Cristina's Library

Joie de livres

Escape

This book was one of the most memorable of my childhood. C.S Lewis’ letter to Lucy says, “Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” And so, tonight I descend into the world of Narnia, because I need to remember.

narnia

A Colour Manifesto

Deep purple is the colour of comfortable insanity, opaque in its very nature. It represents the past, intellectualism, the mysterious, the endless. Everything accentuates purple. To wear deep purple does not reflect royalty, but a delicious secrecy.

Dark green is the colour of love.

Orange is the movement of crisp Autumn leaves dangling in moonlight like dried olives before the Mediterranean sea.

Navy blue is the colour of wonder, ambition.

Deep red is the colour of envy.

Black is the colour of birth, newness.

Gold is the colour of desire.

Fantasia

Fantasia improvvisata

Tonight I found myself drawn to the outdoors, wandering into the park of my childhood. I was walking down the sidewalk when I saw someone familiar, a young girl peering out from beneath her hunched, awkward pose and baggy jacket. She had an unsteady gait, veering from left to right as she regarded the trees with curiosity, stepped in patterns, dropped something, then bent to pick it up again. We met, and descended the steep hill, lined with mustard-coloured maple trees tinged bronze in the glow of hazy streetlamps; together, not speaking, towards winding gravel paths below. Soon, though, she made a turn and continued on her way, swallowed by the night. I looked after her for a moment, but she did not reappear. I wandered to the willow tree by the bridge, my steadfast willow tree, the one I would escape to in dark moments, once upon a time. I stood underneath in absolute stillness, surrounded by space, the vastness of eternal space, bordered by pine trees and silence, a familiar, welcome feeling of loneliness creeping into my heart. What is it that pervades our senses, our thoughts, to the point of fatigue — the other, the shadow of our ambition and fear, that thing that makes us question ourselves each time we feel the burden of ordinariness weighing inexhaustibly down on us. Gazing at the moon through the de0c246397fc8254163c62a5ed08c978tree’s long branches, which hung around me in a protective circle, tickling the ground, I felt ensconced, embraced, as though in a peaceful, tiny Womb. I moved around the circle in a kind of slow-motion dance, compelled by a warm wind, and ran my fingers through its spindly tendrils of willow leaves, which began to move in a blur, drawing skeletal outlines of images in the air, cutting through the deep blue sky — a wristwatch, a book, illegible scrawl, oval mirrors. Starlight and moonlight entwined in the aether, a shimmering, translucent blanket on which rests the dreams of earth people, and I let myself suffocate in its folds, around and around and around. Time passed, I don’t know how much. A few minutes, hours, days, a second. After a while, I found my way out, stumbling onto the grass, shaking as I stood. I stopped, afraid, suddenly aware of twisting shadows, the Cimmerian gloom, how alone I truly was. I wondered if I should go further, or turn around and go home. And then the beginning of Dante’s Inferno came to mind, glaringly, “Midway on my life’s journey, I found myself in a dark woods, for the straightforward path had been lost.”
And so I went forward into the darkness.

-Cristina

Eunoia

Eunoia is the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εὔνοια, meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking”. Cicero translates eunoia with the Latin word benevolentia.

A ginger tea gets less and less warm in my hand as I stare out at the sky, drinking intermittently, relaxing alone on my balcony on a weekday evening. It’s a moment that I scarcely thought I’d experience again anytime soon. Too much time spent at work, two full-time jobs, has imbibed in me an almost pervasive sense of obligation, responsibility, diligence, vague depression. I awoke this morning panicked, worried that I was late, wondering if I had enough time to take a quick shower, if I have become that person lacking balance in life between work and pleasure. I do what I can to save myself from the horror of stasis and routine – yoga, reading, writing, creating, learning, music, love, family. If only I could immerse myself in those things all the time. We have lost a human culture to capitalism.

Then I remembered, no, today is my day off, and tomorrow, too. I can internally celebrate the news that a couple of Canadian literary journals have accepted my short stories for print publication. I can indulge in the creativity I crave, and finish the novel that I’ve been living in for the past week, on too-brief train or bus rides. I can relax and breathe deeply and lounge outside for hours, stargazing and watching the world move in moonlight. I can imagine.

We have forgotten the beauty of night, locking ourselves in our homes during those crucial hours, missing all of its morbid, beautiful, frightful obscurities. Cicero declared the stars to be gods born out of the aether that possessed sensation and intelligence, and on clear nights like this, I am compelled to believe him. I used to sit outside on my balcony as a child, a teenager, in university, a candle burning beside me, book in hand, stars above, the houses across the street enshrouded in darkness. I would vow to not sleep, to stay outside for as long as possible until I was found, meditating without realizing it. I do this less and less now, but tonight I feel that sense of peaceful déjà vu, reliving a moment I loved. Eunoia.

Unlike the sun, the moon does not reveal, it transforms, and the houses begin to look like faces, garages turned up at the corners in a wicked smile, and then they become mirrors, the windows my own droopy eyes. The moments from our past that shape and refine our future seem to crop up at unassuming interludes. There is a time when you might think that you have lost a part of yourself, misplaced or forgotten in the drone of everyday life, the changed responsibilities and goals. But it seems to work paradoxically, in that the things we’ve lost are the very things that never leave us. I have to sleep soon, but I’m cherishing this moment first, for a little while longer.

The Heart of the Beat

ancient_clock_wallpaper_3-t2A thought for Earth Day (which is every day): the Circadian timer in each human being is aware that we’re on a 24-hr planet, and we’re unconsciously, innately able to measure time. The environmental cues that reset the rhythms each day are called “zeitgebers”, German for “time-givers”; the clock resets itself daily to the earth’s rotation. Therefore, the earth is literally built into our cells.

Listen to this podcast, “Ideas” with Paul Kennedy on CBC Radio 1. Discussing the heart of the beat, and what it is about rhythm, patterns, and synchronization that fascinates us. Why humans unconsciously tend toward falling in step, and how this is reflected in nature. SO INTERESTING.

http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/ideas_20130422_27399.mp3

The Flash

The Flash by Italo Calvino

It happened one day, at a crossroads, in the middle of a crowd, people coming and going.
I stopped, blinked: suddently I understood nothing. Nothing, nothing about anything: I did not understand the reasons for things or for people, it was all senseless, absurd. I laughed.
What I found strange at the time was that I had never realized before; that up until then I had accepted everything: traffic lights, cars, posters, uniforms, monuments, things completely detached from any sense of the world, accepted them as if there were some necessity, some chain of cause and effect that bound them together.
Then my laugh died. I blushed, ashamed. I waved to get people’s attention. “Stop a moment!” I shouted, “there is something wrong! Everything is wrong! We are doing the absurdest things. This cannot be the right way. Where can it end?”
People stopped around me, sized me up, curious. I stood there in the middle of them, waving my arms, desparate to explain myself, to have them share the flash of insight that had suddenly enlightened me: and I said nothing. I said nothing because the moment I had raised my arms and opened my mouth, my great revelation had been as it were swallowed up again and the words had come out any old how, on impulse.
“So?” people asked, “What do you mean? Everything is in its place. All is as it should be. Everything is a result of something else. Everything fits in with everything else. We cannot see anything wrong or absurd.”
I stood there, lost, because as I saw it now everything had fallen into place again and everything seemed normal, traffic lights, monuments, uniforms, towerblocks, tramlines, begggards, processions; yet this did not calm me, it tormented me.
“I am sorry,” I said. “Perhaps it was I who was wrong. It seemd that way then. But everything is fine now. I am sorry.” And I made off amid their angry glares.
Yet, even now, every time (and it is often) that I find I do not understand something, then, instincitively, I am filled with the hope that perhaps this will be my moment again, perhaps once again I shall understand nothing, I shall grasp the other knowledge, found and lost in an instant.

A letter from E.B White