Thursday, May 31, 2007

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Cruel memory of the days of liberty that are no more! To be free in mind, spirit, soul, and everything. To be free not to act, even not to think. To be free to forget time, to despise ambition, to mock glory, not to believe in love any more. To be free to go north, south, east, or west, to sleep in an open field, to live off very little, to wander without aim, to dream, to lie down and drowse for days on end to the gentle breeze of the warm Scirocco! True freedom, absolute and immense!

Hector Berlioz, from 'Memoirs', recalling his visit to Italy as a student in 1830

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Albrecht Dürer - Melencolia I

Or let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook.

John Milton, from Il Penseroso, quoted here
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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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daaaa dadada da da da ...
Haydn - Cello Concerto in C - Finale - Rostropovich
Haydn - Cello Concerto in C - Finale - Han-na Chang

there'a a lovely moment 5 minutes 14 seconds into the second one when Han-na Chang smiles at the conductor, as only a 13 year-old can...
rolling stone - the 100 immortals
what! no leonard cohen, no pink floyd, no jonathan richman, no motorhead, no richard thompson, no brian eno, no tom waits, no nick cave, no steve earle, no talking heads, no captain beefheart, no peter green, no pogues, no blondie? oh, and trust old bonio to wangle the job of writing about elvis!

click the link at the bottom of the page for the next fifty

Monday, May 28, 2007

the floral equivalent of raspberry ripple ice-cream
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
peter franck ~ a bit like martin parr on viagra
(contains nudity)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

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Friday, May 25, 2007

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On July 23, 1988, Bruce Springsteen skipped a VIP-appointment during his tour of Denmark and took a walk down the street. There he heard street musician John Magnusson playing one of his songs and asked if he could borrow a guitar. They played a few songs together while about 50 people stood around and listened. This clip was recorded by one of them.
Postmodernism Disrobed
"Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content. The chances are that you would produce something like the following:
We can clearly see that there is no bi-univocal correspondence between linear signifying links or archi-writing, depending on the author, and this multireferential, multi-dimensional machinic catalysis. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: all these dimensions remove us from the logic of the excluded middle and reinforce us in our dismissal of the ontological binarism we criticised previously.
This is a quotation from the psychoanalyst Félix Guattari, one of many fashionable French 'intellectuals' outed by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont in their splendid book 'Intellectual Impostures'*..."

from a review by Richard Dawkins in 'Nature'. more

*It's interesting to note that for the American market the book title was dumbed down from 'Intellectual Impostures' to 'Fashionable Nonsense'.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

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Art cleanses the soul of the dust of everyday life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

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It is impossible for a man to be cheated by anyone but himself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

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Monday, May 21, 2007

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

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The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me. I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fo-Sa.

Ezra Pound, 1915
(from the the notes of Ernest Fenollosa on the original poem by Li Po)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

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Friday, May 18, 2007

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ye olde shuffle...
Paul Westerberg - These Days
Jackson Browne - Fountain of Sorrow
Francoise Hardy - Il Est Trop Loin
Byrds - I Wasn't Born to Follow
Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliet
Emmylou Harris - Red Dirt Girl
Tom Waits - Waltzing Matilda
Billy Bragg - A New England
Mazzy Star - Fade into YOu
Bob Dylan - I Threw It All Away

Thursday, May 17, 2007

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To Celia
Drink to me, only, with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth ask a drink divine:
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee, late, a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st back to me:
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

Ben Jonson

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

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Music was invented to confirm human loneliness.
DH Lawrence

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

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Maiden Name
Marrying left your maiden name disused.
Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,
Your voice, and all your variants of grace;
For since you were so thankfully confused
By law with someone else, you cannot be
Semantically the same as that young beauty:
It was of her that these two words were used.

Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
Lying just where you left it, scattered through
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -
Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless, wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you. Or, since you're past and gone,

It means what we feel now about you then:
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
So vivid, you might still be there among
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
Instead of losing shape and meaning less
With your depreciating luggage laden.

Philip Larkin

Monday, May 14, 2007

Guys & Dolls

On the day when I left home to make my way in the world, my daddy took me to one side. 'Son,' my daddy says to me, 'I am sorry I am not able to bankroll you to a large start, but not having the necessary lettuce to get you rolling, instead I'm going to stake you to some very valuable advice. One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not accept this bet, because as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider.

Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) in 'Guys and Dolls', 1955, based on a story by Damon Runyon

Sunday, May 13, 2007

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

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Grantchester Meadows
'Icy wind of night be gone, this is not your domain'
In the sky a bird was heard to cry
Misty morning whisperings and gentle stirring sounds
Belied the deathly silence that lay all around.

Hear the lark and harken to the barking of the dog fox gone to ground
See the splashing of the kingfisher flash into the water
And a river of green is sliding unseen beneath the trees
Laughing as it passes through the endless summer making for the sea.

In the lazy water meadow I lay me down
All around me golden sun flakes settle on the ground
Basking in the sunshine of a bygone afternoon
Bringing sounds of yesterday into this city room.

Pink Floyd, from Ummagumma

Friday, May 11, 2007

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world news
A radio-controlled vibrator has been banned in Cyprus after it was branded a threat to national security. A US inventor has created a computer housed in a dead beaver. Motorhead singer Lemmy collects the toys from Kinder eggs. Scientists say artificial snot produces a dramatic improvement in the range of smells detected by an artificial nose. A Chinese park has painted stripes on a horse and is charging people to have pictures taken with the 'zebra'. Bulgarian train drivers have been issued with rotating chairs so they can pee out of the window without having to stop. Caffeinated soap has been launched to help people who don't have the time for both a shower and a coffee in the morning. A designer has created bat-style boots to allow travellers to hang upside down on the London Underground.
Chance is always there. We all use it. The difference is a poor photographer meets chance one out of a hundred times and a good photographer meets chance all the time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Germaine: A steady woman is important to you because then you know for sure you have someone to go home to in case you can’t find someone else. You notice every woman, don't you?
Picasso: Many.
Germaine: I mean, every woman. Waitresses, wives, weavers, laundresses, ushers, actresses, women in wheelchairs. You notice them, don't you?
Picasso: Yes.
Germaine: And when you see a woman, you think, "I wonder what she would be like." You could be bouncing your baby on your knee, and if a woman walks by, you wonder what she would be like.
Picasso: Go on.
Germaine: You have two in one night when the lies work out, and you feel it’s your right. The rules don’t apply to you because the rules were made up by women, and they have to be if there’s going to be any society at all. You cancel one when someone better comes along. They find you funny, bohemian, irresistible. You like them young, because you can bamboozle them, and they think you’re great. You want them when you want them, never when they want you. Afterwards, you can't wait to leave, or if you're unlucky enough to have her at your place, you can't wait for her to leave, because the truth is, we don’t exist afterwards, and all conversation becomes meaningless because it's not going to get you anywhere because it's already got you there. You're unreachable. Your whole act is a camouflage. But you are lucky because you have a true talent that you are too wise to abuse. And because of that, you will always be desirable. So when you wear out one woman, there will be another who wants to taste it, who wants to be next to someone like you. So you'll never have to earn a woman, and you'll never appreciate one.
Picasso: But I appreciate women. I draw them, don't I?
Germaine: Well, that's because we're so goddamn beautiful, isn't it?

from the play 'Picasso at the Lapin Agile' by Steve Martin

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

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vicarious analogues
(The artist) has in more than one sense distanced himself from, to use his words, 'a moribund issue', and entered a world of open diversity and retrospective reflection, which quixotically is presented in contemporary terms as 'a mirroring'. This by no means distances him from the flow of the now, in fact this distance is a constructed bemused withdrawal, to place himself at a vantage point from which he may have a very open view of the past and its conjunction with the present. This is not so atypical of the artist today. It is, however, rare in its emphasis on the vicarious analogues that run within the works and its ironic cul de sac of reversion and abstract counterpoint. One suspects that behind the use of landscape quotation and its consequent ideal, romantic striving after transcendence, there is a more ironic exercise. He moves through a series of quotations, drawn from material almost accidentally found or browsed, and then purposely destroys their mood, their connotations put somewhere else in that axiom of an ever and 'endlessly rising canon'. The idea of 'the canon' is put under scrutiny, it becomes a staircase that has not been completed, or perhaps a chain of self-contained sections that lead to to successive blind alleys ...

This priceless load of baloney is from a catalogue for an exhibition of paintings by a Scottish artist. I've met the artist a couple of times and seen a few of his abstract paintings, but I defy anyone tell me what on earth the critic who wrote the passage above is banging on about. If I were the artist in question I would be highly embarrassed to have such unmitigated drivel associated with my work. The paintings themselves struck me as unremarkable - the sort of works which might have raised an eyebrow 75 years ago, but which now merely look derivative. The artist is, it seems, fairly successful, but the critique strikes me as an attempt to lend depth and weight to something which is essentially superficial. Doubtless such pseudo-intellectual waffling ticks all the right boxes in cultural circles, but I personally wouldn't recognise 'an ironic cul de sac of reversion and abstract counterpoint' if it jumped up and bit me on the bum.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

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This is strange, Henry. Before, as soon as I came home from all sorts of places I would sit down and write in my journal. Now I want to write you, talk with you... I am so aroused by living—god, Henry, in you alone I have found the same swelling of enthusiasm, the same quick rising of the blood, the fullness, the fullness... Before, I almost used to think there was something wrong. Everybody else seemed to have the brakes on... I never feel the brakes. I overflow. And when I feel your excitement about life flaring, next to mine, then it makes me dizzy.

Anais Nin to Henry Miller, 1932

Monday, May 07, 2007

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

One breath away from mother Oceanía
Your nimble feet make prints in my sands
You have done good for yourselves
Since you left my wet embrace
And crawled ashore
Every boy, is a snake is a lily
Every pearl is a lynx, is a girl
Sweet like harmony made into flesh
You dance by my side
Children sublime
You show me continents
I see islands
You count the centuries
I blink my eyes
Hawks and sparrows race in my waters
Stingrays are floating
Across the sky
Little ones, my sons and my daughters
Your sweat is salty
I am why


Saturday, May 05, 2007

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction
When awareness of the outside began to come back, she clung to his breast, murmuring ‘My love! My love!’ And he held her silently. And she curled on his breast, perfect.

But his silence was fathomless. His hands held her like flowers, so still and strange. ‘Where are you?’ she whispered to him.

‘Where are you? Speak to me! Say something to me!’

He kissed her softly, murmuring: ‘Ay, my lass!’

But she did not know what he meant, she did not know where he was. In his silence he seemed lost to her.

DH Lawrence, from 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'

Thursday, May 03, 2007

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Billie Holiday

I'll Be Seeing You
I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through.

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children's carousel
The chestnut trees
The wishing well.

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way.

I'll find you
In the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you.

Irving Kahal & Sammy Fain

I was listening to this old Billie Holiday classic, and realised how great the last two lines are. I love the ambiguity of the song's title too. Today would have been my mother's birthday. She loved this kind of music.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

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As for measure and other technical apparatus, that’s just common sense: if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you.
American poet Frank O’Hara from 'Personism: A Manifesto', 1959

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Nothing is permanent, except change.