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domingo, 23 de julio de 2017

Poems and Prose: A Bilingual Edition - Georg Trakl

Rating: 
15/07/17


Georg Trakl was born in Austria in 1887. He started writing poetry at a very young age, however he later decided to study pharmacy. After that, he enlisted in the army but never stopped writing. During World War I, he worked as a medical official. He witnessed the harrowing consequences of the war (a battle in Grodek inspired one of his last poems). As he found himself surrounded by wounds and death, his depression – which he suffered all his life – worsened and eventually died of an overdose of cocaine at 27.
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Many of these events and the emotions they prompted appear in his poetry, which is gracefully tinged with the colors of Expressionism.
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Trakl’s poetry abounds with nostalgic reminiscences, the bleak colors of the evening, the reverberation of silence. But above all, with the images of death. A dark imagery which creates a sad and oppressive atmosphere.

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His delectable language, which fluctuates between fragility and strength, brims over with allusions to death. It's definitely hard to explain, but despite the beauty of the language, the considerable amount of references to such theme started to get a little tiresome. After reading a bit about his life, I understand. Nonetheless, I felt like I was reading an obituary. A long, bluish lament that after a few pages became somewhat monotonous. It reminded me of my experience while reading Cioran and his overused concept of darkness.
In this sense, I wasn’t able to connect with Trakl’s verse – though I did enjoy his prose, and that explains the 3-star rating:

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My levels of enthusiasm varied widely, regardless of my penchant for melancholic poetry (but this was beyond melancholic; I couldn't handle the lack of balance). After a while, the sense of expectancy was gone. I already knew that the next page was going to show me another shade of the recurring theme of this collection. Lethal predictability. 


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sábado, 22 de julio de 2017

The Diary of a Madman - Guy de Maupassant

Rating: 
25/11/15
*Una "reseña" que me olvidé de subir/An old "review" I forgot to post.



25th June. To think that a being is there who lives, who walks, who runs. A being? What is a being? That animated thing, that bears in it the principle of motion and a will ruling that motion. It is attached to nothing, this thing. Its feet do not belong to the ground. It is a grain of life that moves on the earth, and this grain of life, coming I know not whence, one can destroy at one's will. Then nothing—nothing more. It perishes, it is finished.

...

10th August. Who would ever know? Who would ever suspect me, me, me, especially if I should choose a being I had no interest in doing away with?



A dangerous story for a troubled mind.



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Bobok - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Rating: 
03/05/14
*Una reseña que me olvidé de subir/An old review I forgot to post.


This review may have a little spoiler.

I love short stories and novellas. It's fascinating how a writer can say so much in a few pages. Bobok is another excellent example of this writer's talent to describe people's virtues and miseries. He wrote major works concerning the human condition, and they all seem to be written yesterday.
Bobok
The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool — a faculty unheard of nowadays. In old days, once a year at any rate a fool would recognize that he was a fool, but nowadays not a bit of it.

Timeless! And kind of funny.

So, this book is about Ivan Ivanovitch, a frustrated writer that went to a funeral of some distant relative. He complained about the cemetery, the smell, green water, the smiles of the dead that haunt his dreams. Well, It's a cemetery... not a place you'd go to have a picnic, I'm guessing.

Then, he sat on a tombstone and started to think about random stuff. Deep reflections about little details, I love that. Suddenly, he began to hear a conversation. He was all alone and he heard a conversation. In the cemetery. ALONE. I'd drop dead and end up under some tombstone in a heartbeat. (The last heartbeat, I guess.)

These dead people were not quite dead. They were aware of everything that surrounded them. They played cards, they discussed among each other, they even shared anecdotes. An active conscience after death is a theme I already saw in The Dream of a Ridiculous Man. It's an interesting yet disturbing theme. However, we can't help to ask ourselves, during several moments of our lives, if death really is the final step or not. Personally, I wish it was. I don't like some people here; I can't imagine what it would be like to be in some cemetery, stuck with annoying people for three or four months and not being able to go away!

Back to the book. Yes, their consciousness was active for about three, even six months until they decomposed. That's why these dead-not-so-dead people decided to spend those months as agreeable as possible. In order to do so, they were determined to cast aside all shame and be brutally honest. Because lying is needed on Earth, but when you're dead, why would you care, right? Anyway, their crazy conversations were a delight to read.

What this short story is trying to tell us—in my humble opinion—is that even dead, human beings are capable of depravity. These guys were willing to waste those months that were given to them, probably to think about their existence on Earth and find some sort of redemption. Instead, they wanted to keep partying. A party of shameless degradation they started while living! The lowness of human condition appears even after death. Or not... I mean, meditation would be the right thing to do. But these people were freaking dead. Actually, they were about to be completely dead. So, it's a tough call.


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El banquero anarquista - Fernando Pessoa

Rating: 
16/11/13?
*Una reseña que me olvidé de subir/An old review I forgot to post.



El banquero anarquistaEncontré a Pessoa por El libro del Desasosiego. Como todavía no llegó, quise empezar a conocer a este autor (sobre el cual he leído varias opiniones y me interesó mucho) y di con Un Banquero Anarquista, que trata sobre una conversación entre dos amigos; uno de ellos, como puede deducirse, es un banquero que se denomina anarquista. El otro muchacho no puede conciliar la idea de que este hombre sea anarquista; una persona que se enriquece mientras defiende un sistema libre que predica en contra de toda desigualdad. Durante varias, quizás demasiadas líneas, intenta entender cómo esta persona puede ser anarquista tanto en la teoría como en la práctica; mientras que aquel le refiere que no hay desacuerdo entre ambas, puesto que considera que “ellos, los de los sindicatos y las bombas (yo también estuve allí y salí de allí precisamente a causa de mi verdadero anarquismo), ellos son la basura del anarquismo, los hembras de la gran doctrina libertaria”. Divide su realidad entre anarquistas estúpidos y anarquistas inteligentes, algo que resulta presuntuosamente molesto. Pero eso es personal, nunca pude ocultar mi “molestia” ante personas que se creen más inteligentes que otras y lo hacen saber. Si sos inteligente, excelente, la gente lo podrá percibir sin que te pongas un cartel luminoso en la frente que lo diga. Quizás no es molestia molestia; no sé, no me dan ganas de tratarlos.


En fin, el banquero cuenta por qué se volvió anarquista, relatando algunos hechos con los que no es difícil estar de acuerdo. Creo que en algún momento, todos hemos sentido esa rebelión interna de la que se habla acá. No sé si como para llegar al punto de rebelarse contra toda convención y fórmula social (ficciones, como las llama este señor) hasta su abolición, pero bueno. Algunas de sus ideas son razonables, otras, son ridículamente contradictorias, por más argumento que le intente dar. Intencionales, por supuesto, ya que determinadas ironías son las que hacen que este cuento tenga mayor impacto y se pueda comparar con lo que realmente se vive. Un banquero, alguien en el sistema, en búsqueda y contacto permanente con el dinero, es anarquista. O sea... Sos un ban-que-ro.
1. “Para el anarquista, es claro, quien está en el lugar de enemigo es cualquier representante de las ficciones sociales y de su tiranía”.
2. “Soy banquero”.

Es muy gracioso. El tipo te envuelve con lo que parecen sólidos argumentos (igual, eso es un plus: no anda diciendo frases hechas de por ahí, intenta respaldarlas con el uso de su razón, aunque no sean más que sofismas, ¡pero al menos se toma el tiempo!). Sin embargo, todo vuelve a lo mismo de siempre, la libertad, el individualismo, que se logra relacionar íntimamente con el concepto de riqueza, alejándose de los ideales del anarquismo. Se plantea subyugar una feroz ficción social: el dinero. Solo se puede dejar de ser esclavo del dinero... teniendo mucho dinero. Fantástico.

Esta conversación se vuelve interesante a medida que avanza, y densa, difícil de imaginar con café y torta de por medio, llegando a verse más como un monólogo. Hasta que aparece algún “sí”, “entiendo” por parte de la otra persona, que quisiera saber si realmente está entendiendo. Ya en esa instancia, me imagino su cara... Y yo, en esa instancia, ya estaba medio saturada de tantos conceptos repetidos. Terminaron de cenar, pero ¿qué bebió para sentir la necesidad de decir y repetir lo mismo en cada comienzo de oración? Indudablemente, quien lea este libro, entenderá qué es el anarquismo. Lo entenderá varias veces. Lo entenderá una vez por página. Lo entenderá como yo entendí varios aspectos de Derechos Reales, donde cada vez que me la nombran recuerdo “anualidad purga el vicio”, “anualidad purga el vicio”, tras leerlo 23.456 veces.

Fuera de eso, me gustó mucho. Podría ser realmente tedioso, pero Pessoa tiene una particularidad en su escritura que evita llegar al aburrimiento, teniendo en cuenta que el tópico que trata no es particularmente Disneylandesco. De todos modos, el tema te tiene que interesar, sino esto lo largás en la segunda página.


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sábado, 15 de julio de 2017

Luna de Enfrente: Cuaderno San Martín - Jorge Luis Borges

Rating: 
13/16/16

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Luna de Enfrente: Cuaderno San Martin
Moon Across the Way (1925) and San Martín Copybook (1929) are the last two books that complete the poetic trilogy Borges had started with Fervor of Buenos Aires (1923).

There is a particular, tangible atmosphere that acts as a bond among those three collections, one that goes beyond the lyrical tone and elegance one may instantly perceive even after the first quick glance. Through the art of poetry (that Borges later on would keep cultivating, letting it become another part of his being, unfortunately not as renowned as his short stories), he combined everyday things with existential matters. Streets, the countryside, well-lighted patios, a city that is heard as if it were a verse; all elements that were used to deconstruct existence, allowing philosophical dilemmas to come to surface, thus merging a world of facts with a metaphysical realm.

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After I read the last poem, my mind was plagued with certainties, half-truths and obstinate doubts. A timid hand closed the book as a sense of joy mixed with nostalgia welled up inside me.
Night has fallen and I await, with a wistful smile, I hope; I yearn for that melody to last until dawn.


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Collected Poems - Dylan Thomas

Rating: 
08/11/16

A process in the weather of the heart

A process in the weather of the heart
Turns damp to dry; the golden shot
Storms in the freezing tomb.
A weather in the quarter of the veins
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Turns night to day; blood in their suns
Lights up the living worm.

A process in the eye forwarns
The bones of blindness; and the womb
Drives in a death as life leaks out.

A darkness in the weather of the eye
Is half its light; the fathomed sea
Breaks on unangled land.
The seed that makes a forest of the loin
Forks half its fruit; and half drops down,
Slow in a sleeping wind.

A weather in the flesh and bone
Is damp and dry; the quick and dead
Move like two ghosts before the eye.

A process in the weather of the world
Turns ghost to ghost; each mothered child
Sits in their double shade.
A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.


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sábado, 3 de junio de 2017

The Education of the Stoic - Fernando Pessoa, Richard Zenith (Editor, Translator)

Rating: 
27/05/17

Review found in a drawer

I’m all of these things, like it or not, in the confused depths of my fatal sensibility.


Sou todas essa coisas, embora o não queira, no fundo confuso da minha sensibilidade fatal.
― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet/Livro do Desassossego

The Education of the Stoic is the only legacy of the Baron of Teive, a manuscript with which he took the mirror of abstractions and reflected himself to explain why he wasn’t able to produce superior art, to write the books he wanted to. Explanations to illustrate the unutterable. The commonplace vacuum that feels unique.
I had scruples where other men didn’t think twice, and after seeing what I didn’t do done by others, I wondered: Why did I think so much if it only made me suffer?

All the factors that lead to look at such tragedy in the eye and accept it unreservedly; dealing, with pride, with the rejection of life itself. Acknowledging the parcial defeat of reason in the sphere of emotions, as he, amid a plethora of contradictions, refuses to be like just anybody, while being like just anybody.
But powerful as thought is, it can do nothing to quell rebellious emotions. We can’t choose not to feel, as we can not to walk.

The aristocrat and the assistant bookkeeper. Bernardo Soares’ presence palpitates with silent vehemence all around this book. His thoughts intermingle with the Baron’s musings and disclose the similarities of two individuals of different backgrounds, equally unfit to live life. The ode to brevity. Or the impossibility of writing an elaborated chapter.

Sometimes it is only one sentence. And by the end of it, everything trembles.
Do with the brutality that doing entails; renounce with the absoluteness of renunciation.

Everyone is renouncing. And the reader sees them vanishing. A surge of innocuous unawareness leaving behind a wounded path. Things become real once lost. Things are lost unbeknownst to them. They have written on selfish air; the reader, on self-centered stone.

The Baron’s collection of thoughts and rejections to theories that reduce truth to simplicity, of regrets and a proud denial of ever having regrets, of silent competitions and unachievable art, of voices unheard and impracticable faith - this is his testament. A manuscript on how the idea of perfection eclipsed the author’s life, on the indignity of weeping before the world and other similar banalities. An analysis on the fatal nature of lucidity. Inconclusive, unconnected fragments to justify “the profession of nonproducer.”
These pages are not my confession; they’re my definition.

Pessoa, Tabucci and Zenith constitute the Appendix. Among the texts, there is an act of giving voice to the regular human nature that literary work set aside at times. Conclusions about the days that belong only to the writer. To the greatest novelist without a novel.

The weight of life overpowers everything, and at the threshold of annihilation, the Baron of Teive admits he has been conquered, and makes himself a conqueror. A raw complaint to a stoic succession of nothingness in the midst of ephemeral hope, as identities juxtapose, merge, and evanesce.
Easy, kiddo, no one will notice the voiceless outburst.




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