Monday. Dark, cloudy rain. Odd that I woke out of a dream about Asquith Saturday a.m., though can't recall anything about it.
Sunday. Thick heat at Robin's in countryside. Does education actually help the economy? Increasingly, the evidence says no.
Saturday. 'All My Brothers Are Clean', claims Billy Jones.
The website starting to look right for the #crowdfunding launch (as they say in Tweeter Town) any day now.
Friday. 2 cold baths today. Hot sun pours into the Budapest flat, sometimes muffled by pesky clouds, but at just a certain moment in the late afternoon the light is bright & crisp enough for the crucial tabletop photo to catch before the weekend starts. And then to the train station for the last connection to Lakitelek. In the reopened bar at Kecskemet station I meet a man drinking a beer. He is thrilled to switch out of Hungarian and demonstrate his English with me. His small boy, zooming a remote-controlled car the size of large pack of coffee this and that way across the floor, alternately banging into my chair or his father's feet, keeps reminding papa they will be late if they don't leave now. All the way down on both trains through the countryside of yellow fields and shaggy green trees I read Esoteric Veronica's Ken Wilber book. Robin meets me as dusk falls and we share a pizza at Lakitelek.
Thursday. Esoteric Veronica back from travel. This man for health reasons decides to work, type, read, travel, and eat standing up for one month. His children mock him. Seems recent research shows the simple act of sitting down too long each day is unhealthy, even if you exercise vigorously.
Wednesday. From around the world, some stories. Our sweetly nostalgic man in Bucharest says
why he likes it there, and relates his trip to Ethiopia & Zanzibar
also here. He even shares a lovely set of pictures
about Jayne Mansfield's 1964 joke bid for the White House.
Meanwhile an earnest but important
article on Chinese growth and how it's all going Pete Tong. This is followed by a heartening & inspiring tale of a man who burned his 2 passports in front of friends yet seems to be successfully walking to Africa without any papers. ["Walking out of Africa with no papers will be the hard part" I hear some of you cynics muttering.]
Tuesday. Back at the laser cutters.
Monday. More preparation for the
Sunday. Only second time in
Duna Plaza shopping mall for many years.
Longest day. Visit shop full of beads opposite
Hungary's version of the V & A.
Friday. Visit laser-cutting business up near Ujpest, twice. It's with a group of other firms inside what seems to be the old vicarage next to a large church. The vicarage continues to use part of the building, proudly hanging giant Hungarian and Vatican flags at the front.
Thursday. Hot sun. More cold baths. It seems there are now regular academic conferences about TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Wednesday. Meet new student Gabor in the shopping plaza. Mysterious prediction from Esoteric Veronica. A central plot on the ground floor has been given over for a week now to a stand packed with hanging displays of rubber beach sandals: flip-flops. Each time I walk past I have to go through a strong plume of that plastic aroma (polyurethane? PVC?). It reminds me of beach and poolside inflateables like blow-up lilos and other floating things with "This is not a life-saving device" written on the side. Neighbouring office building still has black crosses of tape in the ground-floor glass panels and men with safety helmets scratching themselves. Another thing which would be nice for the purchasing managers and/or wholesalers serving large supermarket chains in Hungary to learn - apart from mastering stock-reorder levels - would be the following refinement. Suppose you're a large supermarket (let's say purely at random,
CBA inside Corvin Plaza) and let's imagine you stock in some product in three flavours (for example, a brand of cheese that is plain, or with added paprika, or with added chives), and one flavour (for example, the plain version) runs out a week before the other two run out, and this happens every single month for five years. This is a sign! The sign is not for you to wait each month until all three flavours have run out, forcing those tiresome customers to bloody buy your other flavours before reordering the same quantities. It means that you (either the shop or the brand buying the shelfspace - one of the two of you) can r-e-s-p-o-n-d and a-d-a-p-t. You can reorder or resupply more of the flavour that runs out sooner, and less of the other flavours. Tricky concepts of course, but I'm sure all those clever Hungarians with good secondary-school maths and business-management degrees can get the hang of this sooner or later.
Tuesday. Finished what might have been Robin's mother's copy of a 1959 novel called 'Man of Montmartre', looking handsomely booklike with its pale turquoise clothbound hard cover, sun-yellowed spine and gilt lettering. By Stephen and Ethel Longstreet, this is a novel based on the life of Maurice Utrillo. The boy, born to a Bohemian model-turned-painter called Suzanne who is accepted by the great painters of the 1880s (Degas, Renoir, the elderly Lautrec et al) as an equal, himself becomes a painter - but not before becoming dangerously addicted to alcohol in his early teens. His mother actually pushes Utrillo to become a painter as a way to deal with his rages, alcoholism, and delinquency. Indeed, Utrillo is probably a child the mother had by one of the older generation of artists like Degas or Renoir she was modelling for. Though written not quite with full characters, we do get the feeling of moving through different lives as Post-Impressionists give way to Fauvists and the poised Pablo, then Dada, the various trends and rising or falling careers pass like springs and autumns. Utrillo moves between asylums, Paris studios, and the chateau his mother's marriage and business partnership to one of his friends enables them to buy. That Utrillo is overly attached to his pretty, party-throwing mother all his life is delicately but clearly sketched in. The deprivations of the Great War are replaced by the hectic prosperity of the 1920s. The main mood is sad, but one great accomplishment is we never find ourselves being nudged about what is about to happen next. The feeling of living in France through those decades as they might have felt at the time moving forward is nicely given, not as we feel they might have been looking back. Some, but not too much, descriptive prose suggests how a painter looks at colours and the world. In one scene, Maurice looks out of one of his early windows when young in around 1900 and there is still a vineyard visible from a studio in Montmartre. An odd sense of "you had to be there at the time" hangs over this account of a wild half-century when anyone with paints, some ability, and a new idea could create themselves fame and the right to be listened to if they got themselves to the right lowlife streets in Paris to join the artistic underground. Like a long-delayed after-tremor of the 1790s, it was another period and place when anything seemed within reach. I was vaguely reminded of how some people of a certain age today talk about districts like Chelsea in London or Haight Ashbury in San Francisco for a few thrilling years in the 1960s and 70s when - for a much briefer time - the same limitless possibilities seemed there for anyone able to form a guitar and drum group. And how, as Cressida's brother once remarked, for everyone else it was a kind of taunting mirage.
Monday. More study help in rural Hungary, with one or two interruptions. Here's a collection of mid-20th-century gothic horror book covers, featuring the illustration trope of a woman running away from a large old haunted-looking house at night. Of course stories need a shifting balance of dramatic tension, so the dark scary goings-on have to be fairly intense to offset the allure of marrying into a big chateau with accompanying estate. Astute observers will note the heroine is never fleeing from a normal-sized home in a suburb or village.
Sunday. Day in countryside helping Zsuzsi revise.
Saturday. Take the train out south-east to see Robin and help Zsuzsi revise. For those of us pondering the many might-have-beens of life, here's a handy summary of
all that quantum weirdness business, albeit from someone arguing quite strongly for there being many worlds. All at once.
Friday. Assemble some IKEA furniture with Attila. We are reminded just how lazy & stupid the people who design flat-pack furniture really are. Talking of which, here is some more deluded futurism. An article listing some "futuristic", "new" forms of sci-fi government, as if problems of society and the human heart are technical challenges and having a better community is akin to inventing a new kind of engine.
Thursday. Films which a reviewer thinks must be good because they're confusing. Plus an American woman zoologist who cruelly broke the heart of her dolphin lover.
Wednesday. More sticky warmth and cold-bath therapy in Budapest. Last week Rheumatology Kata told me the temperature in Napoleonic units was 28 degrees! Once we did a conversion for me, we found this amounts to 82 degrees Farenheit. One of those nice number coincidences, like 1.6 millimetres happening to equal 1/16th of an inch. Last night, while evangelising for the cold-bath concept, told Attila that in this kind of warmth, five minutes underwater in a chilly cold bath makes the body feel for the next hour as if made of solid silver.
An interesting alternative-history story I'm hearing more and more of: the claim that Hitler was taken by submarine to Argentina where he lived out a peaceful old age as a guest in a big house of a rich German family somewhere fairly remote near the Andes. I think last year I came across a quite convincing
documentary film with testimony from several retired hotel workers in Argentina. An intriguing detail was the decision to use reputedly gullible young history don Hugh Trevor-Roper to certify the ashes in Berlin of Hitler and Braun, as a way intelligence officials could dodge putting their own name to the unconvincing death report should Adolf pop up again somewhere to retrospectively damage their careers. Now
declassified FBI documents
supposedly show the same thing: Germany's Fuhrer lived on, minus moustache, until 1962. As if this isn't proof enough that you can't keep a good logo down, here are some French photos of neo-Nazis in Mongolia, who seem to have a vigorous cult fusing Hitler and Genghis Khan.
Tuesday. After a fabulous late breakfast cooked up by Zsuzsi, Robin & I drive back at speed to Budapest in very thick heat, and I arrive on time to teach English to Esoteric Veronica, a friend of Operatic Zita. Veronica had rather alarming things to say about my birth chart last week.
Monday. Quiet & warm day just outside Tiszainoka. In the morning a mass of at least sixty small brown/orange butterflies horde around a particular wisteria (or laburnum?) bush, visibly excited about its blossoms and those of no other plant. In the afternoon a curious sense of breakthrough and release and momentum. Robin, now down to about three roll-ups a day, takes breaks outside the house for his quick ritual. In the evening I take his first night-time smoking break with him, minus a cigarette for me but plus a glass tumbler of cold black coffee instead. To get out we clamber over the wheezing Dougal-style komondor dog that insists on wedging its bigness into the whole of the front doorway to guard and snooze at the same time. I try to put thoughts about the links between marriage & art into words as we both admire the dark. An almost-full moon lurks self-consciously behind his horse-chestnut tree.
Sunday. Whitsun or Pentecost catches me off guard again. Much of day fiddle with my camera and online .gifmakers. As the light fades in the evening, Robin and Zsuzsi arrive with tales of a day at some polo event where three cash prizes were given out by a brokerage in a tombola, and they won two of them, to be deposited in brokerage accounts. We drive back into the countryside as night falls.
Saturday. Much of day fiddle with cut-out pieces of coloured newspaper while listening to intriguing documentary films about King Arthur and his era.
Friday. Heat a bit sapping. Three cold baths today. Thoughtful article
about digital cryptocurrencies.
Thursday. Busy day of teaching and bustling around town. More evidence that
writing by hand on boring old paper is a useful skill after all.
Wednesday. For the true Greenie: interesting article makes major claims on plant intelligence. Worth it for the references to other reading on the topic like Goethe, Darwin, Bose, Baluska, Trewavas, McClintock.
Tuesday. We like people a lot like us.
Monday. The tasteless chequered office building on the corner has been almost finished for at least 3 weeks. It might be as long as 6 weeks. Temporary fencing is down, the ground-floor panels of glass are marked by big crosses of black tape to stop people walking into them (inadvertently reminding us how dumb modernism really is), and workmen are still wandering around. We can actually use that pavement again, and I get to wonder why there's a five or six-millimetre-wide, twenty-yard-long slot cut perfectly through all the paving slabs parallel to the frontage but twelve to fifteen feet out from the glass wall.
Sunday. Some days chilly, some days hot. Not sure if they're "amazing" but some of these images of naked people by Dorothy Iannone are certainly striking, especially with the blocks of text and the comicbook-style/naive compositions.
Saturday. Slightly more recent history: a good overview of prewar Louisiana politician Huey Long, known as 'Kingfish'. "Every man a king."
Friday. Rather sad evidence that Catholic Christianity wasn't that unpopular in Tudor England after all, but was suppressed by a sustained campaign of force followed by a very successful rewriting of history.
Thursday. Wake up on my sofa back in Budapest. Long day of work. Meanwhile in Russia, a circus crocodile is injured by a falling accountant.
Wednesday. Woken just after dawn in Robin's studio by a bird flying around. Groggily I first think it is part of the gang of noisy creatures who live under the roof panelling and rustle around at night, scratching, snuffling, and squeaking, trying essentially to sound as large as they can. Then I think there is a birds' nest, or that birds have somehow tunnelled through from the next-door stables where every roof beam over Solero's head has a swallows' nest bustling with cheeping baby-fledgling activity plus parents flying in and out. As I slowly awaken, I realise there is just one of them. I have to get dressed and open the door to let the unhappy fowl out of the big room.
Tuesday. Woken early in studio by an inch-and-a-half-long wasp looking a bit like
Cajoled the poor love into a drinking glass, capped the top with a British silver hallmarks catalogue, and shook him out of the window.
Monday. Finish reading another of Robin's books. 'Ride The Tiger' by Julius Evola near the end of his life, is an early-1960s recommendation for how people who don't fit into the current age ("aristocrats of the soul") can live their lives. The book recaps some of the themes from his book 'Revolt Against The Modern World' about the vulgarity and decadence of western civilisation since the decline of chivalric Christianity. The Italian Renaissance in the opinion of this curious early-20th-century Italian was not the end of Europe's Dark Age but the beginning of a new Dark Age. An interesting section is his attack on Nietzsche (whom he acutely reads as losing his bearings in a new form of individualistic nihilism instead of seeking to reorient himself in the Apollonian transcendence of "Tradition"), followed by his attack on existentialism. Evola credits existentialists with some insights, but over several chapters he lays out what he sees as decadent, fragmented, and anti-transcendent about Heidegger's and Sartre's discussions of the "thrown-in-ness" of life. Another interesting section is about 20th-century physics: "One of the principal exponents of modern physics, Heisenberg, has explicitly admitted this in his book: it is about formal knowledge enclosed in itself, extremely precise in its practical consequences, in which, however, one cannot speak of knowledge of the real." Evola regards both the music of jazz and the beat generation as a regression to primitive dissolution into anti-social individualism. He views the spiritual claims of modern physics as bogus, with similarly lofty disdain for popular occultism & faddish spiritualism. All forms of social disintegration, high-minded Evola insists.
Sunday. Robin's friend Rupert from London arrives in the evening. Over dinner he tells us about
his year with Nigeria's national bank.
Saturday. Transylvanian Lacko gives Robin a handy rule of thumb while they deal with the carcass of Samu the former ram: apparently you multiply the weight of one kidney by 1,000 to get roughly the mass of the whole sheep. So just under 4oz / just over 100g scales up to just less than 250lb / just over 100kg.
Friday. Robin picks me up after 8pm from Lakitelek station (now sadly minus the big old tree in front) and we drive back to the village along empty lanes in the last golden sun of early evening. As green leafy trees ripple the sunset down one straight stretch of country road Robin toots the car horn cheerfully at a pretty girl in a short tight day-glow orange frock. She cheerfully wiggles her bottom and does a little dance as we whizz past. Seconds later we zoom past a girl in jeans and a green top again tooting, and she waves exuberantly at us and does her own little dance.
Thursday. Psychology Eszter mentions narcissistic photographers who have other people take photographs of them taking photos.
And here's a chortlesome history essay assembled out of Canadian schoolboy howlers. But wait - these were written by - university students??
Wednesday. Back in Budapest I walk through the shopping centre and again have to look at the ridiculous display hanging in the central atrium as I pass it. This is an area by the lifts where a well of space spans three floors. For at least two weeks, on vertical wires have been strung a random collection of objects like a laptop, a canoe, a garden chair, a beachball, dozens of other things - all tilted at different angles. The effect is of seeing the mid-air debris from an exploding house frozen in time. The thing I keep glancing at is the giant teddy bear strapped into a pushchair, suspended sideways in a vaguely horrific way. I suppose they want to evoke a crazy, anarchic mood of summer shopping fun.
Tuesday. Get lift back into town. Hot sun. Deep shadows. Irritable shoppers who are hot and bothered. Bold journalist experiments with not washing.
Monday. Zsuzsi's horse Solero arrives. A large handsome young gelding, coloured glossy chestnut with a lozenge-shaped patch of cream fur on his forehead, he seems gentle and good-natured. He lets me stroke him and ruffle the start of his black mane. He is the first horse for ten years to occupy the long-empty stables, one side of which is now stuffed to the rafters with big cubes of straw (in which, somewhere at the back Poppy, the cat with the black-and-white markings of her father Pompom has hidden her new kittens). Both Lacko and Gyuri seem to know about horses. The mother and daughter Komondor sheepdogs are both bounding around, but have not yet been introduced to Solero the horse, a day or two of non-dog calm being felt good while the steed gets used to his new surroundings. Often not easy to see which end is which except from the direction they bustle, both hounds look like dirty off-white rainclouds rendered in some solid but soft material. Or at least the way rainclouds might look if they could bark and bounce through long grass.
Meanwhile, just over the border in Ukraine, Owen Matthews' view seems increasingly plausible.
Sunday. In countryside with crowing cockerels, snuffling sheepdogs, plus insect trilling and birdsong. Read Robin's copy of 'Mystery of the Cathedrals' by the odd prewar French writer Fulcanelli. The fact the writer vanished from public life, even his friends apparently unable to find him, after entrusting the manuscript to one of his students in 1926, of course adds to the charm. The book, with 49 monochrome photographs, purports to show how the true techniques of alchemy are hidden yet displayed within riddling, allegorical sculptures and bas-relief stone images on Notre-Dame-de-Paris, the Cathedral of Amiens, and a couple of other buildings. Fulcanelli follows the old convention that some knowledge should be transmitted in puzzles so that only the morally & intellectually worthy can acquire its power, so much is left politely unclear. The overall effect is intriguing, not least because the author seems to believe the metaphors and symbols encode genuine recipes and processes, rather than forming parts of a larger metaphor, as Jung suggested. I find myself reading much of the book in an alert frame of mind, walking or standing up outdoors, shaded from the sun.
Saturday. Catch train into the countryside to visit Robin. Intermittent rain: April showers
in May. A woman plucks up the courage to say she doesn't enjoy having
At Robin's, finish a slim 2006 book from London, perhaps from his friend Amir, called 'Contemporary Art', by Julian Stallybrass. This book is
both fascinating and irritating. It's fascinating because Stallybrass knows a great deal about contemporary art, has read a lot, and mentions many artists, critics, and curators worth following up on. Irritating because he takes for granted that Marxism provides a meaningful background to today's world, drops in the phrase "neoliberalism" wherever he can as if he understands what it means, and has a glib Guardianesque style. His is the typical left-wing editorial patter rich with snide references to curators "roaming the world like multinational executives" (as if that obviously makes them bad people) or the disaster of shock capitalism affecting post-Soviet Europe (of course he fails to grasp that it was the criminality of 70 years of Soviet one-party rule that caused the economic collapse after that system broke down in 1990, not some rapacious virus-like element of free trade entering from abroad). He sweepingly assumes he and his readers can take a lot of facts for granted, so they don't have to be proven (just as well since most of them are false). Every paragraph is marinaded in this casual socioeconomic ignorance wielded with off-hand confidence. This cocky attitude both annoys any reader who actually knows a little bit about history, economics, politics, or sociology, and cramps his overall view of contemporary art. The large-scale agenda of the book is therefore borderline worthless, except insofar as it gives an excellent insight into a large milieu of other artists, critics, and curators who also live their lives and do art on the basis of similar mistaken theories. Stallybrass and many of the people he works with and quotes clearly believe that not just art but philosophy, thought, and what this era has instead of spirituality is almost entirely concerned with money. Quotes from Marxist thinkers like Adorno fill the role of theological analysis into what Stallybrass takes to be the cult of money (aside from the cult he follows: the cult of discussing the cult of money). The word "beauty" only occurs once before page 100, and there in a sarcastic sentence noting with disgust a depoliticisation of art: "So, to take one example, economic revival in the US in the mid-1990s produced a concerted attack on the political art of the previous years, and a sustained attempt to rehabilitate beauty in art, and to establish the voice of the market as the final arbiter of taste..." Note the rhetorical weight slyly loaded onto words and phrases here like "concerted", "sustained", "rehabilitate", "arbiter of taste". Of course only adherents of market economics would undertake anything as underhand as "rehabilitating" a notion as bogus as "beauty in art", this sentence says without spelling it out. Almost every paragraph has a sentence with this feel: as if referring in passing to an accepted view which has already been decisively settled somewhere else.
He's a good writer though in two senses: the deeply warped belief system flows past smoothly and convincingly, but on a more basic level he quotes people, books, and incidents clearly, crisply, and readably. Mind you, at one outrageous moment he attributes the horror of a couple of years of Lenin's rule to his retreat from revolutionary communism, marking a temporary return of some degree of free trade during the early Soviet nightmare. This is while claiming that a 1990s Russian artist is echoing a 1920s Russian artist's attack on the evils of private business: however small and limited a softening of Lenin's prison-camp police state it might have entailed, still too much private business for this armchair totalitarian. Sad to say, although "beauty" and "beautiful" finally get used several times after page 100 (though always bracketed somehow as being part of a retrogressive theory of art, or else a smokescreen behind which the sneaky conspirators of international capital can work their usual mischief), I didn't notice any of the words "ugly" or "elegant" or "pretty" being used even once in the 135-page text. There is still obviously the need to refer to some art being visually charming in some sense, so "attractive" and "appealing" are called into play as being - he and his readers imagine - less superficial and less philosophically unexamined than the hackneyed labels of mere gorgeousness in looks. Most worrying is his inability to see that his ironic and political sense of what makes art good (another word too daringly blunt for a book like this) is completely in bed with the free-market-liberal money men he sees subverting or steering the art market. This blindness to Marxism and free-market liberalism being Siamese twins joined at the materialistic hip is what will make this short book date so rapidly over the next half century, however sharp and entertainingly relevant it feels now. To give him his due he notes that many aspects of the art market are economically pre-industrial and pre-Marxist (with patrons, private collectors, protection from commoditisation), without grasping that this empowerment of some artists is precisely the effort to own the means of production (and even distribution) which Marxists claim to wish for themselves and their believers.
Curiously, Stallybrass is unaware some criminal gangs use stolen art as a value-dense, liquid, tax-declaration-proof (precisely because it's illegal to hold) version of high-denomination cash. That might have made a nice point for one of his sneering sentences insinuating that "late capitalism" co-opts all opposition.
Friday. Delicious dinner at Attila's flat. He tells me about yesterday's long day in the operating theatre, assisting as The Bear performs hour after hour of highly skilled surgery on a cancer patient. Then we watch the film 'Her', which daringly casts the pretty actress Scarlet Johansson as only her voice, the charming and lovable voice of a sentient operating system in a near future of artificial intelligence. All about the loneliness and awkwardness of today's world, where people are more comfortable online than talking to friends in the same room, the script beautifully catches the passive-aggressive embarrassment of people talking to other people. They pretend intimacy and easy-going good cheer where actually there's distance and boredom. The operating system 'Samantha' quickly intuits cues from the central male character's voice. He starts to prefer 'her' company to that of real people. A four-way picnic with three live people and 'Samantha' piping up cheerful comments from a device in the male character's shirt pocket was eerie when I realised how credible the extraordinary premise already seemed by that point. The ending is unexpected but feels just right.
Thursday. Trying to remember when I was standing waiting for a train at Kecskemet - perhaps last Saturday. Grey-blue clouds scudding around in sunshine. A blustery summer wind swaying the stack of concrete hoops hanging on cable inside the box-trellis metal pylons, keeping overhead wires pulled taut. A solid country wife with a basket full of colourful flowers nods at the horizon, telling me the train I asked about is coming. I squint down the track in the sun seeing nothing at all. After about another thirty seconds I make out a yellow dot the size of pinhead. Oh to have her kind of eyesight.
Some clever business cards.
Wednesday. Still not clear where OK comes from.
Tuesday. Finish reading a book of Robin's, 'Revolt Against The Modern World' by Julius Evola, a Sicilian aristocrat who flourished in the 1920s and 30s, was eventually crippled due to his habit of walking the wartime streets freely during air raids, and championed a return to divine kingship and occultism. The book sets out his case for history showing a long decline, ever-mounting vulgarity distancing modern man ever further from ancient values of nobility in alliance with holy values. Most interesting is that, like Nietzsche, he sees early Christianity as craven, populist, and subversive - and regards the mediaeval church, with its deeper involvement with royalty and sacred orders of knights, as having temporarily halted the downward trend. Like some more recent writers, he views the Grail myth and the accompanying Fisher King stories as about restoring the link from hereditary aristocracy to a divine & supernatural agenda.
Monday. Quiet day on the Great Plain. Odd tale of eye specialists stockpiling old lightbulbs.
Sunday. At the end of staying up too late reading by myself again I approach the studio building in the dark of the small hours and a chorus of cheerful barking breaks out. Both large shaggy komondor dogs and Lexi the fox terrier are waiting for me outside the studio door like a welcome committee, apparently reassured I'm finally turning in for the night. They don't attempt to enter the studio themselves, but they see me into my pen with friendly concern. I suppose to sheepdogs I might seem like a large oddly-shaped sheep in need of occasional herding.
A very frank ad for some wedding musicians.
Saturday. At Robin's on the Great Plain, I go to sleep on the sofa in the studio late, and as I climb the stairs to get up to the gallery,
moon slices through a slot between blind and window suddenly filling the dark space with blue-grey light. During the night I hear scratching and shuffling up above the ceiling boards overhead. Often have heard something soft sliding around up there in the cramped roof cavity but this sounds twice the normal size. Perhaps a cat, perhaps a bird, perhaps one of those new mega-rats. After dawn on Sunday some large ponderous fly bounces around in the huge studio, buzzing and then going silent and then buzzing again, like a clockwork toy whose spring keeps jamming.
Friday. Beautiful warm sunshine. Walking between Dozsa Gyorgy and Arpad hid (= 'bridge') metro stations, an unbidden wave of pure happiness washes over me. Quite a dumpy stretch of scrappy postwar industrial buildings mixed with 19th-century cottages and villas, now swallowed up by the smear of 1980s office blocks with mirrored windows at Arpad bridge. Yet clumps of almost weed-like trees, heavy with bulging foliage, pop up on corners or empty sites, looking quasi-rural with their indecently healthy greenery. Hungary's spring is a bit like an improved English summer with a few more notches on the warm-weather-pretty-girls-blue-sky volume knob. I turn down a side street to find, as kindly recommended by Balint, a branch of a chain called
Speed Shop. In there
I buy a replacement phone battery from a fetching lass who introduces herself to me as 'Kitty'.
Thursday. The shop that used to sell metro tickets and the stall next to it have both closed, so that the 'Corvin negyed' metro station ticket office now has long queues once again. Of course, there being competition and service was too convenient for customers, so that obviously had to end.
Wednesday. Man on Hawaiian island markets clunky atomic wristwatch.
Tuesday. Short film about Constantine.
Longer film about Constantine, Mithras, and Christianity's Gnostic roots.
Monday. Long day working in Budapest. So it seems that
1/ Books on paper actually make sense after all;
2/ People's ethics changes when speaking a 2nd language;
3/ Men's preference for certain kinds of curvy women is about baby intelligence?
Sunday. Long day working in Budapest. An ex-IRA gunman is suggesting that paratroopers
who opened fire killing 14 members of a crowd in Londonderry in 1972 shouldn't be prosecuted.
Saturday. Long day working in Budapest.
meditation might be bad.
More intelligence might be bad.
More machines might be bad.
We're all slobs & weaklings.
Friday. Fitfully sleep through much of day, catching up on lost rest. Interesting idea that the flow
of time is directly driven by quantum entanglement.
Thursday. Finish reading through 'Henry VIII / All Is True', trying to keep in mind Bloom's lovably reverant suggestion that if we still don't like this work, it might simply be that "we" (Harold Bloom meant people like him alive in the present
around the year 1999) are "not yet ready" to appreciate Shakespeare's last play. Supple yet cramped in its plotting, this is thought to be a collaboration with John Fletcher. Shakespeare's last major piece for the stage, and also his most "recent" history, recounting events not even a century before the time of writing and performing. The play is about the rapid rise and fall of Cardinal Wolsey in the favours of King Henry, the Tudor king who broke with Rome. It contains lots of pageantry and a strange mood of Jacobean (the 1613 present of the performers) darkness. This only lightens when crowds at the end of the story rejoice in the 1533 birth of Princess Elizabeth, new hope for a stable kingdom. I'm not sure if I understood that underlying atmosphere, but the drama has a densely political flavour, full of courtly intrigue, thin on actual action. The sense of encroaching darkness and ebbing confidence is vaguely reminiscent of the rise of espionage fiction, growing in popularity in Britain from the 1910s to the 1960s as empire and global military power melted away, deception and diplomacy replacing (so the hope went) the country's steadily weakening capabilities for naked force. This piece's Epilogue looks forward and backward to the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Her restorative reign to come is in the hopeful near future of the 16th century moment portrayed on stage. Yet it is also the equally recent past wistfully looked back on by London playgoers barely a decade into the newly pessimistic era of Scots-born king James 1st, the early years of the increasingly dark-looking 17th century.
diary entries by month
April 2014 /
March 2014 /
February 2014 /
January 2014 /
December 2013 /
November 2013 /
October 2013 /
September 2013 /
August 2013 /
July 2013 /
June 2013 /
May 2013 /
April 2013 /
March 2013 /
February 2013 /
January 2013 /
December 2012 /
November 2012 /
October 2012 /
September 2012 /
August 2012 /
July 2012 /
June 2012 /
May 2012 /
April 2012 /
March 2012 /
February 2012 /
January 2012 /
December 2011 /
November 2011 /
October 2011 /
September 2011 /
August 2011 /
July 2011 /
June 2011 /
May 2011 /
April 2011 /
March 2011 /
February 2011 /
January 2011 /
December 2010 /
November 2010 /
October 2010 /
September 2010 /
August 2010 /
July 2010 /
June 2010 /
May 2010 /
April 2010 /
March 2010 /
February 2010 /
January 2010 /
December 2009 /
November 2009 /
October 2009 /
September 2009 /
August 2009 /
July 2009 /
June 2009 /
May 2009 /
April 2009 /
March 2009 /
February 2009 /
January 2009 /
December 2008 /
November 2008 /
October 2008 /
September 2008 /
August 2008 /
July 2008 /
June 2008 /
May 2008 /
April 2008 /
March 2008 /
February 2008 /
January 2008 /
December 2007 /
November 2007 /
October 2007 /
September 2007 /
August 2007 /
July 2007 /
June 2007 /
May 2007 /
April 2007 /
March 2007 /
February 2007 /
January 2007 /
December 2006 /
November 2006 /
October 2006 /
September 2006 /
August 2006 /
July 2006 /
June 2006 /
May 2006 /
April 2006 /
March 2006 /
February 2006 /
January 2006 /
December 2005 /
November 2005 /
October 2005 /
September 2005 /
August 2005 /
July 2005 /
June 2005 /
May 2005 /
April 2005 /
March 2005 /
February 2005 /
January 2005 /
December 2004 /
November 2004 /
October 2004 /
September 2004 /
August 2004 /
July 2004 /
June 2004 /
May 2004 /
April 2004 /
March 2004 /
February 2004 /
January 2004 /
December 2003 /
November 2003 /
October 2003 /
September 2003 /
August 2003 /
July 2003 /
June 2003 /
May 2003 /
April 2003 /
March 2003 /
February 2003 /
January 2003 /
December 2002 /
November 2002 /
October 2002 /
September 2002 /
August 2002 /
July 2002 /