January 31, 2011

Vargas Llosa sobre Cervantes

(...) su obra no resultó del milagro ni el azar, sino de la voluntad, el trabajo, la artesanía y la paciencia.

Humberto Beck explica a Daniel Bell

 (Extraído de La vanguardia (siete apuntes))

Damien Hirst, artista y empresario de éxito

"Debemos al Daniel Bell de Las contradicciones culturales del capitalismo una visión complementaria de las complejas relaciones de interdependencia entre la sociedad moderna y la vanguardia artística, en especial entre sus dos figuras emblemáticas: el empresario burgués y el artista bohemio. A pesar de sus contrastes, ambas figuras comparten un mismo origen: las dos son expresiones –una en la economía, otra en la cultura– del ideal moderno del individuo autónomo que se determina a sí mismo. La gran paradoja es que desde sus orígenes cada una de estas encarnaciones del espíritu moderno comenzó a temer a la otra y a buscar su destrucción. En la segunda mitad del siglo XX, ambos impulsos empezaron a manifestar su decadencia. Mientras que el afán de rebelión del modernismo estético se anquilosó en repeticiones rituales, la justificación moral del capitalismo devino en un craso hedonismo.

Extrañamente, a pesar de haber descrito los síntomas del deterioro, Bell parece haberse quedado a un paso de la conclusión lógica de su razonamiento: lo que advino no fue solo el fin de la oposición, sino la fusión final, favorecida por las condiciones de la cultura contemporánea, entre el burgués y el bohemio. Si, como señala Bell, las formas experimentales del modernismo degeneraron en la sintaxis de la publicidad y de la alta costura, y si la vida burguesa degeneró en el hedonismo del consumo –y, por lo tanto, de la moda–, no debería causar sorpresa que, de manera cada vez más frecuente, el burgués y el artista sean la misma persona".

January 29, 2011

St. George's Newsletter

A brilliant piece by the witty English owners of the best library in town!
Come join us for our one-year 'Countdown to the Mayan Apocalypse as we celebrate 'Die, Mubarak, die' day with our own Tunisialicious one-year 'SpeakEasy' anniversary. Imagine 1989, if all the countries were Romania! Now's your chance to relive the warm glow of citizen e-action, but with the added roulette-wheel of secret service involvement. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. Twitter or Tiananmen?  Imelda Marcos or Mikhail Khordokovsky? Algeria, Libya, Iran,  Morocco and Syria? Does the Russian airport bomb remind you of 2004 (those destroyed apartment blocks in Moscow, just before Putin was voted President?)  Or should we just line up the kulak landlords who've made Berlin what it is today?

It gets packed, but we can always squeeze you in.
'The problem with talking about dark matter and dark energy is that we are all such particle chauvinists.' (Stephen Hawking)
Wednesday 2nd February Saint George's Bookshop Wörther Strasse 27 20:30 Admission free Drinks €1.50

January 28, 2011

Daniel Bell :: In memoriam

Letras Libres publishes today my obituary (en español) of Daniel Bell (1919-2011), one of the most prominent sociologists of our time. He passed away last Tuesday.

January 27, 2011

Under the book: Hieronymus Bosch, Elvis Presley, García Márquez

 The Extraction of the Stone of Madness, Museo del Prado (1475-1480)

Elvis Presley signing autographs outside his home
at 1034 Audubon Drive, Memphis, Tennessee (1956)

 Gabriel García Márquez under Cien años de soledad

January 26, 2011


Today, when I read the magnificent obituary of Daniel Bell published on the New York Times, it felt spooky. First, because it is extremely good and it was published right after his death. Who is able to write such a piece in such a short piece of time, I wondered.

The spookiness reached its summit when I realized that the author, Michael T. Kaufman, passed away more than a year ago, according to his own obituary (I just hope that he did not write it in advance).

The obituary of D. Bell was completed by a (living) reporter and published immediately.

Then I recalled visiting HZ in his office, it was the late 1990's. He looked quite busy, hard-worker as he likes it. - What are you doing? - I am writing the obituary of John Paul II. - Did he die? - Not yet, but eventually he will.

The obituary remained in his hard-disc until April 2010. Then it was published on time.

Foto: Daniel Bell in Milano (1955)

January 22, 2011

Cogitare audere!

The characteristic I admire the most of Octavio Paz is that he shows NO fear whatsoever of thinking by his own. How difficult it is when you were educated in a hardcore way, since it is much more comfortable to let yourself flow with the inertia and induced convictions.

Umberto Eco described it recently: "... credono solo a quello che già sanno e a quello che convalida ciò che hanno già udito".

Dare to think for yourself.

 Alba del Río Castellví, Sense títol

* * *

Entre lo que veo y lo que digo
Octavio Paz

A Roman Jakobson


Entre lo que veo y digo
entre lo que digo y callo,
entre lo que callo y sueño,
entre lo que sueño y olvido,
la poesía.
     Se desliza
entre el sí y el no:
lo que callo,
lo que digo,
lo que olvido.
            No es un decir:
es un hacer.
             Es un hacer
que es un decir.
            La poesía
se dice y se oye:
             es real.
Y apenas digo
        es real,
se disipa.
    ¿Así es más real?

Idea palpable,
             la poesía
va y viene
    entre lo que es
y lo que no es.
          Teje reflejos
y los desteje.
        La poesía
siembra ojos en la página,
siembra palabras en los ojos.
Los ojos hablan,
            las palabras miran,
las miradas piensan.
los pensamientos,
lo que decimos,
el cuerpo de la idea.
            Los ojos
se cierran,
       las palabras se abren. 

January 21, 2011

Undercover: Louis Stettner, Enrique G de la G

Louis Stettner, Tuilleries (1997)

Enrique G de la G, Beso (2009)


January 20, 2011


Louis Stettner: Seagull, Twin Towers (1979)  |  First plane before crash 11/9 (2001)

Grimaldi sur l'amour

Mon ancien professeur Nicolas Grimaldi et l'ancien amant de Carla Bruni parlent de l'amour  ... 

Cela me rappelle que je ne peux pas retarder plus la lecture des livres de Grimaldi sur Proust (sur l'amour et sur la jalousie), hélas!

Madelaine and gelato al limon

For those nostalgic days, nothing better than Proust's madelaine.

Is such a madelaine a real impossibility? Is nostalgia produced because you do flirt with a chimera, of what could had been if...? Flirting is such a bittersweet feeling, similar to nostalgia: some nervous -- or painful -- happiness.

If you feel nostalgic, there is always música ranchera or Jacques Brel to worsen it. There is even a gelato al limon. Ah, the great Paolo Conte... He managed to transform a happy, green ice into a sad stuff. Like nostalgia: it turns completely over happy memories and smiling feelings.

(If it weren't for the microphone, you would think that this clip was recorded yesterday, but it is more than 30 years old, which makes me peruse the nostalgia caused by my own age: what if my past had been different...? Right, it would not be me now. What easy it is to utter it.)

Ah, the wildly musical Hebrew language... (Is it again a chimera or plain hope?)

January 18, 2011

Behlín: Fashion vs Naked

There is that great hit by "Pulp" called Underwear, with witty lyrics:

If fashion is your trade,
then when you are naked
I guess you must be unemployed, yeah...

 Today, Behlín is becoming "world capital" of fashion: Fashion Week (aka Fashion Weak) and Bread & Butter, and who knows what else is going on in this crazy city.

Just if Zoe Duchesne comes, I will attend...
Foto: Sports Illustrated

January 17, 2011

Vivian Maier: Sleep

If you haven't heard about Vivian Maier, you definitely have to check out her story, although there is no much information available.

She was a French girl who came to Chicago in the early 1930's, seems that she had not a family or they had no strong bounds. It seems that she had no formal education, could barely write (in French). She worked most of her life as a nanny, among other little jobs. But her passion has the photography. She took around 100,000 pictures, which she left on her unpaid flat when she got old and sick. The boxes containing the films were sold in an auction, a young guy called John Maloof found them and started checking them. And it is one of the most vast and incredible treasures of street photography, covering many decades. At some point, Maloof -- who had no idea about photography -- got very curious about this woman, googled her and found out that she had died a few days before. (For more details, see this video.)

I made a selection of the 'Sleeping Beauties' she found in Chicago, California and elsewhere. And am afraid that she is getting on my personal ranking as high as her countryman Cartier-Bresson. I just love her work!

Ganas de vivir

"No se podía estar quieto. Había hecho el intento de dormir un rato para apaciguarse, pero el sueño se le había ido. También se le había ido el hambre. No tenía ganas de nada. Sólo de vivir".

Juan Rulfo, ¡Diles que no me maten!

 Fotos: Elliot Erwitt, St. Tropez (1959)

January 16, 2011

Pushcarts: Francis Alÿs, Alain Delorme

Francis Alÿs is a Belgian artist who has been working in Mexico City for the last twenty years or so. I first bumped into him when I discovered his series of pushcarts. The pics are cruelly urban.


Now, French photographer Alain Delorme is doing something similar in China, but with more poetic, harmonic colors.

"Nuit blanche"

Two years ago, I was daydreaming about being with my girl at the Café de Flore. Today, it's about the Café de Fiore.

January 15, 2011

Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade is an artist exploring new perspectives using body-painting made of acrylic. She paints people and things who stop looking like people and things, in order to reveal themselves as (im/expressionist) paintings. In doing so, she reduces three-dimensional objects to two-dimensional objects.

For my birthday I want a portrait by Alexa!

January 13, 2011

Three postcards from Hamburg

The Sartorialist recently said in a short, stimulating documentary film:

"I feel very lucky to get part of my day leading a visual life. (...) to go on just be in the world you are in, see it, keep your eyes open, and really relate to what you're seeing, react to what you're seeing".

I feel touched by his words, since I have became more and more conscious about the importance of visual life the last three or four years.

Obviously he refers to real world, but since I just wake up minutes ago and have seen just this flat where I am staying these days in Hamburg and, of course, the internet, I want to post three powerful images, two of the XIX century, one of yesterday.

When I saw this, I first thought it was a photograph. And I thought it was perfect in its composition. It is known that Maximilian brought the first photographers to Mexico, he was object of the first photographs in that country, and it is also known that the first photographers had a strong artistic education, mostly based on painting. So, it could be possible, that this dramatic composition had been captured by a master photographer. The black/white image did the trick.

But looking carefully it is just impossible to have such a drama in a picture, I thought. Indeed, it is rather a painting by French artist Jean-Paul Laurens called Les derniers moments de Maximilian (1882), which hangs in the Hermitage. It rather looks like this:

Then, while checking out the website of Hamburg's Kunsthalle to prepare my visit, I found this beautiful, minimal, super modern painting by Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810) called Hund, den Mond anbellend. In fact, you can barely see the moon, which is being mostly covered by a bank of clouds (cirrus and nimbus "wrongly" sorted).

Runge, Hund, den Mond anbellend (undated)

Later, in 1926, Miró painted the same motive in a very different way, also modern, but without that breaking spirit of Runge. Rufino Tamayo did the same in different occasions, but Runge's is still my favorite.
 Joan Miró, Perro ladrando a la luna (1926)

 Rufino Tamayo, Perro ladrando a la luna (?)

And finally, an image by The Sartorialist, a fashion-blogger, who took last week this picture of a boyish girl in Florence. Red shoes are definitely my favorite, and in this case the match with her lips, hair lace and wrist band is just perfect. Her most feminine and shy attitude contrasts completely with her masculine outfit and selbstbewusst elegance. A great shot!

The Sartorialist, Black, White, Red, Florence -- Cristina  (2011)

January 10, 2011

Waiting in Houston

I am waiting in Houston for my flight. I observe the people running with their shoes on their hands to catch their flight, security personal attending an alarm ("17, are we clear?"), a 35-year old silicon Barbie in pink, not a single book besides my "On Chesil Beach", but tons of huge foam cups with soft drinks, a Serbian woman speaking on her cell phone holding a DHL package under her arm (now I understand less and less).

I was checking the beauty of the outside world thanks to the services of Google Street View and 9-eyes, while listening to my fav new band, The National. I am a big fan of flying birds on first plane (sometimes it's about butterflies), and creepy horses in the cities, or running children...