like this.

Great for me, for now, but they’d better not give me 15 exams just before I leave when they realise they haven’t bothered testing me all year.

I have new friends, how exciting, yay, whoop, yippee, hurrah and huzzah.

Despite the overt sarcasm here, I am actually extremely happy to have found people I like already. I assumed I’d just hang out with people I found average and tolerable until I could find a group I liked but no, straight away, everyone’s great. My new pal David and I have spent probably a total of 8 hours now talking shit about perception, gender binaries, politics, feminism, dream theory, and generally literary related madness. Mostly this has been whilst drunk, and at the very least, whilst drinking, which is how I know we’re going to remain friends. Another new friend is Megan, who’s just a southern me, surprisingly. For example, last night, we felt each other’s breasts to check if they were the same size (and they were!). I am aware that breast size is not a great adjudicator of whether we are the same person, I was more pointing out the fact that we felt okay to feel each other’s tits and then remark on one another’s nipples. There’s also Steven. An absolutely great guy, on our first night out, we managed to get lost for 2 hours, steal a bike, and go for a piss while facing each other on the streets of Geneva; classy birds. The bike in question is now cursed, the karma is so bad that today it bucked me into the centre of a street where I was flocked upon by 8 concerned French people including a worried monk as they helped me from the road, carried all my things, and generally patted me, and shouted ‘CA VA?’ repeatedly while I stood bleeding and shaking.
I do have other friends in the group (yes, group, we even have a facebook page courtesy of Jayna), but I feel as though I would bore you with explanations of their various characters. I’m sure they’ll pop up as and when.

One other small issue I’ve been having is, once again with my old friend Technology. Unige seems to have my details rather mixed up, my name is now “With honor”, and my gender is “2”. I feel like this is some cruel and sarcastic joke coming through admin a la “Honor Grace Jackson’s taking gender studies, let’s make her androgynous, and while I’m at it, I may as well be punny with her name.” I don’t actually think anybody apart from my old house mate Collis could ever be quite that sarcastic but we shall see. It is making my life slightly difficult, I can’t use the library, print, or access ‘dokeos’ – Geneva’s blackboard – but what can you do? C’est la vie as my new amis would say.

Hopefully my next post will be more fulfilling than my random tales of a drunk week, but then again, it might not.

Allors, je doit partir! A biento.