3rd March 2003

The good Dr Inversus points out re the diatoms: 'why is there a copyright symbol and a K in the diatom in the third row, first column?'
Well, it's all part of the move towards advertising via genetically modified organisms, and this is a first try using something small - or possibly before the advertisers realised that the market share they'd get from touting their wares to amateur microscopists is ludicrously small. I heard on the radio the other day that butterfly genomes are being investigated with a view to printing 'Coca-Cola' across their wings, with the reservation being that the words would have to be a palindrome of symmetrical letters to make any sense at all. Re cola, there have recently sprouted a couple of 'ethical alternative' or 'anti-imperialist' colas: Qibla Cola, which gives 10% of its profits to third world charities including Palestinian causes, and the splendid:

Bet they still rot your teeth though.


4th March 2003

Massive thanks to Jouke for pointing out the amazing and complete Kunstformen der Natur by Ernst Haeckel, with giant scans and luscious colours. Rarely does one's mouth almost drop open when looking at a website, but this one does it. Now you'll be able to recognize me this summer by my iron-on t-shirt.


7th March 2003

hommage à ftrain

The Eternal is Thy Refuge

Friday, 7 Mar 2003

This is The Eternal is Thy Refuge, © Friday, 7 Mar 2003. It is part of bhikku.net.


10th March 2003


Adam Faith died this weekend. In the 1960 film Beat Girl his character had this to say:

I never fight. Fighting's for squares.

A striking and controversial statement at the time, and one which seems quite apposite just at the moment.


11th March 2003

Morpheus, don't just stand there, I'm yours


It's Sunday afternoon chez bhikku, and the guests, replete and not particularly in charge of their faculties, make use of the nearest bit of furniture.


12th March 2003


Thanks to the kindness and herculean labours of imaginary friends (stand up, Ms Miranda Gaw!), I now have a comments system.

                                        * * *

An assiduous reader sends a joke (thanks Al):

How do you disarm Saddam Hussein?
Tell him how much you like his moustache.


14th March 2003

c'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas Daguerre

In her book On Photography, Susan Sontag opens with a queasy dismissal of the practice of photography as a useless duplication of the world, a violation of Occam's Razor which needlessly produces more and more copies of what is already there.
Well, so what. A reductio ad absurdam of this view would leave us with no representations of anything, stripping us back to the mop and bucket of practical objects. Of course Sontag isn't proposing this, but opening a book which ends up sympathetic to photography in this way leaves a strange taste in the mouth. Her proposal that reality has become swamped with false or low-grade copies of itself doesn't really stand up: photography in fact is rather rare in the world considered as a whole, with the world representing itself in the main. The world is very much there all right - there are many human artifacts which detract from things we like about it, but photography is low on the list.
David Hockney has tried blanket photographic coverage of certain areas, and I always come back to looking at Pearblossom Highway, with its heightened perspective and meticulous recording of detail - but even this massive collage merely chips away at one tiny part of the planet's surface, duplicating as it does just one view of a square mile or so - while providing us with a fine artwork, of course.
But producing objects extraneous to basic existence is one of the things our species does best - we love to duplicate things over and over again, perhaps something that stems from playing at reproducing ourselves. We can make copies of what is already there, flawed copies, enhanced copies, copies spun and built and covered in chocolate sauce with a cherry on the top. Or we can choose not to. Or we can do anything in between.


17th March 2003

higgs field

winter morning, Kyoto - a whisper of pines around the silent court; nope, it's Kew Gardens again.


18th March 2003


The skylarks are claiming their patches in the park. They rise from their favourite tussocks and climb into a clear sky, singing without stopping. They can fly vertically upwards and sing at the same time, while I, pedalling my bike in lowest gear up quite a steep hill, have barely enough spare energy to listen.


20th March 2003

air from another planet

Music as science fiction: strange sounds from another star. If you've never heard music from Ethiopia, this is how it may strike you. Tezeta* is the Ethiopian blues: slow, nostalgic, aching music that sounds as though it comes through the musicians straight out of the ground. But like the blues, it's a young music - it may sound eternal, but the sleevenotes to Ethiopiques 10: Tezeta suggest that it evolved only about 40 years ago. Here's Mahmoud Ahmed, one of the less unknown Ethiopian musicians in the west, with a smouldering twelve minute tezeta.

* The word means 'memory' in the Amharic language.


22nd March 2003

Among Those Killed in the Dawn Raid Was a Man Aged a Hundred

When the morning was waking over the war
He put on his clothes and stepped out and he died,
The locks yawned loose and a blast blew them wide,
He dropped where he loved on the burst pavement stone
And the funeral grains of the slaughtered floor.
Tell his street on its back he stopped a sun
And the craters of his eyes grew springshots and fire
When all the keys shot from the locks, and rang.
Dig no more for the chains of his grey-haired heart.
The heavenly ambulance drawn by a wound
Assembling waits for the spade's ring on the cage.
O keep his bones away from the common cart,
The morning is flying on the wings of his age
And a hundred storks perch on the sun's right hand.

- Dylan Thomas


24th March 2003

aber kein hamburger

Some recipes from The New Hotdog Cookbook, pub. 1968:

Hot Dogs in Edam Fondue
Hot Dog Lentil Soup
Hot Dog Aspic
Fresh Spinach Salad with Hot Dogs
Wilted Lettuce Made With Hot Dogs
Jellied Hot Dog Loaf
Oriental Hot Dog Casserole
Dog and Yam Casserole
Hot Dog Tamale Pie
Hot Dog Jambalaya
Hot Dog-hetti Dinner
Down East Hot Dog and Baked Bean Rarebit
Hot Dog Medley
Endive Charlotte, With Hot Dogs
Asparagus and Hot Dogs
Hot Dog Pizza Pie
Hot Dogs in Fruited Brandy Sauce
Drunken Dogs
Hot Dog and Spiced Crab Apple Grill

Should you require any of the above receipts, apply within. Anonymity respected.


25th March 2003
about town

To the Wim Wenders photographic exhibition, Pictures of the Surface of the Earth, at Haunch of Venison Yard, W1.
Mr Wenders takes pictures which are very large - some cover almost the entire wall of the exhibition space. His pictures are mostly empty of humanity, and show deserted buildings or empty landscapes. The paintings of Mr Edward Hopper often have many of the same qualities:

Early Sunday Morning, by Mr Hopper

Street front in Butte, Montana, by Mr Wenders

I understand from the exhibition catalogue that Mr Wenders also directs motion pictures. Judging by his photographs, I would expect his pictures to be long, with few characters or conversations.

Your correspondent then went around the corner and ordered a falafel sandwich. The pitta was warm and crisp, the falafel were aromatic, with the shells of coriander seeds embedded in their surfaces. There was chili sauce, and tahini. It was very good.


26th March 2003

in spring, in Somerset

The season's news ticker, the chiff-chaff alerts me through the window of my meeting-room that great things are afoot outside. He's eager, and early - last year he didn't contact me for another month.


28th March 2003

damn'd to roll the ceaseless stone


29th March 2003

I'm a bit behind things as usual, but the Invisible Library is back, after having had an up and down career for the last few years. One of their special requests at the moment: books found in P. G. Wodehouse's stories. I've just mailed them with a few bits and pieces that were missing, and I'm sure I'll remember some more in time to come.

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Scary moment when I looked at walden.org and found that almost all of Thoreau's journals had disappeared off the site. A response to my querulous demands from the nice people who run it:

Many of the texts that were on our website had errors and/or were not free from copyright restrictions. We are in the process of revising the texts on our website, including putting up the entire 1906 edition of the Journals, and are adding new texts daily. Please check back often.



31st March 2003

he who would talk to the animals must first learn Latin

Nativity Window by John Piper, St Mary the Virgin, Iffley, Oxford

The Cock: Christus natus est!

The Goose: Quando? quando?

The Raven: in hac nocte . . .

The Owl: Ubi? ubi?

The Lamb: Bethlem! Bethlem!



it being March

the exceeding brightness of this early sun, etc etc

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