One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Tiergarten by Marcio Cabral de Moura
Tiergarten, a photo by Marcio Cabral de Moura on Flickr.

Tiergarten im Nebel

Tiergarten im Nebel by Photodendron
Tiergarten im Nebel, a photo by Photodendron on Flickr.


tiergarten by frado76
tiergarten, a photo by frado76 on Flickr.

Tiergarten (literally "animal garden" and Tier is cognate to our "deer"): the largest urban park in Berlin. The large column (golden Victoria on top) is the Siegessaule ("Victory Column"), which commemorates a series of Prussian victories. 


From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

None of these reasons, however, can hold out to the end: they are but pretexts, ghosts. Speak, F., let me get near these ghosts. What you said in the Tiergarten about your inadequate affection for me may have been true then, and may still be true; but other things were not true, as has now become apparent, at least your silence was not true. Now at last, F., do try to see what I am, and what I have become through my love for you. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Banality of Evil

Phrase coined by Arendt re Eichmann.


Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

In her reporting of the 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial for The New Yorker, which evolved into Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), she coined the phrase "the banality of evil" to describe Eichmann. She raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of thoughtlessness, a tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without a critical evaluation of the consequences of their actions and inaction. She was sharply critical of the way the trial was conducted in Israel. She also was critical of the way that some Jewish leaders, notably M. C. Rumkowski, acted during the Holocaust. This caused a considerable controversy and even animosity toward Arendt in the Jewish community. Her friend Gershom Scholem, a major scholar of Jewish mysticism, broke off relations with her. Arendt was criticized by many Jewish public figures, who charged her with coldness and lack of sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust.
Due to this lingering criticism, her book has only recently been translated into Hebrew. Arendt ended the book by writing:
Just as you [Eichmann] supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.[citation needed]


Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975)

Johanna[1] "Hannah" Arendt (14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-American political theorist. Though often described as a philosopher, she rejected that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular" and instead described herself as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that "men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world."[2] Her works deal with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. The Hannah Arendt Prize is named in her honour.

Life and career

Arendt was born into a secular family of German Jews in Linden (present-day Hanover), the daughter of Martha (née Cohn) and Paul Arendt.[3] She grew up in Königsberg (renamed Kaliningrad and annexed to the Soviet Union in 1946) and Berlin. At the University of Marburg, she studied philosophy with Martin Heidegger.

According to Hans Jonas, her only German-Jewish classmate, Arendt embarked on a long and stormy romantic relationship with Heidegger, for which she later was criticized due to Heidegger's support for the Nazi Party when he was rector at the University of Freiburg.

In the wake of one of their breakups, Arendt moved to Heidelberg, where she wrote her dissertation under the existentialist philosopher-psychologist Karl Jaspers on the concept of love in the thought of Saint Augustine. In 1929, in Berlin, she married Günther Stern, later known as Günther Anders; they divorced in 1937. The dissertation was published in 1929. Although an agnostic,[4] Arendt was prevented from "habilitating" – a prerequisite for teaching in German universities–because she was Jewish. She researched anti-Semitism for some time before being interrogated[when?] by the Gestapo.
In 1933, Arendt fled Germany for Paris, where she befriended the Marxist literary critic and philosopher, Walter Benjamin, her first husband's cousin. While in France, she worked to support and aid Jewish refugees. In 1937, she was stripped of her German citizenship. In 1940, she married the German poet and Marxist philosopher Heinrich Blücher, a former member of the Communist Party. Later that year, after the German military occupation of northern France, the Vichy regime began deportation of Jews to Nazi concentration camps in the unoccupied south of France, and she was interned in Camp Gurs as an "enemy alien". Arendt was able to escape after a few weeks and left France in 1941 with her husband and her mother to the United States. They relied on visas illegally issued by the American diplomat Hiram Bingham, who aided roughly 2,500 Jewish refugees in this way. Varian Fry, another American humanitarian, paid for their travel and helped obtain the visas. Upon arriving in New York, Arendt became active in the German-Jewish community. From 1941–45, she wrote a column for the German-language Jewish newspaper, Aufbau. From 1944, she directed research for the Commission of European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction and traveled frequently to Germany in this capacity.[5]

After World War II, she returned to Germany and worked for Youth Aliyah, a Zionist organization, which saved thousands of children from the Holocaust and settled them in the British Mandate of Palestine.[6] She became a close friend of Karl Jaspers and his wife, developing a deep intellectual friendship with him.[7] She began corresponding with American author Mary McCarthy around this time.[8]

In 1950, Arendt became a naturalized citizen of the United States.[9] She served as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, and Northwestern University. In 1959, she was named the first female lecturer at Princeton. She also taught at the University of Chicago, where she was a member of the Committee on Social Thought; The New School in Manhattan; Yale University, where she was a fellow; and, the Center for Advanced Studies at Wesleyan University (1961–62, 1962–63).[10]

She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1962 and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1964.[11][12]

Arendt was instrumental in the creation in 1974 of Structured Liberal Education (SLE) at Stanford University. She wrote a letter to the then president of Stanford University to convince the university to enact Mark Mancall's vision of a residentially-based humanities program.[13]


Barbara Sukowa

Barbara Sukowa (born 2 February 1950, Bremen, Germany) is a German theatre and film actress.


Sukowa's stage debut was in Berlin in 1971, in a production of Peter Handke's Der Ritt über den Bodensee. Günter Beelitz invited her to join the ensemble of the Darmstädter National Theatre in the same year. She also worked in Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg, in collaboration with directors such as Luc Bondy and Ivan Nagel. Her roles included Marion in Büchner's Danton's Death and Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Other Shakespeare roles in Europe were Rosalind in As You Like It and Desdemona in Othello. Sukowa also performed in Ibsen's The Master Builder. In English, she has worked in a production of The Cherry Orchard (Princeton, New Jersey, 2000).[1]

In addition to her stage work, Sukowa is associated with the New German Cinema. She portrayed Mieze in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), which earned her the German best young actress award. Her performance of the title role in Fassbinder’s Lola earned her a German Film Awards (Gold) award while her role in Margarethe von Trotta’s Die bleierne Zeit (Marianne and Juliane, 1981) gain her a best actress award at the Venice Film Festival. In 1985 she appeared in the mini-series Space based on James A Michener's novel. She received the best actress award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival for her work in von Trotta's film Rosa Luxemburg.

Sukowa has developed a parallel career as a classical music narrator and speaker. She has performed the speaker's role in Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire, first with the Schoenberg Ensemble under Reinbert de Leeuw. Other performances have been with ensembles in Paris, London,[2][3] Berlin, St. Petersburg, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo, Salzburg, Los Angeles, and New York City.[4] She has performed the Speaker's role in Schönberg's Gurrelieder with the Berlin Philharmonic under Claudio Abbado, and is featured on the recordings with Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic, and Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia. She narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf both in concert and on record, as well as a recording of Mendelssohn’s music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has performed in Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher and Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera. She performed speaking and singing role in Reinbert de Leeuw's "Im wunderschönen Monat Mai" in 2004. She performed the speaking role in the US premiere of Michael Jarrell's Cassandre in March 2006, and in the New York City premiere that month, with musicians from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.[5][6]
In 2004 she was a member of the jury at the 26th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

On 19 December 2011, it was announced she would be on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, scheduled to be held in February 2012.[8]   


Director Margarethe von Trotta and Barbara Sukowa of Hannah Arendt at TI...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice": Grete Bloch

Don't know how many letters he wrote to Grete. She was apparently a friend of Felice's, sent to Prague to somehow act as a go-between. The introduction sheds very little light on her, and there isn't much on the Net. It's possible that Grete and Kafka "commingled" (Grete has a mysterious son--the "timing" makes it possible that he was Kafka's, but the intro seems to lean on the side of "he wasn't"--who later dies at age 7). Though there seems to be some uncertainty re her later fate, Grete apparently dies in the camps.


I was expecting to meet (after all, I knew nothing about you except that you were efficient) an elderly spinster with maternal feelings who, moreover -- I don't quite know why -- would be tall and strong. To this kind of girl, I thought, one might really be able to confess everything, which in itself would be a blessing, and perhaps one might get some good advice (the belief that an adult is capable of receiving good advice is one of my greatest stupidities), and if not advice, then perhaps comfort, and if not comfort, then at least news of F. But then you arrived and were a slim, young, undoubtedly rather unusual girl.

Franz Grillparzer (1791 - 1872)

Another Franz alludes to him quite often. I downloaded (to my Kindle) a free version of some "German classics," which include his "Poor Musician" and some of Beethoven's letters.


Franz Seraphicus Grillparzer (15 January 1791 – 21 January 1872) was an Austrian writer who is chiefly known for his dramas. He also wrote the oration for Ludwig van Beethoven's funeral.[1] 


Although Grillparzer was essentially a dramatist, his lyric poetry is in the intensity of its personal note hardly inferior to Lenau's; and the bitterness of his later years found vent in biting and stinging epigrams that spared few of his greater contemporaries. As a prose writer, he has left one powerful short story, Der arme Spielmann (1848), and a volume of critical studies on the Spanish drama, which shows how completely he had succeeded in identifying himself with the Spanish point of view.

Grillparzer's brooding, unbalanced temperament, his lack of will-power, his pessimistic renunciation and the bitterness which his self-imposed martyrdom produced in him, made him peculiarly adapted to express the mood of Austria in the epoch of intellectual thraldom that lay between the Napoleonic Wars and the Revolution of 1848; his poetry reflects exactly the spirit of his people under the Metternich regime, and there is a deep truth behind the description of Der Traum, ein Leben as the Austrian Faust. His fame was in accordance with the general tenor of his life; even in Austria a true understanding for his genius was late in coming, and not until the centenary of 1891 did the German-speaking world realize that it possessed in him a dramatic poet of the first rank; in other words, that Grillparzer was no mere Epigone of the classic period, but a poet who, by a rare assimilation of the strength of the Greeks, the imaginative depth of German classicism and the delicacy and grace of the Spaniards, had opened up new paths for the higher dramatic poetry of Europe.

[From Wikipedia:]

J. P. Muller

Kafka was a devotee of Muller's My System.

Can You See The Snow?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Worth Repeating

Silly because lists aren't my thing. However, I do jot down the date when I first read a book (I usually write it just after the front cover, along with my name) and, subsequently, the date for any rereads.

So: Below is a list (which will probably grow over the next few days) of books (or works) I've read more than once. I'll work only with Memory (which means there will be holes) and not go running after books to verify.


  • Kafka: Diaries, Letters to Milena, most of his short stories.
  • Thomas Mann: Death in Venice and some other short stories
  • T. S. Eliot: All of his poems and many essays
  • W.B. Yeats: Selected poems, especially his later works
  • Paul Celan: Poems
  • Zbigniew Herbert: Poems and most of his essays
  • Szymborska: Most of her poems
  • Rilke: Poems (especially the Duino Elegies) and Letters to a Young Poet
  • Max Frisch: Man in the Holocene, Homo Faber, Bluebeard
  • Durrenmatt: The Assignment
  • Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from Underground
  • Tolstoy: Probably only some of his religious writings and shorter works (for sure I remember Father Sergius and Kreutzer Sonata)
  • Chekhov: Most plays and short stories
  • Borges: Poems and many stories
  • Joyce: Probably only his short stories
  • Beckett: The Trilogy, Godot, and many of his shorter works
  • Nabokov: Despair (probably my favorite), Lolita, Pale Fire, Sebastian Knight, and several short stories
  • Salinger: Pretty much all of his short oeuvre (but that was long long ago)
  • Hemingway: Probably only Old Man and the Sea and some short stories
  • Fitzgerald: Only some short stories
  • Peter Handke: I want to say Kaspar and The Goalie's Anxiety (but there may have been others)
  • Grass: My Century, Meeting at Telgte, some of his poems
  • The Bible: obviously some passages more than others
  • Jens Peter Jacobsen: Mogens and Other Stories
  • Dante: Only the Inferno (the others only once)
  • Camus: Certainly The Fall (tried rereading The Plague some while ago and couldn't finish it)
  • Goethe: Probably only Travels in Italy
  • Paul Bowles: The Sheltering Sky and many of the stories
  • Synge: I think only The Aran Islands
  • Milosz: A Year of the Hunter and many of his poems
  • C.S. Lewis: Certainly Surprised by Joy but there are probably others
  • Ingeborg Bachmann: Poems
  • Musil: Posthumous Papers
  • Holderlin: Poems
  • Montale: Many of his poems
  • Rimbaud: Many of his poems and some of his letters
  • Baudelaire: Selected Poems
  • Breton: Poems
  • Buchner: Plays
  • Valery: Some poems and essays
  • Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany's (long time ago)
  • Harper Lee: Mockingbird (certainly before I was 21)
  • Beowulf
  • Gilgamesh
  • Shakespeare: only a few of his plays, e.g., Hamlet
  • John Donne: Poems
  • Virginia Woolf: To The Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own, and several essays 

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

     In my case it is the exact opposite. Talking is altogether against my nature. Whatever I may say is wrong, in my sense. For me, speech robs everything I say of its seriousness and importance. To me it seems impossible that it should be otherwise, since speech is continuously influenced by a thousand external factors and a thousand external constraints. Hence I am silent not only from necessity, but likewise from conviction. Writing is the only appropriate form of expression for me, and will continue to be so even when we are together.

No Snow Here Yet

Saturday, November 23, 2013

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

Actually, I don't even ask for daily letters, if that's impossible; I've told you this often enough: all I want is to have regular letters, but even this is denied me. And you can bear to let Wednesday go by without sending me so much as a picture postcard, although you know that on Friday I tremble from one mail delivery to the next.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

Now know this. Georg has the same number of letters as Franz, "Bendemann" is made up of Bende and Mann, Bende has the same number of letters as Kafka, and the two vowels are also in the same place; out of pity for poor "Bende," "Mann" is probably meant to fortify him for his struggles. "Frieda" has the same number of letters as Felice; it also starts with the same letter; "Frieda" and "Gluck" are also closely related; "Brandenfeld," owing to "feld," has some connection with "Bauer," and also starts with the same letter. And there are other similar things -- all of which, needless to say, I only discovered afterwards.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens)

A much better view of the Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica. Thank you Robert Gundy.

The Reddish Egret

Not a very good picture (it was a bit skittish), but then I wasn't exactly sure what I was looking at so I didn't try very hard (and of course my camera isn't much help). Apparently, it's somewhat rare in Southern California.

Bolsa Chica Reserve (Morning)


















Saturday, November 16, 2013

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

I, dearest, become estranged? I who die of longing for you here at my desk? While washing my hands outside in the dark passage today, I was somehow so overcome by the thought of you that I had to step across to the window to seek some comfort, if only from the gray sky. This is how I live. 


What I caught instead of my little black phoebe: liquidambar leaves on ivy. About as close as we get to autumn colors.


My Black Phoebe

He's probably not one bird but several. Yet, appearing then reappearing elsewhere along the fence, he sometimes gives the impression of a single bird. He's so elusive (and allusive), even if I had my camera I'd probably never get a decent shot.


The Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) is a passerine bird in the tyrant-flycatcher family. It breeds from southwest Oregon and California south through Central and South America. It occurs year-round throughout most of its range and migrates less than the other birds in its genus, though its northern populations are partially migratory. Six subspecies are commonly recognized, although two are occasionally combined as separate species, the White-winged Phoebe.

The Black Pheobe has predominately black plumage, with a white belly and undertail coverts. The sexes are identical in color, and juveniles have brown feather tips and brown wing-bars. Its song is a repeated tee-hee, tee ho. It lives in a variety of habitats but is always near water. It is mainly insectivorous, and waits on a perch before flying out and catching its prey in the air. It makes an open cup nest which is placed under a cliff or a bridge and cemented in its place with mud.

[From Wikipedia:]


[From Wikimedia Commons]

Culinary Arch

High Tide


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

R L Swihart's "Recipe (Sort of)"

Hadn't realized this little piece went up: "Recipe (Sort of)."

From Kafka's "Letters to Felice"

Because I for my part would never leave you, not even if it were my lot -- worse things could happen to me -- to have with you an inner relationship that corresponded to an outer circumstance such as having nothing to do but wait forever outside the side entrance to your house, while you passed in and out through the front door.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jumping the Gun, or My Favorite Martian


Degas' Ballerinas (Stretching)

Ode to Eakins




Standing-Reserve Plus: Grand Opening of Gelson's

Did we need another "super" market -- probably not. That corner already has three sizable grocery stores: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Ralph's.

And to top that off: another Lucille's and another CVS Pharmacy (coming soon!!!).


We didn't get there till Sunday afternoon (apparently the "grand opening" was Thursday). We "watched our step" with the crowd in the deli section, got a few bites for lunch, got some Peet's coffee at the bakery (lots of overpriced teases there), then climbed up to the balcony to jockey for a couch and eat. Beautiful day and all that. A bit of a view to the harbor and boats (squinting through afternoon sunlight).