Cape Cod 2009

September 9, 2009


On a bright sunny day with temperatures in the mid 70’s, we rambled through the trails surrounding a delta-like Long Pond, after which came the much larger adjoining Mashpee and Wakeby Ponds, first in the morning sun, before lunch, and then in the cooler afternoon from 3 o’clock. On the shores, we saw men and women with their pets at water-play.

The clearing views, unforgettable in the midst of the surrounding forests, were bathed by sun light. They blended verdant patterns rivaling those of timid Gothic structures made by man’s effort to imitate nature. Emerald moss-covered roots stepped up into translucent tunnels where we were led by random colonnades buttressing airy canopies. Freshly aromatic air filled to the exhilaration of the errant heart through gullies and groves; in peace with the rhythm of my accompanying soul.


“Not Guilty Verdict”: Regarding criminal gangs in New York City’s West Harlem; social decomposition; ineffective education and lack of Human Resources; understaffed police surveillance and laxe investigation, …

October 7, 2017

October fifth 2017, after three weeks of endurance, my service as a juror in a murder trial in Manhattan State Court was concluded with a not guilty verdict due to a reasonable doubt—over flimsy evidence, and a protracted seven years of detectives’ investigation. Although, the defense lawyer was hardly up to par, the burden of proof fell solely upon the district attorney, who could not manage to prove the case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. It was a hard wrenching experience for every one involved.

The medical examiner showed us photographically a detailed compilation before and after the autopsy to establish evidence of a 22 revolver’s 1/2” projectile’s passing through the body, which was the only ballistic analysis in terms of direction and cause of death. We had to observe stoically, with the maximum emotional modesty possible. Not everyone succeeded. Some were much sickened by the clinical survey.

The defense claimed the fifth amendment in order to not being open to examination or cross examination; there was no gun recovered, no DNA, no proven motive, a poorly visible video of the event, a stale case to boot, with a lot of hear-say interwoven throughout among two unreliable key eyewitnesses, 18 depositions and various estipulaciones in lieu of new witnesses.

Despite the tragedy, we, the jury, remained at peace with the decision, which could only be just and intelligent, devoid of bias or emotion. We chose to absolve a 17-year-old who was being accused of having killed a 14-year-old in Sept 2010 with a “community” gun. We concluded that it was a case of misidentification, not due to perjury by the witnesses but by a murky or nebulous set of events. Although, we believed there was collective collusion and complicity by the two West Harlem communities (West 140th and 141st Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues), who incited the tragedy; our doubt about the identity of the killer was greater than the evidence provided. Still we were not 100% sure of it, but had to be guided by the degree of doubt, which was greater than our certainty.

It took us 2 days and a half of deliberations and analysis to arrive at the verdict unanimously. We went from an even split of 50/50% to an unified, 100% understanding of the facts. When we announced the not-guilty-on-all-counts-verdict, in a sad and somber moment for both the family of the accused and the mother of the murdered child, as well as ourselves, it was very difficult for all involved to contain tears. After admonishing the court room to be quiet, the eminent and fair-minded judge Robert Stolz commended our carefully conscientious performance as jurors, stating the great relevance of our participation.

As we left the deliberation room, heading to a private elevator, which descended at the opposite end of the court at street level, we were cordoned off by a half-dozen police officers, while the acquitted’s family—kept aside—shouted their thanks amid inconsolable cries. From there on, except for me, the remaining eleven members of the jury went to a neighboring bar to relieve the great blow that we had felt. I waved goodbye to everyone between hugs, handshakes and kisses, wishing them well and congratulating them for their exemplary work!

Pondering how special was our experience, it may not have been possible for any one single individual to own such vision, the required compassion and the clarity to arrive at a consensus over something as tragic—arriving at the decision after two minutes of silent introspection and a single instance of total awareness in all of our minds at once; it was only conceivable by the group itself and no one in particular. So, I wonder if we were so unique a group; if any one other group could have arrived at the same conclusions, preventing either a wrong conviction or even a possible derailment of the case.

Criminal activity as a chosen life style (exemplified by young crews or gangs) among certain neighborhoods in New York City may be distinctly different from other communities in other states or abroad; but the underlying pattern of behavior seems to be commonplace among marginal communities: Lack of self love, undervalued self-esteem—due to lack of positive roles and lack of developmental opportunities— are perhaps the most insidious and corrosive causes. Moral suppression, self sabotage and low self esteem are indeed intertwined due to lack of guidance. The level of education is impaired by a hostile environment of reactive survival where children grow aspiring to achieve power in their relationships through means of oppression, verbal attack and physical domestic assault. So it is not surprising that they should die prematurely. Guns and knives turn to be of common usage in these communities, whose children’s resort to petty larceny until they become victims or seasoned murderers. It is no surprising under such harrowing circumstances that there may be such an encumbered path to preserve one’s human dignity. I believe being poor as being rich imports no virtue in of itself. However, if one focuses on the resources offered by the city of Manhattan to those communities struggling to survive, we must ask what we, as a collective society, are doing to remedy it: not being equally reactive while indifferent to such a plight. If we understand that those conditions nurture the worst in us, by cultivating psychopaths from an early age; what are we doing to reverse those conditions? What are we offering as non complementary conditions as well as solutions to the overarching social problem: where we all exist literally and equally vulnerable to violence? And yet still, are we not all responsible?

«Al Di Là Delle Parole» [Beyond Words]

October 25, 2014
Il Pantheon, Roma: realizzato da Marco Agrippa nel 27 a. C,

Il Pantheon, Roma: realizzato da Marco Agrippa nel 27 a. C,



1. Non è un messaggio, un motto, o una prescrizione;

2. Non sarà un cammino per niente,

3. Né sarà un’elegia per un bardo;

4. Sarà trovato lì, … al di là del velo delle apparenze:

5. Al di là delle convenzioni del nostro mondo.

1. This is not a message, a dictum, or a prescription;

2. It will not be a road somewhere,

3. Nor will it be an elegy to a bard.

4. It will lie there, … beyond the veil of appearances:

5. Beyond the conventions of our world.


6. Sogneremo … ad occhi aperti

7. Ponderando qual’è la nostra origine ,

8. Se sarà davvero diverso?

9. Cosa è nel piangere di Dante Alighieri, che non è nei nostri?

10. Cosa c’è nella lingua italiana … che è diverso d’altre?

6. We will daydream … with open eyes.

7. Pondering about what is our origine?

8. If it will be really different.

9. What’s in the sob of Dante Alighieri, which is not in ours?

10. What’s in Italian language … that is unlike any other?


11. Che cosa avrá l’effigie della parola che ci impedirà di vedere al di là di essa?

12. Potremmo indagare il significato delle nostre epifanie,

13. Senza la forza di un simbolo di rispetto sul suo piedistallo illusorio?

14. Cosa sará l’incertezza nei canzonieri di Giovanni Boccaccio,

15. Non sarebbe uguale alla nostra consapevolezza dell’amore … adesso?

11. What will be in the effigy of the word that will keep us from seeing beyond it?

12. Will we be able to investigate the meaning of our epiphanies,

13. Without the power of a restpectful symbol above its illusory pedestal?

14. What will be the uncertainty in the songbooks of Giovanni Boccaccio,

15. Would it not be equal to our awareness about love … now?


16. Abbiamo sognato … in piedi

17. Domandandoci che cosa c’era nella ribellione di Giosuè Carducci,

18. Non era stata la stessa cosa circa le nostre … adesso?

19. E qual’era l’ignoranza di Francesco Petrarca,

20. Era diversa dalla nostra?

16. We have dreamed … standing on our feet.

17. Wondering about what was in the rebellion of Carducci,

18. Has it not been the same thing as in ours … now?

19. And was there any ignorance in Francesco Petrarca,

20. Was it different from our own? 


21. Potremmo vedere senza essere stati fuori dai limiti,

22. Entro i confini della realtà, priva di oggetto?

23. Sarebbe concomitante con il movimento totale della Vita?

24. Avremmo sognato … di consolazione.

25. Meditando quale sarebbe la verità sulla nostra natura secondo Luigi Pulci?

21. Could we see without being out of the limits,

22. Within the boundaries of reality, without seeking anything?

23. Would it coincide with the total movement of Life?

24. We have dreamed … of solace,

25. Pondering what would be the truth about our nature by Luigi Pulci? 


26. Non esiste nessuna distinzione, che supera la parola, senza essere divisive?

27. Quando sognamo … camminando.

28. Chiedendo se la nostra passione

29. È diversa dalla voce del poeta ieri?

30. Qual’è la solitudine di Poliziano; che è diversa dalla nostra?


26. Is there no distinction at all, in excess of the word, without being divisive?

27. When we dream … walking.

28. Wondering if our passion

29. Is different from the poet’s voice of yesterday?

30. What’s the loneliness of Poliziano, is it other than our own? 


31. Cosa c’è di acquisitivo nella nostra conoscenza di Carlo Porta?

32. Lo possiamo capire e ascoltare nel silenzio totale?

33. Senza annunciare una parola al santuario della nostra stanza.

34. Mentre sognamo… una vulnerabilità infinita,

35. Chiedendo silenziosamente qual’è la perversione nel nostro intelletto circa Giuseppe Ungaretti?

31. What is adquisitive about our knowledge of Carlo Porta?

32. Can we understand and listen to him in total silence,

33. Without announcing a word into our inner sanctum?

34. While we dream… about an immense vulnerability,

35. Quietly wondering what’s the perversity in our intellect about Giuseppe Ungaretti?


36. Era questa l’ignoranza di chi sostituiva il nulla… per il desiderio?

37. Avevamo sognato … della sofferenza

38. Incapaci di resistere al richiamo del buon senso,

39. Senza la certezza della comprensione,

40. Chiedendo se l’incertezza di Torquato Tasso era anche la nostra.

36. Was it the cunning of those who replace desire … for emptiness?

37. We have dreamt … of suffering,

38. Unable to resist the call of sanity,

39. Without the certainty of understanding,

40. Wondering if the uncertainty of Torquato Tasso is also ours. 


41. Sognavamo … quando i pensieri erano assenti

42. Chiedendo se il nostro cuore era diverso da quello di Lorenzo Da Ponte:

43. Un trovatore errante in un globo iniquo

44. Che pregava e raccoglieva elemosina

45. In cambio di pace!

41. We used to dream … when thoughts were absent,

42. Wondering if our heart was different from that of Lorenzo Da Ponte:

43. A wandering minstrel in a world of iniquity,

44. Who prayed and collected alms

45. In return for peace! 


46. Era qualcosa del tormento di Salvatore Quasimodo

47. Diversa dalla tristezza per il nostro destino?

48. Avevamo sognato … stando svegli

49. Mentre potevamo vedere in un istante,

50. Che senza la compassione, le lacrime erano incompleti.

46. Was there something of the torment of Salvatore Quasimodo

47. Different from the sadness over our destiny?

48. We dreamed … of being awake.

49. While we could see instantly

50. That without compassion tears were incomplete. 


51. Parla Giovanni Raboni di un amore straordinario,

52. Dove gli opposti non esistono,

53. Una forza manifestata da un movimento indivisibile?

54. Quando sognamo … ad occhi aperti

55. Ponderando se osserveremo il nostro riflesso … al di là delle parole.


51. Does Giovanni Raboni speak of an extraordinary love,

52. Where opposites do not exist,

53. A force manifested from an indivisible movement?

54. When we dream … with open eyes.

55. Pondering if we shall observe our own reflection … beyond words.

By Ricardo Morín 05/15/2013

On Learning and Perception

June 30, 2014
Canaima National Park, Angel Falls

Canaima National Park, Angel Falls


Only a mind that has not been committed, a mind that does not belong to anything, which is not limited in any way, would be a mind that could learn. There are things in life that can not be pretended: I think this is the case when an ideology is taken, one pretends all the time that one is not selfish, and pretends not to be violent, while in heart and mind one is full of contempt, when determining the parameters of any contrast.



In today’s world where there are so many problems, we are likely to lose our moral compass, and lose the quality of our perception: the quality of audition and the quality of sensitivity. If we are angry, and yet we are able to suppress anger, or be able to control ourselves, to not let anger rise again, our minds could still be insensitive as ever. One can get rid of hatred, but if the mind and heart were still petty they will create further antagonism. Therefore there will be no end to conflict.


Awareness brings its own illumination. But one must manifest it. It is necessary to initiate it, just as if one were catching the tail of a comet, which should be felt deeply before proceeding. The discovery of ourselves is so endless and requires constant research, a perception which is whole, a consciousness in which there is no selection whatsoever . The distance to the stars would be far less than the distance to ourselves. This journey is really a door that opens to the individual in his relationship with the world.


April 2, 2014

A Venezuelan Mayhem

June 28, 2014
Bust of Simon Bolivar made ​​by Stuart Williamson, commissioned by Don Alfredo Boulton in 2006

Bust of Simon Bolivar made ​​by Stuart Williamson, commissioned by Don Alfredo Boulton in 2006


The web page of May 10, 2010, here below, presents implicit evidence that Simón Bolívar was executed at 47 years of age by order of U.S. President Andrew Jackson before Bolívar could initiate a blockade of the dissolution of Gran Colombia at the end of 1830, which had been led by the opportunistic and  dishonorable henchman: the much-vaunted ‘centaur of the plains’ José Antonio Páez.

Each of the Presidents of the Venezuelan Republic, in particular the military, from José Antonio Páez to the late Hugo Chavez, as well as the current bus-driver Nicolas Maduro, all became instrumental in a process of misinformation in detriment of freedom. Likewise, we have an overabundance of historians who indulge in babbling nonsense, making it very difficult for us to understand the facts. While they are having fun with sentimentalities aimed at enlarging their misguided personal interests, the people become divested of their common goods. To echo the last words of a stunned Francisco Miranda as he addressed Simón Bolívar, while the latter defrauded him and accused him of treason, and consequently destined him to his death, imprisoned in “la Carraca” under the Spanish yoke:


“Mayhem!. These people (the military) are not able to do anything else, but a mayhem”

The lack of seriousness then as now prevails in this small Venice plucked from the Great Colombia. With such ease, abutments are lost from warlord to warlord in the passage of time; we are still without a productive direction, as ever heading into an uncertain future. What good many constitutional changes and five republics be worth, whilst we do not take seriously ourselves as individuals.

The very proclamation before Bolivar dying in Santa Marta in December 1830 brings us his consciousness without an acceptance of his own faults, included his narcissistic messianic complex:

You have witnessed my efforts to establish freedom where tyranny prevailed before. I have worked with disinterest, even leaving my fortune and my peace. I abandoned the leadership when I became convinced that my humility inspired distrust. My enemies abused your credulity and trampled what is most sacred to me, my reputation and my love of freedom. I have been a victim of my persecutors, which led me to the doors of the tomb. I forgive them.
When I disappear from among you, my love tells me I should do the manifestation of my last wishes. I aspire to no other glory than the consolidation of Colombia. You must all work for the inestimable good of the Union: the people by obeying the present government to free itself from anarchy; ministers of the sanctuary by directing their prayers to heaven; and the military by using his sword to defend social guarantees.
Colombians! My last wishes are for the happiness of the country. If my death contributes to cease parties and consolidate the Union, I shall go down to the grave peacefully. “

But our reality is another. Simon Bolivar did not help consolidate any union. On the contrary, he set the path to the cult of personality. And today social guarantees are suppressed by the abuse of their rulers and anarchy prevails because politicians are only interested in their own profit. Political ideology is just a tool for deafening the intelligence of its people. As before and now, fanaticism and autocracy reign in our land.

“Mayhem!. These people are not able to do anything else, but a mayhem”

A New York Celebration

May 12, 2014
Wedgewood Suite at the Lotos Club

Wedgewood Suite at the Lotos Club


A New York Celebration

In the random course of events of our social lives, I wonder what is the import from or to our personal identities. Perhaps we are influenced by each other: I think that it may be not so much by the significance of our individual thoughts but by the quality of our rapport. However, I cannot help being either swept away or struck down by the randomness of it all.


After the Marriage Defense Act was ruled unconstitutional in June 2013, our friends John and Ted proceeded to celebrate their wedding in a small private ceremony shortly thereafter at their Washington-DC’s residence. They had been living together for over 16 years, almost as long as David and I have been together. It was such a sudden decision, that John and Ted had not being able to include their closest friends and relatives from New York City and elsewhere; so they prepared a special dinner celebration to commemorate their wedding at the Lotos Club, located at 5 East 66th Street in New York City. John, who is a published author and Ted, who is a musicologist, have been members of the Lotos Club for some time.

The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, was founded on March 15, 1870, by a group of young writers, journalists and critics. The Club was named, “tongue in cheek,” for the dilettantism exhibited by the Lotos eaters of the Odyssey. From its inception, its mission has been to promote and develop the arts and humanities, and to that end to provide a place of assembly for the learned professions and other persons interested in their objectives, effort and work.

John and Ted’s guests included Ted’s older brother who is a financial adviser, his wife who is an accomplished English illustrator of flora and fauna, a church organist, a developer for a music foundation, two well known actors, one retired and another still active in his seventies, and an architect. Now, allow me to share the exchange of ideas that took place:

During toast and hors d’oeuvre I spoke to John about the letter I had received from President Barack Obama and I then expressed my understanding of what may be an attempt to protect strategies by the people of Venezuela, which could soon reverse the crisis. I also spoke to the actor Greg Callahan about his recent film premiere called “Default”. Then in the Georgian-styled dinning room, among the closest ones to me, I heard long drawn conversations, filled with cynical beliefs, about ineffective education and the imperative of the new generations to confront themselves with other countries by increasing their earning power. And then the questions about the next presidential elections, regarding the fact that power seems concentrated between two families: the Bushes and the Clintons. Up until this point, I listened everyone quietly until the jesuitical in me finally managed enough courage to speak with frankness, in an attempt to clarify some of the issues being discussed. On one occasion I suggested that Elizabeth Warren was a suitable opponent for the presidency, though it may be difficult for her to enter into a national arena at this time. I also suggested that eventually a Latino could arise in future horizons. I referred to someone of the stature of Senator Robert Menendez, and rejected the idea that Marco Rubio could ever be an alternative because, although he was very intelligent, he was born in Canada.  As they continued bantering about illegal immigrants, I also rebuked the idea that Hispanics were in any way foreign to the United States. I reminded everyone that Hispanics had been around a century before the English had arrived in this continent. Then the conversation shifted to illegal immigrants, in a rather self-righteous tone, when I argued that without the Mexican and Central American labor force, legal or not, this country could not function. At any rate, the conversations were filled with banalities and the content was rather conventional. Everyone was most affable, and I felt even more out of place.

Before departing that evening, attention was brought to the fact that the current location of the Lotos Club was used since 1947 and that the beautiful building it occupies on East 66th Street, in a French-Cartouche Style, had been built in 1900, commissioned by a New York socialite as a wedding gift for her daughter.

RFM 05/12/14

Celestial Paradise

May 9, 2014





Ulysses comes to know it as the land of the sirens, which, during the Middle Ages, becomes a great maritime empire. It is located at the foot of giant Monte Cerreto, where the Duchy of Amalfi would come to take refuge for a time, as if in the chrysalis of ancestral muses. The tragedy of the Duchess of Malfi by John Webster, as well as the Realism of Henrik Ibsen and the Gesamtkunstwerk of a vilifying Richard Wagner would have echoed the fate of this mythic caryatid of pleasure over the Gulf of Salerno. Among the cliffs, the movements of thundering sources dance to the rhythm of the Swallowtail beyond the less venerable Crusades, cloisters or monasteries, exhaling the barbaric metamorphosis of so many tribes. Although now, from walking in the genesis of time, a restless gaze profiles the beguiling essence from “La Dolce Vita”.



Excavated from a promontory on the edge of a precipice, between the villages of Cetara and Vietri, providing anchovies in oil and colored ceramics, there is our beautifully tiled Inn called Cetus. In the cacophonous colors of the rainbow and arising from the eternal compass, its rowing regattas zigzag along the sea coast, driven up from the south to the north-west from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Ligurian Sea.



In its surroundings, the river Canneto runs through the valley of the mills whispering ballads of the Renaissance to the famous paper bambagina. As if to recoil from our step, the fjords sag under a bright sky, caressed by the thin mist of cool winds. We hear the hum of the bees and the penetrating aroma of the Aetna’s sfusato; and from the limoncello one squeezes gently the intoxicating magma. The peninsular bowels spit the flavor and fragrance of its dashing fruits. So intense the Amalfi Republic sows the lava within the turquoise water and the cliffs that have walled it.



We sing the Falalella in the shadows of the twilight. And then there we float on the glow off the coast of Salerno, Sorrento, Positano and Ravello, which are washed with fresh drizzle. With the ebb and flow of life, the reddened clouds look at themselves in the mirror of calm waters, trailing the bay of Salerno. Amalfi, Comune of Salerno, is framed by the Region of Campania where the shrines of Herculaneum and Paestum were erected majestically . And from the ashes to the texture of mythological times, archaeological expeditions of Pompeii of the eighteenth century exhume, among many findings, paintings from antiquity which illustrate the Roman Cycle of Mysteries as well as the conquests by Alexander the Great.



The touch of ancient hands still reverberated in the movement of our senses. Sweet was the image in the vernal sun, which would bounce from ravine to ravine, teetering from staircase to staircase down to the ancestral jetty. We anchored near the dock from where the large galleys used to be dispatched. As they once did, we are now scattered, leaving behind the vision of a sirens’ paradise.



Ricardo Morin 04/20/14


Letter of Support from President Barack Obama

May 8, 2014
White House

Letter received on May 7th, 2014 via my personal e-mail address

NYC, May 7 2014

Honorable President Barack Obama:

Thank you for your kind and generous response. What is not being said in your response is that the United States has major economic commitments which impede to intervene in Venezuela, that in effect, if the United States were to remove a dictator who is illegitimate to boot, it would render all American contracts null and void, thus aggravating an already compromised American economy.

An American dependency on oil is the basis for this dilemma and its unwanted consequences. Yet a country like Venezuela who is in a state of chaos may not be able to meet either the American demands nor that of their own people. Ultimately, the American economic security as well as the stability of the region may depend on America being more assertive in some form of intervention.

Sincerely Yours,

Ricardo F Morin

Sublime Pearl of the Adriatic

April 27, 2014
 Hail to the Ducal Palace by the 'vedutista', symbol of Venice, Antonio Canaletto 1697-1768,

Hail to the Ducal Palace by the ‘vedutista’, symbol of Venice, Antonio Canaletto 1697-1768,


Before visiting the Republic of Venice, I took from memory that the Genoves Christopher Columbus had baptized my country as Little Venice. While Venice was built on a delta in the lagoon of Veneta at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, Venezuela was a parallel universe, on Lake Maracaibo at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, where native huts rested precariously on piles driven in the mud of deep waters.

Unlike Christopher Columbus’ surprise and associations between Venice and Venezuela, to my mind Venice had already been extremely romanticized and idealized before I actually saw her. I knew her through pictorial illustrations, unique paintings by Giovanni Antonio Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, through the majestic engravings of Antiquity by Giovanni Piranesi and the fantastic panoramic views of the English painter William Turner. In sum, I knew her through so many artistic and poetic accolades from the echo of Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Goethe; as Venice had been exalted by Poe as Eliseo of the oceans; by Dickens as Queen of the seas; by Herzen as madness product of genius; by Mann as half snare, half fable; as the reverie of a mirage in a lagoon, an otherworldly fantasy, the improbable city of the dramatist Carlo Goldoni, through the eyes of her beloved ones, by those who watched through the passage of centuries with such ardor, despite all the environmental challenges of our times. I now see Venice holds its charm precisely in its own fragility. Venice is so undoubtedly incomparable. Just consider the testimony of its great monuments, ancient bridges and canals, 400 and 180 respectively, invested by the magic of great perseverance and talent, which makes it logically to have been able to access the deservedly noble title of La Serenissima.

As a painter , my great interest was to see at close range, and with a magnifying view, the soft sweet colors of oil paintings by Antonio Vivarini , Pisanello , Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Jacopo Basano , Tiziano Vecelli, Palma il Vecchio, Jacopo il Furioso Tintoretto, Lorenzo Lotto, Paolo Veronese, and Giambattista Tiepolo–just to mention a few of the great among painters of Venice. There is nothing equal to the handling of paint, to the manipulation and alchemy of colors by the classic Venetian school, in its bittersweet characteristic spectrum that deepens the atmosphere and so generously suffusing human form as no other school has been able to. Its elegance and richness are intangible: one’s enjoyment is also unmatched. Everything in Venice speaks with a passionate and unique ancestral character. Similarly, so does its palatial architecture with a combination of various styles: the Byzantine , Muslim , Gothic, Palladian.  The latter  is denominated by the surname of the world famous Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (a Renaissance polyglot, translator of the canons of Greek and Roman antiquity) who disseminated this style throughout Europe: a legacy extended into the Neoclassical times of the 19th and 20th century.  And then, there is the exuberant style of the baroque as represented by Baldassare Longhena. Among so many things to talk about in such a short time, between such an abundance of exultation, there is still no way to do justice to Venice.

Because of the physical limitations of my mother, we went to Venice for only three days; a visit that was supposed to be light. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Amadeus , within walking distance of the train station Santa Lucia from which we planned to continue on our way to Rome. The Hotel’s privileged location in the center of Venice, made it unique:  close to the Grand Canal, and a short walk to the major attractions of the Jewish Quarter, the Venice Casino, the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco. The autumn season had fewer tourists, and many young people still enjoyed the outdoors, its many bridges, or socializing in large squares. On one occasion, we had a snack at the elegant Café Florian (open since the eighteenth century in the Piazza San Marco). Here, we were accompanied by the beautiful sound of an outdoors symphony orchestra. It was also the most expensive snack we had ever had, yet it was worth it, a truly unforgettable experience. Then we walked through the streets and labyrinthine alleyways to admire the intimate spaces and lush façades. We also had time to go by ‘vaporetto’ to the Venice Biennial: The 48th International Art Exhibition (1999) in the Giardini di Castello, located at the eastern part of the city, with a capacity of 88 pavilions, including the Pavilion of Venezuela. At the end, before our departure from Rome to Venezuela, while we waited, my mother asked for me to stand next to her; we faced a mirrored wall, and she said: this way we will always remember each other.

Ricardo Morin 04/14/14

In Defense of Poetry:

April 27, 2014

Dante (detail), Domenico di Michelino, Florence 1465

Dante (detail), Domenico di Michelino, Florence 1465

Can our thoughts ever express absolute truths, or are they always just an approximation to reality?


In his dialogues of The Republic (circa 380 BCE), Plato (428-348 BCE) defined the value of didactic literature, especially the theological and rhetoric values, while, at the same time, citing that “there is an old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (Republic, Book V, 607b5–6).

By the very use of metaphors, Plato’s Socratic-dialectic purported that poetry could only be a camouflage1; which suppressed the truth of our reality; therefore, poetry was incapable of conveying divine truths. This interpretation extended to the European Greco-Roman traditions and persisted dichotomous in contrast with the development of Medieval-religious literature of the West—paradoxically despite the dominant embeddedness of religious symbolism. It was from the thirteenth and fourteen centuries that the great Italian thinkers Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) initiated a humanizing conception of the world.  They identified themselves with a synthesis of Platonic philosophy by which metaphors in poetry were by now affirmed in positive terms.  Although they were always moved by the legacy from antiquity; they were also interested in developing new literary trends that could tear away from tradition. This epoch became known as the Renaissance2: The beginning of the era of modern literature through the metaphysical exaltation of poetry.

In De vulgari eloquentia (circa 1302), Dante Alighieri prepared an analysis of all styles and linguistic registers; but ultimately, he came close only to addressing the tragic or sublime style.  This work focused on the work of the Sicilian School and on the theme of love by the Stilnoviste.  Dante recognizes that poetry could also convey divine truth, that is, that besides being pleasant, the allegorical expression of human passions could be useful–speaking in didactic terms.

Francesco Petrarca also in La Carta X, 4 de Le Familiari (1349) addressed the question of allegory as an interpretative key to the poetry of the Middle Ages; for it established the use of allegory as the main similarity between the theological and poetic styles.  In this regard, in his view, the origin of poetry was found in a special use of language to appeal to the divine.

Then, alongside a biographical attention paid to the poet Dante, Giovanni Boccaccio also established a rigorous defense of poetry. As he put himself in an interpretative tradition of sacred as well as secular texts, he pursued in them a second level of significance.

In his plea for poetry, Boccaccio acknowledged the service it provided by exalting its powers. His treatise in Latin entitled Genealogiae deorum gentilium libri–completed in 1360, and edited until his death in 1374–, was a kind of handbook for poets and readers of poetry, relevant for transmitting classical mythology from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.  His singular defense of poetry was based on different principles; its universality, its antiquity, the respect that it had always aroused among the powerful, its divine origin away from earthly matters, etc . . ., were synthesized in the idea that poetry attracted three essential aspects: truth, beauty and fictionalization. Moreover, the discipline, study and work of the poet which provided indispensable conditions for literary creativity did not hinder a divine origin, or the revelation of that which was sublime. Boccaccio attempted thus to show that when interpreting allegorically secular texts, these were capable to reflect a moral as well as religious truth.

R.F.M. – New York City, April 27, 2014

1 Note: The term "camouflage"--the masking of nature--,which is used in The Republic, Books II, III and X by Plato (circa 380 BCE), differs from the term "mimesis" of the Greek mimēsis--in a laudable sense of imitation--which is not use until 1550.

2 Wikipedia: 'The Renaissance' is a French word coined by French historian Jules Michelet and disseminated by the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt in the 19th century. This name has been used historically in contrast to 'the Dark Ages', the term coined by Petrarca to refer to what we now call 'the Middle Ages.'

« Maria Teresa Tortolero-Rivero »

January 21, 2014
Different stages of her life

Different stages of her life

Not long ago, I shared with you the genealogy of my paternal ancestors, originating in the Canary Islands, which for six generations, dated as far back to the early eighteenth century. Unfortunately, I could not do such an extensive genealogical study on the ascendency of my maternal ancestors, but I wanted to share with you all that I’ve learned through biographical memories from my mother

Very little is known about my maternal great-grandparents, Elogio Tortolero and Paula Ojeda, except their being owners of a large estate in the south of the State of Carabobo Venezuela circa the nineteenth century.Subsequently, my grandparents, Rafael Tortolero (born in 1893) and Marcolina Rivero (born in 1898), possessed extensive lands which they worked as cane growers and coffee farmers in the mountains, known as the “Fundo of (ass of) Jorge” [taken after the name of my great-great-grand father], even though, they were known officially as “Banco Largo,” near the village of Bejuma in a beautiful region of Venezuela. Since colonial times, it was known that my mother’s family was of Sephardi Spanish origin, from the Toledo region; but I have yet to compile the required documentation for a proper genealogy.  Maria Teresa, as my mother had been baptized, was born near Bejuma in 1927 at a large house, which she used to describe as having seven bedrooms. Since she was a child she wrote poems inspired by her surroundings as well as the love she received from her parents. Unfortunately, at age 11 she lost her mother owing to eclampsia from a failed sixth pregnancy at age 39, and the following year, she also lost her father from pneumonia at age 46.  As a result, between 1938-46, she attended boarding school at the Colegio de Lourdes in Valencia as ordained by her spiritual guide, “in locus parentis”, Father Francisco Martínez. At age eighteen, she completed her education as a school hygienist and secretarial accountant. The following year she contracted civil marriage to a Russian emigre, but the marriage was not consummated because he had unaccountably disappeared with all of her savings. A year later or so, she sought out consultation from a lawyer, who eventually married her and became my father. They met while he was a labor union representative for the same Central Tacarigua Sugar Company near lake Valencia where my mother had started working at age 20.

At age 24, she married my father, and after eight pregnancies, only five children survived, of whom I am the second. For eight years, between the ages of 49 to 57, she was involved in a hard-fought divorce with my father. After being married to a lawyer for 27 years, she returned to school so that she could obtain a law degree at age 64 in 1991, specializing in the field of child welfare. In 1998 she stops working as an attorney and dedicates herself fulltime to her grandchildren. In her late 60’s and early 70’s she made a concerted effort to build a corpus of her poetry. In 1999, she and I had a chance to travel in Europe for a month when she was seventy-two. The following year, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although, in 2004, she was still well enough to enjoy meeting for the first time my partner David here in New York. She was really impressed by him and my mother-in-law Eva Lowenberger. Later in 2011, my mother dies of related advanced stages of the Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 84 years. Ever since I could remember, in addition to writing poetry, my mother delved in metaphysics and various esoteric subjects, which I believed had preserved her enthusiasm for life. She told me that she had begun to read Jiddu Krishnamurti in her twenties, and I remembered that she used to speak of him with great admiration since I was a teenager. She loved all the arts, and she liked that we were interested in them. Her encouragement led me to become an artist since early childhood. To conclude this narrative, I would like to read a hand-written notation originally in Spanish, which I received from her five years before her death:

“Wings In Flight”

Keep up the pace of your escape

in step with your fate

Your way is far and wide

and if at the first try you slide

O birdie so wounded

raise your eyes towards heaven

fear not any longer your destiny

for fleeing is a coward’s way

when it’s love that’s divine.

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