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The Stairs of Life

Whimsical Wednesdays with Arlinda!

Welcome back Obscurians! The fall semester has started and already we are struggling to meet due dates, brainstorming new concepts, and ordering new books. In all the chaos of keeping up, sometimes we forget that we need a moment to relax and to reflect.

Percy Shelley’s poem “O World, O Life, O Time” reminds me to appreciate the simple and calm moments in life. It is a reminder that life flies by and the moments that pass cannot be relived.

O World, O Life, O Time,

On whose last steps I climb,

Trembling at that where I had stood before,

When will return the glory of your prime?

No more, O never more!

(1-5)

 

Moments are fleeting and each one holds significance unique to all the rest. While we are working towards our educational and career goals, it is important to reflect on all that we have accomplished thus far and look forward to our future without forgetting to actually enjoy the present.

Personally, while I climb the stairs leading to my future, I do not want to stop and tremble “at that where I had stood before” wondering “when will return the glory of [my] prime”. Instead, I want to look upon the steps I have taken and remember how hard I worked and how great it feels to have walked up one more step on my path.

While you are stressing over assignments and working towards completing your goals, remember to take a break every once in a while, relax, have some fun, and take pride in how far you have come. If you ask me, the “glory” of our “prime” is overrated; life is filled with different stages and different steps, each glorious in its own way.

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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Breathless Jumps

CINÉMONDAYS WITH HARDIK

Breathless

Dir. Jean-Luc Godard

(French)

Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, after it came out in 1960 (post-war), refashioned the modern cinema for good: it broke open the shell of same-old Hollywood film-making, pushed the dragging pace by inventing the “jump-cut” technique, and aided in the launch of the all-so-essential French New Wave to movie-making shores everywhere. None of this quite made sense to the shining lead, Jean-Paul Belmondo, who thought their movie was so bad that they wouldn’t even get the permission to release it. Jean Seberg, the female lead, despised Godard’s shooting methods, but then had decided that he was the director, the one to blame. Godard, the director, thought Breathless’s success was just a mistake (the sort he didn’t regret). That was the scene and sentiment around the release; today you just don’t criticize Breathless without receiving an earful.

Breathless is an experiment. Sad news is that there is no escaping that. A Humphry Bogart enthusiast thief steals a car, rubs his lips with his thumb and makes faces, kills a cop, rubs his lips with his thumb and makes faces, and tries to convince his hip American girlfriend to elope with him to Italy, while also simultaneously informing her how stupid she is ––implying that that is so because she is a woman.

Two stylish modern-day lovers… random points on female organs, sex, existentialism, youth, art, and literature… in jump shots, and there you have Breathless.

What bothers me is the desperation with which it asserts its ideas. At some point in the film, there’s a cameo from another important French director, Jean-Pierre Melville, who plays an important celebrity Parvulesco and whom our lead Patricia interviews as part of her journalism assignment. “What is your greatest ambition in life?” she repeatedly asks. Parvulesco takes his time and replies, “To become immortal… and then die.” Um, really? Now that exchange might have been a satirical attempt or another struggle to get as close to real life as it can, but when it arrives, you are reminded that this movie is an effort, a constant effort, served to you with really last-minute changes. ––That is how the jump-shots were invented: in the editing room, at last-minute, with an ambition to provide the movie with a true-to-life rushed pace. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if you too found out that Breathless is out of breath not because of its rush but because of its, say, jump-drag.

“Squealers squeal, burglars burgle, killers kill, lovers love,” our lead believes. And given that logic, I’d conclude movies move… this one is an exception––it jumps, and, ah, it doesn’t quite make it to my liking!

~ Hardik Yadav

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A Seemingly Silent Summer

Thursday Verseday with Arlinda

As the semester comes to an end, so do my Thursday Verseday blogs. While my lack of summer blogging may seemingly appear as a seasonal silence, I will spend my time off gathering inspiration and writing. It is poems like “Silence” by Sopuruchi Precious Okeoma (featured in Obscura’s Spring 2017 edition) that inspire me to always write and always express my thoughts.

In the poem, the speaker states, “not being able to communicate my thoughts/ leaves me stranded like the pages of an old book.” What if we never tried to express ourselves? Who would we be if we hid our thoughts away, forgotten in the corners of our mind? Where would literary lovers be if novels like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels were just abandoned ideas? Would the thought-provoking and era-defining voices of Austen and Swift ever be heard, or would they be lost to the dust gathering on a bookshelf? The speaker in Okeoma’s poem conveys, “I long to be set free/ I sit and wait as dust collects on my spine.” A writer’s voice is timeless. Years down the line someone may stumble upon a text and find meaning and comfort in the words on a page.

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In Sopuruchi Precious Okeoma’s poem, the speaker describes silence as “silence is bittersweet/ silence is numbing/ silence is being left untouched by human hands.” Break the silence. Grab a pen, and a piece of paper, and express your thoughts, voice your opinions. I know I will spend my summer writing and expressing my thoughts. How will you spend yours?

 

~Arlinda Mulosmanaj

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The Longest Mile: I Will Never Sail Again (Until Next Semester)

Kat’s Music and Comics Corner (Issue #13)

I think many feel me when I say, most college students right now are emotionally and physically DONE with school before finals week has even arrived. We’re done with pulling all-nighters and selling our souls for coffee-fueled highs to get through the day. We’re done with papers that are many pages longer than the lists of our total social outings. We’re done with crying in front of our professors about having to need an extension because of family problems, or pressure, or stress, or honestly, just plain ol’ procrastination. We’re done. And for some this is true; for them, this is a milestone and an ending. Some students are graduating and moving on to look for jobs or a higher level of education. To those who’ve made it for the full mile– I applaud you. But a lot of students are still on the journey and although it is almost the end of the semester, we can only put down our sails long enough to briefly breathe in the salty air of success before we have to set out on the high, rocky seas again.

I was going to cover this song on my blog a couple weeks ago, but was feeling fickle and covered something else; I’m glad I made that decision because I feel like this song is lyrically perfect for closing my weekly Wednesday blog for the semester. Circa Survive’s “The Longest Mile” is a sort of anthem for those reaching the end of a long, tiring journey. The lead singer, Anthony, belts out, “I must admit now going down within this ship/I couldn’t have a better crew to travel with/If I make it in one piece back to land/I will never sail again”. This journey for us students surely wasn’t an easy one. Obstacles made themselves abundant, but so did the understanding professor that was always available during their office hours and the classmate that never failed to send you the lecture notes on days you were absent. And for those who made this journey solo, you may have not believed you would make it to the end “in one piece”, but surprise, here you are. You did it, you troopers.

Anthony sings that he “will never sail again” but he follows that up with “I can’t help/But think that/We’re coming to the end/If that is/The case then/I know we can’t pretend/To never make a sound again”. To me, this means, that despite all the stress, worries, and sleeplessness, now that the end is near, we can’t pretend that the journey is done. The journey of life never really ends. We, humans, are ever-growing, ever-learning, ever-changing. We can’t simply bring our boats to the shore when we know so much has gone unexplored. So, for now, push through that Tempest that is finals week, take all of your accomplishments, mistakes, successes, and lessons learned in, then get ready to journey on the next longest mile. You can do it.

– Kathryn Fornier

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Morals of the Stories

CinéMondays with Hardik: Morals of the Stories:

A Separation: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/a-separation-empathy/:

Be generous with your empathy expenses. “Empathy is that one power we will never run out of, the whole point of being humans, really––to make sense of what we are in for, to realize that we all are sharing the same human experience.”

Amores Perros: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/02/27/loves-a-dog/:

Remember that we take after our love. “Love’s a dog… Masters take after their love… and that dog is yours to keep.”

Her Friend Adam: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/her-friend-adam/:

Don’t impose your expectations of size at the cost of pleasure you could possibly seek. “Short films are like short stories; they are hard, they are expected to be perfect (we forgive/defend movies and novels all the time), and they don’t even reach as much of an audience as they most definitely deserve to.”

About When I Met Jake Gyllenhaal: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/about-when-i-met-jake-gyllenhaal/:

My friend says that I am delusional. I agree with her but I don’t still know where to frame my mind around it. “I saw the real Jake Gyllenhaal and not someone I felt equal to… Truly a Gatsby moment––to be in Caraway’s shoes!”

Get Out: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/get-out-get-in/:

Get out, engage in a conversation, and observe. Observe, even yourself. “There are those holding hands, and then there are also those who aren’t either willing or okay holding hands. Why is that? What is engaging them, what is the concern that engages them (if at all), or how safe/worthy is privilege if it blinds you of the reality the world seems to be facing?”

Summer Interlude: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/summer-silence/:

First love leaves, and that’s not our lesson here. “The first love always leaves, the voice leaves first. And when voices leave, you know what happens––storms come. Is there recovery? … ‘Lucky is the one who will teach you.’”

Brad Cuts Loose: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/do-i-get-to-play-just-as-hard/:

Do you get to play just as hard as you work? “And anyone who is working under someone/some-many most definitely understands the urge to ‘cut loose’ … cure that urge, that wonder!”

T2 Trainspotting: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/sequel-sentimentality/:

Sentimentality shouldn’t always feel like being tricked; allow yourself that sentimentality. “Sequels are like star-kids: both are compared to their parent, and most of the time they fail… at the end of the day, author has the authority… but what does it say about the viewers (consumers) and their sentimentally?”

Romil and Jugal: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/indias-first-gay-web-series-romil-and-jugal/:

Be willing to open yourself to the unfamiliar. “This deserves attention: it is the first ever gay web series in India and it doesn’t feed on the stereotypes that face gay men on-screen.”

Death of a Salesman: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/05/01/about-the-loman-energy/:

As you become aware, become also aware of what energy surrounds you and radiates from you. “It is this oddly placed positivity that is shaking up the Loman family equation. One should not blame Linda, but also should not dismiss that she is pretty much at the center of this, even if not apparently.”

The Bakery Girl of Monceau: https://obscuralitmag.wordpress.com/2017/05/08/the-bakery-girl-of-monceau/:

There is a morality to attractions and distractions, but does it need a look? “The distraction has become a new attraction, or has it? Where does the morality need to be when our man ends up promising to meet both his women on the same date?”

 

~ Hardik Yadav