Sunday Salon 7-13-14

Time: 7:00 a.m. Sunday, up a little later than usual, but not feeling overly guilty about it.

Place: Back at my main computer, which had been out of commission. It wasn’t starting up, so I took it into the local shop and paid $49 to find out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. And sure enough, it’s working fine now. I have no explanation, nor did the repairer.

Reading: My current major reading project is Umberto Eco’s The Book of Legendary Lands, which is quite a lovely experience so far. I am also gradually working my way through The Mindful Way Workbook, which is providing some helpful hints. And having recently discovered Gabrielle Bell, the wonderful graphic novelist, or comic diarist as she is sometimes called, I’ve started on her book The Voyeurs.

Viewing: Twice a year, Barnes and Noble has a 50% off sale on the Criterion Collection, which is sort of a boon for film fans, except that they, which is to say I, purchase more films than absolutely necessary. This has allowed me to see, finally, Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love, a haunting and vaguely disorienting film about the relationships, romantic and otherwise, in a young Japanese woman’s life. It’s very different from Kiarostami’s last film, the much acclaimed Certified Copy, but leaves the viewer unsettled in much the same way. (By the way, Kiarostami’s totally gorgeous 1999 film The Wind Will Carry Us is about to come out on Blu-ray, and I will be all over that.) Several other Criterions I bought, including Breaking the Waves, Master of the House, and Picnic at Hanging Rock, await. Also viewed this week was Jacques Rivette’s Le Pont du Nord, which was about as enigmatic as the Kiarostami film. I also had the opportunity to attend a performance by Jean-Michel Richaud of Leonard Nimoy’s one-man play Vincent this past Thursday at the Nevada Museum of Art. Years ago I saw Mr. Nimoy himself perform the play, in which Theo van Gogh talks about his recently deceased brother, on television, and it was great seeing it again.

Listening: Not so much music listening the last couple of weeks, for reasons addressed below.

Blogging: I finally put a mind to completing the writing I have long wanted to do on the subject of Chinese calligraphy, having been inspired months ago by the exhibition Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (and now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Many pages of notes, and a general sense of inadequacy, left me overwhelmed for a long time. Finally I arrived at a form for all the stuff – two posts, an introductory blog post on the wider subject of calligraphy in China, followed by a review of the exhibition catalog. The latter, by the way, was the 200th post I’ve made to my blog! This whole project was a lot of work. But the result is fairly acceptable, and now it’s done!

Pondering: (1) The vagaries of my mood. As I’ve described here in recent weeks, I’ve been having some slight depression problems. But a week or two ago these suddenly vanished, like mist dispersing and evaporating as the sun rises. Now everything is more or less fine. Why this happened is as mysterious as why the darkness descended in the first place. But I’m not complaining about the result! (2) As part of my increased exercise regimen, I have been working my way through the Couch-to-5K running program. Earlier this week I started Week 4, which features a considerable increase in activity from Week 3, and I wasn’t able to complete the first day. Yesterday was Week 4 Day 2, and at first I thought I was going to have to abandon the last five minutes of running and fail again. But I willed myself on, and as I did I had a strange experience, very like the one described in mindfulness meditation. While meditating, instead of dwelling on thoughts and feelings, you’re asked to observe them, stepping slightly outside of one’s self as it were. As I ran, rather than feeling exhausted, I was somehow able to observe myself being exhausted instead, at a remove, and I completed the run without too much difficulty. This is an experience I need to remember, and call upon when other difficult circumstances arise.

Anticipating: The end of my wisdom tooth extraction-related pain. The infection and swelling on the left side of my mouth still hasn’t quite gone away, making chewing actual food difficult.

Gratuitous Seven Pieces of Advice from Rumi:

In generosity and helping others be like the river.
In compassion and grace be like the sun.
In concealing others’ faults be like the night.
In anger and fury be like the dead.
In modesty and humility be like the soil.
In tolerance be like the ocean.
Either you appear as you are or be as you appear.

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