You can divide my class into three different groups. You have people like me and Ben that are in our classes because we want to write and because we love books; you have people like Abbie who want to become academicians; and you have people like one girl who took English just to be able to study politics in University and who need the writing skills in order to be an effective little demagogue.
Part of me is revolted that you want to use English for something so base as partisan hackery; where you twist the material to fit into a preconceived idea of how things should be, and where you bend a writer’s work to fit into an ideological narrative. Maybe I’m revolted because I have an undue respect for the material and the author.
We’re reading Benjamin Disraeli’s “Sybil” because it is the base for the “one nation conservatism” that define the beginning of the modern Tory party. One of the girls can not accept the book because it is written by a Tory. It has no value to her, and it is reading the “literature of the enemy”.
On the other hand, the main character in the book, Sybil Gerard, is a portrait of a strong and independent woman in the context of a highly patriarchal society. Disraeli was also a Chartist, which was a movement to improve the conditions of the working class in England during the industrial revolution. It was an entirely different time, and the political landscape was entirely different.
Therefore the resistance to read about it out of modern political notions seem to be so misplaced, and I can only note it as another example of the anti-intellectual nature of political activism today where knowledge and understanding is denigrated in order to be “on message”. Therefore, partisanship becomes a deceitful thing, designed to fool less knowing people into a fold.
And you have people like this girl who refuse to read a book by a politician that have been dead for centuries because of his association with the creation of the modern Conservative party.
I’ve said before that I believe in Mark’s idea that him and I are a political union of sorts. Not because we want it to be that, and not because we ever give that much thought. It is so because other people make us into a political symbol. To many our relationship is not so much two people who love each other, but more like two people who “are brave for being so open and a model for others”.
I hate that idea, because I think that if we’re a political symbol for some people, then we can be a negative symbol for others. Like two New Yorkers that I read about on the BBC website today whose wedding pictures had become the graphics used in anti-gay campaigning.
Some knobhead had scoured the net looking for same-sex couples to use in pamphlets and printed materials and on websites to illustrate the dangers of same-sex relationships. I wonder if Mark and I would ever face that ignominy.
This book, Disraeli’s, is a very “poor” book. The author forgets he’s telling a story and launches into political commentary all the time. It is a very nineteenth century type of book, and I have to sit here with a dictionary and an encyclopaedia and look things up all the time. It could, of course, mean that I’m barely educated, and don’t know anything, but my pride says I must blame the book.
I’m having free time until four o’clock when I can go down to the town centre. I could have gone home by now, but I’m lingering here because of that. I don’t want to wander around for nearly an hour before meeting Mark, so I can sit here and read this book. Or write this blog post, which seems much more exciting and interesting. That says a lot about the fun quotient of Disraeli, doesn’t it?
Today Mark and I are going to the cinema, and I have no idea what we are going to watch, but we decided that it would be nice to get out of the house for a bit.