6th december 2004

on the environmental destruction caused by airline fuel

A friend says

- I just got back from New York. I bought about 8 CDs. One of them is, um . . . I've forgotten.

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9th december 2004


Malevich White on White, 1919

I have transformed myself IN THE ZERO OF FORM and dragged myself out of the rubbish-filled pool of academic art. I have torn through the blue lampshade of colour limitations, and come out into the white. I have conquered the lining of the Heavenly, have torn it down and making a bag, put in colours and tied it with a knot. Sail forth! The white, free chasm, infinity is before us.

- Kasimir Malevich, Essays on Art

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11th december 2004

once more, everything is permitted

Dr Perry is back on the block, after a langorous hiatus of ten months or so.
Things feel more rounded, more pregnant with possibility.
Sing hosannas!

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13th december 2004


After Dillettante Concetti

(after Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

"Why do you wear your hair like a man,
Sister Helen?
This week is the third since you began."
"I'm writing a ballad; be still if you can,
Little brother.
(O Mother Carey, mother!
What chickens are these between sea and heaven?)"

"But why does your figure appear so lean,
Sister Helen?
And why do you dress in sage, sage green?"
"Children should never be heard, if seen,
Little brother!
(O Mother Carey, mother!
What fowls are a-wing in the stormy heaven!)"

"But why is your face so yellowy white,
Sister Helen?
And why are your skirts so funnily tight?"
"Be quiet, you torment, or how can I write,
Little brother?
(O Mother Carey, mother!
How gathers thy train to the sea from the heaven!)"

"And who's Mother Carey, and what is her train,
Sister Helen?
And why do you call her again and again?"
"You troublesome boy, why that's the refrain,
Little brother.
(O Mother Carey, mother!
What work is toward in the startled heaven?)"

"And what's a refrain? What a curious word,
Sister Helen!
Is the ballad you're writing about a sea-bird?"
"Not at all; why should it be? Don't be absurd,
Little brother.
(O Mother Carey, mother!
Thy brood flies lower as lowers the heaven.)"

(A big brother speaketh:)

"The refrain you've studied a meaning had,
Sister Helen!
It gave strange force to a weird ballad.
But refrains have become a ridiculous 'fad',
Little brother.
And Mother Carey, mother,
Has a bearing on nothing in earth or heaven.

"But the finical fashion has had its day,
Sister Helen.
And let's try in the style of a different lay
To bid it adieu in poetical way,
Little brother.
So, Mother Carey, mother!
Collect your chickens and go to - heaven."

(A pause. Then the big brother singeth, accompanying himself
in a plaintive wise on the triangle:)

"Look in my face. My name is Used-to-was,
I am also called Played-out and Done-to-death,
And It-will-wash-no-more. Awakeneth
Slowly, but sure awakening it has,
The common-sense of man; and I, alas!
The ballad-burden trick, now known too well,
Am turned to scorn, and grown contemptible -
A too transparent artifice to pass.

"What a cheap dodge I am! The cats who dart
Tin-kettled through the streets in wild surprise
Assail judicious ears not otherwise;
And yet no critics praise the urchin's 'art',
Who to the wretched creature's caudal part
Its foolish empty-jingling 'burden' ties."

- Henry Duff Traill

Indebted to Open Brackets for the It-will-wash-no-more fragment, which led to further research.
Mother Carey's chickens are storm petrels, tiny fragile ocean-going birds; 'Mother Carey' is a corruption of mater cara, an Italian epithet for the Virgin Mary.

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14th december 2004


Sweat was gathering on my brow, my heart was thumping wildly and the bare wooden floors seemed to tingle still with the echoing noises my feet had made. I moved to the window and looked out. The yellow light was still lying on the air and shining on the same tree-leaves but now it was streaming from the window of the room I had just left. I felt I was standing within three yards of something unspeakably inhuman and diabolical which was using its trick of light to lure me on to something still more horrible.

- Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

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18th december 2004

Waiting for the bus in the grey drizzle I daydream. The Abbey is gloomy. I pass the tomb of Aylmer de Valence, its decorative ogees the subject of a long lecture by Nik Pevsner in the winter of 1963.
I owe so much to Nik. Here on the top of the bus I carry in my mind an encyclopaedia of architectural detail. With this I can while away the time - ogee, architrave, crazy vault, flying buttress.

- Derek Jarman, Journal December 1989

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30th december 2004

mere images

Recently, photography has become almost as widely practised an amusement as sex and dancing - which means that like every mass art form, photography is not practised by most people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.

- Susan Sontag (1933-2004), On Photography

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