Sunday Read: Philippine Religious Imagery in Ivory (Exhibit Catalogue, Intramuros, Manila, 1982)

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Self’s childhood home in Manila was crammed with santoses (religious statues). Dearest Mum collected them.

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L: San Vicente Ferrer R: San Pedro Martir

The santos carvers were unknown. It was an industry, like making furniture. The head and hands of the figures were usually ivory.

The caption for San Pedro Martir reads, in entirety:

  • Ivory head and hands on batikuling body. A bolo (machete), now missing, the instrument of his martyrdom, was originally embedded in his cranium. He is usually depicted holding a palm of martyrdom, also missing. 19th century.

Batikuling is a Philippine tree, presently listed as endangered.

Stay tuned.

 

True Russian Spirit: ANNA KARENINA, p. 326

This is a Vronsky chapter. (Self has been skipping all the Anna chapters; she can’t believe how suddenly and decisively Anna has fallen, from being a calm and exemplary wife to being a mewling, desperate and unhappy mistress. Is such a drastic change even realistic? Maybe such things do happen in real life — perhaps Vronsky truly was that charming — but that’s no excuse to make them happen in fiction, lol)

A foreign prince visits Russia:

In Turkey he had been in a harem, in India he had ridden an elephant, and now in Russia he wished to sample all the special Russian pleasures.

Vronsky, who was with him as a kind of master of ceremonies, took great pains to apportion all the Russian pleasures offered the prince by various individuals. There were trotters, bliny, bear hunts, troikas, Gypsies, and drinking bouts with Russian plate smashing. The prince assimilated the Russian spirit with extraordinary ease, smashed trays of plates, sat a Gypsy woman on his knee, and seemed to ask, Isn’t there something else, or does the Russian spirit consist merely of this?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

New Year, New Issues: Prairie Schooner and Calyx

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Just Arrived: Sunday, 6 January 2019

SPREAD THE WORD.

Which Way Photo Challenge (Week of 27 December 2018)

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Showing the ways people move from one place to another on land: roads, walkways, stairs, elevators, escalators, railway tracks, ski lifts, runways, canals, locks, parking lots, driveways, tunnels.

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The Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant, Downtown Philadelphia, 5 December 2018

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Crossing Over the River Wear, Durham, 29 November 2018

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Millenium Bridge, London, 22 November 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

On This Day, One Year Ago

Self happened to be in the City of Light. This is what she did.

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Anastasia Ivanovna Medvedkina, Machine Gunner

You’re a writer. Think up something yourself. Something beautiful. Without lice and filth, without vomit . . . Without the smell of vodka and blood . . . Not so frightening as life.

— from The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Alexievich

Taissia Petrovna Rudenko-Sheveleva, WWII Company Commander, the Moscow Fleet

A woman in the navy . . . that was something forbidden, even unnatural. People thought it would be bad luck for a ship . . .  In our village the women teased my mother to death: what did you give birth to — a girl or a boy? I wrote a letter to Voroshilov himself, asking to be accepted in the Leningrad Artillery School. They accepted me only on his personal order. The only girl.

When I finished the school, they still wanted me to stay on dry land. Then I stopped telling them I was a woman . . . on one occasion, I gave myself away. I was scrubbing the deck, suddenly heard a noise, and turned around: a sailor was chasing a cat that had ended up on the ship, no one knew how. There was a belief, probably from the earliest times, that cats and women bring bad luck at sea. The cat didn’t want to quit the ship, and its dodges would have been the envy of a world-class football player. The whole ship was laughing. But when the cat nearly fell into water, I got frightened and screamed. And it was evidently such a girlish treble that the men’s laughter stopped at once. Silence fell.

I heard the commander’s voice: “Watchman, is there a woman on board?”

“No, sir, Comrade Commander.”

Panic again. There was a woman on board.

. . .  I was the first woman to be a commissioned officer in the navy. During the war I was in charge of arming the ships and the naval infantry.

  • — from an oral interview in Svetlana Alexievich’s The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin Books), translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Books for 2019 (After the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival)

During the 2018 Cambridge Literary Festival, writers spoke and gave readings and fired up self’s imagination. Though the list below is heavy on British authors, their books are no doubt available here (in the U.S.)

  • Flights and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk
  • Holding and A Keeper, by Graham Norton
  • Building and Dwelling, by Richard Sennett
  • In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin, by Lindsey Hilsum
  • The Stopping Places, by Damian LeBas
  • What a Carve Up! and The Rotters Club, by Jonathan Coe
  • Hello World: How To Be Human in the Age of the Machine, by Hannah Fry
  • The Merchant of Syria, by Diana Darke
  • Seven Types of Atheism, by John Gray
  • The Bastard of Istanbul, by Elif Shafak
  • We That Are Young, by Preti Taneja
  • Let Us Sing Anyway, by Leone Ross
  • Take Nothing With You, by Patrick Gale
  • On This Day in History, by Dan Snow
  • All Along the Barley, by Melissa Harrison
  • The Light in the Dark, by Horatio Clare
  • The Essex Serpent and Melmoth, by Sarah Perry
  • Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss

Sentence of the Day: Matthew Dessem for SLATE

The piece was about Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, who chose to dis-engage from the world by doing 10 days of vipassana meditation in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar.

  • Over an 18-tweet thread, Dorsey wrote about his experiences during the 10 days of silence, covering everything from a Silicon Valley-fied description of Buddhism (“hack the deepest layer of the mind and re-program it”) to the 117 mosquito bites he got while silently meditating in a cave, which he apparently silently counted, silently photographed, and silently compared to the heartrate data silently recorded by his Apple Watch, which he wore in meditation-friendly airplane mode.

Eeew! Mosquito bites can be so distracting! Couldn’t the meditation center install bug zappers?

Stay tuned.

2nd Post On Self’s Last Sunday in London

Self is madly reading all the issues of The Guardian she bought in the last week. She thinks she’s making great progress: she’s now on Friday’s Guardian (30 November).

Her attention was caught by a list of The 20 Most Influential Films.

Rather than simply copy out the entire list, self will tell you that the # 1 Most Influential Film of All Time is The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Second Most Influential Film of All Time is Star Wars (1977).

Third is Psycho (1960).

Fourth is King Kong (1933).

Fifth is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Citizen Kane (1941) is just # 7.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is # 10.

Casablanca (1942) is # 11.

The Godfather (1972) is # 13.

Jaws (1975) — what a surprise! — is #14.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) is # 18.

Gone With the Wind (1939) which self was never into, is # 19.

Stay tuned.

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