Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities
Written in 2003 and early 2004, Rebecca Solnit's Hope in the Dark was first published in the U.S. at a time when many were in despair at the thought of another term under the Bush administration. Revisited by the author since then, with a foreword to the most recent edition written by Solnit in 2015 under Obama, neither she, nor the majority of us, could have predicted the particular set of political circumstances that readers would be facing in 2018. Yet its arguments hold up and are, furthermore, strengthened by recent history. Expanding more than once on Virginia Woolf's assertion that 'The future is dark, which is on the whole, the best thing the future can be, I think', Solnit argues the case for this view. She writes, 'Hope locates itself in the premises that we don't know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act'.
A particularly solid recommendation for those who are struggling to hold back tidal waves of despair at the current political climate and the far-reaching and unknown damage being done to our earth and its people, this joyful yet realistic call to activism explores a history of untold victories. It argues that positive action, both big and small, is an antidote to despair itself, let alone the only real tool for change, and that really, it's too soon to call anything.
Still Night, Still Light
As soothing as an art film on a loop at your favourite gallery, Canadian director Sophie Goyette's debut Still Night, Still Light is a circular tale of three lives suspended between loss and longing, dreaming and waking. Beginning with Éliane, a young woman from Québec living under the shadow of her parents' death, the story simultaneously expands and contracts, moving from Québec to Mexico, from Mexico to China, revealing as it does two more stories (that of Romes and his father Pablo) and their echoes. (The French language title Mes Nuits Feront Écho translates as My Nights Will Echo, both titles a meditation on the parallel lives we live: inner and outer, awake and asleep).
Locating itself in the experience of life lived in unfamiliar places, the camera moves slowly, lingering on the back of a person's head, a patch of dappled light, the point at which the sky meets the sea; the soundtrack interspersing silence with music, or the gentle lapping of water. Delicate in its process, the film guides you inward, evoking emotion unexpectedly - the strength of feeling akin to the private moments caught between strangers.
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves
- Robert Frost, On Looking Up By Chance At The Constellations.
- Kathleen Jamie, from Sightlines. Our longing for the sun happily satiated by this year's untypically British summertime, our travel plans for the coming months turn towards the north. More specifically to the Lofoten Islands in Norway, remote and otherworldly, and reportedly, one of the best places to view the Northern Lights.
While astrophysicists have warned that aurora viewing may occur less often in 2018, this doesn't mean that there won't be good sightings. Advice for having the best chance: plan your trip between September and March, keep away from urban centres, wait for crisp, clear nights, watch from a shelter (for comfort's sake), plan to be up all night, and be patient. It's all in the anticipation.