Friday, 25 December 2009

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Is another world possible?



The president Chavez has accused the capitalism of the planet destruction.

On the other side the last edition of the hour of the planet has been today. The centre of this event has been Copenhagen (because nowadays the summit of the climate is taken place there. For one hour lights keep off. The point is the energy waste is killing our planet.

Both the president Chavez and the environmental event show the same thought. The problem that we are faced is not related to the moment but systemic. It is our way to manage the planet resources (our consumer-based economy) what causes the Earth destruction.

In my opinion turning off the light for an hour is not enough. It is just a goodwill gesture. What we have to do is to rethink our system. The president Chavez is also part of this system and his power is built on the world economic game based on oil.

A shortcut in consumption would imply a drop in production. Then the unemployment would increase and an economic contraction. We can not cause this while we live in a world in which you need of working to live.

But what would it happen if we give up behaviours such as: greed, ostentation, envy, etc. Unless we change our minds we never start to use the technology to make the life of every human being easier.

Unless the current way to understand the life is changed, we will not be able to avoid the planet destruction.

What would it happen if every human being were free food, housing, clothes, education and health cares. What if every man and woman were part of the society and had its relations

Are we allowed to live this way or someone would start a great war.

If then, are we free or are hostages of dangerous terrorists.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Copenhagen


Nowadays the world looks at Copenhagen. Millions of people hope the world leaders to be able to stop the crazy destruction of our planet. Politicians get on playing their strange poker though. They argument on figures and reports and negotiate reductions of emissions for money. The earth is far clearer than our wise men and women. I mean Katrina for example.

The same people who are at the mercy of the natural phenomenon are governments’ puppets. The people try to live but then an hurricane or a war or…

Human being should be together to make our life easy.

Please, give the planet a chance.

Imagine a world: no consumerism, no destruction, no rapes, no torture, no violence, no war,…

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- 2

(The figure above shows the characters and their relationships.)

The story is set in a little southern town in the USA. I reckon the plot happens in the 40s or 50s.

The author tells us how the life in this town is. She does it using five main characters. There is a central character called Mr Singer who is deaf-mute. This is very important for the novel structure. Thanks to being a deaf-mute he gets on with the other main characters because he always gives them his attention and never bores them with his conversation.


Saturday, 5 December 2009

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- 1


In the summer of 2008 I was travelled along California (in USA). One of my stops was in Santa Cruz. I am a bookaholic so I always visit bookstores when I arrive in a town.

In this little town there is a good bookshop “Bookshop Santa Cruz” in which I found this book. It was a used copy so it was really cheap.

I buy a lot of books and it is normal I don't read them for months or even years. This is the reason why this novel has been waiting in a shelf in my houses near to a year until I have read it.

Why did I buy this book? I had an intuition. Maybe because of its title, maybe because of the sad look of the author in the cover photograph.

After reading this novel I have to say it is amazing, it is actually better than what I could wait before reading.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Doors

What are you most proud
of in your life?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

She shut her eyes and went into her inside room.


The sentence that I have used to title my post is from Mick.

She is one of the main characters of the book “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. It is my intention to write a longer post on this amazing book in a few days but now I only want to use this sentence to think about.

Do you have an inside room? I think so. I suppose you have a secret part in your mind reserved to keep your memories and intimate feelings. A place where you take shelter when you need it. Me too.

It is a quiet place where you go when you stop for thinking and dreaming. For most of us, this is a place in which we hide from the rest of the world to find ourselves.

No sounds, no lights. Our eyed are closed. Then we become aware of what we really are. We are human beings who are living a lonely and short life.

Sorry but it is autumn in my town.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Poets 1: Walt Whitman


Why
This post is the first of a series of them dedicates to talk about poets and poesy.

To start with, I have chosen the American writer Walt Whitman and his mythical book “Leaves of Grass”.

I found Walt Whitman out when I was a teenager. The first time I read "Leaves of Grass" his verses had a profound effect on me. This is undoubtedly a cult book that shows a vitalist and optimistic way to live.

Brief Biography
Walt Whitman was born on 31st of March of 1819 in a farm of West Hills, near to Huntington, Long Island.
Between 1830 and 1834 he learnt the job of printer.
Between 1836 and 1838 he taught in several schools in Long Island.
After then, he published a monthly magazine called “The Long Islander” in Huntington but two years later he came back to the teaching. By this time he also published sort stories in “Democratic Review”.
In 1842 Whitman worked as editor manager at The Aurora and The Tatler and published a novel against the acohol called “Frankin Evans”.
Between 1842 and 1848 he was the editor manager at Daily Eagle.
In 1848 he travelled to New Orleans where he was the editor manager at Daily Crescent. Whitman was fired because of political reasons and, after working at the Brooklyn Freeman came back to New York where worked as a carpenter in its family-run company.
By those years he also wrote poems and in 1855 he self-published “Leaves of Grass”. His book was well received by the critics and in the year 1856 the second edition was published.
He continued his career as a journalist and the third edition of “Leaves of Grass” came out in 1860.
On 12th of April of 1861 the Civil War broke out. A year later Whitman visited his brother who had been wounded in the front. He also visited other hospitals of Army.
In 1865 he got a position in the Department of the Interior but was fired again because the Interior Secretary considered “Leaves of grass” an obscene book.
Along the following years several books by Whitman were published.
In 1867 the fourth edition of “Leaves and Grass” came out, in 1871-73 the fifth one, in 1876 the sixth one, in 1881-82 the seventh, in 1888 the eighth one and in 1891 the ninth one. Along the editions, Whitman did some modifications.
On 26th of March of 1892, Walt Whitman died and was buried in the Harleigh Cemetery of Candem into a grave designed by himself.

Texts
I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
(***)
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun
there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand
nor look through the eyes of the dead
nor feed on spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.
Out of the dimness opposite equals advance
Always substance and increase,
Always a knit of identity
Always distinction
Always a breed of life
To elaborate is no avail
Learned and unlearned feel that it is so
(***)
None obeyed the command to kneel,
Some made a mad and helpless rush… some stood stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart… the living and dead lay together,
The maimed and mangled dug in the dirt… the new comers saw them there;
Some half-killed attempted to crawl away,
These were dispatched with bayonets or battered with the blunts of muskets;
A youth not seventeen years old seized his assassin till two more came to release him,
The three were all torn, and covered with the boy’s blood.
(***)
Here and there with dimes on the eyes walking,
To feed the greed of the belly the brains liberally spooning,
Tickets buying or talking or selling, but in to the feast never once going;
Many sweating and ploughing and thrashing, and then the chaff for payment receiving,
A few idly owning, and they wheat continually claiming.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Picasso's Look on War


Gernika,

..., which has to be seen to believed,

for it serves as a great warning

against terrorism, violence and war.

Brendan Behan's New York
by Brendan Behan

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Is Poetry Only for Women?


Leafing through a magazine yesterday, I found a reader’s letter in which a guy said such an opinion.

According to this man, only women have sensibility enough to feel poems. My first reaction was think “such a silly idea!”

Thinking back on it I guess that the man’s problem is he hasn’t read poetry. Talking about poetry as if there is only one poetry is actually ridiculous and shows a lack of culture.

I would like to talk with that man and to ask him some questions.

First of all, how many poems have you read in your life?

Second, do you like music? What about the rock and roll music? Do you like this kind of music? Do you like their lyrics? Aren’t these lyrics poems?

When I am still a young man, I like an American music group called “The Doors”. Their lyrics were full of sex, love, death, … The singer of the group actually had a life as the romantic writers have.

As I was interested in this singer, called Jim Morrison, I picked some books up from the public library and learnt more on him. This way I found the connection between him and William Blake and Dylan Thomas. And reading poems written by those poets I arrived to Allen Ginsberg (and his amazing poem Howl!). After reading the Ginsberg poems I started with other poets and novelists of the Beat Generation.

On the other hand, somebody lent me the book “Poet in New York” by Federico García Lorca. This book was written in the twenties of the 20th century but it is still as strong as if it were written today and it sounds current and fresh. I know some famous music stars like Leonard Cohen are fond of this book. I know what is the reason for this.

In short there are poems for everyone and for every time. Maybe one day you read the following and don’t feel anything,… or maybe start to cry:

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by

madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn

looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly

connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night

[…]

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Underground by Haruki Murakami

In the morning of Monday 20th of March of 1995 a group of members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo put several packs of sarin, a poison gas, in the Tokyo’s subway system.

As a result twelve people died and hundred were wounded.

The Japanese well-known writer Haruki Murakami, author of novels such as The Wind Up Bird Chronicle or Norwegian Wood, was shocked by this news and decided to write about it.

This book is the result of his work. In my opinion the book is divided in three parts. The first one is shaped by the testimony of some of the victims. The second one is a transition between the first one and the third one. In it Mr Murakami explain his
reasons to write this book and try to justify why he has included the last part. As the writer says since the subtitle of his book “The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche” he is not only interested in knowing more about the terrorist attack but he want to make the following question: Does all Japanese society reflected in what happened this day?

Moreover he, as a novelist, is interested in the fact that people need to built “narratives” to explain their lifes. This idea has interesting consequences as the following paragraph shows:

“Haven’t you offered up some part of your Self to someone (or something), and taken on a “narrative” in return? Haven’t we entrusted some part of our personality to some greater System or Order? And if so, has not that System at some stage demanded of us some kind of “insanity”? Is the narrative you now possess really and truly you own? Are you dreams really your own dreams? Might not they be someone else’s visions that could sooner or later return into nightmares?”

The last part of the book is shaped by the testimony of some members of the group Aum Shinrikyo. It is not about to understand their reasons. It is only for knowing how ordinary people can join an organization like this.

Although I recommend you this book, I have to warn you that this is not another Murakami’s novel but an essay really hard because is about a terrible terrorist attack.

I wait for your comments.
Thanks in advance

Saturday, 17 October 2009

ALEJANDRA PIZARNIK


Do you know Alejandra Pizarnik?

She was an Argentinean woman poet. As a poetess, she was too much good. I mean she could feel too much. She killed herself when sadness was stronger than her.

I do not know how many of her books have been translated into English. I have always read her in Spanish.

I knew her thanks to Julio Cortázar. In my opinion Mr. Cortázar (from now on “Julio”) was one of the best writers. Julio and Ms. Pizarnik (from now on Alejandra) had a strange relationship. I think they never were lovers but there was a strong connection between them. A few days before killing herself, Alejandra sent Julio a very disturbing letter and attached a photo of her nude.

But what is really important is that she was one of the best writers in the last century.

The following is a little example of her poesy (I would like to know your opinion):

ASHES

The night splintered into stars

watching me dazzled

the air hurls hate

its face embellished with music.

We will go soon

Secret dream

ancestor of my smile

the world is emaciated

and there is a lock but no keys

and there is terror but not tears.

What will I do with myself?

Because to You I owe what I am

But I have no tomorrow

Because to You I...

The night suffers.

You can find a lot of information on Alejandra on Internet. I recommend you this blog: http://www.patriciaventi.blogspot.com/ (but most texts are in Spanish).

Saturday, 10 October 2009

In Suddenly


Last Friday Barak Obama was given the Nobel Prize. When I knew the news, my first thought was “which of them?”.

I remember he has wrote at least two books so I thought to myself he could have won the literature one.

This can appear a silly idea but in my opinion it is stranger to win the Peace one when the winner has only been nine months in charge of the USA. I hope Obama to get a lot of important achievements but it is too soon.

However I trust Mr. Obama and I would like him to win the Peace prize but in eight years' time.

I have chosen this title because I read those words in the headline of The New York Times. And, because this pretend to be a literary blog, I want to remember a very good play titled “Suddenly Last Summer” by Tennessee Williams, I recommend it to you.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Seven Houses in France

The author of this book is Bernardo Atxaga. He is one of the best Basque writers.

With his first novel, called Obabakoak, he won several awards such as Euskadi Prize, Prize of the Critique, Prize Millepages and the Spanish National Prize of Narrative.

He has won more awards such as the National Prize of the Critique in Basque language (for his novel Esos cielos) and the Grinzane Cavour Prize and the Mondello Prize for “The accordionist’s son”. He also won the Cesare Pavese Prize for his poetry book “Poemas e híbridos”.

Moreover the Basque film director Montxo Armendariz made a film based on “Obabakoak”. Mr. Armendariz is a well-known film director who was nominated to a Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1998 with his film “Secret of the Heart”.

The story unfolds in Yangambi beside to the Congo River at the very beginning of the past century. At that time this part of Africa was dominated by the king Leopold II of Belgium. With the background of the jungle, the reader knows the life of a group of soldiers.

The captain Lalande Biran is a poet. He is in charge of detachment. The main work of the army is sending stuff such as ivory, natural rubber and mahogany to its mother country. But Mr. Biran and other officers steal part of these materials to make themselves rich men.

Mr Van Thiegel, also known as "Coco", is at the captain's command. He is the darker character in this story. He was a legionary in the past and has been in the army for many years. He is envious and his thought are crazy. He is also dangerous and he will be the main cause of the final disaster.

Another character is Donatien. He is a big and strong man, but he is stupid too. In my opinion he is an example of owed obedience. The same owed obedience which did a lot of Germans helping Hitler in his terrible delirious.

These three people, and most of people in this book, did not think that the African people were human beings. Neither the king Leopold II did.

In every case of domination of a country by another, there are people who collaborate with the invaders. In this book this role is played by Livo. A Pygmy man who works for the Belgians until the drama is inevitable.

The most mysterious person in this novel is Chrysostome Liège. He is a soldier and in fact he is the best shooter. His behaviour is strange for the others. He is a lonely and silent man and appears not to be interested in women. However he lives the only real love story in the novel. His tidy mind is an island of sense among the inhabitants of Yangambi.

In spite of the cruel story in which this book is based on, it has humour and you can smile reading some episodes. For example when Van Thiegel is drunk or when a supposed trip of the king to Yangambi finishes in a trip of a bishop, a journalist and a statue of the Virgin Maria.

Reading this text you can know the thoughts of these people and their different points of view. Spying their mind you know their past and what they want to do in the future.

This book talks about the genocide which was done by the king Leopold II of Belgium. But there are also love stories, psychopaths, greedy people, etc.

Reading this book you can see how of different is what people think about a same fact. While one person is thinking in earn a lot of money to come back to his country, another one only thinks in looking for women and another one thinks in getting a bit of food for his family.

I recommend this book and the reading of “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad.

Maybe these readings change your mind about the European behaviour in Africa in the centuries XIX and XX.

(*) This book has originally been published in Basque. I have read the Spanish translation but I am not sure if it has already been published in English. If not, you can read some of the other books by Mr. Atxaga.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Tender is the Night. A Review

It is said this is one of the best romances by Scott Fitzgerald. It was published in 1934.

In my opinion the plot is divided into three parts. In the first one, the author describes the easy life of a group of wealthy people in the Mediterranean coast of France. The reader knows these characters through the innocent point of view of a young actress of 19 who falls in love with a doctor (Dick) older than her. Dick is married with Nicole and they are the main characters of this story. In fact, this is an autobiographical story in which Dick is Scott and Nicole is his wife Zelda.

The second part of the book is a flash back. Thanks to this flash back the reader knows how Dick and Nicole met each other. Dick was a psychiatrist and was called by a colleague to see one of his patients. She was Nicole and his illness was schizophrenia. In spite of knowing she was insane, he liked her and years later got married with her.

An important point in this story is that she has too much money because her father is a very rich man. Moreover there is a dirty secret between she and her father, which probably is the origin of her madness.

Along the romance, Dick is falling because their relationship is destructive. In the third part they split up. She goes with another man and Dick comes back to the United States.

This book is autobiographical. Scott Fitzgerald was alcoholic as Dick, the main character. And the Fitzgerald’s wife was schizophrenic as Dick’s wife is in the book.

This is a book about Love. What happens when the person you love is a mental sick? The most moving moments of this book are when Dick tries that their relation appears as normal. He wants to hide the strange behaviour of his wife. But this is not always possible.

Their children are silent witnesses who see the compulsive behaviour of their mother and smell the alcoholic breath of their father. In the descriptions of the children’s looks, you can see the worry of Scott about his daughter Scottie.

For me this is one of the best books I have ever read. After reading this romance I hope to read soon another text by this author, maybe The Great Gatsby.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Muslim Women on the Beach



It is more than 30ºC degree on the beach.

Sand is hot. The sun shines reflected on the sea.

People enjoy a summer afternoon.

Her little daughters and sons play and swim like other children.

Her husband wears short swimming trunks and looks at the beautiful women. They show her busts while they sunbathe.

Clothes cover all her body. Nobody can see her face because a veil covers it. She is only her frighten eyes. Nobody can know what colour her eyes are because they are in shadows.

This day goes away. At sunset I take this sad photograph.

(Maybe all of us should go to a desert to fight for this woman.)

(It happened in Marseille (France), in August 2009.)

Saturday, 5 September 2009

MAP OF THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO


Last Saturday I watched the film “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo” directed by Isabel Coixet.

I usually like this director’s films and this is one of her best works.

Although sounds are very important in this film, this is a movie about feelings and silences. This is about words never said. I remember the first film by Coixet which I watched some years ago: Things I Never Told You.

When you are a young person, you think everything is very important. Both what you do and what you don’t do is very important. When you are young, you live as if you only had one life. But you have to die very soon to live only one life. People usually live several lives. David, one of the main characters, lives three lives during this film.

When you get older you add new lives, new rooms in your mind. Some of these lives are longer than others; some of them are more reminded.

When you look back since your old age, to what of these lives will call “my life”? Who will have been more important for you?

Maybe, as the killer girl in the film, all of us should have a job which makes us not to think. All of us have graves to clean on Sunday.

This film is on general release in Spain but I don´t know if it is available in the USA or in other countries.

In short, this film is about a strange girl who has two jobs. Thanks one of them she makes money, the other one gives her peace. On the other side, the plot talked about a rich man, an important chairman, who has lost his only daughter. She has killed herself. Finally, the nexus between these two stories is David. He was the boyfriend of the dead daughter and he meets the strange girl.

For the final scene, Coixet has chosen a perfect song. This song is included in the last CD of Antony and the Johnsons: “One Dove”.

While I stayed on after the film to read the credits, I still heard in my mind this amazing song.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Last Soldier is dead.


Harry Patch (In memory of)

I am the only one that got through
The others died where ever they fell
It was an ambush
They came up from all sides
Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves
I've seen devils coming up from the ground
I've seen hell upon this earth
The next will be chemical but they will never learn

Radiohead

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8184000/8184802.stm?ls

Friday, 31 July 2009

Haruki Murakami



This person, this self, this me, finally, was made somewhere else. Everything had come from somewhere else, and it would all go somewhere else. I was nothing but a pathway for the person known as me.

...
Then it occured to me to worry about the air.

...
The mere act of opening my eyes was an impossibility.

...
I had to make this thing I called 'I'- or, rather, make the things that constituted me.

http://www.randomhouse.com/features/murakami/site.php?id=

Thursday, 30 July 2009

City Lights Bookstore



After crossing the Atlantic Ocean and the United States, we arrived in San Francisco. Like pilgrims, we visited the City Lights Bookstore and the Vesubio pub. I went up the stairs and I sat on a wooden chair. It was the first time I felt that city could be my place in the world. Surrounded by the silence I heard HOWL.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Jack Kerouac


What is that feeling when you're driving away
from people and they recede on the plain till
you see their specks dispersing?- It's the too-huge
world vaulting us, and it's good-bye.

On the road

Friday, 24 July 2009

Speeding kills bears

Last summer, I visited Yosemite Park in California. On the road you can see a lot of signs like this.
I was surprised when I knew the meaning.

Speeding cars hits dozens of black bears, hundreds of deer, and countless other animals on park roads every year.

The Red Bear, Dead Bear signs along park roads mark a place where a bear was recently hit.

Driving the speed limit can help save wild animals.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

A man from Pamplona on Ernest Hemingway

It’s a man. It is actually the head of a man, a strong man. Somebody told me he was a writer and I thought “like me”.

Years later, I found his name written on the cover of an old book.

Some people from my little town say that he was bad for us, they say his description of our fiesta was wrong.

Then I read:

“In the Basque country the land all looks very rich and green and the houses and villages look well-off and clean. Every village had a pelota court and on some of them kids were playing in the hot sun.”

Or:

“You could see the plateau of Pamplona rising out of the plain, and the walls of the city, and the great brown cathedral, and the broken skyline of the other churches. In back of the plateau were the mountains, and every way you looked there were other mountains, and ahead the road stretched out white across the plain going toward Pamplona.”

I can imagine Hemingway in the streets that the bulls pass along when they run early in the morning on their way to the ring.

The same streets I have walked along since I was a child.

He even said that he thought that the facade of the cathedral was ugly the first time he seen it but after he change his mind. I think this facade can only be beautiful for somebody who loved this town.

What about the fiesta?

As Hemingway said in “The Sun Also Rises":

“At noon of Sunday, the 6th of July, the fiesta exploded. There is no other way to describe it.”

Just Jazz

It is true that jazz can be listened in macro concerts or even in pretentious macro festivals.

But the Jazz, as I see it, must be another kind of experience. It evokes me a handful of people who follow the soft rhythm with their feet while drink and look at the musicians or close their eyes and dream.

Maybe, John Coltrane.

I imagine people who fall into a trance.

Out of the small and dark pub, it is likely raining.

From the darkness, some notes come… 

Everybody look everybody.

It is just jazz.

Friday, 26 June 2009

First text

My first words have to be sad and desperate.

What is the reason why people kill people around the world?

People are too fragile; just an outburst of anger is enough to take somebody's life.

Stupid riots because of sport or politic, jealous attacks, money matters,... all of these weak reasons can kill people.

Wars, violence state, crazy people who think to know the Truth… or something.

Embittered wises try to bury us alive with their absurd ideas about gods and hells.

If their madness was not killing people, we could smile when listen to them.


A young woman was alive and now is lied down on the road and spits blood.

I hope the next time my words to be happier and hopeful.

Thanks for listening to me.
(*) The classical Spanish writer called Quevedo said that reading is listening with eyes.

Goodbye for now.