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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Răsună Valea, 1949

Răsună Valea, 1949
(source: cinemagia)
no copyright infringement intended

.A classic Communist inspirational movie about the building of a railroad through the mountains. Thousands of young volunteers sign up to work on the site. There's tunnels to be drilled, rock to be blasted, earth to be moved... Besides the work there are other perilous things jeopardizing the site such as the malevolence of persons such as lazy Niki. Conspiracy also seems to be aiming at putting the project in peril. Towards the end of the movie, everybody seems to realize that they need to work together for the good of others by building the railroad. The enemies of the project-some of which are even brigadiers- are being exposed and face the consequences of their betrayal. The peasant Ion leads the pack who finally gets the railroad built.

Considerată prima realizare a cinematografiei socialiste româneşti, în regia lui Paul Călinescu şi cu o distribuţie de zile mari, filmul descrie avântul patriotic al miilor de tineri care în 1948, la chemarea Uniunii Tineretului Muncitoresc (UTM) au venit din toate colţurile ţării să construiască linia ferată Bumbeşti-Livezeni. Tinerii brigadieri, într-o epocă în care a nu fi cu noi însemna a fi împotriva noastră, sunt plini de patos revoluţionar, dar se confruntă cu vicisitudinile vremii, cu iarna ce le umflă ochii de frig, cu vara toridă ce-i asudă, cu utilaje şi metode de lucru rudimentare, cu cei leneşi, cu cei care vor să saboteze construcţia tunelului montan (duşmanii poporului), şi cu iubiri desigur.

Într-adevăr o distribuţie de zile mari: Marcel Anghelescu, Geo Barton, Radu Beligan, Nicolae Sireteanu, Ion Talianu, Eugenia Popovici, Maria Voluntaru, Angela Chiuaru, Ionescu-Ghibericon, Marcel Enescu, Pop Marţian, Puiu Hulubei, şi alături de ei într-o scenă de cuplete Horia Şerbănescu şi Trio Grigoriu. Unii dintre ei au rămas în conştiinţa noastră şi astăzi, alţii, cum se întâmplă, sunt uitaţi. Păcat! I-am văzut la teatru, sau am citit despre rolurile lor de-a lungul anilor, i-am văzut în filme, sigur că nu în toate în care au jucat, că nu se putea. Pe Nicolae Sireteanu mi-l amintesc de pe când eram elev, venea câteodată la noi la liceu la serbări, aveam o sală de festivităţi impresionantă, în care a şi funcţionat pentru câţiva ani un teatru, venea, cum zic, şi recita pe scena sălii. Nu-l mai vazusem însă în alte filme (şi a mai jucat în câteva). Pe Pop Marţian l-am văzut prima dată în filmul acesta, Răsună Valea. Şi apăruse pe ecran încă în 1925, în Năbădăile Cleopatrei, regizat de Ion Şahighian. Juca acolo alături de Nicolae Soreanu şi de Jean Georgescu, cel care în primul rând a fost poate unul dintre cei mai mari regizori ai noştri.


Monday, July 18, 2016

The NO Parties

(source: El Pais)
no copyright infringement intended

As the tsunami caused by BREXIT reverberates all over the place, Orlando is followed by Dallas which is followed by Baton Rouge. Meanwhile Dhaka is followed by Nice which is followed by Ankara. Never a dull moment. We're beginning to think possibly WWIII to start over the night. You go to bed on Friday night and you think the world is as it is. You get up on Saturday morning in a totally different universe. ¡Hasta la vista, baby!

In order to keep cool and not get mad, maybe it's a good idea to read some analysis, as objective as it can be, and try to understand things. I found this analysis firstly in Spanish, then the original in English. It's about the European NO parties. The two authors, Susi Dennison and Dina Pardijs, work with the European Council on Foreign Relations. Not that I would agree with everything there. Firstly, many say that the extremes are touching each other, I reject this totally. Sometimes the two extremes can discover a joint interest and act together, however they remain distinct. Sometimes one of the extremes discovers a joint interest with some political force from the center, it's the same thing, they remain distinct. Thus I cannot agree with analyzing in block the extreme right and the extreme left, though both are NO parties.

Susi Dennison
Director of European Power programme, ECFR

Dina Pardijs
Programme coordinator, European Power, ECFR

(Zoon Politikon)

NY: The Week Pokémon Go Took Central Park

el juego de la verdad
(source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5d17wtYuBs)
no copyright infringement intended

(source: NY Times)

(New York, New York)


Thursday, July 14, 2016

There Is A New Lady In Town

photo by Dominic Lipinski/Pool/AP
(source: People)
no copyright infringement intended

Sgeulachd gun faclan

(that's in Gaelic; if you don't know it, shame on you!)

(Zoon Politikon)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ben Judah, England’s Last Gasp of Empire

Queen Elizabeth II attending a service
of the Order of the British Empire
St. Paul’s Cathedral, 2012
Geoff Pugh/Daily Telegraph, via Associated Press
(source: NY Times)
no copyright infringement intended

From Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, England was an empire. No more. Brexit has turned the twilight years of the reign of Elizabeth II into the final chapter in the history of Great Britain ... Why did England choose this? The key is not sovereignty but a rejection of ethnic change. “It’s not England anymore,” people told me as I traveled around the country covering the referendum ... “We don’t recognize our country anymore.” Ben Judah in today's NY Times:

(Tim and Ben Judah)


Tim and Ben Judah

Tim Judah
(source: Matthisvalerie in WikiMedia)
no copyright infringement intended

Ben Judah
(source: European Council on Foreign Relations)
no copyright infringement intended

Both are British journalists and authors. Tim is Ben's father. Born in 1962, Tim Judah studied at London School of Economics and at Tufts, then began a career of correspondent in hot zones around the world, reporting from El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda, North Korea. In 1989 he moved to Bucharest, to work there for The Times and The Economist. In 1991 he moved to Belgrade covering the Balkan wars for the British media and authoring several books focused on the Yugoslav drama (the first of them being The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, published in 1997 - criticized by Charles Simic for ethnic bias - truth is that is hard not to be biased in such a complex matter). Once the Euromaidan started, Tim began reporting from Kiev. His most recent book (In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine, 2015) covers the Ukrainian situation. As for the son, Ben, he was born in 1988 and spent his childhood in Bucharest and Belgrade, following his father, and attending French schools in both places. Back in England he continued his French education at the London Lycée Charles de Gaulle (aside English and French he is fluent in Russian), and then studied Modern History and Politics at Oxford. As a journalist he spent several years in Russia, traveling all over the place throughout the former Soviet Union, reporting from Caucasus, Siberia, and Central Asia, covering the war in Georgia and the revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and writing a book (Fragile Empire, 2013) that analyzes the evolution of Putin's Russia. Ben also traveled to Tunisia (during the 2011 Revolution) and Xinjiang (the Wild West of China, as he named it in Standpoint - actually a region with a very distinct national identity, threatened by the centralizing policies of the Beijing regime). He worked with the European Council on Foreign Relations, continuing there his research on Russian politics, and with the European Stability Initiative, focusing on the Russo-Turkish relations. His second book (This is London) was published this year and is an epic account of contemporary London ... motivated by a desire to show our capital in its true (new) colours: as a megacity of global migrants, some of them rich, most of them poor, few of them happy with their lot (The Guardian).

(A Life in Books)

(Zoon Politikon)


Friday, July 08, 2016

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf in 1902
by George Charles Beresford
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended

My first encounter with the name of Virginia Woolf took place in Bucharest, by the mid of the seventies. At the National Theater, Radu Beligan and Marcela Rusu, Valeria Seciu and Costel Constantin were playing George and Martha, Honey and Nick, the old couple and the young one, in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. My knowledge of modern English literature (and generally of modern literature) was next to nothing. I had read a decent number of authors, but all of them were from the 19th century. A Romanian book about the post-war English and American theater had come just in time to show me new horizons (together with a long article published in one of the few liberal magazines allowed to exist in the Communist country that was by then Romania). It was a period of cultural opening (it didn't last long, that's another story), and some of these English or American guys began to be staged in one or another of the Bucharest theaters. So I went to see Albee's play, eager to swallow that modern mentality, to get familiar with that world, as much as I could. You know, I was young and enthusiastic.

It was much later that I understood that the name of Virginia Woolf was used in the play just as a pun (as well as the names of George and Martha: just another pun - a reference this time to George Washington and his wife). Irreverent puns? Well, yes, young rebels are always irreverent.

I was no more young when I had the occasion to visit Washington's places, a great journey that I made on the Potomac, admiring the view of all those superb manors strung on the Virginian shore between Alexandria and Mount Vernon, enduring a heavy rain (sheltered under the boat's roof), and listening to the stories of the captain, a guy with a respectable white beard pretending to be an old buccaneer. As I said, I was no more young, and through the years I had got the habit to be sometimes irreverent myself (for good or bad reasons). So all kind of puns (some of them innocent) came to my mind as I was walking through Washington's manor, or along the houses of his slaves, or in the exhibition showing his farming preoccupations (or just listening to the story of his false teeth).

And much, much later, I learned that George and Martha from Albee's play were based on a real couple famous in the New York artistic world of the fifties, Willard Maas and Marie Menken. A great couple, promoting the new trends, with a formidable vision of what the arts should become, mentoring the young artists, instilling in them the courage to experiment. And yes, the two having a well known tempestuous relationship. Albee knew them well and actually Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a subtle tribute, an accolade if you like, a modern form of tribute (irreverent and paradoxical, why not?) paid to these promoters of modernity. I have to tell you sometime about the movies they made these two guys, Maas and Menken, and about their importance in the modernist movement of that epoch.

And perhaps I should tell you also about my other encounters with the name of Virginia Woolf.

(A Life in Books)

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

Arcadio Díaz Quiñones y su edición de La Guaracha del Macho Camacho

Arcadio Díaz Quiñones
(fuente: 80 Grados)
no copyright infringement intended

Nació en Puerto Rico. Hizo sus estudios en la Universidad de Puerto Rico, donde fue profesor durante más de veinte años. Mentor de muchos profesores y profesoras de literatura, ha tenido desde siempre una participación muy activa en los debates políticos e intelectuales más relevantes del país y del mundo. Desde 1982 es profesor de literatura hispanoamericana en la Universidad de Princeton.
(fuente: 80 Grados)

¡Finalmente lo hice! He encontrado en Amazon La guaracha del Macho Camacho por Luis Rafael Sánchez, tanto el original (una espléndida edición con uno studio introductorio de nivel académico escrito por Arcadio Díaz Quiñones) como la traducción en Inglés de Gregory Rabassa (Macho Camacho's Beat). Traté de comenzar a leer desde el original, ¡pero es duro! Argot puertorriqueño pesadamente, además la pasión del autor de jugar con las palabras y frases para crear retruécanos y sugerir referencias sutiles, literarios, políticos, históricos ... sobre el mundo puertorriqueño. Pienso que leer el original y la traducción en paralelo, de lo contrario sería imposible para mí en esta etapa. Leí en primer lugar el estudio introductorio de Arcadio Díaz Quiñones. Fui capaz de leerlo y de comprenderlo, para mi sorpresa, y para mi alegría. Una gran entrada en el universo del libro, así como un resumen exhaustivo de las sugerencias realizadas por Rafael Sánchez a través de sus retruécanos. Voy a volver.

(Una Vida Entre Libros)

(Luis Rafael Sánchez)


Saturday, July 02, 2016

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Arrangements

illustration by John Cuneo
(source: NY Times)
no copyright infringement intended

Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.

The NY Times Book Review asked Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to write a short story related to the current US presidential campaign. She came with The Arrangements, a very contemporary replica to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, with Melania Trump as Clarissa:

(Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

(Virginia Woolf)

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Friday, July 01, 2016

Žižek, Disorder under the Heaven

(source: The Guardian)
no copyright infringement intended

Slavoj Žižek in DiEM25 about BREXIT:

(Zoon Politikon)