Another early rise, though not as early as the flight that brought me here. Eleven nights in Marbella, and 21,000€ including the taxi from the airport. One new-ish top third of a face, recovery periods of days, weeks, fortnights, six weeks, months out to a year. Slow, slow, slow. Slow time. I look like me, but me that I recognise more. I feel like me, when I close my eyes and touch my forehead. Already a year just to get to here, already the fourth attempt on top of a lifetime of turning off hoping so I could ride out the disappointment of those previous failed attempts and the ocean of need to do this that preceded all of them.
Finally fucking did it. Finally fucking was able to do it. Alhamdulillah.
If this was the view from my balcony for a two-week holiday, I’d be well stoked, so I’ll pretend the recovery time here is that. It’s been a long time to get this far. Allegedly, there’s paella for dinner.
3:30am up and off to Flughafen Schönefeld, cheap easyJet and exit row seat for 3 hours to Malaga, taxi pickup to Marbella and further on to Puerto Banùs, 3 hours being scanned and having consultations while squalls blow in and beat the mountains behind the town into a dark haze, back to Marbella for a museum, because of course I do, fall asleep in an apartment by the marina early-evening, up again in the darkness for another pickup back to the airport, another flight and exit row seat, and Berlin’s loveable bus and U-Bahn home, 36 hours later. Yes, I did go for a ride after. Yes, that is the Matterhorn almost dead centre, flying over the border of Switzerland and Italy.
This year I haven’t had much enthusiasm to write about what I’m reading. Maybe that’s because I haven’t had much enthusiasm to write long blog posts in general, or because I’ve been a little too negative lately and tend to emphasise the things I haven’t enjoyed in a work over what I have. Some of these books I’ve enjoyed hugely, but can’t muster enough of a cheer to write a whole post about. Perhaps it’s habit. After years of writing about everything I read, my impulse is to say, nah fuck it, that’s enough. Who am I writing this for anyway, besides myself?
So, a small pile of books I read between February and April, alphabetically.
Two from Alastair Reynolds, he of the madness of Revenger, which I also read again during these months. He also of Slow Bullets. He’s best when he writes women as main characters. Chasm City is one of his Revelation Space novels, and I got a kick out of those. Elysium Fire is a sequel to The Prefect. I like Reynolds, in specific instances. Neither of these two really got me. See what I mean about negative?
Barbara Newman’s Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine I’m still plodding through. (like I’m still plodding through Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak’s An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Capitalism, 18 months later). Good stuff here, of that dense, Germanic mediæval stuff. Not easy reading, hence the plod.
Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate in the World: How Aborigines Made Australia, and Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? I read immediately post-Naarm. They cover similar ground but are complimentary rather than duplicating. They should be compulsory reading for all Australians, and I felt fucking ashamed at my ignorance reading these. Fucking ashamed. Another reason why I haven’t been writing about reading is if I did on these two, it’d be a long piece of anger against white invasion and genocide and erasing history. And I feel like so much of my life and the lives of friends and acquaintances is full with anger and fear these last years, ’cos it’s far from being over.
Devdutt Pattanaik’s Shikhandi and Other Queer Tales They Don’t Tell You is a rather sweet short collection of reading Hindu mythology for queer and trans stories. I have absolutely no way to evaluate the scholarship of Pattanaik, but still, one of the barely begun tasks is re-finding the diversity of selfhoods in pre-colonised cultures; we’ve always been here.
Fred Grimm’s »Wir wollen eine andere Welt« Jugend in Deutschland 1900-2010: Eine private Geschichte aus Tagebüchern, Briefen, Dokumenten. Zusammengestellt. has been on my shelves for ages. Katrin gave it to me as a present, and I’ve read bits and pieces of it. I’ve a heap of books I’ve never blogged that I didn’t read in the conventional start-to-finish way like this.
JY Yang. I think I read about them on io9, or maybe on one of the Asia-Pacific blogs I read. It was definitely in the context of an article or two on Singapore sci-fi / fantasy / speculative fiction, and coming off reading The Sea Is Ours: Tales from Steampunk Southeast Asia (which was awesome) so I was vaguely paying attention. I read these in the wrong order, ’cos I liked the cover of The Red Threads of Fortune more than The Black Tides of Heaven. I also liked the former more than the latter, but that’s partly my particular preferences. I seriously love JY Yang and will read anything they write.
I’ve got a whole ’nother stack of books I’ve read since then and not blogged. Maybe doing it like this is the way for me to go for now.
One of the three suspensions for which my climbing skills have been useful, the cliff-top tree above the gouged out bay where waves hit tide-line caves like the sound of distant artillery. Tree-climbing though isn’t one of my skills. It feels treacherous and slippery, especially with the apparently un-Majorca-like rain we’ve had every day but the first.
So I make myself useful with clambering around the boughs, covering Dasniya with clay, variously organising things like a good assistant on set, and taking what photos I can. I particularly liked the silhouetted trees and Dasniya forward of the grey clouds, and also found something funny – in a Dutch Masters or some such style – of the composition of Bernard and Eric talking together, with Antonie on obscured on camera and Dasniya grappling with the tree.
Later I enjoyed myself setting up anchors around a tree and then hanging over the side above still-turbulent waves and killingly sharp rocks.
The last day of Majorca, (written when I’m back in Berlin). More rain. It’s highly improbable to have so many days of greyness and rain in a row, and still more so a storm of the size we had, of which the effects linger. We went to Cala Mondragó (I think), to shoot Dasniya coming out of the ocean. Arriving, the beach was destroyed, detritus strewn up well past the sand, and where once was a beach was now a pile of seaweed and other decomposing things.
Back to Caló des Moro then, the beautiful cove we were in on the first day. Post-storm, the beach is also missing, which perhaps is the natural state, as the limestone is cut by the tides all the way to the end of the bay, well above where the sand was, suggesting any sandiness is of the ‘dumped by dredgers’ kind.
Setting up the anchor was a lot quicker today, with all the changes in how it would be shot – these were basically test shoots, as there are plans to return later in the year to get them when the ocean has returned to its pristine clarity. I spent most of the afternoon squatting far above the water, enjoying the view, while Dasniya and François the diver slogged through the cold water. It was a little like Parsifal: most of a day of setting up for 20 minutes of action.
The evening was eating the remainders in the fridge – Majorcan cheese is delectable, and the wine also – the usual night viewing of the day’s rushes, accompanied by a friend of Bernard who is a real estater in Santanyí. The last night in that beautiful studio bedroom, and then 5am darkness arising for the homeward-bound leg.
After the storm last night, woken in its depths with lightning and violent rumbling and thudding of waves, our plans for the day underwent much reconsideration, not the least because it was too dangerous for diving; the storm was still generating large swells in the evening, and the previous day’s clear turquoise bays were thick and cloudy with sediment and detritus.
Instead, we photographed and filmed the waves breaking on the promontories, smashing into the cliffs, spray hurled up as high as the houses above then falling in turbulent veils. Not a particularly large storm, windy days on the coast of Victoria churn the oceans just as much; it’s the shape of the bay, which funnels the waves, giving nowhere to go except to bash from all angles against each other and the rocks.
I joined in the videoing, and looking at some sites for things tomorrow, and in-between, turned my gaze to the minutia of the gardens. Layered down the slope of the underlying limestone, paths wind amongst a carefully tended wildness. In summer, it probably makes sense, the thin, small trees above baked earth; now, it seems in places almost like the high-altitude flora above the tree-line. Dasniya then spent some time in the pool, testing some underwater footage we’ll be shooting later this evening.
And earlier, some not happy news: Heppenheim for this year is most likely not going to happen, as there is unexpected street works, of the digging and heavy machinery type.