Sunday, 21 December 2014
Friday, 12 December 2014
A December walk from my East Bristol city-suburb front door, through the green places of Fishponds, Frenchay and Stapleton. The images speak of Emily Dickinson's words: 'there's a certain slant of light, winter afternoons', and I see winter coming in.
Thursday, 4 December 2014
After a two month lay-off due to a ruptured Achilles tendon I am glad to be back out roaming again. A day of late autumnal brilliance led me to a favourite place, the hidden combes below the hamlet of Cold Ashton: a becalmed swathe of deep England happy in its steeply contoured obscurity. I’ve been afoot here for a decade, at least twice a year. Absorbing the solitary serenity it occurred to me that I could hardly recall ever meeting or even seeing another human being on these numerous wanderings, once away from the road. To be in a long settled and wrought landscape, a stone’s throw from Bath and Bristol, in a densely populated country and have the place to yourself – acres of splendid isolation - is a curious thing. There is much to gain from wandering alone – time to think, away from the clamouring noise of everyday life – but this got me wondering existential thoughts about the very idea of my lone occupation of such places.
Does this matter? Is it simply an inevitable consequence of processes steadily advancing ever since the first furnaces of the Industrial Revolution were stoked?
Briggs, A. 1987. A Social History of England. Penguin.
Clare, J, 1990. Selected Poems. Penguin.
Hardy, T, 1998. Nobody Comes in Everyman's Poetry: Thomas Hardy. Everyman.
Jefferies, R, 2011. Wild Life in a Southern Country. Little Toller.
More, T, 2003. Utopia. Penguin.
Morris, W, 1993. News from Nowhere and Other Writings. Penguin.
Thompson, EP, 1993. Customs in Common. Penguin.
Williams, R, 2011. The Country & the City. Spokesman.
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
Full print contents:
~ Thomas A Clark's collection of poetic aphorisms from the island of Colonsay.
~ Don Domanski's lecture on poetry, sacredness, and 'how each thing holds a mystery'.
~ Two visionary poems of death and darkness from Julia McCarthy.
~ An excerpt from Ronald Johnson's seminal poem of the English landscape, 'The Book of the Green Man'.
~ Peter O'Leary's poetic rendering of two runes from the Kalevala.
~ Three found poems by Autumn Richardson, derived from the journals of Knud Rasmussen.
~ Richard Skelton's interview with his father about life on a Nottinghamshire farm in the 1940s and 1950s.
~ A folkloric and literary survey by Mark Valentine on 'The Last Wolf in England'.
~ A hitherto undocumented ritual performed in rural France, written in French, Occitan and English.
~ Excerpts from the forthcoming Epidote Press book on the writing of Hans Jürgen von der Wense.
Thursday, 13 November 2014
Saturday, 1 November 2014
I know nothing of the films origins and do not feel compelled to find out; I would simply recommend that you watch it and, if you are not already a devotee, seek out their unique music.
Friday, 31 October 2014
Friday, 10 October 2014
Friday, 3 October 2014
Monday, 29 September 2014
|Image from www.subpop.com|
Monday, 15 September 2014
Friday, 29 August 2014
|Image courtesy of www.bfi.org.uk|
|Still from The Epic of Everest (Image courtesy of www.bfi.org.uk)|
Mallory and Irvine were last seen by fellow climber Noel Odell, who placed them at 28,400 feet, above the Second Step - a 40 metre wall of exposed rock and the most technically difficult barrier before reaching the summit. "Still climbing - and then, no more" reads the commentary. The last shots of the mountain are red tinted as cloud shadow slowly envelopes the immensity of the rock and ice; darkness overcoming the light.
|The expedition party: Irvine, first left on back row, and Mallory, second left (Image courtesy of blog.mountainworldproductions.com)|
The film also stands as an ethnographical record of the peoples of Tibet and Nepal and their way of life before outside influences started to seep across the scene. Here we see monks, sherpas and nomad shepherd communities, their dress and customs, and dependence on the yak. A patronising tone occasionally creeps into the commentary ("We cannot call them a musical race...") but generally the footage is left to speak for itself. Most striking is the image of the fortress monastery of Kampa Dzong ('The Shining Crystal Monastery', surely a psych-rock album title in waiting), looming into shot like a Crusader castle in the twelfth century Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Llama from the monastery had wished the expedition well but predicted that the spirits guarding the mountain (known as Chomo-Lung-Ma in Tibet: 'Goddess Mother of the World') would oppose their endeavour, and by the end Noel wondered whether this had come to pass.
The combination of ground-breaking use of film and photography - both still in their infancy as art forms, the unrivalled drama of the setting and the multiple narratives culminating in tragic yet heroic death make this an unmissable document of modern humanity's long climb to, what - conquer? understand? meet with? nature at its most raw and unforgiving. After the climactic last view of Mallory and Irvine before they disappear from view and in one of his final sections of on screen commentary, we get the feeling that Noel has left behind the bombast of imperial conquest as he muses: "We must think of ourselves and of nature. We spring from nature. In life we defy her, at death we return to her. We, who are so little, and nature who is so immense!".
|The last shot of Mallory, Irvine and the summit party from The Epic of Everest before they disappear from view (Image courtesy of www.bfi.org.uk)|
Davis, W, 2011. Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest. Vintage.