Posted in Fine Arts

“The Sun Also Rises” on Hemingway’s 2nd String

You are all a lost generation.

In literature, the “Lost Generation” refers to the post-World War I mentality of people (more specifically, writers) who lost their sense of purpose and contentedness in the aftermath of the conflict’s horrors. Many of them seemed to travel aimlessly, some suffered from a degree of PTSD, and all of it is reflected in their work.

The above quote is attributed to Gertrude Stein, a close friend of Ernest Hemingway, and is used in the opening of The Sun Also Rises…Hemingway’s novel that is considered to be a seminal expression of the Lost Generation’s feelings.

It saddens me when I think of the despair felt by so many during this time. Sure, it led to the genesis of some great literary art, but at what cost? Famously, Hemingway never seemed to recover from these sentiments and took his own life in 1961.

As I spend time with my peers these days- and read their outpourings on social media- I cannot help but fear that a 2nd Lost Generation is fast forming.

Many current events are grim, just as they were a century ago. (In different ways, to be certain, but nevertheless unfortunate.) And I’d venture that a fair chunk of them are linked to the U.S. political climate that has reared its ugly head within the past three years. Never in my life have I seen neighbors so ideologically divided.

What has happened?

And never in my life have I witnessed friends, colleagues, and assorted young people have so much disillusionment for their world. I see many of them take stands for causes they believe in- which is great- while at the same time numbing the pessimistic impulses with alcohol, drugs, and broken relationships.

Even in the arts, the subject matter has shifted. Where was once musical comedies and disco beats now sit topical dramas and tributes to those who experienced untimely deaths. You could argue that global trends (political and otherwise) will ebb and flow; assuming that’s true, I still never expected it to occur in my lifetime.

I feel like I’m dancing around a point here, but I somehow can’t manage to say it outright. I guess what I’m saying is that I lament this 2nd Lost Generation. So many of us have this untapped potential that is being weighed down, like Atlas. I can only pray that a new horizon comes about quickly enough to save the lives of those who weren’t born idealists to begin with.

It was too late for Ernest Hemingway.

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Posted in Writing

“Sky Full of Stars” (Theme from…)

by Amanda DeLalla

We were kindred souls
Even with our clearly-set roles
I could tell from your sparkling eyes
How my heart was in for a surprise
In my head
I would remember every word you said
Carved craters on the moon
In my head
Stained like the surface of Mars with red
Giving both life and ruin
(Refrain) And all I see when you’re with me
Is a sky full of stars
Complex as cosmology
And so very far
Maybe one day you’ll understand it
How I might as well be on another planet
Just me where you are in a sky full of stars (End refrain)
Circumstance isn’t kind to me
I know well that this never should be
You’ve got plenty of things to do
I fear nothing when I’m standing with you
All this time
I’ve felt I’m guilty of some awful crime
Floating up on some cloud
All this time
Loving you like this is an endless climb
Loving you ain’t allowed
(Refrain)
Take me on a rocket to fly
So I’ll never have to say goodbye
Take me on a rocket to fly
No I never wanna ever have to say goodbye!

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Posted in Personals

Welcome to Seb’s.

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It has been one year, two months, and two weeks since I saw La La Land in full for the first time. It’s also been that long since I’ve seen it in full, period.

So much has happened in the wake, and yet this movie is still so hard to watch.

The greatest stories just have that effect on you, you know? Furthermore, we all have those moments where we say “I related to that character” or “that part of the movie reminded me of something that happened to me.” But even rarer are the stories that seem to appear at just the right time, and in which you not only see a part of yourself, but a part of your whole life playing out in front of you.

It’s pretty surreal.

One more little detail- when La La Land first booted up in the cinema, and the wonderful “Another Day of Sun” number began, I was convinced that the actors were playing actors on a film set. Giving a nod to old musical films, if you will, within the context of the plot that was about to unfold. But when the song ended and the cast just got back into their cars as if nothing happened…that’s when I realized that there was no tribute here. It WAS that kind of movie. I knew that I was in for a helluva ride.

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you planned. Sometimes an art form crystallizes your feelings better than words alone.

Always and forever, the story goes on.

Posted in Personals

How to Be Saved

Howdy! Sorry this post is so delayed…it may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but it’s gotten off to a bit of a rocky start. I’ve been stressed out for a while and finding it difficult to buckle down on what I want/need to do.

There’s a certain line in Hugh Wheeler’s book for A Little Night Music

“I should never have gone to flirt with rescue when one has no intention of being saved.”

These words are spoken by Fredrik Egerman right before his soulmate, Desiree Armfeldt, sings “Send in the Clowns.” Fredrik and Desiree regret that their paths didn’t cross at the right times; they are now both changed people, and frustrated that their present circumstances will likely keep them apart.

Of course, for those two, the musical comedy world mandates that they overcome this obstacle and get together in the end. In the real world, it’s more complicated.

I often think about myself, and how I’ve always felt a need to “save” people. But I also think about how I occasionally think that I, too, need to be “saved.” What does it all mean? Why do I feel this compulsion to make people happy, to lighten their burdens? It doesn’t fall on me to do it for them, especially if they don’t want to be “rescued” from whatever they’re going through.

But Lord, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be the one who makes it better from them. As for me- to name an example- I look at this one relationship of mine. How one of the things I really like about it is that it enables me to “escape.” But at the same time, I don’t think I am doing all I can to save myself…for reasons both internal and external. And tethering the “escape” to an interpersonal relationship creates unnecessary pressure for the other party, and dependence within myself.

I suppose the point of this whole thing is the following: do I keep trying to rescue others, or know when to stop? And at the end of the day, can I gain a new life for myself?

Posted in Writing

“Elton John”

by Amanda DeLalla

I told you once as we lied in bed
A memory that doesn’t leave my head
The fish was seared; there were lights on the tree
And for one night a year
I felt like I had a family
Sharing a laugh with my cousin Helene
Wine flowing free on a snowy scene
The music plays and the candles burn
Then in a week, the loneliness returns
The trouble with me is that I feel too much
Or do not feel enough
Or simply out of touch
Whatever I felt then, don’t worry, it’s gone
I’ve only got Christmastime
And Elton John
Fast forward to the summer and suddenly
You steal my heart, you’re loving me
And your song plays on a crocodile rock
I expected forever
I was in for a shock
To my soul you held the key
And now you wanna be a memory
Never mind, you’re already gone
Leaving me with Christmases
And Elton John
Why can’t things ever stay so simple?
People die, they despair, they have grown
Life won’t promise to be that simple
So I’ll wait and I’ll dream alone
Friday night, he holds me close

Candy canes and a silver bell and it snows
I can smile at him despite what we shared
The time is now; I’ve left it all there
Something’s in the air, could I ever move on?
Taking my Christmases
And Elton John

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Posted in Personals

Ruminations on the Babes Who Dream

On this Inauguration Day, I reflect on people’s common dreams and the strife with which we strangle one another in the wake of the volatile election. One person breaks ties with a friend over politics, so-and-so cries in the night with fear or anger. And for what? Who lets it get to that point?

Can’t we admit that deep down, we all want the same things out of life? Is the “American Dream” really so out of reach? When will we realize that no man is an island, and even two polar opposites can be interdependent?

But no- right now, what “matters” is that I don’t interpret the world as you do, and so that makes you my adversary. No middle ground in sight.

I have a niece who is about 18 months old. Understandably, everybody loves her. She is a well-behaved child and a cutie. Although she’s too young to vocalize this now, one day she will have dreams and opinions for herself. She’ll learn in school that she can be whatever she wants to be, to believe in herself and have hope. I fear that as she matures, this bright encouragement will stop…as it did, in some regard, for me.

The bottom line: Alexandra, enjoy it while you can. It’s an illusion to some degree. It’s propelling you to that moment in time when you’re not cute anymore and your dreams stop mattering and you become a candidate for unkindness. Where is it that we lose our youthful protection, I wonder? Are we not that same child you wouldn’t dare frown at, once upon a time?

Quoth the lad called Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.”

Posted in Writing

Critically Thinking- How Amelie Poulain and Sheldon Cooper Fluster Me

Let’s get something straight here: I think the characters of Amelie and Sheldon are pretty dope, if you’ll pardon the slang, for various reasons.

But that doesn’t mean they’re immune to my raindrop of rage.

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Amelie Poulain and Sheldon Cooper- from the film Amelie and TV show The Big Bang Theory respectively- are two of the most beloved pop culture icons from the last decade or so. They have permeated into the hearts of Americans, inspired many Internet memes, and are instantly recognizable thanks to their great portrayals by Audrey Tautou and Jim Parsons. What is the essence of these two characters? It is, simply, the fact that they see the world very differently than most folks do. And herein lies the irony.

As I’ve mentioned several times on my blog, I am on the autism spectrum and tend to filter the world through a rather unique lens, to say the least. What others see isn’t always what I’m experiencing. I don’t mind it…in fact, I like it most of the time. Unfortunately, I’ve had numerous encounters where other people did not feel so positively. They lost their patience, thought I was weird, or simply could not understand my perspective. Now if I could line up each of those folks at this moment in time, I might ask what they think of Amelie or Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. And I’m willing to guess that a lot of them have gotten a fair deal of joy out of these two.

Why? Because their quality of seeing the world very differently…is endearing. It’s special. It makes Mlle Poulain and Mr. Cooper who they are. “How come,” I would then ask, “you couldn’t see me as such?” This unanswerable question is why I am flustered.

Amelie and Sheldon are part of the movement to make quirky the new cool. And I’m thankful for that. Yet at the same time, I feel somewhat resentful (of fictional characters, no less) that the differences making them stand out…are the very things for which I, and others like me, get grief.

Posted in Personals

Daily Prompt: Vigor (or, Sailing Away)

This weekend, I saw the newest Disney film Moana. I thought it was very good in its own right, but one part of it in particular stuck with me.

In the first quarter of the story, our vigorous heroine sings a song called “How Far I’ll Go.” It is soon followed by a reprise containing the following lyric: “There’s a line where the sky meets the sea and it calls me. I’m on my own, to worlds unknown.” It was already an emotional scene, but for me, there was a deeper meaning.

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Midway through this year, every room of my mind was filled with you. Maybe I fell too hard, too fast. That’s certainly not unheard of in my life.

And with you, it was even worse because my heart raced from the very first time I saw you. Maybe it needs more barriers, a thicker shell. Who knows? Certainly when you left me, told me you could not love me despite your best efforts…I wish it were made of stone. Now some days what transpired doesn’t affect me at all- at other times, it bothers me a whole lot. It didn’t have to happen this way.

As I saw Moana sail away from her home, alone, to the next chapter of her life, the metaphor was not lost on me. For nearly half a year, you were like home. I felt safe there, felt cared for. But evidently, that’s not where I was meant to stay. Moana, too, was not destined to remain on the island where she was raised.

Don’t get me wrong- I made mistakes as well. But that is, if you’ll excuse the pun, water under the bridge now. Today I board my boat. Today I press onward, if alone. I’ll turn my head, briefly, and see you standing on the seashore. Even then, after all this, I’ll probably smile at you as I sail away.

“All the time wondering where I need to be is behind me…”

Posted in Writing

“The Fools Who Love”

by Amanda DeLalla

Here’s to the fools who love.
To the red-nosed reindeer,
And finger-less glove.
To the dandelions called a weed,
Who may get what they want,
But not what they need.
Here’s to the fools who desire.
For a better world, some inner peace,
And more hearts afire.
Those who just want to know what’s true.
I don’t think they’re stupid to try;
Do you?
Here’s to the fools who dream.
Who believe that goodness
Is more alive than it seems.
The ones who trust in some greater plan,
Those who leave a legacy
Because they believe they can.
We reach and cry but will still be kind,
From oceans below to skies above.
All in a quest to simply find
Another one of the fools who loves.

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Posted in Personals

Daily Prompt: Argument (or, accidental Dear Journal…)

I am, by nature, not a confrontational person. I never talk about politics or religion in public forums (and that includes social media). Why? Well, part of it is because my group of friends is so polarized that anything I say will upset half of them. I like to refer to my stance as “Switzerland.” The only thing I do reveal on a regular basis is my belief in God. But my lips are wholly sealed.

The other half of it is that I simply hate to argue. I don’t like discord; it makes me anxious and upset. I wish everyone could just live harmoniously. Because I know it can be done, if only we all recognized our common humanity. We all, at our cores, want the same things. Does this train of thought make me naive? I don’t know. Maybe. But I prefer to believe that it is a special part of my personality- it’s just another way I filter the world. Unfortunately, such a lens (ironically) sometimes ends up creating strain between my family members and me. They have a very different outlook on things. Of course we fight about it, and of course it’s to no avail. I don’t let it bother me anymore.

On a lighter note, I am really looking forward to Lady Gaga’s new album, Joanne. What I’ve heard from it so far is already better than 3/4 of Artpop. Do you know where this new title comes from? It’s her real name! Gaga has said that this new CD will represent a turning point for her; she’s stripping down the theatrics and gaudiness in favor of a truer self. At least, that’s what I got from her statement. In my opinion, it’s beautiful, and something I occasionally need to be reminded of. Particularly during those moments of argument. As Shakespeare wrote: “To thine own self be true.”

I leave you with this little factoid, my dear readers…the “Azura dance” songs from Fire Emblem Fates have been stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, Nintendo.

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