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Physis. Or qi. Or kundalini. Or eros. Or even latima (that’s what they call it in East Africa fyi. Lush isn’t it?). The energetic force that is awakened in anything that grows. The bulb that pushes its shoots magnificently through the earth to bloom. You remember when you were a kid fizzing with excitement and vitality because you felt completely loved and safe? It was because your very life force was growing.

I’ve often talked about viewing my younger self through the prism of my older self, my relationship with my parents let’s say, through to my own womanhood. Sometimes, it’s like a guitar band, more ruminative than of old, balanced out by something a little more imaginative. Could be self-flagellation or intriguing ambivalence. Sounds that shimmy in my head or maybe yours. “Thoughts,” said Sarah Lidell, “are the least silent things I know. They jostle and nudge and vie for position, single spies, battalions. Exploding bladderwrack, long linked lines of genetic information multi-tracked as a cream slice.”

The unexpectedly poignant remembrances of a first fruitful life always parlay into the second act (I’m in my 30’s now). Think of them as playing lasciviously on well-rubbed textures – lust, the thrill of the chase, deeper impressions, more candid, more vulnerable. In essence, spring will not be denied in our lives: the daffodils have opened and the cherries have magnanimously carpeted streets and gardens with their delicate petals. The beauty of this annual rebirth cannot fail to reawaken our initial (and might I say essential) yearnings to literal and non-literal sunshine and warmth.

I’m really thinking of the wondering gaze of Levin in Anna Karenina when he catches a blade of grass actually growing, gently tilting a decaying leaf to one side. This powerful motif circles me back to a chat with the man who inspired this blog post, who got me thinking about some first epic feelings and yearnings. It’s about how to make and remember those twinkles in our minds eye, those triumphs of imagination, the sheer cerebral acrobatics of it all. It’s how we keep sparkling. And I’m tingly just writing it.

 

source: pushthemovement.tumblr.com

 


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The words “lust for life” are keen, heart-fluttering and mysterious. They give me permission to be me, which has influenced everything in my life: You can get your hands dirty, make mistakes and embrace them. In the context of a thought, they bring something unconventional, bold, playful, thought-provoking, raw and engaging while maintaining an unlabored feel. It’s like the artist armed with just a paint stick—life-affirming. They remind me I am a human being and to be a human being, to be instinctive, with just primitive tools, I can make/do joyful AND fulfilling work.

What images come to your mind when you think of lust? Erotically charged dialogues of desire, teasing out body shapes, overwhelmingly powerful pheromone-enahnced preoccupations? Such imaginings signify the distance between our private and public spaces, grown to such an extent that almost every gesture implies a political declaration of sorts.

According to science, lust is all about the survival of our DNA. It’s not about long-term compatibility, rather about “happily ever after”. There are images that gain a certain exotic charm and humour because they focus on the discrepancies, on the extreme tensions within society; variety, nuance, more than anything else, the extraordinariness of what goes by the title of ordinary life. Which brings me to photographs: what makes them unsettling and even subversive is that neither the camera nor the subjects attempts to make a statement; oblivious of the monitoring eye of the beholder, the people in photographs are caught in the business of everyday life, in the miracle of living.

Now that I really live in America, (it’s taken over two years to feel like I’m not playing) the fact that no matter what the cultural differences, people fall in and out of love, enjoy a beautiful view, care for their dogs, are entertained by seemingly mundane life, use mobiles, are traditional, or are not. It is a strange and sad world that forgets this shared humanity, in a sense denying life at its most basic and possibly most sacred. In reality, the rich thoughts inspired by us go beyond pleasure, let alone “lust”—think of those who linger over broken stones or bold ideas that open metaphorical doors.

I think I’m realizing my mind can, and will, wander in nooks and crannies of lost ages—and ages to come.

 

source: tumblr.com


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Do people who like fat pies like ample petals? Do people who like big dogs like big plants? Do people who like chunky fries like chunky men? What does it mean that I (much) prefer deep-dish pizza to thin crusted offerings? I’d hazard a guess I’m not alone here.

The earliest known reference to French fries in English literature is in A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens refers to “husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”. As an audience hungry for narratives, this tickles my fancy endlessly.

The great debate brings up a number of sub-arguments off the bat, but firstly I’ll quote Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods: “Anyone against a steak fry is rigid to the point of creating a monastic mindset that inhibits great gustatory pleasure.”

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of psychology books on what we’re all trying to do here on Earth, and why I think I can translate a cerebreal mindset to arguing the case for chunky (steak) fries well: By virtue of their sheer physicality, they provide a bigger surface area for mustard and mayonnaise and are therefore better. Hah!

All sense of equilibrium goes out the window when consuming fries and feeling satiated is a by-product of visual consumption (which usually happens in stages). Like tiny disk flowers, opening first on their outer rings that cover anthers with golden pollen, and then the next set of rings, later, maybe the next day, when the pollen is all dispersed, the flower (or our mouths) opens up again.

Fries are a cornucopia of hopes and dreams. They put into bold relief many of the reasons why potatoes matter so much to so many of us. The vegetable is a living, breathing repository of Mother Nature’s genius. I’ll also be so bold as to state that there is a global general consensus when it comes to fries that goes something like: Your parents neglected their duty if they failed to wean you on the great British chip. Nuff said.

Valuable lessons learnt?

  1. The chip is THE success story of the modern world.
  2. If you’re not already in possession of a sack of potatoes, I say go forth and purchase one.
  3. Because for the perfect chip, you need a floury potato.
  4. Salt, vinegar and ketchup I leave up to your conscience.

 

source: cupofjo.com


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Interviewer 

You never read a poem out loud when you’re writing it?

Myles

No. That seems obscene to me. I don’t want to hear the sound of my own voice. It’s the sound of something in me, but it’s not my voice. It isn’t a literal voice – at all. But there is a murmuring.

The Paris Review, Eilleen Myles, The Art of Poetry No.99

Before you flagellate yourself for using “yeah” or “um” too much (guilty), and that’s before you flagellate yourself when you hear your own voice,  a lot of linguistic devices don’t necessarily undermine what you’re saying.

The psychology of what makes us cringe is up for the taking. Is it a shock of self-consciousness? In a 2006 paper on embarrassment, researchers wrote that in moments of disruption, “such as in illness, clumsiness, or exposure to the judgments of other people, the lived body becomes an object of our attention. In these moments, the body appears as the corporeal body. … The corporeal body can therefore be conceptualized as the body-subject turned toward itself as a body-object. Embarrassment and the “self-conscious” emotions seem to always occur within dynamics in which the lived body is momentarily reduced to the corporeal body.”

Maybe every cringe-induced playback, whether it be by phone or video should be accompanied by a transcript: these things are much more bearable that way. Second, do we dial back the hyperbole? Nah, I’m always in danger of falling immediately to the floor in the fetal position for these grand life occurrences.

The thing is, language, our ownership and understanding of it, must evolve in order for us to survive. Like the dysfunctional belief in colorblind race relations, ignoring it will not make it “go away”. Language fits that marker. For example, the word “cringe” is one of my favorites, but the actual words that make me cringe are: moist, phlegm, panties, ointment, velvet, weeping and so on. If I had to hear myself say all of those tongue twisters in quick succession played back, I’m sure I’d elicit a very visceral reaction in me (and you) —  the linguistic equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

Which brings me back to hearing our own voices. To put it in more technical terms, you’re adding bone conduction to air conduction when you speak with your own voice. Bone-conducted sound is when you activate your vocal cords and vibrations are set off through your skull, eventually reaching your inner ear. The acoustics in your skull lower the frequency of those vibrations along the way, essentially adding some bass tones.

As a result, the voice we hear inside our heads is lower, richer and more dulcet because of these extra rumblings, and hearing it come from outside ourselves (on a video for example) makes it sound tinny and alien.

Parker J. Palmer — founder of the Center for Courage & Renewal — cautioned that what we hear might not always be a mellifluous serenade by our highest selves — but giving voice to the parts of ourselves we least like is essential to the process:

My life is not only about my strengths and virtues; it is also about my liabilities and my limits, my trespasses and my shadow. An inevitable though often ignored dimension of the quest for “wholeness” is that we must embrace what we dislike or find shameful about ourselves as well as what we are confident and proud of.

 

source: Rachel Cadman|I Love LA

 

 

 


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Everyone wants to fall in love in a strange town,

Everyone wants to dive in that river of dreams

where the incense swirls toward the stars

and the mirrors on the hearts of the saints 

make it impossible to lie to yourself.

John Oliver Simon from “Gringo Trail”

In “Mirror”, by Sylvia Plath, Plath finds a mirror thoroughly uncanny. “I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately. Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.” In “Through the Looking-Glass”, by Lewis Carroll, Alice is playing with her kittens in front of a large mirror. “How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty?” she asks. Before you know it, she is up on the mantelpiece. “Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through.”

If you shine a light into a mirror, does the fact that the light reflects back mean that you are effectively doubling the amount of light in the room? If you throw an apple against a wall and it bounces back at you, you don’t have more apples than you started with, do you? Having said that, covering your room with mirrors will certainly discourage you from throwing things indoors.

I’m certainly not a scientist, but I can tell you that the wattage “effect” is noticed as I’m currently around a reckless use of mirrors. Light, she’s a tricky thing. Mirrors bring to mind illusion, self-love and self-loathing, and to an extent, fear. But they also show the wildness, weirdness and wonder of what’s possible. The effect of meeting ourselves in the eyes of friends, lovers and strangers, is more than a postmodern pig-out: these pieces are a vision of what happens when the ‘dance of similar’ becomes something much more meaningful.

In feng shui, mirrors are used both to bring things toward us and to push things away. There’s something mysterious about our mirror images, like our shadows, like photographs – because obviously keeping up with your actual reflection may be a near-impossible task. As if a part of us that lives in a non-dimensional alias can ever be richer, stranger, and noisier.

Like most shiny talismanic objects that are both protective and decorative, as soon as you think you’ve managed to get a handle on what they symbolize, the next act of discovery will pull the rug out from your feet. What else could become as strangely seductive but disturbing? In truth, smoke and mirrors isn’t weird at all, it’s a miracle-flecked song of desire for souls who find reflection, identity and revealing mandatory, and are quite fond of watery glimpses – metaphoric associations at their most potent and anonymous.

“The world is no more than the Beloved’s single face. In the desire of the one to know its own beauty we exist. We are not alone. The world we face faces us. We look out and the world looks back at us.”

Ghalib

 

source: Olafur Eliasson


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When you feel things deeply do you get angry? Do you shout and scream? Do you retreat? Do you go mute? All of the above? None of the above? I’m choosing my words carefully, but maybe lyrical perfectionism is imperative. Maybe ineloquent or careless utterances betray us: I’m think specifically when I told someone who cut across me on the highway recently to go and f*@K himself.

I’m intrigued by people who don’t give too much away – a gnarly badge of honor if you will. But then, I begin to find them disingenuous and boring. Nothing to share means literally, nothing to share, not even drops of spilt tea into a mug cavernous enough to house them. I think that’s why it’s made me want to try and get close to this strange, mysterious thing that we can do with words. It’s what’s made me want to beat everything including my chest, such is the power of the feeling. Reading words that touch me takes my breath away. I literally have no clue what to do with myself.

When I get riled up which happens less and less these days, the jolting release of turning life up loud (music, car, running down a hill), is a potent desire that’s not met in too many other areas. Except screaming like a lunatic into the ocean. That’s pretty grand that is. Or bashing a set of drums with a torrid beat. That’s grand too.

When my dad was alive, we would speak about everything and anything – that was one of the big joys of our relationship. And now that he’s gone, I do find myself looking at him in photos and wishing I’d asked a lot more of him when he was still alive. Because there’s so much you want to know once they’re gone. That sense of mystery isn’t exciting, it’s palpably urgent, and I don’t want to hold my breath on it.

I’m bringing this up, because my dad taught me about knowing how much to expose, knowing how to pace. Simple things that are mighty helpful when I come to approach my writing. I give myself time to open up that part of me, and then close it down again. Closing up all those edges and carrying on about your day is a discipline that’s necessary.

Living in New York has removed me from familiar surroundings, opened my eyes, and forced me to think in an entirely different way. Life is nothing if not unpredictable. It’s also sublime doing the last thing anyone expected, casting off the shackles to reveal much more than glimpses of a vulnerable and kaleidoscopic human being underneath. Someone once sang “these are the greatest times of my life,” simultaneously capturing the energy of the times while emphasizing an opposition to them.

Aaah well then, I’m a supreme contrarian indeed.

 

source: Hockney | A Bigger Splash | whereisthecool.com

 


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Midnight At The Oasis. Showtime In The Sahara. The decaying and dusty streets of Morocco are begging to be revisited. I’m planning a ride from Rabat to Casablanca. Funny things, road trips. They can be the best way to get under the skin of a country. Or your own skin. Or someone else’s.

Apparently I’m gonna need some mighty patience. The expressway I’m hankering after is 57 miles long, which in the grand scheme of things is a mere blip o’ this life, but the traffic I’ve been warned is an absolute beaut, with long delays and slow movements par for the course. I quite like the idea already.

I’ve been told of Morocco’s dangerous drivers who supposedly neither dip their lights nor slow down at corners. But that’s ok, I drive in Cape Town, across highways I shouldn’t, and even once in such torrential rain that I think my headlights got excited.

There’s something about a drive, something so compelling. From first rides of life, illegal smells (cigarette smoke in a car!), graduating from incense to perfume in gloriously confined spaces, lemon trees billowing through car windows and the architecture of buildings (maybe) lining motorways. I’m reminiscing now, but it gives me a tingle to see my joyriding evolution. And goodness, I’m only just getting started at this life.

Rides and journeys, destinations and dalliances, they get me going they do. I could tell you about a myriad of roads, lanes and paths I want to drive down. Some are at shores, some are high atop mountains, and others, they’re just off the beaten track with not a soul around. I love to listen to music when I’m driving just as much as I love listening to birdsong and the wind. Especially if my arms are out the window and they feel like they’re going to fall off.

I also like the louche, laid-back and (a bit) seedy ride you can take, which is probably why I’m itching for the Moroccan road trip. The air, she’s a bit raffish, but the labyrinthine hearts of towns remain intact, mazes of tiny streets, souks, monuments and traditional dye pits. I want to chase the sun knowing that there’s nothing a full tank of gas cant fix – it’s the essence of optimism in motion. It’s definitely sexy when you’re with someone you find sexy. Oh, and vice versa. It’s the idea for both of you that renewal (or something else – sorry mum) waits just around the bend. The wide open highways beckons, but also challenges.

Which leads me back to Morocco, the beating heart of North Africa that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. I just want to stuff my face with lemon cake and mint tea under rays of pink-soaked afternoon sun filtering through trees. I want color, history, hairpin turns, flocks of goats, a camel or two, maybe an impromptu festival, definitely lots of markets, oh, and starlight over my head. Maybe the trip will be the road itself. I’ll let you know.


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How exactly did the Carthaginian general Hannibal and his elephants reach Italy? Why by crossing the river at Arles and persuading elephants to stick their trunks up like snorkels! Somehow makes me think of sub-sexual sparring and sub-sexuality. Nowadays, we’re used to self-parody, to people stepping out of character, to nod-and-wink allusions and other such postmodern tricks like subconsciously flirting towards romance then bickering a way back out. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked about love and intrigue by a taxi driver, but I’ve never once been asked by one what my favorite cheese is.

My teenage years in the 90’s were full of watching soaps like Home & Away and Neighbors at the precise point in puberty when undying love could be cemented. Nowadays it involves some vetiver, twinkle-in-the-eye, and well the rest I couldn’t tell you. Although I will say that men who look like they know themselves make me want to know them. Perhaps it’s a formative unconscious alchemical blueprint for what I find attractive.

Geomorphologist Bill Mahaney of York University in Toronto is quoted as saying that, “the Hannibal enigma appealed (to me) for the sheer effort of getting the army across the mountains. I have been in the field for long times with 100 people, and I can tell you it can be pandemonium. How Hannibal managed to get thousands of men, horses and mules, and 37 elephants over the Alps is one magnificent feat.”

Makes you think. Doesn’t it?

 

source: crush cul de sac