Tania's Words

here is an empty shell- a resonant shadow- waiting

Archive for Ghost Hunters

On International Varieties of Ghosts and Fighting Jane Austen…Sort of.

We need to talk about my obsession with these Ghost Hunter tv shows on the SyFy channel. They are really terrible, and yet, it it like a car wreck. I just can’t look away. I think they are starting to warp my brain in a sad sort of way.  Parker was playing on the floor and he crawled into my lap to play with my hair. He was being really cute and giving me kisses and laughing hysterically. And all I could think about was…what if my house was haunted? What if my son was possessed?

The kicker is, that I don’t believe in ghosts or haunting. Yeah. I am just that suggestible. If that is even a phrase.

Anyway, I did manage to focus on playing with my baby, thank goodness. Poor little guy got four shots today, and took them like a trooper. His trip to the doctor was probably the most ambitious thing I attempted all day, other than waking up at 5:30. For some reason I am just unreasonably lazy today. I can’t even bring myself to pick up the toys in my family room. I’ve been reading Mansfield Park and watching…of course….Ghost Hunters International. Yes, this show comes in both domestic and imported flavours.

Speaking of Mansfield Park, I’ve been getting more and more into it. I have to say that I love, love, love that classics are available at Barnes and Nobles for only 5$.  The version of M. P. I have seems to have a wonderful introductory essay in the beginning, which I only skimmed. Unlike many other Austen novels, I was not remotely familiar with the story, and therefore didn’t want to ruin the storyline. Anyway, I am into the story enough that I started to jot down some reactions to the book while Dan was hogging the internet with his video game.

First, I must confess that I am only halfway through Mansfield Park, yet despite this fact, I feel the need to discuss it. So if you’ve read it or are reading it, feel free to throw rotten tomatoes at me, or just tell me what you are thinking, comment away!

I’ve heard and read that M.P. is often a lesser favourite amongst Austen fans- complaints that Fanny doesn’t do anything, say anything, excite much interest of any sort; basically that she’s pretty boring and lame.  And while I have to agree in some sense- after all Mary Crawford reminds me much more of Elizabeth Bennet (P&P), than does Fanny, I think this book is really rather interesting for other reasons.

But first I have to digress and talk about Mary for a moment. In so many ways she is so like Eliza in P&P…outspoken and a bit saucy, opinionated and yet friendly. So why do I not like her the way that I liked Eliza? It isn’t that I am in Fanny’s corner so to speak…I mean, I don’t really care if Fanny get’s Edmund in the end…but Mary rubs me the wrong way…

Now, I love a good romance. And Austen does romance so well in books like Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, it is hard to come from reading those (and even Sense and Sensibility, which I didn’t like as well, but was also at its core, a romance), to reading Mansfield Park, where the focus is so much more broad and sweeping. Well maybe this isn’t the right way to put it. But this book doesn’t seem to be, at its core, about love or romance. I get more of a feeling that it is a broader social portrait or commentary on a microcosm of society.

Let me just remind myself that I haven’t finished the book, so I’d probably be better off leaving the generalizations aside. Anyway. I had to remark, however, that this book is interesting when you look at it from another angle (other than the romance angle, that is). Austen does so well giving us a microcosm of her world and society, of painting a larger picture with it. One thing that has struck me so well with M.P is the way she imagines the idea of “Improvement.”

All over this book are references to “improvements” of places- Sotherton and Thornton Lacey for example.  The question of what to do and how best to improve the look and feel and sense of these places is unavoidable. Take into account as well other “improvements” we see throughout the book, (turning Sir Thomas’s study into a theater for example), I found it interesting in juxtaposition with the development of the characters, who don’t seem to have as equal of a chance at improvement.

The first example of this which comes to mind is that of Mr. Rushworth, who is generally though badly of by all in the Crawford clan once they get to know him. At one point Edmund even remarks that there isn’t much that could ever really make him more tolerable, even with time. He’s basically seen and stupid and boring and…well…totally lame. And everyone is like, Oh well, he’s lame, but good thing he’s rich. Yay. And yet no one thinks that in time, he’ll develop a personality, or you know, mature in anyway.

I haven’t reached my conclusions yet, however, I think it will be interesting to see how this idea develops as I read on. The idea that landmarks and places, things which we might see as unchanging and immutable in general, can be so generally regarded as easily fixed, or repaired; while people might be seen as stamped forever into the mold they were born to. This interests me. People often seem to fall into one of two categories. Those of us who believe that people can change, and those who think that people cannot.

Now I cannot speak for Jane Austen, but based on certain evidence (One Mr. Darcy), I’ve gotten the impression that she did believe that with the right incentive or cause, people could change. So I am interested to see how this plays out through the rest of the novel.

Of course, I am an idealist, so I firmly believe that people can change. Maybe this is why I believe that Ms. Austen felt this way as well. I’ve always felt that if even only one person in the world has managed it (to change that is), then it is possible for anyone. And you can’t tell me that in the whole history of the world, this hasn’t happened.  I challenge you.

Ok, now that I’ve thrown down my gauntlet, I am off to read more of my book. Draw some more random and probably crazy conclusions that make no sense. Well, if you’ve made it this far into my random post of nonsense, congratulations! You win the perseverance award for the day.  Go you.

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