The Great Beauty is such an unusual concoction of sights and sounds, it’s a wonder it works at all. Watching it is like seeing a walking bicycle and realizing, to your amazement, that one can actually ride it.
The movie follows Jep Gambardella, the king of Rome’s night life. Jep came to Rome in his twenties, after having written a very promising novel, but 40 years later he is settled as a journalist for a high-class literary magazine. Jep has friends, who are just as frustrated and unsatisfied with their lives as he is, despite having all their red Ferraris and high-rise condos. Together they keep each other company and form a support group of sorts. The presence of other miserable people convinces them it’s ok, the life is still worth living and facade is still worth maintaining.
Jep has invested last four decades into becoming the Rome’s chief socialite and now he has the power to make party a success or disaster. But there’s something compulsive about his pursuit of entertainment and admiration. Like a functioning alcoholic, Jep doesn’t enjoy his life, but has no will to change it either. He reminds me of Michael Fassbender’s sex-addict character in Shame. At the time of orgasm, Fassbender’s expression was not that of pleasure, but of pain.
A few months ago I went on a volunteering trip with some people from my work, most of whom I never met before. On a plane, I got to sit next to a woman from the Korean office and in those few hours I got to know her better than I know my teammates after two years of working together. When you’re bound to a place and have nothing important to do, talking to a stranger becomes much easier. You are less likely to start prioritizing tasks or writing emails. And it feels less awkward to start a conversation there too.
By the end of the trip, it seemed really unfair we were living in different countries. Still, we decided to keep in touch and last Tuesday she told me she was in Sydney for work. But, despite staying for almost a week, she was always busy. And so was I, for the record. We found time for a quick lunch, joined by one of her colleagues, but it was not nearly as satisfying as being tied to a chair. In the office cafeteria, there is always a spectre of work which never lets people relax and let go. There is always something to do and somewhere to go.
People often dislike air travel, but the in-flight time is one of the few places we truly disconnect from our schedules and our emails. It may not provide a lot of space, but it gives us time and silence necessary to reflect and to communicate.
I wish I could travel more in my work.
As a child, I wanted to be a naturalist in the Brazilian rain forest, discovering incredible and dangerous animals. When I grew up, I found that being a naturalist in a city is just as rewarding.
Not far from Mr Panda lives Mr Hog. His owner (right) has revealed to me a secret to getting lots of female attention: get a pig.
Mad preacher is warning us of impending apocalypse. I sadly missed the warning, I was too busy finding the perfect angle.
A very mysterious, but nonetheless remarkable specimen. Possibly related to the genus Roadus Workerus.
Patrons at my local coffee shop. This one is unhappy with his drink and looks for a waiter.
Meanwhile, George has got a makeover and doesn’t look like Robinson Crusoe anymore. I swear, I had no idea a haircut and a shave can make so much difference in the impression you make! I wouldn’t even believe those two are the same person, if I didn’t know myself.
You know something about yourself, when you start picking on language in an industrial-grade English test. Taking IELTS today, I was presented with the following gem: “You’ll be invited for an interview, when carefully designed <examination techniques> are used“. (IELTS is what they use to assess foreigners’ English proficiency in Australia, similar to TOEFL in US) There’ve been few other cases which made me doubt what language I was being tested for, but this one is the most clear.
Now I feel vaguely proud and superior, but also not sure what it makes me: a grammar nazi or a watchful citizen?
On our weekly outing with George, we met Mr. Panda. Mr. Panda lives in a front yard of a small rundown house, with Ms. Pinguin, a bear couple and his other friends.
The Instagram registration process is defeated! I’m very impressed with myself, it took me less than two hours to select a username.
It feels awkward to be the last person on Earth to get an account, but I’m glad I did. I had no idea it would be so simple and so freakishly fun! It’s much easier to improve a picture in it, than in Photoshop or iPhoto.
“Introversion arises from a need and preference to protect the inner, ‘subjective’ aspect of life, to value it more, and in particular not to allow it to be overwhelmed by the ‘objective’ world”
Dr. Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person
Most authors define introversion in terms of energy: introverts generate it through reflection and have to expend it in interactions with people. The problem is, I don’t see my life in terms of energy transactions. When I go out to meet people, I don’t calculate the balance and don’t write receipts. Not to mention, a lot of other factors affect my energy level: exercise, feeling unwell, diet, stress, rest, work, emotions.
Other definitions focus on things like size of your social circle and how much you talk. Sorta. It’s like saying that a bird is an animal with feathers. Correct in the strictly logical sense, but misses the point. Birds are not about feathers.
The definition above is the first one I can really relate to. For me, being an introvert is like having a second house inside your mind, complete with bookshelves, an armchair and a fireplace. I imagine it as a wizard’s or alchemist’s lair from the old computer games. A place you can always retreat to, a place where you feel comfortable and at home.
Of all the types of visual arts, chalk on pavement is my favourite. Just because this picture is so imprecise and suggestive, it is so much more interesting than a realistic depiction of a horse! Or is it a baby unicorn?
And this work’s transient nature makes it even more precious. Yesterday we had a good rain and by now the pony is surely gone.
“You can call me Mud”, he says. What kind of name is that? The kind you might have in a remote corner of American south. One of the best qualities of Mud is that it’s a window into a different world. It shows a life we would never see otherwise, a life which could be extinct a generation later. In that life, a 13-year-old rides his own scooter, fixes boat engines, works with his father and gets paid for his work. There’s no school to speak of, possibly because it’s a summer, but two heroes can take better care of themselves than most graduates.
The main character is Ellis, an impressionable and reflective 13-year-old. You might assume such sensitive types aren’t cut out for rough country life, but he finds his way around and his curiosity allows him to discover things others would miss. One of the things he discovers is Mud, a murderer on the run who hides on a small river island and waits for his chance to escape. Continue reading
My trip to the future wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I expected. In fact, the future dwellers I met are relatively young (their 50s-60s) and able-bodied. Unkempt, but not that different from the people we meet every day on the street. And that makes me very sad.
During the last visit, I gave George a call to help locate his misplaced phone. 10 minutes later a resident came by to inquire who called. Then another one. They are so desperately bored that even the most insignificant event becomes a welcome distraction. To the point where it no longer makes sense to dress up and get out of bed in the morning. Continue reading