Sunday, December 30, 2007

editorial skullduggery in the TLS

For those half-educated truck drivers who enjoy a good read but whose delicate sensibilities are sometimes easily offended ... there is an extremely readable and illuminating essay by A. S. Byatt in the Times Literary Supplement dated November 30, 2007

The header to the article on page 16 reads, "Novel thoughts ... A way out of narcissism ?"

She lays out some careful and very interesting arguments about the evolving scope of the novel and it's subject matter.

But the flyer on the cover simply reads "No more sex in novels, please" , which was unfair to both the author and this reader, I think.
My advice is to ignore the flyer and enjoy the writer.

And then, in the same issue, if you have all day, Gabriel Josipovici's extended gallop around the subject of Modernism is also very useful. This time he looks at many kinds of writing, partly through the prism of Kierkegaard's ideas about existence.

I don't have the time or the talent to go to university and study all those books, so i'm grateful for these informative "tutorials" because they offer stimulus and perspective, navigational beacons in the jungle of ideas ... for those who must creep along the forest floor rather than go swinging through the treetops.

Paula's House of Toast

One of my favourite blogs is called Paula's House Of Toast ... I approach her blog reverentially, she's a wonderful photographer and seems to have a heart of jewelled gold, so i never ever thought I'd even slightly disagree with her about anything until today.

Her blog, titled Kindertotenlied, begins ...

"The Feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us that there is a physics of Good and Evil. In nature, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. The moral calculus may not be exactly the same, but the vectors are identical."

Well yes, sort of. In mechanics, it is useful to think of actions and re-actions. But our Universe isn't simply mechanical and so those naughty physicists have long since introduced the difficult concept of entropy to alarm and confuse us. No, I can't explain entropy easily ... so you'll have to go away and do some work on the subject ... if only out of respect for Paula.

My point, ( Ok, you can't really make clear points whilst foundering in my "fuzzy kind of logic" ) ... where Paula & I might differ, perhaps ... is that I sense that if we did exist in a "moral universe", (and I'm not at all religious), then we'd all be happily dedicated to resisting "moral entropy" ... analytical sociologists want to quantify human conduct but know that individuals can't and don't simply act as vectors, it's only a tendency not a rule ... I really do love the way that our planet's "evolution" seems to be achieving it's complexities as if in opposition to entropy ... but at this point my weary argument drifts off for breakfast ...
Later ...
on reflection, our perspectives don't diverge that much ...
on reflection, they seem almost convergent ...
I'd better take another pill and lie down now. See you later.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

one hundred and twenty years ago ... Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec Monfa drew this lyrical portrait of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent was born in 1853, so he would have been aged about 34.
Henri was born in 1864, so must have been only about 23.
We sometimes hear that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don't think Henri flattered Vincent here, instead i think he brilliantly captured Vincent's delicate agitation, and it is almost as if he used Vincent's palette to do the job ... so I think this pastel is one of the greatest compliments that one great colourist can ever have paid to another.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

if you think education is expensive, then try ignorance ...

the loved one and i were talking about paris, which i hardly know ... and i remembered how i once told some jazz-loving friends that i'd been lost one night many years ago, on my first visit to the city, in the seemingly endless curved corridors of the meridien hotel in the north of paris

i was on the wrong floor & instead of finding a lift, took a wrong turn to a balcony looking down in to an atrium where, far below me, an excellent jazz trio were playing to a very well-dressed ( glittering, indeed ) audience ... in a style very like that of oscar peterson ... but i was extremely tired and only watched a couple of numbers before resuming the search for my room
my very sweet & good-natured friends reacted to this remark with stony-faced contempt ...
"you fool, tristan ! that WAS oscar peterson"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

seasonally serendipitous

on saturday morning, i spent nearly an hour in malmesbury, the town where i grew up

before travelling on, having whizzed around and been lucky enough to see several old friends, i went to meet the loved one who was bargain hunting in oxfam

as i placed my hand upon the shop door, i caught sight of this book in the window

it was expensive ... but irresistible

we journeyed on to wales and upon entering my aunt's house that afternoon, found this dvd perched on top of a table besides her new telly

i explained the co-incidence to her and she replied, "i've just acquired a second copy of it, so you can keep this if you like !"

more weekend stuff

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fernando Fernán-Gómez RIP

if you have never seen it, then it is never too late to watch "the spirit of the beehive"

it is said that his favourite tango, caminito, was played at the cremation

Little path that time has erased,

That one day saw us pass by together,

I have come for the last time,

I have come to tell you my woes.

Little path, you were then,

embroidered in clover and flowering reeds,

a shadow you will soon be,

a shadow the same as myself.

Since she left I live in sadness,

little road my friend, I'm leaving also.

Since she left she never returned,

I'll follow her steps, little path, goodbye.

Little path which every afternoon

I happily travelled singing of my love

don't tell her if she passes through again

that my tears watered your tracks.

Little path covered with thistle,

the hand of time erased your tracks.

I would like to fall beside you

and let time kill us both.

Monday, December 10, 2007

maybe it was the wrong kind of leaf

port and starboard, ennit ?

baby pwincess

winter again


December stillness, teach me through your trees
That loom along the west, one with the land,
The veiled evangel of your mysteries.
While nightfall, sad and spacious, on the down
Deepens, and dusk imbues me where I stand,
With grave diminishings of green and brown,
Speak roofless Nature, your instinctive words;
And let me learn your secret from the sky,
Following a flock of steadfast journeying birds
In lone remote migration beating by.
December stillness, crossed by twilight roads,
Teach me to travel far and bear my loads.

Siegfried Sassoon

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Saturday, December 01, 2007

kirtling street, nine elms

the perimeter wall of the power station has a crack which is moving, so a surveyor has left this interesting guage

this building appears to be unused now, except by these sleeping beauties

a phenomenal amount of crushed stone, gravel and concrete is processed beside the river at nine elms for distribution across the city