It’s the end of 2022, and I want to thank you for sticking around Very Public Secret Society these past few months! It’s been fun! There won’t be any new postings until the middle of February 2023 (unless I feel itchy), so rest your eyes or go read some other stuff. I’ll say more about why later on.
But first, some pictures.
mucha do about something important
I love stained glass windows, and I love visiting old cathedrals. In Prague, over the Christmas holiday, I got to see the only stained-glass window designed by the Czech painter Alphonse Mucha in St. Vitus Cathedral. It looks like this.
My phone camera isn’t amazing, so here’s a close-up.
I’m no art expert, but Mucha’s style is incredibly distinct. This window pops with colors, and it stands out among all the other stained glass windows in that cathedral. I’m sharing this here because, the next day, my friends and I went to the Mucha Museum and, there, I was thrilled to see glimpses of that great work in progress.
There was Mucha’s draft drawing of the cathedral window.
And then photos of some of the people who posed for different roles in Mucha’s design. Like this guy who became the monk you see in the top middle portion of the window.
This was a great reminder because it’s easy to be amazed at the finished product, but I’d never really thought about all the work that must be done before the stained glass is complete.
It made me think about all the work I’m in the middle of. I didn’t write everything I wanted to write this year. And some of the words I worked the hardest on haven’t seen the light of day. It’s easy to despair over the projects and ideas limping along the track and pausing at the crossroads of a new year.
But seeing Mucha’s draft drawings and the models and posers that came before his stained glass window was complete reminds me that, usually, long labor comes before birth. It’s cool to see part of his process as I’m in the midst of so many of my own. I hope it inspires you too!
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I like asking people what’s your obsession? Usually, they’re taken aback because the idea of obsession has negative connotations. It’s like asking someone to reveal an embarrassing secret or “guilty pleasure.”
That’s why I’m pausing posts on VPSS for a few weeks. Because I have some obsessions, and I’m not ashamed to talk about them. But I want to give each of my obsessions adequate time and space to breathe and circumnavigate as they please. In the dawning days of 2023, I’ll be reading and resting and pondering some of the things I kept coming back to this year.
Adaptation. I kind of started this with my Rings of Power post. But that, itself, was an outgrowth of conversations I’d had about what it means to adapt a story well for a new medium. Can there be an objective standard for adaptations? Is there room to say something is a bad adaptation but good art and vice versa? Is there value to an obviously bad adaptation? I want to continue these conversations.
Manifestation. So I don’t believe in manifestation per se. Or astrology. Or name-and-claim it. But my last semester’s coursework and some stimulating conversations over the past few months keep bringing me back to the place of there’s something to it. I want to figure out what that is. And I want to think publicly about what it all means for daily existence. (And if you live by the Enneagram, you’re not off the hook.) Should I throw fate in for good measure?
Aesthetic. When people ask why I do something a certain way or why I’m getting some trinket or artwork, I’m fond of saying, “It’s for the aesthetic.” (And I’m only being glib some of the time.) What does it mean to pursue an aesthetic? To craft an aesthetic? Not just for one’s artwork or career, but for daily living as well? There are some interesting threads I want to pull here.
I want to talk about all of that. But I want to be detailed and measured and adequately exploratory as well. So I might only talk about one thing across several weeks, or months, of VPSS. Who knows? If you have strong feelings about adaptations or manifestation or aesthetic, I’d love to hear them!
some hopes for the new year
The day after the Prague trip, I spent the morning sprawled on the floor of my slowly-coming-together reading room and wrote out plans to reach my first few milestones in the new year on a big whiteboard. That’s how I do things. No resolutions. Just an outline of steps to reach the next milestone in my master plan.
I’m very excited about a few things. I plan to dive into G.K. Chesterton and Søren Kierkegaard: they’re two of my favorite boys and I need to spend some quality time with them.
I also intend to power through some “classic” novels via audiobook. I’ve been off the audiobook train after a couple of bad experiences in my attempts years ago. But I finished The Picture of Dorian Gray yesterday on LibraVox. What a story! Can’t wait to start on whatever’s next.
I also unsubscribed from a bunch of random newsletters, freshened up my budget, and canceled subscriptions to services I don’t need or don’t use. I said goodbye to Apple TV. (I got it a year ago and only ever used it to watch one season of Dickinson.) But as I did so, I couldn’t help but notice all the swell-looking content they have on there. I made a list of stuff I want to watch eventually.
That’s one of my mourning spaces for this past year, I guess. I didn’t watch anywhere near all the stuff I was excited to watch. (Stories are my favorite thing!) And I don’t think 2023 will be any different for me. Maybe I’ll have time in 2024.
On the adaptations front - what about story continuation but in a different format. I watched Dumbledore’s secrets and it got me thinking in this line. The Fantastic Beasts films are canon with the HP books rather than the HP films because there are no books BUT they’re a different art/story form/medium. So how does that impact the overall wizarding world story?