Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
My first blogs were turbulent. Hundreds of comments, sometimes very aggressive, requesting answers. Just reading everything took hours off my time.
In the beginning it was stimulating and invigorating. But, as things got worse and worse (more visitors, more comments, more aggression) it became tiring.
I had to close them down. Later I came back anonymously, with this blog, at first a secret one. It was so quiet and peaceful... Later still I revealed its existence to a few friends. Some, remembering the old turmoil, speak of decadence. "Quiet as a cemetery" was one comment.
But stillness and tranquility are the conditions of any creative moment. Sometimes they are the prerequisites of happiness itself. "Ataraxia", according to the late Greek philosophers.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I am the proud owner of Edward Lear’s “Nonsense Books” (1903 reprint of the original edition, 1888). I bought it for a lark as a student from my College Library which had discarded it. (They did not think it was serious enough). It has been a source of constant pleasure to me, for decades.
I can compare Lear to the other contemporary English genius – Lewis Carroll. Both were lucidly mad. Lear was more multi-talented: an exquisite painter (beautiful views of Greece and Italy). As for his gift in writing I can quote John Ruskin. In his “List of the Best Hundred Authors” he wrote:
“Surely the most beneficent and innocent of all books yet produced is the “Book of Nonsense” with its corollary carols, inimitable and refreshing, and perfect in rhythm. I really do not know any author to whom I am half so grateful for my idle self as Edward Lear. I shall put him first of my hundred authors.”
And now for the whole song:
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
P. S. I lived all my life between Owls and Pussy Cats - and O how I love this "runcible spoon"...
Monday, May 12, 2008
The tidal wave in Myanmar. The earthquake in China. Thousand and thousand lives lost. You can imagine the grief of one person, even of two, three. But who can conceive, who can visualize and feel the pain of millions...
The earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 caused Voltaire to write a poem questioning the existence of an allmighty, just and benevolent God:
«C’est l’effet des éternelles lois
Qui d’un Dieu libre et bon nécessitent le choix?»
Thursday, May 8, 2008
He remembers his mother.
For long periods of her life she worked on knitting and stitchery. A hobby that, in hard times, sustained her.
Her son started by being a linguist and an expert on machine translation. Then, a major turn in his life: he became an artist.
He now completed a series of large drawings inspired by his mother's life and handicraft.
He writes to me: "Very abstract pieces, all about work, vision, perseverance, and (of course) escape. And about seeing small, insignificant, repeated gestures and marks add up to something complicated (and, for me, complex)".
He commemorates his mother who departed a year ago. My half sister.
Drawings like doodles. With the persistence of mechanical repetition. Doodles on the margins of life. Forgotten marks to be remembered by.