Nana, Tears and George Bush...


Hello Folks,

This is Wednesday and therefore is the day that I look after my youngest grandson Louis, who it must be said is a bit of a character - I have been attempting to tidy up the house of all the things that I should be clearing out . I had cleared the Bedroom wardrobes of all unnecessary clothes that my husband and I had long since worn , then came across a box at the bottom of the main one which held a pile of old photographs some of which I had had other copies of previously but I had been meaning to sort through a while ago.

As Louis is such a little magpie he was 'right in there' having a decco at anything he could get his hands on. One of the pictures, which I have copied above, drew his attention and he was asking who it was, he went through all the folk in the family and couldn't guess who it could be, I finally told him it was me when I was little . He just couldn't get it at all, he kept refusing to believe it, as far as he was concerned, the picture showed a wee girl, not his Nana...

Since clearing out and bagging some things for the Charity Shops, I had been reading a few articles from 'The Francis Gay Friendship Book' after lunch and came across a gem of a story which I thought I would share with you. It is typically soppy as befits my taste and of course has a bit of a soppy but nice ending.


***How the old ideas about behaviour still tend to be kept in mind - for example, boys are often expected to be brave and not to cry. Perhaps we feel embarrassed if a man cries. Why ? In the same way, we often say how brave a person is when they hold back tears at a time of great sorrow.

But crying is a form of release given to us for times of grief and great strees, and it is an emotion which can help others. I am reminded of a lovely story I once heard.

A little girl came home after playing with a friend. "Mummy," she said, "Debbie is vvery unhappy because her kitten has died. But I helped her when she cried."

"That's good," said her mother. "Did you tell her not to cry any more?"

"Oh, no," came the reply, "I cried with her." *** AWWWW That is soooo cute...

Another wee story concerning the first 'President George Bush,' he was apparently entertaining members of the press corps and their families, when he found the young daughter of a television director crying bitterly beside the swimming pool.

She told him a "tragedy" had happened; she had lost a tooth - somewhere in the pool. As a parent Bush realised there was nothing to put under the pillow for the "Tooth Fairy". At once a Presidential Card was produced.

He put a big cross on the card with a sketched map and wrote:
"Dear Tooth Fairy", Katie's tooth came out where the X is - it really did, I promise.
George Bush."
Katie had a certificate to put under her pillow, and not only was a little girl made happy but she had a lovely memory of one of her country's Presidents...



Love 'n Stuff, Kate xxx.
P.S. Gosh ! Who'd have thunk it of George Bush...

Desiderata...

...There are Big Ships and Small Ships - But the best kind of ships are Friendships...


Morning folks,

As usual while I was having my morning cup of tea I was reading my favourite blogs and came across Judy's blog (The other side of the hill), which shows passages, verses and sayings which mean a lot to folk, and she was telling of passages and wee verses that meant something to her and was asking if any of us had passages that meant something special or that spoke to us . The following one, along with 'Kate's Poem' is one of my favourites .

It was written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s and is called 'The Desiderata'....

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
I think this really says it all.
Cheers to everyone,



Love 'n stuff, Kate xxx.
P.S. The Que Sera Sera song by Doris Day was one of my favourites too... in fact I was brought up loving all her films etc. Were we by any chance separated at birth Judy?

Core of darkness

[Anya Jasbar]

To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless...Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by. Her horizon seemed to her limitless. There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome. This core of darkness could go anywhere, for no one saw it. They could not stop it, she thought, exulting. There was freedom, there was peace, there was, most welcome of all, a summoning together, a resting on a platform of stability. Not as oneself did one find rest ever, in her experience (she accomplished here something dexterous with her needles), but as a wedge of darkness. Losing personality, one lost the fret, the hurry, the stir; and there rose to her lips always some exclamation of triumph over life when things came together in this peace, this rest, this eternity ...


I had forgotten these images -- the thick leather curtain and the wedge-shaped core of darkness -- or rather I knew them but could not remember how I knew them. Re-copying my old notes has proven fruitful in many ways. I sorted out my books today -- I can only take 100 lbs worth of books, and only 50 when I first arrive. The only non-philosophy books which are making the first trip are Orlando, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Years, Magic Mountain, Villette, The Book of Disquiet, Labyrinths, and the collected poems of Emily Dickinson. That says much.

I read Stoner by John Williams this weekend -- perhaps there's a connection between that image of the core of darkness and Stoner's own deliberate pace through life -- deliberate and dark but with surprising flashes of activity and fierce determination. Some of the best descriptions of love -- a funny phrase to write.

I spent today with my parents at a rain-soaked Longwood Gardens -- lost for hours amongst the plants and trees.

I have one more week of work, one more weekend of togetherness, and then I leave.

Core of darkness

[Anya Jasbar]

To be silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glittering, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless...Beneath it is all dark, it is all spreading, it is unfathomably deep; but now and again we rise to the surface and that is what you see us by. Her horizon seemed to her limitless. There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome. This core of darkness could go anywhere, for no one saw it. They could not stop it, she thought, exulting. There was freedom, there was peace, there was, most welcome of all, a summoning together, a resting on a platform of stability. Not as oneself did one find rest ever, in her experience (she accomplished here something dexterous with her needles), but as a wedge of darkness. Losing personality, one lost the fret, the hurry, the stir; and there rose to her lips always some exclamation of triumph over life when things came together in this peace, this rest, this eternity ...


I had forgotten these images -- the thick leather curtain and the wedge-shaped core of darkness -- or rather I knew them but could not remember how I knew them. Re-copying my old notes has proven fruitful in many ways. I sorted out my books today -- I can only take 100 lbs worth of books, and only 50 when I first arrive. The only non-philosophy books which are making the first trip are Orlando, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Years, Magic Mountain, Villette, The Book of Disquiet, Labyrinths, and the collected poems of Emily Dickinson. That says much.

I read Stoner by John Williams this weekend -- perhaps there's a connection between that image of the core of darkness and Stoner's own deliberate pace through life -- deliberate and dark but with surprising flashes of activity and fierce determination. Some of the best descriptions of love -- a funny phrase to write.

I spent today with my parents at a rain-soaked Longwood Gardens -- lost for hours amongst the plants and trees.

I have one more week of work, one more weekend of togetherness, and then I leave.

Council Numpties and John Barrowman...

Two Minds but with a Single Thought - " I wonder what's for tea" ?
Hi Folks,

Gosh one of these days I will think of a better start to these messages I sit here and type - it just seems so wrong to me somehow, just to start a message without firstly saying Hi or Hello just seems a bit bad mannered or something - Yeah I know crazy woman - you see, I really am a dinasaur - should stop muckin about and get on with it!

Was reading the paper yesterday and came across an article about an 82 yrs old woman who had been ordered to stop taking photos of a deserted paddling pool - because of fears she was a PAEDOPHILE would you believe... Yeah crazy isn't it ? She and her friend a 69 yr old lady went to shoot some pictures in Southampton, Hants. A council official as she pointed her camera at the empty pool demanded she stop. She said after it was all over that she thought it was bureaucracy gone mad ! City Council bosses have apologised. What kind of world do we inhabit eh? You couldn't make it up...

I watched what I thought a really interesting programme on TV last night about John Barrowman who is an entertainer and who I think is a really funny, wholehearted , down to earth guy who happens to be gay. I must admit to being kind of unsure as to how I felt about gays as such , I have come across a few during my working life, a couple of whom have been in your face - which I found a bit unsettling, but on the whole I have come to the conclusion that all kinds of folk live in this world and we should all try to live and let live .

Anyway, back to the subject in hand - I really like him as an entertainer but he was in the programme trying to find out with the help of some medical boffins what makes someone 'gay' was it nature and nurture? We were given an insight to his background as to how he was brought up , how his parents treated him and saw how he interacted with them and also with friends - one of them being his pal from when he was 5 or so, his family had organised a surprise meeting with her and it was really lovely to see how the two of them reacted, he even showed off some childhood toys. To get to the point of this epistle - it was fantastic to be a fly on the wall and to note that he was just the same off stage as he is on... I'm not usually into 'reality programmes' but this was a very interesting experiment and anyone seeing it would realize that 'gaydom' is as the boffins showed, definitely 'nature' and they are born gay it's not a life choice. Apparently it is something to do with hormones secreted during the actual pregnancy therefore while male babies are still in the womb, it is affected by previous male pregnancies, whatever actually happens takes place half way through the woman's pregnancy.

Talking about TV I didn't get much sleep last night, I ended up watching the election shown until about 3am this morning, I know, must be off my head - as though the result was going to be affected whether or not we knew the result and heard acceptance speeches etc. At the moment I am finding my attention span dissappearing out the door... the days of me watching election specials are long gone methinks.

I think that's all my blethers for the mo, so I'll say cheers for now.



Love'n Stuff, Kate xxx.

On hope

[Jane Goodall]

Jane Goodall's talk at TED 2003

On hope

[Jane Goodall]

Jane Goodall's talk at TED 2003

Ceci n'est pas une madeleine

[Yamamoto]

I had a funny experience this week -- a remembrance of something past and forgotten -- a lacuna about forgetting. I wrote here about Proust and about an essay by A.S. Byatt on the connections between weaving and text. What I had forgotten was that I had begun Walter Benjamin's short essay 'The Image of Proust' about two weeks prior, and left it unfinished when I mistakenly returned it to the library. I somehow absorbed his ideas and even his turns of phrase without realizing it. More specifically, I forgot that I read and transcribed the following passage just two weeks before that entry:
For the important thing for the remembering author is not what he experienced, but the weaving of his memory, the Penelope work of recollection. Or should one call it, rather, a Penelope work of forgetting? Is not the involuntary recollection, Proust's memoire involontaire, much closer to forgetting than what is usually called memory? And is not this work of spontaneous recollection, in which remembrance is the woof and forgetting the warf, a counterpart to Penelope's work rather than its likeness? For here the day unravels what the night was woven. When we awake each morning, we hold in our hands, usually weakly and loosely, but a few fringes of the tapestry of lived life, as loomed for us by forgetting. However, with our purposeful activity and, even more, our purposive remembering each day unravels the web and the ornaments of forgetting. This is why Proust finally turned his days into nights, devoting all his hours to undisturbed work in his darkened room with artificial illumination, so that none of those intricate arabesques might escape him.
I forgot this -- forgot also that the next paragraph begins 'The Latin word textum means 'web.' I forgot this even after Byatt's article [which points to Kathryn Sullivan Kruger's essay in the exhibition catalog -- an essay in which she 'collects words that connect weaving with storytelling: text, texture and textile, the fabric of society, words for disintegration - fraying, frazzling, unravelling, woolgathering, loose ends'].
There was something kind of lovely about this forgetting.

Ceci n'est pas une madeleine

[Yamamoto]

I had a funny experience this week -- a remembrance of something past and forgotten -- a lacuna about forgetting. I wrote here about Proust and about an essay by A.S. Byatt on the connections between weaving and text. What I had forgotten was that I had begun Walter Benjamin's short essay 'The Image of Proust' about two weeks prior, and left it unfinished when I mistakenly returned it to the library. I somehow absorbed his ideas and even his turns of phrase without realizing it. More specifically, I forgot that I read and transcribed the following passage just two weeks before that entry:
For the important thing for the remembering author is not what he experienced, but the weaving of his memory, the Penelope work of recollection. Or should one call it, rather, a Penelope work of forgetting? Is not the involuntary recollection, Proust's memoire involontaire, much closer to forgetting than what is usually called memory? And is not this work of spontaneous recollection, in which remembrance is the woof and forgetting the warf, a counterpart to Penelope's work rather than its likeness? For here the day unravels what the night was woven. When we awake each morning, we hold in our hands, usually weakly and loosely, but a few fringes of the tapestry of lived life, as loomed for us by forgetting. However, with our purposeful activity and, even more, our purposive remembering each day unravels the web and the ornaments of forgetting. This is why Proust finally turned his days into nights, devoting all his hours to undisturbed work in his darkened room with artificial illumination, so that none of those intricate arabesques might escape him.
I forgot this -- forgot also that the next paragraph begins 'The Latin word textum means 'web.' I forgot this even after Byatt's article [which points to Kathryn Sullivan Kruger's essay in the exhibition catalog -- an essay in which she 'collects words that connect weaving with storytelling: text, texture and textile, the fabric of society, words for disintegration - fraying, frazzling, unravelling, woolgathering, loose ends'].
There was something kind of lovely about this forgetting.

Assorted

[Peter Wildanger]


I've been feeling quiet lately -- that summer spread-out feeling. Short stories have made up my diet -- I've read so many short stories that I've felt the need to write quick summaries in my reading journal. I've already mentioned all of the Stifter -- Limestone, The Forest Path, Brigitta, Abdias, Granite. Then there was 'The Story of Good Caspar and Fair Annie' by Clemens Brentano; then 'The Strange Story of Peter Schlemihl' by Adelbert von Chamisso [which recalled so much of Anodos' journey in MacDonald's Phantastes]. And just today I finished Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich von Kleist. Many stories. Add Chekhov's The Seagull, a continued swim through V. Woolf's diaries, and the first 40 pages of Fear & Trembling -- they've been my sustenance.

I keep thinking about injustice -- definitely because of Michael Kohlhaas, and 'Good Caspar,' but also because I've noticed that it's one of the strongest emotions I feel. It's almost paralyzing, my rage at injustice. Perhaps I'm reacting to irrationality -- if injustice means an act against justice -- reason -- rationality. But that can't always be true -- so I wonder where this authentically visceral response comes from -- so sad that I actually have to ask -- is this true outrage? So sad that I can take my ignorance of injustice and outrage in my hands and examine it -- watch it, and then write little notes about it. I haven't had to learn those lessons, so I suppose I'm allowed the freedom to speculate about them.
But the strangest thing about it is how blind my emotion is, how irrational. I would like to be able to say that my sense of injustice was rationally-based -- that it knew arguments and reason -- but I don't think that outrage can be rational -- not even watered-down outrage. I had an argument last week -- about small injustices, the sort of things that one generally lets slip. I had mentioned something that bothered me -- a small injustice that has occurred frequently enough in recent weeks to become an irritant. And as the argument progressed I started to watch my own emotionality, my own irrationality as the small injustices that I generally ignore became more and more important.

Somewhere in the discussion we stopped talking about how irritating it is to be whistled at from a moving vehicle and began talking about sexual objectification, double standards, and the appropriate amount of outrage in various situations. My irrationality grew in proportion to my sense of injustice -- not that some men will always whistle at women from moving vehicles, but that the people I was speaking with -- respected and loved -- didn't agree with me. I was shaken up by this discussion, and woke up the next day with a massive network of knots in my neck and back. They're still bothering me.

This little experience made me very aware of the second-hand outrage I felt in reading Michael Kohlhaas -- outrage at the small injustice which multiplied into a tangle of fault and non-responsibility. An illegal demand for a pass, an illegal toll, and a pair of horses kept as collateral. The horses are found starved and overworked; the groom left behind to care for them a victim of beating and false accusations. How swiftly this spins out of control. How swiftly do the lines of fault and responsibility become blurred. It becomes even more clear how justice depends on the people administering it. And throughout the entire story can be felt the breath of the mystical. Prophecy -- righteous vengeance -- the influence of chance.

Chance has been on my mind lately too -- I'm not much of a movie-goer, but I did see The Dark Knight on Sunday. Chance and chaos vs. design and order. There's an interesting element of despair too -- a slight discussion of how disappointing hope can be -- how unclear the division between good and evil really is. Much of the plot is fueled by these dualisms -- by the breakdown of these dualisms -- much of the plot rests on the lack of clarity once the poles have been discarded -- or rather collapsed into one another [Two-Face being the obvious representative of this]. At the end there is little hope left -- at least not in its characteristic guise of the White Knight battling evil for the sake of good, and for the hand of his lady. There's a new set of standards, a new set of goals, or rather a doing-away of all standards and goals.

I'm not good at talking about films -- but I'll speak of just one more -- Wall-E moved me for a completely different reason. I fell in love with that robot from the very first preview I saw and watching the movie was such a beautiful experience. I laughed, wept, felt fear and hope and excitement. I didn't even realize how little dialogue there was until I started speaking with others about it. I was mesmerized the entire time -- mesmerized with that desire to reach out and join in their world. The sort of strange impulse that makes one reach out for a painting. And the message was so clear -- even a bit thin -- a message of hope -- of how hope will endure and good will overcome. It was a darker version of Bill Peet's Wump World -- a world destroyed by its own inhabitants. But there is a strange sense of futility at the end -- because, really, will they make it?

Assorted

[Peter Wildanger]


I've been feeling quiet lately -- that summer spread-out feeling. Short stories have made up my diet -- I've read so many short stories that I've felt the need to write quick summaries in my reading journal. I've already mentioned all of the Stifter -- Limestone, The Forest Path, Brigitta, Abdias, Granite. Then there was 'The Story of Good Caspar and Fair Annie' by Clemens Brentano; then 'The Strange Story of Peter Schlemihl' by Adelbert von Chamisso [which recalled so much of Anodos' journey in MacDonald's Phantastes]. And just today I finished Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich von Kleist. Many stories. Add Chekhov's The Seagull, a continued swim through V. Woolf's diaries, and the first 40 pages of Fear & Trembling -- they've been my sustenance.

I keep thinking about injustice -- definitely because of Michael Kohlhaas, and 'Good Caspar,' but also because I've noticed that it's one of the strongest emotions I feel. It's almost paralyzing, my rage at injustice. Perhaps I'm reacting to irrationality -- if injustice means an act against justice -- reason -- rationality. But that can't always be true -- so I wonder where this authentically visceral response comes from -- so sad that I actually have to ask -- is this true outrage? So sad that I can take my ignorance of injustice and outrage in my hands and examine it -- watch it, and then write little notes about it. I haven't had to learn those lessons, so I suppose I'm allowed the freedom to speculate about them.
But the strangest thing about it is how blind my emotion is, how irrational. I would like to be able to say that my sense of injustice was rationally-based -- that it knew arguments and reason -- but I don't think that outrage can be rational -- not even watered-down outrage. I had an argument last week -- about small injustices, the sort of things that one generally lets slip. I had mentioned something that bothered me -- a small injustice that has occurred frequently enough in recent weeks to become an irritant. And as the argument progressed I started to watch my own emotionality, my own irrationality as the small injustices that I generally ignore became more and more important.

Somewhere in the discussion we stopped talking about how irritating it is to be whistled at from a moving vehicle and began talking about sexual objectification, double standards, and the appropriate amount of outrage in various situations. My irrationality grew in proportion to my sense of injustice -- not that some men will always whistle at women from moving vehicles, but that the people I was speaking with -- respected and loved -- didn't agree with me. I was shaken up by this discussion, and woke up the next day with a massive network of knots in my neck and back. They're still bothering me.

This little experience made me very aware of the second-hand outrage I felt in reading Michael Kohlhaas -- outrage at the small injustice which multiplied into a tangle of fault and non-responsibility. An illegal demand for a pass, an illegal toll, and a pair of horses kept as collateral. The horses are found starved and overworked; the groom left behind to care for them a victim of beating and false accusations. How swiftly this spins out of control. How swiftly do the lines of fault and responsibility become blurred. It becomes even more clear how justice depends on the people administering it. And throughout the entire story can be felt the breath of the mystical. Prophecy -- righteous vengeance -- the influence of chance.

Chance has been on my mind lately too -- I'm not much of a movie-goer, but I did see The Dark Knight on Sunday. Chance and chaos vs. design and order. There's an interesting element of despair too -- a slight discussion of how disappointing hope can be -- how unclear the division between good and evil really is. Much of the plot is fueled by these dualisms -- by the breakdown of these dualisms -- much of the plot rests on the lack of clarity once the poles have been discarded -- or rather collapsed into one another [Two-Face being the obvious representative of this]. At the end there is little hope left -- at least not in its characteristic guise of the White Knight battling evil for the sake of good, and for the hand of his lady. There's a new set of standards, a new set of goals, or rather a doing-away of all standards and goals.

I'm not good at talking about films -- but I'll speak of just one more -- Wall-E moved me for a completely different reason. I fell in love with that robot from the very first preview I saw and watching the movie was such a beautiful experience. I laughed, wept, felt fear and hope and excitement. I didn't even realize how little dialogue there was until I started speaking with others about it. I was mesmerized the entire time -- mesmerized with that desire to reach out and join in their world. The sort of strange impulse that makes one reach out for a painting. And the message was so clear -- even a bit thin -- a message of hope -- of how hope will endure and good will overcome. It was a darker version of Bill Peet's Wump World -- a world destroyed by its own inhabitants. But there is a strange sense of futility at the end -- because, really, will they make it?

A Gift and Barbecue


Quite a true comment about getting older - My much loved wrinkly Nana and me.
Hi Again Folks,

As it sit here tapping at my PC I can also look out at the beautiful day it is here in the land of the tartan, heather and wild haggis. It really is a gorgeous day out there so when Rob and I have had our breakfast /lunch we will probably go out to one of the sea-side places on the coast - maybe even have a paddle - now that would be a sight to behold, two ancient folk paddling in the freezing Scottish waters - erm.... that would be a step too far methinks.

It's a pity it wasn't as lovely a day on Saturday for the barbie, Oh don't get me wrong, the weather wasn't too bad, we just had to huddle under the marquee a couple of times when it rained. Apart from that it was a successful family visit to the wilds of Locherbie, ( unfortunately the scene of the Pan Am aircraft crash in 1988 ). My sister and her family moved to Dumfries a number of years ago and her son and girlfriend have now set up home in Locherbie which is a lovely area of the world. It is lovely to see the ever extending family getting on and probably extending it even further hehe.. (not yet though) . The only hair in the ointment on Saturday was when I was enjoying the company and food my other Glasgow sister had the nerve to say - blimey you don't half have lots more lines in your face - argghhh ! and I've been using that latest serum, everybody is raving about, well the advertisers are anyway humppphh... flippen nora, I know I'm five years older than her - but she doesn't need to rub it in, does she ? I take after my Nan who had a really wrinkly face, she was asked a few times about whether or not she could try and iron the wrinkles out (by a certain grand-daughter- erm...) what the hay though - I've earned every wrinkly hehe..

I am posting the above billet-doux as it was sent to me in an email recently and it seemed to speak volumes about - what else 'age ' and let's face it folks, we all are doing that! Mind you, it's not as bad as the alternative is it ?


Cheers for now - Love, Kate xxx.


On the effort of writing

From Chekhov's The Seagull

[Trigorin]: ... I'm obsessed with the idea of writing. I've no choice ... As soon as I finish one story, I feel a compulsion to write another, and a third, and a fourth ... I can't stop, I'm driven. There's nothing I can do about it. Tell me, what's so beautiful, what's so wonderful about that? Mad is more like it. Here I am with you and all excited, but not for an instant can I forget I have an unfinished story waiting for me. I look up and see that cloud in the shape of a grand piano, and I say to myself, "I'll have to use that somewhere in a story: 'A grand piano of a cloud drifted by.' " I notice the scent of heliotrope in the air and make a mental note: "Cloying fragrance, widowlike; use for describing a summer evening." I can't let a sentence, a word go by -- yours or my own -- without locking it up in my literary larder: it may just come in handy. [...] I'm devouring my own life, and for the honey I pass on to an anonymous public I'm robbing my best flowers of their pollen. No, worse: I'm pulling them up and trampling on their roots. I must be out of my mind."

On the effort of writing

From Chekhov's The Seagull

[Trigorin]: ... I'm obsessed with the idea of writing. I've no choice ... As soon as I finish one story, I feel a compulsion to write another, and a third, and a fourth ... I can't stop, I'm driven. There's nothing I can do about it. Tell me, what's so beautiful, what's so wonderful about that? Mad is more like it. Here I am with you and all excited, but not for an instant can I forget I have an unfinished story waiting for me. I look up and see that cloud in the shape of a grand piano, and I say to myself, "I'll have to use that somewhere in a story: 'A grand piano of a cloud drifted by.' " I notice the scent of heliotrope in the air and make a mental note: "Cloying fragrance, widowlike; use for describing a summer evening." I can't let a sentence, a word go by -- yours or my own -- without locking it up in my literary larder: it may just come in handy. [...] I'm devouring my own life, and for the honey I pass on to an anonymous public I'm robbing my best flowers of their pollen. No, worse: I'm pulling them up and trampling on their roots. I must be out of my mind."

Swaddling Clothes Invented...


Hi there,

Yeah, it's true it was in the newspaper, someone has 'invented' swaddling clothes hehe, the fact that they were referred to in the Bible is immaterial apparently, crazy ? Well I certainly think so.... A Mrs Nilsson from 'who knows where' has invented a 'swaddling wrap' Wow! I wonder what my Mum Nan and her Grandmother would have said to that one.

They are made of Merino wool and cost - wait for it - £25 and being a bit of a business-woman Mrs. Nilsson has sent two to Angelina Jolie would you believe (free of course). Invented ? who the blazes was she kidding? the only thing she has invented is making them of merino wool and changing 25 quid each. Mind you, atm I can't remember where the merino sheep or is it a goat (oops no that's Angora ) or whatever, come from - but you can bet your boots that the women living there who get the wool from whatever animal it comes from will certainly use it to make - guess what ? yeah shawls (or swaddling wraps) for their babies.

Swaddling wraps/shawls have been used to swaddle or even wrap everyone's babies since they had babies and they wanted the babies to feel secure and comfortable and 'go to sleep'. All babies feel (as long as they have been fed and changed) secure in some kind of wrapup. I know shawls have sort of gone out of fashion but there are plenty of other types of very soft blankets that can be used for the same purpose, you know what I mean, the cotton ones. Blimey it's as standard as having a dummy teat in the background (just in case)...
You know what really got me going was that in the paper they showed how to fold it and how to lay the baby on it before you wrapped them up in it - Honest to God !

It doesn't matter a toss whether or not they cost little or much Mrs Nilsson, so provided girls who are having babies have parents and grandparents or even outlaws or friends to give them a bit of good advice about getting babies to sleep (and what new Mum doesn't ) I doubt if she will become a millionairess soon. Good try though ! I wonder why her Mum didn't tell her though ?

Well, that's my rant over for the day folks, I am off to Dumfries for a barbie at my Nephew's house tomorrow and looking expectantly at the weather forecast, here's hoping the sun will shine, if it doesn't then we can all hide in the Marquee or inside their house.



Hope you all have a good weekend, Cheers Kate xxx.

P.S. The photo is of the latest family addition - Harris, isn't he gorgeous, awwww... He's a big braw Scottish boy Birth Weight was 9 lbs. 2 ozs. Oooooerr....
P.P.S. I Googled it - Apparently Merino are sheep originally reared in Spain, so there ya go , I learn something new every day hehehe... isn't the internet wonderful. Bye K.

On response

[Monica Canilao]



Via 3Quarks today, I found this link to a column by Morgan Meis on criticism and art.

He begins:

Criticism isn’t powerful anymore. It doesn’t drive anything, it doesn’t define what is good and bad in culture. Surely this has mostly to do with all the changes in the media landscape over the last few decades. Basically, culture has been democratized. It has been flattened out and multiplied. There are no longer real distinctions between high and low. There’s just more.

It's a great piece, centering on the issue of distance between the work of art and the critic. I think it's important to also think about reconfiguring the concept of the artwork -- as well as the place and role of the critic. What I mean is that it would help enormously to think of the artwork as something open -- not closed off, not static, not impenetrable. I've spoken of this before [1 + 2 + 3 + 4]-- the Pierre Menard theory of art. To think of the activity of the critic as a response -- to think of those who respond as critics (though the term no longer seems quite right). The barriers become much more fluid -- though not necessarily abolished or muddied. It's about transitioning away from traditional concepts of creativity and novelty -- no more masterpieces, no more genius. From Valéry :

The need to complete, to respond by producing either the symmetrical or the similar, the need to fill an empty time or space, to satisfy an expectation, or to hide the ungainly present beneath gratifying images -- are they not all manifestations of a power which, increased by the transformations effected by the intellect with its multitude of methods and techniques borrowed from our experience of practical action, has thus become capable of those great works by a few individuals who from time to time achieve the highest degree of necessity that human nature, as though in response to the variety and indeterminateness of all the possibilities within us, can obtain from its ability to make use of the arbitrary?


Meis' very important point is that we can no longer act as traditional critics -- the effect of proliferation -- there's too much of everything. I thought of the claims made by Edmund Wilson -- claims I've written of before -- complaining that critics then were only talking about what was to like about a book or a work of art and not connecting the work of art outward to some social commentary -- complaining that critics were too close to their works.

I was also reminded of what this web-world is about -- a particular closeness -- the choice to remain inward and look deep and to perhaps trace out one or two lines -- to help with reading and with responding. What is beautiful is that as these particular affinities pile up, the ones that shine with a truer and clearer understanding -- with a greater effort and a well-informed understanding, those become treasures not just to the blog-readers who share in an affinity, but also to those people who may not have ever responded to a particular work of art. They open up communication (how long have we been saying that) -- but it's not necessarily the communication of web-person to web-person, it's the communication of reader to story, the realized possibility of a response that otherwise may have never been.
We must always be on the watch for too much haste, too little thought, too overbearing of an agenda -- but between the large well-trod flagstones that make up this web-world of readers and responders there have accumulated lovely intricate villages -- like the mosses and gravel and little ant-hills that line the patio -- woven together from disparate elements but still introducing, inspiring and responding.

On response

[Monica Canilao]



Via 3Quarks today, I found this link to a column by Morgan Meis on criticism and art.

He begins:

Criticism isn’t powerful anymore. It doesn’t drive anything, it doesn’t define what is good and bad in culture. Surely this has mostly to do with all the changes in the media landscape over the last few decades. Basically, culture has been democratized. It has been flattened out and multiplied. There are no longer real distinctions between high and low. There’s just more.

It's a great piece, centering on the issue of distance between the work of art and the critic. I think it's important to also think about reconfiguring the concept of the artwork -- as well as the place and role of the critic. What I mean is that it would help enormously to think of the artwork as something open -- not closed off, not static, not impenetrable. I've spoken of this before [1 + 2 + 3 + 4]-- the Pierre Menard theory of art. To think of the activity of the critic as a response -- to think of those who respond as critics (though the term no longer seems quite right). The barriers become much more fluid -- though not necessarily abolished or muddied. It's about transitioning away from traditional concepts of creativity and novelty -- no more masterpieces, no more genius. From Valéry :

The need to complete, to respond by producing either the symmetrical or the similar, the need to fill an empty time or space, to satisfy an expectation, or to hide the ungainly present beneath gratifying images -- are they not all manifestations of a power which, increased by the transformations effected by the intellect with its multitude of methods and techniques borrowed from our experience of practical action, has thus become capable of those great works by a few individuals who from time to time achieve the highest degree of necessity that human nature, as though in response to the variety and indeterminateness of all the possibilities within us, can obtain from its ability to make use of the arbitrary?


Meis' very important point is that we can no longer act as traditional critics -- the effect of proliferation -- there's too much of everything. I thought of the claims made by Edmund Wilson -- claims I've written of before -- complaining that critics then were only talking about what was to like about a book or a work of art and not connecting the work of art outward to some social commentary -- complaining that critics were too close to their works.

I was also reminded of what this web-world is about -- a particular closeness -- the choice to remain inward and look deep and to perhaps trace out one or two lines -- to help with reading and with responding. What is beautiful is that as these particular affinities pile up, the ones that shine with a truer and clearer understanding -- with a greater effort and a well-informed understanding, those become treasures not just to the blog-readers who share in an affinity, but also to those people who may not have ever responded to a particular work of art. They open up communication (how long have we been saying that) -- but it's not necessarily the communication of web-person to web-person, it's the communication of reader to story, the realized possibility of a response that otherwise may have never been.
We must always be on the watch for too much haste, too little thought, too overbearing of an agenda -- but between the large well-trod flagstones that make up this web-world of readers and responders there have accumulated lovely intricate villages -- like the mosses and gravel and little ant-hills that line the patio -- woven together from disparate elements but still introducing, inspiring and responding.

Long tailed animals...






















Hi again folks,

Due to the fact that I was told about the problems a friend was having with little long tailed animals in her house I am retelling the tale I told many months ago about how we got rid of our field mice problem which we had had for every year for 5 years. Without the need of poison, traps or any other inhumane and painful practices..
Reasons being -

1) It might interest other folk who are having the same problems.

2) It gives me an excuse to revel in the memory as it always makes
me laugh even to recall the experience.

3) There was a follow-up to the story in that I did write to Buck House
retelling the way we had 'got rid' because the papers at that time were
telling the public how Buck House was 'hoaching' (Scottish word for
jumping with the wee long tailed animals. I did make out in my blog post
that I was joking about having contacted Her Maj but the honest truth was
that I ' had' written to Her Maj - I just didn't want to appear to be a nutter
or for that matter, cast any aspersions on Her Maj ... The thing is that I did get
a reply from Her Maj's Lady in Waiting - saying the reports in the newspapers
had been exaggerated - however due to all the moves we have made since
then the letter has disappeared, either that or it is at the bottom of a box in
the attic.

Once again, I would re-iterate that the facts (as related ) are completely true - no further evidence of mice rats or any vermine were seen or heard since the remedy was used. I am well aware that anyone reading this epistle will no doubt think - aye, right do do do do (Jaws theme)... or Fairies at the bottom of the garden time.... but I would advise anyone to have a go, and to be honest, if you had a mouse or rat problem - you probably would not hesitate or even think twice, like my Mum you would just 'do it'!


Cheers Kate xxx.

Amazing Photographs and Blogging...




















Hi folks,

Why do I blog ? that question was asked recently, now there's a thing, a lot of the time I sit here typing away and not a lot of folk actually check out what I am writing about, either that or if they do they don't often comment about it. The probably just dook in have a decco and dook out again , but to be honest I don't really blog for effect it's more for therapeutic reasons I think.

I just write down all the rubbish that enters my head and yeah I do know that most of it is rubbish... I have sort of run out of childhood experiences to talk about, well any which I think of as funny and that folk would enjoy hearing about. So unless some one or thing jogs my memory my mind is a closed book . My Lord, imagine that - me not having anything to talk about .

Today I feel kinda lost , you see this is Wednesday and normally I look after Louis ( our grandchild number eight and the youngest one ) on a Wednesday - not seeing him last week and again today really feels weird.... I really miss his wee cheeky face and his childish banter, he is an unconcious comedian and is surely bound for show business. It's weird how up until he was nearly three years old he didn't speak and we were worried about him not talking, although I had said to his Mum that he would probably be like his Dad and make up for it when he did start to talk. Sure as God made apples, he has never stopped yakking since then and in order to have a conversation with either his Mum or Dad you have just to jump right in there to take advantage of a second of silence from Lou..... it doesn't happen very often ! there are no secrets either - talk about a tell-tale tit arrggghhh ... He and his parents are due back from their holiday today, so I expect we will be assaulted by his little impish frame in due course.

I have just been watching Richard and Judy on TV where one of their guests today was Tracey Emin you know the artist who 20 years ago stumped folk with her art exhibit ' The unmade bed' I think it was called. Her latest art show combines a lot of other examples of her work, it is being held in Edinburgh at the Festival and I must admit that I would quite like to go and have a looksee. One of her latest art exhibits is on show throughout a seaside place in England and while she spoke about it I must admit I was quite taken with her, years ago she came across as being a right cheeky, boisterous, bolshie, loud and brash character. The examples of her seaside art is where she has bonded or plated childrens items of clothing and small toys in brass, they looked amazing and apparently they had a lot of bother actually working with and physically plating the items.... It really looks amazing and has a bit of a melancholy feel, you would think that these items would get stolen but according to Emin herself, people seem to have kind of adopted her show and no-one has even moved them.

For me, being into Art etc it was really interesting to see how much she had changed since she had started and I look forward to checking out her exhibition.


Cheers for now, Kate xxx.


P.S. the Aurora Pictures showing Teepees were taken when the temperature was minus 37 deg.

Be Thankful...



Hi Folks,


I have just read a post by one of my favourite bloggers and one of the simple straightforward lessons of life was there in words which were clear and concise . Unfortunately due to the fact that I am a bit of a 'dumpling', it took me a bit longer than others to learn we should be happy with what we have. That we don't need all the stuff and extras to make us happy - the most important things that anyone needs are someone to share the patter and laughter with , who cares for you and you for them , your health, somewhere to live and enough to eat.

At the moment I am looking out of the window at a lovely blue sky, the trees are waving in the breeze , my other (better) half is still asleep, I have a full fridge and we will probably pack a picnic in the boot of our old (14 years old but still road-worthy) Escort and head off to Helensburgh for a few hours where we will read, talk or be quiet and enjoy each other's company and where we can look out over the scenery - Heaven!

As for the 'stuff and extras' they are unimportant by comparison ..... There is a modern saying that goes " been there, done that and bought the T-shirt " and that is a very good explanation which covers a lot of past experiences and life education - I have been, done and bought! (and they're all in the rubbish bin of the past).



Cheers to All, Kate xxx.

P.S. I am also in the lucky position of having family who are blessed with all they need and hopefully they will continue to be .

Not there


Just a quick note -- on almost-mysteries -- I just finished 'The Forest Path' by Adalbert Stifter -- and had read 'Limestone' not too long ago. They almost escaped notice -- the almost-mysteries -- they're easy to miss because of the clear, simple images, so well-constructed and so innocuous. But in 'Limestone' there was first the question of why the pastor would stand hip-deep in the flooded field while the children crossed to school. And then wondering off-hand who was walking around on the second floor of his house.

In 'The Forest Path' there was only one almost-mystery I found. Probably because the story was so familiar to me in so many components -- the foreign, dangerous forest, the non-adventurous character -- the rock wall which was so clear and easy to follow becomes suddenly lost -- immediately my mind wondered what sort of strange twisting had happened -- what supernatural forces realigned the paths so that the man would have to continue on through the forest.

Of course there are no forces of any sort -- only unpracticed eyes overlooking a bend in the path. But I still felt a resonance -- a vague touch of the mystery I found in Gothic literature -- Zofloya, The Mysteries of Udolpho, even my beloved Villette. Only here the mystery was never pointed at -- it was just slowly unravelled -- as in 'Limestone.' No mysteries, it's all simple and tidy -- but there could have been -- maybe there was -- but no, it was all clear, all simple.

Not there


Just a quick note -- on almost-mysteries -- I just finished 'The Forest Path' by Adalbert Stifter -- and had read 'Limestone' not too long ago. They almost escaped notice -- the almost-mysteries -- they're easy to miss because of the clear, simple images, so well-constructed and so innocuous. But in 'Limestone' there was first the question of why the pastor would stand hip-deep in the flooded field while the children crossed to school. And then wondering off-hand who was walking around on the second floor of his house.

In 'The Forest Path' there was only one almost-mystery I found. Probably because the story was so familiar to me in so many components -- the foreign, dangerous forest, the non-adventurous character -- the rock wall which was so clear and easy to follow becomes suddenly lost -- immediately my mind wondered what sort of strange twisting had happened -- what supernatural forces realigned the paths so that the man would have to continue on through the forest.

Of course there are no forces of any sort -- only unpracticed eyes overlooking a bend in the path. But I still felt a resonance -- a vague touch of the mystery I found in Gothic literature -- Zofloya, The Mysteries of Udolpho, even my beloved Villette. Only here the mystery was never pointed at -- it was just slowly unravelled -- as in 'Limestone.' No mysteries, it's all simple and tidy -- but there could have been -- maybe there was -- but no, it was all clear, all simple.

Another attempt

[Serafini via Giornale Nuovo]

I keep coming up against the same damn ideas. I want new ones! I want new thoughts, new words through my mind. I meant to talk of authenticity and reality -- to talk of the life of action versus the life of words. I meant to talk about the stream of half-thoughts I'm beset by these days. But I can't write now. I can't write when I'm spending more time with others.

In the midst of the action, the life of action, everything else pales. Profundity seems an optical illusion. Argument seems to be rhetoric, cheap pasteboard. Reading is a distraction from observation. How much have I missed by having my eyes on a page, my head turned to the flat surface of a book? But. But every denigration can be turned on its head. I wouldn't be asking these questions without the reading, the thinking, the writing that I've done. At least I don't think I would have.

But really? When we were studying Augustine's Confessions, we would often hold Augustine's mother, Monica, as the foil to Augustine. She is the symbol of simple faith. She does not question, she does not seek out great masters of rhetoric or faith to try and pose questions to them. She does not worry about the problems that obsess Augustine. But her simplicity, however attractive it may be, is denigrated. Augustine himself says that it is the lost sheep that God most wishes to save -- the non-believer, the rebel. Simplicity is taken for granted, and then forgotten. The life of action is only remembered through the inspired biographer if there is one -- and his written product.

I was finishing Axel's Castle today (I know, close to three months since I started it) -- I came to the story of Rimbaud. I have only ever known the Illuminations and the letters they excerpt -- I've only known his writing -- I knew nothing of his life and his history. Wilson seems to think he was the ultimate -- the man of letters who turned from the old ways, who invented new ways, brilliantly, violently, and then abandoned literature -- threw it to the ground and trampled it -- the man of letters become the man of action. He left the world of intellect and imagination -- the world represented by Valery's M. Teste, Huysman's des Esseintes, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's Axel. No more mysticism, no more dreams, visions -- no more obfuscation. Down that path lie dragons -- the dragons of disillusionment, renunciation, resignation. No joy to be found on this cold, barren earth. No hope to be found in society.

Wilson colors Rimbaud a reluctant leader. He turns from the writing that gives rise to a generation of writers. He turns from the West and tries, again and again, with many failures (comical in his frustration), to go East. He learns languages and finally ends up in Harrar:

where he traffics in sugar, rice, silk, cotton-goods and arms, sending out his own caravans, intriguing with the local kings, entertaining European travellers with enchanting and cynical conversation and maintaining a harem of native women carefully selected as coming from different parts of the country so that they may teach him their different languages.

Rimbaud rejects -- he doesn't resign -- and through his rejection, he seeks "a life of pure action and a more primitive civilization."

And if actions can be compared with literary writings, Rimbaud's life seems to be more satisfactory than the works of his Symbolist contemporaries, than those even of most of his Symbolist successors, who stayed at home and stuck to literature. Rimbaud was far from finding in the East that ideal barbarous state he was seeking; even at Harrar during the days of his prosperity he was always steaming with anxieties and angers -- but his career, with its violence, its moral interest and its tragic completeness, leaves us feeling that we have watched the human spirit, strained to its most resolute sincerity and in possession of its highest faculties, breaking itself in the effort to escape, first from humiliating compromise, and then from chaos equally humiliating. And when we turn back to consider even the masterpieces of that literature which Rimbaud had helped to found and which he had repudiated, we are oppressed by a sullenness, a lethargy, a sense of energies ingrown and sometimes festering. Even the poetry of the noble Yeats, still repining through middle age over the emotional miscarriages of youth, is dully weighted, for all its purity and candour, by a leaden acquiescence in defeat."


I feel a vague rhetoric underlying this assessment -- the same sort as I found when studying the monographs and histories of Gauguin -- it's too facile to laud this sort of life. The life that searches for originality -- primitive and primal -- native. The search for humanity in its rawest state. Perhaps I can't help but see this incorrectly, as wrongheaded appropriation -- the worst sort of insidious colonialism. Wilson does qualify these statements and ideals for what they are, but nevertheless, they were pervasive. The 'life of action' - also a problematic phrase. Why is action and life equated with destruction and self-annihilation? Why is it equated with rejection, violence, even a masculine sort of triumph. Why not laud the lives of those who have balanced things? Those who have stood, feet planted squarely in two kingdoms? It seems there is an immediate assumption that to live in grayscale is somehow less than the life in black & white. Wilson creates an opposition throughout this -- he places the mystics -- Yeats' 'A Vision,' Valery's M. Teste, Proust's invalid, Joyce's sleeping man -- he places these mystics, these minds in opposition to action, rigor, boldness. Axel, the character in Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's story, opposed with Rimbaud -- rejection vs. renunciation.

That's the problem though, the same problem I have with the first sentence of the long passage I quoted above -- "if actions can be compared with literary writings" Can they be? To what end and with what success? With what intention? Why separate them at all? They seem to be such separations -- the sorts of separations you can only make from the outside. What does it mean to have been an author. What did Eliot think of Prufrock after he had written The Four Quartets? What did Virginia Woolf think of The Voyage Out after writing The Waves (if she thought of it at all).

That's the problem of thinking of things as static -- a problem I found with Wilson, surprising for someone so clearly enamored of Bergsonian and Whiteheadian metaphysics. He made it clear that it was important to attempt what Proust attempted -- to see one subject from very view -- to see it through its effects and influences and in observing, to understand. That was a very good section -- and a very interesting application of Whiteheadian process to literature. Examine the connections, elucidate the influences, see the process behind the snapshot. But in the end, works of literature are seen as almost-theres -- as not-quite-life. He expects literature to discover its own 'theory of everything,' wondering whether he and his readers weren't watching the beginning of a new world order in literature and the arts. He wants to distill some pure stream of simplicity from the complexity and chaos which resulted after the 'false dualisms' of classic arts had crumbled.

There are so many problems with trying to think about art, creation, writing. One doesn't just think about these things -- one writes about the problems of writing, one writes about the problems of having written. I cannot understand how to articulate the problem of the multitude in a single person: I think of an individual, an artist, more specifically, a writer. I think of her with her family -- then washing her hair -- then at the office, updating some document -- then in bed with a lover -- then sharing a glass of wine in a crowded bar -- finally, working on a story. If you were that person, which part would you say mattered most? Which part would be easiest to describe?

I can't describe my mind in repose. The thoughts flash too quick for transcription. The best ones are always lost. Sometimes I'm successful -- a string of six little fishes pulled from the roiling lake. If I write though, that remains. It persists for some time at least -- it becomes something of its own. And my writing is little writing, it's sampler writing -- meant for a small clutch of eyes. What about the big writing? What if it's read recklessly, appropriated, interpreted, translated, adored, displayed, misunderstood? We want to make things simple -- that's what analysis is about. It's why we compare, it's why we question. We want to simplify and in so doing, to understand. Sometimes we go further -- we want to understand in order to respond. That's fine, but it's a false attempt.

There is nothing simple about reading. Nothing simple about writing. Nothing simple about art. Sometimes I wonder if anything is simple -- a statistical anomaly -- I read that somewhere -- simplicity is a statistical anomaly. But see, here I'm writing about simplicity -- that makes it automatically complicated. But there are moments -- perhaps falsely constructed by a brain that craves simplicity, perhaps not -- there are moments when everything flattens out, reduces to a single point. Yesterday I fell asleep in the grass -- I fell asleep with my hand on our cat and when she miaowed I was startled awake. For a moment, lying eye-level to a clover flower, things felt simple. This doesn't happen often -- and I think it's best that way.

Another attempt

[Serafini via Giornale Nuovo]

I keep coming up against the same damn ideas. I want new ones! I want new thoughts, new words through my mind. I meant to talk of authenticity and reality -- to talk of the life of action versus the life of words. I meant to talk about the stream of half-thoughts I'm beset by these days. But I can't write now. I can't write when I'm spending more time with others.

In the midst of the action, the life of action, everything else pales. Profundity seems an optical illusion. Argument seems to be rhetoric, cheap pasteboard. Reading is a distraction from observation. How much have I missed by having my eyes on a page, my head turned to the flat surface of a book? But. But every denigration can be turned on its head. I wouldn't be asking these questions without the reading, the thinking, the writing that I've done. At least I don't think I would have.

But really? When we were studying Augustine's Confessions, we would often hold Augustine's mother, Monica, as the foil to Augustine. She is the symbol of simple faith. She does not question, she does not seek out great masters of rhetoric or faith to try and pose questions to them. She does not worry about the problems that obsess Augustine. But her simplicity, however attractive it may be, is denigrated. Augustine himself says that it is the lost sheep that God most wishes to save -- the non-believer, the rebel. Simplicity is taken for granted, and then forgotten. The life of action is only remembered through the inspired biographer if there is one -- and his written product.

I was finishing Axel's Castle today (I know, close to three months since I started it) -- I came to the story of Rimbaud. I have only ever known the Illuminations and the letters they excerpt -- I've only known his writing -- I knew nothing of his life and his history. Wilson seems to think he was the ultimate -- the man of letters who turned from the old ways, who invented new ways, brilliantly, violently, and then abandoned literature -- threw it to the ground and trampled it -- the man of letters become the man of action. He left the world of intellect and imagination -- the world represented by Valery's M. Teste, Huysman's des Esseintes, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's Axel. No more mysticism, no more dreams, visions -- no more obfuscation. Down that path lie dragons -- the dragons of disillusionment, renunciation, resignation. No joy to be found on this cold, barren earth. No hope to be found in society.

Wilson colors Rimbaud a reluctant leader. He turns from the writing that gives rise to a generation of writers. He turns from the West and tries, again and again, with many failures (comical in his frustration), to go East. He learns languages and finally ends up in Harrar:

where he traffics in sugar, rice, silk, cotton-goods and arms, sending out his own caravans, intriguing with the local kings, entertaining European travellers with enchanting and cynical conversation and maintaining a harem of native women carefully selected as coming from different parts of the country so that they may teach him their different languages.

Rimbaud rejects -- he doesn't resign -- and through his rejection, he seeks "a life of pure action and a more primitive civilization."

And if actions can be compared with literary writings, Rimbaud's life seems to be more satisfactory than the works of his Symbolist contemporaries, than those even of most of his Symbolist successors, who stayed at home and stuck to literature. Rimbaud was far from finding in the East that ideal barbarous state he was seeking; even at Harrar during the days of his prosperity he was always steaming with anxieties and angers -- but his career, with its violence, its moral interest and its tragic completeness, leaves us feeling that we have watched the human spirit, strained to its most resolute sincerity and in possession of its highest faculties, breaking itself in the effort to escape, first from humiliating compromise, and then from chaos equally humiliating. And when we turn back to consider even the masterpieces of that literature which Rimbaud had helped to found and which he had repudiated, we are oppressed by a sullenness, a lethargy, a sense of energies ingrown and sometimes festering. Even the poetry of the noble Yeats, still repining through middle age over the emotional miscarriages of youth, is dully weighted, for all its purity and candour, by a leaden acquiescence in defeat."


I feel a vague rhetoric underlying this assessment -- the same sort as I found when studying the monographs and histories of Gauguin -- it's too facile to laud this sort of life. The life that searches for originality -- primitive and primal -- native. The search for humanity in its rawest state. Perhaps I can't help but see this incorrectly, as wrongheaded appropriation -- the worst sort of insidious colonialism. Wilson does qualify these statements and ideals for what they are, but nevertheless, they were pervasive. The 'life of action' - also a problematic phrase. Why is action and life equated with destruction and self-annihilation? Why is it equated with rejection, violence, even a masculine sort of triumph. Why not laud the lives of those who have balanced things? Those who have stood, feet planted squarely in two kingdoms? It seems there is an immediate assumption that to live in grayscale is somehow less than the life in black & white. Wilson creates an opposition throughout this -- he places the mystics -- Yeats' 'A Vision,' Valery's M. Teste, Proust's invalid, Joyce's sleeping man -- he places these mystics, these minds in opposition to action, rigor, boldness. Axel, the character in Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's story, opposed with Rimbaud -- rejection vs. renunciation.

That's the problem though, the same problem I have with the first sentence of the long passage I quoted above -- "if actions can be compared with literary writings" Can they be? To what end and with what success? With what intention? Why separate them at all? They seem to be such separations -- the sorts of separations you can only make from the outside. What does it mean to have been an author. What did Eliot think of Prufrock after he had written The Four Quartets? What did Virginia Woolf think of The Voyage Out after writing The Waves (if she thought of it at all).

That's the problem of thinking of things as static -- a problem I found with Wilson, surprising for someone so clearly enamored of Bergsonian and Whiteheadian metaphysics. He made it clear that it was important to attempt what Proust attempted -- to see one subject from very view -- to see it through its effects and influences and in observing, to understand. That was a very good section -- and a very interesting application of Whiteheadian process to literature. Examine the connections, elucidate the influences, see the process behind the snapshot. But in the end, works of literature are seen as almost-theres -- as not-quite-life. He expects literature to discover its own 'theory of everything,' wondering whether he and his readers weren't watching the beginning of a new world order in literature and the arts. He wants to distill some pure stream of simplicity from the complexity and chaos which resulted after the 'false dualisms' of classic arts had crumbled.

There are so many problems with trying to think about art, creation, writing. One doesn't just think about these things -- one writes about the problems of writing, one writes about the problems of having written. I cannot understand how to articulate the problem of the multitude in a single person: I think of an individual, an artist, more specifically, a writer. I think of her with her family -- then washing her hair -- then at the office, updating some document -- then in bed with a lover -- then sharing a glass of wine in a crowded bar -- finally, working on a story. If you were that person, which part would you say mattered most? Which part would be easiest to describe?

I can't describe my mind in repose. The thoughts flash too quick for transcription. The best ones are always lost. Sometimes I'm successful -- a string of six little fishes pulled from the roiling lake. If I write though, that remains. It persists for some time at least -- it becomes something of its own. And my writing is little writing, it's sampler writing -- meant for a small clutch of eyes. What about the big writing? What if it's read recklessly, appropriated, interpreted, translated, adored, displayed, misunderstood? We want to make things simple -- that's what analysis is about. It's why we compare, it's why we question. We want to simplify and in so doing, to understand. Sometimes we go further -- we want to understand in order to respond. That's fine, but it's a false attempt.

There is nothing simple about reading. Nothing simple about writing. Nothing simple about art. Sometimes I wonder if anything is simple -- a statistical anomaly -- I read that somewhere -- simplicity is a statistical anomaly. But see, here I'm writing about simplicity -- that makes it automatically complicated. But there are moments -- perhaps falsely constructed by a brain that craves simplicity, perhaps not -- there are moments when everything flattens out, reduces to a single point. Yesterday I fell asleep in the grass -- I fell asleep with my hand on our cat and when she miaowed I was startled awake. For a moment, lying eye-level to a clover flower, things felt simple. This doesn't happen often -- and I think it's best that way.

Excerpted

[Janne Peters]



From Axel's Castle:

Will the sciences dominate the future, as Pierre de Massot has suggested in a book which traces the development of Symbolism from Mallarme to Dadaism, 'smothering the last works of the past, until the day when literature, music and painting have become three principal branches of neurology?'

Excerpted

[Janne Peters]



From Axel's Castle:

Will the sciences dominate the future, as Pierre de Massot has suggested in a book which traces the development of Symbolism from Mallarme to Dadaism, 'smothering the last works of the past, until the day when literature, music and painting have become three principal branches of neurology?'

Doctors Waiting Times, Moans and cute pictures.























Hi Folks,


It's me again, moaning as usual, well I shouldn't really say that because it is not my fault but I am , well I was, spitting feathers yesterday when I visited the surgery of my Doctors.

Is there anyone else who has , after attending the surgery (on time) to see the doctor or nurse got to sit and wait for anything between 20 minutes and 1 hour and 20 minutes (which was a record - not a good one, but a record nevertheless). What really got me mad was when I reported to the receptionist to let her know that I was attending for my appointment I saw a few little cartoon notices about the place. These little 'billet dous' advised the patients that if they should appear for their appointments late they should not be surprised to be asked to re-book another appointment. When I saw these I was a bit taken aback, as you can imagine - considering the background to my previous visits.

I approached the receptionist and was, I admit a bit miffed, I did ask her if someone was taking the pi** - I am friendly with this lady and have known her for some time and after I clarified what I was a bit miffed about she said she understood. The appointments system has always been haphazard to say the least. I did tell her that I realized that neither the receptionists nor the doctors were to blame and that the blame lay fully in the lap of the Practice Manager who was a bit of a pupil of the last Practice Manager.

After getting a Complaint Form from R and seeing the Doctor I left having had my 'rant' for the day. So I have just written a stoater of a complaint letter which will be deposited ASAP at the group surgery. Why is it that folk like the 'Manager' get away with it, it's always the poor so-and-so who plays it by the rules that has to pay for the actions and systems laid down - seemingly in stone by 'Numpties' like that.

What gets me is that not many people will say anything or go through the complaint procedure. Now that I have reached this ancient phase of my life I just don't give a 'hoot'. It's kind of like when you have your hair done and you hate it, what do you do ? Instead of saying that you are not satisfied or are unhappy with the result, people just seem to skulk away and wash their hair at home, having a go at sorting something out there. They just seem to tell themselves that they must remember not to go back there to that hairdresser - It's crazy !

OK moaning over for another day ! Now, where is my placard and funny hat hehe..



Cheers to All, Kate xxx.


P.S. The above photographs are of my two sons - the younger (darker haired one) was married last May and the elder (hairless one) was married in May this year... I have to show them off you know - all the boys (apart from one) are grandsons, they were so cute in their kilts....