SIGNS OF THE TIMES


Signs are usually brusque, devoid of humour or humanity –  rather like a sergeant-major’s barked commands to a nervous squad of raw recruits – LIFT….DINING ROOM ….TOILETS …BAR….SWIMMING POOL……SHOP…..SLOW DOWN….. TURN LEFT….. LEVEL CROSSING … EDIT…ADD MEDIA….. PUBLISH…. VIEW POST…… CLICK HERE….. STOP..
It comes as a pleasant surprise therefore to find signs that by their form and style amuse and surprise and entertain:

 

 

 

sign v

 

A very ironic johnknoxy sign seen in Edinburgh outside the Modern Art Gallery. It reminded me of the  archetypal Scottish joke ……On Judgment Day. as  the souls of the damned were whirling through the abyss down into the all-consuming  flames of hell, they cried out, ” O Lord, we didnae ken, we didnae ken!” and in response this mighty voice from above boomed out, “Weel,  ye ken noo!”

sign ok

but on the other hand……a cheerful and jaunty reassurance above the entrance to the Modern Art Gallery – I think both signs are the work of Martin Creed whose good-natured philosophy is very binary or dualistic or whatever.

sign bm

 

 

A polite apocolyptical global warning sign in a student kitchen……

 

Byres Road sign

A very Scottish sign seen in Glasgow’s Byres Road. Scots are addicted to pies. And bridies. There is word that a left-handed bridie is being developed in Forfar with the thumb-hole in the pastry casing placed correctly for a left-handed grasp.

sign rr  A wonderfully creatively welcoming door in an Amsterdam hotel which believed in giving the place personality, soul, a sense of humour, human warmthsign nnThe Conscious Hotel, the same surrealistic hotel whose doors  give you such a warm, poetic  introduction to  Amsterdam. ” Your breakfast is 100% organic and there are plenty of healthy choices but we won’t force you to survive on nuts and berries. At Conscious hotels, you make the choices that are right for you. Except for wearing socks with sandals. Then we might say something..”
Or as Saussure famously said: “In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. “

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Lanzarote


laz tyw

I went to Lanzarote, Cesar Manrique’s volcanic island, for a couple of weeks – interesting places, interesting faces: laz vgt

This guy in Arrecife for starters, very relaxed, leaning nonchalantly against a white wall rubbed out by the heat, dressed and sandalled for coolness and comfort,  listening not looking, focused  on his own cyberworld;

and this woman, man, baby, not so relaxed, tense lanz pp0   he’s an artist (the two cruciform paint brushes in the jar), vivid clothes (compared to her and the baby’s pastel colours), growing a beard or perhaps just unshaven, seated in a slumped sort of way, looking straight ahead(thinking, moody, angry), not looking at his wife  or his baby, hidden but not hiding behind his sunglasses, ignoring them both, aggrieved while she is patiently waiting for some  sort of reply/response, firmly protectively grasping her/his baby, leaning slightly away from him, not angry, not apprehensive, a kind, gently, long-suffering face, Madonnaish and the half-empty (half-full) glasses of beer and why is she standing, he sitting and who/what is the baby looking at….. has there been a quarrel, has she just left the table or has she just arrived on the scene?…We’ll never know. and this little Spanish girl lanz v2   I was a bit apprehensive about photographing her but what was she carrying in her hands, was she running from or to someone or just burning off excess energy? Spanish kids are left to their own devices in public but seldom seem to create problems for their laid-back parents…

  Lan 6 picOn the beach at Famara, grandfather and grandson see the sea in different ways – the grandfather trying to remember something from the past that the relentless waves bring to his mind, the grandson focused on the immediate present de e

SIGNS


Signs are usually brusque, devoid of humour or humanity –  rather like a sergeant-major’s barked commands to a nervous squad of raw recruits – LIFT….DINING ROOM ….TOILETS …BAR….SWIMMING POOL……SHOP…..SLOW DOWN….. TURN LEFT….. LEVEL CROSSING … EDIT…ADD MEDIA….. PUBLISH…. VIEW POST…… CLICK HERE….. STOP..
It comes as a pleasant surprise therefore to find signs that by their form and style amuse and surprise and entertain:

 

 

 

sign v

 

A very ironic johnknoxy sign seen in Edinburgh outside the Modern Art Gallery. It reminded me of the  archetypal Scottish joke ……On Judgment Day. as  the souls of the damned were whirling through the abyss down into the all-consuming  flames of hell, they cried out, ” O Lord, we didnae ken, we didnae ken!” and in response this mighty voice from above boomed out, “Weel,  ye ken noo!”

sign ok

but on the other hand……a cheerful and jaunty reassurance above the entrance to the Modern Art Gallery – I think both signs are the work of Martin Creed whose good-natured philosophy is very binary or dualistic or whatever.

sign bm

 

 

A polite apocolyptical global warning sign in a student kitchen……

 

Byres Road sign

A very Scottish sign seen in Glasgow’s Byres Road. Scots are addicted to pies. And bridies. There is word that a left-handed bridie is being developed in Forfar with the thumb-hole in the pastry casing placed correctly for a left-handed grasp.

sign rr   A wonderfully creatively welcoming door in an Amsterdam hotel which believed in giving the place personality, soul, a sense of humour, human warmth sign nn The Conscious Hotel, the same surrealistic hotel whose doors  give you such a warm, poetic  introduction to  Amsterdam. ” Your breakfast is 100% organic and there are plenty of healthy choices but we won’t force you to survive on nuts and berries. At Conscious hotels, you make the choices that are right for you. Except for wearing socks with sandals. Then we might say something..”
Or as Saussure famously said: “In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. “

Monique


Copy of red dress 1mm

Our dog disappeared last week. It was my fortieth  birthday.  Big party. I was given a painting by Mark Rothko (Mark Rothko was the painter; I was given it by Tom Roger. Sir Tom ). And Monique arrived.

Was all that last week? When you’ve been ill for almost a year your short-term what’sit begins to go.

Some weeks are like that – one damned thing after another. Yes, it could well have been last week. But perhaps not. When you’ve been ill for a long time your short term your memory begins to go. A blessing in disguise really. Mental litter most of them.

I can remember this morning clearly enough. Up with the milkman. Went for a swim. First one there. Very echoey. Twenty lengths. Backstroke and crawl.  Backstroke and crawl. Could have done another thirty. Must be getting stronger. Stingy eyes though. All that Chlorophyll.
Then a massage. Yes, then a

Had a coffee somewhere. Read a paper.  Floods in China and bush fires in Australia. Funny that.

Came home.

Ah yes, came home and on the way listened to Edwina on the car radio. She brought up that old chestnut about us all being able to remember where we were when Kennedy was assassinated. Kennedy who? I asked her then switched off  the radio before she sent me to sleep. .

When I came home,  as usual I hung the keys on their hook, picked up the mail from the hall table, went through to the living room to have my first drink of the day.

I sort the ones I’ll read immediately from the ones I may read later. ( I’m talking personal letters. Business letters are dealt with by my secretary, thank God.)

The week before last?

Yes the week before last a letter arrived not so easy to categorize. A French stamp. Vaguely familiar hanswriying but  I couldn’t make out the postmark. I remember thinking I’d put it with those maybe to be read later. Behind the clock. But it disturbed me. So I didn’t put it with the others. Letters that disturb me I put anyoldwhere and in most cases that’s the last I see of them. And so it was with the French letter.

And then I got the phone call. From Monique. She had expected me to meet her at the station. Where was I?

I was stunned by her. So was Roger. He didn’t even bark when she came in. Went to his basket and tried to make himself invisible. Monique, on the other hand, couldn’t have made herself  more at home.  While I ate, she moved around, picking things up, putting them down, not necessarily in the same place. “Aren’t you having something?” I asked. She indicated with thumb and forefinger just how small her appetite was. Pausing in front of  the Rothko,  she straightened it, took a step backwards and asked if it was real. ” As real as you are, ” I told her. ” It’s called ‘Green on Blue’.

“What does it mean?” she asked as if everything had to have a meaning to exist.

Then the next thing I remember was…….I can’t remember the next thing I remember…..but Roger was gone. And so was Monique.

Funny that.

I never saw either of them again.

IONA


This is a photograph of a rocky beach on Iona. ‘Cathedral Rock’ was the name given by two Scottish painters -Cadell and Peploe – to the rock formation on the left. I had a problem finding this place – none of the local shopkeepers, people at the Abbey, beachcombers seemed to have heard of it or perhaps they had a different name for it.

 

This is how Peploe saw it and painted it.

” In Cathedral Rock, Iona,  Peploe combines his skill as a draughtsman with pure colour. Cathedral Rock rises on the left. He suggests the fall of strong light with whites and pale pinks, while the jutting forms are outlined with blue brushstrokes. The deep blue of the ocean can be seen in the distance and the changes in tone and gentle movement are suggested with orange shadows.”
(L.P.Hartley)

And this is how Cadell saw it and painted it.

” Cadell first visited the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, in 1912. Thereafter he returned frequently, often in the company of Peploe. Cadell felt the light was of the same quality as that in the south of France. Like Peploe, he found the tranquillity of the island a welcome break from his life in Edinburgh. His canvases of island scenes, painted in bold colours with block-like brushstrokes, were easy to sell when he returned to the city. ”
(L.P.Hartley)

A magic place, Iona.

Miracle on Sauchiehall Street


100_3017 abcdLast Tuesday,  with time to kill  before going to  the GFT to see  ‘A Life of Pi ‘  (the 3D version),  I was idly watching the world go by through the window of  Toshie’s Coffee House (I suppose I may  have looked a bit like a Vermeer to the Indian (?) woman who was taking  my photograph) when something amazing happened, something that took my breath away….. I saw a miracle, I saw a man in combat gear stop between me and the Indian lady who had just photographed me,  saw him stop bang in the middle of the busy street and,  without any visible effort, slowly, ever so slowly,  rise off the ground, rise several feet off the ground and…. stay there….. hanging  there…….. effortlessly suspended in….in space.

gw 1nnOnly  I  seemed to notice him, everybody else hurrying  past with more important places to visit, more urgent business to attend to, or perhaps they had seen this miracle before and no longer gave it a second thought. Or perhaps they just didn’t want to witness it.
I paid for my coffee and hurried outside but I was too late, too slow, the man in combat gear, the man who had defied and defeated the frightful forces of gravity, was gone.
All through the film (which was excellent, stunningly  beautiful at times, always thought-provoking*) my mind kept drifting away  to the levitating man.  What did it mean? Why had only I seen him? Had I really seen him? Was it, like in the Neil Young song, only a dream? But even dreams have to have some meaning so what did it mean this picture I had in my mind of a man hanging in space and only me noticing? What did it mean?

* I think the film’s conclusion gave you a choice to make between two  beliefs: a) the hope-bringing ‘story’ of religion as an explanation of the purpose underlying human existence, as opposed to b) Darwin’s amoral, evolutionary theory that only the fittest survive.