Do you ever have this strange sensation: that January is the most important month of a year but yet is the shortest?
I do, I think what we do and how we feel in January define the whole year, our dream, hope, fantasy, expectations and resolutions, we tend to put them all in January, like planting seeds, and yet, it ends before we have time to say: wait, here is another « hope » I forgot to tell you my dear calenda…...
It is like eating a 300g chocolate bar. You will tell yourself, it is three times bigger and longer than all those pitiful 100g chocolate bars, you will be able to get much more enjoyment out of it, and then, before you know it, the foil paper is holding nothing anymore. But how can it be? Did I really?
Yes, you did really, one night, in bed, with warm fire, soft light and goose down duvet, holding a good book in one hand, and a few tasty chocolate squares in another, you told yourself: just a few more squares, everything is so perfect, just a few more, the night is still young, just a few…...
To me, January is just like that, you think you are holding 31 days in your hand, but you never do, January 1 is of course just one such chocolate day, then Jan.5, 11, 12...21…... it seems there is always more reason to celebrate and indulge in this month, as if it were an extra month, a gift of god.
And this January, I have squandered in traveling. Just one more small trip, I said to myself, then, just another small trip, just 3 days...then it was February 1, I was still traveling.
But the wonderful thing about traveling this time, is I found how much I love reading book through listening…
Listening to book has become such a natural habit to me now that I start to forget how wonderful it is to be able to do so. But the non stop travel of January, made me realize that reading a book by listening is my favorite thing in this technology era after Steve Jobs’s iTunes library.
It took back all those time we think are born for wasting:
Waiting for a plane to take off and land, waiting for security check or checked luggage, waiting for the arrival of a train at the platform, waiting for… all those minutes even hours otherwise defined as “in between” and spent without any guilt or shame or consciousness (or most likely anxiety and nervousness), were saved by a voice reading a book you have wanted to read but have failed to find time.
It enhanced reading experience:
I have read De Profundis of Oscar Wilde Long time ago, in print form. But listening to it again, narrated by Simon Russell, in a small city in Italy, made it a much more special book to me: i still remuer an early afternoon, it was time for siesta(nap)of the italians, there was nobody on the streets, other than an occasional tradesman or a beggar. It was a small city in Northern Italy, not famous, not touristy, half empty even in the busiest time, and the proof of ongoing crisis was everywhere, the closed shops, restaurants, and the red signs of “for sale” of real estate agencies were everywhere.
I was there, walking on those small narrow cobbled streets having being walked on for hundreds of years, now almost abandoned, listening to one of my favorite writers living more than a hundred years away, in disgrace, poverty and prison, expressing his deepest feeling to his undeserving lover Boise in the most sincere and eloquent way, it broke my heart, piece by piece.
It made the book stay with me more vividly:
It happens all the time, we read, and we forget, then we read more, and we forget more.
But I found listening to a book made me remember more and remember better. Léonardo da Vinci thought sight is our most important and precious organ, I agree with him, If i had to choose between losing eyes and ears, i would always choose ears, but listening to Demian of Hermann Hesse narrated by Jeff Woodman at the airport of one city, a restaurant of another, and finishing it in the hotel swimming pool of yet another city, made Demian the boy, Demian the man, Demian the face and the voice organic parts of my travel and an unforgettable part of my memory, together with the name of that airport, the color of menu of that restaurant, and the shape and size of the swimming pool in that hotel.
It made me being more conscious of time.
Demian, unabridged, 5 hour 46 minutes, De profundis 4 hour 54 minutes. Books used to mean pages, 249 pages, 300 pages, 356 pages, but now, the audible form gives book a different measurement, a different dimension.
While reading a good book in print, I almost always get lost in it and loss sense of time. While it is harmless at home or alone, slightly annoying when I need to meet someone at a certain time slot, it can be disastrous while I travel.
But now, i synchronise those “ in between moments” of travel with book listening, with the timer set accordingly at 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes, so just as the voice in my ear slowly fade away, the train would slowly glide into a station, or a flight attendant would start to announce it is time to board...at times,the synchronisation worked so perfectly it gave me a strange sensation that the whole universe is in harmony.
Some books are written to listen instead of reading.
Nothing can compare with holding a book in your hand, between your palms, with your eyes and fingers touching the words, the sentences, every single letter, but I found out now some books are so much more fun and enjoyable to listen to, particularly those with lots of characters and actions, I enjoyed immensely Her Royal spyness written by Rhys Bowen, a writer I have never heard of.
I could list many reasons why I like this book:
The language in general is melodic in general, except a few times when it is too long winded I want to close my ears.
The main Character is funny,witty, at times resourceful and always attracts trouble: the main character Georgiana (Géorgie) is like Rebecca (Becky) of Sophie Kinsella with a royal title, or at times Bertie Wooster of P.G.Wodehouse in a woman form.
Plot is smart: The author made Georgiana the 34th in royal line, so it is safe enough not to put her into too many direct contact with real historic events, but at the same time allow her some harmless royal privilege like having tea with the queen or meeting Wallis Simpson in her friend’s boutique.
There is a Darcy in it: Since Jane Austen has invented Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mr darcy has seemed to stay in the collective consciousness of women eager for love. Aloof, arrogant even a little bit rude on surface, but soft, sweet and noble in heart. Then Helen Fielding modernised the 19th century nobleman into a 20th century barrister Mark Darcy, giving him different career and different clothes, but essentially the same Prince who will rescue his princess. Rhys Bowen has continued the tradition of Darcy obsession with a twist: she carried him into 21th century, made Darcy the surname into Darcy the first name: a Darcy O’Mara, and made him Irish and roguish, but she kept his devastatingly good looks.
But what I enjoyed most about the book, was the narrator’s incredibly talented voice: her name is Katherine Kellgren. The book was well written by itself, but Ms Kellgren’s voice made it alive, she is like a mini theatre of voices: from queen to grandfather to detective to duke, every character has their distinctive mannerism; and the accents: from Irish, Scottish to American English to French to French spoken badly by upper class English young men, and British English spoken by different classes…..she can mimicry all with such easiness, it is unbelievable, and she is American.
In fact, I found the book Her Royal Spyness because of Ms. Kellgren. I was browsing www.audible.com to choose for next read, and I saw her picture on the home page, and learned of her untimely death. And I decided to buy a book narrated by her.
So you see, an audiobook is becoming as essential as a dark grey cashmere shawl for traveling in winter.
How did you spend your January and how would you define it?
Her name is daisy, one of my friend, she was with him,Heinrich Müller, a character in the French tv series un village francais, I asked him: what is the name of the German song he sang, he smiled, and wrote down something, I looked at the small piece of paper, it was the name of a Japanese actress Ryoko Nakano, written in kanji, with mistakes… and I woke up.
It is funny how one dreams and what one dreams about.
In season 3 episode 10 of un village francais, at 32:45 minute: the head of German intelligence service(SD) Heinrich Müller(who was going to be sent to Russia unless he finds and arrest the communist member Marcel Larcher , the brother-in-law of his lover Hortense Larcher), was standing over a commode, a sadness filled the room, then a song, a German song started to play on the radio, without turning around, Heinrich said to Hortense:
-c’est ma chanson préférée (This is my favorite song). Der treue Husar.
Then he started to translate the song from German to French for her:
Il était une fois un hussard fidèle,
Qui aima sa belle une année entière,
(There was once a faithful soldier,
Who loved a young girl for an entire year)
Hortense looked at her lover, tears in her eyes, she knew where her brother in law would be. Should she betray her husband for her lover?
And when she did, Heinrich turned around, slowly smiled, then continued to sing again, in German…
10 minute later, Hortense, lying in bed, the same song was still playing , she was humming the melody, the camera slowly moved toward her face, a woman who betrayed to be faithful for love…
For days afterward, the melody stayed with me. At all strange moments it would come back….
It was an old German song, written in 19th century and became a carnival song since 1920´s.
Der treue Husar (1825)
Es war einmal ein treuer Husar,
Der liebt' sein Mädchen ein ganzes Jahr,
Ein ganzes Jahr und noch viel mehr,
Die Liebe nahm kein Ende mehr.
Der Knab' der fuhr ins fremde Land,
Derweil ward ihm sein Mädchen krank,
Sie ward so krank bis auf den Tod,
Drei Tag, drei Nacht sprach sie kein Wort.
Und als der Knab' die Botschaft kriegt,
Daß sein Herzlieb am Sterben liegt,
Verließ er gleich sein Hab und Gut,
Wollt seh'n, was sein Herzliebchen tut.
Ach Mutter bring' geschwind ein Licht,
Mein Liebchen stirbt, ich seh' es nicht,
Das war fürwahr ein treuer Husar,
Der liebt' sein Mädchen ein ganzes Jahr.
Und als er zum Herzliebchen kam,
Ganz leise gab sie ihm die Hand,
Die ganze Hand und noch viel mehr,
Die Liebe nahm kein Ende mehr.
"Grüß Gott, grüß Gott, Herzliebste mein!
Was machst du hier im Bett allein?"
"Hab dank, hab Dank, mein treuer Knab'!
Mit mir wird's heißen bald: ins Grab!"
"Grüß Gott, grüß Gott, mein feiner Knab.
Mit mir wills gehen ins kühle Grab.
"Ach nein, ach nein, mein liebes Kind,
Dieweil wir so Verliebte sind."
"Ach nein, ach nein, nicht so geschwind,
Dieweil wir zwei Verliebte sind;
Ach nein, ach nein, Herzliebste mein,
Die Lieb und Treu muß länger sein.
Er nahm sie gleich in seinen Arm,
Da war sie kalt und nimmer warm;
"Geschwind, geschwind bringt mir ein Licht!
Sonst stirbt mein Schatz, daß's niemand sicht.
Und als das Mägdlein gestorben war,
Da legt er's auf die Totenbahr.
Wo krieg ich nun sechs junge Knab'n,
Die mein Herzlieb zu Grabe trag'n?
Wo kriegen wir sechs Träger her?
Sechs Bauernbuben die sind so schwer.
Sechs brave Husaren müssen es sein,
Die tragen mein Herzliebchen heim.
Jetzt muß ich tragen ein schwarzes Kleid,
Das ist für mich ein großes Leid,
Ein großes Leid und noch viel mehr,
Die Trauer nimmt kein Ende mehr.
Kristiane Kubrick sang Der Treue Husar in the film Paths of Glory (1953) of her husband Stanley Kubrick in front of French soldiers who were going to be sent away to war fields.
LE HUSSARD FIDÈLE
Il était une fois un hussard fidèle,
Qui aima sa belle une année entière,
Une année entière et plus encore ; enfin,
L'amour n'a plus de fin.
Le gars partit ailleurs
Sa belle tombe malade du cœur,
Tellement malade qu'elle se meurt,
Trois jours, trois nuits, dans les douleurs.
Quand le gars apprend la nouvelle,
Qu'à la mort, se trouve sa belle
Il quitte sur le champ son destin ;
Il veut voir, ce que sa belle devient.
Ah mère apporte vite une lumière,
Mon amour se meurt, je ne vois guère,
C'était vraiment un hussard fidèle,
Qui d'une année entière aimait sa belle.
Quand il arriva chez elle,
Elle lui donna une douce main,
Une main entière et encore plus d'elle,
L'amour n'a plus de fin.
« Sacredieu, sacredieu, ma bien aimée !
Que fais-tu dans le lit toute seule ? »
« Dieu merci, Dieu merci, mon gars fidèle !
Rejoins-moi bien vite : sous la feuillée ! »
« Sacredieu, sacredieu, mon beau !
Veux-tu venir dans mon froid tombeau.
« Ah non, ah non, ma chère enfant,
Car nous sommes amoureux, vraiment. »
« Ah non, ah non, pas si vite,
Car nous sommes deux amoureux ;
Ah non, ah non, ma très chère,
Amour et foi se tiennent à deux.
Il la prit à l'instant dans ses bras,
Elle était froide comme la pierre
« Vite, apportez vite une lumière !
Mon trésor meurt sans que personne ne le voit.
Et comme la jeune fille était morte,
Il la met là sur le lit des mortes
Où vais-je trouver six jeunes costauds,
Qui porteront ma chérie au tombeau
English Translation _(-translated from French version)
The faithful Hussar
There was once a faithful hussar,
Who loved his beautiful girl for an entire year,
One entire year and then more; finally,
Love does not end anymore.
The young boy went to foreign land
His girl became heartsick,
She was so ill she was dying,
Three days, three nights, in full pain.
When the young boy learns of the news
That his beautiful girl is dying
He leaves his destiny right away;
He wants to know how his girl is.
**(translation note: I do not know why here the tense becomes from past to present)**
Oh Mother bring a light quickly,
My love is duing, and I can bearly see her,
This was really a faithful soldier,
Who for an entire year loved his girl.
When he arrived at her home,
She gave him a tender hand,
A whole hand and then more of her,
Love does not end anymore.
“Holy God, holy god, my beloved one!
What are you doing in the bed all alone?”
“Thank God, thank god, my faithful boy!
Join me soon:under the leaves!”
“Holy God, holy god, my man!
Do you want to come to my cold tomb?”
“Oh no, oh no, my dear child,
Because we are in love, truely”
“Oh no, oh no, not so fast,
Because we are two lovers;
Oh no, oh no, my very dearest,
Love and faith are two different things.”
He took her in his arms immidiately,
She was as cold as the stone
“Quick, bring quickly a light!
My treasure is dead without anyone seeing her”
And since the young girl was dead,
He put her on a deathbed
Where can I find six strong young boys,
Who will carry my darling to her tomb.
**(translation note: the dialogue part was a little bit confusing: firstly I was not sure if the girl was dead when the boy arrived and all dialogue is an imaginary dialogue, secondly the part when the boy talks, it does not seem like some one really in love, but perhaps because his philosophy of love differes from that of Romeo and Juliet, that one does not join the loved one to tomb as soon as possible.)**
The song was also adapted by French singer Francis Lemarque in 1957, and renamed as Marjolaine with different lyrics. But I like LE HUSSARD FIDÈLE better.
Lyrics for Marjolaine
Un inconnu et sa guitare
Dans une rue pleine de brouillard
Chantait, chantait une chanson
Que répétaient deux autres compagnons
Marjolaine, toi si jolie
Marjolaine, le printemps fleurit
Marjolaine, j'étais soldat
Je reviens près de toi
Tu m'avais dit : "Je t'attendrai"
Je t'avais dit: "Je reviendrai"
J'étais parti encore enfant
Suis revenu un homme maintenant
Marjolaine, toi si jolie
Marjolaine, je n'ai pas menti
Marjolaine, j'étais soldat
Je reviens près de toi
J'étais parti pour dix années
Mais dix années ont tout changé
Rien n'est pareil et dans ta rue
A part le ciel, je n'ai rien reconnu
Marjolaine, toi si jolie
Marjolaine, le printemps s'enfuit
Marjolaine, je sais trop bien
Plus jamais ne revient
Un inconnu et sa guitare
Ont disparu dans le brouillard
Et avec lui ses compagnons
Sont repartis, emportant leur chanson
Marjolaine, toi si jolie
Marjolaine, le printemps fleurit
Marjolaine, j'étais soldat
I think that was how I felt about the melody of this song, hunting and melancolic and beautiful: I would have really like to know its name
1955, Paris France.
The model was Dovima, an American girl named Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba who took the first two letters from her three names and transformed herself into an unforgetable being. She was wearing Christian Dior designed by Yves Saint Laurent.
Richard Avedon was 32, he was working for Bazar, his aesthetics was still more acadamic than avant garde, and for the first time he moved his model outdoor like the impressionist painters did in 19th century, thus changed the history of photography.
2011, Beijing, China. Her name is Fan binging, the most famous actress in China, you can not see she is not beautiful, she is. But the picture? No. The triangular composition is not bad, but it is the only good thing about the picture.
The photographer Chen Man gave Miss Fan a G.I. Jane bold hair style, and make her dress like striptease, both evoking Demi Moore the warrior.
There are two versions as to what Richard Avedon wanted to express in his dovima and elephants photo: beauty and beast, or sadness of aging-through Dovima’s smooth hand over the elegant’s wrinkled bodies. But whatever it is, he has done a perfect job, from the composition, texture contrast, model’s gesture and facial expression, the length and silhouette of the dress, the sash, it is something you can look at again and again, and still feel touched by its beauty and simplicity.
Chen Man’s photo, however, did not transmit any aesthetic pleasure. It was for the September cover of a man magazine called Mr. Fashion.
¨Did you get inspiration from Dovima and elephants? She was asked. No. She did not like to repeat or copy others.
But of course she did. The problem is not that she copied, in the world of art, almost every artist has to or wants to copy before the becomes himself, even the best artist copies. Rafael copied perugino before he became rafael, Michelangelo copied Masaccio before he became Michelangelo.
It is the way how she did it.
Both French painter Edward Manet and Amercian painter John Singer Sargent copied zealously Diego Velazquez,but they became better Manet and Sargent, while as Pablo Picasso, when he copied his compatriot Velazquez, he destroyed.
That was how Chen Man copied Richar Avedon, that is why her photo is so vulgar.
2016, Alberto Alicata an Italian from Palermo, Italy won the Professional Staged Category at the Sony World Photography Awards with his series ‘Iconic B’. B stands for Barbie, and dovima barbie is one of them.
Is it Sony, or is it the world that is more and more loosing its judgment over beauty and ugliness¿
It is said elephants have the best memory in the animal world, and I sometimes wonder, what will the elephants photographed with Miss Fan Bingbing remember: the fact that they have been amusingly made up, or their trunk have been used as a chair for someone barely covered.
I am sorry for the late reply, I hate to write to you between flights and hotels and train journeyes, I like to indulge in that uncertainty travel can bring you: no destination, no tomorrow, no thoughts.
And yes, I know you are right in saying the world is becoming more and more vulgar, but I do not agree that the fight against it can never be won. Nobody believed David can win over Goliath, bu he did, with his stone and sling.
One quote: Alain Delon on the world of today
"Mais surtout, je hais cette époque, je la vomis...il y a ces êtres que je hais. Tout est faux, tout est faussé. Il n'y a plus de respect, plus de parole donnée. Il n'y a que l'argent qui compte. On entend parler de crimes à longueur de journée. Je sais que je quitterai ce monde sans regrets"
-Alain Delon entretien avec Paris Match
"But above all i hate this time, it makes me want to vomit.....There are these things that I hate. Everything is wrong, everything is forced. There is no respect anymore, no more honor. Only money counts. We hear about crimes all day long. I know that I will leave this world without any regrets.¨ Thus said Alain Delon during his recent interview with Paris Match. The media has used ¨aigri" (embittered) to describe him
It´s perhaps ironic for someone like him talking like this, while for decades in his life, it seemed only money counted for him and he has made fortune by selling crimes on screen to the public. But what he said resonates, and he can be forgiven.
one film: les choses de la vie (1970)
That is the plate number of Pierre’s car, when he drives toward his destiny, his death.
The beginning is quite ordinary: the site of a car accident, two small children, passers by, the police, two truck drivers describing what has happened, all type of noises, people talking, wearing ugly clothes in garish colors.
Then enters the music by Philippe Sarde, and everything changes.
The film becomes a dream, unreal, at times frivolous, at times banal, but always suffused with delicacy, like a veil over a beautiful woman’ otherwise not perfect face.
Pierre (played by Michel Piccoli) is an architect, but in typical French manner, he almost never does what an architect is supposed to do in a film. He always chain smokes, always drives, seldom talks, and almost never exposes himself, but through his slight frown when he uses one cigarette to light another one, his almost emotionless look behind the car window fogged by the rain, it seems as if you could see into this man, the man who lives between past and present, even at times the future(thanks to the director Claude Sautet's unusual futuristic sequences), between memory, reality and premonition, his confusion, fatigue and suffocation, the man who loves the woman in his life now, his mistress, but never seems emotionally separated from the woman who used to be his wife.
« tu m’aimes parce que je suis là ».(you love me because I am here) Hélène (played by Romy Schneider)his mistress says to him in the car. They just leave a party. She wears a short white sleeve dress, he says nothing.
« Je suis fatigué, fatigué de t’aimer. » (I'm tired, tired of loving you) She continues, he still says nothing.
And somehow, during her long monologue, he decides to end it.
« Mais comme ca, sans rien.. » (But not like this, without anything else). She is shocked and she protests.
« Tu sors? » he asks her, two times, when he stops the car in front of her house.
« Tu n’as rien à me dire? » Hélène finally decides to get out of the car, but she is still trying. « Non » he smiles at her.
« Tu m’a appèleras? » (Will you call me?) She is already out of the car, but she does not want to give up. « Bien sûr. »(Of course.) he smiles again.
She walks away, he sits in the car, uses one cigarette to light the new one, throwing the old butt out of the window, then drives away, all seen by Hélène who reappears behind the column beside the gate of her home.
It is heart breaking.
It seems French directors are specialized in filming the abstract, the indescribable choses dans la vie (things in life), like the state in and out of love, like ennui, like state in and out of life. Claude Sautet is one of them, one of the best of them. He does not belong to the most internationally acclaimed new wave group, but I think he is greater than all of them.
He has that extraordinary sense of time, silence, the meaning pregnated by silence between people, and expresses it beautifully, discreetly. And he knows how a dream can and should look like, and ilusions: Toward the end of his life, struggling between life and death, Pierre´s thoughts go to Helene, he hangs a pair of cherry on her ears, then kisses her behind her ears, taking the cherries, then kisses her. she is wearing white dress, they are getting married, all the family sitting on one side of the table, his son, his father, his friends, her family, then at the head of the table, sitting his ex wife Katherine and her lover. Pierre smiles, happy, until he gazes at another side of the large table, sitting there the police men, the truck drivers, the priest, the paramedics...people he met earlier at the site of his accident.....And children, joyful children, children who he saw on the road prior to the accident in a real wedding ceremony, also part of the ceremony, are starting to leave his wedding, and he is starting to leave his life...
According to Philippe Sarde, the composer of the film, he also composed a song called chanson de Hélène, with the lyrics by Jean-Loup Dabadie who also writes the screenplay of the film, and sung by Romy Schneider and Michel Piccoli, but Claude Sautet did not want to use it, afraid that it will faire vieillir the film, make it look aged or outdated.
Unlike un cœur en hiver, Claude‘s timeless masterpiece more than 20 years later, les choses de la vie does show the traces of its time period: the surroundings, the men’s shirts with very sharp tipped collars, women’s too thick makeup, in particular Romy Schneider’s dresses designed by André Courrèges. Romy Schneider is one of the few rare women who managed to look elegant, look like a woman in those colorful Lolita style A line mini dresses too high above the knee, but the film thus evokes unmistakably the youth quake and the 60’s….
But Claude achieved something else in this film: the poetic and perhaps unavoidable sadness of love, the unpredictable mystery of love created by fate, like an unread letter, like the letter written by Pierre just before his death to Hélène which will never be read by her.
la chanson d’Hélène sung by Romy Schneider, accompanied by voice of Michel Piccoli
La Chanson D'Hélène
Ce soir nous sommes septembre et j'ai fermé ma chambre
Le soleil n'y entrera plus
Tu ne m'aimes plus
Là-haut un oiseau passe comme une dédicace
Dans le ciel
Je t'aimais tant Hélène
Il faut se quitter
Les avions partiront sans nous
Je ne sais plus t'aimer Hélène
Avant dans la maison j'aimais quand nous vivions
Comme un dessin d'enfant
Tu ne m'aimes plus
Je regarde le soir tomber dans les miroirs
C'est la vie
C'est mieux ainsi Hélène
C'était l'amour sans amitié Il va falloir changer de mémoire
Je ne t'écrirai plus Hélène
L'histoire n'est plus à suivre et j'ai fermé le livre
Le soleil n'y entrera plus
Tu ne m'aimes plus
Translation in English:
Tonight it is September and I closed my room
The sun will no longer enter here
You don’t love me anymore
Up there a bird passes by like a dedication written in the sky
Voice (of Michel Piccoli)
I loved you so Hélène
It has to stop
The aeroplanes will leave without us
I don’t know how to love you anymore Hélène
In the house I used to love when we lived together
Like the drawing of a child
You don't love me anymore
I watch the night fall in the mirrors
This is life.
Voice (of Michel Piccoli)
It is better like this Hélène
It was love without friendship
We will have to change our memory
I will not write to you anymore Hélène
There is nothing to follow in the story and I have closed the book
The sun will no longer enter here
You don’t love me anymore
I´m not surprised you do not like the film Night train to Lisbon, It´s a heavy film in a way, like you said.
Can we call music elegant? You asked me.
That is a question I asked myself a lot, too. Usually when we think of elegance, we think about something visual, a figure, a dress, a painting, a vase or a facade of a building, something with grace, proportion and simplicity. But why not audio elegance? A piece of music, a song, or even someone´s voice, when it has that sonic grace, rhythmatic proportion and compositional symplicity, melts in your ear, or synchornizes with your heart beat, not a note should be changed, not a tone should be adjusted, isn´t it elegant?
But I will not try to define or describe these audio elegance, at least not for now, I will just write them down.
One piece of music: songs my mother taught me by Anthonin Devorak
It´s composed for voice and piano in 1880 by Antonin Dvorak, here performed by Renee Fleming, but I think it´s even more sublime without voice.
One film: The Europeans 1979 directed by James Ivory
It´s an adaptation from a short novel of same title written by Henry James. But the title is misleading. It is not a story about any Europeans, but rather two Europeanized American siblings come back to visit their Boston relatives whom they have have never met before, both with the purpose of improving their future.
James Ivory has tried too much to literally interpret it, it becomes a moving illustration of the book rather than an organic film, a carefully mounted slideshow of Thomas Gainsborough´s pastorial landscapes alternated with Thomas Lawrence´s life portraits. Not a single character has any depth or dimension, and almost no character is being revealed, except Gertrude, after falling in love with Felix, her Europeanized cousin, confesses to Mr Brand, the unfortunate clergy in love with her, that she is not at all interested in those greater questions as she has made him believe, all she cares about is pleasure.
And thus, the film does not stir, provoke or touch, it makes one feel completely detached about the relationship and destiny of all the characters. On itself, the experience is more like visting a museum than watching a film, as if you were walking into a visual spa with a sun-bathed brain, slightly dizzy and half functioning, you could not think and there is no need to think, just relax, as your eyes move from the delicate table setting with red grapes, the curious hair styles of the women, the elegant tailcoats of the men, and the glorious autum landscape of New England......
In fact, it´s so emotionally unengaging that you can watch it anytime, even very late at night, and still have the most peaceful sleep afterwards.
But in the world attacked so visciously on a hourly basis by the faces of Lady Gaga and Megan Markle, the bodies of Kim Kardashian and beckham, it serves as a wonderful reminder that once upon a time, we did treasure beauty more than......
Have a good night,
Thanks for your kind letter, it warms up my day like the morming sun warms one´s back in the cold winter .
And now, about your question: what exactly is elegance, i must admit, I have no answer, but it does make me reflect, like one likes to reflect at the end of one year, and here are those which evoke elegance for me in 2017.
One person: princess Diana
It has been decadess after her tragic death in Paris, France, but we are not seeing less of her, but more, particularly because of the 20th aniversary, more books, more articles, more photos, more interviews, more sensational relevations. A whole industry was born because of her: the diana watcher industry. There are people who love her or hate her, but very few can ignore her, men or women, old and young, with all background of race, education, religion choice, all around the world.
The 18th Duchess of Alba of Spain, could be officially the person with the most royal titles in the world, her titles could as numerous as the properties she owned all over Spain, but I think Princess Diana is perhaps the person with all titles in the world, royal or not: from Princess of Wales to Queen of people´s hearts, From the most photographed woman in the world, the biggest style icon in 21th century.
Because of her special position, very few people had the chance of knowing the real her, other than those very few around her, her family, friends, those families she worked for before her marriage to Prince Charles, and her royal entourage, her bodyguard, her aide, her footman, her maid, etc., who have been chased after by the insatiable media and publishing companies, some of them kept silence, some of them talked: the good, the bad, the flattering and unflattering, the touching and shocking......the claimed truth. Among them, the book Shadows of a Princess by her previous aide and adviser Patrick Jephson read like a dry chronicle of her private life or the private side of her public life, which depicts her almost like a wicked heartless person.
But I think she is elegant, one of those rare people who have an indescrible innate elegance, which may not be known to the owners of it, which may not be manifested at the begining like in the case of Diana, but once found and cultivated, it transforms her into an extraordinary human being, a divine being with inner illumination, so much so that it seems whatever she wears, however she behaves or talks, you tend to think good of her, I suspect that even those who have been saying all those unflattering things about her, have been touched and awed by her prsence.
One film: last train in Lisbon
a I must warn you, it is not a well made film. The director Bille August seemed distracted and perhaps even careless at times, he did not bother about some small details, like how the main character, the swiss professor Raimund Gregorius took the train to lisbon impulsively without taking anything, including his attache, could have an old fashioned phone that can work for days on end. How did someone who lives more divotedly in the world of ancient language and philosophy than in the real world, manage to have a phone charger, which was not even supposed to be with him in the school when he took the trip...I hope I am sounding too frivolous, but things like this annoy me, and the way how the director introduced the hidden main character Amadeu do Prado annoyed me, too, he made Amadeu appear first when Raimund was reading to himself Amadeu´s notebook, the soulful and profund writing of Amadeu and the way how he was locked in a car with a girl seemed quite out of harmany.
The extraordinary performance of Jeremy Irons and Jack Huston saved the film, from the moment when you listen to Raimund reading out Amadeu´s inner thoughts and philosophy, you feel like you were drawn into a secret world, a world that exists parallel to the real world where Raimund clumsyly smashed his eyeglasses, a world where one soul can talk to another soul, one soul can touch another soul, and one soul can change the destination of another soul, without ever seeing the face of another soul.
It was a film of love, of the love of books, love of languages, love of words, love of humanism and human connection. Because of that, the technical defects don´t matter, the dilapedated street scenes of Lisbon do not matter, the spirit of Amadeu, a noble soul, the real hero of the film, shines over everything, elevating all the souls he encountered in his short life.
One tv séries: gran hotel
I love almost everything about Gran Hotel. The story, the charcters, the music, the castings, costumes, the settings.....everything.
It seems incredible how many people love to talk about or like Pedro Almodovar, when they talk about Spain or Spanish culture, like they love to talk about or like Pablo Picasso, but there are so many moving pictures, either in the form of film or tv series, that are so much better than Pedro Almodovar´s films, hidden, unpreciated, undervalued, and Gran Hotel is one of them. Although it is very popular in many countries, some of which even created some thing similar, like Italy and Mexico, but none of them can remotely compare with this Spanish masterpiece, which was made with so much care and craftsmanship that it makes you want to learn Spanish, fall in love with a Spanish, or Spain.
One piece of music: The second waltz by Dimitri Shostakovich
I do not have word to describe it. The only thing I know, is that everytime when I listen to it, I do not want it to end, like I do not want all those beautiful things to end, the first kiss from first love, the last moment of sunset on the last day of a foreign trip...So I am going to end it here.
I wish you an elegant new year,
September 1949, Paris, France. Jacqueline Bouvier was 20 year old, living at 78 Avenue Mozart, studying in Sorbonne French history and language. She had to study in bed most of the times wearing all her warm clothes, because her landlord, widowed Comtesse de Rentry, a survivor of the German concentration camp and a member of French resistance movement , could not afford heating in her house. Only occasionally, would she put on her only fur coat, enjoying a swanky night in the Ritz hotel.
For a girl who came from privileged family in peaceful United States, it was completely new experience, but what she was studying, both the French language and French history, were not new to her. French had been part of her school calendar and Jackie had always been fascinated by French history, more so after she was informed of her family’s possible french heritence, and General de Gaulle was one of her french heroes.
May 1961, Paris, France. Jacqueline Bouvier has become Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of the 35th American president, mother of two children; and she was having a large wardrobe, and her own designer, Oleg Cassini, who was responsible for most of her official outfits; and she was meeting her childhood hero, Charles de Gale, the man who liberated France.
In the one year and half of becoming the youngest First Lady in American history, the fashion conscious Jacqueline Kennedy has learned to compromise between her love of french including French couture and the political correctness of transmitting a patriotic image to the American public, and her designer Oleg Cassini has learned to walk on the line between designing and copying some of her favorite french couturiers like Hubert de givenchy or Coco Chanel, including some of the outfits she brought in her suitcases.
June 1 1961, Versailles, France. For that one night, for the gala dinner with the brave leader of French Republic, in the palace built by the most glorious king in french history, Louis XIV, Jacqueline Kennedy decided to pay her tribute to her beloved France by wearing a dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy, an ivory zimberline silk sleeveless floor length gown with slight A line silhouette, the most flattering silhouette for her slim yet slightly angular body. In order to balance the heavily embroidered bodice, Jackie did not wear any necklace, just a pair of earrings and elbow length gloves. Jackie spoke French and she smiled.
A smile so mesmerizing, like those embroidered lilies of valley on her bodice, that it transformed her childhood hero into her admirer, and melted the heart and principle of Andre Malraux, the French Minister of Cultural Affairs, to allow Mona Lisa to go to the United States, the first time in French History.
January 1963, Washington D.C. USA. Mona Lisa, the most famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci, arrived in national gallery of Washington, with the company of its guardian Andre Malraux.
Jacquline Kennedy, in a dress designed by a French man, touched his whole country, and she changed history.
There are perhaps more than 10 reasons to dislike her, more than 1000 reasons to hate her, but certainly more than 100000 women in England and more than 1 million women around the world envy her: how did she do it??
To mesmerize a king as a commoner, hundreds and perhaps thousands of courtesans, with or without names, had done it; to make a king fall in love, the more cultured Madame de Pompadour had done it; to make a king’s love last until his death, the more alluring Diane de Poitiers had done it; to make a king marry her, the more faithful Madame de Maintenon had done it, to make a king marry her openly against any rule or the wishes of its people, the more bewitching Anne Boleyn had done it; to make a king give up everything to marry her, Marie Manzarin almost had done it.....
But until now, Wallis Simpson is the first and only woman in history, that make a king give up his country,his people, and his throne-for her.
But, why? A woman who was neither young no beautiful, neither well educated no rich, and twice divorced, and an American, why she had been able to make the beloved “golden boy of British Empire” fall for her, so disportionately devoted, so stubbornly slavish...until his last breath. Why?
This question has been asked and answered times and again since King Edward VIII gave his touching abdication speech in the winter of 1936, and the most popular and enduring point of views have to do with her sexuality or her sense of dress.
About her sexual power, it was said Wallis Simpson had acquired some old fashioned Fast East chamber technique in some Chinese brothels with the exotic name of Shanghai squeeze or Singapore grip (some called Baltimore grip, perhaps to show more contempt toward her as Wallis Simpson was from Baltimore) or China clinch, when still married to her first husband Earl Winfield Spencer, and later used it on the then prince and later king Edward, who was reputed to be a “little man” in all senses of the word, and “not heir conditioned”.
It is perhaps never possible to know if Wallis is indeed armed with such bedroom skill, but her skill in dressing had been well documented over the years by commissioned and curious photographers,and well demonstrated by appearing and staying on the best dress list, both European and American. The list itself can be biased even political, thus not always trustworthy, but the photos did not lie: she may not be always impeccably or immaculately dressed as claimed by so many presses, or the most stylish woman of 20th century as believed by some, she could at times overdressed like a Christmas tree decorated with those over sized Cartier jewels, or underdressed like a prudent school teacher, but one thing is sure: over the years, with the help of Edward the prince, the king and then the duke, his aura and his wallet, Wallis Simpson had learned, cultivated and mastered the skill of not only dressing well, but carrying herself in those dresses.
Sometimes, she was so successful that one can not help thinking she looked more royal than some member of her royal in laws, although She was never granted the title of Her Royal Highness.
What does these two Spaniards have in common: Ramon Campos, the brain behind the most elegant Spanish TV series like Gran Hotel and Galeria Velvet, and Amancio Ortega, the richest man in Europe, whose rank worldwide varies between No. 1 and No.4?
A Coruña and 1975.
A Coruña, a municipality located in Galicia region, the Northwestern part of Spain. In 1975, Amancio Ortega and his wife Rosalia Mera opened their first Zara shop in A Coruña, the Capital city, and in that same year, in a much smaller city called Noia, a boy named Ramon Campos was born.
Galicia region is what usually called "The Celtic Spain", it´s rainy, windy and somewhat isolated due to its location, similar to Brittany of France, but compared with Brittany, it still kept its very strong Celtic influence, and the Galicians- the people who were born here are said to have a Spanish heart and a Celtic Soul, they are natural poets:
Santiago de Compostela,
donde la lluvia es arte
y la mujer es poesía
(Santiago de Compostela
where rain is art
and woman is poetry)
*Santiago de Compostela is the capital city of Galicia, also the destination of one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage route
In Spanish, Galicians are called "Gallegos", in Spain, Gallegos are story tellers.
Ramon Campos is a Gallego, and he is a story teller. He tells stories on the small screen.
1913. The owner of the biggest fabric factory in Madrid suddenly died, leaving behind a factory in trouble and six daughters, who had up until then been living in a worry free world of luxury and privilege, to enfront life and their own self. Thus started the story of SEIS HERMANAS(Six Sisters), an epoch drama of more than 400 episodes created by Ramón Campos and distributed by Spanish media channel RTVE.
1958. It was still the time of haute couture, when people of money and classes had all their clothes custom made, and such people in Madrid went to Galerías Velvet(Velvelt Gallery) to have dresses and outfits made for their wives, daughters and mistresses. Behind the heavy door of the Galerías Velvet, most expensive and fashionable dresses were made, tried on and paid for, great money was made, spent and lost, jealousy and hate were cultivated, and love, impossible but passionate love: love of the future owner of Velvet for one of its humble seamstress.
1905. In fictional Cantaloa (name playing of Cantabria Province in northern Spain), a young man named Julio came to Gran Hotel(Grand Hotel), the most luxious hotel in that area of Spain, to look for his sister who worked there as housemaid and did not write to him for suspiciously long time. He found and then lost his beloved sister, but encounted something he never could have expected: love. A powerful and profound love he was willing to sacrifice his own life for.
1921. Melilla, Morocco. It were Tiempos de Guerra (times of war). Spain was fighting its anti colonial war in RIF mountain areas against the rebellions lead by Abd el-Krim, and the hospital in the front was far from being able to save the life’s of the Spanish soldiers wounded daily. The patriotic Queen Victoria Eugenia decided to build a Red Cross hospital in Melilla to save more Spanish soldiers, and a group of young girls of aristocratical families were trained to become nurses and sent to the front, but on the train, there was another girl, of same background but not a nurse, and with completely different purpose: to look for her brother and fiancé, both soldiers and both she had heard nothing from....
From Seis Hermanas, Galerias Velvet, to Gran Hotel and Tiempos de Guerra, Ramón Campos demonstrated he was not just a masterful story teller, but an elegant one, a rare combination in the world of media today, particularly the world of small screen, which was over flooded with stupidity, ugliness, and vulgarity.
I did not finish watching Seis Hermanas, it was starting to become over dramatic after episode 200, but the other three TV series (Tiempos de Guerra is still on going) are masterpieces, from the casting , the music, the costumes, the story structure, the personages, the dialogues, even the angles of the camera, almost every detail was attended to. It seemed this Gallego is in his best when telling story about another time, perhaps it was because he could indulge in manifesting elegance and not worry being ridiculed.
I loved these stories and I love the way how he told them.
And I am not the only one. Netflix loved Ramón Campos’ stories so much that it asked his Bamboo Produciones to create a TV serie exclusively for Netflix, the first time for a Spainish producer.
I had high expectation of Las chicas del Cable(the cable girls), anther epoch drama set in 1920 Madrid, about four girls working in a big telephone company. But I was disappointed after watching the first season. It was suffused with a nervous energy, From the casting, the music and songs, to the ambience, the actors’ performance and the way how most of them talked, and the change to 50 minute each episode to adopt to international tv serie standard seemed to make it more obvious.
Was it because he was too aware of the international audiences of Netflix to have lost his sensitive sense of Spanish elegance?
Even today, her writing looked crispy and her philosophy sparkled with wisdom still relevant today. Perhaps God is really unfair afterall, he sometimes would creat some masterpiece which is as perfect as Ninon de L'enclos, to show us that he does, exist.
1964, Copenhagen, Denmark.
On the stage of Eurovision song contest, an Italian girl Gigliola Cinquetti (20 Decemeber 1947) sang the Italian song"Non ho l'età", wearing a dark navy or black sleeveless A line dress of knee length, with the Sabrina Collar (named after Audrey Hepburn's movie of the same name by French Costume designer Hubert de Givenchy, who designed most of Audrey's wardrobe in the film). In that dress and her ponytail, she sang and moved and even looked like the young Audrey: pure, innocent, and dainty.
Gigliola was 16, and her song was just like her, pure, innocent, dainty, about a young girl who wants to love but knows she is too young to love and needs to wait. With this song, Gigliola not only won thunderous applauses from the audience, the championship of the contest, but the rare honour of being the first and only artist in the Eurovision contest history to be allowed to greet her audience for the second time.
1993, Tokyo, Japan.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Gigliola Cinquetti sang this same song, her hair loose and wavy, her voice much deeper and more mature, she was already a world famous singer and not young any more.
Even the dresses she wore was completely different, just liker she herself. Other than the A line silhouette, everything else was different: intstead of black, it was white, instead of the very high Sabrina collar, it was a deep V neck, instead of sleeveless, it was of 3/4 sleeve, and it was much longer, almost up to her ankle.
What did not change, was that she still carried the same subtleness and elegance on stage, like she did almost thirty years earlier.
The song itself was very simple, about a teenage girl's chaste philosophy of love, which will sound very rare today, when everything needs to happen right now, perhaps seemed quite unusual as well at the time when Gigliola sang it, the time of miniskirt and sexual freedom.
Only a noble soul forgives, like Pablo Neruda did.
In 1948, Pablo Neruda had to leave his country Chile due to the threat of arrest, and spent the next four year in exile. But after returning to his country, he published the poem Si tu me olvidas (If you forget me), like Stefan Zweig and all the other literary exile before him, Pablo Neruda was born and lived in a country that slowly but definitely did not belong to him anymore, but he never gave up loving, deeply, profundly, permanently, even with doubt, even with hatred, like when a man really loves, his woman, his child, his own life.
In 1830, the English poet Alfred Tennyson(1909-1892) published a poem named The dying swan:
The plain was grassy, wild and bare,
Wide, wild, and open to the air,
Which had built up everywhere
An under-roof of doleful gray.
With an inner voice the river ran,
Adown it floated a dying swan,
And loudly did lament.
It was the middle of the day.
Ever the weary wind went on,
And took the reed-tops as it went.
Some blue peaks in the distance rose,
And white against the cold-white sky,
Shone out their crowning snows.
One willow over the river wept,
And shook the wave as the wind did sigh;
Above in the wind was the swallow,
Chasing itself at its own wild will,
And far thro' the marish green and still
The tangled water-courses slept,
Shot over with purple, and green, and yellow.
The wild swan's death-hymn took the soul
Of that waste place with joy
Hidden in sorrow: at first to the ear
The warble was low, and full and clear;
And floating about the under-sky,
Prevailing in weakness, the coronach stole
Sometimes afar, and sometimes anear;
But anon her awful jubilant voice,
With a music strange and manifold,
Flow'd forth on a carol free and bold;
As when a mighty people rejoice
With shawms, and with cymbals, and harps of gold,
And the tumult of their acclaim is roll'd
Thro' the open gates of the city afar,
To the shepherd who watcheth the evening star.
And the creeping mosses and clambering weeds,
And the willow-branches hoar and dank,
And the wavy swell of the soughing reeds,
And the wave-worn horns of the echoing bank,
And the silvery marish-flowers that throng
The desolate creeks and pools among,
Were flooded over with eddying song.
In 1886, the French romantic composer Camille Saint-Saens(1835-1921) created a music suite called Carnivaux des animaux ( Carnival of the Animals) composed of 14 movements, with the 13th called le sygne (the swan), written for cello accompanied by two pianos.
In 1905, the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, after reading Alfred Tennyson's poem The dying swan, asked Russian dancer and chreographer Mikhail Fokine(1880-1942) to create a ballet solo for her, he decided to use the movement of le sygne (the swan) from Saint-Saens's Carnivaux des animaux ( Carnival of the Animals) as the music for this ballet , which will be named by Anna Pavlova The dying swan after Alfred Tennyson's poem of same name, and it will be danced by her more than 4000 times in her life time.
More than 100 years later, in 2007, some man named IDA NEVASEYNEVA with the real name Paul Trockadero, of Les ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo performed a funny but ugly parody of dying swan and it went viral. As if it was still not enough, another man called Lil Buck performed another robot like parody of his own choreography with the accompany of Yo Yo Ma's Cello.
If what IDA NEVASEYNEVA did was BAD TASTE in capital letters, what Lil Buck did was like...raping--a piece of delicate and defenseless artwork devinely created by two artists of highest caliber with their body and soul, with Yo Yo Ma as his complice.
The dying swan finally was dead, killed by the insensitivity and cruelty to beauty. And she is not the only victim. The Mona Lisa of Leonardo Da Vinci is suffering the same terrible fate.
If Anna Pavlova saw what Lil Buck did to her beloved swan, would she kill herself? Would Leonard Da Vinci want to live in our time?
eternal power of love and french poet paul eluard poem je t'aime, with italian spanish english chinese translations: t'amo, te amo, i love you,我爱你
Je t'aime pour toutes les femmes que je n'ai pas connues
Je t'aime pour tous les temps où je n'ai pas vécu
Pour l'odeur du grand large et l'odeur du pain chaud
Pour la neige qui fond pour les premières fleurs
Pour les animaux purs que l'homme n'effraie pas
Je t'aime pour aimer
Je t'aime pour toutes les femmes que je n'aime pas
Qui me reflète sinon toi-même je me vois si peu
Sans toi je ne vois rien qu'une étendue déserte
Entre autrefois et aujourd'hui
Il y a eu toutes ces morts que j'ai franchies sur de la paille
Je n'ai pas pu percer le mur de mon miroir
Il m'a fallu apprendre mot par mot la vie
Comme on oublie
Je t'aime pour ta sagesse qui n'est pas la mienne
Pour la santé
Je t'aime contre tout ce qui n'est qu'illusion
Pour ce cœur immortel que je ne détiens pas
Tu crois être le doute et tu n'es que raison
Tu es le grand soleil qui me monte à la tête
Quand je suis sûr de moi.
je t'aime italian version
Traduzione di Vincenzo Accame
T’amo per tutte le donne che non ho conosciuto
T’amo per tutte le stagioni che non ho vissuto
Per l’odore d’altomare e l’odore del pane fresco
Per la neve che si scioglie per i primi fiori
Per gli animali puri che l’uomo non spaventa
T’amo per amare
T’amo per tutte le donne che non amo
Sei tu stessa a riflettermi io mi vedo cosí poco
Senza di te non vedo che un deserto
Tra il passato e il presente
Ci sono state tutte queste morti superate senza far rumore
Non ho potuto rompere il muro del mio specchio
Ho dovuto imparare parola per parola la vita
Come si dimentica
T’amo per la tua saggezza che non è la mia
Per la salute
T’amo contro tutto quello che ci illude
Per questo cuore immortale che io non posseggo
Tu credi di essere il dubbio e non sei che ragione
Tu sei il sole forte che mi inebria
Quando sono sicuro di me.
je t'aime the spanish translation not credited:
Te amo por todas las mujeres que no he conocido.
Te amo por todos los tiempos que no he vivido.
Por el olor del mar inmenso y el olor del pan caliente.
Por la nieve que se funde por las primeras flores.
Por los animales puros que el hombre no persigue.
Te amo por amar.
Te amo por todas las mujeres que no amo.
Quién me refleja sino tú misma me veo tan poco
sin ti no veo más que una planicie desierta.
Entre antes y ahora
están todas estas muertes que he sorteado sobre paja.
No he podido atravesar el muro de mi espejo.
Tuve que aprender la vida como se olvida
palabra por palabra
Te amo por tu sabiduría que no me pertenece.
Te amo contra todo lo que no es más que ilusión.
Por el corazón inmortal que no poseo
crees ser la duda y no eres sino razón.
Eres el sol que me sube a la cabeza
cuando estoy seguro de mí .
english version 1 translated by Marilyn Kallet
I Love You
I love you for all the women I have not known
I love you for all the time I have not lived
For the odor of the open sea and the odor of warm bread
For the snow which melts for the first flowers
For the pure animals man doesn’t frighten
I love you to love
I love you for all the women I do not love
Who reflects me if not you I see myself so little
Without you I see nothing but an extended desert
Between long ago and today
There are all those deaths that I crossed on the straw
I have not been able to pierce the wall of my mirror
I have had to learn life word by word
As one forgets
I love you for your wisdom which is not mine
I love you against everything that is but illusion
For the immortal heart that I do not possess
You believe you are doubt you are only reason
You are the great sun which makes me drunk
When I am sure of me.
english translation version 2 uncredited:
I love you
I love you for all the women I haven’t known
I love you for all the times in which I haven’t lived
For the scent of wide open spaces and the smell of hot bread
For the melting snow and for the first flowers
For the innocent animals which haven’t been frightened by man
I love you to love
I love you for all the women I don’t love
Who reflects me if not you yourself–I see myself so little
Without you I see nothing but an empty expanse
Between those other times and today
There have been all those deaths that I have crossed on straw
I have not been able to break through the wall of my mirror
I’ve had to learn life word by word
How one forgets
I love you for your wisdom, which is not mine
I love you against everything which is only illusion
For that immortal heart over which I have no power
You think that you are doubt but you’re just reason
You are the powerful sun that rushes to my head
When I am sure of myself
my translation in english:
I love you
I love you for all the women that I have not known
I love you for the times which I have not lived in
For the scent of the open sea and smell of the fresh bread
For the snow that melts and the first flowers
For the pure animals man can not frighten
I love you for loving
I love you for all the women I do not love
Who can reflect me if not you I myself see only so little
Without you I see nothing but a sweeping desert
Between the bygone days and today
There have been all these deaths that I’ve crossed on the straw
I have not been able to break through the wall on which my mirror hangs
I have had to learn about life
Like one forgets
Word by word
I love you for your wisdom that is not mine
For my own health
I love you against all that is but illusion
For this immortal heart that I can not hold on to
You believe you are doubts but you are nothing but reason
You are the great sun that drunken me
When I am sure of me
my translation in chinese
I think paul eluard wrote this poem for gala, the russian woman who has abandoned him for another artist, the spanish surrealism painter salvador dali, but paul kept loving her and kept writing love letters for her for more than 20 years.
4:38 am, somehow i don't feel like going back to sleep, my mind travels between watching a movie or listening to music. I choose music, and my mind continues its random travels, until it stops at an article link someone sent me a few days ago. i have not read it in depth, but the title has stayed with me: do you have 18 minutes every day for poetry? How long have i not read poetry even once a week? i dare not calculate.
It is pitch darkness outside, peaceful chopin inside. I read pablo neruda.
And I came across this poem, his soneto xvii, sonnet no. 17:
No te como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.
Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.
Te amo sin saber como, ni cuándo, ni de donde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,
sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecho es mía,
tan cerca que se cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.
i could have sent you one of its english translations by others, the professional translators, but somehow, after reading a few different versions in this half awake half asleep state, i feel like doing it again.
I love you not,
as if you were the rose of salt,
the stone of topaz,
or the arrow of carnations that shoot off fire.
I love you like one loves certain obscure things,
between the shadow and the soul.
I love you,
as the plant that does not bloom,
carrying within it, hidden,
the light of those flowers.
and thanks to your love,
there live in my body, darkly,
this dense aroma that arise from the earth.
I love you without knowing how,
no why or where from.
I love you directly,
no problems, no pride:
I love you thus since I do not know
how to love any other way.
Only that in this manner,
I am no longer me,
you are no longer you.
we are so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes are closed
with my dream.
What is rosa de sal, rose of salt, do you think? Perhaps he means rose of sea? Does something like sea rose exist? And el apretado aroma, the dense aroma? Neruda's words are so hauntingly mesmerizing that i feel like staying in them, just a little bit longer.
I read him, translate him and write to you all with company of Chopin nocturnes, perhaps you would like to try, if only just no. 17.
from thousands of miles away,
Thanks again for the beautiful silk scarf, I have been using it quite a few times as waist band or headscarf, but I will have to wait until autumn to really use it as a scarf:).
I have not been doing much recently, other than wondering around and thinking about the website I am creating. I found thinking is so draining that it does't leave me much energy for anything else. Maybe I am just looking for excuse for my laziness.
I did read a few books, mostly biographies: In the name of Gucci by Patricia Gucci which I enjoyed a lot, The Virgin Way by Richard Branson which is only good for the first part, Jean Renoir: Projections of Paradise by Ronald Bergan, which I have not finished and do not know if I want to, it is so pretentious and nothing more than a dry list of names and events.
But one book I enjoyed immensely, and made me fall in love again with Herman Hesse: Demian. I still do not know how to describe it, not to you, not to myself, I could only say that while reading it, I felt as if my body and soul were both sucked into the story, that when it ended, I felt exhausted, empty. I think it's the best gift I gave myself this year.
A few days ago I went to the modista Carmen (they sometimes use costurera, sometimes modista here in Spain, which both mean seamstress. I like modista, it's easier to pronounce, shorter to write and has a more crispy felling on the tongue.). Before leaving for Italy, I left a black linen skirt with her for alteration, because I gained some weight after she had made it for me.
But she refused to make the alteration, she suggested that I leave the skirt there, and if the waist was still too small after I came back, she would make the alteration.
-And besides, summer is coming, you'll perhaps lose a little bit weight because of the heat.
She added. And I conceded.
How wise is She!
Because of the weight I lost while in Italy, the waist now fits perfectly. When I tried it on, she smiled, and gave me a "I told you so" look. I smiled back, with lots of gratitude and wonder: I found almost all of the Spanish modistas I have worked with have some treasure wisdom hidden behind their atelier table.
Of course there is another reason why dear Carmen was not willing to do the alteration. I have had her made the waist exactly like I wanted: very high waist, no waist band, and the interface sewn completely by hand in a very smart way, so nothing is flapping and no seaming is seen from outside. She was very proud of what she has done, and so have I. And she still has that craftsman's sensitivity that she will get hurt if she has to destroy what she has done beautifully to redo it, not due to her own fault. I must admit I actually felt somewhat regretful about my insensitive request.
I showed Carmen one of the red linen fabric I bought in Italy with her, planning to make another dress which can be worn on both sides, she understood my very bad sketch, so hopefully this time it will turn out better than the white one I have made by another modista. That one did not perform well as I have hoped, especially for traveling, so i will have to make another one.
Yes, I know what you are going to say again: But it all seems so complicated! It's true, and very frustrating too at times, their working times, my very bad drawings, their general unwillingness to try any different technique, etc. But I still believe it worth a try. I hate the ready made clothes nowadays so much that I think I will have everything custom made from now on, even the swimming suit. I have bought the fabrics and trims, but unfortunately am still looking for the right modista to make it for me. None of them are willing to take the risk, telling me their machines can not handle such stretchy fabrics or can not make the correct seem finishing, even I after I told them I was quite prepared to waste both money and fabric.
These Spanish women!
1. Lino guanciale: the dandy
He is what I think a prince should look like from the moment I saw him in Elisa di Rivombrosa, Obviously the Italian producers think the same: he is prince again in la Bella e la beastia and Il vicere, even in a modern tv series like tango per liberta, he plays a princely diplomatically figure.
He has an inborn nobility that shows when he speaks, smiles, and moves, even if he is supposed to be a "beast".
3. antonio cupo: architypo italiano
His nationality is not even Italian, but the gene certainly is. Curly black hair, large and intense eye, thickly woven and beautifully shaped browns, sensual lips, tall and straight nose.
he can look classic and modern, but always expressive, always engaging.
4&5: The two Lucas: luca ward and luca capuano
the first Italian tv series I watched la tre rose di Eva (it is being translated as tuscany passion) is full of passion and beautiful men. My two favorites are both named Luca and both bad guys in the series: Luca Ward and Luca Capuano.
The way he moves is immensely sensual yet with a inner grace. And that grace maintained when he plays the Duke Ranieri in elisa di rivombrossa, although a bad man again.
He plays a selfish bad boy with bad taste of women but a very good taste of style. He looks good in almost anything, even in bad shaped jeans. Like Luca Ward, he knows how to move sensually without making any effort.
6. Giuseppe Zeno the gentleman
the first time i saw him in italian tv series il paradiso della signore, he did not strike me as elegant, just gentleman. Then, as the plot develops and the camera closes in, his charm and charisma blossom. Still a gentleman, but with more variety.
7. alessandro tersigni the playboy
I first found him also in the unavoidable il tre rose di eva where he plays someone who just loves, loves, in silence. Then in il paradiso della signore, he transforms into a pleasure seeking professional with capacity of deep feelings. His outfit has also changed accordingly from something more discreet to something louder, fun, but doubtless impeccable.
8. giorgio lupano: the peter pan
paura di amare is perhaps my first encounter with Italian tv series, in which I did not understand anything but "ciao"and "buongiorno", but I kept watching it, and my favorite scene was when stephano (played by giorgio lupano) played electrical guitar on stage in a disco full of teenagers, in an evening coat with loosened black bow tie.
there is something endearing about the way he smiles, timid and shy, like an eternal boy living in a mature body. And it seems he only needs two things: a white shirt and a black jacket to look elegant.
I did not plan to go to Genova. According to my research, it's neither specialized in fabric or clothing making. But Charles Dickens changed my mind.
In his book Pictures from Italy, page 36, he wrote:
......We could see Genoa before three; and watching it as it gradually developed its splendid amphitheatre, terrace rising above terrace, garden above garden, palace above palace, height upon height, was ample occupation for us, till we ran into the stately harbour. Having been duly astonished, here, by the sight of a few Cappucini monks, who were watching the fair-weighing of some wood upon the wharf, we drove off to Albaro, two miles distant, where we had engaged a house.
The way lay through the main streets, but not through the Strada Nuova, or the Strada Balbi, which are the famous streets of palaces. I never in my life was so dismayed! The wonderful novelty of everything, the unusual smells, the unaccountable filth (though it is reckoned the cleanest of Italian towns), the disorderly jumbling of dirty houses, one upon the roof of another; the passages more squalid and more close than any in St. Giles’s or old Paris; in and out of which, not vagabonds, but well-dressed women, with white veils and great fans, were passing and repassing; the perfect absence of resemblance in any dwelling-house, or shop, or wall, or post, or pillar, to anything one had ever seen before; and the disheartening dirt, discomfort, and decay; perfectly confounded me. I fell into a dismal reverie. I am conscious of a feverish and bewildered vision of saints and virgins’ shrines at the street corners—of great numbers of friars, monks, and soldiers—of vast red curtains, waving in the doorways of the churches—of always going up hill, and yet seeing every other street and passage going higher up—of fruit-stalls, with fresh lemons and oranges hanging in garlands made of vine-leaves—of a guard-house, and a drawbridge—and some gateways—and vendors of iced water, sitting with little trays upon the margin of the kennel—and this is all the consciousness I had, until I was set down in a rank, dull, weedy court-yard, attached to a kind of pink jail; and was told I lived there.
I little thought, that day, that I should ever come to have an attachment for the very stones in the streets of Genoa, and to look back upon the city with affection as connected with many hours of happiness and quiet!
Then on Page 49, he wrote again:
In the course of two months, the flitting shapes and shadows of my dismal entering reverie gradually resolved themselves into familiar forms and substances; and I already began to think that when the time should come, a year hence, for closing the long holiday and turning back to England, I might part from Genoa with anything but a glad heart.
It is a place that ‘grows upon you’ every day. There seems to be always something to find out in it. There are the most extraordinary alleys and by-ways to walk about in. You can lose your way (what a comfort that is, when you are idle!) twenty times a day, if you like; and turn up again, under the most unexpected and surprising difficulties. It abounds in the strangest contrasts; things that are picturesque, ugly, mean, magnificent, delightful, and offensive, break upon the view at every turn.
It is the phrase "grows upon you" that made me want to go to Genova. It right away brought to me the feelings I had for a small unknown Spanish city which I had allowed to grow upon me, and the decadent sensation that came with it: you know you are wasting time being there, but you choose to continue doing it because it has grown upon you, like a strange street dog you have accidentally adopted.
Then, the second day, I went to have lunch in a small bistro, where on the table there lying a local Italian magazine left by the previous patron. I leafed through it randomly while waiting for the waiter to take my order. On one of the back pages, I saw this:
Like Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani is not my type of painter, he moved to paris when he was young, as did Picasso, and his style is also too anti classic for me. But I remember him: he is a cancer, and like some of my favorite artists such as vincenzo belllini, fryderyk chopin or raffaello sanzio, he also did not pass what I would call"the mysterious fatal age of artists" of 37. I am fascinated even mesmerized by the strong contrast between such an explosive outburst of creativity and shorckingly short span of life.
I decided to go to Genova.
It was a foggy and drizzling morning and I was having a headache, The Italian driver was very sweet and considerate, he completely left me alone.
I was in a half awake state most of the trip, then suddenly, I knew we were close to Genova. The fog and the drizzle replaced by heart warming sunshine that also took away my headache, and then, the tunnels, one after another after another.
Why were they building so many tunnels? I wondered. Would not it be easier not to build them at all, just the roads? At places it looks like obvious necessity with the presence of mountain or even small hill, but more time than not, it seems to me those Italian constructors were building it because they wanted to.
And the closer we were to Genova, the better the tunnels. Some tunnels are built with metals instead of concrete, and not only do they have skylight all along the tunnel, they also have small windows on both sides. So the tunnel look light weighted, spaceful and full of light and interesting visual effect with the moving car, a big improvement over the normal dark concrete tunnel, like Gothic churches over Romanesque ones.
And even among the metal tunnels, there are lots of variety, bigger side windows, different positions of those windows, larger checked skylights, differently spaced grids of the metal frames, etc. It made crossing them quite enjoyable.
My first impression of the city, is that it looks somewhat like Hong Kong: the buildings are squeezed into each other, they are grown into each other. Even the palazzi, are not allowed enough space for them to look noble, like in Torino. It seems those in power over the years in this city have had very practical mind, they do not mind putting some ugly modern commercial buildings or even humble residential houses beside the supposedly sublime palazzi, to accommodate the increasing needs of the incoming residents.
So when you look over the skyline, you almost never are looking at one thing, but all different things and styles at the same time, and feel overwhelmed.
The cello music of Shostakovich's second waltz played by two men accompanied me through the Piazza Matteotti where Palazzo Ducale is located, all the way into the ticket office.
I did not spend much time in the exhibition rooms, and when I left, my opinions about Modigliani did not change much. But I learned something new about this unfortunate painter, not only how his painting of celine howard reminds one of Goya's Maja, but also his wife (also one of his main model) Jeanne Hebuterne killed herself a few days after his death, with a child in her womb. A sad but great love story.
The two cello men have left. On the steps of Palazzo Ducale, many people, mostly young people sat, enjoying the sun and the food they bought somewhere, all wrapped in brown papers. Some of them half sat half laid back, and some did really lie down, occupying two or three steps. All of them looked happy, relaxed and serene. A girl with blond hair and white headphone buds in her ears smiled at me when I sat down beside her. And in ten minutes, i felt melted inside, by the sharp sun and balmy breeze.
Like Torino, Genova center shopping area is also filled with arcaded gallery, but it does not look as elegant. The design in Torino is more in harmony with the city and with each other, but in Genova, it seems the baroque, Gothic or Nouveau Renaissance are put together randomly, distractedly, as if they were in some antique shops. Just when I was about to appreciate the beauty of an arch connecting two buildings, the very ugly gargoyle sitting on it put me off.
But it is a charming city. The people have a high boundless energy about them, in the way they talk, eat, walk and even the way they look at you: the happiness and openness of a port city I have seen in some other places. The African men selling flowers that are already dry, and terribly imitated Louis Vuitton bags and Gucci eyeglasses, and Arabian women selling cheaply made brightly colored viscose scarves are essential ingredients to give the city its bazaar like chaotic charm and exotic eccentricity, but strangely, make it more Italian than Torino or Milano to me.
I really like Torino, I can see myself living in the elegant, orderly glorious city, but it is a city of triste, of sadness somehow, although the people in Torino are always so polite and well mannered. But Genova is irresistible, like an engergetic woman, heavily made up wearing flash jewelry and cheap strong perfume, you know you will not want to marry her or even take her with you, but you can not help looking at her, infusing in deeply her perfume and alegoría, remembering and loving it all, then go back to your normal life, until you are attacked another time by an unexplained nostalgia of chaos, craziness, and craving for simple joy, you come to Genova again.
Rosetta is one of the Spanish costureras(seamstress) I work with to execute one of my prototypes.
She is specialized in brides wear, like almost all the seamstress now I have tried to talk with, who share two things in common: their price is unreasonably high, and they are much more familiar with synthetic fabrics like satin and lace made of polyester, and all other bridal fabric. So when I showed Rosetta my design, she suggested raso(satin) in 5 seconds, and told me she has just the right Raso for that, in color negro (black), with right peso(weight).
Then she uttered a price tag even higher than all the other costureras I have met, much higher. I almost wanted to walk away at that moment.
But I did not.
First of all, she was recommended, and highly recommended by the tailor who has made a shirt for one of my client’s boyfriend. I do not know much about menswear, but I think the shirt was well made. In my theory, his recommendation should match his craftsmanship.
Secondly, her showroom is the biggest and the most elegant I had ever seen until then, which to me means she has enough clients and she must be real good. Unlike Americans, I found Spanish people in general are practical minded, they will not spend lots of money just to impress others if they are hungry.
Rosetta’s showroom is hidden in a century old building in the city center with a heavy chestnut colored wooden door, and the moment you walk in, you feel like a princess already: the plush scarlet velvet curtains on the very tall and slim windows, the pale yellow damask covered rococo style arm chairs, a high table with fresh white lilies and yellow roses, the huge rectangular wooden coffee table piled with catalogs and magazines of luxury brides wear and a big glass bowl of tiny wrapped Lindt chocolates, and then you have to walk on the thick patterned carpet for at least 20 seconds to the other section of the showroom: a very large rectangular white wooden table in the middle, racks of wedding dresses in different styles, colors and fabrics, and unseen from the entrance, a huge mirror occupies half of one wall.
Although I have no interest in brides wear, I browsed around, checking the craftsmanship, wanting to find that delicate sense of consideration from seamstress for a day so many women have starry eyes on.
I did not see any atelier. When I was browsing, another young woman sometimes wafted in and out from a door just beside the mirror, taking in or bringing out a white dress wrapped in plastic covers, and whispering something into Rosetta’s ears. So the atelier must be behind that door.
Rosetta certainly is very good with presence, nobody needs to see the scissors and measure tapes and messy fabrics if it is not necessary.
I decided to give it a try with her, but only with my own fabrics and trims. After a very big frown on her forehead appeared and then disappeared, she agreed reluctantly.
When she asked about linings,
-no, no quiero forros, i told her.
Now she looked at me in such shock i felt as if I just told her I was going to make the dress in an all transparent material, and the purpose of making it was just for jumping into a swimming pool.
But I do not care. By now I have been quite used to similar reactions from them. In fact, I found these Spanish seamstresses rather a snobbish group, they have a certain way of thinking and doing things which they have been thinking and doing for years or even decades, which they believe is absolutely correct and should never be changed.
I tried to negotiate the price with her: my design is not for wedding, i do not need any complicated handiwork like embroidery or beading etc, I am not using any of her materials and no lining means even less work for her. She did not bulge much, and I gave up.
Perhaps I was too desperate. The other costurera I wanted to work on this dress had been ill, the Spanish way, which means I have no idea when she will get well enough to work again, and it has been more than six months after I handed her all the fabrics and trims! Every time when I just think about all these wasted time under the glorious Spanish sun, I have a mini heart attach.
I confirmed with her the fabrics I will need for the dress. 2.8 meters, she said, a little bit more than the sick costurera, i automatically noticed.
Although it is very easy for me to visualize a dress, any dress in the smallest detail, from collar to the length of hem, the size and shape of pockets, the mathematical part of it is always quite mysterious to me, and partly because of this, I highly respected all of these seamstresses, I think they deserve more to be called artists than us designers. They can live without us, we can not live without them.
The business part being done with, I felt like joking or at least saying something to lighten the somewhat thick air. So I brought my usual confusion to her: I do not understand why so many women spend so much money, energy and effort on a dress they only wear one day in their life time, and then put themselves in jeans and t-shirts and sneakers all year round, like a eternal self condemned Cinderella.
Rosetta looked at me through her black rimmed glasses, for 5 seconds, then she broke into a smile, the first I saw that day:
-if not, what will we do?
I was a little bit surprised that this habitual question of mine ended with her philosophic rhetoric.
Most of the other costureras actually agreed with me: they do not understand either.
But perhaps that is why Rosetta is much more successful than all the others I have met,even under this thick fog of national crisis. She understands where she is supposed to be, whether it makes sense or not.