Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm reading...

Just finished Karakter (F. Bordewijk) and half-way through the Scarlet City. I must admit, I've found Bordewijk too sober, and too much of a realist (bordering fantasy). His depiction of a Dutch psyche was illuminating nonetheless.
It was a little scary as well:
"If that is what is expected of me, I thought, "I will have to frustrate quite a number of people... Who wants to be like that?!"
then I noted that actually most of my Dutch friends (friends though... not everyone I see on the street) ARE like that:
- self-disiplined (bordering obsession),
- self-motivated (ending up in frustrations that cannot be overcome),
- proud and sober (which looks inhumane in the first instance),
- sarcastic towards others because also towards oneself (which makes me feel terribly insecure)
- crossing the borders of idealism and realism constantly (which I often appreciate and yet, sometimes find frustrating because whatever I suggest gets lightly criticised from one angle or the other)...
Anyway, it was a good book and I will still have to see the movie.

The Scarlet City, is so far exciting, as some historical books are for politicologists. This makes it difficult for me to notice how good literature it is... Her narration is diverse and the plot is certainly deeper, more interesting and exciting than a Dan Brown book (which was the previous book I read on Rome, unfortunately). It makes the reader wonder how the characters will change in time or IF they will change in time, which seems to be gift Hella Haasse shares with Bourdewijk.

A sad trip to Arcachon

Wiki says
Arcachon is a commune of the Gironde département, in France.
Arcachon is a popular watering-place, with a fine beach and a mild climate, said to be favourable for invalids suffering from pulmonary complaints, on the Atlantic coast of southwest France, 34 miles southwest of Bordeaux and at north of the Landes forest.
At its south entrance from the Atlantic ocean, the Arcachon Bay is crowned by Europe's largest sand dune, the Dune de Pyla (or du Pilat), nearly 3 kilometres long, 500 metres wide reaching 107 metres in height, and moving inland at rate of 5 metres per annum.
(history and more...)

I think it was one of the most boring places I have seen, and that we were lucky to have missed our initial train and were late to get to Arcachon. Instead we could walk around another side of Bordeaux (for which, due to our obligations at Sciences Po we didn't have the time earlier), and agreed with Victor Hugo on his view of Bordeaux: "take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux". It was rather pretty, but stinky. Here are some photos:
pics by Fari or me or Sander by his camera -mostly...
more to come on wine tasting soon...

Friday, November 09, 2007

The real threat perceived correctly by China ;)

China bans Bibles from 2008 Olympics
China is banning Bibles from the Olympic Games next year allegedly for security reason, according to reports Tuesday.

by Michelle Vu, Christian Today Correspondent
Thursday, November 8, 2007, 8:33 (GMT)

China is banning Bibles from the Olympic Games next year allegedly for security reason, according to reports emerging earlier this week.

The Bible is allegedly on a list of items – which include video cameras and cups – prohibited at the 2008 Summer Olympics. This means Christian athletes will not have access to Bibles in their Olympic village housing.
Moreover, reports are saying that the communist and officially atheist country is banning all religious symbols at Olympic facilities in Beijing and warning visitors to not bring more than one copy of the Bible with them to China.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

back from paris-bordeaux-paris: post1 (Paris)

I had a great time, but I am so happy to be back home... For some reason travelling becomes increasingly more difficult and exhausting for me. getting old? writing phd? having seen too much in too little time? who knows... probably a combination of all.

In Paris,

1. I've visited the Panthéon , idly watched Foucault's Pendulum, visited the graves of Jean Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire (and had a scared look at Marie Curie's grave too but I was not sure if she was still radioactive so I moved away quickly)

2. I've seen Emma, and

3. I've been to an Archimboldo exhibition: Archimboldo used to be one of my favourite artists when I was a teenager and was painting for the first time. I never knew he was so famous in Austria (where the collection came from) and in France (where there was a 1.5-hour que in front of Musée du Luxembourg.

While seeing Emma was the best part of it all, I really appreciated the sunny weather, Sander's presence and the complexity and grandeur of Paris for once...

And finally, I've seen a very good movie: This Is England. (trailer)
The film highlights the irony that although the skinhead subculture was partly based on elements of black culture (especially Jamaican ska and reggae music), a large faction of the subculture was adopted by white power groups such as the National Front. The story focuses on young Shaun (Thomas Turgoose), who, following bullying at school, falls in with a bunch of likeable skinheads. The new-found freedom and social acceptance he finds is short-lived, and takes a much darker turn when National Front member Combo returns from prison and reasserts his leadership, which splits the group in two. What follows is an often disturbing view of 1980s England offset by the ramifications of the Falklands War and the rise of white nationalism.

ON BBC - The Guardian