Ultramarine

"Synthetic ultramarine, due to its lack of mineral inclusions, boasts a richer tone than its semiprecious predecessor [lapis lazuli]. Traditionalists like Andrew Wyeth insisted on grinding the original, at great personal expense, even with the artificial paint readily available. “A color may be too pure. Modern shades and colors often appear hideous, ironically, because of their extreme purity,” writes Alexander Theroux in his triptych of essays The Primary Colors. “Old-fashioned blue, which had a dash of yellow in it … now seems often incongruous against newer, staring, overly luminous eye-killing shades.” In our pursuit of perfection, of unspoiled coloration, we purged colors of their unique characters.

Even the finest natural ultramarine, ground assiduously by hand, is riddled with odd minerals: calcite, pyrite, augite, mica. These deposits cause the light to be refracted and transmitted in subtly different ways. No two strokes of paint are the same in their fundamental composition. Stand at the right angle and you might catch a quiet glimmer of white or gold, like a prick of light from some distant province of the cosmos."


Ravi Mangla

Eating The Sun & Other Stories

I’ve got branches, the kind that should be firmly on trees, growing left and right inside me—it’s like always sleeping with the light on, Earth seen from the air at night in there, flesh and blood and young, softly-spoken green leaves. I wonder whether they will know what to do when October arrives, if they will turn to paper and fall at my feet.

I don’t remember who, but I was talking to somebody about the hardness of water, the softness of it, the way it can take things over with just atoms in space, in time. Watching them peel back the thin metallic paper that wrapped around the butter, thinking that must hurt, thinking of how awfully cold everything in the fridge must be. I rest my head, heavy from the dense leaves and ripening fruit inside it, on the warm wooden countertop, feeling small crumbs and other fractions of breakfast press their sharp edges into my face. The discomfort is comfortable, and I stay there while the world rotates, while people drift in and out of the room, picking up knives and plates and feelings.

Someone has washed strawberries, and they lie in a red heap, water collecting underneath and running towards the edge of what must feel like the end of everything. I select five, the slightly bruised ones that will otherwise be left behind, and eat them slowly over the sink; it is hard to get the permanent taste of sap off my tongue, but their late summer sweetness manages to linger for a moment, and it stains the tips of my fingers vermillion.

I was still sitting in the kitchen with my back pressed against the fridge handle when the streetlights went on outside. They wait all day, I suppose, to be told what to do. You perhaps know that time passes very differently for all of us, and because I’m full of root and branch and budding things, hours can often seem like small minutes; I will not notice the sun going down,  although the greenery inside me does, and quite without explanation I will sometimes find myself standing next to a window, as everything in me strains to catch the last of the daylight. But it is not so beautiful as it sounds, we argue all the time, and I’m beginning to see the dark outlines of flowers underneath my skin as a chlorophyll-rich foliage gradually replaces whatever was there before.

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At the beginning of the year, when I was too often finding myself tired, forgetting to return phone calls, they told me that whatever it was would pass as surely as a season, and then when those came and went and my hair grew longer, they looked inside and found saplings, shoots. A determined and widespread greenness, from ankle to hip, reaching for lungs and for the light. For months I had been growing gardens instead of growing up, arms full of apple trees and pines to keep my knees company. Heads were shaken in bewilderment, hands clasped and then unclasped again in attempts to understand, checking and double-checking and wondering at what point I had started to go quite this wrong.

It became apparent very quickly that there was no getting rid of any of it, deciduous or not. Instead they adopted softer voices when speaking to me, patted me on the arm, put their hands on their knees and leaned forwards into the bright fluorescent lights to explain a decision they had made, as you might when addressing a small child or an animal that you think unlikely to fully understand.

But on the Tuesday I step outside, body frantically reaching outwards and upwards as it tries to absorb all of this excess afternoon sun, and then I walk—first to the right, then over the bridge that crosses the sad-looking river before turning to follow the water for as long as my legs want to. Heron, circling above terraced houses, the sting of green whenever I inhale through my nose.

Back from walking and fed up with oxygen, I soak my limbs and my leaves in the bathtub in the half-dark, eating clementines. Lately I’ve been dreaming of deserts, desolate and harshly-carved landscapes devoid of water and life, ears covered in dust, in them the sound of strong heartbeats and locusts. I wonder if anyone is going to come and stop me from losing my mind, but the house sings with a honey-like emptiness, and so I count off the names of twenty-eight different train stops, the route that runs like a panicked creature, middle of the city out to edge of the island.

In between water and air, somewhere in between the person they say you are and the person reflected in the chrome taps. How can you keep one eye on the clock face and the other on the Jacaranda trees in your left forearm? 

Susurrus

 Susurrus [soo-sur-uhs]

— (noun) As one of the most beautiful words in the English language, susurrus is defined as a soft, murmuring sound. It resembles the rustling symphony of the fallen leaves moving across the pavement or the whispers created by the branches of the trees on a windy, autumn day. Uttering susurrus also simulates the acoustics of nature’s effect; this is one of those rare words where its aesthetic, sound and feel coincide beautifully.

Source

A Word For Light

"In Icelandic the word for light is ljós
And the word for poem is ljoð
What happens at the end can change everything
One ending starts in the middle, makes a left, circles back slightly off mark, then makes a right, slides a little further down and ends in the middle again, looking back at where it’s been, knowing exactly how far it has come
The other ending starts in the middle too, drops down, finds its way back and then goes further, pointing a sword at some high heaven, never looking back
It is said everything in the universe contains the same matter
That we begin somewhere in the same place
The matter responsible is as close as one last end veering off"


Souvankham Thammavongsa, Ljós, from Light

An Announcement Of Exciting Proportions

This is probably slightly overdue, but after it was announced in Publisher's Weekly at the beginning of October, I got excited all over again. I think I haven't said much because to some extent it felt like you already knew, which is ridiculous.

A little while ago, I signed the contracts for my third book. My third book! I thought it was probably time to shout about it officially, because as the weeks turn into months, it’s likely that this is going to be all I ramble about. The working title is ‘An Illustrated Guide to the Universe’, it lies somewhere within the intersection of science and art and the existential, and it will be published initially in the US by Penguin, something which I think I’m still processing. I’ve already fallen completely in love with my new editor, Meg Leder, who is a wonderful writer herself, and I just don’t know how it’s possible to sit still enough to write or draw anything when you’re wriggling this much with apprehension and glee.

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