Saturday, March 24

Deciphering the Tree of Codes

I Googled Jonathan Safran Foer today.  I don't exactly know what I was looking for.  Maybe a new twinkle light of possibility. 

What I found blew me away.  How had I missed it?  Under "Novels", beside those two greats, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, quietly sat Tree of Codes.  I frantically clicked on the link.   

Bruno Schulz' book, The Street of Crocodiles, a 1934 collection of short stories, is Jonathan Safran Foer's favourite book.  (Seems like already we have something to read!)  Taking this book, he cut out words and passages to create from the remaining phrases an entirely new story.  It is a sculpture of writing.

Every publisher dear Jonathan approached turned him down with claims that "the book you want to make cannot be made".  Reading that, I felt so sad.  A beautiful, beautiful idea, deemed an impossibility - made a possibility by a little publishing house in Belgium.  

Now, booklovers, just to icing-powder your sugar-rushed pounding hearts, here is a little video on the process of making the book itself.  This process, presented so lovingly, seems like such a beautiful, authentic thing.  I really hope you enjoy it.  

Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer: Making Of from Visual Editions on Vimeo.

Immediately and madly in love at first sight, I tried to order it from the Book Depository, but it seems they are out of stock.  However, Amazon and Angus & Robertson definitely do stock copies.  Even without the sweetness of this idea, I am excited by the fact that there is something by Jonathan Safran Foer left to read!  

The little twinkle light I was unconsciously searching for when I jumped on Google this afternoon, I found.  He has set a new level of possibility for me as a writer, a reader, and a person.

For a interview with Jonathan on this topic follow the link:
It is very worthwhile reading.  His answers to the questions really epitomise for me what it is to be a reader and a writer.  He is so incredibly human.  I feel like he speaks for me, expressing the true beauty and humanity of the book.  

Thursday, March 22

The Spiced and Amorous Gale

I'm horrible aware I've been neglectful, but I come bearing the gift of Virginia Woolf.

He sighed profoundly, and flung himself - there was a passion in his movements which deserves the word - on the earth at the foot of the oak tree.  He loved, beneath all this summer transiency, to feel the earth's spine beneath him; for such he took the hard root of the oak tree to be; or, for image followed image, it was the back of a great horse that he was riding; or the deck of a tumbling ship - it was anything indeed, so long as it was hard, for felt the need of something which he could attach his floating heart to; the heart that tugged at his side; the heart that seemed filled with spiced and amorous gales every evening about this time when he walked out.  The the oak tree he tied it and as he lay there, gradually the flutter in and about him stilled itself; the little leaves hung, the deer stopped; the pale summer clouds stayed; his limbs grew heavy on the ground' and he lay so still that by degrees the deer stepped nearer and rooks wheeled round him and the swallows dipped and circled and the dragonflies shot past as if all the fertility and amorous activity of a summer's evening were woven web-like about his body.

Orlando, Chapter One, by Virginia Woolf, first published 1928.

It is so difficult to type out of a little paperback book, wedging the stiff pages open with the fluffy head of Dalloway my Golden Retriever puppet.

I just picked up this book for the first time yesterday (a Christmas present from two years back) which I hadn't been in a Virginia Woolf mood enough to read yet.  But when I started, I just so enjoyed the flow of her writing, that I followed it downstream a while, and trickled into this beautiful excerpt.  

There are several bits in this passage that I adore.  I love the idea of "the spine of the earth".  It's just a phrase, kind of like "a storm in a teacup" that makes my head whirr with images.  I thought of roots, yes, and also mountain ranges and red earth.  It's such a heady, earthy phrase.  I also love that his heart floated on a spiced and amorous gale.  That phrase is just so exotic.  It's quite Fitzgeraldesque, really, because it's so atmospheric.  It makes me think of this tea store, where there are little white ramekins full of different teas - Turkish apple tea, oriental rose, spices that you've never heard of but make you dream in smells.  

It was just so refreshing to find this joy in my reading.  

Thursday, March 15

Ten Metres Worth of Mistakes

I must apologize for not blogging much, but with so much school work and so little reading, there isn't much inspiration for a blog post.  (Would you believe me if I told you that Google Chrome is spell-checking this post, and it automatically changed "blog" to "glob".  Like "glob" is a more real word?!!!  What is this?) 

So instead I will do something like an update and reflection.

Well, the process of auditioning for the school musical this year, The Great Australian Rock Musical, have been ongoing the last three weeks or so, so it was a great delight to finally see the cast list, yesterday.  A lot of my closest friends, as well as my brother, also auditioned, and we all went to read the list together.  It was the most glorious thing!  I felt like that was what being at highschool was really, truly, all about - jumping up and down in a group hug, screaming, because we made the lead roles.  Yes, in true Kath and Kim style, we will 90s Australian swagger our way through four months of intensive rehearsals, nasal accents, choreography, and lines.  I can only hope that we make it out alive!

I also finished a thing of tape whiteout - you know the one the flakes frustratingly in wrinkles when you try to spread it straight?  When I finished it, I pulled it apart, and unwound the finished tape out.  There was about ten metres of it, when I spread it out, and it made me think.  In eight weeks of school, I have made ten metres worth of mistakes.  That was definitely a thought that threw me.  

Anyhow, I will hopefully be getting more time for reading, and consequently, blogging in the next week or so.  I assure you, that when I do catch a glimpse at The Slippery Slope by the dear Lemony Snicket, it is so exciting and suspenseful now at the pointy end that I can hardly bear to rip my eyes away and resume graphing linear equations in my grid book.  Ay, there's the rub.

Wednesday, March 7

Bouquets Turns One!

One year is a long time.  Remember my first post?  That night I sat up late after my brother and sister were in bed.  It was a school night, mid term.  What was I thinking?  What was I feeling?  I was frustrated I couldn't word my thoughts quite as elegantly as I had imagined I would.  So I started to sum up my hopes, instead. 

Everyone says that the first blog is the hardest. Of course it is. The key, they say, is to state all the things that I aim to achieve through the publishing of a blog. Well, I reply, I would like people to get to know me better.

THEY: Yes, what else?

ME: Oh, also, I would like to encourage people to read classic literature.

THEY: Indeed, that's a good one; is there anything else?

ME: Well yes, I would like to journey through the books I read and share with people the things that deeply delight me.

THEY: Genius! Now put it into words.

Here lies my dilemma. I could wrack my brains for creativity that is finally and frankly not home at the moment, or I could present the situation to you in exactly the light it has occurred to me. There you go. Here is the first oppertunity for me to lie to you, but in all honesty, my dears, I'll start being creative tomorrow. Tonight, I'm just bothered with beginning.

So shall we?
How much of that have I achieved?  Any at all? 

Since that night three hundred and sixty-six days ago, we have:
  • Been romanced by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Savoured the flavours of France with Julia Child,
  • Suffered the stains of George Orwell and the cuttlefish, 
  • Taken two job interviews,
  • Turned into true patriots, 
  • Been bored and bothered in turns by the Woman in White,
  • Technicolour yawned all over English assignments,
  • Bid the Void 'goodnight' with our most vulnerable thoughts,
  • Buttered the sky,
  • Read poetry to the symphony orchestra,
  • Been as cool as cucumbers,
  • Red Leaped into The Arrival,
  • Opened the sesame,
  • Sung odes to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in my Armpit One Midsummer Morning,
  • Failed to panic even though the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything was horribly unsatisfying,
  • Quested to Mount Doom with the wonderful Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee,
  • Fought for the humans in the War of the Worlds,
  • Captured Every Minute with ABBA while enjoying the finer pleasures of sobbing like a girl,
  • Caught a Storm in a Teacup,
  • Put Sherlock Holmes in a 'Whopping Big Nutshell'
  • Daydreamed about a perfect Anne Shirley moment,
  • Discovered the beauty of true friends,
  • Spent forty hours blind,
  • Shamelessly skinny-dipped,
  • Experienced the revelation of mortality with Dorian Gray,
  • Wandered in a Woody Allen World,
  • Fully learnt that life is actually too short to read anything you don't enjoy,
  • Became more human with James Herriot,
  • Wondered over words,
  • Got Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close with ourselves,
  • Eaten Animals,
  • Counselled neurotic elevators,
  • Learnt to read and write in a language invented by J. R. R. Tolkein,
  • Written with calligraphy pens,
  • and lastly, baked a blog a birthday cake.
Two hundred and ninety-two posts.  Have I encouraged people to read classic literature?  Have I journeyed through books and shared with people the things that deeply delight me? 

I have.  But I have also proved that I am still growing.  Actually, now that I say that, I think that that is what the moral of this blog is.  I'm still growing.  I will always love books, but as we keep on sharing and delving and loving and feeling, we'll keep growing, and with that comes the fact that we'll be changing, too, becoming, if not better humans, more human. 

When I first started, I thought that it would be nice to refer to you affectionately as "my dears".  I wonder now if it was a prop to make me feel more comfortable, more a part of something.  I see now that I was already a part of something.  A part of my life.  And I can't thank you enough for being a part of my life, too.  You've made it less of a Void. 

James M. Barrie, that beautiful man who wrote Peter Pan, said

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.
Tonight, I look back and compare.  This blog hasn't been the door to oppertunity, but it has been the window.  Leaning out as far as I can on tiptoes, I can almost see blurred in the distance my very image, at the kitchen table, stressing about how to begin. 

Happy Birthday Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils.  My birthday wish is that this is just the first paige of a beautiful story.

Shall we continue?

Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils Birthday Cake
Happy Birthday Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils

Monday, March 5

Deja Vu

I finished reading A Game of Thrones last week, the night before it was due back at the library, as a matter of fact!  I stayed up extra late and just chomped through the last one hundred pages.  Pheweee!  Well, that was one of the most engaging books I have ever read.  I never got bored, and stayed rivetted to the last page.  Somehow, though, it seems that it's taken such a lot out of me that I can't even humour the thought of reading the next one just yet. 

I have instead, embarked on a tangent of Lemony Snickett.  Lemony Snickett, despite all his woe and misfortune, is one of the most brilliant, sensitive and clever writers, for children or otherwise.  I adore his randomness, his tricks, like his deja vu, where you read the first page of Chapter Five once, turn the page and then read the first page of Chapter Five again.  What really motivates me, other than, of course, the heart-melting endearment the Baudelaires have for me, is the little references he sneaks in, to his own story.  I hope, and please don't tell me either way, that I eventually discover what his secret is.  But never have I been so intrigued by the author behind a story! 

I finished reading A Game of Thrones last week, the night before it was due back at the library, as a matter of fact! I stayed up extra late and just chomped through the last one hundred pages. Pheweee! Well, that was one of the most engaging books I have ever read. I never got bored, and stayed rivetted to the last page. Somehow, though, it seems that it's taken such a lot out of me that I can't even humour the thought of reading the next one just yet.

Trippy hey?

Saturday, March 3

The Writing Artform

I recently ordered a nib holder and a set of five calligraphy nibs and yesterday, they came!  I hopped up and started trying them out straight away.  The nib slots into the end of the nib holder and is fastened in tight when you pull down a little lever.  Then a dip into an ink pot of Speedball's Super Black India Ink and then off I went. 

I never imagined what it would sound like to use a real paper-thin silver writing nib.  I suppose I never really imagined that it would sound like anything in particular.  It is remarkably scratchy.  Think of a really rough, scratchy pencil and then make the sound shriller and more metallic.  It sounds something like that.  

I've been enjoying the experimentation of line.  Tilting more this side or another, pressing harder, hardly pressing at all, to create different thicknesses.  When I was waiting for my items to come, I was so excited by the possibilities... the Idea of writing with a real ink pen.  Yes, back to that idea of loving the Idea of things.  

I was excited by the thought that it would open up new oppertunities for my writing.  That through the process of writing more slowly and thoughtfully, in fact, artfully, I would be able to get in touch with a new side of my writing.  So far, I'm not too sure whether that will ever happen, but at least I can enjoy learning a new artform.    

Thursday, March 1

Heads Up!

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month.  I didn't realise it was so close, but Bouquets of Sharpened Pencils turns one year old next Wednesday, the 7th of March!  So it's time for me to put on my thinking cap and come up with some ideas for a special birthday cake.  Watch out for the birthday celebrations!