Cate Blanchett in “Streetcar”

love cate – amazingly intelligent, intense, beautiful. love blanche – flawed, psychologically fragile, deluded, tragic – irresistible. how can u go wrong? unfortunately the show was sold out in new york.

Blanche is the Everest of modern American drama, a peak of psychological complexity and emotional range, which many stars have attempted and few have conquered. Of the performances I’ve seen in recent years, Jessica Lange’s lacked theatrical amperage, Natasha Richardson’s was too buff, and Rachel Weisz’s, in this year’s overpraised Donmar Warehouse production in London, was too callow. The challenge for the actress taking on Blanche lies in fathoming her spiritual exhaustion, her paradoxical combination of backbone and collapse. Blanche has worn herself out, bearing her burden of guilt and grief, and facing down the world with a masquerade of Southern gaiety and grace. She is looking—as Williams himself was when he wrote the play—for “a cleft in the rock of the world that I could hide in.”

Blanchett, with her alert mind, her informed heart, and her lithe, patrician silhouette, gets it right from the first beat. “I’ve got to keep hold of myself,” Blanche says, her spirits sinking with disappointment at the threadbare squalor of the one-room apartment her sister shares with her working-class husband. “Only Poe! Only Mr. Edgar Allan Poe!—could do it justice! Out here I suppose is the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir!” she drawls to Stella, flapping her long birdlike fingers in the direction of the window and the railroad tracks beyond. Blanchett doesn’t make the usual mistake of foreshadowing Blanche’s end at the play’s beginning; she allows Blanche a slow, fascinating decline. And she is compelling both as a brazen flirt and as an amusing bitch. When Stella explains that Stanley is Polish, for instance, Blanche replies, “They’re something like the Irish, aren’t they? Only not so—highbrow.” It’s part of Blanchett’s great accomplishment that she makes Blanche’s self-loathing as transparent and dramatic as her self-regard. She hits every rueful note of humor and regret in Williams’s dialogue. In one desperate scene, in which Blanche explains her sordid past to Stanley’s friend Mitch (Tim Richards), who has been disabused of his romantic interest in her, she takes a slug of Southern Comfort. “Southern Comfort!” she exclaims. “What is that, I wonder?” Dishevelled, sitting on the floor by the front door, she fesses up to Mitch. “Yes, I had many intimacies with strangers,” she says, in a voice fatigued by heartbreak. I don’t expect to see a better performance of this role in my lifetime. Full review.

THE SPECIAL LOVE by Ibn el Arabi

Mystic, philosopher, poet, sage, Muhammad Ibn el Arabi is one of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers. He was born in Murcia, Al-Andalus in 1165 and his writings had an immense impact throughout the Islamic world and beyond.

The most famous idea attributed to el Arabi is wahdat al-wojud “the oneness of being.” Although he never employs the term, the idea is implicit throughout his writings. In the manner of both theologians and philosophers, Ibn el Arabi employs the term wojud to refer to God as the Necessary Being. Like them, he also attributes the term to everything other than God, but he insists that wojud does not belong to the things found in the cosmos in any real sense. Rather things borrow wojud from God, much as the earth borrows light from the sun.

THE SPECIAL LOVE
by Ibn el Arabi

As the full moon appears from the night, so appears
her face amid the tresses.

From sorrow comes the perception of her: the eyes
crying on the cheek; life the black narcissus
Shedding tears upon a rose.

More beauties are silenced: her fair quality is
overwhelming.

Even to think of her harms her subtlety (thought is
Too coarse a thing to perceive her). If this be
So, how can she correctly be seen by such a clumsy
organ as the eye?

Her fleeting wonder eludes thought.
She is beyond the spectrum of sight.

When description tried to explain her, she overcame it.
Whenever such an attempt is made, description is
put to flight.

Because it is trying to circumscribe.

If someone seeking her lowers his aspirations (to
Feel in terms of ordinary love),
– there are always others who will not do so.

ibn el arabi

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG by Sylvia Plath

MAD GIRL’S LOVE SONG
By Sylvia Plath

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

1953

In Memoriam: Asim Butt

Asim Butt (1978 – 2010) was a Pakistani painter and sculptor, with an interest in graffiti and printmaking. He was a member of the Stuckist art movement. He spoke out against the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan, in November 2007, by starting an “art protest” movement. He spray-stencilled the “eject” symbol (a red triangle over a red rectangle) all over Karachi. That image has now become widespread in the city. He said it was to “eject the military from the presidency.” A tribute: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2010/01/15/death-artist-asim-butt-1978-2010

The pleasures of life are blinding…

The pleasures of life are blinding; it is love alone that clears the rust from the heart, the mirror of the soul.

Bowl of Saki, by Hazrat Inayat Khan

Commentary by Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan:

The heart of man, as the Sufis say, is a mirror. All that is reflected in this mirror is projected upon other mirrors. When man has doubt in his heart that doubt is reflected upon every heart with which he comes in contact. When he has faith that faith is reflected in every heart. Can there be a more interesting study and a greater wonder than to observe this keenly?

There must be no feeling of revenge, of unkindness, of bitterness against anyone in the heart. When such a feeling comes, one must say: this is rust coming into my heart. When all such feelings are cleared off the heart, it becomes like a mirror. A mirror without rust reflects all that is before it; then everything divine is reflected in the heart.

The heart aflame becomes the torch on the path of the lover, which lightens his way that leads him to his destination. The pleasures of life are blinding, it is love alone that clears the rust from the heart, the mirror of the soul.

Bab’Aziz – The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul

Bab’Aziz – The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul (2007): A visual poem of incomparable beauty, this masterpiece from director Nacer Khemir (Searchers of the Desert) begins with the story of a blind dervish named Bab’Aziz and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar. Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every thirty years. With faith as their only guide, the two journey for days through the expansive, barren landscape. To keep Ishtar entertained, Bab’Aziz relays the ancient tale of a prince who relinquished his realm in order to remain next to a small pool in the desert, staring into its depths while contemplating his soul. As the tale of the prince unfolds, the two encounter other travelers with stories of their own–including Osman, who longs for the beautiful woman he met at the bottom of a well, and Zaid, who searches for the ravishing young woman who fled from him after being seduced by his songs. Filled with breathtaking images and wonderful music, Nacir Khemir has created a fairytale-like story of longing and belonging, filmed in the enchanting and ever-shifting sandscapes of Tunisia and Iran. (From YouTube)

Blind Willie Johnson Trouble Soon be Over

“From 1927. Johnson was blinded by his stepmother when he was 7. He grew up to be a preacher and musician. He was one of the greatest bottleneck guitarists as well as one of the most revered figures of depression-era gospel music. His music is distinguished by his powerful bass thumb-picking and gravelly voice. In 1945, his home burned to the ground and with nowhere else to go, he lived in the burned ruins of his home sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia and died. So 18 years after this song, he got his wish. His troubles were finally over. What a wonderful song this is – the misery of povery making death something to look forward to. I have no idea who the young girl is who harmonises with him, but she has the voice of an angel and makes the song.” (from YouTube)

Muse – United States of Eurasia

muse’s “united states of eurasia” is absolutely spectacular. reminds me of “bohemian rhapsody”. their entire new album is stellar. it’s called “the resistance”.

UNITED STATES OF EURASIA

You and me are the same
We don’t know or care who’s to blame
But we know that whoever holds the reins
Nothing will change
Our cause has gone insane

And these wars, they can’t be won
And these wars, they can’t be won
And do you want them to go on
And on and on
Why split these states
When there can be only one?

And must we do as we’re told?
Must we do as we’re told?

You and me fall in line
To be punished for unproven crimes!
And we know that there is no one we can trust;
Our ancient heroes, they are turning to dust!

And these wars, they can’t be won
Does anyone know or care how they begun?
They just promise to go on
And on and on
But soon we will see
There can be only one

United States!
United States!
Of…

Eurasia!
… sia!
… sia!
… sia!