[Literature] My Second-Ever Chinese Language Book Purchase

You may have noticed a severe dearth if posts here at AMOT… That’s because I moved to China to do a bit of work. Since I’m here, I thought I’d raid the local bookstore, translator in hand, and see if I could find something that would inspire me to finally learn Chinese. Here is the fruit of my labor – a collection of poems by Li Po.

As for that first book, is was Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian.

[Literature] Jorge Luis Borges – The Endless Rose

Jorge Luis Borges in prime form:

In the fifth century of the Prophet’s age,
Persia gazed down from her minarets
on the invasion of the desert lances,
and Attar of Nishapur glimpsed a rose,
addressing it in voiceless words
such as one thinks but does not pray:
Your shadowy sphere is in my hands.
Time is bending and forgetting us both,
this afternoon, this abandoned garden.
Your gentle weight lies moist on the air.
The relentless tide of your fragrance
rises to my old, declining face,
but I know you longer than that child
who saw you through the sheets of a dream,
or here in this garden, some certain morning.
The whiteness of the sun may belong to you
or the gold of the moon, or the crimson
certainty of a sword in victory.
I am blind and know nothing, yet I still see
there are more roads to travel. And every thing
is really an infinity of things. You are music
and rivers, palaces, angels, and skies,
an endless rose, infinite and intimate,
which the Lord will reveal to my lifeless eyes.

[Music] Karolina Ossowska & Jeff Gburek – The Falls of Hyperion

The incredibly prolific Jeff Gburek, currently based in Poland and partnering with violinist Karolina Ossowska, put together their latest labor of love, and though I don’t normally engage in Top-Ten lists for year’s end, I think it fair to say that this release is his most beautifully crafted, most thoughtful and profound releases.

The album was recorded in Romania and Poland between September 2016 and October 2017. On top of the incredible range of instrumentation, there are many field recordings which give a life to each track that one rarely finds in experimental music.

Of particular interest are the spoken word portions of Track #4, Hyperions 4 (Lift Not The Painted Veil). From the notes left by Gburek and Ossowska, the first text is a piece written by Percy Bysshe Shelley bearing the same name.  The second is a work penned by Gburek himself.  Both are read with a warm but darkened tone which envelops the listener as much as the instrumentation does.

Easily one of 2018’s best releases, regardless of genre.

 

[Literature] Jorge Luis Borges – You Learn

Thanks kindly to HelloPoetry for posting this originally:

The poverty of yesterday was less squalid than the poverty we purchase with our industry today.
Fortunes were smaller then as well.

(The Elderly Lady)

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.