Friday 29 May 2020

Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798 <=> 2020)

An excellent set of modern readings HERE of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge.  There are 40 readings in all, each a pairing of a reader and a visual artist. 

Reading number 9 by Iggy Pop is great, but the half-sung reading number 10 by Beth Gibbons (of Portishead) is even more wonderful: 

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,

When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist;
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could nor laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. (1961)

Monday 25 May 2020

How to Draw the Coronavirus (2020)

An excellent piece in The Paris Review on the multiple attempts by scientific illustrators to visualise the virus which causes COVID-19. HERE.

In an attempt to locate Falconieri Hays’s influences, I searched for Goodsell’s illustration, expecting to find an anatomized rendering of the virion. What I found instead was an intoxicatingly beautiful, quasi-psychedelic painting: something you would be as likely to see through a microscope as through hallucinogens. Goodsell—who has produced similarly stunning images of Ebola, zika, and HIV, among other things—visits, like many illustrators, a protein-visualization site called Protein Data Bank for structural reference and PubMed for research on viruses before he draws them. He then sketches the virion—the large picture first, small details last—and paints the sketch with watercolors. “I find that the cartoony, flat-color approach that I use makes it easier to comprehend the whole scene,” he wrote in an article for the Journal of Biocommunication.


Courtney Love in Liverpool (1982)

I have never cared for Kurt Cobain, Nirvana,  or Courtney Love. But this short extract from Dave Haslam’s book Searching for Love: Courtney Love in Liverpool, is excellent. The reality of life in the un-glamorous period of Liverpool music history that was defined by Erics, the Teardrop Explodes, and above all Echo and the Bunnymen ('the best British band ever') is captured wonderfully. In hindsight, it is as exciting to read about as it was to have seen some of these bands growing and evolving at the time.

Here is how Love left Liverpool.
On 21 July 1982, she caught the National Express bus to Heathrow, stopping off for egg and chips in the Midlands. At the airport, she wrote in her diary: “I can play music and understand technology. I can stay in and resist the temptation to make the first move, or stay too long or worse get intense. I can make tea now. I can remain enigmatic, pose well and appear feminine.” She thinks about all the people she met and concludes: “There’s one asset everyone has until they’ve spent it. Their mystique.”

Saturday 23 May 2020

Reflections on Chance and Creativity (1996)

In a long essay on chance and creativity, Lewis Hyde writes about the Greek idea of hermaion, an accidental find, which is named after the God Hermes.  Hyde finds accidental doesn’t quite catch it, he prefers ‘uncanny find’.  And this type of uncanny find is really about finding, not searching (or buying or even stealing). Hyde concludes that:
Whoever the gods of fortune are, they will drop things in your path, but if you search for those things you will not find them. Wandering is the trick, and giving up on “loss” or “gain,” and then agility of mind.

Hyde, L. (1996). 'Two Accidents Reflections on Chance and Creativity'. The Kenyon Review, New Series, Vol. 18, No. 3/4, pp.19-35

hap (1200 - )

Friday 22 May 2020

The Frightnrs (2016)

The Frightnrs were as wonderful a rocksteady group as the US has ever created. Their one and only album was released on Daptone in 2016. And that was it - HERE is the sad story why. 

The Scandal of Poor Medical Research (1994)

Thursday 7 May 2020

How Long Will a Vaccine Really Take? (2020)

I have read a lot recently about 'fast-tracked' vaccine development. It seems to me that this is mostly wishful but uninformed thinking. HERE is an excellent and thought provoking opinion piece in the New York Times that disects the hyped '18 month' timescale claim by comparing it to normal timescales.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Tree planting on streets and highways (1903)

From Tree Planting on Streets & Highways (1903). HERE.

Dialogues with Leucò (1965)

A true revelation, I am convinced, can only emerge from stubborn concentration on a single problem. I have nothing in common with experimentalists, adventurers, with those who travel in strange regions. The surest, and the quickest, way for us to arouse the sense of wonder is to stare, unafraid, at a single object. Suddenly—miraculously—it will look like something we have never seen before.

Dialogues with Leucò (1965) by Cesare Pavese (1908–1950)