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.

Challenge

Please people, does anyone know books and authors who meet the following criteria:

  • modern (written after 1950)
  • not depressing to the point of no hope
  • with hope at least at the end of the tunnel
  • not a short story
  • preferably with fantasy or sci-fi elements, but not necessary
  • high-quality writing (not Paulo Coelho or other bestseller writers whose style is not the greatest literary achievement)
  • psychological (human nature and how it deals with things at the centre, not cardboard characters)
  • alive, engaging (not dry, bookish, academic, measured, unemotional) (i.e. not like Carson McCullers or A. S. Byatt, to give examples)

 

I’ve spent hours digging for such a writer and the closest I got was Ray Bradbury but he too does not meet all criteria.

After a few more hours, the new favourite is Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, which only fails to meet one criterion. I’d have liked something with a bit of in-depth digging into the characters’ minds and souls, but obviously, can’t be had in that genre.

 

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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Books read II

It’s that time of the year. I read 12 books or thereabouts in 2017. This year, it’s been a little more and if some books hadn’t been such slogs or so thick, it might have been even more, like 20 or so.

 

Slog of the year

J. Verne The Mystical Island – I did like its ending and it wasn’t a bad book, but it just wasn’t interesting at all for someone with my type of brain, so I spent about two months chewing my way through it.

 

Not my cup of tea

C. McCullers The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

R. Rolland Colas Breugnon

 

Okay

L. M. Montgomery A Tangled Web

G. Meredith Diana of the Crossways – that style of his!

 

What I liked

A. Lindgren Kalle Blomkvist och Rasmus

F. Dostoyevski Brothers Karamazov – with all the hype, I expected this to make it among my most favourite books, but it didn’t. I wanted more in-depth portraits of Ivan and Alyosha, I think.

L. Tolstoy War and Peace, parts II-IV

J. R. R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings

I. Turgenev Fathers and Sons

I. Turgenev Torrents of Spring

I. Turgenev First Love

 

What I loved

V. Hugo Les Misérables, part I

R. Rolland Jean-Christophe, part II, until the chapter that begins with an ode to friendship

Moomin comics – wonderful stuff, even funnier than the stories (I’m going to read them as slowly as I read the Jean-Christophe book above, but maybe not only in spring, like it has become a tradition with JC, but whenever I feel like I need cheering up)

 

Disappointing

A. Gailit Muinasmaa – see lihtsalt ei olnud võrreldav tema hilisemate, samalaadsete teostega, mille eelkäijaks “Muinasmaa” oli. Mõlemad mehed tundusid äravahetamiseni sarnased,  nende mõttekäigud ebaloogilised, unistaja ja romantiku kuju ei olnud usutavalt kujutatud  / oli ebameeldiv.

 

Unable to categorize

J. Milton Paradise Lost – I think I’d do Paradise Lost wrong if I categorized it based on how much I liked it, but I’d also do myself and the other books here wrong if I categorized it fully objectively, so a pass it is. It shall remind me of the uncommonly hot summer and how I read it on the balcony in the evening, when indoors became hell’s antechamber in terms of room temperature.

 

Overall, it’s a good year in reading when you find a new favourite. I don’t expect to find high numbers of literature I could be a fan of, particularly at my slow rate of reading, so one or two books each year is a good outcome. This year then, Hugo’s Les Miserables wins my book of the year award. I enjoyed the experience of reading it a lot. I also think that with my impressionability and empathy, I’m a suspense story writers’ dream reader.

Christmas rant

I’ve ranted about this a lot outside the public sphere of the internet, but since ranting energy is still strong, posting it here might alleviate it a bit also.

I’ve not been an adult that can afford to buy many Christmas presents for a very long time. Maybe about 8 years. Last year I had hardly any money for Christmas presents, but I felt alright about the concept. I don’t recall feeling like I do now. Which is: wanting to boycott the entire consumerist aspect of it.

And frustration, because you bloody hell can’t. How do I just stop giving presents when other people give me presents? It’d be terribly rude. And so many people are stuck in the same cage, are they not? There are probably families where no one enjoys the Christmas shopping madness, but there isn’t that one person to speak out and say “Let’s call it quits”. This consumerism is just making everything so soulless.

It might be possible to solve this problem when you say that you don’t want Christmas presents from anyone and won’t be making any yourself either. I think there are families and groups of friends where this rule applies.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work for me that well. I like making presents SOMETIMES. And I want to continue making presents that come truly from the heart. When I see something ideally suited to someone, I want to be able to give this person this present. And I want to be able to do it so that others don’t get offended, when only one person gets a present that year. I also want to be able to make presents that cost little and not feel pressurised to buy more not to appear cheap. Because you know, sometimes the thing that costs little comes from the heart and the rest is just fluff to add financial bulk. I wish it wasn’t so.

Often enough, I cannot think of anything good to give people or the stores have nothing tempting. I’d gladly skip a year then, rather than give them my best attempt at a Christmas present out of a sense of obligation.

I don’t really know what compromise would be possible. I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping and I want to get off that particular train, but when you want to retain the right to sometimes make and receive presents, it makes it very hard to effect.  Because people do get hurt if they get nothing for several years in a row.

Maybe I’ll have a bright idea by next Christmas, but if I don’t, I think I’ll just go with trying to opt out fully and hope I will be tolerated for it. I’ll appeal to my principles as a moderate anti-consumerist, I guess. Although it is more about it just not feeling right and irking me with its soullessness.

I want giving and receiving to feel right. I’ve been so much happier and full of joy when people I expected no presents from have given me something simple. Like truly simple. A gingerbread heart from a teacher who likes you and wants to cheer you up is a worth so much more than anything more expensive gotten from family members because they “had to”. Gingerbread hearts like that are ‘true presents’. Given without expecting anything for return, not even at the back of your mind.

What I want is, I want to experience surprise and joy that someone has bothered to make me a present, not take it as a matter of course. I want THAT back. The soul of it back.

The unmentionable

I can’t believe how I’ve been deceived by my moods. You grow up, as a teenager, reading 19th century and early 20th century psychologists, you think subconscious is terribly important. Then you graduate into adulthood and modern-day psychology and think reason is everything and mind is mouldable. But then wham, subconscious strikes back.

I have been feeling quite well this autumn. I don’t have any anxiety or stress. I have money again and don’t have to deal with not being able to afford soap, like this time last year. Today, I even experienced a totally mad impulse of offering financial aid to a person who I only know by reading her blog. She seemed to need it for a greater cause than I could ever find. I resisted the impulse this time around. The buffer is not yet strong enough. I guess I was just fancying myself to be Jean Valjean and wanted to feel more like I’ve done something good to other people too.

I found November enchanting in its early days. There had been so much sunshine this summer and autumn that when darkness came, it was romantic. One warm evening, I went for an unplanned stroll by the seaside and it was magical, the darkness, the belt of stars, the distant murmur of waves. A little eerie too as you could not see where the sea actually begun. So – too brave steps and splash, your feet would be in it. That was pretty glorious.

I knew my ability to deal with winter darkness could be a bit poor, so in September, I planned many activities for myself to keep the bad moods and anxiety at bay. I haven’t needed them. I don’t think I’ve felt as mentally strong as I do now at any point in the last three years.

Side by side to it, I have not done anything at all outside of work and my programming course. I’ve put life on hold and have recently developed strong avoidant tendencies regarding conflict and disruption. I put things off because the pause in life is better than the certain disruption/misery. And in the waiting room, it’s okay.

But it seems that, as I feel I don’t need anything, I have, unbeknownst to myself, ran out of life energy. That I’m actually deeply depressed. I may have shut myself into my cosy, soft-music-and-warm-blankets waiting room, but my subconscious is fully aware, in spite of my attempts to guide my brain to think otherwise or not think about it at all, that behind both doors is misery. I do know I cannot stay in the waiting room but opening either door, knowing full well I will be unhappy either way, it’s understandable I delay in the only place that feels good.

But the point is that I totally managed to deceive myself. I thought that I was doing really well for someone with my life, I had never had such a stress- and anxiety-free autumn in recent years. I had many days of glee and most days seemed neutral. Nothing bad happened. So you know, one thinks this is good.

Such is life sometimes.

200 degrees

As a rule, I’m a slow reader. If the book is not gripping or I need anaesthesia to read it, I’m very slow. So this is an event worth recording that the other day I achieved 560 pages in 3 days.

 

I want to get to the point where I can write with the same intensity that I can read.

KK

I had not heard of Klaus Kinski much before, but by the usual criss-crossing paths of the internet, I ended up watching one video of him having a tantrum in the park.

Then I got fairly obsessive in trying to find out more about him.

Finally, I put on my Fitzcarraldo, which I had paused in the middle to indulge my obsession. And thing is, I shut it down pretty fast. I could not watch it.

Background: I don’t know what is normal behaviour, but I feel things first. This means I have sometimes absolutely no idea why I feel or react in certain ways. I have to retrace my steps and analyse it afterwards to try and figure it out. It can happen that I don’t manage to explain all reactions and emotions in the end either. And I think this reaction to the Fitzcarraldo movie is one of my failures.

But I will put down some scattered thoughts on Klaus, empathy and mental health.

Klaus Kinski is not a nice person.  He is quite a horrible person. I can rationally see it, but that first video of him made me feel a lot of empathy for him, and I think that has escalated since. No matter how many times my rational brain section tells me that my empathy for him is misplaced, it does not work. Watching those videos of him where people seemed to deliberately provoke him into having a tantrum so they could be amused – that was heartbreaking really. I think he was intelligent enough to sense it, too, hence the over-the-top reactions. I feel that somewhere in that chaos and monstrosity is ….something deserving of sympathy. I tried to name that ‘something’, but it seems truer to abstain.

But but. I truly thought the act of molesting one’s children would override my empathy. It feels embarrassing after the tirades I’ve made against pedophiles and old people that pray on teenagers/very young adults to let one slip through the net. That is the downside of being empathy-driven rather than sympathy-driven. Empathy can be silly and amoral.

Why I shut that movie down. I think I felt he was playing himself. Why I could not handle it, I don’t know.

I do think though that it is a good thing that he was able to do these wonderful roles (which I cannot watch at this point, lol) instead of being isolated from society because of his paranoid schizophrenia.

It’s a curious paradox that in times when mental illness treatment was even worse than in our age and where people with illnesses were basically isolated from society compared to the modern attempts at inclusion, well, in those times people with some mental health problems were frequently much more included. Those with minor stuff, I mean. Those that could basically function because they had normal intellect and their quirks or delusions did not make them dysfunctional on a large scale. Now, there is too much defining of people through their illnesses and everyone with a minor divergence is already ‘out’. Upside is they get help, but I think true inclusion happens when one stops being ‘visible’, i.e. forcibly included. When people like Klaus Kinski or any highly-functioning autist are not “ill”, but just with an alternative way of interpreting the world, like artists and scientists. I feel like the world, with all its talk of diversity, is making the bounds of normality a lot narrower than they used to be because every difference is turned into a pathology requiring treatment.

Favourite lines

Who wants to be consistent? The dullard and the doctrinaire, the tedious people who carry out their principles to the bitter end of action, to the reductio ad absurdum of practice. Not I. Like Emerson, I write over the door of my library the word “Whim.”