ok ok, and not just this week either, it’s two getting on for three, delayed by sundry drinking and a visit to Madrid, where although I had a cool view from my hotel room, with deep sierra in the far distance, i did not see much other than the inside of television corporations, no different by and large to the inside of tv corporations anywhere.
I didn’t see any of Goya’s frescos or his paintings of scenes and people through whom nightmares have crept into the world. I did, on freezing evening, have pointed out to me a large, modern building – a set of flats, 30 floors or so high, pyramidal, almost gothic, expressive of wealth – with not a light a shining from one of its countless windows, and with the entirety of its ground floor boarded up against the poor, whose ranks grow daily, and who muster in the tube stations for warmth against the freezing cold that visits from the same picturesque sierra that I could see framing the city from my hotel balcony. Government oppression, restriction on protest, and a limited period of welfare support. Vast semi-gothic empty buildings and the nightmare of poverty creeping from the underground. Goya would have something to paint in Madrid today.
I took with me All Souls by Javier Marias and didn’t realise or remember that he is from Madrid, as is the main character. It’s set in Oxford though, deals in the main with an affair between the narrator and a female academic, and speculations about the emotional and sexual orientations of the characters – a reductive system of emotional interactions taking place behind a veil of Oxford inscrutability that the narrator, as an outsider, has some uncertainty perceiving, even though he is in the middle of its web. It is not at all diverting, though fairly easy to read. That may have been tho because it was the only book I had with me and the typeface was fairly large. There are some thoughts interleaved about people who inhabit time or places like vagrants – lost and marginal souls – and how they can intangibly touch upon our lives by brushing up against the past of our pre-existence. I am being kind, it wasn’t really much about that or enough about it to make any difference to reading the book. It seemed a Laodicean novel, neither hot nor cold, but with no pose either that I could make out. It made me feel dull, as if I were missing something that I didn’t really feel like looking for. Go on, someone make a case for it.
^ listening to this was what I felt like for stretches before I went to Madrid off the back of an internet recommendation. There is a melancholy so intense sometimes that it produces a dull pain in your torso, it is almost separable from feeling and so may be examined, and the taste of death in it is like the taste of death in wine in particular, or drugs of any sort in general. It is not exactly unpleasant, it has savour, and Chanson de la folle au bord de la mer is a helluva piece if you’re paddling in those black waters without armbands.
Oh, and a barcarolle. I’m a sucker for a barcarolle:
The moonlight coming through the leaves and flowers of the apple tree scattered the most whimsical bright spots over Katerina Lvovna’s face and whole recumbent body; the air was still; only a light, warm breeze faintly stirred the sleepy leaves and spread the subtle fragrance of the blossoming herbs and trees. There was a breath of something languorous, conducive to laziness, sweetness and obscure desires.
A golden night! Silence, light, fragrance, and beneficent, vivifying warmth. Far across the ravine, beyond the garden, someone struck up a resounding song; by the fence, in the bird-cherry thicket, a nightingale trilled and loudly throbbed; in a cage on a tall pole a sleep quail began to rave, and a fat horse sighed languidly behind the stable wall, and outside the garden fence a merry pack of dogs raced noiselessly across the green and disappeared into the dense black shadow of the half-ruined old salt depots.
Made a start on The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories, a volume of Nikolai Leskov short stories that I drunk bought on visual appeal alone and promptly forgot about before it arrived in an exciting and entirely unnecessary large box.
I like the placement of the sounds here, which gives a feeling of stillness because they are isolated in the night, and there is something about those song and those silent merry dogs – they are the things we notice when we contemplate the night, sounds that produce a feeling of distanced contemplation of ourselves in the world in the day, of our own placement, and isolated location. (In the story it is also the place where an emotional contract of jealousy that results in death, and later hatred and self-annihilation is made, though it is not clear that is what it will entail, and the seductive night seems almost to have brought about the dangerous promises that are made in it.) Kind of a bit indifferent to the Russian fable thing going on generally, but that’s just probably because I wasn’t in the right mood.
Otherwise? Well, kicking off on the goats to this deranged funk blast:
And this will also be in my Songs of the Year:
woke up at three am ETERNAL one morning, and couldnae sleep, so put on the World Service to drift to. At one point there was an interview with Omar Souleyman, which in my dream state was a bit confusing as I’d been listening to this track a LOT the previous day:
it gets p intense at the 5:12 mark. that’s the point when i usually start jigging my head somewhat.
(Then there was an interview with the doctor who did the third ever, and at that point most successful, heart transplant for a baby:
Stephanie Fae Beauclair (October 14, 1984 – November 15, 1984), better known as Baby Fae, was an American infant born in 1984 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She became the first infant subject of a xenotransplant procedure, receiving the heart of a baboon. The procedure, performed by Leonard L. Bailey at Loma Linda University Medical Center, was successful, but Fae died 21 days later of heart failure due to rejection of the transplant.
The doctor said they still don’t know why she died.)
What else? Well, One Week One Band did The Fall, which was good, tho – FOR SHAME – they were dismissive about I am Kurious Oranj, one of the great ART PIECES of the LATTER HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY.
There was a great post on Berberian Sound Studio here, (my less substantial tho still frighteningly authoritative thoughts here) – oh and I went to the cinema to see a film very close in spirit to BSS – Dead of Night, one of my FAVOURITE films, and confirmed to myself that I still know many of the lines by heart, such as:
‘Funny sort of joke, it… it isn’t funny!’
‘I am not accustomed to solving complex problems with the casual ease of your Brains Trust, Mr Craig’
and of course
‘Private show for the LOOONIES’.
And over the past two days I have only been listening to this:
Also RIP Colin Wilson.
and if these not-even-weekly scrapings become any more laborious i’m departing to live a life of eremitic hebetude in the outer hebrides straight after xmas, xmas.
see ya, frenz roman.