7th april 2004

unless the sea swallow them

I always liked what someone said about the chamber music of Webern: that it was like a collection of objects in a dark room; and the sounds would illuminate them one by one.
Lots of poetry is like this: one isn't sure whether the poet knows what all the objects are and their relationship to each other, or whether they've been snatched back from the brink of rational or conscious thought, before they disappear over the lip of the world into what Lewis Thomas called the Scrambler in the Mind.

| comment

10th april 2004

night music

I slept abed and in a dream beheld the deep, and rising from the deep Leviathan to air and rest among the billows; who closer coming fixed me with her great black Eye, and told me: I am You, and likewise You are Me; and in my mouth I carry You and aye, your Citie also wreath'd in smoaks and vapours; and all the sum of those who habit there.
Who are you then I asked, by what name do I know you? But she roll'd, and turn'd and vanish'd in the waves, and I awoke and found no thing: only the night running like a clock's works and the moon riding the clouds outside the casement.

| comment

12th april 2004

it's birdies

Heard a couple of chiff-chaffs a couple of weeks ago - a bit later than last year. And at Bosham on the Sussex coast at the weekend, one swallow - doing all the swallow stuff, all on its own, as if it hadn't noticed it might be the first.

| comment

13th april 2004

portrait of a man

Joseph Wright - Self portrait in a black feathered hat

I'd never seen this until today, although Wright is one of the greats of British painting, transferring Caravaggio's techniques to the England of the industrial revolution. He's best known of course for An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, although my favourite picture of his is the recumbent portrait of that darlin' man, Sir Brooke Boothby.
Here, in this charcoal self-portrait done in his early thirties, he looks much younger - he obviously fancied himself in that hat, and resembles a face glimpsed in a goth pub on Portobello road, in the shadows of the lounge bar.

| comment

14th april 2004

note to self: try this

Having begun with bus tickets I end with a lavatory roll, or at least its central tube. This is my own optic, without mirror or lens. Use it in the manner of a spyglass, isolating the paintings in a gallery from frames or surrounding distractions. You will be amazed to share immediately the artist's viewpoint and vision. In a gallery light sources in pictures argue both with each other and the light source of the room itself. Homing in on a single view you cut out this visual noise. Space doubles: landscapes and still lifes come awake before your single eye. You are in effect bringing a portable camera oscura and pointing it back at a painting.
Try it on a Hockney.

| comment

18th april 2004


- You all set, hon?
- Sure, let's go, daddyo!
- You sure?
- Yup, go! Follow which way I'm pointing, just go!
- But . . . you're not wearing shoes.
- Talk about squaresville baby, hit the road!
- . . . and you forgot your pants. Lay off the solvents and drink some gingko tea, it'll help you with short-term memory loss.
- Listen, if I wanted a lecture I'dve gone to college. OK OK, I'll go in the house and look for my pants. And while I'm gone, try to figure out how to get this thing off of the kickstand.

| comment

19th april 2004

garden 2.0


New decking, built it meself: very pleased.

| comment

22nd april 2004


22nd April 1876
I fear those grey old men of Moccas, those grey, gnarled, low-browed, knock-kneed, bowed, bent, huge, strange, long-armed, deformed, misshapened oak men that stand waiting and watching century after century biding God's time with both feet in the grave and yet tiring down and seeing out generation after generation, with such tales to tell, as when they whisper them to each other in the midsummer nights, make the silver birches weep and the poplars and aspens shiver and the long ears of the hares and rabbits stand on end. No human hand set those oaks. They are 'the trees which the Lord hath planted'. They look as if they had been at the beginning and making of the world, and they will probably see its end.
- Francis Kilvert

| comment

24th april 2004

out of tonight's window

Nabokov's jet's pink trail above the sunset fire and a slice of moon.

| comment

26th april 2004

non osmia moriar

If, after about March, a little russet-red hairy bee hums around your windows, if it explores the air vents, if you note pollen grains on your ventilator bricks and some of the holes are stopped up, consider yourself lucky: a solitary bee of the family Osmia has chosen to settle on your premises. Osmia is a very useful inoffensive bee in the garden and the orchard, where it helps with pollination. One might prefer that it builds its nest without blocking your ventilators, but it's easy to make better adapted housing. They nest in various horizontal cavities, from 5 to 10 millimetres in diameter, which they do not dig themselves. . . they readily accept artificial nesting boxes such as bunches of bamboos or of elder twigs, or blocks of wood drilled of holes of different diameters.
- J.H. Fabre, The Mason Bees

Made one of these today by cutting short pieces of bamboo to a length, widening the inner bore with a tentpeg heated in a gasflame and tying them in a bundle with twine. Wired to the back fence under an overhang, the hope is that they'll attract nesting Osmia rufa, the Red Mason Bee. Maybe I'm too late in the year already, but at least the thing looks nice.

| comment

« March 2004 | home | May 2004 »

Animals may be evolution's icing, but bacteria are the cake.

- Andrew Knoll