Cerca

L'ombelico di Svesda

Tag

London

La Donna Che Curava I Malati Con I Numeri

A proposito di Catherine Barkley, giovani infermierine sui campi di battaglia e uomini deceduti, ho letto su BBC History Italia un articolo di Stephen Halliday che racconta di Florence Nightingale, la donna con la lanterna, passata alla storia per aver contribuito all’assistenza di centinaia di soldati inglesi feriti durante la Guerra di Crimea e per aver introdotto l’utilizzo di un diagramma polare, detto coxcomb, indispensabile nella rappresentazione statistica dei casi di morte avvenuti per malattia e ferite di guerra. Appassionata di matematica e statistica, la Nightingale appurò che le morti per malattia erano sette volte superiori a quelle provocate dalle battaglie e usò questi dati per condurre una campagna a favore di un miglioramento dell’alimentazione, dell’igiene e dell’abbigliamento per le truppe, persuadendo il governo a progettare un ospedale prefabbricato da trasportare via mare a Scutari. Rientrata in Inghilterra, la Nightingale continuò il suo lavoro e calcolò che, anche in tempi di pace, il tasso di mortalità tra soldati di sana costituzione, con un’età compresa tra i 25 e i 35 anni e che risiedevano in caserma, era il doppio di quello della popolazione civile. A sostegno delle sue teorie, la Nightingale decise di contattare la regina perchè ufficiali e delegati prendessero in considerazione i suoi studi e le statistiche trovassero reale applicazione nella cura delle malattie e nella costruzione delle strutture necessarie ad accogliere i malati.

‘Florence fece buon uso del suo rapporto con la sovrana. Quando era scontenta delle reazioni dei politici e dei militari ai suoi rapporti, scriveva alla regina Vittoria e al principe Alberto e ne riceveva risposte positive. Capitò così anche in occasione della sua analisi sulle possibili conseguenze demografiche causate dallo spostamento dell’ospedale St.Thomas dal ponte di Londra alla nuova sede sulla banchina dell’Albert Embankement. Il principe Alberto infatti assicurò che il suo rapporto su questo tema ‘riceveva la massima attenzione e ogni sua comunicazione sarebbe stata un ordine’. L’incontro di Florence con Lord Panmure (ministro della guerra) portò alla creazione di una commissione reale sulla salute nell’esercito britannico. Lei sottopose i commissari a un fuoco di fila di domande sulla relazione tra il tasso di mortalità nelle caserme e fattori quali la fornitura di acqua, la rete fognaria, l’aerazione, l’alloggio e il cibo preparando grafici ‘coxcomb’ per valorizzare i suoi argomenti. La commissione nel 1863 rese noto di accettare la maggior parte delle raccomandazioni di Florence. In seguito ai provvedimenti suggeriti da lei, il tasso di mortalità diminuì del 75%.
In seguito, Florence spostò la sua attenzione sul benessere della popolazione civile. Nel 1860 partecipò al Congresso Internazionale di Statistica e presentò una relazione in cui propose un modello per raccogliere ‘statistiche ospedaliere in modo omogeneo’, convincendo i delegati a decidere che ‘lo schema di Miss Nightingale dovrebbe essere usato da tutti i governi rappresentati’. Nel 1861 propose anche che nel censimento fossero incluse domande sulle ‘persone malate o inferme nel giorno del censimento’, in modo da poter individuare, attraverso l’esame dei dati, una ‘relazione tra la salute e le condizioni abitative della popolazione’.
Nel 1858 Florence fu la prima donna a essere eletta membro della Società di Statistica.’

BBC History Italia, Stephen Halliday

Annunci

I LET IT BLEED

ascoltare su youtube la versione integrale di Let it Bleed mi fa quasi dimenticare ero riuscita a trovarlo in vinile trascorrendo ore, giorni, a spulciare tra gli scaffali di decine di shop a Camden.
Voglio pensare riuscirò ad averlo in una seconda vita. Di più, in una seconda vita io sarò la batterista dei Rolling Stones. I got the silver.

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969)
Track Listing
01 00:00 “Gimme Shelter”
02 04:29 “Love in Vain”
03 08:47 “Country Honk”
04 11:54 “Live with Me”
05 15:26 “Let It Bleed”
06 20:52 “Midnight Rambler”
07 27:44 “You Got the Silver”
08 30:34 “Monkey Man”
09 34:43 “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

Le Douanier, Henri Rousseau

The Dream, Henri Rousseau, 1910

When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!.
Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.
Beauty is the promise of happiness.
It is often said that my heart is too open for my own good.
I cannot now change my style, which I acquired, as you can imagine, by dint of labour.
via Henri Rousseau – ArtinthePicture.com.

Rousseau, Henri, called ‘le Douanier’ (1844 – 1910), was an amateur or ‘Sunday’ painter with a direct, simple and hauntingly naive vision who painted some unusually large and complicated pictures of elaborately fanciful and pituresquely exotic subjects in a matter-of-factly pedestrian technique and strong colour. He served as a Regimental bandsman – according to his own account, in Mexico in 1861-7, which provided him with his fantastic settings – and as a Sergeant in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1. He entered the Paris municipal Customs service (hence ‘le Douanier’), and began painting about 1880, exhibiting at the Independants from 1886. A dinner in his honour was given in Picasso’s studio in 1908, and this gesture has played its part in the transmogrification of ‘le Douanier’ into a symbol of sophisticated interest in the pseudo – Primitive and in the opening of the floodgates of both psychological and the sentimental school of writers on art. He seems to have combined a certain peasant shrewdness and bland self-esteem with gullible simplemindedness; he kept a school where he taught elocution, music, and painting, wrote two plays, got himself involved, though guiltlessly, in a trial for fraud, and finally died, it is said, as a result of a disappointment in love in pursuit of a third wife.
There are works in London (Tate, Courtauld Inst.), New York (M of MA), Paris (Louvre), Zurich, and elsewhere.

Taken from ‘Dictionary of Art & Artists’, by Peter and Linda Murray, 1959

Prima di quattro anni fa non volevo crederci, ma ho dovuto convincermene, il clima anglosassone rischia seriamente di minacciare gli equilibri del proprio sistema nervoso e immalinconire come niente, forse neanche un pezzo di Rory Gallagher o Nick Drake.
Riflettevo su cosa è rimasto di idealmente democratico fra gli uomini, intendo uguale per tutti, che vale per tutti, e ho considerato finora un paio di risposte, certo opinabili:
-la vita, la morte
-le malattie
-Il lunedì dopo la domenica (il calendario)
-gli agenti atmosferici
nel caso di Inghilterra, Scozia e Irlanda, la pioggia, che pioggia tutti, tutti i giorni, a giorni alterni, quando gli pare e senza distinzioni. Che tu abbia un ombrello o non ce l’abbia. Che tu sia ricco o tu sia povero, sposato o single, del cancro o dell’ariete, gallo, pollastrella o cinghiale, superstizioso, protestante, musulmano, un pusher giamaicano, una drag queen, un portinaio, una massaggiatrice tailandese, un giurato. Soprattutto unisce, la pioggia unisce e accomuna. Dentro casa, le caffetterie, gli hotel, le cabine telefoniche, i pub, i club. Sotto le tettorie, le portinerie, gli archi, le insegne, sotto le coperte. Certi giorni che prende a grandinare d’improvviso e d’improvviso pare gocciare in un formicaio è tutto un corri corri sotto la tettoia più vicina, un ammassarsi, accozzarsi, appallottolarsi di materiale umano fradicio di pioggia e col fiatone. Non parla nessuno, ma tutti sanno a cosa sta pensando ognuno, damned rain.

‘If I had to be called something it should have been a folk singer’

Nina Simone photographed by Robinson Jack, via theworldofphotographers

Di Nina Simone si dice essere stata una musicista molto severa, puntuale, bad tempered, e di poche moine. Qualche tempo fa mi capitò leggere la sua autobiografia, ‘I put a spell on you’, che prende il titolo da uno dei suoi meravigliosi brani. Nel libro la Simone racconta della propria carriera, iniziata da piccolissima, al pianoforte della Chiesa locale, e conclusasi negli anni ’90 con un successo che l’ha resa famosa in tutto il mondo. Giusto nelle ultime pagine del libro la Simone fa riferimento a un episodio accaduto proprio qui a Londra, che segna la rottura con l’agente Sannucci e la cancellazione di una settimana di concerti al Ronnie Scott’s, un jazz club in Soho, dove la Simone era solita esibirsi intorno agli anni ’80. A causa della lite l’agente rientra in America da solo, la Simone si trattiene ancora in Europa, tra Liberia e Francia, Svizzera e Olanda, intanto esibendosi in concerti.
Il libro è del 1991, ed è nel Gennaio del’91 che la Simone partecipa in America a una parata per celebrare il compleanno di Martin Luther King; appena negli anni ’60 il brano Mississippi Goddam, contenuto nell’album ‘Nina Simone In Concert’, ricorda l’omicidio di Medgar Evers e il borbardamento nei pressi di una chiesa in Alabama  che costa la morte a quattro bambini neri; il brano viene recepito come una chiara denuncia al razzismo e segna un inizio nella lotta ai diritti civili portata avanti dalla Simone, che diversamente da Martin Luther King, però, invita i fratelli a ribellarsi alle armi, con le armi; anche per questo la Simone viene più volte allontanata dalla scena pubblica, sebbene nel libro viene solo fatto riferimento a un trasferimento nelle Barbados utilizzato come escamotage per non pagare le tasse e non finanziare lo stato americano, che negli anni ’60 va in guerra nel Vietnam.
Nel libro ci sono molti ricordi legati all’infanzia e alla Grande Depressione, alle ristrettezze economiche in cui versava la famiglia (otto figli), al duro apprendistato a cui prima che l’insegnante di piano sè stessa ha sottoposto attraverso rigide e ferree sedute di studio e totale dedizione alla musica;  il primo amore, la scelta di abbandonare casa per trasferirisi da sola in città, dove approfondisce gli studi di pianoforte, inizia a suonare nei locali, fa carriera come musicista e vive l’età adulta, tra palcoscenici, viaggi, casinò, champagne, antidepressivi, due matrimoni, una figlia, un divorzio, un amante ammazzato, e un’etichetta, quella della musicista jazz, che non sopporta, le rode il fegato, a tutt’oggi sono sicura farebbe impazzire, e di proprio pugno, in prima persona, nella propria autobiografia, tiene a chiarire. Un poco stizzita

‘After Town Hall critics started to talk about what sort of music I was playing and tried to find a neat slot to file it away in. It was difficult for them because I was playing popular songs in a classical style with a classical piano technique influenced by cocktail jazz. On top of that I included spirituals and children’s songs in my performances, and those sort of songs were automatically identified with the folk movement. So saying what sort of music I played gave the critics problems because there was something from everything in there, but it also meant I was appreciated across the board – by jazz, folk, pop and blues fans as well as admirers of classical music.
They finally ended up describing me as a ‘jazz-and-something-else-singer’. To me ‘jazz’ meant a way of thinking, a way of being, and the black man in America was jazz in everything he did – in the way he walked, talked, thought and acted. Jazz music was just another aspect of the whole thing, so in that sense because I was black I was a jazz singer, but in every other way I most definitely wasn’t.
Because of ‘Porgy’ people often compared me to Billie Holiday, which I hated. That was just one song out of my repertoire, and anybody who saw me perform could see we were entirely different, What made me mad was that it meant people couldn’t get past the fact we were both black: if I had happened to be white nobody would have made the connection. And I didn’t like to be put in a box with other jazz singers because my musicianship was totally different, and in its own way superior. Calling me a jazz singer was a way of ignoring my musical background because I didn’t fit into white ideas of what a black performer should be. It was a racist thing; ‘If she’s black she must be a jazz singer’. It diminished me, exactly like Langston Hughes was diminished when people called him a ‘great black poet’. Langston was a great poet period, and it was up to him and him alone to say what part the colour of his skin had to do with that.
If I had to be called something it should have been a folk singer, because there was more folk and blues than jazz in my playing.

[Taken from I put a spell on you, the autobiography of Nina Simone, with Stephen Cleary, 1991]

Conoscendo la voce della Simone ho immaginato quella fra me e il libro una chiaccherata fra estranei che viaggiano nello stesso treno vuoto, scomparto fumatori, l’una seduta di fianco all’altra. Il tono di lei è severo, delle volte gentile, delle volte amichevole, quasi mai affettuoso; la Simone guarda fuori dal finestrino, lo sguardo fermo. Ogni tanto si interrompe, si schiarisce la voce, riprende a parlare. Delle volte polemizza, ci tiene a chiarire. Avverto è impacciata, preferirebbe starsene altrove.
Basterebbe interromperla un istante e chiederle di cantare per sapere cosa è davvero successo in tutti quegli anni di lunga carriera e fede incondizionata alla Musa. Sarebbe allora che la voce della Simone tradirebbe il mito e svelerebbe la donna, sola e vulnerabile, sincera finalmente e solo attraverso la musica.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, Number 8, 1949 (detail)

“On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides and be literally in the painting.”
-Jackson Pollock, 1947

Pollock, Jackson (1912-56), the chief American exponent of ACTION PAINTING, made studies for his apparently unpremeditated works, done on continuous lengths of canvas tacked to the floor, and later cut up with selective care. He abandoned the use of brushes in 1947, pouring the paint straight on to the canvas, but in 1953 he began to employ brushes again. He said of his paintings (1951):
‘I don’t work from drawings or color sketches. My painting is direct.. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.. When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about, I can control the flow of paint: there is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.’
He used metallic paints and ordinary commercial synthetic enamel and plastic paint, with results that are already unfortunate. There are examples in London (Tate), Rio de Janeiro and many US museums.
Taken from ‘Dictionary of Art and Artists, by Peter and Linda Murray, 1959

On Show: Ori Gersht’s This Storm Is What We Call Progress – British Journal of Photography

Ori Gersht opened his first UK museum solo show recently, not at an art gallery but at London’s Imperial War Museum. The display presents two dual-channel film pieces and a new body of stills.
Often drawing on wider themes of history, conflict, time and landscape, Ori Gersht explained the nature of his process in saying, “Scars created by wars on our collective and personal memories are at the essence of my practice. In my work I often explore the dialectics of destruction and creation, and the relationships between violence and esthetics.”
On Show: Ori Gersht’s This Storm Is What We Call Progress – British Journal of Photography.

Dear Dr Ozzy

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1995, by Tom Stoddart

Ho qui una copia del The Sunday Times Magazine, uscita ieri in allegato al Sunday Times, questa settimana particolarmente interessante non solo per la copertina, che vede questa foto di Inna Shevchenko, co-fondatrice del movimento femminista ucraino Femen, ritratta in topless, pugno destro tirato in alto e il titolo “We Came, We stripped, We conquered. Feminists open up a bold new front”, di rimando a un succoso articolo, a pag.16, circa le rappresaglie anti-maschilismo/anti-patriarcato portate avanti dal movimento, in Ucraina e nel resto del mondo; non solo per una meravigliosa raccolta di immagini drammatiche che testimoniano e ricordano gli orrori della guerra in Bosnia, in onda nei nostri televisori vent’anni fa; un articolo scientifico circa la scoperta di nuovi pianeti inesplorati che, come il nostro, potrebbero essere abitati e soprattutto rappresentare una possibilità al cosmismo; il progetto di una nuova esposizione al London Film Museum patrocinata dall’agenzia Magnum, che per l’occasione ha aperto gli archivi e dato modo agli organizzatori di mettere insieme un discreto numero di foto scattate a Hollywood tra gli anni ’50 e ’60; un elogio alla produzione narrativa di Stephen King, e uno a Picasso, cui raccolta di disegni erotici è in mostra al British Museum fino all’estate prossima; ma soprattutto per la consueta rubrica di Ozzy Osbourne, ex leader dei Black Sabbath, che ieri dà il meglio di sè e alla domanda di un lettore, Martin, di Gateshead
Apparently, a Chinese entrepreneur is selling ‘organic green tea’ made from panda poop for £126 per cup. Is this stuff really good for you?
risponde:
It ain’t actually made from panda shit. They use the poo to fertilize the tea plants. Pandas eat nothing but bamboo, and most nutrients pass right through ‘em. So it ain’t totally crazy. Apart from the price.
Vorrà Ozzy prendere in considerazione anche la mia, di domanda, stamattina spedita by email all’indirizzo della sua rubrica:
Dear Dr.Ozzy,
several months ago I happened to read about a German restaurant willing to serve human meat as gourmet meals. Since I am sulphites intolerant, which drink shall I order to enjoy it best?
Thanks ahead
Laura
, London
Lo saprò soltanto domenica prossima.

Circa Il Diritto Di Giocare

Thurston Hopkins, London 7th August, 1954

Signori, gli adulti non sanno più cosa inventarsi per traumatizzare i bambini. Ne è una prova il cartellone in Darwin Road che proibisce ai miei clienti di giocare in strada.
No ball games here
Ho sentito mamme pigolare, alcune sostengono giocare in strada è pericoloso e comporta un prezzo troppo alto da pagare. Vero. E’ però vero anche chiudere Darwin Road (per consentire ai bambini di giocare), comporta un prezzo ancora più alto che l’amministrazione non ha intenzione di pagare. Signori, io questo lo chiamo un oltraggio all’infanzia e una minaccia alla felicità dei bambini.
Non solo il cartellone è arrogante nei toni (come tutti gli imperativi in smokey suit e black tie. Stop there. Pay here. Don’t cross the line) ma scialbo e in difetto di creatività e inventiva. Pertanto, la sottoscritta pollastrella, delegata dei bambini del quartiere, non solo rivendica il Diritto di Giocare e di poterlo fare per strada, ma propone di chiudere al traffico Darwin Road e sostituire i vecchi cartelloni con dei nuovi. What about this?
Hey guys, have fun playing around with that crazy ball but remind to respect people and places around you. Qui e là una nuvoletta, un aquilone, un palloncino. Colore.
Sounds alright enough?
Prego firmare nel retro la petizione in favore dei Bambini di Darwin Road
Un grazie di cuore,
La pollastrella

Della Regina e La Regina

Robert Frank, London, 1951-1953

Ho conosciuto una donna, ieri notte. Stavo fumando una sigaretta davanti all’uscita della tube. Avevo appena finito di lavorare, contavo di rientrare a casa di lì a poco. La donna avrà avuto sessant’anni. O forse quaranta, ma portati con fatica; indossava un piumino nero, lungo fin sopra le caviglie, un paio di sandali, aperti ai talloni, un fazzoletto chiaro in testa, una borsa blu a tracolla. Mi si è avvicinata con in mano una cartina della tube. Non parlava inglese. Parlate russo? Le ho chiesto. Ma da come ha aggrottato le sopracciglia e mi ha guardata smarrita, ho capito ci saremmo dovute intuire a gesti. Ambascia Americu, dice lei. Parku, Ambascia Americu, e indica con il braccio alla nostra destra. Capisco la donna sta cercando l’ambasciata americana, che so essere nei dintorni di Hide Park, non lontano da dove ci trovavamo. Familu. Parku. Ambascia Americu. Continua a dire lei, appena sottovoce, la fronte aggrottata, gli occhi fasciati di rughe, le mani strette a pugno e tenute al petto. Una bambina timida e gentile. Graziosa e accorta nelle maniere, introversa, una matrioska dentro una matrioska dentro una matrioska ancora più piccina, cose non dette e tenute dentro, lacrime amare e silenzi.
Ho chiesto a un passante dell’ambasciata americana. Questi mi ha indicato la direzione e io e la donna ci siamo incamminate lungo la Piccadilly. La donna mi seguiva a meno di un passo di distanza, silenziosa; ogni tanto mi guardavo alle spalle e rallentavo il passo credendo di stare andando troppo veloce per la sua andatura. Mentre camminavamo ho desiderato più volte prenderla per mano; pensavo a quant’era vulnerabile, tutta sola, in un paese straniero, di notte, senza neanche conoscere la lingua del posto. Ho pensato Chiunque avrebbe potuto farle del male.
Ma chi è Chiunque. E io, Chi sono?
Io so, chi sono io, ma chi sono gli altri? Chi è la gente, chi le facce, gli ombrelli, la fretta, le code, il traffico. E chi suona le note di questo concerto, la vita? Chi scrive la partitura, chi decide le accollature, chi segna le note nel pentagramma, chi prevede per ciascuna una frequenza, gli intervalli; chi decide il suono, chi il timbro. Chi decide il tempo, chi la durata.
Chi soffia dentro il vaso e libera i fiati, le trombe, i cori dei baritoni; cose rende l’armonia, di quali accordi è fatta la speranza, cosa spiega questo caos?
Il tragitto lungo Hide Park fino a Gronsvenor Avenue dura oltre venti minuti; attraversiamo uno a uno una ventina di luxury hotels incastonati come diamanti alle dita di giovani vacche inglesi in biancheria da sera e pellicce di criceto transgenico, panciuti portieri in frac e cilindro, qualche limousine e tante macchine sportive
‘Prego, signori, accogliete le Due Regine degli Stracci! Avanti, Regine, avanzate!’
Le due regine degli stracci avanzano lungo un tappeto d’oro, sotto lo sguardo sprezzante dei passanti che si rifiutano di offrire loro la cortesia di un informazione. L’ambasciata americana si trova poco dopo Hide Park Corner; illuminata di fari e un piccolo parco di fronte all’ingresso, dall’altra parte della strada. Dove vive la regina degli stracci, la zingara bambina. ‘Avete da mangiare, Regina?’ Mi ha mostrato una bottiglia di aranciata, che teneva dentro la borsa; poi ha cacciato di tasca una manciata di monetine. ‘Se avessi una casa, Regina, ma non ho niente da offrirvi, accettate questa modesta cortesia’.
Se non mi fossi vista coi miei occhi, non avrei potuto dire quella zingara bambina era io. Chissà dov’ero stata, e se c’era qualcuno, di là nel parco, ad aspettarmi.

a leap of faith, in other words

Il Budda delle Periferie, Hanif Kureishi

Questo di Kureishi è un libro che mi porto dietro da quasi dieci anni e a cui sono molto affezionata. Per diverse ragioni. Perch’è ambientato a Londra negli anni ’70, racconta bene la periferia e le difficoltà di chi vive a casa propria ma è ospite di un paese altrui, è divertente, creativo, c’è dentro tanta musica e mi è sempre stato vicino. Ogni tanto mi piace aprirlo e leggerne una pagina a caso.

A differenza di loro, papà era stato mandato in Inghilterra dai suoi genitori per studiare. La madre aveva sferruzzato, per lui e per Anwar, parecchie maglie di lana terribilmente ispide e li aveva salutati a Bombay raccomandando loro di non diventare, per nessun motivo, dei consumatori di carne di maiale. Come Gandhi e Jinnah prima di lui, mio padre era destinato a ritornare in India trasformato in un distinto avvocato inglese e in un capace ballerino. Quello che papà non sapeva, partendo, era che non avrebbe più rivisto il volto di sua madre. Questo era indiscutibilmente il grande dolore della sua vita, e credo fosse la ragione per cui si sentiva irrimediabilmente attratto da donne che si prendevano cura di lui, donne che poteva amare come avrebbe dovuto amare la madre a cui non aveva mai scritto una sola riga.
Londra, la Old Kent Road, fu uno shock culturale per entrambi. La città era umida e piovosa, la gente li chiamava ‘Sunny Jim‘, non c’era mai abbastanza cibo e papà non riuscì mai ad abituarsi ai toast unti. “Assomigliano al muco del naso,” diceva rifiutando la principale base di sostentamento della classe lavoratrice. “Pensavo che avremmo mangiato roast beef e Yorkshire pudding tutti i giorni”, si lamentava. Ma c’era ancora il razionamento, e l’area era disastrata per i bombardamenti subiti durante la seconda. Mio padre rimase stupito e rincuorato alla vista degli inglesi in Inghilterra. Non aveva mai incontrato un inglese povero – uno spazzino, un commesso, un barista. Non aveva neanche mai visto un inglese che si ficcasse il pane in bocca con le mani, e nessuno gli aveva mai detto che gli inglesi non si lavano regolarmente perchè l’acqua era fredda, quando non mancava del tutto. E quando cercò di parlare di Byron nei pub locali nessuno lo avvisò che non tutti gli inglesi sapevano leggere, e che non tutti erano necessariamente pronti ad ascoltare da un indiano lezioni sulla poesia di un pazzo pervertito.
Fortunatamente Anwar e papà avevano un posto in cui stare, dal dottor Lal, un amico del nonno. Il dottor Lal era un orrendo dentista indiano che sosteneva di essere amico di Bertrand Russell. Pare che a Combridge, durante la guerra, un solitario Bertrand Russell avesse confidato al dottor Lal che la mesturbazione rappresentava la risposta alla frustrazione sessuale. La grande scoperta di Russell era stata una rivelazione per Lal, che sosteneva di avere trovato la felicità da allora in poi. Bisognava iscrivere questo risultato tra i grandi successi di Russell? Forse se il dottore fosse stato meno diretto nel parlare di sesso ai suoi due giovani e sessualmente attivi ospiti, papà probabilmente non avrebbe mai incontrato mia madre e io non mi sarei innamorato di Charlie.

On Counterculture. The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin


Anni che piovono investimenti da tutte le latitudini, fiumi di denaro a secchiate, a cascate, a sprecare, e l’Inghilterra si ritrova oggi con l’acqua alla gola. Certi giorni di temporale a boccheggiare.
‘Mothers are on the brink. Cost of living is forcing 1 in 5 to skip meals to feed their children’
More than 70 per cent of families are financially ‘on the edge’, according to research published today.
Struggling families are on the brink of poverty and could face ruin if hit by further price increases or falls in their income, the study by parenting website Netmums found.
via 70 per cent of British families on the brink of poverty, research claims | Metro.co.uk.
Il 70% delle famiglie inglesi è a rischio povertà e una madre su cinque rinuncia a un pasto al giorno per dare da mangiare ai propri figli. Cameron aumenta le tasse e accorcia il braccino. Non è un caso il film The Iron Lady, uscito nei cinema a gennaio. Il messaggio mi pare chiaro, ladies and gentlemen, torniamo alle maniere dure di sempre. Right Now.
L’Europa piange, l’America annaspa, il Medio Oriente muore, l’Asia si trascina. Siamo in guerra. Ed è una guerra d’avanguardia, che non ha precedenti e si distingue per violenza e impatto nella sfera sociale; le trincee sono nei mercati finanziari, i soldati in banca, i dissidenti in rete; il denaro è virtuale, le bombe chimiche, le stragi silenziose. Moriamo di depressione, di cancro, di tumori, di anoressia, di bulimia, di overdose. Di stress. La propaganda Anti-Crisi si diffonde per radio, televisione, internet, a suon di pop e marionette. Tutto è spettacolo, tutto è d’oro, tutto è magia e possibilità. Yes, you can. Why not?
Perchè le istituzioni, i media, sono corrotti? Perchè nascono dall’investimento di denaro, ed è il denaro che crea potere, dominio, primato, e corrompe il sistema. Come possono i giornalisti della rai lamentarsi delle censure se per lavorare come giornalisti della rai hanno dovuto investire milioni (in studi, in aggiornamenti, in viaggi, in raccomandazioni) pur di farsi assumere dal governo italiano. Un figlio può disobbedire al padre, essergli irriconoscente, voltargli le spalle? Con un mutuo da pagare e una vacanza alle canarie da disdire? Alcuni lo hanno fatto. Alcuni si sono ribellati al padre. E io trovo tutto quel lamentarsi, capricci e ripicche da bambini. C’è tanta gente che lavora sodo e fa informazione lontano i riflettori del grande palcoscenico statale. E lo fa’ molto spessp gratis, per passione e romanticismo. NO, io non credo alla libertà di parola. Credo ai fatti e i fatti dicono che il sistema è corrotto. Bando agli idealismi. Che si fa?
Chiunque di noi si dice disgustato dalle raccomandazioni, sebbene chiunque di noi sarebbe disposto a vendersi la pelle pur di avere un posto fisso. Ognuno di noi ogni giorno si prostituisce in cambio di denaro, affermazione, prestigio. A lavoro, nelle relazioni sociali. Chi per vanità, chi per gioco, chi per noia, chi per debolezza.
Io credo l’unica delle possibilità che abbiamo per arginare la crisi, è dire di NO. NO. NO. E NO. NO, cazzo. Noi non abbiamo bisogno di un’applicazione nel telefonino che ci dica come stare a dieta, noi abbiamo bisogno di cibo per sfamare i bambini che muoiono di fame, vengono abbandonati, sono vittima di violenze domestiche. Noi non abbiamo bisogno di macchine nuove, un nuovo guardaroba, l’ultimo taglia-acqua elettrico, noi abbiamo bisogno di medicine, se siamo malati, di un’adeguata istruzione, perchè siamo ignoranti, di investire nella ricerca, nella medicina. Io non voglio lanciare una provocazione e tirarmi indietro, o fare polemica per noia o cattivo gusto. Io ho il dovere di ribellarmi, e l’unica maniera che ho di ribellarmi è agire e parlarne.
Qualche mese fa mi proposero a lavoro di diventare shift leader e iniziare così una strepitosa e brillante carriera nel glorioso avvenire del caffè. Io ho detto di NO. Io sono una barista, e mi piaccio così. Essere shift leader vuol dire assumersi certe responsabilità non adeguatamente ricompensate economicamente, soprattutto, dovere sempre e a qualunque condizione dire di SI. Per contratto. E io non ho intenzione di dire di si a una compagnia che basa la propria ricchezza sullo sfruttamento della classe operaia e l’investimento di capitali in Arabia Saudita e Polonia. Che non paga la malattia fino a prima del sesto giorno di assenza da lavoro. Che non paga bank holidays e corsi di formazione al personale. Io soffro a sapere loro arricchirsi alle mie spalle e le spalle dei miei colleghi, in prevalenza dell’Est, provati dalla povertà e disposti a dire di Si a qualunque condizione. E perchè soffro? Perchè sono anni che lavoro al minimo della paga e al massimo dello sfruttamento, e non posso neanche permettermi un dentista o un terapeuta per curarmi la schiena. Perchè se mai dovessi ammalarmi di un accidenti, sarò fottuta. Non la prima, nè l’ultima. Ed è questo che mi rende impotente e fa’ soffrire. Non posso fare nulla per proteggere me, chi mi sta vicino e sta peggio di noi.
Certo, qualcuno griderà, lavoro! Ti serve un dentista? Ti serve un terapeuta? Hai un lavoro, lavora! Lavora di più. NO io non lavoro di più. Io non mi faccio spremere come un limone per soddisfare la tua sete di potere e denaro.
Il tempo è denaro, dicono. NO, il denaro è tempo. Il denaro stabilisce quante ore di lavoro un dipendente deve fare e quanto denaro quel dipendente deve pontenzialmente fruttare. Nel mio caso, 73 pounds all’ora. Contro i 6 e 10 di paga netta per ora.
Il denaro permette di acquistare il tempo, di scambiare del tempo per del tempo, che viene comprato indirettamente e subordinato a un vincolo, il rapporto compratore-venditore, quindi consumatore-stipendiato. Questo rapporto è sempre a svantaggio del consumatore-stipendiato. Quando un consumatore compra un prodotto, paga il tempo che è stato necessario a creare quel prodotto ma ad un prezzo più alto rispetto allo stipendio che gli viene dato e in proporzione al tempo che gli ci è voluto per crearlo.
Esempio: in una fabbrica un taglia-acqua elettrico viene costruito in 8 ore di lavoro, da 20 dipendenti stipendiati (compreso il settore commerciale e il lavoro incluso per fabbricare il materiale di produzione utilizzato). Lo stipendio di ogni singolo dipendente dovrebbe quindi corrispondere a 1/20 del prezzo del taglia-acqua elettrico, ossia 1000 pounds se il taglia-acqua elettrico vale 20000 pounds. Questo dovrebbe corrispondere ad uno stipendio di 22000 pounds al mese (22 giorni di lavoro). Per la maggior parte dei lavoratori lo stipendio consiste nel minimo di quella cifra. Nella stragrande maggioranza dei casi le proporzioni sono spaventosamente invertite e il lavoratore è l’unico a esserne penalizzato. I beneficiari del tempo rubato ai dipendenti stipendiati sono le ditte e i loro dirigenti, ma anche gli Stati, dal momento che gli imposti e le tasse prelevate sui lavoratori non vengono utilizzati per l’interesse generale ma vengono usati per arricchire le tasce dei ministeri e investire capitali nel privato.
Perchè continuo a lavorare in quel posto? Perchè sono codarda. Perchè so che se me ne vado non troverò un altro lavoro. Perchè so non c’è lavoro. Perchè non ho il coraggio di mollare tutto e vivere per strada. Sono una fifona. E in fondo mi piace, il confort di un posto caldo dove dormire e almeno un pasto al giorno di cui cibarmi. Sono una donna sofisticata.
Dei giorni andare a lavoro mi pare una violenza. Il coraggio non sta nell’andare a lavoro. Il coraggio starebbe semmai nel mollarlo. Più della metà di tutti i lavori che facciamo è assolutamente inutile e non porta a niente di edificante e attributivo all’intera società. Vendiamo beni altrui, costruiamo cianfrusaglie inutili, ci sprechiamo in cambio di carta straccia. Schifosissima e maledetta carta straccia puzzolente e sporca di sangue.
Sto leggendo un bel romanzo, in questi giorni. S’intitola The Hall of the Caryatids, dello scrittore russo Victor Pelevin, classe ’62, moscovita, ingegnere elettro-meccanico e scrittore spadaccino di cui lessi l’articolo che segue in questo magazine on-line Russia Beyond The Headlines: Russian News (disponibile anche in italiano)
In his recent works, Russian master of postmodern science fiction Victor Pelevin has shifted his satirical focus from the absurdities of the communist regime to the iniquitous consumerism of post-Soviet Russia.

In this surreal story, The Hall of Singing Caryatids, by the Russian master of postmodern science fiction, Victor Pelevin, young Lena is employed to stand naked for hours at a time and sing – when they are not indulging the excessive fantasies of oligarchs. She and her fellow “caryatids” are decorative pillars in an elite underground nightclub. The girls are injected with a classified serum, ‘Mantis-B,’ which enables them to stand totally still for up to two days. Lena’s encounters with a giant, telepathic praying mantis, while under the influence of the serum, radically alter her perspective on the outside world, revealing an alternative universe of wordless clarity.

In true postmodern style, Pelevin intersperses these drug-induced episodes with other voices. There are the pseudo-pretentious extracts from Counterculture magazine that Lena reads in the minibus back to Moscow. She also meets concept artists, girls dressed as mermaids, important clients in bathrobes, guards in suits, and the sinister, ironic-slogan-toting Uncle Pete.

Pelevin has been perplexing and delighting readers with his unique brand of polyphonic sci-fi comedy for more than two decades now. His first novel, Omon Ra, published in 1992, portrays a protagonist attempting to escape the Soviet nightmare by becoming a cosmonaut, only to find himself part of a farcical, mock-heroic moon landing during which he drives his lunar bike along a derelict underground tunnel.

While the political landscape may seem to have altered seismically around him, Pelevin has had no trouble shifting his satirical focus from the absurdities of the communist regime to the iniquitous consumerism of post-Soviet Russia. Pelevin’s most recent book, Pineapple Water for a Beautiful Lady, has just been short-listed for the Nose literary prize.

via Revealing drawbacks of post-Soviet consumerism | Russia Beyond The Headlines.

Il romanzo ricorda molto il bunga bunga affair ed è principalmente indirizzato a polemizzare la corruzione dell’oligarchia russa sotto il governo Putin.
Chi sono le cariatidi canterine? Dal greco, figure portanti. Un gruppo di giovani prostitute, addestrate, drogate, coinvolte da una società segreta in un affare politico.
C’è una parte del libro, molto bella, in cui Lena e le altre ragazze vengono convocate da Uncle Pete e portate in un luogo segreto. Intanto che aspettano, Lena trova una rivista, e Pevelin il pretesto per parlare di controcultura e fare polemica

‘She took the driver’s well thumbed copy of Eligible Bachelors of Russia magazine. Inside it was another slim, badly tattered magazine, titled Counterculture. It wasn’t clear if this was printed or simply a supplement. Counterculture was printed on poor quality newsprint and looked very dubious, even sordid, but Vera explained that that was deliberate.
“It’s counterculture,” she said, as if the word explained everything.
“And what’s that?” Lena asked.
“That’s when they use dirty words on cheap paper,” Vera explained. “So they can badmouth the glossies. It’s hot shit nowadays.”
Asya frowned.
“That’s not right,” she said, “it doesn’t have to be on cheap paper, sometimes the paper’s expensive. Counterculture’s..” She hesitates for a moment, as if she was trying to recall a phrase that she’d heard somewhere. “It’s the aesthetic of anti-bourgeois revolt, expropriated by the ruling elite, that’s what it is.”
“But how can you expropriate an aesthetic?” Vera asked.
“NO problem,” replied Asya. “Nowadays, everyone who’s got a competent PR manager is a rebel. Any dumb bitch on TV can say she’s on the run from the FSB…I don’t get you girls; I don’t see why we should have any complexes about the job. Because everyone’s a prostitute nowadays, even the air- for letting the radio waves pass through it.”
“You take such an emotional view of everything, seeing it all with your heart,” said Kima. “You won’t last long like that. And anyway, that’s not what counterculture is.”
“Then what is it?” asked Asya.
“It’s just a market niche,” Kima replied with a shrug, “And not just here, it’s the same all over the world. Think of it – ‘counter’-counterculture is any commodity someone’s hoping to sell big-time, so they put it on the checkout counter. Lena, why are you so quiet?”
“I am reading,” Lena replied. “I don’t understand why they use dotted lines for profanity, if they’re in revolt.”
“That’s to attract more readers.”
“Aha. And here they write:’brilliant intellectual, experimenting within the mainstream…’ Is that counterculture?”
“No,” said Asya. “That’s one cute guy on the make and another one doing his PR.”
Lena didn’t ask any more question, but she was still wondering what counterculture really was, and decided to read right through the supplement.
She half listened to the girls with one ear as she read the article: “The 100 Most Expensive Wh…s in Moscow (with Phone Numbers and Addresses)” – followed by the comments on it (one commentator wrote in to ask why was that Drozdovets, the host of the popular talk show “Hats Off!”, wasn’t in the list – was it because of a sudden moral transformation or a temporary decline in his ratings?). Then she frowned at a strange advertisement (“Weary of the hustle and bustle of the city? In just two minutes, you can be in a pine forest. Washing lines from the Free Space factory!”), leafed through an article about the singer Shnurkov (“Why, of all the warriors doing battle against the dictatorship of the manager, was this sophisticated Che Guevara, known to many well-to-do gentlemen for his scintillating songs at exclusive corporate events, the first to point out that he was no slouch when it came to picking up on the ringtone? Because he realized that these days it’s the only way to get his ringtone playing on your iPhone, dear manager!”), then Lena read an interview with Shnurkov himself (“The composer of ‘Ham ..r that C..t’ and ‘D..k in a Con..m’ reflects on the trends and metamorphoses of contemporary Russian cinema”), and then – probably because of the tiresome countercultural profanities – she started feeling depressed and lonely, so she closed the supplemt and dived into the quiet, glossy waters of Eligible Bachelors of Russia.
Immediately she came across a large article titled “The last Russian Macho.” It was devoted to the oligarch Botvinik, whom it called “Russia’s No. 1 Eligible Bachelor.”
Lena peered, gimlet-eyed, at the photo of a stocky, chubby individual with an unnatural, bright blush right across his cheeks – as if she were trying to drill a fishing hole in the glossy surface and hook the key to some kind of secret code out of it.
“Could you love someone like that?” Asya asked, glancing into the magazine.
“Why not?” replied Lena. “You can always find something good in anyone. And when someone has a few billion dollars, you can find an awful lot of something good. You just have to look for it.”
Text entirely taken from ‘The Hall of the Singing Caryatids’ by Victor Pelevin.
Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)

Lucian Freud, Girl with a White Dog, 1952

Article provided by Grove Art Online http://www.groveart.com

Lucian Freud Interior In Paddington, 1951

British painter and draughtsman. Freud spent most of his career in Paddington, London, an inner-city area whose seediness is reflected in Freud’s often sombre and moody interiors and cityscapes. In the 1940s he was principally interested in drawing, especially the face. He experimented with Surrealism. He was also loosely associated with Neo-Romanticism. He established his own artistic identity, however, in meticulously executed realist works, imbued with a pervasive mood of alienation.
Two important paintings of 1951 established the themes and preoccupations that dominated the rest of Freud’s career: Interior in Paddington (Liverpool, Walker A.G.) and Girl with a White Dog (London, Tate). Both paintings demonstrate an eagerness to establish a highly charged situation, in which the artist is free to explore formal and optical problems rather than expressive or interpretative ones.
By the late 1950s brushmarks became spatial as he began to describe the face and body in terms of shape and structure, and often in female nudes the brushstrokes help to suggest shape. Throughout his career Freud’s palette remained distinctly muted.
A close relationship with sitters was often important for Freud. His mother sat for an extensive series in the early 1970s after she was widowed, and his daughters Bella and Esther modelled nude, together and individually. Although the human form dominated his output, Freud also executed cityscapes, viewed from his studio window, and obsessively detailed nature studies. The 1980s and early 1990s were marked by increasingly ambitious compositions in terms of both scale and complexity.
via Tate.org.uk

Goodbye To Berlin

Berlin, Unter den Linden, Victoria Hotel zwischen 1890 und 1900 (wiki)

Quella notte che dormii per strada, a Berlino, fu la notte seguente al primo giorno che vi arrivai, un mattino di sette anni fa. Faceva febbraio fuori. Avevo viaggiato in treno tutta la notte, da Hauptbahnhof Station (Monaco), attraverso la Bavaria, la Turingia, Brandeburgo, fino a Zoologischer Garten, la stazione a ovest di Berlino in cui mi fermai. Non conoscevo nessuno, non avevo un posto dove dormire, appena 250 euro dentro la tasca dei jeans.
Di Zoologischer Garten avevo letto da ragazzina in quel romanzo di Christiane F., poi diventato un film nell’81.
C’è una cosa che caratterizza e distingue i luoghi, e questa è la luce. Berlino è una città di ombre. Profuma di sporco e graffiato. E’ una scheggia tra le costole degli edifici monumentali, le costruzioni moderne, tracce di guerra, avanzi di storia nelle rovine. Il Funkturm, la Neue Synagoge, il Muro, Christopher Street Day, il Checkpoint Charlie, Good Bye Lenin. Ogni angolo di Berlino è rottura e giunzione. Il tempo è una fotografia sgualcita e accartocciata negli angoli.
Qualche settimana fa ho trovato un romanzo che ho pensato sarebbe stato bello leggere a quei tempi, Goodbye to Berlin, dello scrittore inglese Christopher Isherwood. ‘Brilliant skretches of a society in decay’, avrebbe detto George Orwell
Christopher Isherwood nasce nel 1904 a Wyberslegh Hall, High Lane, Cheshire, in North West England, da padre tenente colonnello delle armi inglesi, morto durante la prima guerra mondiale. Dopo la morte del padre, Christopher la madre e il fratello minore si trasferiscono a Londra, dove lo scrittore intraprende un corso di medicina. Isherwood inizia a scrivere da ragazzino, dapprima poesie, poi un primo romanzo, All the Conspirators, del 1928, che non riscuote grande fortuna.
In quegli anni conosce W. H. Auden, di cui si innamora e per il quale abbandona medicina e si trasferisce a Berlino, dove i due vivranno insieme, con spirito da kamikaze, fino al ’38. E’ durante gli anni trascorsi nella repubblica di Weimar che Isherwood concentra la propria produzione narrativa prima di un definitivo trasferimento in America, da dissidente, dove inizia ad occuparsi di cinema, teatro e commedia.
Qualche anno prima, al cugino francese Ferdinand Bardamu, protagonista del romanzo Viaggio al termine della notte, di Louis-Ferdinand Céline, sarebbe toccata ben altra sorte; partito per la guerra, la prima, e rientrato a Parigi dall’America, avvierà uno studio medico a La Garenne-Rancya, rinomato sobborgo parigino che farà da cornice agli sproloqui dello scrittore contenuti  in questo romanzo meraviglioso pubblicato a cavallo fra le due guerre.
Goodbye to Berlin, del 1939, è parte di una raccolta ‘The Berlin Stories’ che inquadra la società berlinese attraverso gli occhi e l’umore della gente che Isherwood incontra per strada, nei campi da golf, nei club, le sale da tea, i salotti. Quasi la guerra fosse appena un contrattempo e un fastidio, e a farla soltanto i soldati e la gente ammazzata oltre il confine. I campi di concentramento uno scherzo d’ebrei, l’omosessualità una malattia infettiva, il nazismo una preghiera, Hitler un messia.

A collection of six overlapping short stories set against the backdrop of the declining Weimar republic as Hitler rose to power. Isherwood, appearing himself as a fictional narrator, lives as a struggling author in the German capital, describing his meetings with the decadent, often doomed eccentrics, bohemians, and showgirls around him. The sense of oblivious naivety to the gathering storm around them gives his characters tremendous pathos and tragedy. The title refers not just to Isherwood’s departure from a city he clearly loved, but also to the sense that the Berlin of the early thirties was irrecoverably destroyed by the rise of the Nazis, and the destruction of the Weimar State. Isherwood is evoking an age that will never be seen again. It’s not so much a story of sorrowful departure as an obituary.

via . BOOK REVIEW CHRISTOPHER ISHERWOOD GOODBYE TO BERLIN

The Berlin Stories ispirò il regista John Van Druten a dirigere il film ‘I am a Camera’, del 1951, una commedia ‘Cabaret’, del 1966, e l’omonimo film del 1972 che valse a Liza Minelli un Academy Award per aver interpretato Sally, una giovane flapper inglese in cerca di fortuna come attrice a Berlino
E’ giusto Sally Bowles il racconto più spassoso contenuto in Goodbye to Berlin, di cui vi propongo una parte
She lived a long way down the Kurfustendamm on the last dreary stretch which rises to Halensee. I was shown into a big gloomy half-furnished room by a fat untidy landlady with a pouchy sagging jowl like a toad. There was a broken-down sofa in one corner and a faded picture of an eighteenth-century battle, with the wounded reclining on their elbows in graceful attitudes, admiring the prancings of Frederick the Great’s horse.
‘Oh, hullo, Chris darling!’ cried Sally from the doorway. ‘How sweet of you to come! I was feeling most terribly lonely. I’ve been crying on Frau Karpf’s chest. Nicht wahr, Frau Karpf?’ She appealed to the toad landlady, ‘ich habe geweint auf Dein Brust.’ Frau Karpf shook her bosom in a toad-like chuckle.
‘Would you rather have coffee, Chris, or tea?’ Sally continued. ‘You can have either. Only I don’t recommend the tea much. I don’t know what Frau Karpf does to it; I think she empties all the kitchen slops together into a jug and boils them up with the tea-leaves.’
‘I’ll have coffee, then.’
‘Frau Karpf, Liebling, willst Du sein ein Engel und bring zwei Tassen von Koffee?’ Sally’s German was not merely incorrect; it was all her own. She pronounced every word in a mincing, specially ‘foreign’ manner. You could tell that she was speaking a foreign language from her expression alone. ‘Chris darling, will you be an angel and draw the curtains?’
I did so, although it was still quite light outside. Sally, meanwhile, had switched on the table-lamp. As I turned from the window, she curled herself up delicately on the sofa like a cat, and opening her bag, felt for a cigarette. But hardly was the pose complete before she’d jumped to her feet again:
‘Would you like a Prairie Oyster?’ She produced glasses, eggs and a bottle of Worcester sauce from the boot-cupboard under the dismantled washstand: ‘I practically live on them.’ Dexterously, she broke the eggs into the glasses, added the sauce and stirred up the mixture with the end of a fountain-pen: ‘They’re about all I can afford.’ She was back on the sofa again, daintily curled up.
She was wearing the same black dress today, but without the cape. Instead, she had a little white collar and white cuffs. They produced a kind of theatrically chaste effect, like a nun in grand opera. ‘What are you laughing at, Chris?’ she asked.
‘I don’t know, ‘I said. But still I couldn’t stop grinning. There was, at that moment, something so extraordinarily comic in Sally’s appearance. She was really beautiful, with her little dark head, big eyes, and finally arched nose- and so absurdly conscious of all these features. There she lay, as complacently feminine as a turtle-dove, with her poised self-conscious head, and daintily arranged hands.
‘Chris, you swine, do tell me why you’re laughing?’
‘I really haven’t the faintest idea.’
At this, she began to laugh too:’You are mad, you know!’
‘Have you been here long? I asked, looking round the large gloomy room.
‘Ever since I arrived in Berlin. Let’s see- that was about two months ago.’
Taken from ‘Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood, 1939

Map of Dickens’ London

Appena duecento anni fa nasceva Charles Dickens e uno scrittore in grado di raccontare la società inglese con gli occhi di un bambino. Molto amato dagli inglesi, la novella The Christmas Carrol è stata argomento di interessanti speculazioni ‘socio-indagative’, lo scorso natale.
‘A decent society depends on the rich learning to be generous and the poor being saved from ignorance and want.’ (A letter to Charles Dickens on his 200th birthday|The Guardian)
Giusto sotto il periodo di natale, The Times pubblicò una mappa delle località in cui Dickens visse e inscenò alcune parti dei suoi romanzi

48 Doughty Street. Dickens and his wife, Catherine, moved here in 1837, a year after their marriage. He later described it as 'a frightfully first-class family mansion, involving awful responsibilities'. Today it houses the Charles Dickens Museum, which is open every day of the year.
Fleet Street. In his twenties Dickens as a parliamentary correspondent and reporter. Many of London's newspapers had offices here and he set up his own paper, the Daily News, at No 90 in 1846. He drank regularly ay Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which still stands at No 145

George and Vulture. An 18th-century inn where Dickens often drank, mentioned several times in The Pickwick Papers:'Mr Pickwick and Sam took up their present adobe in very good, old-fashioned, and comfortable quarters, to wit, the George and Vulture Tavern and Hotel, George Yard, Lombard Street.' Today it is a chop house
Spitalfields. Dickens pubblished a description of a visit to Spitalfields in 1851, when the weaving industry was in decline. He visited a solk warehouse with W.H.Wills, his sub-editor, and they found it 'difficult to reconcile the immense amount of capital which flows throught such a house as this -the rich stores of satin, velvets, lute strings, brocades, damasks, and other silk textures- with the poignant and often-repeated cry of povert that proceeds from this quarter'.

Seven Dials. 'From the irregular square,' Dickens wrote of this slum area in 1835, 'the streets and courts dart in all directions, until they are lost in the unwholesome vapour which hangs over the house-tops, and renders the dirty perspective uncertain and confined; and lounging every corner..are groups of people, whose appearance and dwellings would fill any mind but a regular Londoner's with astonishment.'
The Thames. On his insomnia-fuelled night walks, Dickens explored the river, where many of the city's invisible inhabitants gathered. Learning of the suicides from Waterloo Bridge, he wrote that 'the river had an awful look, the buildings on the banks were muffled in black shrounds, and the reflected lights seemed to originate deep in the water, as if the spectres of suicides were holding them to show where they went down'.

SOHO, LONDON, 1973 via RETRONAUT






All images by John H Hutchinson
Soho, London, 1973 | Retronaut.

Coffee and Cigarettes Break PlayList

Coffee and Cigarettes – A movie directed by Jim Jarmusch, 2003

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Midnight Jam
Nerves Junior – As Bright as Your Night Light
The Broken Vinyl Club – Spin Around
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life
John’s Children – I Got The Buzz
Matt Berry – So low

V&A Exploring Photography – John Deakin

J.Deakin, Lucian Freud, Mid 1950's
J.Deakin, Rosalind Windebank, Mid 1950's

John Deakin made portraits of celebrities and of his bohemian circle of friends in London’s Soho in the early 1950’s. Deakin wanted to be a painter rather than a photographer and neglected his photographs: the majority have been destroyed or damaged. In part, his attitude reflected the general status of photography in Britain in the 1950’s, as an undervalued artistic medium. After his dismissal from Vogue he photographed street scenes in Paris and Rome. Deakin’s reputation was re-evaluated following an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1984.

via V&A Exploring Photography – John Deakin
John Deakin – A Database

A Terrible Beauty

‘I feel at home here in this chaos because chaos suggests images to me’
Francis Bacon
On Bacon, The Logic Of Sensation by Deleuze

The Turk’s Opening Move

Attributed to Titian – Suleiman the Magnificant - Ottoman Sultan (c. 1539)

“It’s difficult to imagine an attraction more likely to appeal to the Londoners of 1783 than Kempelen’s chess-playing automaton. For in addiction to being a great center for chess, London was renowned for its enthusiasm for public displays of automata and other technological marvels. The arcades of Piccadilly, the streets of St.James’s, and the squares of Mayfair were home to several remarkable exhibitions of automata and other curiosities, open daily to the paying public.”

acclamato in tutta Europa dall’alta società illuminata di fine settecento, il Turco, un automa di legno, azionato all’interno da un complesso meccanismo di ingranaggi a carica, elegantemente vestito in abiti orientali, e perfettamente in grado di giocare a scacchi autonomamente, deve la propria fortuna all’ingegno di un grande uomo di talento e ambizione, l’ungherese di nascita Wolfgang von Kempelen, ufficiale di corte presso l’imperatrice Maria Teresa d’Austria.
The Turk, dello scrittore inglese Tom Standage (tomstandage.com), racconta di questa meravigliosa invenzione d’avvio alla progettazione di macchine più sofisticate utilizzate nei decenni a seguire, durante la prima fase della rivoluzione industriale; non solo, Il Turco anticipa di secoli la possibilità di creare delle macchine in grado di un’intelligenza artificiale (questo un meraviglioso articolo che si interroga circa gli humanoid robots e le ‘proprietà cognitive’ delle macchine: The Minds of Machines | Philosophy Now.)
La progettazione di automi risale agli inizi del 1700, ancora prima al quindicesimo secolo, quando già Leonardo da Vinci crea le bozze di un progetto straordinariamente visionario, una macchina volante studiata sulle sembianze di uccelli e pipistrelli (FLYING MACHINES – Leonardo da Vinci)
Gli automi creati all’inizio del diciottesimo secolo si basavano su complicati e pesanti meccanismi simili nel funzionamento a degli orologi; alcuni di questi così straordinariamente ben fatti da essere all’origine di curiose leggende; Standage racconta di un’automa capace di suonare l’arpa e invitato alla corte del re francese Luigi XV, il quale si disse talmente estasiato dalla bravura di questi da volerne scoprire in dettaglio il meccanismo. Aperta la macchina, il re vi trovò all’interno un bambino di cinque anni.
Il Turco fu soprattutto all’origine di interessanti dibattiti che stimolarono matematici, ingegneri e pensatori a comprenderne funzionalità ed eventuali applicazioni future; a rendere l’automa affascinante era specialmente l’incredibile maestria di cui era capace nel gioco degli scacchi (ragione per cui i più scettici dubitarono del genio di Wolfgang von Kempelen assumendo a un inganno e a un segreto, mai rivelato del tutto). L’automa non era solo in grado di giocare a scacchi, ma di vincere almeno otto partite su dieci e tante furono le personalità che vi si trovarono a perdere una partita contro; fra questi Benjamin Franklin (grande appassionato di scacchi e autore del saggio ‘The Moral of Chess‘), Caterina la Grande– Imperatrice di Russia, Charles Babbage, persino Edgard Allan Poe e più tardi l’imperatore Napoleone, in quello che fu un tour di partite e spettacoli intorno all’Europa e fino in America, a cavallo tra illuminismo e romantico futurismo.

“Of all the cities of Europe, two were renowned for their enthusiasm for chess during the eighteenth century: Paris and London. Chess had been a popular pastime in coffeehouses in both cities since the beginning of the century and enjoyed a period of heightened popularity in the 1770s and 1780s, when it became extremely fashionable in high society. As the nearer of the two cities to Vienna, Paris was the logical place for the first stop on the Turk’s tour of Europe.
As the French writer Denis Diderot put it in 1761, “Paris is the place in the world, and the Café de la Régence the place in Paris where this game is played best.” The Café de la Régence was a coffeehouse founded in the 1680s, and by the 1740s it had become the most prominent haunt of chess players in the city. Well-known intellectuals who were regulars at the café over the years included the philosophers Voltaire and Jean- Jacques Rousseau, the American statesman scientist Benjamin Franklin, and even the young Napoleon Bonaparte.”
taken from ‘The Turk’ by Tom Standage, chap. three, ‘A Most Charming Contraption’

Perspectives Of Nudes

Bill Brandt - Nude. London, 1958

Ho per le mani ‘Perspectives of Nudes‘, una raccolta fotografica di nudi realizzata nel 1961 da Bill Brandt, fotografo inglese, di origini tedesche, cui lavoro ricorda le Distorsioni di Kertész, e riflette le influenze del movimento surrealista, pioniere Man Ray, di cui Brandt sarà amico durante gli anni trascorsi a Parigi, prima di un definitivo trasferimento a Londra, dove lavorerà come reporter.
‘When I began to photograph nudes, I let myself be guided by this camera, and instead of photographing what I saw, I photographed what the camera was seeing. I interfered very little, and the lens produced anatomical images and shapes which my eyes had never observed.
I felt that I understood what Orson Welles meant when he said ‘the camera is much more than a recording apparatus. It is a medium via which messages reach us from another world’. For over fifteen years I was now preoccupied with photographing nudes. I learned very much from my old Kodak. It taught me how to use acute distortion to convey the weight of a body or the lightness of a movement. In the end, it had also taught me how to use modem cameras in an unorthodox way, and for the last chapter of my book Perspective of Nudes which was published in 1961, I discarded the Kodak altogether.
These last pictures are close-ups of parts of the body, photographed in the open air, I saw knees and elbows, legs and fists as rocks and pebbles which blended with cliffs and became an imaginary landscape.’

Questo slideshow richiede JavaScript.

“It is part of the photographer’s job to see more intensely than most people do. He must have and keep in him something of the receptiveness of a child who looks at the world for the first time or of the traveler who enters a strange country… We are most of us too busy, too worried, too intent on proving ourselves right, too obsessed with ideas to stand and stare… Very rarely are we able to free our minds of thoughts and emotions and just see for the simple pleasure of seeing. And so long as we fail to do this, so long will the essence of things be hidden from us” – B.Brandt

L’ ARTE DEL CIBO IN SCATOLA


Le volte che rientro a casa da lavoro, esausta, e ho voglia di niente ma distrarmi, io mi collego a youtube e vado a caccia di tutorials; guardare della gente, che fa delle cose, mi solleva da quel senso di colpa, tanto borghese quanto proletario, che è fare nulla ma oziare. In questo caso assorbire, passivamente, tutto quello che vedo e mi viene detto di fare. Come guardare la televisione, emblema dell’egualitarismo sociale. La tv si rivolge indistintamente a tutti e alla stessa maniera;  non implica necessariamente nessuna forma di partecipazione attiva, interazione dialettica, nessuno scambio di opinioni. Non si incazza neanche, se non la state ad ascoltare. Il più delle volte esige soltanto voi spegniate il cervello, e la lasciate parlare. Per certi versi, direbbero alcuni uomini, è la compagna ideale.
Comprendere l’incredibile varietà di tutorials in un’unica lista, richiederebbe un tempo e una pazienza che io non ho; vale comunque la pena segnalare quelli di maggiore utilità che mi è capitato, ieri, di trovare su youtube
How to be a Ninja (di cui è utile conoscere i principi base per quando, per esempio, donne, rientrate a casa, da sole, la notte; o semplicemente quelle volte che cercate di far capire a un uomo che non ci state, ma se proprio insiste…)
How to make an Origami Boomerang (che torna utile sapere per le stesse ragioni di cui sopra)
How to be a Gangster (utile da sapere per quando giocate a Tangentopoli)
How to write like an architect (chicca consigliata agli aspiranti scrittori in dubbio su come costruire la trama di un romanzo)
How to deactivate a cat (..)
I tutorials che mi appassionano maggiormente sono quelli di cucina; mi pare cucinare una delle poche cose che ha ancora un senso fare. Perchè risponde a un bisogno primordiale, quello di nutrirsi, e consiste in un’equazione di gioia quasi perfetta: ci sono degli ingredienti, delle quantità, un procedimento, un risultato finale = l’estasi del palato.
Su youtube ce n’è per tutti i gusti; uno dei suggerimenti più quotati, è quello di utilizzare ingredienti assolutamente freschi e genuini. A quanti vivono in città, e si lamentano del cibo spazzatura, va riportata una notizia di oggi su tutti i giornali londinesi, che smentirebbe i timori infondati di ciascuno circa la freschezza e la qualità del cibo distribuito nei fast food; un tale che stava pranzando ieri da Nando’s, avrebbe avuto il culo di trovare una rana, oltre che fresca, viva, e in salute, dentro una chicken wrap (se mai qualcuno dubitasse ancora della qualità del cibo spazzatura)
Cucinare è un arte. La scelta degli alimenti, degli odori, la cura e l’attenzione nel seguire i diversi passaggi di preparazione. Di questi tempi mangiare bene è un lusso, talvolta un privilegio riservato a pochi; il prezzo dei prodotti alimentari sembra salire giorno per giorno, mentre quello dello scatolame addirittura abbassarsi. La ragione? Sovrapproduzione industriale. Le risorse diminuiscono, l’industrializzazione degli spazi si estende a macchia d’olio. Avanti di questo passo finiremo per nutrirci di solo scatolame e di cibo creato e manipolato in laboratorio.
Ieri ho trovato un video di cucina curioso per diverse ragioni. L’utente, mystery chef, è una signora americana, a cui vanno riconosciuti i meriti che furono di Andy Warhol nello spacciare per arte una lattina di Campbell’s soup. In questo caso, un tutorial di cucina per un contributo al post modernismo.
Beef and noodles. Enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/user/mysterychef1#p/u/10/lAwh5qyGEro

Black Friday Advertisement: Shop Till You Drop


A new stencil of  Banksy has been spotted in London. The work takes the phrase “shop till you drop” literally, depicting a shopper plunging from a high rise building. The COPS AGAINST CUTS piece at ground level is also of interest

The Importance Of Music To Girls

Questo di Lavinia Greenlaw (poetessa, novellista, giornalista inglese, di Londra) è una compilation di racconti a tinte pop, in forma di diario, con a tema centrale la musica e i ricordi d’adolescenza e d’infanzia, ad essa legati; la prima volta che la scrittrice si innamora, le scorribande con gli amici, le cacce all’ultimo Lp punk, la volta in cui balla un waltz piedi-sui-piedi del padre, tema del primo racconto d’apertura al libro.
Lavinia Greenlaw racconta dell’importanza della musica nella sua vita
‘If I had not kissed anyone, or danced with anyone, or had a reason to cry, the music made me feel as if I had gone through all that anyway’

  My papa’s waltz

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.
Theodore Roethke, ‘My Papa’s Waltz’

I remember the dancing of my earliest years in silence, as about the body alone. My father must have hummed a tune as I stood on his shoes and he waltzed me, but what I remember are the giant steps I was suddenly making. The world rose up under one foot and pushed my body to one side as that foot set off in a high violent arc. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to follow but at the last moment the world gathered up the rest of me. And so it went on: the world pulled and shoved while I lurched and stretched.
This was not a gentle game, which was why we four children loved it. We liked to be thrown about- by a rollercoaster, slide or swing, in a rough sea, on a trampoline, or by grownups who in moving us at their force and speed, gave us a taste of the dimensions of adult life. We had a young uncle who played less carefully than my father. He would take me by the hands and spin me round like a teacloth full of wet lettuce until I thought my arms would be wrenched from their sockets. As the pain bunched in my shoulders and my brain shrank, I was amazed that such movement was possible. I wasn’t scared. I knew that I could break and had an idea of what it felt like to break, but I also knew I wasn’t going to.
The waltz was more interesting than other such games because its force had to be met. It depended upon the tension between trying not to move and letting yourself be moved. I trod down hard on my father’s shoes, braced my arms and dug my nails into his shirt-cuffs like someone finding a hold on a cliff. This is the starting point of dance: something- the music, the steps, your partner- holds you but you also have to hold it and to achieve the necessary tension, hold yourself against it.
A lot of my childhood was about being held back or slowed down. It took hours to leave the house as to get us all ready, and keep us ready, was like trying to keep four plates spinning. Someone lost a glove or refused their coat, was cross or hungry or needed a clean nanny. We spent a lot of time waiting -to be delivered or collected, for the school day to end or the night to be over. We moved in caravan formation and at the speed of camels, taking two days to drive the 250 miles from London to the west coast of Wales, pottering along in a pair of Morris Travellers.
Once released, we were fizzy and impatient. If something was high we climbed it and jumped off; if it was steep we hurtled down it on cycles, sledges or trays. We ran or rolled down any hill we came to regardless of nettles, glass, dog shit or stones. If the landscape filled up with rain, leaves, fog or snow, we continued to move through it as fast as we could, not fearing what might now be concealed.
Every now and then the world gathered itself in refusal. I slammed into it and got hurt. At four, I went down a slide sucking on a bamboo garden cane which hit the ground before I did. The top two inches jammed into the roof of my mouth and I stood over a basin and watched it fill up with blood, feeling nothing, interested only in my sister offering me a teddy bear she would not normally part with. When I woke up after the operation to remove the piece of cane, I was curious only about the coal fire opposite my bed and the taste of hospital ice-cream.
For a long time, this accident was just something that had happened to my mouth. Other people had to make the connections for me.
‘That cane was lodged very close to your brain,’my mother later said. ‘We could tell you were more or less alright but the surgeons didn’t know if they could remove it without doing any damage.’
My brother added, ‘It’s why people shoot themselves that way.’
‘And it could have affected your speech,’ continued my mother,’ by changing the shape of the roof of your mouth.’
Being pushed out of shape made me realise that I had a shape to return to, like my toy cat who sat on a drum and whose parts were kept in tension by elastic. If I pressed the underneath of the drum, the cat fell to its knees or slumped to one side. I let go and the cat sprang to one side as if jiving. I was fascinated by the instant way it changed shape and then snapped back, and by the ambiguity of its bright little face- so eager to please and yet so imperturbable.
My body had felt like that of the toy cat, an arrangement of parts. I would watch my hand touch the bar of an electric fire or my foot trad on a nail, and discover that they belonged to me. I now knew that my mouth shaped my voice and that my brain was right there, just above it. I saw this most clearly thirty years later on a X-ray which showed that instead of arching back to cradle my skull, the vertebrate at the top of my spine thrust my head forward. In that accident, my head had been thrown back so abruptly that it had been compensating ever since, leaving me with the feeling of being precipitate, of tipping into rather than entering the next moment, thought or sentence.
So the body adds up and the world reminds you of the body’s limits, although it can be surprisingly kind. At eight I jumped through a window and can still remember how the glass billowed and held me before it exploded. I was mid-air, I had escaped the person I was running away from, and I was being held. Nothing has seemed as peaceful since. I stepped out of that ring of shattered glass like a corpse from a chalk silhouette and walked away with a cut on each knee.
These collisions with the world taught me its substance and laws as well as my own. I had danced before I knew what my body was, and did not understand what moved me. It was not music yet.
Taken from The Importance of Music to Girls, by Lavinia Greenlaw, 2007
The web site of poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw.

London Jazz Festival 2011

E’ iniziato ieri il London Jazz Festival, nove giorni di concerti ed eventi dedicati al jazz e ai più grandi musicisti contemporanei; fra questi Matthew Halsall, trobettista inglese, di Manchester, che andrò a vedere in concerto lunedì notte, al Barfly.
Questi i links per seguire l’evento
Jazz, World and Contemporary Music • London Jazz Festival.
London Jazz Festival 2008.
questo il link del jazzwise, a british and cool jazz zine
Jazzwise Magazine.
Di Matthew Halsall,’Music For A Dancing Mind’, off l’album ‘On The Go’, di quest’anno.
Se c’è una cosa che più di tutte mi piace, del jazz, è l’umore- lunare. E il temperamento, impulsivo.
A tratti furioso, a tratti malinconico. Irrequieto.
Slancio di nervi e passione. Scatto d’ira, e gioia, e follia.
Come in questo pezzo.

Lines of beauty: the art of Sylvia Plath

View of chimney-pots, gables and artist's skylights from Room 26
Tabac Opposite Palais De Justice
Cambridge.A view of Gables and Chimney-Pots
Boat off Rock Harbour, Cape Cod

“Although my mother is known primarily for her semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar and her poetry – particularly her last collection, Ariel, published posthumously in 1965 following her suicide on 11 February 1963 – her passion for art permeated her short life. Her early letters and diary notes and poems were often heavily decorated, and she hoped that her drawings would illustrate the articles and stories that she wrote for publication.”

via Lines of beauty: the art of Sylvia Plath | Books | The Observer.
Sam Leith on Sylvia Plath’s drawings | Books | The Guardian.
Images taken from The Mayor Gallery.

Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery

Salvador Dalì as Mona Lisa photographed by Philippe Halsman

Renaissance man though he undoubtedly was, Leonardo da Vinci was very much a part-time artist. Among the wrecks and ruins and dubious attributions, Leonardo produced very few paintings – around 20, about some of which scholarly debate continues. There are nine in the National Gallery exhibition, all dated from his years in Milan, as well as Giampietrino‘s almost 8 metre-wide 1520 scale copy of Leonardo’s 1492-8 Last Supper.

via Leonardo da Vinci at the National Gallery – the greatest show of the year? | Art and design | The Guardian.
Leonardo in London: Da Vinci comes to the National Gallery – in pictures | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

della plutocrazia e gli zombie in guantino paiettato


a dozen or so protesters wearing tattered suits and white zombie makeup performed a clunkily choreographed mass dance routine to the tinny sound of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, waving a huge, black banner saying: “Dancing on the grave of capitalism.”

via Occupy London protesters keen to regain focus on the City and bankers | UK news | The Guardian.
Dallo scorso 15 ottobre, circa 200 tende di attivisti inglesi campeggiano nello spiazzale della cattedrale St. Paul, la chiesa più famosa compresa nel distretto finanziario di Londra. Il movente della contestazione è la lotta al capitalismo, l’affermazione dei diritti sociali, delle classi oppresse.
Giusto stamattina the City of London Corporation, il corpo civico responsabile del distretto finanziario, ha dato un ultimatum di 48 ore perchè The Occupy London Stock Exchange (OLSX) protesters, liberino la piazza dalle tende e ritirino la protesta, pena un’azione giudizia.
Quello che più di tutto fa scalpore ed è all’origine dei dibattiti più accesi, è la decisione di chiudere le porte della cattedrale, per ragioni di salute e sicurezza, e appena un tentativo di giunta, da parte della chiesa, all’azione legale della London Corporation, stamattina sospesa definitivamente tramite un comunicato.
Quello che è interessante considerare, è il dualismo della protesta e il paradosso degli opposti. Da una parte un gruppo di contestatori si riconosce schiavo dell’economia, e per ribellarsi al capitalismo chiede coalizione alla Chiesa – idealmente- rifugio degli oppressi. Dall’altra la chiesa non tollera la disobbedienza civile, si schiera dalla parte dell’ordine pubblico -letteralmente- chiude le porte in faccia ai contestatori, il dialogo coi cittadini, e prende le distanze dalle questioni finanziare del pease.
Quello che è interessante considerare, ancora, è l’opposizione di alcuni esponenti della chiesa, contrari ai provvedimenti del Chapter, il “corpo amministrativo” della cattedrale; secondo questi ultimi la chiesa deve assolutamente schierarsi dalla parte degli oppressi, dare rifugio ai cittadini di dio, accogliere il dialogo, convertire gli oppressori al bene comune.
Interessante quest’articolo della bbc, che raccoglie le dichiarazioni di alcuni degli esponenti della chiesa anglicana

However ai protestanti viene kindly suggerito di traslocare le tende e indirizzare la contestazione, semmai, direttamente alle banche.
E’ a questo punto della questione che il dibattito rivela un elemento magico: l’apriti-sesamo dell’incantesimo finanziario -plutocrazia
(dal greco πλουτοκρατία, “πλούτος”, ricchezza, e κρατείν “krateìn” potere), il predominio nella vita pubblica di individui o gruppi finanziari che, grazie all’ampia disponibilità di capitali, sono in grado d’influenzare in maniera determinante gli indirizzi politici dei rispettivi governi.
via Plutocrazia – Wikipedia.
il dibattito scopre le carte a un sottosistema , una casta, a volerla dire all’italiana, di tipo medievale, The City of London.
What is this thing? Ostensibly it’s the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, “among local authorities the City of London is unique”. You bet it is. There are 25 electoral wards in the Square Mile. In four of them, the 9,000 people who live within its boundaries are permitted to vote. In the remaining 21, the votes are controlled by corporations, mostly banks and other financial companies. The bigger the business, the bigger the vote: a company with 10 workers gets two votes, the biggest employers, 79. It’s not the workers who decide how the votes are cast, but the bosses, who “appoint” the voters. Plutocracy, pure and simple.

via The medieval, unaccountable Corporation of London is ripe for protest | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian.
Altro che i trucchetti del maghetto Potter

John Atkinson Grimshaw, Painter of MoonLight

John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Leeds-born painter famous for his moonlit city scenes and landscapes. In 1861, and in the face of parental opposition, Grimshaw left his job as a clerk to pursue a career in art.
He began exhibiting in 1862 under the patronage of Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. He retained strong links with the city throughout his life and is buried in Woodhouse cemetery.
Working in the tradition of Pre-Raphaelite art, Grimshaw demonstrated an attention to detail, matched to a remarkable skill in rendering lighting effects, which ensured his success.
By the 1880s Grimshaw had a studio in Chelsea near James Whistler who, whilst painting in a starkly different style, praised the undoubted effectiveness of his moonlit scenes.
Unlike the Pre-Raphaelite artists, Grimshaw painted the modern world, but his scenes of the docks of Liverpool and Glasgow, sharply focussed and theatrically lit, create a lyrical, romantic mood.
Grimshaw’s artistic reputation has suffered the same decline as many of his contemporaries, but there has recently been a revival of interest in his work, reflected in the major exhibition taking place at Harrogate’s Mercer Art Gallery in 2011 as part of Art in Yorkshire – supported by Tate.
via Art In Yorkshire
John Atkinson Grimshaw – The complete works.

Going Home at Dusk, 1882 - John Atkinson Grimshaw

Related articles

An inflatable pink pig, which was made famous on the sleeve of the 1976 Pink Floyd album 'Animals', and flies once again over Battersea Power Station in south west London, Monday, Sept. 26 2011, 35 years later, to announce the launch of the reissue and collector's edition of "Why Pink Floyd....?"

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza più scosse.
Ma perciocché giammai di questa fondo
Non tornò vivo alcun, s’i’ odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Allora andiamo, tu ed io,
Quando la sera si stende contro il cielo
Come un paziente eterizzato disteso su una tavola;
Andiamo, per certe strade semideserte,
Mormoranti ricoveri
Di notti senza riposo in alberghi di passo a poco prezzo
E ristoranti pieni di segatura e gusci d’ostriche;
Strade che si succedono come un tedioso argomento
Con l’insidioso proposito
Di condurti a domande che opprimono…
Oh, non chiedere « Cosa? »
Andiamo a fare la nostra visita.

Nella stanza le donne vanno e vengono
Parlando di Michelangelo.

La nebbia gialla che strofina la schiena contro i vetri,
Il fumo giallo che strofina il suo muso contro i vetri
Lambì con la sua lingua gli angoli della sera,
Indugiò sulle pozze stagnanti negli scoli,
Lasciò che gli cadesse sulla schiena la fuliggine che cade dai camini,
Scivolò sul terrazzo, spiccò un balzo improvviso,
E vedendo che era una soffice sera d’ottobre
S’arricciolò attorno alla casa, e si assopì.

E di sicuro ci sarà tempo
Per il fumo giallo che scivola lungo la strada
Strofinando la schiena contro i vetri;
Ci sarà tempo, ci sarà tempo
Per prepararti una faccia per incontrare le facce che incontri;
Ci sarà tempo per uccidere e creare,
E tempo per tutte le opere e i giorni delle mani
Che sollevano e lasciano cadere una domanda sul tuo piatto;
Tempo per te e tempo per me,
E tempo anche per cento indecisioni,
E per cento visioni e revisioni,
Prima di prendere un tè col pane abbrustolito

Nella stanza le donne vanno e vengono
Parlando di Michelangelo.

E di sicuro ci sarà tempo
Di chiedere, « Posso osare? » e, « Posso osare? »
Tempo di volgere il capo e scendere la scala,
Con una zona calva in mezzo ai miei capelli –
(Diranno: « Come diventano radi i suoi capelli! »)
Con il mio abito per la mattina, con il colletto solido che arriva fino al mento,
Con la cravatta ricca e modesta, ma asseríta da un semplice spillo –
(Diranno: « Come gli son diventate sottili le gambe e le braccia! »)
Oserò
Turbare l’universo?
In un attimo solo c’è tempo
Per decisioni e revisioni che un attimo solo invertirà

Perché già tutte le ho conosciute, conosciute tutte: –
Ho conosciuto le sere, le mattine, i pomeriggi,
Ho misurato la mia vita con cucchiaini da caffè;
Conosco le voci che muoiono con un morente declino
Sotto la musica giunta da una stanza più lontana.
Così, come potrei rischiare?
E ho conosciuto tutti gli occhi, conosciuti tutti –
Gli occhi che ti fissano in una frase formulata,
E quando sono formulato, appuntato a uno spillo,
Quando sono trafitto da uno spillo e mi dibatto sul muro
Come potrei allora cominciare
A sputar fuori tutti i mozziconi dei miei giorni e delle mie abitudini? .
Come potrei rischiare?
E ho già conosciuto le braccia, conosciute tutte –
Le braccia ingioiellate e bianche e nude
(Ma alla luce di una lampada avvilite da una leggera peluria bruna!)
E’ il profumo che viene da un vestito
Che mi fa divagare a questo modo?
Braccia appoggiate a un tavolo, o avvolte in uno scialle.
Potrei rischiare, allora?-
Come potrei cominciare?

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Direi, ho camminato al crepuscolo per strade strette
Ed ho osservato il fumo che sale dalle pipe
D’uomini solitari in maniche di camicia affacciati alle finestre?…

Avrei potuto essere un paio di ruvidi artigli
Che corrono sul fondo di mari silenziosi

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

E il pomeriggio, la sera, dorme così tranquillamente!
Lisciata da lunghe dita,
Addormentata… stanca… o gioca a fare la malata,
Sdraiata sul pavimento, qui fra te e me.
Potrei, dopo il tè e le paste e, i gelati,
Aver la forza di forzare il momento alla sua crisi?
Ma sebbene abbia pianto e digiunato, pianto e pregato,
Sebbene abbia visto il mio capo (che comincia un po’ a perdere i capelli)
Portato su un vassoio,
lo non sono un profeta – e non ha molta importanza;
Ho visto vacillare il momento della mia grandezza,
E ho visto l’eterno Lacchè reggere il mio soprabito ghignando,
E a farla breve, ne ho avuto paura.

E ne sarebbe valsa la pena, dopo tutto,
Dopo le tazze, la marmellata e il tè,
E fra la porcellana e qualche chiacchiera
Fra te e me, ne sarebbe valsa la pena
D’affrontare il problema sorridendo,
Di comprimere tutto l’universo in una palla
E di farlo rotolare verso una domanda che opprime,
Di dire: « lo sono Lazzaro, vengo dal regno dei morti,
Torno per dirvi tutto, vi dirò tutto » –
Se una, mettendole un cuscino accanto al capo,
Dicesse: « Non è per niente questo che volevo dire.
Non è questo, per niente. »
E ne sarebbe valsa la pena, dopo tutto,
Ne sarebbe valsa la pena,
Dopo i tramonti e i cortili e le strade spruzzate di pioggia,
Dopo i romanzi, dopo le tazze da tè, dopo le gonne strascicate sul pavimento
E questo, e tante altre cose? –
E’ impossibile dire ciò che intendo!
Ma come se una lanterna magica proiettasse il disegno dei nervi su uno schermo:
Ne sarebbe valsa la pena
Se una, accomodandosi un cuscino o togliendosi uno scialle,
E volgendosi verso la finestra, dicesse:
« Non è per niente questo,
Non è per niente questo che volevo dire. »

. . . . . . . . . . .

No! lo non sono il Principe Amleto, né ero destinato ad esserlo;
Io sono un cortigiano, sono uno
Utile forse a ingrossare un corteo, a dar l’avvio a una scena o due,
Ad avvisare il principe; uno strumento facile, di certo,
Deferente, felice di mostrarsi utile,
Prudente, cauto, meticoloso;
Pieno di nobili sentenze, ma un po’ ottuso;
Talvolta, in verità, quasi ridicolo –
E quasi, a volte, il Buffone.

Divento vecchio… divento vecchio…
Porterò i pantaloni arrotolati in fondo.

Dividerò i miei capelli sulla nuca? Avrò il coraggio di mangiare una pesca?
Porterò pantaloni di flanella bianca, e camminerò sulla spiaggia.
Ho udito le sirene cantare l’una all’altra.

Non credo che canteranno per me.

Le ho viste al largo cavalcare l’onde
Pettinare la candida chioma dell’onde risospinte:
Quando il vento rigonfia l’acqua bianca e nera.

Ci siamo troppo attardati nelle camere del mare
Con le figlie del mare incoronate d’alghe rosse e brune
Finché le voci umane ci svegliano, e anneghiamo.

Thomas Stearns “T. S.” Eliot (1915)

Trafalgar Square, London by Jordan Rodgers
Oxford Street, London, England by Jordan Rodgers
Margaret Street, London, England by Jordan Rodgers
Leicester Square, London by Jordan Rodgers

via saatchionline.com
The reduction and removal of barriers between national borders by observing cities through live feed monitors as a means to record what one can see. Questioning ones location in relation to what can be seen at that particular moment.
[Jordan Rodgers]

Postmodernism: the 10 key moments in the birth of a movement | Art and design | The Guardian

Clare Strand, from the series Signs of a Struggle, 2002. Gelatin silver print.(via photoworks.org.uk)

White Bicycles

UFO Club ticket, published on the cover of International Times,Feb 1967

The Sixties began in the summer of 1956,ended in October of 1973 and peaked just before dawn on 1 july,1967 during a set by Tomorrow at the UFO Club in London
detto fatto,Joe Boyd lascia White Bicycles pedalare indietro di quarant’anni per le Swinging streets di una London in piena rivoluzione culturale. Semmai vi chiedeste cosa questo abbia potuto significare, Boyd ve lo racconta e dalle quinte di un piccolo club in Tottenham Court Road; LSD, Psychedelia e Rock,mods hippies hipsters e groupies, Folk and Funk and Blues: The Sixties,folks
Pink Floyd,Soft Machine,The Incredible String Band,John Martin,Fairport Convention,Nick Drake fra gli artisti che Joe Boyd lancia in pista in qualità di produttore discografico e dj; centinaia i concerti organizzati in Inghilterra e America; the Purple Gang,Procol Harum, Pretty Things, Jeff Beck,Ten Years Later, Tomorrow, le bands e i solisti presenti alle serate dell’UFO-Tottenham Court Road palcoscenico di uno spettacolo epocale,la musica si sveste finalmente del pudore,osceno e adolescenziale,degli swinging e si scopre a ballare nuda per strada, più che mai irriverente e smaliziata.
Make love,not riots-avrebbero detto allora
Sotto una parte del libro tratta dal primo capitolo

The Sixties began in the summer of 1956,ended in October of 1973 and peaked just before dawn on 1 july,1967 during a set by Tomorrow at the UFO Club in London.
John Hopkins and I had launched the weekly UFO events at an Irish dance hall in Tottenham Court Road just before Christmas in 1966,and they had quickly become the hub of psychedelic London. BY April,our resident attraction,Pink Floyd,had outgrown us,so I was always on the lookout for new groups. I saw Tomorrow at Blaises one night and thought they were pretty good.When they made their UFO debut on 19 May it was love at first sight between them and our audience. Steve Howe,later to make his name and fortune with Yes, played guitar, while Twink, a key figure in the genesis of punk,was the drummer. I don’t know what became of Junior, the bass player, but his mad-eyed, don’t-give-a-fuck presence in a string vest was a key element in their appeal. Lead singer Keith West had a solo hit that summer with ‘Excerpt From A Teenage Opera,Part 1’(Groger Jack,Groger Jack,please come back…’) and did his best to maintain a pop-star presence while around him the group was morphing into something quite different. ‘My White Bicycle’,a tribute to the free transport provided by Amsterdam’s revolutionary provos, was their new theme song, while Howe’s solos got longer and Twink’s drumming even wilder.
A month or two earlier,I would never have gone to Blaises and Tomorrow would barely have heard of UFO.Everything was accelerating that spring. New drugs,clothes,music and clubs. The psychedelic underground and the pop scene were starting to overlap. UFO crowds were bigger each week, and it was getting hard to maintain the original atmosphere. It was also difficult to ignore the increased attention from the police: the longer the queues, the more customers were getting frisked and busted.
Hoppy ran UFO’s light tower,records between shows,putting on Kurosawa samurai films at 3 a.m. and troubleshooting around the club while I stayed near the entrance and trousered the money. When plainclothes policemen asked to have a look around, I would state our policy: no search warrant, no entry. (There was nothing to prevent them from merging with the crowds and paying their way in,of course UFO’s ads often touted a ‘spot the fuzz’ competitions). As for Mr Gannon, our landlord at the Blarney Club, he felt the case of whiskey delivered to Goodge Street police station every Christmas should take care of them well enough.
A few weeks before Tomorrow’s return visit on 30 June, a uniformed bobby turned up, asking to be allowed in the collect clothes left behind by a man being held in custody. This made sense: half and hour earlier, a naked guy had bolted past me up the stairs and disappeared into the night. Hoppy and I agreed that an exception could be made, so I told the audience we were going to let the fuzz in to look for the clothes and turn on the overhead lights (murmurs and booing). As the crowd spread out in a wide circle, some garments could be seen scattered around the floor. The young bobby seemed to blush as he glanced at the crowd, a vivid cross-section of ‘London Freak’ circa May 1967: long hair on the boys,flowered dresses on the girls,Arabian or Indian shirts,a few kaftans,jeans,even a few white shirts and khaki slacks. Many were tripping; most were laughing or grinning.
The laughter grew as it became clear that the bobby’s hastily gathered armful contained more than was required to make his prisoner decent: two or three pairs of underpants (gender undetermined), a couple of shirts, a bra,several socks,etc. As he made his way to the door, the working class constable regarded us with amazement, not hatred. We, in turn,regretted that he could not grasp why we took drugs and danced in the lights,lived for the moment and regarded our fellow man with benign tolerance, even love. That was the theory, anyway. Tested, it would come undone in the ensuing years, even as the bobby’s mates donned kaftans, rolled joins and joined the crows at festivals.
The first man I knew to take hallucinogens was Eric Von Schmidts.Mailorder packages of peyote buds from Moore’s Orchid Farm in Texas arrived periodically at the Von Schmidt apartment near Harvard Square. He would cook them up in a pot and invite friends over to drink the soup. They would stack some LPs on the record player-Ali Akbar Khan, Lord Buckley,Chopin, the Swan Silverstones, Lightning Hopkins-then drink the potion and try not to be sick. If you couldn’t keep it down you weren’t, in Eric’s view,calm enough (‘centred’had not yet been used in this context) to deserve the high. It was an experience meant for an intellectual and spiritual elite, not the masses (although he certainly would have never put it in that way).
The market is too efficient, of course,to limit transcendence to people who can stomach peyote. Down the street from Eric’s flat in 1962 was the laboratory of Professor Timothy Leary, who advertised in the Harvard Crimson for volunteers to take LSD at a dollar an hour and was determined to become the Johnny Appleseed of hallucinogens. By 1967, pure, powerful LSD tabs were still available while adulterated, amphetamine-laced concoctions were starting to be widely distributed. Few bothered about how elevated the experience might be.
In June that year, a New of the world reporter tipped off Scotland Yard about a ‘drugs-and-sex’ at Keith Richards’place and was rewarded with a ringside seat at the raid. It has become the stuff of legend: Mars bars threesome, Marianne Faithfull naked under a fur rug,etc..a symbol of out-of-control decadence. The media stopped winking and grinning about “Swinging London” and started wallowing in horror stories about teenagers being led astray. Sgt Pepper was the world’s soundtrack that month and powerful Establishment figures were horrified by the implications of influential pop stars’ open fondness for drugs.
Taken From White Bicycles,by Joe Boyd,2006
Joe Boyd – Record Producer/Writer.

Opera del Caso #3

Floral pattern. Evenlode chintz (ca. 1883) Design by William Morris
La Belle Iseult 1858 Oil on canvas( 718 x 502 mm), William Morris

[image credit: Lessing Photo Archive]

La Belle Iseult 1858 Oil on canvas; 718 x 502 mm The inspiration for this painting was Thomas Malory‘s ‘Morte d’Arthur’ (1485), in which Guinevere’s adulterous love for Sir Lancelot is one of the central themes. The model is Jane Burden who became Morris’s wife in 1859, and also appears in Rossetti‘s ‘Proserpine’ displayed nearby. She was ‘discovered’ by Morris and Rossetti when they were working together on the Oxford Union murals, the subject matter for which was also taken from Malory. The painting is essentially a portrait of her in medieval dress. It is a splendid expresion of the intense medieval style prevailing in Rossetti’s circle in the late 1850s, with its emphasis on pattern and historical detail. This is Morris’s only completed oil painting. N04999
Tate Gallery, London, Great Britain
William Morris (1834-96), met Burne-Jones when at Exeter College, Oxford. He then studied architecture under Street, but abandoned it to become a painter under the influence of Rossetti. In 1861 he founded the firm of Morris and Co.,to produce wall-papers, furniture, tapestries, and stained-glass windows (many designed by Burne-Jones), carpets sand furnishing materials in a style entirely different from that of contemporary Victorian decoration, but one which, nevertheless, tended towards a different kind of horror vacul and the use of equally dark and heavy colors. He is particularly important for the development of the private press, and did much with his Kelmscott Press, founded in 1890, to raise the standards of book design and printing, although he favoured a revival of medieval black-letter where Lucien Pissaro’s Eragny Press (1896) concentrated on modern type faces. His poems and other writings are anti-industrial and support a socialist theory for the regeneration of man by handicraft. There are drawing and a painting in the Tate and V & A, London, the latter also having a room entirely decorated with Morris products.
[taken from The Dictionary of Art and Artists, by Peter and Linda Murray,Penguin,1959]

National Portrait Gallery – Mick Jagger: Young in the 60s

Mick Jagger photographed by Cecil Beaton

London Street Art

Pablo Delgado
Pablo Delgado
Pablo Delgado
EVOL
EVOL
Alexandre Farto aka VHILS
Alexandre Farto aka VHILS

Opera del Caso #2

The Thames at Westminster with barges, Samuel Scott, 1746

Scott, Samuel (c.1702-72), was one of the earliest English marine and topographical painters. He worked in the manner of the van de Veldes, painting naval battles, colonial forts, and Thames shipping until Canaletto‘s success in London (he arrived in 1746) caused Scott to work in his manner on similar views. There are several scenes by the ywo men which are nearly identical and it seems that, at least once, Canaletto worked from Scott’s drawings. There are pictures in London (Guildhall,Tate,and Nat.Maritime Mus.), and Bath.
[taken from The Dictionary Of Art and Artists,Peter and Linda Murray,1959]

NightWood

Au Café by Maurice Brange, Solita Solano and Djuna Barnes in Paris, 1922

“The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy.”

Djuna Barnes (12 June 1892 – 18 June 1982)

Questo di Djuna Barnes,Nightwood,pubblicato per la prima volta a Londra nel 1936,è considerato essere un romanzo cult non solo per il sensazionalismo della trama,contorta e con espliciti riferimenti all’omosessualità di Robin Vote,la protagonista,donna inquieta e alla tormentata ricerca di avventure,dapprima divenuta moglie di un barone “immaginario”,Felix Volkbein,investito del titolo nobiliare per vocazione al bello e romantico,amante del circo e del teatro,al quale darà un figlio,Guido,erede del presunto titolo di fantasia,poi,amante di una donna,Nora Flood,con la quale si trasferirà dagli Stati Uniti a Parigi,lasciando marito e figlio,quindi travolta da un turbinio bohemien di relazioni nella relazione,tra le braccia di Jenny Petherbridge,una 4 volte vedova che la terrà lontana da Nora e sarà all’origine della sua solitudine.
Quello a risaltare nel romanzo è lo stile gotico della prosa,il lirismo poetico e l’intricata trama rococò delle parafrasi,per questo,di difficile lettura-a volte comprensione,in inglese.
Centrale,nel romanzo, la figura del Dr. Matthew O’Connor,che si finge nel ruolo di dottore,in realtà un travestito,scampato alla Prima Guerra Mondiale,cui fantasia è quella di essere l’amante donna di un soldato,per buona parte del romanzo voce narrante,puntiglioso in cinismo,ironia e autocommiserazione.
Secondo la critica meno indulgente,il romanzo avrebbe avuto fortuna grazie all’entusiastica prefazione,del 1957,di T.S.Eliot,mentre proprio Eliot si fa scrupolo di sottolineare l’entusiasmo deriva tutto da spettacolarità,magnificenza,musicalità e ritmo della prosa
‘To say that NightWood will appeal primarily to readers of poetry does not mean that it is not a novel, but that it is so good a novel that only sensibilities trained on poetry can wholly appreciate it.
T.S.Eliot
Di seguito una parte del libro tratta dal quinto capitolo-‘Watchman,what of the night?’

T. Renner, Improvisation for Djuna Barnes (Nightwood #3)

‘Have you ever thought of the night?’ the doctor inquired with a little irony; he was extremely put out, having expected someone else, though his favorite topic, and one which he talked on whenever he had a chance, was the night. ‘Yes,’ said Nora, and sat down on the only chair.’I’ve thought of it, but thinking about does not help.’
‘Have you’,said the doctor,’ever thought of the peculiar polarity of times and times; and of sleep? Sleep the slain white bull? Well,I, doctor Mathew-Mighty-grain-of-salt-Dante-O’Connor, will tell you how the day and the night are related by their division. The very constitution of twilight is a fabulous reconstruction of fear, fear bottom-out and wrong side up. Every day is thought upon and calculated, but the night is not premeditated. The Bible lies the one way, but the night gown the other. The Night, “Beware of that dark door!”‘
‘I used to think’, Nora said, ‘that people just went to sleep, or if they did not go to sleep, that they were themselves, but now,’ she lit the cigarette and her hands trembled,’ now I see that the night does something to a person’s identity, even when asleep.’
‘Ah!’ exclaimed the doctor. ‘Let a man lay himself down in the Great Bed and his “identity” is no longer his own, his “trust” is not with him, and his “willingness” is turned over and is of another permission. His distress is wild and anonymous. He sleeps in a Town of Darkness, member of a secret brotherhood. He neither knows himself nor his outriders, he berserks a fearful dimension and dismounts, miraculously, in bed!
‘His heart is tumbling in his chest, a dark place! Though some go into the night as a spoon breaks easy water, others go head foremost against a new connivance; their horns make a dry crying,like the wings of the locust,late come to their shedding.
‘Have you thought of the night, now, in other times,in foreign countries- in Paris? When the streets were gall high with things you wouldn’t have done for a dare’s sake, and the way it was then; with the pheasants’ necks and the goslings’ beaks dangling against the hocks of the gallants,and not a pavement in the place, and everything gutters for miles and miles, and a stench to it that plucked you by the nostrils and you were twenty leagues out! The cries telling the price of wine to such good effect that the dawn saw good clerks full of piss and vinegar, and blood-letting in side streets where some wild princess in a night shift of velvet howled under a leech; not to mention the palaces of Nymphenburg echoing back to Vienna with the night trip of late kings letting water into plush cans and fine woodwork, no, ‘he said looking at her sharply, ‘I can see you have not! You should, for the night has been going on for a long time.’
She said, ‘I’ve never known it before- I thought I did, but it was not knowing at all.’
‘Exactly,’ said the doctor,’ you think you knew, and you hadn’t even shuffled the cards- now the nights of the period are not the nights of another. Neither are the nights of one city the nights of another. Let us take Paris for an instance, and France for a fact. Ah,Mon Dieu! La nuit effroyable! La nuit, qui est une immense plaine, et le coeur qui est une petit extremite! Ah, good Mother mine, Notre Dame-de-bonne-garde! Intercede for me now, while yet I explain what I am coming to! French nights are those which all nations seek the world over- and have you noticed that? Ask Doctor Mighty O’Connor; the reason the doctor knows everything is because he’s been everywhere at the wrong time and has now become anonymous.’
‘But,’ Nora said,’I never thought of the night as a life at all- I’ve never lived it- why did she?’
‘I’m telling you of French nights at the moment,’the doctor went on,’and why we all go into them. The night and the day are two travels, and the French -gut-greedy and fist-tight though they often are- alone leave testimony of the two in the dawn, we tear up the one for the sake of the other, not so the Fremch.
‘And why is that, because they think of the two as one continually, and keep it before their mind as the monks who repeat,”Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me!” Some twelve thousand or more times a twenty-four hours, so that it is finally in the head, good or bad,without saying a word. Bowing down from the waist, the world over they go, that they may resolve about the Great Enigma- as a relative about a cradle- and the Great Enigma can’t be thought of unless you turn the head the other way, and come upon thinking with the eye that you fear, which is called the back of the head, it’s the one we use when looking at the beloved in a darl place, and she is long time coming from a great way. We swoon with the thickness of our own tongue when we say,” I Love You”, as in the eye of a child lost a long while will be found the contraction of that distance- a child going small in the claws of a beast, coming furiously up the furlongs of the iris.
We are but skin about a wind,with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pasture in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death.We were created that the earth might be made sensible of her inhuman taste; and love that the body might be so dear that even the earth should roar with it. Yes, we who are full to the gorge with misery, should look well around, doubting everything seen, done, spoken, precisely because we have a word for it, and not its alchemy.
‘To think of the arcon it is necessary to become the tree, And the tree of night is the hardest tree to mount, the dourest tree to scale, the most difficult of branch, the most febrile to the touch, and sweats a resin and drips a pitch against the palm that computation has not gambled. Gurus, who, I trust you know, are Indian teachers, expect you to contemplate the acorn ten years at a stretch, and if, in that time, you no wiser about the nut, you are not very bright, and that may be the only certainty with which you will come away, which is a post-graduate melancholy- for no man can find a greater truth than his kidney will allow. So I, Doctor Matthew Mighty O’Connor, ask you to think of the night the day long, and of the day the night through, or at some reprieve of the brain it will come upon heavily- an engine stalling itself upon your chest, halting its wheels against your heart; unless you have made a roadway for it.
taken from Nightwood,by Djuna Barnes,1936
Tony Renner, Artist.

Out of Control

London Riots August 2011,Photo by Amy Weston

Quella a esplodere,la notte a cavallo tra sabato e domenica,in Tottenham, a nord di Londra, è stata una bomba a orologeria; il pretesto sembra essere stato l’uccisione,lo scorso giovedì, di Mark Duggan,29,per mano di un agente della polizia metropolitana,in circostanze non ancora chiarite; l’evento ha sconvolto la comunità, che sabato notte si è riunita in una protesta pacifica degenerata in sommossa nel giro di poche ore. 153 gli arrestati,decine i negozi saccheggiati e distrutti all’interno.Ancora ieri,camminando per Wood Green,ho potuto vedere di persona un paio di shops blindati da delle impalcature, a vetrine e interni distrutti,una macchina bruciata parcheggiata sul ciglio della strada-segno la protesta sta espandendosi nel resto della città oltre che a Tottenham.
Quello che la gente sarebbe sorpresa di sapere è che Londra non è soltanto brillantini e paiettes,musica e arte; Londra è anche,se non soprattutto,una città in decadenza.La contraddizione cruciale e palese in una città come questa, vede un’estrema ricchezza coincidere con la più misera povertà,lunghi viali fiancheggiati da meravigliosi palazzi vittoriani a ridosso dei quali si estendono centinaia di abitazioni fatiscenti presso cui vivono migliaia di persone in condizioni di mera sopravvivenza.Me fra questi.
E’chiaro niente vale a giustificare un atto di violenza,specie quando questo mette a rischio i delicati equilibri di convivenza entro una comunità,all’apparenza pacifica,ma il malcontento cresce,il presidente Cameron sta rivoluzionando la politica sociale del governo inglese e le tensioni,specie all’interno delle black communities, si fanno sempre più esasperate.
L’area in cui vivo è relativamente tranquilla-con delle eccezioni,sporadiche ma di rilevanza (ricordo di un ragazzo ucciso a coltellate e di alcuni episodi di stupro).Detto questo,credo nessuna area londinese al sicuro dalla violenza e non faccio fatica a immaginare cosa può voler dire vivere in condizioni di estremo disagio e miseria.Qualche tempo fa leggevo di non ricordo più quanti bambini, residenti a Londra e confinati alla periferia della città,che non hanno mai preso la metro per raggiungere il centro(perchè il costo del biglietto inaccessibile),e di non so quanti ragazzini dediti allo spaccio di droga e attività criminali perchè senza lavoro e provenienti da famiglie disagiate economicamente.
Chi gode di buona salute,è insensibile all’aspetto sociale e globale della comunità in cui vive e può ingloririarsi di un lavoro appagante,dal punto di vista rimunerativo,e di un tenore di vita sufficientemente gratificante,farà fatica ad accorgersi del malcontento e del degrado di questa città.Malcontento e degrado generano violenza e la violenza altra violenza.D’augurarsi le cose cambino,presto. Prima della fine.
London riots spiral out of control – Crime, UK – The Independent.
A dead man, a crucial question: should police have shot Mark Duggan? – Crime, UK – The Independent.

Once upon a London Time

Wolfgang Suschitzky-Stepney,East End,London,1934
Wolfgang Suschitzky-Charing Cross Road,London,1936
Wolfgang Suschitzky-Charing Cross Road,London,1937
Wolfgang Suschitzky-Charing Cross Road,London,1937
Wolfgang Suschitzky-Embankment,London,1934
Wolfgang Suschitzky-Fog at Cambrige Circus,Charing Cross Road,1935

credit luzfosca,Facie Populi,on tumblr
http://www.wolfsuschitzkyphotos.com/
Museum of London: Exploring 20th Century London home.

Tate Liverpool Current Exhibitions René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle

René Magritte-L'Assassin menacé,1927
René Magritte-La trahison des images, 1928–29
René Magritte,Golconde,1953
René Magritte,Golconde,1953
René Magritte-The False Mirror,1928

“Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”
-René Magritte (21 November 1898 – 15 August 1967)

Tate Liverpool| Current Exhibitions | René Magritte: The Pleasure Principle.

Oh the Memories


Quello della fotografia vintage è un “hobby” a cui sto appassionandomi con morbosa dedizione man man che passano i giorni e sento forte il desiderio di conoscere,vedere,osservare,guardare,contemplare la realtà attraverso uno spioncino dietro cui il passato è una pellicola in bianco e nero,un teatrino di suggestioni e nostalgica allegoria;collezionare fotografie vintage su tumblr mi riporta indietro a quando ero bambina e usavo conservare dentro una scatola decine di figurine colorate,ritagli di giornale,letterine dattiloscritte a macchina-giocattolo regalo di Natale.Niente mi esaudisce quanto ascoltare Oscar Peterson alle cuffie,intanto che sfoglio un libro di fotografie e la tensione alle spalle mi si allevia,il respiro si fa regolare,l’atmosfera s’addensa di significato e tutto coincide a una parabola di piacere antico; come nascondersi in soffitta,accendere un lume,accovacciarsi sulle ginocchia,trattenere il respiro,aprire un baule,destare il tempo dal sonno dell’oblio,riportarlo in vita,vederne compiere le moine,gli slanci dell’immaginazione,annotarne la compiaciuta compostezza attraverso ognuno degli scatti.Ognuna delle foto che vedo colma di emozioni mancanze che non credevo avere,suggestioni legate a un tempo che non ho mai vissuto ma di cui ho come un ricordo appena sbiadito.
E’ da qualche giorno in esposizione alla Royal Accademy of Art (http://www.royalacademy.org.uk),una collezione dedicata alla fotografia ungherese e a cinque dei suoi maggiori esponenti: André Kertész(1894-1985 a cui,qualche post fa, ho dedicato una galleria di foto tratte dalla collezione-Distortion,riconoscibile per le alterazioni)

André Kertész

László Moholy-Nagy(1895-1946,pittore e fotografo altamente influenzato dal costruttivismo,movimento culturale russo che prende le distanze dal culto del bello,dell’arte per l’arte,attribuendo a questa una funzione sociale d’interazione nell’architettura degli ambienti)

László Moholy-Nagy-Massenpsychose

Robert Capa(1913-1954,fotografo di guerra e testimone della Guerra Civile Spagnola,la Seconda Guerra Sino-Giapponese,la Seconda Guerra mondiale,la Guerra Arabo-Islaeliana del 1948,la Prima Guerra D’Indocina, e co-fondatore,insieme con Henri Cartier-Bresson,David “Chim” Seymour,George Rodger e William Vandivert della celebre cooperativa fotografica Magnum Photos)

Robert Capa-Air Raid, Barcelona

Martin Munkácsi(1896-1963,giornalista sportivo e fotografo “in movimento”)

Martin Munkácsi

Brassaï(1899-1984,oltre che fotografo-regista e scultore,particolarmente conosciuto in Francia).
Senza nulla togliere all’innovazione di André Kertész e László Moholy-Nagy,al coraggio e al merito di Robert Capa per aver documentato la storia,mi piace più,in questo post,indugiare sulla fotografia di Brassaï,in questo caso funzionale a mantenere viva l’atmosfera sognante di cui parlavo.
Brassaï,cui nome originale è Halasz Gyula e Brassaï lo pseudonimo di Brassó,nasce in Ungheria ma si trasferisce presto a Berlino,dove lavorerà come giornalista e studierà arte. Sarà una volta in Francia che Brassaï acquisirà la passione per la fotografia,affascinato dalla bellezza di Parigi,dove vivrà fino alla morte. Di Brassaï la celebre collezione Paris de nuit,del 1933.Di seguito alcune foto tratte dalla collezione

Brassaï
Brassai,Lovers in a Cafè,1932
Brassaï

Interessante questo blog dedicato alla cultura ungherese
Hungarian Culture Exchange http://hungariancult.com

London Street Photography Festival – July 2011

Ying Tang

E’iniziato ieri il London Street Photography Festival ,di scena per tutto il mese di luglio; tanti i workshops e le exhibitions, specie nei dintorni di King’s Cross,Camden Town,Brixton.
La Street Photography è interessante,a mio parere, perchè rende il manifesto della quotidianità, permette una più attenta realizzazione della realtà e l’esposizione particolareggiata di quei frammenti di vita densi di significato simbolico e metafisico,altrimenti trascurati dall’attenzione dei tanti(meno che a quella del fotografo sensibile)
Stamane sono giusto andata a Brixton per vedere un’esposizione,alla Photofusion Gallery,dal titolo ‘On Street Photography-A Women’s Perspective’ ;cinque le fotografe,venticinque le fotografie,sotto alcune di quelle che mi sono piaciute maggiormente

Tiffany Jones
Tiffany Jones
Tiffany Jones
Tiffany Jones

http://www.tiffanyjones.co.uk

Johanna Neurath-At the Columbia Road flower market

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanna/

Polly Braden-Millennium Bridge
Polly Braden-Monument

http://www.pollybraden.com

Anahita Avalos
Anahita Avalos
Anahita Avalos
Anahita Avalos

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ardvisura/

Ying Tang

http://www.yingphotography.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sakuralove/

Feminism,Goddesses and Stars

Madame Yevonde Self Portrait

Name:Yevonde Cumbers Middleton
Date of Birth and Anniversary:January 5,1893-December 22,1975
Nationality:British
Hometown:London
Nickname:Madame Yevonde
Political Views:Suffragist,Suffragette movement
Profession: Portrait Photographer,Party Girl
Education:liberal and progressive Lingholt Boarding School(Hindhead),Guilde Internationale(Paris)
Merit:First Woman to pioneer the use of colour in portrait photography(Vivex colour process from Colour Photography Limited of Willesden)
People who inspired Madame Yevonde:Mary Wollstonecraft,Lallie Charles,surrealist artists(particularly Man Ray)
Studio:92 Victoria Street,London
Most Famous Work:An evocative,dreamy,gallery inspired by a “Roman and Greek gods and goddesses“theme party held on March 5, 1935.Portrait series based on the signs of the zodiac and the months of the year.
Exhibitions:London,New York
Website:http://www.madameyevonde.com/

Questo slideshow richiede JavaScript.

Miss Fanny Hill

Risale al 1748 un romanzo di John Cleland (scrittore inglese nato nel 1709),stampato a Londra da Thomas Parker per volere dell’editore Ralph Griffiths(sotto lo pseudonimo di G. Fenton),che valse allo scrittore,allo stampatore e all’editore,un mandato d’arresto con l’accusa di oscenità.Il libro,”Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure“,conosciuto anche come “Fanny Hill”,fece scalpore e scandalo per i contenuti espliciti in riferimento alla vita sessuale di Miss Fanny Hill,nobildonna londinese che racconta dei propri amanti e delle scorribande sessuali che vivacizzano lo scenario dell’allora società inglese,a quei tempi in pieno boom industriale.
John Cleland,figlio dello scrittore e ufficiale delle armi William Cleland,scrisse il romanzo durante un periodo di prigionia durato un anno e incorso per truffa.Una prima parte del romanzo venne pubblicata nel novembre del 1748,una seconda appena nel febbraio del 1749.
Accusato di oscenità,John Cleland smentì la paternità del romanzo e il libro venne ritirato;benchè ne fu vietata la pubblicazione,il romanzo venne comunque stampato in edizioni pirata e arricchito di nuovi e aggiuntivi episodi di richiamo all’omosessualità e alla sodomia.A seguito di questo,John Cleland scrisse una nuova versione del romanzo,nel marzo del 1750,omessa dei contenuti scandalistici,ma il libro venne comunque e nuovamente bannato e la vendita proibita.
Ciò nonostante,il libro continuò a essere pubblicato segretamente e arricchito di illustrazioni;la versione francese,contiene quelle del famoso pittore e illustratore Édouard-Henri Avril,meglio conosciuto come Paul Avril(1843-1928).
A seguire una parte del libro,la quinta
Part V
And why should I here suppress the delight I received from this amiable creature, in remarking each artless look, each motion of pure undissembled nature, betrayed by his wanton eyes; or shewing, transparently, the glow and suffusion of blood through his fresh, clear skin, whilst even his sturdy rustic pressures wanted not their peculiar charm? Oh! but, say you, this was a young fellow of too low a rank of life to deserve so great a display. May be so: but was my condition, strictly consider’d one jot more exalted? or, had I really been much above him, did not his capacity of giving such exquisite pleasure sufficiently raise and ennoble him, to me, at least? Let who would, for me, cherish, respect, and reward the painter’s, the statuary’s, the musician’s arts, in proportion to delight taken in them: but at my age, and with my taste for pleasure, a taste strongly constitutional to me, the talent of pleasing, with which nature has endowed a handsome person, form’d to me the greatest of all merits; compared to which, the vulgar prejudices in favor of titles, dignities, honors, and the like, held a very low rank indeed. Nor perhaps would the beauties of the body be so much affected to be held cheap, were they, in their nature, to be bought and delivered. But for me, whose natural philosophy all resided in the favorite center of sense, and who was rul’d by its powerful instinct in taking pleasure by its right handle, I could scarce have made a choice more to my purpose.
Mr. H . . .’s loftier qualifications of birth, fortune and sense laid me under a sort of subjection and constraint that were far from making harmony in the concert of love, nor had he, perhaps, thought me worth softening that superiority to; but, with this lad, I was more on that level which love delights in.
We may say what we please, but those we can be the easiest and freest with are ever those we like, not to say love, the best.
With this stripling, all whose art of love was the action of it, I could, without check of awe or restraint, give a loose to joy, and execute every scheme of dalliance my fond fancy might put me on, in which he was, in every sense, a most exquisite companion. And now my great pleasure lay in humoring all the petulances, all the wanton frolic of a raw novice just fleshed, and keen on the burning scent of his game, but unbroken to the sport: and, to carry on the figure, who could better TREAD THE WOOD than he, or stand fairer for the HEART OF THE HUNT?
He advanc’d then to my bed-side, and whilst he faltered out his message, I could observe his color rise, and his eyes lighten with joy, in seeing me in a situation as favorable to his loosest wishes as if he had bespoke the play.
I smiled, and put out my hand towards him, which he kneeled down to (a politeness taught him by love alone, that great master of it) and greedily kiss’d. After exchanging a few confused questions and answers, I ask’d him if he would come to bed to me, for the little time I could venture to detain him. This was just asking a person, dying with hunger, to feast upon the dish on earth the most to his palate. Accordingly, without further reflection, his cloaths were off in an instant; when, blushing still more at his new liberty, he got under the bed-cloaths I held up to receive him, and was now in bed with a woman for the first time in his life.
Here began the usual tender preliminaries, as delicious, perhaps, as the crowning act of enjoyment itself; which they often beget an impatience of, that makes pleasure destructive of itself, by hurrying on the final period, and closing that scene of bliss, in which the actors are generally too well pleas’d with their parts not to wish them an eternity of duration.
When we had sufficiently graduated our advances towards the main point, by toying, kissing, clipping, feeling my breasts, now round and plump, feeling that part of me I might call a furnace-mouth, from the prodigious intense heat his fiery touches had rekindled there, my young sportsman, embolden’d by every freedom he could wish, wantonly takes my hand, and carries it to that enormous machine of his, that stood with a stiffness! a hardness! an upward bent of erection! and which, together with its bottom dependence, the inestimable bulge of lady’s jewels, formed a grand show out of goods indeed! Then its dimensions, mocking either grasp or span, almost renew’d my terrors.
I could not conceive how, or by what means I could take, or put such a bulk out of sight. I stroked it gently, on which the mutinous rogue seemed to swell, and gather a new degree of fierceness and insolence; so that finding it grew not to be trifled with any longer, I prepar’d for rubbers in good earnest.
Slipping then a pillow under me, that I might give him the fairest play, I guided officiously with my hand this furious battering ram, whose ruby head, presenting nearest the resemblance of a heart, I applied to its proper mark, which lay as finely elevated as we could wish; my hips being borne up, and my thighs at their utmost extension, the gleamy warmth that shot from it made him feel that he was at the mouth of the indraught, and driving foreright, the powerfully divided lips of that pleasure-thirsty channel receiv’d him. He hesitated a little; then, settled well in the passage, he makes his way up the straits of it, with a difficulty nothing more than pleasing, widening as he went, so as to distend and smooth each soft furrow: our pleasure increasing deliciously, in proportion as our points of mutual touch increas’d in that so vital part of me in which I had now taken him, all indriven, and completely sheathed; and which, crammed as it was, stretched, splitting ripe, gave it so gratefully strait an accommodation! so strict a fold! a suction so fierce! that gave and took unutterable delight. We had now reach’d the closest point of union; but when he backened to come on the fiercer, as if I had been actuated by a fear of losing him, in the height of my fury I twisted my legs round his naked loins, the flesh of which, so firm, so springy to the touch, quiver’d again under the pressure; and now I had him every way encircled and begirt; and having drawn him home to me, I kept him fast there, as if I had sought to unite bodies with him at that point. This bred a pause of action, a pleasure stop, whilst that delicate glutton, my nethermouth, as full as it could hold, kept palating, with exquisite relish, the morsel that so deliciously ingorged it. But nature could not long endure a pleasure that so highly provoked without satisfying it: pursuing then its darling end, the battery recommenc’d with redoubled exertion; nor lay I inactive on my side, but encountering him with all the impetuosity of motion but encountering him with all the impetuosity of motion I was mistress of. The downy cloth of our meeting mounts was now of real use to break the violence of the tilt; and soon, too soon indeed! the highwrought agitation, the sweet urgency of this to-and-fro friction, raised the titillation on me to its height; so that finding myself on the point of going, and loath to leave the tender partner of my joys behind me, I employed all the forwarding motions and arts my experience suggested to me, to promote his keeping me company to our journey’s end. I not only then tighten’d the pleasure-girth round my restless inmate by a secret spring of friction and compression that obeys the will in those parts, but stole my hand softly to that store bag of nature’s prime sweets, which is so pleasingly attach’d to its conduit pipe, from which we receive them; there feeling, and most gently indeed, squeezing those tender globular reservoirs; the magic touch took instant effect, quicken’d, and brought on upon the spur the symptoms of that sweet agony, the melting moment of dissolution, when pleasure dies by pleasure, and the mysterious engine of it overcomes the titillation it has rais’d in those parts, by plying them with the stream of a warm liquid that is itself the highest of all titillations, and which they thirstily express and draw in like the hotnatured leach, which to cool itself, tenaciously attracts all the moisture within its sphere of exsuction. Chiming then to me, with exquisite consent, as I melted away, his oily balsamic injection, mixing deliciously with the sluices in flow from me, sheath’d and blunted all the stings of pleasure, it flung us into an extasy that extended us fainting, breathless, entranced. Thus we lay, whilst a voluptuous languor possest, and still maintain’d us motionless and fast locked in one another’s arms. Alas! that these delights should be no longer-lived! for now the point of pleasure, unedged by enjoyment, and all the brisk sensations flatten’d upon us, resigned us up to the cool cares of insipid life. Disengaging myself then from his embrace, I made him sensible of the reasons there were for his present leaving me; on which, though reluctantly, he put on his cloaths with as little expedition, however, as he could help, wantonly interrupting himself, between whiles, with kisses, touches and embraces I could not refuse myself to. Yet he happily return’d to his master before he was missed; but, at taking leave, I forc’d him (for he had sentiments enough to refuse it) to receive money enough to buy a silver watch, that great article of subaltern finery, which he at length accepted of, as a remembrance he was carefully to preserve of my affections.

And here, Madam, I ought, perhaps, to make you an apology for this minute detail of things, that dwelt so strongly upon my memory, after so deep an impression: but, besides that this intrigue bred one great revolution in my life, which historical truth requires I should not sink from you, may I not presume that so exalted a pleasure ought not to be ungratefully forgotten, or suppress’d by me, because I found it in a character in low life; where, by the bye, it is oftener met with, purer, and more unsophisticate, that among the false, ridiculous refinements with which the great suffer themselves to be so grossly cheated by their pride: the great! than whom there exist few amongst those they call the vulgar, who are more ignorant of, or who cultivate less, the art of living than they do; they, I say, who for ever mistake things the most foreign of the nature of pleasure itself; whose capital favourite object is enjoyment of beauty, wherever that rare invaluable gift is found, without distinction of birth, or station.
As love never had, so now revenge had no longer any share in my commerce with this handsome youth. The sole pleasures of enjoyment were now the link I held to him by: for though nature had done such great matters for him in his outward form, and especially in that superb piece of furniture she had so liberally enrich’d him with; though he was thus qualify’d to give the senses their richest feast, still there was something more wanting to create in me, and constitute the passion of love. Yet Will had very good qualities too; gentle, tractable, and, above all, grateful; close, and secret, even to a fault: he spoke, at any time, very little, but made it up emphatically with action; and, to do him justice, he never gave me the least reason to complain, either of any tendency to encroach upon me for the liberties I allow’d him, or of his indiscretion in blabbing them. There is, then, a fatality in love, or have loved him I must; for he was really a treasure, a bit for the BONNE BOUCHE of a duchess; and, to say the truth, my liking for him was so extreme, that it was distinguishing very nicely to deny that I loved him.
My happiness, however, with him did not last long, but found an end from my own imprudent neglect. After having taken even superfluous precautions against a discovery, our success in repeated meetings embolden’d me to omit the barely necessary ones. About a month after our first intercourse, one fatal morning (the season Mr. H . . . rarely or never visited me in) I was in my closet, where my toilet stood, in nothing but my shift, a bed gown and under-petticoat. Will was with me, and both ever too well disposed to baulk an opportunity. For my part, a warm whim, a wanton toy had just taken me, and I had challeng’d my man to execute it on the spot, who hesitated not to comply with my humour: I was set in the arm-chair, my shift and petticoat up, my thighs wide spread and mounted over the arms of the chair, presenting the fairest mark to Will’s drawn weapon, which he stood in act to plunge into me; when, having neglected to secure the chamber door, and that of the closet standing a-jar, Mr. H . . . stole in upon us before either of us was aware, and saw us precisely in these convicting attitudes.
I gave a great scream, and drop’d my petticoat: the thunder-struck lad stood trembling and pale, waiting his sentence of death. Mr. H . . . looked sometimes at one, sometimes at the other, with a mixture of indignation and scorn; and, without saying a word, turn’d upon his heel and went out.
As confused as I was, I heard him very distinctly turn the key, and lock the chamber-door upon us, so that there was no escape but through the dining-room, where he himself was walking about with distempered strides, stamping in a great chafe, and doubtless debating what he would do with us.
In the mean time, poor William was frightened out of his senses, and, as much need as I had of spirits to support myself, I was obliged to employ them all to keep his a little up. The misfortune I had now brought upon him, endear’d him the more to me, and I could have joyfully suffered any punishment he had not shared in. I water’d, plentifully, with my tears, the face of the frightened youth, who sat, not having strength to stand, as cold and as lifeless as a statue.
Presently Mr. H . . . comes in to us again, and made us go before him into the dining-room, trembling and dreading the issue. Mr. H . . . sat down on a chair whilst we stood like criminals under examination; and beginning with me, ask’d me, with an even firm tone of voice, neither soft nor severe, but cruelly indifferent, what I could say for myself, for having abused him in so unworthy a manner, with his own servant too, and how he had deserv’d this of me?
Without adding to the guilt of my infidelity that of an audacious defence of it, in the old style of a common kept Miss, my answer was modest, and often interrupted by my tears, in substance as follows: that I never had a single thought of wronging him (which was true), till I had seen him taking the last liberties with my servant-wench (here he colour’d prodigiously), and that my resentment at that, which I was over-awed from giving vent to by complaints, or explanations with him, had driven me to a course that I did not pretend to justify; but that as to the young man, he was entirely faultless; for that, in the view of making him the instrument of my revenge, I had down-right seduced him to what he had done; and therefore hoped, whatever he determined about me, he would distinguish between the guilty and the innocent; and that, for the rest, I was entirely at his mercy.
Mr. H . . ., on hearing what I said, hung his head a little; but instantly recovering himself, he said to me, as near as I can retain, to the following purpose:
“Madam, I owe shame to myself, and confess you have fairly turn’d the tables upon me. It is not with one of your cast of breeding and sentiments that I should enter into a discussion of the very great difference of the provocations: be it sufficient that I allow you so much reason on your side, as to have changed my resolutions, in consideration of what you reproach me with; and I own, too, that your clearing that rascal there, is fair and honest in you. Renew with you I cannot: the affront is too gross. I give you a week’s warning to go out of these lodgings; whatever I have given you, remains to you; and as I never intend to see you more, the landlord will pay you fifty pieces on my account, with which, and every debt paid, I hope you will own I do not leave you in a worse condition than what I took you up in, or than you deserve of me. Blame yourself only that it is no better.” Then, without giving me time to reply, he address’d himself to the young fellow:
“For you, spark, I shall, for your father’s sake, take care of you: the town is no place for such an easy fool as thou art; and to-morrow you shall set out, under the charge of one of my men, well recommended, in my name, to your father, not to let you return and be spoil’d here.”
At these words he went out, after my vainly attempting to stop him by throwing myself at his feet. He shook me off, though he seemed greatly mov’d too, and took Will away with him, who, I dare swear, thought himself very cheaply off.
I was now once more a-drift, and left upon my own hands, by a gentleman whom I certainly did not deserve. And all the letters, arts, friends’ entreaties that I employed within the week of grace in my lodging, could never win on him so much as to see me again. He had irrevocably pornounc’d my doom, and submission to it was my only part. Soon after he married a lady of birth and fortune, to whom, I have heard, he prov’d an irreproachable husband.
As for poor Will, he was immediately sent down to the country to his father, who was an easy farmer, where he was not four months before and inn-keeper’s buxom young widow, with a very good stock, both in money and trade, fancy’d, and perhaps pre-acquainted with his secret excellencies, marry’d him: and I am sure there was, at least, one good foundation for their living happily together.
Though I should have been charm’d to see him before he went, such measures were taken, by Mr. H . . .’s orders, that it was impossible; otherwise I should certainly have endeavour’d to detain him in town, and would have spared neither offers nor expence to have procured myself the satisfaction of keeping him with me. He had such powerful holds upon my inclinations as were not easily to be shaken off, or replaced; as to my heart, it was quite out of the question: glad, however, I was from my soul, that nothing worse, and as things turn’d out, probably nothing better could have happened to him.
As to Mr. H . . ., though views of conveniency made me, at first, exert myself to regain his affection, I was giddy and thoughtless enough to be much easier reconcil’d to my failure than I ought to have been; but as I never had lov’d him, and his leaving me gave me a sort of liberty that I had often long’d for, I was soon comforted; and flattering myself that the stock of youth and beauty I was going into trade with could hardly fail of procuring me a maintenance, I saw myself under a necessity of trying my fortune with them, rather, with pleasure and gaiety, than with the least idea of despondency.
In the mean time, several of my acquaintances among the sisterhood, who had soon got wind of my misfortune, flocked to insult me with their malicious consolations. Most of them had long envied me the affluence and splendour I had been maintain’d in; and though there was scarce one of them that did not at least deserve to be in my case, and would probably, sooner or later, come to it, it was equally easy to remark, even in their affected pity, their secret pleasure at seeing me thus disgrac’d and discarded, and their secret grief that it was no worse with me. Unaccountable malice of the human heart! and which is not confin’d to the class of life they were of.
But as the time approached for me to come to some resolution how to dispose of myself, and I was considering round where to shift my quarters to, Mrs. Cole, a middleaged discreet sort of woman, who had been brought into my acquaintance by one at the Misses that visited me, upon learning my situation, came to offer her cordial advice and service to me; and as I had always taken to her more than to any of my female acquaintances, I listened the easier to her proposals. And, as it happened, I could not have put myself into worse, or into better hands in all London: into worse, because keeping a house of conveniency, there were no lengths in lewdness she would not advise me to go, in compliance with her customers; no schemes of pleasure, or even unbounded debauchery, she did not take even a delight in promoting: into a better, because nobody having had more experience of the wicked part of the town than she had, was fitter to advise and guard one against the worst dangers of our profession; and what was rare to be met with in those of her’s, she contented herself with a moderate living profit upon her industry and good offices, and had nothing of their greedy rapacious turn. She was really too a gentlewoman born and bred, but through a train of accidents reduc’d to this course, which she pursued, partly through necessity, partly through choice, as never woman delighted more in encouraging a brisk circulation of trade for the sake of the trade itself, or better understood all the mysteries and refinements of it, than she did; so that she was consummately at the top of her profession, and dealt only with customers of distinction: to answer the demands of whom she kept a competent number of her daughters in constant recruit (so she call’d those whom by her means, and through her tuition and instructions, succeeded very well in the world).
This useful gentlewoman upon whose protection I now threw myself, having her reasons of state, respecting Mr. H . . ., for not appearing too much in the thing herself, sent a friend of her’s, on the day appointed for my removal, to conduct me to my new lodgings at a brushmaker’s in R*** street, Covent Garden, the very next door to her own house, where she had no conveniences to lodge me herself: lodgings that, by having been for several successions tenanted by ladies of pleasure, the landlord of them was familiarized to their ways; and provided the rent was duly paid, every thing else was as easy and commodious as one could desire.
The fifty guineas promis’d me by Mr. H . . ., at his parting with me, having been duly paid me, all my cloaths and moveables chested up, which were at least of two hundred pound’s value, I had them convey’d into a coach, where I soon followed them, after taking a civil leave of the landlord and his family, with whom I had never liv’d in a degree of familiarity enough to regret the removal; but still, the very circumstance of its being a removal drew tears from me. I left, too, a letter of thanks for Mr. H . . ., from whom I concluded myself, as I really was, irretrievably separated.
My maid I had discharged the day before, not only because I had her of Mr. H . . ., but that I suspected her of having some how or other been the occasion of his discovering me, in revenge, perhaps, for my not having trusted her with him.
We soon got to my lodgings, which, though not so handsomely furnish’d nor so showy as those I left, were to the full as convenient, and at half price, though on the first floor. My trunks were safely landed, and stow’d in my apartments, where my neighbour, and now gouvernante, Mrs. Cole, was ready with my landlord to receive me, to whom she took care to set me out in the most favourable light, that of one from whom there was the clearest reason to expect the regular payment of his rent: all the cardinal virtues attributed to me would not have had half the weight of that recommendation alone.
I was now settled in lodgings of my own, abandon’d to my own conduct, and turned loose upon the town, to sink or swim, as I could manage with the current of it; and what were the consequences, together with the number of adventures which befell me in the exercise of my new profession, will compose the matter of another letter: for surely it is high time to put a period to this.
I am,
MADAM
Yours
Fonte:http://www.eroticabibliophile.com

Édouard Henri Avril


to remind us we’re still in the land of the living

One
Why is London like Budapest?
A.Because it is two cities divided by a river.

Good morning!Let me introduce myself.My name is Dora Chance.Welcome to the wrong side of the tracks.Put it another way.If you’re from the States,think of Manhattan.Then think of Brooklyn.See what I mean?Or,for a Parisian,it might be a question of rive gauche,rive droite.With London,it’s the North and South divide.Me and Nora,that’s my sister,we’ve always lived on the left-hand side,the side the tourist rarely sees,the bastard side of Old Father Thames.
Once upon a time,you could make a crude distinction,thus:the rich lived amidst pleasant verdure in the North speedily whisked to exclusive shopping by abundant public transport while the poor eked out miserable existences in the South in circumstances of urban deprivation condemned to wait for hours at windswept bus-stops while sounds of marital violence,breaking glass and drunken song echoed around and it was cold and dark and smelled of fish and chips.But you can’t trust things to stay the same.There’s been a diaspora of the affluent,they jumped into their diesel Saabs and dispersed throughout the city.You’d never believe the price of a house round here,these days.And what does the robin do then,poor thing?
Bugger the robin!What would have become of us,if Grandma hadn’t left us this house? 49 Bard Road, London, South West Two.Bless this house.If it wasn’t for this house,Nora and I would be on the street by now,hauling our worldlies up and down in plastic bags,sucking on the bottle for comfort like babes unweaned,bursting into songs of joy when finally admitted to the night shelter and therefore chucked out again immediately for disturbing the peace,to gasp and freeze and finally snuff it disregarded on the street and blow away like rags. That’s a thought for a girl’s seventy-fifth birthday,what?
Yes! Seventy-five.Happy birthday to me.Born in this house,indeed,this very attic,just seventy-five years ago,today.I made my bow five minutes ahead of Nora who is,at this very moment,downstairs,getting breakfast.My dearest sister.Happy birthday to us.
This is my room.We don’t share.We’ve always respected one another’s privacy.Identical,well and good;Siamese,no.Everything slightly soiled,I am sorry to say.Can’t be doing with wash,wash,wash,polish,polish,polish,these days,when time is so precious,but take a good look at the signed photos stuck in the dressing-table mirror-Ivor;Noel;Fred and Adele;Jack;Ginger;Fred and Ginger;Anna,Jessie,Sonnie,Binnie.All friends and colleagues,once upon a time.See the newest one,a tall girl,slender,black curls,enormous eyes,no drawers,’your very own Tiffany’ and lots of XXXXXs.Isn’t she lovely?Our beloved godchild.We tried to put her off show business but she wasn’t having any.’What’s good enough for you two is good enough for me.”Show business’,right enough;a prettier girl than little Tiff you never saw but she’s showed her all.
What did we do? Got it in one.We used to be song and dance girls.We can still lift a leg higher than your average dog,if called for.
Hello,hello..here comes one of the pussy cats,out of the wardrobe,stretching and yawning. She can smell the bacon.There’s another,white,with marmalade peaches,sleeping on my pillow.Dozens more roam freely.The house smells of cat,a bit,but more of geriatric shorine-cold cream,face powder,dress preserver,old fags,stale tea.
‘Come and have a cuddle,Pussy.’
You’ve got to have something to cuddle.Does Pussy want its breakfast,then? Give us a minute,Puss,let’s have a look out of the window.
Cold,bright,windy,spring weather,just like the day that we were born,when the Zeppelins were falling.Lovely blue sky,a birthday present in itself.I knew a boy,whit eyes that color ,years ago.Bare as a rose,not a hair on him;he was too young for body hair.And sky blue eyes.
You can see for miles,out of this window.You can see right across the river.There’s Westminster Abbey,see? Flying the St George’s cross,today.St Paul’s,the single breast.Big Ben,winking its golden eye.Not much else familiar,these days.This is about the time that comes in every century when they reach out for all that they can grab of dear old London,and pull it down.Then they build it up again,like London Bridge in the nursery thyme,goodbye,hello,but it’s never the say.Even the railway station,changed out of recognition,turned into souks.Waterloo.Victoria.Nowhere you can get a decet cup ot tea,all they give you is Harvey Wallbangers,filthy cappuccino.Stocking shops and knicker outlets everywhere you look.I said to Nora:’Remember Brief Encounter,how I cried buckets? Nowhere for them to meet on a station,nowadays,except in a bloody knicker shop.Their hands would have to shyly touch under cover of a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts’.
‘Come off it,you sentimental sod,’said Nora.’The only brief encounter you had during the war was a fling whit a Yank behind the public convenience on Liverpool Street Station‘.
‘I was only doing my bit for the war effort,’I replied sedately,but she wasn’t listening,she started to giggle.
”ere,Dor’,smashing name for a lingerie shop-Brief Encounter.’She doubled up.
Sometimes I think,if I look hard enough,I can see back into the past.There goes the wind,again.Crash.Over goes the dustbin,all the trash spills out…empty cat-food cans,cornflakes packets,laddered tights,tea leaves..I am at present working on my memories and researching family history-see the word processor,the filing cabinet,the card indexes,right hand,left hand,right side,left side,all the dirt on everybody.What a wind! Whooping and banging all along the street,the kind of wind that blows everything topsy-turvy.
Seventy-five,today,and a topsy-turvy day of wind and sunshine.The kind of wind that gets into the blood and drives you wild.Wild!
And I give a little shiver because suddenly I know,I know it in my ancient water,that something will happen today.Something exciting.Something nice,something nasty ,I don’t give a monkey’s.Just as long as something happens to remind us we’re still in the land of the living.
Taken from Wise Children,cap 1
Angela Carter

The Butterfly Ball

(Dio & Deep Purple With The London Symphony Orchestra-Love Is All)

Ieri sera,spulciando su you tube nel canale cinema, ho trovato una super chicca trash ad alto godimento: Butterfly Ball,rock opera del 1974,originariamente concepita da Jon Lord perchè Roger Glover( bassista dei Deep Purple e coautore dei pezzi) la producesse;fatto volle che Jon Lord abbandonò il progetto,perchè impegnato, sebbene Glover decise di portarlo avanti comunque e da solo .La rock opera Butterfly Ball deriva da un concept album ispirato a “The Butterfly’s Ball, and the Grasshopper’s Feast“,un poema surreale di William Roscoe,del 1802, basato sulla celebrazione della natura e la festa di tutti quanti gli animali coinvolti.Infatti,e questo è l’elemento tragi-comico del film,tra una sequenza e l’altra,un pezzo e un altro,è possibile vedere dei martiri in veste di teneri coniglietti saltellare pei parchi,talpe ubriache ai bars,persino dei procioni rimbambiti alla fermata di un bus.Ad ogni modo,per la realizzazione di questo movie,Glover convocò diversi musicisti,ognuno impegnato in un singolo pezzo.Fra questi Ronnie James Dio(Elf,Black Sabbath) e David Coverdale(Deep Purple).Il film si avvalse anche della partecipazione di Twiggy( top model e icona anni’70) e Vincent Price(famoso attore horror americano) nei panni di narratore. Butterfly Ball,non ebbe molto successo in Inghilterra(sebbene venne presentato al Royal Albert Hall,South Kensington,Londra,nel ’75),ma in compenso fu numero uno nei Paesi Bassi,in Francia,dove “Love is all” veniva trasmessa come sottofondo ai momentanei guasti tecnici in TV,in Olanda e America.
Sotto i pezzi dell’album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast (la copertina del disco è di Alan Aldridge,famoso graphic designer e illustratore londinese)

  1. Dawn” (Glover) 1.21
  2. Get Ready” (Glover) 2.06
  3. Saffron Dormouse and Lizzy Bee” (Glover) 1.25
  4. Harlequin Hare” (Glover/Dio/Soule) 1.26
  5. Old Blind Mole” (Glover) 1.11
  6. Magician Moth” (Glover) 1.33
  7. No Solution” (Glover) 3.28
  8. Behind The Smile” (Glover) 1.46
  9. Fly Away” (Glover) 2.22
  10. Aranea” (Glover) 1.37
  11. Sitting In A Dream” (Glover) 3.40
  12. Waiting” (Glover) 3.11
  13. Sir Maximus Mouse” (Glover) 2.35
  14. Dreams of Sir Bedievere” () 4.09
  15. Together Again” (Glover/Dio/Soule) 2.05
  16. Watch Out For The Bat” (Glover) 1.41
  17. Little Chalk Blue” (Glover/Hardin) 3.44 CD Reissue only
  18. The Feast” (Glover) 1.48
  19. Love Is All” (Glover/Hardin) 3.14
  20. Homeward” (Glover/Hardin) 4.12

Album Track Listing:Fonte:http://akashaman.blogspot.com/