Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sophia's wild man

I have him here again, I am looking at the photo.

I am looking at the photo as a vertical, face to face, but actually he is lying down. The space between the nose and the mouth is relatively large. I like his mouth a lot. Though his eyes are closed, he is awake. His mouth is blocked by this white shell, with what looks like an opening, but leads to a shallow space.

Does the whiteness of the shell refer to us Palangi? Does he talk Palangi, is he obliged to talk Palangi, not expressing his true self, while thinking thoughts that go round and round in his head like that silken coil on his forehead? The shell is very much a local shell, a shell from the Pacific Ocean. It must be special in some way, since someone has thought to make an adornment of it. Looking at the length of the cord, when one wears it, it probably sits just a little way down from where the neck joins the chest, below the little hollow there.

I have written my one thousand words this morning, it takes me 20 minutes. May nothing get in the way of this.

Monday, 19 September 2011


I have put a postcard in front of me which is strange and interesting; my friend the painter E said it was disturbing...I don't find it so, but maybe I should. It has also been put on the cover of the catalogue of the Oceania exhibition at the City Art Gallery, where it is on exhibit and there is no print over it at all. It is unblemished. I have bought the book and am very pleased; the quality of the reproductions is great, though the text as usual is vapid.

The photo represents a man who is unmistakeably from a Pacific Ocean nation, just his face, with closed eyes, in a black setting - it is a photo, I keep forgetting to say that - and we are seeing the face from straight above. She must have stood above him to take it. His face is clearly defined against a very dark background and there is no sign of his neck below his chin or of hair on the top of his head. He is cleanshaven and his skin is a rich brown.
His eyes are closed and in his mouth he is holding a perfectly white, shiny shell which has the shape of a fleshy mouth, with a slender opening like a smile. It is a sea-shell. The size of the shell and his mouth seem to correspond well. The sea shell - is it what they call a conch? a conch sounds like a very big shell and so big it is not. His mouth is not a big mouth. One can see the stretched lower lip holding the shell and the lip above. There seems to be some effort involved in holding it in his mouth.
From the shell, a brown plaited silken rope which is attached to it at one corner has been draped close to the side of his head and leads to his forehead where it lies in a flat coil, in the middle, above his eyebrows. He has a flat fleshy nose and his eyebrows are wide.
Light comes from one side of his face, highlighting the top of his cheeks, unevenly. Also the top of his nose - it is not a ridge as such, more like a broad hill. His skin is a little grainy.
I find it a deeply satisfying photo and I must remember the name of the photographer: she is Sofia Tekela-Smith.
I am a fan.
You can see the photo here.

For the rest, I am in love with Proust.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Enter Proust

It will soon be time for another of the monthly congregational newsletters, which will eat into my time. I've managed to return to my routine of writing every day. Also compiling a list of possible 'scenes' for one of the characters from the translated German document. Then I can make up the material for the character based on that information.

Told P that the division of the book into two volumes according to time and place was now less clear and he was very peeved. I was amazed. Attachment is a strange thing.

Under the influence of de Waal's Hare, I've picked up Proust and am reading him slowly. (I ignored the introduction - it will probably be meaningful when I've finished the book). There is a lot of permission-giving (for me) in the self-centered exploration that he does. Self-centered, but not egocentric. How does he manage that?

Tried to buy a copy of A la Recherche, but it was all too expensive and then found a complete set at the library. The first volume does not belong to the set - or rather it is from a different one - and it is small, the text very dense on the page. Not a good read.

At the same time, took out a book by Marguerite Duras, Yeux bleus, cheveux noirs, Pfouah! Quelle horreur! Two neurotic characters who cry all the time, preoccupied with sexuality. Very irritating.

Monday, 12 September 2011

No time tonight, but much to write

Read The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, wonderful.
Saw Oceania, exhibition at the City Art Gallery, I have to go back soon. If I write about these things now, I won't write for my book and I must get going again, it is taking me too long, it is all too slow. So no more for now.  I must write about The Hare later. And about the exhibition.
I am not lending my copy of The Hare to anyone.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

On the Upside Down of the World

A cumbersome title - I don't seem to be able to remember what it is, I have to search for it every time I want to mention it. The play is by Arthur Meek, author of Collapsing Creation, which I'd enjoyed. I'd thought then how remarkably this young New Zealander manages to create an English ambience and vibrant credible characters.

This play is equally satisfactory: a very good script, excellent content and pacing, though I remained dubious about the ladders which crowd the stage, however well they serve to enliven the pattern of movements of the only character. The actress was Laurel Devenie, who is very good.

I minded the colourlessness...Her dress and all the accessories she uses are shades of beige, the ladders are aluminium, there are sand and shells on the ground. Downstage has raw concrete walls - it was all very bland and made me long for the vibrant colour of the New Zealand coast. Maybe they thought that it could not be matched and preferred to leave it to our imaginations - I did see some wonderful things in my mind's eye...

An extensive review of the play can be found here.