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Monday, February 19th, 2007
1:52 pm
Angela Mcleland
Film 1
February 19, 2007

Peter Whitehead

The first movie about Pink Floyd is a documentary in both color and black and white. The sound used is the sound of the music they are playing because Whitehead is shooting a series of concerts and jam sessions. As the film progresses it begins to include other subjects such as the poet Allen Ginsberg and incorporates political messages of the 60’s and Vietnam. The film uses stop motion several times to make it seem even more dreamlike than it already does and occasionally uses slow motion. The second film, also a documentary about a band in the 60’s is the Beach Boys documentary about their tour and experiences in London and other parts of England. Marianne Faithful narrates the film but it mostly uses the sounds of the Beach Boys in concert and their dialogue instead of a typical narration driven documentary. This film also had a hazy dreamlike feeling and the occasional piercing noises add to this effect. It is unclear if this is intentional or not, but often times the syncing between the sound and the visuals is off which is confusing but not a negative element of the film. The third and final film Nothing To Do With Me- 23 November 1968 is a black and white narrative shot in a series of interiors through microscopes that were used in the 60’s and 70’s at Cambridge. The entire film is a man talking about various parts of life and it is unclear if he is on a mind-altering drug such as mescaline and it is difficult to get a firm grasp on what he is trying to say. Overall, two out of the three films were interesting, with the Beach Boys documentary most engaging because it did not allow the viewer to space out and delve into their own thoughts and not pay attention to the film as easily as the other two. The Pink Floyd movie was pleasant but it seemed like something that would be playing in the background at a party rather than a film to watch silently in a dark room.

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
12:28 pm
Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Annual 2001 v23 p205(10)

Jane Austen and the reconsigned child: the true identity of Fanny Price. (Miscellany). (Mansfield Park) Souter, Kay Torney.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2001 Jane Austen Society of North America

JANE AUSTEN IS THE ARTIST of the settled village and meticulously delineated family relations, but in this paper, I consider some of the ways that her novels represent and work through the ancient literary theme of child-stealing, an area of concern that seems the antithesis of these things. The association of Jane Austen and the representation of the stolen child is no mere act of scholarly eccentricity on my part. Child-stealing is an extremely common phenomenon, but seldom named as the ugly thing it is; instead, it is often disguised as something unavoidable and benign, if not absolutely virtuous. As a phenomenon, it presents in many ways: as illegal, semi-legal or forced adoption, as patronage, as education, as "resettlement," as child protection, and so on (Torney 1993). For the young subject of these common practices, working through the mysteries of his or her familial origins is a central task of growing up. The representation of this task is central to much major literature since Oedipus Rex, and esp ecially to the nineteenth-century novel: Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, and The Mayor of Casterbridge, to make an almost random selection of canonical works, deal explicitly with the effects of moving children around and obscuring their family origins. Austen's development of the possibilities of the representation of consciousness (Copeland and McMaster) helped to make possible the focus on the young person's struggle to understand the meaning of family background, and there are a surprising number of examples of it in Austen's later work, where she considers problems of consolidating psychic identity when the place and the people one has to individuate from are not completely clear.

Child-stealing is a phenomenon which occurs throughout history, and thus answers a powerful psychological need in adults. The idea of the Reconsignable Child seems to be a sort of a sinister counterpart to the fantasy of the Family Romance (Freud), (1) a conviction that just as the child fantasized that one could take parents from anywhere, an adult may place a child anywhere. But adults often have the social-political means to enact dangerous fantasies, and children are moved about in the context of contemporaneous social-political realities (Henry and Hillel; Wallace; Lewin). The backdrop of slavery and early capitalism, issues which are particularly pressing in Mansfield Park (Said; Southam), frame much of Jane Austen's engagement with the phenomenon of child-stealing. To what extent is the child a chattel, to be bought and sold? Austen's young heroines undertake the project of "inventing" a tolerable social and psychological space for themselves in a world structured by these frightening social institutio ns.

There is also an economic component to establishing a firm identity. Austen's main characters are always shown in a rather frightening relation to their domineering elders and betters, emphasizing the question of how these young people will establish a claim to society's goodies. Typically, the young people are threatened with perpetual domination and poverty by means of the twin plot devices of the entailed estate and male succession, but there are others as well: social position, capricious relatives, large families, ill-health, for example. The problem may be worse for women. Austen's novels, especially Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, represent society as set up for the transferal of economic resources from male to male, and the prototypical women's dilemma in this society is how to find a psycho-social outcome which is neither dreadful nor depersonalizing. Austen's heroines tinker with their ideas about the accommodation of the self with society until they can live with the result. A central factor in this delicate balancing of hostile and anti-female social structures with the happy ending is that Austen does in fact explore the darker side of the construction of identity, and the threat of its possible failure, in part through the figure of the reconsigned child. In Austen's work, the identity of such children is in question from the beginning of the narrative. As they have been moved around among families, their domineering and asset-controlling elders inhabit more than one family, and are thus not so easy to split off and run away from, as Elizabeth Bennett does when she moves far from her embarrassing family to the gentility of Derbyshire.

This apparently exotic but actually rather common pattern of shifting children around is, of course, to be found in Jane Austen's own family: Austen's brother Edward was just such a child. It seems to be generally felt by Austen biographers that this caused no one much heartache (Blythe 11-12); but there are fictional indications that suggest other possibilities. In Emma, the maternal Isabella Knightley anguishes over the suffering she believes the widowed Mr. Weston must have experienced in surrendering his baby son to be raised by an uncle and aunt: "'There is something so shocking in a child's being taken away from his parents and his natural home! ... To give up one's child!'" Her husband, however, responds with characteristic sharpness: "'you need not imagine Mr. Weston to have felt what you would feel in giving up John or Henry. Mr. Weston is rather an easy, cheerful tempered man than a man of strong feeling'" (96).

Isabella's reflections give me reason to suspect an alternative reading of the situation of Edward Austen, who appears to have behaved impeccably to both his adopted and his biological families. This is a difficult and delicate task as many modern adoptees argue (Saffian), and some of the difficulties are explored in the problems of Austen's fictional characters. Might Edward Austen have resented his mother's ready abandonment? Did he feel strained by needing to consider two sets of parents? The fictional parallels with Edward Austen's circumstances explicitly consider the fostered/adopted child's duplicity, and the reasons for it. Mr. Weston clearly did not suffer much when he signed his son over to his unpleasant in-laws--but he expects Frank to love and respect him without a trace of ambivalence. One of the central mysteries of Emma is the way that hindsight allows the world to understand that Frank, who writes such handsome letters, behaves quite unaffectionately, though in a covert way: he writes to his natural father and new step-mother with effusive politeness, but he does not come near them until Jane Fairfax comes to town, and it suits him to follow her. Mrs. Price seems to have even fewer qualms: she packs off ten-year-old Fanny without a second thought, except a passing surprise that the wealthy sister should request a girl for reconsignment.

As I suggested earlier in this paper, Austen's novels in fact show a large number of reconsigned children: the plot of Emma is riddled with them. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax have both been orphaned and handed over to relations to raise; Jane Fairfax is handed over again in adolescence to her wealthy friends. In both cases, the adopting families adore the little ones they "inherit"; but that seems to make little difference for the young people themselves, who continue to feel oppressively obligated and hyper-cautious in their dealing with their complicated families. Harriet Smith has not been adopted at all; she has been subjected to a quasi-commercial transaction, which shows the reconsignment of the child at its most commodified. Harriet apparently has no idea at all whose daughter she might be, and does not seem interested: she has been packed off to boarding school, and her anonymous sponsors seem to consider her in no need of explanatory origins or a family. Curiously, Harriet seems less worried abou t her position than either Frank or Jane Fairfax, and although this might be because of Harriet's general dumbness, it might also reflect the fact that Harriet does not have to exhibit more than everyday politeness to nice Mrs. Goddard, the head-mistress paid to board her; she does not have to love her. Frank and Jane, by contrast, have to support that awful burden for children, perpetual gratitude. They cannot take their homes or existence for granted; they cannot be exasperating, rude, and contemptuous like normal adolescents. They have to be good to be loved, Frank out of fear, Jane out of pity. Though at first glance, Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever, and rich" (5), seems to be the very opposite of a reconsigned child, her situation in fact provides a sort of echo of it: she has been raised by the loving but somewhat too gentle Miss Taylor since losing her mother at the age of five, and when she reflects that as a spinster she will often have a niece with her, it does show her as a sort of Miss Bates, fe eding off a young niece's life, and is in congruence with the novel's pattern that shows children to be regarded as need-satisfiers for adults, rather than people with their own lives to map out.

Mansfield Park shows what is in many ways a similar pattern to Emma, but whereas in Emma the adoption plot is a sort of counterpoint to the main theme, Mansfield Park gives it complete centrality. Fanny and William Price, and Mary and Henry Crawford have all been packed off to be raised (at the end of the novel, the sturdier Susan Price has the same fate), and their developmentally inevitable search for economic and psychic stability must therefore be undertaken in an ill-defined role. When contemplating Fanny's quasi-adoption, good Sir Thomas and bad Mrs. Norris each in their different ways imagine her as a sort of perpetual though intimate guest; they believe that the child's position in her new environment can be controlled, that her identity as what Mrs. Norris considers "an indigent niece" will be stable, as will the adopting family's attitude to her. This is a belief which invariably causes problems: reconsigned children become like their adoptive families as far as values go, but if they are expected t o remain in their externalized positions, they never feel secure about their right to a home. William Price clearly does best, because he has been "adopted," as it were, by the Navy, which is set up for the rearing of young boys, and is Austen's benchmark of all that is noble in English life. As a young man, William is open and confident. Henry and Mary Crawford, however, are schemers to the bootstraps; and they like to arouse and tease affection. It seems fairly obvious that their history of being adored and manipulated in the domestic warfare between their aunt and uncle inclines them to believe that feelings are tools, if not in fact weapons, to be used when useful, and an investment against possible future need. But it is of course in Fanny Price that we see the clearest and most interesting pattern of the anguish of reconsignment.

Like all stolen children, Fanny is bundled off in what is imagined as a sort of philanthropy crossed with a need for free and biddable domestic help, and it is decreed to be in her best interests. Fanny's childhood home at Portsmouth is imagined by her wealthy benefactors as a sort of cultural impure, in Mary Douglas's sense (Douglas): a primitive marginal space characterized by dirt, disorder, bad morals, bad manners, and unrelenting sexuality. Margins, of course, always seem more central when one is in them; as the novel notes, Fanny "had always been important as play-fellow, instructress, and nurse" in her parents' home, and far from being pleased at her social and moral elevation, regards herself as painfully uprooted: "the despondence that sunk her little heart was severe" (Austen 14'). In correspondence with the commonplace that adoption and fostering often works well enough for babies and children, and equally often fails adolescents and adults, Fanny's childhood passes comparatively quietly, and it is not until she becomes a young woman that the difficulties with the outside world really take shape. The difficulty is what Sir Thomas initially foresaw, "cousins in love." Aunt Norris, with a child-stealer's confidence in the utter malleability of the child, then insisted that love would be out of the question, that the children raised in one household would be brother and sister in terms of the incest taboo, if not in terms of fortune and position. What this assertion leaves out of account is the emotional complications of Fanny's reconsignment to another family; because it suits the fosterers, she is expected to take on the sibling incest prohibition, without in fact having anything like sibling footing in respect of fortune or freedom in the household. A striking example of this can be seen in the episode where Fanny tries to interest Edmund in her grief about the idea of leaving Mansfield to live with Aunt Norris. Edmund reminds Fanny that she will always of course be free to walk in the grounds of Mansf ield (Austen 27). Nothing could make Fanny's contingent status in the house clearer than Edmund's attempt to reassure her: Mansfield never has been Fanny's home, so how can Edmund be her brother?

The contradiction inherent in Fanny's position is expressed in a range of ways, from the violence and crudity of Aunt Norris's insistence that Fanny should be regarded as a greedy invader, rather than a hapless debt peon, to the gentlemanly Enlightenment rationality of Sir Thomas, who wants Fanny to remember her origins, but to love her new family, to be, as he says "my niece," a position of less closeness than a daughter, but still of significance. Mansfield Park, in fact, represents Sir Thomas's position as in many ways a good and reasonable one, a way of understanding the real meaning of the reconsigned child's ambiguous position, which puts it on a level with the system of primogeniture. Sir Thomas, as an older son himself presumably, believes that it is natural that Edmund should suffer for his brother Tom, if necessary, and that Edmund's expectations, though decent, should be humbler than his brother's. He would therefore have no difficulty in accepting that Fanny should tolerate a "natural" distinction between herself and her cousins. This does make a sort of sense, but the mind of Sir Thomas is, as it were, undermined by the mind of Aunt Norris; that is, the rational and kindly in society must be taken alongside the irrational and cruel (as it has been pointed out that kindly Sir Thomas's fortune is based on the horrors of slavery in the Caribbean). Aunt Norris, who is of course quite close to being herself what she resents in Susan Price, "a spy and an indigent" relative, reveals the reverse side of the Enlightenment concept of social gradation: Fanny represents a hated version of herself, one that can be persecuted and tortured with impunity, even with approbation. Aunt Norris has a good deal of success with this strategy, which is a relief to her feelings of despair and rage at her socially dependent position, until Fanny becomes sexually significant.

This is of course the fairy-tale position: the intruding step-daughter is tolerated until one day the mirror reveals her to be a competitor! Just as Fanny Price is useful to Aunt Norris, and has actually been adopted at her suggestion, because she provides an even more dependent and penniless relation for Aunt Norris to despise, so Maria and Julia Bertram provide Aunt Norris with gratifying versions of herself, good relations to Sir Thomas. The most appalling proposition for Aunt Norris is for Fanny, her psychic rubbish dump, to enter into a successful competition with Maria and Julia, the ego-ideals. And that, of course, is what happens. Mansfield Park shows that adopted, fostered, and reconsigned children are loose cannons in the battlefield of intra- and inter-family transactions. They have independent moral codes and may not see obligations as others do; they do not necessarily align with family expectations. Fanny, who has done so badly under the scheme of social gradation that Sir Thomas admires, will n ot consider marrying to improve her position; she would presumably see it as a version of being shipped off to the Bertrams to improve her position. As an indigent niece, that is, poor and female and not the closest of relations, she sees herself as cut loose from purely social obligation, and especially from the first requirement of a woman in patriarchy, that she bring credit to her male relatives. She completely declines to understand why she should marry Henry Crawford. Likewise, Henry Crawford feels no obligation to esteem marriage as a sort of social glue, having lost his parents and been raised subsequently by a warring husband and wife. He thus feels no anxiety about destroying marital happiness in others, and is happy to love outside the rule of social propriety and reciprocity--which is just what Fanny does. Henry's version of love seems to include the use of another as a need-satisfier, a lesson learnt in his uncle the Admiral's house. Mary Crawford reveals another version of the pattern: she appea rs to regard the loved one as a project, to be played with and altered at will.

The explosions of sexual maturity in these formerly passive waifs and strays reveal what the fosterers have not suspected: their unpredictable generativity, their propensity for forming families of their own. The adopting adults have blindly considered the children as generationally frozen: perpetually cute, biddable babies. Whether this neglect of the future independent adult in the adopted child means that the fosterers are simply familiarly omnipotent about their own centrality in the power structures of the family, or whether it means that the fostered children are regarded more as property than as people, is not so clear. Frail Fanny Price, however, turns out, to the amazement of her foster-family, to have retained the aspirations of her childhood, where she was "important as play-fellow, instructress, and nurse," and also to have combined them with the values of her uncle and her cousin Edmund. Her uniquely composed moral code makes her absolutely immovable! It also means that she mystifies all those ar ound her, both her family of origin and her foster family: the central nurturing role she left behind in her childhood disqualifies her from desiring a life as "a prosperous beauty" (332), like Lady Bertram, shoring up the upper-middle class order; but her upper-class Enlightenment training, prizing reason, calm, order disqualifies her from life in Portsmouth as a sailor's wife or daughter.

I think, then, that it is possible to see the action of Mansfield Park as revolving round the issue of where children come from, rather than, as in Pride and Prejudice, of where they go. In a sense, the novel shows that Austen's society, as she understood it, legitimizes only one form of descent: from Sir Thomas to Sir Thomas. This might be said perhaps to be the plot kernel also of King Lear: daughters and bastard sons as wild cards in the family pack. Such children do not docilely pick up what the parents expect, and, as the family does not work for them, strictly speaking, they cannot be trusted to further its good. As doubly marginalized daughters, Mary Crawford and Fanny Price are thus extra-legitimate in a way: the great play the novel makes about the unconventionality and propensity for social mischief of the Crawfords--Henry's flirting, or Mary's wish to have her harp conveyed by cart at hay-making time, for instance--is mirrored in Fanny's anomalous position in the social order. Is Fanny "out," or is she not? The question is canvassed at length, but the issue is never decided. Mary Crawford feels that it is a mystery: "'She dined at the parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being out; and yet she said so little, I can hardly suppose that she is .... And yet in general, nothing can be more easily ascertained. The distinction is so broad"' (48-49). Edmund decides the issue cannot be relevant to Fanny: "'My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman, and the outs and not outs are beyond me.'"

"Yet ... and yet": Fanny is in fact a hybrid, with no secure place in the social order, and thus neither "out" nor "not out," both part of and excluded from the family, both marriageable and profoundly unmarriagable; merely a human object, until rescued by reciprocated love.

Mansfield Park thus emphasizes the idea of the dangers of illegitimacy by using an even more alienated and dangerous figure than the bastard son or non-inheriting daughter to disrupt the family of fosterers: the slave child, for whom sexual maturity provides its only hope for revenge upon the clutch of wicked stepmothers, aunts and ogre-uncles who have been exploiting its potential as plaything or worker. It is genuinely touching to see how Austen shows these children as drawn together, how Henry Crawford falls in love with Fanny's patience and suffering in her servitude, presumably as reminding him of an idealized part of his own experience at his uncle's house; how Fanny enjoys the company of the destructive Mary Crawford in spite of herself, presumably for acting out her own unconscious contempt and hatred of her circumstances. Reconsigned children, anomalies who cannot fulfill their obligations to all parties in their families, are obliged to act good when they feel bad, and they are liars, too. Frank Chu rchill and Jane Fairfax have to lie all the time; Mary and Henry Crawford delight in it. Even virtuous Fanny Price tells Sir Thomas an out-and-out lie: "her lips formed into a no, though the sound was inarticulate, but her face was like scarlet.... She would rather die than own the truth, and she hoped by a little reflection to fortify herself against betraying it" (316).

This seems to me to shed light on their basic condition: reconsigned children must lie because they are caught between two social truths; it is only powerful patriarchs like Sir Thomas and Mr. Knightley who can think the truth is a stable entity, available to everyone. Sexual maturity, a sort of undeniable truth in itself, liberates the slave-child into a world where she may have a chance to make her own truths and bargains, and to find herself new masters.

In short, the figure of the child shifted away from its family of origin allows Jane Austen to explore the most intense difficulties of psychic individuation and satisfaction for young people. Even more strikingly than the young women at the mercy of sexist entails, fostered children must fight to find the familial and social space necessary if one is to individuate from anything. Such children are psycho-familial hybrids from the date of the reconsignment, and every successful establishment of self is a massive triumph of survival. Readers often resent Fanny Price as a sniping moralist. I believe that the strength of her sometimes unpleasant moralizing reflects the strength of the effort it takes for her to create a coherent self with which, and from which, to love and hate. Like women in general in Jane Austen's novels, Fanny Price and other reconsigned children must fight ferociously to create a self, and it might be thought that the marks of that fight in this case provide the bearable identity. Their vic tory in establishing a true identity shows that the child is not inevitably condemned to remain a creation of the grown-ups' wish fantasy of the reconsignable child. In the end, Fanny Price frees herself from one of the Oedipal myths of patriarchal capitalism, the principle that children belong to the father and can be shifted around like any other sort of manufactured goods, and she creates an adult self out of the particular circumstances of her life as she experiences it.

NOTE

1. This is an inexhaustible and often comic theme with which creative writers work to the present day. See, for example, the novels of Barbara Trapido: her characters in the linked novels Temples of Delight (1990) and Juggling (1992) wrestle with the endlessly fascinating question of generational truth, and seem, even when they have tracked down the very last relevant sperm, to find it easier to believe that fatherhood, and occasionally motherhood, is nothing but a comic myth anyway, and that one's "real" father is Shakespeare (in Juggling), or Mozart (in Temples of Delight).

WORKS CITED

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12:27 pm
The Explicator, Summer 1998 v56 n4 p181(3)

Austen's 'Mansfield Park.' (novel by author Jane Austen) Palmer, Sally B.

Abstract: Woman author Jane Austen knowledge of breeding to signify decorum in its literal and figurative sense is reflected in her novel 'Mansfield Park.' The novel portrays different kinds of horses in correlation to the different characters in the story. A scrutiny of Austen's work would suggest that, in the author's view, the family amounts to a controlled domestic breeding program where only the morally well-bred are selected to reproduce and therefore perpetuate the family lineage.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1998 Heldref Publications

In nineteenth-century British fiction, the primary role of the middle- to upper-class aunt with respect to her nephews and nieces is to oversee the development of proper manners and promote suitable marriages. The term breeding encompasses both these matters, both in its literal sense and figuratively, as Jane Austen uses it, to signify decorum. The aunt, then, assumes the position of a breeder - a bloodstock agent or horticulturist, both of which professions were just emerging in the first half of the nineteenth century. Stockbreeders were also known as "improvers."(1)

Although in Austen's day the voyage of the Beagle was still to come, interest ran high in pre-Darwinian and Lamarckian ideas about the laws of organic development and natural selection as they related to both biological and social characteristics. An 1814 manual mentions the necessity of agricultural crossbreeding,(2) and sheep were being cooperatively bred in 1827 for "joints" or wool. By 1840 David Low was boasting that "the cultivation of the Horse . . . has been carded to the highest perfection," and asserted:

Since 1750 the practice of breeding has been reduced to a system, and founded upon principles. To the natural causes which produce diversities in the characters of animals, we must add those produced by art. By breeding from animals of certain characters, we can communicate the distinctive properties of the parents to the progeny. (i)

Jane Austen's knowledge of this subject surfaces in Mansfield Park, where we read about different kinds of horses correlating to different characters: Tom Bertram's thoroughbred racehorses, Edmund's hunters, the cart horse to carry Mary Crawford's harp, and the pony and "ladies' mount" for Fanny Price to ride.

The problem of the apricot tree in Dr. Grant's garden producing fruit of an inferior variety calls attention to the subject of domestic breeding and in doing so addresses the central problem of the novel itself: corruption of the family line. We read about it in a brief interchange between Dr. Grant and Mrs. Norris, whose role as the Bertram aunt is to forge prudent marriage connections and thus preserve the quality of the original family stock. The interchange occurs in the middle of a discussion of "improvements" to be made at Sotherton Court, significant in view of the two meanings for the word. Sotherton faces "improvements" in its scenic aspect - the cutting down of ancient trees - and "improvements" in the breeding line - anticipating the impending marriage of Maria Bertram to Sotherton's Mr. Rushworth - neither of which will prove salutary. Mrs. Norris says:

We were always doing something [to improve the place]. It was only the spring twelvemonth before Mr. Norris's death, that we put in the apricot . . . which is now grown such a noble tree, and getting to such perfection, sir. (Austen 478)

Although the object of discussion is Dr. Grant's apricot tree, Mrs. Norris might equally be speaking of Sir Thomas Bertram's family tree, whose youngest branches have been her especial pride and care, and with which she can likewise find no fault. Dr. Grant's reply also applies to the Bertram family: "The tree thrives well beyond a doubt, madam, the soil is good; and I never pass it without regretting, that the fruit should be so little worth the trouble of gathering" (478). In Mansfield Park the family represents the land, and the land the family. Here we learn that Mansfield Park should be producing a better generation of heirs.

Always anxious to absolve herself from blame and to deny faults in her favorites, Mrs. Norris indignantly defends the quality of the tree's fruit by invoking its pedigree name, whose similarity to the name of Mansfield Park should not be ignored. She also alludes to its high price, reflecting the high economic status of the Mansfield Park family: "Sir, it is a moor park, we bought it as a moor park . . . and I know it cost seven shillings, and was charged as a moor park."

When, later, the quality of Mansfield Park stock - Bertram scions Tom and Maria - proves as corrupt as the apricots worthless, Mrs. Norris, although the primary breeding agent, again refuses responsibility. It is left to Fanny Price, herself grafted onto the Bertram rootstock by her aunt's efforts, to reject crossbreeding with the tainted Crawford stock and ensure that the ancient line is transmitted pure with a closed system of inbreeding through Fanny's marriage to her cousin Edmund.

Many critics have noted in Mansfield Park Austen's essential distrust of modern reconstructions or "improvements" upon traditional family life, as well as on the "noble old places" where they live. Yet, at the novel's end, when the reconstructed Mansfield Park family has itself been "improved" by the elimination of aunt Norris and Maria, the substitution of Fanny as daughter, and the importation of Susan Price as resident niece, it is evident that we are to see this reconfigured family as changed for the better. For Austen, the Bertram pedigree has been shored up and the line of descent improved through the natural consequences of morality and immorality. This, then, is Austen's "natural selection."

Alistair Duckworth, in "Jane Austen's Accommodations," sees Austen's aim in Mansfield Park as to "invigorate existing structures." In a program to preserve a declining bloodline, hybrid vigor is achieved by introducing a strong representative of a different strain. Austen inserts Fanny Price's middle-class blood into the depleted Bertram strain, whose effeteness is suggested by the perennial lassitude of Lady Bertram and the moral degeneration of Tom and Maria. In rejecting deficient bloodstock such as the Crawfords, and discarding defective specimens such as Maria Bertram, Austenian family reconfiguration amounts to a controlled domestic breeding program where only the morally well-bred are selected to reproduce and thus perpetuate the family lineage.

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12:27 pm
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Autumn 2004 v44 i4 p737(16)

Austen's later subjects. (Jane Austen)(Critical Essay) Rohrbach, Emily.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2004 Rice University

In her 1925 essay on Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf spends some time discussing Austen's early work The Watsons and suggests that it, though "in the main [an] inferior story," contains "all the elements of Jane Austen's greatness":

The turns and twists of the dialogue keep us on the tenterhooks of
suspense. Our attention is half upon the present moment, half upon
the future. And when, in the end, Emma behaves in such a way as to
vindicate our highest hopes of her, we are moved as if we had been
made witnesses of a matter of the highest importance. Here, indeed,
in this unfinished and in the main inferior story are all the
elements of Jane Austen's greatness. It has the permanent quality of
literature. Think away the surface animation, the likeness to life,
and there remains to provide a deeper pleasure, an exquisite
discrimination of human values. Dismiss this too from the mind and
one can dwell with extreme satisfaction upon the more abstract art
which, in the ball-room scene, so varies the emotions and proportions
the parts that it is possible to enjoy it, as one enjoys poetry, for
itself. (1)

While the current climate of Austen criticism--with its emphasis on politics, historicism, ideology--would seem to worry about stripping the narrative down to this last level of "the more abstract art" in order simply "to enjoy it ... for itself," this essay seeks first to do precisely that with two of Austen's later novels, but also to suggest, however briefly, that the fruits of an investigation at the level of the "abstract art"--that is, the discovery of a self-reflexivity in Austen's representations of the subjects--can, in fact, further our understanding of the representational depth of recent political reinterpretation.

Of the three novels that Austen composed in the second decade of the nineteenth century, Mansfield Park and Persuasion posed particular demands for her narrative technique that were quite new. The heroines are neither impertinent nor remarkably self-deluded, and so Austen rejects in them, as A. Walton Litz has said of Fanny Price, "the principle of growth and change which animates most English fiction." And he writes of Persuasion. "The drama of self-deception and self-recognition which holds our interest in the earlier novels is almost totally absent ... and without it the field for irony is greatly reduced." (2) While Emma, the novel written in the years between these two, is of course the "drama of self-deception and self-recognition" par excellence, in Mansfield Park and Persuasion, that "surface animation"--to borrow Woolf's words--would seem already dismissed. Austen's putting aside of "the principle of growth and change," I suggest, facilitates her focusing, through these heroines, on the abstract stuff of her art, the very medium of narrative in its spatial and temporal capacities to represent mental life.

Mansfield Park's problems in style and structure have long been observed, often amounting to a critique of the perceived disconnect between the plot's triumph of conventional morality over art and the style in which that triumph is rendered. (3) In this discussion, however, attention to issues of subjectivity comes to rest upon a particular moment in Mansfield Park that oddly narrates the novel's own representational limits, specific to spatiality. Austen foregrounds a spatially conceived subjectivity in Mansfield Park and then moves to a temporal subjectivity in Persuasion--her ultimate, if not last, expression and exploration of narrative temporality. (4) The "historical sequence" of the two novels' composition, then, bears some significance, insofar as the discovery of a limit to the spatial representation of the earlier novel, Mansfield Park, points to a particular beyond, which is made the center of Persuasion, given full play in the temporal mode foregrounded in Anne Elliot's subjectivity. (5) This aesthetic movement from spatial subjectivity in Mansfield Park to temporal subjectivity in Persuasion will be plotted--that is to say, illuminated--through a Freudian model, while Jacques Lacan's reading of Sigmund Freud will provide a theoretical insight to help account for the radical epistemological uncertainties informing Persuasion. Each novel is aesthetically self-reflexive in that the heroine's subjectivity appears as an expression of the novel's favored representational mode.

That the favored mode in Mansfield Park is spatial is perhaps now obvious, given Edward W. Said's discussion of "Jane Austen and Empire" in Culture and Imperialism. (6) Said finds Fanny's spatial movement between Portsmouth and Mansfield Park politically charged, for instance, in its correspondence with Sir Thomas's movement between Mansfield Park and the plantations in Antigua. He claims, moreover, that "We must not admit any notion ... that proposes to show that [William] Wordsworth, Austen, or [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge, because they wrote before 1857, actually caused the establishment of formal British governmental rule over India after 1857. We should try to discern instead a counterpoint between overt patterns in British writing about Britain and representations of the world beyond the British Isles. The inherent mode for this counterpoint is not temporal but spatial." (7) In Mansfield Park, two distinct spatial modes work to create meaning: first, there are the movements of characters across space that most concern Said; and second, there is the use of architectural spaces.

Architectural spaces particularly deliver us into issues of subjectivity not discussed by Said. Descriptions of rooms, for instance, point to the question of Fanny's subject position. When Fanny first arrives at Mansfield, after some debate Mrs. Norris advises Lady Bertram to "put the child in the little white attic ... Indeed, I do not see that you could possibly place her any where else.'" (8) Her room in the house is not so much chosen for her clearly belonging there as for her clearly not belonging anywhere else. Fanny is neither immediate family nor servant, precisely. And the question of her room is also that of her subject position--a question literalized in the desire of various characters to locate her spatially: "Edmund, looking around, said, 'But where is Fanny?'" (3:71); "Sir Thomas was at that moment looking round him, and saying 'But where is Fanny?'" (3:177); and the narrator informs us, "'where is Fanny?' became no uncommon question" (3:205)--in fact, a question so recurrent it nearly becomes a linguistic tic of the novel.

Rooms suggest even subtler aspects of Fanny's subjectivity when, with Sir Thomas in Antigua and preparations for the play in progress, Fanny takes over, in addition to the little white attic, the separate East Room, her added occupation of which suggests not only her expanding social role in the family, but also her experience of self-division brought out by the play. From criticism describing a conservative Austen to that proclaiming in Fanny a revolt on the part of gender, there has been general emphasis on the heroine's unwavering disapproval of Lovers' Vows, in contrast with the varying degrees of moral weakness in other characters. (9) But Fanny is evidently enamored enough by the play to have memorized it. When Mary calls on Fanny to rehearse Edmund's part with her, for instance. Fanny protests a little too much: "'I will do my best with the greatest readiness--but I must read the part, for I can say very little of it'" (3:169). When the actors nearly bludgeon Fanny into filling the part of Cottager's Wife, we learn that Fanny's claim is false: "'And I do believe she can say every word of it,' added Maria, 'for she could put Mrs. Grant right the other day in twenty places. Fanny, I am sure you know the part.' Fanny could not say she did not" (3:172). And she eagerly, if also anxiously, anticipates the rehearsal that Sir Thomas interrupts: Fanny is "longing and dreading to see how [Edmund and Mary] would perform" (3:167). (10) Her literal two-room domain taken over during this period thus figuratively coincides with her self-division brought out by the theatrical proceedings. In Mansfield Park, these figurative architectural representations of subjectivity always function simultaneously at the level of the literal.

At a certain disorienting moment in Mansfield Park, the architectural materials intersect excitingly with the spatial movement of the heroine; it is a moment in which the two spatial representational modes can be observed coming together, even if not to chime. But before turning to that moment, I want to recall a passage in Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents in order to suggest, in however limited a demonstration, how this psychoanalytic narrative can provide a way of thinking about these issues of representation in Austen and to offer the passage as the narrative hinge upon which this essay turns from Mansfield Park to Persuasion. At the close of chapter one, Freud proposes an attempt to represent mental life in spatial terms: "Now let us, by a flight of imagination, suppose that Rome is not a human habitation but a psychical entity." He soon, however, discovers the limits of this supposition in its failure to accommodate temporal aspects, what he calls "historical sequence": "If we want to represent historical sequence in spatial terms we can only do it by juxtaposition in space ... Our attempt seems to be an idle game. It has only one justification. It shows us how far we are from mastering the characteristics of mental life by representing them in pictorial terms." (11) My idea is that Austen arrives at this same representational impasse in Mansfield Park. It is most distinctly audible when Fanny returns to Portsmouth after refusing Henry Crawford; entering the parlor of her parents' home, she is for a moment disoriented: "She was then taken into a parlour, so small that her first conviction was of its being only a passage-room to something better, and she stood for a moment expecting to be invited on; but when she saw there was no other door, and that there were signs of habitation before her, she called back her thoughts, reproved herself, and grieved lest they should have been suspected" (3:377-8). The question "Where is Fanny?" indeed becomes an issue for the heroine herself. There is of course a perfectly commonsense explanation for Fanny's mistake; having lived at Mansfield she has become accustomed to its larger proportions and returns to an unfamiliar home. The language of the narrative discourse of this expectation, however, also reads as a kind of summary of the scope of the plot: "her first conviction was of its being only a passage-room to something better." In other words, the Portsmouth of Fanny's youth will finally figure as merely a passage to "something better," her installment as spiritual mistress of Mansfield. But if architectural strategies of representation elsewhere facilitate our sense of her subject position, here they fail to accommodate the "historical sequence" that we imagine would play a part in Fanny's mental life; the "historical sequence" at stake, alluded to in the language but not accommodated by the picture of her home, is the sequence of her childhood at Portsmouth followed by life at Mansfield. (Clearly, there is no larger room. no architectural "something better," attached to the small parlor at Portsmouth that would depict the "historical sequence" so powerfully suggested in the language of free indirect discourse.) Moreover, insofar as this particular "historical sequence" clearly includes a movement across space, the architectural exclusion of the temporal is also a jarring, an apparent mutual exclusiveness, of the two most prominent spatial representational modes.

If plot is the design and intention of a narrative, Fanny is a less-than-active plotter of her life. Said suggestively remarks in reference to Fanny's passivity, "one has the impression that Austen has designs for her that Fanny herself can scarcely comprehend." (12) She does not think of herself in and of time; nor is she represented vividly in those terms. The Sotherton "wilderness" escapade wonderfully dramatizes the relative atemporality of Fanny in her stillness on the bench as the worldly others vigorously swirl around her. The representational jarring thus occurs between the heroine's subjectivity, which appears spatially conceived, represented through architectural materials on the one hand, and her history, which is necessarily to be found in the inherent temporality of a narrative structure on the other. But this would seem merely the honest consequence of rejecting for this novel an overt developmental narrative of the heroine's consciousness.

Claudia L. Johnson has with great subtlety illuminated the political force of Austen's novels. Of Mansfield Park, for instance, she has shown how the narrative strategies erode the conservative structure of paternal authority at its center: "if Mansfield Park appears to let conservative ideologues have it their way, it is only to give them the chance to show how little, rather than how much, they can do, and so to oblige them to discredit themselves with their own voices." (13) Thus the rather static, spatial depiction of Fanny--whose subjectivity is woven through issues of place and space, in a novel named for an aristocratic place with Sir Thomas at its head (who, as Mary Crawford tells us, "'keeps every body in their place'" and to whom change is largely unwelcome)--appears as a symptom of her position as heroine, reverent of paternal authority, in Austen's "bitter parody of conservative fiction." (14) On the contrary, as Johnson explains, "in Persuasion, stately houses and their proprietors are no longer formidable ... Good characters depart from them without a breach, differ from them without defiance"; the maturer heroine of that novel, moreover, frees Austen "to explore female independence." (15) Through these distinct depictions of paternal authority--Fanny's reverence, Anne's relative independence--one might say that whereas Mansfield Park depicts the "present" sad reality, Persuasion meditates on the capacity of the present to contain the potentialities of the future. To that end, Roger Sales has argued that Sophia Croft's "partnership with her husband is not so much an accurate account of life on the quarter-deck during the Napoleonic Wars, as a potentially radical proposal about how it ought to be organised in the future." (16) The passage of time, with its attendant emotional, economic, and social flux, is foregrounded in Persuasion.

A far more comprehending heroine than Fanny Price, with an active temporal imagination, is Anne Elliot, heroine of Persuasion. If Fanny's alienated subject position is best understood as an expression of the spatial representational mode, Anne Elliot's is an expression of temporal concerns. Issues of the "historical sequence" of consciousness, to some degree unavailable in Mansfield Park, are foregrounded in Persuasion, in the complexities of narrative temporality structuring the discourse of Anne's consciousness. Persuasion explores the shifting of meanings over time, as in the meaning of Anne's early refusal of Wentworth by the advice of Lady Russell, advice which, while it initially seems misguided and Anne's yielding to it a profound source of regret, Anne finally determines "is good or bad only as the event decides"--that is, in retrospect, she was right in yielding (5:246). The upshot of this vast swing of the evaluative pendulum is to reveal how difficult it is to know the present--how difficult to answer the question of how a present decision or event will figure into the subject's history.

Of particular interest, then, is a pattern of a strange temporality in the discourse of Anne's consciousness, a temporal structure aimed at this very question; that is, her thoughts repeatedly take the shape of imagining the present as a memory from the perspective of a future self. Such a construction clearly signals the loss of a unified subject position in temporal terms. But unlike the more well-known Freudian question of how the past is playing itself out in the present, the issue here is how the present will figure into an imagined future--Anne's is a decidedly prospective imagination.

The circumstances eliciting this shape of thought appear to be the extremes either of intense pleasure and happiness or their opposite. The temporal imagination serves, for instance, as a source of consolation for distressing apprehensions when Anne perceives the threat to her father's marital status posed by the "dangerous attractions"--albeit acerbically qualified--of the widowed Mrs. Clay; she decides to warn Elizabeth, in however futile an effort:

Mrs. Clay had freckles, and a projecting tooth, and a clumsy wrist,
which [Sir Walter] was continually making severe remarks upon, in her
absence; but she was young, and certainly altogether well-looking,
and possessed, in an acute mind and assiduous pleasing manners,
infinitely more dangerous attractions than any merely personal might
have been. Anne was so impressed by the degree of their danger, that
she could not excuse herself from trying to make it perceptible to
her sister. She had little hope of success; but Elizabeth, who in the
event of such a reverse would be so much more to be pitied than
herself, should never, she thought, have reason to reproach her for
giving no warning.
(5:34)

Anne's conception of her present effort to advise Elizabeth--if not altogether out of a generous impulse--suggests that if the future realizes her fears, she nevertheless will have been a responsible sister. In the hypothetical future circumstance of Mrs. Clay's usurping Elizabeth's role as mistress of the house, the "warning," Anne imagines, will figure for her as a consoling memory--and that very notion functions to console her in the present. In another instance of Anne's distress, weary of Mary's hypochondria and ill-mannered children at Uppercross, she finds "solicitude in anticipating her removal": "Her usefulness to little Charles would always give some sweetness to the memory of her two months visit there, but he was gaining strength apace, and she had nothing else to stay for" (5:93). The two-month visit in Anne's imagination figures already as a memory while she is still suffering it. But what this peculiar relation to the present does, in part, is to alleviate her suffering by dividing her consciousness from her immediate sensations into a speculative future orientation. In distressing circumstances, there is some consolation available in thinking that the present will become the past. Although Johnson has observed, "Here, as in no other novel, we are constantly being pointed backwards ... in short, to the inconjurable difference time makes"; in light of the prospective pattern outlined here, it would seem we are as constantly being pointed forward. (17)

This peculiar source of consolation, it would seem however, cannot be complete in that it rests upon an uncertain future state of affairs; Anne can imagine and predict how that present moment will look as a past one, but the accuracy of that perspective depends very much upon the context of what unfolds--hence its hypothetical status. And neither of these hypothetical future remembrances is explicitly realized in the narrative that ensues; when Mrs. Clay's plotting becomes apparent, no one--not even Anne--appears to remember her early warning, and Austen never shows us an Anne nourished by the specific memory of her past "usefulness" at Uppercross. These representations become significant less for proving true or untrue in relation to some actual point in the future, than for structuring Anne's relation to the present and, in that respect, serving as consolation.

More difficult to account for, perhaps, is this temporal structure when it shapes moments of extreme happiness. At the climax of the novel, when Anne has just accepted Wentworth's renewed proposal, the narrative discourse reveals them not embracing their joy straightforwardly, but instead anticipating how this "present hour" will figure into their "future lives": "soon words enough had passed between them to decide their direction towards the comparatively quiet and retired gravel-walk, where the power of conversation would make the present hour a blessing indeed: and prepare for it all the immortality which the happiest recollections of their own future lives could bestow" (5:240). A "present hour" is proclaimed, but only insofar as it will figure into their imagined "future lives" as a memory. When Anne returns to the house, moreover, her disposition restrains her from simply soaring in this "high-wrought felicity," for she suspects its transience: "she re-entered the house so happy as to be obliged to find an alloy in some momentary apprehensions of its being impossible to last" (5:245). An active temporal imagination alerts her to a peril in such pure, unbridled happiness, because the "high-wrought felicity" cannot be expected to last, and in Persuasion, falls from high places, such as Louisa's literal one, are indeed seen to be perilous. Anne thus subdues her high felicity by hypothetically inscribing it in an imagined future retrospective context.

Imagining future memories often amounts, then, to a temporal strategy in Anne's intellectual effort to avoid self-delusion. After all, the critical capacity of a temporal imagination is an aspect of human beings that potentially elevates us above, for instance, the helpless delusion of John Keats's bees who "think warm days will never cease." (18) But the critical awareness of the present offered in Anne's future retrospective temporality is inherently incomplete in that it includes a future that holds certain uncertainties. The epistemological limitations for the present and for self-identity--based on the uncertainty of the future--are explored psychoanalytically in Lacan's "Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis." Lacan describes this peculiar temporal structure as the "future anterior": "What is realized in my history is not the past definite of what was, since it is no more, or even the present perfect of what has been in what I am, but the future anterior of what I shall have been for what I am in the process of becoming." (19) The present, from this divided point of view, "should be understood only as an 'anticipated past,' which has yet to arrive," explains Samuel Weber in his magisterial commentary on this sentence in Lacan. (20) This disjunctive temporality occurs in "a subject whose self-consciousness is structured in terms of anticipated belatedness"--as is often the case with Anne: what this means is that the idea of the present includes a sense of the future, a time that will never have fully taken place and thus "will continually prevent the subject from ever becoming self-identical." (21) To that end, inconclusiveness becomes inevitable in critical awareness; in light of Lacan's reading of Freud, then, we can see in this temporal structure of self-understanding an inherent source of epistemological uncertainty in the heroine's subject position.

While Anne's constant effort of critical awareness would seem admirable, Austen's attitude toward it is actually somewhat difficult to register, in that Anne's attempts to know the present apparently lead in the opposite direction; Anne's experience of the present, that is, largely eludes the narrative discourse, which is preoccupied instead with anticipating events, recollecting them, and anticipating recollecting them. When at Mary's home in Uppercross, for instance, Anne and her sister receive only a few moments' notice that Captain Wentworth will be arriving--the first time Anne will have seen him in eight years since her refusal of marriage: "a thousand feelings rushed on Anne, of which this was the most consoling, that it would soon be over. And it was soon over" (5:59). Shifting immediately from anticipation to retrospection, narration of significant present actions often seems to have slipped between a break in sentences and been lost. In another instance of conspicuously absent narration, Wentworth lifts Anne into the Crofts' carriage: "Captain Wentworth, without saying a word, turned to her, and quietly obliged her to be assisted into the carriage. Yes,--he had done it. She was in the carriage" (5:91). Anticipation gives way directly to recollection. What this temporal structure indicates, then, is Anne's alienated relation to experience.

That in the world of Persuasion the exigencies of human life, of continuing, appear to necessitate these structures of alienation as the most intelligent response available, the only response with creative potentiality, is the novel's source of its profound sadness, the heart of its narrative desire, the peculiar emotional force of its aesthetic.

There is, however, an interesting exception to this slipping away of the present: it is the scene at Lyme describing the aftermath of Louisa's fall, narrating the state of emergency, and elevating Anne in Wentworth's estimation. It is the only scene in which the narration of events takes much longer to read than the events themselves would take to happen, as if the present has expanded in the rare urgency of these few pages. And yet, insofar as Anne's experience here is represented, perhaps it is telling that at the center of the scene is a figure of unconsciousness. This is to read the scene as a theatrical performance of the subjectivity of the novel. (22) To that end, a parenthetical aside, substantially at odds with the narrative slowness, functions as a kind of stage note: "(it was all done [if not told] in rapid moments)" (5:110). This dramatic formalist reading of the novel would find thematic sanction in the largely nonlinguistic communication of looks and smirks constantly employed by Wentworth and Anne. (23) What's more, the theatricality entails a startling shift in the usual relationships--between characters as well as between the position of the reader and the heroine--in that Anne is suddenly absorbed into the scene so that we no longer see things sifted primarily through her consciousness. Instead, and astonishingly, the narrative thrill of the crisis aligns Austen's audience, if with anyone, with the "workmen and boatmen ... collected near them, to be useful if wanted, at any rate, to enjoy the sight of a dead young lady, nay, two dead young ladies, for it proved twice as fine as the first report" (5:111, my emphasis). Suddenly freed from Anne's moral point of view, rather than identifying with any of the principal characters, one becomes strangely amused by the spectacle of human circumstances that the scene lays bare. This dynamic offers a hint of what Woolf foresaw taking center stage in Austen's writing after Persuasion, had Austen lived to write more: "She would have devised a method, clear and composed as ever, but deeper and more suggestive, for conveying not only what people say, but what they leave unsaid; not only what they are, but what life is. She would have stood farther away from her characters, and seen them more as a group, less as individuals." (24)

Not only this exceptional scene of the present, but also the dominant "future anterior" tilt of the general discourse of Persuasion engenders a kind of staging, and does so notably in its peculiar engagement with the larger historical context of the novel. While Lacan's analysis of the "future anterior" explores the limits of self-consciousness, the difficulty of knowing the present specifically with respect to the individual subject, his ascribing to this temporal structure an inherent epistemological uncertainty has something to tell us about Persuasion's larger historical present as well, in that Austen subtly inscribes the entire narrative in a similarly alienated temporality. That is, the characters in Persuasion repeatedly refer to the peace of their present times, scrupulously marked as running from late summer 1814 to 1815. "'This peace will be turning all our rich Navy Officers ashore,'" Mr. Shepherd observes early on (5:17). However, the novel closes ominously: "[Wentworth's] profession was all that could ever make [Anne's] friends wish that tenderness less; the dread of a future war all that could dim her sunshine. She gloried in being a sailor's wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance" (5:252). What Austen knew when writing the novel in 1815 and 1816, and what her readers too would have known, is that this hypothetical "future war" would almost instantly materialize in Napoleon's return from Elba--that is, in a resurgence of the wars, albeit brief, that were thought to have been quite over. (25) The historical orientation of the novel--at once displayed and concealed--tells us that the supposed peace informing it will have been a false peace, a knowledge that is oddly suspended in the considerable gap between the characters' perceptions of their historical moment and the readers'. The force of this temporal and epistemological gap is to suggest how uncertain knowledge of the present is when it includes a future, which is always yet to come. And Austen's suspension of that knowledge creates a theatrical effect by distancing her audience from the text: that is, the "reader' or 'audience,' as the provisional 'representative of the other,' as Freud called Flieb, serves to delimit the borders of a stage that will always have been at a remove from the place we occupy [in this case, the place in time] as self-conscious subjects." (26)

This impending historical turn, effecting a theatrical remove, is obliquely registered in the novel when a painting in a Bath shop window fascinates and amuses Admiral Croft, who describes its apparent absurdity to Anne: "'What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that any body would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockleshell as that. And yet, here are two gentlemen stuck up in it mightily at their ease, and looking about them at the rocks and mountains, as if they were not to be upset the next moment, which they certainly must be'" (5:169). Admiral Croft's ekphrastic discourse not only describes the imminent "upset" of the subjects in the painting, but also suggests Napoleon's imminent threat to the "ease" of the characters of Persuasion, a threat to the pervading sense of "peace" which, we imagine, will come to have been unwarranted; the implicit analogy thus implicates the perceptive Admiral Croft himself by placing him, unwittingly, inside the circumstances of the painting, so that we see him, and the world of the novel generally, as he sees the "two gentlemen"--that is, unaware of their present situation insofar as the future will reveal it to have been. The effect perhaps is to extend the analogy to the readers of the novel--that is, to implicate also Austen's audience.

If self-identity and history were founded instead upon a perfectly contained past--in other words, the present (made) perfect--conclusiveness perhaps would not be so dubious. Characterization in Emma develops through a present-perfect conception of self. And the climactic moment of self-discovery, Emma's perception of who she has been through her reception of the past, expands the experiential present into slowness, in the way that the scene at Lyme expands in Persuasion--even as the narrator notes the dazzling speed of perception. When Emma realizes who she has been in relation to Mr. Knightley--that is, as he is professing his love for her--the "wonderful velocity of thought" is somewhat offset by the relative plodding of the narrative discourse of her consciousness as it undergoes some stress, expanding to accommodate the rapid dovetailing of distinct levels of mental activity:

While he spoke, Emma's mind was most busy, and, with all the
wonderful velocity of thought, had been able--and yet without losing
a word--to catch and comprehend the exact truth of the whole; to see
that Harriet's hopes had been entirely groundless, a mistake, a
delusion, as complete a delusion as any of her own--that Harriet was
nothing; that she was every thing herself; that what she had been
saying relative to Harriet had been all taken as the language of her
own feelings; and that her agitation, her doubts, her reluctance,
her discouragement, had been all received as discouragement from
herself.--And not only was there time for these convictions, with
all their glow of attendant happiness; there was time also to
rejoice that Harriet's secret had not escaped her, and to resolve
that it need not and should not.
(4:430-1, my emphasis)

This passage, in its proliferation of present-perfect verbs, exemplifies the discourse of Emma's self-discoveries throughout the novel, the present-perfect conception of self that structures Emma.

Weber describes this concept of self in contrast to the "future anterior": it is "the self-realization of an identity that has always already been virtually present to itself." (27) Such a conception allows for the possibility of a self-identical subject of self-consciousness. When Emma finally falls for Mr. Knightley, she realizes her true self through a full reception of her past, and the novel ends in "the perfect happiness of the union" (4:484, my emphasis). In Persuasion, however, Anne's affection for Wentworth is relatively clear throughout. Wentworth's appreciation of Anne must mature in certain respects, but from the outset, we entertain the question of whether Lady Russell may have been wrong in her persuasion of Anne, simply because Austen presents them in disposition as so well suited for one another. Rather than a final turn of plot making unequivocal what has been latent all along, therefore--as is the case in Emma--the historical orientation of the narrative enacts the structure of Anne's consciousness by including in its conception of the present a sense of the future.

Here is the third-to-last sentence of Persuasion: "Anne was tenderness itself, and she had the full worth of it in Captain Wentworth's affection" (5:252). To have ended with that sentence would have been the rough equivalent of the narrative gesture that closes Emma: "But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union" (4:484). In contrast, Persuasion's closure is unsettled by its allusion to "the dread of a future war" which we know will come to be realized, however briefly. The impact of that allusion is to make the present of the novel--as the characters perceive it, in its pacific veneer--look very different from any future retrospective: that is, to leave comprehension conspicuously incomplete.

At the outset of this essay, I quoted Virginia Woolf's suggestion that in reading Austen's narrative, "Our attention is half upon the present moment, half upon the future." Mary Lascelles has further observed the absence of "anything quite like [Austen's] use of anticipation in previous English fiction. Now, of course, it is a commonplace." (28) To that end, in his book Reading for the Plot, Peter Brooks suggests that a sense of wonderment about the present based on an unfolding temporal context is the heart of all narrative desire: "Plot as a logic of narrative would hence seem to be analogous to the syntax of meanings that are temporally unfolded and recovered, meanings that cannot otherwise be created or understood ... Temporality is a problem, and an irreducible factor of any narrative statement, in a way that location is not ... Perhaps we would do best to speak of the anticipation of retrospection as our chief tool in making sense of narrative, the master trope of its strange logic" (Brooks's emphasis). (29) The discourse of Anne's consciousness suggests that hers is a narrative view of life, its meanings "temporally unfolded" to her, as an active reader of its "strange logic." And Anne's subjectivity--closer than Fanny's spatial subjectivity to articulating the structures of narrative understanding--facilitates Austen's most subtle and self-reflexive exploration of the meanings available to us through narratives. Anne's subjectivity appears as an expression of narrative temporality itself, in a temporal structure that thematically serves as a regulating emotional force in the present that it attempts to know.

NOTES

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12:26 pm
Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, Annual 2001 v23 p205(10)

Jane Austen and the reconsigned child: the true identity of Fanny Price. (Miscellany). (Mansfield Park) Souter, Kay Torney.

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2001 Jane Austen Society of North America

JANE AUSTEN IS THE ARTIST of the settled village and meticulously delineated family relations, but in this paper, I consider some of the ways that her novels represent and work through the ancient literary theme of child-stealing, an area of concern that seems the antithesis of these things. The association of Jane Austen and the representation of the stolen child is no mere act of scholarly eccentricity on my part. Child-stealing is an extremely common phenomenon, but seldom named as the ugly thing it is; instead, it is often disguised as something unavoidable and benign, if not absolutely virtuous. As a phenomenon, it presents in many ways: as illegal, semi-legal or forced adoption, as patronage, as education, as "resettlement," as child protection, and so on (Torney 1993). For the young subject of these common practices, working through the mysteries of his or her familial origins is a central task of growing up. The representation of this task is central to much major literature since Oedipus Rex, and esp ecially to the nineteenth-century novel: Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, and The Mayor of Casterbridge, to make an almost random selection of canonical works, deal explicitly with the effects of moving children around and obscuring their family origins. Austen's development of the possibilities of the representation of consciousness (Copeland and McMaster) helped to make possible the focus on the young person's struggle to understand the meaning of family background, and there are a surprising number of examples of it in Austen's later work, where she considers problems of consolidating psychic identity when the place and the people one has to individuate from are not completely clear.

Child-stealing is a phenomenon which occurs throughout history, and thus answers a powerful psychological need in adults. The idea of the Reconsignable Child seems to be a sort of a sinister counterpart to the fantasy of the Family Romance (Freud), (1) a conviction that just as the child fantasized that one could take parents from anywhere, an adult may place a child anywhere. But adults often have the social-political means to enact dangerous fantasies, and children are moved about in the context of contemporaneous social-political realities (Henry and Hillel; Wallace; Lewin). The backdrop of slavery and early capitalism, issues which are particularly pressing in Mansfield Park (Said; Southam), frame much of Jane Austen's engagement with the phenomenon of child-stealing. To what extent is the child a chattel, to be bought and sold? Austen's young heroines undertake the project of "inventing" a tolerable social and psychological space for themselves in a world structured by these frightening social institutio ns.

There is also an economic component to establishing a firm identity. Austen's main characters are always shown in a rather frightening relation to their domineering elders and betters, emphasizing the question of how these young people will establish a claim to society's goodies. Typically, the young people are threatened with perpetual domination and poverty by means of the twin plot devices of the entailed estate and male succession, but there are others as well: social position, capricious relatives, large families, ill-health, for example. The problem may be worse for women. Austen's novels, especially Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion, represent society as set up for the transferal of economic resources from male to male, and the prototypical women's dilemma in this society is how to find a psycho-social outcome which is neither dreadful nor depersonalizing. Austen's heroines tinker with their ideas about the accommodation of the self with society until they can live with the result. A central factor in this delicate balancing of hostile and anti-female social structures with the happy ending is that Austen does in fact explore the darker side of the construction of identity, and the threat of its possible failure, in part through the figure of the reconsigned child. In Austen's work, the identity of such children is in question from the beginning of the narrative. As they have been moved around among families, their domineering and asset-controlling elders inhabit more than one family, and are thus not so easy to split off and run away from, as Elizabeth Bennett does when she moves far from her embarrassing family to the gentility of Derbyshire.

This apparently exotic but actually rather common pattern of shifting children around is, of course, to be found in Jane Austen's own family: Austen's brother Edward was just such a child. It seems to be generally felt by Austen biographers that this caused no one much heartache (Blythe 11-12); but there are fictional indications that suggest other possibilities. In Emma, the maternal Isabella Knightley anguishes over the suffering she believes the widowed Mr. Weston must have experienced in surrendering his baby son to be raised by an uncle and aunt: "'There is something so shocking in a child's being taken away from his parents and his natural home! ... To give up one's child!'" Her husband, however, responds with characteristic sharpness: "'you need not imagine Mr. Weston to have felt what you would feel in giving up John or Henry. Mr. Weston is rather an easy, cheerful tempered man than a man of strong feeling'" (96).

Isabella's reflections give me reason to suspect an alternative reading of the situation of Edward Austen, who appears to have behaved impeccably to both his adopted and his biological families. This is a difficult and delicate task as many modern adoptees argue (Saffian), and some of the difficulties are explored in the problems of Austen's fictional characters. Might Edward Austen have resented his mother's ready abandonment? Did he feel strained by needing to consider two sets of parents? The fictional parallels with Edward Austen's circumstances explicitly consider the fostered/adopted child's duplicity, and the reasons for it. Mr. Weston clearly did not suffer much when he signed his son over to his unpleasant in-laws--but he expects Frank to love and respect him without a trace of ambivalence. One of the central mysteries of Emma is the way that hindsight allows the world to understand that Frank, who writes such handsome letters, behaves quite unaffectionately, though in a covert way: he writes to his natural father and new step-mother with effusive politeness, but he does not come near them until Jane Fairfax comes to town, and it suits him to follow her. Mrs. Price seems to have even fewer qualms: she packs off ten-year-old Fanny without a second thought, except a passing surprise that the wealthy sister should request a girl for reconsignment.

As I suggested earlier in this paper, Austen's novels in fact show a large number of reconsigned children: the plot of Emma is riddled with them. Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax have both been orphaned and handed over to relations to raise; Jane Fairfax is handed over again in adolescence to her wealthy friends. In both cases, the adopting families adore the little ones they "inherit"; but that seems to make little difference for the young people themselves, who continue to feel oppressively obligated and hyper-cautious in their dealing with their complicated families. Harriet Smith has not been adopted at all; she has been subjected to a quasi-commercial transaction, which shows the reconsignment of the child at its most commodified. Harriet apparently has no idea at all whose daughter she might be, and does not seem interested: she has been packed off to boarding school, and her anonymous sponsors seem to consider her in no need of explanatory origins or a family. Curiously, Harriet seems less worried abou t her position than either Frank or Jane Fairfax, and although this might be because of Harriet's general dumbness, it might also reflect the fact that Harriet does not have to exhibit more than everyday politeness to nice Mrs. Goddard, the head-mistress paid to board her; she does not have to love her. Frank and Jane, by contrast, have to support that awful burden for children, perpetual gratitude. They cannot take their homes or existence for granted; they cannot be exasperating, rude, and contemptuous like normal adolescents. They have to be good to be loved, Frank out of fear, Jane out of pity. Though at first glance, Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever, and rich" (5), seems to be the very opposite of a reconsigned child, her situation in fact provides a sort of echo of it: she has been raised by the loving but somewhat too gentle Miss Taylor since losing her mother at the age of five, and when she reflects that as a spinster she will often have a niece with her, it does show her as a sort of Miss Bates, fe eding off a young niece's life, and is in congruence with the novel's pattern that shows children to be regarded as need-satisfiers for adults, rather than people with their own lives to map out.

Mansfield Park shows what is in many ways a similar pattern to Emma, but whereas in Emma the adoption plot is a sort of counterpoint to the main theme, Mansfield Park gives it complete centrality. Fanny and William Price, and Mary and Henry Crawford have all been packed off to be raised (at the end of the novel, the sturdier Susan Price has the same fate), and their developmentally inevitable search for economic and psychic stability must therefore be undertaken in an ill-defined role. When contemplating Fanny's quasi-adoption, good Sir Thomas and bad Mrs. Norris each in their different ways imagine her as a sort of perpetual though intimate guest; they believe that the child's position in her new environment can be controlled, that her identity as what Mrs. Norris considers "an indigent niece" will be stable, as will the adopting family's attitude to her. This is a belief which invariably causes problems: reconsigned children become like their adoptive families as far as values go, but if they are expected t o remain in their externalized positions, they never feel secure about their right to a home. William Price clearly does best, because he has been "adopted," as it were, by the Navy, which is set up for the rearing of young boys, and is Austen's benchmark of all that is noble in English life. As a young man, William is open and confident. Henry and Mary Crawford, however, are schemers to the bootstraps; and they like to arouse and tease affection. It seems fairly obvious that their history of being adored and manipulated in the domestic warfare between their aunt and uncle inclines them to believe that feelings are tools, if not in fact weapons, to be used when useful, and an investment against possible future need. But it is of course in Fanny Price that we see the clearest and most interesting pattern of the anguish of reconsignment.

Like all stolen children, Fanny is bundled off in what is imagined as a sort of philanthropy crossed with a need for free and biddable domestic help, and it is decreed to be in her best interests. Fanny's childhood home at Portsmouth is imagined by her wealthy benefactors as a sort of cultural impure, in Mary Douglas's sense (Douglas): a primitive marginal space characterized by dirt, disorder, bad morals, bad manners, and unrelenting sexuality. Margins, of course, always seem more central when one is in them; as the novel notes, Fanny "had always been important as play-fellow, instructress, and nurse" in her parents' home, and far from being pleased at her social and moral elevation, regards herself as painfully uprooted: "the despondence that sunk her little heart was severe" (Austen 14'). In correspondence with the commonplace that adoption and fostering often works well enough for babies and children, and equally often fails adolescents and adults, Fanny's childhood passes comparatively quietly, and it is not until she becomes a young woman that the difficulties with the outside world really take shape. The difficulty is what Sir Thomas initially foresaw, "cousins in love." Aunt Norris, with a child-stealer's confidence in the utter malleability of the child, then insisted that love would be out of the question, that the children raised in one household would be brother and sister in terms of the incest taboo, if not in terms of fortune and position. What this assertion leaves out of account is the emotional complications of Fanny's reconsignment to another family; because it suits the fosterers, she is expected to take on the sibling incest prohibition, without in fact having anything like sibling footing in respect of fortune or freedom in the household. A striking example of this can be seen in the episode where Fanny tries to interest Edmund in her grief about the idea of leaving Mansfield to live with Aunt Norris. Edmund reminds Fanny that she will always of course be free to walk in the grounds of Mansf ield (Austen 27). Nothing could make Fanny's contingent status in the house clearer than Edmund's attempt to reassure her: Mansfield never has been Fanny's home, so how can Edmund be her brother?

The contradiction inherent in Fanny's position is expressed in a range of ways, from the violence and crudity of Aunt Norris's insistence that Fanny should be regarded as a greedy invader, rather than a hapless debt peon, to the gentlemanly Enlightenment rationality of Sir Thomas, who wants Fanny to remember her origins, but to love her new family, to be, as he says "my niece," a position of less closeness than a daughter, but still of significance. Mansfield Park, in fact, represents Sir Thomas's position as in many ways a good and reasonable one, a way of understanding the real meaning of the reconsigned child's ambiguous position, which puts it on a level with the system of primogeniture. Sir Thomas, as an older son himself presumably, believes that it is natural that Edmund should suffer for his brother Tom, if necessary, and that Edmund's expectations, though decent, should be humbler than his brother's. He would therefore have no difficulty in accepting that Fanny should tolerate a "natural" distinction between herself and her cousins. This does make a sort of sense, but the mind of Sir Thomas is, as it were, undermined by the mind of Aunt Norris; that is, the rational and kindly in society must be taken alongside the irrational and cruel (as it has been pointed out that kindly Sir Thomas's fortune is based on the horrors of slavery in the Caribbean). Aunt Norris, who is of course quite close to being herself what she resents in Susan Price, "a spy and an indigent" relative, reveals the reverse side of the Enlightenment concept of social gradation: Fanny represents a hated version of herself, one that can be persecuted and tortured with impunity, even with approbation. Aunt Norris has a good deal of success with this strategy, which is a relief to her feelings of despair and rage at her socially dependent position, until Fanny becomes sexually significant.

This is of course the fairy-tale position: the intruding step-daughter is tolerated until one day the mirror reveals her to be a competitor! Just as Fanny Price is useful to Aunt Norris, and has actually been adopted at her suggestion, because she provides an even more dependent and penniless relation for Aunt Norris to despise, so Maria and Julia Bertram provide Aunt Norris with gratifying versions of herself, good relations to Sir Thomas. The most appalling proposition for Aunt Norris is for Fanny, her psychic rubbish dump, to enter into a successful competition with Maria and Julia, the ego-ideals. And that, of course, is what happens. Mansfield Park shows that adopted, fostered, and reconsigned children are loose cannons in the battlefield of intra- and inter-family transactions. They have independent moral codes and may not see obligations as others do; they do not necessarily align with family expectations. Fanny, who has done so badly under the scheme of social gradation that Sir Thomas admires, will n ot consider marrying to improve her position; she would presumably see it as a version of being shipped off to the Bertrams to improve her position. As an indigent niece, that is, poor and female and not the closest of relations, she sees herself as cut loose from purely social obligation, and especially from the first requirement of a woman in patriarchy, that she bring credit to her male relatives. She completely declines to understand why she should marry Henry Crawford. Likewise, Henry Crawford feels no obligation to esteem marriage as a sort of social glue, having lost his parents and been raised subsequently by a warring husband and wife. He thus feels no anxiety about destroying marital happiness in others, and is happy to love outside the rule of social propriety and reciprocity--which is just what Fanny does. Henry's version of love seems to include the use of another as a need-satisfier, a lesson learnt in his uncle the Admiral's house. Mary Crawford reveals another version of the pattern: she appea rs to regard the loved one as a project, to be played with and altered at will.

The explosions of sexual maturity in these formerly passive waifs and strays reveal what the fosterers have not suspected: their unpredictable generativity, their propensity for forming families of their own. The adopting adults have blindly considered the children as generationally frozen: perpetually cute, biddable babies. Whether this neglect of the future independent adult in the adopted child means that the fosterers are simply familiarly omnipotent about their own centrality in the power structures of the family, or whether it means that the fostered children are regarded more as property than as people, is not so clear. Frail Fanny Price, however, turns out, to the amazement of her foster-family, to have retained the aspirations of her childhood, where she was "important as play-fellow, instructress, and nurse," and also to have combined them with the values of her uncle and her cousin Edmund. Her uniquely composed moral code makes her absolutely immovable! It also means that she mystifies all those ar ound her, both her family of origin and her foster family: the central nurturing role she left behind in her childhood disqualifies her from desiring a life as "a prosperous beauty" (332), like Lady Bertram, shoring up the upper-middle class order; but her upper-class Enlightenment training, prizing reason, calm, order disqualifies her from life in Portsmouth as a sailor's wife or daughter.

I think, then, that it is possible to see the action of Mansfield Park as revolving round the issue of where children come from, rather than, as in Pride and Prejudice, of where they go. In a sense, the novel shows that Austen's society, as she understood it, legitimizes only one form of descent: from Sir Thomas to Sir Thomas. This might be said perhaps to be the plot kernel also of King Lear: daughters and bastard sons as wild cards in the family pack. Such children do not docilely pick up what the parents expect, and, as the family does not work for them, strictly speaking, they cannot be trusted to further its good. As doubly marginalized daughters, Mary Crawford and Fanny Price are thus extra-legitimate in a way: the great play the novel makes about the unconventionality and propensity for social mischief of the Crawfords--Henry's flirting, or Mary's wish to have her harp conveyed by cart at hay-making time, for instance--is mirrored in Fanny's anomalous position in the social order. Is Fanny "out," or is she not? The question is canvassed at length, but the issue is never decided. Mary Crawford feels that it is a mystery: "'She dined at the parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being out; and yet she said so little, I can hardly suppose that she is .... And yet in general, nothing can be more easily ascertained. The distinction is so broad"' (48-49). Edmund decides the issue cannot be relevant to Fanny: "'My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman, and the outs and not outs are beyond me.'"

"Yet ... and yet": Fanny is in fact a hybrid, with no secure place in the social order, and thus neither "out" nor "not out," both part of and excluded from the family, both marriageable and profoundly unmarriagable; merely a human object, until rescued by reciprocated love.

Mansfield Park thus emphasizes the idea of the dangers of illegitimacy by using an even more alienated and dangerous figure than the bastard son or non-inheriting daughter to disrupt the family of fosterers: the slave child, for whom sexual maturity provides its only hope for revenge upon the clutch of wicked stepmothers, aunts and ogre-uncles who have been exploiting its potential as plaything or worker. It is genuinely touching to see how Austen shows these children as drawn together, how Henry Crawford falls in love with Fanny's patience and suffering in her servitude, presumably as reminding him of an idealized part of his own experience at his uncle's house; how Fanny enjoys the company of the destructive Mary Crawford in spite of herself, presumably for acting out her own unconscious contempt and hatred of her circumstances. Reconsigned children, anomalies who cannot fulfill their obligations to all parties in their families, are obliged to act good when they feel bad, and they are liars, too. Frank Chu rchill and Jane Fairfax have to lie all the time; Mary and Henry Crawford delight in it. Even virtuous Fanny Price tells Sir Thomas an out-and-out lie: "her lips formed into a no, though the sound was inarticulate, but her face was like scarlet.... She would rather die than own the truth, and she hoped by a little reflection to fortify herself against betraying it" (316).

This seems to me to shed light on their basic condition: reconsigned children must lie because they are caught between two social truths; it is only powerful patriarchs like Sir Thomas and Mr. Knightley who can think the truth is a stable entity, available to everyone. Sexual maturity, a sort of undeniable truth in itself, liberates the slave-child into a world where she may have a chance to make her own truths and bargains, and to find herself new masters.

In short, the figure of the child shifted away from its family of origin allows Jane Austen to explore the most intense difficulties of psychic individuation and satisfaction for young people. Even more strikingly than the young women at the mercy of sexist entails, fostered children must fight to find the familial and social space necessary if one is to individuate from anything. Such children are psycho-familial hybrids from the date of the reconsignment, and every successful establishment of self is a massive triumph of survival. Readers often resent Fanny Price as a sniping moralist. I believe that the strength of her sometimes unpleasant moralizing reflects the strength of the effort it takes for her to create a coherent self with which, and from which, to love and hate. Like women in general in Jane Austen's novels, Fanny Price and other reconsigned children must fight ferociously to create a self, and it might be thought that the marks of that fight in this case provide the bearable identity. Their vic tory in establishing a true identity shows that the child is not inevitably condemned to remain a creation of the grown-ups' wish fantasy of the reconsignable child. In the end, Fanny Price frees herself from one of the Oedipal myths of patriarchal capitalism, the principle that children belong to the father and can be shifted around like any other sort of manufactured goods, and she creates an adult self out of the particular circumstances of her life as she experiences it.

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Tuesday, July 19th, 2005
10:32 pm
im back
the past is past

current mood: indifferent

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Saturday, April 16th, 2005
5:15 pm - TGFTB #3
yes thats right. thank god for the british number threeee.
i dont know whats going to be on it yet but im sure it'll include some
Doves, clash,ocean colour scene, damien rice (even though hes irish),longpigs, mansun and other stuff like that
so yeah lemme know if you want a copy.

current mood: excited

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Thursday, March 24th, 2005
6:00 pm
dear tyler . lying is horrible.

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Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005
5:51 pm
i am in love with gregory house.
from the show.. uh house..
hes an asshole and hes always right and i love it
and hes quickly working his way to the top of my old man crushes list:
paul simon
conan
alan rickman
hugh laurie(greg house)

school is worthless, but it became less worthless today

current mood: hungry

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Friday, March 4th, 2005
6:23 pm - i dont knoooaoowwwww
been awhile
hate the computer
avoiding it for awhile, its been kinda nice. living in a bubble for while. i can drive again in 6 hours. schools nice, kennys gone kinda miss him casue the gaffers annoying at so early in the morning. blaahhh when the HELLLLL can maggie get off work. 9 ooohh fucking clock. this is like the 3rd weekend in a row that ive been stranded at homeeeee and ive run out of movies to order on the cable thing.any ways. yeah. i want to make a list A LIST DAMMIT. i need to be optimistic so ill make a list of 10 reasons why im content or SHOULD be content right now.
1.school is fun and easy
2.i can drive in 6 hours
3. new degrassi tonight
4.im forming a life plannn
5. i have all my apendeges
6.i dont have male pattern baldness
7. im not dieing from some horrible disease
8. im not addicted to heroin
9.im literate
10. i dont have 47 illegitimite children that are spread across the country.

HAH SEE?? THATS 10.. i CAN be an optimist.
i need coffee.
the sitting the the coffee house for hours talking kind.

current mood: really fucking bored

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Tuesday, March 1st, 2005
10:25 am - shake shake .. sshhaaaakekekkek thgat asssss girl
i feel like dave. updating in the library. molly is here. she is hot. there is no sPsjkadhasanishhghhhhhhhhhh that is ALLLLL

current mood: awake

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Sunday, February 13th, 2005
8:01 pm - i am allergic. to cats. dsfjdflkj
today was so prettyit was like hard not to be in a good mood
i dont want to go to canwick
way too many cds were purchased in austin
AHHHH THEYRE SINING FREE BIRD ON TV haha alexx
i hope tomorrorrwww will be pretty again
everything is boring

current mood: melancholy

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Thursday, February 10th, 2005
11:40 am - gyjghjghj
english
princeton review doesnt work
so tired
fuck it all i love being yelled at by

current mood: hungry

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Wednesday, February 9th, 2005
5:04 pm - her skin is cinnamon ..
okay. today blew
i hate the cold. it makes me miserable.. i didnt ever think i would be this effected by the weather. i mean it can be as sunny as heeeelllll but if its under like 72 F then - misery. so weird
anyways. the one highlight of my day. the highlight of ALL my days.
in history today we were talking about those sections and doc was spelling out the "Adams-Onis" treaty for us and richard askes if we'll need to have the.. uhh "enyay".. you knowe.. that squiggly line over the "n" in spanish words="ñ" and of course et, being the loudest person in all of school that she is and.. being in french.. not spanish goes WHATTTS A ENNYAYYYY?? (with that horrible texan accent that we all know she has) and someone.. like ed or something tells her what it is. and being the witty, smart, hilarous, briliant and original comedic genious that she is she replies.. "OH.. well... ENNYAYYY YOUR MOM".
i thought i was going to pee my pants. serisouly.. thats one of the funniest things ive ever heard.
serisouly. thank you et for brightening my day by like times 5068540685.
any ways after that i drew maz pictures in algebra of a Zebrow. (zebra-cow)

current mood: laughing.. still

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Monday, February 7th, 2005
7:48 pm - plastic emotion
plastic emotion keeps me going
it holds me up. when i am up
today was really nice.. school is so worthless, like its a waste of time, but its nice. some college stuff came today. im so .. unsure about everything.. it was one of the asu applications or something, it was wierd to just look at it. jen said something really cool the other day. about how you can be .. physically close to a person, or just.. people in general yet be completly emotionally detached. things are wierd. theyre changing. i think theyre getting better. i hope theyre getting better.
i dont want to get my hopes up though.
im detached. from.. everyone.
i dont really miss them anymore
its nice
i havent slept in 48 hours.
we ran out of my insomnia pills last night. so i didnt sleep. im sick. my dad got mad because he thinks its all in my head. maybe it is. but i dont think so.
i hope we go to austin this weekend. i really really.. hope
i need to take so many pictures.. blah im behind in photo.
theres alot i need to do.
oh well. who cares.

current mood: indifferent

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Saturday, February 5th, 2005
10:58 pm - dont panic
so tired
sooooo tired
good weekend
sat class blows the guy teaching us is really wierd.. he reminds me of alex's dad.. but not as cute of course..
went shopping with jen para canwick
i think were going to austin next weekend cha ching. or sometime.. yeah hopefully next weekend
watched the laramie projects
sold my soul to the hbo on demand channel
and the cinemax one
and the showtime
so delicious
mmmmm movies
i love seeing et drunk. my god the funniest thing ever
got pics developed today yup yup
theyre hot
i think im an island
i had a zero 7 moment last night a la that scene in garden state
bllahh i shouldnt compare my life to that movie
never ever
our house smells horrid
like v8 juice... blah
ok bye

current mood: artistic

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Tuesday, February 1st, 2005
4:26 pm - el stupida`
A. it better snow/ stick tonight
B. eric gets 2 days off of his retarded ass little shit closet of a school for 2 days. becasue why? because 25% of people in his "school" (meaning home for the retarded) are sick. big fucking woop. 25% of that shit hole is like.. 4 people. i hope some one starts the phone tree thing even if it doesnt snow.
C. today started out really way good, it went down the shitter. i just dont care about annyy of thisssss.
D. dante was wrong, hell is 33 degrees.
E. i want to leave fort worth
F. the rents want me to go to this like princeton review all day every day refesher course. hah. helllll no. i refuse. i just refuse.
G. oprah is really pretty.
H. i enjoy hideing in the dark room
I. i need a party
J. this better be a god damn good weekend.. bllahhh

current mood: pissed off

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Sunday, January 30th, 2005
4:50 pm - mmmmm
what a weekenddd hah
my car smells so bad
i owe delfin.
and i need another car wash
BUT i saw maggie. first time in awhile, actually since last week but that doesnt count.

current mood: cold

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Monday, January 24th, 2005
5:14 pm - hmmmmmm rahghh
today was boring.. dave wasnt there i missed him
could have been worse though
weekend was okay, the play was alright im glad we went
maggies bday was fun but then going to the hospital till like 3 am sucked alot. and i missed a good party friday apparantly becasue of it, blah oh well, what can ya do.
went to the hospital alot of saturday/ went to the mall with jen
and sunday i took pics all daayyyyyy
ick i smell like fixer
that is all

current mood: gloomy

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Saturday, January 22nd, 2005
12:45 pm - burning cds at the speed of light
im burning paul simon cds for dietlinde
spreading the love of my lover paul.
tonight we're going to see this play that james wants like the entire grade to see
i hope its good
maggies bday party was last night. it was good fun i miss maggie blah im alergic to her cats though hahai sound like such a nerd. let me go find my glasses
other than that yesterday sucked pretty much, i did get some photo done though.. and im gonna do somemore today wahaha. i have noooo life.
must
go get PEI WEI. rahh so hungry

current mood: indifferent

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