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Showing posts from February, 2015

BOB DYLAN ON SONGWRITING

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Van Morrison once characterized Bob Dylan (b. May 24, 1941) as the greatest living poet. And since poetry, per Muriel Rukeyser’s beautiful definition, is an art that relies on the “moving relation between individual consciousness and the world,” to glimpse Dylan’s poetic prowess is to grasp at once his singular consciousness and our broader experience of the world. That’s precisely what shines through in Paul Zollo’s 1991 interview with Dylan, found inSongwriters On Songwriting (public library) — that excellent and extensive treasure trove that gave us Pete Seeger on originality and also features conversations with such celebrated musicians as Suzanne VegaLeonard Cohen,k.d. langDavid ByrneCarole King, and Neil Young, whose insights on songwriting extend to the broader realm of creative work in a multitude of disciplines. Zollo captures Dylan’s singular creative footprint: Pete Seeger said, “All songwriters are links in a chain,” yet there are few artists in this evolutionary ar…

OLIVER SACHS ON DEATH

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My Own Life Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer By OLIVER SACKSFEB. 19, 2015 Photo A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent. I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted. It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encoura…

CAROL ANN DUFFY ON LOVE

Valentine  Carol Ann Duffy
Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

TOM STOPPARD ON LOVE

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“Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face…” Literary history is as strewn with colorful attempts to define love — including someparticularlymemorable ones — as modern psychology is with attempts to dissect its inner workings. But perhaps the most powerful and profoundly human definition I’ve ever encountered comes from Czech-born British playwright Tom Stoppard’s 1982 play The Real Thing (public library) — a masterwork of insight on the heart’s trials and triumphs in human relationships. In the second act, when the protagonist’s cynical teenage daughter probes what falling in love is like, he offers a disarmingly raw, earnest, life-earned answer: It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of…

SAFER CYCLING

Waiting to get onto a roundabout today I nearly ran over a cyclist who had crept up silently and invisibly across 2 lanes to my left. And she swore at me. One day I am going to injure or kill one and it will be my fault obviously because cyclists are so entitled.  Surely it would make sense and cut the number of accidents if cyclists had to do a course which included the Highway Code, wear obligatory fluorescent strip and helmets, have clear and visible lights both front and back and horns to warn other road users when they are turning or changing lanes. Most of these regulations already apply to motorcyclists. Cycling is no longer just a leisure activity, cyclists need to be properly integrated into the traffic system, both urban and rural, for their own and others’ safety. Don't give  me libertarian complaints about personal freedom. No rights without responsibility.

THE POWER OF FILM

You’ve seen the commercials and the trailers. The lights go down again. You settle down expectantly in your comfortable seat. All is quiet now. You are about to share an emotional and intimate experience in the dark with a roomful of strangers. You are at the movies and it’s powerful.
Film is a hotline to the emotions. Through the camera’s eye you can share the broadest range of actions and feelings. Films will thrill you, scare you and move you. The hardest of tough men who never cry will cry at a sad movie. Film touches us in a wondrous way and it’s instant. We cry, we laugh, we sigh, we gasp. A film can release our hidden emotions, bringing to the surface feelings of hope and joy, desire and longing, suspense and tension, concern and awareness, anxiety and fear, release and relief – in a word: catharsis.
The film-maker’s task is to tell a story. But more than that, a good film can bring not just the catharsis of tears and laughter, but a sense of meaning and magic, of transformation and…

FROM T. S. ELIOT THE FOUR QUARTETS

And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning,
Clangs
The bell.