Monday, December 22, 2014

Art, literature and writing

"Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man."
Vladimir Nabokov

  It's time to celebrate my blog's birthday. My blog is your blog; my words reach the people who search for them. I'm celebrating four  creative years of inspiration, learning and growth. Within the last 24 hours this blog has been visited hundreds of times. The views are from the United States, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Argentina, Algeria, Tunisia, Poland, Ukraine, Japan...
  Like butterflies, these words travel to distant places. I feel proud to be able to spread the wonders of literature, poetry and art across the globe.
  Far from being elitist, art and literature are like creatures that stoop down to reach out to us, and we can reach out to them. They make the uniqueness of the human soul shine with meaning. They  bring us together, superseding the labels of mediocrity.
 Since I started blogging I've had my works published in different venues.
 First and foremost, I thank my family and  friends for their motivation to read this blog and, above all, for their love and support.  Next,  I want to thank ALL my readers, wherever you are.
Thank you.
 I 'm also grateful to all the writers and poets who awaken the music within my soul.
 Last but not least, I thank all the naysayers out there who through their negativity inspire me to bolster my will power to read and write better each and every day.

  I compiled some of the most important links to my blog posts on art, literature, and writing. Enjoy my blog-library... and don't miss the last part of the party. Keep scrolling down. There are quotes, art and music!

Art posts:

Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo (second part)
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso's Guernica
Thomas Sully
Uncommon folk
Writers who paint
An uplifting post
Inocente, a story of resilience

Leo Tolstoy's novellas
My Antonia
The Fall of The House of Usher
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
The Age of Innocence
Helen Keller's autobiography
A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man
Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar"
"Wind, Sand and Stars" by Saint-Exupery
The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares
George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984
Down and Out in Paris and London
Homage to Catalonia
Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham
The Artist at Work by Albert Camus
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
Doris Lessing's "Love, again"
"Runaway" by Alice Munro
"Dear Life"
The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Posts on writing
Writers take risks
The art of writing fiction
Humor in creative writing
Online resources for writers
Likable characters?
The wonder of beginnings
Points of view in creative writing
The benefits of hand-writing
Creating characters for a story
The art of being subtle
The characters living in my head
What's in a rejection? Take it easy
Writing dialogue
Description of places in creative writing


For poetry lovers... and those who don't care about poetry
The mystery of poetry
Switch off the television
The poets of the twentieth century

To finish this birthday post I'm sharing some quotes by famous writers and poets from all over the world...

"Those who control their passions do so because their passions are weak enough to be controlled."~William Blake

"With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not -- they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations of mankind." ~Edgar Allan Poe

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."~Marcel Proust

"The role of the artist is to ask questions- not to answer them." Anton Chekhov

"My New Year's Eve Toast: to all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories with which I do battle-- may they never give me peace."~ Patricia Highsmith

"I write for the same reason I breathe -- because if I didn't I would die." Isaac Asimov

"I think... if it is true that there are many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts."~ Leo Tolstoy

"The Spanish Inquisition understood the danger. Leading lives through fiction that does not live in reality is a source of anxiety, a maladjustment to existence that can turn into rebelliousness. One can understand why regimes that seek to exercise total control over life mistrust works of fiction and subject them to censorship. Emerging from one's own self, being another, even in illusion, is a way of being less a slave and of experiencing the risks of freedom."~ Mario Vargas Llosa

"The important task of literature is to free man, not to censor him, and that is why Puritanism was the most destructive and evil force which ever oppressed people and their literature: it created hypocrisy, perversion and fears."~ Anais Nin

"It is from reading, even before writing, that I became part of a community -- the community of literature -- which includes more dead than living writers."~Susan Sontag

Merry Christmas. May 2015 be a remarkable year.
May the light of love, peace and hope shine in our hearts.
Till next year.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Lives of the Heart

"The World loved by Moonlight"
You must try,
the voice said, to become colder.
I understood at once.
It is like the body of gods: cast in bronze,
braced in stone. Only something heartless
could bear the full weight.

This is a good time of the year to read “The Lives of the Heart”. Grounded in nature and the everyday, Jane Hirshfield’s poetry collection evokes the interconnection—or disconnection -- between inner and outer worlds, nostalgia, life, grief.
 Some of the metaphors are like drawings that unfold stories. Others tap into the energy of experiences and emotions.
  I found a delicious recipe in one of the poems. Even if you don’t like this poem (it's a fragment of it), you may be willing to try the recipe. I did!

Returning home, slice carrots, onions, celery.
Glaze them in oil before adding
the lentils, water and herbs.

Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.
Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.
You may do this, I tell you, it is permitted.
Begin again the story of your life.

Matter and Spirit
A shadow empties itself into a river.
No one sees.
But the cloth for washing the bodies of the dead
Softens, gentles a little.
Neither the cloth nor the body feels this.
Yet it matters. Someone else, you see, is there
in the blunt and the blind of grace—
Someone stands silent,
listening, the looped cotton held in her hand.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cat's Cradle

Cat’s Cradle has been compared with some of George Orwell’ s dystopian stories.  There is a social satire in Cat’s Cradle just as  there is one in both Animal Farm and 1984. Yet Cat’s Cradle relies more on the plot than on the development of the characters. I am not trying to imply that characters are not well developed in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, but his approach is different.
  First of all, Kurt Vonnegut breaks the popular rule of writing fiction: “show, don’t tell”. He tells us a lot about the characters. The telling takes precedence over the showing of their identities. I don’t get to feel emotionally close to the characters, even though we learn a lot about their intimate lives. Yet this is not a flaw of the tale but a way of featuring the robotic nature of the society he portrays through humor and interesting insights.
The novel is told in first person by John, a writer who wants to research the life of the deceased scientist, Felix Hoenikker, the man who created the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. John gets to interview his three kids who are now adults, and his life changes drastically throughout the course of the tale.
 Kurt Vonnegut creates a fictional religion, Bokononism, through which he shows a society that is more concerned about faith than about the search for truth.  But Felix Hoenikker, the venerated, controversial scientist, was different from the rest (mind you, "different" does not mean "better").
 “I suppose it’s high treason and ungrateful and ignorant and backward and anti-intellectual to call a dead man as famous as Felix Hoenikker a son of a bitch. I know all about how harmless and gentle and dreamy he was supposed to be, how he’d never hurt a fly, how he didn’t care about money and power and fancy clothes and automobiles and things, how he wasn’t like the rest of us, how he was better than the rest of us…”
 Kurt Vonnegut’s  carries us away to imaginary settings and hilarious social situations in which the characters interpret their reality under the light of their dogmatic beliefs. The novel has many twists and turns that are evidence of Vonnegut’s fascinating imagination.
  One of the most important themes  of Cat's Cradle is the role that human stupidity plays in self-destruction.

 I found some thought-provoking quotes in this novel:

“She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.”

“It was the belief of Bokonon that good societies could be built only by pitting good against evil, and by keeping the tension between the two high at all times.”

“Sometimes I wonder if he wasn’t born dead. I never met a man who was less interested in the living. Sometimes I think that’s the trouble with the world: too many people in high places who are stone-cold dead.”

“Americans are forever searching for love in forms it never takes, in places it can never be.”

 Cat's Cradle was banned in 1972 by an Ohio School district board. The reason for this is not clear. The decision was later overturned in 1976.