4 February 2009

Liberty Hall, All A-Tremble

Of Heavy Lifters and Overskurken

I expect it's the snow that set me thinking of Ibsen.

The last time I saw "John Gabriel Borkman" was in The Focus Theatre.

The production was much better than the review here reveals and the claustrophia of indoor living was very well created.

Since it is such a tiny space, more like a dining room than a theatre, I found myself almost worn out with suppressed laughter, as I kept catching our hero's
eye as he sorted his moral status out to everybody's satisfaction. The fact that the effort killed him says more about the inherent morbidity of Ibsen's mind than it does about the realist tradition in Western Theatre. It seems so melodramatic now.

Next day one of the cast was standing in front of me in the supermarket.
Since we had not been introduced and given the fact that it must be horrible to be constantly approached in public I can at last say what my experience was here.

"Great performance! Very nice costumes!"

Quel (H)Auteur

I was amused to find that a publishing aggregator had somehow discovered a textbook I wrote years ago and that I'm now listed on the net as an "Auteur".

Really, everybody should write, if only to pass the time.
Virginia Woolf, when she visited Ireland, expressed bewilderment at the fact that every Irish person was not a novelist. Storytelling and communication is what we spend our time at, and looking at the climate, that is understandable. A visitor from Spain thought the way many of us lived here was the equivalent of an 18th Century lifestyle. Indoors playing instruments, drinking our heads off and (more recently) blogging...

"Just like Beehoven", was his summary.

(A nice piece in today's Title Bar about why journalists should blog.)


I, like my fellow countrypersons, have much need to think about "Society" at the moment. Unlike some experts on the subject, I do not think that society does not exist. I simply find it a nuisance.

On the other hand, it can be very amusing indeed. Last night I watched as two men wrangled on TV, like toddlers whose toy was broken, over the latest news that the Irish Government, in it's infinite (and if the Constitution is to be taken seriously, God given) wisdom has decided to crucify the public sector in order to get back the money it has squandered. I never bought a pension and now I have to be glad I did not. Clothes, as anybody who bothers to visit here may have guessed, are a priority in a cold climate and while I do not intend to spend my declining years as a burden on "the kindness of strangers", so far in my life, buying a personal pension would have been a luxury beyond all price. Thousands of people, captive contributors to a society that nobody could fathom, are about to be punished for having the foresight to prepare for difficult times that may occur as they age.

John Garbriel Borkman spent years in self-imposed reclusion after his mis-judgements brought ruin on the people round him. If Ibsen were writing today, he would have to change both context and moral climate. Borkman would possibly be portrayed sitting sipping Margaritas on the beach.

Metaphors for the times we live in?

Salad days, as we are about to find out, never last very long, but we may as well enjoy them while they are there.

3 February 2009

And It's Words, Words Are All I Have...

It looks as if I may have to blog forever.

Every post calls for clarification and expansion, or so it seems whenever I
make a statement that seems to be cast in stone.

Having thought about why I did not send an explanatory private message with a note to explain that a post I made was not meant to be defamatory, I see that the wisdom of keeping Internet work as up-front as possible has stood me in good stead so far.
There's no point in having energy leaked away into a subtext of cross annotation, performed privately and with the danger, as is always the case with footnotes, of either being prolix or not to the point.

When I started into the workplace as an adult, the amount of emotion expended on making sure everybody was included was a major priority. This is still the case, but I steer clear of posters who assume a negative interpretation in what they read on the Internet and assume that it is somehow offensive. I'm used to the concept of outrage as it has stifled so many conversations, both real and virtual since the introduction of politically correct language use. Obviously I don't want to run a blog that is prejudiced, mean-spirited or which offers daily incitement to hatred. Even if I did want such an odd piece of writing, I would probably get my come-uppance in jig time. Some bloggers court danger and are very popular as a result. The frenzy is not for me.

However, looking at the ever-widening Blogosphere, there is something wearing about the expectation that offense is intended at every turn in contemporary society. I learned very quickly to avoid people who are very easily offended for a very simple reason.

I find them tiring... But that is just a measure of my energy levels,
not a slur on them or their way of doing things.

...And there is always the bright side.
Without the misunderstanding that started this train of thought,
I would not now know the
following reference and would not have learned
something new.

Just Because a Person is Rude and Abrasive on the Net

does not mean they are not useful.

Today I posted a question on a chat room and, embedded in the personal witterings of one of the posters, was the answer I needed.

Some of the invective that offends and alarms many people on the Internet is a form
of mental static to my mind. It crackles away in the background, and while it may be a nuisance if one is tired, it's not to be taken personally.

I was told I was extremely rude and possibly making a jibe recently.
I had used the expression "going at it bald-headed" and was seriously reprimanded.
Since I have never met my critic and now have every intention of avoiding contact with them in any circumstance from now on, I thought very little of this except to remind myself that English as it was spoken in the past is now very changed.

I've been told that I'm boring on another chat room. That is helpful, because it will save me wasting time there. Friends say they would find such an accusation very rude and hurtful. I find it honest.

People deduce many things from an online identity.
If you spend your day fulminating against the Government, hunting in packs as some very entertaining (mostly male) posters do, or bewailing one's lot, you may be interesting for a moment.

Unfortunately, you may be forming a public persona that is clownish at best or unemployable at worst.

When I chose to make contact for the first time with a person who was looking for employment on the Internet, I was taking, in my own limited experience, a very great risk. I chose a poster who was kind, considerate and took time to explain things clearly to other, less experienced posters on that site. My judgement was not wrong and we have benefitted enormously from the contact.

It Seems I Am Mistaken

in thinking that Dame Freya Stark was wealthy and protected when she
started travelling in the Middle East. All I do know is that I liked her quote
about never writing for money and that she would bake bread a sell it to earn her
living rather than compromise by writing as a hack.

It's years since I read about her and Mary Kingsley, who did escape the stuffy
world where education for women was very rare and who went to West Africa to scare

These women were, in fact, so scary, they have ensured I will probably never set foot
in either Africa or the Middle East. And reading their wonderful books has saved me the discomfort of such travel.

De Scriptorum

Damien Mulley has written an engaging piece on the theme of
"How Do You Write". He explains his methodology clearly and
it would be a good guide for anybody thinking of taking to this trade.

My answer to the question is simple...

I write

with difficulty.

Things picked up considerably once I stopped writing professionally.
Try describing a house without getting sued and you know what writing
truly is. Threats of writs used fall into the office like the hail that
is now falling from our leaden skies.

"What do you mean, the street where this house stands is noisy? You're sued!!!"

Thanks to a cheeful disposition I found it very funny indeed,
but took it seriously enough at the time to carry colour charts and measuring
tapes. I even used 'phone builder's providers to discuss what unrecognised materials in ceilings might possibly be. Nobody wants to end up out of pocket
just because they can't tell the difference between eau de nil and olive green.

I now write purely and simply for my own pleasure.
In that I am a fellow spirit with Freya Stark.
She could, thanks to a large inheritance, have sat tatting on a chaise longue
and gossipped about the neighbours to her heart's content.
Instead she gallopped round the Middle East at a time when ladies were not often seen there and certainly not gallopping.

She lived to be over one hundred, which I put down to the excellent effect
of being able to express herself freely and without restraint in writing.

She is a model to all of us.

2 February 2009

As You May Have Already

guessed, Proust is on my mind.

A great book by Eric Karpeles has come out and is there to
guide fans through the treasures of the Louvre as well
as through many other paintings that Proust described with such love.

I came across an interesting post recently where the writer found
the Louvre "over-rated". Perhaps I have very low standards...
but I think it an expression of Heaven on Earth.

Saddam and Begorrah

I kid you not...

I've just come across a site where "Sodom" is written as "Saddam".

I edited an aside out of one of yesteday's posts because it did not fit in.
I have often wondered why people make such a political issue around gay rights and
before you rush to denounce me as being blind to the prejudices involved,
I have found that I am not alone.

I'm married. It's not a big deal. Probably I would make an almight fuss if I were prevented from being married, however...

I have never understood why heterosexuality has been so institutionalised, either.
Why two people who buy a house together should have to be bound hand and foot in holy wedlock before they are given the right to do so was the norm when we bought our house. The fact that we accomodated every criterion has not stopped financial institutions playing Molly Bawn with our savings and sexual politics look like having little place in the horrors that await all of us for the next few years.

I'll probably have to start making my own clothes again.

Oh dear...

Here's a nice image of a fine Georgian house to cheer us all up:

The House at Marlay

There were no flies on Yeats

For those who do not know the story, the reference to Yeats and his
wife yesterday was to the fact that Yeats, a practical man behind it all,
bought his wife, George, the gift of a typewriter so that she could work
as his secretary.

Not given to doing things by halves, it seems, this finely tuned and imaginative
lady set about communicating with "The Other Side" and produced automatic
texts that were worked in the final work "A Vision".

I was guided away from what was seen in the 1970's as a deviation from the true
artistic path of that writer, even though I found the outpourings of imagery in
"A Vision" quite breath-taking. The more finely honed works were the most appreciated by academics in those days. However, since then scholars have integrated the middle works and found them not lacking.

1 February 2009

The top of whatever time of the

day you happen to find yourself in to you.

As if I didn't have enough to worry me, I have just discovered that a blog was removed from the canon of Irish award bloggery last year for "not being Irish enough". Having been nominated this year, some enthusiastic card-carrying evidence of un-un-Irish activity might be in order?

I could mention that today is Saint Bridget's Day, for all the good it has done us. The days may be lengthening, as the old gaelic poem in praise of our second national saint claims, but we are being buffetted by wild eastern gales, our currency is going pear-shaped and everybody (apart from the ever-lively musicians) at the afternoon concert in the National Gallery this afternoon looked as if they were either fast asleep or cast in aspic... sorry, Carragheen Moss. This observation may be a sad case of Freudian transference. I caught a glimpse of my face reflected in a window and it was of a paleness that only an Irish Winter can impose.

The vague question broached on a chat room recently about what might constitute an "Irish Blog" brought such a deluge of Hiberno-English non-sequeturs that I've taken a break from trying to communicate with my fellow country-persons.

Adding insult to injury, the Title Bar here has started a bout of automatic writing
in Hindi which might have impressed Yeats and his wife, but which just makes me wonder if it is actually mimicing what I'm typing in English or is just making fun of my lack of Hindi.

National identity has never been my forte and that is just as well.

As I stood photographing the light fading over Merrion Square this afternoon a voice rose taking my appearance in and finding it unusual. "There aren't that many tourists around at the moment", it said.

My new American designed coat, Japanese camera and the genetic material conveyed through my Norman ancestors and English great-grandmother have conspired to make me look "foreign".

They have a lot to answer for...

Flying by ...

...on wings of song to say "G'Day".

We've just been to hear the Vanbrugh Quartet play.