Sunday, November 27, 2011

BBC Radio 4 programme on H.D..

I'm putting up the link as a way of reminding myself to listen when I get back.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Two verses from Emily Dickinson to stand for the past few days.

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here's something. Reading Peter Gizzi's volume Some Values of Landscape and Weather I pause on the title of the first poem in the opening series A History of the Lyric. I'd always assumed 'Objects in mirror are closer than they appear' was lifted from a work on optics (school textbook, Isaac Newton, some such source). How wrong can I be? As any U.S. citizen and car driver would know - this is a phrase required by law to be found on side mirrors. Doh! My reading feels not so much depleted as enhanced by such a discovery - although there's an uneasy sensation of how many other such citations I'm missing or misattributing.


Spring and All arrives today (finally). I love the plain blue cover and what I assume is a facsimile printing (erratic quotation marks etc.). To hold it in the hand as a single volume is a real pleasure.


Reading Philip K. Dick with renewed interest. That he once shared a house with Robert Duncan makes sense - his massive Exegesis in some ways an equivalent to The H.D. Book? Both cat lovers, too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Starting to rethink my days. (That Kenneth Koch phrase? Make your own days ... - something like that.)

According to my calculations I seem to spend some two and a half hours before starting work (waking up, the three Ss, breakfast, travel); seven hours are contractually required for work; then there is a 'grey area' of return travel, picking up daughters, tea, homework supervision, shopping; a further two and a half hours preparing, eating, clearing dinner and getting kids into bed; before - finally - unallocated time (one and a half ... two hours? ....) before hitting the hay.

The challenge being within these hours to find the time to read (news, magazines, current texts), write (type up current notebook material, daily pages, work on texts), make books (new & old projects), watch (useful documentaries, BBC archive material, films), listen (stored sound files, CDs, podcasts), walk (what happened to the daily constitutional?), swim (currently weekends and a hurried Weds 7 a.m.) not taking into consideration the mass of work related matter (grading, reference writing, admin. stuff) or time to simply stare at the clouds going by.

On the one hand I'm with Tom Hodgkinson - why count? Break the clock watching inner Malvolio. On the other hand I'm appalled at the frittering away of hours. Like Faust I want to prise the hours, the minutes, the seconds apart - find time within the time.

Impossible. Then again ...

Any suggestions?
Not only has the hour gone back but I've the distinct impression they've started shortening time: the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days ...

As Quentin Robert DeNameland stated: the eons are closing ...


New product from Sigur Ros as I discovered in Fnac yesterday. A typically minimalist package: grey toned covers, double exposed photos, little by way of information beyond track listing (admittedly more than on ( ) ). As I type fljotavik is just starting (track 2, CD1) and there's disc 2 plus a DVD to enjoy. I gather there's no new material - it's all live recordings of concerts. No matter. Good stuff. And the kind of production that confirms why you still want to buy music as an object rather than simply download off iTunes.


While on the topic of downloads ... the new toy has been a distraction (perhaps contributing to the sense of lost time). Naturally I'd done research on Apps - the 20 best paid, free, etc.. In case anyone is considering buying an iPad and would appreciate some advice, here's mine - based on five days' use:
  • get into the habit of switching off WiFi & automated updates. Reason? Saves battery life.
  • get a cover front and back (Smart Cover & Belkin seem good - but a bit pricey).
  • invest in Instapaper (lets you store and read content when offline).
  • be suspicious about ebooks i) why do they cost so much? ii) free ones are of questionable authenticity and accuracy - who typed them in/proof read and which editions are being used? iii) after the recent LRB article - be on your guard for 'ghost' annotations (your notes being registered by a central Server: Big Brother mutates into Big Librarian).
  • try out the BBC iPlayer (Worldwide version if you're outside the UK) - there's an excellent range of programmes dating back to the 60s - and at about 7 euros for a month pretty reasonably priced.
  • subscribe (free for two months - that's good) to The Guardian and see what they've done to reinvent a daily newspaper into a screen-based medium. I am - despite everything I might have said before - impressed. This is not a simple Web-to-Screen compromise. They've thought out page selection, movement from section to section, and the quality of both print and images is outstanding. If there's one thing I miss living outside of the UK it's the ability to buy and read a quality daily (even Belgian friends admit Le Soir etc. are dull beyond belief). In January I'll be asked to subscribe - ten quid each month for six issues a week. Do the Maths - I think that's very good value and (unlike the ebooks) shows a sense of what costs of production are being saved. When I heard about this App it tipped the balance on whether or not to get an iPad. Reading articles every day only convinces me the more.
  • get the 10W USB-mains adapter for recharging. Unless I'm doing something wrong, the iPad seems to take a long time via the USB-computer connection.
  • avoid buying Angry Birds or your kids will want to play it all the time.
  • try not to bore everyone by extolling the virtues of iPad ownership or swapping lists of Apps ... just like this post. (Enough free Apple advertising, Ed.)
Thursday night we were invited out to Le Fils de Jules a Basque restaurant off Avenue Louise. When you see cassoulet listed on the menu there's really no point debating - just order it. If you're in the vicinity and feeling hungry - go along. In a word: superb.


More technology: over the break they sneaked into my classroom and erected an ActivBoard - I think I'm just about the last person to get one. The trusty old whiteboard is still there but shifted a couple of meters to the right. During fee periods I've meddled about with the new one and - as with the iPad - find I'm pleasantly surprised with what it can do, what it allows. It's rather like having Adobe Photoshop on the wall - and that suggests all sorts of new writing possibilities ... Hmmm ...


More bread making this weekend and I even tried my hand at a Victoria sponge (with assistance from my sous chef). I don't do cakes - as a rule. However after hearing Ian Hislop's attempt on I've Never Seen Starwars I thought I should give it a try. And here's the result:

& it tastes good.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

So O.K. I've given in. It just seemed too good an opportunity with a colleague travelling to the States over the break and the current dollar to euro conversion rate and ... well, it's always easy to find justifications for what we want to justify. To cut a long story short I've invested in an iPad (this post being the first attempt at using the clicky keyboard).

Already downloaded are a nifty television app which seems to allow access to U.K. television; The Guardian's free two month trial; the complete stories of Lydia Davis (by way of seeing how I might cope with reading a book on screen); as well as Pages and Drop Box (because everyone seems to feel these are essential).

However I waited until the girls came home before unboxing the thing. Much as I loathe to admit it, Apple packages its products so damn well. As we lifted the cover off and saw the slim little tablet it was hard not to feel a thrill. Commodity fetishism or some kind of techno-epiphany - call it what you will but the girls' astonishment was real and tangible. Maybe one of those moments they'll look back on as I remember our first colour television or my Dad's new car.

Will it mean more regular posting? Well, that remains to be seen.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

"For me, drawing manifests itself in two distinct ways: in the urgency of a doodle, or the obsessive labour of intricate detail. In the middle of the night I awake adrenalised by thoughts of a forthcoming project. Images spin and meld in the golden half-light of my imagination. This is the time when the shy creatures that are my ideas creep out into the clearing of my consciousness. It is at this moment that I click on the bedside light and fumble for my glasses and a pen and paper and scribble a sketch.

It may only be a few lines of automatic writing, a cipher containing the gist of the inspiration. This done I can flop back into sleep. This moment - when an idea first pops its head above the parapet - is crucial to its survival. I have noticed over the years that even though I will go on to redraw and refine the initial idea, more often than not I will plump for something that closely resembles that initial doodle. These doodles are the nearest I come to making elegant gestures." (Grayson Perry)

(full the full article see:

Emma's joke

A madman is writing a letter to himself in the asylum.

The nurse asks: "What are you writing?".

He replies: "I don't know - I haven't read it yet."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bake bread ... Play the ukulele ...

Picked up a slightly grubby copy of How To Be Free from the ever-reliable Reading Oxfam bookshop. It seemed true to the spirit of the text not to pay full whack & to be side-stepping the Dark Forces of Waterstones, Amazon, etc..

It was Gavin P-P's cloud book that led me to Tom Hodgkinson & his first volume: How To Be Idle. However, scratch away at the low brow Self-Help-style marketing and you begin to realise there's a very serious argument - maybe aesthetic is a better word - being presented. In fact, I'd put money on these books being re-worked academic research for a never completed doctorate (something that appeals to me enormously). Of course, you could argue that writing and publishing two such volumes is a contradiction in terms - would a true idler ever submit to such discipline? Never mind, these are valuable documents in adverse times. And while the bibliographies read like lists of good old friends (Debord, Vaneigem, Ruskin, Lawrence) there are one or two gatecrashers I need to get to know better.


Friday, November 04, 2011

"I always listen to The Fall when I reach a creative block because Mark Smith is a great example of I'll do it my way I don't give a damn about anybody else. He's a real chairman of the awkward squad and I think there's something aesthetically about the music of The Fall that always reminds me that ... follow the line of most resistance." (Grayson Perry talking on BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs)

He then goes on to play Hip Priest.

Of course.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Alan Measles


The BBC Grayson Perry 'Imagine' documentary was on too late last night - but who cares? One of the joys of being over in the U.K. you get to watch yesterday's television today thanks to iPlayer.

Go to:

to watch the programme


for more on Teddy Bears and the concept of the Sacred.

Strange as it is to say but I think Ruskin would approve.

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...