Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Repetition IV

"I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice and I am going to play it back into the room again and again until the resonant frequencies of the room reinforce themselves so that any semblance of my speech, with perhaps the exception of rhythm, is destroyed. What you will hear, then, are the natural resonant frequencies of the room articulated by speech. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have."

"I Am Sitting in a Room", Alvin Lucier - Listen

"In order to play this motif 840 times consecutively to oneself, it will be useful to prepare oneself beforehand, and in utter silence, by grave immobilities."

Erik Satie - Vexations listen to pianoless vexations

"If the traveler reaches the station hall before me, Pierre Garin will obviously walk toward him to greet him, with all the more assurance since he does not yet know that the new Henri Robin is wearing a moustache. . . . Two hypotheses are to be entertained: either the usurper is merely someone who resembles me like a twin brother, and Pierre Garin runs the risk of betraying himself, of betraying us, before the misunderstanding is revealed; or else the traveler is actually me, that is, my veritable duplication, and, in that case . . . Come off it! Such a supposition is hardly realistic. That I, in my Breton childhood, in a country of witches, ghosts and all kinds of apparitions, had suffered from identity problems regarded as serious by certain doctors is one thing. It would be quite another to imagine myself, thirty years later, the victim of an evil spell."

Repetition - Alain Robbe-Grillet, who died recently ((obituary)

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Daniel (and Bonny)

Three years ago - a man's possessions - Daniel Kelly - disintegrating damp cardboard box. Charity shop.

There were a number of books by Marx and Engels. Books from the Soviet Union on culture, art, history and technology - all bound with communist propaganda - the march to a brave new world - governed by the workers. A committed communist. A different era.

There was also a battered address book, with loose leaves of paper. Revolutionary poems he wrote: all around 1971/2 - perhaps poetry of no literary merit - but heartfelt - touching. And disillusioned. But then a single anachronistic note about a book he ordered: Bonzai gardening -"Regret to inform you..." - out of stock. 1984. I wonder - did that upset him - was he saddened? A yearning for something living to nurture, quietly. The note then interleaved with a past self. An obsolete past.

1984: a mythical year. The UK was well into the Thatcher era, after the collapse of the "socialist" Labour government of Callaghan. Labour imploding - unemployment - boys from the black stuff. It feels like he is retreating. Although I can still remember the Socialist Workers Party was very active, socialism was dying in England.

What drove him to these beliefs - these hopes? When was he born? Did he endure the depressions of the 20's and 30's; would he have been aware of the Spanish Civil War; would he have been a soldier in the war? Enduring memories. After those imperialist/capitalst catastrophes - socialism was hope.

Then I found...

Metropolitan Police officers at the Lambeth Missing Persons Unit, South London are trying to trace any relatives, or friends of: Daniel Christopher KELLY, who lived in Kennington, South London. Little is known of his background other than he was born in 1920.

Posted on missing pesons site, 2004. I don't know if this is him... That age seems to make sense. It's the right area of London. I found the books in 2005.

A story - the story? I wish I could describe the feelings it evokes within me - sadness - melancholia.

Bonny is the only mention of another. A young girl. I try to imagine Bonny - 24 years old, early seventies England enduring the hangover of the swinging sixties. The energy he must have felt from her. Half his age. He sounds in awe of her - not daring to approach. And then 12 years pass: bonzai gardening in South Norwood - a solitary pursuit. Then, it seems, he died alone.

The working man's lot.

He gets up in the morning when daylight is rare,
he'd like some breakfast, but the cupboard is bare.
He arrives at the job just in time,
and spends eight or more hours in the muck and the grime.

All the week he wonders what he's working for,
at the end sees his wage bag and knows the score.
The boss we know gets the biggest chunk,
he says he works hard for it, what a load of bunk.

Stalinist! Hard liners! That's what they say,
but marxism-Leninism keeps these liberals at bay.
We'll fight opportunists wherever they may be,
exposing their misconceptions for all to see.
They say the "British road" is the road we should tread,
something self-respecting communists regard with dread.
They water down communism to suit their own end,
any rules that don't suit them they conveniently bend.
Their cognition of Marxism is seriously lacking,
which is why, to their slogans, they have no backing.
They don't study facts, in all their totality,
Thus their theories don't conform to objective reality.

The polarization of the inner-party struggle in the CPGB. If it did nothing else, it did compel me to express my position in this way, as there was not an abundance of channels open to this line of thought.

To Bonny

I've come to really love you, by and by,
Your feet firmly on the ground, you head not in the sky.
With that glint of social realism in your eye
if the world should ever loose you, I would cry.

This I wrote on the birthday card I sent to Bonny on her 24th birthday (11/1/72). One of the nicest people I have met.

All by Daniel K. - 1971/2.


  • Eye to eye with Michelangelo's David
  • St. George and the dragon - Trajan's columns in the background
  • Restoration under way

Victoria and Albert Museum

Minature moments II

The Three Devils of St Peter

St Peter's Church - Cornhill - City of London

"Restored Wren church from 1680 situated on, reputedly, the oldest church site in the City of London. In the nineteenth century a very observant vicar at this church noticed that plans for building a new structure next door intruded by one foot onto church territory. He raised legal objections and forced the architect to redraw the plans. In gleeful triumph he added three terracotta devils to the building facing Cornhill from the South." - Wikipedia

Gay go up and gay go down
To Ring the Bells of London Town
"Oranges and Lemons" say the Bells of St. Clements
"Bullseyes and Targets" say the Bells of St. Margaret's
"Brickbats and Tiles" say the Bells of St. Giles
"Halfpence and Farthings" say the Bells of St. Martin's
"Pancakes and Fritters" say the Bells of St. Peter's
"Two Sticks and an Apple" say the Bells of Whitechapel
"Maids in white aprons" say the Bells at St. Katherine's
"Pokers and Tongs" say the Bells of St. John's
"Kettles and Pans" say the Bells of St. Anne's
"Old Father Baldpate" say the slow Bells of Aldgate
"You owe me Ten Shillings" say the Bells of St. Helen's
"When will you Pay me?" say the Bells of Old Bailey
"When I grow Rich" say the Bells of Shoreditch
"Pray when will that be?" say the Bells of Stepney
"I do not know" say the Great Bell of Bow
Gay go up and gay go down
To Ring the Bells of London Town

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

sleeping off insomnia

Feel comfortable to be called a neurotic. You belong to that splendid, pitiable family which is the salt of the earth. Everything we think of as great has come to us from neurotics . . . We appreciate good music, fine paintings, a thousand exquisite things, without knowing what they cost those who created them in terms of insomnia, tears, fitful laughter, nettle rash, asthma, epilepsy, and worse still, a fear of dying, which you perhaps have experienced yourself, Madame.


At the age of 70 I have still glimpsed in dreams the ardour of the jasmines in the hallway and the phantom in the gloomy bedrooms, and always with the same feeling that crippled my childhood: terror of the night. Often I have a foreboding, in my worldwide attacks of insomnia, that I too carry the curse of that mythical house in a happy world where we died every night.

Gabriel García Márquez


The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she'd tell it to go to hell,
and she'd find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.

Elizabeth Bishop

And apologies to Groucho Marx...

Monday, 11 February 2008


We find ourselves bound, first without, then within, by the nature of our social catagorizaton. And escape is not effected through a bitter railing against this trap; it is as if this striving were the only motion needed to spring the trap upon us. We take our shape, it is true, within and against that cage of reality bequeathed us at our birth; and yet it is precisely though our dependence on this reality that we are endlessly betrayed. Society is held together with the legend, myth, coercion, fear, that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden. From this void - ourselves - it is the function of society to protect us; but it is only this void, our unknown selves, demanding, forever, a new act of creation, which can save us - 'from the evil that is the world'.

James Baldwin - Everybody's Protest Novel

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Restoration - Black and Orange

The Americans across the way told the guards again about the dead man on their car. The guards got a stretcher out of their own cozy car, opened the dead man's car and went inside. The dead man's car wasn't crowded at all. There were just six live colonels in there-and one dead one.

The Germans carried the corpse out. The corpse was Wild Bob.

So it goes.

During the night, some of the locomotives began to tootle to one another, and then to move. The locomotive and the last car of each train were marked with a striped banner of orange and black, indicating that the train was not fair game for airplanes that it was carrying prisoners of war.

Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut

  • North Dakota 1936
  • Banksy
  • Detainee - guard - dog - Abu Ghraib
  • Sandi Miot - Awakening

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Cassiopeia - Prussian Blue / Indigo / Ohio

Preußischblau or Berliner Blau - iron(III) ferrocyanide, ferric ferrocyanide, iron(III) hexacyanoferrate(II), and ferric hexacyanoferrate - discovered by accident by painter Heinrich Diesbach and Johann Konrad Dippel in Berlin in 1704-5

Joseph Cornell. Cassiopeia

Would the departed never nowhere nohow reappear? Ever he would wander, selfcompelled, to the extreme limit of his cometary orbit, beyond the fixed stars and variable suns and telescopic planets, astronomical waifs and strays, to the extreme boundary of space, passing from land to land, among peoples, amid events. Somewhere imperceptibly he would hear and somehow reluctantly, suncompelled, obey the summons of recall. Whence, disappearing from the constellation of the Northern Crown he would somehow reappear reborn above delta in the constellation of Cassiopeia and after incalculable eons of peregrination return an estranged avenger, a wreaker of justice on malefactors, a dark crusader, a sleeper awakened, with financial resources (by supposition) surpassing those of Rothschild or the silver king.

James Joyce. Ulysses.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the Trav'ller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often through my curtains peep,
For you never shut you eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

'Tis your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the trav'ller in the dark:
Tho' I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.