Quisquilia: Lib. nov.

Quid autem tanto fortunae strepitu desideratis?

Category: travel

Sickbay for lamps

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Gramercy, Manhattan, NYC. Mar 2016.

Gramercy, Manhattan, NYC. Mar 2017.

The city is a busy place and at the centre of permanent change, the world of unremitting consequence and moving at a fast pace, and this is its engine, the energizer bunny of modern capitalism, the trailblazing wizards of finance and fashions reshaping business, at its core, the bellwethers of progress at its top, pushing social reform ahead hard and fast, or vice-versa, the innovators and custodians of wealth switching ever so often, urban architecture metastasizing and trade trailing the vanguard, feeling a crowd in motion breathing down their neck with a dream (the dream) in sight (and ever so little out of reach), there is no time for popping your toes while making headway, and only little patience for the idle and even less for the less fortunate and the ailing –

Or so it may seem, with even the rodents in Alphabet City in fierce competition for limited resources (endless supplies of food and borrowed opulence and scheduled obsolescence) and proving significant vectors of disease in a rat race of the n-th order, and we haven’t touched on the subject of people yet, and still, even among the busiest of the busy, in the midst of quarterly fluctuation of tenants, retail, business, and fads alike, there is a home for the sick and elderly at this stalwart of hardware and housing supplies, a dependable hub of community relations and neighbourly care among domestic and small appliances and plumbing fixtures, all of which set the background to everyday human interaction and drama.

For nigh on a century this store at the Eastern thoroughfare of Manhattan has offered a shelter and meticulous care for its patients, those with rusty contacts and broken charging cables, and others whose bulbs keep burning out easily with passion and a bang, the flashy ones and the period pieces, the chance findings from a garage sale, a clearance, or Brooklyn Flea, some wooden characters with a crack and a spine and table antiques with expressive lighting and mushroom-shaped shades, then the hapless ones with severed limbs and those who shed their switches or sequined dress a fortnight ago or forty more. Each one is restored with skill and craft, reassembled with polished care and exactitude, reanimated with enough heart to light a family’s home for the days to come and the solemn hours by the bedside, refurbished and repaired so that the gritty streets and their haste must not spill over into the rest at night.

– Here’s to Warshaw’s Hardware. Thanks for your visit!

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Transleatery

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Buddha Bodai, Chinatown, NYC. Apr 2017.

Buddha Bodai, Chinatown, NYC. Apr 2017.

On Monday he ate through 1 apple. But he was still hungry.
On Tuesday he ate through 2 pears, but he was still hungry.
On Wednesday he ate through 3 plums… And went to 77 Mulberry St. in Chinatown.

Kosher Cantonese cuisine with vegan options, as a reviewer put it, in and of itself opens a space of transpositions and permutations with unexpected, plentiful and miraculous – and thoroughly delicious – results, and the same holds true when, upon entering the premises’ facilities, you find in addition to the health-code mandated (and thus standardised) sign requiring employees to wash their hands a note which while carefully translated and designed with perk and playfulness in mind, boasts chock-full of all the challenges contemporary theories of translation are trying to tackle.

But here, this gentle reminder – by an anthropomorphic waste disposal of all things – to leave the sink in the (clean) state you wish to find it in, makes me just smile and think of caterpillars for a moment and then wonder about Ortega y Gasset’s adage traduttore, traditore. Is this a genuine example of translating in the sense Ortega y Gasset proposes or is it rather an act of writing in and of itself: Affable, but firm in principle? Dulce ma risoluto?

To write well is to employ a certain radical courage. Fine, but the translator is usually a shy character. […] What will he do with the rebellious text? Isn’t it too much to ask that he also be rebellious, particularly since the text is someone else’s? He will be ruled by cowardice […] he will betray him. Turn him into a beautiful butterfly.

To get back to the restaurant from which this all originated, I’d like to add: La traducción no es un doble del texto original. Which roughly translates to: While imitation is, no doubt, a form of flattery, in this instance the curious reader is well-advised to go for the audacious re-interpretation. It even has a new title /name.

– Quote from Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Thanks for your visit!

Autobibliophile

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Matadero, Madrid. Mar 2016.

Matadero, Madrid. Mar 2016.

Technicité et sentiment, synchronisme insécable.

Book vending machines – or book-o-mats – are, surprisingly enough, not a particular novelty, cooked up in the Machine Age, and yet they still offer ingenious ways of not only circumventing censorship – as supposedly already did Richard Carlile in Georgian England –, but also, in quite a dialectical fashion, of disrupting consumerism by providing the book as an everyday-article – free from auratic notions of literature – at most unexpected times and places and thus a respite from both modern day’s tenets of efficiency and (self-)optimisation and ubiquitous distraction. Reclam’s persistent success, for instance, as a staple of German literature (and its teaching) is owed to no small degree to its pioneering of automated bookstalls at hubs of public transport, at highly competitive prices. This idea was renewed in 2003 by Berlin’s independent publisher Sukultur with its carefully placed “book drops” for the quick fix in between, by now a series of more than 150 small booklets sufficient for a commute or the time in line in front of a club. As evidenced above, the idea of book disposals for a dime is still alive and kicking: subverting the very same conditions of automatisation and technocracy it uses to spread the beauty of imagination. La arrebatadora – fürs schöner Lesen!

– Quote: Le Corbusier. Thanks for your visit!

Minesweeping

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Zwinger, Dresden. Apr 2015.

Zwinger, Dresden. Apr 2015.

Try to forget this / Try to erase this / From the blackboard.

The minefields were cleared sometimes as early as in 1945, in Dresden and other cities, as attested to by this plaque. And yet, in Dresden and elsewhere all over Germany the corrosive danger of unexploded ordnances is hidden in plain sight. A public discourse that ever shifts for the worse and turns increasingly toxic, painting a difference in opinion as irreconcilable and the Other in stark terms, not in human greyscale. This might be a time, again, when minds start turning into minefields.

But who will be our Chanutin? Thanks for your visit!

Shul of Life

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Neue Synagoge, Dresden. Apr 2015.

Neue Synagoge, Dresden. Apr 2015.

It was / essential // to / develop // the / skill // of / appearing / invisible // to / look / at the ground // slink / around // slide / inside // mix / in the middle // to / work // and / walk // and / sometimes / talk // as / though // you / didn’t / exist.

The synagogues have been rebuilt. New. Sleek. Almost Invisible. But what do you actually know about Jewish history in Germany but ? – Sometimes it seems / as though it did not exist.

– Poem by Lily Brett. Thanks for your visit!

The pull of history

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

St. Paul's Cathedral Museum, Mdina. Sep 2017.

St. Paul’s Cathedral Museum, Mdina. Sep 2017.

Detail: Three historical wooden pulleys.
[W]herever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ, / There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it. / Though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with guide-books looking over it.

– T.S. Eliot. Thanks for your visit!

O Tejo é mais belo…

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Saudade. Cais das Colunas, Lisbon. Dec 2017. Saudade. Cais das Colunas, Lisbon. Dec 2017.

…que o rio que corre pela minha aldeia. (Fernando Pessoa)

There is great longing at the river banks of the Tejo, history nigh impending on the horizons and the remnants of former rule and global reach that speak to you: step forward, immerse / yourself in history and grandeur / can you feel the invite to take on a step or two? / The clear path across / the other shore a mere step or two away / the tempting fate? But in the tired demeanor of a man on his way to or from work there lies a moment of rest, and rest he will – and take a resolute step back then to the trades on Praça do Comércio.

– Thanks for your visit!

Woodwork medieval-style

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Doberan Minster, Bad Doberan. Sep 2014.

Doberan Minster, Bad Doberan. Sep 2014.

Detail of the choir stalls. Ornamental work dating back to ca. 1380.
I cannot shake off the feeling, that there is an owl in hiding.

Thanks for your visit!

Swedish pick-up shoes

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Artillerigatan 49, Östermalm, Stockholm. Jun 2014.

Artillerigatan 49, Östermalm, Stockholm. Jun 2014.

While I spent a few days in Sweden’s capital in early June, the city languishing in the sun, I noticed quite a number of abandoned shoes in Stockholm’s streets, some of them neatly arranged in pairs, more often though a single one on its own, some of them in the most unlikely places, tied to a window grate or footwear slung into a tree top swinging high, some in plain view,

some seemingly set aside just for a bare moment, some having turned over time into a token or rather a faded landmark, a single kid’s green sneaker here, a svelte sandal airing its heel there, each one an unfolding tale or witness to such. It made me wonder about the many reasons to leave behind a shoe or two in the public space…

For measurement, as manifest lagom? Are they to be picked-up eventually? Are they kind gifts for a stranger, charity, or just cheerfully redundant and spotty? A postmodernist wink and nod to contemporary whims? Is the typical Stockholmer a perpetual traveller on the move, his resolve a steadfastness on the go, is he a city slacker? Jag vet inte. – Thanks for your visit!

Wanderlust

Quisquilia: Lib. nov. is to be found here.

Ratskeller im Neuen Rathaus (cellar of New town hall), Untermarkt, Görlitz. Apr 2014.

Ratskeller im Neuen Rathaus (New town hall), Untermarkt, Görlitz. Apr 2014.

Wand’rer / bist hie willkomm / mach hie zum Trunk / Dein Armbein krumb.
(Traveller / be welcome here / & bend your arm / here for a drink.)

Thanks for your visit!