I have decided to include drawings in my blog posts. This will be a difficult and at times vexing endeavour as the only camera I possess is the one attached to my phone and it leaves much to be desired.
I was on my way somewhere some nights ago when I saw a girl with strange hair. All of her hair was black except a substantial bit on the front. That was white. It looked very cool and I’ve tried to recreate her below. This is a drawing instead of a photograph because I didn’t want to sit there and take a photograph of her. The prospect made me recoil. She reminded me of a conversation I once had with a person in which he told me about a girl he saw on a train who had dyed her hair in a flame gradient. He seemed to be very enamoured of her and wouldn’t stop speaking about her. He brought her up two more times on separate occasions with an average gap of ten days (but I can’t be sure) between the three events. I had already heard him speak about her so I told him to stop but he just looked at me with some facial expression that I was too exhausted to decipher.
I am not in the same, slightly ethereal mood I was in when I wrote the last posts. I feel precise and meticulous while writing this. Thus this end will be abrupt but neatly cut.
When I was a kid my dad made me run. I remember grey roads with trees on either side and I remember the smell of grass, a sharp tang when it’s freshly cut. I didn’t take to it. He was a sprinter at university and I remember all his medals dangling and chiming together. I could taste the metal whenever I looked at them. ‘Gold’ but it wasn’t gold. They were all bronze, just painted a different colour. I was never an athletic child. I was ambivalent towards it and I never cared for it as passionately as some people I know do. As I grew up I noticed that I had started expressing a liking for several ‘sporty’ activities and I realised that it was because of my dad. He never spoke very much, not even to my mother and the physical activities felt like one of the only things that tethered us. I’ve known for a long time that I don’t know who he is. If he ever reads this I think that will make him sad. But it’s true.
I have started running. I do it for the pain. I do it until each step is painful but I keep going. Look at the sky. Look at the ground, at my moving feet. It feels like the only thing that exists when I’m doing it. I do it until I want to scream, until drawing breath is painful, until I can’t think of anything but the pain. That’s when I grit my teeth and will it back. I push it back, straining against it and fighting it. And then I stand and let the light relief of resting limbs flood back like a river coursing through my entire body.
A blue haze engulfs me in the middle of the street.
I took this picture while on my run today. That is how I felt while running. Those are the colours that I felt.
There are no people when you are running. No faces to puzzle over, no feelings to decipher. No monitoring your face, what you say.
Just pure physical pain that you need to conquer.
Just one step after another. On and on. Fighting.
This is one of the best music videos I’ve seen all year (watch it here) and that still, in my opinion, captures the spirit of the music so fluently and completely. I generally don’t like watching music videos because they tend to spoil my experience of the music with colours different from the ones that I see but this was perfect. I thought I didn’t like the confetti at the end at first, but then I caught a glimpse of her twirling through it with a curtain of hair swinging with the motion and I felt my mouth slowly curve into a smile. I loved the whole atmosphere of the city at night when its nearly, but not quite, deserted and it’s something that has always attracted me.
I’ve read, fleetingly, reviews of the song that praise its successful combination of different elements but this was what made the biggest impression on me:
“Romy and I grew up skateboarding together. It was such a big part of our friendship, even before we started playing music.
We would spend every weekend from early in the morning till late at night, skating and exploring the streets of London. We wanted the video for Loud Places to show us skating and going to the places we used to go to.”
That’s Jamie talking about the song and its video and you can immediately see what he is talking about, it’s like he suddenly made a tiny bit of it clearer but all the other bits are your own experiences and hopes and dreams and they are familiarly and comfortably murky.
That’s another one of my favourite scenes. Like a wave. I love watching people skateboard, they have such an elegantly gentle curve to their straight lines.
Look at that. So clear yet muted.
The song itself is one you can sink into and let it pool around you and engulf you. It has unexpected depths of nostalgia and a fond disconnectedness that resonate, not powerfully, but in a dreamy way that fits in with the song.
I have never reached such heights.
I watched Closer for the first time when I was eleven years old. I realise now that it wasn’t an entirely appropriate film for an eleven year old to watch, but I watched it when it was playing on TV and that was a time when I thought that observing characters in books, films and other media would help me understand them better. I still do that but I understand that that isn’t really reliable. I remember being fascinated and frightened by all the complex, often dark drama that was happening in Closer and how nobody seemed to be ‘good’ in the traditional sense. Except Natalie Portman’s character. But I didn’t really interpret her as ‘good’, I saw her as someone caught up in these things, someone innocent. I ignored the ambiguity of her later scenes in the film and the uneasiness they caused at the time. This photograph of her taken by another character was one of my favourite scenes in the film. I remember being struck by how beautiful the potential of that photograph was. A single, pure teardrop running down her cheek.
But I’m looking at it now and I don’t see the teardrop. That disappointed me. To me the poignancy of that scene and of her character depended on the presence of an imaginary tear that I created. That’s so strange. I wonder what that says about me.
I recently went to see an exhibition of the work of an artist called Do Ho Suh (I am unsure whether I should put a hyphen between ‘Do’ and ‘Ho’ or not, but it seems that his name can be spelt both ways)
It was an installation of his version of a part of his home in New York done in fabric (Nylon, if I remember correctly). It is satisfyingly detailed in its sparseness and striking once you’ve examined it. Because it does need examination for a full appreciation of its effectiveness. For example, I looked at it through the doors and had an immediate impression of disappointment. But there’s something magical and otherworldly about it once you’ve walked around it. It is essentially a corridor of fabric hanging in a white room. It is out of place and disconnected and mysterious. When someone opens the doors and the fabric moves, you get a sense of transience. As if the whole thing is not real and is fading into nothingness. I feel a slight hesitance in referring to this part of his work as ‘sculptures’ because I feel it is too solid a word for these desolate sheets of translucent colours. I found a picture of it where you can see the door knob which was something that I particularly liked for some reason.
I have since then looked into his work and found out that he creates many different types of artworks, but these are the ones that I find most appealing and moving.
This staircase, for instance, is so surprising. It is so beautiful in its simplicity. The red is just right and is not jarring to the eye. It is both alien and familiar. Like finding yourself in a vast, strange city at nighttime.