Sunday Salon 5-25-14

Time: 7:30 a.m. Sunday.

Place: At my main computer, enjoying the very quiet morning. Most days at this time would be dominated by cars warming up and little dogs yipping at one another.

Reading: This morning I finished Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. It was a long, diffuse, but quite fascinating story of a group of college students that, under the influence of their classical studies, wind up committing a couple of murders and endeavor to keep them secret. Both the characters and story were really compelling, especially appealing for the more bookish among us. Now I’m anxious to move on to Tartt’s most recent book, The Goldfinch. I’m also close to the end of Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live, which has so far helped me considerably in identifying the problem areas in my life, even though the solutions haven’t become evident yet. I am now at that wonderful stage when I can decide what I’d like to read next. I don’t know if it will be fiction or non-fiction, art history or biography or novel. As I’m fairly sure I already own more books than I will ever be able to read in this lifetime, at least I’ll have a range of choices!

Viewing: Two Criterion Blu-rays were the extent of my movie watching this week. Autumn Sonata, oddly enough, I had never seen before. A typically claustrophobic Ingmar Bergman drama, it was just the thing for me at the time. Ingrid Bergman, in the only time she worked with her namesake Ingmar, apparently came into this production overly prepared and spent the first couple of days of shooting overacting terribly. But Ingmar intervened, and now the exchanges between Ingrid and Liv Ullmann (who remains for me one of the most fascinating-looking women ever in film) are pretty mesmerizing. Also viewed was another much-praised film I had somehow missed the first time around, Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums, which managed to combine rather dark, personal subject matter, a whimsical storytelling style, and vibrant visuals in an entirely wonderful way. Amazingly, this is the first Wes Anderson film I’ve ever seen. Now I must seek out more.

Listening: Not much in the way of music listening this week, other than a few odds and ends on YouTube.

Blogging: Yesterday I posted the final installment of my southeast Asia travel journal, documenting my trip this past February through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. This project also provided me the excuse to go through the hundreds of photos I took, many dozens of which appear in the journal entries. The journal has its own tab at the top of my website now, so access to it is quick and easy. Now that the journal, which dominated several weeks of my blogging, is done, I have to figure out what to do next.

Pondering: A week ago today I broke up with my girlfriend of several weeks, or rather she broke up with me. Little else has entered my pondering recently. Instead of this Salon you’re reading now, I had originally written a long, extremely personal piece about the woman, the relationship, and the breakup. But after seeking out some friends for advice, making that essay public came to seem like a bad idea. So I will keep it to myself, for now at least. While I never actually got a chance to talk with her about what happened, my best guess is that I was looking for a passionate romantic relationship, and she was looking for someone nice to go places and do things with. We were on different life courses. I might have been able to moderate my emotions to be more in sync with her needs, but then I wouldn’t have been true to myself, would I? Nevertheless, I’m still filled with regrets and longing.

Anticipating: Another trip to San Francisco for some art, music, and baseball may be in the offing. Otherwise, though, my thinking has been too dark to do much anticipating of anything.

Gratuitous Rainer Maria Rilke Quote of the Week: As I was in the midst of my emotional tumult of the last couple of weeks, looking through a Rainer Maria Rilke anthology provided me great solace. More than once in my life have I had the experience of opening a Rilke book, sometimes quite at random, and finding a quotation that seems directly relevant to me and my life. The following one was my big discovery for the week. My Facebook friends have already seen this. Perhaps it will hold some meaning for you too.

“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.”

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