Our imagination flies…

we are its shadow on the earth.

(Vladimir Nabokov)

There she is. Little and fragile, on her blue dress, as blue as her eyes. It is cloudy, yet she is sitting on a bench at the park, watching the world around: the playground, the trees, the people passing by… Some butterflies start flitting around her, inviting her to play with them. Looking a little bit sad, she doesn’t follow the little creatures. Instead, she picks a glossy paper from her school case and folds it into another butterfly, this one bright and blue, to swing it among its imaginary friends.

Suddenly, a naughty gust of wind seizes her butterfly away, high above, blowing her illusion to the unreachable tree tops. The sun comes through the foliage, casting the shadows of the world. She sees herself cast on the ground and smiles: her long, long legs would now allow her to catch her butterfly. And so the story goes…

How determining can reality be, and how can fantasy unleash an unexpected freedom? Can a fragile world of lights and shadows show us more than a silhouette drawn against the sunlight?

A shadow of Blue”  |  Written and directed by Carlos Lascano  (Vimeo)

From the age of seven, everything I felt in connection with a rectangle of framed sunlight was dominated by a single passion. If my first glance of the morning was for the sun, my first thought was for the butterflies it would engender.

(Vladimir Nabokov in “Speak, Memory”)

The life and work of the novelist Vladimir Nabokov referenced many symbols, none so much as the butterfly. Butterflies prompted Nabokov’s travels across the United States, exposing him to the culture and physical environment that he would transform into his best-known novel, Lolita. Butterflies motivated his parallel career in science, culminating in a then-ignored evolutionary hypothesis, which would be vindicated 34 years after his death using the tools of modern genetic analysis. And it was the butterfly around which some of Nabokov’s fondest childhood memories revolved.

Nabokov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to an aristocratic family, and spent much of his childhood at the family’s country estate in Vyra, 40 miles outside of the city. The Nabokovs were forced to flee Russia in 1919 in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution. After moving between England, Germany, and France, he came to the United States, returning for the final years of his life to Switzerland, where he died in 1977. Nabokov rued the loss of Vyra, and called it a “break with [his] destiny.”

Lepidoptera and Nabokov’s childhood home were inseparable to him, an idea he explored in his letters and his science. Especially in his autobiography, Speak, Memory (1951, book preview), he identifies Vyra as the place where his love for butterflies began. In this book Nabokov recalls the “original event” of his “collecting life” when he made his first butterfly capture at age seven. His governess had tried to kill the insect by locking it up in a wardrobe overnight. In the morning, the persistent butterfly flew out and through the window. Nabokov, recalling this event five decades later, projects himself back into his seven-year-old self, and imagines the butterfly soaring far away — eventually to America.

We all have such fateful objects — it may be a recurrent landscape in one case, a number in another — carefully chosen by the gods to attract events of specific significance for us: here shall John always stumble; there shall Jane’s heart always break.

(Vladimir Nabokov in “Lolita”)

After this event, Nabokov’s curiosity became an obsession. When he was eight years old, he brought a butterfly to his father who had been imprisoned for political activities. After his family escaped from the bolsheviks in 1917 going to Crimea, he studied butterflies to ward off homesickness. When he fled the Nazis to the United States in 1940, he took the job of Curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), where he spent his time sorting and mounting butterflies for up to 14 hours a day, and collecting butterflies around the country. Nabokov eventually published 18 science papers in the field of lepidoptery, which he pursued alongside his full-time careers as a novelist and professor of Russian literature.

His most significant work there focused on the Polyommatus, part of a butterfly group colloquially known as the blues and found in higher altitudes such as the South American Andes, and also in the western U.S. A classical taxonomist, Nabokov synthesized observations based on roughly 120 specimens from MCZ’s collection, and others borrowed from various museums. In 1945, he developed a theory on butterfly evolution, based on his examination of the Polyommatus blues, affirming that they had been journeying in five waves from Asia over the Bering Strait south into Chile before going north to the New World. Although his theories were dismissed by contemporary lepidopterists, in 2011 the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London announced that after using gene-sequencing technology it had been confirmed that Nabokov was completely right in his theory.

Today, Nabokov is seen as a substantial scientist, affording a new window onto his literary work. His lepidoptery is seen as one motivation for his writing, rather than as a distraction. Yet Nabokov did not say much about the connection. He commented obliquely in an interview that there “is a sort of merging between the two things”. But it is a fusion of art and science —- in particular his search for alpine butterflies of the sort that reminded him of Vyra -— that characterize his travels to the American Rockies in the 1940s and 1950s. As Brian Boyd writes in his introduction to Nabokov’s Butterflies, it was during his time in the U.S. that Nabokov “intensified his desire to explore entomology within his art”.

Although I am capable, through long dabbling in blue magic, of imitating any prose in the world (but singularly enough not verse — I am a miserable rhymester), I do not consider myself a true artist, save in one matter: I can do what only a true artist can do — pounce upon the forgotten butterfly of revelation, wean myself abruptly from the habit of things, see the web of the world, and the warp and the weft of that web.

(Vladimir Nabokov in “Pale Fire”)

Butterflies bookend Nabokov’s life. They were so entwined with his novel that Nabokov celebrated an especially important find — discovering the first known female of Lycaeides sublivens above Telluride (Colo) in the summer of 1951 — by making the town the site of Lolita’s final scene. Also, he wrote himself into the screenplay of Stanley Kubrick’s film version of Lolita  [trailer] as a whimsical collector to whom Humbert and Lolita turn for driving directions, the radiator grill of their car plastered with dead butterflies. The part was never filmed.

Even when the book made him wealthy, Nabokov never bought a house, and lived his final years in a hotel in Switzerland, where he moved in 1961. He explained in an interview that “nothing short of a replica of [his] childhood surroundings would have satisfied [him]… So why trouble with hopeless approximations?” Ensconced in the Swiss Alps, Nabokov’s life wound down while he pursued his great passion. Out hunting for butterflies one day, he fell twice trying to retrieve his dropped net. A cable car operator observed a man lying down but didn’t stop, saying later that he saw him laughing and didn’t think he needed help. Nabokov remained unable to get up and was still there when the tour bus drove by 2.5 hours later. Greatly weakened by the fall, he never recovered, confiding to his son that a “certain butterfly was already on the wing,” and that he would not be able to pursue it.

Today it is possible to trace the legacy of the writer and scientist in the motion and migration of the butterflies he studied. Nabokov once wrote that, had he not left Russia, he might have spent his life entirely on lepidoptery, and not fiction. So, at heart, was Nabokov a scientist or an artist? Asked that question once, he expressed puzzlement: “There can be no science without fancy,” he replied “no art without facts.

(Excerpts from Speak, Butterfly, by Mary Ellen Hannibal – December 19, 2013)

I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. And the highest enjoyment of timelessness — in a landscape selected at random — is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants. This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love. A sense of oneness with sun and stone. A thrill of gratitude to whom it may concern — to the contrapuntal genius of human fate or to tender ghosts humoring a lucky mortal.

(Vladimir Nabokov)


Posted by: Jussara (segunda, 22h40)

Algumas pessoas conseguem ser uma exceção em relação ao medo da morte? Ou será apenas um processo de transferência porque se está focando a morte de outros e não a própria? Difícil dizer, mas o projeto dessa moça é bizarro e interessante ao mesmo tempo. De certa forma, ela está tentando preservar a memória dessas vidas, talvez como uma forma de preservar a própria lembrança das pessoas amadas que se foram. Não deixa de ser uma exceção alguém que está interessada em preservar “marcas” de morte… Ela diz que gostaria que as pessoas se questionassem não só sobre suas vidas, mas sobre a própria mortalidade. Numa cultura que faz de tudo para tirar a morte do campo de visão, isso é bem difícil, não?

Ela termina dizendo que mesmo na tragédia há alguma beleza. Dependendo de quem está olhando, pode até ser.

Posted by: CAROL  (quinta, 05h56)

There’s no place like home. It’s where we live, work and dream. It’s our sanctuary and our refuge. We can love them or hate them. It can be just for the night or for the rest of our lives. But whoever we may be, we all have a place we call home.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is a series of short films that explore the idea of home; what makes them, how they represent us, why we need them.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is produced and directed by Ben Wu and David Usui, of Lost & Found Films.

Other projects HERE

Posted by: CAROL

Minhas deliciosas férias acabaram e estou de volta para substituir minha querida amiga JUJU, que não pode escrever nada além de sua dissertação de mestrado até março. Ela não consegue ficar sem dizer nada na net, pelo que percebi ontem ao visitar o twitter...rsrsrs… mas acho que lá é somente uma forma de desabafar, de vem em quando, e bem rápido!

Só pra Juju: Aliás, que ataque de “fofoqueira de celebridades” foi aquele? …hahaha… Até tu, Brutus! … Brincadeirinha, sei que a cabeça está cheia de “filosofices, psicanalices, antropologices” e demais “ices” que eu possa xingar neste meu ataque linguístico aos assuntos que ocupam teu pensamento. Para desabafar, só falando de “bobagens” como o vestido verde da Angelina “que raiva dessa mulher” Jolie… 😉

Bom, mas agora “estou aqui” de novo e tentarei postar algumas coisas interessantes que encontrar ao longo do dia. Não que a gente ache que tem leitores e seguidores do blog. Não temos! É mais o costume de falar sozinha mesmo que invade a vida virtual…haha

Este meu primeiro post de janeiro é para a Juju, porque sei que ela vai gostar desta história… Livros são sua paixão, afinal!

Coragem no trabalho, amiga! Vai em frente, apesar de tudo (as adversidades externas são muitas, eu sei). Torço por você e, agora, mais de pertinho…rsrs… na mesma cidade calorenta e abafada!

Beijos, CAROL

PS:  Mal entrei “nesta estufa” de cidade e já morri de saudade do frio acima do trópico de câncer! 

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Uma coleção a partir do lixo

(fonte: Blog da CULTURA – autoria: Kelly de Souza)

Seu nome é José Alberto Gutiérrez. Todos os dias ele dirige um caminhão de lixo em Bogotá, e com seus ajudantes despeja grandes latas no caminhão. No meio das latas existem caixas e dentro das caixas José, de repente, encontra um exemplar de Anna Karenina, de Tolstói. Ao remexer melhor a caixa encontra outros livros, que retira do caminhão e os leva para sua casa. No dia seguinte, uma nova jornada e José encontra, em outro endereço, uma outra lata de lixo, uma outra caixa e outros livros. Ele já reconhece facilmente esse tipo de “entulho”, e novamente os leva para casa.  “Então comecei a perceber que os cidadãos de Bogotá costumam livrar-se dos livros que não querem e os jogam no lixo”, explica José.

Convidado especial da Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara, México, José falou sobre os mais de 12 mil livros (aproximadamente cinco bibliotecas) que conseguiu juntar desde 2000.  Segundo o jornalClarin, que cobriu o evento, o catador de lixo, digo, de livros, parecia estar um pouco desconfortável na cadeira que já havia sido ocupada no evento pelo autor brasileiro Paulo Lins (Cidade de Deus), ou por Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, autor de Diego e Frida (2010) e Nobel da Literatura em 2008, entre outros. José sentou-se com humildade, pediu uma simples Coca-Cola ao garçom, e ficou constrangido com os fotógrafos. Não está acostumado a nada disso, e ficou embaraçado com os aplausos na entrevista, onde explicou como surgiu a ideia de encher o primeiro piso de sua casa com livros encontrados pelos lixos da cidade.

“Minha mãe lia para mim, nos acostumou a ler. Não eram muitos os livros que tínhamos, eram como folhetos de estudo onde havia histórias, fabulas… e todos esses continhos me enriqueceram. Quando eu já era adolescente havia em Bogotá muitos livreiros de rua, então comecei a comprar livros, e aos 13 anos, mais ou menos, comprei a “Odisseia”, de Homero. Fiquei apaixonado pela mitologia”, ressaltou José. A vida foi passando, a coleção foi aumentando e os clientes da sua esposa (costureira) viam aquela imensa biblioteca. Alguns pediam livros de escola emprestados para seus filhos.

José percebeu que os livros que eram jogados fora, que estavam no lixo, não estavam sujos ou estragados. Pelo contrário. As pessoas quando têm suas salas e quartos carregados de “recuerdos”, ou livros, se desfazem deles com respeito e os colocam em caixas separadas, não juntando ao lixo perecível. Assim, em 2000, ele e sua mulher decidiram montar uma biblioteca. “Iniciamos numa sala grande, conseguimos estantes e mesas, os vizinhos vinham visitar e levavam livros emprestados. Montamos um catálogo das pessoas, e estas começaram a fazer também doações, e mais livros foram chegando… e começaram a surgir os Círculos de Leitura, as oficinas… e nos demos conta que o bairro havia ficado pequeno e fomos explorar outras regiões de Bogotá, e outras 3 bibliotecas foram instaladas”. Uma delas está localizada na zona rural, na casa de uma família campestre e a biblioteca é manejada por uma garota de 12 anos.

José não recebe qualquer ajuda oficial, embora as autoridades conheçam seu projeto. Não existem subsídios, apoios financeiros e ele segue sozinho mantendo seu caminhão, indo todas as noites “pescar tesouros” nos lixos da cidade. Milhares de livros devem ser jogados fora todos os dias em São Paulo, Rio, Belo Horizonte e em quase todas as grandes cidades do país, assim como em outras metrópoles do mundo. Centenas de bibliotecas poderiam talvez ser instaladas só com esse material, esse lixo, esse lixo sagrado que é o livro descartado. Numa das salas de José, logo na entrada, escrito na parede, está um dos pensamentos mais dignos de Jorge Luis Borges, onde ele imagina que o Paraíso é como uma grande biblioteca. É lá que mora José Alberto Gutiérrez, o catador de livros.