Agnès Varda & her joie de vivre

Agnès Varda

Like Hercules Poirot, she was Belgian. Agnès Varda, film director and installation artist, studied at the Sorbonne with Gaston Bachelard who introduced her to the poetics of space. On her own, Agnès studied William Faulkner and his juxtapositions. Already a photographer, Agnès decided to make a film inspired by Faulkner’s 1939 short story “Wild Palms”. She was only 25 and had no film experience but that didn’t stop her. The result was La Pointe Courte, a film many critics claim anticipated the French New Wave aka Nouvelle Vague. And for the next 65 years, Agnès was an unarrestable energy.

Last year, at the age of 89, Agnès was the oldest nominee in Oscar history for her film Faces Places made with JR, “photograffeur” and street artist. She also gave her solidarity to the #MeToo movement.

Like an unexpected cool breeze on a summer day, last year I discovered Agnès and immediately fell in love with her joie de vivre and her capacity to squeeze life like a lemon not letting even one drop go to waste.  Her non-stop curiosity kept Agnès joyously alive. She inspired me so much that, while on our lovely island of Paros, I made a graphic essay about her (see below).

Yesterday, Agnès death was announced. Tristesse immense. Au revoir Magical Woman and fais de beaux rêves. Thank you, Agnès, for inspiring women to live a full and joyful life no matter what their age.

“I went from one film to another, just trying to be an artist and I never saw my work as a career.”  Agnès

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda

 

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Awake with Pythagoras

Cool Breeze, the age of reconfiguration

Pythagoras told his devotees: Let sleep not come upon thy languid eyes until the day’s actions have been reviewed. And, if  you’ve done something wrong, you should feel great alarm within. So the other night I got in bed and started thinking about my day. Realizing that I’d made a few mistakes, the Great Alarm went off and I couldn’t fall asleep.

The next day I was tired and made even more mistakes. This led me to create a theorem of my own: Sleep, don’t think because insomnia is not conducive to good behaviour.

I have already posted about remedies for insomnia HERE. However, since posting, I’ve found another means of inducing sleep. It’s quite simple and, for me, works 90% of the time.

Cool Breeze, the age of reconfiguration

While lying down, inhale expanding the diaphragm as much as possible.  Hold your breath for two counts then exhale with your lips pursed. Push out all of the air by pulling in your belly. You should start yawning.  Repeat 5 times then focus on positive and not negative thoughts. It generally takes me c. 5 minutes to fall asleep afterwards.

Related: to fall asleep, it helps to trigger the parasympathetic mode for deep relaxation The Vagus Nerve and Your Breath + A Lot of Nerve: The Antidote To Modern Life, Vagus Nerve Stimulation + intermittent hypoxia

 

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Adapting to the New Me

Age transforms us and it’s not always easy to adapt to this change. That’s why when I look in the mirror, who do I see?  Sometimes it’s her, sometimes it’s me. (via Cool Breeze)

Boo b

Photos from Advanced Style give me the impression that I’m not aging properly.  I don’t wear bows or bangles or eccentric shoes or all the colours of the rainbow.  When I go out to shop for groceries or take my daily walk, my basic winter look is always the same—practical and total black save for my neck scarf. However, in my defence, I never leave the house without earrings, eyeliner and perfume.  The basics.

The other morning on my walk I was intrigued by the trees that lined the sidewalk.  Same trees, same sidewalk but with many differences. Some trees seem to be more disciplined and self-contained whereas others are rebellious and crack the asphalt. Some trees wing adaptation on their own. Others have external intervention.

City Sidewalk

Adapting is about interrelating with the world around you.  Some of us adapt actively.  Others passively. Nazism is a good example.

Had Darwin had been walking with me, maybe he would have said: It doesn’t matter how you adapt as long as you survive. But survival has its nuances.

Adapting to change has so many variables that it can’t be standardized. And today I feel like cracking the asphalt.

City Sidewalk

 

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Above all, respect yourself.

Morning walks give me a chance to interrelate with my neighbourhood. And, as many urban walkers will agree, cars (and their drivers) are a nuisance. They make noise, pollute the air, and are arrogant in terms of space appropriation. Like the car pictured below that parked on the pedestrian crossing in front of Parco Nemorense.

To reprimand the driver for illicit parking, in Rome it is not uncommon for someone to lift up the windshield wipers. It is a non-violent way to let the driver know that his lack of respect for others has not gone unnoticed.

Mutual respect is a kind of glue that keeps a society together and functional. Without taking the needs of others seriously, why should your needs be given special consideration.

Once public humiliation was a means of punishing someone for disgraceful behaviour—pillorying, flogging the feet, publicly shaving off a woman’s hair, the wearing of a scarlet letter, etc.

But reprimanding should be done with good taste. And respect. Otherwise, what’s the purpose?

Pythagoras, Respect Yourself

Pythagoras of Samos left his island for Crotone, a coastal town. Here he founded his school, the Pythagoreans. All the fresh sea air got his dendrites growing and he came up with many new ideas. But although he believed in theorems, he did not believe in democracy. Pythagoras’ opponents set out to destroy him.  One day they chased after him and the philosopher ran and ran until he arrived at a field of fava beans.  Believing that these beans provoked a blood disorder, he was afraid to run across the field and stopped. This gave his enemies time to capture and later kill him.

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Villa Ada or Virginia Woolf?

Villa Ada

entrance to Villa Ada on the Salaria

Now, where the ancient city of Antemnae once stood, is the lush and large Roman park known as Villa Ada. In 1872, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoia bought the land and, for a few years, used the property’s pre-existing villa as the royal residence. Today this structure is now the home of the Egyptian Embassy.

Villa Ada

Since it’s not far from where we live, we often go to Villa Ada for a walk. Sometimes I naughtily clip leaves from the numerous laurel bushes. Bay leaf is full of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and iron.  Even though it’s mostly known for flavouring roasts, bay leaf can be used to make a tea that eases joint pain. Putting a couple of leaves in flour and other grain containers can ward off weevils. I use my “booty” to fill produce netting pouches that are then placed in kitchen cupboards. The smell of bay leaf seems to scare insects away.

Bay Leaf

People go to Villa Ada to jog or take long walks. An oasis of green, it is a perfect place to escape City Stress without leaving town. The park is densely populated by tall, dramatic umbrella pines that paste themselves against the sky. Their presence can be somewhat overwhelming.

But not everyone has the same desire for nature or casual walks. Virginia Woolf, like my friend Ute, needed a destination when she walked. After writing about Mrs. Dalloway’s walks around London, Virginia wrote “Street Haunting”, an essay exploring the voyeuristic aspects of walking around town. Not a flaneuse, the narrator justifies her walk by creating the need to buy a lead pencil from a shop across town. As she passes strangers on the street, she imagines their lives.  “What greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality.  To feel that one is not tethered to a single mind, but can put on briefly for a few minutes the bodies and minds of others.”

Virginia Woolf Walks

walking and an Age of Reconfiguration excerpt

Walking in parks is a means of interrelating with nature whereas walking city streets is a means of interrelating with others. Either way, walking always is a means of interrelating with the self.

In the early 1950s, Dodie Smith, author of I Capture the Castle and 1001 Dalmatians, was in a slump. To help herself cope, she memorized poems and would recite them as if saying a rosary while taking sunset walks.

The maxim “when in doubt, walk it out” is evergreen.

(Cynthia Korzekwa © 2019 )

Related: film director Luchino Visconti lived across the street from Villa Ada.  And writer Giorgio Manacorda used Villa Ada as the setting for his “giallo” (mystery novel) about a homeless poet murdered there.

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