Tuesday, 12 December 2000
Diary Entry for 12 December Followed by Commentary And Analysis
"oh, everything's gone weird and pear-shaped. i
mean. eating lumps of cheese? abusing exclamation marks? singing
songs about soho? wondering how other people's hair feels? going
to the ten bells? finding boys with teeth intoxicating?"
"i work for a website. (who doesn't, these days?) the boyfriend
is convinced there's something going down with someone at my work.
i was working late on thursday and when i got in eliot, the boyfriend,
he's a designer, just said 'working late, eh?' in a voice
that made me feel like i HAD done something. but all i'd done
till 9pm was written articles, surfed the internet for pictures
of drew barrymore and anthea turner (it's work, ok?) and then
missed my stop on the district line and whizzed on to aldgate
and walked back in the rain."
"god, i wish i HAD been doing stuff. it certainly couldn't
have been any less exciting. i didn't tell him that, of course,
for he would have pursed his lips in that way he has, and looked
away when i tried to kiss him."
"no, everything is not pear-shaped at all. check this out
for normal: i am about to cook leek and potato soup. and, right,
AND, i cycled to work today and saved £3.90 on a travelcard, which
meant I was able to meet eliot and henrique the performance poet
afterwards at an interesting bar which used to be a men's toilet
(but isn't, anymore: it's now the kind of place where people sip
coffee while tapping away on a powerbook). i spent the travelcard
money on wine and olives instead."
"we discussed the similaries between madonna and adolf hitler
and other type a personalities. i learnt all about aggressive
type a folks when i was researching my personality quiz for the
website, you see."
"yeah i'm busy, maybe. but things are normal. not pear-shaped,
"furthermore - as if more proof of the non-pear-shapedness,
the utter mundanity of things, were needed - i've decided which
phone to get. a nokia xxxxxfuckknowswhatthenumberisxxxx. it's
tiny because size is offically no longer everything, it is NOTHING.
this is a fact i take a certain peverse pleasure in, because i
choose to equate these gadgets with neat female genitalia instead
of hulking great mens' things, and to consider this as a sign
of the rise in importance of the female in modern culture."
"which is hogwash, of course - all the early adopters are
male, women buy like a THIRD of mobiles compared to blokes, and
uk women are only just catching up with men in terms of internet
use - but i'd rather see it as a sign of the rise of the female
in modern culture, ok, so please don't disillusion me, honey."
"hey, maybe, right, maybe things aren't pear-shaped enough.
i once read a definition of the term in the guardian which suggested
it was a misogynistic term - pear-shaped being one definition
of a curvy female body type - a term implying everthing thing
had deviated from the (straight, male, linear, phallogocentric)
norm. while it does imply things deviating from the norm, surely
it's extrapolating to consider it yet another example of misogyny
"but let's say it's not extrapolating, right? let's pretend.
let's celebrate the pear-shaped. let's see tiny phones as representing
tiny clitorises, and the people yammering into them on every train
and in every shop doorway as representing a metaphorical clit-licking:
part of a new wave of pear-shaped cunt-loving spreading through
"let's DIG pear-shaped! let's celebrate the askew, the offcentre,
the random, the chance encounter. let's celebrate the drunken
explosion of the unconsious at the office party; the diary left
carelessly unattended; the misdirected email, the lost love-letter;
the sprawl of brain-juice, just like this one, which constitutes
the internet. let's celebrate the pear. after all, you don't get
many of those to the pound these days."
Analysis on The Diary Entry for 12 December 2000
the stated aim of the text is to explore whether or not the life
of the protaganist, as represented in an online journal, has become
'pearshaped'. it is worth noting at this early point that the
term is redolent of female physicality. the text examines and
subsequently rejects this point, but the term has been used for
centuries to describe large-hipped women. (indeed, the medlar
pear was cited in Shakespeare as exciting males by representing
the female form. furthermore, the term 'a nice pair' is often
used to refer approvingly to another part of female anatomy, the
breasts. this is of course aurally identical to the term 'pear'.)
after a few paragraphs detailing the routine of an urban, twentysomething
lifestyle, the text, via a trope of a nokia mobile phone specifically
chosen to represent 'mundanity', blossoms into its own textual
'pear-shapedness'. the narrator imagines that these phones, so
prevalent in her urban life, represent the female genitals. she
first acknowleges the irrationality of this statement by providing
factual details which appear to contradict the view she puts forward.
she then states quite clearly that she wishes to run with a view
she knows to be untrue, describing the way she sees the the act
of talking on a mobile phone as a representation of cunnilingus.
at this point the text moves into its own random, nonsensical
phase - echoing the 'pearshapedness' it sets out to refute - as
the narrator imagines that there is a surge of female power -
what she calls 'cunt-lovin'' - spreading throughout her culture.
this is clearly incorrect according to the facts (which were true
at the time of writing) cited in the previous paragraph.
at this point, in an about-turn not seen since the lesser moments
of the prose of jeffery archer, the text begins espousing the
delights of randomness, a randomness it initally set out to decry.
in this way, the form of the text follows the function, mirroring
the narrator's confusion.
while the narrator continually asserts that she is, in fact, 'normal',
and that her life is far from 'pear-shaped', her prose suggests
that her unconsious is everything she claims it is not: out of
control, convoluted, contradictory, irrational, random: in short,
this journal entry is a prime example of the unreliable narrator
prevalent in modern prose ever since the early 1920s. as such
this text both reiterates and represents, both formally and thematically,
a much-repeated tenet of the late twentieth and early twenty-first
century: that modern life is rubbish.