This being my first time reading an interior decorating book cover-to-cover, these ideas reflect my state of infancy on the genre. I've been a reader of home decorating magazines since I was ten years old, so I thought I knew what to expect!
Initially, I found the book confusing to navigate. There are formal pages with a single illustration of a famous, decorated room, but these are presented right in the middle of journal-like exhibitions of Charlotte Moss's own decorated spaces. This seemed a disjointed style of presentation at first, however, as I progressed through it I noticed it encouraged a unique stance of perusal. Rather than being drawn into some narrative and becoming a passive viewer, I found I was always a step away from the presented spaces, as though Moss was encouraging me respectfully, and in full egalitarianism, to be a critic. She certainly made a nostalgic and personal case for her spaces, so I always felt like a benevolent evaluator, put in a position to enjoy and analyze a new friend's endeavours. I enjoyed this perspective, and I hope I can carry that angle into future reading of any topic.
There weren't many precise tips, which is sort of what I'd anticipated; as a magazine would show you how to create a style in your own home by purchasing a particular lampshade. Instead, and I'm not entirely sure where in the text this occurred, I got the sense that I was being shown and analogously taught an intuitive sense for design. That enhancement to my intuitive skill is much more valuable than a topic-limited tip could be.
I felt the book lacked a pretty specific detail that I'm shocked was overlooked, given the title and Moss's eagle-eye. I want to know what the rooms were for each photograph taken. Some even sounded like they weren't Moss's design, and many were the same room on pages later that I would've liked to reference back to. Moss seems to have taken great care to preserve whitespace in the layout, and I have confidence that her design skills could have lent something as practical as a brief reference note, even while there might not be much practicality in her seemingly endless tables with decorative displays. Although they too had good design sense.
I feel richly educated in something non-specific about reading and also about design, and unlike other occasions when I've sought to improve my design eye, I don't feel burdened with an overly sensitive and enlightened savoir-faire that makes my humble but comfortable office feel unbearably gauche. I observe a new kind of mindfulness in my consideration of style. But it's in a harmless, simple confidence and maybe a bit of satisfied smugness, which almost certainly rubbed off from the author's self-admiring tone.
We three are happily settled in Seoul! The time change has been surprisingly easy to adjust to over the past week.
What an amazing thing to finally be here: it is surreally normal, so much so that I keep forgetting that we're in a place I'd been imagining for so long. The only thing that surprises me is how unique we appear to many in the city: I was very dubious that I would stand out as much as people kept saying I would with my curly blonde hair and my handsome husband, but we do. Race is such a strange thing, it can be underwhelmingly banal, and then there are times where you see a black man on the subway and the two of you -black, white, two outsiders, - bond in the seconds of saying hello and have a nice day, because you feel so other-ed in a sea of people that share racial heritage. Just like anywhere in the world, people that are different can be viewed with happy curiosity and wary hostility.
We share the same human blood, the same human dignity, the same hope for peace and beauty and safety. We are okay together, and I am happy to get to know the earnestly beating heart of Seoul.
Housekeeping was my first view of Marilynne Robinson's writing. My thoughts are still in processing, having just finished the book today. One reviewer called the protagonist's sister, Lucille a conformist, as though we are directed to view her negatively. However, I think she simply wasn't the protagonist, and that the frequent desire to label the protagonist as having a "right" way is a form of comfort and yearning for certainty that Robinson is challenging. We are often told the stories of laudable children with grit and how "successful" they are, a very Lucille perspective. Ruthie's story offers an alternate view and challenges the notion of success and the notion of suicide versus staying alive. It reminded me of Annie Dillard on writing, "Why not shoot yourself, actually, rather than finish one more excellent manuscript on which to gag the world?" (Dillard, The Writing Life, 1989). Our reasons for living and not living and our reasons for writing or staring out of a window or attempting to sew a dress and make friends are all really curious methods of coping with the same sets of problems of existence as a lone individual in a world we keep trying to ascribe meaning to.
The marvellously moving Auguste Rodin’s “Eve” in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.
“Adam and Eve wept some human tears, but soon they dried them. Before them stretched the whole world, where they must choose a place of rest, with Providence as their guide. Hand in hand through the land of Eden, with slow and wandering steps, they began their lonely journey.” (Paradise Lost by John Milton, “translation” by Dennis Danielson)