maybe, something there, whatever it was,
Sunday, 30 November 2008
maybe, something there, whatever it was,
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
There was a double rainbow on the morning of my birthday.
It was very uplifting. I wondered if it was a sign - or something.
The weather was classic rainbow weather, rain falling through sun, light flashing on the streaming tiles of the houses. The light and colour on the sea were magical. Then the light and the colours faded back to slate-grey, clouds covered the sun, the sea became white-flecked and choppy.
Browning said:'The best is yet to be.' I wonder about that.
Monday, 3 November 2008
I’ve just been re-reading this book, which I read for the first time last year. It still made a profound impression on me and I felt curious to find out more about Heinrich Herrer. As he didn't die until 2006, aged, I think, 93, there are obituaries and also plenty of biographical material about him on the Internet.
When I'd finished the book, I began to think more about Peter Aufschnaiter, who is something of a shadowy figure in Herrer's narrative. (He's shown in the accompanying photo, taken while he was serving in the War.) He was Herrer's co-escapee from Derha Dun prison and his companion over the years of their escape and travels through Tibet to reach Lhasa. Resorting to the Internet again (of course), I found quite a bit of material about him. He was a very different character, more solitary and completely immersed in his work and his passionate calling as an explorer and mountaineer. For much of the time that he and Herrer were in Tibet together, Aufschnaiter lived outside Lhasa, working on various engineering projects for the government.
In 1951, Herrer left Lhasa and went straight to Nepal, whereas Aufschnaiter continued to travel around Tibet, exploring and mapping previously unknown areas and climbing. During this time he lived with local people in all the areas he visited, including with some nomadic tribes, thereby gaining a unique insight into their lives and customs. He left Tibet the following year, due to the Communist take-over, but only returned to Europe after twenty years absence.
Herrer achieved fame and recognition because of the publication of Seven Years in Tibet, in 1953, whereas Aufschnaiter published only some papers and articles during his life-time. On his death in the 70s, his friend Martin Brauen, of the Ethnological Museum, University of Zurich, compiled, collated and edited the voluminous notes and journals, and, importantly, photographs, which Aufschnaiter kept during his travels. These were published in 2002, by a small Bangkok publishing house specialising in Asian titles, under the title Peter Aufschnaiter's Eight Years in Tibet and I was able to buy it on-line.
This book is NOT the travel classic which Herrer's book is. But it IS a unique and gripping picture of life and times in Lhasa and the rest of Tibet before the Chinese invasion. It also reveals Aufschnaiter as a dedicated and passionate explorer and climber, and a meticulous recorder of all his observations and map-makings. There's a lot of technical detail about the mountains and general terrain, which can become a bit tedious for the non-explorer/mountaineer, but it's also full of fascinating observation of the people and life-styles he encounters in his travels. It's illustrated throughout by Aufschnaiter's wonderful photographs. The style and editing are rather choppy but I enjoyed it nonetheless and felt it enhanced and enlarged upon my reading of the Herrer account.
Posted by Celia at 21:38
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Work in progress. David, the Man With The Pick-Axe, has cleared this south-facing border of nettles, brambles, rogue buddleias and much else. Jeanne and I have dug it out and, since this shot was taken, have spread around and dug in large quantities of donkey poo.
Sam has been ever-present, checking on progress but constantly interrupting labour by attempting to beguile us into chucking his ball around. Bren has been nothing but a pain: digging a hole in the lawn and chewing up his football so that it had to be taken away and hidden high up in the laburnum tree, which was good, as trying to climb up the tree kept him fully occupied for hours.
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
J.S.Ede’s book is based largely on Henri’s letters, mainly those to Sophie Brzeska but including some to family and friends, which Ede obtained from Sophie’s estate after her death in 1925. Henri and Sophie’s intense and complex relationship, begun when he was eighteen and she over twice his age, must surely rank as one of the most interesting and enigmatic in the annals of human relationships. Their symbiotic interdependence was so complete that he ‘annexed’ her name to his own and thereafter was known as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. In their relationship, ostensibly platonic, the roles of mother-and-child/brother-and sister/loving friends were played out endlessly, yet expressed, always, in the most passionately loving terms.
Henri’s letters detail his everyday concerns and activities, intimately interwoven with his work and artistic development. He and Sophie lived together and supported each other through periods of the direst poverty and deprivation. When they were apart, most often because of illness or, in Sophie’s case, the need to earn money, for example as a governess, they constantly exchanged letters although Sophie’s to Henri seem not to have survived.
Henri was killed in the trenches at the start of the First World War. Sophie never recovered from this loss and died in an asylum in 1925.
I haven’t seen Ken Russell’s 1972 film based on Ede’s book.
Wednesday, 26 March 2008
Saturday, 15 March 2008
Sometimes hills really ARE blue. These are not remembered, they're seen every day. You can even make a long journey to actually visit them. So, where does that leave memory and imagination? Well, if you travel to these distant hills, they don't look blue and there is nothing romantic about them. They are grey and rocky, covered in sheep and heather. But you can climb them, pant and sweat to the top-most cairn, stand and take in the panoramic view, echelons of hills and ranges stretching away endlessly to the west. Or turn to the east, and look back across the Firth to where you've come from, the blue and misty Lakeland fells standing sentinel on the horizon, mysterious and unattainable......
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Despite the recent storms and gales, I found primroses in bloom in Flimby woods today. That's early, for Cumbria. In my Cornish homeland, of course, they'll have been out in profusion for weeks now. These Northern plants are less prolific, more reticent, discreetly hiding beside the deepest, darkest paths, seen only by deer and rabbits - and by those who go searching for them. These sparse, hidden clumps are the modest evokers of all the springs I remember, primroses shining out from dark hollows, lining the edges of fields, carpeting the banks of streams. In the North, one learns to value such small living tokens of one's past.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
From "The Idea of North": an Introduction
‘When I went to the North, I had no intention of writing about or of referring to it even parenthetically in anything that I wrote. And yet, almost despite myself, I began to draw all sorts of metaphorical allusions based on what was really a very limited knowledge of the country and a very casual exposure to it. I found myself writing musical critiques, for instance, in which the - the idea of the North - began to serve as a foil for other ideas and values that seemed to me depressingly urban oriented and spiritually limited thereby.’
‘Admittedly, it's a question of attitude, and I'm not sure that my own quasiallegorical attitude towards the North is the proper way to make use of it or even an accurate way in which to define it. Nevertheless, I'm by no means alone in this reaction to the North; there are very few people who make contact with it and emerge entirely unscathed. Something really does happen to most people who go into the North - they become at least aware of the creative opportunity which the physical fact of the country represents and - quite often, I think - come to measure their own work and life against that rather staggering creative possibility:they become, in effect, philosophers. ‘
Posted by Celia at 11:57
Thursday, 3 January 2008
"There is no escape from yesterday because yesterday has deformed us, or been deformed by us. The word is of no importance. Deformation has taken place. Yesterday is not a milestone which has been passed, but a daystone on the beaten track of the years, and irremediably part of us, within us, heavy and dangerous. We are not merely more weary because of yesterday, we are other, no longer what we were before the calamity of yesterday." (P13)
"The aspirations of yesterday were valid for yesterday's ego, not for today's. We are disappointed at the nullity of what we were pleased to call attainment. But what is attainment? The identification of the subject with the object of his desire. The subject has died - and perhaps many times - on the way. (P13f)
"Voluntary memory (Proust repeats it ad nauseam) is of no value as an instrument of evocation, and provides an image as far removed from the real as the myth of our imagination or the caricature furnished by direct perception. There is only one real impression and one adequate mode of evocation. Over neither have we the least control." (P14)
"But involuntary memory is an unruly magician and will not be importuned. It chooses its own time and place for the performance of its miracle. I do not know how many times this miracle recurs in Proust. I think twelve or thirteen times. But the first - the famous episode of the madeleine steeped in tea - would justify the assertion that his entire book is a monument to involuntary memory and the epic of its action. The whole of Proust's world comes out of a teacup....."(P34)
On Page 54, quoting Proust: 'How can we have the courage to wish to live, how can we make a movement to preserve ourselves from death, in a world where love is provoked by a lie and consists solely in the need of having one's suffering appeased by whatever being has made us suffer.?' (Proust, of course, is at this point dwelling on his painful and labyrinthine relationship with Albertine.)