Anna Karenina- a different point of (re)view

“But the law of loving others could not be discovered by reason, because it is unreasonable.”

Who would have thought a book written in the 1870s would immortalize so perfectly the human nature in all its forms, be it merciless decisions or unalloyed love?

Never has a book created such a bewildering waltz between life and death, hatred and pure love. Lev Tolstoi’s Anna Karenina is a book which I go back to every couple of years only to discover that each time I understand the characters there a little differently, perhaps feeling them grow with me. Once a terrifying Russian classic, it has become a hedonistic read for me, combining both the comfort of an all-too-familiar story now and the novelty of each read with finding something new and enticing everytime.

The story begins with the shards of a broken family’s picture- Stepan ”Stiva” Oblonsky‘s affairs determine his wife, princess Daria ”Dolly” Alexandrovna to call for her sister in law’s help, none other than Anna Arkadyevna Karenina– prefiguring the main character’s own destiny later on. Oblonsky’s childhood friend, Konstantin Levin arrives in Moscow at the same time, wishing to propose to Dolly’s younger sister, Kitty, who was also being courted by count Alexei Vronsky, a cavalry officer. Vronsky irremediably falls in love with Anna, leaving Kitty-Dolly’s younger sister- heartbroken because she had already rejected Levin’s proposal. Mother of Serghei (Seryozha)  and wife of Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, a politician and part of St. Petersburg’s elite, Anna cannot abide the emotionless conventiality of her marriage, neither can she defer social exile in the religion-dominated Russian society of the time. Having painted a minuscule picture of the book’s mise en scène, I’ll build the frame by saying that I perceive this book as an amalgam of contrasts. Various parts of the book focus on different families and conflicts, carving the distorted image of a mirror which illustrates the traditional Russian mentality of the late 19th century.

“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” 

The tumultuous and passionate love story between Anna and Vronsky draws together two opposite characters: a ravishing, graceful yet delicate beauty with an art loving soul alongside the ”dark knight” in the person of a military officer, whom I view as a cold soul because of how the flame dies down as soon as the allurement of the romance fades.

Levin’s philosophical endeavor keeps him torn between religion and atheism, loneliness and love and his quest for ensuring that the people on his land live better lives alongside his choice in marriage and compassion in death showcase one of the kindest souls, an alter ego for Tolstoi himself. The discrepancy between Levin’s thoughts and the adulterous couple’s struggles is unmistakable; as ever, master of detail, Tolstoi reveals this difference in the architectural description of the houses: Levin’s country home has a warm and welcoming feeling, while Vronsky’s estate is cold and stark, an art gallery inhabited by 3 lonely souls.

As for the ending, I’m still wavering as to be at peace with it or despise it. Somehow, the punishment has reestablished the equilibrium according to the traditional Eastern European morals, yet the tragedy leaves an inconsolable feeling of guilt to have witnessed the fall.

This book is like a scratched mirror- it reflects a reality we may not recognize at first, but it is our own.

“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed. ” 

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”I see beauty in everything” – the cure for a traveller’s hunger

Someone once told me that they see beauty in everything and at first I considered this as some kind of cliche and only later on it struck me. You CAN see beauty in everything, and you don’t even need to go that far away. This is the reason why, everytime I yearn to travel and it feels like an itch to the soul, I (really) open my eyes to really see the places I’ve seen hundreds or thousands of times and look for something new, something I may have seen before but never given a second thought.

Now, a simple way of quenching that thirst is different perspective. Applying a filter on top of reality can’t be done on computer alone, and a method which has been around since forever especially in arts such as painting and even literature is tunnel vision. A close up of a basic subject such as a flower can easily prove my point, but there are other unexpected models you might stumble upon which would turn the ordinary into extraordinary. Detail-focused photography isn’t exactly my cup of tea but I tried my best to find something little and insignificant at first sight and make it blossom into something magnificent.

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little red firefly
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sunbathing

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sunbathing is better with friends

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how many fireflies can you spot?
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of course the last picture had to be cake

Come to think of it, all these pictures were taken on little walks. What does a stroll in the park sound like now?

minus 7

Does the soul get frostbites?

If you could walk this world in your true colours everything would freeze like the black and white screen of a television depicting the film of your stillness in motion.

If you would show your deepest nuances and shield nothing from the world there’d still be icicles left somewhere deeper in for me to cut into when I reach out.

It’s what you do.

5 below – you look at me

6 below – you talk to me

7 below – you touch me

The thermometer breaks and shatters into pieces that can’t cut as hard as what I want from you. It’s minus 7 degrees outside, for God’s sake, get warm with me.

Mirror mirror…

…on the ground?

Nature is our world’s greatest architect. Sometimes, you just stop and gaze into the abyss that is the limit of your own eyes. We are so small, yet we were deemed worthy of such beauty. I am simply amazed by the fact that the sky and earth are so deeply connected with each other that I see them as silhouettes holding hands full of colours even when they aren’t. Who would have thought something as plain as a lake could become a portal to another world?

Instead of a classic 2016 review, I looked back at all the places I travelled this year and decided to create a collage of something old, something blue and the result is something new. I’ve put together a couple of pictures I took of lakes on clear, bright days, as a reminder that with its ups and downs, it has been a beautiful year.

 

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*Note: these are all different places in Romania and it took quite some time to pick out of the thousands (not even kidding) of photos I have, but I will soon write about places I’ve seen and I think no one would ever want to miss in a lifetime.

Night of museums- prelude in galleries

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While the European Night of Museums is sometime in May, art lovers get their fill in a small dose with an entire evening dedicated to their passion. Art galleries throughout the country open their doors to absolutely everyone and with the pleasant chill and mystery of the night, the lonely streets take comfort in the many hearts passing by, ready for their souls to vibrate with beauty.

The transition from September to October is particularly pleasant- weather wise- and during night time, the cold concrete seems to come to life with warm breaths. This time, I figured the easiest way to enjoy art is by simply observing, contrary to my almost compulsive volunteering in this sector, and after a nostalgia filled stroll and steady expectations, I opened my mind and in I was.

Again, painting isn’t exactly my field of expertise and according to the saying “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, I blinked a couple of times so I could really enjoy what was in front of me. Now, to avoid an unhealthy dose of hypocrisy, I must admit I had been expecting something so wonderful it would leave entire generations stunned, and that was a mistake on my part. Art isn’t supposed to make you feel an exact, certain way. It’s supposed to please, disturb or comfort, and an array of foreign sensations doesn’t begin to cover what I had in mind. It was, maybe, the universe’s way of telling me happiness can be mild too, not only beaming moments and astounding feelings. I felt mildly pleased by what I saw and that might not be the first story I rush to tell years from now, but it felt right and made for a well deserved break.

Again, my hoarding with imagery makes it so difficult to select only a couple of pics, but I promise there is something for anyone to see in each and every one of them.

Glimpses of Bucharest