songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
I’m such a contrarian. This is 2017, the world is screaming, laughing, spinning outta control, and yet now, most inappropriately, I seem to have fallen back in love with life.

I think I knew I was going to be ok when I opened one of David’s Christmas presents to me: a book about British galls. I spent most of Christmas Day reading it and getting excited about Spring, when we can go on a proper gall hunt together.

The gall book taught me (yet another) helpful word: INQUILINE. This is an organism that sort of moves into the gall alongside the ‘gall causer’ or ‘rightful inhabitant’. Whilst a parasitoid tends to kill the ‘rightful inhabitant’, the inquiline is like a lodger. It has a ‘commensal’ relationship with the gall causer. (‘Commensal’ means, ‘at the same table’. Please imagine, like as I do, that they are having dinner together at a little dining table in a little dining room inside the gall.) The inquiline eats some of the gall causer’s food, but doesn’t necessarily do it any harm, unless it eats too much.

I have often thought of myself as a parasite (a loathsome, wretched thing), but I think I am more of an inquiline. A thing that perhaps should not be where it is, but can and will live peacefully alongside the ‘rightful inhabitant’. That doesn’t seem a terrible thing to be.


Ooh, here’s another way to picture the Gall-Causer, the Inquiline and the Parasitoid. The Gall-Causer is Sherlock Holmes. The gall is in a way a kind of laboratory; it is certainly a strange habitat. And the tree (London!) receives passively this gall, and is altered by its presence. The Inquiline is Dr. Watson. It moves in, and it is ‘eating at the gall-causer’s table’, it is along for the ride. Unless it blunders horribly it shouldn’t do any harm. The Parasitoid is Prof. Moriarty. Its one purpose is to kill the gall-causer in furtherance of its own ends.

…I may well be an inquiline but I would never cast myself as Dr. Watson. I think I’d more likely be some weird client.


The culture has mined a new depth of decadence: you can now buy bottles of molten iceberg water from Harrods, £80 a pop.

Had it been available to him, our old pal Des Esseintes would probably have ordered in gallons of this stuff, probably for the purpose of bathing in it, followed by an acute and prolonged attack of guilt. Guilt, I think, is the most expensive luxury of all - for those with any residue of good taste. For those for whom ‘taste’ is just a thing Coca Cola has, a brazen lack of guilt is preferred: think of those shameless big game hunters who pose for grinning selfies next to dead elephants.

Yes, guilt is an emotional tax that some of us pay in return for doing wretched things. Some people, however, are temperamentally tax-evasive.


Yesterday the David and I went record-shopping and I bought one! I got this:


“X” by Klaus Schulze. This is one of my favourites. Mostly because of its side-length piece called ‘Ludwig II. von Bayern’.

You can hear it here, and see it, too, after a fashion - traced on an oscilloscope! :-)

It really does capture the temperament of Ludwig: the obsessive tendency (lots of testy, fidgety repetition), the romantic melancholy (a misty, moonlit, aching mood prevails), the anachronistic muddle (here you have a mixture of spooky synthesiser and live orchestra, along with the occasional musical quote from Vivaldi).

The other pieces are also ‘biographical’, covering various figures (mostly German) admired by Klaus. The album’s title reflects this being his tenth solo album. (Released 1978 - like Yrs Trly!)

Klaus Schulze has an ENORMOUS back-catalogue. I’ve hardly begun to explore it, but there’s lots to enjoy in there. It’s curious how your musical taste can roam. A few years ago the mere idea of listening to German synthesiser music would have made me yawn, but these days Tangerine Dream is one of my most-listened-to groups. Interestingly (well, interesting for me), 1970s German instrumental music of an exploratory bent turns out to be shared territory for the David and I. He has got into Popol Vuh lately (one of my faves) and also a somewhat similar group called Between. Generally we like sort of parallel things (e.g. I like Magma, he likes Gong), but perhaps our circles will elide more as time goes by. I’m glad we both still like finding music that is new to our ears!


Some current reading matter - a curious thing indeed:

Tenebrae by Ernest G. Henham.

“The narrator of Tenebrae inhabits a decaying, desolate mansion in the remote and wild countryside with his younger brother and their mad old uncle, driven insane by abuse of opium and alcohol. This nameless narrator is a morbid young man who passes most of his time in a room painted all black, poring over arcane manuscripts dealing with the mysteries of death, while sipping garishly coloured liquors brewed by his uncle or cups of coffee flavoured with arsenic.”

Jealousy, murder and arachnophobia ensue.

Best enjoyed cheerfully in bed with tea (arsenic optional).

Date: Monday, 20 February 2017 12:43 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Wow, wow, wow, I think I'm going to pass on that book. looking at the shot of the record you bought made me miss album cover art. Sigh, I swear that's one of the few reasons that they are starting to come back.

We have several trees in our neighborhood with galls. I won't be able to look at one now without thinking of you. That's meant nicely, btw. :D

Date: Wednesday, 22 February 2017 17:46 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Definitely that book is a bad choice if you dislike spiders.

I think you may be right re. album art helping bring back lps. Struggling to get the tiny little pamphlet out of a CD case is not the same (and when it comes to downloads, I don't know how people get by with just a jpg! Don't they want to know who the drummer was etc.?!). That particular record sleeve is fun: it's a gatefold with a built-in booklet inside. Unfortunately the text is mostly German (sadly I don't speak German!) but there are lots of cool photos of synthesisers. :-D

Hooray for galls! Happy to be associated with 'em! ;-)

Date: Wednesday, 22 February 2017 17:50 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I thought as much about the book.

I was just noticing some galls already starting to form in one tree.

Date: Tuesday, 21 February 2017 03:42 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I'm liking your recent posts. Lots of personality in them besides the cool topics.

Date: Wednesday, 22 February 2017 17:48 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Thank you! :-D There is something about writing that puts a personality across I find, much more so than conversation in person.

Date: Monday, 27 February 2017 05:56 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
I'm not convinced Tenebrae is a fictional work :) I can entirely imagine that scenario in some English manor house at the turn or early part of the last century!

Date: Tuesday, 7 March 2017 16:46 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Perhaps so! The medicine cupboard tended to be full of poison in those days, and murder was a popular alternative to divorce seemingly!

Date: Saturday, 4 March 2017 22:42 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
If you find a particularly interesting case in your book that you wish to revisit, would you asterisk the gall?

Date: Tuesday, 7 March 2017 16:44 (UTC)From: [identity profile]
Groan!! :-)


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