Tag Archives: literature

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris

(Disclaimer: Today I felt like doing a little reminiscing. Forgive the indulgence.)

In all my travels, one of the places that remains nearest and dearest to my heart is the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris. Situated on the left bank directly across the street from the Seine, this bookshop has been a literary haven for Anglophones in France since before my generation was born.

I stayed for less than two weeks, but somehow, it made an almost physical impression on me. And it certainly did nothing to diminish my overly-romanticized understanding of Paris.

We did the whole shebang: red wine by the Seine, late-night city walks, riding around on a moped through the crazy Parisian roads, eating a baguette and cheese for breakfast, chess games on the cobblestones, bathing only once or twice a week, watching buskers at the foot of the Notre Dame, and reading and writing and reading and writing all the damn day.

The shop and its owner, George Whitman, both have an impressive and fascinating history. But that aside, this place simply feels CHARGED, if you know what I mean. Like anything is possible, everyone is a genius, and everything, including tragedy, is beautiful.

37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris. Next time you’re in town, go there. I urge you.

(Images from the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore website.)

Superwomen with Style

As I’m gearing up for my final day of finals, I’ve decided to gift myself a little pick-me-up by sharing a photographer whom many already know and love: Rodney Smith. Possibly one of the most creative and versatile photographers I have ever come across, Rodney Smith’s work is a bottomless pot of inspiration for me whenever my well has run dry. To me, his photographs are a wonderful visual blend of fantasy, vintage fashion, and literature. And he’s got a sense of humor, to boot.

For this post I’ve chosen a few of his many beautiful photographs, all of women. They all look so powerful, don’t they? I want to be one of these smart, savvy females when I grow up…

Don’t forget to check out the rest of his work here….

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Ode to the Titans: The Writers Who Run Our World

Imagine a world where George Orwell, Ayn Rand and Ray Bradbury had collective control of The Human Remote (see Figures 12.1 and 17.2). The Homo sapiens dystopia would be complete with brainwashing clinics, assisted suicide spas and hidden stashes of synthetic candy. They have complete control, mind you. The Remote sees all, knows all, and controls all. It’s like Bono, in that sense.

Figure 12.1 – The Human Remote (not to scale)

Assume for the purposes of our thought experiment that we no longer have free will. You may believe this already. We have become droids, devoid of sex hormones and/or personal gumption – EXCEPT, of course, for the few lucky protagonists who are enlightened enough to live the reality of their own society’s hell-hole. Just for now, let’s assume that the only two non-droid, hormonal, cocky bastards on earth are: you. And me.

Now, who would rule our wonderful little hornet’s nest?

We need at least two – just shy of a monarchical system, but not so bold as to attempt oligarchy. Two is perfect, and just the right number for perpetuating the world’s obsession with Cartesian thought processes.

How about…. Rupert Murdoch and J.K. Rowling?

Why Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon, who has assets in more companies than the Old Woman in the Shoe had children? He does business in portraying world events. And why J.K. Rowling? If you don’t already know of her business in portraying imaginative landscapes, I’m impressed that you found your way to the world wide web. In short, one influences how we think about the world. And the other just influences how we think. Who could be better at complete mind control?

Figure 4.3 – The Dynamic Duo

In the spirit of Plato’s Republic, let’s set up our theoretical society where Murdoch and Rowling sit on their golden thrones. We will give them complete control. They have The Remote. They have the all access pass to our brains, psyches, and super-sub-subconscious thoughts.

The paradox here is that, although literary giants ruled our lands, the cities and towns would be overwrought with “firemen” set on burning any written word, right down to the last kindergarten art project. In this world, we would only be allowed to watch Fox News. The word “muggle” would be incorporated into our vernacular, referring to those who sport bumper stickers on their Subaru’s or choose not to get involved in quasi-moralistic battles of magic on the lawns of ancient Scottish castles. When we weren’t thinking conservative thoughts, we would go on flights of fancy in our heads, zooming over Wall Street on imagined broomsticks.

We would of course sip Butterbeer on cold evenings while discussing the Tea Party, and our children (if droids can have children) would all listen attentively while polishing their wands. I mean gavels. Wand-gavels. Some society members could make propaganda posters out of these idealized family fun evenings. The children, as well as ourselves, would all be named after illustrious members of the Order of the Phoenix, or alternatively, after Australian marsupials. Combination names or nicknames (i.e. “Koala McKinnon” or “Molly Wallaby”) would also be acceptable. The society would perpetuate itself, us droids would somehow make little droids, and the Murdoch-Rowling corporation would reign eminent over the land.

Figure 17.2 – Ayn Rand dooming us all to a twisted purgatory

As for you and me, we have only a few options: A) Secretly rent a single-room apartment to hide out in on Sunday afternoons, B) Dig a very big tunnel shelter, or C) Run away into the last forest on earth.