miercuri, 31 august 2022

"One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each" -Fujiwara no Teika


"One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin isshu) is a private compilation of poems dating to around 1230-40 and assembled by the renowned poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241). The best-loved and most widely read of all Japanese poetry collections, it was also the first work of Japanese literature to be translated into English -by Frederick Victor Dickins (1838-1915) -in 1866. There are three main reasons for its popularity. Firstly, its compiler, Teika, a scholar, theoretician and philologist, was the most admired poet of his time. Secondly, as a collection of one hundred of the best poems by one hundred representative poets, it provides a convenient introduction to the finest Japanese poetry from the late seventh to the early thirteenth centuries. Finally, it has endured thanks in part to the countless paintings, illustrated editions, commentaries and even a card game that have been inspired by it."

"All of the poems [...] are waka, the most ancient and prestigious of the traditional poetry genres. Waka serves as a general term for classical Japanese poetry in all its forms -except renga (linked verse) and haiku- as opposed to foreign verse, especially Chinese poetry. However, in the more usual, restricted sense, waka designates Japanese poetic forms pre-dating renga and haiku, namely choka, sedoka and especially the thirty-one-syllable tanka. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), the ancient term tanka has been revived and the form updated, replacing waka as the preferred term for poems in the classical thirty-one-syllable form. The poems are arranged in five lines in an alternating pattern of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. In this volume, the majority of the translations are laid out over five lines."

"Although the exact circumstances of the compilation of the One Hundred Poets are unknown, some facts are well established. In 1235 Teika was asked by his son’s father-in-law, Utsunomiya Rensho (or Yoritsuna), to select a hundred poems to appear on the sliding doors of his country villa on Mount Ogura, west of Kyoto. […] 
In Teika’s Kindai shuka, the arrangement of the poems is marked by his predilection for love poetry, especially the darker aspects of love, such as betrayal, abandonment, bitterness and despair. The same is certainly true of the One Hundred Poets, whose treatment of love tends to focus on its more sombre, unhappy aspects, though in a sense this is true of all waka poetry, which does not celebrate happy or fulfilled love. "

"I have loved in vain 
and now my beauty fades 
like these cherry blossoms 
paling in the long rains of spring 
that I gaze out upon alone. 

Many commentators have written of it as the cri de coeur of an old woman who was in her heyday a very great beauty, blessed with exceptional talent, sensually alive, and feted and loved by many. Now her beauty has faded, her lovers are dead or gone, and her poetic talent is weakening. I do not disagree with this interpretation, but additional considerations must also be taken into account. Ono no Komachi is like many Japanese women of talent. In Japanese culture, women have traditionally taken roles subservient to men, which has meant that they have had less freedom and have had to overcome greater challenges in expressing themselves. One of the principal modes of expression employed by women was negation. When praised, the first response was (and to some extent still is) to negate. In this poem, Ono no Komachi employs the classical device of negation to produce what is ostensibly a lament for her fading beauty and talents. But it is important to see what the poem affirms. It is hard to imagine that Komachi was unaware of her achievement and stature as a poet. In other words, the poet is saying something like: “Yes, I am growing old and am less beautiful than I once was. Maybe you superficial (especially male!) readers will no longer find me attractive, but if you have a minimum of discernment, you will be able to see under my disguise and realize that the sadness of life has only sharpened my genius. Fade away, those of you who can only see the surface; and even those of you who can see beyond the surface, approach gingerly, for the profundity of my emotion has made me as formidable as ever” "

"One of the great strengths of classical Japanese waka poetry is that it can express deep emotion and refinement of sensibility in images of profound simplicity, and the “One Hundred Poets” is an exemplary work in this regard. Its poems contain rich and original images that still seem fresh a thousand years later. The collection shows how Teika defined himself in relation to the poetic tradition that he both inherited and promulgated. […] 
The primary aim in this book is to provide an enjoyable and poetic translation, and I hope that readers will find in these pages something of the depth and beauty of the original magical collection, which is notable for the great subtlety and allusiveness of the poems, their incomparable visual imagery and the profound emotion that they express. 
Haiku is widely known in the West, but it is originally developed from waka. Haiku, a relatively recent word, was originally known as hokku and was the opening stanza in Japanese linked verse, renga. Haiku came into being when the opening stanza came to exist independently from the rest of the linked verse. Formally, it is the equivalent of the upper strophe of waka, namely having seventeen syllables of 5-7-5. Though haiky developed in a completely different way to waka, a study of Japanese waka can help readers in understanding more about haiku and how to write it. […] Thus, if one wants to understand the heart of the Japanese it could be argued that it is found not only in haiku, but also -or even more- in waka."

Oshikochi no Mitsune 

To pluck a stem 
I shall have to guess, 
for I cannot tell apart 
white chrysanthemus 
from the first frost. 

Fujiwara no Sadayori 

As the dawn mist 
thins in patches 
on the Uji River, 
in the shallows appear 
glistening stakes of fishing nets. 

Inpumon-in no Taifu 

How I would like to show you – 
the fishermen’s sleeves of Ojima 
are drenched, but even so 
have not lost their colour, 
as mine have, bathed in endless tears. 

Fujiwara no Kintsune 

As if lured by the storm 
the blossoms are strewn about, 
white upon the garden floor, 
yet all this whiteness is not snow – 
it is me who withers and grows old

miercuri, 17 august 2022

Cormac McCarthy -"Blood Meridian"


O carte lirică. Limbajul e foarte intens și, cumva, elementul structurant; e ca muzica aceea din filme care te pregătește cum să primești o anumită scenă, care potențează suspansul sau susține umorul scenelor comice etc. Cormac McCarthy creează o carte în care te cufunzi complet, chiar și auditiv, datorită limbajului. E genul acela de text hipnotic care te înghite cu totul. Chestie care e cu atât mai dificil de realizat cu cât nu ai un personaj cu care să te identifici, pe care să-l placi, de care să te agăți, care să aibă oarecum rol de ghid în interiorul cărții (poate the Kid, dar și pe el îl pierzi de multe ori).
Totuși, ești prins acolo, fără personaje proeminente, fără poveste. Iar contrastul dintre frumusețea limbajului și violența extremă a conținutului este absolut uimitor și captivant. 

"Glanton sat his horse and looked long out upon this scene. Sparse on the mesa the dry weeds lashed in the wind like the earth’s long echo of lance and spear in the old encounters forever unrecorded. All the sky seemed troubled and night came quickly over the evening land and small Gillis birds flew crying softly after the fled sun. He chucked up the horse. He passed and so passed all into the problematical destruction of darkness."

"Long past dark that night when the moon was already up a party of women that had been upriver drying fish returned to the village and wandered howling through the ruins. A few fires still smoldered on the ground and dogs slank off from among the corpses. An old woman knelt at the blackened stones before her door and poked brush into the coals and blew back a flame from the ashes and began to right the overturned pots. All about her the dead lay with their peeled skulls like polyps bluely wet or luminescent melons cooling on some mesa of the moon. In the days to come the frail black rebuses of blood in those sands would crack and break and drift away so that in the circuit of few suns all trace of the destruction of these people would be erased. The desert wind would salt their ruins and there would be nothing, not ghost not scribe, to tell to any pilgrim in his passing how it was that people had lived in this place and in this place died."

"They fought them again at Encinillas and they fought them in the dry passes going toward El Sauz and beyond in the low foothills from which they could already see the churchspires of the city to the south. On the twenty-first of July in the year eighteen forty-nine they rode into the city of Chihuahua to a hero’s welcome, driving the harlequin horses before them through the dust of the streets in a pandemonium of teeth and whited eyes. Small boys ran among the hooves an the victors in their gory rags smiled through the filth and the dust and the caked blood as they bore on poles the desiccated heads of the enemy through that fantasy of music and flowers."

"They were much reduced by their wounds and their hunger and they made a poor show as they staggered onward. By noon their water was gone and they sat studying the barrenness about. A wind blew down from the north. Their mouths were dry. The desert upon which they were entrained was desert absolute and it was devoid of feature altogether and there was nothing to mark their progress upon it. The earth fell away on every side equally in its arcature and by these limits were they circumscribed and of them were they locus. They rose and went on. The sky was luminous. There was no trace to follow other than the bits of cast-off left by travelers even to the bones of men drifted out of their graves in the scalloped sands. In the afternoon the terrain began to rise before them and at the crest of a shallow esker they stood and looked back to see the judge much as before some two miles distant on the plain. They went on. 
The approach to any watering place in that desert was marked by the carcasses of perished animals in increasing number and so it was now, as if the wells were ringed by some hazard lethal to creatures. The travelers looked back. The judge was out of sight beyond the rise. Before them lay the whitened boards of a wagon and further on the shapes of mule and ox with the hide scoured bald as canvas by the constant abrasion of the sand. 
The kid stood studying this place and then he backtracked some hundred yards and stood looking down at his shallow footprints in the sand. He looked upon the drifted slope of the esker which they had descended and he knelt and held his hand against the ground and he listened to the faint silica hiss of the wind. 
When he drifted his hand there was a thin ridge of sand that had drifted against it and he watched this ridge slowly vanish before him. 
The expriest when he returned to him prevented a grave appearance. The kid knelt and studied him where he sat."

duminică, 7 august 2022

Elif Shafak -"10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World"


"For the first time she was able to stand back and regard herself and her family from a mental distance; and what she found out made her uncomfortable. She had always assumed they were a normal family, like any other in the world. Now she wasn’t so sure. What if there was something different about them -something inherently wrong? Little did she yet understand that the end of childhood comes not when a child’s body changes with puberty, but when her mind is finally able to see her life through the eyes of an outsider."

"The area around the port was always so crowded that pedestrians had to move sideways like crabs. Young women in miniskirts walked arm in arm; drivers catcalled out of car windows; apprentices from coffeehouses scurried back and forth, carrying tea trays loaded with small glasses; tourists bent under the weight of their backpacks gazed around as if newly awake; shoe-shine boys rattled their brushes against their brass boxes, decorated with photos of actresses -modest ones on the front, nudes on the back. Vendors peeled salted cucumbers, squeezed fresh pickle juice, roasted chickpeas and yelled over one another while motorists blasted their horns for no reason at all. Smells of tobacco, sweat, perfume, fried food and an occasional reefer -albeit illegal- mingled with the briny sea air."

miercuri, 3 august 2022

Mircea Nedelciu -"Tratament fabulatoriu"


"O societate de câteva zeci de membri, închisă din punct de vedere economic, cu principii de funcționare ce păreau a fi viabile, dar cu o greșită priză la timp, cu imposibilitatea de a atinge prezentul, iată ce credeam că există la numai câțiva kilometri de locul meu nou de muncă. Numai că, în timp ce mâncam, o neplăcută senzație de aer înghițit din cauza gustului de friptură condimentată pe care îl avea își făcea loc. Inconsistența acelui ospăț foarte bun la gust, foamea care îmi chinuia mai departe stomacul, amețeala pe care credeam ca mi-o producea țuica lor cu gust de fructe uscate păreau înrudite de aproape cu inconsistența imaginii despre lume în absența cuvintelor, cu starea nefirească în care mă aflam de fiecare dată când nimeream la conac." 

"Si uriașa cantitate de fantezie, își zice, pe care o consumă cu toții pentru a-și da impresia că nu le e frică de nimic, nici din afară, nici dinlăuntrul lor. Jocurile de canastă, înghițitura de coniac bun la ore fixe ale singurătății de după-amiaza, hainele de bună calitate îmbrăcate la petreceri, halatele moi, după baie, pipele de import, mustața cănită, jocul de bridge, pockerul pe sume mari și pe întâlniri tensionate, vocea îngroșată în luările de cuvânt în cadrul oficial, sportul de duminică, excursia, croșetatul, omorîtul timpului e forma cea mai disperată a încercării de a îndepărta spaimele mărunte și sâcâitoare. Dar pe mine de ce nu mă cred când încerc să le spun că marea veselie ce-i cuprinde adesea, la cererea lor, firește, nu e decât rezultatul acestei spaime provocate de un fenomen meteo cu nume necunoscut, fenomenul Luca ar trebui să i se spună? Ei îl simt în aer și, în loc să-l analizeze serios și să ia apoi măsuri de apărare, își cumpără băutură, mâncare din belșug, pun muzică, își dau întâlniri, dansează, flirtează, joacă tot felul de năzbâtii infantile, se relaxează, chipurile, neacceptând că sunt de fapt victime ale unei subtile infiltrări de lașitate în sufletul lor și că, după aceea, urmările catastrofale devin imposibil de înlăturat. De aici până la crima cea mai abjectă nu mai e decât un pas [...]"