Monday, January 30, 2006

Infidels! I will turn you all into beasts of burden!

Here is Damien, from my favourite South Park episode ever.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

[Insert timely quotation here]

Internal life on a crisp sunny Sunday: random thoughts and sayings.

deciduous

"... others which have no hope"

trees

"Am I not an insecure person? Do I look like I'm feeling insecure right now? There must be a reason."

through the bathroom window

(happiness)

winter sun

"there is such a thing as a correct mistake"

trees

For the first time in years, I am optimistic.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stasis

Loxias is sad this morning. He is sitting in his office staring out of the window at a place he has struggled to put up with, and failed. He is wearing a suit, ready for a press conference, he looks at his To Do list, he thinks in dread of a long dry stifling summer ahead.

Loxias is fearful about the future, about the strength of tensile materials -- like humans are. Loxias was sobbing yesterday, after a sweet and soothing conversation even, while dark was falling in the room, he even screamed, like a child who had just lost a parent. "We have achieved nothing here, except getting this stupid cat" -- who was poignantly asleep at the time. "Enough with conclusions, what are we going to do?", a call for action, what Hamlet is struggling to avoid.

Loxias is trapped in the future. Loxias is tired of persevering and rationalising and bearing it with a smile. Loxias feels alone and fearful of the future this morning, the part of the future that matters most. He is already tired of the past, of advice, of patience.

This is not an anniversary post, as you might think it would be: I only realised while writing this that it's four years today in this miserable exile that has corroded us inside. I wrote this as an exercise in self-pity and as yet another gimmick to muster strength.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Yea!

Yes, yes!

Thanks to theGoose!

Ignorant (et ignorabunt)

One striking fact about the majority (maybe) of Outposters is their blinding ignorance on matters of what we usually call general knowledge coupled with a sense of their country being the undisputed centre of the world (whereas everybody else knows it is Ojai, California). I have said bits and pieces on the matter before, but it is a topic that inevitably keeps resurfacing.

There is a wealth of anecdotes on the matter, most of which come from perplexed and bewildered Outposters themselves (e.g. "the idiot thought the Principality has a Prime Minister, she's lived here all her life, for *^#%*$#@$ sake!"). Recent examples include yet another student (I mean, they are supposed to read books, right?) who asked her teacher of Spanish what part of Spain Latin America is in and a candidate in a competition for a Propaganda Ministry job consistently translating the term for United Nations into English as 'United States'.

I don't want to dwell on more of the colourful examples; their plentiful abundance making itself manifest every now and then has lost all novelty by now: I have been here for four years (sigh). I am only interested in why there is so much ignorance. I think I can identify two reasons:

a. Outposters do not seem to be interested in whatever takes place beyond the horizon of their everyday experience. Recall that, for most of them, 'kids, houses, food, chauvinism' is all that matters. In this respect they are not really exceptional or even different from, well, quite a lot of human beings. However,

b. Outposters are raised in a society where criticism is actively discouraged in education, society, politics and relationships and this culture of anti-criticism is quite pervasive and, at the end of the day, oppressively inculcated. Naturally, there are discernible reasons for that: a recent colonial obscurantist past superimposed on a sturdy quasi-feudal socio-economic organisation (with the Church as a major player) would make any criticism very unwelcome anywhere. Moreover, this being a small, family-oriented, social-network powered place with a violent recent past of abject poverty for most, criticism would be corrosive of highly prized power relations and social dynamics: your butt of jokes is someone's relative, and you somehow rely on this person, your one-night stand is someone's daughter / sister (male perspective assumed throughout, of course), and so on.

Introvercy and a culture of anti-criticism hardly encourage anything but reproducing the ideology, especially in a rote fashion. In our case (and others), we are dealing with an ideology featuring a formulaic and distorted interpretation of the world in black-and-white, a sentimentalist iconography and irrational foundations, as well as disdain for excessive 'detail' and 'useless 'information.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Other people's crimes are heinous

Dedicated to devious diva and her (online) struggles.

I have finally found time to locate the link to an extremely important article on Orhan Pamuk, Turkish crimes and the British way of doing genocide (and then going on to hush about it).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

American Memory V

I marvelled at many things but I only learned one: that Europe is miserable in at least one thing, namely the morosity, Angst and bile of its intelligent and cultured people (or, really, every European, bar the Portuguese). Plainly put, if you are intelligent and / or cultured in Europe, you cannot be happy, you cannot be fun, it is inconceivable that you may smile or be pleasant. You must be possessed by the sullen spirit of Schopenhauer, you must look at the world throught the eyes of Raskolnikov, you must despise the world more intensely than that poor fictional New Yorker, Holden Caulfield, you must despise it at least as much as Nietzsche.

America taught me (Boston first and New York definitely) that you can be of a happy and kind disposition even if you are intelligent and cultured. Also, sullenness and grumpiness or pose, rudeness and obfuscation can hardly conceal emptiness and stupidity. In America. In Europe they are sufficient hallmarks of a true intellectual.

American Memory IV

headless

American Memory III

The Garage jazz bar: cool place, relaxed crowd, great martinis, delectable jazz. A trio: a black guy (bass), a white guy (piano), an asian guy (drums). A singer: looking like Morrissey in 15-20 years. On Seventh Avenue at (roughly) 12th St.

--

Update on 31.I.2006: actually it is at Grove St., very close to Bleecker St. Hyperlink added, too: even memories can use a hyperlink.

American Memory II

Walking in the street and understanding, for the first time, why The Battle Hymn of the Republic is maybe as important -- and as (excessively) iconic -- as L' Internationale. Among other things, it is a candid and clear voice from a time when American Protestants were all for Civil Rights.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

American Memory I

Waking up to rush to a bagel breakfast, turning on the TV, we saw this.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's a small world, after all

On Friday, Zapata, St and One of the Seven agreed to join us to listen and dance to Winding Corridors, a live band playing anything from '80s and '90s music to disco and heavy metal. Jod and me first went to the theatre, then to a Mexican restaurant. By the time we were ready for some dancing, Zapata had fallen asleep at his home, after having watched Sin City on DVD and St had relapsed into her Yuletide tonsilitis complete with a fever. She also stayed home. One of the Seven made it with two female friends and a male one named after the natural border between Greece and Turkey (imagine: "My name is Bond, Pyrenees Bond" -- something like that).

A lot of dancing ensued. In fact, at a given moment I found myself dancing next to a political party leader (right-wing fearmonger, if you ask me) and his scantily clad party youth overlords. Then we spotted Jod's German classmate from her Spanish lessons, who said she had had enough of the Outpost and was so bloody out of here. During "Play that funky music, white boy", someone I came very close to having fired just before Xmas (I have no executive powers to sack anyone), came to the floor and said hi to me, too. Last but not least, one of the band's two singers is a newscaster by day, presenting the Principality TV's English-language news.

Ha, beat THAT, New York. Eat the Outpost's dust (it's got plenty of the stuff, too).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

More New York photos

I am posting some more photos from the recent New York trip, this time of a more personal character.

First of all, some exhibits from the Met.

The following is a classical Greek head, which I found curiously dramatic and with a very modern feel, the face half-covered with a veil seemingly blown by the wind.

donna velata

Two of my favourite paintings by Courbet.

I luv Courbet

Closely observed Pollock.

pollock

A stained glass window from Prague, from the time it was the imperial capital (of the Holy Roman Empire).

prague window

A miserable looking flag of the Vatican, soaked in the rain.

wet flag

Looking out from the Skylight diner.

streets

Two shots from Central Park.

sign

bride

More truths about sex, life and the like from a bookshop shelf (click to enlarge):

end-beginning

From the International Center of Photography shop.

arrested motion

Skating in Bryant Park.

ice

Red carpet in Bloomingdale's.

red Bloomie's

The following three are exhibits from the MoMA exhibition on safety in design and design for safety, "Safe: Design takes on risk". The first is a set of stickers to protect us from overexposure to TVs and PCs.

get a life

The second is quite touching, a low elevated pedestal emitting heat and light for street-walking sex workers to stand and rest on, providing comfort and a sort of 'safe space' for them. I found this a very touching piece of design because it bears witness to (unfortunately limited in our societies) sensitivities for the weak. The symbolic and, maybe, also practical significance of a space like this becomes even more relevant in a world swept by trafficking and sex trade (perhaps slavery for our times).

light warmth

What the following is is evident and, at first blush, very funny. My mirth was curbed when I learnt that it can be a life-saving device for populations, especially African women, unfamiliar with the subtleties of latex rolling on impatient members. In other words, the thingy below can contribute to the correct putting on of a condom, 'correct' here entailing the difference between life and AIDS. Intriguingly sobering.

put it on

Finally, nostalgically and with love, the reading room of the New York Public Library.

NYPL

I will have to tell you about New Yorkers some other time, I now have work to do (yes, at home).

Just old books

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Leaving Manhattan

I was planning a series of posts when I was there. One for each day. They would be numbered and be named something boisterous, like New York Chronicles, or so. Still, a few hours ago I told Jorge:
"I do not know what to write about the trip. Or the city."
"Don't worry, it will all ooze out in time."
"But I do want to post something on New York now!"
"Well, just post some pictures."

Same old kind of advice. But I followed it. So, here.

First, the obligatory shot of Times Square.

times sq

Tango behind a shop window, advertising some show.

tango

Looking up from Bryant Park.

bryant pk

A virtual convergence (?), from the Lower East Side.

beati

However, some Americans seem to have got it right (from the Coliseum bookshop).

religion science

Our favourite New York landmark.

chrysler

More of the 'alzarsi perpendicolarmente' business here.

trinity

A view from Brooklyn Bridge,

from the bridge

and another one.

from the bridge 2

An urban landscape from within MoMA,

from MoMA

and from Central Park.

from Central Park

Pure Upper West Side.

pet coiff

The Angel of Bethesda (also known as 'I, I, I...')

bethesda

Ascending Guggenheim crowds:

guggenheim

Views from the Empire State Building.

Looking Northwest, to Times Square.

vol d'oiseau

Looking Northeast, to the Chrysler Building and Queens.

vol d'oiseau 2

Looking Southwest, towards Chelsea.

to chelsea

Looking down.

i am batman

Finally, I think the quote of this trip is by Jod, while waiting for the subway and as a response to a Chinese fiddle playing in the station:

"This music makes me wanna pee."