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Friday, December 02, 2016

Romans 14:8

(image source: printery house)
no copyright infringement intended

In life and in death we belong to God, and though these early winter days feel overwhelmingly dark we trust that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it.

It is David Ensign (the minister of Clarendon Presbyterian Church) who wrote these line in his weekly update, in preparation of his Sunday sermon. David suffered a great loss, the sudden death of his brother-in-law, and during these days he felt not alone. Parishioners and other friends surrounded him and gave their help. Two other parishioners have their fathers approaching their death. And the community lives all this together. Says again David, we make the path by walking it, and we never walk alone.

Sive enim vivemus, Domino vivimus: sive morimur, Domino morimur. Sive ergo vivimus, sive morimur, Domini sumus

For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Că dacă trăim, pentru Domnul trăim, şi dacă murim, pentru Domnul murim. Deci şi dacă trăim, şi dacă murim, ai Domnului suntem.

Car si nous vivons, nous vivons pour le Seigneur; et si nous mourons, nous mourons pour le Seigneur. Soit donc que nous vivions, soit que nous mourions, nous sommes au Seigneur.

а живем ли--для Господа живем; умираем ли--для Господа умираем: и потому, живем ли или умираем, --всегда Господни.

Leben wir, so leben wir dem HERRN; sterben wir, so sterben wir dem HERRN. Darum, wir leben oder sterben, so sind wir des HERRN.

Pues si vivimos, para el Señor vivimos; y si morimos, para el Señor morimos. Así pues, sea que vivamos, o que muramos, del Señor somos.

Quer vivamos, quer morramos, somos do Senhor, dependemos da sua vontade. Quando morrermos, iremos estar com o Senhor. Por isso, tanto na vida como na morte, pertencemos ao Senhor.


(Church in America)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rubén Dario sobre el arte argentino de 1895

En 1895 un decreto del presidente José Evaristo Uriburu
creó el Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes en Buenos Aires
(source: Bellas Artes historia de pared a pared)
no copyright infringement intended

"Entre los setecientos mil habitantes, más o menos, de este poderoso centro del continente, mientras las rotisseries y cafés nocturnos se pueblan de alegres gozadores de la vida, cuando los teatros se vacían, y en los salones se danza, o conversa de modas, de negocios o de política, hay, no lo dudéis, lámparas que alumbran cabezas de soñadores, de trabajadores hay muchos espíritus que se consagran a su obra, llevados de la mano y alentados por sus amigos inmortales, sus músicos, sus pintores, sus escultores, sus poetas." Así era Buenos Aires en 1895 a los ojos del poeta nicaragüense Rubén Dario (1867-1916), quien había desembarcado en la ciudad dos años antes.

(Rubén Darío)


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mario Vargas Llosa: La Isla de Los Tigres

(source: wine blog)
no copyright infringement intended

El viajero chino que por primera vez dejó un testimonio escrito sobre esta isla en el siglo XIV la llamó “La isla de los leones” (Singapura), pero se equivocó de animal, porque aquí nunca hubo leones, sólo tigres, y en gran cantidad, pues hasta muy avanzado el siglo XIX estas fieras se comían a los campesinos que se extraviaban en sus selvas.

(Mario Vargas Llosa)


Friday, November 11, 2016

Andrew O'Hagan

Andrew O'Hagan
(source: hazlitt)
no copyright infringement intended

Scottish novelist (translated into 15 languages), short story writer, essayist, reporter, editor at large, critic at large (seemingly all these avatars are built upon the same persona); born in 1968; his debut novel, (Our Fathers, 1999) has a bildungsroman structure: a family saga unfolding back and forth over three generations; contemporary history as an active background, a tableau of South-West Scotland in the 20th century; the next novel (Personality, 2003) is the story of a child star with amazing beginnings and a rapid rise who is eventually suffocated by the pressure of the milieu; as her celebrity is growing she becomes obsessed with keeping her weight under control, her health diminishes and her mind gets lost; as I've just started a diet myself, maybe I should be aware; Be Near Me (2006): a Catholic priest with a homosexual past, shy in his relations with the parishioners while building in his inner a Proustian universe; a new episode with homoerotic tones will bring the overall blame upon him; is he innocent, victim of an unfortunate incident wrongly interpreted by the others? is he guilty, victim of an impulse impossible to be controlled? but who am I to judge? The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe (2010) is a fantasy having as hero a dog (or better said, his discourses), while the American star appears only sporadically; let's say MM as observed by her dog; The Illuminations (2015) is a war story of a special kind: a doleful cry against the war in Afghanistan (and against the society that made it possible), and in parallel a family tale with all that's going on when a family tale enters the picture.

(A Life in Books)


Monday, November 07, 2016

Booth Tarkington

Booth Tarkington
(source: nuvo)
no copyright infringement intended

In his time he was considered one of the greatest. So many years have passed, and tastes have changed. I love to read books written by authors of his kind, but I am a nostalgic. And when I say nostalgic, it's not about my youth, no. It's for much older times. The irony is that in his novels he was also a nostalgic, so I'm looking for bygone times, finding there an author in love for his own bygone times. A gentleman from the Midwest, definitely conservative, with a lifelong passion for collecting works of art, spending long vacations on the Atlantic shore in Maine, that blessed place where nature keeps its wilderness even today. Nowadays he is best known for his Magnificent Ambersons, written in 1918, describing the epoch when the automobile was brutally taking hold of America. Orson Welles would make from it a great movie, but this was also long ago, in 1942. Here is a web site where you can find many of Tarkington's books. Try and enjoy!

(A Life in Books)


Saturday, November 05, 2016

Angela Carter

Angela Carter
(source: quotesgram)
no copyright infringement intended

English novelist and short story writer, the key words to describe her being post-feminism, magic realism, picaresque; Shadow Dance (1966) has its main characters endlessly roaming the backstreets of London, tormenting people, charming and cheating all around, while developing a pervert curiosity for abandoned buildings; The Magic Toyshop (1967) is a coming of age story told in post-modern tones; Several Perceptions (1968) is a tale of decaying houses, elderly tramps and young hippies, a universe sliding towards hyper-reality; Heroes and Villains (1969) takes us after a nuclear Armageddon, in a world where all our certainties (moral, cultural, even biological) have changed and humans have split in rival species; Love (1971) is not exactly about love, rather love triangle, placing its heroes into a labyrinthic inferno of fidelity / infidelity and extreme alienation; The War of Dreams (1972) presents a community under attack by some reality distorting machines that expand the space and time, allowing monstrous mirages to enter the normal life; most of the people get insane; one of the personages is determined to get the situation back to normal; that puts him on a crash course through alternate worlds; The Passion of New Eve (1977) and Nights at the Circus (1984 - maybe Carter's best known novel) are definitely post-feminist - the matriarchal myths are deconstructed to show that they ultimately lead to the same phalocentric symbols of the male built universes; plus seven short fiction collections, plus poetry, plus non-fiction, etc.; all in all, it sounds insane; truth is that Carter's literary output has an uncanny power of charming the readers and keeping them captive.

Maybe it's good to start by reading one of Carter's short stories, to get a grasp of her world of words and fantasies. Here is a link to The Merchant of Shadows, that I have found in the London Review of Books. It is part of American Ghosts and Old World Wonders collection of short fiction. I found also a discussion about this story (in Metafiction and Metahistory in Contemporary Women's Writing)

(A Life in Books)


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Bernardo Veksler, Una Visión Crítica de la Conquista de América

Una Visión Crítica de la Conquista de América
por Bernardo Veksler
(fuente: free eBooks)
no copyright infringement intended

Este día hemos descubierto un planeta desconocido, situado en una constelación vecina de nuestra Próxima Centauri. Está habitado por homínidos extraños, que absolutamente carecen de nuestras habilidades y de nuestro nivel de civilización. Su religión es absurda, sus costumbres son totalmente ridículos, y es nuestro deber de educarlos. Lo que es importante, aquí hay una gran cantidad de recursos naturales que necesitamos. Creemos que es fácil de controlar las poblaciones de este planeta, ya que parecen estar en una guerra mutua perpetua.
(Extracto del informe de la misión galáctica A34SX57C, enviado al centro interplanetario)

Matter of perspective: Fall of Constantinople or Conquest of Constantinople. The remark of Orhan Pamuk (Istanbul) came to my mind as I was reading Bernardo Veksler's Una Visión Crítica de la Conquista de América. Let's put it this way: history is always written by the conquerors, and always lived by those conquered. For Europeans, 1492 was the year they discovered the New World. For the natives, ellos descubrieron que eran indios y que vivian en América (Eduardo Galeano).

Veksler's book is a document keeping down to the fact all along. El primer impacto fue el asombro, luego el miedo ante las armas de fuego y la fuerza mágica del hombre blanco cubierto con armaduras y montado a caballo. Los invasores aprovecharon el desconcierto y la superioridad tecnológica para dominar fácilmente a las sociedades americanas más desarrolladas.

Were the societies of the natives more developed than the Europeans (as Veksler suggests)? There were many populations, some very advanced, some others still in the phase of hunters-gatherers. Speaking about the advanced ones, I would say they had a civilization developed on different dimensions than the European culture. Though very sophisticated they were easily conquered, just for lacking some European elements that proved vital. It was also the total lack of communication between the various natives' countries (it's the opinion of Yuval Noah Harari). Each time the conquerors were able to play the same tricks. Country after country it was el asombro, luego el miedo ante las armas de fuego, las armaduras y el caballo.

Firstly I considered the book of Veksler as radical to the extreme. Then I realized that it was just factual. Europeans discovered a new world with huge reserves of gold and silver. They conquered it, organizing a huge scale genocide of the indigenous populations. As they needed workforce, they brought slaves from Africa - also on a huge scale; actually a second genocide. As a result, immense quantities of gold and silver were transported to Europe (I remember someone's remark in a discussion I had long time ago: the quantities of precious metal robbed from the New World were so inordinately large that Europe witnessed a period of gold devaluation).

And here comes the big picture (splendidly enunciated by Veksler): a triangle made by America (as raw material supplier), Africa (as workforce supplier), and Europe (as consumer). When it comes to Europe, Veksler makes a further distinction, between countries like Spain and Portugal, too preoccupied with preserving their ways, and countries like England or Flanders, with the skill to put the gold to work, so to speak, to build on it what would become the industrial revolution (tanto España como Portugal carecieron de una burguesía industrial, razón por la cual el flujo masivo de riquezas consolidó a la monarquía limitando el futuro de la fugaz prosperidad; los principales acaparadores de oro y plata americanas fueron sólo un puerto de paso de esas riquezas, utilizado para las crecientes demandas del aparato estatal y de las multitudinarias nobleza y clero, su destino final fue capitalizar y expandir a la burguesía manufacturera francesa, flamenca e inglesa).

Thus Veksler's book draws the portrait of a global economy in nuce - a perfect lesson of large-scale history.

(Bernardo Veksler)

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Singapur: Coches autónomos, niños que juegan con drones y robótica universalizada



Sunday, October 30, 2016

John Betjeman

Sir John Betjeman
(source: HamHigh)
no copyright infringement intended

English poet with a deep fondness for the Victorian architecture (add to this his special interest for ecclesiology, liturgy and the like, with emphasis on the formality of the ritual and resistance to modernity; by the way he was an Anglican and belonged to the High Church orientation; for me, sufficient reasons to love this guy). Now you'd think that such a type would not be very popular; by the contrary, his natural humor, his sense of self-irony (playing all the time the bumbling and fogeyish one) made him very much sympathized by people. A passionate defender of everything Victorian he remained in the public memory with his great TV broadcasts on the subject. As for his poetry, here is a great phrase, coined by W.H. Auden: so at home with the provincial gaslit towns, the seaside lodgings, the bicycle, the harmonium (by the way, I don't know who coined that one with bumbling and fogeyish, but I like it).

(A Life in Books)


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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Birgitta Jónsdóttir
(source: The Reset Button)
no copyright infringement intended

She is a poet and activist, and for her poetics and politics must be considered together (by looking holistically at issues artists could bring new perspectives). I read several of her poems and I'l bring some here. I'm trying to discover in their delicate constructions that link to politics she's talking about. It's not easy, as her political philosophy is blatantly unconventional: she founded the Icelandic Pirate Party (that just made important gains in today's elections there). To understand a little bit her ways, maybe it's good to show here a video with her presentation at TEDx Talks. It's just an entry point, and it's much more to grasp, not only the poetician, as she defines herself. It's a universe where Internet freedom is the tool to build direct democracy I think I'll put here some of her poems, also some columns, from The Guardian.

We, the people, are the system
(video by TEDx Talks)

(German and Nordic Literature)

(Zoon Politikon)