Tuesday, August 15, 2017


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(always a pleasure to find a photo of Anna Karina)

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A rainy morning in Balamory & so it was a good excuse to go through boxes turning up a depressing amount of old papers & notes & scribblings. I was mainly searching for a text about looking at a Bonnard painting but I can't put my finger on the notebook. The one I thought it was in drew a blank. Know the feeling?

However, I did find this long quotation from Valéry. It must have caught my attention round about 1983 ... 1984. I lifted it out of History & Politics vol. 10. 

"As for the most central of our senses, our inner sense of the interval between desire and possession, which is no other than the sense of duration, that feeling of time which was formerly satisfied by the speed of horses now finds that the fastest trains are too slow, and we fret with impatience between telegrams. We crave events themselves like food that can never be highly seasoned enough. If every morning there is no great disaster in the world we feel a certain emptiness: "There is nothing in the papers today", we say. We are caught red-handed. We are all poisoned. So I have grounds for saying that there is such a thing as our being intoxicated by energy, just as we are intoxicated by haste, by size ... We are losing that essential peace in the depths of our being, that priceless absence in which the most delicate elements of life are refreshed and comforted, while the inner creature is in some way cleansed of past and future, of present awareness, of obligations pending and expectations lying in wait." (Le Bilan de l'Intelligence)

What prompted me to copy this out? & at a time when I had no inkling of email, internet culture, Google, online newspapers, refresh buttons, iPhones, social media ... 

O brave new world. 



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Just back from the second summer trip to Poundland.

Further gripes such as:

1) the now obligatory use of automated scanners in WH Smith. Entering Boots next, I was pleasantly astonished to find actual human beings 'still in operation' (to use the lingo) behind the counter.

2) the fake cheery question "would you like an extra shot of coffee in that?" oblivious of the fact that there should be enough bean strength in the first place.

I mean, really.

3) the increasingly vacuous use of language. Paying for petrol at the neighbourhood Esso garage, I declare the relevant pump number & amount. "Awesome" says the cashier. What? Why? 

4) to make a telephone enquiry at the euphoniously titled GOV.UK about British passport eligibility you must have your Visa card at the ready. Why? Because there is an upfront charge. & sod the bright idea of an email - it's even more expensive. How, possibly, can it seem appropriate (or fair or democratic or ... you find another word ...) to demand this? How many people abandon their application at this the first stage? (& you'd have to be pretty naive not to suspect the sinister agenda lurking behind the policy).

So much for openness, access & transparency.

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BBC One listings for Saturday - Pointless Celebrities

Spot on.

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On a brighter note, I got hold of this CD by Pascal Dusapin & listened to it right through this afternoon.

Awesome ... in the true sense. Some really powerful writing for orchestra. Love it.



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The John Lanchester article on Facebook in the current LRB is required reading. 

I am even more proud to be one of the defiant number not to have an account. (Although it is probably tracking we refuseniks as a separate marketable category). 

Just remember boys & girls ... 

When The Content Is Free 
You Are The Product







Friday, August 04, 2017


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Two new releases from ECM

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A Travel Diary in Twelve Pictures ... 



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Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art (Strasbourg) 

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Twomblys (I-V)

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Early morning Sunday

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 Tuesday breakfast

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Etruscan fragment

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Interior space (Arezzo) 

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Well obviously ... 

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No posts for over a month reflecting yet another of those recurrent periods of uncertainty as to why maintain a - this, in particular - blog. 

Without boring the few stalwarts & all faithfuls who might still be reading, the doubts come under these general headings:

1) might there be other more effective forms of social media? (Twitter & Instagram, for example, have been suggested to me).

2) might the moment have passed there being just so much talk & garbage out there? Go back ten years or so & there seemed to be a space of permission & possibility worth investigating. Now, in 2017, who needs it? I wonder whether a similar doubt has led the likes of Ron Silliman, John Latta, Kate Greenstreet to either completely or partially abandon the form (much to my regret). 

3) might it have been but an excuse, a ruse, a form of evasion for really knuckling down & doing something more worthwhile? 

4) might it have lost its sense of purpose? Originally it was a continuation of a correspondence related to poetry, a way of putting myself 'out there', of standing by one's words. 

5) might it have lost its audience? Related to (4) above, there really was the hope (delusion?) that a dialogue would occur. And, to an extent, that did happen. But now? 

6) might it have lost its focus? Little by little I've become aware of different people dropping by & therefore including certain kinds of post (as well as excluding others). There are times when I begin a post only to erase it thinking 'what happens if X reads this ...?'). Not just content but also the manner of writing becomes compromised. 

7) might I have lost my focus? I sense how posts have veered off towards music reflecting a growing interests in modern classical composition (for want of a better term). But is this such a bad thing? Whereas the poetry posts have diminished. I'm still reading, for sure. However I am cagey about publishing my tentative readings. Why? Because I increasingly distrust such critical approaches. No, it's more I feel uncomfortable pushing it under people's noses. Plus, I am more & more of the opinion that the best 'reading' of another's work is the new writing it produces. And what of this? (Silence).

8) might it be laziness pure & simple? Hmmm ... 

& yet ... 

I am aware that this blog has been of use - perhaps introducing someone to a new book or CD or exhibition; perhaps infusing them with my own erratic enthusiasms; perhaps allowing the classroom experience to continue in another form; perhaps acting as a reassurance that I'm still around & things continue; perhaps leading to a new acquaintance ... 

So. To be continued? 



Friday, June 09, 2017

It seems my crystal ball was not so grubby ...

... resisting the temptation to say "told you so".


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Current ear food ... (my scanner decided to pack up yesterday - otherwise I'd try to supply a series of images from the various Zappa vinyls I've acquired. This will have to wait. In the mean time ...) ... 



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... of the slew of Zappa Family CD releases this looked more than tempting & is of interest

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... this is a 'must' given its status as the last entire album Zappa saw through to the end. 
Synclavier compositions & hard not to hear behind them all sorts of anticipations of The End.

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An absolutely revelatory CD set & very much in sympathy with the Zappa release. Dérive 2 is fascinating & a far cry from the 'dry' & 'cerebral' reputation I've always heard concerning Boulez's music. Probably benefits from a live recording to give it some oomph. 

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In interviews Pina N claims that Schoenberg is so full of emotion. 
I can't say I feel this so far but will persevere ...

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I ummed & ahhed about this one (how many complete sets does one need?) & then accepted that it is one of those that will yield ever more joy & insight over the years. 
Reading the book by the first violinist in tandem only furthers appreciation & astonishment. 

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Because ...

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The closest we'll get to a new Pink Floyd album given the truly dreadful efforts of Dave G & Polly as well as the travesty release of Endless River. While Waters has a distinctly limited repertoire of vocal expression (the husky, home-spun tones we recognise from 'Pigs on the Wing'; the Ginsberg derived litany we know from Dark Side of the Moon & 'Pigs'; the sudden vitriolic scream we've heard on ... well, pick your favourite; &, of course, that trademark fade echo ("echo ... echo ... echo ...")) there is a sense of genuine anger & bitterness & which - finally - seems to have gone beyond his specific preoccupation with the War. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, the many lifts from earlier Floyd albums can be attributed to allusive irony rather than creative exhaustion. Sound effects are more or less justified in terms of the compositions but you wonder what would happen if he really broke free & worked an entire album through sonic collage. Now that would be interesting. B/B+ for effort. (Many millions of dollars through sales & related tours no doubt.)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Just watching the footage on Belgian television of a helicopter circling overhead, troops deployed in the streets, festoons of barbed wire, sections of the city taped off ... all to allow a series of swollen black limousines to glide by & disappear unhindered.

Surely this is one of the brazen lies we live by. How those who claim to represent 'us' depend upon so many systems of concealment, protection & isolation.

If you love the people so much, if you are so popular & loved by all ... take a walk in the streets. Smell the unconditioned air.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Interesting ...

... looking back at the April crystal ball predictions there was an NHS crisis - the computer hacking - although admittedly wider in scope than simply the U.K. health service.

This morning a pretty stunning volte face concerning the so-called 'dementia tax' in the Tory manifesto.

Caroline Lucas has just been interviewed on PM & it's clear that moves are underway to establish some kind of cooperation amongst smaller parties not to run candidates against each other.

Trump has been doing his best (the FBI sacking/ Russian business etc.) but we remain confident that he has more up his sleeve.

Not that we believe the polls but ... putting this all together & there is a glimmer of hope.

Might the eighth of June prove to be the last day of May?

Other news ...

... good to see the younger Wisteria sister is finally hitched. Perhaps she will now disappear into well-heeled obscurity. Judging by the media reporting of Saturday's wedding, she's really in touch with Austerity Britain.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The belgianwaffle election prediction ...

... looking into my rather grubby crystal ball here are some possibilities ....

  • Trump's behaviour becomes even more erratic precipitating a major world crisis &/or a series of bungled decisions affecting international relations, the UK in particular. May's handholding is seen as desperately poor judgment & compromising Britain's reputation. As we all know, once the Tories sniff weakness in their leader they'll go in for the kill. There could also be some score settling after the post-Referendum fall-out. (Watch Gove). 
  • Voter fatigue &/or general disenchantment with May & her cabinet coupled with some as yet unanticipated scandal(s). Boris can still be relied upon to deliver a major embarrassment & this will erode support. The Media frenzy itself could lead to many switching off. 
  • Ukip antics muddy the water to such an extent that what had seemed reliable Tory votes are lost to Farage's bully boys - expect plenty of misinformation & rumour (e.g. that the Tories cannot be relied on to see Brexit through properly ...)
  • A weird pact uniting various No to Brexit groups (Greens, Lib Dems, etc.) which draws a substantial enough following of the disaffected - including some of the unconvinced Tory vote
  • A wild card - some major event which transforms popular opinion. Some options: 1) catastrophic mistake in the NHS; 2) another banking collapse; 3) terrorist or other attack/outrage; 4) constitutional crisis (the Queen etc.); 5) environmental disaster ... which in each case are seen to be related to government incompetence or duplicity. Extraordinarily Labour (with or without Corbyn) seems a better option - at least untainted by the mess.
The outcome? Not the resounding win that May expected but a split vote. No one party in control. A disunited kingdom with running sores of Scotland, Ireland & Wales as well as damaged relations with Europe, the USA, & the rest of the world. May - like Cameron before her - revealed as the chancers they are. 

The crystal ball clouds ... 

. (always a pleasure to find a photo of Anna Karina) . A rainy morning in Balamory & so it was a good excuse to go thro...