I painted this self portrait in 1966 when I was 20! At the time I liked Stanley Spencer’s self portrait with its full frontal stare! If you look closely at the right shoulder you should be able to see a fly. I added this in the year 2000 to try and suggest the transience of life- a kind of momento-mori!
This is my 100th blog.
As you can see, I’m still unearthing old paintings I still have. There may be more to post.
Red, orange and yellow hiding beneath the green
the necessary chlorophyll just a screen
to soothe our eyes in summer –
the colour of the leaves, so much chemical waste
nature’s patterns don’t really pander to our taste –
yet poets and artists see design everywhere –
on one oak tree 700,000 leaves fall without a song
a red (and orange) carpet for poets to walk along –
there is rhyme and rhythm in the fall of each leaf –
We share DNA with leaf and acorn –
three billion years ago the double helix was newborn –
now we are aweful testimony to its hidden code.
I’ve been reading Richard Dawkin’s book, The Greatest Show on Earth and this has influenced this poem. Dawkins lays out in detail how the theory of evolution is now considered as scientific fact along with such other facts as the heliocentricity of our solar system. As the title of one of his chapters has it, there is grandeur in this view of life! In my poem I’ve more than hinted at the dichotomous nature of human intelligence.
I’ve been trying to make a list of a kind of fiction which does not conform to ‘naturalistic narrative.’ What I’m thinking of isn’t merely what nowadays we call ‘magic realism’. To qualify for inclusion on the list the narrative has to either be dislocated in some way as in Vonnegut’s Galapagos or have ‘impossible’ events such as a talking cat as in Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. Science fiction, Horror and Fantasy do not qualify for inclusion in the list. My personal Top Twenty only include books I’ve actually read. I’d like to include Joyce’s Ulysses but I’m afraid I’ve never read it. Lord of the Flies, although a kind of allegory, wouldn’t count as it is a straightforward narrative taking place in ‘real time.’ Folklore and, for example, Greek Mythology doesn’t count either! The reason I thought this would be worth doing is that while I enjoy novels…
As it is National Poetry Day in the UK, on Thurs 8 Oct, I decided to commission myself. You can read the resulting poem below. Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth made great use of location cinematography at Bamburgh Castle and the Northumberland coast (UK) – only an hour’s drive from me! Critics seem divided about the film, either raving about it or denouncing it. I enjoyed it but am somewhere in the middle, neither thinking it was a great film or massively inferior. I don’t think this film is alone in not conveying the poetry of Shakespeare’s language. Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare’s bleakest play and Kurzel portrays the bloody violence and the dark tones, both visually and symbolically.
+ + + Silver Screen is a film club for the over sixties.
+ + + An afternoon at the cinema
Today I joined Silver-Screen – paid at the desk
grabbed a tea and biscuit along with
my concessionary ticket and edged along
row R to my seat. It’s a film noir – there’s dark
within and without I see – or is it a dagger (?)
it’s a pivotal point – my neighbour begins
to snore – a counterpoint to the minimal score.
Fassbender’s Macbeth is macho; testosterone-fuelled,
sleeping Duncan soon despatched. He’ll snore
no more. There’s no porter at the doors of hell
to offer comic relief; cut to blood and fleshy
apparition at the creaking dining table in the hall.
My neighbour’s crunching crisps; more minimalist
seasoning to the soundtrack. Murder most foul.
The credits go on and on – then we discuss the tragedy.
One woman thinks the death agonies of Macbeth
Pythonesque, all the women drool over Fassbender –
I wonder about the milk of human kindness. Yes,
it’s a film noir; get over it one man says
it was dog eat dog in those days, you had to have
your wits about you no time for sweet airy nothings.
Amen sticks in my throat. My neighbour stands,
coughs and shuffles towards the lighted Exit.