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Category Archives: Life

Four Days in January: A Letter to Jillsan – Nils-Johan Jørgensen

letteringThis is a modern tale, a journey of the heart, a road back, revisiting many cities and enduring Eastern and Western sentiments to light and lighten our understanding of life’s fleeting appearance.

It is a way of honouring the life of a loved one, to tell a personal story that reflects the shared, universal truth of the silence of loss from Kakimoto to Goethe and beyond.

Four Days in January is a beautifully told, deeply moving and poignant letter of loss, yet also the celebration of the life of a loved one through allegory, music, poetry and personal records.

Told in letter-form, Four Days in January records the story of two lovers and their lives through marriage and parenthood following his diplomatic career spent in different parts of the world, and the role and dedication of the diplomat’s wife.

Here is a very open volume that offers an array of inspirational thoughts for anyone facing loss and bereavement.

Having read most of Mr Jørgensen’s other books this one, whilst no less readable was an altogether different beast. It is a meditation on life as well as loss.  A union of two coming together to live as one, of a love that really shines through, a life lived fully but also a statement on the cruelty of having it cut short.

The beginning takes us through the unfolding tragedy of a life suddenly declining. It is told in an unflinching way and it moved this reader immensely.  Despite reading this book in January, I know that the opening will be the best one I read all year, which is saying something as I continue to amass great literature.

This personal final letter to his love is an intimate portrait, delicately penned, a chronicle of a shared existence, told through a number of key vignettes.  What makes this an intensely moving piece of work is that it is real life, good and bad things happen but it is a reminder to appreciate it every day for what it is.  Even the most mundane of times can become something beautiful when viewed the right way. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 23/02/2017 in Autobiography, Life, Memoir

 

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Moving On and Up(stairs)

Finally I have returned!  After an absolutely tiring week (a fortnight ago now), which is now thankfully over, I managed to not only pack and move to Nottingham but also secure a job closer to my new home. Since then I have largely loafed about flipping my sleeping pattern which is more challenging than I remember from last year.  I did manage to unpack the majority of my books though…except for these ones pictured here, which are a moving in present to myself and a celebration of an end to seven months of night work.

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I only went in to look for one book (Karl Popper’s The Open Society and its Enemies) but not having been around for a while, it morphed from being a secondhand shop with familiar spines to a new treasure trove which combined into a haul faster than those Transformers did to make a really big one in the classic 80’s cartoon and merchandise machine.  I was also delighted to note the addition of some chairs and a roaring fire which will make my stays longer now.

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There are as ever plenty more good books for me to get down and review and will finally be able to catch up with you all in the next couple of days as well.  It’s been too long and there has been little reading in my life of late so I will get back to it soon and hopefully help you out with a few Christmas present ideas.

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Posted by on 12/12/2016 in Life, Lists/Ephemera

 

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Their Duty Done: Forest Town and the Great War – Tim Priestley

wp_20161122_001Forest Town in Nottinghamshire would send many of its men to war.  This is the story of those who never returned and whose names are inscribed on the local memorial.

From every city to the smallest of villages around Britain, every traveller will always come across a war memorial dedicated – most often – to those fallen in World War One and World War Two.

All too often one finds themself looking at the names of these people and imagining those times and of the utter devastation of the population and the trauma suffered both at the front and of those waiting back home to hear news; yet waiting in dread as each letter may be an official notification of death.

Their Duty Done, reminds us that each name on the memorial stones and the graveyards spread around the world belonged to real people, with families, jobs and a sense of duty.

Whether you are familiar with my neck of the woods or not, Forest Town and its surrounding area is a typical example of any town you care to pick from, all of which saw many men go to war. FT has the distinction of being a mining town which perhaps aided (for those in that occupation) with the speed of demobilisation and arguably saved many from the early stages of the war, if they chose not to volunteer.

The first half of the book gives a brief overview of each year of the war and chronicles those who died, giving details of their ages, rank and date of death.  There is also a write-up about each soldier, from their birthplace , parent’s names, job, army history and the details of their demise and resting places, where the bodies could be recovered.

It brings home the fact that each person was real, it seems obvious, of course  but with all the literature, films and so on, it is easy to be fixated on the final body count of various battles and the war in total.  In essence we have become desensitised to the human side of war, in the face of the sheer scale of carnage. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 24/11/2016 in History, Life

 

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501

There seems to be an element of timing that fails me but then balances out through the kindness of other people for which I am very grateful.  Being taken up with getting into the nitty-gritty of The Wire, I missed the opportunity to do the Big Thing I had always planned for post 500, which is disappointing as I failed to really achieve anything from the 400th post.

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It crept up quickly – as these things do –  this time and I will be making sure I book a bit of time off work in the near future to enact my plans which will be something different from my norm but that is all you are getting out of me for the moment…

Today’s post instead of being a celebration of a milestone will be, firstly a big thank you to Jess Harpley for sending me a mass of books and merchandise as well as unknowingly managing the timing for this, my 501st post.  Secondly I extend my appreciation to all of you, be you authors gifting me your hard work or a regular reader, that’s what the blog is all about and yes I am aware of how quiet I have been of late.  It could be blog related and will be if I can find an angle to make me feel less guilty about disappearing so completely. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 08/09/2016 in Blogging, Life

 

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Plagiarism as an Art Form

Have you in the last year or so looked for free essays to plagiarise? Have you adapted what seemed to be attractive material into your essay or dissertation without properly checking or referencing…

Some of you may have asked these questions of students before and some of you may have taken part in the Koolhaus discussion on my review of ‘his’ book Creative Theory, Radical Example, well now the link between these two is revealed and discussed over at Jeff’s blog pertaining to the use of technology and how it’s changing education.  Check the link below.

Source: Plagiarism as an Art Form

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Posted by on 10/08/2016 in Art, Blogging, Essays, Journalism, Life

 

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Days of Reading – Marcel Proust

Books!In these inspiring essays about why we read, Proust explores all the pleasures and trials that we take from books, as well as explaining the beauty of Ruskin and his work, and the joys of losing yourself in literature as a child.

Part of the challenge with Proust is finding plenty of time in which to become intimately involved with his approach to writing.  This is my first reading experience of P. and his style is impressively immersive and made me feel nostalgic for places  and a time I have never experienced.

Plenty of essays ramble on but P. prefers clear concise language whilst being able to digress at will, yet each meandering discovery the reader makes always – eventually – comes back to the original point but makes one feel richer for the detour.

It’s a joy to read, although it is understandable that Proust splits readers due to his technique.  This reader had to change his mindset and learn to soak up the ambience of the prose, rather than feeling I was getting somewhere with plot or idea like I usually would.  In that regard the first few pages were a grind but realising that the author was going to take his time puts the reader either resigns the reader to a long haul or to the appreciation of a slow meditation of life.

The book opens with an essay on John Ruskin’s contribution to the understanding and appreciation of art and architecture, especially inspired by Christianity.  How art in general echoes its greatness (when it is) through the centuries and reaches to us emotionally, each example studied is a communing with antiquity.  It’s a study of us as well as a celebration of what we can achieve through our own creativity.

The essays on childhood memories and in particular of reading books when the mind is still open to the most innocent wonder and imagination is gloriously evocative writing.  Proust appreciates how rereading books brings forth a tangible memory of his formative years, he mirrors the echoing of art down the ages with thoughts, of ideas from our past that define modern life; not to mention timeless characters, books and the universal joy for all seasons and people. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 30/07/2016 in Architecture, Art, Autobiography, Essays, History, Life

 

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Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs – Jeremy Mercer

ExcitementFoodInfestations‘Shakespeare and Company’ in Paris is one of the world’s most famous bookshops. The original store opened in 1921 and became known as the haunt of literary greats, such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Bernard Shaw, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce.

Sadly the shop was forced to close in 1941, but that was not the end of ‘Shakespeare and Company’… In 1951 another bookshop, with a similar free-thinking ethos, opened on the Left Bank and, in 1964, it resurrected the name ‘Shakespeare and Company’ and became the principal meeting place for Beatnik poets, such as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, through to Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell.

Today the tradition continues and writers still find their way to this bizarre establishment, one of them being Jeremy Mercer. With no friends, no job, no money and no prospects, the thrill of escape from his life in Canada soon palls but, by chance, he happens upon the fairytale world of ‘Shakespeare and Co’…

This is my first book review since June 9th, as strange as that sounds so apologies to all if I am a bit rusty at it.

Having just recently come back from being away, it is perhaps somewhat predictable that my thoughts would be on far away (or not in this case) destinations so my first review is of a travel book but in a cunning reversal, it is of a traveller crossing the opposite way over the Atlantic.

Mercer opens the book talking about the type of life he had as a crime reporter and how the job affected him.  By allowing himself to be consumed with his journalistic work, his life choices became somewhat dubious and by choosing to leave that behind, he is able to look at his past mistakes with candour and clarity.

Finding his way to Shakespeare & Company soon enough is one heck of a backdrop for any book, a seeming ideal place for artists to do there work, as legend has it.  It’s a setting that attracts wanderers and the lost and holds plenty of eccentricities down to its primitive toilet and the unconventional owner George, who invites people to stay on a whim.

Drifters and dreamers inhabit the shop, all of whom are characters and few ever seem to get anything creative down on paper.  There is a camaraderie to the communal life, as all are sharing the kindness of strangers and beds in amongst the books.  Life lacks romance for the cash strapped dwellers but that in itself is the allure for the rest of us who aren’t experiencing it.  Looking at the actual day-to-day routine of Mercer’s new friends, it is hard not to feel like they are wasting their time when they have this opportunity to write but the struggle to stave off hunger and bad hygiene is a time-consuming one, as is the need for a bottle of wine or two. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 22/07/2016 in Life, Travel

 

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