Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Verflucht und Zugenäht
sie zeigt mir ihre Äpfelchen, da ist's um mich gescheh'n.
Doch als mir meine Liebste der Liebe Frucht gesteht,
da hab' ich meinen Hosenlatz verflucht und zugenäht.
Prima oară am auzit expresia asta, Verflucht und Zugenäht, pe când aveam mai puţin de zece ani. O folosea din când în când o doamnă care locuia împreună cu noi. Era mai în vârstă decât părinţii mei, se născuse în 1893. Țin minte anul pentru că odată mi-a dăruit o carte, care avea să fie unul din tovarăşii mei buni ani de-a rândul. Cartea se numea Pe drumuri nebătute de la Polul Nord la Polul Sud, şi era scrisă de Sven Hedin. De fapt primisem numai trei din cele şase volume în care apăruse cartea în ediţia românească, restul de trei volume se rătăciseră. Ei bine, primul capitol al primului volum din cartea pe care o primisem vorbea despre expediţia spre Polul Nord a suedezului Andrée: Hedin se întâlnise cu Andrée pe când acesta din urmă îşi pregătea expediţia cu balonul în care avea să dispară fără urme. Iar întâlnirea avusese loc în anul 1893, an în care se născuse şi Doamna Paranici. Mai târziu, aveam să leg anul acesta şi de altă dată istorică: în sinuoasa traiectorie a relaţiilor noastre cu Iugoslavia, după ce Tito fusese înjurat zdravăn şi acuzat de toate crimele posibile, se produsese împăcarea. Mă uitam la ziare, îi vedeam poza şi nu îmi venea să cred că nu mai vedeam caricatura cu satârul din care picura sânge. Iar Tito se născuse în 1892, adică era cu un an mai bătrân decât Doamna Paranici.
Doamna Paranici era bucovineancă, se născuse în Vatra Dornei. Ca orice bucovinean de vârsta ei, vorbea bine germana, ucraineana şi poloneza. Aşa că m-a ajutat mult şi la lecţiile mele de limba rusă pentru şcoală. Aveam de făcut exerciţii de gramatică, stătea şi se gândea cum se conjugă verbul respectiv în ucraineană şi apoi deducea cum trebuie să fie în rusă.
De fapt avea o pasiune pentru limbi străine, şi cred ca ea mi-a transmis pasiunea aceasta şi mie.
Am întrebat-o odată ce înseamnă Verflucht und Zugenäht, cum zic, o auzeam cu exclamaţia asta când ceva nu mergea cum trebuie.
Evident că o doamnă atât de vârstnică nu putea să îmi spună că era vorba de o înjurătură, aşa că mi-a povestit o istorie cu un domn care îşi făcuse un costum la croitor. Cu costumul nou s-a dus în prima duminică la biserică. În timpul slujbei, a simţit nevoia să facă pipi. A răbdat cât a răbdat, dar nevoia devenise imperioasă, aşa încât a ieşit din biserică şi s-a apropiat de un zid să îşi desfacă şliţul, când, oroare, croitorul uitase să îl descoasă! Aşa încât bietul om a exclamat cu năduf, Verflucht und Zugenäht!
Au trecut anii, zeci de ani, şi nu am uitat-o pe Doamna Paranici, nici cum mă ajuta la lecţiile mele de rusă pentru şcoală folosind cunoştinţele ei de ucraineană, nici de spiritul ei viu şi iscoditor, care o făcea să stabilească rapid legături între anul ei de naştere şi date din istorie, şi în primul rând nu am uitat-o pentru dragostea pe care mi-a purtat-o.
Dar exact ce înseamnă Verflucht und Zugenäht tot nu am reuşit să aflu, mulţi ani. În primul rând că auzisem doar expresia, nu o văzusem scrisă, aşa încât îmi închipuiam că este Verflucht und Zugenet. M-am gândit şi la variaţii, de genul Zugenecht sau Zugennecht. Sau chiar Zugerrecht! De fapt era Zugenäht. Este o înjuratură foarte blândă, ceva de genul, ei, fir-ar să fie! În engleză exclamaţia echivalentă este Damn and Blast!
A polite way to share your annoyance or anger over whatever has just happened. Often used by older, maybe relatively posh people:
man1 - oh damn and blast! I'm late for polo!
man2 - Golly old fellow, you better be off, tally ho!
Acum o să mă întrebaţi ce înseamnă Golly, şi ce înseamnă tally ho. Vă las vouă plăcerea să scotociţi prin dicţionare, cum am făcut şi eu :)
Sau ca aici:
Verflucht und Zugenäht! Sie haben alle Hotdogs verkauft!
Ein Bein stellen und sie verletzen
Und sie, von Gönnern geldunterstützt,
Der Künstler, Dichter
Oder nur Mensch ist, unbändig verehren.
Man sollte das andre, konträre Gelichter
Zermalmen und sich selber vermehren.
Man sollte – –
Wenn nicht der liebe Gott es hin
Und wieder ganz anders wollte.
Eve Packer: 303
303, written by Eve Packer, was published in Big City Lit in the fall of 2010. Eve dedicated it to n.j.h.
one minute blue sky
the next gone
at summers end
i salute you aries
we are up in the room
Labels: Eve Packer
D S-K and the Conspiration Theory
I used to believe that the taste for conspiracy theories belonged to poor or small countries exclusively. Well, it seems to be an European quality at large. D S-K cannot be guilty because he's one of ours. Oh Gosh, how stupid can be the smart ones! Look, if we refer to the merits of D S-K while he was at IMF's helm, they are obvious. But this is not the issue. The issue is his sex behavior. Have you heard about the expression old dirty man? It's about sex, stupid!
Read Roger Cohen's column in today's NY Times:
Labels: Roger Cohen
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
For Office Civility, Cherchez La Femme
Because the alleged sex-story of D S-K came out so brutally and without notice, many people jumped to a huge denial, they saw in the man a victim, forgetting who the victim really was. For Jean-Francois Kahn, D S-K was not trying to rape the woman, he was just engaging in troussage de domestique. It's not like anybody died, thinks Jack Lang.
Now the best thing to happen would be the arrival of Christine Lagarde at the helm of IMF. For office civility, cherchez la femme, says Maureen Dowd in her NY Times column:
Eve Packer: Reddress
Reddress is how Eve always starts a performance.
Labels: Eve Packer
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Bryan Adams: Everything I Do
I dedicate this song to the woman I love.
Theodor Pallady: Toujours du Baudelaire
Muzeul National de Arta al Romaniei
Toujours du Baudelaire - am putea traduce inca o baudelairiana, sau, vorbim tot despre Baudelaire.
Le beau est toujours bizarre, spunea Baudelaire.
Iar Arghezi spunea, se cunoaste ca femeile domnului Pallady ar putea scobori prea bine din cadrul lor in lume, cu bumbul tatei simburiu ca ametistele, cu floarea de crin ridicata catre solduri, concavitatea diafana a pantecelui modelata frumos, proeminentele pieptului, n-ar isca nici pofte, nici trivial (http://autori.citatepedia.ro/de.php?a=Tudor+Arghezi).
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wine and beer was in abundance, sweets, cheese, grapes, and the like. A guy was gently playing a keyboard, his name was, if my memories are good, Funky Felonious. Steve Dalachinsky was there, along with Yuko, his wife. I made friends quickly with several people in the room, the atmosphere was very open. They all were artists of some kind or another, poets or musicians, or both (like Steve), the artistic milieu of the Village.
A Bronx-born, Eve Packer is a poet and a performance artist. As a poet she's the kind of Weegee poet, it means, as authentic, as provocative, as the New York shot by Weegee is. As a performer she is a spoken word artist, it means, her performances add to poetry the fourth dimension: her art is poetry, and her art is jazz - her jazz is spoken word art, that's it.
I'm going to post here in near future some of Eve's poems, each one is a gem: fun, thrilling, provocative, sharp as a stiletto (Stephen Wolf, the Villager). Here is an interview she gave in January 2011. Enjoy!
- we are
- what is love
- New Nails
- Carnival of Blood (1970)
- Bloodrage (1979)
- Jazz Poetry Session at Cornelia Street Cafe
- Ya Gotta Be Ready
- NY Woman
- Saturday June 25th: Eve Paker & Stephanie Stone at Barbès in Brooklyn
- Heidi Latsky Dance at La MaMa Moves: June 16-18
- A Gathering of The Tribes: Celebrating Yardbird's B-Day
- Art Stands from the Ashes
- October 16
(A Life in Books)
Labels: Eve Packer
Geamparalele dela Cernavoda
Ion Laceanu la ocarina:
geamparale: joc popular romanesc, cu multiple variante si denumiri (giambaralele, maranghile, zlata etc.), raspandit in Campia Dunarii si Dobrogea. Are forme de desfasurare variate (cerc de mana, in linie, perechi, solistic etc.) ca si multiple prize (lant de brate, de o mana, de ambele maini etc.). Melodii in ritm de trei timpi, cu ultimul alungit, incadrate in doua fraze patrate – inrudite sau nu – mai rar din mai multe fraze. Elementul esential al unitatii variantelor este ritmul asimetric, care isi gaseste expresia coregrafica in diferitele forme cinetice (mers in stil de hora, mers pe diferite directii, invartiri, batai, balansuri, flexiuni adanci etc.). Din tc. çalpara.
(Amintiri din Garla Mare)
Labels: Ion Laceanu
A Pond That's Narrower Than A Channel
And the way New York and London are says volumes about the Anglo-American continuum: the Channel is still much wider than the Atlantic.
You should read Roger Cohen's column from today's NY Times:
(Now, Mr.Cohen can say anything: for me, Paris remains the finest place).
Labels: Roger Cohen
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Ca la Cernavoda
O Poveste C'O Pastrama
Restaurantul asta nou e pe locul unui bufet pe care il stiam de cativa ani, pe langa Catedrala Sfantul Ilie - Titan. Un bufet intr-un soi de cosmelie, cu clientela lui de fiecare zi. Bufetul s-a inchis acum vreo luna si au venit niste muncitori ca sa ii dea o fata noua. Ma intrebam daca vor ramane aceiasi clienti, ca probabil preturile vor fi un pic mai mari. Sau poate ca nu?
In fine, uite ca s-a deschis. Treceam pe acolo, cum zic, si mirosea a mici. Gandul m-a dus la o pastrama. Asa ca i-am intrebat. Baiatul dela gratar mi-a zis ca or sa aduca si pastrama. Ma gandeam sa raman, sa vad cum le iese pastrama, insa eram grabit. Da' zau ca imi parea rau. Sa fi stat la o pastrama cu niste muraturi si un pahar de vin rosu la sfarsit. Ca lumea! Dar, cum zic, eram grabit, trebuia sa ajung undeva neaparat.
Cand deodata trece pe langa mine Ion Laceanu! Mi-a zambit, mi-a intins mana, ii zic, buna ziua domnu' Laceanu! Acum nu am inteles daca restaurantul asta nou e chiar al lui, sau era doar invitat, fiind prima zi. Insa emotionat am fost!
Imi parea acum rau si ca nu mai pot ramane sa il ascult. Il admir de foarte multi ani (nu spun de cati, ca sa nu ii ghiciti varsta, nici pe a mea): este intr-adevar omul orchestra; dela caval, cimpoi, ocarina, pana la solz de peste si pai, totul este stapanit de artistul asta cu har dela Dumnezeu!
Asa ca daca nu am apucat sa raman sa il ascult (ca de pastrama uitasem, dar as fi vrut sa stau sa il vad cum canta), uite ca va pun aici un video cu maestrul Laceanu. Nu e un video muzical, nu. O sa va pun si din astea, mai incolo. Aici insa este o poveste de-a lui, cum s-a dus odata la niste prieteni la o cumetrie, si a vrut sa manance o pastrama! Hai, pofta buna!
Labels: Ion Laceanu
Arvid: Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Reading Further Black Milk
it has its own djinn and fairies
Reading further Black Milk, I'm startled to find a description that's not far for what I'd say about me: someone split inside, half East, half West, who loves the world of imagination more than the real world; who, year after year, has been worn down by useless paradoxes..., who cares too much about what other people think... in short a personality under construction.
When Elif Shafak says that about her, she completes, you must accept the universe as an open book that is waiting for its reader; one must read each day, page by page.
And a splendid change of replicas, two pages later:
With a sudden urge and zest, I flag down a passing taxi - Come on, let's go - Where to? - To the train station - Did you decide to go to America by train? - No, I just want to go to smell the trains.
Duminica la Bookfest
The image is kind of provocative. I found it on a website that deals exclusively with literary tattoos:http://www.contrariwise.org/.
So, it's a tattoo, and it's reproducing a quote from The Bell Jar, the only novel written by Edith Plath:
Sylvia Plath... she was the girl who wanted to be God so that she could create the entire universe from scratch. Splendid phrase! I have just read a chapter from Elif Shafak's book, Black Milk: this chapter is telling the life of Sylvia Plath. It starts with that phrase. I will quote a little bit more from this chapter (Of Poets and Babies):
To her close friends she was Syl, to her family, Sivvie. To the rest of the world she was Sylvia Plath. Her marriage to Ted Hughes has been the subject of numerous heated debates among scholars, feminists and non-feminists alike. The essays and books written about her - even after all these years - tend to be as emotionally charged as she was. Perhaps somehow all her biographers end up falling in love with her.
(A Life in Books)
(in Intamplari aiurea si calatorii oranj)
(A Life in Books)
Monday, May 23, 2011
Simon Norwalk got Hired by Express Jets
I have just got a message from my friend Jay Norwalk: his son Simon got hired by Express Jets Airlines. He will start 2 months training at Express Jets in Houston, TX on June 6th. He will be flying Embraer ERJ-145, that has all glass cockpits. Great news, Jay!
Friday, May 20, 2011
Jafar Panahi: This Is Not a Film (2010)
An image speaking volumes: Jafar Panahi waiting to be sentenced and sent to prison, in front of an image with the main character of his Crimson Gold; the hellish universe of his movies mirrored in his hellish universe, his infernal world mirrored in the infernal world of his movies.
Iranian director Jafar Panahi is one of world's most important moviemakers nowadays, while also a victim of the oppressive regime in his country. Arrested, together with other artists, during the events following the Iranian presidential elections in 2009, he spent several months in prison. He was freed then on bail while the judicial procedure against him was going on. Mr. Panahi was eventually sentenced to 6 years of prison and 20 years ban to make movies.
It was during the period spent at home in 2010 that Jafar Panahi made this movie, with the title This is Not a Film (In Film Nist). A friend, documentary producer Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (the author of Lady of the Roses, 2008), came with a consumer-grade camera and shot the footage for a 75 minutes video, having Mr. Panahi as co-director, screenwriter, film editor and star. The video was eventually smuggled outside Iran on a flash drive and screened at the 2011 Cannes Festival.
It's just that: 75 minutes in a day spent by Jafar Panahi at home, waiting for the result of the trial. He talks to the phone with his lawyer, then feeds his pet (who is a very nice iguana), then talks with the cameraman shooting the footage about a project for a new film, rejected by the censorship, memories from some of his movies come and go, suddenly a terrible noise of explosions is heard - it's nothing than fireworks, and Mr. Panahi goes to the window to shoot them with his cell phone.
A movie that is not a movie, says Mr. Panahi. It's just mundane reality. Well, it's not that simple: this movie is a non-movie while this non-movie is a movie. Because it's his reality, his universe, which is sending us to the universe of his movies. All his movies talk actually about him, about his universe, and it becomes obvious here, in this non-movie which carries all the tension between image and reality - reality sublimated in cinematic image. Like Mozart, this moviemaker thinks only in artistic constructions. For Mozart any fact of life was musical sound, musical rhythm, for Panahi every fact of life is cinematic image, cinematic rhythm. Look, even his concerns for the sentence to come become art! However, the strongest association should be made to Beethoven! This moviemaker carries all the tension between reality and art, all his creation is fully aware of the paradoxical relationship between reality and art: reality mirrored in art, art mirrored in reality, art suffering that reality struggles to keep its autonomy, reality suffering that it is taken for art.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
HERE ONE DAY
HERE ONE DAY is a movie in the making. It was shot by Kirsten Johnson and edited by Pola Rapaport. It is the personal story of the film director (Kathy Leichter): her mother committed suicide in 1995, victim of a bipolar disorder. The way the family recovered from the grief caused by this terrible loss is the subject of the movie.
Through this movie, director Kathy Leichter intends to:
# Reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and people with mental illness, increase understanding, break the silence, and create empathy;
# Give voice to those who have, or know someone with, bipolar disorder and mitigate the isolation these families can feel;
# Provide a forum for discussions about mental illness, suicide, loss, family history, mother-loss, and motherless mothers.
In order to finish the movie, Kathy Leichter started a Kickstarter fundraising campaign. She is more than 2/3 of the way to her goal of raising $25,000, and she has until June 1st to raise the rest. There are so far 125 backers who have pledged with $20,618. The making of the movie will be funded only if at least $25.000 will be pledged till Wednesday June 1st, 9:29 am EDT.
In order to make a pledge, please go to:
Labels: Pola Rapaport
I Started to Read Black Milk
The Sufis believe that every human being is a mirror that reflects the universe at large. They say each of us is a walking microcosm. To be human, therefore, means to live with an orchestra of conflicting voices and mixed emotions. This could be a rewarding and enriching experience were we not inclined to praise some members of that inner orchestra at the expense of others. We suppress many aspects of our personalities in order to conform with the perfect image we try to live up to. In this way there is rarely -if ever - a democracy inside of us, but instead a solid oligarchy where some voices reign over the rest.
I have been very interested to read this book, Black Milk, hoping to better understand such an experience as the one Elif Shafak went through when she gave birth to her first kid. It was a painful experience and in most cases it leaves deep scares in the mother, as well as in the people who love her. I have just started to read the book: has the author liberated herself from that experience by exorcising it in writing? I will see.
It will be the fourth book of Elif Shafak that I read. I had in mind for each book to comment it on the blog; each time I postponed writing my comments as I was eager to read the next one. Maybe this will give me the advantage to consider each book in the perspective offered by the other ones.
What is Elif Shafak? Like any of us she is many things. She is a Turkish writer and an American writer, a Sufi lover and a modern woman, a mother of two kids with the terrible taste of wandering throughout the world: she is a story teller and maybe this explains all the others.
Labels: Elif Shafak
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The things that are present through their absence
Labels: Elif Shafak
Mircea Horia Simionescu
In aceasta dimineata ne-a parasit pentru totdeauna Mircea Horia Simionescu, creatorul Ingeniosului Bine Temperat. Cand moare un scriitor se stinge o parte din frumusetea lumii. Dumnezeu sa il odihneasca in pace!
Sunt alaturi de Diana, fiica sa, in aceste clipe atat de grele.
(A Life in Books)
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The Mosque of all Prophets
Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people's hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.
There is no God but God
Labels: Elif Shafak
Monday, May 16, 2011
Times and Winds (2006)
Bes Vakit (Times and Winds), made by Reha Erdem in 2006.
A tiny poor village of a few hundreds, surrounded by rocky cliffs. Goats and olive trees, as everywhere in the region. The Black Sea can be seen from the cliffs, having the changing color of the sky, gray when it's windy, blue when it's sunny. Poverty of the place continuing in the majesty of the landscape, village life mastered by the moods of nature. The five times of prayer, midnight, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, are just brief moments to realize that you are at the mercy of what time brings.
This is Kozlu, the birthplace of Turkish director Reha Erdem, and Bes Vakit (Times and Winds, made in 2006) is about this village and these cliffs, about the moods of weather and the times of prayer, and about these people.
It is a movie full of love for this universe while devoid of any sentimentalism. The magnificent surroundings, the cliffs and the sea in close distance, pictured with awe, the poor village pictured with love, you feel this tenderness flowing from the screen; where the movie becomes unsentimental is when picturing the moods of people. They are his people, the guys of his village, the director is one of them, it is his universe. It is here love and lucidity. From the elders to the young, they are too challenged by these times and winds, to find space for kindness to one another. The elders are authoritative to the point of arbitrariness, the children grow up feeling the unfairness of the elders, hating them, childishly wishing their death. Three children of some eleven, twelve years are the main characters of this movie. On the threshold of puberty, a coming of age through frustration and resentment, balanced eventually by the miracles of nature they are witnessing. The unexpected coming and going of storms and winds will slowly teach them about the relativity of everything. The animal mating will be an abrupt lesson about the ultimate simplicity of love. The birth of a baby will show them the beauty of life despite all odds. The approaching of death of the father will make the boy suddenly and painfully realize what fear means, the terrible fear of loosing his father, how stupid his hate has been, his wish to see him dead.
And the five times of prayer will go on, alternating day and night, storm and beautiful weather, birth and death, good and bad.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Alma Har'el in Front of a Bombay Beach Poster
The rusting relic of a failed 1960s development boom, the Salton Sea is a barren Californian landscape often seen as a symbol of the failure of the American Dream. First-time director Alma Har'el revisits this poetically fruitful terrain in her distinctive documentary Bombay Beach, and finds there a motley cast including a bipolar seven-year-old, a lovelorn high school football star, and an octogenarian poet-prophet. Together they make up a triptych of American manhood in its decisive moments, populating the Salton Sea's land of thwarted opportunity.
True to her roots as a photographer, video artist, and music video director, Har'el crafts here an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film—a dreamlike poem that sets the personal stories of these distinctive yet familiar characters to a stylized amalgam of observational documentary and choreographed dance, with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan, all cast against the atmospheric scenery of the titular ghost town. The result is a moving and surreal documentary experience—an evocative, symbolic portrait of rural America and its inhabitants.
Bombay Beach was named World Documentary Competition Award Winner at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Alma Har'el
Friday, May 13, 2011
The Remains of the Day (1993)
After several years I watched again The Remains of the Day, the movie made in 1993 by James Ivory. A sad story: after a life of total dedication to your work, you realize that it wasn't worth. During all your life you suppressed your self to leave the room for the job only. And now it is too late. All you have from now on will be the remains of the day, walked through by recurring ghosts: loves that you have ignored, all those occasions to be just yourself that you have passed over.
The novel of Kazuo Ishiguro embeds this story in an elegant wrapping: the action takes place at the estate of a British aristocrat, noble guests come to participate at hunting parties, to attend great dinners, to discuss international affairs. It is the beginning of the thirties, the master of the place is actually a sympathizer of Nazi Germany, advocating for them, while his butler is simply too loyal, too committed to his work, to make a judgment.
Based on the novel, James Ivory made a movie that is exquisite. The director is considered as being influenced in his style by the works of Satyajit Ray and Jean Renoir. He had great masters!
The two main characters are flawlessly played by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The butler, as perfect as a Swiss watch, as perfect and as inhuman. And the maid, trying to discover the hidden humanity behind his cold perfection, fighting with him to pull out his secret kindness that he is not aware of. And giving up after too many years .
The two of them are surrounded by an impeccable cast: James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant, Michael Lonsdale, among others.
There is an interesting scene at the end. A pigeon is suddenly emerging from the chimney, aimlessly flying through the large room. They will eventually leave it outside. It was a pure coincidence: the pigeon appeared while they were shooting and the director decided on the spot to use it. It is to meditate if there can be actually coincidences in this world! The flight of the pigeon inside the room like in a gigantic cage, an unexpected symbol for what the life of the butler has been. Or a reminder maybe, of the maid, with her attempts to make him human and get his love. Or a message, about what their lives could have been.
Labels: Kazuo Ishiguro
Monday, May 09, 2011
The Windows of Paul Delvaux
oil on canvas
Private Collection, on loan to the Musée d’Ixelles, Brussels
currently on a Magritte-Delvaux Exhibition at Memphis Brooks Museum
lithograph in colors
Arvid Is Playing Guitar
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Kentucky, the Bluegrass State
For a today's presidential candidate the key is Ohio. It hasn't been always like that. For President Lincoln, the key was the Bluegrass State, the Commonwealth of Kentucky: the most Southerner of the Union states, up to the point to consider that there were three actors in the Civil War: the Unionists, the Confederates, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. No wonder Lincoln famously said in 1861, I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.
Well, the key wasn't only Kentucky, of course. It was also Maryland, as it was also Virginia. Each one chose its side. For each one it was not an easy choice.
Aaron Astor is is the author of the forthcoming book Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri. He is teaching history at Maryville College in Tennessee, and besides that he knows Scottish accents, southern slang, hillbilly, South Side of Chicagoan. If you'd like to understand a bit more the complex situation that was in the months before the Civil Wat started and in the first months of the war, the delicate balance between North and South, you should read Aaron Astor's op-ed on today's NY Times
(A Life in Books)
Labels: Aaron Astor
Friday, May 06, 2011
Reading The Forty Rules of Love
Konya, October 17, 1244
Before passing through the gates of a town I've never visited, I take a minute to salute its saints - the dead and the living, the known and the hidden. Never in my life have I arrived at a new place without getting the blessing of its saints first. It makes no difference to me whether that place belongs to Muslims, Christians or Jews. I believe that the saints are beyond such trivial nominal distinctions. A saint belongs to all humanity.
Labels: Elif Shafak
Я не уверен, что это правильный поступок — здесь родиться в форме человека. Difficult to translate, isn't it? Let's try: I am not sure that this is the right thing, the one that was born in human form. If it's not the right translation, it's close, I hope.
(Well, my translation was not correct. Actually it is I am not sure it is the right thing to be born here in human form. The correct version was offered by a good friend, Mihaela Suvei, and I wish to thank her for it)
This is Victor Pelevin, a post-Soviet writer, framed by some literary critics in the Post-Modernist camp, while others frame him in the New Sincerity. I know that all this sounds kind of esoteric, perhaps speaking directly of one of his books will make things clear. I intend to read Чапаев и Пустота, maybe also some other stuff by him, so I will be back on this topic. Only it will take some time: I am reading now Elif Shafak's The Forty Rules of Love which is gorgeous.
(Жизнь в Kнигах)
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Bernhard Schlink: Summer Lies
Sommerlügen (Summer Lies): I saw the book by pure chance. I was in a bookstore looking for some other stuff. When I saw the author's name, Bernhard Schlink, I bought it immediately. I had read only one book written by him, Der Vorleser, which is a masterpiece.
So I bought the new book and started to read. I was a bit deceived at the beginning: after Der Vorleser, this one seemed to me written in a minor register. Actually it is about deceiving, the way we are trying to deceive ourselves, and to deceive the others. And about doubt: the way we are tempted to respond to the openness of the other, with doubt.
Sommerlügen is a collection of seven short stories: seven hypostases of trying to build or fix relationships that fall short. A new love story is faced by the man with fear. Isn't she too possessive? Could her love last? A new friendship is faced with doubt. Isn't the other one a too good story teller not to doubt his sincerity?
Other stories are told from the deceiver's perspective. A man is so scared to loose his wife that he cuts all their links with the outer world. Another one is gathering all his family to enjoy a nice summer vacation; what he doesn't tell them is about his terminal illness and his decision to die at the end of the vacation, surrounded by them.
Is it happiness possible? Sometimes we try to force it and we screw up. Sometimes we believe we have enjoyed happiness for all our life, while it's been just an illusion. Sometimes we are too scared to accept it. Or too shy. Or too tired. The last of the stories starts with a terrible phrase, the day she stopped loving her children was a usual one.
Each story in this collection is elegantly built, with a natural evolution toward paroxysm, and with the science of stopping shortly before the outcome. It can be either way. Maybe it's possible after all, this happiness?
Labels: Bernhard Schlink