Friday, August 20, 2010

The elements of awakening

From Macbeth to Lord of the Flies, writers over the ages have examined the power of nature to awaken the animal aspect in mankind. Sleeper’s Wake by Alistair Morgan places itself within this conversation, yet takes the discussion further, looking at the power of nature to help humanity heal

Sleeper’s Wake tells the story of a man who has lost everything, beginning at the point where he wakes from a coma to be told that his wife and daughter have been killed in a car accident, and he was the driver.

Retreating to Nature’s Valley near Plettenberg Bay to recover, we begin a journey with him that unwraps layers of memories; echoed by an almost undetectable shedding of human norms, boundaries and ethical codes.

This process speeds up when John encounters a family who is also in the valley to recover after a violent trauma, which emerges from a profoundly South African context.

As John and the family’s lives collide, their moral restrictions begin to unravel until the novel hurtles towards a shocking and shattering denouement.

Morgan’s novel almost enters into a conversation with Lord of the Flies, with strong references to the classic. A walk to a mountain called Pig’s Head (which really does exist in Nature’s Valley), heralds a vital moment of moral rebellion that hints strongly at Golding’s narrative. Later, an encounter with baboons brings the question to its climax, as the boundary between man and beast blurs completely.

Morgan also engages with historical moments that question where man ends and nature begins. The title of his novel refers to when John is thinking about the trauma that has happened to the family he meets; and says how men are ‘sleepers’ that all have an animal instinct that can be awakened.

The theory comes from historian Christopher Browning’s study Battalion 101, which looks at the behaviour of men in the Holocaust; and where he ultimately concludes that it is ordinary men who can commit terrible deeds.

However, Morgan’s novel takes the discussion one step further, demonstrating that nature can bring out the worst in man, but that it is also where he will be able to heal. For it is only when man acknowledges that tragedy and joy is the rhythm of the natural life cycle that he can make peace with his past. Just as we sleep and awake, and day follows night, so is our time in this world. Thus, Sleeper’s Wake is a profound study of man at his essence; and his relationship to the earth that we live on.

South Africa is a society that encounters excessive trauma and violence; and yet has an abundance of nature and beauty. As these forces pull South Africans in two directions (“Should I stay or should I go?”), Sleeper’s Wake is vital reading for those looking for a brave and deep discussion on the nature of man, alive and awake in this environment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pretty in the city

Spring has arrived early in Cape Town, with each day bringing sunshine, sapphire skies and the scent of summer. I refuse to believe that the rain will return, and am ready to celebrate all the gorgeous spring fashion that is blossoming around us!

I think this pretty in the city image reflects the femininity, florals and "candyfloss" (in ELLE magazine's words) of the new season. High-waisted skirts, romantic sillouettes and flowing fabrics all create whimsical spirit that is like a breath of fresh air after the sharp shoulders and heavy details of the winter season.

I love the heart necklace - a simple accessory that brings the whole outfit together with an earthy energy, complementing and contrasting the white romanticism.

These ballet flats are another perfect accessory addition to this trend - playful and pretty, who wouldn't want to be a ballerina for a day?

To highlight the romanticism and femininity of the season, bring in a harder edge, like a cuff bangle or even a leather jacket if there is still a chill in the air. And when summer arrives, a ruffled waistcoat like the one below is perfect for a nuanced look.

The contrast between tough and soft fabrics and accessories will bring effortless style to your spring look. A bit of gritty brings out the pretty!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Women's Day

Happy Women's Day! This public holiday in South Africa commemorates 9 August 1956, when women participated in a national march to petition against pass laws. The historical context is the basis for a celebration of women in South Africa - their femininity, contributions, strength, compassion, power and beauty. 

In the spirit of this day, these are reasons why I love being a woman:

One word: Shopping
Enjoying the pretty things in life!
Painting my nails
Knowing we can bring life into this world
Perfume, jewellery, accessories, bags, makeup, shoes :)
Our extra intuition, sensitivity and inner strength
Our ability to be so multi-faceted
Our incredible friendships
Our beautiful bodies 
Our emotional and intellectual intelligence
Our ability to love with our whole hearts 

Why do you love being a woman? xxx

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quote of the day

"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. She who looks outside, dreams; she who looks inside, awakens"