Sunday, 22 April 2018

Good taste and bad taste

This is so subjective, but many consider themselves superior as far as taste is concerned. Am I a person like that? I think I am. Only that I think that majority of us consider ourselves to represent and appreciate the good taste, this is our subjective judgment. After all the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I know all of that and yet when I pass a new “art” shop in my suburb I feel offended by the “art” generously displayed in the panoramic windows. There is a lot to be seen. Half-naked pretty girls of various races, dotted paintings pretending to an aboriginal art. Scoters, boats, and cars for those who happen to have them as their personal interest. All in bright colours that are difficult to pass by and not notice. I must confess that passing the display I look masochistically and somewhat greedily at the pictures feeding my disgust and checking who may be buying the “art”.   

As I have already said, I consider myself to have a good taste in art and maybe not only art, so each time I pass the shop and I have to do it every day, I disapprove of what I see. I may even awake the feeling of superiority in myself and this made me stop and think about the subject. This is a cheap way to gain a positive feeling about myself.

Live and let live I believe and yet I am disturbed by the display and think that this is almost unlawful to allow such a shop in a respectable suburb. How the council could allow that?? When I write these words, I sense that I am very wrong and intolerant writing the words. I can stop expressing what I feel, but I will feel that anyhow. I think I got myself into a tangle and wonder what I wanted to achieve choosing the shop with bad paintings as a subject for my post. It could be that I am still searching for a worthwhile subject to write about and this came to mind or that I simply needed to let the steam off. And as I have done it already I will stop now.

My technical abilities are average but my impatience to solve problems is above average so I have not managed yet to copy the photos of the paintings from my iPhone to the PC. I will win one of those days when my patience improves. It is important to illustrate my point.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Mainly about Florence

I cannot find a subject to write about even if I was given a couple of ideas. It was suggested to me that I either write about a book or my bridge experience. I like to write about books I have read as it helps me to understand them better and I generally discover more in the book when I reflect on them. When I like the book, writing about it gives me additional pleasure. The problem is that I almost stopped reading books in the last few weeks. I cannot find a book that would interest me to the extent that I should finish it. So, I have quite a few books on the go and I may finish them one day, but this has not happened yet.

There is not that much to write about bridge either as I am just playing the game but without any excesses. Just steady as she goes. I promise myself to learn my bridge lessons and improve my game. This does not seem to work well as two of my partners are not that much interested in new conventions and bridge is a partnership game, so I lose interest in learning new things if I cannot apply the new knowledge. This may change soon as I will have two new partners and then I will see if they will motivate me to learn more and step up my game.

The last post and exchange of comments with the anonymous commentator – kvd – created more traffic through my blog than I had seen in the past. Thank you kvd. My ego was stroked, but I realise that this was not really my achievement.  Thank you kvd.
Thinking what I could squeeze out of myself in terms of ideas for writing I decided that I will write about the book that I have been reading for some months now – Florence, a Delicate Case by David Leavitt. The book is one of the series The Writer in the City. I already have another one from the series waiting for my time and interest. This is by Edmund White about flaneuring in Paris. The series is about writers’ impressions of cities that in some way caught their attention. I just found out that there is one book about Sydney, maybe this is worthwhile reading? The thing that detracts from the interest in the books is that I actually had not heard of the authors of the books before and I do not know their style. I simply selected the books by the city that I am interested in myself. The books are also cheap and nicely published.

Florence is one serious fascination of mine and when I think: I have a dream… what comes to mind is one month in Florence in a nice biggish place where my friends could come and stay with me for awhile and then when they have enough of the town and me another lot of friends would come to visit and so on... We would go together or not necessarily together to one of the numerous churches, monasteries, palaces, galleries and museums. Then coffees, lunches, gelatos, long chatty diners in Santo Spirito or somewhere else… Paradise! Long strolls, reading in parks or other nice places with a view. Yes, I should have a room with the view over Arno as well. I would eventually go to San Marco and see Fra Angelico murals that I missed during my last visit in this magical city. I would than go to see Fiesole, the place near Florence where well to do people had their villas with the view over Florence. Fra Angelico actually comes from there; his name was Giovanni da Fiesole before he linked his life and art with San Marco in Florence.

Not too difficult to guess why I am reading the book. It is more difficult to explain why it has taken me such a long time to get to the middle of the rather small book. Maybe because it is not all that interesting for me or that I decided that this is my travel by bus and coffee place book so I read it in small chunks and not that often? Both are good and true reasons why it has taken me such a long time.
The book is really about dubious reputation of the town which goes many years back when sodomy was very harshly judged in Europe and particularly Great Britain so many famous people who could not live openly according to their sexual interests went to live in Florence where they and their sexuality were welcome and their whims could be easily satisfied by numerous establishments hiring pretty young boys.

There is not that much about art in the book, but I am still puzzled by one statement that states that Florence houses one-fifth of the world art treasures. Is this possible? It does not seem so and I do not know how to check the credibility of this statement, but I do not doubt that Florence is the place that offers art in excess.

I found out from the book about floods in Florence, especially the one in 1966. The descriptions of the extent of the floods and the heroic rescuing of the town’s treasures by its citizens, international volunteers and scientific institutions all over the world were difficult to imagine. We all are in debt to the people who worked on saving the treasures of Florence. 
                                             Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania florence floods 1967

Monday, 2 April 2018

The value of having a routine in my life

When I look at the definition of routine, it seems rather uninspiring:
a sequence of actions regularly followed.
"I settled down into a routine of work and sleep"

Recently, however, I realised that a life without a routine leads to confusion, inactivity and generally losing direction. Now, the routine needs to be such that it actually inspires you to live better, to live a vibrant life… In fact, it needs to be the opposite to what it seems to be at a glance. It all depends on what my routine is, what are the steps I follow regularly, what thoughts I think every day.

This morning I went to my Daily Stoic book and the thought of the day brought for reflection the message of guarding your thoughts. I always knew, or at least, I have known for a long time that the colour of my daily thoughts dyes my life. It can make me look at life in a happy way or a negative, gloomy way of a scared person. It is so obvious what type of thought one should decide to think. This is not so easy sometimes and I get lazy and go on a negative automatic pilot.  I must say that the last year has been difficult for me in many ways and I fell into some routines that made my life not as good as I would have liked it. My problems, objectively, did not go away, but I made a decision to live each day the best I can. My stoic friends have a nice metaphor of seeing each day as a bead that we string on our thread of life. Each bead is a finished and separate unit and we have a choice to make this bead a lovely colour, shape and shine a bright light. At the beginning of each day, we can decide how we want the day to be. Starting with reflection helps to make better decisions during the day. Routine can be very helpful in this respect, providing that it is a supportive routine. This is what I am working on now. Designing my routine. Writing my blog or my diary is the way to systemise my thoughts and find answers in my subconscious and in my conscious mind. It would be really great if I got some ideas from the readers of the post, but this is perhaps too much to expect. My posts, even if read by some who I consider my virtual friends, are not that popular to get flooded by responses to my existential questions. If it happens I will be happy and grateful.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Back to posting

It has been a while since I posted. It is mainly that what was happening in my life was difficult to live through and difficult to write about. Even if I am typically quite candid with what I write, I want to leave the details aside for now. But I want to go back to writing my posts, so it looks that I will be a bit enigmatic and I hope that this will not matter.
I always wanted to lead a meaningful life. Sometimes my friends thought that I am too serious and that I labour the point of meaningful life too much. Now, I think, more than ever I want to live better than I was managing so far. But what is better? What I can change and how my days need to look like?
In the last weeks, I put increased emphasis on reading stoic thoughts. In fact, I started the year with a Daily Stoic book recommended to me by a friend. This is interesting and a good morning practice, but the current situation requires something more. So, I I decided that I want to read again the book by the polish writer Piotr Stankiewicz “The art of living according to stoics”. I felt that it would be very helpful to read the book with new interest. Alas, I left the book in Poland. And here I discovered once again the power of technology. After a short search on the internet I found an e-version of the book and some minutes later the book was downloaded to my iPhone. It felt like magic. I have been using internet and online shopping quite extensively so the situation should not have surprised me. It was just that I wanted the book so much that the sudden ability to read it at my will felt like many doors opening for me. I have not been thinking about it that I can read any book that is in Polish bookshops without going to the country. Typically, I prefer to read English originals, but there are books that are not translated into English that they suddenly became available to me. I like it.
So, what about living according to stoics? One of the most powerful and useful to me messages is that there are two things in life: those we can influence and those that we cannot. Worrying about the ones that are not under our control is silly as we can not do anything about it. The way is to accept it in a calm way. This is indeed an art that will require some practice, but I must say that I am doing not too badly already.

I guess I will stop at that for today, but my intention of going back to blogging has been fulfilled. The life is going back to the old shape, but there is a challenge ahead of me to live better than I was and use the time better. Procrastination will disappear. 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

I feel cheated

Yesterday, I eventually went to see Three Billboard Outside Ebbing Missouri. I did not fancy it, but people were raving, the media were predicting Oscars and several nominations have been awarded already. So, I thought, it is almost an obligation for somebody who sees films often and appreciates their value to see this particular film even if I did not like its setting much. I thought this was rather low of me so I went to see it and I had an open mind.

                            Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania three billboards outside ebbing missouri review

During the film, I laughed, I cringed, I was engrossed in the action 100%. When the film finished, I thought that it deserved all the Oscars it was nominated for and conceded its superiority over other films I previously liked a lot. My personal assessment of Call Me by Your Name was demoted to a lower position in the films ranking.

Then, while walking home I reflected on what it was all about and what actually moved me so much. The acting was great, and I think this was a dishonest trick to put emphasis on role-playing to obstruct the film’s psychological inconsistencies, emptiness and untruth. Since analysing is often my game and sometimes my shortcoming, so I analysed the issue and quickly came into conclusion that the moments in the film that made me think of the goodness of human nature hidden behind rough exteriors are seriously unconvincing. The film is full of that. People who are extremely cruel, harm others in the most brutal way without a moment of thinking, suddenly see their failings and show the most touching human generosity. Like the boy who was savagely harmed by the policeman, later recovering in the hospital and seeing the policeman who was patient himself after an accident, after some hesitation comes with the glass of juice to the bandaged policeman and tenderly positions the straw so it can be reached easily. Nice. And I went for it thinking that human nature has so much goodness underneath of violence. Well, I feel gullible.

                              Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania three billboards outside ebbing missouri review

The most difficult to swallow is, however, change in the officer Dixon, brilliantly played by Rockwell. The dumb, violent, cruel man after receiving the letter prizing him for potential detective talents turns into an honest, dedicated person who almost starts to display an aptitude to solve complex problems.

Well, I still think that the film will get his Oscars in abundance, but I will not be convinced.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Aciman and Guadanino linger on

I said that I have overdosed on Aciman and now I have another proof that I must have done. This post will be written under the influence. No, not under the influence of alcohol but one phrase that came from the direction of Aciman and the film of Guadanino. Love that is a Memory or should it be rather Love that is the Memory. My doubt is not so much about the correct use of “a” and “the” even if prepositions were always my problem, but about stressing that it is a true love I want to talk about.

At some stage, each of our loves becomes a memory. It struck me that the love is still there but in a different form. It is a Memory rather than a story. And it depends on us what we do with it. What meaning we will give it. The important thing is that it still is there, did not get lost just changed its form as anything else changes. I like the thought, find that this way I can preserve something which is in the past but is still with me and in me. I have not lost it.

I think I leave it at that. Just wanted to record a fleeting thought that seems important.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

I overdosed on Aciman

Seeing the film Call Me by Your Name I followed by reading the book on which the film is based. I got hooked and started to read Aciman’s work and listen to his lectures on YouTube. Now I almost finished the next book of his - Enigma Variations and started to feel that I have enough of his style and stories for a while.

I think that the title of the book is quite appropriate – Enigma Variations. The book is enigmatic and consists of loosely linked stories that are variations on the subject of love. The title is the same as Elgar’s Variations on the Original Theme composed in 1898 that comprises of fourteen parts. Here I thought that this is a nice link to Proust. Aciman wrote only six themes and this is quite enough for me. Six stories about love linked by the name of the protagonist who does not necessarily have to be the same person. If he is the same person or not it is not all that important. What is important is love that is the subject of each of the stories. As for the XXIst century, they are very idealistic, romantic love stories often based on such goodness of the heroes, that it reads like a fairy tale. Similarly, to Call Me by Your Name, the book I am reading has stories about love between men. The stories are compelling and present love in a very pure and tender manner. Aciman writes beautifully about gay love, almost more beautifully than I have read in any romance between women and men. Not that I read all that many romances, so maybe my comparison here does not have much value.

I wonder if Aciman is gay himself, it does not seem so, but his insight into gay emotions is remarkable. On the other hand, after having quite a bit of contact with his way of thinking, I myself came to a conclusion that love is love and its orientation does not mean anything. Of course, there are some practical implications like having children. This would point to the fact that gay love may not be natural and as such should be condoned. This is not my way of thinking.

Aciman writes about the feelings between men in such a way that I almost think that such love may be more beautiful than the most beautiful love between a woman and a man. He writes about love based on the goodness of the people who love each other, their tenderness towards each other and giving. What I particularly like about the books of Aciman and the film is that there are no explicit scenes and no nudity (in the film, of course). Some people would argue with me about the lack of explicit scenes. Yes, there is one very controversial scene. That controversial that one of my rather broad-minded friends left the cinema theatre after the scene. What is explicit are facial expressions of a very talented Timothee Chalamet. His ability to express feelings may get him an Oscar for the last couple of minutes of the film when his face shows without a word the inner farewell to his love, to his innocence and life as he knew so far. I was spellbound watching him and I am not an exception.

Looks that I am still very much in the mood created by Andree Aciman even if I started the post differently. The thing is that I do not intend to finish the book in the near future. Not that it is not good, but I feel a need to change the mood. It may be a little difficult as I do not have a good candidate for my next reading. Perhaps I need something lighter, maybe funny? 

My book club reading is The Trial of Kafka. This is different, all right, but I somehow I do not feel like jumping into it for relaxation and fun.

Maybe I could give reading a short rest. But this morning I got a lovely article from one of my blogging friends about a bookworm and I know I am one of them so the break may not be all that long. Here is the reference