Dinner Dec 18 @ 10PM

Baked chicken and potatoes. Took the recipe from here, and the Italian dressing recipe from here. Changed a couple of things here and there. Pretty decent overall. Took a fast picture, not great but it is only to have a quick idea.

Songs that played randomly during my dinner:

And


You traveled far
What have you found
That there’s no time
There’s no time
To analyse
To think things through
To make sense


Yeah Thom, precisely.

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Influences – Fuseli & Blake

Since I mentioned in my previous post how the British painter Henry Fuseli (the guy that painted the hyper-famous “The Nightmare”) was an important influence on the great William Blake, I decided to put here some examples.

Fuseli’s painting on Hamlet confronting the ghost of his father

reminds me a lot of Blake’s style; as in for instance “The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve”:

Continue reading

Limits


It makes sense that the famous inscription “Know Thyself” at the Temple of Apollo, at Delphi meant: “you are not a God, so you better chill out”. Or something like that. It is nonetheless remarkable that it could also be applied to the Gods themselves, and I cannot think of a case more paradigmatic than the one of Sarpedon. He is a son of almighty Zeus, but even the God himself feels powerless against his tragic destiny (Sarpedon is killed in battle by Patroclus):

“My cruel fate…
My Sarpedon, the man I love the most, my own son—
doomed to die at the hands of Menoetius’ son Patroclus” (1)

He thinks for a minute whether he should save Sarpedon, but Hera convinces him not to (unsurprisingly, since Sarpedon was the offspring of one of Zeus’s love affairs), less he wants to enrage the other Gods (they are losing their own sons at the battlefield too)

No,
dear as he is to you, and your heart grieves for him,
leave Sarpedon there to die in the brutal onslaught,
beaten down at the hands of Menoetius’ son Patroclus.
But once his soul and the life force have left him,
send Death to carry him home, send soothing Sleep,
all the way till they reach the broad land of Lycia (1)

That is exactly what ends up happening after the battle, and that is the subject of the Henry Fuseli painting shown above (the influence of Fuseli on Blake is quite apparent on that painting).

In some ways it brings to my mind the marriage of Henry VIII with Anne of Cleves. Though he liked her when he saw a painting of her done by Hans Holbein the Younger (the same guy who painted that incredible double portrait called “The Ambassadors”, a perfect summary of what the Renaissance was all about), Henry was less than impressed when he got  to meet her for the first time. Despite this he went on to marry her, even when he was one of the most powerful men in the world and we tend to think (wrongly) that perhaps he could have said “no way!!!”. The marriage was doomed of course, though compared to some of his other wives she ended up with a pretty sweet deal.

It is like the myth of Midas, or the story of Damocles and the sword. It may look great from the outside, but nobody, not even the Kings or Gods, can have it all.

The dream of a Sultan
The dream of a Sultan
His sad awakening
His sad awakening
He had nothing
A garden with roses and fountains
A garden with roses and fountains
A Moorish girl is dancing

His sad awakening
His sad awakening
He had nothing

lamma bada tasana
aman, aman, aman,
aman, aman, aman (2)

(1) Taken from The Iliad, book 16. translation by Robert Fagles

(2) Radio Tarifa, my own translation. I am not sure about Morita; it can be a name, but I have decided to go for a moorish girl dancing, since the root of that word is the one for moro (moor). I have no clue what the words at the end of the song mean.

On a random note; we can also find the figure of Death and Sleep in the poem Queen Mab, by Shelley:

How wonderful is Death,
Death, and his brother Sleep!
One, pale as yonder waning moon
With lips of lurid blue;
The other, rosy as the morn
When throned on ocean’s wave
It blushes o’er the world;
Yet both so passing wonderful!

H

To my College friend H, who died yesterday in a traffic accident while driving his bike, leaving behind his wife and two small kids. Just one more example of how retarded this life is.

And Death Shall Have No Dominion (by Dylan Thomas)

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

 

Souad Massi – Raoui

When I first heard this I thought it was a slow fado, but it turned out to be an Algerian singer. I found a translation of the lyrics here, and they could not fit the song better (provided they are correct, I cannot comment on that!)

Lyrics:

Oh storyteller tell us a story
Make it a tale
Tell me about the people of old
Tell me about 1001 Nights
And about Lunja daughter of the Ghoul
And about the son of the Sultan

I’m about to tell a story
Take us far from this world
I’m about to tell a story
Everyone of us has a story in his heart

Narrate and forget we’re adults
In your mind we’re young
Tell us about heaven and hell
About the bird that never flew in his life
Make us understand the meaning of the world

Oh storyteller tell it just as they told you
Don’t add anything, don’t leave anything out
We could see into your mind
Narrate to make us forget this time
Leave us in the world of once upon a time

Paul, by Caravaggio

The Conversion of Saint Paul (I don’t know why it is called “Conversion on the Way to Damascus” in English, that is the theme, but not the name of the painting), by Caravaggio. In this version (he had two very  different versions, as far as I know, and this one is the last one), Caravaggio follows an earlier painting by Alessandro Bonvicino, but adds his own incredible twist, of course. Caravaggio’s typical dark atmosphere is there, and the angle of the painting is remarkable. We can see Paul as a young Roman official on his way to persecuting Christians, just  fallen to the ground after seeing a blinding divine light. The painting beautifully demonstrates that, keeping the painting dark except for that ray of light that goes straight to Paul. We can see him with his eyes closed, but receiving the message with his arms wide open

Afterwards, Paul proceeded to write that Billboard Hit that is the Epistle to the Corinthians:

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

(1 Corinthians 13; American Standard Version)

Blindness

I have never been a fan of U2, but I did like Achtung Baby, back in the day. This one is my favorite song from the recently released tribute album Ahk-toong Bay-bi Covered. Love is Blindness, by Jack White

 

Errors

From De Profundis, the heartwrenching letter written by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, while imprisoned at Reading:

The fatal errors of life are not due to man’s being unreasonable: an unreasonable moment may be one’s finest moment. They are due to man’s being logical.

On Travelling

Two views on travelling, by two disparate writers (an outstanding one and a… well… one that is not in that league)

1) Ithaca, by Constantine P. Cavafy

When you set sail for Ithaca,
wish for the road to be long,
full of adventures, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
an angry Poseidon — do not fear.
You will never find such on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, and your spirit
and body are touched by a fine emotion.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
a savage Poseidon you will not encounter,
if you do not carry them within your spirit,
if your spirit does not place them before you.
Wish for the road to be long.
Many the summer mornings to be which with
pleasure, with joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase the fine goods,
nacre and coral, amber and ebony,
and exquisite perfumes of all sorts,
the most delicate fragances you can find,
to many Egyptian cities you must go,
to learn and learn from the cultivated.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your final destination.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better for it to last many years,
and when old to rest in the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to offer you wealth.
Ithaca has given you the beautiful journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road.
Nothing more has she got to give you.
And if you find her threadbare, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

2) (entry from The Book of Disquiet, by Fernando Pessoa)

Travel? One need only exist to travel. I go from day to day, as from station to station, in the rain of my body or my destiny, leaning out over the streets and squares, over people’s faces and gestures, always the same and always different, just like scenery. If I imagine, I see. What more do I do when I travel? Only extreme poverty of the imagination justifies having to travel to feel. ‘Any road, this simple Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end of the World. But the end of the world, when we go around it full circle, is the same Entepfuhl from which we started out. The end of the world, like the beginning, is in fact our concept of the world. It is in us that the scenery is scenic. If I imagine it, I create it; if I create it, it exists; if it exists, then I see it like any other scenery. So why travel? In Madrid, Berlin, Persia, China, and at the North or South Pole, where would I be but in myself, and in my particular type of sensations? Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveller. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.

1) I took this translation from Wikipedia

2) From The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith

* Taken from the Scottish writer, Thomas Carlyle:

With amazement, I began to discover that Entepfuhl  stood in the middle of a country, of a world. … It was then that, independently of Schiller’s Wilhelm TelI, made this not quite insignificant  reflection (so true also in spiritual things): Any road, this simple
Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end of the world!