Apollo 8 & the Black Monolith (Apolo 8 y el monolito negro)

In 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, mankind discovered a large black monolith on the Moon.

En 2001: Una odisea del espacio por Arthur C. Clarke, la humanidad descubrió un gran monolito negro en la Luna.

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Earthrise. Photo by William Anders, Apollo 8, NASA [public domain via NASA]

The crew of Apollo 8, who at Christmas 1968 became the first men ever to set eyes upon the lunar Farside, told me that they had been tempted to radio back the discovery of a large black monolith. Alas, discretion prevailed.

Arthur C. Clarke: Back to 2001


Los tripulantes del Apolo 8, que en las Navidades de 1968 se convirtieron en los primeros hombres en posar sus ojos sobre la Cara Oculta de la Luna, me dijeron que se habían sentido tentados de radiar el descubrimiento de un gran monolito negro: afortunadamente, prevaleció la discreción.

Arthur C. Clarke: Nota del autor, 2010: Odisea dos

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Quote of the Week: On Liberty

John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)

…the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.

His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise. To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him, must be calculated to produce evil to some one else.

The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

(John Stuart Mill: On Liberty)

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Image credit: Public domain via Wikipedia

Come And Take Them (Ven a tomarlas)

Quote of the Week: Come And Take Them

The ultimate laconic reply of defiance: that of Leonidas to Xerxes at Thermopylae, unbeatable in its simplicity. Especially in Greek where it’s only two words: molon labe.

When Xerxes wrote again: ‘Deliver up your arms,’ he wrote back: ‘Come and take them’.

(Plutarch: Morals, Vol. III, Sayings of Spartans, Leonidas)

The words “molon labe” as inscribed on the Leonidas monument at Thermopylae. Source: Wikipedia

La cita de la semana: Ven a tomarlas

Lo último en el desafío lacónico: lo de Leónidas a Jerjes en las Termópilas, con su sencillez imbatible. Especialmente en griego, como que solo consiste de dos palabras: molon labe.

Cuando de nuevo Jerjes escribió: «Entrega tus armas», contestó: «Ven a tomarlas.»

(Plutarco: Moralia, III, Máximas de espartanos, Leónidas)

Elephants & Herd Instinct

Elephant herd in front of Mt Kilimanjaro. Photo by Diana Robinson via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

Quote of the Week:

For the herds of wild elephants show no resentment when domesticated animals join them. They have none of that herd instinct directed against the stranger that one finds in cattle, in small boys and among many grown-up men. This tolerance is just one of the things about elephants which makes one realise they are big in more ways than one.

(Lt.-Col. J. H. Williams: Elephant Bill)

Religión (Religion)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week

Juan Eslava Galán (1948-)

La religión es como gaseosa: una vez abierta la botella solo es cuestión de tiempo que pierda el gas.

Religion is like a fizzy drink: once the bottle is open, it’s only a question of time before it goes flat.

(Juan Eslava Galán: Historia de España contada para escépticos / The History of Spain Told for Sceptics)

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⇒ El sitio de web de Juan Eslava Galán

Image credit: Conchiare via Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Livy on History (Tito Livio sobre la historia)

Titus Livius (59 BC – 17 AD)

Quote of the Week:

Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monumento intueri; inde tibi tuaeque rei publicae quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu foedum exitu quod vites.

(Titus Livius: Ab Urbe Condita, Praefatio)

Continue reading “Livy on History (Tito Livio sobre la historia)”

Quote of the Week: A Crop of Golden Trajectories

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Toulouse in 1933
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

Each burst of a machine gun or a rapid-fire cannon shot forth hundreds of these phosphorescent bullets that followed one another like the beads of a rosary. A thousand elastic rosaries strung themselves out towards the plane, drew themselves out to the breaking point, and burst at our height. When, missing us, the string went off at a tangent, its speed was dizzying. The bullets were transformed into lightning.

And I flew drowned in a crop of trajectories as golden as stalks of wheat. I flew at the centre of a thicket of lance strokes. I flew threatened by a vast and dizzying flutter of knitting needles. All the plain was now bound to me, woven and wound round me, a coruscating web of golden wire.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

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Quote of the Week: Hokusai on Art & Ageing

Beauty on a summer morning by Hokusai (1810) – detail

From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently published; but until the age of seventy, nothing I drew was worthy of notice.

At seventy-three years, I was somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees, and the structure of birds, animals, insects and fish.

Thus when I reach eighty years, I hope to have made increasing progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.

Hokusai: Postscript to One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji, 1834.

Beauty on a summer morning

Hokusai painted Beauty on a summer morning when he was forty. It’s one of those which he didn’t think were “worthy of notice”. (Just saying.)

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Last Lines (Últimas líneas)

Some books have unforgettable First Lines – others have unbeatable endings… (And some have both, with some pretty impressive stuff in between.)

Unos libros tienen inolvidables primeras líneas – otros tienen insuperables finales… (Y algunos tienen los dos, con algo muy impresionante en medio.)

Continue reading “Last Lines (Últimas líneas)”

Return from Spain

Sunset over Seville

Perhaps that is the travellers deepest melancholy, that the joy of return is always mixed with a felling that is harder to define, the feeling that the places you have ached for since you first saw them simply went on existing without you, that if you really wanted to hold them close you would have to stay with them for ever. But that would turn you into someone you cannot be, someone who stays at home, a sedentary being.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

The paradox of travel.

La bailarina (The Dancer)

Flamenco dancer, Seville

Cita del día:

El temblor del corazón de la bailarina ha de ser armonizado desde las puntas de sus zapatos hasta el abrir y cerrar de sus pestañas, desde el último volante de so cola al juego incesante de sus dedos. Verdadera náufraga en un campo de aire, la bailarina ha de medir líneas, silencios, zigzags y rápidas curvas, con un sexto sentido de arome y geometría, sin equivocar nunca su terreno, como hace el torero, cuyo corazón de estar en el cuello del toro, porque corren el mismo peligro, él de muerte, ella de oscuridad.

(Federico García Lorca: Elogia de Antonia Mercé, «La Argentina»)


 Quote of the Day:

The dancer’s trembling heart must bring everything into harmony, from the tips of her shoes to the flutter of her eyelashes, from the rustles of her dress to the incessant play of her fingers. Shipwrecked in a field of air, she must measure lines, silences, zigzags and rapid curves, with a sixth sense of aroma and geometry, without ever mistaking her terrain. In this she resembles the torero, whose heart must keep to the neck of the bull. Both of them face the same danger–he, death; and she, darkness.

(Federico García Lorca: In Praise of Antonia Mercé, “La Argentina”)

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Mediterranean Brilliance

Mediterranean brilliance hit me like a bolt of lightning; the whole of human life was enacted on a single, fabulous, public stage against a careless backdrop of thousands of years of sublime art. Colours, foods, markets, clothing, gestures, language: everything seemed more refined, more vivid, more vibrant…

(Cees Nooteboom)

“Le bien publique” (The Public Good)

Thought for today, courtesy of Tolstoy:

As long as the world has existed and people have been killing each other, no one man has ever committed a crime upon his own kind without calming himself with this same thought. This thought was le bien publique, the supposed good of other people.

This is Tolstoy’s comment in War and Peace after the governor of Moscow, Rastopchin, offered up a political prisoner to the mob as a scapegoat for his own failures.

“In the interest of the public good.” We all heard this before. History brings countless examples, most of them horrific beyond belief.

Because who decides what’s in the interest of public good? And how far are we willing to go in the name of this public good?

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