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EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY a film by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 2017)ex_libris_e28093_the_new_york_public_library

Zadie Smith expressed it well when in ‘North-west London Blues, when she wrote that: “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy something to stay”.

Appropriately enough, this essay was published in the New York Review of Books for what applies to the London suburbs applies equally to the bustling metropolis of NYC.

This is more than clear from Frederick Wiseman’s painstakingly epic documentary film which presents many of the Big Apple’s library branches and buildings as beacons of anti-capitalist hope. Although not overtly political, it’s hard to miss the fact that these resources represent the polar opposite of everything Trump and his minions stand for. View full article »

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Dad

My Dad : 20/4/26 – 16/9/86

There’s something sobering about reaching the same age that my Dad was when he died.
He passed aged 60 in 1986 of stomach cancer after being diagnosed just 6 months earlier. Prior to that I never recall him being sick. Being in good health and then being gone is one of the scariest things. More so than those who die after what the newspapers euphemistically call “a long illness”.
I suppose, on balance, it’s better to go quickly than becoming a burden to your loved ones. Dad would have hated that.
I’ve recently found that I suffer from high blood pressure despite my virtual straight-edge lifestyle and relatively stress-free work. This has caused me to find articles about ‘the silent killer’ of a heart condition you don’t know you have until it’s too late.
I don’t smoke, drink in moderation, exercise like a demon and eat what I like to think is a healthy plant-based diet. Maybe I drink too much coffee so I’ve now virtually cut that out too.
I have begun to envy those who don’t seem health conscious in the slightest yet don’t seem any the worse for it.
Most books on ageing and dying refer to the consolation of faith at some point but I don’t believe in an afterlife or in reincarnation so these are useless to me.
The way I feel is that my heart or some other vital organ will give out sooner or later. “Most things may never happen:this one will”, wrote Philip Larkin in Audabe so when I wake in a cold sweat I can’t console myself that I’m worrying about nothing. It’s the very nothingness that is most chilling.
My Dad suffered briefly and then was gone. As a dodo or a doornail.
For now I put morbid fears to one side and keep on training and jogging. I know full well that however fast or far I run the grim reaper will catch me one day but I don’t intend to make it easy for him.

Jonathan Wilson’s hippy dream

RARE BIRDS album by Jonathan Wilson (Bella Union, 2018)
JONATHAN WILSON LIVE AT THE BRONSON CLUB, RAVENNA 20th April 2018

rare“There’s no fear, no hatred, no killers, no guns”. This is the hippy dream of Jonathan Wilson – songwriter, producer, musician and all round gentle spirit. It comes from a line in ‘Over The Midnight’, one of the many highlights from his latest feel good solo album ‘Rare Birds’.

Mellow LA vibes usually leave me cold but this record has really warmed my soul this year.

We are so resigned to expressions of cynicism and negativity that it takes music like this to remind us that it doesn’t necessarily have to be like this. Wilson admits that he wrote the ELO-esque ‘There’s A Light’ as a conscious antidote to the darkness that surrounds and inhibits us. View full article »

YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE directed by Lynne Ramsey (USA, 2018)

you_were_never_really_hereThis breathtaking and riveting film is based on a novella of the same name by Jonathan Ames. As the title suggests, it is the story of a man (Joe) deep in the throes of an existential crisis.

We see him hovering on a train platform evidently contemplating suicide and in a very real sense he is already half-dead inside. Ramsey described Joe as “a ghost in his own life”. View full article »

SILENCE IN THE AGE OF NOISE by Erling Kagge (Viking, 2017)

cover Blaise Pascal was exaggerating for effect when he wrote that “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” but I understand the point he was making. If you are not at ease with yourself, how can you be truly at peace with the world?

Norwegian explorer, publisher and Rolex model Erling Kagge quotes Pascal but his own lifestyle doesn’t involve much sitting around alone. He has climbed Everest and journeyed to the North and South Poles. He once spent fifty days walking across the Antarctica during which he had no contact with the outside world and no encounters with any human being until he reached his destination. In his Ted Talk (Another Lecture On Nothing) he says “I believe in making life more complicated than it needs to be”. View full article »

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