summer is released the august!! i’m gonna read it immediately
hey everyone, glad to be back!
general feelings about section 2: i really loved the introduction of florence and what fun & lightness her relationship with brit brought to the book (esp after the bleakness of richards story). it was super satisfying when their story crossed paths, and all i felt was excitement of what was to come in the final section.
finally we’re getting what’s starting to feel like spring. (isn’t spring always characterized by its tardy arrival? is that because i live fairly far north on the globe or because the gulf stream on north america’s east coast has been disrupted? has it always been like this? i don’t remember spring ever beginning in march.) in any case there’s a truly youthful presence—high energy, literate, intentional relationship w technology, high creativity (& who’s favorite season is spring, leitmotif bell ringing a bit). we also get to see smith having a lot of fun with dialogue here, which is a particular strength of hers imo!
then another thing i noticed, at this point we have a lot of intergenerational interaction goin on. florence is gen z, brit & terp are millenials, richard is either gen x or boomer, paddy is silent generation. seems relevant
funny that Brit meets Florence in October, right? I also love how easy and cheerful Brit’s dialogues with Florence are especially in contrast with her bleak life and monologue.
right, like she’s rediscovering herself by seeing herself through this bright young person’s eyes
I was fascinated by florence and her incredible ability to get past everything, not only literally, but figuratively. at the beginning of the section we see britt, a closed off individual, who seems almost numbed by the job she does. shes desensitized to the feelings of others, as we see in the way she treats the details of course, but also in her personal relationships. she truly has become a cog in the machine (I found it funny that she calls herself the machine in her first encounter with florence, despite her painful lack of awareness to what shes become). in a couple of days, florence has managed to tear all of that down. we don’t get to see much about her thoughts, however we never do see any hesitation with her, which is part of why she is able to get away with the things she does. she says herself that people just see through young people and minority groups like they aren’t there, but she takes that and uses it to her advantage. when people do notice her and try to stop her, she doesn’t care. she keeps going. i feel like smith was using florence partly as a symbol for generation z. the youngest generation doesn’t care about age, or what will stop them. they are aware, involved, and are no longer feeling helpless. and its working
Brit is a frustrating character I think. She seems some issues in the world but doesn’t care though it’s implied that maybe she wasn’t always like that. She says [about her vote on the EU referendum]: “I was younger then, and I still thought politics mattered” (p. 163). What happened that made her become so indifferent to injustices in the world? Maybe it’s her reaction to the abundance of input through technology so she turns her back on it completely. Florence on the other hand uses technology differently to most of us and she is vibrant and nosy and enaged with the troubles of the world.
agreed!! i think that the two represent the differences between millennials and gen z. both are more aware of our political climate than the past generations were in their teens-20’s, however millennials, coming into the workforce to an economy that was recovering from a recession, could only really learn how to exist within the system that was given to them, almost as a means of survival. gen z is working to almost tear down the system entirely and rebuild a new one, that can work for everyone. i think maybe that’s why britt was so excited about the cleaned bathrooms, while florence was disappointed.
i am really interested in dissecting brit and the ways ali smith builds her character in the first half of the chapter. there was something very george saunder-ey in the way she captures consciousness, especially the narrative’s innocence in the face of such atrocity. i am thinking about the bullet point chapter starting on 149 (what brittany hall learned in her first two weeks) and it feels like a robot being programmed how to behave and react (Joke? Definitely meant to be. Big big laugh. 153). her life is seemingly very simple, following a strict routine, etc
and then she breaks free with florence and her personality shines! their banter was a treat to read, brit became caring & protective, her actions become almost purposeful & passionate. helping florence, instead of detaining others, was bringing her (and me as a reader) so much more pleasure. i think this shake up of character and style was an effective way to express brit’s freedom
what’s happened to brit is pretty sad. there’s a lot of detachment there, & i want to suggest, a lot of trauma incurred by perpetuating violence of the state. of course we can’t view this trauma as more significant than the trauma the people indefinitely detained, though maybe it’s not useful anyway to consider violence hierarchically.
but i am reminded of toni morrison’s playing in the dark, where she suggests that for our country to heal, basically, all white people need to unwind the intergenerational trauma they’ve inherited via their ancestors (& contemporaries) mistreating bipoc—that people who inflict violence become wounded by that violence also, & those who have experienced trauma tend to continue that cycle in their own actions. & in brit’s character (name is pretty on the nose, no?) we’re seeing the accumulation of her own deeds distance herself from reality & permit her to be monstrous without a whole lot of self reflection or even self presence…
yep i noted 149 - 153 as pretty suanders-esq too, that goofy truncated style he sometimes uses, semplica girl diaries for instance.
what do yall think about ali smith gifting/crediting her beautifully exhilarating, disorienting, & poetic opening chapters to a 12 year old??
i loved the revelation that they are FROM somewhere… it didnt bother me necessarily that a 12 yr old supposedly wrote that. she’s supposed to massively precocious & magic & all that… so my feeling was… sure whatever! was it not persuasive for u?
Something little – the way you both spoke about Brit’s general indifference esp. towards politics, parallels to me with the bit of her trying to read Florence’s jacket “Vivunt spe” … but she only knows “viv,” so she doesn’t “see” the “hope” if that makes sense…
I do feel like there is a large sense of hopelessness throughout the millennial generation, or just has been for a while, like an acceptance for things we feel that we can’t change. (…not okay…)
I love Florence and her gen Z zeal! Gen Z’s are more than hopeful, they are confident in their ability to change and it is so so admirable!
i thought that the twelve year old IS florence. when brit is reading her journal, she notes one of the entries, saying, “one is like a lot of the far right and far left stuff that people say, and the girl has written it all in different sizes of writing, some bits in captials.” then she says another one is told from the voice of social media.
no not at all!! i loved the reveal too! in fact, it elevated her and solidified my obsession with florence as a character
I wonder whether Brit really does have a lack of awareness! It certainly sounds like it in a way…
but at the same time, we saw in her discussion with Josh that she doesn’t seem to care much (p. 157) and I think in order to be of that mindset, she needs an awareness of some sort! (there needs to be something to “give a fuck” about)
maybe she does understand what’s going on to the point where she feels numb, maybe she understands well enough to know that there’s almost nothing she can do to unravel the really complex issues that have allowed the centre to even exist.
@jyvescuda has summed up part of what I’m trying to say as I have been writing this!
well spotted! doesn’t she then text josh and asks him to translate it? She could just google it and answer her question herself. Instead she hopes others will do it for her. maybe a metaphor for her general approach to solving issues? letting others do it and hoping she’ll get away with not caring enough? Maybe an overinterpretation and she just wanted to text her ex to let him know she’s thinking about something clever?