Archive for November, 2016

Tuesday 22nd November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 22, 2016 by bishshat


A Poem on His Birthday

Dylan Thomas

In the mustardseed sun,
By full tilt river and switchback sea
Where the cormorants scud,
In his house on stilts high among beaks
And palavers of birds
This sandgrain day in the bent bay’s grave
He celebrates and spurns
His driftwood thirty-fifth wind turned age;
Herons spire and spear.

Under and round him go
Flounders, gulls, on their cold, dying trails,
Doing what they are told,
Curlews aloud in the congered waves
Work at their ways to death,
And the rhymer in the long tongued room,
Who tolls his birthday bell,
Toesl towards the ambush of his wounds;
Herons, stepple stemmed, bless.

In the thistledown fall,
He sings towards anguish; finches fly
In the claw tracks of hawks
On a seizing sky; small fishes glide
Through wynds and shells of drowned
Ship towns to pastures of otters. He
In his slant, racking house
And the hewn coils of his trade perceives
Herons walk in their shroud,

The livelong river’s robe
Of minnows wreathing around their prayer;
And far at sea he knows,
Who slaves to his crouched, eternal end
Under a serpent cloud,
Dolphins dyive in their turnturtle dust,
The rippled seals streak down
To kill and their own tide daubing blood
Slides good in the sleek mouth.

In a cavernous, swung
Wave’s silence, wept white angelus knells.
Thirty-five bells sing struck
On skull and scar where his lovews lie wrecked,
Steered by the falling stars.
And to-morrow weeps in a blind cage
Terror will rage apart
Before chains break to a hammer flame
And love unbolts the dark

And freely he goes lost
In the unknown, famous light of great
And fabulous, dear God.
Dark is a way and light is a place,
Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is alwas true,
And, in that brambled void,
Plenty as blackberries in the woods
The dead grow for His joy.

There he might wander bare
With the spirits of the horseshoe bay
Or the stars’ seashore dead,
Marrow of eagles, the roots of whales
And wishbones of wild geese,
With blessed, unborn God and His Ghost,
And every soul His priest,
Gulled and chanter in youg Heaven’s fold
Be at cloud quaking peace,

But dark is a long way.
He, on the earth of the night, alone
With all the living, prays,
Who knows the rocketing wind will blow
The bones out of the hills,
And the scythed boulders bleed, and the last
Rage shattered waters kick
Masts and fishes to the still quick stars,
Faithlessly unto Him

Who is the light of old
And air shaped Heaven where souls grow wild
As horses in the foam:
Oh, let me midlife mourn by the shrined
And druid herons’ vows
The voyage to ruin I must run,
Dawn ships clouted aground,
Yet, though I cry with tumbledown tongue,
Count my blessings aloud:

Four elements and five
Senses, and man a spirit in love
Thangling through this spun slime
To his nimbus bell cool kingdom come
And the lost, moonshine domes,
And the sea that hides his secret selves
Deep in its black, base bones,
Lulling of spheres in the seashell flesh,
And this last blessing most,

That the closer I move
To death, one man through his sundered hulks,
The louder the sun blooms
And the tusked, ramshackling sea exults;
And every wave of the way
And gale I tackle, the whole world then,
With more triumphant faith
That ever was since the world was said,
Spins its morning of praise,

I hear the bouncing hills
Grow larked and greener at berry brown
Fall and the dew larks sing
Taller this thuderclap spring, and how
More spanned with angles ride
The mansouled fiery islands! Oh,
Holier then their eyes,
And my shining men no more alone
As I sail out to die

Dylan Thomas’s thirty-fifth birthday

The Poem

“Poem on His Birthday” is composed of twelve stanzas of nine lines each. It was written to mark Dylan Thomas’s thirty-fifth birthday, and is the fourth and last of Thomas’s birthday poems. In the first four stanzas, the poet looks out at the real and imagined scene from his house overlooking the bay on his thirty-fifth birthday. As he gazes at the river and sea illumined by an October sun, he “celebrates” but also “spurns” his birthday, likening the passage of his life to “driftwood.”

The first stanzas abound with images of sea birds and fish—cormorants, flounders, gulls, curlews, eels, and herons—as they instinctively go about their appointed tasks. The poet is acutely conscious that the scene he observes, apparently so full of industrious life, is in truth a steady passage toward death. He realizes that all nature is a vast killing field: “Finches fly/ In the claw tracks of hawks.” He applies this insight to his own life. In his inner ear he can hear bells tolling, not only in celebration but also in anticipation of his own death. Yet, although the natural scene is filled with the omens of death, it is also holy. The herons, with which each of the first three stanzas closes, are “steeple stemmed” and “bless.” Stanzas 5 to 7 switch from the natural scene to the landscape of the poet’s own mind and his anticipation of a rejuvenated life after death. Once again he hears the tolling of thirty-five bells, one.


In poetry, a stanza from Italian stanza [ˈstantsa], “room”) is a grouped set of lines within a poem, usually set off from other stanzas by a blank line or indentation. Stanzas can have regular rhyme and metrical schemes, though stanzas are not strictly required to have either. There are many unique forms of stanzas. Some stanzaic forms are simple, such as four-line quatrains. Other forms are more complex, such as the Spenserian stanza. Fixed verse poems, such as sestinas, can be defined by the number and form of their stanzas. The term stanza is similar to strophe, though strophe is sometimes used to refer to irregular set of lines, as opposed to regular, rhymed stanzas.

The stanza in poetry is analogous with the paragraph that is seen in prose; related thoughts are grouped into units. In music, groups of lines are typically referred to as verses. The stanza has also been known by terms such as batch, fit, and stave


Prose is a form of language that exhibits a grammatical structure and a natural flow of speech, rather than a rhythmic structure as in traditional poetry. Where the common unit of verse is based on meter or rhyme, the common unit of prose is purely grammatical, such as a sentence or paragraph.

Prose lacks the more formal metrical structure of verse that can be found in traditional poetry. Prose comprises full grammatical sentences, which then constitute paragraphs while overlooking aesthetic appeal, whereas poetry typically involves a metrical and/or rhyming scheme. Some works of prose contain traces of metrical structure or versification and a conscious blend of the two literature formats known as prose poetry. Verse is considered to be more systematic or formulaic, whereas prose is the most reflective of ordinary (often conversational) speech. On this point, Samuel Taylor Coleridge jokingly requested that novice poets should know the “definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose—words in their best order; poetry—the best words in their best order.”

Monsieur Jourdain asked for something to be written in neither verse nor prose. A philosophy master replied there is no other way to express oneself than with prose or verse, for the simple reason being that everything that is not prose is verse, and everything that is not verse is prose. Molière, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme

The Bourgeois Gentleman or The Middle-Class Aristocrat or The Would-Be Noble) is a five-act comédie-ballet—a play intermingled with music, dance and singing—written by Molière, first presented on 14 October 1670 before the court of Louis XIV at the Château of Chambord by Molière’s troupe of actors. Subsequent public performances were given at the theatre of the Palais-Royal beginning on 23 November 1670. The music was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully, the choreography was by Pierre Beauchamp, the sets were by Carlo Vigarani and the costumes were done by the chevalier d’Arvieux.

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme satirizes attempts at social climbing and the bourgeois personality, poking fun both at the vulgar, pretentious middle-class and the vain, snobbish aristocracy. The title is meant as an oxymoron: in Molière’s France, a “gentleman” was by definition nobly born, and thus there could be no such thing as a bourgeois gentleman. The play is in prose (except for the ballet openings which are in verse).

The play takes place at Mr. Jourdain’s house in Paris. Jourdain is a middle-aged “bourgeois” whose father grew rich as a cloth merchant. The foolish Jourdain now has one aim in life, which is to rise above this middle-class background and be accepted as an aristocrat. To this end, he orders splendid new clothes and is very happy when the tailor’s boy mockingly addresses him as “my Lord”. He applies himself to learning the gentlemanly arts of fencing, dancing, music and philosophy, despite his age; in doing so he continually manages to make a fool of himself, to the disgust of his hired teachers. His philosophy lesson becomes a basic lesson on language in which he is surprised and delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it.

« Par ma foi ! il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose sans que j’en susse rien, et je vous suis le plus obligé du monde de m’avoir appris cela. »
Madame Jourdain, his intelligent wife, sees that he is making a fool of himself and urges him to return to his previous middle-class life, and to forget all he has learned. A cash-strapped nobleman called Dorante has attached himself to M. Jourdain. He secretly despises Jourdain but flatters his aristocratic dreams. For example, by telling Jourdain that he mentioned his name to the King at Versailles, he can get Jourdain to pay his debts. Jourdain’s dreams of being upper-class go higher and higher. He dreams of marrying a Marchioness, Dorimene, and having his daughter Lucille marry a nobleman. But Lucille is in love with the middle-class Cléonte. Of course, M. Jourdain refuses his permission for Lucille to marry Cléonte.

Then Cléonte, with the assistance of his valet Covielle and Mme Jourdain, disguises himself and presents himself to Jourdain as the son of the Sultan of Turkey. Jourdain is taken in and is very pleased to have his daughter marry foreign royalty. He is even more delighted when the “Turkish prince” informs him that, as father of the bride, he too will be officially ennobled at a special ceremony. The play ends with this ridiculous ceremony, including Sabir standing in for Turkish.



Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière’s best known works are The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, Tartuffe, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and The Bourgeois Gentleman.

Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell’arte elements with the more refined French comedy.

Through the patronage of aristocrats including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans—the brother of Louis XIV—Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, The Doctor in Love, Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon near the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. Later, Molière was granted the use of the theatre in the Palais-Royal. In both locations he found success among Parisians with plays such as The Affected Ladies, The School for Husbands and The School for Wives. This royal favour brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title Troupe du Roi (“The King’s Troupe”). Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments.

Though he received the adulation of the court and Parisians, Molière’s satires attracted criticism from moralists and the Catholic Church. Tartuffe and its attack on perceived religious hypocrisy roundly received condemnations from the Church, while Don Juan was banned from performance. Molière’s hard work in so many theatrical capacities took its toll on his health and, by 1667, he was forced to take a break from the stage. In 1673, during a production of his final play, The Imaginary Invalid, Molière, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, was seized by a coughing fit and a haemorrhage while playing the hypochondriac Argan. He finished the performance but collapsed again and died a few hours later.

Molière was born in Paris, the son of Jean Poquelin and Marie Cressé, the daughter of a prosperous bourgeois family.
He lost his mother when he was ten and he did not seem to have been particularly close to his father. After his mother’s death, he lived with his father above the Pavillon des Singes on the rue Saint-Honoré, an affluent area of Paris. It is likely[citation needed] that his education commenced with studies in a Parisian elementary school; this was followed with his enrollment in the prestigious Jesuit Collège de Clermont, where he completed his studies in a strict academic environment and got a first taste of life on the stage.

In 1631, Jean Poquelin purchased from the court of Louis XIII the posts of “valet de chambre ordinaire et tapissier du Roi” (“valet of the King’s chamber and keeper of carpets and upholstery”). His son assumed the same posts in 1641.
The title required only three months’ work and an initial cost of 1,200 livres; the title paid 300 livres a year and provided a number of lucrative contracts. Poquelin also studied as a provincial lawyer some time around 1642, probably in Orléans, but it is not documented that he ever qualified. So far he had followed his father’s plans, which had served him well; he had mingled with nobility at the Collège de Clermont and seemed destined for a career in office. In June 1643, when Molière was 21, he decided to abandon his social class and pursue a career on the stage. Taking leave of his father, he joined the actress Madeleine Béjart, with whom he had crossed paths before, and founded the Illustre Théâtre with 630 livres. They were later joined by Madeleine’s brother and sister.

The new theatre troupe went bankrupt in 1645. Molière had become head of the troupe, due in part, perhaps, to his acting prowess and his legal training. However, the troupe had acquired large debts, mostly for the rent of the theatre (a court for jeu de paume), for which they owed 2000 livres. Historians differ as to whether his father or the lover of a member of his troupe paid his debts; either way, after a 24-hour stint in prison he returned to the acting circuit. It was at this time that he began to use the pseudonym Molière, possibly inspired by a small village of the same name in the Midi near Le Vigan. It was also likely that he changed his name to spare his father the shame of having an actor in the family (actors, although no longer vilified by the state under Louis XIV, were still not allowed to be buried in sacred ground).
After his imprisonment, he and Madeleine began a theatrical circuit of the provinces with a new theatre troupe; this life was to last about twelve years, during which he initially played in the company of Charles Dufresne, and subsequently created a company of his own, which had sufficient success and obtained the patronage of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans. Few plays survive from this period. The most noteworthy are L’Étourdi, ou le Contretemps (The Bungler) and Le Docteur Amoureux (The Doctor in Love); with these two plays, Molière moved away from the heavy influence of the Italian improvisational Commedia dell’arte, and displayed his talent for mockery. In the course of his travels he met Armand, Prince of Conti, the governor of Languedoc, who became his patron, and named his company after him. This friendship later ended when Conti, having contracted syphilis from a courtesan, turned towards religion and joined Molière’s enemies in the Parti des Dévots and the Compagnie de Saint Sacrement.

In Lyon, Mademoiselle Du Parc, known as Marquise, joined the company. Marquise was courted, in vain, by Pierre Corneille and later became the lover of Jean Racine. Racine offered Molière his tragedy Théagène et Chariclée (one of the first works he wrote after he had abandoned his theology studies), but Molière would not perform it, though he encouraged Racine to pursue his artistic career. It is said that soon thereafter Molière became angry with Racine when he was told that he had secretly presented his tragedy to the company of the Hôtel de Bourgogne as well.

Molière was forced to reach Paris in stages, staying outside for a few weeks in order to promote himself with society gentlemen and allow his reputation to feed in to Paris. Molière reached Paris in 1658 and performed in front of the King at the Louvre (then for rent as a theatre) in Corneille’s tragedy Nicomède and in the farce Le Docteur Amoureux with some success. He was awarded the title of Troupe de Monsieur (Monsieur being the honorific for the king’s brother Philippe I, Duke of Orléans). With the help of Monsieur, his company was allowed to share the theatre in the large hall of the Petit-Bourbon with the famous Italian Commedia dell’arte company of Tiberio Fiorillo, famous for his character of Scaramouche. (The two companies performed in the theatre on different nights.) The premiere of Molière’s Les Précieuses Ridicules (The Affected Young Ladies) took place at the Petit-Bourbon on 18 November 1659.

Les Précieuses Ridicules was the first of Molière’s many attempts to satirize certain societal mannerisms and affectations then common in France. It is widely accepted that the plot was based on Samuel Chappuzeau’s Le Cercle des Femmes of 1656. He primarily mocks the Académie Française, a group created by Richelieu under a royal patent to establish the rules of the fledgling French theater. The Académie preached unity of time, action, and styles of verse. Molière is often associated with the claim that comedy castigat ridendo mores or “criticises customs through humour” (a phrase in fact coined by his contemporary Jean de Santeuil and sometimes mistaken for a classical Latin

Molière suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, possibly contracted when he was imprisoned for debt as a young man. One of the most famous moments in Molière’s life was his last, which became legend: he collapsed on stage in a fit of coughing and haemorrhaging while performing in the last play he’d written, which had lavish ballets performed to the music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier and which ironically was entitled Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid). Molière insisted on completing his performance. Afterwards he collapsed again with another, larger haemorrhage before being taken home, where he died a few hours later, without receiving the last rites because two priests refused to visit him while a third arrived too late. The superstition that green brings bad luck to actors is said to originate from the colour of the clothing he was wearing at the time of his death.

Under French law at the time, actors were not allowed to be buried in the sacred ground of a cemetery. However, Molière’s widow, Armande, asked the King if her spouse could be granted a normal funeral at night. The King agreed and Molière’s body was buried in the part of the cemetery reserved for unbaptised infants.

In 1792 his remains were brought to the museum of French monuments and in 1817 transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, close to those of La Fontaine.

A Poem on His Birthday

In the style of Dylan Thomas

John Bishop

The Field is lit with the darkness
Of a light cast by a torch with a dying battery
But the opposite of this is an uncertainty
Drifting static clouds hang
Faster yet faster still the corn does not grow
Beyond the height of a pig in a Mexican hat
The pig is reprieved and rolls towards another year
It will now be sixty three
And to be exact if the numbers add up
The night will not come again
Sun has burnt the poets head where before
The rain had flushed his heart
A fat pigeon looks down from his pole
And smiles at the foolish morning
The poet’s pain is sprayed away with
Chocolate and frozen jelly
The cottage holds no contentment
For it is dark and the dry roast spuds
Needed much extra salt
Stodgy Spotted Dick was had by four
Who if I live to celebrate eighty years
Will have long been roasted liver
Morris men danced
The band played on while a tiny trumpet boy
Collapsed from sunken lungs
The day came to a close
Just as it had not started
With sunshine and lemon cake
And a rum soaked Dylan Thomas paper cup

1st June 2014
A Poem on His Birthday II

John Bishop

The Field is blasted by a gale
Dull clouds huddle
Tractor lines carve the dancing green
High stress levels cause him to stare
the corn has different levels of growth
He removes it inch by inch
He gathers it in buckets its ready to leave
sixty four is the next goal
the noise of the wind has the poets head in a spin
The rain has again flushed his heart
The Magpie the Jackdaw
and the Rook look down from the arch
that Sue has placed in the garden
The poet’s mind is focused on lessons
lessons he must deliver
red velvet cake has slowed him down
the tracks to that lead to Alcester  are orange
And must be passed by to reach lamination
Mick and Brenda argue the toss
On when the bank will be visited
As Doctor John checks out the patient
Richard texted an unknown friend

June 1st 2015

George Eliot or

 Oliver Richard Bishop

I guess it’s just a natural cycle of things?
Even so it creates a flutter in my heart
Goodness knows what flutters it creates in yours?
I hope your shoulders do not shrug it all away
All to quickly the future comes.
One minute the child
Next minute the man
In the next moments a father, a grandfather
All competing in a race to stay the course
I cannot remain in the game
I see the future in a grainy image
It frightens me yet fills me with a pride
A pride that leaves me only showing it
In a mirror that is private and hidden
O child I know not what you are
Or what you will be
But this is going to happen I see that now
The next steps are already taken
They are small and delicate yet deliberate
If I could take your hand
And walk at your side
I would attempt to guide you
And try to keep you safe
The only way I know how
These words alone will meet your flying feet
Fleet of foot will carry the days into years
And when the last days appear they will fly
Faster than the rising sun and waning moon
The light dims and you too will see
That the cycle goes on and on
And you will dream dreams for us all

John Bish June 2nd 2016


Monaco 2 Spurs 1

Two goals early in the second half from Djibril Sidibe and and Thomas Lemar saw Monaco claim a 2-1 victory at Stade Louis II to end our involvement in this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Hugo Lloris put on another goalkeeping wonder-show on the continent, saving Radamel Falcao’s early penalty and somehow diverting Kamil Glik’s thumping close-range volley over the bar with a flailing arm as the Ligue 1 side looked to extend their advantage in the closing stages.


But his awesome resistance alone wasn’t enough for us as Sidibe headed home just after the interval with Monaco carrying over their attacking threat from the first period into the second.

And merely 38 seconds after Harry Kane hauled us back level from the penalty spot, Lemar angled one in from the left side to seal the win for the Group E leaders.

The result leaves us with four points from our five games in the competition and, although we could feasibly draw level with second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on matchday six on December 7, the German side would still progress on the head-to-head rule after their 1-0 win at Wembley earlier this month.



Sunday 20th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 21, 2016 by bishshat


Seahawks 26 Eagles 15

As they did in victories over Buffalo and New England the past two weeks, the Seahawks used a bevy of big plays on offense to beat the Eagles 26-15 Sunday at CenturyLink Field. They finished with a season-high 439 yards — the second consecutive week they gained a season high (420 last week against the Patriots).

Seattle had five plays of 20 yards or longer in the first half alone — consider that they had just two in five quarters at Arizona on Oct. 23 — in gaining 300 yards by halftime, also a season-best for a half. The Seahawks also finished with a season-high 15.1 yards per reception and have averaged 13.9 yards per reception or better in the past three games after averaging better than that just once in the first seven games (14.0 against a 49ers team that entered the weekend last in the NFL in total defense).


Seattle had averaged 12.9, 9.4 and 10.8 yards per reception in the three games before the breakout against Buffalo — with the 12.9 against the Saints buffeted by a 43-yard gain on a trick play from Tanner McEvoy to C.J. Prosise. Sunday, the Seahawks called another trick play — but this time it didn’t feel like a move made out of desperation. Instead, a 15-yard touchdown pass from Doug Baldwin to Wilson in the third quarter just seemed like a fitting capper to a day when Wilson showed he’s pretty much past the injuries of the first half of the season.

“It was fun, man,’’ said Baldwin, who had never thrown a pass in an NFL game. “I’ve been begging for that play for the past two or three weeks and they doubted my arm, doubted that I could make the throw. So I’m glad I got to prove them wrong. … I just kind of chucked it up there and Russell made it look pretty.’’ Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin talks about throwing a touchdown pass to Russell Wilson.
Wilson made a few other plays look pretty as well, such as when he spun away from danger and found Jimmy Graham, who then shook off Eagles’ safety Jaylen Watkins for a 35-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Or when he hit Baldwin and Tyler Lockett on consecutive passes of 44 and 30 yards in the second quarter.


Sunday, the Seahawks also added a few big running plays, the most obvious the 72-yard touchdown run by Prosise in the first quarter (though the fact Prosise will be out a while with a shoulder injury served as the one figurative dark cloud Sunday).
Reflecting on Seattle’s sudden proficiency at big plays, Carroll said: “Everything has shifted. You’ve seen us make shifts in the past. This is one of those big shifts for us. It’s really exciting to see. We feel very aggressive.’’
Recall that the Seahawks shifted a year ago at midseason to an offense featuring more quick-hitting passes and empty sets to try to mitigate the offensive line issues and take advantage of Wilson’s maturation as a passer.


This year, the shift came in part to take advantage of maybe the best set of receivers Seattle has had in the Wilson era, as well as Wilson finally getting healthy.
“I think it’s the mentality,” Wilson said. “We’re being a little bit more aggressive. I think I can move a little bit more so I can extend the play a little bit if it’s not there.’’
Last year, Seattle rode the offensive shift to a 6-2 second half that got them into the playoffs. This year, Seattle has now won three in a row to take a three-game lead in the NFC West, with the only question about the postseason now appearing to be whether the Seahawks can overtake Dallas to get the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs come January.

As the offense has shifted, the defense — no longer forced to be on the field for an inordinate number of plays — has returned to form.
The Eagles had just one touchdown and 165 yards until tacking on a 66-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

Saturday 19th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 19, 2016 by bishshat

The Poetry Under My Bed.

I have seen a few paper crowned poets
And of late they appear on TV
They promote their own majesty somehow
Why the hell has this not happened to me?
I guess I’m not good at promotion
A bushel is hiding my pile
Of the paper that has all my scrawling
I was told was in doggerel style
I know it’s not Keats
I know it’s not Shelly
But neither are they
That shines on my telly
So I am going to stand up and read one
In a pub that’s not far from here
If the audience like what I read them
I hope they will give me a cheer
So maybe I will be on the telly?
Or on radios poetry please?
And be a poet in residence
In a field or even a shed
Or maybe I will just stay a dreamer
And leave them all under my bed


John Bish November 19th 2016

The Globe 24th November 2016

The Dolly on the Dustcart

I’m the dolly on the dustcart,
I can see you’re not impressed,
I’m fixed above the driver’s cab,
With wire across me chest,
The dustman see, he noticed me,
Going in the grinder,
And he fixed me on the lorry,
I dunno if that was kinder.

This used to be a lovely dress,
In pink and pretty shades,
But it’s torn now, being on the cart,
And black as the ace of spades,
There’s dirt all round me face,
And all across me rosy cheeks,
Well, I’ve had me head thrown back,
But we ain’t had no rain for weeks.

I used to be a ‘Mama’ doll,
Tipped forward, I’d say, ‘Mum’
But the rain got in me squeaker,
And now I been struck dumb,
I had two lovely blue eyes,
But out in the wind and weather,
One’s sunk back in me head like,
And one’s gone altogether.

I’m not a soft, flesh coloured dolly,
Modern children like so much,
I’m one of those hard old dollies,
What are very cold to touch,
Modern dolly’s underwear,
Leaves me a bit nonplussed,
I haven’t got a bra,
But then I haven’t got a bust!

But I was happy in that doll’s house,
I was happy as a Queen,
I never knew that Tiny Tears,
Was coming on the scene,
I heard of dolls with hair that grew,
And I was quite enthralled,
Until I realised my head
Was hard and pink… and bald.

So I travel with the rubbish,
Out of fashion, out of style,
Out of me environment,
For mile after mile,
No longer prized… dustbinised!
Unfeminine, Untidy,
I’m the dolly on the dustcart,
And there’s no collection Friday.

Pam Ayres

Oh, I wish I’d Looked After Me Teeth

Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth,
And spotted the dangers beneath
All the toffees I chewed,
And the sweet sticky food.
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

I wish I’d been that much more willin’
When I had more tooth there than fillin’
To give up gobstoppers,
From respect to me choppers,
And to buy something else with me shillin’.

When I think of the lollies I licked
And the liquorice allsorts I picked,
Sherbet dabs, big and little,
All that hard peanut brittle,
My conscience gets horribly pricked.

My mother, she told me no end,
‘If you got a tooth, you got a friend.’
I was young then, and careless,
My toothbrush was hairless,
I never had much time to spend.

Oh I showed them the toothpaste all right,
I flashed it about late at night,
But up-and-down brushin’
And pokin’ and fussin’
Didn’t seem worth the time – I could bite!

If I’d known I was paving the way
To cavities, caps and decay,
The murder of fillin’s,
Injections and drillin’s,
I’d have thrown all me sherbet away.

So I lie in the old dentist’s chair,
And I gaze up his nose in despair,
And his drill it do whine
In these molars of mine.
‘Two amalgam,’ he’ll say, ‘for in there.’

How I laughed at my mother’s false teeth,
As they foamed in the waters beneath.
But now comes the reckonin’
It’s methey are beckonin’
Oh, I wish I’d looked after me teeth.

Pam Ayres



Subversive and irreverent, Dada, more than any other movement, has shaken society’s notions of art and cultural production. Fiercely anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchical, Dada questioned the myth of originality, of the artist as genius suggesting instead that everybody should be an artist and that almost anything could be art. Surrealism, Constructivism, Lettrism, Situationism, Fluxus, Pop and OpArt, Conceptual Art and Minimalism: most twentieth-century art movements after 1923 have roots to Dada. Dada works still have a radicality and freshness that attracts today’s culture jammers and disrupters of life as usual.
Emerging during the crisis period of the First world war, Dada’s strategies of critiquing the dominant culture have been used by radical groups ever since. The Dada Cabaret was re-enacted by young German and Austrian writers and artists immediately after the Second World War, and Dada slogans were painted on buildings in Paris during the protests of 1968. Greil Marcus traces the connections between Dada, the Situationists and the Sex Pistols, suggesting that Dada was a model of revolt for these later movements. He quotes Henri Lefebvre, a close friend of the Situationists, who wrote: “To the degree that modernity has a meaning, it is this: it carries within itself, from the beginning, a radical negation – Dada, this event which took place in a Zurich café.” Similarly, Stuart Home, in his The Assault on Culture, points to the impact of Dada on Lettrism, Situationism, Punk and Neoism.
Dada artists and writers were among the first to intervene in mass media; indeed interventions made up much of their activity. They cut out reproductions of photographs in the daily press and critically recontextualized them. Walter Benjamin recognized the importance of Dada when he wrote in ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ that when authenticity ceases to be an important part of making art, “the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual it begins to be based on another practice, politics.” Dada photomonteurs rearranged the cultural and political myths propagated by the press. The Berlin Dadas even presented themselves as an advertising agency; they exploited the desire for sensationalism by feeding the mass media improbable and ridiculous stories.
Exhibitions, catalogues and books on twentieth-century art have generally presented Dada solely as an art movement, which they insert into Modernism’s evolution from Cubism to Italian Futurism, Russian Futurism, Expressionism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Dada is often described as a transitory phenomenon, as late German Expressionism, or as the preparatory phase for Surrealism or Constructivism.
Yet considering it as ending or initial stage assesses Dada in terms of those other movements: a study that describes Dada as a precursor of Surrealism emphasizes the proto-surrealist dimensions of Dada at the expense of other aspects of the movement. Dada writers and artists did have connections to earlier movements, and some joined other groups after 1923. But they changed their orientations during the cultural crisis of the First World War.


Hugo Ball  born 1886 in Pirmasens, Hugo Ball studied German literature, philosophy, and history at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg (1906-1907). In 1910, he moved to Berlin in order to become an actor and collaborated with Max Reinhardt and worked as a director and stage manager for various theater companies in Berlin, Plauen, and Munich. He also started writing, contributing to the expressionist journals Die Neue Kunst and Die Aktion, both of which, in style and in content, anticipated the format of later Dada journals. Soon after the outbreak of World War I he and Emmy Hennings, a cabaret singer whom he had met in Munich and whom he would marry in 1920, emigrated to Zurich, Switzerland. In February 1916 he founded the ‘Cabaret Voltaire’ in the Spiegelgasse. There he met with Hans Arp, Marcel Janco, Tristan Tzara, and later Richard Huelsenbeck and Walter Serner.

In July 1916 Ball left the Dada circle in Zurich in order to recuperate in the Swiss countryside. He returned in January 1917 to help organize Galerie Dada, an exhibition space that opened in March 1917. Events at the Galerie included lectures, performances, dances, weekend soirées, and tours of the exhibitions. Although Ball supported the educative goals of the Galerie, he was at odds with Tzara over Tzara’s ambition to make Dada into an international movement with a systematic doctrine. He left Zurich in May 1917 and did not again actively participate in Dada activities.
Hugo Ball died in Sant’ Abbondio, Switzerland, 14 September 1927.


Emmy Hennings born in 1885 Flensburg settled in Munich, where she became an intimate of the expressionist poets, playwrights, and novelists who populared Munich’s seedy Bohemian quarter and frequented the Café Simplizissimus singing popular cabaret songs and reciting her own poems as well as those written by friends. One of Hennings, lovers in Munich was Hugo Ball, whom she had met while singing at the Café Simpl, and whom she would later marry. In November 1914 Hennings joined Ball in Berlin, where she sang in a variety of restaurants and worked as an artist’s model. To escape the increasing nationalism Ball and Hennings left Berlin for Zurich in May 1915. They arrived completely destitute and lived on the assistance of Hennings’ literary friends until they found work with a vaudeville troupe. In 1916 the decided to start their own cabaret and on February 5, 1916 they opened the Cabarer Voltaire. At the Cabaret, Hennings was one of the star attractions. Her wide repertoire included popular songs from Denmark, Paris, and Berlin, Chinese ballads, folk songs and her own poems and poetry written by other dadaists. Hennings’ charisma as a performer and her previous cabaret experience contributed to the success of the venture. Hennings poems dealt with her life outside the safety provided by bourgeois propriety. Addressing such expressionist themes as loneliness, ecstasy, captivity, illness, and death. Hennings was able to reflect on her experiences: certain places – prisons, hospitals, cabarets, and the streets – and afflictions – prostitution and drug addiction – recur again and again. Several of her poems, though not strictly dadaist in form or content, were published in Dada magazines. Hennings rarely discussed her early life subsequent to her intense conversion to Catholicism in 1920, preferring instead to emphasize her piety and her devotion to Ball. After he died in 1927, she provided his life with a similar trajectory consistently portraying his intellectualism as a search for the absolute, which found its rightful home in Catholicism, and slighting his time with Dada as a youthful misadventure. Emmy Hennings died in Tessin in 1948.


The Cabaret Voltaire

A somewhat unexpected announcement appeared in the Zurich press on 2 February 1916: “The Cabaret Voltaire. Under this name a group of young artists and writers has formed with the object of becoming a center for artistic entertainment. In principle, the Cabaret will be run by artists, permanent guests, who, following their daily reunions, will give musical or literary performances. Young Zurich artists, of all tendencies, are invited to join us with suggestions and proposals.” [Hugo Ball, La fuite hors du temps ([1946], 1993) 111].
When Hugo Ball, a German poet and playwright, exiled in Switzerland since 1915, wrote these words he couldn’t have imagined they would spearhead an adventure that would cross national borders. The Cabaret was inaugurated three days later in the back room of the Holländische Meierei, a popular tavern located in a seedy section of Zurich. Jan Ephraïm, the owner of the establishment, turned the job of emcee over to Ball with the hope of attracting a large audience. Ball took as his model the Parisian cabaret tradition, born with the Chat Noir in 1881, which he associated with the cabaret spirit that had existed in Berlin before the war. For him, no one other than the emblematic figure of Voltaire could play the role of godfather for his association. It was from the pamphleteer and master of satire that he drew his vision of a reality radically out of step with its time.
Refugee artists from all over Europe quickly besieged the scene at the establishment. Emmy Hennings, a German singer and Hugo Ball’s partner, sang her own songs as well as many from the repertoires of Aristide Bruant, Erich Mühsam and Frank Wedekind. Those individuals, who were to become the “hard core” of Dada, were present from the beginning of the Cabaret: the Alsatian artist, Hans Arp and the Romanians Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco. Richard Huelsenbeck joined the festivities on 11 February 1916 at the behest of Ball, who had met him in Munich in 1912 in connection to the Der Blaue Reiter group.

Opening of the 1st International Dada fair in the bookshop of the Dr. Burchard in Berlintumblr_lz1obgj1fm1r9j6pro1_1280
A spirit of negation and mockery soon took over, making the Cabaret Voltaire the scene of all excess. Huelsenbeck described it from the outset as “a center for the newest art,” hosting poets, musicians and artists of all types [Richard Huelsenbeck, En avant Dada ([1920], 1983) 10]. Each evening included a succession of spectacles of all types: dances, modern songs, plays, a balalaika orchestra, etc. The French or Russian evenings were occasions for readings by Tzara of poems by Max Jacob and Jules Laforgue, or extracts of Ubu Roi read by Arp, as well as texts by Ivan Turgenev and Anton Chekhov. Sometimes, 20 people in the style of the Futurist manifestos, read manifestos ut loud simultaneously. All who wished to do so – artists or others – took part in the performances, which were presented to the cheerful audiences, mainly composed of students and middleclass people. Marcel Janco evoked the presence of Lenin, who lived at No. 12 Spielgasse, not far from the Cabaret, which was situated at No 1.
Works by the artists who frequented the establishment – Arp, Janco, Viking Eggeling, Otto van Rees and Marcel Slodki, as well as those of Pablo Picasso and Elie Nadelman, plus the map-poems of the Futurists Filippo Marinetti, Francesco Cangiullo and Paolo Buzzi – were exhibited in the same space. All the arts (poetry, dance, music and painting) were brought together to create “a complete work of art,” [Hugo Ball, La fuite hors du temps ([1946], 1993) 35], which associated visual, aural and tactual effects into a unit capable of eliciting strong sensations from the spectator. Ball borrowed the idea of the complete work of art from Kandinsky, corrupting it by adding humor and disorder. At the Cabaret, artists engaged in childish behavior as a reaction to the intellectualism that had been responsible for the war. Hiding behind this apparent regression were various attempts at innovation in language and the visual arts. The artists were in search of an elementary art that was a direct expression of life.
They developed an abstract art that accorded primary importance to materials, to the detriment of representation. Ball composed a phonetic poem, Karawane, which played with sounds and phonemes and was completely void of meaning. In its pre-language role, the poem does not refer to a conscious process, but to an unreality that is somewhat pre-conscious. The poet thus expresses his refusal of all logical discourse seeking to renounce a “language corrupted by journalism.” [Hugo Ball, La fuite hors du temps ([1946], 1993) 146]. On 23 June 1916, Ball recited Karawane dressed in a suit he created. He metamorphosed himself into a shaman to accomplish what resembled a ritual.
The staging or mise-en-scène proved to be of elemental importance to the Dada spectacles that often used costumes and masks – inspired by the so-called ‘primitive’ peoples of Africa and Oceania – such as those made by Sophie Taeuber and Marcel Janco. For wearing a mask, the person was able to overcome inhibitions and communicate with the audience in a more direct way, dancing and chanting. Influenced by these references, Tzara, Janco and Huelsenbeck composed a simultaneous poem in French, English and German to profit from the disturbing qualities of cacophony. L’Amiral cherche une maison à louer was performed in March 1916, along with a whistle, a big box and castanets serving as sound accompaniment.
It is once more Ball who described the subversive nature of their activities: “The cultural and artistic ideals – taken as a music hall program – are our way of doing ‘Candide’ against the times.” [Hugo Ball, La fuite hors du temps ([1946], 1993) 139]. By adopting the character of Candide, the artists undertook a coming-of-age journey to the heart of creation so as to reveal its ludicrous nature. They claimed madness and illusion and consumed it in an enormous burst of laughter. Emil Szittya, a contemporary close to the Zurich Dada milieu, described their laughter as “laughter-spit,” thus putting an emphasis on its paradoxical violence [Emile Szittya, ‘Tristan Tzara’ in Tristan Tzara, dompteur des acrobates (1992).

In May 1916 the magazine Cabaret Voltaire appeared, edited both in French and German. Ball saw in it the first synthesis of modern artistic and literary movements. In 32 pages, it brought together never before seen pieces, as well as artist’s works and poems already presented at the Cabaret. It included a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire, texts by Kandinsky, Parole in libertà by Marinetti, the reproduction of a poster by Janco and a drawing by Arp (on the cover). With a print run of 500 copies, the magazine allowed the artists [p. 58] to reach a larger public. Ball and Tzara took the opportunity to announce the future publication of a magazine entitled Dada. Thus the word ‘Dada’ – whose paternity is claimed by several of them – appeared for the first time. In addition, they wanted to establish a Societé Voltaire and organize an “international exhibition”.
In spite of the effervescence of its projects, the Cabaret closed it doors in early July 1916. The soirées would continue to take place in the Zur Waag hall, and later at the Galerie Dada, an initiative of Tristan Tzara.
Through their telling, the Dada artists would create a myth around the Cabaret. In Arp’s writing, the protagonists in Janco’s painting Le Cabaret Voltaire take on the traits of “fantastic characters” straight out of a story from the Thousand and One Nights or from a gathering of wizards [Jean Arp, Jours effeuillés (1966) 308]. The Cabaret Voltaire surrounded itself with a magical aura that gave it a utopian dimension. It is a sort of non-place, void of conflict, where all experiences were possible. That which was only supposed to be a “center for artistic entertainment,” little by little gave way to the emergence of a movement of international proportions, which laid the foundation for a new aesthetic – in spite of the refusal on the part of some members to become a school.


Spurs 3 West Ham 2

Harry Kane scored twice in three minutes to produce an incredible late turnaround as we defeated West Ham United 3-2 at the Lane on Saturday to preserve our unbeaten run in the Premier League this season. Trailing 2-1 in the closing stages, the England striker tucked home an 89th-minute goal which looked like it had salvaged a point, only for Heung-Min Son to win a penalty in stoppage time and Kane blasted the winner past Darren Randolph to cap a crazy comeback. The headline looked like it was going to be a goal for Academy graduate Harry Winks on his first Premier League start, the 20-year-old converting from close range early in the second half to level the scores after Michail Antonio had given the Hammers a 24th-minute lead against the run of play.


Winks’ goal lifted our performance and we seemed the most likely side to grab the winning goal, but instead it was the visitors who scored it, Manuel Lanzini netting from the penalty spot on 68 minutes after Vincent Janssen was adjudged to have fouled Winston Reid. However, it was another Harry who stole the show, Kane’s late double making it 17 goals in his last 16 London derbies and securing a dramatic three points.


Friday 18th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 18, 2016 by bishshat


Gonna Make You A Star

David Essex

Oh is he more, too much more, than a pretty face?
It’s so strange the way he talking – it’s a disgrace

Well I know I’ve been out of style
For a short while
But I don’t care how cold you are
I’m coming home soon
I’m gonna make you a star
Yeah yeah

Well he say he’s into his music but I don’t believe it
He just doesn’t seem to understand the rock media

Well I know I’m not super hip
And I’m liable to take a slip
But I don’t care how cold you are
I’m coming home soon
I’m gonna make you a star
Yeah yeah

We gonna make you a star
We gonna make you a star

Oh is he more, too much more, than a pretty face?
(I don’t think so)
It’s so strange the way he talking – it’s a disgrace

Well I know I’ve been out of style
For a short while
But you see I don’t care how cold you are
I’m coming home soon
I’m gonna make you a star
Yeah yeah

We gonna make you a star
We gonna make you a star
We gonna make you a star
We gonna make you a star



Solipsism from Latin solus, meaning “alone”, and ipse, meaning “self”) is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside of the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.

There are varying degrees of solipsism that parallel the varying degrees of serious skepticism

Metaphysical solipsism
Main article: Metaphysical solipsism
Metaphysical solipsism is a variety of solipsism. Based on a philosophy of subjective idealism, metaphysical solipsists maintain that the self is the only existing reality and that all other reality, including the external world and other persons, are representations of that self, and have no independent existence.[citation needed] There are weaker[citation needed] versions of metaphysical solipsism, such as Caspar Hare’s egocentric presentism (or perspectival realism), in which other people are conscious but their experiences are simply not present.

Epistemological solipsism
Epistemological solipsism is the variety of idealism according to which only the directly accessible mental contents of the solipsistic philosopher can be known. The existence of an external world is regarded as an unresolvable question rather than actually false.

Epistemological solipsists claim that realism requires the question: assuming that there is a universe independent of an agent’s mind and knowable only through the agent’s senses, how is the existence of this independent universe to be scientifically studied? If a person sets up a camera to photograph the moon when he is not looking at it, then at best he determines that there is an image of the moon in the camera when he eventually looks at it. Logically, this does not assure that the moon itself (or even the camera) existed at the time the photograph is supposed to have been taken. To establish that it is an image of an independent moon requires many other assumptions that amount to begging the question

Methodological solipsism
MMethodological solipsism is an agnostic variant of solipsism[citation needed]. It exists in opposition to the strict epistemological requirements for “Knowledge” (e.g. the requirement that knowledge must be certain). It still entertains the points that any induction is fallible and that we may be brains in vats[citation needed]. Methodological solipsism sometimes goes even further to say that even what we perceive as the brain is actually part of the external world, for it is only through our senses that we can see or feel the mind. Only the existence of thoughts is known for certain.

Importantly, methodological solipsists do not intend to conclude that the stronger forms of solipsism are actually true. They simply emphasize that justifications of an external world must be founded on indisputable facts about their own consciousness. The methodological solipsist believes that subjective impressions (Empiricism) or innate knowledge (Rationalism) are the sole possible or proper starting point for philosophical construction (Wood, 295). Often methodological solipsism is not held as a belief system, but rather used as a thought experiment to assist skepticism (e.g. Descartes’ cartesian skepticism).

Main points
Denial of materialistic existence, in itself, does not constitute solipsism.

A feature of the metaphysical solipsistic worldview is the denial of the existence of other minds. Since personal experiences are private and ineffable, another being’s experience can be known only by analogy.

Philosophers try to build knowledge on more than an inference or analogy. The failure of Descartes’ epistemological enterprise brought to popularity the idea that all certain knowledge may go no further than “I think; therefore I exist” without providing any real details about the nature of the “I” that has been proven to exist.

The theory of solipsism also merits close examination because it relates to three widely held philosophical presuppositions, each itself fundamental and wide-ranging in importance:

My most certain knowledge is the content of my own mind—my thoughts, experiences, affects, etc.
There is no conceptual or logically necessary link between mental and physical—between, say, the occurrence of certain conscious experience or mental states and the ‘possession’ and behavioral dispositions of a ‘body’ of a particular kind (see the brain in a vat).

The experience of a given person is necessarily private to that person.

Gorgias of Leontini
Solipsism was first recorded by the Greek presocratic sophist, Gorgias (c. 483–375 BC) who is quoted by the Roman skeptic Sextus Empiricus as having stated:

Nothing exists.
Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it.
Even if something could be known about it, knowledge about it can’t be communicated to others.
Much of the point of the Sophists was to show that “objective” knowledge was a literal impossibility. (See also comments credited to Protagoras of Abdera).

René Descartes. Portrait by Frans Hals, 1648.
The foundations of solipsism are in turn the foundations of the view that the individual’s understanding of any and all psychological concepts (thinking, willing, perceiving, etc.) is accomplished by making analogy with his or her own mental states; i.e., by abstraction from inner experience. And this view, or some variant of it, has been influential in philosophy since Descartes elevated the search for incontrovertible certainty to the status of the primary goal of epistemology, whilst also elevating epistemology to “first philosophy”.

George Berkeley’s arguments against materialism in favour of idealism provide the solipsist with a number of arguments not found in Descartes. While Descartes defends ontological dualism, thus accepting the existence of a material world (res extensa) as well as immaterial minds (res cogitans) and God, Berkeley denies the existence of matter but not minds, of which God is one.

Psychology and psychiatry
Solipsism is often introduced in the context of relating it to pathological psychological conditions.[citation needed] Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud stated that other minds are not known, but only inferred to exist. He stated “consciousness makes each of us aware only of his own states of mind; that other people, too, possess a consciousness is an inference which we draw by analogy from their observable utterances and actions, in order to make this behavior of theirs intelligible to us. (It would no doubt be psychologically more correct to put it in this way: that without any special reflection we attribute to everyone else our own constitution and therefore our consciousness as well, and that this identification is a sine qua non of understanding).”

Solipsism syndrome
Solipsism syndrome is a dissociative mental state. It is only incidentally related to philosophical solipsism. The lack of ability to prove the existence of other minds does not, in itself, cause the psychiatric condition of detachment from reality.

Infant solipsism
Some developmental psychologists believe that infants are solipsist, and that eventually children infer that others have experiences much like theirs and reject solipsism

To discuss consequences clearly, an alternative is required: solipsism as opposed to what? Solipsism is opposed to all forms of realism and many forms of idealism (insofar as they claim that there is something outside the idealist’s mind, which is itself another mind, or mental in nature). Realism in a minimal sense, that there is an external universe is most likely not observationally distinct from solipsism. The objections to solipsism therefore have a theoretical rather than an empirical thrust.

Solipsists may view their own pro-social behaviors as having a more solid foundation than the incoherent pro-sociality of other philosophies. Indeed, they may be more pro-social because they view other individuals as actually being a part of themselves. Furthermore, the joy and suffering arising from empathy is just as real as the joy and suffering arising from physical sensation. They view their own existence as human beings to be just as speculative as the existence of anyone else as a human being. Epistemological solipsists may argue that these philosophical distinctions are irrelevant since the professed pro-social knowledge of others is an illusion.

The British philosopher Alan Watts wrote extensively about this subject.

Relation to other ideas
Idealism and materialism
One of the most fundamental debates in philosophy concerns the “true” nature of the world—whether it is some ethereal plane of ideas, or a reality of atomic particles and energy. Materialism[8] posits a real ‘world out there,’ as well as in and through us, that can be sensed—seen, heard, tasted, touched and felt, sometimes with prosthetic technologies corresponding to human sensing organs. (Materialists do not claim that human senses or even their prosthetics can, even when collected, sense the totality of the ‘universe’; simply that what they collectively cannot sense cannot in any way be known to us.)

Materialists do not find this a useful way of thinking about the ontology and ontogeny of ideas, but we might say that from a materialist perspective pushed to a logical extreme communicable to an idealist (an “Away Team” perspective), ideas are ultimately reducible to a physically communicated, organically, socially and environmentally embedded ‘brain state’. While reflexive existence is not considered by materialists to be experienced on the atomic level, the individual’s physical and mental experiences are ultimately reducible to the unique tripartite combination of environmentally determined, genetically determined, and randomly determined interactions of firing neurons and atomic collisions.

As a correlative, the only thing that dreams and hallucinations prove are that some neurons can reorganize and ‘clean house’ ‘on break’ (often reforming around emergent, prominent or uncanny cultural themes), misfire, and malfunction. But for materialists, ideas have no primary reality as essences separate from our physical existence. From a materialist “Home Team” perspective, ideas are also social (rather than purely biological), and formed and transmitted and modified through the interactions between social organisms and their social and physical environments. This materialist perspective informs scientific methodology, insofar as that methodology assumes that humans have no access to omniscience and that therefore human knowledge is an ongoing, collective enterprise that is best produced via scientific and logical conventions adjusted specifically for material human capacities and limitations.

Modern Idealists, on the other hand, believe that the mind and its thoughts are the only true things that exist. This is the reverse of what is sometimes called classical idealism or, somewhat confusingly, Platonic idealism due to the influence of Plato’s Theory of Forms (εἶδος eidos or ἰδέα idea) which were not products of our thinking.[9] The material world is ephemeral, but a perfect triangle or “beauty” is eternal. Religious thinking tends to be some form of idealism, as God usually becomes the highest ideal (such as Neoplatonism). On this scale, solipsism can be classed as idealism. Thoughts and concepts are all that exist, and furthermore, only the solipsist’s own thoughts and consciousness exist. The so-called “reality” is nothing more than an idea that the solipsist has (perhaps unconsciously) created.

Cartesian dualism
There is another option: the belief that both ideals and “reality” exist. Dualists commonly argue that the distinction between the mind (or ‘ideas’) and matter can be proven by employing Leibniz’ principle of the identity of indiscernibles which states that if two things share all exactly the same qualities, then they must be identical, as in indistinguishable from each other and therefore one and the same thing. Dualists then attempt to identify attributes of mind that are lacked by matter (such as privacy or intentionality) or vice versa (such as having a certain temperature or electrical charge). One notable application of the identity of indiscernibles was by René Descartes in his Meditations on First Philosophy. Descartes concluded that he could not doubt the existence of himself (the famous cogito ergo sum argument), but that he could doubt the (separate) existence of his body. From this he inferred that the person Descartes must not be identical to the Descartes body, since one possessed a characteristic that the other did not: namely, it could be known to exist. Solipsism agrees with Descartes in this aspect, and goes further: only things that can be known to exist for sure should be considered to exist. The Descartes body could only exist as an idea in the mind of the person Descartes. Descartes and dualism aim to prove the actual existence of reality as opposed to a phantom existence (as well as the existence of God in Descartes’ case), using the realm of ideas merely as a starting point, but solipsism usually finds those further arguments unconvincing. The solipsist instead proposes that his/her own unconscious is the author of all seemingly “external” events from “reality”.

Arthur Schopenhauer
The World as Will and Representation is the central work of Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer saw the human will as our one window to the world behind the representation, the Kantian thing-in-itself. He believed, therefore, that we could gain knowledge about the thing-in-itself, something Kant said was impossible, since the rest of the relationship between representation and thing-in-itself could be understood by analogy to the relationship between human will and human body.

Radical empiricism
The idealist philosopher George Berkeley argued that physical objects do not exist independently of the mind that perceives them. An item truly exists only as long as it is observed; otherwise, it is not only meaningless, but simply nonexistent. The observer and the observed are one. Berkeley does attempt to show things can and do exist apart from the human mind and our perception, but only because there is an all-encompassing Mind in which all “ideas” are perceived – in other words, God, who observes all. Solipsism agrees that nothing exists outside of perception, but would argue that Berkeley falls prey to the egocentric predicament – he can only make his own observations, and thus cannot be truly sure that this God or other people exist to observe “reality”. The solipsist would say it is better to disregard the unreliable observations of alleged other people and rely upon the immediate certainty of one’s own perceptions.

Rationalism is the philosophical position that truth is best discovered by the use of reasoning and logic rather than by the use of the senses (see Plato’s theory of Forms). Solipsism is also skeptical of sense-data.

Philosophical Zombie
The theory of solipsism crosses over with the theory of the philosophical zombie in that all other seemingly conscious beings actually lack true consciousness, instead they only display traits of consciousness to the observer, who is the only conscious being there is.

Falsifiability and testability
Solipsism is not a falsifiable hypothesis as described by Karl Popper or Imre Lakatos: there does not seem to be an imaginable disproof.

One critical test is nevertheless to consider the induction from experience that the externally observable world does not seem, at first approach, to be directly manipulable purely by mental energies alone. One can indirectly manipulate the world through the medium of the physical body, but it seems impossible to do so through pure thought (e.g. via psychokinesis). It might be argued that if the external world were merely a construct of a single consciousness, i.e. the self, it could then follow that the external world should be somehow directly manipulable by that consciousness, and if it is not, then solipsism is false. An argument against this states the notion that such manipulation may be possible but barred from the conscious self via the subconscious self, a ‘locked’ portion of the mind that is still nevertheless the same mind. Lucid dreaming might be considered an example of when these locked portions of the subconscious become accessible. An argument against this might be brought up in asking why the subconscious of the mind would be locked, also the access, to the autonomous (‘locked’) portions of the mind during the lucid dreaming, is obviously much different (for instance: is relatively more transient) than the access to autonomous regions of the perceived nature.

The method of the typical scientist is materialist: they first assume that the external world exists and can be known. But the scientific method, in the sense of a predict-observe-modify loop, does not require the assumption of an external world. A solipsist may perform a psychological test on themselves, to discern the nature of the reality in their mind – however David Deutsch uses this fact to counter-argue: “outer parts” of solipsist, behave independently so they are independent for “narrowly” defined (conscious) self. A solipsist’s investigations may not be proper science, however, since it would not include the co-operative and communitarian aspects of scientific inquiry that normally serve to diminish bias.

Solipsism is a form of logical minimalism. Many people are intuitively unconvinced of the nonexistence of the external world from the basic arguments of solipsism, but a solid proof of its existence is not available at present. The central assertion of solipsism rests on the nonexistence of such a proof, and strong solipsism (as opposed to weak solipsism) asserts that no such proof can be made. In this sense, solipsism is logically related to agnosticism in religion: the distinction between believing you do not know, and believing you could not have known.

However, minimality (or parsimony) is not the only logical virtue. A common misapprehension of Occam’s Razor has it that the simpler theory is always the best. In fact, the principle is that the simpler of two theories of equal explanatory power is to be preferred. In other words: additional “entities” can pay their way with enhanced explanatory power. So the realist can claim that, while his world view is more complex, it is more satisfying as an explanation.

Many ancient Indian philosophies[which?] advocate the notion that all matter (and thus humans) is subtly interconnected with not only one’s immediate surroundings, but with everything in the universe. They[who?] claim that the perception of absolutely independent beings and things is an illusion that leads to confusion and dissatisfaction—Saṃsāra. The solipsist, however, would be more likely to put one’s self (or merely their own mind) in the center, as the only item of reality, with all other beings (and perhaps even their own body) in reality illusions.

Eastern philosophies
Some solipsists believe that some tenets of eastern philosophies are similar to solipsism. Taoism[citation needed] and several interpretations of Buddhism, especially Zen, teach that the distinction between self and universe is arbitrary, merely a habit of perception and an artifact of language. This view identifies the unity of self and universe as the ultimate reality. Zen holds that each individual has ‘Buddha Mind’: an all-pervading awareness that fills their entire existence, including the ‘external’ world. This need not imply that one’s mind is all that exists, as with solipsism, but rather that the distinction between “I am” and “it is” is ultimately unnecessary, and a burden that, paradoxically, gives rise to an illusory sense of permanence and independence—that “separate” self which suffers and dies. In this sense, Zen reflects Meister Eckhart’s “The eye with which I see God is the same with which God sees me. My eye and God’s eye is one eye, and one sight, and one knowledge, and one love.” Zen works across both divisions of inside “me” and outside “me”, with meditation practice unraveling the notion of binary oppositions, which ultimately are seen as the source of any “problem” of solipsism.

The earliest reference to Solipsism in Hindu philosophy is found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, dated to early 1st millennium BCE. The Upanishad holds the mind to be the only god and all actions in the universe are thought to be a result of the mind assuming infinite forms. After the development of distinct schools of Indian philosophy, Advaita Vedanta and Samkhya schools are thought to have originated concepts similar to solipsism.

Advaita Vedanta
Advaita is one of the six most known Hindu philosophical systems, and literally means “non-duality”. Its first great consolidator was Adi Shankaracharya, who continued the work of some of the Upanishadic teachers, and that of his teacher’s teacher Gaudapada. By using various arguments, such as the analysis of the three states of experience—wakefulness, dream, and deep sleep, he established the singular reality of Brahman, in which Brahman, the universe and the Atman or the Self, were one and the same.

One who sees everything as nothing but the Self, and the Self in everything one sees, such a seer withdraws from nothing. For the enlightened, all that exists is nothing but the Self, so how could any suffering or delusion continue for those who know this oneness?

The concept of the Self in the philosophy of Advaita, could be interpreted as solipsism. However, the transhuman, theological implications of the Self in Advaita protect it from true solipsism as is found in the west. Similarly, the Vedantic text Yogavasistha, escapes charge of solipsism because the real “I” is thought to be nothing but the absolute whole looked at through a particular unique point of interest.

Advaita is also thought to strongly diverge from solipsism in that, the former is a system of exploration of one’s mind in order to finally understand the nature of the self and attain complete knowledge. The unity of existence is said to be directly experienced and understood at the end as a part of complete knowledge. On the other hand, solipsism posits the non-existence of the external void right at the beginning, and says that no further inquiry is possible.

Samkhya and Yoga
Samkhya philosophy, which is sometimes seen as the basis of Yogic thought,
adopts a view that matter exists independently of individual minds. Representation of an object in an individual mind is held to be a mental approximation of the object in the external world. Therefore, Samkhya chooses representational realism over epistemological solipsism. Having established this distinction between the external world and the mind, Samkhya posits the existence of two metaphysical realities Prakriti (matter) and Purusha (consciousness).

Some interpretations of Buddhism assert that external reality is an illusion, and sometimes this position is misunderstood as metaphysical solipsism. Buddhist philosophy, though, generally holds that the mind and external phenomena are both equally transient, and that they arise from each other. The mind cannot exist without external phenomena, nor can external phenomena exist without the mind. This relation is known as “dependent arising” (pratityasamutpada).

The Buddha stated, “Within this fathom long body is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world”.
Whilst not rejecting the occurrence of external phenomena, the Buddha focused on the illusion created within the mind of the perceiver by the process of ascribing permanence to impermanent phenomena, satisfaction to unsatisfying experiences, and a sense of reality to things that were effectively insubstantial.

Mahayana Buddhism also challenges as illusion the idea that one can experience an ‘objective’ reality independent of individual perceiving minds.

From the standpoint of Prasangika (a branch of Madhyamaka thought), external objects do exist, but are devoid of any type of inherent identity: “Just as objects of mind do not exist [inherently], mind also does not exist [inherently) In other words, even though a chair may physically exist, individuals can only experience it through the medium of their own mind, each with their own literal point of view. Therefore, an independent, purely ‘objective’ reality could never be experienced.

The Yogacara (sometimes translated as “Mind only”) school of Buddhist philosophy contends that all human experience is constructed by mind. Some later representatives of one Yogacara subschool (Prajnakaragupta, Ratnakīrti) propounded a form of idealism that has been interpreted as solipsism. A view of this sort is contained in the 11th-century treatise of Ratnakirti, “Refutation of the existence of other minds” (Santanantara dusana), which provides a philosophical refutation of external mindstreams from the Buddhist standpoint of ultimate truth (as distinct from the perspective of everyday reality).

In addition to this, the Bardo Thodol, Tibet’s famous book of the dead, repeatedly states that all of reality is a figment of one’s perception, although this occurs within the “Bardo” realm (post-mortem). The purpose of the Bardo Thodol, however, is to bring awareness of the transience, impermanence, and inexistence of reality even when one is living, and can therefore be said to represent solipsism in an indirect way. For instance, within the sixth part of section titled “The Root Verses of the Six Bardos”, there appears the following line: “May I recognize whatever appeareth as being mine own thought-forms”; there are many lines in similar ideal.

Thursday 17th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 17, 2016 by bishshat


Wednesday 16th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 16, 2016 by bishshat


The Boy Who Bit Picasso

The Boy Who Bit Picasso came to Compton Verney today and I was lucky enough to witness a performance with year 2 from Wellesbourne School.

The Boy Who Bit Picasso tells the true story of Antony Penrose the son of the photographer Lee Miller and the painter and writer Roland Penrose
We had loads of fun, making crazy pictures and hearing the true story of how a young boy became friends with one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

With storytelling, music and lots of chances to make art, this was a funny and informative show and it was just the ticket for a school visit.
The young students saw some of Picasso’s art in a gallery had a go at making some of their own art and even met the great man himself.

The play is based around the book written by Tony Penrose, The Boy Who Bit Picasso. Picasso came to stay with Tony’s family on a farm in England.

Tony took Picasso to see William, a bull who was on the farm, and he was most impressed.” The encounter with William led to a bullfighting game that turned feral.

Tony would form his hands into horns and charge the artist, who held his jacket like a matador. At the last moment Picasso would whip the cape aside and Antony would crash into the wall. Eventually he tired of the game, and bit Picasso on the arm. The artist whipped around with surprising speed, and bit the child on the wrist.

Tony and his family also went to stay with Picasso in the south of France and the short story and performance include this as well as the time spent in England.

Antony Penrose was born in the London Clinic, central London. He is the son of Lee Miller, a model, fine art photographer and noted war correspondent, and Sir Roland Penrose, the surrealist artist, poet and biographer of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Man Ray, and Antoni Tàpies, who co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 1947.

His grandfather was Irish painter James Doyle Penrose, and his grandmother was the daughter of the philanthropist Lord Peckover. His uncle was polymath Lionel Penrose, whose children include mathematician Oliver Penrose, polymath Sir Roger Penrose, chess grandmaster Jonathan Penrose, and geneticist Shirley Hodgson.

He first lived at 11 Downshire Hill in Hampstead, but in 1949 his parents bought Farley Farm House, a farmhouse in the village of Chiddingly, East Sussex. His mother suffered from depression during Penrose’s childhood, meaning he had a nanny, Patsy Murray, from a young age. Penrose had dysfunctional upbringing, saying of his mother “She was a hopeless mum. She had no natural maternal instincts.” He suffered from dyslexia, but nevertheless went on to attend the Royal Agricultural College.

Penrose’s mother was his first mentor and main inspiration. The first camera he used was a Kodak with a 120 roll film, which produced 1 1/4 square negatives. At 14, whilst on a family visit, Penrose took some of his first amateur photographs of Picasso. In 1962, he and his mother went on a photography trip to Zimbabwe – but Miller fell ill and so left it to Antony to take the pictures which she could not using her Zeiss Contax. She told him “If you drop the camera I will break your neck”.


In the late 1960s Penrose took pictures of famous artists including Picasso, Joan Miró and Man Ray. Penrose’s first career move was in agriculture, which he interrupted to spend several years on a round-the-world trip in a Land Rover with his friends Robert Braden and Peter Comrie, cousin Dominic Penrose, and his late wife Suzanna. During this period he took many photos for Farmers Weekly magazine. Later on, Penrose was introduced to film-making, working on films such as Kings Horses and Migrate to Survive. He established Penrose Film Productions Ltd which primarily focuses on documentaries, technical films and drama shorts.

Following the death of his mother, a cache of her work was discovered in the attic of the family home by his late wife Suzanna. It contained some 60,000 negatives, prints and manuscripts, which he and Suzanna made the basis of the Lee Miller Archives. Penrose has since written numerous books, articles and two plays on the subject of his parents and their associates. He is most notable for his 1985 book, The Lives of Lee Miller.

Farley Farm House in Sussex has an 18th-century, self-effacing, red-brick facade – it is in no hurry to give its extraordinary history away. I arrive early and tiptoe around the side, hoping to spy unobserved. Its garden is full of surreal sculptures – for this was home to renowned American photo-journalist Lee Miller and her husband, surrealist painter Roland Penrose, and it was here that many artists – Max Ernst, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Henry Moore and Picasso – gathered. The sculptures stand out like improbable shrubs. I start towards them but – too late – I have been spotted. Antony Penrose, his daughter, Ami, and grandson, Tarik, greet me. Three generations of Penrose/Miller descendants. Antony – Tony to all – is my reason for being here. For he has written a beautiful book for children (and their parents) about his childhood friendship, in this house, with Picasso.
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Filled with his mother’s photographs and Picasso’s artwork, it is a gem. It is called The Boy Who Bit Picasso – an unusual boast, but Tony is that boy and Picasso bit back. He exclaimed: “Pensez! C’est le premier anglais que j’ai jamais mordu!” (“It is the first Englishman I have ever bitten.”) But it was not to be the end of their friendship. Far from it: Tony was “bitten” by Picasso in every sense.

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Picasso visited Farley Farm in 1950 and would once have stood – as I do now – at the farmhouse’s back door to get his bearings. The address here is Muddles Green –and it sums up today’s family atmosphere perfectly. But I need to be clear. “What am I looking at?” I wonder. Tony replies: “So glad you asked” and directs my gaze to the distantly discernible outline of the Long Man of Wilmington, a chalk giant standing 227 feet tall on Windover Hill, on the South Downs, and holding two walking sticks in his effete grip. He warmed the hearts of Tony’s parents when they first moved here in 1949. And he entertained Picasso, who noted the Long Man’s lack of private parts and pronounced him “prudish”.

Tony leads the way inside, to a formal dining room. I ask him straight away: how would it be were Picasso to join us for tea? “There was a radiance to Picasso – a warmth and inquisitiveness. He was tremendously active, not a spectator. And yet he had moments of stillness. He could exist in the moment. He was incapable of self-consciousness.” Lee Miller’s photos, taken at Farley Farm, show Picasso as stocky but chic, in a wonderful herringbone tweed suit and snug beret. He smelled, Tony recalls, of cologne and French tobacco. His expression was playful. And he was happy to be a playmate – a charging bull to Tony’s three-year-old matador (even when the matador’s teeth were sharp). A particularly sweet picture shows Tony sitting on the great man’s knee and staring, with composure, deep into his eyes. Picasso stares benignly back.


“What was wonderful was that, with Picasso, the normal rule book was torn up.” Tony celebrated in particular – and still does – Picasso’s love of animals. As a little boy, he found Picasso’s pet goat, Esmeralda, “seriously impressive” because (as he observed on return visits to France) she was allowed to have the run of Picasso’s sitting room and was fed the choicest titbits. To Tony’s delight, Picasso was not bothered by Esmeralda’s lack of house training.

Miller was tickled pink by the rapport between Picasso and her only child. In a piece in the November 1951 issue of Vogue, celebrating Picasso’s 70th birthday, she wrote about Tony’s Picasso’s obsession. She explained he wore “a beret and St Tropez sandals” in homage to his “hero” and that his defence for “all odd behaviour” was: “That’s the way they do it in France – just like Picasso.” Tony’s preferred method of eating ice-cream was to stand up, dish in hand, with his back to the table: “Just like Picasso”, who, as Miller confided, had more grown-up reasons for doing the same thing – the better to see “pretty girls”.

The prettiest girl of all was Lee Miller herself. Tony believes they are likely to have met first in Paris when Miller was hanging out with Man Ray and Paul Eluard. Picasso admired her – it would have been extraordinary if he hadn’t. Her beauty was classic, unambiguous. She was tagged, in her youth, as one of the five most beautiful women in the world. In pictures taken by surrealist photographer Man Ray – her lover between 1929 and 1932 – she has that look essential to the femme fatale of inwardness, otherness and melancholy. Picasso painted six portraits of her and entitled one Lee Miller à l’Arlesienne.


Tony explains: “The women from Arles were femmes fatales, so Picasso’s compliment came with a sting.” As a child, he was mystified by the painting – the peculiar green lips, like twin moustaches, and the mad eyes. But now he enthuses about Picasso’s decision to give his mother a mustard complexion: “The yellow was Picasso’s acknowledgement of her warmth as a personality and brilliant intellect.” Lee loved it. “He has got my smile,” she said.

Lee died in 1977 but is still present in Tony’s face. It is the mildest of hauntings (the forehead, the chin), but I find it moving. Tall, lean and bespectacled, he looks relaxed in his faded blue cotton shirt. But I don’t think I am imagining his vulnerability. I find him charming: shy – yet easy to talk to – voluble and funny once he gets going. One thing seems certain: his life is more enjoyable now as custodian of his parents’ house (art gallery, museum, home to the Lee Miller archive and intermittently open to the public) than it was during his childhood, before he was custodian of anything.

Roland knew his son was unhappy at school but, although sorry, did nothing about it. Picasso thought Tony’s unhappiness “terrible” and did the only thing he could: he dashed off a drawing of a bull, a dancer with a flute, a listening centaur and wrote “Pour Tony” at the top (in memory, maybe, of their bullish games 10 years earlier). “The drawing has cheered me up ever since,” Tony says. What made him unhappy? “I was severely dyslexic. At school, they called me thick, stupid, unco-operative. I dug my heels in and said, ‘OK, I am thick.'” He was moved to a strict London crammer: “I disliked being in London – it was discomfiting. I am a country boy. And I was forced to live in close proximity with my mother and that was really difficult.”

Tony is the author of The Lives of Lee Miller, a biography in which he always refers to himself, disconcertingly, in the third person. Similarly, when Tony talks about his mother, he refers to her as “Lee” or even “Lee Miller” and this produces a chilly frisson, a sense that, even now, it is most comfortable to keep her at a distance. What was she like as a mother? “In a word – hopeless. The more I look back, the more astonished I am she ever did it. She was a hopeless mum. She had no natural maternal instincts. ‘Give me a baby and I’ll cook it,’ she used to say.” I don’t know whether to laugh.


How much was beauty to blame? How much did it shape her life? “Beauty was Lee’s entree.” And at first, it had fairy-tale power. In 1927, as a young woman on a Manhattan street, Lee narrowly escaped death, stepping in front of a car. A bystander pulled her back, she fell into his arms. He was Condé Nast, founder of the magazine empire, and he turned his swooning pedestrian into a sensation – a Vogue cover girl.

“Lee was realistic about beauty. Some people say she buried it, lacerated it, drank it away. But I don’t think she was troubled by the loss of it. It was her brain that worked hardest for her, with its rapid-fire, New York wit.” Yet, in later life, she suffered clinical depression and post-traumatic stress after her years as Vogue’s war correspondent (covering the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris and the concentration camps at Dachau and Buchenwald – she was one of the first to produce photographic evidence of the Holocaust).

And there was a sense in which Lee went on living in a war zone. In his teens, Tony’s relationship with his mother degenerated into “open hostilities”. The “enormous quantities of whisky” she knocked back did not help. “Lee drank because she felt unloved and she was unloved because she drank.”

What does a boy do when his mother falls short? Tony seems to have had a talent for finding mothers elsewhere. He owns a curved mother figure by Picasso: a wooden woman, which is about three inches tall, with crayoned features and arms ready to offer a hug. He put her in charge of his ark – Madame Noah. Tony was devoted, too, to his father’s first wife, French surrealist poet Valentine Boue: “I adored her. She was a frequent visitor here. She died in this house.” And he launches, with spirit, into the incredible story of how Roland’s two wives, Valentine and Lee, first met.

“Valentine divorced my father in 1937 but, on a passage back to France from India, found herself in London where she was promptly bombed.” She phoned Roland who told her to meet him at a pub in Hampstead, the Freemasons Arms. “It was easy to be late in wartime – there was so much disruption – and Roland was held up.” Lee walked into the pub with no idea Valentine would be there. The publican pointed Lee in her direction: “The lady over there is shocked. She doesn’t speak English.” In perfect French, Lee calmed Valentine down. Several glasses of wine later, Roland walked in. Valentine exclaimed effusively: “I am so glad you have come… I did not want to meet Lee Miller… I was afraid of embarrassing you – or her – and must go quickly before she arrives.” Roland said: “That was Lee Miller you were talking to…” It was the beginning of 18 months the three of them spent living under one roof, in Downshire Hill, Hampstead.

Tony marvels at how amicably his parents and ex-lovers got on. “When you think how people, in this age, gouge the life out of their ex-partners, it seems extraordinary.” Lee and Roland were well known for the ménage à trois (between 1942-44) with Life magazine photographer David Scherman in Hampstead. But the happiest days, according to Tony, were at Farley Farm whenever Man Ray was staying. “Lee was always so happy when Roland and Man Ray were together. The shared love of Lee Miller was important. And there was no rivalry between them.” He adds: “People don’t think of Man Ray as funny. But he was full of American one-liners. And he was very kind to me as a kid and a teenager. He would take time out to be with me.” Tony seems to have had an eye for father figures too.

It was not until he had grown up, studied agriculture at Cirencester, travelled the world (72,000 miles in a Land Rover) and married Suzanna, a beautiful English woman whom he met in Australia, that Tony’s relationship with his mother improved. It was Suzanna’s doing. It is a measure of how bad things were that Tony still regards inviting his mother to dinner as an unusual step.

“Here was this young bride inviting Lady Penrose, a gourmet cook, to dinner [in Lee’s later years cooking replaced photography as a passion] when she had only fleetingly met this woman two years before.” What did you eat? “I haven’t a clue. I was so… furious. I said to Suzanna, ‘What are you thinking of? That is the enemy, don’t you know?'”


Yet Suzanna prevailed. In her, Tony found a mother figure of a different sort and Suzanna taught him to be a father. “She had a tremendous understanding of the needs of small children. She made it OK for me to be affectionate, demonstrative and playful. She was absolutely brilliant.” Suzanna even charmed Lee into bonding with her newborn granddaughter Ami (rather than frying her). “Lee held Ami when she was tiny. She was full of cancer and drugs but there was definitely affection there. It was very touching for me.” Yet, as always with Lee, there was a sting in the tail. He has not forgotten her words to Suzanna: “It’s bloody awful what men do to women. Look at the way he has come close to destroying your figure.” “I thought, ‘What a tactless thing to say to a young mother.'”

Not long after Lee’s death, tragedy struck: Tony lost Suzanna to cancer. “She was not yet 43. She never lived to see the girls grow up. Our son was only four and a half. How she would have adored her grandchildren. I hope she can see them from wherever she is.”

He explains: “When bereavement hits, you can’t imagine loving again. But perhaps because I had no expectations, it happened very quickly…” He is now married to “fabulous” Roz (who “invented the process of guiding visitors round the farm”).

Tony’s career has been a mixture of the artistic and agricultural. He made films, on farming topics, until Roland’s death in 1984. Then he became a farmer with a herd of 400 cows: “Beautiful Holstein Friesians… so gentle and well-behaved.” Then the “downward pressure on the milk price from Tesco, with the full complicity of the government, put an end to dairy farming. I sold the cows in 2004. It was like a bereavement. I miss them every year. And I would never shop at Tesco”.

Tony gives me a short tour of the house. Picasso has left some fantastic souvenirs behind. Above the Aga, where Lee did her outlandish cooking (recipes included “Muddles Green green chicken” and “Persian carpet” – made of oranges and candied violets), is a ceramic face by Picasso – cheerful, distinguished and sunny-side-up. “It has survived 60 years of bacon fat,” says Tony.

We look at several photos of Lee and Picasso (you feel the rapport between them) and, more frighteningly, Dave Scherman’s famous 1945 photo of Lee sitting in Hitler’s bath in Munich, after the liberation of the city, washing away the dust of Dachau. What strikes one, overwhelmingly, is that in spite of the claims of other artists here, including Tony’s father, it is Lee Miller who always dominates.


They reached a truce – a tenderness – at the end. As Lee lay dying, aged 70, at Farley Farm, she told Tony: “I feel I am on the edge of an abyss and if I let go I will drop, and go on falling forever.” Hearing the baby housemartins squeaking in the eaves of the house, he had a moment of inspiration. He told his mother that would be like them. They knew how to fly, with no chance to practise. “The moment they plunge from their nest, they find they can wheel and swoop and soar forever.”

As I leave, Tony hands me his card. I glance at it and observe that his mother’s signature is at the top: hugely confident loops, a forward-sloping hand. And I study his name, printed in small, bold type beneath it.

Photograph of Pablo Picasso and his chauffeur at Hotel Vaste Horizon, Mougins, France September 1937 by Eileen Agar 1899-1991Photograph of Lee Miller at Hotel Vaste Horizon, Mougins, France September 1937 by Eileen Agar 1899-1991

Lee Miller

Elizabeth “Lee” Miller, Lady Penrose was an American photographer. Born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1907, she was a successful fashion model in New York City in the 1920s before going to Paris, where she became an established fashion and fine art photographer. During the Second World War, she became an acclaimed war correspondent for Vogue, covering events such as the London Blitz, the liberation of Paris, and the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau.

Miller was born on April 23, 1907, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her parents were Theodore and Florence Miller (née MacDonald). Her father was of German descent, and her mother of Canadian, Scottish and Irish descent. She had a younger brother named Erik, and an older brother named John. Theodore always favored Lee, and he often used her as a model for his amateur photography. When she was seven years old, she was raped while staying with a family friend in Brooklyn and infected with gonorrhea.

Lee’s father introduced Lee and her brothers to photography at an early age. She was his model – he took many stereoscopic photographs of his nude teenage daughter – and he also showed her technical aspects of the art. Aged 19 she nearly stepped in front of a car on a Manhattan street but was prevented by Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue. This incident helped launch her modeling career; she appeared in an illustration by George Lepape on the cover of the Vogue edition of March 15, 1927.


For the next two years she was one of the most sought-after models in New York, photographed by leading fashion photographers including Edward Steichen, Arnold Genthe, Nickolas Muray and George Hoyningen-Huene. A photograph of Miller by Steichen was used to advertise Kotex menstrual pads, causing a scandal and effectively ending her career as a fashion model.

In 1929, Miller traveled to Paris with the intention of apprenticing herself to the surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray. Although, at first, he insisted that he did not take students, Miller soon became his model and collaborator, as well as his lover and muse.[3] While she was in Paris, she began her own photographic studio, often taking over Man Ray’s fashion assignments to enable him to concentrate on his painting. In fact, many of the photographs taken during this period and credited to Man Ray were actually taken by Miller. Together with Man Ray, she rediscovered the photographic technique of solarisation. She was an active participant in the surrealist movement, with her witty and humorous images. Amongst her circle of friends were Pablo Picasso, Paul Éluard, and Jean Cocteau (she appeared as a statue that comes to life in Cocteau’s The Blood of a Poet (1930).


After leaving Man Ray and Paris in 1932, she returned to New York and established a portrait and commercial photography studio with her brother Erik as her darkroom assistant. During this year she was included in the Modern European Photography exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York. In 1933, Levy gave Miller the only solo exhibition of her life. Among her portrait clients were the surrealist artist Joseph Cornell, actresses Lilian Harvey and Gertrude Lawrence, and the African-American cast of the Virgil Thomson–Gertrude Stein opera Four Saints in Three Acts (1934).

In 1934, she abandoned her studio to marry Egyptian businessman Aziz Eloui Bey, who had come to New York to buy equipment for the Egyptian Railways. Although she did not work as a professional photographer during this period, the photographs she took while living in Egypt with Eloui, including Portrait of Space, are regarded as some of her most striking surrealist images. By 1937, Miller had grown bored with her life in Cairo and she returned to Paris, where she met the British surrealist painter and curator Roland Penrose, whom she later would marry.


Her photographs were not included in another exhibition until 1955, when her work was displayed in the renowned “Family of Man” exhibition curated by Edward Steichen, the director of the Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) Department of Photography in New York City.

At the outbreak of World War II, Miller was living in Hampstead in London with Roland Penrose when the bombing of the city began. Ignoring pleas from friends and family to return to the US, Miller embarked on a new career in photojournalism as the official war photographer for Vogue, documenting the Blitz. Miller was accredited into the U.S. Army as a war correspondent for Condé Nast Publications from December 1942. She teamed up with the American photographer David E. Scherman, a LIFE correspondent on many assignments. Miller traveled to France less than a month after D-Day and recorded the first use of napalm at the siege of St. Malo, as well as the liberation of Paris, the battle for Alsace, and the horror of the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau. A photograph by Scherman of Miller in the bathtub of Adolf Hitler’s apartment in Munich is one of the most iconic images from the Miller–Scherman partnership.


During this time, Miller photographed dying children in a Vienna Hospital, peasant life in post-war Hungary, and finally, the execution of Prime Minister László Bárdossy. After the war, she continued to work for Vogue for a further two years, covering fashion and celebrities.

After returning to Britain from central Europe, Miller started to suffer from severe episodes of clinical depression and what later became known as post-traumatic stress syndrome. She began to drink heavily, and became uncertain about her future. In 1946, she traveled with Roland Penrose to the United States, where she visited Man Ray in California. After she discovered she was pregnant by Penrose with her only son, Antony, she divorced Bey and, on May 3, 1947, married Penrose. Their son, Antony Penrose, was born in September 1947.

In 1949, the couple bought Farley Farm House in East Sussex. During the 1950s and 1960s, Farley Farm became a sort of artistic Mecca for visiting artists such as Picasso, Man Ray, Henry Moore, Eileen Agar, Jean Dubuffet, Dorothea Tanning, and Max Ernst. While Miller continued to do the occasional photo shoot for Vogue, she soon discarded the darkroom for the kitchen, becoming a successful gourmet cook. She also photographed for biographies Roland wrote about Picasso and Antoni Tàpies. However, images from the war, especially the concentration camps, continued to haunt her and she started on what Antony describes as a “downward spiral”. Her depression may have been accelerated by her husband’s long affair with the trapeze artist Diane Deriaz.


Miller was investigated by the British security service MI5 during the 1940s and 50s, on suspicion of being a Soviet spy. Miller died from cancer at Farley Farm House in Chiddingly, East Sussex, in 1977, aged 70. She was cremated, and her ashes were spread through her herb garden at Farley Farm House. Throughout her life, Miller did very little to promote her own photographic work.
That Miller’s work is known today is mainly due to the efforts of her son, who has been studying, conserving, and promoting his mother’s work since the early 1980s. Her pictures are accessible at the Lee Miller Archive.

Tuesday 15th November 2016

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on November 15, 2016 by bishshat

I’m Looking Through You

The Beatles

I’m looking through you, where did you go?
I thought I knew you, what did I know?
You don’t look different, but you have changed
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same

Your lips are moving, I cannot hear
Your voice is soothing, but the words aren’t clear
You don’t sound different, I’ve learned the game
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same

Why, tell me why, did you not treat me right?
Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight

You’re thinking of me, the same old way
You were above me, but not today
The only difference is you’re down there
I’m looking through you, and you’re nowhere

Why, tell me why, did you not treat me right?
Love has a nasty habit of disappearing overnight

I’m looking through you, where did you go
I thought I knew you, what did I know
You don’t look different, but you have changed
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same

Oh baby I’m changed
Ah I’m looking through you
Yeah I’m looking through you


Katsushika Hokusai

Although you may not know the name Katsushika Hokusai, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ve seen at least one of his works: Under the Wave off Kanagawa (ca. 1830–32), more commonly known as The Great Wave. Arguably the most famous image in all of Japanese art, this iconic woodblock print depicts a huge, frothing wave as it crests over a distant Mount Fuji. Born in Edo (modern Tokyo) in 1760, the influential artist and printmaker led a life that was both intensely productive and undeniably eccentric. Here are seven things you probably don’t know about Hokusai.

1. He was originally destined for a career as a mirror polisher to the upper classes, not an artist.

At a young age, Hokusai was adopted by an uncle who held the prestigious position of mirror polisher in the household of the shogun, the commander-in-chief of feudal Japan. It was assumed that the young Hokusai would succeed him in the family business, and he likely received an excellent education in preparation for a job that would place him in direct contact with the upper class. In 19th-century Japan, learning to write also meant learning to draw, since the skills and materials required for either activity were almost identical.

When Hokusai’s formal education began at age six, he displayed an early artistic talent that would lead him down a new path. He began to separate himself from his uncle’s trade in his early teens—perhaps because of a personal argument, or perhaps because he believed polishable metal mirrors would soon be replaced by the silvered glass mirrors being imported by the Dutch—and worked first as a clerk at a lending library and then later as a woodblock carver. At age 19, Hokusai joined the studio of ukiyo-e artist Katsukawa Shunshō and embarked on what would become a seven-decade-long career in art.

2. He relocated 93 times and changed his name 30 times.

Hokusai was never in one place for long. He found cleaning distasteful—instead, he allowed dirt and grime to build up in his studio until the place became unbearable and then simply moved out. All told, the artist changed residences 93 times throughout his life. Hokusai also had difficulty settling on a single moniker. Although changing one’s name was customary among Japanese artists at this time, Hokusai took the practice even further with a new noms d’artiste roughly each decade. Together with his numerous informal pseudonyms, the printmaker claimed more than 30 names in total. His tombstone bears his final name, Gakyo Rojin Manji, which translates to “Old Man Mad about Painting.”

3. He was a born showman and a savvy self-promoter.

As the story goes, Hokusai was once called before the shogun’s court to demonstrate his artistic talent. In response, he painted a long blue mark on a sheet of paper—then dipped a chicken’s feet in red paint and chased it across the image, creating a clever riff on the traditional motif of maple leaves floating on Japan’s Tatsuta River. Hokusai was also a savvy self-promoter, creating massive paintings in public with the help of his students. At a festival in Edo in 1804, he painted a 180-meter-long portrait of a Buddhist monk using a broom as a brush. Years later, he publicized his best-selling series of sketchbooks with a three-story-high work depicting the founder of Zen Buddhism.

4. He also illustrated board games, drawing instruction books, paper lanterns, and cut-out dioramas.

Hokusai was one of the 19th century’s leading designers of toy prints—sheets of paper meant to be cut into pieces and then assembled into three-dimensional dioramas. He also made several board games, one of which depicted a pilgrim’s route between Edo and nearby religious sites. Consisting of several small landscape designs, it probably served as a precursor for his eventual masterpiece, the series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” (ca. 1830-32). He illustrated countless books of poetry and fiction, and even published his own how-to manuals for aspiring artists. One of these guides, titled Hokusai Manga (1814-19) and filled with drawings he originally made for his students to copy, became a best-seller that gave the artist his first taste of fame.

5. He began his most famous work at the age of 70.

Although Hokusai was prosperous in middle age, a series of setbacks—intermittent paralysis, the death of his second wife, and serious misconduct by his wayward grandson—left him in financial straits in his later years. In response, the elderly artist funnelled his energy into his work, beginning his famous series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” (which included The Great Wave) in 1830. Another catalyst for the iconic set of images was the introduction of Prussian blue to the market. As a synthetic pigment, it lowered the price enough that it became feasible to use the shade in prints for the first time.

6. He produced a staggering 30,000 works in his lifetime.

This number is due in part to the exceptional length of his career, which officially began in 1779 and lasted until his death in 1849 at the age of 89. Hokusai was also intensely productive, rising with the sun and painting late into the night. Although a fire in his studio destroyed much of his work in 1839, he is thought to have produced some 30,000 paintings, sketches, woodblock prints, and picture books in total. His last words were said to have been a request for five or 10 more years in which to paint.

7. His works shaped the course of the Impressionist movement.

During Hokusai’s life, the Japanese government enforced isolationist policies that prevented foreigners from entering and citizens from leaving. However, that didn’t stop his work from influencing some of the biggest names in Western art history. When Japan opened its borders in the 1850s, Hokusai’s work crossed continents to land in the hands of artists such as Claude Monet, who acquired 23 of the Japanese artist’s prints. Edgar Degas also took cues from Hokusai, in particular his thousands of sketches of the human form. The rapid embrace of his prints by European artists may have been in part due to his use of a Western-style vanishing point perspective. Other print designers in Japan employed the Asian perspective, which positioned far-away objects higher on the picture plane, an effect that, to a Western eye, made it appear as though the ground was tilting upwards.

Abigail Cain