Sunday, 11 December 2011

John Steinbeck, East of Eden, Chapter 13

"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man.

It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then -the glory- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man's importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.

I don't know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good. It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man. A group can build automobiles quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform. When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.

At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost."

Friday, 27 May 2011

Irina Werning again!

This photo here is of a cook at a remote school in the Andes. I really love the angle she's used and how worn it all looks. You may remember Irina Werning, she did this project. I'm very keen on her photography; check it out!

Reynold Reynolds - Secret Life

This is pretty awesome, great animation and really interesting.

Secret Life from ⓇⓇ Artstudio Reynolds on Vimeo.

It reminds me slightly of Jan Svankmajer - especially Flora and Food, lots of the same kind of themes. It seems to me as if the film is about synthesis between the human world and the plant world, but to what end I'm not entirely sure! Discussion welcome.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The liner notes for Michigan - possibly the greatest prose I've ever seen. Honestly, just read it.

"Oh Detroit, what have you done to man, his wife and kids, his cousins, his music, his hairstyles, his shoes with white tips, his pleated pants, his elbow slung out the car window, his basketball courts, his officers downtown, his nightclubs, his shirtsleeve tucked over a pack of cigarettes, his imagination, his industry, his sense of humor, his home? Oh Detroit, what have you done to city hall, the public trains, the workers’ union, the Eastern Market, Boblo Island, the Ambassador Bridge? Where have you put your riches, where have you hid your treasure? Your concrete overpasses, your avenues as wide as rivers, your suburbs bloated with brick homes and strip malls and discount liquor stores and resale shops. When you are dead and gone, who will care for your children’s children? They have run wild with the bastard boys around the streets, reckless car rides downtown, rigorous dancing, drug taking, knife-stabbing, pillow-stuffing, tail-wagging restlessness. They have been drunk with this for years. They have been out of their minds. They have been left with nothing.

Even still, here and now, there is a renaissance of hope. The streets will take up horns and play free jazz, the buses will clang their bells in time, the buildings once burned out will be home to the homeless. Living rooms will be filled with furniture. Broken families will reconcile. Women will be honored with lilac wreaths. Men will begin to lower their voices. Children will fill playgrounds and parks with the sounds of their playing.

Who can call us father, or who can call us son? If we have regarded ourselves abandoned by whatever thing (a person, a lover, a parent, a false prophet, ourselves) then we have lost touch with the great family, ourselves, all of us together, in this great place called Michigan. Who is your neighbor? He is your brother. Who is that stranger? She is your mother. The man downstairs hammering on the wall, the woman blow-drying her hair in the bathroom – these people are your family. Have you lost your mother to death? Have you lost your father to disease, to war, alcohol, drugs, a car accident? Nothing can replace them. They have been made known completely in death, to whatever supernatural landscape (who can say for sure?). Until then, it is our hard task to welcome the widows, the children, the orphans, the fatherless into our family. What little effort it takes – a friendly nod at the stranger on the street, giving change to the man who asks, saying hello or goodbye, opening doors, keeping our mouths shut. In the small things, the day-to-day gestures, the normal business of the day, we do the great work of the kingdom, which is to welcome each unlikely individual into the fold, one person at a time.

We do these things, not because we are Michiganders, but because we have been called to participate in the world’s creation from the very beginning. Making music. Baking cakes. Sewing curtains. These things mean something greater: that we have been known from the very start. Our eye color, our hairline, our jawline, the shape of our big toe, the tone of our voice. These things have been designed from the very beginning. What kind of music we listen to. The sort of skirt that looks good. The baseball cap, the tennis shoe, the orange bandana. We have been made to find these things for ourselves and take them in as ours, like adopted children: habits, hobbies, idiosyncrasies, gestures, moods, tastes, tendencies, worries. They have been put in us for good measure.

Perhaps we don’t like what we see: our hips, our loss of hair, our shoe size, our dimples, our knuckles too big, our eating habits, our disposition. We have disclosed these things in secret, likes and dislikes, behind doors with locks, our lonely rooms, our messy desks, our empty hearts, our sudden bursts of energy, our sudden bouts of depression. Don’t worry. Put away your mirrors and your beauty magazines and your books on tape. There is someone right here who knows you more than you do, who is making room on the couch, who is fixing a meal, who is putting on your favorite record, who is listening intently to what you have to say, who is standing there with you, face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. There is no space left uncovered. This is where you belong.”

PS. I actually copied this from the vinyl; thats dedication for you. sorry for any spelling errors.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ducklike creatures - some of my own photography.

These photos were taken over a year and a half ago, which is pretty revealing as to how long it takes me to put things up. Hope somebody might enjoy these.

Moorhen sultry walk

Canada Goose Grooming

Splashing Coot

Canada Goose 2

Mandarin Duck

More here

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Ovid - translated from Latin Dactylic Hexameter and then reimagined into English Dactylic Hexameter

As a pre-emptive defence for this - Dactylic Hexameter in English is nigh on impossible and unwieldy.

Athens has been threatened - Tereus saves it from barbarians and marries the king's daughter. But the gods have cursed it.

Thracian Tereus routed, with men procured from elsewhere, those
foreigners, gaining a name so distinguished in the conqering air,
Tereus, born of the line of our Ares, because of forceful,
powerful action, from Pandion, foolish Athenian, received as
wife Procne. Hera, nor even Hymen would act as her bridesmaid,
those blessed Graces stayed away: Furies held snatched torches from
funerary marches; Furies prepared the bed marked out for lovers,
over the roofs of their marriage chambers, a hideous screech owl
perched, oppressing. With this bird omen, Tereus was forged together
with her, Procne, with this bird omen they were made parents of Itys.

Meter wise:

Thracian/ Tereus/ routed,/ with men pro/cured from else/where, those
-^^ -^^ -- -^^ -^^ --
foreigners,/ gaining a /name so dis/tinguish’d /in the conq’/ring air,
-^^ -^^ -^^ -- -^^ --
Tereus/, born of the/ line of our/ Ares/, because of/ forceful,
-^^ -^^ -^^ -- -^^ --
powerful/ action, from/ Pandion/, foolish A/thenian, re/ceiv’d as
- ^^ -^^ -^^ -^^ -^^ --
wife Procne./ Hera, nor /even/ Hymen would /act as her/ bridesmaid,
- ^^ -^^ -- -^^ -^^ --
those blessed /Graces stayed/ away:/ Furies held/ snatched tor/ches from
-^^ -^^ -- -^^ -^^ --
funerar/y marches; /Furies pre/pared the bed/ marked out for/ lovers,
-^^ -^^ -^^ -^^ -^^ --
over the/ roofs of their/ marriage /chambers, a /hideous /screech owl
-^^ -^^ -- -^^ -^^ --
perch’d, oppress/ing. With this/ bird omen,/ Tereus /was forg’d to/gether
- ^^ - ^^ -- -^^ -^^ --
with her, Proc/ne, with this/ bird omen /they were made/ parents of/ Itys.
-^^ - ^^ -- -^^ -^^ --

Could anyone who does english or classics tell me if there are any flaws in this?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Simonetta Vespucci

Simonetta Cattaneo de Vespucci, wife of Mario Vespucci(who was the cousin of Amerigo Vespucci the explorer), lover of Giuliano de Medici, and Muse not only of Sandro Botticelli, but also of Piero de Cosimo.

Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci - Piero de Cosimo

So beloved was she of pretty much every man in Florence, where she moved in 1470 after her marriage aged 15 to the aforementioned Marco, that supposedly no less than 50 men would crowd outside her window every morning in the hope of catching a glimpse of her.

Scene from the life of Moses (Sistine Chapel Fresco)- Sandro Botticelli

Such was her appeal that Guiliano de Medici, of the famously powerful mercantile family of Florence, jousted for her under a banner, painted by Botticelli, which portrayed her as Athena, with the words "She without parallel" embroidered beneath it.

Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci - Sandro Botticelli

She died aged only 22 from tuberculosis, but works of art continued to use her as their muse for the following 50 years as her memory lived on in the artists of the day. Botticelli, it is hypothesised, was deeply in love with her, as many of his paintings contain features similar to hers, and he requested to be buried at her feet in the church of the Ognissanti in Florence.

Portrait of A Young Woman - Sandro Botticelli

The Death of Procris - Piero de Cosimo

And finally, the question that has teased many art historians, is this based on her?