Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Literary Big Brother

Big Brother, the reality show to end them all, starts in a few hours, and continues for over three months (I'll be blogging it here).

I can already envisage the process I'll go through as I watch it, from the initial excitement to despair and pain, climaxing in passive acceptance. But I am just one of many; the great writers have all written about their experiences of watching Big Brother - in fact, it's one of The Big Themes of All Literature.

Anyway, here's how the next 13 weeks will run, according to the masters.

Week 1: fascination as new housemates arrive, socialise
"The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same beat; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and colour under the constantly changing light."
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

Week 2: heated discussion about new contestants
"…he spent sleepless nights trying to understand them and extract their meaning, which Aristotle himself, if he came back to life for only that purpose, would not have been able to decipher or understand."
Don Quixote, Cervantes

Week 3: schadenfreude as they fight about shopping budget
"Some moralists reasoned that the possession of money does not always determine happiness and that other forms of happiness are perhaps more direct... Incredibly, there were complaints. The company, with its usual discretion, did not answer directly."
The Lottery in Babylon, Borges

Week 4: curiousity piqued by potential romance
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Week 5: total addiction to programme

"…and yes I said yes I will Yes."
Ulysses, James Joyce

Week 6: intense irritation at foolishness of housemates
“Out, damned spot! Out I say!”
Macbeth, Shakespeare

Week 7: annoyance as rules are broken, shopping budget lost
"Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe,
With loss of Eden…"
Paradise Lost, Milton

Week 8: loss of interest
"…we both noticed what an endless length of time went by before another minute had passed, and how alarming seemed the movement of that hand, which resembled a sword of justice, even though we were expecting it every time it jerked forward, slicing off the next one-sixtieth of an hour from the future and coming to a halt with such a menacing quiver that one's heart almost stopped."
Austerlitz, WG Sebald

Week 9: desertion of programme prevented by introduction of new housemates
"I felt that I tottered upon the brink – I averted my eyes –
There was the discordant hum of human voices! There was the loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back!"
The Pit and the Pendulum, Edgar Allan Poe

Week 10: brief re-ignition of excitement as fights are picked
"You must have noticed how young men, after their first taste of argument, are always contradicting people just for the fun of it; they imitate those whom they hear cross-examining each other, and themselves cross-examine other people, like puppies who love to pull and tear at anyone within reach."
The Republic, Plato

Week 11: desperate wish for show to be over / impossibility of switching off
"Would you insist that some wretch whose life is slowly but surely being drained away by lingering disease put an end to his miseries with one sharp thrust of his dagger? Does not the malady that consumes his strength also rob him of the courage to seek his deliverance?"
The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe

Week 12: desire for return of old life / impossibility of switching off
"…as if there were any need of help to go on with a thing that can't stop, and yet it will, it will stop, do you hear, the voice says it will stop, some day, it says it will stop and it says it will never stop… you must go on, that's all I know, they're going to stop, I know that well, I can feel it, they're going to abandon me… you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on."
The Unnameable, Samuel Beckett

Week 13: acceptance of fate
"The clocks were striking thirteen… Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
1984, George Orwell


Cristina Sánchez said...

hehe, great diachrony of the phatalism of Big Brother... It is amazing how fun it is to mix up this kind of TV-shows with good literature... I guess one prefers to laugh rather than to cry... :) anyway... interesting blog!

Doris said...

I like it. I like it a lot.

rashbre said...

I really must make the effort to watch, but will its effects counteract those of faysburke?