Winter Fashion for Dogs with an Attitude...
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The stage was all set for the Awards, we just had a couple of hours to wait....
Although slightly hangovered after a night dedicated to erasing from his brain the Reds' defeat against the Greens, this blogger of yours went to the Goyas gala out of a sense of duty towards the Honourable Reader.
The invitations mentioned 8.oo PM, and out of Old Europe punctuality Behemotchka and I were there at eight alright. We were then told that in fact the live-on-TV ceremony was about to begin at Ten!. With sub-zero temperatures outside, a congress hall in the middle of f"&%$& nowhere and no bar functioning inside the hall, one can be excused for this urge to trash the Goyas night comprehensively.
It felt like the Moscow Film Festival.. the same provincial trying-too-hard to mimic the Oscars attitude. The same evening dresses in cheap materials and the sad petty bourgeois atmosphere of Hola! readers or BigBrother fans. Pity, really, because the Spanish cinema is in quite good shape and they have a real industry going on here. If only they could relax on the Frenchy-inspired sniping at the Hollywood model in the name of culturally exceptional European cinema (while at the same time bursting with pride at the Hollywood careers of Antonio and Penelope or Paz). If only they could have found the inspiration to serve us a b*&$%! drink while there's still one and a half hours to go and it's snowing outside!
A feature of these events I still cannot grasp is the astronomic cost of prime time advertising on the TV channel broadcasting the show ( almost as expensive per minute as airplane gasoline) while at the same time large periods, full five to eight minutes, are wasted by presenters in hastily scripted supposedly entertaining lines in between "and the winner is" moments. I guess the edited pre-recorded version might work but live the logistical hiccups and slow-mo boring stuff (including self-congratulatory corporative speeches) is unbearable.
We left after the first block of awards, longing for the boletus I had left marinating in cognac.. The snow-covered suburb was indeed awesome to watch..
The only bright exception to an otherwise disastrous Sunday evening was the daring pink dress of the Lady Minister for Culture, from Agatha Ruiz de La Prada..
Monday, January 30, 2006
Choice in matters of love..
A philosopher writes a novel...
The Honourable Reader might not excuse me for the irretrievable damage made to books with my indulgence in folding the lower exterior corner of any page that deserves further attention, producing in the process a dog-ear of beagle-esque proportions. But it constitutes an habit that allows a non-pencil carrying reader to mark any possible future quotation without interrupting the full flight of deep plot-reading.
In Alain de Botton's "Essays In Love" with its Tractatus-like wittgensteinish structure, with numbered paragraphs within numbered chapters named in arid philosophical terms - 1. Romantic Fatalism; 2. Idealization; 3. The Subtext of Seduction; 4. Authenticity; 5. Mind and Body; 6. Marxism; 7. False Notes; 8. Love or Liberalism; 9. Beauty; 10. Speaking Love; 11. What Do You See In Her? 12. Skepticism and Faith; 13. Intimacy; 14. ÂIÂ-Confirmation; 15. Intermittences of the Heart; 16. The Fear of Happiness; 17. Contractions; 18. Romantic Terrorism; 19. Beyond Good an Evil; 20. Psycho-Fatalism; 21. Suicide; 22. The Jesus Complex; 23. Ellipsis; 24. Love Lessons - what dog-eared quote was left for ulterior consumption?
To use a Bible-like system, I could say - Essays 15.8 : "Watching her (...) I found myself falling victim of romantic nostalgia. Romantic nostalgia descends when we are faced with those who might have been our lovers, but whom chance has decreed we will never know. The possibility of an alternative love life is a reminder that the life we are leading is only one of a myriad of possible lives: and it is perhaps the impossibility of leading them all that plunges us into sadness. There is a longing for a return to a time without the need for choices, free of the sadness at the inevitable loss that all choice [however wonderful] has entailed."
The whole discussion about Choice vs Destiny comes to mind all over again, which could be easily (and wrongly) construed as the essence of the Rationality vs Romance dilemma. One does not need to be a philosopher nor a novelist to avoid the pitfalls of paying too much attention to "Essays 15.8"...
The Kaleidoscope Metaphor ..
A tiny shift of seismic proportions...
When some of his slightly barmy philosophical-literary obsessions combine in one book this blogger of yours is overwhelmed with joy and rushes to tell all the world of Honourable Readers about it. The book is "The Cairo House" by Samia Serageldin.
One can find in it the Atlantis image, when a structured highly civilized society disappears under the impact of revolutionary political tsunami (the tsarist St.Petersburg Society circa 1918, the ottoman Egypt following the Nasser phenomenon, the "Gone with the Wind" Southern world after the American Civil War..); one can indulge here in one's passion for Alexandrialogy (from a near "insiders" Fitzgeraldian approach to the Corniche Society); one relishes the chance to revisit, ever present in the plot's background, Middle Eastern fundamental political choices (with Political Islam lurking, eyeing with a patronizing smile at naive post-Marxist experiments destined to fail)..
But what has really worked for this blogger of yours is the Kaleidoscope Metaphor. As Ms. Serageldin explains herself "The kaleidoscope (...) has always fascinated me as a metaphor for life: how a seemingly slight incident can alter the course of one's destiny, just as an almost imperceptible shift in the angle of the lens changes the composition to form an entirely new pattern".
We all oscillate, to describe our lives, between two antagonistic Schools of Thought: the Fate/Destiny- GoWithThe Flow School (everything is written in the stars, all effort to change our roadmap is futile) and the Freewill-I'm the Agent and Modifying Force of my Own Personal Project School (you are empowered to make something out of your life). There is however, a third paradigm that can in a way overcome, dialectically speaking, the two others. A paradigm that takes on board the extreme importance of chance. Like described, most recently, in Woody Allen's "Match Point", a minuscule event can have a decisive importance.
We all have "missed the train" situations to deplore, we all have "if only I had recognized it when it happened" moments. Cavafy, that great Alexandrine, described it better than most in his "Che fece... Il gran rifiuto" poem:
"For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It's clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,
he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no - the right no -
drags him down all his life".
Let us put it this way: we should realize that once in a while we are confronted, in a kaleidoscopic-shifting moment, with the need to avoid "the right no".
One should be prepared to have the "great Yes ready within him"..
The real life Cairo House, still owned by the Serageldin family, can be visited at www.thecairohouse.com .
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Adding months to Chekov's life...
The days of Anton Chekhov were numbered...
José Sasportes, an example of a cultural and literary figure who was also once a Minister for Culture (although not in the same league of the illustrious French example, André Malraux), has just published a curious book - "Os Dias Contados" - arising from a good "concept" (to use L.A. scriptwriting lingo): what if a famous historical personality was given six extra-months of life? The tour de force, which immediately turns Mr Sasportes into a serious scholar of Chekhov, does work. Any non-lusophone reader interested or fascinated by the greatest playwriter of Russian literature (with Ostrovsky) will no doubt await with impatience a well-deserved translation..
Friday, January 27, 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Dinning-table: imagine a solid slab of French oak, varnished to perfection... (to be continued...)
At the very end of the evening, deep inside new year, the Host recites Lorca's "Eran las cinco de la tarde.." .. Commotion is generalized