Éloge ; fin janvier.

I used to call Noel "Gramps". The first time I did this - usually it was "Grandpa Noel" - he chuckled. And he continued to chuckle and I liked calling him Gramps, because it seemed to me that he enjoyed a little playful irreverence and after all, I was his favourite, if only, granddaughter. I liked being at 43a Narrak road with Gramps, who would sit in his old green chair next to the record player and play classical music. He would give me a little rundown on the important details : composer, conductor, date of recording, plus a little review of his own. I was probably too young to appreciate all the details, but I liked the music and I liked that Gramps talked to me as though I wasn't a kid. This is probably because he always talked in his own Noel-ish way - on any given subject and to whoever would listen. Such a trait might sometimes seem like a default but for a kid of 8, or 12, or 18, there is nothing better than being treated like an adult. 

And so Gramps would talk and I would listen and ask questions. I liked sitting alongside him and doing the cryptic crosswords, him exclaiming, "ah, 'roman nose' - of course!" or "now that's a reference to Shakespeare" or telling me I really should read Plato's Republic. It amazed me that within so simple a set of words could conspire a whole life of learning and that each clue seemed to be located in one or another of the books at Narrak road. And so Plato's Republic and the rest of the ancients were located on the little shelf in the dining room where we would celebrate Christmas each year - and where Gramps, ever the entertainer, would make Byron and I little foxes and dogs with the gold foil from Ferrero Rocher wrappers. This little performance was always my favourite part of the meal and each of the little creatures, made of foil and shaped in a few minutes, seemed to have more personality than some of the sculptures in marble that I've studied. 

When I was a bit older and had just broken up with my first serious boyfriend, I took a plane to Melbourne and went to stay with Gramps.  Not my parents, not a friend, but Noel. I don't even think I told him about my heartbreak, but that was probably what I needed: a stoic attitude and someone to talk to me about other things, things that make life worth all the doom and gloom - books, music, and cryptic crosswords. I still think of him when I do the cryptic, or when I read Patrick White or listen to Verdi. The great thing about cryptic puzzles is that they embody, in a very tangible way, what you are missing. The end point is already contained within the starting point - and so you know that there is an answer and a means, but you haven't yet figured out which mental twists and turns are necessary. Hanging out with Gramps gave me the feeling that life was all about the strange but simple convergence of unlikely elements. A while ago, he had passed his little Chinon camera onto me. The day that he died, I had just developed the first rolls of film that I had put through it - and as soon as I saw them I knew that I had found my camera. When papa called me that night to tell me, I smiled and thought privately that Gramps would have appreciated just such a convergence.

aesthetics.. getting oriental, getting occidental.

XIXth c. frenchy Maison au Soudan and my favoured Cairo souvenir, ubiquitous partout.
The man who was Thursday can be glimpsed in the background and where is that holy book coming from on the blue planet? Madagascar?



#03 Separation.

Pressure to be 'modern' in the arts is just pressure to use flick-book graphics as though we're all not trained in photoshop and illustrator. MS Paint devolution is the new primitivism. Genius lies in the choice. 

#11 Nikola Tesla's 'earthquake machine' worked to amplify resonance frequencies : he claimed he could bring down a building with a device that could fit into his pocket. Pressure.

Being modern is both a term of praise and the greatest reproach, often from the same mouth. Facing the formula worked, re-worked in art of all types, be left behind as struggling saboteurs throwing the sabots or forge ahead to contemporaneity, which is nostalgia for the last great uncool. Curation.

#34 néo-90s. Greatest techno hits, all-white outfits, early-net graphics, updated gothic tendencies.

The same forces that are lauded as permitting the dissemination and proliferation of information, and therefore of education, are also those that seem to be depriving our civil liberties, creating subtler consumers of us all, and channeling expression through neater and blander packaging. 

#462 Pointless to decry the ratio of self-education : selfies on the internet. 


Specialisation is as dangerous as generalisation. Iain Sinclair, in response to the question of which extinct species he would bring back (following the responses - sabre-toothed tiger and t-rex - of two field specialists) : "pure poets." 

#212 evian bottles

I imagine that amongst the earliest doubters of the printing press were those who realised that stopping incendiary writings would soon be impossible or that, in moments of peace, the majority probably preferred the back street seamy graphics and instalments of drab novella fictions to political pamphlets. Town gossip has not changed because of facebook.

#1002 No hugging, no learning. No soup for you.

We might also ask where all the great savants, geniuses of philosophical science, dabblers, and Anathasius Kirchers of the world have gone. But we can find their happy equivalent in the modern dabblers, enthusiasts, free-floaters, and culture looters.

#67 bad brand chat. Chat with a bad brand. Murakami premiers LV bag, african vendors already have its fake. Biennale overrun by LV. We know where we got ours? Sincerity as an instance of irony.

Despite the efforts of anti-commercialism lefties, philosophers, and culture critics, the resulting tackiness of certain high-name brands came about in the following way: people who cannot afford the brand but want its symbolic content make a fake, wear it with pride. Fakes made in China are now : gucci belt spells baggy pants and fake gold chains *hiphopculture ; LV monogram is the queen bee or the cells of the hive - looking fake everywhere, except behind plate glass, the little tan spots have changed the leopard. 

#99 and what of the leopard? Once a sign of such potency - the royal hunt - its pattern is almost synonymous with fake fur and pvc. Thus giving it all the attributes necessary for a comeback, but only in denigrated mediums, otherwise too luddite.


LV has been visually and symbolically destroyed by its own proliferated image and not by any astute reasoning in a myriad of books and essays on consumer culture, thus *x-envy. but c.f. #34 for tacky-brand love, oakley+chanel, adidas button-ups+GOCCI. Much misspelled rehabilitation.

#17 the new market for buff gym junkers is offshore steroids cocktails, a process known as 'stacking'

TBC because perfect idea. Hairless, bulging, and veiny, people now look like erect penises. 

#569 dancing at the altar, which one? Bridal expo vs. Abraham and Isaac.

Match websites. Reducing love to a series of physical, social and economic attributes. May as well just go straight to robots. But, cf. Ghost in the Shell because who ever asked the robots? Can envisage flabby sycophants at the feet of humanity's creation. Banish natural doubt.

le caire

The return from Cairo. All the political disputes surrounding the 3 year anniversary of the revolution can be, I feel, seen anew in the context of this film, Four Women of Egypt. From 1997, the film looks at the lives and relationships of four women who were involved in the political movements surrounding Egypt's struggles - political and social, international and domestic - in the 1950s and 60s. These four feminists from different social and religious backgrounds, are above all, very funny. The film is also sad. I watched it on the way back from Cairo, cried and fell asleep on the coat of a man saying his 7 o'clock prayers. If all the women of Egypt are as strong as this - and the ones I met were - it speaks volumes for a country that seems to have always been a prized possession, from the Pharaohs, through its hellenisation and christianisation, through the mamluk rule and the ottoman conquest, through the French under Napoleon Bonaparte and the British occupation, to, finally, Nasser and we all know the rest.