Hello The Ones!
The latest question is available on Cerebration.tv here; come say hi. I will add a new question soon, and post up latest replies, soonish.
So, I finally finished Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. It's a heavy topic - what happens to the hopes of a person and a people over successive generations, when the country within which they reside gives birth to a new world order: communism in 20th century China. Incompleteness defines the work: love unrequited; great musical scores unfinished; dreams unmet. It's an epic, sweeping tale, poignantly crafted with deep pathos. There is an alluring, fairytale element to the story, with characters named such as Wen the Dreamer, Big Mother Knife and Swallow, but this only goes to highlight in extremis the level of pain, humiliation and sacrifice that a 'great leap forward' demands.
This, plus a conversation I listened to between comedian Duncan Trussell, and historian Daniele Bolleli, got me thinking about identity. Most of the known world, apart from select remote regions, have over the course of millennia been conquered and counter-conquered repeatedly. Across centuries, prevailing norms around religion and morality have been shaped by the reigning political and social mores of that moment. From one generation to the next a family can move from one country to another, and the children of the successive generation become, by virtue of birth, recognised official citizens of an entirely different nation from that of their parents'. Long story short, identity is a haphazard pot pourri of happenstance and selectivity. I have many languages, modes of dress, religious and political affinities in my personal family history, and they form parts of my identity. But by virtue of birth on earth itself, I also lay claim to the ingenious first principle thinking of Da Vinci, the rigorous elegance of Tamara de Lempicka's portraits, matcha lattes, Indian cardamom-infused Danish buns from Fabrique, the essays of Michel de Montaigne and the musings of Rumi that build out the other parts of my nebulous, and deliciously fraught, sense of personal identity. I've decided on an open door policy when it comes to identity; mi casa es su casa.
On a less revelatory note, Playing the Picturesque at RIBA finishes tomorrow, Alexander Calder at Huxley-Parlour is a riot of suspended colour, and I'd recommend a simultaneous read of Gogol's The Nose and Jean-Claude Ellena's The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur. Bless you.
Ok. Farewell until this every sometimes note hits your inbox, next.
H with M’s support, always.
Co-founders, Twins, Proponents of #Just One
The Learner is Here | Cerebration.tv is Here
Life is a classroom of your own making
Forwarded this email? Become a bona fida member of this little corner of the world,