December 15, 2009

Cuba's problems

It is a lonely planet. Check how time goes by...

Cuba has three urgent problems, namely: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

And two main problems, namely: Fidel and Raúl.

December 11, 2009

Chez Yoani

I spent the whole day in the academmia which Yoani Sánchez and her husband established in their place. Absolutely interesting, I will write something more proper about it, since these guys will definitely change Cuba. There is no fear in their words or eyes, a huge difference I noticed with the rest of the people I have met till now, artists, intellectuals or not.

December 10, 2009

From Havana


The word that describes the best what I have seen these days in Cuba is fear. People are afraid of the State in ways we cannot even imagine. I have been talking all the time to artists, curators, intellectuals, people from the cinema, and also to normal taxi drivers, to the old granny and her daughter who are illegally hosting me, and everybody is very afraid.

The fridges are empty, except for water and beer. On the stoves, boiling water all the time: to drink, to take a bath. I am rapidly learning experience with the Cuban bath: boil some water, put more fresh water in it, and there you go!

Being here is a trip to the past, I can more or less imagine the life of my ancestors. The conditions are getting worse, everybody agrees, since Raul Castro belongs to the military.

Am posting this from the hotel Habana Libre, who once belonged to the Hilton Hotels, but was taken by the Revolution. This has been the most expensive internet connection ever, and it is restricted (although cache services by Google are always helpful).

December 5, 2009

Cloud watching DF

I am staying 36 hours in MxDF. It is a perfect, clear day for cloud watching in Anáhuac, the "most transparent region of the air". Yesterday in the plane, the man sitting next to me told me, while we were contemplating an incredible sunset, that he has the impression that in the last decades the amount of clouds in the atmosphere has considerably increased. It would be interesting to know if there is an investigation about it, but the truth is that our ignorance of clouds and the role they have in regulating climate is almost completely.

December 3, 2009

Bei den Gutmenschen

There is the story of a traveler who stopped by to help an unknown person, the cheesy story of Good Samaritan, which Van Gogh liked so much and painted in different ways. I always thought that the fable is kitsch and very political.

But this year, which for me is already over (the remaining days are like the extra minutes of a soccer game added, in this case, just for the joy of playing), I understood the impact of unknown people in others lives.

2009 is the year in which I met the kindest and nicest "unknown" people in my life, people I had never seen before and that treated me as if we were old friends. The power of "unknown" people is the greatest discovery I have made this year.

One of the most popular quotes of Casablanca are the very last words: "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship". They have summarized my year 2009.

Germans say "Der Ball ist Rund und das Spiel hat 90 Minuten". From tomorrow on, everything is going to be just "Zugabe", extra minutes. And I will start enjoying them visiting Dionisio Pulido's land. I will be offline most of the time for the next weeks... (If you get bored, listen this or this, my favorite tracks of the week).

December 2, 2009

Israel at FAZ

Foto: Corbis

Some weeks ago I
posted something about my trip to Israel. Last Sunday, FAZ am Sonntag published my account of that great experience. Have a look!

December 1, 2009

Westernisation of Afghanistan

"Amazing stuff, its like im there, but without the shit in my pants!", posted someone after having a look at David Guttenfelder's war pictures from Afghanistan. His pics are indeed amazing.

Two of them show very clearly the process of westernisation: "INY" and Mexican beer "Corona" are there, fighting hard and sometimes being defeated.

November 29, 2009

Camel case

Some names and products put a capital letter in the middle of the word, like iPod or Ian McEwan. This is called "Camel Case" or "Binnenmajuskel" in German.

Coincidentally we had a discussion about it in the office last Friday because the corrector girls changed iPod to i-Pod. And I didn't like it. We had this nice struggle, and at the end they published iPod. I do prefer to use the original version of the product. But in Germany not everybody liked the orthography reform of some years ago, so many established their own criteria. FAZ as well. So it be.

Stimulating is the text "Against camel case" published today on NYT.

And I think of bali, mariana, and e.e. cummings who - sistematically or at some extent - avoid capital letters.

But above all, for me it was an impressive experience to have a discussion about a capital P and a dash, while Mexican newspapers do not care AT ALL about orthography or punctuation: "Gente!".

What a shame!

November 24, 2009

Visit by Merkel

Herr Schmidt came to tell me that Merkel is having a meeting in the room next to my office, the Kaminzimmer. I shouldn't be surprised if I see many policemen and people inspecting the building and specially the floor.


But helàs! I prefer to go away before this fuss begins. Merkel will miss me. Let's see what she posts in her blog after the dinner.

November 23, 2009

La condition humaine: René Magritte, Martin Parr

La condition humaine, Magritte, 1933 & 1935.
Gulf Art Fair, Parr, Dubai 2007.

November 22, 2009

Roman girls: Lou, Audrey

Lou Salomé moved to Rome when she was 21, and met Paul Reé. They became a couple, she moved to his place, and short after Friedrich Nietzsche joined them. Lou was a femme fatale, and had affairs with Rilke, Freud, and many others. This is the most famous picture of them, arranged by Nietzsche himself in Leipzig.

Roman Holiday is the first long movie by Audrey Hepburn, who was discovered by French writer Colette. Is the fairy tale of a princess and a couple of journalists, Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) and Irving Radovich (Eddie Albert).

Both Lou and Audrey had made sighed so many of us...

November 20, 2009

Charlotte seems to meet Afanador in Venezia

Just watched the video of Heaven Can Wait, by Charlotte Gainsbourg (and Beck). She is a charming girl, with some je ne sais quoi...

The video is a mockery of the USA - Hispanic tension (and other minorities?), I think: a skate on hamburgers, Hispanic and Wasp sleeping in a one-room-house, boxing, etc. The best of all is the photography. I prefer Charlotte singing in French than in English, even knowing that she is half English. It's more a matter of language, I guess.

Some characters of the video reminded me of Ruven Afanador, and the last shot, obviously, of the Danish+Nordic Pavilion in Biennale di Venezia.

Lame Deer, Louise Bourgeois

Lame Deer, Montana (1941)

Maman by Louise Bourgeois (1999)

Yoani - Obama... Castro?

There is an ongoing "conversation" between Yoani, Obama and Raúl Castro.

This is Yoani's part. This is Obama's part. Castro hasn't say anything yet.

Don't miss it!

November 18, 2009

Crude reality

This summer I went to the (Ecuadorian) Amazonas, as you might remember. I enjoyed the trip a big deal, was amazed of how interesting it was, but somehow it has been a long time to process all impressions.

I was not impressed by poverty. People living in the rainforest are indeed poor but not as poor as in Guatemala or Mexico. In Amazonas people are poor but I didn't see misery.

But I indeed was impressed by the HUGE impact of oil companies since the 60s, when they started working there. Texaco was the first one to start working in the area.

The whole area is terribly polluted by the oil wastes. Pink dolphins had to leave the Napo river, people are having health problems, it is a big mess. I made this pic of "eternal" torches: they burn the gas, instead of storing it, and millions of mosquitoes die every night, because they are attracted by warmth.

There are still billions of barrels down there, but at least in Yasuní National Park they won't take them out. That's what the government says.

Local people are suing now Chevron (Texaco's owner) because of the damage. The whole thing is a mess: on the Chevron side, they are all liars, they just want to ignore the damage they had done; on the Ecuador side, there is a lack of know-how, and some Americans are helping them doing, for instance, even documentary films like "Crude".

This a first impression of the problem:

November 14, 2009

The machine of a dream

One rainy night some years ago, I met a girl. "Ah, you're Enrique". "Yes." "Ah, and you live in Berlin, right?" "Right."

And then, her third question was: "And do you have a car there?"

"No, I don't have a car: I either want it nor need it".

This has been, up to now, the best third-question ever. Just remember this while listening to one of the best songs by Queen (this one is a great video).

Yes, cars are still machines of dreams... Not to talk about other interpretations of the song...

November 12, 2009

Malcolm de Chazal dixit

Malcolm de Chazal (1908-1981) is an intriguing author from Mauritius, who wrote thousands of aphorisms. TS gave me some weeks ago his greatest book, Sens Plastique, a collection of obsessions: women, body, love, yellow (like van Gogh!), water, nature... These are bunch of them, picked up by chance.

"The sense of beauty varies from age to age in the track of fashion and progress. Charm alone, from yesterday until the end of time, remains golden and invariable".
Foto: Carla Bruni

"Blue is the acme of purity. Losing yourself in contemplation of the azure sky above washes and cleanses your eyes. After a bath your eyes shine with a blue look".
Foto: Unknown

"We seek out blue, yellow comes to us. The ray of light comes to us, we look for the azure sky. A yellow dress offers itself; blue asks to be taken. Yellow is for women looking for love; blue for available windows".
Foto: Hilary Rhoda (Eres)

"The iris is to the eye what pigment is to the skin, a kind of inner lampshade. The blacker the iris, the more it concentrates the look in the center of the face and "solders" the features together".
Foto: Hilary Rhoda

November 11, 2009

Toda clasificación es arbitraria

Releo El idioma analítico de John Wilkins, y transcribo parcialmente el párrafo decisivo:

"Ya definido el procedimiento de Wilkins, falta examinar un problema de imposible o difícil postergación: el valor de la tabla cuadragesimal que es base del idioma. Consideremos la octava categoría, la de las piedras. Wilkins las divide en comunes (pedernal, cascajo, pizarra), módicas (mármol, ámbar, coral), preciosas (perla, ópalo), transparentes (amatista, zafiro) e insolubles (hulla, greda y arsénico). Casi tan alarmante como la octava, es la novena categoría. Ésta nos revela que los metales pueden ser imperfectos (bermellón, azogue), artificiales (bronce, latón), recrementicios (limaduras, herrumbre) y naturales (oro, estaño, cobre). La ballena figura en la categoría décimosexta; es un pez vivíparo, oblongo. Esas ambigüedades, redundancias y deficiencias recuerdan las que el doctor Franz Kuhn atribuye a cierta enciclopedia china que se titula Emporio celestial de conocimientos benévolos. En sus remotas páginas está escrito que los animales se dividen en (a) pertenecientes al Emperador, (b) embalsamados, (c) amaestrados, (d) lechones, (e) sirenas, (f) fabulosos, (g) perros sueltos, (h) incluidos en esta clasificación, (i) que se agitan como locos, (j) innumerables, (k) dibujados con un pincel finísimo de pelo de camello, (l) etcétera, (m) que acaban de romper el jarrón, (n) que de lejos parecen moscas. [sigue...]"

November 10, 2009

"A l'Allemagne", par Victor Hugo

Aucune nation n'est plus grande que toi ;
Jadis, toute la terre étant un lieu d'effroi,
Parmi les peuples forts tu fus le peuple juste.
Une tiare d'ombre est sur ton front auguste ;
Et pourtant comme l'Inde, aux aspects fabuleux,
Tu brilles ; ô pays des hommes aux yeux bleus,
Clarté hautaine au fond ténébreux de l'Europe,
Une gloire âpre, informe, immense, t'enveloppe ;
Ton phare est allumé sur le mont des Géants ;
Comme l'aigle de mer qui change d'océans,
Tu passas tour à tour d'une grandeur à l'autre ;
Huss le sage a suivi Crescentius l'apôtre ;
Barberousse chez toi n'empêche pas Schiller ;
L'empereur, ce sommet, craint l'esprit, cet éclair.
Non, rien ici-bas, rien ne t'éclipse, Allemagne.
Ton Vitikind tient tête à notre Charlemagne,
Et Charlemagne même est un peu ton soldat.
Il semblait par moments qu'un astre te guidât ;
Et les peuples t'ont vue, ô guerrière féconde,
Rebelle au double joug qui pèse sur le monde,
Dresser, portant l'aurore entre tes poings de fer,
Contre César Hermann, contre Pierre Luther.
Longtemps, comme le chêne offrant ses bras au lierre,
Du vieux droit des vaincus tu fus la chevalière ;
Comme on mêle l'argent et le plomb dans l'airain,
Tu sus fondre en un peuple unique et souverain
Vingt peuplades, le Hun, le Dace, le Sicambre ;
Le Rhin te donne l'or et la Baltique l'ambre ;
La musique est ton souffle ; âme, harmonie, encens,
Elle fait alterner dans tes hymnes puissants
Le cri de l'aigle avec le chant de l'alouette ;
On croit voir sur tes burgs croulants la silhouette
De l'hydre et du guerrier vaguement aperçus
Dans la montagne, avec le tonnerre au-dessus ;
Rien n'est frais et charmant comme tes plaines vertes ;
Les brèches de la brume aux rayons sont ouvertes,
Le hameau dort, groupé sous l'aile du manoir,
Et la vierge, accoudée aux citernes le soir,
Blonde, a la ressemblance adorable des anges.
Comme un temple exhaussé sur des piliers étranges
L'Allemagne est debout sur vingt siècles hideux,
Et sa splendeur qui sort de leurs ombres, vient d'eux.
Elle a plus de héros que l'Athos n'a de cimes.
La Teutonie, au seuil des nuages sublimes
Où l'étoile est mêlée à la foudre, apparaît ;
Ses piques dans la nuit sont comme une forêt ;
Au-dessus de sa tête un clairon de victoire
S'allonge, et sa légende égale son histoire ;
Dans la Thuringe, où Thor tient sa lance en arrêt,
Ganna, la druidesse échevelée, errait ;
Sous les fleuves, dont l'eau roulait de vagues flammes,
Les sirènes chantaient, monstres aux seins de femmes,
Et le Harz que hantait Velléda, le Taunus
Où Spillyre essuyait dans l'herbe ses pieds nus,
Ont encor toute l'âpre et divine tristesse
Que laisse dans les bois profonds la prophétesse ;
La nuit, la Forêt-Noire est un sinistre éden ;
Le clair de lune, aux bords du Neckar, fait soudain
Sonores et vivants les arbres pleins de fées.
O Teutons, vos tombeaux ont des airs de trophées ;
Vos aïeux n'ont semé que de grands ossements ;
Vos lauriers sont partout ; soyez fiers, Allemands.
Le seul pied des titans chausse votre sandale.
Tatouage éclatant, la gloire féodale
Dore vos morions, blasonne vos écus ;
Comme Rome Coclès vous avez Galgacus,
Vous avez Beethoven comme la Grèce Homère ;
L'Allemagne est puissante et superbe.

De "L'année terrible"

November 9, 2009

Berlin Wall 20|09

Cartier-Bresson shot the Wall, and today (Wall 20|09) I went to the Bernauer Strasse to try to recreate his pictures. But it is completely impossible.

The phone-register-box is now on the opposite side of the street, and there is a new building under construction. The first two buildings of the Wolliner Strasse were destroyed. Now the streets are paved with asphalt.

Instead of after-war-cripples and French policemen with machine guns, tourists have to wait for the green light carrying on their shoulders a camera or a backpack. Some famous pics of Bernauer Strasse (and good ones):

Today it is being partially refurbished, new lofts are under construction, and the former Wall is now a tiny rocky path shivering the memory of the pedestrians:

So looked the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Schwedter Strasse years ago, and today the building's wall depicts a "Joga Bonito" grafitti called Welcome to Berlin.

The Bernauer Strasse is particularly important, among other reasons, because it was perhaps the most dramatic spot where the Wall was risen, and perhaps even the first one. On the other hand, the Böse Bridge, on the Bornholmer Strasse, was the first spot where the Wall was broken, and so, people started crossing on the night of November 9th, 1989.

Today there was a ceremony with Walesa, Gorbachov, Merkel and Wowereit.

I was particularly interested by a nearby garden-colony which still exists behind a long piece of the Wall. The very first persons who crossed got a stamp on their passports, since they were "visiting" another country.

These figures are famous images of the East Side Gallery, which were reproduced by some schoolboys in the big domino pieces which fall down today simulating the fall of the Wall.

Now let's tear down many other diving walls we have!