Quote for Today: Philip Pullman

Finally, I’d say to anyone who wants to tell these tales, don’t be afraid to be superstitious. If you have a lucky pen, use it. If you speak with more force and wit when wearing one red sock and one blue one, dress like that. When I’m at work I’m highly superstitious. My own superstition has to do with the voice in which the story comes out. I believe that every story is attended by its own sprite, whose voice we embody when we tell the tale, and that we tell it more successfully if we approach the sprite with a certain degree of respect and courtesy. These sprites are both old and young, male and female, sentimental and cynical, skeptical and credulous, and so on, and what’s more, they’re completely amoral: like the air-spirits who helped Strong Hans escape from the cave, the story-sprites are willing to serve whoever has the ring, whoever is telling the tale. To the accusation that this is nonsense, that all you need to tell a story is a human imagination, I reply, “Of course, and this is the way my imagination works.”
Philip PullmanFairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas as Viruses: Robin Young Interviews Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert

The way that I’ve always thought about creativity is that ideas are these disembodied life forms, they don’t have a form but they have a will, and all they want is to be made manifest and they circle the world looking for human collaborators to work with.

I’m feeling poorly today due to Celiac Disease and my brain fog is keeping me from stringing ideas together. Instead, I’d like to share this interview by Robin Young with Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity, inspiration and a kiss shared with Ann Patchett. It’s magical! Click the link below and look for the audio file at the top of the article.

On Unlocking Creativity, Ideas as Viruses

We live in a society that fetishizes passion, that talks a lot about vocation. These are very intimidating ideas that, I think, leave people out and I think if you can just sort of forget about passion and forget about vocation and focus on the tiny friendly impulse of curiosity which is within all of us, that is the way.

Quote for Today: Brian Froud

Wistman's Wood, Dartmoor, England © mattharvey1 with CCLicense

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor, England
© mattharvey1 with CCLicense

In the countryside, the old stories seemed to come alive around me; the faeries were a tangible aspect of the landscape, pulses of spirit, emotion, and light. They “insisted” on taking form under my pencil, emerging on the page before me cloaked in archetypal shapes drawn from nature and myth. I’d attracted their attention, you see, and they hadn’t finished with me yet.

Quote for Today: Charles de Lint

Detail from The Creation by Michelangelo © gnuckx with CCLicense

Detail from The Creation by Michelangelo
© gnuckx with CCLicense

Not only do we all have magic, it’s all around us as well. We just don’t pay attention to it. Every time we make something out of nothing, that’s an act of magic. It doesn’t matter if it’s a painting or a garden, or an abuelo telling his grandchildren some tall tale. Every time we fix something that’s broken, whether it’s a car engine or a broken heart, that’s an act of magic.

And what makes it magic is that we choose to create or help, just as we can choose to harm. But it’s so easy to destroy and so much harder to make things better. That’s why doing the right thing makes you stronger.

If we can only remember what we are and what we can do, nobody can bind us or control us.
Charles de LintThe Mystery of Grace


Flights of Fancy: Bandaloop Dances in Air

Rock climbers have a special relationship with surfaces they climb. What happens when this elevated awareness is fused with dance?

Have you ever dreamt of flying, of twisting and turning through the air with no fear? Amelia Rudolph had this dream often as a child. One day, when rock climbing in the Sierra Mountains of California, this multi-faceted dancer who holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Comparative Religion re-imagined her dream. Her vision was a synthesis, a merging of rock climbing with dance.

© Bandaloop used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

© Bandaloop used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

Bandaloop was founded in 1991 to explore the possibilities of vertical dance. Dancing was brought to the mountains and climbing was brought to urban environments as dancers and rock climbers learned to fuse their skills. The result is something transcendent: performing that allows the dancer/climber to realize the dream of flight, assisted by ropes and equipment, and brings the audience along to share the wonder. Normally, rock climbing is a very self focused and isolated discipline, while dance, with all its theatrical tradition, can feel intimidating to an audience. Somehow, in fusing the two a situation occurs that draws the audience into that focused dreamscape with the performer, breaking down walls. It’s truly impressive and inspiring. Just the kind of thing we love to explore at synkroniciti. 

Video via BANDALOOP on YouTube

Amazed? Intrigued? Please check out their website for more about Bandaloop.

Body in Motion: Climber Natalija Gros in Le Tango Vertical

The human body is capable of impressive feats. Is there an artistic and creative element present in athletic accomplishment?

When Natalija Gros retired from competitive rock climbing in 2012, she was recognized as one of the finest climbers in the world. The Slovenian athlete made it to the World Cup podium an astonishing 23 times during her career, also carrying off a silver in 2004 at the European Championships and a gold in 2008 in Paris at The European Bouldering and Combined Championship. She won the coveted Serre Chevalier Master in both 2004 and 2009.

Rock climbing isn’t a glamorous sport. Hands, elbows, shoulders and knees get scraped, wounded and calloused. Even with hooks and ropes, climbers regularly find themselves jerked into the air, swinging painfully against rocks. This doesn’t even hold a candle to what can happen without equipment. This short film by Jure Breceljnik called Le Tango Vertical, or The Vertical Tango, shows a completely different side than most climbing videos: artsy, sensual and alluring.

After a swim, Gros comes out of the ocean in her bikini and proceeds to climb, completely unaided, a rock formation along the beach. Granted, it isn’t the Alps nor Yosemite, but it isn’t safe either.

There are two main forms of rock climbing: aid climbing and free climbing. Aid climbing involves the use of ropes and pegs in the rock to pull the climber up the face of a cliff. Free climbing may also include the use of ropes and pegs, but only to protect the climber in case of a slip or fall.  Free climbers prize the sense of achievement and artistry that come from developing a close relationship to the vertical surface. This allows them to compose a route that traverses that surface, called a line. This route is unique, suited to their own body and skill set.

Climbing, like life, is never without risk, never completely safe. Ropes can break, pegs can become dislodged. Gros has chosen to forego such gear completely, feeling that she can handle this formation without them. And she can. What amazing physical strength and confidence! Watch her stomach muscles to see how much squeeze she maintains while holding on, thinking, and moving. She possesses unbelievable core and arm strength. I don’t know about you, but I’d be jelly up there.

Still from Le Tango Vertical

Still from Le Tango Vertical

Le Tango Vertical is an apt title. Like a tango dancer, Gros moves in a practiced, sensual way, sometimes slowly and smoothly, sometimes aggressively and decisively, feeling her way across the stone shelves. She must know them intimately in order to gauge that they will hold her weight. She must also know the limits of her own body to avoid overextending herself.

This isn’t the only film of Natalija Gros. She is the subject of Breceljnik’s documentary Chalk and Chocolate and was also featured in his documentary New Dimension, which delves into urban bouldering in Argentina. Amazing work from both artists.

Natalija Gros being filmed by Jure Beceljnik for Chalk and Chocolate. This portrait was commisioned by Mladina weekly. © Borut Peterlin, used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

Natalija Gros being filmed by Jure Beceljnik for Chalk and Chocolate. This portrait was commisioned by Mladina weekly and is designed to poke fun at the contrast between climber and artist, thus the comfy red chair. In reality, both the climber and artist had to do some crazy things to get the footage they captured.
© Borut Peterlin, used in accordance with Fair Use Policy

Sadly, Jure Breceljnik died two months ago in 2015. If you would like to know more about this talented man, a graduate of the Film and TV School of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, please read this tribute from his friend and colleague Borut Peterlin.

A Twist on Paper: Sculptures of Peter Gentenaar

When creative pathways become blocked most of us give up or force ourselves forward. What if we changed direction instead?
Peter Gentenaar was originally a printmaker who became dissatisfied with the effects he could produce with commercial paper. He decided to try his hand at making his own. In the process, he created a new beater to process paper pulp and discovered effects that put him on a new artistic path.
The paper Gentenaar created has extremely long fibers that twist like leaves as it dries. This might not be great for making prints, but by attaching the paper to bamboo frames he is able to exert some control over the form the paper takes. Learning how the paper shrinks as it dries has allowed Gentenaar to create incredible three dimensional sculptures, quite unusual and lovely.
Peter-Gentenaar-5Peter-Gentenaar-8All of these pictures are from the 25th anniversary of the classical music festival at Saint-Riquier Abbey in Picardie, France and are used in accordance with fair use policies.

Quote for Today: L.M. Montgomery



I love my garden, and I love working in it. To potter with green growing things, watching each day to see the dear, new sprouts come up, is like taking a hand in creation, I think. Just now my garden is like faith – the substance of things hoped for.


―Mistress Blythe, Anne’s House of Dreams, L.M. Montgomery


Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Attraction to the Nest: Avian Inspiration Featuring David Attenborough and Weaver Birds

Human language reveals a positive connotation between bird’s nests and human homes and families. Why do we identify with birds?

Human families generally don’t build their own houses, so we are often fascinated by birds that forage materials and weave or construct their own nests, from the simple robin to the mighty eagle. There is a great deal about self reliance and sufficiency to be learned from nesting birds. When our house flooded a few years ago and my husband and I decided to do the renovations ourselves, we found strength and stability in being able to master the skills required to put things back together and improve them. As Thoreau suggested in a quote that I posted earlier this week, available here, working like birds to build our nest restored our song, even as it was hard work. Frequently we needed to repeat a project a few times before we got it right. To quote a Russian proverb that I heard recently, “The first pancake is always messed up.”

Video via unreality’s channel on YouTube.

Birds that nest, such as the South African Weaver birds introduced by David Attenborough in the classic clip above, are an inspiration for their skill, craftsmanship and persistence. They are also masters of timing. A successful bird knows when to build a nest and where it will be safe, how to care for their babies, and when it is time for those babies to transition out of the nest and become their own birds. As advanced as the human species is, we don’t possess the depth of instinct that many birds do. I think we’ve always been a little in awe of them.

Where humans mold the landscape to themselves, resulting in a disruption of and disconnection from nature, birds know how to live in their environment, capitalizing on its strengths and adapting themselves for survival. Exploring their understanding of nesting can teach us a great deal about sustainability and resilience. We can go back to the symbol of the nest, which stands for home, and modify our own behavior.

Birds are perhaps the most obvious nest builders, but insects and other animals build nests too. What do we have to learn from the ant colony, the wasp nest and the rabbit warren?