Apr. 11th, 2009

reileen: (reading - books)
In some ways I really don't feel like writing anymore. The ease with which writing used to come to me is stilted now, the flow dammed by piles of insecurities, of weaknesses, of other sorts of dark, messy things that one usually finds in a sewer or in three-week-old boursin cheese. It will come again, in time, I suppose. But words are not my strength at this moment. I'm not sure what is.

Nevertheless, I keep trying here in my nigh-invisible corner of the internet, because I feel as though it will be important somehow, someday. I don't expect to do anything world-changing, as much as it would be nice; I merely want the confidence that I can express what I want to express. And writing things down makes them real, in a way. (Which is why I stopped doing a lot of reflective journaling during the darker phases of my life a year or so ago, I think.) It forces me to make clear the haze that clouds my vision, so that I can move forward with more certainty of where I am going next.

***
I headed out to the Art Institute today to pick out my topic for an HAA115 research paper. The paper's not due 'til May 8, but we need to have our topic chosen by Monday. It wasn't that hard - I'd been through the Asian Art galleries of the Art Institute before with a fellow classmate in ART200, so I had an idea of what to find there. I quickly settled on a piece that had caught my eye previously: a statue of the Japanese Buddhist deity Shukongo-jin, who I would conjecture is a record of the earliest known instance of a hairerection in Japan. (Close-up here.) Seriously, though, check out the physique, too - this guy is like a proto-Dragonball Z character, and more terrifyingly badass than one.

Since it didn't take me long to choose my paper topic and get the required information, I decided to wander around the Art Institute a bit and get the most out of my $7.00 admission. I explored the Yousuf Karsh: Regarding Heroes exhibit, and was pleasantly surprised by it. Karsh was an Armenian-Canadian portrait photographer with a long, esteemed career, spanning over 60 years and many famous subjects, including Pablo Picasso, Indira Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Audrey Hepburn, and Winston Churchill. I was very impressed with how the lighting rendered the various details in the portraits, especially the facial details. The posing and settings were impeccable, as well - they full capture a sense of the power of the subject's personality. Whether the power and the personality depicted are actually true to the subject is, of course, up for debate, but seeing as Karsh was an optimist, it may be better to temporarily put aside those misgivings and to simply enjoy the portraits for their craftsmanship. Portraits, either photographic or rendered by hand, are harder to do well than one might think; I wonder if it's the case that one should be genuinely interested in people to be a good portrait artist.

I also stopped by the Thorne Miniature Rooms, featuring a collection of intricately constructed miniature models of various European and American interiors from the late 13th century up until the 1930s. Pure eye candy, I tell you. I could've spent the entire day in there, if it weren't for the fact that I was starving and the tiny viewing area smelled like humid people and...'twas not very pleasant. I want to get my hands on the Art Institute book about these rooms, though - they're simply amazing. There was something like this at The House on the Rock when I visited it a long while back, too, which was equally enthralling for me. I appreciate it primarily for the scenery porn (the upholstery! the floor plans! the different furniture styles! the stuff and thingies on the walls!), but I think it's also valuable as a historical record, as well.

Tangentially related, but just outside the Art Institute, there was this group of...I don't even know what they were, so I'm just calling them the urban taiko drummers, 'cause that's what their performance reminded me of:



I wonder if I should eventually invest in a membership to the Art Institute. That would depend entirely, of course, on how long I end up staying in Chicago. And it's hard enough for me to get my ass up and out of the house; me and [livejournal.com profile] lysis_to_kill keep on making plans to visit the Field Museum or the other hotspots on the museum campus, but then we get distracted by shiny things on the Internet. Or cheeses at Baker's Square. Le sigh.

***

I finished reading Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara today. I liked the book well enough, but am not sure if I'm intrigued enough to keep reading. If I get some free time and can get the books from a library, maybe I will (I bought Cast in Shadow when I ordered my spring quarter books off Amazon). I do like the five different races featured in the world of the book, and the characters are well-portrayed. Unfortunately, there were frequently times where I'd be reading along, and then I'd have to double back and re-read, because I had stumbled across something that made no sense to me, and I'd be like, "What? How did that logically follow from the thing prior to it?" I can't tell if this is an actual flaw with the writing style of the book or if it's just my poor reading habits, though. And while I like the main character, Kaylin, decently enough, it's more of a "well, I don't hate her and she hasn't shown any irredeemable traits for me" kind of like.

Also, the book cover is kind of fugly. (Bitches, I am an art & design major in addition to being a bookworm, I have every right to whine about ugly book covers! Not that a fugly cover has any bearing on the quality of a book; it's just something I like pointing out.)

-Reileen
all you people look at me like I'm a little girl

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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