Spiritual front

Love, intensity, power, depth, independence, spirituality, loyalty, rectitude, creativity, dreams and passion.

#AllThatMatters

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Make modernism great again

I am a very opinionated person when it comes to art and culture in general, take my word for it.

Seeing the current state of the art industry, I cannot help myself but express dissatisfaction with it. What scares me the most is how the line between commercial art and high art is gradually blurring.  Even worse, nowadays they seem to be equal in value. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that if something is not genius from my personal  point of view, it has no right to exist. My argument is that they each have their own niche, and they shouldn’t intersect, really.

Art is art.

Business is business.

Please don’t try to sell me anything.

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Touched by Grace

November 17, 2016.

Today would have marked the 50th birthday of one of the most influential artists of the ’90s, one of the most unique singer-songwriters of all times and my greatest inspiration in music Jeff Buckley. Would have, had a very stupid yet fatal accident not occurred 19 years ago from now. But let me give you some background first.

3vgwjlvmwjwBuckley Jr’s life was full of drama since the very day he was born. His father, Tim Buckley, who happened to be another cult figure in the history of folk rock music, left his young wife in order to pursue his career when Jeff’s mom, Mary, was pregnant with him. Jeff only saw his father a few times in his life.

‘ I knew him for nine days. I met him for the first time when I was eight years old over Easter and he died two months later.’ 

Tragically, Tim Buckley died of a drug overdose aged 28 in 1975. The hurt of abandonment, apparently, never left Jeff: he never sang his father’s songs, never watched his performances, never even mentioned Tim to his friends. The only desire was to distance himself musically and mentally from his father. However, he did have his public singing debut at a tribute concert for his father called Greetings from Tim Buckley on April 26, 1991 in New York. He later mentioned it in the interview to Rolling Stone: ‘ It wasn’t my work, it wasn’t my life. But it bothered me that I hadn’t been to his funeral, that I’d never been able to tell him anything. I used that show to pay my last respects.

He performed  I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain, a song that was actually dedicated to him and his parents’ complicated love story.

‘ The flying Pisces sails for time
And tells me of my child
Wrapped in bitter tales and heartache
He begs for just a smile ’ 

Ironically, the concert turned out to be the starting point of his career in the music industry.

Jeff Buckley’s debut album Grace, the only album completed in his lifetime, became the absolute highlight of his career. It included 7 original tracks as well as 3 covers, amongst which was the very much recognised cover on Leonard Cohen’s  Hallelujah’.

The album eventually went on to feature in Rolling Stone’s 100 Best Albums of the Nineties, and is now considered to be an exemplary album for every following generation of musicians. Positive feedback on it has been received from legendary musicians such as Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello and others. In order to understand the concept behind Grace, it is essential to explain how much the single word ‘grace’ meant to Jeff:

‘Grace is what matters. In anything. Especially life, especially growth, tragedy, pain, love, death. About people, that’s what matters. That’s a quality I admire very greatly. It keeps you from reaching for the gun too quickly; it keeps you from destroying things too foolishly; it sort of keeps you alive and keeps you open for more understanding.’

From a musical point of view, the album is a masterpiece. Having one of the most unique and extraordinary voices of the era, with a vocal type of a lyric tenor and a vocal range of 3 octaves, 6 notes and a semitone,  has helped Jeff easily express all his profoundly spiritual emotions through it. His voice was his main instrument. He was also an exceptionally gifted multi-instrumentalist and a poet but his voice is nothing else than a vehicle that’s taking you to the places you never knew existed.

‘ Words are really beautiful, but they’re limited. Words are very male, very structured. But the voice is the netherworld, the darkness, where there’s nothing to hang onto. The voice comes from a part of you that just knows and expresses and is.’  © Jeff

After the success of Grace came the international tour. Everything seemed to be going perfectly well. Jeff was on the eve of releasing a new album to be called My Sweetheart the Drunk. But as it happens, God takes the best first.

On the evening of May 29, 1997, Jeff Buckley went swimming in Wolf River Harbor, a slackwater channel of the Mississippi River…and drowned. His body wasn’t found until 4th of June, when locals spotted it in the river. No alcohol, suicide or drugs were involved. The man just drowned while swimming. So much talent gone way too soon.

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My own physical copy of the new posthumous album You and I, 2016

Jeff, poor Jeff.

If only you knew how big of an impact your Art had on people. You may have not had tremendous commercial success but you’ve left a great legacy behind you. From Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay to Moby, Damien Rice, Chris Cornell to Adele, Sia and Lana Del Rey – you inspired so many.

Asking myself the question “What was it about his art that had me hooked straight away?”, I come up with a whole bunch of answers. His music is serenity, power, hope, love, pain, anger, joy and so many other things at the same time. It’s timeless. His lyrics speak to you, encourage you to think about the meaning of life and the eternal. He treated his work with such sensitivity, such caution, as if it was his child. He desired to create emotions as genuine and pure as he possibly could. I believe it was Bono from U2,who said: ‘ Jeff Buckley was a pure drop in an ocean of noise’, it couldn’t have been said any better.

 

 

When I listen to Lover, you should’ve come over’, which happens to be my favorite song ever, I experience a wide range of emotions: from love to agony to sadness. The song is so gentle and pure, it touches every fibre of my soul and leaves me breathless for a while. In all seriousness, it’s under my skin. I remember once getting to the point where I literally couldn’t move and breathe while listening to it. I also remember realizing that it is exactly what the real music should be – an absolute catharsis of a soul. I feel truly blessed to be able to understand that.

Here’s a really nice fan video on Lover, you should’ve come over’ from YouTube:

This article definitely went out of control but hey, this is my tribute to my favourite artist, and I’ve gotta speak out!

Happy birthday, my idol!

May your legacy continue to inspire and bless the world!

To conclude beautifully, here’s the main precept of Jeff:

‘ The most audacious thing I could possibly state in this day and age is that life is worth living. It’s worth being bashed against. It’s worth getting scarred by. It’s worth pouring yourself over every one of it’s hot coals. 

Extremely loud and incredibly close. Postmodern tragedy.

It could be argued that the terms “postmodernism” and “tragedy” lie uneasily beside each other. We live in scary times when terrorist attacks, man-made disasters and revolutions occur one after another, and governments are actively allowing their citizens to be harmed & killed. It is more important now than ever to remind ourselves what really matters, and the best way to do it is through art, especially if that art is based on real events.

Jonathan Safran Foer wrote his second novel ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ in 2005 when he was only twenty-eight years old. It was 4 years after the terrible tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001 in New York.

One thing that is very important to state in the beginning of this post is that Foer’s personal emotional trauma was the driving force that made him write the novel as writing has always been a way for authors to cope with tragedy. Moreover, he once claimed that he, as a New Yorker, found it impossible to not write about it as he felt it was his patriotic duty.

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The original book cover

In the novel, Oskar Schell is a nine-year-old boy whose father Thomas died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center building on September 11, 2001. Oskar is an extremely emotional and smart for his age child. After his father’s death, the kid starts to struggle with insomnia, depression, and, most importantly, his fears and phobias. The rest of the novel is focused on Oskar’s relationship with his family and his search for the mysterious key, which he believed would help him find a mention of his father.

Why is it so important to write about misfortune and what was the main purpose of Foer writing the novel? The World Trade Center attack was probably the most terrifying national catastrophe for our generation. It isn’t fiction but something that has actually happened in the world. Hundreds of families lost their beloved ones that day.

Through his novel, Jonathan Safran Foer is showing that any loss of life is a tragedy, and it always leads to human suffering. There is always a child crying over his parent’s death.

That is the reason why the author emphasizes the feelings of little Oskar so expressively. He is also trying to show that it can happen to anyone at any time, so it’s never a bad idea to let people know how much you love and appreciate them.

The book affected critics and readers enough to soon be adapted into a film directed by Stephen Daldry, starred with Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. That is where one type of media turned into another, attracting a greater audience and touching people’s hearts more. To anyone who hasn’t   read the book/watched the movie   yet,  I strongly suggest you do.

It touched my heart and it will touch yours too, I promise.

My story

It’s always hard to leave places.

But it is especially hard if the place you’re leaving is your home.

As far back as I can remember myself, I always knew that I wanted to study in London. However, coming here implied that I had to leave my family and friends and, apparently, move to another country. Courageously breaking through all the obstacles and challenges, studying for both IELTS and the so called «Russian national examination» on my last year at high school, I was making my way to my dream 3 years ago from now.

The final year flew by so fast that I can even describe it in three words: studies, exams, the prom.

And that was it.

I packed my suitcase and took the plane to my new life.

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(c) innahovan, 2015

 

I often hear students describe their life in London as «busy», «overwhelming» or even «hectic». Well, my first year in England wasn’t even close to being any of it.

I studied my foundation course in a college that is located in the area of Beckenham, zone 4. It was a completely different experience, calm, domestic, picturesque, yet no less exciting.

It was a beautiful year.

For the first time in my life I got to spend so much time in trains with such spectacular views.

Out of all the important lessons and rewarding experiences that I gained in one year of college life, three of them I consider to be the highlights:

  • I learnt how to draw

Having chosen Art as one of my foundation subjects, I’ve suddenly discovered a passion for drawing. I have started to look at everyday things from a different perspective, and by the end of the course I was able to express my inner self and develop my ideas in both images and words. Looking back at it, it was a real turning point in my life because I finally found enough courage to be creative.

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From my personal photo archive, Art classes
  • I went to concerts and galleries

In fact, I went to so many that I lost count.

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(c) innahovan, Tate Modern, 2016
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(c) innahovan, O2 Brixton
  • I met people

Whoever said ‘variety is the spice of life’ was right. London, all brimming with its diverse cultures, is an ideal platform for international communication. Needless to say, I made friends from all over the world. Some of them turned out to be not only people to hang out with but true and loyal friends I can always rely on.

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From my personal photo archive, prom

College was only a starting point in my UK academic journey. Moreover, my move to London and all the endless effort put into the successful completion of the course was only for the sake of studying at UAL. Frankly speaking, I’m really, really happy and blessed to be where I am right now because I wanted it more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life up until this point.

I remember falling in love with UAL an hour after finding out about its existence. As soon as I read the description of the colleges, I knew that was the place for me. I also remember coming to the open day at LCC in November 2015, my first ever visit to the university, and thinking «well, this is exactly how I imagined it to be». My friend and I were so elated after the event, we couldn’t stop talking about it.

Almost a year after that, here I am, living and studying in the heart of the vibrant city of London.

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From my personal photo archive, Nido Tower
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From my personal photo archive, Nido tower, my room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only feeling that I had then and still have to this day is a strong belief that this is the right choice for me.

I am finally feeling completely free and comfortable.

That was my story. Thank you for reading.

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