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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Prairie House

Prairie House on the Old Cattle Trail, Roanoke, Texas
(Click here for the Romanian version)

Roanoke, Texas. Passed by the Old Cattle Trail. A barn on the road, it's the Prairie House. You enter inside, rifles hanging on the walls, and all kind of Texan hats, and a pair of shabby cowboy boots. Old gas lamps, stained cans, a very old fashioned sewing machine. Long oak tables. Beer is served in some kind of jars. And then the pan comes, with the Texan steak. John Wayne would have felt here like being in his own. Anyway, photos of him are everywhere on the walls.

And here is the bar. The photo doesn't show the piano, it have known better days, as I tried the keys, only a couple were giving some kind of a sound.

The bar at the Prairie House
I visited also the Stockyards in Fort Worth, the Billy Bobs and all that stuff. I enjoyed it a lot, but it's just too much tourism there. Here at the Prairie House, you smell the true thing.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection

Rothko Chapel and the Broken Obelisk of Barnett Newman, Houston, Texas
Houston, Texas: the Rothko Chapel, and in front of it the Broken Obelisk created by Barnett Newman to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Rothko Chapel, Interior, Houston, Texas
I saw the works of Rothko and Newman at the Washington National Gallery of Art - and there is a small Rothko Room at the Phillips Collection.
Hopefully I will have the possibility to see the Rothko Chapel during my brief staying in Houston.
And here three paintings from the Menil Collection, nearby the chapel. Picasso, a Still Life with Skull, then an astoundingly beautiful Magritte, La Clef de Verre, and a delicate Black Leaf on Green Background, painted by Matisse.
I leave you with them, I will be back at the end of next week.

Picasso, Nature Morte au Crâne, 1945, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas
Magritte, La Clef de Verre, 1959, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas
Matisse, Black Leaf on Green Background, Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

(René Magritte)

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Icoane ortodoxe intr-o colectie texana de arta

Sfantul Onufrie, Creta, Secolul XVII, Colectia John si Dominique de Menil, Houston, Texas
Sfantul Onufrie, icoana din secolul XVII. Provine din Creta, se gaseste acum in colectia John si Dominique de Menil din Houston, Texas. Si icoana Sfintei Marina, din secolul XIII. Iar icoana Intrarii Domnului in Ierusalim provine din Constantinopol, de pe la 1400. Imperiul Bizantin avea sa se sfarseasca dupa doar o jumatate de veac. Spiritul lui in tot ce avea mai bun va dainui mai departe prin cultura ortodoxa.

Poate voi avea norocul sa le vad duminica aceasta.

Sfanta Marina, icoana din secolul XIII, Colectia John si Dominique de Menil, Houston

Intrarea in Ierusalim, Constantinopole, cca 1400

(Icon and Orthodoxy)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

San Antonio

San Antonio River Walk
A new trip in Texas, starting this Friday. We are two, attending next week a training course in Dallas. We will leave early in the morning. The flight will take around three hours. As soon as we are on the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, we will start driving toward San Antonio. They say the river walk there is fabulous, and hopefully there would be the chance of a boat ride.

I'm just reading the history of the place. River Walk, Paseo del Rio, the first document about is from 1536 - written by Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, a shipwrecked captive of Indians.
June 13, 1691, Padre Damian Massanet celebrated here a mass and renamed the stream San Antonio, because it was Saint Antony's day.
And the history went on, in 1821 Mexico gained its independence from Spain, in 1825 US immigrants reached the settlement fo San Antonio and began purchasing land, in 1830 Mexico declared US immigration illegal, in 1836, after fierce battles, Texas gained its independence from Mexico, the border was on Nueces River, in 1845 Texas became a component of the US. The Mexican War followed, the peace treaty would set the things: besides Texas, US took California, Arizona and New Mexico. The Texas border would be from now on Rio Grande.

I've just passed on another web site - here is the history of the siege of Alamo:

In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Marín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós' men — and strengthened its defenses.
On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna's army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

And then we will visit Houston, with its Rothko Chapel - on Sunday evening we will be in Dallas, as our training starts on Monday. It will the whole next week.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ezekiel's Chariot Vision

Curtea de Arges, Biserica Domneasca Sfantul Nicolae
Curtea de Arges, once the capital of the Principality of Wallachia. The church in the image is Biserica Domneasca - the construction was started during the reign of Basarab I, in the first half of the fourteenth century.
While the city of Curtea de Arges is famous for its splendid monastery, Biserica Domneasca is much less known. But it's a magic place. There is an inner spirit living in the Romanian cultural space, and you feel it here, in this old and quiet church.

I was only once inside it, many years ago. I had read about a mural painting there, showing the Chariot Vision from the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. Now I was in front of the painting and I was thinking at the various assumptions made about the vision - and precisely about that painting. Anyway, my eyes were not so trained to perceive small details leading to daring paleo-astronautic conclusions.

As years passed, I realized more and more there is another way to approach sacred stories. It is like approaching art. Looking for explanations don't get you closer. Mystery is to be contemplated in amazement.

1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.

2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoi'achin's captivity,

3 the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chalde'ans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.

4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.

6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.

7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass.

8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.

9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.

10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.

12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.

13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.

14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.

16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.

18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.

19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.

22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the color of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.

23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.

24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of a host: when they stood, they let down their wings.

25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.

26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.

27 And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.

28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.
This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

(King James Bible)

1. In anul al treizecilea, in ziua a cincea a lunii a patra, cand ma aflam intre robi, la raul Chebar, mi s-au deschis cerurile si am vazut niste vedenii dumnezeiesti.
2. In ziua a cincea a lunii a patra, in anul al cincilea ai robirii regelui Ioiachim,
3. A fost cuvantul Domnului catre mine, preotul Iezechiel, fiul lui Buzi, preotul, la raul Chebar, in tara Caldeilor. Acolo a fost peste mine mana Domnului.
4. Eu priveam si iata venea dinspre miazanoapte un vant vijelios, un nor mare si un val de foc, care raspandea in toate partile raze stralucitoare; iar in mijlocul focului stralucea ca un metal in vapaie.
5. Si in mijloc am vazut ceva ca patru fiare, a caror infatisare semana cu chipul omenesc.
6. Fiecare din ele avea patru fete si fiecare din ele avea patru aripi.
7. Picioarele lor erau drepte, iar copitele picioarelor lor erau cum sunt copitele picioarelor de vitel si scanteiau ca arama stralucitoare, iar aripile lor erau sprintene.
8. De cele patru parti ele aveau sub aripi maini de om si toate patru isi aveau fetele lor si aripile lor.
9. Aripile lor se atingeau una de alta, si cand mergeau, fiarele nu se intorceau, ci fiecare mergea drept inainte.
10. Fetele lor? - Toate patru aveau cate o fata de om inainte, toate patru aveau cate o fata de leu la dreapta, toate patru aveau cate o fata de bou la stanga si toate patru mai aveau si cate o fata de vultur in spate.
11. Fetele lor si aripile lor erau despartite in partea de sus, si, la fiecare, doua din aripi erau intinse, iar doua le acopereau trupul.
12. Fiecare fiara mergea drept inainte si mergea incotro ii dadea duhul sa mearga si in mersul sau nu se intorcea.
13. Infatisarea acestor fiare se asemana cu infatisarea carbunilor aprinsi, cu infatisarea unor faclii aprinse; printre fiare curgea foc, iar din foc tasneau raze si fulgere.
14. Fiarele alergau inainte si inapoi iute ca fulgerul.
15. Cand ma uitam eu la fiare, iata am vazut jos, langa aceste fiare, cate o roata la fiecare din cele patru fete ale lor.
16. Aceste roti, dupa infatisarea lor, parca erau de crisolit, iar dupa faptura toate aveau aceeasi infatisare. Si dupa alcatuirea si dupa faptura lor ele parca erau varate una in alta.
17. Ele inaintau in toate cele patru parti, si in timpul mersului nu se intorceau.
18. Obezile lor formau un cerc larg si de o inaltime infricosatoare si aceste obezi la toate patru erau pline de ochi de jur imprejur.
19. Cand mergeau fiarele, mergeau si rotile de langa ele, si cand se ridicau fiarele de la pamant, se ridicau si rotile.
20. Ele mergeau incotro le da duhul sa mearga si rotile se ridicau impreuna, caci duh de viata era si in roti.
21. Cand mergeau acelea, mergeau si acestea, si cand acelea se opreau, se opreau si acestea; iar cand acelea se ridicau de la pamant, atunci impreuna cu ele se ridicau si rotile, pentru ca duh de viata era si in roti.
22. Deasupra capetelor fiarelor se vedea un fel de bolta, intinsa sus, deasupra capetelor lor, care semana cu cristalul cel mai curat;
23. Iar sub bolta aceasta erau intinse aripile fiarelor una spre alta, si fiecare fiara mai avea cate doua aripi, care le acopereau trupurile;
24. Cand mergeau fiarele, auzeam falfaitul aripilor lor, ca un vuiet de ape mari, ca glasul Celui Atotputernic zgomot strasnic, ca zgomotul dintr-un lagar ostasesc; iar cand ele se opreau, isi lasau aripile in jos.
25. Dupa ce fiarele se opreau si isi lasau aripile in jos, zgomotul se auzea inca sub bolta ce se intindea deasupra capetelor lor.
26. Pe bolta de deasupra capetelor fiarelor era ceva care semana cu un tron si la infatisare era ca piatra de safir; iar sus pe acest tron era ca un chip de om.
27. Si am mai vazut ceva, ca un metal inrosit in foc, ca niste foc, sub care se afla acel chip de om si care lumina imprejur; de la coapsele acelui chip de om in sus si de la coapsele chipului aceluia in jos se vedea un fel de foc, un fel de lumina stralucitoare care-l impresura de jur imprejur.
28. Cum este curcubeul ce se afla pe cer la vreme de ploaie, asa era infatisarea acelei lumini stralucitoare care-l inconjura. Astfel era chipul slavei Domnului. Si cand am vazut eu aceasta, am cazut cu fata la pamant.

(Cartea Profetului Iezechiel)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Silviu Brucan

Pro TV: Silviu Brucan, Mihai Codreanu - Profetii despre trecut

Se pot spune foarte multe despre Silviu Brucan. A activat prin anii 40 si 50 in presa comunista din Romania si a facut acolo cam ce faceau toti activistii comunisti ai vremii. Nu a negat niciodata. Nici nu a parut sa regrete.

Anii petrecuti la Washington si apoi New York i-au deschis alte perspective. Era ambasadorul unui stat comunist - deci tot activist al Partidului Comunist - dar a inteles tot mai bine adevaratele mecanisme ale lumii contemporane.

Anii au trecut - ca multi alti activisti superiori de partid de pe vremea lui Dej avea sa fie indepartat de catre Ceausescu de pe scena politica majora. A avut curajul si inteligenta sa faca dizidenta din ce in ce mai activa. Cati ar fi avut curajul sa ia public apararea muncitorilor de la Brasov? Apoi Scrisoarea celor Sase. Desigur, avea relatii si la Moscova, si la Washington. Insa a avut curajul sa le foloseasca. Desigur, a existat motivatia de fost activist indepartat de la putere. Si vom discuta mereu in contradictoriu daca la 22 decembrie grupul din care facea parte Brucan nu a incercat de fapt sa salveze ce se mai putea salva din comunism, daca Brucan si ceilalti nu erau de fapt oamenii Moscovei, infaptuind o lovitura de palat perestroikista impotriva unui om extrem de incomod pentru Moscova.

Sunt convins ca de cate ori se va vorbi despre Silviu Brucan, despre toate acestea se va vorbi.

Poate insa ca nu se va vorbi niciodata indeajuns despre altceva - despre faptul ca in toata perioada din 1989 incoace, Brucan a incercat sa inteleaga in ce directie trebuie sa mearga Romania. Suntem poate prea mult preocupati de trecut. El s-a gandit la viitor. In toti anii acestia a fost preocupat in primul rand de reforma economica si politica din Romania.

Faptul acesta nu ii micsoreaza in nici un fel raspunderile pentru ce a facut in calitate de activist comunist. Insa societatii romanesti ii sunt necesari analisti de talia lui Brucan, care sa fie preocupati de viitorul tarii asa cum a fost peocupat el. Romania a intrat odata cu toate celelalte tari intr-o epoca foarte diferita de ce a fost inainte. Avem nevoie de analisti lucizi, inteligenti, curajosi, care sa inteleaga prezentul si sa aiba o perspectiva clara a viitorului.

Giverny povestit de catre Jean

Claude Monet, Giverny

In fapt, Giverny este un satuc langa Vernon, in Normandie, la vreo 30 de kilometri de mine. Acolo Monet si-a facut cuibul, acolo a pictat oameni si gradina pana in ultimele lui clipe.
Locul a fost intamaiat de admiratorii artistului care au salvat cu inspiratie si transpiratie aceasta bucata de patrimoniu. A devenit loc de pelerinaj iar americanii si-au infiintat alaturi o colonie de artisti activa, infloritoare.
O prima dilema: cand sa vizitezi casa lui Monet? Raspunsul in epoca in care toate gradinile sunt mai frumose se va tempera prin idiosincrazia de a merge intru impartasire, comunicare cu Arta impreuna - puhoi cu puzderia de mici japonezi fotografianti, de mari americani galagiosi, de docti germani in grupuri compacte si alte numeroase neamuri vorbarete, transpirante, ocupatoare de spatiu si invadatoare de peisaj.
Am vazut coltisorul lui Monet in toate sezoanele. Si cel mai drag mi-a fost in afara lor, ca sa zic asa, primavara devreme.

Acum, ca am decis vizita, uite ce descoperim:

Satucul mic, curatel si verde te conduce prin strazile lungi spre locul magic. O casa mare, destul de oarecare din strada. Cand ii calci pragul insa (dupa mereu existenta coada la bilete) dinspre curte te ia cu piele de gaina. Replonjat inainte cu un secol, te surprinde inca din afara nonconformismul: casa tzipa roz visina-putreda si verde frunza. Fauve avant la lettre. Inauntru, camerele inghetate in timp: mobile simple dar originale, obiecte adevarate, si poze... Si, surprinzatoare iar si de neuitat, bucataria galbena (galben crom) scuturand tipicul si vizitatorul, o camera cu soare din pereti, atat de curajoasa pentru epoca incat te amuza in context vechile, desuetele obiecte centenare...

Clou-ul ramane insa gradina.

In spatele casei, o gradina patratoasa, destul de clasica. Ceea ce azi s-ar numi in Franta un jardin de curé, o gradina din dosul casei parohiale a unui preot de tzara. O gradina structurata pe alei drepte, intre parteruri de flori dintre cele pe care le stim din gradinile bunicilor noastre: trandafiri, petunii, zinii... Deasupra aleilor se incoarda arcuri de trandafiri cataratori. Ici si colo cate un bujor arborescent, o albizzia... O dulce desuetitudine.
E departe, ca sa fiu sincer de imaginea gradinii mele ideale. Daca gradina s-ar opri aici ar fi prea putina materie pentru mine ca sa va relatez de ce iubesc eu locul.

Dar Monet si-a mai cumparat un picior de plai. Devenit, da, a urmat ceea ce presupuneti ! Din fundul gradinii popesti, trecand strada (azi un tunel subterana sigura continuitatea = purgatoriul) ajungi direct in rai!

O gradina fara egal in amintirea celui care sunt, vanator de gradini si vizitator asiduu. O gradina impadurita, cu alei intortocheate, crescuta in jurul unei salbe de lacuri...Gradina cu irisi, cu nuferi (nympheas), cu salcii plangatoare care isi limpezesc coama in ape, tufe inflorate si bambus.
Nu poti simti gradina aceea decat dupa ce ai cunoscut sala Monet la Jeu de Paume la Paris, dupa ce te-ai impregnat de tablourile naturii maestrului. Atunci ai cheia raiului si nu iti ramane decat sa faci preumblarea scaldandu-te in atmosfera care a constituit pretextul creatiei de geniu si gustand nemurirea.





Psalterion a archet

A psalm of astonishing beauty.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies;
5 who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;
18 to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

(King James Bible)

1. Bless HASHEM, O my soul; and all that is within me His Holy Name.
2. Bless HASHEM, O my soul, and forget not all His kindnesses.
3. Who forgives all your sins, Who hills all your diseases.
4. Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with kindness and mercy.
5. Who satisfies your mouth with goodness, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
6. HASHEM is the doer of righteous deeds, and judgments for all the oppressed.
7. He made known His ways to Moses, His actions to the children of Israel:
8. Merciful and Compassionate is HASHEM, Slow to Anger and Abundantly Kind.
9. He will not quarrel for eternity, nor will He forever hear a grudge.
10. He has not treated us according to our sins, nor repaid us according to our iniquities.
11. For as high as heaven is above the earth, has His kindness overwhelmed those who fear Him.
12. As far as east from west, has He distanced our transgressions from us.
13. As a father is merciful towards his children, so has HASHEM shown mercy to those who fear Him.
14. For He knew our nature. He is mindful that we are dust.
15. Frail man – his days are like grass; like a sprout of the field, so he sprouts.
16. When a wind passes over it, it is gone, and its place recognizes it no more.
17. But the kindness of HASHEM is forever upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness is upon children’s children.
18. To those who keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commands to fulfill them.
19. HASHEM has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom reigns over all.
20. Bless HASHEM, O His angels; the strong warriors who do His bidding, to obey the voice of His word.
21. Bless HASHEM, all His legions, His servants who do His will.
22. Bles HASHEM, all His works, in all the places of His dominion. Bless HASHEM, O my soul.

(Artscroll Tehillim)

1. Binecuvinteaza, suflete al meu, pe Domnul si toate cele dinlauntrul meu, numele cel sfant al Lui.
2. Binecuvinteaza, suflete al meu, pe Domnul si nu uita toate rasplatirile Lui.
3. Pe Cel ce curateste toate faradelegile tale, pe Cel ce vindeca toate bolile tale;
4. Pe Cel ce izbaveste din stricaciune viata ta, pe Cel ce te incununeaza cu mila si cu indurari;
5. Pe Cel ce umple de bunatati pofta ta; innoi-se-vor ca ale vulturului tineretile tale.
6. Cel ce face milostenie, Domnul, si judecata tuturor celor ce li se face strambatate.
7. Cunoscute a facut caile Sale lui Moise, fiilor lui Israel voile Sale.
8. Indurat si milostiv este Domnul, indelung-rabdator si mult-milostiv.
9. Nu pana in sfarsit se va iuti, nici in veac se va mania.
10. Nu dupa pacatele noastre a facut noua, nici dupa faradelegile noastre a rasplatit noua,
11. Ci cat este departe cerul de pamant, atat este de mare mila Lui, spre cei ce se tem de El.
12. Pe cat sunt de departe rasariturile de la apusuri, departat-a de la noi faradelegile noastre.
13. In ce chip miluieste tatal pe fii, asa a miluit Domnul pe cei ce se tem de El;
14. Ca El a cunoscut zidirea noastra, adusu-si-a aminte ca tarana suntem. 15. Omul ca iarba, zilele lui ca floarea campului; asa va inflori.
16. Ca vant a trecut peste el si nu va mai fi si nu se va mai cunoaste inca locul sau.
17. Iar mila Domnului din veac in veac spre cei ce se tem de Dansul,
18. Si dreptatea Lui spre fiii fiilor, spre cei ce pazesc legamantul Lui
19. Si isi aduc aminte de poruncile Lui, ca sa le faca pe ele. Domnul in cer a gatit scaunul Sau si imparatia Lui peste toti stapaneste.
20. Binecuvantati pe Domnul toti ingerii Lui, cei tari la vartute, care faceti cuvantul Lui si auziti glasul cuvintelor Lui.
21. Binecuvantati pe Domnul toate puterile Lui, slugile Lui, care faceti voia Lui.
22. Binecuvantati pe Domnul toate lucrurile Lui; in tot locul stapanirii Lui, binecuvinteaza suflete al meu pe Domnul.

(Cartea Psalmilor)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

To Everything There Is A Season - Turn, Turn, Turn

To Everything There Is A Season - Turn, Turn, Turn

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

(King James Bible, Ecclesiastes 3, 1-8)

l. Pentru orice lucru este o clipa prielnica si vreme pentru orice indeletnicire de sub cer.
2. Vreme este sa te nasti si vreme sa mori; vreme este sa sadesti si vreme sa smulgi ceea ce ai sadit.
3. Vreme este sa ranesti si vreme sa tamaduiesti; vreme este sa darami si vreme sa zidesti.
4. Vreme este sa plangi si vreme sa razi; vreme este sa jelesti si vreme sa dantuiesti.
5. Vreme este sa arunci pietre si vreme sa le strangi; vreme este sa imbratisezi si vreme este sa fugi de imbratisare.
6. Vreme este sa agonisesti si vreme sa prapadesti; vreme este sa pastrezi si vreme sa arunci.
7. Vreme este sa rupi si vreme sa cosi; vreme este sa taci si vreme sa graiesti.
8. Vreme este sa iubesti si vreme sa urasti. Este vreme de razboi si vreme de pace.
(Cartea Ecclesiastului 3, 1-8)

Ecclesiastes is the Greek translation for the Hebrew Qoheleth, meaning perhaps one who convokes an assembly. The book, however, does not consist of public addresses, but is a treatise, more or less logically developed, on the vanity of all things.
(Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Bible)

There are many roads to the Word of the Lord. I heard a song that I liked, Turn, Turn, Turn. I went then to the Book of Ecclesiastes to find there the verses.
How do we receive the wisdom of the Book? With certain sadness, we’d like to remain young. Here’s another song:

Once upon a time there was a tavern...
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours...
And dreamed of all the great things we would do?

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cinema asiatic

Imagine din filmul 'A fost odata un tata' de Yasujiro Ozu

Yasujiro Ozu, Akira Kurosawa, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee, Kim Ki-Duk, Wong Kar-Wai, Zhang Yi-Mou... I discovered them one by one, and I'll try to retell here the stories in their movies. I chose for the beginning two images from Yasujiro Ozu's movies - from Chichi Ariki (There Was a Father), and Ukigusa (Floating Weeds).

Imagine din filmul 'Buruieni plutitoare' de Yasujiro Ozu



Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hou Hsiao-Hsien - cehovian si matein

Scena de debut a filmului

Shanhaiul anilor 1880. Acolo suntem, cu filmul acesta al lui Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Flowers of Shanghai. Patru bordeluri de mare clasa, aflate in cartierul cel mai select, in Concesiunea Britanica. Sigur, vor fi fost in Shanhaiul anilor acelora si bordeluri sordide, pentru lumpen, sau pentru matelotii care acostau pe acolo, se imbatau crita si cautau o partida de sex ieftin, dar casele acestea de toleranta sunt cu totul altceva, un univers inchis, frecventat exclusiv de oameni foarte bogati si buni cunoscatori ai artei erotice.

Flower Houses, case de flori - bordelurile acestea sunt adevarate sere - suntem in adancul Orientului, mirosurile te ametesc, vinurile sunt drese cu mirodenii, luleaua cu opiu este la indemana - peretii camerelor sunt capitonati in lemn de culoare inchisa - tot filmul se petrece inauntrul acestor camere.

Si este un erotism ametitor - fara ca filmul sa aiba nici o scena erotica de fapt - dar imaginile sunt incarcate in subliminal de un erotism greu.

In fiecare bordel exista o prostituata aflata in anii ei de apogeu, marea curtezana - si un client care a cumparat un abonament exclusiv pe mai multi ani. Sunt apoi fetele tinere, scolite din mers, si fireste batranele, prostituatele iesite din uz. Candva vor fi fost ele marile curtezane, acum sunt slujitoare, si incearca sa mai controleze putin universul acesta, printr-un joc subtil de intrigi, de aliante si dusmanii, de santaj...

Desigur, este si madama, i se spune cu multa afectiune matusica. Trebuie sa aiba o mana de fier - fetele tinere se mai indragostesc de cate un tasti-basti fara bani, apoi trebuie pastrat controlul asupra marii curtezane, exista in fiecare din cele patru case de flori conflicte surde. Uneori matusica se mai indragosteste de cate un tanar care ii cere toti banii - se mai imprumuta de la curtezana, viata are suisuri si coborasuri.

Este o lume privita cu un ochi intelegator, cu multa simpatie, dar in acelasi timp fara nici o crutare. Il simti parca pe Cehov, venit la taifasurile interminabile, rezemandu-si falca in pumn si privind cu ochii mijiti la cei de pe acolo, zambitor, putin obosit, urmarindu-l cu simpatie pe fiecare, fara iluzii, dar fara sa judece pe nimeni, stiind ca si aici se desfasoara aceeasi mare comedie a lumii de pretutindeni.

Este Cehov aici, dar imaginatia baroca este a lui Mateiu Caragiale - ma intreb cum ar arata un film al Crailor de Curtea Veche facut de Hou Hsiao-Hsien?

Un comentator al fimului ne sfatuieste sa renuntam la subtitluri. Cum asa, noi nu stim chineza! Ei bine, si pentru chinezi limba vorbita in film este dificila - este un dialect, diferit de mandarina, si plin de expresii care se foloseau in Shanhaiul anilor 1880' - iesite de mult din uz.

A traduce filmul acesta inseamna a-l saraci. E pacat sa fie tradus chiar si in chineza.

Ca si Craii de Curtea Veche, cu grecismele si turcismele savuroase din veacul al nouasprezecelea, iesite si ele de mult din uz.

Bine, bine, si atunci cum sa intelegi filmul?
Povestea lui este spusa de imagini, iar sonoritatea fascinanta a cuvintelor ne este de ajuns, nu mai e nevoie sa le stim intelesul concret - si iarasi imi vin in minte Craii.

Imi pare rau ca nu am vazut filmul lui Mircea Veroiu, banuiesc ca si el a inteles ca povestea Crailor nu se poate spune pe ecran decat in imagini - numai atunci i se face lui Mateiu dreptate si povestea lui devine universala.

Flowers of Shanghai - ochiul lui Cehov si viziunea lui Mateiu - am vazut filmul de mai multe ori, si de fiecare data am avut senzatia ca in spatele camerei de filmat se aflau Cehov si Mateiu Caragiale, angajati intr-un jam session in care fiecare intra pe rand sa ne spuna povestea.

Esmerald - o curtezana care negociaza cu clientul ei pentru a completa suma de rascumparare - candva de mult a fost vanduta pentru bordel de catre parintii ei, matusica a facut apoi cheltuieli mari cu ea pentru a o educa si o pune in valoare - clientul ei ar putea sa o ajute acum - este un moment prielnic pentru ca matusica are un amant tanar si are nevoie disperata de bani - clientul (interpretat de Jack Kao, un actor pe care aveam apoi sa il vad in multe alte filme ale lui Hou Hsiao-Hsien), tine foarte mult la banii lui asa ca negocierile intre el, Esmerald si matusica sunt foarte stranse.

Pearl (interpretata de Carina Lau, aveam sa o revad in 2046 al lui Wong Kar-Wai) - aici ea este o curtezana care incepe sa nu mai fie chiar tanara - stie foarte bine ca urmarirea controlului se poate face si altfel decat prin seductie erotica, si e in primul rand interesata sa aibe controlul asupra bordelului. Iar clientul ei este chiar unchesul - si el vine la bordel nu pentru sex, ci pentru a avea controlul asupra clientilor, iar relatia lui cu Pearl este o relatie politica, intre ei exista schimburi de informatii si discutii in vederea adoptarii unor strategii comune.

Si Crimson - curtezana superba de care Master Wang, clientul ei, este de fapt indragostit. Si de fapt ar vrea sa se insoare cu ea, dar nu are curajul. Ar vrea sa si scape de ea, dar se simte legat. In fiecare seara ar vrea sa plece, pana la urma ramane. Intr-o seara nu mai poate suporta tensiunea, bea pana isi pierde mintile si distruge toate portelanurile - tot el le-a cumparat. Crede la un moment dat ca a gasit solutia (daca ar fi fost roman, ar fi stiut expresia cui pe cui se scoate), incepe sa frecventeze o prostituata mai tanara.

Si atunci filmul are una din cele mai superbe imagini pe care le-am vazut vreodata pe ecran - as vrea sa le povestesc odata si odata pe rand, aceste imagini pe care le cred cele mai frumoase din istoria cinematografiei.

Da, aici in Flowers of Shangai este una din imaginile la care tin cel mai mult - camera de filmat staruie pe figura lui Crimson, care intelege ca a pierdut lupta, de acum urmeaza imbatranirea, va mai avea poate niste clienti de duzina, va trebui sa se mute apoi in odaile slugilor...

Se va intoarce la ea Master Wang? Filmul este voit ambiguu, s-ar parea ca da, el se va intoarce, desi intre timp se casatorise cu prostituata cea tanara! - dar nu este prea clar - si aici este un alt merit al filmului care de fapt sugereaza ca lupta dintre Wang si Crimson, cu impacari si despartiri, nu are cum sa se sfarseasca.

Tony Leung il joaca pe melancolicul Master Wang - a fost primul film in care l-am vazut, aveam sa il vad dupa aceea in filmele lui Wong Kar-Wai.

Un fir muzical care revine pe tot parcursul filmului - inebunitor, dar avand rostul lui, sugerand un univers circular din care nu ai cum sa iesi.

Si scena cu care incepe filmul, cu clientii asezati in jurul mesei, angajati intr-un joc stupid de societate pe care nimeni dintre noi nu il intelege, o scena lunga de tot, si care trebuie sa fie atat de lunga pentru a ne da ragazul de a intra in universul creat pentru noi de catre Hou Hsiao-Hsien.

Un univers in tonuri rosietice si aurii, luminat difuz de lumanari si lampi cu ulei, limitat de panouri de lemn de culoare inhisa, unde curtezanele se lupta sa devina sotiile clientilor, clientii se lupta sa isi pastreze curtezanele fara a se casatori cu ele, prostituatele tinere se lupta sa ia locul curtezanelor, prostituatele batrane sunt un memento mori, matusicile au de controlat un business care se poate duce naibii oricand - filmul nu paraseste o clipa interiorul bordelurilor, dar nu vorbeste despre sex, ci despre lupta nemiloasa pe care o da fiecare pentru a avea controlul.

O lupta care se duce cu respectarea absoluta a unor reguli pe care nimeni nu are curajul sa le incalce. Exista un cod de la care prostituatele nu se abat. Pana la urma matusica are autoritate absoluta. Si exista de fapt un cod caruia i se supun si clientii. Exista unchesul, cel care are intotdeauna ultimul cuvant, cel care negociaza compromisurile intre ei si prostituate.

Si mult timp dupa ce ai vazut filmul, incepi sa intelegi ca povestea aceasta nu este despre prostituate si clienti, ci despre noi, despre setea noastra de putere, despre intrigile noastre, despre regulile si ierarhiile stupide carora ne supunem, despre faptul ca nu avem curaj si ne balbaim toata viata, despre faptul ca imbatranim si ne ducem dracului - Flowers of Shanghai este tabloul universului nostru din care nu putem scapa, inchisoarea noastra cea de toate zilele.

(Hou Hsiao-Hsien)

(Mateiu Caragiale)

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Jihad Bloggers

Blogging the Apocalypse

This keyboard is of course imaginary, the potential of blogosphere is real. Jihad fighters live in today's world and they know very well what the term of net roots is about.

There is an op-ed in today's NY Times about this issue, authored by Bernard Haykel and Saud al-Sarhan.

Bernard Haykel wrote about the Revival and Reform in Islam. He is an associate professor of Islamic studies at New York University.
Saud al-Sarhan is a Saudi Arabia-based analyst of Islamist groups.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Thomas Hoepker - Watching the World Change - a Troubling Image

Thomas Hoepker, Magnum Photo, Watching the World Change

(Click here for the Romanian version)

An op-ed from today's NY Times (Frank Rich: Whatever Happened to the America of 9/12?) directed me to a troubling image. It's made by Thomas Hoepker, and David Friend speaks about it.

David Friend is the author of Watching the World Change, the Stories Behind the Images of 9/11. Robert Stone says about this book that it embodies the Buddhist wisdom about change, life, and the world more than anything written after the events of that day.

I was in New York that day and I would try sometime to tell what I felt. But the image made by Thomas Hoepker is so haunting, the scene is so schizophrenic, under the apparent tranquility so devastating, that I should leave here David Friend to comment it. David Friend started a blog related to his book, and here is what he posted on September 10, 2006:

Here is the image, by Thomas Hoepker of Magnum Photos, mentioned in Sunday's compelling Frank Rich column in The New York Times. Taken in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on September 11, 2001, it shows a disorientingly tranquil and schizophrenic scene: a handful of young people, as if on a lunch break or taking a breather from a bike ride. It's a kind of troubling picture, Hoepker says in Watching the World Change. The sun was shining....It's possible they lost people and cared. But the idyllic quality turned me off.
It took the photographer four years before he felt inclined to publish it, fearing that the image, if shown too soon after the attacks, might have invited certain complacency in the viewer, instead of the outrage or anguish the situation demanded. Indeed, the picture's postmodern stasis didn't meet any of our standard expectations of what a September 11 photograph should look like.
Over time, with perspective, it grew in importance, Hoepker now says. It's a very contemporary picture: The bright colors are up front, but it has that touch of neutrality, coolness, a bit of a distance to suffering and not trusting of emotions.... It took a while for the news to sink in. It took a while to know how to react.

(New York, New York)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Many Are Called - the NY Subway Photos of Walker Evans

Walker Evans, Many Are Called
(Click here for the Romanian version)

Walker Evans made his New York Subway photos in 1938, with a camera hidden in his coat. In 1966 the photos would be collected in a book, Many Are Called.

Many Are Called - there is a story on display on one of the walls of Ellis Island Museum. It's a story coming from the folklore of Italian immigrants: We have been told that in America streets were paved with gold. We came here to find out that streets were not paved with gold, they were not paved at all, and we were expected to pave them.

Walker Evans, Lost in Thought Yes, Many Are Called. The American Dream is for all, the winners are some.
The others are the people populating the photos of Walker Evans. The images were shot in 1938, yet I met these same people in the New York subway - the commuters, looking for a job or running from one job to another. The same characters in 2006 as in 1938. This worker, lost in his thoughts, is in the train number 1, going to the Staten Island Ferry (the persons in the first image seem to be in the same train, toward the ferry). In all subway stations the platforms fit 10 cars - only the South Station (for the Staten Island ferry) has a platform accommodating only the first five cars of the train.
So trains number 1 have a notice in each car, informing the passengers that for South Station one has to be in one of the first five cars. The notice is in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Italian. And starting with the station from Canal Street, the train operator reminds the passengers that for South Station they have to be in one of the first five cars.
I was once in that train, going to the ferry, and I took place in the first car. The operator was repeating the warning in each station. Chambers Street station came and the operator announced us that this was our last chance to change the train for Brooklyn. Then again the announcement with the first five cars.
Rector Street, the last stop before South Station. Again the announcement. The train put itself in motion. Two minutes, and the train stopped. We waited patiently, only after ten minutes people started to loose patience. The operator went out of his cabin. We asked him what the matter was. He didn't answer. He traversed all cars, and put the train in motion backwards, so we arrived again at Rector Street. We went out of the train and asked the station manager what happened. I don't know, was the answer. People were angry, but we need to go to the ferry.
Then you should have been in one of the first five cars, replied the manager.
I arrived very late at home that evening. I started to tell the story, I was interrupted, you should have in one of the first five cars!

Billy Bitzer (the cinematographer of The Birth of a Nation and of Intolerance) made in 1905 a short feature (5 minutes) having as unique character the New York Subway: a view of a subway car, taken from another one, as it makes a trip through the tunnels from Union Square to Grand Central. The New York Subway Network had started to operate just seven months ago.

I came once to New York when the whole transportation system was in strike. It was in 2005, just before Christmas. I spent three days wandering through the streets of Lower and Mid Manhattan - one of these days I went to meet a friend, so I walked the whole distance from Union Square to Grand Central.

This New York Subway is part of the collection of short movies about New York, produced between 1899 and 1940. Billy Bitzer is present in the collection also with another movie, Panorama from the Tower of Brooklyn Bridge, made in 1903. Only 30 seconds of film could be recuperated for the collection: a view of Lower Manhattan from atop the Brooklyn Bridge. The image was seriously damaged, which makes it a masterpiece! One of the most hallucinatory images of Lower Manhattan I have ever seen.

Am petrecut toata noaptea pe schelele mahalalelor
lasandu-mi sangele pe stucatura proiectelor,
ajutandu-i pe marinari sa stranga velele sfasiate.
si stau cu mainile goale in murmurul gurii fluviului.
(Federico Garcia Lorca, Christmas at Hudson,
Romanian version by Gabriela Banu)

Tide swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown
(Walt Whitman, Mannahatta)

Walker Evans, The Accordian Player
Many Are Called - this accordion player, the singers on subway trains and stations, or on the Staten Island Ferry, the ambulant preachers with Bible in hand, some people are looking at them, others are reading the newspapers, some mock them - I remember the ambulant preacher coming everyday on the Staten Island Ferry and reminding us every time that End Is Near - he had once an accident but kept coming in crutches - I admired his will.

Walker Evans, Suspicious?

The suspicious couple seems to go in the same train number 1, towards the ferry. And the ladies? I met them so many times on subway and on the ferry: the ladies of Staten Island, I should tell once their story.
The universe of New York subway: commuters between two jobs, people looking for a job, music players and preachers, indifferent regards, suspicious regards, gossip... Many Are Called.

Walker Evans, Gossip

(New York, New York)


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Zoroastrians today

Zoroastrians gathered for an annual fire ceremony last month in Burr Ridge, Ill. A portrait of the Prophet Zarathustra is in the background (Sally Ryan for NY Times)

My friend Mihai Bota signaled me an article in today's NY Times about today's Zoroastrians.

People in the image gathered for the annual ceremony of fire. The portrait on the wall represents Prophet Zarathustra. The resemblance with images picturing Jesus is striking and it speaks much about cross-influences among faiths born in neighboring areas.

What is the relation between Good and Evil in Universe? Is the Universe good in its essence, as being God's creation? Is the Universe far from its originary perfection, as being perverted by Evil? Is the Universe in opposition to God from the very beginning, as being created by Evil? Each faith tries to answer these questions.

The dualistic nature of Universe is the answer offered by Zoroastrianism - Good and Evil in continuous struggle. This answer proved very fertile in the history of thought: the Mysterium Magnum of Jakob Boehme would describe a Universe antithetic in its essence, with Good and Evil in struggle from the very beginning; William Blake, on Boehme's traces, would consider that now and then Good and Evil play each one the other's part. Does this sound weird? Well, then Hegel would sound weird, too.

Zoroasrian priests during the fire ceremonyAround 11,000 Zoroastrians live today in the United States. They came from India (where they are known as Parsis). Generally they are well-educated professionals, belonging to the middle and upper class. In his day job, Kersey H. Antia is a psychologist who specializes in panic disorders. In his private life, Mr. Antia dons a long white robe, slips a veil over his face and goes to work as a Zoroastrian priest, performing rituals passed down through a patrilineal chain of priests stretching back to ancient Persia (NY Times).

(Church in America)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New York, New York

Childe Hassam, Manhattan's Misty Sunset, 1911

Proud and Passionate City
(Walt Whitman)

New York de namol,
New York de sarma si moarte:
Ce ingeri ascunsi porti in obraz?
(Federico Garcia Lorca, Romanian translation by Gabriela Banu)

The free city! no slaves! no owners of slaves!
The beautiful city, the city of hurried and sparkling waters!

The city of spires and masts!
The city nested in bays! my city!
(Walt Whitman, Mannahatta)

Iar tu, frumosule Walt Whitman, dormi pe malul Hudson-ului
cu barba catre pol si bratele deschise
(Garcia Lorca, Oda la Walt Whitman)

(Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca)

(Walt Whitman)

(Gabriela Banu)

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Interviu cu asasinul

Raymond J. Barry in rolul lui Walter Ohlinger

Un film documentar care este un lung interviu.
L-am vazut pe un dvd, acum vreun an, unele amanunte le-am uitat, dar impresia a ramas la fel de puternica.
Un interviu lung de vreo ora si jumatate. Doua personaje. Reporterul si cel intervievat.
Pe reporter il cheama Ron Kobeleski. Apare foarte rar in fata noastra, pentru ca rostul lui este sa stea in spatele camerei de filmare. Din cateva fraze pe care le scapa aproape involuntar, aflam cate ceva despre el - este un cameraman TV aflat cam de mult fara nici un angajament - iar interviul asta i-a picat pe neasteptate si ar putea sa fie norocul vietii lui. Asta daca va reusi sa scape cu viata dupa interviu - din cand in cand suna telefonul si o voce necunoscuta il ameninta. Ne dam seama de asta din expresia fetei lui (apare pe ecran ca sa raspunda la telefon, lasa camera pe automat, sa filmeze putin de una singura) si din frazele pe care le spune la telefon.

Pentru ca intervievatul, Walter Ohlinger, pretinde nici mai mult nici mai putin ca este adevaratul asasin al presedintelui Kennedy. Ohlinger a solicitat sa dea interviul - iar reporterul, Kobeleski, este foarte incredul - numai ca unele amanunte se potrivesc prea bine.

Interviul are loc intr-o camera de motel, de-a lungul catorva zile, la un moment dat cei doi fac o calatorie pana in Dallas si merg acolo unde Kennedy a fost omorat, in Dealey Plaza.

Sa ne amintim putin ce s-a intamplat in 22 noiembrie 1963.

Convoiul prezidential se deplasa pe Main Street. Au ajuns in Dealey Plaza, in dreptul obeliscului care marcheaza locul in care a fost prima cladire din Dallas - tribunal local, inchisoare locala si loja masonica locala, toate la un loc. Convoiul coteste la dreapta. La cativa metri este intersectia cu Elm Street, strada paralela cu Main Street, care insa continua coborand in panta. Convoiul prezidential coteste la stanga pe Elm Street si incepe coborarea in panta. In acel moment presedintele este impuscat - va fi arestat Lee Harvey Oswald, care se aflase in depozitul de carti de langa Elm Street. Cateva detalii nu s-au lamurit niciodata.

La aceste detalii se refera acum Ohlinger - si explicatiile lui sunt foarte consistente. A fost candva puscas in infanteria marina, acum are peste 60 de ani si este bolnav de cancer. De aceea s-a decis sa incredinteze secretul unui reporter TV - l-a gasit pe Kobeleski, pentru ca sunt vecini de multa vreme.

Era un adversar al politicii lui Kennedy? Nu, si in masura in care a fost interesat de politica poate spune ca pentru America a fost rau ca presedintele Kennedy a fost asasinat. Au trecut de atunci patruzeci de ani si se poate vedea cu ochiul liber.

Si atunci, de ce l-a omorat pe presedinte? Primise o comanda, cand esti asasin profesionist nu discuti comenzile. Totusi, era vorba de presedintele Statelor Unite. Presedintele este si el de fapt un om, de ce sa nu poata fi impuscat?

Este Ohlinger adevaratul asasin sau este un nebun care inventeaza? Reporterul este inclinat mai curand sa creada ca Ohlinger este nebun si pe masura ce interviul avanseaza, realizeaza tot mai mult ca Ohlinger este un nebun primejdios si ca ar fi bine sa gaseasca un mijloc de a stopa interviul.

Iarasi, ne dam seama de asta mai mult din felul in care pune intrebarile, tot mai nervos.

Este de fapt un interviu destul de prost realizat, Kobeleski nu este decat un amator, dar ceea ce spune Ohlinger este incredibil.

Si pana la urma reporterul va intelege ca Ohlinger nu minte, el a fost adevaratul asasin al lui Kennedy si ca de acum nu mai exista scapare nici pentru el, a mers prea departe cu interviul si stie prea multe.

Si in momentul acela, interviul se termina brusc, ultima scena este foarte neclara, este cineva impuscat? Cine? Ohlinger? Kobeleski?

Nu avem de unde sa o aflam, pentru ca incepe post-genericul. Si de abia in momentul acela realizam ca de fapt ceea ce am vazut nu este un documentar, interviul nu este real, este un film de fictiune, realizat extraordinar.

This film is amazing. 100% amazing. Everything about it is so real, all the little touches lead to it looking like a true documentary, and yet there are some great filmmaking techniques that are "happy accidents" that advance it as a dramatic story as well.The lead actor is frighteningly good, as is the mostly off-camera actor playing Ron... very impressive and just downright astonishing.Recommended easily, and its very rewatchable too. Hell, even some real documentaries don't hold up to repeated viewings like this mock-one does. (Scott Summerton)

Alte cateva comentarii pe imdb: Minimalist Masterpiece... Powerfully subtle... The Blair Witch of conspiracy theories.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Hou Hsiao-Hsien - efectul de hipnoza

Rembrandt, Return of Prodigal Son, Hermitage Museum, Sankt PetersburgRembrandt a tratat Parabola Intoarcerii Fiului Risipitor schimband accentele. Aici, in tabloul aflat la Ermitaj, esentiala este relatia dintre batranul tata si fiul care s-a intors. Tatal este in tabloul acesta foarte batran. Mainile lui parca il cauta pe fiu, parca il pipaie sa se convinga - poate ca tatal a orbit de batranete. Este oricum aproape de moarte, iar mainile lui vor sa afle ca este adevarat, ca fiul pe care il iubeste atat de mult s-a intors, ca el, tatal, a apucat sa nu moara cu fiul ratacind undeva in lume. Este dorinta batranului de a sti ca poate fi in sfarsit fericit.
Si este baiatul, intors cu spatele spre noi. Straiele ii sunt ferfenita, este ras in cap - este cu spatele la noi, dar simti ca a avut parte de toate umilintele, nimeni nu l-a crutat - este umilit, este distrus moral, dar este inapoi si se strange si el cu inversunare in tatal sau, ca sa se convinga ca acum e in siguranta.
Si sunt barbatii ceilalti, printre ei este desigur si fiul care a ramas sub autoritatea tatalui si acum carteste - dar nu asta e important in tablou.
Important este altceva - Rembrandt ii aseaza acolo pe barbati, ca sa porneasca un cerc care se continua cu noi, cei aflati in fata tabloului. Ei si noi suntem martorii scenei dintre tata si fiu.
Si desi fiul este intors cu spatele spre noi, simtim tot dramatismul lui, pentru ca apartinem acelui cerc inceput cu barbatii privitori din tablou - si in felul acesta participam activ la dinamismul scenei. Nu mai conteaza ca fiul este cu spatele la noi, conteaza ca este in centrul cercului nostru si in felul acesta il putem focaliza.

Este o problema cu care se confrunta nu numai pictorii, dar si regizorii de film - ai de filmat o scena in care personajele sunt asezate in jurul unei mese - unul dintre eroi va fi evident cu spatele la noi. Sa ne amintim numai de scena de debut din Reservoir Dogs a lui Quentin Tarantino. David Bordwell are un capitol intreg consacrat acestei probleme in cartea sa, Figures Traced in Light.

Cea mai mare parte a regizorilor rezolva problema aceasta la montaj. Scena este filmata pe bucati, bucatile se aseaza ca sa se potriveasca la montaj, iar spectatorul vede imaginea plimbandu-se pe rand pe fata fiecarui personaj. Exista doua riscuri. In primul rand intre doua filmari detaliile se mai pot schimba din greseala, iar spectatorul vede ca o furculita devina lingurita pentru a deveni din nou furculita dupa doua secunde. In al doilea rand plimbarea camerei de filmat de pe fata unui personaj pe a altuia trebuie sa para naturala - altfel este ca si cand aduci fiecare personaj pe rand in fata microfonului pentru a-si debita partitura. Aici intervine maiestria regizorului, iar David Bordwell descrie in cartea sa cateva scene de acest fel care au fost rezolvate cu succes.

Hou Hsiao-Hsien nu foloseste principiul filmarilor pe bucati care sa fie apoi asamblate la montaj. La el fiecare scena dureaza extrem de mult - cu riscul de a plictisi sau enerva spectatorii. Este insa o decizie asumata constient de Hou, care mizeaza pe efectul de hipnoza. Durata extrem de lunga a scenelor te poate enerva, dar de fapt in felul acesta esti prins in mrejele povestii, care ramane in tine mult timp dupa ce filmul s-a terminat.

Si atunci Hou Hsiao-Hsien adopta solutia lui Rembrandt. Unul din personaje va fi intotdeauna cu spatele la spectatori, dar cercul se inchide prin noi, suntem in ceafa lui, il simtim, tensiunea lui ni se transmite si nu mai e nevoie sa ii vedem fata - simtim ca noi suntem de fapt personajul acela, reactiile lui i le simtim foarte bine, pentru ca sunt reactiile noastre.

Scena de debut a filmului Flowers of Shangai este cea mai cunoscuta - dar si in celelalte filme exista scene rezolvate la fel - de exemplu in Maestrul Papusar.

(Hou Hsiao-Hsien)