A Few of My Favorite Things- Literature, Music, Art

I will be writing several posts on my favorite things. General information so as to get to know me better.

One of the older covers of the first book in the A Song of Ice and FIre saga, “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin

Literature: I’m a huge fan of books. I don’t mind taking sides in the e-book v. traditional book war: traditional books trump e-books every time for me. I applaud the advancement of technology and I think e-books are very helpful. However, for me, reading is as much a sensual experience as it is reading a collection of words on the printed page. But that’s a post for another time. As dyed in the wool sci-fi/fantasy geek, many of the books I love to read are in this genre or at least have this theme in the story. Currently, my obsession is with the series A Song of Ice and Fire, though television fans know it best as HBO’s A Game of Thrones.

My maman has been a Stephen King fan for my entire life. I got my love of the macabre from her, though I did not read my first Stephen King novel until a couple years ago, his classic It. I never liked clowns and I like them even less now. Currently, I am reading The Dark Half, which was apparently also made into a movie few people saw. Other King novels in my ever-growing “to read” pile are Salem’s Lot and The Stand.

But I read “serious” literature too. I alternate the Stephen King novel I am reading with Dante’s The Divine Comedy. So on any given day, I decide whether I want to read about Hell in general or one man’s personal Hell. Reading Ovid’s Ars Amatoria along with Veronica Franco’s Terze Rime in my early twenties is what got me to truly appreciate poetry. The sanitized and frankly boring poetry that is forced down our throats in grade school made me hate the entire genre. But lo and behold, erotic poetry was right up my alley! Though I’m a writer, I never had the talent for poetry, but then I was basing that on the poetry I was forced to read, which I didn’t like at all. I’m always game for a writing challenge, so perhaps I’ll write my own sonnet one day.

Veronica Franco’s “Terza Rima”. Portrait by Jacopo Tintoretto.

Speaking of sonnets, of course I will have to mention ol’ Will. The sonnets dedicated to his “Dark Lady” are among my favorite. Being a woman with olive brown skin, I take the position that “dark” actually describes the woman’s complexion as well; I fully admit to my bias there. Nonetheless, these sonnets burst with passion and vitality and are the Bard’s best. This past summer, I read Coriolanus, which is not one of his best known plays. However, this was timely as the socioeconomic and political themes in the play coincide with the current socioeconomic and political state in the world, with many parallels, in my opinion, to the arguments presented by many of the worldwide populist movements (as I understand them):

First Citizen: “Care for us! True, indeed! They ne’er cared for us yet. Suffer us to famish, and their storehouses crammed with grain; make edicts for usury, to support usurers; repeal daily any wholesome act established against the rich, and provide more piercing statutes daily to chain up and restrain the poor. If wars eat us not up, they will; and there’s all the love they bear us.”

I am also re-reading Camille Paglia’s famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) book Sexual Personae, renewing my love for this iconoclastic academic. Occasionally I will read one of the stories presented in Bocaccio’s The Decameron. Greek mythology continues to be a favorite of mine but I am branching out into other cultural mythologies, specifically doing as much research as I can on the Yoruban orixa (goddess), Oshun.

Finally, I came across a book about female troubadours during the Middle Ages. It has been an interesting read, since troubadours were usually male and the art form usually revolved around illicit love affairs across social and economic lines: a noblewoman wooed by a male of lower social status.

Music: I read a quote recently that said, “Childhood is like being drunk; everyone remembers what you did, except you.” According to my parents and older siblings, I had a love of music and dance since I could walk, which was pretty early at eight months old. I’ve been on the move ever since. Watching television was as popular as reading books in my household growing up. There are several programs that I remember based solely on the theme song. My maman tells me that I used to dance, as well as a toddler can dance anyway, to the theme songs to Hill Street Blues, Hawaii 5-0, and the original Doctor Who.

Other music I enjoy includes the Buena Vista Social Club, Bebel Gilberto, Ella Fitzgerald, Vivaldi, Paganini, Palestrina, Michael Jackson, Lila Downs, and the Gotan Project. I also have and obsession with the theme song to HBO’s A Game of Thrones, even though I don’t much like the adaptation; I find the books to be thousands of times better.

“Bacchus and Ariadne” by Tiziano Vecelli, aka Titian

Art– Titian. This artist is the reason I decided to study art history for my bachelor’s degree. Specifically, it was seeing this painting on the left, Bacchus and Ariadne and the myth depicted in it that made me finally change majors from business management to art history. As I mentioned earlier, I love Greek mythology and this painting made one of my favorite myths come alive in such lush, sensual detail as I could have imagined. The story of Bacchus and Ariadne is one of the few romantic stories that I actually enjoy reading, mostly because it is not saccharine but filled with both love and lust, a little danger, sex, drugs, “rock ‘n roll”, and involved a mystery cult whose remnants are perhaps best found in Pompeii’s famous Villa of the Mysteries.

Other favorite painters include Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rubens, Manet, Vigee-LeBraun, Kirchner, and Isaac Maimon. Though most people would not immediately categorize this as art history, I love studying Byzantine religious relics and reliquaries, in addition to the icons.

Roman city of Timgad in modern-day Algeria. It is one of the few Roman cities built from the ground up, hence the consistency in the grid pattern of the city.

Naturally, as an art history major, this included a study of architecture as well. I admit, initially I wasn’t a fan of studying architecture. But as any serious student can tell you, all it takes is one professor to completely rock your world and make you consider a topic in a completely new way. My architecture professor was one such instructor and I didn’t take any of his classes until my final three quarters; I wanted to kick myself for not taking more of his classes sooner. some of my favorite architecture includes Greco-Roman military architecture (triumphal arches and columns) and city planning, and Medieval & Romanesque and Neo-Gothic Cathedrals. A rousing conversation that would sort of tie in all of the above is a discussion of the spolia in the Byzantine Empire and the early Venetian Republic.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but includes what I love and enjoy the best of things I obsess about.

About Claudia Christophe

Professional, sensual Companion for discerning gentlemen. I am based in Chicago, but I am available to travel worldwide.
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