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Lo primordial, hermanos míos, no es nuestro sufrimiento, sino cómo lo llevamos a lo largo de la vía.

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Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

🦋 The experience of deafness and blindness: 3 takes

Fini Straubinger:

Saramago (in Pontiero's translation):

The blind man had categorically stated that he could see, if you'll excuse that verb again, a thick, uniform white color, as if he had plunged his eyes into a milky sea. A white amaurosis, apart from being etymologically a contradiction, would also be a neurological possibility, since the brain, which would be unable to perceive the images, forms, and colors of reality, would likewise be incapable, in a manner of speaking, of being covered in white, a continuous white, like a white painting without tonalities, the colors, forms and images which reality itself might present to someone with normal vision, however difficult it may be to speak, with any accuracy, of normal vision.
Borges (and guess how excited I am to find the Seven Nights lectures online! At least one of them...):

posted evening of August 31st, 2010: Respond
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🦋 Life is...

At Cat and Girl, Dorothy offers some Metaphors, Cheap! Plus, for only slightly more money than the metaphors, you can purchase Volume III of Cat and Girl's (and Grrl's, and Boy's, and Bad Decision Dinosaur's) insights. Order now and get your copy personalized.

(And on the webcomix tip, today's Scenes from a Multiverse is hilarious and a bit Borgesian, if you read it the right way.)

posted morning of August 31st, 2010: Respond
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Sunday, August 29th, 2010

🦋 Trespass

Marc at the Wooster Collective announces a new collaborative book on urban art, Trespass: a History of Uncommissioned Urban Art. You can leaf through a sample of the book at Taschen.

Update: The launch party is Tuesday evening, September 28th, in Soho.

posted evening of August 29th, 2010: Respond
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🦋 The Hard Way

This is not to say that the point of the hard way is that we must be heroic. The attitude of "heroism" is based upon the assumption that we are bad, impure, that we are not worthy, are not ready for spiritual understanding. We must reform ourselves, be different from what we are. For instance, if we are middle class Americans, we must give up our jobs or drop our of college, move out of our suburban homes, let our hair grow, perhaps try drugs. If we are hippies, we must give up drugs, cut our hair short, throw away our torn jeans. We think that we are special, that we are turning away from temptation. We become vegetarians and we become this and that. There are so many things to become. We think our path is spiritual because it is literally against the flow of what we used to be, but it is merely the way of false heroism, and the only one who is heroic in this way is ego.

-- Chögyam Trungpa,
Cutting through Spiritual Materialism

posted afternoon of August 29th, 2010: Respond
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Thursday, August 26th, 2010

🦋 Early Color

Some stunning shots of Russia and its people, from the first decade of the 20th Century, at's Big Picture. The photographer is Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii:

Prokudin-Gorskii riding on the Murmansk rail outside Petrozavodsk: 1910

The pictures were taken before the advent of color film, using three exposures through different filters -- this absolutely blows me away. The Library of Congress has more information about Prokudin-Gorskii's method.

(Also: Gizmodo has some of the very earliest color motion pictures, from 1922!)

posted evening of August 26th, 2010: Respond
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🦋 Big Bugs

pulex irritans: photo by Steve Gschmeissner

In today's Telegraph, a photo gallery of arthropoda at outlandish magnifications.

posted evening of August 26th, 2010: Respond

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

🦋 Fuzzy Felt

A new Moomin movie has come out! Well -- "new" needs a little qualification here; the movie is compiled clips from the Fuzzy Felt Moomins TV show of the '70's, with new voices and soundtrack (featuring Björk). It came out in Finland a few weeks ago, and the production company says it will be distributed internationally... I can only hope it will be in theaters here sometime this fall. (The same company released a Moominsummer Madness movie a couple of years ago, which I did not hear a word about. But they seem to have ramped up a good deal more publicity for this one.)

posted evening of August 24th, 2010: Respond
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Monday, August 23rd, 2010

🦋 Bilingual editions

"Or discendiam qua giù nel cieco mondo,"
cominciò il poeta tutto smorto.
"Io sarò primo, e tu sarai secondo."
'Now let us descend into the blind world
down there,' began the poet, gone pale.
'I will be first and you come after.'
In Borges' lecture on the Commedia, he says that his experience of reading the Italian text with a parallel, line-by-line translation taught him that "a translation cannot be a replacement for the original text: the translation may however serve as a means, a stimulus to bring the reader closer to the original." This seems arguable to me as applied to translations in general,* though I'm pretty sympathetic to the thought; but I think there's no arguing with the idea that this is the proper role for a bilingual edition of poetry, to bring the reader closer to the original, foreign text.

Last night Borges' lecture on Nightmares sent me off to review Canto IV of Inferno; I was reading it in the Princeton Dante Project's bilingual edition, and finding to my happy surprise that I could follow the Italian pretty well, using Borges' method of reading a tercet at a time slowly in Italian, then in English, then in Italian... This evening I wanted to take another look at the canto and sat down with Pinsky's translation (which is published as a bilingual edition), and discovered that a poetic translation does not serve the function of a parallel translation. Not recommended -- I am finding it strange that Farrar, Straus & Giroux thought it would be a good idea to print the original and Pinsky's translation side by side. Back to the bare-bones parallel translation for me, thanks. Below the fold is Vittorio Sermonti reading Canto IV -- his reading is slow enough and clear enough that I was able to follow along in the text and have a fair idea which word was which...

posted evening of August 23rd, 2010: Respond
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Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

🦋 Nightmare

Some beautiful stuff in this piece from Seven Nights. (Some nice writing about this lecture at I've Been Reading Lately.)

Yo he tenido -- y tengo -- muchas pesadillas. A la más terrible, la que me parecío la más terrible, la usé para un soneto. Fue así: yo estaba en mi habitación; amanecía (posiblemente ésa era la hora en el sueño), y al pie de la cama estaba un rey, un rey muy antiguo, y yo sabía en el sueño que era un rey del Norte, de Noruega. No me miraba: fijaba su mirada ciega en el cielorraso. Yo sabía que era un rey muy antiguo porque su cara era imposible ahora. Entonces sentí el terror de esa presencia. Veía al rey, veía su espada, veía su perro. Al cabo, desperté. Pero seguí viendo el rey por un rato, porque me había impressionado. Referido, mi sueña es nada; soñado, fue terrible. I've had -- I continue to have -- many nightmares. The most fearsome, the one which has always caused me the most fear, I used it for a sonnet.* Here it is: I was in my room, towards dawn (this was the hour in the dream, I believe), and at the foot of my bed there was a king, an ancient king; I knew in the dream that he was a northern king, a Norwegian king. He did not look on me: his gaze was fixed blindly on the ceiling. I knew he was an ancient king, for his face was one that would be unthinkable today. Then I felt the horror of his presence. I was looking at the king, looking at his sword, at his dog. At the end of all this I awoke. But I lay continuing to think of the king for a while; he made an impression on me. Retold, my dream is meaningless; dreamt, it was fearsome.
I love the way Borges discounts this imagery in his final sentence -- it is similar to the first few lines of his story Ragnarök (a story which I hold out hope that Winston Rowntree someday will decide to illustrate).

*What poem is he speaking of here? Anybody with knowledge about this (or whether this is a red herring) speak up in comments please. The only reference to a Norwegian king I can find in his poems is in El reloj de arena when he speaks of the Saxon king Harold offering Harald Hardrada "six feet of English soil."

posted evening of August 22nd, 2010: Respond
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Saturday, August 21st, 2010

🦋 Minimal

A series of interesting posts about emptiness, at Montevidayo (which if you're not reading it, as Blake Butler notes at HTMLGiant, you should start now) by Joyelle McSweeney and Sami Sjoberg: IntimationsImpressions of Emptiness; More Nothing; No Such Thing as Minimalism.

posted evening of August 21st, 2010: Respond
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