There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen, Anthem

 

There is tremendous power in joy.

It recharges you. It can be used as a shield against big, bad, scary creatures that threaten you with darkness. Better yet, it can be stored for subsequent use when these gloomy creatures return. Because they always do.

Setting aside personal connections and small victories, one of my constant sources of joy – one where I drink from voraciously – is music and books and art.

Blessed (?) with a bubbly enthusiasm since birth, the adolescent euphoria with the heroes in my Culture Pantheon has never really waned – I can sell you any of their work better than the best Tupperware salesperson (not that they’d need me to).

By the end of last year I was already excited with the prospect of all the goodies that were due to see the light of day in 2017. There would be TV adaptations of books from favourite authors. There would be Metaphysics and Norse gods.

This week, however, two other releases were announced and the sum of it all has left me feeling joy-full with hope.

Here is why 2017 is going to be a great year:

Illustration by Andrew DeGraff
Illustration by Andrew DeGraff

The Book of Dust

Ten years ago, I was working on a university assignment that involved writing a 10-page children’s story. Noticing the poster of a fantasy movie at the cinema, I bought a ticket in hopes that the story would set me in the right mood to write my own. Little did I know what I was stepping into.

In the first couple of minutes, the voice of goddess Eva Green mentioned “Dust”, hinting at its nature, and I was hooked. Better yet, I had the slight feeling I knew exactly what Dust was all about. I read His Dark Materials in one breath and have been a Philip Pullman fangirl ever since.

Over the years, he promised there was more of the story to tell and even shared with us the title. Two days ago we were told the first volume of The Book of Dust will (finally) be released in mid-October and there was much rejoice.

In a world where critical thinking appears to be in decline, a story that values knowledge, science and is highly critic of a despotic and oppressive regime is more than welcome.


The piano ladies

I discovered Sarah Slean while looking for piano sheets for Charlotte Martin’s songs back in 2004. Since then, their music has been the main soundtrack of all the soul searching, heartbreak and joy of my 20s and early 30s, and one I hope will go on for many a decade.

Charlotte crosses primordial-sounding rhythms with ethereal vocals – it’s like being offered bits of heaven and elemental earth in an electronic clothing that sends you flying into the ether. With Sarah, there are stirring strings and orchestrations that sing us of the search for meaning in this wide, wondrous thing that is the Universe.

They are both releasing new albums since quite some time, and only one month apart of each other.

In a world where lies have become so blatant, the Truth and Beauty of poetry and music – and the passion that generates it – are very much needed.

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Odin

My dad was a hardcore Terry Pratchett fan since before the Discworld was even published in Portugal. So, when a good friend of mine told me about Neil Gaiman and how great Sandman was, my first reaction was “Oh!, he’s the other guy who wrote Good Omens.”

The TV adaptation of American Gods is coming this year and my copy of Norse Mythology has landed on my doorstep, very fittingly, this Odin’s day.

In a world that is trying so hard to resist the great lessons of History, maybe we need more of the old tales (and the old gods) to shed a brighter light on the nature – and potential – of Mankind.

Although this is only specific of my inner universe and infatuations, I know I am not alone in saying that all these new creations heading our way are a much needed breath of light.

More than making us feel and think and dream, the ripples that spread out of these gifts tend to generate something even better: they inspire us to create and discover and learn for ourselves. And this will bring you one of the deepest joys you will ever find in life.

Because, in a world where big, bad, stupid creatures are trying so hard to push us into a new dark age, we need all the joy we can get.

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