Thursday, 30 July 2009

the genius of shatner

okay so it's not quite rocket man
but even so
does palin
the glory days are gone
he is rounder
and slower
but i say

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


bored by the hayfeverishness we go up to destination x where i'm sure i've seen wild strawberries. -1 for botany boy as they turn out to be raspberries but even so there's loads of them. even some white ones!

it's weird being in the forest and not on my bike but with the beautiful quiet i usually only notice when i've fallen off, and, unbelievably, aside from a couple of more generously proportioned lads down the bottom end, there's no-one there!

t hasn't been for a while so we pick the berries and wait until sure enough out comes the wildlife. very nice way to spend the evening.n and now we will eat the spoils!

miyazawa kenji


neither yielding to rain
nor yielding to wind
yielding neither to
snow nor to summer heat
with a stout body
like thatwithout greed
never getting angry
always smiling quiet-
eating one and a half pints of brown rice
and bean paste and a bit of
vegetables a day
in everything
not taking oneself
into account
looking listening understanding well
and not forgetting
living in the shadow of pine trees in a field
in a smallhut thatched with miscanthus
if in the east there's a
sick child
going and nursinghim
if in the west there's a tired mother
going and carrying
for her
bundles of rice
if in the south
there's someone
goingand saying
you don't have to be
if in the north
there's a quarrel
or a lawsuit
saying it's not worth it
stop it
in a drought
shedding tears
in a cold summer
pacing back and forth lost
calleda good-for-nothing
by everyone
neither praised
nor thought a pain
like that
is what I want
to be.

trans unknown

you can hear it in the original and see a different translation here

more from the lawn (or what's left of it)

so, the post swine flu period. when i should be all recovered and the like. except i'm not. sparkling form on the bike last week but this week, post night shift, so not. the mystery hay fever that appeared post flu is much worse and i'm feeling just 'not right'. so much so i may even go to the comedy that is the gp. who will say something post viral, then i'll have to go back to work, take my own bloods and start from there.

anyway that could all get me down, esp as this afternoon it's actually sunny so i should really be on the bike but, as it is, i make a foray into the garden. which is blooming. i should take pictures and maybe later i shall. vegetables are growing out of the ground and we are eating them. it seems somehow magical.

i fiddle about with herbs and cold frames, replant some tomatoes. one side of the front of the house is full of trees, gages, bays and a lilac, so that i can sit down among them and the world recedes. our campaign to get bees in the garden has been so successful we're convinced there's a bumble bee nest in the fuchsia. the beans and peas are growing like they've a mind of their own.

shortly we (or rather the man i'm going to pay) is going to dig most of the rest fo the back garden up so we can plant even more fruit bushes and the likes. i can hardly wait. it turns out that the garden activity and its effect on the neighbours - not speaking to us, snidey comments, strife - is nothing new tho i'm hoping that amy's experience will be shared by us and people will engage at some point. we share plants with some other people down the road so we're hoping they'll be by soon so they can help us enthuse over our sweet pea hedge.

gardening enthusiasm was tempered somewhat by the news this week that the bbc is going to sell the blue peter garden and replace it with a virtual one. what a bag of arse. while they'll obviously have to be moving property to do away entirely with a garden constructed for children, particularly given the flabby state of the nation's offspring, and to replace it for yet another opportunity to flob in front of a computer seems particularly stupid. i am with brillat-savarin when he says le destinee de nations depend de la maniere dontelles se nourrissent. i suspect however that the health bit of all this will be overlooked by the daily mail types of this world and they'll demand it be preserved as part of the nation's heritage rather than just built elsewhere, bigger and better. I should take a picture of the kids garden down the road at the primary school and send it to the bbc tho i'd probably end up getting arrested.

the wee untalkative lassie next door is obviously interested in the garden. does she even realise she can eat these plants? has she ever eaten berries off the bush? i doubt it. her mother refused all the bulbs we offered her and when she was given sunflowers to take home from school sneaked out at night to chop them down with scissors because she 'couldn't be bothered'. shameful. our response? a wall of sunflowers

so i guess it's never just about sitting in the garden even when it is. i wish i had a normal job where i could actually see my mates and they could give me a hard time about the plant growing instead of drinking myself senseless and despite not speaking to them i sometimes find myself wishing my parents could visit but the likelihood of that is about as much of the likelihood of me being out on the bike today. and i miss the lolling when t's there and i can adopt a more supervisory role. but maybe that's the advantage of being post viral. i can sit in the sun in between the rain, try to finish proust but really think about bachelard again, listen to the leaves rustle, the bees, let my eyes droop and enter the land of reverie

Thursday, 23 July 2009

them blogs

i haven't done a blogs i've come across i like post for ages

so old movies, yes, drawing, yes. little people in different places in a sort of floating elvis style... that would be a yes. and super furry animals? oh yes. i have always wanted one of them wookie suits

anyway, if that all sounds interesting go here. it's lovely

olav hauge

Across The Swamp

It is the roots from all the trees that have died
out here, that's how you can walk
safely over the soft places.
Roots like these keep their firmness, it's possible
they've lain here centuries.
And there is still some dark remains
of them under the moss.
They are still in the world and hold
you up so you can make it over.
And when you push out into the mountain lake, high
up, you feel how the memory
of that cold person
who drowned himself here once
helps hold up your frail boat.
He, really crazy, trusted his life
to water and eternity.

trans robert bly

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

walking in budapest

t's mum was up visiting this week and, among many other things, we got involved in a long exegesis concerning out wanderings in budapest. in the end we were no further forward and our recollection of budapest remained frustratingly disparate, un-unified, at least until i read the following in iain sinclair's travelogue with bells on lights out for the territory -

Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city; the changes, shifts, breaks in the cloud helmet, movement of light on water. Drifting purposefully is the recommended mode, tramping asphalted earth in alert reverie, allowing the fiction of an underlying pattern to reveal itself. To the no-bullshit materialist this sounds suspiciously like fin-de-siecle decadence - a poetic of entropy - but the born again flaneur is a stubborn creature, less interested in texture and fabric, eavesdropping on philosophical conversation pieces, than in noticing everything. Alignments of telephone kiosks, maps made from moss on the slopes of Victorian sepulchres, collections of prostitutes' cards, torn and defaced promotional bills for cancelled events at York Hall, visits to the homes of dead writers, plaster dogs, beer mats. concentrations of used condoms, the crystalline patterns of glass shards surrounding an imploded BMW quarter-light window, meditations on the brain damage suffered by the super-middleweight boxer Gerard McLellan (lights out in the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel) and the simultaneous collapse of Barings, bankers to the Queen. walking, moving across a retreating townscape, stitches it altogether: the illicit cocktail of bodily exhaustion and a raging carbon monoxide high.

and that seems to just about capture it. i'm willing to accept that there's a hearty dose of bullshit attached to psychogeography and its many manifestations and the above book is no exception but i still find at its kernel something both attractive and endearing, much as i do with its countryside equivalent, kenneth white's geopoetics, even if both very much appear to be boys clubs (or maybe female psychogeographers - rebecca solnit maybe - are just quieter)

whatever, it's all about the walking!

Friday, 17 July 2009

where have all the second hand books gone

so today, among other reasons, i headed into stirling with the thought that, it being a universoty town and all, there must be classics sections in the second hand book stores. of the definite possibilities, two are now shut, one the owner died and the other i think just went out of business. and now the final one, it turns out is a shoe shop, or boutique.

so many shops are closed yet people seem to be going about as if nothing is happening. there is a proliferation of coffee shops and a few people are in those but not enough to sustain a business i wouldn't have thought. and even in the shopping centres there seems less old people, tho it wasn't so cold today.

have the book stores been driven out of business by the charities? i've heard of this pressure in london so maybe. certainly oxfam has a book store but it seems a bit of a slow time for them. no classics. not a one. unless you count the morte d'arthur. which at least had the quality of being old going for it. almost everything else was numbingly contemporary, a pattern which manifested itself in the next four charity shops i went to.

the sum total of classic fiction i came across was a copy of the woman in white. other than that nothing. no poetry, no plays, nothing. i recalled a conversation i'd had with andrew about his hopes for buying some classics while in the uk - not much hope i'd said, nobody reads them and on this outing i'd say that view has been depressingly confirmed. either that or people are so into them they never give them away!

but where do all the old books go. i have an image in my head of that character in the bohumil hrabal book - is it too loud a solitude? - where the main character is gradually buried under the waste manuscripts he's charged with disposing of.

oh well, down to town tomorrow to continue the search. in the meantime the kicking i've given my immune system appears to have resulted in a cold. i can scarcely believe it. the bike is looking at me and seems to be sighing. i don't blame it...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

stuck in dante

so i'm working on this picture and i'm getting a bit stuck when t suggests i do a bit of a collage, or rather has assumed that's what i'm going to do, and once the idea's in my head then that's exactly what i want to do.

something text based but what to use? i have some books lying about that would maybe be suitable. one i can't find, then my eyes light on an old penguin copy of inferno. perfect. naturally i'm not just going to tear out any old page so i start reading. big mistake!

back in the day i remember finding it unutterably tedious and impenetrable. not so now! the copy i start reading is the sayers translation and as such, to my eyes, dreadfully, rhyme-y. i know i should have another copy, as you do, but can't find it. t to the rescue. it's the musa translation.

brilliant is say, now i can read them in parallel. t rolls her eyes and reminds me i have a third, dore illustrated copy, she's tucked away. i check that out this morning. it's by some bloke called cary. not rhyming but old school. with pictures. it's brilliant.

so in short, having ended my flu exile, i'm off down the town to try and find an inferno that i'm happen tearing up. not the pinsky version obviously, because i want that....

Monday, 13 July 2009

henrik nordbrandt


After having loved we lie close together
and at the same time with distance between us
like two sailing ships that enjoy so intensely
their own lines in the dark water they divide
that their hulls
are almost splitting from sheer delight
while racing, out in the blue
under sails which the night wind fills
with flower-scented air and moonlight
- without one of them ever trying
to outsail the other
and without the distance between them
lessening or growing at all.

But there are other nights, where we drift
like two brightly illuminated luxury liners
lying side by side
with the engines shut off, under a strange constellation
and without a single passenger on board:
On each deck a violin orchestra is playing
in honor of the luminous waves.
And the sea is full of old tired ships
which we have sunk in our attempt to reach each other

trans by henrik nordbrandt and alexander taylor

No matter where we go

No matter where we go, we always arrive too late
to experience what we left to find.
And in whatever cities we stay
it is the houses where it is too late to return
the gardens where it's too late to spend a moonlit night
and the women whom it's too late to love
that disturb us with their intangible presence.

And whatever streets we think we know
take us past the gardens we are searching for
whose heavy fragrance spreads throughout the neighbourhood.
And whatever houses we return to
we arrive too late at night to be recognized.
And in whatever rivers we look for our reflections
we see ourselves only when we have turned our backs.


The things that were here before you died
and the things that have come after:

To the former belong, first of all,
your clothes, the jewelry and the photographs
and the name of the woman you were named after
and who also died young...
But also a couple receipts, the arrangement
of a certain corner in the living room,
a shirt you ironed for me
and which I keep carefully
under my pile of shirts,
certain pieces of music, and the mangy
dog that still stands around
smiling stupidly, as though you were here.

To the latter belong my new fountain pen,
a well-known perfume
on the skin of a woman I hardly even know
and the new light bulbs I put in the bedroom lamp
by whose light I read about you
in every book I try to read.

The former remind me that you were,
the latter that you no longer are.

It is the near indistinguishableness
I find hardest to bear.

trans unknown

Sunday, 12 July 2009

and after the flu

which finally seems to be dwindling - it may even be that i get back to work tomorrow tho we're most likely going to be having a discussion with occ health. maybe i'll be swabbed tho i think it'll be a bit late now. i'm certainly well enough to be getting a healthy dose of cabin fever so much so that i'm, shocker, looking forward to getting back to work, tho i'm guessing that'll last about an hour, maybe two.

it's been a while now and i have that feeling i usually get after a long break, like there's this other person who exists and only comes out when nobody's sick or dying. that said i suspect i'll be in for some healthy stress when i finally give this malarkey up. have been plagued by images of recent traumatic resuscitations. that can't be healthy!

on the upside now that my eyeballs don't hurt i can read again and i've discovered i've got a stack of poetry to write up. and painting - happened by some new brushes and getting into some new techniques. and that's before i get back on the bike...

Saturday, 11 July 2009

barbara korun (again)

so taken with barbara korun while i was in ljubljana that i ordered her collection songs of earth and light as soon as i got home (another winner form amazon sellers). what appeared was a lovely edition from southword editions. there a remarkably honest introduction from theo dorgan on his translation methodology - he doesn't speak slovene so used a translation intermediary and the poet herself - that made me feel much better about my own transliterative efforts, especially in languages i'm not familiar with.

better yet i came across this which explains how this edition, along with other translated poets, came about in conjunction with cork city of culture. there's all sorts of interesting translating type stuff and a comment that made me smile in comments!

Friday, 10 July 2009

the duckworth lewis method

so we're in the taxi back to the airport and the driver decides to regale us with some old school hungarian lounge standards - i say this but really they could've been adverts for toilet paper, whatever they sounded okay to me. especially in the light of the pair of us having been subjected to that cheap nasty by the numbers wallpaper euro house (for wont of a better word) that really, surely, it must be that it can't be a crime to set up whoever made it for a stabbing.

anyway, we're listening to this native warbler and i said, doesn't he sound like some sort of hungarian neil hannon? yes, said, t, indeed he does.

with bizarre synchronicity i'm reading the paper in the airport later, just before sinead o'connor of all people wanders by, and it turns out that hannon's got himself involved in the duckworth lewis method. a cricket concept album no less! and fine facial tonsury from both members.

reviews at and other places. throw away that bland electronica!



your window right, your tree duty

the window right
a resident must have the right to lean out of his window and design everything his arm can reach on the wall outside just as it suits him. it will thus be visible to everyone in the street that someone lives there

seckau 1958

window dictates and window rights

some people say houses consist of walls
i say houses consist of windows
when different houses stand next to each other in a street, all having different window types, or window races, nobody minds. thus an art nouveau house with art nouveau windows may appear beside a modern house with unadorned square windows, followed in turn by a baroque house with baroque windows. but should the three window types of the three houses belong to one house, it is seen as a violation of the racial segregation of windows.
why? each individual has its own right to life.
according to the prevailing code, however, if the window races are mixed, window apartheid is infringed.
the apartheid of window races must cease.
for the repetition of identical windows next to each other and above each other as in a grid system is a characteristic of concentration camps.
in the new architecture of satellite towns and in new administration buildings, banks, hospitals and schools, the levelling of windows is unbearable.
individuals, never identical, defend themselves against these standardized dictates either passively or actively, depending on their constitution. thus either with alcohol or drug addiction, exodus from the city, cleaning mania, television dependency, inexplicable physical complaints, allergies, depressions and even suicide, or alternatively with aggression, vandalism and crime.
a person in a rented apartment must be able to lean out of his window and scrape off the masonry within arm's reach. and he must be allowed to take a long brush and paint everything outside within arm's reach. so that it will be visible from afar to everyone in the street that someone lives there who is different from the imprisoned, enslaved, standardized man who lives next door

hundertwasser 1990

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

what to do

when you've got the flu? no bike, no trainer. head too sore to focus on writing or painting beyond prepping. so what's left. rubbish movies and the tour.

aisde from obvious bad choices, but bad no brainers are good when you're ill, i watch 50s classic Them! and am amazed at just how many future chase/alien/beast movies i can reference from it. too often people just look at the crap ants and miss the rest. and i love the look of that era of black and white. well worth the £3 i paid for it.

also £3 but an altogether different beast is jcvd, jean claude van damme in good film shocker. yes jean claude van damme. who plays himself as a burnt out, past it, skint old action movie star who's just lost his last part to steven seagal and then gets involved in a botched post office robbery. it's very odd but well worth a watch if only to see a belgian film. sound track is rubbish tho.

il y a longtemps que je t'aime. is this the best film i've seen this year? even allowing for a plot hole the size of a bus i'd say it's thereabouts. kirsten scott thomas is excellent from the opening shot where you realise that her's an actor who's sufficiently botox free she can actually frown. true she's plonked in that france where everyone is educated, everyone's a teacher/lecturer/doctor but even so the way they play out her character is a joy to watch.

the tour. the team time trial, my favourite to watch. caisse d'epargne in trouble already. menchov falls off. drama!

the reading

normally when i'm away i'll have my mp3 player for those long waits/flights/train journey, lulling myself into a trance like zone as the time passes and the world goes by. not this time tho, thanks to hitachi, or no thanks to be more accurate. so all the spoken word i'd taken with me lay frustratingly unavailable.

i did take to kill a mockingbird which on rereading remains as good as ever but. also as ever, is very difficult to put down and therefore much too quick to read. i'd also taken zola's l'assommoir but we'd seen far too much poverty and homelessness in budapest for me to be able to reasd this on a holiday so it remained in my bag. then i had a (very) old copy of ten british modern poets. train journeys being a much more human process than the plane i could read something then mull it over in my head as i gazed out the window. and we could pick ones we liked and read to each other. very pleasant.

but, as last year, i still wanted to pick up books along the way, particularly from the countries they were written in. which of course means other countries' book shops. first stop algoritam. as with helsinki last year there's a fabulous pleasure upon coming on a really good selection in another country but it's coupled with the unpleasant certainty that here is a better range of books somewhere where your language isn't native. true it is a university town but even so their basement is a joy to behold.

in the end, weight and glimmerings of sense limit me to a couple of calvinos, a collected montale and proust. the calvinos, marcovaldo and jaguar sun, are just too lightweight and stay mostly in my bag. montale in english, ed by harry thomas, is a treasure with multiple translations of several of the poems where thomas feels different light may be shed upon the original and the decisions of the translators.

proust turns out to be the perfect choice for a journey on a train. undisturbed reading, reflection time, the only thing i don't do is annotate which was surely a mistake. and the journey itself takes on a proustian character with stops, pauses conversations - listen to this bit - etc

and on to slovenia 'country of poets' and really, for once, it is. not only are their poets and writers massively represented in their own language compared to ours (particularly the poets) but there's a healthy translation culture so that cornerstone works such as preseren's wreath of sonnets are easily available in several languages. not only that slovenian poets are well represented on the net but even that is before i come across the litterae slovenicae imprint. here's lots of contemporary slovene writers in slovene and english. instantly i'm into that culture. instantly i'm having a conversation with the folk in the shop. how they organise it i don't know but surely an example for any country on how to be presenting their own literature.

we were too concerned with looking at art to be reading in vienna so back to budapest where hungarian literature it seems, is for hungarians and if you want to get into it you'd better get yourself magyarised. in massive contrast to slovenia we did get ourselves to the sandor petofi museum to find not even even a syllable to explain him to the non-hungarian reader. i suppose it is an approach in itself but after slovenia very disappointing. we did come across a copy of adam makkai's massively comprehensive retrospective anthology in quest of the miracle stag but it was just too big to be carrying in a rucksack. as it was what i did pick up was a sandor kanyadi selected poems in the main because it seemed to be saying something about the complex politics, the mix of nationalisms, the tragic history of all of that, that we were becoming ever more aware of as time went on

barbara korun

White Room

A room, then, a white room,
walls bright with lime wash,
white shutters, bare wooden floor;
a bed in this empty room
and, in the far corner, two rucksacks.
Through the wide-open window
the smell of pines breaking in.

Rasp of cicadas dying away.
A bed in this room, this white room,
a couple sprawled there in blank heat,
gazing into a sky so blue they
are drowning in distance.
Legs, hips, hearts are touching –
but their eyes are turned towards
the high blue, they are rapt in the infinite.
This is how souls touch,
how they go to each other
under the skin and deeper yet . . .

Do I cover you, all of you?
Do you find shelter, here in me?

Here in the quiet, souls in their silence
Pour one into another, bound
in filaments of light.
There are rainbow patterns
on the milky ceiling,
soft explosions of colour.

Is anything softer than your finger tips?
What do your lips taste of ?
Let me taste your heart’s pulse, let me
feel the blood sway in your veins.
I would lie here for hours
unmoving in the silence,
just listening.

The world breaks in the white blank of noon.
Everything falls away, only your closeness
is ever closer, ever more present and yes,
this is powerful, yes, I too am afraid;
I am being so careful
not to hurt you, not to hurt myself.

Slowly now, no need to hurry,
time falls away, space falls away,
now there is only you.
Like this, the sea opening before Moses.
Like this, the world opening before me.
All that there is beats in your body,
beats in your heart.
Let me be closer still, let me
be deeply, completely inside you. Let me be you . . .

And then, the miracle. With a word, a touch,
you admit me to the moonlit glade of your self.
I can wade through the undergrowth of your groin,
rest in the soft nest of your navel,
I can lick at your armpits as a deer licks her fawn,
I can flick at your little ears,
I can drill my tongue into the whorls of your heart.
Sweet shivering shakes my body, too,
I can taste your every perception, your every thought.
The membrane of solitude stretches and bursts,
I am flooded in waves of you.

What a wonderful playground, your body,
A surprise at every step. We are like children
at play in each other, at play in the infinite sea.
No fear yet. No shame yet.
Everything here is one: yourself, myself, the sea, the sea.

trans theo dorgan

Monday, 6 July 2009

sándor kányádi


there is a land with beauty graced
landscapes where the bitter taste
that fouls my mouth is purified
there is a land deep deep inside
where words-of-the-field are flowering
like edelweiss the phrases cling
for dear life to the mountain cliffs
the brooks are my blood relatives
they purl and whisper in my heart
(in winter I freeze over hard
to shelter them) like tiny mice
they clink my armour-plate of ice
the summers autumns winters springs
are my forebears and afterlings
there is a land within
I wear it as I wear my skin
tormented but still beauty-graced
landscapes where the bitter taste
that fouls my mouth is purified
there is a land deep deep inside

trans peter zollman

Thursday, 2 July 2009

that would be vienna

naturally when we arrived it was in dreadful rain, the city soaked, us starving and then indian food of a type i haven't seen since the eighties but hot at least and the place just across the road. german, tho, that was another matter. what did the menu mean? for the first time i came across ondians who didn't speak english as their second language, which was odd but in the end highly amusing.

but the cakes you ask? well i have to admit that after ljubljana my body's capacity to absorb any more confectionary was seriously impaired and a big rest was definitely in order. a couple of sacher tortes and that was about it. one reasonable and the other just okay. oh yes and ice cream with which the viennese seem to be iinable to get enough cream, whipped or otherwise. i attempted it manfully but really i was more taken with the waitresses,w ho were wearing some sort of old school pink and white striped uniform from the fifties (nardini style for those who are aware of such things)

but vienna. we went to see schiele, lots of schiele, who dazzled me but for t, she says, changed the way she would look at art forever. and you can't say better than that. we saw many other things kandinsky, klimt but it was schiele that made vienna for us. and cy twombly who didn't. vienna was all kinds of wonderful. the area we stayed in was some sort of second hand store valhalla with all manner of bolt shop, boutique woodwork, piano repair, nail salon and evrything in between and more mixed in. it was great.

maybe more about klimt and schiele later but for now we're back in budapest. finally the baclava is found! and then to bed.

more later....