Friday, April 29, 2011

whoops! ... i forgot david hume's three hundredth birthday

the sweet voice of reason, and such a smooth writer

apropos de sumpfinque ...

a little light reading provoked by volume ten of anthony powell's musick of time


Ten distinct Squares here seen apart,
Are joined in one by Cutter's art.

Old Democritus under a tree,
Sits on a stone with book on knee;
About him hang there many features,
Of Cats, Dogs and such like creatures,
Of which he makes anatomy,
The seat of black choler to see.
Over his head appears the sky,
And Saturn Lord of melancholy.

To the left a landscape of Jealousy,
Presents itself unto thine eye.
A Kingfisher, a Swan, an Hern,
Two fighting-cocks you may discern,
Two roaring Bulls each other hie,
To assault concerning venery.
Symbols are these; I say no more,
Conceive the rest by that's afore.

The next of solitariness,
A portraiture doth well express,
By sleeping dog, cat: Buck and Doe,
Hares, Conies in the desert go:
Bats, Owls the shady bowers over,
In melancholy darkness hover.
Mark well: If't be not as't should be,
Blame the bad Cutter, and not me.

I'th' under column there doth stand
Inamorato with folded hand;
Down hangs his head, terse and polite,
Some ditty sure he doth indite.
His lute and books about him lie,
As symptoms of his vanity.
If this do not enough disclose,
To paint him, take thyself by th' nose.

Hypocondriacus leans on his arm,
Wind in his side doth him much harm,
And troubles him full sore, God knows,
Much pain he hath and many woes.
About him pots and glasses lie,
Newly brought from's Apothecary.
This Saturn's aspects signify,
You see them portray'd in the sky.

Beneath them kneeling on his knee,
A superstitious man you see:
He fasts, prays, on his Idol fixt,
Tormented hope and fear betwixt:
For Hell perhaps he takes more pain,
Than thou dost Heaven itself to gain.
Alas poor soul, I pity thee,
What stars incline thee so to be?

But see the madman rage downright
With furious looks, a ghastly sight.
Naked in chains bound doth he lie,
And roars amain he knows not why!
Observe him; for as in a glass,
Thine angry portraiture it was.
His picture keeps still in thy presence;
'Twixt him and thee, there's no difference.

Borage and Hellebor fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy, and cheer the heart,
Of those black fumes which make it smart;
To clear the brain of misty fogs,
Which dull our senses, and Soul clogs.
The best medicine that e'er God made
For this malady, if well assay'd.

Now last of all to fill a place,
Presented is the Author's face;
And in that habit which he wears,
His image to the world appears.
His mind no art can well express,
That by his writings you may guess.
It was not pride, nor yet vainglory,
(Though others do it commonly)
Made him do this: if you must know,
The Printer would needs have it so.
Then do not frown or scoff at it,
Deride not, or detract a whit.
For surely as thou dost by him,
He will do the same again.
Then look upon't, behold and see,
As thou lik'st it, so it likes thee.
And I for it will stand in view,
Thine to command, Reader, adieu.

imagine trying to read the first paragraph of proust's recherche whilst listening to chopin's berceuse

Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure. Parfois, à peine ma bougie éteinte, mes yeux se fermaient si vite que je n’avais pas le temps de me dire: «Je m’endors.» Et, une demi-heure après, la pensée qu’il était temps de chercher le sommeil m’éveillait; je voulais poser le volume que je croyais avoir encore dans les mains et souffler ma lumière; je n’avais pas cessé en dormant de faire des réflexions sur ce que je venais de lire, mais ces réflexions avaient pris un tour un peu particulier; il me semblait que j’étais moi-même ce dont parlait l’ouvrage: une église, un quatuor, la rivalité de François Ier et de Charles Quint. Cette croyance survivait pendant quelques secondes à mon réveil; elle ne choquait pas ma raison mais pesait comme des écailles sur mes yeux et les empêchait de se rendre compte que le bougeoir n’était plus allumé. Puis elle commençait à me devenir inintelligible, comme après la métempsycose les pensées d’une existence antérieure; le sujet du livre se détachait de moi, j’étais libre de m’y appliquer ou non; aussitôt je recouvrais la vue et j’étais bien étonné de trouver autour de moi une obscurité, douce et reposante pour mes yeux, mais peut-être plus encore pour mon esprit, à qui elle apparaissait comme une chose sans cause, incompréhensible, comme une chose vraiment obscure. Je me demandais quelle heure il pouvait être; j’entendais le sifflement des trains qui, plus ou moins éloigné, comme le chant d’un oiseau dans une forêt, relevant les distances, me décrivait l’étendue de la campagne déserte où le voyageur se hâte vers la station prochaine; et le petit chemin qu’il suit va être gravé dans son souvenir par l’excitation qu’il doit à des lieux nouveaux, à des actes inaccoutumés, à la causerie récente et aux adieux sous la lampe étrangère qui le suivent encore dans le silence de la nuit, à la douceur prochaine du retour.

just click on this youtube link ...

Friday, April 22, 2011

setting the scene ... the anthony powell "method"

The noise of the cannonade round about was deepening.  An odour like smouldering rubber imposed a rank, unsavoury surface smell on lesser exhalations of soot and smoke.  Towards the far side of the town --- the direction of the harbour --- thin greenish rays of searchlight beam rapidly described wide intersecting arcs backwards and forwards against the eastern horizon, their range ever reducing, ever extending, as they sliced purposefully across each other’s tracks.  Then, all at once, these several zigzagging angles of light would form an apex on the same patch of sky, creating a small elliptical compartment through which, once in a way, rapidly darted a tiny object, moving like an angry insect confined in a bottle.   As if reacting in deliberately regulated unison to the searchlights’ methodical fluctuations, shifting masses of cloudbank alternatively glowed and faded, constantly redesigning by that means half-a-dozen intricately pastelled compositions of black and lilac, grey and saffron, pink and gold.  Out of this resplendent firmament --- which transcendentally speaking, seemed to threaten imminent revelation from on high --- slowly descended, like Japanese lanterns at a fête, a score or more of the flares released by the raiding planes.  Clustered together in twos and threes, they drifted at first aimlessly in the breeze, after a time scarcely losing height, only swaying a little this way and that, metamorphosed in to all but stationary lamps, apparently suspended by immensely elongated wires attached to an invisible ceiling.  Suddenly, as if at a pre-arranged signal for the climax of the spectacle --- a set-piece at midnight --- high swirling clouds of inky smoke rose from below to meet these flickering airborne torches.  At ground level, too, irregular knots of flame began to blaze away like a nest of nocturnal forges in the Black Country.  All the world was dipped in a livid, unearthly refulgence, theatrical yet sinister, a light neither of night nor day, the penumbra of Pluto’s frontiers.  The reek of scorched rubber grew more than ever sickly.  Bithel fidgeted with the belt of his mackintosh.

          “There’s been a spot of bother about a cheque,” he said.

to be read slowly, but not too slowly ...

... although i had to skim a half a page of conversation because the old fox had reported it in f-f-f-french !

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

mystery object explained

a good friend was recently held motionless in this "tailor-made" cage for some desperate "last-ditch"  radiotherapy sessions

as she's now absorbed the maximum dosage, so the cage has become redundant

and because she's twiddling her thumbs at home a hundred miles away, so i'm showing a strictly limited amount of sympathy by taking her cage out on my rounds

Sunday, April 10, 2011

cognitive dissonance ( my default setting )

Walking the dog erratically along Eccles Road towards Clapham Common, my view of a dreary row of shops was enlivened by the transit of an unexpectedly graceful figure.  A young woman entered stage right, walking straight-backed with the slightly extended straight-toed stride of a ballet dancer, this effect being enhanced by her black pumps and tights and by her straight fair hair hanging almost to her waist in a bulky silken plait.  An air of dignified sobriety was projected by a dark grey tailored suit, the skirt nicely tapered with the hem just above the knee, the jacket cleverly cut to a high waist and widening to accommodate an imposing superstructure.  An ornament of Battersea society !  The old dog paused by a couple of lamp posts and so I’d already half-forgotten the woman when we arrived face to face at the pedestrian crossing, myself and the old dog pointing towards the Common, herself facing the Parish Church.  And that must have been her destination, because only then could I see her light grey clerical vest and shiny white dog collar.  A lady vicar !

Friday, April 8, 2011

morning hath broken ...

a little light reading ...

a dance to the music of time ... one and a half down ... ten and a half to go ... to be savoured, one sentence at a time