Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
What does it mean to be out walking in the world, whether in a landscape or a metropolis, on a pilgrimage or a protest march? In this first general history of walking, Rebecca Solnit draws together many histories to create a range of possibilities for this most basic act. Arguing that walking as history means walking for pleasure and for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit homes in on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from the peripatetic philosophers of ancient Greece to the poets of the Romantic Age, from the perambulations of the Surrealists to the ascents of mountaineers.
With profiles of some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction – from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Rousseau to Argentina’s Mother of the Plaza de Mayo, from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton’s Nadja – “Wanderlust” offers a provocative and profound examination of the interplay between the body, the imagination, and the world around the walker.
Rebecca Solnit is the author of, among other works, Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; and (also from Verso) A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland.
“A history of walking that is about time and space and consciousness of the world as much as about putting one foot in front of the other.” The Times
“A writer of startling freshness and precision.” New York Times Book Review
“Solnit walks, but her prose soars. This is a stunningly original account of the simple, subversive activity that keeps us human. Pedestrians of the world, unite!” Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz
“Through landscapes of pleasure, over the hills and dales of politics, Wanderlust is a long, sweet walk through history in very good company. With her unique combination of erudition, lyricism, and irreverence, Rebecca Solnit has written a book for those who trespass with both mind and body.” Lucy R Lippard, author of On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art and Place
“Solnit certainly knows her subject, as some famous and not so famous walkers move across the page. She knows how and where they move. She knows why they take to the road in the first place. It’s a pleasure and an education to follow them.”
Duncan Minshull, editor of The Vintage Book of Walkin
The Emancipated Spectatorby Jacques Rancière
In this title, the foremost philosopher of art argues for a new politics of seeing. The role of the viewer in art and film theory revolves around a theatrical concept of the spectacle. The masses subjected to the society of spectacle have traditionally been seen as aesthetically and politically passive – in response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an active agent and the spectacle into a performance. In this follow-up to the acclaimed “The Future of the Image”, Ranciere takes a radically different approach to this attempted emancipation. Beginning by asking exactly what we mean by political art or the politics of art, he goes on to look at what the tradition of critical art, and the desire to insert art into life, has achieved. Has the militant critique of the consumption of images and commodities become, instead, a melancholic affirmation of their omnipotence?
“His art lies in the rigor of his argument – its careful, precise unfolding – and at the same time not treating his reader, whether university professor or unemployed actress, as an imbecile.” Kristin Ross
“It’s clear that Jacques Ranciere is relighting the flame that was extinguished for many – that is why he serves as such a signal reference today.” Thomas Hirschhorn
Ways of Seeing: Based on the BBC Television Seriesby John Berger
“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak. “But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but word can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and the most influential books on art in any language. First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the (London) Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures.” By now he has.
John Berger was born in London in 1926. He is well known for his novels & stories as well as for his works of nonfiction, including several volumes of art criticism. His first novel, “A Painter of Our Time”, was published in 1958, & since then his books have included the novel “G.”, which won the Booker Prize in 1972. In 1962 he left Britain permanently, and he lives in a small village in the French Alps.
On September 11, 2001, in the wake of the appalling attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, Sky News carried an interview with an Israeli foreign ministry representative. He was indignant, and unequivocal in asserting that the blame for the tragedy lay squarely at the hands of terrorist forces.
What I found compelling about the broadcast, however, was the speed with which the denunciations were issued – within two to three hours of the calamity – and the fact that they were communicated live from the Sky studios in London. If indeed the individual just happened to be in the area, then he had displayed no lack of haste in finding his way to the studios.
That aside, the very fact that one of the first people to proffer the word ‘terrorist’ that day – irrespective of whether it was true or not – happened to be an Israeli government official, aroused my curiosity in no uncertain terms.
Armed with just a superficial knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at that stage, during the subsequent weeks I became emboldened to watch events unfold in the occupied territory of the West Bank. Almost a year after the outbreak of the second Intifada, Israel would discharge the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) on Palestinian towns and villages with increasing regularity during this period. Incursions also became more brutal, culminating six months later in Palestinian civilians in Nablus and Jenin being buried alive by Israeli bulldozers.
To me, there was no escape from the sense that Israel was cashing in on the global political climate of the time, at pains to draw a parallel between the USA’s burgeoning war on terror, and its own battle to contain Palestinian suicide bombers. The suspicion that they were not, as Israel was so eager to impress, one and the same thing, only served to fuel my thirst for more information.
The motivation to undertake this project stems from the knowledge I have accumulated on the conflict since then, from a strong conviction that to focus on the land is to understand the essence of the dispute, and from a profound desire to visit the region itself.
From March 7 to March 15, 2008, I embarked upon a journey that took me from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, into Bethlehem’s hinterland, on to the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Jenin, to the remote villages of Anin and Faqua, and back to Jerusalem. The interviews I conducted in the process of this trip provide the basis for this thesis. I had initially conceived of a brief entailing the study of olive grove farmers in the West Bank, and expected, naively, that this could be prosecuted in an a-political fashion. But in the West Bank, politics infiltrates every pore of society; one cannot siphon it away, and certainly not where land matters are concerned.
As somebody a little wary of the degree to which ‘objectivity’ is achievable in newspaper journalism, I make no bones about my fundamental sympathy towards the Palestinian cause. Unlike many people, however, I believe that bias can act as a catalyst in establishing truth, not necessarily corrupt it.
The scope of this project is too limited to delve comprehensively into history, or the plethora of points of view on this topic. I am conscious that nothing is ever black and white, that there are a thousand variables. But the broad premise I take is that it was the tragedy of the Zionist project, as journalist Seumas Milne points out, “that Jewish self-determination could only be achieved at another people’s expense”. 1
Witnessing at first-hand the manner in which Palestinians are continually stripped of their dignity has only re-enforced my views. It is a source of intense frustration to observe television and newspaper reports, in striving for a safe and digestible ‘objectivity’ in its coverage of the conflict, to persist in glossing over so many of the critical finer details. The construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, for instance, is routinely communicated as a footnote in news reports, when in reality it constitutes the very essence of the problem. It also constitutes an outrageous act of violence against the Palestinian people.
Settlement activity is not just incompatible with the peace process, as Israeli historian Avi Schlaim has argued, it is “intended to wreck it”. 2
So it is not terrorism, in my opinion, but the absence of justice that is the very root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel, with its sophisticated army of PR chiefs, will dress it up in a million ways, but what is being executed in Palestine is a blatant and indifferent imperialistic conquest of land.
I am only too aware of the myriad justifications – whether biblical or Holocaust-derived – Israel tenders for its behaviour, and I hold a huge amount of sympathy for Israelis who are wrongly tainted by the actions of the state and the settlers. But to steal a man’s land is to offend the human soul in one of the gravest ways imaginable. As the formidable Israeli journalist Amira Hass said of her country in reflecting on the first Intifada:
“Like every occupation before it, Israel – despite having controlled the territory since 1967 – had still not learned that resistance and terror are responses to occupation itself and to the form of terror embodied by the foreign ruler.” 3
The assumption that an essential difference between the way Jews and other nations are to be treated is not hinted at in the Bible… On the contrary, the Torah repeatedly stresses the demand for fair treatment and even love of non-Jewish citizens: ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt; I, the Lord, am your God.’ (Leviticus 19:33-34) 4 Holy, Holy, Holy Land
In this, the holiest of all places on earth, there is nothing more sacred than the land. An abundant resource that determines and nourishes culture, dictates lifestyle and social structure, delivers economic well being and feeds life itself, possession of land is critical. And in Palestine, identities have been forged by Israel’s advances to seize more of it, and the Palestinian struggle to simultaneously retain what little of it they still hold and recover what they have lost.
Indigenous cultures the world over share a ferocious and deep attachment to the land, the Palestinians no less so. Palestine is the home of the olive tree ¬– jars of olive oil have been discovered in Jericho that date back to 6,000 BC. 5 As much as feeding society and lifestyle, olive culture has shaped the physical land, with terraces cut strategically into the landscape in order to retain water. But the West Bank’s 10 million olive trees are not merely vehicles of sustenance; they are deeply emblematic and reliable witnesses to Zionism’s political conquest of Palestine.
The primacy of control over the land and its resources for Israel and its Zionist champions was not lost on Ariel Sharon, veteran of the 1948 War of Independence and prime minister of Israel from 2001-2006. “When Sadat [Egyptian president, 1970-1981] would tell me that for the Arabs land is sacred, that made me envious. People today don’t get excited by the idea of ‘another acre and another acre’. But I still get excited… The War of Independence has not ended. The sword is part of life.” 6
That War of Independence, which gave birth to the Jewish state of Israel, is remembered among Palestinians as the ‘nakba’ (catastrophe), because it cost between 700,000 and 800,000 of them their homes, land and livelihoods in what is today Israel. Israeli leaders would later lament the tragic ‘flight’ of Palestinian refugees as a regrettable consequence of war. But initially, figures such Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, called the evacuation “a miraculous clearing of the land”. Israel’s prime minister from 1969, Golda Meir, even remarked that: “It is not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” 7
But demonstrably, the Palestinians did exist, and there was nothing miraculous about their ‘clearing’, as revisionist historians have since proven conclusively. As Nur Masalha notes in Expulsion of the Palestinians: “It was less a miracle than it was the culmination of over a half century of effort, plans, and in the end, brute force.” 8
In devising blueprints for the transfer of Palestinians long before 1948, and taking steps after the war to ensure that the refugees could never return to their homes, the Zionist leadership acted with remarkable cohesion. They knew that without the uprooting of a significant portion of the native population, a Jewish state would be untenable. Even the Israel proposed under the 1947 UN Partition Plan – which assigned 55% of Palestine to Israel – would have had a 42% Arab minority. As Yosef Weitz, director of Land Department of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), author of the 1937 ‘transfer plan’ and head of the Transfer Committee during the 1948 war, remarked: “Amongst ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country.” 9
Victory over the Arab League forces left Israel in control of 78% of historic Palestine. Having implemented Weitz’s ‘Scheme for the Solution of the Arab Problem in the State of Israel’ by destroying Arab villages and preventing the return of refugees, the nascent entity – under its first leader, David Ben-Gurion – then rushed to settle Jewish immigrants on the plundered land, and enacted the Absentees’ Property Law of 1950 to establish legal backing for its actions.
The state confiscated the land of the ‘absentee’ refugees by giving intermediary control of it to a ‘custodian’, who in turn transferred ownership to the state Development Authority, which then put the land at the disposal of new Jewish arrivals. The JNF, which made its first land purchase in Palestine in 1910, and which explicitly prohibits the lease of land to Israel’s non-Jewish citizens, owns 2.5 million dunams (1 dunam is equal to 0.1 hectare) today and plays a key role in managing all other state lands (94.5% of Israel is state land). 10
The Absentees’ Property Law was followed by a series of emergency regulations in the early 1950s, which created ‘closed areas’ that Palestinian farmers were prevented from entering, and ‘security zones’ near the borders that were also off limits. Meanwhile, lands not being cultivated could be taken over by the minister for agriculture. The Land Acquisition Law, the Public Purpose Ordinance and the Land Law of 1969 also contributed to make it almost impossible for Palestinians to establish title to lands that were theirs, and provided the state with a licence to eat away at the holdings of around 150,000 Palestinians who did not leave during 1948.
Q: How do you become a millionaire in the independent arts?
A: Start off as a multi-millionaire
This article is supposed to my thoughts on the D.I.Y. culture that has grown in Cork in the last few years, but like all singer-songwriters I have only one real subject I can write about and that’s myself.
Apparently I am a fervent member of the D.I.Y. culture in Cork, but why I don’t know. If I am I don’t think about it like that, I put it to you that putting on a gigs, or creating something in anyway, be it art or event, is like riding a bike. The first few times you are nervous and aware but really quickly it becomes second nature. It gets to the point where you are surprised when someone says they can’t cycle. “Why not?” you ask, “it’s so easy”. When people point out to me that I always have a flyer for something, I feel like asking what is so weird about that? People, who are happy with drinking 8 cans at home, moaning about nothing happening, bemuse me.
Five people drinking €20 of beer each is also enough to rent a really good small PA, hook up your guitars/ipods/walkmen/record player and suddenly it’s an event. I know of at least 6 places where you can get a room for free. All five of ye text 50 people in your phone, that’s maybe €25 in credit. Charge €3 in and if 40 people pay in you will make a profit. Sure you might lose €30, but what would you have done with that anyway? Write it off against the time your uncle bought you all the pints one night last summer, and wouldn’t let you put your hand in your pocket. Or that fifty quid you’ll get off your granny next Christmas even though you’re 26. But you might just make €100, you’ll already have the money you need for next time, do it ten times and you can pay to hire someone you really like, maybe that guy who you’d love to see play in your club – Squarepusher? Shellac? Ray D’Arcy? They are all just people like you, get in touch with them. Making things happen is simple.
For D.I.Y., I read that as independent, people who will follow whatever path they want to follow, and will somehow scrape together the resources to do it, be it an album, an exhibition, a publication or a film. But it doesn’t necessarily mean bravery, it really is just stubborn-ness; like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, “just stay down Luke, stay down!” – it’s not that he keeps getting up, it’s that when he does stay down it’s on his terms. You know how the only person who can make the right cup of tea is you? Well, if you ever criticized something in a club/pub/movie/exhibition that means you know there are other options. Why not prove that you were right, there IS a better way to do it. Sitting around and saying it will get you nowhere.
A lyric I heard once on a hip-hop mix-tape that I’ve always remembered but forgotten who sung it is, “being independent doesn’t mean we’re broke, just means we’re self sufficient”. The people behind the Kino, the skate park when it was open, the lobby, sub fm, the folk festival, bandicoot, even the where’s me culture? group itself, I don’t see them buying rounds for the whole bar, I don’t see them clutching prada bags on pana, or driving a jaguar to the ivory tower for lunch but you don’t see them borrowing money to pay for coffee, or buying the cheapest bread in Lidl. I don’t know their private finances or anything like that but my point is that they manage to live their lives AND do what they want to do in terms of culture.
But what is D.I.Y. culture? I don’t know, is the launderette gallery on McCurtain St an example cos Ray opened up a gallery exhibiting people he wanted to see but none of the established galleries would do it. “Yeah fuck it, I’ll open it, I’ll make it break even in the first year, make a few bob in the second and maybe retire/get a real job in 7 years.” Or is it an end of the D.I.Y. lifestyle for the artist he is exhibiting and them finally dealing with “the man”?
Is the Kino the ultimate punk idea of running a cinema, where they can sell the exact coffee they want, show films by unknown Canadians with no agent or distribution and have a party there if they feel like it? Or is it a business, just like a plumber or mobile phone shop? I don’t know, what I do know is that my mam hates the idea of buying an apple tart because “you can never be sure how they’ll taste”, especially when she can bake one herself. Now that principle only works so far with my argument, but if you see sense in her argument, you can see it in mine
You might see me cycling around the city, (I bought my bike after a gig I put on went particularly well), I wear glasses and a red cycling helmet. Stop me and ask me for a bit of advice, chat or a hand doing something, I’ll try my best. Or stop me and tell me I’m an annoying little arty bollix. Or ignore me cos you don’t need any help to do what you want to do. Just do something. We must create, ladies and gentlemen, we must create.
These days it seems like arts festivals are ten a penny. I should know, I’ve worked for twelve of them in the space of two and a half years. But they are very complex cultural performances. Each individual project within the festival does not take place independently of one another but instead they provide a running commentary on each other, question one another and refer to one another – all through the design of the festival programme. It is predominantly the artistic director who has the responsibility for the design of the programme along with the providing the requisite leadership traits necessary to maintain the faith of both festival audiences and his/her own festival staff.
But what are artistic directors about? Is it a never-ending parade of launches, schmoozing and boozing or is there more to it than that? How does an artistic director satisfy their own need for creativity, for flamboyance and for idiosyncratic thinking in the face of an oppressive board of directors, disgruntled, under-paid and under-nourished staff while simultaneously appeasing the great unwashed mass that is the modern-day arts audience?
I spent the worst part of a summer investigating this for a number of murky and shifty reasons but despite this came across some interesting ideas. According to Paula Clancy in her essay Skills and Competencies: The Cultural Manager, directors of arts facilities and programmes, including arts centres, galleries, festivals, and performing venues, represent a significant proportion of the managers in the arts sectors…they have a broad range of management tasks…bearing the ultimate responsibility for all aspects of the organisation.
And according to Mitchell and Fisher, there is a clear distinction between the roles of artistic director and manager – the director is responsible for the artistic production and generally does not have the time to devote to administration. On the other hand, the manager’s task is to create the conditions in which the aims of the artistic director can be fulfilled and the operations sustained. Not only that but the manager has to be aware of developments in artistic policy, be able to solve financial, juridicial, staffing and automation problems, have knowledge about marketing, public relations and general trends in society.
One artistic director I spoke to maintains that the artistic director’s vision is always compromised by the festival itself: ‘a gung-ho attitude is very risky. Media coverage in Ireland is very conservative people don’t react well to change. Despite this, I trust my own programming ability and profile and I trust the audience will try something new every once in a while – they will give something new a chance. There is a constant burden on the artistic director to get everything right. At the end of the day, the programme should be the best you can get with all the compromises involved, although the financial side for me is very much the third aspect. ‘
Also, after interviewing quite a few artistic directors, I realised that there certainly is a considerable mix of leadership traits within an artistic director. Perhaps the most striking aspect is that the directors interviewed do not actively see themselves as leaders which suggests that there has been a shift in recent years from the hypothesis of the artistic director as the authoritative leadership figure ‘directing’ his/her staff and expecting them to follow orders – to a more collaborative view of the leader as a charismatic and transformational figure, with an overall vision for the festival yet working closely with others to achieve this vision.
The division of culture versus commercialism certainly underpins the role of artistic director and it can be a constant battle ensuring one’s artistic vision is fully realised. While ‘playing the system’ is undoubtedly an important part of this, it seemed clear that artistic directors trust their own programming abilities and also trust that their audience will want to see something new and challenging once in a while.
Indeed, all of the interviewed subjects agreed that the role of artistic director had the conflict of culture versus commercialism, as one put it, as the core element of the position. The critic Dubin proposes that administrative and bureaucratic interests take precedence over artistic innovation which, ultimately, cannot succeed within a highly structured organisation – in this case, an arts festival.
A pessimistic view? Or, especially in this climate, a realistic view? What do you think?
In early 2007 Ian Whitty bought a ‘How To Start Your Own Business’ book. Using the template provided he began to cobble together a business plan on various scraps of paper and napkins (basically approaching the world of finance in the same way he does song-writing). A couple of weeks later he found himself in a bank be-decked in a suit and waffling at length about ROIs (Return On Investments) and USPs (Unique Selling Points). It was thus in the dying days of the economic boom that ‘The new Ian Whitty and The Exchange’ record became possible. Check out ‘On Our Radio’ for a listen into Ian Whitty.
The result is ‘The Lucky Caller No 9′, a fantastic record which has had high praise lavished on it from all quarters of the music industry and music lovers alike with several industry figures identifying Ian
Whitty and The Exchange as the ones to watch in 2009. Having completed a highly successful 15 date tour in the dying days of 2008 things are now going from strength to strength for Ian Whitty and The Exchange. The record was produced by top Irish producer Ken McHugh (Dave Kitt, Autamata) and mastered by Dave Collins in Los Angeles (Bruce Springsteen, Janes Addiction).It was recorded by Ian Whitty and The Exchange in 2007 between the legendary Connollys of leap in West Cork and Adda/My Sanctuary studio’s in the hills of Wicklow.
Since his emergence Ian has been a highly active figure in the thriving Cork music scene, indeed members of The Exchange also share duties with Armoured Bear, Stanley Super 800 with members of FRED also contributing to the album. Ian Whitty is a songwriter who firmly believes in craft and in always placing substance over style and he’s most often praised for his distinctive vocal delivery and lyricism that manages to be urgent, humorous and razor sharp without ever sacrificing the storytelling that underpins his songs. Lush strings and brass dominate the indie pop arrangements of the new recordings and the up tempo nature of the songs marks an exciting progression from Ian’s stripped back beginnings. The energy and urgency brought by The Exchange ushers these songs into a new realm seldom entered by songwriters on the domestic scene.
R. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.
Check them out at www.slr.org
This month our regular skills exchange album reviewer takes a look at the Fleet Foxes new album, An Icy Winter Hymnal
This Winter could potentially be seriously depressing if it weren’t for all that sunshine. It’s become more obvious lately that a rapidly changing music business coupled with the negative effects of a global recession have begun to make an impact upon, not only record companies but artists, promoters and venues too; let alone the average punter whom the entire industry relies upon for their enthusiasm, loyalty and patronage. We’re all feeling it to some degree, in particular with some of our favoured venues around the country publicly announcing low ticket sales and how they’re feeling the pinch financially. However, there’s more than one simple explanation for this; it’s not just the tightening of the belts of the gig going public, there’s often the fact that not every city on this island has access to venues capable of enticing higher profile artists such as Bon Iver, Foal etc. (both playing Dublin in early December) which incurs an added expense on folk sometimes travelling to our Fair Capital out of love for live music. That said, I’ve noticed throughout all this, South coast cities like Cork and Waterford still have a thriving live music scene of their own, with events hosting both local and international acts happening regularly with generally strong to middling attendance. However, even if there is a bit of leg work involved, it’s still clear that this island has a cracking music scene and our capital city is a strong focal point of this energy.
The N/M7 is a road well travelled by music fans, it’s a journey I rarely regret, though has not been without its tribulations (Kim Deal, you’ll get yours, I swear!!!). Earlier this month I made the pilgrimage once again to Vicar St. which, it has to be said, is one of the finest venues in the country. This year alone my ears have swooned to knockout sets by, among others, Deerhunter, Dan Deacon and just very recently, Fleet Foxes. The latter may well prove to have included some of the most blissful moments this listener has experienced all year in any darn music hall. Purveyors of what they have (knowingly) themselves described as “baroque harmonic pop”, these boys from the US NorthWest raised the roof with their clutch of bluegrass/folk rock tunes that neither David Crosby nor Brian Wilson would be ashamed of. The crowd were uproarious in their welcome for these laconic bearded blokes, who cheered all with their Enya jibes and incredible layered choral stylings. Kicking off with an acapella “Sun Giant”, those vocal harmonies warmed the crowd as any titular sun giant would, except this was contained to the darkened confines of Vicar Street. They took their time meandering through their short but beautiful catalogue, regular roars of “Mykonos” from the crowd were interrupted with tracks such as the sublime “Drops in the River” and “Ragged Wood”, these two being this reviewers goosebumpy moments of choice of 2008. By the time “Mykonos” made its appearance at encore, I’d forgotten the fact that having a smoke outside would make me nipples like bullets; this was all the warmth I needed.
It’s not that I don’t have moments such as these in the PRofC. I was disappointed that Born Ruffians cancelled Cypress Avenue two weeks ago, as they seriously held their own against Caribou in Crane Lane earlier this year. Cork has seen a raft of decent gigs in the past few weeks (Tindersticks, Jape, Dalek, Primal Scream), with a few remaining contenders yet to be seen in December (The Futureheads, Armoured Bear, The Wedding Present and in particular, at least for yours truly, Stereolab @ The Pavillion). But we’re feeling a cold snap folks. There’s a chill in the air, snow on them mountains and them there roads are slippy. But there’s nothing better than piling on the layers and heading out in it, braving the elements, taking a veritable age to take ‘em all back off, wrestling with yer ManBag® and settling down with a pint in your hand listening to The Groop running through some tunes. We’ve got to keep giggin’ and liggin’ where at all possible! With that said, I’m keen on hearing what The Pavillion will have to offer as the new kid on the Cork Block. It’s got serious potential, even if it’s not quite worked for me yet but I am eternally a generous optimist!
New Year is not the time to begin growing. But, as I said before, any windowsill which gets direct light for several hours a day will allow you grow small amounts of leaves and herbs.
Herbs are important. For cooking, teas, remedies. There are no shortage of books. Culpeper’s Herbal or the English Physician etc., published in 1652, is arguably the first English language compendium of herbs and their uses. Of borage, an aromatic with beautiful blue flowers, he wrote: Use of Borage maketh a man merry and joyful…if taken in wine all thy family and thy friends could die before thy face and thou couldest not grieve or shed a tear for them.
Borage, and many more herbs, can be grown with little effort. The following, with additions in italics, are instructions on how to grow your own herb garden indoors from www.gardenguides.com The steps and props may sound a little daunting but they’re all available in garden shops, or on freecycle (www.freecycle.com).
Things You’ll Need • Fish Emulsions
• Planting Containers (anything of an appropriate size with holes in the bottom will do. If you look around, ask around, you should have no problem getting them from people)
• Herb Plants (Don’t get the crap little ones from Tesco et al. It is important to get healthy plants, so go to a garden shop or nursery)
• Potting Soil
• Screen Mesh (Not essential, and chicken wire would do)
• Seaweed extract or Mushroom Compost (Not essential either, any food would do: if you made your own compost for example, just a small container which you could keep outdoors; or, again, I saw someone offering compost on freecycle the other day)
Choose a spot that gets at least 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Most herbs like some ventilation but no direct drafts and no great fluctuations in temperature (Indoor herbs don’t like cooking fumes and the fluctuating heat of a small kitchen, nor do they like the hot, dry air directly above a radiator.)
Decide what herbs you want to grow. Study books about herbs and peruse catalogs, and think about what you want to do with your herbs: cook with them, make potpourri or simply enjoy their foliage and fragrance. In general, bushy perennial herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and winter savory, perform better indoors than those with soft stems, such as mint and tarragon. Scented geraniums make wonderful, fragrant herbal roommates, as do lemon verbena, basil, coriander and some varieties of lavender.
Buy your plants at a nursery that specializes in herbs. Your selection will be much bigger than it will at a general nursery, and the staff is almost guaranteed to be enthusiastic and knowledgeable. (Ask the people in the nursery what they think. Tell them what you want the herbs for, what food you like, whether you get colds, have trouble sleeping. They’ll also be able to tell you what herbs might grow best in the place you are growing them.)
Step Four Use containers that are at least 8 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches across for each plant. To group multiple plants in a larger container, simply allow 6 to 8 inches between plants.
Lay pieces of screen mesh over the containers’ drainage holes and add a premium-quality, well-draining potting soil mixed with coarse sand and mushroom compost. (Nurseries sell it in small bags.) Further ensure good drainage by setting the pots on a tray filled with gravel.
Step Six Set the plants into their new quarters at the same depth they were growing in their nursery pots and water them well.
Be careful not to overwater. A good soaking once or twice a week will keep most herbs happy. Stand each pot in about an inch of tepid water until the soil is moist but not saturated.
Feed the plants once a week when they’re actively growing, using seaweed extract or fish emulsion.
Harvest indoor herbs with care. Clip outer leaves or sprigs as you need them, but always leave plenty of vigorous growth on the plant.
There are many myths surrounding Indian food. It is difficult to prepare. It requires a large and costly initial investment in special ingredients. It is fiery hot and inedible. None of these beliefs are true. Indian food is easy to cook and requires no extraordinary culinary skills. It need not be hot and, speaking personally, fiery curries have never much appealed to me. Ten to fifteen euro should be sufficient to purchase the key ingredients and no obscure, oriental, kitchen utensils are called for.
Apart from the culinary joy of eating Indian food, it has other great advantages. It can be re-heated easily and it freezes very well. It is also the perfect way of entertaining amixed group of vegetarians and meat eaters. Indeed on such social occasions, you will often hear the vegetarians complain that the carnivores are eating “their” non-meat dishes. A carnivore myself, I have drawn such complaints and for this I make no apology. What dedicated meat eater would not be tempted by the range of pulse and vegetable dishes, which are such a key component of Indian cuisine ?
The above said, I must at all cost be honest with my readers. Indian food is time-consuming to prepare. One needs to exercise care in measuring out the different spices that the individual recipes require, a certain amount of chopping is invariably involved and thereafter, most dishes must be given close attention while they are cooking on the stove or in the oven. However, this is a small price to pay for the gastronomic delights that await you. And remember, that you can always prepare dishes in advance and put them either in the freezer or in the fridge.
It has not been difficult for me to choose the recipe that I am now going to share with you. I cook “Indian” for my children quite often and this Kashmiri Rogan Josh is, with good reason, an enduring favourite of theirs. It is distinctive, principally because it does not contain any garlic or onions, as these ingredients are not eaten by Kashmiri Hindus. I am beholden for the recipe to Madhur Jaffrey, (even though I have amended her version) who is to Indian cuisine what Delia Smith is to everything else we eat.
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
25fl oz (720ml) plain yoghurt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
¾ inch (2cm) stick of cinnamon
½ teaspoon whole cloves
3lb (1kg 350g) stewing lamb cut into 2 inch (5cm) cubes
2 ½ teaspoons salt – or to taste+
4 teaspoons bright red paprika* mixed with ¼ -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ teaspoons dried ginger powder
1 ½ pints (845ml) water
¼ teaspoon garam masala, optional
+This may seem a lot but, as Nigel Slater says, “trust me”!
*This is the mild paprika much used in Spanish cooking and is what gives the Rogan Josh its red colour.
Measure out the different spices.
Grind the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar or grinder until fine
Heat the oil in a large pot over a high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon and cloves. A second later, put in all the meat and salt. Stir the meat and cook, still on a high heat, for about 5 minutes.
Now put in the paprika and cayenne (It is the cayenne which gives the dish its “heat”. I usually put in a ½ teaspoon but feel free to put in more or less depending on your taste buds.) and give the meat a good stir. Slowly add the yoghurt, 4-5 fl oz (100-150ml) at a time stirring the meat vigorously as you do so. Add all the yoghurt this way.
Keep cooking on high heat until all the liquid has boiled away. Alas, this phase of the cooking requires close attention and the diminishing liquid will also tend to splatter making a mess of your cooker.
Add the fennel and ginger.
Now put in 1 ½ pints (846ml) water and again reduce the liquid on the high heat until you have a thick, reddish brown sauce. Again, I fear there will be splattering but it won’t take long to clean up the top of your cooker.
Add the garam masala and serve with a plain long grain rice and a relish. Enjoy!
The New Year. A New Year of Why Not. I’m hoping that 2009 is a year in which we, as resourceful, independent people can make a mark, a difference and create a space for real change. A year of why not. We have spent too long working within a system organised and run by self serving bureaucrats. A system of unbelief, a system governed – as John Moriarty described it – by Balors eye. We must now find a way through the morass of red tape, lies, empty promises and banality and take responsibility for our own actions, our own work, and our own modes of production.
So let’s start small. We don’t need to create large unwieldy structures, we don’t need to organise grandiose schemes, come up with plans for world domination or be governed by cumbersome philosophical tracts. What we do need to do is start in our own communities, in our own spaces, places. We need to create new platforms and new and inventive ways of making and producing work. We need to work together, help each other and find new ways of pressing forward, changing, inventing, expressing and reflecting. Let us be pro-active and affirmative creative beings. Let us stop being spectators and start being active participants in our culture, society, community. Let us build our own creative economy for the benefit of the whole.
I’m hoping that through mutantspace.com we can make some headway in the building of new bridges, connections and means of support. That we can – through the centralisation of common information, resources, skills and knowledge – grow exponentially. It is important to remember, to understand, that we are not alone, that we cannot succeed on our own. We depend on each other. It is in our own interest to reach out, take time out, give a helping hand whenever it’s needed. We must believe that we can succeed where others have failed. Everything is possible if we put our minds to it, if we work hard for it, if we think of alternative ways to create and mutate new spaces for play and creativity. We can all succeed so let not the weight of complacency, lack of belief, mediocrity and lack of financial support hold us back. There is always a way. Let us be lean. Let us embrace hunger.
To finish on a lighter note let me just add that I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of ‘The Mutation’ and I hope that over the coming months more of you will contribute to it. I look forward to more people joining up to mutantspace.com and taking part in our experimental project. A project that aims to build a new creative economy in which we can all benefit, all succeed and above all create a new space to play, create and produce work
To be fair, there’s not many excuses left these days for failing to realise your dream, if picking up a cam and shooting something is your dream, that is. We’re living in a Youtube age when you can create cult classics with only your mobile phone at hand. Nevertheless, this sort of quickie movie-making may not be everybody’s cup of tea and it can result in some pretty dodgy footage, so if you‘re of the more traditional school of film-making, never fear, there are still plenty opportunities on your doorstep.
The common opinion across the boards these days seems to suggest that the Irish Film Industry is in dire straits (although thankfully the new movie Kisses, as reviewed below, has received much praise), and comments such as this by Kevin Moriarty (head of Ardmore Studios, home of The Tudors) in The Sunday Times back in July reinforce the idea: “My first instinct is to recall too many Irish films that would have benefited from further script drafts before getting to the screen”. In response, David Kavanagh of the Irish Playwrights and Screenwriters Guild said “The writer sells everything to the producer and is paid the same whether the film is good or bad”, claiming, therefore, that it’s a lack of control which leads writers and others to allow poor quality films onto the big screen.
All the more reason then for amateur filmmakers to embrace the freedom of working with friends and others to create their own shorts, in a way that suits them. I know it’s easy to talk and there are possibly plenty talented writers out there whose scripts are gathering dust because they don’t believe it will ever get made, but there are ways to see your story come to life. Networking with others is the way to go and thankfully there are forums, such as Mutant Space, Egomotion (for Cork dwellers) and Filmmakers Network Forum (Dublin and elsewhere), where you can discuss your ideas and gather a not-so-motley crew. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to give a helping hand for free, in order to gain experience themselves, and in this way you can usually avail of cameras and a few pieces of sound/lighting equipment.
The same can be said for the numbers of people waiting to break into the acting world and searching for a short film to add to their C.V.
Even if you do not acquire great equipment or a fancy editing suite, always remember that simple can be just as effective, and that film festivals are often on the lookout for shorts that are an alternative to the glossy features which headline the festival itself. This year’s Cork Film Festival is an apt example; the winner for the Made in Cork shorts was Ed Godsell whose film ‘Matty Kiely’s Last Day’ proved that all you need is one camera and a good idea. http://purecork.blip.tv/#928772
Meanwhile, Damien McCarthy’s horror short, ‘He Dies at the End’ filmed in black and white and free of dialogue, was a further example of how simple can be best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jOU3m_tHtQ
Also, do not limit yourself to Irish festivals: this October, Kevin O Neill from Cork saw his short, ‘My Ball’ win the Best Short Film Award at the South African Film Festival.
So, don’t leave your good idea hanging around; get moving and you might make it into a film fest and, if not, well, there’s always youtube…Now, if only I took my own advice to heart; I’d better get moving too.
Kisses (Review) (some spoilers included!)
Kisses, directed by Lance Daly (The Halo Effect, Last Days in Dublin), and featuring newcomers Kelly O’Neill (Kylie) and Shane Curry (Dylan), is the story of two children, Kylie and Dylan, who run away from home in a bid to escape their problematic families, but find themselves in even more trouble on the streets of inner city Dublin.
One of the most striking visual aspects of Daly’s film is the use (or non-use) of colour: the film actually begins as a black and white piece, gradually blossoming into colour as the children leave behind the drab surroundings of their estate and escape to the bright lights of the city. The colour here is not just representative of the city itself, of course, but of the temporary happiness and excitement which freedom brings, and the kindness displayed by both characters for each other.
The colourful escapades which these children experience is a stark reminder of their youth and naivety which, we realise, has been too often extinguished by troubling issues on the home front: Dylan’s Dad is an aggressive drunk, responsible for Dylan’s older brother’s disappearance from home some years earlier, while Kylie has her own demons to face in the form of an abusive uncle. As disturbing as these revelations are, Daly has managed to infuse the film with enough warmth and integrity to keep our hopes alive and avoid depressing the viewers. This is largely due to wonderful performances by the two young actors, who, having been randomly plucked from their schoolyards, bring a natural charisma to their roles. In the face of the many dangers which they encounter on the streets of Dublin, they are resilient and determined to stick by one another, yet for all their self-sufficiency, their innocence is still plain to see. While some moments in the film may seem implausible, such as the children’s journey downstream on a canal boat used for dredging rubbish, Daly does not wait too long to give the magical trip a dose of reality. It is this mixture of wonder and innocence encased within the cold actuality of the adult world that results in such a memorable film. Watch out too for a cameo by Stephen Rea as a Dylan impersonator!
1. Finding a hardened dry snot in a library book.
2. A loud booming Australian accent.
3. Earl Grey tea.
4. Having to tell my house-mate the rent will be late.
5. People who get drunk in front of their kids.
6. Dreaming about having sex with someone I have to face later that day, when I have absolutely no sexual interest in that person, but can’t help but blush all the same.
7. Tabloid newspapers.
8. Britney haters.
9. The word ‘revert’.
10. Editors who make changes to articles I submit, to the point that false quotes are added, and words are misspelt…and it’s all under my name…BASTARDS!
11. Tall men who think they know everything.
12. Film critics who piss on everything except The Godfather.
13. Des Bishop.
14. Tuna and sweet-corn.
15. Flat-mates who put up the biggest Christmas tree in the world in the living room, blocking the fire-place and TV, without asking if I’d like to take part in this seasonal event.
16. Sitting on the bus next to some-one who peed themselves weeks ago.
17. Being told by a friend that every conversation has begun to turn into ‘a therapy session’.
18. Sitting down happily with a bowl of Coco Pops only to find on my first spoonful that the milk is sour.
19. People who read more than me.
20. Receiving ‘this is funny – please forward’ emails.
21. Restless leg syndrome.
22. The frightful emergence of chin hair.
24. Bad customer service.
25. Lowest common denominator comedy.
26. Keira Knightley haters.
27. People who grimace when I admit I like ‘The Secret’.
28. Footballer’s wages.
29. The completely blown out of proportion attack on Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, expertly master-minded by PR guru Max Clifford and that Satanic Slut girl.
31. Retaining frightful memories of misadventures in my youth.
33. Drunk people talking to me when I’m sober.
34. Having to bring my laptop to get fixed, terrified that the one pornographic image I’ve ever looked at on the web (no, really) is still lodged on my computer’s hard drive.
35. The fact that the 80’s are over.
36. The treatment of the gay community by gay bars and nightclubs….just because you have a monopoly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort.
37. People who unnecessarily drive too fast.
38. Being accosted on the street by those creepy happy people who try desperately to obtain my bank details.
40. People who answer their mobile phones in the cinema.
41. Pirate DVD’s….and not ones with ‘shiver me timbers’ pirates in them….no, no, I love them.
42. The end of the ‘sale of work’ era.
43. Smudging the writing on a fancy xmas card because I’m a leftie.
44. Being asked what I do for a living.
46. Chinese Food.
47. Period cramps so bad that they make me feel like my ovaries are coming out and they’re taking my bowels with them.
50. Door slammers.
Having lived and travelled throughout the world, I returned not so long ago to my native Ireland to begin work in the arts field as an administrator. From a young age, I have had a strong interest in the arts and feel that artists ought to be nurtured and encouraged at every opportunity. The life of an artist is one of fulfilment, indeed it is often an idyllic existence where one can channel one’s creative energies on a daily basis and spend time in the company of likeminded, artistic individuals.
So it seemed natural that I would fall into the world of arts administration and am presently ensconced in a city centre arts facility; indeed I see myself as the epicentre or even the heartbeat of our centre. Of course it’s not all light lunches, launches and general art talk, I do get down to the real nitty-gritty as well; in fact, this week I already made two applications for funding even foregoing my traditional eleven o’clock Frappucino to put in the best application possible!
Over the coming weeks and months, I hope to reveal all the trials and tribulations of being an arts administrator in a successful arts centre. I’m sure there will be as many ups as there will be downs but, on the whole, this blog should be a unique look and valuable insight into my work in the arts world and hopefully will be a resource from which others can learn and perhaps even gain a little inspiration. Or not…
If postmodernism glorifies the artificiality of the image, what effect does that have on the authenticity of the imagination? To counter the ways in which the imagination has been undermined, Richard Kearney traces its history, its conceptual origins and mutations. With his remarkable range of vision, he takes us on a voyage of discovery that leads from Eden to Fellini, from paradise to parody–plotting the various models of the imagination such as Hebrais, Greek, medieval, Romantic, existential, parodic and postmodern. The journey is a revelation.
Richard Kearney’s philosophical approach to the question of imagination takes into account the related disciplines of history, sociology, political economy, theology, art, and art criticism. He investigates the concepts of imagination as they appear in the Hebraic and Greek traditions and as they emerged through the medieval, modern, and postmodern periods of our cultural history. This historical inquiry gives a context to his insightful articulation of the postmodern time and the concept of a creative imagination as a passing illusion of the western humanist, consumer, capitalist culture.
He proposes the possibility of a postmodern imagination capable of preserving the functions of narrative identity and creativity – or what he calls the poetics of the possible.This includes a response to the postmodern dilemma with a reinterpretation of the role of imagination as a relationship between the self and other, a democratization of knowledge and culture, as ethically and poetically attuned to the lost narrative of historical meaning,and as inclusive, empathetic, versatile, open minded, and diversive. This book is a vital, intellegent analysis and guide for creativity, art, and imagination in our present postmodern culture.
our next DIY arts festival, the Trash Culture Revue, will take place sometime towards the end of the year. So if you want to create, produce, get involved, play, experiment, try stuff out, have fun, design, administrate, organise, volunteer or just come along then let me know
we provide free creative and production skills for your arts projects and events through our skills exchange so you can experiment, fail, make and play no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or when you do it