Quote for Thought: Life goes on

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“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost

Life can’t really be explained and it has no rules, even when certain magazines claim there are. It is as diverse as the people living it. But we all know one thing for sure – life can be hard. It doesn’t ask for our opinion, it just goes on, whether you had the time and strength to keep up or not. You will get sad, disappointed, let down, insecure, anxious, stressed, and hurt. But there will be times you’ll simply feel good about yourself. You will look back on your past sorrow and feel no pain at all.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even trying to be inspirational. If you’re sad, be sad. Cry. Hit your pillow. And I admit that sometimes there will be things in your life that you will never be able to remember without evoking some old feelings. Time doesn’t always heal all of our wounds, but it teaches us to live with them. Then, you will remember something, or someone, and still feel a little bit of that past hurt. But you will also know that you have survived it. You will say to yourself: “I feel much better now.” You will know: “My life is better today.” And it will give you strength to go on.

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Quote for Thought: In Appreciation of Mary Shelley

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But in truth, neither the lonely meditations of the hermit nor the turmulos raptures of the reveller, are capable of satisfying man’s heart. From the one we gather unquiet speculation, from the other satiety. The mind flags beneath the weight of thought, and droops in the heartless intercourse of those whose sole aim is amusement. There is no fruition in their vacant kindness, and sharp rocks lurk beneath the smiling ripples of these shallow waters.

Mary Shelley, The Last Man

Yes, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. But it wasn’t the only book she wrote. Frankenstein is actually one of my favourite books ever, which I mentioned in my My Top 7 Books post, but The Last Man should definitely not be overlooked.

The Last Man is great and largely underappreciated, and its Goodreads rating is horrible. Most people explain their dislike for this book in terms of “it’s not SciFi enough”. And that’s quite true. Yes, the topic is the end of humanity, but in a way it also isn’t. When Mary Shelley wrote it, she left like she was the last of her “kind”, the last Romantic who was still alive. She was the only one to witness the end of an era. She was the last man.

The main characters in The Last Man are fictional versions of Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron. A large part of the book deals with their ideals and the different ways they perceived the world. If you are interested in Romanticism, it’s definitely a book you should read. Not to mention Mary Shelley’s wonderful, poetic language and vivid imagery. She was a truly great author. And a perceptive one.

Mary Shelley looked up to the idealism of Percy Shelley, which can be noticed in her novel. However, she herself seems to have been more of a realist, which is why I chose this particular quote to share with you. In this paragraph, Mary Shelley concludes that a person cannot live only on idealism and meditation, as she puts it. People need to experience things, live their lives to the fullest. But at the same time, those who only live for small pleasures remain shallow as well. People are complex, and they need both. Interestingly, this quote also seems to unite the worldviews of Percy Shelley and Lord Byron.

To be honest, no one can be certain what these authors truly thought of each other, but it’s interesting to speculate and this book offers an insight into Mary Shelley’s mind, even though it may be wrong to entirely accept fiction as fact. In any case, I felt I should defend this book from its negative reviews and at least briefly put in its rightful perspective. I just have a lot of love for the Romantics and I wish to spread it! 🙂

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Quote for Thought: Weeds are Flowers, too

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My inner child is very much alive and strong. So is my love for plushies. And for Eeyore. This little donkey may be the most pessimistic character of children’s literature, but I find him adorable.

And this quote is perfect. We shouldn’t judge people easily, especially before getting to now them. Everyone has a story to tell. Looks can be deceiving. After all, weeds are just plants who happen to find themselves in the wrong place, in the wrong time.

Quote for Thought: The Return of Philip Latinowicz

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Hands. Just what do those thousands of human hands moving about the city look like? Human hands that kill, shed the blood of other animals, construct machines, prick with needeles, hold burning irons, lamps, banners, razors, tools, people carry them in the street as if they did not know what to do with them. They take off their hats, wave their sticks, carry things in their hands, cigarettes, books, one hand holds another with the magnetism of physical contact, human hands are warm, they sweat, grow rough, can be wounded, bathed, painted, make meaningless gestures, follow the movement of human bodies like flashy ornaments of monotonous size, moving about the streets together with the people, in that long and fruitless human procession which flows and swells between the walls of cities as water. (…)

There is sorrow in every human eye, like an animal peeping out of a cage; human gestures are like hyenas’ and vunerable because everything is barred and everything is locked, and painting is altoghether unnecessary in cages. How could one possibly stop those human streams and begin talking to them in terms of painting?

Miroslav Krleža, The Return of Philip Latinowicz

Well, I though, why not mention a Croatian author on my blog. So, here he is, the most famous of all – Miroslav Krleža. Miroslav Krleža was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature seven years in a row, from 1958 till 1964, but he was never awarded.

I actually had to read The Return of Philip Latinowicz three times – first in high school and then twice in college. I didn’t like it the first time, until we started to talk about it. Miroslav Krleža is known for his descriptive style and too long sentences, but I grew to like this book and truly appreciate Krleža.

It is a novel about a man who returns to his hometown after spending many years away. He is a painter who cannot find inspiration for his work. Along the way, he meets several interesting characters, and none of them are very likable. He also has to deal with some issues from his past which cause him to have a love-hate relationship with his town. The novel gives quite a bleak view of people and human nature, and even has elements of Naturalism. For a large part, it discusses the purpose and futility of art – which I think is reflected in the chosen quote. The quote is long, yes, but that is quite fitting considering Krleža’s style in general.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip to Croatian literature!

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Quote for Thought: Lestat

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Who cares? Kingdoms rise and fall. Just don’t burn the paintings in the Louvre, that’s all.

Anne Rice, The Vampire Lestat

I think that my love for vampires was quite obvious on this blog. I even wrote an entire post about fictional vampires which you can check out here if you want to.

Anyway, this obsession started with Lestat. Not the one from the books though, and not even the Tom Cruise version, but the Lestat from The Queen of the Damned film. Yes, I know, the film is quite bad, but for fourteen-year-old me it was the best thing ever, and I still adore the soundtrack. Then the books came and my obsession was sealed. So, I decided that I should honour Lestat with at least a short little post.

For me, Lestat was, and is, a perfect anti-hero. He is a reminiscent of the Romantic, Byronic hero, who acts because he is bored. He is also curious, and has a strong desire to learn and understand the world. And in the end, he appreciates art in all of its forms. The Vampire Lestat is my favourite book from The Vampire Chronicles mostly because of Lestat’s complexity. And this quote decribes him the best. Lestat would rather see the world burn than be bored, he regards people as weak and corrupted, but still sees humanity as something precious. He loves his immortality but grieves for some aspects of mortal life. He wants to feel, even if it means he would get hurt. He loves to enjoy beauty and to experience art.

All of this is contained in this short quote. This quote is Lestat.

Quote for Thought: Life as Compromise

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George’s son had done his work so thoroughy that he was considered too good a workman to live, and was, in fact, taken and tragically shot at twelve o’clock that same day – another instance of the untoward fate which so often attends dogs and other philosophers who follow out a train of reasoning  to its logical conclusion, and attempt perfectly consistent conduct in a world made up so largely on compromise.

I started reading “Far from the Madding Crowd” yesterday. George’s son is a young dog who does not know when to stop when chasing sheep and he is sure that the more he runs the better job he’s doing. He therefore tragically leads all the sheep to death. I knew this was going to happen and that the dog is going to be shot so I prepared for it. I can’t cope with animals dying even in fiction, it’s something that really makes me sad. (I actually ignore the books with animals sometimes, if I don’t want to be drowned in sorrow XD) And then, it was described like this. It wasn’t even an extremely important event for the story, but Thomas Hardy wrote this wonderful sentence about it.

What can I add? People who try to do something different really are seen as crazy and even dangerous for the society. And sometimes the truth that only a few can see can be dangerous but does it mean that it should be ignored? I was impressed how Hardy introduced this theme in only one sentence and then continued with the story, leaving the reader to think about it more by him/herself. I don’t want too talk too much and now I’ll just leave the quote as it is.

Quote for Thought: Just Kids by Patti Smith

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…you could feel a vibration in the air, a sense of hastening. It had started with the moon, inaccessible poem that it was. Now men had walked upon it, rubber treads on a pearl of the gods. Perhaps it was an awareness of time passing, the last summer of the decade. Sometimes I just wanted to raise my hands and stop. But stop what? Maybe just growing up.

I’ve recently finished Just Kids by Patti Smith, a memoir about her youth and life with Robert Mapplethorpe. This book made me smile, but it mostly made me cry. I usually experience my emotions inwardly, but this time I actually cried. It’s a book about two people about my age, even younger, and what they have gone through in their search for artistic life is both sad and admirable. I can’t imagine experiencing everything that they did, and compared to theirs my life’s been quite easy. Still, I could understand them and sympathise with their story and emotional turmoils. Certain aspects of the story reflected some of the things I’ve been through, however far-fetched that might sound. Some doubts and questions they had are the same as those that I’ve often asked myself. It’s interesting to enter the mind of someone so different from you and still find traces of yourself. The experiences may be world apart, but emotions are always similar.

Obviously, it’s a book about art and artists. But even more so, it’s a book about life itself, about growing up, being happy and being hurt, about personal growth and maturing which never stops and can never be completed. It’s about finding yourself. It’s also about the ever-changing concepts of love and friendship which escape any definition. Life is complex and erratic, and this books portrays it beautifully. Life can get scary, and growing-up may seem unachievable or even unwelcome. At this point in my life, I realize that being an adult just means pretending to be one (and I admit I’m not good at it). No one truly grows up. It’ a process without end.

Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.

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