domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2016

GOWIATH OF GATH WITH HITH HEWMET OF BWATH

Gowiath of Gath, with hith hewmet of bwath,
wath theated one day upon the gween gwath,
when up jumped young David, a thervant of Thaul,
and thaid 'I will thmite thee, although I'm tho thmall.'

Young David then took thmooth thtoneth from the bwook
and fathioned a thing with pietheth of thtring.
He thkilfully thlung one and let the thtone fly
and caught old Gowiath a thmack in the eye.

Gowiath then thwore with might and with main:
'Bwank bwank bwank bwank bwank' and 'bwank bwank' again.
He thwore till awound him the thky wath quite bwue.
He thwore all the old oneth and made up thome new.

Then David thtepped up and dwew out hith thord
as Gowiath gathped hith latht upon the gween thward.
He thtood on hith thoracth and cut off hith head,
and all Ithrael shouted 'Gowiath ith dead.'

Sung to the tune of 'O worship the King' (Hanover), in a very slurred voice, as if drunk.

sábado, 24 de diciembre de 2016

DANGEROUS LIAISONS IN WESTEROS

ALL RIGHT!!!
WINTER SEASON'S GREETINGS (XMAS, YULE/SOLSTICE, HANUKKAH...) TO ALL OF YOU ONCE MORE, DEAR READERS!

And, as usual, here is this year's traditional Westeros fantasy AU.

For this Christmas, I will be doing something completely different from my usual Westeros fairytales, but that still fits the hashtag #OnceUponWesteros.
Rather, this will be a collection of poems inspired by Ovid's Metamorphoses, with various pairings and retellings of the Ovidian stories.

...introduction
"Right, let us begin! And, when we have reached the end
of this story, we'll know so much more..."
Thus does HC Andersen open his Snow Queen.
What will our descendants say about us
after we are deceased?
Which songs shall the children of decades to come sing?
How will they remember us, if they ever remember?
These are stories that have endured for two millennia,
perfectly preserved like bugs encased in amber.
Sing, Muses, of those that came before us,
of hope and despair, of friendship and illusions,
of tragedy and trauma...
of life itself.


...jamais séparés
For Marina Sorel, for both her birthday and Christmas
The Lannisters were proud and clever;
the Starks were righteous and honest.
The Lannisters were blond and green-eyed;
the Starks were dark-haired and blue- or grey-eyed.
The Lannisters thought the Starks were old-fashioned
with those notions of honour and honesty;
while the Starks thought the Lannisters were ruthless,
without any thought not of their own greatness.
It came as no surprise that both Great Houses
had always been at each other's throats,
and even declared war on one another.
Lancel was but a Lannister of a cadet branch,
a nephew to Lord Tywin, yet one could see
by his golden hair and peridot eyes
from which stock he came. Nevertheless,
he was a comely stripling,
without the more mature beauty of Ser Jaime or of
their elders before midlife set in...
Sansa was a hostage brought from the North,
who had just arrived at Casterly Rock:
in spite of having her mother's Tully features
(those aqua orbs, those fire-red locks, those cheekbones...),
one could find she had a Stark's will and mettle,
which, added to her loveliness,
felt like a silk brocade gown concealing steel.
She was given a bedchamber in the same tower
as Ser Kevan's children,
and chance would have it
that there was a hole in the partition wall
between her chamber and Lancel's,
and, on each side, one could see
a bright and friendly eye:
a green orb on the left, a blue one on the right.
As time went by, they grew closer and closer,
putting their faces closer to that hole,
asking one another questions,
as Lancel began to feel a little twinge
for the orphan of enemy stock
and Sansa's heart began to open up
to the stripling of foemen's descent.
And thus, they gradually began
to pour one another's lives into their ears:
it was the same yearning,
the same weariness,
the same warm feelings of youth at heart,
as he listened to her Northern songs
and she watched him go to bed every evening,
not knowing that he was thinking of her,
dreaming of her,
having shed unmanly tears for her misfortunes...
Sansa herself had put into those songs all her sorrows,
her dreams of courtly glory turned to chains and ashes,
and never had she expected a courtier or (worse?) a Lannister
to feel truthfully sorry for her.
So they came to trust each other,
laughing and crying like children once more,
then finding out that it hurt when they parted,
in the middle of the chest and a little to the left.
And they became one another's keeper
of that painful, blazing secret.
Why was he a Lannister and she a Stark?
Or, more importantly,
could their love hold the key to peace at last?
And those were lovely days, and lovely nights,
and lovely twilight hours,
whenever his parents did not find out;
yet all good things must come to an end:
Ser Kevan and Lord Tywin had had a talk
of what to do with the cadet Lannisters;
the stern patriarch had spoken of a calling
within the walls of septs for his eldest nephew
(lest Lancel reached the heights of royalty
which Tywin's own children had risen to);
there was talk of the Great Sept in King's Landing...
As soon as the stripling heard of this plan,
a shudder ran down his spine:
to leave Sansa, and never to make love,
sworn to the Gods for life?
So that evening, pale as a lily-petal,
he told her of what his elders had chosen
so treacherously behind his back:
they would leave for the capital within three days
(whether by land or by sea was not certain yet);
"Rather than offer incense to the Maiden,
I would burn myself for you..."
The Stark girl looked at him, tears in her eyes,
without anyone else within her heart,
and thus, a counter-scheme was forged:
what could Lord Tywin's worldly power do against young love?
Through the breach in the partition, she would receive
a set of his spare clothes,
including a bonnet to hide her copper locks,
and, knowing every passageway within Casterly Rock
(which Lannister children, while playing hide-and-seek,
always caught a rough grasp of),
they would stealthily steal, next evening, for the docks,
and board a carrack bound for Dorne.
That plan was ostensibly flawless;
Sansa got her boy's clothes, and a hairpin of hers
was soon twisted into a lock-pick.
Lancel would also get it, slipped through the gap,
after Sansa was done prying the keyhole.
The next step, their promised land of free love!
And now came the fated evening of the tryst,
and she, already clad in doublet and hose,
having picked the lock and passed the hairpin
to the golden-haired lad,
Sansa stole past the guards, leaned on the wall
and on their spears, lips stained with Dornish red;
knowing they would be drunk,
she set her bonnet right and ran away,
knowing more or less where the docks were,
thanks to Lancel's directions.
Given wings by her youthful enthusiasm,
descending down endless flights of spiral stairs,
she was suddenly startled;
off fell the bonnet, she heard marching steps
and saw lions of gold
glittering in the twilit staircase, approaching.
Was her true self revealed? And what awaited her?
So frightened was Sansa Stark
that she turned around, and, losing her footing,
she suddenly fell backwards,
screaming as she was thrust
reeling down the stairs.
The soldiers, however, did not spot the bonnet;
they just stopped mid-way across the staircase,
turning left, into their barracks,
right as Sansa fell backwards down the stairs.
However, someone heard the scream and the thud of her fall,
and picked up the fine, puffy, scarlet headdress
trimmed with that golden ribbon:
arriving through a shortcut,
a golden-haired stripling, fearing the worst.
"How dare the jealous Stranger wrest her from me?
This fate's not ours by right!
Why did I not come first to save her life?
The fault was neither hers nor mine at heart:
all we were was young folk making mistakes!"
Then, drawing steel, a shortsword he'd taken for self-defence,
at first hesitantly, young Lancel Lannister
plunged it into his own left side as from his lips
sprang foam with a known taste of salt and steel;
the blade soon pierced the left half of the heart,
and the stripling's form reeled downstairs as well,
down to the step where, rising finally,
not feeling her left arm anymore
since it cracked and the pain racked her as if it were torn off
when she fell down the stairs,
fair Sansa Stark heard a thud in the twilight,
and, leaning closer, catching but a glimpse
of golden hair and those lovely features,
his mint-green eyes no longer glittering, and on his lips
a dried-up bloody stain...
a bloodless form, as pale as her childhood snows...
she cradled him only with her right arm,
seeing the pommel of the sword on his left side
(a wound so deep that she knew
his lover's heart was broken twice);
she had expected to see foreign lands
and live anew with Lancel by her side;
yet her dreams were as shattered as her left shoulder;
she dried up her tears on his blood-stained sleeves,
tearing at her Tully-red hair,
kissing his ice-cold, pallid features
while remembering Winterfell...
"He saw the bonnet and heard me fall down,
and thus, left me for dead...
out of chance arose that painful mistake
that filled my love with dread...
So bold it was, I'd never thought that you
should dare to take your life;
let the Maiden give strength to these weak hands
and sever me from strife!"
And thus, wishing their elders could accept
that painful wish of hers,
she drew the sword a little from his side,
and slit her wrists across,
first the left, then the right, across the blade...
No joy or hope was left
for the fair stripling or the red-haired maid
who were, next day, together in state laid,
though he was buried as a Lannister
and her remains by Winterfell and Riverrun
were claimed; at the end of the day,
a decision was made as peace was signed.
Come to Pinkmaiden Castle,
where Westerlands and Riverlands conjoin,
and, within the Pipers' sept, you shall find
a carved stone on the floor, at the Maiden's feet,
with an inscription mourning two young lovers:
"Both alike in dignity,
torn by ancient enmity,
short his and her life.
Love of Lannister and Stark,
tragic, overthrew the dark,
harsh ancestral strife."


...game, set, and match
For Liza Pluijter Izquierdo
Dearest Margaery:
I am writing this letter by a warm fireside,
sucking the quill's end, wrapped in my dark green
officer's pelisse, inlaid with gold lace,
with golden wings on my shoulders
and a single rose on each sleeve;
the mark of a freshly-baked lieutenant.
Perchance this is my last letter to you,
a letter from the war front,
on the eve of the first and maybe last battle that I
have ever fought for real.
I hope you are all right,
that the courtiers or your in-laws do not tear you to shreds,
and that Joffrey will be at least a decent spouse.
After all, he is the heir to the whole realm...
and still, Renly, while still a vassal prince,
was far lovelier and surpassed your bridegroom,
as you know, in all possible ways.
Renly Baratheon, that charming young man,
who never gave his heart to a maiden...
When I first appeared at Storm's End,
sent as a page from Highgarden,
it became as obvious as the light of day
that, with liveliness and loveliness extreme,
I won his heart, and he won mine in return.
What was that throbbing feeling in my left side,
and why did he feel like that as well?
There was no mistake.
Sometimes he would play with my golden curls,
remarking that they were like springs,
or I ran lithe fingers through his straight raven hair,
as my rosy cheeks flushed even more...
Oh, how pleasant conversation,
how lovely string duets,
in the shade of the wisteria arbour,
sometimes crowning one another with its flowers;
while he neglected his lordship duties
and had to be reminded by his guardians
every now and then...
They saw it as friendship; only we knew the secret.
And how far did he send those balls!
Seriously, it was as tennis partners,
whether shirtless or in shirts,
both of us with our hair tied in a queue,
that we had our best afternoons together...
all it took was one of us waving a racket
and winking a friendly eye,
sometimes a honey eye of mine, sometimes Renly's, bright blue,
for the other to understand...
during the match, we forgot everything else...
and then,
after the match, no matter who had won,
all flustered, and thirsty, and burned out,
after having drunk and as our heartbeat had settled,
we went off into the godswood pool,
all glittering with perspiration,
to wash and to refresh ourselves, undressed,
and my curls would turn dark and limp,
and I would trace Renly's chest, his throat, his limbs...
while he washed my back,
that of the little stripling who felt
something stronger than admiration
for his twentyish liege lord.
And then it was my turn to wash his back,
after he'd rubbed my rear clean,
which always made me chortle...
Right, but then came all these concerns,
including that Renly must have a bride,
and I showed him that portrait of you in the locket...
Needless to say, both our households approved
of a Baratheon-Tyrell betrothal.
It was like a story of wishes come true,
yet how often has wish-fulfillment
often taken a turn for the worse,
like the shock of reality
after a wonderful dream?
You know the wedding:
a Friday in springtime,
our friends, our family, Renly's guardians,
all of us in our holiday best
(the bride and groom, in the best of the best,
as well as yours truly, the best man and brother of the bride),
a cool drink of champagne on ice,
and then, a lot of spare time after the wedding
and before the feast...
and the bridegroom excusing himself to relieve himself,
then returning, racket in hand as usual.
I meant... why, I was up for tennis!
And our friends and relatives from the Reach
would surely like to see it from up close,
as well as all those Stormlanders had done...
Right. So I fetched my own racket,
and off we headed for the tennis court.
And, right before, I still remember their encouragement:
for Reacher pride, and to defeat that Stormlander,
and whatever not.
I swear Renly must have been told the same
but in reverse. For Stormlands pride...
Now both of us played that match in shirts,
but still wearing our cravats;
apparently, Renly was too fond of his cravat pin to part with it.
So we were warming up,
and, while I'm tying my queue ribbon,
I notice he's still wearing that cravat, with a golden Reach rose pin...
so stubborn, so headstrong, that I didn't want to say no.
After all, it was a whim on his wedding day!
So, it was Baratheon to serve...
and there I stood, racket ready,
Tyrell returns the ball, now Baratheon,
now Tyrell... I mean, we were all focused
on nothing more... it's just like warfare,
but without casualties;
and then I thought that all wars could be solved
by giving each commander-in-chief a racket...
So the first set is over... now I take his place across the net
and he takes mine in turn (who had won the set?
Little I care, but all I remember
is that it all boiled down to the match point)...
It all gave the impression of a fencing match on stage,
with each one of us striking the ball in turn,
racket always ready,
hop, step, jump, forehand, backhand,
both of us pressed into finding new tricks,
sometimes missing, sometimes throwing
the other off-kilter...
When it all boiled down to the match point,
to break the tie that kept us at one-one...
I mean, it was Tyrell to serve...
it was Tyrell to serve...
and there he was, all tense,
his shirt glued to the skin with perspiration...
and he was still wearing that cravat
with that golden rose pin...
oh, and it was Tyrell to serve...
(At this point, I am wavering)
KYAH!
And there was this rally, not unlike those in the sets before,
and it's Tyrell to...
it's Tyrell with the sun in his face, squinting, at a disadvantage,
the thwack of a racket striking a ball...
yet, instead of the more familiar thwack response,
what came was a thud,
and there, across the net, his grip leaving the racket,
was Renly, lilywhite, reeling as if drunk,
a rosy foam bubbling from his lips,
staining a shirt he'd nevertheless had to change.
And the tennis ball at his feet.
It really made my blood curdle.
Well, I was in such a state of shock...
I just leapt over the net and cradled him as he fell,
as he softly tilted his pale head to the right
like a wilting flower
and a gurgle could be heard inside his chest...
for he could not breathe
and was drowning in his own blood;
I had nailed the cravat pin into his throat!
Once, that hot blood had throbbed in a heart
full of intense love, and passions, and inspiration,
of youthful impulse, rêverie...
until right before that instant.
So cold, so pale, beyond the surgeons' skill,
there he lay, uncannily tranquil,
eyes closed and heart stopping,
right when both of us had all life before us...
and it was my fault,
a heartbreak, a betrayal, beyond reason,
caused by my own right arm... the blame is mine,
if love or zeal in sports could be called guilt...
and, ever since, I have never loved again
or ever wielded a racket ever since.
During my last stay at court,
when he lay in state, in that glass case,
I just couldn't confront the truth.
The shock of reality was too much for
a heart already half-turned to ice.
So, when there was talk of war in the North
against the dark forces that threaten
all the lands of Westeros,
I could not say no.
And so, maybe in fields of gold
in a lovely afterlife,
Renly Baratheon will not have to wait,
and he will surely forgive what I have done.
Keep your dearest brother, dearest Margaery,
within your heart, like I keep Renly
until a gunshot or a bayonet
finally bridges the distance across us.
Put your bravest face on at the royal court,
and never let them grind you down
or eat you alive.
I know you can play it like a primadonna.
Yours truthfully and sincerely,
your brother and your late husband's love,
Lieutenant Loras Tyrell.


...two halves of a whole
Dearest Jaime!
I am writing this letter with a wavering pen,
not thinking aught but of you...
though we are siblings,
we are no longer children,
and a kiss means no longer the same...
neither does an embrace...
neither does "I love you..."
The Targaryen royals that came before us
have, after all, always married that way,
brother-husbands to sister-wives,
and so have done the Warrior and the Maiden...
why should we Lannisters not do as gods
or kings and queens?
The Maiden herself seems to have decreed
that your heart should be mine and mine be yours...
I am sitting in a room hung with gilded mirrors
all over the walls,
yet none of their reflections please me at all;
I am longing for my reflection of flesh and blood...
I feel so cold, so lonely, on my own...
Though I feel so ashamed of telling you my name,
and I leave it to you to solve the riddle...
surely, you may find out who wrote this letter
in her own blood, from a broken heart,
leaving her bled-dry face as pale as ice,
drying up her tears for them not to strike the ink...
that's too vast an ocean for these peridot orbs.
How often has this broken heart sighed...
Remember how I would clasp your slender waist,
and steal a kiss from those parted lips?
Though we are siblings,
we are no longer children,
and a kiss means no longer the same...
neither does an embrace...
neither does "I love you..."
Yet my heart is still ablaze,
a searing fever keeps me awake for nights...
The Maiden be my witness,
I tried to claim the reason wrested from me
by these passions, yet my struggle was in vain;
so I flew, for a white flag, this blank sheet
ere I bled ink right there, right here...
Captive and disarmed, I fall at your feet,
rather collapsing than bending the knee,
pleading for mercy and telling you the truth.
Only you, dear reader, can win or lose me,
and you're free to decide, Ser Jaime.
Thus pleads someone closer to you
than anyone else,
wishing to tighten the tie that binds the two of us
even more, so your skin joins my skin...
Let elder lords choose right and wrong in laws;
we are young, and our summer calls for frenzies,
to quench our thirst with forbidden fruit!
Still young as we are,
no longer children, not yet grown up,
the world is our oyster,
nothing is wrong and everything is right
(or at least feels right).
Neither our stern lord father nor the whispers at court
will ever stop us;
should there be a suspicion, why should they wonder
in seeing the Lannister siblings kiss one another?
I have the right... no, rather full powers
to speak to you alone, to clasp your waist,
to steal even a peck from your lips...
How long until we move to darker games?
Feel mercy upon the author of this confession,
real mercy (not the one you always pretend in jest),
since she would never write it if not seared
by such a blaze; and never feel
the guilt of your name written on my grave;
why would a Kingsguard of all men ever bring
about such a tragedy?
Yours truthfully and sincerely,
Someone you know well, yet a stranger to your heart.


...Mère Courage
The eldest daughter of Riverrun,
after wedding the Lord of the North,
had every reason to be proud
of her loving lord husband
and their five trueborn children;
five like the fingers of a hand,
like the arms of a seastar,
like the petals of a jasmine flower.
And Lady Catelyn was proud of them all,
for one reason or another,
as proud and loving as any mum should be.
Robb, the eldest,
was a dashing young man,
with flashing azure eyes
and a heart full of bravery:
the Warrior incarnate, in sooth.
He married for love
and lost his head for that decision
at the Freys' wedding.
Second came Sansa,
the fire-haired and rosy bluebird,
whose voice spoke of skill in music;
always yearning for a more exciting life
since Winterfell had become too narrow...
the lovely maiden's wish at length came true,
but the constraints of courtly life
became a corset and a gilded cage.
Third was Arya, the wild black cat,
the polar opposite of her older sister;
always messy-haired and up to something...
who thought that, after her father's execution,
when she vanished into thin air,
her mother would also miss her?
Fourth was Brandon, or Bran for short,
always climbing treetops and walls
to feed the crows and the pigeons...
it came, therefore, as no surprise,
that he should lose his footing and fall,
and, though alive, be a broken boy,
his legs no longer carrying him.
And fifth and youngest was Rickon,
who had just been weaned, and thus,
was literally the closest one to Catelyn's heart.
She's neither heard of Bran nor Rickon
since the fall of Winterfell,
when their home was taken by storm.
Now who can paint the sorrow
of a mother who has lost her children?
There is no blood left in her heart.
She's but a shadow of her former self.
The heart of the home, the blooming bride...
both of them are long gone.
No tears left in the lady's eyes, she cannot bleed:
her heart is now of stone.


...the girl in the black one-piece
When the foreign child came to Winterfell,
a wartime orphan taken in for charity's sake,
the Starks had only had Robb and Jon Snow,
two boys about the age of the little foreigner.
Eddard Stark had found the waif alone,
in a ruined holdfast, on the war front,
during that repression on the Iron Islands,
without anyone near, so young that his memories
were as hazy as the battlefield itself.
At first, Catelyn winced; "First, you bring me Jon,
and now, yet another frontline dalliance?"
Quite unexpectedly, she understood that her husband
was actually telling her the truth;
and, from on then, the foreign waif, Theon, was raised
with the Stark children as one of them...
yet, deep inside, he understood, as he grew up,
that somehow he didn't fit in.
Even Jon Snow himself was more Stark-ish than Theon,
the latter with shiny black eyes like beads of obsidian
and dark hair sleek, without a single curl.
It was also as plain as his foreign features
that, upon reaching the closing threshold of childhood,
he already towered over both Jon and Robb,
and was far more slender of both shoulders and waist,
even though he devoured and quaffed his supper
and his training was rarely over;
his strength burned out way later than his brothers'.
For every day, the stripling felt more left out,
no matter how many snowball fights and races
against Robb, or how much chaperoning Sansa
seemed to be part of his short life,
or how much wit shone in his eyes and the corners of his smile,
making the maids swoon at the dashing Theon's comments;
there was always the feeling
that his rightful place was not at Winterfell,
that it was elsewhere.
He was but eighteen when he went forth
in pursuit of his rightful place,
without horse or carriage, on his own,
in his finest doublet and puffy breeches,
his raven hair whipping his back in a queue,
the longsword scabbard on his left thigh,
heading westward, towards the coast,
since his first memories were of the seaside...
would he find a clue there?
However, he had still a bit to get to the North coast
when one day everything dawned for him:
his surname, and how he, for so short time a man,
would become a boy once more.
Or maybe even not a boy, but a non-human thing...
The pool had been hewn out by glaciers
long time ago, surely during the Long Night.
It shimmered like a sheet of steel,
its icy coverlet cracked at some points,
surrounded by heather in autumn bloom,
like an ocean of purple buds...
Hither the young man, thinking to rest,
was instantly drawn one equally clear day,
enticed to refresh his throat and his face,
reeling, and drenched with perspiration:
drinking as deeply as he quaffed life itself,
enjoying the cold shock
in his throat, on his face, upon his sleeves...
resting his weary limbs on the ripe heather,
just resting like that, on his own,
when she came, a maiden as tall and dark,
clad in what looked like a black one-piece suit,
taking bold strides towards the frightened young man...
In the horizon, a black flag fluttered
from a half-crumbled holdfast;
she came closer, winking a wistful eye
as black as darkest midnight,
and her features were just like his own.
Though her hair was cut short, just like a boy's,
one could tell by her ripe bosom and lean waist
that it was a she;
and lean, and tall, and sharp of features was she.
And, closing in, as she came to drink herself,
she called him by his name...
"Theon! Is that really you?"
Though he could not remember her,
still she seemed familiar,
winking an eye with that same witty smile...
She said she could use some glad company;
after all... Esgred... Estrid... she gave an ironborn name,
as they now stood face to face...
he clasped her in his arms, yet, as she bent for a kiss,
his face retreated awkwardly;
it didn't seem quite right.
"L-leave m-me al-lone!" he stammered, wavering
for the first time in a short life.
The ironborn maiden said,
in response, chortling slightly:
"Theon... how dare you... what happened to you
when those landlubbers came?
Don't tell me they raised you as their own,
you pansy, you fool of a pansy!
Look at the heir of the Iron Islands...
So costly dressed as a princess bride!
No surprise that the brother shuns his sister like this...
Wonder what your parents, our parents, will have to say!"
And Theon just stood speechless.
So he was not an orphan after all,
yet perchance it would have been better
than having one's parents alive, yet unforgiving...
She resumed her tirade, her fingertips
latched onto his shoulders like sucker cups,
and her arms, like a cephalopod's, tying up his slender waist:
"Besides, don't tell me you do not remember;
my name's not Esgred, or Estrid...
there was this little girl called Asha-Yara...
Asha-Yara Greyjoy,
and yes, that's your surname, you pansy!"
No reply.
He was in such a state of shock...
That little girl, on those cliffs, whom their real mother, Alannys, tore away
into the keep as the enemy marched through the village...
that little girl who looked just like he did...
and five-year-old Theon left behind, all alone, in the crossfire...
Recalling those first memories...
and his whole world falling apart.
No longer a Stark, yet neither raised
for being an ironborn,
one of the wicked enemies across enemy lines,
whether at home on Pyke or at home at Winterfell.
So he ran away,
pursued by his sister and the men she led,
hardy seamen with hearts as hard as their axe-blades...
In comparison, he was but a stripling,
supple, brittle, clad in brocade,
yet sharing their same features and the same blood...
part of both households, and yet of neither one...
Right when he could no longer breathe at all,
at the twilight of the last day,
as they closed in, someone waved, beckoning,
into the darkness under ground;
he had no choice but to follow,
no matter how dreadful the fate
that within the Dreadfort did await.
Tied to a cross on all four of his limbs,
to weary to writhe for his freedom,
ere he shut downcast eyes,
the last thing he saw was the flash of a blade
careening towards the excess between his legs.
A short, sharp shock.
He would not awaken within days,
and, when he did, he would realise
that his wish had come true for better or worse:
that he was no longer Theon Greyjoy, neither Theon the waif,
not even a man anymore.


...Atropa belladonna
For Lidia Lucía Franco (Lidia de Tinta)
The berries were cherry-sized, shiny black as midnights,
standing out against a platter as white and round
as the full moon.
Still, Sansa, as she put the first one to her lips,
had already forgotten the name of that fruit,
the fruit of the fair ruthless lady,
whose scientific name, if translated into French,
would yield "la belle dame sans merci".
The strong sharp flavour made her wince,
and so down her throat that capsule of darkness
plunged effortlessly,
followed by a second, a third, a fourth.
How long had she been kept at the Dreadfort,
the scene of her childhood nightmares,
ever since the dark rider in a face-concealing cloak
had uprooted her like a rosebush
as she picked daffodils during a pause, en route for King's Landing?
Here, the windows were narrow and draped in black,
leaving only the thinnest threads of light within,
and rendering the thought of day and night impossible.
In he came, her captor, the Bolton boy --not yet a man,
no matter how serious his pastimes,
though he had never flayed her alive,
but rather taken her into his bedchamber every night
right from the dungeons
and fed her some of those midnight berries
that made her heart race out of her chest,
her eyes fill with tears,
her speech become slurred and her limbs falter,
as if she were drunk.
And, little by little, the things she knew,
her parents, her friends, her dreams,
even Arya when she got annoying,
faded away into oblivion,
as she saw her dreams become reality,
dire holdfast walls turned to grand palace halls
full of high officers and court ladies,
and Ramsay as a prince... no, maybe a boy-king
in full regalia, showering her with attention
in that ostentatious ballroom,
and in a canopy bed with drawn silk curtains.
Though nought of this was real except within the mind's eye
of the drugged, entranced maiden.
Not even the Stranger knows
what had watered those bushes...
She was his sole content and respite
after all the sorrows he'd been through,
all the rage he needed to free,
lashing at others with the same thorns
that once at his heart had torn...
Though others were his playthings, she was not...
Queen of the Dreadfort, at a court of flogged
maids and eunuchs, where the light dares not
enter; a bride half-dead and half alive,
pale, pining away, yet full of elation.
Would she run out into the light
and shy away from her captor
if she ever found out the truth?


...pitch-and-toss
Her whole frame tensed like springs under pressure,
awaiting the starting gun,
ready to spring up at once at the gunshot
that could come any second;
she would only settle for gold.
A blaze of fiery curls tied into a queue,
then upwards into a half-topknot,
glittered in the summer sun
like a fire in the nighttime;
every ligament, every vein in her freckled limbs,
in both her arms and her legs, as if chiselled,
throbbing with tension... her face already so flustered
that the intense flush of excitement made the freckles vanish...
Looking over her shoulder, just for an instant,
she caught a glimpse of her opponent,
that raven-haired and pale young man, with that
fine moustache, his own messy curls done in a queue,
seeming to pierce her, to sound her, with those steel-gray eyes...
Looking down again, she shut her eyes
and concentrated on the crowd of supporters:
"Y-GRITTE! Y-GRITTE! Y-GRITTE!"
her name was being cheered to the rhythm
of her own heartbeat,
and that encouragement was usually
needless to give her wings;
but now she needed it more than ever;
yet she could also hear them calling for his sake:
"JON SNOW! JON SNOW! JON SNOW!"
Could this be the day that made her or unmade her;
her Waterloo, Poltava, or something like that?
Ygritte felt at least the stabbing gut feeling
of her first defeat,
yet she coldly shook it off.
After all, was she running away
from commitment as usual?
In that case, it was a flight forwards
(ironic as the expression might seem),
reinforcing her own independence,
not to lose her own self to another,
and celebrating that she'd left them behind
--the only female who competed in those races,
and for a good reason:
other girls had always been out of her league,
their strides too short, their hearts not as hot-blooded
as Ygritte's own.

CRYSTAL QUEEN PROJECT XIV: LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE

"Right, let us begin, and when we have reached the end of the story, we shall know much more than we already know!"
This is one of my favourite literary beginnings. In fact, it shares first place with Dickens's "best of times, worst of times" opening on my list ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only"). And that is because of their staying power; these two openings can be used to introduce practically any interesting tale because they can be applied to a practically limitless panoply of diverse settings and characters. There's no two children swimming in the stream, no fiftyish hidalgo living somewhere in La Mancha and eating a little more beef than mutton, no Mrs. Reed who makes the children stay indoors on a rainy, stormy evening... these two story openings at the start of this article deal with knowledge, ignorance, optimism, pessimism, -not with any concrete places, characters, or historical periods- and Andersen even breaks the fourth wall by announcing that the story is about to begin.
And thus, this opening line can be applied to the creation of this very project as well. An open love letter to my native land and to Suchwanderung tales, to my favourite musical genres... a postmodern update of the Andersen tales rife with intertextuality... but now let us zoom out, out of it all, and have a peek at the bigger picture. And look at the whole puzzle once it has been finished in the middle of the throne room. Dumas's expanded adaptation had the puzzle represent a sun; the Gakken bunraku version, a rose; various illustrators and filmmakers, a heart; the Fairytaler Egmont 2009 two-part episode version, an ouroboros; my epic Voltaire-style literary tale The Apple, the Pear, and the Plum, a pair of wings (Just like most graphic versions have the mirror shard enter Kai's left eye, some have it plunge into the right, and a rare cluster have the fatal crystal gulped or breathed in down his throat.
It is this diversity that allows each version of the story to be slightly different from the others). No matter what the puzzle represents, it is by finishing it, and then by returning home as young adults, that our two young leads finally recognize that they have come of age.
The original Andersen tale ends like this:

 But Gerda and Kai went hand-in-hand towards home; and as they advanced, springtime appeared more lovely with its green verdure and its beautiful flowers. Very soon they recognized the large town where they lived, and the tall steeples of the churches, in which the sweet bells were ringing a merry peal as they entered it, and found their way to their grandmother’s door. They went upstairs into the little room, where all looked just as it used to do. The old clock was going “tick, tock,” and the hands pointed to the time of day, but as they passed through the door into the room they perceived that they were both grown up, and become young adults. The roses out on the roof were in full bloom, and peeped in at the windows; and there stood the little chairs, on which they had sat when children; and Kai and Gerda seated themselves each on their own chair, and held each other by the hand, while the cold empty grandeur of the Snow Queen’s palace vanished from their memories like a painful dream. The grandmother sat in the bright sunshine, and she read aloud from the Bible, “Except ye become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And Kai and Gerda looked into each other’s eyes, and all at once understood the words of the old song,

Roses bloom and cease to be,
but true love is always free
.” 

And they both sat there, grown up, yet children at heart; and it was summer,—warm, beautiful summer.

However, Alexandre Dumas's French translation/adaptation from the German goes the extra mile by ending like this (my own translation from the French): 

"Little Kai recognized the gate through which he had left, the streets through which he had passed, and, in the end, they stood in the threshold of two familiar townhouses. 
They climbed up Gerda's staircase and entered her grandmother's room. Everything was still in its place. The clock tick-tocked and told the time; it was only upon coming face and face with the mirror that they realized that Kai had become a dashing young man, and Gerda a beautiful maiden. The roses were still in full bloom in their boxes, and, next to the window, their little childhood chairs could be seen. 
Kai and Gerda sat down. They had forgotten the past like one forgets a bad dream, and it seemed to them that they had never left home.

ight then, the grandmother returned from church service, her storybook in hand. She greeted the dashing young man and the fair maiden, and, since she was not able to recognize them, so much had they changed, she asked for their names. 
And thus, both of them sang to her the song they once had learned: 


'The roses are in blossom in the vale...


The grandmother burst into a cry of joy: she had recognized the dashing youth and the beautiful maiden as Kai and Gerda. 
The next day, the bells whose sound they had recognized long before they had seen the towers were pealing for their marriage. 
Ten months later, the same bells pealed once more for the christening of the loveliest little twins: one was called Kai after his father; and the other, Gerda after her mother." 


This is actually a far longer expansion that ends with both of them as newlyweds and young parents, right before midlife sets in, like a conventional happy ever after.
My own more faithful rewriting of The Snow Queen, the so-called "Glenrose version," goes even further than Dumas's:

"When you pass through Glenrose, why don't you visit us?" Kai asked the reformed outlaw maiden. And Yrsa promised so, and she also showed them shortcuts through the woodlands and meadows of the kingdom, where a magnificent springtime increased for each and every day in flowers and in warmth, until she took her leave of them, teary-eyed and smiling, on the edge of a valley where a quite familiar spire towered over a cluster of pumpkin-orange eaves. And they heard five bell peals ring to a quite familiar tune: it was Glenrose, their native town, the place where both good friends were born and raised!
Gerda and Kai entered through the North Gate and ambled up the streets through which they had once left. Within an instant, they were finally on their own street, at the door of Gerda's place. The rose arch on the balcony had never been in such full bloom.
Everything was just like it had been before, and there was nothing new under the sun. The old cuckoo clock tick-tocked at the same old steady pace. Only upon peering into the little mirror did they realise that now they were young adults, good-looking and clever-eyed.
The roses were in bloom as usual on the balcony, and, from the window, one could see two child-sized chairs that they had already grown out of. 
Kai and Gerda sat down on those chairs. They had forgotten the past as if they had awakened from a long dream, and it seemed that they had never left home at all. Holding one another's hands, he looked into her green eyes, and she looked into her friend's blue eyes, and both of them realised the meaning of the song:

"Roses bloom and cease to be,
but true love is always free."

Then, Granny returned from church, hymn-book in hand, and she did not recognise the good-looking young people until Gerda and Kai sang their song once more:

"Roses bloom and cease to be,
but true love is always free."

The old lady shouted with glee and cried for joy as she embraced them, recognising her own granddaughter and said granddaughter's best friend.
There were both of them, all grown up and yet children at heart, and it was a day in springtime, the warm, lovely fair season.

A fortnight later, the tower bells whose sound they had recognised from afar were pealing for their marriage.
Nine months later, when the Snow Queen returned southward at the head of her army and coursed through the streets of Glenrose, the same bells pealed once more for the christening of the loveliest little twins: one of them named Kai just like his father, and the other named Gerda after her mother.
It would be impossible to tell of all the moments of happiness spent by this hopeful young family: moments of adventure like their assistance at the coronation of Queen Frederica and Prince Consort Frederick, or the twin children's baptismal celebration, or visits from the ever restless and bold traveller Yrsa; and everyday moments full of emotion such as the funeral of the beloved grandmother or the great adventure of being parents of their two own children.
We must say that, every winter, the Snow Queen peered in through the windowpanes on a certain street in a certain town in a certain kingdom, to behold the only one who had warmed her icy heart and made her feel what pain was like. She saw him happily married and father of two, cozily snuggled up with his loved ones by the fireside, and she thought of how irrational and unworthy of her it had been to fall for that young mortal, who was made for the life he currently led.
Gerda and Kai lived for a long time together in that land, without any tension with their children, who played during the warm seasons in the shade of the rose-bushes of yore, or in their relationship. To quote the old Bohemian proverb, they lived until they died with winter at the door, summer in the cupboard, autumn in the cellar, and springtime within their hearts.

Now The Crystal Queen, being an ultra-condensed and realistic postmodern update instead of this Victorian fantasy retelling, just ends with both our heroes holding hands at the frog pond --that pool, that "alberca" or "ranera" at the UJI's Jardín de los Sentidos that inspired me to write the tale-- while realising the meaning of this highly optimistic Shakespeare quote (Shakespeare instead of the Gospel of Matthew and/or Brorson!), whose very last verses are GOOD IN EVERYTHING. And it ends right there, letting the curtain fall while hinting at the disenchantment that comes with midlife. This ending is basically a carpe diem while retaining the exhortation to remain children at heart: enjoy the fish, the frogs, the water, the lilies, the papyri, the breeze, the sun, good literature while you can, while there is still a shred of enchantment left in your heart. While the words GOOD IN EVERYTHING apply to you.
I wrote this tale while, among other things, dealing with a depressive and stressed-out mother. Suddenly, the old Snow Queen story grew new life, took on new meanings. I also recalled the depressives, "people who constantly bewept a sorrow that they could not give a name," ("sådana, som ständigt gräto över en sorg, som de inte kunde ge namn" in original Swedish; "solche, die beständig über einen Kummer weinten, dem sie keinen Namen zu geben wußten" in the German translation) in Selma Lagerlöf's Passion legend "The Shroud of Veronica," who break into a King Lear-like frenzy when they are told that Pilate has just killed the man who would restore their missing soul and reason: "in despair, they began to wound themselves, until blood flowed on the pavement" ("och i sin förtvivlan började de sarga sig själva, så att blodet flöt på stenarna" in original Swedish; "sie begannen in ihrer Verzweiflung sich selbst zu zerfleischen, bis ihr Blut auf den Boden troff" in the German translation). The impact of the fact that depression is incurable for good, and that hearing the death wishes of a person I adore, often in response to slights I have done without that intention, but also often due to collapsing under the pressure that life puts upon her... it makes me feel powerless. You cannot uproot the mirror shard for good in that case --a grieving person stranded in the fourth stage of grief, having to cope with trauma--. So I also noticed that her case, and my grandmother's case of depression, and many other incurable ones, are in midlife... so I determined to make the most out of my youth before this finite resource known as healthspan --both physical and mental/emotional-- dwindles. The peak comes right in the thirties of life, in fact. This story, The Crystal Queen, is an exhortation, in part, to make the most out of the warm seasons of our lives before the cold seasons begin.
It is also a cautionary tale about drugs --the mirror shards are replaced with crystal meth, the witch's cherries with marijuana, the villainess's surname, Schierling, means Hemlock in German--. Chemistry replaces the mind-control magic of yore. All supernatural elements --a talking sun, animals, and plants; a flying carriage; the aforementioned Mirror of Truth-- are replaced with more realistic equivalents (vox pops, a convertible, crystal meth; respectively), this being a fairytale of the new millennium.

viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2016

THE CROWN OF TWELVE STARS

The Crown of Twelve Stars


Disclaimer: This is an analysis of the EU symbol according to my own opinion.

The heart chakra is green; the colours of the European Union's visual symbol make up green, a neutral colour made by combining deep blue and golden yellow, impulse and reason, power and knowledge, fire and ice, as one. The concordia discors of two complementary halves of a whole becoming one. Lava quenched by water becoming fertile soil, as fiery golden and icy blue become life-giving, hopeful green. This may, to put an easy example, stand for the Protestant North and the Catholic South joined together: not the discourse of power or that of knowledge, but both of them united as the discourse of LOVE. No longer ruled by one's gut or one's mind, but by one's heart. Returning to the blissful state of children at heart, before the trappings of either logic/reason or so-called serious fun, or both, corrupt our souls. Finding the middle way rather than the far left or far right, both equally destructive.
Furthermore, this fourth chakra of love is represented as a twelve-petalled green flower containing a Star of David. Not only does the Crown obviously encompass twelve stars arranged in a circle at equal length, but these can be connected to make a star dodecagon pattern composed of two overlapping Stars of David.
No matter how many the member states, the stars will always be twelve, a symbol of perfection and fulfillment. There are and were twelve Olympians, twelve disciples, twelve zodiac signs, twelve months... and even chicken eggs are sold by the dozen and/or half dozen.
The sixth card of the Major Arcana, The Lovers, closes a circle. So does the twelfth card, The Hanged One. The former deals with the theme of choices, emotions, and free will; the latter with that of sacrifice, staying true to oneself, and a worldview U-turn. Both of these thematic constellations coincidentally mirror one another.
The unstruck or innocent chakra is ruled by Venus, which is represented by, among other symbols, the pentacle (the usual child's "star" or "starfish" five-pointed shape). All twelve stars of the Crown are such pentacles. Furthermore, the sephirah of Venus is Netzach, Victory (for more info see Venere splende!, my article on Othello as the symbolic story of the breaking and reforging of relational bonds), Victory over "was die Mode streng geteilt", not wrought by brute force or by calculating scheming, but rather by affectionate sharing and linkage/connection.
The Crown of Twelve Stars represents the metaphysical heart, the eye of the storm, the concord of the diverse. We always have this "unstruck, unhurt, innocent" part of us that we can return to, even in the midst of our troubles.

CRYSTAL QUEEN PROJECT XXIII - THE HEART CHAKRA

jueves, 22 de diciembre de 2016

MY OWN MOTTOES (DERMARK HOUSE WORDS?)

WHEN NOTHING GOES RIGHT, GO LEFT.
ONLY DEAD FISH SWIM WITH THE STREAM.
CARPE DIEM.
REALISTS MAY RULE THIS WORLD, BUT OPTIMISTS HAVE PAVED THE WAY.
IT'S NOT ME THAT IS SCREWED UP; IT'S SOCIETY.


NO EXPORT FOR YOU!? OR WHAT...

I was lucky to get the third Waterfire novel in Warnemünde, Mecklenburg, Germany last summer. Now it's on to getting the finale, which sadly will be a bit of a challenge due to the fact I got banned from foreign holidays (unjustly, long unfair story), I'm the only child of a loving mother, but mostly because Planeta pear-shaped the Waterfire Saga in Spain because of this trope:

No Export for You

This is when a work was not released in a country even though there were good reasons to export it there. It has to meet at least one of the following conditions:
  • It is part of a franchise which has previously proven to be successful in other regions (e.g. Sailor Moon).
  • It was made with the specific intention of being sold overseas (e.g. Sin and Punishment).
  • Its genre and/or sensibilities make it the sort of thing that would be exported in the absence of foreign fans clamouring for it.
The Waterfire Saga fits all three conditions.

But, just because a Vocal Minority believes something from abroad should be released for them, doesn't mean their country is a viable market. The distributors have to think of the money.

So it can be the reason a work isn't released is problems with other parties who worked on it wanting too much money, or being unable to get permission for some of the included songs, or deciding it's too much trouble (or there's considered not enough money to be made in a release) to justify going to the effort and trouble to work out all of the necessary clearances.

May also invoke Screwed by the Network if it's only later seasons of a show that is not being exported and the show has been taken off the air in said markets where the show had been screwed, which may result in a case of Keep Circulating the Tapes.

Indeed, the real culprit in the Spanish/Italian Waterfire case is not Planeta -- but CAPITALISM. The INVISIBLE HAND of the law of supply and demand, as Adam Smith would say.
And here's when I take a little turn to the left.










Yet, considering the implications of both systems, capitalism is the Scylla to five-year-planning's Charybdis.
(For those who don't get the reference to classical myth; Scylla guards the right shore of the strait and ensures you will lose a certain number of men; Charybdis guards the left shore and is a maelström that sucks in all or nothing... and nothing is the outcome in the rarest cases).

Well, maybe this is a self-centered faux-left turn caused by a member of a vocal minority interested in fairytale/early modern fantasy. After all, finding the final Waterfire book outside the Protestant North is a Herculean task compared to, let's say, catching a wild Vaporeon in Pokémon Go! Or a Shiny Dunsparce, for that matter.

Still, with today's primary distribution point being online for music (iTunes, Amazon), games (Steam), movies (Netflix), books (Amazon)and television (Hulu), you gotta wonder about the motivation behind regionally restricted release when manufacture and shipping costs simply don't apply.

After all, Amazon... well, let's say I have always been a bit of a shopping Luddite, even though I now have got a card of my own.

  1. Maybe because of sheer impatience; Instant Home Delivery of printed books is something that only exists in fiction as an Acceptable Break from Reality: 

  1. 1. Instant Home Delivery: When you buy something, it shows up instantly or at least much faster than in Real Life. Waiting for a month for backorders is already frustrating enough in real life, so why would that be included in a game intended to be enjoyed?
  2. Maybe because of the never-to-be-underestimated force of custom (usus tyrannus, the Romans already said). 
  3. Maybe because shipping costs will be added to the prize of the novel. 
  4. And maybe because of my own privacy concerns and fear of giving personal information on the Net in the paying form (what if someone finds out my name, ID number, physical address. et al, and uses these data for sinister purposes?). 
In fact, the real reason for my shopping Luddism is all four of them above.
Seeing the film Storks and regarding how it depicts online shopping (In that film, basically the premise is that the baby-delivering storks are bereft of their usual duties to do Instant Home Delivery for online shopping sites... until two human orphans, a teen and a baby, step into the picture... I won't spoil the ending, but merely give you a clue that it's a pretty pungent and precise satire of online shopping!) confirmed my shopping Luddism even more.

Add this only child's mama hen who would rather jump off a viaduct that see me travel on my own, friendless and unchaperoned, from my hometown of Castellón to the Ruhrgebiet... and you get another hurdle.

Very many shopping malls are in decline (so-called "dead malls") with competition from [···] online shopping  

So I'll still cross my fingers and hope for: 
1) my dad to gift me the book from Amazon
2) an order at Argot to be made and succeed ---Shiny Dunsparce chance, but who dares wins!
3) to get a chaperone --maybe mum herself-- to escort me to the Ruhr ---snowball's chance in Purgatory...
No Export For You / Literature
  • The Norwegian series Phenomena has only been released in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany. It sells well in both Norway and Germany, but still no word of it ever to be given out in other countries.
  • Another Norwegian series Halvgudene has only been translated into Icelandic.

There is a Waterfire wiki, but no trope page (see here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/TheWaterfireSaga).


Though the Waterfire Saga uses so many tropes that there SHOULD be a trope page, right?
To quote a few: Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, Gotta Catch 'Em All, Aloof Ally, Love Makes You Evil, Magical Girl Warriors, Bastard Bastard, More Than Mind Control, Careful What You Wish For, Rage Against the Heavens... the list is endless.
Three words: SHINY BLOODY SMEGMA!!!

Maybe a dooming factor in the Spanish/Italian perception of the Waterfire Saga happens to be this sort of Public Medium Ignorance:

Girl Show Ghetto

Mainly, the Double Standard most people have regarding media: that women's entertainment should only be enjoyed by women with no crossover allowed — despite it being okay for women to watch shows primarily marketed towards men — keeping in mind most media is male-focused. Not to mention the stigma that media specifically tailored for women is 100% guaranteed to be of inferior quality, no exceptions.
Women-targeted entertainment has a reputation of being worse than other shows. Common criticisms are that women's media is overly touchy-feely, simplistic, poorly-written, and shallow. This is mostly due to the aesthetics of the media (and not to mention a lot of it is fashion-based). The men can be the badass heroes and problem solvers who go on questsbut women don't do much except entangling themselves in their relationships and wallowing in a soup of hormonal emotions.
Actually, the Waterfire books are a feminist fantasy saga that subvert these stereotypes. And this Girl Show Ghetto perspective led to Waterfire slumping in Romance languages half-way across the saga. While Germany and Denmark have completed the saga. 

Compare this to the similar case of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Not a girl-show, but actually unisex, with an interesting equal-opportunity cast (aside from a Lemony Narrator that hearkens back to the nineteenth century and inspired Yours Truly's narrative style). Suddenly interrupted in Spain, where the last book released was The Hostile Hospital, but which was completed to the very last book, The End, the very last out of 13, in Germanic languages (German, Danish, and Swedish to name three).
Similarly, all three Monster Blood Tattoo books were released in the Anglosphere; second book Lamplighter (introducing both Winstermill [the Academy of Adventure setting, a monster-hunting cadet boarding school] and Threnody Vey [IMOHO, a really badass female character and a true predecessor to Merida Dunbroch of Brave fame]) was released in Sweden and Germany, unlike the trilogy finale Factotum; while the Spanish edition (in detriment of hardass Threnody fans like Yours Truly) never made it past the first book.
The 2010s Little Prince graphic novels and DVD'd episodes were all of them published in France; their Spanish translations halted release after The Planet of the Astronomer, volume 5 out of 24, leaving a lot of exciting adventures which had been screened in Spain never to get a printed (or, for that matter, a DVD) release in the same country and in many others.

Yes, there have been critics ranting and raving against the Waterfire Saga and Monster Blood Tattoo; just like my favourite Sailor Moon series Sailor Stars and my favourite Yu-Gi-Oh series Zexal appear to have far more detractors than they have got fans like me. Add the fact that my mum is a hardcore Jar Jar fan, which makes me think that my preference for obscure and/or criticized fiction runs in the blood.

CRYSTAL QUEEN PROJECT XXII - THE MESSAGE OF THE TALE

The Crystal Queen, being an ultra-condensed and realistic postmodern update of the Andersen novella, just ends with both our heroes holding hands at the frog pond --that pool, that "alberca" or "ranera" at the UJI's Jardín de los Sentidos that inspired me to write the tale-- while realising the meaning of this highly optimistic Shakespeare quote (Shakespeare instead of the Gospel of Matthew and/or Brorson!), whose very last verses are GOOD IN EVERYTHING. And it ends right there, letting the curtain fall while hinting at the disenchantment that comes with midlife. This ending is basically a carpe diem while retaining the exhortation to remain children at heart: enjoy the fish, the frogs, the water, the lilies, the papyri, the breeze, the sun, good literature while you can, while there is still a shred of enchantment left in your heart. While the words GOOD IN EVERYTHING apply to you.
I wrote this tale while, among other things, dealing with a depressive and stressed-out mother. Suddenly, the old Snow Queen story grew new life, took on new meanings. I also recalled the depressives, "people who constantly bewept a sorrow that they could not give a name," ("sådana, som ständigt gräto över en sorg, som de inte kunde ge namn" in original Swedish; "solche, die beständig über einen Kummer weinten, dem sie keinen Namen zu geben wußten" in the German translation) in Selma Lagerlöf's Passion legend "The Shroud of Veronica," who break into a King Lear-like frenzy when they are told that Pilate has just killed the man who would restore their missing soul and reason: "in despair, they began to wound themselves, until blood flowed on the pavement" ("och i sin förtvivlan började de sarga sig själva, så att blodet flöt på stenarna" in original Swedish; "sie begannen in ihrer Verzweiflung sich selbst zu zerfleischen, bis ihr Blut auf den Boden troff" in the German translation). The impact of the fact that depression is incurable for good, and that hearing the death wishes of a person I adore, often in response to slights I have done without that intention, but also often due to collapsing under the pressure that life puts upon her... it makes me feel powerless. You cannot uproot the mirror shard for good in that case --a grieving person stranded in the fourth stage of grief, having to cope with trauma--. So I also noticed that her case, and my grandmother's case of depression, and many other incurable ones, are in midlife... so I determined to make the most out of my youth before this finite resource known as healthspan --both physical and mental/emotional-- dwindles. The peak comes right in the thirties of life, in fact. This story, The Crystal Queen, is an exhortation, in part, to make the most out of the warm seasons of our lives before the cold seasons begin.
It is also a cautionary tale about drugs --the mirror shards are replaced with crystal meth, the witch's cherries with marijuana, the villainess's surname, Schierling, means Hemlock in German--. Chemistry replaces the mind-control magic of yore. All supernatural elements --a talking sun, animals, and plants; a flying carriage; the aforementioned Mirror of Truth-- are replaced with more realistic equivalents (vox pops, a convertible, crystal meth; respectively), this being a fairytale of the new millennium.

miércoles, 21 de diciembre de 2016

OTHELLO IN NUCE

La tragedia de Otelo

La obra que inspiró a Verdi y a Boito para crear una de las óperas más catárticas de la Historia fue escrita por William Shakespeare a principios del siglo XVII, y fue estrenada el día de Todos los Santos de 1604 en la corte real inglesa, en el palacio de Whitehall. La tragedia de Otelo gira en torno a temas tan relevantes aún hoy en día como la identidad (racial, sexual, de género, social), la traición, los celos y la fina línea entre el amor y el odio, por lo cual sigue siendo, hoy en día, una de las obras más populares del Bardo. La obra presenta una trama bastante sencilla, sin dejar de ser emocionante y llena de suspense, con elementos que recuerdan al actual género thriller (ambiente claustrofóbico, intrigas, emociones intensas…).
Otelo transcurre en una plaza fuerte en la isla de Chipre, en la frontera entre la república veneciana y el imperio otomano, durante un período de paz armada a finales del siglo XV. El personaje titular, el gobernador de la isla, es un veterano general morisco que ha alcanzado su elevada posición mediante sus hazañas en el campo de batalla, y que ha desposado a una dulce e inocente heredera, la joven noble Desdémona, rubia y de tez clara, a quien ama con una pasión arrebatadora y es correspondido. Sin embargo, la idílica relación entre los esposos no tardará en resquebrajarse.
Y el causante de ello será Yago, suboficial veterano y que ve cómo el joven e inexperto teniente Cassio, amigo de la infancia de Desdémona, se hace con el puesto de ayudante de Otelo que Yago, confidente y camarada del general, ve como suyo por derecho.
Resentido, Yago se hace con la ayuda de Rodrigo, un pretendiente despechado de la esposa del general, dándole vanas esperanzas de recuperar a su amada, convirtiéndole en esbirro suyo.
Esa misma tarde, estando Cassio de guardia, Yago y Rodrigo embriagan al joven teniente y le involucran en una reyerta, por lo cual su superior, Otelo mismo, despoja a Cassio de su puesto de oficial. Desesperado, el joven recibe el consejo de Yago de pedirle a Desdémona que interceda por él, lo cual le da al intrigante razones para intentar persuadir al gobernador que su esposa y el teniente son mucho más que amigos. Sin embargo, Otelo está convencido de la pureza y fidelidad de su Desdémona, y duda tanto de ella como de Yago, por lo cual le pide a este último pruebas del adulterio de su mujer. Será un pañuelo, primer regalo del general a la rubia dama, que ella ha perdido, que Yago consigue de manos de su esposa, y que él dejará en manos de Cassio, lo que desencadene la tragedia: el otrora confiado y altivo general se vuelve un monstruo furioso, que insulta y maltrata a su consorte, a quien ha dejado de amar y ahora desprecia con toda su alma, a la par que nombra a Yago su brazo derecho y le da un plazo de tres días para matar a Cassio. Los dos hacen un juramento de vengar tan infame afrenta.
Al final, en un acceso de furia y de celos, Otelo estrangula o asfixia a su esposa en la cama, mientras Yago le tiende una emboscada a Cassio, de la cual el joven teniente se salva, perdiendo una pierna, pero es dado por muerto. Desdémona muere a manos de su esposo, a quien aún ama y en quien aún confía, defendiendo su inocencia y su fidelidad. Será Emilia, la mujer del intrigante, quien revele toda la verdad sobre las traiciones de Yago, muriendo asesinada por su marido, pero no sin antes revelar al general y al teniente toda la verdad. Desesperado, al ver que ha dado muerte a su amada en vano, y que ella nunca le traicionó, habiendo sido él mismo quien confiaba en la persona equivocada, Otelo hace arrestar a Yago, perdona a Cassio (ahora su sucesor como gobernador) y, deshecho en lágrimas, se hiere con su propia espada, y expira besando los fríos labios de su amada esposa.

Sandra Elena Dermark Bufí (aka una servidora)


CRYSTAL QUEEN PROJECT XXI - THE OPEN ENDING

One of the things that fascinate me the most about Andersen is that he lets his villains escape scot-free. The Snow Queen herself is a great example (Gerda and Kai leave the palace and she is never heard of since her second southward venture told of: "she could come if she pleased; the proof of his freedom lay on the ground, written in glittering ice"), and so is, to put another similar example, the Mer-Witch who took the Little Mermaid's voice in exchange for legs and lungs. Or the red-haired soldier who cursed Karen to dance until she died and even afterwards as a corpse. Or the Swamp King who deflowered the princess in the Wild Marsh. The bad guys survive and maybe even thrive--while the heroes also manage to get either their happy ever after or a dying redemption.
Yet I had never thought of this before until the winter when I began this blog and watched the screen version of Les Misérables. The track of the Thénardiers is lost, ostensibly for good, in the uproar of revolution --snatching Marius's ring in the catacombs is the last thing they do before disappearing into the shadows-- ...until, at the lovely and enticing wedding of Cosette and Marius... we are introduced to the Baron and Baroness de Thénard. From their surname, faces, and voices I could see these were the same scoundrels as before, now decked in silks and brocade, handing Marius his ring and sowing doubts about Cosette's adoptive grandfather in his ears. Last seen when Marius ushers them out and shuts the door behind them --but the villains have obviously thrived in this case as well.
The Snow Queen, the Mer-Witch, the Thénardiers... ah, and Iago (Othello's right-hand-man, not the macaw). The last thing we hear about the original literary psychopath is, when being seized and taken to torture, is "I will never speak word." Somehow lingers the same idea that he will escape, flee Cyprus somehow, and turn over a new leaf elsewhere. The novel Iago, by David Snodin, has a disabled Cassio tracking down the man who ruined his life --a pretty elusive Iago who is always one improbable turn ahead of his persecutor, as if Snodin's Iago were Raito Yagami and Cassio were L: I was instantly reminded of the catch-me-if-you-can premise of the famous anime Death Note, as well as of Moby Dick with a human quarry. (I took part of this premise for my 2016 Foorth Centennial edition of The Travesty of Othello; specifically Iago getting away scot-free... my Cassio does not go Ahab after losing his leg, considering that to him Iago is now out of sight and out of mind, like the Thénardiers/de Thénards to Cosette... or the Snow Queen to Gerda and Kai).
These are stories where the villains, the antagonists, survive. The final conflict these characters have to face is actually within themselves; after that, exit Iago/the Mer-Witch/the Snow Queen/the Thénardiers stage left, for these characters are no longer needed.
This aspect is also what makes Andersen's allegorical tales, Othello, and Les Mis so endearing and so true to life; it is what has ensured their staying power. My Frau Schierling may have lost a meth lab in that explosion, but it's hinted that she is a member of the regional elite and into several lucrative activities, legal or illegal --for instance, she owns several clubs similar to the Manoir des Miroirs, is a frequent guest at the Solsbury Hill golf course (though not the tennis court) and clubhouse, and she mentions an orange grove in the lowlands when she leaves Kai alone in the lab. She's a corrupt socialite, indeed, but that's what makes Valencian politicians and high society get away with the money and keep on pulling the strings in the shade, in real life. Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist until he died; so did Castro in Cuba. Countless psychopaths like Iago and the Thénardiers are still afoot all over this little blue ball of rock and mainly water. There is no poetic justice --but the lack of it feels more natural than the endings of our usual fairytales in which ogres, wicked witches, big bad wolves, dark fairies, false brides, et consortes are offed in more or less gruesome ways.