Posts Tagged ‘books’

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Philosophy Tuesday

January 9, 2018

There’s a phrase in the writing community:  “You have to kill your darlings.”*

The gist of the phrase is that, when we author a story, we may come up with moments, scenes, plot twists, dialogue, characters, or any of a host of things that are, taken by themselves, absolutely perfect (at least to ourselves).  They are so damn inventive, clever, emotional, poetic, powerful, or poignant that by the gods, those are going to be the shining keystone and/or the golden pillar of our story.  They are the masterstroke.

And maybe they are, indeed, great.  In evoking something.  In their singular glory.  In their isolated grandeur.

They are not, however, isolated.

They are moments within a larger arc, a larger narrative, a larger story.  They need to work within this larger story.  And quite often… they just don’t.  And while at best they can turn out to be a dud within the larger whole, more often they instead end up being downright detrimental and counterproductive:  they push the story into convoluted knots, they place limits on where the story can go, and they force the introduction and inclusion of elements and passages that are downright poor.   They can even subvert the very thing we hope to achieve with them.  Far from being the shining moment, they instead make the whole endeavour crash and burn.

And that’s why we need to kill them.

It can be so hard though!  Those darlings can be downright seductive… look at them, they’re so perfect!**   We want to hold onto them, we want to make it work, we feel that without it our story will be nothing but a hollow shell.  Those darlings are the heart and soul, they give things meaning.

But that’s not accurate.  We do need to kill them. ***

Because, once liberated from their leaden weight, the story is free to journey to new places, to take on its own identity, to fulfill on its intentions.  Setting the darling aside is what lets the story soar.  It lets us see new avenues, lets our creativity back into the game, and gives us freedom to write and fulfill on our, and the story’s, intention.

Rather than a singular moment, the whole can become a masterpiece.

Never can this be more important than when we look at the story we all have, and are, writing called “my past, my present, my future, and who I am.”

For there are moments from our past that we cling tight to, events and decisions that are so foundational we can, without a moment of preparation, tell a grand story around.  Wild, raw, powerful, stories, filled with pain and despair and loss and love and triumph and a definite understanding of the world around us.

As short stories, they are compelling.

As a chapter in the long unfolding story of our life though, they can be huge impediments to achieving all those things we actually want in life – being related, making a difference, fulfillment, self-expression, and peace of mind.

Sometimes those darling to which we hold so dear and so foundational do not, in actually, serve us.  Sometimes we need to kill those darlings, those truths we cling to, in order to let ourselves and our story grow, expand, reconfigure, and get better.   To broaden and lighten ourselves, to unleash our abilities, to expand our experience, our moods, and our place, and to re-guide our path forward.

And then, within that freedom, we can write our lives into our personal masterpiece.

 

* For the longest time I thought the phrase was “You have to murder your babies,” which, while similar, is a bit more, shall we say, macabre and dark?  A writer friend fortunately set me straight on what is the actual phrase…

** I think this is totally why the Zootopia story writing team held on so long with the taming collar idea/version of the script.  The (deleted/tossed out) scene at the taming party is bonafide pure powerful stuff, landing with a masterful one-two stroke of the pain the young polar bear’s eyes followed immediately with Nick’s forcibly placid expression, the light on his collar glowing yellow.  It’s a masterpiece.  There’s no way they wanted to get rid of that scene.  But it destroyed the movie as a whole.  They tried five full screenings to get it to work, but it never could.  Everything around it that needed to be in place to lead to that scene brought the story and the viewers to places that could not be recovered from.  It didn’t do what they wanted to do.  And that’s why they made the crazy, nearly last minute (just over a year from release!) choice to kill that darling, throw out that script and two+ years of work, and start writing anew.  And with that, they gained way more than they lost in setting aside that one scene.

 

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Architecture Monday

January 8, 2018

OK, so this one isn’t even complete yet, but I’m too excited to not share about it right away!  Not the least of which because it is by my perennial fave, Snøhetta.  It’s also a library!  Given their first project ever as a firm came through winning the competition for the giant Alexandria Library, it’s cool to see them design another one on a much more intimate scale.

And it’s a beaut!  Rising from the street level, terraced hillsides lead to a broad covered plaza, forming a big portico towards the city.  Overhead, the iceberg-like form curves together to create a prominent prow.  The crystalline patterns that adorn its side is nice both because it reinforces that ice-like quality, but also as it allows a seamless and sculptural transition between the windows and the solid bits of its face.  I also especially like how it straddles the new light rail line!

I’m even more excited for the inside, with its rising spiral of floors encircling a generous atrium.  It’s light, airy, and keeps everything visible, making multiple floors all a part of the larger community within the building.

Spaces get quieter and more intimate as you go up.  This pic of what I’m imagining is the top floor really sells it for me, with its curving platforms of books and seating, the light coming from up on high, and the mix of spaces for studying, reading, computer use, and more.

I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like when it’s done and open.  Tucked into Calgary, it’ll be much easier for me to visit than the one in Alexandria…

Central Library for Calgary, by Snøhetta

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Wonder Wednesday

January 3, 2018

“Bien sûr, dit le renard. Tu n’es encore pour moi , qu’un petit garçon tout semblable à cent mille petits garçons. Et je n’ai pas besoin de toi. Et tu n’as pas besoin de moi non plus. Je ne suis pour toi qu’un renard semblable à cent mille renards. Mais, si tu m’apprivoises, nous aurons besoin l’un de l’autre. Tu seras pour moi unique au monde. Je serai pour toi unique au monde… ”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…”

lovely image by Samrath Kaur

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Wonder Wednesday

September 20, 2017

These Tintin books were two of my favourite bandes dessinees growing up!

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Architecture Monday

June 12, 2017

Books, architecture, and delicious adaptive reuse.  An ancient church + insertion + lighting = one glorious space, and one of the most impressive bookstores on the planet.

I really love the clarity of concept (shown in the sketch above) and the simplicity of the basic design:  a stark multistory bookcase that hugs one side of the old church’s nave.  The black steel contrasts with the white of the stone pillars and arches, while the colourful books mirrors and joins hands with the fading frescoes on the ceiling.  It calls itself out, never trying to fake its way into being an original part of the church, yet it’s rhythms and proportions work harmoniously with elder.  And best of all, the placement of the bookshelf does nothing to diminish the grandeur of the space, or of the amazing windows.  Quite the contrary – by occupying but a part of the nave it heightens (pun semi-intended) the existing space.

And then, when you get up in the bookcase, and find yourself nestled up close and personal with vaults, arches, and those frescoes, the perspective shifts are wonderful indeed.

Also really liking the design for the apse, with a robust chandelier that creates an interplay of low, intimate space inside of the taller exuberance, and the built-in furniture that feels both at once monastic as well as contemporary.

This was a church that had been deconsecrated in the late 1700s and had languished in use and purpose, and it fills me with excitement to see it get this second lease on life.  And doubly so for such a great space.

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore by Merkx+Girod Architecten

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El-ahrairah’s new Owsla member

December 27, 2016

Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, has passed away.

I adore Watership Down.  The ending of the novel is one of the most beautiful and moving I have ever read.  It’s is wonderfully understated, with a moment of realization so deliciously woven from an obscure side-tale from earlier in the book and culminating with the ultimate fulfillment and expression of who Hazel was.  I re-read at least the ending once a year, and the book in its entirety frequently.  It is a story of great layers and depth, of characters and journeys, and, as befitting of a tale about rabbits for whom storytelling is paramount, it itself is a novel that features great storytelling.  It flows.

Adams was 96.  He led a good life and left an incredible legacy.

 

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”

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