Only a short, simple book, a potted look at Psychoanalysis, I really enjoyed “The Examined Life”.
I’ve never really understood before the benefit of using metaphor to help with mental illness, but it was also really interesting to see into the mind of a mental health practitioner and the way they approach helping their patients.
I would read this again and recommend it to anyone interested in mental health.
Beautifully shot and practically silent, just like Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s films are really interesting in terms of their moral compass.
In spite of the fact that this film was horrifically violent, at the end of it the two protagonists (guys on opposite sides - one a Thai police man and the other an ex-pat drug dealer, played by Gosling) who have very violent tendencies but are ultimately “good” and see the good in one another don’t kill each other, don’t try to, leave each other alone in mutual understanding even as their lives are intertwined and their worlds are crumbling around them
What does this mean? Did it demonstrate the fact that horrific revenge is necessary only up to a point and that the men who understood this were the ones who stayed alive? Did it show that the Police are the same in their understanding of revenge as thugs? It got me thinking, whatever it meant. The set up behind the violence of this film was different, engaging, thoughtful, which is what makes it a film worth watching.
Women by Charles Bukowksi
This is prescribed by “The Novel Cure: A-Z” as a book to put you off thinking too much about sex if you’re a woman. The semi-autobiographical premise of Bukowski’s book (the first of his I’ve read) is that poet Henry Chinaski is a drunk chubby old man addicted to sex with women who ultimately fall in love with him and have their hearts broken by his obsessive drinking, betting and shagging. It didn’t put me off sex, it was just a sad book which was boring in it’s repetitiveness (much like Chinaski’s life) with moments of cynical clarity on Love.
One of my favourite lines was that Love is like “psychic overload”, “like trying to carry a full garbage can on your back over a rushing river of piss”. But the book did end positively with him deciding not to drink and thinking “this time I’ll change” (despite the fact this sentiment had occurred a few times before in the novel… To have hope for Henry Chinaski or not?
We got this movie through LoveFilm titled ‘Bound’, but on the internet it’s called ‘The Power of Few’, which makes way more sense.
I wanted to find a video of the amazing section of Tione Johnson, AKA Few (great name), talking about karma, pain, suffering and biting the inside of your cheek. “You wish to god it didn’t happen, but it did”.
A film about how the purity of a child can be the saving grace for many in a horrible world, with moments of weirdness and comedy thrown in between. A kooky but cool film!
Prescribed by The Novel Cure as ‘A Book to Read in your twenties’, and at nearly 500 pages the longest novel I’d read in a while, I now can’t wait to read Tartt’s latest release, The Goldfinch.
In The Secret History, Tartt seems to explore the both people’s capacity to love and the cruelness of the human condition in such an insightful way - the two are always so tangled together - using a University Campus as the epi-centre of her story.
This makes perfect sense to me. My show for Roundhouse Radio this weekend is on ‘protest’, and although I’ve never been remotely politically active myself, I started to think about how much more I cared about the world, the way I was in it, the way other people were in the world, than I do now, 18 months later. From experience I also know that during your university years it’s very likely your sense of self and your environment begin to crumble away and for you to be left anxious, depressed and thinking too much about how terrible everything is.
Tartt captures these deep intense feelings, all whilst managing to trickle information about the central plot very slowly. We feel sometimes just as isolated as the protagonist Richard Papen, yet like him, this only increases our desire to carry on reading, to find out more.
Brilliantly, the novel felt so “of our time”, yet many of the sentiments explored were framed in reference to Greek or Roman philosophers, making us see that in essence, we haven’t changed as much over thousands of years as we think we have.
This book reminded me why I love to read! I hate to say it, but I think it would also make a great film…
Just like Mark O’Rowe and Rufus Norris stepping out of their usual roles in Broken, Clooney and Affleck cooked up a cracker with Argo. I had no idea what it was going to be about so the genre-bending nature of it had me hooked. High octane political thriller and LA comedy shouldn’t mix, but in Argo they do. One of the best films I’d seen in ages (way behind the times, obviously!)
NB: Not on my bibliotherapy list.
The first chapters hit the nail on the head, so frankly written, full of humour and insight. As the story wore on the characters were still captured beautifully, and the writing style was so enjoyable I tore through it, but the ending came too quickly.
It would have been better suited as a short story - because ‘the uncoupling’ itself was left unexplained, it didn’t have any deeper significance to the community other than that it came as a result of the school play, Lysistrata (the Greek drama about women going on a sex strike in an attempt to end the Trojan War). A little unfulfilling, but I’d still happily read her other books…!
In this film debut from Rufus Norris and Mark O’Rowe, all the drama is provided by three houses at the end of a cul-de-sac, a microcosm of society that could just as well be transposed onto a theatre production. The time-span is similarly play-like, spanning a few weeks, using creative flashbacks/forwards and dream sequences to provided momentary release from the ever building tension.
Each of the three families intertwine, building to a horrific climax, but there is no enlightenment/preaching as to what a good family should be - each ‘broken’ in their own way. The ensemble cast (including Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy) are great. A typically dark British film, a la Tyrannosaur (which was one of the trailers before the film started, just to ram the point home).
For Christmas I asked to receive ‘The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies’ by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, teachers of Bibliotherapy at Alain de Botton’s ‘School of Life’. In the hope of reading more ‘successfully’ in 2014 (whatever that means), I promptly drew myself up a reading list according to the maladies explored in the book which I went through and prescribed myself.
The first of my weaknesses I decided to tackle was ‘low self-esteem’, which meant I Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News was the novel I read to tackle my January blues. Anyone who knows the book will know this wasn’t ideal, because it’s all-encompassingly bleak from the off. The characters have wonderful, colourful names - Quoyle, Bunny, Sunshine, Agnis Hamm - but my reading of this book was long and laboured, just like the character’s lives once they relocate from New York to Newfoundland.
The reading experience started a conversation with my Dad on a dog walk which we’ve had before in different guises about how maybe you can only truly be happy when you have nothing, when you learn what it is that makes you feel alive, content, from scratch - which is of course impossible, even undesirable, in today’s society. The ending of The Shipping News was hopeful, with the message that life is like a bag of sweets - some will be bitter and others delicious, but that in learning to live simply and appreciate small mercies, miracles can happen. In New York, Quoyle is a useless giant, exploited and abused by everyone around him, as well as incompetent at his job. Yet, with the very same job in Newfoundland, a totally different environment, he manages to thrive. Living with pain is another large part of the narrative, forgiving yourself and others for their faults being beneficial traits to master.
Despite it’s seemingly desperate mood, it was an inspiring novel to read in the most depressing month of the year, when we usually put unrealistic expectations on ourselves for the year ahead. Of course there will be disappointment along the way, but by embracing and accepting our misfortunes, we may learn more about ourselves than if we had a completely easy ride. It didn’t make me change the way I think about myself, but The Shipping News definitely made me contemplate modern life and the way I perceive it, which I’d say is a success!