Praise from Caesar – The Dilettante Edition, July 14, 2013

My Dear Dilettante Devotees, Enthusiasts and other Assorted Admirers, Freaks and Aficionados,

It has been far too long since last we spoke of the delightful discoveries and fantastic finds in the world of wordpress. I blame myself, as should you, darlings, if you feel you must.

For those of you unfamiliar with what it is these sporadic supplementals are all about, allow me to illuminate while you ruminate.

It is my philosophy that only the truly narcissistic feel that they deserve or are entitled to your love and attention. While I confess that I have a touch of the narcissist, I struggle to overcome that, and have been greatly humbled by the outpouring of admiration and support that I have received. It has given me a new perspective on the nature of blogging and of social media. The more I delve into the blogging world, the more I realize just how vast it is, and how much there is to weed through. So, to have people read your work and show their appreciation is something special. But there comes a time when you realize that you have a responsibility to give back. It’s not a mathematical equation, but it seems to me that you can only expect to be appreciated if you have shown that you are willing to show appreciation. It’s a whole “you get what you give” or “in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” type of thing.

So take the time to meet people, read what they have to say — and believe me, you’re going to find a lot of people who have nothing to say and yet continue talking — just like in real life — but you are also going to find beauty and humour and sadness. Taking the time to comment or encourage someone is the gift that you can give that costs you nothing, but has value beyond measuring.

Here are just a handful of good reads that I’ve discovered over the past couple of weeks.

Non-Fiction/Essay – Scam Artiste by Victoria Bruce on her blog The Blurred Line. Sometimes, you just want to read about someone else’s mundane problems — a bad day at the office, a birthday party gone horribly awry, or a call from a telemarketer. Victoria, like everyone, has opinions, and frustrations, and stories to tell. Sometimes her stories are about the simple quirky things in her life, like her husband’s (entirely non-sexual) sock fetish or troubles with her mechanic. But her voice is like that of a life-long friend — so conversational in nature that I can almost hear her voice through the screen, even though I’ve never heard it in person. If you just need a break from your own life for a few minutes, just go slip on Victoria’s for a change — I’m sure you’ll find it a comfortable fit.

Poetry – Chromethesia by Oloriel at her blog Color me in Cyanide and Cherry — I picked one when I could have picked dozens. I’ve just been reading through this blog and could compose an epic love letter to this poetry. Instead, I’ll just say here that the mysticism of the romantic poets lives on in Oloriel. Her words are of the expensive variety, and are a cunning linguist’s wet dream. Read her poetry aloud, and enjoy the fricative and consonant blends trip off your tongue like birdsong. Mystical and magical and yet personal and not at all cold or inaccessible, Oloriel creates lasting images that will resonate with you, and likely make you jealous with some of her amazing phrasing — wishing you’d written them yourself.

Non-Fiction/Essay  – Joseph Conrad’s Chthonic Folly by, well, I only know him as ‘A View from Old Hand’ and his blog is called A View from the Wheelhouse. I discovered him as a guest poster on the D/A Dialogues by Katie Sullivan. If you peruse his site, you might be tempted, like I am, to think of him affectionately as The Old Man and the Sea, and I just hope he receives my affectionate nickname as the Hemmingway compliment I intend. His stories are full of references to Yeats and Coleridge and James Joyce, men’s men all, and so I’m sure that he won’t mind having Hemmingway added to the mix. In this essay about Joseph Conrad, he recounts Conrad’s days as a seafarer, and gives us a picture of his first hand experience with greedy imperialism that lusted after even the tiniest, remotest corners of the earth. Not only is the writing solid, but it’s educational and entertaining as well. I look forward to reading more of this blog.

Fiction – Menthols, by xandranihilo. This isn’t the first time that I’ve drawn attention to xandranihilo’s writing, nor will it likely be the last. Reading these stories is like slipping into a smokey barroom, where the entire world is narrated by Humphrey Bogart, or maybe Jean Harlow, and if you close your eyes and re-open them, the whole world may have just taken on a sepia tone. Not that what xandranihilo is writing would be considered noir — not at all, although I’m sure if she did write noir it would be wonderful — no, it’s something about the narrative voice that just brings that to my mind. All introspective and self-doubting — inner monologue that, with a few well chosen anecdotal phrases, speaks volumes about the wonderful characters. It’s as if xandranihilo has somehow captured the very essence of character development and has refined it down to it’s simplest form. Just add water — instant complex character. Maybe it’s just that her characters ooze real humanity, whether the tale is 100 words or 1000, you never feel like you’re reading about some cardboard cut out. I’ve jokingly commented before that I would gladly wear an I HEART XANDRANIHILO T-shirt, and if you read a few tales, I’m sure there’ll be a bigger market for such merchandise before long.

Poetry – Scott May is my not-so-guilty pleasure. I fear I am in love with the way his mind works and absolutely head over heels for his sense of ironic detachment. I sometimes worry that he is mostly misunderstood due to his penchant for writing in the first person about things that are just the musing of his imagination. His recent poem (if that’s what his vignettes can be called — I hate placing the label of ‘poetry’ on things arbitrarily, and I trust Mr. May will forgive me if he doesn’t call these poetry himself) Misogynist is an example of his delightful grasp of dichotomies, and the sometimes contradictory thoughts and feelings and beliefs that we sometimes have and hold.

Until next time, darlings,

Helena Hann-Basquiat, Dilettante


14 responses to “Praise from Caesar – The Dilettante Edition, July 14, 2013

  1. I must say that I feel very honored to be presented in the words you used, you have really warmed my heart and gave me that little sign we always strive for when writing – that somebody read it and it might have inspired him, soothed him or helped him in some way.
    I am aswell looking forward to checking out rest of the people in this post, I am always looking for something to read!
    Thank you very much for including me here! 🙂

      • I hope they fit you! After spending the weekend cleaning out the pretentious literature on my shelves I do not read and just keep to impress visitors, I am planning a wardrobe cleansing. My daughter is 7, it is time I came to terms with the fact that my beloved red leather pants and I are never to be reunited.

      • I would love to know what’s on that list of pretentious literature, darling! I know I have a few books that I know that I SHOULD read but never seem to get around to — I’ve yet to make it through the Pillars of the Earth, or Game of Thrones, or The Satanic Verses (which I just keep on the shelf to give me subversive cred.)
        I have a precious pair of knee-high snakeskin boots (from a time when my hair added about 3 inches to my height, and we shall NEVER speak of these days) that just beg to be displayed in a museum somewhere in an ’80s/’90s exhibit.

  2. My dear Helena,
    I thank you sincerely for your praise. It is truly kind but entirely unwarranted. However, of course, it is always pleasing to receive such props, especially from those whom we admire deeply ourselves. In addition, I have to admit to falling into a teensy weensy bit of a slump lately, and your words have encouraged me to snatch up the torch once more. And who knows, maybe try my novice hand at some ‘bona fide noir.’ So watch this space, and meanwhile, keep up the astoundingly brilliant work.
    Xandra N.

    • Another writer I admire said something similar — that my praise encouraged them to write more — if I succeed in bringing the world more of your wonderfully quirky and off-beat writing, I will consider it my pleasure, darling. Everyone needs a cheering section from time to time, and I am happy to fill that role for you.

  3. What became the comment I posted? I also tried replying with a pinback. Did it go through?
    Again, Thank’s for including me in the company of such good writers. It inspires me to do better. Your points about the responsibility to give something back-to encourage and support others who’s work speaks to you. The blogoshere lives up to full potential when we recognize the communal effort. It challenges me to do more than like a piece of writing, but articulate why it touches me.
    P.S. For some reason, you pingback was blocked. But maybe I messed up somehow.

    • I don’t know what happened there, darling — but I found your comment in my SPAM folder of all places! Weird. Thank you for coming back to leave such a lovely comment! Blogging is hard work, and it’s not just all about producing (which is hard enough)

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