Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sorry guys...

Hey everyone, this entirely unspectacular post is just letting you know that there will probably be no article this week. My boyfriend's father passed away today, and while I have some pieces mostly typed up that I could probably half-ass, I'd really prefer not to. I try not to let this blog get overly personal, but I'm just really drained and can't put together anything I'd be proud of on schedule this time around. I'm being kept busy helping out his family, and I'm probably not going to be attending classes for the rest of the week, but if I have some free time I'll try to get something up for you by the weekend. If not, I'll treat you guys to two articles next week to make up for it.

Sorry all. Hope you're having a better week than anyone I know is. When it rains, it really does pour :(

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Literature Every Lolita Should Know: Baudelaire

I'm very excited about this sub-series! I've been wanting to translate my English major into this blog for ages, but I couldn't figure out just the right way to do so. This is a branch of my Literary Lolita series that hasn't gotten much love in far too long.

Charles Baudelaire was born in 1821 in Paris. He is regarded as a poet, critic, and essayist; his best-selling collection of poetry, Les Fleurs de Mal (The Flowers of Evil), was first published in 1857, though it was revised many times both before and after his death. It was quite the scandalous read, touching on topics like lesbianism, erotica, vampirism, and the macabre, which were very taboo at this time, and was one of the many forerunners to the Modernist movement. It caused such an uproar that he, the publisher, and the printer were all fined heavily for creating an offense against public morals, and called for the suppression and removal of six of the raunchiest poems. As well as being a critic and essayist, Baudelaire also translated Poe into French very prolifically; it is said that he alone was responsible for making the American writer accessible to Europe.

In my opinion, Baudelaire is the quintessential poet for gothic lolitas to know. He's absolutely perfect for those interested in the macabre- I mean, the man wrote a love poem about a dog carcass, for crying out loud. Common themes in Baudelaire's work include the natural vs. the man-made (he's in favor of the latter, which was crazy for his time), boredom as the ultimate agony, lost innocence, drugs, and the oppressiveness of modern living. Anyone who knows Modernism knows that these are hugely common in works of that genre.

One of Baudelaire's opinions that I find fascinating (because it's the polar opposite of my own) is that of the natural being evil and the man-made being the only good. For example: crime is natural, he says, and it is only the imposition of laws and morals that allows society to function- otherwise, we would only live by our natural urges. Nature disgusts him; he sees no reason why it should be regarded at all, let alone emulated. Another example he sites is make-up, he says that he only approves of it if it is outlandish and unnatural; natural make-up to enhance one's features is something he cannot stand. This fits well with lolita- gothic black eyeliner, sweet rhinestones and stickers under the eyes, for example. He also believes that boredom is the worst pain one can feel, but that it is only born in city-dwellers. He posits that it is only through excessive over-stimulation that boredom hits, and that because those who live in cities are so constantly bombarded by stimulation, they are also subject to a ennui more potent than anything felt by country mice. This boredom, and the many uses of doing away with it, is another big theme in his work.

Required reading:
Now, while one of the main themes in these pieces is the macabre, those of us with weaker constitutions shouldn't be scared away. I wouldn't describe myself as skittish, exactly, or weak-stomached, but I definitely dislike any of the many things that I classify as "distasteful;" unchecked eroticism and detailed descriptions of decomposition rank highly among those. Despite that, or maybe because of it, I find Baudelaire intoxicating. His word choice is beautiful, even to the point of transcending the errors of translation (though on more than one occasion I considered brushing up on my French, just to read the originals), and his imagery is absolutely spot-on to creative the exact emotion he intends. Anyone in my shoes should start with the first on this list, To a Passerby, which is a very short, poignant love poem that is still one of my favorites I've read- potentially ever. As an avid reader of poetry, that comes as quite a recommendation!

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Operation LoliBlog: On Contradictions.

    Do I contradict myself?
    Very well then I contradict myself,

    (I am large, I contain multitudes.)
    ~Walt Whitman

    You see it all the time with celebrities. A star swears off pink, and then, two seasons later, is strutting her stuff on the red carpet in a fuchsia Gaultier gown. The style-watchers lose their minds over it- what a hypocrite! How awful! She said she'd never, ever, ever wear pink, but what, it's okay because it's Gaultier?! That girl is a walking contradiction!

    Oh no! Stop the presses- someone in the public eye exposed herself as human! Of course, as bloggers, we're no where near the level of, say, Paris Hilton or Rihanna, but when you put your life in the public eye, there are some sacrifices you're expected to make for the prices of ~fame~. That sacrifice is your privacy, your time and effort, and plenty others (your bank account, if you're a fashion blogger...); however, your sense of self and personal fulfillment shouldn't be one of those. You may have sung the praises of your current lifestyle til the cows came home, but if one day you wake up and realize that that lifestyle isn't personally fulfilling to you, you are not contractually obliged to continue doing it. No matter what. Maybe you've been prattling on about raw foodism for a year, but you realize one day that you just aren't feeling good enough to justify the effort. Does that mean that everything you've been talking about for the past year is wrong, or less important, or any less correct? No. It just means that something that worked for you for a while stopped. Or you might have just broken up with "prince charming," after spending all these months or years writing post after post about your eternal love. It always sucks to realize that something you've not only spent time on but also staked your reputation as a blogger on is just not working for you, but the sooner you realize this, the easier it'll be to cut your losses and admit your mistake- especially if you learn something from it. Yes, then you need to confront your readership about it (otherwise, what's the point in stopping?), but this will be better than continuing to live a lie, or having someone else figure out our double-life and rat you out. Remember, though- your readers trust you, and no matter how embarrassed or hurt you are, it's not permissible for you to lie to them. Pretending the past doesn't exist is shady, and could discredit you in peoples' minds, but to flat-out say that it's never happened, or to harass people when they make the same mistakes you did, is, in my opinion, the real mistake here. Especially for LoliBloggers- you may not believe in ~The Sisterhood~, but everyone has to admit that hypocrisy does nothing for this little community we've built ourselves.

    The thing to remember is that everyone's human, and this goes for blog-readers as well as blog-writers. Yeah, okay- maybe that blogger is saying something differently than she did a few years ago, and maybe that's a grave offense in your book. It's not okay that she made you feel that way, but I promise, it's more than likely that she didn't do it on purpose. Sometimes people just change their opinions, beliefs, or priorities, and some things might get lost in the shuffle; so when that vegetarian blogger you love so much posts a picture on Facebook eating a big ol' cheeseburger, remember that you're not the one she's trying to make happy with her life. You're just along for the ride.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Decor: Dorm Decor Snaps

    My first semester of college, in fall 2009, marked my first time living in a dorm. Despite that semester being one of my most difficult times emotionally, I probably had more fun in that room and love for it than any I've ever experienced (having an amazing roommate helped). I had really jumped on the idea of the "lolita dorm room" that semester, too- Kamikaze Girls poster, floral quilt, cupcake bedsheets. Then, after that, the annoyance of moving so many things in and out so often meant that some things got left behind, priorities were changed, and some things just didn't seem as important at the moment- like decorating a room I was only in two or three days a week because of my work schedule. Having a roommate I didn't know well last semester who kept her walls completely barren made me feel a little awkward about decorating my own space, as well, so I spent those months with only a few art prints and a decorated white board on my walls.

    This was, apparently, entirely unacceptable, though. My next-door neighbors are almost like two more roommates, with how much time I spent with them this past fall, and when it came time to move out again in December, I took it very seriously when they told me we had to talk. Lily, one of the sweetest girls I've ever met, said to me, "Aly, we really need to talk to you.... about your room. You need to get some posters or pictures or something, because it's so sad to be in there. It looks like a jail cell." It was certainly an intervention, and part of me felt even more ashamed for leaving my lolita self at home in my closet, instead of embracing it like I had the year before.

    So, here's how I'm changing that! These are some pictures of the little vanity I set up for myself on my dresser.

    My dresser, with my two new posters: The map of Manhattan was on sale at Ikea (normally I wouldn't go with something so drably-colored), and the "SMILE" one I made myself. Since I knew going into it that this semester would be a struggle, I made myself this cute reminder to "SMILE: you can do this," including everything I have to smile about (lolita, friends, Amaranth Opulent). That white box to the left is where I keep my AO jewelry.

     Make-up, face wipes, blue toile ribbon board (thrifted for $2!), jewelry, and a framed BABY postcard (which you might recognize from here)
     BABY postcard, shimmer lotion from Victoria's Secret, and jewelry (that pink one is actually an AO piece that I still haven't gotten around to photographing and posting! I love it so much that I want to make sure the product pictures are perfect)

    My planner from Kinokuniya snuck into this pic because it matched so well! It also has a map of the Tokyo subway system in the back- hello, indispensable! Also showing off my baroque-print accessory box and read heart-shaped mirror from Ikea.

    And here are two quick shots of my desktop:
     Here I have my Target princess lamp, a silhouette I made of myself, a very sweet birthday card from my friend Martha, a framed quote ("When it hurts too much, take solace in the fact that not only did you survive-- you thrived," my life motto for a while), and the gorgeous vintage business card holder my bought me. You can also see the rings that were included in my birthday gift from Martha, and a sketch of another silhouette for a project in the works. On the wall you can also just see the corner of my Amaranth Opulent poster (yes, I got a poster printed up. I'm such a dweeb!)


    These are just a few snaps- I took more, but for some reason my camera and computer were in a bit of a tiff and refused to upload the rest. Consider this a teaser-post for the article I'll eventually write about dorm life for the lolita!

    ALSO! Heads up, anyone in CT or the surrounding areas! I'll be attending U-Con at Uconn this weekend, and so should you! I'm going to be hosting a panel on Friday with my friend Rebecca called "University Lolita," about making your lolita lifestyle work at school. Please come see it! ♥

    PS the Second: Look at this adorable sprite my friend Savannah made me! ♥ ♥ ♥


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