Winner of She Loves Me announced; Alison Ireland counts the ways of modern love
7th March 2015
We all want love. In the Western world, the pursuit of love is seen as a right, and a valid defining factor in the way we live our lives. I’m not a Christian, but I think Jesus did a good job of helping to elevate love up the agenda to the governing force it has become for many of our moral decisions. And romantic love has gone hand in hand, running a little behind. At one time, the craziness of love was something to be ashamed of, to apologise for. Now it is something to celebrate – but as an intangible presence, it has found its existence to be a complicated one. It has had to fight its corner against traditionalism, sexual freedom, longer life expectancy, equality, legislation, the internet and massive changes to our perception of its meaning. Now we as a society endorse same-sex love, people’s love for their children, people’s desire to have children and fulfil that love-potential despite what we commonly perceive to be human over-population, and the desire to do what we love; but while we increasingly respect the rights of love as part of an individual, perhaps we understand less what role this invisible force plays within our own lives and how to correctly identify it – in other words, the facility for free choice puts more pressure on everyone’s expectations and decision-making process.
The entries for this title, ‘She Loves Me’, explored this quixotic being with excellent variety. A few of you chose to delight us with twists in the tail/tale: she wasn’t his love interest, but his mother, therefore theme of mother-love; he was not a traditional lover but god; a random car crash; the death of a loving seal; childhood sweethearts and their progress through time; the love of Lady Death; the love of cakes; voyeurism. Several of these involve the assumption of some kind of love from the other party, even when not real or human (eg the cake, the seal); obviously the driver for this was in no small part the title (She Loves Me), but there’s a suggestion that the need to recognise love in others is perhaps stronger than the willingness to admit love for one’s sentient life-fellows. We need to believe that we are in some secret way worthy of love in order to validate our lives. I suggest that you read all these entries while they remain in Ephemera, as they are really diverse.
Our winner this week, finishing with the highest average mark-set, was entry 599, the puritanical grandmother taking a malicious pleasure in the halting of others’ ‘evil’ fun. It’s a short piece with no words wasted, concisely constructing an image of a complex character, disturbed by humans and their tracks to the point of insanity:
‘She believed that cameras cast an evil eye. She broke one in a store for that very reason. There were no photographs in her house. She would clip out pictures from the newspaper so she would not have to see all the pictures of cursed people.’
A marker commented that they liked: ‘The way meaning accrues to the grandmother's various negative passions via the details in each paragraph’ which is clever and carefully built.
Featured entries are: 609, the ‘Clever and sharp commentary on the modern love affair’ which is ‘not afraid to be crude to get its point across.’, and embodies ‘a modern love story where no one knows if they are in love or not’. Brilliant, concise piece….
…and 582, because I love the combination of the childish flower game, the brutal violence, and the unrequited love – a mini-epic:
‘The truth is that he would wait until the room was
empty, then he'd run through the same futile ritual over and over again. She
loves me. She loves me not. She loves me. She loves me not...
The answer was always the same. At one point he became convinced that all flowers must have an even number of petals, or maybe just certain types of flower. That would make sense right? Science? So he tried to cheat by starting with 'she loves me not'. Same result.’
Different competition and different result for Hour of Writes next week – see you there? (or see you there not…)
AI 7th March 2015