diary: aim to just know the path you take

olive tree

Abandoning all plans, I’ve started a novel novel, the first sentence of which I rather like: “you may imagine me.” There are manuscript pages blown all across my room. It reminds me of that scene in Henry and June. Always number your pages!

I have found an out-of-the-way little seaside café that plays Charles Trenet and Edith Piaf on repeat, where I can drink endless glasses of tea and write for as long as I want and no one pays me any heed. I am, of course, back in my omphalos. But you have no need to be by the Mediterranean; you can recreate it in your own homephalos: turn up the thermostat, plug in a fan, diffuse the scents of jasmine, honeysuckle and labdanum, pick a playlist, and maybe layer on some ambience et voilà!

I’m enjoying spending my evenings practicing Bargue plates and studying Latin, which makes me sound like a retired schoolmaster, I know. Meanwhile my dreams for the past few nights have seen processions of the people who have loved me, even some old unreturned crushes I’d forgotten about. I wake up feeling so loved, not by other people so much as by my sweet unconscious who brings me these messages! I never suspected I would grow to be such a romantic! Or perhaps everyone’s sceptical af when they’re a teen.

I think living through even one season of your life teaches you that… well, that there are seasons… when you open like a flower and close like a flower, when you shake off all your leaves and are naked, and when there are things growing at your fingertips and you’re shivering with anticipation.

It’s my birthday week, which is my excuse for being so sentimental.

Poetry

A reader gifted me the following charming acrostic sonnet…

JUST FOR YOU
by Leon Enriquez

Truth has a way to shine a light,
Opt thus to see what yet may be.
Each strand a play and glimpse of sight,
Voice in clear spree can set soul free;
Ask curious touch to show you how.
Aim to just know the path you take:
Dream offers much right here and now,
Etch a fine show with what you make;
Vouch for beauty as wonder starts,
Embrace sure change in your life quest;
Reach poise savvy with a warm heart,
Enjoy the strange in journey fest;
Live with pure grace the face you own,
Love floods your space with parts unknown.

I couldn’t have written a better memorandum!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before (after all, I tend to consider myself a “secret sonneteer”), but for the past many years I’ve been working on a collection called, The Beginning of a Lifelong Romance: sonnets to myself. I’ve had fun with rhyme scheme monograms, but so far not with acrostics. This was a lovely sign to receive.

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You are on your path.

Translation

forbidden love

A few years ago I began translating a fin de siècle Ottoman-Turkish novel (you may have seen it in the Coterie), and I’ve finally returned to complete the project. I can’t promise regular updates – some chapters just take longer than others – but I will be posting chapters as and when I finish them.

Click here to read Chapter 1

It seems appropriate to publish the translation in this manner, considering the original novel was serialised too. The title is Forbidden Love (original: Aşk-ı Memnu), which is precisely what the story is about. It’s set in late 19th-century Istanbul, and it deals chiefly with the relationships between a set of genteel, wealthy characters. The style will be familiar to you from other European and American fiction of the time, and I think you will be impressed by Uşaklıgil’s skill in delving into his characters’ thoughts and emotions.

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My Summer Reading List

📖 Experiencing Narrative Worlds by Richard Gerrig
📖 Linguistic Guide to English Poetry by Geoffrey Leech
📖 Esmond by William Thackeray
📖 Shamanism by Mircea Eliade (this was on last year’s list too, but I never got around to it!)
📖 Idol of Suburbia by Annette Federico
📖 Imperium by Robert Harris
📖 The Ionian Mission by Patrick O’Brian
📖 Forbidden Love by Halit Ziya Uşaklıgil
📖 A Romance of Two Worlds by Marie Corelli

Do drop me any recommendations on Instagram!

Not-Beautiful

The first time I watched this video, I thought, “they could have made this really beautiful”, but the more I see, listen, and think, the more this “not-beautiful” gathers meaning, and shifts in its semiotic square.

It is, of course, very purposeful and beautiful in its not-beauty, and I can’t wait for the new album!

“What is the not-beautiful? Our own secret hunger to be loved is the not-beautiful. Our disuse and misuse of love is the not-beautiful. Our dereliction in loyalty and devotion is unlovely, our sense of soul-separateness is homely, our psychological wants, inadequacies, misunderstandings, and infantile fantasies are the not-beautiful. Additionally, the Life/Death/Life nature, which births, destroys, incubates, and births again, is considered by our cultures the not-beautiful.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estés