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Sunday surprise – beauties, Beauty

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — i’m inclined to call these beauties respective variants on Beauty physical, mental, and spiritual ]

Beauty is beautiful, and never more so than when she conveys Beauty:




The beauties:

  • Surfer Maud Le Car
  • Violinist Hilary Hahn
  • Professor Lera Boroditsky
  • I’ve posted la belle Hélène‘s interpretation of the Bach-Busoni Chaconne on Zenpundit before, but in case you missed it, there’s also..

  • Pianist Hélène Grimaud
  • Christmas and Season’s Greetings

    Thursday, December 25th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — eine kleine weihnachtsmusik ]

    Since we are divided on the name, nature and very existence of the all-encompassing, please allow me greet you this day from within my own “home” tradition:

    Wishing those of my friends who are believers a blessed Christmas, and to those who are not — why, feasting, family, joy, and a great blast of Bach’s trumpets!

    May you each and all find even the gloom of the gloomiest circumstances and darkest days of the year a little lifted by the spirit in these voices!

    Brief brief: religion and story

    Thursday, December 4th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron — the bookstore in a church, spirituality in the movies, and the church in a mosque ]

    Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore 602


    There’s a recent post in the New Statesman titled The books of revelations: why are novelists turning back to religion?.

    It seems to me that’s a difficult topic to prove or disprove, since it depends on which novelists you read before debating it, and perhaps even what your criteria for excellence in writing might be. I read very few novels these days, and tend to confine myself to those whose language, sentence by sentence, gives me joy to equal that of a topic I enjoy. John Fowles did that for me, John Le Carré, and most recently Ann Patchett with Bel Canto.

    Are they turning back to religion? If they are, I haven’t noticed.

    But then the novel isn’t where I go for story in any case, and if I suspect there’s a better medium to check in on, film would be my next choice up — and yes, Tarkovsky‘s The Sacrifice, even his Nostalghia — not to mention his Andrei Roublev — definitely yes. Kurosawa? Not so much: in his films it’s more a case of “all human life is there”.


    This quote, from Adrei Tarkovsky’s Cinema of Spirituality, may be helpful:

    In the entire history of cinema there has never been a director, who has made such a dramatic stand for the human spirit as did Andrei Tarkovsky. Today, when cinema seems to have drowned in a sea of glamorized triviality, when human relationships on screen have been reduced to sexual intrigue or sloppy sentimentality, and baseness rules the day – this man appears as a lone warrior standing in the midst of this cinematic catastrophe, holding up the banner for human spirituality.

    What puts this director in a class all his own and catapults his films onto a height inaccessible to other filmmakers? It is, first and foremost, his uncompromising stance that man is a SPIRITUAL being. This may appear to be self-evident to some, and yet it is just on this very point that 99% of cinema fails. Man’s spirituality is quickly and conveniently pushed aside in favor of other more “exciting” topics: man’s sexuality, man’s psychology, sociology and so on. In today’s cinema, if spirituality is dealt with at all, it is never treated as the foundation of our existence, but is there as an appendage, something the characters concern themselves with in their spare time. In other words, while in other films spirituality may be PART of the plot, in Tarkovsky’s films it IS the plot; it permeates the very fabric of his films. It can be said that his films vibrate with his own spirituality. As he himself states, in all of his films the main characters undergo a SPIRITUAL crisis.


    Whether sticking a stylish set of bookshelves and other trimmings in a beautiful old church should have won the Lensvelt de Architect prize in 2007 to the designers who added the bookshelves to an already stunning edifice is an interesting question. Is the beauty theirs, or borrowed? Have they incorporated the old church into “their” bookshop?

    I think, too, of the Mezquita in Cordoba, with a cathedral dropped into the heart of it:

    Mezquita_de_Córdoba aerial view

    His Catholic Majesty King Charles V of Castile and Aragon said of this:

    They have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city.


    Is there an aesthetic principle we might consider here?

    The Japanese haiku master Basho was once approached by his pupil Kikaku, who showed him this verse:

    I remove the wings
    A pea pod!

    Quickly Basho wrote in response and mild correction:

    A pea pod
    I place wings on it
    A dragonfly!

    Poetry, in Basho’s view, should lift us from the lesser to the greater, not bring the greater down to a lesser level. It’s an interesting concept, and one with wide potential application beyond the sphere of the arts.


    Or — let’s cut the architects, Merkx+Girod, some slack, because the bookstore is indeed quite stunning! I love bookstores, yes, and I love cathedrals.

    Is the whole thing, perhaps, a DoubleQuote in stone and stories?

    A Sign of the Times – in today’s Post

    Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — on skilled design, and on choosing to purchase influence, elegance or beauty ]

    There’s something very neat about this front page:

    Okay, okay, Jeff Bezos has bought the Washington Post. But what intrigues me about this front page of today’s digital edition as it appeared on my screen this morning was the way a color photo of Bezos sneaks in (left) below a larger black and while photo of Katharine Graham (center) — while an ad for the China Daily (right) takes up a third of the real estate (right), to be read, mark you, on Bezos’ own Kindle.

    So we have today’s future, to coin a phrase, with the “pivot to Asia” and the “pivot to Bezos” right there together — and the “pivot to digital” pretty much a done deal.


    The price of the Post was $250 million, and plenty of people have talked about what Bezos could have bought instead — and while we’re on the topic of neat design, I couldn’t help but notice that there’s a $250 million penthouse under construction in Monaco, described by HiConsumption as The World’s Most Expensive Penthouse, and that one of the numerous architectural illustrations provided also features a striking lesson on graphics:

    What catches my eye here is the parallelism between the window with its center divider and balcony rail (left) with the geometry of the painting on the wall (right) — that’s a brilliant design choice, as the photographer well knows.

    In my dreams I’d prefer my own choice of art-work, frankly — and if I only had $250 million to play with, I’d go for a small craftsman cottage in Pasadena, perhaps — with that luminous $250 million Cezanne to grace one of my walls…


    That — and the digital Post on Kindle, I suppose.

    Two beauties, or how the mind meanders

    Sunday, June 16th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the proposition that no topic is more than a link or two away from beauty ]

    I was butting in on a conversation about terrorism between JM Berger and Suzanne Schroeder — JM had said something about me and I chipped in, one link or tweet led to another, and soon we were at these two images —

    The top one is a Magritte-like photo that comes from the mind and eye of Alexandre Parrot, hat tip to El Cid Barett — the second a still from Maya Deren‘s extraordinary film, Meshes of the Afternoon.


    One beauty for the startled mind; one beauty for the ravished heart…

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