“Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. ”

Max Porter (2015), Grief is the Thing with Feathers*

*fresh new book on my night table.

Photo from commons.wikimedia.org



Book Review: “How to be alone” by Sara Maitland

How to Be AloneHow to Be Alone by Sara Maitland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book is part of  The Toolkit for Life series from the School of Life. Lightweight self-help books, which can be read in the metro where concentration is scarce. In that sense, the books under this series should not be compared to major works of literature, but are to be taken as appetizers to broader themes. A large magazine article, of sorts. In this particular book, I noticed that the author had a strong need to justify her decision of being alone – perhaps the author’s cultural context is different than mine? In any case, I found much of her advice for being alone appropriate for people that perhaps are not so trained in the matter. I have enjoyed “going solo” as long as I can remember, and can recognize the author’s narration of having intense experiences in nature. I also get high contemplating art on my own and listening to concerts without company. It is nice to be validated, but depth was lacking. Perhaps the most important contribution of this book – for me – was to induce the dream of going on a holiday on my own this fall and to motivate me to add two books to the to-read shelf (“The stations of solitude” by Alice Koller (1991) and “Walden” by Henry Thoreau (1854). More relevant references can be found in the book’s Homework section.

“Possibilities” by Wislawa Szymborska

“Possibilities” by Wislawa Szymborska

A new person in my life – handpicked this poem when I confessed that poetry remained inaccesible for me. I think she might just have opened the door. Simona, thank you for lending me a key. This poem moved me to tears. Hearing it – rather than just reading it –  was a significant experience.


I prefer movies.

I prefer cats.

I prefer the oaks along the Warta.

I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.

I prefer myself liking people

to myself loving mankind.

I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.

I prefer the color green.

I prefer not to maintain

that reason is to blame for everything.

I prefer exceptions.

I prefer to leave early.

I prefer talking to doctors about something else.

I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems

to the absurdity of not writing poems.

I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries

that can be celebrated every day.

I prefer moralists

who promise me nothing.

I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.

I prefer the earth in civvies.

I prefer conquered to conquering countries.

I prefer having some reservations.

I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.

I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.

I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.

I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.

I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.

I prefer desk drawers.

I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here

to many things I’ve also left unsaid.

I prefer zeroes on the loose

to those lined up behind a cipher.

I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.

I prefer to knock on wood.

I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility

that existence has its own reason for being.


“Picasso’s Guernica Revisited” by T.J. Clark

Today’s mission : View the London Review of Books Winter Lecture titled “Picasso’s Guernica Revisited” (2011), by art historian T.J. Clark.

Why? Because viewing Picasso’s Guernica has been my most meaningful art experience, and I want to get closer to understanding why this is so.

And so? Magnificent ♥♥♥♥♥

From the lecture I gathered that the scale of the painting plays a big part in making me feel immersed, almost obliterated when I stand in front of it. I also increased my understanding of why I don’t feel much for Guernica in small reproductions (not even in big reproductions) and why I have unconsciously negated to own a copy.

Trail for the fox: pictorial space, art history course at Sotheby’s