solitary_summer: (winterabend)
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Ocean. Provided it's a moderately nice bit of ocean... A beach and mild climate at least part of the year would be nice, but are not required. Maybe it's because my parents didn't hold with the classical lazy beach holiday and the first time I actually saw the sea was when I was twelve or thereabout, when we were on holiday in London and took a day trip to the coast, I can't even remember where. (Clacton-on-sea. I think.) The first time I swam in the sea was when I was eighteen, in Crete, on our Maturareise. There's just something very zen about the sea, in a way it's almost a symbol of infinity, enough to suggest the real thing, which we can't really grasp anyway. And this is also where I always drag out a quote from Th. Mann's Buddenbrooks: Was für Menschen es wohl sind, die der Monotonie des Meeres den Vorzug geben? Mir scheint, es sind solche, die zu lange und tief in die Verwicklungen der innerlichen Dinge hineingesehen haben, um nicht wenigstens von den äußeren vor Allem Eins verlangen zu müssen: Einfachheit...

I'd love a house near the sea. Which of course isn't going to happen in this lifetime, unless I'm winning the lottery, which is unlikely (well, more unlikely), since I almost never play.



In other news, shitty day was shitty.

I'm not the most conflict-happy person in the world, but once I'm riled, I don't mind an argument getting a bit loud and/or passionate. What I hate, hate, hate is this passive aggressive crap where you're being talked down to like a mentally defective five year old and the person who does it believes they somehow have the moral high-ground because you're losing your temper and they remain 'calm'. I came *so* close to grabbing my coat and bag and just walking out today, but of course I can't, mustn't, especially not now, and then I almost started kicking things.


Yesterday's entry made me come across like a grumpy misanthropic alcoholic-in-the-making who should expect visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, future & possibly alternate realities in a couple of weeks; does this one make me look like an unbalanced creep? I'm kind of starting to expect defriending...

solitary_summer: (emu)
Brainless update.

Buffy 2.09/10 and that... thing with the things is the grossest and most disgusting thing I've ever not seen (or heard, because I was screwing my eyes shut and stuck my fingers in my ears) on TV DVD, and hello, phobia. Also, the early Buffy/Angel is a bit boring when you already know where it's headed, and too much of man, woman, on screen = love story, very little work necessary. Or maybe it's that I don't really like Angel very much. In a nutshell, I prefer Spike's brand of stalkery creepiness to Angelus' sociopathic nastiness, and there's always too much of Angelus in Angel, too close to the surface, and he knows it. Spike retained more humanity, even as a vampire, Angelus pushes all my wrong buttons.


Pretty much decided I'll skip Russian class tomorrow. I stupidly agreed on Tuesday instead of today, but I've got a sore throat again and I'm too tired and braindead to even do my homework, I can't do eight hours of work, followed by Russian class, followed by belly-dancing class, home at 10, it's the last before Christmas, I'm planning to study a lot over the holidays, I'm better than anyone else anyway, and who the hell am I justifying myself to? Myself, I guess.

~


Loosely connected to yesterday's entry; also in a bit of a note-to-self sense...

Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.

(F. Dostojewskij, Notes from the Underground.)


solitary_summer: (Default)
Meine Mutter und ich hatten keine Sprache miteinander. Die ihrige dient nicht dem Gedankenaustauch, sondern der Manipulation. Meine Mutter ist nicht identisch mit ihrer Sprache, war es nie, ihre Sprache ist wie die Garderobe der Schauspieler, sie sucht sich aus, was gerade in ihre jeweilige Rolle paßt. Sie verwendet die Wörter wie Schminke. Die lassen sich das nicht gefallen, und in ihrer Tücke verschmieren sie ihr die Gedanken.

(Ruth Klüger, weiter leben)



And that is essentially what bothered me about the NLP blather they tried to teach us us at the last sales training seminar we were forced to suffer through. Now personally I'm a really bad liar, unless I have enough time to prepare beforehand, and sometimes wish I were a better one, because I don't actually think a lie is the worst thing in the world - often harmless enough and sometimes less painful than the truth, unless you actually start building something important based on lies -, but what I do believe is that you need to be as clear as possible in the space of your own head about whether you're lying or telling the truth. Human perception is faulty enough as it is, and the brain a strange and confusing place; we often lie to ourselves (and others) without even knowing. (If you need proof of that, try to work in retail sometimes and persuade a customer that you never actually sold the product they're convinced they've seen in your store. These people are not stupid, or crazy, or lying. They simply misremember, and they're completely certain they're right. They're not all that rare, either. Sometimes I wonder how judges do their work.) Our, or at least most people's, thoughts will always be muddled with comparatively few moments of clarity, so in my opinion the last thing one should do is consciously try to blur and obfuscate even more and add to the muddle. And precision in language is important, because language and thoughts are so closely linked that they always influence each other; maybe can't exist without the other.

solitary_summer: (Default)
Another quote from RTD's book —

To be honest, I have trouble with 'escapism' full stop. It's usually a derogatory term. Or condescending. At best, cute. [...] It makes the pastime, whether it's a hobby or a job, seem tiny and silly, when it's a vital part of your life. [...] Writing is actually my way of engaging with the world, not escaping from it.


Now admittedly unlike him I'm not making a living out of my (not-)escapism, so maybe I have something less of an argument there, but I do agree with this on several levels.

Reality (or not), art, writing; TV, storytelling and metaphysics; Andromeda, Smallville, Firefly and Bush-ite America. Broadly generalising and meandering without really going anywhere. )


Also... The Surinam toad and its reproductive habits. The things you learn on the internetz...
.
.
.
.
.
Half an hour later. Um. Note to self. Don't start watching animal videos on YouTube.

solitary_summer: (kamiile s/w)
First snow. Last family birthday before Christmas, my father's. Spent yesterday evening making another Schwarzwälderkirschtorte. (Incidentally, six months today until my next birthday; half a year gone already, *sigh*.) R. called in the afternoon, sounding quite desperate, she wants/needs to return the second cat she adopted since he doesn't get along with the first cat, or just doesn't get along full stop, and could I drive her/them there tomorrow? G. wants an article proof-read. My mother is a saint and fixes the belt of my belly dancing costume. Stress. My bike has a flat tyre and I've no idea when to bring it to the shop whose opening hours coincide with my own work hours. More stress.

~


On a completely unrelated note, reading Ruth Klüger's weiter leben I came across the following passage:

Ich bestehe auf diesen Unterscheidungen, riskiere bewußt, wenn auch ungern, die Leserin (wer rechnet schon mit männlichen Lesern? Die lesen nur von anderen Männern Geschriebenes) durch Belehrungen, die noch dazu teils von Laienpsychologie abhängig sind, zu irritieren oder gar zu brüskieren [...]

(emphasis mine; roughly translates as 'Who's counting on male readers? They only read things written by other men.')


How much of a hyperbole is that? Or is it a hyperbole at all? Truer in 1992 and before than today? On the whole it doesn't seem so very farfetched to me, because it took me a while to notice my own deeply ingrained misogynistic streak that made me almost automatically pick books written by male writers or the works of male artists. That changed to an extent over time, but it really was fandom that made me aware that the male perspective isn't necessarily... the neutral state, the default, the norm. A longish while ago I wrote an jl entry wondering whether men identify with female characters in novels as easily as female readers, or at least female readers of my generation and older who were brought up on the classics, identify with male characters. Admittedly it's probably not a universal experience; my (ex-)therapist didn't really understand when I tried to explain that, and the thought clearly hadn't occurred to her before, but I'm not completely alone either since I distinctly remember reading someone's lj-entry describing much the same thing; maybe people in slash fandom are more likely to notice and talk about these gender related issues? (My sister, when I asked her, said that in her experience men just didn't read a lot of novels. Now, is that true?)

solitary_summer: (Default)
My life isn't a rehearsal. It's a live show. I accept responsibility for my actions, good, bad, mistakes and all, and I go forward. Life's too short to feel guilty about things I should have done or would have done or could have done if only... so no regrets.

- John Barrowman, 2008 -

solitary_summer: (Default)
[Should have been on [livejournal.com profile] pixelwhores yesterday, which I'm shamefully neglecting, since my workdays are so boring and full of sameness, but at least I'm not the only one... -- anyway. Fell asleep before I could download and post it. Long day - got a haircut, turned in my old modem and got a new one because the provider is switching, plugged it in and discovered that to my surprise it actually worked without further problems and endless phone conversations with the help-line, shopped for groceries, had lunch, biked to the Gänsehäufel, swam (water was cool after last week, but refreshing), took pictures of my aunt in her 100+ years old bathing costume, swam, biked home, had a bit of dinner, more or less dropped down asleep.]







Temperatures have gone up to 35+ degrees today, and will remain there for the whole next week (::groan::), so I hid inside, blinds drawn to retain the coolness as long as possible, doing a bit of belly-dancing practice and reading Doctor Shiwago, an odd and beautiful beautiful novel, abrupt, almost brusque at times, with surprising outbursts of poetry, especially in the descriptions. Still insanely tired; I blame the weather.


Die Fenster dieser Etage füllten sich vom Tag der Wintersonnenwende an überreichlich mit hellblauem Himmel, wie ein Fluss mit Hochwasser.


How beautiful is that?


solitary_summer: (Default)
Because [livejournal.com profile] soavezefiretto made me think about my photography-killed-writing dilemma.



"Do you agree?" asked Margaret. "Do you think music is so different to pictures?"

"I--I should have thought so, kind of," he said.

"So should I. Now, my sister declares they're just the same. We have great arguments over it. She says I'm dense; I say she's sloppy." Getting under way, she cried: "Now, doesn't it seem absurd to you? What is the good of the Arts if they are interchangeable? What is the good of the ear if it tells you the same as the eye? Helen's one aim is to translate tunes into the language of painting, and pictures into the language of music. It's very ingenious, and she says several pretty things in the process, but what's gained, I'd like to know? Oh, it's all rubbish, radically false. If Monet's really Debussy, and Debussy's really Monet, neither gentleman is worth his salt--that's my opinion."


[E.M.Forster, Howard's End]



True or false, even when I read the novel for the first time some fifteen or more years ago, without much thought I instinctively knew I agreed with Margaret here. I don't really translate from one medium to another in my mind, either; I even slowly ceased immediately analysing any work of art I looked at, movie I saw or book I read once I'd ditched my ph.d. aspirations and academia, and found it actually liberated me and widened my horizon when I didn't feel obliged to file everything in neat categories, or even find words and descriptions for everything. I'm probably being unfair, because in all likelihood the fault was mine, not having the right words at my disposal, or enough of them, not enough intelligence or imagination to make them suit my own needs. (Then again, it was a brilliant writer who played devil's advocate here: "Was aber das >Wort< betrifft, so handelt es sich da vielleicht weniger um eine Erlösung als um ein Kaltstellen und Aufs-Eis-Legen der Empfindung? Im Ernst, es hat eine eisige und empörend anmaßliche Bewandtnis mit dieser prompten und oberflächlichen Erledigung des Gefühls durch die literarische Sprache." )

Writing and photography, even in the context of livejournal, are two very separate things for me; not because of some profound, deeply thought about principle, perhaps (and more likely) it's just lack of imagination: my mind works in very direct, literal ways most of the time. My pictures don't replace what I might have expressed in words otherwise. It's an entirely different way of thinking, of feeling, of looking at the world when I'm out with my camera. And at the moment, It's the more satisfying, easier one for me, the one that comes more natural, in a way. But it has reminded me to write more, too; to look at the world not only through a camera, because that's limiting myself, too. Different modes of expression are a good thing.




On a somewhat related note - I remember sitting on [livejournal.com profile] soavezefiretto's balcony last May and watching the swallows swoop in the evening sky and over the roof of the house across the street, and I thought how wonderful, how exotic, and how there weren't any swallows in Vienna. Yesterday, waiting for the bus home after a four hour walk-with-camera I happened to look up, and there they were. Not as many, but certainly swallows, in the sky above central Vienna. How have I missed them until now? Chalk it up to living on the first floor?


(Also, flight to Madrid for August booked! whee!)


solitary_summer: (Default)

"I don't hate Aunt Emily. Honestly. But certainly I don't want to be near her or think about her. Don't you think there are two great things in life that we ought to aim at -- truth and kindness? Let's have both if we can, but let's be sure of having one or the other. My aunt gives up both for the sake of being funny."

(The Longest Journey)


The armour of falsehood is subtly wrought out of darkness, and hides a man not only from others, but from his own soul.

(A Room With A View)
solitary_summer: (schlosser: 3 poppies)


Helen sighed. She seemed humiliated, and buried her face in her hands. After a time she said: "Above love," a transition less abrupt than it appeared.

Margaret never stopped working.

"I mean a woman's love for a man. I supposed I should hang my life on to that once, and was driven up and down and about as if something was worrying through me. But everything is peaceful now; I seem cured. That Herr Forstmeister, whom Frieda keeps writing about, must be a noble character, but he doesn't see that I shall never marry him or anyone. It isn't shame or mistrust of myself. I simply couldn't. I'm ended. I used to be so dreamy about a man's love as a girl, and think that for good or evil love must be the great thing. But it hasn't been; it has been itself a dream. Do you agree?"

"I do not agree. I do not."

"I ought to remember Leonard as my lover," said Helen, stepping down into the field. "I tempted him, and killed him and it is surely the least I can do. I would like to throw out all my heart to Leonard on such an afternoon as this. But I cannot. It is no good pretending. I am forgetting him." Her eyes filled with tears. "How nothing seems to match--how, my darling, my precious--" She broke off. "Tommy!"

"Yes, please?"

"Baby's not to try and stand.--There's something wanting in me. I see you loving Henry, and understanding him better daily, and I know that death wouldn't part you in the least. But I--Is it some awful appalling, criminal defect?"

Margaret silenced her. She said: "It is only that people are far more different than is pretended. All over the world men and women are worrying because they cannot develop as they are supposed to develop. Here and there they have the matter out, and it comforts them. Don't fret yourself, Helen. Develop what you have; love your child. I do not love children. I am thankful to have none. I can play with their beauty and charm, but that is all--nothing real, not one scrap of what there ought to be. And others--others go farther still, and move outside humanity altogether. A place, as well as a person, may catch the glow. Don't you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences--eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be colour; sorrow perhaps, but colour in the daily grey. Then I can't have you worrying about Leonard. Don't drag in the personal when it will not come. Forget him."


[E.M.Forster, Howard's End]



Do I agree? And with whom?

solitary_summer: (skipper (© clive barker))



The spiral is an attempt at controlling the chaos. It has two directions. Where do you place yourself, at the periphery or at the vortex? Beginning at the outside is the fear of losing control; the winding in is a tightening, a retreating, a compacting to the point of disappearance. Beginning at the centre is affirmation, the move outward is a representation of giving, and giving up control; of trust, positive energy, of life itself.



Friends should drag me to exhibitions more often. Ironically, R. ended up not really liking Bourgeois's work, but I was intrigued. I can't verbalise it -I don't even have the vocabulary to intelligently talk about modern art - I won't pretend to understand it in the sense that I informed myself about the artist's intentions and aims, the deeper meaning of her work, &c. but something about it spoke to me, seemed somehow compellingly familiar, the older drawings as well as the more recent fabric pictures. Something I'd feel comfortable having around at home, if I had a home suitable to put up this kind of art, or the money to buy it with; which I don't think I've ever felt about any contemporary artist.

An oblong picture with black waves, that, despite the title 'landscape', resembled nothing so much as a turbulent sea, stretching from the lower left corner to the middle of the right side, black fabric, the structure and depth indicated by very exact parallel stitched lines, the remaining upper two thirds of the canvas painted a uniform light blue. The contrast between the dark, intricately patterned mass, beautiful, but confusing, almost oppressive and the clear, light sky was almost... transcendent?

solitary_summer: (melancholy (© clive barker))


Dann ist nichts mehr, - Schweigen und Nacht. Aber der nachschwingend im Schweigen hängende Ton, der nicht mehr ist, dem nur die Seele noch nachlauscht, und der Ausklang der Trauer war, ist es nicht mehr, wandelt den Sinn, steht als ein Licht in der Nacht.


Nie hatte ich stärker den Vorteil der Musik, die nichts und alles sagt, vor der Eindeutigkeit des Wortes empfunden, ja, die schützende Unverbindlichkeit der Kunst überhaupt, im Vergleich mit der bloßstellenden Krudheit des unübertragenen Geständnisses. Dieses aber zu unterbrechen ging mir nicht nur gegen die Ehrfurcht, sondern es verlangte mich auch aus ganzer Seele, zu hören, mochten auch unter denen, die mit mir hörten, nur ganz wenige sein, die es wert waren. Haltet nur aus und hört, sprach ich im Geist zu den anderen, da er euch nun einmal alle als seine Mitmenschen geladen hat!


Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus

solitary_summer: (Default)

You don't fall in love by chance / You choose.

(Pet Shop Boys, You Choose)



That's one scary, scary line, all the more so because I rather suspect there's a lot of truth in it.

solitary_summer: (nymph (© clive barker))

Ich weiß, daß du es nicht darauf absiehst, mir Grausamkeiten zu sagen. Aber findest du es nicht grausam, mich wissen zu lassen, daß ich nur aus Unmenschlicheit bin was ich bin, und daß Menschlichkeit mir nicht zusteht? Grausam und gedankenlos, - wie ja Grausamkeit immer aus Gedankenlosigkeit kommt? Daß ich mit Menschlichkeit nichts zu tun habe, nichts zu tun haben darf, sagt mir einer, der mich mit staunenswerter Geduld fürs Menschliche gewann und mich zum Du bekehrte, einer, bei dem ich zum erstenmal in meinem Leben menschliche Wärme fand. [...]

In meinem Leben war einer, dessen beherztes Ausharren - man kann beinahe sagen: dan Tod überwand; der das Menschliche in mir frei machte, mich das Glück lehrte. Man wird vielleicht nichts davon wissen, es in keiner Biographie schreiben. Aber würde das seinem Verdienst Abbruch tun, die ehre schmälern, die ihm insgeheim gebührt?



Read this passage yesterday before going to sleep and it made me sad almost to the point of - well not tears exactly, but constricted throat and slight sniffling... for the context, the character, the author, myself.

I should re-read books more often.
solitary_summer: (yebba (© clive barker))

Boring week... work, work, horse-sitting, more work (R. being on holiday), some tv watching, attempts at writing.

I've been reading Fontane's Effi Briest and I'm still in two minds about it... For the greatest part I thought it was a very well-written, well intentioned, if by nature of its subject-matter necessarily somewhat dated, novel, but I could never really connect to the characters or their dilemma, or indeed like any of them much. Effi.... her tomboyishness, honesty and love for freedom should make her likable, but at the same time I rather disliked her unreflected romanticism and ambitiousness, her general lack of introspection and the fact that almost until the end (and then only in the rejection of life) she never develops a real character, but echoes others' opinions and expectations. And yet it's impossible to 'blame' her for any of this (insofar as it makes any sense to 'blame' a character who, after all, is the author's vehicle to convey his message, but for the sake of the argument...), because of her extreme youth, her position and education or perhaps rather lack of the latter. But even understanding Effi's motivation for keeping the letters (not love for Crampas, rather a sense of obligation to retain a reminder of her fear of being found out in the place of a guilt she doesn't feel) one still can't but agree with Frau Zwicker's exasperated "Wozu gibt es Öfen und Kamine?". Her parents... Freud or no, at what time did it ever seem a good idea to marry the daughter to the man who used to be in love with the mother? (And it's quite obvious that Effi's mother would have fit Instetten so much better, just as Effi, if not for the pride and ambition instilled in her character and her second-hand opinions about what women want, would have been so much happier with her cousin.) But then of course it is the aim of the novel to show how utterly impossible it is for any of the characters to break through the norms of convention and upbringing, even when they actually recognise them as meaningless or even harmful to themselves and others, so complaining about how they could have acted more reasonable and actually ended up moderately happy is pointless to the extreme...


Doubtlessly Effi is the victim here, but my sympathies perhaps lie more with Instetten, who ruins three lives, not because he wants to, not because he's convinced it's the right thing to do, but because he doesn't see any other way, fully conscious of what he's doing and what the consequences will be, and it breaks my heart more than Effi's suffering.


Only towards the end, the last twenty or thirty pages, the book started to really grip me, because then it transcends the plot of infidelity, honour, duels and divorce, or even the discrepancy between genuine feelings and society's expectations and the hypocricy stemming from this, but becomes a more general reflection about life and happiness.

And I'll admit the end almost made me, well, not cry exactly, but sniff a little. Not even Effi's death, particularly, but the way that it ends for both of them, two lives destroyed in their own ways, and one almost wonders which of them is better off... In its quiet, undramatic way it's the most depressing thing I've read in a long while.


»Unmöglich? Warum? Und wenn unmöglich, was dann?«

»Einfach hierbleiben und Resignation üben. Wer ist denn unbedrückt? Wer sagte nicht jeden Tag: 'Eigentlich eine sehr fragwürdige Geschichte.' Sie wissen, ich habe auch mein Päckchen zu tragen, nicht gerade das Ihrige, aber nicht viel leichter. Es ist Torheit mit dem Im-Urwald-Umherkriechen oder In-einem-Termitenhügel-Nächtigen; wer's mag, der mag es, aber für unserem ist es nichts. In der Bresche stehen und aushalten, bis man fällt, das ist das beste. Vorher aber im kleinen und kleinsten so viel herausschlagen wie möglich und ein Auge dafür haben, wenn die Veilchen blühen oder das Luisendenkmal in Blumen steht oder die kleinen Mädchen mit hohen Schnürstiefeln über die Korde springen. Oder auch wohl nach Potsdam fahren und in die Friedenskirche gehen, wo Kaiser Friedrich liegt und wo sie jetzt eben anfangen, ihm ein Grabhaus zu bauen. Und wenn Sie da stehen, dann überlegen Sie sich das Leben von dem, und wenn Sie dann nicht beruhigt sind, dann ist Ihnen freilich nicht zu helfen.«

»Gut, gut. Aber das Jahr ist lang, und jeder einzelne Tag ... und dann der Abend.«

»Mit dem ist immer noch am ehesten fertig zu werden. Da haben wir 'Sardanapal' oder 'Coppelia' mit der del Era, und wenn es damit aus ist, dann haben wir Siechen. Nicht zu verachten. Drei Seidel beruhigen jedesmal. Es gibt immer noch viele, sehr viele, die zu der ganzen Sache nicht anders stehen wie wir, und einer, dem auch viel verquer gegangen war, sagte mir mal: 'Glauben Sie mir, Wüllersdorf, es geht überhaupt nicht ohne 'Hilfskonstruktionen'.' Der das sagte, war ein Baumeister und mußte es also wissen. Und er hatte recht mit seinem Satz. Es vergeht kein Tag, der mich nicht an die 'Hilfskonstruktionen' gemahnte.«

* * *


»Bist du so ruhig über Sterben, liebe Effi?«

»Ganz ruhig, Mama.«

»Täuschst du dich darin nicht? Alles hängt am Leben und die Jugend erst recht. Und du bist noch so jung, liebe Effi.«

Effi schwieg eine Weile. Dann sagte sie: »Du weißt, ich habe nicht viel gelesen, und Innstetten wunderte sich oft darüber, und es war ihm nicht recht.«

Es war das erste Mal, daß sie Innstettens Namen nannte, was einen großen Eindruck auf die Mama machte und dieser klar zeigte, daß es zu Ende sei.

»Aber ich glaube«, nahm Frau von Briest das Wort, »du wolltest mir was erzählen.«

»Ja, das wollte ich, weil du davon sprachst, ich sei noch so jung. Freilich bin ich noch jung. Aber das schadet nichts. Es war noch in glücklichen Tagen, da las mir Innstetten abends vor; er hatte sehr viele Bücher, und in einem hieß es: Es sei wer von einer fröhlichen Tafel abgerufen worden, und am anderen Tag habe der Abgerufene gefragt, wie's denn nachher gewesen sei. Da habe man ihm geantwortet: 'Ach, es war noch allerlei; aber eigentlich haben Sie nichts versäumt.' Sieh, Mama, diese Worte haben sich mir eingeprägt - es hat nicht viel zu bedeuten, wenn man von der Tafel etwas früher abgerufen wird.«
solitary_summer: (Default)


My attention span is all but non-existent these days. Pathetic.

During my one and a half week holiday I read... )

During the three weeks since I'm back I made my slow, slow way through The Wine-Dark Sea, half of The Commodore and the greater part of H.Heer's Vom Verschwinden der Täter, the last of which I read mostly at work.

Am now fiftysomething pages into Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I like so far, although after seventeen volumes of O'Brian I'm fairly yearning for something more modern than the Napoleonic age...

A.Oz's Eine Geschichte von Liebe und Finsternis is still lying around untouched, although I found the first few pages intriguing. Same with Yann Martel's Schiffbruch mit Tiger. And so on, and so on.

I just can't seem to focus at all, most of the time.

Instead, too much tv watchage, and is that even a word? )

solitary_summer: (25 (© clive barker))

We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment,
We are Choosing to be here right now. Hold on, stay inside...
This holy reality, this holy experience. Choosing to be here in...

This body. This body holding me. Be my reminder here that I am not alone in
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal all this pain is an illusion.

Alive

This holy reality, in this holy experience. Choosing to be here in...

This body. This body holding me. Be my reminder here that I am not alone in
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal all this pain is an illusion...
Of what it means to be alive

Swirling round with this familiar parable.
Spinning, weaving round each new experience.
Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this
chance to be alive and breathing
chance to be alive and breathing.

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality.
Embrace this moment. Remember. we are eternal.
all this pain is an illusion.


solitary_summer: (letheo (© clive barker))

Someone tell me I don't have to work tomorrow. Pretty please? Where did the weekend go so fast...


A propos the last entry: It's funny how the memory/subconsciousness stows away things and brings them up again, neatly by-passing the conscious mind:

The deeper they ventured the more it seemed he was treading not among the echoes of the world, but in the world itself, his soul a thread of bliss passing into its mysteries.

He lay with a pack of panting dogs on a hill overlooking plains where antelope grazed. He marched with ants, and laboured in the rigours of the nest, filing eggs. He danced the mating dance of the bower bird, and slept on a warm rock with his lizard kin. He was a cloud. He was the shadow of a cloud. He was the moon that cast the shadow of a cloud. He was a blind fish; he was a shoal; he was a whale; he was the sea. He was the lord of all he surveyed. He was a worm in the dung of a kite. He did not grieve, knowing his life was a day long, or an hour. He did not wonder who made him. He did not wish to be other. He did not pray. He did not hope. He only was, and was, and was, and that was the joy of it.

[from Clive Barker, Sacrament]
solitary_summer: (Default)

Tired. Christmas is already beginning to make itself felt... But so far it's still all good, I like having something to do, to have accomplished something at the end of the day - it's preferable to standing around being bored; and M. and I have worked out our little differences for the moment. Though one could wish K. wouldn't have chosen this particular time of the year for having a break-down of sorts...


Finished The Fortune of War, started The Surgeon's Mate & for the first time feel that I might eventually need a break. It's not that I'm getting bored or that the books are getting worse further into the series, but with their peculiar pacing and emphasis on characterisation and style rather than plot they begin to blur into each other a little already in my mind...

What still fascinates me, though, are all those tiny touches and subtle shifts of mood, the alteration and/or combination of a light ironic style (perhaps more prevalent in the earlier volumes) with deadly seriousness and deep emotions, the one setting off the other to the best advantage, never incongruous; how you have to pay such close attention to the tone of voice, the turn of a phrase. The details, the prose, the descriptions and characterisations are what makes these novels so enjoyable.

Occasionally though, part of me can't help wishing he would be just a little more... conventional maybe. Characters introduced and built up only to be randomly killed off when one has come to expect to see more of them... true to life, occasionally slightly exasperating in fiction.


The Fortune of War is another of those unstructured rambling novels, starting with a deceptive calm and lightness of tone, until all of a sudden and in short order there is a ship going up in flames, our heroes adrift in a boat and almost dying before they're picked up, a lost battle with Jack almost dying again; the remaining two thirds of the book are a moody, melancholy and rather introspective description of their time in American captivity, together with a little political intrigue and Stephen meeting Diana again, then, in the space of the last twenty pages or so, another battle, this time victorious. What I really liked best about this novel are the psychological aspects - Stephen to his dismay discovering how his feelings for Diana have changed, and his near-despair at this revelation; a gloomy Jack recovering from his wound in an hospital-cum-asylum. On the downside, I don't really like Diana, or rather I'm perfectly indifferent to her; in fact O'Brian has yet to write a female character I find even remotely interesting. I still can't quite pinpoint why exactly I feel like this - at a guess it's because in such a male world women by necessity play a less central part, and the connection the male characters share, in the very basic sense of knowing each other, is just so much stronger and more intriguing to the reader. Or maybe because he tries too hard and his (so far) invariably beautiful, interestingly flawed, courageous and slightly unconventional women bore me.


Jack cut the thread and handed back the mended coat; he looked out of the window, where the
Shannon's topsails winked in the evening light, and said, 'Dear Lord above, how I do wish I could set you clear of all this dirty, ugly, underhanded mess: how I long for the open sea.'
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For many, many years he had been unable to open his mind fully to any man or woman at all, and at times it seemed to him that candour was as essential as food or affection: during most of this period he had used his diary as a kind of surrogate for the non-existent loving ear - a very poor surrogate indeed, but one that had become so habitual as to be almost necessary. He missed it now, the close-written coded book, and having stared at the fire for a while he turned full to the table. His indifferent eye fell on the note, addressed in that familiar hand, and he drew a sheet of paper towards him.

'If I no longer love Diana,' he wrote, 'what shall I do?

[Stephen in O'Brian's The Fortune of War]


"And so do you really think they're still out there, loving each other, and then being separated, and him finding her again, only to be separated again?"

"Yes. I do," Finnegan said.

"What a terrible way to live."

Finnegan considered this for a moment. "Love makes its demands, and you listen. You can't bargain with it. You can't fight it. Not if it's really love."

[Clive Barker, Abarat 2: Days of Magic, Nights of War]

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solitary_summer

March 2013

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