Showing posts from 2018

Italian American India Pale Ale

Recently I've got a taste for IPA (India Pale Ale) beer. It started with Poretti beer:

It made me smile to realise that this is an Italian, American, India, Pale Ale invented in England. A pretty international beer eh?

Then I thought I'd try another brand of IPA,  how about Moretti? That made me laugh too, they cut through the prolixity and just said that IPA stands for Italian Pale Ale:

I love you both! 

Angeli archangeli troni

I don't know why, but when I was 15 Gregorian chants and early religous music got hold of me and never let me go. I used to go to the library in Biggleswade and borrow LPs of this music, record it onto audio cassettes (piracy!) and listen to the music at night alone in my bedroom. It is often great music, soul touching. That must be the reason. I didn't know Latin then and I don't know Latin now.

I heard about this CD (CD? yes I'm attached to physical things), "Lucezia Borgia's Daughter"...

...somewhere and bought it.

All the motets are wonderful but the last track Angeli archangeli troni is amazing. I listened to it four or five times before reading the words and translation. I almost wished I hadn't. Just in as the Bach masses it is best to listen to the music of the voices and instruments without understanding the words.

The worst thing about Catholic funerals is the recited list of saints who are supposed to pray for the deceased. I don't like thi…

A comeuppance in Biggleswade.

My Mum told me this story many years ago. The events must have taken place around 1930 I think. She lived in Sutton near Biggleswade in the UK. When she was 5 years old she would walk to school every day and be bullied every day by a nasty piece of work, a 7 year old girl. In those days bullying meant physical harm.
"But," my Mum told me, with some satisfaction, "she got her comeuppance. The bully's mum put her on the child's seat on her bike, and rode them into the River Ivel, and they both drowned."

I'm not sure where in the Ivel it happened, but somewhere along the stretch which runs by Biggleswade.



The core of mystery is reality. The core of reality is mystery.

I was struck by Leonora Carrington's paintings... the same time as I was re-reading The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien....

It occurred to me that mystery can be transmitted best when it contains, or is contained by, reality. Pure abstract art (like some music with no lyrics and some abstract paintings) may sometimes trasmit emotions but I reckon that mystery, the unsayable stuff, you know what I mean, is most effective when connected to concrete things we are already familiar with.

The pretty smiling waitress.

Sometimes you are in a restaurant of an evening, with good friends, good food, flowing wine, it's dark outside and warmly  lit inside, and you notice the pretty smiling waitress. And the cook comes out of the kitchen to say hello, joking and happy. And you laugh with the jolly and ironic waiter.

Then, on the way to the bathroom, you catch a glimpse of all three, glum and sad in some side room or in the kìtchen.

I'm not one for monuments but...

I recently made a trip to Sicily. I'm not one for monuments but I love the Pretoria Fountain (Fontana Pretoria) in Palermo.

It is lovely, above all the wonderful animal heads in all four quarters...

The fountain has the added attraction of having annoyed the eccliasiastical authorities.

Sometimes it is called the Fountain of Shame (Fontana della Vergogna) maybe because of the naked ladies and gentlemen. I didn't take photos of those. Google will show you plenty. 

There is a legend that says that the nuns in the convent  next to  the fountain only came out at night so they would not see the naked ladies and gentlemen.

I walked around the fountain twice to get a good look at those animal heads.

And it occurred to me that the sculptors did better work than the nuns who lived next door to the fountain, and who competed to see who could whip themselves with thorn branches the most. As I saw these sculptures with my own eyes, I saw the hard sharp thorn branches with my own eyes too.



Elegiaic Reserved Thoughtful Tripe

There is a film of some fruit in a jar by Tacita Dean... According to the Guardian's art editorial this eleven minute film is:

Elegiaic. Reserved. Thoughtful. Epic. Intimate. In touch with history.  Elemental. About decay. About nostalgia. Treating contested geographical borders. Has a deep back story. About the death immanent of things. It is an editorial and I can't find the by-line. I imagine the author is too embarassed to admit to writing such tripe. It is easier to say "Thoughtful" than to think. It is easier to say "Epic" than to create.

Anyway that was the last straw. I listen to arts podcasts and read reviews of art, books and films in the hope or learning about something brilliant lovely interesting new. But only 10% of what is written or said by the critics makes any sense. The rest is pompous and pointless. So I'm going on a diet from critics, the pain of the 90% cannot be offset the pleasure of the 10%. A year without them, will …

Black and white cat

Black and white cat 
On green grass
Almost a haiku

Green cat on
Black and white grass
Almost an impossibility

Flying Stick People


Diamond Circle Flying Leaped


Freakonomics Wilful Blindness Buddhism's one pointedness

You become a monster when you don't concentrate...

A Freakonomics podcast...

...speaks of Continuous Partial Attention, never concentrating on a single thing.

Willful Blindness by Margaret Hefferman...

 ...explains that attention is not divisible.

Buddhism has the idea of one pointedness...

So when we are discussing the angle of a mechanical cut, and at the same time you are emailing a Japanese distributor about pricing, and you say "I'm listening I'm listening..." you are deluded or lying.



The first and last real conceptual art work, Duchamp's urinal.

The first and only really original conceptual artwork was Duchamp's urinal. A "found object" as art.

The next imaginative leap should have been: "The whole universe is a found object, we can appreciate that, we don't need to create other conceptual art. Nothing can beat the universe."

But that thought would not feed the art market nor the ego of the artists. So was born the idiocy of conceptual art, poor in concepts, rich in wool to pull over eyes.
The upside is that many people art create ignoring the art market. John Craxton for example. And maybe you. Do it. Create it. Fuck'em all.

Before Life's Liquor In The Cup Runs Dry

I've learned part of the The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám and one of the lines came to my mind as I sat on the sofa with a glass of wine balanced on the arm.
"Come my little ones and fill the cup, before life's liquor in the cup runs dry.
And the wine was nearly finished...

...and it occurred to me that the level of wine left in the glass might show how many years I have left to live. So when I was born I had a full glass. Now I don't.
So I'd better get on with all those things I want to do and keep putting off.
Strangely the thought was not morbid. Maybe I didn't really believe it, but certainly more than half my life has already gone.
There's a Buddhist saying "Those who are mindful will never die." I personally take it to mean that if you are awake to life you'll enjoy it better. And when you die you won't know it. There is a sort of infinity there, everything you'll ever know is what you know when when you are alive.
Hmmm. Can't e…

Val Wilmer said an interesting thing...

I heard a program about Val Wilmer, an English jazz journalist who knew all the greats. She made an interesting point: In the last hundred years black music and cinema are the two art forms which changed the world more than any other. Without black music...

...there'd be no Beatles, Kinks, Rolling Stones or Elvis Presely, and all that followed. And maybe without black music there'd be more racism.
What ever Tacita Dean says about how important Cy Twombly's handwriting is for art...

...she's speaking to a navel gazing elite. Neither Dean non Twombli will be remembered in another hundred years. But I bet the musicians above are.
(And the critics gush and fawn on Dean, Twombli, Kapoor, Cross, and their ilk, without ever seeming to understand anything real.)

"You are either the programmer or the programmed" - said the fool.

The Radio Three Documentary often has interesting podcasts which I listen to as I drive to and from work. But sometimes I want to throw my MP3 player out of the car window at the things they say. Such was the case with "Sunday Feature: Select Copy Paste 3 partsConception". It is about using technology in art, and how it affects the artist.

One of the first to be interviewed was Holly Hendon who pointed out something that I've thought for a long time. Traditional blown, plucked, hit, instruments are very limited in the sounds they can make, and it takes ages to learn how to blow pluck and hit them. But the computer has an infinite variety of sounds which you can get to use without having to learn how to blow, pluck and hit. 

Unfortunately, from the extracts in the program, the music (the sounds) Holly creates with the computer are not great. They avoid cliche but they also avoid being listenable music.

She said that she "exposes what is happening in society" like t…

Death In The Bank (La morte in banca)

I'm reading "La morte in banca"by Giuseppe Pontiggia. It is set in 1950s Italy and is about a 17 year old who gets a job at a bank, but who really wants to study literature at university.

I won't spoil the plot for you, but one scene struck me. A roomful of people all working on mechanical adding machines. And I thought that in some ways not much has changed. As far as I can make out at least 50% of all people in all the offices in all the world are copying columns of numbers from one Excel sheet to another Excel sheet. Excel is silent compared with a mechanical adding machine, but I imagine the expressions on the faces of the operators are much the same.

And how many people use Excel as a database!? They think: "Excel has a lot of tables, databases have a lot of tables, therefore Excel is a database". Excel is a brilliant calculator, but a godawful error-prone inefficient "database." 

The problem with Excel is that you can start using it from day on…