Last night’s live discovery…Gabriel Rios. Distinctive, haunting & unpredictable music (and implicitly voice). This particular melody? Shivers and electricity. *Precious* & beauteous lyrics. Indelible quality to it. Yeah, obsessively re~re~re listening to it now, slightly holding my breath with each perceptible change of inflection. Try it too!
While stuffing my J shape with cheesy spaghetti bolognese, tiramisu liqueur and mango, I can’t resist the tingling impulse to fill a diary page with calligraphic writing, purposely stylized. I mean, my skeptical ego always demands a decent appearance for a delusional wish list…to compensate its futility. Because, no matter how limitless my reservoir of ambitions and perseverance is, I know that obstacles such as erratic circumstances (rejection, lack of synchronization, denial) and personal defects (procrastination, self-indulgence, mood swings) are undeniably tangible, and things deviate from what’s meticulously planned.
But this time, rather than decorate with beauteous Gothic handwriting *paragraphed in limpid aims* the first page of a new chapter, I will simply enumerate my previous year’s failures and their motives. Cross them out with mean gusto. Then, unburdened of deprecating self-analysis and reproachful pangs, armed only with pure creed, I will quote a chorus. Because this time I genuinely desire only what is stated in the title of this song I ritualistically listen to, during this final(e) time of the year…don’t <better days> encapsulate all that’s “meant” and stays? 🙂 To me and us all, better new chapter & days!
“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
- The treacherous. I don’t think there is anything worse in life, when it comes to relationships of whatever nature, than the sordid creatures that aliment your expectancies and then betray you. Through deceit, perfidy or wickedness…maybe all at once. This type is the most dangerous as they spend considerable time, energy and action to gain your trust. To convince you they embody a remarkable figure you should allow into the deepest chambers of your self. To somehow assure you that exposing your bare core, vulnerable and integer, won’t lead you to destruction, collapse or misanthropy. And subsequently, they disappoint you in the most unimaginable way. Whether they do it covertly or bluntly, the effect is the same: utter dilapidation within. Of a bond that you constructed out of pristine credence, only to learn that it all represented, not a figment of your own imagination, but a flimsy scaffold made of brittle tools offered by a mask. Adultery, abandonment, fraud…all fit this infamous sort.
- The violent. Abusive individuals of the human species abound everywhere. From the common and despicable man that hits a (weaker) member of his family, to the lady ahead of you in the crammed queue that starts screaming hysterically when you accidentally touch her shoulder. From the preschool child that tortures his pet, to the fanatic that uses a ludicrous religious pretext to justify his/her malefic behaviour. What they all share is the impotency to create. Because creation takes genuine talent, hard-work, patience, persistence and positive dedication. So, implicitly, time and self-sacrifice for a higher and altruistic perspective. And the violent is, quite plainly, incapable of such humanity. They could sit and “go about their business”, taking advantage of others’ creations without trying to spoil them or bring forth new ones, as most of the average people usually do. But no, there is a seed of frustration pulsating beneath the violent person’s (often) apparently composed figure. And, associated with damaging environment, mediocre intelligence and undistinguished stream of conscience, it sprouts and pilots these dreadful bipeds to delusions of power. And as they aren’t competent enough to acquire it through labour and decency, they seek to seize it and impose it by means of terror. It’s the easiest thing to do: destroy. It’s the hardest thing to do: create. It takes years of commitment, labour and love to built an edifice, to grow a human being to maturity, to write a life changing book…and only a brief instant of unjust brutality to destroy it.
- The lecherous. Goatish representatives of the supposedly superior Homo sapiens sapiens are certainly not in short supply in our well (or poorly) established societies either. The feminist in must manifest a bit now, but only retaining the truthful tone of my writing voice: you can’t deny, the casual y chromosome possessor is predominant in this case (as in the previous one, if awfully ~ socially and historically ~ accurate). This is the one that makes me feel like vomiting and carrying a huge flyswatter around…if only lewd intentions could be squashed as pests, and the loathing for thrown up. Pertinent scenes for this impertinent category? The middle-aged obese guy staring and whistling at teenage girls, the effeminate pedophile doing volunteer work in an orphanage, the purported friend that begins fondling you or making unsubtle suggestions when you need comfort or simply act too natural around him…the all desperate, or prurient, or “open-minded” guys (ok, some women too) that can’t discern beyond the skin & flesh.
- The snobbish. This is the judgmental one, the one that gives verdicts and sentences. With saliva drops at the feverish mouth’s corners or with calculated calm, nevertheless driven by: momentary impulses, mass-media robotic & distorted feeding, narrow vision, stupidity drainage and other insubstantial elements. The haughty is habitually conducted by callous preconceptions and the need to toss in labeled boxes all people as if they were mere tins of dischargeable or keepable breath …based on background, country of origin, social status, colour, (non)religion, profession, gender, clothing and so on. Meanwhile, of course, they admire themselves in an unreliable mirror where all they can notice is how “special” and “worthy” they are.
- The coward. Once upon a time, I too was part of this abhorrent category. It was merely out of mistaken principles and introversion; e.g. I had long assumed that one should never argue with a much older person but agree on the surface with, as to not be disrespectful. But elderly people, I’ve learned in the past few years, are not necessarily wise and without concealed intentions. Moreover, cowardice is not only self-denying but also more crippling than raw sincerity. Personally, I have extended my then reduced-to-close-circles frankness and feel proud about…even if the price paid is that people avoid you or act embarrassed when encountering unadorned-with-politeness (so, unconsciously, with hypocrisy) attitudes. My flawed solution: I prefer to keep my distance and be interpreted as frosty rather than injure others with my sincerity…didn’t imagine how frightened most people can be by. Anyway, I simply avoid the innoxious – shy & courteous & quiet – cowards, but the ones I can’t stand are the ones that prefer to lie or make promises they don’t keep, instead of being sincere! If there were a talisman to prevent you from developing attractions for such persons whose emotional hypochondria (= fear of being rejected / criticized / treated outright) reveals itself only in time (first erroneous impression: taciturn, prudent observer, and the like) I would get myself one…if my scientifically inclined mind would allow me to believe in such stuff.
- The lazy. You can adore one’s overall character and stop doing it altogether when you truly spend qualitative time with him/her and realize how the term “teamwork” could never apply to you two. Unless the balance is heavily shifted (99%) in your direction and the word’s significance is deviated from, well, practical “symbiosis” to inappropriate “parasitism”…on you, the point of reference and passive or active exploit. From a “please, do this for me, thanks!” to a “haven’t you done that already?”, the chaotic independence of the lazy can escalate (or more correctly, descend) to tidy dependence on the other. For the one cleaning up the mess, whether is a lover, friend, work colleague or relative? From unburdened existence to chocking endeavours. Details matter a lot, and can be damn decisive!
- The weak. Weak could mean all the kinds described above, as all the former could also be mutually induced and interrelated…but here it’s about a certain type of weak. Not the one we all passingly embody at various crucial moments in our life and then make it vanish through determination, optimism and strength. The one I am writing about is the perpetual infirm. Physically, mentally, emotionally. The one that needs others to make decisions for them at every point of their existence. The one that whines, cries and shouts about their injustices, fictitious or real, but never does anything to oppose them. The one that self-annihilates their essence in depression, lassitude and defeatism. Occasional twinges of pity reverberate through myself when noticing such fine examples of absolute failure…but I cast them off, as one of the few certainties I have learned so far is that life comes from within, never from outside.
Chasing your fears is the uttermost demand for a veritable artist in order to evolve. Otherwise, your dedication is questionable, your creations incomplete. Mitigated. This is an innacurate yet reliable quote I have extracted from marvelous Marina Abramovic’ s video linked below. It is, I reckon, a rather plain but pertinent and truly encompassing principle for genuine and potentially enduring work. Perfectly isolated from external interpretations, one can pursue the fickle and meandering mazes of their creativity, without being haunted by compromise-inducing notions such as “relatable”, “pleasant” and “notorious”.
Commercial quests streamed from an intramural flame of artistic vision marred with vanity are ordinarily embroidered with recognition that extends beyond a reduced niche of similar beings. One could easily enumerate trivial tools whose unceasing usage eventually leads to the much sought recognition on a considerable scale. Following current tendencies in music, employing tricks as SEO and organized-in-simple-lists content in writing, tackling certain themes and subjects in painting and sculpting, are only a few of the overly abused tricks as to achieve (merely material) prosperity and inflate the ego. Avoiding perpetually peculiar directions, inedited metaphors and complex matters, undoubtedly pushes you down a slope that will eventually land you in the majority’s (cess)pool. Virtually, one can often acknowledge the reaching of their aim by means of online statistics, social media likes and so on.
There is a price to pay when you deliberately choose one of the two variants. If true to your bare creative self thus artistic, outer incongruity. If true to your conceit thereby commercial, inner combustion. Intermingled? A slightly unattainable Utopia or, if palpable, mainly occurring posthumously. The most suitable solution for lovely combination of *indelibly-valuable-for-posterity-and-artistic and *commercially-successful-and-prosperous creation? Would probably consist of gradual unreeling of your idiosyncratic vision starting from the shallow and less representative (but nonetheless undeniably present in all of us) layers as to assemble a consistent audience and then finishing with the exposure of the authentic core. This, if one aspires to live on her or his art and do it decently.
Myself? Have only paid attention to my casual sides when elaborating professional (Copy)writing work meant for commercial publishing…have not compromised so far my creative spirit in intimate creations of poetry and prose. But I might soon conclude the necessity of paying personal attention, time and energy to those unsophisticated parts of my life that comprise daily routines and surroundings too… though never in a dull and regurgitated manner as so many alleged “artists” nowadays. Until then, I will limit myself to expressing the marrow of my senses….never intended for, and rarely comprehended by, “the masses”….and shiver with delight when few sentient creatures grasp it, appreciate it and mirror theirs in.
I like complex characters, the ones whose vulnerability and emotional palette transpire visually in adamant or volatile decisions. I am not fascinated by the damage that frequent struggle inflicts during climax inside the beings that endure it or the ones around them, but by the bizzare pertinacity of the respective humans. The cathartic salvation they seek in a way or another, regardless of the fact that it might signify precisely their perdition. Based on these premises, I have compiled the following top five best cinematic performances.
- Isabelle Adjani in One Deadly Summer/L’Ete Meurtrier (1983)
This extremely beauteous French actress is my all time favourite, as her ability to ransack the deepest and most flexuous layers of her psyche feels unsurpassable. Her sapphirine irides, perfectly assorted with her wild chestnut curls, create an almost unassailable impression of nescient and erotic naivety at the beginning of L’ete Meurtrier. As the film progresses, the ingenious intricacy of her disturbing intentions is unreeled, and tragedy gradually satiates the atmosphere. The intriguing scene between Elle and her mother is monumental, and the denouement quite resonates with the title of this remarkable and truly unforgettable pellicle.
- Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice (1982)
She is widely renowned and highly praised for her chameleonic capacity to emulate the most diverse personages, and she totally deserves it. Meryl Streep’s non-American accent in Sophie’s Choice is above impressive, the apparent submissiveness of her behavior irreproachable, and her raw despair could not be more believable. This film deserves to be watched even solely for the contrast of sceneries, but its veritable merit does lie in the puzzle pieces Sophie unwillingly collects, the ones that eventually lead her to her double choice. A picture show that illustrates how circumstances dictate our destinies, yet above it, how we can actually hold the fortitude to select the alternative that reverberates best with our inner structure.
- Geoffrey Rush in Shine (1996)
The portrayal of shy and faltering piano prodigy David Helfgott, by the Australian actor, is impeccable. Despite the alleged inaccuracy regarding the factual relationship between the anxious and talented pianist and his peremptory (or not) father, this Oscar winning performance of descent in a cesspool of psychopathy, followed by an unexpected exaltation, is breathtaking. Nonsensical babble has never seemed funnier yet so thrillingly subtle in its scattering of simple truth’s echoes in the listener’s ear.
- Juliette Binoche in The Lovers on The Bridge/Les amants du Pont-Neuf (1991)
I have realized that I manifest a veritable penchant towards French actresses, as Juliette Binoche is yet another of my very few preferred. Her nonchalant naturalness, both physical and pathematic, is almost unparalleled in cinematography. I have noticed that she has an inclination towards depiction of masterly gifted people, and it suits her incredibly well. What could be more appalling for a graphic artist, a painter as Michèle, than losing her sight? This motion picture is about the beauty and harshness that can dwell together in carelessness, about unlikely bonds that can redeem or injure us. Homelessness on Paris’s oldest bridge, loyal yet treacherous fondness, hypnotic and erratic dancing, only a few of the intoxicating elements that pour spell in this eccentric film.
- Gwyneth Paltrow in Sylvia (2003)
Before Sylvia, I didn’t really know much about the interpreting abilities of Gwyneth Paltrow. Of course, I did watch Shakespeare in Love and Proof, but in there her performance didn’t strike me as indelibly exceptional. I should mention that Sylvia Plath is my favourite poet and I was very skeptical about her concrete embodiment in a roll. Yet, I needed to see it. And when I did, my reaction, well, it can be briefly summarized in a single word: flabbergasted. Her exuberance, her antithetical moods, her audacity, her neuroses…all packed in a slightly flawed (who could actually incarnate thoroughly Sylvia’s self-contained yet impetuous electricity?) but so palpable rendering! Maybe the actress’ impersonation was unfortunately succored by her personal grief due to the loss of her own father (the paternal figure’s demise, great nucleus around which Plath’s obsessions gravitated), I could not know. What I certainly perceive is what she inspired to me in this role, and that is my most cherished poetess’ dramatic allure.
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.” (Robert de Niro)
When I first read the above statement a repetitive rippling infiltrated into my mind. Among the equally anxious & feverish thoughts that fluttered in my electrically charged and conducted matter, two words hovered above the fluctuating stream of self-identification and wonder: surgical accuracy. However, after the initial pondering, when the estimative utterance had settled its reflection in the now sedate surface of my fluid consciousness, I had concluded it as disputable. (To me, I obviously sifted it through my intrinsic filters and interpreted it as a general -as it was meant, I assume- yet personal analysis) And not because it lacks consistency, but merely because is precariously assorted with an unnecessary and, I tend to believe, inapplicable annex.
Specifically, on a good day, in the mind of a writer happens quite the opposite. The brain happily frolics on Arcadian fields of catharsis, brought on by the explicit dissections, in writing, of the miserable demons that have tormented it during the bad days. Sure, the latter dominate the existence of a commited writer, as the chosen path of exploring one’s sinuous layers preceding the bare core, and its very mercurial essence, is strenuous and exhausting. However, the liberating sentiment is utterly incomparable. What more to desire than your burdens’ alleviation in a realm of metaphors and melodicity that preserves, not the pain, but the depth reached through it, for later instants when you pulsate solely for the unique treasure that we all gather in our passing? Memories, engraved not only as fragments of images and sensations on the animate walls of your heart’s chambers, but also as tangible (preferably handwritten) inscriptions on immaculate pages.
Of all the damaging (yet imperious, I deem, for distinguishable creative endeavors) factors succinctly or randomly enumerated by the empathetic actor, the inadequacy is the most unbearable. Because is the only one that can actually lead to self-sabotage. Acute peculiarity of character, idiosyncratic behavior, unblurred principles aso, reflected in writing (charged with limpid messages, not heavily elaborate or cryptic!), are hard to digest, and commonly have the disturbing quality/defect of constructing novel paths in brain and revealing unsuspected sides in heart, for the reader. And it is quite consuming, so reluctantly perceived. As a words-crafter, even though you primarily write for yourself, you do long for a sort of recognition, ideally in the literary sphere. And (seemingly) perpetual rejection can corrupt your thinking and deviate your wish to see your acquired-through-writing catharsis ignited in others. To renunciation. Not regarding writing, but sharing it -well, attempting to!- with others namely preoccupied by it.
What it’s to do about then? The simplest solution? A dose of rationality and perspective injected in constitutes a must every now and then. What does that mean? It means that, as writer, one should also scrutinize their predecessors’ biography too, not only their work. Gathering bouquets of literary rejections is a frequent occurrence for any grand or aspiring writer, you can easily realize it on a quick search, and it has always been so. Hence, one must concentrate on their scribbling, and comfort their desideratum of acclaim with rare and tiny yet valuable manifestations of appreciation. What would you notice firstly, on a hill all scattered with pale thorn bushes and only remotely adorned with a scarlet rose one? Uh-huh, the rose bush. That’s what a literary acceptance is. The thorn bushes, right, no need to explain this simile too, I guess.
Personally, yes, I choose to ignore my a-bit-over one hundred literary rejections. Well, I do linger over the feedback-embellished ones such as,
“I do want to say your poetry submission easily has some of the best diction I’ve ever encountered – and I’ve read so very many submissions – so kudos! What great words used throughout.”,
“Your work impressed the editorial staff with its intense language and vivid images.” and
“You are obviously a gifted poet, and I would welcome more from you in the future.”,
but proffering in some places your quite-close-to-best work and being refused is, at the end, unpleasant. Therefore, to keep my literary aspirations afloat and my creative labour prolific, I tenderly admire (when in need of keep struggling impetus) the precious yet delicate cassette in which I have enclosed four UK and USA publications and, my so-far peak, a poetry prize shortlisting at the University of Cambridge last year. This year? Haven’t reached its apogee yet, but, hey, only two thirds of it have passed…so, still ambitiously aiming to climb (or crawl?) to higher altitudes!
The creative healing
The healing requires a bittersweet
Medicine of obstinate will,
Accompanied by reliable blood army.
Not acquirable for the poor fellows infused
With autoimmune, obscurely originated, disloyalty.
It also demands time,
A blooming repetitiveness in whose monotony
To relish aspirations of salvation.
What more? A score
Of thawing attacks of malignity,
For the perfectionist ones dedicated to their soma.
Above all, the healing urges closure,
The slow carving of a scab to secure
A built-in flaw of frailty
Or a passing vulnerability.
The creative healing, unlike the clinical
Whose string of cyclic pangs
Has orderly been described above,
Is an utter opposite, a way whose thorny perception
Can only be dissected in annulment
By stabbing analysis throughout
The depth of its offal.
It is the stalking of ache,
Raw, not hypochondriacal or fake,
With no alleviation of pills,
For its final effect, rose-scented catharsis,
To be spilled all over within.
- Kindness over intelligence
A quick check for it on my electronic dictionary displays a variety of synonyms. These three nouns catch my sight: warm-heartedness, compassion, selflessness. What does kindness mean to you? To me, it encompasses that special something that supposedly places us above all the other species. Humanity. But there are quadrupeds whose behaviour is more humanitarian than many people’s. Reward system, stimulating feedback based? Not all the time, and if so, it mostly applies to people too. Even in such conditioned conditions, most pets’ unflinching loyalty is irreproachable. Human beings’ kindness, whether is ego-feeding intended (so expectative) or not, is nevertheless superior. As capability, as utility, as productivity. Yet so scarce and, it seems, increasingly rarer. How does it manifest? Real kindness? Beyond words yet through them. Through facts yet beyond them. A gesture, a smile or a grimace, an eye-to-eye connection.
Imagine being stuck, midsummer, in a bus full of gloomy figures, all immersed in their own preocuppations, sweat and rushed attitudes. Awaiting at the traffic lights. Beyond the dusty glass of the side window, an apparition. An old lady in medieval attire; large white shirt tightened on her gaunt frame by a shiny embroidered vest, and multicolored long skirt. Her bouffant hair untidy and brown as raw chestnuts, her smile suggestive of carefree madness. The crucial and memorable gesture? Her face all smiles facing the vintage vehicle fully packed with morose and self-involved creatures, her hands outstretched as if to engulf us in an encompassing embrace. Then, her dance movements as if along a straight sidewalk line, without ever stopping from smiling and invisibly calling us in her arms. I laughed, crazily laughed, and was on the point of asking the driver to open the door and let me get off and really hug her, when the bus retook its swinging pace. That woman’s small act to me is kindness…aware or not, but never mimed generosity, unconditioned by incentives or demands.
What captures my attention from the few synonymous words for it flowing on the tiny screen: brainpower, wit, discernment. I have long assumed that intelligence is what prevents a human being from falling into malicious traps of preconceptions, greediness, wrong choices, egocentrism, infidelity, corruption, boredom, and the list can go on. Also, that it is the driving force that blooms creativity, innovation and positive advancement. And I was right….for a somewhat considerable proportion of the people who possess it, and for a decent fraction of the enumerated things. But, I have come to realize that intelligence’s beneficial fruition doesn’t depend at all on itself. Smart people can be selfish, duplicitary and judgemental too, even to a more detrimental extent, as their astuteness is undeniably a form of power that can assure their influence on ignorants and their survival in critical, life threatening situations. (Well, at least of natural sort, where the rule “not the strongest, but the fittest -mentally as to elaborate solutions, not physically of course…no matter how robust one can be, if they are dumb enough to camp in an open area that’s the teritorry of some big felines, say, their solidity will only burden their running…attempt!- survives“.) But the thing about intelligent people is that they are less likely to be uncovered and directly exhibit as such, so that could make them more dangerous or inoffensive. Yet, considering the fools’ increasing expansion, you might assume that they don’t constitute a real threat. But they mostly could.
However, bright people are the ones capable to discern the good, bad and nuances between, and not let themselves guided by media-driven mentality, obtuse education and defective environments. Therefore, they are more in charge of their choices. (So, even if judging you, for example, which they do too, they avoid passing verdicts and giving sentences too). And as consciousness seems to be related to reasoning, it is quite pertinent to assume that its voice does resound inside brainy people. And isn’t consciousness mostly kindness? It is the vibrating echo that stings you when you’re about to make a mistake, the one that makes your limbs shake with dread as you make it, the one that stabs you with pangs of remorse after you make it. Thus, kindness to intelligent creatures (seems to me) is mostly a matter of deliberate choice.
Conclusively, I truly don’t want to come across as hypocrite after having stated, clearly and eloquently, my suffrage above, but I so far have noticed that:
a) kindness is more valuable than intelligence;
b) some fools can be kind;
c) some intelligent people aren’t kind;
d) most kind people are also intelligent;
e) kindness is a personal choice depending mostly on consciousness, and the voice of the latter is clearly present in the clever and vaguely absent in the stupid.