Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cormac Mc Carthy. The road- All the pretty horses, Child of God and Outer dark

I had given The Road, a post apocalyptic novel by Cormac Mc Carthy to a friend of mine. When he gave it it back he said : it is sooo dark... After climate change a father and son walk through scorched America. The only thing moving are the ashes and the people looking for food. Violence and unerring humanity. It is shocking yet beautiful. So off to the bookshop I went and got myself All the pretty horses the first book of the Border trilogy. I am floored by the language, the precise terms for types of soil, potholes and other standing water, but also life and death, love and notwithstanding pain some men live by their own rather masculine honor code. He tells a grand and epic story, expressed in even grander landscapes reflecting the mental states of some of the protagonists. Pain, love, loyalty. My love of language made me circle the words I had never read before... quiet a few gems are to be found on each page. And yes the story of young men, kids almost and the trials and tribulations of first love... In a way this is a unique coming of age novel. I had read before Child of God, for me this was the hardest to read: the degradation, the grotesque, killing and preying upon people in normal situations like chance encounters in the woods, in stores. The images of East Tennessee show the depressed area and the de-posessed... Yet I go on reading mesmerized by the dignity of some, the touch of humor and the strength and mesmerizing beauty of his language. Mc Carthy shows the worst of a human being yet elicits compassion.
Just one sentence: The lamp in the floor gutters in the wind and the wind moans in th flue.
Outer dark begins with the birth of a child from the incestuous union between a brother and a sister. The brother takes away the child and she won't stop looking for it in the wild Appalachian lands around the turn of the century. Moving and chilling is this wandering to find a child. three strangers turn it into an apocalypse... It is quiet a read bringing redemption n a strange way as a kind of parable.

Blood on the moon and Cormac Mc Carthy and the rest of the West

I was tired, so I switched on the TV and fell in a western black and white movie: Blood on the moon. I watch in fascination. The type casting and what to show and what not  was a pleasant surprise and also the bar fight, or the more serious encounters of fists and guns. The beauty was that it was all shadowy, so the violence was mostly unseen, yet the "bruiteur", the person responsible for the sound, did a wonderful job, making us hear the punches rather than seeing them. Also the women were smart, had common sense and were strong willed. Of course falling for the drifter who gets involved in the local dispute between an Arizona cattle rancher and local homesteaders. These disputes till go on, less violently but about water there are still issue between ranchers and the local population. In this psychological western Robert Michum is doing a great job being the good guy with dubious principles, just as Robert Preston. It truly is a film noir, where Michum from starting as a hired gun against a cattleman, falls for his strong willed, intelligent, brave yet maligned daughter and so Michum turns out to be the good guy after all. Yet that was not all on my lazy day. I turned also to Cormac McCarthy's All the pretty horses. I am always impressed by his precise writing, circle the words I don't know in his text, his language being rich and wonderful. More about that when I have finished the book...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Dress rehearsal...

I have been mulling over the dress rehearsal for the bachelor's degree dance in the Singel. Two renown choreographs and the people from Ultima Vez helped the young dances on their way. As usual WIM Vandekeybus works with power, the strength of the body and complex relationship body mind and body. I must admit that I was deeply impressed with what the dancers gave to the audience. Serialize movements, falls, shots punctuating the the movements, impressions of a mass grave on stage... To me the first part was the War in Syria... the randomness of life and death. Of course a work of art, and it definitely was one, is open to different interpretations and so I felt free to accept my feeling about the performance as a  possible reading. The physical hardness of the movements and the scenes are going to one's core. There is a couple for instance where the girl wants to touch the boy. He says: Ne touche pas! Don't touch... and hits her on the arm. She reaches, he hits her, in a rhythm that is chilling. She starts hitting back... What an insight in the escalation of violence...
To me the first part was an anti war statement and the second part a suggestion to think about personal violence.

There was a welcome break and  under the guidance of Emanuel Gat. Totally different:more romantic, more gentle it seems... Yet the girls, the woman are thrown around, thrown away by the male dance partners... Women behaving doll-like, strangely surreal.
Worthwhile. two dancers got hurt and might not dance on opening night.

Thanks for making me feel and think.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

VERS 1984-2014

A friend and colleague Karel Sergen launched this fun and serious project. Bar Van Loo had sugested to find one's own audience for an original selection of thirty years of poetry. So Karel mailed out an extended overview of his work and asked his friends poets to choose one poem and write a short commentary like one would send a tweet. The publisher P Leo Peeraer of 'Uitgevery P' accepted the challenge to publish this book, and unbeknown to all the poets who send in their favorite poem they were considered co-authors of the book and received it as a gift. The celebration of this project was the reason we drove with four people from Antwerp to Saint Remy-Geest, the beautiful village just over the language border. I was again impressed by the place. I was even more impressed by the careful preparation of the program for the day. Karel is form the Dutch peaking part of Belgium and lives in the French speaking part since quite a while. I was impressed that the local dignitaries were bilingual. The authors speaking and reading were bilingual too and so is the book. Bernard De Coen, in close collaboration with Karel made a great and wonderful translation into French.

Everything breathes beauty and caring and even a deluge couldn't stop the festivities. In three different spots the poets who had chosen their 'favorite' read it for the audience. Everybody had a great time. I felt hopeful because of the inclusiveness of the whole day. On the picture right you see Karel (left) and Bart (right). French and Dutch, Japanese and English, all together. Hilde Keteleer is reading and I must thank her for letting me use her pictures. I love the attention to detail, the edible flowers, the great people there and the beautiful together of poetry and language.Even old chairs became poetic objects with a haiku.