"Space" is the theme that runs through much of what the protesters say. Their first agreed principle is that the current system is unsustainable, undemocratic and unjust, and they want to create the space to think of alternatives. First that means taking key symbolic public space – this is the politics of geography – to use it for conviviality, living, learning and participation. That's no easy task in a city designed to facilitate only three activities – working, transport and shopping – with as little human interaction as possible. Metal fencing is springing up around even small public spaces in the City of London to preclude new camps. The protesters' aim is to open up space, physically and socially, for people to connect and thereby open up space in people's imaginations.
The great excitement of opening a new packet of cereal goes back to the 60s when there'd be something genuinely worth finding: a plastic alien, 3-D effect animal cards or - best of all - badges (see above) which you could parade on your school sweater.
These have been in the cupboard for a good forty years. They don't look much the worse for wear. No doubt someone somewhere would covet them.
... a new joke shared on entering at opening time (7 a.m. weekdays). The lifeguard comes with a bunch of keys to unlock the gate leading to the changing cubicles.
"Bonjour, Saint Pierre" quips one old man. We laugh. And yet.
Keep listening ...
... to the first track on Second Coming - the point when the rather formless intro section suddenly shifts into a funk groove. One of those transitions that gets you mid-way down the spine.
Sense of loosening up ...
... that moment when you feel a class beginning to gel, you're in gear. What's called 'chemistry' I suppose.
... every sheath interposed between men in their transactions is felt as a disturbance to the functioning of the apparatus, in which they are not only objectively incorporated but with which they proudly identify themselves. That, instead of raising their hats, they greet each other with the hallos of indifference, that, instead of letters, they send each other inter-office communications without address or signature, are random symptoms of a sickness of contact. Estrangement shows itself precisely in the elimination of distance between people. (Minima Moralia, 41)
How Adorno would have loved e-mail & emoticons ...
I mean to say ...
... "Which words come to mind when you think of this student?" (College Application Form)
Madame XXX established a piano in the Alps.
One of the great lines from Ashbery's Rimbaud translations.
(I notice that in the CD reading of the original French text, the actor simply leaves a blank for the "XXX". I'd been reading 'eeks-eeks-eeks' a more cartoony - indeed, Ashberyan - effect, than was perhaps intended.)
What seems to be - increasingly - a weekly appointment. For a variety of reasons there just don't seem to be sufficient hours in the day once all the obligatory activities are factored in (washing, driving, teaching, collecting, shopping, cooking, eating, sleeping, not sleeping ...). Life reduced to pure function. Lamentable.
In the salvaged hours ... reading: Ashbery (still) especially the selections of April Galleons in the later Selected Poems and his Rimbaud translations of The Illuminations (terrific). Writing: daily 'spoolings' which are to be typed up and worked into (eventually). Listening: The Stone Roses (everyone is excited that they're reforming - I'm excited that I've just heard their second album).
Friday lunchtime: weird autumnal system shutdown: post Parent:Teacher conferences I was intending to go for a lunchtime drink with colleagues. Instead, I sat in the car in the car park and felt utterly exhausted with one of those over-the-eyebrow pile-driver headaches beginning. The very thought of a beer made my stomach churn. In such circumstances there's only one thing to do: go home & go to bed.
Wales lose to Australia. France lose to New Zealand. & I lose interest.
Phone calls. Pumpkin soup. L's birthday.
Here's an interesting book: Listening to Noise and Silence by Salome Voegelin.
"The ideology of a pragmatic visuality is the desire for the whole; to achieve the convenience of comprehension and knowledge through the distance and stability of the object. Such a visuality provides us with maps, traces, borders and certainties, whose consequences are communication and a sense of objectivity. The auditory engagement however, when it is not in the service of simply furnishing the pragmatic visual object, pursues a different engagement. Left in the dark, I need to explore what I hear. Listening discovers and generates the heard."(4)
Each page throws up something of interest - questions about the relation of visual and aural 'meaning' (she prefers the Merleau-Ponty term of "non-sense"); the nature of sound; what it means to go for a walk and hear what surrounds you; what it means, indeed, to put a CD on. And - by extension - the nature of a poem: as visual text or aural manifestation.
Simultaneously, I'm excited and depressed: her name-checking of Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger and Adorno in particular necessitates a serious re-reading of texts that have been on the shelves for twenty years. & the time required to properly engage with her ideas ...?
Watching clouds a few weeks ago. Now simply listening.
(pwoermd for Salome Voegelin)
This time next week I should be over in the U.K. staying until the Thursday. If anyone is in the vicinity ...
This came back to me today, how, at prep school, we would sit in morning assembly. Most days there was a hymn, a reading from the Bible, a prayer. Then we would troop out and on to classes. The important stuff.
Every now and then we would have a special visitor. There would be the obligatory hymn and a short talk. Then we were told 'let us pray' - and nothing happened. Silence. Little boys being little boys, there'd be nudges and whispers: he's fallen asleep ... he's forgotten the words ... . Minutes went by. Much shuffling and fidgeting. Then the headmaster would clear his throat and we knew that was it. Assembly over. Off you go.
It took some years for the penny to drop that this was normal Quaker practice. A silent waiting, listening, for - well, whatever. It would be presumptuous to say.
Or like the time we were told about a concert where the player with the triangle (you know what a triangle is I take it boys ...) waited all through the piece and played only once or twice. However, we were told, these few notes were as vital as any others.
Nothing was insisted. Nobody rammed a moral down our throats. Yet - as this post confirms - the words and the silences went deep. And stayed.
As I say, thinking about this today.
Just as a matter of interest, Bunting went to the 'big school' just up the road from mine (although many years earlier). And hated it.
Rain. The tiles on the roof opposite glistening wet.
Finally made it through the second half of Minghella's version of Highsmith's Ripley. Good as the film is it's not one I watch with pleasure. (Some three weeks have elapsed since I watched the first 50 minutes or so - and that was after abandoning it a year ago).
The past week has been given over to reading Ashbery's Rivers and Mountains and (inevitably) straying around (his essays and - last night and today - John Clare). It's strange to read such a very English poet through Ashbery's eyes - opening facets I'd probably not otherwise have noticed. And the point about the distance of poet to the poem - that's something that hadn't really occurred to me before.
The heating's on & the radiators are hot. A sign of the year turning.
It's interesting that Minghella has Tom kill Freddie with a bust of some Emperor. Convinces me of my earlier reading of Highsmith's novel in terms of an American searching for identity in the Classical past. Strange ghostings, too: the actor playing Peter is a kind of Alan Rickman: Jamie (the same languid well-spoken manner). And at one point Tom at the piano has some resemblance to Juliet Stevenson: Nina (it's the hair falling forward or the jaw). Films haunting each other.
Stumbled upon while reading Ashbery's Other Traditions ...
"Words never consent to correspond exactly to any object unless, like scientific terms, they are first killed. Hence the curious life of words in the hands of those who love all life so well that they do not kill even the slender words but let them play on; and such are poets."
A few websites worth following up after yesterday's trip to Mariemont:
(not forgetting Luc Fierens' work - but I don't have an e-address to hand)
Tomorrow the weather's meant to change. Out: the Indian summer. In: autumn (season of ... etc.).
And who knows - maybe some clouds?
Thanks to my Frimley correspondent for the rugby link. I had a look but didn't fancy the sign up requirement. I'll just have to use my imagination (there must be a finite number of ways a man can cross a line with a ball after all).
A student tells me of the Swedish saying for an Indian summer: "that time of year when it continues hot". Perfect.
I'm aware that Wales hammered Fiji this morning in the Rugby World Cup. I caught the first ten minutes and then had to go out. This evening you'd think that somewhere/ somehow I could find highlights of the match. Not a sausage (& I've just spent the best part of half an hour going through the ITV, BBC, French & Belgian TV sites). About the best I can do is YouTube where a young Welsh lad (I assume) has rigged up a camera to watch clips on his iPad. Sadly he didn't bother to check the angle and most of the action is obscured.
Tomorrow I'll post about the book festival down in Mariemont. Some lovely stuff.