Tuesday, May 19, 2009



In somber forest, when the sun was low,
I saw from unseen pools a mist of flies,
In their quadrillions rise,
And animate a ragged patch of glow,
With sudden glittering – as when a crowd,
Of stars appear.
Through a brief gap in black and driven could,
One arc of their great round-dance showing clear.

It was no muddled swarm I witnessed, for
In entrechats each fluttering insect there
Rose two steep yards in air,
Then slowly floated down to climb once more,
So that they all composed a manifold
And figured scene,
And the seemed the weavers of some cloth of gold,
Or the fine pistons of some bright machine.

Watching those lifelong dancers of a day
As night closed in, I felt myself alone
In a life too much my own,
More mortal in my separateness than they –
Unless, I thought, I had been called to be
Not fly or star
But one whose task is joyfully to see
How fair the fiats of the caller are.

— Richard Wilbur

Collected Poems 1943-2004 (Waywiser, 2005), copyright © Richard Wilbur 2005

Sherlock Holmes

Along with every other right-thinking Englishman of good breeding and temperament, I loathe, dispise and generally disdain that infamous vulgarian Mr Guy Richie, on the unimpeachable grounds that he is a debaser, a corrupter and bespoiler of all that is good and right in our culture.

But on the other hand, my admiration and joy when surveying the works of noted theatrical gent, Mr Robert Downey Jnr. Esq. are without parallel this side of the capital's most delectable fleshpots.

So I don't know how I feel about this:

One espies the presence of Jude Law. As long as Moriarty isn't played by Shia Leboeuf, I'm reasonably interested.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Road

"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery." - Last lines of The Road.

Synecdoche, New York

Neither the sun nor death can be looked at with a steady eye, said a clever man, and films about death are as rare as hen’s teeth. Real death, that is, not Hollywood death in a hail of bullets or from some fatal but apparently mostly painless disease, contracted perhaps as the result of questionable moral choices in the Sixties. Synecdoche, New York is about the shape of life and then “the only end of life”. It’s perhaps the strangest and most involuted film I can recall. It’s also intensely sad, although rarely in a heart-tuggingly manipulative way. It's more about the steady accumulation of defeats, that slow motion pitiable crash of most people’s lives. Synecdoche is a figure of speech where the part stands for the whole; keeping track of the levels of correspondence, from character to character, from director to character, from Kaufman to Caden Cotard, is all but impossible; you keep getting floored by sudden connections long after the film has finished. There's none of the comedy of Kaufman's previous screen-plays, though there is much narrative and visual wit. Mostly there are melancholic echoes and disturbing revelations and jolting narrative jumps and morose proclamations; all the epiphanies turn out to be fleeting, provisional. Like life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Whither posting?

You're always on soggy ground when you have to apologise for the lack of posting. But that's what I'm reduced to: begging your patience and asking for an extension. Let's just agree that the dog ate my homework and also my keyboard and motivation. Posts to follow, on a range of ostensibly exciting topics