Category Archives: Interesting People

Leonard Cohen: The Poet

leonard cohen

 “A heavy burden lifted from my soul,

           I heard that love was out of my control.”

                                                    Leonard Cohen

I started this day by watching a 1965 film about Leonard Cohen (via OpenCulture). A young Leonard Cohen. In the film, Cohen is portrayed mainly as a poet, as a literary man. So that got me going and I started looking on the web about his poems and his quotes and I bumped into plenty of interesting material.

“If you don’t become the ocean, you’ll be seasick everyday.”

Leonard Cohen

At some point in the film, at 20mins into it to be exact, Cohen explains how he got to move to Greece, to Hydra. He says he lived in London at the time. It was winter, it was gloomy, rainy, and he had a cold, when he bumped into the Bank of Greece, the title of which was etched in marble on the building facade. He walked in and the man behind the counter was wearing sunglasses. Leonard felt, and I am quoting him, that this was “the most eloquent protest against the entire landscape.” That was the beginning of his affair with Greece.

Here is a page from the Leonard Cohen Files website, an incredible database, with Leonard’s photos & poems from the island of Hydra (click on image to access the link):

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen Poems & Photos from Hydra

“Reality is one of the possibilities I cannot afford to ignore.”

Leonard Cohen

Then, at 26mins into the film, he recites from his poem/song “True Love Leaves No Traces“, where he beautifully says:

                        “As the mist leaves no scar

                         on the dark green hill

                         so my body leaves no scar

                         on you nor ever will

                         When wind and hawk encounter

                         what remains to keep

                         so you and I encounter

                         then turn then fall to sleep”

Leonard Cohen, “True Love Leaves No Traces”

Love and Leonard…. In this realm, it is an all together different song I wanted to share with you here, the ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’:

“When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.”

Leonard Cohen

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Alberto Giacometti

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”

Alberto Giacometti

(Thanx Kosta for sharing this quote! I had to post it too..)

Giacometti Quote

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Stephen Fry: Living a Life


When I first went to England to study I was 18 years old, so discovering and exploring new territories was the norm. But one of the long lasting discoveries I made back then was the persona of Stephen Fry. This witty, versatile, erudite man could not really be anything other than British. A British of the modern world of course. I have to admit though that my instinctual appreciation of the man had a lot to do with his resemblance to Oscar Wilde. Seeing him on TV back then always made me feel that Wilde is still alive! When I found out that he was a good friend of Douglas Adams made me like him even more.

His comedy, acting, articles and twitting allowed me (and everyone else, I guess) to see more of this man. I’m always interested in finding out what he is up to and what he has to say, because he comes across as a rational man, a humanist  and a refreshingly open person to new ideas and advancements, willing to include or try out new things with a kid’s apetite! In that sense it didn’t come as a huge surprise to me,  when I read on his Wikipedia page, that he was the 2nd person to ever buy a Macintosh in the UK, the 1st being Douglas Adams.

I follow him on twitter, which he updates constantly, and I regularly check his website, where all his activities are archived/included.

Here is a 31mins video where he shares with the world what he wishes he knew when he was 18. His view of life. Thank you Monique for bringing this video to my attention!

Kindness, he says, dwarfs all other virtues…

And a couple of Quotes ‘extracted’ from the video:

“Sharing the benefits of life is the benefit of life.”

Stephen Fry

“Authority comes from the validity of information.”

Stephen Fry

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The Vermeer Project

This post is a reblog from the Aegean Center blog about the  amazing Vermeer project that the amazing Jane Morris Pack is leading at the Aegean Center right now…
… When Curiosity is the exploratory force behind all understanding and advancement, be it in art, the sciences, in life….

 “Sitting in the dark, seeing the painterly vision of light causes nearly all to exclaim at its beauty.”

Jane Morris Pack

The Chronicle

Actual-Projected-Image-(flipped)Actual Projected Image in Camera Obscura (approx. 40×48 cm / 16×19 in)

by Jane Morris Pack

Have you ever painted upside down in the dark?

While visiting Rome this winter I had the opportunity to study several Vermeer paintings in the exhibit at the Quirinale.  They were part of a larger show called “Vermeer and The Golden Age of Dutch Art”  and although there were some other fine pieces in the exhibit, the Vermeers outshone the others. They seem to glow from within and the accuracy of the perceived space is extraordinary. Johannes Vermeer has captured modern interest not only for his dreamy women engaged in mundane tasks but also perhaps due to the mystery surrounding his life.  We know little about his training, his personal life or his methods.  I was intrigued by his use of the camera obscura, which seems to be an accepted fact among art historians…

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Vonnegut’s 8 points on how to Write a Story

Point 7:

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”

Kurt Vonnegut

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Garry Kasparov, “Happy Birthday!!!!!”

I just saw on my dad’s fb that today is Garry Kasparov‘s birthday. How could I have forgotten that? It is a birthday I know all my life. I am also born on the 13th of a different month and I have received many comments on the date’s bad luck connotation, to which I usually reply that this number gives birth to great minds.

Whoever doesn’t know me and reads this would probably think that I am a chess aficionado, which (sadly) I am not. But I grew up with chess all around me as my dad is a chess lover. Garry Kasparov, ever since he dramatically appeared on the international chess scene, was considered nothing less than a hero, a wonderman, a genius in my house, an (informed) view that influenced me.

So, although I do not follow chess I have  followed the outline of Garry Kasparov’s career and I am always interested in what he thinks and does.

I have also met him in person. My dad and his chess friends ages ago got him to come and play some chess in Corfu. I remember anticipating to meet the man, to hear his opinions at first hand and off the record, to spend time with him and to find out about his taste. Unfortunately, he didn’t satisfy my apetite. I remember him as a serious, focused man. A moment without playing or other obligations, a carefree moment, was not a chit chat opportunity time, but a great opportunity for him to think and reflect. To progress. The only way you could attract his attention at such moments, considered free time for the rest of us, was by bringing up a subject that fell into his active interests like history and chess.  Everything else seemed like mere distractions.

After he had left and I got over the fact that I didn’t get the pleasure to fill his time on the island with my interpretation of pleasure on Corfu,  I felt a deep respect for the man. I don’t think I had met anyone before that enjoyed and opted for serious concentration when visiting a mediterranean summer island holiday destination. By meeting Garry Kasparov I didn’t learn more about chess or history or politics but I  learnt a lot about the power of concentration and determination.

Here is a bit old documentary about Garry Kasparov that gives a fair portrayal of the chess man (English & Russian with Greek subtitles). Being a decade old doc means that it has no information on Garry’s off the (chess)board activities, which are plenty…


Celebrating a year of blogging – Celebrating science

The other day WordPress sent me a birthday note, reminding me it’s been one year this blog is up’n’running and it is meant to be growing not ageing.

I wanted to celebrate this anniversary and when I saw these following two videos yesterday, which I really enjoyed, I felt that they really  communicated what I want to be doing with this site, so sharing them here would be a very appropriate bday gift to the blog!  Because through science and entertainment they celebrate the human thought, science, art, cooperation, wonder, passion and enjoyment – which is all I want this blog to be a celebration of!

Then I thought that it might scare some of you away since they are both long videos… but my beautiful company at dinner last night was so enthusiastic hearing about them that I think they are right, I should share them here as a gift to all!

So what are these videos? They really are one video divided into two parts. They are the full recording of an event titled The Origins Stories that took place in the Arizona State University as part of its Origins Project. This event was a panel presentation and discussion on the storytelling of science by a bunch of very interesting people: Bill Nye (science educator), Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist), Richard Dawkins (evolutionary biologist), Brian Greene (theoretical physicist), Ira Flatow (science journalist), Neal Stephenson (popular science fiction writer), Tracy Day (executive director of the World Science Festival) and Lawrence Krauss (Origins Project director).

Their point was to communicate how exciting science can be and they are truly inspiring, lively, intelligent and fun to watch!

The first video is their short presentations and the second is the QA session that followed their presentation.

Fun fun fun! Enjoy them !!!

1. The Storytelling of Science (the presentations)

2. The Storytelling of Science (QA session)

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To play safe, I prefer to accept only one type of power: the power of art over trash, the triumph of magic over the brute.

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov Quote

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Francis Bacon: The Optimist

“Great art is always a way of concentrating, reinventing what is called fact, what we know of our existence – a reconcentration… tearing away the veils that fact acquires through time.”

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was born like today, 28th October, in 1909 and died in 1992. He is probably the only ‘shock’ artist I like. Here is a link to an 1985 documentary about him, his work and his views. I think in this just short of an hour film you can see the man, who claims to be “an optimist for nothing” and to have no thoughts on the meaning of his individual works.

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Natural Selection Theory in a nutshell

Darwin’s Natural Selection Theory changed the way we see life and the world for ever and so many discussions and books have been written about it since … Darwin wrote a book explaining it but needed just one paragraph to describe it. Here is Darwin himself describing Natural Selection in 1859 in a few words:

“If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection.”

Darwin, Charles (1859)On the Origin of Species in From So Simple a Beginning: The Four Great Books of Charles Darwin. Edited, with introductions, by Edward O. Wilson. W. W. Norton & Company. New York, 2006.

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