“The sea was smooth, warm and dark as black velvet, not a ripple disturbing the surface. The distant coastline of Albania was dimly outlined by a faint reddish glow in the sky. Gradually, minute by minute, this glow deepened and grew brighter, spreading across the sky. Then suddenly the moon, enormous, wine-red, edged herself over the fretted battlement of mountains, and threw a straight blood-red path across the dark sea. ”
Vassilis (Bill) Metallinos made the above video. He has made some beautiful videos of the night sky over Corfu, made of thousands of stills, that can be viewed on his youtube channel. You can read an interview of his here explaining his equipment and method.
This blog became two years old the other day. If it could take a voice, I imagine it would take the voice of Sixto Rodriguez and say, “Thank you for keeping me alive!”, in the same simple, clear and vibrato way as Rodriguez welcomed his fans at his ‘resurrection’ concert in S. Africa in 1998.
So two years in, Thank you Escape for making some sense out of me. Thank you all.
And yes, I Wonder. And I thank you for Wondering:
The first song I ever heard of Rodriguez was this very “I Wonder”. It was summer, I was in a bar above the sea, on a starry night. Its style and his voice amplified the evening breeze. Shazam, beautiful shazam app, helped me ‘tag’ the song and led me to Sixto Rodriguez’ limited discography.
Then, recently, I watched the documentary film “Searching for Sugarman” (2012) about the weird story of Sixto Rodriguez. Rodriguez, living in Detroit, made a couple of albums as a young musician at the end of the ’60’s beginning of ’70’s that didn’t do well. With his music career not going anywhere, he spent his life working as a builder in constructions.
Parallel to his low expectations life, from the ’80’s onwards his records became popular and loved in South Africa. There, for the anti-apartheid white youth of South Africa, he became a symbol; he was actually considered bigger than Elvis. And although we are talking about the final years of the 20th century, Rodriguez was living in Detroit poor and unaware of his success in some other part of the world, while in South Africa he was believed to be long dead. The rumour had it that he had heroically committed suicide on stage. That was the case until he was ‘discovered’ alive in the 90’s, thanks to the internet, to an equally big surprise to his South African fans and to him and to his family and friends. As a S. African article put it during his first ‘resurrection’ tour there in 1998 that attracted more than 50.000 people: “The US zero – the S.A. hero”. How can you not ‘Wonder’?
Here is the ‘Searching for Sugarman’ documentary film (duration: 1hr 26mins):
And I wonder,
I want to keep wondering
and I want to keep on sharing my wonders and my wanderings with you on ‘Escape’
I bumped into these photos of Algerian Women in the 1960’s by Marc Garanger about a year ago and I visit them regularly online, because frankly I find them striking. The women are just beautiful and the shots are so encapsulating. But there is a story behind them that has given this “Femmes Algériennes 1960” portfolio an even more revealing history.
Marc Garanger served in the French army in the Algerian War, the infamous end of the French colonisation epoch in the 60’s. Garanger opposed the French occupation but he was serving there as a soldier photographer. While there he was asked to take photos of the regional population for their ID’s. Within ten days he took some 2.000 pictures, some of them of women who had never before taken off their veils in front of a stranger. There is much talk about the captured looks of these women, their resistance, their strength and their reservation. That is all interpretation as far as I am concerned.
Garanger soon after fled the army and went to Switzerland to publish these images in the hope that he would tell a striking story about the force and demoralisation exercised by the French occupying army towards the peoples of Algeria. And he was right. His images told a story and the discussion on these images hasn’t seized since, while Marc Garanger has made a celebrated career as a culture documentary photographer.
I tried to find more information online about these women and their conditions of life, their traditions, their ways in the various cultures that make up Algeria. Most of the articles I have found bound these images with oppression, Islam, the French occupation and feminism. The only things I have found so far simply on their ways of life just mention that they come from either Islamic or Berber Algerian communities. The Berber ones wear face tattoos. These could not be seen in public because they were hidden by their veils. They were certainly beauty signs but they were also meaning carrying symbols. The tradition of face tattoo has died away in today’s Algeria, but there are still old ladies alive who carry them. Most of them do not remember the symbolism and I find that astonishing, because it is in their face. Apparently, the profession of the tattoo artist that used to travel between the tribes to give them these tattoos has died away along with this tradition. The most concrete information and a sort of background I found for this desert tattoo rite was on Yasmin Bendaas‘s research project (funded by the Pulitzer Center), which she updates regularly.
Traditions die away and memory fades. History is made continually, gets piled and gets done and undone. In this Femmes Algériennes photos I find beauty in women, in photography, in history, in locality, in awkwardness, in the richness of a moment in time.
Marc Garanger is still working on his photography and he has travelled in many locations to record history. Here is a 4min video where he shares his take on his projects.
This is a short, fun and informative TED talk by Terry Moore about the origin of the symbol ‘x’ as the representation of the unknown (or variable) in algebra. Reminding us, thus, that it is through its use in mathematics that we took the ‘x’ to commonly mean ‘an unspecified or unknown thing or person’ in our (use of) 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.”
“Authority comes from the validity of information.”
Every summer I cannot decide if I prefer full moon nights or the dark starry ones. The truth is I care not choose, I love both. In this sense I love August, a month with magical full moon(s) and star-dotted night skies.
This is an iphone (hipstamatic) pic I took of the full moon rising a couple of nights ago on the beach (almost) in front of my house in Kolymbithres, Paros.
And here is a video – guide for spotting celestial objects in the summer night sky (english with Greek subtitles.) Thank you Silina for sending me this video!
Excellent documentary by BBC on the research that goes on in CERN. Hearing people that either do research there or that their theories are being tried out in this mega-lab made me feel very appreciative of the commitment that has gone into CERN. A huge idea, a huge place, a huge cooperation existing in order to try out ideas (usually called ‘theories’).
This documentary was produced earlier this year, before CERN scientists announced that they have found something that could be the Higgs boson. But it is recent enough to give you the feeling that we are about to have news… and beyond that, it gave me an idea of how that huge organisation – (even logistically) on terms of research, budget, equipment and of course of scope – goes about trying to prove modern physics and mathematics.
William Noel (curator, rare book scholar) makes this fascinating talk on TED about the recent discoveries lying under a byzantine manuscript. As we quickly understand from his speech, in the past it was quite common to re-use paper in order to make new manuscripts. In a byzantine manuscript which was re-discovered in 1906, its then owner found that on some pages, underneath the Christian prayers and illustrations, there was earlier text from… Archimedes! This manuscript was bought at the end of the 20th century by an, obviously wealthy, man whose ambition was to discover, preserve and share this barely surviving treasure.
So the travels of these binded pages in the millenia could be quickly described as various sheets of paper that carry ancient Greek texts by Archimedes and Hypereides, as well as Roman commentary on Aristotle, that manage to survive through the centuries to be reused (written over) and binded into a prayer manuscript during the Byzantine times. In the 21st century this damaged by now book comes into the hands of scientists and scholars who photograph, x-ray, analyze, read through the layers and share the underlying ancient precious texts with the world through the website: Archimedes Palimpsest