Tag Archives: 2020

My Favourite Books of 2020

30 Jan

I start every year by thinking “oh no, there are no more fun books for me to discover” and at the end of every year I am proven wrong haha. Let’s hope it will be the same this year. So here is a list of books I enjoyed the most in 2020 and I can recommend them to you!

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Reading (La Lecture), c. 1892

1 Morrissey – Autobiography: I LOVE The Smiths and I really love Morrissey as well so I was very happy to have read his autobiography at last. It was very witty and amusing, and even the moments when he is being melodramatic and self-pitying are coloured with his Oscar Wilde style wit. Morrissey’s teenage years and early twenties were spent in his bedroom writing furiously and feeling that he doesn’t belong and that chimed with me a lot.

2 Lovely Bones by Alice Seebold: I first saw the film “Lovely Bones” (2009) which I instantly fell in love with because it was very poignant and imaginative at the same time, so the natural thing to do was to read Alice Seebold’s novel of the same name and it was equally amazing. It’s a tale about a murder of a fourteen year old girl that happened in December 1974 and is told from her ghostly point of view.

3 Peyton Place by Grace Metalious; what I like about this book, and the film, is that it points out the hypocricies in society and life in small town, it reveals all the lies and gossips and prejudices of such a small area and it’s a really interesting study of small minds and small towns. The main character clearly has a bit of Metalious in her is the opposite of that small town, she wants to experience life and be a writer and I enjoyed reading about an aspiring writer.

4 Stepford Wives by Ira Levin; Levin’s writing style isn’t that beautiful per se, it isn’t rich and filled with vivid descriptions, but the story itself – about a family who moves to an idyllic neighbourhood where everything is perfect and the wives are submissive and do nothing but their household chores and have no personality – is really interesting, but near the end I felt quite unsettled with the ways things unfolded. You always hope for the best when you read a novel, but the good doesn’t always win and things don’t always turn out the best for the main character.

5 Carrie by Stephen King; I could definitely relate with Carrie being an outsider at school and not fitting in with the crowd so that was definitely a push to read this book. Maybe this book isn’t as scary as some of other King’s novels, but the mere thought of Carrie being trapped in a house with her madly pious, deranged and overprotective mother freaks me out. I like the mix of teenage silliness and shallowness with the reveal of Carrie’s mystical powers, and I like the way the novel was told, from many perspectives.

6 The Collector by John Fowles; this is perhaps my top favourite book for 2020! I enjoyed it beyond words and even wrote a book review already. It’s a novel about a shy young man who stalks and falls in love with a pretty art student in 1960s London and instead of just taking the usual road and asking her out on a date, he kidnaps her and keeps her in his basement until she, at least he hopes, falls in love with him. But the main character isn’t an awful, cruel villain, it’s the girl who is a bit bitchy in fact, so things are not black and white in terms of moral judgement and that makes it all the more interesting because, as you read the book, you don’t just judge the man for his actions but a deeper understanding and sadness develop along the way.

7 The Secret History by Donna Tart; I heard a lot of good things about the book and that is why I didn’t want to read it earlier but then I read an article about Bret Easton Ellis’ time spent at the College and guess who his fellow student was, Donna Tart. The novel is about a small and isolate group of students studying Greek at a New England college who have a festival one night and something goes terribly wrong… It’s a long book, but Tart keeps you alert for sure and the characters are so developed and so believable and she based them on her own classmates from college.

8 Torn Apart: Life of Ian Curtis by Mick Meddles and Lindsey Read: well if you love Joy Division there is no reason not to read this book! And it offers a better, a broader and less subjective, view on Ian Curtis and his life, his poetry, his relationship with his wife and with Annik, his struggles and health, it’s really a poignant and lovely portrayal of a person behind the legend. I enjoyed it much more than Deborah Curtis’ book.

9 Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: this book was as beautiful and interesting as it was educational because I learned so many details about the geisha lifestyle and tradition. If you are interested in Japanese culture and history, then certainly this book will interest you. I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book! Aside from the richness of Japanese culture and beautiful descriptions of kimono and nature, there is a lot of sadness about this book as well.

10 Post-Office by Charles Bukowski; I really enjoy Bukowski’s writing style and his attitude towards life and so I knew this book would be a fun read. I read it one sleepless night in September and I just kept turning the pages and laughing, and I can really recommend it.

11 Hunger by Knut Hamsun; interestingly I started reading this book years ago and didn’t enjoy it, and then in 2020 I picked it up again and I was smitten. The main character’s obsession with his hunger and his ways of transcending it are mind-blowing and I really liked being in the mind of this frail-nerved yet strong character.

12 Agony and Ecstasy by Irving Stone; this is a romanticised biography about the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo. I am not that interested in Renaissance period usually, but the way Stone writes is just so beautiful and captivating and it feels so real; he not only conveys the spirit of the time so well but also the thoughts and feelings of the character, in this case Michelangelo and in his other novel “Lust for Life” Vincent van Gogh.

Girl with a Hat – Hommage à Renoir by John Corbet

6 Apr

“Upset by two nostalgias facing each other like two mirrors, he lost his marvelous sense of unreality and he ended up recommending to all of them that they leave, that they forget everything he had taught them about the world and the human heart, (…), and that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end.”

(Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude)

John Corbet, Hommage à Renoir, watercolour on paper, 2020

This lovely watercolour has been haunting me ever since I first laid my eyes on it. The warm vibrant colours and all the swirls and free, playful and spontaneous brushstrokes touch my heart. Like opening a box in the attic filled with trinkets and toys from childhood or listening to a song that brings a world back to life, this watercolour awakes all these rich feelings and memories. At once bitter and sweet, like a memory that aches and warms your heart at the same time but you can never relive it, memory of flowers and sunsets, laughter, birdsong and sea waves, the distant dreamy world that is beyond reach, the paradise lost, now only the echoes of laughter and songs remain, the memory of sunbeams dancing on the sea waves but not the hot, burning sun itself. Almost tangible, but still a memory. Memories always have that dim, rosy, foggy quality, that warmth and sugary sweet essence with just a tinge of peppermint-flavored sadness. In your thoughts, you run and run through colourful hazy corridors of memories, you follow the music that awakes them, you want to live in the chambers of happier times, but you cannot. A dried flowers cannot bring the spring back, and the old theatre ticket cannot bring back that performance. And you live and you walk and you talk in this real tangible life, but all around you the memories float like symbols, like shells and flowers in Odilon Redon’s paintings, mystic and dreamy, it touches something inside you that reason wants to suppress.

These are the thoughts that flood my mind as I gaze at this watercolour inspired by Renoir’s lovely paintings of girls in hats, but this watercolour has more ecstatic colours, more grooviness, something dreamy that Renoir’s girls do not possess. Look at her rosy face, rosy because it’s coloured by the last rays of sun in the dusk of the day, the dreamy hour of the day when shadows and colours tremble and breathe. Her eyes are closed to the real world around her, she wants to forget, she wants to be the part of the Dream world that is alive all around her. I imagine her spinning and floating on the breeze of that dreamland, rising from the ground and traveling, like Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to that distant place of poppies and cactuses, warm sands and fragrant flowers, winds that whispers poems in your ear, and pink sunsets skies that are infinite and promising…

Something about this watercolour makes me feel so nostalgic… for everything. It makes me feel deeply the line from Márquez’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”: “the past was a line, memory has no return, and every spring gone by could never be recovered.” Bring me violins that makes the heart bleed, a sad accordion that makes the tears flow, because when I gaze at this watercolour I feel melancholy for what was and will never be, I think of blooming apple trees that suddenly lose their blossom and turn all green, magnolia blossoms and freshly cut grass, crickets chirping and seasons passing, changes that cannot be stopped, words that cannot be unspoken, escapism into domains of one’s dream and memory land. The way she closes her eyes and sensually allows herself to be kissed by the sun, there’s something so innocent and indulgent about allowing oneself such simple pleasure. Close your eyes to the world, look within and another world awaits you, one which is infinitely better. The colours have something sixties about them, orange and mauves. A touch of violet and orange on her shirt, her rosy face and wine-coloured hair, moss green painted in swirls in the background, I am seduced by these colours. This watercolour has the Beauty that makes my heart burst like a ripe fig in the Mediterranean sun.

Renoir, Etude de femme avec chapeau – fragment, date unknown

John Corbet is a contemporary artist whose wonderful, whimsical and dreamy pastels and watercolours you should definitely check out here. We are so fortunate that he is sharing these beautiful artworks, sharing little fragments of his imagination and beauty with the word. I have already written about his ghostly pastels last year, but his work continues to surprise me, it’s getting more vibrant and more lovely and I am delighted to see that he is doing more and more watercolours, exploring and experimenting without neglecting his love for pastels. Formally, this is a Hommage to Renoir, but on a spiritual level, the mood of Corbet’s watercolour is more dreamy and mystical and it brings to mind the mood of Odilon Redon and Gauguin’s paintings.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Young Girl with Hat (Jeune fille au chapeau), c. 1883

Renoir, Young Girl in a Flowered Hat, 1900-05

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Two Young Girls Reading, 1890-91

Renoir, Two Sisters, 1890

Renoir, The Little Reader (Little Girl in Blue), 1890

My Inspiration for March 2020

31 Mar

This March I read Jean Genet’s “Our Lady of the Flowers” and it was something completely new and fascinating, thieves and drag queens, prison and murders, the way it was written was just very fun and interesting which goes to show that in most cases the style of writing is more important than the topic itself. Blooming trees, water lilies, vibrant red and snow white, moss coated branches, Lolita dresses influenced by traditional Japanese clothes, busy Japanese streets versus the beauty of peaceful zen gardens all served to distract me from the gloom all around me.

“In those days I was tormented by yet another circumstance: the fact nobody resembled me and I didn’t resemble anyone. ‘I am one and they are everyone’, I thought ‑ and sank deep into thought.”

(Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground)

Bath, UK (by Craig Atkinson)

By maomao.feng.

Two pictures above found here.

Picture found here.

Los Angeles, pic found here.

Wake Up to the Truth People!

27 Mar

I have always envisioned this blog as my little internet space for art, poetry and Beauty. I don’t believe in placing focus on ugly aspects of life. They happen anyway, I don’t want to give them power and attention by putting focus on them. Just let them go. let them flow out of you the best that you can. Don’t dwell on it, it truly sours the day. But what is happening all around the globe these days is very hard to ignore and my common daydreamy escapism has failed me for a moment. So, I will take a moment to share my thoughts and here is a vibrant painting of sunflowers to bring some lightness into these dark days of despair.

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with 12 Sunflowers, 1888

One person cannot change the world, but one person can spread the message that might change things, or might change perspectives. An individual cannot fight the system, but what if many individuals from different places suddenly said: hey, wait a minute, this doesn’t seem true to me. And went on to do their own research instead of passively believing the lies that media is here to fed us with.

A person whose books, videos and wisdom have been my source of inspiration these days is David Icke, infamously dubbed ‘conspiracy theorists’, but what is conspiracy anyway? Anything that doesn’t follow the narrative we are suppose to believe. People have been laughing at David Icke for years, well who is laughing now when the things he was talking about decades ago are starting to be our reality. Without a doubt, some of the things he says sound crazy at first, but then it sinks in, you read his books and see how filled with quotes and research they are, you stop to thing and the bubble of lies you were led to believe by the entire society, educational system and media suddenly bursts. Maybe he is funny to some, but the reality we are waking up to these days is far from funny.

George Orwell’s 1984 isn’t a distant literary bad dream, it’s turning into reality with things like these: police in UK using drones to shame the public for going outside. News are being censored and labelled as “disinformation”, oh really? Where’s the freedom and the freedom of speech that we all thing we one hundred percent have, at least in the western countries. I woke up one morning and suddenly I am living in a totalitarian world. What happened? Suddenly the bubble is burst and I feel very disillusioned by the whole situation, not by the disease itself (many diseased, way worse, have plagued the mankind and yet we managed to get to the twenty-first century) but with the exaggerated, over-proportioned, mad, hysterical reaction to things, reaction completely created by the media and fully accepted by the most. This interesting article “Decadent like the late Roman Empire, the West is committing suicide through its irrational response to Covid-19″ shows the full scope of irrationality and stupid decisions taking place. To quote a bit of the article:

A large number of Westerners are happy to accept the suicidal shutting down of their economies to try to halt a virus that predominantly causes old and sick people to die just a few weeks or months before they would have anyway. Just as they enthusiastically endorse proclamations such as that there are 46 sexes, not two; that the flatulence of a cow must be reduced to save a polar bear; that millions of migrants from the Third World must be invited to Europe and assumed to be neurosurgeons; and so on.

The widespread opinion that everything, including economies, must be sacrificed to beat coronavirus is a revival of medieval witch hunts; the sacrifice seems more important than finding an effective method to deal with the problem.

Our increasingly decadent mass culture has gradually become more ideological and openly opposed to the values Western civilization is based upon. And while it boasts of being ‘counter-culture’ and independent, it’s acquired a monopoly over almost all the information channels that determine opinions, including mainstream media and political parties.

If the disease was actually worth the hysteria, I am sure our natural humane rational fear would kick in to save us. I would run fast from syphilis or plague, but a mere flu-type of disease, worth of shutting down the same economy which will feed us later? I don’t think so. And since when did governments and people in power actually cared about us anyway. They care about their agendas and interest. “When something appears out of nowhere and suddenly it’s everywhere, then it’s an agenda”, to quote the wonderfully intelligent and eloquent David Icke. This whole thing is an agenda and if you don’t see that, please take off your blind fold and awake to the truth.

David Icke:

The reason we are so controlled is not that we don’t have the power to decide our own destiny, it is that we give that power away every minute of our lives. When something happens that we don’t like, we look for someone else to blame. When there is a problem in the world, we say “What are they going to do about it”. At which point they, who have secretly created the problem in the first place, respond to this demand by introducing a ‘solution’ – more centralisation of power and erosion of freedom. If you want to give more powers to the police, security agencies and military, and you want the public to demand you do it, then ensure there is more crime, violence and terrorism, and then it’s a cinch to achieve your aims. Once the people are in fear of being burgled, mugged or bombed, they will demand that you take their freedom away to protect them from what they have been manipulated to fear. The Oklahoma bombing is a classic of this kind, as I detail in ..And The Truth Shall Set You Free. I call this technique problem-reaction-solution.

Create the problem, encourage the reaction “something must be done”, and then offer the solution. It is summed up by the Freemason motto ‘Ordo Ab Chao’ -order out of chaos. Create the chaos and then offer the way to restore order. Your order. The masses are herded and directed by many and varios forms of emotional and mental control. It is the only way it coud be done.

The situation now is how it is, unfortunately I do not posses magical powers to change it, although I wish I did. But these days I find myself asking: what can I do? What can we all do? We – the powerless silent people who are controlled and manipulated by the media and the governments. I feel so futile against the madness, the hysteria and stupidity everywhere, the bizarre 1984 ridiculousness which I never thought I would see in my life. Dystopia left the book pages and is walking freely among us. So, what can we do? We can take a deep breath and calm down, we can stop believing everything we read in the media and realise this whole panic for what it is – panic. Use reason and calmness to fight this irrational fear and panic. Question everything and widen the scope of your reading and research. Ponder on the nature of events, don’t believe the narrative. Be skeptical and don’t just accept this situation for what we are made to believe.

When we read these dystopian novels, it is easy to sympathise with the main character and it’s easy to see how controlling and cruel the system is, but in real life we can’t seem to distance ourselves in that way, and we should. We should observe the situation and not see it as real, for after all we are “the timeless space in which the phenomena are happening”, as David R. Hawkins wrote in his book “The Stairway to Enlightenment”. Both David Icke and Hawkins suggest the most important thing is to have high vibration; that of love, peace and joy. Humour, hope and love, not panic, fear and uncertainty. Yesterday I opened another one of his books, my favourite one, “The Pathway to Surrender” on page thirty-three and the message was there:

“The lower our emotional state, the more negatively we influence not only our lives but also all of life around us. The higher the emotional level of evolution, the more positive our life becomes on all levels, and we support all life around us. As negative emotions are acknowledged and surrendered, we get freer and move up the scale, eventually experiencing predominately positive feelings. All lower emotions are limitations and blind us to the reality of our true Self.”

I don’t wish to argue or impose any truths on my readers, but I do want to enjoy my freedom of speech right while we still have it and just point out at the strangeness of the situation and encourage people to think and awake to the truth. I was angry at first, but now I am almost glad that things are getting so ridiculous because it means that even the most ignorant people will wake up and see there’s something wrong. You don’t have to be conspiracy theorist to see that something is very very very wrong now!!!

I chose Vincent van Gogh’s painting for this post because his art was creates by chaos and sadness, Beauty out of despair, and we can all see this situation as a springboard to creativity and a chance to reconsider our values in life. With your freedom so crudely taken away, you begin to value it and cherish it.

My Inspiration for January 2020

31 Jan

This January exceeded my expectations by far, what lovely and inspirational weeks these have been. Because it’s cold and grey outside, I tried occupying myself with my hobbies and pursuits instead of wasting time pining for spring and flowers. I started the new year and the new decade with the biography of Dora Maar written by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz; it was a wonderful window into the glamorous and tortured life of this photographer and the muse of Picasso, then I read a romanticised biography of Michelangelo called “Agony and Ecstasy” written by Irving Stone. I am not even a fan of Michelangelo or Renaissance, but Stone beautifully brought the time period and the artist’s feelings to life. I read a few fantastic novels: Hunger by Knut Hamsun, The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark which tells a story of a few schoolgirls in Edinburgh in the 1930s and their wildly romantical, stubborn, idealistic and kind of crazy teacher, Miss Jean Brodie. It made me daydream of the time period and reminisce of my grammar school days. Everything can serve as a springboard for nostalgia. And I am also more than halfway through reading the autobiography of my Hero; Morrissey and it is so wonderfully written, so witty and amusing, so vibrant and sincere… I truly cannot understand why people don’t like him, I never thought sincerity or vegetarianism which he promotes could be a crime?

“She was a romantic, sentimental child, with a preference for solitude, few friends, and a propensity to be moved to tears when the roses in the garden bloomed, when she smelled the rags and soap the nuns used as they bent over their tasks, and when she stayed behind to experience the melancholy stillness of the empty classrooms.”
(Isabel Allende, The House of The Spirits)

John Corbet, Anne writing a letter in winter, 2020, pastel and watercolour. Found here.

Pic found here.

Pic found here.

By: Andrea | dr_difilippo

Lough Key Ireland, by Max Malloy