Category:
Literature

Herrings Workers on Romance Covers

I don't think anyone will accuse Jane Liffen's article, published in a recent issue of Social Semiotics, of being overly broad in its focus. It's title is: “A very glamorized picture, that”: images of Scottish female herring workers on romance novel covers. Here's the abstract:
This article analyses portrayals of Scottish female herring workers on the covers of romance novels and investigates how far these representations conform to, or subvert, the genre of romantic fiction. Covers are analysed to establish whether they accurately portray Scottish female herring workers at their labour. If romanticisation of the women's working role is evident, the ways in which this manifests itself and the possible reasons for this romanticisation are examined. Composition of images and the mise-en-scene of covers are analysed, as well as aspects concerning the narratives of the novels, and elements of herring processing work that are noticeably absent in the depictions are also considered. These elements excluded from the covers are examined through theory relating to the abject in an attempt to ascertain whether the covers potentially provide models of female empowerment for the reader.

And here are some of the romance novel covers in question.



I'll spare you the trouble of reading the article by summarizing its findings. Gutting herrings is smelly, dirty work. This is not accurately portrayed on romance covers. (Thanks to Dave Monroe!)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 07, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Literature, Gender

The Westermarck Effect

The Westermarck Effect is a psychological phenomena named after Finnish anthropologist Edvard Westermarck. The effect is that (according to
Wikipedia): "when two people live in close domestic proximity during the first few years in the life of either one, both are desensitized to later close sexual attraction." Which is why most people don't get the hots for their sibling.

However, if siblings don't grow up together and only meet for the first time later in life, they may be intensely sexually attracted to each other. This is known as genetic sexual attraction, or GSA. Again, from Wikipedia:

Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average... Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a mate... In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.

Finally, there is the phenomena known as the Westermarck Trap, which occurs when two people who have grown up together (and thus are sexually desensitized to each other) are expected to marry each other, because of an arranged marriage. According to one theory, this is what the novel Frankenstein depicts:

Students of the Westermarck effect may be interested to know that this trap is depicted in the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, in which Victor Frankenstein is expected to marry a cousin reared with him. Instead, he creates a monster that persecutes him and murders his prospective bride before the marriage can be consummated. It is suggested that the plot owes something to Mary Shelley's own experience of the Westermarck effect, following a childhood in which she was reared with a stepbrother. Her own personal solution was not to create a monster but to elope with a married man (Percy Bysshe Shelley) at the age of 16.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 30, 2009 - Comments (8)
Category: Literature, Books, Sexuality, Psychology

Fishmen

Posted By: Paul - Fri Feb 27, 2009 - Comments (9)
Category: Gods, Holidays, Horror, Humor, Parody, Literature, Music, Regionalism, Video, Body Fluids

Read with Discernment

If you decide to shop for books at LifeWay Christian Stores, you may notice that some of the books are marked Read with Discernment. This label is to warn you that these books "may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology."

Presumably, if a book hasn't been so tagged, everything in it can be accepted blindly without discernment.

Some of the books marked Read with Discernment include Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, Searching for God Knows What, and Sex God. They sound pretty heretical to me! (via Friendly Atheist)

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 04, 2009 - Comments (9)
Category: Literature, Religion

Gilligan’s No Exit

Today we feature a guest post from that miraculous writer of the fantastical, the great Don Webb.

Take it away, Don!

Many of my generation have discovered (sometimes with the help of a certain herb) that the opening sequence of Wizard of Oz matches up with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Co-incidence or happenstance? Who can say? Was Pink Floyd under the "influence" of Frank Baum?

Another strange co-incidence has come to light. The lyrics of Gilligan's Island perfectly match up with Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."



Happenstance? Then riddle me this -- why does Gilligan's Island have exactly the same theme as Jean Paul Sarte's NO EXIT?

Consider:

Each one of the characters represents one of the 7 deadly sins:

- Ginger represents LUST - she wears skimpy outfits, is obsessed with her looks, and is a borderline nymphomaniac.

- Mary Ann represents ENVY - she is jealous of Ginger's beauty.

- The Professor represents PRIDE - he is an annoying know-it-all.

- Mr. Howell represents GREED - no explanation needed.

- Mrs. Howell represents SLOTH - she has never lifted a finger to help with their escape plans.

- The Skipper represents two sins: GLUTTONY - again, no explanation needed and ANGER - he violently hits Gilligan on each show.

- This leaves Gilligan. Gilligan is the person who put them there. He prevents them from leaving by foiling all of their escape plots. Also, it is HIS island. Therefore, Gilligan is SATAN.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 03, 2009 - Comments (23)
Category: Drugs, Literature, Music, Synchronicity and Coincidence, Television, Reader Recommendation, 1960s, 1970s, Europe

The Caterer

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One of the weirdest books you'll ever read is by my pal, Steve Aylett, and it's titled Lint. (You can order it through the Amazon link below.)

Lint is the "biography" of Jeff Lint, poverty-stricken, mad genius, hack writer, who is basically a cross between Kilgore Trout and Salvador Dali.

One of Lint's fictional creations was a comic-book character dubbed "The Caterer." And now you can read an actual issue of this gonzo masterpiece, thanks to Floating World Comics. A sample is to the right.

You must investigate this saga of one man and his senseless quest for perfect absurdity in a violent world, or risk being rendered null and void!





Posted By: Paul - Wed Jan 28, 2009 - Comments (5)
Category: Literature, Books, Science Fiction, Superheroes, Writers, Comics, Surrealism

Outlook for Pencil Sharpeners

This book by Philip Parker seems like a bargain for only $795, but since it doesn't discuss letter handling machines, I'm going to have to pass:

The 2007-2012 World Outlook for Electric Pencil Sharpeners, Staplers, and Other Electric Office Machines Excluding Mailing, Letter Handling, and Addressing Machines

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 05, 2009 - Comments (6)
Category: Literature

Teen Devotionals

Some examples of the curious genre of the Teen Devotional:

Can I Be a Christian Without Being Weird?
I'm not sure, but what I want to know is, can I believe in giant space lizards without being weird?

Fifty-six Days Ablaze
Fifty-six days burning in the fiery pits of Hell!

Anybody Can Be Cool-- But Awesome Takes Practice
These guys are still practicing.

If God Loves Me, Why Can't I Get My Locker Open?
First your locker won't open, then you get left behind during the Rapture. Sucks to be a Christian.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 26, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Literature, Religion

Di Filippo & Woodring Book Signing

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I'll be away in Seattle from Friday October 10 through Monday October 13, attending the launch party of my new novel, Cosmocopia. But I've stacked up four posts in the queue, all new FOLLIES OF THE MAD MEN. Enjoy!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Oct 09, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Literature, Books, Science Fiction, Travel, Weird Universe, Paul

Smoki Bacon

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And yet more bacon!

Smoki Bacon, that is, glamorous NYC and Boston socialite and literary bon vivant.

How could Smoki's Zelig-like presence at all the great intersections of literary history have escaped me till this very moment?

Sample the tasty Bacon yourself in this highlights reel from her cable-TV show with Dick Concannon.





Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 28, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Celebrities, Literature, Writers, Odd Names, Television

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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