Self-portrait in the mirror, by Emilio Alzueta

Eco_friendly_plastic_framed_mirror_wall_mirrorAN OVAL FACE, which baldness makes almost round; a high forehead; ocean-green eyes, contracted through long hours of lamp-light reading; wrinkles carved by expressiveness; reflective mouth, prominent nose, noble countenance. What life, what love and pain and experience are revealed through those features? Is it a mask, or a lamp, expanding the soul’s rays? The mirror made of rock is too solid, too static, to tell. We need a different kind of reflection: the eyes of another human being. Tell me what I am; look at me, not only with your physical vision, but with the comprehension of your heart. Lips that smiled and were pursed; lines traced by laughter and sorrow; eyes twinkling by joy or glaring in anger: penetrate beyond the surface, the ambivalence, the ebb and flow of qualities. Green eyes, deep and minute fountains: can you sense the tears shed in compassion, the moments transfixed in beauty, the contemplation of truth? Shimmering through this face there is a light not altered by age, mood or expression: can you mirror the meaning of these signs?

No class on Tuesday; poetry on Wednesday

Dear all,

On Tuesday 22nd, we won’t have a lesson. Remember that on Wednesday 23rd you must be at Casa de la Condesa de Torre-Isabel for the poetry performance. It begins at 18.30, but it would be recommendable to be there at about 18.20.

Lola, Enrique and Alberto, who have to read at the performance, remember that we will be having a rehearsal at the School, on Tuesday 22nd at 18.00. And that we will be having another one on the very Wednesday, at the Casa de la Condesa, at 17.15

An astrologer for the Queen and other glimpses of poetry

An assortment of comments on Elizabeth: the Golden Age. As we said, the movie contains a lot of historical innacuracies, which you can consult here, as well as almost parodic presentations of Philip II and even Mary Queen of Scots. The movie seems to focus on the mythical character of the Queen -an aspect which was really part of the perception that many of her subjects had of her.

Despite all of this, the film contains some wonderful perfomances, an impeccable recreation of the times, and some extraordinary scenes. There are three in particular which are worth revisiting.

In the first, Elizabeth consults an astrologer. This is a true story. His name was John Dee, who was also a mathematician and an astronomer. The blurred frontier between science and disciplines such as alchemy and astrology continued in fact for a long time, even up to Sir Isaac Newton.

In the second, in the banquet given in honour of one of his royal petitioners of marriage, we are offered a vivid and colourful glimpse of the masquerades and imaginative blends of theatre, symbol and music which were characteristic of Elizabethan times and which can now be recovered at the Globe Theatre in London.

In the third, Sir Walter Raleigh (who, by the way, was really sent to the Tower by the Queen, and then beheaded -his head is kept at the Church of St Margaret, near Westminster; a place I like to show students in our trips to London) conveys to the Queen his experience of adventure at sea, with deeply poetic words which almost become symbolic of the very experience of living. Even if only for this scene, the film would be worth watching. This is the magic of the English language.

An incursion into English history

As part of the -amenable- tasks you will have to do over the holidays, we are going to explore an interesting period of English history: the Tudor and Elizabethan Age. We will read a corresponding chapter from a History of Britain and this Tuesday we will watch a movie called Elizabeth: the Golden Age. So this means that we will postpone the little interacting party until we come back form Easter. On Tuesday, we will dedicate about 15 minutes to introduce the topic and then we will begin with the movie. So, pe punctual, please.

ElizabethI

Neuroplasticity

Following the listening task we did yesterday, here is the complete interview with Norman Doidge, the author of The Brain that Changes Itself. Revise the information structure which we wrote at the end of the class and try to watch the whole video.

Neuroplasticity is one of the most fascinating recent breakthroughs of science: a source of optimism, and an encouragement for lifelong learning. And remember that the C1 course creates hundreds of new neurons!