Tumbling down the heap

Welcome to an unending ticker-tape of crap too small for my blog Asleep on the Compost Heap or too big for Twitter. While computer games, music, photos, art, and supermarkets all get a look in, this site will focus mostly on food. I hope.

You can also ask me any questions you want by clicking here.

Apr 16

"And all the way (ahorn!) from fjord to fjell his bayinds’ oboboes shall wail rockbound (hoahoahoah!) in swimswamswum and all the livvy-long night, the delldale dalppling night, the night of bluerybells, her flittaflute in tricky trochees (O carina! O carina!) wake him."


This is a show-stopping sentence I found at the start of Finnegans wake. It’s so dense with stuff that I wouldn’t know the half of it or how to unpack it fully. But one gist of it seems to be a current of water, the dream Liffey, moving by night, picking up associations of musical instruments, singing/mourning voices (sirens?), flowers and pastoral land too. The landscape of Finnegans wake is famously a dream landscape containing as much of history and literature as Joyce could put into it.

How lovely, too, the sentence sounds said out loud. Try it.

P.S. Fans of Zelda, like myself, will know that an ocarina is a type of flute.

Apr 15

More lines from Proust’s ‘Within a Budding Grove’ where he reflects on the souls of objects:

'I had given her a few pieces - notably a big sofa - which I had inherited from my aunt Léonie. I used never to see them, for want of space had prevented my parents from taking them in at home, and they were stored in a warehouse. But as soon as I saw them again in the houses where these women were putting them to their own uses, all the virtues that pervaded my aunt's room at Combray at once appeared to me, tortured by the cruel contact to which I had abandoned them in their defencelessness! Had I outraged the dead, I would not have suffered such remorse. I returned no more to visit their new mistress, for they seemed to me to be alive and to be appealing to me, like those apparently inanimate objects in a Persian fairy-tale, in which imprisoned human souls are undergoing martyrdom and pleading for deliverance.'

Apr 9
A remarkable thing in this Matisse painting within a Matisse painting, is how one woman’s hair ‘becomes’ the plant in the vase. It’s something magical and impossible, made possible by painting.

A remarkable thing in this Matisse painting within a Matisse painting, is how one woman’s hair ‘becomes’ the plant in the vase. It’s something magical and impossible, made possible by painting.

Mar 29

A meditation on the moment of death that plays on the American word for autumn

The Death of a Soldier

Life contracts and death is expected,
As in a season of autumn.
The soldier falls.

He does not become a three-days personage.
Imposing his separation,
Calling for pomp.

Death is absolute and without memorial,
As in a season of autumn,
When the wind stops,

When the wind stops and, over the heavens,
The clouds go, nevertheless,
In their direction. 

-Wallace Stevens

Mar 20

"This is how we discuss

ourselves, and nurse desire

here as we gab about

the past, boneless as wool

dolls by a greenwood fire —

soon lit, and soon put out,

Once I was beautiful…

That’s how it goes with us.”

-From Robert Lowell’s “The Old Lady’s Lament for Her Youth” (after Villon)

Mar 18

From ‘At the Fishhouses’ by Elizabeth Bishop…

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals … One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
He stood up in the water and regarded me
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,

As well as showing Bishop’s lovely eccentric interaction with the seal, the guts of these lines remind me of a specific afternoon I had last year with friends, when we went for a walk along the headland at Dunmore East. A seal followed us around from not too far out, watching us the whole time. One of our group, Podge (my friend from Kells), had a personal epiphany looking at this seal. I think it was something to do with perspectivism, with imagining things from the seal’s perspective as it playfully followed us around the jut of the small cliffs. About the animal’s intelligence too. How it wanted us to play with it or interact with it.


The actual seal.

I include the “cold dark deep and absolutely clear,” bookending lines just ‘cos they are so rich in association. They are ostensibly about acquired knowledge, but they could be about poetry or lots of other things too. 

Mar 13

"Names, no doubt, are whimsical draughtsmen, giving us of people as well as of places sketches so unlike the reality that we often experience a kind of stupor when we have before our eyes, in place of the imagined, the visible world (which for that matter, is not the real world, our senses being little more endowed than our imagination with the art of portraiture — so little, indeed, that the final and approximately lifelike pictures which we manage to obtain of reality are at least as different from the visible world as that was from the imagined)."

- this idea packed sentence is in Proust’s ‘Within a Budding Grove.’  The young narrator meets his (then) favourite author Bergotte, who he had preconceived to be a languid elegant old gent, spun like that from the material of the books. Instead, Bergotte is a small stumpy, youngish, short-sighted man with a funny nose. The dissonance is almost too much for the Narrator who admits that it almost retroactively ruins the books he so enjoyed. Proust then further complicates things with the assertion in parentheses that the visible Bergotte is no more ‘real’ than the one the narrator constructed from Bergotte’s books. Similar stuff, slippy play between the real and the imagined, occurs throughout the book.

frondy tulips

frondy tulips

Mar 12
Spring sprung stoneybatter

Spring sprung stoneybatter

Mar 8
rad album cover

rad album cover

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