Archive for June, 2006

Du Pré’s After Life

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Jacqueline Du Pré website

Yo Yo Ma inherited her cello (Davidov Stradivarius) and facial expressions but not her music.

Here is a compelling film on Jackie, Hilary and Jackie, that musicians (esp. British) hated.

Two great actresses Emily Watson and Rachel Griffith played the two sisters, making a mark in cinematic history.

The film was directed by Anand Tucker, who recently returned to direct “Shopgirl”. Everything wonderful about Shopgirl happened because of this young director and everything shallow belongs to Steve Martin the author, the selfish rich white man.

Enigmatic Emperor

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Emperor of Japan, Meiji and His World 1852-1912, Donald Keene 2002

The most remarkable changes in the history of Japan occured during the sixty year reign of a single emperor, Meiji. Keene’s book tries to unveil the man Meiji about which little is known or has been written.

Emperor Meiji Emperor Meiji

Diplomat Makino Nobuaki said of Meiji:

The emperor had almost no private side to him. He also had no preferences. There was nothing to choose between his living quarters and those the the aristocracy. If anything, his were simpler. They merely served his needs. When he made a journey, it was never for pleasure but always for the sake of the country. He initiated public works but never because of his own tastes; everything was done because it was necessary for the nation. He did not give permission for public building to be erected unless they were needed to receive foreign visitors or for state business. He did not buy things because he wanted them but in order to encourage industry or protect art. He led almost no life apart from his work.

The London Times wrote:

He possessed a remarkable faculty of judging character, and where his confidence had once been given, occasion to recall it never occurred. He possessed also a rarer trait, absolute willingness that others should wear the laurels of success, for he asked of the nation nothing except that it should honour and trust the Throne’s servants, reserving to the Throne only the reverence form of prestige.

Celebration Celebration of Japanese Consitution 1889 of Japanese Consitution
1889 Celebrating the new Constitution of Imperial Japan in Kyoto

The emporer’s name was chosen by casting the I Ching Oracle and deriving a reign name (nengo) from the resulting passage: “The sage, facing south, listens to the world; facing the light, he governs.” The name Meiji came to be interpreted as meaning “enlightened rule”. For the first time in Chinese or Japanese history the reign name Meiji applied to his entire life and was not changed at his death.

King Kalakaua of Hawaii was the first foreign monarch to visit Meiji. Next to Meiji at 5’4″, tall for a Japanese at the time, Kalakaua was a giant. Kalakaua was traveling to Japan unanounced until an American diplomat tipped off the royal court who pulled out all the stops to prepare a welcome worthy of a visiting monarch. For Japan it was a means of learning the practices of Western state visits and protocols. Kalakaua was overwhelmed by the magnitude and scale of his welcome. Kalakaua proposed that his niece Kaiulani, then only five and future Queen of Hawaii, be accepted as bride to Prince Sadamaro, who was later legally adopted by Meiji. Meiji turned Kalakaua down.

Just prior the the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, the annual lecture delivered before Meiji was a strangely prophetic reading from David Hume’s History of England describing the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the British. Japan destroyed the entire Russian naval fleet during the war.

President Theodore Roosevelt played a key role in the Russo-Japanese peace negotiations for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. The English wife of a Russian prisoner was unimpressed:

Peace as she is hammered out at the American Cronstadt! … Japan and Russia have not made peace – nor wanted it. Oh, no! That terrible American President, Il Strenuoso, he has made it. He wanted it, he would have it. And I believe him capable of locking the conferees in a room and starving them into obedience.

King Edward VII conferred the medieval Order of the Garter on Meiji. When Prince Arthur was buckling the garter below Meiji’s knee he pricked his finger getting blood on the garter. Meiji remained unperturbed and dignified throughout the presentation but once retired to his private chambers, he broke out laughing and asked “What am I supposed to do with such a thing?”

Meiji Ladies Meiji Ladies (via) Empress Huruko preferred western style clothing and developed her own style, influencing fashion throughout Japan.

Meiji was fated to be surrounded by enlightened and farsighted advisers including notably Iwakura Tomomi in Meiji’s early life and Ito Hirobumi in Meiji’s later life. He also benefited greatly from the presence of his longtime teacher Motoda Nagazane who taught Meiji to look to the East for moral and ethical guidance even while looking to the West for science, technology, modern universal education, and constitutional governance. Meiji was also greatly assisted in his lifetime duties by the extraordinary Empress Huruko (posthumously known as Shoken)

Meiji’s birth chart

In the Mood for Two

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

I wanted you. And I was looking for you.

(At the same time by Laurie Anderson)

( A deleted epilogue from “In the Mood for Love”)

Laurie Anderson speaks to me of Aristophanes
Laurie A with Chirgilchin at youtube, here and here.

Invisible Hands

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Igor StravinskyGoogle Igor or
Happy Father’s Day
Igor by Pablo Picasso (via)

Youtube Tango for Piano

Igor Stravinsky was born in Oranienbaum, Russia in 1882. We can celebrate his birthday on two days, June 17 and 18. The Orthodox Eastern religion had a different calendar than North America. (via)

Played here by Fazil Say

Found video (interesting work) The Rite Spring – (Pina Bausch version here)

Stravinsky was committed, disciplined and precise.
Because each piece is different, and none is derivative, there are no “major” and “minor categories in Stravinksy’s output. Apollo is polyphonic, Persephone homophonic: Le Sacre uses huge orchestra, Hitoire du soldat a very small one: Threni is triadic, Movement is not: the Rake’s Progress lasts two and a half hours, Epitaphium lasts one and quarter minutes. All are equally part of the total ouput: each has its own, unique, aesthetic raison d’etre. (from Master Musicians – Stravinksy by Francis Routh)

Balanchine and Stravinsky

One of the most fertile partnerships in all of ballet wasn’t seen on stage, but was danced behind the scenes – the collaboration of composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer George Balanchine. Both Russian artistic émigrés to the West, together they defined neoclassical ballet throughout the 20th century by forging an amazing creative bond that spanned 50 years and resulted in the creation of 30 ballets. As Charles M. Joseph shows in his fascinating study, Stravinsky and Balanchine: A Journey of Invention, both were also great showmen.

RIP György Ligeti of Mimodrama

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Gyorgi Ligeti Gyorgi Ligeti

György Ligeti, a major composer whose music became familiar to millions through the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, died today in Vienna, his publisher announced on its web site. He was 83. (via Greencine Daily)

More about his life and works from the NYtimes here.

“I am in a prison,” he once explained. “One wall is the avant-garde, the other is the past. I want to escape.”

Presto ruvido from Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (His debt to Bartók is seen in this piece, which is based on a Balkan dance.)

100 Metronomes Ligeti (youtube)
Poema Sinfonico para 100 Metronoms

“I thought of Robert Musil’s story “Flypaper,” in which a trapped insect is said to perform “endless gesticulations of despair.”
The “Poème Symphonique” is Ligeti in a nutshell. He is, first of all, one of the few major composers, modern or ancient, who are notable for a sense of humor. ” (Alex Rose, the New Yorker)

Ode to the discrepancy between word and deed

Ligeti unknowingly seems to admit this when he calls his ‘Aventures’ a ‘mimodrama’. Of old, theatre has been the natural habitat of non-musical auditory mimesis: its constituting element is dialogue, pure auditory mimesis of dialoguing dramatis personae, and also behind the scene there is ample use of auditory mimesis of a whole array of sounds: from thunder with metal plates, through wind with silk, to horse’s hooves with coconuts. (via)

An Open Letter To the Editors of the Associated Press:

While your decision to devote a fairly lengthy article to memorializing composer Gyorgi Ligeti (June 12, 2006) is admirable, especially in the current media climate where coverage of contemporary composers is so rare, the article itself had a number of disappointing and serious problems. (Posted by Galen H. Brown)

Bach, Beethoven and Glenn Gould

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Young Glenn Young Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould plays J.S.Bach Piano Concerto No.7 in G minor BW

Glenn Gould talks about Art of fugue

Gould Plays Beethoven Emperor Concerto

Glenn as Umeboshi and his idea of North.

Love, Russia and the Next Glenn Gould

  • Good night Curtain by Fung-Lin Hall

    Henry Miller’s Crossing

    Thursday, June 8th, 2006

    Jules et Jim Moreau Henry Miller Bicycles Henry Miller

    Jeanne Moreau on youtube.
    catherine: le tourbillon de la vie (text here if you want to karaoke with Jeanne)

    Henry Miller interview 1/9 (youtube)
    Came across this Henry Miller tube yesterday and it happend to be the anniversersaly of Miller’s death (June 7). For this post I will concentrate more on Miller and not on Jules et Jim. (See previous post for More Jeanne Moreau here)

    On not mixing up the two films – Jules et Jim and Henry and June.
    Note:Truffaut discovered Henri-Pierre Roche’s Jules et Jim and turned the book into a groundbraking french new wave film classic.

    Helen Hessel is the woman in Jules and Jim, the 1953 novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, and of Truffaut’s 1956 film. “I am the girl who leaped into the Seine out of spite, who married his dear, generous Jules, and who, yes, shot Jim,” confesses Helen, after having attended, incognito, the film’s premiere. (From here, An amourous cyclone: sex, art, and romance)

    Henry and June is adapted by Kaufman based on Anais Nin’s diaries.
    Uma Thurman played June Miller.

    Some misconceptions cleared by Diedre Bair about Anais Nin and her husband depicted by Philip Kaufman’s film here.

    But there are two facts that are very, very wrong and have to be corrected. One was that Anaïs Nin never, ever had a physical relationship with June Miller.
    The second thing was that Hugh Guiler, her husband, was not the buffoon, the fool , the cuckold, the stupid, silly man that Phil Kaufman turned him into in that film. Hugh Guiler was an extremely sensitive, sophisticated man who knew everything that was going on but simply chose not to see it. So those two things notwithstanding, everything else in the film was pretty accurate.

    “Henry and June” circulates as a lingerie webshop today.
    (Anais Nin and Lawrence Durrell were closest friends of Miller.
    Both writers were involved in father-daughter incest. Nin later found to be a bigamist – read Diedre Blair salon article linked above.)

    Miller and Anais onetime worked as analysts under the guidance of Otto Rank in New York City.

    Miller’s profile here.

    Excerpt from “The Colossus of Maroussi”

    One should not race along the Sacred Way in a motor-car – it is sacrilege. One should walk, walk as the men of old walked, and allow one’s whole being to become flooded with light. This is not a Christian highway; it was made by the feet of devout pagans on their way to initiation at Eleusis. There is no suffering, no martyrdom, no flagellation of the flesh connected with this processional artery.

    Everything here speaks now, as it did centuries ago, of illumination, of blinding, joyous illumination. Light acquires a transcendental quality; it is not the light of the Mediterranean alone, it is something more, something unfathomable, something holy. Here the light penetrates directly to the soul, opens the doors and windows of the heart, makes one naked, exposed, isolated in a metaphysical bliss which makes everything clear without being known. No analysis can go on in this light: here the neurotic is either instantly healed or goes mad. Miller on Eleusis

    Miller and Brassai in Paris

    Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch

    Rexroth on Miller

    It is hard to tell sometimes when Miller is being ironic and when he is being naïve. He is the master of a deadpan style, just as he has a public personality that alternates between quiet gentleness — “like a dentist,” he describes it — and a sort of deadpan buffoonery. This has led some critics to consider him a naïve writer, a “modern primitive,” like the painter Rousseau. In a sense this is true.

    Miller is a very unliterary writer. He writes as if he had just invented the alphabet. When he writes about a book, he writes as if he were the first and only man who had ever read it — and, furthermore, as if it weren’t a book but a piece of the living meat whacked off Balzac or Rimbaud or whoever.

    Miller’s watercolor and his website with more bike photo on the cover here.

    A Canadian blogger has Henry Miller Blog which was linked in my sidebar menu for quite sometime and from here you can visit Walking Paris with Miller.

    RIP Arnold Newman

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

    Here was a photographer more famous for his portraits than himself.

    kuniyoshi  francis bacon
    George Grosz (top left), Francis Bacon (right) and Kuniyoshi (below)

    “What, are you crazy?” he said, his voice ascending an octave with each syllable. “A Jew in Tunisia? To meet Ar-a-fat? What are you, crazy?” (From When Arnold met Arafat)

    Arnold NewmanArnold Newman
    3 March 1918 – 6 June 2006
    (The above photo not by A.N.)

    Portrait of Milton Avery, Mr Simplicity. (His paintings)

    Keene Observation

    Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

    Happy Birthday Donald Keene!

    Donald Keene
    Keene is 84 years old today.

    Waley had been my inspiration for years–the great translator who had rendered “The Tale of Genji” into marvellously beautiful English. He had translated not only from Japanese but also from Chinese. I also had studied Chinese along with Japanese and hoped to become the second Waley. Alas, this did not happen. The study of Japanese literature was all I could manage, and my knowledge of Chinese gradually faded away.

    Yomiuri is featuring “Autobiographical Essays” by Donald Keene on weekly basis. His childhood in Brooklyn, his meeting of Russell and Forster in England and his love of Maria Callas and opera have been covered so far.

    Donald Keene is a genius who has done more for Japanese literature and culture than anybody else in the world.

    “Unfortunately, he is not as forthcoming as one might wish about Mishima, despite the fact that he was apparently close enough to him that one of the three ‘farewell letters’ Mishima wrote was addressed to Keene. The sections are little more than sketches, but still give a decent picture of each of the authors, with contrarian Abe especially nicely presented. Amusing side-notes include the fact that when Keene first met Abe in 1964 the Japanese writer came with an interpreter — Ono Yoko (though Keene — typically — only discovered her identity years later) ” Read more here.

    Keene described Mishima as emotionally distant in private relationships. Mishima wrote everything in first draft, seldom revising. Despite his aristocratic background Mishima actually enjoyed mingling with the simple ordinary country people of Japan. Keene did his best to introduce Mishima’s works outside Japan, promoting and protecting his legacy. (Keene and Mishima were rumored to be casual lovers, or so I heard from one of his students.)

    Photo of Keene and Mishima here.

    Professor Keene is performing Kyogen dance here.

    “I wonder what feelings inspire a man to complain of “having nothing to do.” I am happiest when I have nothing to distract me and I am completely alone.
    If a man conforms to society, his mind will be captured by the filth of the outside world, and he is easily led astray; if he mingles in society, he must be careful that his words do not offend others, and what he says will not at all be what he feels in his heart. “

    In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth.

    Short Sample Essays in Idleness translated by Keene.
    In comparing Essays of Idleness to The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, Keene wrote:

    The Pillow Book was written by a court lady who delighted in every piece of gossip that came her way, but Essays in Idleness was by a Buddhist priest who, though much concerned with things of this world, was ultimately devoted to religious truth.

    One important strain in Essays in Idleness, entirely absent from the Pillow Book, is the conviction that the world is steadily growing worse. (page 854, Seeds in the Heart by Donald Keene)

    Nine translations of Basho’s Oku No Hosomichi. and my spoof on Basho and the Lost Frog here.

    Years ago, I have heard that Keene divides his time between Manhattan, Tuscany, Italy and Kyoto Japan. (Not sure of his current residency these days. )

    Donald Keene was born on June 6th 1922. He is most likely to have a moon in Aries. Sun in Germini and Moon in Aries are energetic, courageous people, John Nash (beautiful mind mathematician) and Angelina Jolie have this combo. They are eccentric and love weird stuff. Here is the description of this combination.

    Kabuki, Kyogen & Kitano

    Monday, June 5th, 2006

    Watch Kitano Tapdancing with Shamisen player. Youtube is perfect format for Takeshi Kitano, who is a master of the short skit in Kyogen tradition.
    (Tap dancing at the end of Zatoichi was just spectacular. Found an insightful review of Zatoichi by Shaviro.)

    Dolls trailer Humans are puppets (dolls) in this film, the reversal of Bunraku tradition. Poland gave this film a Grand Prix.

    Takeshi Family Game in German.

    Sumo in German (Kind of boring. Sumo skit makes a regular appearance in many Kitano films.)

    Ebizo Ichikawa Ebizo in Kabuki play. (Here he is playing a guy.)

    Ichikawa Ebizo, who brought attention to Kabuki, he is currently performing in England. A decade on, Ebizo is acknowledged as the most exciting kabuki actor of his generation. (via)

    Ebizo played Musashi for Japanese TV.

    A wonderful drawing of Musashi by a 12 years old.

    Ichikawa Ebizo
    Ebizo Ichikawa in Tea commercial (image source)

    My Foolish Post

    Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

    Played by Bill Evans***

    Sky by Fung-Lin Hall

    “He was a real Giacometti, with a face of great beauty.’
    “Between Miles and me there was a great love affair, the kind you’d want everybody to experience. Throughout our lives, we were never lost to each other”Juliet & Miles and their foolish heart Photo here.