Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist

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Freudian Time Slip

Alexandrina Brant:

Just something to think about for your Thursday. Does linguistic variation over time and the way society’s use of language changes it (sociolinguistics) stem from subconscious – and/or extraterrestrial – formation of what it means to be human?

Originally posted on Davetopia:

We all, I suspect, have words and phrases we repeatedly remember differently from the majority, whether in spelling or meaning. Often, they seem to stem from mere rote, such as my mistyping ‘from’ as ‘form’ but not vice versa because of a slight difference in the speed my fingers move when touch-typing. But sometimes they seem more meaningful.

Take the case of the anthropic principle: a series of philosophical considerations in astrophysics that observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the observer. While both the literature and experts (as far as I know) apply the correct name, I have noticed a significant minority of interested laypeople call it the anthropomorphic principle.

Assuming from context it is not a deliberate reference to a theological term that received some mention in the mid-1800s, it would be easy to dismiss the confusion as stemming from ‘anthropomorphic’ being a much more common…

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7 Quick Takes about Human Machines, Squidgy Brains, Null Eclipses

7 Quick Takes Friday of Catholic bloggers’ weeks! Join us! Hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.



Did you get to see the eclipse today? We were invited out of our lecture at 9.30 in the morning— to the face of a blank Berkshire sky. Oh, England.

As a friend of mine put it:

Nope, no eclipse here



One of the things I like about the academic writing of philosophy is that I get to write some pretty funky sentences. I mean, I have some pretty duff sentences, too, but then there are phrases like these, which make me happy to be a creative writer:

For the sake of a simplified example, our mind is caused by a program which loads human consciousness onto our flesh-and-blood machine, just as Microsoft Word is loaded onto a laptop.


This is the first philosophy essay that I have written so quickly, prolifically, and with understanding. The topic of Functionalism, if you don’t know it, is a fascinating interpretation of the problem of mind and how humans are, essentially, machines with ‘machine tables’ of set inputs and outputs in order to ‘work’. Behaviour and consciousness are effectively already programmed into us – this, of course, brings up some interesting questions, not to mention flaws brought out from philosophers like Ned Block and Hilary Putnam. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy page.


I write this as part of my hour break from revision. I’ve been working on powerpoints for my three end-of-module tests next week. Neuroscience has been great, but at the moment I’m working on my social psychology stuff, namely currently mood and intelligence.

I think I’m biased towards Neuroscience, though, due to the squidgy brains that I’ve been painting to help my knowledge.



The second or third dance event of the term is this evening – hosted, technically, by the university big band, but we’re taking the society to the location, so it might as well be our social. I would be looking forward to this a lot more if I didn’t have everything on around these times. I’m just not so enthused, though I would normally be excited for a Saturday night on the dance. :)


Spontaneous music for your listening. It’s one of my current guilty pleasure songs (I will always have a taste for ‘pop-punk‘ bands) no matter how superficial their messages and lyrics are. There’s something optimistic and permanent strength portrayed through the lyrics and the upbeat music, but maybe those are simply the feelings I associate with the song now. I don’t know if the band had any specific connotations (apart from writing it for the film Big Hero 6), but there are elements of Eternal Life there, aren’t there? Immortals, Fall Out Boy.


No editing or fiction snippet this week, due to the above reasons. I miss working on my writing, but I have been doing a little research, something which I don’t normally have the chance to really branch into. Funny how being busy with other work changes one’s perspectives, eh?

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7 Quick Takes: I’ve Been Absent, But That’s the End of Term…

Wow, it seems these days that I’m so busy I forget even to blog. It’s not that it’s not important to me – and not that I don’t have ideas – the issue is simply one of time or lack thereof. Which is why 7 Quick Takes Friday is so rewarding. I do apologise for any shortnesses, though. Hosted by Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum.



So, what’s been going on in my life that I’m so busy, eh?

Essays, my friends. Essays and lab reports. I finished the latter and started writing the former today. I have two full weeks left of terms, so I must be on my guard and sharp to complete everything I need to.


Whilst I (once again – sorry!) neglected/forgot to post a Quick Takes last week, I did have somewhat of a post detailing my travels on Wed, and, for the thousand photographs I could spill here, I’ll stick to one.

Rules for etiquette...

Rules for etiquette…


I think I might be getting a cold, but I’m getting through with honey, Lemsip, and camomile tea. Oddly enough – compared the other times colds have hit me, and those are many – my bad synapses haven’t much affected my singing. I’m hoping this is a sign that I’m using my diaphragm, lungs, and soft palate to better and more lovely extent. One day, I’d love to learn the Bel Canto way properly, but, again, it’s something for which I have no time.


I am really getting into the swing of saying grace before mealtimes. In a crowded university hall, I haven’t yet the strength to say a full prayer to myself, but I can at least cross myself and remember that it’s God who has put me in this place at this time. Twice a week I have meals with fellow Christians, which is so helpful in ideas for the words to say, too. I’m not giving anything up for Lent, but I’m finding my cravings for meat have been less on days where abstinence is not necessitated.


I have been so blessed lately, with the friends and the life choices I’ve been given. It’s easy to get lost in ‘real life’ and forget the One who has created and allowed us to look after His world, so this is my little praise to God today. I hope to blog about that later in the week, but for now I’ll just nod and smile.


In terms of the writerly side of life, I have actually had the gears in my mind whirring this week. I’m managed to get some editing in – I finished the rewrite I was doing, and sent those pages off to two Betas, and now I’m playing the adjective elimination game, one page at a time.


Patience and Milo face danger as a mechanical beast* rounds on their hiding place. I’ve been jotting down notes for The Mallard: Cosmic Train short story for the last couple of weeks, but, with the little time I have, I’ve not met them in running script yet. Writing in first person from Patience’s view (I have yet to decide if I want to see from Milo’s perspective, too) is interesting – unusual for my fantasy genres – but I think it’s working. Patience is a kindly maid, but she’s intelligent enough to question the so-called facts and orders when necessary.

Indeed: the clanking of a metal-adapted beast as it trailed its elongated limbs from the rear carriage. The strained grinding of the internal gear-cores, choking under their own weight and the oil I’d watched the creature guzzle, stumbled closer. Our hiding spot. With a nose no doubt amplified with certain measures of pewter and fibreglass curling from its orifices, the beast drew out a sniff and its scraping spilled again into their room.

*I have yet to decide what animal I want here, so this is deliberately rather vague for the moment!

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7 Quick Takes: Shakespeare, Swing, Subjectivity Research

The busyness of my weeks barely permit me to have time to write a post, and I’m squeezing in each as I go, stealing spare pennies.

7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick take friday 2


As usual, I start with the work. I’ve been doing research for my third year project, which is likely going to be something along the lines of investigating how types of language can change people’s perception of the world and objects.

Subjectivity is weird.


On the leisure side, we had so much dancing this week. Saturday was the Swing Jam social as I mentioned on Monday. Looking through my photos, I didn’t manage to get so many clean-cut and precise ones as I would’ve liked, so I will have to stay dictating to you the fun I had that evening.


Thursday we went to see jazz band The Silver Heels and swing dance to them in a local bar venue. More great fun, especially as so many of the society turned up, and we said goodbye to President Chris as he goes to Cyprus on army business! We were told that if as many dancers arrive next month (Silver Heels is a monthly gig, and God bless everyone for that!), they’ll move the sofa and budge the tables to give us a bigger dancing space, yay! I don’t have a visual clip of The Silver Heels’ work, as normally they’re being listened and danced to, but their Reverbnation page has a nice selection of their songs and covers.


The Annual General Meeting has been on my mind as the committee prepares for it, and I have to compile a list of things that have been and need to be done. I’m working on it, and, actually, the more thought and confidence I let God provide me, the easier I’m finding it being. I have come to realise that too long has come to pass of me letting others speak first when I have an idea. I must not suppress my ideas any more, for the suppression is what lack of confidence has taken me from my dreams.


A rehearsal picture from the official Facebook page


I went to see the Reading Drama Society’s The Tempest this evening. It was wonderful, but what struck me the most was not the lively costumes and makeup, the amazing direction, or the creative acting, but the music, dazzling and heartbreaking. I would love to return to the theatre, and, in particular, back to theatrical music. I have a start in just listening as I work, I guess…


And as I sit here with my tea and thoughts a-brewing, the fiction practically writes itself. I don’t know if I mentioned before my inspiration of A City of Ember, but that has been stirring, and, as I watched my friends and thespians perform, I saw the characters beyond them, I saw the players be my hands and take to me my work.

And that is inspiration.


Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre


Beautiful People: The Valentine’s Edition

(Far be it for me to dictate against inspiration from commercialism…) For this month’s Beautiful People, hosted by Cait and Sky, since it’s February, they decided to do a Valentine’s edition and look at significant relationships of these beautiful people/characters.

I made it Valentine's pretty ^_^

I made it Valentine’s pretty ^_^

I would be insane not to look at Aidelle and Phillip, and, unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say! Theirs is one of the most interesting relationships in my writing – not least because the existence and ‘fates’ of certain other characters hinges on their being together. It’s also one of the more successful relationships, at least in relative terms. Oh, and FYI, since the trilogy has a lot of timey-wimey, I’ll be looking at their relationship at the time of the beginning of WTCB, aka August 2010, the first…


  1. How long have they been a couple?

About a year. I’m sure The Almanac has the exact date they met and were obliged to be a couple, but I don’t know exactly, except that they have been engaged for a year.

  1. How did they first meet?

Through The Continent’s arranged marriage system: Phillip had to choose a wife to appease his parents from a Selection of ten women; Aidelle agreed to have her name put forward, so her mother would get off her back. She had no idea Phillip would actually go for the least socialite-y of the girls. Luckily, it worked out for them. (Thus far.)

  1. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)

Hum, well, it wasn’t love at first sight and neither of them wanted to meet, so there was some tension there, but they certainly had a dash of chemistry, and were intellectually compatible – ironically, by the fact that neither of them wanted to be there.

  1. What do they do that most annoys each other?

Aidelle hates that Phillip doesn’t raise his voice when he gets angry. She doesn’t like that he keeps things from her, acting aloof and the like, even if for her own sake. Phillip loves Aidelle very much, but he can be annoyed by the way she always complains about her siblings and his. They don’t much yet have habits that really irk each other.

  1. Are their personalities opposite or similar?

More complementary than similar. Whilst they share the same views about life, such as that the war is bad, Aidelle runs on tempers to Phillip’s logical contemplation. He is thoughtful, though they are similarly emotion- and action-focused to trouble. However, Phillip has known that his fury can hurt, and has changed his actions to make the world a better place. Maybe Aidelle will learn from losing her temper than she needs to regulate her mood better.

  1. How would their lives be different without each other?

Oh, this question… You must’ve read my novel! :P Whilst if she’d never met Phillip, Aidelle would still be the youngest, frumpiest third daughter of failing parents, Phillip would always have had to choose a woman to marry, lest he face the wrath and pressure of his father’s inheritance. He probably would never have been attracted to her, and who knows if he would have ever wanted a family? His entire future would have been completely different if he had not chosen Aidelle. Perhaps, that’s why I find Phillip a more interesting character to write.

  1. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?

I think Phillip probably feels rather shy of Aidelle when she interacts with the papers and possibly with his family. On the other hand, they tend to be quite open with each other; because they have similar ideas and strict unspoken relationship norms, they don’t tend to be embarrassed by each other.

  1. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

All of the people. *cough* Well, Aidelle’s family approve of the relationship, because it’s a socioeconomic step up for her, orchestrated by her mother (and possibly manipulated by Aidelle’s uncle who was once the hired painter for Phillip’s parents, but the jury’s out on that one); but Phillip’s parents, once he had selected Aidelle, started having second thoughts about whether she is the best woman to be a Costello wife. We’re not sure who started the rumours against Aidelle’s anti-societism and how flawed and failing her poor parents are. And then there are the socialites with deep jealousy who despise and bully Aidelle whenever she is in the centre of the continent. Perhaps they think if they insult her enough, she will relinquish Phillip and let him marry one of them instead.

And then there’s his brother Rion, who just hates the general idea of marrying women. I wonder why… ;)

  1. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

They are engaged! *drinks celebratory wine* In fact, they are due to marry a month after the novel starts, so, yeah, they want their happily ever after.

  1. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

I could see them going for a walk around the lake where they met. They’d take a picnic into the bandstand, then later find a nice quiet spot in the woods. ;) Both Phillip and Aidelle, whilst not being athletic, enjoy exploring nature and hiking, though Aidelle would probably start complaining that her feet are hurting after a while. She doesn’t have the best of shoes for serious hiking.


That’s it from me for now. I could talk about Aidelle and Phillip’s relationship for ages, going through every little detail of the past, present, future— but that’s what the Almanac is for, not me. Check out the rest of the Beautiful People for February tag. Following on from Cait’s question at the end of her post, I’ll say that I write fluffy romances with a hint of the tragic, of course, a smidgen forbidden by some, and occasionally a triangle if the characters feel like it.

What about you? Do you write romance? If so, what sort? Happy February!


Photo of the Week: Learning Styles

You know how people see different elements of a single structure? ie. In a painting, a writer might see the story, whilst an artist might instead look to the brushstrokes and tones. It occurred to me as I was thinking about this phenomenon that it might be used to discern a child or youth’s a) best field of study, and, more importantly, b) learning style. The way students are taught in schools has been bemoaned before, but I’ll reiterate: not enough attention is given to the variety of learners and types of intelligence in children, particularly those in state (ie. government-run) schools, who are more likely to have come from a wider variety of socioeconomic backgrounds compared to students in independent/private schools.* Although, practically, it can be difficult for a teacher to provide every type of attentional and learning style in a class of 30-odd, there is certainly the advantage of varying teaching style beyond simply dictation. If one were to look at modern studies of learning styles in correlation to attention, one would find that even using PowerPoint and making a presentation cannot fully engage a child’s attention.

Certainly, from experience, the teachers and subjects I remember best were those where the staff catered for students as individual people to be respected, rather than simply obliging to teach these children as part of their job.

*In part due to the academic rigor and attention given to private school entrance exams, there are also more likely to be students with disabilities in state schools that make classical learning more difficult.

Why is that relevant to today?

Well, my photo of the week is of the gable that inspired these thoughts – on the top of the Wantage dining hall. What do you see? The first thing I notice is the way the stone border on the central gable almost ripples down the brickwork. There’s something about the smooth-then-square-then-smooth that fascinates me most about this photo and centrepiece. Gazing out of my window as I type, I can see that similar shapes are used over the doorways into each block. I’m not sure exactly what that says about me, but it’s a writer’s job to have their characters pick out certain details that others would not.



7 Quick Takes about Room Touring, Cooking, and Fancy Quoting

Welcome to the New Year, and, of course, the start of this year’s 7 Quick Takes. Join Catholic bloggers around the world as we sum up our weeks. Hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum. (Look at the shiny new logo… *strokes logo*)

seven quick takes friday 2

#1. I’m back in Reading, and that’s exciting, even though nothing much has happened – and I’ve only got the academic term to look forward to.

#2. Dancing! Swing band Ding Dong Daddios played some great tunes live last night, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s dancing, the biggest in the Reading area for a while. I am blessed to be a part of it, as small as I am.

#3. I’ve been doing some cooking and trying to sample more unusual dishes. I’m looking forward to working on things I’ve not tried before, from easy dishes to slightly more complicated ones. And eating them straight, though I won’t have the money to eat out for ages yet.

#4. I kind of almost redecorated my room. Or, rather, I stuck my tongue out at the fact I have no space, and managed to re-sort with re-thought. The power of thought! Blogger/Vlogger Irish American Sword invited me to vlog a room tour, so, apart from writing this, panicking that I’ve not sent a Beta my next chapters, and editing another vlog –urg– I’ll be filming that today.

#5. Speaking of which, do you remember me saying that I finished the second draft of Horology? Woop. *party poppers* Actually, it’s pretty sucky, but I’m happy enough to send it to my dear Alpha, who’s been waiting at least a month for it.

#6. No new writing this week, or the previous weeks, as I have been editing. I can’t say I have a favourite part of the draft, but there are a couple of nice lines, I guess. I don’t do humour well, so I try what I may.

#7. I like the mysterious elements in some of the chapters, though:



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