Tuesday, July 31, 2012

“An unqualified cultural success” | IP Journal

“An unqualified cultural success” | IP Journal

“An unqualified cultural success”

Historian and author Peter Watson on the “German genius”


Category: Culture, Government and Society, Germany, Western Europe, Europe

Peter Watson’s recent book, The German Genius, explores Germany’s rich cultural and intellectual contributions. But what does Germany have to offer today? And does it have enough soft power to make up for its military deficiencies? He sat down with IP to discuss German soft power and why it is time to look beyond its spotted political history.

IP: You have written The German Genius, which highlights the many essential German contributions to intellectual life and scientific progress in the 18th and 19th centuries. Where did the inspiration for the project come from?

Watson: I am fascinated by the fact that, so far as I know, there is no theory, or book, which explores in a systematic way the link—if there is one—between cultural history and political history. Maybe the link just doesn’t exist. My attention was drawn to this by Isaiah Berlin who noted that he had lived a long, happy, and productive life throughout the twentieth century while political mayhem was going on all around him. He was right. You can say this a fortiori about Germany. Since 1750, the death of Bach and the birth of the modern age, Germany has been an unqualified success culturally but hardly so politically. Look at the Weimar period: as Walter Laqueur and Fritz Stern say, it was wonderful culturally, a disaster politically. I can’t explain it and I don’t know who can.

IP: As someone who has written extensively about the “German genius,” could you explain what it is and what makes it specifically German?

Watson: I did not set out to explain the German genius but to describe it. However, some elements seem plain. The pietistic background, a form of high seriousness. This high seriousness was adopted by many sons of pastors, who became cultural figures of one sort or another (but not pastors). The fact that Germany was an agglomeration of many small states mattered too, in that it meant she had fifty universities when England had two. Many of these were small but the large number created competition and was helped by the practice of courts sponsoring poor but bright boys. Germany had far more intellectual mobility than anywhere else for at least the first 50 years of the 19th century, and maybe longer. This meant three good things, at least: a highly educated civil service; the appeal of the new sciences was more enthusiastically received early on; a public for high culture, which is our word for middle class culture. Amazingly, this still exists more in Germany than anywhere, even after all that has happened. Another disjunction between politics and culture. I think German inwardness really comes from Kant and Nietzsche; their achievements, looking in, were so massive that none of us have quite gotten over them. But of course it had very unhealthy aspects later on, not just Fichte but Schopenhauer and people like Paul Lagarde. I don’t think inwardness is a good thing in the long run—empiricism has been more fruitful—and it is certainly not good for a people to think of themselves as “more inward” than others. As I say in the book, the stereotypes we have of ourselves can be as dangerous as those we have of others.

But Germany wasn’t only inward. Marx and Engels weren’t inward, or all the scientists that made the 19th century their own. The poets and musicians were, but then all poets and musicians are inward, of whatever nationality. Gordon Craig and Heinrich Mann both had a point when they criticized German intellectuals for putting inward culture before outward politics (the old Kultur/Zivilisation division).

IP: After World War II, Germany had a unique international “image problem,” to put it very mildly. In the aftermath of the Holocaust and other atrocities committed during the war, West Germany reinvented itself as a civilian power that relies on soft power as opposed to military might.

Watson: I don’t actually think that Germany has much soft power. It has no military power but it does have economic power, and I wouldn’t call that “soft.” I don’t think many people in Britain are knowledgeable about German soft power—otherwise there would not have been the need to hold a “branding Germany” conference at the Goethe Institute in London a few years ago. I think the whole point—and hence my book—is that the “new” Germany has not yet broken through to the general public, beyond its sheer economic strength.

IP: What makes Germany culturally and politically attractive? How would you describe Germany’s “cultural charisma”?

Watson: I don’t think many people do think it is culturally attractive—this is why ambassador Thomas Matussek went on about it so much when he was in London. I think the German Green Party is attractive, because it is the only party in the world devoted to these issues and most people know, deep down, that this is the big issue of the future, bigger even than terrorism. Similarly, I don’t think Germany has cultural charisma, beyond its economic strength: this too is the problem and again, hence my book.

Its cultural power is limited by two factors, I would say. The first factor is history. Because of two world wars, people simply don’t know German history in enough detail to recognize what German culture is. The second is language. For example, there is a widespread view that the Germans aren’t funny. But since only 1 per cent of British pupils are fluent in German (as opposed to 25 per cent of German pupils who are fluent in English) how on earth can they possibly know what German wit is when they can’t understand it?

IP: Does it matter that fewer people are learning German as a foreign language today? Can the German genius continue to enrich intellectual life in the West if no one speaks German?

Watson: Of course it matters that people aren’t learning German. It matters aesthetically, economically, politically; you can’t be a proper cosmopolitan without speaking at least one other language.

Because people don’t speak German, they are not aware of the enormous caesura that took place in Germany in 1968, when Germany changed, when the younger generation took on the older generation and really began to complete what Winkler calls “its long road west.” People outside Germany, especially in the Anglophone countries, are aware of the Green movement but have no real idea of how important it is, how much it sets Germany apart.

But Germany is in many ways more comfortable with itself these days than, say, France, on the question of language. While the French fret about the invasion of anglicisms into their language, the Germans have taken a more pragmatic view. For example, since English is incontrovertibly the language of science, some German universities now teach PhD programs in English. This is very self-confident and means that, if the German language doesn’t spread, at least German people will across the intellectual world, especially in science. And the statistics are international: take a look at the recent publication of the leading universities in the world—Germany has more universities in the top 200 than France (and there are still more German-speaking Swiss universities in the top 200). People who matter are aware of these figures.

IP: Is German nationalism a bad thing? And do you feel that Germany has moved beyond its Nazi past?

Watson: I think all nationalism is a bad thing. Now is the time to embrace cosmopolitanism. American pragmatists, like Richard Rorty, are right: we must expand the human community, to make it as inclusive as possible. That is why the mullahs are going against the tide of history.

Of course I feel that Germany has moved beyond its Nazi past—well beyond. As I have written, Germany has embraced the postwar realities more than, say, Britain or France. I am not sure many Britons want to acknowledge or face this fact. You can divide Britons (and other Europeans and Americans) into two: those that have direct dealings with Germany and know all this; and those who don’t know Germany and remain stuck more or less in the past. The very point of my book is that we need to know more about Germany and we need to go beyond the stereotypes. The object of soft power, in my view, is for Germany to confound the expectations which the rest of the world has of her (determined by history) and which she has of herself.

IP: Germany spends less on its military than other European powers such as France and Great Britain. The recent reforms to the Bundeswehr suggest that Germany will continue on this course. Is this model sustainable for Germany?

Watson:  I think Germany will eventually have to expand its military budget but in a context where other Europeans are anyway reducing theirs. In the next ten years or so people who fought in World War II will all be dead, and attitudes to German militarism will soften even more. In any case, as I show in the book, the statistics reveal that Germany in the early 20th century was not the most militaristic country: France and the US were. Two world wars have simply played havoc with knowledge levels and it takes time to go back and clean up.

IP: In the 19th century, Germany’s technical universities were world-renowned. In the early 20th century, Germany boasted some of the world’s most influential philosophers and social scientists. What do you see as Germany’s predominant contribution to the world in the 21st century?

Watson: In the 21st century the German Max Planck institutes will consolidate their growing role in science, in genetics, in biology generally, in physics. In philosophy, people like Axel Honneth will take over from where Habermas leaves off. Habermas is a good case in point. He is probably the best contemporary philosopher—vastly prolific—but is unknown generally in comparison to the pope, with whom he has written a book.

IP: Has Germany played its cards right? Is there anything missing from its cultural approach on the world stage?

Watson: I don’t think Germany has played its cards badly. It could probably do more in the field of popular entertainment, to help spread its soft power. The Berlin Philharmonic comes to London and New York. Is there any way Bayreuth could come? Or a version of the Munich Oktoberfest? Martin Roth has just arrived from Dresden at the V&A in London, but no song and dance has been made. The White Ribbon, The Lives of Others, and Goodbye Lenin went down very well in Britain. More please.

Interview conducted by Colin M. Adams and Henning Hoff.

PETER WATSON is an intellectual historian and the author of several books. His most recent work, The German Genius, was published in 2010.

oops! History should be rewritten!!!

Fashion history needs to be rewritten: 600-year-old bra found in Austrian castle

Fashion history needs to be rewritten: 600-year-old bra found in Austrian castle


Since Adam gave one of his ribs to create Eve, women came with boobs…and with those came bras.
Although most aborigines civilizations never used a bra to hold up their boobs, more developed societies had some sort of accessory for that purpose, but bras were thought to be only 100 year-old.
Discovered on Wednesday by some archeologists from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, in a castle from the Middle Ages, the linen bra –or what is left of it– you see in the photo is the proof that some 600 years ago women wore bras.
The finding has surprised fashion experts who were under the assumption that bras only were invented a little more than a century ago as women abandoned the tight corsets.
Instead it appears that fashion history needs to be re-written since bras came first, followed by corsets and back to bras again.
Archeologists couldn’t believe what they’ve discovered and wanted to carbon date the bra before releasing the news.
“Four linen textiles resemble modern-time bras” with distinct cups and one in particular looks like today’s version, it said, with “two broad shoulder straps and a possible back strap, not preserved but indicated by partially torn edges of the cups onto which it was attached.”
Although what you see seems pretty unattractive and plain, researchers said the bras were intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, suggesting they were also meant to please a suitor.

Die deutsche Seele (Thea Dorn y Richard Wagner)

Thea Dorn

Si algo define al"alma alemana"es precisamente el modo de pensarse a sí misma. La escritora Thea Dorn ha logrado con"El alma alemana"un best seller. El libro explora y analiza nociones y estados de ánimo"típicos alemanes". Exhaustivamente, de la A a la Z.

El Alma Alemana, Thea Dorn y Richard Wagner

Monday, July 30, 2012

Justo Sierra presencia el cuchi cuchi

Vimos luego el cuchi cuchi, la famosa danza del vientre, bailada o expresada, diremos, por una egipcia de grandes ojos urentes, negros como la hoguera del pecado, de gran boca roja, a manera de herida abierta, y espantosamente sensual sobre la dentadura de marfil africano. A compás de un rítmico movimiento de caderas, el vientre desnudo comienza por plegarse en ondas concéntricas y acaba por verdaderas gesticulaciones convulsivas que le dan un siniestro aspecto de mascarón de fauno epiléptico; no he visto nada ni más curioso ni más horrible. A seguida una blondina y enjuta americana se presentó a hacer lo mismo, y a pesar de sus abominables contosrsiones, no logró sino hacer reír; era la caricatura odiosa y repugnante del cuchi cuchi. No, los cabellos rubios no casan sino con el sensualismo inconsciente de Ofelia o con el pecado sentimental de Gretchen, no con este animalismo erótico de las regiones que el desierto lame con su lengua de fuego.
Justo Sierra, En tierra yankee. En el tomo 6 de las Obras completas, UNAM, 1948, p. 174

Justo Sierra presencia el cuchi cuchi [de aquí lo tomé]

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Music! to share!

De nuestro amigo Quinoff & más

[poesía] DEHMEL

Dehmel en 1905Noche transfigurada


Dos personas atraviesan un desolado y frío bosque; la luna les acompaña, y ellos la observan.
La luna pasea por los altos robles;
ninguna nube opaca la luz del cielo, donde se extienden negras ramas.
La voz de una mujer dice:

«Llevo un niño, pero no es tuyo,
camino a tu lado en pecado.
Cometí una grave ofensa contra mí misma.
Creí que ya no podría ser feliz
y aun así sentía el fuerte anhelo
de sentir la plenitud, la felicidad de ser madre.

Así fue como me atreví;
dejé que mi sexo se estremeciera,
tomado por un hombre extraño.
Ahora la vida cobra su venganza:
ahora que a ti, oh, a ti te he encontrado.»

Ella camina con paso torpe.
Levanta la vista; la luna se acerca.
Su mirada sombría se ahoga en la luz.
La voz de un hombre dice:

«Ese niño que has concebido
no debe oprimir tu alma,
¡mira el claro resplandor del universo!
La gloria rodea todas las cosas;
tú vas conmigo a la deriva en un mar frío,
pero un calor peculiar vibra
desde ti hacia mí, y desde mí hacia ti.
Esa llama transfigurará al pequeño,
que darás a luz como si fuese mío;
tú me has traído la gloria,
me has convertido en un niño.»

Él la toma de sus fuertes caderas.
Su aliento se besa en el aire.
Dos personas atraviesan una imponente y clara noche.

Richard Dehmel

«El abrazo», detalle — Gustav Klimt

Este poema inspiró en 1899 la temprana obra maestra homónima de Arnold Schönberg, Verklärte Nacht Opus 4, la más lírica de todas sus obras, escrita en tres semanas luego de conocer a Mathilde von Zemlinsky, su futura esposa. Esta pieza, concebida originalmente como Sexteto de cuerdas en un solo movimiento, fue arreglada por el compositor para orquesta de cuerdas en 1917, revisándola de nuevo en 1943.-


Transfigured Night (Verklärte Nacht) by Richard Dehmel

Two people walk through a bare, cold grove;
The moon races along with them, they look into it.
The moon races over tall oaks,
No cloud obscures the light from the sky,
Into which the black points of the boughs reach.
A woman’s voice speaks:

I’m carrying a child, and not yours,

I walk in sin beside you.
I have committed a great offense against myself.
I no longer believed I could be happy
And yet I had a strong yearning
For something to fill my life, for the joys of
And for duty; so I committed an effrontery,
So, shuddering, I allowed my sex
To be embraced by a strange man,
And, on top of that, I blessed myself for it.
Now life has taken its revenge:
Now I have met you, oh, you.

She walks with a clumsy gait,

She looks up; the moon is racing along.
Her dark gaze is drowned in light.
A man’s voice speaks:

May the child you conceived

Be no burden to your soul;
Just see how brightly the universe is gleaming!
There’s a glow around everything;
You are floating with me on a cold ocean,
But a special warmth flickers
From you into me, from me into you.
It will transfigure the strange man’s child.
You will bear the child for me, as if it were mine;
You have brought the glow into me,
You have made me like a child myself.

He grasps her around her ample hips.

Their breath kisses in the breeze.
Two people walk through the lofty, bright night.


Verklärte Nacht

Zwei Menschen gehn durch kahlen, kalten Hain; 
der Mond läuft mit, sie schaun hinein.
Der Mond läuft über hohe Eichen;
kein Wölkchen trübt das Himmelslicht,
in das die schwarzen Zacken reichen.
Die Stimme eines Weibes spricht:


Dehmel’s ‘Transfigured Night’

By Scott Horton

Gustav Klimt, Der Kuß (The Kiss) (1907-08)

Zwei Menschen gehn durch kahlen, kalten Hain;
der Mond läuft mit, sie schaun hinein.
Der Mond läuft über hohe Eichen;
kein Wölkchen trübt das Himmelslicht,
in das die schwarzen Zacken reichen.
Die Stimme eines Weibes spricht:

Ich trag ein Kind, und nit von Dir,
ich geh in Sünde neben Dir.
Ich hab mich schwer an mir vergangen.
Ich glaubte nicht mehr an ein Glück
und hatte doch ein schwer Verlangen
nach Lebensinhalt, nach Mutterglück
und Pflicht; da hab ich mich erfrecht,
da ließ ich schaudernd mein Geschlecht
von einem fremden Mann umfangen,
und hab mich noch dafür gesegnet.
Nun hat das Leben sich gerächt:
nun bin ich Dir, o Dir, begegnet.

Sie geht mit ungelenkem Schritt.
Sie schaut empor; der Mond läuft mit.
Ihr dunkler Blick ertrinkt in Licht.
Die Stimme eines Mannes spricht:

Das Kind, das Du empfangen hast,
sei Deiner Seele keine Last,
o sieh, wie klar das Weltall schimmert!
Es ist ein Glanz um alles her;
Du treibst mit mir auf kaltem Meer,
doch eine eigne Wärme flimmert
von Dir in mich, von mir in Dich.
Die wird das fremde Kind verklären,
Du wirst es mir, von mir gebären;
Du hast den Glanz in mich gebracht,
Du hast mich selbst zum Kind gemacht.

Er faßt sie um die starken Hüften.
Ihr Atem küßt sich in den Lüften.
Zwei Menschen gehn durch hohe, helle Nacht.

Two figures pass through the bare, cold grove;
the moon accompanies them, they gaze into it.
The moon races above some tall oaks;
No trace of a cloud filters the sky’s light,
into which the dark treetops stretch.
A female voice speaks:

I am carrying a child, and not yours;

I walk in sin beside you.
I have deeply sinned against myself.
I no longer believed in happiness
And yet was full of longing
For a life with meaning, for the joy
And duty of maternity; so I dared
And, quaking, let my sex
Be taken by a stranger,
And was blessed by it.
Now life has taken its revenge,
For now I have met you, yes you.
She takes an awkward step.

She looks up: the moon races alongside her.
Her dark glance is saturated with light.
A male voice speaks:
Let the child you have conceived

Be no trouble to your soul.
How brilliantly the universe shines!
It casts a luminosity on everything;
you float with me upon a cold sea,
but a peculiar warmth glimmers
from you to me, and then from me to you.
Thus is transfigured the child of another man;
You will bear it for me, as my own;
You have brought your luminosity to me,
You have made me a child myself.
He clasps her round her strong hips.

Their kisses mingle breath in the night air.
Two humans pass through the high, clear night.
Richard Dehmel, Verklärte Nacht first published in Weib und Welt (1896)(S.H. transl.)

Listen to Arnold Schönberg’s stunning instrumental realization of this poem in his sextet for two violins, 2 violas and 2 cellos, “Verklärte Nacht,” op. 4.

Richard Dehmel is an important figure of the German Symbolist period, associated with the aesthetics of the Jugendstil, but hardly known in the English-speaking world. His poetry is inventive and pushed the boundaries of the stifling morality of the Wilhelmine period that Nietzsche ridiculed so brilliantly. This may, thanks especially to Schönberg, be his best known work. It was published in a poetry collection from 1896 that also included Venus Consolatrix, whose erotic language was sufficient to rouse the censors. Richard Strauss, Max Reger, Kurt Weill and Alma Mahler-Werfel all also composed his poems as Lieder.
I have always thought that Gustav Klimt’s Der Kuß (The Kiss) (1907-08) was also inspired by this poem. Indeed the ties to it are very powerful. This may be Klimt’s best known painting, executed in an audaciously conceived manner. It does not reproduce well, and if you’re in Vienna, it is worth the trip to the Österreichische Galerie in the Belvedere Palace to see it. The background is a pale but complex metallic field which looks like bronze, with bursts that appear to signify stars, while the field surrounding the couple embracing is dazzling gold leaf. The masculine figure is decorated with austere black-and-white rectangles, while the female figure is covered with patches that look like millefiori Venetian paperweights, a profusion of springtime colors. The dramatic stylization of the surroundings contrasts sharply with the natural, highly erotic posture of the central characters. This seems a very conscious realization of the poem’s mysterious central line: “wie klar das Weltall schimmert!” (”how brilliantly the universe shines!”) The kiss itself is a representation of the poem’s final lines. The kiss is a passage of breath between two souls, an exchange which melds into the night air itself. This is the most enduring and fascinating of the transformations which are the poem’s subject, as well as Klimt’s painting and Schönberg’s strangely passionate music. Dehmel’s, Klimt’s and Schönberg’s works each stand alone and can be appreciated in their own right. Together, however, they make up a Gesamtkunstwerk in which the same thematic material is worked with equal genius in poetry, representational art and music.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Poema descriptivo por Friedrich Hölderlin

Die beschreibende Poësie

Sprüche. Spruchgedicht von Friedrich Hölderlin

Wißt! Apoll ist der Gott der Zeitungsschreiber geworden
Und sein Mann ist, wer ihm treulich das Faktum erzählt.

Aus der Sammlung Gedichte 1784-1800

Poesía Descriptiva

¡Sepan! Apolo se ha convertido en el Dios de los periodistas
Y su favorito es, quien fidedignamente reporte los hechos.

Descriptive Poetry

Known, Apollo has become the God of newspapermen.
And his servant is whoever tells him the fact truly.

Mexicanas fuera de serie

Nahui Ollin -María del Carmen Mondragón Valseca- (1893-1978)

, ,
Mi nombre es como el de todas las cosas: sin principio ni fin, y sin embargo sin aislarme de la totalidad por mi evolución distinta en ese conjunto infinito, las palabras más cercanas a nombrarme son NAHUI-OLLIN. Nombre cosmogónico, la fuerza, el poder de movimiento que irradian luz, vida y fuerza. En azteca, el poder que tiene el sol de mover el conjunto que abarca su sistema, pero, sin embargo hace siglos que existe mi substancia sin nombre alguno va evolucionando y hace siglos y ahora mismo que no tengo nombre y voy marchando sin descanso alguno en un tiempo sin fin y soy en una faz distinta el sin principio ni fin de todas las cosas.
 y entonces renunció, para siempre, a ser María del Carmen Mondragón Valseca.
La mujer que dicen que fue la más bella de su época nació el 8 de julio de 1893 en México pero estudió en Francia, cuando Porfirio Díaz envió a su padre a Europa en una misión. A los 10 años, Carmen escribía rebelde: “Protesto a pesar de mi edad por estar bajo la tutela de mis padres”, cuando pensaba en que le arreglarían un matrimonio.
Carmen, hija del General Mondragón – quién resulto ser uno de los participantes de la Decena Trágica, motivo por el que fue desterrado del país – fue conocida desde siempre como una niña burguesa con un espíritu indomable, con una gran ansiedad por amar y ser amada – aún cuando yo diría idolatrada - .
En 1921, después de una larga estadía en Europa, regresa a México, donde es pionera en el uso de la minifalda – lo cual obviamente le acarrea la censura social – y se mezcla con los círculos culturales más importantes de la época, donde ella no sólo es musa sino también creadora: la poesía y la pintura son sus dos principales formas de expresión, aún cuando varios de sus textos hoy en día no han sido publicados.
A los 20 años se enamora de un cadete del regimiento de su padre, el después pintor Manuel Rodríguez Lozano quién resultaría un fiasco total para ella tanto en lo emocional como en lo intimo: un hombre homosexual que la acusaría durante mucho tiempo de haber asesinado a  su único hijo en uno de sus ataques de locura característicos y con quién en 1913 se casó; el matrimonio fue tormentoso , signado por peleas y la muerte de su único hijo cuando todavía era un bebé; la leyenda dice que la propia Carmen lo ahogó, pero la investigación histórica sostiene que el niño falleció mientras dormía. En 1921 el matrimonio volvió a México; Carmen quiso el divorcio, pero su familia no se lo permitió, no eran épocas de divorcios, pero a Carmen poco le importó.
Conoció a Gerardo Murillo, famoso artista y vulcanólogo mexicano que intervenía en política y juntos se mudaron al ex convento de La Merced, en Ciudad de México. Murillo se cambió su nombre por Dr. Atl (agua en náhuatl) cuando viajaba en barco de Nueva York a París y se desató una tremenda tempestad. Según esa costumbre, el Dr. rebautizó a su amante como Nahui Ollin, que es la fecha que en el calendario azteca significa el movimiento renovador de los ciclos del cosmos.
La relación fue apasionada y escandalosa para su época, incluso comparada con el no menos tempestuoso romance de Diego Rivera y Frida. Nahui era muy celosa y lo demostraba con escenas que el propio Atl se encargaba de difundir:
 “La vida se ha vuelto imposible. Los celos nos torturan. Yo, más dueño de mí mismo, me contengo, pero ella es un vendaval. Esta mañana dos pobres muchachas, que después de abandonar mi consultorio se atrevieron a subir a la azotea para contemplar el panorama de la ciudad, provocaron una furia terrible en Nahui, que ahí estaba. Apenas las vio, se les echó encima. Trató de empujarlas hacia el borde de la cornisa, con la intención de arrojarlas al patio. Me interpuse. Hubo escenas violentas… Cuando subí al gran salón encontré a Nahui dando vueltas como una fiera enjaulada, con los ojos iluminados por relámpagos de rabia. Esa primera tempestad anunciaba el tiempo de lluvias, los truenos y las tormentas y los rayos que habrían de fulminarme”.

Eran los años veinte, y el México macho se escandalizó ante un grupo de mujeres que, aún sin tener derecho a voto, rompían moldes y convenciones: Tina Modotti, Lupe Marín, Lupe Rivas Cacho, Nellie Campobello, María Dolores Asúnsolo, Dolores del Río, Frida Kahlo, Clementina Otero y Antonieta Rivas Mercado.  De todas ellas Nahui Ollin fue la más atrevida, la más libre y rebelde. Pero la sociedad de su época prefirió calificarla como descarada, libertina y perturbada. Nahui prodigó su cuerpo, se retrató desnuda, hablaba sin prejuicios, rompió esquemas. Y la “gente de moral y buenas costumbres”, incapaz de comprender, la consideraba loca.
Ser modelo para los más importantes pintores y fotógrafos de su época; escribir sobre asuntos que en aquellos años eran exclusivos para hombres; practicar con libertad su sexualidad, y deslumbrar constantemente con su belleza y retratos de desnudo causaron verdadero espanto en la sociedad de su época, pero nunca cambiaron su modo de pensar y de vivir.
En 1923, Nahui conoció a los fotógrafos Tina Modotti y Edward Weston; este último realizó los mejores retratos de su carrera con Nahui como modelo.  Nahui Olin compartía largas veladas bohemias junto a Dolores del Río, Guadalupe Marín, Antonieta Rivas Mercado, María Tereza Montoya, Frida Kahlo, Tina Modotti, Lupe Vélez y María Izquierdo,  Xavier Villaurrutia, José Vasconcelos Calderón, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco y David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Ella, mientras tanto, se volvía a enamorar, ya separada del tremendo Atl; en pareja con el pintor y caricaturista Matías Santoyo, partió hacia Hollywood y decidió dejarse fotografiar desnuda. En 1927 escandalizó México con una muestra de sus desnudos para el fotógrafo Antonio Garduño. Pero dos años después, ya estaba fuera de México: se enamoró de un capitán de barco, Eugenio Agacino. Durante un viaje, en 1934, el capitán se intoxicó y falleció en Cuba.
Nahui Ollin fue una artista, por épocas pintora, por épocas escritora o compositora. Pero México la olvidó hasta que en 1992 se comenzó a hacer una catalogación de sus pinturas para una retrospectiva que se concretó en 1993 en el Estudio- Museo Diego Rivera, de la Ciudad de México.
Al igual que Frida se pinta a sí misma una y otra vez. Hay otros temas en sus pinturas, consideradas del estilo naïf , pero ella misma es su tema predilecto.
 “Nahui era de esas personas, como Frida, que se desconocen, que no se encuentran, que no saben quiénes son, que se fotografían y autorretratan para verse a sí mismas.”
Y yo me atrevo a agregar, que pintarse a sí mismas tal vez fue el único modo que encontraron de hacerse eternas…
Andrés Henestrosa

Después de la muerte de Eugenio Agacino, Nahui Olin no volvió a ser la misma. Dedicó menos tiempo a la pintura y más a escribir. Sin embargo, expuso por última vez en 1945.
En los últimos años de su vida, vivió con sus gatos en la casa de la calle General Cano que heredara de sus padres, desempeñándose como maestra de pintura en una escuela primaria y sostenida apenas por una beca que, mes con mes, le daba Bellas Artes. Andaba por la calle vestida con harapos, y decía que era la dueña del sol: cada mañana, lo hacía salir con su mirada, y cada noche lo devolvía al ocaso. Se convirtió en un personaje triste para todos, menos para ella, que seguía orgullosa de su cuerpo y su pasado. Nunca pudo olvidar a Eugenio: hasta su muerte, colgó en su casa una sábana donde había pintado a su amante capitán y dormía abrazada a ella.
Muy enferma pide a sus sobrinas que la trasladen a la recámara donde nació y el 23 de enero de 1978, Carmen Mondragón / Nahui Ollin, cierra por siempre sus bellos y enormes ojos verdes.
Los restos mortales de Carmen Mondragón descansan en el Panteón Español en la Ciudad de México.
“Mi cuerpo y mi espíritu tienen siempre loca sed de esos mundos nuevos que voy buscando sin cesar y de las cosas o los individuos que tienen siempre nuevos rostros bajo la influencia de mi espíritu, es una inquietud creadora que juega con esos mundos que voy creando”.
Nahui Ollin
Afortunadamente, al igual que con Frida Kahlo y Guadalupe Amor,  existe un reciente y renovado interés por su vida y su obra.
“De que Nahui Olin tenía el mar en los ojos no cabe la menor duda. El agua salada se movía dentro de las dos cuencas, y adquiría la placidez del lago o se encrespaba furiosa tormenta verde, ola inmensa, amenazante. Vivir con dos olas del mar dentro de la cabeza no ha de ser fácil”.
Elena Poniatowska

Para calzarme de Carmen Mondragón, Nahui Ollin

Para calzarme
los pies
tengo que
unos zapatos
rojos y negros
que besen
la tierra
con las puntas
que perfeccionen
los contornos
de mis piernas
con unos calzados
rojos y negros
que señalen
el peligro
de ver
mis piernas
de mis faldas
que terminan
en las rodillas
grandes nudos
no desato
más que ante las
miradas de aquel
a quien
le gustan mis rodillas
pies calzados
unos zapatos
Rojos y negros

mis pasos
son tan diferentes
     he inventado
        una música
                 repite mis inquietudes
en mis pies
de rojo
de negro.
que se pueden ver
sin ver
que hay en mi vida
en mis pasos
en mis pies
 Rojo y Negro

El consenso público de Friedrich Hölderlin

¿No es más bella la vida de mi corazón
desde que amo? ¿Por qué me distinguíais más
cuando yo era más arrogante y arisco,
más locuaz y más vacío?

¡Ah! La muchedumbre prefiere lo que se cotiza,
las almas serviles sólo respetan lo violento.
Únicamente creen en lo divino
aquellos que también lo son.


Mnemosyne by Friedrich Holderlin

We are a sign, meaningless
We are painless and have almost
Forgotten speech in exile.
But if there is strife in heaven over mankind
And the moon travels in force, so the sea
Will speak and the rivers must
Find their way. Undoubtedly, though,
There is one, who
Can bring forth change daily. He scarcely needs
The law. And it sounds the leaves and rings the oak trees
By the glaciers. As not everything is possible for
The heavenly ones. That is, mortals almost
Reach into the abyss. Thus it turns, the echo,
With them. Time is
Long, but the truth
Will come to pass.
But what of love? We see
Sunshine on the ground and burnished dust.
And deep with the forest shadow and it blooms
Smoke from the rooftops, in the old crowns
Of towers, peaceful – the signs of day are good, that is,
If an immortal wounds
The soul in answer.
For snow, the abundant,
like flowers, stands signified where
It may, glistening off the green
Alpine meadow, half
There, speaking of crosses, the
Law is the dead at one stage
Along the way, on higher paths
A wanderer moves in wrath,
Knowing from a distance with
The other one, but what is this?
At the fig tree my
Achilles died to me,
And Ajax lies
In the grottoes of the sea,
At the brooks bordering Skamander.
Following the fixed, constant tradition of
Salamis, Ajax died of the temple’s fury
in strange lands.
Yet Patroclus in the king’s armor. And
Many others also died. At Kithairon
Lay Eleutherae, the city of Mnemosyne. There, too, when
God’s mantel was cast off, the one like night then parted
Her locks. Celestials, that is, are
Unwilling, if one had not gathered
His soul together in healing, but he must; in the same way
Suffers the mourner.

Mnemosyne, by Friedrich Hölderlin

Celebration Of Peace by Friedrich Holderlin

The holy, familiar hall, built long ago,
Is aired, and filled with heavenly,
Softly echoing, quietly modulating music.
A cloud of joy sends fragrance
Over the green carpets.  Shining in the
Distance, a splendid row of gold-wreathed
Cups stands, well-ordered, full of ripe fruits.
Tables stand at the sides, rising above
The leveled ground.  For now in the evening
Loving guests have gathered, coming from far.

And with half-shut eye I think I can see
The prince of the festival himself,
Smiling from the day's earnest work.
Though you like to deny your foreign origin,
And even when you lower your eye, tired
From the long crusade — forgotten, lightly shadowed —
And you assume the appearance of an acquaintance,
Still you're recognized by everyone; your superiority
Alone almost forces one to his knees.
Being nothing in your presence, I know
You are not mortal.  A wise person can
Explain a lot, but where a god appears,
There is different clarity.

He isn't of the present, yet doesn't come unannounced;
And one who feared neither flood nor flame
Doesn't surprise us without a reason, now that all is quiet,
And dominion is invisible among spirits and humans.
That is, just now the work become audible,
Long in preparation, from morning to evening.
For the thunderer's echo, the thousand-year storm,
Roars immeasurably down towards rest, resounding
In the depths, while peaceful sounds rise above it.
But you, days of innocence, become dear to us:
Today you bring the festival, beloved ones!
And the spirit flourishes in the evening stillness,
And I must counsel you, friends, to prepare the wreaths
And the food, since now we're like eternal youths,
Even if our hair were silver grey.

There are many I should like to invite, but you,
Who were devoted to mankind in a friendly, yet
Earnest way, and who liked to stay at the well
Under Syrian palms, near the city...  the fields
Of grain rustled in the wind, the coolness drifted
Down from the shaded holy mountain,
And the loyal clouds, your friends,
Cast their shadows around you,
So that your holy, daring radiance shone gently
Through the wilderness upon men, o Youth!
But then a deadly fate enshadowed you
More darkly, terribly and definitively
In the middle of your words.  Thus everything
From heaven passes quickly, but not in vain.

For a god, knowing always the proper measure,
Touches sparingly and just for a moment the homes
Of men — unexpectedly, and no one knows when.
But then something boisterous may appear,
And wildness may come to the holy place from afar.
Grasping about roughly, it touches upon madness,
And fills some intention thereby.
Gratitude doesn't follow the gift
From the gods immediately:
It has to be deeply studied first.
For if the giver hadn't been cautious,
From the blessing of the hearth both
Floor and ceiling would have gone up in flames.

We've received much from the gods.
Fire was handed to us, and the ocean's
Flood and shore.  Much more,
For alien powers have become familiar
To us in a human way.  The stars
Over your head can teach you things,
Although you can't equal them.
Yet of the all-living ones — from whom
Issue much pleasure and song —
One is a calmly powerful son.
Knowing his father, we recognize him,
Now that the high Spirit of the World
Has descended to mankind
To keep the holidays.

He had long become too great to be
The Lord of Time, and his territory
Extended far... when would it
Have exhausted him?  But a god
May once choose mundane life also,
Like mortals, and share their fate.
One law of fate requires that people
Should know each other, so that when
Silence returns, there will also be a language.
Where the spirit is at work, we are present too,
And talk about what is best.  To me, the best
Is when the picture is done, and the artist
Finishes and steps transfigured from his workplace,
The quiet God of Time, and only the reconciling
Law of love extends from here to heaven.

Man has learned much since morning,
For we are a conversation, and we can listen
To one another.  Soon we'll be song.
And the picture of time, which the great spirit unfolds,
Lies as a sign before us, indicating that a covenant
Between himself and others, himself and other powers exists.
Not he alone, but also the unconceived and eternal ones
Are recognizable in the picture,
Just as our mother, the earth, recognizes herself,
And light and air, through the plant kingdom.
But the all-gathering day of the festival
Is the ultimate sign of love, the witness
Of your existence, o holy powers.

The gods aren't revealed in miracles now,
Nor do they remain unseen as during a storm;
Now they are met together as guests,
A holy number, holy in every way,
And present in choruses of song.
And the person they love most,
Their favorite, is here.
Thus I've summoned you to the banquet
Now prepared, you, the unforgettable one,
To the evening of time, o Youth,
To be the Prince of the Festival.
And our race will not sleep
Until all the promised, immortal gods
Are here in our halls
To speak of their heaven.

Lightly breathing winds
Proclaim your arrival;
Valley mists announce you all,
And the earth, still sounding from the storm.
Hope colors the cheeks;
Mother and child
Sit before the house door,
Looking upon the peace.
Few seem to die:
A premonition, sent from the golden light,
Holds the soul back;
A promise retains the eldest.

Now all labors,
The seasoning of life,
Are prepared and completed above.
Everything pleases,
Simple things the most.
The long-awaited
Golden fruit
Has fallen from the ancient tree
After terrible storms,
But then is guarded, like a treasured possession,
By holy Fate with gentle weapons:
This has the shape of the gods.

Like a lioness, Mother,
Nature, you lament,
Since you lost your children.
Your enemy, all-loving one,
Has stolen them from you,
Since you adopted him almost
To be your own son, placing
Gods in the company of satyrs.
Thus you've created much
And buried much,
Because that which you brought
To light too soon, all-powerful one,
Now hates you.
But this too you recognize and accept,
For whatever arouses fear prefers
To rest insensate below
Until its time has come.

Editor notes

Poet's Note: "Please read these pages only if you're feeling kind. Then they won't seem unintelligible, and will certainly prove less offensive. But to those who find my language too unconventional, I confess I can't help it. On a beautiful day almost any kind of song can be listened to, and Nature, where it comes from, will receive it back. The author intends to lay before the public a whole collection of similar pieces, and this is just a sample."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Michael Hamburger about Hölderlin's Diotima

Acerca de Hölderlin: AMANTE LOCO, DAMA MUERTA

Oh, mi Diótima.
¿No es de mi Diótima de quien estáis hablando?
Trece hijos me parió, uno de ellos es Papa,
Sultán el siguiente, el tercero zar de Rusia.
¿Y sabéis qué le pasó?
Loca, es como le fue, loca, loca, loca.

Trece funerales me hicieron cuando morí.
Pero ella no vino a ellos. Encerrada en una torre.
Así son las cosas: Se fue a la vuelta,
al jardín donde se encuentran los amantes,
caminando, hablando juntos. Del otro lado del muro.
No hay nadie. Hasta que ustedes las visitas vienen.
¿Escribirá el cadáver un poema hoy
sobre su dama loca?

Pero te diré un secreto: nos encontramos.
A la vuelta, del otro lado del muro
está siempre nuestro jardín,
descansando, con flores de cada estación.
Vendremos cada uno de una calle oscura
y el sol brilla.
Ella ríe cuando le digo
que es como estar muerto.
Río cuando me da
noticias de nuestros hijos locos,
quienes se han abierto paso en el mundo.

No hay poema hoy, señor.
Vaya a casa. En un sueño verá
cómo se remueven los muertos
hacia la locura. Y parecen olvidar
a sus amados, cada uno en su propia calle oscura.
Como tus amados locos
parecen olvidar sus muertos.
Así son las cosas. No hay nadie.
Oh, mi Diótima.
Esperándome en el jardín.

Michael Hamburger

Versión de Homero Aridjis

Hölderlin's Hyperion SchicksalsLied


¡Vagáis en alta luz
y suelo blando, genios de la gloria!
Las deslumbrantes ráfagas divinas
os son tan leves como
a las cuerdas sagradas
los dedos de la música doncella.

Sin cruz de la fatalidad respiran,
cual infante que duerme, los empíreos;
virginal se conserva
en honesto capullo,
para ellos eterna florescencia,
su porción del Espíritu,
y esas pupilas venturosas
miran con sosegada,
eterna transparencia.

Pero nosotros vamos condenados
a jamás encontrar nuestro reposo,
y la sufrida especie
vacila derrumbándose
a ciegas, una hora
tras la otra,
igual que el agua va cayendo
de peña en peña,
perenne su caer a lo desconocido.


Versión de Jaime García Terrés

Friedrich Hölderlin's Rousseau


Friedrich Hölderlin 

Abruma la estrechez de la jornada humana.
No bien vas, miras y te asombras —ya es de noche;
ahora duerme ahí donde a una distancia
innumerable pasan los años de los pueblos.

Habrá quien pueda ver más allá de su tiempo,
si un dios le muestra el aire libre; tú permaneces
nostálgico a la orilla: indignando a los tuyos,
por ser sombra que nunca les dará su amor.

Y aquellos que nombraste y prometiste, ¿dónde
andarán esos nuevos amigos cuya mano
te conforte, por qué rumbos atenderán,
al menos una vez, tu verbo solitario?

¡Pobre hombre! Ni el eco te responde en la sala.
Como los insepultos caminas errabundo
en busca de reposo, pero nadie sabrá
decirte cuál sería tu sendero seguro.

¡Alégrate! El árbol ha salido
de la tierra nativa, pero sus amorosos
y juveniles brazos lo derraman,
y acaba melancólico bajando la cabeza.

La vida lo desborda, el infinito
lo rodea, bien que nada comprenda,
aunque en su carne moran y a su presente fl uye
cálido y efi caz todo su fruto.

¡Has vivido! —Sí, también a tu rostro
de lejos el sol lo alumbra de júbilo,
con rayos que provienen de superiores épocas.
Los heraldos hallaron por fi n tu corazón.

Los has oído, pues, has comprendido
la voz del extranjero, descifrando su alma.
A quien entiende basta la seña, y son las señas
desde lejanas eras el habla de los dioses.

¡Maravilloso! Es como si hubiera siempre
conocido la mente humana lo que nace
y lo que traza el hondo estilo de la vida…

Al primer signo sabe cuanto haya de cumplirse,
y osado espíritu, imitando al águila
que se anticipa al tranco de la borrasca,
vuela delante de sus próximos dioses, profetizándolos.

Versión de Jaime García Terrés
Recuperado por la Gaceta del Fondo de Cultura Económica, julio de 2012