To sit or not to sit

Art, music, love, life and loss: a novel that weaves these themes together falls into a favourite genre for me. And obviously for many others, given that Heather Rose has won the Stella Prize for her 2017 novel The Museum of Modern Love.

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I love it when I discover something new that I had never heard about before, and I confess that I had never heard of the artist Marina Abramović before reading this novel that is inspired by her work.

The Artist is Present was an amazingly popular artwork that Marina performed at MoMA in 2010. For seventy-five days Marina sat while individuals sat across from her one after another. 1,554 people sat while another 850,000 observed from the sidelines, many coming back.

Here is a video clip from the last day of her sit. And here is another astounding video of when Ulay came back to see her after their epic parting on the Great Wall of China years before in 1988.

Heather Rose writes:

The days had been fields of faces, bright, unique, vivid, strange. …Every face told countless lives and memories and part of humanity she had never glimpsed, not through all the years of seeking.

But it is the intertwining story of Arky Levin that gives this work of fiction life and opportunity for exquisite prose.

His hands ran up and down the keyboard…He heard the theme that would run in and out of the film, threading the scenes together. Raindrops falling on leaves, a moon in the sky and this lovely melody.

He is a sad, reserved, composer of film scores: a private man who is reluctantly drawn into this temporary and unusual life that surrounds Marina Abramović as she sits and gazes into the eyes of strangers at MoMA.

Rarely do I give a 5-star rating on GoodReads. Thank you Heather Rose.

Square astronaut round hole

Chris Hadfield is known for his rendition of A Space Oddity performed on the International Space Station. It is a beautiful, unique and poignant piece of poetry in motion.

“The purpose of the music video was to make the rare and beautiful experience of space flight more accessible.”

Square astronaut, round hole” is Chris’s final assessment of his career. As a 9 year old Canadian boy he was inspired when he saw the grainy black and white television broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s “small step” on to the Moon. He decided then to become an astronaut. His plan was firmly placed in his mind and from that day he applied himself to that purpose.

And as we can all appreciate, this is no small task, especially for someone who is not an American. His tenacity, humility, and intelligence provided him with the skills needed to endure this difficult quest.

Not only did he need all of the complex technical knowledge and be able to apply those with precision, but he also needed to learn to speak Russian, survive in the wilderness, be an underwater reconnaissance specialist, fly and test jet planes, and be patient. What a guy! Most mere mortals would only be able to fit one or two of those things into a single lifetime. As well as all of this he finds time for a family, and to play guitar.

an_astronauts_guide_to_life_on_earthChris Hadfield writes an interesting account of his career in An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth. I loved this book. Chris shows his humility and generosity that serves him well as he establishes himself as part of the large NASA team.

Not only does this book provide a great description about what is required to become an astronaut; he also provides an excellent blueprint that could be applied to any vision or goal. And he writes this all with humour and humility.

 

“…everything counts: the small moments, the medium ones, the successes that make the papers, and also the ones that no one knows about but me.”

In his TED Talk he tells us how to face our fears while also sharing his absolute love of our planet. He has played his part of the larger quest to take “giant leaps” into our Universe, and he has communicated that experience to us on the ground through the poetry of description and the art of photography from the ISS, distributed through social media channels.

“The windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles.”

You can follow Commander Chris Hadfield on Twitter @Cmdr_Hadfield

#NYOR2012 Amazing

Amazing! This is the theme for the first month of the Australian National Year of Reading.

And so to kick off my involvement I will proclaim that The Most Amazing Book I Have Ever Read is “Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.

It begins…

“1. There was a Master come unto the Earth, born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills of Fort Wayne.”

It is a precious jewel of a book offering a gentle and positive slant on life. I love the mystical spiritual elements that are grounded in the real world of squashed insects on windscreens and greasy hands. We are gently urged to look beyond the veil of reality where something amazing might be revealed.

It is a story about two pilots who fly small planes around the USA selling rides in small town America. They meet and discuss Life. Don is the Teacher and the Richard is the Seeker.

Where do you learn all this stuff, Don? You know so much, or maybe I just think you do. No. You do know a lot. Is it all practice? Don’t you get any formal training to be a Master?”

“They give you a book to read.”

The book is revealed: Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul; a source of wise and interesting sayings.

I tend not to keep hold of many books once I’ve read them, but Illusions is the exception that I will keep and reread. I used to loan it to others but it never came back, so now I keep my own copy. And who can blame anyone for wanting to keep a copy for themselves.

It sits alongside Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig in a genre all of their own. Whilst Zen is complex, Illusions is a simple tale. Both gently coerce you into a deeper insight.

                        “Argue for you limitations and sure enough they’re yours.”