Tuesday, September 2, 2014

L is for "A Like", or: a play with language/s

continuing the a-z blog series with a short story i once wrote: a play with language/s.

A Like

“Sea,” he says.
Her eyes are closed, her toes curled into his. “She,” she answers.
He doesn’t get it.
She paints the words into the air: sea, see, sie.
“They are alike,” she explains, “sea and see. And in German, it would be understood as sie, which means: she.”
“Homonym,” he says.
Now she doesn’t get it.
“Different words, same pronunciation,” he explains. “Definition of homonym.”
“Probably the very same word in German,” she figures, and searches for more of them.
“I,” she says.
“Eye,” he answers,
“And in German: Ei. Egg.”
Outside, a bus drives by, honks.
“One more?”
“Easy,” she answers. More. Is Moor in German: bog.”
“Okay,” he says. “Done.”
She beams. “That’s another one, actually.”
Dann. Then.”
“So then,” he says, his hand in her hair, and they both fall silent while their minds go hunting for more words that sound as alike as they feel that day.

more words: previous A to Z posts 

about the a-z blogtour: notes, map, links...

reading... Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin from Taiwan,
online at Guernica

listening to.. The Sculpture Diaries 

Monday, September 1, 2014

reading from Chile to Paris to Romania with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera & Herta Müller, or: home, exile, and fiction

The books I read this week... were chance reads, brought by the phone book box again. After the luck I had there with books the previous times (finding "The Lake" by Banana Yoshimoto, and an old diary, here's more), I stopped there again - and again was lucky. This time, Gabriela Garcia Marquez and Milan Kundera waited there:


Gabriel García Márquez -  Colombia / Chile
In the past, I tried to read Gabriel García Márquez's novel "100 Years of Solitude" several times, but unfortunately never got into it. The book that I brought from the box, about Chile, is a modern reportage: Littin is a film-maker, and exiled from Chile, but returned there illegally to create a film. In a different kind of "making of" story, Marquez spent several days, talking with Littín to "hear the story of his escapade, with all its scary, comic, and not-a-little surreal ups and downs. Then, applying the same unequaled gifts that had already gained him a Nobel Prize, García Márquez wrote it down. "Clandestine in Chile" is a true-life adventure story and a classic of modern reportage."

It's both a sad and powerful read, and the fact that there are too many totaliarian countries in this world, with citizens who live in fear of their own government makes it a painfully global read. There's more about the book here at goodreads.

Marquez himself is from Colombia, and while reading the book, looking for a more typical writing from him, I arrived at this magical reality short story: “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” 

Parallel to those reads, I also read an interview with Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the Paris Review, which was a perfect combination to read. So glad I picked up the Chile book, and finally arrived at Marquez and his work. He is a wonderful, thoughtful and surprising writer. Here's a bit from the interview, on the theme of fiction and journalism:
Interviewer: "Since we’ve started talking about journalism, how does it feel being a journalist again, after having written novels for so long? .... Do you think the novel can do certain things that journalism can’t?"
Marquez: "Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same." ... "What I would really like to do is a piece of journalism which is completely true and real, but which sounds as fantastic as One Hundred Years of Solitude. The more I live and remember things from the past, the more I think that literature and journalism are closely related."


Milan Kundera: Czechoslovakia / Paris 
From exile story to exile story: after reading the Chile book, I tried Kundera and the "Abschiedswalzer", hoping that it would be a bit like the book he is most known for, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", and after some pages, realized I looked for that Lightness... and so went and browsed my bookshelf. Couldn't find it, so I looked for an interview: A Talk with Milan Kundera. Like Littin, the film-maker from Chile, Kundera choose to go to France when he had to leave his home country. And in one of those good twists, the interview starts with an intro that mentions, of all authors, Garcia Marquez:
In the 1980's, Milan Kundera has done for his native Czechoslovakia what Gabriel Garcia Marquez did for Latin America in the 1960's and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did for Russia in the 1970's. He has brought Eastern Europe to the attention of the Western reading public, and he has done so with insights that are universal in their appeal. After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Kundera lost his position as a professor at the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies in Prague, and his books were banned. Little by little, life was made unbearable for him, and he was hounded out of his native country. His call for truth and the inner freedom without which truth cannot be recognized, his realization that in seeking truth we must be prepared to come to terms with death - these are the themes that have earned him critical acclaim. 
So I guess, it would be a good follow-up to this story chain to now go and look for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at some point. Or maybe he will pop up in the phone box?

And following the theme of exile, while looking for online reads from Kundera, I arrived at this story excerpt from another of his novels, "Ignorance", which focuses on leaving and the longing for places left:
Ignorance By Milan Kundera / From Chapter 2:The Greek word for "return" is nostos. Algos means "suffering." So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return. To express that fundamental notion most Europeans can utilize a word derived from the Greek (nostalgia, nostalgie) as well as other words with roots in their national languages: añoranza, say the Spaniards; saudade, say the Portuguese. In each language these words have a different semantic nuance. Often they mean only the sadness caused by the impossibility of returning to one's country: a longing for country, for home. What in English is called "homesickness." Or in German: Heimweh. In Dutch: heimwee.
The German "Heimweh", literally translated, it means "Home-ache". The counterpart of it is: "Fernweh" - "far-ache", or "distance-ache".


While browsing my bookshelf, I had a long look at his old map - in it, Yugoslavia is still one country, just like Czechoslovakia and Russia, while Germany was two countries....


... and I arrived at 2 other books that also connect to theme exil and home, and to this series of world reads:

Canetti: Marocco / Switzerland / England
"Marocco" by Elias Canettti is a book I read several years ago. Back then, I also read about Canetti's biography: Elias Canetti was born in Bulgaria, in his childhood the family moved to Austria. In 1938, Canetti and his wife migrated to England as a reaction to the nationalist turn of Germany and Austria.

Fiction 18: Contemporary Romanian Prose
This is an anthology from the book fair, from the Romanian booth, it features 18 contemporary Romanian authors and their new works, with excerpts from each included. The first story, by Daniel Banulescu, needs just 3 lines to take the reader right back into totalitarian Romania: "In 1981, Nicolae Ceausescu built himself a holiday palace on Lake Snagov. Shortly after the President began spending his Saturdays, Sundays and some weekday afternoons in his palace at Snagov, the lidos along the entire shoreline of the lake thinned out and then disappeared. The restaurants in the vicinity of the palace were closed down..." (story link)

So good to see that the Romanian authors are now free to write and express their stories and experiences. And I just saw that there is a website with the authors and excerpts: Romania Writers

Reading in the book made me also think of Herta Müller, who grew up in Romania and wrote despite her fear of the government, and the consequences their words could have for her - more about that in the previous blog posts about her: Herta Müller - and here are some quotes from her, on the theme of oppresssion and home country:
“I have packed myself into silence so deeply and for so long that I can never unpack myself using words. When I speak, I only pack myself a little differently.” 
“If only the right person would have to leave, everyone else would be able to stay in the country.”  
“They have good streets here, but everything's so spread out. I am not used to asphalt, it makes my feet hurt, and my brain. I get as tired here in a day as I do back home in a year. That's not home, other people live there now, I wrote to Mother. Home is where you are now... And Mother wrote back to me: How would you know where home is? The place where Toni the clockmaker tends the graves, that's home.”  (link)

Currently Reading + More Reads:

For 2014, i didn't join a specific reading challenge, but i try to read books / authors from different countries and continents, and this summer I am focusing on short stories.
Here’s more about it: Reading the world

On the left is a photo of the book phone box, it feels a bit like a magic shelf. So far, I always found books there that I didn't even know about, and that I really enjoyed.

For more reading notes in this blog, click here: life as a journey with booksand a reading list by regions is online at: World Reads by country

Other book blogs: It's Monday! What are you reading? 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

sun salt warmth

first of September. the start of autumn, after a summer that was too rainy and overcast. the new photo friday picks up the mood, and asks for moments of "Warmth"... which takes me back to Lanzarote once more:

and a second warm photo -
which looks cool like an ocean breeze on first sight,
but the basins of drying salt water tell another story 

and if you look closely, you can see the sea salt piles / pyramids
on the left side, right at the inner water edge

more warmth at photofriday

reading: The Evening and the Day by Dirma Pardo Carugati from Paraguay:
listening to: Brazilian indie

Friday, August 29, 2014

180° infinite sky transit, or: reasons to smile

for sky friday this week: a sky moment, and an infinite line...

His mother would sketch spheres on a sheet of paper. 
His father always drew squares. 
He never knew why. 
The dictionary read: Infinite—
That which doesn't have, 
can never have, 
an end or conclusion.

...and a sky video, from the same place. the camera got flushed by the sun, first i thought that ruined the video, but then that's the brightness of the sun, showing:

some extra links: the quote is from a short story I read today: The Children's Rebellion by Christina Peri Rossi from Uruguay, the country with a sun in their flag. the song in the sky video is from Topher Mohr & Alex Elena: Reasons to Smile - an automatic music suggestion by youtube for the sky video.

And now I just saw the same band has another song called  Where I am From  - which connects to the idea of skywatch friday: images of the skies from where we are from.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

a city in photos: Stuttgart #stgt2014

The city museum Stuttgart is organizing a photo project this summer, inviting citizens to post photos of Stuttgart and add the hashtag #stgt2014. All entries will be collected in an online exhibition, and symbolically will be turned into a book that will be the base stone of the new museum building.

I already sent a photo, which is now part of the online page, together with others (i'm in the top right corner, with the red circle). Here's the webpage: City Museum Stuttgart - photo page

And here's an additional city moment:


listening to... "New Weird America" playlist

reading... Litro "Augmented Reality": "My Copy" by Ioanna Mavrou

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Way

This morning, I read a touching life quote - one that is both simple and difficult. It's still on my mind, especially the note on the way - that we are not just on it, but: in it. That we are made of it.

And so I now returned to the full quote, to add it here, together with a "way"-photo I once took, and now came across in my files:
“Every morning I vow to be grateful for the precious gift of my human birth. It’s a big gift, and it includes a lot of stuff I never particularly wanted for my birthday. Some of the things in the package I wish I could exchange for a different size or color. But I want to find out what it means to be a human being — my curiosity remains intense even as I get older — so I say thanks for the whole thing. It’s all of a piece.

In thirteenth-century Japan, Zen Master Dogen wrote, ‘The Way is basically perfect and all-pervading.’ I’m already in it. We are all in it; we are made of it.” 
via mindfulbalance


listening to... "New Age Piano" playlist

reading... Tongues of the Ocean: "Addies House" by Helen Klonaris

Monday, August 25, 2014

music map: every noise at once, or: 1264 genres to click & listen to

Fascinating + fun music link to explore different music styles: 

The "how to" is at the bottom of the map: "This is an ongoing attempt at an algorithmically-generated, readability-adjusted scatter-plot of the musical genre-space, based on data tracked and analyzed for 1264 genres by The Echo Nest. The calibration is fuzzy, but in general down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier. Click anything to hear an example of what it sounds like. Click again to jump to the middle of the song, a third time to stop it."

There also ist a Page with play lists 
The songs run via Spotify, i don't have an account there, but it still plays (maybe it's based on a 1-month-trial-system)
(via Kraftfuttermischwerk)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

architecture, face & facade, and: "hey architects"...

the new photo friday theme is "Architecture". such a vast theme - where to start here? i started to browse files, and then arrived in Paris, in this moment that crosses from old to new architecture - and when you look closely, in the reflection you see a  building crane:

and a second moment from Paris. again, a mix of old and new, and also a play with the concepts of house facade and face:


The future of architecture?
The theme of architecture, without knowing that it is upcoming, it also developed in my photo blog in the last days, and following the architecture tag there, i arrived at archithoughts architecture blog that linked to this interesting article: "Hey architects, the future of architecture is not about you" by Andy Schellenbaum, about a new energy in architecture:
"In the last few years, people have started to shake the pillars architecture sits on, building their own weird little houses, crowdfunding their own architectural projects, and using buildings to solve small-scale problems. Architecture started gurgling up from the grasses; non-architects began building community centers in Haiti and apartments made of garbage Dumpsters in New York. These projects are not blessed by the powers that be in the architectural world, but they’re happening anyway...."
(the article belongs to Verge Hack Week)

More architecture moments...
...from around the world: at photo friday
...in the photo blog: once upon a day