January 26, 2017

"Cosante", de Octavio Paz


Mi amigo José Molina recuerda este poema de Octavio Paz a propósito de la muralla que quiere construir Trump entre México y Estados Unidos.


Con la lengua cortada
y los ojos abiertos
el ruiseñor en la muralla

Ojos de pena acumulada
y plumaje de sangre
el ruiseñor en la muralla

Plumas de sangre y breve llamarada
agua recién nacida en la garganta
el ruiseñor en la muralla

Agua que corre enamorada
agua con alas
el ruiseñor en la muralla

Entre las piedras negras la voz blanca
del agua enamorada
el ruiseñor en la muralla

Con la lengua cortada canta
sangre sobre la piedra
el ruiseñor en la muralla


Audio: Cosante leído por el propio Octavio Paz


Breathless


I have been reading about Saas-Fee, a little ski resort in Switzerland. I haven't been there, but André Gide and Carl Zuckmayer did, and described the impression they got when seeing the Alpine landscape there.

Both coincide in something: the beauty stole their breath.

André Gide [in English, alas]: “The undiscerning author stops awhile to regain his breath, and wonders with some anxiety where his tale will take him”.

Carl Zuckmayer: Wieder sieht man nichts als die Wände der Schlucht. Dann biegt man, schon auf der Höhe der Ortschaft, um eine Felsenecke und steht ganz plötzlich vor einem Anblick, wie er nie und nirgends begegnet ist. Man steht am Ende der Welt und zugleich an ihrem Ursprung, an ihrem Anbeginn und in ihrer Mitte. Gewaltiger silberner Rahmen, im Halbrund geschlossen, nach Süden von Schneegipfeln in einer Anordnung von unerklärlicher Harmonie, nach Westen von einer Kette gotischer Kathedraltürme. Zuerst kann man nur da hinaufschauen, es verschlägt einem den Atem. Dann sieht man vor sich den Ort Saas-Fee...


I had always thought this was just a metaphor until last summer, when I experienced exactly that same sensation upon arriving at Glacier Point, in Yosemite National Park. The landscape made me breathless.

Zuckmayer's words are powerful: you are standing at the end of the world and at its origin, at its beginning and in its middle. 

No picture can retrieve its magnificence, you have to be there.



View from Glacier Point towards Half Dome and beyond




video


January 25, 2017

Presencia de Octavio Paz hoy







Tuve el gusto la semana pasada de conocer a Enrique Müller, reconocido periodista iberoamericano. Al final de nuestra conversación en la Deutsche Welle me contó que había conocido y entrevistado a Octavio Paz. Tuvo la gentileza de enviarme una entrevista que le hizo con ocasión de una visita a España y otra anterior cuando cumplió setenta años. Y yo no puedo estar ahora mismo más emocionado por haberlas leído treinta y pico años después. Lo cual asusta: tienen una vigencia absoluta.

Me quedo con dos o tres frases del lúcido Paz, ese valiente que nunca le tuvo miedo a pensar y, como me gusta entender sus ensayos, a "pensar en voz alta".

"No se puede hacer poesía todo el día, porque se convierte en religión y el peligro es volverse beato".

Me he descubierto las últimas semanas con un gran interés en la poesía. ¿Será a causa de la situación política por la que atravesamos? Esta mañana, al despertar, leí que Trump va a firmar hoy la orden para alzar el muro entre México y Estados Unidos. Sobra decir que el gobierno mexicano no ha reaccionado, pazguato como es.

Enrique Müller tuvo la gentileza de incluir en su entrevista, a manera de adelanto de Árbol adentro, el "Proema" de Paz:

    A veces la poesía es el vértigo de los cuerpos y el vértigo de la dicha y el vértigo de la muerte;
    el paseo con los ojos cerrados al borde del despeñadero y la verbena en los jardines submarinos;
    la risa que incendia los preceptos y los santos mandamientos;
    el descenso de las palabras paracaídas sobre los arenales de la página;
    la desesperación que se embarca en un barco de papel y atraviesa,
    durante cuarenta noches y cuarenta días, el mar de la angustia nocturna y el pedregal de la angustia diurna;
    la idolatría al yo y la execración al yo y la disipación del yo;
    la degollación de los epítetos, el entierro de los espejos;
    la recolección de los pronombres acabados de cortar en el jardín de Epicuro y en el de Netzahualcoyotl;
    el solo de flauta en la terraza de la memoria y el baile de llamas en la cueva del pensamiento;
    las migraciones de miríadas de verbos, alas y garras, semillas y manos;
    los substantivos óseos y llenos de raíces, plantados en las ondulaciones del lenguaje;
    el amor a lo nunca visto y el amor a lo nunca oído y el amor a lo nunca dicho: el amor al amor. 


Sílabas semillas.

Paz, retratado por don Manuel Álvarez Bravo



Me quedo con las migraciones de miríadas de verbos –esperanzar, soñar, esforzar, sufrir, trabajar, vivir– y de manos –zacatecanas, otomíes, desvalidas, callosas, maternas, abuelescas, campesinas, afanadoras, tiendecamas y limpiacacas– que intentan salir de la cloaca en que se ha convertido México, para toparse con un muro infame.

Ante esto: ¿poesía? Parece una inocentada. Y, sin embargo, la poesía es la celda solar que recarga las pozas de energía para continuar.

La otra frase de Paz que me sacudió es de una editorial de Vuelta: "Aprender a dudar es aprender a pensar". Paz lo decía con relación al urgente examen de consciencia que deben practicar los países latinoamericanos. Sí, pero también dijo Paz unos años más tarde, cuando recibió el Nobel, que "aprender a sonreír es aprender a ser libres".

En la entrevista de Enrique Müller se menciona una disputa entre Günter Grass y Vargas Llosa, que surgió cuando el peruano le reprochó a García Márquez su simpatía por el régimen de Fidel Castro. Qué elocuente resuena esta discusión tras la muerte de Fidel.



January 24, 2017

"Let America be America Again", by Langston Hughes


Filmmaker Michael Moore draw my attention to this poem by Langston Hughes: "Let America be America Again", written in 1936, published in 1936 by Esquire (Oh, those days are gone...).

This sad poem reflects the sense that the American Dream is not for minorities nor for the underclass.

The East and West Coasts are two parenthesis in America. Everything in between is the "forgotten America" – wrongly forgotten by Democrats. Trump saw this and gained all those people. The paradox is that they voted "anti-Establishment" by voting a corrupt, WASP, New Yorker who is a billionaire. Ignorance at its worst!

Here is the poem.


Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the black man bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the black man, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The abuse and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again

January 23, 2017

Sic transit gloria mundi: Gabriel Orozco, Magnum Photos


On Trump's Inauguration Day (for me: The Real Black Friday), Magnum Photos published this picture on it's Instagram stories timeline – without further credits.

I thought of Rome and the Latin phrase: Sic transit gloria mundi! I take it as the beginning of the end of the American Century.

What comes next? China, Russia, an Arab League? For now, we have art to cope with it.


Gabriel Orozco


Magnum Photos

January 20, 2017

El Viernes Más Negro: Trump en la Casa Blanca


Llegó El Viernes Más Negro, el horror de nuestra época: Trump está a unas horas de asumir la presidencia de los Estados Unidos. Ninguna elección me había preocupado tanto como esta, ni las mexicanas, en las que he votado, excepto en 2012, por "falta de boletas electorales", ni en las de ningún otro país.

Se avecinan tiempos aciagos para todos, por decir lo menos, desde los peces de los océanos y las abejas hasta los líderes de la Unión Europea.

Me invitó la Deutsche Welle el día de ayer a un panel para discutir sobre Trump. No puedo incluir el video aquí, pero se puede ver en la página de su programa Cuadriga, en español.







January 18, 2017

Joseph Albers in Mexico




Joseph Albers, one of the founders of Bauhaus and of Black Mountain College, was an enthusiastic photographer. He traveled to Mexico and shoot his camera amid archeological ruins. 

A selection of his photographs was published by the MoMA in 1987 (and republished last year) under the title The Photographs of Josef Albers. A Selection From The Collection of The Josef Albers Foundation, following an exhibition.

Mexico made a deep impression on him. 'Mexico,' he wrote in amazement to Kandinsky, 'is truly the promised land of abstract art.'

On this regards, The Albers Foundation tells this story:

"He might have been thinking of Modernist painters such as Carlos Mérida, say, but he wasn't. What the couple had found in Mexico was an abstraction far older and, to their minds, more modern. Driving to an Aztec site, they had been stopped by a boy selling a turkey wrapped in a blanket. Anni, typically, ignored the bird for the fabric. Then the boy took some fragments from a bag—pre-Columbian pottery figures, maybe dating from the time of Christ. They were the kind of object that had been made in their millions in Mexico, and for hundreds of years; things you could find buried in any field.

Josef and Anni were transfixed. Part of the Bauhaus project had been to eliminate the ego in art, the whole cult of originality. In a time of mechanical reproduction and the aesthetic it shaped, signatures and authorship were decadent luxuries. What mattered was to make objects that anyone could use, and that everyone would want to—to find a universal language of art, made up of shapes and forms and colours. Here, in Mexico, was a civilisation quite literally built on these things. Looking at the anonymous work of an indigenous artist, Anni breathed: 'We're not alone any more.'"

I remember seeing at least two paintings by Josef Albers in Casa Barragán. One is leaning on a table, the other one next to a big window and already damaged by the sun.







Josef Albers, Monte Albán, Mexico, ca. 1939 




Josef Albers, Quetzalcoatl Monument, Calixtlahuaca, no date




Photos: © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany 1976



Josef Albers in Luis Barragán's private home (photographer unknown)



January 15, 2017

Hitlerian Trump: Letras Libres, Istoé


To me, this is clearly plagiarism: Istoé not only made the same Hitlerian wink that Letras Libres had used, but even used exactly the same portrait of Trump. Last year, the cover made headlines among international press, such as at The Huffington Post.



Letras Libres, Mexico, October 2016



Istoé, Brazil, January 13, 2017


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