Harold Bloom talks about the importance of the reading life in the formation of character. For him, this is done through a lifetime of internal dialogue with oneself, with the characters, ideas, situations and conflicts in novels, plays, poems, short stories and so on. This lifetime of dialogue builds character, broadens horizons, exercises the mind, expands it. It is a key in the formation of our ability to listen to ourselves, listening to others, analyzing that data, looping it back into the ongoing conversation of a lifetime. For him, it is not the slant of the work that does this. It’s the quality. His is an apolitical ideal of the unique power of internal conversation with as diverse a reading life as is possible. . . . Read more. “The Philosophy of Expectations”
Recently watched two films by the French director, Cédric Klapisch. ‘L’Auberge Espagnole’ and ‘The Russian Dolls’, the latter being the sequel. They tell the story of a young writer, Xavier, his year in Barcelona, and subsequent relationships growing out of that year, primarily back in France. I enjoyed them both, but liked the first one better. Nothing deep, but an interesting salad of nationalities, quirks, and eccentricities, mixed together and presented with a touch of French seasoning that reminded me a lot of ‘Amelie’. Klapisch uses the camera well, uses modern techniques to splice and dice the story, shift perspectives, speed up and slow down time, distance, longing. . . . Read more. “Cédric Klapisch”
Selected aphorisms, from Signposts to Elsewhere:
Miracles are proud creatures; they will not reveal themselves to those who do not Believe.
If Love, as they say, is blind then, Lust must be deaf, dumb and blind.
Temptation: seeds we are forbidden to water, that are showered with rain.
In life, as in love, graceful leave-taking is the epitome of gratitude.
Myths are history, too; the history of the human imagination.
History does not repeat itself, human nature does.
Our wisdom always mocks us, since it knows more than we can.
The thoughts we choose to act upon define us to others, the ones we do not define us to ourselves. . . . Read more. “Yahia Lababidi: Aphorisms”
After the rain has ceased,
the timber boards and stools are back
right away in the middle of the farmyard.
Kittens and chickens play tag
among the legs of the regulars.
Careful hands relay tablecloths and tableware,
there it is again—my dear bottle of fizzy lambrusco!
Then just-toasted polenta e ciccioli turns up,
straight from the plate of the wood stove.
The sky opens,
discloses the plain beauty of the Lombard campagna.
Boscage and lea are slowly unmisted in the distance,
toward the laggard sunset.
The air is just bracing,
not bleak or ungentle.
It so happens at times the only difference
between the half-full and half-empty glass
is a radiant but guarded smile behind it,
traced around fleshy lips and red cheeks,
seeming to whisper bentornato! . . . Read more. “Alessio Zanelli: Two Poems”
We have some new poetry, this time from Sheema Kalbasi, an excellent poet I had the pleasure to meet last year at a book festival. There is something unique, exquisite and dreamy in her work, something that informs and amplifies the images of war and peace, tragedy and freedom, family, love and laughter she depicts. She is intrepid.
Have added yet more new poetry and some aphorisms to the Spinozablue mix. An Italian poet and an Egyptian-American aphorist, both of whom bring something truly out of the ordinary to these pages. Alessio Zanelli and Yahia Lababidi are young poets, already with an international following and deserve wider recognition.
I wear your perfume on my skin
Don’t be unkind
Like wild flowers shy under the sun
Don’t seek the truth,
I tell you none exists
Everything has an expiration date
Love, life, identity, even abnormality.
We are travelers,
Some of us just leave the suitcase at home
So that our hands won’t suffer the weight of our guilt.
Children are playing next to the ocean coast
and sand castles are built with their digging
hands symphonized with their joyous laughter.
Near the beach, sea rocks are thirsty to move
from sitting next to the New England attic rooms.
The air is cooling down and the little kids
are now nesting on the rocks, trying to get away
from the cool summer breeze, chilled afternoon winds
and the dancing waves. . . . Read more. “Two Poems by Sheema Kalbasi”
In honor of Saint Patty’s Day, I thought it a good thing to watch “Once”, once again. Its simple beauty held up, the emotional power remained, and I came away from it with more joy in me heart than I had before rewatching it. It’s just quite nearly a perfect film. No pretense. No artifice. Just golden, raw, innocent emotion, but never naive. True. The movie rings true, like guitars around a campfire. Like guitars in the streets of Dublin. And those streets came back to me and took me back to my trip there in 2003. A trip I can’t and won’t ever forget, for the depth of love I felt for my ancestral home, for the sights and sounds along the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands, the castles, the mountains, the sea. . . . Read more. “Tabhair ‘om póg, is Éireannach mé”
We have a new essay/journal entry by acclaimed author, Christopher Bram, who I’m proud to say is a part of mi familia. Cousin Chris takes a close look at Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s wonderful novel from 1985.
Christopher Bram is the author of Father of Frankenstein (along with eight other novels), which was made into the Oscar-winning movie, Gods and Monsters.
*For those of you who have not yet read Love in the Time of Cholera, Chris’s review includes spoilers.