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This Is My Party, I’ll Cry If I Want To

I like to sit and sleep in weird positions making my limbs go numb and weak or even lead to painful sensations. When I sleep it’s mostly on my stomach with both hands underneath my full body’s weight because that’s when I feel safe. If I lay flat on my back my chest could get split opened in the middle and cold, stiff air would keep me awake forever.

I often clench my fists inside the pockets. It happens on tram stops when I’m on a ‘no smoking cigarettes for a few days’ break not knowing what to do with my hands.

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Zoning out is a special talent that requires years of practice and comes in different forms. I pick at my skin, not in a self harm enjoying the pain way, but as a obsessive compulsive urge that is sometimes easier, sometimes harder, sometimes impossible to repress. During the summer me and my skin both go crazy, we don’t like the sun. But avoiding it completely is not a solution, even though a dermatologist once told me I may be allergic to sunlight. I don’t think that is the case, but it made me laugh because my brother often states that I’m actually a pretty well adjusted vampire.

I zone out for different reasons. Like when I used to stop in the middle of whatever I was doing to closely observe my thumb’s finger print lines with the help of my laptop’s lightning. The OCD part of the brain is upset with the uneven texture of the skin, wishing it was completely smooth, no dents. I had to google the word ‘dent’ after I wrote it down because it looked suspicious even though it sounded right in my mind. The aesthetic part is impressed with body’s appealing (im)perfections.

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I don’t bite my nails because it damages the teeth but I don’t let them grow, either. When under bigger amounts of stress I grind my teeth while sleeping. It damages them, but it’s out of my control so I guess it’s alright. Waking up with the clenched jaw requires a special morning exercise routine. It happens every time when I dream of loosing all of my teeth in an accident or by a weird experiment, waking up scared, but relieved because getting a new set of teeth would be both psychological and financial drag. They say it’s one of the most common dreams, or nightmares if you like.

On one too many mornings I tend to convince myself coffee is a better choice than herbal tea and sometimes regret it later.

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I can’t keep the same gum in my mouth for more than 30 minutes because it makes me nervous. A high school chemistry teacher told us gum chewing destroys the jaw. She always had a really bad breath.

I choose passive aggression over direct conflict and that is one of my greatest flaws. In attempt to change that, my goal is to start as many fights as I can.

I often express my affection with physical aggression which can cause misconception.On the other hand, I tend to express my politeness with gentle physical contact or affection which can also lead to wrong conclusions.

Imposter syndrome is a stubborn part time roommate turned full time friend.

Almost every paragraph and sentence starting with the word ‘I’ is a telltale sign. Occasional self obsession is necessary, but killing the ego is a long term goal. That is my manifesto.

 

Ilustrations by Elliana Esquivell

 

 

 

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THE ART LIFE: Stepping Into The Strange World of David Lynch

After five highly productive decades of work David Lynch proved he is still at the top of his game when he returned to our screens with third season of Twin Peaks, a show that changed television history and gathered a cult fan following. Being one of the greatest American directors, Lynch will always be remembered as a leader of postmodern cinema, introducing us to surreal, intense plots in movies like The Elephant ManBlue Velvet or Mulholland Drive. The highlights of his impressive career are easy to find, but how did it all start? At what point did the boy from a typical small town family started to turn into atypical filmmaker we know today?

The answers can be found in a in a 2016 documentary film David Lynch: The Art Lifewhose director Jon Nguyen created it in a form of a one-way 90 minute interview, no one is around but Lynch with the exception of a couple of scenes where he is joined by his curious toddler daughter Lula.

The visual focus is on Lynch while he is painting or creating small sculptures or just sitting quietly while smoking in his cluttered Hollywood Hills studio – the place he feels most comfortable in. The footage of the creative process, getting his hands dirty, painting with fingers, sawing wood or cutting out pieces of it while he is narrating key events from his life. He talks about childhood, teen and later years, about ideas and why art and happiness go hand in hand. At the same time, there’s a lot of old video and photo material following his stories, but also examples of his dark and eerie paintings and illustrations. Some moments are quiet, we watch whatever he is working on and are left to think about it for ourselves, nothing is imposed.

Discovering Dreams

Through the film we chronologically follow Lynch’s life from childhood and formative years to early adulthood. He is not an ordinary storyteller since the information he delivers doesn’t necessarily come in a logical way or have an expected pinnacle moment. Of course this is no surprise coming from the man who spent his filming career deconstructing the usual narrative structure and abandoning the mainstream rules.

The film starts with Lynch remembering happy childhood days, praising his loving parents and the sense of limitless freedom and support they provided for him and his siblings. The way he described a particular anecdote from that period about encountering a strange naked woman while playing outside especially stuck with me because it sounded like a twisted dream sequence or something I might have seen while watching Twin Peaks.

'Twin Peaks' [Credits: Showtime]

The director proceeds talking about the effect of his family moving to a different city. Those early teenage years are remembered as dark and unhappy because he developed some health problems, started to hang out with the bad kids, smoking and drinking, going out of control and disappointing his mom. But also at that time, while still being a stubborn, rebellious teenager Lynch started to develop a fascination with the world of dreams, that keeps inspiring him up to this day.

I never studied. I never did anything.I hated it so much. I hated it like… powerful hate. The only thing that was important was what happened outside of school and that had huge impact on me. People and relationships, slow dancing parties… Big, big love and dreams. Dark, fantastic dreams. Incredible time.

The Art Life

After learning one of his friends’ father was a painter, Lynch realized that being an artist can be a real profession, so that is when he firmly decided that painting is all he ever wanted to do in life. That painter was called Bushnell Keeler and he will play an important part in supporting Lynch in developing his career later in life. Visiting a painting studio for the first time Lynch described drawings, paintings and everything else in that place as ‘an art life going on right before your eyes.’ That is when the roots of obsession with art and the whole concept of ‘art life’ and happiness that comes along with it started to form.

[Credits: Janus Films]

I had this idea that you drink coffee, you smoke cigarettes and you paint. And that’s it.

The best part of this documentary for any aspiring artist is when Lynch talks about his beginnings as a painter when his work was really bad and he knew it, but it was a process he needed to grow through in order to find his own way of expression, so he just kept painting until that happened. The most important element in doing what you’re passionate about is dedication.

After graduation Lynch moved to Boston and went through a short experience of agoraphobia when he stayed in for two weeks and listened to the radio because he was physically and mentally unable to do anything else. He managed to get through that crisis, but says there’s always a certain level of nervousness when leaving home, even today he is the happiest when he doesn’t have to go out and stay in the world he created.

Moving to Philadelphia to pursue the art spirit and enrollment into Academy of Fine Arts were another important step for Lynch. While talking about living in a new, dark city that scared him, he describes weird and unpleasant encounters with neighbors, for example with a woman who would go around in her backyard squawking like a chicken. In moments like these, even though this is an intimate and honest portrayal, the viewer can never be sure if it really happened – Lynch lets us wonder about those events using his great capacity for telling surreal stories.

[Credits: Janus Films]

“Oh, a moving painting, but with sound”

The love of painting came first and remained his main occupation, until the day when Lynch, while observing the big painting he was working on at the time, started seeing movement and hearing the sound wind in the background. That’s when the passion for film making and storytelling started and led him forward in his career.

Homemade videos that show Lynch filming his first wife Peggy playing with his daughter show his personal side, but even then you can’t clearly separate the artistic and family man persona because he seems to think about art all the time.

The life changing moment in Lynch’s life was getting a grant from the American Film Institute at the time when he had to find a ‘normal’ job in order to provide for the family. He was unhappy and felt empty because there was no time left for painting and doing what he loved. The grant made it possible to continue his education in California and completely dedicate himself to visual art.

[Credits: Janus Films]

Lynch moved to Los Angeles to attend a training program in the Center for Advanced Film Studies describing the experience as unbelievable and inspiring. Creating new worlds and capturing them on film was now part of his daily routine.

The last couple of minutes are dedicated to the making of his first feature film – surrealist horror Eraserhead. His family thought he was losing time with it and should find a real job to earn money. He knew the time spent on filming it wasn’t lost and was determined to finish the movie while fully enjoying the process, describing everything about it as beautiful.

 

Eraserhead to me was one of my greatest, happiest experiences in cinema.

[Credits: Janus Films]

The impression after watching this unique documentary and getting to know David Lynch’s life and career on a personal level is very similar to being immersed into his work – you experience the fascination, thrill and mystery. Every person who is in a way involved into art making can learn a lot from this feature, there are two things I would like to point out – creating is important because it gives us a real sense of freedom and mistakes are necessary because they lead us towards what we’re trying to achieve.

He is letting the viewer in, but not inviting him to stay too long, only to have a long peak through the window, because at the end of the day – this is David Lynch, a talented, crazy imaginative artist that dares to visit places others have yet to discover and all that while we watch him sitting calmly, puffing away smoke and keeping his cool appearance.

 

Originally posted on Creators.co

 

Lightly, My Darling

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling.

Read it out loud, this beautiful excerpt may sound familiar, it is from the utopian novel called Island, told by even more beautiful mind of Aldous Huxley.

I know I need to read it once again because I think I would have much more use from it (if I may say so) now than I did 4 or 5 years ago. I think about all those books that I read a long time ago and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy them or understand them, it’s just that it may have been too soon.

One of our crazy high school teachers actually made some sense when he said that he agrees that making a bunch of 17-year-olds read Marcel Proust’s Combray in a short period and then expect them to identify with the novel’s main subject – the passing of time, is ridiculous. Proust was obsessed with destructive effect time has on people, events and relationship, an obsession worth having if you ask me now, but what the fuck does a kid in high school have to do with that? 

The only thing reading Proust when you’re that young is make you not want to have anything to do with his work ever again. Ten years later, I still remember how unbelievably confusing Combray was, even though I didn’t hate it as much as most of my peers. Ten years later, I haven’t yet decided it’s time to go back to it and continue reading the remaining six volumes, more than 4 000 pages aptly named In Search of Lost Time. I still have time to lose before I start feeling really bad about it, at least that’s what I’m counting on.

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Huxley’s Island on the other hand acts as a sedative, but not a mind numbing kind, it slows down time in an enlightening way. If you compare the cruel, frightening reality of Brave New World and Buddhist influences in Island – his last novel, it makes me happy that Huxley didn’t get more scared and worried as he got old and sick as if it’s somehow expected from an average modern mind’s point of view.

The key to being lucid and painfully aware of everything that is wrong (is dystopia our reality?) while making peace with your current state without feeling powerless our constantly out of focus is of course not yet known to me, the path is I think someone between Proust’s melancholia and fragility and Huxley’s spiritual philosophy, often enhanced by psychedelic drugs he started experimenting with in the 1950s.

A couple of days ago I learned how his last moments were like, which made me like him even more, not because of ‘wow, he’s so cool’ factor, because I think it represents a great mind fully embracing everything that is happening. The decaying body does not equal a decaying mind.

On his deathbed, unable to speak due to advanced laryngeal cancer, Huxley made a written request to his wife Laura for “LSD, 100 µg, intramuscular”.

 

There are things known

and there are things

unknown,

and in between are

the doors of perception. 

 

 

Those Rare, Magical, No Internet Days

The crash may last between nine hours and four days,  the symptoms are generally the opposite of the stimulant effects. A person in the crash phase of  withdrawal may sleep for days, notice changes in appetite, and feel depressed and agitated. During acute withdrawal — which may continue for 1-3 weeks — irritability, fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and cravings are common.

Imposed by deliberate decision or due to the unwanted technological obstacles I’ve experienced quite a bit of internet free days since the beginning of this month. A week ago I was forced to stay in this new state of ‘freedom’ for the whole weekend (tragic, I know, I’m fine now).

Long story short: after some signs of anxiety started to kick in, it was time to start making phone calls. What does an internet provider have to possess in order to be an internet provider in the first place? That’s easy – a shitty costumer service. After a couple of warm exchange of words, we had to agree to disagree in where the problem seems to be coming from. Conversation ended with their promise that Someone will call me and come over to check the router. Naturally, mister Someone never arrived, or did anyone call me, but luckily on Sunday evening my brother managed to fix  the cable problem or whatever and bring me back to life, make me feel like a member of something greater than myself.*

* this may or may not be a complete irony, just like everything else I ever wrote

Phase 1: Hysteria

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During those two and a half days, I was freaking out because:

a) I didn’t collect all the necessary exam materials

b) The new Jim Jarmusch film I thought I had on my laptop wasn’t really there (it was paused after 12% of the movie was downloaded)

c) I couldn’t send pictures of our dog to my sister 😦

d) How am I supposed to know what’s going on in the world?! Don’t tell me to turn up the TV to watch the news, never!

e) How am I supposed to keep up with the mostly unknown people’s lives on Instagram?

f) I didn’t know what to do when I get that sudden, insatiable desire to stream an episode of Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

g) How do I make plans for going out with friends? Do I still have friends?

After finally reconnecting I downloaded the movie, but realized I don’t feel like watching it, answered a couple of ‘ARE YOU ALIVE??’ messages (ignored some of them, let them wonder you know, that’s sexy, mysterious and shit), turned the laptop off and continued reading the book I started that afternoon.

 

Same thing, different day

Sally Nixon: What Women Do When No One’s Watching

I would be chopping that book into little bits and pieces and dragging it around with me for the next two or three weeks until finally finishing it if I didn’t take another day off yesterday.

The thing is, I wasn’t feeling so well, I had a fever, headache, dizziness, cough – the whole disgusting package and even my poorly functioning brain realized staring into a screen trying to keep up with the Kardashians  complicated relationships in a certain David Cronenberg’s historic drama doesn’t work. I fell asleep, woke up, started thinking about stuff, got depressed a bit, stopped thinking about stuff, got up and grabbed that wonderful novel ( Life Is Elsewhere by Czech author Milan Kundera), started thinking about important, good stuff and finished the book. Even though I felt so beaten up, I could sense that my focus is back, alive and well, almost like it was when I was a kid that could easily devour a 400 page book in less than two days. I know those days are now far behind due to my Internet brain and some other reasons, but I also know there is a way of escaping the modern life shackles for a while.

In order to have an illusion of control, I made a list of what I need to start and or finish in the next week or so:

  • one horror movie review
  • watch two French New Wave films
  • watch David Lynch documentary
  • finish the essay on how Third-wave feminism lost its sense a while ago and is actually being contraproductive
  • start paying attention in my online literature class
  • Dedicate at least 10 minutes of the day to learning some Spanish (DuoLingo)
  • Finally start that small Tristan Tzara/Dadaism inspired post
  • Tell everyone how Kundera is the GOAT ✓

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Today, I am back online and while writing this I’m also watching three hot dog memes slowly dancing to Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts. Loving it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, educate yourself.  Also, do yourself a favour and shut.it.all.out. from time to time.

Btw, that introduction quote is taken from a ‘recognize a drug addict’ website and is all about the cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Cheers!

Moonlight

My brain is melting, can’t really read or write anything. Today is ‘take photos and post them on the Instagram instead of studying’ day.

Also, to continue with today’s grand achievements – I made ice coffee and poured in a couple of drops of spoiled milk, drank it right away, loved it. In my defense, it didn’t smell or taste bad, only the texture was… well, questionable.

To get myself mentally back on track, I am posting one of my favourite poems, the one that decorates one of my bedroom walls. Whenever I mention poetry, there’s 95 percent of chance that I’m turning into your grandma and talking about French 19th-century symbolism movement.  This is Paul Verlaine‘s Clair de lune (Moonlight) from his 1869 collection of poems Fêtes galantes. Read carefully, add a bit of (non spoiled) milk, three ice cubes, mix it all up in  a cocktail shaker and enjoy.

 

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.       

Your soul is a landscape fair and fine
Where charming masqueraders swarm
Playing the lute and dancing and being almost
Sad beneath their fanciful costume.

Singing together in a minor key
Of love conquests and the life of risks,
In their fortune they do not seem to believe;
And their song melts into the lunar beam.

The quiet moon beam, sad and beautiful,
That lulls the birds in the trees to dream
And makes the fountain jets sob in a spree,
The tall slender jets that soothe the marbles.

       

* Finding different versions of poems, even from professional translators can be pretty frustrating because the new version never completely captures the whole point, the core of what the poet had in mind. It’s probably one of the main reasons why I will never stop learning foreign languages – to be able to enjoy literature in its original form. One day.

 

 

 

Symptom Recitle

You know, sometimes I want to talk about complicated stuff in sincere, simple way, but that’s way harder of making plain facts seem super intelligent. And sometimes I try to project my state of mind directly on the paper/keyboard, but the words turn out to be embarrassingly weak when compared to the original line of thought I had in mind.

And sometimes, while I’m in that specific state of mind, like now – nervous, jittery and restless for no particular reason, but for all the reasons, I stumble upon a short story, a poem, song lyrics that I have never encountered before, and they manage to describe everything I feel. How weird is that? Specific emotions, detailed thoughts, moodiness, pain and boredom, it’s all there. That’s why great authors and storytellers are timeless, they manage to recognize parts of themselves in everyone else. Or at least it looks as if they are not completely self concerned. Even if they are thinking exclusively about themselves, the talent allows them to express feelings in a way that is so familiar to us mortals. There’s no greater feeling than finding a safe place in stranger’s words.

This is my newest discovery, I’m sure it’s not a temporary fascination. Today we mark the date when I fell in love with American poet, writer and critic Dorothy Parker.

 

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

 

The ‘Enfant Terrible’

About a week ago, a gun that Paul Verlaine used to shoot his lover Arthur Rimbaud was sold for 434 500 €. The story that led to one of the most famous love quarrels of the art world developed something like this (at least this is the version I’ve came across many times): on the morning of the 10th of July 1873 Verlaine bought the gun in Brussels with one goal on his mind – to end the passionate, but highly dysfunctional relationship with his 18-year-old teenage prodigy lover.

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The vagabond, tortured genius, a rebel, tragically lost and unadjusted, and to complete the cliché – died too soon. This is our hero – Arthur Rimbaud, the one that never grow up, but wrote better than anyone while it seemed like he’s not even trying. He probably wasn’t, it was a matter of true talent, just like when Bob Dylan later described his 60s songwriting skills as something that simply came to him, he can’t completely grasp it or reproduce it, and just like the rest of us, now can  only admire it.

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This is the hotel where on the 10th of July 1873 P. Verlaine wounded  A. Rimbaud by a gunshot

He didn’t die from the bullet coming from that famous  gun, during a drunk, probably absinth induced fight in a hotel room, Verlaine fired two bullets at him and only one hitting him in the wrist. Nothing serious, especially for their bohemian, crazy, poetic, drunk standards, but Rimbaud got scared, called the police, Verlaine ended up serving a two-year sentence of hard labour. Apparently, Verlaine was feeling anxious and suicidal because he couldn’t get rid of his companion and wanted to move back to his wife and children, which obviously didn’t sound like an acceptable plan to Rimbaud.

Ever since the roots of my different interests were formed I created a firm connection between the two rebels I liked, although they were different and separated far away in time – Rimbaud and Sid Vicious. The latter I don’t appreciate through music as much as I did in my ‘formative’ years, but more because of his true punk attitude, although, lets face it – he was a junkie and an idiot. Still, up to this day as a small, careless homage I wear a cheap locker pendant around my neck, just like I did for the last 8, 9, 10 years. During those early highschool years, Sid was to me an ‘ideal’ image of a fucked up friend/boyfriend who I could love only because I have never met him or had a chance to do so. Otherwise, things would be different, needless to say (no pun intended).  When I grew up a bit I realized that having a Sid & Nancy relationship is not something I strive for (visual aspects aside), getting stabbed to death in a hotel in weird circumstances , even if it’s the cult Hotel Chelsea, is not at all attractive or glamorous. The edge, rebellious attitude and rejection of the rules of society and imposed authority are the traits that are still and always will be stuck with me.

        richard-mann-j

           nancy081027_1_560

This also reminded me of a story when Patti Smith explained Arthur Rimbaud was kind of like her boyfriend when she was young because of so much time they’ve spent together. Their relationship obviously payed off and brought a lot to her unique expression, and Patti wasn’t alone of course – it wouldn’t be a real post without mentioning  an impressive list of musicians, writers, cultural  heroes who were directly inspired by Rimbaud’s surrealistic poetry: Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Picasso, Vladimir Nabokov, Richey Edwards, Jack Kerouac…. What would have happened if he didn’t stop writing at the age of only 21? Maybe that’s where the magic came from – a sudden, intensive and mysterious explosion that will continue to inspire generation after generation of those who love to play with words in their own way. The imaginary old, long bearded Rimbaud would be sitting in a rocking chair at some point of his long life and say something like : I don’t know how I did it or where it came from, it just happened and I was a lucky, reckless bastard who had the privilege to let those verses out, save them on paper and put my signature underneath. 

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