Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Behind the Seen


Van Gogh and Emil Bernard

پشت مشتای رندان

June 1, 1857 saw the publication of the most important volume of French poetry up till then: Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal…

Photo of Baudelaire’s copy of the French 1st ed. - turned to this poem:


When the low, heavy sky weighs like a lid
On the groaning spirit, victim of long ennui,
And from the all-encircling horizon
Spreads over us a day gloomier than the night;

When the earth is changed into a humid dungeon,
In which Hope like a bat
Goes beating the walls with her timid wings
And knocking her head against the rotten ceiling;

When the rain stretching out its endless train
Imitates the bars of a vast prison
And a silent horde of loathsome spiders
Comes to spin their webs in the depths of our brains,

All at once the bells leap with rage
And hurl a frightful roar at heaven,
Even as wandering spirits with no country
Burst into a stubborn, whimpering cry.

— And without drums or music, long hearses
Pass by slowly in my soul; Hope, vanquished,
Weeps, and atrocious, despotic Anguish
On my bowed skull plants her black flag.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)


Marilyn Monroe reading in the park…

Photo: Ed Clark, 1950, LIFE

Today is the birthday of Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926 - 1962), perhaps the greatest glamour girl the world has ever known - but also a gentle, if troubled soul.


Mikhail Glinka, June 1, 1804 - 1857, in many ways the father of Russian classical music…

Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka: К молли / To Molly

No. 11 from song cycle ‘Прощание с Петрбургом’ / ‘A Farewell to St. Petersburg’, G.x206 - Evgenij Nesterenko - bass, Evgenij Senderovic - piano (1970s)

(via zveneczi)


Marquis de Sade (June 2, 1740 – 1814) was a French aristocrat, revolutionary and novelist…

Celebrating the Marquis with a photo by Kate O’Brien…


English composer Edward Elgar (June 2, 1857 – 1934)

And we’ll celebrate with the whole of his great cello concerto, in 4 posts…

Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85 - I. Adagio - Moderato

London Symphony Orchestra, John Barbirolli - Jacqueline Du Pré, cello

(via oranc)


Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85 - II. Lento - Allegro molto

London Symphony Orchestra, John Barbirolli - Jacqueline Du Pré, cello

(via oranc)


Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85 - III. Adagio

London Symphony Orchestra, John Barbirolli - Jacqueline Du Pré, cello

(via oranc)


Edward Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor Op.85 - IV. Allegro - Moderato - Allegro, ma non troppo

London Symphony Orchestra, John Barbirolli - Jacqueline Du Pré, cello

(via oranc)



Federico García Lorca with his friend Luis Buñuel…

Federico García Lorca (June 5, 1898 - 1936), Spanish poet - an emblematic member of the Generation of ‘27; murdered at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War…

The Guitar by Federico García Lorca
(Translated by Cola Franzen)

The weeping of the guitar
The goblets of dawn
are smashed.
The weeping of the guitar
to silence it.
to silence it.
It weeps monotonously
as water weeps
as the wind weeps
over snowfields.
to silence it.
It weeps for distant
Hot southern sands
yearning for white camellias.
Weeps arrow without target
evening without morning
and the first dead bird
on the branch.
Oh, guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
by five swords.

(this post was reblogged from lumpy-pudding)


Alexander Pushkin (June 6, 1799 – 1837) - considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet and the founder of modern Russian literature - pioneered the use of vernacular speech in his poems and plays, creating a style of storytelling, mixing drama, romance, and satire…

“The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us then ten-thousand truths.”
— A. Pushkin


Friedrich Hölderlin, the great, but mad, German Romantic poet, passed away June 6, 1843, after many years of obscurity and silence…

“Dichterlich wohnt der Mensch.” (Like a poet man lives…)


Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, who won the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature, was born June 7, 1952. Pamuk teaches comp. lit. and writing at Columbia University in the City of New York…

The Nobel Committee gave Pamuk the Prize, for being a writer “who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures” (Source)

Photo by Isolde Ohlbaum


Today’s conference motto:

Drink today, and drown all sorrow;
You shall perhaps not do it tomorrow;
Best, while you have it, use your breath;
There is no drinking after death

— Ben Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – 1637)


Once again we celebrate the birthday of the great Irish nationalist and Modernist poet, William Butler Yeats (June 13, 1865 - 1939)…

To A Young Girl

My dear, my dear, I know
More than another
What makes your heart beat so;
Not even your own mother
Can know it as I know,
Who broke my heart for her
When the wild thought,
That she denies
And has forgot,
Set all her blood astir
And glittered in her eyes.


Fernando Pessoa, the great Portuguese Modernist, who invented multiple poetic personae, was born June 13, 1888 (d. 1935)…

Fernando Pessoa:

I don’t know how many souls I have.
I’ve changed at every moment.
I always feel like a stranger.
I’ve never seen or found myself.
From being so much, I have only soul.
A man who has soul has no calm.
A man who sees is just what he sees.
A man who feels is not who he is.

Attentive to what I am and see,
I become them and stop being I.
Each of my dreams and each desire
Belongs to whoever had it, not me.
I am my own landscape,
I watch myself journey -
Various, mobile, and alone.
Here where I am I can’t feel myself.

That’s why I read, as a stranger,
My being as if it were pages.
Not knowing what will come
And forgetting what has passed,
I note in the margin of my reading
What I thought I felt.
Rereading, I wonder: “Was that me?”
God knows, because he wrote it.

© Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith
From: Fernando Pessoa & Co. – Selected Poems
Publisher: Grove Press, New York, 1998


Symbols? I’m sick of symbols…
Some people tell me that everything is symbols.
They’re telling me nothing.

What symbols? Dreams…
Let the sun be a symbol, fine…
Let the moon be a symbol, fine…
Let the earth be a symbol, fine…
But who notices the sun except when the rain stops
And it breaks through the clouds and points behind its back
To the blue of the sky?
And who notices the moon except to admire
Not it but the beautiful light it radiates?
And who notices the very earth we tread?
We say earth and think of fields, trees and hills,
Unwittingly diminishing it,
For the sea is also earth.

Okay, let all of this be symbols.
But what’s the symbol – not the sun, not the moon, not the earth –
In this premature sunset amidst the fading blue
With the sun caught in expiring tatters of clouds
And the moon already mystically present at the other end of the sky
As the last remnant of daylight
Gilds the head of the seamstress who hesitates at the corner
Where she used to linger (she lives nearby) with the boyfriend who left her?
Symbols? I don’t want symbols.
All I want – poor frail and forlorn creature! –
Is for the boyfriend to go back to the seamstress.

— Fernando Pessoa, as Alvaro de Campos

Yasunari Kawabata (June 14, 1899 - 1972) was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968 (“for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”), the first Japanese author to receive the award.

“In the depths of the mirror the evening landscape moved by, the mirror and the reflected figures like motion pictures superimposed one on the other. The figures and the background were unrelated, and yet the figures, transparent and intangible, and the background, dim in the gathering darkness, melted into a sort of symbolic world not of this world. Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the center of the girl’s face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of it.” — Snow Country, Yasunari Kawabata

Yasunari Kawabata, between 1929-1934 - A picture taken during the time he was living at Sakuragi-cho in Ueno…

Celebrating the birthday of Igor Stravinsky (June 17, 1882 – 1971), Russian-American composer…

I love the caption to this photo, originally published by Tom Sutpen, The Gunslinger:

“Badass composer Igor Stravinsky holds a negative view of W.A. Mozart”


“Pas de Deux” from Apollon Musagète by Igor Stravinsky [1928] performed by Sandor Végh and the Salzburg Camerata Academica [1995]

(via musichistory)



Gone: Portuguese Nobel Laureate José Saramago (November 16, 1922 – June 18, 2010)…

“In the end we discover the only condition for living is to die.”Jose Saramago



Jean-Paul Sartre (born 21 June, 1905; died 15 April, 1980)

‘First, what do we mean by anguish? – The existentialist frankly states that man is in anguish. His meaning is as follows: When a man commits himself to anything, fully realising that he is not only choosing what he will be, but is thereby at the same time a legislator deciding for the whole of mankind – in such a moment a man cannot escape from the sense of complete and profound responsibility. There are many, indeed, who show no such anxiety. But we affirm that they are merely disguising their anguish or are in flight from it. Certainly, many people think that in what they are doing they commit no one but themselves to anything: and if you ask them, “What would happen if everyone did so?” they shrug their shoulders and reply, “Everyone does not do so.” But in truth, one ought always to ask oneself what would happen if everyone did as one is doing; nor can one escape from that disturbing thought except by a kind of self-deception. The man who lies in self-excuse, by saying “Everyone will not do it” must be ill at ease in his conscience, for the act of lying implies the universal value which it denies. By its very disguise his anguish reveals itself. This is the anguish that Kierkegaard called “the anguish of Abraham.” ‘

—from Existentialism is a Humanism (1946; translated from the French by Philip Mairet)


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