Quote of the Night

A beautiful – and slightly painful to read – passage that I just found.

I remember that lovely passage in Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, after the death of her husband, John, where she realizes that when he looked at her, he saw all of her faces back to when she was young, not just the old face. There’s that layering of selves that we can have with someone else across a long relationship. [bold added]

2016 reading list, meet your new entry.

The quote is from an interview of poet and cultural critic Maggie Nelson, which I’ll soon read in its entirety (https://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/inflections-forever-new/).

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Women tab in The Guardian

I think that the UK Guardian is a socially progressive, well-intentioned if not always well-researched paper. In any case, I appreciate its worldwide coverage and aspirations and regularly follow a few of their writers.

However, there is one thing that rankles with me, every single visit. Why, in 2016, is the “Women” tab subsumed under the “Life and Style” page? Other than diminishing, the positioning is also inaccurate: the Women articles can and tend to be rather serious and polemic, if not outright political. What is the point of nestling it among food, relationship advice and makeup news? Oh wait… I’ve heard this before…”aw you’re so cute when you’re angry! Now go get your face on, it’s time for dinner”.

 

Creating

I love looking at this chart because in my view, it simply serves to reinforce the notion that we alone can know ourselves and, consequently, what is best for us. There is no one right way – to produce, to love, to live – but only our way.

(chart from the ever-superlative http://www.brainpickings.org)

Reading Russians

My reading list is currently dominated by the Russian authors of yore. It all started when I first read Anna Karenina about a year ago. I’d always thought it was an overdramatic tale of unrequited love… boy, was I wrong. I just could not put that book down. I lugged it with me everywhere I went, stealing a furtive read every second I got the chance – in the subway, queuing for the cash machine, anywhere – even a few pages would do. It had been the first time in years that a book enraptured me that way. I absolutely loved it – Tolstoy’s intricate characterization brought each figure so alive, which reminded me of the paradox that the more one expresses one’s most intimate thoughts, the more “universal” our experience becomes. It’s one of those books I can imagine reading and rereading again, and there will always be a new theme, a new image, a new reflection to be found. It’s more than a plot with colourful characters: because it speaks to the psyche, it’s a book about life itself. [You can imagine how sore I was when I found out that a girl I’d just met was reading it and her response to my gushing was a diplomatic grab to find something good to say, which was “yeh, yeh, the author is clever, I see what he’s doing”. I found a whole lot of post-(only post?)colonial self-centredness in this. The finding was not dispelled by the fact that when we visited a bookshop in an ex-colony, which was renowned for focusing on lit from that ex-colony, MsClever only browsed white Western authors. Honey, you can’t even pronounce “th” properly, and it’s one of the defining sounds of your language. But this will be the subject of another post.]

Right now, I’m almost halfway through Nikolaj Gogol’s “Dead Souls”. I decided to buy it because (a) he’s Russian (as much as I find national labels vacuous, for the above reasons it seems to be something of a guarantee for me lately) (b) walking home after a rejuvenating night out, I chanced upon a plaque commemorating the place where he wrote part of it (c) the name was intriguing. Solid reasons, eh? So I dug into it, expecting a dark tale of despair and depravity. Well, not the case so far. I’d say that the predominant tone is rather caustic sarcasm and cynicism, which sometimes take a downright hilarious turn. Yesterday I laughed out loud at a description of an heavily drunken party among men, whose conversations grew in a crescendo of absurdity; when the discussion turned to politics, “they effortlessly solved a multitude of intractable problems” thanks to the sweet nectar. Unfortunately, many English versions available online seem to be rather stuffy and omit this genius phrase. The power of a good translation!

That strange moment of timestopping enlightenment when you realize that you actually had no reason at all to feel inferior to a particular person and your glimpses of intuition were right.

I can’t help thinking of a friend from university whom I believed at the time to be supremely experienced in all things male – that she was gorgeous, fun, brilliant, outgoing and cool all contributed to this “authoritativeness”. So for some time I proceeded thinking that her attitude was the sound one, even though her relationship that I knew of, I’d classify as highly emotionally abusive today; even though turns out that her next guy was really depraved; and her criteria for “dreamboat” was satisfied by banter and a band… In other words I’d always felt that she was rather hedonistic in her tastes, but chalked that down to a lack of sophistication on my part. And then, this summer I had the most unexpected feeling when she came to visit. I felt like she wanted to confess that she looked up to me. If not always back then, then in retrospect. Nothing was expressly said, but we humans tend to speak with so much more than words alone… It was a real surprise, which on one hand gave me validation; but on the other, also regret – that I’d doubted myself, my feelings, my worth – and I wondered how much time I’d lost.

Which brings me to one of the points that I learned the hard way last summer of turmoil, that actually I’m still learning. We are the only ones who can set the rules by which we live. There simply is no other way. Call it instinct, inner voice, a divinity, but that “compass” truly is the only thing that can guide us – for it is only if we heed that that we can be free of doubt and remorse.

Tubbs

is the best neko by far

image

That shameless glutton even pats his belly. What can I say…

Laidback afternoons

Have had this song on loop for a while now… and not planning to stop 🙂