Monday, September 19, 2022

Double Jubilee!

Emil Zatopek (19 September 1922 – 21 November 2000)

Dana Zátopková (19 September 1922 – 13 March 2020)

As the fine incorruptible gentlemen of the International Olympic Comitee would not allow to embed this video, here the link:

Emil Zátopek Wins 5,000m, 10,000m & Marathon Gold - Helsinki 1952 Olympics

And here's a fine article about Emil Zatopek and Dana Zatopkova: how a husband-and-wife team won four Olympic gold medals at the 1952 Games.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Saturday Night Music – Itzhak Perlman

 Itzhak Perlman * 31 August 1945


No rain.
Plums fall by the thousands from the trees.
What saddens us delights the bees.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXXIV – Franz Werfel

Pale Blue Ink in a Lady's Hand

Franz Werfel (10 September 1890 – 26 August 1945)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Ils ont voté

Léo Ferré (24 August 1916 – 14 July 1993)

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXXIII – Jean-Jacques Sempé

For Booklovers

I envy you ...
Like you, I would have liked to write a book ...
Just the feeling of standing out from the crowd ...

Jean-Jacques Sempé (17 August 1932 – 11 August 2022)

Monday, August 15, 2022

Monday, August 01, 2022

August beginning

Once again I feel relieved
that Fortune favours fools,
or as a German saying goes,
"Die dümmsten Bauern
ernten die größten Kartoffeln."
"The dumbest farmers
harvest the biggest potatoes".

Sometimes a saying
can be a great comfort.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Ach, Croagh Patrick!

In a few minutes it will be August. And only a few minutes ago I became aware of it is the last Sunday in July. Phew. 37 years ago on such a Sunday I climbed Croagh Patrick on my bare feet, one week after this agnostic had "made" Station Island, and thus kept a second promise I had given to myself. Lovely remembrance.

Croagh Patrick

St. Patrick's Purgatory

Station Island

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXXI – Alistair MacLeod

I like to think
that I am telling a story rather than writing it.

Alistair MacLeod (20 July 1936 – 20 April 2014)

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXX – Laurent Binet

“What would you do if you ruled the world?”
The gigolo replied that he would abolish all laws.
Barthes said: “Even grammar?”

Laurent Binet * 19 July 1972

Monday, July 18, 2022

His rainbow-loving Highness

As I read the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ)
only very irregularly, I am very much indebted
to the Russian Embassy in Bern
for threatening the newspaper with legal action
for insulting the deeply religious President of the Russian Republic and vigorous defender of orthodox christianity.

Otherwise I might never had become aware
of this fine caricature of his rainbow-loving highness.

Monday, July 04, 2022

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Sunday idyll

Whilst I was picking black currants,
the sky turned dark,
and behind my back painted this picture.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXIX – The Letters of John McGahern

I think technique can be taught but I think
the only way to learn to write is to read,
and I see writing and reading as completely related.
One almost couldn't exist without the other.

John McGahern (12 November 1934 – 30 March 2006)

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Razor-sharp insight

It is hard for me to listen to a perpetually nose-grabbing fast talker, but easy to recommend reading this article by Slavoj Žižek in the Guardian: Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXVII – Lafcadio Hearn

But what is after all the happiness of mere power?
There is a greater happiness possible
than to be lord of heaven and earth;
that is the happiness of being truly loved.

Lafcadio Hearn (17 June 1850 – 26 September 1904)

And here, one of his remarkable articles as a young reporter: Gaffeted.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXVI – Bloomsday

June 16th, Bloomsday.
But which one?
The 118th!
Well, but had "Ulysses" not been published
in 1922, thus one hundred years ago,
there would not be any.
Therefore rather the 100th.
Whereas Flann O'Brien
after the umpteenth pint of stout
might prattle:
It's the 68th.

James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941)


Leopold Bloom


Beers & Books CCXXV – Giovanni Boccaccio

Giovanni Boccaccio wondered in the middle of the 14th century "that women were so little regarded" and in response wrote a collection of witty portraits of strong-willed, influential, sometimes dangerous women.

Until his death in 1375, Boccaccio repeatedly revised his work "De mulieribus claris", a collection of over 100 portraits of famous women. Charmingly and with witty wit, he presents strong women such as Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, the prophetess Carmenta, the painter Thamaris, the orator Hortensia and Proba, the poetess. They are not always virtuous, certainly not saintly, but what they all have in common is that they prevailed in the world of men through their bravery, powers of the mind and perseverance - and so these impressive stories are still of great relevance today. For this edition, the most beautiful texts have been selected and newly translated and illustrated with the woodcuts of the first German edition (1473).   

"While farmers
generally allow one rooster for ten hens,
ten men are scarcely sufficient
to service one woman."

Giovanni Boccaccio (16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Busy days for Mr Blackbird


Busy days for Mr Blackbird
with three kids demanding to be fed.
My pleasure to support him with suppling food.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Hunger for life

Sometimes ...
there is no need for words ...

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Beers & Books CCXXI – Heinrich Mann

Der Untertan

"My father, after all, was a nationalist."
The youth of King Henri Quatre
The completion of  King Henri Quatre

"The Bourbon King (i.e. Henry Quatre)
was first ambassador of reason and human happiness."

Heinrich Mann (27 March 1871 – 11 March 1950)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Beers & Books CCXX – Gabriele Wohmann

"There's also a satisfaction
that takes place in the mind: thinking."

Gabriele Wohmann (21 May 1932 – 22 June 2015)

Friday, May 20, 2022

Monday, May 16, 2022

Beers & Books CCXVIII – Studs Terkel

We are living in the United States of Alzheimer's.
A whole country has lost its memory.
When it can't remember yesterday,
a country forgets what it once wanted to be.

Louis "Studs" Terkel
(May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008)

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Laughing Lhursday* – Salvatore Dalí

Salvador Dalí (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989)

* [For first time visitors]: Typo in the title? Nah. It's just that
I would not let a tiny T spoil an avantgardistic alliteration.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Just be clear!

with thanks to my dear friend Erkan.

Monday, May 02, 2022

250th anniversary ...

... of him who stubbed virgin soil  and planted a blue flower.  

Born May 2nd, 1772 as Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg in Oberwiederstedt Manor / Harz mountains, when choosing his pseudonym he probably bethought himself of the name his ancestors in Großenrode had kept until the sons of Bernhard de Novalis decided to take Hardenberg as their family name. And 'stubbing virgin soil' (which is the meaning of Novalis) he intended to do, this Novalis who when in May 1789 meeting Gottfried August Bürger, felt taken with this ardent advocate of a folksy poetry, but distanced himself, after he had met the Bürger-critical Friedrich von Schiller. 'Everything must be poetic', henceforth is his maxim. Less romantic contemporaries shrug off his work as fustian, others (glorifying him) explain his desire for death (Hymns to the Night) with his not getting over the death of his great love (Sophie von Kühn); but Novalis arguably did more than inventing the symbol of romanticism – the Blue Flower dreamt up by the protagonist in his fragmental novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen: Studies of law and mining, arts, science, love: the 'dreamer' , who in view of an accelerating celerity commended his contemporaries to exercise slowness, was eager for knowledge, was concerned about many things. Often disputed. Self-critical, too. And he is not given as much time as Goethe. Death comes quickly. March 25th, 1801 Novalis dies, not even 29 years old. Probably he got infected, while tending his from phtisis suffering friend Friedrich. What remains from Novalis? Much more than Pollen (Blüthenstaub)

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Beers & Books CCXVI – Giovannino Guareschi

Minutes and seconds are strictly city preoccupations.
In the city people hurry, hurry
so as not to waste a single minute,
and fail to realize
that they are throwing a lifetime away.

Giovannino Guareschi (1 May 1908 – 22 July 1968)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Rather be it Shakespeare

On Shakespeare's 458th birthday and
the 406th anniversary of either his death
and the death of Cervantes
just to wish a very special literary evening.

It's also World Book Day?

Well, yes. But isn't every day a day of the book?

Comparing the results of my recent attempts to write some sonnets myself with what I am rereading these days, I came to the conclusion, in order not to put anyone off the realm of poetry, to post rather one from the Master of Avondale.

Alack what poverty my muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside.
O blame me not if I no more can write!
Look in your glass and there appears a face,
That over-goes my blunt invention quite,
Dulling my lines, and doing me disgrace.
Were it not sinful then striving to mend,
To mar the subject that before was well?
For to no other my verses tend,
Than of your graces and your gifts to tell.
       And more, much more than in my verse can sit,
       Your own glass shows you, when you look in it

Beers & Books CCXV – Gila Lustiger


Gila Lustiger *23 April 1963

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Beers & Books CCXIII – Tausendundeine Nacht*

One Thousand and One Nights*

* Well, Two Hundred and Eighty-Two Nights, but who would mind? After all, there are but 719 nights missing.

*Nun, Zweihundertzweiundachtzig Nächte, aber wen stört das schon? Es fehlen ja nur 719 Nächte.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Who are the lower-class individuals then?

Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study 3), take valued goods from others (study 4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study 6), and endorse unethical behaviour at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favourable attitudes toward greed.
Abstract taken from here.
Supporting information here

Sunday, April 03, 2022

Friday, April 01, 2022

To those born later

To those born later

Indeed I live in dark ages!
A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
A hard heart. He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.

Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
And he who walks calmly across the street,
Is he not out of reach of his friends
In trouble?

It is true: I earn my living
But, believe me, it is only an accident.
Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
I am lost.)

They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink
When my food is snatched from the hungry
And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would gladly be wise.
The old books tell us what wisdom is:
Avoid the strife of the world
Live out your little time
Fearing no one
Using no violence
Returning good for evil --
Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
Passes for wisdom.
I can do none of this:
Indeed I live in dark ages!


I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising
And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

In my time streets led to the quicksand.
Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do. But without me
The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.


You, who shall emerge from the flood
In which we are sinking,
Think --
When you speak of our weaknesses,
Also of the dark time
That brought them forth.

For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man does help his fellow man,
Do not judge us
Too harshly.

An die Nachgeborenen


Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!

Das arglose Wort ist töricht. Eine glatte Stirn
Deutet auf Unempfindlichkeit hin. Der Lachende
Hat die furchtbare Nachricht
Nur noch nicht empfangen.

Was sind das für Zeiten, wo
Ein Gespräch über Bäume fast ein Verbrechen ist
Weil es ein Schweigen über so viele Untaten einschließt!
Der dort ruhig über die Straße geht
Ist wohl nicht mehr erreichbar für seine Freunde
Die in Not sind?

Es ist wahr: ich verdiene noch meinen Unterhalt
Aber glaubt mir: das ist nur ein Zufall. Nichts
Von dem, was ich tue, berechtigt mich dazu, mich satt zu essen.
Zufällig bin ich verschont. (Wenn mein Glück aussetzt
Bin ich verloren.)

Man sagt mir: iß und trink du! Sei froh, daß du hast!
Aber wie kann ich essen und trinken, wenn
Ich es dem Hungernden entreiße, was ich esse, und
Mein Glas Wasser einem Verdurstenden fehlt?
Und doch esse und trinke ich.

Ich wäre gerne auch weise
In den alten Büchern steht, was weise ist:
Sich aus dem Streit der Welt halten und die kurze Zeit
Ohne Furcht verbringen
Auch ohne Gewalt auskommen
Böses mit Gutem vergelten
Seine Wünsche nicht erfüllen, sondern vergessen
Gilt für weise.
Alles das kann ich nicht:
Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!


In die Städte kam ich zu der Zeit der Unordnung
Als da Hunger herrschte.
Unter die Menschen kam ich zu der Zeit des Aufruhrs
Und ich empörte mich mit ihnen.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

Mein Essen aß ich zwischen den Schlachten
Schlafen legt ich mich unter die Mörder
Der Liebe pflegte ich achtlos
Und die Natur sah ich ohne Geduld.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

Die Straßen führten in den Sumpf zu meiner Zeit
Die Sprache verriet mich dem Schlächter
Ich vermochte nur wenig. Aber die Herrschenden
Saßen ohne mich sicherer, das hoffte ich.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.

Die Kräfte waren gering. Das Ziel
Lag in großer Ferne
Es war deutlich sichtbar, wenn auch für mich
Kaum zu erreichen.
So verging meine Zeit
Die auf Erden mir gegeben war.


Ihr, die ihr auftauchen werdet aus der Flut
In der wir untergegangen sind
Wenn ihr von unseren Schwächen sprecht
Auch der finsteren Zeit
Der ihr entronnen seid.

Gingen wir doch, öfter als die Schuhe die Länder wechselnd
Durch die Kriege der Klassen, verzweifelt
Wenn da nur Unrecht war und keine Empörung.

Dabei wissen wir ja:
Auch der Haß gegen die Niedrigkeit
Verzerrt die Züge.
Auch der Zorn über das Unrecht
Macht die Stimme heiser. Ach, wir
Die wir den Boden bereiten wollten für Freundlichkeit
Konnten selber nicht freundlich sein.

Ihr aber, wenn es soweit sein wird
Daß der Mensch dem Menschen ein Helfer ist
Gedenkt unsrer
Mit Nachsicht.

Bertold Brecht (10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956)

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Beers & Books CCVIII – Joseph Roth

"Die ukrainische Volkskunst ist eine ganz eigene,
mit stark ausgeprägten Kennzeichen,
und hat weder mit der russischen
noch mit der polnischen
oder tatarischen etwas gemeinsam."

Neue Berliner Zeitung – 12 Uhr Blatt, 13. Dezember 1920
"Украинское народное искусство является собственным,
с очень четкими характеристиками,
и не имеет ничего общего с русским,
польским или татарским народным искусством."

Neue Berliner Zeitung - 12-часовой лист, 13 декабря 1920 года
"Ukrainian folk art is entirely its own,
with strongly marked characteristics,
and has nothing in common
with either Russian, Polish or Tartar."

Neue Berliner Zeitung - 12 o'clock paper, 13 December 1920

Joseph Roth (2 September 1894 – 27 May 1939)

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Saturday Night Music – The Great Gate of Kiev

The Bogatyr Gates or The Great Gate of Kiev
from Pictures at an Expedition

Modest Mussorgsky (21 March 1839 – 28 March 1881)

Viktor Hartmann
(5 May 1834 – 4 August 1873

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Saturday Night Music – Fazil Say

Fazil Say *14 January 1970

March 5th: Fine date for a tyrannicide

5 March. Ten days to the Ides, when, according to Shakespeare, 2066 years ago Caesar asked incredulously: 'Et tu, Brutus?'
"What do you think about Putin?" I ask my friend who, as almost always, is busy proofreading his 1669 pages short opus magnum 'Pre-Assyrian Philately in a Nutshell'.

Tetrapilotomos, without looking up:
- I would have expected Vladimir Putler to march into Kiev sitting on the pipe of the lead tank. Then the little prick could at least have shown the world once that he has a giant pipe.
- Putler?
- Well, or Hitin, if you prefer. Riding in bare-chested on a Sibirian tiger would of course be even cooler. But the pants poisoner is too cowardly to do both. By the way, today is the 69th anniversary of Stalin's death.
- Ach, indeed? Why do you mention this?
- A fine date for a tyrannicide, wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

The Moonlight is speechless ...

... and so am I, almost, on the first anniversary of Claude's death, which is why I let her speak.
She sent me this poem in December 2018.

She worked hard at being able
to think THINK instead of PENSER
to write a flawless letter to England as well as to France
to add Shelley to Lamartine
to exude Gallic charm mixed with British romanticism
she studied books and dictionaries
she travelled far and she lived everywhere
she met dignitaries and the people next door
she reached French and English fluency
in her dreams, tears and laughter
and when she wore this two-colour dress with elegance
she discovered
that the heart has no language, no culture of its own
The moonlight is speechless...
stars in one's eyes mean more than "Je t'aime, beloved"
and two clasped hands across a table
across a warm sea of silence
can tear down
better than a thousand well-chosen words
the tower of babel
one erects every day in one's soul.
CPG     (1970)

Thank you for everyting, Claude. De tout coeur.