Archive for November, 2007
I confess. It was on the early morning of December 7th, 1979 -I was a lad of just 15- when I committed the misdemeanor of graffiti for the first and last time. On my way to grammar school, I scribbled the rather bland “Eet meer Freud” on the pillar of a department store. Of course, I was promptly arrested by the strong arm of the law, whisked away to the police station, encarcerated, questioned and ultimately sent to apologize to the shop-owner and offer my services to remove the last trace of my vandalistic outburst. I spent the rest of the day cleaning the marble column with vim. The real challenge of course was one day later, when I found out that the local newspaper had written a short entry on the whole event. The Dutch custom of protecting the anonimity of suspects by just using their initials miserably exposed me. Coming home to my avid newspaper-reading parents, I undoubtedly used an ingenious ploy to make the newspaper disappear, hoping they’d read past the whole thing. (Years later I found out they didn’t and in fact enjoyed every minute of my desparate antics.) Now, thanks to the digitization of the local newspaper, my sins of youth are there for the world to see.
A short conversation on the subject of reading Dutch translations or sticking to the original reminded me of the man who studied Russian to read Marx in his native language. Knowing that Zamoyski is of Polish nobility, I wondered whether the original was Polish or English and probed the text for the tell tales of translation. None whatsoever, or I was looking at the work of a translating genius. Duh. I should have consulted the blurb on the author, because he grew up in the UK.
“Destiny has slipped into my words without warning.”
Kunti in Le Mahabharata by Jean-Claude Carrière
Immensely enjoyed Lisa Gerrard’s performance at the Rotterdam theatre. Intense, nervous, perfectionist, Lisa Gerrard was far from easy on herself and presented her l’art pour l’art as a religious dogma. At that moment I slowly began to understand Rutger Hauer’s slightly tormented facial expression towards the end of Simone de Vries’ filmic portrait of the Dutch actor. In “Blond, Blue Eyes”, the documentary film maker closely follows Rutger Hauer and peels off the on-screen persona of the dangerous, strong and sexy villain. In real life, the seasoned actor is more than timid and soft spoken, and even shows sardonic self relativization. Towards the final moments of the documentary, the actor at times seems puzzled, as if about the say: “Hey. I’m only pretending”.
For his age, Leon masters an impressive multilingual lexicon of terms and expressions. There are two things however, Leon just will not say. The word “please” is in none of his books. He falls silent in Spanish, Dutch or English when we suggest him to use the word. More curious even is his refusal to refer to himself with his own name. He reacts when we say “Leon”, but when we do the pointing and naming game at the table, where everybody points to someone else and asks for their name, he can accurately name everybody, but he refuses to use the name Leon for himself. The only way he refers to himself is either “bebe” (the baby) or “niño” (the little one). Tonight, at the dinner table, we played the game and much to our surprise he referred to himself with a whole new name. It was not Leon (or Leense for that matter) but Santo. Leon proudly pounded his chest saying “Santo!”. He is half Mexican after all.