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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Alfred Morgan: An Omnibus Ride to Piccadilly Circus

Alfred Morgan: An Omnibus Ride to Piccadilly Circus,
Mr Gladstone Traveling with Ordinary Passengers
oil on canvas, 1885
(also published on Facebook by Belle Époque Europe)
no copyright infringement intended

Va recomand sa cititi Marea Britanie si Unirea Principatelor Romane de Diana Dumitru, pentru a vedea meritele lui  William Ewart Gladstone ca unul din marii sprijinitori ai Unirii care s-a facut la 1859.

I recommend the reading of UK and Romanian Principalities Unification by Diana Dumitru to see there the merits of William Ewart Gldstone as one of the great supporters of the Unification from 1859.

(Old Masters)

Henri Fantin-Latour: Un atelier aux Batignolles

Henri Fantin-Latour: Un atelier aux Batignolles, 1870
oil on canvas
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
(also published on Facebook by Belle Époque Europe)
no copyright infringement intended

Les Batignolles was the district where Manet and many of the future Impressionists lived. Fantin-Latour, a quiet observer of this period, has gathered around Manet, presented as the leader of the school, a number of young artists with innovative ideas: from left to right, we can recognize Otto Schölderer, a German painter who had come to France to get to know Courbet's followers, a sharp-faced Manet, sitting at his easel; Auguste Renoir, wearing a hat; Zacharie Astruc, a sculptor and journalist; Émile Zola, the spokesman of the new style of painting; Edmond Maître, a civil servant at the Mairie de Paris; Frédéric Bazille, who was killed a few months later during the 1870 war, at the age of twenty-six; and lastly, Claude Monet.
Their attitudes are sober, their suits dark and their faces almost grave: Fantin-Latour wanted these young artists, who were greatly decried at the time, to be seen as serious, respectable figures. Only two accessories remind the spectator of the aesthetic choices of the new school: the statuette of Minerva bears witness to the respect due to the antique tradition; the Japanese style stoneware jar evokes the admiration of this entire generation of artists for Japanese art.
In this group portrait exhibited at the Salon of 1870, each man seems to be posing for posterity. The painting confirms the links between Fantin-Latour and the avant-garde of the time and Manet in particular. It echoes Zola's opinion of Manet: Around the painter so disparaged by the public has grown up a common front of painters and writers who claim him as a master. In his diary, Edmond de Goncourt sneered at Manet, calling him the man who bestows glory on bar room geniuses.
(information from the catalog of Musée d'Orsay)

Now, some would ask what's the meaning of the word batignolles. Here you go: according to wiki, the origin of the name "Batignolles" may be the Latin word, "batillus", meaning "mill", or, it may be derived from the Provençal word, "bastidiole", meaning "small farmhouse".

(The Moderns)

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp Playing Chess

(shared from the Facebook page dedicated to Marcel Duchamp)
no copyright infringement intended

(Avangarda 20)

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F. W. Murnau: Sunrise (1927)

I hadn't watched the movie till last night. I was wondering whether it had stood the test of time. Also I had read the plot and it seemed to me naive. Well, I can tell you that Sunrise is an amazing movie, there are not many movies like it. It has an unbelievable rhythm (maybe only Intolerance keeps the same rhythm), it doesn't let you a moment to breathe, it keeps you from beginning to end totally interested in what happens on the screen, never a dull moment. It passes from black romance to horror and then to a wonderful story of happiness, then to tragedy, keeping all along its unity. As for the image, it's amazing how modern, how daring, can be Murnau in his cinematographic ideas. It's a must-see by all means.

Janet Gaynor and George O'Brien in a promotional shot
They in the boat that serves as the locations for two very emotional scenes, but this actual scene never occurs in the movie.
no copyright infringement intended

As for the plot, it's not naive; it's actually an allegory, like a medieval morality, a paradigm of love, lust, desire to kill, remorse. It's about some very basic instincts, defining the fundamentals of our reality. And I wonder now whether the murder didn't actually take place and all that followed wasn't just a dream hunting the criminal.

(F. W. Murnau)


Monday, January 28, 2013

Luis Garcia Berlanga ¡Bienvenido, Mister Marshall! (1953)

The little village of Villar del Río is awaiting the song performance of Carmen Vargas (Lolita Sevilla), 'The Great Andalusian Star'. The quiet village is governed by a deaf, naughty and good-natured Mayor (José Isbert in an uforgettable role), who's only seeking the way to give life to the place. By the same time good news comes to the village: the arrival of North American high personalities that will give economicanal aid to the nation city by city, village by village. The Mayor doesn't know what to do to welcome them. Carmen Vargas's agent (Manolo Morán) throws surprising initiatives, moving all the village people just to prepare a better reception for the foreigners. His idea is to disguise all the farmers as Andalusians and add colour to every street with typical decorations. All of them start to work, and also to dream and think about what they're going to request the Americans, who will come with lots of dollars. The day of the arrival everybody at Villar del Río is in the streets...

Is it a western (à la Don Pablo, el alcade, who dreams at playing the cowboys versus sheriffs)? Or is it a movie about all dangers that come with these Americans (as Don Cosme, el cure, thinks, while expecting anyway a new church bell from those sinners)? Or is it a folkloric movie, with music and dances and hats and frocks and all that Andalusian stuff (with Carmen Vargas, la Reina de las canciones, leading the show)? Is it a historical movie about conquistadors (à la Don Louis, el cabalero)? Or is it maybe a neorealist movie (à la Bardem)? A black comedy (à la Berlanga)? Just a piece of fun (anonymous opinion)?

Well, many good things have been said about ¡Bienvenido, Mister Marshall!. Let me add here my own share. First of all it's refreshing this movie, it was made with youthful enthusiasm, as both Berlanga (director and co-scenarist) and Bardem (co-scenarist) were barely twenty and something years old. One of them was twenty-one, the other twenty-two. It's the courage to make total mockery in the way only youngsters do. That mockery that's apparently mild, while not forgetting anything and anyone. And above mockery this movie is a piece of poetry, as both Berlanga and Bardem actually love these guys that are the target of their fun. These are poor guys, living in a universe of their own and judging the Americans expected to come and to give gifts  as belonging to a comparable universe, while the real distance is as of thousand years. And so these guys from Vinar del Rio are condemning the Americans (for not being Catholics, rather Protestants, or Indians that simply forgot they had been ruled sometime by Spanish Conquistadors), they are debating whether to accept the American gifts or not, eventually everyone dreaming at an American gift. Basically they care about Americans, the way they expect that also Americans do care for them. Only these Americans live in a universe too far to care. Oh, I know very well this sentiment of waiting for the Americans to come, it's not only restricted to Vinar del Rio, and it's not only restricted to 1953.

(Luis García Berlanga)

(Juan Antonio Bardem)

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JFK and little Caroline

JFK and little Caroline
Washington, DC, late 1950's
(posted on Facebook by il piccolo istrione)
no copyright infringement intended

(Zoon Politikon)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Der Hauptmann von Köpenick (1956)

A movie based on a real story. In 1906, Wilhelm Voigt was freed from prison, where he had spent most of his life. First time he had been imprisoned when he was fourteen, for a minor theft, and then the small or not so small thefts and successive convictions went on. Eventually Mr. Voight had become an exemplary prisoner, very interested to read any book related to the military. Now that he was 57 years old, Mr. Voight was decided to make henceforth an honest living: finding a job, going regularly to church, drinking only on special occasions, all the good stuff. Only this proved impossible, because the authorities were treating him as an undesirable person, on the grounds of his prison background. In order to settle down some place he needed a pass, which nobody was willing to deliver. Exceeded by the continual bureaucratic harassment, Wilhelm Voigt decided to play them a prank to be the mother of all pranks. He bought a military uniform from a second hand store. Thus equipped, nobody dared to question his identity. As the uniform indicated the rank of Captain, he stopped a patrol of grenadiers on the street and commandeered them to the town hall of Köpenick (in the outskirts of Berlin). Here he told the local police officer to prevent any phone calls for one hour and asked the treasurer to handle him all money from the town hall money box. Then he ordered his troupe to arrest the mayor and the treasurer and to take them to Berlin for interrogations. Nobody realized it was a huge caper. His intention was seemingly to fabricate for himself a passport, only he should have chosen another town hall: they had no passport office at Köpenick. He was caught after a couple of days, but the prank had been so big that even the Kaiser started to laugh and eventually pardoned him.

The story with the Captain of Köpenick caused great excitement in the newspapers in Germany and abroad, and soon it passed to books, songs, and theatrical representations. In 1931 Karl Zuckmayer produced a superb play on this topic, which became so to speak a classic. A statue of the fake captain stands today just in front of Köpenick's town hall. There is also a commemorative plate there, and the uniform is on display. Wilhelm Voigt was even honored with a wax figure in the museum from Unter den Linden (and there is another one at Madame Tussaud's at London).

Wilhelm Voigt, der gefälscht Hauptmann von Köpenick
Bronzestatue vor dem Rathaus Köpenick
image: Lienhard Schulz
no copyright infringement intended

Several movies told the story of the Captain of Köpenick (the first two of them were made in the very year the event took place, 1906, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1071929/?ref_=fn_al_tt_8 and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1163782/?ref_=fn_al_tt_9, then followed other movies in 1926, 1931, 1945, 1956, 1960, 1987, 1997, 2001, and 2005). The best-known is the movie from 1956, starring Heinz Rühmann.

Following the plot structure of Zuckmayer's play, the movie tells two parallel stories: the one of Wilhelm Voigt (who cannot get a pass without having a work permit, that he cannot get without having a pass), and the other story, of the uniform itself (made for a Captain von Schlettow, soon discharged from the army for a stupid incident, refitted and passed to the Mayor of Köpenick for his promotion to Captain, stained by him in another stupid incident, thrown to a rag shop where it would meet Voigt). Thus man and uniform follow a somehow similar chain of avatars, both subdued to the absurdity of a bureaucratic regime dominated  by an over-military mentality, both eager to take revenge. Without the uniform's story the prank imagined by Voigt would lack zest, without Voigt's determination, the uniform would just stay quiet. The revolt of each one is supported by the other's revolt and the circle is complete. Heinz Rühmann is wonderful: a nice, even sweet, guy always trying to do the right thing, always caught in the wrong place at the wrong moment.

(Heinz Rühmann)


F. W. Murnau

F.W. Murnau shooting a film in 1920
no copyright infringement intended

One of the great names in the history of cinema, F. W. Murnau left us with such amazing films as Nosferatu, or Der Letzte Mann, Faust or target="new"Sunrise. His works filter influences from Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen (wiki).

(Filmele Avangardei)


Friday, January 25, 2013

Juan Antonio Bardem: Calle Mayor (1956)

Calle Mayor, 1956
Spanish theatrical release poster
no copyright infringement intended

Calle Mayor, the Main Street... First time I watched this movie sometime in the 1960s or 1970s. It was one evening, we were at home the whole family, and together with us there was a close friend of my parents, an aged lady, distinguished and very nice. The movie was aired on TV. After it ended, for a long while everybody remained silent. It was a special feeling, hard to name. And then, suddenly, the lady asked why hadn't Juan let Isabel make him happy, as that would have been the natural way. The story of Isabel was also her own story, she had never been married.

I didn't know anything about Betsy Blair, actually I was confounding her name with that of another very different actress. And now this revelation! As for the director, Juan Antonio Bardem, I had once read in a movie magazine an interview given by him, and I had seen, a couple of years before, Muerte de un ciclista. But this movie was special. Beautiful and sad.

I remained with the memory of Calle Mayor, and I placed it for ever among the greatest movies. Together with the memory of that friend of my parents, with her sudden question, beautiful and sad like the spell of this movie.

Along the years new movies came, new directors and new actors, and the fame of Calle Mayor, of Juan Antonio Bardem, of Betsy Blair, started to fade among cinema goers, toward oblivion. Decades have passed, and I watched many other great movies, so it has proved difficult to keep my list of masterpieces unchanged. But, I must say, Calle Mayor remained there, unflinching, among the greatest movies I have ever seen.

There was also another thing. Along the years I found DVD copies for many great movies. Not for Calle Mayor, it was impossible to be found. A video on youTube or some other web site, either. It was a movie living in my memory, lost for ever.

Meanwhile I had read about another movie with Betsy Blair, Marty, made in 1955, where she was playing a similar role (also the plot was somehow similar, up to a point, Marty ending in an optimistic tone). Well, I didn't have the chance to watch that movie, and Betsy Blair has remained for me Isabel from Calle Mayor. The unforgettable image of a dry and shy spinster, forgotten by time and left to God, who transfigures herself as she is bathed by the rays of love.

Last year I found unexpectedly  a DVD copy on Amazon. I bought it immediately, though its region was not matching my player. It took then several months to find a multi-region player. I installed it on a computer that broke down. It took another couple of months till the computer was fixed.

And finally I was able to watch the movie, the second time after more than forty years. An encounter with a long lost friend, you're rubbing your eyes, you cannot believe it's true, despite the obvious.

How is this movie after so many years? It has kept its poignancy, and it has kept its spell.

Like Muerte de un ciclista, the other movie of Bardem that I watched, also Calle Mayor operates on multiple levels.

The most obvious is the neorealist level. A province town in the Spain of the 1950's, where time has died. The main street, the Calle Mayor, like an attempt of this place to claim an identity. Pathetic and vain. There is a church, there is a sordid café (or a brothel, whichever), there is a town library (under the billiards parlor), and there are the arcades, beautiful while not enough to demonstrate life deserves to be lived. People light candles at home and go to church on Sundays. The Civil War is still there in family wounds, while already forgotten history. Isabel's father was a colonel in the army of Franco, killed in the war, she is just an old spinster. There is a group of guys making stupid jokes to run away the boredom.  Juan (José Suárez, in the best role of his career) will pretend to fall for Isabel, to make her ridicule. She believes him and becomes happy. The story goes on till it is too late. Maybe he falls in love, too, that'd be the natural way. Only nothing can be natural in that place. Anyway, Juan has to chose between the courage to remain with her and to be happy  (covert by the ridicule of his friends, and ultimately of the whole town) and the cowardice to just get out. Of course he'll choose cowardice, because that's the way it is.

There is a political dimension: all this happens in the Spain of Franco. Bardem adds here a hint (I noticed this method also in Muerte de un ciclista; there the female lead was dying in a position reminding the hanging upside down of Mussolini and Clara Petacci). Here in Calle Mayor the hint lays in the name of one of the personages:a honest and cultivated guy (played by Yves Massard) who came from Madrid to stay in the town for a while. He is the only one who criticizes the prank made to Isabel, and eventually he is the only one who sees the life positively. His name is Federico (an inside homage to Federico Sánchez, pseudonym used then by Jorge Semprún to manage the clandestine activities of the Communist Party of Spain - wiki). 

There is also another level, beyond the neorealist drama. I would name it existential level. It is not only about that particular place in that particular time. It's about a universal experience. The street, the Calle Mayor, where all those people walk frenetically, like to show themselves that they really exist, this street comes in the movie like a dream. A dream in subtle dark tones, with imprecise images. An illusion of life. For several times the movie shows the railroad station, where trains are leaving, while no person is able to get on and escape from the illusion. Juan remains trapped in the town stupidness, Isabel remains trapped, ultimately everybody there is trapped, everybody is a spinster. A place of zombies. The impossibility of life to get off the illusion, to become reality. And the question addressed to us, who are watching the movie: is this real or are we just participants in a dream? Are we really alive?

Soportales de la Calle Mayor de Palencia
the Arcades of the Main Street in Palencia
(where the movie was shot)
no copyright infringement intended

And beyond all these levels, Calle Mayor (the same as Muerte de un ciclista) is a reference to other essential works in the history of cinema. Firstly, Fellini's Vitelloni: more has been said about their similarities. Then, the beginning scene (with the guys making the joke with the coffin) calls in mind Buñuel; also the superb scene at the end, with Isabel beyond a window washed by rain, an accolade for the Meshes of the Afternoon with its celebrated image (Maya Deren beyond a window washed by echos of reality and illusion) that in turn had come from Weinberg's Autumn Fire.


It happened that after watching Calle Mayor on DVD, I found a video copy on youTube, uploaded recently. It is my pleasure to invite you to see the movie. Please enjoy!

(Juan Antonio Bardem)


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Greg Gandy - Morning Light on California Street

Greg Gandy - Morning Light on California Street
oil on panel
on view at Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA
(shared from Facebook via Principle Gallery)
no copyright infringement intended

(Principle Gallery)


Friday, January 18, 2013

La Cumparsita, Otra Vez

El Tango y Sus Invitados
no copyright infringement intended

This time the tango is played by a boy of eleven, Julio Silpitucla. He is not only good at guitar, no, he's crazily good. Said one listener, before I considered playing the guitar. After seeing this boy, I realized that my place would be rather selling freaking hot-dogs.

(La Cumparsita)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Two Foundations

(published on Facebook by SF Swedenborgian Church)
no copyright infringement intended

De aceea, oricine aude aceste cuvinte ale Mele şi la îndeplineşte asemăna-se-va bărbatului înţelept care a clădit casa lui pe stâncă. A căzut ploaia, au venit râurile mari, au suflat vânturile şi au bătut în casa aceea, dar ea n-a căzut, fiindcă era întemeiată pe stâncă. Iar oricine aude aceste cuvinte ale Mele şi nu le îndeplineşte, asemăna-se-va bărbatului nechibzuit care şi-a clădit casa pe nisip. Şi a căzut ploaia şi au venit râurile mari şi au suflat vânturile şi au izbit casa aceea, şi a căzut. Şi căderea ei a fost mare.

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scott Bartner: Reclining Nude with Japanese Screen

Scott E. Bartner started a career in finances while being attracted by painting. After a few years he decided to remain totally in the world of art.

{Principle Gallery)

Jorge-Alberto: A Collector's Item

Jorge-Alberto, A Collector's Item
oil on panel
no copyright infringement intended

{Principle Gallery)


Jorge-Alberto: Becoming a Doctor

Jorge-Alberto, Becoming a Doctor
oil on panel
no copyright infringement intended

You have here everything: drama of light (that obsess Jorge-Alberto), technique of deception (another obsession of the artist), magical realism (in good Latin-American tradition), macabre humor (celebrating death is a way to conceive eternity). I would suggest another name for this oil, as Angelopoulos comes to mind: Eternity and a Day.

{Principle Gallery)


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Story with Cupboards and Waterwheels

Ludwig Deutsch, The Scholars
oil on panel, 1901
(Washington Times, Orientalist art’s reversal of fortune)
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the Romanian version)

All started from a painting by Ludwig Deutsch, showing three Arab scholars in front of an elegant built-in bookcase. A work from 1901, carying the title The Scholars. It impressed me, and it called in my mind the famous Three Philosopers of Giorgione (that I had seen about seventeen years ago, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, in Viena - I had gone there having firstly in mind to see them, The Philosphers, as I had dreamed at them for years - I had read in my youth years a fascinating book on Giorgione, by Salvatore Settis).

But let's come back to the Scholars of Deutsch. I looked for information on the web and I found an extract from a Sotheby's Catalogue, with a detailed description (authored by Dr. Emily M. Weeks, an expert in Orientalism and also in the visual culture from the Victorian Era). Each piece of clothing was mentioned, and each piece of furniture as well. Also the Arabic name was each time given (in phonetic transliteration, otherwise few would have understood).

For the built-in wooden bookcase the Arabic name was dulab. I was surprised: this word was very much like the Romanian dulap, and had the same meaning.  I decided to make a more in-depth research.

My guess was that the word dulap had come in Romanian from the Turkish language:  long time ago I had read a book by Victor Eftimiu, (an author that I had the chance to meet once, in my childhood), and I had learned from there that the first bricklayers in the Romanian Countries had been Turks, this way many related Romanian words had come with them, from Turkish. Not all the words, of course: zid (wall) for instance came from Slavik (zidŭ), cărămida (brick) came from Neo-Greek (keremidi), while tavan (ceiling) is the same as the Turkish tavan, geam (glass, window) is in Turkish cam, as for dușumea (floor), the Turkish word is döșeme. Then chirpici (adobe) is in Turkish kerpiç, and there are many other.

So to trace the dulap, I went to Google Translator and looked for the word in Turkish: dolap. Just what I was thinking.

Encouraged this way, I tried a translation from Turkish to Arabic, using the same tool, Google Translator. I got خزانة. Well, there was a bit of work to do with this خزانة. There are web sites for Romanization (and not only for Socialization, that are known by everyone), only you need to know how to look for them. This way I got the phonetic transliteration for the Arabic equivalent of the Romanian dulap: it was khzanh. Not what I expected! It's true that Arabs don't note all vowels (only a, in seems, and that one in three or four ways, for open vowel, closed vowel, long vowel, short vowel, and the like), however, kzanh doesn't look at all like dulab, far from that.

I thought at synonyms: Arabic words had synonyms, like the words in any other language, while Google Translator mostly gave you only one version of the word. So I considered trying the translation for some other synonyms of the Romanian dulap. Here my wife was of great help, by reminding me that words had also homonyms! Let me explain. Dulap doesn't mean in Romanian only cupboard. Dulap also means board (especially of a certain thickness, length and width). And actually dulap has in Romanian some other meanings, too - here is some stuff from some Romanian dictionaries:

At the end of the day, the common denominator is that all these synonyms and homonyms are designating wooden made objects, better said, either boards, or objects and installations constructed from boards (be them wheels, swings, buckets, cupboards, and so on). Well, I tried the translation with all the variants, without getting dulab.

I came back to the description of the Scholars, and I decided to give a shot also with an English-Arab translation.  I tried built-in wooden bookcase: it didn't fit.

Then I tried wall cupboard, and I got الجدار دولاب - in phonetic transliteration aljdar dwlab ! Success was near, because w and u designate the same sound in transliteration, thus dwlab and dulab were the same.

The weird thing was that going in the reverse direction, what I got from  دولاب   (dwlab) was the Romanian roată, and the English wheel, trundle, gear. Which means that Google Translator gets sometimes confused among so many synonyms and homonyms. That's natural, for such subtleties one needs to go to  Academic dictionaries, not to onLine tools.

Now, if you go further and translate from Arabic to Persian, for dwlab you get چرخ , which is transliterated to cherkh, that looks amazingly like the Romanian cerc (circle). But after all circle and wheel are some kind of synonyms!

So far so good. However, a cupboard is a cupboard and a wheel is a wheel,  despite their wooden relationship. So I tried another way: I looked on the web for various contexts containing the word  dulab. This time I was lucky

I found it firstly in a book printed in London in 1916: Peeps at Many Lands: Egypt, authored by  Robert Talbot Kelly (this was an English artist who spent some time in North Africa, then in Burma). The book is now on the web (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18647/18647-h/18647-h.htm) and here is the fragment where dulab is used:

The walls are usually plain, and are only broken by the "dulab," or wall cupboard, in which pipes and other articles are kept  (it's a description of an Egyptian home).

I concluded that in Egyptian Arabic dulab meant built-in cupboard.

I found then another book on the web, published in Wiesbaden in 1990 - Arabic Loanwords in Ethiopian Semitic, by  Wolf Lenslau (an authoritative specialist in Semitic languages spoken in Ethiopia):

dulab (D.T) wardrobe', Ar. (Egypt) dulab 'cupboard', Yemenite dawlab, from Persian dulab

So Romanian - Turkish - Arabic - Persian. Most probably I could have gone even further, but I considered it enough.

I wanted though to check also the Persian word. This time I need to do some reverse engineering: taking each letter from the phonetic notation, replacing it with the corresponding Persian letter, arranging the sequence of Persian letters from right to left. I got دولآب (the same as the Arabic دولاب, no wonder, they share the alphabet). I went then to the Google Translator and I got waterwheel. The translation in Romanian came as roată (wheel), however, taking each syllable independently  I arrived also in Romanian at something like wooden object used in water. Which could be roată (de moară), ciutură (waterwheel, bucket), and so on, and so on.

It's enough, I say. As you can see, in Romanian as in Arabic as in Persian dulab means many, many things, in many, many ways. So it goes.

(A Life in Books)

O Poveste cu Dulapi si Dulapuri

Ludwig Deutsch, The Scholars
oil on panel, 1901
(Washington Times, Orientalist art’s reversal of fortune)
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the English version)

Totul a inceput dela o pictura a lui Ludwig Deutsch, infatisand trei carturari arabi aflati in fata unei biblioteci zidite in perete. O pictura din anul 1901, intitulata Carturarii. Mi-a placut mult (amintindu-mi chiar de celebrii Trei Filosofi ai lui Giorgione, i-am vazut cu vreo saptesprezece ani in urma la Kunsthistorisches Museum, la Viena, dupa ce imi dorisem ani la rand sa ajung sa ii vad - in tinerete citisem o carte pasionanta despre Giorgione, scrisa de Salvatore Settis).

Sa ma intorc insa la Carturarii lui Deutsch. Am cautat informatii pe web si am gasit un extras dintr-un catalog Sotheby, cuprinzand o descriere amanuntita, facuta de Dr. Emily M. Weeks, experta in orientalism si in artele plastice din epoca victoriana. Fiecare parte a imbracamintii celor trei personaje, si fiecare piesa de mobilier erau amintite, de fiecare data dandu-se si denumirea lor araba (in notatie fonetica, altfel putini ar fi fost cei care sa o inteleaga).

Pentru biblioteca (built-in wooden bookcase, biblioteca din lemn incastrata in perete) denumirea araba era dulab. Cuvantul acesta semana extrem de mult cu romanescul dulap si insemna acelasi lucru. M-am decis sa fac o cercetare mai amanuntita.

Banuiam ca romanescul dulap vine din limba turca:  in copilarie citisem o carte de Victor Eftimiu, din care aflasem ca turcii au introdus mestesugul zidariei in Tarile Romane, in felul asta intrand in limba noastra si multe cuvinte din domeniu. Nu chiar toate cuvintele: zid de exemplu vine din slavona (zidŭ), cărămida ne vine din neogreaca (keremidi), insa cuvantul tavan este in turceste tot tavan, cuvantul geam vine tot din turca (unde este cam), cat despre dușumea, in limba turca este döșeme. Mai e apoi chirpici (in turca este kerpiç), si mai sunt multe.

Asa ca pentru a-i lua urma dulapului, m-am dus pe Google Translator si l-am cautat in turca: dolap. Era ceea ce gandeam.

Incurajat, am incercat o traducere din turca in araba, cu acelasi Google Translator. Rezultatul a fost خزانة. Ei, aici aveam nitica treaba sa il dibuiesc. Pe web exista nu numai site-uri de socializare, ci si site-uri de romanizare, numai sa stii sa le cauti. Site-uri care iti ofera transcrierea fonetica a unui cuvant scris folosind alfabetul arab, de exemplu. Asa ca m-am dus la site-ul de romanizare pentru araba si aici am obtinut transcrierea fonetica a dulapului in arabeste: khzanh. Nu noteaza arabii vocalele din interiorul cuvantului (doar pe a, in vreo trei feluri, dupa cum e vocala inchisa, deschisa, lunga, scurta, ma rog), dar oricum, kzanh nu prea se potriveste cu dulab de nici o culoare.

Mi-am zis ca exista si in araba sinonime, ca in orice alta limba, iar Google Translator iti da in general o singura forma. Probabil, mi-am zis, ar trebui sa mai incerc cu un sinonim din romana al cuvantului dulap. Aici mi-a sarit sotia in ajutor: nu era vorba de sinonime, ci de omonime! Sa ma explic. Dulap nu inseamna numai piesa de mobilier verticala in care se pun rufe, sau vase, sau scule, sau carti, sau orice altceva. Dulap inseamna si o scandura de o anumita grosime, latime si lungime. In primul caz, dulap devine la plural dulapuri, in al doilea caz, dulapi.

Deci povestea mea devenea o poveste cu dulapuri si dulapi. Si de fapt dulap mai inseamna si altceva - iata ce ne dau dictionarele romanesti:

Pana la urma, ceea ce aveau in comun toate aceste omonime era faptul ca desemnau obiecte facute din lemn, mai bine zis, era vorba fie de scanduri, fie de lucrari din scanduri (fie ele roti, scrancioabe, vartelnite, ciuturi sau sifoniere).Am incercat cu toate aceste variante, dar nimic nu imi dadea in araba dulab.

M-am intors atunci la textul descrierii picturii Carturarii, si mi-am zis sa plec din engleza spre araba.  Am incercat built-in wooden bookcase si nu mi-a dat ce asteptam. Am incercat atunci wall cupboard, si am obtinut الجدار دولاب - fonetic aljdar dwlab ! Eram foarte aproape de succes, pentru ca w se pronunta u ca in wooden, asadar dwlab si dulab sunt acelasi cuvant. Ce era ciudat insa, mergand acum invers, din دولاب   (dwlab) am obtinut in romaneste roata, iar in engleza wheel, trundle, gear. Cu alte cuvinte, Google Translator se mai incurca si el intre sinonime si omonime, ceea ce nu e de mirare, pentru distinctii atat de fine trebuie mers la dictionare academice, si care sa nu fie onLine.

Ce e interesant, daca traduci din araba in persana, rezultatul pentru dwlab este چرخ . Mergand apoi la site-ul de romanizare pentru limba persana, cuvantul in notatie fonetica este cherkh, ceea ce seamana izbitor cu cuvantul romanesc cerc, care in fond este sinonim cu roata!

Totusi dulapul e dulap si roata e roata, oricat de inrudite ar fi prin lemnul din care sunt facute, asa incat am incercat altceva: sa caut pe web chiar cuvantul dulab. Si l-am gasit in primul rand intr-o carte tiparita in 1916 la Londra. Cartea se numea Peeps at Many Lands: Egypt (Priviri furise la multe tari: Egipt), si era scrisa de Robert Talbot Kelly, un artist englez care si-a petrecut cativa ani de viata in Africa de Nord si apoi in Birmania. Acum cartea este si pe web (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18647/18647-h/18647-h.htm) si iata contextul in care este cuvantul dulab:

The walls are usually plain, and are only broken by the "dulab," or wall cupboard, in which pipes and other articles are kept  (este vorba de descrierea caselor egiptene).

Am dedus ca in araba egipteana, cuvantul dulab are sensul de dulap zidit.

Presupunerea mi-a fost confirmata de o alta lucrare gasita pe web, de data asta o carte aparuta la Wiesbaden in 1990 - Arabic Loanwords in Ethiopian Semitic  (Imprumuturi arabe in etiopiana semita), de  Wolf Lenslau, un specialist de mare autoritate in limbile semite vorbite in Etiopia:

dulab (D.T) wardrobe', Ar. (Egypt) dulab 'cupboard', Yemenite dawlab, from Persian dulab

Asadar in romana din turca, in turca din araba, in araba din persana. Si probabil ca putem merge pe urmele dulapului si mai departe, spre muntii Hindu Kush, sa trecem si de ei, cine stie. M-am oprit insa la persani, imi era de acum de ajuns.

Voiam sa verific si cuvantul persan.Trebuia sa fac drumul invers: sa iau fiecare litera din transcrierea fonetica, sa ii gasesc corespondentul din alfabetul persan, sa recompun astfel cuvantul (avand grija sa asez literele dela dreapta la stanga): mi-a iesit دولآب (daca veti compara cu دولاب din araba, veti vedea ca sunt aceleasi litere, ceea ce nu e de mirare, pentru ca iranienii folosesc alfabetul arab). Tradus in engleza da waterwheel. Traducerea in romana da un sens mai larg, roată, dar daca luam separat fiecare silaba a cuvantului persan, ajungem si in romana la obiect din lemn folosit in apă. Poate fi roată (de moară), ciutură, sau multe altele

Cred ca e destul. Si in romana, si in araba, si in persana, dulab inseamna foarte multe lucruri, foarte diferite.

(A Life in Books)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Granddaughter Daria in the Skiing Class

The Gang of Four. Daria is the first on the left.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Portrait of the Duke as a Young Man

Hans Mielich: Youth Portrait of Duke Albert V
(Jugendbild des Herzog Albrecht V. von Bayern)
Alte Pinakothek, Munich
no copyright infringement intended

(Hans Mielich)


The Chess Play from Munich

Hans Mielich
Duke Albert V of Bavaria and his consort Anna of Austria playing chess
Kleinodienbuch der Herzogin Anna von Bayern
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich
no copyright infringement intended

Duke Albert V of Bavaria was a generous patron of the arts and an assiduous collector of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiquities. The Duke appreciated the art of Hans Mielich who became his court painter. Orlando di Lasso was also a protege of the Duke.

The Duke was married to Archduchess Anna of Austria, and they both encouraged the development of Munich as city of arts.

(Hans Mielich)

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Hans Mielich

Hans Mielich, Selbstporträt
oder Bildnis eines unbekannten Zeitgenossen
no copyright infringement intended

A master of the Late Renaissance, Hans Mielich (also known as Muelich, or Müelich) was born in Munich in 1516 (the date is actually not documented; it was deduced from one of his self-portraits, made in 1571, in which his age was given as fifty-five, ArtHistoryReference). He lived for most of his life in Munich, where he has been a leading painter of religious compositions, manuscript illuminations and portraits (http://www.answers.com/topic/hans-mielich-2). Mielich died in 1573.

(See also http://virtualology.com/hallofgermanart/HANSMIELICH.COM/)

(Old Masters)


Makar Sankranthi

This coming Monday the Sun enters the Makara rashi, it's time for harvest and for joy. I looked a little bit into a dictionary where I find always many things, in Wikipedia.

They call it मकर संक्रान्ति in Hindi and Sanskrit. In Bengali, the language of Tagore and of Satyajit Ray, it's মকর সংক্রান্তি. My Indian friends call it ಮಕರ ಸಂಕ್ರಾಂತಿ, as they speak Kannada. In Telugu it's మకర సంక్రాంతి, and in Tamil it's தைப்பொங்கல்: I have two other friends whose tongues are Telugu and Tamil. It's தைப்பொங்கல் in Marathi (a language with its oldest literary works from around 1000 CE). And this is not all, far from that: മകര സാന്‍ക്രാന്തി in Malayalam, মকৰ সংক্রান্তি in Assamese, ମକର ସଂକ୍ରାନ୍ତି in Oriya. With so many tongues and so many lands, Makar Sankranthi is celebrated for many reasons and in many ways. There is one thing in common: this day kids fly their kites.

(A Life in Books)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Die Drei von der Tankstelle (1930)

Three friends get suddenly broke and loose everything except optimism. So they take a run-down filling station and start working in shifts. It happens that a young lady begins to come there every day, always finding another one of the three guys. Naturally each of them falls deeply in love for the girl, without being aware of the other two.  As for her, to choose among the three proves difficult: all of them are so cute! Selecting one will do injustice to the other two. They are Willy Fritsch, Oskar Karlweis, and Heinz Rühmann, she is Lilian Harvey. Olga Chekhova is also playing in a supporting role. A wonderful musical that made Heinz Rühmann a star. It was 1930.

Says the Continuum Film Blog, completely crazy in a way very different from American musical comedies of the same period it does share the theme of making a living in difficult times. But instead of putting on a show, the boys open a filling station. After all, they did run out of gas fleeing their dispossessed home being emptied by the bailiff and some burlesque musical movers. As in Ein blonder Traum there is clever use of models to further the surreal/expressionistic moments. The workers pickup a deco clad couch and throw is through the air (with whirring Mickey Mousing) straight through the house into the van! Made think of my own housing and moving issues but that's another issue...

I couldn't find a copy of the movie, only some scenes. I found instead the remake from 1955. Willy Fritsch played also in the remake, this time in the role of the girl's father. Also Hans Moser had a cameo in this 1955 film, and I was glad to see him again, even for two minutes only. As the movie is not subtitled, I offer you a description of the plot, that I found on imdb and worked a little bit on it. Here you go:

The story starts with the three friends riding back home from some place. They are Peter (Adrian Hoven), Fritz (Walter Giller), and Robert (Walter Müller). Their car wheel gets lose and falls in the mud. While Peter walks back to find a repair station, Robert does a Claudette Colbert kind of a trick, hiding behind the bushes and sticking his leg out, thus pretending to be a woman, in order to make a car stop and get Fritz back to the city. Peter finds a car repair, only the mechanic is a mean guy and hesitates to go solve their car problem. Eventually Fritz gets a ride back to the city on a truck, while Robert waits for Peter to return with the mechanic.

When Fritz arrives in the city he goes to an investment firm, to be told that there's no more dividends (or that all three friends have lost their new jobs there, as they hadn't come in time, whichever), so all three friends are broke. In the same day the bailiff comes to the apartment they are sharing and  gets them out, while a team of workers is picking up all their furniture. At least the workers cannot pick up the car, too (as it is far away, with the wheel in the mud and all that stuff).

Meanwhile the car wheel is somehow fixed and they take a ride to the countryside, to clear their minds and see what to do next.  Of course their car breaks down, it's starting to rain heavily, and they end up at an abandoned gas station. They sell the car and buy the station (along with a small dilapidated house nearby). Soon they make it a success, and an oil company called U.M.O.L. finds out about it.

So the staff from U.M.O.L. enters the picture. The president of the company is Consul Kossmann (Willy Fritsch), his girl friend Irene (Claude Farrel), a sculptress, is also a stock holder at the company. There is also the director, Dr Calmus (Osckar Sima). Add to them the president's daughter, Gaby (Germaine Damar), who works as a secretary. The president gets the director to take a look at the gas station and to buy it. Also the president gets his daughter Gaby to go spy on the place.

So Gaby starts going every day to the gas station in her convertible and she finds there each time another one of the three guys, as they work in shifts. Each one falls for Gaby on the spot and gives her a gas attendant doll. Neither one is aware that the other two had also fallen in love with the girl.

Naturally she's also falling in love with them, as it's hard to make a selection: they all are so cute! And anyway she remains with all three gas attendant dolls. Neither one knows that she's the president's daughter. The director shows up later on, to offer them a deal. Peter and Fritz turn it down, while Robert agrees with it.

Meanwhile Gaby is dreaming about all three, and when her father shows up in her room and notices the three dolls and also hears her mentioning all the three men in her sleep, he realizes what's going on. The next day Gaby tells Irene, her father's girlfriend, about this. Irene decides to invite all three men to the night club to test which of them is more in love with Gaby. Earlier Gaby showed the report she made to her father and to the director, stating not to buy the station since she's sympathetic with them. The director decides to buy the station anyway.

Peter and Robert thumb ride to the night club where they suppose to meet Gaby. Peter gets a ride, while Robert ends up going back home and taking their mini car (some antediluvian device they have achieved somehow) . Fritz has to stay and attend the gas station, which he does, until some truck driver tells him about a new road being open and all the property being bought to make this road. He immediately goes back home to tell them about this, but they all are gone. So he also goes to the night club. Of course, none of them knew that the other two had been invited in the same place. So at the club each of them is surprised. Their surprise gets much bigger as they notice the president, her girlfriend and Gaby at another table . A story is made up that she is engaged to the director, to see how they would react, so to prove who really loves Gaby. All of them get upset and leave, making her disappointed in tears.

The next day the director assistant goes to the gas station with the papers of take over. This angers the three guys. After that Irene shows up to try to tell them what happened. They are angry with her, showing her the take over papers. She calls up the president, who in turn calls the director telling him to forget about buying the station. Later the president and Gaby show up with champagne to calm down spirits. Eventually everybody's happy and Gaby remains with the one who loves her most.

Don't worry with the skull you see in the video above, it's caoutchouc:)

Says the Continuum Film Blog, I love that Oskar Karlweis slides down the wheel fender and that the dancers walk through the roadster and the camera actually leaves the proscenium pov and goes to the other side! It's a little thing but quite canny and gives an otherwise static set-bound dance a little life. Karlweis moves a little like Bert Wheeler. I like his singing and his gazing at his memento Mercedes gas cap! And of course there's the klaxon motif!

Die Drei von der Tankstelle, 1930
Ein Freund ein guter Freund
(video by Ein Lied geht um die Welt)

Die Drei von der Tankstelle, 1930
Liebling, mein Herz läßt Dich grüßen
(video by Ein Lied geht um die Welt)

Die Drei von der Tankstelle, 1930
Erst kommt ein großes Fragezeichen
(video by Ein Lied geht um die Welt)

Says the Continuum Film Blog, the finale is total operetta with a double end and the characters looking and talking to the cinema audience with much less winking than from Lubitsch and Chevalier. A terrific lame curtain intervenes and the big ending features a crowded mise en scene all taking place in a gasoline corporate office, all very modern and jazzy. It reminded me more of The Threepenny Opera than an Astaire/Rogers musical.

(Heinz Rühmann)