The opening of my show at bookartbookshop went very well, a good crowd packed the premises and many good words were said about the work.
Herewith some pictures I took before people arrived. I tried to photograph the work displayed in the window (a unique bookwork titled NATSHEPSUT - you can read a description of it on the Artists' Books section of my website) but because of reflections, some strangely relevant, ghostly things came up. A couple of examples are among those below. The first shot is of Tanya Peixoto and Chiara Ambrosio talking in the bookshop doorway.
The legendarily magnificent Tanya Peixoto who created, runs and animates the legendarily unique, small and perfectly formed bookartbookshop in Hoxton, London, invited me a while back to have a solo show of some of my autobiographical books, boxes etc. What's more, she felt that there should be a new edition, in colour like the original, of Augustine's True Confession, the handwritten journal published, with help from the Arts Council, in a b&w version in 1989 (out of print).
Tanya offered to equally share the cost of printing, and so... drum roll....the brand new edition of ATC will be launched at the Private View on 12th May, a joint publication by bookartbookshop and NdA . If you can't be there in person (why not?) you can order the book ...£10...from bookartbookshop.
Meanwhile here's the cover, along with a photo of the original journal sitting in the house I built for it. Included in the show.
THIS WILL BE LONG AND RAMBLING: back from Matera and Grottole
Gerardo Guerrieri was a master at expressing complex ideas, emotions and observations in lucid, direct language but, unlike many Italian intellectuals, he was not a great talker, least of all about himself. His forte was writing. And listening. The way that Gerardo listened was an art in itself, a creative process. Every person he encountered was, for him, a book waiting to be read. When Gerardo listened he was not being sociable, polite or intent on impressing you. At that moment you (whoever ‘you’ happened to be) became his teacher and he. your passionately curious and intelligent pupil, eager to absorb sparks from your experience, your mode of thinking, sparks that he would later connect to other sparks, in his daily life, in literature, science, art, philosophy and much more, forming a constellation, a moving galaxy of which he was not the designer but a fascinated recorder and interpreter.
Gerardo and I immediately became friends, as well as family, when he married my sister in Florence and over the years we exchanged a great many letters from various countries and throughout various stages in our respective lives. Below I've roughly translated excerpts from a letter he wrote to me during the 1960s or 1970s. I've chosen this particular letter because it is so relevant to my own current thoughts and feelings.
Translation note: the fact that affection can be injected into otherwise neutral words by giving them diminutives fills me with joy - maybe because I haven't a single drop of Anglo-Saxon blood. In Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian, it’s only natural to give some words that extra boost whenever they require it. But how to translate this habit into English? “little sister-in-law” for “cognatina” is as inadequate as “a little coffee” would be for “um cafezinho” in Portuguese. I'm not going to try.
(cognata = sister-in-law) Dear cognatina to continue the conversation.
You ask me to talk about myself - fair enough, but I have to think about it. It will come. For the moment I’m wondering what I should focus on for the next ten years.
I’ve dedicated a great deal of time to technique: now I must dedicate some time to educating myself. In spite of all the experiences I’ve had, it seems to me that I don’t have even the tiniest bit of experience: I feel that I was born yesterday. Of course I’ve lost interest in many things which used to enrage or excite me, things for which I would fight.
I think that one should know the world as one’s self and that knowledge of the world comes through being attentive to this interaction. But I can’t stand those mandarin writers and artists who wallow in navel-gazing - perhaps I’m wrong because, after all, we can’t know anything except through our own perceptions. However it has to be said that some forms of self-idolatry invariably end up being interpretations of absolutely everything through a distorting mirror of self.
Little by little I’ve become detached from my directorial ambitions because they were never truly mine: I can no longer allow myself the luxury of doing something which is not sincerely mine. I need to concentrate on that which was hidden beneath a preoccupation with technique: very often it was this preoccupation which stopped me from doing what I really felt. And, often I simply didn’t know what I should be doing. To quote a phrase of yours, I rarely knew what was “imprinted in my being”. I must always work on this, search for it.
I think I will never tire of learning too much. I’ve noticed that when vitality is low in me, I don’t want to know anymore and I become one of those who can’t conceive of anything beyond the day to day, those grey things which happen day to day. But when vitality is bubbling then I feel that a point in time is about to arrive at an unknown tomorrow and this thought gives me vertigo but is also fascinating, like looking up at a night sky filled with stars. This is the reason that I can’t completely believe in what I’m doing today, right now - because it's against a background of clouds which are flying by and which distract me. It's the background itself which, deep down, is the real fascination of life. It’s why I can’t believe 100% in human civilization but, still, it moves me, fascinates me by its ingenuity, its vitality, its stubborness. I’m enthralled that this whole story was created by a being who knows it must die. The whole of human history then looks like a dare, a joyous act of defiance. Still, I can’t take it entirely seriously. At some point it begins to bore me, just as the theatre began to bore me. What truly attracts me is the background, the off-stage, of which we know so little and of which we are so afraid.
Now you understand why I’d like to know what I should do for the next ten years, something not too far removed from what I should have done earlier. It’s not a question of ambition but of harmony. To write is important, but for me, writing has to help me to live. If you think about it, there have always been two categories of writers: those who have lived in order to then write; and those who live whilst writing. My road is certainly the first one. To repeat: I’m one who was born totally ignorant, like doubting Thomas.
I wish I could do justice to the experience I was fortunate to be a part of: the belated but enthusiastic re-discovery of Gerardo's multi-faceted achievements, thanks to the initiative of individuals in Matera, Grottole and Rome, not least to the tremendous effort made by Selene Guerrieri to complete in time what has turned out to be an invaluable book, meticulously documenting her father's life and work via letters, photographs, bibliography, statements from many of those who worked with him, as well as recapitulating the extraordinary undertaking that was the Teatro Club, created in Rome by my sister Anne in 1957, developed and expanded internationally together with Gerardo into the mid-1980s. To quote from a chapter The Adventure of the Teatro Club by Paola Columba, author and director, who curated the Teatro Club Archive at the Biblioteca Baldini (my translation):
".. it had a fundamental importance in the panorama of Italian theatre...bringing a breath of fresh air into what was a closed provincial ambiance...internationalizing the Italian theatrical scene and introducing audiences of all ages and social backgrounds to radical innovations such as the Living Theater, Peter Brook, Tadeusz Kantor, Café La Mama, Merce Cunningham...as well as Indian and Japanese theatre...But the Teatro Club's activity was not focused exclusively on theatre...conferences, workshops, debates, film projections, exhibitions... a multicultural undertaking.... In his notes a year before the Teatro Club's foundation ....Gerardo Guerrieri talked of creating a dialogue between cinema and theatre, between theatre and literature, "between the arts in general, to break the ice of exclusivity and specialization which is ignorance".
Errata: in the above caption the words 'Province of' are missing after "President of the...' It should read 'President of the Province of Matera...'
(Errata: the date in the above photo should be 23 April, not 3)
Sunlight on the Sassi, Matera.
I am totally incapable of writing a detailed report of this journey - there was just too much to absorb in three very full days. I hope I've conveyed at least the flavour of it. Matera, Grottole and the entire region of Basilicata are fascinating visually, historically, geographically, human-ly. I strongly recommend looking it up on the internet and, better still, going there. I will surely return one day. The people and the place make it impossible not to return.
I'll end with these notes by Gerardo which are printed on the large panel permanently affixed to a wall in the Grottole centre dedicated to him:
Yesterday was my 13th year blogday but there's so much else to celebrate that this is incidental. The Matera/Grottole experience was fantastic, I'm just trying to put my thoughts and impressions in some kind of order then I'll post them here and on the Blaug.
Early tomorrow morning I'm off to Matera in Southern Italy for various events in honour of my late brother-in-law Gerardo Guerrieri who died on 24th April thirty years ago. His biography, edited by my niece Selene Guerrieri, will be launched and a cultural centre in his name will be opened in nearby Grottole where he is buried. I'll be writing about all of this when I get back home in a few days.
For now, here's a 1965 article in English about his work as translator, a photo of the plaque which the city of Matera (his birthplace) will be dedicating, and a photo of Gerardo in a garden, probably in the mid-1970s.
Bad idea to start looking through old photos when you should be doing something else but it's a great distraction. One thing links to another in a satisfying manner.
For instance this photo, from the same period as the ones in the last post - perhaps even taken by Gerardo Guerrieri (he was always observing, photographing and/or recording everything). I don't remember what I was painting when this picture was taken but it must have been a portrait, judging by the gaze focused on someone....maybe my sister?
I'll be posting soon in detail about the brilliant book which Selene Guerrieri, my niece has just completed on her late father, my brother-in-law Gerardo Guerrieri. It is being published in Matera and will be launched on the occasion of the opening of the Casa della Cultura in Grottole, which is dedicated to Gerardo, as I mentioned here and on Facebook a while back. I'll be going to Matera and to this event in Grottole on 24th April for a few days and will take photos and video.
For the moment, I'm totally taken up with work in preparation for an exhibition of my work, entitled My Life Unfolds, at bookartbookshop in Hoxton, London, opening on 12th May (advance notice will, of course, appear here). Meanwhile, here's the cover of the book. The painting of Gerardo on the cover was painted a long time ago by yrs. truly.
Here is the duet of paintings I did of Gerardo and Annie, and a photo taken at the time, when they came to visit me and my then husband Reg Dixon in San Antonio, Paraguay.
Left to right: Gerardo Guerrieri, a friend, Anne d'Arbeloff Guerrieri, Reg Dixon, Natalie d'Arbeloff. I can't recall the dog's name.
I was going to write a post for this time of year, celebrated by all believers under the sun, including believers in non-belief, and also a time of grief for all those enveloped in darkness, pain, and loss.
Instead I took photos of an orchid given to me more than a year ago by someone I love. This orchid has died and resurrected several times and grows more beautiful with each incarnation.
May your Sunday tomorrow fill you with joy, gratitude and renewed, reborn, invigorated love.
Hundreds of times in my life I seem to come to a crossroad with signs pointing in all directions and I stand there bewildered: which is the right road? Which one is my road?
Usually the befuddlement doesn't last very long simply because it's impossible to stand there gaping indefinitely at the signs. You have to keep walking. So I keep on walking in the same direction I was going when the crossroads appeared. But I still am not sure that I'm on the right road - please don't ask me to define 'right road'. All I know is that I would know if it was the right one for me.
Here I am again at crossroad number umpteen and it's to do with my artist-life which is to say, my life per se. For me, there's no separation between being and making stuff which may be called art. It's not a job or hobby or ambition but simply a characteristic, like my height or eye-colour or fingerprint. When I say I don't know if I'm on the right road, I don't mean that I'm wondering if I should be doing something else, like plumbing, or horticulture, or brain surgery. I'm not completely bonkers, there's reality, there are limitations. The art-making thing is a gift I was born with and that's that. The crossroads puzzle is about what to do with that gift which is the same thing as saying: what to do with my life? What shape should I give it?
Anyway, ruminating in this fashion I decided to put together a kind of retrospective catalogue of my paintings in the hope that the past trajectory can point the way to whatever my future (whatever's left of it!) may be. Like the photobooks of old drawings and of bookworks I made a while back, only one copy is being printed for my own use, but there's an online link that I can share.
Is it just me, or is everybody who sometimes comments in blogs or other social media prone to angst-attacks, either before, during or after the act? If you are subject to this syndrome (which did not exist before the internet) I'd be interested to hear your variations on the theme.
Instead of expounding on my own foibles, faux pas, fears, fallacies etc. in this department I've enacted some of them in order to entertain you. This too is a form of egocentricity.
The logic of dream-life is what waking life would be like if it wasn't so illogical. Here's the dream I had last night:
I'm walking in a desert with my parents. My father is old and wears a dark overcoat and hat. My mother rides a horse. Suddenly I fall into a deep well, I look up and see my father peering down. There's no way I can climb out of the well. I'm thinking that it will take a crane or other equipment to lift me out but we're far away and this would take a long time and be very expensive. My mother goes off to get help. Then I see that I have a mobile phone and could call the Fire Dept. who will have ladders etc. to get me out. But I can't figure out how to dial their number. All of a sudden I'm out of the well and standing by a food stall just up the road. I ask the woman to show me how to dial the Fire Dept. She does so and I explain that I've fallen down a well and need to be pulled out. As I say this, I realise that I'll have to jump back into the well so that when the Firemen arrive they can rescue me. I can't let them come for nothing.
The serial coincidences that are currently haunting me continue to appear.
Yesterday afternoon, Mel Calman's name came up in a conversation (the friend I was talking with used to know him). He happens to be one of my all-time favourite cartoonists. Tonight, eyes tight shut as per the rules, what book do you think my un-directed hand pulled out? I have crowded bookshelves in three different rooms and do not know what book is on each shelf.
The Big Novel by Mel Calman.On p.21 part of the text with the cartoon was: "...you tell me to observe the stars"
YOU TELL ME TO OBSERVE THE STARS
Okay but what can they show,
apart from Star Wars,
that I don't already know?
That's just a soap
opera with predictable plot.
If I'm a Lion, as the star signs say,
why do I look like a dot
on the milkyway?
Is it stars of showbiz I should observe
or the other big biznesses with so much nerve?
I'm afraid I lack the concentration
to follow their myriad machinations.
If I had a telescope I might have been an astronomista
but right now I'm only an artista.
If you've read my in-progress on-line autobio, you'll understand why I am startled by today's encounter with this particular book and the particular sentence on the page I opened. The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck, p.206: "Too late she realized she wanted to keep the baby."
TOO LATE SHE REALIZED SHE WANTED TO KEEP THE BABY
Now this is really weird,
how could you know these things are seared
in my heart and in my hand
a lost baby, a lost land?
Could this be the fourth dimension
where such deeply buried tensions
are revealed by random choices,
unifying disparate voices?
Mind blank, eyes shut, open a book at any page
and sitting there in a word cage
some kind of message waits for me
its coded meaning to set free.
Knocked out by a flu virus over the past couple of weeks, I must have become susceptible to anything else floating about in the atmosphere. It started with this sentence that popped into my head just as I was about to fall asleep on 28th January: The man who typed Lear.
Later that day, this is what emerged:
THE MAN WHO TYPED LEAR(1)
The man who typed Lear
didn't mean Shakespeare.
He was thinking of the private jet
which he doesn't own yet.
His novel is not ready
his hand it is not steady.
Lear will be the hero's name
and in his search for fame
Lear will lose the plot.
So far, that's all he's got,
the man who typed Lear.
You heard it here.
I posted it, and the subsequent rhyming things, on my Mirror Blog and Facebook . Below I'm copying those entries in the order in which they were posted. I do not pretend to be a serious poet, this is just for fun. When I've got about twenty I'll stop. Should I call them pomes, so as not to confuse them with proper poetry? I think I might add drawings to each one later on.
January 28, 2016
I don't know what's going on, maybe the flu has tickled my unconscious, but that damned Lear sentence is nagging me again. Here's a second version:
THE MAN WHO TYPED LEAR (2)
The man who typed Lear
for his PhD
wanted to make his concept clear
desperately wanted the world to see
the play's the thing:
the thing, you know?
Typed sheets in ring
binder is the show!
The thing's the play.
Now can I go?
January 28, 2016
AN EXPERIMENT IN MILKING RANDOMNESS
Boosted and bolstered by the response to my un-premeditated Man Who Typed Lear, I've decided to try a daily experiment. You're invited to join, if so inclined. Random, provocative sentences don't often appear to me when falling asleep,
so, to trigger something similar to that state deliberately, I've devised rules of the game.
1. Close eyes tightly (no cheating) and approach bookshelves.
2. Run hands quickly over book spines and pull out one book.
3. Eyes still shut, put book down and open at random, placing finger anywhere on page. 4. Open eyes and take one sentence from the place marked by finger. 5. That is the opening sentence of your poem, which must rhyme, and must be completed the same day, preferably the same hour. 6. When finished, give the title of the book you got the sentence from.
Here's my first one. The first sentence is from Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, p.50:
FOR THAT WRONG COMMITTED MUST YOU KNOCK
the shit out of that bad old block?
Listen here mister prophet
from your wisdom I cannot profit.
I'm the chip off that old block of wrongs
and out of it I make these songs.
29 Jan. 2016
I swear I didn't open my eyes when pulling the book from its shelf or choosing page 78 with this sentence: "introducing an element of accident and chance". The book is: Francis Bacon: Taking Reality by Surprise by Christophe Domino.
INTRODUCING AN ELEMENT OF ACCIDENT AND CHANCE
Mortimer jumped on the table and began to dance.
The board of directors was not impressed
unanimously they shouted "Next!"
When Mortimer fell off the boardroom table
he laughed and said "Now I'll be able
to claim for accident insu-rance.
This is an example of accident and chance.
29 Jan. 2016
This time, the first sentence didn't arrive suddenly when semi-conscious, however I was still in bed when I made it up this morning.
THE WOMAN WHO HOWLED AT THE DOG
The woman who howled at the dog
appeared on everyone's blog.
Poor dog, blogged Gail,
put the woman in jail.
I know the dog, he's a pest.
Ha ha, replied Stu,
she stepped in his poo!
On Facebook and Twitter it trended
for only a day and then ended.
The world is going to hell
I howled to my little dog Nell
Come on Nell let's get there first
before the bubble bursts.
29 Jan. 2016
There's nothing new about such a process. Innumerable visual and literary methods have long been used to release the mind from the effort of rationality, allowing spontaneous invention to flow. Games like Exquisite Corpse or Consequences, or finding images in clouds, stains, inkblots and so on. Of course this doesn't mean that such methods magically produce masterworks, or even minor works, in any medium at all. But there's no doubt that something captivating and stimulating to the imagination happens when you give yourself permission to follow apparently nonsensical rules of a game.
In today's blind bookshelf-stroking, I pulled out Numbers: The Universal Language and p. 47 gave me these starting words: "Marking the empty place"
MARKING THE EMPTY PLACE
Oh now you're asking me to face
an ancestor I cannot trace
a secret tale I do not know
buried so deep so long ago....
Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear oh!
Don't make me go back to zero.
The empty place shelters a ghost
whose face ressembles me the most.
If she or he could speak they'd say
Please go oh please do go away
there's nothing here for you to see
only zero and infinity.
30 Jan. 2016
Making words rhyme is not only fun but also a sort of cave you fall into where innumerable connections lie in wait and all you have to do is link them up by rhyming. It's as if we have an in-built receptor for rhythm and automatically respond to beats and measures, whether in music, dance, drumming, chants, games. Here's one which popped into my head a little while ago, but not by the random bookshelf method.
The silver spoon was out of tune.
Get me the tin one, the artist said,
the one I keep under the bed
to remind me I am working class
and wasn't always such an ass.
With silver spoons I made my name
and now I'm in the hall of fame.
At stately homes and clubs I'm feted
at Glastonbury I'm awaited
I know damn well I'm over-rated
but hey, they pay.
what can I say?
Get me the tin spoon, there's a good girl,
after the show I'll give you a whirl.
31 Jan. 2016
The book was Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music, p.454. The line I landed on: "the acceptance of the thoroughbass"
THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE THOROUGHBASS
Alas poor Bass
before becoming thorough
she was a dilettante.
Nobody knew her sorrow,
the reason she was so gaunt.
She suffered from insomnia,
that's right, she couldn't sleep,
until she met the guru Omnia
who said: stop counting sheep,
count Oms instead, one at a time,
I promise you'll be fine.
That's how Bass became thorough,
now accepted in every borough.
The moral of this story,
plain to see,
1 Feb. 2016
Today's random sentence, "sewing creates swell" is from page 32 of Introducing Bookbinding by Ivor Robinson. Coincidentally, Ivor was a friend and a brilliant designer-bookbinder.
SEWING CREATES SWELL
So that's how it was done!
God with thread and needle
making kingdom come.
The mountains with their folds
the fish the fowl the lemming
the carbon and the gold
all stitch and baste and hemming.
It may be hard to see
but gee, isn't it fine
that they and you and me
are just a stitch in time?
2 Feb. 2016
Dictionary of Shakespeare Quotations (Everyman's Reference Library) p.119, from As you Like it:
O WOMEN, FOR THE LOVE YOU BEAR TO MEN
for that sudden urgent lawless yen
for Harry or Barry or Bob or Ben,
you will be charged with wanton lust
and with betraying someone's trust.
But for Barry, Bob or Bill or Harry
the rules are different, and if they marry,
the power of that sudden flame
they will deny. It's just a game,
a game men play,
a brief delusion, they will say.
O women, plead guilty if you're caught
or hide your glee if you are not.
But in your heart (so shy, so pure)
O tell me, tell me, are you sure
that flame which burned so fierce, so real,
was not put there for you to steal?
3 Feb. 2016
At 6:14 AM today I was drifting into sleep when, again, a sentence just popped up. This time it was in French: "On peut forcer un souvenir" I had to get up and write it down. Later the rest arrived. Here it is, plus my rough free translation below.
ON PEUT FORCER UN SOUVENIR
mais pas besoin de l'expliquer
passé, présent ou avenir
ne devraient pas se prolonger.
Proust a cherché le temps perdu,
tant mieux pour lui, il l'a trouvé.
Heureusement qu' il n'a pas su
que sa recherche me fait bailler.
J'éspère vivement, O mes amis,
que mes vers ne vous causent pas offense.
Pour mon ennui, O je vous prie,
accordez-moi vôtre indulgence.
******************************* YOU CAN FORCE A SOUVENIR
but there's no need for explanations.
Past or future or now and here
don't have to be investigations.
Proust did find his temps perdu,
all praise to him, it was well drawn.
But thankfully he never knew
his research only makes me yawn.
I hope sincerely, O my friends,
that my verse doesn't cause offense
and for my undoubted ignorance
I pray grant me your indulgence.
4 Feb 2016
Blindly chosen book and line today: Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, p.214: "... I talk to myself, as one who has plenty of time"
I TALK TO MYSELF, AS ONE WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME
though time is precisely what I have not.
I say to myself as I write this rhyme:
As poet I know I'm not so hot,
so why am I wasting my dwindling hours
on what is a pastime, nothing more.
Shouldn't I be using my artist powers
on something closer to the core
of what I'm on this planet for?
Are you saying what I think you're saying,
comes a reply from the other me,
that time is wasted when you're playing?
Okay, I say, I do agree
that art and play are interconnected,
but how will I ever be respected
if all I can add to my CV
is a rhyme for you and a rhyme for me?
Suddenly, would you believe,
something pops out of my sleeve.
It's Zarathustra and he's peeved,
shoves me and my other self away.
I'm the one you called today
when at my words you aimed your finger,
you're in luck 'cause I can linger.
Forget about esteem,
read what I said, page two-sixteen: "....spread out laughter like a coloured canopy"
Avoid the bland, the syrupy,
the fake, the flip, the pre-digested.
And with this my case is rested.
5 Feb. 2016
The book randomly chosen tonight: Georgia O'Keeffe by Lisa Mintz Messinger. The random line, p.132: "...blurring the distinctions between what was near and what was far."
BLURRING THE DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN WHAT WAS NEAR AND WHAT WAS FAR
The future oh so distant
when I was just a child
is now the present instant
which I'm about to file.
Maybe these distinctions
between the far and near
are only false convictions
we cling to out of fear
of being lost in space
with no sense of direction
which is, in fact, the case,
worthy of inspection.
Why not a history class
where some ancient bloody mess
is not taught as the past
but today's news, hot off the press?
Is everything déja vu?
Yes, I think so. Do yu?
6 Feb. 2016
Interestingly, I'm finding that relying on chance as a trigger for inspiration not only provides provocative themes, but also seems to find synchronicities between them. This evening I ran my blind hands across a high-up shelf and pulled out The Mind and Heart of Love by M.C. D'Arcy, opened it at p.248 and hit on this sentence: "the perspective of interests" leads the unwary astray.
THE "PERSPECTIVE OF INTERESTS" LEADS THE UNWARY ASTRAY
Is a hidden agenda what you're trying to say?
If so I agree with the above,
there's more to the mind and heart of love
than meets the eye, the ear and more private parts.
When you say you love me more than all the rest
I'll never know if in your heart
you mean I'm the one who passed your test,
a test I never knew I took.
Unwary I am, unwary I'll remain,
my own agenda's an open book.
If our perspective of interests is not the same
well, that's a shame,
but the road we're on is called "Astray"
maybe we'll meet love on the way.
26 January 2016
THE LESSON on GNARLED OAK
The Lesson is a video
I made a while ago based on my 1992 construction of the same name. Gnarled Oak is the excellent online literary journal edited by James Brush.
That those two have connected is my reason for joy today and I raise a glass of orange juice (alcohol being bad for flu) in celebration.
If it's permissible to love some of one's own work (and if it's not permissible I don't care) then I truly love The Lesson and if there was a fire I would probably grab it before jumping out of the window and trust naively that we would both not end up smashed to smithereens.
The subsequent video was fun to make and I'd like to experiment with other versions at some point. But the point is that The Lesson summarises what is essentially my outlook on life: not forgetting to be amazed.
This is not a happy-clappy wishy-washy cliché but solidly based on my own experience. I must define what I mean by amazement, in case I'm misinterpreted as somebody who lavishes the word indiscriminately on anything and everything, in the same way that the words "incredible"' and "awesome" are flung about, unstoppable showers of stale confetti littering the environment.
What I mean is the realisation, sometimes sudden, of the magnificent and scary un-graspable reality of life, the universe and everything. Yes that is a cliché, but how else to say that often, standing on the corner waiting for a bus, for example, I look at the pavement beneath my feet and realise - actually real...alise that I'm standing on a sphere spinning around in unimaginably deep dark space and, if that is not enough to be amazed about, this miniscule dot which is "me" is also, in reality, a cluster of unimaginably small whirling atoms which, unimaginably, are also conscious of being "me": this small cluster of DNA, memories, history, ancestors etc. and yes, I am aware of the theories, spiritual or materialist, about the existence or illusion of self, Self, spirit, ego, etc but please, please, right now, let me just focus on the amazement which fills me from head to toe in such moments, and in so many others, when ordinary life is perceived as absolutely extraordinary and all the explanations, whether from a scientific, spiritual, philosophical or aesthetic perspective are just not enough. They're just hay-coloured needles in a multicoloured haystack.
Rolling around in that haystack is what I mean by not forgetting to be amazed.
It's been a very slow start to the New Year and now I'm at the tail end of a nasty bout of flu that has knocked the stuffing out of me, left-over stuffing from the too-long holiday period. But what's more boring than griping about flu etc?
There hasn't been anything I wanted to blog about, hence the absence of blog posts. Now I want to get back in here before I'm totally forgotten by the cyber world. Imagine not existing AT ALL on the internet! The horror! A fate worse than real death............I'm joking!
Just to fill this blank space I've pulled out from the virtual filing cabinet something to entertain anyone who is still here. The image is new (drawn digitally with ArtRage software) but the poem is 2007.