Thursday, October 28, 2010

Unfinished Reading I: Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen


(In which I realized that the darkness within a family fiction doesn’t really suit me.)


***

Although we were reminded not to judge a book by its cover, I often do. Look. Who wouldn’t love the blackness and the blueness and the drama of an iris? Now, you get the point.

But as soon as you found out that the title suggests bruises and that it’s about an eye that watches and searches and another that watches and hides, you just know you’re in for some depressing psychological read. Which is actually not bad. Until you realize that you’d rather not read at all than be submerged in depression one hot, sunny afternoon.

The first flips of Anna Quindlen’s Black and Blue seemed a promising relationship between my eyes and the paper. Frannie, the nurse who got beat up by her husband sounded real, along with her pains and fears and her attempt to normalize a family that is actually rotten in the core. She put up with the physical abuse and the rape and covered the black-and-blue marks everyday with makeup and lived “normally”. Until she realized she could take no more. Then she sought help from a woman in an agency whose job is to find ways on how a victim of domestic violence could “disappear” in the hopes of living a new life. She brought her son, Robert, with her and lived with a new name, made new friends in a new neighborhood miles away from her husband. But the tragedy that haunted her doesn’t make her any distant from the nightmare. And every day she lived with utmost care and paranoiac in fear of being discovered by the man she once loved but now she chose to run away from.

Yes, and that’s half of the novel. Some run-on sentences and sporadic recollections that drove me crazy. But as I said, it’s not really bad. We all have our preferences. Perhaps it’s just because I’m not into novels about dysfunctional families with plots that run like a Jennifer Lopez movie.

But life goes on. In this case, reading does. Besides, there are more art fictions to read.



Currently reading

The God of Spring by Arabella Edge







Photo Source:


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Verses by Funandfearless: Zildjian II


(In which we work for survival.)

***


With stabbing bluntness of truth
from honest lips and a heart
so ironically vulnerable,
endear yourself to me.

Surrender thyself in impossibly sweet ways
they will never understand.
In so many sweet ways
they will never understand.
For comprehension is futile,
questions superfluous,
reactions uncalled for;
Let’s just breathe tonight.

For a thousand needle points on red, raw flesh,
let me find my remedy from a sentence.
For a thousand questions and repetitions,
find your assurance in tears and
fears that killed me,
almost.

Let the world breathe.
Let the world die.
Let the world leave
and never wonder why.
For we are refugees – you and I.
So let us flee where none chases and fate is an ally;
where starry nights are eternal
and surrealism, a fact.


(For part first of this verse, click here.)

Photo Source:
Couple in Moonlight

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Verses by Funandfearless: Edna

(In which my writer’s block worked with a dose of sentimentalism.)

***

I stared at the clean, white sheet of blankness
and watched the blackness glide along purity.
Black on white,
Lines on surface,
Curves on flatness,
Words on paper,
Linear movement,
No thoughts.

Your name spoke louder
and stood blacker than the rest.
Black on white,
Curves on flatness,
A word above others ,
Linear stillness
standing solitarily
above thoughtless words.

If you decide to erase traces,
unlock braces and build fences
and hazy mazes, I’ll comply.
Well, a friend doesn’t leave
but stays stamped somewhere deep
somehow,
leaving traces the way lead does on paper.
Yes, the way lead does on paper
where the point pressed deeply.

I stared at the scribble-covered sheet of white, blotted by brine
and watched the ink crawl to the edge of watermarks.
Lines on surface,
Curves on flatness,
Words on paper,
Linear movement,
Attempts of becoming thoughtless
but not numb.

Then I remembered I was wearing red. . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Verses by Funandfearless: Breathing Fire


(In which a fever is just a background.)

***


Inhaling smoke
bitter to the tongue
and somewhere else.
Suspending breath
for sweetness.

Speaking words
and question marks;
alien sounds to your ear
and somewhere else.
Suspending sputtering
for a sigh.

Breathing fire or barely breathing.
Clicks and tones
and Lea Michelle in my ears
and somewhere else.
Suspending fear
for optimism.

Thinking purple,
seeing violet in my eyes
and everywhere else.
Suspending now
for infinity.

Photo Source:
Purple Smoke

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland


(In which love governed.)

***

The life of an artist in 17th century Rome wasn’t easy. And so was the life a Roman woman. How hard is it then, given these circumstances, to be both a woman and a painter in one of the most highly-regarded art cities during the Baroque period? Artemisia Gentileschi knows.

At seventeen, she was exposed to the cruelties of life. She was raped by her teacher, betrayed by her father and abandoned by her husband and lived to return to the shockingly unforgiving harshness of her city. All of which she was able to endure in the name of art. And no public humiliation, no betrayal by blood and man, no rejections, not even gender discrimination, limited her love for it.

Her paintings depicted women. And when she painted a woman, she painted her life by trying to relive history in her mind and thus trying to feel what her model could have felt. That’s how she did Judith. She though of the emotional unpleasantness that could have taken hold of her upon deciding to slaughter Holofernes in order to save her people – the internal humiliation as she seduces him, all the while thinking of ways to delay the lovemaking and finally, the way she mustered the strength of both heart and body as she beheads the unconscious invader.

When she painted a woman, she sees her as a hero and not a mere carrier of a body to be stared at in lewd voyeurism. She maintains the emotion of the moment. The heart of the story. And so she painted the nude Susanna as a riveting picture of a threatened beauty, with modesty, innocence and shame all working harmoniously.

When she painted a woman abused by a man and further tortured by society, she used her brush as a conduit of her own pains. She sees her as a rational human being capable of doubt. She suspends popular belief for realistic human emotions. With this she painted Lucretia, a legendary woman who was raped and committed suicide, as a person who didn’t choose death deliberately, but a woman torn between choosing life over death and vice versa. Just when the public expected a spectacle full of blood, she gave them something to think about.

In The Passion of Artemisia, Susan Vreeland once again shows how a woman conquers her own fears as well as her personal and socially-established disadvantages so powerfully that she was able to present pain as one of the colors to contribute to the greatness of masterpieces. Her attempt to understand the artist’s heart and mind deeply, combined with the vast knowledge of hue names and artistic styles gave the novel a sturdy bridge from the characters to the reader. However, it would have been better if the settings description was as vivid as the varying tones and wonderful layering of pigments on canvass. But as one reads how a mind and heart of a very sensitive artist as Artemisia collaborate (or in some cases, conflict) to create a painting of a woman as heroic as the artist (unconsciously) is, the pleasant feeling of seeing how a beautiful soul mixes color and emotion and triumph and make a legacy to last centuries holds tightly and lingers. Then it stays, creating an image stronger and more graphic than towers and buildings with complex architectural designs.

Vreeland presented Artemisia as a woman of depth, feeling and love. The way she loved her art was moving – the incessant sketching and brainstorming, the relentless attempts to master the craft, the people and feelings she has to let go of and the lifelong journey towards artistic greatness.

One of the lessons I learned in art school was to love art and it will love me in return. It will take a long time and may not come as easily as I want to, but it will. And in the case of Artemisia Gentileschi, it sure did.



Currently reading:





Photo source
Judith Slaying Holofernes, Susanna and the Elders, Lucretia, Black and Blue