askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
 

I got off the bus tonight, and glanced to my right and there, over the regency houses of Brunswick Square, was the sunset.  I didn't think twice, I headed down to the sea.

As I got down to the promenade, the silhouettes of other Brightonians stood against the pink-orange sky.  People making their way home, walking their dogs, watching - as I was - the sunset.

For them as well as me, I wager the scale of the sky and the sunset began to elicit the experience of the sublime.

 
Nature is sublime in those of its appearances whose intuition carries with it the idea of their infinity - Kant

I strolled to the very edge of the promenade and looked down on the beach.  The waves were gently rolling in to shore.  A couple sat huddled together on the pebbles, transfixed by the celestial display to the West.

I stood and let it wash over me.  The pink to purple to orange to yellow to red of the sky.  The flecks of glowing red flecked through the seemingly whipped cloud which lay softly over the sea.  The colours caught, reflected, intensified, moved by the calm sea.

I began to tremble inside.  The power, the scale, the half light, the flow of other people to the promenade to watch the sun set - people who both seemed to be beside me and a hundred miles away.  
 

The feeling of the sublime is pleasure that arises only indirectly: it is produced by the feeling of a momentary inhibition of the vital forces followed immediately by an outpouring of them that is all the stronger. - Kant

My mind took it all in and I suppose Kant would say my imagination made it into something more.  My imagination combined it with every sunset I'd ever seen, every time I'd ever stood and just stared, passively, out to sea, every time I had been moved all compounded and I was moved.  There, in the sky - in me - was the Sublime.
 
askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
Writing Prompt for Wednesday, June 2,
What's your favorite poem? (And if you don't have one, why?)


Reception of poetry is so dependant on mood its almost dismissive of its power to pick just one piece as a favourite.  However, the poem I most often read and experience a dramatic and deeply felt response to (indeed, I picked lines from it to form my journal title here on Dreamwidth) is Simon Armitage's White Christmas;

For once it is a White Christmas,
so white that the roads are impassable
and my wife is snowbound
in a town untroubled by tractor or snowplough.
In bed, awake, alone.  She calls

and we pass on our presents by telephone.
Mine is a watch, the very one
I would have chosen.  Hers is a song,
the one with the line Here come the hills of time
and it sits in its sleeve,

unsung and unopened.  But the dog downstairs
is worrying, gnawing, howling,
so I walk her through clean snow
along the tow-path to the boat-house at a steady pace,
then to my parents' place

where my Mother is Marie Curie, in the kitchen
discovering radium, and my Father is Fred Flintstone,
and a guest from the past has a look on her face meaning
lie and I'll have your teeth for a necklace, boy,
your eyeballs for earrings,

your bullshit for breakfast,
and my two-year-old niece is the baby Jesus,
passing between us with the fruit of the earth
and the light of the world - Christingle - a blood orange
spiked with a burning candle.

We eat, but the dog begs at the table,
drinks from the toilet, sings in the cellar.
Only baby Jesus wanders with me down the stairs
with a shank of meat to see her, to feed her.
Later, when I stand to leave

my Father wants to shake me by the hand
but my arms are heavy, made of base metal,
and the dog wants to take me down the back lane, back
to an empty house again.  A car goes by
with my sister inside

and to wave goodnight
she lifts the arm of the sleeping infant Christ,
but I turn my wrist to notice the time.  There and then
I'm the man in the joke, the man in a world of friends
where all the clocks are stopped,

synchronising his own watch.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (conor)
You could be happy and I won't know...

Is it too late to remind you how we were
But not our last days of silence, screaming, blur...

For the tiniest moment it's all not true
Do the things that you always wanted to
Without me there to hold you back, don't think, just do.

 
It's funny really, the way songs can make everything come rushing at you. I've written about this before, I know. And tomorrow I am starting another NaBloPoMo which this month means I'll be writing to prompts, so you can at least be assured I'm unlikely to write about it again, but I wanted to do a bit of a free writing blog post, working from an audio prompt*. So here we go...

And miles from where you are
I lay down in the cold ground
and I pray that something picks me up.

That's where I arrive, after that first lyric. Pick me, oh god please let something come and pick me up and return me to that place. Make the line "you could be happy and I won't know" a lie, make it something I create not respond to.

Increasingly though it's not her arms I want to be delivered back to - just someone. I miss that intimacy. Indeed I miss it so much I had a very confusing evening with my ex on Saturday where we fell back into a coupley-intimacy we rarely shared when we were actually going out. But then copious amounts of wine spritzers (yes, really. And no, I've never drunk one before) will do that for you.

In my dreams I keep saying "I love you" and then turning around to find out who I have said it to. Not once has it been Ali. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers. But not once has it been her.

All of this is probably particularly confusing because the last week has been spent in a manic haze. The end of this period of nervous activity was bookmarked in the usual manner - I slept for an inordinate amount of time. Saturday night I went to bed at 1am, slept until 3pm, got up for 2 hours, napped for an hour and a half and then went to bed at 11pm - bringing the grand total of hours I was awake on Sunday to 6 and a half. An unremarkable 11 waking hours continues the trend today.

with a name I've never chosen
I can make my first steps as a child of 25....
just because I'm sorry
doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it at the tim
e

It's coming to that - I'm none of the things I wanted to be - would have chosen to be, but it's time to try and dismiss that nagging feeling of being some how displaced from my own life and attempt to forge ahead with what I have. I have contradictory feelings of regret (I regret I regret things I regret I regret anything, I regret nothing...)but there simply isn't time to sort through them. Somehow I need to just step out of the place I have been in for the last year and a half.

I realised the other day that I really do want to stay in Brighton and the move back to the East Mids if I don't get a job by September is a second choice, not a first one. But part of taking this step as who I am not who I want to be is going to be sucking it up and doing that if that is what is required to move closer to some of my longer term ambitions.

I've waited here my whole damn life
And I've forgotten what I wanted
Maybe I can do it
If I put my back into it

I am so saturated in regrets these days that I find it near impossible to look forward. But increasingly I am recognising that is what is holding me back. Or at least, I think it is a big component.

I've got one thing coming up next month - the ArtFor Pride exhibition - and I really want that to go well. I've got one painting sketched out to do on Wednesday and I'm hoping to get a couple of others done in the next few days as I have some holiday from work and apparently the weather is going to be shit so holing up in my attic room and getting on with it is a really appealing prospect.

It's the longer term which it remains difficult to envision. I need to let go of how things ended with Ali - no amount of self flagellation, soul searching or in depth analysis of the dynamics of our relationship is going to provide me the answers I was once convinced I would eventually find.

In slow motion the blast is beautiful

I think my Romantic inclinations are at least partly responsible for turning what was, in the end, a disastrous relationship, into something tragically beautiful. I rewrite my own history as some sort of tortured artist who creates the apotheosis of her academic career as the defining, life-giving relationship crumbles unacknowledged around her ears. Falling into a pit of alcoholism and despair in the face of a betrayal she rewrites as a refutation of everything good and pure in the world.

Except it wasn't that.  It was mundane, and yes, hurtful and distressing, but mundane.  Why is it that I can only understand my own history by writing it down and translating it into something more than the sum of its parts?  I need to learn how to make my life and my actions worth more because of their objective value rather than because of the value I can impress upon them through the smokescreen of forcing them into a neat narrative.


* Snow Patrol's Final Straw and Eyes Open.
askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
I have a tattoo on my wrist, I got it a year ago in February. It reads "seek beauty" and it is written in Thai. I translated it myself after my second trip to Thailand the preceeding November (and checked it with as many sources as possible). The Thai language has several words for beauty, and several for seek, the one's I chose make the meaning clear, it means seek in the broadest sense. The beauty I picked means it in the Romantic sense encompassing natural and sublime beauty, knowledge and just those moments of contemplation which are transformative. So that's the background to where I'm going here....

A long day at work today, and still a day shy of my 'weekend' (which begins on Saturday night and ends on a Sunday night, oh a life in retail, how I loathe thee) and the beautiful sunshine outside the shopping centre I work in seemed to be begging me to stay out and enjoy it and not return to work after my lunch break, oh course I resisted it. I cycled home, as I always do, after my shift finished at 5pm and felt the cares of my week begin to lift. There were a lot of cyclists about this evening - Brighton is a very cycle-friendly city so there isn't anything unusual in that - but the inarguable Start of Summer seems to have infected the usual drudgery of the cycle commuters with new zest and joy in their journey. We weaved our way through the traffic, racing from junction to junction in half acknowledged races, flying down the hills and powering up the inclines. I love waiting at a traffic light junction in the little box ahead of the cars reserved for cyclists as more and more cyclists come flying round from either side of the cars stopped behind you and make a little gang, all of you racing off from the lights the moment they begin to change, vying for position up the next hill.

I decided an afternoon so beautiful should not be wasted and dropped off my bike and bag at home before grabbing my new (new to me, old to photography) SLR and heading down to the beach. A 3 minute walk later I was basking in sunshine bouncing of the pebbles and sea and fiddling around with the myriad of settings on the camera in an attempt to master the art of film photography in an hour. I decided to continue my stroll, ended up at the marina finishing my film on photos of boats (or, potentially, photos of nothing on account of cocking up the exposure/aperture setting/focusing...) The marina broadwalk is littered with cafes and restaurants, all of which have tables outside in the sun. After hesitating for all of 5 minutes I took a table, ordered a nice glass of white and lit a cigarette.

Sun on my face, wine in hand, the challenge and adventure of learning a new type of photography - represented in this little scene as the camera manual sitting on the table in front of me - a thoughtful drag on a cigarette, a message on my phone from a friend imploring me to join him on the beach this weekend, the quiet calm of the slowly swelling sea in the marina and the odd squawk of seagull or starling overhead.

On the way home I passed a pub where punters and music spilled out onto the street, the song crept over me and accompanied me home as I softly sang my favourite refrain over and over as I weaved my way through the streets and back to my flat; think I'm gonna be sad,
I think it's today yeah, the girl that's driving me mad, is going away, yeah...

Perfect. Beautiful.

I don't have much money left this week but this was an investment in me; £11 for bread and dips and a large glass of white isn't so excessive in that light. And these moments, these afternoons, they are so fleeting, so brief in hindsight that each minute of contentment must be savoured and treasured. Recorded and sought out again at the next possible opportunity.

And every time I find it, every time I manage those few moments of beauty I am reminded of all the things I promised myself when deciding on that tattoo and the day I called it my mantra.
askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I have two songs absolutely wedged into my head. I think both of them say quite a lot, in one way or another. Indeed the second one I'm linking to is the one complete with the John Lewis advert that is currently running, because I think it's kind of beautiful. And I know that makes me woefully prone to the effect of advertising, but whatevs, I loves it. The first one is beautiful too, only more lyrically than visually;

We still lie together every night, while I sleep I dream that we're all right, if this is love I'd rather keep dreaming, you could never be an actress, I know the knife's underneath the mattress, if this is love I'd rather keep dreaming, dreaming like a fool
The Boy Who Trapped the Sun

Billy Joel/John Lewis


My Northern getaway is drawing to a close and I can say with confidence that I am in no way ready to return to the South. Life down there needs to change dramatically in the next few months or I simply don't know what I'm going to do.

Actually, I think I do. Will review life in September with an option until November to make a decision. Leaving Brighton being the question at hand.

Strange, I thought I loved that city, but a few days away with the situation that is awaiting me on my return? Not so much. "Lately it feels like we're drifting apart". That's the way with love, I suppose.

askygoneonfire: Brighton pier being hit with massive wave (November the 13th)

Whilst the very worst storms in Brighton see me dig in at home and wedge my windows shut, I do enjoy a saunter out to see Brighton getting ripped to pieces by wind and rain. During the very worst gales Brighton has seen since I have lived down South it was too dangerous to even go near to the seafront as the wind and waves actually lifted pebbles from the beach and moved them over the fences onto the promenade. This was the occasion when many of the beach huts on Hove seafront were completely levelled.

This weekend weather forecasters are promising us gallons of rain and gale force wind. If I listen very carefully I can hear the wind whipping through the trees and the rain lashing against the windows, but I have to listen very carefully through the double glazed windows and the high hedges which protect half of my parents house from the elements. Back home in Brighton my attic bedroom is south facing and exposed to the elements. I have, more than once, been awoken in the middle of the night by gale force winds shaking the entire building and a sound that suggested the most inclement of the elements would be bursting through my ceiling in the immediate future.

There is something deliciously raw about the sound of wind and rain hurling itself destructively at buildings, which, in the face of unbounded nature seem terribly primitive and impermanent. Pulling the duvet over ones head and listening as the wind screams past the window is one of the basest pleasures in life. I often think that the knowledge that we are safe and warm inside, comfortable and dry, is the closest we can come to jouissance after infancy.

The sublime is a fearsome experience but one which not just transports but transforms.  My very worst mood can be complete eradicated (or perhaps I should say 'blown away') by a fearsome storm, to the point that I receive the news of extreme weather warnings with delighted anticipation.  It is in this vein that I lament my current location - some 200 miles from the south coast which has been promised floods and gales whilst the East Midlands braces itself for a bit of rain.

Winter, at least, is decidedly here, and there will be plenty more occasions on which I can shiver with awe as the house shudders beneath the weight of a storm.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (November the 11th)
It feels a little like cheating to post a NaBloPoMo post which is predominately pictures, but if I'm the one blogging then I should be the one making the rules.



This is my most recent painting.  I painted it the afternoon of the day Dangerous died so I think I will always end up associated with that and I perhaps won't ever like it.  Like many of my paintings it ended up in a completely different place than it both started and I intended it to end up.  In some ways I think that reflects exactly the way creativity functions - it can respond to prompts, it can be forced but ultimately, it is its own master.

Having the capacity to channel and direct creativity is, I suppose, the difference between artists and the rest of us.  Being able to sit down to produce something which is exactly the production I envision when I first sit down to express my inspiration is The Dream.

I have much the same relationship with writing as I do painting - I sit down convinced the moment my fingers hit the keys perfectly chosen words will pour from me forming profound sentences and life changing paragraphs.  I fantasise about subjects I adore being perfectly expressed and my passion oozing from the screen, fascinating all who read.

Unfortunately, my usual production is merely average.  Frequently my sentences stumble, often the rhythm is all wrong.  Do I ever like the end result? Rarely. Is it ever what I envisioned? Even less often.

So why continue? Why continue painting, why continue blogging? In the hope of a moment of revelation.  In the hope that once or twice it comes together just right and is received better than you could have ever anticipated.  The only gesture I have towards this is the odd painting I do which my friends adore, or a blog post which is inundated with comments.

Is this one of those occasions? I doubt it.
 

askygoneonfire: rainbow socks (November the 6th)

Silly gifts from across the ocean
Rat kisses
Endless rain from which you escape to a warm living room and a cup of tea
Pubs with open fires and cold beers
Text messages which just say "the sun is shining and it made me think of you"

Words which form just the right pattern and rhythm
Singing softly to yourself as you wash the dishes
The smell of boiling water
Making a fort from pillows and a den from blankets and then falling asleep in it

Cold feet, warm socks
Sodden coat, dry clothes
Aching hunger, pasta bake
Desperate thirst, cup of tea.

Coming home.


askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
I went along to White Night tonight, the first one I have attended despite living in Brighton for the last two.

My friend and I wondered the streets soaking up the atmosphere, we stopped to watch musicians taking on various genres; dropped into the library to dip briefly into an author reading from her book; paused to watch a broadcast from the future, tried and failed (on account of it being massively popular and there being a two and half hour wait) to go to a life drawing event, stopped off at a bar on the seafront which was running a casino for the night and eventually found a gallery with a fascinating installation.

It featured several screens suspended from the ceiling with short films of one person (per screen) simply staring at you, these short films were on a loop with the joining shot being the person with their eyes clothes. Some of the faces were relatively stationary, others went through a myriad of emotions in a few seconds. On the floor were pieces of paper of various sizes and scattered about the room were pieces of dowling about a metre long with pieces of charcoal attached to the end. Those people viewing the faces were implicitly invited to sketch the faces staring at them. Being forced to produce these sketches with the handicap of what was essentially a metre long pencil produced some interesting results.

The finished sketches were displayed on the walls around the gallery and scattered where they were made, across the floor.

There were some truly phenomenal pieces of art produced in response to the installation.

The thing which I enjoyed the most was the way in which people were invited to respond to the art they had come to view - the only way it was practically possible to keep the paper in place whilst sketching with the most inelegant of tools was to place one's foot upon the paper - effectively defiling one's own creation.  Furthermore, everyone is invited to contribute to the installation by discarding what they produce - the gallery is more waste paper bin than it is sacred display of creativity.  Most strikingly, in one corner papers which had been drawn on on both sides were piled up - every single piece of paper had been drawn on on both sides and reflected a vast range of talents and styles.

One of the things I most enjoy about both galleries and installations is watching how people move through the space - in this case there was an even wider range of ways than usual - some people drew and some did not.  Of those who drew a picture in response some took it very seriously and looked reverently at what they were trying to commit to paper whilst others joked and laughed and drew with their friends on the piece of paper.  Some rejected the mode of drawing presented to them and sat on the floor with a piece of charcoal liberated from the end of a piece of dowling and drew in the typical way.  Some interpreted the images before them literally, others abstracted them.

Of those who simply moved through the gallery observing and not drawing some interacted exclusively with the video screens; squaring up to them and scrutinising the full loop of the film, some peered over the shoulders of those drawing and compared them to the image their sketch was taken from, some gravitiated immediately to the sketches stuck to the walls walking over and ignoring completely those sketches which remained on the floor - not yet rescued by the custodians of the installation, some sorted through the confettied sketches on the floor as though they and they alone had discovered these works.

It was both a confrontational and simultaneously nurturing installation and I was absolutely taken by the whole experience.

Well done Brighton.

askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
I just listened to the Bright Eyes Every Day and Every Night EP all the way through for the first time.  Neely O’Hara is a stunning piece of music.  There are echoes of many other songs by my favourite bands – there’s late Radiohead, Spiritualized, Sigor Rós.....in short, lots of hauntingly-confused, massive, sweeping soundscapes.  The strangest thing, for me at least is that from around the 3 minute mark the music descends into a clambering mess of sound clips, musical dalliances and cries from Conor Oberst.  The resulting cacophony struck a chord deep in me and with some surprise I realised what I was listening to was a representation of what it sounds like in my head, when I’m manic.  Listening to it is simultaneously confusing, terrifying, familiar and amusing.  Given Conor Oberst suffers from manic depression* it seems fair to conclude that this similarity is not accidental nor is this dramatic and complicated piece of music incidental to the EP as a whole. 

Bright Eyes consistently produce epic and beautiful pieces of music.  Until quite recently I simply could not listen to Bright Eyes for any length of time – I would listen to Poison Oak, First Day of My Life and not a lot else.  The musical landscape Conor Oberst offers was too unpredictable, too sprawling and too raw for me to be able to listen to.  I found it unsettling in such an acute way that I put it on the banned list for any shared listening (in the car, in the flat on the weekends, dinner parties) that Ali and I did (Ali vetoed David Bowie in return).  Flash forward (a convenient tool which is sadly lacking in non-blogged life) to July this year and suddenly – and it truly was sudden – I find myself irresistibly drawn to the small selection of Bright Eyes Ali had placed on my iPod some years previously.

I find it difficult to explain what changed within me – and change it definitely did – which enabled me to finally embrace the Bright Eyes back catalogue.  I have tried looking at what was happening around me at the time and been unable to identify anything significant.  Indeed the only thing I can point to is Seroquel – I had been taking it for a little over a month at the point Bright Eyes no longer sounded like a terrifying, uncontrolled mess of noise.  I find the prospect that an imbalance of brain chemicals could have been responsible for me being unable to process certain pieces of music a fascinating one**.

In the context of Every Day and Every Night, Neely O’Hara is the climax of the brief compilation which has the now familiar to me themes of mirrors, fevers, alienation, loss of the self and paranoia/confusion running through it from the very beginning of its first track – the brilliant A Line Allows Progress, A Circle Does Not.  Evidently, for me, it is also the culmination of what Bright Eyes do so well – which is produce music which is far more than the sum of its parts which can transport us as listeners and reflect or describe the ways in which we have previously been transported which, in experiencing, seem to be too complex and too formless to articulate.  And that is no mean feat.


* ETA: I was sure this was true, but googling I can't seem to find any mention of it - only analysis of lyrics and mentions of the strong influence of Daniel Johnston on Oberst's writing. Anyone know if this is actually correct? If not it completely messes up what I've written!

** I know a few people on my f-list are taking Seroquel too, anyone else experience anything similar?
askygoneonfire: 'Love' painted on to four fingers of a hand (love hand)
Tonight I'm watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time on my own. It was a me and Ali film.

It is the ultimate heartbreak film, in my opinion. It shows love for what it is: dirty and painful and stupid and illogical but simultaneously beautiful and life changing and uplifting and rational.

I told [personal profile] beanheartbatman "it just shows love. That's what it is." after we saw it for the first time. She smiled and said she knew I'd say that.

The agony, the sheer agony of losing your life, your love, piece by piece...it's the same whether it's being ripped from your mind as it is from Joel's or when your long term relationship ends and your world shatters.

The film...is perfect. It says everything: regrets, pain, betrayal...love, joy, belief.

The choice to do it all again, to be hurt again, to risk the same things with the same odds endlessly; the times I saw this with Ali I knew I'd make those choices too - do it all again. After we split, the pain and the anger made me sure I would not make that choice. But now? Maybe.

Because it's love isn't it? Exciting, blind, desperate, painful, beautiful, transformative, ugly, sharp-edged, soft, perfect, imperfect... A massive, agonising, exhilarating contradiction.

It's just love. And I'd chose it again.

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askygoneonfire: Red and orange sunset over Hove (Default)
a sky gone on fire

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