Even though I let go of my astronaut aspirations years ago, I still gravitate toward all things cosmic. The mystery of the cool, calm ways hours melt into one another in the infinite abyss that we float through boggles my mind. Perhaps, it's my permanent case of wanderlust, but I've found joy in searching for the sublime in the tiniest of things. Mountain ranges — both rock and cloud — are wonderful, but what we fill our hours with is equally divine, if not more so. How we move through space, what we program our lives with, and the attempts at connection make for some pretty heavy-duty post-9-to-5 thinking, but hey, you've got to balance pop-star musings somehow, right? I've found there's nothing better than a casual reminder of our humanness, of how small we really are, and, at the same time, how enormous our potential is.
Read: The Hours by Michael Cunningham
Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway is, hands-down, my favorite read. I'm actually a little surprised it's taken me up until this year to read Cunningham's immaculately crafted take on the story. The movie adaptation has been a go-to of mine for years (a little weird, I know); however, there's magic in Cunningham's actual words that Stephen Daldry's silver-screen visual doesn't capture.
Mrs. Dalloway always "had a feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day." Writing a story that documents a day in the life of a character is a daunting task that Woolf set up for herself. And, so, too, did Cunningham when he penned three different stories following three different women for 24 hours. And yet, he does it. In doing so, he reminds readers that an entire person's character, indeed a person's whole life, is lived in the span of a day. Add on the element of interconnectedness between time, city, and country, and you've opened Pandora's box of existential thinking. Enjoy the journey.
This movie is riveting. I will sing its praises from the top of my building until I can't sing anymore. Sandra Bullock gives one of her best performances, and George Clooney does Clooney well. But, the real star of this film is the cinematography. The trailers make Gravity seem like it's riddled with quick-cut action shots and heavy-hitting explosions, but the reality is they don't exist. And that's a good thing. Not since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey has a movie moved at a space pace. Director Alfonso Cuarón's keen understanding of weightlessness makes the entire 91-minute (yep, it's short) film feel like one long take. I even found myself questioning whether the camera had actually cut to another scene. It's this very cinematic decision that makes Gravity the most immersive film you'll see (I recommend seeing it in IMAX 3D if you can).
The accompanying story is a tale of human connection that forces viewers to confront their own mortality. Gravity isn't just the thing keeping us here; it's another word for home. Whether Cuarón alludes to that through womb-like references or literal screenplay dialogue, there's no escaping the very primal instinct we have to not be alone. Ironically, it takes leaving Earth to realize it.
Play: The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES
It's an exciting moment in music history. Aside from the pop divas all coming back with new material, the alternative scene is burgeoning back into a MySpace-type of glory. Tiny bands are quickly rising with original sounds and new takes on rehashed electronic formulas, while songwriting has never felt more escapist. CHVRCHES is a leader of the pack, and rightly so. Its debut LP is a sublime collection of songs that sound like the product of a generation of artists growing up on the Internet, searching for a way to make electronic instrumentation rock 'n' roll. Its synth-heavy songs are atmospheric journeys through time and space. Grand lyrical intimacies and the triumphant fragility of lead singer Lauren Mayberry's voice make for stark contrasts that take you off and away to a new soundscape. One minute you're floating, and the next you're underwater, weightless, but with the keen sense of your own gravity. It's a glorious loss of innocence and search for kindred spirits that make this album one of 2013's best.