Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On summer, The Virgin Suicides, with some outfit pics.

And just like that, the summer is almost over. I have watched The Virgin Suicides twice  last week, because this just happens to be that kind of summer – hot and lolling, indulgent and haunting. It’s an interesting movie; at first, it seems male-gazey as all get out, but this is only if you buy into the narrative setup of object (Lisbon girls)-subject (the neighborhood boys)-narrator (the novel’s auctorial voice). It took me a while to break away from this and to realize that the boys and the narrator are just two middle and superfluous, ego-driven layers of this four-layer cake of a movie – but the Lisbon girls and the film’s director, Sofia Coppola are the id and the super-ego – that is, the things that matter. Both female subjects and the directorial eye are invisible to the men framed by them – they talk about how women are those mysterious, ultimately unknowable creatures, but in doing so they only reveal their own limitations; if we are to stick to the Freudian framework, ego’s understanding capabilities are very limited. Id might be unknowable to it, but not to itself (yes, I know this is not a perfect metaphor; bear with me here).

So it is really a fascinating movie: male narrators and characters spend the entire movie failing to understand and, ultimately, save women around them – women who are mysterious to them but not to themselves or the director or the viewer. Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola both understand Lux; so do we, as viewers. It is ultimately ends up being a very female movie – with men providing much of sound, fury, and confusion and if that is filtered out, we are left with the image of the decaying house, a half-eaten sandwich left on the steps, four girls lolling on the floor, with the sounds of summer coming in distantly from the outside.

My own summer has been a lot busier than I planned, as it is usually the case. There wasn’t much lolling, but I do have new favorite thing: bees. We have started a small apiary for research purposes, and I’ve been spending so much time tending to my hive. Those are Italian bees, beautiful mahogany color, and the honey is slow and golden, and the frames are bending and dripping with it, and wax smells like summer.  I want them to survive the winter comfortably, so I’m not taking any honey. Here I am making sugar syrup for them – this is soon after we added a second layer of frames, and the sugar syrup is supposed to increase their wax production.

This is incidentally my new lab. We have moved into a new building, which has a big ass water molecule in front of it. Of course I had to pose with it:

Otherwise, August weather has been shockingly mild for New Jersey.  Early in the morning it is cool enough for jackets and long sleeves, and this is when I usually walk to my favorite coffee shop to get a latte and possibly sit down for a while, enjoy my coffee and catch up on Facebook and twitter on my phone (I do not write in coffee shops, mostly because I find them noisy and distracting, and also I resent the thought of carrying my laptop for a few miles.) Afetrward, I continue with my walk – usually 3-5 miles, depending on how quickly the sun warms up. And then I drive to work, where the hive buzzes so beautifully, and I feel like reading nothing but poetry and fashion blogs, and September is way too close.


Anonymous said...

You look amazing! So crisp.

The girl I babysit, T, was lucky enough to be a part of a project where the children at her school were taught about bees in an interdisciplinary manner, a blend of science and the arts. When the children learned about the purpose of the bee dance, they watched professional dancers interpret these movements. They observed the different parts of flowers from nature and were then encouraged to paint the blooms from a bee's point of view. One day T brought me a little piece of beeswax to smell--she offered it to me, saying 'Pear smell this it's nice,'--and it was like fresh sweet wood. I hope the bees thrive under your care.

P.S. I read 'House of Discarded Dreams' a week ago and I enjoyed it deeply, and have recommended it to my friends. Thank you for your work. :)

Fish Monkey said...

Thank you so much for your kind words about my book (and my outfits -- I am currently obsessed with Carin Wester, whose pants and shoes I'm wearing in the molecule pic, so I will probably be writing more about her). I'm so pleased HoDD is finding an audience -- this is the book I'm most proud of, and as usually the case, it is also the one that has been slow in picking up readers.

I came to bees from plants, since I was trained as a plant ecologist, but coevolution is this thing when you realize you have to do insects if you have to do plants. And I fell in love with bees -- the smells and the sounds (this smell of wax -- do you love it? how good is it?) are just so... indolent is the word that springs to mind. Hm, maybe I should post something about the process of finding new things to love. But the thing with bees, the more I learn, the more impressed I am, and they are like poetry. Mandelshtam, arguably the greatest Russian poet ever, wrote an amazing poem about bees and it just goes through my mind all the time now, and it all is just so perfect and beautiful.

Anyway, I'm gushing. Thank you for coming back and posting -- I deeply enjoyed our discussion about geek fashion issues, and hope you stick around. I am on twitter too, btw! Are you?