Tag Archives: literature

Breathing discoveries- Finding your place

21 Dec
Stormy Weather by Beatrice Baumgartner-Cohen, I own no rights.Source: artfinder.com

Stormy Weather by Beatrice Baumgartner-Cohen, I own no rights.
Source: artfinder.com

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”

J.R.R Tolkien – Lord Of The Rings

Where do you think we belong?

Have you found your place in this world?

Have you ever felt in love with too many places all at once,  felt like you are living in between? Squatting on the border of two countries, one leg on each side. Or two cities, or two houses, or two beds. Have you ever felt distance weighing you down wherever you are?

I met a woman in a plane once. She was young and lovely. She was from Rome, had lived four years in Bangkok, was travelling to Finland and was currently living in the UK. Next week, she said, I’m going to Ukraine.

Where would you say she was from? Does it even matter?

Do you think the feeling of belonging is definately bound to a place? Or is it just something abstract floating inside you? Is belonging just a synonym to feeling comfortable, or is it the feeling of total acceptance of everything inside you and around you? Do you think the only map to guide us can be found in our hearts? Is there even a map?

Do you think there is one set path for us to take or just little stepping stones scattered carelessly around, chances that just come our way? Is there a place for everyone?

 

Breathing discoveries

 

Leaving tearing on the seams

On the bark of my solid being

Uprooting my ankles

As I skip from a cherry branch to another

Always parched, always searching

Tugging on bonds, knitting barren lands together

Till they form a smooth rug of rain

Filling all the air, touching all the cheeks

Reminding us of the lively streams

Entwining all under us, swimming under the skin of life

Everywhere we go they follow, unexhausted

Uniting our wondering feet

Till in loneliness too we are together

Till we are breathing discoveries

Miracles shaped out of pulping springs

Till we find ourselves again and in ourselves

A strength to go further

A wisdom to halt home

Romantic Monday: Unravelling (and writer’s block, the devil)

12 Nov

It has been a bit quiet round here. As much as I would have loved to post, my self-criticism has stopped me from writing. During the weekend my worry-free expression seemed to turn itself into a nitty-gritty, grammar picking, nasty perfectionist troll whenever I tried to write.

I wrote a post which I then trashed. I wrote another one. That  one I published for an hour or so (progress)… and then trashed it too. Every blogger’s nightmare-pattern was emerging.

But now that my trash folder has been fully fed for a while, I told myself: This is not going to become a vicious cycle. Today I’m going to write.

Because today is a special day, today is another Romantic Monday. And no way am I going to let fear of failure and silly doubts spoil romance for me. That is a good advice for both writing and love, I guess.

So you’re going to get a poem today. And I also have a photo for you, to shoo away your writer’s blocks and console you if you too have been struggling and wordless:

Photocredit: southernfriedchildren.blogspot.com

So whether it is a blog, NaNoWriMo or a particularly vicious essay you’re working on, just write! Even if you’re scared, even if it all comes out as a waterfall of gibberish, don’t let it stop you.

You have potential. Don’t stop believing. (I’m sorry if you now have the Glee version of that song in your head.)

And now I’m going to practise what I preach. So here is for another Romantic Monday! Yikes, I hope you like it!

Unravelling

I do not know your lips

The tumbling currents of words

Flowing behind them, the wild winds

They have so boldly met or

The raw, pulsing secrets of life

They hold in hiding

Your lips are a mystery

And yet, I do not fear

Their uncertainty, their silence

And the painful erosion they can bring

I do not fear to trace all the seams

Of this frosty, fragile beginning

Simply because your lips, they exist

And they could be my shield

And their smile my jewel amulet

They leave me gushing

Like I had a jolting baby bird

Jailed inside my chest, still warm

From being born into its nest

Your lips unravel me

They invite me, they hold my breath

Call out my emotions

On a tight thread, on a journey

To become the pilgrims of your heart

And my laugh follows yours

It is a soft-sounding wind chime

So gently struck by your lips

Fooled into singing

This post is part of a beautiful Romantic Monday-craze, find out more about it here.

Happy Birthday Dracula!

8 Nov

Okay, I know that technically it is not Dracula’s birhday, but his creator’s. Actually do vampires even celebrate birthdays, they’re living dead after all right? (Does that mean they never get birthday cake? How sad, no wonder they want a bit of your warm blood. Or maybe all the vampire kiddos have black pudding for pudding on their birhday, who knows.)

But since I missed out on all the Halloween haunting in the blogworld, passing Bram Stoker’s birthday without a nod would have been a disgrace. I mean, this is the man who began the vampire craze, who gave inspiration to such things as Twilight… thank him for that or slap him, matters of taste are debatable.

Anyway, let’s get some guests to this birthday party. H.P Lovecraft should certainly be invited, his stuff is so scary even Stoker might turn in his grave in an attempt to escape. Shall we hear some of it?

 

If this didn’t get you scared enough, for extra chill factor someone can be positioned behind you and then attack you during the ending climax. (Thanks brother!)

There is a few reasons I have come to love Lovecraft. Firstly, his stories are different from the horror conventions of today that seem to penetrate especially some of the blockbusters; they are not gory, they’re not full of blood and guts and flying heads, they’re not spiced up with serial killing rampage. Instead, they can appear very pedantic at times, like the beginning of  The Rats In The Walls when you get the family history of the main character and all the dates. And yet, even if they’re full of detail, they still possess that ambiguity, that abstract feeling, that primal feeling of fear. And not only a fear towards what’s going on in the story, but a more vague fear, the fear of unknown dogging us. It is deliciously psychological, the details making his work scarily believable and realistic while the lack of rationality, the lack of any justification as why such monstrosities leap forward, stays with us long after we finish reading. It is this combination that makes the fear feel so real, that pulls you into the story, strangles you, as you feel it closing in on you claustrophobically.

Another reason I love Lovecraft is the love he has for his craft.

Sorry I just had to, the guy has a funny name. But it is true;  I admire how he manages to capture emotions with his writing. When I read and write, I’m always interested in the lexical choices because I would like to find a way to not only describe emotions, but to relate them, in all their essence and abstract qualities. Anyone who has felt something big, something all-encompassing and overwhelming inside them knows that it can be really hard to find words for that something. How do we convey all the tiny nuances we feel? How do make sure that when we’re writing them down, we are not doing just that: writing them down, reducing them, shrinking them? How do you find fitting words?

We have all struggled with these questions, whether it is because we love to write or because we’ve been in a perplexing social situation. Or because we have experienced something massive, something so very unexplainable, like the loss of a loved one or the finding of one. Something that makes us wonder the hows and whys of this world. So, if emotions are individuals, how do we find a way to convey them to a greater audience?

Lovecraft seemed to know how.  When I read his work I find myself asking: How, how does he make these emotions, these scary visions so real to us? So tangible, so breathing?

Perhaps because they were so very real to him. He had first hand experience from his night terrors.  And who is to say that the things he witnessed are not as real as the sun on the sky and the ground under our feet? Isn’t perception as debatable as taste?  There is more… Is there more?

Listen to ( or read if you prefer) From Beyond and decide.

“What do we know,” he had said, “of the world and the universe about us? Our means of receiving impressions are absurdly few, and our notions of surrounding objects infinitely narrow. We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the
boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the senses we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break dawn the barriers.”

 

 

And now, your turn, who else should be invited to this birthday party and why? Whose writing do you admire?

Nietzsche vs. Winnie The Pooh

4 Nov

Today I want to give you the thoughts of these two great philosophers. (It is an odd combination maybe, but don’t you just sometimes love to be a bit weird?)

I think all they have to say on life is better than my ramblings would be today, considering I just had to remind myself how to spell the former by Google searching his name. I’ve had exhausting but amazing week, and now all my brain wants to do is hibernate. So I’ll let you, Mr Nietzche and Pooh do the thinking.  What do you say then, should we see them battle (or shake hands) with their opinions?

Nietzche teaches: Insanity is only our perception. Pooh teaches how to perceive even chaos as positive.

(So if you feel weird, don’t worry, you might be genius. And if you’re the one who always loses their keys and their way, celebrate the fact that for you, there is lot more to be found in life!)

 

Nietzche wants to remind you to remember the purpose behind your actions, Winnie the Pooh wants you to remember there is no boundaries to your actions:

 

And just to spice it up a little, to love or not to love eternally, that is their question:

Background image: “Hope” Artwork by Banksy

 

So who is it for you today, Nietzsche or Pooh? Or does neither suit your thoughts, and if so then I’m curious to know, who does it better?

The Real Hunger Games

22 Oct

For anyone who has access to cinema, internet and books probably recognises what this is about:

Peeta and Catnip. The last survivors of the hunger games, a book which is essentially about kids in a ring running and killing for their lives. They need food. They need to survive, whatever it takes. Some might think it mindless, but I don’t think this subject should be censored, in fact I think the opposite. I love books that cause an outrage when they have effectively managed to poke at the sore spot in our society, to point out something that needs discussing and improvement.

Except these books don’t do that. So it is indeed pretty mindless. They became a massive hit, as did the film, and yet it barely ponders over the questions the plot should raise, such as killing to survive, the value of your life against someone else’s or dealing out death. No, it became a massive hit because the two main characters fall in love. And then there is the jealous third wheel. Wait, why does this have a familiar ring in the history of love stories?

Indeed, the focus of the book seemed to be the gorgeous eyelashes of Peeta, the heart-breaker, and the dazzling outfits of the kids. But if you wanted to read about love drama and clothes you could just buy The Sun, magasine with a reading age of seven, costing you only a quid and the loss of few brain cells. I actually thought the book might ponder over and criticise living in a society where killing has turned into entertainment.

Then there’s the added bonus of the name. The Hunger Games. But the polished faces above are not what should be associated with the word ‘hunger’. The real hunger games are fought elsewhere. In India. In Africa. In Asia. In many sad parts of the world. This is what real hunger games look like:

https://i0.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/bathing_poverty.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/poor_girl_lost.png

https://i2.wp.com/flairpix.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/poverty_starving_kids.jpg

They need food. They need to survive. And there are millions of them. It is not fiction, not some romaticised love story carelessly spiced up with death. It is real, real death and suffering. Looking at the above photos might have hurt your eyes, made you gulp down sadness, it did me. It’s hard to face. But think about what it does to the people experiencing starvation, how it hurts them, how they have to face the possibility of life leaving their body, slowly.

I will try to help, more than I have done so far. If I don’t know how, I will find out. I will appreciate what I have. I will hope and pray and beg that these hunger games end, for forever.

What about you? Or the question should actually be,

what about them?

870 million people do not have enough to eat  and 98 percent of them live in developing countries.     (Source: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3027e/i3027e02.pdf 2012

Undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries. ( Source: UNICEF 2012)

The photos from: http://flairpix.com/41-heartbreakingly-beautiful-poverty-pictures/

What makes a good book?

20 Oct

I think there are as many definitions for this as there are readers… and writers:

I agree with Oscar Wilde above. I think a good book is one that changes with you, not one that you grow out of. One of these for me has definately been the Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupéry. As a child I enjoyed the mystery of the Prince, the boas and wild planets and Bonsai trees and definately chuckled at the mockery of adults, and now that I’m older I notice: I still enjoy all of the above, and can never get enough of the wisdom behind them.

Maybe a good book, then, isn’t one that just changes with you but also one that changes within you. One that gives you lines which you can twist into new thoughts in your head, endlessly, and into new stories. Maybe the best stories are the ones that don’t finish when we finish the book but live on, to be finished by us in our own time.

But I also think that, while there are those books that we return to over and over again, sometimes what defines a good book is simply giving it a second chance. I know there are many who would beg to disagree with this, arguing that good writing makes the book good straight away, on the first read. But I think that, above all, what makes a good book is that the good writing doesn’t just sit there, between the covers, but that it is experienced. That it reaches the reader. Or more crucially, that the reader reaches for the writing themselves.

I realised this recently while I was waiting on some books I had asked to be ordered in to our library. Impatient, I grabbed few books from my shelf that I had already read but weirdly, not properly formed an opinion about. They were The Great Gatsby and The Bell Jar.  Both of them had remained totally ambiguous in my head the first time round, but now that I picked them up the second time they transformed from sort of good into amazing. But the books hadn’t changed, the dots hadn’t danced around and the words hadn’t been swopped while they rested on my bookshelf. I had changed, as a reader.

So I think, what is needed to make a good book is both a devoted writer and an open-minded reader.

And an advice I have found helpful, when I’m struggling to write because my heavy expectations on myself weigh me down, is this: To write something good, you first have to write something.

What do you think makes a good book? What books do you think are good or even, the best?

Kafka and observations on observation

18 Oct

What is the last time you observed yourself as passionately and sharply as the narrator observes the girl in the above piece? What is the last time you focused on yourself with the same vigour that we often focus on others, comparing ourselves to people around us, pondering over someone’s thoughts or appearance.

Why does the narrator above become so transfixed upon this girl, this fellow passenger?

Is it because she simply is so mesmerising, in which case, the moment should be cherished. To fall in love fast and several times a day is not a weakness but a sign that you are alive and feeling.

Or is it because, by focusing on someone else, it becomes easier to push aside the confusion the narrator feels in himself? Is it escapism? Does the narrator forget for one blissful moment the feeling of being lost in life by getting lost in this girl’s chestnut hair and dark complexion?

I believe that looking at someone, observing someone, is a bit like checking our appearance in the mirror. Often we praise in others qualities we would long to have ouselves, or we walk around disliking someone and picking on their shabby clothes and funny intonation because we are, ourselves, scared to open our mouth or put on our itchy, old jumpers.

We can find in others the traits we value in ourselves or the dark pits of our mind that we run from.

And it is easy to construct grand lists of various reasons in our heads, contemplating why someone is worse or better off than we are. But the question we need to ask ourselves is this: Are those lists actually productive? Do they help us to make a change or should we seek this change by turning our focus to ourselves?

I dare you to do it, right now, to sacrifice a moment just for yourself, no matter how busy you are. To observe the little hills of muscles on your skin and your beautiful, powdery blue blood vessels shining under your skin, your feet and twitching toes carrying you through the day. The shades of light hitting your hair and bouncing off, the changing expressions on your face, the smoothness or raspiness of your skin, the curve of your lip.

Observe yourself with the same wonderment present in The Passenger, look at yourself and say:

I am an amazing living thing.

Give yourself as much praise as you give others, and as much honesty. Hand out smiles to your mirror image as generously as you do to your best friends upon long-waited reunion.  Look at yourself and say:

Thanks for being there every night I go to bed. You’re the one who I always come back to.

Because you might feel envious or in awe when you look at others. You might beat yourself down with your comparisons.  But is your dwelling on them going to change things for you?

Focus on yourself. Work on happiness from inwards. Because at the end of the day, you are the only person you have to have a relationship with for the rest of your life. So make it a good one.