Sunday, November 1, 2009

Literary Lolita: Drawing Inspiration

So some of you may know or have caught on that I'm currently attending (real!) college. An even smaller number of people will know that I am an English major (insert ubiquitous English major joke here), &thus have to read lots &lots &lots of essays, short stories, and novels; I'm currently required to read about 250-300 pages a week, &it's just going to get worse - whew! Even the things you love get tedious after too long, &while I adore reading, I find myself slumping through my homework, leaving hundreds of pages unread until mere hours before class. What do I do to keep my interest? Well, as many before me have, I relate it back to something I love: lolita.

A while back, Victoria Suzanne wrote this excellent post about viewing your lolita coordinates as an art form. It talks about making up a story to inspire your outfit. Well, I'm going to expand on this - taking someone else's writing as inspiration for your outfits.

I'll provide two examples,fittingly by Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favorite poets.
If you aren't familiar with these poems, I suggest you read them from the links provided - it's not really necessary to understand the post, but they're lovely, so you should do it anyway. No, I changed my mind - it is necessary; not as a lolita or a reader of my blog/this post, just as a person. Do it. Trust me.

(Poetry will change your life!!! Can you tell I'm an English major?)

So, when you're taking inspiration from anything - books, poems, music - there are three things to take note of: mood, symbolism, and themes. I figured Poe would be a good example to illustrate these, because he uses all three heavily. For the mood, take note of the type of language the creator (which I will henceforth refer to as "he," because my example is a male writer) uses, and for poetry, note the cadence: choppiness can denote anger, while flowing, beautiful words can denote romance, etc. Symbolism is easy - what hidden undercurrents does he use? What symbolism does he use to make his point? Poe compares Annabel Lee's eyes to stars, so I played off of that a little. Symbolism is something that is alluded to or mentioned only once; anything repeated often throughout the piece is a theme. A specific animal (Romance mentions birds fairly frequently), a location (the seaside in Annabel Lee), or any other number of things would count as a theme. A mood can also be a theme - the heavy, mourning air of Annabel Lee is a good example.

Now that you've narrowed down the mood, symbolism, and themes in the piece you want to emulate, look for other things, such as allusions to color or specific clothing items. If you can find that, you're straight - otherwise &more likely you'll have to do a bit more detective work. Use your symbolism or themes for this one - I added shells &seafoam green to the outfit I used for Annabel Lee because of the repeated theme of the ocean.
For Romance, I skipped any deep, philosophical interpretations and just went with my feelings and thoughts when I read this poem. I thought of nature, the woods, springtime,  and a childhood sweetheart the older, more logical narrator is trying to forget. I tried to find other interpretations of the poem, but the internet failed me, so this is all I have to go on. I wanted an almost childish, Alice Deco-type look for the girl I got the impression of, so I went with lighter spring colors and floral themes, like a child wandering away from a picnic to go pick wildflowers. If anyone else has another interpretation I'd love to hear/see it!
Not going to lie, Annabel Lee is my favorite poem of all time, evereverever. It was the first poem I read of Edgar Allan Poe's, and it's stuck with me strongly ever since. Again I wanted a childish air, since he flat out states that Annabel Lee was a child when she died. Pearls, seafoam green, and the sailor top all allude to the seaside kingdom in which the lovers lived, whereas the contrasting dark colors &veil imply mourning. The necklace has a cherub in it, referencing the angels ("not half so happy in heaven"). The stars are a a reference to the celestial symbolism in the last stanza of the poem.

We all get into our slumps- no one can avoid it, no matter how much you love x, y, or z. And whether it's your homework, your wardrobe, or your literary choices, I will always believe that beauty can help pull you out of it- whether that beauty is finding sartorial inspiration from a poem, imagining what the characters in that Nella Larsen novel are wearing, or doing your make-up as described in your Ancient Egyptian history homework a la Cleopatra. But don't think of inspiration as only something to rescue you when you're not your best - taking inspiration from the things you read, hear, or see is a great way to keep you connected to your environment &can be a great way to mesh your love of __________ with your love of lolita.
(Also, I might be starting a series called the Literary Lolita, relating the things I'm learning from my English classes back to lolita. It won't be a scheduled thing - just whenever I encounter something post-worthy. What do you guys think?)

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