“La part de l’autre” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

For me, books have been an especially satiating pleasure since my childhood. Thus I have a ritual for almost every birthday – I gift myself so many books I barely manage to take home. however, lately on several occasions I discovered that I didn’t feel the familiar wild enthusiasm for books and I am struggling to choose even one I want to by.

Whether this is a function of information overload, my filter is getting narrower, the overwhelming abundance on the bookshelves rebuffs me from the onset… I don’t know…

But I do know that when something truly amazing comes up, the delight is absolute.

The Alternative Hypothesis is the first book I read from Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. There are two unfolding storylines: one is based on historical facts, the other, to put it simply, follows what would have happened if the young Adolf was admitted to an art school. It grabbed me immediately, and, thank God, I started it on Sunday which allowed me to read it at one go. This is, I told myself, what I miss – the fascination, being enveloped by a beautiful and rich language despite the sensitive subject or maybe because of it, the immersion in the story and its (im)possible alternative. For an intellectual challenge which keeps me awake for days and makes me think about the text in depth. I don’t have to say that I would read it a second time. The thoughts from the author’s diary at the end are also priceless, reveling details ‘from the kitchen’ of the book writing process…

“Becoming Astrid”

I set apart this movie from the February movie mix on purpose. Not only because it is European production, but also because it moved me exceptionally.

I admit I knew almost nothing about Astrid Lindgren, although I grew up with Pippy Longstocking, The Brothers Lionheart, Karlson, Ronia the Robber’s Daughterand Emil of Lonneberga. After watching the movie, I saw the rich context explaining why things were the way they were in my favorite childhood books…

the young Astrid (Unga Astrid– the original title of the movie) was overflowing with energy, light and life, but she was “lucky” to be born in a small Swedish town, among manners narrowly bound by religious rules, which did not allow for any frivolity, spontaneityand equality. And the natural rebels like her always pay high price for their love of freedom. An exceptional play of Alba August. And you can find the soundtrack in Spotify.

“Genius: Picasso”

I knew that the second season of Genius would be inspiration, contemplation and very much needed context, as if a long time ago you had started putting together a puzzle of somebody’s live, but you missed pieces and reasons.

A few things keep resonating in me after the ten episodes for this extraordinary, whimsical, driven innovator which some would call a prick, a rake, an egoist and they might be right depending on their viewpoint:

  • his purposefulness and outright refusal to compromise
  • his fierce desire to surpass a colleague by whom he felt awed (Matisse) and thus to surpass himself
  • his hectic search for the new, the different, the radical
  • using women as source of love energy, mystery, inspiration that incessantly keep him “hungry” for life
  • his unconditional rejection of any rules
  • placing art before and above all (which is a condition for greatness as long as one is ready to pay the price)