Sunday, July 27, 2014

Person’s Very Being

There is, in London, a painting that moves me as much every time I go and see it. It is a self-portrait painted by the late Rembrandt. His later paintings are usually characterized by an extreme coarseness of stroke, rendering everything subordinate to the expression of the moment, at once shining and sacred, and still unsurpassed in art, with the possible exception of Hölderlin’s later poems, however dissimilar and incomparable they may be—for where Hölderlin’s light, evoked through language, is ethereal and celestial, Rembrandt’s light, evoked through color, is earthy, metallic, and material—but this one painting which hangs in the National Gallery was painted in a slightly more classically realistic, lifelike style, more in the manner of the younger Rembrandt. Old age. All the facial detail is visible; all the traces life has left there are to be seen. The face is furrowed, wrinkled, sagging, ravaged by time. But the eyes are bright and, if not young, then somehow transcend the time that otherwise marks the face. It is as though someone else is looking at us, from somewhere inside the face, where everything is different. One can hardly be closer to another human soul. For as far as Rembrandt’s person is concerned, his good habits and bad, his bodily sounds and smells, his voice and his language, his thoughts and his opinions, his behavior, his physical flaws and defects, all the things that constitute a person to others, are no longer there, the painting is more than four hundred years old, and Rembrandt died the same year it was painted, so what is depicted here, what Rembrandt painted, is this person’s very being, that which he woke to every morning, that which immersed itself in thought, but which itself was not thought, that which immediately immersed itself in feelings, but which itself was not feeling, and that which he went to sleep to, in the end for good. That which, in a human, time does not touch and whence the light in the eyes springs. The difference between this painting and the others the late Rembrandt painted is the difference between seeing and being seen. That is, in this picture he sees himself seeing whilst also being seen, and no doubt it was only the Baroque period with its penchant for mirrors within mirrors, the play within the play, staged scenes and a belief in the interdependence of all things, when moreover craftsmanship attained heights witnessed neither before nor since, that such a painting was possible. But it exists in our age, it sees for us.
From Karl Ove Knausgård's Min kamp. Første bok

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Music

Rolling Stones of the rap game, not braggin
Lips bigger than Jagger, not saggin
Spell it backwards, Ima leave it at that
That aint got nothin to do with rap

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"Ухааны тэнхээг шавхан улс Монголоо хөгжүүлэх түүхэн цаг үе"

Ene helsen yarisniig ni humuus sonsoj, unshdag l bailguy dee...

Өнийн түүхээ өнөөгийн ололтоор бататгаж, өрнөх ирээдүйд улам ихийг бүтээх золбоо, зорилго, зориг бидэнд бий. Эх орныхоо тусгаар тогтнол, эрх чөлөөг нандигнаж, эвийн хүч, Шударга ёсыг эрхэмлэж, үүрэг хариуцлагыг ухамсарлан ухааны тэнхээг шавхан улс Монголоо хөгжүүлэх түүхэн цаг үед амьдарч байгаагаа ямагт санаж дор бүрнээ хичээн зүтгэцгээе.
Монгол Улсын Ерөнхийлөгч Цахиагийн Элбэгдоржийн Үндэсний Их Баяр Наадмыг Хааж Хэлсэн Үг

Thursday, May 01, 2014

"And nobody loves poetry like a Russian"

Жизнь прожить — не поле перейти.
из "Гамлета" Бориса Пастернака ("Стихотворения Юрия Живаго")

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sunday Night Music

The lyrics alone could tell so much about us. If I were a foreigner, I would have studied this music so closely. Nothing captures our essence better than this.
(Please don't forget to check the last part of the rendition. Also Altayn Magtaal might be the only Mongolian music that found its way to a Palestinian film)

Gobbet of the Day

Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
T.S. Eliot - Four Quartets: East Coker

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Passage of the Day

Sometimes I go to sleep thinking of the next morning’s hot coffee in my customary white paper cup. The anticipation makes the sheets seem softer. In my life, I am between landmarks: after childhood, before a book, before marriage and children, all potential. I’ve heard the gambler’s rush isn’t in losing or winning, but the interval between playing and knowing. Coffee is my ritual, my interval, the luminous place between now and what’s next, more arc than landing. It is ubiquitous and legal, solitary and communal. In the morning, when I take a sip, space opens between the molecules; voices and clatter in the café separate into bright, tonal bands. My mind fans open. Fireflies blink in my torso. I take it to go, so I can drink and walk alone in the cool air under the trees on 12th street on my way to work. I savor each sip after the scorch has dissipated, before the cup is loose and lukewarm like a hand in mine.
Lisa Brennan-Jobs on her favorite moment of the day

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Lesson to Learn from the Ukraine Crisis

The Ukraine crisis reminds us that small countries must defend themselves, and cannot rely solely on international treaties or the promises of others. That is why we must always maintain a strong [Singapore Armed Forces] and Home Team. We must also have a capable MFA to strengthen our ties with friends and allies. Only then can Singapore be safe and secure
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's statement on the crisis in Ukraine, which reminds me of my most favorite part in Thucydides' Peloponnesian War:
For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretenses—either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done us—and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that you did not join the Spartans, although their colonists, or that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.
Addendum: If you're too busy to read this passage (wink wink), I guess you could watch this video.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Line of the Day

But waste was of the essence of the scheme.

from Pod of the Milkweed by Robert Frost

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Nostalgia Shop

Once upon a time I was a student of art history...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Levels of Excellence

Sometimes, in your mathematics career, you find that your slow progress, and careful accumulation of tools and ideas, has suddenly allowed you to do a bunch of new things that you couldn’t possibly do before. Even though you were learning things that were useless by themselves, when they’ve all become second nature, a whole new world of possibility appears. You have “leveled up”, if you will. Something clicks, but now there are new challenges, and now, things you were barely able to think about before suddenly become critically important.

It’s usually obvious when you’re talking to somebody a level above you, because they see lots of things instantly when those things take considerable work for you to figure out. These are good people to learn from, because they remember what it’s like to struggle in the place where you’re struggling, but the things they do still make sense from your perspective (you just couldn’t do them yourself).
Levels of Excellence