Movie Musings – Masculin Féminin

Masculin Féminin is bursting with literary allegories, motifs, and themes. One could do a feminist interpretation of the way Madeleine constantly plays with her hair and touches up her makeup. One could psychoanalyze the scene where Catherine eats an apple. But I, for one, will spare you all that in lieu of a feverishly written fit of personal opinion…

Seeing this movie, I felt like a Parisian café dweller eavesdropping on a particular group of people as I watched the world go by. The dialogue was so natural and unvarnished, it could only be the fragments of an overheard conversation. Like an extension of the French custom of people-watching, this film celebrated those little details, plot lines, and tiny idiosyncrasies that you fill in about someone when you pass him or her on the streets. Skipping to the beat of France in the ’60s, this movie presents a perfectly imperfect picture of life as a blithe adolescent in that time and place. Continue reading

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Snapshots No. 7 – Due to Inclement Weather…

Speaking from giddy experience, there’s nothing more fantastic than a snow day except another completely unexpected snow day, announced just as your first one draws to a reluctant close. The phrase “due to inclement weather” is a beautiful thing indeed. I’ve been whiling away my sweet time reading a great book (Specialty Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, which, for those who might not know, is not in fact a discourse on colliding particles but a whirring fiction novel that sweeps one off his/her feet) and drinking Keurig’s Single Cup Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa. If you’re familiar with Blue van Meer, I’m starting to think my writing has subconsciously picked up a “Bluish” tint to it. As in, I feel like I’m talking like the character whose murder-mysterious, electrifying world I’ve currently fallen into..

To book lovers the world over, pick up this read for your next escapade. It’s crackling with intelligence (there are more esoteric literary, political, and academic references in this novel than snow flakes on my front lawn),  brimming with one-of-a-kind analogies (“If Servo were in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, he’d be the Painfully Tragic character, the one who wore bronze suits and alligator shoes”), full of marvelous observations (“The fluorescent lights made a soured halo around his hair so he looked like a hand-painted Jesus one finds hanging on clammy walls of churches that smell of Gruyère.” And also, “Shutting down disturbances…was the only reason Ms. Hambone ever emerged from her office, where she allegedly spent her day shopping http://www.QVC.com for Easter Limited-Quantity Collectibles and Goddess Glamour Jewelry.”), and populated by extremely three-dimensional, larger than life characters that threaten to step off the page and invite you to a cup of coffee, or, depending on who you’re dealing with here, invite you to go camping only to leave you stranded in the forest.

There I go again, talking like the narrator of whatever book I’m reading at the time. It’s a pesky habit I have.

Smarthistory.com

I’m so excited to tell you guys about Smarthistory! I featured Artsy.net back in August and now, here’s another way the internet is boosting my right-brained soul. Smarthistory.com “is the leading open educational resource for art history.” In short, this is a gold mine for budding autodidacts like myself eager to learn how to find enlightenment in a tasteful dab of paint. Academic yet accessible essays and videos will teach you how to appreciate all those enigmatic pieces, the ones you know have some sort of cultural significance lurking behind that funny tree squiggle and blob of a person.  To get started, here are some videos and articles to read and watch: a delightful video on the art of making Greek vases, an introduction to Impressionism, an enlightening discussion on Couture’s Roman’s of the Decadence, an intro to Buddhism, a study of Giotto’s Arena Ghapel, an analysis of Matisse’s Luxe, calme et volupté, and, my favorite so far, an essay about Matisse’s Goldfish.

Mike Frederiqo Fashion Illustrations

I’m a recent émigré to the whimsical world of illustrations. Its polka-dot elephants and sassy stars (Marc Johns) beat reality a hundred to one. This fanciful planet is already populated by a furry bear playing a keyboard and another dressed as a narwhal (Julia Pott), but now, the style legends have entered the realm, thanks to Mike Frederiqo and his peachy fashion illustrations. You might have already seen them making their rounds on the internet. Nevertheless, enjoy some inspiration today with these bendy, stretchy logos as they pay an offbeat homage to sartorial greats. Anna Wintour looks quite charming like that, wouldn’t you say?
P.S. Blogging will be suffering a bit of a setback as first semester ends. Please excuse the hiatus over the next few days as I’ll be busy with phosphorylation cascades, G-protein-linked receptors, and cyclic AMP…. Oh how I wish I could activate a transcription factor triggering a gene for the instant memorization protein.

Artsy.net

New obsession! It’s called Artsy.net and it’s fueling my resurgent love of art. After Paris and its numerous museums displaying the finest, subtle brushstrokes of paint on canvas, I’ve been hungrily scouring every place to find more. Right now I’m all for modern and impressionist. I’m trying to give myself an art history education, and so far my curriculum involves scrolling through Artsy.net. The only thing missing is Rick Steve’s walking audio tour (I used it in the Musée d’Orsay, is that frowned upon?) that gently pointed out the themes, motifs, and historical context behind each work of art, making me feel smart and cultured. But for right now at least, I’m okay with ignorantly staring at these masterpieces, contemplating my own meanings and thinking to myself, “Ah yes, the contours and lines are so lovely. The dots and dabs of colour, so dashing. And would you look at that monochromatic harmony!” I’m no collector, if that’s not already apparent, but I’m an eager appreciator and Artsy.net is good for collectors and appreciators alike.

Artsy’s mission is to make all the world’s art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. We are an online platform for discovering, discussing, and collecting art. 

– Carter Cleveland, Founder and CEO

All content via Artsy.net:

Tiny Atlas Quarterly

I have a discordant, addictive love/hate relationship with quality travel blogs. When I scroll through a fresh ream of impossibly exotic photographs, I feel two conflicting emotions mix together: an aching endearment towards the priceless experience of traveling, and then, a grudging realization that I’m not actually experiencing anything. I’m only, once again, living vicariously through the internet. At this point I never know what to do with myself. I just keep going through all these photos, an array that varies from stunning vistas, humbling wooden shanties, fruit the color of fresh paint, and, of course, faces. Faces that stare unabashedly, or sheepishly, into the camera, with wrinkles, no wrinkles, browned cheeks, rosy cheeks. For me that’s my favorite part. To see the expression of a soul who’s lived in a different world. What must it be like?

Anyway, back to the real issue of this post. I’ve recently discovered this AMAZING online travel magazine with the best photography I’ve seen in a while. It’s called Tiny Atlas Quarterly. They just did a special feature on Santorini, that irresistibly simple and pure legend of a city, and I can’t stop poring over the photos they took there. They offer a tranquil and airy rendition of this cliff-side paradise and provide a completely refreshing take on a somewhat-clichéd (but never to be tired of), photogenic hotspot. These photos have a beautiful perspective that goes beyond simply capturing an already beautiful thing. Have a sneak peek here then go check out everything else this magazine offers at its website.




All photos belong to Tiny Atlas Quarterly.

Marilyn’s Poetry

I was blown away when I read this article on Brain Pickings. We all know Marilyn Monroe, no need to go off on how iconic she is, but have you ever read her poetry? When I took a look at the thoughts that went on in her head I was taken aback by all her hidden complexity. I even got goosebumps! It’s sad, actually, to be so misread by everyone. I feel like we’ll never truly know Marilyn Monroe, what with an image that’s stifled so much of her. Here are my two favorite poems of hers, courtesy of BrainPickings.org. Read them in the context of her life’s story and they shine new light on all you thought you knew about her. Read them in the context of your own story and it shines new light on that, too. Especially the first one. Really look at the first one.

Not too shabby, Marilyn.

Only parts of us will ever
touch only parts of others –
one’s own truth is just that really — one’s own truth.
We can only share the part that is understood by within another’s knowing acceptable to
the other — therefore

 so one

is for most part alone.

As it is meant to be in

evidently in nature — at best 
though perhaps it could make

our understanding seek

another’s loneliness out.

I’m finding that sincerity
and trying to be as simple or direct as (possible) I’d like
is often taken for sheer stupidity
but since it is not a sincere world –
it’s very probable that being sincere is stupid.
One probably is stupid to
be sincere since it’s in this world
and no other world that we know
for sure we exist — meaning that –
(since reality exists it should be must be dealt should be met and dealt with)
since there is reality to deal with

On another note, I’m claiming my blog on Bloglovin so please click here to follow me! xx

In the Name of Humanities

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Time for a little meditation on the encroaching habits of the Technological Age. I came across this article in New Republic (read it if you know what’s good for you!) and suddenly, my right-brained soul didn’t feel quite as subordinated. It’s a speech by Leon Wieseltier at the commencement of Brandeis University. For all those college-bound teens, we’re all getting swept up in the STEM trend. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine, the core four building blocks of the successful and wealthy of today and tomorrow. It’s the only way to go if you want to make it in life these days. But in the words of Wieseltier:

Has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were cherished less, and has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were needed more?

There are still those of us who cherish the works of human creativity, who reject, as Wieseltier describes, the “cult of data, in which no human activity and no human expression is immune to quantification, in which happiness is a fit subject for economists, [and] in which the ordeals of the human heart are inappropriately translated into mathematical expressions.” Yet of course, no one in this modern age can ever reject science. Where would I be without ibuprofen? How else could I live life Claritin clear? However, Wieseltier distinguishes science with scientism:

Scientism is not the same thing as science. Science is a blessing, but scientism is a curse. Science, I mean what practicing scientists actually do, is acutely and admirably aware of its limits, and humbly admits to the provisional character of its conclusions; but scientism is dogmatic, and peddles  certainties.

Alas, as scientism takes ahold of society with a firm grip, this “defense of the humanities” is sorely needed. I have now heard two fully credible voices proclaim the death of knowledge and the birth of information. The first was Sugata Mitra, who solemnly pondered that, perhaps, “knowing is obsolete.” And now, Wieseltier says:

In the digital universe, knowledge is reduced to the status of information…A great Jewish thinker of the early Middle Ages wondered why God, if He wanted us to know the truth about everything, did not simply tell us the truth about everything. His wise answer was that if we were merely told what we need to know, we would not, strictly speaking, know it.

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and one can’t help but wonder how all this will pan out in the long run. Will the humanities eventually cease to exist? Will culture and art and literature perish at the hands of society’s natural selection? Logically, science and math are the fittest in this new, tech-driven environment, and science itself has theorized that it’s all about survival of the fittest. But I am a lover of the humanities, and if you are human, then you should be, too. And now, we are under attack by robots. It’s actually happening. More or less at least.. More specifically, our human individuality is under attack. Wieseltier urges:

So there is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology, and to recover the old distinction — once bitterly contested, then generally accepted, now almost completely forgotten – between the study of nature and the study of man.

This is a weird, tricky situation, because we all love our little robots. I’m ironically using one right now to spread this message. I love my phone, my laptop, my Direct TV, my Tumblr..I’m pretty much Albert Einstein’s greatest fear:

I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.

In restaurants, my family and I have to set time limits on cell phone use. We have it bad. But anyway, I’m getting distracted. The point is, society as a whole these days does not prize culture and the humanities as much as it did in, say, Venus de Milo’s time. Instead, Wiesltier says,

Perhaps culture is now the counterculture.

I’ll never leave science or my robot friends now, but like all magic, all this technology must be used for good. And by good I mean the preservation of human, not mechanic, activity.

Summer = Dreams of Surfing

I sit idly on my board, letting the warm sun toast my back and shoulders, running my fingers through the salty sea, letting my tangled hair loose. I’m surrounded by ocean, by beach, by sun, sky, sand, and good vibes. Ah yes, this is my ultimate surfer dream. Just let me move somewhere near a tropical body of water, give me another round of lessons, and then I’ll let you know if this is what surfing’s really like 😉 Until then, as we all enter the heart of the summer months, take a look at some gnarly surfing photos from LIFE magazine, circa the 1950s and 60s. Rad brah.

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All photos belong to LIFE magazine, copyright of Time Inc. Click here for the full spread!