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Early tomorrow morning I will be going here, where the weather will be like this. (Obviously this will not work for long, there are 5 massive suns, yay!)

Right now I’m in the process of packing (while frantically swearing at Ryanair, Terravision, National Express, TFL and any other blood-sucking corporation that seem to do anything they can to make my travels as complicated, expensive and uncertain as possible) and it really isn’t easy. In fact it is close to disastrous. I’m terrible at packing. I always bring things I don’t need and leave the things I do need at home. And I always, always pack too much. And now I’m going to spend a week in a tiny East-European village where, I’m being informed, there is everything already and just ‘to bring the things I’d like to wear when we go into town’. Meaning; no need to bring boring things like towels, toothpaste and woolly jumpers, leaving loads of space for…well, everything else.  Argh, this is going to be a very long night.

As for travel companions I have settled for Les liaisons dangereuses and Oliver Twist which I suspect will be on my reading lists for next year. I started Les liaisons dangereuses just now and it is absolutely brilliant. I love epistolary novels (isn’t it such a shame that no one writes letters anymore?  By the way, it reminds me of this article I read today today. What a dream to find a package labeled ‘letters from distinguished persons: do not throw away’ and find correspondence form Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Flaubert.) and Marquise de Merteuil is so deliciously vicious. She writes to the Vicomte de Valmont (or as it plays in my head; Glenn Close writes to John Malkovich): He was very keen to arrange a return visit but I’m too fond of him to wish to wear him out too quickly. We must only over-indulge in people we don’t want to keep too long. He doesn’t understand this but luckily for him I’m clever enough for both of us. Brilliant.

I’m also bringing some Atwood novels, in case it gets too warm to read things I still need to remember in a couple of months. Atwood starts Life Before Man with a quote from Björn Kurtén, a name which sounded so Swedish I just had to google him a little bit. He is indeed a Finland-Swede and also a palaeontologist who wrote both fact and fiction. I had no idea this was even thought of as a genre but apparently he also coined the term paleofiction. I had an even lesser idea that this would be something I would get ecstatic about but I guess the Earth’s Children books, which was forced upon me in 8th grade’s history class, made some sort of impact. 

les liaisons dangereuses

Glenn Close and John Malkovich being immorally cunning + Rococo Sofa = Double Love.

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I went to a wedding on Wednesday. Technically, not a real wedding but a theatre wedding. Blood Wedding to be more precise. I’m in general quite sceptic towards this Lorca-play, mostly because of the one scene in the woods where three woodcutters, who appears to be under some kind of hallucinatory influence, are followed by a talking Moon and a Beggar Woman who is not to be mentioned in the cast-list. I’m very suspicious towards this kind of hocus-pocus in the middle of an otherwise realistic play.

For a classic playwright like Lorca to be played at Southwark Playhouse, you know to expect a re-invention of some sort. The usual grandstand was gone and instead there was a pell-mell collection of chairs spread out across the room. We were not the usual audience either, we were the wedding guests. Equipped with wedding programmes, we were invited to join in the action, encouraged to both sing and dance. I’m very fond of meta-theatrical concepts like this, bridging the gap between the stage and the audience, and I’m also a big fan of sing-along on all sorts of occasions; karaoke, church singing, football chanting and drinking songs. It’s the only time you can get away with not knowing the words and/or singing off key. Partly because most people are not very good at singing either and partly because the important thing is not how it sounds but that you participate. So for me it worked. Unfortunately for the actors, who had a decent amount of singing to do on their own, it did not. Lorca put a lot of poetry into Blood Wedding, not an awful lot came out of it that night. It was all submerged in confused/confusing accents, high-pitched wailing and hooded costumes.

What did work however, was the move from a rather primitive setting to present time (motor bikes instead of horses, scrap yard instead of vineyard etc) and the emphasis on knife-crime.  I never thought of Blood Wedding in that sense but of course, Lorca was quite the pacifist, was he not? These last lines did come through, thank god, it’s so beautiful:

With a little knife

that hardly fits into the hand;

but which neatly enters

the astonished flesh

and stops at the place

where lies trembling, enmeshed

the dark root of the scream

Tonight; England People Very Nice at the National, for which I queued up for at 8 o’clock this morning. As the weather is wonderful today  it was rather pleasant, even if bloody early. And I did get terrific seats for £10 each. Have to do this more often, am terribly fed up with high altitudes. Nobody puts baby in the corner.

I have completely overindulged in all things moon this past week.  July 20, 1969. The Greatest Achievement in Human History. Or something like that. I find myself extremely carried away when thinking about this moon landing and the supposed greatness of it all. The whole symbolic significance of a human being on the moon in a metaphysical perspective (the we-are-but-a-peck-of–dust-in-a-hoover-bag kind of thing) really moves me. It feels like a unique moment in time when nationality, race or sex belonging became irrelevant and everyone was just proud to be a part of the human race and to live on this little blue planet called earth no matter how insignificant it might look when seen on a black infinite canvas. Or is all that world unity thing just space programme propaganda?

Well anyway, thank God it is over now. One more documentary about Armstrong’s reclusiveness or Apollo Wives and I’m more than willing to join in the choir singing c o n s p i r a c y, if only to make it stop. I mean, please save something for the 50th anniversary.

moon

 

I am trying really, really hard to find motivation for reading Don Quixote (Don Quixote or Don Quijote? WordPress seems to want me to go with the former, as do wikipedia but my edition, norton critical and all, calls it Don Quijote). Supposedly this is one of the best, if not the best novels ever written, not to mention the first. Well, that’s enough to put me off. So far, it has taken me two weeks to get though two chapters (only 120 or so more to go). Actually, those two chapters took about twenty minutes, since then it has just been lying there on the table, staring at me with contempt as I’ve gone through books that would never ever be in danger of being labeled as the best or even great in any category. It is summer after all.

don-quixote-dali

The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha as seen through the eyes of the Equelly Ingenious Divine Dali.

la vie au chateau

Laurencin’s paintings feel like summer incarnated.  Sensuous girls dressed in floating, pastel dresses that look light as silk gauze. They sit idly with their dogs and mandolins…so blissful and harmonic. And those muted colours and their black Cubist-like eyes are so enigmatically beautiful and makes me feel melancholic, in a strangely pleasing way. triste. plus que triste.

woman with dog

la musique

Painter, stage decorator, book illustrator and print-designer; Marie Laurencin worked in Picasso’s Paris studio together with other avant-garde painters in the early 20th century. She was the favoured muse of Apollinaire (who also encouraged her poetry-writing), her first customer was Gertrude Stein and she was immensely admired by the social elite of both Europe and America.

Upon request, Laurencin painted a portrait of Coco Chanel but it was rejected by the designer as she felt it did not look like her;

portrait of mademoiselle chanel