Gaze at this image for a full thirty seconds then look at a blank wall or close your eyes and tilt your head back. You’ll see a circle of light. Continue looking until you see a mysterious apparition.
If it doesn’t work near your computer, it might be an idea to print it and try elsewhere or, if it’s a laptop, move somewhere gloomier.
Reading a book on the sculptor Richard Deacon I came across this pleasant anecdote retold by Peter Schjeldahl: it’s something Deacon overheard: ‘’What’s that then? Is it ducting?’ one man said to another in London in 1985. The questionable object was a metal sculpture that Richard Deacon was assembling outside the Serpentine Gallery. ‘Nah’ the other man answered, ‘it’s art. Look at the way it’s put together’’.
Am I the only one who refuses to say ‘guy’ meaning ‘chap’? I even heard a young mother use it the other day … ‘Come on you guys’. She was addressing her two little daughters! American linguistic imperialism has resulted in the demise of ‘as if’ in favour of their ‘like’. ‘Have you got …?’ has become ‘Do you have …?’ and the Present Perfect with its pleasant nuance of current relevance and the primacy of fact over time scarcely exists. But one current usage whose provenance completely baffles me is the double ‘is’ as in ‘The problem is … is that Italy is a major player …’.
Every now and then I learn some poetry that particularly affects me and inflict it at every opportunity on unsuspecting victims.
This is one – the opening of ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg:
‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night’.
‘Beach’ is a bit of an overstatement. As the tide receded, it revealed a stretch of scummy, scarred industrial sand spurned by the late afternoon strollers along the minimal prom.
Near the car-park an alcoholic with a ruined, purple face was gently feeding pigeons who took bread from his hand. An overweight middle-aged couple wandered gloomily along wearing big, fluorescent green, Afro wigs.
Ahead, across the Mersey estuary, stood the haunting cranes and gantries of Birkenhead. Between us and them were one hundred life-size male figures staring unmoving out to sea. They all looked just like Anthony Gormley.
This thought occurred to me as I was walking back from Sainsbury’s this morning. I’m afraid it has all the hallmarks of those self-congratulatory catchphrases you see outside Christian churches penned by some god-bothering suit in marketing. But here goes:
The bigger the question, the smaller the answer.
Anything in it?
(The trouble is … I’m imagining one pretty small answer.)
Thank you for the many kind responses to Number 29a … much appreciated.