100 Most Beautiful People List

People Magazine has just released its ‘100 Most Beautiful People’ List and it has been topped by Christina Applegate. Apparently she had a breast cancer scare and, a la Kylie, managed to cope with it well. What exactly does this means? That she managed not to be seen when she was really ill? That she managed to re-appear healthy and shiny, without any seeming change to her appearance? This is what Kylie managed to do and was labeled a role model.

The notion of the ‘most beautiful’ list seems so primitive to me, but as I’m currently researching the idea of beauty via cosmetic surgery, it is very apt.

It’s fascinating that the magazine puts out this list, which is so obviously concerned with surface level beauty, but then tries to justify itself by voting Applegate number one because of her “courage” in the face of adversity. This is their way of trying to pretend such lists are more about inner beauty, rather than outer beauty. Who are they trying to kid?

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Collected Words

This is a small collection of words I’ve found inspiring over the years:

He searched for himself and his people in all the history books he read and discovered to his youthful astonishment that he didn’t exist. This troubled him so much that he resolved, as soon as he was old enough, to leave his land and find the people who did exist, to see what they looked like.
Ben Okri, Astonishing the Gods

I was nothing, I am nothing, I will be nothing. But I will live out my life in freedom and let noble, considerate souls share in the experiences of this free inner life, by putting them out in the most concentrated form on paper.
Peter Altenberg

Those who disappeared or died because they entered into the bush – whether mallee scrub, dense mountain growth or sandy desert – earned their community the right to stay. Their suffering could be construed as one of the rites of ownership. The telling and retelling of stories of the lost was an affirmation of belonging.
Kim Torney, Babes in the Bush: The Making of an Australian Image

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter – bitter”, he answered,
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

‘In The Desert’, Stephen Crane

Labelling Fiction

I am currently plugging away trying to write my third novel. When I first started out I didn’t really care about categories of writing, I  was just writing what I wanted to write. Now, it seems everything is category driven (from blogs to book  stores) and you have to be aware of what “market” you are writing for. I used to think in terms of readers, now you have to think in terms of demographics. I find this depressing and I wonder how it is going to effect my work. Do I abandon the novel I’m writing because I’m not sure it will fit into any particular market? Do I go off and write a crime novel because, at least, the booksellers will be able to put it into that much more popular area (than that avoided area “literature”)? And just what is “popular” literature?

I never thought THE QUAKERS was “literary” but, then, one of the first questions a radio interviewer asked me was whether I thought the front cover made it look like a Young Adult novel? I’ve had 60 year olds tell me that they loved the book, as well as 14 year olds. Why does everything have to be so vigorously labelled? Is it because we don’t have enough time to spend on finding what we want to read? (But what are we doing that is so much more important – renovating our houses??) And when has reading a book that didn’t turn out to be exactly what you thought it was going to be done anyone any harm?