War brings out the best in us. This is almost a truism. We think of the old folks reminiscing; always they return to a few exciting years when life was wild with fun. 1939 to 1945: what a great time that was! lost to them forever, except in anecdotes wrinkled with smiles. When youngsters we did not understand our relatives: why does death excite them so, why does it make them happy; surely they should be sad and scared? Confused, we went to the history books. They did not help us much. The mental atmosphere long since faded away, only the novelists can recapture these years, a period when emotion tuned to the highest pitch, and then sustained for impossibly long periods of time, people became perennially excited, euphoric, intoxicated… It was like riding the longest, most frightening rollercoaster in the world. Amazing! Exhilarating! Let me off! Don’t you dare! Oh, what a lark it is.
Thursday, 16 June 2016
Saturday, 11 June 2016
…all these modes of thought which assess the value of things
according to pleasure and pain, that is to say according to attendant
and secondary phenomena, are foreground modes of thought
and naiveties which anyone conscious of creative powers
and an artist’s conscience will look down on in derision,
though not without pity.
Alone on a mountain
He is laughing,
At this carnival of clouds,
A circus treat,
Dogs and dwarfs
Travelling to another town.
The sky’s majesty dethroned
Before two penetrating eyes.
At his own conceit.
But pity overcomes him
For those below
Struggling in the foothills.
What! Pitying fools?
He laughs at these sights
They will never reach.
Sunday, 5 June 2016
It has all the rudiments of farce. Yet there are few laughs here. For when these rudiments are reordered by magic - when reshaped by Estelle’s Square of Power - they produce a finely tuned domestic drama; the comedic mishaps becoming the ironies of man’s complex moral fate; where intentions, pushed out of shape by omnipresent circumstance, turn into their opposites; good producing bad, evil giving birth to saintly self-sacrifice.
Thursday, 26 May 2016
Improvised While Listening to a Speech by Nicholas Serota
and Thinking of a Poem by Frank O’Hara
in an Old Music Hall
Angela de la Cruz has produced a work of history. An impressionist piece, it suggests the spirit of this gallery; its large life crammed into little rooms, the restrained vitality, its relentless will, seeping out between the cracks of its old confinement; we think of a dam creaking, on the verge of breaking… The control panel lowers the water level; and pianissimo, its notes trickle through the door, into a crowd watching this clock eclipse the moon. We wait. Under Chris Ofili’s memories. Under an iconostasis illuminating this tiny triangle, the Pocket Park, a plaza awash with civilities; the harpsichord lost amongst their gathering tide, whose waves carry us off to Hoxton Hall.
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Out of love comes superstition. Intense emotions make the feelings fragile, and this is made worse by our complete dependence upon the person who generates them, producing a desperate need for security, that increases exponentially when the lovers are separated; Bendrix fraught with anxiety because Sarah lives with her husband. Wild passions, mixed with this wretched need for a stability that can never be gained, awakes a mental turmoil that seeks magic solutions to this state, it is an illness, that cannot be resolved, will not be cured, until the emotional temperature cools. Charms. Occult words. Astrological charts. We need them all, if we are to survive such intense affairs.
Friday, 6 May 2016
This hand. It is a palm! a tropical growth on a craggy dress; its planes of slate; its rocky mountainside. The leaves like sausage dogs, sniffing around the cheek and lip.
Her thoughts a hot air balloon.
The gas jet firing above, we do not hear the painter’s words: “move your head to…to…yes, to the side; and look up; yes…yes, and…up, up, up just a little more, look up towards that window. Wonderful! Now let the leg drop easily. And think of something beautiful; think of a Raphael; think of Botticelli, of the Primavera. Marvellous! Now create a painting in your mind. Draw it slowly, and very carefully; the window, do you see it? is becoming a frame, and inside there is a door; it opens slowly; and you are watching this door, you watch it opening onto God’s grace, the light of reverie, that carries you away, that takes you… That’s it! Fantastic! Keep it there. And… In your hand you are holding a cup, the hot tea seeping through the porcelain, warming your fingers, relaxing them; giving you a warm glow. That’s it. Yes, you are a picture! The brushes will describe you well. They will; oh yes, yes…they are!”
Monday, 2 May 2016
All are criminals. War does this to people. It stretches the moral order until it breaks. The rituals of peace being lost, the ideas linked to them disappear, freeing the inhabitants to build their own lives out of the rubble that remains. So much liberty! And love is its symbol. Love. The biggest, most sustained raid to hit London during the 1940s.