Dare to be inspired by fearless storytelling

Posts by: Anita B Krišto


Inspired by #13

Changing of the seasons This one woman that I know, turned fifty. In the middle of a rather bleak and rainy December, she rushed from work to a restaurant, expecting to meet up with her trustworthy musketeers, for a quiet celebration. But she was met by something quite different, a band of some nutty sisters and brothers from way back when, the kind of friends from times that might, or might not be, more or less hazy for some and less so by others. The woman was taken by surprise, could not have imagined so many chose to spend the evening celebrating her. But we did. She was given many gifts. One of them was Winter. She took it in her hand, intrigued, and saved it for a later read. And when she found a sliver of free time in space, she was blown away, by the first sentence, paragraph, and so on. The sheer beauty of the language. Spectacular. And now. Summer has finally arrived. Or rather, it arrived this past summer, the summer we all hunkered down, trying to make sense of an abrupt change of our way of life and potentially life expectancy, and a fear for the unknown, that rattled us all to the bone. But I abstained from reading it until I got me some peace of mind, which apparently have been a challenge in these times of corona. So, I read Summer in the autumn month of October. Also, I wanted a moment in time to last, that moment in time when I could still look forward to reading Summer, the final part of Ali Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. Now I have completed the expedition I was invited to be part of. And Ali Smith’s awesome accomplishment has truly left me more or less...

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Inspired by #12

Mockingbird tells the truth By some (alright, maybe close to millions) deemed an epic story – albeit with the initial appearance of being as a nostalgic, maybe fictional, childhood memoir – it still took me years before I considered investing time to explore To Kill a Mockingbird (i.e. not simply skimming through it). I am not one to go get me a book, just because it sold some 30 000 000 copies. If anything, I probably would shy away from it. Not until finding out the story had made it to Broadway last year, did I search through my book-shelves, like the maniac I usually am when looking for something I know definitely is there, just not where. (Do you really expect me to order all the books I got according to some alphabetical order? Really? Let me spell it out: I am not that person). I found my yellowed copy of To Kill a Mockingbird months later, when, due to a serious writer’s block (the never-ending one), I embarked on a project re-arranging my modest “library”, moving all books around, until I found an acceptable system. Still not alphabetical. For obvious reasons. I’m rambling. As per usual. To be clear: It is advised taking the time reading Mockingbird, or else one might miss out on some of its more subtle aspects. If you have the inclination or ability, I would suggest you read an English edition, as some of the language dynamic and feel might be lost in translation, especially with regards to understanding how effectively (but not fairly), the American modes of speak, at the time, could define a person, and thus determined her destiny (and, I guess, nothing has really changed, in principle). Apparently, Truman Capote knew this one “rare” storyteller Harper Lee, who penned a...

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Inspired by #11

vivunt spe Intelligence. How to measure it. How to identify it. That is the question. I have come to believe currently applied modes of measuring this elusive aspect of our minds, ourselves, our bodies may, in many ways, be seriously flawed. For one, I am quite doubtful of current definitions (don’t expect me to give any examples) of the concept intelligence. And if it cannot be defined, how is it possible to determine how to measure it? Please explain, if you can. Or not. My thinking is that, wherever “intelligence” is being kept, hidden, guarded, it is meant to be so, as it is continuously evolving and also affected by circumstances and factors we cannot begin to comprehend. If I were to describe Spring, the third of Ali Smith’s books making up her collection of stories on the turning of the seasons, I would above all express it – along with the other volumes in the collection – as the expression of an intellect that is beyond our comprehension. It is also proof that true intelligence not necessarily requires modes of measuring used by Mensa (so tiresome with all those cognitive ability tests in the form of geometrical figures to fold and fold out, and numerical patterns to identify etc.). Where are the tests that measure the intelligence related to an understanding of the essence of being, of humanity, of the organization of society, of the psychologies that may make or break our present and future existence? I have met many a person deemed to be a genius – that clearly is not. They may be masters at figuring out complex patterns in the blink of an eye – but still not understand the workings of neither the universe nor humankind – or even of themselves. Ali Smith is...

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Inspired by #10

by grace of some god Rarely do I come across literary works where the act of reading is affected by an immense fear of missing out, a fear of reading too fast, a fear of not giving the story in my lap the attention it clearly deserves. But I have come to cherish those stories that require your absolute attention to every detail, every word, no matter how miniscule, every nuance, twist and turn. In this day and age, one might wonder, is it worth it? Is it worth paying attention to stories that demand more of you than you’re used to? Well, I guess it depends on whether you welcome a challenge or not, and whether you are prepared to read something that might challenge everything you ever knew about yourself and humankind. Reading anything by Marilynne Robinson, I have come to realize, is a mind-blowing experience. I will admit it took some time before I found the will to give it a go, and consider reading her work. Sometimes endorsements of presidents and Nobel-laureates have that effect on my will to consider spending time with a book. For what reason? Well, this is not the time to discuss the merits – or problems – related to the on-going exploitative commercialization of art, so I opt out of explaining. This is rather the time to laud the merits of Ms. Robinson’s extraordinary storytelling. Marilynne Robinson’s work is founded on her utmost attention to the magic of humankind’s existence in this space and time. It is based on her belief in humankind, whatever its shape or form. I also feel it is inspired by humankind’s potential for forgiveness, even in most dire of times. Her writing is above all inspired by a belief in the existence of some kind...

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Inspired by #9

Regarding l’Analphabète Being clear and concise is one of the most challenging principles in writing. But do not mistake this to be a constricting principle, one that prevents the poet from writing poetry that expands your visions or make you week. Neither does it prevent the storyteller from telling stories that take you to places you never imagined you would visit, places where you might meet characters that make you question everything you ever thought was right in this or other worlds. At the moment I write this throw-away blurb, I face the challenge to comment on the shortest – but also most beautiful – of memoirs I’ve ever come across. The challenge lies in my ambition to persuade you to take the time to seek out, and read, this piece of work that might take you less than an hour or so to read. But I fear I will fail to describe this memoir’s merits in an un-clear and un-concise manner. Due to this, I also fear the consequence of you not taking the time to seek out and read this humble piece of literary achievement, conceived by Agota Kristof, who I just learned left us too soon. All I can say is this: Agota Kristof’s memoir is extraordinary not only because of her skilled storytelling, but especially due to its briefness. All we need to know about her life and dreams and struggles and regrets is thoughtfully laid out in a clear and concise manner. Above all her writing is a testament to a moment in time that we seem to have forgotten too soon. I could barely breathe while reading l’Analphabète, simply because I found myself to be in the moment, a silent companion to Agota, every step of the way. And then I wept. Anita...

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Inspired by #8

In the magic and painfully real words of Winter I lack the words that would make Ali Smith’s latest project of the seasons’ justice. I have now finished Winter that I picked up at Daunt books many months ago, but left unread, treating it like the kind of Christmas present one knows is the best of them all, not to be opened until I could no longer. And it is as fantastic as her Autumn. In awe of this writer, I cannot commit to analyzing her style, despite being curious about the tricks of her trade, of which some are quite obvious, other being those of a very skilled magician. She has her own, quite original and unique rules regarding storytelling and magic-making, which only serve the purpose of protecting whatever forces of humanity and empathy left on this planet. Her writing makes me think her presence is due to some divine intervention, as she tries to help us understand the human condition, our weakness as a species, and other challenges we need to address. Whatever her main aim is, I am sure part of it is about making a case for humanity and empathy, and to remind us we can do better. And should do better. Just because we can. Reading Smith is like coming home, even though she might demand a bit more of you than other writers. But she demands nothing of you, instead she inspires you to read slowly, like you did when you were small, and just had figured out the rules of reading, and the point of a story. She allows you to read, and reread a sentence, a passage, just because of the beauty of it. And even if her work appears to be fiction, it is in many ways more real...

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Inspired by #7

Juno, the screenplay extraordinaire With some precious time to spare, I got the opportunity to analyze the lauded film Juno, or rather its screenplay, written by the infamous (or whatever) Diabolo Cody. The film itself is narrated and acted out by the most perfect cast, as well as being the result of very impressive directing. Studying the Juno screenplay reveals the actors’ and director’s work had an exceptionally crafted blueprint as foundation for their work. The reading of it reveals its carefully crafted themes, plots, acts, scenes, and characters. In my mind, this story is a perfect example of a perfect comic tragedy. In most of Hollywood’s past and present films, the “boy meets girl…”-storyline is required whether it is the film’s main or complementary plot. In Juno, this storyline is central, but not the screenplay’s main story (although Juno and Beeker losing their virginity obviously is the starting point for the story’s main plot). This plot serves rather the purpose of realizing the characters Juno and Beeker, in terms of their personalities, psychology and social difference in term of life-opportunities – especially in terms of taking on the world and in what respect they are a driving force or not. The main storyline, however, is about Juno, a minor, getting pregnant, who ends up giving the baby up for adoption to the character Vanessa. Getting there is the focus of the film, and especially the trajectory that carefully leads to the intimate connection between Juno, the birthmother, and Vanessa the adopted, if you will, mother. Since the movie could be interpreted as a pro-choice story, considering Juno opts out of abortion, (which could have got her out of her predicament), it obviously is not. At least I chose to interpret this not being the case. Rather, the screenwriter...

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Inspired by #6

About being lost in Naples Adam constructs Eve, forces her – by definition – to conform to his conditions, and so constricts her movement, development and existence. She is denied the most fundamental of rights, in every possible way. She is denied her the right to become, denied he right to speak, denied the right to feel worthy. She is denied the right to own it, to own herself, her dreams. She is denied her aspirations, a direction. This is what I think the story of Lenù and Lina, being lost in Napoli, and thus the world, is about. It is also a story of abandonment, of vulnerability. It is about the necessary lack of trust in a world which offers no certainty. It is about dealing with a social universe where survival of the fittest is no theory but a fact, as is the fact that the definition of fittest at any given time is re-defined. And it makes the case, I feel, that survival many times could be deemed as over-rated, especially when there is – or never was – anything to live for. I know it is late in the game, there are many other who already have convinced us this epic drama is exceptional, just as many others have made quite insightful analyses of Ferrante’s life’s work, and its meaning. But I have quite unexpectedly been given the (sort of) gift of a significant amount of time to read and write. So, this is the time in my life I got the opportunity to stomp down to the library, where I picked up the Neapolitan Quartet, and made it this week’s mission. Which turned out to be quite a tedious project. This I did not expect: The obvious need to pay attention to every freaking...

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Inspired by #5

Soon after I finish reading any of those accomplishments, there is no solid memory of them left within, no specific words in strings attached remembered. Still, these written pieces of artefacts don’t leave me be, are gotten under my skin, into my heart. And I am changed. Or maybe, I have become. You sneaky one, you who lure us into your universe, that place we’ve never been before, but all belong to. And once we’ve arrived, you’ve no intention to leave us be, only wanting more. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where did you find this singular voice, which seamlessly weaves together echoes from the past with the futility of our present? And when did you allow yourself to let go of all fear? How dare you invite us into our world as you see it? Brave it is, to expose your soul to each and every one of us. We should be so grateful for the opportunity to transcend time and space, and to find truth, with you as their guide. À propos Autumn and there but for the by Ali Smith There is life before. And there is life after. But whatever it was before, a life with no Ali Smith in it is, in some ways, less than lived.   inspired by #5/Anita B Krišto© 2018

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inspired by #4

Our train whines its tracks downwards, and our faces are near-blinded by a glorious, soon to be blood-orange, sun setting into the Mediterranean Sea, just west of the island those Greeks referred to as the île de beauté (in ancient Greek, of course). And just like that, I am struck by my own, insistent commenting of seemingly inspiring things and places passing us by: ‘Look at that village!’. ‘An old station’. ‘Wow. A tunnel’. ’Is this the fifth tunnel? ‘Cute Cow’. ‘Look. Valley’. ‘Oh! Another Cow!’. This commenting reminds me of something. Or somebody. Somebody I just met. Or does it? Then I realize. My spoken-observations are clearly echoing those of a certain Mister Thornberry who, some thirty years ago (or more) ‘spoke what he saw’, according to the world-traveler Mister Theroux. They met on a train in Costa Rica. At one point, Theroux wanted to push  Thornberry off the train they both were on. Why? Well. When Thornberry saw a motorbike, ‘Motorbike’, he said. When Thornberry saw a hut, ‘Hut’, he said. When Thornberry saw a pig, ‘Pig’, he said. And so on. Thornberry saw a cow, ‘Cow’, he said. She saw a cow, ‘Cow’, I said. While this one Thornberry became Theroux’s rescuer, more than once, he is initially portrayed as slightly annoying – to say the least – equally annoying as I certainly am to my loved one, sitting next to me, trying to be in the moment, trying to enjoy the moment, trying to take in all the beauty passing us by, while simultaneously, trying very hard to ignore the persistent flow of my spoken-observations; this, my non-stop talk (noise), is more than likely driving him mad. As are my not-so-near-manic attempts to capture the rolling-landscape-in-magic-sunset-scenes, with my shaking camera, pressed against the dust-dirty window of the train rolling down and round those island-hills heading...

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