The Phlox, in case the reader has not noticed (The Snottor is sure the reader has noticed), has been delinquent lately. There are a lot of things to distract her (that’s what she would tell you. The Snottor would tell you something infinitely more rude). She is currently up to her petals in non-blog-related things she is reading and writing. This, of course, wounds The Snottor. She clearly is a bit addled in the brain if she thinks that any other literary pursuits are above the smug grandeur of his blog—and of course, The Snottor being a Luddite at heart, he is helpless to curate and post his own content without her, a baffling reality indeed. (He thinks this post will have a little something for all the Luddites at heart).
Now, back to our haughty reviews of our favorite things. The Snottor, because of his prolonged abandonment, has had lots of time on his hands to read, and has thus discovered this interesting venture.
Mouse Book Club was recently launched by Kickstarter campaign (with the money donated shockingly exceeding the expected amount), and now has a website, podcasts, blog posts, and a wide array of its products to sell.
To see it yourself, and read their (the Phlox thinks far superior) definition of their product, visit their website HERE.
In essence, the Mouse Book Club hopes to start a quiet little revolution. It is manufacturing little books, the size of a smartphone, drawing on material in the public domain. As they say themselves, every piece is picked (and, in the case of longer works, excerpted) with care, and they are not meant to be consumable words. Rather, the fine folks at Mouse hope that these tiny books hold food for thought and the soul within their smooth pages.
They are the perfect size for a pocket, a purse, or a backpack; they are convenient for taxis, lines, airports, lulls, busses, awkward situations—to say the least, The Snottor is quite impressed. They are a handy substitute for the content one can sift through on a phone, highly curated and thoughtfully minimalist to boot.
Whether you explore Mouse or not, it does bring up an interesting idea—the use of spare time. We all have it, even the most busy, The Snottor asserts. What do you choose to do in those spare pockets? What meaningful, tiny moments could you be having?
The Snottor wishes the best, having delivered this erudite dispatch from the muddy Spring-flower trenches.
The Phlox has taken a recent disgusted fascination with Rogue Taxidermy, the new “hipster” (The Snottor raises his eye-scales at such words) take on taxidermy as a form of art. The Phlox, as one of the more sappy animal-lover-tree-hugger types The Snottor has ever had the misfortune to meet, does not find that any form of taxidermy sits well with her, but, as an equally-sappy lover of art, she cannot help but be interested.
Lifting The Snottor’s ancient and appropriately stone-heavy bulk up in her measly, understandably struggling flower-arms, she has forced him to peruse the web for such specimens. While the pair of them felt mutually ambivalent about most of the findings, there was the work of one artist in particular that left the Phlox so dazzled that she has coerced The Snottor (with perhaps the morally ambiguous use of ice-cream sandwiches) to discuss it in one of his esteemed and highly looked-forward-to posts.
About this Artist:
In general, Rogue Taxidermy involves the mixture of pieces from various animals obtained in a humane way with other materials, creating such objects as ox-hoof zip-up high heels, baby goats with lustrous mermaid tails, or a cyborg steampunk coyote. These are personally not much to The Snottor’s taste (or The Phlox’s stomach), and although objectively interesting, do not leave him with a lasting artistic impression.
The work of Kate Clark, however, always stands out. Using animals hides, she recreates a life-like wild animal, but with one key difference; she gives it a human face. She creates masks with rubber eyes that look perfectly human yet blend in with the colors and textures of the animal, and which are attached with silver pins to emphasize the seams and thus the reconstruction of the creature.
Clark’s artist statement, which can be found in full here https://www.kateclark.com/artist-statement/ (along with all her art), emphasizes the connection between the civilized and culturally advanced (as she puts it) human with its primal instincts and the connections to bodies that in many cases have not greatly evolved. What struck The Snottor in particular about her work, is the way it treats the relationship between human and animal; in a way, she gives “humanity” to wild animals, but that is not really the right word, The Snottor thinks, because it clearly, as Clark’s art shows, is a quality that belongs to more than human beings.
The point is that Clark, in her art, silently breaks down the boundaries between human and animal, and in that way both raises animals to the humanity of human beings, and also raises humans to the beauty and silent knowledge of animals.
There is something about her work that always captivates, that speaks to some truth that The Snottor thinks was in most of us all along.
What do you think about this? Do you think taxidermy is a perfectly viable form of art, or disgustingly inhumane? Do you have a favorite contemporary artist? Comment below and tell us!
Having seen many ‘19s in his days, The Snottor remains undaunted by this one. Looking back he would say that this ’19 is certainly less glamorous than last century’s, and certainly less tense than the century’s before that.
As we approach the dark-night-of-the-soul month of February, and are firmly in the whole chilly, sniffly, and dim post-holiday season before Spring, The Snottor finds that some good inspiration is in high order.
About this Artist:
For those further interested, a fabulous article has been written about Bondas, available HERE.
The Phlox in particular finds Marina Bondas’ life and work deeply inspiring; Bondas is a great artist in her own right, a conservatory-trained violinist–but she has done quite a bit more with her art than just make it.
Marina Bondas was born in Kiev, before moving to Germany with her family as a child; the civil unrest and war in Ukraine ironically has helped her reconnect to her mother country, where she now serves and gives freely of herself to connect with her people.
In a war-torn region, there is much that a brave volunteer, worker or citizen might be called to do, and art is low on the list. There is always need in any war or disaster for health providers, people to staff refugee centers, care for orphans and trauma victims, etc.
Bondas, however, has chosen a different route.
She returns to her homeland, where she performs in refugee centers, private homes, and often for ragtag groups of ordinary civilians she meets along the way. She shares music with people accompanied by the sounds of shelling outside.
Bondas is, in The Snottor’s opinion, the greatest artist alive. War is perhaps one of the most devastating phenomenons of being human; peace is disrupted, safety and predictability are swept away. Loved ones and the future you saw for yourself are lost, not by the forces of the world but to the brutality of other human beings. Art is often the last thing on anyone’s minds.
But art can be one of the greatest tools for humanity; she bravely brings it into the lives of people who need it most, giving them all, and herself, something other than war, something beyond devastation and uncertainty.
She also runs a summer camp in Ukraine to share music with children traumatized by the war many of them no nothing other than. She depends on donations every year to put it on; if you’re at all interested, as The Snottor is (he fishes his coach wildly for spare change), the Phlox has obligingly provided information (from Bondas’ Facebook page) below:
Christmas makes the Phlox get all romantic and sentimental. Need The Snottor say more?
About these Nonfiction Works
While The Snottor (and, the Phlox adds, the Phlox) works mostly in literary fiction, he does not turn his nose up at the illustrious genre that is Nonfiction (The Snottor tries generally not to turn up his nose at anything).
The world, The Snottor has observed, is currently all abuzz on the subject of Creativity. Chasing Creativity, Inspiration, fostering Creativity, etc. The Snottor, in his acidic opinion, finds the vast majority of this mumbo-jumbo to be garbage.
(excuse The Snottor for a moment, the Phlox is speaking to him on the topic of manners)
The Snottor remains unapologetic. He remains firm in his beliefs that creativity will not be found on Pinterest boards, it will not be found in this slippery thing called “Inspiration”—the Phlox has deleted the remainder of this rant. The Snottor digresses.
His point is that these books are the only useful helps on the subject of Creativity he knows of.
The Call to Create, Celebrating Acts of Imagination by Linda Schierse Leonard.
This book, grounded in Jungian psychology, is a comprehensive study of the inner demons of the artist and how these have affected many such people, and the roads to fighting them. She illustrates these things via archetypes, fairy and folktales, and some of her writing within it is truly revelatory. This book can be life-saving for the artist, especially the artist experiencing the downward mental and emotional spirals associated with that career.
The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield.
This book is not for artists, but for everyone; it is about the creativity that is the vitality of life, that helps you achieve your goals, that is behind art, yes, but also behind exercise and entrepreneurship, among many other things. This book is also steeped in the waters of psychology, and The Snottor particularly appreciated the discussion of the Ego vs. the Self that occurred within its pages. This is a book for humans, about being human. It is brief and always to the point; opening it at a random page and reading one of the short chapters would leave you with enough material to contemplate for months afterward (true story, this was the Phlox’s first experience with the book). Here is the link to the author’s website, specifically his page on this book: https://stevenpressfield.com/books/the-war-of-art/
It’s a great website, and the rest of the material is definitely worthy of being checked out.
What are your favorite works of Nonfiction? Or treatises on Creativity? Or works on psychology? Comment below and tell us!
The Snottor has been indulging in film. Novembers can be a gloomy time in the garden; excessive downpour alternating with chilly frosts does little for the benefit of the poor misguided daffodil shoots, somehow tricked into thinking it’s already Spring. The Snottor refuses to be down-hearted by the cycles of life, unlike the affected Phlox, but he does find some time on his hands. Thus, indulgence.
About these Adaptations:
In this solemn article, The Snottor will be reviewing two titles. First: the 2009 Masterpiece Theater adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Second: the 2011 Andrea Arnold adaptation. He shall withhold not one drip of his long-percolated acidity, yet no sparkle of his hard-earned praise.
1: 2009 Masterpiece Theater Wuthering Heights:
The Snottor had done his research beforehand; dutifully learned about the many different adaptations out there, weighed the pros and cons, when the lusty Phlox grabbed the first two she saw on the library shelves (her fiery desire for art in all its forms sometimes dulls her sense of judgement and self-restraint, The Snottor sorrows to inform the reader) and eagerly brought them home for him, like a kitten proudly displaying her revoltingly dead present for her mistress.
The Snottor watched the Masterpiece Theater version first. He had heard little of it in others’ reviews and expected less; although the disk was horribly scratched and malfunctioned the whole way through (luckily The Snottor knew the story very well and was able to maturely handle the intermittently skipped one-third of the film), he was blown away. Yes, The Snottor was blown away, and, as the Phlox sagely observed, this is not something to be taken lightly.
What The Snottor Liked
Very good acting throughout, he approved most of the fact that the fine people behind this adaptation kept the whole story, a rare phenomenon in the world of Wuthering Heights adaptations were most seem to want to focus on the forbidden-love aspect and not the complete complexity of Brontë’s work. The ending in particular was spectacular, and re-created the haunting, rushed feeling of the end of the book (the whole Heathcliff’s death part), and the way the film-makers chose to end it with the last shot (no spoilers), The Snottor thought true to the book yet a wonderful creative choice.
What The Snottor Did Not Like
If he had directed it, The Snottor would have given all the sub-characters more attention. He felt that Edgar was portrayed almost as an antagonist, and certainly not as the complex, amazing character he is; Hareton didn’t have enough character development—he was sort of the end-Hareton the whole time; Nelly was more in the background than Emily Brontë treated her, and The Snottor would definitely give more time to her sibling/crush relationship to Hindley and foster-mother relationship to Hareton. He wishes the director would have really delved into each character as a the full person they were in the book more.
This was The Snottor’s favorite of the two, and definitely one he will re-watch (but hopefully with a different, non-scratched disk). The positives certainly out-weighed the negatives, and it was a fabulously moving piece of cinema that he highly recommends. It kept his heart racing (in the best kind of way) the whole time, and really made him (and the excitable Phlox) feel the drama of being alive.
2: Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights:
This was the second The Snottor watched. Arnold has a background in filming modern-day situations, particularly focusing on Realism in her film-making and on the lives of lower-class inhabitants of Britain, inspired by her own background. She intentionally cast inexperienced actors in most of the key roles, and shot the film with the intention of shaking up people’s expectations of costume-dramas and of Wuthering Heights. She used up-close filming and seemed to be highly focused on aestheticism throughout, keeping the music to a minimum and focusing on the sounds of nature.
What The Snottor Liked
It was definitely a very nice composition, art-wise. The choice of inexperienced actors was something The Snottor thought turned out tremendously, as young Cathy, young Heathcliff, and adult Heathcliff (all first-timers) were fabulous. Young Heathcliff especially, played by Solomon Glave, was incredible. His performance was charged by his frequent silence, and the intensity in his eyes was palpable; Arnold’s adaptation was very Heathcliff-centric, showing him as the protagonist and exploring how he became the man he was, and in this goal she certainly succeeded, helped not a little by Glave’s intensely real, highly sympathetic performance. The Phlox, who has been known to indulge in self-pity and can feel quite the social outcast, was painfully moved by his performance, which she identified with too intensely for her liking. The Snottor, although dubious of such highly-affected people, did think it really did breathe a wonderful life into the so often misunderstood, demonized, removed symbol of masculinity, or object of romantic desire, Heathcliff.
Arnold’s film style also had some positives. The Snottor and the Phlox both quite admired Arnold’s use of silence, and of listening to the sounds of nature; through these Heathcliff and Cathy’s early relationship was quite beautifully portrayed.
What The Snottor Did Not Like
The second half of the film wasn’t as good; adult Cathy really didn’t do it for him or for the Phlox, and she and adult Heathcliff had zero chemistry. Nelly was played by a very talented young lady but was pushed, like the Masterpiece Nelly, to the background, which was disappointing. The Phlox pipes up that she really had a problem with the animal cruelty, a view she shares with many viewers; Heathcliff hangs a defenseless and sweet spaniel, and Hareton hangs a litter of puppies. Both these things happened in the book, but in the book, Nelly saves all of them; in the movie this is not so. The sensitive Phlox feels particularly for the poor dogs who were clearly upset and in discomfort during these scenes, even if they walked away ultimately unscathed, and found these moments to be completely unnecessary.
The Snottor, as did most viewers of this version, is left with mixed feelings. This is the kind of art that leaves one feeling a little sick afterwards; everything very unconsummated, very uncomfortable, rather painfully listless and without an answer. The Snottor feels life can be like this enough that he prefers not to have a work of film emotionally manipulate him in such a way, but that is only a personal opinion.
Next on his watch-list? An adaptation in Japanese, Arashi ga Oka, set in Medieval Japan and reportedly a great adaptation that is very true to the spirit of the novel. What’s your favorite Wuthering Heights adaptation?
The Snottor and The Phlox are currently estranged. The Snottor always writes his posts on time (always). Always. However, he does not do the technology—that is in The Phlox’s job description. The Phlox has a myriad of excuses, but her general lateness has put The Snottor in high dudgeon. He has no regrets as to his harsh words with the little flower, considering the fact that, in addition to her lateness, she has been insisting, very juvenilely, upon wearing her skirt even during watering time, and then fretting when it becomes wet. The Snottor is only trying to be a good plant parent.
As a result of this unfortunate but hopefully brief incident, the Snottor’s mind has gone down dark paths, and he has decided to reveal one of the darker members of his obsessions.
About this Company:
The Snottor does not generally wear clothes himself (except his apron, which he makes), but the Phlox does, and, if the reader will have been keeping up with her side of the posts, they might have noticed a certain dark coat. This article is from the gothic clothing company, Necessary Evil, which can be located at https://www.necessaryevilclothing.co.uk .
Now, gothic clothing is certainly not for everyone, and some of these garbs are not even for The Phlox (who, at times, can be rather faint-hearted when it comes to baring her leafy skin), but, for those of his esteemed readers who are at all hams (flamboyant or, like The Phlox, secret hams), this company may be worthy of being looked into.
The Snottor finds their designs to be very fun, and well-made. The Phlox has had her particular coat for over two years, and it continues to function in optimal condition and bring quite a bit of joy to her be-petaled life. He hypothesizes that they can be utilized on Halloween, cosplay occasions, convention occasions, and, if the reader is anything like The Phlox, they can flounce about, demurely looking like an Auror/villain/badass character, for the daily grind.
Loyal followers of his musings have likely noticed the current lack of them. We are now, he pedantically observes, in the month of November, and his beloved readership remains deprived even of his October pearl. There is no one, of course, to blame, but The Phlox.
The Phlox has recently been seized by the affliction commonly known as “college applications”—she explains to the Snottor, who, be-scaled eyebrow raised, remains unimpressed.
Needless to say, she has been grounded. During her convalescence, The Snottor will politely hold her hand to aid her in updating this site, as he does not grace technology with his esteemed presence.
Again, apologies. The Snottor has tried to deliberately ‘lose’ The Phlox many times, in similar instances, but consistently with limited success. She likes him an inordinate amount, despite his scolding. Unfortunately, he doomfully informs his readers, she seems to be sticking around.
The Snottor has been in a contemplative mood. The Snottor has been in a philosophical mood [The Snottor objects to these lines but The Phlox thought it necessary to give the esteemed reader fair warning]. If The Snottor were a conciliatory animal, he would take this opportunity to apologize for the following article, which, he would regret, is rather scattered, going into several different directions. However, The Snottor is not a conciliatory animal.
About this [well, whatever it is]:
The reader can be forgiven if, upon reading the above title, their mind understandably went to dubious forest pools, algae and possibly malignant amoebas; to stripping one’s vestments and diving in (A Room with a View style)—
The Snottor does not carpe his diem in that way. He can, his petal-ed scribe hopes, be forgiven this fault. That is not the type of forest bathing he had in mind.
Walt Whitman once said, “Now I see the secret of making the best persons. It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth.” This quote came to The Snottor accompanied by an advisable jar of tea, and he approved of it. The Snottor lives by this principle so well, in fact, that his shower drain is clogged with dirt, and his aged skin begins to show signs of moss-ing. But beyond that.
There have been many who would espouse that trees are alive. Are they? The Snottor declines to answer—but, as long as there is oral history remembered, this idea persists—whether it be with the Norse Tree of Life, in the Greek idea of Nymphs, in the Native American and Shinto ideas of spirits which are connected to the physical world—these ideas are firmly a part of human relation to the world. This, as the reader likely is thinking, goes beyond trees—it puts one in mind of the beliefs found in Buddhism, of vibrations in the whole earth and natural world, in the universe. This is all easy for one to shake off and think lightly of.
However, as The Snottor has to remind his flowers (The Phlox especially; she is a wretchedly forgetful flower)—see for yourself. While The Snottor is fond of his gardening boots, there is something amazing in taking off one’s shoes—in digging one’s mysterious nails into the earth, in feeling the cold seep around one’s scales and claws. Try it—over moss, stones, damp or dry—cool forest mud. It is like you are taking gloves off your hands for the first time, or plugs from your ears, hoods from your eyes.
Now this is actually backed by science. While their are some flowers, like The Phlox, who are keen, romantic little things and have an active enough imagination to believe nearly anything, there are others (The Snottor, being truly wise, finds wisdom through feeling tempered by logic) who require proof of things. The Snottor has been enjoying the book Forest Bathing—called Shinrin-yoku in Japan—by Yoshifumi Miyazaki, who is a professional backing this idea by scientific studies, and encourages the reader to check it out (it has beautiful pictures, too).
Simply—there are so many things going on in this world, in our own lives, and inside ourselves, that it is hard to keep track of it all. It is easy to forget about the joy of the hike, or looking up at the trees, of standing still within the breathing center of a world all alive (it occurs to The Snottor that, on this point, Hayao Miyazaki would likely agree with him). To live.
Simply, his point is, don’t forget to explore the elemental mystery all around you. Feel it. Take off your shoes; be silent and breathe.
The Snottor, as the reader has likely perceived, is a lover of literature. Tending many flowers, he hears quite a bit of back-talking from them, and, recently, a bright gardenia suggested he sponsor some of the fledgling literary attempts he sees around him.
Enter: The Snottor’s Press.
The Snottor will now add a THIRD (things are getting slightly out of hand, he knows) prong to this blog, titled BOOK (the capitals are necessary for the exciting nature of this new adventure in the Snottor’s sage existence), wherein The Snottor will upload the novel of the poor little seedling he has condescended to patronize, bit by bit, every Friday.
Being, as the reader has seen, a loyal follower of the Victorian tradition, The Snottor, with much love towards the esteemed Charles Dickens and George Eliot, has decided to upload this work serially. That is, every week the reader will get more. This lights a particular kind of fire under the author’s editing pants that The Snottor finds highly beneficial.
NOTE: The uploaded work is a second draft. The esteemed Sunflower, Hibiscus, and Common Blue Violet, three of The Snottor’s favorite flowers, have already read and criticized, and the novelist has attempted to edit accordingly. However, as this novelist is still a very small flower, The Snottor advises the reader to pile on all constructive criticism thick, to aid in their artistic misadventures.
So, prepare yourselves. This Friday is the first. With love, The Snottor.
Despite the fact that the Snottor’s eyes are going, he does dip his pointy toes into the murky waters of the literary every now and then. Seeing as the Snottor can neither confirm nor deny his age, which he assures the reader is illustrious, one can never be entirely sure if he has ever frequented, haunted, or patronized Victorian England himself—however, the fineness of some of the gardens of that time period suggests to some individuals the affirmative, which might explain his unnatural fascination with the literature of that time period.
About this Work:
Many are likely familiar with Dickens—the great genius (Nabokov and most people), the insolent teacher/preacher (Virginia Woolf), the dreaded assignment (the Snottor will discreetly not elaborate, but he can think of names)—but fewer are familiar with his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, published in 1836.
The fabulous individuals at the BBC made an adaptation of this work in the ‘80s, which, despite being at first painfully fuzzy for the high-def-attuned-modern-eye, quickly grows on one, with the unfortunate yet often hilarious adventures of Mr. Pickwick and his comrades—Mr. Winkle, Mr. Tupman and, The Snottor’s personal favorite, Mr. Snodgrass.
The Snottor, although hating to admit any weakness, has been compelled by the proof-reading Phlox (The Snottor never deigns to proof-read) to add that he has not yet actually read this work. It is a terrible sin, he acknowledges, to watch a movie without having read the book, and hopes to rectify this immediately. However, from what he does know about the novel, now that the hopeless Phlox has let him off, he would like to add that it includes his favorites characters ever met in all of Dickens’ creation. Really—people rave about Miss Havisham, yes, he attests—Sydney Carton, Fagin, Scrooge—but that is only because they have not experienced the enlightenment that is Samuel Weller.
It is also likely his funniest.
It was meant to be entertaining, and one can see him flexing his novelist muscles—although, later on, the darker elements of debtor’s prisons and finagling lawyers that remained a deep theme in Dickens’ works enter even this hilarious comedy.
The Snottor promises the reader will never be the same again. The Snottor promises that whole new doors will open for the reader—snooty dialogue amongst thick arm-chairs with fellow conspirators, discovering with delight real-life Mr. Jingles (it has happened), and finally appreciating, with zeal, certain perviously over-looked passages of Little Women.