E. M. Forster: A Life, by P. N. Furbank. This is a book so stuffed with names and dates and facts that the casual reader like me is inclined to start skimming. I believe it is considered a valuable resource for the serious Forster scholar and it gives you lots of period detail, but I was just looking for a little more information to fill out my picture of the author. There is both lots more, in terms of the minutiae, and not much, in terms of getting a real sense of the man. He seems to have been wistful, timid, and more of an observer than a participant — although he travelled, in Europe, India, and Egypt, and had many friends and acquaintances, both in the literary world and outside of it. We now know that he was a closeted homosexual but presumably only a chosen few of his contemporaries knew about that. He spent much of his life hoping for a fulfilling love and physical relationship and never having enough of either.
Ironically, in his writing Forster demonstrates that he has learned a great deal about people’s emotional lives, though perhaps more about the sorrows than the joys. Hypocrisy and repression are recurring themes, as are the social tensions and racial tensions of the period. Not surprisingly, you learn more about his inner self through reading his novels than you do through reading whom he had dinner with and what he wrote to his mother.
Chronos, by Ron Fricke. This is a short (less than an hour) film of abstract landscapes and cityscapes filmed with time-lapse cameras to show both the passage of time and the play of light and shade. The scenery ranges from Egyptian pyramids and statuary to a busy street in an unnamed city. The movie has no soundtrack other than the music (composed by Michael Stearns). It is hypnotic and beautiful. You can gaze at it and be transported into a strangely peaceful state.
Fricke was the cinematographer on Koyaanisqatsi, which employed similar effects. He later made Sacred Site and Baraka.