Fridays are for readers: Freedom

Still on my last 50 pages (out of 706) to finish Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, I can already say I liked it and enjoyed it very much.

I like to wonder the actual meaning of books’ titles as much as I like titles that are not directly related to the book like a general definition, but more like a single sentence that is said somewhere in the story, like To Kill a Mockingbird or the main definition of the character like The Catcher in the Rye (both books belong to my favorite’s list) or simply a title that plays with the reader and gives a point of view like The Great Gastby or Invisible. While reading Freedom I wondered and analysed the rear meaning of it because it’s not as simple as someone waiting to be free…. literally, or a broad definition of being completely free… It has nothing to do with it.

Freedom is about people, how we manage to create our lives and how “free” we are to decide all our steps to take and how we get into our present, the result of all our decisions made in the past. Or simply, what is freedom for us, what we want our free life to be like. It’s not a book with a very complicated story but it catches your attention. It’s this kind of book where nothing happens yet many things happen, basically because it’s just about people, what they think and feel. It made me thought about how important is to be honest with ourselves and the people around us, how we must act truly from what we feel is correct because if not, if you do things just for others you may end being a shadow and neither you nor the others will enjoy your company. I know this idea might seem very selfish but it’s something I’ve been working on personally the last years and makes you feel better with yourself and the people around you. Feel what you do and feel that you do it in part for you. If you do thinks for others, don’t think you’re doing it only for that person because if in the future you regret it, you’ll make him/her pay for that. And that is not a healthy state of mind.

Back to the book… It talks about all this: real life with real people (well, ok, not real, they don’t exist but they could exist), people crossing their lives with others and how they interact. What you get from them and how you leave them. Some are part of your life for a while, some stay… some stay for others… They’re free to decide but sometimes those decisions put you in a cage.

It’s not a book where to take quotes from (strange, because I’m always underlining sentences in every book I read). But still it has a lot to say. It’s one of those you finish and feel you’ve gone through a trip to your past life and past relationships, you’ve learnt so much about human interaction and to which you can relate so much.

I already bought The Corrections, the first book written by Franzen and I think I’ll like it very much, too.

Share your impressions if you’ve read Freedom and if not, I invite you to do it and think about your own freedom.

Have a wonderful weekend! We’ll be back next week with a little surprise!! 😉

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Urban Photography: NY Through The Lens

I cherish very good memories of my only and (unlucky me) brief trip to New York City. This happened more than 10 years ago, yet I remember the awe and fascination of this great city as if it all happened yesterday.

A few weeks ago I discovered with huge pleasure amazing photographer Vivienne Gucwa, who portrays the landscapes, architecture and neighborhoods of New York City. It was love at fist sight.

NY Through The Lens, features her photographs, through which she explores the ever changing urban landscapes of the five boroughs. Every photo is accompanied by a piece of writing, some of which are almost poems for the beauty and lyricism of her words and thoughts.

I was completely caught by the stories she tells, both photographic and written, and I have become a regular reader of her blog. Her pictures make me travel to NYC, I fly there with my imagination and get to know the city from the eyes of a native New Yorker. They make me wish to go back there with my camera, and start my own exploration and discovery of New York.

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Good old times.

The other day I was standing up on the metro and an image caught my attention. A woman was staring at a picture of an older woman (although not too old), which she kept in her wallet. I could spend some time looking at her and her reactions and noticed that she was just staring at it, for some minutes, almost as if she was talking to her. I wondered who that woman was and where she was then. It was easy to imagine that the woman in the metro missed her and I dared to assume that the woman in the photograph was her mother.

I remember talking to a photographer some years ago. He told me the main purpose of his photography was to make a whole compilation of memories within his images. He was not that worried about working as a photographer (though I think he does, now) but he only wanted to make sure his camera could portray his life. The way we are, things we like now, how we laugh, things we do…. Memories of present that will become smiles from a better and relax time in the future (because, truly… don’t you look back at the past with a smile thinking old times were always better?) I’ve tried to do the same thing, get a good bunch of photographs, really good photographs, of moments we live now. How we are and how we laugh. I should put some order some time and create a book, specially for those that won’t remember.

These photographs will let us create stories to tell, specially to the kids, like that day we went to the beach and my brother fell asleep at the worst hours and he got a huge sunburn… or that day I went for a walk with my father and his camera and he asked me to pose with my beautiful blue dress in the main square of the village we used to go when we were kids… I can see a candy shop in the background, that I used to love^^ it doesn’t exist any more.

The other day I went to visit my nephew and first went to the cinema next to my work to buy him sweet popcorn. He relates sweet popcorn to me (or me to sweet popcorn? haha) and he always asks me some, so I went buy him some. That was a memory I didn’t want to forget. A small one, very tiny one, but I want to tell him all the things he did when he was a kid (now) and show him, so it was the perfect time to make a photograph of him eating sweet popcorn (as if he was the cookie monster ^^)

While I was thinking about writing this post, I realized the kind of photography I like the most is the personal one. Not only MY personal photography but those “making off” photographs, people not looking at the camera but the seconds right before and after. Much more intimate, private and real. More human. Guess it’s similar to what I already mentioned a few posts back when talked about silly things.

And, to finish with, I remembered this project I discovered a year or so ago. Argentinian photograper Irina Werning made a photo project with people performing the exact same pose and situation of all those photographs we all have. You can see the galleries of that project HERE and HERE.

Happy First day of Spring! 🙂

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(Un)expected

Torino, Lungo Po Armando Diaz

Torino, Lungo Po Armando Diaz

It is one of those days you prefer to walk instead of jumping on a bus. I know I should run to catch a train, but I need to slow down, and so I take the longer road, but the most charming one.

It’s almost 7 pm of a late winter’s day. Spring is approaching fast and is shyly showing its first signs. Days are becoming longer and longer, light has not completely faded away yet and the sky seems a delicate palette of warm colours.

I adjust the rhythm of my steps to that of the water, the river calmly flows beside me. We are going opposite directions, but that doesn’t prevent us from exchanging stories and thoughts. We are silent companions for this piece of the journey.

And as I slow down, I see. 

I grab the only camera I have with me and shoot. I need to capture and remember the beauty of an unexpected but longed wished for moment.

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Fridays are for Readers: An Imaginary Life

That was the book that made me discover Australian author David Malouf and as I read the very first lines I immediately feel in love with his writing and this novel.

We are taken back to the Roman Empire, and we are presented with a first person narrator that we are to discover to be the poet Ovid, exiled at the furthest edges of the Empire in a village called Tomi, living his last years in a desolated land among people whom he call “barbarians” and whose language he does not understand. There he encounters a wild boy believed to be brought up by a deer, he befriends him and brings him back to the village to take care of him and try to civilise him.

The relationship with the Child is central in the novel. While attempting to define and understand his surroundings, Ovid finds in the boy his own “Other”, but as the relationship grows deeper he disturbs the established social structure of the village and is forced to flee again, this time far into the unknown steppes. The Child guides him in this new journey of discovery, and it is there, finally, that Ovid will learn a new language, the one of nature, and become one with it.

Throughout the whole book, language is a device of control. It causes Ovid’s first exile, since it was his words that threatened Roman dominant class. As we go on reading we become more and more aware of the power of language: knowing the names of things, being able to communicate with others and tell stories, are all powerful acts, and it is the deprivation of language the true exile.

Ovid is separated from himself, yet he will learn how to be alive. He will be transformed until he finally re-appropriates the true language. It is the reconciliation with the self and the Other (who no longer is so), with nature and earth. The last sentences of the novel are like a poem:

It is summer. It is spring. I am immeasurably, unbearably happy. I am three years old. I am sixty. I am six.

I am there.

Malouf is a poet too, and his novel writing conserves all the beauty of poetry. He is a detailed and delicate writer, very lyrical and full of surprising and charming images and insights, and the stories hide numerous layers of interpretations and meanings. You end up underlining passages and noting them into a notebook, reading pages out loud to yourself to savour the softness of words. And it is then you discover the power of language.

The true language, I know now, is that speech in silence in which we first communicated, the Child and I, in the forest, when I was asleep. It is the language I used with him in my childhood, and some memory, intangibly there but not quite audible, of our marvelous conversations, comes to me again at the very edge of sleep, a language my tongue almost rediscovers and which would, I believe, reveal the secrets of the universe to me. When I think of my exile now it is from the unverse. When I think of the tongue that has been taken away from me, it is some earlier and more universal language than our Latin, subtle as it undoubtedly is. Latin is a language for distinctions, every ending defines and divides. The language I am speaking of now, that I am almost speaking, is a language whose every syllable is a gesture of reconciliation. We knew that language once. I spoke it in my childhood. We must discover it again.

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Blogging and Fashion.

Changing the subject a little bit. Hoping not to break the mood created yesterday by Marta, her text and photograph; today I was feeling like talking about a collaboration with a friend of mine.

I am so lucky I am surrounded by such amazing people, who, whatever they do, they keep Art with themselves and, as well as me, they need to create something now and then. And I love being the photographer to witness all that^^

If I had to use a word to describe Carla, that would be bliss. That is definitely her. She uses her artistic skills for her writings and with fashion! She’s a genuine fashion lover and  she creates amazing combinations of things I wouldn’t have thought about. As well as a painting, a photograph, a poem, etc., fashion is also a way of expression and an identity.

When she started blogging at Elle.es, she asked me to be her photographer and of course I couldn’t say no. We started with an improvised first session on a freezing day (1ºC! couldn’t feel my fingers), when she woke me up and told me the magic words to make me react when I’m feeling kind of lazy: “Emma, let’s make it happen“. So no cold or rain or snow can’t stop me from doing what I want.

Here you have a few photographs from that day, showing some “freezing cold” looks. I still have to learn a lot about fashion photography but it looks good and fun doing so with a friend.

Happy Tuesday!

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An end, a beginning.

I look into the water and it’s like travelling through time and submerging in a parallel universe, where everything endlessly repeats itself yet adquires new meanings and nuances. 

An instant. My end and my beginning, love exploding in all its power, life bursting in reclaiming to be lived, fears and anguishes swallowing everything.

I fall back in the depths of the water.

Years. A long road leading me here, to another fleeting instant. I look into the water, my own personal mirror, life and love bursting in again, like a stormy sea. I dive and swim deep down again, but this time I am anchored to my heart.

You are standing there, I can see you face at the other side of the mirror, enchanting and disarming as always. I am standing there, chasing you and chasing myself. 

The water returns the same image, and it is finally me. A moment and it’s all gone.

An end, a beginning. Once again everything will radically change.

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