Mono no aware

Tuesday, 7 March 2017 14:35
songofcopper: (montesquiou by doucet)
Hello. Herein, a potpourri of petals.

Attempts at preserving the transient come in many forms. Some people take photographs. Some make jam. My instinctive preference is to write things down.

The other day, mine eye landed upon something so ideally symbolic of DECADENCE that I had to record the encounter in my Büchlein.

Decadent object )

People, phones… What am I carping for? Is it really any worse than troops of Victorians sketching everything in sight? As for loathing textspeak ’n’ sexting, just take a look at the postcard section of your local antiques market. Often these ephemeral curiosities feature saucy cartoons, portraits of Noted Beauties, photos of underdressed actresses or athletes. The messages are frequently cryptic love notes and tryst set-ups, and can be signed in secret ways - initials, pet-names (‘Your Sweetheart Always’), or just ‘from You-Know-Who’.

The throwaway stuff that seems not to matter, or that actively irritates us, generally turns out to be the most interesting and useful to historians. Aren’t you glad that people wrote on walls in Pompeii? And yet, you’d probably be cross if some present-day autographer tagged the front of your house. Graffiti: an interesting area to ponder. For example, how do you feel about government-approved areas set aside for street art? Can anything that is placed there have the same sensibility and significance as art that is made guerilla-fashion/wherever the maker wants/illegally? And again, what about transience? Once an item of street art has arrived upon a surface, are we to guard and preserve it, or is it fair game for rival artists, municipal street cleaners, vandals?

How long must something survive ‘against the odds’ before it becomes precious heritage?

*

Will there one day be a way to ‘collect’ digital ephemera? Captured in some kind of storage media, equivalent to an album? Or will we fish for it virtually, dipping a notional jar into long-forgotten isolated internet ponds whose connexion to the larger ocean long since silted up?

The way digital information looks is highly dependent on the software we are using. Will it be someone’s job some day to recreate ancient lost fonts? Simulate antiquated browsers?

My curiosity about this is brought about partly by current reading-matter.

Photo of two books: The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon and Hadrian the Seventh by Fr. Rolfe

Snippets )

AND FINALLY, here’s a notebook with a macabre history - and, well, yes, it’s another joyous local news headline: ‘Wallpaper which killed Napoleon Bonaparte on sale in Exeter.’

Don’t get too excited, folks. We are not talking rolls of the stuff on special offer at Homebase. It’s simply that a local auction house is offering for sale a scrapbook cover, which is alleged to have been made from Napoleon’s famously-arsenical bedroom wallpaper.

After Hitler’s phone and Napoleon’s wallpaper, whatever can be next?! My prediction shall be… Bismarck’s moustache-trimmings. Watch this space, collectors.

*

Ooh, finally-finally, I have pretty much always referred to Wikipedia as ‘Vicipaedia’, but it wasn’t until the other day that I learned that the Latin language edition of Wikipedia is really truly actually called Vicipaedia! Accidental-correct-guess-success, baby. Yeah.

The Local Noise

Saturday, 4 February 2017 14:31
songofcopper: (neg)
What unwary wordsmith coined the phrase ‘fake news’? I really wish they hadn’t. Far from its original sense (purposeful lies and/or mischievous satire, liable to be believed by the undiscerning reader), it has now become a throwaway insult to be lobbed in the direction of any media statement disliked for any reason by any consumer, of whatever political persuasion. It’s like the current affairs equivalent of “Your mama” - nyah, nyah, nyah.

Journalism does seem to be a dying art, of course. Local news is a joke now. Our ‘local paper’ is just one of a great many owned by one of those companies that owns local papers. The websites of the supposedly individual local papers are pretty much interchangeable, except for the header. Proof-reading and sub-editing seem to have been suspended, along with any genuine interest in relevance or depth. (…No, this in itself is not news.)

Yesterday they published an article with the headline, ‘Someone’s spray-painted ‘F**K TRUMP’ on a wall in Exeter’. Illustrated with copious modestly-blurred photographs of the graffito in question, the article does touch on local protests against the enthusiastic American amateur’s alarming Batman-villain approach to statesmanship, but its main focus is the titular act of opinionated vandalism. The distinction of concluding statement is given to the city council’s intention to wash off the spray paint. A whirlwind gallop from world affairs to parochial minutiae: no matter how global the issue, reliably, inevitably, our purview telescopes.

Elsewhere, we learn that ‘Devon woman finds face inside her pepper’. The fruit-or-vegetable at issue does not even have the decency to impersonate Elvis, Jesus or any of those other frequent habitués of perishable foodstuffs - ah, the juxtaposition of immortality and transience! - instead offering a simply-rendered smiley. The writer does not neglect, however, to tell us the woman’s age, in traditional tabloid style. Mind you, this has to be an improvement on that other popular strand of food-related journalism - finding a mouse, a centipede or mould in, on or under your dinner.

If happy produce is too workaday for your taste, then how about this: ‘Here’s why Adolf Hitler's telephone, used to bark his evil orders, is in Dawlish’. Apparently it was smuggled to Britain out of the Berlin Bunker by a British officer, and is now being offered at auction by the officer’s son. The auction is taking place in the USA; the vendor hopes a museum will buy it, but one may conjecture that there are a few folks across the pond who might like to own this object for more personal reasons.

I find myself imagining a horror movie in which the telephone is haunted by the spirit of the late Führer and anyone who uses it becomes his possessed slave, abetted by a horde of Nazi zombies. But wait a while and this very scenario may turn up as an example of present-day ‘journalism’.
songofcopper: (idiots with guns. (Man from UNCLE))
Good lord, I think there's something in the air - or perhaps the water. Something Springlike, some hint of Pan. Flicking through the local paper today in search of articles relevant to my workplace (one of my duties is to cut these out and stick them in a folder - exactly the right sort of soothingly simple task you want on a Friday morning after a dreadful night's sleep!), I noted the following two tales.

Tale the first: a man walks into a shop... so far so mundane. Unfortunately, this man was naked. More unfortunately still, he approached a member of staff whilst in this dangly condition and requested... some hair remover. (The paper did not disclose whether he expected the shop assistant to help him apply it there and then.) The man was arrested for indecent exposure, which presumably means he wasn't that hairy in the first place.

Tale the second: a man (a different man, not our non-hirsute friend cited above) removed all his clothes and climbed naked on to the high altar in the Cathedral. Excuse: "I want to get nearer to god." (So apparently, standing on a table in yer birthday suit is the way to do that...?) Sadly, this miscreant rather spoiled the farce by going on to assault an elderly woman on his way out of the place - from which I assume that his ruse to approach the Divine didn't work too well. :-/ Psychiatric assessment was recommended for this fellow - sighs of relief all round.

Tale the third, now... this was not in the paper; this I witnessed with my own eyes. At the railway station, going to catch my train, I spotted a man dressed as... a carrot. (Pause, to allow the mental image to sink in...) Not only that: he was carrying a real carrot, rather reverently, as if it were sentient, in his hand. (Go on - have another pause, on me.) Immediately, I thought: "This must be a stag do - right?" - but the fellow appeared to be on his own. My imagination wants to feel that he was invoking the spirit of the sacred root, but I have a feeling there may have been alcohol or money or both involved. Still - it takes all sorts, I suppose: exhibitionists, religious maniacs and vegetable-shamans included.

On days like this, I feel so boring!!

P.S.: patchy internet service and maniacal writing jag have kept me away from here for a few days. Comment catch up time is indicated, I feel - please excuse my truancy! :-D

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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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