Sort of like an exhale

I guess this is the year where I reread the books I have read from a few years ago. At the top of my mind, the books that I have reread this year were Bruce Chatwin’s Under the Sun (I definitely had an absolutely different take especially reading it again right after finishing an Edward Said), Frankenstein (although this time it’s the annotated version for engineers, scientists, and creators), Verso’s Book of Dissent, and lastly Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which baffled me since I rated it only 3 stars on Goodreads 7 years ago. After finishing it, I understood why.

Barbery as a philosophy teacher showed up a lot more so than as an author in this book. There were also several hints of casual racism — I am not sure if it was written from the perspective of the 12-year-old Paloma the character or this came from Barbery’s perspective herself — but either way, none of these views got called out. A few sections in the book that I enjoyed strangely came from Paloma’s daily journals, of which she grouped into two: Profound Thoughts, a collection of interesting ideas; and Journal of the Movement of the World, a collection of thoughts about the movements of the body and things. Paloma was portrayed as an intelligent, articulate 12-year-old who somehow was unhappy in her otherwise very privileged life and was contemplating suicide, as these insights from her journals show so.

I realised these days that instead of jumping to post links or thoughts to Twitter as soon as I could, as I used to, I would write briefly of what I thought or found out in my Moleskine. If they do make it to long-form blog journals such as this one, so it would be. Somehow this is a great habit, and I am enjoying it — it gives me a longer time to ruminate on things and write better. Or maybe I don’t have anything to say much, but I still want to write or yell into the Internet void without judgment (as Twitter often has no problem to offer). As Nora Ephron had been saying:

… one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.

I might want to start something new next year — that is, just logging things I observe every day. I started this year by following Austin Kleon’s logbook format, but I got sidetracked and I never picked up the project back again. Spencer Tweedy’s observations of daily fleeting moments are also delightful and less maintenance, one that also reminds me of Georges Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. Just the perfect size and length to exhale.

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  1. Pingback: On aural experiences – Two Kinds of Intelligence

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