Global Warming

It’s unbelievably hot even now, and it’s almost midnight. This is a summer as the seldom come, but perhaps this will be the rule soon. There’s no doubt that the weather has become unpredictable, and that isn’t at all positive.

Have we reached the point of no return or is there still a chance to sort out the mess we humans have created? It’s difficult not to doubt our ability to clear up the mess. After all, we worked on it for centuries. Not funny. The way things develop causes me alarm, and not only me. The great ideas that people develop to set things right, partly go under because of lacking funding, partly, because there are large concerns wishing to maintain status-quo. It still isn’t clear to many that once we’ve killed all the fish and devastated the earth there won’t be anything but money left: and nobody can thrive on eating money. It isn’t easy to believe that this world’s capitalists want to make survival impossible. On the other hand, their actions speak for themselves. Turning everything into a question of money will dig humanity a grave in the long run. Will the usual six feet under be enough to cover our ecological sins? Who knows?

We know only this: the earth is under considerable stress, but the arms manufacturers, the upper (rich) one per cent, the medical giants, the politicians, the religious fanatics, the cigarette and soft drinks companies, all pull in one direction: profit. No matter what happens: Nach uns die Sinnflut (when we’re gone: who cares). If the poles melt, we can sell more ice-cubes. If an atomic disaster hits, we have shelters (if we belong to the right group). At the same time, dedicated and thoughtful people invent anything from eatable use-and-throw-away cutlery to solar panels. Everything they do, they execute with one sole purpose: saving this earth.

Hoping and praying isn’t enough now. We need to clean our oceans, we need to counteract the climate change, we need to adjust our thinking from greed to fellowship. If we don’t we’re set to take the tumble like so many cultures before us. The worst part of this is that we may be the one culture that takes the environment down with us. Landfill sites, pollution (atomic as well as chemical), waste: from food to plastic, from water to land, all of this will bring on a disaster of a scale we can’t imagine. If we can, we certainly close our eyes and our minds towards this knowledge. Is there still hope? Maybe, but with every day we wonder and hesitate the smaller our options become. What can we do? We can reduce personal waste, we can refuse to buy damaging materials, we can recycle, repair and care. But all that will make a microscopic dent in the destruction set to happen, if we can’t work together to save our earth.

 

 

© HMH, 2018

Apple-blossoms

 

Bumblebees, drunk and enraptured,

Taste the sweetness of white and blushing

Apple-blossoms.

The orchard buzzes with light

Among spring-green leaves.

Spider webs add lace-trimming

To gnarled old branches

That dream of fruitfulness.

In the centre of each blossom

Lies a jewel

Sparkling in the early sun.

 

Out of the blue

A shower descends

And blossom leaves fall like snow on the ground.

 

But among the leaves new buds open their pink mouths

Welcoming bees and sunrays and

Fruitfulness

 

Camille Pissaro, Apple Trees in Blossom

 

© HMH, 2018

Project Butterfly

Several years ago, I made a clothing- and costume-project based on butterflies. It involved making sketches of a peacock butterfly in pencil and aquarelle and analysing its colours.

 

Having done that, it was time to think of how to present the ‘peacock’ without losing its shape. In my early sketches, I went overboard and used too much fabric in my imagination. They had to be pared down:

Considerably.

I believe this works better. Next, I turned my specimen around and experimented with the duller colours on the ‘inside’.

Afterwards, it was time to go full out and use all those brilliant peacock colours.

Personally, this is my favourite, but I never got round to sewing it. I had no idea how to transform it from picture to fabric. Not at that time. If I were to experiment with this project now, I’d probably use silk and silk-painting techniques. Unfortunately, I don’t have funds or time for such a project at present.

My last sketch did make it into a finished costume.

 

I made the wings of tulle, the headdress was jersey, with wire inside the satin antennas. The costume itself was made as a jumpsuit, and the wings attached to a waistcoat.

 

© HMH, 1984, 2018

Professional Author?

What transforms a writer into an author? Does being an author turn a writer into a professional?

 

Not too long ago, somebody told me that writing is an — expensive — hobby. That made me wonder when an author can claim to be a professional. Is it just a question of sales? Do you have to be a best-seller to be a ‘professional’? Could it be enough to be dedicated and write every day?

I have no spontaneous answers but will try to find adequate answers.

In my humble opinion, being a professional author isn’t a question of sales. That would make any celebrity who decides to dabble in authorship an instant professional: celebrities sell. The question is whether they dedicated time and work to their writing or if they went to a ghost-writer and came out with an instant success. If they did indeed write and edit and sweat over a manuscript, I doff my hat to them. Well done indeed.

Then there are the dilettantes. They love to write. They never stop to think about how what they write comes across. They pour out their feelings for all to behold. Met with critique, they rage and rant. It isn’t right that they should research their material or check grammar and spelling. If confronted with mistakes they tell you it’s immaterial if mobile phones were generally used in 1980, or if women wore crinolines in 1802. As long as they write their fantasy and feel good about it, they’re great authors. Surprisingly, some of these have success, for a while.

These are just a few examples. I believe: most authors would agree with me that it takes more than enthusiasm to write. It is hard work. There’s no way around writing every day. Imagine a professional piano soloist, who doesn’t practise daily. It would never work: pianists must keep their muscles supple and their touch precise. Sounds familiar?

Authors may not be speedy typists, but they need imaginative muscle and a flair for handling a plot. This applies whether one writes fiction or non-fiction. A sense of style may be God-given, but my conviction is that it takes more than talent to write well. We can’t only rely on editors to make it right. If we don’t do the work from day to day, we won’t improve. If we don’t improve, where is the craft?

Good authors read. They read, and digest the written word, like cows on pasture. According to Lin Yutang, it takes three or four ‘liaisons’ with favourite authors for a literary lover to emerge as an author.

Not even that is enough to make a professional author. These days, the indie movement may confuse standards. Are independent authors better or worse than established ones? There’s no conclusive answer. Many publishers are wary of taking chances on new and/or experimental writers: does that take away the merit of being ambitious and complex? That would be a descent from literature into crowd-pleasing.

Where does that leave the aspiring author? Perhaps, there’s only one answer to this riddle. There is only one type of authors that count. Those are the ones who didn’t give up.

We write because we must. We battle to find the right words. We’re haunted by self-doubt. We struggle to sell our books. We are fiercely independent. We go against the grain. We write and write and write. We don’t let critique or adversity stop our quest for writing the perfect story, the ultimate fantasy, a profound insight, something amazing.

 

 

© HMH, 2018

Lily

Flower of virgins,

Flower of purity:

White as ghostly fingers that caress its soft petals.

Flower of penitence,

Flower of humility

That scorches as white-hot embers.

Flower of obedience,

Flower of piety,

Bowing its head under storms of virtue.

Flower of vanity,

Flower of cruelty,

Refusing to yield to ardent prayers.

Flower of lust,

Flower of shame,

Left on the ground, unable to rise.

Flower of forgiveness,

Flower of trust,

Bringing back clarity and closing the loop

 

 

© HMH, 2018

A Digital Prison?

What is the world coming to? Have we sold our souls to the world wide web? In danger of sounding reactionary, I must voice some concerns about today’s society.

Let’s face it: cultural activities aren’t highly ranked these days. We live in a thoroughly materialistic world, everything is about wealth and consumerism. The few people, who want something more — or something different, have but one choice. They must find a way to override society. In a way, that forces them to forget about being creative. Is the only option getting stinking rich? It’s hardly an option as there are too many stinking rich people already. One can be certain that they don’t want to share their spare cash.

What happened? Why did this major shift towards materialism occur? It could be a question of technology. Look around, everybody has a mobile, a tablet or a laptop — or all of the above. Many invest in ‘smart’ home robotic vacuum cleaners as well as fancy machines to do every possible household activity. A lot of these appliances have their reason and function, which is well and good. All the same, there are clear borders between sensible and going technology mad. That is only one side of the problem though. It gets ominously apparent that, the more it develops, more people get addicted to the web, to their smartphones, their tablets. These days, it isn’t unusual that people don’t chat. They’re too busy watching their feeds.

Make no mistake: I adore the social media. It is a great way connect for social as well as business purposes. But there’s no doubt it can be overdone. Do we want to become zombies who only live through our smart-phones? Do we want to change all personal contacts for digital counterparts? Is that the kind of life we want?

These are valid questions. There must be something wrong, when two individuals sit across from one another, both deep in digital exchange. What’s the purpose of sitting together in this way? Each person isolated in a virtual world. People can get involved in major incidents through being unable to take their eyes off their screens. Meaning, there must be times, when it is better to be up, close and personal. Once we can manage to separate digital, virtual, and real, we will stop being slaves of our machines. Some people fear robots. In a way, there’s no need for that. Through our digital habits, we’re close to becoming our own robots. In other words, shut down the virtual media from time to time.

 

© HMH, 2018