Thursday, March 27, 2008

Music

I want to celebrate all the people I know who sing and/or play musical instruments. This posting is inspired by a cousin from England with whom I reconnected a few months ago. I was a teenager when I saw him last and he taught me how to play "The last thing on my mind" on my first guitar. Jacques Lim, an applied science teacher at London College of Fashion, recently retired but has always kept his passion for music. You can hear him sing some of the beautiful songs he wrote on his blog. The one I like most: "I think it's best"

My husband's niece, Sarah Putnam, is only nineteen and a talented singer. She was among 50 selected across Canada to compete for the role of Maria in The Sound of Music, a Mirvish theatre production that will be playing in Toronto this year.

I'm not a big fan of opera but when I saw the performance of Takako, the mother of one of my son's hockey friends, I was quite taken by her radiant presence, her voice and the mix of east and west in her songs.

Francine Labelle, a friend from my karate club, sings in Tafelmusik's choir. I enjoy listening to Francine sing, like a bird twittering in pure soulful notes. She is the second from left in this photo

Andi Duncan, a friend I've lost touch with but whom I will always remember for telling me that "It's the journey, not the destination that counts" when talking about her musical career, sang, and composed the music and lyrics on this CD

I met Russell Drago when our sons were at the same school. It was relaxing to hear him sing at Trane Studio, a jazz club on Bathurst St.

Tom Melville, a friend who works full time as a lawyer, plays the organ in a band called Tokyo Giants that consists mostly of lawyers who work full-time and manage to find time to practice and perform. Saw his band at Chick'n'deli and had a terrific time dancing to their upbeat tunes.

My cheers to all other friends who play music: Judy, Wayne, Milène ... What's wonderful about Toronto is that there are so many venues for musicians who want to perform. Music is such a wonderful outlet, a great way to unwind from stress, long hours of work. Many friends jam regularly on weekends, and even perform at parties. They share the same desire to express their inner emotions through music. A few months ago, I shook the dust away from my guitar ...

Friday, March 21, 2008

The original writer

"L'écrivain original n'est pas celui qui n'imite personne, mais celui que personne ne peut imiter."
Le Génie du Christianisme - Chateaubriand

"The original writer is not the one who imitates none but the one whom none can imitate."

I prefer to believe that Chateaubriand is not being arrogant when he says none can imitate an original writer, that he really means it is impossible to imitate writers who infuse their craft with their unique experiences, talents, and personalities.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Anatomy of Love

I'm reading Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher. It's fascinating, the numerous researches that have been done in the name of love. From Jean Henri Fabre's experiment with the female moth's "invisible secretion from her distended abdomen – a 'pheromone', the smell of which had attracted suitors from a mile across the countryside" to a study of how "we feel infatuation when neurons in the limbic system, or emotional core, become saturated or sensitized by PEA (phenylethylamine, a substance in the brain that causes feelings of elation, exhilaration, and euphoria) and/or other brain chemicals."

It's riveting to have love dissected and explained in scientific terms. It grounds us into reality, shakes up our romantic fantasy. Not that I'm now inclined to say, "The neurons in my limbic system are saturated by chemical reactions to your presence." Even though I don't agree with all her theories, it's certainly thought-provoking, Helen Fisher's conviction that love among couples lasts about four years, the time it takes to raise infants, then boredom settles and the search for another partner starts again - all this based on the premise that we still carry in us primitive, cavemen-type instincts when searching for love, or to put it more bluntly, a mate: woman looking for security, and man looking for fertile womb to bear children.

Taking or leaving what suits you, this book does offer some insights. It helps put some order and perspective if you're struggling to understand complicated emotions about love. It attempts to explain Blaise Pascal's saying: "Le coeur as ses raisons que la raison ne connait point." - The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of. It's wonderful to be enlightened by all that scientific stuff, but I still find the poetry and mystery of love more alluring.