Archive for the ‘Chat’ Category

In a letter from 1994 Ted Hughes was explaining his and Tony Buzan’s efforts to popularise memory techniques. They had approached three of the main Preparatory Schools in England about their ideas. This had been an enduring  area of Ted Hughes’ many interests; he was offering inducements to Freida and Nicholas, his children, back in 1971, in a letter from his Persian adventure with Peter Brook.
Tony Buzan was also an associate/friend of the Kate Bush family circle about the same time.
http://www.tonybuzan.com/about/mind-mapping/

The 1994 Ted Hughes letter states:

Over the years, wherever I’ve suggested it to teachers, or given a little demonstration in class… the teacher’s reaction has always been the same: ‘but if they learned everything so fast, what would we do with the empty time?’

This is an obviously supercilious response; one of exasperation by the teachers, of course. Here were two non-education professionals intruding upon their own roles as educators and trying to teach them their job. The simplistic comment is very much in line with the ‘English way’ of inverted targeting. I am rather surprised Ted Hughes and Tony Buzan were not aware of the toes they stood upon, or the reasons for the responses they received.

In his introduction to the By Heart anthology, of 1997, Ted Hughes discusses mnemonic systems, based on the classic memory systems that Frances Yates outlined in her Art of Memory. Tony Buzan’s work explored the cognitive aspects of memory systems, mind-mapping techniques in particular.

The memory and mind-mapping techniques they were intent on promoting, became educational business shortly after this. I remember putting our son forward to take a course in the techniques as an adjunct of higher school learning. He found them very usable and useful.

 

There is something that unnerves, I find, about the mind-map. To me it appears chaotic, disordered, and un-navigable. A mind-map, is, though, the individual’s own system: the linkages and general layout are from the person’s requirements. How easy it is to read  someone else’s system, is a question that becomes further confounded by unlicensed use and promotion.

And does this go some way to answering the question of whether one person’s map could have meaning to another person? A matter of degree, of course: there are always universal elements in everything.
– The question I am circling here, somewhat, is whether one person needs a background in the specifics and structured arguments of the techniques in order to gain from someone else’s map.
If that is so, then does any argument that such techniques are structured on the way the mind works not hold up?   That it is an imposed system, like any other.
Or is this further proof that we are all unique and individual?
Is it a more successful system, than any previous ones? Or is it valued purely for its newness?

There was an exhibition of a wall-size banner by Grayson Perry, in Sheffield Art Gallery last year, that we made a point of visiting. I did find the layout of the comments, messages that it contained, dismayingly chaotic, and could not detect any order to them. The mind-map structure of the exhibit did not occur to me until recently. Could this be the system layout he used?

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The local Well Dressing displays opened on June 30th, this year. The displays were available to view until Sunday July 7th.
What would they commemorating, I wondered? What is so special about this date?

The opening ceremony – which I missed, and I have no excuses – unveiled the first display:

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Of course, 1918 to 2018, 100 years from the end of the Great War – the War To End All Wars, remember that?
And it so happens that this day, June 30th, 2018, is UK Armed Forces Day:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44667692

Anything else special about this time 100 years ago? I was so pleased when I saw this side panel (Mount Hall is a local Nursing Home):

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I had a closer look at how the glorious lower panel of the main display was made: all overlapping flower petals, flower heads, and leaves, on a bed of damp clay.

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This next display down the road, besides a by now hidden stream, commemorates the Royal Air Force, from WW1 biplanes, to the Spitfires of WW2:

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There is quite a walk to this next display. The village/town is a linear settlement. The displays are arranged so that there are two at the end nearest the main town of the area, two in the central part, and two in the older end of the town.

Every year one the local schools takes on the task of providing of the displays. This is by Bollington Cross Church of England Primary School – my son’s old school – well, well ( excuse the pun).
And once again I was so pleased to see the Suffragettes honoured.

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The Memorial Gardens always have a display to fit in with the purpose of the place: to remember those who died in the fighting of both wars:

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Among other aspects of this display I was particularly struck with how the 100 figure had been toned from blood/poppy red through to orange-yellow.

This out-of-the-way well always has a special display, a little out of the expected.
100 years since the death of Wilfred Owen in that last week of the whole horrible conflict. He was arranging a Sambre-Oise canal crossing for his men, when he fell.

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I apologise for the lighting of this photograph. I cannot account for it.

The last display is a triptych of Women at War:

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That is tree bark in the background of the women in armaments panel. Many women suffered from exposure to substances they had to handle daily in the armaments factories. The woman’s hair is sheep wool, gathered off wire fences.

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Always a particularly fine display.

 

In a shop window a board commemorating those born in 1918. And they have provided a varied selection:

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Nelson Mandela
Billy Graham
Ingmar Bergman
Rita Hayworth
Alexander Solzenhitsyn
Betty Ford
Spiro Agnew
Spike Milligan
Leonard Bernstein

This displays went up on Saturday. I was informed that the actually making began on the previous Monday, and took all week.
All the displays, except for the School display, have been designed by a local artist and set designer. She has volunteered her services for the past 6 years, or so.
Nearly a ton of clay is used over all the boards.

 

 

On the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, is the Tanabata Festival in Japan.
Why only then?
It is all based a story from early Japan.
This is the story, one of the many connected with the Milky Way in the night sky. In Japan it is known as the River of the Sky –

It is the story of two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who represent, or are represented by, the stars Vega, and Altair.
They are only allowed to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, at the River of the Sky.
It is a based on poems in the Manyoshu volume, ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’.  Their story can be traced back, in turn, to an old Chinese tale, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The corresponding Chinese festival is the Qixi Festival, of the 7th of the 7th.

The Weaver Girl,  was, of course, a princess, and… was she weaving the pattern of the stars and constellations? Her father grew concerned that in her lonely profession she was not able to meet any young men. He invited the cowherd (who herded the cows of heaven?), to meet her.

The meeting went very well, and in time they fell in love. They were able to marry. On marriage, however, they neglected their duties.
It was thought best for all if they were separated, and were only allowed to meet once a year. On meeting, though, they found themselves on opposite sides of the Sky River. Orihime wept so much and so hard that a flock of magpies took pity, flew down and made her a bridge with their wings.

If it rains on the seventh day of the seventh month, though, the magpies may not be able to come.

These two figures are on opposite sides of the street, reaching out to each other, but unable to meet. How poignant is that!

Tonight he takes his one journey of the year
Over the Heavenly River, passing Yasu Beach –

He, the love-lorn Oxherd longing for his maid,
Whom he can never see but once a year,
Though from the beginning of heaven and earth
They have have stood face to face across the Heavenly River

……………………………………………………………………………………….
Tonight, this seventh night of the seventh moon – 

Strangely it thrills my heart.

(excerpted from: Japanese Love Poems, Selections from the Manyoshu. Edited by Evan Bates, Dover Publications Inc., 2005)

People write messages, poems, prayers, and hang them from trees on this day.

 

Astronomically, on this date, the distance between Vega, part of the Harp constellation, and Altair, The Eagle constellation, is bridged by a group of stars called The Coathanger, more properly Brocchi’s cluster. This arrangement forms a straight line with a few dotted stars above this in the centre.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocchi%27s_Cluster

Is this Hikoboshi’s boat?

The Tango

Posted: July 1, 2018 in Chat
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The Tango is a passion, a way of life.

Tango was born on the Rio De La Plata delta, when Buenos Aires was a child: holes in pockets, scuffed shoes, a tattered bandanna called Monserrat.

The dance tells a story: In the long struggle between the power of the Rancheros and the centralised State, the wild Pampas fell beneath the hand of man.

The economy is a snake, it twists and turns, at times it devours its own children. In the 1850s it twisted again. Rural workers made their way to the city, they fetched up in Monserrat.

With them came the old dances, music; the milonga was danced on the street of Corrientes. The music of European immigrants trickled through alleyways; the German religious accordion, the Bandaneon, was prominent. Lutheran austerity met Catholic poverty. Pride was in the mastery of its 71 buttons, in elaboration upon a frugal base. The withheld gesture, syncopation: all the arts of drawing from a 4:4 structure the utmost gestures.

The Tango, the Condorelle, the Fandango grew up in the barrio, fostered by uncertainty, fed by hunger, and the bitter herbal tea, Mate, a substitute for coffee. For all the coffee was exported.

As the snake lay glutted in the country’s Golden Age, the Tango grew into its youth: everyone was young again, the future possible. Everyone danced to La Cumparista’s marching tune, tweaked and as polished as patent leather shoes.

Songs added an extra sound. So when a world at war no longer found safe footing, they listened to songs of loss: of pride and confidence, and loss.

The singers held them with a sob in the voice, as the world reeled.

Nothing was the same after that; the snake turned, and columns shook and crumbled. Argentina became a backward look, a lost glory, the plaster falling from the cornice of the fashionable street, never to be replaced.

The long, troubled look into the dark over La Plata at night; only warships churned, some never to return. Later, the Belgrano, sunk like the fortunes of Presidents, before and after.

To remember the songs. Tango is a passion. At times it shows a light across the delta, a boat perhaps, where fishermen can still make a living.

Tango lives on in the wilderness, far from home. It establishes cult centres: Paris, New Orleans, even Helsinki, Tokyo.

Lately the Paris-based performers, dancers, musicians, singers joined in a dance-beat and rhythm, to become ‘The Gotan Project.’

But it always returns home: Buenos Aires, its’ columns and chipped marble, the peeling paint. The passion as strong as ever. Whenever the blood is taxed in its artery, the economy lays its stifling torpid weight on all, bodies can still transport the soul, dance it out into the brag, and the ultimate sacrifice of self, that Tango enacts.

Out of the head of the snake a bird flies, from its body the blood beat and rhythm; its poised draw-back places precisely the footstep of new rhythms.

From SUR (South) 1948, lyrics Homero Manzi:

Ancient San Juan and Boeda street corner, the whole sky,

Pompeya and farther down, the floods

(…)

The blacksmith’s corner, mud and pampa,

Our house, our sidewalk, and the ditch

(…) a scent of weeds and alfalfa

That fills the heart all over again.

Or the accumulation of urban details: witnesses: A MEDIA LUZ (In Half Light), 1925. Lyrics by Carlos Cesar Lenzi:

Corrientes three-four-eight

Second floor, elevator.

(…)

Inside, cocktail and love.

Loft furnished by Maple:

(…)

A telephone that answers,

A phonograph that cries

Old tangos of my flower,

And a porcelain cat.

The mystery of: CHARLMOS (Let’s Chat) 1942. Lyrics: Luis Rubinstein

Belgrano 6-0-1-1?

I would like to speak to Renee (…)

She doesn’t live there?(…) No, don’t hang up (…)

Could I talk with you?

Don’t hang up(…) the afternoon is gloomy.

(…)

I know Renee does not exist…

Let’s chat (…)

(…) life is so short (…)

(…)

From the same period the highly impressionistic, almost surreal: TINTA ROJA (Red Ink) 1942.

Lyrics: Catulo Castillo

Thick wall,

Red ink (…)

And a blotch

Painted the corner,

And the cop

That in the wide of the night

Placed to the end of the beat

As a clasp (…)

And then suddenly, possibly a future: PRELUDIO PARA EL ANO 3001. (Prelude for the year 3001) Lyrics: Horacio Ferrer, and music by the modern master Astor Piazollo.

I’ll be reborn in Buenos Aires in another June afternoon

With a tremendous desire to love and to live.

(…)

And three shoe shiners, three clowns and three

Sorcerers will come, my immortal accomplices (….).

All excerpts of songs are from http://PlanetTango.wordpress.com

“I have never understood this about parenthood,” he was saying.
She knew the signs, the worn, ragged expression on his young face, the pitch of the voice, thin and insistent, forcing itself beyond its strength. “This need to identify with them, like… like trying to open up some psychic doorway. Become them….” And them mumbling unformed thoughts he cannot quite reach:
“Sink into a general identity.”

She had learned patience; as though that was her doorway to him, them, the world.

“It’s always been my…” struggling for words they both know will not come, “ I’ve spent so much of my life trying to demystify them. Mum. Dad. See them as people. And it’s such a disappointment. Their petty squabbling all my life. Their insistence on hurt. And, you know, sometimes, Sometimes… Maybe I should have left alone. Which is the most disappointing, them, or finding them as that?”

She looked at him again, guarding her expression. “I have to go. You know that.”

“God yes.” He jumped, “The traffick’ll be murder. Do be careful… out there.” Lame smile, the Hill Street Blues thing. Shared things; nothings, things they have somehow given such a value to.

“Look, you get off. And I’ll get the shopping so you can come straight home, and no…”

“Bye, love.”

*

She sat, hands between her knees, all tight, staring at her empty cappuccino. Sammy waited. Something was coming. She caught a yawn peeping out behind her waiting.

“I… ah. Do you think Dave is ok?”

“Ok?”

“I… ah… Twice now… I’ve…  heard him in the shower. Crying.”

“What? Really crying?”

“Kind of quietly. You know… well, it reminded me of a child. In bed, alone at night.”

“God, Lil., that sounds so sad.”

“I know, I know, I…”

“Has he said anything? Have you…?”

“I tried to. That last time. I met him, you know accidently on purpose, coming out of the shower…”

“And?”

“It was the look on his face. I couldn’t read it. I thought a bit of resentment, blame, but it was washed away by something…. I couldn’t, after that. Maybe it’s a man thing!”

“They’re not that different from us.”

“You’d never have said that one time!”

“Ah, well.”

“Look. I know this is going to sound weird. Bad. But…”

“Lil! I don’t know what I can say!”

“Look, I’ve worked it out: we go for a drink, after. Then I make an excuse…”

“Lil!”

“It’s me taking the risks here. With your histories.”

“How do you know Tony won’t want to come too?”

“Because. Because if he did the state he’s in at the mo., one drink’d knock him sideways. He knows that, and I know that.”

*

“Well, Dave, I’ll have to be getting back too.”

“Oh, Sammy, Sammy. I’m getting old, Sammy. Can you imagine! Only, what, five years between us. Feels like a life-time.”

“You’re only…”

“I’m losing my hair, Sammy. Big time. The plug-hole…”

“It could be anything, change of season. Even alopaecia.”

“Not only that, though, is it. Everything droops. I’ve shrunk horribly where it matters, and everything else just hangs.”

“You’re just out of tone.”

“You and me, we had good times. Those evenings in Durham. Romantic evenings. Lovely romantic evenings”

“You certainly have a long memory, Dave.”

“Come on, you must remember that hotel, those nights.”

“It was draughty, the furniture was dusty; fingermarks…”

“Don’t spoil it, Sammy!”

“Well, who had to clean up, afterwards?”

“But they were perfect. Admit it, weren’t they!”

“You have really no idea, do you Dave! What’s so romantic about ending up douching in a grimy bathroom. While you slept the sleep of the dead!”

“Sammy, don’t be… that’s…”

“That’s how it was, Dave. That’s really how it was.”

“I don’t know why you have to be so viscous. Don’t you understand what I’m saying? I can’t even do it anymore! She never comes near me, anyway. What have I got to raise a flag for.”

“And so you’re going to dribble into your drink for the rest of your life. Give it a rest, Dave.”

“So, and what’s your Tony got that I haven’t? From what I hear…”

“Ok, Dave. You’re on your own. Bye. Oh, and, don’t forget to give Lil my best wishes.”

*

Sometimes I catch myself hoping the car won’t start. I’d sit back, at my desk. A good hour before the cleaners come in. Fresh coffee; feet up. Cars chugging and honking five stories below. The quiet it makes.

Just so very sad to see him ill. Five years now. Improving. But now he knows that’s five years lost. Better, maybe, if he knew nothing about them; so hard to realise… We all live in out heads most of the time. So when something comes and… zonks you like that: nothing to remember when memory is our big resource.

 

My niece is doing Criminology; second year, now. God, I’d love to have done something like that. Options on our ACAS forms were post-war rationing.

Kids get all the best deals.

 

 

As black-on-black of stellar crows
chase by eyrie earth,
they leave it reeling.
Their monstrous battles
are star deaths, sunbursts.

When they mate times tense,
pressured;
the incubation of the egg
our doldrums.
The hatching
moves time on a notch.

Feeding the newborn,
our periods of acquisition;
when the fledgling flies
we feel its wrench, absence
like the loss of a god.

There is no knowing
they will ever fly here again.

BRUTALISM

Posted: June 10, 2018 in Chat
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He walked out of there into a mechanical world. It should have been a new world, the old world new again. But it was a mechanical world.

The hearing aids were the new part; they were calibrated to the loss of the higher frequencies, and so upped the treble for him. The simple laws of materials and their resonances meant those upper frequencies had the tinny sound of some ipod ear pieces.

He walked out of there expecting to hear the world as he had known it; it was not that world. What he heard was a mechanised version: a bird flew by, flapping its wings for take-off and height-gain. There was instant visual and environmental recognition, here was an urban pigeon entering onto a length of flight, the road to the next junction, maybe. It was too built-up for wood pigeons, though they had the same flapping-slap of flight. But this time it sounded like a rustling newspaper, a large broadsheet. This was not that familiar sound to vision connect he knew so well.

His cotton trousers brushed soft cotton socks; it was a rasping sound. That was wrong. He was so intent on this hearing phenomena, these anomalies, the car just missed him. The slightly off-centre focus of his hearing, a little further to the back of his head, skewed his balance; he felt he was lurching around. By the side of a road this was not good.

He came to that junction in the road and turned, off the curb again, on then off.

‘Did you see that fool, then?’

‘Drink. Or drugs.’

‘Shouldn’t be out.’

‘What a tosser.’

He walked away quickly. This is what he got the aids for, to hear conversations again. But this…. All those times outside of conversations, anything not one-to-one, anything with background music, or just sounds blanking out all finer sounds…. And this is what he needed them for? To hear this kind of thing? Everything has its plus, and its minus.

He was in the shopping precinct now; all around were conversations. He was no longer shut out, separated by a blurred barrier of sound, now he could hear. And what did he hear? Conversation as social glue, as recognition codes among women, and among men; the youths uttered a kind of blank-faced vowel-heavy monosyllabic talk. Back with their girlfriends they were animated and fully vocal again. This was bonding, rather than intercourse: all had come outdoors to re-register themselves as social beings of a certain type, place, age, social level.

That hiss. What was it? It was the hair over his ears, the ear pieces. Whenever his ears moved, and it was surprising how often, or his scalp moved – that too – whenever all the continual physiological responses of his head occurred it gave a hissing sound, like a simmering. It should be a lower sound, a rustle of hair on plastic, on packed plastic, not hollow; but a rustle.

It was then he began to notice the changes in the new sounds, a mismatch of known sound from recognised stimuli, and this altered sound. His sense of balance, ok, that was expected and explainable: his mind listened to these new sounds despite himself. His mind was so taken up with this that it left his vision to fend for itself. And so, that object glimpsed for a second, and which he had glimpsed so many times and knew to be a faded flower head over his high garden wall, now gave him a sudden alert.

He was home, and brushing up the soil he had just walked in with a hand brush. What was that? A crow cawing somewhere close. It was his shirt brushing the flock wall paper as he moved. Nothing was matching with anything else. His mind supplied the correct explanations, but the cause was not the right one. Although vision was always king, sound was the council of ministers, the underlying sense and explanation to everything seen.

Now every sound had borders again. Things you are not aware of, things taken for granted, things slowly accustomed to, building up, accumulating, as your own sense of self grows. And now how very untidy this house – everything overspilling. My god, he thought, Where’ve I been?

The week was taken up with tidying, only, the clarity was like a razor. He became ruthless; everything went. His comfortable apartment became… stark, sharp edged, with high-lumin light bulbs that gave no mercy.

A part of him found he could not stay indoors longer than needed. He interpreted this as being focused, energized. This mismatch set up a sense of restless energy that frequently tipped into acts of anger, sudden bursts, that made no sense to him. He’d leave whoever he had hurt, and walk away amazed at himself, appalled at himself, and thrilled.

He searched out the cleaner parts of the city. The Business sectors? No; vacant buildings accumulated there, closed-downs. It became a tumbleweed centre. No, the places he gravitated to were the financial sectors. Behind their black windows they generated as much energy as they had before. This time, they did it clandestinely. Their offices were… sharp-edged, minimalist, with high-lumin light bulbs. This was his new home.

But even there, a part of him shrank away from full commitment.

The straight abrupt angles of the building in front of him was the promotion of common sense and business confidence, of four-square achievement; solid, dependable. This was the crown of the great city.

Now, however, it and many of the ones in this style, especially in close proximity like this, their own financial sector, now radiated to all an overbearing feeling of dullness, of deadness of spirit and enterprise. They had come represent the hubris and failure of an economic system that was flawed at heart.

His hearing was now like that; it dictated to sight a different, diminished repertoire of sounds to meaning.