Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Monday, 29 June 2009
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Monday, 22 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Slugs nestle where the stem
Broken, bleeds milk.
The flower is eyeless: the sight is compelled
By small, coarse, sharp petals,
Like metal shreds. Formed,
They puncture, irregularly perforate
Their yellow, brutal glare.
And certainly want to
Devour the earth. With an ample movement
They are a foot high, as you look.
And coming back, they take hold
On pert domestic strains.
Others' lives are theirs. Between then
Grass. They infest its weak land;
Fatten, hide slugs, infestate.
They look like plates; more closely
Life the first tryings, the machines, of nature
Riveted into her, successful.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Being numerous. They ask for attention
With that gradated yellow swelling
Of oily stamens. Petals focus them:
The eye-lashes grow wide.
Why should not one bring these to a funeral?
And at night, like children,
Without anxiety, their consciousness
Shut with white petals;
The unwearying, small sunflower
Fills the grass
With versions of one eye.
A strength in the full look
Candid, solid, glad.
Domestic as milk.
In multitudes, wait,
Each, to be looked at, spoken to.
They do not wither;
Their going, a pressure
Of elate sympathy
Released from you.
Rich up to the last interval
With minute tubes of oil, pollen;
Utterly without scent, for the eye,
For the eye, simply. For the mind
And its invisible organ,
That feeling thing.
[from Nature with Man, 1965]
Thursday, 18 June 2009
"By the time Ahmed was deported to the UK after a lengthy period of unlawful detention [in Pakistan, during which he was interrogated using questions drawn up by MI5 and Manchester police] three of his fingernails were missing".
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Monday, 15 June 2009
For five years, Hoffman scraped together a bare subsistence living in New York City. He got a handful of tiny parts, mostly one-shot guest appearances on New York-based TV series...Hoffman worked as a waiter, as a toy demonstrator at Macy's, as an attendant at the New York Psychiatric Institute, and as the only male typist in the steno pool at the Manpower temp agency. When jobs got really scarce, he would sleep on Gene Hackman's kitchen floor. And on the few occasions when he was able to get an audition, he was turned down every time.
The role for which Hoffman read was Immanuel, a handicapped, cross-dressing German who was living with an American soldier in the ruins of Berlin after World War II. "He just walked in off the street", says Ribman [the playwright]. "And we knew instantly he was Immanuel".
Friday, 12 June 2009
'Oh, look there's a fox. Ooh, he appears to be acting like some sort of bloodthirsty psychopath in senselessly massacring those chicks even though he can't eat them all. Oh dear, he's dismembered one or two. I wonder if he's going to hide the body parts all over the countryside like in that recent murder?'.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
'...the vast industrial complexes built under Ceauscescu in Romania...have, as the title suggests, fallen into ruins; they fell into ruins the moment captive markets for whatever they produced were freed to buy anything else. Untold acres of land are now deserts of crumbling ferro-concrete towers, surrounded by polluted land of evil coloration, with pools of water that could almost serve as national repositories for toxic chemicals. Steel rods emerge from much of the concrete, twisted like the antennae of insects in their death agony...
Fields of rubble; forests of abandoned chimneys; enormous skeletons of concrete girders; vast vertical plains of corrugated iron and smashed windows; processions of square concrete columns leading nowhere except to churned-up wasteland; rusting iron staircases rising or falling to or from a void; immense trellises of ironwork, supporting nothing; crumbling concrete tanks, silos, and water towers. It is as if a gray-brown organism that solidified into immovable detritus had invaded the earth and spread malignantly, eating up the landscape for miles around...
No humans are to be seen; one has the impression that, at last, an environment has been created in which even rats cannot live. All that survives in the wasteland is a spiky, dry vegetation that takes on the same coloration as the ruins and that is able to grow where there is much cadmium, arsenic, lead, manganese, and other metals in the soil.'
He sees the industrial ruins as a grave and horrible memorial to the false faith of communism and the urge to re-make the world inherent in the modernism of Corbusier and his like. But we shouldn't sorrowfully but smugly shake our heads, thanking God that it didn't happen here. The blindly modernising radical impulse may not have the same scope for destructiveness in our country; but it can still create a mess and we need to beadily look out for it.
I was prompted to remember David Miliband's ridiculously juvenile interview on the Today programme this week: full of progressive nonsense about making 'the unconventional, conventional' and pointing to last Autumn's bank rescues as an example of brave 'radicalism'. To adapt Tacitus: 'they made a wasteland and called it radical'.
And they're not finished. I'm not sure whether it's laughable or chilling but he declared Labour's mission as 'half complete in respect of political reform, it’s half complete in respect of economic reform, it's half complete in respect of social reform'. I'm just surprised he didn't throw the environment in: it provides huge scope for overly-confident and disastrous application of know-better-than-thou policy.
I fear for the health of our politics and democracy if they sincerely believe they have a last shot at radically recasting our constitution. As a previous post indicates I'm all in favour of reform but I just don't trust this lot of Year Zero-ers to do it well. You can guarantee that plenty of babies will be defenstrated and some particularly dirty bathwater introduced for us to wallow in.
As Daniels says in his conclusion:
'Man is free, no doubt, but to what extent does the past weigh on him? There is no doubt that what we see in these photographs is highly oppressive. We cannot just say, “Well, we’ll start out again, as from new, as if nothing had happened,” because the attempt to start out anew is what produced the catastrophe in the first place.'
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Monday, 8 June 2009
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Thursday, 4 June 2009
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
'On our penultimate visit, I discovered that Chaney had a taste for bourbon. Acting on that knowledge, I determined that it would be an appropriate component of our research methodology for me, on our next visit, to come bearing a gift, in hopes of loosening his tongue on some issues about which he had previously been reluctant to speak. On the last evening of the visit, I produced said gift, much to Chaney’s delight. He immediately began to sample its contents and invited me to join him. It was an offer I could not refuse under the circumstances, and as he continued to increase his sample size, I continued to accompany him. We drank late into the night.
Early the next morning, I was awakened by the ringing of the telephone in my room at the Holiday Inn. It was Chaney, in a highly agitated state. “Listen,” he said, “you’ve got to forget everything I told you last night. Some of what I said could get us both killed.” At which point my only response, which was totally honest, was “Don’t worry, Bill. I don’t remember a word you said.”
(POSTSCRIPT: Chaney himself was an FBI informant. In the labyrinthine politics of the Klan, all the various factions that were competing for supremacy were spilling secrets about one another to the FBI; Chaney ultimately won out over his competitors in that struggle. He was later convicted of firebombing an Indianapolis-area business.)'