Category Archives: books

A different greeting style

I had already posted a quote  from The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski here but his book is so rich that we could find in that book at least an excerpt per day. His words are freely although harmoniously flowing on paper and I can’t help but be caught in his passionate descriptive tale of culture, travels and Africa…

 Here is an excerpt on greeting in Africa, so different from our… :

” The course and temperature of the first greeting are of utmost significance to the ultimate fate of a relationship, which is why people here set much store by the way they salute each other. It is essential to exhibit from the very beginning, from the very first second, enormous, primal joy and geniality. So, for starters, one extends one’s hand. But not in a formal manner, reticently, limply: just the opposite – a large, vigorous gesture, as if one’s intention were not so much to offer one’s hand as to tear the other’s off. If, however, the other manages to keep his hands whole and in its proper place, it is because, understanding the ritual rules of the greeting, he has likewise executed the same broad, forceful gesture. Both of these extremities, bursting with tremendous energy, now meet halfway and, with a terrifying impact of collision, cancel out the two opposing forces. Simultaneously, as the hands are rushing towards each other, the two individuals share a prolonged cascade of loud laughter. It is meant to signify that each is happy to be meeting and warmly disposed to the other. “

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The Rare & The Beautiful

Do not be silly but live with intensity,’ he urged her. ‘Improve our mind and your manners but let your novels go – Walk by yourself in the winter twilight – Walk at night and into the small hours listen to the wind’s wild whispering.‘ Llewelyn Powys to Lorna Garman

This book was another random charity shop purchase… I saw the cover, read the tittle and adopted it; I have been reading it every six month ever since.

Although it is a biographical 20th century family saga, it has nothing boring or established about it.  I love the free bohemian spirit of the book, the insatiable quest for love, glamour and romance, the highly eccentric characters, the many intertwined relationships and the brilliant gallery of portraits Cressida Connolly depicts. I love to think that some people did live for the sake of living, for the sake of art and for the sake of beauty (although it often meant children neglect and suicide), I love to feel close to these people, muses for the likes of Lucian Freud, Roy Campbell, Epstein, Vita Sackwille-West, Virginia Woolf, Laurie Lee, Llewelyn Powys, TE Lawrence or Peggy Guggenheim and I love to feel love, admiration and hatred for these out of the common Garmans.

Here is a review from Jan Marsh at the Independent: Musky perfume, fur coat and no knickers

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Filed under Beautiful, books, FWY, People

What is time?

A beautifully written text on time’s subjectivity by Kapuscinski.

” The European and the African have an entirely different concept of time. In the European worldview, time exists outside man, exists objectively; and as a measurable and linear characteristics. According to Newton, time is absolute: “Absolute, true, mathematical time of itself and from its own nature. It flows equably and without relation to anything external.” The European feels itself to be time’s slave, dependent on it, subject to it. To exist and function he must observe its ironclad and inviolate laws, its inflexible principles and rules. He must heed deadlines, dates, days and hours. It moves within the rigors of time and cannot exist outside them. They impose upon him their requirements and quotas. An irresolvable conflict exists between man and time, one that always ends with man’s defeat – time annihilates him.

Africans apprehend time differently. For them, it is a much looser concept, more open, elastic, subjective. It is man who influences time, its shape, course and rhythm (man acting of course with the concept of Gods and Ancestors). Time is even something that man can create outright, for time is made manifest through events, and whether an event takes place or not depends after all on man alone. If two armies do not engage in a battle, then that battle will not occur (in other words time will not have revealed its presence, will not have come into being). Time appears as a result of our actions, and vanishes when we neglect or ignore it. It is something that springs to life under our influence but falls into a state of hibernation even non-existence if we do not direct our energy towards it. It is a subservient, passive essence and most importantly one dependent on man. The absolute opposite of time as it is understood in the European worldview. In practical terms, this means that if you go to a village where a meeting is scheduled in the afternoon but find no-one at the appointed spot, asking “When will the meeting take place?’ makes no sense. You know the answer: “It will take place when people come”.” 

Ryszard Kapuscinski – The Shadow of the Sun

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‘Or gluttoning on all, or all away’

Madonna once sang to have and not to hold… As wise and selfless as it sounds, Shakespeare’s greedy, possessive and dramatic approach to loving is far more touching and exciting.

SONNET 75

So are you to my thoughts as food for life,

Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;

And for the peace of you I hold such strife

As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth found.

Now proud as an ejoyer, and anon

Doubting the fliching age will steal his treasure,

Now counting best to be with you alone;

Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure,

Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,

And by and by clean starved for a look,

Possessing or pursuing in no delight

Save what is had, or must from you be took.

Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,

Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

 

I know the illustration to this sonnet might come as a surprise: Shakespeare’s loving is oppressive, stifling, while Chagall’s lovers are always lightly flying in the air… But I guess it’s what passion is about; wings & weight, delight & starvation, storms & sweet-seasoned showers…

And may the world see my pleasure!

Marc Chagall – The Birthday

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A Book of Delights

Antique & Charity shops are my favourite spots to browse in, always hopping for the odd find… I was in Bristol when I came across that book: A BOOK OF DELIGHT, An Anthology of Words and Pictures, printed in 1957 and bought for £1,99.

This book is a concentrate of, well, delights! Poems, book excerpts and other enchanting pictures compiled on old dust smelling pages.

Here’s a beautiful text on Paris and the moonlight by Robert Gibbings.

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