Saturday, 26 February 2011

Lis of Greedy CEOS Who thought the best way to support region wide movement for change was go on a junket selling arms to dodgy Governments..

Samir Brikho CEO, AMEC

Steve Marshall Chairman, Balfour Beatty

Graham Cartldge Chaiman, Benoy

Mouzan Majidi CEO Foster & Partners

Ben Gordon CEO Mothercare

Keith Howells Chairman, Mott MacDonald

Chris Hyman CEO, Serco

John Stanion, Chairman & CEO, Taylor Woodrow

Prof Malcolm Grant President/Provost, UCL

Paul Skinner CEO, Infrastructure UK

Bob Fryar Executive Vice President foProduction, BP

Ian Gray Non Exec Chairman of Vodafone Egypt

Phillip Dilley Chairman, Arup

Stuart Laing Deputy Vice Chancellor, Cambridge University

Peter Gammie CEO, Halcrow

Lord Dazi Imperial College

Malcolm Brinded Exec VP, Shell

John Peace Chairman, Standard Chartered

Ian Conn MD & CE, BP

Richard Barrett Regional Director. Atkins

Rob Watson, Reginal Director, Rolls Royce

Victor Chavez Thales Uk

Ian King CEO, BAE Systems

Prof John Hughes Vice Chancellor, Bangor University

Dean Webster EO, Cyril Sweett

Michael Soeting Global Head of ENR/Oil & Gas, KPMG

Rob King Development Director ME, the Edge

Shaun Carter Regional Director, Carillion

Sam Laidlaw CEO, Centrica

Charles Hughes VP Marketing, Cobham Group

Dr Rajan Jethwa CEO, Virgin Healthbank

Sir Frank Williams Team Principle, Williams F1

Alastair Bisset Group InternationalDirector, QinetilQ

Andy Pearson MD, Babcock International Group

Elizabeth Reid CEO, SSA Trust

Douglas Caster CEO, Ultra Electronics

As you can see the usual suspects, dictatorhip loving phone companies and tax dodgers , oh the odd university, and look closely some other surprises. Profit is a serial business.


Friday, 25 February 2011

Adolf Wolfli (26/2/1864 - 6/11/30) General View of the Island Neveranger, 1911 and other tales.

Adolf Wolfli , a swiss man of peasant stock was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of thirty-one and was subsequently whisked of to a mental asylum near Bern where he lived until his death thirty-five years later.He was on all accounts a highly disturbed and dangerous individual prone to pshychosis and violent hallucinations.
Hovever after his incarcenation he began to produce an astounding oeuvre of drawings, collages, sheet music, prose and poetry. These illustrations are included in Fromthe Cradle to the Grave a series of nine hand bound books (2,970 total pages, with 752 illustations) that recount Wolfi's imaginary life life story from ages two through eight ( his real life was one of grimness and despair, abused physically, sexually and mentally throughout his life). In his pictures or dreams the protaganist travels around the globe, imposing his own sense of on it. On all accounts a bit of a control freak, it appears Wolfi based his descriptions of faraway places on the familiar topography of Bern and the Swiss countryside and also on a school atlas he owned, but what is clear that the fantastical visions he had were very much his own. Out of his miserable existence he actually produced some astonishing work.
A spontaneity emerged and whatever his life had been before a transformation was achieved that would not have been achieved outside his prison walls. It was his own captors the psychiatrist's who began to regard hiswork in aeshetic terms and actually valued their immedacy and their uniqueness so gave Wolfi (the Beast) a taste of freedom.
His work belongs I suppose inthe schools of Art Brut and of course outsider art.

General View of the Island Neveranger,1911

Big Thing.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


For the Sisters

'A great deal of talent is lost in this world for
want of a little courage.'

About shoplifting,
for all those who still believe
Big Daddy is watching You -
Just say the shoplifters prayer:
Survive Danger
Be afraid and go on
See fear and diminish it.
There are luscious things
crying out for a woman's swift touch,
Take them!

As for store detectives
They are easily uncovered,
they look like they are at work
i.e. depressed, unimaginatevely dressed.
They hold us down with fear -
An army of omniscient fathers
Ubiquitie eyes,
Surveillance cameras, their
dissaproving lenses tracking
our private minds.

Shed guilt, take more than is given and pass it on,
forget the fathers, headmaster
they all had an interest in keeping us down
Stealing is exhilarating, ribcage acceleration
two fingers to drab minds of
primary school teachers and tedious preachers.

the rich are unworthy of some things-
Star fruit,
Lapis Lazuli, Beautiful books.
We are dangerous
We have ingenuity, defiance
the righteous indignation
of a thousand years.
Laugh out Loud -
all they come up with
is the
rattle of keys.

Originally published
in the virago book of wicked verse,virago press 1992.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

George Heywood Melly (17/8/26 - 57/07) - Homage to Rene Magritte

When Magritte died
The stones fell to the ground
The birds divorced their leaves
The night and day agreed to differ
The breasts became blind
The cunt was struck dumb
The tubas extnguished their flames
The pipe remembered its role
The words looked up what they meant in the dictionary
The clouds turned acstract
The ham closed its eye for ever
When Magritte died.

When Magritte died
The toes hid modestly in their shoes
The mountains no longer envied their eagles
The apple shrunk to the size of an apple
Or did the room grow to the size of a room?
The bowler hat lost its ability to astonish
The old healer
Returned from a dip in the sea
Put on his trousers
his boots
his cloak
his hat
Picked up his stick
his sack
his cage of doves (clanging its door to)
And set off on his banal journey

When Magritte died.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Artist Unknown, from a special issue of Varietes, a Brussels-based magazine. entitled " Le Surrealisme en 1929"

The Surrealists amused themselves by creating a map that puts imperialist powers in their place. For example: other than Alaska, the United States are invisible; mainland Britain is dwarfed by Ireland; Easter Island looms over a tiny Australia; and only two cities are marked, Paris and Constantinople, with the rest of France and Turkey missing.
This I guess was a map of the Surrealists cultural ideas. They gave great importance to the shattering of rational thought and bourgeois ideas and values, they aimed to free people from staid ideas and restrictive practices, cultures and structures, borrowing loosely from the ideologies of socialism and anarchism.
I too like the subversion of conventions, and draw on an internationalist world view as a source of inspiration and have also always been weary of nationalism and the waving of flags, though I do confess to having supported a few.
The legacy of their ideas lives on however, and today we live in a period of rising movements against borders. Facts are, all borders are manmade and all nations are based on fakery and vivid imagination and subsequently the logic of the world's order equals nonsense.
In 1925 Katherine Harman in a book called ' You are here ' an early surrealist manifesto wrote
"Even more than patriotism- which is a quite commonplace sort of hysteria, though emptier and shorter-lived than most- we are disgusted by the idea of belonging to a country at all, which is the most bestial and least philosopic of the concepts to which we are subjected...Wherever Western civilistion is dominant, all human contact has dissapeared, except contact from which money can be made - payment in hard cash."

Well I can safely say I agree with that, what do you think?
So destroy all borders, but having said that I still feel the need to shout Free Palestine. Call me a hypocrite .

Click on Picture to enlarge.

Monday, 14 February 2011

John Keats (31/10/1795 - 23/2/18) - The Nature of Love

Hi Folks , it's that time of year again when people get dizzy and do stupid things. I personally am an unashameable old romantic, so on this silly day thought I'd post this letter from another incurable one, John keats. A letter that really shows the depths of John Keats utter devotion to his one true love Fanny Browne.
Unfortunately shortly after they met in 1818 he became aware that he had TB and would never be able to marry. His love was intense, obsessive, jealous and sadly unfulfilled. In 1821 he left for Rome, where he died .
Theirs a link at bottom to earlier post I did on John Keats, hope you enjoy, don't get too sad though, take care and carry on, and remember fight the cuts.


My sweet Girl

Your letter gave me more delight, than anything in the world but yourself could do; indeed I am almost astonished that any absent one should have the luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I recieve your influence and a tenderer nature steeling upon me. All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights, have I find not at all cured me of my love of Beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me: or rather btreathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called Life. I never knew before, what such a love as you have made me feel,I did not believe in it; my Fancy was affraid of it, lest it should burn me up.But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures. You mention 'horrid people' and ask me whether it depend upon them, whether I see you again. Do understand me, my love, in this. I have so much of you in my heart that I must turn Mentor when I see a chance of harm beffalling you. I would never see anything but Pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and Happinness in your steps. I would wish to see you among those amusements suitable to your incinations and spirits; so that our loves might be a delight in the midst of Pleasures agreeable enough, rather than a resource from vexations and cares. But I doubt much, in case of the worst, whether I shall be philosopher enough to follow my own lessons: If I saw my resolution give you a pain I could not. Why may I not speak of your Beauty, since without that I could never have lov'd you. I cannot concieve any beginning of such love as I have for you but Beauty. There may be a sort of love for which, without the least sneer at it, I have the highest respect and can admire it in others: but it has not the richness, the bloom, the full form, the enchantment of love after my own heart. So let me speak of your Beauty, though to my own endangering; if you could be so cruel to me as to try elsewhere its Poer. You say you are affraid I shall think you do not love me - in saying this you make me ache the more to be near you. I am at the diligent use of my faculties here, I do not pass a day without sprwaling some blank verse or tagging some rhymes; and here I must confess, that, (since I am on the subject,) I love you the more in that I believe you have liked me for my own sake and for nothing else. I have met with women whom I would like to be married to a Poem and to be given away by a Novel. I have seen your Comet, and only wish it was a sign that poor Rice would get well whose illness makes him rather a melancholy companion: and the more so as to coquer his feelings and hide them from me, with a forc'd Pun. I kiss'd your writing over in the hope you had indulg'd me by leaving a trace of honey-What was your dream? Tell it me and I will tell you the interpretation thereof.

Ever yours, my love!
John Keats

Do not accuse me of delay - we have not here an opportunity of sending letters every day. Write speedily.

The letters of John Keats edited by Maurice Forman (OUP) 1947.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Rabindranet Tagore ( 7/4/1861 - 7/8/41) - Freedom

Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland!
Freedom from the burden of ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning
call of the future.
mistrusting the star that speaks of truth's adventurous paths;
freedom from the anarchy of destiny
whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncetain winds,
and the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death.
Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet's world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience for the
master of show
to be stirred into a mimicry of life.
you fasten yourself in night

Friday, 11 February 2011

JAMES BALDWIN ( 25/8/24 - 1/12/87. ) Of the Sorrow Songs: The cross of redemption.

A writer whose ouevre I have admired for a long time is James Baldwin, who was a brilliant, often controversial , novelist, poet, playewright and essayist. He was also a fierce crusader for equal rights, political thinker and black activist, friend to many. black and white, American, French and British. His books such as 'The Fire Next Time ,' 'Go Tellit on the Mountain' and 'Giovanni's Room ' have become modern classics. He was born in New York in 1924. Here he found his first public success as a lay preacher. His essays and stories began getting published in New York's leading intellectual journals.
By 1948, however he was living in poverty in Paris, where he had gone to escape American racism and homophobia, but in a strange twist it was in France that he discovered his American identity.When he felt he could no longer ignore the problems of his own country he returned to America, where he flirted with the Black Panthers and formed a strong bond with Martin Luther King, whose death profoundly affected him.
He spent more relaxed times in Turkey where he lived and in the South of Francewhere he spent his subsequent days. Baldwin wrote the following piece in 1979 for a small Scottish magazine.Ostesibly a review of James Lincoln Collier's ' The Making of Jazz'. It follows its own beat and becomes a sort of meditation. Writen a while back so some of parts might have got lost in the passages of time, but I feel still stands strong. Enjoy.

29 July 1979

I will let the date stand: but it is a false date. My typewriter has been silent since July 6th, and the pieces of paper I placed in the typewriter on that day has been blank until this hour.
July 29th was - is - my baby sister's birthday. She is now 36 years old, is married to a beautiful cat, and they have a small son, my nephew, one of my many nephews. My baby sister was born on the day our father died: and I could not but wonder what she, or our father, or her son, my nephew, could possibly make of this compelling investigation of our lives.
It is compelling indeed, like the nightmare called history: and compelling because the author is as precise as he is deluded.
Allow me, for example, to paraphrase, and parody, one of his statements, and I am not trying to be unkind.

There has been two authentic geniuses in jazz. One of them, of course, was Louis Armstrong, the much loved entertainer, striving for acceptance. The other was a sociopath called Charlie Parker, who managed... to destroy his career- and finally himself.

Well. Then: There have been two authentic geniuses in art. One of them was, of course was Michelangelo, the much beloved court jester, striving to please the Pope. The other was amisfit named Rembrandt, who managed... to destroy his career- and finally himself.

If one can believe the first statement, there is absolutely no reason to doubt the second. Which may be why no one appears to learn anythig from history- I am beginning to suspect that no one can learn anything from the nightmare called history - these are my reasons anyway, for attempting to report on this report from such a dangerous pint of view.
I have learned a great deal from traversing, struggling with, this book. It is my life, my history, which is being examined -defined: therefore, it is my obligation to attempt to clarify the record. I do not want my nephew - or, for that matter, my swiss godson, or my Italian godson - to believe this 'comprhensive' history.
People cannot be studied from a distance. It is perfectly possible that we cannot be studied at all: God's anguish, perhaps, upon being confronted with His creation. People certainly cannot be studied from a safe distance, or from the distance which we call safety. No one is, or can be, the other: there is nothing in the other, from the depths to the heights, which is not to be found in me. Of course, it can be said that 'objectiely' speaking, I do not have the temperment of an Idi Amiin. or Somoza, or Hitler, or Bokassa. Our careers do not resemble each other, and, for that, I do hank God. Yet, I am aware, that at some point in time and space, our aspirations may have been very similar., or that had we met, at some point in time and space- atschool, say, or looking for work, or at the corner bar - we might have had every reason o think so. They are men, after all, like me; mortal, like me; and all men reflect, are mirrors for, each other. It is the most fatal of all delusions, I think, not to know this: and the root of cowardice.
For, neithr I, nor anyone else, could have known, from the beginning, what roads we would travel, what choices we wouldmake, nor what the result of these choices would be: in ourselves, in time and space, and in that nightmare we call history. Where, then, is placed the 'objective' speaker, who can speak only after, and never before, the fact? Who may, or may not, have percieved (or recieved) the truth, whatever the truth may be? What does it mean to be objective? What is meant by temperament? and how does temeramentrelate to experience? For I do not know, will never know, and neither will you, whether it is my experience which is responsible for my temperament, or my temperament which must be taken to task for my experience.
I nationam attacking, of course, the basis of the language - or perhaps the intention of the language - in which history is written - am speaking as the son of the Preacher-Man. This is exactly how the music called jazz began, and out of the same necessity: not only to redeem a history unwritten and despised, but to checkmate the European notion of the world. For until this hour, when we speak of history, we are speaking only of how Europe saw - and sees - the world.
But there is a very great deal in the world which Europe does not, or cannot, see: in the very same way that the European musical scale cannot transcribe - cannot write down, does not understand - the notes, or the price, of this music.
Now, the author's research is meticulous. Collier has had to 'hang' in many places - 'has been there', as someone predating jazz might put it: but he has not, as one of my more relentless sisters might put it, 'been there and back'.
My more relentless sister is merely, in actuality, paraphrasing, or bearing witness to , Bessie Smith: "picked up my bag, baby, and I tried it again". And so is Billie Holliday, proclaiming - not complaining - that "my man wouldn't want me no breakfast/wouldn't give me no dinner/squawked about my supper/and threw me out doors/had the nerve to lay/a matchbox on my clothes.
"I didn't, " Buillies tells us, "have so many. But I had a long, long ways to go.
Thus, Aretha Franklin demands respect: having 'stolen' the song from Otis Redding. (As Otis Redding tells it: sounding strangely delighted to declare himself the victim of this sociopathological act.) Aretha dared to 'steal' the song from Otis because not many men, of any colour, are able to make the enormous confession, the tremendous recognition, contained in try a little tenderness.
And: if you can't get no satisfaction you may find yourself boiling a bitch's brew while waiting for someone to bring me my gun! or start walking toward the weeping willow tree or ramble where you find strange fruit - black, beige, and brown - hanging just across the tracks where it's tight like that and you don't let the sun catch you crying. It is always: farewell to storyville.
For this celebrated number has only the most passing, and, in truth, impertinent, reference to the red-light districy of New Orleans, or to the politician for whom it was named: a certain Joseph Story. What a curious way to enter, briefly, history, only to be utterly obliterated by it: which is exactly what is happening to Henry Kissinger. If you think I am leaping, you are entirely right. Go back to Miles, Max, Dizzy, Yard-Bird, Billie, Coltrane: who were not, as the striking - not to say quaint - European phrase would have it, improvising: who can afford to improvise, at those prices?
By the time of Farewell to Storyville'. and long before that time, the demolition of black quarters - for that is what they were, and are, considered - was an ireducible truth of black life. This is what Bessie Smith is telling us , in 'Back Water Blues'.This song has as much to do with the flood as 'Didn't it Rain' has to do with Noah, or as 'If I had my way' has to do with Samson and Delilah, and poor Samson's excess of hair. Or, if I may leap again, there is a song being born, somewhere, as I write, cocerning the present 'boat people', which will inform us, in tremendous detail, how ships are built. There is a dreadful music connnecting the building of ovens with the activity of contractors, the reality of businessmen ( to say nothing of business) and the reality of bankers and flags, and the European middle class, and its global progeny, and Gypsies, Jews, and soap: and profit.
The music called Jazz came into existence as an exceedingly laconic description of black circumstances: and, as a way, by describing these circumstances, of overcoming them. It was necessary that the description be laconic: the iron necessity being that the description not be overheard. Or, as the indescribably grim remnants of the European notion of the 'nation-state' would today put it, it wac absolutely necessary that the description not be ' decoded'. It has not been 'decoded', by the way, any more than the talking drum has been de-coded. I will try to tell you why.
I have said that people cannot be described from a distance. I will, now, contradict myself,and say that people can be described from a distance that they themselves haveestablished between themselves and what we must, here call life. Life comes out of music, and music comes out of life: without tusting the first, it is impossible to create the second. The rock against which the European notion of the nation-state has crashed is nothing more- and absolutely nothing less- than the question of identity. Who am I? and what am I? and what am I doing here?
This question is the very heart, and root, of the music we are discussing: and contains ( if it is possble to make the distinction) not so much a moral judgement as a precise one.

The Irish, for example, as it now, astoundingly, turns out, never had he remotest desire to become English, neither do the people of Scotland, or Wales: and one can suppose thepeople of Canada, trapped as they are between Alaska and Mexico, with only the heirs of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny between themselves and these two definitely unknown ports of call, distract themselves with the question of whether they are French or English only because their history has now allowed them the breathing space to find out what in Giod's name (!) it means to be Canadian. The Basques do not wish to be French, or Spanish, Kurds and Berbers do not wish to be Iranian, or Turkish.
If one travels from Naples, to Rome, to Torino. it can by no means be taken for granted that the nation- hammered into a nation, after all, quite recently- ever agreec, among themselves, to be that. The same is true of an egually arbitrary invention, Germany: Bavaria is not Berlin. For that matter, to e in Haifa is not at all like being in Jerusalem, and neither place resembles Nazareth. Examples abound: but , at this moment, the only nations being discussed are those which have become utiitarian but otherwise useless, Sweden, for examole, or Switzerland, which is not a nation, but a bank. There are those territories which are considered to be 'restive' (Iran, Greece) or those which are 'crucial' and 'unstable'. Peru, for the moment, is merely 'unstable', though one keeps on it a nervous eye: and though we knoe that there's a whole lot of coffe in Brazil, we don't know who's going to drink it. Brazil threatens to become. as we quite remarkably put it, one of the 'emeging' nations, like Nigeria, because those decisions, in those places, involve not merely continents, but the globe. Leaving aside the 'crafty East' - China, and Russia - there are only embarrassments, like the British colonial outpost, named for a merciless, piatinical murderer/colonizer: named Cecil Rhodes.
What, indeed, you may ask, has all this to do with 'The Making of Jazz? A book concernrd, innocently and earnestly enough with the creation of black American music.
That music is produced by, and bears witness to, one of the most obscene adventures in the history of mankind. It is a music which creates, as what we call History cannot sum up the courage to do, the response to that universal question:

Who am I? What am I doing here?

How did King Oliver, Ma Rainey, Bessie, Armstrong- a roll-call more vivid than what is called History - Bird, Dolphy, Powell, Pettford, Coltrane, Jelly Roll Morton, The Duke - or the living, again, too long a roll-call: Miss Nina Simone, Mme Mary Lou Williams, Carmen McRae, The Count, Ray, Miles, Max,- forgive me, children, for all the names I cannot call- how did they, and how do they, confront that question? and make of that captivity, a song?
For, the music began in capyivity: and is , still, absolutely, created in captivity. So much for the European vanity: which imagines with a single word, history,it controls the past, defines the
present: and therefore, cannot but suppose that the future will prove to be as willing to be brought into captivity as the slaves they imagine themselves to have discovered, as the nigger they had no choice but to invent.
Be careful of inventions: the invention describes you, and will certainly betray you. Speaking as the son of the Preacher-Man, I know that it was never intended, in any way whatever, that either the Father, or the Son, should be heard. Take that any way you will:
I am trying to be precise.
If you know- as a black American must know, discovers at his mother's breast, and then, in the eyes of his father- that the world which calls itself white: and which has the further, unspeakable cowardice of calling itself free - if you will dare imagine that I, speaking now, as a black witness to the white condition, see you in a way that you cannot afford to see me: if you can see that the invention of the black condition creates the trap of the white identity; you will see what a blck man knows about a white man stems, inexorably, from the white man's description of who, and what, he takes to be the other: in this case, the black cat: me.
You watch this innocent criminal destroying your father, day by day, hour by hour - your father! despising your mother, your brothers and your sisters; and this innocent criminal will cut you down, without any mercy, if any of you dares to say a word about it.
And not only is he trying to kill you. He would also like you to be his accomplice - discreet and noiseless accomplice- in this friendly democratic, and, alas, absolutely indispensable action. I didn't, he will tell you, make the world.

You think, but you don't say, to your friendly murderer, who, sincerely, means you no harm:
Well, baby, somebody better. And, in a great big hurry.

Thus, you begin to see; so, you begin to sing and dance; for ,thoseresponsible for your captivity require of you a song. You beginthe unimaginable horror of contempt and hatred; then, the horror of self-contempt, and self-hatred. What did I do? to be so black, and blue?If you survive - as, for example, the 'sociopath'. Yard-Bird, did not, as the 'junkiei', Billie Holliday, did not - you are released onto the tightrope tension of bearing in mind: every hour, every second, drunk, or sober, in sickness, or in health, those whom you must not even begin todepend on for the truth: and those to whom you must not lie.
It is hard to be black, and, therefore, officially, and lethally, despised. It is harder than to despise so many of the people who think of themselves as white: before whose blindness you present the obligatory, historical grin.
And it is harder than that, out of this devastation - Ezekiel's valley: Oh, Lord. Can these bones live? - to trust life, and to live a life, to love, and be loved.
It is out of this, and much more than this, that black American music springs. This music begins on the auction-block.
Now, whoever is unable to face this - the auction-block; whoever cannot see that the auction-block is the demolition accomplished, furthermore, at that hour of the world's history, in the name of civilization: whoever pretends that the slave mother does not weep, until this hour, for her slauhtered son, that the son does not weep for his slaughtered father: or whoever pretends that the white father did not - literally, and knowing what he was doing - hang, and burn, and castrate, his black son: whoever cannot face this can never pay the price for the beat which is the key to music, and the key to life.
Music is our witness, and our ally. The beat is the confession which recognises, changes and conquers time.
Then, history becomes a garment we can wear, and share, and not a cloak in which to hide: and time becomes a friend.

Originally Published in the 'New Edinburgh Review' Autumn 1979

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Abdul Qasim Alshabi (24/2/09 -9/10/34) -To the Tyrants of the World

Unjust tyrant, lover of the darkness, enemy of life
You have mocked the wounds of the weak people
Your palm is stained with their blood
You distorted the charm of existence
And planted the seeds of sorrow in the fields
Wait, don't let the spring, the clearness of the sky
and the morning light fool you
For on the horizon lies the horror of darkness,
rumble of thunder and blowing of winds
Beware underneath the ash there is fire
And he who sows thorns reaps wounds
Look there, for I have harvested the heads of mankind
and the flowers of hope
And I watered with blood the heart of the earth
I drenched it with tears until it was drunk
The river of blood will sweep you
And the burning storm will devour you

This is an English Translation of the Arabic poem Ela Toghat Al Alaam which was written by the Tunisian poet Abdul Qasim Alshabi.
A powerful and wonderful poem, that I feel, still resonates, down the years. It has recently been an inspiration to the protestors of Tunisia and Egypt, who have subsequently been using it in their recent struggle for liberation as a rallying a call and have used and incorporated it in their slogans and chants, and the struggle continues.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

ANDRE MASSON (4/1/1896 - 28/10/87) Labyrinth/ The Towers of Sleep.

Masson was influenced by Freud, his work represented an attempt to gain access to unconscious thought through automatic techniques. Starting with a web of rapidly formed lines he worked until images began to suggest themselves., concentrating on the moment of metamorphosis when forms were in the process of turnin into someting else.
The Surrealists believed that madness, too, unlocked the doors to the unconscious,.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Katherine Phillips ( Fowler) : 1631-1664. Wiston Vault/ Hey it's Sunday.

Katherine Philips father was a merchant and presbyterian of London, but his daughter soon transferred her zeal unfortunately to the cause of King and Church. At sixteen she married a Welshman, and their home here in Cardigan became a literary centre. It was here that, in the mode of the time, she was accorded the fancy name of Orinda, soon to be expanded into 'the Matchlless Orinda'.
After her husbands death she lived in Dublin, where she translated Corniell's ' Pompee', her version being played with much success at the Dublin Smock Alley Theatre. In March 1664 she returned to London and there, in the June of the same year, she died of small-pox.
She was however an ardent 'apostle' of friendship between women. Indeed the 'Lucasia' mentioned so lovingly in 'Wiston Vault' was one of her intimates - Anne Owen, afterwards Viscountess Dungannon. The famous Jeremy Taylor dedicated to her a book which has friendship as its theme.
'Wiston' is a sea-coast village in Pembrokeshire. The church 'restored' in the 1860s. still exists.

Wiston Vault

And why the vault and Tomb? Alike we must
Put of distinction, and put on our dust;
Nor can the staliest fabric help to save
From the corruptions of a commons grave,
Nor for the Resurresction more prepare,
Than if the dust were scattered into air.
What then? Th'ambition's just, say some, that we
May thus perpetuate our memory.
Ah, false, vain task of art! ah, poor weak man
Whose monument does more than merit can!
Who by his friends' best care and love's abused,
And in his very epitaph accused;
For did they not suspect hisname would fall,
There would not need an epitaph at all.
But after death, too, I would be alive,
And shall, if my Lucasia do survive.
I quit these pomps of death, and am content,
Having her heart to be my monument:
Though ne'er stone to me, 'twill stone for me to prove,
By the peculiar miracles of love.
There I'll inscription have which no tomb gives:

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Robert Tressell (nee Croker/Noonan)17/ 4/1870- 3/2/11. A Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.

One hundred days ago today Robert Tressell died aged 41 of tuberculosis.
His book 'the ragged trousered philanthropist' still gives me inspiration. It has been a primary influence on a lot of my outlook. A powerful book that to this day still has social significance, still has relevance.A story of the most important struggle in history, the struggle between the underprivileged and their oppressors. So on this day I remember him with this extract. May his words continue to echoe on down through the years. If you haven't read it I strongly recommend that you do. Essential.

" Poverty is not caused by men and women getting married; it's not caused by machinery; it's not caused by 'over-production'; it is not caused by drink or laziness; and it is not caused by 'over population'. It is caused by Private Monopoly. That is the present system. They have monopolised everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth.The only reason they have not monopolised the daylight and the air is that it it is not possible to do it. If it were possible to construct huge gasometers and to draw together and compress within them the whole atmosphere, it would have been done long ago, and we should have been compelled to work for them in order to get money to buy air to breathe. And if that seemingly impossible thing were accomplished tomorrow, you would see thousands of people dying for want of air - or of the money to buy it - even as now thousands are dying for want of the other necessities of life. You would see people going about gasping for breath, and telling each other that the likes of them could not expect to have air to breathe unless they had the money to pay for it. Most of you here, for instance, would think and say so. Even as you think at present that it is right for so few people to own the Earth, the Minerals and the Water, which are all just as necessary as is the air. In exactly the same spirit as you now say: "It's their Land," "It's their Water," " It's their Coal,"
"It's Their Iron," so you would say "It'sTheir Air," "These are their gasometers, and what right have the likes of us to expect them to allow us to breathe for nothing? And even while he is doing that the air monopolist will be preaching sermons on the Brotherhood of Man; he will be dispenscing advice on "Christian Duty" in the Sunday magazines; he will give utterance to numerous more or less moral maxims for the guidance of the yound. And meantime, all around, people will be dying for want of some of the air tht he will have bottled up in his gasometers. And whn you are all dragging out a miserable existence, gasping for breath or dying for want of air, if one of your number suggests smshing a hole in the side of the gasometers, you will all fall upon him in the name of law and order, and after doing your best to tear him limb from limb, you will drg him, covered with blood, in triumph to the nearest Police Station and deliver him up to "justice," in the hope of being given a few half-pounds of air for your trouble."

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

St Brides' Day: Imbolc, the Celtic feast of Spring's awakening.

On a brighter note today is St Bride's day, it was after her that we named our daughter ( Bridget) . St Brigid or Bride of Kildare is said to have helped the Virgin give birth to Jesus - whence she is the protector of pregnant women and midwives - and to have kept Mary's cows, whence her title of 'Christs Milkmaid'.
The saint's pagan namesake and predecessor, the Celtic goddess Brigit, was also associated with fertility, childbirth, and cattle. On her feast day - which is also the Gaelic spring festival of Imbolc or Imbolg - Highland girls made the 'Last Sheaf' of the previous harvest into images of her, which were laid in a decorated cradle called 'Bride's Bed'.

This is the day of Bride
The Queen will come from the Mound
This is the day of Bride
The serpent will come from the hole.

On this mystic day adders were beleved to abandon their winter lairs: and the oyster-catcher birds - called in Gaelic Gille Brighde, ' the servants of Bride' - made their appearance, bringing Spring with them.
So on this day Imbolc blessings. Ok daughter. From now on Spring awakes.New hope new light. Things moving onwards in the outer world and in our hearts, starting afresh with renewed purpose and fresh possibillities. Take it easy now. Unless that is your part of a revolution that happens to be occuring , then salute.Onwards and upwards.

Falling Arab dictatorships and Israeli government panic.

Falling Arab dictatorships and Israeli government panic |