Wednesday 27 February 2013

I like red


i like
it dances
for me

alexandre arnau

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Red carpet

'Red may have been purple in antiquity as the Greeks had a very different conception of colour  to ours. For instance they had no word for true blue. Was Clytemnestra's carpet purple, or was it crimson? Was the imperial purple, in fact, red? Let us believe that Clytemnestra wove a crimson carpet for Agamemnon - blood red with a touch of blue in the blood. When he stepped on this first red carpet, he committed the sin of hubris - and was murdered. Red carpets lead to assessination. Revolutions die in their own red. Have you ever stepped on a red carpet? Felt the pomp and circumstance? Before it was pulled from under your feet? Red betrays.'

Derek Jarman (2000), Chroma: a book of colour - June '93. London: Vintage, p. 38

Thursday 21 February 2013

between going and staying

Entre irse y quedarse duda el día,
enamorado de su transparencia.

La tarde circular es ya bahía:
en su quieto vaivén se mece el mundo.

Todo es visible y todo es elusivo,
todo está cerca y todo es intocable.

Los papeles, el libro, el vaso, el lápiz
reposan a la sombra de sus nombres.

Latir del tiempo que en mi sien repite
la misma terca sílaba de sangre.

La luz hace del muro indiferente
un espectral teatro de reflejos.

En el centro de un ojo me descubro;
no me mira, me miro en su mirada.

Se disipa el instante. Sin moverme,
yo me quedo y me voy: soy una pausa.

Octavio Paz

Between Going and Staying

Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.

All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.

Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.

Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.

The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.

I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.

The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause.

Friday 15 February 2013

'secret joy in a mist of gold'

(So was it with Helen in Troy.)

  And how shall I call the thing that came
    At the first hour to Ilion city?
  Call it a dream of peace untold,
  A secret joy in a mist of gold,
  A woman's eye that was soft, like flame,
    A flower which ate a man's heart with pity.
'Agamemnon' by Aeschylus

Wednesday 13 February 2013

precarious equilibrium of being

'Listen: Good things, things that do no harm are not the things to watch. They don't require the alert arts. Disaster, folly, the precarious equilibrium of being, the inertial contradictions of phenomena, these, collectively,  are a delicate situation to be understood and in part manipulated. Many have no capacity of such nuance. I say this to you only because I know that you and I are in perfect accord.'

Russell Atkins (1971), Maleficium. Ohio: Freelance Press, p.1

Eclipse Archive

Tuesday 12 February 2013


Delight is as the flight—
Or in the Ratio of it,
As the Schools would say—
The Rainbow's way—
A Skein
Flung colored, after Rain,
Would suit as bright,
Except that flight
Were Aliment—

"If it would last"
I asked the East,
When that Bent Stripe
Struck up my childish
And I, for glee,
Took Rainbows, as the common way,
And empty Skies
The Eccentricity—

And so with Lives—
And so with Butterflies—
Seen magic—through the fright
That they will cheat the sight—
And Dower latitudes far on—
Some sudden morn—
Our portion—in the fashion—

Saturday 9 February 2013

'come travel in dreams'

La Voix
Mon berceau s'adossait à la bibliothèque,
Babel sombre, où roman, science, fabliau,
Tout, la cendre latine et la poussière grecque,
Se mêlaient. J'était haut comme un in-folio.
Deux voix me parlaient. L'une, insidieuse et ferme,
Disait: «La Terre est un gâteau plein de douceur;
Je puis (et ton plaisir serait alors sans terme!)
Te faire un appétit d'une égale grosseur.»
Et l'autre: «Viens! oh! viens voyager dans les rêves,
Au delà du possible, au delà du connu!»
Et celle-là chantait comme le vent des grèves,
Fantôme vagissant, on ne sait d'où venu,
Qui caresse l'oreille et cependant l'effraie.
Je te répondis: «Oui! douce voix!» C'est d'alors
Que date ce qu'on peut, hélas! nommer ma plaie
Et ma fatalité. Derrière les décors
De l'existence immense, au plus noir de l'abîme,
Je vois distinctement des mondes singuliers,
Et, de ma clairvoyance extatique victime,
Je traîne des serpents qui mordent mes souliers.
Et c'est depuis ce temps que, pareil aux prophètes,
J'aime si tendrement le désert et la mer;
Que je ris dans les deuils et pleure dans les fêtes,
Et trouve un goût suave au vin le plus amer;
Que je prends très souvent les faits pour des mensonges,
Et que, les yeux au ciel, je tombe dans des trous.
Mais la voix me console et dit: «Garde tes songes:
Les sages n'en ont pas d'aussi beaux que les fous!» 
                                              Charles Baudelaire,  Fleur du mal (1868)

The Voice
The back of my crib was against the library,
That gloomy Babel, where novels, science, fabliaux,
Everything, Latin ashes and Greek dust,
Were mingled. I was no taller than a folio.
Two voices used to speak to me. One, sly and firm,
Would say: "The Earth's a cake full of sweetness;
I can (and then there'd be no end to your pleasure!)
Give you an appetite of equal size."
And the other: "Come travel in dreams
Beyond the possible, beyond the known!"
And it would sing like the wind on the strand,
That wailing ghost, one knows not whence it comes,
That caresses the ear and withal frightens it.
I answered you: "Yes! gentle voice!" It's from that time
That dates what may be called alas! my wound
And my fatality. Behind the scenes
Of life's vastness, in the abyss' darkest corner
I see distinctly bizarre worlds,
And ecstatic victim of my own clairvoyance,
I drag along with me, serpents that bite my shoes.
And it's since that time that, like the prophets,
I love so tenderly the desert and the sea;
That I laugh at funerals and weep at festivals
And find a pleasant taste in the most bitter wine;
That very often I take facts for lies
And that, my eyes raised heavenward, I fall in holes.
But the Voice consoles me and it says: "Keep your dreams;
Wise men do not have such beautiful ones as fools!"

Translated into English by William Aggeler  (1954)

Friday 8 February 2013


'Mnemosyne, the rememberer, was the Muse of the epic art among the Greeks. [...]

Memory creates the chain of tradition which passes a happening on from generation to generation. It is the Muse-derived element of the epic art in a broader sense and encompasses its varieties. In the first place among these is the one practiced by the storyteller. It starts the web which all other stories  together form in the end. One ties on to the next, as the great storytellers, particularly the Oriental ones, have always readily shown. In each of them there is a Scheherazade who thinks of a fresh story whenever her tale comes to a stop.'

Benjamin, Walter, 1936/1999a. The storyteller: reflections on the works of Nikolai Leskov. In: Arendt, Hannah ed., 1999. Illuminations. Translated from German by Harry Zorn. London: Pimlico, pp.96/97

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Good counsel

'All great storytellers have in common the freedom with which they move up and down the rungs of their experience as on a ladder. A ladder extending downwards to the interior of the earth and disappearing into the clouds is the image for a collective experience to which even the deepest shock, death, constitutes no impediment or barrier.

"And they lived happily ever after," says the fairytale. The fairy tale which is to this day the tutor of children because it was once the first tutor of mankind, secretly lives on in the story. The first true storyteller is, and will continue to be, the teller of fairy tales. Whenever good counsel was at a premium, the fairy tale had it, and where the need was greatest, its aid was nearest. This need was the need created by myth. The fairy tale tells us of the earliest arrangements that mankind made to shake off the nightmare which the myth had placed upon its chest.'

Benjamin, Walter, 1936/1999a. The storyteller: reflections on the works of Nikolai Leskov. In: Arendt, Hannah ed., 1999. Illuminations. Translated from German by Harry Zorn. London: Pimlico, pp.100/101 

Monday 4 February 2013


'If you could have wings would you want them?
     I don’t know.
I mean, if you could use them to fly, would you want them?
     Yes, if I could fly.
But they would be really big.
      How big?
They might brush against your knees as you walked, or be bigger than some doorways.
And what if you couldn’t ever take them off?
       I still would want them.
If you couldn’t take them off, even if you were going somewhere, or going to bed, or eating at a table, or you wanted to pick someone up, you could never take them off?
       Yes, I would. I would still want them.
Because you could fly?
        Yes, because of the flying.
And if they were heavy, or even if no one else had them, and even if your children and their children   didn’t have them?
         Yes, I think so.
But you would still have arms and hands and legs, and you could still speak, but you had wings, too. You would want the wings, too?
          Yes, I would want the wings, too.
And when you were walking around, people would stare at you, and they wouldn’t necessarily understand that you could fly?
           I understand. I understand that they wouldn’t understand.
Or if people thought they meant something, something they didn’t really mean?
            I would know what the wings were for.
And if you had them, forever—the forever, I mean, that is your life, you would still want them?
            Yes, I would want them. I would take them, so long as I could fly.
that I might fly away
      that I might fly away where the ships
             that I might fly away where the ships of pine wood pass between the dark cliffs'

Susan Stewart (2003), Columbarium. London & Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, p.100/101

More flights

Friday 1 February 2013

'dreams wandering in the daylight'

'If we ask why men are so blind, seeking their welfare thus through incessant evil, Aeschylus will tell us that the cause lies in the infection of old sin, old cruelty. There is no doubt somewhere a [Greek: prôtarchos hAtê ], a "first blind deed of wrong," but in practice every wrong is the result of another. [...]
This awful conception of a race intent upon its own wrongs, and blindly groping towards the very terror it is trying to avoid, is typified, as it were, in the Cassandra story. That daughter of Priam was beloved by Apollo, who gave her the power of true prophecy. In some way that we know not, she broke her promise to the God; and, since his gift could not be recalled, he added to it the curse that, while she should always foresee and foretell the truth, none should believe her. The Cassandra scene is a creation beyond praise or criticism. The old scholiast speaks of the "pity and amazement" which it causes. The Elders who talk with her wish to believe, they try to understand, they are really convinced of Cassandra's powers. But the curse is too strong. The special thing which Cassandra tries again and again to say always eludes them, and they can raise no finger to prevent the disaster happening. And when it does happen they are, as they have described themselves, weak and very old, "dreams wandering in the daylight."'

GILBERT MURRAY, Explanatory notes on 'Agamemnon' by Aeschylus
Project Gutenberg