Sunday, June 27, 2010

Irresistible Force, Immovable Objects

What makes us fall in love?

Is it the way we see ourselves reflected in their eyes? Or the way we think they're really the grand prize?

It’s a serious question, and even now I'm still no better at telling which couple will last and who will fade away. How some love affairs can turn out so right, get better, grow onwards and upwards, and others just be disastrous.

Is it timing, desire, desperation, fate, optimism, wishful thinking, destiny, chemistry, a witches’ brew of all the above plus a bit of Oh What The Hell They’re Available thrown in? What makes me adore my husband but – as far as you know – not yours? What makes you look across a crowded room and go Ooooh and Yumm and Yowza but makes your best friend think Nahhhhh and Huhhh and You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me? I think it’s fascinating, this falling-in-love-thing, especially when it works. When the person you live with is also your best friend, best critic, greatest confidante. And the reason you’re with them isn’t because it’s too laborious to get a divorce but because they honestly present you with the best version of yourself.

Or they don’t. Like so many women Marilyn Monroe wanted to be loved not as a joke or a body or a hair color, but as a full human being. In Arthur Miller’s eyes she thought he saw the best of her, the total sum of her parts. But he saw only what he wanted to see: an angelic creature that looked up to him unashamedly, a child-bride of adoration. He wanted perfection. She wanted the warmth of a safe sanctuary. Several people told her that Miller was the coldest man they’d ever known. No woman, not even a living breathing electric light, can melt ice.

But sometimes it's not really love, is it? It's more...that the bad, the wrong, the lousy can look so damn appealing. We can change them, we know we can! Sure they're horrible to other women, but other women aren't me! We are the moths and they are the flame and we mistake that burning sensation for something more eloquent. Something eternal and gorgeous and true. But bad stays bad. And moths keep beating at the door, the firelight, wings broken, fragile and impossible to stop.

Albert Einstein (who knew he was also a genius of relationships?) said this: Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably both are disappointed.

Do we all do this, whoever we are? Is it inevitable, and is he right? - JC

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ah, now this is something to be excited for. David Fincher's newest film comes out in October. The Social Network...about that social network.
First preview in July.
First poster - right here.
Look at the design - so smart, so brilliant, completely viral, elegantly alligned with both fb's look and the new iPad as well. So simple, really, but I would have never thought of it.
And the line - fantastic.
Does Facebook steal your soul? Or does it just rent it for awhile, along with your every status update, photo-op, message to the masses that one hoped was actually private? Fincher + Aaron Sorkin on our complete loss of privacy sounds like 'Seven' without the blood. Wait. There will be blood. It will just be the internal, lusting, egotastic kind. And yes, it has a Facebook page.
- Janet

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In that vein...

Janet, thanks so much for that. I am reminded that we live in a bigger world. That there are more voices than our own. And what a relief really.

Some time last year, NPR ran a story about how many foreign authors Americans are missing out on. The list was as follows. I've read some of these, other not. And obviously it's not a complete list by any means; just an idea of where to start scratching the tip of the iceberg. Mind blowing, really, that the world is not as flat as we tend to think. I can highly recommend The Yacoubian Building whose author is now vying, according to an Egyptian friend of mother for office in Egypt and who has the establishment quite "bothered." And nothing can beat that title: What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire." I share them with you now.


Victor Pelevin, The Sacred Book of Werewolf and Buddha's Little Finger.

Boris Akunin, The Winter Queen

Ludmila Ulitskaya, The Funeral Party


Ismail Kadare, The Three-Arched Bridge and

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost (Read Excerpt)


Imre Kertesz, Fateless, The Pathseeker (Read Excerpt).


Antonio Lobo Antunes, What Can I Do When Everything's on Fire?


Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses


Naguib Mahfouz, The Thief and the Dogs, (Read Excerpt)

Muhammad Yusuf Quayd, War in the Land of Egypt

Alaa Al Aswany, The Yacoubian Building


Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle


Carlos Fuentes, The Death of Artemio Cruz

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rest in Peace

One of the greatest novelists in the world died today.
Jose Saramago was 87 and 'great novelist' doesn't do enough to define him. An outspoken activist who despised dictators, cruelty, and apathy in almost equal measure, he won the Nobel prize for literature in 1998. It wasn't until he was in his 50's that he begun to devote his life to fiction, and his novels are pure, gorgeous, emotional gold. 'Blindness', 'Baltasar and Blimunda', 'The Gospel According to Jesus Christ', 'The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis', 'All the Names', and my own favorite, 'The Cave', all speak not only to his deep imagination but his even deeper humanity, irony and wit. He could make you laugh and cry in the same sentence. He always, without exception, made you think. Not that long ago he delivered a much-lauded speech where he described globalization as the new totalitarianism and 'lamented contemporary democracy's failure to stem the increasing powers of multinational corporations.'
Increasing powers of multinational corporations? Yes, we see it everywhere.
There's one in particular who's taken their absolute power all the way to the bottom of the sea, and who broke the whole f'ing Gulf Coast 60 days ago. And for each one of those 60 long, lost, killing days they've been allowed to 'fix it'.
Jose Saramago must have detested this as much as I do. And I wonder if he wondered: if it were Bush in charge and this was happening, wouldn't there be more outrage? Much, much more outrage?
Rest in Peace, wonderful writer. -- Janet

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby, Beautiful

When we were in Sardinia we met the most wonderful guy. Actually, to be honest, we met a whole gaggle, or goggle, or whatever noun makes sense, of terrifically great & fun & gorgeously great people but Filippo, that's his name, he stands out. Yes there's Myla, his part-human part-Husky part-raccoon all-unforgettable dog (as if there weren't enough of those in the world). And there's the fact that he that dropped his life and his work to take us around the island and show us gorgeous things both great and small, including Mussolini's summer house and an Agritourismo that served an 11 course vegetarian dinner that felt like 102 courses in one body-numbing row. Delicious.
But what it really was is that we felt like we knew him. Had known him for years. Liked what he liked. Felt as he felt.
And that shorthand that comes into play? We all have it.
You meet someone in line at the coffee place & instantly like them.
You run into somebody at the Cuban place next to the bookstore and feel like you've known them for 15 years.
People when you least expect it who renew your faith in mankind again. And for an hour you forget that BP exists, that the war(s) go on, that not everything is peachy or keen.
So. Anyway.
Filippo, that's his name. He posted this photo on Facebook. This baby in his hand. This bundle of freaking gorgeous unbelievable who-needs-cartoons-give-me-one-I-want-to-cry fluff. If someone knows something more amazing, please, send it in. With this, I believe in miracles. Charlotte, over to you.