I was a bit tired of having adverts in my blog, and I wanted an email account with a domain of my own, so a few weeks ago I went ahead and registered a new domain, and migrated the contents of this blog over there. I’m now at http://cuevano.ca. I’ll stop posting here, and begin posting there, so please update your bookmarks/subscriptions/feeds!

Happy New Year! Alright, 2011 is gone, and I wanted to share some of the books and things I discovered throughout it that got me excited.

For me, this was a good year for books. Among the new ones, I enjoyed “The Tragedy of Arthur”, by Arthur Phillips, which presents itself as a newly discovered Shakespeare tragedy, with a long introduction in which Phillips tries to convince the reader that the play that follows is not actually Shakespeare’s, but a forgery made by his father. Colson Whitehead’s “Zone One” is a good zombie novel—like in most zombie stories, the real villain is ourselves, though in this case it’s specifically the bullshitty, bureaucratic, superficial patterns we’ve grown so fond of. Patrick DeWitt’s “The Sisters Brothers” is fun and engaging: a Western that’s both literary and pulpy at the same time.  I also finished (and loved completely) Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”, a novel that explained my own mind and soul to myself like no other book has, and in a way I did not believe was possible.

I also found several great books in Spanish. César Aira’s “Cómo me hice monja” and “Las curas milagrosas del Doctor Aira” are whimsical gems. Enrique Vila-Matas’ “Una casa para siempre” is a fascinating crime and guilt novella in which neither the crime nor the guilt are mentioned nor alluded to in the text whatsoever. On the other extreme, the confessions of the repugnant philosophy professor gone bad in Guillermo Fadanelli’s “Lodo” are told with a dirty, captivating voice, and they are a great read too.

As a new father, it was pretty hard to keep track of new movies in 2011. Val and I watched lots of older stuff though—among them, I liked Broken Flowers and Persona a lot. We’re currently caught up with Breaking Bad, a great TV show about a chemistry professor that is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and becomes a crystal meth manufacturer to leave money to his family. And if it was hard to keep track of new movies, it was practically impossible to try out new boardgames. I’m still playing a lot of Go, though, and I enjoy it even more as I peel out more of its layers.

I’ve been growing tired of most of the webcomics I usually read, but Zach Weiner’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is still frequently brilliant, and Nicholas Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship is again updated, now and then, with some great strips (Gurewitch’s collection of strips, “The Perry Bible Fellowship Almanack”, is wonderful too).

For my computer, I used and liked f5 for transcribing interviews. Backblaze works great for backups; I don’t even need to think about it anymore. On my phone, after Scott Leslie‘s pointer, I’ve lately been using buddhify to help myself learn to meditate, and I’m really enjoying it.

That’s it, I think. Let me know if there’s something you found that I might enjoy, too!

El agua, de Pellicer

Hace algunos meses leí “Albercas”, de Villoro, y su epígrafe se me quedó grabado:

Agua del nadador que la divide.

Parece un verso sencillo, pero en él nos amalgamamos todos—nuestra voluntad, nuestra estupidez, nuestra elegancia—; en él se esconde el Universo, fluído, eterno, un mar y una gota.

Villoro informa que el verso es de Pellicer, y yo, que nunca había leído a Pellicer, me lo repito como una mantra, dislocado, sin querer conectarlo con el resto del poema al que pertenece por miedo a que pierda su conexión conmigo. Pero recientemente la curiosidad me venció y una búsqueda en Internet me dio el resto del poema, que es luminoso y que reproduzco a continuación:

El Agua, de Carlos Pellicer


Aguas horizontales

con hombres y peces y nubes.

Aguas azules y verdes,

espacio palpitante, atmósfera del paraíso submarino

cuyas medusas arcangélicas

mudan ojos y manos en huertos coralinos.

Aguas reales del viaje fabuloso

manchadas como tigres por las guerras.

Aguas víctimas o insaciables en la sed de la tierra;

sorbo de sed, aguas vírgenes.

Una gota de agua

salvó la última espiga del sembrado

o hizo temblar el dorso de Susana

entre las barbas bíblicas del baño.

Agua del nadador que la divide

y la vuelve laurel o vida nueva.

En las tinajas familiares

el agua se hace negra

de silencio y frescor. Y el ritmo de los mares

vira el buque ladrón que halló en las islas fiestas.

Aguas verticales, horizontal, cerámica y primera.

Long time without posting, but I’m back. To break the silence, here is a quote from Lucretius I like, as cited by Montaigne.

For when he saw that nearly all that use demands

Already was prepared for use by mortal hands,

That men were powerful in honor and in fame,

In riches affluent, proud in their sons’ good name,

Yet nonetheless within were anxious in their heart,

In painful quarrels of the mind forced to take part:

Then Epicurus knew the vessel caused the vice;

That all good things that enter, of whatever price,

Within us, by that vessel’s vice, became corrupt.

I remembered it because of the news and reviews about Stephen Greenblatt’s new book on De Rerum Natura. My copy of Lucretius still sits unread in my shelf, patiently waiting for me. I think I should attend to it…

In a very good article in Rolling Stone, Al Gore lays out the reasons for the sorry state of the climate change debate in the public arena. (He dishes out a lot of his criticism to the media; the media, true to form, seem to have interpreted the article as an attack on Obama.) He closes with five ways in which you can help fix things. Slightly abridged:

First, become a committed advocate for solving the crisis. You can start with something simple: Speak up whenever the subject of climate arises. When a friend or acquaintance expresses doubt that the crisis is real, or that it’s some sort of hoax, don’t let the opportunity pass to put down your personal marker. The civil rights revolution may have been driven by activists who put their lives on the line, but it was partly won by average Americans who began to challenge racist comments in everyday conversations.

Second, deepen your commitment by making consumer choices that reduce energy use and reduce your impact on the environment. The demand by individuals for change in the marketplace has already led many businesses to take truly significant steps to reduce their global-warming pollution.

Third, join an organization committed to action on this issue.

Fourth, contact your local newspapers and television stations when they put out claptrap on climate — and let them know you’re fed up with their stubborn and cowardly resistance to reporting the facts of this issue. One of the main reasons they are so wimpy and irresponsible about global warming is that they’re frightened of the reaction they get from the deniers when they report the science objectively. So let them know that deniers are not the only ones in town with game. Stay on them! Don’t let up!

Finally, and above all, don’t give up on the political system. Even though it is rigged by special interests, it is not so far gone that candidates and elected officials don’t have to pay attention to persistent, engaged and committed individuals. (…) To make our elected leaders take action to solve the climate crisis, we must forcefully communicate the following message: “I care a lot about global warming; I am paying very careful attention to the way you vote and what you say about it; if you are on the wrong side, I am not only going to vote against you, I will work hard to defeat you — regardless of party. If you are on the right side, I will work hard to elect you.”

We made a baby!

It’s quite likely that all of you already know this, but anyway. Val and I have a baby daughter, Aurora, who is now a little over two months old. She’s beautiful, perceptive, and happy. We’re in love with her completely. She changed everything in our lives.

Celebrating Fathers' Day at Beacon Hill Park

The Bluff Box

Victoria readers (and especially Fernwood neighbours): a friend of mine is collaborating with a Metchosin farmer to bring local, organic, delicious food weekly from Sea Bluff Farm to Fernwood, from June to November. They called it The Bluff Box. It’s similar to a CSA program, except you pay as you go: $25 for a small box, $40 for the family-size box. I hope you sign up—we need 20 committed customers to get this going!