Saturday, February 04, 2017

Malchkeon and her three-tier garden

‘Monuments are interesting mostly in how they diminish all other aspects of the landscape. Each highly perceptible thing makes something else almost imperceptible. This is so matter of fact, but I’ve been told I’m incomprehensible: Anne, what do you mean that noticing one thing can make the other thing disappear?‘
—from ‘The Innocent Question’

“When one reads properly it is as if a third person is present.”
~E.M. Forster, letter to William Plomer, December 12, 1957

A  recycled teenager in love is like a flower in winter ...

“Yes, a frozen bottle of vod(k)a and a bottle of wine were the ultimate distillation of time and place; a poetic expression of individuality itself.  Yet here they were, cast back into the sea of anonymity, that realm of averages and unknowns ...” 

Even on one of the hottest days in Sydney Malchkeon's table filled with spicy food was cool as the third tier always gets a breeze under the Oak, Karajong and Lilipili trees. Moreover Lydia with Christopher and Jacob made the garden alive ...


I always know better, I have a terribly accurate knowledge of people; yet this knowledge does not interest me, anyone who has lived a while could have it. I am interested in what refutes this knowledge, what annuls it. I would like to turn a usurer into a benefactor, a bookkeeper into a poet. I am interested in the leap, the surprising metamorphosis.
  • Canetti (via here
    A book is like a garden carried in the pocket:

     "If poverty had been the keynote of the convent buildings, its garden was redolent of wealth. There was, even here, certain evidence of monastic austerity, in that no flowers grew for the sake of their beauty alone, but the formal beds beneath the peach trees were rich with thyme and lavender and purple rosemary, while the feet of the pear and apple trees, espaliered on the surrounding walls, stood deep in a silver drift of sage. A row of apricot trees lent support to a disciplined riot of vines; below it, in careful ranks, fading stems were weighted with the fabulous red of tomatoes. There was even a pair of orange trees, standing sentinel at the end of a box-bordered path, looking, with their symmetrical heads hung with glossy green fruit, for all the world like guardians of some fantastic gateway to fairytale, or to the herb-garden pictured on some faded medieval page ... basil, vervain, borage; saffron, hyssop, juniper; violet for heart's-ease, and blue clary and the little lemon thyme ... Over all hung the scent of spices and warm earth, and the resinous smell of the near pine-woods mingled sleepily with the fragrance of lavender. Not a bird sang, but the air was loud with bees."

    From Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart

‘She tried to move a large spider but was too hasty and tore its body apart.’

A philosopher’s philosopher, very influential and impressive.

His argument regarding the unimportance of personal identity led to these reflections:

‘When I believed [that personal identity is what matters], I seemed imprisoned in myself. My life seemed like a glass tunnel, through which I was moving faster every year, and at the end of which there was darkness. When I changed my view, the walls of my glass tunnel disappeared. I now live in the open air. There is still a difference between my life and the lives of other people. But the difference is less. Other people are closer. I am less concerned about the rest of my own life, and more concerned about the lives of others.

When I believed [that personal identity is what matters], I also cared more about my inevitable death. After my death, there will be no one living who will be me. I can now redescribe this fact. Though there will later be many experiences, none of these experiences will be connected to my present experiences by chains of such direct connections as those involved in experience-memory, or in the carrying out of an earlier intention. Some of these future experiences may be related to my present experiences in less direct ways. There will later be some memories about my life. And there may later be thoughts that are influenced by mine, or things done as the result of my advice. My death will break the more direct relations between my present experiences and future experiences, but it will not break various other relations. This is all there is to the fact that there will be no one living who will be me. Now that I have seen this, my death seems to me less bad.’

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
— ee cummings 

So, there were those long walks of unravelling, where you went out with no fixed purpose, no special destination, seeking the space that is yourself. Maybe such vacancy was all you sought to lose, then find, your wish being to move through the city simply as a presence, stepping free of intentions and timetables, as if invited to a secret celebration.
On some days it was too beautiful for you to be able to say anything at all, like foliage trapped behind glass. Until this February morning as you stand at an upstairs window, while all around a certain quite definite silence waits. Then it comes, that sense of being here and not here, all things chiming at once in an epiphany of absence, and for a moment you are quite lost in it.
— John Welch, from ‘There and Back’