Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Lovers on Aran
The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas

To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?

Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves' collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.

Seamus Heaney

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Fury Of Cocks
There they are
drooping over the breakfast plates,
folding in their sad wing,
animal sad,
and only the night before
there they were
playing the banjo.
Once more the day's light comes
with its immense sun,
its mother trucks,
its engines of amputation.
Whereas last night
the cock knew its way home,
as stiff as a hammer,
battering in with all
its awful power.
That theater.
Today it is tender,
a small bird,
as soft as a baby's hand.
She is the house.
He is the steeple.
When they fuck they are God.
When they break away they are God.
When they snore they are God.
In the morning they butter the toast.
They don't say much.
They are still God.
All the cocks of the world are God,
blooming, blooming, blooming
into the sweet blood of woman.

Anne Sexton
640K ought to be enough for anybody.
Bill Gates, 1981

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Dresden Dolls

Haven't done a shuffle for a while. This one was unusual because it contained 2 songs I hadn't heard before - the Fred McDowell and the Belle and Sebastian. I'd downloaded them from the Hype Machine but hadn't got round to listening to them. When I heard the version of Billy Jean I had no earthly idea who was playing it. The Daniel Johnston track is one of the strangest songs ever recorded. He sings it during a radio phone-in, with Yo La Tengo playing along in the radio station studio. And, in its way, it's brilliant.

Belle & Sebastian - Billy Jean (live)
Jim White - Girl from Brownsville Texas
Dresden Dolls - First Orgasm
Daniel Johnston & Yo La Tengo - Speeding Motorcycle
Hank Williams - Ramblin' Man
Vic Chesnutt with Michael Stipe - Injured Bird
Talking Heads - Crosseyed and Painless
Mississippi Fred McDowell - Baby Please Don't Go
REM - I've Been High
Sigur Ros - Gong
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
No man can be said to be perfectly happy that runs the risk of disappointment; which is the case of every man that fears or hopes for anything.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Keep a good head and always carry a light bulb
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
from DA Pennebaker's 1967 documentary 'Don't Look Back'

It's interesting how in this clip Dylan directs the song at just one person in the room - a poet, I think, who requested it. Everyone else is ignored, including a rather uncomfortable looking Donovan Leitch who, of course, had been modelling himself on Dylan in roughly the same way as Cliff Richard had tried to emulate Elvis for the British market. Elsewhere in the film you can see Dylan making sure Donovan knows who's the boss, and he cracks a joke during his concert - 'I looked in the closet - Donovan was there' - which might suggest that the bisexual Donovan had been coming onto him. Who knows? Dylan remains studiously enigmatic throughout the film. But apart from capturing the 23 year old folksinger at the top of his game, 'Don't Look Back' paints a vivid and unusually accurate picture of the social and cultural upheaval which was the real backdrop to the 'Swinging Sixties' in Britain. There's a lot of humour in it, especially the hilarious confrontations between Dylan's gruff, hard-nosed cigar-chewing manager Albert Grossman and the old-style Jewish London music promoter trying fruitlessly to put one over him; or the excruciatingly embarrassing scene when the Lady Mayoress of Nottingham introduces her sons to Dylan and gives him an open invitation to visit them at their Country Manor. All credit to Pennebaker for being in the right place at the right time to capture this priceless material, and for weaving it into such a compelling documentary. His intimate, hand-held style of filming spawned a thousand imitators, but has rarely been bettered.
Doing Nothing
Actually, doing nothing is very difficult. At first, we must begin by approximating doing nothing, and gradually our practice will develop. So meditation is a way of churning out the neuroses of mind and using them as part of our practice. Like manure, we do not throw our neuroses away, but we spread them in our garden. They become part of our richness.
Chogyam Trungpa, from 'The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation'

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A man can’t go along indefinitely carrying around in his pocket a key that doesn’t fit anything.
JD Salinger

Monday, February 20, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
photos of an unknown family who probably owned a liquor store
I especially like the recurring image of the woman in the sunglasses with the white frames.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Great Kitchen at Gormenghast Castle
The walls of the vast room, which were streaming with calid moisture, were built with grey slabs of stone and were the personal concern of a company of eighteen men known as the "Grey Scrubbers." It had been their privilege on reaching adolescence to discover that, being the sons of their fathers, their careers had been arranged for them and that stretching ahead of them lay their identical lives consisting of an unimaginative if praiseworthy duty. This was to restore, each morning, to the great grey floor and the lofty walls of the kitchen a stainless complexion. On every day of the year from three hours before daybreak until about eleven o'clock, when the scaffolding and ladders became a hindrance to the cooks, the Grey Scrubbers fulfilled their hereditary calling. Through the character of their trade, their arms had become unusually powerful, and when they let their huge hands hang loosely at their sides, there was more than an echo of the simian. Coarse as these men appeared, they were an integral part of the Great Kitchen. Without the Grey Scrubbers something very earthy, very heavy, very real would be missing to any sociologist searching in that steaming room, for the completion of a circle of temperaments, a gamut of the lower human values.

Mervyn Peake
Chastity: the most unnatural of the sexual perversions.
Aldous Huxley

Thursday, February 16, 2006

It is now the fall of my second year in Paris. I was sent here for a reason I have not yet been able to fathom. I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive. A year ago, six months ago, I thought that I was an artist. I no longer think about it, I am. Everything that was literature has fallen from me. There are no more books to be written, thank God. This then? This is not a book. This is libel, slander, defamation of character. This is not a book, in the ordinary sense of the word. No, this is a prolonged insult, a gob of spit in the face of Art, a kick in the pants of God, Man, Destiny, Time, Beauty. . . what you will.

Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
There is nothing holier in this life of ours
than the first consciousness of love,
the first fluttering of its silken wings.
HW Longfellow

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

White Dove
The wicker blind is drawn
The plant's slender stem
Dissolves in slanted light

She removes her blouse
Her breasts pale and cherry-tipped
Her face hidden

A skein of hair falls to her shoulder
Echoing the drooping leaves
Two shining bangles kiss her wrist

A poster on the wall
A dove fluttering towards the sun
Finally she is naked.

Monday, February 13, 2006

And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there's always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there's always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now.

Aldous Huxley, from 'Brave New World'

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, February 10, 2006

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.
Walker Evans (1903-1975)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution and Anna Karina as Natasha Von Braun in 'Alphaville'
Alpha-60: You have come from the Outlands. How did you feel as you crossed the galactic spaces?
Lemmy Caution: The silence of the bleak infinite space awed me.
Alpha-60: What is the privilege of the dead?
Lemmy Caution: Never to die.
Alpha-60: Do you know what transforms the night into day?
Lemmy Caution: Poetry.
Alpha-60: What is your religion?
Lemmy Caution: I believe in the imperative of the conscience.
Alpha-60: Do you see a difference between the quality of knowledge and the mystery of love?
Lemmy Caution: I believe on the contrary that there is no mystery of love.
Alpha-60: You are not telling the truth.
Lemmy Caution: I don't understand.
Alpha-60: You are concealing something.
Lemmy Caution: I admit that I might have reason to lie. But how can you differentiate between a lie and the truth?

Man versus machine in Jean-Luc Godard's 'Alphaville' (1965)
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
This evening Irma had been more tiresome than ever. What was it, she had inquired, over and over again, which prevented her from meeting someone who could appreciate and admire her? ... She had her long, unblemished neck. Her bosom was flat, it was true, and so were her feet, but after all a woman can't have everything. "I move well, don't I, Alfred?" she had cried in a sudden passion. "I say, I move well?"

Her brother, whose long pink face had been propped on his long white hand, raised his eyes from the tablecloth on which he had been drawing the skeleton of an ostrich. His mouth opened automatically into something that had more of a yawn than a smile about it, but a great many teeth were flashed. His smooth jaws came together again, and as he looked at his sister he pondered for the thousandth time upon the maddening coincidence of being saddled with such a sister. It being the thousandth time, he was well practised, and his ponder lasted no more than a couple of rueful seconds. But in those seconds he saw again the stark idiocy of her thin, lipless mouth, the twitching fatuity of the skin under her eyes, the roaring repression that could do no more than bleat through her voice; the smooth, blank forehead (from which the coarse, luxuriant masses of her iron-grey hair were strained back over her cranium, to meet in the compact huddle of a bun as hard as a boulder) -- that forehead which was like the smoothly plastered front of an empty house, deserted save by the ghost of a bird-like tenant which hopped about in the dust and preened its feathers in front of tarnished mirrors.

Mervyn Peake, from 'Titus Groan'
spam spam spam spam ...
What is it about spam? We can put a man on the moon, split the atom, clone a sheep, build a computer that can beat the world's greatest chess player, but we can't track down and arrest the handful of criminals - almost exclusively based in America - who systematically deluge our email systems with unsolicited crap. I get 100 spam emails a day minimum, usually many more, and I despair of finding a way of stopping them. I've tried reporting them to Spamcop - which merely confirms that the vast majority originate from a very few sources, but does little to prevent them, I've tried using Mailwasher and complicated filter systems, but nothing works. In the end I have to scan through all this rubbish just to make sure I'm not missing a genuine message from someone. And now I keep reading about how we're going to have to pay for email in future, as a way of preventing the spammers operating. A likely story, and one which I remember Bill Gates touting a few years ago as a solution to our spam woes. Well, if he has anything to do with it you can be sure there are big bucks to be made on it too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Monday, February 06, 2006

The strongest sexual attraction may exist between persons so incompatible in tastes and capacities that they could not endure living together for a week much less a lifetime.
George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The universities do not teach all things, so a doctor must seek out old wives, gipsies, sorcerers, wandering tribes, robbers and such outlaws, and take lessons from them. A doctor must be a traveller. Knowledge is experience.
Bombastus Theophrastus von Hohenheim (1493–1541)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, February 03, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Man is a sun and a moon and a heaven filled with stars; the world is a man and the light of the sun and the stars is his body.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

great photographic portraits #4

Debbie Harry by Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol never let his mask slip. He played the role of deadpan idiot-savant to perfection. "My idea of a good picture is one that's in focus and of a famous person", he said, and his own portrait of Blondie singer Debbie Harry is just that. But, as with many of his disarmingly simple observations, there is a wider truth behind it. We are fascinated by fame, by the physical appearance of those who stand apart from the common herd, and by the extra insight that the raw 'honesty' of a photograph gives us.

I was struck a while ago by a photograph of Chopin in which he stares sullenly at the photographer. He's wearing a heavy overcoat and seems almost to have been caught off-guard, although he is posing for the camera. It told me something fundamental about the man that I couldn't discern in the - inevitably romanticised - sketches and paintings of Chopin I'd seen before. He looks more masculine, more human, and now when I think of Chopin I visualise the photographic image rather than the artists' impressions. Same with Liszt (the late photographs where he looks so priest-like), or the photographs of Baudelaire - a dark-eyed, middle-aged, fading dandy - looking somehow vulnerable and proud at the same time. I'll try to post these examples here sometime.

Meanwhile, I chose this image by Warhol - a man not known primarily as a photographer - to illustrate the point that knowing something about the subject of a photograph adds an extra dimension to it, makes it more intriguing and compelling. Of course I could have chosen a more 'arty' celebrity portrait from that period by a celebrity photographer like Annie Liebovitz, but I like Warhol's simple, straightforward style better. He doesn't allow his own persona to intrude, and he isn't trying to impress us with his abilities as a photographer. And, well, it's actually a lovely portrait; unassuming, sexy, and with that deceptively vacant expression in the eyes that mirrors the man behind the camera.