Friday, June 30, 2006

In Scotland the white-tailed sea eagle was hunted to extinction, but was reintroduced to the islands off the west coast about 20 years ago. It is a conservation success story up here, and I see that the English are now wanting a piece of the action too. I have no objections to that - these eagles were once found all around the British coastline, so there's no reason why they shouldn't be reintroduced elsewhere - but it's the tone of the recent press release from English Nature that irritates me:
Reintroducing sea eagles represents a major opportunity to lead a high profile 'flagship species' project that will highlight the organisation at the forefront of a major biodiversity delivery initiative.
In other words, if you strip away the inane 'corporate-speak', the bottom line is that sea eagles can be exploited as a means of raising the profile of English Nature and ensuring valuable media coverage for the organisation. Jolly good. That should keep the well-paid men in suits in their jobs and the government backing in place, and as an added bonus the eagles may even benefit too.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.
Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves,
this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice,
this loftiness has roots that go deep.

Tao Te Ching

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
This blog is 3 years old today, and to be honest I'm a little disappointed in it. I had hoped that by now it would be mature enough to take some control over its own destiny, perhaps posting the occasional witticism or anecdote of its own, but alas no. It still needs spoon-feeding and is showing very few signs of growing up. However, despite its inadequacies it has proved to be a thing of value to me, if only because of the people who have visited it over the years and who, in many cases, I feel I have come to know quite well. Many of you have blogs of your own which have given me a great deal of pleasure, so a big thank you to you all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Every soul is a melody which needs renewing.
Stéphane Mallarmé

That love, which is the highest joy, which is divine simplicity itself, is not for you moderns, you children of reflection. It works only evil in you. As soon as you wish to be natural, you become common. To you nature seems something hostile; you have made devils out of the smiling gods of Greece, and out of me a demon. You can only exorcise and curse me, or slay yourselves in bacchantic madness before my altar. And if ever one of you has had the courage to kiss my red mouth, he makes a barefoot pilgrimage to Rome in penitential robes and expects flowers to grow from his withered staff, while under my feet roses, violets, and myrtles spring up every hour, but their fragrance does not agree with you. Stay among your northern fogs and Christian incense; let us pagans remain under the debris, beneath the lava; do not disinter us. Pompeii was not built for you, nor our villas, our baths, our temples. You do not require gods. We are chilled in your world.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, from Venus in Furs

Monday, June 26, 2006

Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.
Jacques Prévert
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Sunday, June 25, 2006

When we came out from the Elysee Palace, there was a gigantic limousine waiting for us and four police on motorcycles. It is probably one of the few times I have experienced my fame. I thought it was so fantastic that I laughed to the point of shouting. I laughed so that I fell over on the floor of this big car.

Ingmar Bergman after receiving the Legion of Honour in Paris in 1985
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
From Dublin to Ithaca
Worth it alone for the great image by an unknown street photographer. I wonder who the woman clinging to his arm is. His mother?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Seamus Heaney

Friday, June 23, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.
WH Auden

I'm not sure I entirely agree with this. The eye will return again and again to a particular object of beauty, for example, but I think it's quite thought provoking.
today's spam
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hmmmnnn... could this be what my petite john-doe needs?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The pheasant cries
as if it just noticed
the mountain.
Kobayashi Issa

note: I think this haiku by Issa only really makes sense if you know the loud astonished wtf squawk a cock pheasant makes, usually when surprised, but sometimes for no apparent reason.
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Now, with cable TV and the Internet, the marketing of mainstream music takes place in a whirlwind of media bits. Gossip, paparazzi pix, photo opportunities and appearances and even some actual music is the content. In a way this bundle that constitutes mainstream music begins to establish a model that could be the future of recorded music — that the recordings are the “loss leaders” for everything else. Loss leaders are the taste of a product you give away free in order to lead someone into your world ... And now maybe free recorded music will be the thing that hooks you into the universe of Britney, Ashley or the Ying Yang Twins. The music will be your introduction into a universe of merch, relationships, video clips, links, on and on.
David Byrne

Monday, June 19, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Do not ask the name of the person who seeks a bed for the night. He who is reluctant to give his name is the one who most needs shelter.
Victor Hugo

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
It was certainly not I who sent you in September, a little flower in an envelope. But, strange to say, at the same time, I received in the same manner, a leaf of a tree.
Gustave Flaubert to George Sand (1863)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Today each of us lives several hundred years in a decade.
Marshall McLuhan

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

'Fortune is arranging matters for us better than we could have shaped them ourselves, for look there, friend Sancho Panza, where thirty or more monstrous giants present themselves, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortune.'
'What giants?' said Sancho Panza.
'Those thou seest there,' answered his master, 'with the long arms, some have them nearly two leagues long.'
'Look, your worship,' said Sancho Panza; 'what we see there are not giants but windmills....'

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Since music is a language with some meaning at least for the immense majority of mankind, although only a tiny minority of people are capable of formulating a meaning in it, and since it is the only language with the contradictory attributes of being at once intelligible and untranslatable, the musical creator is a being comparable to the gods, and music itself the supreme mystery of the science of man, a mystery that all the various disciplines come up against and which holds the key to their progress.

The musical emotion springs precisely from the fact that at each moment the composer withholds or adds more or less than the listener anticipates on the basis of a pattern that he thinks he can guess, but that he is incapable of wholly divining. . . . If the composer withholds more than we anticipate, we experience a delicious falling sensation; we feel we have been torn from a stable point on the musical ladder and thrust into the void. . . . When the composer withholds less, the opposite occurs: he forces us to perform gymnastic exercises more skillful than our own.

Claude Levi-Strauss
It is sometimes best to slip over thoughts and not go to the bottom of them.
Madame de Sévigné

Monday, June 12, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Yesterday I was sitting in the garden enjoying some late afternoon sunshine when an aphorism suddenly popped into my head: something pithy and profound, as aphorisms tend to be - although I don't claim to come up with them very often, if at all. I must remember that, I thought, but of course I can't, which just about sums up the state of my mind right now. If it comes back to me I'll post it here, but don't hold your breath, because I haven't the faintest idea what it was about.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

How is it that we remember the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not remember how often we have recounted it to the same person?
François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Friday, June 09, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Love is made by two people, in different kinds of solitude.
Louis Aragon

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The true value of a human being is determined by his ability to attain liberation from himself.
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The Word
The word was born
in the blood,
it grew in the dark body, pulsing,
and took flight with the lips and mouth.

Farther away and nearer,
still, still it came
from dead fathers and from wandering races,
from territories that had become stone,
that had tired of their poor tribes,
because when grief set out on the road
the people went and arrived
and united new land and water
to sow their word once again.
And that's why the inheritance is this:
this is the air that connects us
with the buried man and the dawn
of new beings that haven't yet arisen.

Still the atmosphere trembles
with the first word
with panic and groaning.
It emerged
from the darkness
and even now there is no thunder
that thunders with the iron sound
of that word,
the first
word uttered:
perhaps it was just a whisper, a raindrop,
but its cascade still falls and falls.

Later on, meaning fills the word.
It stayed pregnant and was filled with lives,
everything was births and sounds:
affirmation, clarity, strength,
negation, destruction, death:
the name took on all the powers
and combined existence with essence
in its electric beauty.

Human word, syllable, flank
of long light and hard silver,
hereditary goblet that receives
the communications of the blood:
it is here that silence was formed by
the whole of the human word
and not to speak is to die among beings:
language extends out to the hair,
the mouth speaks without moving the lips:
suddenly the eyes are words.

I take the word and move
through it, as if it were
only a human form,
its lines delight me and I sail
in each resonance of language:
I utter and I am
and across the boundary of words,
without speaking, I approach silence.

I drink to the word, raising
a word or crystalline cup,
in it I drink
the wine of language
or unfathomable water,
maternal source of all words,
and cup and water and wine
give rise to my song
because the name is origin
and green life: it is blood,
the blood that expresses its substance,
and thus its unrolling is prepared:
words give crystal to the crystal,
blood to the blood,
and give life to life.

Pablo Neruda, 1962

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The future of the book is the blurb.
Marshall McLuhan
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
He who rightly knows that all things follow from the necessity of the divine nature, and happen according to the eternal laws and rules of Nature, will surely find nothing worthy of hate, mockery, or disdain.
Benedict de Spinoza (1632-77)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Gordon (shouting): Hello. I was wondering if I might trouble you for a cup of strong black coffee, and in the process engage you with an anecdote of no small amusement. The name is Gordon Cole and I couldn't help but notice you from the booth, and ... well ... seeing your beauty now I feel as though my stomach is filled with a team of bumblebees.
Shelly: You don't have to shout. I can hear you.
Gordon: I heard that! I heard that!
Shelly: Um, do you want anything besides coffee?
Gordon: I heard you perfectly!
Shelly: And I can hear you, honest.
Gordon: You don't understand. You don't understand Miss Johnson. For 20 years I've been asking people to please speak up, but for some weird reason I can hear you clear as a bell. Say something else.
Shelly: Um, do you want pie with your coffee?
Gordon: Good Lord, I can hear you perfectly. This is like some sort of miracle. A ...a phenomenon.
Log Lady: What's wrong with miracles?
Gordon: What's that?
Log Lady: This cherry pie is a miracle.
Gordon: Would you please ask the lady with the log to speak up.
Shelly: Um, the pie, she was talking about the cherry pie.
Gordon: I heard you again. I heard you again.
Shelly: Would you like some pie?
Gordon: Massive, massive quantities, and a glass of water sweetheart. My socks are on fire.

Twin Peaks writer/director David Lynch, in the role of Agent Dale Cooper's rather deaf boss Gordon Cole, chatting up the gorgeous Madchen Amick as waitress Shelly Johnson

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Ombra mai fu
di vegetabile,
cara ed amabile,
soave più.

Never was the shade
of vegetation
more dear and friendly,
more sweet.

from Handel's Xerxes

Friday, June 02, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction