Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012

The part of the ceremony last night leading up to the 5 rings in the sky reminded me of a cross between a Wagner opera and Close Encounters.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Competing Litany

The postwar [i.e. post Third World War] landscape, then, was all over the country, featureless and dull. But in the neighborhood of Cambridge there was an exception to this. Owing to one of those freaks in the process of destruction, of which the Second World War had given many examples, the western tower of Ely Cathedral still survived. The rest of the church was flat, its ruins scarcely distinguishable in the mud that heaved around it, but the tower still stood, a gigantic and awe-inspiring landmark. Indeed its effect was so overwhelming that beholders had been known to faint at the sight of it, and even the least sensitive were moved with tumultuous feelings for which they couldn't account.
Those few who remembered the great building in its glory would sometimes try to describe it but they got no encouragement to do this, for nostalgia of any kind was looked on askance. Not that the Dictator frowned upon religion; he even encouraged it as a necessary outlet of the human spirit; but it had to be the contemporary religion of his own brand, and the Litany was the only form of it that he permitted to delinquents. The Litany in which everyone was equal, equal in sinnerdom. The tower of Ely Cathedral, piercing the heavens, spoke another language.
-- from FACIAL JUSTICE (1960) by L.P. Hartley

Friday, July 20, 2012

L.P.Hartley - Facial Justice

FACIAL JUSTICE by L.P. Hartley - has anyone else read it? I think it is a long lost SF masterpiece, with touches of Rhys Hughes here and there, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, plus something intrinsically unique. I am only a short way through it so far.

"People were allowed five minutes a day in which to laugh and get it over, like the interval for coughing which, in earlier days, was sometimes conceded to bronchial subjects at a concert."

"Betafy means beautify."

"Motorists (as they used to be called) were utterly irresponsible in their dealings with the pedestrian public; for their benefit homicide was legalised."

-- L.P. Hartley (Facial Justice 1960)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Today's quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE (1933) by John Cowper Powys. Perhaps he thought the word 'Esplumoir' was not in Malory because he misspelt it as 'Esplumeoir'!

"As all Merlin's disciples well know, there is a mysterious  word used in the Grail Books about his final disappearance. This is the word 'Esplumeoir.' It is inevitable from the context to interpret this as some 'Great Good Place', some mystic Fourth Dimension, or Nirvanic apotheosis, into which the magician deliberately sank, or rose; thus committing a sort of inspired suicide, a mysterious dying in order to live more fully. As he sought for one of his favourite passages -- for 'Esplumeoir' does not appear in Malory -- he kept murmuring that particular invocation under his breath, pondering intently on the occult escape offered by this runic clue from all the pain of the world, an escape so strangely handed down from far-off centuries in these thaumaturgic syllables."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Something Smothering

To placate is often to playact.   I have just completed the novel GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY by Elizabeth Goudge (764 pages in Capuchin) purchased during a remarkable holiday in Ely recorded elsewhere. It was only fitting that the dying tones of Richard Strauss' FOUR LAST SONGS were sounding from the stereo: live from tonight's London Proms performance - for this novel has affected me more than any other, I suspect. Implicated as I am in its 'mistake'. The homophone, the heteronym, the semantic disconnection. But I shake off any doubts. I do not in the end renew my vows of love. You see, I never abandoned them. So do not need to find them again. Nor to renew them. They will never be old. They were never young. They were and shall ever be so.  Something smothering, something embracing. Implacable love, implacable death.

An Aside

Most placating is playacting.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tender Shadows

Today's quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE (1933) by John Cowper Powys is given below. But first, has anyone compared the phenomenon of Marianne and Marguerite Le Patourel in GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY (1944) by Elizabeth Goudge with that of Cordelia and Crummie Geard in THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys? No? Well, I just did. They are both sets of sisters, with similar tensions of difference, physically and mentally, as well as a very intriguing psychological confusion of names and (mis-)aptness of names that lead to semi-confusions of identity, a fact which in the Goudge novel at least is an experience of the reader whiich implicates him or her more deeply in the narrative in a very disturbing way. That may also become true of the Powys novel but this is my first re-reading of it since 1975 and my memory is not good!
"As Cordelia watched the delicate softness of Crummie's limbs during the lengthy ritual, and the whiteness of her flesh thrown into tender shadows by the ruffled hem of her garment, there did come over the plain girl's mind a faint, flickering spasm of revolt. Why should her own poor knees be so bony and rough-textured? Why beneath her bony knees should her legs be like a pair of broom handles? If God had willed everything from the very Beginning of the World, why had He willed everything that all this exquisite delight in one's own body -- Crummie was at the mirror again now, turning this way and that way, as she tried on her new party dress -- should be given to one girl, while another girl felt her body to be a troublesome burden to be carried about? Oh, it didn't depend on having men to admire one, or to embrace one. 'It is the feeling,' thought poor Cordelia, 'of being beautiful to one's own self that matters!'"

Friday, July 13, 2012

Le Patourel and Geard

Has anyone compared the phenomenon of Marianne and Marguerite Le Patourel in GREEN DOLPHIN COUNTRY by Elizabeth Goudge with that of Cordelia and Crummie Geard in THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys? No? Well, I just did.

Big Brother - Summer 2012 (3)


(13 July) I have a feeling that one of Lauren and Becky - and their definite personalities, often attractive, often not so - is heading towards winning BB. They both can act disarmingly well in roles beyond themselves. Not that I particularly like either of them!
The avant garde music that Conor elicited from his megaphone was an interesting highlight last night. But I still hope he goes tonight.
All in all it has not been an inspiring bunch of people this season compared to some previous ones, if 'inspiring' is not too strong a word to ever use about this programme! Unless they have new HMs, I can't see that changing.
I am finding the 'warden' task bitty and unsatisfying. Like the HMs themselves. And Sara Long-Legs does not seem to 'grow' as a character at all...
Marion wrote HERE: "However, Sara was funny trying not to weep in the 'no cry' task. The shoogling in her chair and stamping of her feet when her MUm sent her love was comical. Then Ashleigh's 'no sound' task was very satisfying. She had about six rule breaks for squawking when 'rocks', and what looked like dead fish and birds, rained down on her head."
Yes, richly typical BB task outcomes. More natural than staged.
I agree that Shievonne was very engaging in her interview. In fact a natural TV star in the making, and maybe she will still make it. Pity this didn't shine out in the House.
And also agree that Conor will now be insufferable and I have severe doubts about his inner stability (despite what his mother and sister said as character witnesses)... Still I enjoyed the megaphone music more than Marion appeared to do! It synergised with Friday 13th and the First Night of the Proms that clashed with BB on another TV channel. Good job that with two brains inside my head, I can be in two places at once. Still I may miss BB tonight. Because sometimes I am nowhere.
Marion Arnott wrote: "The meanness of Ashley, Becky, Carline and Conor was shown in their appropriation of the alcohol that BB deleivered to the house."
Ashley and Carline? Are they new HMs I've not yet noticed?
The scream task had one great spin-off, however: Marianne being able to post Munch's Scream on this thread.
I saw that painting in real life in Oslo a few years ago.
Another bitty show. The wine-pilfering will run and run.
Marion wrote:
"Why is this ape still in the house? [...]
Caroline was at her whispering best - [...]
However, Ashleigh seems to have recognised something about Luke at last. In conversation with Conor, she remarked that in the photos, Luke's eyes looked like black holes, all screwed up. Yes, Ashleigh, dead black shark's eyes to go with his shark's grin."
Ape? Or gorilla? (and I echo the question!)
Susurrating Caroline continues to bundle herself bigger towards Becky's shape in some unconscious mimicry and fleshy masochism.
You are right, Marion, a better evening. And, indeed, by osmosis, Ashleigh seems to have already 'heard' what Luke S said about her during his own Carolingian self-puffing and hero-making calendarisation...
Indeed, Becky as well as Lauren was very funny in the 'ugly' team - and I think I mentioned before that these two are potential winners for their gamesmanship and ability to act and throw themselves about.
I got the impression towards the end of the programme that at least two HMs were either genuinely cracking up into madness or pretending to do so for Pinteresque dramatic effect - Deana and Caroline.
Thought Conor looked good as the Sheriff. One of his better nights.
(18 July) I am sure this programme can be fully enjoyed only through the eyes of Marion. That's why millions are tuning into her reports, I guess. A ho-down, a ho-up of a report, again and again, day after day. Thanks.
The discrete Becky-boob weigh-in was something to put in the Kinga annals of BB.
Jade returns even larger than life. RIP.
And Caroline is something smothering, and placating is almost always playacting. A moving mountain of towel as a theatrical aside.
I reckon they nominated Lauren because they think she is going to win.
Luke A to go on Friday, I say!!!
Marion wrote: "Caroline also took her insecurities to BB. She broke down in there, gasping and squeaking apologies which were practically inaudible because she had dropped into that ghastly little Violet Elizabeth Botts voice she uses when she's in trouble. Distinctly audible were 'Weally weally weally sowwy, weally weally intended no harm, weally weally ...million times better with Luke A and Lauren next week. And she weally weally hates herself."
That really stood out as a Nikki 'who is she?' confessional moment but in a different form. Didn't quite come off, but stood out and expunged near all else for me last night. Thanks goodness again for Marion's incisive eye.
Several people now seem to be wearing those one-piece snowtime pajamas that Arron once wore. Arron? That seems an age away now.
Sara is straight-talking, indeed, but lacks a 'who is she?' moment so far - and, in a funny way, so is Ashleigh straight-talking. Essex straight-talking in her case. No faux-mance for her. The land is flat in Essex and clear-sighted. The coasts with endless horizons, sometimes empty, sometimes full of hidden wisdom that one can bring to those horizons.
Did I actually hear Becky make the schoolyard joke that was around when I was young in the early 1950s? CONSTANTINOPLE is a long word - can you spell it?
There have been racial vibes in the house since this season started, I sense. Usually unspoken, often subtle, often unproven. The Curryhouse-gate incident is just one of them. The Shilpa Shetty incident casts its shadow every year on BB mores.
I wonder if the HMs realise they are going to miss the London Olympics? Is that why they often seem so sad.
Caroline acts as if she is about to divest herself from the mountain-of-towelling and dive in the archetypal Olympic pool. A catharsis not dissimilar to a body-and-soul baptism.
Last night, I was both surprised and disappointed that Lauren was evicted instead of Luke A. It will be the programme's loss. She did however lead Adam on a bit, what they call a P****-teaser in polite circles. Her interview was very professional. She may have far to go.
Sara starred, meanwhile, with her lie detector test. Sadly, she is not a star who can be starred, though, other than by her looks. There is also a strange steely British supremacy undercurrent to her character that may appeal to some viewers and not to others.
Meanwhile, I did not cross my legs to test out Becky's p**** theory...
I was wondering if Becky and Caroline were not so much laughing off the actual thought of close-to-hand sex acts of any sort within the BB House, but more a subconscious or conscious homophobic form of such a thought? To go alongside some HMs' subconscious or (partially concealed) conscious racism. A sad emblem for our times. Unspoken fears and antipathies pent up within an ostensible 'politically correct' society. And sometimes spoken rather than unspoken within closed social groups outside the House. Then breaking out of that pent up state during long hot summers...
I was cheering on Luke A via-a-vis Becky. I was astonished that Ashleigh broke his confidences, but having read Marion's report maybe I shouldn't have been. And indeed Luke A expected such an outcome? He is rewarding us for having been saved from eviction!
(23 July) Scott talking like someone in Coronation Street and Sara dressed as a baby doll Queen Elizabeth II were the highlights.
Caroline and the Fish-Eye was a trauma and a half.
I felt sorry for Ashleigh. Hers was the only letter task that depended on overcoming a reflex or a glitch like a hiccough - i.e a lifetime of swearing between every other word. She was BOUND to fail.
I saw a trailer of Conor feeling sorry for Deana about her lack of a letter, but I can't recall seeing the incident in 'real-time' playback. Was it shown?
Becky has become a stranded form of an emotional sea-mammal. Excusable, though, when you're only 19.
Marion wrote: "There wasn't a lot going on tonight and so I have only a few observations:"
Well, you could have fooled me! Another fulsome and generous supply of reported items. What would we do without Marion?
Ashleigh is rather buxom for her slender frame, I noted last night. The only item I can think to add.
Oh, and yes, Caroline's stern rabbit mouth when she tries to be serious. Not only casting aspersions but also then disowning them.
Marion wrote: "I'd rather look at Deana's, or even Adam's, than Becky's."
And talking of melons, I didn't get that game with the elastic bands, either, Marion. Until one of them spectacularly exploded. The nature of melons had previously escaped me.
I hope I don't hear a similar splatting noise when Luke S is in the vicinity.
And the fact that Becky was not nominated at all for eviction is something that religions are made of. An impossiblity.
Double eviction this week: Conor and Caroline!
Ashleigh or Deana or Scott eventually to win overall.
Well, I can't beat Marion's account (better than any other account on the whole internet) of the Ashleigh / Luke S 'fraughtmance'.
I'll just make mention of the GIANT slumber bed and its 'midnight feasts with crackly toffee paper' of the distaff soul. A quote I made much earlier on Facebook yesterday from 'Facial Justice' (1960) (the SF novel featuring the Tower of Ely Cathedral) by L.P. Hartley: "Little spirals of femininity had welled up in her, like bubbles in a soda-water siphon."
And those escapades contrasted with Albinoni's Adagio being played by the BB production team as background to an image of Luke A appearing as if he were about to appear in a Federico Fellini film...
Sara came out tonight - as her namesake Bernhardt:
The farrago of the Office games was hard to understand. Surely the others eventually realised Deana and Sara were cheating because they had a secret mission. They do say Hell is Other People. An 'In Camera' Hell must be even more severe.
Thanks, Marion. What I was trying to remember was being woken up in the middle of the night in midsummer to enact a New Year's Eve party with all its joyous singing etc. A bleary-eyed bizazz that beats any theatrical performance of real dislocation I've ever witnessed.
Marion, are you sure that object that hit Caroline's face - with such subsequent wild playacting injury - was not caused by her own throwing it in the air playfully and failing to catch it? I can't recall it being thrown at her by someone else.
I may not be commenting again till Sunday.
The Olympic ceremony was interesting, better than I expected, but I didn't notice the giant bed, as I wasn't watching the whole time. The scene leading up to the five rings in the sky reminded me of a Wagner opera.
Meanwhile, Brian was right: the interview was as chaotic as Caroline's hair: symbolic of a negative synergy that (as Marion also says) is a bit worrying with regard to the prospect of her mental health following this experience.
An interesting case-study, not necessarily one that was comfortable to watch. I said early on she was one to watch. It turned out that I was right for the wrong reasons. She'll never be another Nikki.
Nothing to add to that, Marion. You created a very interesting review of a relatively boring episode.
A quote from Nina Allan's excellent story in TTA's Black Static #29 (which I am real-time reviewing at the moment):
It is true that I have formed friendships, intellectual and sometimes emotional alliances that lasted a decade or more. But the ending is always the same: a boredom that finally becomes so oppressive that I am driven to fabricate some feud or schism that explodes the relationship apart.”
Life is just a slow-motion version of Big Bother, I'd say.
Or Big Brother is a micro of life's macro.
Marion wrote: "Sara also decided a few tears shed wouldn't do her cause any harm. She related the tale of how she and her Mother helped a man with nowhere to go by giving him the only thing he asked for - food. She complained about the lack of help for people like him and wept. Cool as cucumber, Deana told her about poverty in India and how she should be glad to live in Britain where the poverty of India is unknown. She said people did not appreciate how lucky they are to live here and that she is proud to be British. This forced Sara into agreeing with her and re-establishing her Unionist and Royalist credentials. Deana took the drama right out of Sara's control and made her look silly. Oh, that Deana is a clever one!"
The box game was OK. But that bit Marion describes above was the most remarkable event, with lots of fleeting emotions over some people's faces, hard to read, inscrutable, but there nevertheless and interpretable in various ways, especially when Deana praised living in England or was it Britain, seemingly giving a right-wing salute as she said it? Ironic or sincere or subconscious or simply misinterpretable? Sara and Ashleigh were particularly inscrutable listening to Deana. Sara's Bernhardt tears returned and, already knowing about her extreme idiosyncratic Royalism, this model makes a very strange mix. Shall I ever fathom these people, as in a all great dramas and literature?
More significantly, can they fathom themselves? 
I wrote a week or so ago: "In all the years I've been watching and commenting piecemeal on BB seasons, I don't think I've ever thought to compare the DR to a religious Confessional, with a priest (here BB) on the other side of the grille. With Scott's lengthy meticulous pickings out at his thoughts. Shievonne's eschatology described by Marion above. [I coined the word eschairtology recenty, as it happens (HERE in connection with a Reggie Oliver story)!] And I could go on with this analogy!"
(31 July) The BB authorities obviously been reading this thread and pinched the idea.
Actually, like Marion, I thought it was a very good task. A lot of home truths shining through the self-theatre.
Sara seems to be growing middle-aged phsyically and mentally as day follows day in the House.
I still think Essex girl Ashleigh is a good bet for the eventual winner.
Deana's 'improvement' speech was well thought out and delivered. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Diurnal Heroism of Manual Labour

Today’s quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE (1933) by John Cowper Powys. This represents the first appearance of Geard: with a head like mine! But can one ‘own’ one’s head that is joined to the body. Don’t you only own things that need not be yours to own until you do own them?

“Here there was a suspended gas-globe, and here the strangers turned, revealing the black bowler hat and hooked Roman nose of Mr. Owen Evans, and a broad-shouldered, rather fleshy individual, without any hat, whose grizzled head under that suspended light seemed to Sam the largest human head he had ever seen. It was the head of a hydrocephalic dwarf; but in other respects its owner was not dwarfish. In other respects its owner had the normally plump, rather unpleasantly plump figure of any well-to-do-man, whose back has never been bent nor his muscles hardened by the diurnal heroism of manual labour.”

Monday, July 09, 2012

A Weather-Washed Lust

Today's quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE (1933) by John Cowper Powys. (I am collecting all these passages here:
"Their love was lust, a healthy, earthy, muddy, weather-washed lust, like the love of water-rats in Alder Dyke or the love of badgers on Brandon Heath. They were shamelessly devoid of any Ideal Love. Born to belong to each other, by the same primordial law that made the Egyptian Ptolemies marry their sisters, they accepted their fatal monogamy as if it were the most casual of sensual attractions.
And in the etheric atmosphere about those two, as they stood there, quivered the immemorial Mystery of Glastonbury. Christians had one name for this Power, the ancient heathen inhabitants of this place had another, and a quite different one. Everyone who came to this spot seemed to draw something from it, attracted by a magnetism too powerful for anyone to resist, but as different people approached it they changed its chemistry, though not its essence, by their own identity..."

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Wooden Exactions

Today's quoted passage from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys: "Every girl lives so constantly in the imaginative atmosphere of being made love to that even the most ignorant of them is rarely shocked or surprised. It is the material consequences that they dread, not moral remorse or any idea that they are allowing what is wrong. John's way of love-making might, however, have easily palled on a more passionate nature than Mary's; for he was not only profoundly corrupt but extremely egoistic, touching her and holding her in the manner that most excited his own childishly fantastic imagination and never asking himself whether this was what suited her, nor for one second forgetting himself in any rush of tempestuous tenderness. But Mary, as though she really *were* a hamadryad, who had known the shamelessness of hundreds of whimsical satyrs, treated the whole thing with grave, sweet, indulgent passivity. Something in her kindred nature, some willow-rooted, fen-country perversity, seemed to need just this protracted cerebral courtship to stir the essential coldness of her blood and nerves. One quaint feeling often came to her, in the oddest moments of his 'sweet usage,' namely that he was one of her old, faded, wooden *dolls*; yes, the most dilapidated and injured of all four which used to belong to her, come to life again, but this time full of queer, hardly human exactions that she would willingly prostitute herself for hours to satisfy, so long as she could hear those wooden joints creak and groan in their joy."

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Two Twilights

Today's quote from THE GLASTONBURY ROMANCE by John Cowper Powys -- "The best time for any human being to pray to the First Cause if he wants his prayers to have a prosperous issue is one or other of the Two Twilights; either the twilight preceding the dawn or the twilight following the sunset. Human prayers that are offered up at noon are often intercepted by the Sun -- for all creative powers are jealous of one another -- and those that are offered up at midnight are liable to be waylaid by the Moon in her seasons or by the spirit of some thwarting planet. It is a natural fact that those Two Twilights are propitious to psychic intercourse with the First Cause while other hours are malignant and baleful."