Seeing Clearly (Ver claramente)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Image by PublicDomainImages via Pixabay

Disciple to Master: “How do you see things so clearly?
Master: “I close my eyes.”

(Zen parable,
quoted in Zen Culture by Thomas Hoover)


Discípulo al Maestro: «¿Cómo ves las cosas tan claramente?»
Maestro: «Cierro los ojos.»

(Parábola zen,
citado en Zen Culture por Thomas Hoover)

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La verdad de las mentiras (The Truth of the Lies)

Estaba hojeando – figurativamente, porque de hecho se trataba de un libro electrónico – un libro de ensayos de Mario Vargas Llosa anoche, cuando me topé con la siguiente:

I have been leafing through – figuratively speaking, because it was actually an e-book – a book of essays by Mario Vargas Llosa last night, when I came across the following:

«Los inquisidores españoles, por ejemplo, prohibieron que se publicaran o importaran novelas en las colonias hispanoamericanas con el argumento de que esos libros disparatados y absurdos —es decir, mentirosos— podían ser perjudiciales para la salud espiritual de los indios. Por esta razón, los hispanoamericanos sólo leyeron ficciones de contrabando durante trescientos años y la primera novela que, con tal nombre, se publicó en la América española apareció sólo después de la independencia (en México, en 1816).

“The Spanish inquisitors, for example, forbade the publication and import of novels in the Latin-American colonies with the argument that these ludicrous and absurd – that’s to say lying – books might be  detrimental for the spiritual health of the Indians. For this reason, the Latin-Americans only read contraband fiction for three hundred years and the first novel, which, with this name, was published in Spanish America only appeared after the independence (in Mexico, in 1816).

Al prohibir no unas obras determinadas sino un género literario en abstracto, el Santo Oficio estableció algo que a sus ojos era una ley sin excepciones: que las novelas siempre mienten, que todas ellas ofrecen una visión falaz de la vida.

By forbidding not certain works but an entire literary genre, the Holy Office established something that to them was a law without exceptions: that novels always lie, that all of them offer a falsa view of life.

Hace años escribí un trabajo ridiculizando a esos arbitrarios, capaces de una generalización semejante. Ahora pienso que los inquisidores españoles fueron acaso los primeros en entender —antes que los críticos y que los propios novelistas— la naturaleza de la ficción y sus propensiones sediciosas.

Years ago I wrote a work ridiculing these arbitrary men who were capable of such a generalisation. Now I think that the Spanish inquisitors were perhaps the first to understand – before the critics and the novelists themselves – the nature of fiction and its rebellious tendencies.

En efecto, las novelas mienten —no pueden hacer otra cosa— pero ésa es sólo una parte de la historia. La otra es que, mintiendo, expresan una curiosa verdad, que sólo puede expresarse encubierta, disfrazada de lo que no es. Dicho así, esto tiene el semblante de un galimatías. Pero, en realidad, se trata de algo muy sencillo. Los hombres no están contentos con su suerte y casi todos —ricos o pobres, geniales o mediocres, célebres u oscuros— quisieran una vida distinta de la que viven. Para aplacar —tramposamente— ese apetito nacieron las ficciones. Ellas se escriben y se leen para que los seres humanos tengan las vidas que no se resignan a no tener. En el embrión de toda novela bulle una inconformidad, late un deseo insatisfecho.»

Indeed, novels lie – can’t do anything else – but this is only part of the story. The other part is that, lying, they express a curious truth, which can be only expressed covertly, dressed up as something it isn’t. Said like this, it sounds like goobledygook. But, really, it’s very simple. People are not content with their lot and almost all – rich or poor, genius or mediocre, famous or unknown – wish to have a different life from the one they live. Fiction appeared to satisfy – in a deceitful way – this appetite. It’s written and read so that human beings could have the lives that they can’t resign themselves to not having. All novels are born from dissent, from unsatisfied desire.”

(Mario Vargas Llosa:
La verdad de las mentiras / The Truth of the Lies)

Algo para pensar por la tarde de un sábado de lluvia.

Thought for a rainy Saturday afternoon.

 

Octubre (October)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

Durante cincuenta y seis años – desde cuando terminó la última guerra civil – el coronel no había hecho nada distinto de esperar. Octubre era una de las pocas cosas que llegaban.

(Gabriel García Márquez: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba)


“For nearly sixty years—since the end of the last civil war—the colonel had done nothing else but wait. October was one of the few things which arrived.”

(Gabriel García Márquez: No One Writes to the Colonel)

Appreciating Russians

Quote of the Week:

Venedikt Yerofeev (1038-1990)

“So tell us: where do they appreciate Russians more, this side of the Pyrenees, or the other?”

“Well, I don’t know about the other, but there’s no appreciation at all on this side. For instance, I was in Italy, and they don’t pay Russians a blind bit of notice there. All they do is sing and paint. I mean, one Italian’ll be standing singing, and another’ll be sitting beside him, painting the one that’s singing. And a bit further off there’ll be a third Italian, singing about the one that’s painting. It’d make you weep, and they don’t understand our sorrow.”

(Venedikt Yerofeev: Moscow Stations)

Why You Shouldn’t Lose Your Shield (Por qué no deberías perder tu escudo)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Plutarch (c. 46 AD – c. 120 AD)

When someone asked why they visited disgrace upon those among them who lost their shields, but did not do the same thing to those who lost their helmets or their breastplates, he [Demaratus] said, “Because these they put on for their own sake, but the shield for the common good of the whole line.”

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


Al preguntarle [a Demarato] alguien por qué entre ellos deshon- raban a quienes tiraban los escudos, y, en cambio, no a los que arrojaban los yelmos y las corazas, contestó: «Porque se revisten de esto para su propio beneficio, pero del escudo en beneficio del frente común.»

(Plutarco: Obras morales y de costumbres, III. Máximas de espartanos)

Fifty-three Minutes

Quote of the Week:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

“Good morning,” said the little prince.

”Good Morning,” said the salesclerk. This was a salesclerk who sold pills invented to quench thirst. Swallow one a week and you no longer feel any need to drink.

“Why do you sell these pills?”

“They save so much time,” the salesclerk said. “Experts have calculated that you can save fifty-three minutes a week.”

“And what do you do with those fifty-three minutes?”

“Whatever you like.”

“If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked,” the little prince said to himself, “I’d walk very slowly toward a water fountain…”

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The Little Prince)

Tacitus vs the Newspapers

Quote of the Week:

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

…during the Second World War he [Jorge Luis Borges] had considered giving up his habit of not reading the papers (because it made more sense to read the classics), but had decided instead to spend some time every day reading Tacitus on a different, early war. In a world like his, in which events repeat themselves ad infinitum, his decision was not without logic and Tacitus had the advantage of a superior style while, in his view, the content remained essentially the same.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

Don Quijote y el escudero vizcaíno (Don Quixote and the Biscayan Squire)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)

Todo esto que don Quijote decía escuchaba un escudero de los que el coche acompañaban, que era vizcaíno; el cual, viendo que no quería dejar pasar el coche adelante, sino que decía que luego había dar la vuelta al Toboso, se fue para don Quijote y, asiéndole de la lanza, le dijo, en mala lengua castellana y peor vizcaína, desta manera:

—Anda, caballero que mal andes; por el Dios que crióme que, si no dejas coche, así te matas como estás ahí vizcaíno.

Entendióle muy bien don Quijote, y con mucho sosiego le respondió:

—Si fueras caballero, como no lo eres, ya yo hubiera castigado tu sandez y atrevimiento, cautiva criatura.

—¿Yo no caballero? Juro a Dios tan mientes como cristiano. Si lanza arrojas y espada sacas, ¡el agua cuán presto verás que al gato llevas! Vizcaíno por tierra, hidalgo por mar, hidalgo por el diablo, y mientes que mira si otra dices cosa.

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha)


All this was listened to by a Biscayan Squire who accompanied the coach. He hearing that the coach was not to pass on but was to return to Toboso, went up to Don Quixote, and, laying hold of his lance, said to him: ‘Get away with thee, Sir Knight, for if thou leave not the coach I will kill thee as sure as I am a Biscayan.’

‘If,’ replied Don Quixote haughtily, ‘thou wert a gentleman, as thou art not, I would ere this have punished thy folly and insolence, caitiff creature.’

‘I no gentleman?’ cried the enraged Biscayan. ‘Throw down thy lance and draw thy sword, and thou shalt soon see that thou liest.’

(Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote de la Mancha, transl. by Judge Parry)

 

Note for English readers: 
You might wonder what this was all about? 
Regrettably, the English translation doesn't convey the joke - which is based on the Biscayan squire's bad Spanish. Understandably perhaps, this episode is generally omitted from most English versions; the version above renders the exchange in correct English. (And I had to consult three different translations before I found one that included it at all!) 
If you read the whole chapter, however, you may still find it enjoyable. You can find Parry's translation on Project Gutenberg:
⇒ Don Quixote of the Mancha (chapter VI - following on from the adventure of the windmills). Enjoy!

No One Is Above the Law (Nadie está por encima de la ley)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Plutarch (c. 46 AD – c. 120 AD)

When someone inquired why he [Demaratus] was an exile from Sparta, being a king, he said, “Because her laws are more powerful than I am.”

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


Cuando uno le preguntó [a Demarato] por qué estaba exilado de Esparta, siendo así que era rey, le respondió: «Porque sus leyes son más poderosas que yo.»

(Plutarco: Obras morales y de costumbres, III. Máximas de espartanos)

Aristotle Compares Authors (Aristóteles compara autores)

Quote of the Week / La cita de la semana:

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

Sophocles is an imitator of the same kind as Homer- for both imitate higher types of character; from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes- for both imitate persons acting and doing.

(Aristotle: Poetics)


Como imitador, Sófocles, por una parte, se asemeja a Homero, pues ambos representan a hombres superiores, y por otra, a Aristófanes, desde que todos exhiben que actúan y realizan algo.

(Aristóteles: La Poética)

 

You might also like / Quizás también te gusta:Aristotle on HomerAristotle on the Unity of Action / Aristóteles sobre la unidad de acciónAristotle on Comedy & Tragedy / Aristóteles sobre la comedia y la tragedia

Image credit:
Tilemahox Efthimiadis via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

When In Seville…

… do as the sevillanos do.

Quote of the Week:

Cees Nooteboom (1933-)

What can one do when the temperature rises to 40°C? Do as the Sevillans do: sigh, and wait until the sun has set to go out in search of coolness in gardens and churches to stroll along the Guadalquivir, but at a slow pace, until night spreads itself out like a black cloth over the city and the river, over the twelve-sided tower where the merchant ships set sail for the Indies, over the palm trees and the rose bushes, the lilies and the cypresses in the gardens of the Alcázar.

(Cees Nooteboom: Roads to Santiago)

The Seed of Resistance

Quote of the Week:

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas. Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless, the awakening of resistance. Life may grow from it as from a seed.

(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Flight to Arras)

 

Si un libro los aburre (If a Book Bores You)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)

Si un libro los aburre, déjenlo, no lo lean porque es famoso, no lean un libro porque es moderno, no lean un libro porque es antiguo. Si un libro es tedioso para ustedes, déjenlo… ese libro no ha sido escrito para ustedes. 

(Jorge Luis Borges: Borges profesor – curso de literatura inglesa en la Universidad de Buenos Aires)


If a book bores you, leave it, don’t read it because it’s famous, don’t read a book because it’s modern, don’t read a book because it’s ancient. If a book is tedious to you, don’t read it… that book was not written for you.

(Jorge Luis Borges:Profesor Borges – A Course on English Literature)

Muchísimas gracias, profesor. 🙂

Thank you, Professor. 🙂

Muerte natural (Natural Death)

La cita de la semana / Quote of the Week:

Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014)

Estás como para un acontecimiento —dijo.

—Este entierro es un acontecimiento —dijo el coronel—. Es el primer muerto de muerte natural que tenemos en muchos años.

(Gabriel García Márquez: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba)


‘You look as if you’re dressed for some special event,’ she said.

‘This burial is a special event,’ the colonel said. ‘It’s the first death from natural causes which weve had in many years.’

(Gabriel García Márquez: No One Writes to the Colonel)

 

Image credit: José Lara [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikipedia

The Enemy III (The Power of Life and Death)

We’ll remember the Exodus, the flight of many millions of French civilians from the advancing German army in June 1040, with another quote from Léon Werth’s book 33 Days.  (For the previous two quotes, please see the links below.)

Quote of the Week:

Léon Werth, 1878-1955

Behind this soldier is the entire might of the Reich, and the eyes of German soldiers are “full of victory,” as a peasant said to me. I’m obsessed by the idea that between this soldier and myself there is no man-to-man relationship or any relation determined by the laws and customs of a common country. There’s only the law of war, which is nothing but utility and caprice. Between him and me, it is understood that he has the power of life or death.

(Léon Werth: 33 Days)

 

You might also like:The EnemyThe Enemy II (The House Which They Enter Whenever They Like)