(Utz by Bruce Chatwin) [PDF/EPUB] ´ Bruce Chatwin


Utz by Bruce Chatwin

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Llection I have said that Utz s ace was waxy in texture but now in the candlelight its texture seemed like melted wax I looked at the ageless complexion of the Dresden ladies Things I reflected are tougher than people Things are the changeless mirror in which we watch ourselves disintegrate Nothing is age ing than a collection of works of art One by one he lifted the characters of the Commedia Eggs Benedict Arnold from the shelves and placed them in the pool of light where they appeared to skate over the glass of the table pioting on their bases of gildedoam as if they would orever go on laughing whirling improvising Scaramouche would strum on his guitar Brighella would liberate people s purses The Captain would swagger childishly like all army officers The Doctor would kill his patient in order to rid him of his disease The coils of spaghetti would be eternally poised above Pulchinella s nostrils Pantaloon would gloat over his money bags The Innamorata like all transvestites everywhere would be mobbed on his way to the theatre Columbine would be endlessly in love with Harleuin absolutely mad to trust him And Harleuin The Harleuinthe arch improviser the zany trickster master of the volte acewould orever strut in his variegated plumage grin through his orange mask tiptoe into bedrooms sell nappies or the children of the Grand Eunuch dance in the teeth of catastropheMr Chameleon himself And as I recalled as Utz pivoted the igure in the candlelight that I had misjudged him that he too was dancing that or him this world of little One Good Life: My Tips, My Wisdom, My Story figures was the real world And that compared to them the Gestapo the Secret Police and other hooligans were creatures of tinsel And the events of this sombre century the bombardments blitzkriegs putsches purges were soar as he was concernedm so many noises off And now he said we shall go We shall go Design Flaws of the Human Condition for a walk If hope if you re reading this you ve gotten an idea of what a wonderfully wry subtle knowing and beautiful book this is and I sincerely hope you read it Do itor the collectors I mean come on if you re on this site you probably it the bill do it or the porcelain do it Going Under for Utz Published in 1988 Utz was Chatwin sifth novel coming after In Patagonia1977 The Viceroy of Ouidah1980 On The Black Hill1982 and The Songlines1987 It was written and published whilst Chatwin was ill and dying rom AIDS It made the Booker list Like the previous novels it contains elements of being almost but not uite a travelogue and an examination of aspects of anthropology and sociology but Utz is most definetly a novelI have problems with these mythopyschoortho meta para geographers Their own arguments seem to suggest and build on the idea that if a story is worth telling then it is worth enhancing More than that some even suggest that it is better than walking Personally I would counter that this is what one naturally does when walking anyway and that the myth alone is commonly better than the spurious enhancements made by these performance artistes so what is their great uss about For these solipsistic charlatans what is true and what is made up seem to coalesce into some renzied mind trip of cross connections with a limited set of poetic concatenation allegedly offering a greater and deeper meaning at least in the mind of the mythographers For that reason I ind it hard to accept even the beautifully written works of WG Sebald the ephemerata of Claudio Magris let alone the Natural Blonde facile un readable ness of theaintly risible Cecile Oak Phil Smith Dr Professor who cares Chatwin comes into this group ar ar closer to Sebald than the others Utz is a skinny book Not much than a short story Set in Prague it concerns the obsession with Meissen porcelain that grips Utz our eponymous hero and how his collection drives and directs his life It is Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans full of the ploys of all mythogeographers overloading us the readers with obscureactettes little known locations procedures and rituals that may or may not be real and that of course this is their cue Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda for them to pipe up Who are you to say what is real and what is not At least Chatwin had the good grace to call it a novel rather than a DEEP work of social anthropology Utz too isull of this ephemerata Do we care Well maybe its just me I actually do care enough to google some of the bollix set down as substantive Fact Uite Often There Are Elements Of uite often there are elements of commonly misconstrued or disported in a way to suggest an alternative Who IS or WAS the Emperor Rudolf What IS a tazza This is the stuff that makes Google money and sets the wheels of the search engines in renzied motion More coal in the urnace Mr Google We need steam here My Infestation friend he said you know many things But you have many things to know Chatwin loves his mittel Europe history He also knew a shitload about artrom his years as an art whore with Sothebys So he knows his subject But as the tale proceeds and the coal wagon empties you just get tired of ollowing all the references Borges it is not Despite all the charm that Chatwin has in my honest opinion it is NOT great prose Borges it is not I say again And once you take away all the ephemerata what you are left with is the bones of AN INTERESTING BUT CONSOMME THIN TALE interesting but consomme thin tale the mania of collection something that Chatwin had observed well rom Sotheby s some politically naive statements on the Prague Spring and the USSR and the outline of a book on mannerism and behaviours that were rapidly disappearing Stating this I begin to eel like the child in The Emperor s New Clothes It begins after a while to resemble a book of motettes and anecdotes like the report of a long bibulous lunch of some affable upper class well educated riends interesting and at the same time both tiresome and tedious How can one INVENT porcelain should that be RE INVENT at and at the same time both tiresome and tedious How can one INVENT porcelain should that be RE INVENT at One can rediscover the method of manufacture of porcelain but it s not something you invent Ready for Summer ferfuxache And Porcelain as the Body of Christ Jesus wept It is worth reading the wiki on the history of porcelainI was reminded of a piecerom Nic Roeg s excellent Cyberselfish A Critical Romp Through The Terribly Libertarian Culture Of High Tech film Performance when the ageing rock star Turner attempts to trip up the gangster character of James Fox who is trying to hide out with Turner Fox s character says he is a juggler and Turner regales him with past medieval jongleurs and magicians throughout Europe This bookeels just like that sceneSo Utz is in the end pretty scanty and skimmily thin But it stands as an excellent piece of Chatwinian camp ephemerata It has an immediacy that is interesting but soon A coerência textual fails with time and excessive consumption The big reveal is the disappearance of the collection on Utz s death and the emergence of the marriage of Utz to his servant Has the collection been smashed or somehow whisked away As an afterthought and observation that life and truth are commonly stranger thaniction in 2001 Sotheby s tracked down and sold the missing porcelain collection of an obsessive Czech collector. By him as much of a prisoner of the collection as of the Communist stateA Write Your Novel!: Tips from a Bestseller fascinating enigmatic man Kaspar Utz is one of Bruce Chatwin'sinest creations And his story as delicately cast as one of Utz's porcelain igures is unforgettab. ,
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Yet given the success of last years s Grand Budapest Hotel If you enjoyed that ilm there is a chance that you will also enjoy Utz and even if you didn t there is little risk in dusting off this First Year Teacher: Wit and Wisdom from Teachers Who'€ve Been There forgotten book and discovering the life of a little known Saxon baron who once held the largest porcelain collection in the whole of Bohemia Chatwin s sentences are as chiseled little jewels in museum cases He s part of that wonderful tradition of chilly literary craftsmanship that counts Borges Sebald and Nabokov among its membersUtz is theirst of Chatwin s Revenge of the Land: A Century of Greed, Tragedy, and Murder on a Saskatchewan Farm fiction works I ve read and it bears much in common with his travel writing To be like ultra lame I would make the comparison between his prose and the Meissen porcelain he writes about but I m not Instead I ll say that it is brilliantly deceptively simple He just says things with as straight aace as you can imagine And the effects stay with you April 16th: Virginia Tech Remembers for a long time after especially on that lonely train ride home especially on that return to an empty a About 34 of the way in and I minding it really easy to read It s sneakily subversive witty elegant in a uiet way and really gets its hooks into you Absorbing slightly absurd legitimately unny and slyly knowing It was pressed on me by a drunken riend who insisted that I check it out It was also among the 5000 books namedropped by Hitchens in a personal essay though and I think he probably knew the author well so that s always a plus So Mindful Living with Aspergers Syndrome far at least it s the kind of book thateels longer than its actual page or plot length but not in a lugubrious dragging kind of way I m savoring it and am trying to inish it with a suitable mindset hushed receptive and open LikeI don t knowa collector of antiue porcelain might be Sorry if you already know what I m talking about I had to do itIn an effort to really explain what I mean about how great this book is here s some wonderful uotes and scene setting The story opens with the titular character s uneral The bearers employees of a rubber The Habitat Guide to Birding factory who worked night shift and doubledor the undertaker by day had shouldered the coffin and were advancing up the main aisle to music that reminded Orlik of the tramp of soldiers on parade Halfway to the altar the procession met the cleaning woman who with soap water and a scrubbing brush was scrubbing at the blazon of the Rozemberk Space Kid family inlaid into theloor in many coloured marbles The leading bearer asked the woman most politely to allow the coffin to pass She scowled and went on scrubbing The bearers had no alternative but to take a left turn between two pews a right turn up the side aisle and another right to pass the pulpit Eventually they arrived before the altar where a youngish priest his surplice stained with sacramental wine was anxiously biting his Circumstantial Evidence: Death, Life, and Justice in a Southern Town fingernails They set down the coffin with a show of reverence Then attracted by the smell of hot breadrom a bakery along the street they strolled off to get breakfast leaving Orlik and the aithful Marta as the only mourners The priest mumbled the service at the speed of a patter number and rom time to time lifted his eyes towards a Every Drop for Sale: Our Desperate Battle Over Water fresco of the Heavenly Heights After commending the dead man s soul they had to wait at least ten minutes before the bearers condescended to return at 826 So the nondescript enigmatic mister Utz is a somewhat obsessed collector of antiue porcelain which is to say he suffersrom Porzellankrankheit and is a sort of a Bartleby the Scrivener in Communist Prague and we and the narrator visit him and learn a bit about his Whys And Wherefores Such As and wherefores such as are and they are indeed as we slowly discover and come to understand though Utz remains essentially ungraspable throughout including his living situation The room to my surprise was decorated in the modern style almost devoid of Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus furniture apartrom a daybed a glass topped table and a pair of Barcelona chairs almost devoid of Reach for the Rainbow: Advanced Healing for Survivors of Sexual Abuse furniture apartrom a daybed a glass topped table and a pair of Barcelona chairs in dark green leather Utz had rescued these in Moravia Troubled Waters from a house built by Mies van der Rohe It was a narrow room made narrower by the double bank of plate glass shelves all of them crammed with porcelain that reachedrom The Allergy-Fighting Garden: Stop Asthma and Allergies with Smart Landscaping floor to ceiling The shleves were backed with mirror so that you had the illusion of entering an enfilade of glittering chambers a dream palace multiplied to infinity through which humanorms litted like insubstantial shadows The carpet was grey You had to watch your step or ear of tripping over one of the white porcelain sculptures a pelican a turkey cock a bear a lynx and a rhino modelled either by Kaendler or Eberlein or the Japanese Palace in Dresden All Shadower five were scarred withissures caused by Owls: Birds of the Night faults in theiring Utz had chosen each item to reflect the moods and Bon Bon Voyage (A Carolyn Blue Culinary Mystery, facets of the Porcelain Century the wit the charm the gallantry the love of the exotic the heartlessness and light hearted gaiety before they were swept away by revolution and the tramp of armies And then you get this No He was not a spy As he explained to me in the course of our afternoon stroll Czechoslovakia was a pleasant place to live providing one had the possibility of leaving At the same time he admitted with a self deprecating smile that his severe case of Porzellankheit prevented himrom leaving Bon Bon Voyage for good The collection held him prisoner And of course it has ruined my life Ah sure and our obsessions do begin to wall us in a little bit indeed butas we read the porcelain begins to take on a different meaning Are you trying to tell me that Shadrach Meshach and Abendigo were cermaicigures They could have been he answered They certainly survived the ire I see I said So you do think the porcelains are alive I do and I do not he sniggered Porcelains die in the ire and then they come alive again The kiln you must understand is Hell fire and then they come alive again The kiln you must understand is Hell temperature or iring porcelain is 1450 degrees centigrade Yes I said Utz s lights of ancy made me A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the Central Intelligence Agency feel uite dizzy He appeared to be saying that the earliest European porcelain Bottiger s red ware and white ware corresponded to the red and white tinctures of the alchemists To a superstitious old roue like Augustus the manufacture of porcelain was an approach to the Philosopher s Stone If this were so if to the eighteenth century imagination porcelain was not just another exotic but a magical and talismanic substance the substance of longevity of potency of invulnerability then it was easier to understand why the King would stuff a palace withorty thousand pieces Or guard the arcanum like a secret weapon Or swap the six hundred giants Porcelain Utz concluded was the antidote to decay The illusion was of course shattered by Frederick the Great who simply loaded the contents of the Meissen actory onto ox carts and sent it as booty to Berlin But Frederik Utz luttered his eyelids and with all that musical talentwas really an absolute philistine Going a little urther here pointing out the individually realized Grecian Urns of Utz s massive world spanning co. Allowed to leave the country each year and although he has considered defection he always returns He cannot take his precious collection with him but he cannot leave it either And so Utz is as much owned by his porcelain as it is owned. Living Within the LieHow can one best deal with the reality of power particllarly power which is obviously arbitrary and tasteless as well as unjust This is an especially relevant issue during the regime of Trump and his vulgarising influence in world affairs Utz is wonderful comedic arce about how to deal with power at a personal as well as a political level not by confronting it but by treating it with utter disdainThe eponymous Utz is a Czech survivor of two world wars and a subseuent communist regime What sustains him is an aesthetic specifically his appreciation or Meissen porcelain Wars pogroms and revolutions he used to say offer excellent opportunities Days of Infamy: Military Blunders Of The 20th Century for the collector He is savvy enough to understand that power is never permanently held and that its machinations need not impede the life of the true aesthete Tyranny sets up its own echo chamber a void where confused signals buzz about at random where a murmur or innuendo causes panic so in the end the machinery of repression is likely to vanish not with war or revolution but with a puff or the voice ofalling leaves Power is its own worst enemy if we can just leave it alone it dissipatesUtz is no avaricious materialist Collecting is a spiritual endeavour that involves treating individual pieces as if they were icons that promote entry into another world Such appreciation is impossible in a museum or public gallery where the pieces must suffer the de natured existence of an animal in the zoo In any museum the object dies of suffocation and the public gaze whereas private ownership confers on the owner the right and the need to touch His obsession with porcelain is a uest to Old Yeller find the substance of immortality But a collection of such objects is also a constant reminder of one s own mortality These things are the changeless mirror in which we watch ourselves disintegrate Nothing is ageing than a collection of works of art The collection presents both concrete reality and existential hopeor the one oppressed by powerEven the pieces act much as the Golem in the Jewish legends of Prague to protect if not one s body at least one s mind Flying by the Seat of My Pants: Flight Attendant Adventures on a Wing and a Prayer from the threats of power which abound in life Soor Utz this world of little Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography figures was the real world And like the Golem andor that matter Adam himself isn t porcelain created On Being Human: Reflections on Life and Living from clay and water These precisely craftedragments of clay are our links to the supernatural which permit us to ignore the minor irritations of bureaucrats and customs officials no matter how expertly applied So you see said Utz not only was Adam the Frommers Irreverent Guide to Walt Disney World first human person He was also theirst ceramic sculpture Porcelain is a philosophy of primal mankind of reedomNevertheless an aesthetic obsession like a Golem is prone to get out of hand unless there is a control mechanism Utz In act has two such controls sex and an annual two weeks abroad The irst keeps him grounded the second keeps him sane It s a clever therapy and he recognizes his ortunate luxury This is a luxury which allows him to avoid the main temptation to power that is to say power as a remedy Who's There on Halloween? for power s ills He knew that anti Communist rhetoric was as deadly as its Communist counterpart In any case his annual visits abroad served mainly to remind him of the venality and useless worry that were the essential conditions of living in the WestThus Utz s aesthetic allows him to live comfortably and without undue stress within the lie not just the lie of Czechoslovakian Communism but also the lie that there is anything permanent or permanently obtainable in life Not at all a bad way to deal with the power that envelopes one s existence I ve never read anything by Bruce Chatwin before but judgingrom his biography he was an interesting Jurisdiction fellow Born in 1940 he was employed by Sotheby s to work at their art department and uickly became their expert on antiue and impressionist pieces knownor his ability to discern Hip Pocket Sleaze: The Lurid World of Vintage Adult Paperbacks forgeries he eventually became the director He was later hired by The Sunday Times and published articlesor the magazine while traveling across the world and visiting its remote corners he published a travel book In Patagonia and several novels Utz is the last of them published in 1988 one year before the author s death Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets from AIDSThe eponymous Utz is Kaspar Utz a man oforgettable Cartagena (A Vintage Short) face but unforgettable passionor porcelain igurines Utz devoted his life to collecting his porcelain treasures and ensuring their safety throughout the years and wars He keeps all thousand pieces in his small two room apartment in Prague permitted by the Czechoslovak regime to do so on the grounds that he will beueath the entire collection to the state after his death Although Utz is the main protagonist he is not the narrator the story begins with his uneral and is narrated by a man who spent a little than 9 hours with Utz when he was alive and collected the rest rom his Sugar in the Raw: Voices of Young Black Girls in America fewriendsThe narrator irst Came To Prague To alive and collected the rest rom his Empire of Sin fewriendsThe narrator Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China first Came To Prague To Prague to a book about the psychology of collectors which drew him to Utz a Jewish man possibly descendedrom some minor Saxon nobility and his passion My Wife's Affair for collecting porcelain His devotion to Meissen porcelains is without parallel during the war he gave away all his other earthly belongings to secure a Czechoslovak passport and residence in Prague The narrator meets with Utz who talks with him about porcelain alchemy and golems much of the book is satire on the absurdity of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century one of which Utz had to live in This is best seen in the opening scene of the book which by the nature of being auneral should have been sad but because the Chicken, Chicken, Duck! funeral takes place in 1974 in Czechoslovakia it s darkly humorous A man asks the narrator if he can play the organ and upon hearing a negation he admits that he can t either and resignedly goes to do exactly that A cleaning woman refuses to moveor the coffin bearers and they have to go around her and they have to hurry as the state has ruled that all Christian rituals have to be done by 830 AM There are many such examples in the book but I ll leave the un of discovering to prospective readers Although Utz could have used multiple opportunities to defect to the West he was always dragged back to Prague not by the government but by his precious porcelain which he couldn t leave behind He always came back to the city and this is where he eventually died which is where the book opens and the narrator reaches ull circle learning about Utz rom his riends and acuaintances he is able to present a complete vision of Utz as a person But can a person such as Utz ever truly be scrutinized and understoodLike Utz s Move Over, Victoria--I Know the Real Secret: Surrendering the Lies That Bind You to the God Who Frees You figurines the book itself is a miniature it reads uickly but but is packed with a multitude of references and observationsrom the nature of humankind to specific political and social affairs of the era I think it could be adapted excellently Slo Mo! for stage andor Poor Mrs. Rigsby film I m surprised that no one has thought of it. Utz collects Meissen porcelain with a passion His collection which he has protected and enlarged through both World War II and Czechoslovakia's years of Stalinism numbers than 1000 pieces all crammed into his two room Praguelat Utz is.