One night in February


Photo & Editing: artaquis

#tbt: Once night in February

One night in February, after I had followed my never resting thoughts for way too long, I decided to do what I had been wanting to do for days, no, for weeks, and prepared to take a walk. I promised myself to only take paths that were illuminated by lamps. For safety reasons. And safety gives freedom for creativity.
So I was walking down the street, passing the houses that I pass nearly every day when driving the car, passing the lamps. At the end of the road I turned left and passed houses that I normally don’t pass that often. Past one of the big paddocks, past the farm that sells firewood and during advent season Christmas trees. Here I made a halt and wondered whether I should walk on or turn around and go back. Because the dead end before me attracted me somehow and because I realized that I have never walked it until the end, I decided to follow this feeling and to walk the path between the riding stable and the paddocks. While I was walking and dwelling on thoughts, the typical scent of horses came into my nose. I turned my head to the right and let my glance wander over the paddocks and behind them I saw the houses that I pass every morning by bus. How peacefully they were lying there, those houses with their warm lights. After having passed the extensive buildings of the riding stable, my glance fell upon an old wall and trees covering a house that stood behind. Shortly afterwards I came across the illuminated driveway to that house and that was exactly the moment where I stopped and wondered “Isn’t that what everybody is wishing for? A house in a country side like area but still not too far away from the city? A little house in an area that resembles the landscape in ‘Midsomer Murders’ and when you lift your glance a bit you can see the distant city lights? Wouldn’t this be the perfect location to live in? Finding contemplation in your little house, lying quiet beside a paddock and green fields, calmness in its pure variation and when you feel the need to get in touch with people, feel that hectic life in a city where you sometimes seem to be anonymous and sometimes just too well known by the people you meet, you just walk some minutes, take the next bus and there you are, in that beautiful, dirty, loud, pretty, familiar city of mixed odours, mixed impressions, mixed audiences, mixed shops, mixed feelings and mixed thoughts. How come that I never realized the beauty of this area so much? How come that there are paths directly beside me and still I’ve never walked them before? How can I pass all this beauty and tranquillity without even really perceiving it? Did the hectic of the city dull me so much that I had become unaware of what was going on right next to me? Does it really matter? Now I am here and this moment is just here to be enjoyed, the air is just here to be inhaled and this feeling is just here to help me find contemplation and get my restless mind sorted again.“
I walked further on, letting my glance wander around the paddocks, the green fields, the quiet houses with their illuminated windows until I finally came to the end of the dead end. Here I turned around and stood there for a while, letting all these odours, the fresh breeze, the picture of the sky with stars and everything that I perceived in that moment enter my soul. Then I slowly made my way back the road that had led me to the dead end. Past the illuminated driveway of the house that lies behind an old wall and trees, past the riding stable, past the farm that sells firewood, past the paddocks. After thinking about taking a different way back home, I decided to walk back on my own trail, a bit like a dog. Well, it wasn’t a real decision, but I just did what my inner feeling told me. So I walked past the houses that I normally don’t pass that often, looking around the green meadows and the houses and the small street with parked cars on it. As I walked further on, I watched my own feet making one step after the other, I examined the pavement as I walked on it further and further on. Shortly before the junction where I had turned left before, my look fell upon a small ball lying on the pavement. A small pink and green ball.
As I lifted my head again after having stared on that ball for minutes, my eyes were filled with tears. And out of a sudden a thought entered my mind. “You are not dead! How could you be dead when I still carry you with me in my heart in every step I take, in every decision I make, in everything I do, in everything I am? You are not dead! How could you? How could somebody dare to tell me you are dead when I feel you with me every day? When I can see you in my dreams? When I’m talking to you right now? How could you be dead then? That is ridiculous! You. Are. Not. Dead.!
How could somebody ever tell that somebody is dead? Nobody is ever really dead as long as there are people remembering this person. As long as there are memories, as long as there are photographs, as long as there are texts, diary entries, poems, stories, little notes and emotions that trace back the existence of that person, this person can’t be dead! As long as there are memories shared at a table, as long as there are conversations about that passed away person, as long as the texts are read and the photographs are watched, as long as the memorizing heart is beating and the missing tears are flooding, you can’t be dead! Isn’t that an amazing idea? How about building a house and making a room for everyone you love, designed with all the things this person is attached to? A room for mother, filled with books and green plants, with mild music and everything she loves. But wait, no, just one room for one person wouldn’t really fit to the existence of that person. This room has to be linked to another room, to the room of somebody this first person is attached to. And how you build this house doesn’t matter, whether it is done in texts or photographs, in paintings, in thoughts, in memories or really built as a small model of a big life. As long as there is a trace of your existence, you can’t be dead! Shakespeare isn’t dead, Wilde isn’t dead, Woolf and Austen are not dead because their works are still read, their biographies are still discussed, their works are still analysed, still read and people talk about them, have discussions, fall in love with them and become fans. How can Shakespeare, Wilde and Woolf be dead when the trace of their existence is still so present and vivid today? Isn’t that what every author is wishing for? Immortality.”

Gina Laventura © 2012

Taking a shower

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar


Photo & Edtiing: GOTOX, 2011

Today a result from a writing exercise I had to do in one of my courses.
Basically the exercise was this: Normally you handle adjectives and comparisons carefully, just like stereotypes, but this time, think about something that you did today and try to compare it to anything and use many adjectives. Exaggeration helps to become aware of stylistic devices.

Taking a shower

This morning I woke up and my back was hurting like hell. I felt as if I had been run down by a lorry.
I knew the only suitable pain relief I could get was a hot shower, so I took my towels and my peeling gloves which remind me of goose-bumps on a shivering body when I touch them and opened my door which made a similar shrieking noise like me after having noticed the severe pain in my back. I tiptoed over the blue carpet that was leading my way to the shower from one edge of the hallway to the other just like those tunnel visions people have when they are about to die. I could even see the white light at the end of the corridor. While I was tiptoeing the blue carpet tickled my feet and it felt as comfortable as the grass did back in my childhood days when I ran across the green of our back garden.
When I finally reached the bathroom door I opened it as quiet as I could to not be reminded of that shrieking sound again. I entered the shower room and closed the door, put my towels on the doorknob and started undressing myself like in slow motion. Although for me it felt as if I was moving like an old woman who was suffering from some severe disease, I imagined myself as undressing with a sexy slowness as if I was about to seduce somebody with this striptease. I let my clothes drop like leafs of a tree in autumn and entered the shower. Then I shut the door and despite the fact that this shower room is more reminiscent of a cabin in a psychiatric clinic and unsuitable for claustrophobics, I just felt protected like a pearl in a shell.
I turned on the hot water and let it run down my aching body, stretched my arms and reached on tiptoes for the top of the shower door in a position that reminded me of some random BDSM story where the victim is tied up, about to being whipped.

Gina Laventura © 2012

funny anecdote: I read this story out loud in class and my lecturer said “Well, your story seems to work as all the boys, the further you went in your story, blushed and started watching their feet.”

Book recommendation: The English Patient

Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf Deutsch verfügbar

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Sometimes you are forced to read a book, in school, in university or by a friend who dearly wants you to read it so that they have someone they can share their reading experience with.
This was how it was with me and The English Patient, because I had to read it for one of my uni courses and afterwards I was glad I had to because otherwise I would never have encountered this masterpiece.
Besides the fact that concerning literary analysis you can find a million interesting things in it, like the question of identity, postcolonial aspects and stylistic devices and other things, this book is an absolut treasure, filled with extraordinary linguistic devices and with a narrative perspective I haven’t encountered in any other book before.

What’s it about?
“The final curtain is closing on the Second World War, and Hana, a nurse, stays behind in an abandoned Italian villa to tend to her only remaining patient. Rescued by Bedouins from a burning plane, he is English, anonymous, damaged beyond recognition and haunted by his memories of passion and betrayal. The only clue Hana has to his past is the one thing he clung on to through the fire – a copy of The Histories by Herodotus, covered with hand-written notes describing a painful and ultimately tragic love affair.” (the blurb on the back cover)

The occurring characters who meet in the abandoned villa are all very different, yet everyone of them has a story to tell.
The way in which Ondaatje uses and works with language, the characters’ dialogues that not only work on a spoken level but also on a level of action, the communication between the characters, but also what is communicated to the reader, is unique.
To my mind this author is a true artist who understands to work with language and to create a distant landscape in a time that is distant or at least far away from us as younger readers, without creating a distance between the work and the reader.

The film
Generally it is quite rare that people like films when they know the book, because on the one hand one and a half or two hours are too little a time span to cover the density of a book, on the other hand one gets specific pictures of the characters and the surroundings, whereas while reading you create them yourself.
Here also changes were made, which I do not consider representative when knowing the book, but if you watch the movie without relating it directly to the book, it’s an epos with beautiful pictures of the landscape and it also takes the audience onto a journey, just in a different way than the book.
Although it’s rare, this time, it’s a movie I’d recommend, but with bearing in mind that it has to be watched without directly relating it to the book.

If you have already read the book or if you do it soon, I’d be happy if you shared your opinion and your reading experience with me 🙂

My favourite quotes:
“I believe this. When we meet those we fall in love with, there is an aspect of our spirit that is historian, a bit of a pedant, who imagines or remembers a meeting when the other had passed by innocently, just as Clifton might have opened a car door for you a year earlier and ignored the fate of his life. But all parts of the body must be ready for the other, all atoms must jump in one direction for desire to occur.”

“You have to protect yourself from sadness. Sadness is very close to hate. Let me tell you this. This is the thing I learned. If you take in someone else’s poison – thinking you can cure them by sharing it – you will instead store it within you.”

“Those who weep lose more energy than they lose during any other act.”

“I left you because I knew I could never change you. You would stand in the room so still sometimes, so wordless sometimes, as if the greatest betrayal of yourself would be to reveal one more inch of your character.”