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Monday, 28 March 2011

Jorge Luis Borges: El mar


Côte des Arcadins © jeanmarietheodat

Côte des Arcadins, Haiti: photo by Jean-Marie Theodat, 25 May 2010

Antes que el sueño (o el terror) tejiera
mitologías y cosmogonías,
antes que el tiempo se acuñara en días,
el mar, el siempre mar, ya estaba y era.

¿Quién es el mar? ¿Quién es aquel violento
y antiguo ser que roe los pilares
de la tierra y es uno y muchos mares
y abismo y resplandor y azar y viento?

Quien lo mira lo ve por vez primera,
siempre. Con el asombro que las cosas
elementales dejan, las hermosas

tardes, la luna, el fuego de una hoguera.
¿Quién es el mar, quién soy? Lo sabré el día
ulterior que sucede a la agonía.

cheur à la manoeuvre / Fisherman at work: photo by Jean-Marie Theodat, 25 May 2010

Homme libre chérissant la mer / Free man cherishing the sea: photo by Jean-Marie Theodat, 25 May 2010

Au sens borgesien d’un rapport particulier avec les éléments, qui réserve une part de notre affection aux plantes, aux astres et aux autres belles choses de la terre, oui ! Au sens argentin d’une imprégnation souterraine des lieux qui finissent par absorber l’humain comme l’eau le sable qu’on y jette et transforment en racines les superficielles attaches que le hasard y a laissé traîner, oui ! Au sens poétique enfin: l’homophonie avec la mère est une très heureuse coïncidence sonore dont je sais gré à la langue française. Auprès de l’une je me sens toujours dans la proximité de l’autre. Comment expliquer sinon mon amour pour ce bleu, le sentiment non pareil de retrouvailles avec quelque chose de plus profond que moi-même et qui me parle au-delà de mes morts? Ce va-et-vient de la mer éveille en moi des souvenirs animaux, des réminiscences, confuses encore dans mon cerveau, de moments furtifs qui furent délicieux sans doute et que tout l’être s’efforcerait de retrouver intacts s’il n’était d’avance découragé par l’évidence des limites qui le séparent de ce paradis envolé.-- Jean-Marie Theodat

Jorge Luis Borges: El mar, from El otro, el mismo, 1964


Julia said...

It's such a pleasure for me to read in your blog poems that I can completely understand (you know how limited is my English).
And I love this sonnet by Borges. The sea have always haunted me in a similar way.
Do you live near the sea-shore, Tom?

TC said...

It's a few miles away -- the water, that is -- and we always know it's there, because the very large ocean that's out beyond the Golden Gate Bridge constantly blows its weather in upon us.

But the bayshore is an industrial wasteland upon which the seabirds hunt for bugs while heavy traffic rushes past on an infernal freeway, not very picturesque.

Certainly nothing so beautiful as the scene captured in Jean-Marie Theotat's wonderful photos of the fishermen in their boats in the waters off the coast of Haiti.

Anonymous said...

You're really on a roll, Tom. Your picture and poem assemblies have been mesmerizing recently. I wish I knew half as much; after I've looked at them I have to rush away and look things up in books. At the moment I'm still on the English Civil War.


TC said...

And well you should be, Artur. That matter could still use sorting, I'd say. Pull out the New Model Army and send in the goats.

Anonymous said...

Waking up (with my family still asleep) on the first full (i.e., non-travel) day of our first vacation in a very long time (which has been very enjoyable so far), these all really make me feel like I'm on vacation, lightened and a little more enlightened (I'm sure that part is an illusion, but I'll stick with it). These are all excellent. I too am still with the English Civil War, by the way.

TC said...

Curtis, I expect we're all still trying to sort out civil wars all the time.

Recalling a phase in about fourth grade when the playground action was determined by whether one chose to wear a blue Union cap or a grey Confederate cap, with a variant coon-tail option, after the manner of Davy Crockett.

Not that anyone on that playground had ever been south of Indiana.

So what kind of civil or uncivil war is it we or they are in now?

One curious angle here...

Over the weekend there was shown me a piece by Robert Dreyfuss from The Nation in which it was revealed that the women of the current Administration have the world market cornered on bellicosity.

The "power troika" of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power (with Gayle Smith bidding to become the Fourth Horsewoman) are said to have swept aside the weak-kneed liberal misgivings of Obama, Gates, Tom Donilon, John Brennan et al. on the "let's go to war" issue.

Clinton, Rice and Power, quoth Mr. Dreyfuss, "seem to believe that when the United States exercises military force it has some profound, moral, lifesaving character to it."

So if the All Woman Power Troika had been around in the days of the English Civil War, which side do you suppose would be getting our Tough Grrrl Tomahawks for breakfast?

ACravan said...

I probably shouldn’t comment on an article I haven’t read, but I’m pretty sure I disagree with Mr. Dreyfuss’s conclusion about the philosophies (if you can so characterize them) and moral postures of the three women he cites. We all have a long history with Mrs. Clinton, obviously. In our case, we had the additional opportunity to observe her as our senator from New York, and based on what we saw, including her decision-making process whether or not to support a war in Iraq, I think it’s pretty obvious that she has no moral center whatsoever and simply maneuvers for the most advantageous opportunities of any moment. She’s been many things at many times to many people. One can’t argue that it hasn’t worked out extraordinarily well financially to her. She seems to be our most feckless secretary of state since the recently deceased Warren Christopher, and both of them seem to embody many negative qualities people unfortunately (and often unfairly) associate with lawyers (although in Mr. Christopher’s case, I’m unaware of allegations of dishonesty, either individual or serial). Ms. Power, whose writings I did spend some time reading, is simply a disaster mind and confirmed for me my skepticism about the worth and value of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. I think she reached her high point as an individual (if not as a scholar) when she described Mrs. Clinton as a “monster” during the last presidential campaign. At least that was succinct and sounded sincere. Theirs is a funny alliance. Ms. Power’s past recommendations for a US military incursion in Israel in support of the Palestinians was very peculiar and incredibly reckless, I think. Fortunately, at that point in her career, she had no power and no great influence, just a word processor and occasional microphones and lecterns. Susan Rice simply seems to be an example of the Peter Principle writ large. She’s “failed up” (like our current attorney-general) to a position where she might possibly do real harm if her garbled words could ever be deciphered. I do believe , as Dreyfuss contends, that the male cohort seems weak-kneed by comparison, but mostly think that our current foreign policy apparatus has us situated tippily on the brink. Only prompt payment of these individuals’ lavish expense accounts using your money is guaranteed. Everything else is up in the air. Consequently, I’m going to the beach. Greetings from Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood. Curtis

Anonymous said...

Assuming you don't already know the answer (and I'm sure you do) the girls would certainly be working for parliament. Charles I had a similar wig to Qadaffi's, and Qadaffi may also believe in divine right, but the point is that they're both fights driven by the enlightened but self-righteous faction of the upper-middle classes. I was reading yesterday that Sarkozy has bipassed his foreign minister and he's got Bernard-Henri Levi running the war. B-H keeps saying things like "of course, I didn't vote for you last time and I won't next time".




Thanks for Jean-Marie Theodat's visions of such blue (nothing like it around here these days, as you know) .

TC said...

Curtis, a beach day? Lucky you, dude.

Here's the original presyndication version of the Dreyfuss piece.

Steve, yes, I plunged into that sea of blue like a man dying of thirst reaching for a glass of water.

(But... salt water??)

Artur, "fights driven by the enlightened but self-righteous faction of the upper-middle classes" really pretty much sums it up.

But back in the day, Oliver was at least able to finish what he started, however bad it was.

These kinds of maybe-wars typically just end in stalemate and failure, leaving everybody broke and exhausted. And of course the public interest level nosedives when there comes the inevitable dropoff in volume of computer-guided weaponry explosion spectactulars, the whole son et lumiere of it all.

Anonymous said...

Well, long wars you lose have never been as popular as short ones you win. I think that's what Bush was getting at when he said "Mission accomplished!" standing on that aircraft carrier in about 2003.

TC said...

Well, he went on TV last night with a speech about this latest war that's not really a war (yet), before a military audience (a set-up that always creates an atmosphere of preaching to the choir), and appeared to be saying (mouthing/repeating) the "right things," but... I had an intense blood pressure headache and lost the plot after a bit, so had to ask Someone exactly what if anything significant was being said.

(Someone always likes things clear-cut and wants the point to be got at directly and clearly and without delay; she'd make a terrible political speech writer.)

"He says the US will be out of there by Wednesday."

I thought that perhaps a bit sanguine.

"And then what?"

"And then NATO... it almost sounds like he's saying NATO comes in on the ground."

That gave a moment's pause, while images of the French sinking their own fleet at Toulon, Berlusconi promising the provision of elegant designer apparel for the paratroopers, etc., danced through the trepidated cranium.

Later I did find one useful AP assessment that explained what Obama really meant: "in essence, the US runs the show that is taking over the show".

Okay, now that makes sense. Or should one say, the usual semi-intelligible form of nonsnsne.

Here's that piece on "how Obama's Libya claims fit the facts".

Mind you, now that Obama's got himself into this fix, one can't suppress the feeling one always has with him, of a smart, pleasant fellow in over his head in a dirty business.

One doesn't envy his position, constantly threatened as he is by an "opposing party" that can't determine from one day to the next whether to shoot off its mouth, shoot off its foot, or shoot off both and in fact everything, just on general dumb Yankee principle. The last polls I saw showed the leading Presidential hope among Republicans is now sarah the airborne elk hunter; the same polls show she also leads the pack among Republican would-be candidates whom Republicans fear most likely to do a bad job.

TC said...

(By the by, Artur, my elision of your subject, i.e. Bush II, with the subject of my following sentence, Obama, almost had the effect of suggesting it doesn't really matter who's driving an out-of-control car that's heading for a crossroads whence all roads lead straight off the edge of a steep cliff... one can't possibly have meant that...although perhaps the lingering potential of the Grammatical Unconscious should never be overlooked.)

TC said...

(Another possible mistaken elision, I now see, would have been from my penultimate subject, i.e. Oliver -- as in "[King Oliver] went on tv last night..." Now THAT would have been a speech worth waking up for.)



"as in "[King Oliver] went on tv last night..." Now THAT would have been a speech worth waking up for.)" -- oh my, you can say that again -- BO wasn't BAD last night, a good nice-looking young lad in over his head as you say in a nasty business, and he can deliver his lines as well as anyone -- but what would OC have sounded like? ? ?



I don't know if you or your readers get this 'newsletter' from Citizens for a Legitimate Government (CLG) but if not you'll want to read something that just arrived, RE: Obama's speech last night ---