Archive for October, 2010

discerning wealth


Incarcerated in the Mavrino gulag, prisoners Rubin and Gleb Nerzhin discuss various philosophers. Then Nerzhin offers his own opinion, reached after five years in captivity:

And it’s my own view, arrived at by myself, that people don’t know what they are striving for. They exhaust themselves in the senseless pursuit of material things and die without realising their spiritual wealth.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn The First Circle

The other perspective


View out from within the loggia of Rafael Moneo’s Town Hall

hoar and rime


the best facade in glasgow


Don Paterson 2


And there’s more:

A poem is a document of an epiphany as it’s happening. Write the poem you’re writing, not the one you want to write. The poem will have ideas of its own, and they’re better than yours.


Don Paterson


The poet (and jazz musician) with some astute observations on the process.

What’s the origin of a poem? Do you accept the idea that it can be originated first in a sound or a rhythm or in a larger formal intuition rather than in some urgent message to be expressed?

I think there are pretty much a thousand routes into it. This’ll sound naïve, but all I’m aware of is the sense that something that needs saying, and that I don’t have the words for it yet. So the poem’s not just the means of expressing it, but working out what the hell it was; I write poetry to find out what I’m thinking first, and if it makes a song, it’s probably true. There’s always some scrap you get for nothing, though, some bit of the thread that you can pick up and follow, and it might be a sound, a line, a form, a rhythm, a tone, a feeling – or, as you put it – some larger formal intuition. So long as it has some … possibility, and there’s a sense of something to be assuaged. When there isn’t, where there’s no itch to scratch, I’ve usually decided what I’m going to write in advance. This is always a bad idea, as there’s no excitement to communicate.

Would you speak about a period of gestation in which the poem is being pre- determined?

Well – the poem is never pre-determined, and I’d suspect any poet who writes that way. I doubt I’d want to read them. As I’ve said, I write to find out what it is I think, or to find out something I haven’t thought. All I start with is a kind of generative proposition. I don’treally believe in ‘gestation’, and think it’s a false metaphor – or at least a scary one, given the number of deformities and stillbirths and false pregnancies involved. Thinking about poems, making notes, redrafting them, polishing them, publishing them, it’s all part of the same process.

and then, the knockout blow:

Of course poetry finds, and indeed explicitly seeks, ‘external verification’; it’s only through such a process that the reader can tell a good poem from a bad one, and it’s only by placing themselves in the role of reader that the poet can attempt this verification in advance, and see where they’ve gone wrong, or gone right. It concurs with the reader’s experience of the world in an unexpected way, or shows them something they hadn’t noticed about it. They either go ‘yes: that’s the way it is’, or they don’t. Without that verification, you have surrealism or nonsense. What distinguishes poetry as a practice isn’t its epiphanies, just a certain kind of linguistic contract between poet and reader, their agreement to play a certain kind of game – one of rewarding the reader for ‘reading in too deeply’, of oversignifying.


the best facade in milan


self portrait by Robin Evans


Robin Evans’ reflections on Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion:

It must be admitted that the usual effects of reflection are disruptive and confusing. However, when a construction reflects itself more than it reflects its surroundings and where, moreover, these reflections are always into plane surfaces parallel or perpendicular to one another, the result is quite different. In such circumstances an asymmetrical arrangement becomes virtually symmetrical, like Siamese twins, whenever a reflective plane cuts through it.

And regarding the ‘afterwardsness’ of the reassembly:

I refrain from commenting on the reconstruction of the pavilion, except to applaud those responsible. Others regard the issues of its authenticity and reproducibility as significant, but I am unable to see why.

For more on authenticity, reconstruction, architecture and the Barcelona Pavilion, see the post by Charles Holland (FAT).

what a house is


A house is a collection of good rooms.

Florian Beigel

darkness & light


Darkness which kindles the brilliance of light and reveals light’s power, is innately a part of light. Yet the richness and depth of darkness has disappeared from our consciousness, and the subtle nuances that light and darkness engender, their spatial resonances – these are almost forgotten.

Tadao Ando Light