28 março 2008

Um Coelho com 11 quilos 11

E um «pequenito» com 7 quilos 7

Der Spiegel

What does the Dalai Lama actually stand for?

Last November, a couple of weeks after the Dalai Lama received a Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush, his old Land Rover went on sale on eBay. Sharon Stone, who once introduced the Tibetan leader at a fundraiser as “Mr. Please, Please, Please Let Me Back Into China!” (she meant Tibet), announced the auction on YouTube, promising the prospective winner of the 1966 station wagon, “You’ll just laugh the whole time that you’re in it!” The bidding closed at more than eighty thousand dollars. The Dalai Lama, whom Larry King, on CNN, once referred to as a Muslim, has also received the Lifetime Achievement award of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. He is the only Nobel laureate to appear in an advertisement for Apple and guest-edit French Vogue. Martin Scorsese and Brad Pitt have helped commemorate his Lhasa childhood on film. He gave a lecture at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Washington, D.C., in 2005. This spring, in Germany, he will speak on human rights and globalization. For someone who claims to be “a simple Buddhist monk,” the Dalai Lama has a large carbon footprint and often seems as ubiquitous as Britney Spears.

As Pico Iyer writes in his new book, “The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama” (Knopf; $24), it is easy to imagine that the Dalai Lama is “the plaything of movie stars and millionaires.” Certainly, like all those who stress the importance of love, compassion, gentle persuasion, and other unimpeachably good things, the Dalai Lama can appear a bit dull. Precepts such as “violence breeds violence” or “the quality of means determine ends” may be ethically sound, but they don’t seem to possess the intellectual complexity that would make them engaging as ideas. Since the Dalai Lama speaks English badly, and frequently collapses into prolonged fits of giggling, he can also give the impression that he is, as Iyer reports a journalist saying, “not the brightest bulb in the room.”

His simple-Buddhist-monk persona invites skepticism, even scorn. “I have heard cynics who say he’s a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes,” Rupert Murdoch has said. Christopher Hitchens accuses the Dalai Lama of claiming to be a “hereditary king appointed by heaven itself” and of enforcing “one-man rule” in Dharamsala, the town in the Indian Himalayas that serves as a capital for the more than a hundred and fifty thousand Tibetans in exile. The Chinese government routinely denounces him as a “splittist,” who is plotting to return Tibet to the corrupt feudal and monastic rule from which Chinese Communists liberated it, in 1951. Many Tibetans in exile grumble that he is too attached to nonviolence, and too much in the grip of Western event coördinators, to prevent the Chinese from colonizing Tibet.

But the events of recent weeks are a reminder of the fervor he inspires among the six million ethnic Tibetans. It was a protest on the forty-ninth anniversary of his exile that led to the current civil unrest in Lhasa; the initial peaceful demonstrations met with a predictably harsh response from the Chinese authorities. As the prominent Chinese intellectual Wang Lixiong acknowledges, “Virtually all Tibetans have the Dalai in their hearts.” And the more that their economic prospects and traditional culture are undermined by Han Chinese immigration, the more this long-distance reverence is likely to grow.

Iyer writes that “the heart and soul, quite literally, of the Dalai Lama’s life existed precisely in parts that most of us couldn’t see.” His arduous daily regimen begins at 3:30 A.M., after which he proceeds, as he told Iyer, to “meditation, prostration, reciting special mantras, then more meditation and more prostrations, followed by reading Tibetan philosophy or other texts; then reading and studying and, in the evening, ‘some meditation—evening meditation—for about an hour. Then, at eight-thirty, sleep.’ ”

This sounds like a lot of meditation and reading for a monk in his seventies—especially someone who, beginning at the age of six, underwent a gruelling education for nearly two decades in Buddhist metaphysics, Tibetan art and culture, logic, Sanskrit, and traditional medicine, and eventually secured a geshe degree (roughly equivalent to a doctorate in Buddhist philosophy). But Buddhist spiritual practice is relentlessly exacting. “Strive on diligently” were the Buddha’s last words, and even the Dalai Lama can’t presume to have reached a summit of wisdom and serenity. It is his fairy-tale childhood that exalts him above most mortals. Born in 1935 to a family of farmers in the outer reaches of the Tibetan cultural domain, he was a two-year-old toddler when a search party of monks from Lhasa identified him as the potential reincarnation of the recently deceased Thirteenth Dalai Lama. Rainbows arcing across the northeastern skies of Lhasa were among the colorful portents that alerted the monks to his presence. In 1939, the child was brought ceremonially from his mud-and-stone house to Lhasa, and given the run of the marvellously labyrinthine Potala Palace.

The Dalai Lama learned calligraphy by copying out his predecessor’s will—which, in its prophetic cast, is one of the spookiest documents in Tibetan history. It was written in 1932, when Tibet, after centuries of uneasy coexistence with its big neighbor in the East, enjoyed a degree of political autonomy. Mao Zedong’s Communists were still far from winning their civil war with Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. Nevertheless, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama sensed that Tibet’s isolation would soon be shattered by “barbaric red Communists”:

Our spiritual and cultural traditions will be completely eradicated. Even the names of the Dalai and Panchen Lamas will be erased. . . . The Monasteries will be looted and destroyed, and the monks and nuns killed or chased away. . . . We will become like slaves to our conquerors . . . and the days and nights will pass slowly and with great suffering and terror.

Even if the Dalai Lama shared his predecessor’s forebodings, he couldn’t do much about them. In the Potala Palace, he lived perilously close to the dark intrigues and conspiracies that had undermined his predecessors, and exposed Tibet’s weakness to its overbearing neighbors. The Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Dalai Lamas died young, some rumored to have been poisoned. The Thirteenth Dalai Lama, who barely escaped an assassination attempt allegedly by his own regent, recognized his insular country’s vulnerability to the highly organized empires and nation-states of the modern world. But his plans for upgrading the Tibetan administration and Army were thwarted by a monastic élite that lived off the labor and taxes of peasants and fought brutally to preserve the status quo. In 1934, shortly after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama’s death, the reformist politician Lungshar was punished by an ancient Tibetan method of blinding: the knucklebones of a yak were pressed on both of his temples to make his eyeballs pop out.

In 1947, the Dalai Lama, then eleven years old, watched from the Potala Palace through a telescope as monks shot at the Tibetan Army. The weeks-long battle had been sparked by the arrest of his former regent, and it killed dozens. Finally, in 1950, he assumed full political authority as the Dalai Lama. But he had no time to heed his predecessor’s warnings against Tibetan apathy. The Chinese Communist People’s Liberation Army had invaded Eastern Tibet and was standing poised to overrun the rest of the country. A decade later, the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetans were forced into exile.

The story that the Dalai Lama himself emphasizes to his Western audience is that of his initiation into the modern world—both its vicious ideologies and its redemptive knowledge of science and democratic governance. This intellectual journey is what principally interests Iyer, a novelist, travel writer, and contributor to Time, who has written incisively on the dawning of our present moment in history “in which almost every culture could access every other.” He presents the Dalai Lama as a heartening product of the same encounters between the old and the new, the East and the West, that have stung many other tradition-minded people around the world into a reactionary fundamentalism.

“In Tibet, the Dalai Lama was an embodiment of an old culture that, cut off from the world, spoke for an ancient, even lost traditionalism,” Iyer writes. “Now, in exile, he is an avatar of the new, as if having travelled eight centuries in just five decades, he is increasingly, with characteristic directness, leaning in, toward tomorrow.” Iyer marshals a variety of evidence for the Dalai Lama’s forward-looking program. The Tibetan leader cast doubt on his divine ancestry, pointing to his premature endorsement of the founder of the Aum Shinrikyo group, which released sarin gas in Tokyo subways, as an indication that he is not a “living Buddha.” The most famous Buddhist in the world, he advises his Western followers not to embrace Buddhism. He seeks out famous scientists with geekish zeal, asserting that certain Buddhist scriptures disproved by modern science should be abandoned.

In his public appearances before English-speaking audiences, he prefers to speak of “global ethics” rather than of the abstruse Buddhist concept of Nirvana. Doubtless he doesn’t want to put off the largely secular middle-class Americans in weekend casuals who crowd Central Park to listen to him, but, as Iyer points out, this is also a reaffirmation of a Buddhist philosophical vision in which all existence is deeply interconnected. Indeed, this notion may be why the Dalai Lama was early to grasp the existential and political challenges of globalized human existence, decades before they were underlined by the disasters of climate change.

“For the first time in history,” Hannah Arendt wrote in 1957, “all peoples on earth have a common present. . . . Every country has become the almost immediate neighbor of every other country, and every man feels the shock of events which take place at the other end of the globe.” Arendt feared that this new “unity of the world” would be a largely negative phenomenon if it wasn’t accompanied by the “renunciation, not of one’s own tradition and national past, but of the binding authority and universal validity which tradition and past have always claimed.”

As the spiritual leader of six million people, the Dalai Lama can be credited with a significant renunciation of the authority of tradition—of the conventional politics of national self-interest as well as of religion. Such is his influence that a curt decree from him in the past weeks could have triggered a massive, probably uncontrollable, uprising in Tibet. Yet he continued to reject violence as unethical and counterproductive, even threatening to resign from his position as head of the government-in-exile, in Dharamsala, if Tibetan violence against the Chinese persisted. Increasingly, he has been forced to walk a difficult rhetorical line, accusing China of “cultural genocide” while still supporting its stewardship of the Olympic Games. He has consistently disapproved of even relatively modest attempts to influence the Chinese government, including hunger strikes and economic boycotts. In his view, Tibet needs good neighborly relations with China: “One nation’s problems can no longer be satisfactorily solved by itself alone,” he has said. He bravely promotes “universal responsibility” to people who want to be citizens of their own country before they start thinking about the universe.

He speaks remorsefully about Tibet’s retrograde and self-serving ruling élite in the pre-Communist period, and the country’s fatal lack of preparation for the twentieth century. For the Tibetan community in exile, he has introduced a democratic constitution and legislative elections. Recently, he offered his most radical idea yet, one that overturns nearly half a millennium of tradition: that the next Dalai Lama be chosen by popular vote.

The Dalai Lama’s awareness, deepening over decades of exile, of the high costs of Tibetan isolationism has helped turn Dharamsala into an exemplary cosmopolitan community, where young Israelis coming off compulsory military duty mingle with freshly arrived refugees from Tibet. Still, it seems remarkable today that the boy who once perched upon a golden throne in a thousand-room palace has become an icon of “globalism”—the word Iyer uses, occasionally a bit broadly, to denote the decidedly mixed blessings of speedy communications and easeful travel. After all, the Dalai Lama’s only consistent lifeline to the metropolitan West when growing up had been the magazine Life. (He moved on to Time and to the BBC.) Regular exposure to Henry Luce’s periodicals did not, however, inoculate the Dalai Lama against Maoism. Visiting China in 1954, during a period of uneasy collaboration with Beijing, the Dalai Lama declared himself to be impressed by the Chinese Revolution. Charmed by Mao’s unassuming demeanor, he was startled when the Great Helmsman announced on their last meeting that “religion is a poison”—the belief that, over the next two decades, helped the Chinese justify killing thousands of Tibet’s monks and destroying most of its monasteries.

Arriving in India in 1959, the Dalai Lama was still, Iyer points out, “an innocent in the ways of the modern world.” He did not visit the United States until 1979, and then his highly technical discourses on Buddhist philosophy baffled his listeners, especially those accustomed to the brisk epiphanies of Zen, the Buddhist tradition in vogue at the time. No celebrity glamour attended the Dalai Lama’s initial visits to the country where he was to achieve his greatest fame. The Dalai Lama’s Western fan club began to grow only after he received the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1989.

His popularity seems to have been helped, at least partly, by a romantic idea of Tibet promoted in the nineteen-thirties by James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon,” an account of Westerners chancing upon Shangri-La, a valley near the Himalayas populated by a harmonious and pacifist society. Frank Capra’s movie version of 1937 (which inspired Franklin D. Roosevelt to anoint his Presidential retreat in Maryland Shangri-La, before the prosaic Dwight D. Eisenhower renamed it Camp David, for his grandson) opens with the lines “In these days of wars and rumors of wars, haven’t you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight?” Despite an ample Tibetan history of brutality, Tibetans are still primarily seen in the West as a blessedly premodern people, who naturally possess rather than pursue happiness.

Iyer acknowledges this romantic misconception as a political problem for Tibet: “It feels—or we need to make it feel—more like Shangri-La than a place that could have a seat at the United Nations.” Often, too, the Dalai Lama seems ready to oblige. His decision to simplify and secularize Buddhist teachings has brought him a much bigger audience than the Japanese Zen masters or the Tibetan sages, such as Allen Ginsberg’s guru Chögyam Trungpa, who preceded him to the West. But the gentrification of an ancient and often difficult philosophy has not been achieved without some loss of intellectual rigor. In best-selling books by the Dalai Lama, Buddhism can appear to be a ritual-free mental workout, but the form that religion takes for the geshe student cramming the three hundred and twenty-two volumes of the Tibetan Buddhist canon is considerably more severe.

The Dalai Lama can claim the sanction of the Buddha, who is said to have altered his teachings in order to reach a diverse audience. Still, there are some limits to the Dalai Lama’s pragmatism, however mindful he is of contemporary liberal sensibilities. He supports full legal rights for all minorities, including gay men and women. But, citing Tibetan texts, he remains disapproving of oral and anal sex. (“The other holes don’t create life.”) Disapproving of sexual laxity and divorce, he can sometimes sound like a family-values conservative.

None of his compromises, however, have aroused as much bitterness as his decision, first announced in 1988, to settle for Tibet’s “genuine autonomy” within China rather than press for full independence. As the Dalai Lama sees it, countries must pursue their interests without harming those of others, and Tibetan independence, in addition to being an unrealistic ideal, needlessly antagonizes Beijing. This stance has failed, however, to convince the Chinese that he is not a “splittist”; they have accused him of having “masterminded” the latest disturbances. It has also made many Tibetans suspect that what makes the Dalai Lama more likable in the West—mainly, his commitment to nonviolence, reiterated during the current crisis—makes him appear weak to the Chinese.

“The more he gave himself to the world,” Iyer writes, the more Tibetans have come to feel “like natural children bewildered by the fact that their father has adopted three others.” The Tibetan novelist Jamyang Norbu complains that Tibetan support groups and the government-in-exile have become “directionless” in trying to “reorient their objectives around such other issues as the environment, world peace, religious freedom, cultural preservation, human rights—everything but the previous goal of Tibetan independence.”

Avidly embracing the liberating ideas of the secular metropolis, the Dalai Lama resembles the two emblematic types who have shaped the modern age, for better and for worse—the provincial fleeing ossified custom and the refugee fleeing totalitarianism. Even so, his critics may have a point: the Dalai Lama’s citizenship in the global cosmopolis seems to come at a cost to his dispossessed people.

As China grows unassailable, it is easy to become pessimistic about Tibet, and to imagine its spiritual leader becoming increasingly prey to fatalism. The Dalai Lama’s retreat from the exclusivist claims of ancestral religion and the nation-state can seem the reflex of someone who, since he first copied out his predecessor’s prophecy, has helplessly watched his country’s landmarks disappear. The bracing virtue of Iyer’s thoughtful essay, however, is that it allows us to imagine the Dalai Lama as something of an intellectual and spiritual adventurer, exploring fresh sources of individual identity and belonging in the newly united world.

Certainly, Arendt’s “solidarity of mankind,” enforced by capitalism and technology, has become, as she observed, “an unbearable burden,” provoking “political apathy, isolationist nationalism, or desperate rebellion against all powers that be.” There are few things that Tibetans lashing out at the Chinese presence in Lhasa today fear more than absorption into the ruthless new economy and culture of China. Iyer’s book makes it plausible that the boy from the Tibetan backwoods may be outlining, in his own frequently Forrest Gumpish way, “a process of mutual understanding and progressing self-clarification on a gigantic scale”—the process that Arendt believed necessary for halting the “tremendous increase in mutual hatred and a somewhat universal irritability of everybody against everybody else.” It is hard to see the Dalai Lama bringing about mutual understanding in the world at large when he has failed to bring it about between China and Tibet. Such, however, are the advantages of being a simple Buddhist monk that he is less likely—indeed, less able—than most politicians to compromise his noble ends with dubious means, even as he, following the Buddha’s deathbed exhortation, diligently strives on.

The New Yorker

The New Combat Contradictionary

An Exercise in Interpretive Lexicography

Relating to the Recent Hostilities

An Army of One: soldiers who dump their girlfriends/boyfriends right before an overseas deployment ostensibly to spare them the pain of long-term separation. Also The Cult of Aloneness.

Black Swan-ism: idea that the war in Iraq is essentially an unknowable event, divorced from the law of cause and effect, its participants merely awaiting the next unforeseeable catastrophe such as the bombing of the Golden Mosque in 2006 which set off a wave of sectarian violence.

Calendar Karma: secret mental calculus used to plan operations based upon a unit’s stateside rotation date, the idea being that the last days of a given deployment are always the most dangerous, i.e. all combat tours end early.

CNN Solipsism: tendency of newly-arrived, Ivy League-educated reporters from major outlets to view the war in exclusively news-cycle terms. This person has no idea of why someone would enlist in the military and has never before visited the Middle East. Such individuals think nothing of chatting up privates about the political fallout from the lack of up-armored Humvees in theater.

Combat Corporate: personal style pioneered by L. Paul Bremer, now favored by civilian Green Zone denizens who wish to appear to be in touch with the troops. Look includes power tie, pressed button-down shirt, chinos, and standard-issue desert combat boots. In a further attempt to manifest solidarity with the troops, combat corporateers will go so far as to sunbathe in order to foster a field-savvy appearance. Adherents are sometimes referred to as Fashion-Forward Fobbits.

Combat Slumming: act of visiting active combat zones by non-combat personnel in order to experience the war first hand and/or to “see how the boys are living.” Common to the combat corporateer demographic. Combat slummers can be seen reading the latest issue of Foreign Policy at the dining hall. Also Salt-of-the Earth-ism or Outside the Wire-ism.

Coppola Crypticism: practice of peppering daily life in Iraq with obscure references from Apocalypse Now.

Deployment Snobbery: condition common to soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division, who have been deployed overseas longer than any other unit in the army. Symptoms include insensitivity to the plight of others who haven’t been in Iraq or Afghanistan as long as your unit. Related to (but not as pernicious as) KIA Snobbery.

Greatest Generation Envy: tendency to compare a unit’s operational accomplishment to events in World War II, e.g. “Well, Husaybah wasn’t Iwo Jima, but my boys did one hell of a job with this godforsaken town.”

Guilt Gifting: ubiquitous care packages sent to the troops from stateside “We Support the Troops” groups in an effort to assuage their own sense of guilt about the war. A form of Freudian sublimation. Also Care Package Patriotism. Related to (but not as pernicious as) Car Magnet Patriotism.

IED Irony: tendency to make flippant ironic comments about being attacked in the secret belief that such comments can make one safer, e.g. “God, wouldn’t it be sweet if we got IEDed today? Then the deployment would be over!”

Jargon-Jamming: tendency among military officers to obscure actual events behind arcane military terminology, usually in an attempt to make a given event seem more significant, e.g. “We conducted a cordon-and-knock and PUC’d seven LNs, one of which turned out to be our number-one HVT” (“We caught a big suspect last night”).

KIA Astrology: looking over casualty reports for similarities between yourself and the recently killed-in-action, e.g. “Wow, some guy in the 101st with my birthday just bought it.”

Media Valor: tendency to launch needless and dangerous operations in order to put on a good show for an embedded reporter, the idea being that even if casualties are taken, the memories of the fallen will live on in the media, exemplified by belief “It’s better to be famous than alive.”

Operational Electioneering: practice of halting or slowing military operations to coincide with upcoming stateside elections in the hope that the resultant drop in casualties will have a desirable political impact at home, e.g. Operation Phantom Fury, the second assault on the city of Fallujah, an operation that had been planned months prior but was launched a mere five days after the 2004 presidential election which resulted in the re-election of George W. Bush. Also Casualty Manipulation.

Operational Nostalgia: homesickness for the 2003 invasion, e.g. “Fuck all this nation-building crap. The world was so much simpler back in ‘03”

Q’uran-o-centrism: obsessive reading of the Q’uran by combat troops in the futile hope that it will help explain the larger situation in Iraq, e.g. “After my first firefight I emailed my Mom and told her to send me a copy of the Yusuf Ali translation. I just want to understand how these people think.”

Retro-destruction-ism: the idea that technology and the internet have rendered history irrelevant and that the best way to understand modern warfare is simply to read the news.

Santayana-ism: the idea that technology is irrelevant and that history is merely repeating itself. Adherents of Santayana-ism inevitably predict an impending Tet Offensive in Iraq.

Secondhand Cinema: the tendency to remember one’s combat experiences as outtakes from popular war movies, e.g. “Remember the Black Hawk Down day we had in Doura last month when Aiello bought it?” Also Movie Memorializing.

Stateside Breakdown: period of mental collapse upon return from Iraq/Afghanistan; frequently caused by an inability to function outside of a structured military environment and a realization of the one’s inability to communicate the war experience to others. Often marks the beginning of the Tactical Wanderlust phase.

Tactical Wanderlust: condition common to soldiers with ailing personal lives. Unable to comprehend the rhythms of stateside life, they continually volunteer for overseas assignments in order to avoid having a normal, stable lifestyle.

Thousand Death Syndrome: process by which a combat veteran loses the war against his/her imagination, from Shakespeare (who never saw combat), “A coward dies a thousand deaths. The valiant die but once.”

Vic Morrow Vintage-ism: the tendency among certain soldiers to equip themselves with outdated equipment because of its perceived coolness, e.g. the Sergeant Major in Ramadi who carried a Vietnam-vintage M-14 complete with a wooden stock.

Violent Voyeurism: the attitude that no event is significant, including combat, unless it can be made into a video and distributed over the internet.

The Virginia Quarterly Review

25 março 2008

Cat Haiku

You never feed me.
Perhaps I'll sleep on your face.

That will sure show you.

You must scratch me there!
Yes, above my tail!

Behold, elevator butt.

The rule for today:
Touch my tail, I shred your hand.

New rule tomorrow.

In deep sleep hear sound
cat vomit hairball somewhere

will find in morning.

Grace personified.
I leap into the window.

I meant to do that.

Blur of motion, then --
silence, me, a paper bag.

What is so funny?

The mighty hunter
Returns with gifts of plump birds --

your foot just squashed one.

You're always typing.
Well, let's see you ignore my

sitting on your hands.

My small cardboard box.
You cannot see me if I

can just hide my head.

Terrible battle.
I fought for hours. Come and see!

What's a 'term paper?'

Small brave carnivores
Kill pine cones and mosquitoes,

Fear vacuum cleaner

I want to be close
to you. Can I fit my head

inside your armpit?

Wanna go outside.
Oh, poop! Help! I got outside!

Let me back inside!

Oh no! Big One
has been trapped by newspaper!

Cat to the rescue!

Humans are so strange.
Mine lies still in bed, then screams;

My claws are not that sharp.

23 março 2008

World literature thrives in translation

Without translation, much of the best writing — and thinking — of other cultures would be lost to English-speaking readers. As it is, only a fraction of the world's books are translated into English. Of all books published in the United States, about 3 percent are translations.

As author Paul Auster wrote for a PEN translation report: "Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world."

Some of these "shadow heroes" are right under our noses, converting Spanish stories, Polish novels and Greek poetry into English. Others are training translators or publishing the best international writing. However obscure these endeavors may be to the general reader, as economic globalization becomes the norm, interest in translation is growing.

"I think it's picking up," said Douglas Kibbee, director of the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which has a new Center for Translation Studies. "If you look at what's reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, more translations are showing up. Now it's rare to go a single issue without having a translated work in it. Also, the number of universities that have some kind of translation courses seem to be increasing although there are still few that have a real degree program.

When the university revealed its plan for the center last year, it said it wanted to address the "dearth" of translated literature. Kibbee, who hopes that eventually the school will offer a master's degree in translation studies, announced the center's first director last month. She is Elizabeth Lowe, associate director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Kibbee, who translated African folktales from Baoule in "The Voice of the Elders," said that "as fast as translators get produced, they have more work than they know what to do with."

That work isn't necessarily literary; it's usually for business or government communication. But some foreign governments are eager to spread knowledge about their fiction writers and even subsidize publication at Dalkey Archive Press at the University of Illinois. Dalkey Archive publishes about 26 books a year, nearly three-quarters of them translated from other languages.

As a nonprofit, the press receives money not just from the state of Illinois and the U.S. government, but also from foreign governments that want to increase international awareness of their cultures. Dalkey chooses which books to publish.

Associate editor Martin Riker said it's ironic that so few books published in the United States come from other countries.

"If you think about it, it's odd that we live in a country where the rest of the world is a niche market," she said.

But since Sept. 11, 2001, Riker said, interest in the issue of translation has grown.

He won't say that reading books from other cultures makes Americans better people. But he will say that translation expands the aesthetics of literature, helping it stay vibrant with infusions from other cultures.

"Every significant movement in literature is tied to a moment when cultures are interacting with one another."

A hindrance to publishing translations is the cost. Translation isn't free.

Two translators in St. Louis received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts last fall.

Philip Boehm is better-known in this city for work with Upstream Theater (he recently wrote and directed "Return of the Bedbug"). But, he said, "translations pay more than the theater work at the moment."

The NEA gave Boehm $20,000 to support translation of "Settlement" by German writer Christoph Hein. Usually the best or most important works of a country are chosen for translation. Boehm's version of "'A Woman in Berlin," an anonymous diary about horrific rapes of the author and other women in Soviet-occupied Berlin at the end of World War II, was reviewed widely as a work of fine literature and won translation prizes in both Britain and America.

Boehm translates two or three books a year from German or Polish along with opinion pieces for The New York Times. For him, the skill is in "recomposing" the work in another language, a process he likens to "taking a script for a play and transposing it into another form."

"Translators are artists themselves," he said.

Other translators agree.

"It's so much fun," said St. Louisan Pamela Carmell, who also received a $20,000 NEA grant. "All translators' eyes sparkle when they talk about their work. It's a word puzzle."

Carmell, who teaches Spanish at Webster Groves High School, received her award to translate the last work by an esteemed Cuban author who died in 1976. José Lezama Lima's "Oppiano Licario" was written in his difficult, neo-Baroque style. Lezama Lima was so famous in Cuba that he escaped punishment under Fidel Castro, despite criticism for homosexual content in his novels.

Carmell said she tries to "untwist" an author's style while retaining a strong sense of the original. "Let's face it. It is a slightly different book in English,'' Carmell said "But if you have the right translator, it is an equivalence."

Most Americans are unaware of the wealth of Cuban literature, which Carmell called one of the most exciting writing traditions she has experienced.

"This little island embodies the writing obsession," she said. "Even the guys who are mediocre are great."

Carmell has been a student of one of Missouri's most distinguished translators, Margaret Sayers Peden of the University of Missouri-Columbia. Other professors there are working to raise writing students' awareness of works from other countries.

Toward that end, poet Scott Cairns, director of Center for the Literary Arts, is offering a new summer program to take creative writing students to Greece to study modern Greek and meet contemporary writers. He hopes this will lead to mutual translation efforts.

"To be a significant American writer you need to be an engaged citizen of the world," he said.

22 março 2008

where all stink, no one smells

For the modern, middle-class North American, “clean” means that you shower and apply deodorant each and every day without fail. For the aristocratic 17th-century Frenchman, it meant that he changed his linen shirt daily and dabbled his hands in water, but never touched the rest of his body with water or soap. For the Roman in the first century, it involved two or more hours of splashing, soaking and steaming the body in water of various temperatures, raking off sweat and oil with a metal scraper, and giving himself a final oiling - all done daily, in company and without soap.

Even more than in the eye or the nose, cleanliness exists in the mind of the beholder. Every culture defines it for itself, choosing what it sees as the perfect point between squalid and over-fastidious.

It follows that hygiene has always been a convenient stick with which to beat other peoples, who never seem to get it right. The outsiders usually err on the side of dirtiness. The ancient Egyptians thought that sitting a dusty body in still water, as the Greeks did, was a foul idea. Late 19th-century Americans were scandalised by the dirtiness of Europeans; the Nazis promoted the idea of Jewish uncleanliness. At least since the Middle Ages, European travellers have enjoyed nominating the continent's grubbiest country - the laurels usually went to France or Spain. Sometimes the other is, suspiciously, too clean, which is how the Muslims, who scoured their bodies and washed their genitals, struck Europeans for centuries. The Muslims returned the compliment, regarding Europeans as downright filthy.

Most modern people have a sense that not much washing was done until the 20th century, and the question I was asked most often while writing this book always came with a look of barely contained disgust: “But didn't they smell?” As St Bernard said, where all stink, no one smells.


Chocolate for Easter

You scored 3 out of a possible 10
Dear oh dear. It is possible to read at the same time as eating chocolate, you know.

How well do you know the literature of chocolate?

Easter being the traditional religious festival of chocolate, we are honouring this holiest of confections with a chocolate-coated literary quiz. Find out how greedy a reader you are by answering the following questions

Question 1 Which very popular book of recent years culminates in the depiction of a grand Festival du Chocolat on Easter weekend?
A Year in Provence
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Question 2 Charlie Buckett, the young hero of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, finds his ticket to visit the home of his favourite confectionery in the wrapper of which of these products?
Wonka's Super-rich Cocoa Fantasias With Crispy Crumb
Wonka's Double Chocolate Jeopardy Bars
Wonka's Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delights
Wonka's Treble Trouble Toffeechock Taste Ticklers
Question 3 The hugely popular magical realist story of forbidden love and fancy food, Like Water for Chocolate, was written by
Laura Esquivel
Barbara Cartland
Mario Vargas Llosa
Isabel Allende
Question 4 The Marquis de Sade is reputed to have induced the kind of degenerate orgy of which he was so fond by lacing his guests' chocolate bonbons with
Oyster sauce
Ground goat's horn
Spanish fly
Question 5 Not entirely surprisingly, chocolate makes a fair few appearances in chick lit. The blurb for one recent example summarises the plot thus: "Four very different women with one thing in common: they can't resist chocolate ... They meet in their sanctuary, Chocolate Heaven, as often as they can, and with a cheating boyfriend who promises he'll change, a flirtatious boss, a gambling husband and a loveless marriage, there's always plenty to discuss!"
Love Galaxy
The Chocolate Lovers' Club
Terry's Place
Cocoa Before Bedtime
Question 6 The sequel, published last year, is called
The Cocoa Cure
Hershey Kisses
Journey to Mars
The Chocolate Lovers' Diet
Question 7 "What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead." Whose unusual perspective on warfare is this?
Ernest Hemingway
George Bernard Shaw
Christopher Isherwood
Evelyn Waugh
Question 8 Cooking with Fernet Branca by James Hamilton Paterson makes a feature of some very unusual recipes. Which of these delectable dishes appear?
Spam au chocolat
Cocoa Leekie pie
Hot spiced chocolate noodles
Mussels in chocolate
Question 9 "... some kind of record seemed vital/I knew it wouldn't be much of a poem / But I loved the title" is an excerpt from which poem?
My Heart is ChicChock Chipped by Paul Muldoon
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope
Dreams of White Chocolate by Pam Ayres
When Squirrels Danced With Chocolate Women by André Breton
Question 10 "In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow/ And tremble at the sea that froths below!" A possible early inspiration for today's "death by chocolate" puddings, these lines are from which poem?
The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare
The Book of Thel by William Blake

His Dark Materials continues :-D

An extract:

The battered cargo balloon came in out of a rainstorm over the White Sea, losing height rapidly and swaying in the strong north-west wind as the pilot trimmed the vanes and tried to adjust the gas-valve. The pilot was a lean young man with a large hat, a laconic disposition and a thin moustache,and at present he was making for the Barents Sea Company Depot, whose location was marked on a torn scrap of paper pinned to the binnacle of the gondola. He could see the depot spread out around the little harbour ahead - a cluster of administrative buildings, a hangar, a warehouse, workshops, gas storage tanks and the associated machinery; it was all approaching fast, and he had to make quick adjustments to everything he could control in order to avoid the hangar roof and make for the open space beyond the warehouse.

All of it, courtesy of The Guardian
Click on the image to get to the Bridge of Stars website!

16 março 2008

The story of borshch

[could be a painting by Vermeer, I say]

It's just a bowl of beetroot and cabbage in meat stock. But it was the common denominator of the Soviet kitchen. So what happened to the dish after the collapse of the Union?


Serves 4-6

Borscht - beetroot soup - is one of those recipes of which everyone has their own version. Do add the red wine vinegar and brown sugar though, without them it's just a bit bland. Red wine also adds richness, and I've also experimented with adding shot of vodka at the end. This is one of those soup recipes that often tastes even better the next day.

4 large beetroots
½ red cabbage
2 carrots
1 stick celery
Bay leaves
2 red onions
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1.2 litres of stock
Olive oil
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Sour cream to serve

Fry the onion, garlic and celery in olive oil for a few minutes, until soft. Add some caraway seeds and a bay leaf or two.

Grate the beetroot and carrot and shred the cabbage finely (your knuckles will thank you for using a food processor at this point). Add the beetroot mixture and stock to a large sauce pan, with the red wine vinegar. Simmer for around half an hour. Add the brown sugar to counterbalance the red wine vinegar (you may want to add more than the 2 teaspoons)

Some people liquidise it at this point to a thick consistency, but I think it's nicer served as it is, with a big dollop of sour cream, fresh chives and a few more caraway seeds sprinkled on top.

14 março 2008

“Quando chegou ao outro lado da ponte, os fantasmas vieram ao seu encontro”

Intertítulo definidor e definitivo do filme Nosferatu de 1919.

Ora sendo os intertítulos em alemão,
eu gostaria muito de saber quem foi o tradutor português
que terá legendado esta obra-prima e nos terá deixado,
aos fãs, suspensos desta frase.

Também gostaria de saber como é em alemão,
e se será igual em todas as poucas cópias,
entre restauradas e resgatadas ao esquecimento
(a pedido da viúva de Bram Stoker,
o tribunal mandou Murnau destruir todas as cópias)
(ora se aquilo fosse como na justiça portuguesa,
o ror de filmes que ainda teríamos!)

Sim, é possível dizer muito bem da portuguesice
-- a frase traduzida primorosa --
e muito mal ;)

Com isto revelo que não tenho o filme em DVD.
O drama, o horror, a tragédia!!

13 março 2008

A sua vida foi um fracasso? Connosco, a sua morte será um sucesso!

Tradução minha ;)

Isto é que é serviço público: Diário Português, de Mircea Eliade

Inédito até 2001, ano em que foi editada em Barcelona a sua tradução castelhana, este Diário Português foi escrito entre 21 de Abril de 1941 (com o propósito inicial de Eliade se reencontrar após meses sem escrever) e 5 de Setembro de 1945 (dia do último «banho em Cascais»), período em que desempenhou as funções de adido de imprensa, primeiro, e adido cultural, depois, da embaixada da Roménia. É um texto em que o autor se mostra diversas vezes crítico, embora não hostil, em relação a Portugal, país que considera periférico, um pouco à margem da história e da cultura. É também um valioso registo da trajectória de um dos grandes intelectuais do século XX, que passou maioritariamente em Portugal os anos da Segunda Grande Guerra.

Um Excerto:

2 de Outubro de 1943

No carro com os Grigore e os Costas para Alcobaça, Óbidos, Batalha, Coimbra.
Apontamentos - para o meu eventual livro de recordações e comentários portugueses - no caderno preto.
Óbidos, pela primeira vez. A mais impressionante vila medieval que vi na Ibéria. Os plátanos no alto do Castelo. Tomámos chá no Baú. O pôr-do-sol na Batalha. Os meus sonhos no Claustro.
À tarde entrámos em Coimbra. Passeios pela cidade. Preparam-se para a camufl agem de domingo. O passeio dos namorados, com os versos talha dos em pedra - à luz pálida das lâmpadas.

3 de Outubro de 1943

De manhã, de volta à Universidade. E à Catedral. Pelo Luso. Almoçámos no Buçaco. À tarde, na Quinta das Lágrimas. Desta vez, parece mais bonita. Mas, não sei porquê, Portugal parece-me cada vez mais triste. Prestes a morrer. É um passado sem glória.

Estudo Introdutório e Notas de Sorin Alexandrescu

Edição subsidiada pelo Instituto Cultural Romeno, Bucareste

The New Radicals

1. Beth Ditto

Who: Rock star

Why: Standing in the Way of Control, the Gossip's disco-tinted attack on the Republicans' attitude to gay marriage, hit the top 10 last year. Singer Ditto, 26, a self-proclaimed 'fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas' was already notorious - the NME named her the coolest person in rock in 2006. She embraced fame, using her unique position to educate indie-pop fans about fat politics and queer theory. Which made a nice change.

She says: [on posing nude for a lesbian magazine] 'It was a radical thing to do. I got my period 10 minutes before, and I was totally bleeding. I was doing it with my tranny boyfriend, and I was totally bleeding - how radical is that? I'm a fat person, and I'm a femme. It felt good.'

2. Yo Majesty

Who: Rappers

Why: Yo Majesty are, they promise, 'the only openly lesbian rap group in the world'. The fearless trio, Shunda K, Jwl B and Shon B, come from Florida with partying on their mind and an album of songs teaching listeners how to love a woman. After 25 years of sexist, homophobic hip-hop, the wild bold sound of songs like 'Kryptonite Pussy' is refreshing to say the least, but they're more than raunch-rap and double entendres. When Yo Majesty (Beth Ditto's favourite group) aren't performing live shows, which typically culminate in a topless jiggle, Shunda works on her solo gospel project. Last year she explained that her goal 'is to win souls, whether I'm performing in a club or a church'. They recently signed to Domino Records (home of Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand) with a debut album dropping later this year. Expect to be moved.

They say: '50 Cent takes his shirt off in a show, why can't I?'

3. Corinne Maier

Who: Author

Why: In a culture of yummy mummies and giant designer prams 43-year-old Maier, mother of two, says the unsayable: having kids is overrated. Her book No Kid: 40 Reasons Not To Have Children, has scandalised France and topped the bestseller lists. The former economist rails against everything from giving birth and breast-feeding to sexless relationships and anodyne child-talk: 'In France, people go on too much about the glory of motherhood, and you're not allowed to talk about all the problems having kids causes. I thought it would be fun to take a dig at the myth that having a child is wonderful.' She's bold, funny and, often, spot-on.

She says: 'There are moments when I bitterly regret having kids.'

4. Louise Goldin

Who: Fashion designer

Why: Nominated by Style.com's Sarah Mower for her 'amazing knits', the 27-year-old Brit's latest collection strips knitwear of its cosy image. Citing the Russian artist Kandinsky and Spanish architect Gaudí among her influences, her electric-blue cashmere body-suits and crystal-studded, beetle-like breastplates prove knitwear has high-fashion potential. She's just launched her collection for Topshop, making modernist woollen costumes affordable for all. Just don't put them on a hot wash.

5. Sarah Silverman

Who: Comedian

Why: Silverman made her UK debut on the cover of Observer Woman's third issue (March 2006) so obviously we're biased. The 37-year-old Silverman wallows in taboos. Racism, menstruation, rape - all hilarious in her hands. 'People say I'm a nice girl saying terrible things,' she admits.

She says: 'I don't care if you think I'm racist. I just want you to think I'm thin.' And 'I don't want to belittle the events of September 11th - they were devastating, they were beyond devastating - but it happened to be the exact same day I found out the soya milk latte was, like, 900 calories.'

6. Emily Benn

Who: Politician-in-waiting

Why: Knocking on doors in the constituency of East Worthing and Shoreham and stuffing pamphlets into envelopes may not sound radical when your mates are binge-drinking in nearby Brighton but when you're the youngest-ever Labour Party candidate, and the granddaughter of Tony Benn to boot, radicalism probably comes naturally. We'll ignore the fact that, like her uncle, environment secretary Hilary Benn, 18-year-old Emily diplomatically describes herself as a 'Benn, not a Bennite'.

She says: 'Call me sad, but I'm interested in education, health and pensions - they're as important as global warming and supporting protests in Burma.'

7. Kristen Schaal

Who: Comedian

Why: Kooky with a capital 'kook', Schaal, 29, is best known for her performance as super-fan Mel in HBO's Flight of the Conchords. The creature she presents in her stand-up show is no less odd - she used to 'create moments where my character seemed to be on the wrong stage'. She was fired from South Park by Trey Parker and Matt Stone recently because, she says, 'they decided my ideas were too weird for them'.

8. Dr Clarissa Smith

Who: Academic

Why: She says she's 'a truly boring mother of two who has been in the same relationship for 20 years'. We say she's one of the few academics to take a serious look at the way women engage with pornography. As the author of One for the Girls, Dr Smith argues that if women are to have their own pornography we need to know what we like. 'We can't just dismiss it as disgusting. Otherwise we end up feeling the same old guilt and shame about our sexuality.'

She says: 'You wouldn't say you didn't like Dickens having only read one of his books. The same goes for pornography. People who don't know anything about it dismiss it too easily.'

9. Gayle Chong Kwan

Who: Artist

Why: At first glance Chong Kwan, 34, makes work that resembles the organisms that thrive under teenage boys' beds. Take a second look and you realise that her amazing photographs and videos are intricately created from chocolate, cheese and plastic milk bottles. Her work is currently on display as part of London Underground's Platform for Art program.

She says: 'We are quite literally consuming and altering aspects of landscape to correspond to our ideals of paradise.'

10. Nellie McKay

Who: Songwriter

Why: She's attempting to change the world through pop. A fervent Peta activist, McKay, 25, is wildly pro-abortion: 'Babies are the problem,' she says. Her debut album, titled Get Away from Me after Norah Jones' saccharine Come Away with Me, was released by Sony in 2004, but it's her latest studio album, Obligatory Villagers, that opens with 'Mother of Pearl', an ironic feminists' theme tune. Accompanying herself on the piano, she sings lines like 'Feminists spread vicious lies and rumours', while a group of hecklers in the background respond, 'Lighten up, ladies!' 'They say objectification isn't funny,' she croons, to which the gallery responds, 'It's hot!'

She says: 'Creative expression should be explosive! It should have vitality and charisma, a sense of danger, of walking the precipice ...'

11. Anna Span

Who: Porn director

Why: In 1998, Span, 37, became the first British female porn director. Inspired by the idea that pleasure gives you power, Span opened her company, Easy on the Eye, to produce 'female-friendly porn' with, crucially, eye contact. Over the last 10 years the company has concentrated on realistic casting, soap opera-style stories, and scenes shot from the female point of view. 'I want to get women to start seeing their sexuality through their own eyes,' she says. 'My aim is to help women to start seeing themselves as sexual subjects rather than objects.' A member of Feminists Against Censorship, her titles include Hoxton Honey and Hug a Hoodie

She says: 'Sex is not just for men.'

12. Julia Lohmann

Who: Product designer

Why: Inspired by attitudes to animal welfare, Lohmann, 29, creates furniture with leather and tripe (tripe!) to explore our relationship with the origins of the materials. For political furniture, it's actually very comfy. Her recent work used Japanese fish boxes to comment on depleting tuna supplies.

13. Narina Anwar

Who: Campaigner against forced marriages

Why: Choosing your own husband may not sound radical - but in Narina Anwar's upbringing it most definitely was. Narina and her sisters were tricked by their parents into leaving Bolton for a remote Pakistani village where, after being virtually imprisoned for five months, they were presented with their future husbands. In desperation they plotted their escape: during a village funeral they disguised themselves as poor village girls and fled, running across fields until they could hail a rickshaw. Terrified they would be caught and killed, they finally made their way to Lahore where, in an internet café, they contacted the high commission.

Anwar now works with the foreign office, educating young women about forced marriage. Now 28, she was awarded an MBE at 23, the youngest Asian woman to be given the award.

She says: 'Being a good Muslim means standing up and speaking the truth.'

14. Clare Allan

Who: Novelist

Why: Clare Allan was recovering from a nervous breakdown, up to her neck in debt and hadn't had a job for 10 years when she sat down to write Poppy Shakespeare. 'First novel, set in a mental hospital, unknown writer' might not sound like the strongest of pitches in the current cookie-cutter publishing climate - indeed one marketing department blanched at the idea before it was picked up by Bloomsbury - but the book turned out to be one of the most exciting, original and humane debuts in years. At work on her second novel ('It's completely different,' she says. 'It would be too easy to do the same thing again'), Allan, 40, is also currently judging the long list for the Orange New Writers award. She worries that there are too many domestic dramas. 'I want to see writers with guts. But all we get are endless middle-class dramas.' Her favourite writers are Kurt Vonnegut and John Steinbeck.

She says: 'The world is in a real mess and novelists should be trying to make sense of it.'

15. Finn Mackay

Who: Feminist

Why: Finn Mackay, 30, is as likely to be an armchair feminist as she is to buy a copy of Nuts. She's a proper got-the-T-shirt radical-lesbian women's-rights activist, the likes of which one might have thought disappeared at around the time fashionistas started lap dancing for the fun of it. As a teenager in the early 80s Mackay left school to join a peace camp. In the mid-Nineties she was instrumental in reviving the Reclaim the Night marches, an annual women-only demonstration that seeks to highlight Britain's appalling rape-conviction statistics. In the 70s a woman had a one-in-three chance of seeing a rapist convicted. Today it's one in 20. Enough said.

She says: 'Radical feminism isn't so much radical as common sense.'

16. Rebecca Gomperts

Who: Pro-abortion campaigner

Why: One of the few public faces of the pro-abortion movement, Gomperts, 42, is a Dutch abortion doctor (and mother of two) whose organisation, Women on Waves, operates a ship that sails to countries where terminations are illegal to offer women contraception and abortions up to seven weeks. In 2004, when the group sailed to Portugal, the vessel was blockaded by two warships. The disproportionate response ensured that abortion was a key issue in the following year's election. Abortion is now legal in Portugal, up to 10 weeks.

She says: 'I make the impossible possible. When people say you can't do it I become determined to make it happen. If I don't, who else will?'

17. Charlie Little aka Charliegrrl

Who: Activist

Why: Since 2006 Charlie Little, 24, has been sneaking into news-agents and stickering lads mags and newspapers with slogans such as 'Sexism: Don't Buy It!' and 'Misogyny: Hard To Spell, Easy To Practise'. Meanwhile clothing such as Playboy merchandise is surreptitiously ruined with permanent marker pens, and shopfronts and billboards are the target of graffiti. Charliegrrl has even been known to photograph men leaving sex shops and lap-dancing clubs and post their photos on her blog. She favours direct action and encourages a DIY ethos by providing free stickers and leaflets on her blog to download.

She says: 'When I walk around and see pornographic images of women I think it's a sign of how unequal we are and how much men dominate our whole lives.'

18. Wendy Shanker

Who: Campaigner for fat rights

Why: 'There are lots of people in this country having fat sex. Just because we don't see it, doesn't mean it isn't happening.' So says Wendy Shanker, a fat-rights activist and the woman who has spearheaded a blubber backlash across America and beyond. Sick of being either a) taunted, b) ignored or c) euphemistically referred to as voluptuous, Wendy Shanker's book The Fat Girl's Guide to Life - as she says, 'I was hardly going to call it The Nice Overweight Girl's Guide to Life' - is full of witty, straight-shooting advice on everything from interfering doctors to well-meaning relatives. Proud to call herself a radical, she's since been joined by an army of bloggers with names like Big Fat Deal, Fat Chicks Rule and Fatgrrrl ('Now with 50 per cent more fat!')

She says: 'I can't help myself. The minute I walk down the street I'm causing waves by being fat.'

19. Katie Horwich

Who: Artist

Why: Every day for six years, Katie Horwich, 27, has painted the clothes she's wearing (from her polyester Boots tabard to a festive 1950s dress) on to the Sun's topless page-three girl. She says it's both a comment on the ubiquity of pornified imagery, and an instinctive motherly attempt to cover up the models' extremities.

She says: 'I am doing something creative with this ugly side of our culture which nobody seems to want to criticise any more. I'll stop when they stop running contests like Page Three Idol, where teenage girls thrust themselves in to be rated and voted.'

20. Sian Berry

Who: Green Party candidate

Why: Four years ago she started giving out fake parking tickets to the SUV drivers of north London. Then she staged a school-run protest where campaigners dressed up as lollipop men. Next she sent two Bin Laden lookalikes to Number 10 with a fake canister of nuclear waste and a card that said 'Thank you very much for the present of nuclear power'. Now Berry, 33, is taking on the Ken'n'Boris Show by standing as the Green Party candidate for London mayor. She's already persuaded Livingstone to increase the congestion charge for 4x4s (having said he didn't think it was workable). And she would like to see free insulation for every home that needs it, solar electricity on 100,000 London rooftops by 2015 and a price cut on all bus fares. Where once green politics had all the charisma of a wet Shetland jumper, Berry puts male journalists, in particular, in a spin. 'Environmental Viagra' one swooned.

She says: 'You don't have to be political to change the world but you do have to change the politicians in charge.'

21&22. Dunja Knezevic and Victoria Keon-Cohen

Who: Models

Why: Beautiful, glamorous, well-paid, they make unlikely trailblazers. True, Dunja Knezevic (26) and Victoria Keon-Cohen (21) might usually be spotted looking exquisite in campaigns for Levi's, Topshop and Marks & Spencer. But lately they've been speaking out against the modelling industry and campaigning for union recognition.

These two know many of the industry's secrets: excessive working hours, pressure to be thin, sexual harassment, lewd behaviour, exploitation. 'If a model sprains her ankle,' says Victoria, 'or her scalp bleeds from an allergic reaction or she is photographed naked because the stylist has spoken secretly with the photographer to undo her shirt at the exact moment the shot was taken, she has nowhere to seek help.'

They have persuaded Equity, the actors' union, to form a models' committee, giving them similar status to dancers, directors and stagehands. They want models to have the same employment rights as most other workers - proper breaks during shoots, health insurance, accident cover. And they believe the police should investigate some practices. Dunja cites clients and photographers sleeping with girls who are below the age of consent, and under-16s pressurised into doing nude photo shoots. 'It's not recognised as sexual harassment because it's normal. Models don't know any better because it comes with the job.'

They say: 'This industry has long acted as if it's crazy and wild and glamorous and that the law doesn't apply to it. We've had enough. We are determined to change things.' www.kcandk.com

23. Marisa Carnesky

Who: 'Show woman'

Why: Her Olivier award-winning theatrical shows use visual illusion to look at wider political issues, including the cultural displacement of women through migration. As the 'Jewess Tattooess', Carnesky, 36, covered her body in tattoos and chopped her male magician's assistant into pieces, exploring the history of illusions in warfare, and framing traditional magic-show tricks around questions to do with violence.

She says: 'I think culture can change opinions by asking new questions. I'm just one of the consciousness raisers.'

24. Jocelyn Samson, aka J D Samson

Who: DJ

Why: Born in Ohio to a gravel-miner father and party-planning mum, JD Samson, 29, grew up to look like a mustachioed Orlando Bloom. One third of all-female group Le Tigre, who mix radical-feminist politics with electro pop, she says her androgynous look is not cross-dressing but about 'challenging notions of gender identity'. 'One time in London there was this girl in the front row who was shouting, "You're a boy!" I had such rage about it, but not doing anything gave me a lot of power.' Passionate about raising the visibility of butch lesbians, Samson co-authors calendars with pin-ups of lesbians in everyday settings.

She says: 'It's important to me to create a place to be for feminists, queers and political people who want to have a good time where they can feel safe and dance and enjoy themselves. If I have the power to do that then I want to.'

25. Joan Wasser, aka Joan as Police Woman

Who: Musician

Why: Wasser, 37, is known for her outspoken and explosive political outbursts at gigs. Her song 'Happiness is a Violator' is dedicated to Condoleezza Rice - 'the person I hate most in the world' - for saying she had no choice but to go to war. Other stunts include leading cheers of '**** Bush' at festivals and calling for the return of lefty assassins.

She says: 'I'm ready for more freak flags to be flying because diversity is the most beautiful thing there is.'

26 & 27. Laura and Kate Mulleavy of Rodarte

Who: Fashion designers

Why: Self-confessed nerds, at 25 and 27 the sisters' Rodarte label is taking the fashion world by storm. They still share a bedroom in their parents' Pasadena cottage, make huge, feathery dresses and say lovely whimsical things like: 'Our collection was about a manor, a portrait and a rose.'

28. Marjane Satrapi

Who: Graphic novelist

Why: Iranian novelist Marjane Satrapi, 38, has risked danger and controversy with her autobiography Persepolis - an uncompromising portrait of growing up as a Muslim woman in Iran.

Outspoken, critical and hilariously funny, the hugely successful Persepolis was an Oscar nominated animation, to be released on 25 April.

She says: 'It's a universal story. The background is Iran, but this is about everybody: family, love, exile, adolescence. If America could make war in Iraq, it was because public opinion was so scared of Iraqis. They had been dehumanised. From the second you can identify with people, that's much harder.'

29. Emma Rice

Who: Theatre director

Why: Emma Rice, 40, is drawing plaudits for her bold, brave theatre. As artistic director of Kneehigh Theatre she reworks myths, fairytales and now films, tearing stories apart to reimagine them from a woman's viewpoint. In Rice's sympathetic reworking of The Red Shoes, the girl condemned to dance to death does not have her legs chopped off, but is released to start a new life, and in Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus Rice showed a girl who grows wings and escapes a brothel to fly to freedom. Kneehigh Theatre's reworking of Noël Coward's Brief Encounter is at the Haymarket Cinema until 22 June.

She says: 'My work is about what it is to be a woman in this world.'

30. Ann Coulter

Who: Right-wing American commentator

Why:Love her or loathe her, we have to admit that 46-year-old Ann Coulter's got balls. Variously described as the Republican Michael Moore and the Paris Hilton of postmodern politics, with her ironed blonde hair and up-to-the-armpits legs, she's the poster girl for the Right. Whether it's on feminism, 9/11 widows, the death penalty or Middle East politics, it's said that she's too politically incorrect for the politically incorrect. One thing's for sure - few conservative men would attract the same kind of hostility. Not that we feel sorry for her.

She says: 'Liberals hate me because I understand them more than they understand themselves.'