Today’s Google Doodle commemorates the birth of Borges:
“Wishing Jorge Luis Borges a happy 112th birthday!” Google tweeted early this morning, adding a well-known Borges quote: “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”
I shudder to think what this arch-conservative and biobliophile would’ve said about videopoetry, let alone digital texts. But thanks to a Facebook contact, I saw this video and thought it worth sharing.
It appears to be a quite illegal upload (and re-branding) of a snippet from the documentary Art, Poetry and Particle Physics, narrated by John Berger and directed by Ken McMullen. However, the uploaders do at least acknowledge the theft, and also reproduce the text of the translation by Stephen Kessler used in the documentary. [The YouTube user account was terminated for copyright violations. I swapped in a DailyMotion version on 15 August 2014.] And it’s a very effective selection, I thought — it works well on its own as a videopoem, even with the apparent non sequitur by Berger at the end about Borges’ lack of interest in 20th-century science.
This is from the first chapter of Cronopios and Famas, translated by Paul Backburn, “The Instruction Manual” — “an absurd assortment of tasks and items dissected in an instruction-manual format,” according to the publisher’s description on Amazon.
Sari Rachman is the actress, and also supplied the voiceover reading of the poem. Leonardo Cariglino did everything else. You can read the text at Maud Newton’s blog. Someone else posted a video interpretation of the poem on YouTube, and had I not discovered this one, I might have posted it. But I’m afraid Cariglino’s film blows it out of the water.
Incidentally, Cariglino is in the midst of a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter to make a film inspired in part by a Baudelaire poem. Check it out.
A nicely non-literal animation of the poem by Latvian filmaker Signe Baumane, from 1999. It won Silver at Worldfest – Houston Film Festival 2000, the Robbie Burns Award at Cin(e) Poetry Festival 2000, and a Jury Award at the 34th New York Exposition of Short Film and Video 2000, according to Baumane’s website. Here’s the Spanish text.
A couple of the YouTube uploads of this ad attribute it to Andy Fogwill of the advertising firm Santo Buenos Aires, so I’ll assume that’s correct. I first saw it in the dubbed English version below, via Don Share’s blog.
For those of us immersed in the world of poetry, it may come as a bit of a shock to realize that for many other people, poetry is synonymous with bad poetry. Had it not been for that sleight of hand there at the end, I would’ve thoroughly enjoyed this. For all that bad metaphors and aching sincerity set my teeth on edge, it is still preferable to the ad man’s cynicism in the service of idolatry.
Here’s a film based on one of Alejandra Pizarnik’s “Dialogues,” which I’ve translated below along with the prefatory text. According to the hard-to-read credits at the end, the director is Carlos Martinez. I love the evocation of classic horror films here.
The rain is expected to pass.
Winds are expected to blow in.
Through love to silence, they say pathetic things.
I wish they’d leave me alone with my new, fresh voice.
No! Don’t leave me!
Words to illuminate the silence.
[Un cuento memorable/A memorable story]
—That black one that laughs from the small window of a streetcar resembles Madame Lamort —she said.
—That’s not possible; there are no streetcars in Paris. Besides, that black one on the streetcar doesn’t resemble Madame Lamort in any way. Quite the opposite: it’s Madame Lamort who resembles that black one. In sum: not only does Paris lack streetcars, but I have never seen Madame Lamort in my life, not even in a portrait.
—You agree with me —she said— because I don’t know Madame Lamort either.
—Who are you? We should introduce ourselves.
—Madame Lamort —she said— and you?
—Your name, I can’t think what it reminds me of —she said.
—Try to remember before the streetcar comes.
—But you just told me there were no streetcars in Paris —she said.
—They didn’t exist when I said it, but one never knows what might come to pass.
—Then let’s wait for it, since we’re waiting for it —she said.