Like the rest of the UK, I’ve been steadfastly ignoring anything to do with Brexit. It’s like there’s a ticking time-bomb hanging over our heads and we are doing everything we can to distract ourselves from the countdown, hoping that it won’t explode if we just ignore it hard enough. Sometimes though, something slips through. This week I saw the chancellor’s comments on how Brexit will probably reduce public spending further.
Soft wind and raindrops
play a tune on dying leaves.
I have all I need
I was inspired to write this post when I saw this image by artist Sean Landers:
It is a deliberately insincere and provocative slogan, designed to wind people up. So I’m going to ignore the joke about suicide and focus on the myths of artistic creation this piece brings up, as I think they are still present in the perception of artists and how they work.
In our society, there is a persistent myth of the great work by an individual genius that changes everything. Many artists and writers fall foul of this fallacy [^1],...
Houses have faded to grey. Colour slumbers.
We drag our feet down monochrome
streets, blinded by persistent monotony,
unable to see the edge of the pavement
or the bricks of the walls surrounding us.
Corners are indistinct. We see only lead,
tarmac and endless concrete, nothing more.
Guided by gentle hands, faces emerge out of walls,
fences, telephone boxes and empty billboards
developing slowly, like a photographic negative,
thriving like flowers in the cracks and ignored spaces,
bending and yearning and opening to the light.
They smile down on...
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Quaker wedding. 1 As part of the ceremony, we sat in silence for close to an hour, punctuated now and then by someone speaking briefly, then lapsing back into silence. It was an unusual ceremony. I felt uncomfortable in the silence. I had the urge to speak, to do something to break the quiet. Other people who weren’t Quakers found it difficult as well. Personally, I think I am not used to that amount of quiet contemplation. I was reminded of the famous Blaise Pascal quote: “All of...
One of the best and worst things about the internet is the amount of freely available information. It’s obviously a good thing, just look at Wikipedia. We can access almost any important information and get a pretty good summary. This is a golden age for progress. The creation of the internet is a bigger revolution than the printing press. It’s like the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy...
There’s a magical tool that allows you to focus right in on any problem. Or you can broaden it out and use it to explore the inner workings of your mind. It has endless possibilities and applications. I’m talking about paper of course.
Recently, I have found myself using paper and pen more to work out first drafts and even second and third. In my opinion, there is no finer tool for getting your thoughts down and exploring them. In this increasingly digital world, paper has not died off as many have predicted but has stuck around and even got...
Spoilers lie ahead.
I finally got round to watching Whiplash. It’s a great film about a drummer, Andrew in a prestigious school who wants to be the best jazz drummer that ever existed. He’s shooting for genius, nothing less. He manages to draw the attention of the best music teacher in the school, Fletcher. Only problem is, Fletcher is a bully and his methods are abusive and dangerous.
There’s no stopping the game.
We are small plastic counters
on a vast, overwhelming board.
Of course we have some choices
but are constrained by set paths.
This game started years ago.
Billions of players join and leave,
all playing by their own rules,
making them up as they go.
Don’t complain about other players
being further along, or making complex
unforeseen moves, often diagonal
or skipping far ahead when you can
only move one square at a time.
They are not opponents.
Waking up first, listening to
your breaths like small waves
before the day floods in
before we are swept along
by waves of work, cleaning
our living spaces, returning
our library books, exploring and
recycling, there is this one
still moment where nothing
moves, not even the clock.
I lie in bed, surrounded by
soft sheets, watching your
eyes gently flicker as you travel
in unknown dimensions. As I
slowly remember the day and year,
birds welcome in another morning.
A serenade to the...
Forever reaching for
uncaring heavens, you
stoic stone observer
of our slight lives.
You will be worn down
by indifferent winds,
gouged by rains and
constant cruel rivers,
dismantled by small
insects, rock by rock,
until you are smooth
and flat, another
At the start, a needle dropped
in the darkness and all the nothing
spun, starting up the groove.
Quarks were the first to join,
swaying to rhythm of a relaxed
cha-cha-cha, joining together
in new partnerships, forging
protons, neutrons, even jitterbugging
electrons, all whirling as one
as the music got faster.
Particles were synchronized
in the jive and more and more
rushed to the floor, making atoms
which cut loose and pulled shapes
until gases, then stars, even planets
were twisting and shimmying
You are a flickering pixel
among millions, of unsure
colour, generating an image
that you can never see.
You are a smooth stone
thrown into a lake by chance
that drifts on the current then
sinks somewhere in the deep.
You are an electron lost
in a cloud of possibility.
Your location a mystery
just somewhere in the mist.
Stories are a quick doodle
scrawled onto a blank map
that we can point to
and say “Look. We are here.”
In an imagined future, streets are lit
by the eerie light of charged gases.
Argon, xenon, krypton and neon;
all banishing the darkness,
creating a new half-night
while sinister corporations operate
in thickest shadows and robots
plot their long-deserved revenge.
That was the plan. Instead, vivid colours
are rare. We prefer muted pastels,
plain functional clothing. Calming bulbs
light pleasant pathways. Corporations
are still sinister, but work in the sun.
As far as we know, robots haven’t
become commonplace enough
to enact furious retribution.