31 julho 2009
A new book is a bit like a baby universe. The moment of conception is always obscure and its birth uncertain. Then it bursts into the public consciousness and either undergoes swift collapse or experiences a brief, hectic period of runaway inflation before settling down to steady expansion and a continuously cooling reception: either shining on library shelves or surviving as cold, dark matter on the remainder pile.
Cosmology books were once especially vulnerable to early failure. Before 1965 – with the discovery of echoes of the big bang in the form of cosmic background radiation – they contained about as much scientific authority as the Book of Genesis, and made their case with considerably less conviction. Even after the confirmation in 1965 that the universe must indeed have experienced a beginning, cosmology books tended to be short-lived.
There has been one notable exception. In 1988, a Cambridge physicist became a publishing phenomenon. He wrote a book that stayed in the Sunday Times bestseller list for 237 weeks. He became a household name, he appeared in The Simpsons and in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and he sold six million copies in hard covers of a book that comedians would claim was the greatest unread book of all time. A Brief History of Time went through several versions, and there are an estimated nine million copies in circulation altogether, but I have once again picked up the first edition: the one with a foreword by Carl Sagan. The author is given as a certain Stephen W. Hawking.
The W has long since disappeared from the title pages: there is only one Stephen Hawking. I tried to make sense of its phenomenal success at the close of 1988, and have returned to the theme two or three times since then. And the answer is: I still don't know. I can't explain why it sold millions long before it went into paperback, but then none of us really knows why this universe has been successful enough to spawn galaxies, supernovae, black holes and humans. It depends on the initial conditions, and so, I suppose, did the success of A Brief History of Time.
Let us leave aside the charismatic nature of the book's creator, and the compelling mix of sympathy, awe and respect connected with his enduring illness. First, he addressed the great universal question: why are we here? In 1988, most people who were prepared to read cosmology books already knew that the universe had experienced a beginning, and might very well come to an end. Thanks to the steady attrition of journalism, books, radio and television programmes, they had got the hang of a few assorted facts: that light could somehow condense into matter; that there was such a thing as antimatter; that space could expand, even if there was nothing it could expand into; that stars could collapse into black holes; that gravity was a very strange thing; that quantum mechanics was not only really weird, but also weirdly real; that there were some crazy things out there still to be discovered, like cosmic string and magnetic monopoles; and that there might be something puzzlingly special about the universe, since it had produced the conditions for intelligent life.
But it was difficult to reduce these things to one big story with a cracking title. Steven Weinberg did it in 1977 with his wonderful The First Three Minutes. Eleven years later, Hawking came along with A Brief History of Time. It is true that he came along in a motorised wheelchair, driven by the pressure of one finger, and spoke through a voice synthesiser, but if he had written a third-rate book with a second-rate title, nobody would have paid much attention.
In fact he wrote a sufficiently good book with an excellent title and he came along at exactly the right time, because by the close of the 1980s, the realisation was dawning on hundreds of millions of us that science had a great story to tell. Scientists had begun the exploration of the nine planets, had identified and manipulated DNA, eliminated smallpox and begun the campaign to eradicate polio, turned vast corporate computers into household toys, explained the mechanisms that created the continents, and introduced a timeline for creation.
And then along came a man in a wheelchair with a great title, a gift for laconic statements, a decent prose style and a reputation for knowing a great deal about black holes – rather thrilling things that might or might not exist. This cocktail of friendly scholarship and classy narration would certainly have got the book off to a good start. Throw in a few, admirably sparing references to Hawking's physical constraints ("I started to think about black holes as I was getting into bed. My disability makes this a slow process, so I had plenty of time") and you have extra momentum.
But the thing that really lit the blue touchpaper, I now suspect, was all those references to God.
Thanks to the Dawkins Effect, atheism has seemingly become the norm in science. One forgets that, 21 years ago, Church of England was the default tick on the census form and that most people would have experienced some kind of religious education. Carl Sagan's introduction to the first edition identifies the conjuring trick the book so adroitly performs: "Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do."
There, that's my thesis. Profound theme, good narrative style, great title and accidentally perfect timing, plus a bit of divine help and of course a lot of media attention. Those are the initial conditions for a bestseller, certainly, but nine million copies? That's the real puzzle. Anyone got a better idea?
Dois exemplos, entre outros, são os de Jorge de Sena, com a tradução de «Palmeiras bravas», de um dos mais complexos prosadores do século XX, o norte-americano William Faulkner, e Ruy Belo, com «Moravagine», a obra magna de Blaise Cendrars, escritor francês de origem suíça.
Nem sempre as traduções foram no passado, ou são hoje, feitas a partir do texto original. Aconteceu assim, e em alguns casos acontece ainda, com as literaturas em línguas eslavas e as do norte da Europa - sueca, dinamarquesa, finlandesa, norueguesa -, que tinham, e têm, de passar primeiro pelo «crivo» do francês ou do inglês, só então sendo vertidas para português.
Não sendo ainda a ideal, a situação - neste particular do respeito pela versão original - registou progressos nos últimos anos e há hoje um quadro de tradutores - profissionais, muitos deles - à altura da tarefa.
Entre os escritores, nem todos levaram a cabo com rigor e mérito indiscutíveis o seu trabalho de tradutores. A alguns deles, excelentes criadores em terreno próprio, muitas vezes se criticou também a demasiada personalização do texto traduzido.
Dois exemplos habitualmente apontados quando se fala de personalização excessiva da tradução são os de Eça de Queirós, com «As minas do rei Salomão», de Rider Haggard, e Aquilino Ribeiro com «Dom Quixote», de Cervantes.
A lista a seguir - longe de exaustiva - mostra terem tido assinatura de escritores, e entre eles alguns dos maiores da língua portuguesa, muitos dos textos de primeira grandeza da Literatura mundial:
- António Sérgio: O demónio branco (Tolstoi).
- Adolfo Casais Monteiro: A estrada do tabaco (Erskine Caldwell).
- Irene Lisboa: O vestido vermelho (Stig Dagerman).
- João Palma-Ferreira: Henderson, o rei da chuva (Saul Bellow).
- Alexandre Pinheiro Torres : Um gato à chuva (Ernest Hemingway), Os cavalos também se abatem (Horace McCoy).
- Ruy Belo: Moravagine (Blaise Cendrars), A cidadela (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).
- António Quadros: O Estrangeiro (Albert Camus).
- Domingos Monteiro: As confissões de Felix Krull (Thomas Mann).
- Fernando Assis Pacheco: Antologia breve (Pablo Neruda).
- Alexandre Cabral: Velha França (Roger Martin du Gard).
- Ernesto Leal: O solar (William Faulkner).
- José Blanc de Portugal: Hamlet (Shakespeare), Ao começo do dia (Truman Capote).
- Cabral do Nascimento: Reflexos nuns olhos de oiro (Carson McCullers).
- António Quadros: O estrangeiro (Albert Camus).
- Mário Henrique Leiria: O imenso adeus (Raymond Chandler), Focus (Arthur Miller).
- João Gaspar Simões: Calafrio (Henry James), Discurso da peste de Londres (Daniel Defoe).
- José Cardoso Pires: Morte dum caixeiro-viajante, Arthur Miller.
- Raul de Carvalho: Calígula seguido de O equívoco (Albert Camus).
- José Carlos González: Paraíso (Lezama Lima).
- Luiza Neto Jorge: Morte a crédito (Louis Ferdinand Céline), O papalagui.
- Egito Gonçalves: Michael Koolhaas, o rebelde (Heinrich von Kleist), Inês vai morrer (Renata Vigano).
- Augusto Abelaira: Doutor Jivago (Boris Pasternak).
- Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen: A anunciação a Maria (Paul Claudel), Hamlet (Shakespeare).
- Mário Cesariny: O vento (Claude Simon).
- Alfredo Margarido: Na minha morte (William Faulkner), A praia (Cesare Pavese).
- Armando Silva Carvalho: E os cães deixaram de ladrar (Aimé Césaire), Sob um falso nome (Cristina Campo).
- Norberto Ávila : Incidente em Vichy (Arthur Miller).
- Helder Macedo: Paralelo 42 (John dos Passos), Cabra cega (Roger Vailland).
- António Ramos Rosa: Os negócios do senhor Júlio César (Bertolt Brecht), A obra ao negro (Marguerite Yourcenar).
- José Saramago: Os românticos (Nazim Hikmet), Contos polacos (vários autores).
- Artur Portela: De chapéu na mão (Hervé Bazin).
- Luísa Ducla Soares: Herzog, um herói do nosso tempo (Saul Bellow)
- Pedro Tamen: O recurso do método (Alejo Carpentier), Em busca do tempo perdido (Marcel Proust).
- José Bento: Dom Quixote (Cervantes), A última costa (Francisco Brines).
- José Agostinho Baptista: Cálamo (Walt Whitman).
- Liberto Cruz: Folhas de viagem (Blaise Cendrars).
- Vasco Graça Moura: Divina Comédia (Dante Alighieri).
- Luísa Costa Gomes: Rei Ubu, de Alfred Jarry.
O Médico e o Monstro, pelo Prof. Agostinho da Silva,
Rei Lear, por Álvaro Cunhal,
acrescento eu ;)
30 julho 2009
In the past five years, Andres has raked over 100 designs into the beaches of the San Francisco Bay area
He is currently planning to seek out new beaches around the world in which he can produce his work
He believes that the fleeting nature of his artwork is what most captures the imaginations of his fans
29 julho 2009
A thought occurred to me while listening to Clint Mansell and the Sonus Quartet launch into a stunning rendition of Death is the Road to Awe from the soundtrack to The Fountain at a recent Union Chapel gig. I thought, I know who'd love this: people. People would love this. Not just fans of film music, but fans of music. Anyone with ears, really.
Mansell's music could, and indeed should, sit comfortably alongside Sigur Ros, Mogwai and Godspeed You Black Emperor, it's as complex, tuneful and experimental as any of them. The reason he isn't considered their peer is simple: he makes film music.
The Union Chapel gig sold out with little advertising, but where would you advertise such a thing? The rock press? Film magazines? In music journalism and marketing, context seems massively important, but to the consumer it's virtually meaningless. Movies generate an amazing amount of music, almost all of them have an original score and much of it is just too good not to have a life after the end credits roll. Take Mansell's track Lux Aeterna. After its use on Requiem for a Dream it impressed Peter Jackson so much he used it on a trailer for The Two Towers. Since then it's been used on many more, it's been remixed by Paul Oakenfold and is all over TV, generating drama and suspense on such programmes as Sky Sports News and Britain's Got Talent. Not bad for a piece of music originally written to provide backing to scenes of a drugged Jennifer Connelly impaled on a double-ended dildo while her boyfriend has his infected arm amputated in prison. From there, to introducing the world to the Susan Boyle saga. Context, be damned.
Soundtracks often utilise innovative techniques and instruments. Take the late great Jerry Goldsmith, for example. His score for The Omega Man recorded a large bell being hit underwater to attain an unusual resonance, while his score for Star Trek: The Motion Picture used a Blaster Beam to create interstellar suspense. Think about that next time a rock band is hailed as being innovative just because they added a Korg to their lineup.
Of course, some bands do great work in movies. One of Can's best songs, Mother Sky, was written for the soundtrack to Deep End. Without that we wouldn't have the Horrors' new album. Imagine that. Occasional Polly Harvey musical foil Rob Ellis has just completed recording of the soundtrack to Elektra Luxx with the ceaselessly productive Robyn Hitchcock.
Lest we start feeling too sorry for Mansell, I should add that his music is everywhere. Even if you think you haven't heard him, you're probably wrong. With that in mind, it's not Mansell who's suffering, it's us.
After trawling second hand bookshops looking for novels, she'll spend months carefully slicing the paper to create impressive works of art
The pieces, which are worth up to £5,000 each, only consist of the pages that have been cut or removed from the book itself
She never uses first editions or rare books, but Miss Blackwell had to overcome an initial sense of guilt when cutting up the books
"I began feeling guilty about cutting up the books but I had the integrity that I would create something magical from it"
More from the Telegraph
28 julho 2009
Gilda Lopes Encarnação demorou cerca de ano e meio a traduzir "A Montanha Mágica". Está actualmente a traduzir "Os Buddenbrook"
Não tarda nada, "A Montanha Mágica" faz 100 anos e só agora surge pela primeira vez em Portugal numa tradução directa do alemão, sem passar por nenhum intermediário. A versão disponível desde os anos 50 era a tradução feita para o Brasil por Herbert Caro, judeu alemão exilado em Porto Alegre, publicada pela Livros de Brasil (que também editou as traduções de Caro de outros dois romances de Mann, "Os Buddenbrook" e "Doutor Fausto"). Uma tradução "meritória" e "competente no que toca à compreensão do original", avalia o escritor e ensaísta Frederico Lourenço. "Mas não é de forma alguma uma obra de arte em língua portuguesa. Isso é que fazia falta." Gilda Lopes Encarnação, tradutora da nova edição, com selo da Dom Quixote, diz que a versão que já existia "não é má porque não é errónea". Aponta-lhe "omissões, lacunas, pequenos esquecimentos", mas "o principal problema é estilístico, talvez pela proximidade que o tradutor tentou manter em relação à língua alemã. Quase que reconhece a língua de partida, mas é preciso fazer um esforço para se perceber o que quer dizer em português". A nova tradução, encomenda da Dom Quixote, tomou-lhe cerca de ano e meio, e Gilda Lopes Encarnação está actualmente a traduzir, para a mesma editora, "Os Buddenbrook". Sobre "A Montanha Mágica", diz: "O meu objectivo foi que a obra se lesse com a mesma naturalidade e fluência com que o leitor de expressão alemã lê a obra." Missão cumprida: o que uma não-leitora de alemão pode dizer é que nunca lhe ocorreu, nesta "Montanha Mágica", que estava a ler uma tradução.
Frederico Lourenço considera que "o humor requintadíssimo" de "A Montanha Mágica" é "intraduzível" (o que não o impediu de, em 2005, propor a sua tradução à Cotovia, antes de descobrir que os direitos já tinham sido comprados pela Dom Quixote). Gilda Lopes Encarnação garante que o original alemão "não resiste de forma nenhuma à tradução". O que não quer dizer que não tenha enfrentado desafios: a escrita de Mann, nota, "é muito idiossincrática" - "há até dicionários da terminologia" específica do escritor -, para além da descrição minuciosa que faz de personagens e paisagens. Tradutora de Hoffmanstahl e Celan, além de filosofia alemã (Habermas, em particular), Gilda Lopes Encarnação faz também parte da equipa liderada por João Barrento que está a trabalhar na tradução das obras de Robert Musil. Leitora de português na Universidade de Salzburgo entre 1997 e 2003, convidou José Saramago em 1999 para dar ali uma conferência, viagem que acabou por inspirar o último romance do escritor, "A Viagem do Elefante".
A "sua" "Montanha Mágica" é uma tradução para acabar com todas as traduções daquele romance? "Nenhuma tradução é definitiva", responde, e diz que "a situação desejável" para a edição de Mann em Portugal "seria aquela que acontece com Musil: uma equipa e uma coesão no trabalho dessa equipa, que debate e esclarece dúvidas entre si".
24 julho 2009
Resultaram de pedidos feitos a embaixadas para indicarem tradutores do sueco, japonês ou persa e que, apesar dos muitos anos no nosso país, produziram textos num português tão fluente como o dos manuais de aspiradores chineses.
Mas mesmo quando se teve a precaução de pedir a tradução a alguém que tem o português como língua materna, há catástrofes difíceis de corrigir, traduções do inglês, francês, castelhano ou alemão que passam ao lado, em que onde devia surgir «pálido» está «esbatido» e «furtivo» é confundido com «esquivo». E há também expressões idiomáticas tomadas à letra e alguém desastrado (fingers and thumbs) surge «inesperadamente» como tendo «dedos e polegares».
Encontrar um tradutor que tenha, para usar a expressão de Umberto Eco, uma «apaixonada cumplicidade» com o livro que traduz, é quase tão importante como descobrir um novo autor. E mais raro, já que os escritores vêm de qualquer parte do mundo e é difícil encontrar um bom tradutor que não tenha a língua materna como «língua de chegada» (embora não impossível, como o mostram as obras em inglês do russo Nabokov e do polaco Conrad).
Transportar água nas mãos
A tradução entre duas línguas naturais – falamos aqui apenas da literária – consiste em reproduzir um dado efeito emocional e intelectual, através de símbolos de uma outra língua. É, como diz Octavio Paz, «a arte da analogia, a arte das correspondências».
Como se pode constatar, usando um programa de tradução automática de português para alemão e desta língua de novo para a nossa, é um processo que nada tem de mecânico. Podemos fazer o teste com o início de Húmus ou um fragmento do Livro do Desassossego que o resultado é o mesmo, a incongruência. O dicionário e mesmo a enciclopédia são apenas pontos de partida, sendo decisivos a capacidade de contextualizar enunciados, o domínio da semântica e da sintaxe, a cultura geral e a inteligência no entendimento dos sentidos.
A tradução literária é, para usar uma metáfora que ouvi a Hélia Correia, como transportar água nas mãos em concha de um lugar para o outro. Por mais que se estreitem os dedos, perde-se sempre alguma coisa (as traduções que melhoram o original como as de Hölderlin, Rilke, Celan ou Borges são excepcionais).
O essencial é, pois, reduzir as perdas, manter o leitor na ilusão de que quem escreveu aquelas palavras, foi o próprio autor que provavelmente desconhece a língua. Na verdade, quem escreveu o D. Quixote que publicámos foi José Bento – e, no entanto, ao lê-lo, temos a sensação de estar debruçados sobre um texto escrito por Cervantes. O mesmo se poderia dizer de Em Busca do Tempo Perdido na tradução de Pedro Tamen, ou da Ilíada e Odisseia que Frederico Lourenço traduziu.
Para tornar possível esta convenção tacitamente aceite pelo leitor, essa «suspensão voluntária da incredulidade» de que falava Coleridge em relação à ficção, é necessário que os tradutores conheçam a estrutura interna da língua de partida, tenham um completo domínio do português e conheçam o estilo do autor de modo a poderem elaborar um duplo do texto original. Só assim é possível recriar a linguagem e o humor seiscentista de Cervantes, manter a sensação de nostalgia nas longas frases de Proust e ouvir, nos versos de Homero, o estrépito dos combates travados pela conquista de Tróia e o ardiloso regresso de Ulisses a Ítaca.
Ora em Portugal, apesar da crescente necessidade de tradutores criada pela integração europeia e a globalização, não se verifica ainda uma aprendizagem significativa de línguas como o mandarim, o hindu, o russo, o árabe, o japonês, o turco, o finlandês ou o sueco.
Mas até nas línguas ensinadas há problemas.
Tudo começa no ensino
Muitos candidatos a tradutores saídos das faculdades de letras ou dos mestrados do ISLA, dominam razoavelmente o inglês, castelhano, francês ou alemão. Conhecem também, em geral, as diferentes concepções sobre tradução, dos textos de S. Jerónimo ao Dizer Quase a Mesma Coisa de Umberto Eco, passando pelas teses sobre essa «fala pura» que subjaz às línguas de Walter Benjamin, a Paixão Crítica de Octavio Paz e o Depois de Babel de Steiner (há ainda contributos de Schleiermacher, Ortega, Nabokov, Hermann Broch e Javier Marías para aquilo que só forçando a nota se poderia designar por uma teoria da tradução). Muitas dessas ideias são importantes, sobretudo as daqueles que, mesmo sem experiência prática, são capazes de dar múltiplos exemplos como o poliglota Steiner ou que têm uma longa oficina de tradução como João Barrento e que é bem evidente em O Poço de Babel. E, por maioria de razão, é útil conhecer as concepções dos que não apenas traduziram, como Walter Benjamin, mas acompanharam, como Umberto Eco, o trajecto dos seus livros nas mais diversas línguas negociando as inevitáveis perdas e definindo limites interpretativos.
A verdade, porém, é que, apesar desse conhecimento das línguas de partida e do domínio das mais diversas experiências, são raros os bons tradutores de literatura mesmo do inglês, castelhano, italiano e francês.
É que no nosso ensino, os alunos não têm de ler vários livros por mês desde o básico, nem de escrever textos mais tarde discutidos, nem de estudar os clássicos portugueses. E só isso poderia assegurar um adequado domínio das possibilidades expressivas da língua.
Dentro de alguns anos haverá inúmeros portugueses a escrever e falar o anglo-americano. Se deles surgir uma dezena de bons tradutores de Jane Austen ou Cormac McCarthy seria excelente.
É também significativo que, apesar de ter havido milhares de portugueses que estudaram na URSS ou na Alemanha, tenhamos apenas três ou quatro tradutores de russo e meia dúzia de bons tradutores do alemão.
Uma actividade mal paga?
Claro que, chegado aqui, qualquer candidato a tradutor pensará: «Muito bem. É preciso dominar pelo menos duas línguas, ter conhecimentos de semântica, de sintaxe e de estilo e mesmo uma “apaixonada cumplicidade” com o autor. E tudo isto por uns míseros euros por página?»
O trabalho do tradutor literário é de facto mal pago em termos absolutos, mas não em relação aos outros participantes na actividade editorial.
Vejamos o exemplo de um livro traduzido com 340 páginas (nas de tradução, com 1800 bites, serão cerca de 400) e que na livraria custa 15€, tendo uma tiragem de 2000 exemplares e vendendo 1500, o que são valores habituais.
O tradutor recebe por página, de 8€ (casos do inglês, castelhano, italiano ou do francês) a 12€ (russo e alemão), pelo que consideraremos o valor intermédio de 9€. Por cada exemplar vendido, as principais livrarias recebem 38 por cento, o distribuidor 22 por cento, o autor 8 por cento, o tradutor 16 por cento e o editor 16 por cento. Se a tiragem se esgotar, a percentagem do tradutor desce para 12 por cento. Mas é preciso ter em conta que só o autor (no valor da «antecipação») e o tradutor recebem antes da edição e que este último é o único cujo pagamento não depende do número de exemplares vendidos (situação só alterada para certos clássicos no domínio público ou em casos de reedição). O editor e o distribuidor começam a receber pagamentos, em média, três meses após a edição.
Um trabalho criativo
Problema diferente é o de reconhecimento do papel dos tradutores, cuja associação, a APT, tem um funcionamento intermitente. Embora sejam equiparados a autores na legislação e os seus nomes figurarem nas páginas de rosto e por vezes nas capas dos livros, vêem poucas vezes analisado o seu trabalho. Ainda é frequente, nas críticas e recensões, não ser sequer mencionado o nome do tradutor. E, no entanto, sem eles não poderíamos ter lido Shakespeare, Cervantes, Tolstói, Rilke, Musil ou Faulkner na nossa língua. Benjamin, Octavio Paz e Steiner consideraram mesmo a tradução algo de muito semelhante à criação literária (Steiner abençoa mesmo a Torre de Babel, por ter multiplicado as línguas e por isso os modos de sentir, embora considere que todo o movimento de significados, até a mais banal das conversas, implica um acto de tradução).
E é também sabido que as línguas inglesa, alemã e francesa foram moldadas pelas traduções da Bíblia feitas por Tyndale, Lutero e Calvino.
Como escreveu Javier Marías: «O tradutor, ao enfrentar a sua tarefa, sente o texto original como uma ausência. O que conta para ele e para o seu trabalho é a ausência desse texto na sua língua, na chamada língua de recepção, e por isso no sistema de pensamento dessa língua. O tradutor não reproduz, não copia, não decalca (…). Plasma sempre pela primeira vez uma experiência única, irrepetível e intransferível; cria na sua língua aquilo que na sua cabeça está noutra língua.»
23 julho 2009
One of my favourite André Kertész photographs shows two young men sitting with their backs to a tree, each absorbed in a book. Both are wearing glasses; both use their thighs as a lectern; the one facing forwards is black, the other, in profile (a dead ringer for Woody Allen), is white. Their proximity suggests they know each other and are friends. And given the time and place of the composition, the photo could serve as an icon of the civil rights movement – racial harmony as observed in Washington Square, New York City, 1969. What's equally striking, though, is how separate the two men are, how oblivious to each other's presence (and to the camera). They might be friends but their real companions are their books.
The Budapest-born Kertész enjoyed a long life (1894-1985), visited many countries and was involved in several different artistic movements. But wherever he went and whatever the commission, a constant preoccupation was with people reading. In one of his earliest and most moving images, three small boys (two of them barefoot) crouch over a book in a Hungarian street in 1915; in one of the last, a young woman stands reading in the shadow of a vast Henry Moore statue. Ferocious concentration is common to both. The act of reading involves no action, beyond turning the page. But the mental activity is intense, and it's this that fascinates Kertész.
When paintings and sculptures depict a man or woman with a book, this usually signifies that they are studious, saintly, noble and wise – persons of substance. Kertész's approach is different. Apart from one semi-surrealist shot of Peggy Guggenheim, with an open book in the foreground, he has no interest in the great and good. The Bowery bum retrieving a newspaper from a wastebin; a woman kneeling over a text in a Manila market; gondoliers, circus performers and street vendors snatching time between work duties to peruse a book or magazine – Kertész's subjects are often people you wouldn't expect to see reading. What the camera captures is their thirst for knowledge or hunger to escape their circumstances. One memorable image features a boy sitting in a New York doorway in 1944, amid a heap of newspapers left there to alleviate the wartime shortage ("Paper is needed now! Bring it at any time," reads the poster behind him). Times are hard yet the boy looks perfectly happy: amid the detritus, he has found a page of comic strips.
Whereas books are traditionally thought of as an indoor pursuit, most of Kertész's subjects are caught reading outdoors. The venues aren't just parks and beaches. There's a whole sequence of images taken in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and 70s, showing people reading high above the street, on tenement rooftops, penthouse balconies, metal stair-ladders and window ledges. Enrapt as they are, the readers seem indifferent to the chimneys, ventilation pipes and washing lines that surround them: away from the crowds, each has found a space to be alone. The setting is tough and urban. Yet there's a spiritual quality, too – reading as a stairway to heaven.
Portrait painters evoke the spiritual intensity of reading by coming in tight on the face and body: the lowered eyes, the meditative brow, the hands piously folded under the spine of the text. The illustrations in Alberto Manguel's wonderful book A History of Reading include countless examples of this, not least the painting which serves as its cover, Gustav Adolph Hennig's Reading Girl. In Kertész's photos, by contrast, the perspectives are longer and the subjects unaware that they are subjects: he shoots from a distance, so that we see the surrounding environment rather than the title of the book that's being read. The lack of close-ups isn't an obstacle, since the faces of readers give nothing away: their only engagement is with the book. The light and shade emphasise the transcendental power of reading. Here are people on an inner journey, while physically remaining still.
Kertész didn't live to see the age of the internet or to hear the funeral rites for the age of print. But his photos of readers aren't just a historical document or an exercise in nostalgia. The essential image he works with is timeless: human interaction with the written word. The physical forms in which we receive the word may be changing. But even when ebooks and Blackberries have taken over, that central image will remain: a text held in the hand and a head bowed over it. Andre Kertész, On Reading, is at the Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies St, London W1 until 4 October.
22 julho 2009
Liu Bolin is able to blend into any surroundings - no matter how complicated they might be
"My work is a kind of reminder, to remind people what the community we live in really looks like, and what kind of problems exist".
"The situation for artists in China is very difficult," he says."The forced removal of the artist's studio is in fact my direct inspiration for this series, 'Hiding in the city'" .
Liu said his work requires a lot of patience with him having to pose and work on his photographs for more than 10 hours at a time to get it just right.
21 julho 2009
Lisbon's Bairro Alto neighborhood has managed to become one of the city's most popular and yet still remain among its quirkiest, home to a budding collection of eclectic shopping, raucous nightlife and interesting food. This shot, by Flickr user (flicts), offers a good approximation of what Bairro Alto is all about. The first-person reflection in the fisheye mirror lends us a surprisingly intimate look inside a local shop, making the viewer feel as though they were there, browsing right alongside the photographer.
Have any shots of your own you'd like to have considered as our Photo of the Day? Upload your best photos to our Gadling group on Flickr.
Thinking of curing those recession blues by investing in a vacation home? Why go for the traditional beach-side bungalow or alpine chalet when you could get something a little more original?
Perhaps 76 acres of undeveloped beach and a famous lighthouse in the southwest of England would be just the thing?
Upton Towans beach in Gwithian, Cornwall, is up for sale. It was here that a young Virginia Woolf used to vacation with her family, and the broad beach and beautiful view of the offshore lighthouse are said to have inspired her 1927 novel To the Lighthouse.
The 86-foot tall Godrevy Lighthouse, pictured here, was built in 1858 after the SS Nile crashed into the nearby rocks and sank with all hands. It's one of the most attractive lighthouses on the English coast and draws in thousands of tourists a year, who also stroll along the beach and surf in the rough waters.
Bidding for the land, which will benefit Hall for Cornwall theater, is expected to start at £50,000 ($81,000). The sale comes with a couple of conditions: the land must remain open for public use and it cannot be "developed" (i.e. ruined). That means visitors will still be able to enjoy this rugged stretch of Cornish coast and its literary associations.
So if you are looking for some real estate and you don't want to wreck it, this may be the thing for you. You'll have to get used to sleeping in a lighthouse, though.
Canongate has signed a deal with Life of Pi author Yann Martel, for an allegorical tale about the Holocaust, the Sunday Times has reported.
As with his 2002 Man Booker-winning novel, the new book will include animals as key characters, as “Henry, a writer, strikes up a friendship with a taxidermist who is writing a play about the animals”.
The article added that the book would make comparisons with Dante’s Inferno: the working title features eponymous heroes Beatrice, a donkey, and a monkey, Virgil, reflecting Dante's The Divine Comedy, which included Virgil as his guide through Hell and Beatrice through Heaven.
"I've noticed over years of reading books on the Holocaust that it's nearly always represented the same way—historical or social realism." said Martel. "I think writers have been fearful of letting the imagination loose on the Holocaust. My novel is an attempt to see if there is a way of talking about the Holocaust without talking about it literally."
Letter from Mina Harker to her son
Quincey Harker, Esq.
(To be opened upon the sudden or unnatural death of Wilhelmina Harker)
9th March 1912
My dear son, all your life you have suspected that there have been secrets between us. I fear that the time has come to reveal the truth to you. To deny it any longer would put both your life and your immortal soul in jeopardy.
Your dear father and I chose to keep the secrets of our past from you in order to shield you from the darkness that shrouds this world. We had hoped to allow you a childhood free from the fears that have haunted us all our adult lives. As you grew into the promising young man you are today we chose not to tell you what we knew lest you think us mad. Forgive us. If you are reading this letter now, then the evil we so desperately and perhaps wrongly sought to shield you from has returned. And now you, like your parents before you, are in grave danger.
In the year 1888, when your father and I were still young, we learned that evil lurks in the shadows of our world, waiting to prey upon the unbelieving and the unprepared.
As a young solicitor your father was sent into the wilds of Transylvania. His task was to help Prince Dracula conclude the purchase of a property in Whitby, an ancient monastery known as Carfax Abbey.
During his stay in Transylvania your father discovered that his host and client, Prince Dracula, was in truth a creature thought to exist only in folktale and legend, one of those which feed upon the blood of the living in order to attain immortal life. Dracula was what the locals called Nosferatu, the Un-Dead. You may more readily recognize the creature by its more common name: vampire.
Prince Dracula, fearing that your father would expose the truth of what he was, imprisoned him in his castle. Dracula himself then booked passage to England on the sailing vessel, the Demeter, spending the many days of his voyage hidden in one of dozens of crates in the hull. He concealed himself in this strange fashion because although a vampire may have the strength of ten men and the ability to take many forms, he will burn to ash if struck by the light of the sun.
At this time I was staying in Whitby at the home of my closest and dearest friend, Lucy Westenra. A storm had blown in off the sea and the treacherous Whitby cliffs were shrouded in a dense mist. Lucy, unable to sleep, saw from her window the storm-driven ship heading for the rocks. Lucy raced into the night in an attempt to raise the alarm before the ship was wrecked, but she was too late. I awoke in a panic, saw that Lucy was not beside me in bed and raced out into the storm to search for her. I found her at the cliff’s edge, unconscious and with two small holes in her neck.
Lucy became deathly ill. Her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood, the son of Lord Godalming, and his dear friend, a visiting Texan whom you know as your namesake, Quincey P. Morris, raced to her side. Arthur called every doctor in Whitby and beyond but none could explain Lucy’s illness. It was our friend who owned the Whitby Asylum, Dr. Jack Seward, who called in his mentor from Holland, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing.
Dr. Van Helsing, a learned man of medicine, was also acquainted with the occult. He recognized that Lucy was suffering from the bite of a vampire.
It was then that I finally received word from your father. He had escaped from Dracula’s castle and taken refuge in a monastery where he, too, was deathly ill. I was forced to leave Lucy’s bedside and travel to meet him. It was there in Buda-Pesth that we were married.
Your father told me of the horrors he had seen and it was from this that we learned the identity of the vampire that had attacked Lucy and now threatened all our lives: Prince Dracula.
Upon returning from Buda-Pesth, we were told that Lucy had died. But worse was to follow. Days after her death she had risen from her grave. She was now a vampire and was feeding on the blood of small children. Dr. Van Helsing, Quincey Morris, Dr. Seward and Arthur Holmwood were faced with a terrible decision. They had no choice but drive a wooden stake through Lucy’s heart in order to free her poor soul.
Shortly thereafter, Prince Dracula returned in the night to attack me. After this attack, we all swore an oath to hunt down and destroy the vampire, and rid the world of his evil. And so it was that we became the band of heroes and chased Dracula back to his castle in Transylvania. There, Quincey Morris died in battle although, like the hero he was, he managed to plunge a knife into Dracula’s heart. We watched as Prince Dracula burst into flames, crumbling into dust in the light of the setting sun.
Then, we were free, or so I thought. But about a year after you were born I began to suffer horrible nightmares. Dracula was haunting me in my dreams. It was then that your father reminded me of the Dark Prince’s warning and how he had claimed “I shall have my revenge. I shall spread it over centuries. Time is on my side.”
From that day onward your father and I have had no peace. We have spent our years looking over our shoulders. And now I fear we are no longer strong enough to protect you from his evil.
Know this my son, if you are to survive the evil that is now hunting you; embrace the truth I speak in these pages. Look deep within your young self and, as your father and I were once forced to do, find the brave hero within. Dracula is a wise and cunning foe. You cannot run, and there is nowhere to hide. You must stand and fight.
Good luck my dear son, and do not be afraid. If Van Helsing is correct, then vampires are truly demons and God will be at your side as you do battle.
With all my undying love,
Your mother Mina
In this article, we point out inconsistencies associated with the ghost, vampire, and zombie mythologies as portrayed in popular films and folklore and give practical explanations to some of their features. Of course, the paranormalist or occultist could claim that the Hollywood portrayal is a rather unsophisticated and inaccurate representation of their beliefs and thus the discussion we present is moot. However, if they are to change their definition each time we raise an issue, then all that they are really arguing is that there exists something out there that may be given the name “ghost,” for instance. Surely, no skeptic could argue with this.
20 julho 2009
And it already exists in Spanish, titled Nocturna, translated by Santiago Ochoa.
Did he have Guillermo's help and advice?
Click on either - or both - to read excerpts in English and Spanish ;)
17 julho 2009
Of course, the first knight of horror (if I may be so bold) will have to see if his and the Queen's schedules can overlap. He has opened more veins and amazed eyes than she has named bridges and battleships. His record of work includes more than 250 jobs in film and television, dating from when he apparently carried a spear in Olivier's Hamlet (1948).
The same biographical sketch that lists the parts claims Lee was born in Belgravia. That sounds auspicious until you wonder - above stairs or below? Lee does have his credentials: Italianate-named forbears, the rumour of Wellington College, the Royal Air Force and then some rather hush-hush operations during the war. I'm sure it's all true (even if the detail is scarce), yet you can see the actor's face in the handsome young man, and acting is never too far from fraud, which in turn only makes me wonder if Lee might have thrown in a few more spivs, bounders and bogus colonels in his hallowed career as a magic man with strange powers. If there's one thing he has spared us, it's the possibility of humour. In turn, that provokes an intriguing question: did this veteran actor know that most of his great roles were enjoyable hokum, or did he take them in high earnest?
Although Lee was part of the J Arthur Rank charm school in the late 1940s, it has to be said that he did not really make it as a romantic lead. He was passed over in favour of people such as Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More and Richard Todd. But he did have a great scene - as a captured German soldier - in Michael Powell's Ill Met By Moonlight and that got him noticed. It was just a year later, 1957, that he played St Evremonde in A Tale of Two Cities, and then the Creature in The Curse of Frankenstein, in which his long-time chum, Peter Cushing, was cast as the Baron Frankenstein.
That was the start of what would become "Hammer Horror" (an operation that won the Queen's award for British Industry as well as critical praise for its introduction of colour, and thus blood, to the rather stale horror genre). In 1958, Lee was turned into a star by his very sexy and subtly ambiguous Dracula.
The die was cast. Lee and Cushing ran the horror show rather as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi had done in the days of black and white. If the actor ever wearied of the cliches, it never showed. He played other roles - Sherlock Holmes, then Mycroft (for Billy Wilder). He played Bond villains when he might have been considered for the lead. He played Rochefort in Dick Lester's very pretty Musketeer pictures. He was exceptional as Rasputin: The Mad Monk in 1966 and, in 1998, as Mohammed Ali Jinnah (the leader of the young Pakistan). He did a lot of research for both and hardly seemed to realise that the first film cared so much less for authenticity than the second.
Just as sensible retirement might have been talked about, he found himself available for two lofty franchise projects: so he became Count Dooku in the last Star Wars pictures, and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings series. He opens this very week in The Heavy, and no one bothers to think that he might not be good value. All of which only leads on to the awkward question of where in our popular culture the monsters of myth (including the Creature, Fu Manchu and Dracula) meet those who are merely exotic or foreign - like Osama bin Laden, Mao Zedong or ... name your bogeyman. Truth to tell, in another age, a Christopher Lee might seem as odd as actors working in black face. But he is the end of the great movie tradition that began with Lon Chaney and our fascination with sacred monsters.
14 julho 2009
Having read close to 30 Scandinavian crime novels over the last several months, I can come to only one conclusion: Scandinavia is a bleak, ungodly, extraordinarily violent place to live. The capitals are seething hot pots of murder. In Oslo, a serial killer slips red diamond pentagrams under the eyelids of his victims (Jo Nesbø's The Devil's Star), while in Stockholm a stalker terrorizes young girls in public parks (Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's The Man on the Balcony). The situation is even worse at the local level. Take, for instance, Ystad, population 17,000, a quaint fishing village on Sweden's southern shore best known for its high-speed ferry terminal. It has suffered, in the novels of Henning Mankell, the following horrors: the torture and execution of an elderly farmer and his wife (Faceless Killers); the torture and execution of two men who are found floating off the coast in a life boat (The Dogs of Riga); the impalement of a retired bird-watcher on sharpened bamboo poles (The Fifth Woman); and the self-immolation of a teenage girl (Sidetracked). Each of these crimes—and many, many more—is committed by a different killer and all within just three years. In terms of per capita incidence of violent crime, Mankell's Ystad would rank behind Mosul but well ahead of Johannesburg and Mogadishu.
Fortunately, more people are murdered every year in the pages of Scandinavian crime novels than are murdered in Scandinavia itself. The homicide rates in Scandinavian countries are among the lowest on the planet. This year, the Global Peace Index ranked Denmark and Norway the second and third most peaceful countries. Sweden came in 13th. The Nordic countries also consistently rank as the happiest countries in the world. It is not surprising to observe a trend of Chinese novels about Communist oppression or Ugandan novels about child soldiers. But Scandinavian homicide fiction? Why do such peace-loving societies produce internationally best-selling authors like Mankell, Nesbø, Karin Fossum, and Håkan Nesser? How to explain Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, who was the second-best-selling author in the world last year?
There are a few reasons Scandinavian writers have taken to the genre. The crime novel, and particularly the British crime novel, has been enormously popular in Scandinavia for decades. And the famous Nordic pragmatism is well-suited to the intricate mechanics of crime investigation plots. But the best explanation is the most mundane: Crime novels sell. Most of the Scandinavian crime novelists began their careers in other genres. Mankell, for instance, wrote seven well-received but unlucrative novels, and more than a dozen plays, before turning to a life of crime; Karin Fossum was a prize-winning poet; Maj Sjöwall was an editor and translator. Before the current explosion of crime novels, the only contemporary Scandinavian novelist to enjoy major international success was Peter Høeg. Høeg may be a "literary" novelist, but his breakout Smilla's Sense of Snow is about the investigation of a suspected homicide. The lesson is clear: If you want your novel to be read abroad, particularly in the English-speaking world, you'd better include a murder. Even if you've never heard of a murder actually being committed in your country.
A better question: Why have readers taken to these writers? The novels are not formally innovative: With a few exceptions, these are straightforward whodunits, hewing closely to conventional models from the English tradition. Nor does their appeal depend on a "relentlessly bleak view of the world," as a writer for the London Times has put it. Bleak worldviews are not particularly hard to come by in crime novels, no matter what country they come from.
What distinguishes these books is not some element of Nordic grimness but their evocation of an almost sublime tranquility. When a crime occurs, it is shocking exactly because it disrupts a world that, at least to an American reader, seems utopian in its peacefulness, happiness, and orderliness. There is a good reason why Mankell's corpses tend to turn up in serene, bucolic settings—on a country farm, on a bobbing raft, in a secluded meadow, or in the middle of a snow-covered field: A dark bloodstain in a field of pure, white snow is far creepier than a body ditched in a trash-littered alley.
Stieg Larsson, like many of the other successful Scandinavian crime novelists, began in the straight world, editing an anti-racism magazine and several science fiction fanzines and writing political journalism. In 2004, shortly before dying of a heart attack, Larsson completed the first three novels of a planned decology. The second volume, The Girl Who Played With Fire, will be out in the States this July and will likely confirm Larsson's position as the most successful crime novelist in the world. His novels mark the apotheosis of the genre—they are not only the best-selling, but they are also the most frenzied and exhaustive examples of the form.
To an even greater extent than Mankell, Larsson is adept at heightening the contrast between his setting, contemporary Stockholm, and the tawdriness of the crimes that drive his plots. Larsson's Stockholm manages to be both cosmopolitan and charmingly quaint. It's not unlike the Ikea approach—modish design with a side of Swedish meatballs. (Larsson, in fact, sets an entire scene at the store; when a character moves into a new apartment, she goes on a shopping spree, buying 12 items, including an "Ivar combination storage unit," a "Pax Nexus three-door wardrobe," and a "Lillehammer bed.")
Larsson worked hard to keep his references up to date. His characters use iPods, iBooks, and BlueTooth technology; they track criminal suspects on Google; and the plots of both novels rely on the efficient machinations of a mysterious international network of nerd computer hackers. Yet Larsson's main character, Mikael Blomkvist, is a hard-charging investigative journalist at that vestige from the print age, a weekly newsmagazine. His heroine, 24-year-old cyberpunk Lisbeth Salander, is horny, bisexual, and covered with tattoos and piercings but is also passionate about chess, mathematics, and women's lib.
Larsson's sentences are dead on arrival. (When Blomkvist enters the apartment of a young couple and discovers that they've been murdered, he feels "an icy shiver run down his neck. … She had been shot in the face. … The flow of blood was if possible even greater than that from her partner.") But the crimes themselves are surprising. The murder victims are young leftist do-gooders: a journalist and a doctoral student, who have teamed up to investigate an underground sex trafficking ring in Sweden. Gradually, as if pulling a scab off a wound, Larsson exposes a scummy underworld of corrupt cops, meat-fisted thugs, sleazy government operatives, and sadistic child rapists. When these goons intrude upon the world of glossy magazines and Ikea, the result is pleasantly discordant.
Much of the attraction of the Mankells and Fossums is that even when their novels are based in cities, they rarely lose the quaint, small-town feel and the reassuringly mechanical, ticktocking plots. Larsson may have provided a new direction for Scandinavian fiction. In his novels, he moved decisively away from classic whodunit, man-in-a-locked-room crime plots, favoring, instead, capacious, messy romps that buzz with the tech-savvy cosmopolitanism of the moment. Then again, maybe the genre will keep putting along as always, with catatonic detectives tramping across frozen tundra. As long as there's a dead Nord, it's hard to go wrong.
Before folks swear off sunlight, they should know the basics, which would be easier if the rules didn't change in every film, book and TV show.
USA TODAY offers a guide to life (and after).
What just happened to me?
A vampire drained your blood and replaced it with some of his own; the two of you were buried together for a day to transfer his vampire's "essence" to you. Then you rose as a vampire.
A vampire bit you in several places, injecting venom that coursed through your veins, incinerating your organs and finally stopping your heart.
You got dialysis, vampire style -- you were drained and buried, and then drank from your sire.
This is like puberty all over again. What's going on?
It's an apt description. You've grown fangs, which pop out when you're aroused. You're also hungry all the time. And then there are those impulses. As Bill describes his new "daughter": "She has no humanity. She's in the grips of an overwhelming number of transformations. There will be times when she cannot control even a single impulse. … She is a loaded gun." Just like a teenager.
You won't grow fangs, but your eyes have changed from their old color to red. The hungrier you are, the darker they'll be. After feeding, they'll brighten. And because your hunger will be uncontrollable and because vampires are not out in the open, you must stay away from humans for the short term, especially family and friends.
Your fangs will pop and your forehead will bulge when it's time to feed or fight.
Besides immortality, what's in it for me?
Superhuman speed, lightning-quick reflexes, rapid healing of wounds and heightened senses of hearing and smell. Some vamps can fly, but not all. (In the books, Eric can but Bill can't.)
Everything the True Blood vamps get. Plus, many Twilight vamps assume a special power, like mind-reading or clairvoyance.
The usual speed, strength and sense enhancements. And say goodbye to your soul; you won't need it anymore. Just don't tick off any Gypsies, or they may give it back to you. That's no fun.
Am I locked into this look forever?
Your body will remain as it was when you were turned, so hit the gym beforehand. Also, physical problems will need to be healed by drinking vamp blood while human, or you're stuck with them.
Actually, you'll become even better looking. All four Twilight books are rife with descriptions of how gorgeous vampires are.
For the most part, but you can do things like cut your hair. Otherwise, Angel would still have the ponytail from his aristocratic youth in 18th-century Ireland.
Who'll teach me how to be a vampire?
Your sire (the vampire who turned you) is responsible for your instruction, which includes feeding, glamoring and controlling those pesky impulses.
Your sire is responsible for your guidance, and your level of assimilation with humans depends on him.
Angel adhered to the "you drain 'em, you train 'em" rule. Before Gypsies cursed him and took all the fun out of being a vampire, Angel (then Angelus) was quite hedonistic, a lousy role model.
Who's for dinner?
The synthetic TruBlood means you don't have to hunt humans for food. Blood banks are another option. But many vampires still prefer the real thing, at least part of the time.
If you join the Cullen coven, that means becoming a "vegetarian vampire." They hunt animals rather than people. But the hunger for the real thing never totally goes away.
Try pig blood. You'll like it.
Will I ever see the sun again?
Not if you want to live. Even a little bit of exposure will weaken you and cause your skin to blister. The longer you stay out, the more you risk burning to death.
You can go out in daylight, but unless you want everyone to see you sparkle like the counter at Tiffany, save your public outings for rainy or overcast days.
Yes, but don't go out without a heavy coat or hoodie and definitely don't look at the sun.
Can I be killed or commit suicide?
Beware of wooden stakes, sunshine and fire, all of which are deadly to the undead. For jaded vamps, the most common method of suicide is "meeting the dawn." And stay away from silver -- it burns vampire skin and can immobilize you.
You are still susceptible to decapitation and burning, as James found out the hard way in the first book and film. You may not kill yourself, but you can petition the Vulturi, a sort of Vampire Supreme Court based in Italy, to do it for you.
There's no coming back from staking, decapitation and burning. Sorry.
However, as Elders, we believe that the justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable.
We believe that women and girls share equal rights with men and boys in all aspects of life.
We call upon all leaders to promote and protect equal rights for women and girls.
We especially call on religious and traditional leaders to set an example and change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.
The Elders are fully committed to the realisation of equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Indian women's activist Ela Bhatt, former Irish President Mary Robinson, Anglican priest Desmond Tutu, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland. Algerian and international diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and women's and children's rights advocate Graca Machel. The empty chair is for Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi; microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and honorary elder Nelson Mandela were not in attendance.
Found in Jezebel (yes, it's SO not just chick stuff :)