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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Driving Art




Sometimes, when reading a book a sentence leaps off the page at you.  There is a moment’s pause for reflection and then you murmur something like, “I wish I had written that!”  Occasionally the sentence will be a pithy aphorism, or a piece of illuminating insight; but there are other times when the writer will have inadvertently touched some part of your psyche (or what you think is your psyche) and all your pretentions are suddenly laid bare.  But only, of course, to yourself because, if you are wise you keep such revealing spotlights private.

I once told one of my better A Level students that one of my favourite collections of short stories was “Stalky and Co” by Rudyard Kipling.  She instantly procured a copy and read it immediately and in the next lesson (by which time she had read the book – she was that sort of student) she looked at me in the withering way that she had and in her most condescending voice she told me that she wasn’t at all surprised by my choice and that it told her a lot about me.  Which it did and does.  And perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut.  But that is not a realistic possibility for me!

So, having read one of those revealing sentences this very morning while waiting in the post office to send off an artistic hint to my painter friend while protecting my sanity by reading my mobile phone, I can no more keep it to myself than I would be capable of saying, “I have no opinion on that subject!”

I am frolicking my way through a digital collection of three “Classic” books by Christopher Hitchens called “Long Live Hitch” and am at present reading through his authoritative book reviews and have reached his writing about The Case of Comrade Tulayev and Memoirs of a Revolutionary, by Victor Serge.  The second paragraph of this review starts,

After Dostoyevsky and slightly before Arthur Koestler, but contemporary with Orwell and Kafka and somewhat anticipating Solzhenitsyn, there was Victor Serge.

Now that is what I call a sentence! It doesn’t take much analysis to see what I responded to there, but I almost squeaked out loud as I read it sitting on an unrelenting window ledge in a hot, stuffy and overcrowded waiting area in the Post Office. 

A large part of the delight is in the fact that I have read books by all the authors mentioned except for Victor Serge, the focus of the review!

That is surely almost a perfect “hit” for a reviewer: to lasso and flatter the reader with a list of common reads and then tacitly assume that you, the reader, are acquainted with the author under discussion.

You can guarantee that I will find something by Victor Serge because I would not like to disappoint the reviewer by not being the reader he thought I was!

Yesterday was taken up with a trip to Figueras, in the province of Girona to pay a visit to the Teatro-Museo Dalí.

This is an artistic centre that I have long wanted to visit – though with a certain degree of the Masochistic about such a desire because I am very much with André Breton who dismissed Dalí by reworking the letters of his name into the accusation of “Avida dollars” arguably the most famous insulting anagram in modern art!  With the exception of a few exceptional canvasses I have always regarded Dalí as a fraud.  So I did not anticipate that the geodesic dome topped, reclaimed ruin of a theatre with a bread-studded façade would necessarily change my mind.

Having to queue in scorching sunshine for far too long and then push your way through heaving masses of tourists who were there because they had been told to go was not my way of enjoying myself.  However, the experience (because experience it certainly was) was at least interesting.

The quality of art on display ranges from the compelling to the embarrassing – though I am sure that true Surrealists would say that was as much as they could hope for!

I bought a guide in the bookshop on the way out and I will read that in a more leisurely way than the visit itself.  Perhaps I will be tempted to return at a more out of season time to reassess!

Lunch was a triumph of the Internet, as Toni scoured that source to the full to find a place off the tourist beat and where for €10 we got a thoroughly satisfactory meal.  I would give you the name of this establishment but the information I took as I left later became a featureless piece of cooked pulp as the heat and humidity of the day turned my pocket into a steam oven!

I used the GUC to take a few decent pictures and I think that I am getting closer to knowing what I am doing when I press the button.

There was a lot of driving in the day and I did not so much fall asleep when I went to bed as fall into a coma.

Today was supposed to me the day on which I started to draft my last OU essay of this course. 

This has not happened, but the day isn’t over yet. 

And anyway there is Sunday.

And furthermore, what the hell, I have until the 5th of September to get it done.  I think.
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