Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 15 January 2010

Bit of a ragbag

Sonnet - Metamorphosis

I am the victim of time’s violence.
This pressing sky, these over-sleekit roads
These blizzards of ebullience,
This rain, this fog that frequently forebodes
Much worse. All kept me from the barber’s chair
And let my hair presume to reach my brow.
My gliding form has lost its athlete’s flair,
And, seaweeded, retards the forehead’s prow
When cutting through the pool’s décolletage,
Requiring several towels to get it dry.
A Neptune slowed to Saturn’s gnarly age
My crawl-stroke wasted, power gone awry.
But could my new-born wastrel turbulence
Proclaim a poet’s mane of consequence?

NOTE: Not to be taken seriously. An attempt to break away from the 3½ quatrains that the sonnet form tends to impose. To me, habituated, it forms a different straitjacket.

UNAVOIDABLE Twentieth-century music! Twelve-tone shivers down the spines of those who drew up the drawbridge with Brahms. But the century includes Strauss, Elgar, Sibelius and Mahler. If you want to know how it all fits together (including jazz and pop) “The rest is noise” by Alex Ross, music critic of New Yorker, was enthusiastically reviewed in the UK and is brilliantly written – a must read. Your stepping stone to the Berg violin concerto, which, like Naples, you must experience before death. Or afterwards if there are suitable facilities.

DARWIN UPDATE BBC4 yesterday continued its wonderful series on hard science with, in effect, a lecture on the origins of chaos theory. Ah the mind of man. Ending with an unbelievable piece of software containing an algorithm which simulates evolution, a process which in real life takes millennia. An incompetent cartoon mannikin trips over then learns to walk with confidence and it’s the maths what done it.

Novel progress 20/1/10. Ch. 12: 1724 words. Chs. 1 - 11: 48,792 words. Comments: Unproductive day. Still on the M6.


Sir Hugh said...

What about Shostakovich?

Julia said...

Babbitt I can take or leave but Barber, Bartok, Britten it would be hard to do without (and I'm only on the Bs!!). I do hope people really don't stop at Brahms.

Can't wait to read The Rest is Noise, and very glad you're enjoying it. Do the sound tracks work well with it?

Julia said...

Also, what color IS your hair?

Plutarch said...

Sleekit. A word I have only encountered in Burns. As in "wee sleekit, cowerin, tim'rous beestie..." Did you borrow it from Burns or is it used more widely than I had supposed?

marja-leena said...

Hmm, I thought that's a lime sherbet coloured wig, except it's not Halloween right now. You're lucky to have such a thick rug! :-)

The Crow said...

"...you must experience before death. Or afterwards if there are suitable facilities."

This is one of the best, wittiest things I've read, and enjoyed, for too many years to count.

Barrett Bonden said...

Sir Hugh: ... or Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, Bruckner, Rachmaninov, etc, etc. All I was trying to say is that twentieth century music includes plenty that is accessible.

Julia: I can't recall ever hearing any Babbit. There's perhaps a blockage here; anyone who's read the eponymous Sinclair Lewis novel probably finds it hard to believe realtors write music. Tragic though it is many people cut off post-Brahms; we regularly attend City of Birmingham SO concerts (Simon Rattle's old stamping ground and orch) and attendance is down for moderns. Naturally they mix the programmes but overhearing the others in the bus on the return, I rarely detect an enthusiasm for the usual suspects.

Hair colour? So you don't like Auto Smart Fix blue? I could have reversed it but it picked up the swimming pool reference and I thought what the heck? It's grown some more since then and I'm beginning to look like one of the more miserable OT prophets: Isaiah or even Jeremiah. Except I'm REVERSING all their prophecies.

Plutarch: Borrowed from Burns and, I must confess, for the second time in my posted verse. It's not in the dicker.

M-L: Well you claim to have seen the rug in its formative state. Now will you believe me that you met a BB sibling at the Retreat.

The Crow: It's just that I didn't envisage CD-playing eqpt in Paradise. I think the idea is all the music's DIY so just imagine: infinity spent listening to a million amateurs singing "Heartbreak Hotel". The devil, they say, has the best tunes.

Avus said...

Enjoyed the sonnet. Magnificent top crop, BB. It must help a good deal with personal insulation.
I cannot boast such luxuriance, but at least a quick go over with my clippers excuses a trip to the barber.

Rouchswalwe said...

Do you wear a high collar? Americans think that all Englishmen worth their salt sport locks that touch the top of the collar. And your lady love has something to run her fingers through. "It's all good," as they say around here. Meanwhile, I'm drooling over the chaos theory show.

herhimnbryn said...

Am worried about the blue rinse, Bonden.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): No I don't wear a high collar; while living in the US I spent a good deal of time ensuring I didn't conform to the Yankee cliché view of the Brit. Several of them were terribly shocked when I bad-mouthed the Queen. More to come on the chaos theory programme, notably on the fascinating Feedback principle.

HHB: I take it that if you really thought I was blue rinsing you'd break off all diplomatic relations. In fact I was guilty of an even worse crime which you have condemned in the past - subjecting a pic to the arts of Photoshop. Unsuccessfully as it turns out.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Growing the thatch allows me to adopt various alien roles: as I mention I can pretend to be a poet, Blake's Jahweh or an OT prophet; but given I live in backward Herefordshire the role of rural madman pleases me most.

Lucy said...

Blue rinse, huh? Blame it on the chlorine, BB. I'm going to say it's a magnificent and admirable thatch, you must look a positive triton rising from the waves of your local piscine!

I can't be doing with Harrison Birtwhistle (another 'B'!) or Maxwell-Davies, and much of Britten I find decidedly hit or miss come to that, but I'm partial to a bit of Taverner, Gorecki and even sometimes Arvo Part I think. And don't forget Vaughan-Williams. I think quite a lot of Mad Modern Music might be OK if one was actually present at the performance, whereas listening to it recorded might prove impossible.

We enjoyed the Chaos show; trouble was I was battling incipient slumber, which in some ways was rather fun, as the random patterns of comprehension and incomprehension, bizarre spirallings off of association and semi-dreaming images going on in my brain at the same time contributed to the interest. Tom, however, found himself awakened and enlivened by it, and insisted on trying to talk to me about it animatedly while I was cleaning my teeth. I've just come back from my walk to find the computer commandeered by a translated web page from the Universidad de Navarra about the Mind of the Universe and Self-Organisation. Self-organisation sounds like what I've been unsuccessfully trying to achieve for most of my life. I guess I just lack the maths.

I have to say I found that rudimentary headless mannikin floundering about on the ground rather distressing, though.

I'm still puzzling out how Mrs BB manages over four books a week, as well as knitting, embroidery, painting, concerts, newspapers and keeping the kitchen like a new pin. I suppose it's back to self-organisation.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: It's time to come clean about the blue rinse. As you know I don't attempt to compete with all the Cartier-Bressons out there in blogoland; my pix are simply illustrative with no pretensions to high art. Photoshop is enlisted wherever necessary. The photo was taken in that the middle class holy of holies, the en suite, and the result lacked hair texture. I resorted to PS Auto Smart Fix and there must be a bluish cast in my shaving parlour, though I've never noticed. And whereas I'll work at what I write, I can't be fussed with photos. So laziness is at the root of it all.

Music. Agreed there's a lot of 20th century that is intolerable and you've picked out two lulus straight off. What impressed me was the way "The rest is noise" plays you into the century gently with Strauss and Mahler, then provides the logic behind extreme Schoenberg even if you may not wish to rush out and buy the CD. As to Britten I offer the following salutary experience: way back I bought "Les Illuminations" with, as ever, Peter Pears at the driving wheel. After one playing it gathered dust. But then I heard a soprano singing it at the Presteigne festival and was transfixed, as were others in the audience who afterwards turned round asking, incredulously, "Was that really Britten?" So, escaping BB's lover can sometimes work wonders.

Chaos. No chance if you were slightly slumberous. It wasn't a TV programme it was a lecture and intensive and continuous attention was obligatory. I am pleased to hear it caught Tom's attention though he should realise that someone cleaning their teeth can hear nothing of someone else's conversation, however animated.

Mrs BB. The key is her firm decision (laughed at at the time) that she would devote retirement to reading. That she would not feel guilty on delightful summer afternoons ignoring the garden and other self-assumed burdens of the British middle class. That she would read all the way to NZ (three times), in departure lounges, on trains, while her husband was engaged in conversation with others (especially in France), on Greek islands, in hospital waiting rooms, everwhere in fact. The only rather obvious opportunity she avoids is when she is a passenger in a car driven by me when she also believes it to be letting down the side if she dozes.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: just re-read. "Kitchen like a new pin". We have cleaning ladies - another retirement pledge.

Plutarch said...

I have at last caught up with The Chaos programme - we can't receive BBC 4 neat, as it were. It is truly wondeful. "We are all made largely of air, water, coal and chalk". Some parts f the programme - thanks to BBC I- Player I have seen twice. Simple rules plus feed back plus random mutations = spontaneous pattern formation and complexity, "without thought or design". Some might argue as one of Al Kahili's commentators hinted, that there might be something less than spontaneous about the basic rules themselves. But I suppose that is the sort of question you cannot ask like: What happened before the big bang, which created the particular balance of elements that make the universe fit for life. (See The Goldilocks Enigma by Paul Davies)