Thursday, 25 March 2010
This is from George Orwell's 1949 review of Gandhi's autobiography:
Close friendships, Gandhi says, are dangerous, because "friends react on one another" and through loyalty to a friend one can be led into wrong-doing. This is unquestionably true. Moreover, if one is to love God, or to love humanity as a whole, one cannot give one's preference to any individual person. This again is true, and it marks the point at which the humanistic and the religious attitude cease to be reconcilable. To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi--with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction--always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth. This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which--I think--most people would give to the word, it is inhuman. The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one's love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid.
And this is from Leonard Cohen's novel, Beautiful Losers published in 1966:
What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Friday, 19 March 2010
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
The Paris literary journal
Upstairs at Duroc
invites you to a reading in honor of France’s Poetry Month
Le Printemps des Poètes
with recent work both in English and French (with English translations) by poets
When: Thursday March 18, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Where: The American Library in Paris, 10 rue du Général Camou,75007 Paris
Métro: Ecole Militaire or RER Pont de l’Alma.
French poet Vannina Maestri lives and works in Paris. She has published many books of poetry, including Vie et aventures de Norton ou Ce qui est visible à l'oeil nu (Editions Al Dante, 2002), Mobiles (Al Dante, 2005), and Il ne faut plus s'énerver (Editions Dernier Télégramme, 2008). Her work has been featured in many journals and anthologies. She was co-editor of the magazine JAVA, as well as participating in radio programs and poetry readings. She was the Centre National du Livre grant recipient in 2003.
Rufo Quintavalle was born in London in 1978 and lives in Paris. He is the author of the chapbook, Make Nothing Happen (Oystercatcher Press, 2009), is on the editorial board of Upstairs at Duroc and is currently Acting Poetry Editor for the online magazine, Nthposition. His work has been widely published around the world and was recently nominated for a Puschcart Prize.
Alexandra Sashe, born in Moscow in 1976, graduated with a degree in English and Italian linguistics from Moscow University. Her work has been published recently in The Journal, The Delinquent, Equinox, Decanto, Paroles des Jours and La Reata.
Mark Terrill shipped out of San Francisco as a merchant seaman to the Far East and beyond, studied and spent time with Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco, and has lived in Europe since 1984. He is the author of 16 volumes of poetry, memoir and translations, including the Salvador-Dalai-Lama Express (Main Street Rag, 2008), Superabundance (Longhouse, 2008) and The United Colors of Death (Pathwise Press, 2003). Recently he guest-edited a special German Poetry issue of the Atlanta Review. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he currently lives near Hamburg, Germany, where he co-edits the poetry journal Full Metal Poem.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
No real surprises in last night's other fixtures except perhaps the magnitude of AC Milan's defeat at the hands of Manchester United. Wayne Rooney who appears to have got his temper problem under control (is this a side-effect of becoming a new father?) has matured into a wonderful player and scored twice last night as the Mancunians obliterated their fellow European heavyweights 4-0 (7-2 on aggregate). Milan won this competition in 2007 but having refused to rebuild their team since then their defeat last night was no surprise. They have too many players the wrong side of 30 and while regular visits to the plastic surgeon can keep their president, Silvio Berlusconi, looking young and shiny (well, shiny at any rate) no such equivalent exists for professional sportsmen.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Monday, 8 March 2010
Friday, 5 March 2010
Thursday, 4 March 2010
1. I agreed with the criticisms. Domenech is an appalling trainer who should have gone a long time ago, and Henry no longer has the necessary moral authority to be captain. If John Terry can be stripped of the England captaincy for sleeping with a team-mate's girlfriend, an affair that has nothing to do with football, then why should Henry be allowed to keep the captain's arm-band after his flagrant spot of cheating against Ireland in the World Cup play-offs?
2. Football fans, for all the bad press they get, are a docile bunch who put up with a lot of crap a lot of the time. There were 80.000 people in the stadium last night. A sizeable minority were supporting Spain and there must have been a few neutrals as well but still 50 thousand or so were there to watch France. They had all paid between 20 and 100 euros to be there. That works out at something like two and a half million euros. As I said football fans tend to be a loyal, long-suffering bunch but if, with that level of investment, your team regularly puts in performances like France did last night then it is only right for the worm to turn.
Monday, 1 March 2010
New work is posted every month; if you want to submit then write to me at rquintav AT gmail DOT com. Send up to six poems embedded in the body of an email. No attachments please! We accept all styles of poetry. For more information see here or browse in the extensive archive.