quarta-feira, dezembro 30, 2015

terça-feira, dezembro 29, 2015

2015: My Reading Year in Review

And the year ends once again...

Without further ado, my crème-de-la-crème was the following:

(links for each one of the reviews here).

2015 was the beginning of my Shakespeare quest:

Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and I: "The Rub of Death, the Rub of Love"
Shakespeare and I: "Shakespeare's Bastardization"
Shakespeare and I: "Shakespeare's Language"
Shakespeare and I: "A Haiku Poem"
Shakespeare and I: "Love's Prick"
Killing Frenzy: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Burton Raffel, Harold Bloom
Shakespeare vs Computer Science: "Can a Computer Write a Sonnet?"
The Sweet Swan of Avon: "Shakespeare Beyond Doubt - Evidence, Argument, Controversy" by Paul Edmondson, Stanley Wells
Richard Through Several Doppelgängers: "Richard III" by William Shakespeare, Tónan Quito
To Adapt or not to Adapt Shakespeare, That is the Question: "Cinematic Shakespeare" by Michael A Anderegg
Going Through the Numbers: Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing"
Using Ngram Viewer to track popularity of Shakespeare vs his plays and Word Hoard to take verb and modal verb counts of 7 plays
Hail All Things Medieval: "Shakespeare's Ghosts"
To Sonnetate or not to Sonnetate, that is the Question: "Os Sonetos de Shakespeare" by William Shakespeare and Vasco Graça Moura
Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Justice, Pantaloon, and Oblivion: “Soul of the Age” by Jonathan Bate
Shakespeare and I: "Laudate Dominum"
The Englishness of English Literature: “English Literature” by Jonathan Bate
"Shakespeare Expressed: Page, Stage, and Classroom in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries" by Kathryn M. Moncrief (Editor), Kathryn R. McPherson (Editor), Sarah Enloe (Editor)
Camoens vs Shakespeare: "Retratos de Camões" by Vasco Graça Moura
Owning Shakespeare: "Shakespeare - An Introduction (Ideas in Profile)" by Paul Edmondson
The World is a Page: "Shakesperare as Literary Dramatist" by Lukas Erne
No Redemption for First Folio Thieves: "The Shakespeare Thefts" by Eric Rasmussen
A Man’s Obsession with First Folios: “Collecting Shakespeare - The Story of Henry and Emily Folger" by Stephen H. Grant
I think there is more barbarism in eating man alive than to feed upon them being dead: "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare, Robert Langbaum
The Things and the Nothings: "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare, Sylvan Barnet, David L. Stevenson
Life-is-Shakespeare: "William Shakespeare - A Textual Companion" by Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor (NB: not a review; just scattered impressions on the concept of sources)
Shakespeare is Hard, but so is Life: "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare, Burton Raffel, Harold Bloom
The Transformative Power of Theatre: "Power and Desire"/"O poder e o desejo"

2016 commemorates 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare and this special anniversary year is a truly unique opportunity to complete my quest of reading the rest of his entire body of work.

On with the rest of the numbers.

Number of words written in the 82 reviews: 81209 (average 990 words per review)

Number of words written in the 58 non-book reviews: 28246 (average 543 words per review)

Number of words written in the 9 programming posts: 10873 (average 209 words per post)

Number of words written in the 149 reviews, non-book reviews and programming posts: 210238 (average 1411 words per post; average 2312 words per week; average 17520 words per month)

Number of books read 82:

Number of books read per month:

Reading Challenges Year by Year:

My 2015 Reading Challenge:

My Booklikes Profile as of 2015:

Number of book pages read: 19881 (382 pages per week; 1657 pages per month)

Blog Hits Around the World (BookLikes):

Blog Hits Around the World (the blog you're reading now):

Number of posts written between August 2006 and December 2015:

Goals for 2015:

Read more altogether, keep on reading my Rowse (my "Shakespeare in a Year" project will probably be still on hold), because 2016 will have a year-long program that marks 400 years since William Shakespeare’s death. Can't wait to finish in 2016 what I started in 2015...

domingo, dezembro 27, 2015

Ser Duncan the Tall: "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" by George R. R. Martin

Published October 6th 2015.

The Knight has three novellas. To wit:

The Hedge Knight
The Sworn Sword
The Mystery Knight

I’ve read these three novellas previously when they came out in the three different anthologies: Legends I, Legends II, and Warriors. Having read these stories separately before, I was interested to see them put together as one whole piece, where Martin’s suspicious tendency for excellent storytelling could flow freely from one chapter to the next, without having to wait for a new novella’s release.

I’m not a big fantasy fan. I have nothing at all against it – it’s just that I enjoy good science fiction more than I enjoy good fantasy. I’ve read and enjoyed Middlearth, The Magician, Tigana, etc. But then came George R.R. Martin. Several people told me to read the first book in his "A Song of Ice and Fire" saga, "A Game of Thrones". I finally succumbed to the thousand-pager, and I'm now hooked, impatiently waiting for Martin to finish the sixth and seventh books in the series to finally read the fifth, "A Dance with Dragons" (it awaits the publication of the "The Winds of Winter" and "A Dream of Spring" to be tackled...).

"The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword" and "The Mystery Knight" are set one hundred years before "A Game of Thrones". As is usual in his books, although the plot is good, it pales before his ability to tell a story. Storytelling in high gear... Better yet, one notices people, events and places which will become key in the future. Details and major story lines are equally weaved into "The Hedge Knight" and I've discovered why the Fossoways had a red and a green apple in their shield, and the start of the chain of events which will put the Mad King in the throne...

There’s nothing very noticeable about this simple story, a fact that serves to accentuate Martin’s talent. Seldom do I experience the magic of a rapid page-turner these days. My interior imagery is loaded with too many books to feel as excited anymore (sometimes it happens...).

But this man issues words from his fingers that are pure genre nirvana.

I can’t quite determine what it's that makes his writing so addictive. Sentences, paragraphs and pages collude to urge you to read on and on and on. One begins his books as reader and consumer and one ends them as slave... I love how George R.R. Martin mixes an element of mystery into his knight’s tale.

With all the characters that Martin invents I've noticed Lord Gorman Peake of Starpike. Is it is an homage to Mervyn Peake, who wrote the Gormenghast books, who had a main character named Steerpike?

All told, these 3 novellas still lack the mythological depth of Ice and Fire. 

Gary Gianni, who is best known for his work on the comic strip Prince Valiant is also a very fine addition to the book. As a lifelong bibliophile I began my love affair with books as a child with picture books, often a favorite illustrated compilation of fairy tales. Gianni’s artwork brings back the magic of childhood story time and completes the enchantment woven from George R. R. Martin’s enthralling tales.

Illustrations by Gary Gianni.

terça-feira, dezembro 22, 2015

Movie Review: "Star Wars - The Force Still Slumbers"

(Darren Wallace's picture)

Warning: Rant and mild spoilers ahead.

Before going to bed, and while it's still fresh, here is my impression dump.

Dark Side take heed! Stormtrooper Concierge man and Scrounger Chick are coming to kick all your highly skilled butts. Train to Kingdom Come all you like, build yourselves lightsabers, train in the dark side all you want, or gather a corps of highly trained individuals, but you won’t stand a chance even with our off-the-cuff skills when dealing with a power we just discovered was all true 15 minutes ago! Poor sap. It took Luke three movies and thrice training with a one thousand year old and experienced professor to master the force and lightsaber jousting but now we have what? Rey! Give her an encouragement talk by granny Solo, and she’ll master everything from mind handling to clairvoyance and even lightsaber combat in 2 hours!

JJ Abrams, and his minions are running amok again. Someone needs to fire Obi-wan and Yoda as professors….Enlist Han and just go around telling force sensitives “It’s really true….. The whole thing” and voilà, we get yourselves the new Jedi Order! Abrams he’s a guy when he faces a choice of challenging the viewer or eliciting an emotional response always chooses the later (he demolished Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek, basically turning it into a combination of The X-Men meet Tom Cruise).

This is what I’ve suspected ever since this life-long Trek fan stumbled confusedly out of “Into Darkness” on opening day wishing for those two hours of his life to have never occurred.  
All of Abrams' trademarks are on full display here. There’s no character build-up, the scenes that are supposed to be dramatic are just lackadaisical. I was expecting predictability but at least make it good, make it more dramatic, exciting so that I can connect with the characters or at least care about them. Instead, they’re just going through the motions.

I left the theater a few hours ago, and was dismayed. Perhaps I went in feeling already pessimistic, but I really wanted the movie to be good. It wasn’t. The lapses in logic compound upon each other to such a degree that I was thoroughly removed from the adventure by the time the third part started. A stale revamp of concepts we saw more than 30 years ago that now appear to be handed out less because they serve a story or character development, and more because a bunch of people will get to say, “This is like that scene in the original!”

It’s all pretty, and touches on the bits of nostalgia as I’m sure Disney executives demanded. It didn’t make me wince like the prequels, but there’s nothing meaningful underneath. There are interesting characters, good and evil, but whatever is driving them, personally and all told, isn’t really even ingrained let alone explored. Silly as they were, the originals had stamina. This one just felt like it’s playing the same tune with less meaningful bands. It’s the difference between a movie literally designed to bring out a response in experiencing it, and a story, freshly-told. Lucas at least tried to move the saga in different directions. I’m not expecting the Star Wars saga to be highfalutin films. For starters, I never thought it had an amazing story line – it didn’t, however it was one of a kind which made it good. Now all it has potential in is filling the moronic “missing” story lines to keep making crap movies. It’s just a predictable, corporate rehash, triggered purely by Disney wanting another licensed franchise to supplement their meager Marvel Empire. It did entertain me for a couple hours, but I was looking to have my mind blown and that’s just did not happen.

The best thing you can say about this film is that it’s better than any of the prequels. Not high praise, by any means.

Rant aside, I’d give it 6/10 but man, it’s riddled with plot holes as large as a crater.

NB: I've got to mention Captain Phasma?? I was expecting Brienne of Tarth with an armour, instead I was given an incompetent and blundering bozo. The character’s exterior did not map to its interior. I expected a character even more menacing than Kylo Ren. “I expected” seems to be the theme for this 7th entry.

sábado, dezembro 19, 2015

SF will not become SciFi: "Galactic North" by Alastair Reynolds

Published 2007.

Is SF becoming SciFi? I hope not.

Dumbing down is the order of the day. Our marketing and publishing departments no longer want to see SF in SciFi, maybe because it couldn’t be labeled, but I think, like many others, because so long as they called it “SciFi” they had to give scifi. Now that they’re calling it “SyFy”, they can put on anything. The name isn’t a promise, it’s just a (TV) brand. Gynmastic shows, Wrestling, Ghost hunting, etc., with some science twists, like making ice cream with liquid nitrogen make it possible to brand something trivial as SyFy.

Not SF, Not SciFi. SyFy. An endless tirade of horror movies based on some crappy mutant animal ("Shark Attack” comes to mind).

I think this is the reason that SF has already kicked the bucket a few years ago. TV is telling us that SyFy is this kind of shit, instead of stories of the amazing and the speculative, the incredible and the awe-inspiring, the heroic and the terrible. Instead, we get the lowbrow and the crap, the easy and the lowest common denominator.

As I've always thought SF is supposed to inspire me to imagine. Instead, we’re being spoon fed. On top of that we're coming lazy. SF is just along for the ride. Using our imagination is getting harder, so don’t bother. Give me fast food-SF (the SyFy kind). Apply the couch potato modus operandi to the “difficult” (*cough*bullshit*cough*) sort of science fiction I like and voilà, I’m reading/watching something very remotely connected with SF.

I've always thought the cycles in science are linked to the cycles in engineering, which in turn are linked to the cycle in economic "sciences". With SF relying on science for some (not all) new input, it is not surprising we also have up and downs in SF. When we're in a trough economics-wise, it's time for the SyFy-look-alikes to take over. As a long time reader, new ideas in SF mean that publishers have to take a bigger risk than with the more tried and tested worlds and ideas.  So when we have a recession, as we do now, we will see less innovative SF coming into the bookstores. Once things start moving economically again, then innovative SF will pick up.

"Galactic North" is not the rise of the Phoenix yet. The usual problems plaguing Reynolds' fiction are still present, but these so-called problems are not limited to Reynolds. They are unfortunately present in most of today's SF literature. And that is, *pause for effect*, because the SF of today is crap due to the absence of believable character(s)!!  On top of that and coming to “Galactic North” again, we’ve other “issues”: me being led by the hand through the plot one frigging step at a time , moralizing that we can see a mile away, dialogue plot-oriented only, plot twists being telegraphed all the time, etc.

But I haven’t lost hope on Reynolds yet. Read the more recent "Slow Bullets" . You’ll be surprised. I know I was.

Despite the kind of SF being written today, I tend to think it's about to rise like a phoenix – only this time, it’s going to be huge!

SF = Speculative Fiction.

sexta-feira, dezembro 18, 2015

Anna Karenina and a Glass of Remy Martin: "Sono" by Haruki Murakami

Published in English in 1989 as "Sleep" (Portuguese Edition published 2013).

Sometimes the idea of ​​wasting time by being asleep goes through my mind. That I could or should be producing something useful (like reading or making stuff); because sleep would be something useless. Reading, watching, writing or doing any other activity at dawn. In some sleepless nights during college, I did it and it seemed to have the power to prolong my life. I sort of thought aloud: "Hey, life is passing, the hands of the clock are cruel: Do not sleep! Or, sleep less and enjoy more."

I believed that this was the thinking of a very few. Reading this Murakami, I once again identified myself with some ideas of the main character. I tried an experiment. I read the first page during the day, and I then stopped and decided to read it again after midnight, thus trying to reproduce the unnamed character’s environment. I felt a mixture of anxiety and peace in the quiet of the morning. In each author's description regarding the activities and night life of the woman who did not sleep for 17 days, the same scene materialized in front of me and I saw her in the living room, holding Anna Karenina and a glass of Remy Martin. Like going out at dawn and feeling the sense of danger and deliverance narrated in the Murakami’s story.

The description of the nightmare, which occurred before the continuous wakefulness, is a striking moment: "Fiquei ali imobilizada, a ouvir a minha própria respiração no seu rumor cavernoso, terrivelmente desagradável, como se eu ocupasse todo o espaço de uma enorme caverna.(I stood still, listening to my own labored breathing, as if I were stretched out full length on the floor of a huge cavern). The SFional manifested itself in the figure of a black figure in front of her: "Pareceu-me distinguir vagamente no escuro qualquer coisa aos meus pés, uma sombra negra.” (Just then I seemed to catch a glimpse of something at the foot of the bed, something like a vague, black shadow).

The adjectival death from lack of sleep of the (un)happy woman: "Fechei os olhos e experimentei recordar-me de como era ter sono, mas, dentro de mim, existia apenas uma treva vigilante. Uma treva vigilante: isso fazia-me pensar na morte.”(I closed my eyes and tried to recall the sensation of sleeping, but all that existed for me inside was a watchful darkness. A watchful darkness: what it called to mind was death.)

“Se a morte não significasse uma condição de repouso para os comuns mortais, como nós, que sinal de redenção poderíamos esperar nesta vida imperfeita e carregada de tormentos?” (If the state of death was not to be a rest for us, then what was going to redeem this imperfect life of ours, so fraught with exhaustion?). This excerpt sent me to people in a vegetative state or in a coma and to a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, 27: 52-52 (taken from my New King James Bible): "and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many."

Dying is associated with sleep in two other literary works. William Shakespeare, Hamlet in Act III, scene 1, recites the famous monologue:

"To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause."

Also in chapter XIX of "The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas" by Machado de Assis it’s said: "Fiquei só; mas a musa do capitão varrera-me do espírito os pensamentos maus: preferi dormir, que é um modo interino de morrer“(I was left alone, but the captain's muse had swept away all evil thoughts from my spirit. I preferred going to sleep, which is an interim way of dying.)

What about her final? It depends on interpretation and imagination of each reader. I know what I thought, but I won’t “verbalize” it here”…

Reading Murakami always puts my cognitive fitness to the test. Murakami’s style depends largely on the ability/ sensitivity of the reader to capture or see any meaning in the story.

NB: Fabulous images by Kat Menschik, whose uncomfortable drawings are more than an apt follow-up to the words of Murakami, as an extra addition to chilling sense of foreboding.

quinta-feira, dezembro 17, 2015

Rebus On His Last Legs: "Even Dogs in the Wild" by Ian Rankin

Published November 5th 2015.

It feels like the end of a long song though – men like Cafferty and Joe Stark … and me too, come to that … we’re on our last legs. Our way of thinking seems … I don’t know.’

‘Last century?’

‘Aye, maybe.’ (page 243)

In the last month I've read three novels from three old hands at writing Crime Fiction: Michael Connelly, Robert Crais and now Ian Rankin (I must say the most satisfying was Connelly's).

I'm still digesting it. Is it the best he's ever written? No. It has a somewhat different feel to it. I can’t quite verbalise what… The word that comes to mind is "contemporary".

As usual the plot seems a bit contrived. There are multiple connected sub-plots, but the threads strain credulity. Although Rankin strains mightily to make the whole thing work, by the end of the book the whole thing sort of unravels. On top of that, there are way too many side stories and characters fighting for the spotlight, which makes nigh on impossible to get to know DI Rebus the way he ought to be known. I much prefer the earlier Rebus. He's always at his best playing dark and dirty games, borderline or over the line in terms of breaking the law himself and joining forces with the dark side.

When I come back to a Rebus book just out, I always ask myself: Is Rankin still doing a good job at keeping Rebus true to form? The answer is yes and no.
Because he's no longer in the police force, maybe he’s still not loathed and feared by colleagues and criminals alike as he used to be.
But he still won’t give you the time of day unless you have something he needs. Of course, now that he's retired he's all the time in the world.
But he’s still one of the characters I love the most in terms of Crime Fiction reading (the others are Bosch and Dalglish).
But even if he has one foot in the grave I still rejoice he’s back, and that’s what matters.

The old malcontent still has his hooks in me...

quarta-feira, dezembro 16, 2015

Best Rock Tracks and Albums 2015

After listening to literally hundreds of albums, 2015 turned out to be better than 2014.

Without further ado, here's my list of tracks and albums.

Best Tracks:

Back On My Trail by Revolution Saints

I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry by Eclipse

Diamonds 7th Heaven

Stand On Your Feet by Eclipse

The One by Praying Mantis

Turn Back Time by Revolution Saints

You're The Best Thing About Me by FM

Best Of Me by Blood Red Saints

Inside Me by A Life Divided

Raintown by Issa

She's On Fire 7th Heaven

I Believe by Khymera

Long Time Coming by Issa

Young And Bulletproof by 7th Heaven

Right Where I Belong by A Life Divided

Bleed in the Rain by Find Me

Everything by The Poodles

Heartbeat by Issa

Land of Golden Dreams by Khymera

Ghost Inside My Heart by Issa

My Apology by A Life Divided

Believe by A Life Divided

Burn The Apocalypse DJ

Lay Me Down by A Life Divided

Take Me With You by 7th Heaven

Did You Feel Any Love by Find Me

Only You by Issa

Never Look Away by Magnus Karlsson's Free Fall

Right Now by Michael Kiske, Amanda Somerville

Best Albums:

Dark Angel by Find Me

Armageddonize by Eclipse

Speedway by Blood Red Saints

Crossfire by Issa

The Grand Design by Khymera

Next by 7th Heaven

Human by A Life [Divided]

The Apocalypse DJ by Smash Into Pieces

Revolution Saints by Revolution Saints

State of Rock by C.O.P (Grand Illusion)

Revolution by Art Nation

terça-feira, dezembro 15, 2015

Deep Blue: "River Gurara Shipwreck" (38°24'42"N - 9°13'11"W), 24/11/2001, 03/08/2002

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(From left to right, Paulo Heitor, Me, Pedro Ferraz, River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(Running out of Nitrox mixture, River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 24/11/2001)

(Going down to the River Gurara Shipwreck, 03/08/2002)

(One of balustrades at the River Gurara Shipwreck, 03/08/2002)

(On my way to the River Gurara Shipwreck, 03/08/2002)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 03/08/2002)

(River Gurara Shipwreck, 03/08/2002)

Check Photo Gallery here.

NB: All photos courtesy of Paulo Heitor's Nikon.

"From birth man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders ... But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free. Buoyed by water, he can fly in any direction—up, down, sideways—by merely flipping his hand. Underwater, man becomes an archangel." 

J.-Y. Cousteau

Robert Frost once said writing free verse was like "playing tennis without a net."

I made this free verse poem just goofing off: 

Plunging beneath the blue waters
And as it all finally reposes
So does silence
Being broken only by the sound of the bubbles
Bubbles bursting from my mouth
Temporarily staggering toward the blue above
I go deeper
As far as I can before my breath runs out
Toward an unattainable deep blue
Where a whole new world lies in waiting
Out of reach from the noisy uproar above
Past the unyielding rocks
Moving gently upward
A school of glittering fish scatters at my appearance
The sea tangle dances around
Entangling any foolish enough to wander too close
I’m running out of air 
Time is too short
Back to where I’m from
Beyond the lush and sublimely unexplored world below me
I am wistful to part
Because time
Is what makes it so special

segunda-feira, dezembro 14, 2015

A Short Tale Suggested by a Murnau Picture Taken from Faust: "Schatten im Friedhof" by Manuel Augusto Antão

(Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1888–1931) Faust: Eine deutsche Volkssage, Deutschland 1926, Filmstill Stummfilm, schwarz-weiß, deutsche Zwischentitel © Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Bildquelle: Städel Museum)

Die dort liegenden Toten zu Wort kommen. Es entsteht ein Stimmengewirr aus Murmuln, Stöhnen, Seufzen und Weinen, Lachen, Rufen, Grunzen, Glucksen und Singen. Es sind hauptsächlich die Stimmen von Tätern und Opfern des Kriges. Auf dem Friedhof hört man aber auch das Stöhnen der Kriegsversehrten, für der Erlkönig das Invalidenhaus und den Friedhof hat bauen lassen. An diesem Ort, der durchhaus ein “lieu de mémoire” ist, befinden sich noch wie ein Echo, für die, die fähig sind, es zu vernehmen, die Spuren der gewaltasam portugiesischen Vergangenheit: nicht nur das Leiden derer, die ihr Leben für die Prinzen und seines Königs geopfert haben, sondern auch die Kämpfer der Befreiungskriege gegen die anderen Könige. Später ist die Mauer gerade an diesem Ort errichtet worden und hier wurde ein Flüchtling aus Syrien von der Soldaten erschossen. Dieser Friedhof ist ein “Ort der Gewalt” in dem Sinne, dass sich hier eine gewalttätige Geschichte ablesen lässt – aber nur von denen, die einen Teil davon erlebt haben, oder darüber gelesen und nachgedacht haben. Im Vordergrund steht die Geschichte der unerwiderten Liebe von Maria zu Josef, einem portugiesischen Soldaten, insgeheim Waffenhändler und selber Flieger, der ihr sein Zimmer zur Übernachtung anbietet. Obwohl ein Vorhang die beiden trennt, entsteht in dieser Nacht eine intime Atmösphare, in der sie einander von sich erzählen, von ihren Afftekten und bisherigen Leben; Maria verliebt sich in ihn, er hingegen erzählt von einer früheren verbotenen Liebe, an der er scheinbar immer noch hängt. In dieser Nacht lässt sich der sonst immer schweigsame Josef ein wening durchschauen. Seine düstere Seite kennt Maria erst später, als sie seinem Rat folgt, Unterstützung für ihre Flugprojekte bei den anderen Soldaten zu suchen. Josef hatte ihr nicht klar gemacht, dass man ihr Bedingungen für dir Bereitstellung einer Maschine stellen würde, die ihr zuwider waren, nämlich Waffenschmuggel und Spionage…

Fortsetzung folgt.

NB: Murnau, along with other German artists, always makes me think (and write) in German…

domingo, dezembro 13, 2015

What Makes a Writer: "The Promise" by Robert Crais

Published November 10th 2015

What is a writer? It is spending time devising plots in a basement with the help of a dictionary. And why do they do that? Why not do something else? What makes a writer? He could be doing something else, he could be picking mushrooms. But instead, he’s in his basement hammering the keyboard.  Why? Doesn’t he have anything better to do, or anything else he can do? It’s a way of passing time for him, but not for some readers.

In a nutshell, because book reviewing was not meant for books like these:

- Great amount of detail describing the actual time and the distance required to drive somewhere;
- Very badly written;
- Very filmy, like a would-be movie script;
- It just felt forced beginning to end. The plot was meandering and ridiculous and the ending was so simply awful;
- With too many character's perspectives plot was a very disjointed affair;
- Joe Pike was even more monosyllabic than usual. Was he there at all there??
- What’s with the dog's "internal" monologues??
- The bad guy just didn't resonate;
- There never seemed to be much intrigue to the story;
- There were some awkward and spotty moments;
- This series keeps getting worse;
- We know Jon Stone speaks yet another language, this time round, Bulgarian…
- Go read Michael Connelly or Ian Rankin. Also with series for more than 20 years under their belts, but still worth reading.

sábado, dezembro 12, 2015

To Read What Hasn’t Been Written: "Ler o Que Não Foi Escrito" by João Barrento, Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan

Published 2005.

“Ler o Que Não Foi Escrito - Conversa inacabada entre Walter Benjamin e Paul Celan” (To Read What Hasn’t Been Written – Unfinished conversation between Walter Benjamin and Paul Celan)

I’ve always been interested in the “mechanics” of translation. To be interested in the inner workings of translation is to be interested in reading Walter Benjamin, which I’ve been doing for a long time. Once again the influence of one of my German professors: Winfried Scheulen.

The Portuguese German studies owes a lot to Prof. João Barrento, namely his monumental translations from German into Portuguese of poets like Goethe, Musil, Celan, and Benjamin, to name just a few of the great German thinkers that we’re able to read in Portuguese because of his efforts. German translation is synonym with the name “Barrento”. I still remember one of his notes regarding the difficulty in translating German texts with many relative clauses…the problem lies in the fact that Portuguese does not allow the construction of nested clauses one after the other, as it’s pretty common in German, at least in literary texts.

This book comprises two of my favourite authors: Walter Benjamin and Paul Celan. I’ve written a lot about Celan, but it’s the first time I’m dealing with Benjamin. This is neither the time nor the place for that. My dealings with Benjamin will remain unsaid for the time being. What interests me here is the way Barrento was able to “verbalize” a philosophical conversation between these two, namely to put on paper something that never took place. If this conversation were to have taken place, who would have be better equipped to eavesdrop into these ponderings than Barrento himself?

I won't dwell on it. I’ll try instead to elevate our mental awareness by just giving you two excerpts from the book, wherein these two passages will give us a nice philosophical and philological sum-up by way of Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan, and João Barrento:

Se quisermos olhar a História como um texto, então aplicar-se-á a ela o que um autor recente diz dos textos literários: em ambos o passado depositou imagens comparáveis àquelas que foram fixadas numa chapa sensível à luz […] O método histórico é, assim, filológico, e assenta sobre o livro da vida. Hofmannsthal fala de ‘ler o que não foi escrito’. O leitor que assim lê é o verdadeiro historiador.(Page 59)

Walter Benjamin, in “Sobre o Conceito da História/On the Concept of History”

My own attempt at translating this: "If we want to look at History as a text, then we’ll be able to apply to it what a recent author says about literary texts: in both, the past has deposited images comparable to those that were fixated on a light-sensitised plate […] The historical method is thus philological and rests upon the book of life. Hofmannsthal talks about ‘reading what has not been written’. The reader who reads like this is the real historian."

And now Paul Celan:

“Não te escrevas
entre os mundos,
ergue-te contra
a variedade  de sentidos,
Confia no rasto das lágrimas
e aprende a viver.”

(Schreib dich nicht
Zwischen die Welten,
Komm auf gegen
Der Bedeutungen Vielfalt,
Vertrau der Tränenspur
Und lerne leben.”

Paul Celan, in “a Morte É Uma Flor/Death Is a Flower” (translation by João Barrento)

Now in English, the abovementioned Celan’s poem, in a translation of mine, for the benefit of my English-speaking friends:

“Don’t write yourself
In between worlds,
Rise yourself against
the wide range of meanings,
Rely upon the Trail of Tears
And learn to live”