Title: Again. Again and Again. Awakening into Awareness – Essays and Stories
Author: Mathias B. Freese
Pages: 182 (Paperback)
Published: March 17th, 2022
*SPOILERS MENTIONED BELOW*
A Closer Look:
(Please note — this is not a review but rather a look at a handful of the essays in the book and thoughts I had while reading them. My review of Again. Again and Again. can be found here.)
Again. Again and Again. is a collection of short stories and essays that ponder life, death, art, events past and present, and the human condition in general. There is a lot to unpack for a book that’s under 200 pages. I thoroughly enjoy books that make me think and look at the world from a different perspective. Mathias Feese’s writing fits the bill perfectly.
“I don’t think about the future. I don’t think about the past. One is long gone, the other out there where I am not.”Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
These are among the first line of the book. I was hit instantly. As someone with a tendency to get stuck on both the past and the future, I like reminders like this. You can’t change the past, and at the end of the day, tomorrow isn’t promised to us. All we have is the moment at hand. For the narrator, the moment at hand is looking over a valley in the early morning. This is a time to think and to contemplate in a time before ours.
“I have observed the sun and the moon, which are of constant interest to me. I don’t know why they are round…I know the sun has day and the moon has night, although sometimes, if the light is right and the sky is very clear, I can see parts of the moon. At night the sun is forever gone.”Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
Even with the advancements of science in this century and the past, I feel on some level we are all still baffled by the universe. Why are the sun and moon round? Why is the sky blue? How can we see colors? We have scientific answers, yes, but it doesn’t quench our wonderment. Why out of trillions of planets are we alive in this galaxy and this planet Earth going through night and day?
Attilio Capponi, Il Signore
“I remember Capponi had once asked me to have dinner with him at a favorite Italian restaurant of his on Queens Boulevard. I stalled, uncomfortable. I never did get around to that. I could not handle the intimacy. I regret not doing that. Like life, things got in the way; decades passed, but at times I thought of him fondly. Only recently I Googled his name out of curiosity and discovered he had died.”Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
It happens to all of us. Missed opportunities. People we’ve let slip through the cracks of our lives. While we are taught from a young age at our time on Earth is limited, we often let ourselves think we have endless tomorrows. I’ll do it later. I’ll catch them next time. That next time is never a given. As illustrated in this passage, time gets away from us. We let fear get in the way of so much, worst of all our relationships with people. There are a number of reasons why, but does that matter at the end of the day? Why is this a lesson we only learn once it’s too late. Being young doesn’t lesson the chances, either.
“All writing is grounded in associations…When you write consciously, associate. Do not censor your thoughts; in fact, jot down each particular detail. You will begin to write as you parse these daydreams. Do not rely upon either inspiration or creativity—or even perspiration; rely on the association to coalesce from the unconscious to drive your work.”Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
This is my favorite section of the book. I got a lot out of it. Being one of the longest chapters in the book, there is a lot to divulge. If you are a writer — be it established or aspiring — I urge you to pick up the book and read it for yourself. I am on the aspiring side of writing, at least, aspiring to publish. I’m a firm believer in ‘if you write, you’re a writer’.
I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age. I didn’t care what I wrote so long as I was writing. Unfortunately, I was matched with the modern day ideology of perfection and ‘the rules of writing’.
“Don’t use these words.”
“This timeline is no good.”
“No one is going to read a story like that.”
Worse: How to succeed.
What is success? Being paid and being able to make a living? Or is it simply sharing with the world? It took me far too long to realize that, at least for myself, it’s the latter. Whether it’s one of the many book drafts I have sitting on my computer or through sharing short stories on the internet or even my review writing, I feel wonderful when I see that someone has read something that I’ve put my heart into. I only wish that Mathias Freese had been my creative writing teacher in my late teens. I wouldn’t have gotten so discouraged. It’s been a long healing process. The message in the opening of this chapter is the most important piece of advice and writing can give another: Do not inhibit what you put on the page.
Are You Kidding Me?
“What kind of mind is it that asks what it is to be alive?”Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
This chapter is about the ‘doer’ nature of humans. Nowadays, there is little time allotted for contemplation. We are always in motion.
“Thank God, humans sleep, because if they didn’t, this world at 24/7 would have perished eons ago.”
Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
I think our need for perpetual motion is in part knowing we only have a matter of decades to be here. We now have so much pressure to be something. Our lives are measured in our success. That’s our identity. So what about those who don’t strive to be doctors and lawyers? What of those who don’t want to or cannot attend college? They are brushed off as uneducated and only good for ‘menial’ tasks. There is a mental hierarchy, even if it’s unconscious. What would happen if people took an honest look at each other? I think people who don’t have all of the answers handed to them are the ones with the upper hand. They know how to be still. Better yet, they gain more from their quest for answers.
That being said, there are students who do want to learn for the sake of
learning rather than to only be a success. They are students of life, sometimes
in a school or through books and other forms of media. Often both. The
difference is that want and need to be educated. Learning doesn’t stop after
graduation. Not if you want to continue to grow.
The Dante of Architecture
“Gaudí was so much the devout Catholic, the architect of an allegorical church that is unfinished to this day. May it never be finished, for completion mars greatness.”
Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
I loved this passage centered on Antoni Gaudí. When I was a kid, I saw a special on La Sagrada Familia on TV and it’s been on my bucket list since. The fact that it’s unfinished after hundreds of years is what amazed me then and continues to amaze me now. I like this quote. It would be bittersweet to see its completion at this point.
Talking to Stellar Soot
“Sharing this and that with Nina, relating the minutiae of daily living, I found my talks with my deceased wife cathartic. It was good to talk to my adored Nina, for the talks comforted me.”
Mathias Freese, Again. Again and Again.
This chapter touched me the most. Covid made us all take a step back and look at how precious life is and that things can turn on a dime. For many, the worst of the pandemic was loneliness. This manifested itself in many ways. For some people the isolation was too much. For others, isolation was a break. For some, it was a dangerous situation. For few, it was a cozy vacation. Hearing about how each individual handled the isolation of a pandemic is difficult, but I think it’s important for people to put their stories out there so others don’t feel as alone.
This book touches upon many subjects as you can see from this sampling. It’s is readable in one sitting, however as I went back again to write this I realized there is merit in taking in one or two stories at a time.
Once again, I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book and giving me the opportunity to read, review, and reflect upon it.