In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood–
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What’s madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks–is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Theodore Roethke

Jan Brueghel the Elder /jɑn ˈbɾøːxəl/ (1568 – January 13, 1625) was a Flemish painter, son of Pieter Bruegel the Elder and father of Jan Brueghel the Younger. Nicknamed “Velvet” Brueghel, “Flower” Brueghel, and “Paradise” Brueghel, of which the latter two were derived from his floral still lifes which were his favored subjects, while the former may refer to the velveteen sheen of his colors or to his habit of wearing velvet.

He was born in Brussels. His father died in 1569, and then, following the death of his mother in 1578, Jan, along with his brother Pieter Brueghel the Younger and sister Marie, went to live with their grandmother Mayken Verhulst (widow of Pieter Coecke van Aelst). She was an artist in her own right, and according to Carel van Mander, possibly the first teacher of the two sons. The family moved to Antwerp sometime after 1578.

In about 1589 Jan traveled to Italy, probably via Cologne. There he resided first in Naples, where his patron was Francesco Carracciolo. Next he moved to Rome, working for several discerning cardinals including, most famously, Federico Borromeo. It was in the company of Borromeo that Brueghel left Rome and took up residence in Milan, where he was part of the Cardinal’s household. In the summer of 1596 he returned to Antwerp, where he remained for the rest of his life apart from short journeys to Prague and to the Dutch Republic.

Many of his paintings are collaborations in which figures by other painters were placed in landscapes painted by Jan Brueghel; in other cases, Brueghel painted the figures into another artist’s landscape or architectural interior. The most famous of his collaborators was Peter Paul Rubens in several of his small pictures—such as his “Vertumnus and Pomona,” the “Satyr viewing the Sleeping Nymph,” and the “Terrestrial Paradise.”. He had a studio in Antwerp, where he died from cholera on January 13, 1625.

Source:  Wiki

A Closer Look at ‘The Wine of St. Martin’s Day’

NY Times – Michael Kimmelman

“The Wine of St. Martin’s Day,” a previously ignored painting by the 16th-century Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder, has recently created a sensation at the Prado museum in Madrid. Roll your mouse over the image to take a closer look.

The scene shows the festivities on the first day when a new wine is tasted, which happens to coincide with St. Martin’s Day. St. Martin can been seen on the right, on horseback, slicing off a part of his cloak to aid a supplicant. On the left revelers suffer the consequences of drink, and in the background is a seascape, now mostly lost. The work has deteriorated as patches of paint have flaked off, and the surface is gauzy and matte. Even so, the quality of the painting is evident in the delicacy and expressiveness of the faces, hands, feet, shoes and other details.

Related Article:  When Overlooked Art Turns Celebrity

Agnes Obel, invited to “Live”

Le Figaro – By Olivier Nuc (English Translation)

VIDÉOS – The Danish singer is the guest of “Live.” Discover three of her songs and an exclusive interview.

She has published with the gracious Philharmonics (PIAS) one of the most beautiful drives in the past year. Danish now installed in the German capital, Agnes Obel weaves subtle and delicate compositions that she dresses in a haunting voice.

The album has already garnered a great success in our country, making it a revelation to follow. Prior to shine solo, the beautiful has participated in numerous musical projects, none of whom had crossed the borders of Denmark. “I compose songs for a long time, but I never found a way to incorporate them into my projects,” she said to justify the relatively late arrival of this first disc.

It is by moving to Berlin four years ago she took over his sketches to develop them into fully fledged songs. “The first time I went, in 2004, I literally fell in love with the city, to the point to consider moving there.” Admirer of the songs well written, it takes on his album (I Keep A ) Close Watch John Cale, ex-Velvet Underground. “I love how the lyrics and music complement this romantic, dark harmonies that shift from minor to major.”

On his own compositions, she has opted for an orchestration very stripped her voice, her piano, sometimes guitar or cello. “I make great pop song structures, which sometimes borrow to classical. I like to work alone in this simplicity. If she does not find the energy of a collective future is solo she will focus in the coming years in order to defend songs Philharmonics and make those of his successor.

Lost hope for Lorca’s missing grave

Other victims’ relatives and hispanist Ian Gibson wish for search resumption


“Not a single bone. Not even a splinter, no matter how small.” Francisco Carrión, head of the team digging in Alfacar, near Granada, for the remains of a man shot and buried in a mass grave during the Civil War, made this statement exactly one year ago. The team had spent nearly two months searching for the body of Francisco Galadí, a bullfighter who was thought to lie in the same grave as Federico García Lorca, and the media pounced on the possibility that the famous poet’s body might also turn up during the search.

But 73 years after the execution and an investment of 70,000 euros in the search effort, the only thing that experts found in the ground was an enormous rock. The regional government of Andalusia, which sponsored the dig, has already said it has no intention of continuing the effort. The most famous poet in Spain will, for now, continue to also be the country’s most famous missing person.

“That was the spot that most of the historical references pointed to. We did everything in our power. We were never searching for Lorca, but for Francisco Galadí, as his family requested. We closed the case and put the file up on a shelf. We will not continue to look for that grave anywhere else,” declares Juan Gallo, the Andalusian government’s commissioner for the recovery of historical memory…

Gibson, who has spent 45 years studying Lorca, is not giving up, either. Last week he presented a new book, La fosa de Lorca, crónica de un despropósito (or, Lorca’s grave, the chronicle of an absurdity), which he says helped him vent his frustration. “I feel sick. I think about this all day long. I fear for my mental health,” he confessed to this newspaper two days before reading the report that recorded the failure. “In order to try to keep a balance, I wrote a diary that ended up as this book. I felt very anguished…

The hispanist also suggests there might possibly be a pact of silence between the regime and the Lorca family, which has always opposed looking for the poet’s bones. “If the [conservative] Popular Party wins the next elections, it will do nothing to look for Lorca,” adds Gibson, arguing that the PP still wants to prevent the country from examining the “holocaust” that took place in Spain. “I am 71 years old. And the failure of this search will pain me to the death.”

Close Watch

Never win and never lose
There’s nothing much to choose
Between the right and wrong
Nothing lost and nothing gained
Still things aren’t quite the same
Between you and me

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

I still hear your voice at night
When I turn out the light
And try to settle down
But there’s nothing much I can do
Because I can’t live without you
Any way at all

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep a close watch on this heart of mine

Original Song By John Cale

Civil War strategists join combat

Spain’s conflict can be fought anew with the board game ‘1936 Guerra Civil’


It’s happening all over again. The Republicans have capitulated in Maestrazgo, cutting the loyalist Mediterranean area in two, and Madrid is under siege from the Nationalist forces. But Franco is not at his military command in Burgos. Nor is the Republic’s war cabinet sitting. No, we are in the Generación X comic and gamers’ shop in Puebla street, in the capital’s Malasaña neighborhood, one of the places where 1936 Guerra Civil is on sale, and this journalist, supposedly the Republican strategist, is getting a pretty solid beating from the game’s creator, Arturo García.

“The Nationalists always start the game,” says this telecommunications engineer, who began working on the project in 2000, spending six years on it before it was finally ready to be manufactured. The detail seems logical, seeing as it was the rebel army officials whose attempted coup d’état plunged Spain into conflict in 1936. Indeed, this is the essential point of García’s creation: history can be altered through the playing of his game, but only thanks to a complex interplay of the elements that made the Spanish Civil War one of the key episodes of 20th-century history…

García has gone to great lengths to express the complexity of the two sides, from the genuinely radical fascists of the Falange to stuffy monarchists within Nationalist ranks, and the dizzying variety of political strains – from liberal republicans to hardcore anarchists and communists – on the other. The different forces have different kinds of impact on the game: militia forces are easier to mobilize due to their “enthusiasm” ranking, while at one point García opts to put Alfonso XIII back on the throne using the influence gained from playing the Abc conservative newspaper card.

“This game is against simplification, both now and then. It wasn’t a simple conflict between fascists and communists and the game makes the distinctions within the two sides visible,” García says. “On the winning side, many ended up as losers,” he adds, citing the examples of Falangists and monarchists…

García is clear about one thing, however. Much as he appreciates the freedom he was able to enjoy in his solo project, he would not finance another game himself, having spent four years promoting the final product and still barely managing to have broken even on the deal. But, he acknowledges, he has been free to control all aspects of the product, making the number of cards and features exact multiples of the magic number, 36. And the price? Thirty-six euros. “That’s the advantage of producing it yourself,” he says…

Back in our game, and with García giving the Republican side more than a helping hand – perhaps out of sympathy for the novice sitting in front of him or because of his own natural sympathy toward the legitimate government of 1930s Spain – the Republicans are staging a dramatic comeback. The decision to attack Madrid by the Nationalists proves a fatal error (“the communists are better at defending than attacking”), the Republicans build up morale with a simple victory at Toledo’s Alcázar and end up pulverizing Franco’s forces at Brunete for total victory. This journalist’s prime minister, Fernando de los Ríos, did not live to see the Republic’s triumph, but the dream of democracy was kept alive…

Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel is a Danish singer/songwriter. Her first album, Philharmonics, was released by PIAS Recordings on 4 October 2010 in Denmark, Germany and other European countries. Agnes Obel was born Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel in 1981. Living in Copenhagen, and coming from a musician family, Agnes Obel learn to play the piano at a very young age.

With the help of Danish musician and producer Elton Theander, Obel has founded a Copenhagen based band : Sohio. After few years of collaboration, Obel started as a solo singer with her first album : Philharmonics (2010). Agnes Obel writes, plays, sings, records and produces her material all by herself.

She has been influenced by artists as Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, John Cale, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Joanna Newsom, Kate Bush and, also, by French composers : Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Eric Satie. Obel lives in Berlin.

Philharmonics has garnered generally positive review with for example James Skinner from BBC saying that “the compositions… are slow, sombre, sepulchral even, but not without a sense of occasionally singular beauty”.

In a french cultural magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, Johanna Seban speaks about a “disarming purity” and says : “There is, in her ballads intensely melancholy, the purity and reassuring nobility of the bedside’s discs.”

In Musicomh, Ben Edgell says : “Obel sings with a hushed and tender grace that waxes wistful and serene over yearning cello, harp, and piano vignettes. She’s a fey siren, with a dusky, near-whispered vocal that speaks to Ane Brun or Eva Cassidy.”

Philharmonics contains three titles purely instrumentals : Falling and Catching, Louretta, Wallflower. Her song “Just So” was featured in a Deutsche Telekom commercial in Germany and three songs were on the soundtrack to the movie Submarino by Thomas Vinterberg.

Listen to the Nacional del Prado audioguide

Gypsies fly the ‘Chicken Roost’

Police pressure is seeing families flee the Cañada Real Galiana shantytown in Madrid


A ghetto within a ghetto, El Gallinero, or the Chicken Roost, has been home to around 100 Romanian Gypsy families since they moved to the Cañada Real Galiana shantytown on the eastern edge of Madrid in 2007.

Conditions for the other 45,000 inhabitants of Cañada Real are grim, but in the hierarchy of misery in the EU’s largest slum of this kind, located just 15 minutes from the center of the capital, the Romanian Gypsies have always been at the very bottom of the pile. Living on less than 100 euros a month in ramshackle huts without electricity or running water, some families had resorted to stealing copper wire and selling it at rock-bottom prices. A byproduct of this activity was a huge amount of plastic casing, which had been stripped from the wiring and left in piles around the slum.

In late November, the Civil Guard put a stop to the illicit trade, raiding El Gallinero and arresting 37 men, 25 of whom are being held, accused of violent robbery. Since then, a growing number of families has begun to drift away, with at least a quarter of them abandoning their makeshift homes already, according to Church groups and other outreach volunteers who work in the area.

The remaining families say that they are likely to follow suit, accusing the police of a systematic policy of harassment, or because they have been issued with expulsion orders or face arrest. They add that the families that have left were linked to the men arrested for stealing copper and other metals such as aluminum.

The Civil Guard says that those remaining lack the means to leave, adding that they are not linked to the trade in stolen metals, and, as EU citizens, are entitled to be in Spain. They continue to scratch a living by begging in the center of Madrid, or by working for the Spanish Gypsies living in other areas of Cañada Real.

The remaining residents say that the uniformed officers of the National Police are making life hard for them, and seem determined to clear the area. They say that officers make regular late-night visits to demand to see papers, that they even throw stones at the huts, and have damaged cars in a bid to force the Romanians to move on. A spokesman for the National Police said that they have the area under surveillance, and routinely visit houses to ask for documentation, but denied any abuse of residents…

Nobody knows where the families have gone and the remaining inhabitants say that while they too will follow, they do not know where to go either. Following the decision of the Sarkozy government to target Romanian Gypsies, expelling hundreds of them this summer, few in El Gallinero say that they will be headed to France. Neither will they be headed home either: “Romania is much colder and much poorer even than here,” said one resident.

As for the rest of the Cañada Real, which runs for around 20 kilometers along an ancient sheep-droving route, regional and local governments have repeatedly pledged to clear it over the last 30 years. But still it remains, and in the process has become Europe’s largest drugs supermarket.

Did Neanderthals practice cannibalism?

Bones found in Asturias show evidence they were eaten by fellow hominids


Around 50,000 years ago, deep in a forest in what is now Asturias, in northern Spain, a family of around a dozen members was slaughtered and their remains eaten by cannibals. The bones lay briefly on the ground, but were then washed down into a cave during a storm. And there they lay, scattered on the cave floor, untouched through the centuries, until in 1994, cavers came upon the gruesome relics.

It was initially believed that the bones belonged to Republican guerrillas, who were supposed to have hidden out in the caves during the Spanish Civil War. But police forensic scientists soon confirmed that the bones were much, much older.

The cave complex, known as El Sidrón, has since become one of the most important sites on the planet for the study of our distant ancestors the Neanderthals, who spread across Europe and Asia from about 240,000 to 30,000 years ago. Researchers have found almost 2,000 bone fragments in the cave, some of which have yielded DNA.

A paper published last week in US journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a Spanish team that has spent the last 16 years analyzing the bones provides the first glimpse of Neanderthal social structures, prompting the question as to whether the family was murdered for ritual reasons, or whether hunger drove their killers.

When the scientists closely examined the Neanderthal bones, they found cut marks – signs that blades had been used to slice muscle from bone. The long bones had been snapped open. Scientists have found indications of cannibalism among Neanderthals at other sites, but El Sidrón is exceptional for the scale of evidence…

But starvation may have been only one explanation for cannibalism, says Rosas, because it is also possible that the Neanderthals in the cave resorted to the practice just to complement their meager diets, and did so as part of some obscure and still unknown ritual.

“Those signs of cannibalism could tell us something of the spiritual life of the Neanderthals,” Rosas says, “but more research is needed.” As the investigators examined bone fragments, they tried to match them to each other. Some loose teeth fit neatly into jawbones, for example. “The whole thing was quite complicated. In fact, it was a mess,” says Lalueza-Fox. He and his colleagues eventually identified 12 individuals. The shape of the bones allowed the scientists to estimate their age and sex. The bones belonged to three men, three women, three teenage boys and three children, including one infant…

Lalueza-Fox argues that the Neanderthals must have been closely related. “If you go to the street and sample 12 individuals at random, there’s no way you’re going to find seven out of 12 with the same mitochondrial lineage,” he says.

All three men had the same mitochondrial DNA, which could mean they were brothers, cousins, or uncles. The females, however, all came from different lineages. Lalueza-Fox suggests that Neanderthals lived in small bands of close relatives. When two bands met, they sometimes exchanged daughters…


end – 😉