2016 in Review

Even though it’s been quite a while since I’ve added new content to jensul.ca, I still wrote over 40 posts during 2016, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry, and so I thought I would make a post now reviewing some of my highlights from the year, as well as looking ahead to the “re-launch” of jensul.ca I’m anticipating for 2017. One of my major projects that I have been focusing on as of late in lieu of this website is my current novel. I have been working on this book, which I would class as literary and philosophical fiction, for the past year and a half, and decided to devote my writing energies principally towards its completion. On that front, I am excited to say that I am only a few short chapters away from finishing. It has been an intense and engrossing journey, for while it will be the fourth novel I have written, it is the most extensive in terms of the world and cast of characters it encompasses, as well as the style and philosophical ideas I have tried to include in its pages. With this end in sight, I am excited to be able to invest more time and attention into writing regular posts for jensul.ca again.

In looking over recent posts, I read through some of my movie reviews, both of movies released in 2016 and movies that first entered the public imagination long before this year began. I was able to review three of the movies nominated for an Oscar for 2016’s Best Picture: Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and The Revenant. In both Bridge of Spies and The Revenant, I looked at the ways in which these movies affirm the value of life- even of a single, seemingly insignificant life- and reflected as well on the stylistic elements of these films. I also reviewed The Jungle Book, which surprised me with its depth and intelligence, as well as the sheer beauty of its cinematography. In my review, I reflected on what it means to be human (one of my favourite topics- also explored in my book review of The Most Human Human) and how this uniquely human capacity differentiates us from animals. But I think my favourite review to write was that of the movie Her, which provided a fairly uncomfortable yet deeply thought-provoking viewing experience. After seeing the film, I thought about how truths of love are revealed through the distortion of love seen in the main character’s artificial relationship.

Among the non-fiction reflections I have written over the course of this year, I have a few that stand out as being the most notable to my mind. In Experiencing Art, I reflected on my difficulties in writing film reviews by exploring both the power of the image and the limitations inherent in language. The Failure of the Mind was, for me, a very personal piece, because in it I wrote about the importance of creativity in my own life, the inevitability of failure, and the unity of mind, body and spirit. This theme of unity and the idea of the “human whole” as a fusion of these three aspects of self is one that comes up a lot in my writing, and it also appeared in On Beauty and Being Known in my thoughts on physical beauty and whether and to what extent this should factor into relationships. I also shared some of my poetry, including a series of poems revolving around the different days of Holy Week.

During 2016, I started a new series on jensul.ca called Person to Person. Each short story in the series is linked to the previous entry, and focuses on a different main character. My vision in creating this series was to provide a brief yet intimate glimpse of a person, highlighting the beauty and complexity of each individual, as well as evoking compassion for the unique struggles that arise from a unique blend of circumstance and self.

In this coming year, I plan to start a new series in celebration of Canada’s 150th, including reflections and poems on Canadian places, and reviews of Canadian books, movies and art. Some of the movies I hope to review in the beginning weeks of 2017 are Arrival, Anna Karenina (both the book and most recent movie adaptation), and La La Land. With new posts will also come new newsletters; if you haven’t signed up to receive the jensul.ca newsletter and would like to, all you have to do is enter your email address in the box at the top right of my site. If you have any feedback for me, I would love to hear from you through the comments section of jensul.ca or by email at [email protected]. I wish you a wonderful start to the New Year and an abundance of “daily beauty” experiences! To close, I’d like to include one of my thoughts from this year about experiencing beauty in the ordinary:

“I want to love as many things as I can, and for what they really are: pavement, puddles, rain dazzled window panes, crooked wooden benches, mounds of slush-speckled snow… I find I am far happier when I can wake up on a morning that is grey with a spattering sky, and say, “What (another) beautiful day!” When all weathers and all things and all moments can belong and be embraced, how much more contentment might there be; how much more mindfulness! Instead of expecting, instead of bleakly waiting, the day might come detached from approval or disapproval, and shining in the brilliance of its singularity.”