Monday, June 30, 2008

Be Music, Night

Le Violoniste Bleu
Marc Chagall(1887-1985), Le Violiniste Bleu

Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs

Be a hand, sea,
That her dreams may watch
Thy guidesman touching the green flesh of the world

Be a voice, sky,
That her beauties may be counted
And the stars will tilt their quiet faces
Into the mirror of her loveliness

Be a road, earth,
That her walking may take thee
Where the towns of heaven lift their breathing spires

O be a world and a throne, God,
That her living may find its weather
And the souls of ancient bells in a child's book
Shall lead her into Thy wondrous house

Kenneth Patchen


História Trágico-Marítima

Vieira da Silva, História Trágico-Marítima, 1944

"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives."(*) Oh, how true! I just seem to be utterly useless at putting them into words, though... is there a bigger frustration than that? As I'm not much good at expressing them any other way either but they ARE nevertheless there, tormenting me and begging to come out, I believe I might just suffer from some form of autism or some other kind of impairment which I am very aware of but just can't identify or shake off...

One of the reasons why I love reading and listening to good oratory and intelligent debates is the sensation of sheer joy and fulfilment I get every time I find someone articulately and brilliantly expressing an idea or point of view which exists in my head but won't come out. It's a very rewarding click.

(*)Mel Brooks, "Blazing Saddles"

Obs.: Inspired, in admiration, by Mariana's blog.

Smooth sailing ahead

Smooth Sailing

Building boats is my dear brother-in-law's passion. His sailing site here.
Have a good week!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Priceless Gifts

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Sunlight

An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.

Anna Swir

(Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan)

Friday, June 27, 2008

In the Marvelous Dimension

Blue Star
Joan Miró, Blue Star, 1927

"Affliction is a marvel of divine technique. It is a simple and ingenious device to introduce into the soul of a finite creature that immensity of force, blind, brutal, and cold. The infinite distance which separates God from the creature is concentrated into a point to transfix the centre of a soul.... In this marvellous dimension, without leaving the time and place to which the body is bound, the soul can traverse the whole of space and time and come into the actual presence of God."
Simone Weil

Solemnia Verba

Disse ao meu coração: Olha por quantos
Caminhos vãos andámos! Considera
Agora, d'esta altura fria e austera,
Os ermos que regaram nossos prantos...

Pó e cinzas, onde houve flor e encantos!
E noite, onde foi luz de primavera!
Olha a teus pés o mundo e desespera
Semeador de sombras e quebrantos!--

Porém o coração, feito valente
Na escola da tortura repetida,
E no uso do penar tornado crente,

Respondeu: D'esta altura vejo o Amor!
Viver não foi em vão, se é isto a vida,
Nem foi de mais o desengano e a dor.

A big, big thank you to Laura for sending me this beautiful poem and dedicating this wonderful photograph to me.

For Claudia

Some of her loveliest pictures can be seen here.

Thank you Laura!

Joy! It's Friday!

Mark Rothko, No.5 / No.22, 1949, Oil on canvas, 297 x 272 cm

"I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as a stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command!"

"I am not an abstract painter. I am not interested in the relationship between form and color. The only thing I care about is the expression of man's basic emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, destiny."

"Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative."

"Silence is so accurate."

"It never does to overestimate the intelligence of the art lover. They say Rothko killed himself because he met the people who bought his art" -- Adrian Searle in The Guardian

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Faithful and Pacient Housewife

"Now that I’m dead I know everything."

What a brilliant start to a story! And indeed Margaret Atwood's whole rendition of Penelope is superbly shrewd and witty. Penelope's assertion falls flat on its face after being dead for a while, by the way.

The idea of letting the gods and the dead inhabit the internet to keep up with the modern world I thought was fantastic. After all, that's one of the devious and obscure roles some of us modern mortals subconsciouly assign the web.

I still tend to think of the instant of death as the instant of absolute truth and revelation (even if it all doesn't make sense). Rationally it's absolutely rubbish, of course, but there's a lot more to life and death than reason and science. We all mold our own individual faiths on our own very particular fundamental needs, on our perception of the world, on what we think must exist but cannot be perceived.


Edvard Munch, Vampire, 1894

And yet...

...a New Life is celebrated even in times of adversity...




Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Debatable... but certainly a valid point of view...

La Condition Humaine
René Magritte, La Condition Humaine, 1933

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

-- Umberto Eco --

Here Comes the Sun


Clara's going to be singing this in next week's concert and she's been practicing intensely. The choreography is fantastic and she just looks so cute...

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

-- Beatles --

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Really, really windy outside today! The trees were even more alive than usual...

On the Diversity of Paths

Salvador Dali, “A woman with a head full of roses”

Da Diversidade dos Caminhos

Não me apontem caminhos que me adocem os passos.
Digam-me, apenas, que entenderão, se eu cair.
Quero tropeçar e ver a pedra que ignorava,
voltar atrás, removê-la ou contorná-la,
registar a lição e prosseguir.

Não me dêem respostas que me anulem as perguntas.
Digam-me, apenas, que as darão, se eu pedir.
Quero enfrentar a dúvida, ver-me sem chão,
sentir que a certeza é um estádio em mutação,
que a dúvida alimenta e faz surgir.

Não quero viver, apenas, da vossa aprendizagem,
mas, antes, que me acompanhem na viagem
e me ajudem, se errar, mas sem perder
o direito, mesmo errando, de VIVER.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Espresso, anyone?


I can finally make a proper cuppa coffee in style and with no mess. Great concept, great design, superb marketing! Only thing missing is George Clooney...

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

I have so many blessings, so many things to be thankful for... I am Happy!

** I found the video in this wonderful list of someone's favourites...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Not a good start

Bad luck as soon as I left home...

OK. The day started out with a flat tyre and having to call the AA to help out. One hour's wait. I then got a sermon on the state of my tyres, which apparently were completely worn out and very dangerous. ** Note to self: I guess I should really take better care of the little and mundane things in life instead of spending so much time trying to figure out The Big Picture... *** Went to service garage and got new front tyres and realignment job. Not how I had planned to spend the morning...
When I got home I noticed that two machine loads of almost-dry-washing had been drenched by an unexpected shower. Cursing my luck, I took down the washing in the garden and didn't hear the doorbell ring, therefore missing a postal delivery which I'll now have get from the post depot on the other side of town.

And the day is still only half way gone....

Tiny fighter

There's not much sense to be made of Life... as JKF put it "Who ever said Life was fair?"

This tiny fighter, a good friend of Clara's, is very dear to me. Just as David beat Goliath, I'm sure she'll overcome leukaemia.

No Summer

Summer was apparently cancelled this year in this part of the world...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

La rive en fleurs

John Everett Millais, Ophelia (1852)

Sous le dôme épais, où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s’assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs, riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l’onde frémissante
D’une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord,
Où la source dort
Et l’oiseau, l’oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons
Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin
À la rose s’assemble
Sur la rive en fleurs
Riant au matin
Viens, descendons ensemble.

Doucement glissons de son flot charmant,
Suivons le courant fuyant
Dans l’onde frémissante
D’une main nonchalante
Viens, gagnons le bord
Où la source dort et
L’oiseau, l’oiseau chante.

Sous le dôme épais
Où le blanc jasmin,
Ah! descendons

The sin of pride

Ana sent in a poem she had written for one of her classes on Holocaust Day (contrary to the claims in that awful chain mail that has been going around the globe for months, the United Kingdom has not dropped the study of the Holocaust from its curriculum).
She keeps making me sin...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I’ve lost count of the Claudias that have kept this blog going. The present one is not going to stick around for long. I wonder who’ll come next?

So many people broadcasting themselves in the anonymity of the web... Hoping, perhaps, that God is a good reader?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Auguries of Innocence

Auguries of innocence

The beach

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

- William Blake -

Monday, June 09, 2008

For you

Have a rosy day!

Till the last sleep, from the blind waking at birth,
Bearing the weight of the years between the two,
I shall find no better thing upon the earth
Than the wilful, noble, faulty thing which is you.

You have not failed me; but if you too should fail me,
Being human, bound on your inviolate quest,
No matter now what the years do to assail me
I shall go, in some sort, a victor, down to my rest.

--Sara Teasdale--

Friday, June 06, 2008

In Memoriam

In memory of Mauricio Levy, a good man and a very dear friend.

Mauricio 1997

Adieu l'ami Mauricio Levy

Il est des hommes qui sans nul doute marquent leur époque et plus particulièrement les gens qu’ils ont rencontrés. C’est le cas de Mauricio Levy qui vient de disparaître, le 6 décembre dernier, dans des conditions tragiques, au Portugal. Plus qu’un correspondant de notre magazine et d’autres avant nous, plus qu’un fin connaisseur du monde ferroviaire portugais mais aussi international, il reste celui qui aura façonné, petit à petit, une conscience ferroviaire collective dans son pays. Amenant chacun à réfléchir au devenir de ce mode de transport dans des contrées où traditionnellement, le rail n’a pas toujours connu la bonne fortune rencontrée ailleurs en Europe. Son regard devenait gourmand à la seule évocation de tel ou tel train, brillait au seul nom des Wagons-Lits dont il collectionnait les objets et livres, sans tomber toutefois dans la nostalgie. Amateur éclairé de l’histoire et de l’actualité des réseaux ferrées internationaux, il avait gagné le respect des autorités portugaises qui l’avaient nommé au poste de Directeur de l’Institut National des Transports Ferroviaires, au début des années 2000. Travailleur infatigable, toujours à la recherche du consensus autour de quelques idées fortes, sans jamais perdre de vue la nécessité d’écouter les autres et d’étudier leurs propositions, leurs choix, il avait eu à intervenir sur la question du tracé des futures lignes à grande vitesse au Portugal. Un sujet délicat dont malheureusement il ne verra pas l’aboutissement mais dont il aura sans nul doute influencé les choix. Fatigué de devoir discuter avec la classe politique, de diriger une entreprise qu’il avait essayé de moderniser et de transformer, d’affronter les commissions et enquêtes en tout genre qui l’éloignaient toujours trop de l’opérationnel qu’il affectionnait, il avait quitté ses fonctions, sans regrets, en 2004 pour rejoindre sa maison mère, la Poste portugaise dont il était l’un des directeurs.

Issu d’une famille juive émigrée au Portugal après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, dont une grande partie fut exterminée par les Nazis, il aimait à raconter comment son amour des trains lui était venu de ses fréquents voyages, d’abord en famille puis seul, entre Lisbonne et Paris, sa ville d’adoption dont il connaissait les moindres rues, les moindres histoires.

Ses études au Lycée français de Lisbonne avaient renforcé en lui cet amour de la France qu’il entretenait, qu’il nourrissait avec une pointe de nostalgie, celle de ne pouvoir partager cette passion avec ses enfants, désormais plus acquis à la langue anglaise qu’à celle de Molière. Des enfants dont il avait retenu les prénoms pour signer ses dernières chroniques dans Le Rail par un Miguel S. Rita...

Lorsque dans les années 90, je lui proposai de rejoindre la toute nouvelle Association des Journalistes Ferroviaires Européens et de créer une section portugaise, il y adhéra, non sans avoir au préalable discuté les statuts jugés alors “napoléoniens” en vertu de cette méfiance ancrée dans l’histoire franco-portugaise qu’il me rappelait de temps à autre. Cette amitié survécut heureusement à cette Association et il resta entre nous un lien indéfectible, né certes d’une passion commune mais également d’une envie de dépasser les frontières de nos pays et de s’apparenter à une famille européenne plus conforme à nos idées.

Cet homme éclectique, capable de s’enflammer pour la chose politique française ou portugaise, ce passionné et passionnant ami nous manque déjà et laisse un vide difficile à combler. Ses nombreux amis ont été surpris par sa disparition inattendue, comme sa famille vers qui vont, bien entendu, toutes nos pensées et notre amitié.

Il vient de nous prouver une fois de plus qu’il faut savoir jouir du temps qui passe et des amitiés qui semblent devoir durer. Tout peut être remis en question, à tout moment.

Le vide créé par son départ en est la preuve. Il nous reste certes ses écrits, ses réflexions et ses propos qu’aujourd’hui ses amis aiment à se rappeler. Il n’empêche, nous aurions aimé prolonger encore quelques années ces échanges pour encore plus apprécier les qualités de cet homme, de cet ami exceptionnel.

Christian SCASSO
LE RAIL •N°142 • DÉCEMBRE 2007
3, avenue Hoche
Tél.: 33 (0)1 46 22 53 71
Fax: 33 (0)1 40 54 98 93