Sunday, May 2, 2021

LAUNCH EVENT: Spanish-English edition of Clive James' poetry


A bilingual Spanish-English volume of Australian Clive James' poetry has just been published.

Title: "Fin de Fiesta. Últimos Poemas". (Publisher, Pre-Textos.) Launch: 4 May, 19.00h, bookshop, Pau Claris, 144 Barcelona.

Reservations (Max. 20 people:) Email correu@documenta-bcn.com ... OR follow event on Instagram:

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Noam Chomsky trending on Twitter in Spain

Astounding that #Chomsky can be #TrendingNow in Spain on Twitter.

It's also encouraging that a progressive, democratic Socialist can do that anywhere on the planet.

Considering that the mainstream media has a virtual ban against him for telling the truth about capitalism and corruption it's even more surprising.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

"Thanks to Life:" Mercedes Sosa - Gracias A La Vida

  


Just over 10 years ago I first posted this video and have now replaced it with a version that is still available. 

Mercedes Sosa - Gracias A La Vida - YouTube: surely one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded in the Spanish language (and one of the most well-known songs in Latin America apparently.)

[Lyrics translated into English:]


Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,
And from within the multitude
The one that I love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
"Mother," "Friend," "Brother" and the light shining.
The route of the soul from which comes love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your patio.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human mind,
When I see good, so far from bad,
When I see within the clarity of your eyes...

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—
The two materials from which my songs are formed,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone's song, which is my very own song.


Sunday, April 4, 2021

"New Book Details the Lives of Vincent van Gogh’s Sisters Through Their Letters"

L to R: Anna, the eldest van Gogh sister; Elisabeth, or Lies; and Willemien, the youngest, who was better known as Wil (Illustration by Meilan Solly / Photos via Wikimedia Commons under public domain)


  

"Much ink has been spilled about Vincent van Gogh’s relationship with his younger brother Theo, an art dealer who steadfastly supported the painter’s career even as his mental health deteriorated toward the end of his life.

Comparatively, far less has been said about the lives of the artist’s three sisters: Anna, the eldest; Elisabeth, or Lies; and Willemien, the youngest, who was better known as Wil. Now, reports Dalya Alberge for the Guardian, a new book by Dutch art historian Willem-Jan Verlinden seeks to help rectify this imbalance.

Aptly titled The Van Gogh Sistersthe upcoming release draws on hundreds of previously unpublished letters written by the three women, many of which are printed in English for the first time. (A Dutch version of the book was initially published in 2016.)

As Verlinden writes on his website, the work “provides an impression of the changing role of women in the 19th and early 20th century, of modernization, industrialization, education, feminism and the fin de siècle, of 19th-century art and literature, and—of course—of Vincent’s death and his meteoric rise to fame.”

Read more from  article at The Smithsonian Mag.



Sunday, March 28, 2021

Barcelona's homeless union now a reality

 

Spikes to stop street sleepers outside a shop on la Rambla

 "A homeless union is born in Barcelona: "There cannot be people sleeping on the street with 13,000 empty flats", they say’."

[From elDiario.es here: (First found through Business Over Tapas news service.)]


AND see here for semi-related news of the latest Covidiocy: Last night's planned insanity/experiment/super-spreader event in Barcelona.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

"A bigger hassle" -- My latest opinion article for Catalonia Today magazine

[Pic: JOSEP LOSADA: Protesters in Barcelona]

Riots, disturbances, protests, brutal human rights violations, night-time shenanigans or “police-community liaison?”

The events that began immediately after the election here in Lleida, Barcelona and Girona (as well as Valencia and Madrid) can be called whatever you like.

But anyone who thinks that it’s all about something as abstract as freedom of expression is fooling themself.

Young and not so young people are marching, chanting, smashing shop windows, looting and doing the now routine burning of rubbish hoppers for much wider-ranging reasons than just the imprisonment of yet another rapper. That was merely a trigger.


Quite appropriately the other day, I was standing, for a change, not sitting, in my lounge room when I watched a young Catalan on Euronews TV intelligently selected by the editors possibly to give a more comprehensive explanation for why he and his friends ventured out into the cold and put themselves at risk of arrest or worse. (At the time of writing, another citizen had lost an eye from a rubber bullet.) 


The young man in a black face mask with both his eyes still good enough to show on camera, made a point that is entirely absent from most media reports and commentary. While all the action was going on behind him, he was intent on saying that Spain is the worst in Europe for youth unemployment, currently still over 40%. He could also have commented on under-employment as a chronic symptom here since the 2009 economic “crisis.” 


It’s no coincidence that some demonstrators focused their aggression and frustration on banks, destroying furniture and equipment after breaking in. As a symbol of capitalism’s failure for the average person there is no better target of what to smash up.


The pandemic has not created record cases of house evictions or already low salaries unchanged for more than a decade. It has simply made the system we live under more punishingly extreme.


One of the most relevant facts also in the background to the latest episode of “hit the streets and get hit” now applies to at least two generations of people.


Those who are my son's age (late teens, up to early 30s and my generation in our 50s) who are available to be “gainfully employed” simply are not put to good or fair use. This too breeds frustration. 


In my own case, for the last 9 months or so of the pandemic, the best that hyper-capitalism is offering to someone like me with two university degrees and two decades of experience in classrooms with adults and teenagers is that all we can hope for is a patchy timetable teaching little kids in China. Online for 10 euros or less an hour. 


In other words, anyone in a job is supposed to consider themselves lucky and be thankful for getting paid peanuts. Especially if you live in Barcelona, peanuts simply don’t pay the rent or the mortgage. That is also why huge numbers of adults under 30 continue to live in the family home.


Equally, there’s one other crucial element that has hardly been reported. The jailed rapper in question (whose name may as well be spelt hassle, not Hasel) has also criticised [alleged] previous torture and death of demonstrators and migrants, aside from his lyrics about the corruption of those higher up our economic and social food chain.


Plenty of local people know that. It motivates them. 


So why is this not being stated in media outlets who can get away with exercising freedom of expression? 



[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, March 2020.]



Sunday, March 14, 2021

I vote, therefore I am? -- An opinion from Lenox


From the editor of BoT (Business Over Tapas) news service...



"News arrives that an elderly Briton living in Italy was finally successful in his long-term campaign to persuade the British Government to allow Brits living abroad the right to vote. 


Each country has its own rules about this chestnut. The British either lose their vote after fifteen years abroad; or they don’t, because they never had it in the first place (being born abroad or leaving the UK as a minor). Most other nationalities do not lose this right. 


The idea is that we Brits abroad should finally have representation in the World’s Greatest Democracy. What this means is unclear, since the Parliamentary Member for North Norfolk (for example) might have a few dozen supporters living across the world – all of them clueless about sugar-beet and the price of Norfolk wherries (it’s an obscure type of barge). 


Much better we expatriate Brits, all thirteen million of us (Wiki) of which 1.2 million are estimated to be living in the EU (here) – that’s about the size of the city of Brussels by the way – get some useful representation where we live. 


Just for comparison, the official number of Brits in Spain (even after Brexit) is around the same size as the city of Alicante, or ten times the size of the city of Teruel (here). 

Having the vote – probably even swinging the vote – for the Brexit referendum would have been very useful, but it's not much use to us expatriates any more, unless Westminster allows foreign-based constituencies.


The French have eleven of these, representing the French citizens who live outside of their motherland (Wiki). The MP (deputy) for the French diaspora in Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Monaco is called Samantha Cazebonne. I’m sure she is kept busy.

So, unless we have someone who solely represents us Brit expatriates in Westminster, there's not much point. 


My constituency was North Norfolk, and I haven't been back there since I left the UK (via public school somewhere) at the age of 16. Would the different candidates write me glowing testimonials about their work with sugar beet futures? After careful consideration, which one would I chose to represent me (or rather, not represent me) in Westminster? Hmm, tricky.


In general terms, having the vote – or rather representation – here in Europe would be much more useful and fair. So thank you Beacon of Democracy, but I’ll not be bothering to vote. "

                                                                                                                    Lenox Dixit


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

"Yemen: The 9-year-old war-zone school teacher"


 The most moving 90 seconds of TV I've seen in a long time.

"In the city of Taiz, Yemen, hundreds of children arrive for lessons each day in the ruins of a school near to front-line fighting between the government and Houthi rebels.

Ahmed, a nine-year-old boy who has been blind since birth, steps in to take classes when the teachers can't make it.

One in every five Yemeni schools is out of use, according to Unicef. But at this one, teachers decided to open it despite the damage, so that education could continue."

Produced by Orla Guerin, Goktay Koraltan, Claire Read, Ahmed Baider and Suad al-Salahi.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

"The time has come to #FightTheDebt"

"A tsunami of debt has crashed over the world, and billions of people are drowning.

This week, the G20 will meet to decide the direction of the global economic recovery — and we are demanding debt justice.

The G20 governments are the major creditors to the world. But instead of sending emergency support to the world's poor countries, they have helped big banks and vulture funds to collect money that is desperately needed for public health.

We need to break this system of exploitation — and replace it with a system centred on debt justice and the delivery of green and just transitions everywhere.

This struggle is not new. For decades, peoples and nations have fought debt as an instrument of neocolonial extraction.

Today, we take forward that legacy in a global campaign to #FightTheDebt, using this historic opportunity to advance the cause of debt justice."

Download the Briefing & Read Our Demands

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"Eva's eye" -- My latest article for Catalonia Today magazine

 

[Photo: Eva Parey, from Expulsiones Anunciadas]

Even if you just look at the titles of just a few of her solo exhibitions before you focus on the poignancy of her photography, you can get an idea of the scope of Eva Parey’s work: ‘Expulsions Foretold,’ ‘Chernobil Beach,’ ‘Princesses for sale,’ ‘Forced Nomads,’ ‘Gypsy lives,’ ‘The daughters of Durga.’  


From last summer until now, the Covid-19 pandemic was also the subject of an especially harrowing set of photos she took of life in Barcelona’s streets and treatment rooms. It has also meant that several of Eva’s recent exhibitions have had to move online.


I would say it’s near impossible to do justice to the best photography by attempting to use words to describe or comment on it. What I can express is how I’m taken in by her images because of the pure humanity that shines through them and how sensitively she frames her subjects. 


The nucleus of her whole catalogue is people and the living environment but more particularly, people from minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds.


These include children in Barcelona’s eviction-ravaged Meridiana, ethnic Kalash animists, slum-dwelling women in Mumbai, the victims of new segregation along the Slovak wall and Pakistani immigrants in Barcelona (including her photos of men at prayer in a mosque).


Much of Eva’s work can be viewed on her website (EvaParey.com). One project  she talks about there that has been widely displayed in galleries across Catalonia is titled ‘East Winds.’


According to her it’s “a portrait of the Romani Diaspora [concentrating on a family headed by Ioana,] a matriarch whose 15 children are dispersed across Europe, between Romania, France, Germany and Spain.”


In the section of pictures called ‘Under a Hot Tin Roof’ she says that “After living for a while in Barcelona, Ioana decided to return to Romania, taking care of her grandchildren.”


In Eva’s opinion her children “aspire to be like their elders who are their role models, putting them in the same position as their predecessors once they become adults: at the mercy of political decisions, socio-economic ups and downs and socially at the back of the queue. Emigration is the only way out.”


Her skills are not restricted to fixed images though. Recently, Eva’s first documentary film became available through Filmin. Called ‘Arrels fondes’ (Deep roots) and jointly directed by Pep Martínez, it’s an hour length co-production with IB3 Television in Catalan with English or Castellano subtitles.


As a “journey through the branches of memory on the island of Formentera from the Franco regime to its opening to tourism, locals on the island of Formentera narrate how they survived the famine in the mid-1950s.


Through autumn to summer, the island's transformation is shown, “from tranquillity to tourist saturation with globalization causing the inevitable loss of certain ancestral customs, despite the retired peasants remaining rooted in land and sea; a deep bond that few young people inherit.”


Eva appears to not be content with her substantial creative output since 2006, sharing her knowledge by teaching photography at the Tecnocampus University of Mataró and photojournalism at the UPF in Barcelona. Her professional history also includes participation in collective and group shows such as ‘Photojournalists: looking at violence against women in the world,’ which was held in Barcelona’s Institut Català de la Dona in 2019.


George Orwell wrote that “ As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.” I’d argue that the progressive left could certainly do with a lot less factional tribalists and a lot more people like Eva Parey.

She’s someone who quietly gets on with using their empathy and talents to reveal the human damage that the capitalist machine is doing every day to countless millions across our groaning planet.

(This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, Feb. 2020.)

From Eva Parey's webpage...

EXPULSIONS FORETOLD

In the summer of 2010 the French government ordered the mass expulsion of thousands of Roma during August and September after the riots in Saint-Aignan that were triggered by the death of a Roma at the hands of the police.

 

Some of Ioana’s children were living in camps on the outskirts of Lille in France. The police arrived with an expulsion order for everyone to leave within 24 hours. When the time was up they led them to the Belgian border or deported them by plane on the understanding that they would not return to French soil. Many left voluntarily in order to be able to return.

 

This happens every year to Roma people from Eastern Europe. The French government continues expelling Gypsies, nowadays offering no form of financial help.






















Sunday, February 14, 2021

"ESTATAMBESTAT/ESTATCONTRAESTAT" -- EXHIBITIONS AND SHOETANK PERFORMANCE 2020, Xavier G Solis"

 


"Xavier G-Solís held two exhibitions entitled ESTATAMBESTAT/ESTATCONTRAESTAT:

. 1 October - 8 November 2020, at Sala dels Trinitaris in Vilafranca del Penedès . 5 November - 5 December 2020, at Galeria Contrast in Barcelona

[The artist's words:] These exhibitions were initially due to open in March 2020, but were postponed when the state of emergency was declared. And so, the first global pandemic makes up a large part of both exhibitions. The video presents the performance SHOETANK and the two exhibitions that talk about the social situation in Catalonia after the sentencing of the elected Catalan politicians who organised the referendum for independence on October 1, 2017. The world has changed, but the repression of individual and collective freedom of expression in Spain continues to take place with total impunity."

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

"Pandemic as Polemic" ' -- Online seminar from the University of Barcelona


 "The Covid-19 pandemic has been a great challenge for everybody, individually and socially, and has raised many questions about lifestyle, environment, social and economic inequality, health policies, science and especially governance and politics. 

Covid-19, its development, impact and effects form the basis of most current debates in our media and politics, and the illness has therefore become a rich interface of conflict that exacerbates contemporary inequalities and creates new ones. Yet, polemic can also be the source of renovation and construction, and as such, Covid-19 needs and deserves to be discussed from a multidisciplinary, global perspective. 

The Barcelona November 2021 seminar Australian and Transnational Studies Centre│Fac. of Philology│U of Barcelona│Gran Via, 585│08007 Barcelona, Spain 

Pandemic as Polemic aims to provide such a floor for open-minded discussion. 

We invite scholars to submit proposals for panels, posters and papers on the topic, from whatever point of view or discipline. • Submissions should include an abstract of 200-300 words in the language of the paper (choose one of the nine languages listed below) as well as in English, together with a brief biography in English. All should be sent to the scientific committee no later than 15 May. • Acceptation of proposals will be informed by 15 June. 

The seminar will be held ON LINE on Thursday 4th and Friday 5th November, and is free of charge, but registration is needed at the e-mail address ceatubenrolment@gmail.com. 

The CEAT will send the information and links for the Seminar to the registered participants. English, Catalan and Spanish will be the languages of the Seminar, but participants can submit ad give their communications in German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Galician and Basque as well. No translation will be provided. 

For further information and submission of proposals contact us at ceatsubmissions@gmail.com Scientific committee: Dr. Isabel Alonso Breto, Dr. Montserrat Camps-Gaset, Dr. Maria Grau-Perejoan, and Dr. Martin Renes. "





Sunday, February 7, 2021

Deaf woman chosen as Podemos spokesperson in Valencia's parliament

[Photo: Europa Press]

In an historical first, Spanish progressive-left party Podemos has chosen Pilar Lima, who is hearing-impaired, as their parliamentary spokesperson in the Valencian parliament. She will communicate in sign-language.


 Source: Business Over Tapas. (A superb news summary service.)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Covid, Brando and Moore what's more

   

[Colour-blind Covid warning]
Imagine...6 months from now the Covid-19 virus is able to breed in the air. 

   We are all scrabbling suddenly on the internet to buy "virus- safe" filters for the windows and air conditioners in our houses after another full lockdown/confinement/quarantine/international panic. 

   Imagine...There's the above possibility (or "potential", the word I keep hearing everywhere on mainstream media and the Twittersphere.) 

Somehow in my mind this is connected with a brilliant documentary I watched yesterday ("Listen to Me Marlon") on that most authentic of humans, Brando. He was one of the first males to use the power of suggestion in body and face language and movement, all coming from his harvesting and harnessing of childhood memory of his mother and a solitary upbringing in the open air and nature. 

He realised the primacy and goodness of Tahitians, indigenous first nation Americans, and was one of the few celebrities who put his body on the line in the early proto-BlackLivesMatter public protests in the late 1960s. 

He was with Martin Luther King around the time he was assassinated and years later still felt moved enough that he could still recall the sound of that brave soul's voice. Brando seemed to work and live his life as an expression of pure authenticity. 

One of the few writers who is doing the same today is Suzanne Moore. She just reeks of it: the unabashed openness of being herself. In a highly unfashionable act, she wrote recently about the importance of Freud, remembering him as he understood the babyish primacy of memory, childhood, want and nakedness.