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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

...în schimbul paşaportului mi s-a tăiat limba...

Norman Manea: „Geniul american constă în simplificare”

Secvente din discutia publicata in adevarul.ro • luni, 06 octombrie 2014

Text integral in Comisarul de Iasi

Norman Manea este unul dintre cei mai traduşi scriitori români aflaţi în exil.  El este autorul unor cărţi ca  „Noaptea pe latura lungă", „Captivi", „Atrium", „Primele nopţi", „Cartea fiului", „Zilele şi jocul",  „Anii de ucenicie ai lui August Prostul",  „Octombrie, ora opt", „Pe contur", „Plicul negru",  „Despre clovni: dictatorul şi artistul", „Întoarcerea huliganului",  „Plicuri şi portrete", „Fericirea obligatorie", „Vorbind pietrei", „Variante la un autoportret", „Vizuina", „Laptele negru". 

Norman Manea, despre rolul intelectualului în societate
O întâlnire cu un om de litere ca Norman Manea nu putea să nu ducă şi spre întrebarea care caută să înţeleagă rolul intelectualului în societate, într-o lume cum e cea de azi, ameninţată de crize.
„Intelectualii de mare marcă care au jucat rol de pedagogi sunt în umbră la ora actuală. În America sunt peste 40 de laureaţi ai Premiului Nobel, dar nu prea sunt convocaţi la dezbateri. În epoca noastră intelectualul este înlocuit de vedeta de cinema", crede acesta.

Dar, pentru Norman Manea, experienţele esenţiale din care îşi extrage şi o mare parte din materialul folosit în cărţile sale sunt cea a deportării şi cea a exilului. „Am avut un traseu existenţial complicat. Primul meu exil a fost la 5 ani. În 1945, mă consideram un bătrân de 9 ani."

Influenţa lui Ion Creangă asupra lui Norman Manea
Tot atunci, la 9 ani, a primit şi o carte cadou care i-a declanşat mecanismul de scriitor, un volum de basme de Ion Creangă. „Am descoperit o altă limbă, nu mai era o limbă de stradă, era o limbă extraordinară."

America vs. Romania
Până spre finalul discuţiei, scriitorul român cu o viaţă în America, ţară fără de care nu şi-ar imagina harta lumii, a recunoscut că se întoarce des în România pentru limbă, adevărata sa patrie, şi pentru a vizita mormântul mamei.„E copilăria mea aici şi e mormântul mamei mele."

Limba Romana 
Deposesia de limbă a fost şocul cel mai puternic când am plecat. Când am ajuns pe Otopeni, am avut senzaţia că în schimbul paşaportului mi s-a tăiat limba.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Paris Review, Herta Müller, codițele şi fundițele!

Just got my Paris Review and what do I find there?  An interview with Herta Müller and this lovely photo.  Everything is SO Romanian in this photo.  I had a dress that looked so much like hers.  And the hair!  Codițele şi fundițele! 



ETA after reading it: Feels like I've read this interview many times.  Pretty much the same song, you people could've, should've etc.  The Guilt, with capital G.  Things are not even white and black, they are all black.  

History, I believe, proves to be a bit more complex.  

I still like the picture, though.

My forgotten friend, Anatole France

Three quotes from Anatole France:


“It is good to collect things, it is better to take walks.” 

"Without lies humanity would perish of despair and boredom."

"It is by acts and not by ideas that people live."



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My pin oak is sick!

Have you ever heard of wasps laying eggs into a leaf?  I had not either until my pin oak got sick this year, perhaps just to teach me an extravagant biology lesson.  

A few weeks ago I noticed some swollen brown bumps on its leaves; the back of the leaf was covered with a fine white dust.  Therefore, I wrote to the Plant Doctor at the Botanical Garden here in St. Louis.  Like this:


Dear Plant Doctor,

My pin oak needs your help.  The symptoms are: many round brown bumps on the top of the leaves that correspond to brown stains on the back of the leaf.  There also seems to be some whitish dust on the back of the leaves.  The unfortunate thing is that I believe the whole tree is affected by this. 

I was wondering if you can tell me what the disease may be and if there is any treatment for it.  I am attaching a few photographs.

And the good doctor wrote back with unbelievable news: 

Hello Gabriela,

Your good pictures tell us that your pin oak has been attacked by two different organisms, a small wasp and a fungus. Neither is life-threatening, but each can make the leaves unsightly. They also make good clean-up of affected leaves and their disposal very important.

The wasp causes those bumps, called leaf galls. The female wasps inject the leaf tissue with a growth regulator during the process of egg laying. There are many types of leaf galls. For more information, see our web page on the subject at:

The fungus causes the whitish-gray material, called powdery mildew, on the undersides of your tree's leaves. For more information, see our web page at:

We don't recommend spraying for either leaf galls or powdery mildew.

Thanks for visiting GardeningHelp. We like to hear from our members.

So, I have a pin oak inhabited by wasp larvae.  There must be thousand of them, because every leaf of this immense tree is affected.  When they mature, the wasps fall down, "released" by the leaf, get buried in the soil, from where they emerge to fly around a bit before resuming the cycle.  

The blind cycle of life.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vintage Missouri

All this more or less is stuff I have come across in my daily travails in or around St. Louis in the past few weeks.  In no particular order, the glorious Amorphophallus titanum  at Missouri Botanical Garden and  how to shoot fish in Missouri river.

Enjoy Vintage Missouri.



Here it is.  Amorphophallus titanum, Her Royal Stinkiness in all its
 mummified glory.  Blooming Day, only happening every few years...



And then, a few days later, poof!  The tip of the Universe falls over.


Two days later, it was Poof!  Major Poof!!!

Now to the more serious matter of killing jumping fish in Missouri river.  This is how you shoot fish --- well - you shoot, all right, 'cause you have the tools.  They (the fish) jump like devils from water just to drive you mad 'cause it's impossible to hit them.  

It's a lottery and they are holding the winning numbers.  They are just too damn fast.  But the river runs furious at your feet, the  morning is lovely - what's to stop you?   


... a method to the madness, right?























Friday, July 18, 2014

Kindle Unlimited and the end of roylaties



Today amazon announced Kindle Unlimited, a Netflix-like subscription program that gives readers access to 600,000 e-books, 2,000 audible books and a variety of other minor other perks for a total price of $9.99/mo. 

 "Enjoy unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio-books on any device for just $9.99 a month."

The news is great for readers, of course.  But for independent authors (and potentially all authors) ...that's a different story.  With Kindle Unlimited, a new club has just been formed and the price for admittance is exclusivity.  Because, my dear friends, exclusivity is wonderful when you are the owner of that exclusive property, not when you are the entity owned.  

As far as this club goes, being outside of the club is bad (terrible visibility and the fact that someone will have to pay outside a subscription for you to make a sale) and being in the club is not much better (loss of control over revenue per book; phasing out the royalty system) 

This seems like a great idea for amazon but my two cents is that really it will not survive in the long run.  Let's analyze this: first, as a KDP Select author, you are trapped in the KDP Select $ pool.  The size of the $ pool is controlled 100% by amazon and changes monthly.  And then comes the juicy part: more total readers of the books included in the pool, less money per author.  Now that spells out brilliance ...or  not. 

This program seems to be a desperate measure on amazon's part to offset some of the pressure that's building in the industry due to others (oyster, etc) migrating to a subscription model.  It doesn't seem that the KDP Unlimited business model is well thought through in its many details and implications. If anything, it lowers the $ amazon pays each individual author/publisher and it smartly gets itself (itself being amazon) our of obligation to pay contractually-enforced royalties. 

Let's hope KDP Select reflects just one of amazon's growing pains.  Let's hope it's temporary.  Let's hope amazon identifies and hires a more inspired (pray for a visionary one) long-term strategist in its Corporate ranks.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nabokov: The pencil that needs resharpening, the bladder that has to be drained, the words that I always mispell and always have to look up...

If you have the patience to listen to (and therefore forgive) the old-fashioned, pretentious tone of this video, you will discover something long gone: wisdom.  Pure, burdensome and necessary as water or air.

I can not think of any contemporary writer (American or otherwise) who forces us to remain honest to our principles with such brutality and such grace.