Monday, May 28, 2018

What is it about- writing advice that no one needs

 Recently I have been given quite a few (unsolicited) chunks of advice in connection to my (limping) writing career. One of them (from a friend of mine who read maybe one of my works in the past five years) was to have an 'idea'. Because you see, a good idea is everything. You can be a great wizard of words but if there is no story, it just falls flat. Another though, given to me on the same day, completely ditched the previous one: anyone can have an idea, it's your style, it's the way it flows that captures the reader, otherwise, even the best story simply falls flat. Both of them came from people who didn't even write their own bachelor dissertations by themselves. 

 To add to the above, none of them was actually a keen reader. I could probably go on forever listing all the bad advice I received from people who don't do what I do and who are not even a potential audience for my work. However, I am in many ways grateful to them, for an invaluable lesson: what advice not to listen to. 
 I used to be one of these people who valued everybody's opinion just because it is an opinion. And as social creatures we should value the opinion of others, as other people are recipients of my work. However, I can count on fingers of one hand the number of people who truly supported me over the years: those who congratulate me on my good result in short story competition, came to see my play, read more of my things rather than few lines. That is of course, due to busy lives we are all running an nothing bad about it, if it wasn't for continuous advice I receive from people who have no idea what I'm doing. All this advice has mostly one and only result: immediate demotivation. 

 The human talent to demotivate others is nothing new, but has probably become particularly visible in social-media-driven culture of effortless success. Some people call it 'hating', I call it an interactive new ways of morning coffee-moaning. Back in time, people used to complain during breakfast over a newspaper. Nowadays, they google things- and then, all of a sudden their morning moaning can go viral, overwhelming us with crowds of DIY experts in different fields. 

 So unless you have a valid point, or you are specifically asked, or you have a genuine interest in exploring other people's capacities, if all you want to do is to fuel my lac of self-worth in forever-beginning authors world, your advice will just fall flat. And to those of you, who are losing their energy and passion over constant attacks of morning moaners, get a pair of ear plugs, and keep going. That should do the trick.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Perfectly Bearable Effortlessness of Being

 As I was taking my clothes out of the washing machine, I noticed that a pair of my underwear got dyed a bit with a shade of dark red, and looked now surprisingly better. I took it as a sign. From now onwards I shall let destiny always take its' course and wait down here watching Netflix for a miracle to happen. Obviously there is little chance it will happen, but hey, if nothing comes then it's destiny and afterall, waiting for miracle is totally effortless. 
 Effortlessness seems to be nowadays somehow a goal as well as a value itself. There is a motivational quote swinging about the internet saying 'If you have to force it, leave it'. While it is probably quite healthy not to waste your life in order to chase something intangible, there is also a danger: a danger of letting go just because something requires hard work. 

 An obvious example is probably a simple pair of socks. My mother used to mend socks all the time. Who does that nowadays? Who mends old socks?

 These examples could probably go on, but what is particularly concerning to me is that people, while chasing effortlessness, often choose not to work on their skills. Not to pursue their dreams. Not to practise five hours a day if that what it takes. After that we start believing in 'naturals'. People who succeeded  due to their supernatural abilities and to whom everything was just coming, simply being thrown their way. That's probably the biggest myth of modern times.

 We like to believe that life truly can be fully enjoyable, stress free and not requiring any hard work. 'Nature over nurture' seems to overrule all our belief systems. Until we get to an opportunistic conviction that 'if something doesn't happen, it is not meant to be'. Such fatalism is of course nothing new: Denis Diderot explained it well enough and it seems that in our times believing in something 'written in stars' should be perceived somehow eclectic. Nevertheless, the media all seem to support the need of things coming 'effortlessly'. You are supposed to have fun at all times and see results coming out just because they naturally belong to you, and are given to you because you deserve it. And if nothing happens to you, it is because it does not belong to you by nature, ie. you don't deserve it. By proclaiming effortlessness a new trend, the culture of success once again left plenty of people behind. Those of us who need to work hard for tangible results. And after all our hard work, they will write about us, make documentaries, and once again they will prove to others that we had that come 'effortlessly'. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ode to Mary Quant

 Recently my mom has suffered a bit of an inconvenience. Her sixty-year-old friend wore a super short mini skirt for a meeting. 'It didn't suit her and it was not very aesthetic, to be frank'- sighed my mother, as she sadly admitted she gets more and more similar to her grandmother in many views. 

 Back at my university time I had a friend who was a great fashionista. Not only by passion, but also by her excellent sense of style. No matter what time of the day it was, she always looked like a million dollar. Once, as part of her assignment, she was supposed to write an essay about the most influential person in the world, in her opinion of course. She didn't have any second thoughts after choosing Mary Quant. Now I have a confession to make: I didn't know who that was. 
 But my friend quickly enlightened me: thanks to Mary Quant, women in the world can now comfortably wear mini skirts. I prefer a saying: women in the world can wear whatever they want. But I guess mini skirts wasn't too bad of a start.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Nice People

  Back in my early youth, well, rather my childhood, I had a friend. Let's call her Sarah. She loved science fiction movies and always dressed in black. Some other day, fueled by a sudden nostalgia, I decided to look her up on Facebook. It's been more than a decade since I last heard from her. 

 Finding her in the cowebs of online contacts turned to be surprisingly easy. After few minutes I was looking at her smiley face on a photo. She didn't change at all- the same radiance glowing from her still youthful face, and the mieschievous charm playing in her eyes. On the photo she held a cute toddler in her arms, surrounded by her other three children. Her husband was standing on her left hand side, smiling and handsome, his hands placed on the shoulders of their eldest daughter. The sun was shining down on them as six happy faces stared into the camera. Nice people. 

  Suddenly something on her profile has drawn my attention: one of her photos had been remade with an anti-abortion hashtag. The template had been issued by a militant pro-life organization that Sarah, as I noticed, actively supports. Her deep support for 'Beatiful since Conception' is then explained simply by her being 'a Christian'. 

 Intrigued, I scroll down expecting to see more photos of her lovely children and some idyllic images of happy, family life in the country. But I am heading for a shock. 

 While browsing through her endless posts equipped with the same anti-abortion hashtags, I find a bunch of statements slut-shaming rape victims and calling up for a death penalty for 'unborn children murderers'. But a beautiful girl like her, a mother of four, with her loving smile surely doesn't mean it?
 I scroll down. Below the anti-abortion fever Sarah proudly states she is a 'gun lobby'. Like her whole family, for that matter. 
 Her family indeed plays an important part in her life, as they all join together in nationalist movement marches, holding a DIY banners prasing 'white Europe', 'defending Christianity' and expressing pride in their 'white blood'. I find these statements somehow puzzling: surely a mother of four would know that white is not the best colour as it gets easily dirty and white things are nightmare to wash. However, I must admit this discovery had some educational value for me. You see, till the date I believed that blood is always red by definition. I never heard of someone who would possibly have a blood of different tone. And I feel like I am emphasizing with Sarah on that one: apparently she and her children must suffer from some very mysterious disease that affects their blood cells. In that matter, I guess 'pride' is not the worst reaction ever. It is surely more constructive than despair. 

 Sarah's reactions to the modern world are in general quite impressive. For example, she shares an informative article regarding transgender people, to which Sarah's sole response is 'I don't even fucking know lol'. There were also some nice comments regarding the refugees, to which apparently Sarah 'fucking can't even'. In that moment I have to confess I wonder whether she spelled 'can't' correctly...

 I continue to browse through all the 'fucking whatevers' and 'don't you piss me off fuckers' and I am feeling more and more like an alien, trying to make something up of this bad grammar and swearings, and I forget the faces of Sarah's lovely children. Before I leave her profile for good, I take a final glance at her profile picture, to once again look at her unchanged happy face. In adult life we won't be friends. Her idyllic photo of happy, loving family still hangs in there untouched. Such nice people. 

Disclaimer: All persons fictitious.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The mysterious G minor- Albinoni's Adagio

  Few years back a friend of mine was asked to compose a piece for a short film. She came out with a beautiful classical guitar track, that was capturing many human emotions. There was sadness and melancholy, but also hope, like an image of a sunny, Sunday afternoon. It was a perfect presentation of what one can go through while sitting in a garden, drinking tea and romanticizing the past while also dreaming of exciting plans for distant future. I often listen to this track on an afternoon like this. Unfortunately, the producers of the short film were not as pleased. Curiously, it was the variety of emotions that worried them. They expected something people listen to when they feel, or want to feel, simply sad. Putting it straight they wanted a piece that would let their viewers despair. And when it comes to despair, it is hard to think of anything more fitting than Albinoni’s Adagio, that has been featured in so many movies that lots of people actually believes it’s Ennio Morricone’s track.

When it comes to Adagio in G minor, there is a phenomenal path to it, as this one single orchestral piece has been through so many exciting and rocky adventures that no other piece can ever compare. It is truly shameful that many ( and I don’t mean only those who assign the autorship to Morricone) recognize it only as soundtrack of nostalgic movies, but it is also a side effect of its’ phenomenal popularity in modern mainstream culture. Somehow, this neo-baroque adagio touches something in our souls. Specifically, this side of our souls that is a bit tacky.
But the real story leaves a lot of speculation, and ‘Adagio’ itself is not tacky at all. It is brilliant and sublime, gentle and uninsisting, surely not trying to be what it has become. Remo Gazotto, the actual author of the piece, did not expect this kind of success. I also disagree with those who call it ‘the biggest hoax in the history of classical music’. What about the guy who claimed he had found the original footage of Nijinsky dancing his ‘Afternoon of the faun’, while he just put together old photographs and was so good at editing that he almost fooled the whole world?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

I found it- how I decided to become a minimalist

 Recently (if this term can cover a period of up to three years) I have a feeling that my life has been a consant commuting from point A to B. Indeed, I have moved numbers of times for different reason, and beside that, well, I live in London. What venture it truly is, no one knows better than a friend of mine who has been helping me to move my life stock, divided equally between eighty plastic bags. He had a moment of doubt after he saw a bag full of eggs going into his van, but come on, a whole bag of eggs, I couldn't leave it behind me!

 My mother used to call me a 'world famous trash collector', for my blame lies not in buying things: rather the difficulty in leaving anything on its' own and unattended. I've found wonders on my way during my lifetime: a first-class iron, a sassy carrier bag, a laundry dryer to name a few. It might come easy to dispose of something hastily bought on discount, or an unwanted gift from last Christmas, but it will never seem right to get rid of something that had been placed on your way by destiny, to materialize itself in front of you for the taking. That's how I've been explaining to myself my ownership of over two hundred old flyers from events I didn't go to and few issues of 'Metro' I didn't have time to read. I am not going to mention pens, pencils and hair elastics and few other things that I am unsure what they are. I never bothered to understand motives of people who throw things away. I thought it was another 'scandi' fashion, and just like misunderstood hygge, all-white decor and love for IKEA, it will pass, the way any trend does. But that was before I heard of dan-sha-ri.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

My cozy little wardrobe

 I remember reading one of Milan Kundera's works, where a scholar, after years of being persecuted by totalitarian authorities, finally got a chance to get back to his work and read his essay at the conference on the west. Unfortunately, he got so focused on explaining his difficult path and undying gratitude for being able to be back at what he loves to do, that he actually forgot to read it. Later on, he decided to make up for this embarrassment and in the evening went to a hotel pool in order to show off his athletic body but sadly, this did not turn out very well either as he stumbled upon a couple that was, unsuccessfully, trying to have sex. So for this reason, thinking of the misfortune of the poor professor I won't spend much time explaining what has happened to Monkey Seduction, and how happy I am to be back and running (or writing, for that matter). I won't be elaborating on that. Just in case.