Monday, March 27, 2017

Exploitation and unfinished business in the life of Marie Corelli

There are some lessons to be learned from the financially successful but personally sad life of best-selling Victorian novelist Marie Corelli. 

One of these lessons is about taking responsibility where appropriate, as opposed to blaming someone else. It particularly involves learning to be a good judge of character and not being influenced by factors such as self-interest, self-deception and wishful thinking, as opposed to blaming the other party for not being what we thought they were or wanted them to be.

Blaming people for deceiving us and letting us down seems to be the default. We need to learn to look after our side of things; we need to learn from experience what to look for in people. In particular, we need to learn to recognise warning signals.

This extract from Marie Corelli's book The Silver Domino shows that she knew, in theory at least, that people should take responsibility and blame themselves for their own poor judgement when they feel that they have been deceived by someone:

"Remember that if you do persuade yourself into thinking that I am a Somebody, and if I turn out after all to be a Nobody, it is not my fault. Don't blame me, blame your own self deception."

This is admirable; it is spot on. However, she talked a better game than she played; she didn't apply her wise words to herself. The Silver Domino was published in 1892; here is an extract from The Young Diana, first published in 1918:

"I asked for love – now I ask for vengeance. I gave all my heart and soul to a man whose only god was Self, and I got nothing back…So I have a long score to settle, and I shall try to have some of my spent joys returned to me – with heavy interest."

This is Marie Corelli speaking for herself, and from bitter experience. She was raging at a man she had been infatuated with, because she felt that he had deceived her; he was not what she thought he was and wanted him to be. She had become disappointed and disillusioned. The expression 'Hell hath no greater fury than a women scorned' very much applies in her case.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Who having known the Diamond...

Who having known the Diamond will concern himself with glass?”

I like this quotation from Rudyard Kipling's autobiographical work Something of Myself very much.

Kipling's words go straight to the heart. They say to me that people who have encountered the best will not settle for or want to be involved with anything less. I see his words as a very neat and clever way of saying that anyone who has experienced the real thing will not be fooled by a counterfeit or a cheap copy.

I know from experience that this is not always the case. Some people ignore, avoid and reject the diamond and home in on and embrace the glass. I have seen innumerable examples of such twisted values in the past, and often wondered why this should be.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Popcorn time and popcorn timing

I really liked the expression 'popcorn time' when I heard it for the first time a few years ago. It is a spectator sport alert, a neat and clever way of telling people to get ready because an amusing show is about to start.

I have seen it used a lot recently, and this has reminded me of a popcorn-related incident from the past.

It all started when I took some young children to a shopping centre to see the Christmas attractions. There was a popcorn-making machine there that fascinated my young friends. The popcorn danced on a jet of air; they watched this for a long time.

It was obvious that they wanted me to buy them some popcorn, but a small paper cup cost a small fortune and the popcorn didn't even look very good. As a matter of principle, I won't pay exorbitant prices for low-quality products.

The youngest girl cried and I felt guilty. I remembered getting some really good popcorn from Marks & Spencer a while back, so I promised them that I would bring some with me the next time I came to see them.