The end of the year is coming. I thought it would be fun to make a summary of what were my favorite things this year. Some of them I knew for years, and some I discovered just recently.
Book: The Rise of Lykos by William Theodore Savage (2018)
I have waited so impatiently for this book to come out, and I am amazed with how it turned out. It exceeded my expectations. It’s been a long time since a book really kept me awake at night, because I was so anxious to finish it and find out what happens next. It hit me completely unexpectedly. You think you know what’s going on, then suddenly it’s chaos. But everything fits together perfectly, there’s no inconsistency, pointlessness, or anything that I often find in literature of fiction.
The characters are lovable. The most important part is that they are real. Nobody is queer for the sake of being queer, diversity and representation is perfectly natural, presented in a-matter-of-fact style. Characters aren’t just two-dimensional, shallow background for the protagonist. Everyone has their own story, character, and motivations. Men and women are presented as equals – none is superior to another. They are just people.
Besides that, it was outstanding to me how a debuting, young author could so expertly control the reader’s attention. Where he wants it, when he wants it, there it is. I don’t want to say more in case i spoil the fun for anyone.
Mr Savage is a beloved person of mine, and I am very proud to be able to honestly praise his work, for it made a big impact on me. Also, his snarky humor charms me, and entertains me for life. I can’t wait for the second book of this series.
William, please. I MUST know what happens next.
You can check this book out here, and if you’d like to see more of his work, I recommend Mayhem at Miskatonic: August Beginnings (2019), and his Raven and Wolf story that is still ongoing and updated on a daily basis.
Compositor: Abel Korzeniowski
I got familiar with his work purely by accident. A photographer who shot me a year or two ago, recorded some short videos of me posing and put them into a music video. For me he chose a soundtrack from TV show Penny Dreadful called ‘The Back Hand of God‘. I loved the piece so much, and how it resonated with me, it quickly became one of my favorites. I often listen to the whole soundtrack on loop. His music is why I took interest in the show in the first place, and I absolutely loved the theme.
Here you can listen to the whole soundtrack:
Movie: Joker (2019)
As I explained a little in my post about Joker, I utterly love this movie. There was nothing much unique about it, all the concepts have been found somewhere else, yet the way they have been put together, with all that aesthetic packaging, make a very powerful impact. Not to mention Joaquin Phoenix, who became my favorite actor, especially thanks to his animal rights activism. His way of being, his voice, face, everything is exceptionally captivating.
I mean, how can you look away from such adorable human being?
He is just absolutely charming, and relatable in many ways.
I am always looking for relatable content. I appreciate it the most when art directly corresponds to what lies in my heart, that display parts of my memories and emotions they bring me. And if there’s something I understand perfectly well it’s living when you’re bullied, alone, and dealing with mental illness. The worst is actually dealing with internal rage and hatred that bullying leaves in you. After many years of it, it’s still there. Sometimes it develops into a certain need for justice. If you recover, you might become an ultimate protector of the underdogs. But when gone bad, you become this totalitarian, violent vigilante. The line is incredibly thin, and the tiniest thing can push it to the negative extreme.
The irony of the movie is that it convinces nobody. I personally don’t mind, it’s just a difference in life experiences. For those who can relate to Joker, he is a very important figure that got worldwide recognized. It’s comforting, it’s an outlet for their struggles. But for those who can’t relate – they don’t and won’t understand what was the point. I read discussions about the movie a lot, and it’s like people are talking about a completely different movie. For me it sounds like there’s this video about how people are violently killing other people, and there’s a discussion about what colors in the background should have been used instead. We just live in two different worlds.
The music is also beautiful and going straight to the heart. Hildur Guðnadóttir deserves all the awards for it. Here is my favorite piece that I wish I could listen to 24/7:
TV Show: Parfum (Netflix)
Now this show is very interesting, it was inspired by the novel ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ by Patrick Süskind (1985). The novel was previously adapted to a movie by the same title (2006):
Perfume’s spirit is present through the entire show, that takes place in modern times. We are presented with five characters, their present lives, and their childhood, when their interest with scents sparked by one of them reading the novel out loud to the rest.
What I love about the show is that it’s raw, brutal, and fascinating. It touches the biggest taboos of human nature, and presents them in an uncompromising way. For some it certainly it might be too heavy not to look away.
The mystery is being solved piece by piece by Nadja Simon, a police investigator. It starts off with a brutal murder of Katarina, a freespirited singer who has been friends with the main characters, and a person who caused many emotions around herself, and unknowingly invited danger into her life. The investigation steadily uncovers dark events from the past, one more twisted than another.
Dreamland – Edgar Allan Poe, 1946
Sheeted Memories of the Past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.
Song: The Islander – Nightwish
One of those beautiful pieces that grabs you by the heart to pull it out, brings you nostalgic reminiscence, and makes you want to sing. I wish this would be played on my funeral. I certainly hope that my life will be able to be summarized by exactly this song. It also makes me think of my father, his life and work, and it touches me greatly, bringing tears to my eyes. It especially fits that most of my family, including my father, have been, or are seamen. Sailing is put in stone into my family history. It’s a history of adventure, hard work, danger, and longing for the home, and the loved ones left behind. Rejoining with them, and bringing them safety and love, has always been the dream, the main goal. And it’s always been achieved. My life is the continuation of this proud lineage. I can’t express my gratitude towards my family with words, but my tears of joy do a decent job.
The song also brings to mind just a pure spirit, the goodness in human heart, and shows how the life worth living is the one spent on kindness. When you feel that your time here is worthwhile, you don’t mind the fact that you’ll be sooner or later forgotten. Being kind eases all typical human insecurities about death.
Lullaby: Mir Da’len Somniar
Elgara vallas, da’len – Sun sets, little one,
Melava somniar – Time to dream
Mala tara aravas – Your mind journeys,
Ara ma’desen melar – But I will hold you here
Iras ma ghilas, da’len – Where will you go, little one
Ara ma’nedan ashir – Lost to me in sleep?
Dirthara lothlenan’as – Seek truth in a forgotten land
Bal emma mala dir – Deep with in your heart
Tel’enfenim, da’len – Never fear, little one,
Irassal ma ghilas – Wherever you shall go
Ma garas mir renan – Follow my voice
Ara ma’athlan vhenas – I will call you home
Ara ma’athlan vhenas – I will call you home
This beautiful lullaby has been recorded with lyrics from World of Thedas vol. 2, which is a comic book placed in Dragon Age universum. I can’t wait to sing this to my children. Certainly it’s going to be a better idea than singing them any other lullabies I love, as they are pretty unsettling, and mainly originate from horror movies or games.
Poem: Antigonish – William Hughes Mearns (1899)
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away!
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…
Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…
The poem was inspired by ghost stories. Ghosts, the paranormal, for me it’s about something else. Anyone who’s ever experienced psychotic episodes knows what I’m talking about. Imagine living a life where ghost stories may not be real, yet they are real to you. You know it’s just your head playing tricks. But when it happens, it feels too real. I find comfort in works of art that make it seem like it’s something universal and profound. I love suggestions that there’s actually something paranormal about it.
One might say I am romanticizing mental illness. To which I say – that’s true, I am. As much as I am a strong-headed believer that ‘mental illness‘ is a nonsense, and all of it is caused or manifested by physical changes in the neurological system, and I usually get very upset when someone is trying to make it something tragically beautiful, trendy, all that bullshit that makes actual patients’ lives intolerable, sometimes living with it gets so frightening and confusing, I like to either make jokes about it, or ease my discomfort with horror/paranormal movies and shows.
The paranormal narrative makes it ridiculous. And when something is ridiculous it becomes easy to laugh at. Quite like the boggart monster in Harry Potter.
When I indulge in horror, macabre, and all other obscurities, on one hand it does fuel my imagination for the worse, but at the same time my imagination can be fueled by any, even the stupidest thing, but on the other hand it makes me more mentally fortified. When I go to sleep after watching a scary movie, I feel good. For some reason it makes it easier when it comes to surviving a night when it gets really bad, and I am struggling with scary hallucinations.
It really is living the nightmare. So getting used to them, finding symbolism in them, treating them like a movie – I personally find it comforting.
Another thing is that I’ve always liked immersing myself in familiar things. When I’m angry and I see somebody acting out on anger, be it shouting, or killing people, doesn’t matter, I feel better and my anger is eased. It’s like somebody is putting my emotions out there, so that I don’t have to. This way, when I am reading about other person’s experience with psychosis, it eases my anxiety. Especially since living this kind of life is difficult mainly because of other people and how much you are unrelatable to them. You feel like you can never really express what’s going on. They either experienced it too, or they just won’t get it.
An evil spirit from a horror movie usually has a tragic past behind it, there’s a cause to its madness, cruelty, and pain. It’s relatable. And when you can relate to your nightmares, it helps you sleep.
So if you struggle with anything, not just relating to mental health, and you find art to be a way of expressing yourself and coping, be it words, sounds or images, please don’t get discouraged by people who don’t understand it. Continue going the God’s work, you might be unaware how much you are helping others who relate to your art.
Game: The Untitled Goose Game
You simply must watch this.
If you don’t agree that this is the best masterpiece human race has ever created, worry not:
You’re just entirely, and shamefully wrong.
Graphics: There is no game with more sophisticated and eye-pleasing graphics, and all graphics designers who think that their games are going to be better because of 3D and thousands hours spent on animating hair – they are also very wrong.
Story line: I personally cannot imagine a better story line than being a sneaky goose trickster that is out there to cause mayhem and misfortune upon puny mortals.
The protagonist: An absolute unit.
The antagonist: You.