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!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

water, words and.....bankers


Here in the mountains I learn to value water and electricity – which, most other places, I take for granted. And, since the leaks forced me to turn off the water for periods until all was repaired (and toilet replaced), I started to use the traditional jug and bowl on the verandah upstairs. And have discovered the joys of such ablutions after an hour’s scything - with the warm wind on my torso and drying down with a towel which smells so fresh from the mountain air. So this upstairs’ facility will remain - despite the enthronement of a new toilet downstairs!
We’re approaching the time of year when the water can get a bit scarce – some works were afoot last year to deal with this. Nous y verrons. And the electricity can go off for a few minutes (sometimes the entire day) with no warning. The shorter cuts are due to storms or tree branches – the longer ones repair work somewhere. Thursday I paid my annual taxes on the house and 2 acres of land – 50 euros!
And also stocked up with almost 3 kilos of the local Burduf cheese to take to Sofia – when it matures it is better than Parmasan!

The mountain house (I should give it a name!!) is a great place for reading and reflecting – the library keep growing. And these last days, I’ve had some real word merchants to keep me company. My first John Banville book - The Sea - is a sensitive and poetic evocation of times past and of death. I dipped into an Amos Oz Reader who ranks very highly in my ratings; and also into WG Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn (another first for me) which is at one level the record of a journey on foot through coastal East Anglia. Glaswegian James Kelman’s You have to be careful in the Land of the Free gives a sense of the irreverent humour of the marginalized in a rotten society. On a different level, I have also at last started Robert Skidelsky’s Keynes; the return of the master. The author has given his life to the study of Keynes - so if anyone can show the relevance of the master to the present global crisis, he can. And the stand he takes is uncompromising – listing the various people who are blamed (bankers, regulators, governments, credit-rating agencies etc), he states firmly “the present crisis is the fruit of the intellectual failure of the economics profession”.
I noticed recently that a former Icelandic Prime Minister is being prosecuted for the role he played in bringing Iceland to its knees - and Hungarian Spectrum also reports an ex-PM and officials giving evidence to the Hungarian Parliament on the role they played before the crisis hit. Good to see such accountability - although parliamentarians these days are hardly in a position to claim they thought differently!
The painting above caught my eye despite its dreadful condition - just a twisted bit of hardwood, some whote spots and no frame. Valerie offered it to me as part of a lot of 7 such unframed sleeping beauties languishing in a gloomy cellar under his new Gallery - he is able to put a name to them all (few have signatures) and this was a Stamatov. I had heard of him (and knew that his stuff is pricey - 1,000 euros or so) - but I liked it anyway regardless of its provenance. When I saw a few Stamatovs in the Kazanluk gallery, I became surer of its authorship; and Yassen has lovingly restored it, helped me select a suitable frame and given his expert opinion that it is 98% certain that it is a Stamatov.

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