Saturday, December 31, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

It's that time of year again. Have a good one!

Friday, December 30, 2005

meme thing ...

Four jobs you've had in your life
sawmill worker; window cleaner; potato inspector; oil-rig roustabout
Four movies you could watch over and over
Nuts in May; Les Enfants du Paradis; The Chess Players; Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
Four places you've lived
Auckland, New Zealand; Caithness, Scotland; Easter Ross, Scotland; London - briefly
Four TV shows you love to watch
The Jewel in the Crown; Heimat; Twin Peaks; One Man and his Dog
Four places you've been on vacation
Corfu; Majorca; Tuscany; Amsterdam
Four websites you visit daily
Any three from the links on the right, plus
Four of your favorite foods
cheese souffle; roast pheasant; asparagus; real French bread
Four albums you couldn't live without
Bach's Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould; Incredible String Band's 'Wee Tam and the Big Huge'; Shostakovich's String Quartets; the third Velvet Underground album
Four places you'd rather be right now
Alaska; Hawaii; Ardnamurchan; New York

Thursday, December 29, 2005

from 'His Coy Mistress to Mr Marvell'
The ambiguous "mistress" next you set
Beside this graceless epithet.
"Coy mistress", sir? Who gave you leave
To wear my heart upon your sleeve?
Or to imply, as sure you do,
I had no other choice than you
And must remain upon the shelf
Unless I should bestir myself?
Shall I be moved to love you, pray,
By hints that I must soon decay?
No woman's won by being told
How quickly she is growing old;
Nor will such ploys, when all is said,
Serve to stampede us into bed.

A.D. Hope, 1978
you can read the entire poem here

and Andrew Marvell's original here

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I took advantage of being at the seaside to lay in a store of sucking-stones. They were pebbles but I call them stones. Yes, on this occasion I laid in a considerable store. I distributed them equally between my four pockets, and sucked them turn and turn about. This raised a problem which I first solved in the following way. I had say sixteen stones, four in each of my four pockets these being the two pockets of my trousers and the two pockets of my greatcoat. Taking a stone from the right pocket of my greatcoat, and putting it in my mouth, I replaced it in the right pocket of my greatcoat by a stone from the right pocket of my trousers, which I replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my trousers, which I replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my greatcoat, which I replaced by the stone which was in my mouth, as soon as I had finished sucking it. Thus there were still four stones in each of my four pockets, but not quite the same stones. And when the desire to suck took hold of me again, I drew again on the right pocket of my greatcoat, certain of not taking the same stone as the last time. And while I sucked it I rearranged the other stones in the way I have just described. And so on. But this solution did not satisfy me fully. For it did not escape me that, by an extraordinary hazard, the four stones circulating thus might always be the same four. In which case, far from sucking the sixteen stones turn and turn about, I was really only sucking four, always the same, turn and turn about. But I shuffled them well in my pockets, before I began to suck, and again, while I sucked, before transferring them, in the hope of obtaining a more general circulation of the stones from pocket to pocket. But this was only a makeshift that could not long content a man like me.

Samuel Beckett, from 'Molloy'

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What would be the use of discovering so-called objective truth, of working through all the systems of philosophy and of being able, if required, to review them all and show up the inconsistencies within each system; what good would it do me to be able to develop a theory of the state and combine all the details into a single whole, and so construct a world in which I did not live, but only held up to the view of others?

Søren Kierkegaard, 1855

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas!
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, December 23, 2005

Seasons Greetings!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

When Buddha attained Enlightenment he said, "I have found a teaching like ambrosia, profound, peaceful, free from conception, luminous, uncreated. If I tell of this teaching, no one will understand. So I shall stay in the forest without speaking."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Monday, December 19, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

I've hardly had time to learn how to use my new camera but yesterday the sun came out and I headed off for some waste ground bordering the sea where I planned to try out some of its features. I quite like photographing in bleak places where you really have to look for shots, but I don't get out much, and since my last visit the waste ground had been fenced off - for a new housing development. Noting the security cameras I decided not to scale the fence but drove on and eventually stopped at a small beach. By now the sun had disappeared and a bitter wind was blowing, but once I got down onto the shore I became absorbed in some of the natural 'abstracts' there. Most, like the one above, were composed of a mixture of sand, stones, and human detritus in various stages of decomposition. These random elements occasionally fall together in (to me) visually satisfying, strange or ambiguous ways, and the search for them becomes a form of beach-combing. The camera is great but after half an hour my fingers were too numb to operate it any longer. I plan to go back, but, of course, by then the small sad beach will have become a fully-fledged Marina, with deep-sea Aquarium, Holiday Inn and Fitness Club.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.
Zenna Schaffer

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Peter Kaye

Saturday, December 17, 2005

JS Bach

Robot Composer
Win a 160-CD complete collection of Bach's music

"On this page you'll find links to sound files (RealPlayer required) for three pieces of keyboard music. One of the keyboard pieces is by JS Bach, another has been generated by a computer, and a third has been written by a living composer in the style of Bach. All you have to do is correctly match each of the pieces ..."

This is quite tricky. I have my own theory, but what do you think?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Late evening finally
comes: I unlatch the door
and quietly
await the one
who greets me in my dreams.

Otomo No Yakamochi (718-785), translated by Sam Hamill

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
A Psychological Tip
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.

No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.

Piet Hein

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


They say money buys everything, but that is not true. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; soft beds, but not sleep; knowledge, but not intelligence; glitter, but not comfort; fun, but not pleasure; acquaintances, but not friendship; servants, but not faithfulness; grey hair, but not honour; quiet days, but not peace. The shell of all things you can get for money. But not the kernel. That cannot be had for money.
Arne Garborg

If nothing will serve a man but rich clothes and furniture, statues and plate, a numerous train of servants, and the rarities of all nations, it is not Fortunes's fault, but his own, that he is not satisfied; for his desires are insatiable, and this is not a thirst, but a disease; and if he were master of the whole world, he would be still a beggar. It is the mind that makes us rich and happy, in what condition soever we are; and money signifies no more to it than it does to the gods.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I am descended, do not forget, of William Brodie, a man of substance, a cabinet maker and designer of gibbets, a member of the town council of Edinburgh and a keeper of two mistresses who bore him five children between them. Blood tells.
from 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' by Muriel Spark

Monday, December 12, 2005

It seems the new Superman is worrying Hollywood executives because of the size of his bulge. They fear Brandon Routh's profile in the superhero's skintight costume could be - ahem - 'distracting', and they have ordered the makers of 'Superman Returns' to cover it up. A spokesman said: 'It's a major issue. Brandon is extremely well endowed and we may be forced to erase his package with digital effects.' What is strange about all this is the fact that an actress - let's say, Pamela Anderson - is expected to be well-endowed in certain areas, and if - perish the thought - she isn't, then the studio will immediately set about digitally enhancing her. I suppose it just goes to show that not all bulges are created equal.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Saturday, December 10, 2005

golden eye
This first interview was what every rendezvous must be between persons of passionate disposition, who have stepped over a wide distance quickly, who desire each other ardently, and who, nevertheless, do not know each other. It is impossible that at first there should not occur certain discordant notes in the situation, which is embarrassing until the moment when two souls find themselves in unison.

If desire gives a man boldness and disposes him to lay restraint aside, the mistress, under pain of ceasing to be woman, however great may be her love, is afraid of arriving at the end so promptly, and face to face with the necessity of giving herself, which to many women is equivalent to a fall into an abyss, at the bottom of which they know not what they shall find. The involuntary coldness of the woman contrasts with her confessed passion, and necessarily reacts upon the most passionate lover. Thus ideas, which often float around souls like vapours, determine in them a sort of temporary malady. In the sweet journey which two beings undertake through the fair domains of love, this moment is like a wasteland to be traversed, a land without a tree, alternatively damp and warm, full of scorching sand, traversed by marshes, which leads to smiling groves clad with roses, where Love and his retinue of pleasures disport themselves on carpets of soft verdure.

Honore De Balzac, from 'The Girl With the Golden Eyes'

Friday, December 09, 2005

Ever think that little USB port on your computer is seriously under-employed? Well, why not plug your slippers into it? If you're online at the same time you'll actually feel someone tickling your toes. (no, Yelhsa, don't click it)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

great photographic portraits #3

Ian Hamilton Finlay by Robin Gillanders

This portrait of the Scottish artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay was taken in 1996 by my friend Robin Gillanders at Little Sparta, Finlay's world-famous garden in the hills south of Edinburgh. It's not ideally suited to reproducing at this size because it's hard to see the glowering expression on Finlay's face - an expression which, having met him myself on a couple of occasions, seems quite appropriate. He's a retiring man, but he can be as prickly as a thistle, and he doesn't much like being photographed. The very fact that Robin managed to coax him into a boat on a pond in his garden on a cold March morning is an indication of his respect for Robin as a fellow artist. Robin has been taking portraits for 25 years and told me recently that he feels he has only taken 'six good ones', and that this is one of them. He's being modest, of course, but this is certainly one of my own favourites. In his book 'The Photographic Portrait' Robin says this about it:
"The idea at conception was that there should be a reference to the sea and boats, since this is one of his [Finlay's] major themes. Also that the boat should be his smallest, as a reference to his 'small boy' hobby of making model boats. The background was to be a relatively wild part of the garden, drawing a relationship between nature and culture, which is another of his underlying themes. In retrospect, the portrait suggests other metaphors. Ian occupies a small space in the frame, implying isolation and solitariness - as an internationally exhibited artist largely unknown in his own country at that time and historically at odds with the art establishment, and as someone who, in 25 years, had never left the immediate environment of his garden."
A couple of things I particularly like are the out-of-focus rushes in the foreground which, to my way of thinking, place the viewer in the position of a voyeur, and the fact that there's a sense of movement, as if the figure in the boat has been caught passing through the scene - and would much rather have been obscured behind the branches to the right than exposed in the centre of the frame. You feel that with one pull on the oars he'll slip out of view.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

John & Yoko
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-Ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me ...

Jann Wenner's 1970 'Rolling Stone' interview with John Lennon

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

"Halloo! happy and want a lark? Right you are; I'm your man. Here I am, frisking round you, leaping, barking, pirouetting, ready for any amount of fun and mischief. Look at my eyes if you doubt me. What shall it be? A romp in the drawing-room and never mind the furniture, or a scamper in the fresh, cool air, a scud across the fields and down the hill, and won't we let old Gaffer Goggles' geese know what time o' day it is, neither! Whoop! come along."

Or you'd like to be quiet and think. Very well. Pussy can sit on the arm of the chair and purr, and Montmorency will curl himself up on the rug and blink at the fire, yet keeping one eye on you the while, in case you are seized with any sudden desire in the direction of rats.

And when we bury our face in our hands and wish we had never been born, they don't sit up very straight and observe that we have brought it all upon ourselves. They don't even hope it will be a warning to us. But they come up softly and shove their heads against us. If it is a cat she stands on your shoulder, rumples your hair, and says, "Lor,' I am sorry for you, old man," as plain as words can speak; and if it is a dog he looks up at you with his big, true eyes and says with them, "Well you've always got me, you know. We'll go through the world together and always stand by each other, won't we?"

Jerome K Jerome, from 'On Cats And Dogs'

Monday, December 05, 2005

On the Nature of Love
The night is black and the forest has no end;
a million people thread it in a million ways.
We have trysts to keep in the darkness, but where
or with whom -- of that we are unaware.
But we have this faith -- that a lifetime's bliss
will appear any minute, with a smile upon its lips.
Scents, touches, sounds, snatches of songs
brush us, pass us, give us delightful shocks.
Then peradventure there's a flash of lightning:
whomever I see that instant I fall in love with.
I call that person and cry: 'This life is blest!
For your sake such miles have I traversed!'
All those others who came close and moved off
in the darkness -- I don't know if they exist or not.

Rabrindranath Tagore, translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson

Sunday, December 04, 2005

As the rushing behemoth spurns the waves, so did he rove to the uttermost bounds of his art. From the cooing of doves to the rolling of thunder, from the craftiest interweaving of well-weighed expedients of art up to that awful pitch where planful design disappears in the lawless whirl of contending natural forces, he had traversed and grasped it all. He who comes after him will not continue him; he must begin anew, for he who went before left off only where art leaves off.

from Beethoven's funeral oration by the poet Franz Grillparzer, 29 March 1827

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
music with taste
the vegetable orchestra
listen to some cuts here

Friday, December 02, 2005

dramatic news from Chile
A robber was met by a chorus of laughter when his raid on a school was mistaken for a play rehearsal. Parents, teachers and pupils were in the school in Providencia when a man entered and shouted: "This is a robbery!". By a strange coincidence, students at the school had just been rehearsing a play which opened with exactly the same words. Eventually people understood what was going on and the robber took the school's registration money and ran off. However, he ran towards the local police station and was arrested by officers on their way to investigate the incident. Meanwhile, in Moscow a man stole a Nissan Primera from a garage repair shop, having watched mechanics doing a paint job on the car and then leave the keys in the ignition. Unfortunately he was unaware that the car also needed new brakes fitted, and witnesses watched him sail through a set of traffic lights and smash into another car a short distance down the road.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blue-black, the sky over Venice,
With a pricking of yellow stars.
There is no moon,
And the waves push darkly against the prow
Of the gondola,
Coming from Malamocco
And streaming toward Venice.
It is black under the gondola hood,
But the yellow of a satin dress
Glares out like the eye of a watching tiger.
Yellow compassed about with darkness,
Yellow and black,
Gorgeous -- barbaric.
The boatman sings,
It is Tasso that he sings;
The lovers seek each other beneath their mantles,
And the gondola drifts over the lagoon, aslant to the coming dawn.

Amy Lowell, from 'The City of Falling Leaves'