“During the 27 years that Nelson Mandela was in prison, the public never heard his voice. One man who did was Cristo Brand. Brand was one of the prison guards on Robben Island, and over the years he became friendly with Mandela. Brand was given the task of secretly recording and transcribing every prison visit with Mandela and his family. One time Brand brought home one of these cassette tapes to transcribe and forgot to return it to the prison authorities. For two decades, the tape was forgotten in a box in his garage. Brand mentioned the recording when we interviewed him, but it took us months to convince him to let us hear the actual tape….”
“Driven by the design philosophy of ‘more for less’, RICHARD BUCKMINSTER FULLER (1895-1983) worked simultaneously on plans for houses, cars, boats, games, television transmitters and geodesic domes, all of which were designed to be mass-produced using the simplest and most sustainable means possible. ”
“[Van] Cliburn was such a perfectionist and so critical of his own work that after a concert he would console himself by vowing to play those pieces again, after more practice, to improve his performance. He only bowed for applause out of gratitude that somebody was clapping.”
The above drawing and blurb are by our Artist-in-Residence, Flash Rosenberg. She sits at a drawing station during most of our programs and draws the conversations LIVE, then turns them into Conversation Portraits. For instance, she illustrated our May 15 program with Van Cliburn, who is celebrating his 78th birthday today! See more of Flash’s drawings from the evening here… and watch/listen to the full program here…
“I feel that there is much to be said for the Celtic belief that the souls of those whom we have lost are held captive in some inferior being, in an animal, in a plant, in some inanimate object, and so effectively lost to us until the day (which to many never comes) when we happen to pass by the tree or to obtain possession of the object which forms their prison. Then they start and tremble, they call us by our name, and as soon as we have recognised their voice the spell is broken. We have delivered them: they have overcome death and return to share our life.
And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation which that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.”
—Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, which is the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time—his most known work. Happy 141st Birthday, Proust.
“‘What is it you are waiting for here?’ asked K., politely, but the man was startled at being spoken to unexpectedly, which was all the more pitiful to see because the man clearly had some experience of the world and elsewhere would certainly have been able to show his superiority and would not have easily given up the advantage he had acquired. Here, though, he did not know what answer to give to such a simple question and looked round at the others as if they were under some obligation to help him, and as if no-one could expect any answer from him without this help. Then the usher of the court stepped forward to him and, in order to calm him down and raise his spirits, said, ‘The gentleman here’s only asking what it is you’re waiting for. You can give him an answer.’ The voice of the usher was probably familiar to him, and had a better effect than K.’s. ’I’m … I’m waiting …’” —The Trial by Franz Kafka
Happy Birthday to Pearl S. Buck—winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature! She also won the Pulitzer in 1932 for her best-selling novel The Good Earth.
“There was only this perfect sympathy of movement, of turning this earth of theirs over and over to the sun, this earth which formed their home and fed their bodies and made their gods…Some time, in some age, bodies of men and women had been buried there, houses had stood there, had fallen, and gone back into the earth. So would also their house, some time, return into the earth, their bodies also. Each had his turn at this earth. They worked on, moving together-together-producing the fruit of this earth.” —The Good Earth
“There’s supposed to be a mystery but there isn’t. The mystery is as he himself described it, is the mystery is hard work and concentrated work. What Hemingway writes is very simple prose, but the mystery is in the simplicity. The mystery is why is it that another sentence by someone else describing something very familiar does not have an aura or an echo? It’s not journalism, it’s not just description, it’s not just good prose. There is something incantatory, almost sacred, in the kind of effects he gets out of his prose, ordinary words. I think that there is a vibration that enters a prose that is genuine that is something—you may be amused by this—but it’s very close to prayer, it’s very close to ritual, and it’s very close to veneration of language, word by word, that creates that echo that is Hemingway’s style.”