Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Heart of Me

In times of melancholy and nostalgia, I seek solace in the poetry of Dorothy Parker. It makes me wonder what made her have her shirts altered so she could wear her heart on her sleeve, and who broke her heart so that she wore it like a wet, red stain on the breast of a velvet gown.

“Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed.

And you laugh back, nor can you ever see

The thousand little deaths my heart has died”

Speaking of her loved one, she says: “But, oh, to have you down the lane is bitter to my heart”.

There we see it, the heart, the cradle of our “elan vital”, our life force, the tombstone on which all our aches are engraved.

And with that heart, comes the “oh”, the “oh” that carries the collective sigh of mankind, the “oh” that breaks your heart and exposes it for all to see, the inescapable “oh”.

“O”… the Scarlett Letter.

The “oh” that makes me understand you, a universal “oh” that might transcend language. An “oh” that leaves your lips in an open round shape while all else is shattering and closing down.

On sunday, I watched an experimental play called “In the Heart of the Heart of Another Body”, directed by Nagy Souraty. In it, we saw humans as hearts, contracting then releasing, spasming and dying, screaming and laughing. Hearts trying to live, struggling, hearts that are so fragile that they are made of glass and are hung for display. Hearts that get lost between the masses, hearts that sing old Arabic love songs which bring to memory times before your own. “The heart is a velvet-winged atomic bomb” said one character. “The heart is this milky way that runs from my mouth”, said another.

O heart! The very organ that makes Spanish songs sound sadder, that makes Dalida immortal in her rendition of “Avec le Temps”… parce que, avec le temps, on n’aime plus…

It rains and the heart overflows, it drowns, and you cry for each drop of rain that is born, grows and then dies when it reaches the ground with a silent crash… the birth of a tragedy, a human life in a raindrop, the inevitability of death that comes with life.

The thunder claps and your heart splits open, “fendu”, like a ripe fruit ready to be devoured, it opens itself for you.

The rain grows lighter and less violent, and the heart releases a sigh of relief, the heart exhales and settles back in its place to wait for the final moments of the storm to pass. It is an animal that goes into hiding for it knows that it will soon die. And somewhere along the way, the heart can no longer be a Phoenix, it can no longer dust the ashes and rise again. So it will remain, covered in soot and broken dreams, extinguished desires and dust. The heart will be dead.


Hamlet, Drop the Mirror!

Reporting live from my own bed, it is 4:20am and I… I am not asleep.

I have a Shakespeare class in 5 hours and 40 minutes, I have to start my day in 4 hours and 10 minutes… which approximately gives me 4 hours and 10 minutes… an ample time indeed, to fail to fall asleep.

I have just finished reading a Japanese Manga version of Hamlet (a Japanese-style comic). It is a very convenient way of reading Shakespeare for the comic manages to keep the main lines spoken in the play and rids itself of the rest in favor of drawings. Which leads me to one question: where was this book when I needed a reliable summary while studying for my midterm?

Hamlet concocts (yes, it is the word of the day) an elaborate play that would “catch the conscience of the king.” In other words, he is staging a play that will prove that indeed, it was his uncle that killed his father. Hamlet adds that by doing so, he will be holding up a mirror to nature. The play, this work of art, will “copy” life. Here we have an implied metaphor, in fact, it is so implied that I might be wrong. 😛

Art is a mirror.

If we hold this metaphor to be true, does it mean that we all own melting clocks, we are all waiting next to a tree for a man who never shows up and… are we all Dancing Queens, only seventeen?!!

If art does indeed hold a mirror up to nature… we’ve got ourselves a bit of a situation here. If it truly does, then I’m waiting for my own handsome vampire and werewolf… any minute now.

Why would I need a mirror reflecting what I experience on a daily basis? It’s like having a constant reminder that I’m having a bad hair day! If anything, I’ll pull off a Dorian Gray and cover my portrait until further notice… or a different hairdo.

I’d like to think of art as funhouse mirrors, you know, those mirrors that make you look extremely fat, or make your face as flat as my failed attempts at pancakes, or ideally… they make you look thin. Art is life under a faulty microscope, one that has been invented by a mad scientist. It is a French cook going nuts trying to figure out the perfect recipe for his new “life bourguignon” dish… while drowning it in red wine. It is me trying to finish this blog post.

In a novel, I’d be able to taste Proust’s Madeleine cookie with a cup of Starbucks coffee, convince Madame Bovary not to kill herself and invite her to watch a healthy dose of Oprah. I’d tell Jonathan Swift’s Houyhnhnms (pronounced “Winems”) to change their name and make our lives considerably easier.

Sure, Hamlet’s cause was a noble one… but he ended up dead.

” God just went ‘click’ “

– In Genesis, “let there be light!”… Could that be a metaphor for the big bang?

– No, God just went ‘click’ (flicks the light switch on)

Robin Williams (also another holder of answers to life’s questions) couldn’t have said it better. Well he could have, but then where would the fun be in linking it to what I want to say?

I remember countless sentences that start with “life is…”. On a bad day, life’s a bitch. On a good one, it’s heaven. Rascal Flatts: “life is a highway”. A slight yet much more significant alteration: “The world is a stage”, by the father of drama that makes us all other little dramatists want to curl up in bed and suffer a horrible literary death by dry pen and blank paper! In case the incredible inferiority complex did not give it away, it’s Shakespeare and it’s from his play “As You Like It”.

So basically, what we are looking at here are metaphors, and in this blog, I will (among other things) study these metaphors. Wait, I will not STUDY them *imagines flocks of potential readers fleeing at the mere sight of this word*, I will… COMMENT! Ah yes, a much safer word, a word we relate to beauty contests, to facebook statuses, to what my mother gives me concerning my outfit before I’m off to university… you know, all that is good in this world.

 “Metaphorology”… the “comment” (we’re not using the OTHER word) of metaphors, which would make me the commentator.

 Life is one big metaphor with an ever-changing source.

Some people get it and then the world, life itself is one big work of literature. Every day is a poem, each hour is a short story and we go through it skipping on stanzas and verses, missing some but catching most. One day can have a “Pride and Prejudice” feel to it, a week can feel frighteningly Kafka-esque, an entire year can be an Odyssey…

 While others, they just hear that ‘click’.

Post-midnight Snack and Blog

It is rather intimidating to start a blog. I directly imagine the generations to come, what I will leave to prosperity, what my family would think if they look through it… all the necessary obstacles that make me want to get back into bed and continue reading “Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter” by Mario Vargas Llosa, my assigned book for the Latin American Literature course I am taking.

However, the little megalomaniac in me perseveres. I just finished watching “Julie and Julia” and realized that I absolutely have to start my own blog… I also realized that it will not be related to cooking.

I just finished eating my usual post-midnight snack, Cadbury – Dairy Milk (whole nut, of course) and 7up… quite a ritualistic habit I’ve developed and am most likely to keep – when I decided that there shall be a blog! I have watched too many movies, read too many books, listened to too many songs and written too little… it is indeed time for a blog.

The next step is obviously much harder. What will my blog be about? I am from Beirut, Lebanon, but will not be writing about politics… is it due to a complete and sincere utter lack of interest in and not to mention lack of knowledge about the subject matter? Yes. Is it because, as Lebanese people, we are taught that someday, somehow, the government has a way of finding out what you’ve said about it? Yes. 

Will it be about my struggle to get a BA in English Literature plus a teaching diploma from Haigazian, a tiny Armenian American university (mind you, I’m neither American nor Armenian)? Probably not.

Will I be doing a post-colonial reading of my own writing? How is it that a french educated Lebanese person decides to write in English? Let’s not go there.

Will I be talking about my daily taxi (which we here call “service”, and can have more than one occupant at a time, each going to a different destination) rides on the way to and back from university and suddenly decide to quote Mark Twain and declare that these are the best of times, these are the worst of times? Sadly, yes.

Will I admit that I believe that answers to most of life’s questions lie in Dr Seuss books (and sometimes in the complete series of “Sex and the City”)? Again… sadly, yes.

In any case… I haven’t made up my mind yet.

Until then…

Dramatically yours,

Dima M.