Back to Dante. Yeah!

The experience of reading Dante’s Inferno made me think that the original Star Wars trilogy of books is a lighter read–for escapism and a lightness of step–compared to the heavy, hellish, grotesque imagery in Dante’s Inferno.

Having read it, I transfer my reading of Dante’s Inferno to my experience of watching the hellish Revenge of the Sith years ago.

Revenge of the Sith is not something to really enjoy like the first Star Wars trilogy. Like Inferno, it’s about a descent into hell, literally and figuratively, depending on the story.

But both make interesting points so are worth a read and a watch.

I have two translations of Dante’s Inferno. The first, which I have read, is eloquent and sometimes difficult, not an easy read. The second translation, which I am reading, is readable. The readable translation is the one I would pick over the eloquent translation because I want to follow what I am reading every step of the way. The introductions of both books are useful in their own ways.

Observational

Observation for me can be a discipline to concentrate on the world around me and write from that.

Observation is useful in writing, though.

I may relate my observations to my writing foundations and build a story out of it, that’s part me, part other.

At the extreme is complete detachment on behalf of the writer and it is interesting where this may lead. Does one see it from someone else’s perspective completely?

Observing someone or something else or observing some other “world” invariably requires research to understand that someone or something other.

 

The Joshua Tree

The Joshua Tree—hmm, maybe I am too hard on it—but at another time in my life I admired it as a rare spiritually-themed album and it resonated with me. Do I now miss something about this unique album?

It meant more to me then than it seems to do now. I took this album on the road with me as I went on a sort-of “quest”, a spiritual quest really, trying to drain the spirituality I thought was in the album into my soul.

What were those spiritual themes?

Continue reading “The Joshua Tree”

Foundations

In terms of my writing projects, in contrast to writing jobs, they are pretty much in limbo, but are finding their way into the light slowly.

I can come up with a zillion ideas, but being confident with my foundations is what my fiction and writing should be about.

Foundations is what I call my truths. My personal truth, spiritual truth, emotional truth and human truth and my writing can be based on these. These truths are for the purposes of writing. They are not universal truths, but what makes this writer tick.

Not always usable, though, because good inspiration can strike and become an article or blog post, irrespective of personal truths.  But in terms of writing projects, writing from the foundation up is where I’m at.  Foundations can even go deeper–to the deep core material of a writer.

Repudiate

The word repudiate means to deny, refuse to recognize.

On the news, repudiating often comes in the context of politics and goes like this.

A politician is on the defensive when asked about some controversial matter. “I repudiate that!” the politician says. No, it’s more like, “No comment” or “I deny that.”

The media seems to love politicians using repudiate in terms of “I deny that” or “I refute that”. But no politician actually says “I repudiate that!”. It is too much of a mouth full.

Why is repudiate even in the English language if most people refuse to use it? I think repudiate is mainly used by lawyers in their defense of a client. “He repudiates that!”

But there was a guy I saw on television who used it when being asked by a reporter, “Do you accept the charges against you?”

He said quietly, “I repudiate the charges.”

His comment went viral. Repudiate became a sensation for fifteen minutes. Its fifteen minutes of fame. That’s because hardly no one used the word, but he did.

I guess people still love that underused word very much. Repudiate has that exotic appeal in the right context.

 

 

 

Heidi (1937)

I happened to hire out this DVD for a relative, but I watched it and really enjoyed it.

I have known about Heidi but hadn’t been impelled to engage in it.

Having had a nosy on the internet, it’s based on the Johann Spyri children’s book, published in the late 1800’s. The story of Heidi has since been adapted for television and the movie screen many times.

I hired out the Shirley Temple one. It’s the color version, so there may be a black and white original.

In ten minutes I was hooked in to this sweet movie.

Heidi’s Grandfather Adolph (Jean Hersholt) is huddled away in the snowy Swiss Alps. He looks after Heidi (Shirley Temple) when her parents die and the silent and detached man becomes fond of her. Their friendship grows warmly.

Despite Adolph having had a chip on his shoulder, against people and God, his faith in God and others comes back to life. This movie is therefore spiritual as well as for a thoughtful mood. It’s also got real life themes.

As the story goes, Heidi really wants to be with Adolph, but is moved around by others. Upset by Heidi’s departure from the Alps, Adolph walks to Frankfurt to bring her back.

At Frankfurt, she becomes friends with a wheelchair-bound invalid, who is the daughter of a wealthy widower, and Heidi brings much life and joy into her life.

Adolph making it to Frankfurt is time bound, but works in making the viewer even more eager to find out what will happen next.

Some of the plot is neatly sown together, but complications arise also. This movie is most of all warm-hearted and uplifting.

Heidi, Director: Allan Dwan, Genre: Family drama, Year: 1937, Rating: 8/10

Purpose

Justin Bieber is not an artist I have followed so I can’t categorize Bieber as one of the artists I follow. I must have ignored his seven other albums at my peril going by the screaming throngs of teenage girls at his concerts.

But I did like the sound of his single What Do You Mean and so picked the album with another 12 Bieber tracks on it.

What Do You Mean is electronic sounding pop that sounds clean and polished; it is smooth groove and makes one listen. It’s got moderately complex lyrics. I wanted more.

Bieber’s Purpose is a soft pop album that is ambient and fresh. There are thirteen tracks with the odd one out being “Children”. On the surface, “Children” is a departure from the album’s theme of a difficult relationship.

Although Bieber is singing about the love and break up of a relationship, the album isn’t overall bitter or nasty. The one unkind word is “Love Yourself”, which was a sour note.

Purpose doesn’t bore. From a quietly effective rap to ambient infused chords, but there are quibbles: it may be too long and the album comes around to themes that are off-putting.

Although Purpose was a pick of mine, it didn’t entirely shine on the day. I thought about how the lovers in the songs dealt with love and consequences.

Purpose is edgy in the sense that a parent wouldn’t want their daughter, who may listen to Purpose, to experience a love meltdown, but to somehow do a relationship a better way.

Album: Purpose, Artist: Justin Bieber, Genre: Soft pop, Year: 2015, Rating: 5/10

 

Within Reach

While I am not enthusiastic about Rick Cua as a career artist, his albums are middling if not mediocre with a few flourishes, I am keen on Midnight Sun and Within Reach which were better, released around the turn of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Within Reach is Rick Cua’s best album. The Christian pop rocker released about half-a-dozen albums during the 1980’s and 1990’s and one in 2007.

Within Reach instantly hooks you in to the album that doesn’t let you down after a good start. It’s consistently engaging and sometimes is thought provoking.

Opening track Message of Love grabs you by the ears and the mind with an image: “I’m going climb up on a mountain, climb up on the top, declare the Lord’s mercy and pray the pain will stop.” Throughout the album, the words tend to be simple, but vivid.

Fatherly

Within Reach is aimed at young people mainly. The album could have been preachy and turn off listeners because Cua is offering a way to life, but it all works and is not off-putting. Cua is fatherly in a brother to brother manner. His voice is without a hint preachy.

The fatherly instincts of a pastor (Cua’s other career) are evident on tracks like Fifteen, a song about growing up while keeping the faith.

On Somewhere Tonight he seems to be adviser, a thought provoking number about thinking about the poor in our midst and offering a helping hand.

On Stand Your Ground, Cua is upfront and encourages ones to be unafraid of standing up for their Christian beliefs and faith and Cua rocks it through the roof saying it loud and proud.

For seasoned rockers, Within Reach may be too soft and straight forward. But for others, it’s got it where it counts: sound and words merge in a cogent pop rock harmony of faith and life. Get ready to rock!

Album: Within Reach, Artist: Rick Cua, Genre: Christian Pop Rock, Year: 1991, Rating: 8/10