Archive for April, 2013

Lumea pe care o descrie Fahri Balliu in Panteonul negru (editura VREMEA, 2009, traducerea lui Mircea Dobrescu) este bine cunoscuta celor care au trait perioada comunista in Romania, sau macar au citit carti precum Lumea secreta a nomenclaturii a lui Vladimir Tismaneanu despre care am scris aici acum cateva luni. De fapt dupa anii 70 Albania ramasese (poate) singurul loc in Europa Rasariteana care era inca fidel doctrinelor staliniste in starea lor cea mai pura, si isi disputa cu Romania dubioasele titluri de cea mai izolata, cea mai paupera,  cea mai indoctrinata tara a ‘lagarului’. Cei care au trait epoca isi amintesc cum ziarele (toate inregimentate) ale epocii pastrau cu grija ordinea enumerarii numelor membrilor Biroului Politic, si o schimbare a acestei ordini, sau o disparitie a unor nume era uneori semnul prevestitor, sau chiar singurul semn al luptelor interne de la varfurile nomenclaturii, al epurarilor urmate uneori de procese publice si de disparitia fizica a celor cazuti in dizgratie. In Albania descrisa de Balliu aceste tehnici sunt aduse la un stadiu si mai avansat de rafinament, Conducatorii ajung sa fie pur si simplu desemnati prin numere scrise cu litere majuscule. Cand eroina cartii, Kalina cea frumoasa dar nascuta intr-o familie simpla se marita cu una dintre odraslele nomenclaturii, schimbarea de statut nu inseamna numai mutarea in Bllok (echivalentul albanez al Cartierului Primaverii), accesul la vilele partidului, la mancare din belsug, ba chiar si la calatorii in strainatate, ci si accesul in lumea numerelor:

‘Intrase in lumea cifrelor. Se casatorise cu fiul lui Cinci, care avea si un alt numar inregistrat la politie, numarul masinii, saizecisipatru. Si iata ca astfel Kalina si-a pierdut calitatea de individ; ea era nora lui Cinci si a lui Saizecisipatru.’ (pag. 14)

Ceva mai taziu unul dintre conducatori ii va explica tinerei devenita datorita frumusetii ei un fel de trofeu disputat de nomenclaturisti si de copii lor mai multe despre mecanismele din spatele numerelor:

‘La noi nimeni nu e invincibil. Numerele astea pe care le stim noi sunt pentru public; unu, doi, trei, patru si asa mai departe. Ele au o valoare doar printre noi, pentru ca Unu are pentru ei o alta ierarhie. El poate daca vrea sa le si schimbe intre ele si, in plus, unul dintre ei sa stie ca e Patru dar in realitate sa fie Sapte.’ (pag. 135-136)

 

sursa ro.serialreaders.com

sursa ro.serialreaders.com

 

Jocul aparentelor la curtea lui Unu (dictatorul Enver Hoxha) precum cea din Birourile Politice ale lui Stalin sau Ceausescu ascunde o permanente frica, folosirea continua a limbajului de lemn, coruptia si decaderea morala. Pana si relatiile de familie cad victima intereselor ‘cauzei’ si permanentei frici de a nu fi considerat ‘deviant’ de cel care se afla in varful piramidei. Cinci, socrul Kalinei isi dezvaluie in mod brutal fanatismul intr-un moment de cumpana al actiunii:

-Si apoi, cine esti tu? Cine este barbatul tau si fiul meu in fata a ceea ce reprezint eu, a misiunii mele? Amandoi sunteti pretul pe care-l platesc eu pentru triumful ideilor comuniste. Cine sunteti voi si eu impreuna cu voi, in fata oranduirii eroice construite prin jertfa a milioane de oameni? Tu nu poti pricepe ca eu, chiar condamnat pe nedrept de partid, accept, da, accept, pentru ca asta este un fel de jertfa pe care o datorez partidului, si voi iesi in fata oricarui tribunal, oricarui acuzator, sa spun: daca partidul ma vrea erou sunt erou. Daca ma vrea dusman, accept si asta!’ (pag. 158)

Daca pare patetic sau absurd sau chiar eroic, aceasta frazeologie trebuie pusa in contextul situatiei Albaniei sub Hoxha asa cum este ea descrisa in restul cartii – marea majoritate a poporului traieste in saracie lucie, demagogia si propaganda ascund foametea si accidentele de munca, Securitatea este omniprezenta reprimand orice miscare de protest, orice tendinta de a trai o viata normala in afara controlului aparatului, pana si traditiile cele mai simple sau cantecele de dragoste sunt considerate acte dusmanoase.

In acest context isi traieste destinul dramatic eroina cartii. Ravnita si disputata pentru frumusetea ei, se simte instrainata in acest mediu inchis si ipocrit, dar nici nu poate sau nu vrea sa renunte la avantajele materiale. Cand iubitul ei dinainte de casatorie, un cantaret cu faima, este arestat sub acuzatii absurde (in parte cauzate de relatia cu ea) incercarea ei de a interveni in favoarea lui o face subiectul santajelor si victima abuzurilor celor din varful nomenclaturii. Experienta traumatizanta a violului este un moment de soc dar si de transformare. De aici incolo Kalina se hotaraste sa devina o parte din mecanism, foloseste incidentul pentru a ajunge la varful piramidei si a se razbuna pe cei care o facusera sa sufere. Pretul platit insa este pierderea legaturii cu viata adevarata, cu iubirea, cu prietena cea mai buna.

 

sursa arkivi.peshkupauje.com

sursa arkivi.peshkupauje.com

 

Tematica interesanta a cartii nu este din pacate dublata si de o scriere suficient de cursiva, de constructia rabdatoare a personajelor, de evolutia gradata a caracterelor acestora. Ca roman documentar si ca marturie epica a lumii absurde si corupte a nomenclaturii comuniste ‘Panteonul negru’ are destule momente interesante. Eroina principala este un personaj feminin fascinant, care ramane in memorie. Tocmai destinul ei este insa descris cu unelte scriitoricesti rudimentare, povestea de dragoste si de tradare, intrigile si dilemele Kalinei sunt relatate schematic, cu o scriere grabita si uneori chiar neglijenta. ‘Panteonul negru’ este o drama a secolului 20 scrisa cu uneltele telenovelei secolului 21. Unul dintre acele cazuri in care descrierea fundalului este mai reusita decat insasi intriga principala a cartii.

 

 

 

 

This posting comes instead of two reviews I would usually write about two performances I saw a week one from the other in Tel Aviv. One is a theater play ‘Az BePrag’ (‘Then in Prague’) by Hilel Mitelpunkt at the Beit Lessin. The second is Verdi’s ‘Otello’ on the stage of the New Israeli Opera. Hilel Mittelpunkt’s well written play is an intrigue of love, friendship, treason and deception set in the year of Israel’s independence and the two following decades. It even has a small dose of a spy story, added atop of the post-Holocaust drama lived by all principal characters. Otello‘s production is quite typical for what the Israeli opera offered most of the time in the last few seasons – a sumptuous staging taken over from an European Opera house, interesting sets, beautiful costumes, but mediocre musical interpretation with one soloist exception or maybe two, with the orchestra playing too loud and the singers not being hear loud enough, but this is probably a chronic problem of acoustics in this opera hall we need to learn to live with.

 

source http://www.haaretz.co.il/gallery/lastnight/1.1973494

source http://www.haaretz.co.il/gallery/lastnight/1.1973494

 

None of the two is really bad. Actually both of them are average (the opera) and even average plus (the play). And this is actually what is worrisome for me, and led me to put on the blog these thoughts. Because during both representations I felt too many times bored, and at the end I came to question my renewing of the respective subscriptions for the next season (well, it’s too late for the Opera, but not for Beit Lessin).

The problem is in my view first of all in the selection of the repertoire. Beit Lessin (as all other mainstream theaters) have a standard repertoire which balances Israeli original plays who look so much one as the other and all like the TV dramas we can see for free on TV, imports from Broadway or East End, Greek tragedies, Shakespeare and Chekhov, and a few adaptation to stage of classical European Jewish literary works. If you add the musicals you get how 90% of the repertoire of any mainstream theater in Israel looks like.

Now let us take the opera program. All performances I have seen this season were operas that I had seen at least once in the past of the stage of the New Israeli Opera. All were 19th century composers works with one exception which was early 20th century. All stagings were imported from European opera houses, and the majority of the singers in the main roles were 2nd hand singers from the international circuits.

Are there alternatives? Of course there are! The Israeli selection of plays can be much more daring, challenging the consensus, as the Israeli theater did in the past but seems to have given up doing nowadays. The contemporary international repertoire can be much more diverse, Broadway needs not be the only place where Israeli theaters look for inspiration, the international non-English or French repertoire should be also researched. There is much more interesting theater going on off-Broadway nowadays, or on the European scenes, or in the festivals. Even on the Israeli non-mainstream stages.

The Israeli spectators can watch almost daily operas on Mezzo TV and see what the big opera houses are bringing on stage nowadays – from Baroque operas to the late 20th century and even contemporary composers. What about the Israeli works? One original opera every five years is a lamentable average. Dare I say what about Wagner? I understand that the NIO cannot afford paying big opera stars for every performance, but don’t we really deserve to see and listen at least once a season to Anna Netrebko or Angela Gheorghiu or their likes? The rest of the time I would suggest that they rather give the opportunity to the young Israeli singers to sing the lead roles and not to the 2nd hand international singers who are brought here all the time.

 

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/?CategoryID=502&ArticleID=1555

source http://www.israel-opera.co.il/Eng/?CategoryID=502&ArticleID=1555

 

Certainly, there is a reason for the lack of vision and the fear of daring of the leadership of the two theaters. The subsidies from the state were seriously cut, and the theaters and the opera are on their own, or depending on sponsors. The halls fill only if you answer the public requests. But is the public really that conservative? Nobody can say in the absence of alternate programing. Experience from other places in the world shows that building a more diversified set of options in the repertory not only prepares the future but also can succeed commercially. It also offers more and different experiences to the actors, the singers, the stage directors, the musicians including the young ones. Stagnation will eventually lead to the mainstream theaters being deserted by knowledgeable audiences, in favor of new options who will surge from the peripheries, in the spirit of free enterprise and creation, or in favor of other forms of recreation and spending of the free time. I am one of those who have prepared their suitcases and I am looking for alternate sources.

I need to thank Mark Zuckerberg for my first encounters with Dina Bova. Via his wonderful and awful (whatever meaning you chose) Facebook I met a young Israeli artist who uses this social media in order to make known to the world her vision, her works and her achievements. She also allows us to follow her on the exhibitions road. I missed her previous exhibition in Israel at the Museum of Photography in Tel Hai, her next major appearance was in her native Moscow – a place that is still an un-reached dream for me, but this week she opened what I would call a significant exhibition just in my backyard, at the Weill Culture Center in Kfar-Shmaryahu. I visited the exhibition yesterday and I was impressed. Simply said – I am following as time allows all important exhibitions in the Israeli museums and galleries, and this is one of the best I have seen in the recent years.

 

DSC07526

 

Dina Bova is a 21st century surrealist, who lives in Israel, and uses digital photography as her principal mean of expression. If the combination seems a little bit … surrealist, we need to trace back this artistic current to the roots in the years 20 of the last century to find that no means of expression were excluded and the toolset  of the Surrealists did comprise still photography and moving images (cinema) supplementary to the better known painting and poetry genres. Dina’s vision expands on the experience of the hiper-realists, as she uses photography (the art of catching the moment) in order to express the atemporal – allegories and dreams.  One can feel in her works the melting pot of cultural and life experiences she was exposed to (she came to Israel at the age of 13) – the light and the landscape of Israel, the shades and deepness of the emotions of Russia. These are however only background elements, the strongest impression is made by her capacity of transforming imagination and concepts into striking and memorable visual experiences, her pleasure into playing with models and elements of scenery, and combining them into something new and different.

 

source http://www.bsw-art.com/journal/exhibition-truthful-fiction-dina-bova-50

source http://www.bsw-art.com/journal/exhibition-truthful-fiction-dina-bova-50

 

The name of the exhibition is ‘Truthful Fiction’ - gathering the best of her works in the last few years. In the best surrealist tradition the borders between reality and fiction, between truth and dream are blurred. The self portrait used for the poster of the exhibition is named ‘Break Through’ with no dash between the two words. A mirror, reflection of reality, is broken and its pieces used to create a different reality, the one of the artist.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

Dina Bova does not seem to run away from controversy, from the need to shock and ask questions, even in her portraits.’The Man Who Laughs’  is far away from happily laughing.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

Sometimes her characters are ‘Lost’ in a landscape that offers no means of orientation, or worse – false signs and symbols of direction or logic. Did you ever dream that you cannot find your way? that the doors you open go to nowhere?

 

source

source http://www.dinabova.com

 

Super-chef Israel Aharoni is the model for ‘Imaginarium’ and a few more works. I liked here the winter fantasy landscape, the magician seems to descend from the world of the circus I loved during my childhood, despite the rather desolated and frozen landscape his presence is re-assuring, there may be somebody in this strange universe who can control it.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

The pleasure of playing infiltrates also the Biblical allegory of ‘Quo Vadis’ – a work built starting from a statue, quite different from most of the other where the concept is driving the image. 

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

There is no playfulness or joy in ‘Memory of the Future’, another Biblical allegory, a somber Madonna with tears of blood, projected on another desolated landscape. And yet, there is love in her attitude.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

‘Quaere Veritatem’ projects the Bibical theme in a satirical register. It is actually a DVD cover for the excellent rock band Orphaned Land – part of the cycle Mythology of ‘Orphaned Land’.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

In the cycle of the allegories ‘Allegory of Cognition’ is one of the most visually striking works, and one of these that connect strongly with the ‘classical’ surrealist art style in painting.

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

I especially liked ‘Allegory of Hope’. My reading of the work is that achieving hope requires the strength and the will of fighting for it. The dark stormy skies can be vanquished by rainbow and the colored balloons, but this asks for the power of closing the eyes and living the dream.

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

‘Fears and Hopes’ connects past and future through the figure of the fragile pregnant woman. The staging of the work (not only of this one actually) reminded me Tarkovsky’s Stalker (the ultimate surrealist film in the Russian cinema?)

 

source http://www.dinabova.com/

source http://www.dinabova.com/

 

Last in my personal selection for this review is ‘Center of the Universe’. It’s a much more optimistic work, to some extend the continuation of the work above and of a few other with the pregnant woman in the center. The Child is born, and as so many of us know from our personal experiences, she or he becomes the Center of the Universe, the dance and celebration and joy around will eventually win over the stormy skies. It is the work that welcomes the visitor when entering the exhibition, and the last one he sees when departing it.

 

DSC07517

 

I have selected to write only about a few of the works in the exhibition. There are many more, and each deserves being viewed at its real dimension and asks for contemplation and thinking. Dina Bova is one of the best artists I have met lately on the Israeli art scene. I have maybe one regret and this is that this beautiful exhibition is not hosted by one of the central galleries in Tel Aviv, but I am sure that this will happen sooner than later. By the way, Kfar Shmaryahu is only 15 minutes away from Tel Aviv, the space in the Weil Center and the conditions of exhibiting are generous, and there is plenty of parking around. So – do not miss this exhibition!

The artist’s Web site is http://www.dinabova.com/. Her Facebook page is www.facebook.com/DinaBovaArt.

I keep wondering what a burden and a responsibility is for an artist to carry the name of a famous father. It’s a great responsibility, it also may be a heavy burden, as people looking or listening to his art (and it does not matter that much if it is music, or painting, or other forms of art expression) cannot and will not avoid making comparisons. Ravi Coltrane was only 2 years old when his famous father died and being the son of one of the most famous saxophonists and composers in the history of jazz must have been a mixed blessing – opening him doors and ears, but also calling for the permanent comparison, especially as Ravi chose the same instrument as a way of expression. While he refused for a long time to embrace the repertoire of his father, he does not seem to have escaped his musical influence. Now, when he crossed the line of the number of years lived by his father and is an accomplished and recognized name of his own, he can trace back his artistic influences to a number of musicians at their peak between the 50s and the 70s, names like Miles Davis, Bill Evans, and yes - John Coltrane.

 

photo-8

 

It’s the third time that Ravi Coltrane comes to Tel Aviv, it is the first time I had the opportunity of seeing and listening to him live. He is one of these musicians who does not try to dominate the stage. The whole set was composed out of five or six pieces, around twenty minutes each, leaving time for all the members of the quintet to bring in their talent and to develop their own versions of the theme in a free manner. Ravi even leaves the stage most of the time when he does not play trying to enhance the vision of a performance as a team work. In this Ravi Coltrane Quintet the emphasis is not on Ravi Coltrane but on the Quintet, a fine gathering of free-style post-bop musicians.

 

(video source Zycopolis)

 

To understand Ravi Coltrane’s music I am bringing here one of the pieces that I found on youTube with Ravi playing with McCoy Tyner. The great pianist who is now 85 and still active (I saw him in Israel last year) was a member in John Coltrane’s most famous band in the 60s. Kind of a living link connecting the two Coltrane generations.

 

(video source music1900jbp)

 

The other exquisite artist in his band is trumpeter Ralph Alessi, who also composed some of the pieces on their most recent album Spirit Fiction, including the piece above, which was also played Tuesday in Tel Aviv, at the Zappa Club.

 

(video source Gadi Lehavi Videos)

 

For the last piece, Ravi invited on stage the young pianist Gadi Lehavi, who who will be 17 next week. He played on stage with Ravi  – what a great opportunity for this young artist, who is already active for three years on the Israeli and world jazz stage. It’s actually not their first encounter, Ravi discovered Gadi a few years ago, they already played together in New York at the Village Vanguard and Birdland jazz clubs. Gadi also played already with a number of other well known contemporary artist, among which Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin.

Il cunosteam pe Laszlo Alexandru din referinte internetice si mai ales ca redactor al Web site-ului (numit si revista electronica, termen fata de care am o oarecare retinere) ‘E-Leonardo’ a carui aparitie din pacate s-a hotarit sa o intrerupa in 2012 dupa 18 numere. I-am remarcat si am admirat pozitiile consecvente impotriva tendintelor totalitare de stanga sau de dreapta din cultura romana, atitudinea ferma impotriva renasterii nationalimului si antisemitismului si fata de negationismul si negationistii Holocaustului, critica ferma impotriva promotorilor de rau si de confuzie indiferent cine erau ei. Cu aceste premize volumul ‘Muzeul figurilor de ceara’ aparut in 2009 la Editura PARALELA 45 si subintitulat ‘polemici’ nu avea cum sa ma surprinda. Este o culegere de articole si comunicari ale autorului clujean publicate intre anii 2005 si 2007, instantanee ale unui moment cultural si politic romanesc ramase actuale aproape in totalitatea lor. De la data publicarii, cate unul dintre autorii mentionati in carte a mai scris cate ceva mai mult sau mai putin semnificativ, cativa au plecat intr-o lume mai buna, dar pozitiile, caracterele, personajele acestei Corabii a nebunilor (folosesc ca pretext ilustratia copertei) nu s-au schimbat de cand Laszlo Alexandru a scris cartea si Explicatiile preliminare care o deschid:

‘Chiar n-am invatat nimic din erorile trecutului? Fascismul si comunismul n-au provocat, oare, suficiente victime pentru a-si fi pierdut iremediabil farmecul demagogic? Cite vieti ar trebui inca sacrificate, pentru ca scriitorii sa nu se inchine mai departe la aceiasi idoli de lut?’ (pag. 7)

Cartea este impartita in trei sectiuni si un epilog. Primul articol in prima parte fixeaxa contextul uneia dintre temele principale ale cartii – recrudescenta antisemitismului – prin cautarea bazelor istorice ale fenomenului in istoria culturala si politica romaneasca. Pentru cititorii cartii lui Andrei Oisteanu ‘Imaginea evreului in cultura romana’ prezenta numelor si citatelor virulent antisemite din scrisele sau cuvantarile unor Cezar Bolliac, Vasile Alecsandri, Ioan Slavici sau Nicolae Iorga nu sunt noutati, dar pentru majoritatea celorlalti aceasta ilustra galerie din care lipseste doar (de ce oare?) Mihai Eminescu poate fi un soc. Inca un articol cu tema istorica este dedicat destinului tragic al lingvistului roman de origine evreiasca Lazar Saineanu, ale carui incercari de a depasi barierele persecutiilor rasiale si de a capata recunoasterea forurilor academice si cetatenia romana s-au dovedit a fi vane si l-au determinat in cele din urma sa aleaga calea exilului.

‘Pasi de rac’ (numele primei sectiuni a cartii) continua cu articole care cu o singura exceptie (cel dedicat scriitorului maghiar Kertesz Imre) se ocupa de renasterea totalitarismului mai ales sub forma sa ideologica in cultura romaneasca de la inceput de mileniu trei. Laszlo Alexandru abordeaza fara ezitare cu un ton critic figurile unor idoli ai intelectualitatii romanesti de astazi cum este Constantin Noica despre care scrie ca ‘Etapele lui biografice mai importante au fost marcate de compromis, ambiguitate, sau tradare.’ (pag. 34). Daca despre inrolarea sa intre propagandistii legionarismului in tinerete stiam deja, nu imi erau cunoscute nici lasitatea sa la procesul in care au fost implicati si condamnati multi dintre discipolii sai, si nici inrolarea sa in serviciul propagandei ceausiste in cercurile imigratiei la numai cativa ani dupa eliberarea din inchisoare. Polemica cu Sorin Lavric, autorul unei carti despre relatia lui Noica cu miscarea legionara, care incearca sa minimizeze erorile filosofului si sa musamalizeze atitudinile sale de compromis ni-l releva pe Laszlo Alexandru ca pe un polemist care nu numai ca nu ezita sa atace ci stie sa si raspunda in mod precis si ascutit.

 

sursa http://193.226.7.140/~laszlo/VolumeScrise_ro.htm

sursa http://193.226.7.140/~laszlo/VolumeScrise_ro.htm

 

Incercarea de reabilitare a lui Vintila Horia (scriitor exilat care nu a primit in 1960 premiul Goncourt dupa ce fusese dezvaluit trecutul sau legionar) primeste si ea riposta argumentata cu documente si citate a lui Laszlo Alexandru:

‘… victima inocenta a carei reabilitare e clamata astazi pe zeci de voci cacofonice, a fost in tinerete unul dintre cei mai desantati si nerusinati propagandisti ai fascismului si hitlerismului.’ (pag. 58)

Interesanta si semnificativa comparatia in eternitate a modului in care destinele lui Mircea Eliade si Mihail Sebastian sunt perpetuate in posteritatea romaneasca:

‘Coincidenta calendarului face ca anul 2007 sa marcheze centenarul nasterii, atit pentru Mircea Eliade, cit si pentru Mihail Sebastian. Dar ce diferenta de tratament! Autorul lui Maitrey e imbratisat protector de institutiile statului, care organizeaza colocvii, simpozioane si conferinte omagiale, in tara si peste hotare, opera lui e studiata in scoli, numele lui il poarta liceele oraselor si strazile catunelor. De autorul Accidentului isi amintesc doar suplimentul publicatiei Realitatea evreiasca si doua-trei initiative spontane. Ignoranta si ingratitudinea joaca hora unirii in ograda literaturii romane.’ (pag. 63)

O relatie speciala il leaga pe Laszlo Alexandru de Paul Goma, pe care il cunoaste mai mult decat bine:

‘M-am numarat si eu, in anii ’90, printre admiratorii nonconformismului revolutionar al lui Paul Goma. L-am sustinut cu scrierile sale polemice. I-am ingrijit editarea Scrisorilor intredeschise (1995). I-am prefatat primul volum din Jurnal (1997). I-am lansat public vreo doua carti (1997). Am avut cu el o intensa corespondenta timp de aproape un deceniu. Dupa 1999, insa, am inregistrat cu o stupoare crescanda convertirea sa la antisemitism, intoleranta si extremism.’ (pag. 77)

Sectiunea a doua a cartii ‘In constiinta noastra’ include un numar de comunicari prezentate de Laszlo Alexandru la diferite evenimente intre care cele ale Institutului Wiesel. Desi unele contin elemente suplimentare (cum ar fi dezvaluirea rolului lui Constantin Noica in pregatirea ideologica a asasinarii lui Nicolae Iorga care astazi s-ar numi ‘incitare la crima’, sau critica ‘brandului Eliade’ promovat de functionarii culturali ai Romaniei in strainatate) personal m-au deranjat paginile de repetitii, cateva dintre articolele despre Noica, Vintila Horia, Eliade fiind dezvoltari ale celor din prima sectiune. Desi scrise si facute public in momente de timp diferite, cred ca editorul si autorul ar fi trebuit sa evite aceste dubluri care inmultesc in mod nejustificat numarul de pagini ale volumului.

 

sursa commons.wikimedia.org

 

A treia sectiune are un nume spectaculos ‘Asa s-a calit otetul’ si debuteaza cu cel mai bun articol dupa opinia mea, care sub titlul de-a dreptul genial ‘Gilceava la catafalcul comunismului’ relateaza in stilul Telegramelor caragialesti evenimentele din timpul si din jurul citirii Raportului Tismaneanu in Parlamentul Romaniei in decembrie 2006. Mai putin convingatoare mi s-au parut criticile indreptate impotriva lui Eugen Simion, de exemplu pacatul de a-l absolvi (la nivelul analizei scrierilor) pe Mihail Sadoveanu mi se pare cam minor pentru a justifica analogiile cu Hitler si Ceausescu, iar epitetele cu ton de pamflet (‘nemuritorul de serviciu‘, ‘coaforul de la Academie’) nu adauga nimic argumentatiei.

Articolul cel mai bun al acestei sectiuni este dupa parerea mea ‘Zece sofisme’ care abordeaza in cel mai bun stil polemic marca Laszlo Alexandru reactia Uniunii Scriitorilor si a celui care se afla in fruntea sa (Nicolae Manolescu) la decizia CNSAS de a deschide si cerceta dosarele membrilor Uniunii. Comunicatul redactat in termeni eufeminati si musamalizatori este demontat si analizat fraza cu fraza, idee cu idee. Cu atat mai remarcabila este atitudinea lui Alexandru daca tinem cont ca Nicolae Manolescu este o persoana si o personalitate pe care el o apreciase in trecut pentru contributiile sale pozitive, si a carui opera critica a constituit subiectul lucrarii sale de doctorat. Si aici Laszlo Alexandru pare sa isi confirme statutul de polemist singuratic, refuzul compromisurilor, inchinarii la idoli sau asocierii oportuniste cu vreo partida culturala sau politica.

Nu scapa de critica lui Alexandru nici Horia-Roman Patapievici, caruia ii reproseaza o schimbare de ton si atitudine de la refuzul alinierii la sistem si apararea dreptului la diferenta in anii 90 pana la compromisul centrist in jurul conceptului consevator crestin cu un deceniu mai tarziu, in cazul icoanelor impuse pe peretii scolilor romanesti: ‘… nu situatia solitarului laic, agresat de cutumele majoritatii, il ingrijoreaza acum pe filosoful oficializat. Ci, dimpotriva, “fundamentalismul anticrestin, degizat in miltantism de drepturile omului”.’ (pag. 178).

Ultimele doua articole consistente ale acestei sectiuni ii iau in obiectiv pe Alex Stefanescu a carui ‘Istorie a literaturii romane contemporane’ este epitetata drept ‘hollywoodiana’ si pe Edgar Papu, a carui incercare de reabilitare printr-o carte de interviuri este demontata in mod necrutator. Concepte cum ar fi protocronismul inventat la indicatiile lui Ceausescu si propulsat literar si academic de Papu, sau ‘neimplicarea complice a literatilor in treburile cetatii (care) a primit numele de “rezistenta” prin cultura’ - fenomene culturale specifice epocii comunismului romanesc sunt analizate si criticate fara menajamente. Putini sunt de altfel intelectualii care primesc nota de trecere din partea lui Laszlo Alexandru pentru atitudinea lor in timpul dictaturii, poate doar Paul Goma, cel dinainte de alunecarea in antisemitism si Ioan D. Sirbu – scriitori ai caror opere semnificative nu au vazut insa lumina tiparului in Romania lui Ceausescu.

Spre sfarsitul lecturii acestei carti de polemici, in care aproape toate fenomenele si persoanele mentionate in culegerea de articole sunt prezentate in lumina critica, ma intrebam daca exista si un Laszlo Alexandru pozitiv, care poate scrie ceva de bine despre ceva sau cineva. Raspunsul a venit la lectura Epilogului, care in contrapunct cu intreaga carte ne prezinta o cu totul alta fata a autorului. Este o mica poveste de dragoste, dragoste pentru o carte (pe care si eu o iubesc), si merita intr-adevar sa cititi cartea pana la capat pastrand acest epilog pour la bonne bouche. 

For the Israel Independence Day this year I chose to present a cycle of works who have entered already the thesaurus of the Israeli and Zionist artistic mythology. Many of the visitors of the recent exhibition of the works of Salvador Dali in Haifa were surprised to see that one full wall was occupied by what seemed to be a real declaration of love for Israel and the Jewish people, while in the same room other paintings, statues, objects which looked very much like Judaica art completed the image.

 

alyah

 

There have been multiple discussions and interpretations concerning the history of this cycle of 25 prints published first in an edition of 250 copies in 1968. What was the real attitude of Salvador Dali towards the Jews, taking into account that contrary to many of his fellow artists in the surrealist generation he showed sympathy for Hitler and chose to stay and live in Franco’s Spain? Did he change his political views in time? Was he a descendant of the converted Jews keeping in secret his Jewish ascendance?  The answer is maybe simple, but we should avoid to make it simplistic. It’s a commissioned work, ordered and paid by the  Shorewood Publishing and Israel Bonds in 1968 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the State of Israel. And yet there is more than this, because the exploration of the Jewish theme seems to have extended in Dali’s work well beyond this commission. Yes, the market of the Judaica (Jewish traditional) art may have been a lucrative one among the prosperous collectors, many of Jewish origin. The works in this cycle and beyond have however feeling, sensitivity, and I may say a dose of respect which is somehow unexpected from the extravagant artist who did not hesitate to blow artistic and taste conventions.

Let us walk though a few of these works, and try to explain their meaning from the perspective of the Zionist angle. I have used some of the commentaries written by David Blumentahl at http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/Salvador%20Dali%20Aliyah.htm (You can see there also all the drawings in the cycle)

 

photo-6

 

A few of the first drawings in the cycle connect the reality of present Israel to the historical roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. One of these is ‘The Wailing Wall’ - the last reminiscent of the walls of the Second Temple, which is drawn by Dali from photos taken before the War of Independence (there is a large plaza today in front of the Wall, and men and women are not allowed to pray together, at least at this moment in time (there is a whole dispute regarding the enforcement of the Orthodox rules in this place raging today).

 

camps

 

‘Out of the Depth’ takes its title from a verse in the Psalms “Out of the depths have I called unto you, O Lord.” It’s the name of the cantata by Bach and the phrase was used by Martin Buber for a small book of Psalms translated into German and published in Nazi Germany in 1936. The horror of the Holocaust is in the Zionist narrative the very foundation and the ultimate justification of the existence of the national home of the Jewish people.

 

photo-4

 

‘On the Shores of Freedom’  shows one episode of the illegal immigration which in the years after the end of the second world war and the independence of Israel brought to Israel survivors of the Holocaust despite the blockade imposed by the British rulers over Palestine. The name of the ship can be clearly seen, it’s Elyahu Golomb which dates the episode described in the painting in the year 1946.

 

photo-3

 

‘A Moment in History’ processes a famous photograph in which David Ben-Gurion reads the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, on May 15, 1948. Ben-Gurion wears a tie, it is said it was the only time in his life when he wore such a garment. He also seems to have a Dali mustache?

 

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The exultation of the moment of the proclamation of the independence was immediately followed in the historical narrative by the fire of the War of Independence. This is the moment caught by Dali in ‘The Battle of the Jerusalem Hills’.

 

photo-7

 

Victory and celebration are represented by Hatikvah, a visual representation of the national anthem of Israel. The words were written by the Jewish-Polish poet Naphtali Herz Imber during his stay in the Romanian city of Iasi in 1877, and the music is a transcription by Samuel Cohen of a tune popular in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Cohen later recalled that he had heard first the tune in the Romanian variant – Carul cu boi [The Ox Driven Cart] (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatikvah). The same tune inspired the opening of the very popular symphonic poem Vltava by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana

 

photo-2

 

Commission or not, Salvador Dali created a series of work which are among the best in the Jewish and national Israeli imagery. I will let Blumenthal speak again (source http://forward.com/articles/136676/dali-and-the-jews/):

As for the “Aliyah” series, Blumenthal concludes simply that it was a professionally executed commission, pointing out that some of the greatest artworks in history have been as much — compositions by Mozart and Bach and, this writer would add, paintings by Rafael, Rembrandt and others. “Part of the responsibility of a scholar is to say that this stuff, even if it’s commissioned, is serious,” Blumenthal said. Indeed, when one lets the art of “Aliyah” speak for itself, its bold expressionism and moving imagery answer the question on their own.

Hag Atzmaut Sameah! Happy Independence Day! Happy Birthday, Israel!

 

Every age has it’s love films. A long time ago, during my late my teens I resonated together with the millions of young folks at my age in between the age of the hippies and the age of the yuppies to Erich Segal’s book Love Story and the film made by Arthur Hiller staring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neill. It was a sad story with two young people falling in love, getting married against the social conventions, then she falls sick, and she dies, nice music and a smart slogan that made my teen heart beat strongly (yes, I remember the girl I was with at that movie, where is she now?). Now I have seen Michael Haneke‘s Amour, probably the most awards-gatherer non-American movie of 2012, a superb film, and a very different love story. I resonated again, I was moved and even more than that, but if I am to chose which one of the two films I want to see again I will chose the older one. Actually, if I think well, Amour may be one of the rare films, maybe even the only one, I will give a grade of 10 at IMDB but I do not believe that I have the strength and in any case I do not have the will to see it again.

 

 

Michael Haneke is known for the  cold approach towards his stories and heroes, sometimes at the border of cruelty. He does not spare us the viewers in Amour either, telling us the story of an old and well established couple of musicians who are hit at the end of a life of love and shared experiences by the tragedy of the malady of the woman (Emmanuelle Riva) leading to the decay of her physical and mental health. No details are spared, and the painful and inevitable process made even more pressing by the fact that there is no improvement and no chance of recovery is described in quite a lot of rather explicit details. And yet, there is no overall sense of repulsion because all this process is dominated by the dedication of the husband, who dearly takes care of his wife although the woman she was mentally disappears with everyday that passes. Riva was a candidate for best actress at the Oscars (she did not win), but it’s Jean-Louis Trintignant‘s acting that impressed me most, because it’s not spectacular, but it conveys better than everything else in the film the message in the title. It takes a lot of courage for these two actors whose career was followed by the French and international audiences for almost half of century to face the camera in a film that deals with such bluntness with the theme of the disasters of aging. They took upon the challenge and the result is strong and moving.

 

(video source My Trailer is Rich)

 

The whole story takes place in the interior of a Parisian apartment, and it’s amazing to see how many interesting things can me made with the camera in these few rooms.  The fine acting however takes precedent and will hardly be forgotten by anybody who has seen this film. The relation between the aged couple, their shared experiences, their small conflicts, their tenderness are described in all their complexity, as well as the relation of the two with their daughter dominated not only by the gap between ages and generations, but also by the lack of power of the younger woman to help in face of the inevitable. There is one final decision, one final act of love to be made, we guess it from start, and when it comes nobody is surprised. A final scene shows the daughter entering the apartment now empty, which remained only an empty space gathering things reminding of the love that was. There is no happy end to this Love Story either.

Bellamy (or Inspector Bellamy) is the final film in the career that spreads over half a century of director Claude Chabrol, a career started within the cinematic revolution of the French Nouvelle Vague at the end of the 50s in which Chabrol was one of the most influential names. Many of Chabrol’s first films were set in the society of the young students or lower class people in the France of the end of the 50s and of the 60s, in time he had broadened his breadth and dealt with a wider social range. This last film of his is set in the bourgeois society of the French province and while from a thematic point of view we find the combination of detective story combined with the psychological analysis which eventually discovers the real being of the characters under their apparent skins, from a stylistic point of view it’s a very settled, almost static work.

 

source http://articlepremium.net/business/inspector-bellamy-2009-download-movie-brrip1080p-quality/

source http://articlepremium.net/business/inspector-bellamy-2009-download-movie-brrip1080p-quality/

 

Much of the film relies on the presence of Gerard Depardieu for whom the role of the police inspector who cannot escape undertaking an investigation in private cop mode while on vacation seems to have been written for. Strange as it may seem Chabrol and Depardieu work together in Bellamy for the first time. I can however imagine that the director let the actor all the freedom to build his character, a combination of Poirot and Maigret at huge physical proportions, with a tenderness for the loving wife acted by Marie Bunel in a manner that makes us fall in love with her and become jealous on Bellamy/Depardieu by the end of the film, and a complicated relationship with his step brother (solid acting by Clovis Cornillac). I mentioned Maigret, and maybe I should also remind here another famous detective,  Columbo, as their wives represent a mythical but background, in many cases unseen, presence in the respective films and books. In Bellamy, the inspector’s wife is a real presence, and the family story will play an important role and give to the action and story a dimension that competes and even exceeds the detective story itself.

 

(video source moviemaniacsDE)

 

I have watched many times the French critics becoming more enthusiastic about American movies than their American counterparts (and audiences in many cases mirroring these feelings). Something similar seems to have happened with this film as well, as the critical reception in the US by critics as important as the late Roger Ebert, or the New York Time critic were very welcoming, while the French critics I read reproached the lack of suspense of the story and the theatrical approach. I would say that both – appreciative reviews and critics were right. Bellamy does look at many moments as TV theater with stiffness in dialogs and static camera work especially in the scenes filmed in the interior. There is however enough fine acting to support the gradual discovery of the characters and the situations to keep the interest awake, even beyond the fascination of watching another work on screen of Depardieu.  Claude Chabrol’s last film is a low tone Adieu, by a master who never stopped being fascinated by the endless games of disclosure and hiding of his characters.

 

Death Proof may be the most typical Quentin Tarantino product since Pulp Fiction. Those who love Tarantino will love the film and love him more, those who hate him will have at least one more item to add to the list of cinematic infamies they believe he is guilty of. While other pictures made by him in the last decade deal with bigger stories, or re-write episodes of history (WWII and the Holocaust, slavery and fight for emancipation) from the Tarantino perspective, Death Proof is almost a cinematographic alternative to Pulp Fiction, taking its inspiration from the low cost B-movies genres – horror thrillers and slashers.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1028528/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1028528/

 

The film comes in two packages and I must mention that I have seen and I am writing here about the standalone Tarantino-only version. It lasts almost two hours and is symmetrically divided into two stories of equal duration. The common (and BAD) hero is Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who is using his large and iron-strong car as a terror and murder weapon. In the first part he is set on killing a group of young and brainless girls he meets in a bar some place in Texas. In the second part he tries to do a similar act in Tennessee, but he runs out of luck. One of the girls happens to be a stunt-woman, another one seems to know what world she lives in and carries a gun. Not only that his murder plan fails, but the girls will respond with a vengeance. Almost like in Kill Bill. All things considered, Tarantino must be a feminist of some sorts.

 

(video source Canal de Biel2000)

 

Some of the 70s movies techniques, starting with titles, ending with credits, colors and quality of the film give to Death Proof the air of authenticity and credibility. Beyond Russell and Tarantino himself who as in most of his movies takes a small role in the good tradition of Hitchcock, there is fine acting worth mentioning by Zoe Bell (a stunt woman herself, with the looks of a muscled Jodie Foster) who steps ahead of the crowd of beautiful women and leads their transformation from preys to hunters. The film is violent as any movie by Tarantino, but I must observe again that Tarantino’s violence is so exaggerated and so cinematic that you can feel his smile (actually rather a grin) telling us – ‘this is just entertainment’. Trash? certainly, but this trash is so pure that it’s gold.

Io sono l’amore starts with an impressionist-like picture of a city in winter, reminding a painting by Renoir. Yet, we’ll soon realize that we are not at the end of the 19th century but rather 100 years later. The next scene is a party in a very rich people mansion. A family gathers, three generations get together for the birthday of the founding father of the family. He has a big announcement to make about the family heritage, an announcement everybody waits for many years. The relations between the members of the family start to build up under our eyes during the dinner, the old man is obviously in control. Does this remind Coppola‘s The Godfather? What follows is however a film about the slow decay of the ruling class, a decay that starts from the degradation of the family fabric which does not allow any longer cohesion in face of the forces of economics and history. We are reminded the universe of another great movie – Visconti‘s Il gattopardo.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1226236/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1226236/

 

All these comparisons may seem extremely ambitious for the work of a director, Luca Guadagnino, who is practically at his second feature film only (and the first one seems to have been an erotic teenage drama). Amazing as it may seem, Io sono l’amore is a very complex and daring enterprise that succeeds to compare honorably with the illustrious antecedents it is inspired from and also has a lot to say on its own. The Recchi family in the center of the story is led by strong men who built a textile empire (with dubious origins in the second world war industry, so the Godfather quote is not completely unjustified) and married beautiful women, not always in their own class of super-riches. One of them is Emma (Tilda Swinton), Russian at origin, married to the heir of the empire, leading the house, coordinating the social ceremonies, managing the house economy, raising the children and dealing with their growth and emotional problems. Is she happy? Can she keep together a family that lives in a different age than the one of the ossified bourgeois clans, with some of the younger people trying to break the walls of the conveniences in order to find their vocation or their ways of loving? When the occasion shows up it will be Emma herself who will let her true feelings overcome the conventions, but the way to personal truth may be paved with tragedy. The story of the family relations is carefully constructed and impeccably acted, but there is one moment when the story risks to fall into soap drama. This moment is overcome by the superb acting of Tilda Swinton. I realize now that I missed somehow how huge an actress she is. In one film she succeeds to be at turns high-class cool and passionate, attractive and ugly, young enough to love and fast-aging, in control and completely broken, and all these in one character around whom the whole movie is spinning. At the end, when tragedy had struck, and she has the courage to speak the truth and break the social conventions, she is told by the husband who was a minute ago swearing love and offering protection ‘you are nothing’. It is actually the Recchi’s who get nothing but emptiness in their lives, and this is the moment when Emma gains back her life and the chance to start again.

 

(video source VISO Trailers)

 

There are so many beautiful moments of cinema in this film which make it stand on its own and worth remembering even beyond the story itself. There are some amazing moments of camera work, and some haunting fragments of musical score. There is a lot of good acting, and care to the social and relationship details, every corner of the screen is full with characters who live true lives in a realistic and exact composition. There is beautifully filmed nature and there is a lot of interesting food, actually food plays at some moment an important role in the action of the film, as the mean of communication between the characters (one of them is a very talented chef). Guadagnino’s movie continues a tradition in the Italian cinema of using family stories to deal with social and political issues and tells again a story which will be worth telling as long as class differences exist and are challenged by history and by emotions.