Alejandra de Argos by Elena Cué

With his face resting on the window, Alessandro looked at the Starry Night who aroused in him an inexplicable craving for remote and beautiful things. The orange trees and magnolias, still blooming, gave off strong aromas at that time. In the background the dark masses of straight olive and acacia trees marked the limit of Beccarisi Villa, the luxurious Sicilian villa of his friend Giulio where they would also spend that summer. Alessandro recalled his previous visit and finding that secret hidden corner at the end of the garden near the greenhouse, where one night he heard hugs and kisses in the dark as the moonlight created the illusion of fantastic figures fluttering behind the glass between whispered sweet words, interspersed with sighs and sudden silence. As the fermentation of the fertile and burning ground, there he also experienced the mysterious sound of the eternally creative and destructive life.

Contributor: Dr. Diego Sánchez Meca,
Lecturer in History of Contemporary Philosophy,
Universidad de Madrid (UNED), Spain

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"Pleasure is even deeper than the pain.
The pain says: Pass!
But all joy wants eternity.
It wants deep, profound eternity! "

Nietzsche, Said by Zaratustra


With his face resting on the window, Alessandro looked at the Starry Night who aroused in him an inexplicable craving for remote and beautiful things. The orange trees and magnolias, still blooming, gave off strong aromas at that time. In the background the dark masses of straight olive and acacia trees marked the limit of Beccarisi Villa, the luxurious Sicilian villa of his friend Giulio where they would also spend that summer. Alessandro recalled his previous visit and finding that secret hidden corner at the end of the garden near the greenhouse, where one night he heard hugs and kisses in the dark as the moonlight created the illusion of fantastic figures fluttering behind the glass between whispered sweet words, interspersed with sighs and sudden silence.

As the fermentation of the fertile and burning ground, there he also experienced the mysterious sound of the eternally creative and destructive life, the grandeur and beauty of the pleasure of life that continued even when the lovers parted, his shadow touched hers as in an embrace under the deep blue sky of dawn, which began to dim the stars. The memory of that summer full of light had continued in his soul, more alive than in his tumultuous present.

 

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"The experience of transience and incessant short living", Giulio had said at one point in the conversation over dinner.  "To know that we lose ourselves as the wind does, and we flow like the water of a river. The perception of this continuous flow, when you think about it, does it not raise an inevitable resignation and anguish? Time is the instrument of death, the last structure of a lost experience. How many things there are that we will never see or know! "

It seemed he wanted add something else, but he stopped.

"What then is the continuity?” Alessandro had immediately replied, "Is there any point in the thought of eternity (Ewigkeit)? Do you think there is no place or experience where the agitation of change is calmed and we pick up what we have lost?  I think it is not a mere illusion of the poet who says:

"I know one thing there isn´t. It's forgetfulness.
I know that eternity endures and burns
the precious and all I have lost
tonight, this moon and this afternoon ".

 

"However, what place could be that of permanence, even more, of eternity?" Alessandro continued thinking later on. "The days tend to become equal in the memory, although not all the same. And the most common life among men is that of a relentless nightmare, a stubborn routine with a dispensable story, a set time and the wait for obscurity to offer us one last dream without memory. Was Giulio right? Life is nothing but the desire of a dreamt destination longing to become real, a tale told by an idiot in which the protagonist awaits his end at any moment when everything would be about to begin. How to understand time as a mysterious cross over, in each moment, of change and eternity?

The afternoon was burning strangely in the clouds, as if behind them an ocean stirred into flames, a divine fire. Shaken by his own words and thoughts, he left the garden despite the intense heat and walked along a stretch crop towards the city. The grass between the vineyards was dotted with small flowers where above them yellow and white butterflies fluttered. The harvest in the fields was tall. Each stem was bent over the earth bearing fruit. Under the trees, sitting on the grass, a group of peasants rested a moment from the hard work of mowing and greeted him taking off their hats, as he passed by. Further, in the pool, some children were bathing across the sparkling waters, reddened by the sunset colors. They slid along rocking to the rhythm of the gentle breeze, and above the waters the shadows of palm trees also rocked, while on the other side there was a murmur of young voices and laughter. The still air was only occasionally interrupted by the lure of a bird.

"There are many things we will never know", he said to himself.  "Maybe that's why it is desirable to even forget what we know, and be content with seeing the world in silence."

He continued his walk absorbed by the landscape, moving from image to image through a tenuous game of ideas and rethinking that which troubled him:

"The certainty of the end encourages seeking solace in the pure present, satisfying the intense enjoyment of the pleasures in life. Thus, the wait has been enriched by the remembrance of the idealised past, reconstructed to suit our most beautiful dreams. In its absence time goes by without thinking. The human soul does not reveal its mysteries. When you ask it, it remains silent."

Without being able to unleash this reflection, again a dull breath disturbed the peace of his rest. He had reached the shore and saw, buried in mournful resignation, the area in which daylight no longer shimmered. The sun had set and it darkened over the city. Everything became quiet and peaceful in that cramped and hot afternoon, where the first indoor lights shone while a big white moon lurked in the sky. He crossed the fishermen neighborhood and as he walked past a tavern, he heard music, songs and the sound of a big party. He entered and went to the bar while the musicians played a light rhythm and a young woman prepared to dance. Her hair glistened with perfumed oils; her body radiated party excitement and the smile of her mouth revealed sensuality of laughter and kisses.

She was dancing barefoot and entranced, as if embracing invisible bodies that no one saw, as if to kiss lips that were parted and bent over hers lustfully, as if caresses were to be spilt all over her body and she would enjoy those invisible bodies in unusual raptures of her dance. Maybe she lifted her mouth towards precious and sweet fruits, and sipped hot wine when throwing back her head and her eyes full of desire edging her head high. And so she continued moving alienated, surrendered to the irresistible power that dominated her.

 

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When the music ended the girl stopped and stood in front of everyone. It was the most vivid expression of pleasure, a beautiful single flower that had just opened while a multitude of eyes looked drunk with wine and sin. And while Alessandro watched, he had an inspiration: Dancing! The relationship of life, whose substance is time, why not knowing what is called eternity is only understandable from the ancestral and Heraclitean ring symbol. The succession of things and worlds is nothing but a dance, the perimeter of a circumference, a wheel that rotates on its axis, a cycle that repeats forever.

"Only art instructs us about this mysterious relationship", he began to reason, "Art simulates stopping time, bringing together the gerund of living and seducing with a look of beauty. If faces go as dances, art sets our face and gives back the image of our own face. This transformation simulates the time in "eternity", and allows man to follow the old Apollonian advice: 'to know oneself'.  Our face, being familiar but unknown at the same time, looks at us from the mirror and shows us all of the strangeness in ourselves. It is only prudent to go with what is shown in the mirror and its indefinite multiplication of things."

When he gleefully recounted his discovery to Giulio, he was pensive and after a moment he said:

"Do not be naive Alessandro. But what power does the art have versus the obsolescence of reality and its spectral reflection. It does not answer the philosophical question that leads irresistibly to the connection of time weaving and unravelling. The life of man is the fate of a caged lion repeating its monotonous circular paths without knowing that there are meadows and mountains outside of its path."

"Indeed, Giulio, that's how it is", I replied.  But because of knowledge of such a hard fate it would be unbearable. That is why the Gods, pitiful upon us, grant us the grace of oblivion, the consolation of not knowing. What it is an unknown destination?  The children´s games of freedom. The novelty fits unpredictability as well as the consequent openness and incompleteness.


The destination is frozen time, and time is a corrosion of that destination. This will, therefore be hereinafter the motto of my life: "Convert the outrage of the years in music, in a rumour, in a symbol ".

Alessandro finally felt rejoice in solitude and calm, and watched for hours and hours for the vibrant sky to clear as he was dominated by inexplicable thoughts. His eyes were intoxicated with the bright colors of the branches on which the rays of sunshine poured. Silence welcomed his dreams in the lonely twilight hours that followed then when the night slipped into his room and stood before the window lost in the shadows. The air was again filled with the intense perfume of orange blossoms and roses protruding from the garden fence, as well as mingled with the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle that climbed hugging the tree trunks.

 

- Pleasure is deeper than pain -                                   - Alejandra de Argos -

 Contributor: Maira Herrero, 
MA in Philosophy.

Maira

 

 

 

 

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German historian and journalist Florian Illies’ 300-page book is a humorous, fleeting look at the main cultural events in Europe just before the Great War.

Illies’ book is neither novel nor essay — it is simply an account of the key creative and cultural happenings in those twelve months of the year and their effects on society and culture, moments before the advent of the bloody massacre that would subsequently rock the very foundations of Western thought.

 0155-0103 der traum    GERTRUDE-STEIN- 

 

It’s an attractive read for anyone interested in the artistic avant-garde, the influence of psychoanalysis on later thinking — particularly at the Frankfurt School —, the great literary works and cultural milestones of the time and the shift in perspective that was spreading across Europe, coinciding with the gradual disappearance of the existing lifestyle. Western culture found itself launched to heady new heights thanks to technological, industrial and artistic progress, only to collapse tragically not long after.

 

 

 AEG-400x224    Unknown 

 

The book follows two parallel threads, on the one hand the epistolary relationship between Kafka and his beloved Felice Bauer, and on the other the turbulent relationship between Alma, Mahler’s widow, and Oskar Kokoshka, as told through his well-known painting Bride of the Wind (1913-4).

 

 

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During the twelve months of 1913 we see the 20th century’s greatest creators come and go: Arnold Schönberg and Igor Stravinsky and radical new musical forms; Freud and C.G. Jung’s civil struggles; the break-up of the Der Blaue Reiter (Wassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc, Albert Bloch, Robert Delaunay) and the Die Brücke groups (E. Ludwing Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, etc.); the rawness of George Grosz’s paintings, an example of art as weapon against authority; the innovative architectural styles of Peter Behrens (who just a few years earlier was responible for the turbine hall at the AEG factory), Walter Gropius, Adolf Loos and many others who placed light and symmetry at the centre of their work.

 

 

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“It was as if the current art exhibition coming from Europe had fallen on us like a bomb”, reported the publication Camera Work on the exhibition running at New York’s Armory Show at the beginning of 1913. American visitors found themselves completely stunned by Marcel Duchamp’s Woman Descending Staircase (1912). In Berlin, a few months later, the legendary art gallery Sturm would host Germany’s First Autumn Salon, a collection of avant-garde works (with the notable exception of the Die Brücke painters). Gertrud Stein was the epicentre of Parisian art, her home a meeting place for established artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque. The collector Eduard Arnhold regularly would host regular meetings with Emil Nolde, the great Berlinese patron together with James Simon. Writers, thinkers, editors, merchants were everywhere to be seen.

 

Paris, Berlin, Zurich, Venice, Vienna, Munich were some of the regular haunts of the progressive class of the time. Cities were gradually transforming into large metropolises; fashion was becoming an integral part of a new kind of lifestyle.

 

  

The book thankfully includes numerous comical anecdotes and stories which, although they don’t strictly belong to the year the book focuses on, appropriately adorn the tale. One could almost call 1913: The Year Before the Storm a guide to the fascinating world of exuberant creativity, finally ending with the Suprematist manifiesto and Malevich’s Black Square (1915).

 

 

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Florian Illies. 1913: The Year Before the Storm. Salamandra, 2013.

 

Author: Marina Valcárcel.
Art Historian
Marina 

 

 

 

 

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Chekhov and his wife, actress Olga Knípper.

 

"Give me a wife who, like the moon, will not appear every day in my sky." (Chekhov)

Throughout 2013, after Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, it was impossible not to hear someone saying that Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) is "the father of modern literature". So a few weeks ago I decided to sit down and re-read "The Steppe", and I found myself once again with a strange, uneasy feeling inside me, as if something had remained there, deep down, undigested.

 

The 150-page novel is about the journey of a child over the Ukrainian steppe set around 1880. For Chekhov, the Russian soul was something dependent on the unparalleled solitude of the steppe landscape, something he wanted to describe slowly, gradually, as if through canvases, page by page, revealing themselves - a creative process one could describe as written painting.

 

How many painters, illustrators or film directors have been able to convey a storm as convincingly as Chekhov?

 

The true protagonists in the book are not people but the vivid descriptions and the landscape. Apart from these standout elements, though, it's a generally slow read with very little action.

 

So if nothing much happens, how do we explain the impact it has on the contemporary reader?

 

It's a pertinent question, particularly in an age of immediacy, information overload and expectations of complex, highly elaborate content. In the midst of recent Oscar-winning films about relationships between a man and an operating system, or the full-on anxiety of a space mission gone wrong, what can we hope to get out of a book whose opening lines describe the flight of a bustard? Why are we so impressed by the description of time passing one morning in the countryside, as if it "stretched endlessly, as if it had stopped altogether"? The author makes us excited to see how he unravels the decline of Russian society at the end of the 19th century through the actions of an old priest. "Father Jristofor had never experienced a concern so strong as to tighten his soul like a boa."

 

Further answers to these questions can be found by making parallels with the world of painting.

 

When we study Jan Van Eyck's "Man with Red Turban", for instance, we start looking at each and every strand of mink hair on the neck, we study the eye closely, and we even discover a tiny drop of blood in it - it's a similar mental slap to the one we experience when scrutinizing Freud's "Portrait of the Young Painter".

 

 

 

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Looking more broadly, it's also similar to the "tornado effect" caused by, say, Chekhov's (or even Thoreau's) letters, or David Forster Wallace's novels.

 

Perhaps it's merely the fact that all these works of art come from a place of genius. They have all left us with some sort of sting in a corner of our hypothalamus, an intense, uneasy feeling that's difficult to shake off. We're predators of emotions and we recognize our catch.

 

 

Contributor: Dr. Diego Sánchez Meca,
Lecturer in the History of Contemporary Philosophy,
University of Madrid (UNED), Spain

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Diego Sánchez Meca, Música

 

 

Art is a pleasing, entertaining, educational trick of the imagination. In and of itself, a piece of art, a creation, is nothing more than the physical outcome of life’s primal creative energy. Ultimately, creating art and living life are one and the same activity, life being the continuous creation of a world of appearances being continually produced and destroyed, playfully, exhilaratingly. Hence, for art to exist, there must be an abundance of force, a personal vital intensity that spreads out into the world creating and destroying forms and objects. That is the essence of art: the drive behind it is nothing but the same creative and destructive energy underlying all action in the world.

 

 

  

So how exactly does this great energy work? By taming a large number of impulses to form a harmonious, beautiful whole. This process happens in the natural world, for instance: every living creature moves according to a certain rhythm, and every living creature naturally generates its own rhythm as part of its life, so much so that we can actually define life as a spontaneous, rhythmic mechanism. This is clear from our own personal experience: we would rather engage in rhythmic than disorderly effort. In sporting practice and other physical activity, by repeating the same movements in equal time intervals we use our muscles efficiently thus saving a great deal of energy and avoiding unnecessary fatigue.

 

 

 Música en la cabeza   

 

The idea of rhythm underlies life and movement within both the organic world and the inorganic world. There is rhythm wherever there are forces that are not in balance with each other: cold and heat, humidity and dryness, density and expansion, light and darkness. Everything that exists has a natural tendency to fight, and thus rhythm is generated from the counteraction of opposites: the rhythm of the seasons, the cycle of day and night, rainfall and drought, hunger and satiety. As Heraclitus said, all occurrences are in some way connected to rhythm. From this we can conclude that life, existence and evolution are all about creating balance to counteract an underlying unbalance, controlling disorder through regularity and organization, creating a world, an order, from chaos.

 

 

Similarly, art is not the boundless unfolding of sentimental longings or wild fantasies, but the successful pairing of content and form, inspiration and technique. And the more the creative force behind the artwork is contained and controlled within the limits of an artistic form, of a rhythm, the more sublime the results will be. So where does this theory take us?

 

When we listen to good music, we experience this very human desire for depth, infinity and essence; when we look for sublime thoughts in times of calm reflection, we risk upsetting the correct balance between form and content. The best kind of music should content itself with the ways of our world and our lives, and should love them just as they are, as simple appearances, without trying to surpass them by looking for some transcendental meaning. Music, as an interplay of melodies and rhythms, is in some sense a privileged way of thinking about the truth behind appearance, since its very artistic form allows us to understand the world — not in a profound way, but as a tragic-Dionysiacal creation-destruction way. The artist’s rhythms, songs and harmonies, those which inform his work, refer to the Earth and to life, which is nothing more than a swing alternating between birth and death.

 

 

  Partitura música 

 

What’s interesting is that music doesn’t have to originate from pessimism or asceticism, as Schopenhauer thought. In fact, it could even become the true countermovement of pessimism: “I would only ever believe in a god that could dance”, said Nietzsche. Which is something like asking music to be the art of lightness, of versatility, of subtlety and of pure joie de vivre. What music teaches every human being is to live every moment fully by controlling the chaos, giving life a meaning and imposing a certain order, a rhythm, a shape to its unpredictability and its temporality, giving it a universal shape and directing it towards specific goals. If this process is not followed through, then one will be overcome by chaos, by a multitude of impulses, by the unpredictable, ever-changing determinations that are all around us.

 

In conclusion, the music that manages to overcome chaos is the type of music which can be said to be life-affirming, that which is in synchrony with human well-being and which is capable of ordering time, rather than passively and nihilistically succumbing to a seductive aural chaos which, while superficially appealing, is harmonically and melodically disorganized.  This is how Nietzsche envisioned Dionysical music — on stage, the music should be playing on it own, with no distractions, free to inspire a sense of vitality. The best form of music, therefore, should be absolute music, a representation of both the beauty seen as the form of that which has been overcome, but also as the sublime which continually breaks any form induced by an impulse of a new and profound fullness.

 

 

Diego Sánchez Meca

Contributor: Dr. Diego Sánchez Meca,
Lecturer in History of Contemporary Philosophy,
University of Madrid (UNED), Spain

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This article is about the theatrical release in Madrid of "The Name of the Rose".

Jokes, word play, irony and a good sense of humour have always been key elements in human relations. The various forms of comedy performances, or the jokes that find their way into our daily conversations, contribute to our moments of laughter, a mechanism with a clear relaxing and therapeutic function, helping us cope with life's worries, anxieties and struggles.

In all the above situations, laughter and wellbeing are generated by our intelligence, creating a kind of oasis in the desert of seriousness. Or to put it another way:  ingenuity, irony, jokes and comedy are all tools that we subconsciously use to take a serious situation lightly, or conversely to take light situations seriously.

On the opposite side of laughter is sadness and rigidity. Laughter is carefree, light, it provides us with feelings of enjoyment and wellbeing. It is our desire to increase and intensify the moments of laughter that incite and stimulate ingenuity, irony and parody, which are nothing more than intelligent forms of criticism. The times when the enjoyment we get from laughter is at its peak are the times when ironic, parodic or humorous criticism towards people, situations or institutions allows us to see their ridiculous side. That's why laughter has such a strong destructive power, and why it represents the most effective weapon against fear and authority, respect for truth, compliance with law or veneration of the sacred.

It's not such a mystery, then, that laughter is the most dangerous tool when it is directed towards the established order. This is valid in politics, science, religion, morality or social relations. It throws down the pretensions of the absolute and the sacred, used to teach us laws, traditions, truths, principles, beliefs and norms. "Laughter kills more than anger", according to Machiavelli.

It's easy to understand, then, why no totalitarian state could ever permit laughter and entertainment. The strategy of political domination is always rooted in fear, and humour is the best weapon to dissolve fear. That's the reflection that one gets from the speech by Jorge de Burgos - the blind monk in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose - when justifying the killing of all those who had read the second book of Aristotle's Poetics, lost since Antiquity and found again by chance in the library of the old monastery. It was a highly dangerous book, because its plot, developed no less by the greatest and wisest philosopher known since then, was in fact comedy and laughter:

"When the villager laughs, it makes him feel like a master, because laughter has reversed the relationship of domination. Laughter conquers his fear, which in reality is the fear of God. We must destroy this book, which presents comedy as medicine and liberation, because it brings about the overthrow of order which can only be maintained through fear."

There are certain things which weigh down on us and inexorably direct our lives: dogmas, absolutisms, the undisputed: it is only when irony and laughter show us the ridiculous side that they stop imprisoning us with their chains - something which, however, does not come without its high cost... Today, for example, one can still be persecuted and killed for showing irreverance towards the prophet Mohammed. And we are still not permitted to joke with what for some is still sacred, serious, perfect.

 

 Author: Elena Cué

 


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Wagner’s magnificent opera, performed at the Teatro Real, saw the composer’s intensity and passion merged with Bill Viola’s beauty and subtlety, greatly enhancing the work.

Of particular note were Marc Piollet’s music direction, the Lithuanian Violeta Urmana’s powerful voice (in the role of Isolde) and Franz-Josef Seling’s masterful performance as King Marke. Bill Viola's video-art played a prominent role, thanks to director Peter Sellars' understated scenery and the seamless integration of his video-art into the opera.

Love, desire, emotion, drama, all expressed with an immediacy that only music, of all the arts, is capable of. The expressive music together with Viola’s unique visual poetry, form a powerful creative combination.

Love, desire, emotion, drama, all expressed with an immediacy that only music, of all the arts, is capable of. The expressive music together with Viola’s unique visual poetry, form a powerful creative combination.

 

Wagner, composer from the Romanticism era, raises Tristan und Isolde to its pure Romantic essence, praising emotion over reason. A romantic, like Tristan, lives and is consumed by his emotions, and perishes from his desires. In this context, death is understood as the beginning of life.

 

 

 

 

To yearn, to yearn!
Dying, still to yearn,
not of yearning to die!
What never dies
now calls, yearning
to the distant physician
for the peace of death.
No healing,
no sweet death,
can ever free me
from the pain of yearning:
nowhere, ah nowhere
can I find rest:
night casts me
back to day
so that the sun can for ever feast
its sight upon my suffering. 



 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Schopenhauer, desire and longing are at the centre of human life: we are made up of wants and needs. Our lives are but a fight for survival towards an irreversible end (death). But our desires and aspirations also lead us to suffering, Schopenhauer says. To finally reach our goals is to experience something even worse than death: emptiness and boredom. Life is nothing but a pendulum swinging between need and tedium.

The influence that Arthur Schopenhauer’s thinking had on the composer is well documented. Buddhism, widely present in the philosopher’s writings, was also an influence on Wagner while he was writing the libretto for Tristan und Isolde (as well as composing the music for his operas, Wagner would always write his own librettos).


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The question of spiritual influence is in fact something else the two have in common: Viola, whose roots can be traced back to the spiritual traditions of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, uses video-art as a channel for self-discovery, evident in the mystical visuals by the artist that complemented the opera.



The four elements - fire, water, air, earth - feature prominently in his work, as well as the concept of decelerating time and an aesthetic style influenced by artists such as Zurbarán, Velazquez, Goya, Ribera, el Bosco… Water, essential for life, is often used symbolically in his work since he almost drowned at the age of six. He speaks of this experience as calming and peaceful, not as tragic or fearsome. Water is indeed the great constant throughout his videos: life, movement, birth, cure, pleasure, pain, death, mystery...

The four natural elements were also how the pre-Socratics explained the origin and cause of the cosmos.

 

 

Throughout the performance, Viola's videos gradually aligned more and more with the opera's storyline, becoming one and the same in the last act - the best, in my opinion.

“A lot of my work is based on bringing opposites together. White and black, light and darkness, fire and water, day and night, man and woman, birth and death. These are the elements that Man has been experiencing since the beginning of time.” Bill Viola.

   



Act One began with sea scenes and images of Shakespearean actors (some nude) that Viola used as symbols to represent the characters of the story. These were followed by superb scenes of the titular lovers of great intensity, romanticism and drama, whereas Viola's screen depicted a purification ritual of the main characters, water symbolizing the beginning of life and atonement.

 

 isodora1

 isodora2

 

 


The next element was fire, used here as a symbol of the fight between life and death - great scenes of huge flames burning away accompanied by intense music.



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 isodora4          isodora5

 
 

The water scene where Tristan’s dead body rises up to the heavens was the climax of a sublime Bill Viola at work.

 
 
 

 tristan 3          bill-viola-tristans-ascension 

 

As sublime as Wagner's music. He does not preted that we take a pasive attitude of pure pleasure towards his music, he desires much more. He wants us to suffer an interior transformation and for us to transcend by forsaking our individuality, and embrazing others as a whole through the common experience of joy (Dionysian ectasy) and pain (tragedy). Like Isolde at the end.
 
 
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Friedrich Nietzsche was a composer as well as a philosopher. His troubled relationship with Wagner went from deep admiration after discovering his Tristan und Isolde, to terrible hatred and the subsequent end of their friendship. Nietzsche did not take kindly to Wagner’s Parsifal and its strong religious centre, especially its Christian idea of compassion.

All qualities are united in music: it can lift us up, it can be capricious, it can cheer us up and delight us (...). Its main purpose, however, is to lead our thoughts upward, so that it elevates us, even deeply moves us (...). Music often speaks to us more deeply than the words of a poem, as it is able to enter into the smallest corners of our heart.” F. Nietzsche.

 

 

 tristan

 

 

 

 

 

 

FilosofiaGriega

 

 

Greek civilization laid the foundations of our contemporary Western culture - it is in Ancient Greece, specifically in Miletus, where the origins of philosophy are to be found.
The book begins with the Seven Sages of Greece and with Thales of Miletus, the first man to attempt to explain natural phenomena through science rather than myth.


Among other things, he earned his fame for having predicted a solar eclipse, discovering Ursa Major and its importance in circumnavigation, and for his theory on the existence of a primordial entity from which all things originate. Until Thales’ findings, all phenomena that could not be readily understood by man were attributed to the Greek gods who, although they exhibited physical attributes far superior to mortals, were nevertheless imagined in the shape of man with their same mortal needs.

For most readers, philosophy is a very dense discipline, and that is true for some parts of it. Hence this book’s appeal: written in an engaging and accessible style, it takes the reader on an exciting journey through the history of thought.

Philosophy, meaning “love of knowledge”, began in Ancient Greece and it is the attempt to find rational answers to the fundamental questions in life. Studying the history of philosophy is important not only for the factual knowledge we learn in the process, but also because it teaches us about the need to develop independent thought.

Philosophy is our guide in the difficult task of daring to think for ourselves. Kant - and many others before him - reminds us of this with his well-known “Sapere aude”, or “Dare to know”. We are so conditioned in our thinking that we don’t even realize it’s happening. Our family, teachers, our spiritual guides, the State, mass media, our consumerist society, etc.: everything and everyone around us, in some way, directs us towards a certain way of thinking and living. This is actually very easy for us to submit to, since we spend a lot less effort delegating our thinking to those we consider better able at doing it for us. According to Immanuel Kant in his 1784 essay, “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, we act like this either out of laziness - it’s easier for us to have others think on our behalf - or out of cowardice - for fear of being wrong. In either case, he thinks it’s down to immaturity.

The idea of “daring to know” is as timeless as the history of thought; the great contributions made to the evolution of thought by these philosophers can be applied to any time in the history of humanity. And this is precisely why philosophy is a highly relevant subject in all our lives. This book is just the first step.

 

 
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