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Monday, June 29, 2015

Andrew Marvell

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
sketch by Ruralhistorian, 2012
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended


poet and politician, a lifelong friend of John Milton (after the Restoration he helped convince the government of Charles II not to execute Milton for his revolutionary writings and activity - info source: wiki), also author of anonymous prose satires defending the Puritans and criticizing monarchy and Catholicism; as a poet was associated together with John Donne and others within the Metaphysical movement of the seventeenth century; well, these poets were far from being aware about their affiliation to any group; it was the history of English literature that put the authors and their works in carefully arranged categories; on the other hand, as it grouped (very loosely) together Donne and Marvell (along with others, as I said), maybe it's good to refer briefly to this so-called Metaphysical poetry (term coined about hundred years later by Samuel Johnson with some slang connotation, by the way): characteristic was the presence of speculation on love and religion throughout their œuvre, and their way of pushing the conceit (i.e. extended metaphor) toward the paradox; according to Helen Louise Gardner, a (Metaphysical) conceit is a comparison whose ingenuity is more striking than its justness, and also a comparison becomes a conceit when we are made to concede likeness while being strongly conscious of unlikeness (source: Helen Gardner, The Metaphysical Poets, Penguin, 1967); to grasp all this stuff I need to bring here such a poem, by Donne, or Marvell, or some other Metaphysician (or maybe Metaphysicist), whichever comes first, and especially to bring it before too long, hopefully :)




(A Life in Books)

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Robert Herrick, The Coming of Good Luck

(source: sweettenorbull)
no copyright infringement intended


So good luck came, and on my roof did light,
Like noiseless snow, or as the dew of night :
Not all at once, but gently, as the trees
Are by the sunbeams tickled by degrees.
(source: luminarium)

Intimate, discreet, gentle; always aside, if you want to see it, in your good and bad times, constant, as day follows night and night follows day; steadfast as winter snows, ineffable as night dew; sometimes you spend your whole life unaware of its grace; for the epiphany of your good luck shows herself only in subtle tones.

Scholium: ...no poet writing in English writes pageantry so in-close as does Robert Herrick; given substance, shape, and agency, Good-luck enters upon the advent of itself; not embodied by snow, but given over to a like behavior, a noiselessness; the dew adds to noiseless Space (the snowy rooftop) the quiet Time of night; given space and time, then, Good-luck is wholly born; snow and night and trees all blend into plural singularity, into the apotheosis of Good-luck...


(Robert Herrick)

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Herrick's Monometers: Upon His Departure Hence

(training in lyric poetry)
no copyright infringement intended

Meter in poetry is what brings the poem to life and is the internal beat or rhythm with which it is read.: so it is a rhythm of accented and unaccented syllables arranged into feet; the most common is one soft foot and one hard foot and is called an Iamb; there are several kinds of meter, but most poetry uses a five-beat meter, with Iambic feet, called iambic pentameter (source: What Is a Meter in Poetry?); well, Herrick remained known, among others, for the use of the monometer; here is his poem Upon His Departure Hence:

Thus I
Pass by,
And die :
As one
Unknown
And gone :
I'm made
A shade,
And laid
I' th' grave :
There have
My cave,
Where tell
I dwell.
Farewell.
(source: Luminarium)

Here is an Italian rendering (Alla sua dipartita):

Cosi io
Me ne vado
E muoio
Come uno
Sconosciuto
E partito:
Sono diventato
Un'ombra
E giaccio
Nella tomba:
Li ho
La mia dimora sotterranea
Laddove dicono
Che io abito,
Addio.
(source: Scuolabook)


A great comment at Caterpillar Diary.


(Robert Herrick)

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick
1591-1674
(source: Poetry Club)
no copyright infringement intended


almost forgotten in the eighteenth century, alternately applauded and condemned in the nineteenth century (applauded for his poetry’s lyricism and condemned for its “obscenities”), finally (in the latter half of the twentieth century) becoming recognized as one of the most accomplished nondramatic poets of his age (Poetry Foundation); strongly influenced by Ben Jonson (while living in an epoch which tastes were going rather to John Donne and the others ejusdem farinae - let's say a late Elizabethan in the times of Metaphysical poetry: some kind of Darwin's missing link), best known for his book of poems Hesperides (where you'll find the carpe diem poem To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time, with the first line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may") (wiki); Swinburne described him as "the greatest song writer ever born of English race" (Mohit K. Ray, The Atlantic companion to literature in English, New Delhi Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 2007 p. 245); I discovered him through John Carey.



(A Life in Books)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Francisco de Quevedo, Desde la Torre

(el portal de misterios)
no copyright infringement intended


Encontré este soneto de Quevedo inesperadamente, en una traducción al Rumano. Fue esta mañana, yo estaba tomando un café, mientras navega por un libro que acababa de comprar. La belleza de los versos me dejó sin palabras. Estaba leyendo las líneas una y otra vez, como si no podía creer que fuera cierto. He olvidado el café sin terminar, tomé el libro conmigo, fui a un pequeño jardín cercano, y la abrí de nuevo a la página con el soneto. Llamé a un amigo y le leí los versos.



În tihna de pustiuri prea întinse,
Retras cu docte cărţi, deşi puţine,
Vorbind cu morţii stau, iar ei cu mine,
Cu ochii ascult fiinţe de mult stinse

Deschise-ntruna, chiar de-s necuprinse
De mintea-mi, mă îndeamnă tot la bine,
Şi-n muzicale contrapuncte line
Visului vieţii îi vorbesc ne-nvinse.

Mari suflete, ce-ascunse sunt în moarte,
Le-a răzbunat pe-a anilor uitare
Litera tipărită, Don Joseph, în carte.

Se duce clipa-n zbor, neiertătoare,
Dar cel ce-nvăţătura-i ne-o împarte
Ştie mai bine timpul să-l măsoare.




Yo quería mal a encontrar el original español. Me tomó un tiempo (en realidad un largo tiempo), hasta que lo logré. Aquí está, amigos:



Retirado en la paz de estos desiertos,
con pocos, pero doctos libros juntos,
vivo en conversación con los difuntos
y escucho con mis ojos a los muertos.

Si no siempre entendidos, siempre abiertos,
o enmiendan, o fecundan mis asuntos;
y en músicos callados contrapuntos
al sueño de la vida hablan despiertos.

Las grandes almas que la muerte ausenta,
de injurias de los años, vengadora,
libra, ¡oh, gran don Iosef!, docta la emprenta.

En fuga irrevocable hoye la hora;
pero aquélla el mejor cálculo cuenta
que en la lección y estudios nos mejora.



(Quevedo)

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Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo
retratado después de ingresar en la Orden de Santiago en 1618
por Francisco Pacheco
en su Libro de descripción de verdaderos retratos, ilustres y memorables varones
source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_UIDI0KPMnS8/S-vEUt0GLQI/AAAAAAAAAXA/E5CXNCrO1ks/s1600/quevedo.jpg
(wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended


Junto con Góngora (su rival de toda la vida), Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) fue uno de los más destacados poetas españoles del Siglo de Oro. Su estilo se caracteriza por lo que se llamó conceptismo (en marcado contraste con el culteranismo de Góngora).




(Una Vida Entre Libros)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

John Carey

Professor John Carey
photo by Freddie Phillips, 2014
(source: wikimedia)
no copyright infringement intended


chief book reviewer for Sunday Times, literary critic, historian and editor, emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford, Donne and Milton scholar, considering George Elliot to be by a long stretch the most intelligent of all English novelists, with anti-elitist views on high culture and Modernist writers (like T.S.Eliot, Yeats, D.H.Lawrence, Wells, Virginia Woolf - so he's not afraid of her, to play a bit with words and paraphrase Albee); all these being said, reading him seems to be like journeying with a time machine throughout the various ages of British literature, and having a great companion alongside.

Something very personal: in my small own journey there in those lands, just begun and very timid, Helen Hanff was a road opener, giving me the taste to approach for instance Donne, Milton ... and above all Pepys.



(A Life in Books)

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sergio Pitol

Sergio Pitol Demeneghi
photo by Vasco Szinetar
(source: Granta)
no copyright infringement intended


Pitol es probablemente uno de los escritores más culturalmente complejas y compuestas de México. Él es sin duda el más extraño, más insondable y excéntrico. Su escritura - la forma en que construye frases, modula español, tuerce significados y hace hincapié en determinadas palabras - refleja la multiplicidad de lenguas que ha leído y abrazado -y tal vez, también, los muchos hombres que ha estado. Le lectura es como leer a través de las capas de muchos idiomas a la vez (Valeria Luiselli en Granta).


He visitado hoy la Librería Inglés en Bucarest y dos amigos (por quien tengo un gran aprecio) me habló muy admirativamente sobre Pitol y sus escritos. Dos de sus libros (Domar a la divina garza y El desfile del amor) fueron traducido al rumano (Îmblânzirea divinei egrete y Love Parade, Editura Art, 2007 y 2010). También el autor está incluido en una antología (Mil bosques en una bellota por Valerie Miles) que fue traducido al rumano y se acaba de imprimir por la prestigiosa Univers Editorial (O mie de păduri într-o ghindă). Volveré.


(Una Vida Entre Libros)

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Jhumpa Lahiri, In Altre Parole

In front of a fountain in Trastevere
(photo: Liana Miuccio in Vogue)
no copyright infringement intended


In 2012 Jhumpa Lahiri changed Brooklyn for Trastevere and English for Italian. She explained several times how it happened and why. Born in London to Indian parents, raised and educated in America, she felt the tension between two cultures and two languages, between the Indian and American values and traditions. Two radically different universes, each one claiming preponderance over her mind and soul. All her books describe in subtle nuances this tension. She felt the need to escape from this conflict, to get her liberty, to become free of the universes fighting each other inside her. She came to Italy, and started to speak only Italian, read only in Italian, write only in Italian, and felt liberated. A way to reinvent herself as a person and as a writer, and also to take a great risk, to use her own words. How well is she speaking Italian? Fluently, though with a too dense bibliophile touch, and with some accent difficult for Italians to guess the origin. It works, anyway.

In Altre Parole is her first book written in Italian, a collection of revealing autobiographical essays, mostly about her experience with Italian language and culture, a book that grew out of her diary entries (Rachel Donadio in NY Times).

Here are several links to find more about all this:



(Jhumpa Lahiri)

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

John Sloan, Dunes at Annisquam

John Sloan, Dunes at Annisquam
oil on canvas, 1914
Milwaukee Art Museum
Gift of Juel Stryker in Honor of Her Parents, Clinton E. and Sarah H. Stryker
(source: Facebook page of Bing McGilvray)
no copyright infringement intended

This post is dedicated to Bing McGilvray.

Annisquam is a small waterfront neighborhood of Gloucester, on Massachusetts North Shore and in the late 19th century it was home to an artist colony (wiki). Now, I don't know if the colony was still in place in 1914, when John Sloan came there to spend the summer. Anyway, he enjoyed the staying and came back in the following years. The paintings created there are far away from his well known style. I have a great admiration for his works depicting Manhattan, the inexhaustible energy they transmit to the viewer, and I must say I understood much of the essence of New York by looking at his paintings.

Well, at Annisquam, Sloan was totally different, painting plein-air landscapes with a fluid color, calling in mind rather Van Gogh and the Fauves (John Loughery: John Sloan, painter and rebel, ed. Henry Holt, NY, 1995, pp.202-205 - quoted by wiki) than his usual Ashcanian ways.

Dunes at Annisquam is such a colorful, luminous landscape, full of enthusiasm for life, for sun, for sea, for the wilderness of shore, for living in full air, in communion with all this, far from the challenges of the metropolis, like being your own man.


(New England)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Luchino Visconti

Count don Luchino Visconti di Modrone
1906-1976
(image source: Listal)
no copyright infringement intended




(Italian Movies)

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Sissi Trilogy

photograph of Empress Sissi
the day of her coronation as Queen of Hungary
Kaiserin Elisabeth von Österreich
im Krönungsgewand als Königin von Ungarn
Erzsébet királyné
June 8, 1867
photographer: Emil Rabending
scanned by Csanády
(source: wikipedia)
no copyright infringement intended




Romy Schneider in the three movies of Ernst Marishka dedicated to Empress Sissi. Let me put here what dbdumonteil said about Sissi's Trilogy; it's a perfect analysis:

...although nobody sings in these movies, they are closer to operetta than to cinema. Maudlin and syrupy to a fault, they nonetheless retain a kitsch charm. I must confess I love this exponential schmaltz. History is given a rough ride, this is an euphemism, although most of the events that are depicted here did happen: Sissi's brother did marry an actress, a misalliance, and the adorable little girl whom Sissi's mother pampers would later be Marie Larish who would play a despicable prominent part in the Mayerling tragedy. The Hungarian part would occur later in Sissi's life (her son Rudolf was present), and Andrassy's flame was purely fictional.
While watching such candid pictures, listening to lessons in wisdom and kindness, we almost forget that Sissi's fate was in fact a very dark one, and that her husband was still there when WW1 broke out. Agfacolor pictures are delightful and the ending is guaranteed to make the impressionable of two boxes of Kleenex.
Romy Schneider made a volte face after Sissi the third. She turned down a one million marks offer, and despite her mother Magda - who plays her fictional mother and who was the star of Max Ophüls' Liebelei, left for broader horizons: she was to meet Visconti and Welles at the beginning of the sixties. A far cry from Sissi. She played Sissi again in 1972 in Visconti's Ludwig and used to say that the Italian master was the only one who showed Elizabeth as she was.
But Sissi is a dear memory, particularly if you saw it when you were a child. You remember it like some kind of fairy tale in some faraway magic kingdom where every dream can come true. Or something like that
.








Sissi - Die junge Kaiserin, 1956
Sissi: The Young Empress
(video by blacky bunny)




Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin, 1957
Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress
(video by blacky bunny)





(Empress Sissi)

(German and Nordic Cinema)

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Empress Sissi

Empress Sissi (Elisabeth of Austria)
in courtly gala dress with diamond stars
portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
oil on canvas, 1886
Hofburg, Vienna
(source: Hofburg Palace)
no copyright infringement intended





(German and Nordic Literature)

(Franz Xaver Winterhalter)

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Corot



He is a pivotal figure in landscape painting and his vast output simultaneously references the Neo-Classical tradition and anticipates the plein-air innovations of Impressionism (wiki).




(The Moderns)

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Vsevolod Kochetov, The Zhurbins

Журбины (The Zhurbin Family), Romanian translation
Editura Cartea Rusă, 1953
no copyright infringement intended

Время когда ценился рабочий человек
(Татьяна Караваева)

A Soviet book from 1952, Журбины (The Zhurbin Family), written by Vsevolod Kochetov. A Romanian version came one year later (one of the translators was the poet Demostene Botez, whom I had the occasion to meet just in that epoch: a friend of a friend of my parents, who visited us once or twice; each time I had been very excited - not a small thing to see flesh and blood a known author).

I was around eight years old by then, and naturally it was not a book for kids my age. So I haven't read it. A movie based on the novel was produced by Lenfilm almost on the spot, Большая семья (A Big Family). That movie I watched some years later: my first encounter with director Iosif Kheifits and with one of the best known Russian actors, Aleksey Batalov. After some other years the two would again come together, that time with an unforgettable adaptation of Chekhov's Дама с собачкой. Anyway, if you'd like to watch Большая семья, here is a link on youTube:


Years have passed since then, tens of years ... it's almost impossible to explain, but I suddenly felt the impulse to read the book. I hardly found a torn copy of the Romanian edition from 1953, having on the title page a hand written inscription (dated March 8, 1954): a gift made to a woman by her work comrades - it was the Woman International Day, celebrated by then with a very special emphasis on politics and ideology.



And it happens that March 8 comes into the book, kind of unexpectedly, as everything looks in that day kind of unexpected (and pretty far from political blah-blah, which is remarkable in the context of a book smelling enough of that kind of things). Just a day with men trying to be nice and women enjoying their moment. No, it's not about men doing the house-wiving, not that far, but anyway, it is a day when at the town club only women have the floor (which is not small thing, being well known the rhetorical passion men can suddenly develop at meetings and similar events). A club like all town clubs from those years in that part of the world. The club of a small industrial city: an auditorium for festive days, place to keep conferences and lectures (and sometimes amateur theatricals or similar performances); then a hall guarded by a bust of Lenin or Stalin (or Gorky) - here the youngsters were coming to dance on Saturday evenings, the dance always preceded by a political lecture in the auditorium; a small library (on the shelves again Lenin and Stalin, the novels of Gorky and Sholokhov, Gladkov and Furmanov, not much else), a chess (and backgammon) room; an area reserved for art exhibitions (usually closed and dusty).



Журбины (The Zhurbin Family), English translation
Moscow Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1953
no copyright infringement intended


A small city whose life is revolving around a shipyard on the banks of Lada (I tried to find that river on the map: not easy job; there is a Lada river at the Russian-Latvian border, component of the greater basin of Narva; I'm not sure if that's the very Lada from the book). A family of industrial workers: a real dynasty of shipbuilders, from the great-grand father to the newborns. Stalin still alive (not for long, while the people in the book seem to take for granted some kind of eternity when it comes to the Generalissimo).

And here you go: nothing odd but Stalinism. You feel it in any word and any action, though the name is very casually mentioned once or twice. Casual Stalinism (giving today's readers the weird sensation of walking on an alien planet, where nothing strange happens while anything could happen). Casual while total. It's eternity. A family of industrial workers, amidst other families that way, taking the eternity for granted and living their life, with funny moments and dull moments, with happiness and dramas, small and big, with dreams and with problems. Just living, just eternity.

Kochetov was a staunched Stalinist till the end of his life in 1973. And he wrote his Zhurbins in a period when everything was going in full steam for the Soviet regime and its ideology, when Stalin was at the highest point of his power. For the Soviet art of those years, tightly controlled by the Party, it was the epoch of triumphalism. No wonder that the tone of the Zhurbins is full of confidence, and the ideological truth is taken for granted, doesn't need any proof: nobody questions eternity. It would be interesting to compare the Zhurbins with another novel, published by Kochetov in 1958 (The Yershov Brothers, Братья Ершовы). In the latter, the tone gets a touch of defensiveness, I'd say, the author somehow trying to make sure that his values are still alive and well, while you feel that beneath his universe have emerged some moving sands.

But let's come back to our Zhurbins. Here the author feels on solid ground, and his enthusiasm is without borders. He actually builds in his novel a mythology of the Soviet working class. The personages are rather prototypes, ideal heroes: the patriarch of the family, on the front of labor since the years of the Russian Civil War and even before, his sons, grown up together with the shipyard, the youngsters, open to the new and falling in love (as expected). Well, it's only about new technologies, to put things straight. Obviously the personages and the situations in the novel are strongly romanticized; however the author has a point: Stalinist or not, it's the industrial epoch, and the role of the working class is essential.

A discussion in the first chapter of the book is very relevant in this respect: in the Zhurbin family a baby was just born, neighbors and friends gather to celebrate, grandpa is announcing the event with gun volley's (alarming Egorov, the local militiaman), the wine is flowing in waves, everybody's happy, and, well, the talk is quickly passing to the shipyard problems. Someone raises a question: which component is more important during a ship manufacturing, the engine or the body? For these workers the answer is crystal clear: the ship body is more important - without it the engine would be useless, as simple as that. It makes full sense within the paradigm of industrial society: mass production of steel and cement, of machine tools and ships, of tractors and trucks, and so on and so forth. The industrial worker in the center of things. Время когда ценился рабочий человек. It is far from the post-industrial paradigm, where the engine is more important, as it carries the intelligence embedded in the product, its only chance to live or die in the ever changing globalization. And not only that: mass production replaced by cost and market driven production, shift of interest from the blue-collar to the white-collar worker. Here in the world of Zhurbins, the intelligentsia is favorably viewed only if born from within the working class and keeping strong links with the origins. All other intellectuals are considered at least with suspicion: guys good of nothing, petty characters, if not fully villains (add to this a strain of antisemitism, hidden under Kochetov's strong disdain for everything cosmopolitan).

Having said all this, let's pay attention a little bit to the intrinsic literary qualities of the Zhurbins. We have here a story about a shipyard that is in a process of radical modernization, challenging the people with new technologies, new rhythms in production, new sizes of the ships built there, new sizes of the shipyard itself. And I think that far from being just a dry technical narration, this book can captivate its reader. For some reasons. It is the pleasure of the author in telling a story (and in navigating inside the story). It is the empathy he has for his personages: sometimes they are in situations with no easy outcomes; the author does not interfere, just observes them with delicacy, sending signals of affective support, waiting for them to act one way or another. It is some unexpected humor that rises now and then in the story, bringing some salt and pepper and balancing situations. Sometimes this humor brings a note of relativity in the political universe of the Zhurbins. The club manager wants to promote a lecture about rising lemons locally (a region with harsh winters, by the way) - his party boss advises to add a political touch to the thing. As staunched in his convictions as he was, Kochetov didn't swallow roasted babies at breakfast (at least that's what he said once to Patricia Blake, that he didn't swallow babies in one gulp). Well, not only that: he even enjoyed sending his readers a wink, in rare occasions.

And above all, this book is the epic of the shipyard. Living throughout the book, a personage in its own right, living in the lives of each one around, making its own from each life around, growing continuously, changing itself continuously and challenging everybody around.


(Kochetov)

(Iosif Kheifits )

(Demostene Botez )

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Rubén Dario, Pasărea Albastră

(azul volatil)
no copyright infringement intended


París es teatro divertido y terrible...


Parisul este un spectacol minunat şi teribil. Printre cei ce-şi duceau zilele la cafeneaua Plombier - toţi bărbaţi de ispravă - pictori, sculptori, poeţi - toţi căutând eternii lauri - niciunul nu era mai iubit decât bietul Garcin, aproape mereu trist, băutor neobosit de absint, visător nciodată beat, şi, ca orice boem pur sânge, fin improvizator.

***

În salonul acela delabrat în care ne întâlneam să omorâm tristeţea, ipsosul de pe pereţi păstra, printre eboşe şi mâzgăleli de-ale noastre, versuri, întregi poeme, compuse acolo şi scrise cu creta, ale dragii noastre Păsări Albastre.

***

Pasărea Albastră era bietul Garcin. Ştiţi pentru ce îi spuneam astfel? Că noi îl botezaserăm.

***

Nu din capriciu. Acest excelent bărbat era un cavaler al vinului trist, un caballero del vino triste. Şi când râdeam de glumele noastre de parcă ne luase strechea, şi îl întrebam pentru ce rămânea singur trist, cu ochii pironiţi în tavan, ne spunea cu un zâmbet amar: Prieteni, vreau să ştiţi că o pasăre albastră îmi locuieşte în creier, o simt ...

***

Se întâmpla să-i placă uneori să meargă la ţară, pe la începutul primăverii. Aerul proaspăt al pădurii îi făcea bine la plămâni, după cum ne spunea.

Se întorcea aducând buchete de violete, şi câte un caiet gros de madrigale, pe care le scrisese în foşnetul frunzelor, sub cerul acela fără margini şi fără nori.

Violetele erau pentru Nini, vecina lui, o fată proaspătă şi roşie în obraji, care avea ochii cei mai albaştri din lume.

Versurile erau pentru noi. Le citeam şi îl lăudam. Avea geniu, iar odată şi odată avea să strălucească. Avea să îi vină vremea să fie cunoscut, precum merita. Pasărea Albastră avea să zboare înspre înalt.

***



Principiile lui Garcin:

Dintre flori, campanulele.

Dintre pietrele preţioase, safirul. Dintre imensităţi, cerul şi dragostea; adică pupilele ochilor lui Nini.

Şi spunea des: cred că întotdeauna este preferabilă nevroza imbecilităţii.

***

Uneori era mai trist chiar decât de obicei.

O pornea pe câte un bulevard, privea indiferent trăsurile luxoase, domnii eleganţi, femeile frumoase. Zâmbea către vitrina vreunui magazin de bijuterii. Dar când ajungea în faţa unei librării, privea lacom rafturile de cărţi, ediţiile luxoase îi trezeau gelozia, îşi pleca fruntea, parcă îngropându-şi ochii în ele. Fugea apoi spre cafenea să ne caute, exaltat, aproape plângând, cerea un pahar de absint şi ne spunea, da, în mintea mea o Pasăre Albastră stă prizonieră şi-şi doreşte libertatea.

***

Au fost câţiva care credeau că îşi pierduse minţile.

Un psihiatru care auzise despre Garcin, îl clasificase fără greş: un caz cu totul special de monomanie. Nu exista nici o umbră de îndoială.

Asta era: nenorocitul de Garcin era nebun.

Într-o zi a primit o scrisoare dela taică-său, un bătrân negustor de pânzeturi pe undeva prin Normandia. Scria, mai mult sau mai puţin, aşa:

Am auzit de aiurelile tale de la Paris. Dacă rămâi acolo, nu îţi mai trimit nici un ban. Vino acasă, ia-ţi cărţile din magazie, iar după ce o să le dai foc, cărţilor şi caietelor cu toate prostiile tale, o să încep să îţi dau bani din nou.

Scrisoarea a fost citită la Café Plombier.

- Şi-o să pleci? ¿Y te irás?

- N-o să pleci? ¿No te irás?

- Accepti? ¿Aceptas?

- Nu accepti? ¿Desdeñas?

Bravo Garcin! A rupt scrisoarea în bucăţi, şi pe loc a compus o catrenă, dacă mi-o amintesc bine, suna astfel:

Aşa e! voi fi mereu un prostănac,
Pe care îl aplauzi şi de care faci haz,
Atât timp cât în capul meu,
Locuieşte Pasărea Albastră.

***

De atunci parcă îşi schimbase felul. Devenise vorbăreţ, ai fi zis că se cufundase în veselie, îşi cumpără o redingotă şi începu un poem nou, în terţete, intitulat, cum altfel, Pasărea Albastră.

Şi în fiecare seară citeam versurile noi din poem. Erau măreţe, sublime, nebuneşti.

Vorbea despre un cer superb, şi despre un peisaj de ţară proaspăt, ca şi când ar fi ţâşnit dintr-o pânză de Corot, feţe de copii amestecate printre florile câmpului, ochii lui Nini, umezi şi mari; şi, peste toate acestea, bunul Dumnezeu trimiţându-ne în zbor o Pasăre Albastră, care nu mai ştia nici ea cum şi când se cuibărise în mintea lui Garcin, unde stătea prizonieră. Când pasărea începea să cânte, versurile căpătau lumina trandafirului. Când pasărea voia să zboare, îşi deschidea aripile şi se lovea de pereţii creierului, ochii ţintă către cer, fruntea încreţită, în faţa sa un pahar de absint cu puţină apă, o ţigară între degete.

Acesta era poemul.

Într-o seară a venit râzând mult, şi, în acelaşi timp, foarte trist.

***

Frumoasa vecină fusese condusă la cimitir.

Am veşti noi! Ultimul cânt al poemului!

A venit primăvara, şi Nini a plecat. Violetele vor rămâne de acum pe câmp, la ţară. Urmează epilogul poemului. Editorul nici măcar nu a vrut să se uite peste versuri. Voi va trebui să le răspândiţi, repede. Timpul nu mai poate aştepta. Epilogul se cheamă Cum îşi ia zborul Pasărea Albastră spre albastrul cer.

***

Primăvara este acum stăpână. Copacii în floare, nori trandafirii în zori şi la înserat, un aer blând care mişcă frunzele şi face ca panglicile pălăriilor de paie să se lovească una de alta cu un zgomot special. Garcin nu a mai plecat la ţară.

Iată-l, îmbrăcat în haine noi, la Café Plombier, cafeneaua noastră dragă, este palid, şi zâmbeşte trist.

Prieteni, o îmbrăţişare! Îmbrăţişaţi-mă toţi, cu putere, din toată inima, din tot sufletul. Pasărea Albastră şi-a luat zborul.

Şi sărmanul Garcin plângea, noi l-am îmbrăţişat, toţi, ne-am strâns mâinile cu putere, şi a plecat.

Ne-am zis toţi, da, fiul rătăcitor se întoarce la tatăl său, bătrânul normand. Îl va ajuta în prăvălie. Adio, Muze, adio, vă mulţumesc pentru tot ce a fost! Hei! Să bem pentru Garcin!

Palizi, speriaţi, a doua zi de dimineaţă eram toţi în camera lui. Era în pat, cu cearşafurile pline de sânge, ţeasta găurită de un glonte, creierii împrăştiati pe pernă. Ce oribil!

Când, după primul şoc, am putut să începem să îl priveghem, am văzut că în mână ţinea foile cu poemul lui. Pe ultima pagină, Azi, în plină primăvară, am deschis poarta cuştii sărmanei Păsări Albastre.

***

Ah, câţi oare nu ne purtăm închisă în colivia creierului pasărea noastră!



(Rubén Darío)

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Elif Shafak, What Can't You Say

Elif Shafak
(source: pinterest)
no copyright infringement intended



Elif Shafak: Every writer, journalist or poet in Turkey knows that words can get one in trouble. Because of a novel, an article, a poem or a tweet, one can be put on trial, even imprisoned. When we write, this knowledge keeps tugging at the back of our minds. As a result, there is a lot of self-censorship. But it is hard to admit this as it is embarrassing, unheroic. When I write non-fiction, especially opinion pieces for newspapers and magazines, I can try to be more careful. When I write fiction, however, things are different. Deep inside a novel, the story flows with a force of its own. I am neither the master nor a puppeteer who controls the characters from above. I am inside the flow, not above. All I have to do is to keep writing. Once the book is over and I hand it to my editor, I start to worry. What will people say? But by then the story is out. It is alive, breathing. As writers from lands where democracy is still an unattained dream, we do not have the luxury of being apolitical. We ought to ask questions. We need to give a voice to the silences and the silenced. Hence I do and I don’t censor myself. In my daily life, I am an anxious, perplexed soul. But stories change storytellers. When I am writing fiction, I am wiser and calmer and I know that the art of storytelling is stronger than my fears.





(Elif Shafak)

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Slavoj Žižek, What Can't You Say



Slavoj Žižek: In our permissive times, a new form of the unsayable is more and more acquiring a ­central role: it is not only that certain things are prohibited to say – the prohibition itself is prohibited: we are not allowed to say openly what is prohibited. Already in Stalinism, it was not only prohibited to criticize Stalin and the party publicly, it was even more prohibited to announce this prohibition publicly. If someone were to shout back at a critic of Stalin, Are you crazy? Don’t you know that we are not allowed to do this? he would have disappeared into the Gulag even faster than the open critic of Stalin. Unexpectedly, the same holds for the relations of domination in our permissive post-patriarchal societies: a modern boss is tolerant, he behaves like a colleague of ours, sharing dirty jokes, inviting us for a drink, openly displaying his weaknesses, admitting that he is merely human like us. He is deeply offended if we remind him that he is our boss – however, it is this very rejection of explicit authority that guarantees his de facto power. This is why the first gesture of liberation is to force the master to act as one: our only defense is to reject his warm human approach and to insist that he should treat us with cold distance. We live in weird times in which we are compelled to behave as if we are free, so that the unsayable is not our freedom but the very fact of our servitude.



(Zoon Politikon)

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Auden about Sydney Smith

The Selected Writings
of Sydney Smith
Edited and with an Introduction
by W. H. Auden
(Pendleburys, the bookshop in the hills)
no copyright infringement intended


Sydney Smith was born in 1771, two years after the invention of Watt's steam engine and one year after Goldsmith's Deserted Village, that vivid description of the effects of land enclosure. It was still dangerous to walk through the streets of London after dark, there were no waterproof hats, no braces, no calomel, no quinine, no clubs, no saving banks, the government was completely in the hands of great landowners, and, in the best society, the third of the gentlemen were always drunk. He died in 1845, which was also the year in which Engels' State of the Working Class in England was published and Newman was received into the Roman Catholic Church. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the Romantic Movement had all occurred, there was gaslight in houses, there were railways through the country, the Victorian proprieties were firmly established (Bowdler's Shakespeare appeared in 1818) and public opinion had forced Parliament to soften the rigors of pure laisser-faire (the First Factory Act was passed in 1833).


(Auden)

(Sydney Smith)

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Monday, June 01, 2015

Spoofing Magritte

source: Arnold Zwiky's Blog
(a blog mostly about language)
no copyright infringement intended



(René Magritte)

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René Magritte, Not To Be Reproduced

René Magritte, La Reproduction Interdite
oil on canvas, 1937
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
(Matteson Art)
no copyright infringement intended



(René Magritte)

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René Magritte







(Contemporary Art)

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