New Year

April 29, 2020

New Year, don’t come to our homes, for we are wanderers
from a ghost-world, denied by man.
Night flees from us, fate has deserted us
We live as wandering spirits
with no memory
no dreams, no longings, no hopes.

The horizons of our eyes have grown ashen
the gray of a still lake,
like our silent brows,
pulseless, heatless,
denuded of poetry.
We live not knowing life.

New Year, move on. There is the path
to lead your footsteps.
Ours are veins of hard reed,
and we know not of sadness.
We wish to be dead, and refused by the graves.
We wish to write history by the years
If only we knew what it is to be bound to a place
If only snow could bring us winter
to wrap our faces in darkness
If only memory, or hope, or regret
could one day block our country from its path
If only we feared madness
If only our lives could be disturbed by travel
or shock,
or the sadness of an impossible love.
If only we could die like other people.

Nazik al-Mala’ika
Trans. Rebecca Carol Johnson

RIDE A WHITE SWAN

April 29, 2020

Ride it on out like a bird in the skyway,
Ride it on out like you were a bird,
Fly it all out like an eagle in a sunbeam,
Ride it all out like you were a bird.

Wear a tall hat like the druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a Tattooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane,
Wear your hair long, babe, you can’t go wrong.

Catch a bright star and place it on your forehead,
Say a few spells and baby, there you go,
Take a black cat and sit it on your shoulder,
And in the morning you’ll know all you know.

Wear a tall hat like the druid in the old days
Wear a tall hat and a Tattooed gown
Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane,
Wear your hair long, babe, you can’t go wrong.

Da di di da, da di di da”

Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan Lyric Book

The world of J.R.R. Tolkien is a world without sexuality in it. I can’t help comparing it with Wagner’s “Ring,” a much greater work in every conceivable way, which is actually throbbing with sexual understanding and sexual passion and so on.

There’s none of that in “The Lord of the Rings.” It’s as if they had their children by a courier or something: please send a boy child by Federal Express to Mrs. Blah blah blah. And once you’re aware that that’s missing, you can then see the other gaps in it. He doesn’t do any sort of speculative thinking about what’s good and what’s evil. The only interesting character in that way is Gollum, but it’s not interesting enough. It’s nowhere near as interesting as the books of realistic fiction that I was reading. You read “Middlemarch,” that’s a real story about real human beings. It’s about the kind of things that you know when you’re young and you discover when you’re growing up and you’ll learn when you’re old. But, orcs and hobbits, they don’t tell you anything at all. It’s very, very thin stuff. No nourishment in it.

So to find myself writing a fantasy was a bit of a surprise. But I thought of it as realism. I wanted to make the characters as real as I could make them. Mrs. Coulter, for example, is not just a one-dimensional figure of wickedness—she’s not the witch queen, of whatever it is, like Narnia. She finds herself, over the course of the story, being invaded by something she has never suspected she was capable of, and that’s her love for her daughter. She never dreamed she could feel that, and it’s taken over her life. That’s the great change in Mrs. Coulter that I was so looking forward to seeing Nicole Kidman embody in the sequels, if there were any sequels to the “Golden Compass” movie, but that never happened.

Philip Pullman
Interview in The New Yorker, 29th September 2019

livewire voodoo

April 29, 2020

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he’d still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void… The Sprawl was a long, strange way home now over the Pacific, and he was no Console Man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, hands clawed into the bedslab, temper foam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.

William Gibson
Neuromancer

Gentle reminder

April 29, 2020

When I worked for John Spencer & Co Publishers, the directors, Mr Assael and Mr Nahum, would send Patricia and me a rough sketch of a cover and ask for a list of titles and blurbs to go with it. We would send back a dozen titles like Forbidden Planet, Into the Unknown, Parallel Universe, and a dozen blurbs. The reply would be, ‘We would like title number three and blurb number seven by Friday.

Now we would get this on a Monday, so we had to write fifty-thousand words in four days. That’s why we got the tape recorder, which is now part of the Cardiff Metropolitan University archive. I would get into bed with this tape recorder and fold the blankets over my head, so I was in a small black cocoon. I could then view the action unfolding in my imagination as if I was watching it on a cinema screen and dictate as the story developed.

My very hard working and long-suffering lovely wife, with whom I have just celebrated a sixty-first wedding anniversary, would do the typing herself or take it to one of our team of typists. We are sometimes, justifiably I feel, accused of having rushed endings, and I will explain why. We had to write fifty-thousand words to fill two-hundred pages. If I was feeling energetic, I would dictate four-hundred words per minute. When I was tired that would drop to thirty words per minute. Until the tape had gone around our team of typists, I couldn’t know how many words we had left. Sometimes I would plan for a great space battle, only to find I only had five pages left to finish the story. I would suddenly have to give an astronaut or a fleet of spaceships an incredibly powerful weapon to end the battle quickly. Hence the rushed ending. It was a little strange after you had read through a hundred and ninety-five pages of detailed writing.

Lionel Fanthorpe
TALKING TO LIONEL FANTHORPE
WALES ARTS REVIEW 24th April 2020

gobble poison

April 29, 2020

Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.

C S Lewis
Equality
The Spectator 27th August 1943

depths of my mind

April 29, 2020

All my life, I’ve felt like I belong somewhere that only exits in the depths of my mind. A place that is impossible for others to discover.

Megan Grant
Solitude & the Sea