1st October 2002
strange news from another star
Samuel Palmer - Moonlight, a Landscape with Sheep
'As I lay down on the grass, I observed the glittering silver line on the ridge of the backs of the sheep, owing to their situation respecting the sun, which made them look beautiful, but with something of strangeness, like animals of another kind, as if belonging to a more splendid world.'
If like me you've been used to using a car for long-distance journeys, you'll have forgotten about the strangeness and allure of the train. More like an aeroplane than any other vehicle, the train launches you across alien spaces and brings you to your destination as if out of nowhere (although unlike travel by plane, you won't have seen a movie which in real life you would never in a million years pay money to view, and you won't have eaten some possibly enjoyable though never entirely identifiable foodstuffs - food which seems not to exist in terrestrial form).
subway map of the month
It's Madrid - the only European capital not built on a major waterway, so at least they don't have problems with damp.
agenbite of inwit
Cardinal. When I look into the fishponds in my garden,
Methinks I see a thing arm'd with a rake
That seems to strike at me.
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
absolut vs relative history
On the radio the other day they were talking about the first performance of Rachmaninov's 1st Symphony, which was conducted by a very drunk Glazunov: the 25 year old composer was so horrified at the disaster that ensued he spent the concert in a corridor with his head in his hands - 'the worst hour of my life', he said afterwards.
I will go out against the sun
Where the rolled scarp retires,
And the Long Man of Wilmington
Looks naked toward the shires.
- Rudyard Kipling
Wilmington's Long Man in Sussex is one of three possibly ancient/prehistoric chalk figures in Britain: the other two are the Cerne Abbas Giant and the Uffington White Horse. Theory has had it that the Long Man with his two poles is an early surveyor or dodman (the snail's rural nickname - dodman - because of his two tentacles) who might have been laying out trackways or leylines on the landscape.
mount we unto the sky :
Illness seems to be rife at the moment, so here are three different views of being confined to a bed, some more optimistic than others (the Joycean approach is most recommended by Dr Bhikku):
Nearly midnight. The hour when an invalid, who has been obliged to set out on a journey and to sleep in a strange hotel, awakened by a sudden spasm, sees with glad relief a streak of daylight showing under his door. Thank God, it is morning! The servants will be about in a minute: he can ring, and someone will come to look after him. The thought of being assuaged gives him some strength to endure his pain. He is certain he heard footsteps: they come nearer, and then die away. The ray of light beneath his door is extinguished. It is midnight; someone has just turned down the gas; the last servant has gone to bed, and he must lie all night in agony with no one to bring him relief.
- Proust, Remembrance of Things Past
They put him between fresh, clean, laundered sheets and there was always a newly squeezed glass of orange juice on the table under the dim pink lamp. All Charles had to do was call and Mom or Dad would stick their heads into his room to see how sick he was. The acoustics of the room were fine; you could hear the toilet gargling its porcelain throat of mornings, you could hear the rain tap the roof or sly mice run in the secret walls, the canary singing in its cage downstairs. If you were very alert, sickness wasn't too bad.
- Ray Bradbury, Fever Dream
It was queer that they had not given him any medicine. Perhaps Brother Michael would bring it back when he came. They said you got stinking stuff to drink when you were in the infirmary. But he felt better now than before. It would be nice getting better slowly. You could get a book then. There was a book in the library about Holland. There were lovely foreign names in it and pictures of strange-looking cities and ships. It made you feel so happy.
- Joyce, Portrait of the Artist
And remember, let your watchword for the dark months ahead be echinacea.
"We skim off the cream of other men's wits, pick the choice flowers of their tilled gardens to set out our own sterile plots."
- Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is it in a nutshell.
. . . and as cooks go, she went
It was a great, white fish, cold and garnished; the children had rejected it with cries of distress; it lay on a charger of imitation silver; the two brown thumbs of the coloured steward lay just within the circle of mayonnaise; lozenges and roundels of coloured vegetable spread symmetrically about its glazed back. William looked sadly at this fish. 'It is very dangerous,' said the administrator.
- Evelyn Waugh, Scoop
And proud young Kate, the enchanted princess, came in to see what the old tabbies wanted now. She snatched away their plates of mock something or other and slapped down a white, terrified blancmange.
'Jam, please, Kate,' said Josephine kindly.
Kate knelt and burst open the sideboard, lifted the lid of the jam-pot, saw that it was empty, put on the table and stalked off.
- Katherine Mansfield, The Daughters of the Late Colonel
Their cook, a Bavarian, was the Witch from Hansel and Gretel. She had decided that it is safer to feed people rather than eat them, but she smiled her old smile - I could never look at her without feeling behind me for an oven.
- Randall Jarrell, Pictures From an Institution
the wild wild mid-west
Came across this still the other day and remembered how well-made this scene is, but usually not paid much attention to because of the delicious anticipation of the following crop-duster sequence. The camera is so low that the road becomes a desert, a stage on which the Western-style confrontation takes place, Cary Grant and the man at the opposite bus-stop sizing each other up and squaring off like gunslingers.
Come, my lanthorn's feeble spark
Guide me through the dreadful dark
Hobs and boggarts, fly from here
Tiny flame, thou quenchest fear.
home ~ retrobhikku