Thursday, December 4, 2014

a new place, you-are-there-reading, mermaids & "to simply live those moments"

A new place 
Since Monday, we are staying in a different corner of Lanzarote: in Playa Blanca, the southern tip of the island. It's the first time we are here, and it feels like a lucky move  - the weather is sunnier since we are here (and supposedly, this is the "sunny corner" of the island, even when clouds are lingering further up the coast. And the the place itself is lovely, it's not a hotel, but it's holiday bungalows. The description of the place sounded good, but then you never really know until you are there if it's only the description that sounds fine (just like with books and their promising blurbs)

A nice thing is that the bungalows here don’t have simple numbers, but names. Ours is called “Christian Andersen”, relating to the fairy tale author from Denmark. Next to us is Pablo Picasso and Leonardo di Vinci. There also is Agatha Christie, John Lennon and Fred Astaire, and various other.

In the photo above, you can see Playa Blanca from the southern end of the settlement. Our bungalow belongs to the first patch of houses you see, with the palm trees in front. It's indeed "at the end of the island". Beyond it, there is just the walkway that leads to the lighthouse at the southern tip, see photo below - that's taken from the same walkway, just some minutes further towards the opposite  direction.

Ocean Read 
To stay in a bungalow named by a writer reminded me of a this essay on books I read a while ago, about "You Are There - Reading" - the special joy and passion to read a book in a place that appears in the book. I looked it up, here's the quote from it: "The practice of reading books in the places they describe" - like reading Homer's Odyssey in Greece, Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" in Walden, James Joyce's "Dubliners" or "Ulysses" in Dublin. (from Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman)

Hans-Christian Andersen is from Denmark, though, but when I looked up his biography, I remembered that he is the author of the “Little Mermaid”. There is an online-version of the tale in the web, and it was a joy to read it, with the view to the blue ocean, which connected perfectly with the starting lines:
"Far out in the ocean the water is as blue as the petals of the loveliest cornflower, and as clear as the purest glass. But it is very deep too. It goes down deeper than any anchor rope will go, and many, many steeples would have to be stacked one on top of another to reach from the bottom to the surface of the sea. It is down there that the sea folk live.."
Here’s the link: Hans-Christian Andersen: Little Mermaid

A Portuguese Nobel Lanzarote writer:  Jose Saramago 

Following the idea of you-are-there-reading, I browsed a bit to see if I can find an author from Lanzarote. There probably are Spanish authors, so looking in English wasn't too helpful at first, but I learned that a rather prominent author lived here for years: the Portuguese author Jose Saramagao, who received the Nobel Prize for literature. There's an interview with Saramago in the Paris Review, which took place on a sunny afternoon in March of 1997, at his home in Lanzarote, just some miles from here. Here's a bit from it:
Interviewer: "When you moved to Lanzarote, away from the surroundings in which you had lived and written for so many years, did you accustom yourself immediately to this space, or did you miss your previous work space?"Saramago: "I adapted easily. I believe myself to be the type of person who does not complicate his life. I have always lived my life without dramatizing things, whether the good things that have happened to me or the bad. I simply live those moments."

(and here is the second photo, with the counterpart view)

Carmen LaForet + The Week in Culture
Another writer who is related to Lanzarote is Carmen LaForet, who wrote a book with the tales from the Canary Islands, combined with a travel guide. Her most known work is a novel, though: "Nada" / "Nothing". I hadn't known her, she wais " a Spanish author who wrote in the period after the Spanish Civil War. An important European writer, her works contributed to the school of Existentialist Literature". When I looked for an interview with her, I arrived at the Paris Review again - but then first thought: wrong link, as the page that popped up wasn't an interview, but a blog-style culture article with various themes.  Turned out, this is a series, and the one that popped up was again a you-are-there-read: A week in culture - writer Carlene Bauer, who recently has been to Spain, and writes about learning Spanish, reading LaForet, and various culture encounters, like this one with a note on the spell of reading books:
"Appointment in the city with an editor. After Spain, I have been wanting to read more Spanish-language fiction. Recently read Carmen Laforet’s Nada, which is a dark haunted attic of a novel set in post–Civil War Barcelona, and then, finally, after meaning to do so forever, have just started Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives. It is my subway companion, and the thunderous hurtling of the train is the perfect accompaniment to the book’s hectic, shuttling sentences. I am having the terrible and embarrassing problem of instantly realizing a book’s genius, but also failing to find instant purchase in the narrative. I’m trusting that I will soon come to love this, though. Editor I meet with sees that I am carrying book, says 2666 had her under a spell that made her prefer its company to that of humans."
Here's the whole series: Paris Review / Week in Culture

Now, for an island walk, to enjoy the ocean moments, and to take some photos. (which now are included above. i also learned a word: "lighthouse" in Spanish is: "faro".)


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