Saturday 8 August 2009


“I have always been amazed at the way an ordinary observer lends so much more credence and attaches so much more importance to waking events than to those occurring in dreams... Man is above all the plaything of his memory.” - Andre Breton, "Manifesto of Surrealism," 1924

We went to the City today as it was a fine day, although a little windy and cold. Nevertheless it was good to get out of the house and see some sun. I was rather pleased as I had put some work for my book in the mail yesterday and that was the last of a whole lot of work that I had been doing for the past few weeks. A very relaxing day, therefore today with a walk in the sun, at Federation Square, and then a leisurely amble to the Southbank Sunday Market by the Yarra River and finally ending up to the National Gallery of Victoria where “Liquid Desire”, the Dalí exhibition is being held.

It is appropriate then to devote Art Sunday to the greatest of the Surrealist painters, Salvador Dalí. To give him his full name, Salvador Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, 1st Marquis of Púbol, was born at 8:45 am, May 11, 1904 in the small agricultural town of Figueres, Catalonia Spain, near the French border. The son of a prosperous notary, Dalí spent his boyhood in Figueres and at the family's summer home in the coastal fishing village of Cadaqués where his parents built his first studio. As an adult, he made his home with his wife Gala in nearby Port Lligat. Many of his paintings reflect his love of this area of Spain.

The young Dalí attended the San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. Early recognition of Dalí's talent came with his first one-man show in Barcelona in 1925. He became internationally known when three of his paintings, including The Basket of Bread (now in the Museum's collection), were shown in the third annual Carnegie International Exhibition in Pittsburgh in 1928. The following year, Dalí held his first one-man show in Paris. He also joined the surrealists, led by former Dadaist Andre Breton. That year, Dalí met Gala Eluard when she visited him in Cadaqués with her husband, poet Paul Eluard. She became Dalí's lover, muse, business manager, and chief inspiration.

Dalí soon became a leader of the Surrealist Movement. His painting, “The Persistence of Memory”, with the soft or melting watches is still one of the best-known surrealist works (see poster in the picture above). But as the war approached, the apolitical Dalí clashed with the Surrealists and was “expelled” from the surrealist group during a "trial" in 1934. He did, however, exhibit works in international surrealist exhibitions throughout the decade but by 1940, Dalí was moving into a new type of painting with a preoccupation with science and religion.

Dalí and Gala escaped from Europe during World War II, spending 1940-48 in the United States. These were very important years for the artist. The Museum of Modern Art in New York gave Dalí his first major retrospective exhibit in 1941. This was followed in 1942 by the publication of Dalí's autobiography, “The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí”. As Dalí moved away from Surrealism and into his classic period, he began his series of 19 large canvases, many concerning scientific, historical or religious themes. Among the best known of these works are “The Hallucinogenic Toreador”, “The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus”, and “The Sacrament of the Last Supper”.

In 1974, Dalí opened the Teatro Museo in Figueres, Spain. This was followed by retrospectives in Paris and London at the end of the decade. After the death of his wife, Gala in 1982, Dalí's health began to fail. It deteriorated further after he was burned in a fire in his home in Puból in 1984. Two years later, a pace-maker was implanted. Much of this part of his life was spent in seclusion, first in Puból and later in his apartments at Torre Galatea, adjacent to the Teatro Museo. Salvador Dalí died on January 23, 1989 in Figueres from heart failure with respiratory complications.

As an artist, Dalí was not limited to a particular style or media. The body of his work, from early impressionist paintings through his transitional surrealist works, and into his classical period, reveals a constantly growing and evolving artist. Dalí worked in all media, leaving behind a wealth of oils, watercolors, drawings, graphics, and sculptures, films, photographs, performance pieces, jewels and objects of all descriptions. As important, he left for posterity the permission to explore all aspects of one’s own life and to give them artistic expression.

Whether working from pure inspiration or on a commissioned illustration, Dalí's matchless insight and symbolic complexity are apparent. Above all, Dalí was a superb draughtsman. His excellence as a creative artist will always set a standard for the art of the twentieth century.


“Who, being loved, is poor?” - Oscar Wilde

For Song Saturday tonight, a Greek song by the great composer Manos Hadjidakis (1925-1994). This song has been sung by many famous singers, both Greek and foreigners. In this contemporary recording, the singers are Dimitra Galani and Alkinoos Ioannidis. The lyrics are a combination of Greek and English:

Μην τον ρωτάς τον ουρανό

Λόγο στο λόγο και ξεχαστηκάμε
Μας πήρε ο πόνος και νυχτωθήκαμε
Σβήσε το δάκρυ με το μαντήλι σου
Να πιω τον ήλιο από τα χείλη σου

Μην τον ρώτας τον ουρανό
Το σύννεφο και το φεγγάρι.
Το βλέμμα σου το σκοτεινό
Κάτι απ’ τη νύχτα έχει πάρει.

Ότι μας βρήκε κι ότι μας λύπησε
Σαν το μαχαίρι κρυφά μας χτύπησε.
Κρύψε το δάκρυ με το μαντήλι σου
Να πιω τον ήλιο από τα χείλη σου

Don’t ask the Sky

All alone am I, ever since your goodbye
All alone, with just a bit of my heart
People all around, but I don't hear a sound
Just a lonely beating of my heart.

We talked and talked and lost the sense of time
Pain carried us away and night fell
Wipe the tear with your handkerchief
So I can drink the sun from your lips.

Do not ask the sky
Nor the cloud and the moon
Your darkling glance
Has taken something from the night.

What came our way and filled us with sorrow,
Like a knife that struck us secretly.
Hide the tear with your handkerchief
So I can drink the sun from your lips.

Friday 7 August 2009


“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

I don’t often drink spirits or cocktails, but sometimes, like this evening one definitely hits the spot. It has been a very busy and difficult week and after a rather tiring but successful day at work, I wanted a little pick-me-up on arriving home. Our lemon tree was full of ripe luscious lemons. So, what better than the old classic:

1 lemon, juiced
2 parts whisky
1/2 tablespoonful sugar
ice cubes
Soda water to mix

In a cocktail shaker mix the ice cubes, lemon juice, sugar and whisky until a frost forms. Pour into a glass and add a lemon twist as a garnish. Top up with soda water.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday 6 August 2009


“The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” - Omar Bradley

August 6th marks the day of a sad anniversary, that of the destruction of Hiroshima in Japan, after the first atomic bomb was dropped there by US war planes towards the end of World War II, at 8:15 am on Monday August 6th, 1945. This was on order of President Truman who was reacting to the Showa Regime ignoring his ultimatum. The bomb killed about 140,000 people in Hiroshima from injuries or the combined effects of flash burns, trauma, and radiation burns, compounded by illness, malnutrition and radiation sickness. In survivors, leukaemia and solid cancers occurred with much greater incidence than in the general population and this is attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs. The majority of the dead were civilians. Including many women and children. A second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki on August 9th killing 80,000 people.

The survivors of the bombings are called hibakusha (“explosion-affected people”). The shock and great suffering in the wake of the bombings caused Japan to seek the abolition of nuclear weapons from the world ever since, putting in place one of the world’s most committed and extensive non-nuclear policies. More than 400,000 hibakusha (258,310 in Hiroshima and 145,984 in Nagasaki) are recorded in Japan.

This is a day to:
• Remember those who died and were wounded by the bombing of Hiroshima
• Remember all people of every nation who died and were wounded during World War II
• Assert the right of everyone on earth to live a life free from the fear of war
• Work for a world free from nuclear weapons
• Work to adopt peaceful use of nuclear power.

nuclear age |ˈn(y)oōklēər; āj| noun
The period in history usually considered to have begun with the first use of the atomic bomb in 1945. It is characterised by nuclear energy as a military, industrial, and sociopolitical factor. Also called “atomic age”.
ORIGIN: Early 18th century: From Latin, literally ‘kernel, inner part,’ diminutive of nux, nuc- ‘nut’ and, Middle English: From Old French, based on Latin aetas, aetat-, from aevum ‘age, era.’
USAGE: A variant pronunciation, |ˈn(y)oōkyələr|, has been used by many (even the famous…), but is widely regarded as unacceptable…

Jacqui BB is hosting Word Thursday.

Tuesday 4 August 2009


“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This poem is not about delusions of grandeur or a superiority complex. Rather, it is about objectivity. It highlights the way that we should sometimes distance ourselves from our familiar surroundings and look objectively at them without any trace of involvement or immersion in the minutiae. The higher one flies, the less details one sees and the bigger picture emerges. We can distance ourselves from our surroundings and while far away we can see the totality rather the trifling and isolated fine features. The problem of course is that by distancing ourselves too much we can become self-absorbed, remote, haughty – if thrown back into the middle of the fray of our everyday life we may suffer, as the real world with all its distractions and details that are blown out of proportion, will suddenly impinge on us with the force of hitting the ground at great speed…

The Dream

Mercury-heavy sleep
Rolls over my eyelids
And closes them fast
Like drawn window shutters.

I’m free as an eagle soaring
High up in the cerulean skies;
Flying over oceans,
Gliding effortlessly over fields.

Rivers below me, flowing,
The crowds pullulate:
Liars, cheats, schemers,
Innocents, gullible fools.

Politicians skilled, artful orators,
Speak and beguile the masses,
Who like sleepwalkers follow
With their dreams betrayed.

I fly high up into the aether
Indifferent to it all,
Laughing with the puny,
Pathetic play-acting.

From afar all is manifest,
All faults and falsities displayed.
I touch the purity of the stars,
The moon promises me white roses.

My wings carry me ever upwards,
The clouds below me,
The wind behind me,
As it cannot catch up with me,

Until the Sun-King rises,
And robs me of my wings.
And here I am, as I awaken,
Falling back to earth…

Jacqui BB hosts Poetry Wednesday. Please visit her blog for a bag full of verse!


“How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness? One man must not kill. If he does, it is murder... But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is not murder. It is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take?” – Adin Ballou

We have been shocked today by the news that several arrests have been made in several locations around Melbourne in connection with a terrorist plot where suicide bombers would have made strikes against Australian military targets. This is a chilling story and timely reminder of how our world and our society has changed over the last few decades.

Only a few years ago, if someone had said that we would become a target of terrorists in Australia, he would have been ridiculed. We live in a country where political stability and democratic values are uppermost, where people from all over the world have been welcomed and their culture has been respected. A place where they are able to practice their different religions without fear of persecution and where they have found refuge. The state provides support in terms of language services, social worker access, family support.

Now we have Australian citizens (who have taken an oath of allegiance to this country and the values it upholds), strike at the very foundations of its political system. I do not care where someone comes from, what colour their skin is, what language they speak or what their politics are. If they have chosen to live in this country, if they have come here and have taken an oath of allegiance in a citizenship ceremony, then they must obey the laws and treat the state with the same respect it treats them. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you…

The disgusting thing about this case is the lawyer defending these scum had the indecency to say that his clients’ rights should be respected! As if they were going to respect the rights of the people they were planning to cold-bloodedly murder! The truth of the matter is that their rights will be respected because this is what this country stands for. We shall give them a fair trial, we shall provide legal aid to them and even if they are found guilty, we shall put them in a gaol that is sanitary, clean, provides good food and humane treatment. In other places they would have been shot by a firing squad.

The other frightening thing that came out of the preliminary court hearing is that these men (against whom substantial incriminating evidence has been amassed) are making themselves martyrs. They are hiding like the cowards they are behind the shield of religion and in their bloody mindlessness they are citing an adjuration of a “fatwa” – as if this makes the mass murder of innocent people right. There is no major religion that says in its holy books “thou shalt kill”. All such inunctions are the concoctions of power hungry politicians in cahoots with corrupt and radical clerics maddened by fundamentalist catechism.

Any civilised, rational, human being cannot tolerate or condone violence, much less terrorist acts where innocents victims are annihilated in a sacrifice that is meant to act as a lever in achieving some crazy aim of world domination. Extreme right resembles extreme left; fascism is indistinguishable from communism. A thin line divides patriotism and nationalism, while religious fundamentalism is identical with all brands of god believed in. Some of the worse crimes in history have been committed in the name of religion and Christians are as much to blame as Moslems, Hindus as much Jews.

Stop terrorism, stop racism, stop religionism, stop this madness that is consuming our world with hate, terror, insanity of the highest order!

Monday 3 August 2009


“The basic fact about human existence is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not so much a war as an endless standing in line.” - H.L. Mencken

We watched the 2004 Woody Allen film “Melinda & Melinda” at the weekend. Woody Allen has made some very good films in the past and some of them are quite memorable and witty. This particular film was an experiment and its thesis was whether life was quintessentially a tragedy or a comedy. Four friends at a restaurant discuss this and the two most vocal of them are directors, one specialising in comedy the other in tragedy. When a simple situation is given to them by one of the other people at the restaurant, they both argue their case that this situation is either tragedic or comedic. The simple situation involves Melinda, a young woman who gate crashes a dinner party in New York.

The film is essentially two stories involving Melinda 1 and Melinda 2 (both played by Radha Mitchell). One of them is a comedy (supposedly) and the other being a tragedy (ostensibly). It is not unlike the 1991 film “He Said, She Said” in some ways, but the supporting cast around Melinda are different (makes sense and helps differentiate the stories, even for dummies). The result is stilted, boring, pretentious, self-conscious drivel. The characters are unappealing and even Will Ferrell (“being” Woody Allen in one of the stories) cannot save the film. I was really turned off by the plot, the uninspired direction, the thin story line and the lack of differentiation between tragedy and comedy. The whole film was (if can compare it to food) like undressed, overcooked, boiled cabbage – not fresh.

I think Allen was trying to recreate what he did with his 1989 film “Crimes and Misdemeanors”. However, whereas the earlier film is vintage Woody Allen and is tragicomic in the best sense of the word, the two Melindas flop. The people depicted in it were unappealing, degenerate, self-centred twerps that I would not give the time of day to. Even some of the pathetic ones amongst them were not pitiable, but rather irritating. Maybe my expectations were high, being a Woody Allen film, but this was Tripe with a capital T. Who cared what happened to these people and when things went wrong for them, there was no empathy or sympathy. It was a grossly disappointing movie.

Am I too scathing with my criticism, do you think? I think not. I am getting to that stage of my life where my time is becoming increasingly precious. I will not abide having my time wasted by self-indulgent twaddle that is being created by a writer-director whose use by date is well and truly over. See this film at your peril.

Dangerous Meredith has also blogged about movies, so hop along to her blog for some more reviews.