Friday, August 8, 2008

Update 26

Hey everyone – a bit of a departure this post as I reflect on other people’s blogs in a rambling Robert Fulghum kind of way (link opposite is worth checking on Fulghum – one of my favourite writers, that's him on the left). Rambling because I want to try to work out/reflect on a few things for myself and it often takes a little time. This reflection was prompted by an off-the-cuff email comment I made to Leda (that's her on the right - helpful aren't I?) – when she sent me two of her friends blogs for me to have a look at. My comment back was that I couldn’t hear their voices, and I didn’t know them as people so it had a limited impact/appeal to me. But I’ve been reflecting on this, especially after I was shocked to see some red dots appearing on my clustr map from California and Europe! Hmmm…maybe my judgement to Leda was too hasty. Who I wonder would be interested in my blog who didn’t actually know me? Did they hear my voice? Did it matter if they didn’t? Does knowing or not knowing an artist (and hearing their voice) make me appreciate their art any differently? Not that I'm an artist yunnerstand. And what about these connections to other random people? Questions questions connections connections.

Okay – this is going to get a bit bumpy – feel free to forget reading the following rant and jump to Nature Watch and the pictures, I won’t be offended (Jacky and dad’ll hate this stuff). And there is poetry ahead!!!

Right – so if you’re still with me, hey ho – let’s go. The above series of thoughts/questions have been a bit of an old conundrum for me. I remember writing about these very things in an old journal I kept at university during the late 70’s, early 80’s. Those self-indulgent varsity years are making a comeback for me (and others). Anyone (me included) can start a blog now, post their thoughts in a self-indulgent way and…people read them (or not)!! Amazing.

But I digress…I used to think it (knowing or not knowing an artist) did to an extent make me appreciate their art differently, but now I’m not so sure. Many years ago I thought that if I could know more about the person behind the writing I could appreciate/understand it on deeper levels. This is the impulse that has fuelled the celebrity craze since Frank Sinatra made the girls go crazy. These days with the net, sky TV, celebrity crazy tabloids et al we can find out any and all details on any body in a second. But did me buying the Lennon outtake boxset add anything to my appreciation of his released songs?? Did it eck as like. And it's not just celebs - it's all of us. How did I get that picture of Leda? Easy - google led me to her facebook and the rest is a right click/save/cutnpaste. Less is more!

Let me expand on a frinstance – William Wordsworth’s poetry (yes that's a famous rendition of the great man). I used to think (when I was an English student at Auckland University) that if I could understand his background, and his philosophies I’d appreciate it more. After all he wrote the huge autobiographical poem ‘The Prelude’ to know and explain himself and his autobiography is where my teachers started. However when I taught the poem to an A level class in England they had no real desire to know Wordsworth. They wanted to understand the poem and pass their exams but they didn’t care about the person or his voice. Now I think that reading The Prelude doesn’t actually help me with appreciating Wordsworth. Actually that’s not quite right – I love parts of the Prelude and they’ve stayed with me, especially the boyhood/growing up sections in the Lake District but it’s the initial magic connection that is the key. For Wordsworth it was listening to the words as my lecturer (at varsity) read them to the class. Suddenly I got it – I could see the scenes and I could hear a voice behind the words and I could connect.

It was the first time I saw John Lennon with The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show that was the trigger to everything else in music and a life long love affair with Lennon/Beatles. By the wonder of modern technology - here it is for you:

Everything I’ve since learned about him (and believe me I’ve read a lot!!) has not changed that key moment.

I did some writing about it in 1996 – and wadderya know - here that is too:

Warren Ono Purdy

can’t help it
my eyes are drawn towards you
every time

those legs – slightly apart
and the guitar
seems to sit uncomfortably high

the knees bend and pound

out the rhythm Johnny
snake oil
the real deal

even when paul and george
are in the shot
I look only at you

and sense myself
being pulled into the celluloid

the myopic stare
fringe down low and cocky but still
not very confident public face
of the icon
you have become

much much more than rhythm guitar
you are it
all silver and flesh
in the suit

tall and placed slightly apart
from the fab three
you had a mike to yourself
and you controlled my life
from that first 1964 meeting
on the ed sullivan shew

me on the floor with my mouth
wide open and my young knees
tucked up
like I sat and watched you last night
with the same awe and power
to capture all my senses

but it wasn’t so much the music as it
was the sight of you
and the stance you took

that sent me on this spiral which is now
getting on a bit

my children now watch you and ask me questions

not about you but more about my obsessions

you love him don’t you dad

Yeah Yeah Yeah


Just one of those random moments in life that turned into an epiphany. Why was I watching Ed Sullivan on a Sunday in 1964 age 7? Why is it that that one moment is seared into my conciousness? I can name for you how I was sitting, where the TV was, what the room looked like etc etc etc and it was 43 years ago!!!

So back to Wordsworth. Isn’t this exactly the same for him – isn’t the Prelude (and other poems), and especially Tintern Abbey, him writing about things that are seared into his conciousness. So it’s the experiences and preoccupations that make his poetry so vivid for me. And it’s his ability to recreate the vision and the epiphany that connect somehow with me.

Actually going to Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley (pictured) or walking across Westminster bridge is what helped me reconnect with the poems on a whole new level, just as going to Abbey Road or
251 Menlove Avenue in Liverpool (Lennon's boyhood home)with Christine and Fran reconnected me.

I didn’t really truly hear Wordsworth’s voice until I stood in the silence of Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley's beauty. The solitude is tangible even when you're surrounded by tourists. Then I reread the poem and this shared experience deepened my earlier connection.

Here's some lines from 'Lines...Tintern Abbey' to get you in the mood:

These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye;
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration: -feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love.

The experience was now something I could/can really relate to (and reflect upon here some 18 months later sitting here on a sunny Saturday morning in Stratford, New Zealand - don't worry it rained later in the day). Here's a bit of Tintern Abbey for you (I've scoured youtube for this - there are some truely terrible amateur videos on there spoiled by noise or garish overlaid titles - this one is short and relatively noisefree and miraculously the power of the place shines):

So - back to the blogs of Leda's friends - it is this then - I lack the intimate connection that Leda has with them, I lack the knowledge, experience, or sharing the preoccupations of Leda’s friends that is a barrier for me when I see their blogs. The point of my blog is that it really is Wozza's place - you all know me in some form or other so you can hear me, see me, feel me (um...yeah..apart from those in America/Europe - still not sure about that). Make better sense?

The other prompt for this series of thoughts was a random decision I made a while back – to click the ‘next blog’ sign at the top of this page. I found myself in a strange land - looking through a seemingly (? I don’t know if they’re arranged in any kind of order or how they get there but they change regularly) random sampling of other people’s blogs (maybe that’s how mine was accessed or it was some random action or maybe by mistake?). I actually found this quite fun, way more fun that doing a search on blogger (I tried a search, typed in Beatles just to see what I would find but sadly I didn’t enjoy any of the blogs that the search revealed - that connection thing again). If you get some time try it (the ‘next blog’ click) – there are artists, blogs in different nationalities, blogs on all sorts of topics and in all sorts of styles with surprisingly few nutters present (the layouts too are fantastic – great to see what other people do and paradoxically - I don’t know any of them). The zinger here though was that I didn’t need to know the person to enjoy the blog. None of the ones I came across that were in English were personal to the degree mine is. My tagline above is – ‘a personal blog for family and friends’. Generally these taglines on Blogs are a true indication of theme/content.

Okay so what’s all the point of this? Well this random bumping into people (the internet’s version of body spam) reminded me of Walt Whitman’s poem that I used as inspiration for one of my own poems (called ‘divinist aromas’) many years ago. He (that's him on the left btw) is concerned with all of the people who’ve come before him, all the generations who’ll come after him and how he connects with all of those around him. He was ahead of his time!

The Walt Whitman poem was found in a random way when I picked up my copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’ and opened it at random for some inspiration (I’m big on random). Here’s a bit of what I found, if you want the whole thing go to the link (poetry search):

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
by Walt Whitman

Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you
are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home,
are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me,
and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

The video is on the cheesy side but has it's own charm and includes some of the next section of the poem.

I wrote a poem in 1991 which still seems relevant for me. It contains my thoughts about sending off letters (now posts via the blog) and the person/people (you) who read them. If you’ve stuck with me till now (in more ways than one) you may like to answer my question contained in the poem. Here tis:

From Me To You

I’ve been writing more letters to you.
Sending out little packages of myself
into the unknown.
Little abandoned love birds, with wings –
thrown out of the nest.

I’m waiting for replies.
I’ve postponed reality for a few more days
and I’ll live in the moment
of expectation and fantasy.
How do you feel about this –
this long distance dialogue
between the selves?

Camels in the desert go for days
without drinking.
To me, your letters are water,
my own elixir of life.
I can’t get enough
and I hate having to wait
for my dose of you.

Just before I get you back on track - Jade just asked me what I was doing. I told her I was sharing some poetry in my new post and so she asked me to include ‘her’ poem. ‘Her’ poem is one I wrote about her when she was two-ish and it’s pretty self-explanatory.
The picture shows that she has always been cute! It was taken by Jeanette actually and this plus one of Samantha (one day Samantha) appeared as pictures for viewers choice on (I think) Wheel of Fortune 14 years ago. Great photo Jyn!

Bun in a bacon shop

The pre-school daughter
taught me this one;

a game she first learnt
in the hurley burley
of kindergarten, I assume.

She makes me stand
in the middle of her room,
then grabs her teddy
to lead me to a seat.

I do as I’m directed,
holding teddy’s hand,
then sitting down, I’m
easily lead.

We laugh, the three of us,

me from a grown up confusion,
she from the pure joy of
seeing daddy joining in her game,
and teddy, yes the bear,
he laughs at my clumsy
grip on his paw.

I love this game, being,
she calls, a bun in a bacon shop.


And in other news - as I mentioned in my email - dad (the handsome little tyke pictured a couple of years ago) had his 80th birthday recently. This next bit's specially for him:

Nature watch: Welcome back! Apparently it’s spring! It's blimin' cold for spring!!

I've just harrowed the horse paddocks and my face is numb (beenie/gloves and 25 layers of clothes helped a tad). The daffodils are starting to open in a really tentative way. I don’t blame them – the ground must still be cold (and I currently have one because of the temperatures I’m sure). The sheep are also holding back with their lambs – we still only have three. The ducks and birds have returned to the lake and the trees around the house after the heavy rain abated from last weekend. The Pukekos have clearly been busy procreating during the winter – we counted 10 of them in Duckies’ paddock. I forgot to include a photo of Rambo in the last update. Rambo is our goose.

Currently grooving to Opeth's 'Damnation' album - a Scandinavian death metal outfit usually but Damnation sounds like the Moody Blues (no really) - I love that mellotron sound. It's probably their most accessible album - Blackwater Park is a tougher proposition and their more famous album (I still find it a bit hard to take the guttural vocals at times) and on the whole their best but Keegan put me onto the mellower 'Damnation' and it's great! Riverside remain my fav band in this genre (prog metal) though.

Okay kiddliwinks - that'll do it fer now - take care.

Love and peace - W


keegan said...

it was sale of the century, not wheel of fortune. i remember that cause the host always did this fantastic game show slide onto the stage

Leda said...

Great to see your poetry again, Uncle W!! :-) Takes me back to early-90s classes with dear Mr. Wordsworth: "Oh joy that in our embers there doth live, something that once was so fugitive..." the only line I remember of him...! But I recognise YOUR poetry! Hand-bound books published by Big Brother Productions, if I recall correctly...

Have you ever considered that email is not dissimilar to the 'journal' books you used to use for class? Writing back and forth in the same collection of pages -- like email threads with different fonts, handwritten...

Nostalgia is a fun thing sometimes. When I flew into Christchurch on Friday I had a 'nod' to me-of-last-year -- such a different being from now. Then driving though Nelson Friday night that odd I-think-I've-been-here-before feeling... Time is strange.

Nice to read your musings -- especially in four-part-harmony...
Hugs til soonish. :-) L.

Anonymous said...

The guy also got samanth and jade mixed up. I think the same about "knowing the artist to appreciate the art". Theres this hip hop artists keegan and I like called Brother Ali. When I first listened to his music I didnt think much but then I read about his life and history and stuff and now I appreicate his music and where he is singing from a 1000% more. With out knowing him via Wikipedia I might not been even listening to him. Is that what you mean? alrighty.