Local Reading

Wandering around Manila at Friday lunchtime, with the typhoon looming, it was exciting to head to the SMX Convention center to attend the 39th Manila International Book Fair, and after a few hours of perusing I came away with just two books. Po-on (renamed Dusk in western editions) which is the first of five books in the highly acclaimed Rosales saga, tracing the successive generations and struggles of a Filipino family.  The second of my choices, Motherless Tongues caught my eye when at the Ateneo de Manila University Press stand, here is the blurb which explains the book better than I can after too much coffee to kickstart my week:

In Motherless Tongues, Vicente L. Rafael examines the vexed relationship between language and history gleaned from the workings of translation in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond. Moving across a range of colonial and postcolonial settings, he demonstrates translation’s agency in the making and understanding of events. These include nationalist efforts to vernacularize politics, U.S. projects to weaponize languages in wartime, and autobiographical attempts by area studies scholars to translate the otherness of their lives amid the Cold War. In all cases, translation is at war with itself, generating divergent effects. It deploys as well as distorts American English in counterinsurgency and colonial education, for example, just as it re-articulates European notions of sovereignty among Filipino revolutionaries in the nineteenth century and spurs the circulation of text messages in a civilian-driven coup in the twenty-first. Along the way, Rafael delineates the untranslatable that inheres in every act of translation, asking about the politics and ethics of uneven linguistic and semiotic exchanges. Mapping those moments where translation and historical imagination give rise to one another, Motherless Tongues shows how translation, in unleashing the insurgency of language, simultaneously sustains and subverts regimes of knowledge and relations of power. 

Although I envisioned an afternoon of agonising which books to purchase from a whole heap spread over the many stands, it didn’t quite work out like that.  It was exciting to see people coming out loaded with books, there was an unrestrained enthusiasm from the masses, which was great to see and this was amped up when receiving a map of the many publishers, bookshops and other assorted stands that were in attendance. Continue reading “Local Reading”

Boston Bake

Greetings my winged pretties!  Having spent most of the week away with a broken phone charger, I’ve come back to a veritable tsunami of messages, emails and the like so please bear with me as I catch up with those and your blogs as well.  There’s so much to do I feel like I need another holiday already and I am tempted…

anyway, first to this trip!

Arriving after the usual long odyssey – which included a flight over Boston to NY to get a connecting flight back because we will do anything to save a little money – arriving was fantastic until confronted by a room that distinctly lacked air con, just a fan that sounded like an aeroplane ready to take off (a feature of many holidays it seems).  The only redeeming features were the courtesy bag of pretzels from Delta airlines which I found from the beginning of the day with the phrase ‘one salty snack for one sweet ride’ and a bed, a glorious bunk bed.


Boston is a pleasant city, very laid back because of the heat 30C (86F) to start our holidays, which was overly hot for this pasty skinned European.  Yet the inverse is true for the traffic which takes every opportunity to hurry each other along and I even spied a lone car presumably pipping itself on an empty stretch of road, honesty it was like being in a different country or something!

It’s also a small city which is great as it was only 2.5 Kilometres from our hostel through the city centre and out to the coast.  In between were plenty of restful places to relax and refresh and many places to eat as well.  As a consequence, there was much to see and do within easy walking distance and not once did we need to take transport apart from the torrid day we did the Freedom Trail.


The trail was the first major activity of the holiday and my, was it hot, hardly a breeze to speak of but we decided to wander the trail ourselves rather than go for the guided tour bit.  It has its good and bad points, I enjoyed seeing various bits of the city I never would have been to plus venturing into some places of historical value but that was outdone by the busy nature of the trail on a lot of narrow streets, gruelling heat and nowhere for a drink after the first half.  It was more of a trial than a trail. Continue reading “Boston Bake”

Fate-al attraction

Some scenes are just beautiful on the eye and entering Jermy and Westerman and seeing the below view, I just had to insist to the guy behind the counter that I would be taking photos for my blog.  Intimidating as I obviously am, he crumpled at my mention of free publicity on the blog which I may have made out to be as popular as the Google homepage.

WP_20150910_002I actually forgot to take more photos because I was too busy trying to limit my spending.  This time my haul consisted of something more analytical than my normal fare, to gain a fuller understanding of what I love, one has to delve deeper like one of the Caribbean sink holes, fascinating but can seriously harm your health.


As I entered one of the rooms two books fell off a shelf, this was of course a sign and after putting back Applied Psychology at Work, my prize was Art and Illusion: A study in the psychology of pictorial representation.  This could be the book that changes my life as fate has obviously decreed that the book fell for a reason, perhaps the secret to what the Mona Lisa is amused at will be revealed. Continue reading “Fate-al attraction”

A Love Affair

Image found at www.fromoldbooks.org which shows a dictionary of thieving slang from 1736
Image found at http://www.fromoldbooks.org which shows a dictionary of thieving slang from 1736

A Love Affair

Lilting, coruscating, amorphous

The simple serendipity of a thesaurus,
The nebulous wonder of infinite word combinations, linked together like the great constellations.

Sultry, dulcet, ebullient

Words. Sometimes a harbinger, at times a denouement but always a panoply of reverence in one’s own demesne.
Whether the susurrus of turned pages or the sonorous language contained within,
The full flow of expression written and imbibed, is mine to cherish and cultivate.

mellifluous, sumptuous, tranquil

A pure rhapsody of ever-changing felicity,
suffuse with redolent comprehension.
The zenith of my love surrounds me always, infused within, now and for tomorrow.

Mail High Club

There is something exciting about being greeted in the morning by a package, an international package no less.  Naturally I had to go share this with other people but with everybody being at work and having a day off myself I did the next best thing.  Wandering into town, found a public place, sat down, cleared my throat dramatically and a little too loudly and made sure my index finger was pointed at the word priority.

The PackageAssured of absolutely nobody paying attention, it was with gusto that I ripped the envelope open like some sort of animal, a book loving wolf possibly.  My prize was an exciting new book (courtesy of the folks at New Shelves Distribution), that I am looking forward to getting my teeth into.

Word PlayFinally, this year the feeling of focus is coming together and from now on the blog posts will start to become more frequent, as will the visits which have been wholly lacking in your general direction so far.  As it stands there are six books to review on the pile and plenty mo e on the shelves that I should reacquaint myself with from my reading past.  The blogging year definitely starts here…

On Literature – Umberto Eco

OLEcoIn this collection of essays and addresses delivered over the course of his illustrious career, Umberto Eco seeks “to understand the chemistry of [his] passion” for the word. From musings on Ptolemy and “the force of the false” to reflections on the experimental writing of Borges and Joyce, Eco’s luminous intelligence and encyclopaedic knowledge are on dazzling display throughout. And when he reveals his own ambitions and superstitions, his authorial anxieties and fears, one feels like a secret sharer in the garden of literature to which he so often alludes.

Remarkably accessible and unfailingly stimulating, this collection exhibits the diversity of interests and the depth of knowledge that have made Eco one of the world’s leading writers.

This collection of words has possibly the most offensive cover I have ever seen, purely because I am loath to ever break the spines of my treasured possessions.  After much deliberation, It is difficult to find much else to fault with this particular paperback.

This is a gathering together of essays by semiotician Umberto Eco, a man of eloquence who always manages to make me feel woefully under read.  Eco uses semiotics to decipher and open up the mind, to inform and make connections, the sheer volume of authors and books quoted is genuinely impressive and makes for a weighty read but one that is satisfying and will definitely change the extent of how you view your literature and history.

The author’s eloquence on a number of topics is in evidence as he delves into the minutiae of the written word, from philosophies, technique and propaganda to mention but a few of he subjects covered. There is in evidence of an intricate flow of thought, language and complex patterns, continually unfurling and changing through history.  Eco explores abstract concepts and brings to light other authors to help us decipher a rich tapestry of concept and imagery that is constantly evolving around us. Continue reading “On Literature – Umberto Eco”

Under the Greenwood Tree – Thomas Hardy

UtGTCentring on the quaint rural village of Mellstock, set deep within Hardy’s imagined and picturesque county of Wessex, the novel revolves around a double plot of the hopeful love story of Dick Dewey and Fancy Day and the tragic demise of the Mellstock Choir, and what the crumbling of long-held traditions means to the local community. The arrival of Mr Maybold, a new vicar with newfangled ideas, unsettles the local community with ideas of revolutionary change, in which the church and its generations-old choir are an anchor.

Feasting my eyes on the cover of this book just makes me want to go and sit under a tree and idly while away the hours betwixt reading and observing nature. I didn’t get around to indulging in any of the above but nevertheless enjoyed what I read.

Hardy has given us a short novel that is timeless, not only in the feel of the language but also in the story told.  The way it’s written almost encourages the reader to take the time to stop and relish all the little features that the mind’s eye conjures up.  I frequently caught myself peering at trees and enjoying the small and quite beleaguered nature that my abode is situated near.

The breeze had gone down, and the rustle of their feet and tones of their speech echoed with an alert rebound from every post, boundary-stone and ancient wall they passed, even where the distance of the echoes origin was less than a few yards.

The story centres around change, from the yearly seasons to the advent of modernity in varying and ever more intrusive ways. The slower more traditional way of life struggles valiantly against this ‘progress’ and brings home how much the innocent and rural life seems so much more preferable in these days of sensory overload and needless stress.  Perhaps I am being overly romantic but I would prefer a life that felt poetic to a life with a job that means nothing and another night of bad television.
Continue reading “Under the Greenwood Tree – Thomas Hardy”

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