Sunday, 2 December 2018

Why do I re-read books

One of my blogging friends Ramana publishes once a week a post written on the subject nominated by one of the members of his blogging group. I always liked the concept even if it felt a bit like a homework. My excessively independent nature issued some protest against writing a homework. Only, nobody asked me for any such thing as a writing assignment .  So, I did not have a problem to avoid.

In my previous post I was searching for ideas what to write about as my activities slowed down and ideas dried out. And I got a suggestion that I find interesting – to write about re-reading the same book, seeing the same films multiple times and listening to the same piece of music over and over again. The suggestion came from a person who I find a sharp and rather tough critic. So, I will be writing with some trepidation but also with curiosity and interest concerning comments I may receive at the end of this exercise. Thank you kvd for the suggesting the subject.

Re-reding books.

There are many  reasons why I read. Sometimes for fun, sometimes in hope that I might find answers to my existential questions, sometimes to learn something specific…Many reasons really.
My list of books I would like to read has always been very long and still is, so it seems to be a waste of time to read something that I already have read. But it did happen to me, even if not that often. When I think about the reasons for re-reading books, one very clear reason comes to  mind - re-reding for fun. There was a time when I was fascinated by the Polish writer – Joanna Chmielewska.  She wrote fun crime stories and her sense of humour had to me a particular allure. Many Poles felt the same way and her books disappeared from shops like hot cakes. In fact, books disappeared from bookshops in hours if it was a popular book, writer or a subject. Things have changed since those times. I remember when I just got the new book by Joanna Chmielewska. The book was about a crime committed in one of the Danish casinos. The title was - “The last sentence of the dead man”. The last sentence of this man was giving information where a big fortune of a gang was hidden. The Polish girl was the person who heard the last instructions. The dying man who was a part of the gang told her the secret information because of her blond wig.  He was instructed to pass the information to a blond girl. After being shot and saying his que, he promptly died leaving the critical information with the wrong person. The whole book is about the gang protecting the valuable source of information (the false blond girl), after kidnapping her from the casino and transporting on a private jet to somewhere in South America. At the same time the most convincing and handsome members of the gang tried to get the girl to recall the last sentence of the dead man which she denies to remember. The story is unbelievable but at the same time very logically unfolded to the readers. I imagine that it is very difficult to comprehend that, but this is a very clever book and very funny in its logical way. Starting to read it I was not able to put it away and was reading it without a break until I finished it at some early hours of the next day. I have many books of the same author and they all look very shabby by comparison to other of my books on the shelves. Typically, my books after reading look like new regardless how many pages they may have. Not Chmielewska. The books of the times - 60ties – 70ties were not the most robustly published but the reason for my books being shabby was that I and my friends read them several times.
                                              Image result for joanna chmielewska
I looked up Chmilelewska in Wikipedia and found out more about her than I had expected. She became widely published when the communism was over and became some sort of a national celebrity.

I got carried away with memories and went away from the initial subject of re-reading books.
It was the time when I spent some years in Poland after my Australian working years. It was like coming back to the old country, the one I even did not know well and understood rather poorly. So much has changed. I had a lot of time on my hands and a lot of books on the shelves of the place I lived in. Good old classics. It was a good opportunity to re-read some of them. So, The Magic Mountain of Thomas Mann landed up on my reading table but I did not go too far with it. It seems to be a cursed book for me. Something happens that makes me put the book away for long period of time. But I have read in this time The War and Peace the second time. I think it made a similar impression on me as my first reading when I was around twenty years old. Maybe I responded less romantically to Natasha Rostova’s love for Andrei Bolkonsky? Maybe this part of the book is better received by young impressionable girls? Anyhow, I liked the book the second time around as well but there were no fireworks. I was more impressed by Herman Hesse I read at this time and for the first time.

I think I stop this post as I am starting to feel boredom myself so this is definitely not a good sign. Maybe watching films multiple times will open some better paths for observations.

After some reflection I realised that I got sidetracked but did not finish the subject of re-reading books. I read books again and again also for comfort. It has been most of the time - Anne of Green Gables. Which part of the novel it did not matter. There are several parts of the Anne's story. My age did not matter either. Even now I took to the hospital with me Little Women. Not quite the same thing but the same type of book. About girls basically good to the core even if with some flows of character. But good, you could rely on good winning no matter what the situation and how long it took to see the real good side of it and the characters who may have strayed for a while. So when I needed to be reassured that life is really good and my problems will come right at the end, Anne of Green Gables did the job. 

Image result for aix en provence

There was another book I reread several times. Once again it was a book about school girls. But not very good girls this time. It is a series of Claudine books written by Colette. A scandalous writer married to an older man, flirtatious no matter  if objects of the flirt were women or men. Most likely women though. I do not feel that I would like to explore all the reasons why I was so fascinated by the books. Language was one of the attractions, Provence another strong reason. She wrote about the district of France with such love and admiration of its foods, smells, colours that it was impossible not to fall in love with Provence even without seeing it. And when I eventually saw it there were no disappointments. Calissons and coffee at one of the street cafes of Aix-en-Provence and fragrance of lavender  in the air were something I will always remember and marvel over.

Image result for aix en provence callison
This little sweet deserves a special poem, but since I could not write such a thing, I feel that it deserves a post at least. I would like to write it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Bloging Milestone

It was not long ago that I started my blog and today I hit the mark of  100,000 page views. For some people this is a small number but I am happy with it. Since I always liked reading, writing was on the cards as the next step and some progression. When I was fifteen or so, I started my first novel. I wrote maybe five pages and this was the extend of my career as a novelist. Then I attempted to write a journal and was more successful this time. I have in my drawers many beautiful books with my thoughts and problems of the times. It was a long time ago that I came across Morning Pages technique recommended by Julia Cameron. This is writing three unedited pages first thing in a morning. Something like stream of consciousness writing. It has not made me a James Joyce, but I solved many small problems this way. I would recommend starting days with the morning pages. Silly thing is that I almost stopped writing my journal in the recent months, but I want to get back to it. This is like talking with myself without putting any censorship on it. To make it easier to keep my new promise I ordered a nice new roller-ball pen with inscribed Amor Fati on it. I am getting a bit pathetic, ain’t I? Still for some years now I have liked nice pens, harmless addiction.

So, this historical event of reaching 100,000 page views started with the encouragement of a friend – My question: How to start writing a blog? Answer : Just do it. And I just did it. Thank you JC.

There is another person I consider with fondness as my teacher in many life disciplines and in writing as well. I believe that I wrote about is some time ago, but this is one of the characteristics of recalling memories. Repetition. So here it goes again. Polish written language is similar to German. Long convoluted sentences very few people can read to the end still remembering what they started with. It is supposed to be sophisticated and intellectual, I believe. My first business memos were tragic and I could not understand my problem. When a well-meaning person made five sentences out of one (I though short) of mine, I was shocked. Without being fully convinced I started to pay attention to writing short sentences with mixed successes, but I always remember the person who alerted me to the facts of written communication.

As I mentioned in one of the previous posts, I seem to have recently some problems with finding subjects to write about. Subjects which would interest others and myself. Subjects which would allow me to retain my sense of humour and distance to my current situation. Being able to keep some distance to the subjects I write about was always the key to allow seeing things clearly without emotional clouds and blinkers.

In the recent times I received some compliments that made my head spin. I never thought about myself that highly as somebody wrote about my subjects and way of writing. And now what? Noblesse Oblige? How can I live up to it? I never thought that highly about my posts myself. Just in case I was not able to express myself accurately, this was all said in a spirit of embarrassed humour.

Now, that I still have not found a decent subject to write about I will stop hoping that I will come up with something more meaningful soon.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Synchronicity and all that

I have not written for quite a long while. One of the reasons is that my world has shrank and the subjects for writing shrank with it to only a small list. Another reason is that I am very reluctant to write about my current areas of interest as I do not want to get too sad or dramatic. I have hinted before that I have health problems and they are serious. People say that I am brave, strong and such things. I do not see myself in such light, but hope to remain to be a practicing stoic in the time I have left. See how dramatic I suddenly sound when I write about some of my current thoughts. Sense of humour was always important to me, but there are times that jokes can become bad taste. Will I find the right balance?

This morning I got another prompt from one of my readers (how grand it sounds “one of my readers, and presumptuous perhaps) so I thought, I will try to give it a go and write something, even if I may cross my border of appropriate disclosure. By the way, kvd, it would be nice to get an email from you. I know you do not have it but you have the ways to find out.
                                                                 image 0
I have eventually got myself the stoics influenced coin with AMOR FATI (LOVE OF FATE) and on the other side Nietzsche’s  NOT MERELY TO BEAR WHAT IS NECESSARY… BUT LOVE IT. From the beginning I thought that it is really difficult at times to mean it and not feel that this is only wishful thinking. I wanted to be honest with my feelings.

I put the coin on my desk wondering if I can really embrace the meaning of it one day. Looks that I might be getting there. I started to experience healing events, meeting really good people, discovering people who genuinely care for me. There is a group people I can trust and I know they will always have my best interest at heart. This brings me peace and feeling of safety.  The most important relationship returned after years in a new beautiful form of trust and friendship. Many things came to me lately for which I am truly grateful.

Synchronicity? Maybe… Or maybe just seeing things in a different light. In a true light. Often, we worry about unimportant things. Value unimportant things. I believe that now I see life in the right proportions and that the most important values came to the fore.

People ask me what gives me pleasure and I think they want me to do just those things. Writing my blog is one of them and getting some comments tops it up. This is an important exchange of thoughts and makes me think that my views matter to some. If I get some questions or suggestions of a subject to write about, I will be grateful and do my best  to do just that.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Can One Understand the Russian Soul?

I would say, NO. Maybe Russians do, but I would not be so certain however silly it may sound. Living in western societies for many years and in Australia most of the time, but being born Polish, arrogantly, I felt that I have an advantage in the field of understanding the Russian soul in comparison to people around, now I am not so sure. I am not sure how much I actually understand myself. OK, so I have read Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Bunin and others. Even Pushkin as I had to read Eugene Onegin at school.  I even learn some of it by heart. I have not read Nabokov, but this should not count as he defected Russia and I do not consider him having a Russian soul so much. I am planning to check it out as he seems to come to my mind rather often recently. I like the Russian music, but not more than anybody else who likes music. Definitely not more that Lech one of the people who comment sometimes on my blog. I appreciate that there are so many famous Russian musicians famous in the world. The nation seems to be more sensitive to feelings and changes in mood than many others. It seems to stand out in the sensitivity department. 
                              Image result for birch forest russia
I get mushy seeing birch forests, be it in reality when I go to Poland but I get sentimental even seeing the trees on films. I am not sure if this is a normal reaction because they are beautiful trees or it is because I have this purely eastern liking and birch associations. Today I watched The Last Station, compliments of Netflix, film about the last days of Tolstoy.   I loved the film, it fitted beautifully with my current mood and just after I finished the book about Shostakovitch listening quite a bit to his music. Helen Mirren played convincingly a hysterical wife of Tolstoy (aren’t they all hysterical in Russian literature?)  played by Christopher Plummer who was not himself a symbol of composure and control over emotions. And the film is based on a book by Jay Parini, an American writer. They all seem to understand the Russian soul as well as Julian Barnes does. And they all gave me an opportunity to get immersed in a very Russian climate and get emotional in the process. I realized that my feeling of being comparatively a bit of an expert on a Russian soul does not have grounds. I got humbled.

                             Image result for the last station

 I think it is time to get out of the eastern climate and read or see something more level headed. Like Bachelorette or more likely some book by Alain de Botton. I have ordered so many of his books and I wonder how many of them I will read.  Will I have time?

                               The Architecture of Happiness By Alain de BottonImage result for alain de botton booksImage result for alain de botton books and there are others...