what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

wine, women and books


The Saturday weekend clean-up drove me out of the apartment – and I went to check first what refrigerators (what a word!) are on offer which can actually fit our tiny flat (no more than 56 centrimetres across to get into the small verandah) - and picked up some lovely (purple) Turkish figs at a nearby market. The greenish/white figs I found growing on the Baku tress transformed my attitude to that fruit. And I also managed to find some Iran dates – which are so easy to find in Sofia. Hope to use them for my red cabbage recipe. The next step was to check the quality of the wine (a very challenging task!) on offer in the Matache area – a rather down and out part of the city very near the Gara de Nord where there are several shops which have barrels of wine fot tasting from several different wine areas – the best are Dealul Mare and Recas.
The first Degustare I visited specialises in the first area (Urlati to be precise)– and they offered me both red and white Pelin. Reluctantly I agreed to taste the red – I had been a devotee of this quasi-Vermouth when I first tasted its white version in Bulgaria but have subsequently gone off it. But the Romanian red variety is actually very tasty. I was also persuaded to buy 2 litres of Feteasca Alba and Cabernet Sauvigon but was not quite convinced I had quite the same quality as the wine cellar in Rasnov offers so I went round the corner to the Recas (on Danube) shop and found a superb Riesling-Pinot Gris mixture – all for less than 2 euros litre.
My recent writing efforts have been interrupted by hilarious gusts of laughter (and unsolicited translations) from my partner who bought an EM Cioran book a couple of days ago as we were waiting for the dreadful Russian film on Beria. Cioran, although born in rural Romania, lived in Paris all his adult life in cultivated poverty wrote disjointed pessimistic and absurdist epithets which you enjoy, I am assured, by not taking them seriously. Here, for me, is a typical one -
"I seem to myself, among civilized men, an intruder, a troglodyte enamored of decrepitude, plunged into subversive prayers."
I am told that this is not typical – so, from the 151 Cioran quotes available on internet, let me offer another
"Never to have occasion to take a position, to make up one's mind, or to define oneself - there is no wish I make more often."
I prefer the verse of Marin Sorescu – whose Asking Too Much is one of my favourite poems. Thanks to Michael Hamburger and the Poetry Foundation, here it is
Suppose that, to give a few lectures,
daily you had to commute
between Heaven and Hell:
what would you take with you?’

‘A book, a bottle of wine and a woman, Lord.
Is that asking too much?’

‘Too much. We’ll cross out the woman,
she would involve you in conversations,
put ideas into your head,
and your preparation would suffer.’

‘I beseech you, cross out the book,
I’ll write it myself, Lord, if only
I have the bottle of wine and the woman.
That’s my wish and my need. Is it too much?’

‘You’re asking too much.
What, supposing that daily,
to give a few lectures, you had
to commute between Heaven and Hell, would
you take with you?’

‘A bottle of wine and a woman,
if I may make so free.’
‘That’s what you wanted before, don’t be obstinate,
it’s too much, as you know. We’ll cross out the woman.’

‘What do you have against her, why do you persecute her?
Cross out the bottle rather,
wine weakens me, almost leaves me unable
to draw from my loved one’s eyes
inspiration for those lectures.’

Silence, for minutes
or an eternity.
Respite. In which to forget.

‘Well, suppose that to give
a few lectures you had to commute
daily between Heaven and Hell:
what would you take with you?’

‘A woman, Lord, if I may make so free.’
‘You’re asking too much, we’ll cross out the woman.’
‘In that case cross out the lectures rather,
cross out Hell and Heaven for me,
it’s either all or nothing.
Useless and vain my commuting would be between Heaven
and Hell.
How could I even begin to frighten and awe
those poor creatures in Hell -
without teaching aid, the woman?
How strengthen the faith of the righteous in Heaven -
without the book’s exegesis?
How endure all the differences
in temperature, light and pressure
between Heaven and Hell
if I have no wine
on the way
to give me a bit of courage?’

1 comment:

  1. Ah...Marin Sorescu... Divine poet. And that's a great translation, bravo Michael Hamburger if he is the one to thank. We non-Roumanians suffer greatly from a severe lack of translated work whether novels or poetry, but particularly the latter. Nichita Stanescu, my hero, is hard to find in English. Thank God for Corneliu Popescu (earthquake vistim of 1977, aged only 19) or we wouldnt have any decently translated Eminescu either.
    So, how are you doing for wine? Roumanian wine is simply superb. I love Feteasca Alba and Murfatlar (pinot or cabernet). And the beers...how I miss Ursus, Bergen and particularly Azuga!

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