Der grüne Zaun

“The old Kent Road was very crowded on Thursday, the eleventh of October 1928. People spilt off the pavement. There were women with shopping bags. Children ran out. There were sales at drapers’ shops. Streets widened and narrowed. Long vistas steadily shrunk together. Here was a market. Here a funeral. Here a procession with banners upon which was written “Ra – Un”, but what else? Meat was very red. Butchers stood at the door. Women almost had their heels sliced off. Amor Vin- that was over a porch. A woman looked out of a bedroom window, profoundly contemplative, and very still. Applejohn and Applebed, Undert-. Nothing could be seen whole or read from start to finish. What was seen begun – like two friends starting to meet each other across the street – was never seen ended. After twenty minutes the body and mind were like scraps of torn paper tumbling from a sack and, indeed, the process of motoring fast out of London so much resembles the chopping up small of identity which precedes unconsciousness and perhaps death itself that it is an open question in what sense Orlando can be said to have existed at the present moment. Indeed we should have given her over for a person entirely disassembled were it not that here, at last, one green screen was held out on the right, against which the little bits of paper fell more slowly; and then another was held out on the left so that one could see the separate scraps now turning over by themselves in the air; and then green screens were held continuously on either side, so that her mind regained the illusion of holding things within itself and she saw a cottage, a farmyard and four cows, all precisely life-size.”

Orlando, Virginia Woolf. Pg. 151-152, Wordsworth Classics.

mu 無

Cuentos de Tokio. 1953. Yasujirō Ozu.

 

—Los otros embajadores me advierten de carestías, de concusiones, de conjuras, o bien me señalan minas de turquesas recién descubiertas, precios ventajosos de las pieles de marta, propuestas de suministros de armas damasquinas. ¿Y tú? — preguntó a Polo el Gran Kan—. Vuelves de comarcas tan lejanas y todo lo que sabes decirme son los pensamientos que se le ocurren al que toma el fresco por la noche sentado en el umbral de su casa. ¿De que te sirve, entonces, viajar tanto? — Es de noche, estamos sentados en las escalinatas de tu palacio, sopla un poco de viento — respondió Marco Polo—. Cualquiera que sea la comarca que mis palabras evoquen en torno a ti, la verás desde un observatorio situado como el tuyo, aunque en el lugar del palacio real haya una aldea lacustre y la brisa traiga el olor de un estuario fangoso. — Mi mirada es la del que esta absorto y medita, lo admito. ¿Pero y la tuya? Atraviesas archipiélagos, tundras, cadenas de montañas. Daría lo mismo que no te movieses de aquí.
El veneciano sabía que cuando Kublai se las tomaba con él era para seguir mejor el hilo de sus razonamientos; y que sus respuestas y objeciones se situaban en un discurso que ya se desenvolvía por cuenta propia en la cabeza del Gran Kan. O sea que entre ellos era indiferente que se enunciaran en voz alta problemas o soluciones, o que cada uno de los dos siguiera rumiándolos en silencio. En realidad estaban mudos, con los ojos entrecerrados, recostados sobre almohadones, meciéndose en hamacas, fumando largas pipas de ámbar.
Marco Polo imaginaba que respondía (o Kublai imaginaba su respuesta) que cuanto más se perdía en barrios desconocidos de ciudades lejanas, más entendía las otras ciudades que había atravesado para llegar hasta allí, y recorría las etapas de sus viajes, y aprendía a conocer el puerto del cual había zarpado, y los sitios familiares de su juventud, y los alrededores de su casa, y una placita de Venecia donde corría de pequeño.
Llegado a este punto Kublai Kan lo interrumpía o imaginaba que lo interrumpía, o Marco Polo imaginaba que lo interrumpía con una pregunta como: —¿Avanzas con la cabeza siempre vuelta hacia atrás? —o bien:—¿Lo que ves está siempre a tus espaldas? —o mejor:—¿ Tu viaje se desarrolla sólo en el pasado?

Todo para que Marco Polo pudiese explicar o imaginar que explicaba o que Kublai hubiese imaginado que explicaba o conseguir por último explicarse a sí mismo que aquello que buscaba era siempre algo que estaba delante de él, y aunque se tratara del pasado era un pasado que cambiaba a medida que él avanzaba en su viaje, porque el pasado del viajero cambia según el itinerario cumplido, no digamos ya el pasado próximo al que cada día que pasa añade un día, sino el pasado más remoto. Al llegar a cada nueva ciudad el viajero encuentra un pasado suyo que ya no sabía que tenía: la extrañeza de lo que no eres o no posees más te espera al paso en los lugares extraños y no poseídos. 

Las ciudades invisibles, Italo Calvino. Pág. 20.

 

Cuentos de Tokio. 1953. Yasujirō Ozu.

 

 

ort

 

Alles (Asturias)

 

“When you travel a lot, and when you love to just wander around and get lost, you can end up in the strangest spots. . . . I don’t know, it must be some sort of built-in radar that often directs me to places that are strangely quiet, or quietly strange.”

Wim Wenders, Places, strange and quiet.

Alles (Asturias)

 

Alles (Asturias)

 

La modernidad es lo transitorio, lo fugitivo, lo contingente, la mitad del arte, cuya otra mitad es lo eterno y lo inmutable. Ha habido una modernidad para cada pintor antiguo; la mayor parte de los hermosos retratos que nos quedan de tiempos anteriores están vestidos con trajes de su época. Son perfectamente armoniosos, porque el traje, el peinado e incluso el gesto, la mirada y la sonrisa (cada época tiene su porte, su mirada y su sonrisa) forman un todo de una completa vitalidad. Este elemento transitorio, fugitivo, cuyas metamorfosis son tan frecuentes, no tienen el derecho de despreciado o de prescindir de él. Suprimiéndolo, caen forzosamente en el vacío de una belleza abstracta e indefinible, como la de la única mujer antes del primer pecado.

Charles Baudelaire, El pintor de la vida moderna.

 

Alles (Asturias)

 

Alles (Asturias)

 

Sobre Alles escribió José Saro y Rojas en 1886: “Es Alles de lo más delicioso de Peñamellera Alta; frondosos castañedos, extensos praderíos, maizales vigorosos, acusan un suelo rico y feraz y deleitan la vista con la belleza inimitable del paisaje. Sorprende al viajero en aquellas soledades su hermosa iglesia, acaso la más bella de la zona oriental de Asturias, con una torre tan ligera y gallarda que es el encanto de cuantos la contemplan”.

Durante los años que estudiaba en la universidad, el váter como lugar de asilo perdió importancia. En vez de él vinieron cada vez más edificios, espacios y lugares. Y en éstos ya no tenia que entrar físicamente. Por regla general bastaba simplemente con que viera «el objeto que necesitaba». Éste podía ser un cobertizo, en alguna parte, para guardar herramientas, la cochera de los tranvías, un autobús que había quedado vacío durante la noche, un búnker subterráneo, aunque estuviera medio destruido por un ataque de sabe Dios qué guerra. La misma función podían cumplir espacios que en realidad, por sí mismos, no eran propiamente tales: la simple vista del espacio vacío que había dejado una rampa, la rampa de carga de una lechería, de una empresa de transportes o simplemente cualquier otra rampa, podía anunciar un posible refugio o una zona donde retirarse, y a veces paneles de carteles de propaganda comercial o electoral convertidos en pirámides si no en verdaderos cobijos eran posibles lugares de permanencia donde uno imaginaba que podía estar a cubierto, sin mojarse y caliente, cuando menos más caliente y más en casa que fuera, al aire libre.

Peter Handke. Ensayo sobre el Lugar Silencioso, Pág. 41.

“Vamos a imaginar que nos perdemos en el desierto de Australia. Nos perdemos y preguntamos a un aborigen cómo se llega a nuestro destino. Este se quedará unos instantes pensando, recordando el camino exacto. Después nos mirará seguro de sí mismo y comenzará a cantar. Cuando acabe, probablemente le volveremos a preguntar.

-Muy bonita la canción, pero ¿podría indicarnos el camino?

El aborigen se marchará ofendido. En su canción estaba el camino”.

Bruce Chatwin. Los trazos de la canción.

Bridge

“The power of a country road when one is walking along it is different from the power it has when one is flying over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text when it is read is different from the power it has when it is copied out. The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command. The Chinese practice of copying books was thus an incomparable guarantee of literary culture, and the transcript a key to China’s enigmas.”

Walter Benjamin’s, Chinese Curios from his essay One Way Street; p. 49.

Words

Transcript:

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations. They have been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are stored with other meanings, with other memories, and they have contracted so many famous marriages in the past. The splendid word “incarnadine,” for example – who can use that without remembering “multitudinous seas”? In the old days, of course, when English was a new language, writers could invent new words and use them. Nowadays it is easy enough to invent new words – they spring to the lips whenever we see a new sight or feel a new sensation – but we cannot use them because the English language is old. You cannot use a brand new word in an old language because of the very obvious yet always mysterious fact that a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words. Indeed it is not a word until it is part of a sentence. Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great poet knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas.” To combine new words with old words is fatal to the constitution of the sentence. In order to use new words properly you would have to invent a whole new language; and that, though no doubt we shall come to it, is not at the moment our business. Our business is to see what we can do with the old English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.

And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, or if you could learn the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper you’d pick up, would tell the truth, or create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least a hundred professors are lecturing on the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing the literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit, still – do we write better, do we read better than we read and wrote four hundred years ago when we were un-lectured, un-criticized, untaught? Is our modern Georgian literature a patch on the Elizabethan? Well, where then are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors; not on our reviewers; not on our writers; but on words. It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most un-teachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order. But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind. Look once more at the dictionary. There beyond a doubt lie plays more splendid than Antony and Cleopatra; poems lovelier than the Ode to a Nightingale; novels beside which Pride and Prejudice or David Copperfield are the crude bunglings of amateurs. It is only a question of finding the right words and putting them in the right order. But we cannot do it because they do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady’s reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.

Thus to lay down any laws for such irreclaimable vagabonds is worse than useless. A few trifling rules of grammar and spelling is all the constraint we can put on them. All we can say about them, as we peer at them over the edge of that deep, dark and only fitfully illuminated cavern in which they live – the mind – all we can say about them is that they seem to like people to think before they use them, and to feel before they use them, but to think and feel not about them, but about something different. They are highly sensitive, easily made self-conscious. They do not like to have their purity or their impurity discussed. If you start a Society for Pure English, they will show their resentment by starting another for impure English – hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech; it is a protest against the puritans. They are highly democratic, too; they believe that one word is as good as another; uneducated words are as good as educated words, uncultivated words as good as cultivated words, there are no ranks or titles in their society. Nor do they like being lifted out on the point of a pen and examined separately. They hang together, in sentences, paragraphs, sometimes for whole pages at a time. They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.

Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change. It is because the truth they try to catch is many-sided, and they convey it by being many-sided, flashing first this way, then that. Thus they mean one thing to one person, another thing to another person; they are unintelligible to one generation, plain as a pikestaff to the next. And it is because of this complexity, this power to mean different things to different people, that they survive. Perhaps then one reason why we have no great poet, novelist or critic writing today is that we refuse to allow words their liberty. We pin them down to one meaning, their useful meaning, the meaning which makes us catch the train, the meaning which makes us pass the examination…

This is the only known surviving recording of Virginia Woolf’s voice. It is part of a BBC radio broadcast from April 29th, 1937. The talk was called “Craftsmanship” and was part of a series entitled “Words Fail Me”. The text was published as an essay in “The Death of the Moth and Other Essays” (1942).

La voz de Virginia Woolf

Esta es la única grabación que aún perdura de la voz de Virginia Woolf. Es parte de una emisión de radio de la BBC del 29 de abril de 1937. La charla se llamó “Artesanía” y fue parte de una serie titulada “Las palabras me fallan”.