Reading: Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Enigmatic read. Stories like her Polaroid photographs, collaged together.
Sometimes I am loosing touch with what I am reading, because I am taken on my own journey by her musings and by her melancholic voice. It is like a reading meditation.. it’s lovely to get lost in your own garden of thoughts in such a way..

7/ .. some guy with a greasy ponytail leaned over and puked on my boots. The last gasp of 2015, a spray of vomit ushering in the New Year. A good or bad sign? Well, considering the state of the world, who could tell the difference?”

Always amazed how much she reads! In every of her books I discover some new authors that I mark for myself “to read”..

While reading this personal account of 2016, was thinking back of my own version of it. The Time Perspective conference in Copenhagen.. recently over various conversations was transported back into that year and the one that followed it, 2017.. Both were turbulent in different ways, but also with pockets of very peaceful times and places. Lots of travels, dancing, drawing and painting, beginning of the musical journey as well..

42/ .. book he’d set on the table, Pascal’s Arithmetical Triangle
– Are you reading that? I asked
– You don’t read books like that, you absorb them..

I think I absorb books by Patti Smith more, than I read them..

20/ “the trouble with dreaming is that one can be drawn into a mystery that is no mystery at all, occasioning absurd observations and discourse leading to not a single reality-based conclusion.”

Theme of the dreams and dreaming – echoes in me every time, and my project on the topic somehow finds its way into other people’s books. I keep on thinking of dreams and dreaming described in The Khazar’s Lexicon by Milorad Pavic.. still entertaining the idea of making illustrations to some of those passages.. dreams travelling from people to people and through time.. my Dream Guardians project that started in 2017 about the goddess that dreams the world and we should not disturb her sleep if we don’t want out world to disappear.. and mysteries and melancholy that permeates Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book..

31/ .. – let’s say they were real, does being inserted by Bolano within a work of fiction render them fiction?
– the writer must know his characters so well that he can access the content of their dreams…
– who creates the dream? …

79/ I notice that my own tears burn my eyes, that I am no longer a fast runner and that my sense of time seems to accelerating.
Marcus Aurelius “Meditations”: Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to live”. .. he asks us to note the passing time with open eyes..

80/ The Game of Havoc: Havoc, an uppercase game with a lowercase deity, spelling nothing but trouble for the unwary participant. One finds himself assailed with components of a dreadful equation… … unsuspecting Dorothy in a hypnotic fields of Oz..

82/ My logic may have been full of holes but so was Wonderland.
The hare presided over an endless tea party, as calculable time had been slain long before the party began. It was the Hatter who did the slaying, spreading his arms and singing the immutable Wonderland theme.
When Johnny Depp embraced the role of the Hatter he too was drawn into this multiplicity of being and ceased to be just Johnny.
Will we die a little?

78-79/ Ten thousand years or ten thousand days, nothing can stop time, or change the fact that I would be turning seventy in the Year of the Monkey. Seventy. Merely a number but one indicating the passing of a significant percentage of the allotted sand in an egg timer, with oneself the darn egg. The grains pour and I find myself missing the dead more than usual.

Lots of existential themes in this small passage: time, getting older – changes in own body, death and dying, loosing close friends and relationships, aloneness.. in Yalom’s words: “the inevitability of death for each of us and for those we love.. our ultimate aloneness..” My mom turned seventy in 2019.. very similar discussions we had with her, especially about “missing the dead”..

122/ Cammy and Ernest and Jesus and the blonde, all characters in an alternative reality, black-and-white cutouts in a Technicolor world. .. A world that in itself was nothing, yet seemed to contain an answer for every unutterable question in early winter’s impossible play. ..

170/ not exactly a telescope but an instrument of beyondness.

175/ standing our ground with mental plow, burdened with the task to stay balanced in these unbalanced times..
– > I find this is still relevant although Smith mentions that this book might seem irrelevant years after all of the events of 2016 and 2020. But 2022 is even more unbalanced, and we are even more burdened with the task to stay balanced and standing our ground with the mental plow..





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Books in my life

What Am I Reading Now – February 2022

I often read a few things in parallel. Currently it is:

  • Irvin D. Yalom & Ginny Elkin: Every Day Gets a Little Closer: A Twice-Told Therapy – an interesting account of therapy sessions recollected both by the therapist and the client. I’m about 1/3 through with the book. Reads easy, but I have to make stops to process the process that is happening there. Yalom has been always associating first with the existential therapy for me.
  • Oliver Sacks: Awakenings – collection of cases of how people who were victims of the 1920s encephalitis lethargica epidemic were treated with the new drug at the time – L-DOPA. Gives an insight about the specifics of the perception of time among people with Parkinsonism and many other things.
  • Michel Foucault: Maladie mentale et personnalité – I’m reading it in Russian. But interestingly intersects with what Oliver Sacks writes about the influence of the institution on the personality. I’m half way through the book and made quite a few notes, and also noted quite a few other books that I would like to read. One of them has already arrived: R.D.Laing: The Divided Self.
  • M.I.Finley: The World of Odysseus – I’ve been always fascinated by the ancient history, but also the adventure novels – I’ve read Homer’s Odyssey, and then R.Halliburton’s The Glorious Adventure – an almost contemporary try to revisit all the places Odyssey went. Am curious to see what the historian will tell me about it.
  • Henry H. Hart: Venetian Adventurer: Being an Account of the Life and Times and of the Book of Messer Marco Polo – reading it in Russian. Another interesting travelling around character and the world around him 🙂

Books in my life

Reading: A Matter of Identity by Oliver Sacks

We have, each of us, a life story, an inner narrative – whose continuity, whose sense, is our lives. It might be said that each of us constructs and lives a ‘narrative’, and that this narrative is us, our identities.

If we wish to know about a man, we ask, ‘what is his story – his real, inmost story?’ – for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, though, and in us – through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives – we are each of us unique.

To be ourselves we must have ourselves – posses, if needed be re-possess, our life-stories. We must ‘recollect’ ourselves, recollect the inner drama, the narrative, of ourselves. A man needs such a narrative, a continuous inner narrative, to maintain his identity, his self.

Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, p. 116-117

Books in my life

Reading: Event by Slavoj Žižek

“What is really happening when something happens?” says on the book cover.. The notion of “event” has been on my mind since the discussion this February during the Psychological Winter School organized yearly by the Saint-Petersburg State University. Which was an event on its own. It was 20st consecutive edition of the Winter School and during one of the workshops we had a super interesting discussion on what is an event? …

Therefore I was thrilled to see this book in a London book shop, and hence the journey of discovering an event has begun.

All Aboard – Event in Transit

1/ Event can refer to a devastating natural disaster or to the latest celebrity scandal, the triumph of the people or a brutal political change, an intense experience of a work of art or an intimate decision…

2/ Something shocking, out of joint, that appears to happen all of a sudden and interrupts the usual flow of things; something that emerges seemingly out of nowhere, without discernible causes, an appearance without solid being as its foundation.

.. something ‘miraculous’ in an event..

Examples:

  • eventual nature of Christianity – belief in the event of the death and resurrection of Christ;
  • love is eventual;
  • political event – Tahrir Square in Cairo and Mubarak regime;
  • rise of a new art form: film noir.

3 / Event – the effect that seems to exceed its causes, space of an event is that which opens up by the gap that separates an effect from its causes.

4 / Event – an occurrence not grounded in sufficient reasons.

5/ Event of the disclosure of Being – of the horizon of meaning which determines how we perceive and relate to reality (Heidegger). Big Bang (or broken symmetry) – the primordial event out of which our entire universe emerged.

These words brought me back to the Existential Analysis course I’m currently taking, where we also discussing the philosophy of Dasein, and where the exchange with the world is essential – how do we have this dialogue, both as an inner one and external one.

Is an event a change in the way reality appears to us, or is it a shattering transformation of reality itself?

Event – Slavoj Zizek

I find this question to be a very inspiring one.. was musing over it for some time.. came to think that it’s probably both, these are interconnected things..

6/ Basic feature of an event: the surprising emergence of something new which undermines every stable scheme.

Books in my life