Latest Time Saving Measure

Is knitting while watching television, which has always doubled as dinnertime with the Spousal Unit. Now it’s triply efficient! I might even have my Backbay sweater in a few more months at this rate. Next in my queue is the Mother of Pearl sweater for Bean, whose birthday is conveniently enough in the fall.

In theory I have always liked the French People As Depicted In Lifestyle Books approach to savoring life and food (usually as a metaphor for life), but 1) it presupposes a level of contentment that I will never achieve, regardless of finances or responsibility levels, and 2) actively partaking in leisure requires actual effort, plus it’s an art unto itself, one I have not perfected. And 3) my superpower is that I can turn anything into work, as you see here.

Sensaplace

Spousal Unit was recently in Venice for work. When he came back he said that he couldn’t figure out how a place built like Venice could possibly exist. I said, it’s no wonder Italo Calvino wrote Invisible Cities; Venice almost seems to demand it, and he happened to be the person who could do the job.

(I had requested a copy of Le cittĂ  invisibili as a souvenir of his trip, but alas, it was not doable. I hope that just means I’ll get to pick out my own copy on an Italy trip in the distant future: Rome, Florence, and Venice. Spousal Unit’s contribution to this discussion: “Yeah, you need to visit Northern Italy–it’s all the parts of the Frick you liked, only everywhere and all the time.”)

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I’m taking a break from SFF reading and scanning my bookshelves for something else. It will likely be “period” literature–perhaps something Italian or Japanese. Something that lovingly renders silken embroidery, gilt wood, etc.

Jeanne talked about books, mostly urban fantasy ones, having or lacking “sensaplace”, a favorite feature of mine in stories. An urban fantasy story, to me, is a love song to cities, and they must have foundations in solid bedrock as well as scrape the sky. That’s why I don’t seek out a lot of contemporary literature. They assume their default is the reader’s default and so the resulting book feels ungrounded. I am uncomfortable, physically, reading a book that I can’t visualize. One gets motion sickness when the inner and outer perceptions of movement clash; it’s the same feeling but with text on a page. This also applies to SFF. I had an incredibly hard time getting through Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand because it was impossible for me to envision.

There’s a trick to minimizing the amount of set-dressing for maximum sensaplace–the semiotics of ballet made me think of this the other day as I was dreamily perusing rehearsal pictures. A hairnet on the ballerina means Romeo and Juliet. Frenchiness means Sleeping Beauty. (CoppĂ©lia and Giselle can be hard to tell apart in the beginning! Peasant bodices everywhere. But of course they diverge wildly after Act I or so.) Mental macros, if you’ve got them installed.

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Then again, I’m writing a historical fantasy set in fake-Florence, so maybe I should be reading history books instead. Haha.