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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Chopin's grave: 2 June 2010

A few days ago I came across this story on the BBC about some long-lost letters from Frederic Chopin that kicked off a series of brain flares.

Six letters written by Frederic Chopin, thought to be lost in 1939, have been found and donated to a Warsaw museum dedicated to the Polish composer.

The letters, written by Chopin to his parents and sisters between 1845 and 1848, were believed lost after the outbreak of World War II.

After it emerged in 2003 that they still existed in a private collection, moves were made to secure them.

Chopin was born in Poland in 1810 but spent half of his life in France.

According to museum curator Alicja Knast, the letters were last displayed in public in Poland in 1932 and were still confirmed as being in Warsaw in 1939.

It is thought the letters went missing, like many other cultural artefacts, after the Nazis invaded Poland.

There’s a bit of family humor that came to mind immediately, as I have a step-nephew whose birth took my father in a literary direction … as was often his angle. Born to my Chinese sister, Debbie, and her Japanese husband, Dad decided the kids needed a nickname. What came to mind were a couple of James Clavell novels … Shogun and Tai-Pan, one being set in Japan, the other in China. He called the boy “Taigun”, because, as he said, “Sho-pan” wouldn’t work because he was Polish.

From there I jumped to Paris where I shot the photo you see here at the grave of the real Chopin on a day I solitarily rambled the Pére Lachaise Cemetery in the company of my son’s spirit on the first anniversary of his death … Jaren’s, not Chopin’s.

So it was the second of June last year I sat for a time at Chopin’s grave. Listening in my head to his “Nocturn”, I contemplated the accomplishments of his mere 39 years of life and, in keeping with my situation at that moment, his doomed relationship with the writer George Sand and the heartbreak that virtually ended his days as a composer … and as a man among the living.

His grave is lovely, a peaceful, perpetually flower-strewn resting place reminding all of not only the music, but also the passionate transplanted Pole amongst Parisians … his heart, by the way, rests in Poland at his wish it be removed upon his death and buried there … the complicated lover to a complicated woman.

As often is the case with artists, neither Chopin nor Sand were easy and their relationship was unconventional. She was an older woman with strong passions of her own and a long string of relationships.

“She was a thinking bosom and one who overpowered her young lovers, all Sybil — a Romantic.”
~ V.S. Pritchett

He was physically weak and needed such babying she referred to him often as her “third child” and a “beloved little corpse”.

Artistically, neither were easy:

Chopin is at the piano, quite oblivious of the fact that anyone is listening. He embarks on a sort of casual improvisation, then stops. ‘Go on, go on,’ exclaims Delacroix, ‘That’s not the end!’ ‘It’s not even a beginning. Nothing will come … nothing but reflections, shadows, shapes that won’t stay fixed. I’m trying to find the right colour, but I can’t even get the form …’ ‘You won’t find the one without the other,’ says Delacroix, ‘and both will come together.’ ‘What if I find nothing but moonlight?’ ‘Then you will have found the reflection of a reflection.’

That they lived and loved and died is history, as everything eventually becomes. Their lives were what they were, and 162 years after his death he fills me with music and sets me to pondering the bumpy, uncomfortable roads traveled and the resulting detritus of our journeys.

The news that letters have been found feels almost like a gift from that grave I visited, and I’m more than pleased that email wasn’t an option in those years between 1845 and 1848 when he wrote them.

I’ve not seen the letters, and it doesn’t matter much if I never do. Here, however, is an example of him finding the reflection of a reflection:

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Ancient Mexican Bert. Ernie may have been looted ...

Although there is much happening in life and the world I would like to vent thoughts about, I’m under deadline on a book at the mo and employing mental and finger skills there, so the blog suffers.

Squeezing the work in between one big job and another bigger one means I have only weeks to go from zero to done and I’m feeling the pinch. Add to that the fact that the weather is stunning and the beach beckons big time and composing blog posts jumps to the bottom of the to-do list.

There is, however, time this lovely morning for a bit of H&H (Harvest and Harangue), so let’s get to it, shall we?

Starting with this … the usual limp dick of the UN attempting to insert itself:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the body’s Security Council to take “decisive action” over the Libya crisis.

That’ll do it, heh? Sure … form a committee.

My fav line in the story, though, is from Gaddafi Junior, the colonel’s son, Saif:

Visitors to Tripoli would not hear gunfire but might hear fireworks, Mr Gaddafi said.

Hilarity!

A look at Saif’s former impersonation of reasonable is interesting as well. From just two years ago:

Having just donated £1.5m to the university to fund its Global Governance Unit, he was introduced in glowing terms by the university’s Professor David Held, who said:

“I’ve come to know Saif as someone who looks to democracy, civil society and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.”

Funny what £1.5 mil and a load of crap will get you …

One the “Hey, that’s kinda cool” front, a new theory on gravity has some pull this morning.

A controversial theory that challenges the existence of dark matter has been buoyed by studies of gas-rich galaxies.

Instead of invoking dark matter, the Modified Newtonian Dynamics theory says that the effects of gravity change in places where its pull is very low.

And if you think you’ve got issues getting your head around this stuff, check out the take of a scientist involved in the work:

“Sometimes I wish I didn’t work on this,” Professor McGaugh said. “If your own data don’t get in your face about this, it’s easy to say ‘so-and-so screwed up’.”

No kidding, Dude.

Having experienced the wonders of Mexico’s rich history, this story on looting of historic sites there is disturbing.

Mexico signed an international treaty in 1972 that prohibits the extraction and trade in archaeological artefacts, with punishment of up to 12 years in jail for such a crime.

But, almost four decades on, experts say the demand from abroad for pre-Hispanic pieces, especially the US, shows no signs of abating.

Not surprising since selling heritage has been a going concern all over the world, but still a regrettable loss … just ask the Greeks.

I was recently introduced to the wonders of incognito British graffiti artist, Banksy, so was drawn to this program on him “leaving his social commentary” in L.A.. Very cool stuff.

And speaking of things British, I can’t end this post without a mention of the Covent Garden restaurant now serving up breast milk ice cream.

The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.

At £14 ($22.50) a serving, Baby Gaga must be udderly delicious …

And that’s it for today. Thanks for dropping by …

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Telling stories with no words …

Words are my thing, my outlet, the tool of my creating, and it’s a good thing I have them because I suck at most other forms of art.

My daughter, Jenn, and my son, Sam, both amaze me with their ability to take something blank and turn it into an image that provokes recognition and emotion … it seems like magic to me.

Ernesto can make six guitar strings produce music so beautiful that I’m filled with toe-tapping joy or cry as it resonates deeply in my soul.

Being bound by words as I am, a story unfolding without need of any astounds me.

Here’s a link to an astounding story I can’t seem to find to embed, but MUST be seen.

Ernesto sent it for the kids, inspiring Sam toward yet another medium, and we thank him …

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