The Dots Effect

Ulysses and the Sirens by Hebert James Draper

I’ve talked before about strange coincidence and connecting dots etc. And I will do the same today! Right the same.
To understand my probably chaotic explanation, I have to give you a background. I’m in my last year of high school, and that means I have to write a sort of paper about a certain subject that I had to choose a while ago. I have chosen for the mythological Sirens. Those creatures are sexy birdwomen who live on an island and seduce men with their enchanting songs so that the men die due to shipwreck. Behind the lights of perfection, there are bloodthirsty birds. They appear in the story about Ulysses, the smart man who fought in Troy and who traveled ten years to return home. They passed by that dangerous island but thanks to the intelligence of Ulysses, they survived. The Sirens must have been angry.

Do they make you think of mermaids? Quite probably. On the painting you see here, one of the girl is a real mermaid. But there is something essentially different: mermaids are partly fish, not bird. Which means that the picture you see there, isn’t right. (Keep that in mind, my dears. It will make you seem so smart!) There are a lot of creatures that resemble Sirens, because of their deceptive beauty or enchanting voices. You could consider them to be family of the Sirens.
One of those members is the Slavic Sirin. A Sirin is just the Slavic version of the Sirens, partly bird, partly woman, with stunning voices and everything. And now, the great revelation: Vladimir Nabokov used to write using the name Vladimir Sirin!
You might be wondering what is so special about that. Well, Nabokov is the writer of my favourite book: Lolita. (The image was a hint.)

Coincidence? Do I have to believe that?
Now tell me, my dears, what is your favourite book? Do you know Lolita? Have you read it already? Tell me all about it. I will listen patiently.

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18 Comments

  1. First off, I love that painting. I wish I lived in a museum and I could stare at works of art all day long. Thanks for classin’ up this joint! haha!

    Okay, I thought you were going to ask an academic question like compare the character of Lolita to a mythical siren. That would make for a great essay, huh?
    I actually never read the book, I know, shameful, but I did see the 1962, Stanley Kubrick version with James Mason, Shelley Winters and Sue Lyon. I Love this film. So twisted. I’m a therapist, my love is psychology, the study of human behavior, so naturally everything about this story appeals to me. I get very annoyed when characters don’t ring true. The mark of a great story teller, in my opinion, is found in the characters. They have to make sense from a psychological point of view to be believable. I have to believe the motivation behind their behavior, etc. Nabokov nails it.

    John Steinbeck is a great story teller for this reason. Jane Austen also seems to understand motivation and human behavior. Maybe the greatest of them all….drum roll….. William Shakespeare. No other author, in my opinion, has ever been able to reveal human behavior and it’s motivation so accurately and artistically. Pure genius.

    I could rattle off a bunch of books that I love but I don’t know if I could pick a favorite? Here’s a sample…
    Lord of the Flies – William Golding, Of Mice and Men and East of Eden – John Steinbeck, Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks, House of Sand and Fog – Andre Dubus III,
    The Secret History – Donna Tart, Fall on your Knees – Ann-Marie MacDonald

    I’m dyslexic and so it takes me a long time to get through a book. I wasn’t a “reader” until I was in my 30’s. Even then, it was difficult. I have lots of catching up to do.

    Reply
    • Interesting comment, Lisa! I won’t judge anyone for not having read Lolita. You can still do it, or maybe you don’t want to, and that’s fine too. As you like.
      Psychology is very interesting, and it’s a nice way of looking at a story. Mostly people care for what happens, not so much for the characters and their behaviour. But some books only offer that, and not so much of a story. Like Lolita. Books are often better than their movies, so I think you’d like it. Being dyslexic must be annoying though…

      A while ago I started reading Lord of the Flies, but I stopped and then I had to return it to the library. I’ve heard from others that it’s a great book, so one day I’ll read it entirely.
      East of Eden and The Secret History were possible books we could choose for our English exam. The Secret History was on my list, but now I have another book. The John Steibecks didn’t really appeal to me, but maybe I deemed too fast? When I find myself having lots and lots of time, I will have to do lots and lots of reading, that’s for sure!

      Oh, and living in a museum (Louvre perhaps) would be GREAT.

      Reply
  2. AgrippingLife

     /  January 15, 2012

    I have stacks of books that I want to get to. Someday I’ll read Lolita because I’m sure it’s better than the movie. My tastes have probably changed through the years but my interest in a story’s character remains the same. The character has to ring true or I won’t believe the story.
    Thanks for writing such a thought provoking blog!

    Reply
  3. I really like that painting! That is the kind of art that I’m interested in. Paintings that tell stories.
    Some of my favorite books are Catcher in the Rye -J.D. Salinger, The Good Earth – Pearl S. Buck, The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls.
    I haven’t read Lolita either! I will check it out!

    Reply
    • It’s a nice style of painting, in my humble opinion, and I really like it too.
      Catcher in the Rye is on my list! The others I don’t know, but if I see them, I’ll check’em out.

      Reply
  4. That painting is pretty good actually. I find the Greek mythology stories interesting but haven’t read any of them since I was in school.

    Favourite book would probably be a Stephen King one. The Stand was good and so was Roadworks.

    I know the story of Lolita but haven’t ever read it. It kind of disturbs me a bit.

    Reply
    • Mythology is very amusing, yes. It’s also fascinating how those stories don’t die. They’re still everywhere, after all those centuries.
      Why does it disturb you? Maybe you don’t like it – it’s hard to believe, but not impossible, so don’t feel forced to read it (like you felt forced, but okay).

      Reply
      • Isn’t the story about an older bloke who falls in love with a really young girl? Just seems a bit… creepy and kiddy fiddler esque.

  5. Addie

     /  January 15, 2012

    I’ve read Lolita and watched both versions of the film. I prefer the Sue Lyon one, as she really was Lolita. I also saw a film called ‘Baby Doll’ which was along the same lines–disturbing to watch, the whole older man/younger woman thing. Not just younger, but, well, icky younger. Are you wanting to have sex with your daughter? Or, in the case of Morgan Freeman, your (step) granddaughter? Double ick.

    I never liked ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Holden was, to me, a selfish twit who whined too much. I despised the character so much, I actually sneered through a great deal of the reading, making comments to Holden as I read. I’ve enjoyed Austen, the Bronte sisters (especially Anne), To Kill a Mockingbird, A Reliable Wife (oh! they lyrical way he writes), Lamb, The Road, a slew of history books, David Sedaris’ early works and a host of others. I have shelves and piles and boxes of books. I seldom read one twice, as I do the whole retain the plot, etc, forever. So, it has to be an excellent story to have me read it again.

    Reply
    • Interesting. I found Sue Lyon looking much older, which changes the story a bit, but I haven’t watched any of those films completely and I won’t judge.
      I didn’t know Anne Brontë existed, but as I read about her writing style, I’m interested. I will try to find her books somewhere. (When I have time= when I retire. Once)
      Yes – my memory too will hardly forget plots. But sometimes a book is good enough for me. Some books I read over and over, maybe even 20 times.

      Reply
  6. I also liked a Reliable Wife, She’s Come Undone as well as, I Know This Much Is True. I’m surprised you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye? I think it’s a classic. Probably best read when you’re around 18 to 25 years old. Your reaction to Holden sounds like he tripped some of your wires. I notice whenever I have a STRONG reaction to a character or person there’s usually something more to it. Actually I notice it whenever someone, myself included, has a strong reaction. It’s very telling. I’m just saying…

    Reply
  7. Addie

     /  January 15, 2012

    You may be right–plus, I think I was around 15 when I read it, and, to be truthful, have never wanted to pick it up again. Catcher, I believe, is a book you either love or hate. I LOVED ‘Undone’ and ‘True’! I think Wally Lamb is amazing, and, I’m pretty sure most women who read that first book did as I did–going back time and again to look at the author’s photo. There was no way he was a man. A straight man. Who knew?
    Did you read Goolrick’s autobiography? Also a heck of a read. His style is so lush. I’m trying to think of the book I read that did make me so uncomfortable, I had to put it down time and again and walk away for a bit to digest. It is there, and, currently, refusing to name itself. OH! I also loved the Hunger Games, although I thought she could have done the series in two volumes, The Widow of the South, The Room and the aforementioned Buddha in the Attic. A.S. Byatt is another fave of mine.

    Reply
  8. AgrippingLife

     /  January 15, 2012

    Lily got me the Hunger Games for Christmas. I haven’t gotten to it yet. I also ordered Buddah in the Attic, per your suggestion. I just read, The Paris Wife. I think you’d enjoy it. You might also enjoy, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.
    Oh, so many books! So little time!

    Reply
  9. Addie

     /  January 16, 2012

    The Paris Wife!! Finished it right before Christmas!! GMTA, my friend. (Great Minds Think Alike). And, I’ve read Remarkable Creatures, too. Currently reading ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’–SO good!! It’s actually the book I was thinking of that caused a visceral reaction. The book is written as letters from a wife to her divorced husband, regarding their life together, and what she thought and all the rest–including the way she felt about their son, Kevin, who did a Columbine shooting, but, survived and is in prison. When she started talking about the initial disconnection after birth, I had to put the book down for two days. I had no idea what I was supposed to feel or act or anything. I was starting to completely feel I was a shit of a person, when, one day I went to pick him up from a nap, he looked up at me and I knew that he was my heart and soul. BUT, that section–too close. I was angry reading the words. Poor NBI–yet another blog comment section we’ve taken over!!

    NBI–thank you for this subject, and for letting us have our coffee klatch (as it were) in your space. Did you see how we connected the dots?

    Reply
  10. Oh, it’s okay! You actually give people more to read in the comments than I give you in the post :). But if I can be the trigger to talk about books, then me is happy! Everyone has his/her life direction, and mine is letting people talk.
    It gives me books to add to my (rather empty) list. No more hesitating in the library!

    Reply
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