The Oslo Opera

April 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

  Tons of ink have been used in discussing the Oslo Opera since it was being constructed. It has generated a lot of controversy for different reasons: costs, dimensions, selection of materials, relevance. It has been discussed ad infinitum whether the choice of Italian marmor for the facade was a clever decision or how should the area around it be developed. The opera has as many admirers as detractors. In this post I´m not going to join the discussion, but i would like to highlight something that i find beautiful about it: the coat area next to the bathrooms!!!

It might not be the most efficient or have enough space, yet it has an ethereal quality that coupled with the shiny black entrance to the bathrooms steals a mandatory gasp from the first-time visitor. I have not read or heard ever any comments about the design of this area but here i would like, through the pictures posted below, to give a signal of appreciation to whoever was in charge of it.

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Of Calligraphy

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

When i was a child i loved calligraphy. I could spend long stretches of time practicing the different ways to write the letters. Some gave me a lot of trouble, i never quite managed to write beautiful M´s or F´s, but overall i thought that if something was worthwhile writing, it should be written in a beautiful way (or as beautiful as possible). The advent of computers changed all this. Today it´s very rare that someone takes handwritten notes in schools or universities, not to mention letters, invitations, and so on. In some darkish societal corners some people may still appreciate calligraphy, but in general I would say is not a very practiced art.

I don´t practice anymore calligraphy, although I still pay attention to my handwriting. Yet when i walk or drive around a city and I  notice commercial signs done with beautiful font designs, my old passion is rekindled. Here are some of the ones i have encountered in Norway that to me have the added charm of bygone eras …

Oslo Vollen Bakeri

“The self-effac…

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

“The self-effacing nature of language, which essentially distorts that which is attempting to clarify”

G. Homayounpour on Lacan´s language theory

Flying Divers

April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

Is it not incredible that just when you are busily walking down a street, your mind going over a thousand things, suddenly you lift your eyes and see a mini-army of flying divers ready to jump into the water?

This was the surprise waiting for me behind the Radisson Plaza in Oslo. The front facade is very nice, the tallest building in the city a lot of glass and shine, but if you walk around the area behind the hotel the impression is a bit different. The run down neighborhood, some semi-abandoned remodelling projects next to the river (which at this time of the year is rather poor in water) and a lot of grey, anonymous buildings, give an overall impression of decay. Yet amid the squalidness of the area, the flying divers manage to lift up the view and provide something to wonder at.

Birds and Spirits and Venezuela

April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Not so long ago in a country torn by perennial political campaigning one of the candidates told the story of how, while praying in a small chapel, a  whistling bird flew around him three times. As he was looking at the photograph, which was nested among flowers, of the recently deceased president he understood the bird´s presence as a sign of approval – sent by the dead man´s spirit- of his intention to start campaigning for the highest office in the country. “He´s here with us now” “I knew immediately what the bird was trying to say”, emphasized seriously the candidate. The people surrounding him were listening intently. Here was a man not only sensitive enough to understand the language of birds, but also capable of transmitting further the message for the benefit of all of us. Even more, he was taking on his shoulders the responsibility of carrying on the will of the deceased hero.

Three times flew the bird around him. Like in a fairytale, realism and magic are forever intertwined in order to create a higher meaning. Is this the stuff of politics? It seems so, or at least, it seems like the present state of affairs is such that politicians or aspirants to the public sphere need to frequently resort to allusions to other worlds, spirits or evil/good dichotomies in order to explain or justify their actions (think of Bush´s “axis of evil”, Chavez “Smell of sulphur” in his famous UN speech, and so on). While such references would have raised many eyebrows, not to mention scorn in other times, the blossoming of this quasi-mystical understanding of reality seems to qualify the modern approach to the public. You may think these are just rhetorical tactics to reach the lowest common denominator in an audience, after all “intelligent” people don´t fall for these fairy tales. Maybe so. Yet, it is still unsettling that a discussion of the public should be built around these references, is this sustainable politics?

Spring Caress

April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Suddenly a cat came running from the woods. He wanted to be caressed. Maybe it was the late arrival of spring? I was a bit worried that it was going to follow us all the way to the car and that it was going to be difficult to get rid of him. I was wrong. Some boys were laughing and playing behind us and he jumped towards them. Yet more petting. After a couple of minutes I turned around to check on the cat and he was walking unceremoniously back to the woods. The boys were gone.

Do not disturb

April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

We were quietly relaxing on the bench when you came around. Armed with your new-bought camera you decided to test its black&white function. It does not work very well (or you are not such a good photographer) because even though I am dark as coal, my elder brother is a classic siamese and that means that his coat is on the beige side of the spectrum … Let us go back to our relaxation exercises please!

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