Ceslaw Milosz – Gift

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

Czeslaw Milosz, 1971

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We Danced In Narrow Spaces

This film by Ash Akhtar was first premiered back in August at the Danny Boyle curated Shuffle Festival. I wrote the ‘script’ and as a couple of people have asked about it, here it is in full.

I came in a rush of foolish blood, swaddled in spent air. I had studied the floorplans of the building, sketched out like some vast heart, but still the size alarmed me. I would walk the corridors, some that seemed to stretch on forever. Occasionally, I would find a new conjunction of rooms, or a new atrium, bathed in light; I would rest my hands on the peeling paint walls. They felt sodden, damp with memories. Sometimes the noise was terrifying, especially at night, but it would pass, dissipating into the far reaches of the hospital.”

“Nights; nights were the worse time for them, I think – both the natural fall of sleep and the induced caverns of prolonged narcosis. In the mornings they would walk on tiptoes as if afraid to touch the earth. Stale and drawn, smudged by sleep, they looked cadaverous and exhausted, wracked by the haunted space of their dreams. “Wake up”, I would whisper, “wake up”. I’d watch them in their actions, actions that seemed aching and random; but over time, through the great density, I started to notice patterns, like water droplets in the whorls of a giant thumbprint.”

“In music therapy they would batter the Orff instruments with a peculiar intensity. I asked about the maps they carried. They were a long way from home. They told me this: “You stand on hills and wonder at the silence of things; you want to do an archaeology of that silence. An excavation. You try to speak words of water; to lose yourself in the spaces between the water. You walk often at night and by some design return to the banks of the same river. It is dark, but you can hear its voice in the dark. In spring, in spate, it wants to drown; in summer, in the sullen daze of summer, it holds, holds you, and you hold it.” They told me they wanted to go back. They asked if any of this made any sense? It did. Of course it did.

And now this. You would not think to dance in such a place, but it came, it came. With the music silenced, we washed in embers, and fathomless and unburdened, we walked, as signatures of the invisible, out into the welcoming wind.

Archaeology – 19th April at the Railway, Winchester

Ologies

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It’s been a while, but Ologies is back, with another eclectic bill, perhaps our finest yet…

Not a stranger to Winchester by any means, Kemper Norton will be performing his unique, eldritch blend of folk and electronics – his micro-symphonies of rural alienation and decay. Howlround will summon ghosts and archival memories from the colossal databanks of the BBC world service, while Olan Mill, with their soaring drones, will explore the emotion in inner and outer landscapes. Clive Henry, proponent of HNW and general behemothic noise, will be digging out new sounds from old kit and Stephen Christopher Stamper will be processing echoic memories from archived cassettes.

Or maybe they’ll decide to do something else.

The barn awaits…

Tickets available soon from Runningonair.com.

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Michael McClure – For the Death of 100 Whales

In April, 1954, Time magazine described seventy-nine bored American G.I.s stationed at a NATO base in Iceland murdering a pod of one hundred killer whales. In a single morning the soldiers, armed with rifles, machine guns, and boats, rounded up and then shot the whales to death.

Hung midsea
Like a boat mid-air
The liners boiled their pastures:
The liners of flesh,
The Arctic steamers

Brains the size of a teacup
Mouths the size of a door

The sleek wolves
Mowers and reapers of sea kine.
THE GIANT TADPOLES
(Meat their algae)
Leapt
Like sheep or children.
Shot from the sea’s bore.

Turned and twisted
(Goya!!)
Flung blood and sperm.
Incense.
Gnashed at their tails and brothers
Cursed Christ of mammals,
Snapped at the sun,
Ran for the Sea’s floor.

Goya! Goya!
Oh Lawrence
No angels dance those bridges.
OH GUN! OH BOW!
There are no churches in the waves,
No holiness,
No passages or crossings
From the beasts’ wet shore.

Ventures and Adventures in Topography

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This is old news, of course, but if ever a series needed rediscovering and re-commissioning for a wider audience, it’s this: Ventures and Adventures in Topography presented by John Rogers and Nick Papadimitriou; 16 episodes of gentle wanderings and explorations of the outer and inner reaches of London, that act as both a spur to action, but also a kind of balm, a soporific emanation straight from the city’s unconscious. Go get – and while you’re there, if you can, pledge some money to the mighty Resonance.