martedì 27 dicembre 2011

Buon Culo Natale


Si Natale è passato ma mi è capitata quest'immagine tra le mani all'improvviso e non volevo essere micragnoso durante le feste.

Ho fatto male?

lunedì 26 dicembre 2011

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens


Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.
The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance—literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley’s name. There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.
External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, “My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?” No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”
But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call “nuts” to Scrooge.

lunedì 19 dicembre 2011

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

Nothing in this book is true.
"Live by the foma* that makes you brave and kind and healthy and happy."
--The Books of Bokonon. 1:5

The Day the World Ended 1 Call me Jonah. My parents did, or nearly did. They called me
Jonah – John - if I had been a Sam, I would have been a Jonah still, not because I have been unlucky for others, but because somebody or something has compelled me to be certain places at certain times, without fail. Conveyances and motives, both conventional and bizarre, have been provided. And, according to plan, at each appointed second, at each appointed place this Jonah was there.
When I was a younger man--two wives ago, 250,000 cigarettes ago, 3,000 quarts of booze ago.
When I was a much younger man, I began to collect material for a book to be called The Day the World Ended.
The book was to be factual.
The book was to be an account of what important Americans had done on the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
It was to be a Christian book. I was a Christian then. I am a Bokononist now. I would have been a Bokononist then, if there had been anyone
to teach me the bittersweet lies of Bokonon. But Bokononism was unknown beyond the gravel beaches and coral knives that ring this little island in the Caribbean Sea, the Republic of San Lorenzo.
We Bokononists believe that humanity is organized into teams, teams that do God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing. Such a team is called a karass by Bokonon, and the instrument, the kan-kan, that brought me into my own particular karass was the book I never finished, the book to be called The Day the World Ended.
Nice, Nice, Very Nice 2
"If you find your life tangled up with somebody else's life for no very logical reasons," writes Bokonon, "that person may be a member of your karass."
At another point in The Books of created the checkerboard; God created means that a karass ignores national, familial, and class boundaries.
It is as free-form as an amoeba.
Bokonon he tells us, "Man the karass." By that he institutional, occupational,
In his "Fifty-third Calypso," Bokonon invites us to sing along with him:
Oh, a sleeping drunkard Up in Central Park, And a lion-hunter
Folly 3
In the jungle dark, And a Chinese dentist, And a British queen-- All fit together In the same machine. Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice-- So many different people In the same device.
Nowhere does Bokonon warn against a person's trying to discover the limits of his karass and the nature of the work God Almighty has had it do. Bokonon simply observes that such investigations are bound to be incomplete.
In the autobiographical section of The Books of Bokanon he writes a parable on the folly of pretending to discover, to understand:
I once knew an Episcopalian lady in Newport, Rhode Island, who asked me to design and build a doghouse for her Great Dane. The lady claimed to understand God and His Ways of Working perfectly. She could not understand why anyone should be puzzled about what had been or about what was going to be.
And yet, when I showed her a blueprint of the doghouse I proposed to build, she said to me, "I'm sorry, but I never could read one of those things."
"Give it to your husband or your minister to pass on to God," I said, "and, when God finds a minute, I'm sure he'll explain this doghouse of mine in a way that even you can understand."
She fired me. I shall never forget her. She believed that God liked people in sailboats much better than He liked people in motorboats. She could not bear to look at a worm. When she saw a worm, she screamed.
She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is Doing, [writes Bokonon].

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut

giovedì 15 dicembre 2011

Chi è Sherlock Holmes ?

Quando un personaggio entra nell’immaginario collettivo, la risposta alla domanda di cui sopra é probabilmente una: dipende.

Dopo che il suo creatore lo ha messo al mondo dandone la sua interpretazione, il personaggio cessa di essere solo suo ma viene filtrato dalla personalità di due categorie distinte: il pubblico che se lo gode e gli autori che lo affrontano.

Prendiamo Sherlock. Secondo Conan Doyle il nostro detective ha alcune caratteristiche peculiari: intelletto fuori dal comune, un carattere che lo porta a isolarsi da un mondo che trova spesso troppo lento e noioso per il suo genio e un fisico e capacità combattive da campione. E prima che vi venga un embolo, anche la conoscenza di arti marziali inusuali è nel canone: Sherlock è infatti versato nell’arte del Baritsu, probabilmente lo stesso Bartitsu storicamente esistito in quel di Londra (qua delle immagini di uomini dal baffo importante in pose buffe).

Insomma, un intelletto superiore ma anche una fisicità straordinaria. Per tacere del fatto che è morto e risorto ed ha aiutato diverse volte l’Impero Britannico a non crollare e disinnescato almeno una guerra mondiale. Una vita ricca e molti spunti da cui prendere considerando che è stato protagonista di 56 racconti e 4 romanzi.

Eppure per molti Sherlock Holmes è stato per decenni sinonimo di cappello da caccia (mai indossato nelle storie di Conan Doyle) e modi tutto sommato freddi, l’intelletto sopra la violenza. Prendete le fattezze di Christopher Lee, sir Basil Rathbone o l’eccezionale interpretazione di Jeremy Brett nella serie televisiva degli anni ‘80. Un approccio compassato senza perdere coraggio e prontezza di spirito alla bisogna (in particolare nella serie con Brett protagonista).

Declinazioni che funzionano ottimamente e che sono state riviste e calibrate ai nostri tempi ad esempio nella serie televisiva inglese intitolata Sherlock, in cui Holmes mostra in maniera sfacciata il suo essere un outcast sociale e un mal celato disprezzo per chi non sta dietro al suo cervello lanciato a velocità da proiettile.

Tutto un altro approccio nel film con Robert Downey Jr. che per certi versi tira di nuovo fuori le radici pulp del personaggio preferendo azione, scazzottate e dialoghi brillanti, non lesinando intrighi che minacciano l’Impero e cattivi più grandi della vita stessa.

Anche se il più brillante è per certi versi La vita privata di Sherlock Holmes di Billy Wilder, commedia che sfotte certi miti della versione popolare del personaggio (come il cappello, appunto) dandone una versione leggera e ricca di azione ma ammantata da una certa malinconia. Malinconia che è un altro aspetto Holmesiano, con la sua incapacità di sopportare un mondo più lento del suo cervello e che non disdegnava una sana pera di cocaina. Ad esempio in La soluzione al 7% film basato sul romanzo omonimo di Nicholas Meyer, Holmes è un tossicomane depresso che viene forzato dal vecchio Watson ad andare a Vienna per cercare aiuto presso Freud dove troverà anche intrighi e azione.

Azione e complotti non mancano neppure nelle parodie, come in Clueless che ribalta i ruoli dando la genialità a Watson e rendendo Holmes solo un attore ubriacone assoldato per interpretare uno Sherlock che non esiste. Oppure in Sherlock Holmes’s Smarter Brother, in cui facciamo la conoscenza di Sigerson, fratello più giovane e a suo dire più intelligente di quello famoso. Ed è un altro fratello illegittimo a vestire i panni steampunk del cattivo di Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes della Asylum, in cui il nostro se la deve vedere contro piovre giganti e velociraptor. Quando si dice essere versatili.

Per cui, chi è Holmes? Dipende da molte cose. Dai tempi in cui siamo immersi, dalla sensibilità di chi si gode la storia e ancora di più da quella di chi scrive. Sembra una domanda fine a se stessa ma è tra le più importanti quando si vuole capire e personaggi seriali che fanno ormai parte del nostro immaginario. Tanto più se vi trovate nella condizione di dover raccontare una storia che li vede protagonisti, che si tratti di Holmes, Batman o Topolino. Ci si trova quasi sempre ad avere più domande che risposte in testa e si vorrebbe avere la sicurezza di Holmes nel trovare risposte incontrovertibili.

lunedì 12 dicembre 2011

Children of Dune - Frank Herbert

Muad'Dib's teachings have become the playground of scholastics, of the superstitious and the corrupt. He taught a balanced way of life, a philosophy with which a human can meet problems arising from an ever-changing universe. He said humankind is still evolving, in a process which will never end. He said this evolution moves on changing principles which are known only to eternity. How can corrupted reasoning play with such an essence?
-Words of the Mentat Duncan Idaho

A spot of light appeared on the deep red rug which covered the raw rock of the cave floor. The light glowed without apparent source, having its existence only on the red fabric surface woven of spice fiber. A questing circle about two centimeters in diameter, it moved erratically -- now elongated, now an oval. Encountering the deep green side of a bed, it leaped upward, folded itself across the bed's surface.
Beneath the green covering lay a child with rusty hair, face still round with baby fat, a generous mouth -- a figure lacking the lean sparseness of Fremen tradition, but not as water-fat as an off-worlder. As the light passed across closed eyelids, the small figure stirred. The light winked out.
Now there was only the sound of even breathing and, faint behind it, a reassuring drip-drip-drip of water collecting in a catch basin from the windstill far above the cave.
Again the light appeared in the chamber -- slightly larger, a few lumens brighter. This time there was a suggestion of source and movement to it: a hooded figure filled the arched doorway at the chamber's edge and the light originated there. Once more the light flowed around the chamber, testing, questing. There was a sense of menace in it, a restless dissatisfaction. It avoided the sleeping child, paused on the gridded air inlet at an upper corner, probed a bulge in the green and gold wall hangings which softened the enclosing rock.
Presently the light winked out. The hooded figure moved with a betraying swish of fabric, took up a station at one side of the arched doorway. Anyone aware of the routine here in Sietch Tabr would have suspected at once that this must be Stilgar, Naib of the Sietch, guardian of the orphaned twins who would one day take up the mantle of their father, Paul Muad'Dib. Stilgar often made night inspections of the twins' quarters, always going first to the chamber where Ghanima slept and ending here in the adjoining room, where he could reassure himself that Leto was not threatened.
I'm an old fool, Stilgar thought.
He fingered the cold surface of the light projector before restoring it to the loop in his belt sash. The projector irritated him even while he depended upon it. The thing was a subtle instrument of the Imperium, a device to detect the presence of large living bodies. It had shown only the sleeping children in the royal bedchambers.
Stilgar knew his thoughts and emotions were like the light. He could not still a restless inner projection. Some greater power controlled that movement. It projected him into this moment where he sensed the accumulated peril. Here lay the magnet for dreams of grandeur throughout the known universe. Here lay temporal riches, secular authority and that most powerful of all mystic talismans: the divine authenticity of Muad'Dib's religious bequest. In these twins -- Leto and his sister Ghanima -- an awesome power focused. While they lived, Muad'Dib, though dead, lived in them.
These were not merely nine-year-old children; they were a natural force, objects of veneration and fear. They were the children of Paul Atreides, who had become Muad'Dib, the Mahdi of all the Fremen. Muad'Dib had ignited an explosion of humanity; Fremen had spread from this planet in a jihad, carrying their fervor across the human universe in a wave of religious government whose scope and ubiquitous authority had left its mark on every planet.
Yet these children of Muad'Dib are flesh and blood, Stilgar thought. Two simple thrusts of my knife would still their hearts. Their water would return to the tribe.
His wayward mind fell into turmoil at such a thought.
To kill Muad'Dib's children!
But the years had made him wise in introspection. Stilgar knew the origin of such a terrible thought. It came from the left hand of the damned, not from the right hand of the blessed. The ayat and burhan of Life held few mysteries for him. Once he'd been proud to think of himself as Fremen, to think of the desert as a friend, to name his planet Dune in his thoughts and not Arrakis, as it was marked on all of the Imperial star charts.
How simple things were when our Messiah was only a dream, he thought. By finding our Mahdi we loosed upon the universe countless messianic dreams. Every people subjugated by the jihad now dreams of a leader to come.
Stilgar glanced into the darkened bedchamber.
If my knife liberated all of those people, would they make a messiah of me?

Children of Dune - Frank Herbert

lunedì 5 dicembre 2011

Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert

Excerpts from the Death Cell Interview with Bronso of IX

Q: What led you to take your particular approach to a history of Muad'Dib?

A: Why should I answer your questions?

Q: Because I will preserve your words.

A: Ahhh! The ultimate appeal to a historian!

Q: Will you cooperate then?

A: Why not? But you'll never understand what inspired my Analysis of History. Never. You Priests have too much at stake to ...

Q: Try me.

A: Try you? Well, Again ... why not? I was caught by the shallowness of the common view of this planet which arises from its popular name: Dune. Not Arrakis, notice, but Dune. History is obsessed by Dune as desert, as birthplace of the Fremen. Such history concentrates on the customs which grew out of water scarcity and the fact that Fremen led semi-nomadic lives in stillsuits which recovered most of their body's moisture.

Q: Are these things not true, then?

A: They are surface truth. As well ignore what lies beneath that surface as ... as try to understand my birthplanet, Ix, without exploring how we derived our name from the fact that we are the ninth planet of our sun. No ... no. It is not enough to see Dune as a place of savage storms. It is not enough to talk about the threat posed by the gigantic sandworms.

Q: But such things are crucial to the Arrakeen character!

A: Crucial? Of course. But they produce a one-view planet in the same way that Dune is a one-crop planet because it is the sole and exclusive source of the spice, melange.

Q: Yes. Let us hear you expand on the sacred spice.

A: Sacred! As with all things sacred, it gives with one hand and takes with the other. It extends life and allows the adept to foresee his future, but it ties him to a cruel addiction and marks his eyes as yours are marked: total blue without any white. Your eyes, your organs of sight, become one thing without contrast, a single view.

Q: Such heresy brought you to this cell!

A: I was brought to this cell by your Priests. As with all priests, you learned early to call the truth heresy.

Q: You are here because you dared to say that Paul Atreides lost something essential to his humanity before he could become Muad'Dib.

A: Not to speak of his losing his father here in the Harkonnen war. Nor the death of Duncan Idaho, who sacrificed himself that Paul and the Lady Jessica could escape.

Q: Your cynicism is duly noted.

A: Cynicism! That, no doubt is a greater crime than heresy. But, you see, I'm not really a cynic. I'm just an observer and commentator. I saw true nobility in Paul as he fled into the desert with his pregnant mother. Of course, she was a great asset as well as a burden.

Q: The flaw in your historians is that you'll never leave well enough alone. You see true nobility in the Holy Muad'Dib, but you must append a cynical footnote. It's no wonder that the Bene Gesserit also denounce you.

A: You Priests do well to make common cause with the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. They, too, survive by concealing what they do. But they cannot conceal the fact that the Lady Jessica was a Bene Gesserit-trained adept. You know she trained her son in the sisterhood's ways. My crime was to discuss this as a phenomenon, to expound upon their mental arts and their genetic program. You don't want attention called to the fact that Muad'Dib was the Sisterhood's hoped for captive messiah, that he was their Kwisatz Haderach before he was your prophet.

Q: If I had any doubts about your death sentence, you have dispelled them.

A: I can only die once.

Q: There are deaths and there are deaths.

Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert