new favourite things.
1. Jorge Luis Borges.
I’ve only recently been introduced to this amazing writer. An Argentinian postmodernist mostly specialising in short stories, Borges challenged the accepted conventions of language, authorship and the novel. His short stories are amazing in their scope. They read more like philosophical treatises rather than narratives. His stories are often anachronistic in structure and he deliberately challenges the reader to question what is being told to him/her. I’ve only just read two of his short stories: “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” and “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” both taken from his collection Labyrinths. They’re not entertainment, not short stories for the consumption of the masses, but more like works of art that challenge the reader to think, to ponder and analyse.
2. Once Around the Block by Badly Drawn Boy
I first heard this song on a ride to an obscure lake. I had fallen asleep in the backseat of my friend Tom’s car, and when I woke, the first thing I heard was this amazingly layered, beautiful music. I didn’t ask him who it was, just sat back and enjoyed it. When the song ended, it still lingered in my mind and I kept turning it over and over like a shiny new coin. Later on, I asked him about the song and he had no idea what I was talking about. I had assumed it to be either Sufjan Stevens or Elliot Smith, and we went through a few of their songs, searching. And then, we happened upon it, it was Badly Drawn Boy (of About a Boy fame) and I was satisfied. Now I listen to it, over and over again. It transports me somewhere, somewhere magical. I wish more music did that. Download it here: Once Around the Block.
3. I Seem to be a Verb by R Buckminster Fuller
I Seem to be a Verb that is difficult to describe. It is Fuller’s collection of quotes, pictures, musings and thoughts. But in typical Buckminster Fuller fashion, it is the innovative way in which he presents it. It is laid out beautifully, illustrated by Quentin Fiore, who also illustrated Marshall McLuhan’s amazing (and very similar) The Medium is the Massage. There is a line of text that runs through the middle of the book, from beginning to end, dividing each page into two halves, the other half which has to be read upside down. It is truly an amazing thing to hold, to flip through and immerse yourself into. When I have more time, I’ll talk in length about this novel experiment. I’ll also try to scan and upload some pictures. If anyone reading this has access to a library that owns the book, please check it out. Its kind of rare and expensive to buy.
4. Lasantha Wickrematunga’s final editorial
Lasantha Wickrematunga was editor of The Sunday Leader, until this January, he was shot fatally by 4 men and died while in the hospital. The Sunday Leader, and especially Wickrematunga, is one of the most respected investigative newspapers in war-torn Sri Lanka. Known for holding steadfastly to journalistic code, to high-ideals and morals, The Leader was, and is, one of the only voices of reason amid the chaos of Sri Lanka. I first heard about Wickrematunga’s death in January and although I knew of him as an influential journalist, it hadn’t occured to me to read his final editorial. On trying to help Anu out with a project, I revisited Himal Magazine webpage and followed the link to his editorial. I was struck. He went on knowing that he would die. It was a certainity for him. He knew who and how, just not when. And yet, he continued to do what he did best. He exposed corruption, protested government excesses and denounced the militants for casual disregard for human life. It is people like him that inspire me. People who put themselves in the line of fire each day, knowing that they might not come home that night. Why do they do it? He could’ve money, power, fame, a comfortable life abroad, almost anything he desired. Why did he choose to do what he did? He answers: “there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.”
I hope one day, I’ll be able to say the same. Read it here.
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