BLANKMANGER BLOG (Thought Fragments)

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Summer Solstice Meditations

June 21, 2022

Meditations

Happy summer solstice, happy Litha! I wouldn’t say that I celebrated this occasion in a huge way, but it was impactful to me nonetheless.

I have had a somewhat love-hate relationship with summer and the hotter months all my life. While I enjoy the free time that one has on their hands, I almost always felt overwhelmed, or simply uninspired by it. People often report that their seasonal depression occurs during the dark winter months – for me, it has always been in summer; in a quite literal sense, it seemingly dried me out completely, and I often mourned the other seasons. As for this summer… I don’t know what has changed. This summer marks my graduation, the release of my shackles of high school, my upcoming university career, the first summer I may spend with people I truly love, and only them. Surely enough, there will be ups and downs for me, that I know well, but the foundation is completely different this time. I have new things to look, to work forward to, and this sentiment had me thinking about what I value in my life; what I want to change.

While the university degree I am currently aiming for is not in the creative field, and I chose it voluntarily and enthusiastically, I cannot deny my love and desire to be with art. These past years I have been surrounded by artistic souls, and while their spirit was remarkable, and surprisingly, I actually feel that it drained me of my own creativity. Many of those people want to make art their career, but I could never bring myself to do that. Trying to live off of my artistic creations feels utterly perverse to me, exclusively in our day and age. I don’t want to say that being among creatives daily was a bad thing – it could have been much, much worse – but I’m looking forward to the coming period of my life where I stay with those I love and meet more down to earth people as well.

In this upcoming phase, I want to cultivate my own artistic hobbies the best I can and rediscover my lost joy in creating art, specifically traditional art. I want to limit my time spent in front of any screen, be more in nature, enjoy the music of it. Read more, write more, paint more, sew more… And while this may seem like a chore to some, maybe even to me too, to some degree, I’m excited to see what I can do, and what I will be able to do in, say, a couple months from now. I try my best to come to terms with the fact that any craft requires diligent practice.

I want to redecorate my room and surround myself with things that I can gain inspiration from. I want to ingest things I love and produce what reflects them, in hopes that I can grow to love those too. I’m aflutter for the times I will spend outside in the forest or by a lake, and hopefully manage to feel close to earth. I ask of summer to aid me this year, not stunt me.

For summer solstice, I made rice pudding with honey and cinnamon, to suit the occasion, and ate it with my mother. From a hand thrown bowl, with a wooden spoon. It might sound banal to some, but that is what makes me happy. Another attempt to conquer love.

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Grim, Grimms, Grimoire:
The Sentiments of Dolly Kei

May 31, 2022

Fashion, Sewing & Crafts

Dolly Kei, Grimoire or アンティーク (antique) in Japanese, which is arguably more fitting, is a fashion style that originated in Japan in the 2010s, alongside with Cult Party Kei and Mori Key. It is very often compared to them due to various factors such as inspiration and the high level of layering, but what sets Dolly Kei apart from the others is a kind of mature, withered, almost grotesque flair. One may even notice similarities between it and other unrelated styles, such as the western whimsigothic.

As lots of information about this style has been removed from webpages or lost to time, one can only piece together the remaining pieces that are a few scattered articles from mainly independent blogs, as well as often very low-res images from street snaps. A consolatory fact is that this reflects the style’s philosophy: unlike with other fashion subcultures, there are little to no rules to Dolly Kei. There is no single accessory or pattern that is a hard must in a Grimoire coord; there are only pointers on what you could use for yours. There is no required silhouette, hemline or skirt length. The wide variety of fabrics and textures not only guarantee a recognisable outfit also give tons of leeway and possibilities to make it even more personalised. But, there is one set cornerstone: Dolly Kei is old and vintage.

The Antique style is often described as being inspired by Grimms’ fairy tales, which entails clothes and patterns from Central, Northern and Eastern Europe (Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Czechia, Slovakia etc.) and inspiration or references of "days of yore", such as the Medieval and Renaissance as well as Bohemian. The silhouettes, hairstyles and makeup often resemble Classical or Country Lolita looks, although Dolly Kei is considerably more dusty, morbid and even grimy, getting closer to Gothic or Kuro. It resembles something found in an antique chest the attic of an abandoned decade-old mansion deep within the woods, to which bread crumbs on the path had led you.

Colours: primarily dark & jewel tones such as deep reds, greens and browns, golds, but brighter versions are also possible! Although those are more easily confused with Mori or Cult Party.

Materials: cottons, linen, wool, gobelin, jacquard, velvet & velveteen, lace & ribbons, knitted garments, embroidery, leather, fur. Avoid synthetic fibers (faux fur is an exception).

Accessories: antique jewellery, vintage umbrellas or parasols, tassels, odd fellow & other collars, aprons, relics & artifacts, millinery objects (such as fake fruits, plants and animals), interesting belts, bows & ribbons, pouches, colourful tights, satchels & purses, generally vintage objects repurposed as accessory items.

While researching this arguably dead genre of jfashion, I was wondering why I even took interest in it in the first place. I’m not really one for jewellery or creepy, even edgy things, like doll parts as accessories; though I like clothes made of natural material and dark tones that are reminiscent of autumn. But, I have come to a conclusion.

I absolutely do not consider myself a patriot, nor nationalist, nor being considerably fond of my country. Yet, there is something that sparks joy in me when I see Dolly Kei coords, which very often include a part of my culture, whether it be a skirt, a pattern or accessory. I suppose that I do not feel much for my country, but rather for the bygone lifes my ancestors lived and the customs the1y practised. It finally helps me understand why so many neopagans work towards connecting spiritually with their ancestors. It comes as no surprise that I am fond of old cultures and customs; I’ve been interested in them for a long while – but this cultural self-love is something new to me. So, it makes me happy to see my roots being appreciated and considered as aesthetically pleasant by at least a small group of people that are not from here; people that do not wear it to show pride in their country or wear it because it is “traditional”, but because they see its individual appeal. The new, modern versions of my country’s traditional garb and clothes are, in my opinion, very distastefully combined and arguably not very pretty or comfortable. But its vintage counterparts, combined with other more casual articles of clothing as seen in Dolly Kei, redeem them for me, and make me want to embrace this fashion.

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On being a Lover and a Collector (1)

April 20, 2022

Meditations

Falling in love and identifying birds have similar effects. Normal life is altered; every experience heightened; what was mundane begins to explode with meaning. You think birds are just birds – undifferentiated fluttering, then you find one magnified in your lens. You recognize its unique markings, lines, and color. Your heart pounds. It is a cerulean warbler. It is your new mate. I believe both things have equal power to change your life.

Debbie Blue, Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible

This quote from Debbie Blue was the key to unlocking a door within me that had already been discovered long ago, but not yet opened. A door waiting in the depths of my heart.

In this life, I want to be fluent in as many languages as possible. Fluent in the language of flowers and fungi, of paintings and artifacts, of histories and remedies, of the human and its symbols and cultures, of its worldly and otherworldly goods. I want to look at many, many things with eyes unclouded. I want to see through them into a higher plane of existence. With the obtaining of knowledge, of insight, I want to become closer connected to this world.

Constantly, I am in search of new discoveries. Just as Debbie Blue said – it is as if it was a lover I chase, and with each new achievement, new sparks of this love kindle my soul. Love is an addiction. It causes you to to be restless, searching evermore for new highs until you are satiated… then, you grow hungry once more, and the cycle repeats. I have come to terms with this. May it be my destiny to be on a neverending conquest for love and knowledge.

Just like a person, a flower would like to be known… it would cease to exist, would there be no one to remember it. I shall be the lover to this flower.

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Meditations on A Game of Chess

April 18, 2022

Meditations

About two years ago, out of sheer boredom and also stemming from my other interests, I became infatuated with chess. I liked playing the game a normal amount, when it was with friends or my father or brother, but what was dearest to me was its history, cultural history to be exact, and its artistic value of different figure shapes and board designs, as well as the slight cultural differences and connotations of the lineups. Ornamental, abstract, humanoid chess pieces, western or eastern, I love them all.

As a matter of fact, I did not, and still do not care much about the game itself, about Soviet world champions or competitions or evaluations of IQ based on the capacity of a player. This view of the game seems painfully patriarchal to me. I remember someone I used to be close with thinking I was pretentious for gaining interest in this topic, probably because she thought I assumed it would make me smart, or rather look smart. While I of course enjoyed the feeling of overpowering someone in a game with a strategy I constructed myself, that was only a short rush of excitement.

Books about chess I’ve looked at and even bought only brush over the topic of the cultural significance of chess, and I find that to be very regretful. They specialize on the games, the championships that have been held, telling tales of the everlasting battle of men trying to overthrow each other as if they were in real combat. Depictions of the game in artwork, their origins spanning over hundreds of years and multiple cultures, are barely ever mentioned. Would they even care to think of them?

Of course, I admire the players' eagerness, their struggle to overthrow and triumph over another, but when there’s the possibility for connection laid bare in front of me, linking together over shared traditions across many societies represented by little figurines that more often than not I would expect to see in a glass cabinet rather than on a playing board, it is clear what appeals to me more.

I appreciate the creatives that try to bend and breach the “traditional” borders of chess. People who like to engage in play, rather than battle. Fairy chess, unorthodox chess. New things that are brought to the table. A piece of heritage does not have to be static.

That being said. I love unique piece designs that stimulate your imagination when playing chess!

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Meditations on the Vampire Aesthetic

April 14, 2022

Meditations

Imagining a vampire, there is always one kind of archetype that comes to mind. Here are my reflections on it.

To me, a vampire is the most form of camp, you may even call it campire, that overlaps my own personal tastes. A vampire is a creature, genderless, that is on one hand, and more often than not, gracious, noble, and keeps its composure very well. On the other hand, once in a blue moon, when they are plagued by memories past, they ravage and destroy, be it themselves or others, the wound of a passed relationship, a love, reopens and completely throws them off kilter. Then, their emotions are raw, dramatic and pure, unlike of what you would expect of something, someone, centuries old. A display of emotions, refined and aged like fine wine, is immaculate. A vampire’s bite to the neck, of all things, inflicts just the right amount of pain to heighten the sense of ecstasy it conveys. One can only imagine the shivers that would run down one’s spine, not to mention what the vampire would feel in this intense moment?

Let us paint the scenery further – a gothic-style bedchamber, fitted with heavy, dark curtains, the furniture dark and antique, the chaiselongue lined with red velvet, a glass chalice on the bedside table filled with an ambiguous red liquid and the vampire in question thrown on a large canopy bed, dressed in fine cream-coloured robes, one weak flickering candle nestled in a holder revealing to the viewer luscious long hair and an ice-cold complexion. This vampire has abandoned the age-old tradition of resting in a coffin, and has embraced the comforts of a queen-size bed, and while they do not fancy sunlight, a candle flame is just fine. How many lovers has this vampire taken to bed along with them, how many heartbreaks did they go through on the chaiselongue? They certainly wouldn’t tell, but if you can find their treasured diary, many stories of desire and passion and ravaging torment and sorrow will await you – and death as well, certainly. This vampire likes to keep their own secrets.

A vampire’s melodrama has allure. It is deep, and dark, and sensual. Velveteen, blood, vintages, a vampire is reflected in its aesthetic itself. A vampire is a perfectly well-rounded being.