All posts by Clio

The Daily Communiqué – 19 April, 2019 – Where Would You Go?

Let’s pretend for a few minutes that I actually have time and energy to write an application for Atlas Obscura’s First Journey.  $15,000US to go anywhere and do anything in the world.  Where would I go?

Mind you, this is off the top of my head, and is an incomplete list.  Of course, I’d visit all the book stores and libraries inbetween!  Where would you go?

Niagara Falls at night

Statue of Liberty – I’d have to train in order to walk all 377 steps to the crown

 

Borglum's GeorgeMount Rushmore at sunrise
I did Haleakala at sunrise and it was spectacular

Powell’s Book Store in Portland

Burning of Zozobra in Santa Fe

New Orleans for the music and the food

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hockey Hall of Fame

Salem, MA

Seneca Falls, NY

Paris

The steps outside the Tower of London where Princess Elizabeth I sat in the rain before being imprisoned.

Stonehenge

Florence, Italy

The Berlin Wall

Rock hewn churches in Ethiopia

The Rock Hewn (Underground) Churches in Lalibela, Ehtiopia

The Daily Communiqué – 18 April, 2019 – Artemisia Gentileschi

Allegory of Rhetoric, Painting by Artemisia Gentileschi

In a silly mood recently, I thought there was a joke to be made about how in my more confident days, this was a picture of me taking dictation from my muse.  I mean, look at that gorgeous skin …

The painting was used by someone on Twitter and as is my inclination, I went off on a search.

The introduction of Artemisia Gentileschi began with this article which points out if one were to invest in art, one could do worse than investing in her paintings

“She has a position both as a feminist icon, who grappled with the not always beneficial attentions of the opposite sex, but also as an exponent of a robust style of figurative painting.”  (

“Wait!  Who is that?” I wondered and the search widened.
Artemisia Gentileschi was the daughter of Orazio, himself a painter of some repute.  She became known for paintings of strong women taking charge.  Her best known painting is probably Judith Slaying Holofernes (below), in response to her own rape by her mentor, Agostino Tassi.  Tassi was hired by Artemisia’s father because women weren’t allowed to attend the art academy.  (Tassi was eventually convicted of rape.)

Artemisia Gentileschi - Giuditta decapita Oloferne - Google Art ProjectWow.  As I read further, I learned about the Power of Women, an artistic trope depicting “an admonitory and often humorous inversion of the male-dominated sexual hierarchy.” (Wikipedia, op cit)

This is the truncated version of how I finally got to know Artemisia Gentileschi and her work.  There’s much to sort through and think about while placing her in the realm of feminist icon.

And, the name of the painting finally revealed itself at Robilant + Voena, in an exhibition of works inspired by La Artemisia.

The Daily Communiqué – 17 April, 2019 – The Turnip Man

The 2014 Jarramplas festivities. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

By way of Atlas Obscura comes the story of Jarramplas, a monster who gets 30 tons of turnips thrown at him by townsfolk in celebration of … no one’s quite sure what. It’s a town tradition with no settled origin story.

As I read, it struck me as one of the many ways people chased demons away. Turnips in Spain, Zozobra in New Mexico, and sin-eating among them.

Although sin-eating may be borderline because it’s not really chasing the demons away.  It’s eating a ritual meal over the body by a designated person.   By eating this meal, the sin-eater absorbs the sins of the dead resulting in absolution of the deceased’s soul.

Zozobra on fire / Getty Images

Zozobra represents gloom and annually storms Santa Fe determined to spread it over the entire world, beginning with the children.   His eventual burning, brought about by fire spirit dancer, chases the gloom, and bad spirits, of the year away. Light returns, and the Fiestas de Santa Fe begins.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

Further it brings to mind Shirley Jackson’s story The Lottery, about an annual ritual performed by townspeople who stone the loser of the lottery to death in order to ensure continued well being of the town and bring about a good harvest.

If only it were that easy.

The Daily Communiqué – 15 April, 2019 – Notre Dame

@dibujosdecristina

Instagram: @dibujosdecristina

It is too much.  Notre Dame burning seemed farcical, and that’s how a co-worker and I treated it, at first.

He heaved a huge sigh which I remarked on hearing over my headphones.  “I think it’s the end times,” he said.

“What?”

“No, I’m serious.  Notre Dame’s burning.  It might be the end times.”

Then I said maybe god was pissed at Benedict for the horrible things he said in his letter.

“But if he’s dead, how can he be pissed?”

I was confused.  “Benedict isn’t dead.”

Click.  Whir.

“Oh!  Nietzsche …”

Hearing the news coverage on the way home broke my heart.  A place I’ve never been, yet so iconic as to feel like I know it caught fire.  The flames seen from miles away.  Paris came to a standstill as citizens of the world stopped what they were doing, to bear witness to the awfulness.  People prayed, sang, knelt, and wept at the sight.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was also on fire.  But you wouldn’t know that.  Not even Al-Jazeera has much to say about it.

So much hardship to be borne in the world. It makes giving up look like a good idea.  Do Not.  We must be strong for each other, and ourselves.

The Daily Communiqué – 14 April, 2019 – Week 2 Recap

Monday’s announcement of the Hugo nominees led me to write about my experiences with WorldCon and meeting authors.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different music at work, thanks to the global record collection, and shared some of my discoveries on Tuesday.

In the same vein, on Wednesday there were works by artists I found intriguing.

Some reflective writing on writing on Thursday.

A tiny bit of fiction for Friday night.  The monster is real!

And rounding out the week, my reaction to former pope Benedict’s letter about sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Currently reading:  Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  I don’t know what I think about it yet, other than it’s weird.

The Daily Communiqué – 13 April, 2019 – Benedict

I cannot let this pass.

The ex-pope known as Benedict released a screed blaming the sexual revolution of the 1960s for priests abusing children in the Catholic church.

Rachel Donadio’s article in The Atlantic is a fascinating look into the bizarre writings of a 92 year old pope emeritus, and how they’ve just muddied the handling of an already fraught situation.

“From afar, the Vatican is seen as an impenetrable and mysterious world, a place of ancient, sacred rituals and quiet religiosity. Inside, it turns out it’s a bureaucracy like any other. Sometimes the former boss weighs in, and what was once opaque becomes clearer, and even stranger.” (

Let’s be clear, abuse is not about an absence of God or the presence of naked bodies on billboards, it is about the agency of predators.  Millions of children have been traumatized because priests chose to sexually abuse them.

I know from experience how difficult it is to deal with the complex emotions of loving your predator, and the shock which comes with realizing what was done was abuse.  I was powerless, so were all those children, in the face of abuse perpetrated by a powerful person in our lives.

The Catholic church is powerful enough to do something about this, and has yet to fully address it. Not enough is being done to protect the congregants of the Church.

I cannot let this pass without comment.

The Daily Communiqué – 12 April, 2019 – The Coffee Break

Harold whispered through gritted teeth, “Go back to your desk!  Go! Now!” His eyes moved quickly as though watching for danger,  face screwed up in fear.

Uh oh.  It happened again.  Scurrying back to my desk, I put my hands on the computer keyboard and listened.  Who was it this time?

Somewhere on my aisle, a phone rang.  Heads popped out and made shushing motions.  One of the rules was, don’t make noise, she might hear you.  And if she heard you … better to not even consider that.

My hands fell into my lap.  I squeezed my eyes closed and tried to hold my breath.  “Not me, not me, not me,” my mind chittered nervously.

Memories of the last time popped to the surface.  I’d barely escaped, tried to cry quietly in the bathroom, great heaving sobs escaping.  It was horrible, and every day I dreaded a repeat.

I sniffed.  Cigarette smoke?  I didn’t know she … oh, that’s not good and it’s not cigarette smoke.  Crouching down, I wrapped my arms around my head. I knew everyone else was doing the same thing.  Something loud was coming …

My neighbor let out a little squeak.  I crawled across the aisle into her cube and we wrapped our arms around each other, trembling in fear.  “No, no, no, nonononono …” Opal whispered.

Leaning closer to her, I whispered in her ear, “Whose turn was it this morning?”

A tear rolled down her cheek, “Mine.  I got in late, she was here before me …”  Her face fell. We were all terrified.

The last person got fired on the spot.  The floor around them scorched from the flames coming out of the monster’s nostrils.

As the roar died down, quiet clinking came from the break room.  Glass on porcelain. A spoon stirring in liquid. The smell of coffee rose over the smell of sulphur.  Who was stupid enough to be in the break room right now?

Then, porcelain on floor tiles.  The metal of the spoon moving the liquid.  Opal and I put our heads down, our fearful tears mingling as we held our breath.

Quiet.  Slurping.  Really loud slurping.  The sound of heels moving across the floor.  The swish of clothing. A collective sigh as we all went back to work.

Crisis averted.

The Daily Communiqué – 11 April, 2019 – On Writing

Mostly my writing doesn’t get read by anyone.  Writing so publicly in The Daily Communiqué is challenging on more levels than just publishing something, anything, on a daily basis.

There will be a discernible variance in quality as I find my public voice.  Critical reviews are one thing, I can hide behind the intellectual and LitCrit when writing those.

Getting more personal, staying away from the diary like posts requires a willingness to be vulnerable to a buncha “I don’t know who might be reading this types.”  To be clear, I chose this and I welcome the challenge it brings.  I want it to elevate my writing.

Reading M. Todd Gallowglas’ Stopwatch Chronicles recently shook something loose.  I’m not sure what yet, but it definitely changed my visceral thoughts about my writing.  Some of my daily communiqués will be working through these new ideas.

And since writing this in November, I’ve been thinking about memoir.  River Queens is a great example.  This needs more research, and careful study, but I think there’s some things I could write that wouldn’t be too cringe inducing right now.

Aside from the work with my mentor on metamodernism (yes, it’s a thing and yes, I dig nerding out about it), I have no other “assignments.”  What we’re reading is challenging, and will take some time to get through them thoughtfully.

There are memoir-ish ideas for very short pieces floating around.  I want to weigh where the boundaries are for what I want to say.  Stopwatch Chronicles will have a fundamental impact on how I approach these pieces.

How I’ve evolved as a writer since October leaves me a little befuddled some times.  More than ever I claim “writer” as a part of my self and I’m becoming even more dedicated to pursing the craft.  Bette Davis said it best, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy [ride].”

 

The Daily Communiqué – 10 April, 2019 – Art

What an interesting thing art is.  All art.  Someone thought of something and created it.  They looked around them and thought, “Hey, what if …?  Wouldn’t it be cool?  I want to try …”  And then through practicing their craft, they create the idea they had.

Sometimes I’m simply overwhelmed by the amazing things people create.  Every once in a while, amazing stuff comes out on the screen in front of me.  Words rushing out in a ethereal process which can never fully be explained, only felt and wondered at.

In the March 2019 issue of National Geographic (email subscription required) is a spread called “Conjured Clouds”  Puffs of clouds hang in the air where they normally wouldn’t be and it’s mesmerizing.

A search led me to this in Harper’s Bazaar. Four fashion icons posing with clouds. I suppose we could go deep into how ephemeral both art and fashion can be.  Maybe another time.   That’s the original book hoarder himself, Karl Lagerfeld.  (Life goals.)

The artist is Berndnaut Smilde, and he’s amazing.

Here’s another one from the same issue of National Geographic by Jodi Cobb.  It’s a reflection of Venice in the water, symbolizing her grief.

I can’t even …