Essays in love, by Alain de Botton

About a guy and his book.

From what I have read and seen of Alain de Botton, he is a very cool dude. I like the way he reasons around life, love, work and religion. The fact that he was only 23 years old when he wrote and published Essays in Love kind of makes me think of him as outstanding, truth be told.

The book is an easy and funny read, yet there is enough depth to make me think Alain is one of the chosen ones. He has the answers. Especially now that he has doubled in age. By now he must have oh so many answers. He could be the new Messiah. But from what I understand he is an atheist, so I guess that’s not very likely. Though much like me, he believes in holding on to spirituality and rituals. That we need faith in our lives, but we do not necessarily need to attach that practice with a particular god, goddess or other higher beings. Sometimes it’s just good to have a community or a sense of hope that we are all in it together.

“Do we not fall in love partly out of a momentarily will to suspend seeing through people, even at the cost of blinding ourselves a little in the process? If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone?”

Alain has also started The School of Life – devoted to develop emotional intelligence. It’s very easily available, just follow in your preferred digital channel to reach new heights in life. Or buy one of their games, or take a course.*

Well, back to the book. Essays in Love takes you on a journey of a relationship. Chloe and the “I” sit next to each other on a plane, start talking, and that’s how it all begins. It becomes a crush that develops into something more and the reader gets to tag along for the roller coaster ride that is love.  From romantic fatalism to psycho-fatalism, the subtext of seduction to love or liberalism, speaking love, romantic terrorism, and the fear of happiness.

“Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone there who can understand what we are saying, in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.”

This is a book with plenty of “yeah, I know that one” moments. And best of all, it is one of those books that makes you stop pause and think every now and then. Because you want to figure out what that scenario or concept means to you. The story brings out more than just some chill moments of reading-pleasure. It makes you think about love, and how you experience it. How absolutely magically wonderful it can be, just as well as dreadfully painful. It definitely made me reflect upon how I deal with the sweet transcendence that is love.

2017-04-24 essays in love
Gotta love how the lady on the back of the book stands up, then as you take this book out of a shelf and turn it around to see the cover page, the lady is sitting down reading. Exactly what you want to be doing yourself with this book in hand.

 

*I am not sponsored by Alain or the School of Life. I take no responsibility whatsoever for your emotional development.

 

A walk on New Year’s eve

About books and dreams for the new year

It was New Year’s Eve around that time in the afternoon when it starts to get dark, and though it wasn’t snowing it was freezing cold. They had decided to do the enchanted midnight walk ahead of time as both felt the roaring crowds hungry for fireworks might be a little too overwhelming.

Zigzagging between bouncers calling out menu specials, occasionally stopping to admire some colourful graffiti, they made their way through one of London’s nicer hipster neighbourhood. Hopes for 2017 were tried out loud in words, and 2016 was gently closed down by wrapping up memories, as they discussed what had been and what was to come.

At the end of the main street a small bookshop made the brave promise to stay open until 6pm all days of the year. With 15 minutes to go they entered for a quick look and perhaps some inspiration. What better way to celebrate a new year than by acquiring the promise of new worlds, adventures and experiences! A quick glance quickly turned into a dozen or so books.

Her friend had read modern classics for as long as she could remember and she herself was prone to authors that promised philosophical ideas or stories that unfold in slow motion. Because they had been friends since the beginning of time they also knew of each other’s guilty pleasures. One read harlequin novels and the other was constantly improving herself with self-help books. But this was not a shop one left with rosy cheeks. This was the type of bookshop one wanted to live in.

She thought to herself, as she had done so many times before, that working in a bookshop must be the most wonderful of all jobs. She had always idealised the romantic idea of starting up a small café, maybe set up a tiny bed & breakfast, or best of all; run a small bookshop that smelled of paper and where customers sometimes brought sweets for the dog (her dog) that always hung out at the premises.

6pm and the background music is turned off as a simple yet powerful message to those that kept picking books up for inspection. Upon paying for her books the young man behind the counter, perfectly hipster shaped and excited to leave 2016 behind, complemented her choices with “Excellent selection, and well done in such a short time!”. She thanked her newfound book-sibling and smiled about the instant feeling of comradery one gets with people that likes the same books as oneself.

As they walked back home she pondered upon the power of books. Isn’t it remarkable how books bring people together? She thought about the Tinder profile she had swiped right a few months ago. The one who in his presentation had expressed a curiosity for words. How they had shared favourite authors before asking each other what they do for a living. How they now were talking about reading books together, in a tiny book circle for two. She glanced down at her bag of books and felt her heart flutter. 2017 would be an exciting year!

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This song of freedom

About starting up Christmas

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born; O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

It is when Nat King Cole start singing A thrill of hope… that I lose focus on the world around me. I put down what I have in my hands and turn my attention to his voice, and to how my body responds to what it’s hearing. Nat is singing about that feeling, the moment of insight, that I or we, will be making it. When letting go of that which keeps us bound, suddenly seem doable. When what was once out of reach has come closer and maybe, obtainable. That tiny and immensely powerful tipping point which takes me into and on to action. You know that split second before you jump, when you realize that you can chose to jump. And there you go. Hope. Belief.

Then Nat brings in the choir for Fall on your knees… and that is what I do. I surrender. The music carries enough to make me believe. For a couple of minutes I close my eyes, let the old Christmas carol wash over me and all I feel is love and connection. This is a message of kindness and about seeing the light within us all. It is absolutely about hope, and faith in the goodness of humankind.

I don’t want to let the song go, so I listen to other artists’ version of the song. O Holy Night repeat itself a dozen times in different genres, with different voices and in different languages.

I realize the song is about redemption. Or as Bob Marley beautifully put it; a song of freedom. When we chose to see ourselves in others, when we can emphasize, and also let others see our own light. When we dare to be all that we could possibly be. Then what we get is redemption. What we have and what we create is freedom. Do you know the worth of your soul?

Advent atmosphere joyfully provided by Starfish Design.

Boktips: Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt
Siri Hustvedt

Siri Hustvedt är min favorit författare. Hon skriver böcker som jag vill klistra upp över alla mina speglar. I hennes värld hittar jag både mig själv och nya djup i de universum jag lever i. Hon har en enastående förmåga att med kärlek beskriva livets tristess, smärtor och enkelhet i lager av komplexa resonemang, symbolism och konkreta fakta i poetiska formuleringar. Hon har knäckt livets kod. Allt det vackra i det lilla är det stora. Hennes texter är utmanande och informerande. Hon får mig att bli en bättre människa. Hon får mig att känna mig värdefull.

Hustvedt skriver också böcker som kan kännas som klister att ta sig igenom. Som The Blazing world (2014) [Svensk översättning: Den lysande världen]. Det tog mig ett par månader att läsa de första 200 sidorna, att ta mig igenom första halvan av boken. Igår läste jag resten. Igår ville jag älska med någon som kan viska dikter under täcket, dricka tårar till frukost, och diskutera feminism tills rödvinet fläckar tapeterna.

Som hörs i hennes namn, är Hustvedt en författare med rötter i Norge, men hon är Amerikanska uppväxt i Minnesota och bor nu på den plats i världen som kanske är det närmsta himlen jag kan tänka mig, Brooklyn. Hennes böcker har ofta små kopplingar till Skandinavien, eller skandinaviska språk. Det blir för mig guldkorn som tar mig ännu närmare den här kvinnan som jag upplever är en av dem i min klan som går främst i ledet.

The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt

Hustvedt är mest känd för What I loved (2003) [Svensk översättning: Vad jag älskade] som jag tycker man kan läsa på svenska utan att tappa för mycket innehåll, och The summer without men (2011) [Svensk översättning: Sommaren utan män], som nog är hennes mest lättillgängliga bok och en bok jag tycker man ska läsa på originalspråket engelska.