Rainlessness

24 April Monday

It rained for six minutes today.  A tentative little drizzle that barely started before it stopped again.  Everyone speaks of the lack of rain. It is an endless topic of discussion.  The fields seem to be growing with barley and corn and various crops but nothing is growing as quickly as it should be growing. The cows are eating grass faster than it is coming up. Most days are cool, overcast and grey.  It looks like it should rain. It feels like it should rain. We wish it would rain or we wish the sun would come out.

23 April Sunday

The field across the meadow is very steep.  It is so steep and so straight up and down that when Paul’s cows are walking along the top edge of the field in a long drawn out single line, they look like they could tumble off the field. The field looks like it is vertical and flat.

22 April Saturday

There is a squished thing in the road.  It has been there for months now.  Maybe it has been there for a year.  It was the kind of long narrow tube that is used for squeezing silicon or adhesive or bitumin or some other building stuff. The tube gets fitted into a sort of gun and then whatever is inside gets squeezed out through the nozzle.  From the first time I noticed it flattened on the tarmacadam it was already too late to know what it had held.  It had been run over several times and the printed information which described its contents was already faded to an all over grey. There was nothing to identify what had been inside.  The nozzle is unbroken. Whatever it was that was inside was tough stuff. It has survived in its flattened condition for a long time with tractors and lorries and cars rolling over it. It has not broken down at all. It is well stuck to the road.  In the midst of my spring time walking and my noting of each new kind of flower as it arrives, I check to see that the squished tube is still in place. Speedwell. Vetch. Apple Blossom. Bluebells. Garlic flowers. Primroses. Stitchwort. Cow Parsley. Flattened tube.

21 April Friday

The man on the radio was giving advice about calling in to visit elderly people just as a way to make certain that they are all right and that they know someone is keeping track of them. He said that this is important in the country where houses are far apart but it is important in the city too where the neighbours are not who they used to be and the person still living there might not know anyone around any more even if once they knew everyone on the street. He said that calling in did not have to mean going in. He kept repeating that there is no need to go into the house. Just a brief hello and A Standing Up Tall on the step was enough.  He said, “You don’t have to go and live in the house.”

20 April Thursday

As always, it is slippery and wet going up the Mass Path. It is the only place that is wet. I was walking carefully through the mud when I was pushed hard from behind.  I knew I was alone so the hefty nudge startled me. It was the big yellow labrador who appears every few weeks. He wanted to walk in front of me not behind me. I have no idea who he is nor where he lives. We walked together as far as the tar road and then he turned and went off into a field. I have not seen him since.

19 April Wednesday

I took a short cut down a street in Clonmel.  At the corner a plastic sleeve folder was wired to the hedge.  Inside the sleeve was a sign which read WALL GREASED DO NOT SIT.  The wall beneath the hedge was about as high as my thigh.  It had been daubed with globs of some kind of grease.  Maybe it was axle grease. It was not dry. It would probably never be dry.  It will make a terrible mess of a person’s clothes if someone sits down on it. There is a school across the street.  Perhaps the resident of that house is weary of school children sitting on the wall.  But what about an elderly person who might need a rest on the way home from the shops? Both the wall and the hedge and the grease continued right around the corner where there was a second sign, exactly the same as the first one.


Wild Garlic

17 April Monday

It is still dry.  Nights are cold and mornings are chilly.  Some days get warm but mostly the wind keeps things from warming up. I walked through Joe’s fields carefully trying to step around the lumpy mashed down hoofprints of the cows and in between the cow pats.  Under the fence and through another field. Under another fence and through another field.  I went through four fields and then got onto the dirt track which is just for tractors and cows.  It is rocky. Between the hoof indents and the stone it is all rough walking. The only place where it was wet was right down in the hollow where there is no where else for water to go. I think the water and mud there just came from a leaky water pipe leading to a drinking tough. Everywhere things look green and lush. Nothing looks dry but all conversations keep coming back to the lack of rain.

15 April Saturday

She is a very shaky elderly woman.  I do not know her name but she comes to the market every Saturday. She has been getting more fragile in the last few years.  Today Jim mentioned the lack of rain and she launched into a long tirade about the problems of the dry land. She quickly worked herself into a rage.  The grass was not growing and the cows were not making enough milk and once their bodies got into the habit of making less milk they would not easily return to making the amount of milk that their bodies should be making.  The variations of this problem went on for twenty minutes and then she stopped talking abruptly and she walked away.

There is some sort of big Easter family event being set up for Easter Sunday and Monday. Right at the edge of the farmers market there are suddenly toilets set up for the public. Two for women and two for men.  Each cubicle has a little sink included. They will not be there by next week.

14 April Friday

Today is Good Friday. There have been all the usual discussions on the radio, in the papers and over the counter. It seems certain that this will be the last year when the Good Friday Alcohol Ban is in effect. After ninety years, the government is passing something soon and apparently without much resistance to say that none of it matters any more. Bars and restaurants and shops will be able to sell and to serve alcohol. People are already bemoaning the passing of this outdated law and it has not yet come up for a vote. For years the Thursday night before Good Friday has seen packed pubs and shops selling loads of drink. The idea seemed to be that if people were told they could not drink they would do everyhting they could to make sure that they did drink. A bit of it was about defying authority and a bit was about the joy of the forbidden. It was well known that people could drink in hotel bars if they were registered guests or if they knew the bartender. And with a ticket to travel the bars in railway stations or airports were another possible drinking place. I just learned that the Dublin Dog Show, formerly held over Easter weekend, was another place where drink was served but only to people who had dogs in the competitions. It became the norm to borrow a dog for the day if you did not own one and to take it along with you just to have a place to sit and drink. Boring and a bit confusing for the dogs. Normal access to alcohol will make the country a little bit more like everywhere else but no doubt the stories of outwitting the ban will continue for a good many years. Poor Rose.  Christmas Day and Good Friday have been the only two days of the year when she could sleep late.

13 April Thursday

It cannot be very long since the first swallow arrived but I cannot remember seeing it.  Already the swallows seem to be back with such a lot of busy swooping that I cannot remember them not being here. Some people mark the first swallow on their calendar so that they can check this years arrival with last years arrival and maybe with the last four or five years of arrivals but even though I do not usually mark the day I do tend to remember the first one I saw in a year.

12 April Wednesday

Michael was rung by the hospital. A woman informed him that he was still on the waiting list for an electro-cardiogram. He was asked if he was happy to still be on the waiting list. He said he was happy to wait. He then spent two days fussing about the phone call and the question. Of course he would rather not be waiting. Of course he would rather the electro-cardiogram be done and over with. He worried out loud and he worried by himself. Finally he rang back and he spoke to the same woman. He said, “Maybe I did not really understand your question.” He said, “If I am not happy to be on the waiting list, what is the alternative?” She said, “There isn’t one.”

11 April Tuesday

Jer informed me that it is common knowledge that a pregnant woman never enters a graveyard. It may be common knowledge but it is new to me. Even if a woman’s own father has died she will not enter the graveyard for his burial. She will be at the funeral but not at the burial. It is something to do with not letting Death and Life touch. But a tiny baby can be taken into a graveyard for a burial with no worries. Once there, the baby will have a tiny clump of the soil for the burial plot put on him or her, just above the heart and underneath the bib. For a baby this is good protection.

10 April Monday

There is a curtain at the kitchen door. During the day it is pulled over to the left side. It is tied out of the way with a wrinkled blue ribbon which I always intend to replace but I never do. At night I close the curtain because the stable door is a homemade door. It was once a regular door but Simon cut it in half and made it into a double opening door. It is draughty. That is not the fault of the top and bottom parts of the door fitting. They are pretty snug. The sides are a little less tight fitting than is normal. In the winter and on any cold windy day there is a breeze coming through the cracks. The full length curtain pulled across the door at night keeps a lot of wind out. Perhaps it keeps the heat in. I made the curtain. It has long loops of fabric sewn onto the top edge. The idea of the loops was that they be generous so they would be easy to slide across the wooden dowel which I used as a curtain rod.   But it is not easy to slide the fabric across the wood. Maybe metal would have been better. It might have been more slippery. I have to use both hands to tug the curtain open in the morning. I have to use both hands while I stand on tip-toes. Sometimes it is just too hard to get the loops sliding across and I am not able to stretch myself tall. I think rubbing a waxy candle along the wood might make for easier sliding. I think of it and I always mean to do it later. It is quicker to drag out the little two step ladder. The curtain was supposed to be a simple thing. Instead it takes two hands and a big stretch. Tip-toes. Step ladder. Open in the morning and close at night. Some people have doors that fit tight and do not let in the wind. But I do not.  This is where I live.  I live here and nothing is easy.

9 April Sunday

More and more often I find Old Oscar lying across the road. When he hears or sees a car or a tractor he gets up slowly and carefully.  He is older than Young Oscar but he is not an old dog.  He is not stiff and slow.  He can run as well as any dog. He gets up slowly to show that he does not like being interrupted.  He wants others to wait. His deliberate careful movements give me time to think about his way of being in charge.

8 April Saturday

Things are dry. There has been no rain. Or there has been a bit of rain here and there but it is never a soaking rain. It has not been the kind of rain to water the crops. The dirt tracks across Joe’s fields are dry. There is mud up the path even though no where else is wet. A little spring half way up the hill feeds into the mass path so it is always muddy and mossy. Walking up makes me look down. I have to keep track of the slippery stones and the squishy muddy places. I have to watch where I put my feet. At this time of year it is good to be looking down anyway because there are so many new things to see. Each day new plants come up. There are primroses, wild garlic, violets lots of violets, several kinds of ferns, wild irises and many broken birds eggs. The eggs are open and the small birds are gone. I want to gather up the different shades of blue halves but unlike lichen or horse chestnuts, I know the shells will smash in my pocket before I get home. Instead I scoop up big handfuls of wild garlic on each trip. The white blossoms are starting to open so a handful of garlic leaves now looks more than ever like a lovely bouquet. If I meet someone out on the road, I am asked what it is.   I explain and describe its many pleasurable uses. No one looks enthused or interested. Without exception, I offer them the wild garlic. When I offer my handful to anyone, they accept it but I do not think they want it. A mistrust of food found free in nature is ongoing. People are accepting it to be polite to me. They might not even put it into water when they get home. They probably drop it on the side of the road as soon as I am out of sight.

 


Since God Was A Child

7 April Friday

When someone says something has been the way it is “Since God was a Child” you can be sure that there is no chance of it changing now.

 

3 April Monday

A soft boiled egg is called a Guggy Egg. The word Guggy means the yolk of the egg will be runny.  The man in the barber shop talked about making Shepherd’s Pie and serving it with a poached egg on the top. He said that when the egg and the pie are cut into the Gugginess comes running down into the pie. He said that this is a wonderful thing. He announced firmly that anyone who eats Shepherd’s Pie this way will never again eat Shepherd’s Pie without a Guggy Egg on top of it.

2 April Sunday

We were having a cup of tea together. Pam asked each of us what was our favourite kind of potato crisps. She was happy to agree with everyone’s choice. She said she loves every kind of crisp that has ever been made. She especially likes the ones with chili flavouring. What she really likes is to eat crisps in bed when the lights are out. She loves the sound of crunching in the dark and she loves the salt on her lips. I asked if she did not worry about scratchy crumbs in her bed later in the night. She said she has been eating crisps in bed for longer than she can remember. She rarely drops one in the bedclothes. She said that at 93 years of age, she feels certain that she has perfected her method.

31 March Friday

The cows had been milked and they were on the way to a field somewhere further down the road. I waited as they ambled along. I did not see anyone driving them from behind so I kept the car rolling slowly. If any of the cows stopped or turned too far left or right, the proximity of my vehicle convinced them to keep walking. After a few minutes someone appeared on a quad bike. He slipped in front of me and zig-zagged along the road. The lad was young. He was wearing a bright red wooly hat pulled down low on his head and he was standing up on the quad as he held the handlebar in one hand and he texted onto his phone with the other hand. Every so often he shouted to a cow who wandered to the ditch on the roadside. He whooshed back and forth from left to right with the quad and he texted and he shouted and he never stopped doing any of these things. The cows did not stop either or if they stopped it was not for long. They did not walk any faster but they did not go slower either. After a while they all turned left into a field and I continued on my way alone.

29 March Wednesday

This house is difficult for me. It has always been too big. It is not a large house but I am small. Many things are out of reach. I spend a lot of time unable to get to things. I can only turn on the light over the kitchen counter by using a long wooden spoon to press the on/off switch up on the plug socket. A short wooden spoon will not do the job. There is a second light above the stove. To turn that one on I have to get out the step stool and climb up on the counter. Once on the counter I balance on one knee while I plug the light into its socket. I have to do the same thing in order to turn it off. It is a precarious bit of balancing. I keep meaning to find an easier solution or at least to find a different light.

28 March Tuesday

The well cleared path which was so wide open is already closing in again. There are two fallen trees. One pretty much blocks anyone getting past it. I made it through this morning but with difficulty. I was only able to do it because I crawled underneath on my hands and knees. This tree needs a small saw and about thirty minutes of work to clear a walking way through it. The other place is not really a fallen tree. It is just ivy covered branches which toppled because of the weight of the ivy tugging on the dead wood. It only blocks a portion of the path. A narrow space around the right of the the ivy clump allows enough room to pass. Cow parsley and the Alexanders are growing fast.  They seem to be getting taller by the minute. I think they will be waist high within a week.


Inside in the water

26 March Sunday

Inside is another word which gets regularly used with undue emphasis. When Inside is used along with In, I think it just says the same thing twice.  I cannot get used to this doubling up of prepositions: Margaret is inside in the hospital. Teddy is inside in the shed. Gussie is inside in Clonmel. The dog is inside in the water. A dog can be in the water. But I do not understand a dog being inside the water.  And inside in the water is a step towards complete confusion.

25 March Saturday

Two baby jackdaws fell down the chimney. They were young. They had no feathers yet. They were naked except for a tiny bit of fluff. No one was near the chimney when they fell. Gavin found them because he and another lad were in and out of the bar painting the loos. It was early in the day and there was no one else around. He showed the birds to Rose. The babies were still alive so she put them into an open cardboard box with an old tea towel. The Inspection Woman made a surprise visit. She came in shortly after the birds got settled into their box. Rose quickly put the box out in the small room that people walk through to go to the outdoor smoking area. She assumed the Inspection Woman would not go that far. The woman was busy looking everywhere for any breaches in Health and Safety. She reprimanded Rose for having an old and barely visible sticker for Silk Cut cigarettes on the underneath of the hinged bar hatch. No one ever sees the Silk Cut sticker except when Rose opens the hatch to go in or out from behind the bar to clear a table. The sticker has been coated over with varnish and old smoke for years and years now. It is barely visible. It is impossible to see where the sticker ends and where the wood it is stuck onto begins. The Inspection woman said that the sticker violates a law about openly advertising cigarettes. She made notes about a few other things and then she walked out the back door to go out to the smoking area. She squealed when she saw the two little jackdaws in the box. She asked no questions. She just said Get Them Out of Here! in a loud and imperative voice. She continued on with her examination. The birds were not mentioned again and Rose wonders if they will be noted in the letter with its inevitable list which the woman will be sending out later in the week.

24 March Friday

I stepped out of the barn to feel the warm sun. It is hard to believe that we had snow on the ground just two days ago. There is a sharp wind but in any sheltered spot the sun is hot. I sat down on the bench just outside the door and turned my face up to the sun. I lasted about three minutes in this pleasant position. Sticks and straw and leaves and little puffs of insulation material fell down onto my face and my shoulders. The starlings have been nest building in their normal spot up under the eaves. The ground is covered with the mess of construction. I was foolish to choose that bench for sitting.

23 March Thursday

We woke up to snow yesterday. About 3 inches of fat heavy wet snow. It looked beautiful and it covered everything thickly. It was a complete freak.  We have entire winters, year after year after year, with no snow at all. Now, in late March, we get this lovely surprise snowfall. I am certain not everyone felt it was lovely. It could not be called a storm. It was a quiet gentle falling and all the time that the snow was falling the birds continued to sing as if it were another spring morning. The snow stopped by mid-morning and in the afternoon a soft rain began. By nightfall most of the snow had been washed away. Today the daffodils are popping back up again as if they had not been completely flattened to the ground by the weight of the snow. A very few of them have had their stems bent and their blossoms are hanging down. The bent daffodils will not recover but most of the others have shown amazing resilience. They are up and blowing in the breeze as if there had never been snow on top of them. The hills and the mountains remain white.

21 March Tuesday

There are two Oscars to meet on each walk up the path and around. The first Oscar is a young sheepdog with chestnut brown coloring. He is always desperate with desire for a tummy rub. He rushes out from the yard running low to the ground. He has rolled over and is waiting for a rub well before I reach him. After that first rub he stands up and hops about with pleasure. He hops with all four feet off the ground at the same time. Then he rolls over for more. If there is more than one person on a walk, we have to do a minimum of two good tummy rubs each before we can continue on our way. The second Oscar is the older dog. He is a big black Labrador. He rushes out from any number of locations, all in close proximity to his house. He greets anyone passing on foot with enthusiasm but he does not seek any rubbing, scratching or touching. This Oscar has little interest in affection. Just being together is enough for him. He wants a person to walk with. I am always happy to have him walk me home. And since he is getting a bit fat in his older age he needs as many walks as he can find walkers to go along with in a day. Living where he lives he is often without any walk at all as there are few people passing by.


There can only be one Front.

20 March Monday

The walls that contained the compost heap have been collapsing for a long time. Instead of another make-do repair, the bin has now been completely rebuilt by Andrzej. He built it in the way that he decided it should be built and not at all the way it had been before. The only thing about it is that is the same is that the structure has been built with the re-used wood of a pallet. The pallet he found to use was a painted pallet. It was bright blue. Suddenly the compost bin is colourful and exciting. And it has a hinged cover.

19 March Sunday

Breda and I walked the lumpy fields again today. We love these fields. We were discussing the fields and how they join up. We know that each one must have a name because how else would anyone be able to say where they were going or where they were putting the cows if they could not put a name to the place. One of the fields has a clash in it. A clash is a kind of saucer-like indent in the land. It looks like it could be full of water but it is not. That is the easiest field for us to give a name to. One is shaped kind of like a corner piece. We decided to attempt a Field Count but we were talking as we were walking and we kept losing our count. We think that we ended up with nine but there are several fields we did not even walk into so we still do not have a total. And anyway I think we might have lost count somewhere between eight and nine.

18 March Saturday

There is a particular way for houses to be built of concrete blocks and then for the front of the house to be clad in stone so that from head on it looks as if it is a stone cottage. It is easy to see that the building is not completely made of stone as the sides remain concrete walls. No one seems bothered that the building has two different finishes. The stone clad front is an attempt for the house to look fancier and better presented to the world. And as Mick declared when admiring a newly built house, “There can only be one Front.

17 March Friday

An elderly dog lives just down the road from Frank’s shop. The dog is deaf and his eyes are not good. He makes a visit to Frank’s shop every morning. A white line is painted on the road. It starts just at the point where the old dog lives.   The line goes right down the middle of the road. Not many of these roads have a painted line. The old dog is fortunate that there is a line because with his poor eyes, he needs the line to get to the shop. He walks right along the white line with his head down keeping his full attention on it. The white line takes him to the shop and the white line takes him home again. When he gets to the shop he wanders around outside for a little while. He smells things and he pees on things. Then he sits down on the step. When Frank sees the dog he comes out and gives him a piece of yesterday’s cake or a bun. After the snack, the old dog takes a nap and when he wakes up he goes to the center of the road and walks along the white line until he arrives back home. We all know this dog and his scheduale. He cannot hear a car coming up behind him so it is up to us to be aware and to be careful if we are driving that bit of road mid-morning.

16 March Thursday

Taking To The Bed is what people do when they are poorly. They might be feeling sad and depressed or they might be ill with a cold or a flu.  When someone is said to be Taking To The Bed, it is best not to ask too many questions.

 

15 March Wednesday

One bit of Joe’s field hovers high above the ditch. A cow standing up there makes the height confusing. It is not like the cow is merely looking over the ditch with its head visible.

14 March Tuesday

It has been four years now since her father died. She was mad at him when he died and she remains mad. She goes to his grave nearly every day to tell him how angry she is. She also tells him how much she misses him and she tells him how much work there is for her to do all because he is not there to do it. Her mother died last year. She is not angry with her mother. She saves all her rage for her father.


Lumpy Fields

13 March Monday

There are daffodils in bud and daffodils in blossom. Daffodils are everywhere. There is the promise of more daffodils to come even while enjoying the early ones. Gorse. Forsythia. Lesser Celandine. Primroses are beginning to bloom down the boreen.  Every blossom is a yellow blossom. Things are burgeoning.  Nests are being built.  The mornings are noisy with birdsong.

12 March Sunday

The moon is full.  It popped up and sat right on the edge of the hill for a long time before it rose any higher. Now it is full and bright and high in the sky.  Tonight will never be all the way dark.

11 March Saturday

I bought the first rhubarb of the year from Keith and Jim at the Farmers Market. I was looking forward to preparing it and eating it.  I poked through the ginger in the supermarket.  There were only a few scruffy pieces and they were shriveled. I was picking through to find the best one I could find.  The young man whose father ran the supermarket for many years saw me.  He has taken over the running of the market from his father and he is eager to be helpful.  He loves his work. He showed me that there were some packages of organic ginger.  The organic ginger looked fresh and firm but it was expensive and there was an awful lot of it in one packet. I told him that I only wanted one piece today.  I told him that I just wanted some ginger to cook with the first rhubarb. I said I would keep sorting through the loose bits.  He came over to help me in the looking. We found a few small pieces which met my approval.  He put them into a little bag and then he threw in a few more.  He said, Now put those right into your pocket.  There will be no charge.  This is between me and yourself. 

10 March Friday

The path up to Johnnie’s has been cleared.  There are no longer horizontal trees to duck underneath.  There are no more fallen branches to crawl under.  The brambles are trimmed way back. There is still a muddy uphill climb over slippery mossy rocks, but now I can stretch my arms straight out from side to side before I touch anything.  It is now a big airy tunnel rather than a narrow tunnel.  It will get overgrown again soon but for now it feels like a whole new place to walk.

9 March Thursday

Breda and I walked over the small unevenly shaped fields behind Jimmie and Esther’s farm.  They no longer keep cows themselves so they rent out the fields to another farmer. He grazes his cows there in the months of good weather. In the winter Breda is free to walk out with the dogs with no worry about electric fences or climbing over gates or meeting cows or bulls. There are a lot of fields. I lost track of how many there were.  Some of them are deep with wet. They are boggy after all the rain.  None of the fields are large.  They are not the kind of fields where the ditches have been torn out to make large expanses easy for big modern equipment to get in and move around. There is no ploughing nor planting in these fields.  Perhaps they are fertilized a bit with a small tractor just to make sure that the grass keeps growing.  Cattle move from field to field to eat and eat all the grass until they eat everything and then they get moved to another field. These fields are never flattened by heavy equipment rolling over them so they are uneven with cow hoof prints and the pushing up of gnarly tree roots. Walking though these lumpy fields in the sunshine was a pleasure even while it was hard work. There were no cows. We saw a buzzard, a fox, and a pheasant.

8 March Wednesday

Dawn lives downhill from a dairy farm. She rents her house from the farmer. Water in the house is at the mercy of the farmer and the needs of his cows.  The water supply for the house and the water supply for the cows both come from the same well. During morning and evening milking times there is no water in Dawn’s house because the farmer must wash the milking parlour and flush out the milking equipment. The farmer calls this Cow Time. His cows have priority over his tenants.  If his cows are grazing in one of the fields which is lower than the house, water gets pumped down to them for drinking.  Then there is not enough pressure for it to go back uphill to the rented house. Keeping water stored in 5 litre bottles is an all year round job at Dawn’s house.  The filled-up bottles of water are kept in the shed so that there is always water even when there is no water.


A Case for Books

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At a nearby gallery in the fashionably dubbed Haut Marais*, our friend Didier Mathieu, from the Centre des Livres d’Artistes, has laid out a book exhibition entitled récits / écrits. It is a display of formative of work from formative women artists, largely American, from the heyday of the self-published democratic  book or printed format. But almost as a tangent to the content of the publications, is a clarity and assurance of the value of the display of printed forms. This is not often the case. I think that most of us working with such material feel very ambiguous and conflicted about putting books under glass, or on the wall in frames. They are meant to be held, turned, closed and re-opened, and an exhibition by its nature prevents this, except as a memory of such activation in the mind.

Didier Mathieu has always had a most concise idea about how book shows should be done, but this time it is exceptional, even to the point of hanging pages and centrefolds on the wall. They slightly articulate in the movement of air in the space, as Mallarmé’s newspaper reader in the garden is interrupted by a flying insect, and incorporates it into the narrative.

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It is far from another exhibition visited recently,  L’Esprit du Bauhaus, at the Musée d’Art Décoratif, where the overcrowding, an often problematic thesis and history, should have been kept in a book and not placed in vitrines nor on plinths under glass domes. Nothing could have been further from l’esprit. By contrast Didier Mathieu’s display animated itself from within, and was firmly within the reductive clarity of that early modernist school.

* récits /écrits  mfc-michele didier, 66 rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris

 


Portes No.22 & 23

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As a memory of the days of blithe walks across the city, at least as a memory of them from the edge back to the middle, I offer two Portes done before the fall on the staircase. Nothing particularly remarkable about these two veiled and barely distinguishable listings on the southern edge of the péripherique. They are precisely the kind of destination that our Parisian friends would think of us as not being proper tourists for wanting to go and see. But that’s the whole point of the Porte Walks, to examine the debris of the city, and encounter things of no importance. Like these beautiful cast aluminium pots in some Moroccan shop just after we had left the metro at Porte de Vanves, heading for Porte Briancon. Should I go back and buy them, I ask, but they are big ?

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Material Language of Carl Andre

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We just caught the traveling Carl Andre history at the Musée d’Art Moderne, and it was a good time to think about the so-called ‘poems’, largely from earlier times in the work. I think it’s a bit of a misnomer to call them that. They are really inventories of language as yet another elemental material, to be stacked, repeated, laid flat, pushed up against the wall. They use none of the devices of the language of poetry, title and play of content, metaphor as displacement and alternation, but they merely state themselves as material fact. Nothing wrong with that, I would add.

Maybe all this is too retrospective an analysis, far too formal, and they really occurred in a more spontaneous time, along with other surprising vestiges of mail art, a plethora of postcards sent to friends through the available system at your doorstep. But what I really admire now about Carl Andre is the fact that he stopped working at a given point, and resorted to the hand-held manipulations of material shapes and forms that he continues to give to friends.Not for him to become the factory of the artworld, the manufacturer of storable property and space-fillers for over-sized collections. He remains fluid and adaptable, in spite of what at first might seem a puritan monolith of chaste material.


Pour remercier la pluie au matin

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On Sunday, my furthest journey to date with the impediment. To the Armenian church on Rue Charlot, long-time bastion of the free concert, especially at the weekends. The programme is not always riveting, but this time we had to get there for two of my favourite pieces. Two young pianists were working together for four-hand pieces by Ravel and Debussy. Ma Mère l’Oie, with its finale of The Mechanical Garden, reflecting all the clockwork toys and mechanical games that Ravel had in his house in Montfort l’Amaury. You could see the construction of hands required to produce it on the keyboard by sitting not too far from the piano.

Debussy’s setting of the poems of Chanson de Bilitis by Pierre Louys as Six Épigraphs Antiques has been with me since I first encountered it back in the nineteen sixties, with its wonderful finale, that needs restating.

to thank

the morning

rain


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