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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Emily Dickinson: The Bible Is an Antique Volume

When she was thirteen, Emily Dickinson was given her own Bible, by her father. They all were good observants: the church was in front of their home, and they were finding time for daily prayers and meditations always. Did she remain religious in her mature years, or did she become rather skeptical?

The Bible is an antique Volume—
Written by faded men
At the suggestion of Holy Spectres—
Eden—the ancient Homestead—
Satan—the Brigadier—
Judas—the Great Defaulter—
David—the Troubador—
Sin—a distinguished Precipice
Others must resist—
Boys that believe are very lonesome—
Other Boys are lost
Had but the Tale a warbling Teller—
All the Boys would come—
Orpheus' Sermon captivated—
It did not condemn—

I would say that she was a free spirit, while a kind spirit. She was sometimes rebellious in her verses, while her kindness was always keeping the good balance. And also, she was a lonely person, living in a universe of her own, enjoying her inner world: her verses were her own, unknown by anybody else, her Church, her God, her Bible, all were part of this universe of her own, all of them very nice to her, very joyful, loving to play with her thoughts, loving to be teased, her Church, her God, her Bible, together with her Verses, always amused by her teasing..

And let me say also this: to resume the Bible in a few lines, so effectively, it's only for a great spirit.

Biblia este un antic Volum
Scris cu apusele vremi
La sugestia Sfintelor Umbre.
Subiectele ei - Bethleem -
Edenul - Vatra cea veche -
Satan - Comandantul căzutei Brigăzi -
Iuda - Tâlharul cel mare -
David - Trubadurul -
Păcatul - Prăpastie-aleasă -
De ea - ferească-se alţii,
Băieţii care cred sânt singuri
Şi cei care nu cred - pierduţi.
Să fie cântată Povestea,
Ar veni Băieţii cu toţi -
Orfeu captiva cu Predica sa -
El nu condamna.

(Emily Dickinson)


Tracing the Strugatsky Brothers

(click here for the Romanian version)

As you probably know, Stalker, the revered movie of Tarkovsky, is a very free adaptation after Roadside Picnic, a short SF novel written by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky.

Actually the Strugatsky brothers also authored the screenplay for Stalker, however the link between movie and novel is loose. I could say that the movie starts where the novel ends, or rather that the film is built on the same basic situation (a place possibly visited by aliens), following then some new potentialities. Maybe first of all forcefully suggesting an ambiguity of the place: were they really aliens? or is it rather a scam constructed to mask some inconvenient truths? like a former zone for secret experiments? or a former labor camp? Also suggesting at a deeper level of understanding something beyond the story, touching the transcendental.

I read the novel in an almanac long time ago and it seemed to me that it was bringing forth an interesting hypothesis about aliens: namely that these extraterrestrial beings could be extremely different from humans, biologically speaking (for instance as minuscule as dragonflies are), thus their traces left on Earth would be totally senseless for us (the same way our own traces left in a journey outdoors would be senseless for, say, dragonflies, all those cigarette butts, empty cans, papers, used batteries and the like): for aliens or humans alike, just a roadside picnic.

Well, there are some people among us who have a special kind of sensitiveness: for them such roadside places come as carrying some strange energy and hiding secrets that wait to be deciphered - secrets just beyond the obvious.

Plese don't jump to hasty conclusions: I didn't loose my mind.  What I'm trying is to get the atmosphere of the story imagined by the Strugatsky brothers and to give you the same feeling.

MacArthur Boulevard in Maryland, some place between Brookmont and Glen Echo. The landscape down toward the Potomac reminded me suddenly of the Strugatsky brothers and their Roadside Picnic. Something seemed weird to me: the leaves, and the trees seemed too quiet, like waiting for something to happen, like hiding something too precious and too alien for us humans to understand.

(Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)


(Looking for the Old Trolley)

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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pe urmele fraţilor Strugatsky

(click here for the English version)

Cred ca foarte multi dintre voi ati vazut filmul Calauza (Stalker) al lui Tarkovsky. Este o adaptare foarte libera a unei povestiri stiintifico-fantastice scrise de fratii Arkadi si Boris Strugatsky. Povestirea se numeste Picnic pe Marginea Drumului (in engleza a fost tradusa cu titlul Roadside Picnic).

Fratii Strugatzky au fost de altfel si autorii scenariului filmului Stalker, insa legatura dintre film si povestire este foarte loose. As putea zice ca filmul incepe acolo unde se termina povestirea, sau poate mai curand ca filmul porneste dela aceeasi situatie de baza (loc vizitat probabil de extraterestri) si dezvolta o potentialitate nedezvoltata in povestire.

Am citit povestirea odata de mult, intr-un almanah, si am retinut din ea un aspect: ca extraterestrii s-ar putea sa fie extrem de diferiti biologic fata de pamanteni (de exemplu sa fie mici cat niste libelule, sau cat niste fluturi), calatoria lor pe Pamant sa fie o excursie fara nici o legatura cu existenta noastra (asa cum o excursie de-a noastra in natura nu are nici o legatura cu viata libelulelor si a fluturilor), iar urmele lasate de ei pe Pamant sa fie tot atat de neinteles pentru noi pamantenii cum sunt pentru insecte sau pasarele urmele lasate de noi insine intr-o excursie (un picnic pe marginea drumului). Dupa noi raman chistoace de tigari, cutii goale de bere, hartii, baterii descarcate de radio sau de aparate de filmat,care nu au inteles pentru insectele care vin dupa aceea. La fel nici noi nu putem da nici un inteles resturilor lasate de eventualii extraterestri. Este tot un picnic la marginea drumului

Sigur insa ca pentru acei dintre noi care avem o sensibilitate pentru asemenea lucruri, locurile vizitate de extraterestri apar ca incarcate cu o anumita energie, incercam sa exploram ce este acolo si sa dam un anume inteles obiectelor gasite.

Nu va speriati: nu am inebunit. Nu fac decat sa intru in atmosfera povestirii Fratilor Strugatsky. Imi imaginez ce si-ar putea imagina eroii povestirii, si incerc sa va fac si pe voi sa va imaginati.

Exista un loc pe care am trecut de multe ori, in excursiile mele de weekend in imprejurimile Washingtonului. Este undeva pe malul Potomacului si de fiecare data cand treceam pe acolo, imi placea sa ma legan in iluzia ca este unul din locurile acelea, una din zonele incarcate de mister, vizitate poate candva de extraterestri, sau poate inca populate de asemenea fiinte, foarte deosebite de noi (de exemplu mici cat niste libelule, dar cu puteri remarcabile), asteptand sa fie percepute de noi, sau poate asteptand sa ne atace. sau poate sa ne elibereze, who knows?

(Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)

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Friday, June 28, 2013

Emily Dickinson: Arcturus Is His Other Name

no copyright infringement intended

Arcturus is his other name—
I'd rather call him Star.
It's very mean of Science
To go and interfere!

I slew a worm the other day—
A Savant passing by
Murmured ResurgamCentipede!
Oh Lord—how frail are we!

I pull a flower from the woods—
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath—
And has her in a class!

Whereas I took the Butterfly
Aforetime in my hat—
He sits erect in Cabinets
The Clover bells forgot.

What once was Heaven
Is Zenith now—
Where I proposed to go
When Time's brief masquerade was done
Is mapped and charted too.

What if the poles should frisk about
And stand upon their heads!
I hope I'm ready for the worst
Whatever prank betides!

Perhaps the Kingdom of Heaven's changed—
I hope the Children there Won't be new fashioned when I come—
And laugh at me—and stare—

I hope the Father in the skies
Will lift his little girl—
Old fashioned—naught—everything—
Over the stile of Pearl.

(Emily Dickinson)


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Emily Dickinson: Why Do I Love You, Sir?

no copyright infringement intended

Why do I love You, Sir?
The Wind does not require the Grass
To answer—Wherefore when He pass
She cannot keep Her place.

Because He knows—and
Do not You—
And We know not—
Enough for Us
The Wisdom it be so—

The Lightning—never asked an Eye
Wherefore it shut—when He was by—
Because He knows it cannot speak—
And reasons not contained—
—Of Talk—
There be—preferred by Daintier Folk—

The Sunrise—Sire—compelleth Me—
Because He's Sunrise—and I see—
I love Thee—

Pourquoi je Vous aime, Monsieur?
Parce que -
Le Vent n’exige pas de réponse
De l’Herbe – Aussi lorsqu’Il passe
Ne peut-Elle rester en place.

Parce qu’Il sait – et
Pas Vous?
Et que Nous ne savons pas -
Nous suffit la Sagesse
Qu’il en soit ainsi -

L’Eclair – n’a jamais demandé à l’Oeil
Pourquoi il se clôt – en Sa Présence -
Parce qu’Il sait que l’Oeil ne peut parler -
Et qu’il est des raisons -
Hors Langage -
Que préfèrent les Gens plus Délicats -

Le Soleil levant – Monsieur – s’impose à Moi -
Parce qu’Il est le Soleil levant – et que je vois -
Voilà – pourquoi
Je T’Aime

(Emily Dickinson)


Friday, June 21, 2013

There Is No Third

Says T.S.Eliot, Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them, there is no third.

lithography by Gustave Doré
no copyright infringement intended

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

When I had journeyed half of our life's way
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.
(English rendering by Allen Mandelbaum)

La mijlocul de drum al vieţii noastre
m-am fost găsit într-o pădure-adâncă:
pierdusem drumul drept prin văi sihastre.
(Romanian rendering by George Pruteanu)

To be, or not to be – that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep -
No more – and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to.

Être, ou ne pas être, telle est la question.
Y a-t-il plus de noblesse d’âme à subir
la fronde et les flèches de la fortune outrageante,
ou bien à s’armer contre une mer de douleurs
et à l’arrêter par une révolte ? Mourir… dormir,
rien de plus ;… et dire que par ce sommeil nous mettons fin
aux maux du cœur et aux mille tortures naturelles
qui sont le legs de la chair.

A fi sau a nu fi… Aceasta-i întrebarea.
Mai vrednic oare e să rabzi în cuget
a vitregiei prăştii şi săgeți, sau arma s-o ridici
asupra mării de griji, şi să le curmi?
Să mori, să dormi… Atât.
Şi printr-un somn să curmi durerea din inimă
şi droaia de izbelişti ce-s date cărnii.

(T. S. Eliot)



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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Goya: Monk Talking to an Old Woman

The Goya miniatures were painted on small squares of ivory around four inches square that had been coated with a ground of black carbon on which he dripped water which removed the carbon to reveal the shadow of white ivory below. He would then look into this wetness and manipulate it to produce the images that he saw emerging from it (http://redtreetimes.com/2011/07/26/goyas-miniatures/).



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra (1943)

It is perhaps the best-known of a number of pieces that have the apparently contradictory title Concerto for Orchestra. This is in contrast to the conventional concerto form, which features a solo instrument with orchestral accompaniment. Bartók said that he called the piece a concerto rather than a symphony because of the way each section of instruments is treated in a soloistic and virtuosic way (wiki).

Symphony Orchestra of the Liszt School Of Music, Weimar
Nicolás Pasquet, conductor
I. Introduzione
II. Giuoco Delle Coppie
III. Elegia
IV. Intermezzo Interrotto
V. Finale

(video by hfmFRANZLISZTweimar)




Béla Bartók
no copyright infringement intended

(Musica Nova)


Glass Harp-Toccata and Fugue in D minor-Bach-BWV 565

Robert Tiso playing at his glass harp
no copyright infringement intended

(The B A C H motif)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Gibran: The Night Became Calm

no copyright infringement intended

A poem by Gibran - I found it mentioned in Honour, the latest novel by Elif Shafak, that I'm reading. The title of the poem is Sakana Al-Layl (The Night Became Calm).

سكن الليل و في ثوب السكون تختبي الأحلام
وسع البدر و للبدر عيون ترصد الأيام
فتعالي يا إبنة الحقل نزور كرمة العشاق
علنا نطفي بذياك العصير حرقة الأشواق
سمع البلبل ما بين الحقول يسكب الألحان
في فضاء نفخت فيه التلول نسمة الريحان
لا تخافي يا فتاتي فالنجوم تكتم الأخبار
و ضباب الليل في تلك الكروم يحجب الأسرار
لا تخافي فعروس الجن في كهفها المسحور
هجعت سكرى و كادت تختفي عن عيون الحور
و مليك الجن إن مر يروح و الهوى يثنيه
فهو مثلي عاشق كيف يبوح بالذي يضنيه

no copyright infringement intended

The night became calm
And in the cloak of calmness kept hidden the dreams
The full moon widened
And in the moon watched over the days
So come my daughter of the fields
Let us visit the vineyard of lovers
Perhaps we will extinguish the flame of desire with the sweet juice
The nightingale is heard amidst the fields pouring out melodies
In the space that the hills breathed a breeze of sweet basil
Don't fear, my girl
For the stars can hold their tongue
And the fog of night in that vineyard covers the secrets
Do not fear
For the bride of jinn
In her enchanted cave
Slept sweetly and was on the verge being hidden from the pitch black eyes
And the king of the jinn if he passed by he would leave diverted by love
For he is like me a lover
How can he betray that which consumes him (with love)?

Fairouz سكن الليل Sakana Al_Layle (traduit en français)
(video by tzygandal)


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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Old Words Surviving as Fossils

We all know that the past tense for go is went, which makes it an irregular verb. Actually went is the past tense of another verb, whose present tense vanished long time ago: wend. And in those old times the past tense for go was gaed. It so happened that wend and gaed disappeared, and went switched to go. So wend survived in a fossilized form.

Edelina Stoian noticed on her Facebook page an article treating such kind of stuff: Twelve Old Words that Survived by Getting Fossilized in Idioms:

(Edelina Stoian)

(A Life in Books)

NYC in the 80's - Two Videos by RailroadPacific

The person whose nick is Pacific-Railroad.de (or RailroadPacific) visited NYC several times in the eighties and filmed there in places like Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, Staten Island Ferry, also from the roof of World Trade Center. I enjoyed watching his videos, as it reminded me my own walks there twenty years later.

NYC 1983 and 1986 original footage
(video by RailroadPacific)
no copyright infringement intended

WTC 1986 original footage
(video by RailroadPacific)
no copyright infringement intended

(New York, New York)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Franco Clun, Pencil on Watercolor Paper

Franco Clun loves drawing and loves the graphite. He is a self-taught artist who got knowledge through experience.

(Contemporary Art)

Bianca in a School Concert

Diamond Junior High School, Lexington, MA
photo by John M. Sullivan
no copyright infringement intended

I have already told you that my granddaughter Bianca is a student in the Diamond Junior High School and she plays the viola in the school orchestra. Here is a recent concert.



Paul Cadden, Small Drawing Pencil on Paper

Paul Cadden cites as inspiration the phrase to intensify the normal. His works start from photos or video stills, trying to go beyond. Cadden mostly uses pencil, sometimes chalk. His output is of seven - eight works per year. If we would like to describe his artistic affiliation, it is something between hyperrealism and photorealism.

(Contemporary Art)

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Goya, Capricho_43
El sueño de la razón produce monstruos
etching and aquatint, 1797-1799
Museo Nacional de Prado
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the Romanian version)

I was pretty far from home and wanted to go back. I started trying different shortcuts to shorten my way, but I was getting lost each time, ending up in unexpected places, further away. Suddenly I found myself in front of a building that at first glance seemed to be a monumental palace that I knew well, but it turned out to be something else, somewhere else. I took a shortcut from there, too, and that again put me further away. I was now in front of a hotel, not far from home, but again I could not recognize the place. A famous concert hall near the hotel emerged in front of me to immediately vanish. Something was strange.  I entered a house that I knew and that, as odd as it seems, I used to cross room after room to get on the street where I lived. Here I noticed the presence of an old friend. We hadn't met for many years. We went into a room where we saw another old acquaintance. They started talking together about a third one, who was now under criminal investigation for some unclear stuff. They intended to testify in his favor and asked me to join. I considered a little what to do, then I followed them. The two friends had meanwhile merged in a unique person. I followed him into a room, then in another room, then he vanished. I passed from room to room and got outside, to find myself in a completely unknown place. I realized it was very far from home, in the opposite side of the town. I considered taking a cab, but when I looked into my wallet, I found only a photo and a small excerpt from a newspaper. I decided to give a call, as I had my cell phone with me, but the screen was oddly white and remained stubbornly white any key I was pressing. I suddenly realized that in fact I had forgotten all that happened since I had left my home, where I had gone, on what purpose, anything. I had lost my memory for a duration of time  that I could not specify. I realized that such things would happen again and again from now on and that it would be useless to try hiding them. I wondered if I was not dreaming, so I pinched myself. This way I could see whether I was dreaming or not, so I repeated pinching, without getting a definite answer. I woke up next to my wife, you fell asleep with the head on your laptop, she said. But now I was in bed! No, I was back in that distant place. So  the discussion with  my wife had been nothing more than a short dream: I had been asleep for a few moments while standing in the street. I examined myself for a second to see if I was properly dressed, No, I wasn't, at all. I pinched myself once more, again without success. It was a hopeless situation, and I was horrified. Something was telling me that the only chance was to keep on pinching. But I could not do it anymore, my fingers were refusing to obey. I tried to scream for help, I had no voice. Was I slowly vanishing?


(A Life in Books)


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Somnul Ratiunii Naste Monstri

Goya, Capricho_43
El sueño de la razón produce monstruos
etching and aquatint, 1797-1799
Museo Nacional de Prado
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the English version)

Eram destul de departe de casa si voiam sa ma intorc. Incercam sa folosesc diverse scurtaturi, dar de fiecare data ma rataceam si ajungeam in locuri neasteptate, care ma indepartau si mai mult. Am ajuns la un moment dat in fata a ceva ce la prima vedere parea a fi o cladire monumentala de pe Calea Victoriei, insa apoi s-a dovedit a fi altceva, altundeva. Stiam insa si de aici o scurtatura, care iarasi mi-a lungit drumul. Eram acum in fata unui hotel, tot de pe Calea Victoriei, insa parca nu mai recunosteam locurile. Ateneul mi-a aparut in fata pentru a disparea dupa o secunda. Am intrat intr-o casa pe care o stiam si pe care, oricat ar parea de ciudat, o traversasem de multe ori pentru a ajunge pe strada unde locuiam. Aici am vazut un fost coleg de serviciu. Nu ne mai vazusem de multi ani. Am intrat impreuna cu el intr-o camera in care se afla un al doilea fost coleg. Impreuna discutau despre un al treilea, care intre timp devenise mare om de afaceri, iar acum era anchetat la procuratura, invinuit de niste lucruri ce nu imi erau clare. Cei doi colegi se gandeau sa depuna marturie in favoarea sa. Vino si tu, mi-a zis unul din ei. Am stat putin in cumpana, apoi m-am luat dupa ei. Cei doi colegi se contopisera intre timp intr-unul singur. L-am urmat intr-o camera, apoi in alta camera, apoi a disparut.  Cand am reusit sa ma descurc din camera in camera si sa ies afara, m-am trezit intr-un loc cu totul necunoscut. Mi-am dat seama ca eram intr-un loc foarte indepartat din Bucuresti, pe care nu il stiam deloc. Mi-am zis sa iau un taxi, dar cand am bagat mana in buzunar, nu am gasit decat vreo cinci lei. M-am decis atunci sa telefonez, aveam mobilul la mine, dar ecranul era alb si si se incapatana sa ramana alb orice tasta apasam. Mi-am dat brusc seama ca de fapt uitasem cand am plecat, pentru ce am plecat, unde fusesem, si am realizat ca imi pierdusem memoria pentru o durata de timp pe care nu o puteam preciza. Cine eram eu? Oare puteam sa nu spun nimanui despre ce mi se intamplase? Riscam sa fiu dus la un spital. Imi dadeam insa seama ca asemenea lucruri se vor repeta de acum incolo si ca nu mai este nimic de facut. M-am intrebat daca nu visam si m-am ciupit. Nu imi dadeam seama daca simtisem sau nu ceva, asa ca am repetat ciupitura, tot fara sa am un raspuns definitiv. M-am trezit langa sotia mea, mi-a zis, ai adormit cu capul pe calculator. Totusi acum eram in pat, in pijama! Ba nu, eram din nou in locul acela indepartat. Asadar discutia cu sotia mea fusese un vis scurt, adormisem in picioare pentru cateva momente. M-am mai ciupit odata, tot fara succes. Era o situatie fara iesire si eram ingrozit. Ceva imi spunea insa ca singura sansa era sa ma ciupesc din nou ca sa imi dau seama daca nu visez. Insa nu reuseam sa o mai fac. Am vrut sa strig dupa ajutor, insa nu mai aveam glas. Nu mai era nimic de facut.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Roșia Montană: Town on the Brink



Daria's Amazing Grace

no copyright infringement intended

My granddaughter Daria is playing Amazing Grace:



Sunday, June 09, 2013

Goya's Ghosts

(click here for the Romanian version)

I wouldn't consider Goya's Ghosts as targeting exclusively the Spanish master and his universe of thoughts and dreads.There is also an underground level, emerging as the story is unraveling: about the very dreads haunting the film director, Miloš Forman. Goya's Ghosts are also Forman's Monsters.

It's a tough movie. Sure, an opportunity to admire some extraordinary paintings, and in all a movie of exquisite beauty, while extremely tough, and very sad.

A movie that can be understood in several ways. The story starts in 1792, it's Spain, the Inquisition has absolute power.  And the story goes on till it jumps over 16 years, in the period of Napoleonic occupation., that ends when British troupes come, fraternizing with the population and driving the French away. Inquisition regains absolute power.

The master is played by Stellan Skarsgård (I saw him playing also in Exorcist: The Beginning, as well as in some of von Trier movies). As the film starts, Goya is a man in full maturity, at the best of his creative forces. After 16 years he is old and weakened. After a whole life lived under the constraints of a society dominated by Inquisition, he finds himself under the constraints of Napoleonic occupation. Some of the new guys in charge are the same from the old regime, they only changed their ideological color.

A girl (Natalie Portman) is put in jail by the Inquisition and tortured to recognize a nonexistent crime. She remains jailed for sixteen years,  till the French occupy Spain and free all Inquisition prisoners. She is now old and insane. Immediately she goes home, to find all her family killed in the chaos brought by the French occupation. But I won't tell you the whole movie, it deserves to be watched.

Javier Bardem (I had known him from Mar Adentro and Carne Trémula - I saw him meanwhile in many other movies) makes a great role: an inquisitor seemingly understanding any pleas and trying to be of help in all this madness, while remaining a villain. A guy changing sides and coming again with the French Army as the new man in charge. Remaining the same villain. Till the end, when even he cannot endure his own villainy any more.

Many associated the movie with the war in Iraq and with Guantanamo. It could be  a level in understanding  Goya's Ghosts. Only the thing is that Forman wrote the screenplay before the Iraq War. Sometimes life is inspired by art, isn't it?

There is also another level in understanding Goya's Ghosts, and I think this level constituted the main interest for Miloš Forman. It's about the attitude an artist takes under an oppressive regime, the role he plays in the society, his responsibility.

Forman said once that the idea of making this movie came to him long time before, while visiting Madrid. At Prado he saw Goya's works: the paintings with personages from the royal court were hanged on one wall, and his Disasters of War were on the opposite wall. That raised a question to him: when was the artist true to himself?

I would say that in all his portraits of various aristocrats there is a subtle sarcastic dimension - it is always there something that thickens and exaggerates, telling us that the artist mocks his personages; only it is a well hidden mockery.

It's what the movie is just showing: the attitude of Goya  towards the people in power (be them aristocrats or inquisitors, or French occupiers) always was slightly ambiguous, slightly on the edge - he knew how much to push without crossing the line, being careful to cultivate powerful relations just in case.

His lithographs with The Disasters of War were sold in samizdat - they became official only after his death.

And this is, I think, the hidden meaning of this movie: through the story of Goya, there are the artists of Forman's time that are targeted: the artists from his native Czech Republic, living under Communist rule that followed in turn the Nazi occupation - all those people who knew how much to push without crossing the line, always aware of possible informers among them, trying to remain true to themselves while making minor or bigger compromises, mastering the art of survival.




Thursday, June 06, 2013

Fantomele lui Goya

(click here for the English version)

Goya's Ghosts este un film nu numai despre marele pictor, despre gandurile si nelinistile lui, dar si, intr-un plan ce iese la iveala pe masura ce actiunea isi urmeaza cursul, despre gandurile si nelinistile regizorului, Miloš Forman. Nalucile lui Goya, dar si Monstrii lui Forman.

E un film foarte dur. Sigur ca e un prilej de a vedea cateva picturi extraordinare, dar e extrem de dur.

Poate fi receptat pe mai multe planuri. Actiunea incepe in Spania anului 1792, Inchizitia are putere absoluta, actiunea sare pe la jumatatea filmului peste un interval de 16 ani, in timpul ocupatiei napoleoniene, terminata prin intrarea trupelor engleze cu care populatia spaniola fraternizeaza. Englezii ii alunga pe francezi si Inchizitia redevine stapana.

In rolul lui Goya joaca Stellan Skarsgård - l-ati vazut in Exorcist: The Beginning si in cateva filme de von Trier. La inceputul filmului Goya este un barbat in plina putere, dupa 16 ani este de acum batran si imputinat de forte. O viata intreaga a trait sub constrangerile unei societati dominate de Inchizitie, la batranete se vede nevoit sa tina seama de constrangerile regimului napoleonian.

O fata (Natalie Portman) este arestata de Inchizitie si torturata ca sa recunoasca o crima inexistenta (a fost surprinsa refuzand o portie de carne de porc, deci exista suspiciunea ca a trecut in secret la iudaism), fata marturiseste sub tortura orice si ramane inchisa pana cand francezii ocupa Spania si desfiinteaza Inchizitia. Iese batrana, urata, nebuna, se duce direct acasa, unde toti cei din familia ei au fost omorati - ocupatia franceza a adus haos. Nu vreau sa va povestesc tot filmul, dar ati prins ideea.

Un rol extraordinar joaca Javier Bardem (il vazusem in Mar Adentro si Carne Trémula, l-am mai vazut intre timp in multe alte filme) - un inchizitor (schimband la un moment dat tabara si devenind procuror militar sau asa ceva  odata cu venirea frncezilor) care aparent intelege totul si incearca sa ajute in toata nebunia asta, ramanand insa toata vremea un ticalos.

Multi au facut asociatia cu razboiul din Irak si cu inchisoarea de la Guantanamo. Ar fi un plan de receptare a filmului. Forman a spus insa ca scenariul a fost scris inainte de Irak. I s-a raspuns ca viata copiaza filmul.

Exista insa un alt plan al filmului - si cred ca pe Forman planul asta al doilea l-a interesat. Este atitudinea artistului aflat sub vremuri, rolul lui, responsabilitatea lui.

Ideea filmului i-a venit lui Forman de mult - a vizitat Madridul, la Prado pe un perete erau tablourile de curte ale lui Goya, pe celalalt, Dezastrele razboiului.

Si Forman s-a intrebat, cu ce inima a putut sa picteze artistul asta atat de lucid personajele de la curte? Sau, altfel spus, cand a fost artistul cinstit cu el insusi?

Imi permit sa adaug: mi s-a parut ca in toate portretele lui de curte (cateva le-am vazut la Washington), exista un sarcasm subtil - exista un ceva care ingroasa, care exagereaza, ceva care ne spune ca artistul isi bate joc, insa pe ascuns.

Iar din film reiese ca relatiile lui cu puternicii zilei, fie de la curte sau din Inchizitie, fie cu ocupantii francezi, relatiile astea Goya le-a avut intotdeauna usor ambigue, usor pe muchie de cutit - a stiut sa intinda coarda putin, a avut grija intotdeauna sa aiba pe cineva pe care sa se bazeze ca sa poata intinde coarda putin mai mult cu altii.

Litografiile lui cu Dezastrele raboiului se vindeau in samizdat - au aparut oficial dupa moartea lui.

Revolta in genunchi. Si am inteles ca Forman ii vede prin Goya pe artistii din vremea lui, din Cehoslovacia in care a trait pana la emigrarea in America, Cehoslovacia lui, aflata in regim comunist dupa ce fusese sub ocupatie nazista - se gandeste poate nu numai la artisti, la atati si atati oameni care au intins coarda atat cat au simtit ca se poate, care s-au revoltat in genunchi, care faceau bancuri pe sest, care stiau de cine sa se fereasca, toti cei care au trait incercand sa ramana cinstiti dar trebuind sa faca si compromisuri mai mari sau mai mici.



The last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns.

(Old Masters)


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Balthus, The Living Room

He has been, in the words of Albert Camus, a patient and clairvoyant swimmer, . . .[toiling] up strange rivers toward forgotten sources.

In some of his works, the erotic dimension is implicit. In some others (like this one), Balthus pushes the thing up to the border, still not crossing it - while the suggestion is obvious. It's like telling us, this is just a table, if you think otherwise you are the pervert.



Balthus, Solitaire

Balthus, Solitaire
oil on canvas, 1943
The Art Institute of Chicago
no copyright infringement intended

Solitaire was painted in Switzerland, where the artist returned during World War II. It reveals the influence of such Old Masters as Piero della Francesca and Paolo Uccello in its monumentality as well as its awkwardness, both of which Balthus used to underscore the irrational and disconcerting nature of unconscious human behavior.

Those stripes! And the way they terminate at the rail is sublime, almost minimal.



The Face of Balthus

the face of Balthus
photo taken in 1996 at his home in Switzerland
during the shooting of Balthus de l'autre côté du miroir
author: Damian Pettigrew
no copyright infringement intended

One could say only this: that Balthus was his own guy.

(Contemporary Art)


Monday, June 03, 2013

Afiş+ works by Ioan Cuciurca

no copyright infringement intended

The works of Ioan Cuciurca (Afiş+ at Simeza Gallery in Bucharest) call in mind the Constructivists, or maybe rather the ABECEDA of Devětsil: like the Prague artists of the 1920's, Cuciurca thinks that when the world is upside down and nobody can differentiate truth from lie anymore, it is time to redesign the basics, starting with the alphabet. And actually looking at his works, and thinking again at the Devětsil group of eighty years ago, I realize that those guys were forerunners of today's Postmodernism. Cuciurca is a Postmodernist, and his works break the space in non-contiguous slices: giving up the claim to define the general space, and instead finding the truth in slices of life. Think at the movies of Wong Kar-Wai and Chris Doyle - like there the language of the artist is very sophisticated, and of exquisite beauty. There is also another thing: Ioan Cuciurca is a Romanian artist loving the history and the culture of his country, and this exhibition is also a Postmodern proof of love for the Romanian ethos, a lesson on the values of these places. You find here in glimpses of life the universe of Aman and Brancusi, of Marthe Bibesco and Szathmari, of Marcel Janco, of churches and palaces from these places, and, above all, Bucharest, the city of eternal changes, toward the better and the worse.

(Ioan Cuciurca)


Saturday, June 01, 2013

Ioan Cuciurca: Expozitia Afiş+ la Simeza

no copyright infringement intended

La Galeria Simeza din Bucureşti s-a deschis expoziţia Afiş+ a lui Ioan Cuciurcă. Artistul introduce un limbaj sofisticat, în care detaliile reies din conţinutul, aşezarea şi volumul informaţiei.

(Ioan Cuciurca)