Place: At my main computer, hoping that the warmth and stuffiness of the air will clear with all the windows open.
Reading: My main reading this week has been in A Man of Parts by David Lodge. This is a fictionalized biography of H.G. Wells, told largely through the prism of his romantic relationships. Oddly enough, it is exactly that aspect of the book that is unfortunately making it somewhat tiresome for me. Having liked many of Lodge’s books in the past, I admire the clarity and humor of his writing. I’m sure, too, that his research on Wells was thorough. Therefore, I don’t doubt that Wells had a large number of affairs and relationships in his life. I also don’t doubt that he was quite the specimen sexually, or that practically every woman he met between the ages of 18 and 25 was not only beautiful but also wanted desperately to sleep with him. But the parade of such women, for me at least, has become a little tedious.
Viewing: This week was a slow one for films. Continuing to make my way through the Criterion set Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project, I watched Metin Erksan’s Dry Summer, a quite beautifully photographed black-and-white film from 1964 that deals with a farmer that, during the season of the title, decides to shut off the water supply from the spring on his land, on which his fellow farmers have long relied. It was a rather dark tale that escalated into violence in an unsurprising way. Liked, but didn’t love. Also on the schedule was a second viewing of Samsara, Ron Fricke’s follow-up to Baraka, a particular favorite of mine. Samsara is much more somber in tone, perhaps not as likeable as Baraka, but still quite a journey, with the stunning photography that marked the earlier film.
Listening: I’ve quite liked the anthology Cold Blue Two, a collection of shorter pieces by composers and artists from the Cold Blue Records catalog. A few of the composers – Daniel Lentz, Ingram Marshall, John Luther Adams – were familiar to me, but many were not. The collection showed remarkable unity despite the variety of musical styles represented. A full review will probably find its way onto this blog before very long. I am also continuing some tentative work on my own music writing, accumulating bits and pieces that may become something larger someday.
Blogging: I was actually pleased with my blogging this week, as I completed two fairly substantial pieces. “Looking at Bellini’s St. Francis in the Desert,” the second installment of my “Looking At” series on famous artworks, was a long time in the making but turned out pretty well. On the other hand, the post on “The Hungry Ghosts” was an idea that I had this past Wednesday night, and had finished by Friday morning. It came quickly and easily, perhaps because it seemed quite relevant to my life right now.
Pondering: I am in the midst of a weeks-long period of extreme sadness, bordering on depression. The recent breakup that I’ve mentioned in past Salons is part of the cause, but it extends much further than that. This sadness has caused me to behave in a number of unaccustomed ways. My writing in this Salon, in my blog more generally, and on my Facebook page has gotten more personal, and emotional, than it had been in the past (a couple of pieces I’ve written for the blog but decided not to make public have been even more personal). I’ve picked up the pace of my gym visits, started jogging again after many years, started writing music again after even more years, and have been reaching out (mostly unsuccessfully, but not entirely so) to people for companionship. All of these ring somewhat of futility with me, but at least I’m trying. What I’m pondering is whether I should seek out professional help for my problem from a counselor or psychologist or something. The answer, I believe, is yes.
Anticipating: Seeing the documentary film Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World this afternoon at the Nevada Museum of Art.
Gratuitous Poem of the Week: By Hafez of Shiraz (1325–1389)…
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.