Films watched

This is going to be longer than my books list.

Favourites

Ben-Hur (1959) – Did I really watch it for the first time in 2017? It seems like I’ve been familiar with it much longer.

Jeux d’enfants  (2003) – I rated this with a 7 on my Imdb account, but it has grown on me and stayed with me. It’s completely twisted, but very powerful and romantic. My favourite type of plot, the “us against the world” movie. Obviously no form of depravity is too great to spoil the romance of that for me.

Trouble in Paradise (1932) – Outstanding black-and-white comedy. Gorgeous opening scenes. Loved the romance and the humour and the realism.

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A scene from Trouble in Paradise

 

Quite highly liked

Il Grido (1957) – Melancholy, beautiful, realistic

The Snake Pit (1948) – Probably the best portrayal of mental illness from early Hollywood that I’ve seen.

Die Puppe (1919) – Wonderful humour, unexpected for something made in 1919

La signora di tutti (1934)

He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not (2002) – Charming

La double vie de Veronique (1991)

 

Liked well enough

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

The Lost Moment (1947)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Les enfants du paradis (1945)

The Last Station (2009)

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Stroszek (1977)

The Painted Veil (2006)

 

Not my cups of tea

Les Amants (1958) – The story was implausible the way it was portrayed and the characters seemed to hover around without actually being present in the moment. Visually, the scenes towards the end were beautiful, but it didn’t save it for me. It just struck no chord at all.

Raintree County (1957) – Tries to be a great epic, but does not quite deliver.

 

 

Meanderings

Birds are singing! I can’t believe this.

Since there is no winter any more in my country, they figured they might as well skip straight to March. If only the weather would follow suit and give us an early spring, an early May, with blossoms and things.

I almost want to go out for a walk in the forest to see if there are any signs of this false early spring other than birdsong.

When I haven’t been melancholy, I’ve been very nostalgic lately.

Even my nightdreams are filled with nostalgia. Sports, school days, the people I knew once, checking what they are up to now. Then watching videos of life in the 1930s. Haymaking and summer camps.

Much that has happened in my twenties has been a mistake. Sometimes I feel hot flashes of shame running from heart to head when I think of the stupidity of myself. But then there are some redeeming factors, like the discovery of beauty and poetry, and that there were people like me in the world, though extremely few. It wasn’t a happy time. Happy times stopped at 18. I just tried to do the best I could given the circumstances I was in. It wasn’t very good, but I’m a lenient person on shortcomings if they result from weakness and stupidity, not malice. I was lost and immature, like a lot of young people. I had no confidence.

But I rather like to hurl abuse at life and circumstance, instead of being humble and wallowing in the misery of my bad fortune. I find it somehow satisfying to say “I’ve had a rotten life/youth”. The anger and passion I put in that statement feels good. I have very high internal locus of control, but this statement incorporates the acknowledgement that at least in this, circumstances were to blame. As in: you are dealt a rotten hand at cards, but you try your best to make something of it. That would be the best metaphor to describe my life.

Life is almost a personification to me. With a leprechaun’s temperament. Or any mythical creature from European folklore who can be both generous and very mean. I see myself as forever battling against Life. I think not yielding to misfortune in spirit is important. If Life gives me some horrible disease, I want to be able to laugh in its (Life’s) face and continue hurling abuse at it.

I’m being very weird now, I guess. I don’t suppose a lot of people have personified life. Some have a god, but it would be inappropriate to shake your fist at a god. Life, on the other hand….Oh yes.

Things read

I’ve read a whopping twelve books last year plus some poetry! That makes one book a month. I feel so ashamed of myself compared to the bloggers posting their reading summaries of 90 or 150 books.

 

What I loved

O. Wilde “Decay of Lying” (a re-read)

R. Rolland “Jean-Christophe”, I

F. Hodgson Burnett “Secret Garden”

W. B. Yeats “Adam’s Curse”

 

What I liked

F. Molnár “The Pál Street Boys”

E.T.A. Hoffmann “Golden Pot and Other Stories”

Other poems of W. B. Yeats

 

Funniest

Poetry of Catullus

 

Okay

L. Tolstoy “War and Peace”, I

E. Nesbit “The Railway Children”

S. Lagerlöf “The Wonderful Adventures of Nils Holgersson”

 

Disappointing

T. Hardy “Under the Greenwood Tree”

M. Shelley “Mathilda”

J. Fowles “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”

 

Boring

S. Lewis “Arrowsmith”

 

The good thing is that I didn’t read a single truly bad book, because boring, disappointing and bad are not the same things.

Poetry

The world that comes off from the poetry of John Clare is so wholesome and inviting. I want that world to be mine one of those days. And even if I cannot write in words, because written poetry is really not my forte, I can experience the poetry of things and learn the names and ways of various birds and plants and trees. I can live in that world instead of reading about it and sighing and pretending the little forest grove and meadow near my ugly house is countryside. Well, I suppose it kind of is countryside, but regardless. I want to see that:

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……when I look out of the window.

And this poem is ever so pretty:

All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There’s nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal it its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.

Having grown up lived on poetry like this and nothing modern, the challenge of writing contemporary nature poetry has a strange appeal. But.

Values

I encountered an opinion that for an intellectually stimulating and rich life one requires money. The reasoning being that otherwise you cannot go to the theatre, travel, go to concerts and participate in various courses.

 

LOL. Stupid wannabe educated middle class narrow-mindedness at its best.

Fossilization

This should be a useful post, a good post. After a long silence, one should do that, I suppose, write something meaningful and pithy. But I’m instead going to write something very dull.

I thought this morning, as I was checking out different phone companies to switch to a cheaper contract, that maybe I should get myself a new phone with the new contract too. A budget smartphone instead of my old regular phone so that people would stop rolling their eyes when they see me take out my phone. I’m not totally immune to that. Also, the thing I’m missing is not being able to transfer photos to other devices more easily and having a chat programme, so I can do away with regular text messages with people who also use the same IM service.

Since I wouldn’t be using most of the gadgets that come with it, the cheapest models seemed to be the thing to go for. I don’t even care for high picture quality. Adequate would do. And if the device gets so little use for all its extras, paying a lot seems foolish.

I picked out two models that seemed okay, but the moment I checked their battery life, I went off the idea completely. Having to charge them every day seems extremely tedious. Particularly if I’d hardly be using the apps and things that take up all the battery. My old phone lasts 5-7 days without being charged and I suppose one could get used to it lasting a day, but given what I would get in return for this increase in discomfort, it doesn’t balance out. For half the price it might make sense.

So I’ll stick to my old phone until it stops working and continue annoying and surprising people with not having a smartphone. The discomforts that come with it are not daily, but occasional at least.

Findings

I was spending Sunday morning reading up on specific psychiatric disorders and stumbled upon something like nidotherapy. This type of therapy seeks to achieve a better fit between the personality and needs of the patient and their environment.

First off, it was a pleasure to see that my own scattered ideas and leanings regarding what might potentially the most beneficial therapy had a term for it. It also seems to be quite a new approach, but I hope it fares well and will be perfected in time and lead to a change in attitude in the treatment of a lot of mood and personality disorders. Too many people receive no benefit from conventional drug treatment nor cognitive behavioural therapy. It does seem truly hard to implement, however, but my highly subjective and non-evidence-based opinion is that there is no better treatment for most personality disorders and mood disorders than this, and even scizophrenia could be made more tolerable if the environment of the person was suited to their personality and …..um, biology.

Also, The Secret Garden sounds like a manual of nidotherapy and its successful implementation.

Being a dreamer

I think I’ve been throwing around that descriptive a little too uncomprehendingly, and I have never doubted its positivity.

To me, being a dreamer meant  that you spend more time in your head and are prone to fantasizing of other worlds and alternative lives or environments, some more realistic, others completely not.

This is the kind of dreamer I am. However, I’ve recently realised that there is after all a downside – I don’t like it when my dreams start to turn into reality. I want to take the opposite course. I want to reject it and run away. And it is not fear, it’s the misery of getting what you want.

Truly, there is nothing worse than getting what you want to a dreamer like myself.  I live on hopes and dreams, what will I live on if yet another is destroyed by turning itself into a reality? Reality can never live up and I will have lost.

Sometimes, it’s not so bad, of course. Sometimes you get used to it and there are days when you are pleased and praise yourself for having made a very good choice. But other times you just want to get rid of what you obtained to return to the blissful state that you were in when only dreaming of it.

A few months ago, I made myself an Instagram account upon a whim. Sometimes I scroll through other people’s pictures. Who has not heard that social media depresses people because they feel their own lives are inferior? Well, it doesn’t seem to work on me. Instead, I use it to cheer myself up. It inspires me to dream on dull, dreamless days. I notice someone has a fabulous flower garden, and I dream of my own, and make a mental note of the design. I notice someone more beautiful than me, and am full of admiration. I notice someone has an awesome bookshelf and dream of the time when I will have a similar one.

Dreams are the most important things to me in life. I am truly unhappy only when I don’t have anything to dream about, anything to be inspired by, to look forward to, to hope for.

So getting everything I want must promise great unhappiness indeed.

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Today looks like the last day of summer. The wind is so strong but also so warm. I spent the morning reading The Secret Garden, and must praise it as one of the few 19th to early 20th century children’s books that doesn’t suffer from excessive sentimentality. It is what it describes. Magic. The style does exactly what the words say the garden and children are doing. Growing, transforming. It’s an ode to the transformative potential of the individual and to nature.

I hope the fair weather holds until I get my work done and can go out to enjoy it.

Parendamine

Tõlgin parajasti ühte teksti, ja mõtlen, kas ma peaks kasutama sõna “parendama”. Sest see on just selline koht, kus üks laialdase kogemusega tõlkija seda kasutaks. Sest mõeldud on ju tõesti, et too asi X teeb head veelgi paremaks. Enne oli ka hea. Ja nüüd tehakse veelgi paremaks. Ma saan erinevusest aru, aga…. keegi ei räägi ju nii? Ainult tõlgitud lepingud ja kasutusjuhendid on parendamisi täis. Et jah siis. Tõrgun.

Ei suuda seda sõna trükkida. Eneseirooniaga, pihku itsitades suudaks. Aga no tõsimeeli. Minu sõrmed ei paindu. Või teeks ikkagi naljaga. Ega keegi aru ei saaks. Iseendal oleks siiski parem.

(ranting about my highly personal, language-specific translation struggles)

Not knowing how to read: Shelley’s Matilda

I was reading Mary Shelley’s Matilda today – a novella about a 16- to 20-year old girl, whose mother died at childbirth and whose father ends up developing an incestuous love for her, which leads him to suicide and her to becoming a lonely exile wishing nothing but death. This death quite quickly comes in the classically Romantic way of her getting consumption.

I’m writing of this because I didn’t like the novella particularly much. I usually love melodrama and Gothic elements, but this suffered from an overdose of gloomy vocabulary and didn’t seem well-contained.

The narrator is a 20-year-old girl. Her style is amateurish. Some of her thoughts, her high emotionality and glorification of death would bring to mind any average teenager of a gloomier disposition. Her thinking in extremes certainly reminded me of myself, and her style of my own style (if let loose).

But here’s the problem, and it’s a weird problem to have. I wanted to read a better-written story, while this was all over the place and didn’t seem believable. It was as if Shelley had tried to put a Greek tragedy into a contemporary setting and format, and it turned out…… a little silly? Excessive. Implausible. Maybe it’d have worked as a play. Even the long monologues had something of the style of play to them.

And yet it is not implausible, because this is how a 20-year old can think, particularly when on her deathbed, having little life experience and being an emotional person. So. My problem was that I expected a less emotionally overflowing and more refined writer. When reading a work of fiction, I expect the storyteller to have style. I’m sure that if this had been the diary of a real person, I’d have approached it differently and been touched by it. Because I wouldn’t expect good writing then. Right now, I felt it to be clumsy and couldn’t empathise with the characters. This again is strange because when I’ve read some other 19th century first person narratives, I’ve caught myself thinking the opposite – would a boy as young as this really be able to tell the story so eloquently? Would someone so little educated be such a good writer? I can’t currently bring specific examples, but I’ve felt those thoughts often. It’s not believable that all the narrators featured in these first person narratives of the 19th century had style. Some must have been as bad as Matilda, but well, she was sweet. Her style was sweet. And I wish she had had a less deep nature, so she could have moved on, but deep natures never can, can they?

The plot has potential though. I think I have some weird tendency to like a thing more for its potential sometimes than for what it is. Unrefined gems. Old wooden houses and creaky floorboards and people who sometimes wear ill-fitting clothes. I like the scope for imagination. What it could be. As it is, I didn’t care about this story, but it might make for a good tragic poem or play if one wants to preserve the melodrama.

But here of course the fault is in me and my expectations for literature. If the character never existed, if it’s fiction, I expect style and wisdom such as an average person of this particular type wouldn’t possess. And when I’m given it, a part of me rolls her eyes and feels inferior because when I was THAT age, I would never have been so intelligent and rational, or so good. These narrators of the 19th century seem such ideal people sometimes.

One thing I did like though. There were some flashes of great understanding of how life and people work. This. And I also enjoyed reading about the poet guy’s suggestion of how to move on and what to devote one’s life to if personal happiness is not an option. I’ve been trying to give the same advice to a friend, but no one ever listens to good advice, do they? I liked meeting, albeit in fiction, someone else who shares my views. I hadn’t seen it around before, not in this form that so closely copies my own philosophy.

Overall, it was an okay read. 3 out of 5.