Showing posts from 2020

You are not normal

"You are not normal," she said. "You make it sound like an insult," he replied.

Lindsay Kemp's Alice

 I saw Lindsay Kemp's Mime Company production of "Alice" more than 20 years ago in Milano. One scene has remained in my memory all these years:  As usual a still photo (or even a video) cannot convey the atmosphere. But wouldn't it be wonderful to create something as strange and magic as that?   In reality, not on a screen.

Drawings 2020

    2020-01-27 - 2020   Cowgirl - 2020     Cowgirl , detail - 2020 Veteran - 2020 Veteran , detail 2020 La Sposa - 2020 La Sposa , detail - 2020   September 2020 - 2020 September 2020 , detail - 2020 Untitled - 2020      Jamie at Todi - 2020         La Castellana - 2020 La Castellana , detail - 2020 FC - 2020   ANQHNL - 2020     ANQHNL - 2020     Untitled - 2020      2020-12-01 - 2020 2020-12-01 , detail - 2020  2020-12-10 2020-12-10 , detail EC - 2020  2020-12-13 2020-12-18 2020-12-18 , detail Drawings from 2019 and earlier drawings          

The Comfort of Fog

I've always liked fog, it seems magical and mysterious. I went to school through fog, here's Rowan Crescent, Bigglewade, 1975... I was reminded of that photo when I looked out of my window here in Italy and saw... Ah. The Comfort of Fog.


I am reading The Claverings by Anthony Trollope. And a fine good read it is too, sex, money, class, families. Anyway , after a while I noticed the cover... ...which has nothing to do with the contents. The painting is by William Powell Frith and is called At The Opera . I'd noticed and not noticed the binoculars. Suddenly, knowing the title, I imagined the girl looking through them at the lit stage below her, viewing the heaving bosom of the fat heroine, and the heavy makeup around the eyes of the male lead. The title of the painting had done that much. And this coincides with a decision that I've made to no longer title my drawings and "art" works. (Not that I'm in the same league as Frith.) I have an idea that titles can destroy the effect of the image, suddenly it is "understood". The viewer can pass on to the next work. But At The Opera had opened up my brain to what was beyond the painting, suggested by the painting and title. So no hard and fast

Alien Lizard Tongue

I had Covid, in my case nothing serious luckily, Covid-Light really. But the change in my sense of taste was amazing and unpleasant. I didn't lose my sense of taste, it was changed. I could still taste fruit and vegetables OK, but bread, pasta, pizza tasted like chopped up cardboard mixed with chopped up plastic. My wife made a pie for me, and I said "I can't eat that !" Beer and wine tasted odd too. It was as if someone had replaced my normal human tongue with an alien lizard tongue. The alien lizard tongue had been connected to my human brain, but/and clearly the wires did not match. At times it did not even feel like a taste, but some other sensation. Which got me wondering about how fragile our senses are. And what would be the result if a virus could affect our sense of vision or hearing or touch?  How limited is the spectrum of sensation we have, how little we know of the world "out there".  

Don't explain, don't apologise

For a project I have in mind for sometime in the future I was researching quotes from artists. And I came across this terrible terrible advice...   Luckily I turned to the greats and found... "Painting is a language which cannot be replaced by another language. I don't know what to say about what I paint, really." - Balthus "I refuse to confide and don’t like it when people write about art." - Balthus "Everything that is visible hides something that is invisible" - Rene Magritte "The purpose of art is mystery" - Rene Magritte  "For art to appear, we must disappear" -  Stephen Nachmanovitch "The artist must be void" - Balthus "Avoid tautology" - Geoff Dyer/John Berger (don’t’ describe a picture which is in front of you) "One must picture everything in the world as an enigma, and live in the world as if in a vast museum of strangeness" - Giorgio de Chirico "The artist performs only one part of the

For reasons beyond my control

For reasons beyond my control I have to stay in a single room for a couple of weeks. Yes with Netflix, but on a mobile phone, no TV. I'm too old to watch films and series on a mobile phone. I'm lucky and can work from this room, but I need my pauses. Oddly enough I've been saving up recordings of podcasts and radio programs for just this eventuality. I listened to BBC Radio comedies since I was a young boy I'd imagined my need for comedy it would occur in a hospital, but it hasn't, fortunately. So first I listened to On Mardle Fen by Nick Warburton.         It is a strange comedy/drama, but entertaining. Samuel, the old codger who has knowledge of the East Anglian fens, is the best character. Zofia, the foreigner working as a waitress, is the least convincing. Her language mistakes are unconvincing. But not enough to ruin the series. Next there was Ed Reardon's Week to fill the lonely hours: The adventures of an out of work writer, with his agent "Ping&quo

Artifical Intelligence generated High Phantasy

 A friend, David Wilson , said to me recently " I was imagining an AI that could be trained to 'continue the Great Work' once one has departed this earth ." This got me thinking because I'd thought it had already been done. David Cope has written a program which creates music in the style of Bach for years. Now he's even selling the tracks on Amazon: You can sample the audio here .  Some of you will say: "This is clearly computer created because..."  I'd answer: "Bollocks. If you did not know it was created by a program you'd never guess. You are like people who know good wine by the label and not by the taste. Fuck off you idiots." But that's just me, after a few whiskeys. Anyway. There are also computer generated images, I'm still selling a few copies of Gliftex every month. It does not use AI and has a fairly simple model of how to create a visual pattern. (There are three components Form, Colour Scheme, and Interpretati

A Spectre Is Haunting Texas

I listened to the LibriVox.Org audio book of " The Big Time " by Fritz Leiber. I had been searching for " A Spectre Is Haunting Texas " by the same bloke, but found " The Big Time ". I was amazed at how well it has stood the test of time (published in 1958), and how well it was read by Karen Savage. LibriVox is "the acoustical liberation of books in the public domain", and has tons of good stuff to listen to. " The Big Time " is really a strange and gripping story. I'd been looking for " A Spectre Is Haunting Texas " by Fritz Leiber as a nostalgia trip. In my early teens I read a lot of Science Fiction, and the title of this book has stuck in my mind. I didn't remember much about the novel, except that I'd enjoyed it and that it featured a human used to living in space and so in need of an artificial motorized exoskeleton for his trip to Earth. That cover, is it tacky or good artwork? In the book the "spectre

To Die Well, Final Exit, Natural Causes, Il Gattopardo, The Illusion Of Control.

I've just finished reading " Il Gattopardo " by Tomasi Di Lampedusa. It's brilliant. I won't spoil the plot for you, but there is a description of a death, from inside the dying person, which struck me as calm and restful. If I could die like that (sometime in the future ) I'd sign up now.  Because I'm worried about Alzheimer's and incapacity, loss of control, ending up in a care-home bored out of my wits. I read " To Die Well " and " Final Exit ", practical guides to self deliverance. The two books tell you how to kill yourself in a humane way, and give lots of other practical advice. Ideally of course I'll die in my sleep or in a one-victim car crash, a vigorous alert 90 years old.  But just in case. I've read the books and taken notes. I have no idea if I have the courage required. And still on this topic, " Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer "

The Moon, Venus, Orion and astrology

  I got up early this morning to an astounding sight: The Moon, Venus and Orion all there together. The photo doesn't do the scene justice, it was magnificent and cheered me up no end. Here's a quick guide to the above photo.    And here is the crescent Moon above Venus, closer up: The names of the constellation reminded me of a book I read a few months ago, " A Scheme of Heaven: Astrology and the Birth of Science " by Alexander Boxer.     It is a brilliant book. There was even a laugh out loud moment, which as a far as I can remember goes like this, reported in a contemporary diary, set in an Italian court in the 1500s: Courtier: "You know astrology is rubbish? It does not work!" Court Astrologer, shrugs shoulders, nods and replies: "But a man has to make a living!" (Strangely, even two modern day astrologers gave the book five stars (as I did). Apparently they had not read the book. Maybe they looked at the illustrations, and guessed what the tex

What is this cloud of unknowing?

Sometimes, between a morning of programming and an afternoon of programming I have thirty minutes of complete rest, horizontal, eyes closed. Programming is an art and a craft, so problems swirl around in the brain, unless you distract it. I need the "distraction" to get the most out of my half an hour. Somehow I've come to merge two religious phrases into one. The first is from Buddhism: "What is this?" It is a question which you are supposed to ask yourself intently and honestly. As far as I can tell "this" has never been specified. But oddly enough it does concentrate the mind. The second is from a 14th century work called "The Cloud of Unknowing". In that book it is suggested that you forget a rational or logical or even religiously proscribed way of thinking of God, and just try to pierce the cloud of unknowing (of what God is) Anyway, together the two phrases form a single question: What is this cloud of unknowing? An