19.09-18 – Poem of the week

Can this be death? 

“Oh tell me, God, can this be death? 

The sweet-sour air which dawns on my breath? 

I hear no angels

I see no light 

Tell me, is there no battle to fight? 

No awakened thought or poem or verse? 

You steal my wheeze, you make it worse

Alas, God, don’t make me grey 

I try to reach, you turn away 

If anything, please tell me this 

How can life come to end like this? 

I did no evil, I shot no gun

I prayed to our Lord, the only one

Oh god, I feel it deep inside

the earth is light, alas! I shall die! 

My head is all but sand, the ground is high

Water, deep water 

          Is this when I die? ……”

– A.S Nerdrum

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Painting by ©Copyright Raul Campos Artwork http://www.raulcamposart.com 

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The best advice you’ll ever get – a salute to Claire Wineland

Claire Wineland. Who was she? And how did she grow to be so popular in the world of YouTube? Some say she’s one of our 21st-century philosophers. Others, a normal girl who figured out something which most of us haven’t. 

Let’s start with the facts first. Claire Wineland was a girl who recently passed away, the 2nd of September, 2018 due to her progressive, genetic disease; “Cystic Fibrosis”. She was an American activist, author, and speaker, born in Austin, Texas. From the day she was born, she and her parents were faced with a horrible tragedy; a considerably short lifespan with a death sentence at five years old. Evidently, Claire started becoming known to the concept of death, and therefore, decided to form a personal relationship to it. Seeing how she could die at any given time, she felt she was forced to look at it closely, evaluate it, and figure out a way to make her life more liveable.

In my opinion – contrary to many others suffering from “Cystic Fibrosis” – she erased the growing fear of the unknown, and turned it into something positive – death slowly became her inspiration. It motivated her, transformed her life into something beautiful, something to be proud of.

And because of her positive attitude, she lived to be older than 5 years old, and by the time she had reached 20, she (among many others) began to see a pattern. Was it possible that her positive mindset could have had an impact on her physical health? Was her growing desire to change the world into something better – the very reason to why her body continuously kept on fighting against the inevitable possibility of an early death?

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I have a problem = I am undergoing an empowering situation

In this video, Claire (at 14 years old) teaches us how to turn a problem (such as a genetic disease) into a blessing. Now, you may ask how’s that possible?

Just watch the video and it will all make sense. 

Now, I don’t have the answers to everything. There are a lot of things I’m uncomfortable talking about, because of my lack of knowledge within specific subjects. However, there’s one thing I know for certain: Claire Wineland had something very important that she wanted to convey, and she spent her entire 21 years trying to get a voice so that she could teach us this lesson; Namely how much the mentality can impact your physical state of being. 

Because whether you choose to believe it or not, it’s true. Your way of thinking defines you. THAT is how fragile, tangible, scary, yet fantastic the human mind can be! 

Like Alan Cohen says:

Be a creator, not a reactor

Deal with the sickness. But don’t let the sickness deal with you. Create your inner home in your misery, and you’ll discover how little it takes to turn your entire perspective around, completely.

I’ll continue to be inspired by (hopefully) the better version of myself, Claire Wineland. And I hope that you guys will too. Rest in peace Claire♥

Her book⇒ you can buy it here51x4SxcjOKL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

What I’ve learned from literature – Part 1

All the different kinds of love 

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  1. The dominant vs. the obsessive 

This one sounds authoritative and cruel – but it’s actually very common nowadays, and usually, it doesn’t appear damaged at all from a distance. The dominant one tends to show off a lot of pride and confidence in social settings. They often have a joke lined up and their social intelligence is at the top of the latter. 

The obsessive one in this situation is most likely very young and completely new to relationships and flirting – therefor, hugely fragile. Like a thin glass, he/she can break into little pieces just by thinking about the relationship ending. They hold onto a toxic love like a beggar holds on to their jar of money, just because it’s the first time for them, and the good moments (which are very few) feels so awfully good. When in reality, the weight-scale is way off balance – the bad moments come often, whereas the good moments, only once in a while.cdf63e5e003ea1e5ef61ba03354ed080

A good example of this relationship would be Mr. Willoughby and Marianne from “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen. To start with, Willoughby (the dominant) praises Marianne, shows her his best acts of chivalry and promises her the world and more … in the next, he doesn’t care more for her than the next person on the street, leaving Marianne in complete misery, with her heart broken and her pride shattered. This love is tormenting and the memory of it usually lasts a lifetime. But hey! Who says heartbreak is merely bad? Lots of good content for writing can come out of it! Trust me! 

 

2. The mother love  

This love is as unconditional as any love can be, and in my opinion, the strongest love. The relationship a mother has to – for example, her daughter, will always, no matter what, stay there, and there’s nothing anyone can do to damage it. The bond was already created by birth. It’s a spiritual bond, one that will never break, never tangle, never not find its way to the other person again. Also, when something goes wrong on the romantic love-front, you’ll always have your mother. 

A good example on this would be Marilla and Anne from “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Maud Montgomery. (I know Marilla isn’t her real mother, but I never said it had to be blood-related. Remember, everyone can be family, even the perfect strangers. It’s a matter of what goes on in one’s hearts, not how they’re related to one another.)

Anyhow, their relationship starts off with a little bit of turbulence, however – throughout the story, their love develops more and more, growing into a beautiful blossom of shared confidence, loyalty, and pride in each other’s endeavors. I learned a lot from this story; That nothing and no one is perfect. We will have our flaws. We will have difficulties showing our love and affection sometimes. But, when it’s there and it’s real, then you know. You don’t need to say “I love you” to your mother every day, because she knows, as well as you, how utterly devoted to each other you are …

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3. The vain vs the weak 

This is a typical one. It normally happens when people are seeking a rebound and/or just wants to be with someone, anyone. The vain is the one who’s already hurt and/or is looking for someone who can soothe the pain of loneliness. The weak one is the person who gets chosen by the vain. (The weak usually gets chosen by everyone, because they’re usually very indecisive and conflict-shy). And so you have a relationship which starts off completely wrong. The vain is constantly feeding their ego through another person’s love. Then, the weak starts caring more and more for the vain – because of the lack of interest. In the end, the vain will get too bored of the weak and will want to move onto the next one. (Presumably, they’ve already found another one to be with.) The weak then experiences a devastating heartbreak, when in reality – it was obvious from the start, that this person was not the right one for them. 

A perfect example of this is the relationship between Ruth and Tommy in “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. (A book I will talk more about in later blog-posts…) Ruth (the vain) just wants to be with someone, because she thinks it will give her an admirable status. Tommy (the weak) gets chosen by Ruth when actually, he’s always been in love with the main character; Kathy. But, because of Tommy’s highly agreeable nature and his low self-esteem, he’s convinced that Ruth is the best offer he can get. Therefore, he ends up spending many years in a toxic relationship with someone who doesn’t love him for who he is. Sad, I know. But in reality, this sort of thing happens quite often … 

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4. The platonic friend-to-friend love 

This is a classic one: The person you’re attracted to mentally, but not physically. Your intellectual self is practically aching for their company. However, your emotional self is repulsed by the idea of kissing them. You enjoy having deep, midnight-conversations with them. You care for their well-being, their health, and their relatives. You wish you were attracted to them, but you’re not. Still, it’s fine. In fact, it’s better! Because you know that no matter what, they’ll always be there to support you, praise you, and love you unconditionally. There will be no hardship because there’s no physical intimacy involved, and …. to be quite frank, it’s better this way! 

A good example for this would be Jo March and Laurie Laurence from Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women”. In this story, Jo finds Laurie because she’s curious to be his friend. She wants to know all about the world outside and how Europe and college are like. She also sees qualities in Laurie that matches her own; He’s equally rebellious, tomboyish and he’s also a sucker for adventure – all of the things that characterize Jo, also characterizes Laurie. So what is there to lose? one might ask. What’s holding her back? Why only a friendship, when it could be the greatest beginning of a lifelong romance? Well … It’s quite simple actually: Love is not finding someone who wants you, just as you are. True love is admiration. In other words; the one you get together with should have very good qualities, which you lack. So that both parties can educate the other and create the perfect match.

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Jo didn’t see how Laurie could educate her in any way, therefore, in her eyes – he was less interesting as a potential partner. But she still loved him = a perfect platonic love.

 

4. The soulmate-love 

Now, this is the true, heart-to-heart, I-choose-you-you-choose-me – kind of love. It’s a simple love, which doesn’t require much fixing and mending and breaking of hearts and getting back together again and all those unnecessary things we usually put up with before we eventually find the one. But it’s very hard to find. And many people tend to completely disregard this soulmate-love because they don’t know what it’s all about. Well, this is what I’ve discovered: 

Your person is usually hard to find because, most likely, they won’t be that guy/girl in the bar who approaches you with a cute smile. They won’t come over and flirt with you in a club or at a friend’s dinner party. Why? Because they’ll be too busy working on their life-goal. Yup. I said it. 

They’ll probably be spending most of their time in the library, their studio, their workplace or in a coffee shop reading up on some philosophy. 

Another thing to look out for (if you’re on the hunt for the one)-  he/she is all about action. Not words. The person doesn’t have to say “I love you”. They’ll show it. They’ll put you first. They’ll always come home from their trip with a gift. They’ll know your favorite food and they’ll make it for you. They’ll be the first one to show up on your doorstep when something goes wrong, and they’ll be the last one to leave when you need them the most. You don’t like their ugly vices. In fact, you hate them. But you love the person so much that you want them to notice what they’re doing wrong. They’ll have qualities you lack and you’ll have qualities which they lack. Eventually, you’ll become each other’s teachers. You’ll stumble through life together, learn from each other’s mistakes and grow stronger and taller, together. You’ll be confronted with your biggest weaknesses. It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to hurt. But it will be worth it – because the person you love is willing to help you fix them. 

A perfect example of this is, of course, Elisabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen (what else? …) 

In the beginning, Elisabeth thinks Mr. Darcy is arrogant and self-conceited. She keeps reminding herself how strange and aloof he is, and the lack of respect and manner has her almost resenting him. Mr. Darcy is extremely intimated by Elisabeth’s strong, extroverted character and he doesn’t know whether or not he’ll come to hate her or love her. In other words; they’re the perfect match. Here’s the reason why: Elisabeth is blessed with her good manners, her extroverted persona, and her quick, intellectual reflexes. But she lacks the humble, tolerant, open-minded action-driven qualities, which Mr. Darcy possesses in all his endeavors; Yes, he is proud. Yes, he is awfully arrogant and awkward in public, but he’s also profoundly kind, generous and selfless in his actions. Something Elisabeth fails to notice in the beginning but grows to love towards the end of the story. 

Equally, Mr. Darcy grows to love Elisabeth’s extroverted character, seeing how he doesn’t have one himself. They both end up inspiring each other to become better versions of themselves – therefore, they have something to peruse in each others company – therefore, the perfect match = The soulmate-love. 

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Alright, that’s it for now. My plan is to make a whole series of “what I’ve learned from literature” and divide them into many parts. Tell me if you liked this one and I’ll be sure to continue this little project. I would love to know! Either way, take care and have a great week♥

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

The greatest summer-reads have been …

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  1. “Call Me by Your Name” by André Aciman 

“We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!” 

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Genre: Romantic, psychological and prosaic fiction

It’s a perfect summer-read because: The story is set during a summer holiday and theres no better argument than that! 

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2. “The collector” by John Fowles 

“Do you know that every great thing in the history of art and every beautiful thing in life is actually what you call nasty or has been caused by feelings that you would call nasty? By passion, by love, by hatred, by truth. Do you know that?”

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Genre: Horror fiction/thriller 

It’s a perfect summer-read because: Thrillers are usually best to read during the summer. First off, this one is tremendously intriguing, judging by it’s intense buildup.  Secondly, theres nothing better than an exhilarating horror-story when you’re feeling a little bit summer-bored during vacations. This one, is also one of my favourite novels – and it’s very much in family with “Call Me by Your name”, in terms of writng-style.  (In my humble opinion!) 

Dice (1-6): 6 


“The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett 

“At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done–then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”

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Genre: Psychological, dramatic fiction 

It’s a perfect summer-read because: You can sit in your blossoming garden and read it, and feel completely in place! Also, gosh, I don’t know why this is considered a children-book. It really isn’t! It’s a book for everyone – especially those who find themselves in awe over stories that makes you think, clear your mind and rejuvenate. It’s a complete eye-opener, a beautiful story, and perfect to read during late summer-evenings in your bed or in your garden over coffee, during sun-rise♥

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Hope you guys enjoyed my list and that you’re indulging in the last bits of sun-rays this august♥ And remember, always remember, keep flipping those pages! 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

I copied Thomas Mann’s morning routine for a day

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Here’s how it went … 

As we all know, or should know, a routine is the number one principle to follow, if you want to maintain a healthy and balanced life. In “12 Rules for Life” Jordan Peterson argues that “we need to stay on the straight and narrow path, in order to not drown into chaos” – in other words, we need to regulate our own lives with routines, so that we can allow ourselves to be free. It might sound like a contradiction, but then I would advice you to think again. Remember that you are creating your own rules, when choosing a daily routine. No one else is enforcing them on you. It’s all on you now. YOU choose wether you’ll win or loose – wether you’ll follow your routine with explicit punctuality, or yield to distracting temptation. So you ARE free! You’re free, because you’re your own boss. Sounds scary? Oh, you can bet my life it is … Because theres no hiding behind the notion that FREEDOM – can be the most frightening feeling on earth. As Søren Kierkegaard put it: 

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom 

We are scared, until we try it out, and then after the deed is done, we look back and find it ridiculous that we even hesitated to start with. That’s generally how it is, is’nt it? We’re scared of failing, of being more lazy than we thought we were, of questioning our ability to be focused, to be dedicated. I was there once. But then one day, I shook my head and realised how unproductive all these thoughts were. So I took a leap. I dived into the world of writers and their unique way of structuring  their lives. My intention was to get some clues, compare some of my own habits with theirs and reorder my own schedule – I basically wanted to track down that one little missing ingredient (which I’m sure the most of us need) in order to get the most out of your day. As I did my research, I discovered that there are some key habits in which all successful people have in common. Here, I have made a list of those habits: 

  • Waking up early, and at the same time everyday
  • coffee 
  • write as much as you can in the mornings, for several hours straight, with no distractions whatsoever
  • exercise and fresh air (walking, running etc.) 
  • including tiny rituals that will add joy and serenity into your life (being with your spouse, drinking an alcoholic beverage, listen to music etc.)
  • read something every day, preferably an hour before falling a sleep in the night
  • not paying attention to anybody else’s needs before your own (that means, get your writing of the day done, before answering emails, phone calls, meeting up with friends etc.) 

So there you have it! It’s not impossible – in fact, all of these things are very easy to do, when you’re a work-from-home writer. You just have to be dedicated enough to do them, every day. 

Now, (although I found many great morning routines of many admirable authors) I chose  to copy Thomas Mann’s routine, because it was the only one that could really challenge me. Why? Because he is definitely NOT a late riser (like I am guilty of being). At least not according to http://www.englishecho.com:

The German, Nobel-prize winner novelist, author and author of “Death in Venice”; Mann was always awake by 5:00 am. After getting out of bed, he drank a cup of coffee with his wife, took a bath, and dressed. Breakfast, again with his wife was at 5:40.

Then, at 6:00, Mann closed the door to his study, and would not receive visitors, telephone calls, or family members.

The children were strictly forbidden to to make any noise between 6:00 and 10:00, what Mann described as his prime writing hours.

Before I start narrating my experiment, I have to let you know, I never wake up as early as 5 am. In fact, in my family, I’m known for being the late sleeper – always wanting to stay up past midnight, always eager to catch up on what everyone else is doing or talking about during late parties or philosophical gatherings in my parents home, and then sleeping like a little baby in the mornings, waking up around 12-1, when everyone is having lunch. Usually, I would feel physically unwell every time I awoke. Either my muscles would hurt, I’d have a headache, or I’d just feel guilty about missing out on so much work. However, I always seemed to brush these feelings off by reminding myself what a blast I’d had the night before. I was convinced that time wasted in the mornings, was not really time wasted, because .. technically, the day hadn’t started yet. Well … turned out I was terribly, terribly wrong. Mornings are the most precious of times, and I’ll tell you why:

That morning, when I had decided to copy Mann’s ritual, I heard my alarm go off at 5am, and my initial reaction was; “God, this is stupid … why am I even doing this? For another blog-post? I can write about something else!” 

So I hit the snooze-button and went back to sleep. My head touched that lovely pillow again (a place I used to call home) and my body was slowly preparing itself to bring me back into that oblivious dreamland, where the worries of wasting time did not exist. But then all of a sudden, I opened my eyes, rose up from the bed and rubbed my eyes awake. “Wait a minute …” I thought. “I’m not doing this for another blog-post, I’m doing this for myself!” And in that moment, my ability of waking up early, had changed forever. I had a purpose now. My purpose was to write – to win as many hours as possible back, from the ones I had lost from before. So I stood up tall, with my shoulders back, had some coffee with my man, took a shower, dressed, had breakfast and started writing. All this happened within forty minutes time, and I have to tell you – it was a total eye-opener for me, seeing how efficient I had already been, just by waking up and preparing for work. And as I was writing, I suddenly noticed … I wasn’t tired at all. My imagination was going in all sorts of directions, my vision was clear, there was no headache, no stiff muscles, no moodiness. It turned out, I felt better physically that morning, than I had done for at least a couple of years back! Which ultimately leaves me to the conclusion of this experiment; We all know that sleeping too little is not good. But what some of us fail to comprehend is that sleeping too much can be equally bad. As Aristotle said:

“Virtue is the golden mean between two vises, the one of excess and the other of deficiency”

I have found that a perfect seven hour of sleep works for me. That is my Aristotelian golden mean. So if I wake up at 5am, I would naturally go to bed at 10. And I know that going to sleep early sounds dull and tedious. TRUST ME. I thought the same, before I started embracing the act of early-rising and before I realised how those few hours for yourself during an early morning, can be equally (if not more) pleasant than the hours of staying up late. This is because it’s an entirely different world – waking up early. The sun hasn’t come up yet. The air is still, the streets are empty. You get the feeling that everyone else is a sleep, but you. Therefor, your brain starts thinking that you’re in power; There are no hinders. No problems. Nothing can stop you, now that you’ve woken up before everyone. Now it’s your time to catch up, while the rest of the world is sleeping – its your time to do all those things that you should’ve done yesterday or a week ago, or maybe even a month ago. Because surprisingly – you’ll feel more inclined to do them. Laundry and dishes and paperwork (and all those things you constantly put aside) don’t seem that laborious anymore. It’s a strange thing, and I haven’t really gotten to the core of what it means yet, but it happened to me, so why wouldn’t it happen to you too? 

Nevertheless … this is just one of the tips and tricks that many successful people do. You might apply another one into your life, and that’s fine. Waking up early is just one of the suggestions, and I have found that it really helped. From that day, I have been waking up early every morning, at the same time, and I feel fantastic. But of course, the important part is getting the work done in the best possible way, but still focus on the daily pleasures and the loved ones around you. How you manage this, is up to you. Again, applying Aristoteles’s golden mean can be a helpful guideline to your life. 

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I hope you all are having a productive day so far! And hopefully, some of you will feel inspired to try out Thomas Mann’s morning-routine too♥

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum

 

 

Reviewing “Call Me by Your Name”

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One hour, Elio is on cloud nine – eying the stranger’s shadow from his French window, eagerly awaiting for whatever is either going to destroy his life, or redeem it. The next, he’s in a place of torment. His conscious is filled with shame and self-disgust and he doesn’t understand how he can even allow himself for having these feelings. 
This is just one of the many rollercoaster-emotions that André Aciman’s main character; Elio has to go through in the duration of Oliver’s summer-stay in his parents Italian residence. But do we ever get to the bottom of his frustration? Is there any closure between them? Are the feelings reciprocated or was it all just a strange illusion of a dream? 

These were my questions ten pages into the book. I was hooked, frantic, steamed up. I had to find out how all this would end. Yet, to my astonishing surprise … the further I came to the finish-line, the more I found myself lost in confusion. And towards the last paragraph, nothing. They had shared their love and intimacy alright. Years had passed. Wounds had healed. They met again. But wasn’t there even a dramatic declaration in the end? A solid denouement that would put both their agonies at peace? 

In order to resolve my inner conflict, I decided I had to make a review on this book. It’s the only way possible for me to pick up the pieces, investigate the area and glue them back together again. So let’s just get on with it!

Beginning, middle and end 

The beginning is narrated with a firm directness. It is clear for everyone that the author does not care to mystify Elio’s enchantments for his father’s new student. In other words, no slow introduction. No beating around the bush: 

“Later!”  The word, the voice, the attitude. I’d never heard anyone use “later” to say goodbye before. It sounded harsh, curt. and dismissive, spoken with the veiled indifference of people who may not care to see or hear from you again. It is the first thing I remember about him, and I can hear it still today. Later!  I shut my eyes, say the word, and I’m back in Italy, so many years ago, walking down the tree-lined driveway, watching him step out of the cab, billowy blue shirt, wide open collar, sunglasses, straw hat, skin everywhere. Suddenly he’s shaking my hand, handing me his backpack, removing his suitcase from the trunk of the cab, asking if my father is home. 

It might have started right there and then. 

(p. 1)

I think what the author is trying tell you (the reader) by these opening lines, is merely this: The story is all about the analysis of one person; Oliver. From beginning to end. How he is, how he behaves, how his every move, word and encounter is analysed and observed through the eyes of Elio. It’s all about Elio’s perception of Oliver; a recurrent theme which never changes throughout the course of the novel. 

Middle: They are still walking around in the beautiful casa, reading, transcribing music, writing on manuscripts, swimming, casually chatting about philosophers and musicians, reciting their words – everything is normal. Yet, so much is different. They have been taking trips together to the lake. Elio has been showing him around. An innocent eye-contact has turned into a passionate kiss on the beach. A modest “care to join me to town” has turned into “We shouldn’t go further than this…”. What are they doing now, and how are they going to put an end to their mutual attraction? 

Before I dive into my analysis on the subject – Elio is perfectly aware of his parents liberal world-view. He knows that they would have nothing against him forming an attachment with another man. As a matter of fact, they seem to like Oliver very much, and they are constantly encouraging their son to spend more time with him. Yet, Elio himself cannot help but see the shamefulness and pure distaste in the feelings he’s having. He wants him, yet he doesn’t. He feels a huge disappointment every time he doesn’t meet up for dinner, but he also loves Marcia’s (his girlfriend at the time) smell, her smile, her lips. One day, he only wants to be with her. The other, with Oliver. Does he ever make up his mind? Is it women or men that he’s attracted to? Maybe both? Still, I’m confused, but – I’m only in the middle of the book, after all … 

Ending: These conflicting feelings seem to dissolve a bit towards the end, when the reader realises that it is only Oliver, Elio wants. Perhaps he was just trying to persuade his own mind to want Marcia this whole time. And by the time they go to Rome together – alone, he’s given up everything called shame and remorse. It is Oliver he likes to be with, hold hands with, sleep next to. In a way, it’s nowhere near a normal kind of love. Elio loves Oliver because Oliver is just like Elio. In a way, when looking at Oliver, he feels as though he’s looking at himself. Was it the love for himself that he was experiencing this whole time? Had it noting to do with Oliver, but everything to do with himself?

“… it would finally dawn on us both that he was more me than I had ever been myself, because when he became me and I became him in bed so many years ago, he was and would forever remain, long after every forked road in life had done its work, my brother, my friend, my father, my son, my husband, my lover, myself.”

(p. 243) 

I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of what this actually means, but my ultimate conclusion is that Elio was looking for himself during his 17th year (which isn’t an unfamiliar thing, considering that it happens to most kids that age)  – and found who he wanted to be, through Oliver. In other words, the discovery of himself must have been a feeling so strong, that it was (perhaps) mistaken for being love. Now, I’m sure they were attracted to each other and the interest was definitely there – however, it’s not an abnormal thing that teenagers feel love much more strongly than most grownups. It’s because they’re encountering a very impressionable age; they have not yet found their purpose in life and they’re confused about their own values and principles. And when they meet this one person (in this case, Oliver) who makes them think; That’s who I want to be! – then of course, they’ll end up admiring this possible version of themselves so much that they’ll eventually become crazy in love! (or think, they have become crazy in love) Which is what suspect, happened to Elio. 

Towards the ending, the story fast-forwards twenty years into the future, and by then, Oliver is already married and settled. They meet again, they share their memories, but strangely enough, they don’t go back to where they initially were. In fact, they even hesitate to talk about it. Suddenly, it seems like their fling during the summer was just a dream within a dream – something which had happened in their minds, but not taken place in reality. I don’t know the actual truth. But the ending goes like this: 

“He looked at me and smiled. It cheered me. Perhaps because I knew he was taunting me. Twenty years was yesterday, and yesterday was earlier this morning, and morning seemed light-years away. “I’m like you” he said. “I remember everything.” I stopped for a second. If you remember everything, I wanted to say, and if you are really like me, then before you leave tomorrow, or when you’re just ready to shut the door of the taxi and have already said goodbye to everyone else and theres not a thing left to say in this life, then, just this once, turn to me, even in jest, or as an afterthought, which would have meant everything to me when we were together, and, as you did back then, look me in the face, hold my gaze, and call me by your name.”

Elio remembered everything. But do we ever really get to know Oliver’s point of view? No. We don’t. So wether or not this was an imagined dream, we can never know. Perhaps in the continuation – if there is going to be one …? 

The tone

First person; Elio. Narrative.

I like the author’s voice. The words, the obvious, yet exceptionally vague undertone in every sentence makes you so hooked that in the end, you find yourself enslaved to the book – need to read it all the time, you need to repeat every sentence in your head at least twice – because the prose is so subtle and poetic. No complains about the prose. The author handles it very well, and I respect him a great deal for that. 

 

The theme 

Romance and internal conflict are the two things that come into my head, at once. But then theres also a lot of fine prose in there too … hmmm … I think I would go for … A psychological romance in the form of a beautiful prose. 

 

Criticism 

I must admit, even though I fell in love with this book – there was something which I feel could have been left out; The sex-scenes. Don’t get me wrong. Erotism can be very exiting in a novel. It usually spices things up a notch and gets the reader even more hooked to the story. However, when reading this book, I felt that the love between them was so strong, passionate and confusing ALREADY – so the sex-scenes ended up becoming superfluous. Also, I think the story would’ve been much more mysterious, complex and romantic if they had never shared anything intimately. A whole, undiscovered world would’ve stayed in Elio’s imagination. There would’ve been a sincere, platonic love between them – something which is, in my opinion, the most romantic feeling of them all! At the same time, I feel like the ending reveals that there was in fact, first and foremost, a major admiration that Elio had for Oliver. It wasn’t sexual at all. In other words, it wasn’t eros, but … pure, legitimate, unconditional love. Like a brother to a brother, a mother to a child, a father to a son. If it were me, I wouldn’t have included a sex-scene. Maybe, only maybe … a kiss, but nothing more. Mysticism is always great! 

Recommendation 

Anyone. No matter the age group. But maybe especially teenagers and people in their early 20s … 

Dice (1-6) 

Had it not been for the sex-scenes (which were very well written, but I feel like it interrupted the plot) I would’ve given this book a 6, without hesitation. Because I love the prose and I love the confusing open-to-interpretation-ending. But .. sadly, I have  to be true to myself. I give it a 5. 

 

Hope you enjoyed my review, and comment down below if you would like to add your opinion♥

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing “The World of Yesterday”

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Stefan Zweig (1881-1942).

He was a poet, he was a novelist, a dramatist and a nomade. But first and foremost, he was a hopeless romantic; Like one of those academics who enjoys every single second of the mere beauty of just living. He treasured each traveling-experiences. He adored his friends and schoolmates. On the whole, you could say that he never took anything for granted. Yet, life failed him immensely during his last years on earth. Friends, politicians, the development of the culture, the aesthetics, the government, the hopeless future of Europe – it all hit him so hard, that in the end, despite all of the things he had worked towards, despite all of the values and ideals which he had hoped to transform into reality – he found himself better off leaving this world, than to stay in it. On 23 of February 1942, Stefan Zweig and his wife were found dead, after intentionally having swallowed an overdose of barbiturate. They were lying in their bed in the city  of Petrópolis, holding hands. Finally, they were in a better place. 

So how could his view on Europe have changed so drastically? How could death be a better solution than to continue living in the 20th century? Zweig claimed that it was the big contrast between the world before the war and the precent world (as in the 1940s) which eventually lead to his Great Depression. Still, I had my doubts. There has to be another reason! I thought. Thus, I began reading his memoir and last published book; “The World of Yesterday” … 

 

Beginning, middle and end 

The beginning is wonderful. The world seems rich of both good and evil, full of possibilities, full of poverty, diseases, crime and anxiety – yet, shockingly alive and heated with young, enthusiastic youths, ready to dive into knowledge and later, conquer the world with their heroism. 

Towards the middle of the book, Zweig starts narrating the pre- and postwar times, which evidently sets the mood down to a more melancholic place. More and more, he’s witnessing the world he loved so dearly, fall and dissolve into ashes. And as a result of this, his nationalism for Vienna grows, his values and principles are strengthened and his nostalgia of the past feels like a time he hopes to, but knows he can never regain. Change is happening all around him. People are more emotional about small matters that seemed ridiculous, even childish before the war. Trust and loyalty  becomes only a concept – not a sincere action, like during the old schooldays. In short, the whole memoir starts going downhill in atmosphere. Beautiful, enthusiastic descriptions about crossing borders without a passport turn into mournful anthems about a lost kingdom and a fallen unity. 

In the end, I had already anticipated what was to come; Some dreadful last sentences about it all being lost and how it would take an everlasting time to be able to rebuild it again. Yet, I couldn’t help but seeing the very discrete, underlying optimism behind his words. In the end of his last page, he writes: 

“And I knew that yet again all the past was over, all achievements were as nothing – our own native Europe, for which we had lived, was destroyed, and the destruction would last long after our own lives. Something else was beginning, a new time, and who knew how many hells and purgatories we still had to go through to reach it? The sunlight was full and strong. As I walked home, I suddenly saw my own shadow going ahead of me, just as I had seen the shadow of the last war behind this one. That shadow had never left me all this time, it lay over my mind day and night. Perhaps its dark outline also lies over these pages of this book. But in the last resort, every shadow is also the child of light, and only those who have known the light and the dark, have seen war and peace, rise and fall, have truly lived their lives.”

True, the beginning of this paragraph is highly depressing, BUT – towards the end of it, the mood switches. For example, when he writes “But in the last resort, every shadow is also the child of light” he is basically saying that the fall of the West could be a beginning of something great – a reaction might come, probably not before a hundred or more years have passed, but some time it WILL COME! 

Then theres yet another ray of sunshine to be found in his last sentence, “and only those who have known the light and the dark, have seen war and peace, rise and fall, have truly lived their lives” – in which he is abruptly implying that everyone who comes after him, basically anyone in our generation has not yet lived. But Zweig did. He experienced the horrors of a fallen kingdom, the death of his relatives and friends …

In the end (after a lot of debating with myself) I came to the conclusion that this is why he killed himself – because he had already lived a fulfilled, experienced life. How many more horrors did he have to face in order to feel alive? None! 

His underlying optimism made me understand the reason to why he chose death. A contradiction I know – but, it also makes a lot of sense. He had nothing more to give to this world, nor had he anything to gain from it. He had written his memoir. He had told the public what they needed to hear. The world had changed, but it hadn’t changed with him. Zweig was still living in the optimism of the 19th century. His body was in the 1940s, but his mind was somewhere else. And when time flies you by, and theres no possible way for you to fly away with it, then the only solution would be, to enter another dimension, namely the kingdom of death. 

I do not blame Mr. Zweig for doing what he did. In fact, I think it’s the only solution he was granted at the time. Because after all, the solution of death is granted to you everyday, every morning when you wake up, it’s there, calling your name, asking you if its a yes or a no. You could just grab your racer or your kitschen-knife and juts get it over with. Instead, you wait. You wait for death to choose you. Why? Because you still have so much to offer to the world. To yourself, to your loved once, and maybe also to the mass of people around you. Zweig had already accomplished these things. Therefor, he said yes to the overdose of barbiturate, and he offered his wife to join him to a better place. 

The tone

First person. Very descriptive. Highly reflective. One would say that his tone changes from a light summer-breeze to a dark melancholia towards the end – but in my opinion, despite all the nice things he has to say about his early twenties and thirties in the beginning of the memoir, it’s still narrated in a slightly heavy-hearted tone, as in him saying directly to the reader; I know that it’s wonderful now, but you just wait and see, it will get worse and you will understand why I decided to kill myself! 

For me, every word, every single sentence in his entire work is written with the feeling of a strong, wistful nostalgia – a longing from his heart, a grave loss in which he will never allow himself to recover from. 

The theme 

Nostalgia. It’s the only word I can come up with. And no, I wouldn’t say biography, drama, political piece, historical piece or tragedy. To me, the theme is pure nostalgia. No more, no less. 

Recommendation 

I would recommend this book to anyone in their teens or older. Wether or not you’re interested in history, this book is more than just recalling of past events. It’s deeply emotional and his words will resonate with everyone. 

Dice (1-6) 

I give it a 5. 

 

That was it for today! Do tell me if you liked this, if you shared my thoughts or if you think I should make more of these reviews! And know that I always appreciate your suggestions – because you guys are what keeps me going! Until next time … 

Love, 

Aftur S. Nerdrum