1. Without any quack-moo, can you tell me what you honestly think about LitCrit? How has Real Life changed your views, if at all, of literature and the academic study of same?
At the moment, I honestly try not to think about LitCrit at all. I got so miserable during my first year or so in Cambridge because so many people told me (and "proved", with examples, without writing on both sides of the paper at once) that English as a degree was utterly worthless, and while it was important to read literature because culture was A Good Thing, everything you needed to know about the book was in the book, and anything else was just made-up rubbish, because if the author meant it, they'd have said it ... ergo, my degree was rubbish too, and I ought to accept that and stop trying to convince people that it was useful.
Of course, I did try to convince people of the value of LitCrit for a while, but I can't even remember why, let alone what my arguments were. I didn't have any good arguments. It didn't take people long to convince me that I had wasted the previous four years of my life.
For a while I tried to make myself keep reading and thinking, and then I tried to learn to program instead, but these days I don't read, and I try not to think about books and stuff, and I don't do much else either. If I do read I tend to read fairly uncritically. "It was a book. It was nice."
I'd have no idea how to read something critically any more.
I don't think that answers the question, but trying to think about it any more is just making me desperately unhappy. Sorry. :-(
2. Is there anything in Middlemarch that would make it worth my while having one more go at it?
I haven't the faintest idea. I can't remember anything about it except being stressed at the prospect of having to read it in a day and a half and then write an essay on it.
3. Sacrifice: poly lifestyle, a talent (specify), or all (real and cuddly) badgers?
Er. I'm not sure I have any talents. Can't think of any that I'd miss, anyway, so I'd happily sacrifice any that you can think of.
Would sacrificing the badgers mean that all real badgers died or vanished or something? I could live with never seeing any, because I've never seen a real one (except dead on the road), and at the end of the day the cuddly ones are just fluff-stuffed plushy things. But I think the world's a better place for having badgers in it, even if I never got to see any.
Or maybe I'd be better sacrificing the poly lifestyle because I make such a godawful mess of it, whereas badgers mostly make a reasonable job of being badgers.
Not sure to what extent sacrificing the poly "lifestyle" would make sense, though. Would I suddenly start thinking that it was Wrong to love other people? Or would I just have to pretend I didn't, and/or avoid ever doing anything about it? I don't think I could stand pretending I didn't feel anything for other people, because I don't like lying to myself or others. I could probably stand never doing anything about it, but ... well, it just seems daft given that I don't think there's anything wrong with doing anything about it, IYSWIM. I'm not saying that one always has to do things just because there's nothing wrong with it; I mean, I certainly don't act on every desire I have! But I can't imagine the reason for resisting being "I'm not poly" rather than, e.g., "it would ruin a good friendship" or "I don't have time to give enough energy/time/etc. to another relationship" or whatever. So I'd have to sacrifice the whole mindset. I'm not sure how I'd react to that, because I wouldn't be me, then, really.
4. Joey Bettany, Darrell Rivers, Nancy Blackett, or Polly (Fire and Hemlock?
(Who's Nancy Blackett?) To do what with? To be them, to be friends with them, or what?
I'd like to be like Joey, but I think I'm more like Darrell, with my Temper and all that. I'd love to have either of them as a friend, though. And Joey is gorgeous and wonderful and I'm still completely besotted with her. Ohhh, I must go and re-read all my Chalet School books now! (That doesn't count as reading, really, I've read them so many times that I'm only really reminding myself of them.)
Never really felt quite the same about Polly as I did about either of the schoolgirls -- I loved the story of F&H but only wanted to be Polly insofar as I've always felt that things like that should happen to me, that Universal Myths and stuff should be channeled through me, dammit.
5. If you had to live in a fictional world, which would you pick? Why?
I do live in a fictional world!
If you mean someone else's fictions, though... I think I'd live in one of Tamora Pierce's worlds. (Have you read the "Lioness" books yet?) All the women in her universe have such positive attitudes, maybe some of that would rub off on me. The way magic works in her universe feels right, too; I'm pretty sure I'd have a little of the Gift if I was transported into her world, probably only enough to do minor healing and stuff, but that would be great.
And besides, I'd love to live in a universe where there's a badger god. (He appears in the "Immortals" quartet.)
(I was tempted to say one of Alan Garner's worlds, but I'm convinced we do live in those. They're stories that become true by the telling of them.)
Otherwise, probably the Chalet School; either while Joey & co. were still there, or while Len, Con and Margot were there. I like the gentleness, the slower pace, the caring atmosphere, the culture, the interest in learning but the constant reminders that human relationships are more important. It'd be fantastically useful growing up trilingual. I'd probably be one of the girls with Good Brains who doesn't try hard enough (and not a Beauty, but with an "interesting" or "characterful" face); I'd mess around playing silly tricks on people until some drastic personal near-tragedy made me Buckle Down and Work Hard, and as a result I'd grow into a more mature and rounded person, not having entirely lost my sense of fun but having learned to balance it with seriousness and responsibility.
I wish the world really worked like that.