it’s not always gonna be this way

We’ve had a good week for bad news. And now the news has gone mad, and the world with it.
Or else it’s vice versa. I give up. We’re living in Topsyturvydom, that’s all I know. Who was it said that no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in?

It’s days and weeks like this when I recommend turning up the speakers and playing anything you can find by the immortal George Harrison. So I’ll lead you  into the weekend—and, I sincerely hope, a much better week for all and sundry—with this: his last song from his last live performance, his benediction for this troubled material world.

The darkness only stays at night time. Shabbat Shalom.

Update: I swapped out the original video for one with much worse picture and bad syncing–but this one is the whole song, and well worth the quirks. If you have 45 minutes, you can watch the whole VH1 memorial special, with a pretty long interview and a couple more songs, here.

mimio’s library

[Today we feature an open letter from my friend and colleague, Dr Mayako Murai. While Paradoxes by no means wishes to discourage you from donating to your own favourite charities, the uniqueness of this endeavour and the ideas behind it made it seem worth highlighting.]

Dear all,

I would like to draw your attention to the picture book library project for the earthquake and tsunami sufferers in north-eastern Japan.  The ‘Mimio Library’ project has been initiated by the artist Tomoko Konoike, who believes that the imaginative power of picture books will in the long term help the people who lost what was most precious to them to rebuild their own inner strength. (Konoike’s artwork appears on the cover of the forthcoming collection of essays Postmodern Reinterpretations of Fairy Tales [Edwin Mellon, 2011], edited by Anna Kerchy.)

This mobile library project asks donors to personalise their gift by briefly describing in writing their special attachment to it on a donation sheet which will be pasted inside the cover of the book. The aim is to construct a story-sharing network by collecting and circulating picture books with individual life stories attached to them.

For more information, please visit the following link where you can also download the donation sheet:

I would appreciate it if you could also pass on this information to those who may want to support this project.  If you have any questions, please do feel free to contact me directly.

Thank you very much in advance.

With best wishes,

Mayako Murai
Associate Professor
English Department
Kanagawa University, Japan

NB: Please send any enquiries for Dr Murai to: mr pond 47 [at] hotmail [dot] com.

unsettling wonder

Household Tales: A Grimm Read-Through

Cat and Mouse in Gesellschaftillus-050


nti-tales are understudied, as I’ve mentioned before. But what seems evident is that anti-tales do not simply arise in reaction to tales. Anti-tales are, by definition, contained in the tales themselves. A tale holds its own anti-tale, and sometimes subverts itself with the telling.

Tales in the grand tradition—that is, those tales most commonly retold—are more commonly presented in the pure tale. There is a happily ever after. Good conquers Evil. Love conquers All. These tales invite subversion, anti-telling, and deconstruction, because so many of the retellings are so obnoxiously smug.

The older tales and lesser known tellings startle with the prominence of the anti-tale already in the text. The darker, more disturbing Grimm tales fit in this category. Something unsettles us, we wonder uneasily why the neat world presented in the tale seems to frail just in the telling of the story. We haven’t even had a chance to apply postwar trauma or suburban angst to it, and it already frightens us.

So it’s doubly surprising, and more than a little freakish, to discover a retelling of such an anti-tale that emphasizes the anti-tale coloring.

‘Katz und Maus in Gesellschaft’ is such a tale. James Thurber’s ‘The Birds and the Foxes’ (1940) is such a retelling. In Thurber’s tale, the foxes are interested in promoting ‘civilization’ among birds. When a fence goes up to enclose an oriole sanctuary, the foxes protest, calling it ‘an arbitrary and unnatural boundary’, and insist ‘there had once been foxes in the sanctuary but that they had been driven out.’

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and if, then

a phantasmagoria’s revenge


‘To invent fables about a world “other” than this one has no meaning at all, unless an instinct of slander, detraction, and suspicion against life has gained the upper hand in us: in that case, we avenge ourselves against life with a phantasmagoria of “another”, a “better” life.

–Friedrich Nietzsche, “Reason in Philosophy”

The Courage of Words


I see.

I speak.


“And your point is?”


To stay silent—no.

I do not think that I

could stand the pain.

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imagining Can we imagine a world?

As fantasists—as artists—as musicians—it’s what we do. And it’s what we try to get people to pay us to do. Whether we draw the utopia we long for or the absurd we confront, or the dreams we puzzle over, we imagine worlds.

Worlds of unutterable darkness, rent suddenly and violently by the silent, gentle onslaught of light.

Worlds of unquenchable light, darkness beleaguered, but unconquerable.

Worlds incomprehensibly strange, but oddly unforgettable.

Can we imagine a world?

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