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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Brancusi Filmed (1929-1939)

source: ICI site
no copyright infringement intended

I found this video on the youTube page of azrzearvar: an unexpected gift for me, and for those browsing my blog. Enjoy!

(Avangarda 20)


Saturday, March 30, 2013

John Grierson

John Grierson (1898-1972)
no copyright infringement intended

John Grierson was one of the most important pioneers of documentary. Actually he was the one who coined the term: in his review to Flaherty's Moana (1926), he wrote that being a visual account of events in the daily life of a Polynesian youth and his family, it has documentary value. Also he was the one who brought Eisenstein's Potemkin to US and presented it to the American audiences.

Grierson directed only two movies, while being deeply involved in the making of more than thirty others. He was the great organizer of the documentary industry, in both UK and Canada, leading the national boards, getting the necessary government sponsorship, writing seminal film critics, encouraging young filmmakers, working together with them, as a producer and creative contributor. He is considered the father of British and Canadian documentary school.

(Filmele Avangardei)


Friday, March 29, 2013

Marx as a Man of His Time - a Book by Jonathan Sperber

I found in the Books Update section of NY Times a review of a new book on Karl Marx, authored by Jonathan Sperber, a professor at the University of Missouri specializing in European history. A Marx that's neither the revered revolutionary icon, nor the reviled wellspring of Communist totalitarianism, more a genuine human being. If he were to live today, such a guy would be a compulsive blogger, and picking Twitter fights with Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein: not a timeless ideological canon, not a prophet of the future, just a man of his time, so a figure of the past. According to Sperber, Marx was not a body of ideas, but a human being responding to events. In this context, it’s telling that Marx’s prime vocation was not as an academic but as a campaigning journalist: Sperber suggests Marx’s two stints at the helm of a radical paper in Cologne represented his greatest periods of professional fulfillment. Accordingly, much of what the scholars have tried to brand as Marxist philosophy was instead contemporary commentary, reactive and therefore full of contradiction.

(A Life in Books)


Bonjour Monsieur Courbet

Gustave Courbet, La Rencontre
oil on canvas, 1854
Musée Fabre, Montpellier, FR
no copyright infringement intended

This painting is better known by its nickname, Bonjour Monsieur Courbet, being interpreted as Courbet (on his way to Montpellier) greeted by his patron Alfred Bruyas. The man behind Bruyas is his servant Calas. The artist had been invited by his patron at Montpellier and this work symbolized in a way their alliance.

The painting was firstly exposed in Paris, and art critics invented the nickname, alluding to the predominant position of Courbet in the composition. Actually if we examine the painting, Courbet appears as the interesting guy, kind of a mysterious Wandering Jew, while his patron is depicted in a salutation not far from an accolade. Naturally this didn't please Bruyas too much, however he bought the work and donated it to Musée Fabre in 1868.



Velázquez: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Diego Velázquez: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
oil on canvas, 1618
London National Gallery
no copyright infringement intended

Splendid ambiguity! We have here a kitchen with two women caught in what appears to be an argument, while the scene in the house of Martha and Mary (Luke 10, 38-42) can be seen on the wall. Is the biblical scene a painting within the painting (the foreground women referring to it in their argument)? Or is it rather a mirror (or a hatch), and the kitchen is within the house of Martha and Mary (the foreground women actually witnessing the biblical scene)?

Anyway, in each case, painting within the painting, mirror on the wall, or hatch, the biblical story comes here indirectly. What we see directly, there are these two women in the kitchen: by their activities and their argument, they parallel the story of Martha and Mary!



Velázquez: Vieja Friendo Huevos

Like other early works by the artist, it shows the influence of chiaroscuro, with a strong light source coming in from the left, illuminating the woman, her utensils and the poaching eggs but throwing the background and the boy standing to her right into deep shadow. Here the chiaroscuro is very intense, so much so that it would be impossible to see the wall at the bottom of the painting but for the basket hanging from it, but also managing to combine the murky darkness and high contrasts of light and shadow with a use of subtle hues and a palette dominated by ochres and browns.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Velázquez - The Needlewoman

Diego Velázquez - The Needlewoman
oil on canvas, ca. 1640/1650
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
no copyright infringement intended

Because the painting remains unfinished, the steps in the artist's process are visible. He began by priming the canvas with a gray-green base. Next, he indicated the main forms of the composition, sketching them in with darker paint, then brushing them in with broad areas of opaque color, and finally, building up the face -- the only area that appears to be finished -- with transparent layers of glaze, giving it the effect of flesh seen through softly diffused light.


(Washington DC National Gallery of Art)


Las Meninas de Velázquez

Diego Velázquez, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour)
oil on canvas, 1656/57
Museo del Prado
no copyright infringement intended




An artist from the Baroque age foretelling the Realism and Impressionism.

(Old Masters)


Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust at a garden-party
(published on Facebook by Belle Époque Europe)
no copyright infringement intended

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire : « Je m’endors. » Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait ; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière ; je n’avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de lire, mais ces réflexions avaient pris un tour un peu particulier ; il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage : une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de François Ier et de Charles-Quint. Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil ; elle ne choquait pas ma raison, mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchait de se rendre compte que le bougeoir n’était pas allumé. Puis elle commençait à me devenir inintelligible, comme après la métempsycose les pensées d’une existence antérieure ; le sujet du livre se détachait de moi, j’étais libre de m’y appliquer ou non ; aussitôt je recouvrais la vue et j’étais bien étonné de trouver autour de moi une obscurité, douce et reposante pour mes yeux, mais peut-être plus encore pour mon esprit, à qui elle apparaissait comme une chose sans cause, incompréhensible, comme une chose vraiment obscure. Je me demandais quelle heure il pouvait être ; j’entendais le sifflement des trains qui, plus ou moins éloigné, comme le chant d’un oiseau dans une forêt, relevant les distances, me décrivait l’étendue de la campagne déserte où le voyageur se hâte vers la station prochaine ; et le petit chemin qu’il suit va être gravé dans son souvenir par l’excitation qu’il doit à des lieux nouveaux, à des actes inaccoutumés, à la causerie récente et aux adieux sous la lampe étrangère qui le suivent encore dans le silence de la nuit, à la douceur prochaine du retour.

For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say "I'm going to sleep." And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I was awake; it did not disturb my mind, but it lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning. Then it would begin to seem unintelligible, as the thoughts of a former existence must be to a reincarnate spirit; the subject of my book would separate itself from me, leaving me free to choose whether I would form part of it or no; and at the same time my sight would return and I would be astonished to find myself in a state of darkness, pleasant and restful enough for the eyes, and even more, perhaps, for my mind, to which it appeared incomprehensible, without a cause, a matter dark indeed. I would ask myself what o'clock it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now farther off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in a forest, shewed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller would be hurrying towards the nearest station: the path that he followed being fixed for ever in his memory by the general excitement due to being in a strange place, to doing unusual things, to the last words of conversation, to farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp which echoed still in his ears amid the silence of the night; and to the delightful prospect of being once again at home.

(Le Parnasse des Lettres)


From Table to Garden

I got a message today from my friend David, the pastor of the Clarendon Presbyterian Church. Says he, the Holy Week condenses the journey of faith to its essential steps: hope-filled beginnings, gathering community, looming threat, fearful denial, finality in death, deep despair, and, finally, unexpected hope.

For me the Holly Week will be at the end of April / beginning of May, together with the whole Eastern Christian Church, while in the Occident these days of end of March constitute the journey of faith. Some years we all celebrate the Easter together, some other years it is this difference. I am meditating at the words of David. For him today is the gathering around the Table, the Passion will follow and come to its climax, and then, on Sunday morning, the faithful women will go to the Garden and get unexpected hope.

(Church in America)

Suspended Coffees, a Story by Kayla Steele

(published on Facebook by Kayla Steele)
no copyright infringement intended

A story that Kayla Steele published on the Facebook page of lee and me:

We enter a little coffeehouse with a friend of mine and give our order. While we’re approaching our table two people come in and they go to the counter:

Five coffees, please. Two of them for us and three suspended They pay for their order, take the two and leave.

I ask my friend: What are those suspended coffees?
My friend: Wait for it and you will see.

Some more people enter. Two girls ask for one coffee each, pay and go. The next order was for seven coffees and it was made by three lawyers - three for them and four suspended. While I still wonder what’s the deal with those suspended coffees I enjoy the sunny weather and the beautiful view towards the square in front of the café. Suddenly a man dressed in shabby clothes who looks like a beggar comes in through the door and kindly asks
Do you have a suspended coffee ?

It’s simple - people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who can not afford a warm beverage. The tradition with the suspended coffees started in Naples, but it has spread all over the world and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee, but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such cafés or even grocery stores in every town where the less fortunate will find hope and support ? If you own a business why don’t you offer it to your clients… I am sure many of them will like it

Kayla Steele studied at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales. She lives in Wollongong.

(A Life in Books)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


ibric, filigeană... tot tacâmul
no copyright infringement intended

Se spune ca o marghilomană înseamnă o cafea în care în loc de apă s-a fiert coniac sau rom. Ei bine, coniac sau rom? Depinde de ce tradiție tinem. Daca mergem pe ideea ca marghilomanei îi vine numele dela Alexandru Marghiloman, cunoscutul om politic si totodată vânător patimaș, atunci marghilomana este cu coniac - pentru că așa zice tradiția despre Alexandru Marghiloman, că aflat odată la vânatoare și poruncind o cafea, iar valetul neavând la îndemână apă, s-a folosit coniac. Daca însă mergem pe ideea că marghilomanei îi vine numele dela crâșmarul Marghiloman din Sulina, atunci marghilomana este cu rom - pentru că așa zice cealaltă tradiție, opusă primei, că odată regele Carol I aflat la Sulina și poftind la o cafea, până să se aducă apă curată de undeva de mai departe, crâșmarul a folosit rom. Care o fi adevărul, asta e mai puțin important. Eu însă am băut odată pe malul lacului IOR un Irish Coffee preparat ad-hoc: am cerut așa ceva, iar ospătarul mi-a răspuns că nu îl aveau in meniu, dar știe să îl prepare. A luat whisky, a luat cafea, a luat frișcă, si a facut Irish Coffee. Şi a ieșit foarte bună. Mi-a amintit de o altă cafea de-asta irlandeză, pe care am băut-o cândva la Montreal. Cândva de demult. Mă rog, oi mai fi băut și in alte dăți, dar astea două mi-au plăcut foarte mult.

Una peste alta, cu coniac sau cu rom, cafeaua bună se face la nisip. Iar daca vreți sa citiți o poveste frumoasă despre cafeaua asta turcească la nisip, iat-o aici.

(A Life in Books)

Larry Crowne

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in Larry Crowne
(The NYC Film Chick Blogspot)
no copyright infringement intended

This is a movie that had mixed reviews. Some considered it simply boring, some others said that Tom Hanks made it interesting to watch, otherwise it would have been simply boring - and there were other reviewers that simply liked it. I range among the ones who liked it. It's not a great movie to be written in the golden book of cinema history, while very enjoyable (maybe because of the lead actors, I can agree - better said, it's a story where a great story teller is a must).

Actually I watched it many times, the number of times it has been aired on one of the TV channels I keep on watching. It doesn't mean I keep an eye open on that TV channel all the time, nor that I watch the whole movie each time it comes,  only some scenes, while doing also other things. And as each movie there comes again and again, I watch each time other scenes, and eventually I see all of them.

Larry Crowne starts with a scene where the character played by Tom Hanks loses  his job for an absurd reason. This is America, a country where anyone can lose the job anytime for any reason, whatever absurd. With such a start, you'd expect the unfolding of a drama. Well, what follows is a very optimistic story, about a country of all opportunities. The guy enrolls in a local college (he has now free time), gets rid of his car (too expensive for a jobless) and gets instead a second hand scooter, so he befriends a group of young scooter enthusiasts, he gets rid of his apartment (too expensive now for him) and moves to a smaller place, his new friends help him to make it look modern and comfortable, soon enough he finds a new job (not the dream job, of course, but it wouldn't be the last anyway) and eventually he finds a possible soulmate. As the old saying goes, a kick in your back is a step forward.

I remember once I met a guy who was opposing the universal health care. He was a truck driver with two jobs, who had taken a free day to attend a huge manifestation against the Obamacare. I asked him what would happen if he were to loose his jobs, so also his health insurance. He answered that in this situation he would look for another job and find it in a couple of months and that you cannot eliminate risk in your life. Was he right? Debatable. Like the story from this movie.


A Paschal Greeting from Yale Strom

(Yale Strom)
no copyright infringement intended

I sent a greeting mail to Yale Strom for Passover, and I used the Hebrew greeting Hag Pesach Sameach. Only Yale is a great Yiddish lover, a passionate for Klezmer and  for Yiddish theatre, and Yiddish cuisine, and all that. So, no wonder that he answered me in Yiddish. His greeting was a git yom tov un a zisn peysekh. I don't know Yiddish at all (actually I don't know Hebrew either, only a few greetings). Well, even if you don't know the language, understanding a salutation that comes from a friend is a duty, otherwise it'd be as you weren't interested.

So I started a small research work. Soon I found out that Yale misspelled a very little bit his greeting. It should have been gut rather than git. Of no importance if I knew the language :) Or maybe git and gut can be used interchangeably, maybe. And a gut Yom Tov (or yontiv) un a zis peysekh means A good Jewish Holiday and a sweet Passover. And maybe using zisn instead of zis (as Yale did) is not a misspelling, rather a diminutive form of sweet, something like sweety.

(Yale Strom)


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Many Unitarians against Polyamory Activists

The infinity heart is a widely used symbol of polyamory
source: Ratatosk
no copyright infringement intended

An interesting article in today's Washington Post, about the attitude of UUA (Unitarian Universalist Church) versus the Polyamory activists: the joke about Unitarians is that they’re where you go when you don’t know where to go; theirs is the religion of last resort for the intermarried, the ambivalent, the folks who want a faith community without too many rules; within the ranks of the UUA over the past few years, there has been some quiet unrest concerning a small but activist group that vociferously supports polyamory (the practice of loving and relating intimately to more than one other person at a time). Read more at:

(Church in America)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Chinua Achebe: Pine Tree in Spring

no copyright infringement intended

Pine tree
flag bearer
of green memory
across the breach of a desolate hour

Loyal tree
that stood guard
alone in austere emeraldry
over Nature’s recumbent standard

Pine tree
lost now in the shade
of traitors decked out flamboyantly
marching back unabashed to the colors they betrayed

Fine tree
erect and trustworthy
what school can teach me
your silent, stubborn fidelity?

(Chinua Achebe)


Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe
no copyright infringement intended

A great Nigerian novelist and poet, whose style relies heavily on the oral traditions of his tribe, combining straightforward narration with folk stories and proverbs (wiki). I would like to put here some of his poems. His first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958) is considered his magnum opus. Chinua Achebe died yesterday. He was 92.

(A Life in Books)


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ungaretti: Variazioni su Nulla

(Città Di Vetro)
no copyright infringement intended

Quel nonnulla di sabbia che trascorre
Dalla clessidra muto e va posandosi,
E, fugaci, le impronte sul carnato,
Sul carnato che muore, d’una nube…

Poi mano che rovescia la clessidra,
Il ritorno per muoversi, di sabbia,
Il farsi argentea tacito di nube
Ai primi brevi lividi dell’alba…

La mano in ombra la clessidra volse,
E, di sabbia, il nonnulla che trascorre
Silente, è unica cosa che ormai s’oda
E, essendo udita, in buio non scompaia.

That negligible bit of sand which slides
Without a sound and settles in the hourglass,
And the fleeting impressions on the fleshy-pink,
The perishable fleshy-pink, of a cloud...

Then a hand that turns over the hourglass,
The going back for flowing back, of sand,
The quiet silvering of a cloud
In the first few lead-gray seconds of dawn...

The hand in shadow turned the hourglass,
And the negligible bit of sand which slides
And is silent, is the only thing now heard,
And, being heard, doesn't vanish in the dark.

That less-than-nothing of sand that streams
Through the hourglass, mute, and comes to tis resting,
And, fleeting, the impressions of the flesh,
On the rosy flesh that dies, of a cloud...

Then hand that reverses the hourglass
The return to its moving, of sand
The tacit silvering of cloud
At the first brief pallors of the dawn...

The hand in shadow turned the hourglass,
And, of sand, the less-than-nothing that streams
Silent, is sole something henceforth heard
And, being heard, in darkness does not vanish

Acel nimic de nisip ce se scurge
Tăcut din clepsidră şi se depune
Şi, trecătoarele întipăriri pe incarnaţie,
Pe incarnaţia ce moare, a unui nor...

Apoi mâna ce răstoarnă clepsidra,
Întoarcerea, spre a se mişca, a nisipului,
Transformarea tăcută de argint a norului
La întâile scurte palori ale zorilor...

Mâna în umbră a întors clepsidra
Şi nimicul de nisip ce se scurge
Tăcut, e unicul lucru ce se mai aude
Şi, auzindu-se, nu piere-n beznă...

(Giuseppe Ungaretti)


Dreaming about Reykjavik

Johan Peter Raadsig: Ingólfr tager Island i besiddelse, 1850
on public display in Viðeyjarstofa in Viðey
source: Haukur Þorgeirsson
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the Romanian version)

I was in SoHo, my first day alone in NY. The names of the streets weren't telling anything to me, the place seemed perfectly alien.  I saw a small restaurant cornering two streets. I decided to get in, suddenly feeling myself like doomed. Some kind of an inner voice was warning me that my fate would come to a close once I get inside, there wouldn't be an after. I opened the door anyway, feeling uncomfortably. The place was small and packed with people. Clients' faces seemed to me intimidating. I found somehow my way toward the bar and I sat down on one of the free barstools. There was a young waitress serving at the bar, her presence intimidated me too. Actually she looked gorgeous, like a rusalka from the Arctic lands. I asked shyly for a small glass of vodka. Trying to cover my timidity, I dared to ask her where she had come from. She answered casually that she was from Reykjavik. I didn't find the courage to go on talking. As I was sipping my drink I was thinking at those Vikings who had come courageously and put their foot here on the New World. I would have liked to be a man from Reykjavik, too, not afraid of cold days and polar nights, of icy seas, not afraid of New York either, simply said not caring of being there or anywhere. Well, as you know, I wasn't a Viking, I wasn't a man from Reykjavik, I was just a common guy, just arrived in NY, and speaking English with a funny accent. So I finished my drink and got out, happy to be again on the large. Years have passed, I came back to NY many times, I knew it well now, streets and places, nothing was scaring me anymore. I went to that restaurant many times, alone or with friends, and actually it was a very nice place. I never saw the rusalka again. I asked about her, they told me that she had moved back to Reykjavik. Probably she also loved the harsh lands, the cold days and polar nights, the icy seas.

(A Life in Books)

(New York, New York)

(German and Nordic Literature)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ungaretti: Mattina

26 Gennaio 1917: Ungaretti compone Mattina
no copyright infrigement intended


(video by wanded1)

I flood myself with light
of the immense

Mă iluminez
de nemărginire

(Giuseppe Ungaretti)


Ungaretti: Soldati

Si sta come
sugli alberi
le foglie

Here we are
like leaves on
trees in autumn

Iată-ne aici
așa cum toamna
își așează frunzele
pe arbori

(Giuseppe Ungaretti)


Ungaretti: Sono Una Creatura

no copyright infringement intended

Come questa pietra
del S. Michhele
cosi fredda
cosi dura
cosi prosciugata
cosi refrattaria
Cosi totalmente

Come questa pietra
è il mio pianto
che non se vede

La morte
si sconta

Like this stone of
San Michele
as cold
as hard
as thoroughly dried
as refractory
as deprived of spirit

Like this stone
is my weeping that can't
be seen

discounts death

Ca această piatră
de la S.Michele
atât de rece
atât de rugoasă
atât de uscată
atât de refractară
atât de total
lipsită de suflet

Ca această piatră
mi-e plânsul
ce nu se vede

se ispăşeşte

Ca și această piatră
din San Michele
la fel de rece
la fel de dură
la fel de stearpă la fel de îndărătnică
la fel de total

Ca și această piatră
e plînsul meu
ce nu se vede

se arvuneşte

(Giuseppe Ungaretti)


Giuseppe Ungaretti

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970)
no copyright infringement intended

A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday a poem by Ungaretti. It was a sad moment, as my friend was mourning this way the passing away not so long ago of a man who had loved poetry and had loved the poems of Ungaretti. I didn't have the chance to meet that man ever, I learned about him just yesterday, from the post of my friend. All this transported me very long time ago, in my teen years, when I had learned first time about Ungaretti, from a wonderful book written by A. E. Baconsky. I loved Baconsky's way of talking about modern poets. Baconsky died in 1977, at the earthquake that hit Bucharest that year. I think I should look for poetry by Ungaretti and present it here. A way to think again at the book by Baconsky that I had read as a teenager and I had liked so much, a way to think at a man whom I haven't meet ever and now it's too late. The name of this man was Lucian Sturzu-Nastase. He loved poetry.

(Una Vita Tra I Libri)


Friday, March 15, 2013

Poem despre Reykjavik

Johan Peter Raadsig: Ingólfr tager Island i besiddelse, 1850
on public display in Viðeyjarstofa in Viðey
source: Haukur Þorgeirsson
no copyright infringement intended

(click here for the English version)

Eram la New York, era prima zi in care ma aventuram singur, si am vazut un barulet pe colt de strada. Era in SoHo, pe langa Greenwich Village, cartier boem si evident intimidant pentru cineva in prima zi singur. Am intrat in barulet cu teama ca soarta mea se va inchide acolo inauntru, nu va mai exista scapare. Localul era mic si plin ochi. Figurile clientilor ma intimidau. M-am asezat la bar (nu aveam curajul sa ma asez la o masa, de altfel nici una nu era libera). Barmanita ma intimida si ea. Era de fapt foarte frumoasa, parea o rusalka lapona, dar, asta este, ma intimida. I-am cerut sfios o votca mica. Incercand sa imi maschez timiditatea, am indraznit sa o intreb de unde este originara. Mi-a raspuns foarte casual ca era din Reykjavik. Nu am mai avut curajul sa continui discutia, dar lecturile mai vechi isi faceau efectul. Ma gandeam la vikingii care venisera indrazneti si isi pusesera bocancul aici in Lumea Noua. Mi-as fi dorit sa fiu si eu din Reykjavik, sa nu ma tem de frig, nici de noaptea polara, nici de marile polare, de multe ori vijelioase, intotdeauna impanzite de gheturi, sa nu ma tem nici de New York, sa simt ca nu imi pasa ca sunt acolo, sa nu-mi pese oriunde as fi fost. Sa ma simt sigur pe mine si sa discut casually cu tanara ce parea o rusalka lapona. Ma rog, cum stiti, nu eram viking, nu eram nici din Reykjavik, venisem din Bucuresti, eram deci un om mai bland si cu oarece frica de Dumnezeu (si oarece frica in general). Asa ca nu m-am lasat sedus de gandurile care imi treceau prin minte, am baut votca si am iesit tiptil, fericit ca eram din nou la lumina strazii. Au trecut anii, si New Yorkul nu ma mai speria de mult. Am mai fost acolo, de fapt era un local foarte cuminte, unde se putea si manca, dar pe barmanita islandeza nu am mai vazut-o. Se intorsese in tara ei, probabil ca ii placeau tinuturile aspre, zapezile si gheturile, noaptea polara.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam

Él no sabía que la parada de bus siguiente era el Vaticano
(posted on Facebook by Salesiano Cooperador)
no copyright infringement intended

Am urmarit cu emotie alegerea noului Papa, si am fost impresionat de entuziasmul miilor de credinciosi adunati in Piata Sfantului Petru. Ei sunt o icoana a celor peste un miliard de catolici din toata lumea. Ii respect si ma bucur pentru ei, ma bucur pentru bucuria cu care ei au intampinat vestea. Pe noul Papa il asteapta sarcini uriase, toate problemele cu care se confrunta azi Biserica Catolica, atat de multe scandaluri, atat de multe tensiuni. L-am vazut pe noul Papa la televizor si mi s-a parut un om cu mult bun simt. Biserica Catolica este pe de o parte biserica traditiei romane, reprezinta doua mii de ani de istorie europeana cu ale ei foarte bune si foarte rele, dar este in acelasi timp si biserica acestui miliard de catolici de azi, dintre care cei mai multi nu traiesc in Europa si au multe alte probleme care nu se regasesc in identitatea europeana. Poate ca Papa Francisc este un om care intelege amandoua identitatile, si le va echilibra. Biserica traditiei romane si biserica saracilor de azi. E greu sa fii amandoua. Asa ca e bine ca noul Papa pare sa fie un om de echilibru, si care probabil stie ca nu va rezolva toate problemele care s-au acumulat de doua mii de ani, pentru ca nu are inca doua mii de ani la dispozitie. Sunt convins ca de foarte multe ori nu voi fi de acord cu felul sau de a gandi, dar cred ca va lucra cu buna credinta si cu un adanc inteles al modestiei si umilintei. Si sunt alaturi de toti cei care se bucura acum atat de mult. Si sper din tot sufletul ca o fraza din Márquez nu e nepotrivita, un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes.

(published in Zimbio)
no copyright infringement intended


Monday, March 11, 2013

Carl Blechen: Badende im Park von Terni

Carl Blechen: Badende im Park von Terni
color on paper, 1828/29
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei
no copyright infringement intended

(Carl Blechen)


Carl Blechen: Bau der Teufelsbrücke

Carl Blechen: Bau der Teufelsbrücke
oil on canvas, c. 1833
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Credit line: Leihgabe der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
no copyright infringement intended

(Carl Blechen)


Carl Blechen

Carl Blechen in 1836
scanned by Michael Schönitzer, from "Die großen Deutschen im Bilde" (1936)
no copyright infringement intended

Carl Blechen (1798-1840) was a German artist specialized in fantastic landscapes, sometimes with demons and grotesque figures (wiki)

Carl Blechen, Die Waldschlucht
oil on canvas, 1825
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin
source: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei
no copyright infringement intended

(Old Masters)


Saturday, March 09, 2013

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie

Beyond its religious connotation, there is more general meaning in the word pilgrimage. It is a journey towards your sources, your identity. Your roots, individual and collective - family, ethnicity, country, faith, culture, civilization. An attempt to understand where you come from, who you are, what is your purpose. Looking for your sources, finding them, meditating, experimenting, living them again.

You can make the journey in your young years, or you can make it later in life. At any age, after you made it, you are no more the same. For any age, it's an apprenticeship, a rite of passage. Think at Byron's poem: you start the journey a Childe, you end it a Knight. It remains in you, and later you will come again to it, in your memory this time, meditating, filtering, enriching its treasure. The journey can take place physically, it can be also imaginary. The essential is to make it in total openness, to accept the magic, to live the awe.

For Liszt, the pilgrimage was developed in three stages. It was firstly the journey to Switzerland, where, as he  put it later, a real rapport, an inexplicable but undeniable communication was established with the phenomena of nature and their attendant sights. It was followed by the journey to Italy, in search of his European cultural roots. A search that was developed twofold. An exploration of the universe of Renaissance: visual arts and literature, having Raphael, Michelangelo, Petrarque and Dante as guides; and an exploration of the Italian musical world. I would speak about the third stage of Listzt's pilgrimage later, it deserves a separate discussion.

These stages of pilgrimage were later sublimated by Liszt in music: the three piano suites Années de pèlerinage, a remembrance of his journeys, meditating them again, exploring all their potentialities, living them again. Like in a religious experience, it is not about repetition: the time disappears, you are again there, in that moment, past becomes present, the moment is eternal.

And we, listeners of Liszt's music, are called to make our own journey: into the world of sounds, and through it toward the paradigms of Renaissance, and ultimately toward the simple and great paradigms of Universe. Goethe's Wilhelm Meister comes to mind: meditating the masterworks is also a rite of passage.

Raphael: The Marriage of the Virgin (Spozalizio)
oil on roundheaded panel
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
no copyright infringement intended

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 1: Sposalizio, Lazar Berman, piano
(video by FranzLisztFerentz)

Grato m’è il sonno, e più l’esser di sasso.
Mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura.
Non veder, non sentir m’è gran ventura
Però non mi destar, deh’—parla basso!

[Sleep, nay, being made of rock,
makes me happy whilst harm and shame endure.
It is a great adventure neither to see nor to hear.
However, disturb me not, pray—lower your voice!]

Quand Michel-Ange veut exprimer la méditation, la mélancolie, et nous en offrir les caractères universels et dominants, il est obligé de modérer le geste, d’atténuer le mouvement, de peur de représenter non plus le  Penseroso, mais un certain homme et une certaine femme, de restreindre la portée de son œuvre en la particularisant.
[When Michelangelo wants to express the meditation, melancholy, and offer us the universal characters and dominant, he was forced to moderate the gesture, to mitigate the movement for fear nor represent the Penseroso, but a certain man and a certain woman, to restrict the scope of its work in the particularisant.]

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 2: Il pensieroso, Wilhelm Kempff, piano
(video by ClassicalRecords)

image from Opera nova amorosa, vol. 1
Strambotti, sonetti, capitoli, epistole et una disperata
Author: Nocturno Napolitano
no copyright infringement intended

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 3: Canzonetta del Salvator Rosa, Wilhelm Kempff, piano
(this Canzonetta, Vado ben spesso cangiando loco, was in fact written by Giovanni Battista Bononcini, and not by Rosa)
(video by ClassicalRecords)

Francesco Petrarca, Canzoniere e Trionfi, sec. XV (1480-1500 ca), Ms. 143, cc. 131v-132r
Istituzione Biblioteca Classense
no copyright infringement intended

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 4: Sonetto 47 del Petrarca, Wilhelm Kempff, piano
(video by ClassicalRecords)

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 5: Sonetto 104 del Petrarca, Vladimir Horowitz, piano
(video by viennapianoplayer94)

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 6: Sonetto 123 del Petrarca, Wilhelm Kempff, piano
(video by ClassicalRecords)

Gustave Dorè: illustration for Dante's Inferno, Canto 29
no copyright infringement intended

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Part 7: Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia Quasi Sonata, Libor Nováček, piano
(video by NovacekPianist)

Venetian Fruitseller, Victorian print from 1874
no copyright infringement intended

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Venezia e Napoli, Part 1: Gondoliera, Wilhelm Kempff, piano
(based on the song La biondina in gondoletta by Giovanni Battista Peruchinni)
(video by ClassicalRecords)

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Venezia e Napoli, Part 2: Canzone, Jorge Bolet, piano
(based on the gondolier's song Nessun maggior dolore from Rossini's Otello)
(video by xper2xper)

Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Deuxième année: Italie
(Years of Pilgrimage. Second Year: Italy)
Venezia e Napoli, Part 3: Tarantella, Igor Roma, piano
(uses themes by Guillaume-Louis Cottrau)
(video by ZioJafar)




(the Bononcini's)

(Salvator Rosa)



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