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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: How the mind works

Sunday April 28 2019

When you are young, and you realise something true and important, this is evidence of how clever you are, even if what it is that you have just realised was really rather obvious.  (And everything is obvious, once you’ve understood it.  That’s what understanding is.)

When you are old, however, and you realise something true and important, this is evidence of how stupid you are for not having understood it about forty or fifty years sooner than you did.  (Because everything is obvious, blah blah.)

This has happened to me twice in the last fortnight.  I will not complicate this posting by confessing what these two very different but very obvious things were, but trust me, they were very obvious indeed.

Saturday April 27 2019

Yes, I like to photo signposts.  You know where you are, with signposts.  Because they pretty much tell you where you are.

Here’s a signpost photo I photoed in March 2012:

image

But there’s more to it than just having a note of where I was, useful though that is.  There’s something about actually seeing those particular names of particular places which makes the fact that this is where I really am – and then later: was - come particularly alive.

As you can tell from the previous paragraph, I don’t really know how to explain this fascination of mine.  And just now, I am too knackered, having spent the day recovering from a Last Friday of the Month meeting that happened last night.  Dominique Lazanski: very good.  My front room: very full.  Aftermath: lots of crap to tidy up.

Yesterday was a day when I had to be very energetic and alive, to get ready for that meeting.  So, I was.  (Hence those four blog postings yesterday.) Today, I could be knackered.  So, I was.

Friday April 19 2019

But it does very well without one.

Video here.

I’ve included “War” in the category list below, because the battlefield is surely one of the places where these contraptions will make their creepy presence particularly felt.

A week ago now, I photoed this photo in the graveyard of a little village up in the mountains of southern France called Taulis (already mentioned here).  Today being Good Friday, I thought I’d do a little nod towards Christianity by showing a few crucified Christs, France being very full of these rather gruesome sorts of sculpture.  Everywhere you go in France, or so it seems to me, you see these, and not just in graveyards:

image

Even more striking, however, in that photo, are the dead body storage units in the background.  Do we have those in England?  Not that I recall seeing.

They remind me of the dead body storage units that you see in TV police dramas.  Every so often there’s a scene where a grieving relative is asked to identify a cadaver, and a drawer is opened, and closed.  We see grief enacted.

Are police dramas on the telly replacing graveyards and crucified Christs as the main means that we now use to contemplate death?

As I get nearer to death, I think about it more and more.  What will it be like?  Will I know I’m dead?  Will I still be “alive” when I am incinerated?  Will there by bright lights in the distance?  Will it hurt?  Will I be reunited with the enemies of my schooldays?  Will I still be able to write about it here, but in a way that is unpublished?  What, historically speaking, will I miss by a whisker?  Or by decades and centuries?

Maybe France is not so full of crucified Christs.  Maybe it’s just that when I now see them, I notice them.

Wednesday April 17 2019

Last night, United crushed in the Champions League by Barca, in Barca.  And tonight – glory be – City knocked out by Spurs in a mad scramble of a game in Manchester.  So, Spurs win without Kane.  They’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Did you see that result coming?  I didn’t, and especially not after City scored after about one minute.  And then, after about three more minutes it was 2-2.  Bonkers.

Are there any Mancunians who support both United and City against all comers?  The way I support all the London teams?  If so, such persons had a bad two nights.

Meanwhile, what’s happening at the top of the Premier League means that I am having to set aside my London-wide support for the duration.  Man City or Liverpool are going to win it.  But Spurs, Arsenal and Chelsea are now competing for two Champions League spots next season.  So, when Liverpool recently played Chelsea, I found myself, albeit with a heavy heart, supporting Liverpool.  Chelsea lost, which meant Spurs stayed ahead of them.  Hoo.  Ray.

THE FOLLOWING EVENING: Well, I’m back to supporting Chelsea and Arsenal, against Slavia Prague and Napoli respectively, in the Europa League.  Both are strolling it.  Go, London!  Asks the BBC footy feed:

Are we heading for an all-English Champions League final AND an all-English Europa League final?

Despite Brexit.  It would be a lovely thing to see, but there’s a bit to do for that to happen.  Like Spurs and Liverpool beating Ajax and Barca.

Tuesday April 16 2019

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection.  All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated.  But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France.  Silly old me.  I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

image

Those are the Pyrenees at the back there.  In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy.  Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Wednesday April 10 2019

For a posting I did here last Saturday, I went looking for an example of Mick Hartley sneering at an idiot artist (it didn’t matter which one) for talking art-speak bollocks.  It actually took me quite a lot of scrolling to find such a posting.  Mostly he features photos that he likes, and anti-semitism and such stuff, that he doesn’t like.

While scrolling for the art-speak bollocks, I came across this wonderful photo, which Hartley found here:

image

One of the many things this photo illustrates is, I think, what a truly magnificent building the Walkie-Talkie is turning out to be.  The variety of effects it creates, depending on the light and on where you are, is truly amazing.  I love how, in this particular photo, its windows merge into the general pattern of city windows, with individual buildings being hard to discern as the sources of all the bright little rectangles.

The Walkir-Talkie was hated at first, by many, many people.  But the reality of it is, from far away, from quite far away (as above), and from close-up, is truly wonderful, as is what you can see from it.

See also, as time goes by: The Tulip.

I also like all the little red lights in that photo, which are there, I believe, to scare away helicopters.

Saturday April 06 2019

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men.  That was in April 2011.  It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke.  My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting.  I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before.  Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else.  Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal.  Yes, probably that.  Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now.  As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me.  But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it.  There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines.  He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks.  Snap.  Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all.  Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me.  Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool.  Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Tuesday April 02 2019

On the left here, John C. Reilly, shown enacting one of the Sisters Brothers, Eli, in the graphics advertising the movie of that name.  On the right, Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, and star of long-running BBC comedy quiz Have I Got News For You? My instant reaction, when I first saw that advert for The Sisters Brothers, was that Reilly looked like a homicidal and weather-beaten version of Hislop: 

imageimageimage

I can’t be the only one now noticing this.  Yet googling “John C Reilly Ian Hislop” yielded only information about either John C Reilly or Ian Hislop.  There was no mention of any physical resemblance between these two persons.

So tweets City AM’s Christian May.

Everybody is now bitching about this Thing, just like they did with the Eiffel Tower.  Do “we need” it?  Blah blah.  Well guess what: I want it.  And more to the point the people paying for it and wanting to build it want it.

Although, I did agree with the Dezeen commenter who said that maybe a Tulip is not the sort of thing you want in the middle of one of the world’s great financial districts.

LATER: Julia H-B:

Like all of London’s new skyscrapers, I’ll hate it.*

*Until I love it.

Precisely.

Saturday March 30 2019

Photoed by me, recently, in the road:

image

I still feel a bit bad about the fact that, laden as I was with shopping, I just photoed this, and then left it there.  Should I have rescued it and handed it in to someone?  Well, I didn’t.

I wonder what the story was.

Tuesday March 26 2019

About a fortnight ago, I wandered along the south bank, and although the City Big Thing Cluster wasn’t the main focus of my attention, I couldn’t help noticing that the Scalpel in particular was looking very fine:

image

As was the Gherkin, not least because, from that particular spot, you can still see it.

And as was One Blackfriars:

image

I especially like that one of One Blackfriars.  Because of the contrast between what the fading light does to its glass surface and what the fading light doesn’t do to all that brickwork and concrete (to say nothing of the ship at the front), it looks like One Blackfriars has been Photoshopped in from a different photo.  But as you all surely know, I could never contrive an effect like that.

Monday March 25 2019

I’ve just watched England beat Montenegro at football, in Montenegro, 5-1.  A few days ago England beat The Czech Republic 5-0, in London, and I watched some of that too.  England are looking good.

Here is the most convincing explanation I have found of why.  In the bit under the subheading “More ball-hoggers”, it says this:

You know that lad in school who never passed the ball? Turns out he was on to something.

Ashworth says English players are already more technical than he has ever seen thanks to a revamp of the academy system in clubs and a more consistent playing style with England.

But the FA wants to go further.

Peter Sturgess, the FA’s foundation phase coach for five- to 11-year-olds, has been telling coaches up and down the country that mastering the ball is his number one priority. Passing can come later.

“We are saying that passing is important but it’s not a priority for foundation-phase children,” he told BBC Sport. “The priority is building a massive connection with the ball so their individual ability on it, in tight and pressurised situations, becomes as good as it can be.

“You put 11 of those players together on a football pitch and they can play any system you want, because they have less chance of losing the ball.”

Ashworth and Sturgess just might be onto something.  To have a good football team, start by having lots of “foundation phase children” who are good at controlling a football, with their feat.

LATER: Meanwhile, in Scotland.

Thursday March 21 2019

Looking out over the gloom of Bermondsey yesterday, with maximum zoom, from the balcony of a friend’s flat:

image

Despite the dreariness and consequent blurriness, you can clearly see the Big Olympic Thing there.  Next to it, right behind the tower of the crane, you can also see, if you look a bit harder, the top of the London Stadium, now the home of West Ham United.

What this photo illustrates, among many other things, is the enormous contribution to a city made by Recognisable and Big Things.  Most of what you see in that photo is dull Unless you are a craniac like me) and generic.  You could be anywhere.  But once you see that contorted red shape, however dimly, you know at once where you are looking and what you are looking at.  These Things aren’t called “landmarks” for nothing.  They are like giant squirts of solidified piss from God.  They mark the landscape.  They give it shape and structure.  You know where you are with them, but without them, you don’t.  Without them, you could be anywhere.  With them, everywhere becomes somewhere.

Saturday March 16 2019

The job of sports fan internetters like me is not to just wallow in the mere news that the commentators have just been reporting and to repeat their opinions about why it all happened (although that can be fun to look back on, in the years to come).  It is also to notice the daft things that commentators sometimes say.  The above gem of verbal inappropriateness came, from ITV commentator Nick Mullins, after just 13 minutes of the England Scotland rugby game at Twickenham, just after England scored their third try.  England really don’t look like they’re going to lose this one.

The basic reason England are winning is that Wales, earlier this afternoon, dessicated Ireland.  That actually is not a bad word for what Wales did to Ireland.  Ireland didn’t score any points at all until the clock had gone past 80 minutes, Wales having already scored 25.  This meant that Wales already had the Grand Slam, and that meant that Scotland would not now be working themselves into a frenzy of Scottishness to deny England, who were undone two weeks ago by a frenzy of Welshness (which did deny England the Grand Slam), the mere winning of the tournament.

And now, on the half hour, England have just scored their fourth try, making it 31-0 to them.

And what did Nick Mullins say about that?

This:

“Scotland are being drowned.”

When you get dessicated, what you want is water.  But not that much water.

I feel sorry for Scotland.  If you’re an England rugby fan, feeling sorry for Scotland is great.  Scots never feel sorry for us, which is how they torment us.  We feel sorry for them every chance we get, which is our way of tormenting them.  All I am missing now is a Scotsman for me to feel sorry for in person.  They must really hate that.

But hey, Scotland have just scored a breakaway try.

Said the moisture-obsessed Mullins, switching metaphors:

“A shaft of light.”

If you’ve been desiccated but then drowned, a shaft of light is probably what you want.  31-7 to England at half time.

I am going to miss the end of this game because I am off out to dinner.  Fine by me.  My guess is that the second half of this game will be rather an anti-climax, like the second half of the England France game.  The only thing that could make it interesting would be a couple more shafts of light for Scotland at the start of the second half.  If that happens, I would have to stop feeling sorry for Scotland, which would be terrible.

And Scotland have indeed scored, 7 minutes into the second half.  Just before they did, Mullins said:

“Scotland are beginning to throw some coals on the fire!”

Said a colleague:

“Can that be the spark?”

Scotland not drowned after all.

Well, well, well.  Two shafts of light it is.  Two Scotland tries at the beginning of the second half.  Suddenly I am starting to regret that dinner date, and to stop feeling sorry for the Scots.

And another.  31-19.  It’s a game.

Another Scotland try.  31-24.  If Scotland win this, they will be as insufferable as I was being half an hour ago.

I’m off to dinner.  Thank goodness for mobile phones.

Another Scotland try!  Under the posts.  31-31.

Mullins:

“Are you not entertained?”

I think I am.  Four shafts of light, in the second half alone.  Five, if you could the one in the first half.

England’s defence is being desiccated.

LATER (i.e. after I got back from my dinner party (very enjoyable)): England 38 Scotland 38.