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Month: April 2008

Seven Valleys of Love

Seven Valleys of Love

 

Two poems from Sheema Kalbasi’s new bilingual anthology of Persian poetry:

Seven Valleys of Love: Translated by Sheema Kalbasi
Seven Valleys of Love: Translated by Sheema Kalbasi

 

WITH YOU

 

 

Your tender revolt
Contained by the illicit apple
Pounds in red
And your eyes’ shattered diamond
A woman in seclusion
Revolves into a star
With you
On the surface of water
I am thirsty
Place the skies in your eyes
Blaze out the star
So that I can see you
The sea is peaceful
Silent…

–Mehri Rahmani

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone

 

Watched the DVD last night. Very strong film, with a few flaws here and there. Ben Affleck does a nice job of directing his brother, keeping the film gritty and realistic and tied to Boston–to the people, culture and toughness of Dorchester specifically.

 

Gone Baby Gone Poster

 

It’s a mystery/crime story about a kidnapping. A four-year-old girl is abducted and we quickly find out by whom. Or so we think. Casey Affleck plays a private detective, Patrick Kenzie, who is brought into the case with his girlfriend, Angie Gennaro, played by Michelle Monaghan. They try to assist the police, utilizing their first hand knowledge of the area and its residents, but this is not the sort of case they’re used to. Things quickly spiral out of control, and the little girl is given up for dead. But that’s not the end of the story or the search. It’s also the beginning of the real moral, ethical and philosophical heart of the … Click to continue . . .

The Parable of the Blind

The Parable of the Blind

One of my favorite books from the 1980s is Gert Hofmann’s The Parable of the Blind (1985). It’s an extraordinary novel, told from the point of view of six blind men in search of the painter, Pieter Bruegel the Elder.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Parable of the Blind. 1568. Oil on canvas. Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy
Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The Parable of the Blind. 1568. Oil on canvas. Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy

 Hofmann sets obstacles and limits for himself and overcomes them, and I know of no other novel that tests the limits of language and the visual like this one. He limits the number of senses he can utilize to tell the tale . . . We can not see beyond the world of the six blind men. We can not see outside of their world of alternative vision. There is no “normal” description of surroundings and actions in this novel. Sound is heightened. Doubt is more frequent. But the concise, confident prose carries us with the blind on their journey of Click to continue . . .

The Ojibwe Language: Poetry Built In.

The Ojibwe Language: Poetry Built In.

Caught part of a very interesting radio interview today on NPR’s Fresh Air. Two brothers, David and Anton Treuer, fighting to protect and preserve the Ojibwe language. It was clear from their discussion that this Native American tongue is rich in metaphoric, poetic and symbolic resources. The multiplicity of words for key actions exist along side of the knowledge of the roots of those words. The brothers talk about the path we can follow back to the roots without needing to go to other language sources. And they discuss the precision needed when talking about things like water, weather, and natural phenomenon. Hunting and gathering activities have their own special set of words and images. And new words can be formed easily, because the roots are known. Combinations make sense, built upon the past.

English was formed from many different sources, nations, combinations, and that is a strength as well as a weakness. We do not really live inside the Click to continue . . .

Robert Mueller: Bubble or Tripod Which

Robert Mueller: Bubble or Tripod Which

 

Birds like maxims brightly devour
what is begotten born and dies.
Senators especially are
screwed into nose rings
and hunt catastrophic wisdom
to pass to be perch-brass.
Plucked anvils in shape of angels
climb down tether but butter
is in a hurry to melt.
The parenting beseems a fine
line for gentle loops in monastery
those kind thoughts of devotion.
Beeswax balls now lunge now
become centrally located.
Sexual urges flip their coin.
Time terplexed is knock
to new matter paisley wood.

 

 

Confucian?
Calmly on a later Sunday, March 23, 2008

 

 

–Robert Mueller

 
_____________________________

Robert Mueller is a Midwesterner transplanted to points East and has enjoyed, in a manner of speaking, his residence of more than 20 years in New York City. He has contributed poems to First Intensity and American Letters & Commentary, and to other upstanding publications, and his poetry may be viewed online in forthcoming editions of Moria and SugarMule.com. He has Click to continue . . .

Kim Ki-Duk

Kim Ki-Duk

For those of you in the New York area, or traveling there soon, I suggest a side trip to the Museum of Modern Art. For many reasons, of course. One big reason this Spring is the retrospective for one of Korea’s greatest directors, Kim Ki-Duk. It runs from April 23rd thru May 8th.

Have watched three of his films and was truly impressed. Samaritan Girl (2004), 3-Iron (2004), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring (2003). Especially liked the last mentioned, with its deceptive simplicity of mood, scene and emotion, all masking a profound analysis of the wheel of life and our connections to inner and outer worlds.

The word visionary is often overused. But when applied to Kim Ki-Duk, it just fits. He uses the multiple sensory aspects of cinema to their fullest, with word, sound, and landscape adding up to create a place apart. One key for me, when it comes to judging a film’s success and beyond, … Click to continue . . .

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Watched the Sean Penn film last night, and thought it deeply moving, well-made, and thought-provoking. Based on a true story, the movie follows Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book closely. Penn chronicles the wanderings of Christopher McCandless across America, provides essential background through flashbacks and voice-overs, and takes us all the way to the terminus of Alaska in 1992. It’s a very strong film, one that deserves a wider audience.

Wrangell mountains, Alaska
Wrangell mountains, Alaska

The performances by the chief actors are excellent, especially Emile Hirsch as Christopher, and Catherine Keener as Jan Burres, a friend he makes along the way. I also liked Kristen Stewart (in an all too brief role) as Tracy Tatro, a girl with an enormous crush on Chris, whom he meets through Jan and her husband, Rainey.

Back to the book for a moment:

Interesting parallels exist between Krakauer and McCandless, which must have made the writing more difficult, personal, perhaps even cathartic . . . (Parallels exist between … Click to continue . . .

The Girl With the Pearl Earring

The Girl With the Pearl Earring

Jan Vermeer’s painting from 1665 is remarkable for what it says and doesn’t say.

 

The Girl With the Pearl Earring, by Jan Vermeer. 1665
The Girl With the Pearl Earring, by Jan Vermeer. 1665

  I studied it in school many years ago, and have always loved it, but now see it differently, with a back story and another face there. A merger, a gap, a crossing. Scarlett Johansson stares back at me now. She didn’t then. I saw something else. I saw beautiful, lush brush strokes, vibrant, heated colors, and a woman who was bemused, experienced, perhaps even a touch annoyed that her life had been interrupted for a moment or two. An annoyance at first that quickly changed into remembrance, tolerance, and subdued, quiescent, internal laughter.

Scarlett’s girl, on the other hand, is different. She is not experienced. She is truly innocent, but bursting with something she doesn’t yet see. Something that is so deep and personal and real and organic, she has no idea she possesses an … Click to continue . . .