Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Farmer Oak Smiled

"When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun."

I love these opening lines to Thomas Hardy's classic novel of an independent and spirited woman courted by three suitors. I watched the film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd last night, my third time in as many months, and found more insight now that I've finished the book. Farmer Oak, as can be easily discerned from the lines above, is a delight, and Hardy's talent with the pen inspires in me such admiration, as well as sadness that he so early gave it up (with his last novel being released thirty years before he died). Just think what else there might have been!

Back to Farmer Oak:

"In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike – for which the mind is more responsible than flesh or sinew – a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them; and from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal, which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world's room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, quite distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation as a total more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not. He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine life, for his intellect and emotions were clearly separate: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the state wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short he was twenty-eight and a bachelor."

Isn't it beautiful? Happy and fortunate is he who can craft a novel.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bibliotherapy? Yes, Please.

Somewhere along the way, and I'm not entirely sure how it happened, I took a break from reading. Well, I never fully walked away from that most treasured pastime, but my reading went in the direction of reading non-fiction (which is apparently the trend these days). Instead of reading my beloved classics, I read theology and biographies and "histories of...". Movie adaptations of books, however, have a way of sending me running to the bookstore to experience again the delight of a story I've just seen told on the silver screen. Thank God for movie adaptations! Right now I'm reading Far From the Madding Crowd from Thomas Hardy and enjoying not only the story, but also Hardy's insight into human nature, and his magnificent crafting of sentences and paragraphs.

I read on this morning an article entitled Can Reading Make You Happier? In it, the author talks about receiving bibliotherapy, a kind of therapy where books are recommended based on what ails ya. This therapy sounds wonderful, and in a time when seemingly so few people are reading, it also sounds hard to come by. I love it when a friend recommends a good book to me, even more so when the books is apropos to something that I'm experiencing in my life at that time. (Any suggestions out there?)

Two of the bibliotherapists in the article have written a book, The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies: An A-Z of Literary Remedies. What's fun, is that in the book deal, as the book has been published in other countries and languages, up to 25% of the book is allowed to be adapted for local audiences (and to include local writers). So:

The new, adapted ailments are culturally revealing. In the Dutch edition, one of the adapted ailments is “having too high an opinion of your own child”; in the Indian edition, “public urination” and “cricket, obsession with” are included; the Italians introduced “impotence,” “fear of motorways,” and “desire to embalm”; and the German added “hating the world” and “hating parties.”
These ailments amuse me. Do the Dutch have too high an opinion of their children? Do Italian men struggle with impotence? Can a novel help? Anyway, it's all very interesting.

My bibliotherapy is working. Far From the Madding Crowd is a delightful and a welcome reprieve from the world. Both happily and sadly, I am almost finished. Next up, however, is a book that has long been on my reading list: Middlemarch. I daresay that the heft of that novel will ensure that I have its company at least two weeks before I must find something else to read.

I'm off to put myself into a "pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and... (to bring) the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm."

Monday, November 2, 2015

Moral Fervor

It's been ages since I've posted anything... I don't think I've ever let a whole month go by before without at least posting something.

Time to rectify that I guess. I was rather mindlessly surfing the internet (and by mindlessly surfing the internet I mean googling names of people from various business cards I've acquired through the years) and found this video from 2007 when I modeled some clothes for some gals who had started their own label. The brand was called Moral Fervor, and their goal was to make "sustainable fashion". Great clothes as I recall, which was a good thing, since that's how I got paid (which, by the way, isn't very sustainable).

I wish it were better quality, but hey, it's better than nuttin'.