Things That Could Not Be Improved # 10: Kenna Takahashi, Anne Frank, Lucy Howard-Taylor, Irène Némirovsky, Evelyn Waugh, Bruce Barone, Patric Shaw, Frida Kahlo, and tetheredto

The above photo was posted by Kenna Takahashi.

This is the 10th edition of “Things That Could Not Be Improved,” a grouping of things that need not be, or could not be, improved.  I’m not a proponent of perfection, but I love seeing well-conceived and well-crafted artworks:

(Click on the images if you wish to view them individually or larger.)

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I was reading the Diary of Anne Frank today and it reminded me of the book “Biting Anorexia” which I recently read and reviewed. 

From the Diary of Anne Frank, Thursday, March 16, 1944:

“I’m closed up tighter than a drum.  Above all, I have to maintain my air of confidence.  No one must know that my heart and mind are constantly at war with each other.  Up to now reason has always won the battle, but will my emotions get the upper hand?  Sometimes I fear they will, but more often I actually hope they do! . . . Anne is crazy, but then these are crazy times and even crazier circumstances. 
     The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings;  otherwise, I’d absolutely suffocate.”

In some ways, modern memoirists, like Lucy Howard-Taylor, have chosen to express their fears and contradictions publically instead of only writing them in their diaries.  And I believe the rest of us benefit from being able to read such honest and revealing struggles.

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In Irène Némirovsky’s novel Suite Francaise, the character of Gabriel Corte, who is a novel writer, says:

“I keep telling you, you don’t pay enough attention to the minor characters.  A novel should be like a street full of strangers, where no more than two or three people are known to us in depth.  Look at writers like Proust.  They knew how to use minor characters to humiliate, to belittle their protagonists.  In a novel, there is nothing more valuable than teaching the lesson of humility to the heroes.  Remember, in War and Peace, the little peasant girls who cross the road, laughing, in front of Prince Andrei’s carriage?  He speaks to them, directly, and the reader’s imagination is at once lifted;  now there is not just one face, not just one soul.  He portrays the many faces in the crowd.”

The book’s narrative voice then says about Corte:

“He hated the war;  it threatened much more than his lifestyle or peace of mind.  It continually destroyed the world of the imagination, the only world where he felt happy.  It was like a shrill, brutal trumpet shattering the fragile crystal walls he’d taken such pains to build in order to shut out the rest of the world. . .

. . . He asked to see the newspapers.  She gave them to him without a word.  They came in from the terrace and he leafed through the papers, a dark look on his face.  “All in all,” he said, “nothing new.”  . . . He went white with anger.  “Listen to me!  I don’t want to hear anything.  Tomorrow, tomorrow will be soon enough.  If I hear any bad news now (and it can only be bad with these c**** in government) my momentum will be lost, my inspiration blocked.” pp. 15-16.

Commentary:  I have from time to time expressed similar sentiments.  We live in a “Front Page Headline” culture where we are constantly bombarded with the worst news the editors can find from some tragic event going on somewhere on this instantaneously internet-connected planet.  And the barrage of bad news about imcompetence, inconsideration, and greed can crush the most good-hearted and spirited of people. 

Part of the reason I try to regularly publish new and hopeful ideas and artworks is to create a balanced place where people can be reminded of the better aspects and actions of humanity.  I do not blind myself to the bad things going on, but I also think we need more representation of the many good things people are working hard to maintain and build every day.

For me, keeping up a hopeful spirit is a daily battle.  So, I try to assist others who might struggle with the same frustrations.

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I’m watching the incredibly good 1981 version of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted.  Here are some lovely quotes from the film:

“To know and love one other human being is the root of all wisdom.”
     – Charles Ryder

“However you look at it, happiness doesn’t seem to have much to do with it.  And that’s all I want.” 
     – Sebastian Flyte

Watching it, my mind made these observations:

Why Create Films?

Create them because the modern male has, on average, very little willingness to read complex novels.

To Err is Human.  To Educate and Encourage is Humane.

It is not much of a talent to be able to point out the 10% wrong in the work someone has done 90% correct.

It is a talent to be able to help someone feel sufficient worth and gratitude for the 90% of the work they have done well, so they feel like doing it again.

On reading

Sometimes we read a thousand lines in hopes of finding one line to share with a thousand others.

Focusing More On Enjoying The Middle Of Things

When you learn to stop focusing so much on the outcome and concentrate more on improving the quality of the middle of things, life can become a great deal more pleasant.

Sometimes it may not be good to work toward an ending.  Sometimes it may be better to work toward extending the middle of beautiful things indefinitely. 

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Artwork by Bruce Barone:

Artwork by Patric Shaw:

Artwork by Frida Kahlo:

Artwork by tetheredto:


© All rights reserved by the respective artists.

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“Things That Could Not Be Improved” Series:  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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On a side note:  If you are a regular reader, you know how much I encourage and enjoy people expressing dissenting and carefully written opinions.  This last week, someone was kind enough to take the time to write some argumentative comments on the Nick Ut Pulitzer Prize winning photo post.  And being a writer, I took time to respond to his comments in writing.  I am grateful for the lively and passionate dialogue.

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