Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

I'm heading north to spend a few days standing on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream. See you soon.
Oh imagination, the greatest treasure of mankind, the inexhaustible spring at which the artist and the scholar come to drink. Remain with us, even though acknowledged and revered only by the few.
Franz Schubert

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Glenn Gould
If you've never seen Glenn Gould playing Bach (in this case his second (1981) interpretation of the Goldberg Variations) go here. And if you have, go anyway. Be sure and wait at least until the explosive transition from the lovely opening aria to the first variation, which perfectly demonstrates his controlled yet bold and thrilling style.

Link at 'Sounds & Fury' found via the ever excellent such stuff.
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
First lines quiz
Thanks to everyone who took part. Here are the few you didn't get:

2. I know your leaving is too long overdue
Tom Rush - No Regrets
9. Time, all the long red lines, that take control
Mercury Rev - Holes
12. I bid farewell to the state of old New York
Kate and Anna McGarrigle - Talk to me of Mendocino
23. Brothers and sisters I have a confession to make
Alabama 3 - Hypo Full of Love
Jade Stairs
On jade stairs the white of dewfall.
Deeply soaked the silken slippers.
She lets fall the crystal blind.
Sees, through gauze, a Moon of Autumn.

Misted the flowers weep as light dies
Moon of white silk sleeplessly cries.
Stilled - Phoenix wings.
Touched - Mandarin strings.
This song tells secrets that no one knows
To far Yenjan on Spring breeze it goes.
To you it flies
Through the night skies.
Sidelong - Eyes. How
White tears fill now!
Heart’s pain? Come see -
In this mirror with me.

Li Po

translations by AS Kline

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lines for a Taoist Adept
My friend lives high on East Mountain.
His nature is to love the hills and gorges.
In green spring he sleeps in empty woodland,
Still there when the noon sun brightens.
Pine-tree winds to dust his hair.
Rock-filled streams to cleanse his senses.
Free of all sound and stress,
Resting on a wedge of cloud and mist.

Li Po (699-762 AD)

Green-Water Stream
To reach the Yellow-Flowered River
Go by the Green-Water Stream.
A thousand twists and turns of mountain
But the way there can’t be many miles.
The sound of water falling over rocks
And deep colour among pines.
Gently green floating water-plants.
Bright the mirrored reeds and rushes.
I am a lover of true quietness.
Watching the flow of clear water
I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream.

Wang Wei (699-759 AD)

translations by AS Kline

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Friday, September 22, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I borrowed this excellent idea from udge. The challenge he set on his blog was to identify the title and artist of songs from their first lines, and post answers in the comments. Udge's rules: no Googling the lyrics, but Googling a song title when you can't remember the name of the band, or the name of the album when you can't remember the title of the song, is ok. However, if you were wrong you can't submit the correct answer :) Good luck.

update: Norman has a version here, and Ill Man has a variation here.

1. Seen the arrow on the doorpost
Bob Dylan - Blind Willie McTell (norman)
2. I know your leaving is too long overdue
3. I'll take the position, assume the missionary part
REM - Falls To Climb (ill man)
4. Your sorry eyes, they cut through bone, make it hard to leave you alone
Beck - Lost Cause (yelhsa)
5. Come over to the window my little darling
Leonard Cohen - So Long Marianne (arevik)
6. (spoken) I was lying in my bed last night staring at a ceiling full of stars
Antony and the Johnsons with Lou Reed - Fistful of Love (rb)
7. I saw her standin' on her front lawn just twirlin' her baton
Bruce Springsteen - Nebraska (ill man)
8. And so the story goes, they wore the clothes
David Bowie - The Bewley Brothers (norman)
9. Time, all the long red lines, that take control
10. Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
The Boxtops - The Letter (elaine)
11. I was watching with one eye on the other side
White Stripes - Hotel Yorba (mary j)
12. I bid farewell to the state of old New York
13. She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge
Pulp - Common People (panoptican)
14. I'll sing it one last time for you
Snow Patrol - Run (antonia)
15. Many's the time I've been mistaken
Paul Simon - American Tune (rb)
16. With a crooked smile and a heart-shaped face
Nick Cave - West Country Girl (rb)
17. Caught between the twisted stars, the plotted lines
Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliette (rb)
18. We play these parlour games
Elvis Costello - Indoor Fireworks (panoptican)
19. Here's room 506
Nico - Chelsea Girls (panoptican)
20. Oh play me a blue song and fade down the light
Richard Thompson - Waltzing's for Dreamers (norman)
21. Just when every ray of hope was gone
Steve Earle - My Old Friend the Blues (john)
22. Oh baby you can walk you can talk just like me
Talking Heads - Thankyou For Sending Me An Angel (ill man)
23. (spoken) Brothers and sisters I have a confession to make
24. Always alone, never with a herd
The Byrds - Chestnut Mare (norman)
25. I can't look at the rocket launch
Eels - I Like Birds (ill man)
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
As Far As My Eye Can See In My Body’s Senses
All the trees all their branches all of their leaves
The grass at the foot of the rocks and the houses en masse
Far off the sea that your eye bathes
These images of day after day
The vices the virtues so imperfect
The transparency of men passing among them by chance
And passing women breathed by your elegant obstinacies
Your obsessions in a heart of lead on virgin lips
The vices the virtues so imperfect
The likeness of looks of permission with eyes you conquer
The confusion of bodies wearinesses ardours
The imitation of words attitudes ideas
The vices the virtues so imperfect

Love is man incomplete

Paul Eluard, translated by AS Kline

Monday, September 18, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
I went to the Ron Mueck exhibition last week, and it was quite an experience. The effort that goes into producing these lifelike - but not life-size - sculptures is incredible. Mueck is a former film model maker with no formal art training, but you quickly realise that this isn't just a demonstration of his technical skills. Some of the pieces are HUGE, and it's impossible not to be affected - or perhaps disconcerted - by their sheer size, but there's a coherence about the show as a whole, and the smaller works play their part too. The captions for the exhibits are mercifully free of art-speak, which is understandable because work like this speaks for itself. There's a feeling of distance and restraint running through the exhibition, but it's still very accessible. One thing you can say about Mueck is that his art is for everyone, and the show has been drawing punters through the doors in their thousands. If you're in Edinburgh before it closes on 1st October I'd recommend a visit.
how green are your weapons?
British arms manufacturer BAE Systems is planning a new range of environmentally friendly weapons, including lead-free bullets. 'Lead can harm the environment and pose a risk to people', they say without a trace of irony. The company also aims to make quieter warheads to cut noise pollution, eco-friendly rockets, bio-degradable explosives, and grenades that produce less harmful smoke. BAE director Dr Debbie Allen said: 'Weapons are going to be used, and when they are we try to make them as safe to the user as possible to limit the collateral damage. We also try to impact as little as possible on the environment.'

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

As I was taking this photograph yesterday a couple of chavs stopped behind me on the pavement: 'Aye that'll be a very fuckin' interestin' photey, will it no pal? Nae fuckin' parkin'...' I ignored them, but I'd like to see some of their minimalist work.
When Ingmar and I made 'Winter Light', which takes place in a church on a winter day in Sweden, we decided we should not see any shadow in it at all because there would be no logical shadow in that setting. I said, 'Oh, that will be an easy picture for me because the light doesn't change in three hours'. Ingmar said, 'That's what you think. Let's go to the churches in the north of Sweden'. And there we sat for weeks, looking at the light during the three hours between eleven and two o'clock. We saw that it changed a lot, and it helped him in writing the script because he always writes the moods.

Shooting With Ingmar Bergman
A conversation with Sven Nykvist at the American Film Institute 1984

Friday, September 15, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
extremely important news...
Square-shaped watermelons are to be sold in the UK. Research in Germany shows that redheads have more sex than women with any other hair colour. A Serbian man needed emergency surgery after he had sex with a hedgehog on a witchdoctor's advice. 25% of Russians admit to having had sex while driving. It takes 90 years to drain an Olympic swimming pool using tea biscuits.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Life is beautiful. All that is dark and ignominious will disappear. All that is beautiful will triumph.
Dmitri Shostakovich, quotation appended to his 3rd String Quartet
I am Human, let nothing human be foreign to me.
Michel de Montaigne

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
What will remain of any artist is not his imitation of nature, since nature is changeable and transient: what is eternal is his approach to nature, what he can achieve by the reconstruction, and not the imitation of nature.
Jean Renoir

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Banksy - Kissing Policemen graffiti

People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.

The time of getting fame for your name on its own is over. Artwork that is only about wanting to be famous will never make you famous. Any fame is a by-product of making something that means something.

see also this video, and this one, and maybe even this one.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
Now there is music from which a man can learn something.
Mozart, on hearing JS Bach motets in Leipzig

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
There are strange flowers of reason to match each error of the senses.
Louis Aragon

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I observe that there is a good deal of German music on the program, which is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspective and I want to introspect.
Sherlock Holmes, from 'The Red Headed League'

Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, I hear them all at once. What a delight this is! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing, lively dream.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart is sunshine.
Antonin Dvorak

Friday, September 08, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony.
Benjamin Britten

A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.
conductor Leopold Stokowski to a talkative audience

If I had the power, I would insist on all oratorios being sung in the costume of the period - with a possible exception in the case of the Creation.
Ernest Newman, music critic, New York Post 1924

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

a meme found at an udge and a wink

1. Name one book that changed your life
I was 13 years old, in my first term at boarding school, and desperately unhappy. I hated the strict school regime, and didn't get on at all with my fellow pupils - 99% of whom came from more privileged backgrounds, spoke with upper-class accents, and had already been at 'Preparatory' school, which meant they were quite accustomed to single-sex boarding school life. This was the type of school where you got up at 7am and started the day with a cold bath, and where you could be caned by prefects for all sorts of minor misdemeanours, so naturally I missed my home, my family, and my friends. One day I found a book lying on a table in the library, sat down and started to read it. It was a cheap paperback thriller about a detective on the trail of the Ned Kelly gang in Australia. I remember the descriptive passages as being very evocative, and the story itself was quite gripping, but the main thing was that it provided me with an escape from the painful realities of my existence at the time. I was sucked into its alternative world, and for a few precious days I found a refuge there. I can actually remember consciously thinking that things couldn't be so bad if I could lose myself in a book in this way, and that realisation was very reassuring. I felt a kind of relief that at least this pleasure hadn't been been wrenched from my grasp.

Until today I had no recollection of what the book was called. All I could remember was that the detective's name was Bonaparte. Now, thanks to the wonders of the interweb, I have tracked it down. It was 'Bony and the Kelly Gang' by Arthur W Upfield. I even found the back-cover blurb - 'Tucked away in the mountains of New South Wales is Cork Valley, inhabited by an odd lot of hard-drinking Irishmen. Here a government officer, looking for illicit 'stills', has been murdered, and it's Napoleon Bonaparte's job to find the killer. Disguised as a horse thief the famous half-aboriginal detective hitchhikes into the valley. But before Bony can spring the trap he develops a strong affection for these lawless, lusty characters'. Oh well, I was 13 after all.

2. One book you've read more than once
'Zen Flesh, Zen Bones' by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki. I first read this in my early twenties and often return to it. It's actually a compilation of four ancient texts - 101 Zen Stories, The Gateless Gate, 10 Bulls, and Centering - which are clearly translated and simply presented. No fancy theorising, just the original words. This is a short book, but if I could find the the time I would re-read Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann, especially 'The Idiot' and 'Doctor Faustus' respectively.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island
My first thought was 'Robinson Crusoe', which I read for the first time last year and really enjoyed, but on reflection I'd choose a more modern book that might help me cope with the solitude of island life. Adam Nicolson's 'Sea Room' is about his love affair with the Shiants, a small group of Hebridean islands which he inherited from his father. It's full of wonderful descriptions of the times he spent there, often for months on end, but it's really a celebration of the islands themselves - their character and their history, and the strange magic of small, isolated islands everywhere. One phrase from it sticks in my mind as being typical of his easy, poetic, style: he describes lenticular clouds hanging low in the evening sky as being 'like sucked sweeties'.

4. One book that made you laugh
Irvine Welsh's 'Trainspotting' actually made me laugh out loud. The humour really is blacker than the darkest night, but the book deserves all the accolades that have come its way because it really does 'push the envelope', as they say. Welsh may be the Quentin Tarantino of Scottish literature, but the film of 'Trainspotting' was a cop-out, aimed squarely at the mass market and therefore both a missed opportunity and a disappointment.

5. One book that made you cry
Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 'Sunset Song'. The story of a girl, Chris Guthrie, growing up on a small farm in north-east Scotland in the years leading up to the First World War. It's like a sad but beautiful piece of music.

6. One book you wish you'd written

Anything by Samuel Beckett, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, who invariably managed - often in the same breath - to be both drily humorous and brutally honest about the human condition. If I had to choose one book it would probably be 'Molloy'. The royalties from a Beckett book would certainly come in handy for buying my own private stretch of salmon river in the Highlands, not to mention the villa in the south of France.

7. One book you wish had never been written
'The Flounder' by Gunther Grass. 'The Tin Drum' was such an extraordinary tour-de-force that I could scarcely believe how dreadful this one was. I imagine I am the only person, aside from the author, ever to have read it from cover to cover, and I did so purely to prove it could be done. All I can remember is that it's about cookery. Umberto Eco's tedious and vastly overrated 'The Name of the Rose' comes a close second.

8. One book you're currently reading
An account of the life of Lorenzo the Magnificent. I started it last year and have just picked it up again. Lorenzo de Medici was patron to all the great Florentine writers, philosophers and artists who shaped the Renaissance in southern Europe, including da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo. Unfortunately the author of this rather turgid tome, Hugh Ross Williamson, was not equally gifted, and I'm now realising why I didn't finish it first time round.

9. One book you've been meaning to read
'What's Welsh for Zen?' by John Cale. I'm especially interested in what he has to say about his years working with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. I don't have that book yet, but I've had 'All the Pretty Horses' by Cormac McCarthy sitting on my bookshelf for ages, so maybe I'll read that next. I meant to take it on holiday with me this year, but forgot.

10. No tagging.

If the idea appeals to you, please tag yourself (and leave a comment)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
an undercurrent of pigginess...
I've just been reading about Kira O'Reilly, a daft Irish 'performance artist' who's been dancing naked with a dead pig in a Cornwall art gallery. She invites one person at a time to watch for ten minutes as she sits in a set with a stuffed rabbit and a plastic swan and performs a ‘crushing slow dance’ with the pig in her arms. Apparently she's trying to ‘identify’ with the pig, which she periodically cuts with a knife. Sounds like a real bundle of fun, and if only Cornwall wasn't practically at the other end of the earth I'd be trotting along to the Newlyn Art Gallery as we speak.

Of course, as Tom Wolfe pointed out long ago in 'The Painted Word', a stunt like this could never attract the funds to stage it without a side-serving of impenetrable art-waffle to make it kosher in the eyes of the Arts Council, National Lottery fund, gallery curators, sponsors, critics, and sundry middle-class pseudo-intellectuals. Naturally enough Ms O'Reilly is keen to get her snout in the trough, and has one to hand:
This work emerges from research with skin biopsies from newly dead pigs, cultivating the skin cells in vitro, in preparation to work from a biopsy of my own skin. The work left me with an undercurrent of pigginess, unexpected fantasies of mergence and interspecies metamorphoses began to flicker into my consciousness; making fiercely tender and ferocious identifications with the pig as stand in, double, twin, doll, imaginary self.
Oh please ...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Musical people are so absurdly unreasonable. They always want one to be perfectly dumb at the very moment when one is longing to be absolutely deaf.
Oscar Wilde

Friday, September 01, 2006

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
The gardener does not make the seed grow.