Kafka’s wish and The End Of Red Room

 Kafka’s wish, that all the writing which he had ever produced would be destroyed after his death, was not respected due to the disobedience of his friend and admirer Max Brod. Since he  did not burn his writing himself, Kafka  lost control over  the destiny of his work.

This is an early example of the impossibility to control our personal information, and it is very pertinent to today’s cyber world. I don’t mean to suggest that Kafka’s writing is in anyway similar to other information which we could find on the net today, but in essence the inability to determine what will happen with one’s writing  is the same.

A lot has been said about the footsteps which we leave behind when we use the internet. Those trails are the data used by different interests or sellers when they offer us their services and products.

However, until  the last couple of weeks,   I never stopped to think about my control over my personal information,  or in other words, my writing: conference papers,  literary translations, and a biweekly blog, among others.

My chosen site was Red Room, its motto:  “where the writers are,” indicated its focus, and it was no surprise that at least most of the users, were like me, people who write. It was a lively and busy community where members wrote and got responses, where special  events, like Mother’s  Day or Thanksgiving were celebrated with special blogs. In addition, it had a genuine atmosphere of good-will  which promoted friendships.

And then, out of the blue, in the beginning of  July the Red Room community got the announcement that the site would  be closed in 5 days, there was no explanation why.

  It was a big shock, somehow due to lack of experience in the digital world, I never saw it coming. I thought that Red Room would last forever, and  was convinced that my material there would be always secure. I never expected anything to change.  Upon hearing the news I felt deceived, it was as though someone whom I grew to love and respect turned out to be a married man with another family.

Now when the shock has somewhat dissipated, I wonder about my blindness, how come I never thought to ask questions about the fortitude of that site. Before I invest money in a company I read about it to check whether it is a sound  investment (and still I could be wrong). How come it didn’t occur to me to do the same here, in the site where I invested all my energy and time?

And I am sure that I was not the only one; there were many other writers in Red Room and I never read any one raising a question about the business aspect of the site. I know that I was there to enjoy Red Room, it was a safe environment and I felt good in that happy bubble and never wanted to know about the world outside.

As I went through my blog posts copying and pasting them into Word document, in order to save them,  I felt sad. It was because it was the end of an era and also  because I knew that my “age of innocence”  was over.  From now on I  have  to take responsibility for my information, as much as I can.

It was too easy to leave it in the competent hands of the site owners,  but  eventually they had to take care of themselves.

I need to grow up and do the same

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It's Good to Have Money

 

Baroness Lucia von Borosini Batten died at the age of 93 about ten years ago.  She was a local person; a socialite in her heyday. She was a German Baroness who was well off to begin with and always married men with wealth…several times…and she accumulated things. Lots of things –money was no object. Today, some would call her a hoarder but she was a collector with a few odd interests. For example, she collected miniature liquor bottles. She also collected rare and expensive paintings, tapestries, books, pottery, folk and primitive items, New Mexico colonial furniture, and especially Haitian art long before it was fashionable.

The Baroness purchased a circa 1875 adobe hacienda in a woodsy area of Albuquerque complete with acreage and water rights access to the acequia system. This was around 1954. The house was originally built by a local rancher who was the son-in-law of an early Governor. The Baroness and her second husband renovated and restored the adobe structure and moved in.  She started filling it.  Her third and final husband decided that they needed a library because her books were taking over the house so they built an adjacent structure in the same territorial style as the adobe house but with a large library space. The library looked like it was original to the property. Shortly after work was started, the husband died so Lucia was left to fill the library and the rest of the house with her collections. She knew what she liked and once it came in the door, it stayed. Actually, nothing seemed to get thrown out. 

When the Baroness died she left the house and contents and a large endowment to the local museum foundation. They had no clue that this was going to happen and had to figure out how to manage the property and care for the collections.  Some of her valuable paintings were hanging on the walls of the open courtyard and zaguan. The property was secured and repaired and work began on cataloging the contents. It is still going on. The UNM library took some of the books. Many of the items were sold during a couple estate sales but some of the art and the collection’s better items are in the museum. Much of it remains in the house, which serves as the foundations offices. Some of it is warehoused. When the museum staff entered the house they had to walk sideways through some of the rooms because they were filled with art, furniture, carvings, pottery…everything.

An organization I belong to was fortunate to hold it’s annual membership meeting in the Batten library and get a tour of the house. The place does not offer tours and access is restricted. They have a live-in caretaker but the offices are busy during the day.  Photography is not permitted inside or outside of the house or library. These pictures are from the museum’s brochure.

I wish there were more of these hidden gems. These old adobe structures are melting away — literally.  There are old churches and a few public buildings that are regularly maintained but the vernacular adobe dwellings will slowly disintegrate if left alone. It takes someone with deep pockets to bring them back once they start to melt away.

 

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Sanctuary (Divine Comedy)

 

 

My mind's sunk so low, Claudia, because of you, wrecked itself

on your account so bad already, that I couldn't like you if you

were the best of women, or stop loving you, no matter what you

 do. Catullus.

 

 

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 Poor Claudia! 'Twas ever thus!

 Since Adam's frame was formed of dust,

 And Eve was taken from his rib,

 She was his offspring, born to quib.

 Without her he had been forlorn,

 Roamed in the Garden all alone.

 He sensed he had no complement

 When plucking fruit all passion spent,

 No mirror for his lofty soul,

 No praise when he had reached his goal,

 No one to cheer, his wit admire,

 No one to help fulfil desire.

 So while he slept, his spirit warm,

The Lord did conjure from his form

A maiden of such pulchritude,

She gave no hint of pending feud.

At dawn, when Adam gazed on Eve,

His heart rejoiced she'd never leave,

He harkened to her every word,

To ignore her just seemed absurd,

 

 

But then the Serpent bent her ear,

The Tree of Knowledge had no peer,

Eve took and bit the luscious flesh,

Gave some to Adam, so they'd mesh

With bonds they could appreciate.

The glory faded. All too late,

They stared bereft, the vision gone

And work alone would see it won

O'er many a millennial span.

Thus many a skirmish then began

And many days with struggles fraught

Did end in bitterness of thought.

 

 

Well, he blamed her and she blamed him

For standing by, his purpose dim,

Their only hope, the marriage bed,

And space. He built a garden shed!

 

 

 

Poem from the 'Whimsies' section of The Twain, Poems of Earth and Ether

 

 

Image courtesy of Anna Mason Art

 

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Homesick

Wind-swept, East of England skies.  Shapeshifting clouds.  Swirls of white puff that stretch into mountains, curl into castles, swell into dragons, rise into chariots, then metamorphose into angels.  Skies mottled with lead-grey, steel-grey, velvet grey with  undertones of purple, shades of pink, hints of blue and glints of gold.  Ever-changing skies.  Skies so big, they come all the way down to your feet.

 

Elms that rise proud against the sky, copper beeches that glow in the afternoon sun, weeping willows swaying by the river, oaks – hundred of years old – that stand strong against the hurricanes.  Trees that have witnessed generations parade before them.  Trees with stories full of magic to tell, if you would listen.

 

Winds that howl in the night, winds that rattle wooden window frames, gales that push against you as you struggle to walk up the street.  Winds that tear off scaffoldings.  Passionate, exhilarating winds that stir your soul.

 

The river that rushes beneath your favourite bridge.  The bridge that overhears your secrets you whisper to the river.  The river, that washes away your worries and to which you confide your dreams.

 

Autumns of scarlet, ocher and gold.  Springs bursting white pink and white blossoms. 

 

Contrasts.  Passion.  Change.  Light.  Colour.

 

Scribe Doll

 

 

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Latest Comments

Rosy Cole We Don't Say Goodbye
23 June 2018
Much deep wisdom here. Thank you!To be honest, I'd rather never say goodbye... No matter what plans ...
Stephen Evans We Don't Say Goodbye
15 June 2018
Sound advice Ken.
Ken Hartke We Don't Say Goodbye
13 June 2018
I may have posted this before -- I sometimes need to revisit it. I occasionally need to give myself ...
Katherine Gregor Rise
12 June 2018
I like it!
Katherine Gregor R. R. R.
12 June 2018
I hope you're right. Thank you for your comment.

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