Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Bande a Part = Godard

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I picked up Kerouac's "On the Road" this weekend past, prompted by the 40th anniversary of his death; the departure of a friend's son to the States; and a general wanderlust... Not read him since school, oh, 23 years long ago. I don't remember him being so sweet - so innocent - so wide eyed. I must have been drawn to other aspects of his writing. Or maybe it was just sheer longing.

So, wafted into the Angel pub (Holborn) on Sunday night, to write a letter to a friend in San Francisco. It was quiet in the pub, and I was vaguely aware of a young pair that wandered in after me as I started writing: I sensed an attraction between them - flirtatious, somewhat coy. Anyway, I carried on writing.

My ears pricked when I heard her say "tell me something" - "what?" - "anything!" - the little coquette - I recognised this sly tactic...

So, he said he had had cancer two years ago... oh, she says... I drift out - and drift in and hear her say her boyfriend has asked to marry her - I sigh inwardly, how tiresome. Their conversation turns a little spiky... I still haven't looked up - and I soon forget them, immersed in writing.

I get another beer, and start writing again: I hear her ask "tell me something - what? - anything!". Again. He says he had cancer two years ago - good for him - that's perhaps how I would have responded too; perhaps.... I'm listening now - feigning reverie - and ... the conversation starts repeating itself. I thought I was going mad - I looked up - they were two drama students, reciting from a script.... it threw me for some time...

I've wondered whether it is possible to abandon scripts all together, and inhabit some kind of non-narrative, or even anti-narrative dimension; that thought, or perhaps wish, may have just been ... an escape ... from myself? But then I do seem to have an episodic existence - don't underestimate the tyranny of narrative - so perhaps that plain is where I will be dwelling more and more.

Anyway; Tonight I'm in a hotel in Peterborough, an entire town without a script. I managed to give my colleagues the slip, at least until my team bonding session tomorrow. Earlier, I was pleased to be under the waterline, in a bar, in a listing barge, listening to Bark Psychosis (honest).

Anyway; Don't follow scripts.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn't pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, but it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open windows and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The metaphysicians and notable reasoners about the nice matters of identity, affirm that if memory be taken away, the self is lost. And what matter for memory? What have I to do with that part? If, whilst I am, I am but as I should be, what do I care more? and thus let me lose self every hour, and be twenty successive selfs, or new selfs, ’tis all one to me: so I lose not my opinion. If I carry that with me ’tis I; all is well.

Philosophical Regimen - Earl of Shaftesbury

"There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come amongst those who shall come after"


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Nostalgia V

"I always think", he writes (Lost Property), "that one of the purist emotions is that of the banished man pining after the land of his birth. I would have liked to have shon him straining his memory to the utmost in a continuous effort to keep alive and bright the vision of his past: the blue remembered hills and the happy highways, the hedge with its unofficial rose and the field with its rabbits, the distant spire and the near bluebell. ... "


That special feeling of elation probably endured for quite a long time, but there was something else intermingled with it, and later on predominant. Sebastian in spite of himself realized with perhaps a kind of helpless amazement (for he had expected more from England than she could do for him) that no matter how wisely and sweetly his new surroundings played up to his old dreams, he himself, or rather still the most precious part of himself, would remain as hopelessly alone as it had always been. The keynote of Sebastian's life was solitude and the kindlier fate tried to make him feel at home by counterfeiting admirably the things he thought he wanted, the more he was aware of his inability to fit into the picture — into any kind of picture.

The real life of Sebastian Knight - Vladimir Nabokov

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Bakersfield, California

Not quite Hopper... but...

Almost everyone I met in LA/SF was horrified that I had visited Bakersfield, let alone that I quite appreciated it. There's no doubt, the place has a visceral reality, and I found the people friendly and hospitable - if rather right wing... But then, just don't mention down there that you like NY and SF. Oh well.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

California deserts

California, around Bakersfield. No crop dusters though...

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Near London bridge

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

secret places

Near London bridge

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Something's got to change

Monday, 7 September 2009


Near Tower bridge

Saturday, 18 July 2009

polka dots

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Adam Curtis

Just my favourite documentary maker... makes sense out of the chaos of the 2oth century using imagery so... part of me.

He as a new blog at the BBC

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Grue/Yellow - Wisconsin 1931

"My name is Yon Yonson,
I work in Wisconsin,
I work in a lumber mill there.
The people I meet when I walk down the street,
they say, "What's your name?"
And I say,
"My name is Yon Yonson,
I work in Wisconsin..."


The English language makes a distinction between blue and green but some languages do not. Of these, quite a number, mostly in Africa, do not distinguish blue from black either, whilst there are a handful of languages that do not distinguish blue from black but have a separate term for green[1]. Also, some languages treat light (often greenish) blue and dark blue as separate colors, rather than different variations of blue, while English does not.

How to ... divide experience into meaning? Semantic (colour) fields suggest objective landscapes to explore. But... perhaps colour is only in the mind. Mixing, translating ephemeral waves from "out there" in a colourless universe, "in here" to create colour and emotion. Anchoring ourselves in the real with the subjective. Mapping...

Serendipity... Semantic fields... semantic maps... There you are - under 27: Yon Yonsin; John Johnson....

Angelica township, WI - full map

Geo. A. Ogle and Co. / Standard atlas of Shawano County, Wisconsin

Grue: a single colour term covering both green and blue. Over half the languages in the World Color Survey contain a grue color term.

Contour plot showing the distribution, over chromatic stimuli, of best examples of grue terms in the WCS. Outermost contour represents a height of 10 hits; each subsequent inner contour represents a height increment of 10 hits. (Source: Regier and Kay 2004)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

World Color Survey (WCS) stimulus array

The World Color Survey [WCS] is a research project that was undertaken to validate, invalidate or – most likely – modify the main findings of Berlin and Kay (1969) [B&K]: (1) that there exist universal cross-linguistic constraints on color naming, and (2) that basic color terminology systems tend to develop in a partially fixed order. To this end, the WCS collected color naming data from speakers of 110 unwritten languages. The data have recently been compiled into a unified data archive, available online.

The WCS stimulus array. The rows correspond to 10 levels of Munsell value (lightness), and the columns correspond to 40 equally spaced Munsell hues, from R2.5 in column 1 to RP10 in column 40. The color in each cell corresponds approximately to the maximum available Munsell chroma for that hue–value combination.

Contour plot of WCS best-example choices compared with best examples of English color terms. Berlin and Kay reported more than one best-example choice for several of the English color terms; all best-example choices are displayed here.


Monday, 11 May 2009

Nostalgia IV

Christmas Eve, 1979. His life no longer seemed to dwell in the present. Whenever he tuned on his radio and listened to the news of the world, he would find himself imagining the words to be describing things that had happened long ago. Even as he stood in the present, he felt himself to be looking at it from the future, and this present-as-past was so antiquated that even the horrors of the day, which ordinarily would have filled him with outrage, seemed remote to him, as if the voice in the radio were reading from a chronicle of some lost civilization. Later, in a time of greater clarity, he would refer to this sensation as "nostalgia for the present".

Paul Auster, The Book of Memory

Friday, 1 May 2009

Goodbye Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, etc...


Keeler Voluntary Fire Dept; Keeler.

Pontiac; Mount Shasta.

Chevy tow truck; Yreka

Chevy Impala + horse; Yreka

Happy Camp.

Dodge pickup; Happy Camp.

Derelict cars, California

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Wall - Brick Lane

Brick Lane, London

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

George Kennedy / Cool Hand Luke

Last night I saw Cool Hand Luke, for which George Kennedy won an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his character Dragnet (and HD Stanton and Dennis Hopper were in it too - fantastic). He's always been an actor I've been fond of - for his grittiness - but more so for the tongue in cheek air in films like the Airport series. He always seemed to be enjoying himself. I liked that he was never the big star, and didn't seem to mind - and yet he always improved a film. And always belonged. If he was in it, I'd watch it. And like Harry Dean Stanton, he always seems to appear in films and television when you least expected; or when you'd just plain forgot he'd been there, done that.

George Kennedy was at the BFI last night... he was interviewed on stage afterwards. He's 84 now, and uses a Zimmerframe. It was a slight surprise to see him physically frail... silly; but his persona, and physicality, of the sixties and seventies is so ingrained - 40 years on now. And he was in his forties then. I was surprised how moved I was to see him unsteadily clamber on stage; his flushed smile of thanks; and then even more so to listen to him talk about himself, his adventures. What a sweet, charming, funny man... and self deprecating: "a good character actor, no more than that". Indeed.

I didn't know he cut his teeth on Bilko, another favourite of mine. It's been an area of fascination: where did they find such a cast on that programme: those weird, "ugly", marvelous faces. Not like today's sitcoms, all buffed and shiny. He said they were mostly recruited from vaudeville; the burlesque clubs. Misfits.

He talked of not knowing his father; sleeping in doorways with his mother during the Great Depression; being lassoed by Will Rogers; being taken under the wing of Jimmy Stewart - father figure - a friend - a hero; adventures with Paul Newman, Betty Davis, Joan Crawford; the real deal behind Lucille.

His passion for film shone through - his love of detail - for the physicality of pre-CGI techniques - his appreciation of all the behind the scenes technicians; the set builders. That's where he started his film career.

Asked his advice for aspiring directors and actors: "Don't ... make ... garbage".

It was a treat. Or I'm becoming sentimental.

  • "The Phil Silvers Show" (1956-59)
  • Strait-Jacket (1964)
  • "Bonanza" (1961-1964)
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
  • Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
  • The Dirty Dozen (1967)
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967)
  • The Boston Strangler (1968)
  • Airport (1970)
  • Cahill U.S. Marshal (1973)
  • Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)
  • Earthquake (1974)
  • "Dallas" (52 episodes, 1988-1991)

Dieppe walls II

Dieppe, Haute Normandie

Monday, 20 April 2009

Dieppe walls

Dieppe, Haute Normandie

Around about Dieppe's old fishermen's quarter, le Pollet.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Dieppe 2

Dieppe, Haute Normandie

French whispers...

Dieppe, Haute Normandie

Performance art at Dieppe street market. Stories whispered in French... unknowable to me... surrounded by stories of people . Meaning without knowing. Or, meaning whatever I choose. Or nothing. Soothing - anonymous.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Shadow city

Under blackfriars

The little chandler's shop with the cracked bell behind the door, whose melancholy tinkling has been regulated by the demand for quarterns of sugar and half-ounces of coffee, is shutting up. The crowds which have been passing to and fro during the whole day, are rapidly dwindling away; and the noise of shouting and quarrelling which issues from the public-houses, is almost the only sound that breaks the melancholy stillness of the night.
Dickens: Sketches by Boz - 1875

Millenium bridge