Archive for January, 2010

The Book

Now that the Christmas festivities are over, I have few excuses to not face up to the realities of working on this book project. In order to formulate a strategy for writing, I need to think of whom I am writing for. I have in mind my co-flamencophiles, perhaps, and, unlike with other books, not so much my academic  colleagues.

I am both tempted and hesitant. The prospect of writing a book, at the best of times, is daunting. This is even more so when that book is on flamenco. I am tempted and hesitant in one go, because for decades now, flamenco has been a space of safety in my life from all surrounding demands and chaos. I would not wish to let that go. Equally, it would be nothing short of a privilege to indulge myself in flamenco and call that work. Moreover, writing is never just work: it is always a difficult, tangled, exciting journey into new territories. This is an odd and somewhat contradictory moment. On the one hand, there is the thrill of embarking on something new, especially when that involves going ever deeper (and spending more time on) one of the most enduring passions of my life. However, there is also the stark reality of having to come up with a coherent and well structured plan of work. Passion is a dangerous sentiment, because it somehow defies and even dismisses logical thought. The writer does not dance on stage; s/he inhabits the margins, from where s/he observes and experiences. To write about flamenco is not to live it. It is to think about it, to analyse it, to try and represent what it means in words, when perhaps its meanings are always open to interpretation. It is a great privilege to be a writer; it is also a huge responsibility. Could I ever bring to language the cadence of an alegría, the urgency of a bulería, the intensity of a soleá?

January 7, 2010 Posted Under: General   Read More

Pursuing Flamenco

In Isaaki Lacuesta’s film La leyenda del tiempo, a Japanese woman travels all the way from her country to La Isla de San Rafael, a small island off the coast of Cádiz, to learn to sing like Camarón. This is a lovely idea! I mean, who in their right mind would think in the first place that a woman could sing like a man? And what are the chances of a woman ever succeeding in singing like Camarón… the inimitable, the unique, the one and only Camarón?

If the film struck a chord, it was because it made me realize that this is what flamenco is all about… not merely performance for the sake of performance, but performance as a kind of search…. Performance as a way of seeking out some imaginary touchstone of genius in art. I think many of us are indeed like this character in the film. We travel down flamenco routes in the hope of  experiencing that flash of magic, however momentary or transient.  So much of flamenco is in the head. And so much of it is not necessarily about getting there, but about what happens along the way.

January 4, 2010 Posted Under: General   Read More