[flan! so fashion forward with those sunglasses. in my head we are besties and i call her flan. shhh.]
We are walking down this road again. The amount of privacy allowed to public figures. Now, obviously people like politicians should understand that they forgo a certain amount of privacy when they choose that profession. (cough Republican “cocaine congressman” cough) They are successful precisely BECAUSE of that recognition. Same goes for reality TV stars.
However, that leaves writers and actors and musicians and visual artists and designers all out of the public eye. Sure, we love seeing pictures of Angelina Jolie and her million kids BUT we don’t have a right to stalk her trips to the grocery store. I think it is a huge burden for the public to put on their artists, this crazy kind of fame. Look at people like Lindsay Lohan or Madonna and tell me they aren’t subjected to too much scrutiny. Or watch the surprisingly well-done documentary on Britany Spears, post-shaved head.
And granted, these people are actors or musicians who, similarly to politicians, do depend on some recognition to pay the bills. But there is a huge difference between photographing someone at a premier and stalking them at their house. Or, in the case of Flannery O’Connor, publishing her journals from when she was attending the Iowa MFA Writer’s Workshop.
Now, Flannery O’Connor might not be as sexy of a privacy argument as Lindsay Lohan (except to you fellow book nerds out there!) but I think it falls under the same umbrella. If we want our artists to succeed, we have to allow them some sort of private life. If everything they create or doodle or think about will eventually be held up and circulated, that can stifle creativity.
And obviously, every artist that has ever existed in some way desires fame. Maybe minus Emily Dickinson. But most people (myself included) create because they want to share their work. Call it illusions of grandeur or call it megalomania, but it is true. But there is sharp difference between personal journals and something that you have crafted and cultivated for the public. As previously discussed, JD Salinger knew this all too well.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the infamous Eat, Pray, Love, tangentially talks about this pressure on artists in this amazing TED talk on creative genius. Although she focuses more on her personal struggle to create after the meteoric success of Eat, Pray, Love, she discusses how we as a society view artists and how we can try to bring back the concept of the muse in order to alleviate the modern pressure of artists. Her thesis: think of artists as vessels for creativity rather than the driving forces behind it. It will save our artists from alcoholism and drug abuse and suicide. Its an interesting concept that she has researched extensively.
My closing thoughts? Don’t read Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journals. Or JD Salinger’s unauthorized biography. Although both literary figures have passed, we need to afford our artists’ privacy. Let them create their own myths about themselves.
Just so you don’t think everything is perfect down here in paradise… I must confess the veggies in the DR are not my favorite. I have resorted to eating whole cucumbers and avocados for lunch. I’m thinking about picking up some seeds next time I am stateside so I can grow some arugula or romaine lettuce… I’m dying with the iceberg. But not sure how it will fare in the climate. Journalist, dog sitter and aspiring farmer. Gotta get the hustle on.
Share your farming tips below!
[downtown Las Terrenas, looking out over the water]
Christmas is a very big deal in Las Terrenas. As a northern girl it seems strange to think about Christmas when it is 80 degrees every day but it is a good reminder that it actually is December.
Here are a few of the different decorations from around town, it ranges from blow up santas climbing up windows to some tinsel shoddily thrown on a mini-tree. No evergreens because I doubt they grow in this climate but definitely a lot of the general spirit.
[some of my neighbors on Abra Grande, my street. one thing i like about the decorations is that they aren’t isolated to the regular red or green. they use the whole palette!]
[decorations at my veterinary office… where i have been spending lots of time thanks to my three critters, all under the age of 6 months.]
In America, we complain when Christmas advertisements air before Thanksgiving, but here there take it to a whole new level. When I arrived in the middle of November, decorations were going up all over town. Maybe we have over estimated the effect of American commercialization and consumerism and really deep down, people everywhere just love Christmas? Just some musings.
And last but not least, my all-time favorite Christmas decoration:
A Christmas tree made out of El Presidente beer! It took four or five days of collective work to make this beauty. Puts your normal tree to shame.
Happy Holiday! Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Happy Kwanza!
I am addicted to mystery/spy novels I think in part because they remind me of why I love reading. Having a story unfold in front of your eyes, being completely hooked and tearing through the pages, trying to guess the author’s next surprise: AMAZING. I understand that as a writer and reader I have to read all kinds of literature, both high and low brow, but damn if reading mysteries doesn’t bring back the joy of being 11 and reading under the covers.
My all-time favorite is John Le Carre, with the Karla Trilogy as the pinnacle of what perfectly executed suspense and good writing can achieve. Then we go down the list to Graham Greene, Alan Furst, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo and Donna Leon. After destroying most of Nesbo’s thrillers, I have been on the lookout for a new author to add to the mix. Drum roll….
My new stalk-worthy obsession: Tana French!
[Tana French in the flesh… i’m a sucker for the author with books in the background photo op]
A friend, after reading this blog, recommended French to me because of my interest in the Scandi hottie, Nesbo. And I am so glad that she did. French’s “Faithful Place” manages to avoid the gritty-gore of Nesbo yet brings serious drama and intrigue.
The story is set in modern-day Dublin, a policeman in the Undercover unit of the Dublin Murder Squad is the narrator. Fairly likeable, he is haunted by his first-love for the rest of his life because she left him (or so he thinks) when they were running away to England together. It is a star-crossed lovers deal, two 19-year-olds whose parents don’t get along must hide their relationship from everyone in the community and is then pressed to run away to build a life together.
“I pictured every inch of what she would look like now: the crow’s feet from smiles I hadn’t seen, the softness of her belly from kids who weren’t mine, all her life that I had missed written on her body in Braille for my hands to read.”
The sentiment might be a bit much at times but the softness of his first love is poignant and a good contrast to the murder investigation. After so many Scandi-thrillers, I appreciate something that is sweet and not pure violence or pure sex.
One of my favorite parts of “Faithful Place” was how perfectly Irish the whole novel is. From the dialogue “yessiz Mary and Joseph” to the descriptions of boiled cabbage and bacon to the all-consuming importance of Mass/Catholocism… it was certainly on point. Reading the back cover I found that French is actually an Irish transplant which is impressive given her accurate representation of Dublin down to the accents.
Another thing that I am excited about in the Dublin Murder Squad Series is that French changes the narrator for each of the novels. For example, Faithful Place is the 3rd in the series and is narrated by Frank Mackey in the Undercover Squad. The next book, Broken Harbor, is narrated by Frank’s nemesis in the Murder Squad. This choice allows French to keep a similar feel in the series and write about the same characters, but doesn’t keep her tied down to one person. It also frees her from doing the first chapter awkward expose for people who just started the series that is a rehashing of old details for people who have been longtime fans. Compared with serialists who stick with the same narrator like Nesbo or Larrson or Leon, it is a refreshing and in some ways, calls to mind Le Carre’s Karla Trilogy.
One question- why does almost every single spy/mystery novel have the lone man who is messed up in love? The only author who I’ve read recently who doesn’t include this troupe is Donna Leon and sometimes, Graham Greene although his main characters will be in relationships but will be distanced. What is with this idea?! It is tiring. Let’s at least have a woman who is messed up in love as the main character. Or a man who has a happy home life. This troupe is old! And dare I say, sexist? The lone man, spurned by women who are only described by their physical features, in search for the truth. Gag me.
[tana looking sexy… can’t just show sexy man pictures on my blog because of FEMINISM. also, there are not enough pictures of people smoking cigarettes anymore. they might kill you but they sure do look cool.]
Meet Marley who is 2 months old and Ganja (swear I didn’t name them) who is 6 months old. Mi cacherritos!
Side note, before I could say puppies aka cacherritos en espanol, I kept calling them mi cocherrons which is big spoon. My big spoons! My big spoons! My neighbors thought I was cray.
Anyway, they are oh so precious. At first the two pups didn’t get along so well but after some tips from my mom, we are all one big happy barking family.
A day late (don’t have internet in my house yet) but here is my What I Watch: Fun Fridays. This week’s submission? The debut video by Syrian-Filipino hip-hop artist, Chyno. Not only can I not get this song out my head, but it is a cool music video. Half makes me miss my office days…
For more on Chyno and his unlikely career path from banker to rapper, check out this article I wrote on Forbes.
Last week’s What I Watch: Fun Fridays available here: Icona Pop: I Love It.