Saturday, November 28, 2009

Werther: "Albert is arrived"

(Titian, Lady in white)


Yes, dear Charlotte! I will order and arrange everything. Only give me more commissions, the more the better. One thing, however, I must request: use no more writing-sand with the dear notes you send me. Today I raised your letter hastily to my lips, and it set my teeth on edge.


I have often determined not to see her so frequently. But who could keep such a resolution? Every day I am exposed to the temptation, and promise faithfully that tomorrow I will really stay away: but, when tomorrow comes, I find some irresistible reason for seeing her; and, before I can account for it, I am with her again. Either she has said on the previous evening "You will be sure to call tomorrow," -- and who could stay away then? -- or she gives me some commission, and I find it essential to take her the answer in person; or the day is fine, and I walk to Walheim; and, when I am there, it is only half a league farther to her. I am within the charmed atmosphere, and soon find myself at her side. My grandmother used to tell us a story of a mountain of loadstone. When any vessels came near it, they were instantly deprived of their ironwork: the nails flew to the mountain, and the unhappy crew perished amidst the disjointed planks.

JULY 30.

Albert is arrived, and I must take my departure. Were he the best and noblest of men, and I in every respect his inferior, I could not endure to see him in possession of such a perfect being. Possession! -- enough, Wilhelm: her betrothed is here, -- a fine, worthy fellow, whom one cannot help liking. Fortunately I was not present at their meeting. It would have broken my heart! And he is so considerate: he has not given Charlotte one kiss in my presence. Heaven reward him for it! I must love him for the respect with which he treats her. He shows a regard for me, but for this I suspect I am more indebted to Charlotte than to his own fancy for me. Women have a delicate tact in such matters, and it should be so. They cannot always succeed in keeping two rivals on terms with each other; but, when they do, they are the only gainers.

I cannot help esteeming Albert. The coolness of his temper contrasts strongly with the impetuosity of mine, which I cannot conceal. He has a great deal of feeling, and is fully sensible of the treasure he possesses in Charlotte. He is free from ill-humour, which you know is the fault I detest most.

He regards me as a man of sense; and my attachment to Charlotte, and the interest I take in all that concerns her, augment his triumph and his love. I shall not inquire whether he may not at times tease her with some little jealousies; as I know that, were I in his place, I should not be entirely free from such sensations.

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Nathen Haskell Dole, translation by R.D. Boyla

Coloratura soprano MARIA GALVANY - Fado Português

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

About transgenics: What constitutes a human being?

Altering Humans

Is it possible the technology may be used to create slaves?

Several bioethicists have called for a ban on species-altering technology that would be enforced by an international tribunal.14 Part of the rationale for a ban is the concern that such technology could be used to create a slave race, that is, a race of subhumans that would be exploited. In April 1998, scientists Jeremy Rifkin and Stuart Newman, who are both opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), applied for a patent for a “humanzee,” part human and part chimpanzee, to fuel debate and to draw attention to potential abuses on this issue. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied the patent on the grounds that it violated the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits slavery. The decision has been appealed, but the appeal has not yet reached a court, and it may never do so. The appeal may be dismissed on other technical grounds.

Can the definition of “human” be applied to altered species containing human genes?

Although the USPTO has permitted the extensive patenting of bioengineered life forms and human DNA, the question that has been raised by Newman and Rifkin’s application is one that will not be resolved easily: What constitutes a human being? A genetic definition is not very helpful, given the variability of gene sequences between individuals. A species definition is controversial, as mentioned earlier. If we look to characteristics for a definition, there are many characteristics that humans share with primates and other animals.15 If we create a being that has the ability to speak and perhaps even reason but looks like a dog or a chimp, should that being be given all the rights and protection of a human being? Some bioethicists argue that the definition of “human being” should be more expansive and protective, rather than more restrictive. Others argue that definitions that are more expansive could be denigrating to humanity’s status and create a financial disincentive to patenting creations that could be of use to humanity. The question of whether or not the definition should be more expansive or more restrictive will have to be considered as courts, legislatures, and institutions address laws regarding genetic discrimination.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Werther: " I shall see her today! "


How my heart beats when by accident I touch her finger, or my feet meet hers under the table! I draw back as if from a furnace; but a secret force impels me forward again, and my senses become disordered. Her innocent, unconscious heart never knows what agony these little familiarities inflict upon me. Sometimes when we are talking she lays her hand upon mine, and in the eagerness of conversation comes closer to me, and her balmy breath reaches my lips — when I feel as if lightning had struck me, and that I could sink into the earth. And yet, Wilhelm, with all this heavenly confidence — if I know myself, and should ever dare — you understand me. No, no! my heart is not so corrupt, it is weak, weak enough but is not that a degree of corruption?

She is to me a sacred being. All passion is still in her presence: I cannot express my sensations when I am near her. I feel as if my soul beat in every nerve of my body. There is a melody which she plays on the piano with angelic skill — so simple is it, and yet so spiritual! It is her favourite air; and, when she plays the first note, all pain, care, and sorrow disappear from me in a moment.

I believe every word that is said of the magic of ancient music. How her simple song enchants me! Sometimes, when I am ready to commit suicide, she sings that air; and instantly the gloom and madness which hung over me are dispersed, and I breathe freely again.


Wilhelm, what is the world to our hearts without love? What is a magic-lantern without light? You have but to kindle the flame within, and the brightest figures shine on the white wall; and, if love only show us fleeting shadows, we are yet happy, when, like mere children, we behold them, and are transported with the splendid phantoms. I have not been able to see Charlotte today. I was prevented by company from which I could not disengage myself. What was to be done? I sent my servant to her house, that I might at least see somebody today who had been near her. Oh, the impatience with which I waited for his return! the joy with which I welcomed him! I should certainly have caught him in my arms, and kissed him, if I had not been ashamed.

It is said that the Bologna stone, when placed in the sun, attracts the rays, and for a time appears luminous in the dark. So was it with me and this servant. The idea that Charlotte's eyes had dwelt on his countenance, his cheek, his very apparel, endeared them all inestimably to me, so that at the moment I would not have parted from him for a thousand crowns. His presence made me so happy! Beware of laughing at me, Wilhelm. Can that be a delusion which makes us happy?


"I shall see her today!" I exclaim with delight, when I rise in the morning, and look out with gladness of heart at the bright, beautiful sun. "I shall see her today!" And then I have no further wish to form: all, all is included in that one thought.

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Nathen Haskell Dole, translation by R.D. Boylan

Monday, November 09, 2009

Watch your step, Piskarev!

He saw the unknown woman fly up the steps, look back, put her finger to her lips, and motion for him to follow her. His knees trembled; his senses and thoughts were on fire; a lightning flash of joy pierced his heart with an unbearable point! No, it was no dream! God, so much happiness in one instant! such a wonderful life of two minutes!

But was it not a dream? Could it be that she, for one of whose heavenly glances he would be ready to give his whole life, to approach whose dwelling he already counted an inexplicable bliss - could it be that she had just shown him such favor and attention? He flew up the stairs. He did not feel any earthly thought; he was not heated with the flame of earthly passion, no, at that moment he was pure and chaste, like a virginal youth, still breathing the vague spiritual need for love. And that which in a depraved man would arouse bold thoughts, that same thing, on the contrary, made him still more radiant. This trust which a weak, beautiful being had shown in him, this trust imposed on him a vow of chivalric rigor, a vow slavishly to fulfill all her commands. He wished only for her commands to be all the more difficult and unrealizable, so that he could fly to overcome them with the greater effort. He had no doubt that some secret and at the same time important reason had made the unknown woman entrust herself to him, that some important services would surely be required of him, and he already felt in himself enough strength and resolve for everything.

The stairway wound around, and his quick dreams wound with it. "Watch your step!" a voice sounded like a harp and filled his veins with fresh trembling. On the dark height of the fourth floor, the unknown lady knocked at the door - it opened, and they went in together. A rather good-looking woman met them with a candle in her hand, but she gave Piskarev such a strange and insolent look that he involuntarily lowered his eyes. They went into the room. Three female figures in different corners appeared before his eyes. One was laying out cards; the second sat at a piano and with two fingers picked out some pathetic semblance of an old polonaise; the third sat before a mirror combing her long hair and never thought of interrupting her toilette at the entrance of a stranger. Some unpleasant disorder, to be met with only in the carefree room of a bachelor, reigned over all. The rather nice furniture was covered with dust; a spider had spread its web over a molded cornice; in the half-open doorway to another room, a spurred boot gleamed and the red piping of a uniform flitted: a loud male voice and female laughter rang out unrestrainedly.

God, where had he come! At first he refused to believe it and began studying the objects that filled the room more attentively; but the bare walls and curtainless windows showed no presence of a thoughtful housewife; the worn faces of these pathetic creatures, one of whom sat down almost in front of his nose and gazed at him as calmly as at a spot on someone's clothes-all this convinced him that he had come to one of those revolting havens where pathetic depravity makes its abode, born of tawdry education and the terrible populousness of the capital. One of those havens where man blasphemously crushes and derides all the pure and holy that adorns life, where woman, the beauty of the world, the crown of creation, turns into some strange, ambiguous being, where, along with purity of soul, she loses everything feminine and repulsively adopts all the mannerisms and insolence of a man, and ceases to be that weak, that beautiful being so different from us. Piskarev looked her up and down with astonished eyes, as if still wishing to make sure that it was she who had so bewitched him and swept him away on Nevsky Prospect. But she stood before him as beautiful as ever; her hair was as wonderful; her eyes seemed as heavenly. She was fresh; she was just seventeen; one could see that terrible depravity had overtaken her only recently; it had not yet dared to touch her cheeks, they were fresh and lightly tinted by a fine blush - she was beautiful.

Nikolai Gogol, “Nevsky Prospect”, in The Collected Tales of Nicolai Gogol, Vintage Classics, Random House, 1999, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Armando José Fernandes, Sonata a Tre (Trio Bontempo)

A few of the videos you find here were made and uploaded to YouTube by myself. You will find them at my YouTube's channel: nadaniente115a.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Irène Joachim sings Debussy's La Flûte de Pan

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Wagner - Die Valkure (Wes Herd dies auch... )


Há nas óperas de Wagner uma perfeição desumana, cruel. Pelo menos era o que eu sentia ao ouvi-las e que me mantinha a certa distância. Nada a ver com o calor humano de Mozart ou Beethoven, por exemplo, como se sabe. Mas enquanto estava a ouvir esta interpretação de Die Valkure dirigida por Knappertsbusch (com Kirsten Flagstad, entre outros) qualquer coisa aconteceu e mudou a minha opinião. Aos meus amigos diria: façam a experiência, o CD está à venda na Amazon. Fiz um video e pus no YouTube (o que conta é a música; o video é necessário para pôr a música). Vem a seguir aqui.

Don't underestimate me...

Há pessoas que tendo aprendido a viver manhosamente imaginam que os outros não aprenderam a proteger-se da astúcia alheia. Eu não me atribuo importância social especial e os abusos de que sou às vezes vítima, como acontece a toda a gente com alguma responsabilidade, não me preocupam nem me deprimem; só me irritam. Mas tenho de dizer que, nos limites da minha modéstia, de mim nunca ninguém levou nada por ter começado a bajular-me: não preciso da excelente ou péssima opinião de ninguém para me ajudar a viver, por isso poupem-se e poupem-me, por favor. Quando o que parecia ser interesse e simpatia genuínos finalmente se revela ter sido apenas preparação ingenuamente engenhosa para o pedido de favores injustificados ou merecidos eu não fico surpreendido, só tenho pena do ingénuo que me tomou por parvo e que, denunciando-se enfim, ficou imediatamente fora da minha lista de relações. Leave me alone.

P.S. Je est toujours un autre... :-)

Kirsten Flagstad - Liebestod - 1936 Covent Garden

100 Greatest Singers: GIACOMO LAURI-VOLPI