The Fantastic Enumeración
Saturday, October 30, 2010
(Del lat. enumeratĭo, -ōnis).
1. f. Acción y efecto de enumerar.
2. f. Expresión sucesiva de las partes de que consta un todo, de las especies que comprende un género, etc.
3. f. Cómputo o cuenta numeral de las cosas.
4. f. Ret. Parte del epílogo de algunos discursos en que se repiten juntas, con brevedad, las razones antes expuestas separada y extensamente.
5. f. Ret. Figura que consiste en enumerar o referir rápida y animadamente varias ideas o distintas partes de un concepto o pensamiento general.
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados
For years I have been fascinated how certain authors (particularly those who write in Spanish or Portuguese) use a concept in Spanish called enumeración
(enumeration, perhaps in English?) in their novels. They might repeat the same word over and over (as Carpentier does with the word silver below) or it might be a list of books or occurrences that either are related or, sometimes are not. In particular I have noticed that enumeración is frequently used by writers who besides being novelists are poets, too, as is the case with Mexican author Homero Aridjis.
A couple of months ago my daughter Ale returned from Mexico and brought me Homero Aridjis’ latest novel Los Invisibles
which is about an invisible man living in contemporary Paris. In it, there is one fantastic enumeración of diseases real and imagined that delighted me. I then began to think that this had the makings of a blog. But no idea came up on how I could do it until Saturday. It was Saturday that I read about Mario Vargas Llosa’s lectures at Princeton in the New York Times. The Times gave a link for a video in which Vargas Llosa, to my delight, explains in Spanish the use the enumeración by Borges in his story , El Zahir
Vargas Llosa says:
Borges mezcla cosas absolutamente distintas con una ironía profunda. Este cuento es un cuento que usa muchísimo más que otros la enumeración. Hemos visto que la enumeración es un recurso borgiano al que Borges recurre constantemente.
Aquí en el Zahir hay enumeraciones continuamente. Son como cascadas de palabras que tienen un ritmo un poco encantatorio, una música, una música que concentra mucho la atención, que apela a nuestra sensibilidad, no solo conceptualmente por el contenido de palabras, sino por el ritmo, es un ritmo que nos va distrayendo, mareando, hipnotizando. Eso no es gratuito, eso consigue crear unos climas en los que para lectores, más admisible el hecho inusitado, extraordinario, sobrenatural o fantástico.
Borges mixes absolutely different things with a profound irony. This story [El Zahir] uses enumeración a lot more than in other stories. We have seen the enumeración is a Borgesian technique to which Borges recurs frequently. Here in the Zahir there are constant enumeraciones. They are like a waterfall of words which have an enchanting rhythm, a music, a music that which concentrates our attention, not only conceptually but also because of the word content. It is a rhythm that distracts us, makes us dizzy and hypnotizes us. It is not gratuitous; it manages to create a climate for readers in which the extraordinary, the supernatural and the fantastic become more admissible.
In Buenos Aires the Zahir is an ordinary coin worth twenty centavos. The Letters N T and the number 2 are scratched as if with a razor-blade or penknife; 1929 is the date on the obverse. (In Guzerat, towards the end of the eighteenth century, the Zahir was a tiger; in Java, a blind man from the Mosque of Surakarta whom the Faithful pelted with stones; in Persia, an astrolabe which Nadir Shaw caused to be sunk to the bottom of the sea; in the Mahdi’s prison, along about 1892, it was a little compass which Rudolf Carl von Slatin touched, tucked into the fold of a turban; in the Mosque of Cordova, according to Zotenberg, it was a vein in the marble of one of the twelve hundred pillars; in the Tetuán ghetti, it was the bottom of a well.) Today is the thirteenth of November; the Zahir came into my possession at dawn on June seventh. I am no longer the “I” of that episode; but it is still possible for me to remember what happened, perhaps even to tell it. I am still, however incompletely, Borges
El Zahir, Jorge Luís Borges
I asked for the brandy. They gave me the Zahir in my change. I stared at it for a moment and went into the street, perhaps with the beginning of a fever. I reflected that every coin in the world is a symbol of those famous coins which glitter in history and fable. I thought of Charon’s obol; of the obol for which Belisarius begged; of Judas’ thirty coins; of the drachmas of Laïs, the famous courtesan, of the ancient coin which one of the Seven Sleepers proffered; of the shining coins of the wizard in the 1001 Nights, that turned out to be bits of paper; of the inexhaustible penny of Isaac Laquedem, of the sixty thousand pieces of silver, one for each line of an epic, which Firdusi sent back to a king because they not of gold; of the doubloon which Ahab nailed to the mast; of Leopold Bloom’s irreversible florin; of the Louis whose pictured face betrayed the fugitive Louis XVI near Varennes. As if in a dream, the thought that every piece of money entails such illustrious connotations as these, seemed to me of huge, though inexplicable, importance.
The Zahir, Jorge Luís Borges
Of silver the slender knives, the delicate forks; of silver the salvers with silver trees chased in the silver of the hollows for collecting the gravy of roasts; of silver the triple-tiered fruit trays of three round dishes crowned by silver pomegranates; of silver the wine flagons hammered by craftsmen in silver; of silver the fish platters, a porgy of silver lying plumply on a seaweed lattice, of silver the saltcellars, of silver the nutcrackers, of silver the goblets, of silver the teaspoons engraved with initials…All these were being born gradually, without haste – carefully, so that silver should not bump against silver – toward the glum, waiting penumbras of wooden cases, of slatted crates, of chests with stout locks, overseen by the master in his dressing gown, who made the silver ring from time to time when he urinated with stately stream, copious and percussive, well aimed into a silver chamber pot, the bottom decorated with a roguish sliver eye soon blinded by the foam which, reflecting the silver so intensely , ultimately seemed silvered itself…
Concierto Barroco, Alejo Carpentier (translated by Asa Zatz).
- No quiero leer ahora.
- Te pareces a tu padre, tendrás sus padecimientos, heredarás sus fobias como heredaste sus chaquetas huérfanas, sus pantalones, sus calcetines, sus chalecos. Te recitaré la lista de males que te afligirán en un futuro próximo. Tu como él , estás expuesto a sufrir adiciones, artritis, hipertensiones, halitosis crónica, cortedad de aliento, gigantismo, dedo grande, coma diabético, silicosis y tuberculosis, colitis, anorexia, obesidad y colesterol, Parkinson, Alzheimer, sida, encefalitis, meningitis, malaria, infartos, cánceres, hipertrofia prostática, desórdenes de conducta, defectos hereditarios, amputaciones, biopsias y metástasis, quemaduras químicas del esófago, sordera y cataratas, bacterias aeróbicas, bacterias intestinales, mordidas de ratas y de cobras, síndrome de restaurante chino, alucinaciones esquizofrénicas, delirium vs demencia, alergias y fobias, objetos extraños en el recto, fractura de tobillos y de pómulo, de cadera y de mandíbula, de hombro y de vértebras, dolores de espalda, espasmos y pigmentación café de la cara, pérdida de pelo por quimioterapia, cambios en la nariz, afecciones al hígado, corazón, pulmones, ojos, oídos y piel, cánceres en el sistema digestivo y en el sistema reproductivo.
- Deténgase, padezco de hipocondría.
Los Invisibles, Homero Aridjis, 2010
|Homero Aridjis by Alex W-H|
I will not translate the above Aridjis litany of diseases (Chinese restaurant syndrome, snake and rat bite, etc.) Even in Spanish it is scary and funny. The passage begins with:
I don’t want to read now.
You are like your father. You will have his maladies. You will have his phobias like you inherited his orphan jackets…
And it ends:
Stop. I am a hypochondriac.
There is one more delightful enumeración from José Saramago’s The History of the Siege of Lisbon
which is about a proof-reader who decides to inject error into a textbook on the siege of Lisbon (occupied in 1147 by Muslim armies) by the King of Portugal:
One day, but Allah is greater, every proof-reader of books will have a computer at his disposal which he will connect umbilically, night and day to the central databank, so that all he, or we need worry about is that amongst these comprehensive data, no tempting error has crept in, like the devil invading a convent.
In any case, until that day comes, the books are here, like a pulsating galaxy, and the words, inside them, form another cosmic dust hovering in anticipation of that glance which will impose some meaning or will search therein for some meaning, for just as the explanations of the universe tend to vary, so does the statement that once seemed for ever immutable, suddenly offer another interpretation, the possibility of some latent contradiction, the evidence of his own error. Here in this study, where the truth can be no more than a face superimposed on endless different masks, stand the usual dictionaries and vocabularies of the Portuguese language. Morais, Aurélio, Moreno and Torrinha, several grammars, the Handbook of the Model Proof-Reader
, the vade-mecum of the profession, but there are also histories of Art, of the World in general, of the Romans, Persians, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs, Slavs and Portuguese, in short, of almost everything that constitutes and individual race and nation, and the histories of Science, Literature, Music, Religions, Philosophy, Civilization, the pocket Larousse,
the abridged Quillet,
the concise Robert
, the Encyclopedia of Politics
, the Luso
the Encyclopedia Britannica
, incomplete, the Dictionary of History and Geography
, a World Atlas on these subjects, that of João Soares, ancient, the Historical Yearbooks
, the Dictionary of Contemporaries
, the Universal Biography
, the Manual for Booksellers
, the Dictionary of Fable, the Dictionary of Mythology
, the Biblioteca Lusitana
, the Dictionary of Comparative Geography
l and Modern
, the Historical Atlas of Contemporary Studies
, the General Dictionary of Literature
, Fine Arts
and Political Sciences
, and, to conclude, not the general inventory, but what is most in evidence, the General Dictionary of Biography and History
, Mythology, Ancient and Modern Geography
, Antiquities and Greek, Roman, French and other Foreign Institutions
, without forgetting the Dictionary of Rarities, Inverisimilitudes and Curiosities
, which, a surprising coincidence, fits in perfectly with this adventurous account and contains as an example of error the affirmation by the wise Aristotle that the common domestic fly has four legs, an arithmetical reduction that subsequent authors continued to repeat for centuries thereafter, when even children knew from their cruel experiments that the fly has six legs, for since the time of Aristotle, they have been pulling them off and voluptuously counting one, two, three, four, five, six, but these very same children, when they grew up and came to read the Greek sage, said amongst themselves, The fly has four legs, such is the influence of learned authority, to such an extent is truth determined by certain lessons we are always being taught.
The History of the Siege of Lisbon, José Saramago, 1989, translated by Giovanni Pontiero
Vargas Llosa Lecture in Princeton
Rosemary Is Not Home Today
Friday, October 29, 2010
We woke up at 6:15. At 7 we were at the admissions desk of the Vancouver General Hospital. At 7:15 we were in the waiting room of the Pre-Palliative Operation area. At 8 they wheeled Rosemary away. I drove home in a melancholy way. On the way I was cheered up when I saw Rebecca waiting for her bus on Oak. I drove around the block and took her to school. “I danced with a boy, last night,” she told me. “He has auburn hair and his name is C.... I know everything,” I answered and added, “I just took Abbie to the hospital.” “Is she getting her lumpectomy today?” Rebecca asked. “Yes.”
As I write this I think that thankfully for me I have always had my mother around. This is because Rosemary has been my surrogate mother for 42 years. Rosemary was next to me, at home, in 1971 when my mother gave her last breath. Somehow that gasp of air, that whisp of soul, simply transferred from the one to the other.
All these years, Rosemary has done my taxes and worried about finances. It has been Rosemary who has made the important decisions that have in some helped us reach a level of success I would have never dreamed of. Rosemary made the decision to move from Mexico to Vancouver. It was Rosemary who suggested that we drive in our VW so that we would not have to buy a car on arrival. I remember Rosemary putting salt, pepper and even vinegar into our moving supplies that traveled here. It was Rosemary who figured we should move from our little home in Burnaby to our present location on Athlone Street. This decision might save us in the end as the house will eventually become the nest egg we never had which we “squandered” (not really) on trips with our daughters to Europe and Argentina and with Rebecca to Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico, Washington DC and Texas.
There have been more nights than I want to remember where I have been reading a novel in bed while Rosemary goes through piles of bills and figures out my GST and PST contributions to the government.
It was Rosemary who got me into gardening. Gardening has been a solace and a source of happiness, all that much better because we have shared it.
In many ways our beginning garden that has matured into the present one has represented our maturing relationship. Conflicts have all but disappeared and we agree on most everything, in the garden and out of it.
Rosemary has a small cancerous lump in her right breast. It seems to be on the surface and localized. I believe (and so do Rosemary and her surgeon) that once it is out, all will be fine again.
I told Rosemary a couple of weeks ago (something I have told her many times before) that anything over 50 years of existence is a free ride or yapa
(in Peruvian Spanish). My daughters became angry for that comment. They do not seem to understand that after so many years of living in Mexico I have a Mexican sense of death and its inevitability. I think it is healthy. But I can further add that it is so comforting to be married to someone not much younger than I am. We share ills and aches and pains.
We don’t have to vocalize our realization that we are not too far away from not being able to cope with the garden. This is the first year that I pruned the laurel hedge with electric clippers. I was always proud that I did it by hand. This time around a bad pain in my left elbow prevented me from using them. We transplanted a large clump of “dwarf” polygonatum a couple of day ago and the mound was almost too heavy for me to lift with the problem of my painful rheumatic pinkies. We share these pains and ills. It’s almost comforting.
When Rosemary went to work and I would be home, her presence in the house was palpable. Her shoes might be by the door, and her nightie on the bed. There would be half-empty coffee mugs all over the house and I would become angry at the waste of her silly addiction to decaf coffee!
Today the cats are on the bed. Do they know? Rosemary is away and I know. They will call me around 4 to pick her up. All I can do is wait. Everything will be fine. Ale will arrive from Lillooet in the evening. Tomorrow, as Rosemary convalesces with her cats by her side, I will take our special Halloween picture of Lauren and Rebecca. Life is just grand.
And it is only of late that I have taken up the task of taking out the garbage.
Hold That Thought
Thanks to Presidente de La República Argentina, Juan Domingo Perón I learned three very important values of which I have held two close to me all my life. Perón urged us to save money. I have ignored that. He told us that in Argentine the only privileged ones were children. I soundly agree and make sure I never ever tell anybody that I love (and that is of a certain young age) that they should grow up. The last piece of advice (one the old general did not follow as her burned many before the fall of his regime) is that books were sacred and that they should be read, and taken care of. To damage a book was heresy. We were told never to write in them or to mark our places by folding corners. He stressed, “Books are sacred.”
Through the years I have used all kinds of bookmarks. They have been made of Argentine leather, Chilean copper, Mexican silver and even fake gold plated Chinese brass. Most have disappeared when they fell from a book or I gave the marker away.
I have a collection ( I never meant to collect them) of book markers from Duthie Books and from other bookstores I gave my patronage. Some of my bookmarks came from used books from such places as Dubuque, Iowa or Barcelona.
With books in jeopardy and bookstores in decline I now keep my bookmarks as valuable possessions in my middle desk drawer.
I have of late used my photo postcards as book marks. I have many of them so I can afford to lose them. And I mark passages that I want to remember using the little multi-colours plastic adhesive Post-its that were recommended to me years ago by my friend Mark Budgen.
It was last week when I visited Lee Valley with my eldest daughter Ale that I discovered this little cute metal tin that contains 12 little magnetic book markers. They open up like hinges and when you insert them into the top of a page, one side latches on to the other, through the page with magnetic suction. I love them. I think I only need a couple (and give some away) or perhaps I will start using these instead of the Post-its.
Somehow with them in my books I feel I am not offending El General!
This somewhat inocuous blog has been a distraction from my present worries. As I write this it is 3:35 PM and I am about to leave to pick up my Rosemary at the hospital. I hope all will be well.
Pretty In White
Thursday, October 28, 2010
I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.
Monroe’s quote is currently after my granddaughter’s photo in her facebook page. When I found out that today was going to be her first high school dance (a Halloween themed dance) I knew it was going to be special and that I should attempt to take some pictures.
When I was contacted by Evelyn Lau’s editor back in 1988 to take a cover photograph for her book Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid
I knew exactly how I was going to photograph her
. She was 17 and teenagers of her age did everything in bed. The editor was shocked as she thought, considering Lau’s past on the streets this was going to give the wrong message. I persuaded the editor that Lau would probably have a nice bedspread and that to photograph her on it would be just fine. That picture was used on the cover.
I knew exactly how I was going to photograph my Rebecca and that was going to be in the bathroom where she would put on her wig and her makeup.
There was one wrinkle and that was that her false eyelashes had a faulty adhesive. After much stuff like, “This sucks!” and “I don’t need this right now,” Rebecca simply drew some longer eyelashes on the side of her eyes.
The afternoon had begun badly in that a friend did not come through with a promised red dress. So at 6:30 Rebecca asked her mother if she could go through her dress wardrobe. She came down with a couple and both her mother and I had the same opinion, “Too conservative.” I went as far as saying, “You could go to school dance in Abbotsford in that one!”
Finally Rebecca picked the white dress and decided to go as Marilyn Monroe.
For the final picture Rebecca looked at me and said, “Here is my Seven Year Itch pose."
I feel so lucky and so privileged to have the opportunity to record an important day in her growing up.
The 39 Hats
On the morning of March 9, 2006 a somber and unshaven man came to my Studio. Shawn Macdonald was the subject of Kathleen Oliver’s article for the Georgia Straight which was about Macdonald’s first solo-penned script Prodigal Son
the story of Peter, a young gay man whose father is dying. By the time I finished taking the pictures of the intense young man looking into my lens I felt almost suicidal.
You can imagine my amazement upon watching on Thursday night the song-and-dance-multiple-costume-female-male-multiple-hat-slap-stick virtuoso performance by the duo of David Marr and, yes, that somber young man Shawn Macdonald.
The duo’s (up until now I had pigeonholed David Marr as the perfect, boring, stuffed shirt British manservant) antics had the full-house Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage roaring from the very beginning in last night’s Vancouver premiere of (the credits are long so patience please!) Patrick Barlow’s adaptation of John Bucham’s novel from the movie of Alfred Hitchcock with an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon and directed by our very own local buffoon and Falstaffian actor/director Dean Paul Gibson.
Such was my shock at the antics of the dynamic duo that my wife and I refused to laugh in the first act. By the second our guards were down and we roared with the crowd.
Diana Coastworth as an over-the-top middle European agent (and in a few more roles, too) and Martin Happer as Hannay (who visibly appeared more tired as the evening wore out. Was he acting this? Or was it simply exhaustion at watching Marr and Macdonald switch hats at lightspeed? ) rounded out a cast of four. That proves, in this play’s case, that less is definitely more.
Before the performance began I had two nagging suspicions of a play that was going to inject humor in one of my favourite Hitchcock films, the one with the famous long tracking shot on the made up drummer and a film which featured the sultry Madeleine Carroll. I was prepared to hate the play.
But this was not to be as both my wife Rosemary and I left the theatre with smiles as we faced a dark near November Vancouver night.
I am sure that had Lawrence Olivier been present he would have been delighted (jealous, too!) at the female impersonations of Marr and Macdonald. The play, for me had a lot of those Dean Paul Gibson funny moments. While it was obvious that the mention of the rear window was a salute to Hitchcock, I longed for the moment when a nominally padded Gibson would appear somewhere, ever so briefly, to round up the cast of four to an odd five. Pity that did not happen.
Selling women's unmentionables on a train sure beats talking about cricket.
The play, The 39 Steps
, is on until November 21.
A Felicitous Occasion
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
In 1967 I was working as unpaid apprentice/assistant for a Mexican commercial photographer in Mexico City called Arno Brehme
. He had a huge airplane hangar-like studio in which he could shoot many ads for the likes of Life en Español. I remember that one day he was shooting a Plymouth Barracuda commercial. The human model used (Mexico at the time was not too politically correct so women were used as commercial fodder) was a British girl called Felicity. I had never heard of such a name. Felicity was beautiful, delightful, and even though I was a lowest of the low assistant she gave me the time of day. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was one of the few who spoke her language. I never saw her again, but for days I had pleasant dreams of gunning a Barracuda around the curves of the Toluca Highway with Felicity’s arms wrapped around me. I have never forgotten the name and its power.
Last night I taught the fourth class of the Contemporary Portrait Nude at Focal Point. We alternate lecture days with shooting days. Las night was the latter. We had a model I had never seen before of which we knew nothing. She appeared going up he stairs of the school as I was going down to the studio. I told her, “You look like someone who should be called Alex, my name is Alex, too.”
When Alex entered our studio (6 students) she was quiet and shy. I asked her if she had ever posed before and if she had ever posed undraped. She blushed a bit, and answered, “No.” I insisted a bit and asked again, “Is this your first time?” This time she answered with a slight smile and in the affirmative.
There is a certain charm in getting to photograph someone who has not posed before. This means that they do not have pre-conceived ideas of what you may want and they will usually not volunteer the so called “model poses” that include pursed lips, or they might show their beautiful teeth (Alex had beautiful teeth), and the pose in those hackneyed glamour poses that look so tacky, almost pornographic.
Within 40 minutes we saw Alex as Adam saw Eve and “it was good.” From then on she seemed to grow a persona that grew on us and I felt most frustrated in being the teacher and not a student. My students were happily shooting like mad, aware on how lucky they were to have Alex in the studio that day.
I did manage to shoot a few iPhone portraits on the sly (as the one you see here) and a few others with my Nikon FM-2 loaded with Kodak Tri-X.
When I went home I had a buzz of contentment in my head as I realized exactly how lucky I had been. All I can add is that the evening was a felicitous one!
Another Perfect Model
A Felicitous Occasion
Rebecca's Age Of Darkness Is Upon Us
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
In spite of my most liberally inspired education under the wings of Brothers of Holy Cross at St.Ed's (above) there were some inflexible “so called facts” that still filtered through. It was Brother Hubert Koeppen
who was in charge of teaching us ancient and world history. Since this was 1957 he told us the world went to hell as soon as barbarians stormed the walls of Rome and the Roman Empire. The world (the Western World as it was seen then) went on to become a long extended period of darkness where the only light was the light of a candle, burning bright by the hand of the monk copying a work by Aristotle in some remote attic of a monastery in Switzerland or a proto-Italy.
|What old white people used to think hip-hop was. They hated it,|
A big wind and a flash of light, the Renaissance changed it all and man (still a Western man) went on a prolonged burst of exploration into art, geography, alchemy, physics and mathematics. Then in the end of the 18th century, another age of light brought the hope that poverty would disappear and that steam would right all wrongs. It was in the 20th century that electricity and chemistry promised the same hope.
Now apps will save our world particularly if they tell us were to go to get our closest pepperoni pizza in a snap.
|What old white people think hip-hop is now. They hate it.|
If there was a Renaissance man it was Sir Yehudi Menuhin that virtuoso violinist who neatly and most appropriately died in 1999 before the age of darkness that is upon us became a fact. I remember watching the series (Menuhin was the host) The Music
in 1979. These episodes had Menuhin explain the origins and the progression of music through the ages. Menuhin was always (and looked it) comfortable as he did in the 80s and 90s playing with the likes of jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli and Ravi Shankar. But his cool and liberal views on music had a limit. This was most evident when Menuhin tried to explain the music of the Dead Kennedys. No matter how hard he tried I could see the wince of pain on his face as he explained the philosophy of punk. I was almost sure that as soon as that program installment was over he picked up his violin to play one of Bach’s suites for unaccompanied violin. It would have seemed like the shutting of heavy doors to ward off the barbarians and prevent them from rape and pillaging civilization.
Fortunately for Menuhin he never had to explain rap and its sort of mainstream evolution (devolution?) into the innocuousness of the term hip-hop. As far as I can discern rap is rap.
|The reason why they hate it|
As I went up the stairs, mid afternoon Monday I heard a loudish sound from the confines of our bedroom. The stairs creaked so I gave my Rebecca ample (but unintended warning). By the time I did enter the room I found her on our bed with her homework and Rosemary’s laptop playing hip-hop. I said nothing but an explanation was still forthcoming from Rebecca, “I am listening to music so I can concentrate and do my homework.”
I should have left to fight another day. I made the mistake to linger and argue that she was not supposed to use the computer when she visits us on Mondays (this is a suggestion, almost order from her mother). I suspected that she had not been doing her homework and that she had been watching a hip-hop video. Since I did not have evidence of this I remained quiet and made no accusations. The scene, once I had closed and removed the laptop from the bed ended in shouts and tears (I felt terrible). Luckily Rebecca’s anger never lingers. When I told her that I could bring some CDs of Bach for her to listen while doing her music she said, most categorically, “Bach sucks!”
I will not buy what all my friends say. They say at age 13 Rebecca is an age of darkness similar to that of the Middle Ages when knowledge ceased (and which we know is strictly not true). They tell me that Rebecca wants to be no different from her peers. She must therefore like what her peers like.
Since Rebecca was four I have taken her to ballet, modern dance, baroque music concerts, new music concerts, theatre and art shows in good galleries like the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. In fact Rebecca last year demanded I take her to a Philip Glass concert when told her he was coming to town. By age 6 Rebecca could discern the sound difference between a viola da gamba and a cello. She played the piano for three years until lack of family involvement made her lose interest.
One day as we were crossing the intersection of 41st and Cambie she was startled by a loud crash in the car. It was a most “fidelic” crash of cymbals by Oscar Peterson’s drummer, Ed Thigpen in Nat Adderley’s The Work Song
. Rebecca has been a fan of The Oscar Peterson Trio with Milt Jackson –Very Tall
I cannot understand or accept that anybody would suddenly shut doors on all of that and argue that hip-hop is poetry.
In the car on Monday night (I was taking the girls home) I attempted to explain by asking her, “In what key was that hip-hop song?” Since Rebecca knows music she told me it was in no key and that it was poetry. I told her that I had Ronald Colman reading Shakespeare’s sonnets at home. “I don’t want to listen to all those wherefores!” I argued back that the lore of hip-hop was life in the inner black ghettos of American cities and that she could not possibly have any connection or empathy with it. But it was to no avail more so when I made fun of Rebecca’s like for Jason Beaver. It was little Lauren who said, slowly and with a very good diction, “That’s Justin Bieber with a b!”
Since then I have been thinking of a book which I read often and it seems that the time is ripe for me to read it again. This is Walter M. Miller Jr’s A Canticle for Leibov
which for me is the ultimate study in a dark ages that seems even more horrific in a far off and dark future of Earth than the real one of the Middle Ages.
There was a dead hog beyond the Valley of the Misborn. The buzzards observed it gaily and glided down for a feast. Later, in a far mountain pass, a cougar licked her chops and left her kill. The buzzards seemed thankful for the chance to finish her meal.
The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young: a dead snake, and bits of feral dog.
The younger generation waxed strong, soared high and far on black wings, waiting for the truthful Earth to yield up her bountiful carrion. Sometimes dinner was only a toad. Once it was a messenger from New Rome.
Their flight carried them over the midwestern plains. They were delighted with the bounty of good things which the nomads left lying on the land during their ride-over toward the south.
The buzzards laid their eggs in season and lovingly fed their young. Earth had nourished them bountifully for centuries. She would nourish them for centuries more…
Pickings were good for a while in the region of the Red River; but then out of the carnage, a city state arose. For rising city-states, the buzzards had no fondness, although they approved of their eventual fall. They shied away from Texarkana and ranged over the plain to the west. After a manner of all living things, they replenished the Earth many times with their kind.
Eventually it was the Year of Our Lord 3174.
There were rumors of war.
Chapter 11, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr.
Hip-hop photographs courtesy of Cracked.com
A Canticle for Leibowitz
Saintly Power Brokers
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sometime around 6:30, this Friday, Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. (all 5 ft 1 inch of him) will stand up during Mass in the chapel at St. Joseph’s Hall at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He will ask the smallish congregation of Brothers of the Holy Cross who will be present to join him in prayer for the successful operation and recovery of my wife Rosemary which will happen around 8am at the Vancouver General Hospital. If that were not all, Brother Edwin Reggio will ask the brand new Canadian-born saint, Saint André Bessette ( of Montreal and also a Brother of Holy Cross) to intercede on her behalf.
My wife has been diagnosed to have a cancerous lump (a small one) on one of her breasts and it will be removed this coming Friday. Both our daughters have been supportive and I must assert here that if one is going to be sick there is no better place than Canada, and British Columbia. I was most impressed by the quality of gentle support and information that Rosemary obtained from her surgeon and her extraordinary assistant nurse.
|Brother Donald Dufour & Brother Edwin Reggio |
I am sure that the operation will be a success and that Rosemary will be fine. I find extreme comfort in the fact that we have a few oldish Brothers of Holy Cross on our side. If there is someone out there who will listen He, will surely listen to them!
The Saint & Brother André
Ad Nauseum? I Don't Think So
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I wrote here
on how I was inspired in the late 70s by a book by illustrator-turned-photographer J. Frederick Smith to photograph women in cheap hotels on rumpled beds and in bathrooms.
I used as my “canvas” the best room (it sported its own bathroom) in the not-quite-that-seedy Marble Arch of my friend Tony Ricci. Many women paraded for me on the same bed with the butterfly print bedspread. I took pictures until the hotel was taken over by a gentleman who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After that my inspiration diminished. Once I closed my studio and brought my psychiatric couch home (in a pinch the couch served as a surrogate bed particularly when I placed on it rumpled white sheets) I had no way of continuing with my long series. As a lark I proposed to the Montreal web based magazine, Arts& Opinion a series of pictures and essay on iPhone nudes taken on a rumpled bed ( with green sheets!). I wrote about that here
is the link to the Arts & Opinion essay.
But then I met Michael and Bronwen, two intelligent artists/actors, etc. and suggested we collaborate. I asked them if either of them had a room with rumpled sheets. Michael’s affirmative was followed by a shoot in which I had vague ideas which were ultimately narrowed down to the concept of two persons who might be asleep (in separate situations) while the other is taking pictures. The resulting photographs are possibly individual dreams or even of a couple playing a game in which they make believe that they are being photographed by a stranger. Michael is an amateur astronomer while Bronwen is an actress. Bronwen brought her grandfather’s folding Zeiss Ikon camera which became our prop. What you see here is one image taken with an iPhone, followed by that of a Mamiya RB and the latter one in which I used a Nikon FM-2 loaded with venerable Kodak Tri-X.
If you read yesterday’s blog you will understand that I now have plenty of justification for pursuing stuff that has been done before almost ad nauseum.
Closer at the Marble Arch
Tis Pity She's a Whore
St. Isidore's Bed
Vantana Wears My Suit
Balthus at the Arch
One of the Three Milnes
The Dame and the Cat
Tony Ricci and Bif Naked's Tattoo