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Russian Sonia

Maciek Lesniak

I, born in Weimar
Of a mother who was French
And German father, a most learned professor,
Orphaned at fourteen years,
Became a dancer, known as Russian Sonia,
All up and down the boulevards of Paris,
Mistress betimes of sundry dukes and counts,
And later of poor artists and of poets.
At forty years, passée, I sought New York
And met old Patrick Hummer on the boat,
Red-faced and hale, though turned his sixtieth year,
Returning after having sold a ship-load
Of cattle in the German city, Hamburg.
He brought me to Spoon River and we lived here
For twenty years – they thought that we were married!
This oak tree near me is the favorite haunt
Of blue jays chattering, chattering all day.
And why not? for my very dust is laughing
For thinking of the humorous thing called life.

taken from Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters, 1915

George Gray


I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Or restlessness and vague desire-
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Taken from Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters, 1915

The Amerikan Dream

Ho deciso, parto. Di tutti i viaggi a ritroso nel tempo ho scelto quello più lungo e romantico, saturo d’attese e vane aspettative, lontano un secolo e destinato a condurmi oltreoceano in meno di 350 pagine. Vado in America, vado a New York. L’occasione è un pretesto, il centoventinovesimo compleanno di Kafka, che per festeggiare l’evento ha organizzato un’adunata di soli cancerini alienati, Karl Rossmann in testa, cacciato via di casa dai genitori per aver ingravidato la cameriera. Tratterebbesi di un’allegra brigata di scalmanati ansiosi, disoccupati, lunatici e disillusi, con in mano una valigia di cartone e in testa la chiara idea di sparire tra le pagine di un romanzo. Si parte

Statue of Liberty, New York, 1930, photographed by Margaret Bourke-White

Capitolo I
Il Fochista

Quando il sedicenne Karl Rossmann, che era stato mandato in America dai suoi poveri genitori, perchè una serva lo aveva sedotto ed aveva avuto un bambino da lui, entrò nel porto di New York sulla nave che aveva già rallentato, scorse la Statua della Libertà che aveva avvistato da tempo, come in una luce solare divenuta improvvisamente più intensa. Il braccio con la spada sembrava ergersi come in quel momento, e le libere auree spiravano intorno alla sua figura.
‘Com’è alta!’ si disse, e non pensando affatto ad andarsene, fu spinto a poco a poco fino al parapetto della folla sempre più numerosa dei facchini che gli sfilavano davanti.
Un giovanotto che aveva conosciuto superficialmente durante la traversata, passando gli chiese: ‘Così non ha ancora voglia di scendere?”Sono già pronto’disse Karl e rideva guardandolo, quindi con prepotenza, poichè era un giovane robusto, si sollevò la valigia sulla spalla. Ma guardando il suo conoscente, il quale facendo oscillare un po’ il bastone si allontanava con gli altri, si accorse costernato di aver dimenticato il proprio ombrello di sotto nella nave. Pregò il conoscente, che non sembrò esserne così contento, di essere tanto gentile da aspettare un momento accanto alla sua valigia, si guardò in giro per poter ritrovare la strada al ritorno, e si allontanò in fretta. Di sotto con suo grande rammarico, trovò chiuso per la prima volta un passaggio che avrebbe accorciato molto la sua strada, cosa questa che probabilmente si spiegava con lo sbarco di tutti i passeggeri, e dovette con fatica cercare le scale, che si susseguivano sempre l’una all’altra, attraverso corridoi che svoltavano in continuazione, per una cabina vuota con una scrivania abbandonata, fino a che si ritrovò oggettivamente e del tutto perduto, perchè aveva percorso quella strada una volta soltanto o forse due e sempre accompagnato da qualcun’ altro.
Nella sua perplessità e non incontrando nessuno, poichè sentiva sempre di continuo sopra di sè lo scalpiccio di migliaia di piedi, e avvertiva da lontano come un rantolo, gli ultimi rumori delle macchine che già sospendevano i lavori, cominciò senza pensarci su, a battere contro una porticina a caso, accanto alla quale si era fermato nel suo girovagare.
‘E’ aperto’ sentì urlare all’interno, e Karl aprì la porta con un sincero sospiro di sollievo.’Perchè batte così forte alla porta? chiese un uomo enorme, guardando appena verso Karl. Attraverso una qualche apertura situata in alto, si versava nella misera cabina una luce offuscata, come se si fosse a lungo consumata di sopra sulla nave, e in questa cabina c’erano un letto, un armadio, una sedia e l’uomo stretti, come stivati, l’uno accanto all’altro. ‘Mi sono perso’disse Karl,’durante il viaggio non avevo affatto notato che questa nave fosse così spaventosamente grande.’ ‘Si, ha ragione’, disse l’uomo con un certo orgoglio e non smetteva di armeggiare intorno alla serratura di una piccola valigia, che teneva sempre pigiata con entrambe le mani per sentire lo scatto della molla. ‘Ma venga dentro!’ disse ancora l’uomo, ‘Non vorrà rimanere di fuori!’ ‘Non disturbo?’, chiese Karl. ‘Ma come potrebbe disturbare?’ ‘Lei è tedesco?’ cercò di rassicurarsi Karl, poichè aveva sentito molte cose sui pericoli che minacciavano quelli che erano appena arrivati in America, specialmente da parte degli Irlandesi. ‘Lo sono, lo sono’, rispose l’uomo. Karl non era ancora sicuro. Allora improvvisamente l’uomo afferrò la maniglia e si tirò dentro Karl insieme alla porta che richiuse rapidamente. ‘Non sopporto che mi si guardi dal corridoio’ disse l’uomo e armeggiò ancora con la valigia. ‘Ognuno cammina qui davanti e guarda dentro, non so chi potrebbe soffrirlo!’ ‘ Ma il corridoio è del tutto vuoto’, disse Karl che stava in piedi in una scomoda posizione, schiacciato contro il letto. ‘Sicuro, adesso’ disse l’uomo. ‘Si tratta proprio di adesso infatti’, pensò Karl, ‘è duro parlare con quest’uomo.’ ‘Si stenda pure sul letto, così avrà più spazio’ disse l’uomo. Come meglio potè, Karl si arrampicò dentro e rise forte del suo primo tentativo di saltar su. Appena però fu sul letto, escalmò:’Per l’amor del cielo, ho dimenticato la mia valigia’ ‘E dove sta?’ ‘Di sopra in coperta, un conoscente me la guarda. Già come si chiama?’. E tirò fuori dalla sua tasca segreta, che sua madre gli aveva cucita all’interno della giacca, un biglietto da visita. ‘Buttermann, Franz Buttermann’. ‘Ha proprio bisogno della valigia?’ ‘Si capisce’ ‘Già, perchè allora l’ha affidata ad un estraneo?’ ‘Avevo dimenticato di sotto il mio ombrello e sono corso a prenderlo, ma non volevo trascinarmi dietro anche la valigia. Poi per giunta mi sono anche perduto.’ ‘E’ solo? Senza compagnia?’ ‘Si, solo’ ‘Forse dovrei rimanere accanto a quest’uomo’ passò per la testa di Karl, ‘dove lo trovo adesso un amico migliore.’ ‘E adesso ha perduto anche la valigia. Per non parlare dell’ombrello.’ E l’uomo si sedette sulla sedia, come se per lui gli interessi di Karl avessero acquistato un certo interesse. ‘Veramente credo che la valigia non sia ancora perduta’ ‘Credere fa bene’, disse l’uomo e si grattò vigorosamente tra i suoi capelli scuri, corti e fitti, ‘su di una nave, a seconda dei porti, cambiano anche le abitudini. Il suo Buttermann ad Amburgo avrebbe forse guardato la sua valigia, qui è molto probabile che non ci sia più traccia di entrambi.’ ‘Allora dovrei subito andare a vedere di sopra’, disse Karl e si guardò intorno per capire come poteva scendere giù. ‘Rimanga lì’, disse l’uomo e con la mano sul suo petto lo spinse sul letto piuttosto rudemente. ‘perchè poi?’ domandò Karl arrabbiato. ‘Perchè non ha alcun senso’ rispose l’uomo, ‘se aspetta un momento vengo anch’io, così andiamo insieme. Nel caso che la valigia sia stata rubata, allora non ci si può far niente, ma se quell’uomo l’ha lasciata stare, allora potremmo trovarla meglio quando la nave sarà del tutto vuota. E così anche il suo ombrello.’ ‘Si sa orientare su questa nave?’ domandò Karl piuttosto scettico, e gli sembrava che quel pensiero abbastanza persuasivo, che le sue cose si sarebbero trovate meglio sulla nave vuota, nascondesse qualcosa di poco chiaro. ‘Io sono fochista’, disse l’uomo. ‘Lei è fochista!’ si rallegrò Karl, come se questo superasse tutte le sue aspettative, e poggiandosi sul gomito, osservò l’uomo più da vicino. ‘Proprio dalla cabina nella quale dormivo con lo slovacco, c’era un boccaporto dal quale si poteva vedere nelle sale macchine. ‘Si, lavoravo proprio lì’ disse il fochista. ‘Mi sono sempre interessato alla tecnica,’ disse Karl, che rimaneva fisso ad un preciso pensiero, ‘ e in seguito sarei diventato ingegnere, se non fossi dovuto partire per l’America’ ‘Ma perchè è dovuto partire?’ ‘Ah, macchè!’ disse Karl e con la mano gettò via l’intera storia. Frattanto guardava sorridendo il fochista, come per pregarlo di essere indulgente per quello che non poteva dire. ‘Avrà pure un motivo’, disse il fochista e non si sapeva bene, se con questo volesse chiedere o rifiutasse il racconto di questo motivo. ‘Adesso potrei anche diventare fochista’, disse Karl, ‘per i miei genitori adesso è del tutto indifferente, quello che diventerò.’ ‘Il mio posto si libera’ disse il fochista, e in questa piena consapevolezza, si mise le mani nelle tasche dei calzoni, e gettò sul letto le gambe, coperte da pantaloni a pieghe, simili a cuoio, di color grigioferro, e si distese. Karl dovette farsi indietro fino alla parete. ‘Lascia la nave?’ ‘ Certo, siamo in congedo da oggi.’ ‘Ma perchè, non le piaceva?’ ‘Si, ma dipende dai rapporti, non è sempre determinante quello che piace o che non piace. Del resto ha ragione, non mi piace. Lei non pensa seriamente a diventare fochista, ma proprio per questo lo si può diventare facilmente. Ma io glielo sconsiglio. Se in Europa lei voleva studiare, perchè non vuole farlo qui? Le università americane sono incomparabilmente migliori delle europee.’ ‘E’ possibile’ disse Karl, ‘ma io non ho abbastanza denaro per studiare. Ho letto però di qualcuno, che di giorno lavorava in un negozio, e di notte studiava, finchè è diventato dottore e credo anche sindaco, ma questo è proprio di una grande costanza, non è vero? Temo di non averne. Inoltre non ero uno scolaro particolarmente brillante, non è stato affatto duro per me lasciare la scuola. E le scuole qui sono anche più severe. L’inglese lo so quasi per niente. Soprattutto credo che qui si sia prevenuti contro gli stranieri.’ ‘L’ha già notato? Allora va bene. E l’uomo adatto a me, siamo su di una nave tedesca, appartiene alla ‘Hamburg – Amerika Linie’, perchè non ci sono solo tedeschi? Perchè il capo macchina è un romeno? Si chiama Schubal. E’ da non crederci. E questa canaglia scortica noi tedeschi su di una nave tedesca. Non creda che io mi lamenti tanto per lamentarmi – gli mancava l’aria e l’agitava con la mano -. So che lei non ha nessuna influenza e che è soltanto un povero ragazzo. Ma questo è troppo!’ E più volte battè il pugno sul tavolo, e mentre batteva non staccava gli occhi dalla mano. ‘Ho prestato servizio su tante navi’ – e nominò una ventina di nomi uno appresso all’altro, come una sola parola, Karl era del tutto confuso – ‘ e mi sono sempre comportato magnificamente, sono stato lodato, ero un lavoratore secondo il gusto dei capitani, e per parecchi anni sono stato sullo stesso mercantile a vela’ – e si alzò come se questo fosse stato il punto più alto della sua vita – ‘ e qui su questa bagnarola, dove tutto va secondo il suo filo, dove non si richiede nessuna intelligenza, qui non conto nulla, qui sto sempre tra i piedi a Schubal, sono un buono a nulla, mi merito di essere buttato fuori e ricevo il mio salario per grazia. Capisce? Io no.’ ‘Questo Lei non deve permetterlo’, disse Karl agitato. Aveva quasi perduta la sensazione di trovarsi sul pavimento insicuro di una nave, sulle coste di un continente sconosciuto, tanto a suo agio si trovava sul letto del fochista come a casa sua. ‘E’ stato già dal capitano? Ha cercato di far valere i suoi diritti con lui?’ ‘Ah, se ne vada, è meglio che se ne vada. Non voglio più averla qui. Lei non ascolta ciò che io dico e mi dà consigli. Come potrei andare dal capitano!’ e nascondendo il viso tra le mani, il fochista si mise di nuovo a sedere.
‘Non potevo dargli un consiglio migliore’ si disse Karl. E trovò che sarebbe molto meglio andare a riprendersi la valigia, piuttosto che restare lì a dare consigli, che erano per giunta ritenuti stupidi. Quando il padre gli aveva dato per sempre la valigia, aveva chiesto per scherzo: ‘Quanto ti durerà?’e adesso questa preziosa valigia era forse già perduta sul serio. L’unica consolazione era pur sempre che il padre non sarebbe stato informato dell’attuale situazione, neanche se avesse voluto prendere informazioni. La Società di Navigazione avrebbe potuto soltanto dire che egli era sbarcato a New York.

Da Amerika, Franz Kafka, 1927

On Eadweard Muybridge

Woman Brushing Her Hair, Eadweard Muybridge, 1887

Eadweard Muybridge was born Edward Muggeridge to a merchant family in Kingston upon Thames, England on April 9th 1830. Before his death in 1903, Muybridge would emigrate to America, change his name three times, come close to death and suffer brain damage in a carriage accident. Perhaps most sensationally, he would also be acquitted for the murder of Major Harry Larkyns, his wife’s lover, and the true father of his presumed son Floredo Helios Muybridge.

In fact, Muybridge enjoyed a professional life which may even have surpassed his sensational personal biography. He gained fame through adventurous and progressive landscape photography before working as a war and official government photographer; something which took him from the Lava beds of California during the Modoc War to Alaska and Central America.

Furthermore, Muybridge was instrumental in the development of instantaneous photography. To accomplish his famous motion sequence photography, Muybridge even designed his own high speed electronic shutter and electro-timer, to be used alongside a battery of up to twenty-four cameras!

While Muybridge’s motion sequences helped revolutionise still photography, the resultant photographs also punctuated the history of the motion picture. Muybridge actually came tantalisingly close to producing cinema himself with his projection device the ‘Zoöpraxiscope’. With this device, Muybridge lectured across Europe and America, using the Zoöpraxiscope to animate sequences from his motion studies.

One of the most fascinating things about Muybridge however, and something we hope to highlight here, is the relation of his body of work and working attitude to the equally astounding times in which he lived.

The 19th century, undoubtedly one of the most formative of the modern Western world, was as bent on progress, invention and innovation as Muybridge. Muybridge’s capacity for entrepreneurialism and progressive practice meant he invented photographic and moving image projection techniques which have helped build the motion picture industry we enjoy today. However, it also meant he documented some of the major events, and more subtly, the cultural and social landscape of the 19th century.

via Eadweard Muybridge Collections

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, Number 8, 1949 (detail)

“On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally in the painting.”
-Jackson Pollock, 1947

Pollock, Jackson (1912-56), the chief American exponent of ACTION PAINTING, made studies for his apparently unpremeditated works, done on continuous lengths of canvas tacked to the floor, and later cut up with selective care. He abandoned the use of brushes in 1947, pouring the paint straight on to the canvas, but in 1953 he began to employ brushes again. He said of his paintings (1951):
‘I don’t work from drawings or color sketches. My painting is direct.. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.. When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about, I can control the flow of paint: there is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.’
He used metallic paints and ordinary commercial synthetic enamel and plastic paint, with results that are already unfortunate. There are examples in London (Tate), Rio de Janeiro and many US museums.
Taken from ‘Dictionary of Art and Artists, by Peter and Linda Murray, 1959

Dorothea Tanning | Art and design | The Guardian

Eine Klein Nachtmusik by Dorothea Tanning, 1946

The American artist Dorothea Tanning, who has died aged 101, was a talented painter whose reputation was confounded by her long marriage to the great surrealist Max Ernst. He figures prominently in her autobiography Birthday (1986), but Tanning was not an acolyte or imitator of Ernst. Her own vivid, dreamlike images are highly distinctive, more gothic than surreal.
via Dorothea Tanning obituary | Art and design | The Guardian.

Dennis Stock

Paris, Cafe de Flore, 1958.Dennis Stock
USA. A couple with a child, 1952. Dennis Stock
James Dean, 1955. Dennis Stock
James Dean, 1955. Dennis Stock
Arthur Miller, 1956. Dennis Stock
Bill Crow with his bass, Times Square, 1958. Dennis Stock
Miles Davis, 1957. Dennis Stock
Thelonious Monk in performance at Town Hall, New York, 1957. Dennis Stock
San Diego coastline, 1968. Dennis Stock

USA. California. 1968. Venice Beach Rock Festival. Dennis Stock
California Trip, 1968. Dennis Stock
A surfer at Corona del Mar, California, 1968. Dennis Stock

“Art is a well-articulated manifestation of an aspect of life. I have been privileged to view much of life through my cameras, making the journey an enlightened experience. My emphasis has mainly been on affirmative reactions to human behavior and a strong attraction to the beauty in nature.”

Dennis Stock
[via Magnum Photo]

I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am*

Luis Camnitzer, 1966

Luis Camnitzer has been until very recently an insider’s tip in the field of conceptual art. He may be considered one of the art world‘s key figures in the second half of the 20th century.
Luis Camnitzer was born in Germany in 1937, grew up in Montevideo, and has lived and worked in New York since 1964. He has made his mark internationally not only as an artist but as a critic, educator and art theorist as well. Formally allied with the American Conceptualists of the 1960s and 1970s, over the past 50 years Camnitzer has developed an essentially autonomous œuvre, unmistakably distinguished from that of his colleagues in the US by its acutely observed detail, its acerbic wit, its ludic-lyrical qualities and its ironically metaphorical polyvalence, as well as by its solid socio-political commitment.
Viewers are treated to a pyrotechnical display of intellect: an unusually coherent and principled corpus that is at the same time possessed of a rakish charm and poetic maturity.

Be Sexy, Be Cool, Be Smart, Be Rich, Always Be Yourself.


Qualche tempo fa mi capitò leggere un saggio circa la vita di Barack Obama; ancora prima di essere eletto presidente degli Stati Uniti, quando ancora nel 2004 si presentò candidato al Senato Federale, Barack Obama, ottenuta la vittoria alle primarie democratiche e affermatosi figura di spicco nel partito Democratico, terrà un discorso,keynote address, nel quale farà riferimento alla prefazione della Dichiarazione d’Indipendenza degli Stati Uniti d’America, documento firmato il 4 luglio 1776,che vuole 13 delle colonie britanniche dell’America Settendrionale indipendenti dall’Impero Britannico. Dice Barack Obama
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
E continua il testo della Dichiarazione
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Questo il preambolo della Dichiarazione,il fulcro di un testamento universale: agli uomini spettano diritti, quando un governo viola questi diritti,gli uomini hanno il diritto, fra gli altri, di modificare o abolire, alter or abolish, quel governo.
Questo, anche, il principio che definisce the Right of revolution, curiosamente in italiano tradotto Diritto di Resistenza, e cito da wikipedia*
Il diritto di resistenza discende anche dal contrattualismo e dalla teoria politica di John Locke [..] Se i governanti calpestano i diritti naturali, vengono meno i fondamenti del patto e si configura il diritto del popolo a resistere.
Right of revolution, o right of rebellion-in inglese;diritto di resistenza-in italiano.
Chiedo a mister wikipedia di spiegarmi cosa intende per right of revolution,e questi mi risponde
-In political philosophy, the right of revolution (or right of rebellion) is the right or duty, variously stated throughout history, of the people of a nation to overthrow a government that acts against their common interests. Belief in this right extends back to ancient China, and it has been used throughout history to justify various rebellions, including the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
Dunque il diritto di rivoluzione, o diritto di ribellione, sarebbe, secondo la filosofia politica, il diritto del popolo di una nazione a rovesciare (ribaltare) un governo che agisce contro l’interesse comune.
Secondo la dichiarazione di indipendenza,io, giovane donna americana, ho il diritto di ribellione, il diritto di ribellarmi. Suona bene. Suona liberatorio. Qualcuno stabilisce ribellarsi è un diritto, e io che sono incazzata, mi ribello, ho diritto a incazzarmi e a ribellarmi. Se non da sola, insieme a un gruppo di altri incazzati e ribelli, io ho il diritto a ribaltare un governo.
Mi chiedo cosa manca, allora, a rendere un diritto,il dovere.Cosa trattiene ciascuno dall’esercitare questo diritto.Cosa trattiene ciascuno dall’esercitare questo dovere.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Vita.Libertà.Ricerca della Felicità.Valori universali,patrimonio dell’umanità tutta.
Mi pare di sentire Peter Finch in Quinto Potere ( e mi esalto)
Sono incazzata nera, e tutto questo non l’accetterò più!
Ahh liberatorio
La settimana scorsa sono stata a un meeting di lavoro; la compagnia ne organizza uno al mese in ognuno degli stores.Gli argomenti trattati durante il meeting ruotano intorno certi aggiornamenti promozionali introdotti nel mercato dalla compagnia( offerte, lancio nuovi prodotti, promozioni, aggiornamento prezzi [da un anno a questa parte pari l’inflazione in rialzo nel mercato di tutto il paese. In parole concrete, un aumento- leggevo sull’Indipendent- pari a qualcosa come da 5 a 15 p sulla maggior parte dei prodotti alimentari e da distribuzione. Aumentati anche i costi degli affitti e dei trasporti. Qui Uk]) e altre rotture che riguardano più nello specifico l’andamento dello store, del team.
L’altra sera argomento centrale del meeting, l’ottimizzazione dei tempi di lavoro.
Bisogna ottimizzare i tempi. Metti il tempo un’arancia e i minuti gli spicchi. Bisogna che noi si sprema gli spicchi di quell’arancia fino all’ultima delle gocce e alla metà dei secondi necessari a farlo.Se per fare un espresso ci vogliono 15 secondi-15,in ordine all’ottimizzazione dei tempi,io, in 15 secondi devo:

1)attenermi alle 4 golden priorities dell’Onnisciente Barista (customer is the King,on top)
2)seguire diligentemente i 6 customer service steps
3)prendere altre 3 ordinazioni
4)far pagare il cliente
5)timbrargli la loyalty card
6) augurargli una buona giornata
e who is the next? avanti un altro
Questo vuol dire, ottimizzare i tempi. Quindici secondi moltiplicato 2 fa mezzo minuto, mezzo minuto moltiplicato 2 fa un minuto. Un minuto moltiplicato 60 fa un’ora, un’ora moltiplicata 8 fa 28800 secondi che mi spremono come un’arancia, al minimo sindacale e al massimo dell’imbarbarimento, selvaggio, nevrotico,bulimico,del capitalismo aziendale. 28800 secondi che mi spremo le meningi e immagino altrove, da qualche parte al sicuro,metti in montagna, in giacca di lana e berretto, a raccogliere funghi e castagne.Aria pulita, silenzio intorno, appena il tossio del vento nell’aria fresca, pace dentro. Simbiosi. Osmosi. Armonia.Che meraviglia.
Certi giorni è un calvario. Lo store in cui lavoro si trova a due passi da una stazione metro e ficcato nel cuore di un quartiere commerciale, uffici intorno, e banche, tante
banche ovunque banche. Banche e banche. L’80 % almeno dei clienti è impiegata nel settore commerciale, finanziario,redditizzio; l’80 % almeno dei clienti conclude affari al bar. Tra un cappuccino, un americano, una chocolate cheesecake, un apple and cinnammon muffin.
Io me li vedo passare davanti tutti, in processione ordinata, con al collo un cappio e in valigetta l’ultima dose buona di cocaina. Drogati di lavoro, di successo, di fama, di denaro.
Produrre Incrementare Ottimizzare Ridurre Accellerare
Strategia Successo Standards Soldi
Produci Consuma Mangia Ammalati
Se è vero che la classe operaia va in paradiso, non resta che di morire e finalmente felici,in linea con gli standards e la dichiarazione.E Amen.
C’è un libro, attento, cerebrale, che ho da poco finito di leggere e trovato incredibilmente interessante; il titolo White Noise, l’autore Don DeLillo, americano di New York; White Noise, d’avvio al realismo isterico nel genere letterario, non si risparmia dal rovistare,a mani nude e con fare analitico, nel torbido della psiche umana,lì dove marciano assurdo e paradossi della società contemporanea. Sebbene scritto nel 1985, White Noise risulta quanto mai attuale, anzi sembra addirittura profetizzare, anticipare i tempi, alla maniera di Orwell in 1984.Leggere White Noise è come riabituare gli occhi alla vista (di ciò che non risulta visibile, ma c’è, è presente, e condiziona la vita di ciascuno)e la mente all’osservazione critica del reale.
Il plot vuole una famiglia americana, allargata, composta da un accademico (Hitler il corso di studi tenuto dal professore), una moglie-regina del focolare domestico, 6 figli. Sottofondo la quotidianità di questa famiglia, l’isteria del capitalismo commerciale,l’impulso all’acquisto convulsivo, bulimico, veicolato, somatico; l’isteria dei sistemi mediatici, la spettacolarizzazione del dolore, dell’assurdo, il diffondersi di un’epidemia sociale, virus panico, ansia, l’onnisciente timore di ammalarsi e morire, ancora l’esplosione di un vagone merci trasportante sostanze chimiche, sintomi deja vu e mancata consapevolezza del reale.A mio avviso un libro meravigliso.
Questa una scheda interessante del libro, in italiano (via casa80.it)
Rumore Bianco (Don DeLillo).
Sotto una parte del libro, tratta dal diciassettesimo capitolo, in inglese

[…]
The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps something even deeper, like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into the nature of things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works toward sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the lasts developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.
In a huge hardware store at the mall I saw Eric Massingale, a former microchip sales engineer who changed his life by coming out here to join the teaching staff of the computer center at the Hill. He was slim and pale, with a dangerous grin.
“You’re not wearing dark glasses, Jack.”
“I only wear them on campus.”
“I get it.”
We went our separate ways into the store’s deep interior. A great echoing din, as of the extinction of a species of beast, filled the vast space. People bought twenty-two-foot ladders, six kinds of sandpaper, power saws that could fell trees. The aisles were long and bright, filled with oversized brooms, massive sacks of peat and dung, huge Rubbermaid garbage cans. Rope hung like tropical fruits, beautifully braded strands, thick, brown, strong. What a great thing a coil of rope is to look at and feel. I bought fifty feet of Manila hemp just to have it around, show it to my son, talk about where it comes from, how it’s made. People spoke English, Hindi, Vietnamese, related tongues.
I ran into Massingale again at the cash terminals.
“I’ve never seen you off campus, Jack. You look different without your glasses and gown. Where did you get the sweater? Is that a Turkish army sweater? Mail order, right?”
He looked me over, felt the material of the water- repellent jacket I was carrying draped across my arm. Then he backed up, altering his perspective, nodding a little, his grin beginning to take on a self-satisfied look, reflecting some inner calculation.
“I think I know those shoes,” he said.
What did he mean, he knew these shoes?
“You’re a different person altogether.”
“Different in what way, Eric?”
“You won’t take offense?” he said, the grin turning lascivious, rich with secret meaning.
“Of course not. Why would I?”
“Promise you won’t take offense.”
“I won’t take offense.”
“You look so harmless, Jack. A big harmless, aging, indistinct, sort of guy.”
“Why would I take offense?” I said, paying for my rope and hurrying out the door.
The encounter put me in the mood to shop. I found the others and we walked across two parking lots to the main structure in the Mid- Village Mall, a ten-story building arranged around a center court of waterfalls, promenades and gardens, Babette and the kids followed me into the elevator, into the shops set along the tiers, through the emporiums and department stores, puzzled but excited by my desire to buy. When I could not decide between two shirts, they encouraged me to buy both. When I said I was hungry, they fed me pretzels, beer, souvlaki. The two girls scouted ahead, spotting things they thought I might want or need, running back to get me, to clutch my arms, plead with me to follow. They were my guides to endless well-being. People swarmed through the boutiques and gourmet shops. Organ music rose from the great court. We smelled chocolate, popcorn, cologne; we smelled rugs and furs, hanging salamis and deathly vinyl. My family gloried in the event. I was one of them, shopping, at last. They gave me advice, badgered clerks on my behalf. I kept seeing myself unexpectedly in some reflecting surface. We moved from store to store, rejecting not only items in certain departments, not only entire departments but whole stores, mammoth corporations that did not strike our fancy for one reason or another. There was always another store, three floors, eight floors, basement full of cheese graters and paring knives. I shopped with reckless abandon. I shopped for immediate needs and distant contingencies. I shopped for its own sake, looking and touching, inspecting merchandise I had no intention of buying, then buying it. I sent clerks into their fabric books and pattern books to search for elusive designs. I began to grow in value and self-regard. I filled myself out, found new aspects of myself, located a person I’d forgotten existed. Brightness settled around me. We crossed from furniture to men’s wear, walking through cosmetics. Our images appeared on mirrored columns, in glassware and chrome, on TV monitors in security rooms. I traded money for goods. The more money I spent, the less important it seemed. I was bigger than these sums. These sums poured off my skin like so much rain. These sums in fact came back to me in the form of existential credit. I felt expansive, inclined to be sweepingly generous, and told the kids to pick out their Christmas gifts here and now. I gestured in what I felt was an expensive manner. I could tell they were impressed. They fanned out across the area, each of them suddenly inclined to be private, shadowy, even secretive. Periodically one of them would return to register the name of an item with Babette, careful not to let the others know what it was. I myself was not to be bothered with tedious details. I was the benefactor, the one who dispenses gifts, bonuses, bribes, baksheesh. The children knew it was the nature of such things that I could not be expected to engage in technical discussions about the gifts themselves. We ate another meal. A band played live Muzak. Voices rose ten stories from the gardens and promenades, a roar that echoed and swirled through the vast gallery, mixing with noises from the tiers, with shuffling feet and chiming bells, the hum of escalators, the sound of people eating, the human buzz of some vivid and happy transaction.
We drove home in silence. We went to our respective rooms, wishing to be alone. A little later I watched Steffie in front of the TV set. She moved her lips, attempting to match the words as they were spoken.

taken from seventeenth White Noise chapter,by Don DeLillo, 1985


street photography by Markus Hartel, New York

DANNY LYON

Inside Kathy's Apartment, Danny Lyon
Jack, Chicago from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon,1965
From Dayton to Columbus, Ohio from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon circa 1965-66
From Lindsey's room, Louisville from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon,1966
New arrivals from Corpus Christi from Conversations with the Dead by Danny Lyon,circa 1967-68
New York Eddie's, Chicago from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon,circa 1965-66
Renegade's funeral, Detroit from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon,circa 1965-66
Route 12, Wisconsin from The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon 1963
Three young men, Uptown, Chicago Pictures from the New World by Danny Lyon,1965
Young man, Hyde Park, Chicago from Toward a Social Landscape by Danny Lyon,1965

White Bicycles

UFO Club ticket, published on the cover of International Times,Feb 1967

The Sixties began in the summer of 1956,ended in October of 1973 and peaked just before dawn on 1 july,1967 during a set by Tomorrow at the UFO Club in London
detto fatto,Joe Boyd lascia White Bicycles pedalare indietro di quarant’anni per le Swinging streets di una London in piena rivoluzione culturale. Semmai vi chiedeste cosa questo abbia potuto significare, Boyd ve lo racconta e dalle quinte di un piccolo club in Tottenham Court Road; LSD, Psychedelia e Rock,mods hippies hipsters e groupies, Folk and Funk and Blues: The Sixties,folks
Pink Floyd,Soft Machine,The Incredible String Band,John Martin,Fairport Convention,Nick Drake fra gli artisti che Joe Boyd lancia in pista in qualità di produttore discografico e dj; centinaia i concerti organizzati in Inghilterra e America; the Purple Gang,Procol Harum, Pretty Things, Jeff Beck,Ten Years Later, Tomorrow, le bands e i solisti presenti alle serate dell’UFO-Tottenham Court Road palcoscenico di uno spettacolo epocale,la musica si sveste finalmente del pudore,osceno e adolescenziale,degli swinging e si scopre a ballare nuda per strada, più che mai irriverente e smaliziata.
Make love,not riots-avrebbero detto allora
Sotto una parte del libro tratta dal primo capitolo

The Sixties began in the summer of 1956,ended in October of 1973 and peaked just before dawn on 1 july,1967 during a set by Tomorrow at the UFO Club in London.
John Hopkins and I had launched the weekly UFO events at an Irish dance hall in Tottenham Court Road just before Christmas in 1966,and they had quickly become the hub of psychedelic London. BY April,our resident attraction,Pink Floyd,had outgrown us,so I was always on the lookout for new groups. I saw Tomorrow at Blaises one night and thought they were pretty good.When they made their UFO debut on 19 May it was love at first sight between them and our audience. Steve Howe,later to make his name and fortune with Yes, played guitar, while Twink, a key figure in the genesis of punk,was the drummer. I don’t know what became of Junior, the bass player, but his mad-eyed, don’t-give-a-fuck presence in a string vest was a key element in their appeal. Lead singer Keith West had a solo hit that summer with ‘Excerpt From A Teenage Opera,Part 1’(Groger Jack,Groger Jack,please come back…’) and did his best to maintain a pop-star presence while around him the group was morphing into something quite different. ‘My White Bicycle’,a tribute to the free transport provided by Amsterdam’s revolutionary provos, was their new theme song, while Howe’s solos got longer and Twink’s drumming even wilder.
A month or two earlier,I would never have gone to Blaises and Tomorrow would barely have heard of UFO.Everything was accelerating that spring. New drugs,clothes,music and clubs. The psychedelic underground and the pop scene were starting to overlap. UFO crowds were bigger each week, and it was getting hard to maintain the original atmosphere. It was also difficult to ignore the increased attention from the police: the longer the queues, the more customers were getting frisked and busted.
Hoppy ran UFO’s light tower,records between shows,putting on Kurosawa samurai films at 3 a.m. and troubleshooting around the club while I stayed near the entrance and trousered the money. When plainclothes policemen asked to have a look around, I would state our policy: no search warrant, no entry. (There was nothing to prevent them from merging with the crowds and paying their way in,of course UFO’s ads often touted a ‘spot the fuzz’ competitions). As for Mr Gannon, our landlord at the Blarney Club, he felt the case of whiskey delivered to Goodge Street police station every Christmas should take care of them well enough.
A few weeks before Tomorrow’s return visit on 30 June, a uniformed bobby turned up, asking to be allowed in the collect clothes left behind by a man being held in custody. This made sense: half and hour earlier, a naked guy had bolted past me up the stairs and disappeared into the night. Hoppy and I agreed that an exception could be made, so I told the audience we were going to let the fuzz in to look for the clothes and turn on the overhead lights (murmurs and booing). As the crowd spread out in a wide circle, some garments could be seen scattered around the floor. The young bobby seemed to blush as he glanced at the crowd, a vivid cross-section of ‘London Freak’ circa May 1967: long hair on the boys,flowered dresses on the girls,Arabian or Indian shirts,a few kaftans,jeans,even a few white shirts and khaki slacks. Many were tripping; most were laughing or grinning.
The laughter grew as it became clear that the bobby’s hastily gathered armful contained more than was required to make his prisoner decent: two or three pairs of underpants (gender undetermined), a couple of shirts, a bra,several socks,etc. As he made his way to the door, the working class constable regarded us with amazement, not hatred. We, in turn,regretted that he could not grasp why we took drugs and danced in the lights,lived for the moment and regarded our fellow man with benign tolerance, even love. That was the theory, anyway. Tested, it would come undone in the ensuing years, even as the bobby’s mates donned kaftans, rolled joins and joined the crows at festivals.
The first man I knew to take hallucinogens was Eric Von Schmidts.Mailorder packages of peyote buds from Moore’s Orchid Farm in Texas arrived periodically at the Von Schmidt apartment near Harvard Square. He would cook them up in a pot and invite friends over to drink the soup. They would stack some LPs on the record player-Ali Akbar Khan, Lord Buckley,Chopin, the Swan Silverstones, Lightning Hopkins-then drink the potion and try not to be sick. If you couldn’t keep it down you weren’t, in Eric’s view,calm enough (‘centred’had not yet been used in this context) to deserve the high. It was an experience meant for an intellectual and spiritual elite, not the masses (although he certainly would have never put it in that way).
The market is too efficient, of course,to limit transcendence to people who can stomach peyote. Down the street from Eric’s flat in 1962 was the laboratory of Professor Timothy Leary, who advertised in the Harvard Crimson for volunteers to take LSD at a dollar an hour and was determined to become the Johnny Appleseed of hallucinogens. By 1967, pure, powerful LSD tabs were still available while adulterated, amphetamine-laced concoctions were starting to be widely distributed. Few bothered about how elevated the experience might be.
In June that year, a New of the world reporter tipped off Scotland Yard about a ‘drugs-and-sex’ at Keith Richards’place and was rewarded with a ringside seat at the raid. It has become the stuff of legend: Mars bars threesome, Marianne Faithfull naked under a fur rug,etc..a symbol of out-of-control decadence. The media stopped winking and grinning about “Swinging London” and started wallowing in horror stories about teenagers being led astray. Sgt Pepper was the world’s soundtrack that month and powerful Establishment figures were horrified by the implications of influential pop stars’ open fondness for drugs.
Taken From White Bicycles,by Joe Boyd,2006
Joe Boyd – Record Producer/Writer.

The Flapper

The Flapper, Life Magazine-1922

image credit-Rotin by flickr
Ieri sera sono riuscita a trovare, su you tube,un vecchio classico del cinema muto in bianco e nero,anni ’20; The Flapper (secondo il dizionario inglese: young unconventional woman of 1920s who disdained conventions of decorum and established fashion) vede Olive Thomas nei panni dell’ingenua ragazzina annoiata che viene chiusa,dal padre, in un collegio femminile e si vedrà protagonista di diverse avventure e disavventure amorose; il film,a tratti malizioso,a tratti impertinente,è pensato per accontentare un pubblico educato e di facile indignazione e non manca di tutti gli stereotipi che rendono a incorniciare un’epoca in fermento sociale: giovane donna borghese,di provincia,costretta al rigore di un’educazione patriarcale,affascinata dal mistero della città,New York,innamorata di un milionario a cavallo,wild and strong, che le spezzerà il cuore (ad alto gradimento le scene al culmine del drammatico,seguite da immancabili svenimenti e lacrime di cerone) e per il quale cadrà in rovina dissipando giovinezza ed eredità,al bancone di un bar. Ripresa nel finale-redenzione della flapper,sposalizio = vita felice. Sebbene questo film, divenuto un fad degli anni’20,a tutt’oggi, farebbe rabbrividire di orrore persino la più moderata delle suffragette,e la più positiva delle femministe, centinaia,forse migliaia,di donne l’hanno iconizzato a modello di vita e le ragioni di questo sono da ricercare nella storia-società pratriarcale,’conservatorismo’,repressione,fine della prima guerra mondiale,proibizionismo,sintomi della grande depressione.
Lo stereotipo che ne deriva vede una donna sgomitare per l’affermazione della propria indipendenza e insieme giocare ora il ruolo di Betty Gramble,micetta sognante,indifesa e insicura, ora quello della più sfacciata Betty Page, femmina di animale indomito, maliziosamente sensuale e incredibilmente spregiudicata (that woman!)
Lo stereotipo vuole anche l’affermazione di un modello di donna assolutamente frivola e per questo sottovalutata intellettualmente; del 1946 Doll Face,con Vivian Blaine nei panni di una burlesque queen scartata a un’audizione perchè ritenuta non sufficientemente colta,e riscattatasi  dell’accusa di frivolezza dopo aver scritto un romanzo della propria vita,divenuto-nel film-premio letterario.
Il dato curioso riguarda il persistere,ancora oggi, di certi schemi mentali.Chiedete a un uomo come vede una donna e questo 6 volte su dieci vi risponderà Betty Gramble,nel ruolo della fidanzata,Betty Page,in quelli dell’amante.Sono pronta a ricredermi.
Ad ogni modo,la cosa che più mi affascina del cinema vintage (a parte l’affettazione degli attori e la leziosaggine dei dialoghi-nel caso dei muti,i ghirigori di decorazione alle lettere),è l’atmosfera, quasi magica,e il sortilegio che ne deriva,come viaggiare a mezzo una macchina del tempo proiettati indietro di quasi un secolo.Indipendentemente dal dibattito sociale,della critica femminista, io trovo i film muti,quell’epoca tutta e quella a seguire,nel dopoguerra, assolutamente affascinanti. Vorrà mia sorella,scherzando,darmi dell’antica.Vorrò rispondere lo sono,io sono antica. Io sono assolutamente,irrimediabilmente,antica.Adoro l’ingenuità maliziosa di quelle donnine vanitose e civettuole,in abiti da sera e piume di pavone ai capelli;l’orologio al panciotto e le moine decorose di quei signorotti gatsbiani,un po’sbruffoni un po’piacioni,furfantini;adoro il virtuosismo del nostro neorealismo,Fellini,la fotografia di città frettolose e pulsanti,gentlemen in carrozza,faccendieri in maniche di camicia,marinai ai bar del porto,solide matrone alla regia del focolare domestico.Bambini. Amo osservare le faccette,un po’curiose,un po’biricchine,dei bambini.
Specie nel caso del neorealismo, la suspance è palpabile,il dramma è reale, le ragioni radicate nella storia,e lo spirito della società è vivo e reso magnificamente attraverso l’esasperazione di un dramma,ora un’illusione,un sogno sfumato,un progetto di vita mancato di determinazione.Vizi,tic,manie,piccole miserie,vanità.E poi la speranza,l’amore ideale,la famiglia a epicentro della comunità sociale.
C’è niente di più delizioso che struggersi d’immotivata nostalgia e lasciarsi rabbonire,a volte incantare, da un romanzo in pellicola?

*Catherine Annette Hanshaw (October 18, 1901 – March 13, 1985) was one of the first popular female jazz singers. In the late 1920s she ranked alongside Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith and the Boswell Sisters in popularity and influence.
Her singing style was relaxed and suited to the new jazz-influenced pop music of the late 1920s. Although she had a low opinion of her own singing, she continued to have fans because she combined the voice of an ingenue with the spirit of a flapper. Hanshaw was known as “The Personality Girl,” and her trademark was saying “That’s all,” in a cheery voice at the end of many of her records”
*wikipedia

Djuna Barnes photographed by Berenice Abbott, Paris, 1926

“She was nervous about the future; it made her indelicate. She was one of the most unimportantly wicked women of her time –because she could not let her time alone, and yet could never be a part of it. She wanted to be the reason for everything and so was the cause of nothing. She had the fluency of tongue and action meted out by divine providence to those who cannot think for themselves. She was the master of the over-sweet phrase, the over-tight embrace.”
— Djuna Barnes (Nightwood)

NightWood

Au Café by Maurice Brange, Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922

“The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy.”

Djuna Barnes (12 June 1892 – 18 June 1982)

Questo di Djuna Barnes,Nightwood,pubblicato per la prima volta a Londra nel 1936,è considerato essere un romanzo cult non solo per il sensazionalismo della trama,contorta e con espliciti riferimenti all’omosessualità di Robin Vote,la protagonista,donna inquieta e alla tormentata ricerca di avventure,dapprima divenuta moglie di un barone “immaginario”,Felix Volkbein,investito del titolo nobiliare per vocazione al bello e romantico,amante del circo e del teatro,al quale darà un figlio,Guido,erede del presunto titolo di fantasia,poi,amante di una donna,Nora Flood,con la quale si trasferirà dagli Stati Uniti a Parigi,lasciando marito e figlio,quindi travolta da un turbinio bohemien di relazioni nella relazione,tra le braccia di Jenny Petherbridge,una 4 volte vedova che la terrà lontana da Nora e sarà all’origine della sua solitudine.
Quello a risaltare nel romanzo è lo stile gotico della prosa,il lirismo poetico e l’intricata trama rococò delle parafrasi,per questo,di difficile lettura-a volte comprensione,in inglese.
Centrale,nel romanzo, la figura del Dr. Matthew O’Connor,che si finge nel ruolo di dottore,in realtà un travestito,scampato alla Prima Guerra Mondiale,cui fantasia è quella di essere l’amante donna di un soldato,per buona parte del romanzo voce narrante,puntiglioso in cinismo,ironia e autocommiserazione.
Secondo la critica meno indulgente,il romanzo avrebbe avuto fortuna grazie all’entusiastica prefazione,del 1957,di T.S.Eliot,mentre proprio Eliot si fa scrupolo di sottolineare l’entusiasmo deriva tutto da spettacolarità,magnificenza,musicalità e ritmo della prosa
‘To say that NightWood will appeal primarily to readers of poetry does not mean that it is not a novel, but that it is so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.
T.S.Eliot
Di seguito una parte del libro tratta dal quinto capitolo-‘Watchman,what of the night?’

T. Renner, Improvisation for Djuna Barnes (Nightwood #3)

‘Have you ever thought of the night?’ the doctor inquired with a little irony; he was extremely put out, having expected someone else, though his favorite topic, and one which he talked on whenever he had a chance, was the night. ‘Yes,’ said Nora, and sat down on the only chair.’I’ve thought of it, but thinking about does not help.’
‘Have you’,said the doctor,’ever thought of the peculiar polarity of times and times; and of sleep? Sleep the slain white bull? Well,I, doctor Mathew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O’Connor, will tell you how the day and the night are related by their division. The very constitution of twilight is a fabulous reconstruction of fear, fear bottom-out and wrong side up. Every day is thought upon and calculated, but the night is not premeditated. The Bible lies the one way, but the night gown the other. The Night, “Beware of that dark door!”‘
‘I used to think’, Nora said, ‘that people just went to sleep, or if they did not go to sleep, that they were themselves, but now,’ she lit the cigarette and her hands trembled,’ now I see that the night does something to a person’s identity, even when asleep.’
‘Ah!’ exclaimed the doctor. ‘Let a man lay himself down in the Great Bed and his “identity” is no longer his own, his “trust” is not with him, and his “willingness” is turned over and is of another permission. His distress is wild and anonymous. He sleeps in a Town of Darkness, member of a secret brotherhood. He neither knows himself nor his outriders, he berserks a fearful dimension and dismounts, miraculously, in bed!
‘His heart is tumbling in his chest, a dark place! Though some go into the night as a spoon breaks easy water, others go head foremost against a new connivance; their horns make a dry crying,like the wings of the locust,late come to their shedding.
‘Have you thought of the night, now, in other times,in foreign countries- in Paris? When the streets were gall high with things you wouldn’t have done for a dare’s sake, and the way it was then; with the pheasants’ necks and the goslings’ beaks dangling against the hocks of the gallants,and not a pavement in the place, and everything gutters for miles and miles, and a stench to it that plucked you by the nostrils and you were twenty leagues out! The cries telling the price of wine to such good effect that the dawn saw good clerks full of piss and vinegar, and blood-letting in side streets where some wild princess in a night shift of velvet howled under a leech; not to mention the palaces of Nymphenburg echoing back to Vienna with the night trip of late kings letting water into plush cans and fine woodwork, no, ‘he said looking at her sharply, ‘I can see you have not! You should, for the night has been going on for a long time.’
She said, ‘I’ve never known it before- I thought I did, but it was not knowing at all.’
‘Exactly,’ said the doctor,’ you think you knew, and you hadn’t even shuffled the cards- now the nights of the period are not the nights of another. Neither are the nights of one city the nights of another. Let us take Paris for an instance, and France for a fact. Ah,Mon Dieu! La nuit effroyable! La nuit, qui est une immense plaine, et le coeur qui est une petit extremite! Ah, good Mother mine, Notre Dame-de-bonne-garde! Intercede for me now, while yet I explain what I am coming to! French nights are those which all nations seek the world over- and have you noticed that? Ask Doctor Mighty O’Connor; the reason the doctor knows everything is because he’s been everywhere at the wrong time and has now become anonymous.’
‘But,’ Nora said,’I never thought of the night as a life at all- I’ve never lived it- why did she?’
‘I’m telling you of French nights at the moment,’the doctor went on,’and why we all go into them. The night and the day are two travels, and the French -gut-greedy and fist-tight though they often are- alone leave testimony of the two in the dawn, we tear up the one for the sake of the other, not so the Fremch.
‘And why is that, because they think of the two as one continually, and keep it before their mind as the monks who repeat,”Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me!” Some twelve thousand or more times a twenty-four hours, so that it is finally in the head, good or bad,without saying a word. Bowing down from the waist, the world over they go, that they may resolve about the Great Enigma- as a relative about a cradle- and the Great Enigma can’t be thought of unless you turn the head the other way, and come upon thinking with the eye that you fear, which is called the back of the head, it’s the one we use when looking at the beloved in a darl place, and she is long time coming from a great way. We swoon with the thickness of our own tongue when we say,” I Love You”, as in the eye of a child lost a long while will be found the contraction of that distance- a child going small in the claws of a beast, coming furiously up the furlongs of the iris.
We are but skin about a wind,with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pasture in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death.We were created that the earth might be made sensible of her inhuman taste; and love that the body might be so dear that even the earth should roar with it. Yes, we who are full to the gorge with misery, should look well around, doubting everything seen, done, spoken, precisely because we have a word for it, and not its alchemy.
‘To think of the arcon it is necessary to become the tree, And the tree of night is the hardest tree to mount, the dourest tree to scale, the most difficult of branch, the most febrile to the touch, and sweats a resin and drips a pitch against the palm that computation has not gambled. Gurus, who, I trust you know, are Indian teachers, expect you to contemplate the acorn ten years at a stretch, and if, in that time, you no wiser about the nut, you are not very bright, and that may be the only certainty with which you will come away, which is a post-graduate melancholy- for no man can find a greater truth than his kidney will allow. So I, Doctor Matthew Mighty O’Connor, ask you to think of the night the day long, and of the day the night through, or at some reprieve of the brain it will come upon heavily- an engine stalling itself upon your chest, halting its wheels against your heart; unless you have made a roadway for it.
taken from Nightwood,by Djuna Barnes,1936
Tony Renner, Artist.

Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier,1954,New York
Vivian Maier,1955,New York
Vivian Maier, September 1953,New York
Vivian Maier,May 5,1955,New York
Vivian Maier,October 1978
Vivian Maier,Undated,New York
Vivian Maier,Undated,Vancouver,Canada
Vivian Maier,Untitled,Undated
Vivian Maier,Self Portrait,1960

^Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American amateur street photographer who was born in New York but grew up in France, and after returning to the U.S., worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago. During those years she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes most often in Chicago, although she traveled and photographed worldwide.
Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local historian, John Maloof, in 2007. Following Maier’s death her work began to receive critical acclaim.Her photographs have appeared in newspapers in Italy, Argentina, and England, and have been exhibited alongside other artists’ work in Denmark and Norway.
http://www.vivianmaier.com/
http://vivianmaier.blogspot.com/
London Street Photography Festival – July 2011.
^wikipedia

On Photography

Life itself is not the reality. We are the ones who put life into stones and pebbles.
Frederick Sommer
Il potente fascino che esercita la fotografia è intrinseco alla morbosità di ciascuno suscettibile all’estetica del bello,romantico e decadente.Quanto più una fotografia dettagliata nelle intenzioni del fotografo,tanto più questa susciterà in noi il sospetto di un’emozione antica, legata a una remota convinzione del Sublime. Un meravigliso saggio che sto leggendo,On Photography,del 1977,della scrittrice newyorkese Susan Sontag,positive feminist,attivista politica,morta nel 2004, è altamente godibile,a mio parere,non solo per l’analisi che la Sontag fa della fotografia dal punto di vista analitico ed estetico,morale e filosofico,ma anche,se non soprattutto,per l’eleganza della prosa sottilmente provocatoria,le incredibili intuizioni frasali d’irriverenza fulminea e la ricercatezza e insieme limpidezza del vocabolario, volutamente accurato e puntiglioso.
Questo il sito in suo onore dove trovare articoli e biografia della scrittrice
http://www.susansontag.com/index.shtml
Sotto una parte del testo tratto dal capitolo primo- In Plato’s Cave

Recently, photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing – which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by most people as an art. it is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.

Memorializing the achievement of individuals considered as members of families (as well as of other groups), is the earliest popular use of photography. For at least a century, the wedding photograph has been as much a part of the ceremony as the prescribed verbal formulas. Cameras go with family life. According to a sociological study done in France, most households have a camera, but a household with children is twice as likely to have at least one camera as a household in which there are no children. Not to take pictures of one’s children, particularly when they are small, is a sign on parental indifference, just as not turning up for one’s graduation picture is a gesture of adolescent rebellion.

Through photographs, each family constructs as portrait-chronicle of itself – a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness. It hardly matters what activities are photographed so long as photographs get taken and are cherished. Photography becomes a rite of family life just when, in the industrializing counties of Europe and America, the very institution of the family starts undergoing radical surgery. At that claustrophobic unit, the nuclear family, was being carved out of a much larger family aggregate, photography came along to memorialize, to restate symbolically, the imperiled continuity and vanishing extendedness of family life. Those ghostly traces, photographs, supply the token presence of the dispersed relatives. A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family – and, often, is all the remains of it.

As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure. Thus, photography develops in tandem with one of the most characteristic of modern activities: tourism. For the first time in history, large numbers of people regularly travel out of their habitual environments for short periods of time. It seems positively unnatural to travel for pleasure without taking a camera along. Photographs will offer indisputable evidence that the trip was made, that the program was carried out, that fun was had. Photographs document sequences of consumption carried on outside the view of family, friends, neighbors. But dependence on the camera, as the device that makes real what one is experiencing, doesn’t fade when people travel more. Taking photographs fills the same need for the cosmopolitans accumulating photograph-trophies of their boat trip up the Albert Nile or their fourteen days in China as it does for lower-middle-class vacationers taking snapshots of Eiffel Tower or Niagara Falls.

A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it – by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience in an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation that are likely to be exacerbated by travel. Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph, and move on. The method especially appeals to people handicapped by a ruthless work ethic – Germans, Japanese, and Americans. Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.

People robbed of their past seem to make the most fervent picture takers, at home and abroad. Everyone who lives in an industrialized society is obliged gradually to give up the past, but in certain countries, such as the United States and Japan, the break with the past has been particularly traumatic. In the early 1970s, the fable of the brash American tourist of the 1950s and 1960s, rich with dollars and Babbittry, was replaced by the mystery of the group-minded Japanese tourist, newly released from his island prison by the miracle of overvalued yen, who is generally armed with two cameras, one on each hip.

Photography has become one of the principal devices for experiencing something, for giving an appearance of participation. One full-page ad shows a small group of people standing pressed together, peering out of the photograph, all but one looking stunned, excited, upset. The one who wears a different expression holds a camera to his eye; he seems self-possessed, is almost smiling. While the others are passive, clearly alarmed spectators, having a camera has transformed one person into something active, a voyeur: only he has mastered the situation. What do these people see? We don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. It is an Event: something worth seeing – and therefore worth photographing. The ad copy, whit letters across the dark lower third of the photograph like news coming over a teletype machine, consists of just six words: “. . . Prague . . . Woodstock . . . Vietnam . . . Sapporo . . . Londonderry . . . LEICA.” Crushed hopes, youth antics, colonial wars, and winter sports are alike – are equalized by the camera. Taking photographs has set up a chronic voyeuristic relation to the world which levels the meaning of all events.

A photograph is not just the result of an encounter between an event and a photographer; picture-taking is an event in itself, and one with ever more peremptory rights – to interfere with, to invade, or to ignore whatever is going on. Our very sense of situation is now articulated by the camera’s interventions. The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time consists of interesting events, events worth photographing. This, in turn, makes it easy to feel that any event, once underway, and whatever its moral character, should be allowed to complete itself – so that something else can be brought into the world, the photograph. After the event has ended, the picture will still exist, conferring on the event a kind of immortality (and importance) it would never otherwise have enjoyed. While real people are out there killing themselves or other real people, the photographer stays behind his or her camera, creating a tiny element of another world: the images-world that bids to outlast us all.

Photographing is essentially an act of non-intervention. Part of the horror of such memorable coups of contemporary photojournalism as the pictures of a Vietramese bonze reaching for the gasoline can, of a Begnali guerrilla in the act of bayoneting a trussed-up collaborator, comes from the awareness of how plausible it has become, in situations where the photographer has the choice between a photograph and a life, to choose the photograph. The person who intervenes cannot record; the person who is recording cannot intervene. Dziga Vertov’s great film, Man with a Movie Camera (1929), gives the ideal image of the photographer as someone in perpetual movement, someone moving through a panorama of disparate events with such agility and speed that any intervention is out of question. Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) gives the complementary image: the photographer played by James Stewart has an intensified relation to one event, through his camera, precisely because he has a broken leg. And is confined to a wheelchair; being temporarily immobilized prevents him from acting on what he sees, and makes it even more important to take pictures. Even if incompatible with intervention in a physical sense, using a camera is still a form of participation. Although the camera in an observation station, the act of photographing is more that passive observing. Like sexual voyeurism, it is a way of at least tacitly, often explicitly, encouraging whatever is going on to keep on happening. To take a picture is to have n interest in things as they are, in the status quo remaining unchanged (at least for as long as it takes to get a “good” picture), to be in complicity with whatever makes a subject interesting, worth photographing – including, when that is the interest, another person’s pain or misfortune.
[…]
The industrialization of photography permitted its rapid absorption into rational-that is, bureaucratic-ways of running society.No longer toy images, photographs became part of the general furniture of the environment – touchstones and confirmations of that reductive approach to reality which is considered realistic. Photographs were enrolled in the service of important institution of control,notably the family and the police, as symbolic objects and as pieces of information.Thus, in the bureaucratic cataloguing of the world,many important documents are not valid unless they have,affixed to them,a photograph-token of the citizen’s face.
The “realistic” view of the world compatible with bureaucracy redefines knowledge- as techniques and information. Photographs are valued because they give information. They tell one what there is; they make an inventory. To spies, meteorologists, coroners, archeologists, and other information professionals,their value is inestimable. But in the situation in which most people use photographs,the value as information is of the same order as fiction. The information that photographs can give starts to seem very important at that moment in cultural history when everyone is thought to have a right to something called news. Photographs were seen as a way of giving information to people who do not take easily to reading. The Daily News still calls itself “New York’s Picture Newspaper”, its bid for populist identity. At the opposite end of the scale, Le Monde, a newspaper designed for skilled, well-informed readers, runs no photography at all. The presumption is that, for such readers, a photograph could only illustrate the analysis contained in n article.
A new sense of the notion of information has been constructed around the photographic image. The photograph is a thin slice of space as well as time. In a world ruled by photographic images, all borders (“framing”) seem arbitrary. Anything can be separated, can be made discontinuous, from anything else all that is necessary is to frame the subject differently ( Conversely,anything can be made adjacent to anything else. Photography reinforces a nominalist view of social reality as consisting of small units of an apparently infinite number- as the number of photographs that could be taken of anything is unlimited. Through photographs, the world becomes a series of unrelated, freestanding particles; and history, past and present, a set of anecdotes and faits divers. The camera makes reality atomic, manageable, and opaque. It is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continuity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery. Any photograph has multiple meanings, indeed, to see something in the form of a photograph is to encounter a potential object of fascination. The ultimate wisdom of the photograph image is to say: “There is surface. Now think- or rather feel, intuit- what is beyond it, what the reality must be like if it looks this way.” Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy.
Photography implies that we know about the world if we accept it as camera records it. But this is the opposite of understanding, which starts from not accepting the world as it looks. All possibility of understanding is rooted in the ability to say no. Strictly speaking, one never understands anything from a photograph. Of course, photographs fill in blanks in our mental pictures of the present and the past: for example, Jacob Riis’s images of New York squalor in the 1880s are sharply instructive to those unaware that urban poverty in late-nineteenth- century America was really that Dickensian. Nevertheless, the camera’s rendering of reality must always hide more than it discloses. As Brecht points out, a photograph of the Krupp works reveals virtually nothing about that organization. In contrast to the amorous relation, which is based on how it functions. And functioning takes place in time, and must be explained in time. Only that which narrates can make us understand.
The limit of photographic knowledge of the world is that, while it can goad conscience, it can, finally, never be ethical or political knowledge. The knowledge gained through still photographs will always be some kind of sentimentalism, whenever cynical or humanist. It will be a knowledge at bargains prices- a semblance of knowledge, a semblance of wisdom; as the act of taking pictures is a semblance of appropriation, a semblance of rape. The very muteness of what is, hypothetically, comprehensive in photographs is what constitute their attraction and provocativeness. The omnipresence of photographs has an incalculable effect on our ethical sensibility. By furnishing this already crowded world whit a duplicate one of images, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is.
Needing to ha reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution. Poignant longings for beauty, for an end to probing below the surface, for a redemption and celebration of the body of the world- all these elements of erotic feeling are affirmed in the pleasure we take in photographs. But other, less liberating feelings are expressed as well. It would not be wrong to speak of people having a compulsion to photograph: to turn experience itself into a way of seeing. Ultimately, having an experience becomes identical with taking a photograph of it, and participating in a public event comes more and more equivalent to looking at it in photographed form. That most logical of nineteenth-century aesthetes, Mallarmè, said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph.
Taken from “On Photography”by Susan Sontag,1977

Jacob Riis
Jacob Riis
Jacob Riis
Jacob Riis

Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 – May 26, 1914),Danish American social reformer, “muckraking” journalist and social documentary photographer (New York based photographer)

Amish,Hashish,Self-Accomplishment

Qualche tempo fa mi capitò di leggere di una comunità,detta Amish,nell’Ohio,nata in Svizzera nel 1500 e trasferitasi in America nel 1700-ancora esistente. La comunità Amish è costituita da protestanti conservatori,fra i quali anabattisti(Mennoniti)e Quaccheri(fedeli protestanti appartenenti alla “Società degli amici”).La vita degli Amish ruota intorno al fondamento,il culto e l’osservanza della Bibbia; i fedeli vivono tutti quanti entro questa grande comunità nella quale semplicità,minimalismo,essenzialità e rifiuto della tecnologia,costituiscono cardini di riferimento essenziali.Gli Amish parlano una lingua loro,dialetto tedesco chiamato Tedesco della Pennsylvania,vestono i costumi tradizionali e vivono di sussistenza. E’interessante. Oltre che romantico e naif. Mi si scuserà l’insistenza con cui in questi giorni tratto della Chiesa e della religione;l’idea non è tanto quella di denunciare,mettere in risalto,maledire,sproloquiare della Chiesa e della religione a mero scopo speculativo,quanto quella di portare in evidenza chi ne fa motivo di contestazione,dal basso di una piccola minoranza di contro a una sostenuta maggioranza-appunto.
Ho notato i più accaniti contestatori sono proprio coloro che in un certo senso vivono la propria “disobbedienza teologica” come un incredibile senso di colpa(nell’immediato mi viene da pensare a Woody Allen,che non manca di lanciare frecciatine al culto ebraico in buona parte dei suoi films).Tanto più si è repressi,tanto più frustrati,tanto più frustrati,tanto più paranoici.Io per prima mi cruccio di non credere in Dio tutte le volte che parlo con mia madre,fervente cattolica,o molti dei testimoni di Geova che bussano alla mia porta,o i fedeli al culto di Krishna che incontro per strada,chiunque fedele al culto di un Dio;credere in un Dio è per molti una abitudine,Dio un dato di fatto,una constatazione,una certezza,e chi è credente spesso fatica a concepire la possibilità di non credere,semplicemente non porsi neanche il problema di dovervi credere.Io non me ne pongo il problema,sebbene paradossalmente sono costretta a pormelo e a rimediare una spiegazione convincente di contro alle convinzioni altrui.Del resto affermare la negazione di qualcosa significa anche e paradossalmente considerare l’esistenza della stessa-dunque doverla mettere in discussione.
La comunità Amish per antitesi ricorda molto le comuni hippie nate negli Stati Uniti negli anni’70;Bibbia,preghiere,cibo sano e rimedi naturali,di contro alla prosa di Neil Cassady,il rock psichedelico,gli allucinogeni,hashish.Spirito Dionisiaco di contro allo Spirito Apollineo.Equilibrio di contro al Caos.Ordine di contro al Disordine.Ma davvero una cosa ne escluda un’altra? Mh
Sarebbe interessante fingersi una fedele,infiltrarsi in una di queste comunità e investigare circa le abitudini di questi;chiedere ai ragazzi quanto riescono a far conciliare la tradizione all’innovazione,il “vecchio” con il “nuovo”,il dentro con il fuori,l’immacolata concezione di un mondo protetto alla “perdizione” di una società corrotta al di fuori della comunità.Voglio immaginare fughe d’amore clandestine,piccoli eroi dissidenti che lottano contro i padri,maledizioni.O forse piena condivisione,idillio,pace e fratellanza.
Mi chiedo quanto è davvero possibile preservare “il dentro” “dal fuori”,per esempio sè stessi,la propria integrità di contro alla maggioranza dei tanti-e con questo intendo le proprie idee,i propri ritmi,le proprie abitudini,il proprio carattere,l’essere sè stessi.E’ davvero possibile preservare la propria individualità dalla moltitudine della collettività così per come la moltitudine della collettività si aspetta tu sia ma non sei perchè te stesso?

About Love and other Drugs and Sexual Dependencies

Nan Goldin

Di Nan Goldin si dice essere una delle fotografe più influenti dei nostri tempi-e non a caso;nata a Washington nel 1953,la Goldin si appropria della macchina fotografica ancora giovane facendo di questa-letteralmente- motivo di vita (in una delle sue interviste dice di usare la fotografia come terapia,d’aiuto nei momenti difficili).La ragione principale che la spinse a catturare il tempo in maniera ossessiva sta nel suicidio della sorella,trauma che segnerà una svolta decisiva nella sua vita.
Trasferitasi a New York nel 1979,la Goldan inizia da quel momento una sorta di diario fotografico che raccoglie i frammenti del proprio vissuto e i protagonisti della comunità in cui vive,caratterizzata da una sfrenata libertà e promiscuità sessuale, e dipendenza dalle droghe.
Ballad of Sexual Dependency“,prima raccolta fotografica,includerà anche alcune delle sue immagini più disturbate in cui appare violentemente deturpata in viso e nel corpo a causa delle violenze subite dall’allora fidanzato.Una successiva pubblicazione “The Other Side“,raccoglie le immagini di un gruppo di amici transessuali,mentre una decisiva e incisiva retrospettiva-“I’ll Be Your Mirror“-presentata a New York in occasione dei suoi 25 anni di carriera(di cui verrà realizzato un documentario per la BBC),la consacrerà fra le più prolifere fotografe americane d’ispirazione mondiale.

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Interview with Nan Goldin.

Fonte-20th Century Photography by Reuel Golden,1999

The Moustache alibi

Mustache Petes was the name given to members of the Sicilian Mafia who came to the United States (particularly New York City) as adults in the early 1900s.
Unlike the younger Sicilian-Americans known as the “Young Turks“, the old guard Mustache Petes had usually committed their first killings in Italy. The most prominent members of this group were Joe “the Boss” Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano. Many of them also had connections with the Sicilian Mafia.
The Mustache Petes wanted to maintain Sicilian criminal traditions in their new country, and were more interested in working with and exploiting their fellow Italians rather than the public at large. To that end, they opposed their younger members’ desire to work with the powerful Jewish and Irish gangs. They wanted to branch out realizing the numerous other ways in which to make their fortunes, but were stifled by the Mustache Petes. This rankled younger caporegimes, such as Lucky Luciano, and Vito Genovese.
Luciano and other “Young Turks” in the New York Mafia soon concluded that the Mustache Petes were too set in their ways to see the millions of dollars that working with non-Italian gangsters could bring. During the Castellammarese War, Luciano built a network of younger Mafiosi in both the Masseria and Maranzano camps and secretly intended to assassinate one of them, then bide their time before killing the other. They eventually decided to kill Masseria, and feigned loyalty to Maranzano until they got a chance to eliminate him as well.
Following this, the newer generation of Italian mobsters reorganized the National Crime Syndicate and founded The Commission, becoming closer to the modern American Mafia known today. It is erroneously widely believed that, following these events, a purge of older Mafiosi, known as the “Night of the Sicilian Vespers,” took place across the country, in which all the remaining Mustache Petes were eliminated.

Taken from Wikipedia

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