Monday 28 September 2009

Kafka in the park







i should tell you that one photograph in this series is, of course, supposed to stand for Kafka himself (though i think i will let you wonder which one :-)
and for those who are struggling to solve the puzzle (warning: no Kafka-on-the-beach innuendos, i don't like Murakami so that would be a completely false lead) i will just offer this achingly beautiful story, which has stayed with me ever since i read it for the first time:

It’s the last year of Kafka’s life, and he’s fallen in love with Dora Diamant, a young girl of nineteen or twenty who ran away from her Hasidic family in Poland and now lives in Berlin. He gets to Berlin in the fall of 1923 and dies the following spring, but those last months are probably the happiest months of his life.

Every afternoon, Kafka goes out for a walk in the park. More often than not, Dora goes with him. One day, they run into a little girl in tears, sobbing her heart out. Kafka asks her what’s wrong, and she tells him that she’s lost her doll. He immediately starts inveting a story to explain what happened. ‘Your doll has gone off on a trip,’ he says. ‘How do you know that?’ the girl asks. ‘Because she’s written me a letter,’ Kafka says. The girl seems suspicious. ‘Do you heave it on you?’ she asks. ‘No, I’m sorry,’ he says, ‘I left it at home by mistake, but I’ll bring it with me tomorrow.’

Kafka goes straight home to write the letter.

The next day, Kafka rushes back to the park with the letter. The little girl is waiting for him, and since she hasn’t learned how to read yet, he reads the letter out loud to her. The doll is very sorry, but she’s grown tired of living with the same people all the time. She needs to get out and see the world, to make new friends. It’s not that she doesn’t love the little girl, but she longs for a change of scenery, and therefore they must separate for a while. The doll then promises to write the girl every day and keep her abreast of her activities.

That’s where the story begins to break my heart. It’s astonishing enough that Kafka took the trouble to write the first letter, but now he commits himself to the project of writing the letter every day. He kept it up for three weeks. Three weeks. One of the most brilliant writers who ever lived sacrificing his time – his ever more precious and dwindling time – to composing imaginary letters from a lost doll. Dora says he wrote every sentence with excruciating attention to detail, that the prose was precise, funny, and absorbing. In other words, it was Kafka’s prose and every day for three weeks he went to the park and read another letter to the girl.

The doll grows up, goes to school, gets to know other people. She continues to assure the girl of her love, but she hints at certain complications in her life that make it impossible for her to return home. Little by little, Kafka is preparing the girl for the moment when the doll will vanish from her life forever. He finally decides to marry off the doll. He describes the young man she falls in love with, the engagement party, the wedding in the country, even the house where the doll and her husband now live. And then, in the last line, the doll bids farewell to her old and beloved friend.

By that point, of course, the girl no longer misses the doll. Kafka has given her something else instead, and by the time those three weeks are up, the letters have cured her of her unhappiness.

Paul Auster
from The Brooklyn Follies
(thanks pensum)

Tuesday 22 September 2009

start painting (old style, absolutely!)






start painting your shadow
you said quietly
the same one, all over again
until your fingers bleed
it's the only way you'll learn to give up
this fastidious attachment to being

how - i asked shyly

(i knew you were tired of my questions
why is it i always have to learn painfully
what the others appear to master
with such ease and grace:
how to put one foot before another
how to breathe without unleashing a cloud
how to dwell in the falling of leaves
as peacefully as you in the shaded
house of the vague)
so i didn't want to upset you
even though it seemed impossible to upset
the clear water in a bowl of light.

i am still struggling,
my razor blunt, my charcoal burnt.
i am so tired, if only you knew.
carnations fill my ripe mouth,
a wave of darkness crushing within.
come, stop the bleeding.

only then will i fall away from myself

and become your silence.



Friday 18 September 2009

Tuesday 15 September 2009

the sentimental clichés of our small deaths


we still extract the nectar
from each wound
we've opened bare

feeding on the wings
it's taken us so long to grow
from our liquid bones

two bodies heavy with likeness
you and I
wrapped carefully in what might have been

my shadow still reaching out
from the sharp rectangle of light
in which you keep me captive

your silence still reaching out
from the tight rectangle of dark
in which i keep you bound to my silk

the dreadful hour, gently hardening
within the chrysalis
my reckless time, my destroyer



Wednesday 9 September 2009

litany of pale yearning (ah, the fey grace of the pastel tinged soul...)


De ce mi-ai lăsat
Nu mai priveghezi
Dreptele amiezi,
Nopţile abstracte,
Astrele exacte,
Culmile lucide,
Pietrele aride?

Heart of sun and rain,
Wherefore did you leave
The hilltop to grieve?
You no longer watch
The upright noons to notch,
And the abstract nights
With exact high lights,
And the lucid peaks,
And the dried up creaks?


Cine te aduce
Pe cărări în cruce,
Sub limpedea punte
Cu seara pe frunte?

Who sends you to toss
Down the paths that cross,
Under the blue skies
The dusk in your eyes?


Poate, călător
Liricul meu dor,
Stelele de apă,
Umbrele pe pleoapă,
Cornul depărtării,
Muzicile mării!

'Tis perchance my burning,
My lyrical yearning,
The deep water sparks,
The bugle through trees,
The sea's melodies!


Pe vântiri ascult
Orficul tumul,
Când şi-ardică struna
Fata verde Una
Palidă ca luna.

On high winds i hear
Orphic tumults veer,
When she harps her tune a
Purple, purple maiden, Una,
As pallid as Luna.

Şi-a trecut pe ceaţă
Apătoasa faţă.

Şi-a trecut pe lună
Rătăcita dună.

The liquescent face
Passed through mists and haze.

The wandering dune
Passed beneath the moon.


Cu lacrimă-naltă
Trestii vechi tresaltă
Cununată baltă...
Lespezi mari de apă,
Inima îngroapă,
Lacrima îngroapă.
Ape albe cresc
În funebru ropot,
Pe când mai ceresc
Tânguiosul clopot.

With high tears of silver
Ancient rushes quiver
In the wedded river _
Huge, huge slabs of wave
Cover the heart's grave,
Cover the tear's grave.
Milk-white waters swell
With funereal rumble,
While the doleful knell
Sends the skies a-tumble.


Îngeri cad, opale

Angels, angels fall,
Boreal opals all.


Lunile îndoaie
Seara liniştită,
Salcia de ploaie
Şerpii şui şi-agită.

Now the moon shapes billows
Dark around the lake,
While the rainy willows
Shake their long, live snakes.


Palide Œnone,
Paludate zone,
Duceţi-mi la vale
Tristele ovale.

Oenones, wan fairies,
Palludated areas,
Carry me downhill
My sad ovals still.


Linişti mari se-ntind
Dăruind, plutind,
Lobi de albă lume,
Somn mirat în spume,
Când s-aprind egali
Crini opheliali.

Vast silences spread,
Floating, as they shed
Lobes of a white world,
Foamy sleep down whirled,
And with equal blazes,
Ophelian daisies.


Ca oglinda-i pal
Misticul oval,
Şi luna subţie
Mâna străvezie,
Şi-n ochii vagi sufăr
Umbre de nenufăr,
Întoarce-te dar
La Gândul-amnar!

Pale is like sear clover
The mystical oval,
And the moon does thin
The hand's lucid skin,
Shades of nenuphars
Ache in eyes like scars,
Go back then, if aught,
To the flint-steel Thought!


Oh, mă cheamă-ntruna
Palida nebuna
Fata verde Una -

Oh, she calls me sooner
The pallid, the lunar,
The purple maiden Una -

Excerpts from Cantilena, by Dan Botta
(tr. Dan Duţescu)

two pictures were shot on film, the rest are digital (my first - can 'pale' mean 'shy' as well? :-) attempt to deal with colour on my new Nikon D90)

Thursday 3 September 2009

almost lips


Presque lèvres
Presque corps,

Plus que fleurs,
Presque porte à l'entrée
Du corps qu'on touchera,

Près de vous je sais mieux
Ce que c'est que des lèvres
Et ce qu'apporte un corps.

Eugène Guillevic

almost lips,
almost bodies,

more than flowers,
almost the entrance
to the body I will touch,

Near to you I learn
what lips are
and what makes a body.

(tr. Teo Savory)


Tuesday 1 September 2009

the regained splendour of summer: her other apple (3)


Când şarpele intinse Evei mărul, îi vorbi
c-un glas ce răsună
de printre frunze ca un clopot de argint.
Dar s-a întâmplat că-i mai şopti apoi
şi ceva la ureche
încet, nespus de încet,
ceva ce nu se spune în scripturi.

Nici Dumnezeu n-a auzit ce i-a şoptit anume
cu toate că asculta şi el.
Şi Eva n-a voit să-i spuna nici lui Adam.
De-atunci femeia ascunde sub pleoape o taină
şi-şi miscă geana parca-ar zice
că ea ştie ceva,
ce noi nu ştim,
ce nimenea nu ştie,
nici Dumnezeu chiar.

Eva, by Lucian Blaga

When the snake showed Eve the apple, he spoke

in a voice that resounded

like a silver bell among the leaves.

But it also happened that he whispered

something in her ear

in a low, very low voice,

something left unmentioned in scriptures.

Not even God could hear what exactly he whispered,

although he was listening too.

And Eve didn’t want to tell Adam either.

Since then, the woman has a mystery hidden in eyelids,

and moves her brow as if saying

that she knows something

that we don’t,

that nobody does,

not even God.

(trans. Lori Tiron-Pandit)




Bonus: Adam, by Marin Sorescu :-)

Cu toate că se află în rai,
Adam se plimbă pe alei preocupat şi trist
Pentru că nu ştia ce-i mai lipseşte.

Atunci Dumnezeu a confecţionat-o pe Eva
Dintr-o coastă a lui Adam.
Şi primului om atât de mult i-a plăcut această minune,
Încât chiar în clipa aceea
Şi-a pipăit coasta imediat următoare,
Simţindu-şi degetele frumos fulgerate
De nişte sâni tari şi coapse dulci
Ca de contururi de note muzicale.
O nouă Eva răsărise în faţa lui.
Tocmai îşi scosese oglinjoara
Şi se ruja pe buze.
“Asta e viaţa !” a oftat Adam
Şi-a mai creat încă una.
Şi tot aşa, de câte ori Eva oficială
Se întorcea cu spatele,
Sau pleca la piaţă după aur, smirnă şi tămâie,
Adam scotea la lumină o nouă cadână
Din haremul său intercostal.

Dumnezeu a observat
Această creaţie deşanţată a lui Adam.
L-a chemat la el, l-a sictirit dumnezeieşte,
Şi l-a izgonit din rai
Pentru suprarealism.

Although he was in Heaven,

Adam was walking on the alleys preoccupied and sad

Because he didn't know what he was missing.

Then God created Eve

From one of Adam's ribs.

And the first man liked this miracle so much

That right that moment

He touched his next rib,

Feeling his fingers beautifully struck

By hard breasts and sweet thighs

Like shapes of musical notes.

A new Eve appeared in front of him.

She had just taken out her mirror

And was putting on lipstick.

"This is life!" - sighed Adam

And created another one.

And so on, every time the official Eve

Turned her back

Or left to the market for gold, myrrh and frankincense

Adam would bring to light a new odalisque

From his intercostal harem.

God noticed

This libertine creation of Adam’s

Called him, cursed him, in a Godly way,

And banished him from heaven

On grounds of surrealism.

(trans. Lori Tiron-Pandit)


i didn't take these pictures thinking about Eve's story, we just played with the red apple we had found in the shadowy garden - and eventually ate it, though those shots didn't turn out well :-)
I just remembered these poems later...