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Reading List, December 2022


Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.



Rasa → Śāntam: Peace or tranquillity. Deity: Vishnu. Colour: perpetual white. Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green




Although loving ourselves is easy to dismiss as self-help book junk material, it's at the root of learning to care for anyone or anything else. Self-love, when explored beyond the self-help fodder, is quite a difficult form of love to cultivate without conflicting with widely accepted ideas of humbleness, selfishness and what it means to be part of society.

It’s a form of love that calls us to be blatantly truthful, which opens the potential for it to become deeply uncomfortable. But, what does, after all, loving ourselves even mean— particularly if we’re aspiring to be unselfish and generous, and to outgrow the ego bubble that we’ve grown accustomed to calling the self? Why is it more natural to some people than others? What happens when self-love manifests in its physical expression conflicting with our deep-seated guilt and shame of selfishness?

The December 2022 monthly story explores some of these ideas through a character and a fictitious place. Together they channel ‘the caregiver’ archetype from Jungian psychology which we use as a storytelling tool. From another storytelling tool we use—the eastern performance art theory of Rasa, this story was constructed with the moods sāntam (tranquillity) and undertones of sringāra (desire).

This reading list will take you through the ideas, incidents, people, films, music and research that inspired us through the making of this story.

December 2022

  • Autosexuality was coined by sex therapist Bernard Apfelbaum in 1989 to refer to people who have trouble being turned on by someone else sexually. But, feeling turned on by yourself is common; some experience it more like an orientation, feeling more aroused by themselves than by others.

  • In the cautionary Classical Greek myth of Narcissus, we are given an insight into the dangers of solipsism and self-obsession. Narcissus, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope, was prophesied to live to old age, only if he never looked at himself. He gained many female admirers, entranced by his beauty, but rejected them all. Narcissus falls in love with his reflection, having chanced it in a river, at which he stared until he wasted away, and died. The word ‘narcissist’ derives from this story.

  • There is an almost immediate and automatic connection assumed between autosexuality and narcissism, for obvious reasons. But, the two are very different behaviours, almost contradicting one another. So, no—autosexuals are not necessarily narcissistic. Autosexuals are more comfortable in their own company, unlike narcissists who crave outside attention & constant validation. Autosexuals can be pleasers & daters who still prefer private personal sexual experiences, which contrasts with narcissism. Auto sexuality starts with self-consolation & going out alone before it becomes a preference.

  • 2013, Archetypes: A Beginner's Guide to Your Inner-net, Caroline Myss, Ph.D. : Archetypes are universal patterns of behaviour that, once discovered, help you better understand yourself and your place in the world. In this book, Myss writes about ten primary feminine archetypes that have emerged in today’s society: the Caregiver, the Artist/Creative, the Fashionista, the Intellectual, the Rebel, the Queen/Executive, the Advocate, the Visionary, the Athlete, and the Spiritual Seeker.

  • 2015, I arranged my own marriage; Arranged marriages and post-colonial feminism. Pande R., Newcastle University: This study of the practice of arranged marriage among women of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin resident in Britain is interesting because it examined the traditional approach to nuptials within a very different cultural context which is the UK diaspora. It examines the conflation of arranged marriages with forced marriages and the assumption that arranged marriages are examples of cultural practices that thwart individual agency.

  • When the stunning gold-gilded, brass statue of Tara arrived at the British Museum from Sri Lanka, it was seen as too dangerously erotic and voluptuous for public display; and it could be viewed only by scholars on request. But, Tara is a religious being, from Sri Lanka’s old Buddhist tradition that has no difficulty in combining divinity and sensuality—a concept perhaps alien to many cultures like those in Britain and even to current post-colonial Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka.

  • 2010, Turquoise in the Life of Native Americans, Oksana Y. Danchevskaya Moscow State Pedagogical University, Proceedings of the Eighth Native American Symposium: In many ancient philosophies connecting minerals to self-healing, turquoise holds a particularly revered place. Turquoise is believed by many energy healers as the stone for self-care because of its ability to induce self-forgiveness and self-acceptance when a user achieves resonance with the natural vibration of the mineral. Native Americans’ ideas about the metaphysical properties of the turquoise stone may have played a significant role in developing this reputation around the mineral as an element of self-care.

  • 2019, Objects of Despair: Mirrors. Meghan O’Gieblyn. The Paris Review: No common object has inspired obsession and satisfaction as much dread, confusion, and morbid anxiety as the mirror. Ever since their invention, mirrors have shaped our idea of the self, self-worth and identity to startling degrees.

  • Caribbean poet and playwright Derek Walcott—the 1992 Nobel laureate and a writer of such extraordinary poetic prowess—addresses the beauty of self-love in a poem titled “Love After Love,” found in his Collected Poems: 1948–1984 (public library). On an archival On Being episode titled “Opening to Our Lives,” mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn reads Walcott’s masterpiece—undoubtedly one of the greatest, most soul-stretching poems on self-love ever written.

  • 2021, Abdallah Ghazlan, Tuan Ngo, Ping Tan, Yi Min Xie, Phuong Tran, Matthew Donough. Inspiration from Nature's body armours – A review of biological and bioinspired composites: Mother-of-pearl, or nacre which forms pearls, is key for some shellfish to protect and care for themselves; it’s one of the most fascinating and beautiful protective materials in nature. Mother-of-pearl makes up the inner shell lining of pearl mussels and some other mollusks. Pearls themselves are made of the same material. Scientists have been studying how molluscs use this material for self-care and protection so that we can understand its extraordinary resilience and shielding quality. Some of these findings could help create a blueprint for engineering tough new materials in the laboratory.


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