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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Yasujirō Shimazu: Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke(1935)

Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke (1935)
still from the movie
no copyright infringement intended

The above image brings in mind immediately Magritte, and his Lovers. Love in paradox, with the purity of a kōan. Road towards essence requests giving up the obvious and looking beyond. Like the painting of Magritte, this movie is purely symbolic.

I was looking on the Internet to find more movies by Shimazu, after discovering, in Our Neighbor Miss Yae, his unpaired perfection in framing each scene. The first I came upon was this film from 1935, Shunkinsho: Okoto to Sasuke. To my surprise it was not a shōshimingeki story - a tale of the urban lower middle class in the 1930's Tokyo - as I would have expected. It was a period film, with the action taking place in Osaka in 1883, the fifteenth year of Meiji era. A blind girl of porcelain beauty, Okoto, a boy, Sasuke, serving her with total commitment.

Two worlds in parallel: their lack of mutual comprehension is total. The world of the mundane: flesh and blood governed by desire, joy and anger, generosity and villainy. The world of the essence, of the conceptual: you enter there by renouncing at all that kept you linked to the mundane, even your senses.

Everything in this movie is remarkable. Beside the gorgeous images, the splendid minimalism, the total restraint in the play of the actors impersonating Okoto and Sasuke (the two characters sublimated into the conceptual world), the tension in which the action is evolving, giving you the insupportable feel of inexorability, all this making an astonishing modern artwork. Difficult to watch, as end comes near. Like old age, it's not for sissies.

(Yasujirō Shimazu)

(René Magritte)

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Juan del Encina, ¡Cucú, Cucú!

reloj aleman antiguo cucú
no copyright infringement intended

¡Cucú, Cucú!
Guarda no lo seas tú.

Compadre debes saber,
que la más buena mujer,
rabia siempre por hoder,
harta bien la tuya tú.

Compadre has de guardar,
para nunca encornudar,
si tu mujer sale a mear,
sal junto con ella tú.

(para los que no saben español, pero comprenden un poco portugués):

Cucu, cucu!
Tem cuidado para que não aconteça contigo.

Companheiro, deves saber,
que até a mais bondosa mulher,
está sempre louca por foder,
portanto satisfaz bem a tua.

Companheiro, tens de ter cuidado,
para nunca seres encornado,
se a tua mulher sai para mijar,
sai com ela também tu.

(para los que no saben español, y portugués tampoco, pero comprenden un poquito inglés):

Coo-coo, coo-coo!
Make sure it's not you.

Mate you must know,
that the best of women,
is always crazy to screw,
tire out yours well.

Mate you must take care,
to never be cuckolded,
if your wife goes out to pee,
go out with her.

(Juan del Encina)


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Juan del Encina, Caldero y llave, madona

caldero de cobre antiguo con asa
(cosas del abuelo)
no copyright infringement intended

Este video es para quien sepa apreciarlo

(Juan del Encina)


Juan del Encina

Juan del Encina
(Periódico del siglo XVI)
no copyright infringement intended

Juan de Fermoselle (más conocido como Juan del Encina, en la grafía actual de su nombre, o Juan del Enzina, en su propia grafía) fue un poeta, músico y autor teatral del Prerenacimiento español. Perteneció a la primera epoca de la escuela polifónica castellana, y como dramaturgo está considerado iniciador y patriarca del teatro español (wiki).

(Una Vida Entre Libros)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Para Lo Cual y Para El Cual

descubrimiento del mundo
no existe infracción de derechos de autor previsto

Queremos hacer un pastel de lo chocolate, para lo cual necesitaremos chocolate, harina y huevos (https://es.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110817025827AANPahj).

Juan es un hombre para el cual no existe el peligro (https://es.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110817025827AANPahj).

Ya conocemos los trucos con que los politicos hacen su propaganda para lo qual no merece la pena de matar el tiempo con ellos (José Cosgaya, 30 Stunden Spanisch für Anfänger).

La amiga de mi hermano para la cual he comprado un reloj viene mañana (http://www.123teachme.com/translated_sentences/sp/cual).

¿Cuando se utiliza "para lo cual" y cuando "para el cual"?

Bien, aquí van:

(La Española - or Hispaniola)

Por y Para (Aprender Español a Través Inglés)

¡Seremos amigas por siempre y para siempre!
(Imagenes con Frases para amigas inseparables)
no existe infracción de derechos de autor previsto

"Por" y "para" tienen una variedad de significados, y que a menudo se confunden, porque cada uno puede traducirse en Inglés como "for".

Por ejemplo:

Gracias por la información.
Thanks for the information.


Este regalo es para Juan.
This gift is for Juan.

Para aprender a usar "por" y "para" correctamente, tiene que hacer dos cosas:

  • Aprende las reglas de cómo se utilizan por y para
  • Memorice frases modelo

Bien, aquí van:

(La Española - or Hispaniola)

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Strugatsky Brothers: Hard to Be a God

Many times a sci-fi story suggests features and trends of the epoch contemporary with the authors, and it does it with much more clarity than books of any other genre. Hard to Be a God (Трудно быть богом) apparently speaks about a planet far away and from a very distant future, while actually it is a coded description of things that happen hic et nunc. And it remains in 2015 as actual as it was in 1964, when it was published.

A group of scientists is sent from Earth to an alien planet inhabited by humans living still in medieval times. The task of the envoys is to observe the way aliens evolve (and to report), to try to assist them (in evolving this way and not that way) ... you got the picture. The course of events force the envoys to intervene brutally sometimes, though theoretically this is to be avoided. As it always happen, any intervention produces the worse. What should God do in turn? Maybe the Supreme Being would respect their liberty and let them on their own. Only it is very hard to be God and behave godly, firstly because you are not God (though sometimes you think you are), and despite the huge civilizational difference, Earth humans and alien humans share the same instincts, the same misunderstanding of the otherness, and the same appetite to be in total control (plus, perversely, the same appetite for living in a tightly controlled world).

Two movies have been made based on the novel. The first one, made in 1989, was an international project. The Strugatskys did not agree with the way the director (Peter Fleischmann) was conceiving the movie and stopped any collaboration with him. A second movie was made in 2013, an entirely Russian production this time, directed by Aleksey German. The 1989 movie unfolds on a planet of desert landscapes and caverns. Is it an alien world still in the dawn of history, or is it rather about us, as our atomic present cannot have another outcome? In the 2013 film the landscape is more familiar, as both us and the aliens probably live on the same planet: the elephant is in the room.

(Arkady and Boris Strugatsky)

(Russian and Soviet Cinema)

(German and Nordic Cinema)


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Yasujirō Shimazu: Our Neighbor, Miss Yae (1934)

Our Neighbor, Miss Yae (1934)
movie poster
no copyright infringement intended

... a portrayal of everyday people in which a girl falls in love with the boy next door ... an unexpected complication arises when her married sister returns home and also sets her eyes on the neighbor; bittersweet, charming and rather lovely ... (Trolley Freak)

... a great example of "the poetry of everyday life" and a presentation of the moments in life that seem to be mundane, but affect us heavily ... (InsertOzuReferencehere)

... poetic, beautiful, ethereal like an countryside aquarelle ... (namnhan2003)

... nostalgic, beautiful, cute ... (筐桜)

It seemed at the beginning a bit boring, or a bit dry, but after five minutes I started to enjoy it enormously, to be totally interested and totally amused by what was going there. A movie made in 1934, taking place in a suburb of Tokyo, and I felt connected to them, to the youngsters and to their parents, falling in love together with them, smoking and drinking together with the young ones, just to make impression, like them, and getting after that a headache, like them again, doing smalltalk and getting drunk with sake, together with the grown ups, observing each bit of distance between them and us, in time and in space, accepting these distances and going on with my enjoyment among them, immersed in their mundane world of small miracles. Making fun of them while betting on what'll follow in the next scene, keeping fingers crossed. It's the Japan of the thirties, with all its problems (German influence, Korea, and so on - all this comes casually now and then in the movie - together with their passion for baseball), all this, while youngsters are the same everywhere and in any epoch, grown ups the same. Any distance, any difference between then and now, between here and there, between us and them, all this doesn't matter any more, because their universe is surreal and ethereal, and it's for all seasons. It's a flurry of fresh air this movie. Why the end is inconclusive? Or better said, why this movie doesn't have a proper end, an outcome so to speak? I think it's better this way, because we know that life will solve anyway all their problems of love and jealousy, we have just met them in the movie, these young guys, and will keep in touch.

And speaking now strictly about the cinematic qualities? At least this one: what a great framing for each image!If not for other obvious qualities (lively plot, and so on), I would love to watch this movie anytime I need to rest my soul and my taste with perfect image framing. It cannot be more, it's the absolute. I have to watch one more movie by Shimazu, as soon as it gets.

(Yasujirō Shimazu)


Yasujirō Shimazu

Yasujirō Shimazu
島津 保次郎
1897 - 1945
no copyright infringement intended

one of the creators of the Japanese shōshimingeki genre - tales of the urban lower middle class, mixing tears and laughter (Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society); directed more than 80 movies between 1921 and 1944; came into his own especially in the sound era; died prematurely of lung cancer just after the end of WWII.
(info source: wiki, Routledge, Imperial)

(Japanese Cinema)


Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
self-portrait from 1906
(source: http://www.museumsyndicate.com/item.php?item=9438)
no copyright infringement intended

(The Moderns)


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Austen, Chekhov, Ozu, Hopper, Chardin

Chardin, The Silver Beaker
oil on canvas, c. 1750
Musée du Louvre
(source: wikiart)
no copyright infringement intended

An English novelist from the Regency times, a Russian playwright and short-stories author living at the end of the 19th century, a Japanese director of the 1930s/40s/50s, and an American painter contemporary with the Japanese. Do they have something in common? Is it for them a proximate genus? Then what are their specific differences? The universe they are dealing with in their works is up to a point similar: a thin section sliced with peculiar attention in the medium to lower level of gentility or bourgeoisie/intelligentsia, mixed with all kind of picturesque guys, like perpetual students aspiring sometimes to the status of small clerics or clergymen (it depends on the epoch), plus one or more wise and rather skeptical doctors or professors, or other enigmatic individuals (sometimes on the brink of failure). And this universe is explored with great empathy and nobility, and with tireless dedication. Their approach is not demiurgical, like at so many other creators; they let their personages to play by themselves, the situations to evolve freely; and they, the creators, are just there, on the side, enjoying the uniqueness of some moments, all other times just admiring the holiness of the mundane, and meditating maybe, at the ways life goes on.

And maybe the French rococo painter is not too far (if not for the universe, at least for the approach).

(Jane Austen)


(Yasujiro Ozu and Setsuko Hara)



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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale
(The Interrupters)
no copyright infringement intended

Before writing professionally, she wrote while pursuing acting in television, stage, and improvisational comedy, as well as studying in Mexico and UK. She spent a year and a half as an unpaid missionary in Paraguay, then returned to US to earn her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Utah and a master's in creative writing from the University of Montana (wiki). And she has a fabulous blog (squeetus). I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles (Shannon Hale).

(A Life in Books)


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Jane Austen

lost in Austenland
no copyright infringement intended

Indeed, what modern painter could do justice to a portrait of Jane Austen? What did Jane Austen really look like?

Would I recognize Miss Austen if we were to meet in a crowd today? I would like to think so.

(A Life in Books)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

Arkady (1925–1991) and Boris (1933–2012) Strugatsky were the most acclaimed and beloved science fiction writers of the Soviet era. The brothers were born and raised in Leningrad, the sons of a critic and a teacher. When the city was besieged by the Germans during World War II, Arkady and their father, Natan, were evacuated to the countryside. Boris remained in Leningrad with their mother throughout the war. Arkady was drafted into the Soviet army and studied at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages, graduating in 1949 as an interpreter from English and Japanese. He served as an interpreter in the Far East before returning to Moscow in 1955. Boris studied astronomy at Leningrad State University, and worked as an astronomer and computer engineer. In the mid-1950s, the brothers began to write fiction, and soon published their first jointly written novel, From Beyond (Извне). They would go on to write twenty-five novels together, including Roadside Picnic (Пикник на обочине), which was the basis for Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker; Snail on the Slope (Улитка на склоне);Hard to Be a God (Трудно быть богом); Monday Begins on Saturday (Понедельник начинается в субботу); and Definitely Maybe (За миллиард лет до конца света), as well as numerous short stories, essays, plays, and film scripts. Their books have been translated into multiple languages and published in twenty-seven countries. After Arkady’s death in 1991, Boris continued writing, publishing two books under the name S. Vititsky. Boris died on November 19, 2012, at the age of seventy-nine. The asteroid 3054 Strugatskia, discovered in 1977, is named after the brothers.

(Жизнь в Kнигах)


Friday, May 08, 2015

Samuel Purchas and Richard Hakluyt

Title page of Samuel Purchas's magnum opus
Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes
London, 1625
source: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
no copyright infringement intended

Samuel Purchas (1577?-1626 - not to be confounded with his homonym contemporary who authored A Theatre of Political Flying-Insects) published several volumes of reports by travelers to foreign countries. He was for many years the vicar of St. Laurence and All Saints, in Eastwood, Essex. The place was by then a prosperous shipping center and a congregational place of seafaring men, and Purchas recorded personal narratives shared with him by the sailors, who returned to England from their voyages. He added these accounts to a vast compilation of unsorted manuscripts, which were left to him by Richard Hakluyt (an English writer who promoted through his works the settlement of North America).

In 1613 he published Purchas His Pilgrimage: or Relations of the World and the Religions observed in all Ages and Places discovered, from the Creation unto this Present. In this work, intended as an overview of the diversity of God's creation from an Anglican world-view, he presented several abbreviated travel stories he would later publish in full. In 1619 he published Purchas his Pilgrim or Microcosmus, or the Historie of Man. Relating the Wonders of his Generation, Vanities in his Degeneration, Necessities of his Regenerations (quite a long title, isn't it?). This was followed in 1625 by his opera magna, Hakluytus Posthumus (or Purchas his Pilgrimes), a massive four-volume collection of travel stories continuing the Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation of Hakluyt.

(info source: wiki, britannica, jstor, bartleby)

You should be maybe curious about my interest for all this, but I can promise you that you'll understand it soon.

(A Life in Books)

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
portrait by Pieter Van Dyke
oil on canvas, 1795
(London National Portrait Gallery, Room 18)
no copyright infringement intended

A great English poet, also a literary critic and philosopher. A major figure among the so-called Lake Poets, he is considered one of the founding fathers of the Romantic Age in English literature, together with his friend Wordsworth. The moment of birth of the new age is considered the year 1798, when the two published jointly the Lyrical Ballads. Coleridge's critical work, especially on Shakespeare, was highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, etc) to English-speaking culture.
(source: Coleridge)

(Pieter Van Dyke)

(A Life in Books)

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

Robert Southey

Robert Southey
portrait by Pieter Van Dyke
oil on canvas, 1795
(London National Portrait Gallery, Room 18)
no copyright infringement intended

Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called Lake Poets (a group of English poets named so by the Edinburgh Review only to be uniformly disparaged; actually each of them was quite different of the others), also a prolific letter writer, literary scholar, essay writer, historian and biographer. His biographies include John Bunyan, John Wesley, William Cowper, Oliver Cromwell and Horatio Nelson. He was also a renowned scholar of Portuguese and Spanish literature and history, translating a number of works from those two languages into English.Originally a radical supporter of the Great French Revolution he became in time a staunch conservatory (few are those who age gracefully).
(source: Robert Southey, comments: mine)

(Pieter Van Dyke)

(A Life in Books)

Labels: ,

A Portrait of John Milton by Peter Van Dyke

John Milton
line engraving by C. Widder
after Pieter Van Dyke
(London National Portrait Gallery)
no copyright infringement intended

(John Milton)

(Pieter Van Dyke)

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Pieter Van Dyke, Young Girl With Her Silk Embroidery, 1782

Young Girl With Her Silk Embroidery
by Pieter Van Dyke, 1782
oil on canvas
(the landmark collection of Betty Ring)
no copyright infringement intended

(Pieter Van Dyke)


Pieter Van Dyke

(oil painting lessons)
no copyright infringement intended

Pieter (or Peter) Van Dyke (1729-1799) was born in The Netherlands and moved to England at the invitation of Sir Joshua Reynolds, to assist in painting draperies. He exhibited at the Incorporated Society of Artists in 1762 and 1764, and at the Free Society of Artists in 1767. There are two portraits painted by Van Dyke (along with a line engraving by C. Widder made after the original of Van Dyke) at the London National Portrait Gallery (in Room 18, to be very exact).

(Old Masters)

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Wednesday, May 06, 2015


(Six actualités)
no copyright infringement intended

Se născuse în 1918. Şi până în 1950 viaţa ei îşi urmase cursul, fusese dactilografă, apoi lucrase într-o fabrică, se măritase în 1948, acum ţinea împreună cu bărbatul ei o cârciumă în Monmartre. În fiecare seară soseau la restaurant un acordeonist şi un pianist să întreţină clienţii. Îmi amintesc de o cârciumă, nu din Monmartre, ci dintr-o piaţă de la margine de Bucureşti. La mese băutori cu feţele îmbujorate şi cu un oarece licăr în priviri, printre ei se mişcau un acordeonist şi un scripcar, se opreau la fiecare masă şi începeau prin a accentua puţin sunetul instrumentelor, în acelaşi timp făcând cu ochiul.

Cârciuma nu avea mulţi clienţi (ca şi cea din piaţă de la mine), erau destule prin Paris, dar nici pericol nu era să dea faliment.

Totul până într-o seară, când a ieşit de după tejghea, era obosită de servit şi şi-a luat un răgaz, s-a aşezat pe un scaun şi a început să cânte, acompaniindu-i pe cei doi muzicanţi. Şi cântecele au venit dela sine, unul după altul, despre îndrăgostiţi care nu au unde să facă dragoste şi se sărută pe vreo bancă în parc, despre oameni căsătoriţi de mulţi ani, despre o flaşnetă care îi ţine loc de pian vreunui sărman, despre atâtea altele. Un client a rugat-o să cânte singură, fără acompaniament. I-a răspuns că nu studiase muzică. Clientul a stăruit, iar ea a cântat un cântec la modă atunci, despre Sena, la început şovăind, apoi intrând în rol, ca şi când ar fi fost la ea acasă în baie.

Clientul a sfătuit-o să cânte în fiecare seară în cârciumă, ea l-a ascultat, mai mult într-o doară, dar cârciuma s-a umput de clienţi. În curând au început să vină acolo Brel, şi Brassens, şi Aznavour, ba chiar şi Piaf. A ajuns curând cunoscută în tot Parisul, o şansonetistă care rivaliza cu Édith Piaf. Numele de scenă a venit şi el repede, Patachou, o contracţie dela pâte à choux.

Şi a cântat, în cârciuma ei, şi pe săli mari de music-hall de pe malurile Senei, apoi şi din alte mari oraşe ale lumii, din Londra, din New York.

Édith Piaf îşi cânta în şansonetele ei durerea, Patachou urmărea cu veselie în şansonete viaţa de pe străzile pariziene.

A murit acum câteva zile. Avea 96 de ani.

Iată câteva melodii de-ale ei. Le-am ascultat cu emoţie, pentru că am redescoperit o generaţie un pic înaintea mea, cei pe care eu i-am apucat de acum trecuţi de prima tinereţe, dar care îşi trăisera şi ei epoca lor de bucurie, de dragoste, de ironii, felul lor de a se îmbrăca elegant. Şi am simţit nevoia să mă transpun în anii lor, în anii 45-55, să visez ca ei, printre ei, să iubesc ca ei, printre ei, să am gusturile lor şi valorile lor, să fiu fericit amestecat printre ei. Şi desigur la Paris, cu cerul lui mai întotdeauna cenuşiu, şi cu multe defecte, dar cu un ceva pe care numai acolo îl respiri şi simţi că nimic nu este imposibil şi că viaţa merită trăită.

Un Gamin de Paris
(video by Nuagedetendresse 2)

(video by VeryMiscVideos)

Les Amoureux des Bancs Publics
(video by yavaslub)

Le Bricoleur
(video by Nami Moukheiber)

Le Piano du Pauvre
(video by Kurt Boehme)

(Les Troubadours du Temps Jadis)

La Seine (1948)

Riza Propst-Kreid, Pont sur la Seine

La Seine est aventureuse
De Châtillon à Méry,
Et son humeur voyageuse
Flâne à travers le pays ...
Elle se fait langoureuse
De Juvisy à Choisy
Pour aborder, l'âme heureuse,
L'amoureux qu'elle a choisi !

Elle roucoule, coule, coule
Dès qu'elle entre dans Paris !
Elle s'enroule, roule, roule
Autour de ses quais fleuris !
Elle chante, chante, chante, chante,
Chant' le jour et la nuit,
Car la Seine est une amante
Et son amant c'est Paris !

Elle traîne d'île en île,
Caressant le Vieux Paris,
Elle ouvre ses bras dociles
Au sourire du roi Henri...
Indifférente aux édiles
De la mairie de Paris,
Elle court vers les idylles
Des amants des Tuileries !

Elle roucoule, coule, coule
Du Pont-Neuf jusqu'à Passy !
Elle est soûle, soûle, soûle
Au souvenir de Bercy !
Elle chante, chante, chante, chante,
Chant' le jour et la nuit...
Si sa marche est zigzagante
C'est qu'elle est grise à Paris !

Mais la Seine est paresseuse,
En passant près de Neuilly,
Ah ! comme elles est malheureuse
De quitter son bel ami !
Dans un étreinte amoureuse
Elle enlace encore Paris,
Pour lui laisser, généreuse,
Une boucle ... à Saint-Denis !

Elle roucoule, coule, coule
Sa complainte dans la nuit...
Elle roule, roule, roule
Vers la mer où tout finit...
Elle chante, chante, chante, chante,
Chant' l'amour de Paris !
Car la Seine est une amante
Et Paris dort dans son lit !

La Seine (1948) - Jacqueline François
paroles: Flavien Monod et Guy Lafarge / musique: Guy Lafarge
(video by chansonranc)

(Les Troubadours du Temps Jadis)


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Alberto Manguel, The Immutable Act

on the shore
no copyright infringement intended

E-books, virtual libraries, i-pads allow us to read in ways we never read before: we can now carry whole libraries in our pocket and, from our own bedroom, we can access volumes ensconced in the remotest libraries. And yet, sophisticated readers complain that the new gadgets don’t have the sensual qualities of the printed book, the erotic touch, the comforting smell; that they lack the hierarchical distinctions that used to exist between paperbacks and hardbacks; that they have none of the aristocratic features of leather-bindings and marbled end-paper pages.

So begins the Alberto Manguel's essay about various ways of reading. You'd say a very elegant rendition of the argument between old and young people, or better said very old and very young.Well, old and young (or very old and very young) are misnomers: Felicia Antip was in her eighties and every morning she was opening her PC to read the news. Her husband, the General Constantin Antip, was all for the printed stuff. The same reasons: everything in your pocket, versus the touch, the smell. She was a distinguished journalist, and a woman of great convictions. He was a honored military historian. I had the privilege to enjoy their friendship, and I must say that in addition to their superb intellect they also were very kind people.

And Alberto Manguel goes on, No doubt similar complaints were heard from Sumerian tablet-readers with the arrival of the scroll, and from Roman scroll-readers with the arrival of the codex. The socialist Georges Orwell was appalled by the invention of the Penguin tascabile (paperback, for those more used with English wording than with Italian). “In my capacity as writer I pronounce them anathema,” he said in 1935.

What is then better, to read printed books or to use smart devices? Or, as the title of this essay seems to suggest, is reading on paper support an immutable act, impossible to demolish regardless of any advantage brought by the electronic universe?

Well, the title is beguiling, because the essay of Alberto Manguel makes the demonstration of an immutable paradox: regardless the support we use, we actually never achieve to read a book properly. It's a superb demonstration, stuffed with famous examples from the whole history of literature (Borges giving lectures on Finnegans Wake without reading more than one or two episodes from it; Dante judging Homer without ever reading him; Shakespeare summarizing Iliad as the history about a cuckold and a whore; deceitful reading - we'll never dare to say we haven't read Hamlet, while we'll indulge ourselves in recognizing that Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus is maybe not on our night table; the books we assume or reject without reading them, based on our political allegiances, like Salman Rushdie or Günter Grass; and so on and so forth; Sydney Smith couldn't miss from the list - he never started to read a book without firstly reviewing it - otherwise it would have been too frustrating, he used to say).

But you should read this essay by yourself, it's a little gem of irony and sophistication:

And if you continue to ask yourselves which way is better, paper or smart devices, here is the opinion of Robert Louis Stevenson (More New Arabian Nights: The Dynamiter):

But that is the bitterness of arts:
you see a good effect
and some nonsense about sense
continually intervenes.

(Alberto Manguel)


Monday, May 04, 2015

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith (1771-1845)
source: William E Burton, Cyclopedia of Wit and Humor 1858
no copyright infringement intended

He is a very clever fellow, but he will never be a bishop (George III)

A more profligate parson I never met (George IV)

I sat next to Sydney Smith, who was delightful--I don't remember a more agreeable party (Benjamin Disraeli)

He drew such a ludicrous caricature…that Sir James Mackintosh rolled on the floor in fits of laughter (Lord John Russel)

Sydney at breakfast made me actually cry with laughing. I was obliged to start up from the table (Thomas Moore)

The only wit on record, whom brilliant social success had done nothing to spoil or harden (Henry Fothergill Chorley)

One of the funniest writers in the English language (Alberto Manguel)

Anglican clergyman, great wit and writer. Unanimously admired for his brilliant smartness (however too smart to advance very far within the social hierarchy, as King George III famously said). I have just ordered on the web a selection from his works, in a volume edited by W.H.Auden. It should come to me sometime in June. Till then I'll try to read a book by Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey), where one of the personages was seemingly inspired after Smith. I will come back to that.

(A Life in Books)


Manguel on Borges

Masks of all times and nations, Turks and Jews,
And harlequins and clowns, with feats gymnastical,
Greeks, Romans, Yankee-doodles, and Hindoos...
(Byron: Beppo, A Venetian Story)
(clothes in books)
no copyright infringement intended

For Manguel, Borges was a fumbling dream-lover, who always had Beppo as companion at home: his large Angoran cat named after Byron's narrative poem (seemingly the most famous poem in that part of the world, at least according to Alan Pauls).


(Alberto Manguel)

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Alberto Manguel

Alberto Manguel
(au coeur des livres)
no copyright infringement intended

Argentine-born Canadian anthologist, translator, essayist, novelist and editor; for over twenty years he has edited a number of literary anthologies on a variety of themes or genres ranging from erotica and gay stories to fantastic literature and mysteries (wiki); son oeuvre s’impose comme un monument du XXe siècle, de par la richesse de son contenu que par son sujet si bien abordé (au coeur des livres); escribe generalmente en inglés, aunque a veces lo hace también en español (wiki); at sixteen years of age, while working at the Pygmalion Anglo-German bookshop in Buenos Aires, he was asked by the blind Jorge Luis Borges to read aloud to him at his home; for the young boy the relationship was pivotal: he read to Borges from 1964 to 1968 (Alberto Manguel - Homepage); in 2000, moved to Poitou-Charentes, where he and his partner have purchased and renovated a medieval presbytery; among the renovations is an oak-paneled library to house his nearly 40,000 books (wiki); ohne Schriftsteller gäbe es keine Literatur, ohne Leser keine Literaturgeschichte (Alberto Manguel: Der König der Leser); am cumpărat ieri la Librăria Engleză din Bucureşti o carte absolut impunătoare: The Dictionary of Imaginary Places; promit să revin (blogger împătimt după cărţi impunătoare).

(Una Vida Entre Libros)


Warm Welcome in NH

photo: Cheryl Senter/AP
(source: WaPo)
no copyright infringement intended

Manchester, NH: Sen. Bernie Sanders on Saturday gave a version of the same speech about the nation’s struggling middle class and greedy billionaires that he has delivered for the past 30 years; but two days into his long-shot bid for the presidency, the oft-repeated words amounted to something new; namely a barometer of frustration on the liberal left that could begin to reshape the Democratic primary (more in Aaron C. Davis' article in Washington Post: Sanders draws warm welcome in New Hampshire).

(Zoon Politikon)


Ready for Bernie?

Bernie announces his campaign
(source: Alex Wong / Getty Images)
no copyright infringement intended

This synthesis is prepared by Dylan Matthews from Vox and comes with a hardcore title, whatever it intends to convey: The socialist with the most-cialist

Guess who's running for president? Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the only democratic socialist in the Senate [NYT / Alan Rappeport]

Bernie's running as a Democrat; he's spent his whole time in the US House and Senate as an independent caucusing with Democrats and previously was part of two small left-wing Vermont parties, the Progressive Party and the Liberty Union Party [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

Here's a primer on Bernie's positions on the issues. Basically, he's a hardcore labor lefty on economics (pro-single payer health care, anti-free trade, etc.) who's skeptical of foreign intervention and a fierce critic of money in politics [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

For my money, Sanders' most interesting idea is his proposal to buy up pharmaceutical patents (allowing generic manufacturers to make drugs more cheaply) and instead incentivize research through government-issued prize money [The Guardian / Dean Baker]

Sanders' statement announcing the campaign focused in particular on income inequality and Citizens United and called for an infrastructure program creating 13 million jobs, as well as for free tuition at public colleges and universities [Irregular Times]

The infrastructure idea was articulated in Sanders' bill, the Rebuild America Act, which would spent $1 trillion over five years [Washington Post / Ashley Halsey III]

Vox's Andrew Prokop has the definitive history of Sanders' career, going back to his time as the radical mayor of Burlington who took on its Democratic establishment [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

Nineteen of Sanders' top 20 campaign contributors to date are unions; frontrunner Hillary Clinton, by contrast, counted Citigroup and Goldman Sachs as her top two contributors [Vox / Dylan Matthews]

Clinton acknowledged Sanders' entry in a tweet: I agree with Bernie. Focus must be on helping America's middle class. GOP would hold them back. I welcome him to the race [Vox / Jonathan Allen]

(Zoon Politikon)