Monday, February 28, 2005

Is it progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?
Stanislaw Lec
Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

Water sculpture outside Edinburgh's Gallery of Modern Art
Essence is what is born in you, personality is what you acquire. Essence is your own, personality is not your own. Personality is too heavy, too strong; it surrounds Essence like a shell, so nothing can reach it directly, everything has to pass through personality. Essence cannot grow in these conditions, but if personality becomes more transparent, impressions and external influences will penetrate through it and reach Essence, and Essence will begin to grow.

PD Ouspensky

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005

For my own part I never had the least thought or inclination of turning Poet till I got heartily in Love, and then Rhyme and Song were, in a manner, the spontaneous language of my heart.
Robert Burns
Lomo copyright Alan Edwards
Strugnell's Haiku

The cherry blossom
In my neighbour's garden - Oh!
It looks really nice.

Note: this is one of several works attributed by Wendy Cope to the South London poet Jason Strugnell, whose misfortune has been to fall under the influence of one great poet after another.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Don't Look Back

Rambling out of the wild west
Leaving the towns I love the best
Thought I'd seen some ups and downs
'Till I come into New York town
People going down to the ground
Buildings going up to the sky.

Wintertime in New York town
The wind blowing snow around
Walk around with nowhere to go
Somebody could freeze right to the bone
I froze right to the bone
New York Times said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years
I didn't feel so cold then.

I swung on to my old guitar
Grabbed hold of a subway car
And after a rocking, reeling, rolling ride
I landed up on the downtown side:
Greenwich Village.

I walked down there and ended up
In one of them coffee-houses on the block
Got on the stage to sing and play
Man there said: "Come back some other day
You sound like a hillbilly
We want folksingers here.

from 'Talkin' New York' on 'Bob Dylan' (1962)

I'm reading Volume 1 of Bob Dylan's 'Chronicles', his much hyped autobiography. 150 pages into it and to be honest I'm baffled by the critical praise that's been heaped on it. Dylan may have been hailed - to his eternal dismay - as the voice of a generation but he is far from being one of its intellectual giants. There are a few interesting autobiographical nuggets in here, but his story is mostly presented in a blunt, strangely lacklustre and fragmented way.

Here's a recollection from his early years in New York, a time when he was apparently educating himself in every branch of the arts, politics, philosophy and history:

Once I put on Beethoven's 'Pathetique' sonata -- it was melodic, but then again, it sounded like a lot of burping and belching and other bodily functions. It was funny -- sounded almost like a cartoon. Reading the record jacket I learned that Beethoven had been a child prodigy and he'd been exploited by his father and that Beethoven distrusted all people for the rest of his life. Even so, it didn't stop him from writing symphonies.

This passage is clearly more about Bob's ego than Beethoven. The subtext is: Beethoven wrote pleasant tunes but he can easily be dismissed by someone who is about to turn the world of music on its head. Dylan, the acerbic, misunderstood visionary who made it to the top by dint of gritty determination and irrepressible genius, also had a tough childhood and distrusts everyone, but it hasn't stopped him writing his own symphonies either, has it? I've seen grown men moved to tears by Beethoven's 'Pathetique', but Bob obviously ain't one of them.

To me Dylan gives a sharper, wittier picture of his early experiences playing the New York folk clubs in the song quoted above than he does in 100 pages of laborious prose. Occasionally 'Chronicles' seems like the literary equivalent of his dire mid-70's movie 'Renaldo and Clara', minus the music. Maybe it will improve, but if you want to know what Dylan was really like in his swaggering, youthful prime I'd recommend watching DA Pennebaker's highly entertaining documentary 'Don't Look Back' instead.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Nude Descending a Staircase by Marcel Duchamp

Nude Descending a Staircase
Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh.
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.

XJ Kennedy
Doctor Hunter S Thompson - I do not advocate the use of dangerous drugs, wild amounts of alcohol and violence and weirdness - but they've always worked for me

Some may never live, but the crazy never die ...
No-one seems to be able to account for Hunter S Thompson's recent tragic demise, although friends say he had been in pain after breaking a leg in Hawaii, 'executing a hairpin turn at the mini-bar', as he put it. However, it seems that a suicide note has been found, and my friend Terry informs me that the good doctor left instructions for his ashes to be fired from a cannon.

I like the story about how HST decided to stand for Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in 1970 because 'there might be some serious fun in politics'. The Republican candidate sported a crew cut, which prompted Thompson to shave his head and continually refer to his rival as 'my long-haired opponent' - a good joke in 1970. He only lost by a handful of votes.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

I used to think as I looked out on the Hollywood night, 'There must be thousands of girls sitting alone like me, dreaming of becoming a movie star. But I'm not going to worry about them. I'm dreaming the hardest.'
Marilyn Monroe
Theory of Poetry
Know the world by heart
Or never know it!
Let the pedant stand apart—
Nothing he can name will show it:
Also him of intellectual art.
None know it
Till they know the world by heart.

Take heart then, poet!

Archibald MacLeish

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards
Look, my love, on the wall, and here, at this Eastern picture.
How still its scene, and neither of sleep nor waking:
No shadow falls from the tree or the golden mountain,
The boats on the glassy lake have no reflection,
No echo would come if you blew a horn in those valleys.

And look away, and move. Or speak, or sing:
And voices of the past murmur among your words,
Under your glance my dead selves quicken and stir,
And a thousand shadows attend where you go.

That is your movement. There is a golden stillness,
Soundless and fathomless, and far beyond it;
When brow on brow, or mouth to mouth assembled,
We lie in the calm of morning. And there, outside us,
The sun moves on, the boat jogs on the lake,
The huntsman calls.
And we lie here, our orient peace awakening,
No echo, and no shadow, and no reflection.

Henry Reed

Saturday, February 19, 2005

girl in the train - copyright © 2004 marten kross

File Magazine publishes photographs that treat subjects in unexpected ways. You can navigate through a collection of (currently) 262 images starting here with a polar bear in the museum in Edinburgh, or view groups of thumbnails starting here. There are lots of wonderful photographs among them, such as this and this and this. Quite a few remind me of lomos, for example the image above - 'Girl in the Train' by Marten Kross.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Roses in the Night
After night creeps up the sky, the earth belongs to us and to the gods. We come from the fields to the brink of the stream; our bare feet guide us from the heavy-shadowed woods into the clearings.

Tiny stars shine brilliantly enough for the tiny shadows that we are. Sometimes we find a sleeping roe beneath the low-hung branches.

But that which is more beautiful at night than any other thing, is a place known only to ourselves which draws us through the fastness of the wood; a heavy bush of mysterious roses.

For no other touch of god-head upon earth can equal the scent of roses in the night. How is it that when I found myself alone I was not intoxicated by their smell?

Pierre Louÿs

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

A beautician's has opened across the road from where I live.
Are they trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Love (III)
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

George Herbert

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.
Jorge Luis Borges

Monday, February 14, 2005

Re-statement of Romance
The night knows nothing of the chants of night.
It is what it is as I am what I am:
And in perceiving this I best perceive myself

And you. Only we two may interchange
Each in the other what each has to give.
Only we two are one, not you and night,

Nor night and I, but you and I, alone,
So much alone, so deeply by ourselves,
So far beyond the casual solitudes,

That night is only the background of our selves,
Supremely true each to its separate self,
In the pale light that each upon the other throws.

Wallace Stevens

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Reading Hunter Thompson's quote below about Timothy Leary reminded me of this book by the late Art Kleps, founder and Chief Boo Hoo of the Neo-American Church.

"Tim’s charm, as friend and foe alike admitted, was awesome. As is often the case, I think much of it was due to his voice, which trilled and tinkled, caressing the ear with gentle melodies and punctuations, vulgarizing by comparison every competing instrument. He almost never raised it. Even when angry or malicious, the voice stayed within the limits of its charm. One might hear a hard rain of sleet or the light clash of cymbals, but never squawks, mumbles, whines or any other kind of ugly noise. Furthermore, his voice, as if it had some separate spirit or function of its own, did not, like most voices, simply carry Tim’s thoughts like a load in a cart; it often spoofed and laughed at what it was required to support, thereby anticipating and disarming the critical reactions of his audience."
"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like—"
"It's 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye'!" old Phoebe said. "It's a poem. By Robert Burns."
"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."
She was right, though. It is "If a body meet a body coming through the rye." I didn't know it then, though.
"I thought it was 'If a body catch a body,'" I said. "Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around— nobody big, I mean— except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff— I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

from 'The Catcher in the Rye' by JD Salinger

Saturday, February 12, 2005

We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling 'consciousness expansion' without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force -- is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

from 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' by Hunter S Thompson

Friday, February 11, 2005

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
Edgar Allan Poe

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just part of the way the world works. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
Douglas Adams

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.
Emile Zola
When she had said goodbye to her husband and her children and there was only a minute left before the third bell, I ran into her compartment to put a basket, which she had almost forgotten, on the rack, and I had to say goodbye. When our eyes met in the compartment our spiritual fortitude deserted us both; I took her in my arms, she pressed her face to my breast, and tears flowed from her eyes. Kissing her face, her shoulders, her hands wet with tears -- oh, how unhappy we were! -- I confessed my love for her, and with a burning pain in my heart I realised how unnecessary, how petty, and how deceptive all that had hindered us from loving was. I understood that when you love you must either, in your reasonings about that love, start from what is highest, from what is more important than happiness or unhappiness, sin or virtue in their accepted meaning, or you must not reason at all.

Anton Chekhov - from the short story 'About Love'

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

late afternoon, Gullane Bay
A Jordanian man divorced his wife after discovering that she was his virtual girlfriend. Bakr Melhem had been flirting with an apparently unmarried woman on an internet chat room for months, but when he met her at a bus station she turned out to be his wife. He immediately shouted 'I divorce thee' three times, ending the marriage. She responded by calling him 'a liar' then fainted.

A 79-year-old Florida granny grabbed the railing and clung on when a drawbridge lifted up as she crossed it. Drivers spotted her hanging 100 feet up in the air, her handbag dangling from her ankle, and alerted the operator. A bored Austrian granny was arrested when she staged a fake bank robbery. The 80-year-old threatened a cashier with a toy pistol and hissed: 'This is a stick up', then started to laugh. A young thug who tried to mug an 88-year-old former German boxing champion was knocked out cold by a right hook on his chin. A granny in England has left her cleaning job for a career driving 75-tonne dumper trucks. A 78-year-old Chinese granny scaled the outside of her apartment block after locking herself out of her 5th floor flat.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Syd Barrett
syd barrett's got a bike, you can ride it if you like ...
if you don't believe me check this out ...
other people's secrets ...

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Twice or thrice had I loved thee,
Before I knew thy face or name;
So in a voice, so in a shapeless flame,
Angels affect us oft, and worshipped be;
Still when, to where thou wert, I came,
Some lovely glorious nothing I did see.
But since my soul, whose child love is,
Takes limbs of flesh, and else could nothing do,
More subtle than the parent is
Love must not be, but take a body too;
And therefore what thou wert, and who,
I bid love ask, and now
That it assume thy body I allow,
And fix itself in thy lip, eye, and brow.
John Donne

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

There are people who know everything, but that's all they know.
Niccolò Macchiavelli

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Some Kinda Love
Some kinds of love, Marguerita told Tom
Between thought and expression lies a lifetime
Situations arise because of the weather
And no kinds of love are better than others

Some kinds of love, Marguerita told Tom
Like a dirty French novel, the absurd courts the vulgar
And some kinds of love, the possibilities are endless
And for me to miss one would seem to be groundless

I heard what you said, Marguerita heard Tom
And of course you're a boy, but in that you're not charmless
For a boy is a straight line, that finds a wealth in division
And some kinds of love are mistaken for vision

Put jelly on your shoulder, let us do what you fear most
That from which you recoil, but which still makes your eyes moist
Put jelly on your shoulder, lie down upon the carpet
Between thought and expression, let us now kiss the culprit

I don't know just what it's all about
Put on your red pajamas and find out
Mmmm ... ohhhh la-dee-ta-ta-ta

Lou Reed, from the third Velvet Underground album
Lomo copyright Alan Edwards