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Saturday, 30 June 2012

Meditations on John

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29 June

This is a companion-piece to Meditations on Matthew

For the performance, I shall dwell on the positives, as the lack of separation of voices in the choral singing did not make, for me, for clarity in to-night’s St John Passion. With such a large work, not everything is likely to be totally to one’s satisfaction, and it is the overall feeling with which one is left that counts.

First, the variations in power and expression that David Shipley brought to the role of Christus made it a joy: not that joy has much part in the Passion, and sadness came to the fore, with tears, when he told his mother that the disciple whom he loved was her son, and to the disciple that she was his mother.

As to what holds the passion together, Mark Wilde’s recitative as Christus was beautifully sung, and the effect of the narration, in tandem with that of the chorales was truly thought provoking, stimulating identification, reflection, and, amongst other things, an imtimate sense of how what The Evangelist is saying brings the story close to us.

More to come...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Down the Elephant and Castle for a lark

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28 June

Well, I probably have many reasons to be grateful to
Wikipedia®, some of which cannot be wisely publicized, but I am very pleased by this:

A common misconception is that the term "elephant and castle" is a corruption of "la Infanta de Castilla"

Not the sort of misconception that you would have because you dreamt it up, in the way that someone did a few well-touted (pseudo)statistics (such as inspiration v. perspiration and how much is in the words), but only because some factotum droned on, prefacing the whiffle by Of course as if it were all self evident, and wanted to get you to believe it. On some basis, there would be those who did, and who might then have passed it on to chums, family and colleagues with It's not really, you know.

The entry is an entertainining little piece, with even a Shakespearean reference, and tells you about such delights as Hannibal House (someone with a sense of humour in the planning department for Southwark? - no, I didn't mean that Hannibal!).

But forget what they tell you about the origins, and think giant chess (not necessarily in the spirit of Ron Weasley): the game was very popular in the outdoor form that we know from the seaside and the like, and this far before The Blitz, and a showman amazed onlookers with his chess-playing elephant.

Curse though I am for spoiling the story, but the elephant was just very good at following its human companion's instructions (for he was the real brains behind the outfit), and he would communicate moves to it, for execution with its trunk. The castle part came from the elephant's apparent fondness for employing the piece to get to check-mate (either that or from the sign used to advertise the attraction).

Interview with Mark Brown: The New Mental Health (1)

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28 June

This is just a place-holder - stop-gap, temporary blog-content - until I can post my interview with the editor of One in Four* magazine, Mark Brown.

Mark will be answering questions about The New Mental Health, which, following an important speech that he gave about it at a conference in Perth in Western Australia, he has just announced has been launched.

One in Four is written by people, including Mark, who have mental health difficuties for people - whether or not they have those difficulties - who want to read about the experience of having them or the further difficulties to which they give rise. (One might include construing that sentence!)

As I have grown to like this page, I shall, now that I shall soon be in a position to give Mark's answers to my questions, post the questions here:

1. Mark, you've called this The New Mental Health - what are you hoping for from
that choice of name?

2. Was launching this new approach in your mind before your strong speech in Perth, Australia?

Was there a flow of energy, in both directions, with writing the speech itself and gauging how people related to you and to you giving it?

3. Your magazine, One in Four, seems to distance itself from whether 'mental health difficulties' arise from - and are the field of - medicine by using those words. For you, will that still be the preferred term in talking about The New Mental Health?

4. Providers of services in 'old' mental health are usually hospital trusts, and, although separately set up, are part of the NHS.

Do you think that the NHS links bring with them a tendency towards being averse to risk or to a truly creative input into services from those who receive them?

5. Conversely, and maybe potentially, how might The New Mental Health differ, and what innovations in services and how, where and when they are available are likely?

6. Other than money, and enthusiastic participants, what else do you think that The New Mental Health will need to thrive?

7. Do you also expect any opposition from entrenched old approaches, and, if so, do you yet know how to challenge it?

8. Yes, the dreaded question, but let's make it three years: what do you believe the place of The New Mental Health will be in providing services by then, and why?

9. Finally, what message have you, both for those excited by The New Mental Health, and for the sceptically minded, who might be mindful of the tale of the monarch and his fresh wardrobe?

Follow this link now for the full interview...


* Thanks to an underdeveloped keystroke, that nearly ended up as the rather different One in Fur!


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Tamara Stefanovich is in love with Scarlatti (and Bartók)

An account of when Tamara Stefanovich re-created Béla Bartók’s recital in Aldeburgh

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23 June

An account of when Tamara Stefanovich re-created Béla Bartók’s recital in Aldeburgh

You could see it in her face (which I saw in profile) as she read the scores and came to passages that engaged and enchanted her. (She played the Debussy beautifully in the programme that she was repeating from Béla Bartók’s recital in Aldeburgh, and even gave an encore of his prelude Footprints in the snow, but the look wasn’t there.) There was a definite smile, and there was the sort of reaction as if she were studying details of a lover’s face and suddenly finding a new expression, or a new way of the light catching it.

According to the quotation from Diderot that Richard Sennett had read at his lecture two days earlier, if it had not betrayed immersion in the communion between the composer’s score (between her and that of these three male composers), making faces during a performance would have been a bad approach to playing. As for me, I liked it, seeing her light up, sometimes even surprised (at a score that she also played yesterday), because she was obviously so much at one with what she was playing.

With Bartók, I noticed that she relished passages with cross-rhythms, the more declamatory statements of a theme (as towards the end of the Romanian Folk Dances of 1915), and also had a fondness for the fay and fantastic, the swaying movement or the outlandish gesture.

I was paying less attention at the outset of the recital, which had three Scarlatti sonatas that I do not recall hearing before – not, then, so much good for Bartók in his choice (and, I gather, he had made an edition), as shame on us in this century (and the last) that we still play just relatively few. Nonetheless, it was clear that Stefanovich was delighted at the articulation of a new theme, and how the music developed in certain places.

With regard to the way that the programme itself built up, Bartók had made a selection that worked well. For example, his Three Burlesques (started in 1908) could have been written in the knowledge of Debussy’s Pour le piano (finished in 1901), and Bartók might, for that reason (or because he anyway thought that they would lead well into the other composer’s world*), have placed them where he did.

Likewise, the Allegro barbaro had space, before and after, just to be itself, not throwing the other pieces into relief, but providing a contrast. Stefanovich made this programme her own, seeming quite at home with it: playing the composers with equal conviction, and giving us the subtlest dynamic variations, after the liveliness of the opening Prélude, in Pour le piano. Debussy himself then seemed especially sure of the bewitching power his themes in the second and third pieces (Sarabande and Toccata).

Happening to speak to Tamara Stefanovich briefly later, I clarified with her whether she had seen her remit to recreate Bartók’s performance. She told me that, although she had listened to recordings of his playing and had noted how he varied his adherence to time, she had not set out to imitate him, but to interpret the music as herself in the light of what she had heard.

It was a very impressive and thoughtful recital of seventy minutes without a break (I imagine that a break would not have been feasible on the original occasion, with a schoolful of girls to be settled in the church hall). My only doubt was, when it was not – as it no longer exists – the church hall in which Bartók played, what point there was in having the recreation recital in somewhere not ideal.

In fact, the Yamaha grand piano dwarfed the stage, leaving little room, on one side, for the wonted upright, and, on the other, the performer: I simply do not know how authentic such a black beast would have been to a performance in a town in the 1920s. I suspect that Bartók’s music may have proved a bigger beast, because it was my perception that the piano went out of tune.

An addendum :

I have since belatedly read the entry for these events (Stefanovich had given the recital, at the same place, the day before, after the lecture by Malcolm Gillies about Bartók's visits to Britain), and I need to say that there had been a reason, although a slightly tenuous one, for using the church hall in Aldeburgh (rather than a room better fitted to the quality of both the playing and the programme). It turns out that this hall had been the former chapel of Belstead Girls' School, and had been re-errected for the parish as its church hall.

However, although Bartók's programme for the recital is known (in his lecture, I am fairly sure that Mr Gillies had not - whether he had one - displayed an original printed document that set it out), and also that Bartók had been invited to play at the school itself. The performance was mainly for the benefit of the girls (although others could pay to be admitted : Mr Gillies showed the document that advertised the concert, which specified no programme, only five shillings for a reserved seat, otherwise two and six).

The venue remains unknown : the advertising does not give it, and, although Mr Gillies had the chance to interview a pupil (part of which he shared with us), it appears that doing so did not shed light on the question. So it may may have been the chapel, now serving as the church hall, but it may not...

End-notes :

* I come back to what I wrote about Colin Matthews and his orchestrations, feeling again that – just as it does a hand – the Debussy fitted its instrument like a glove.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Playing a hand with the Lord

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26 June

You know that your mind is not in quite the right place to listen to a petit motet, even if you've never heard one live before, when you start thinking certain things on seeing the line

speravit anima mea in Domino

Yes, maybe pizza, but equally that game with the spotted rectangular pieces! (Still a pub classic, in some areas, with the regulars having grudge matches, I believe.) Do we really get the name of dominoes from here?

Wikipedia® is to be believed, though, favela has nothing to do with this other line, in the Dies irae, as set by Lully for the funreal (?) of Marie-Thérèse, wife of Louis XIV, meaning 'will deserve the world in ashes':

solvet saeculum in favilla

Odd, as a slum area would seem to have quite a lot in common with a world dissolved in ashes. Be that as it may, the real revelation comes towards the end of this text that he composed for:

flammis acribus addictis

This, translated as 'doomed to flames of woe', seems to shed some light on the nature of real addiction, of being doomed to do something: when the word 'addiction' came to mean what it does, was someone making a judgement, whether or not moral, on the power of the person to escape it?

Sounds like a fairly condemnatory appraisal to me, which does not allow for hope - or change. Its life-history is in line for being gtracked down...

Monday, 25 June 2012

My new favourites

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26 June

Two new browsers, and both straight out of (old-style) Doctor Who:



Maxthon has to be a strange, deserted planet with a Dalíesque quality to it, telegraph-poles supported by what one won't look too closely at, mirages, weird constructions with boiled beans. Whereas Dalvik is - predictably - an evil genius, trying, by frantic calculation, to find the formula that makes everything implode on itself.

OK, hints of the last adventure, Logopolis, for Tom Baker, but it's late... And the residents of Logopolis were (till The Master got them), after all, performing calculations that sustained the fabric of the universe, and the loss of the mathematics, if it hadn't been for The Doctor employing The Pharos Project to reprogramme space - time (albeit too late to save Nissa's family on Traken), was what caused the destructive void to open up.

Class dismissed!

This poem is not just about Connie Booth

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26 June

This poem is not just about Connie Booth

Connie Booth
Is so smooth
That it shows

Andrew Sachs
Had attacks,
I am told

Prunella Scales
Recited tales
Of the east

John Cleese
Fights disease
To the last

© Copyright Belston Night Works 2012


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26 June


Sane and serene
They seem
These lights
From places not there
Where they appear

And, in the north,
I will never see
For myself
What the south has
As its 'show'

The tilt of the earth,
That darkness
We call night,
At best the moon

And all can see it,
If, at the poles,
Maybe eightfold
Like the sun
The overhead sun

Yet, midnight sun
Though it is,
It tends to melt
Rather little

These pinprick cousins
At night
Melt less still,
But melt me,
Melt my heart

© Copyright Belston Night Works 2012

Tu es Petrus

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25 June

There may be others who remember an averagely diverting series about a gumshoe - if he wasn't a serving police officer - called Petrocelli. (Probably, I could find out, and even buy some DVDs on Amazon for old time's sake, but there's already too much else to watch.)

He made me think (remembering the name caused the thought) of petrochemicals and petroleum, as well as whether it was a plausible Italian surname, and that took me to what Jesus said to Peter:

Much theology wants to describe what happens when Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Jesus (using different words for the verb 'to love', as C. S. Lewis and others have observed), and to call what Jesus then says to him the 'reinstatement' of Peter. Me, I don't know whether he was reinstated or not (i.e. whether he needed reinstating).

What I do know, as others point out, is the pun that comes out in the Latin version of what was said (presumably from the Vulgate, unless, at this point in the gospel (or is it in Acts?), Jesus utters the words in Latin), which is where we came from with these products and fuels derived from what is under the rock. That, and Jesus, referring to Peter as a foundation (taken as the basis for the authenticity of the Roman Catholic faith*) when he says that on him he will build his church.

I think that it it the word ecclesia that he would have used, from which we, in turn, derive Ecclesiastes and ecclesiastical law, but I really don't know what was meant: not, I suspect, a church as we have it to-day, even if a body of people (rather than a building), and also not, I suspect, the unbroken line of succession that is supposed to go back to Peter (as the basis for the Vatican and what foes with it)...

Funny where thinking about a detective's name takes you!


According to, 'The Holy See consists of the Roman Curia and other offices and services which assist the Supreme Pontiff in the Petrine Ministry'.

What is Pritter's Achilles' heel?

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25 June

Serious or not, I do not believe that it is any more possible to have a debate by Splatter/Twatter than by MSN Messenger: with the latter, because of the immediacy of seeing the other person's reponse, it's all too easy to feel the need to reply quickly (perhaps, more and more quickly) and, sooner or later, say something (or in such a way) that, if interpreted differently, gives rise to offence, defence and even reprisal.

In theory, if the visuals on Skype weren't such rubbish and not in synch, it would be better than a telephone-call. Still, with a conversation by telephone, there is potential for noticing and acting on such cues as inflexion, intonation, breathiness of the voice, involuntary ways of evincing surprise, shock, etc. - you know, all those things that go to make up the 92% in that standard iceberg cod-psychology diagram*, which purports to show how little of the meaning in a face-to-face conversation is in the words. (Oh yes, generalizing diagram? Just try saying 'You're fired!'(or 'Your mother is dead') to someone in a serious voice, and ask how little he or she took from your words!)

As to Pratter, with a character-limit similar to text-messaging's regrettable re-invention of the telegram's pressure on words to save charges, it should be no worse than text-messaging, except that there is an arena, a sort of Big Top: by which I mean that, if I send a text-message to Dr Paul, some time (which may be longer than one expects) it gets to his phone and, one hopes, he reads it and, in his own time, replies (if it needs a reply).

So much holds true for both: I can choose to expend money or time on an extended text-message, just as I can send a follow-up Tweet straight after. What remains (or results) is the fragmentary nature, not just of the correspondence, but also of the means of conducting it (especially on a handheld device), which has the potential, not least when other debates / conversations are going on at the same, for participants not stopping to check what the other person did say before letting go a broadside.

However, telecomms errors and hacking apart, a text-message doesn't go to anyone else's phone, for which read 'is publicly available on Witter - until I choose to delete it - for anyone who decides to do what is weirdly called following me' (sounds like licensed stalking ['Someone's following me' never sounded like a good thing before], but there we go. Here, though, with my debate with Dr Paul, which may involve misunderstandings, misrememberings, misconceptions, all this is (circus again!) being played out before an audience, even if it probably is an audience that couldn't care less, and glances - or scrolls - past**.

I believe that that element of 'dirty washing in public' changes things, both as to the things said, and the desire (albeit resistible) to say things back. Combine that with doing whatever it is in 140 characters, or multiples thereof, and what a mess results!

And who softened the blow / profile of all this under the cunning aegis of calling it all 'social media'? Pratter is a tool that has the potential to be a divisive medium, if not just a repository for endlessly spread links to Internet items or products whose actual worth or interest one cannot judge from the Tweet itself. This sheer advertisement and self-promotion might be better placed on t.v.


* Which, as Tomkinson's Schooldays would possibly say, was seen by Potter Minor on a training-course, reproduced afterwards with slightly variant percentages and passed on to Venables, who couldn't read the scribbled figures, but had a guess, and delivered them in a lecture heard by Barnstoneworth, who told Eric Olthwaite...

** Unlike the rubbernecking that gives rise to those dangerous slow-downs on Motorways, as if either the pulled-over police-car with the flashing lights gives a screw about the other drivers' speeds just at that moment, or the sight of a vehicle on its side is inescapably edifying.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Knots in a whale

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24 June

When Kelly Ann Parsons became Kelly Brook, maybe no one had my inclination to try making Spoonerisms of everything – Belly Crook?

It could mean that she steals people’s stomachs, or, in the Australian sense, that a recent meal disagreed with her. (Either way, I wish that I could erase this thought and think of her name as I used to!)

But names are funny things, and have what the phrase calls a life of their own. How else would an NHS Trust come up with a title for a policy (‘P’ for policy) that spelt out CRAP? You could say that they were at least honest about the worth of the contents…

Odd words (1)

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24 June

I happened to be thinking about Harry Potter, trying to remember the exact name of the listening-devices tellingly used by Hermione, Ron and him, and I ended up thinking about the word 'sneak' and 'to sneak':

As in 'sneaking a look', what the trio of friends do is to eavesdrop (another interesting word, I suspect) on what they should not be hearing. Likewise, creeping in somewhere, in the hope that others will be unaware, is 'sneaking in'*.

All well and good. If we turn to a person who tells others' misdeeds to those in authority, i.e. 'sneak' as a noun (also called a tell-tale), the illicit act is not (necessarily) finding out the information covertly, but in revealing what those people intended to be secret.

Which brings us back to the verb, the Peeping Tom / Lady Godiva aspect, of what was being done or discussed privately (because confidential), though, of course, the lady's act of riding a horse was rather more public. And what a shame that we remember not her civil disobedience at her husband's cruel measures, but this prurient element. In fact, whatever myth there may be, do we even know whether her opposition bore any fruit (other than the unwitting, negative one of Tom's downfall)?


* There is the US past tense 'snuck', for 'sneaked', that t.v. and film have given us.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Authenticity and the actual

Quitting Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI for Tamara Stefanovich

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8 July

Quitting Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI for Tamara Stefanovich

It was my big chance - hearing Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI - and, I had thought, a fitting end to a great few days of talks, concerts and even a film at Aldeburgh.

Only he and his three fellow musicians weren't a string quartet, but we were sitting in the same artificial hush as if they were, and we were hearing them play what was clearly, often enough, music for dancing, yet in a concert.

But, since we were in a concert, there was a mismatch that just didn't work for me any more than it does when people in a jazz-gig do not have a natural impulse to applaud - or even urge on - a striking solo.

The ancientness of one instrument that Savall was playing was patent in that it looked like a tree-stump, but I didn't know which of it was which and which the other, and the way in which the music was coming to us in this place seemed at odds with however accurate the performance-style and elaboration of each piece may have been : in more ways than one, I just could not believe that it was intended to be listened to or presented in this way.

Yes, maybe, if there had been dancers, it would have been different. I don't know what would have helped me feel that I was not in a sterile environment, trying to listen to the life in what was being played, but I just know that, however appropriately relaxed the musicians were, the resultant event felt stiff and unnatural.

I took the chance to write about Tamara Stefanovich's recital, and didn't go back for the second half :

For me, that helped to preserve (and not just in the form of a blog-posting) what I had related to in those few days, so that I could drive home happy.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Do you want to contract with me?

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22 June

The language of business is changing:

People no longer seem to want to talk about making or entering into a contract, but have - from somewhere - adopted this practice of talking about it not as a thing to be agreed, but as an action.

So the riposte to the line from the title is: No, you get smaller all on your own!

And the main issue is that no one seems to know how to say this bisyllabic verb, except that it cannot be the same as the noun. So, this most artificial of human activities sounds forced, and tense, and awkward, as maybe it should do...

The Unthanks and a film

This is a Festival review of A Very English Winter : The Unthanks (2012)

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21 June

This is a Festival review of A Very English Winter : The Unthanks (2012)

This was a cinema premiere of A Very English Winter : The Unthanks, a film made for t.v. (for BBC Four), introduced by the film-maker, who had perhaps prepared a little too much to say for such an occasion. Although Rachel Unthank and her sister Becky (Rebecca) were mentioned as clog-dancers as well as folk-singers, they had no opportunity to demonstrate the former skills, although they did take place in what was called a molly dance (which would originally have been to seek to raise funds for the ploughboys at the start of the traditional agricultural year) and one in which six dancers with swords came together to form a star.

Rachel and Becky ventured south to Lincolnshire, to Ramsey in Cambridgeshire, and Lewes in Sussex, but were not in the south-west at all, and otherwise in Yorkshire or nearby counties. The film ran chronologically and comprised six or seven events, starting with Hallowe’en and a mummer’s play, in which The Black Prince tried to attack King George. The prince was killed, but revived by a doctor with various potions, before Beelzebub put in an appearance and stole someone’s pint, which he impressively downed in one.

Whether quite, as the commentary by The Unthanks claimed, these various traditions such as lighting tar-barrels (carried on the head), parading through Lewes in costume and with huge numbers of fireworks on 5 November, and singing carols to lively melodies that had been written in the seventeeth and eighteenth century and banned by the church as too riotous showed adherence to beliefs other than wanting to do what previous generations had done (as was attested by cine footage) is perhaps doubtful: the anti-popery banners in Lewes turned out to be said to relate to an unnamed holder of papal power who, if he had been as bad, would have been one of the anti-popes anyway, and, although driving away evil figured in the mummer’s play, it was not obvious whether people did believe in ‘the embodiment of evil’.

As it is, I think that our traditions of writing and portraying evil on the screen do often show it as other, as the blacked-up Black Prince* was: we have a Lord Voldemort or a Hannibal to relate to and to wish for his undoing, even if life is maybe a little more complicated than that.


* In truth, The Black Prince was an honourable knight, much loved and his death bewailed, as the glory of his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral shows, with all his ‘achievements’, i.e. his gauntlets, plumes, helm, etc., above him (these are copies, with the originals on view nearby), making clear that he was valued as the height of chivalry.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Early Bartók

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20 June

A report from The Aldeburgh Festival:

The piano quintet by Bartók, apparently written 1903 to 1904 (and revised in 1920), is not even like the early string quartets in sounding like Bartók - except perhaps in the wicked dissonances of the second movement and, as it developed, its rhythmicity.

This piece, in four movements (the third and fourth linked), sounded initially as though the main influence had been Brahms, though it did not sound like Brahms, but another composer, aware of his piano quintet. As it progressed, though there were even vague hints of Chopin’s writing for orchestra and piano, and stronger ones of Dvorak (particularly the Dumky piano trio) and Tchaikovsky (Piano Trio No. 1), but the main person, perhaps, without whom this could not have been written was Liszt.

Obviously, in common with Dvorak, a composer who acknowledged folk music in his work, but, for me, the signs of Liszt at play were in the phrasing, the attack when the piano planted chords of its own as complement to that of the strings, and the sheer exuberance of cutting loose.

It would not have been, in true Lisztian style, for the piano to support the string texture so much, and supply it with patterns, motifs and melodies that the strings did not exactly took over, but maybe worked through with the piano, but I nonetheless see his thought-world in the making of this piece. Especially in one moment, I think in the third movement, where the piano doodles with some trills and a few related notes, and from this, as if magically (yet contrarily organically), a melody emerged.

Maybe there aren’t many recordings of this (I’d be surprised if there were), and maybe the magic of to-night’s playing by Tamara Stefanovich and The Keller Quartet wouldn’t be matched, but I shall be looking into this piece a little further – and not just to see if anyone else agrees with me about what was in Bartók’s mind and soul at the time!

Afterwards came a performance of the composer's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion, admirably performed when Stefanovich was joined by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and by Daniel Ciampolini and Sawm Walton. It was a long time, too long to name, since I had heard this piece, and the first time to hear it live.

Infected though I was by what Richard Sennett had written in the programme about his lecture the following day to the effect that members of the audience, not just the performers, can be anxious that something will go wrong, I managed to put from my mind the notion that Ciampolini might come in at the wrong place or miss it altogether by concentrating on the pianists, and I had one the musical experiences of a lifetime, even confusing, though I was, the Piano Concerto No. 1 and even the Musi for Percussion, Strings and Celeste as to what came next.

The smile on my face said it all, and the rest of the audience were just as enthusiastic with their applause.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Beneficial exercise - or not going to the gym (1)

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14 June

A pill to motivate you to hit the gym?

Sounds too good to be true - but scientists think they have cracked it

The usual wittering of some sign-on page or other

If only there were a pill to motivate you to take that gym-motivation pill

And a pill to motivate you to take that one, &c., &c.

Or a pill so that such rot selectively just became invisible or did not attract the eye / mind / soul and wrap it up in the dross of ages past!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Some poets

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13 June

Passing for quirky observation, a string of abuse

At readings, some poets:

* Are just better at reading poetry - theirs or that of others (though not necessarily 'alike')

* Apologize for their poetry, in either of two principal ways

* Either explaining how it came to be written, or by saying - in more or less so many words - Here it is, for what it's worth

* Need to be told, in response, that it probably weakens hearing the poem to have it explained, and that, if they do not have confidence in their work, maybe they should not have had the confidence to say that they would take part

* After all, not even in his notes*, does T. S. Eliot, I think, apologize for quoting Wagner texts in The Waste Land, or otherwise, in the opening lines, suddenly introducing the German of Bin gar keine Russin**

* Forget that, as some have noted before, those listening just will not 'get' every reference (even if they study a text), and feel they need explanation

* Do not stop to realize that it appears curious to have put the references in, but still feel obliged to say what they mean, unless they are to be construed as boasting what they have seen, done, heard or read

* Read too quickly, not letting their words / lines / metre speak or sing

* On account of reading too quickly, and not allowing the reading to breathe, also underplay the end of each poem

* Maybe do not want to leave the final line hanging in the air, but there is little danger, as they are already finding the next book-mark, or starting with further words to introduce the next poem (whether its title or an explanation), and which mingle with the closing words

* Would, if they do not easily let each poem have a time just to be when read, benefit from applause between one choice and the next, which might slow them

* Might feel less frightened, and exude less fear, if they had the feedback of applause, although it seems sacrilege in poetry-reading circles


* Which, I am assured, were to fill up space, and not to be taken seriously, however fascinating the fisher-king.

** We have all heard of The Baltic States now, so Stamme aus Litauen / Echt deutsch that follows might mean more.


Monday, 11 June 2012

Of Cabbages and Kings

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11 June

To Chris Bell

Heat me, said the soup.

It was not, as fictional unwanted soup is, glutinous. It looked, smelt, tasty soup. That said, it was conciliatory cabbage, begging to be eaten.

But I hated cabbage and my former lover with it. When I used to do all the cooking, why did she think that I needed a bloody food-parcel? Good soup, trying to say I love you, I want you back, but made with what I didn’t eat – what was I, Ivan Denisovich?

I could just have dropped the pot in the bin, but I wanted to boil it dry, cremate it in the oven, and write huge offensive slogans with the residue. The saucepan had other ideas.

Hey, it said, I’m the reincarnation of Goering: treat me with some respect! The author of The Blitz, demanding respect from me. I heated the soup. Ate it with silent rage. It was delicious.

Madonna in Turkey

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11 June

There is a piece on MSN (
'Why Madonna's made a right boob of it') about what Madonna did in her concert in Istanbul last week, flashing the nipple of her right breast during one song (Human Nature).

I tried to post a comment, but, for want of succeeding, here it is:

I don't see how, by calling women 'the fairer sex' (which is patronizing), this article does them any favours, because it simultaneously claims that Madonna has 'been a role model for women for nearly three decades' and that she always chooses to behave disgracefully and to trade on images of overt sex.

So is she a role model, championing sexual freedom, or is she an embarassment? Are women, lining the streets of our cities at night in precious few clothes, championing their sexual freedom or a disgrace? Would they flash a breast, if they felt like it?

I don't know who does claim Madonna as a role model, but there's no getting over the things that haven't been mentioned: appearing in Playboy, her explicit book Sex, and the film In Bed with Madonna, where she confronts another woman with a reference to their previous lesbian activity, so wouldn't that model have to include those undeniable matters, as I am not aware that she has recanted?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

More about zoo animals - Harry Potter and the serpent

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9 June

On that date, when I began this posting as a reminder to myself, we could read (on MSN) the caption:

Visitors to Rotterdam Zoo capture amazing footage of a submerged polar bear attempting to shatter his glass enclosure with a rock

Presumably, the vertical image of such a bear, not clearly doing anything (it could have been standing at a counter, waiting to order a drink), was - or was meant to be - that bear.

If so, as I have suggested, the choice of what to show was a poor one, if it was meant to exemplify the 'amazing footage', i.e. nothing very amazing about it, and a picture barely worth 10 words (This is a polar bear upright in water in Rotterdam zoo).

What is more amazing is the cunning, maybe subconscious, use of the word capture, for no bear would - unless bred there, with parents from the wild (itself, an awkwardly poor way of describing The Animal Kingdom where it is meant to live) - be in the zoo without having been captured. Our Let's capture this on tape! has the same thrill of the early explorers, and, in common with them, makes the chase more valuable than the rights or liberty of the thing to be caught.

Any story where an animal supposedly safely, i.e. we are safe from it, in captivity does something violent or dangerous is apparently newsworthy. I believe that I made a posting a few months back about a giraffe being attacked, which I shall endeavour to locate. Yes, thanks to the tag (and not a giraffe as such): Escaped lion kills camel at zoo (according to AOL®).

Which is where I come in with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Whether it is Tom Riddle's snake Nandini, the basilisk, or the one in the zoo, there is something thrilling about the fangs, the venom, the glass disappearing, or the serpent otherwise making an unfriendly house-call...

Is Professor McMillan for real?

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9 June

I'm sure that he's real, but is his every word on The Verb for real?
As I have said in a Tweet or two, great though it is to have the programme, has Professor Ian's geniality begun to wear a bit thin? That and the attempt to shock, inspire and amuse - I know it's the cabaret of the word, but cabarets don't always have the same Master of Ceremonies, and I don't get:
* Asking me to listen as if I were missing a layer of skin (in the last programme)
* Never having anything critical to say, although the occasional provoctaive question
* Even why there are so many regulars, given commissions or challenges
I have no regrets: without The Verb, I would probably not have heard Janice Galloway, written two pieces that I submitted to its competitions, encountered Paul Griffiths as (contrary)novelist (about which I have blogged elsewhere), etc., etc.
But would the next series of the programme benefit from giving guest hosts a turn, which worked well with Have I Got News For You? when Angus fell from grace.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Spot the film

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9 June

No, I didn't mean 'Spot, the film', or anything to do with fictional dogs!*

Take a look at this:

A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.

What springs out about this as a one-sentence synopsis (taken from IMDb)?

* Is it the pointless specificity of giving Cary Grant's occupation (or calling)?

* Likewise as to when in his life the revelation takes place?

* The banality of the tone in which the message is conveyed? As if the text read

An accountant learns on his way home that his beloved maiden aunts are going on a long journey, and that a liking for travel runs in his family.

* Or is it this? That whether objectively the sisters are killers, who are acting under a delusion, they believe themselves to be sisters of mercy, saving those whom they despatch from further suffering


* This pointless gibe at the writings of one Lynn Truss was sponsored by a major Plc.

NHS Choices : content reviewed

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8 June

Who's mad here*?:

Thank you for contributing to the NHS Choices website. We have removed your
contribution because we feel it is unsuitable for publication on this page. We
do not allow comments which actively seek to dissuade other site users from
following the evidence-based health advice provided.

Judge for yourself:

Commenting on ('Exercise 'still valid depression treatment')

“Exercise doesn't help depression,” according to The Guardian. The paper said that patients advised to exercise fare no better than those who receive only standard care.

Exercise is among the treatments for depression currently recommended by the NHS, with many patients 'prescribed' a course of physical activity as an alternative to antidepressant medication or therapy. Despite what several headlines have suggested, new research has not re-examined the effect of exercise on depression, but instead looked at whether giving depressed patients additional support to encourage exercise proved beneficial.

During the research, 361 adults with depression were randomly allocated to receive either standard treatment or standard treatment with additional encouragement and advice on exercise. Standard treatment can include medication, therapy and physical activity. This means that all participants could take up prescribed exercise, but some had greater encouragement to do so.

The research found that encouraging activity increased physical activity levels but did not reduce depressive symptoms more than standard care alone. This is a useful finding for NHS staff wishing to know the best way to help patients with depression. However, given that the study did not test the general effect of exercise, the results do not support the view that exercise is 'useless' for treating depression, as some news sources have suggested.

Exercise has a host of benefits for physical and mental health, which may help patients with depression in ways other than reducing their immediate depressive symptoms. These include reducing the risks of other diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, and the Peninsula Medical School. It was funded by the Department of Health as part of the National Institute for Health Research’s Health Technology Assessment programme.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal.

Media reports of this story were slightly misleading, and may have given the impression that the researchers specifically tested the effect of exercise. This was not the case, as the research compared two groups of people who were offered the same range of treatments, but with one group receiving additional support and advice designed to encourage exercise. This meant that all participants had access to exercise-based treatments, but some received some additional encouragement.

The Metro newspaper went too far in saying that the study showed exercise “had no positive benefits on mental health”. The study in question looked at the effect of one particular exercise intervention programme on depression symptoms, so did not directly address other mental health problems or other exercise programmes.

What kind of research was this?

This UK-based multi-centre randomised controlled trial (RCT) looked at whether a specific exercise support programme helped reduce symptoms of depression in adults more than standard care alone. The study was 'pragmatic' in nature, which means it tested interventions in a real-world setting rather than in the highly artificial environment of many trials. For example, patients were prescribed the most appropriate form of treatment from a range currently used in clinical practice, rather than a set treatment that might not have been ideal for them. As such, the study was well designed to assess how the exercise programme would work in reality.

The authors say previous evidence suggests that exercise is beneficial for people with depression, but that this evidence has come from small, less well-designed studies using interventions that may not be practical for use by the NHS. Therefore, this latest research aimed to investigate whether depression symptoms could be reduced by an activity programme that could be practically implemented by the NHS if deemed effective.

This type of study is one of the most effective at demonstrating whether a particular health programme, or 'intervention', has a measurable benefit in patients.

What did the research involve?

The researchers recruited 361 patients, aged 18 to 69 years old, who had recently been diagnosed with depression by their GP. Participants were randomly divided into two groups, who received either usual care methods from their GP or usual care plus a physical activity intervention.

Participants were recruited if they were not taking antidepressant medication at the time of initial diagnosis or if they had been prescribed antidepressants but had not taken these for at least four weeks before their diagnosis. Patients with depression who had failed to respond previously to antidepressants were excluded from the study, as were people aged 70 or over.

Participants in both groups were asked to continue to follow the healthcare advice of their GP for their depression. This was classed as 'usual care' by the researchers. Both groups were, therefore, free to access any treatment usually available in primary care, including antidepressants, counselling, referral to 'exercise on prescription' schemes or secondary care mental health services. However, those in the physical activity group were also offered up to three face-to-face sessions and 10 telephone calls with a trained physical activity facilitator over eight months. The intervention aimed to provide individually tailored support and encouragement to help participants engage in physical activity.

Depression was measured before enrolment and then at four, eight and 12 months after the intervention to measure any changes. Depression was initially diagnosed using standard, recognised assessments, including the 'clinical interview schedule-revised' and the 'Beck depression inventory'. Subsequent changes in depression symptoms were based on self-reported symptoms of depression, as assessed by the Beck inventory score.

During a trial, researchers should aim to conceal, if possible, which treatments participants receive. This is known as 'blinding' and avoids the risk of bias from participants knowing which treatment they are getting. This study was a 'single blinded' RCT as treatment allocation was concealed from the study researchers. It was not feasible to blind the participants to which group they’d been allocated to.

The analysis of this study was appropriate and based on an 'intention to treat principle'. This means that everyone who was allocated to a group was included in the final analysis, irrespective of whether they followed the intervention or dropped out. This is good way of analysing the 'real world' effects of an intervention.

What were the basic results?

At month four, there were no statistically significant improvements in mood among participants encouraged to exercise compared to those in the usual care group. Similarly, there was no evidence that the intervention group had significantly improved mood at the 12-month follow-up compared to those receiving usual care only.

There was no evidence that the exercise intervention led to a statistically significant reduction in the use of antidepressants compared to usual care.

Using data from all three follow-up points combined (four months, eight months and 12 months), the participants in the intervention group reported significantly more physical activity during the follow-up period than those in the usual care group, which was maintained at 12 months. This suggested the activity-support intervention was successful at increasing activity levels. Importantly, the participants stuck with the intervention well and completed on average 7.2 sessions with their exercise advisor. By four months, 102 (56%) participants had at least five contacts with the advisors.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers concluded that adding an intervention to usual care that encouraged physical activity did not reduce symptoms of depression or the use of antidepressants compared to usual care alone, despite the exercise intervention significantly increasing physical activity levels.


This well-designed randomised control study provides strong evidence that adding an exercise-promoting support programme to standard care did not significantly reduce symptoms of depression compared to standard care alone.

While this study has many strengths, including its large size and randomised design, it is important to bear in mind its limitations.

This study assessed just one type of exercise intervention that involved facilitating greater activity levels. Therefore, this study does not tell us whether other types of support or exercise programme may have a positive effect on depression. Consequently, the study’s findings do not mean that no exercise interventions can reduce symptoms of depression, especially as there is some evidence from systematic reviews that certain types of exercise intervention may be therapeutic.

Also, there are other benefits of exercise beyond those related to mental health. The Daily Mail quoted an expert as saying: “It is important to note that increased physical activity is beneficial for people with other medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and, of course, these conditions can affect people with depression.” The trial did not assess whether exercise prevents depression.

Exercise has a host of benefits for physical and mental health that may help patients with depression in ways other than reducing their immediate symptoms. However, the finding that this exercise support intervention doesn’t seem to reduce depressive symptoms is very useful to NHS staff wishing to know what interventions may help patients with this condition.

So far so good?

The Agent Apsley said on 07 June 2012

OK, so what we seem to learn is that those experiencing depression, if encouraged, will tend to exercise and go on exercising, as against those with just access to information and a lower level of advice from their GP.

Well, any good habit needs to be fostered, and the best of us needs encouragement - I write something, show it to you, and, although you have suggestions for improvement, you say that it is good, and that I should write more. If I trust my judgement or yours, thinking you sincere, I might do some more writing.

Depression is marked by benefiting from prompting or encouragement for many who experience it, though the reality is that they may all too often be alone, having no partner, and can only look to friends and maybe understanding neighbours to offer words of encouragement or reminders. This quite apart from the disabling and debilitating effect of losing or not being in employment (or in employment under pressure), with the resultant likelihood of the additional stress of low income.

Obviously, then, the always rather dubious-sounding claim that, by exercising and releasing endorphins, one may imrove one's prognosis for recovery should not be the only reason for all to be encouraged to exercise. This study seems to show that the specific intervention of encouragement used did tend to give rise, if the participants are truthfully reporting their 'exercise levels' (and not just to second guess that they are supposed to say so), to the establishment of regular exercise in daily life.

Depression's not unique amongst mental-health disorders in that another's insight - 'You might feel better, if you have a shower and change your clothes' - can be a useful intervention, clearly a programme, based on GPs' surgeries and the long-overdue task of properly assessing the physical-health profile and needs of such patients, is needed to give them the kind of prompting to look to the needs of the body that those able to afford personal trainers get.

Comments welcome - here, or via Twitter®!


* Postscript (as at 9 June)

I rather wonder whether I am: I took what had been written to me at face value, and believed that my comment had been removed, but, when I go there to see anyone else's comments, mine is still there...

If you want to Tweet, Tweet away here

Dolmio® branches out?

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8 June

Some may know the connection - which, as most connections are, may all be in the mind* - or even the history of the connection between Italy and good coffee: they are invited to add an informative comment.

All that I know is that when, at a friend's place, I went to make (sadly, instant) coffee just now, it was in a small jar whose lid suggested that it must formerly have contained pasta sauce (or, maybe, really rich tomato puree).

From this, the brand being (or purporting to be**) from Italy, sprang the thought: this patently isn't it, but do these people sell coffee (anywhere) under that name***?

Answers to that one, please, solely via Twitter, where I have - what Leonora urges me to call - the same John Henry (q.v.).


* After all, unless I haven't had the real stuff (when what is available is expensive enough), there isn't actually anything very remarkable about Belgian chocolates, or Swiss ones.

** My fridge and freezer - separates - bear a German trade name that belies Italian manufacture. No matter, as I was interested in the energy-rating of A, not the provenance.

*** By the way, if these good people do not, but want to thank me for the observation of what might be a gap in the market****, I shan't decline a payment - in dollars, to be on the safe side.

**** A nonsensical phrase, as, when one is in a physical market-place, buying a pitch (not least in these times of trouble) is not necessarily difficult or a betrayal of one's business cunning, and the gaps that exist, welcome though they are to find, are for navigating into, around and out of the market.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Passing through Pimlico

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6 June

* Contains a wealth of spoilers *

Although I cannot think of a time (perhaps six months?) when I did not know the title of Passport to Pimlico (1949), and convince myself that it must have been on t.v. in my youth (although I was expecting Peter Sellers to be in the cast-list, because I was also thinking of I'm All Right, Jack (1959)), a screening yesterday convinces me that I did not really know the film at all. (And I had little conception of where Pimlico was until 30 years ago and an initiation to what, before it became Tate Britian, was The Tate Gallery.)

Not, at any rate, beyond the basic tenet - implied by the title - that Pimlico (actually, just a small part of it) becomes a separate domain. What follows is informed both by seeing it (again?), and by a review at New Empress Magazine, the work of one Ben Sheppard.

As you might have gathered from reading Ben’s review (if you have done so), Passport is not the best of the so-called Ealing comedies, and it is a little patchy: it would be interesting to research into how it was edited into its circulated form, whether Pimlico was merely chosen for euphony (and, in any case, what the name derives from, which has to be more plausible than the alleged origins of Elephant and Castle!), and how the idea was first hit upon. Maybe some day…

Essentially, the scope of the film episodically, dictated by the to and fro between the residents, the British Cabinet Ministers, and all those, such as the spivs, who would exploit the situation, divides into (in no particular order) the actions of :

* The bullish, even belligerent*, Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway), fronting and furthering this series of stand-offs and stalemates between HM Government and the occupants of what appears to be part of Burgundy

* His daughter Connie (Betty Warren) as a siren, initially yielding to the fishmonger, but finding herself preferring the attentions of the Duke of Burgundy (Paul Dupuis)

* Margaret Rutherford, who, with convincingly scatty eccentricity as Professor Hatton-Jones, propounds the territorial claim, and then, at a key moment, approves the rather unlikely Duke's credentials

* The fishmonger's female employee, whose attentions he has overlooked in favour of buttering up Connie, and who (by leaving the tap on before the water-supply, which has been cut off, comes back on floods the pub basement) loses Pimlico its stockpile of provisions

* The character of Edie Randall (Hermione Baddeley) as a lady of lingerie

* The bank manager, Mr Wix (Raymond Huntley), as the Nick Leeson of his time, and, with Pemberton, part of the brains behind the outfit (although not often in agreement about the tactics)

Much is good value, with a sense of exhilaration when, for example, the Pimlico crew halt and board an Underground train that they have climbed down to intercept passing beneath their territory, or when the local constable (Philip Stainton) creeps out and reinstates the water, whilst Connie and others lure the attention of guards on the barbed-wire boundaries.

As Ben rightly says, the Berlin air-lift, which began midway before the year of release (and ended almost 11 months later), must have been a major source for the idea, and there is quite an uneasy feeling to the comedy in places, when, for all the tricks that the Burgundians try (the blockade is busted by air-drops, including a pig on a parachute), the aim of Whitehall is wilfully to starve them into submission.

By contrast with a better Ealing film from the same year, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), where the idea of a man taking revenge on and systematically murdering his mother's snobbish relatives (who had either cut her off when she married for love, or stood by when it happened) is deliciously wicked and cleverly executed, this tense and awkward feeling means that one cannot really enjoy the stand-off in Passport to Pimlico and how the game plays out, because it is just that little bit too close to home to seem like sheer fun.


* Or, in its genuine meaning, ‘feisty’.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Civic amenities - a far cry from the locus amoenus?

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5 June

It could be urban myth, but, then, urban myth itself could just be urban myth. In any case, it started being stated in parks and gardens where ducks foregather that they should not be fed bread (whatever they should be fed, they crap a lot, and, if not feeding them bread made the result more like rabbits' pellets, so much the better), as, although Donland was unaware of the fact, in his eagerness to eat it, it is not good for him.

Extrapolating from what may or may not be true about what ducks shouldn't eat, and knowing that koi keepers and specialists have all sorts of elaborate methods and diets (maybe for the fish as well), I was surprised, in Salmon-Fishing in the Yemen, by Dr Alfred* Jones (alias Ewan boy from Perth McGregor), whose predication for being in the story is that he is a fisheries expert, feeding broken-off pieces of what seems ordinary white bread to his own specimens (koi, that is, not ducks).

Now, I think that we are given an insight, catch it if we may, into his (largely inner) turmoil, for although he is mouthing about his wife, his feelings for her and how he views their marriage (and he says more later to the Emily Blunt character), I believe that the key indicator at this moment of how upset he is lies in the fact that his fish, which I would guess are prized, are being fed this bread:

Now, it may not harm them, but maybe, in koi circles, it would be the equivalent of giving a toddler free access to two tubes of Rolos.

If so, then Jones, in the vicarious form of his fish, is venting feelings of self-harm: the fish are his pride and prize, and he is subtly hurting them with this sacrament of what may represent his own body (since he repeatedly professes no belief in the conventional sacrament such that, as ever, one questions whether he protests too much).

Plus the other Biblical overtones: casting bread on the water, and the loaves and fishes of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, etc., etc.


* The name doubtless would come from the now, but, I think, not particularly Scottish?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Shakespeare in a Tweet

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4 June

Yes, cousin Marmaduke and I have had to leave out a few things in our attempts to give you a play in no more than 140 characters, and maybe the wrong ones.

See what you think with my most recent one (from Twitter® - Marmaduke's there, too):

Two men mistrust the wrong offspring, and the others take power: one man goes mad, one's blinded. Both are healed and reunited before death.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The last days of Yayoi Kusama's Tate show

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2 June

I need another hour to finish looking at this exhibition, as I am not in the league of two ladies who once, in this very members' room at Tate Modern, declared that they had 'done' one in an hour and a half, because they had graduated from a course in history of art - and I think that they intended to polish off the other one in a similar span. I have no notion of what they did or not absorb or how quickly, but thirteen or so rooms is too much for me, so I work within my limits, and skulk off for a coffee - or something stronger, maybe even food at London prices - when I need to, and, if I have time to go back and want to, I do.

My viewing, then, is incomplete, but I am already sure of two things: that Yayoi Kusama sometimes has a distinctive voice (and then tends to demonstrate her extremely great capacity for creativity), but sometimes does not, and that work, to me, then seems pretentious, and not imbued with the same sure artistic sense. Her friendship with Joseph Cornell, for example, clearly brought out a prodigious talent for collage, which is visible in the pieces exhibited in the corridor that is room 9 (and we are lucky enough that Kusama has allowed three of Cornell's works that she owns to be shown).

I am also insufficiently convinced that what are eagerly called phalli are any more than potatoes or their tubers (as the appearance of the Phallic Shoes of room 8 amply testify), and someone has therefore not been entirely trustworthy, given the scope for Freudian and other interpretation, in applying this deliberate description. Yes, there may be a generative principle (there had been an organic, yet cosmic, quality to Kusama's works in watercolour and gouache in room 2), and the Yellow Trees of room 11, for example, writhe with an energy that, my own psychoanalytic profile apart, is a burgeoning, even threatening (as the coils of serpents have the power to crush), power of nature. Other canvases in that room and from the same period, such as the triptych of Weeds, have a more benign quality of reproducing and filling space.

At some point, we will be faced by the question (and some curatorial interpretation) What does all this filling mean? We are told that it is Kusama's obsessional side (which came out in the series of Infinity Nets), but, although it doesn't prove that she hasn't got one, is it different from or more or less creative than Damien Hirst's Medicine Cabinets (1997), with its ten bought cabinets (each named after a track from Never Mind the Bollocks...) filled with empty medicine packaging, which is supposedly arranged according to some medical curatorship or taxonomy.

Is Kusama's filling of a canvas, whether in the mid-1950s or since, really ridden with angst? Somehow, I doubt it any more than there is really any collecting in procuring the preservation (or, more likely, arranging for others to procure it) of empty tubs and packets of medication:

If one did question that proposition on my part, then, with the display-cabinets full of stainless-steel (assumed) surgical implements (some surely are not!), can one believe that Hirst did much more than get a rep to bring around a good range of samples, which, with no real regard to anything other than entertainingly (and aestehtically) fitting multiples of them in the cabinet in question, he tried on the shelves and then ordered as many as he needed. (A task probably best delegated to an assistant, even, whose judgement would be sufficiently good, as would the willingness of the rep to supply on a sale-or-return basis, that minimal rearrangement would be necessary to perfect the work.)

'You can't sell art like hot dogs or ice cream cones at the Venice Biennale', they said. But I believe them to be wrong. I think that art should be within the price range for the masses rather than a few wealthy individuals.

This comment, made (I think) contemporaneously, refers to what appeared to be the constituent elements, akin (as far as I can tell) in appearance to Magritte's alleged stylized cow-bells, from the arrangement of which Kusama's installation had been made. She was selling them off for two dollars apiece, which would have been a real bargain (until she was stopped). Compare this with Hirst's going directly to the market with the huge auction of his works a few years back...