2012: A Year in Books

This is not a ‘best books of 2012’ list, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to review or comment on the books listed here (other than those I’ve written reviews for or otherwise commented on, and those reviews can be found here and there and wherever). I spend enough of my life reviewing stuff and spouting opinion: I read for pleasure and research and reference and sometimes purely to learn. Some of the books I read during 2012 were books I had read before (Bukowski’s Post Office and Cunt by Stewart Home) and some of the books I read I enjoyed more than others. Many of them have informed my own writing in one way or another, or may do so in the future. The order they’re listed in is the order I read them in. So here it is, just because: my year in books. Nothing more – but nothing less.

 

Henry Sutton – Get Me Out of Here!

Adam Kotsko – Awkwardness

Jurek Becker – Sleepless Days

Alain Robbe-Grillet – The Voyeur

Marek Hlasko – Killing the 2nd Dog / The 8th Day of the Week

Various – A Dream of Stone and Other Stories

J G Ballard – Cocaine Nights

Chuck Palahniuk – Survivor

Henry Sutton – Bank Holiday Monday

Ian Price – The Activity Illusion

Carl Weissner – Death in Paris

J G Ballard – The Crystal World

Harry Harrison – Homeworld

John Steinbeck – Tortilla Flats

J G Ballard – The Unlimited Dream Company

Terry Taylor – Baron’s Court, All Change

Alain Robbe-Grillet – Repetition

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer – The Dialectic of Enlightenment

Malcolm Mc Neill – The Lost Art of Ah Pook is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel

Malcolm Mc Neill – Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook and Me

Supervert – Necrophilia Variations

Colin Wilson – Adrift in Soho

Dire McCain – Raising McCain

Steve Urwin – Tightrope Walker

Charles Bukowski – Post Office

Roger Protz – 300 Beers to Try Before You Die!

Stewart Home – Cunt

Carl Cederstrom and Peter Fleming – Dead Man Working

Karl van Cleave – Incisions, Collisions and Aborted Missions

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Kate Middleton’s Breasts

In the wake of the Olympics and the Paralympics, it was inevitable the news agencies would be looking for items to easily fill the gaping chasm in their columns and programming. It would have been all too easy to have returned to the previous staple of war, global economic meltdown and devious political manoeuvring exposed, but to have pursued that direction would have called a rapid halt to the jubilant mood that still hangs in the air as Olympic fervour dissipates.

Boom! Kate Middleton – or Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge as she’s formally known – with her jugs out! Of course, no British publication would run the pap snaps, and in many ways, that only added to the essential cocktail of ingredients that rendered this the perfect story for the time. The British public love a good scandal and an excuse to puff up with righteous indignation (as evidenced by the Daily Mail reading masses) and have a thing about topless birds, especially celebrities (as the Sun ‘reading’ masses prove) and as the popularity of publications like Heat etc., show, celebrity gossip is what everyone who doesn’t want to deal with the horrors of everyday existence wants.

As this non-story and the frothing furore and debate surrounding it unfolds, I’m reminded – as I often am, in truth – of J G Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition. In particular, the geometry of the media landscape Ballard portrays so vividly, marked out by enormous blow-ups of disembodied parts of celebrities’ anatomies. I’m also reminded of the titles in the appendix sections, ‘Mae West’s Reduction Mammoplasty’ and ‘Princess Margaret’s Face Lift.’ The vapid culture built around a prurient obsession with celebrity Ballard depicted may have been the emerging landscape of the time it was written, but it’s unquestionably more relevant now, in an era when fervent adulation of Pippa Middleton’s posterior has filtered through into even the broadsheet press. And so it comes as no surprise that there’s a veritable media spasm over Kate Middleton’s breasts.

Because I’ve already written extensively on media overload on countless occasions already, and no doubt will again in the future, there seems little point in doing so again here. Similarly, the ethical questions concerning privacy and the press that are proving to be the central focus of this so-called ‘scandal’ have received so much attention, there’s absolutely no point in rehashing it, and even if I felt able to bring something new to the table, it would be lost in the endless currents of hot air already circulating. If I’m going to expend energy pissing in the wind, it’s going to be on a subject I at least feel truly passionate about.

The real question, as I see it, isn’t about whether or not a royal should be able to sunbathe topless without being snapped, but what’s the fuss about? Just as the nation went nuts when Prince William began courting ‘Kate’, as much because she was a ‘commoner’ as anything, so it seems that the idea of ‘young people’ in the monarchy seems to have changed the tide of opinion and enabled the monarchy to shed its stuffy imperialist image, and the only real explanation for this is because people are stupid and gullible – and of course, celebrity fixated.

But celebrity is always about mystique, and all the more so when the celebrity in question is largely inaccessible. The intrigue of what’s under her (high street fashion / designer) clothes therefore becomes heightened proportionally against the likelihood of ever finding out.

In Kate, they were always looking for a new Diana, and in this episode, they’ve got it, and a whole lot more. Woman of the people, hounded by the press… check. But in Kate we have a rather different scenario based on paradox: Kate Middleton is a celebrity, and one who is less accessible than most because she’s royalty. At the same time, because Kate’s a ‘commoner’, she’s more accessible, which gives people a (false) sense of hope. If she gets ousted by her future monarch husband after siring the next generation, then perhaps someone of her own class might be in with a shout… of course it’s all an illusion, the ‘commoner’ image simply a tag that’s been fostered to broaden her appeal. Anyone who thinks they’re going to stumble into Kate Middleton (even if she does eventually find herself out of monarchical favour and free to date dynastic billionaire film producers) in their local Asda is clearly deluded.

But here’s the clincher paradox: Kate Middleton may be the ‘princess of the people’ and more accessible than any of her predecessors, while also being royalty and a celebrity on an almost untouchable level, but the bottom line is that she’s really pretty average. By which I mean that if she wasn’t royalty and a celebrity on an almost untouchable level, she might still be a rich girl, but no-one would pay her any attention whatsoever. What is there that truly distinguishes her from the crowd? She doesn’t even appear to be ageing especially well, with her features often appearing drawn and haggard beyond her 30 years in photographs on-line and in the press. The cult of Kate is purely a reaction to her social status and celebrity. Consequently the intrigue of what’s under her (high street fashion / designer) clothes becomes heightened proportionally against the likelihood of ever finding out. But, against the odds, we now know. The pictures are blurry, the quality disappointing, and the same is true of Kate’s boobs, which are average and unremarkable in every way.

And there you have it. You’ve seen the goods, they’re not much to write home about, and besides, you haven’t got a hope. Now please, move on, get a life and find something / someone else to wank over.

 

 

kate-middleton-profile

Kate Middleton: Ordinary?

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk