Sunday, May 31, 2015

Karl Blossfeldt / A Teacher of Contemplation

Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt was an attentive observers of nature, a teacher of contemplation. He used photography in the early days but his images are still powerful today. It reminds us to look at the ordinary and realize the immanent wonder.

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was a German instructor of sculpture who used his remarkable photographs of plant studies to educate his students about design elements in nature. Self-taught in photography, he devoted himself to the study of nature, photographing nothing but flowers, buds and seed capsules for thirty-five years. He once said,"The plant never lapses into mere arid functionalism; it fashions and shapes according to logic and suitability, and with its primeval force compels everything to attain the highest artistic form."

Blossfeldt's photographs were made with a homemade camera that could magnify the subject up to thirty times its actual size. By doing so he revealed extraordinary details within the natural structure of the plants. In the process he created some of the most innovative photographic work of his time. The simple yet expressive forms captured on film affirmed his boundless artistic and intellectual ability.

Published in 1928 when Blossfeldt was sixty-three and a professor of applied art at the Berliner Kunsthochschule,Urformen der Kunst quickly became an international bestseller and in turn made Blossfeldt famous almost overnight. His contemporaries were enchanted by the abstract shapes and structures in nature that he revealed to the world. In 2001 Urformen der Kunst was included in "The Book of 101 Books" as one of the seminal photographic books of the Twentieth Century.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Maupassant / Mademoiselle Fifi

Mademoiselle Fifi
By Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant / Mademoiselle Fiji (Short Story in French)

The Major, Graf von Farlsberg, the Prussian commandant, was reading his newspaper, lying back in a great armchair, with his booted feet on the beautiful marble fire-place, where his spurs had made two holes, which grew deeper every day, during the three months that he had been in the château of Urville.
A cup of coffee was smoking on a small, inlaid table, which was stained with liquors, burnt by cigars, notched by the pen-knife of the victorious officer, who occasionally would stop while sharpening a pencil, to jot down figures, or to make a drawing on it, just as it took his fancy.

My hero / Football by David Conn

My hero: 


 by David Conn

The game should be governed in a way that makes all football lovers proud

David Conn
Saturday 30 May 2015

he former Argentine footballer Jorge Valdano once wrote that the journey of every adult football lover begins with a child, kicking a ball to the park. For some of those involved at the highest ranks of Fifa, their journey from the park ended this week in dawn arrests or guilty pleas to alleged corruption beyond a child’s imagination. One ineradicable image conjured by the US criminal indictment is the allegation that the Fifa executive committee member Jeffrey Webb had a $3m bribe partly routed to the man who was building him a swimming pool. The 164-page indictment of 14 defendants indeed left one almost drowning in detail, but still the anger and disgust came through. I fell in love with football as a boy in the parks, playgrounds and in the very air of Manchester, and I still believe – more than ever – in its beauty as a sport and the essential effort, spirit and team ethos it requires. Yet the game is subject to relentless exploitation by people entrusted to be its custodians, what the Swiss attorney general, referring to allegations regarding Fifa’s award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, described this week as “unjust enrichment”. Yet unjust enrichment is not restricted to the bribes or kickbacks that fall under the strict definition of corruption. Would it have been more admirable had Webb, if this bribe is proven, taken a grossly inflated fee from a TV rights contract by being on the payroll legitimately? Many whose enrichment has outraged football lovers have made millions by selling shares in football companies that supporters still quaintly refer to as clubs. The guiding light for running football should be as simple as the game’s essence. Picture the young boy, running to the park with his ball, and nurture a sport fit for his lifelong loyalty.

 David Conn’s books about football include The Beautiful Game? and Richer than God.






Friday, May 29, 2015

Maupassant / A Mother of Monsters

by  Guy de Maupassant

Maupassant / La mère aux monstres (A short story in French)

I recalled this horrible story, the events of which occurred long ago, and this horrible woman, the other day at a fashionable seaside resort, where I saw on the beach a well-known young, elegant and charming Parisienne, adored and respected by everyone.
I had been invited by a friend to pay him a visit in a little provincial town. He took me about in all directions to do the honors of the place, showed me noted scenes, chateaux, industries, ruins. He pointed out monuments, churches, old carved doorways, enormous or distorted trees, the oak of St. Andrew, and the yew tree of Roqueboise.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Maupassant / The Hand

By Guy de Maupassant

LA MAIN (Rimbaud)

All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.
M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, but arriving at no conclusion.
Some women had risen, in order to get nearer to him, and were standing with their eyes fastened on the clean-shaven face of the judge, who was saying such weighty things. They, were shaking and trembling, moved by fear and curiosity, and by the eager and insatiable desire for the horrible, which haunts the soul of every woman. One of them, paler than the others, said during a pause:
"It's terrible. It verges on the supernatural. The truth will never be known."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Judy Blume “Can’t Imagine” Writing Another Novel

Judy Blume, photographed on Ballast Key, Florida.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

Judy Blume “Can’t Imagine” Writing Another Novel

June 2015
The author of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and other classics returns with In the Unlikely Event, her first adult novel in 17 years. She hints that it might be her last.
Write what you know, novelists are often advised, and Judy Blume knew many things when she wrote the books that proved so influential and iconic that their author eventually became a question on Jeopardy!, and the inspiration for an episode of South Park and a Saturday Night Liveskit, not to mention a hero and sentimental favorite of generations of readers. Among those things is that growing up is a time of powerful, dramatic occurrences. It’s been more than 45 years since Blume’s first book was published, but she is still writing what she knows, and still turning to the early years for that knowledge. Except this time, with In the Unlikely Event, instead of looking inward, examining the emotional upheaval evoked by bodily changes and new physical sensations, Judy Blume is looking outward. Or, more to the point, upward.

In the early 1950s, when Blume was a teenager in Elizabeth, New Jersey, three airplanes crashed in her town within 58 days, creating fear, anxiety, and bewilderment. But though Blume grew up amidst these events, it took her more than half a century to think about turning them into a book. It wasn’t until 2009, while she was listening to the writer Rachel Kushner talk about stories her mother had told of growing up in Cuba in the 1950s, that Blume envisioned her own 1950s novel. It came to her in an instant, with various characters and plots. Blume spent five years on her story, which blends real-life facts with fiction. While the book is multi-generational, it’s not at all surprising that the character at its heart is a 15-year-old girl.

Many of us, having long left behind girlhood and adolescence in a big, Love’s Fresh Lemon-scented puddle of training bras and clogs, still remember with nostalgic pleasure and gratitude Blume’s classic works, which mirrored and illuminated our own experiences. So, with this new book—her first adult novel in 17 years—is Blume, as we might hope, beginning a late-life fiction whirlwind? “I can’t imagine writing another novel,” she says. “Of course I said the same thing after Summer Sisters. I meant it then. But I think I mean it more now. I feel good about that,” she adds. “I feel elated about that. And at 77 I think that’s O.K.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Rare, Personal Look at Oliver Sacks’s Early Career

Oliver Sacks, medical storyteller extraordinaire,
in Manhattan on the edge of the Hudson, 1990.
By Ken Shung/

A Rare, Personal Look at Oliver Sacks’s Early Career

The world was saddened to learn of neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks’s terminal illness through a recent op-ed. With Sacks’s new autobiography out this month,Lawrence Weschler shares early stories and diary entries about Sacks, his close friend, before Sacks achieved worldwide fame.

This past February 19, fans and friends of Oliver Sacks learned, by way of an article he published in The New York Times, that the great neurologist and medical chronicler had terminal cancer. “Nine years ago,” he explained, “it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. The radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye. But though ocular melanomas metastasize in perhaps 50 percent of cases, given the particulars of my own case, the likelihood was much smaller. I am among the unlucky ones.”

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