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Friday, August 30, 2013

Gabriele d'Annunzio

I found in the NY Times section of Books a review of a new biography of the prolific and charismatic writer, considered by many the greatest Italian poet since Dante. The author of the biography is Lucy Hughes-Hallett, a British cultural historian, who argues that d'Annunzio both exemplified and promoted the most extreme strain of turn-of-the-century Italian nationalism, and his poems, plays, novels and journalism conveyed a disgust and boredom with the contemporary world and a longing for a more heroic era — one in which supermen like himself, unbound by tradition, could bring art and beauty to a world desperately in need of them. You can read the NY Times review at:

(Una Vita Tra I Libri)


Maria Candelaria

Movies are like books. They live their lives, with dreams and expectations, waiting for that moment giving them their full sense. And I think this is true for any work of art, literature or music, visual or performing art. Sometimes such a life is flowing along your own life, even if you are not aware. It sends you signals now and then, waiting patiently for the moment when you make the connection: the moment for which it has lived its whole life. Aisareru isshun ga watashi no subete ni naru - the moment you feel you are loved is a kernel squeezing your entire life.

I was a child when I heard first time about Maria Candelaria. I knew vaguely that it was a movie with a beautiful woman and a dramatic story of love, as Mexican movies always were. I cannot remember, maybe I have read a few lines about it in some cinema magazine, or maybe I saw once the movie poster, anyway I didn't have the chance to watch it. The name remained in my memory, sometimes coming at the surface and raising my curiosity: Maria Candelaria!

Years were passing, nobody mentioned this movie anymore, as new films were coming and old movies were forgotten, I was no more a child, then I realized that I was getting old, the name was coming to me very rarely, like in a brief dream: Maria Candelaria!

I didn't know who had starred in the movie. I thought that Pedro Armendáriz should have been the male lead, like in so many other Mexican movies of that epoch. What about the woman? Was she Maria Félix?

It took many decades till I started to look for information. No, it was not Maria Félix. The heroine of the movie was another great Mexican actress, Dolores del Rio.

And then I found the movie on youTube. Was it, for Maria Candelaria, that moment? Aisareru isshun ga watashi no subete ni naru?

A movie so far in time and space, isn't it too outdated? Or simply irrelevant? Xochimilco, the place where the story unfolds, is now an international tourist attraction, with its trajineras flowing over the myriad of canals, along the chinampas. What was in 1909 a harsh environment inhabited by primitive fold is now a space boasting its rich folklore. Still, there are people living there like in 1909, overwhelmed by poverty and by lack of any comfort. Living on those charming chinampas, surrounded by canals, lacking the running water and the drainage. Maybe they are no more hating the women whose mothers happened to have been prostitutes, but, look: all over the world, people still hate those who happen to be different. Difference of skin color, origin, religion, sexual orientation, and so many others.

Xochimilco today
trajineras over canals, along chinampas
source: Jflo23
no copyright infringement intended

Coming back to this movie made in 1943 and telling a story from 1909, I think the plot is consistent, the action is well led toward its outcome, but there is another merit that I consider more important: the film director (Emilio Fernández) knew how to look beyond the harshness and injustices of that life, beyond the casual villainy of those primitive people: he knew how to discover the profound poetry of that universe, with nature and humans sharing the same identity, molded by legends and traditions, by the good and the bad.

(Iberic and Iberic-American Cinema)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Eliseo Meifrén y Roig, more paintings

Al estudiar la vida y la obra de Eliseo Meifrén y Roig y pretender sintetizar la misma en unas breves notas, nos damos cuenta de la evidencia: de la complejidad de la misma, de su carácter, de la evolución de su pintura, de sus viajes y estancias, de sus amistades y su familia (http://eliseomeifren.blogspot.com/).

[By studying the life and work of Eliseo Meifrén y Roig and pretending to synthesize it in a few notes, we realize the obvious: the complexity of it, of his character, of the evolution of his art, of his travels and stays, of friends and family.]

(Eliseo Meifrén y Roig)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eliseo Meifrén y Roig, Plaza de Paris, 1887

Eliseo Meifrén y Roig, Plaza de Paris
oil on canvas, 1887
Museo Nacional del Prado
(posted on Facebook by Belle Époque Europe)
no copyright infringement intended

Le magnifique rendu de l'eau dans la carafe, du vin dans les verres et le verre lui-même! (Lucie Astorgue)

The marble-top table! The rolled newspaper on the table! You don't see those around any more! (Gev Sweeney)

On s'y croirait! Superbe! (Marion Evans)

The place is a café in Place de Clichy. It can be identified by the base of the column that appears in the background, part of the monument to Maréchal de Moncey, Amédée Doublemard sculptor. The composition shows a modern perspective: layout and cut angled pedestal in the foreground, Degas mode, as if the artist introduced the viewer into the scene. That aspect of the frame casual appearance is also visible in the cut off near the bottom edge of the canvas the newspaper and the foot of one of the glasses of liquor. However, the banks break with this idea and, along with the roof, framing a neat view of the city in the calm of a spring noon. The compact definition of planes and volumes, highlighted by a light crisp outlining the contours of the objects, is typical of the early days of painter's activity, which solves the glass shines with a touch dense, distant yet to his own impressionist touch maturity. As for the woman sitting on the bank, she is somewhat reminiscent of the artist's wife, María Dolores Pajarín y Valls (http://www.museodelprado.es/coleccion/galeria-on-line/galeria-on-line/obra/plaza-de-paris/)

(Eliseo Meifrén y Roig)


Eliseo Meifrén y Roig

Eliseo Meifrén y Roig (1857-1940)
Buenos Aires, 1900
source: David Di Stefano Pironti
no copyright infringement intended

Born in Barcelona, his passion for painting made him give up a medical career. He studied painting at the Escuela de la Llotja in Barcelona, went then to Paris to complete his formation, and had also an artistic stage in Italy.

Known as a painter of seascapes and landscapes, made with loose brushwork and gentle tones. His disposition led him to travel halfway around the world, exhibiting his work in many cities in Europe and America also place it in the fashion of their time to see exotic places. He was in this sense a cosmopolitan artist and adventurer while anchored to certain nineteenth-century tastes (http://www.paintingall.com/Spanish-Impressionist-Artist-Eliseu-Meifren-i-Roig-Oil-Paintings/) .

(The Moderns)


Friday, August 23, 2013

Hipsters in Somerville

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter. The greatest concentrations of hipsters can be found living in the Williamsburg, Wicker Park, and Mission District neighborhoods of major cosmopolitan centers such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco respectively (Urban Dictionary).

Well, not only there. Somerville, MA is also such a hipsters' paradise. Read this article in Boston Globe:

Did you like it? I am eager to visit the place again, sometime next year, and to put here some images and videos. For now, something more about these guys:

Although hipsterism is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions, tight-fitting jeans, old-school sneakers, and sometimes thick rimmed glasses. Both hipster men and women sport similar androgynous hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs. Such styles are often associated with the work of creative stylists at urban salons, and are usually too edgy for the culturally-sheltered mainstream consumer. The effortless cool urban bohemian look of a hipster is exemplified in Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ads which cater towards the hipster demographic. Despite misconceptions based on their aesthetic tastes, hipsters tend to be well educated and often have liberal arts degrees, or degrees in maths and sciences, which also require certain creative analytical thinking abilities. Consequently many hipsters tend to have jobs in the music, art, and fashion industries. It is a myth that most hipsters are unemployed and live off of their parent's trust funds. Hipsters shun mainstream societal conventions that apply to dating preferences and traditional rules of physical attraction. It is part of the hipster central dogma not to be influenced by mainstream advertising and media, which tends to only promote ethnocentric ideals of beauty. The concepts of androgyny and feminism have influenced hipster culture, where hipster men are often as thin as the women they date. The muscular and athletic all-American male ideal is not seen as attractive by confident and culturally-empowered hipster women who instead view them as symbols of male oppression, sexism, and misogyny (Urban Dictionary).

(New England)


Monday, August 19, 2013

Hillary in 1969

(posted on Facebook by Campbells Loft)
from nytimes
no copyright infringement intended

(Zoon Politikon)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sara Antonelli - Dai Sixties a Bush Jr.: La Cultura USA Contemporanea

Dai Sixties a Bush Jr.: La Cultura USA Contemporanea (From the Sixties to Bush Jr.: the Contemporary USA Culture), a book that I've read in Romanian translation. I found it absolutely by chance at the mall, in a pile of used books, completely unrelated each other in content or style or category of targeted readers or anything else, while sharing the same sizes (100 - 150 pages) and price (a couple of bucks). The author, Sara Antonelli, is teaching Anglo-American literature at Università degli Studi Roma Tre and is in charge with the cultural programs at the American Studies Center in Rome.

A book about the evolution of American society starting with the 1960's and going toward present, and in parallel the evolution of American culture: fifty years of dramatic changes that completely reshaped everything there. All this presented in a very condensed form while nothing is left aside, and you need guts to read the book, as paragraph after paragraph is filled with consistent information. The way the changes in society and culture are paralleled and put in sync is remarkable, perhaps the main merit of this book. Virulent social disproof mirrored in counter-culture. I was particularly impressed by the way Post-Modern Art and Post-Industrial Society were traced together in the book: a civilization of sophisticated highways linking failed cities, a network of global knowledge versus lost local businesses and opportunities. I would add that the network is no magic, thus another dichotomy: failed cities - affluent suburbs.

Well, to talk consistently in only about 140 pages about Kerouac and Beat Generation, New Frontier, Great Society and Vietnam, New Left, and The Feminine Mystique, off-off-Broadway and Woodstock, Black Power and Black Panther Party, Watergate, Reaganomics, Minimalism and Pop Art, Information Superhighway and much other stuff, that's challenging for the reader, while rewarding if you keep the pace. Rewarding, because it gives you the big picture knowing how to fill it with all needed details. And I did my best to keep the pace.

(Una Vita Tra I Libri)


Friday, August 16, 2013

Rezervaţia Morilor de Apă de la Rudăria

Moară pe râul Rudăria
imagine: Zamolx
no copyright infringement intended

În judeţul Caraş-Severin, undeva între Anina şi Bozovici.

Rezervaţia Morilor de Apă de la Rudăria
(video by Cristian Franţ)

Dacă v-a plăcut, încă o surpriză:

Drumul până in satul Putna - Valea Almajului
(video by Valea Almajului)

Iar dacă vreţi să ştiţi şi mai multe:


Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Visit to Mount Vernon

(posted on Facebook by Virginia is for Lovers)
no copyright infringement intended

If you look at the picture, there is the manor, okay , there is also a small roofed deck on the border of Potomac. That is the place where boats come and go.

I was there once. There was a small boat that was leaving Alexandria each morning very early and was coming back in the afternoon. So I woke up very, very early that day and I went to Alexandria to take the boat. As soon as the boat departed a formidable rain started, but that was okay, the deck of the boat had a roof all over it, so being on the Potomac under heavy rain was actually delicious. The captain was an old guy with white beard and had a bag full of jokes. As we were passing near all sort of beautiful manors, he had a funny story for each one. For me, they all called in mind a beautiful movie, Wedding Crashers. Arrived at Mt. Vernon I visited all the things there, including of course the manor. I had a huge umbrella, so the rain couldn't do me any harm. I went then to a restaurant there and I had a fish soup I think and a glass of wine (that was red, I remember the color of any glass of wine that I sipped throughout my life). A young lady was sitting near me at the bar and I asked her about the teeth of George Washington, as I knew a story about them. Then I took the boat and went back to Alexandria. These were fine times!

(Washington, District of Columbia)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why We Cannot Use Phones On Planes

published on Facebook by Cabin Crew Club : สมาคมลูกเรือไทย
credit: CollegeHumor


Monday, August 12, 2013

Paulo Lins

Paulo Lins
no copyright infringement intended

A arte é livre, e temos que encarar a leitura como o cinema, a televisão, o circo.
(Art is free, and we have to face reading as cinema, television, the circus)

Paulo Lins wrote Cidade de Deus (City of God), based on which Meirelles made his movie. I watched the movie some years ago, I will talk here about it: it's more than a masterpiece, it's essential. I haven't yet read the book, and today I found a Romanian translation. I ordered the book immediately and it will come to me tomorrow. I didn't have the same luck with his newest book, Desde que o Samba é Samba (Ever Since Samba Has Been Samba): a novel that's more Brazilian than Rio’s Corcovado itself! Wow! It's not yet translated from Portuguese, so I'll have to wait. So it goes.

(Una Vida Entre Libros)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Zakariyyā Tāmir: Two Prisoners

Zakariyyā Tāmir
(The Levant Notebook)
no copyright infringement intended

Browsing again Tablet and Pen, the anthology of Mid-East contemporary literature edited by Reza Aslan, again opening pages at random, coming this time upon Zakariyyā Tāmir, a Syrian master of the short-story. Looking at his photo, it reminds me of an old time friend, a classmate from high school. I haven't seen him for ages. So it goes. Here is Tāmir's Two Prisoners, rendered into English by Roger Allen.

Two old men were walking along a city pavement at a deliberate pace and talking morosely:
- This is the end of time.
- Things are going from bad to worse.
- It's time to write a petition.
- Which  petition?
- The one we must forward to God Almighty.
- What will we write in the petition?
- We'll write as follows, We the undersigned request of the Lord of Creation that he send us an army of angels well trained and equipped with the most up-to-date weapons to take up positions on the frontiers and fight the enemy and not treat us as prisoners.
- And what will we do in the event that the petition is not put into effect?
- Forward yet another petition asking God to agree to our being excused to five daily prayers.
- And if He doesn't agree?
- Oh. He will and He'll let us off the fast too. He is pitying and merciful.

Let's try a Romanian translation:
Doi bătrâni plimbându-se pe stradă şi vorbindu-şi unul altuia:
- E sfârşitul lumii!
- Ha? Ah, da, merge din rău în mai rău!
- Păi e vremea să facem o petiţie!
- Ha? Ce petiţie?
- Una pe care să o adresăm lui Dumnezeu Atotputernicul: Vă solicităm prin prezenta să trimiteţi de urgenţă o oştire de ingeri bine antrenaţi şi echipaţi cu armamentul cel mai modern, care să facă ordine pe aici fără să ne trateze şi pe noi ca elemente combatante ostile.
- Ha? Şi ce-o să facem daca nu se intâmplă nimic?
_ Păi atunci îi trimitem o alta petiţie solicitând să fim scutiţi de obligativitatea celor cinci tugăciuni zilnice.
- Ha? Şi crezi ca o sa fie de acord cu asta?
- Absolut, şi o să ne scutească şi de obligativitatea postului, pentru că El este Atotmilostiv si Atoateîntelegator.

(Reza Aslan)


Părintele Galeriu

Au trecut zece ani dela trecerea sa la cele veşnice. Dumnezeu să îl odihnească şi să îl aibă in Sfânta Sa Pază!

Cu ani in urmă, Părintele Demeter m-a rugat să îi fac rost de o carte a Părintelui Galeriu, Jertfă şi Răscumpărare. M-am dus la Biserica Sf. Silvestru în prima duminică, nu mai fusesem acolo de vreo patruzeci de ani, odată în copilărie participasem acolo la o cununie.

M-am dus la uşa laterală a altarului şi am asteptat. Părintele Galeriu a venit la mine. I-am spus rugămintea mea, cu oarecare teamă: Părintele Galeriu era ortodox, pe când Părintele Demeter era catolic. Însă amândoi fuseseră victime ale represiunii comuniste.

Auzind rugămintea mea, Părintele Galeriu a zâmbit cu bucurie, ca un copil, Părintele Demeter este din Moldova, ca şi mine. Mi-a adus cartea, a scris o dedicaţie Frăţiei Sale, apoi m-a imbrăţişat si m-a sărutat pe amândoi obrajii.

(Icon and Orthodoxy)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Forough Farrokhzād: The Window

no copyright infringement intended

If you come to my home,
Bring me a light
And a nook
From which I may watch the crowding of the glad lane.

(Forough Farrokhzād, The Gift, the blog of Cizdabedar)

There are two opposite universes in the poetry of Forough Farrokhzād, I think, and each one plays ambiguously, as the relationship of the poet with each of the two worlds is ambiguous. The inner space, offering intimacy and imposing limitations. The outer space, desired while challenging. And the feeling that a light and a nook would suffice, to stay inside while dreaming the big adventure of open roads.

I found in the anthology of Mid-East contemporary literature (Tablet and Pen, edited by Reza Aslan) another poem of Forough Farrokhzād: The Window, again in the rendering of Sholeh Wolpé. I would offer you here another English rendering, of Leila Farjami. A window at the border between the two universes, a window would suffice, to remain inside and to look through it, resembling a well's ring reaching the earth at the finiteness of its heart.

One window is sufficient
One window for beholding
One window for hearing
One window
resembling a well's ring
reaching the earth at the finiteness of its heart
and opening towards the expanse of this repetitive blue kindness
one window filing the small hands of loneliness
with nocturnal benevolence
of the fragrance of wondrous stars
and thereof,
one can summon the sun
to the alienation of geraniums.

One window will suffice me.

I come from the homeland of dolls
from beneath the shades of paper-trees
in the garden of a picture book
from the dry seasons of impotent experiences in friendship and love
in the soil-covered alleys of innocence
from the years of growing pale alphabet letters
behind the desks of the tuberculous school
from the minute that children could write stone
on the blackboard
and the frenzied starlings would fly away
from the ancient tree.

I come from the midst of carnivorous plant roots
and my brain is still overflowed
by a butterfly's terrifying shriek
crucified with pins
onto a notebook.

When my trust was suspended from the fragile thread of justice
and in the whole city
they were chopping up my heart's lanterns
when they would blindfold me
with the dark handkerchief of Law
and from my anxios temples of desire
fountains of blood would squirt out
when my life had become nothing
but the tic-tac of a clock,
I discovered
I must
must love,

One window will suffice me
one window to the moment of awareness
and silence.
the walnut sapling
has grown so tall that it can interpret the wall
by its youthful leaves.

Ask the mirror
the redeemer's name.
Isn't the shivering earth beneath your feet lonelier than you?
the prophets brought the mission of destruction to our century
aren't these consecutive explosions
and poisonous clouds
the reverberation of the sacred verses?
when your reach the moon
write the history of flower massacres.

Dreams always plunge down from their naive height
and die.
I smell the four-petal clover
which has grown on the tomb of archaic meanings.

Wasn't the woman
buried in the shroud of anticipation and innocence,
my youth?

Will I step up the stairs of curiosity
to greet the good God who strolls on the rooftop?

I feel that time has passed
I feel that moment is my share of history's pages
I feel that desk is a feigned distance
between my tresses
and the hands of this sad stranger.

Talk to me
What else would the one offering the kindness of a live flesh want from
but the understanding of the sensation of existence.

Talk to me
I am in the window's refuge
I have a relationship with the Sun.

(Forough Farrokhzād)

(Reza Aslan)

Labels: ,

O frază admirabilă (spusă de Dan Caragea)

Dan Caragea
no copyright infringement intended

Dacă fiecare din noi am păstra în suflet măcar câte un cuvânt ce se stinge, sunt încredinţat că am putea deveni o naţiune cu adevărat bogată.

(A Life in Books)


Thursday, August 08, 2013

Forough Farrokhzād: Sin

no copyright infringement intended

I bought a couple of days ago an anthology of Middle East contemporary literature (Tablet and Pen), edited by Reza Aslan, and as I was going back home I started browsing it, opening the pages more or less at random. The first author that I saw there was Forough Farrokhzād. It was a superb surprise for me, I love her poetry. She was present in the anthology with a few poems, and the first one was Sin, in a rapturous English rendering done by Sholeh Wolpé. I found then this rendering also on the web, together with two other versions: another English translation done by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, and a French one (part of a blog named Carnets de Poésie de Guess Who). I would like to give you here the whole poem, stanza by stanza, each one in all three renderings:

I have sinned a rapturous sin
In a warm, enflamed embrace,
Sinned in a pair of vindictive arms,
arms violent and ablaze.
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
I sinned, a sin all filled with pleasure
wrapped in an embraced, warm and fiery
I sinned in a pair of arms
that were vibrant, virile, violent.
J'ai pêché, pêché dans le plaisir,
dans des bras chauds et enflammés,
j'ai pêché dans des bras de fer,
brûlants et rancuniers.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

In that quiet vacant dark
I looked into his mystic eyes,
found such longing that my heart
fluttered impatient in my breast.
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
In that dim and quiet place of seclusion
I looked into his eyes brimming with mystery
my heart throbbed in my chest all too excited
by the desire glowing in his eyes.
Dans ce lieu solitaire, sombre et muet,
ses yeux remplis de mystère j'ai regardé,
mon coeur dans ma poitrine, impatiemment a tremblé,
des supplications de désirs de ses yeux.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

In that quiet vacant dark
I sat beside him punch-drunk,
his lips released desire on mine,
grief unclenched my crazy heart.
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
In that dim and quiet place of seclusion
as I sat next to him all scattered inside
his lips poured lust on my lips
and I left behind the sorrows of my heart.
Dans ce lieu solitaire, sombre et muet,
je me suis assise près de lui, agitée,
sa lèvre, l'envie, sur mes lèvres a versée,
de la tristesse de mon coeur fou, je me suis libérée.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

I poured in his ears lyrics of love
"O my life, my lover it's you I want
Life-giving arms, it's you I crave,
Crazed lover, for you I thirst."
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
I whispered in his ear these words of love:
“I want you, mate of my soul
I want you, life-giving embrace
I want you, lover gone mad”
A l'oreille, l'histoire d'amour, je lui ai racontée,
je te veux mon amant,
je te veux, toi dont les bras sont vivifiants,
je te veux, toi mon amoureux fou.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

Lust enflamed his eyes,
Red wine trembled in the cup,
My body, naked and drunk,
quivered softly on his breast.
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
Desire surged in his eyes
red wine swirled in the cup
my body surfed all over his
in the softness of the downy bed.
Le désir alluma le feu dans son regard,
le vin rouge dansa dans le verre,
mon corps sur le lit doux,
librement trembla sur sa poitrine.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

I have sinned a rapturous sin
beside a body quivering and spent.
I do not know what I did O God,
In that quiet vacant dark.
(Sholeh Wolpé version)
I sinned, a sin all filled with pleasure
next to a body now limp and languid
I know not what I did, God
in that dim and quiet place of seclusion.
J'ai pêché dans le plaisir,
près d'un corps tremblant et évanoui,
Dieu! Je ne sais ce que j'ai fait,
dans ce lieu solitaire, sombre et muet.
(version from Carnets de Poésie)

I tried also to get a Romanian crib, here it is:

Am păcătuit, şi păcatul mi-a fost dulce desfătare
Într-o imbrăţişare care mă dogorea,
Într-o pereche de braţe care se răzbunau,
Arzând in flăcări sălbatice.

În întunericul acela ascuns şi tăcut
Am privit in ochii lui tainici
Şi am văzut atâta dorinţă
Încât inima imi tremura de nerăbdare.

În întunericul acela ascuns şi tăcut
Eram alături de el ca trăsnită,
Buzele lui işi slobozeau in mine dorinţa,
Mâhnirile dispăreau din inima-mi nebună.

Şi-am turnat in urechile lui cuvinte de dragoste
"Viaţa mea, iubitul meu, pe tine te vreau
Îmbrăţisarea ta, pe ea o aştept fara astâmpăr,
Iubire nebună, de tine sunt insetată."

Patima i-a aprins ochii,
Vinul roşu dănţuia in pahar,
Trupul meu, despuiat şi beat,
Peste pieptul lui fremăta.

Am păcătuit, şi păcatul mi-a fost dulce desfătare,
Alături de un trup fremătând şi terminat,
Nici nu ştiu ce-am făcut, Doamne,
În întunericul acela ascuns şi tăcut.

(Forough Farrokhzād)

(Reza Aslan)

Labels: ,

Neruda, Pájaro

El Pájaro Contemplativo
no copyright infringement intended

Deborah has brought this poem by Neruda on our forum of Words and Palabras. It was her birthday and this was her gift for us. Gracias Deb, y Feliz Cumpleaños!

Caía de un pájaro a otro
todo lo que el día trae,
iba de flauta en flauta el día,
iba vestido de verdura
con vuelos que abrían un túnel,
y por allí pasaba el viento
por donde las aves abrían
el aire compacto y azul:
por allí entraba la noche.

Cuando volví de tantos viajes
me quedé suspendido y verde
entre el sol y la geografía:
vi còmo trabajan las alas,
còmo se transmite el perfume
por un telégrafo emplumado
y desde arriba vi el camino,
los manantiales, las tejas,
los pescadores a pescar,
los pantalones de la espuma,
todo desde mi cielo verde.
No tenía más alfabeto
que el viaje de las golondrinas,
el agua pura y pequeñita
del pequeño pájero ardiendo
que baila saliendo del polen

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

(Pablo Neruda)


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Manet: In the Conservatory

Manet: In the Conservatory
(Dans la Serre)
oil on canvas, 1879
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin
no copyright infringement intended

The two personages were friends of Manet, and the setting, a greenhouse at 70 Rue d'Amsterdam in Paris, was used by the artist as a studio for nine months, in 1878 - 1879. The painting had some dramatic moments in its history: looted by Nazis it was recovered in 1945 in a salt mine, among other artworks.

Is this a too conventional painting, with the master making concessions to public taste? Some jumped to this conclusion, while others noticed something beyond the obvious: a sense of dislocation between subjects and background, two completely different worlds sharing nothing but vicinity. Said Huysmans, (they are) marvelously detached from the envelope of green surrounding them. And going further, a sense of detachment between the two subjects, maybe replicating the detachment between them and the background.

The interplay of lines formally defines the work. The woman has an erect posture echoed by the vertical slats of the bench, and the man, though leaning forward, does not break that vertical. The bench continues off the right side, reinforcing the horizontal and the separation of foreground and background. The diagonal pleats on the woman's dress provide some relief from the linearity of the composition (wiki).

And a quick note for non-English speakers: the word conservatory carries two different meanings - musical college, and greenhouse.



Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reza Aslan: Tablet and Pen

This is an anthology of Arabic / Turkish / Iranian / Pakistani contemporary literature, edited by Reza Aslan. The authors selected here are grouped in three periods:

  • 1910 - 1950, when the boundaries of modern Middle East have been carved, and the literature became a tool for shaping national identities
  • 1950 - 1980, when modernity entered in conflicting ways in the Middle East society, with the literature reflecting all these evolutions and contradictions
  • 1980 - 1910, when all these countries have been propelled onto global stage with all their old and new conflicts, and the literature across the whole region started to share the same preoccupations and obsessions
There are more than sixty authors in this collection: novelists and short-story writers, essayists and memoirists, poets - some of them have been translated into English for the first time here. Literature, considers Reza Aslan, humanizes the other, making them sympathetic as you come to know their all-too-recognizable lives.

(Reza Aslan)


Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan
رضا اصلان
no copyright infringement intended

For all accounts, Reza Aslan is clearly passionate about religious matters. At fifteen he converted to Evangelical Christianity, several years later he returned to Islam, and  realized that he should target his focus on the contemporary Muslim universe, to understand its roots and its reasons, its challenges and its future, more than that, to understand its history in relation to its present. That's not easy task and no wonder his opinions are often polemic and controversial. I would like to read his most recent book (Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth): I think it is not about the historical Jesus - I think it tries to analyze the beginnings of Christianity having in mind the contemporary picture of Middle East and looking for parallels, building this way a perspective on the present from the past. I'm telling all this because a colleague on a web forum refuted recently the book, as an attempt to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus (my colleague being very much against it).  It's not about the historicity of Jesus, I think, rather on trying a bridge between the present Mid East and the beginnings of a religion that started there some two thousand years ago. But, I must say, the colleague has read the book, I haven't yet, and I want to see if my perception is correct.

Thus I started looking for the book. I haven't found it yet here in Bucharest; instead I found an English Bookstore (Anthony Frost) where they had another book by him: an anthology of contemporary Arabic / Turkish / Persian / Pakistani literature having Reza Aslan as editor. I bought it immediately and I had the splendid surprise to find in it some poems by Forough Farrokhzād. I will come back to them, now let me say that this anthology seems to give me reason: Reza Aslan is focused on contemporary Muslim universe. I will order the other books of him through this bookstore (there is also another book: No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam - the title itself is self-explanatory and strengthens my opinion about Aslan).

Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, focusing in the history of religion, from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, a Research Associate at the University of Southern California (wiki).

(A Life in Books)

(Iranian Film and Poetry)


Monday, August 05, 2013

Forough Farrokhzād

Forough Farrokhzād (1935 - 1967)
فروغ فرخزاد
no copyright infringement intended

One of the most influential poets in contemporary Iranian culture.

(Iranian Film and Poetry)

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Photography of Paul Cézanne, c. 1861
no copyright infringement intended

Cézanne made the bridge between two universes: the 19th  and 20th centuries. He departed from Impressionism and foresaw Cubism. The father of us all, would both Matisse and Picasso say (wiki).

(The Moderns)


A Portrait of Monet by Renoir

(The Moderns)


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Sunday, August 04, 2013

Van Gogh: Auvers Town Hall in 14 July 1890

Vincent Van Gogh:
Auvers Town Hall in 14 July 1890
oil on canvas
private collection
no copyright infringement intended

(Van Gogh)


Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
Self-Portrait with Straw Hat
(Autoportrait au chapeau de paille)
oil on canvas, Paris, 1877/1878
Metropolitan Museum of Art
no copyright infringement intended

(The Moderns)