If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller – Italo Calvino

We live in a world in which our perceptibility of reality, its acute awareness, and tireless influence are embraced as if canvassed across the night sky in a spectacle of lights. Marking your own bearings on such a sky takes a lifetime.

Every star, every imprint has a gleaming light of its own; a deep and intense light. This intensity keeps changing for those who are still on earth because they look at it differently. Some look at the stars in hope, some in anguish, some in euphoria. But do we wonder if anybody is looking back at us from above? The effulgence of light manifesting a ‘telluric’ quality of sorts.

And do we then derive our passions, loves, and fervor from the energy of lights? Standing under them, one after another, embracing all its ethereal traits. The multiple voices of a thousand and more lives. The language that resonates most with our inner voice. We hear it in whispers, taste it in nondescript flavors, and see it through the eyes of our soul.

Consider Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller as a trove of those voices. It remedies the ragged edges of reality. It reclaims the unattainable in dreams, the impossibilities in feeling, and the unimaginable in expression.

The path this luminous book takes is idiosyncratic in that it has many truths and many identities. It stations you into a world no one yet knows is. Invading your mind, soul, and whole concrete being. Calvino perfectly describes the uncertainty, the murkiness, the anticipation which compels a reader to read a new book. And how each time you read, you experience the self that is you, the reader.


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Memories of My Melancholy Whores – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The truth is that every book, and in it every story, holds in its imagination a dream. The dream demands truthfulness from its reality. Separating, by a thin veil, the person hanging on to reality for clarity and the person relying on the lucidity of dreams for intense, unforeseen love.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is the exploration of the lacunae between both worlds. It’s moving, crisp, and soul-rendering. The words ignite and wander in the land of nostalgia, love, and mortality. Reclaiming you as its solitudinous voyager, its narrator, and impersonator.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s words aren’t a measure at all. They burst forth into the recesses of a melancholic and lonely life. The book chronicles the fullness and emptiness of such a life. And soaring from its pages is the transparency of what returns to life over and over again. Tightening the threads of time strung together by mortality. The ending is the fulfillment of an unfulfilled life. The beginning of the resurrection of one.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is about the incomplete and restless relationship of love and time. The depth of the right love met at the wrong time. And the fragility of a love that never returned when it should have. Perhaps love never does fit one like a glove. Love is time’s revenge upon death. And its own extinction.


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Man And His Symbols – Carl G. Jung

The waking of life isn’t a conventional phenomenon. It’s a thin veil that often presses up against our dreaming state. And sometimes, for us, to see through is to entertain the possibility (and yet uncertainty) that we could be viewing life from either side of it. That is, telescoping a vision of (and for life) while being conscious or otherwise.

And the tool to help you realize this process, this state of being, is this book. Books belonging to this genre may seem overwhelming to follow; especially when it’s such an intense and introspective line of thinking.

But the Man and his Symbols by Carl G. Jung is the first that doesn’t. In it, you will read about symbolism, unconscious thinking, conscious breathing, and the realization of archetypes.

After reading Four Archetypes by Carl G. Jung, Man and his Symbols appears to me as reality-reclaiming and the surest hope for transcending inward. That the ‘resistance’ one often feels before steering the mind away from external reality and toward the inner realm which is the opposite of chaotic and distracting is meaningful. So that ‘resistance’ is as powerful as the realization of one’s ego and its exertions into our unconscious and conscious manifestations.

When I say unconscious and conscious manifestations, I don’t mean the ones that awaken instantaneously. The ones that we feel compelled to respond to. The layered reality of both positive and negative emotions. Some manifestations are more symbolic and emotionally-charged than we think. And these are the ones that harness a person’s soul and influence his/her decisions.

The book – rich and deeply intelligent – is an enjoyable and gratifying read. You understand the secrets of life, the soul, its shadow, and the interconnectedness of it all. To read it is to realize that we draw more from our inner being to insist on a more comfortable outer reality. But denying the realization to this subliminal space is a way to breathe only half completely.


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…That Is Why I Write (Poem #12)

I’ve forgotten how to look at the sky
to separate the clouds
and greet birds as they pass by.

I’ve lost my essence
in a stack of hay
its edges shaper than a needle’s
forgotten and thrown away.

I’ve given up on dreaming
and on the restful sleep that it allows
for if they still persist
I don’t think I’d want to come back around.

I’m a kite without a string
or a string without its kite
the whole of me still incomplete
maybe that is why I write.

On the Nature of the Psyche – Carl G. Jung

A quick read that sketches a primordial quality of the human psyche. How can we know if we exist? Does imagination weave together this body, this mind, this projection of an inner self which stretches outside and takes control of reality?

The relevancy of this book… the fabric it’s made of… is banal. A book I’d recommend to everyone to read at least once. Complement its standpoint, its philosophy, with the help of other books of a similar nature.

While the history of the world exists. The chronological aspect of the mind is held intricately together by such works. It’s brutal, immersive, electrifying. Its effect is of one standing in front of a mirror, as if for the very first time, unable to recognize the patterns that emerge. The gradations, the mystery, the creases. It’s real but it isn’t. Your psyche breeds your existence. So when it’s lost, do you drown and recede into oblivion?


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Madame Bovary – Gustav Flaubert

Love, like the innocence of childhood, evolves as one does in a society held tightly by the strings of convention and patriarchy. Though these ties are faint and may often feel inconsequential, which is more in keeping with that of Madame Bovary’s atmosphere. Gustave Flaubert’s classic feels intricately profound and courageous.

The details are felt rather than read. The characters surrounding Emma feed her ambitions to life. Her psyche which is emotionally loaded compromises the scope of empathy. And it grows as the story progresses. It’s a fable tale about the capacity of love and its depletion by a bad conscience.

The story knows what it’s bound by. And as its roots deepen in that soil, the life of Emma, of Charles, of “Bovary” becomes multi-faceted and sentient. It’s not tragic that one should love where it’s never granted and that that love remains unfulfilled. What is tragic is the memory of love. The re-living of its familiarity, intimacy, and the inevitable maturity of that sentiment. A love that completes itself by its incompleteness.

Madame Bovary has structure, cadence, and grit. It has elements of sanity as clear as day. And of insanity as mysterious as a riddle wrapped in an enigma.


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The Hateful Eight (2015) – Quentin Tarantino

A bold and cruel movie, The Hateful Eight comes off as unhinged and even provocative. Quentin makes a conscious effort to show it just as it’s named: hateful. Though the violence and graphic display of blood and brains seemed a little over-the-top, the movie does comprise of a few noteworthy scenes.

It’s slow-paced, at first, and sort of ambiguous in its expression. But it does quicken once you get to know the characters and their temperament. It’s the kind of film that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Not because of Tarantino as a filmmaker, but the characters themselves compel you to anticipate a disastrous and defining ending.

The dialogue and the screen time that each character shares. The way the camera captures every facial twitch just in time to build suspense. All your anticipations about the film evaporate through nasty provocations and oftentimes unpleasant slurs. You know it’s about to come to an end but you’ve got to know how.

The cinematography, though confined to a cramped cabin, is stimulating. The film reads like a book with talks about the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s letter, and Maj. Marquis Warren’s savageness. Tarantino leaves nothing to guesswork. It’s a story about how a group of men use words under the same light as artillery, in order to kill and be killed.

Irreversible (2003) – Gaspar Noe

By refusing to follow through in a chronological format, Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible deflects one’s perspective on violence, sex, and crime in films. The film is frank, explicit, and ironically, reversible in every sense. It has structure, definition, and motive in both ways. Though watching it irreversibly, or as it is, is undoubtedly more cerebral.

The film places plenty of emphasis on expression. Expression by sound, light, and the spaces in between. It’s fast-paced, all-pervading, and unwatchable. Never have I seen such a repulsive film with such strong a message; that violence, when seen through the lens of revenge, is ugly and non-censored.

And the crime, which is one of the most disturbing scenes of the film, manifests as physical pain, unflinchingly felt, through spasms and bouts of shock, disgust, and anger. You’re cornered to a point of no return where what is at stake is how much you can endure and if you do watch every second of the film, there’s no way to recover from what you’ve just seen.

Irreversible recoils in time. It possesses extremity in sight, sound, and rhythm. It lacks the blurriness that we’re generally conditioned to in films and so the cinematography really puts one in an uncomfortable spot. It argues what reality can be when denied of its televised and printed privilege. That one can’t exploit crime when it’s right in front of you. So what if a film makes it moral – without allowing you to shut your eyes.

Spirited Away (2002) – Hayao Miyazaki

Spirited Away is considered as Hayao Miyazaki’s magnum opus. It strips quintessential animated films of its emphatically exaggerated genre. While Miyazaki brings this film a little more down to earth; embracing a mystical and profound manner. The film draws its essence from its monumental conception. The stringing together of microscopic elements; a brilliant stroke of genius in imagination and creativity.

Spirited Away considers the universe as it is. And that is in its infinitesimal and varied format. It’s a film about sensibility, empathy, and philanthropy. A reverie which reflects the generous aspects of human nature up against the most repulsive. Untranslated feelings, a dictionary of characters, and lyrical affectations later, this film holds its lighthearted tone from beginning to end.

If you allow it, this film can fill you up with a sense of whimsy and wonder. Sometimes explicitly, sometimes in whisperings, and sometimes in anguish. Spirited Away has a way with both its characters and words. It’s like paying attention to the night sky spotted with stars; each star demands attention so you can never forget their luminous glow even if it’s not a part of this world… or yours.

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes

Only a few memories in life want to be remembered. And the remaining seeps into our consciousness; partly forgotten and without much effort, they rise to the occasion when we least expect them to. Is that what memories entail? And how do we place them, at the end of the day, behind closed eyes?

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes feels too close to the heart. A quick read, no doubt, for the most part, this book is a figure of philosophical reverie. A reverie that shies away when we first see it, but it slowly unravels and defines itself. All you have to do is give in. There’s a lot to reminisce in between the small details that the book brings to the surface. It follows the thoughts of a soul whose estimation of the world is personal and sentimental enough to leave behind as a legacy.

Immersed in its time, the book’s sensibility is not hard to grasp. After all, when old age inquires about its youth, wouldn’t we all instantly deepen the pool of our essence with every drop of memory. And cast a net over all our clarifying, saddening, and comforting moments. The Sense of an Ending embodies such an effort; deeply satisfying, resilient, and redemptive.


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