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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Reflections on reflections

Van Gogh (1888) "The best thing I've done in pen and ink": Landscape with train
I'm off to see my mum in Scotland. I packed on Boxing Day evening. Lin made me a picnic. On Monday morning Oscar and I caught a 16 bus to New Street - just after 9.30; therefore free. Our nine hour journey to Inverness via Wolverhampton, Stafford, Crewe, Preston, Lancaster, Carlisle, Glasgow and Perth passed in an eventless blur of music, films and fleeting landscape, made the more dreamlike for wearing noise cancelling headphones - which muted mobiles, tetchy babes, intrusive intercom announcements, leaving only what I chose to hear and the soothing motion of the train - more vibration than sound. Van Gogh's 'Japanese' landscape near Arles - especially at 00.27 - seems lightly snowed like mine.  Train to the Highlands from Simon Baddeley on Vimeo             Having much larger windows than cars and certainly planes, trains present the entertainment of reflections in glass drifting from transparent to opaque. Gazing at the passing view on one side I glimpse myself and fellow passengers in my window. In a tunnel, and after sunset, that window becomes a mirror, reflecting the interior of the carriage, catching, in addition, the reflection of the window opposite. The picture becomes layered when, dashing from darkness, my window affords a panorama of the passing world, a reflection inside, and the reflection of the view on the other side of the train travelling in opposite direction; metaphysical possibilities in the multiple reflections of another train passing. It happens on the bus without the dramatic speed. The train rushes me, still, yet at giant's pace across the divided landscape.
My mother - Barbara Theodora Maine
 * * *
 The dominant narrative on the state of Greece is unassailed, or am I missing something? I've just read a brief overview with many links posted on Rebecca MacKinnon's and Ethan Zukerman's Global Voices about Greek bloggers' reactions, posted early 2010 by Asteris Masouras. He notes their relative silence. No-one seems to have emerged as the teller of another tale. I'm sucked into and drift along in the wake of an amiable economist-demographer called Edward Hughes who writes clearly and depressingly about the mess with graphics a child can follow from the Bank of Greece.
Credit dries up across the Republic
The people I find most intriguing, entertaining and even promising are not those who post for the dominant narrative - will feckless Greece recover with the stern help of the EU-IMF? - nor one's who wear T-shirts decrying the destructive character of global venture capitalism (where did they buy those?). I'm pretending to be a non-combatant; bewildered; watching on the sidelines, scratching my head; wondering 'What Is to Be Done?'
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Rev 3:16
No. The most interesting are the people who say and write and film what they think and understand from moment to moment without striving too hard to create a bigger story. These are either entirely discrete idiosyncratic individuals. They might be sewing something that might come to look like a tapestry, part for the moment of a novel temporal gestalt - a useful idea to do with recognising the coherence of something new as opposed to simply a collection of disparate and possibly random parts of something or nothing. How many notes of a piece of music do I hear before I hear a tune or even something I recognise? How much of an utterance must you hear from a mouth before you know if it's a sneeze or a cough? How many words before we know what follows? Never...? Never in...? Never in the field....? Never in the field of human...? Σα βγεις ...? Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό....? Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη? How much does a new thing have to develop before it can be recognised as substantial rather than fleeting - the difference between the seedling of a tree and a flower as both break ground being indistinct. So let me take these for a start - Asteris Masouris who I've just come across, our friend Danica Radovanović who posts Digital Serendipities and who I met on the web because she shared a first name with the boat in which I once sailed to Greece, then Teacher Dude and BBQ, citizen-journalist in Thessaloniki, and my Birmingham friend of eleven years, Nick Booth who invented Podnosh and lots of things connected with it. These people - two who are friends, one just discovered in cyberspace and Craig Wherlock, otherwise Teacher Dude, who I've followed because of his images of the Greek crisis from Thessaloniki ('I take pictures since my greatest dread is that of being a bystander.'). They spread themselves across the social web, the personification of connectionism, hedgehogs rather than tortoises.
Πόλλ' οἶδ' ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ' ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα
In the highlands near Garbole (Photo: Guy Hollier, my son-in-law)
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow....

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