Wednesday, November 30

Seung Mo when the material strikes

Beautiful sculpture, isn't it? It is made in bronze or any other metal?
Yes, another metal: it is aluminum! Aluminum wires.
I came across with the work of Seung Mo because today, yes today, I started my first attempt to do anything with aluminum wires. I bought the wire, two pliers and there I go! I decided to take a look at something simple to start and... the irony I came across with Korean artist Seung Mo.
It if was made in bronze that would not be that relevant to me.
It would be beautiful, period.
But it is made of wire on a fiberglass base form.
Visit this site to take a look at Seung Mo's work.
Me? I did bend three beautiful curves on a half meter wire. Perfect!

Thursday, November 10

Grace Jones's Libertango - I've seen that face before

Strange, I've seen that face before,
Seen him hanging 'round my door,
Like a hawk stealing for the prey,
Like the night waiting for the day,

Strange, he shadows me back home,
Footsteps echo on the stones,
Rainy nights, on Hausmann Boulevard,
Parisian music drifting from the bars,

Tu cherches quoi, rencontrer la mort?
Tu te prends pour qui
Toi aussi tu detestes la vie

Dance in bars and restaurants,
Home with anyone who wants,
Strange he's standing there alone,
Staring eyes chill me to the bone.

Dans sa chambre, Joel et sa valise,
Un regard sur ses fringues,
Sur les murs, des photos,
Sans regret, sans mélo,
La porte est claquée, Joel est barré.

Wednesday, November 9

Trump's victory equals American rejection of warmongering according to Joe Quinn and Oliver Stone

"Last time we checked, the term “failed state” was used by US government officials to describe countries that it had earmarked for ‘regime change’ by way of a US bombing campaign and/or military invasion. Perhaps then Americans should look on the bright side, the Trump victory may have effected ‘regime change’ in the USA without a shot being fired.

While many establishment media pundits like Krugman are attributing the Trump win to the level of “hate in the country”, the truth seems to be that a majority of American voters rejected the policy of warmongering and destruction of living standards (especially for the poor) pursued by the Bush and Obama administrations, and strongly resonated with Trump’s promise to root out rampant corruption in Washington.

Whether or not Trump was sincere about his campaign promises and will be allowed to ‘drain the swamp’ to any significant degree remains to be seen. Under a Trump administration, there is, however, reason to expect a reduction in the level of dangerous anti-Russian rhetoric that became the hallmark of the Obama administration in recent years. And that can only be a good thing for the USA and the world."
Extract from the article "Donald Trump Elected President, Democrats and Liberals Freak Out" by Joe Quinn* in Globalresearch.

We hope Joe Quinn is right. Oliver Stone claimed that "Trump can surprise." in a conference in São Paulo this Wednesday morning. He said that he feared Hillary more than Trump because of her warmongering. According to Oliver Stone Trump is more pragmatic to solve problems.
Oliver Stone is currently in Brazil to launch his movie "Snowden".

*Joe Quinn is the co-author of 9/11: The Ultimate Truth (with Laura Knight-Jadczyk, 2006) and Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False Flag Terror Attacks (with Niall Bradley, 2014), and the host of’s The Sott Report Videos and co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network.

An established web-based essayist and print author, Quinn has been writing incisive editorials for for over 10 years. His articles have appeared on many alternative news sites and he has been interviewed on several internet radio shows and has also appeared on Iranian Press TV. His articles can also be found on his personal blog

Hope: Donald Trump elected president of the United States of America

I wanna know what Americans are going to do. Seriously, this election is the most ridiculous ever.
Both candidates are criminals. What is happening to the world?
It is about time to remember:

Update: The idea of having Hillary Clinton as president scares me the hell. I did another post (above) with Joe Quinn and Oliver Stones' analysis and I changed my mind a little.

Sunday, November 6

When they smile this way...


On November 2011 I did post the first "When they smile this way..." and forgot about it.
I was watching a movie when, all of a sudden, Dustin Hoffman smiled that way...
Hence this post adding "When they look this way..."
Have a great Sunday.

Friday, November 4

How to avoid criticism

I hate quotations. Seriously. I'll make an exception because of the period in history we are living is a very dark part of humanity.
We should discuss and discuss and... discuss without fearing to express our opinions openly and listening to others with an open heart.

 We need all the criticisms in such an era.
The writing on the wall is an Aristotle quotation.

Thursday, November 3

Look at these celebrities who are aging terribly

Nope, Not here. It is appalling that some magazines and tabloids are always showing famous people - known as "celebrities" to unite fame for numerous different reasons - as they age. They take a good picture of "then" and a terrible one of "now" side by side and the public drills watching them in a terrible state.

I usually don't watch this kind of article but just came across with one of this examples. Aging was transformed into a  disease. Whether the person looks  "rest" or not it is not fashionable to get older.

Wiser? No. Experienced maybe but as age comes to some people they have a scale of ages along the day.
We have better declare that aging is a human right.

Friday, October 28

Brazil's Youth See Their Future, And Her Name Is Ana Júlia

Brazil's Youth See Their Future, And Her Name Is Ana Júlia
by Shannon Sims in Forbes.
OCT 27, 2016 @ 12:53 PM
It has 42,908 VIEWS till now. I thank Shannon Sims to tell the world a little bit of what is happening in Brazil. As always with the help of US.

A girl bears a sticker in her mouth reading ‘Education on strike’ during a teachers protest demanding better working conditions and against police beating, on October 7, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, one of the events that laid the road for Ana Julia’s speech yesterday. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

The news out of Brazil tends to be rough. Political turmoil. Corruption scandals. Arrests. Rapes. Deaths. Outrage. It can be exhausting to cover Brazil as a journalist; imagine how exhausting it must be to live Brazil as a Brazilian.

But today, good news, from an unlikely place. Over the past 24 hours, Brazil has become acquainted with what many Brazilians believe is the most promising voice it has heard in years. And remarkably, it is the voice of a 16-year-old girl named Ana Júlia Ribeiro.

In a video that has gone viral on Brazilian social media, Ana Júlia (Brazilian custom refers to people by their first name) addressed the legislative assembly of the state of Paraná yesterday.

Below, the video, which is in rapid-fire Portuguese. And below the video, an explanation in English of what is happening.

Ana Júlia’s Address

So what’s going on here? Ana Júlia is addressing the government leaders of the state of Paraná about the escalating crisis that has gripped many – over 1,000 – of the country’s schools. With a thick Paraná accent, she begins her speech with a question that has already been quoted repeatedly on Brazilian social media: “Who is school for?” She goes on to answer her rhetorical question by explaining why she believes the movement occupying schools – which is ideologically associated with the left-wing – is legal and legitimate.

She invites the politicians present to visit the occupied schools and says it is “an insult” that the students occupying the schools have been called “doctrinated,” which in Brazil carries the meaning of mindless dedication to a cause. With startling honesty, she admits that it is challenging for young students to be able to digest all of the politics and policies presented in the media and to then determine whether they will favor or counter them. “It is a difficult process, it is not easy for students to simply decide what to fight for. But still we’re lifting up our heads and confronting this.”

She proclaims, “Our flag is education, our only flag is education,” and argues that the controversial government program “escola sem partido” or “schools without political parties,” which forbids political discourse in the classroom, insults students by telling them that they don’t have the capacity to think for themselves. She adds, “Only, we do.”


In the Brazilian state of Paraná, the educational crisis is particularly acute. Presently, 850 schools are occupied across the small state. And the issue of education and protests in Paraná has a difficult history. It was in Curitiba, the capital of Paraná, that about a year ago public school teachers filled the streets in protest of changes to their pension plans. Their protest was met with violence from the state, and over 100 teachers were injured. Scenes of teachers being beaten by police sent shockwaves around the country and laid the groundwork for Ana Júlia’s address yesterday.

Now, another tragic scene echoes those protests. On Monday, a student named Lucas Mota, was killed inside one of the occupied schools in Paraná. He was found with knife wounds to his chest, reportedly caused by another student after an argument over drugs. On the one hand, his death reaffirmed the position of those opposing the occupy schools movement that the students involved are trouble-makers taking advantage of the state. At the same time, Mota’s death has added fuel to the occupy movement, which was previously a protest that fell more under the umbrella of a protest over government policies, but that increasingly has become, for its supporters, a protest about human rights. Or, more specifically, students’ rights. And now carrying that umbrella, with a shaking voice that belies a firm determination, is young Ana Júlia.

At the most dramatic moment in her address to the assembly, Ana Júlia brings up Mota’s death. “I was at Lucas’ wake yesterday, and I didn’t recognize any of your faces there,” she says to the wide-eyed politicians in the assembly. “You all represent the state, and so I invite you to look at your hands. Your hands are dirty with the blood of Lucas. Not just of Lucas but of all the adolescents and students that are victims of this.”

At this moment in her speech, the hall erupts in applause from those attending the session in the rafters, and shouts from the politicians on the floor. “My hands aren’t dirty!” one politician counters. The president of the assembly, Ademar Traiano, who represents a centrist-right party, interrupts the session at this point and threatens to close the session entirely. “You can’t attack parliamentarians here,” he says angrily to Ana Júlia, over the boos of the crowd. “Here no one has hands stained with blood,” he adds.

It is a powerplay that would make most of us cower – an esteemed politician shutting down a speaker’s claim – and it is in this moment that Ana Júlia’s star shines brightest. The young teenager doesn’t try to shout over the president of the session, she doesn’t disrespect him or engage in an argument. Instead, she steels herself and calmly issues the most scathing critique at all. “I apologize, but the Statute of the Child and Adolescent tells us that the responsibility for our adolescents ­– our students – lies with society, the family, and the state.” The word “state” lands like a mic drop in the session.

To be sure, Ana Júlia is taking a a political position. She is against Temer’s recent push to tighten up the education system by forbidding political discourse within the classroom and by freezing the system’s expenditures. As seen in the most recent municipal elections, many – and quite possibly most – Brazilians are likely to disagree with Ana Júlia.

But what makes Ana Júlia’s speech rare and share-worthy is that while she represents a political opinion that many do not agree with, the way she carries herself is so self-possessed and even-keeled that it has drawn the respect of even Brazilians who might disagree with her position. She doesn’t read from a script, but instead she bobs and weaves through laws and constitutional amendments like an established scholar giving a university lecture. The fact that she is only 16 is what turns her into an instant beacon of political promise for those who support her position.

And that’s why suddenly, across the Brazilian digital waves, there is a resounding chorus: “Ana Júlia me representa!,” or, “Ana Júlia represents me!”

The Political Moment

This moment in which Ana Júlia stars is a heavy one. The latest round of municipal elections was a rout for the leftists of Brazil. Cities that were once led by bike-riding progressives, as in the case of São Paulo, booted those politicians from office and voted in centrist-right leaders last month.

It was a sea change election that echoed what is going on at the federal level in Brazil, where the leftist Dilma Rousseff has been impeached from office, and the centrist-right Michel Temer has taken over, vowing to unravel many of the leftist policies that have steered the country over the past 13 years.

Temer – who is 76 years old and could be Ana Júlia’s grandfather – has made quick work of this promise. One of the key targets of his reform efforts has been Brazil’s education system. This week, a controversial Constitutional amendment, called the PEC 241, passed through lower house of Congress on Tuesday. The new amendment would put a ceiling on government funding for education and puts a 20-year freeze on educational expenditures.

The amendment’s advocates believe this type of belt-tightening is required in order to get the country’s stalled economy moving again and to protect that process from political tampering over the next two decades. Critics of the proposal believe that the 20-year freeze is draconian in its impact (one study shows it could pull $8 billion out of the education system per year) and point out that educational expenditures are being frozen at the same time that government salaries are being raised. Next week, the Brazilian Senate will begin debating the amendment.

In the Forbe's article there are pictures.

Wednesday, October 26

Thursday, October 20

Speak English better than native speakers: no, it's not a joke

"If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world." From The Poke.

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Fe0ffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

You’ve been reading “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité, written nearly 100 years ago in 1922, designed to demonstrate the irregularity of English spelling and pronunciation.

Wednesday, October 19

Staying in bed for too long leads to serious health problems

Effects of prolonged bed rest
25 October 2013 on Health24.

"Bed rest" may sound like a gentle, healing process, but this is deceptive. Our bodies are made to move, and multiple problems quickly start to set in even after a couple of days of immobility."

"Bed rest" may sound like a gentle, healing process, but this is deceptive. Our bodies are made to move, and multiple problems quickly start to set in even after a couple of days of immobility. Collectively, these negative effects are referred to as "deconditioning" of the body, and can have a serious impact on health. (emphasis mine)

Medical professionals have increasingly realized that, as soon as possible after, or even during, a hospitalisation or illness that necessitates time in bed, patients should begin physical therapy to avoid or lessen these effects. Some of these are listed here:

Effects on the muscles and bones
The musculo-skeletal system functions best when supporting the body in an upright posture against gravity. The weight-bearing muscles of the neck, abdomen, lower back, buttocks, thighs and calves are particularly important for this purpose, and the deterioration caused by bed rest affects these muscles most seriously.

When muscles aren’t used, they rapidly begin to weaken and atrophy (waste away). Strength can decrease as much as 20-30% after only a week of complete bed rest, and it generally takes much longer to regain the strength than it took to lose it.

Decreased muscle strength, together with other structural changes to the nerves and muscles, affects co-ordination and balance, and increases the risk of falls.

Bed rest also causes the bones to lose density because they aren’t performing their normal weight-bearing function. The leg bones are the most likely to be affected. Thinner bones increase the risk of fractures, even with minor falls.

Immobility can also lead to limited joint movement. The cartilage around joints begins to deteriorate, while the connective tissue thickens and the muscles shorten, typically at the hip, knee and shoulder. This negatively affects walking and daily activities. (emphasis mine)

Effects on the heart and blood 
Like the muscular system, the cardiovascular system functions best when the body is in an upright position, working against gravity. After just a few days of bed rest, blood starts to pool in the legs. On standing, this can lead to dizziness and falls. (emphasis mine)

Immobility also causes the heart to beat more quickly, and the volume of blood pumped is lower. The volume of blood generally in the body is lower, and there is less oxygen uptake by the body. This results in poorer aerobic fitness and fatigue sets in more easily. (emphasis mine)

The blood also becomes thicker and stickier, which increases the risk of a blood clot forming, especially in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism). (emphasis mine)

Effects on the lungs and blood
Bed rest increases the risk of pneumonia and atelectasis (collapse of lung tissue).

Fluid tends to build up in the lungs because the muscles aren’t working to remove excess fluid from the body. It’s harder for the lungs to expand when you’re lying flat, so blood pools in the chest area, leading to decreased lung volume. Coughing is not as effective due to weakened abdominal and chest muscles, causing mucus to collect in the lungs.

Breathing also becomes shallower, which leads to poorer oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange in the lungs.

Effects on the skin
Bed sores or pressure sores are a kind of skin ulcer and are a common result of the additional pressure placed on parts of the body resting on the bed surface: the blood supply to the skin covering these parts becomes insufficient.

Effects on digestion and excretion
Constipation is common, due to several factors including decreased mobility, decreased fluid intake, decreased peristalsis (movement of the digestive tract) and incomplete emptying of the bowels.

Appetite is often suppressed in bedridden patients, and malnutrition and dehydration may occur if proper attention is not paid to diet.

Prolonged bed rest also makes urination less effective. The bladder is harder to empty and tends to retain fluid, which can lead to infection. There is also greater excretion of urinary calcium, which raises the risk for bladder and kidney stones. (emphasis mine)

Incontinence due to bed rest is also common: disorientation, confusion and decreased mobility can all contribute to this problem. (emphasis mine)

Effects on the metabolism and hormonal system
Prolonged bed rest can cause numerous complex changes in the balance of hormones and minerals in the body, and in how the body processes energy.

For example, immobility causes a reduction in the percentage of lean mass to body fat, and raises the risk of developing diabetes: immobile muscles can develop reduced insulin sensitivity, which in turn leads to raised blood sugar levels.

Effects on the brain
Bed rest in combination with the stress of illness are associated with increased risk for various mental health and cognitive issues, including anxiety, depression, irritability, apathy, sleep disturbances and confusion. (emphasis mine)

Many of these ill effects can be greatly reduced by short spells of mild activity – every little bit helps, even if only getting up to walk a few steps every day. Some exercises can even be done while lying down, if you aren’t yet able to stand easily. Be sure to plan and follow an exercise and recovery programme in consultation with your health professionals. (emphasis mine)

(Health24, October 2013)

Kristin J. et al. The physiological consequences of bed rest. Journal of Exercise Physiology. Volume 10 Number 3 June 2007
Strax, T et al. 2004. Summary: Effects of Extended Bed Rest—Immobilization and Inactivity. Demos Medical Publishing, Inc.

Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed Melanie Griffith

It was watching the movie "Shining Through" that I recognized who is the woman Toulouse-Lautrec took as a model for the painting on the left.
It was Melanie Griffith.
I hope that this fact is recognized by the art-world and historians dare to accept the truth.

Sunday, October 16

Shining through

I took this picture while watching the movie Shining Through by Devid Seltzer with Melanie Griffith.
That is what this picture inspired me.


They have to bend or they might fall.
             I do the same when necessary.

(from my blog Audacious Shallot that I'm not updating)

Friday, October 14

URGENT Brazil coup 2016: Coup plotters to arrest Lula at any moment by Eduardo Guimarães

I did a quick translation of this highly important post by Brazilian blogger Eduardo Guimarães who has been working for more than ten years.
It was published on his blog "Blog da Cidadania" - "Citizenship Blog"

Coup plotters to arrest Lula at any moment
by Eduardo Guimarães October 14, 2016

This is a very sad day for this blogger. I have received reliable and credible information that Lula may be arrested at any moment promoting a spectacle set by Globo Channel in a partnership with Car Wash taskforce.

All the mainstream media already have the details of the arresting operation. It will not be a surprise if the arrest takes place next Monday.
The prison has been preceded by successive indictments of the former president, engineered to "start preparing the spirit" of the population.

After the arrest, the judge Sergio Moro will sentence Lula quickly - perhaps even this year - and by the middle of next year he will be sentenced on appeal.  All the arrangements have been made.

Coup plotters consider that there will be a public outcry with the measures of suppression of rights and elimination of social programs that come around and, in this context, Lula's recall will rise with unprecedented force.

This is currently being considered the ideal time to arrest Lula because most of society is still very angry with the Worker Party (PT) and that anger tends to blur when it becomes more clear that the coup was struck to take away from people the benefits given precisely by PT.

Lula and close associates will be taken to Curitiba, where the possibility of great popular movements in reaction to the act will be lower.

Not much else to say besides that if this country does not react to this arbitrariness, political prisons will not be restricted to Lula. Lula's arrest will trigger a witch hunt to imprison all the main opponents of the radical right-wing consortium which took power.
The arrest of leftist political leaders will be vital to prevent a major defeat of the right-wing on 2018.

The plan is to make the electronic ballot box having only strong candidates of the right-wing in two years. The only leftist candidates will be silly candidates of the parties PSOL and PSTU, who will not have a chance.

With the implementation of "scorched earth tactics" measures razed as the PEC 241, the "comeback" of the PT is taken for granted by the coup plotters, so they want to arrest Lula and many left leaders as they can while they are still strong, as the parties PSDB and PMDB will soon be politically razed with its genocidal policies in the federal government.

Unfortunately, my source is safe. And I was not taken by surprise. I was sure this was going to happen. The information  that was passed to me only surprised me by the timing; I thought that the final coup would be given next year.

However, it makes sense to arrest Lula now. In a few months the effect of PEC 241, withdrawal of labor rights, pension reform, outsourcing and the tightening of social programs will make unacceptable the arrest of the person for which Brazil will return through the scorched-earth policy that PSDB and PMDB are preparing.

I urge each of you that follow me in this 11-year journey to not only disclose this alert but to prepare to fight. Brazil is under a dictatorship and we have to report it to the world. Only international pressure can help us."

Pentimento meaning: From the movie "Julia"

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Thursday, October 13

What’s Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature by Tim Parks

Since there are man discussions about Bob Dylan receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature I decided to remember this article by Tim Parks

What’s Wrong With the Nobel Prize in Literature
Tim Parks on New York Time Review of Book
October 6, 2011, 2:57 pm

So the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer wins the Nobel prize for literature. Aside from a couple of long poems available on the net, I haven’t read Tranströmer, yet I feel sure this is a healthy decision in every way. Above all for the Nobel jury. Let me explain.

There are eighteen of them, members of an organization called the Swedish Academy, which back at the end of the 19th century was given the task of awarding the Nobel. At the time two members suggested it was a mistake to accept the job. The Academy’s founding brief, back in 1786, was to promote the “purity, strength, and sublimity of the Swedish language”. Was this compatible with choosing the finest oeuvre of “an idealistic tendency” from anywhere in the world?

All members are Swedish and most of them hold full time professorial jobs in Swedish universities. On the present jury there are just five women and no woman has ever held the presidency. Only one member was born after 1960. This is partly because you cannot resign from the Academy. It’s a life sentence. So there’s rarely any new blood. For the past few years, however, two members have refused to cooperate with deliberations for the prize because of previous disagreements, one over the reaction, or lack of it, to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and the other over awarding the prize to Elfriede Jelinek, whom he felt was “chaotic and pornographic.”

How do these people decide who are the greatest novelists and/or poets of the day on the international scene? They call on scores of literary experts in scores of countries and pay them to put down a few reflections about possible winners. Such experts are supposed to remain anonymous, but inevitably some have turned out to be acquaintances of those they have nominated.

Let’s try to imagine how much reading is involved. Assume that a hundred writers are nominated every year—it’s not unthinkable—of whom the jury presumably try to read at least one book. But this is a prize that goes to the whole oeuvre of a writer, so let’s suppose that as they hone down the number of candidates they now read two books of those who remain, then three, then four. It’s not unlikely that each year they are faced with reading two hundred books (this on top of their ordinary workloads). Of these books very few will be written in Swedish and only some will be available in Swedish translation; many will be in English, or available in English translation. But since the English and Americans notoriously don’t translate a great deal, some reading will have to be done in French, German or perhaps Spanish translations from more exotic originals.

Remember that we’re talking about poems as well as novels and they’re coming from all over the world, many intensely engaged with cultures and literary traditions of which the members of the Swedish Academy understandably know little. So it’s a heterogeneous and taxing bunch of books these professors have to digest and compare, every year. Responding recently to criticism that in the last ten years seven prizes have gone to Europeans, Peter Englund, the president of the current jury, claimed its members were well equipped for English but concerned about their strengths in such languages as Indonesian. Fair enough.

Let’s pause for a moment, here, and imagine our Swedish professors, called to uphold the purity of the Swedish language, as they compare a poet from Indonesia, perhaps translated into English with a novelist from Cameroon, perhaps available only in French, and another who writes in Afrikaans but is published in German and Dutch and then a towering celebrity like Philip Roth, who they could of course read in English, but might equally feel tempted, if only out of a sense of exhaustion, to look at in Swedish.

Do we envy them this task? Does it make much sense? The two members who a century ago felt the cup should be allowed to pass from them were worried that the Academy would become “a cosmopolitan tribunal of literature”. Something they instinctively felt was problematic. They were not wrong.

Now, let’s imagine that we have been condemned for life to making, year in year out a burdensome and near impossible decision to which the world increasingly and inexplicably ascribes a crazy importance. How do we go about it? We look for some simple, rapid and broadly acceptable criteria that will help us get this pain out of the way. And since, as Borges himself noted, aesthetics are difficult and require a special sensibility and long reflection, while political affiliations are easier and quickly grasped, we begin to identify those areas of the world that have grabbed public attention, perhaps because of political turmoil or abuses of human rights, we find those authors who have already won a huge level of respect and possibly major prizes in the literary communities of these countries and who are outspokenly committed on the right side of whatever political divide we’re talking about, and we select them. So we have the period when the prize went to Eastern block dissidents, or to South American writers against dictatorship, or South African writers against apartheid, or, most amazingly, to the anti-Berlusconi playwright Dario Fo whose victory caused some bewilderment in Italy.

It was an honorable enough formula but alas not every trouble spot boasts its great dissident writer (Tibet, Cechnya), to which we might add that since the prize is perceived as going to the country as much as to the writer, it’s not possible to give it to writers from the same trouble spot two years running. What a conundrum!

Sometimes the jury clearly got their hands burned. Having received so many major literary prizes in Germany and Austria, the left-wing feminist Jelinek seemed a safe choice. But her work is ferocious, often quite indigestible (she’d never win a literary prize in say, Italy or England) and the novel Greed, in particular, which appeared shortly before the prize was awarded, was truly unreadable. I know because I tried, and [tried again] ( Had the members of the jury really read it? You have to wonder. Not surprisingly, after the controversy that winner caused they fell back on obvious choices for a while: Pinter, politically appropriate and half forgotten; Vargas Llosa who I somehow imagined had already won the prize many years before.

What a relief then from time to time to say, the hell with it and give it to a Swede, in this case the octogenarian acknowledged as his nation’s finest living poet and a man whose whole oeuvre, as Peter Englund charmingly remarks, could fit into a single slim paperback. A winner, in short, whom the whole jury can read in the original pure Swedish in just a few hours. Perhaps they needed a sabbatical. Not to mention the detail, not irrelevant in these times of crisis, that the $1.5-million-dollar prize will stay in Sweden.

But most healthy of all, a decision like this, which we all understand would never have been taken by say, an American jury, or a Nigerian jury, or perhaps above all a Norwegian jury, reminds us of the essential silliness of the prize and our own foolishness at taking it seriously. Eighteen (or sixteen) Swedish nationals will have a certain credibility when weighing up works of Swedish literature, but what group could ever really get its mind round the infinitely varied work of scores of different traditions. And why should we ask them to do that?

October 6, 2011, 2:57 pm

Bob Dylan awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

In 2012 Bob Dylan received from the Nobel Peace prize president Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Today Bob received Nobel Prize " "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition".  This is the reason for a literature prize.

I like Bob Dylan but it seems to me that this is another one for the list of those controversial Nobel Prizes. Literature is the leading Nobel Prize of controversy.
Perhaps Nobel Prize permanent secretary Sara Danius who said: "He is a great poet in the English tradition." confused "lyricist" for "lyric".

I'm sure that those who are from the literary field are very disappointed but the majority of people think it is fair and well deserved. A book, is a book, is a book.

I have a bachelor degree in literature and whenever someone comes up with a very beautiful lyric claiming it is "poetry" I ask the person to read it aloud.
Usually, they cannot do read it with a good intonation.
Call me old-fashioned but I don't mix the two arts. I have even already read lyrics as a poem in class to call the attention of students but I always explained to them that it is just like comparing a book and the film based on it. They are different arts.