Alain Passard talks obsessively about gestures in Chef's table – France. It's the first time I've heard someone bring that up as a crucial element — if an element at all — in any discipline.
When I was a child, I would mimic adults in unglamorous professions: the cashier swiping a product under a scanner, then hitting a few keys from the till before punching the big one that opens a drawer of cash; or the bus conductor thumbing through a bundle of tickets (the working thumb covered in rubber), after-which reaching for his pouch for loose change.
I didn't know exactly what they were doing back then — how the tickets were counted or what the other buttons on the cash register were for; but seeing them so confident in their actions drew me in. It was their expert gestures that compelled me to imitate them.
"Slicing a shallot can be done 25 different ways. However there is that one gesture to which we can add that elegance, that love," says Passard. Apparently, h…
This slim book is a huge test of endurance for me. At a hundred and twenty seven pages, and what seems to be font size 13, double space, Ernest Hemingway's The old man and the sea has the promise of a breezy, melancholy Sunday afternoon read.
It's so boring. If anything I can relate to the old man in the middle of an endless sea, waiting and fighting for his life and pride. I'm the type who'd deliberately abandon a novel if it doesn't excite. But I choose to stick it out with Hem, thinking I can't be beaten by a novella, and at least I'd know for sure if I hated it or not.
At that point when I feel like completely giving up — page 80 or so — it picks up. I want to know, Okay, will old man Santiago catch his fish or will he die? What will he learn about life? What will I realize for myself? Because it's that kind of book that screams, There's a moral in here somewhere, find it. (Would love to hear the vegans' opinion on the story.)
18. “The way to get things done [is] to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens,” says Richard in the Alex Garland novel, The Beach. That bit didn’t need underlining; it was stuck in my head since. For the longest time I dreamed of traveling to Japan and of taking a proper vacation: something completely mine, well-planned but also aimless. I never thought that I had the resources nor the guts to fly to a land which language I don’t speak, until Justice announced a Woman Worldwide Tour, with appearances at Summer Sonic 2017.
19. Last April, Coachella streamed Justice’s full set, giving me a taste of Woman Worldwide. What I digested was theater, where each element — may it be aural, visual, lexical — meant something to another element to another element. Everyone talked and will talk about the lights: because they don’t just dazzle, they communicate.
20. Once you hear the live version of a Justice song, you’ll forg…
The elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery was a gift I received in Christmas 2014. I couldn't be more thankful. Each page was gold and upon finishing I vowed to hunt for more Barbery in book stores. Turned out she had only written this other novel, Gourmet rhapsody—which I didn't buy at the time for some reason.
Christmastime 2016, I saw her name again on paperback. The life of elves. Sold.
Didn't expect that a fantastical, dream-like tale would come from the same person who wrote a sharp, funny narrative concerning the everyday.
Thought of giving up on this book on several occasions, but brilliant bits keep popping up.
Her caste had betrothed her to the role of bored heiress, but fate had made a daydreamer of her, gifted with otherworldly power, to such good effect that in her presence you felt as if a window onto infinity had been opened, and you understood that it was by delving into yourself that you escaped imprisonment.
David Harrower’s Blackbird takes us right smack in the middle of harsh reality: the office pantry. Suspended fluorescent tubes illuminate a small room, which centerpiece is a long plastic table. Cardboard boxes everywhere. No porcelain, only paper cups. In one corner, trash has managed to spill from a tall bin. All these add up to a hyperreal set that is eerie yet captivating.
Enter a young woman and an older man, dressed like everybody else in the audience — in boring ready-to-wear, maybe soiled by earlier fits of clumsiness or by fresh transgressions. The difference is that our mess are hidden in theater dark, while theirs are exposed by light.
Una and Ray engaged in a sexual affair when the former was 12 and the latter was 40. The relationship lasted for three months and its end meant jail time for the gentleman. Fifteen years later, Una stumbles upon a photo of a smiling Ray on a magazine, compelling her to track him down. Now they meet again as Una finds Ray in his workplace, liv…
Earworms this month are courtesy of a young duo and the widely acknowledged godfathers of electronic music.
The new: At night by Oliver
I haven't heard of Oliver until last week. On August 24, the LA-based DJs released Full Circle, a solid debut album.
It's always the rhythm that wins me. Though largely a song-driven effort, the album's melodic lines (especially those with vocals) are never over-complicated or overpowering; while the sumptuous rhythms are given the extension they deserve — no rushing to the chorus or "the drop". These for me are the very things that make electronic music distinctly enjoyable, habitable.
The tracks also don't follow a single structure, so you'll be pleased with the diversity. Three songs I find extra special are Go with it, Heterotopia, and At night. Am excited for this band. They must be fun to see live.
The old timeless: Music non stop – 2009 remastered version by Kraftwerk
Sometimes I think about dance. Not that thing we poor souls do at the club, but that which is conceived by a choreographer and realized by a dancer. How the art form seems to evade preservation and discovery.
Stumbling upon a great modern ballet piece is not as easy as stumbling upon, say, a great novel by an obscure author or great music from a band in the ‘70s. Sure there are licensed recordings of performances available in stores — limited as they may be — and there’s YouTube and other video-streaming services to scour (if you want something recorded by naughty, rule-bending audiences), but my impression is that dance doesn’t bother as much with reproduction and distribution the way other popular art forms do.
From where I am, there’s no better person to ask whether or not this is an actual problem of the industry than National Artist for Dance, Alice Reyes. “It’s not a problem, it’s a fact. It’s something we have to live with,” a fired up Reyes told me during an open rehearsal of …
Pages 140 – 141:
This is the first time I have met someone who seeks out people and who sees beyond. That may seem trivial but I think it is profound all the same. We never look beyond our assumptions and, what's worse, we have given up trying to meet others; we just meet ourselves. We don't recognise each other because other people have become our permanent mirros. If we actually realized this, if we were to become aware of the fact that we are only ever looking at ourselves in the other person, that we are alone in the wilderness, we would go crazy. When my mother offers macaroons from Ladurée to Madame de Broglie, she is telling herself her own life story and just nibbling at her own flavour; when Papa drinks his coffee and reads his paper, he is comtemplating his own reflection in the mirror, as if practising the Coué method or something; when Colombe talks about Marian's lectures, she is ranting about her own relfection; and when people walk by the concierge, all the…
‘I want to do something different, and everybody wants to do something different. But we all do the same thing. There’s no…’
Because I associate the word with popular books and movies, adventure signifies something exciting, with an element of mystery, risk and danger. It is ultimately safe, because with books and movies, even if it does not reach a positive conclusion, I, the audience, am physically removed from the harms pervading the narrative.
In the Alex Garland novel, the first adventure is getting to—and therefore proving the existence of—‘the beach’, a mythical island-paradise in Thailand; the second is living there; and the third, leaving.
In life, not as clear-cut.
So the beach is real, alive with a small community that keeps it habitable to the few of them who discovered the place and decided it was theirs to call home.
The trick is how to keep the secret Eden from the rest of the world. With how the book ends, it can’t be done. If anything, I gather…