Archive for June, 2014

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The Fox-Under-the-Hill in Finnegans Wake

June 26, 2014

I’m enjoying exploring a website called Wake in Progress: Illustrations to Finnegans Wake. It records the ‘foolhardy attempt’ of Stephen Crowe to illustrate James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake. Do have a look. Here’s a choice few of his pictures, with some additional commentary from me…

Did I say ‘additional commentary’? Characteristically, what began as a random selection, based on the initial attractions of certain combined words and images, has evolved meanings and associations in the process of interpretation – ‘for ancients link with presents as the human chain extends’ (FW 254.8-9) – in which the pattern woven in and through the Wake encompasses ‘Countlessness of livestories’ (FW 17.26-27) beyond Joyce’s text, in a way that I hadn’t initially anticipated. Well, ‘What will be is. Is is’ (FW 620.32).

Stephen Crowe

Page 102 There’s a little lady waiting… This illustration reminded me of a recent post I did, alluding to HCE, ‘the noneknown worrier‘, who is an everybody ‘magnificently well worthy of any and all such universalisation’ (FW 32.20-21). In this particular case, ‘tombed to the mound’ (FW 17.29), he is interred within a Neolithic passage grave in Guernsey; a state that prompts the invocation to his consort, ALP: ‘Approach to lead our passage!’ (FW 262.2) through that ‘thanacestross mound’ (FW 18.3).

Stephen Crowe

So onto the illustration for page 96, Bestly saved his brush, which seems to follow on from the sepulchral, ‘folks-under-the-hill’ theme, with the motif of resurrection and/or metempsychosis, in the form of ‘our hagious curious encestor’, HCE’s metamorphosis into a fox, identified in Issy’s second footnote on page 293:

O, Laughing Sally, are we going to be toadhauntered by that old Pantifox… for the rest of our secret stripture?

Issy is, of course, referring to the sin in Phoenix Park, ‘where obelisk rises when odalisks fall’ (FW 335.33). Stephen Crowe’s text/picture evokes the alchemical ‘red resurrection’ motif I wrote of here,  but I’m also reminded of the baffling answer to the riddle Stephen Dedalus posed to his class in Ulysses: “The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush”.

George Court, Adelphi

Above all, the Bestly saved his brush illustration is redolent of something of more personal interest I’ve been meaning to write about for a while, concerning a long-lost London pub off The Strand, situated at the end of Ivy Bridge Lane, ‘a narrow and precipitous passage which was formerly the approach to the halfpenny boats’ (Allbut 1899: 6). Nowadays, Ivy Bridge Lane survives as the service road of Shell Mex House. For a time, the pub was  run by Samuel Lovesey, a great-great-etc. uncle of mine 150-or-so years ago, and it was called The Fox-Under-the-Hill:

But, by the beer of his profit, he cannot answer. Upterputty till rise and shine! Nor needs none shaft ne stele from Phenicia or Little Asia to obelise on the spout.

(FW 68.27-30)

Fox-Under

Once the haunt of coal-heavers working at Adelphi Wharf (including a four-times-great grandfather of mine who lived, worked and died there), the site of this vanished Thameside pub is now under Victoria Embankment Gardens, very close to the re-erected Egyptian obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle – ‘Phall if you but will, rise you must’ (FW 4.15) – doubling for the ‘overgrown milestone’ (FW 36.18) of the Wellington Monument obelisk in Phoenix Park, Dublin.

'to obelise on the spout' - Ivy Bridge Lane is marked by the gap between the largest building and the smaller one on the left of the picture. Wikimedia Commons

‘to obelise on the spout’ – Ivy Bridge Lane is marked by the gap between the largest building and the smaller one on the left of the picture. Wikimedia Commons

This ‘pint of porter place’ (FW 260.6) leads inexorably on to the last image of Stephen Crowe’s I was going to share here, concerning the ‘Prankquean episode’ in Finnegans Wake, in which the Prankquean poses the riddle, “why do I am alook alike a poss of porterpease?” (FW 21.18-19), continuing the cycle of collapse and renewal on Page 23: And they all drank free

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 All images (except The Fox-Under-the-Hill) ©Stephen Crowe 2010

Fox Adelphi

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A Dream: The Flowering of the Rod

June 21, 2014

And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

Numbers 17:8

Image

“9 of Clubs” Designed and hooked by Stephanie Ashworth-Krauss, 2003 (from here)

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Owd Nancy’s Petticoat

June 16, 2014

Owd Nancy 1

 

Owd Nancy 2

Owd Nancy’s Petticoat, by Clifford Harper

Anarchy Comics No.1 (September 1978), pp.50-51

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‘Junk Sculpture’ and Fetishism in the New Forest

June 9, 2014

I was thrilled to discover this construction composed of objets trouvés in a ‘contemplative space’ of a garden I visited on Sunday (less thrilled by evidence I need to clean the lens).

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The central wooden pillar with the carved and painted arcs was retrieved from a Forestry Commission skip, while the ‘tusk’ suspended on the right is a piece of driftwood from the beach. Antlers and animal skulls, found on forays into the forest, juxtapose ‘the wild’ with the artificial, illuminative detritus of lanterns and an outgrowth of an electricity pylon. A spider’s web suggests the collaborative nature of such improvisations.

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On the back of the pillar carved snakes writhe. The carvings – arcs and snakes – I am told are the work of Adrian Hosney, a Portsmouth artist. Plastic frogspawn clings on, out of season.

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The gathering together of all these disparate objects and their arrangement – almost as a kind of ‘forest shrine’ – put me in mind of some of the creations of the Danish painter and sculptor, Henry Heerup (4 November 1907 – 30 May 1993), in particular, his junk sculptures, for which old perambulator wheels, bedposts, broken toys – old rubbish that Heerup would find on his daily bicycle rides – were assembled into odd and fantastic figures. As the write-up on the Holstebro Kunstmuseum website puts it: ‘In the art work of Heerup common objects become universal symbols of the big and impalpable sides of existence’.

heerupallot

This delightful little film about him, by Jens Jørgen Thorsen, shows Heerup out and about on his bike and tinkering around in all seasons in his garden/studio.

The ‘junk sculpture’ in the New Forest, evocative of archaic rituals, reminds me of the discussion of fetishism within nineteenth and twentieth century anthropology, summarised in an article by T. Masuzawa, where it is seen as inchoate, erratic, and unprincipled, marking the nadir of cultural value, ‘the polar opposite of the telos of the civilizing process’ (Masuzawa 2000:247). Dismissed as being no more than an incidental assortment of ‘the worship of odds and ends of rubbish’ (Andrew Lang 1893,  Masuzawa 2000:247), fetishism was characterised as a misguided adoration of objects that are ‘intrinsically worthless’, causal objects such as ‘stones, shells, bones and such like things’ (Max Müller 1879, in ibid.). For Max Müller fetishism was not a form of religion, nor a stage of religious development, let alone an original stage, but ‘a certain inferior disposition or weakness to which anyone at any place or any time is, in principle, susceptible’ (Max Müller, in Masuzawa 2000:245).

And yet… although the pleasure derived – at any place or any time – from such ‘odds and ends of rubbish’ may be classed as an inferior disposition or ‘weakness’, it remains alive in our hearts, even in the shadow of the elevated, monumental institutions of Art, Religion, Politics and Economics and their disavowal of the common, the ordinary and the everyday.

Reference

Masuzawa, T. 2000. Troubles with materiality: the ghost of fetishism in the Nineteenth Century. Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol. 42: 242-67.

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Economic Growth and the Emerging Imposition of Seven Day Slavery

June 7, 2014

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Developments in the last few weeks have reminded me that it really is about time I edit Away With the Fairies and post it up online… assuming I can find the time because of those very developments.

I came across this comment on an airline pilots’ forum, dated 14th May 2014:

I am currently subject to 1000 hour a year, random roster, with 8 days off every 4 weeks, not necessarily rostered off days in pairs. In collusion with the local Aviation Authority, my employer has now made it possible to legally work 7 days a weeks. This has been made possible by redefining a ‘day off’ as a period of 24 hours for the purpose of preventing fatigue. This ‘day off’ can now commence one hour after the finish of the current FDP. Whilst a small buffer is further applied, its not enough to prevent working every day. And as a rest period can be part of a day off, no more old fashioned ‘days off’ are necessary to be rostered. I would suspect the term day off will subsequently vanish to be replaced by ‘fatigue prevention period’ or other such title. And before anyone tells me to, I have quit. I value my life and health above all else.

This seems to be a sign of the times; as the original poster says, ‘7 day working week has arrived!

First, the financial crisis and recession of 2008 onwards allowed the political managers of the global economy to impose the policies of austerity, whereby vicious attacks on the living standards of the poor and vulnerable are given an economic rationale. Now, the economic recovery in the UK affords another attack on our quality of life in terms of pressure to extend the working week, in the name of ‘customer service’ or ‘beating the competition’. Of course, Margaret Thatcher’s administration played a role in this process years ago, with the repeal of laws against Sunday trading: retail workers have long been among the most thoroughly exploited.

Nevertheless, I’ve noticed a palpable change in climate in the last few weeks, with a rash of proposals and pilot schemes for Sunday working for couriers and other workers – voluntary for now – with the implication that such a pattern of work will become compulsory. In the name of ‘patient care’, seven-day working is being imposed upon NHS workers. It is disappointing, but entirely consistent with their role as negotiators for the price of our labour, to see unions like the Communications Workers Union actively facilitating the further colonisation of our free time by the world of work, a role recognised in this satirical detournement of a TUC poster from a year or so back.

Future Doesn't Work

One reservation I do have about the poster is its failure to rest with the insight that marches characterise troop movements. Paradoxically, the refusal of work is in itself an act of demobilisation, if we value our life and health. To share a phrase from an anti-political blog: we are not going to war.