Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The tactful aspect of audacity lies in knowing to what extent one can go too far.
Jean Cocteau

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Leda and the Swan
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

William Butler Yeats

Monday, May 29, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Sea and sky and the folk who wrote and fought and were learned, teaching and saying and praying, they lasted but as a breath, a mist of fog in the hills, but the land was forever, it moved and changed below you, but was forever.
Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Sunset Song

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Canzone 19
There are creatures in the world with such other
vision that it is protected from the full sun:
yet others, because the great light offends them
cannot move around until the evening falls:

and others with mad desire, that hope
perhaps to delight in fire, because it gleams,
prove the other power, that which burns:
alas, and my place is with these last.

I am not strong enough to gaze at the light
of that lady, and do not know how to make a screen
from shadowy places, or the late hour:

yet, with weeping and infirm eyes, my fate
leads me to look on her: and well I know
I wish to go beyond the fire that burns me.

Petrarch, translated by AS Kline
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, May 26, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Anyone who is easily distracted and suffers from a hunger for useless information, along with a tendency towards time-wasting, should under no circumstances go here.
Why is it more proper to relieve our hunger and thirst than to rid ourselves of melancholy?
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

still from 'Through A Glass Darkly' by Ingmar Bergman
Ingmar Bergman site now launched in English.
There are some great things on this site if you hunt around, including videos, interviews, and images (in the Media links for individual films). I was interested to discover that, for the 1994 Göteborg Film Festival, Bergman chose his eleven (why eleven?) favourite films:
The Circus (Charlie Chaplin, USA 1928)
Quai des Brûmes, (Marcel Carné, France 1938)
Orchestra Conductor (Andrzej Wajda, Poland 1979)
Raven's End (Bo Widerberg, Sweden 1963)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, France 1927)
The Phantom Carriage (Victor Sjöström, Sweden 1921)
Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, Japan 1951)
La Strada (Federico Fellini, Italy 1954)
Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, USA 1950)
The German Sisters (Margarethe von Trotta, BRD 1981)
Andrei Rublov (Andrej Tarkovskij, Soviet Union 1969)
I would probably have a couple of these in my top eleven - La Strada and Andrei Rublov - although I haven't seen all the others.
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Love means to learn to look at yourself
The way one looks at distant things
For you are only one thing among many.
And whoever sees that way heals his heart,
Without knowing it, from various ills—
A bird and a tree say to him: Friend.

Then he wants to use himself and things
So that they stand in the glow of ripeness.
It doesn’t matter whether he knows what he serves:
Who serves best doesn’t always understand.

Czeslaw Milosz

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
- You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

- No temptation can ever be measured by the value of its object.

- The true traveller is he who goes on foot, and even then, he sits down much of the time.

- Voluptuaries, consumed by their senses, always begin by flinging themselves with a great display of frenzy into an abyss. But they survive, they come to the surface again. And they develop a routine of the abyss: 'It’s four o’clock ... At five I have my abyss.'

- Never touch a butterfly's wing with your finger.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Love To Burn
Her handbag bulges with broken dreams
and discarded promises.
A tightly shut purse contains
her unspent love.

Some days she is tearful
and tragically wasted.
There is nothing left
she hasn't tasted
on her manically magical samba,
salsa parade.
Old lovers line the way,
like tombstones,
whispering in the shade.

Clickety, clicking,
in new heels and hairdo,
she is confidently swinging
the bar door open.

Even at her age a few heads turn.

Sitting on a barstool, oiled by a sip of rum,
she gradually unzips her favourite purse.
She has love
to burn.

David Glacken

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jean-Luc Godard
I'm always doing what is not done. What I never do is what everyone else is doing. I always begin with ideas and that doesn't help with the audience. But I always prefer a good audience. I'd rather feed 100 percent of 10 people. Hollywood would rather feed 1 percent of 1 million people.
Jean-Luc Godard

mike leigh
I am in the entertainment business and I make no bones about it. If my movie ever was not entertaining, it's a turkey as far as I'm concerned. My aim is to entertain. People forget what that word means. It means to make you stay here, to keep you in your seat. One of the things that drives me mad about watching films in this country is that nobody can sit still for two minutes -- everyone's in and out like bloody monkeys in a cage and eating and talking.
Mike Leigh

Werner Herzog
I don't have an awareness of myself or my work beyond my physical existence. I am a hard-working man and that's that. I've never had an affinity with romantic culture. There is no romanticism in me. Posterity can kiss my ass."
Werner Herzog
Ever since that afternoon in Paradise he had walked like a man half asleep, his eyes turning inward. His first exhilaration had been succeeded by a black darkness of doubt. He had adventured into the Wood and found magic there, and the spell was tugging at his heartstrings. . . . Was the thing of Heaven or of Hell? . . . Sometimes, when he remembered the girl's innocence and ardour, he thought of her as an angel. Surely no sin could dwell in so bright a presence. But he remembered, too, how lightly she had held the things of the Kirk, how indeed she was vowed to the world against which the Kirk made war ... Her beauty was of the flesh, her graces were not those of the redeemed. And always came the conviction that nevertheless she had stolen his heart.

John Buchan, from Witch Wood, 1927
little known fact #549
A single 'mother' potato from southern Peru gave rise to all the varieties eaten today.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Andrei Tarkovsky
Cinema is an art form which involves a high degree of tension, which may not generally be comprehensible. It's not that I don't want to be understood, but I can't, like Spielberg, say, make a film for the general public — I'd be mortified if I discovered I could. If you want to reach a general audience, you have to make films like Star Wars and Superman which have nothing to do with art. This doesn't mean I treat the public like idiots, but I certainly don't take pains to please them.
Andrei Tarkovsky
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
little known fact #273
George Bernard Shaw named his garden shed after the UK capital so that when unwanted visitors called they could be told he was in London.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Hawk Roosting
I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.

The convenience of the high trees!
The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth's face upward for my inspection.

My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot

Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads -

The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:

The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.

Ted Hughes

Monday, May 15, 2006

I make no pretence of justifying the laxity of my morals; I never resort to untruthful pretexts to excuse my wanderings from the path of virtue. I freely confess my faults, if such avowals can serve any useful purpose. Now I have acknowledged my guilt in general terms, I mean to make a clean breast of all my follies. I curse my failings, yet I cannot help finding pleasure in the very faults that I deplore. How burdensome is the yoke that one would fain cast off. I have not the strength nor the will-power to govern my passions; they bear me along with them, even as the swift tide hurries away the slender bark.

Ovid, Amores
Know that there are two kinds of stars - the heavenly and the earthly, the stars of folly and the stars of wisdom. And just as there are two worlds, a Little World [the Microcosm, man] and a Great World [the Macrocosm, the Universe] and just as the little one rules over the great one, so the stars of the microcosm rule over and govern the stars of heaven.

Paracelsus (1493–1541)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
splitting hairs
We are continually concerned about the state of our sanity, the state of our mind, and we question how many trips we are laying on our world or ourselves -- being too heavy or too light-handed. When all those questions are coming through, sometimes even though the motivation and the situation might be right, and even though our understanding might be right, at the same time, our preoccupations begin to drive us into complete madness. We would like to split hairs, constantly questioning the question of the question of the question of the question, constantly again and again and again. Then we don't find any room to actually allow ourselves to practice, to sit and develop any discipline at all.

Chogyam Trungpa, 1975

Friday, May 12, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
When a tree comes to be viewed, no longer as the body of the tree-spirit, but simply as its abode which it can quit at pleasure, an important advance has been made in religious thought. Animism is passing into polytheism. In other words, instead of regarding each tree as a living and conscious being, man now sees in it merely a lifeless, inert mass, tenanted for a longer or shorter time by a supernatural being who, as he can pass freely from tree to tree, thereby enjoys a certain right of possession or lordship over the trees, and, ceasing to be a tree-soul, becomes a forest god. As soon as the tree-spirit is thus in a measure disengaged from each particular tree, he begins to change his shape and assume the body of a man, in virtue of a general tendency of early thought to clothe all abstract spiritual beings in concrete human form.

JG Frazer, from The Golden Bough, 1922

Thursday, May 11, 2006

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A Melody by Scarlatti
How clear under the trees,
How softly the music flows,
Rippling from one still pool to another
Into the lake of silence.

Aldous Huxley

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Carmen de Boheme
Sinuously winding through the room
On smokey tongues of sweetened cigarettes, --
Plaintive yet proud the cello tones resume
The andante of smooth hopes and lost regrets.

Bright peacocks drink from flame-pots by the wall,
Just as absinthe-sipping women shiver through
With shimmering blue from the bowl in Circe's hall.
Their brown eyes blacken, and the blue drop hue.

The andante quivers with crescendo's start,
And dies on fire's birth in each man's heart.
The tapestry betrays a finger through
The slit, soft-pulling; -- -- -- and music follows cue.

There is a sweep, -- a shattering, -- a choir
Disquieting of barbarous fantasy.
The pulse is in the ears, the heart is higher,
And stretches up through mortal eyes to see.

Carmen! Akimbo arms and smouldering eyes; --
Carmen! Bestirring hope and lipping eyes; --
Carmen whirls, and music swirls and dips.
"Carmen!," comes awed from wine-hot lips.

Finale leaves in silence to replume
Bent wings, and Carmen with her flaunts through the gloom
Of whispering tapestry, brown with old fringe: --
The winers leave too, and the small lamps twinge.

Morning: and through the foggy city gate
A gypsy wagon wiggles, striving straight.
And some dream still of Carmen's mystic face, --
Yellow, pallid, like ancient lace.

Hart Crane

Monday, May 08, 2006

All that a man has to say or do that can possibly concern mankind, is in some shape or other to tell the story of his love,—to sing; and, if he is fortunate and keeps alive, he will be forever in love. This alone is to be alive to the extremities. It is a pity that this divine creature should ever suffer from cold feet; a still greater pity that the coldness so often reaches to his heart. I look over the report of the doings of a scientific association and am surprised that there is so little life to be reported; I am put off with a parcel of dry technical terms. Anything living is easily and naturally expressed in popular language. I cannot help suspecting that the life of these learned professors has been almost as inhuman and wooden as a rain-gauge or self-registering magnetic machine. They communicate no fact which rises to the temperature of blood-heat. It doesn’t amount to one rhyme.
Thoreau's Journal, 6 May 1854

A few things about Henry David Thoreau
While collecting a shoe at the cobblers he was arrested and jailed for refusing to pay taxes. When asked at dinner which dish he preferred he said 'the nearest'. While living in his cabin at Walden he taught a mouse to come to the sound of his flute. Emerson said of him: 'I love Henry, but I cannot like him; and as for taking his arm, I should as soon think of taking the arm of an elm-tree.'
chocolate fist
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The child and the savage (the primitive) do not distinguish the real from the fantastic. I remember very clearly that at five or six years of age I wanted to 'send my heart' to a little girl with whom I was in love (I mean my material heart). I could see it in the middle of straw, in a basket, an oyster basket.

from a letter from Gustave Flaubert to George Sand, 1869

Sunday, May 07, 2006

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

The people who have no need of the supernatural, are rare. Philosophy will always be the lot of the aristocrats. However much you fatten human cattle, giving them straw as high as their bellies, and even gilding their stable, they will remain brutes, no matter what one says. All the advance that one can hope for, is to make the brute a little less wicked.

from a letter from Gustave Flaubert to George Sand, 1868

Friday, May 05, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow; and why? There is no answer, except that we feel perverse, using the word with no comprehension of the principle. To-morrow arrives, and with it a more impatient anxiety to do our duty, but with this very increase of anxiety arrives, also, a nameless, a positively fearful, because unfathomable, craving for delay. This craving gathers strength as the moments fly. The last hour for action is at hand. We tremble with the violence of the conflict within us, – of the definite with the indefinite – of the substance with the shadow. But, if the contest has proceeded thus far, it is the shadow which prevails, – we struggle in vain. The clock strikes, and is the knell of our welfare. At the same time, it is the chanticleer-note to the ghost that has so long over-awed us. It flies – it disappears – we are free. The old energy returns. We will labour now. Alas, it is too late!

from 'The Imp Of The Perverse' by Edgar Allan Poe

Ximinez: Now, old woman! You are accused of heresy on three counts. Heresy by thought, heresy by word, heresy by deed, and heresy by action. Four counts. Do you confess?
Old Lady: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Ximinez: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Biggles! Fetch...THE CUSHIONS!
Jarring chord. Biggles holds out two cushions
Ximinez: Now, old lady -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of heresy, reject the works of the ungodly -- two last chances. And you shall be free -- three last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Old Lady: I don't know what you're talking about.
Ximinez: Right! If that's the way you want it. Cardinal! Poke her with the soft cushions!
Ximinez: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Biggles: I confess!
Ximinez: Not you!

Monty Python's Flying Circus, Series 2, 1970

Thursday, May 04, 2006

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Time wakens a longing more poignant than all the longings caused by the division of lovers in space, for there is no road back into its country. Our bodies were not made for that journey; only the imagination can venture upon it; and the setting out, the road, and the arrival: all is imagination.

Edwin Muir from 'An Autobiography'

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
the kiss
One caress alone gives this deep sensation of two beings welded into one -- it is the kiss. No violent delirium of complete possession is worth this trembling approach of the lips, this first moist and fresh contact, and then the long, lingering, motionless rapture.

from 'The Kiss' by Guy de Maupassant

Monday, May 01, 2006

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Nevertheless, there are days when I consider myself below imbecility. I have still a globe of goldfish and that amuses me. They keep me company while I dine. Is it stupid to be interested in such simple things? Adieu, it is late, I have an aching head.

from a letter from Gustave Flaubert to George Sand, 1866
commonplace books
As they flit like so many little bees between Greek and Latin authors of every species, here noting down something to imitate, here culling some notable saying to put into practice in their behavior, there getting by heart some witty anecdote to relate among their friends, you would swear you were watching the Muses at graceful play in the lovely pastures of Mount Helicon, gathering flowers and marjoram to make well-woven garlands.

The Renaissance humanist Erasmus on the subject of commonplace books, describing the activities of the famously well-educated daughters of his friend Thomas More. Blogging, they say, is a revitalised form of this past art.