Updates, Live

Friday, September 28, 2012

Suchitra Bhosle: Old Blue Building

Suchitra Bhosle: Old Blue Building
oil on panel
(published on Facebook by Principle Gallery)
no copyright infringement intended

There is a special quality in this painting, the building seems to carry an old story, of good and bad times, and it's letting you discover that story, with subtlety and some noble, wise resignation.

Suchitra Bhosle was born in Bangalore, India, in a family of artists. She moved to US in 2001. Suchitra likes to name John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Nicolai Fechin, and Jules Bastien-Lepage among her masters. I would love to state a little on each one. so far I spoke here only about some works of Sargent that I have seen in the galleries of DC.

Suchitra Bhosle was present these days at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA, in a show-group organized there, Streets.

(Principle Gallery)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vivaldi on Accordion

Il Prete rosso Compositore di Musica che fece L'opera a Capranica del 1723
Caricature of Antonio Vivaldi by Pier Leone Ghezzi, 1723
no copyright infringement intended

I found on the web a wonderful video: a street performer in Warsaw, Poland, plays the third movement from the Four Seasons on accordion. Incredible freshness of performing a music of incredibly freshness!

(video by Jokeroo)

(Old Masters)


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jeremy Mann: Window Shopping

Window Shopping
a Photo taken by Jeremy Mann with Instagram
(with Victoria Rosenberger and Angela d'Ospina)
no copyright infringement intended

(Principle Gallery)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Junot Diaz about Books, Love, Matriarchal Revolution, New York

New York is home in ways few places are, says Junot Diaz, who lives part-time in Harlem and part-time in Cambridge. He adds, I feel like I have Jersey and the Dominican Republic, and they come together in New York City because New York has about a million Dominican immigrants. When I want to get midway to Santo Domingo, I’m in upper Manhattan

Junot Diaz gave recently an interview for The Harvard Crimson. Here are brief excerpts I took from there:

I find reading more important to me than almost anything, including my writing. I consider myself a reader way more than I consider myself a writer.

The most favorite line of the chapter in the book he was reading just before the interview: it is unlikely that anyone will ever again enter New Zealand carrying a red deer. Wow! I love this. Fucking great, isn't it?

A line that has really struck the interviewer in Junot Diaz story The Cheater’s Guide to Love: The half-life of love is forever.

And the author develops the idea, as a young person I had no idea that was possible. I always thought that eventually a relationship would come to end, and your imaginary would find in time surcease. But I think when you really fall in love, there seems to be something permanent that happens to you. But it certainly feels that way when I stand and look back at all my relationships, beginning to understand that there are a few of them that never seem to diminish, neither in my mind nor my heart. You just manage them.

His new collection This is How You Lose Her is about the rise and fall of a Dominican male slut. How did the boy learn to be a male slut, or at least this particular boy? How he is formed, and how that formation undoes him in the end. Because one must reflect that many of the messages we labored under were piercingly contradictory.

Will it be a matriarchal revolution?

Well, I mean, what the fuck are we around for if there’s no hope for that? Do you want to see this shit go on for another fucking 40,000 years? Look at this fucking nonsense. I mean, honestly. My shit isn’t that somehow women are transhuman, that their essence is morally, ethically superior. My thing is, okay motherfuckers, we’ve been at this game now 40,000-plus years depending on how you rank Homo sapiens civilization. I think it’s time for a time out. For real. Dudes could use a 10,000-year time out, minimum.

Read the whole interview at:

(Junot Diaz)

(New York, New York)


What Fields Are As Fragrant As Your Hands? (Rilke)

Ephraim Rubenstein: What Fields Are As Fragrant As Your Hands?
from The Rilke Series
no copyright infringement intended

Hände auf?

Was fängt sind so wohlriechend wie Ihre Hände auf? Sie
glauben, wie externer Duft nach Ihrem stärkeren Widerstand steht.
Sterne stehen in den Bildern oben. Mir Ihre Öffnung geben, um zu
erweichen, zu lieben; ah, ist Ihr Haar alles in der Nutzlosigkeit.

Sehen, ich möchten Sie mit selbst und dem verblassenen Erwartung
Heber von den Rändern Ihrer Augenbrauen umgeben; Ich möchte, wie mit
den inneren blossen Augenlidern, für Sie alle Plätze schließen, die
durch meine zarten Liebkosungen jetzt erscheinen.

Says Ephraim Rubenstein, my first responses to Rilke’s poetry were seen in terms of the landscape; he is of particular interest to me in this regard because his imagery is so beautifully concrete and because it is grounded to such a large extent within the landscape or within landscape associations: he often uses as his starting point descriptions of such natural phenomena as distance, vastness, minuteness, the weather, times of day and the changing effects of the seasons - from these visual effects, he is then able to connect immediately to intimate matters of the human heart, such as growth, transformation, decay, solitude and love.

I found several renderings of Rilke's poem, and I am fascinated by imagining how they sound in German, in English, in French, in Spanish, in Portuguese... If I find a Romanian version sometime I would add it here.

What fields are as fragrant as your hands?
You feel how external fragrance stands
upon your stronger resistance.
Stars stand in images above.
Give me your mouth to soften, love;
ah, your hair is all in idleness.

See, I want to surround you with yourself
and the faded expectation lift
from the edges of your eyebrows;
I want, as with inner eyelids sheer,
to close for you all places which appear
by my tender caresses now.

Quels champs sont aussi parfumés que vos mains ? Tu juges comme le
parfum externe se tient sur votre résistance plus forte. Les étoiles
se tiennent dans les images ci-dessus.  me donner votre bouche pour se
ramollir, aimer; oh, vos cheveux sont tous dans l'oisiveté.

Voir, je veulent t'entourer avec vous-même et l'ascenseur fané
d'espérance à partir des bords de vos sourcils; Je veux, comme avec
les paupières intérieures fines, fermer pour toi tous les endroits
qui apparaissent par mes caresses tendres maintenant.

¿Qué campos son tan fragantes como sus manos? Usted se siente cómo
la fragancia externa está parada sobre su resistencia más fuerte.
Las estrellas están paradas en imágenes arriba. Darme su boca para
ablandar, amar; ah, su pelo está todo en ociosidad.

Ver, yo desean rodearle con se y la elevación descolorada de la
expectativa de los bordes de sus cejas; Deseo, como con los párpados
internos escarpados, cerrar para usted todos los lugares que ahora
aparezcan por mis caricias blandas.

Que campos são tão perfumados quanto suas mãos? Você sente como a
fragrância externa está em cima de sua resistência mais forte. As
estrelas estão nas imagens acima. Dar-me sua boca para amaciar, para
amar; ah, seu cabelo está todo no idleness.

Ver, mim querem cercá-lo com yourself e o elevador desvanecido da
expectativa das bordas de suas sobrancelhas; Eu quero, como com os
eyelids internos sheer, fechar para você todos os lugares que
aparecem por meus caresses macios agora.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

(Ephraim Rubenstein)

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Alphacat: I Don't Like


Labels: ,

Friday, September 14, 2012

Rainer Maria Rilke: Sonette an Orpheus (Teil 1, I)

Ephraim Rubenstein: Sonnet to Orpheus
from The Rilke Series
no copyright infringement intended

Da stieg ein Baum. O reine Übersteigung!
O Orpheus singt! O hoher Baum im Ohr!
Und alles schwieg. Doch selbst in der Verschweigung
ging neuer Anfang, Wink und Wandlung vor.

Tiere aus Stille drangen aus dem klaren
gelösten Wald von Lager und Genist;
und da ergab sich, daß sie nicht aus List
und nicht aus Angst in sich so leise waren,

sondern aus Hören. Brüllen, Schrei, Geröhr
schien klein in ihren Herzen. Und wo eben
kaum eine Hütte war, dies zu empfangen,

ein Unterschlupf aus dunkelstem Verlangen
mit einem Zugang, dessen Pfosten beben, -
da schufst du ihnen Tempel im Gehör.

Sonnet form: abab cddc ecc cce

Is the painting of Rubenstein telling only part of the sonnet, with a modern Orpheus playing the  guitar and enjoying the peace and harmony all over the place? I would say we should observe the play of reflections mirroring the quiet reality and maybe putting it into question.

Tree arising! O pure ascendance!
Orpheus Sings! Towering tree within the ear!
Everywhere stillness, yet in this abeyance:
seeds of change and new beginnings near.

Creatures of silence emerged from the clear
unfettered forest, from dens, from lairs.
Not from shyness, this silence of theirs;
nor from any hint of fear,

simply from listening. Brutal shriek and roar
dwindled in their hearts. Where stood a mere
hut to house the passions of the ear,

constructed of longing darkly drear,
haphazardly wrought from front to rear,
you built them a temple at listening's core.

Or, un arbre monta, pur élan, de lui-même.
Orphée chante ! Quel arbre dans l’oreille !
Et tout se tut. Mais ce silence était
lui-même un renouveau : signes, métamorphose…

Faits de silence, des animaux surgirent
des gîtes et des nids de la claire forêt.
Il apparut que ni la ruse ni la peur
ne les rendaient silencieux ; c’était

à force d’écouter. Bramer, hurler, rugir,
pour leur cœur c’eût été trop peu. Où tout à l’heure
une hutte offrait à peine un pauvre abri,

— refuge fait du plus obscur désir,
avec un seuil où tremblaient les portants, —
tu leur dressas des temples dans l’ouïe.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

(Ephraim Rubenstein)

Labels: , ,

Rainer Maria Rilke: Sonette an Orpheus (Teil 2, XIII)

Ephraim Rubenstein: Be Ahead of All Parting
from The Rilke Series
no copyright infringement intended

Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter
dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.
Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,
daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.

Sei immer tot in Eurydike --, singender steige,
preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.
Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,
sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.

Sei - und wisse zugleich des Nicht-Seins Bedingung,
den unendlichen Grund deiner innigen Schwingung,
daß du sie völlig vollziehst dieses einzige Mal.

Zu dem gebrauchten sowohl, wie zum dumpfen und stummen
Vorrat der vollen Natur, den unsäglichen Summen,
zaehle dich jubelnd hinzu und vernichte die Zahl.

Sonnet form: abab cdcd eef ggf

Says Ephraim Rubenstein, in the early 1990's I began working on a series of paintings and drawings based on the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. They are not illustrations per se, rather visual responses to the mood, imagery and rhythms of the poems.

Here is an English rendering of this sonnet, from a book whose name is A Year with Rilke: a collection of daily reading from his poetry.

Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened,
like winter, which even now is passing.
For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the heart.

Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb back singing.
Climb praising as you return to connection.
Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.

Be. And know as well the need to not be:
let that ground of all that changes
bring you to completion now.

To all that has run its course, and to the vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.

Is there any connection between the poem and the painting? Again Ephraim Rubenstein, his poetry has always struck me as intensely visual... born frequently as a respinse to specific paintings, sculptures and buildings.Well, I think it is more than that: the painting of Rubenstein expresses a unity in duality - reality and its image, reality and its mirroring illusion, reality and non-reality (parting while subtly wishing each other). Is it not the same with the sonnet of Rilke? As someone said (http://myweb.dal.ca/waue/Trans/Rilke-Orpheus.html), a Wegweiser (signpost) for death and for life together, for keeping the moment and for rennouncing to it: Be. And know as well the need to not be.

It is not an easy poem to understand. Or maybe you should let yourself to its rhythm, dreaming rather than remaining lucid? Here is a Romanian rendering:

Fii înaintea oricarei despartiri, ca si cum s-ar afla
in urma ta, ca iarna care tocmai sfarseste.
Caci printre ierni, e-o iarna ce-atat te va ierna,
ca inima ti-o-ntrece si supravietuieste.

Sa mori neincetat in Euridice –, si suie cantind iara,
si mai mult slavind, suie-napoi in raportul curat.
Intre cei ce se sting in apunerii tara,
fii un cristal care, sunand, s-a spart cu sunetu-odat'.

Fii – si cunoaste si a nefiintei stare,
nesfarsit intemeind launtrica-ti vibrare,
deplin s-o desavirsesti în aceasta unica oara.

Printre uzatele, ca si printre mutele, fara nume,
rezerve ale deplinei naturi, – negraitele sume –
extatic sa te numeri – si numarul fa-l ca sa piara.

It was the French rendering that allowed me to get somehow the meaning (it is true that I found it after the other versions, so I was somehow prepared):

Devance tous les adieux, comme s’ils étaient
derrière toi, ainsi que l’hiver qui justement s’éloigne.
Car parmi les hivers il en est un si long
qu’en hivernant ton cœur aura surmonté tout.

Sois toujours mort en Eurydice — en chantant de plus en plus, monte,
remonte en célébrant dans le rapport pur.
Ici, parmi ceux qui s’en vont, sois, dans l’empire des fuites,
sois un verre qui vibre et qui dans son chant déjà s’est brisé.

Sois — et connais en même temps la condition du non-être,
l’infinie profondeur de ta vibration intime,
c’est qu’en une seule fois tu l’accomplisses toute.

Aux réserves dépensées et aux couvantes, aux muettes
réserves de la nature, à ses sommes ineffables,
ajoute-toi en jubilant, — et détruis le nombre.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

(Ephraim Rubenstein)

Labels: , ,

What's the Right Orchestral Instrument for Me?

(posted on Facebook by Sine Musica Nulla Vita)
no copyright infringement intended

click on the image to enlarge

(Old Masters)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ephraim Rubenstein: Unity in Contrasts

As I was looking at the image above, it was Hopper that came in mind. Then I saw the image below, and I realized that the author was searching for a unity in contrasts.

Ephraim Rubenstein will be present on Streets, a show-group organized at Principle Gallery (208 King Street, Alexandria VA) on September 21. I would like to come back to Rubenstein's works one day, as he has a series of paintings paralleling poems of Rilke. What about letting the poem and the painting to flow together?

Ephraim Rubenstein: Steve Chu's closed
no copyright infringement intended

(Principle Gallery)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

John Cage Exhibition at Washington National Gallery

John Cage: 10 Stones 2, 1989
color spitbite aquatint and sugarlift on smoked Whatman paper
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
gift of Kathan Brown, 1996
no copyright infringement intended

John Cage has been, as we know, the Great Master of Indeterminacy, and he devised complicated creative strategies that were dependent on chance outcomes dictated by I Ching. By ceding key formal decisions to chance, Cage sought to avoid expressing personal taste and intention. His commitment to indeterminacy as a creative strategy proved to be a wellspring of beauty.

Well, his passion for using chance strategies in the artistic creation went over the borders of musical composition. An exhibition (John Cage: Rocks, Paper, Fire) opened these days at Washington DC National Gallery of Art features six prints of Cage, from the gallery collection, and is exploring his experimental approach to creating visual art. The exhibition highlights Cage's unconventional utilization of fire as a printmaking medium and his systematic employment of stones as templates for tracing.

(John Cage)

(Washington DC National Gallery of Art)

(Contemporary Art)


Sa-mi canti, cobzar...

Sa-mi canti cobzar batran ceva
Sa-mi canti ce stii mai bine
Ca bani ti-oi da si vin ti-oi da
Si haina de pe mine
Ca bani ti-oi da si vin ti-oi da
Si haina de pe mine

Sa-mi canti cobzar batran ceva
Sa-mi canti si din vioara
Ca doar s-o ispravi de acum
O viata atat de amara
Ca doar s-o ispravi de acum
O viata atat de amara

Lasati-ma langa pahar
De viata nici nu-mi pasa
Ca sunt copil al nimanui
Si n-am nici bani nici casa
Ca sunt copil al nimanui
Si n-am nici bani nici casa

Lasati-ma in fum sa stau
In crasma-ntunecata
Sa beau, sa cant si-apoi sa uit
Ca am iubit odata
Sa beau, sa cant si-apoi sa uit
Ca am iubit odata

(Les Troubadours du Temps Jadis)

Ploaia si Noi

Doina Badea
no copyright infringement intended

Destinul a fost prea nedrept cu ea. Si de cate ori mi se intampla sa ascult o inregistrare cu Doina Badea, imi dau lacrimile.

(Les Troubadours du Temps Jadis)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Arvid Is Working on a PerryMoore canvas

Arvid is working a a new canvas, celebrating the joy and spirit of the PerryMoore wine, and lokking at the image I'd say it'll be a celebration in style.

(P and C Art)


Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Piano Is A Good Friend

(posted on Facebook by Hugh Laurie)
no copyright infringement intended

The piano is a good friend. It doesn't talk back. You can't lose a piano. It's a constant companion. It can give you everything you need
(Hugh Laurie, English actor, comedian, writer and musician)

Hugh Laurie playing on an 1926 Wurlitzer Organ
(Riviera Theatre, North Tonawanda, NY, courtesy @Riviera TD)
(posted on Facebook by Hugh Laurie)
mo copyright infringement intended

This Wurlitzer organ differs from a standard 3 manual 11 rank Model 235, by substituting an Oboe Horn rank of pipes from the standard Salicional pipes usually found on this model. Other differences includ the omission of the standard remote Piano, and a 5 H.P. blower instead of the 7-1/2 H.P.

(Musica Nova)

Dante's Inferno in a Movie from 1911

Giuseppe de Liguoro, co-director of Dante's Inferno (1911)
(Italian Cinema: The Silent Era)
no copyright infringement intended

Loosely adapted from Dante's Divine Comedy and inspired by the illustrations of Gustav Doré this silent film from 1911 has here a score created by Tangerine Dream.


(Early Movies)



Dante, poised between Purgatory and Florence
detail of Domenico di Michelino's painting, 1465
no copyright infringement intended

Long time ago (too long) I was nel mezzo del cammin, as Dante used to be sometime. I was just beginning to realize that young age was passing.  I didn't yet know that it would be the same with the old age.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
ché la diritta via era smarrita.

(Una Vita Tra I Libri)


A Song for Madeleine

There is a chain of restaurants in the South and it is named La Madeleine. You can find them in Washington, DC (in Georgetown) and in the Greater DC area (Alexandria, Bethesda, etc), and also in Texas (in Fort Worth, then in the Dallas region - for instance in Grapevine, etc). There aren't Madeleine restaurants in NY or Philadelphia, and I think neither in Baltimore. These Madeleine restaurants are specialized in French country cuisine and they are decorated in a way suggesting old French mansions.

Dining in the library

The prices are low enough, and sometimes the personnel speaks French (for instance in the Madeleine from Bethesda, where all the personnel came from African Francophone countries). So any given weekend I liked to go to the Madeleine in Bethesda and to speak French while having a small dinner. Now, don't believe they have all gourmet delicacies, what they have is basically Quiche Lorraine, Quiche Florentine, Boeuf Bourguignon, three or four sorts of soup (Onion Soup, Country Potato Soup, the Soup du Jour undoubtedly), stuff like that, plus some nice salads and wonderful pastries. A cup of Strawberries Romanoff is de rigeur in the end.

Imagining a fireplace

When I was in Texas and I went to the Madeleine restaurant in Grapevine near Dallas, there was a very young waiter who was from Romania. I teased hom a bit, asking him the Romanian equivalent of some basic English words (like Good Morning, Good Afternoon, don't think at anything ribald), till he realized I was also from Romania, and we started to laugh together. He was studying at some college and working in the restaurant to support himself. He was very nice with me and with my colleague (who had come from India long time ago) and offered us in the end some pastries from the house.

Provision room (kind of)


Friday, September 07, 2012

Cindy Procious: the Portrait of Mia

Cindy Procious: Mia - Portrait of an Artist
oil on canvas
Principle Gallery, Alexandria VA
no copyright infringement intended

(Principle Gallery)


A New Whistler Exhibition at Freer

James Abbott McNeil Whistler, Chelsea Children
watercolor on paper, mid 1880's
Freer Gallery, Gift of Charles Lang Freer
no copyright infringement intended

A new exhibition starts at Freer Gallery tomorrow, and it will be open for one year, till September 8, 2013. It's named Whistler's Neighborhood: Impressions on a Changing London - an exhibition gathering diminutive etchings, watercolors, and small oil paintings. The neighborhood is Chelsea, where Whistler lived for forty years, from 1863 to his death in 1903. Nowhere in England could you find better material for pictures than in Chelsea ... but it was then practically owned by James McNeill Whistler, says Dorothy Menpes (World pictures; being a record in colour, 1902, R.H.Russell publisher), and she goes on, there were his little shops, his rag shops, his green-grocer shops, and his sweet shops; in fact, so nearly was it all his, that after a time he sternly forbade other painters to work there at all (http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/future.asp). I'm thinking at the Paris of Marville, a city caught in an epoch of dramatic transformations: one can say the same by looking at the works of Whistler - a Chelsea caught in an epoch of radical metamorphosing. The construction of the Thames Embankment was erasing the topography as it had been known and the old homes were preparing to disappear, to make place to the new elegant mansions for the rich. It had been a community of artists, and aristocrats, and tradesmen, and poor people. It was becoming a very expensive neighborhood. And, like Marville with his Parisian photos, Whistler was the singer of an old tune.

(Smithsonian Castle)

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Map of Europe from 1870

Europe, 1870's, W.Schlamp
published on Facebook by Alexandru Ursu-Bukowina
no copyright infringement intended

The map of Europe, as it was at the beginning of the 1870's. The publishing house (Druck u. Verlag v. H Gerbart) was Viennese. The military helmet over the center of the map represented Germany, just set as a major continental player after the Franco-Prussian War (the German Empire would be proclaimed in January1871). Alsace and Lorraine, just taken by the Germans from France, were organized as an Imperial Territory (Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen), and indicated that way on the map. As for the Balkan countries, Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria were still, at least formally, under Turkish rule (the independence of Romania and Serbia would be recognized in 1878, at the Congress of Berlin, while Bulgaria would gain full independence in 1908) so the map was leaving them within the borders of the Ottoman Empire.  And the Russian bear, looking at Europe with a seemingly big appetite. Some things don't change ever.

(A Life in Books)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Junot Diaz: Living By the Book

no copyright infringement intended

Junot Diaz about books: great books, books on his shelves, books that made him cry, books that made him laugh, and so on. It appeared in NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/books/review/junot-diaz-by-the-book.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw), on August 30. Here are quick notes I made while reading this stuff. The notes are fragments from the text, authored by Junot Diaz, obviously. I tried to add my own comments here and there. Sometimes jokingly, sometimes not. You should read the whole article, anyway (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/02/books/review/junot-diaz-by-the-book.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw).

  • Great Books
Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers: a book of extraordinary intelligence, humanity and (formalistic) cunning; Boo’s four years reporting on a single Mumbai slum, following a small group of garbage recyclers, have produced something beyond groundbreaking.

Alejandro Zambra’s Bonsai: a subtle, eerie, ultimately wrenching account of failed young love in Chile among the kind of smartypant set who pillow-talk about the importance of Proust (Junot Diaz); Bonsai, the novella by Alejandro Zambra, is a lot like bonsai, the Japanese art, it is both tiny and exquisite; a scant 90 pages, Bonsai can be read in less than three hours, and while one could certainly question why both the book and the tree should be made so small, both are undeniably fascinating (http://quarterlyconversation.com/bonsai-by-alejandro-zambra). Here are some lines:
In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was alone some years before her death...
At one point, Chile was full of bonsais; I don’t know if I liked them, but they had rare beauty, this fragility. . . .
At first, the only thing I had in mind was the image of someone who had a bonsai, took care of it, wanted it to have a certain form, and understood that it was a true work of art because it could die.

My comment: The Soccer War of Ryszard Kapuściński. And of course, all other great books. I read once a great book about the hundred greatest books.

  • Books on His Shelves
Shikasta, by Doris Lessing: a strange anti-novel that purports to be the history of our world from the perspective of our sympathetic alien caretakers; Shikasta takes that sub-zeitgeist theory that God and his angels are actually alien visitors to its logical conclusion.

By Night in Chile, by Roberto Bolaño: for anyone obsessed with the interplay between the personal and the historical, By Night in Chile is a master class in which Bolaño manages to distill the perverse brutal phantasmagorical history of an entire continent down to 150 seductive pages.

My comment: two books that I have just read - Puhdistus (Purge), by Sofi Oksanen, and Fuck the Cool. Spune-mi o Poveste, by Costi Rogozanu. The first is a family saga (or rather an anti-family saga) during Communism and Post-Communism, the second is a chronicle (or rather an anti-chronicle) of the middle class in contemporary Romania: both leave no illusions. And a book I read a couple of months ago, The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak: the way we keep alive the lessons of history and the lessons of our own past, while these lessons get more and more irrelevant.

  • Books That Made Him Cry
Eduardo Corral’s collection, Slow Lightning: Wise and immense. Here is a line: once a man offered me his heart and I said no; not because I didn’t love him; not because he was a beast or white — I couldn’t love him; do you understand? in bed while we slept, our bodies inches apart, the dark between our flesh a wick; it was burning down; and he couldn’t feel it.

My comment: As I get older, the danger is to cry anytime when telling a story to someone. So better to forget about.

  • Books That Made Him Laugh
K. J. Bishop's The Etched City: Junot Diaz is a sucker for lines like this one, he had numerous stories of recent adventure and suffering — specifically, his adventures and other people’s suffering, almost invariably connected — that he told with the air of an amiable ghoul.

My comment: often the remarks of Tom Friedman make me laugh, and I dream sometimes about getting the global view, and getting that the world is flat, and all the good stuff. The day before yesterday Tom Friedman was asked by Charlie Rose in his daily talk-show who was his favorite, Obama or Romney, and Friedman said something kind of, look do you remember the movie Invictus? That one with Morgan Freeman playing Mandela. Well, in that movie Mandela has a replica that a politician should surprise the society with something good and important that they don't expect. And, tell me Charlie, which of the American politicians has surprised you?

  • Books To Understand the Dominican-American Experience
Pedro Mir, his Countersong to Walt Whitman and Other Poems. Pure genius.

My commentI would love to read a countersong. Just kidding: but really, I would be interested  at least to browse the book of Pedro Mir.

  • Books About Immigrant Experience in America
Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior is not exactly a novel, but few books out there can rival its powerful vision of what it means to live simultaneously in two worlds.

My comment: the best story about immigrant experience in America is an Italian one - I had been told that the roads were paved with gold in America, so I came and I found out that the roads were not paved with gold, that they were not paved at all, and that I was expected to pave them.

  • Graphic Novels
Jason Shiga’s Empire State: A Love Story (or Not): Oakland boy loses best female friend to N.Y.C. and takes a cross-country bus trip to try to transform friendship into love; a bicoastal heartbreaker, beautifully rendered and deeply moving.

My comment: I leave this to my friend Keith; he is young and addicted to this kind of stuff.

  • You’re Organizing a Dinner Party of Writers and Can Invite Three Authors, Dead or Alive. Who’s Coming?
José Martí, because he lived so many lives and because he was such a fantastic writer and because, damn it, he was José Martí (he also lived in the N.Y.C. area, so that will help the conversation). Octavia Butler because she’s my personal hero, helped give the African Diaspora a future (albeit a future nearly as dark as our past) and because I’d love to see her again. And Arundhati Roy because I’m still crushing on her mind and on The God of Small Things.

My comment: Ryszard Kapuściński, because he sometimes forgets that he is a journalist to become a genial author, Jill Rapaport, who wrote I am the Queen of Spain, and her B-day is on September 3, and Dimitrie Cantemir, maybe the greatest Romanian man of culture. Probably they wouldn't fit each other, which for a dinner is paramount. Then, Kapuściński with Sven Hedin and Marco Polo; or Jill with Ferlinghetti and Whitman; or Cantemir with Erasmus and Eliade; or Marco Polo with Schliemann and the King-Prester John; or, better, Kapuściński with Hemingway and with Anthony Loyd, or, what about that? Whitman with Verhaeren and Majakovsky, or... I'm not short in ideas.

  • Best Short Story Writers
The short story writers are people who like to suffer or perhaps people tempted by perfectibility, Junot Diaz says. For that is the short story’s great lure — that you can write a perfect one. With novels it’s quite the opposite — the lure of the novel is that you can never write a perfect one. Roberto Bolaño is his No. 1; read Last Evenings on Earth and tremble.

My comment: just ordered the book.

  • Three Books To Take On a Desert Island
For a book lover this type of triage is never a record of what was brought along but a record of what was left behind.

My comment: when I left Northern Virginia, I sent by mail all my books and movies (DVD copies). I kept three books and two movies, that traveled with me. I just didn't want to be far from them, even for a couple of weeks. The Freemantle illustrated edition of the Psalms (such a bibliophile beauty that even the harshest atheist would start to believe); Sfanta Liturghie si Apocalipsa talcuite prin Cuvintele de pe Cruce,(The Holy Mass and Apocalypsis rendered throught the Words on the Cross), a Romanian book of theology authored by Father Boris Raduleanu (a fantastic comment on the Liturgy in the Old and New Testament - it is a pity that it's not translated in English); Craii de Curtea Veche (The Old Court Libertine Pairs, Los Depravados Principes de la Vieja Corte), by Mateiu Caragiale (I think it is impossible to be translated, as it's a refined Romanian language of the 19th century that's no more in use even in Romania; and impossible to explain its bounding spell; by the way, even the title cannot be translated accurately, as the word Crai has a subtle ambiguity in the context, carrying homeopathic nuances of disdain and admiration). And the movies: Late Spring by Ozu, and Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray.

  • What Do You Plan To Read Next?
Our Kind of People, by Uzodinma Iweala, and Mountains of the Moon, by I. J. Kay. Says Junot Diaz, I loved Iweala’s first book, so I’m eager for this nonfiction follow-up, and I’ve heard strong things about Kay’s debut.

My comment: Die Welt von Gestern, by Stefan Zweig, and Micro, by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston. Then the books of Casian Balabasciuc. Give me time to talk about.

(Junot Diaz)

(Roberto Bolaño)

Labels: ,

John Cage: In a Landscape (1948)

(Album d'un Pessimiste)
no copyright infringement intended

For argoneum, it reminds of an autumn evening, when you know that this night are longer and each day is closer to winter. Fields are empty, and last warm sun rays are shining through the colorful leaves. For Trey Walker, it reminds of being sad. For Mostly Noise, it is music that seems to suspend time.

Written for the dancer Louise Lippold in 1948, the piece follows the rhythmic patterns of the choreography for which it was composed. A modal composition, the patterns alternate between a mode in B and a mode in G. With the use of both the soft and sustain pedals, Cage creates music that seems to suspend time. There is clearly an aesthetic indebtedness to Erik Satie. The score notes that the piece may be played on the harp or piano.

(John Cage)


The Battle of Blair Mountain

Battle of Blair Mountain
August 25 to September 2, 1921
Logan County, West Virginia, United States
Result: Setback of miners' rights until early 1930s when Federal Government recognized labor unions
(posted on Facebook by Gloria Torres)
no copyright infringement intended

The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the biggest civil uprisings in United States history and the largest armed insurrection since the American Civil War. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners confronted an army of police and strikebreakers backed by coal operators during a struggle by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. Their struggle ended only after approximately one million rounds were fired, and the United States Army intervened by presidential order
The Battle of Blair Mountain was the result of a generation of social transformation and extreme exploitation in the southern West Virginia coalfields. Beginning in 1870-1880, coal operators had established a system of oppression and exploitation based around the company town system.To maintain their domination and hegemony, coal operators paid private detectives as well as public law enforcement agents to ensure that union organizers were kept out of the region.In order to accomplish this objective, agents of the coal operators used intimidation, harassment, espionage and even murder.Throughout the early 20th century, West Virginia coal miners attempted to overthrow this brutal system and engaged in a series of strikes, such as the Paint Creek-Cabin Creek strike of 1912, and which coal operators attempted to stop through violent means. Mining families lived under the terror of Baldwin-Felts detective agents who were professional strikebreakers under the hire of coal operators. During that dispute agents drove a heavily armored train through a tent colony at night, opening fire on women, men and children with a machine gun.They would repeat this type of tactic during the Ludlow Massacre in Colorado the next year, with even more disastrous results
By 1920, most of West Virginia had been organized by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The southern coalfields, however, remained non-unionized bastions of coal operator power. In early 1920, UMW president John L. Lewis targeted Mingo County for organizing. Certain aspects of Mingo made it more attractive to union leaders than neighboring Logan County, which was under the control of the vehemently anti-union Sheriff Don Chafin and his deputized army.Mingo’s political structure was more independent, and some politicians were pro-union. Cabell Testerman, the mayor of the independent townof Matewan was one supporter of the union cause. He appointed 27-year-old Sid Hatfield as town sheriff. As a teenager, Hatfield had worked in the coalmines, and was sympathetic to the miners’ condition. He also claimed to be a member of the notorious Hatfield family of the Hatfield and McCoy “feud”, but was not. These men provided union organizers an opportunity to gain a foothold, and unionizing accelerated rapidly in the county.

This is a rough draft version of a longer documentary on Blair Mountain.



John Cage

John Cage
(1912 - 1992)
American composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist
no copyright infringement intended

A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.

Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. The content of the composition is not four minutes and 33 seconds of silence, as is sometimes assumed, but rather the sounds of the environment heard by the audience during performance.

(Musica Nova)