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If quiet peopleyou are an introvert and someone tells you that you have to get out more or otherwise change your ways, here are five reasons why you should politely ignore this advice and feel quietly superior:

  1. We navigate away from crowds and habitually despise the herd instinct. While the blind lead the blind introverts follow their own path and neither seek nor invite followers.

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ALL THE LIGHT YOU CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (Fourth Estate, 2014)

 "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever"

 51mfo0a70zl-_sx331_bo1204203200_This engrossing novel follows the parallel lives of a young German boy (Werner Pffnig) and a young French girl (Marie Laure) caught up in the mayhem and confusion of the second world war.

The novel’s year zero is 1944 and the complex yet brilliant plotted story shifts back and forward in time.

Short chapters give the urgency of a thriller yet patiently piece together the threads that briefly and movingly bring these two blighted lives together.

Doerr unsentimentally shows us how ordinary lives are corrupted by the horror of war.

One of the real strengths of the novel is that our sympathies lie with both of the main characters even though conventionally speaking they are mortal enemies and Werner is alined with the morally depraved Hitler youth. View full article »

FRANCESCO DE GREGORI –  live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016

degregoriThis concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the  ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.

Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.

tickets.jpgThe varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).

De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of  beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. View full article »

ANOMALISA directed by Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson (USA, 2015)

anomalisa

Michael and Lisa

“I don’t want to live my life like everybody else,
And I don’t want to say that I feel fine like everybody else,
‘Cause I’n not like everybody else”

These lyrics by Ray Davies in The Kinks’ song ‘I’m Not Like Everybody Life’ serves as a neat summation of the central theme in Charlie Kaufman’s latest ‘mindfuck’ movie.

An ‘anomaly’ is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “something unusual, unexpected or different from what usually happens”. As an animated feature for adults, including an explicit and realistic stop motion sex scene, this film is certainly an anomaly but it is also consistent with Kaufman’s previous work in that it is less concerned with external reality and more focused on what goes on inside our heads. View full article »

mervyn-peake

Mervyn Peake (9th July 1911 – 17rh November 1968)

“The world is falling to pieces but some of the pieces taste good” wrote Adrian Mitchell in Peace Is Milk.

Amid the ceaseless quest for power and control as we seek to quench the thirst of the ego, it is all too easy to forget that we are flesh and blood and overlook the sentiments expressed in another memorable poem about the beauty and fragility of our brief lives:

 

TO LIVE IS MIRACLE ENOUGH by Mervyn Peake 

To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.

Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.

Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.

Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.

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