Book as a collage .. with lots of interesting questions to ponder about
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..
View all my reviews
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 🙂
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
“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..
- 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.
Очень мне понравилась книга Леонида Соловьева “Повесть о Ходже Насреддине: Возмутитель спокойствия”. Еще больше захотелось съездить попутешествовать по Узбекистану. Самарканд уже очень давно будоражил воображение. После просмотра фильма The Desert of Forbidden Art, очень хочется попасть в музей в Нукусе. И теперь, после прочтения книги, очень хочется посетить Бухару…
Но торопливость, как известно, есть свойство дьявола, и, кроме того, всем памятны стихи мудрейшего шейха Саади Ширазского: “Только терпеливый закончит дело, торопливый же упадет”. Ходжа Насреддин свернул ковер нетерпения и уложил его в сундук ожидания.
The Person Who Emerges
Openness to Experience
… individual becomes more open to his experience..
if the evidence of our senses runs contrary to our picture of self, then that evidence is distorted -> we cannot see all that our senses report, but only the things which fit the picture we have.
the individual becomes more openly aware of his own feelings and attitudes as they exist in him at an organic level – he also becomes more aware of reality as it exists outside of himself… he is able to take in the evidence in a new situation, as it is, rather than distorting it to fit a pattern which he already holds.
openness to experience = more realistic in dealing with new people, new situations, new problems; … his beliefs are not rigid, that one can tolerate ambiguity.
Rereading Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull as a good reminder for “Find what it is you want most in the world to do – and then do it.”
Practice it every day. Experiment. Strive to know “what I can do in the air and what I can’t” – “there is so much to learn!” And through practicing this art of being who we really are we feel alive, “trembling ever so slightly with delight” and we let go of fear. Once we find what is it that we want the most, we feel power, joy, pure beauty and “how much more there is to living!”
Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull’s life is so short, and with these gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed.
On perfection and being there:
You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.
… To fly as fast as thought, to go anywhere that is, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived…
The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time.
It always works, when you know what you’re doing.
On kindness and love
… and then you will be ready to begin the most difficult, the most powerful, the most fun of all. You will be ready to begin to fly up and know the meaning of kindness and of love.
“Jonathan, keep working on love”
And the more Jonathan practiced his kindness lessons, and the more he worked to know the nature of love, the more he wanted to go back to Earth. For in spite of his lonely past, Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself.
If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all the we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice?”
Chapter 6 – What It Means to Become a Person
108/ I know that the problem as stated in the first interview will not be the problem as seen in the second or third hour, and by the tenth interview it will be a still different problem or series of problems.
It seems to me that at bottom each person is asking, “Who am I, really? How can I get in touch with this real self, underlying all my surface behavior? How can I become myself?”
Memory: the space in which a thing happens for the second time.
~ Paul Auster
The Book of Memory
Back in February 2017 I was reading Paul Aster’s: The Book of Memory and many things there have triggered my own memories and interpretations. Somehow it really triggered particular memories from one of the places we used to live in Riga. Maybe because it was the longest time ever I lived in one place without moving – for 15 years we managed to stay in one place. Otherwise it was and still is a constant change.
Memory as a room…