CELLO IN THE CHARRED CHAPEL


Sometimes you come across someone doing something that makes you sigh. 

German-Korean musician Isang Enders' rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 within the sacred, charred interior of Peter Zumthor’s Bruder Klaus Field Chapel is one of those moments you can't help but wish was quietly, selfishly your own. 

It's been a long time since I list picked up a bow and drew it across the strings of my cello. Re-establishing my love for playing that deep, aching instrument has been on my list for quite a while now. But the things that make cellos so human - their size, weight, and equal parts fragility and strength, also make them cumbersome additions to the life of a 25-year old who rents her home and doesn't know where she may move to next.

So in the cello-less meantime, playing the piano in some of my most revered architectural spaces seems like a bucket list worth pursuing. The trick is just going to be getting myself, and the piano, there. 

After that, those encompassing forever moments will come easy.

MEMORY TRAPS

Paris, l'Opera. 2010.
It doesn’t take much. A deserted street at dusk, with the summer sunlight lingering on the upper floors of a row of buildings and the sidewalks down below already deep in shadow, may get some old movie in our heads rolling again. Since we are ordinarily better at forgetting than remembering, it is often a mystery why some such sight has stamped itself on our memory, when countless others that ought to have far greater meaning can hardly be said to exist for us anymore. It makes me suspect that a richer and less predictable account of our lives would eschew chronology and any attempt to fit a lifetime into a coherent narrative and instead be made up of a series of fragments, spur-of-the-moment reminiscences occasioned by whatever gets our imagination working. 
 - Memory Traps, Charles Simic.  NYRB Blog, November 2012.

Paris is, and will likely forever be, my memory trap.

I think it was that way before I had even been there the first time. But it was our second time, although our first together, which hangs in my mind most often these days.

After stashing our bags at the hostel mid-morning, we snuck out and wound our way through the tightly cobbled lanes of the Marais. The air was crisp, with a cool blueness settling over the rooflines. I can't seem to remember anyone else being out. In my mind, the streets were impossibly ours.

Each with a white-specked brioche tucked into a brown paper bags at a quiet boulangerie, we found a place to sit by the canal. The cobbles were warm, and the roughness didn't bother us. Our teenage knees and travel-worn legs dangled. We couldn't help ourselves but to grin.

We were here.

Thanks to the Paris Travel Guide over at A Minute Away from Snowing for bringing it all flooding back.

THE APARTMENT





There is something elusive about spaces which are curated and lived at the same time. We are forever trying to create them, while knowing that in part, they must create themselves. 

Of course The Line manage it, with quintessential ease, in The Apartment: a space for gatherings, launches, and workshops. 

Just perfect.

LA FABRICA


In Residence: Ricardo Bofill on Nowness.com

It's a strange thing, seeing photographs you have poured over so many times you are certain you understand their deepest intricacies begin to move before you.

Yet, Albert Moya has done a beautiful job of transforming the sequence of images - stills, almost stills, and slow pans - into a sense of the quality and sequencing of the space. This short film outdoes the images in ways I could not even have imagined.

Within the raw shell - those curtains, that lush greenness, the furnishing! Suddenly Bofill's place has a denseness to it - it is full of space and possibility.
Bofill says it best himself:
It’s here where I know how to live, here where I know how to work
Where I start to think and project, my life is always made up of projections,
because the profession of architecture leads you to project the future,
so this influences your own mind
My life is always a project moving forward,
more than a story from the past
The idea of a space which helps you to understand what it means to march through life as yourself - a space which just fits  - that's a fairly wonderful thing to search for.

PRINCESS OF WALES CONSERVATORY



India Hobson, via The Garden Edit
It all comes back. Even the dampness underfoot; even that brings it back. I was in Kew Gardens when I first realised how much everything yearns to grow.  I was just twelve, quietly sure-footed in the world. Afterwards we went back to the apartment, and it was raining lightly, and I stood in the bathtub with the white curtain pulled around, ran a shower, and shaved my armpits for the first time.

MARGARET DRABBLE


Sometimes, in the evenings, I find it hard not to get lost in The Paris Review - and even harder to find my way back out of the Interviews. There's something about the rich reality of these characters, many of whom have spent years envisaging other characters, which is just so affirming
Margaret Drabble
(with impeccable cashmere and bentwood)
 1976 

This evening, I have been lounging about with Margaret Drabble. I can't say that I've ever read one of her novels - although I have quickly added some of her classics to my reading list. Towards the end of the interview, she refers to Freud a few times. She's grappling with events, with how the passing of time relates to who you are, and to where you are. 

On surprises and familiarities (and a beautiful understanding of mortality):

There's an essay by Freud in which he discusses the uncanny feeling of being both familiar with and utterly surprised by something. I think this is one of the most distressing, but important feelings in life. The feeling that I knew this all along, but I never knew it before. Freud would argue we feel this about sex. The first time we find out what it actually is, we think “how absolutely astonishing and impossible,” but at the same time we know we knew.
I'm sure death feels a bit like that. In fact I've often had a dream in which I am just about to die and my last words are, “Oh, that was what it was like. I did know really, but now I know for real.” And then I wake up.

And on coincidence:
Freud takes a harsher view. His view is that they are coincidences and the idea that our need to see them as not being so, like our need to avoid that death really is death, contorts the whole of human life: that the whole of human culture is distorted by our desperate need to avoid the truth.
I'm perpetually tossed between these two interpretations of life. It is a fact that if you have faith of a certain sort, then certain things will happen for you or for those that you love. But this is only in a way like watering a plant. One of the images I like best is the plant in The Waterfall that Jane keeps on watering long after she thinks that it's dead. And then it begins to grow again.

TREADMILL

Gerhard Richter, Ruhrtalbrucke (Ruhrtal Bridge)
1969, Oil on Canvas  

 who are you going to be when all this clay flowing through you has
finally become
form, and you catch a glimpse of yourself at daybreak,
...what was it you were told to
accomplish?
- Jorie Graham, Treadmill.


READING LISTS


Aran goyoaga's space via sfgirlbybay

One of my favourite internet past-times is collating lists of books to read. Like all good internet past-times, this one is dangerously time consuming, and I am fairly sure I would get an equal amount of enjoyment out of actually reading some of the books occupying the vast lists. That said, I have just finished marching my way through Salman Rushdie's 'Joseph Anton', so am on the lookout for a new (perhaps slightly shorter) read.

So I have many reasons to be thankful to the New York Times for publishing a comprehensive annotated reading list, of their  100 Notable Books of 2013. Because what's the new year for if not to catch up on last year's books.


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