Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Can you (make a) spell?

Schoolboy by Ben Brotherton

Bratt, Brunt and Brotherton not only serve as an example of alliteration, they also commit embarrassingly silly acts. It was impossible to separate them because pupils had to sit in alphabetical order. Appearances can be deceptive, they say, but those lads possessed no devastating disguises, they were as wilful as their countenance suggested. Certain peculiar practices will have to remain undisclosed but there cannot be any doubt that it was this thoroughly untrustworthy threesome who threw the Principal quite off course during his lecture on the necessity of accelerated learning. The speaker appealed to the audience to “think this thought through”, and implored them not to compromise their grades by succumbing to time thieves such as TV, MSN and other acronyms. He laughed aloud, pleased with his metaphor. “Appreciate your privileges… the first class edification you receive….”, he proclaimed, and he meant it.

Suddenly, three whispered interjections - “ars longa”, “viola bastarda” and “impunity”, with emphasis on “puny”. Audience participation was not encouraged. Somebody squeaked, and it was not the one with the straight As.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Octember and the 2 Henrys

Lamb House, Rye, East Sussex, Henry James' Residence, 1898 - 1916

The yellow leaves of the lilac
happily dapple the last of the green grass,
a lush golden flush before winter.
Palest sky and no cats,
only a fat lonely magpie,
and another wake at the Club.
Mirrored inside and outside:
the sacred and the profane,
prose to the left, prosaic to the right:
The Master and The Masterpieces Guide,
Funk, spunk, junk and bunk.
You couldn’t make it up if you tried.

A book by a German born in Amsterdam, translated into English from French, about a German philosopher notorious for posing translation problems.

Wry Rye-mmmh:

Bread, Henry’s house, Catcher, whisky and rye;
But it was shandy we drank in the heat
On the tombstones - oblivious to James (why?) -
Which is made from lemonade ‘n wheat.

A quote:

“And this in the black frenzied nothingness of the hollow of absence leaves a gloomy feeling of saturated despondency not unlike the topmost tip of desperation which is only the gay juvenile maggot of death’s exquisite rupture with life.”

(Capricorn, p 99; yes, he was.)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sweeping Brushstrokes

Applin, Good Morning Norm Jacques (detail), 2009
Found here

Damn hard this abandon, damn hard and tiring. Every day, and the days are sunny, I watch a New Zealand-All Black of a Cat. Chunky and self-assured, he surveys his territory from the top of the garage, the quintessential cat on a hot tin roof. I live the dream of having arrived in the Promised Land, while in anyone else’s reality, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, I haven’t budged from Square One. The inversion of the Bildungsroman: How I came undone. No “building” to de-construct. Not here, not now! The cat knows this, he has probably named and appropriated me.

Und die ganze Zeit: Hälfte des Lebens. Wo nehme ich, wenn es Winter wird, die magischen Mäntel her?

I want to leap like Cat, transcend myself, administer quicksilver injections, and, with sweeping brushstrokes, paint horrible beauty. If, by the end of December, my head is bald, I shall blame Heidegger - I’d be in good company: others claim he gave them ulcers. Touched by minds so vast, mine is about to detonate.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Conrad Eliot James Austen

Sir Jacob Epstein's bust of Conrad (1924 - the year of his death), Birmingham Art Gallery

I wake up and my fears have fought their way from my core to my skin after sleepless dreams and dreamless sleep. In that no-one’s land between the states of sleeping and waking, sweat demands and end to this, demands action. Yes! No more! I’m infused with change until I find my Id is playing with the controls as usual.

Let’s see: CAD and Winterson, Erich Fried and Searching for England, late Graham Greene through Martin Amis’ eyes. On a stroll through Linz and Habsburger Barock, not only the discovery of Plague Columns and blatant hankering for magic numbers, but also the connection between paving stones and concentration camps. Karl Kraus and Thomas Bernhard twice, through him Wittgenstein again, and did you know that Erika Mann was married to W.H. Auden, and the bloke from Trainspotting to Angelina Jolie? He’s Mr Knightley on the BBC, and I’ve struggled with F.R. Leavis again (hence the title) – another loop closing. I could also throw 12 Lucifers at ‘Numbers’, and ‘Deuteronomy’ at genocide. Der Kontrabaß, however, entertained superbly.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Waiting for Gold

Photo from the Staffordhire Hoard Website; added Monday, October 19th

If out of Mercia’s Earth it had not been dug, we would not gaze at Victorian brick today. If I fail to describe the filigree gold garnet gems, it's because the poodle’s core is in the hours spent.

Henry’s Capricorn, not Goethe’s Faust, wiles away the time. He thinks Dostoievsky, at an age unknown; we, however, all came together, of age that is, on January first. Between then and lolling May, I read Cancer, lost Virginité, Jalousie, Bourgeoisie - and the hope to write. Wilfully deliberate it was, liberating, too; painful and hard in ways of the world previously unknown, and although annihilated, I knew I would soar with him and Lawrence, and the quest had begun. Without double tonics they were not, those thirty-four years; there were Beckett, Ionesco and O’Neil, Erikson and Erica, and conquering our local bard’s tongue. Always someone hot under the stache but none as billy-goat horny as him. They say you never forget your first. Indeed.

Bar one black sheep, the horde awaiting the hoard is civil. Curse her.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Out of Time

Neither Prozac, nor Cocaine. Whatever fuels the MadMen, our sustainable source shall be Poetry and Prose! The first injection while the kettle boils: a jet of exhilaration through those vermillion veins. Pirouettes and tambourines – oh, to hang on the lyrical drip for the rest of the day!

Alas, time and tide waits for no man or woman. Crazy Caligulas and King Canutes pile ponzi pyramids on a bank of bubbles, and the “smarter than thou” socialites engage in verbal snowball fights. Guardianistas, accused of being science illiterate and paranoid, lament the demonization of adversaries. They gleefully label each other, while food label trickery goes unnoticed. As does, amidst the arguments, the GM element of the uteri jabs for whole generations. Is this a galaxy of gullibles, divertibles, and distractibles? Easy prey for screen based poly-addictions?

I phone, You tube, We blog – conjugating the 21st century. Pixels, pictograms and pictures, tweeting twitter, wicked wicki, a quick quiz, a short chat, a swig of soapy soma - TEMPIVORES, one and all!!

Back to books, the primal impulse!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Week 3

Your grand-mothers! One admitted with pneumonia at nearly 85, the other one had a carotid artery operation at 75. Both were out of hospital within 48 hours. -- I fear they threw away those moulds!!

Yesterday, the dining table was empty; today it’s covered in books:

Madhur Jaffrey’s Ultimate Curry Bible, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lectures on Don Quixote, Carol Ann Duffy’s Selected Poems, F.G. Klopstock’s Oden, Heinrich von Kleist’s Pentheselia, Friedrich Hebbels’s Judith, The 200 best novels in English since 1950 by Carmen Calil & Colm Toibin, Tom Sharpe’s Ancestral Vices, E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Lebensansichten des Katers Murr, John Updike, Pigeon’s Feathers and other stories, GEO Special: Baltikum, The Brotherhood, Ernst Bloch, Widerstand und Friede, Bertolt Brecht, Die Dreigroschenoper, Gottfried von Keller, Der Landvogt von Greifensee.

I was looking for Birdsong - alI I found was the book of the Millais exhibition, and the masterpieces of the Rijksmuseum, they made your Dad’s day.

What connects an oak tree, Che Guevara, Paco Rabanne and the footballer Lizarazu? Basque – the country, the language.

You weren’t thinking lingerie, were you??!!

Week 2 - Late Summary

Glorious sunshine breaks relentlessly through filthy windowpanes, but unlike the wind, it doesn’t challenge the rotten frames. I sweat, and the carpet stinks of decades of incompetence and ineffectual mothering.

Could I have been an innovator of processes without compromising on principles? Badly paid women and children, alienation of the workforce through division of labour. Marx called it Entfremdung. Boulton “revolutionised” the shop floor. The celebrated Brummie was (and the VC of one of my Almae Maters is) a member of the Lunar Society. I am more destined for the Loony Bin. From the serenity of the Victorian Bath House to the Tower of Boxes on the second landing – ghosts are lying in wait for me, ready to pounce with questions. Questions as conventional as they are unanswerable.

Magic hands dispersed the crazy vaudeville in my upstairs chambers for the duration of the weekend. Facials should be prescribed on the NHS. The Gods favoured us as usual. Greasemonkeys at Jyoti’s but basking in sunshine at Halfpenny Green Vineyard, we were eagerly anticipating Rioja and Almería.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

First Photograph from Berlin

This is, I believe, the last squat in Berlin.

Day 3

With reference to our conversation about tribes and differently organised social forms: have you considered the study of anthropology or ethnology? Have a look at this ethnographical account of the Inupiat in Alaska, for example. I came across it through Qarrtsiluni, an online literary magazine, the title of which translates to "sitting together in the darkness, waiting for something to burst". (I thought you'd like that!)
The description of the tribe is particularly interesting with regard to hostilities and strangers; I also thought "the mantle would pass on to more fortunate or capable families", referring to the process of determining power bases, was pertinently evocative.

Other than that, there isn't much to report. I have made a lame attempt at rediscovering the floor space in B's room, which is indeed a testament to filthy adolescence in all its glorious vulgarity, and have renewed vows to lose weight as there are a number of serviceable jeans in W30 languishing at the back of the wardrobe just waiting to be inherited.
I can dream, can't I?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Day 2

Domestic Misery intact. The mammoths still reside in their abode, neither slaughtered, nor sliced. The lady, soon to be awarded the Black Belt, 5th Dan, in Household Mismanagement, spent the afternoon in a Trans~, while the spouse in the house dealt with the car's cardiac arrest. The tank’s vital organ was happily humming away in the hall when JD, carrying gargantuan red onions from the allotment, came by and commiserated. I wish my batteries could be recharged so easily.

The growling grump recited Charlie Brooker on Dire Shit Man (anagram courtesy of BalkanBob) and Young Cartrain. She squealed with delight. Later, fittingly pickled in Shiraz, they remarked on the sorry sight of Keith Floyd. Equally fitting, if somewhat eery: this morning the news of his death. Did the booze up with Keith Allen (a mate, perchance, of the artist mentioned above, and like DH, a piss artist in his own right – for more on the connection between Art and Urine, check out orpheusintheworld), barely survived when filming, cause last night’s heart attack during the broadcast?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Day 1

My own sadness and dejection, addressed and fuelled by avoiding the necessary, i.e. facing your room and the discharge of the past. Mostly mine, not yours. But in any case a painful exercise of looking into the yawning abyss of my continual failure while simultaneously admiring my involuntary commitment to more than the material, ironically represented by such heaps of material…
Instead, I lounge in my blue dressing gown, ignore the coat-muffled sounds of J’s mobile, and read up on Adorno, Horkheimer and Reich, all of whom I recommend to you, despite the knowledge that this very fact could materialise into reasons not to touch them. Interestingly, Reich was discredited by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the States, which I believe ties in with the forces you were exploring in the last few days. As I have just re-read in ‘The Perfect Five’, Max Frisch, the Swiss author (Biedermann und die Brandstifter, Homo Faber, Andorra), believed that there are no coincidences; that what happens to us is biographically necessary and timely: das “Fällige”.