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September 10, 2018


I love seeing these. Thank you for sharing them.

It's taken me a while (at least ten years) but I've suddenly realised what computers and blogging can bring to your world of the plastic arts. Time may be frozen. It didn't happen here but my first glance was a little too superficial and suggested that it had happened: Image 1 in this series as a mere staging post en route to Image 2. Actually this is not entirely flattering to you, Image 1 is far more than just a sketch and deserves to be preserved in its own right. As it has been, thank goodness. But a milestone scenario might have happened. In fact there might well have been computerised Images 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on, a useful self-tutorial record for you, and for us a lifting of the veil on the way artists work. Had there been sufficient images, you might have shrunk them, stuck them on the odd-numbered pages of a blank notebook, and flicked through them in the way that so charmed me as a child. I can't resist the Proustian allusion: Time Regained.

I note you did some piano-playing during this trying period. I can't remember any earlier references to this skill but I am not surprised. Obviously you arrived at the cathedral as a musician, not just a singer. Thus you have the luxury of a skill which can be treated purely as a diversion, as and when.

Another thought has just visited me: being the member of a choir (something I have decided against) is demanding enough to be confined to the weekend and the days/evenings devoted to rehearsals. Singing doesn't fight your other interests, as it does with me.

Progress has been very slow with my fifth novel, Rictangular Lenses, but within the last two weeks I was granted the imagination of a scene, probably two-thousand words long, which was clear in my mind and which I would enjoy writing. All very well if I hadn't simultaneously received a late birthday present of the Schöne Müllerin cycle, in a sumptuous Bärenreiter edition. The Schubert represents a private enterprise outside my lessons with V. I'm sketchily aware (ear alone) of at least six of the songs and the score will help me refine this purely aural knowledge.

So here I am, writing a sentence of Rictangular, breaking off and messing with Morgengruss, back to Rictangular, back to Ungeduld... etc. A choir member would not engage in such dalliance.

This means the book is nearing publication and I know that the illustrations will truly place us in his world, and yours at the time. Very eager to hold it in my hands.

I too have been restive, wondering what will happen in this political climate, grateful to be living here.

The two bottom drawings are those which particularly hold and delight my attention. The one with the bookcase and other objects is especially appealing for its simplicity and the ingenuity of connecting all the elements in an almost abstract pattern that transforms the ordinary crowded corner of a room into something previously unseen,unknown. And the two bookcases at right angles to each other give the image depth in an unexpected way.

I'm so glad your book about your father-in-law is nearly done. I'm looking forward to it very much indeed.

Lovely drawings, Beth.

Have you ever read William Hazlitt's essay, "On the Pleasure of Painting" (1821)? From the first page:

"You sit down to your task, and are happy.... no irritable humours are set afloat: you have no absurd opinions to combat, no point to strain, no adversary to crush... The mind is calm, and full at the same time."

Political nightmare - yes, in the UK also where it's hard to fathom the complete and utter shambles we call the British government. It's so difficult to remain interested, engaged and hopeful as an educated, critical thinker. I'm just about disengaged from politics now for the first time in my life because it seems impossible to make any sense of what's happening and it's hard to exist in a permanent state of outrage. Hard to be positive, certainly.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.