tag : bright yellow-green apples: September 2005

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

who d'you say that I am?

hippie Jesus happy Jesus hip-hoping Jesus righteous Jesus pink Jesus singing Jesus community Jesus wondering Jesus dying Jesus faceless Jesus capitalist Jesus friendly Jesus fashionable Jesus working Jesus old Jesus urban Jesus monochrome Jesus insane Jesus touching Jesus scabby Jesus shopping Jesus baby Jesus floating Jesus sleeping Jesus infected Jesus eating Jesus yes Jesus movie Jesus animal Jesus playing Jesus yawning Jesus dirty Jesus bargain Jesus priestly Jesus zombie Jesus hidden Jesus protest Jesus working Jesus scientific Jesus driving Jesus pretty Jesus crumbling Jesus rehabilitated Jesus burning Jesus poster Jesus asylum Jesus comedy Jesus shameless Jesus ancient Jesus menace Jesus erotic Jesus accusing Jesus tempting Jesus irritating Jesus apathetic Jesus preacher Jesus future Jesus rock Jesus useful Jesus shocking Jesus recording Jesus helpless Jesus synthetic Jesus holiday Jesus observant Jesus wild Jesus dreaming Jesus dreamy Jesus contraband Jesus loving Jesus temple Jesus blotchy Jesus e Jesus persecuting Jesus holy Jesus disappointed Jesus thinking Jesus grieving Jesus obvious Jesus sugary Jesus aspirational Jesus kissing Jesus mocking Jesus druggy Jesus passionate Jesus fantasy Jesus picnic Jesus comforting Jesus international Jesus spirit Jesus sissy Jesus cyborg Jesus financial Jesus reticent Jesus entertaining Jesus alien Jesus lawful Jesus departing Jesus text Jesus authentic Jesus meditating Jesus radio Jesus running Jesus DIY Jesus reading Jesus prisoner Jesus heavenly Jesus story Jesus flying Jesus lonely Jesus disco Jesus changing Jesus godless Jesus who d'you say that I am?

the last gasp


figure 12.9. "look up, there go the labour principles"

I've held back a certain amount for so long now, but no more. Listening to bits of Tony Blair's speech earlier today, I couldn't help but sigh inside when hearing him trancing on about how he wants to mash up - I mean reform - the public services for many years to come. A little bit of me died. That bit which was willing to give him some slack, thinking that he actually meant well. But no, he really is some slightly crazed political fanatic - willing to stamp around and gut some of the most socially beneficial aspects of our society just to prove an ideological point. How long do we have to put up with this tosh for?

And while I'm on a righteous bent, might I recommend a new poem by Ash. It's very fine - not just a list of invective, but leavened by thoughtful reflection. It's a welcome release.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

oooh I don't need no minute man

figure 97.9. the way it's carried

I found this picture over on Divine Talk, and for some reason it really fascinates me. It might be the presentation of God going through the motions, gesturing in a physical manner. I've certainly never seen so transcendent, mysterious, partial, a God visually presented to us in such a visually convincing way. Presenting to us with such assured potential, for how we might communicate that God ourselves and see. Move over word, the flesh is having its say.

Talking of which, there's been a 100 minute bible written. For better or worse, it seems to be a reflection of time of soundbites and short spans - the marketing of everything in an attempt to make it snappy. Maybe some people say this is about accessibility. This new format might help people find a hook into the bible, to get an overview of the narratives and a taster from which to further explore, which is surely for the good. I wouldn't wish to be a snob, even as I mourn the loss of poetry and subtlety that must surely follow this 'abstract'. But one worry I do have is of the image it creates, or is borne out of the approach. In treating the bible as something that can be condensed to a few pages, the writer's working on the basis that the bible is a linear treatise which we can communicate by maxims. Where's the mystery and discovery, as many stories as life, in a thin adaptation?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

to bear in mind

figure 45.8. none may go yet

The main road south from my town passes through a very windy and steep valley, at times pressed in on either side by trees. Because so many tourists pass through, complacently going at high speeds, we get a lot of accidents - of which a fair few have been, unfortunately, fatal. Apart from front page coverage in the Matlock Mercury, I've noticed in recent years a tendency for various memorials. Often a bunch of flowers and card, there have been the odd plaque or longer lasting token - there's a poignancy to it, when we see police helicopters flying overhead throughout the summer weekends.

Thus my eye was immediately drawn to this comment in the Guardian recently. It seems quite brave, in a way, to question the ad hoc shrines to grief. Because private mourning is not dealt with lightly. And because of the rising propensity to shared public emoting is becoming quite a force, even if people were eventually embarrassed post-Diana. I find his central point - about how easily this could slip into emotionally claiming our public spaces - quite convincing. The most vital element of public spaces, be they countryside or urban, is that there's a sense of ownership with all who use and pass through it. Connection with a wide variety of different people can be difficult if meaning and resonance is pared-down so dramatically, as can easily happen with the sharpest of emotions.

I'd like to think there were a way of opening up the shrines, of making them less of a prison built unwittingly by private need and emotion. There must be some lesson in acts like Holocaust Memorial day, with it's wider themes and resonances that play beyond the specific cause for remembrance. For at least ensuring against the common disenfranchisement, of all but a few concerned with the totems placed at the centre of the space, from our shared ground. I certainly think it's possible, and might happen with a bit of creativity. I found this picture (see above) of a roadside shrine in Japan. And though it wouldn't be absolute personal and specific like you could get from a personally-placed bunch of flowers in a place of resonance, be it mourning or celebration, there would at least be that shared meaning in a locus. When so much public religion seems to be in change, with new things developing ad hoc, this kinda example might be good to bear in mind.

Monday, September 12, 2005

bang bang

I was in the lower room, at chapel, the other night. It was some kind of social thing, cos there were people all around, sat at chestnut brown formica tables chatting amiably. I was happy with them, until saw a figure sat by the east wall. He was smashing at one of the walls with some device and a hammer, on which there were the remains of beautiful deep green glazed tiles – overlaid with tracings of light turquoise pattern. I was upset by this desecration, and quickly asked him to stop. He refused, and told me no, indeed to go away. I got irate and said loudly that I was leaving, then. People were watching the commotion, as I was asked if this was forever. I replied that it was merely for tonight – or at least a short time – as I didn’t want to be around while they were doing such terrible things. So walking out into the dark, at near midnight...

It's funny what you dream about.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

a question of moderation

figure 67.9. what natures?

I was listening to Question Time the other night, which was entertaining as ever. Someone asked about 'the rise of China', as a lot of recent analysis puts it, and whether we should be worried. So much of the concern, about how the rest of us might be threatened, is guff - the county's undemocratic regime, and its countless abuses, notwithstanding. But one of the panellists, the ever annoying Clare Fox (right-wing loony, and lacking a sense of humour - she wouldn't even enter into the spirit of the traditional flippant last question), said that we shouldn't be concerned about the economics of the country. And that there were aspirations to a western lifestyle is something to be celebrated, as part of their betterment. But George Monbiot puts it well, when he pointed out that there isn't enough of the world to be able to support every single person living a western material lifestyle. It's just not possible:

"Modern economics, whether informed by Marx or Keynes or Hayek, is premised on the notion that the planet has an infinite capacity to supply us with wealth and absorb our pollution. The cure to all ills is endless growth. Yet endless growth, in a finite world, is impossible."

And to see continuous economic growth as a central plank of humanity's 'salvation' could eventually create the opposite, as we fashion a dysfunctional world by our exponential demands for stuff. This is where I would get worried about the way China is developing - the logical conclusion might be disastrous, with so many people living in the country. There are, after all, enough problems as it is with a limited part of the world living this lifestyle. If the larger population blocks of Asia reach it, then we might have cause for concern.

Appropriately enough, some quite inspirational lessons from China's past feature in this latest article by Karen Armstrong, of a number of stories:

"The Chinese had assumed that their resources were inexhaustible, so they had plundered the countryside and slaughtered its animals with no care for the morrow. Now they realised that this brutal insouciance could not continue. Aristocrats were forced to curtail their hunting, which had been their chief pleasure - almost their raison d'être - and an extensive ritual reform regulated every detail of their behaviour. Gradually this religious discipline transformed their mentality, so that a spirit of moderation and self-control replaced the former wasteful excess."

She's trying to make the case for a spiritually-inspired renaissance in sustainable living, with greater connection to the world we live in. Religious environmentalism? It's a tentative start, but worth a quick muse for those with the imagination to make something of it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

"It's kind of like a crazy contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon"

So the one I'd settled on did win The Mercury, in the end. Hurray for Anthony And The Johnsons. Beautiful, singularly haunting,music.

And while we're here, let's bash off the PL Alternative Prize. After much deliberation, I finally settled on Soulwax. They're witty in so many ways, even if a bit on the smug self-regarding side. The obligatory perspex trophy thingy is winging its way themwards...unless any persons here present have due cause to object...

power and sanitisation

figure 47.7. safety Christ

Another one of those little books I happily stumble upon in the library, Jesus: Authors Take Sides, compiled by Richard Ingrams, is proving to be a fantastic read. It's a compilation of many different extracts by various writers, with their many takes on Jesus. A standout so far is taken from "Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood", where Holman Hunt records what happens when he invites Thomas Carlyle into his studio to look at "Light of the world". Part of why I so enjoyed the rant is cos I find most Pre-Raphaelite art so much saccharine dross. Here's an excerpt, from the reaction, where Carlyle's getting into his stride:

“He walked about, as he was trying with his ever invincible soul to break down the obtuse stupidity of the cormorant-minded, bloated gang, who were doing, in desperate contention, their utmost to make the world go devilward with themselves. Search has been made honestly, and imposture striven to satisfy the desire to procure some portraits of him, but not the faintest shadow exists that can be accepted, nor any nor any legendic attempt to represent him can be credited, notwithstanding your fables of King Abgarus of Eddressa or of St Luke or of St Veronica’s napkin, Yet there were artists enough to spare, and the sculptor’s work has come down to us, filling all the museums of Europe. They adored their stone images of obsolete gods, and looked to the augurs of these as ruling their destinies, while the living mouthpiece of God, the giver of true wisdom, was amongst them,. It was a shadow-land in which they searched for their gods, and so made images of Jupiter, of Apollo, of Hercules, of all the deities and deeses who put no bridle upon the will of their voltaires, but left them to play into the hands of all the devils in hell, from whose reign indeed they were not separated, unless forsooth we have to take them for creatures of purposeless fancy. Male and female, they were the rulers of a heaven that all the intelligent men among them had long ceased to believe in, in spite of the statue of the “son of man”, as he called Himself, and shown us what manner of man He was, what his height and what His build, and what the features if His sorrow-marked face were, and what his dress, I for one would have thanked him who did it with all the gratitude of my heart for that portrait, as the most precious heirloom of the ages. Now I tell you, young man, you are doing exactly what the sculptors of Roman time did, and y’ll ne’er make your talent a benefit to your fellowmen of to-day and do to them that come afterwards if you go on working worn-out fables. I have seen the pictures, all of them by the great painters who have set themselves to portray Jesus, and what could be more wide o’ the mark? There’s that picture of “Christ Disputing with the Doctors” in our National Gallery by Leonardo da Vinci, and it makes him a puir, weak, girl-faced nonentity, bedecked in a fine silken sort of gown, with gems and precious stones bordering the whole, just as though He had been the darling of the court, with hands and fingers that have never done any work, and could do none whatever, a creature indeed altogether incapable of convincing any novice advanced enough to solve the simplest problem in logic. There are other notable presentations of conceptions of Christ in paint and marble familiar to us in prints, and they are all alike”. Here vin shrill voice and high, he continued, “And when I look, I say, “Thankyou Mr da Vinci”, “Thankyou Mr Michael Angelo”, “Thankyou Mr Raffaelle”, that may be your idea of Jesus Christ, but I’ve another of my own which I very much prefer.” I see the man toiling along in the hot sun, at times in the cold wind, going long stages, tired, hungry often, and footsore, drinking at the spring, eating by the way, His rough and parched clothes bedraggled and covered with duct, imparting blessings to others which no human power, be it king’s or emperor’s or priest’s, was strong enough to give to Him, a missioner of Heaven sent with brave tongue to utter doom on the babbling world and its godless nonsense, and to fashion out another teaching to supplant it, doing battle with that valiant voice of His, only against the proud and perverse, and charming, the simple with his love and lovableness, but ever disencharming such as would suppose that the kingdom of heaven that He preached would bring to Him or to his adherents earthly glory or riches; offering them rather ignominy and death. Surrounded by His little band of almost unteachable poor friends, I see him dispirited, dejected, and at times broken down in hope by their immovability and spleen of fools, who, being rich with armed slaves, determined to make the heavens bend to them. I see him unflinching in faith and spirit crying out, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. This was a man worth seeing, if likeness could be found.”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

touched by his noodly appendage

figure 78.9. lo and behold

After Chris's irreverent stab at the whole creationist diatribe recently, I thought this discovery might prove a helpful contribution to the debate. Yes, it seems there's a saucy new belief that's lining up to be taught as one of the "non-evolutionary theories", so extolled by creationists. Namely pastafarianism - the conviction that the world was created by a giant noodle monster. The 'prophet' concerned may have a good point, about the fallacies of implied causation, but I'm still quite taken with the idea. Now, where'd I put my fusilli...?