Les Miserables

I might as well get this written too.

I finished the books last night at three. Very sad story it was.

My favourite thing about these books was the character of Jean Valjean, and the author’s thesis that people are not always to blame when they end up with lives the entire society condemns. This, in my experience, is not common even in our highly ‘progressive’ society, and people are, as ever, inclined to cast stones, instead of trying to understand and think of the causes that might have pushed a person into a life like that.

I found it somehow comforting to read about people who had a bad time of it in life too, and those people were indeed my favourite characters: in addition to Jean Valjean, also Eponine and Gavroche. I thought – perhaps I’m biased – these people had much more character than Marius or Cosette, who seemed like cardboard figures of the highly typical 19th century (and prior) hero and heroine. I did not like Marius much and I did not enjoy the middle parts of the book where he was prominent. It was mostly a bit boring. By that time, Hugo had also managed to kill my suspension of disbelief when he introduced even more unlikely coincidences. It began to feel a bit like the sequels of Pirates of the Caribbean or some movie like that where the first part works, but then it just gets stale and tiresome.

When Jean Valjean re-appeared and was on centre stage, I started liking the book again, was not bored and read eagerly. He is such a magnificent character, even an impossible plot can be believed (L).

But Marius, Marius. He struck me as another Angel Clare figure and that was even before he kicked Jean Valjean out and caused his death. His loyalty to Thernardier made no sense. That kind of ice cold morality is completely perplexing to me, and ultimately unlikeable, I suppose.  Thernardier was a horrible bandit, surely seeing that would make it doubtful whether he deserved the loyalty. I would call this the King Arthur style morality, which is without much compassion. It killed Tess, it killed Jean Valjean, both good gentle souls, and in no way at fault for what happened to them.

Similarly to Hardy’s novel, and perhaps also those of George Eliot, the author ultimately, in spite of challenging contemporary attitudes, fails to go all the way. Hardy killed off his highly likeable “fallen woman”, because the morality of the time would not permit a novel ending with Tess living happily ever after. Hugo did the same to Jean Valjean, but also to Eponine, Fantine and Gavroche. George Eliot denied his her women the chance to find an outlet for their independence of mind and spirit. I suppose these things would have been too revolutionary and impossible in the context of these books, but it is still very sad, and I wish the authors had been more scandalous. And Eponine and Gavroche, surely, had done nothing that would scandalize society if they were granted a bit of good times too.

 

If I wasn’t so tired, I’d say I want to be Jean Valjean and he is my role model, but I’m tired.

 

One & Two

I’m going to start a depression diary. It’s not really something I highly liked or approved of doing publicly, for myself that is, don’t care what others do, but I don’t want to bore people with my moods and I do want to have some outlet.

Yesterday then, the 16th.

Good things.

I felt hopeful for about 4 hours. This is quite something because I have felt no hope or optimism for a very long time. I made plans how to get out of the place I had fallen in. I briefly believed I could do it. My goal was not to target the problems I had but the character flaws I had instead. I wanted to train perseverance, social skills and strength of character. The reason I don’t do much is that I tend to become paralysed by my moods, so I wanted to learn to transcend that and continue doing things that I believe in and want to do, even if I feel absolutely horrible and would rather lie in bed. To cater to my love of variety, my method was to give myself numerous tiny challenges, most of them completely unrelated to the things I want to do, but serving the same purpose of training perseverance and strength of character. I considered sports and learning a new handicraft technique, among others. Perhaps cooking one new dish a week. But also things directly related to the things I want, obviously. I thought I’d write myself a nice curriculum tomorrow (that’s today) and see how best to organise this training.

Bad things.

I did say about 4 hours. At bed time, I got doubtful. I felt overwhelmed. I realised I’ll not be successful. I can’t get out. It’ s not going to work out. It never did before, why would it now? Logic does not support it. I had the choices I had, I was stuck with them. I read Les Miserables to the end. Jean Valjean’s death must have impacted me. I have since felt physically weak, eat little and don’t want to get out of bed. I suffer from grief, inability to cope with the fact that almost none of my dreams came true, and consequently, there is nothing I cared to live for.

 

Two (the 17th-18th)

A bit less bad. Occasional flashes of more hopeful thoughts and plans, but no attempt at trying to take them seriously any more or do anything towards them. Just treating them as thoughts. Perhaps not daring to because I’d just fall flat on my face again.

Woke up into a reasonably good morning, was able to dream a little and be optimistic by blocking out a great big chunk of truth and pretending it is not there. Dreamt of what I shall wear when I visit Ludwig’s castles (because it is important to dress for the occasion, right? Decided upon a long blue tulle skirt and …a white T-shirt, and thought it completely acceptable this skirt will take up half of my luggage space). Head feels funny and I’m still tired.

 

Idiocies

Would someone please, please tell Google not to give me endless pages of Chinese (and other) machine-translated websites when I search for things in my native language. A filter, please, for omitting machine-translations from the results.

#2019 #sucks #googlesucks #discrimination #money #pleasestop

Past and present

I was looking through some of the old posts, deleting ones I didn’t like and editing others, as per usual, and spotted something worth noting.

Two or three years ago, I had hope and optimism. I was suffering from a bad case of anxiety disorder, but I had dreams, you know. I had hope that one day life would work out just fine. I see those years as the worst of my life up to date, but there was also hope. Now, I don’t suffer from a bad case of anxiety disorder, but I don’t have hope. What lesson can we learn from this?

It’s one bad choice over the other now.

More thoughts on past and present selves: I also noticed that the quest for greater authenticity has been a success so far. I’m quite a bit blunter than I used to be (and I was blunt to begin with), which may be good or bad, depends on who I talk to and how well they can handle bluntness.

And this too: I don’t feel ashamed to say I didn’t like some great classics or that I adored some works which aren’t considered literature. I’m very much freer and unashamed. The love of a thing continues to be important. So, with all my inconsistencies and inability to carry things through, this is not a bad outcome. This is some good development.

Politics

Elections are coming up. So I’ve chanced to read other people’s reasoning for why they vote for a particular party or candidate. It has been very eye-brow-raising. I don’t even know what to make of it. I’m not a political person and don’t understand or know much of politics, but reading these opinions makes me feel like I’m one of the few people with the right to vote who actually has some idea of what they are doing. And while this here might be phrased like a boast, the truth is I’m very confused and alarmed. I’m stupid about politics and yet most people manage to be even stupider. How does that happen?

Even people I thought intelligent, more intelligent than me, and who truly are so, cross my heart and hope to die they are, have confused me with their poor grasp of these things. Their arguments like “I vote for this nice person who was my teacher” or “This party has too many celebrities, I won’t vote for them”.

Movies of last year

I didn’t write about the films I saw last year, and since it is still January, and therefore a socially acceptable time for it, just about, I will proceed to do so.

I watched fewer films than I normally do and quite a lot of Westerns. I’ve discovered it as a new genre that lets my nervous system rest (in addition to detective stories and comedies), so I predict I will watch more of them this year (have made a start by having seen two Clint Eastwood ones already).

Westerns in the order of favouritism

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Treasure of the Sierra Madre

One-Eyed Jacks (1961)

I liked all of them reasonably well. Marlon ended up last, but that’s no reflection on the quality of the film, but on the very tough competition.

Other likes

Planet of the Apes (1968) – Charlton is so beautiful and his woman too.

War and Peace (1956) – With the various War and Peace film and television versions out there, I feel that all of them do some character really well, and fail with some of the others. This particular version had the best Natasha in Audrey Hepburn. When she first appeared on screen, I was totally bewitched. But Pierre was off. The best Pierre, to me, is that played by Anthony Hopkins in the 1972 TV series. And Bolkonsky is always heroed up, that is to say I’ve been enamoured with them all.

Ossessione (1943)

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Unga Astrid (2018)

Ich möchte kein Mann sein (1918)

 

No or poor memory 

Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage (1926) – I remember it poorly

The Red House (1947) – this I don’t remember at all

A Passage to India (1984) – Very vague memories as well

I have this problem that if I don’t write about my impressions or they are not very personally meaningful, I can completely forget what I watched or read. I do remember generally liking them, so last year, I didn’t see any bad, dull or annoying movies at all.

And since I have a memory problem, for next year I better put down my recent likes too.

Ludwig – I won’t forget this one, so need for commentary at this point.

Design for Living – I liked this one on so many levels, it’s in my top three favourite comedies. The only small problem I have is that I wish the two artists had not got so rich so fast. Their bohemia was so charming. Mildly better off would have felt more organic. It was sad to see some of that charm go.

 

Some quotes

I read some of John Clare’s letters and opinions.

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He too, then, obviously, would express such sentiments. Somehow it hadn’t solidified in my mind. Also, butter flye struck me as a very charming way of spelling. But what truly made me chuckle is this little narrative:

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I think that’s terribly sweet! I think everyone should be entitled to a silly way of seeing the world if it harms no one. Yes, there is no play called “Shakespeare”, but if you’ve only seen one, it might as well be called Shakespeare. And yes, turncoats, no one should change their opinion if it’s such an endearing one, and especially not if its explained by such a deliciously silly principle that defies all everyday logic. It reminds me of my favourite scene in cinematic history – Kaspar Hauser rolling apples and arguing with the priest about whether the apple has a soul and will of its own or whether the apple goes where Kaspar wants it to go, thus having no will or soul. Of course I was cheering for Kaspar’s interpretation and booing the priest’s lack of imagination.

It is some strange kind of whimsicality of mine, which I remember being possessed of even at the age of 7 when I cheered my little sister on in silly behaviour, but that kind of alternative takes – that strike at the roots of common sense and acceptable thinking – I truly adore them. No exaggeration. They make my eyes glow with pleasure every time.

I was pleased to discover

…that there is a term for my affliction:

Analysis paralysis is when the fear of potential error outweighs the realistic expectation or potential value of success, and this imbalance results in suppressed decision-making in an unconscious effort to preserve existing options.

Things photographed in 2018

The time of ice departing is always quite photogenic at the seaside.

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Spring was early and very warm. I spent it romancing this book.

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I also discovered a solitary daffodil at the seaside.

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….and had an all-around good time there. They hadn’t fenced the meadow in yet for the cows, in spite of it being early May, so there was ample space and practically no one else there. I got to run barefoot and all.

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Then came summer. It was very hot and uncomfortable.

I stayed in this old-fashioned room.

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Then came the best autumn my eyes have seen. It was the warmest. I went exploring the woods and discovered an egg up the tree. It’s not chicken. DSC03090

Then I made this composition with my forest finds.

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Some creature liked me.

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Some creature had died at sea and been washed to the shore.

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Then it finally stopped being very warm.

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When November came, I was very cheerful about it. So much warmth and sun made dreariness a novelty.

Also, my cat did some modelling for pet products.

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