Chaotic #DailyPost

Today’s Prompt

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“It’s all about geography,” she said in her quiet, matter of fact voice. “You have to draw the map, polish the synopsis, make sure those ghosts of yours translate into real people, people who live, work, love, somewhere!”

“You’re quite right about the map,”I replied, in conciliatory mood, “and there lies the problem. I have several in mind, dependent on when, and who, on past and present, on today and a fleeting tomorrow. As for them…”

“Don’t tell me,” she snapped, “they don’t know where they are! But it’s precisely your job to show them, to guide them, to organise that chaos they find themselves in! Just imagine, being parachuted on the blank page, out of your world, in a different time, without language, without light…”

“I just need to let it rest, for a bit, you know, without rushing to impose order… prematurely… Besides, who am I to rule them about? They may like this lack of walls, this fizziness, the doors open…”

“That’s what I have always thought,” she concluded with a disarming smile, “You are an anarchic writer! I wish I could help!”

Image: Carl Friedrich Seiffert, Die Blaue Grotte auf Capri, 1860 – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Nadia Kamel: Salade Maison (Salata Baladi)

From Women Make Movies

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Egyptian filmmaker, Nadia Kamel was born in 1961 in Cairo, where she continues to live and work. The daughter of journalist parents with a long history of political activism, Kamel grew up in a house steeped in progressive politics and a passion for the arts and popular culture. She studied microbiology and chemistry before turning her full attention to her life-long romance with the cinema in 1990. Working as an assistant director to leading independent filmmakers in contemporary Egypt including Atteyat El-Abnoudy, Youssef Chahine and Yousri Nassrallah, Kamel has considerable experience in the making of both documentary and feature films. When Kamel first began to work on her own projects in 2000, she found that a saturated production scene left little space for new directors and unconventional topics. Eventually, she concluded that addressing the daring, often taboo topics, confined to the margins of conventional Egyptian discourse that she hoped to engage with in her projects, she would need to take the risk of producing her own low-budget films. SALATA BALADI (AN EGYPTIAN SALAD), her first film, has been produced in this spirit of indomitable independence. After nearly five years of working solo, she was joined by co-producers Films d’Ici and Ventura Films in the post-production of this family tale celebrating a century of Egyptian cosmopolitanism.

Director’s Note:
“It struck me that our history is contained in the homes we live in, that we are shaped by the ability of these simple structures to resist being defiled.” (Achmat Dangor, Kafka’s Curse)

The original inspiration for this film was simple enough: a love for my family’s stories and a wish to share them. It was a story telling project. The energy that eventually propelled me into this adventure was more complicated. I saw my octogenarian mother aging and my 10-year-old nephew growing up under a shadow of satellite dishes and a rising clamor about some inevitable clash of civilizations. And a mixture of hope and fear overtook me.

My mother’s stories, woven across the 20th century, confound any straightforward understanding of the historical events during which they were played out and are almost always an exception to the reductive homogeneity with which we are taught to view ‘History.’ In my family, religions and cultures get married when they appear to be divorcing in the global arena. In a world where my family’s identities are being squeezed into irreconcilable positions, I needed to document my history before I became apologetic about it and the myth of its extinction was realized.

But as my mother told her stories, I discovered that the film could not simply be a reclaiming of our treasured past: we found ourselves colliding with pockets of denial and silence. Without confronting the taboos of our present, my mother’s stories were reduced to self indulgence and nostalgia. And so my story telling film became a witness to a new story still in the making – a story about my family’s efforts to once more climb the wall that unjustly insists on separating our principles from our humanity.

Image: A panorama taken from the Judge’s Club in Cairo, showing the Nile as well as Geziera. The Sofitel and Grand Hyatt Hotels can be seen in the far right of the photograph. By JasmineEliasOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Prelude #Cityscape

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Exploring a city is like discovering a lover: the unknown sounds, the long avenues, the blind windows so much like eyes shut, the undecipherable scents… Then there are the enticing corridors, the forbidden cellars, the lovely peaceful cafés hidden behind trees, as islands of lust. The city does not yield easily: one has to be patient, one has to enjoy the foreplay, wait for the moment, the right time, observe and love.

The city is full of strangers, as many alive and as many ghosts, like the thoughts and dreams in the mind of the one we seek, as puzzling and provocative. She has its angry, even furious, side: thunder and lightning, when the pavements become hostile, the noise unbearable. She can reject the presumptuous, ignore the fool, she’s sovereign on her territory, she does not forgive.

Although many claim to possess her, she has no master. She has seen murder and rape, she knows much about war, about invaders… In our eyes she’s more alive than ever, risen from the flat sands, slowly stretching her wonderful limbs…

Image: via lightsindarkuniverselightsindarkuniverse.tumblr.com

Haunted #AtoZAprilChallenge

chateau20de20brissac

From: List of reportedly haunted locations in France

Photo: Chateau de Brissac, France (“Even if you’re not into ghost hunting, this is a great place to visit. This ornate castle was masterfully rebuilt in the 17th century, and is overflowing with antiques, original tapestries, and the ceilings are even painted with gold. As soon as you enter the castle you get an eerie felling and a slight shiver runs up your spine. That’s because this was the site of a gruesome double murder. Jacques de Breze found his wife Charlotte and her lover one evening together in the castle. After his discovery, Jacques murdered them both. Legend has it the pair have haunted the castle ever since. Jacques was said to have sold the castle soon after their deaths, as he was so scared of the ghosts, and could no longer live alone in the castle.”)

Of Thanatos, Ansky’s Notebook and a City in the Desert, a #reading of “2666” by Roberto Bolaño

“Jesus is the masterpiece. The thieves are minor works. Why are they there? Not to frame the crucifixion, as some innocent souls believe, but to hide it.”

2066

“Now what sea is this you have crossed, exactly, and what sea is it you have plunged more than once to the bottom of, alerted, full of adrenalin, but caught really, buffaloed under the epistemologies of these threats that paranoid you so down and out, caught in this steel pot, softening to devitaminized mush inside the soup stock of your own words?”

Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Child in Berlin  -  David Bowie  1977

 

The geography is immense, as the novel meanders through the streets of Paris, Madrid, London or Milan, the ruins of Cologne after the war, the snows of the Austrian border, Venice, Hamburg, the Crimean peninsula, the dark forests of Rumania, Mexico City, and, inevitably, Santa Teresa, the industrious and sinister city in the Sonora desert, still vibrating from the visit of the Savage Detectives.

Is Hans Reiter a reference to the war criminal of the same name? Does the writer’s name, Benno von Archimboldi, hide a deeper meaning? We follow four academics, German literature specialists, united by their obsession with the shadowy writer, Archimboldi. They read, visit each other, Mrs. Bubis, the publisher of Archimboli’s books and his lifelong friend, and try to discover who the writer really is. Their quest finally takes them to the city where girls and young women are butchered by one (of several) sadistic murderers.

Amalfitano, the critics’ host in Santa Teresa, reflects on death and his reasons to have moved o the city, from Spain, where his daughter, Rosa, was born. As he observed the treaty of geometry, hanging upside down from his washing line in his backyard, swept by the desert’s winds and dust, the scholar fears for his daughter, in a city where they kill girls like sparrows. Fate, the reflective journalist from New York, who travels to Santa Teresa for an article on a boxing match, when he is in fact no sports writer, befriends Rosa, and travelled back to New York with her, away from her father and the malediction of the city.

The endless narrative of the murders, spanning four years, unresolved and the investigation of which is plagued by incompetence, corruption and neglect, after all, most of the victims are poor girls working in the sweatshops of the city, or whores, or both, takes three hundred pages of the novel, a harrowing and at times monotonous read. Finally, Klaus Haas, a German-American citizen, is arrested, probably wrongly, for some of the murders.

At long last, we meet Hans Reiter, learn about the house in the forest, the one-eyed mother and the one-legged father. Young Hans is fascinated by the sea and its forests. Unstoppable, the river flows to the beginning of the war. Hans is strong, foolishly brave, visibly with no fear of death. Drafted in a light infantry regiment he picks up an iron cross on his way to Crimea. On a short permission back to Berlin he meets Ingeborg, who after the war would become his wife. Severely wounded Hans is sent to the village of Kosteniko, on the banks of the river Dniepr. There the future Archimboldi meets his future career in a farmhouse that belonged to Boris Ansky’s family, before the village jews were massacred by the Einsatzgruppe C. Hans discovers Ansky’s notebook, the story of an “enemy of the state”, witness of the horror, soldier of the revolution, and genial writer under another man’s name.

Fifty years later, Klaus Haas, son of Lotte, Hans’s sister, is in jail, his trial postponed. Finally Hans, now eighty, and a possible Nobel-awarded writer, visits Santa Teresa, closing the loop.

The book closed, we must read again, as we must reread “Q”, or Gravity’s Rainbow, or the Man Without Quality. In the end we know that Sisyphus trumps Thanatos, even for just a few years.

Image: Child in Berlin  –  David Bowie  1977

The search for Cesárea, a #reading of “The Savage Detectives”, Roberto Bolaño

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Roberto Bolaño” by FarisoriOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

From the Golden Fleece to The Two Towers, from the Holy Grail to Heart of Darkness, great works of world’s literature are often stories of quests. So goes for Roberto Bolaño‘s masterpiece, The Savage Detectives, which follows two young poets, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, in their odyssey in search for the mythical Cesárea Tinajero, great priestess of the “Visceral Realists”.

We follow them, often under the bemused eyes of Juan García Madero, seventeen when he joins the visceral realists (no initiation ceremony), from the streets of Mexico City to the Sonora desert, via Chile, Nicaragua, California, Barcelona, Rome, Angola, Sierra Leone, and other places in history, meeting biblical whores, murderous pimps, corrupt policemen, incorruptible generals, and, of course, lost poets.

This is a story of poets, fugitives, witnesses… perhaps apostles? Its roots are in the horror and miracles of a continent, steeped in literature and death.

“Bolaño,” writes his translator, Natasha Wimmer, “took seriously the idea of literary immortality – never more than when he turned it into a joke. Failed writers are frequent characters in his stories and novels; so are lost writers, whose legacy must be preserved. In ‘Photographs’, the only published story in which Arturo Belano reappears, he comes upon a kind of illustrated encyclopaedia of forgotten French poets from the 1960s and ’70s. As he looks at their pictures and reads their biographies, remote and irrelevant now, he sees a line of birds on the horizon, ‘an electrocardiogram that flutters or spreads its wings in expectation of their death, thinks Belano, and then he shuts his eyes for a long moment, as if he’s thinking of crying with his eye closed.'”

Geography is equally important for Bolaño, who describes meetings, encounters, love affairs and murders with a careful labelling of time and place: “Rafael Barrios, in the bathroom of his house, Jackson Street, San Diego, California, September 1982.”

I went on to read “Distant Star”, and hope to read “2666” soon. An important writer, a genial novel.

I will listen… #ThursThreads – Tying Tales Together – Week 195

Peregrine HeathcoteIt comes back at this time of the year: longing for open spaces, a different sky, another light in the morning… So we argue about where, and when, and for how long: not a severe argument, I’m willing to listen, and you have the grace to hear my reasons. But it won’t end for sometime, perhaps not even before the new year.

For we are travellers in a hurry, to discover, and also to retrace our steps, in equal measures. By now the range of possibilities is hardly finite. I lean toward the East, and you to the South. Evidently the West and the North haven’t lost anything yet.

Maps litter the room, photos of unforgettable places, mementoes of love in strange places…

We look at each other, and laugh. No chess game this is, more like a battle field!

#VisDare 89: Aware

AwareThese days, he rarely visited the old town: he wanted to forget the ghosts, even if he sometimes missed the tortuous streets, the medieval houses, the narrow lanes at the back of secret and overgrown gardens…

But today, he wanted to go back, to smell the ancient timber, admire once again the tortured roofs, and those long gone courtyards.

There, near the templar church, in one corner, he knew he would meet her again, the cloudy shadow of a timeless beauty… and those eyes…

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