I say, ‘life is too short for bad design.’ Rob says it better: ‘design is everything.’ One of the things that becomes clearer, I think, as you get older, is that there’s no space for crap in your life – the crap of ideology, of sloppy thinking and clumsy, careless, jargon-fed language, no time for political dishonesty and equivocation, no time for the empty media noise and chatter that entangles our humanity and subverts authenticity. And then there’s design – purity of form and concept, perfection of execution. Elegant as a theorem, necessary to our existence as clean air and water. I came across this online design forum the other day, and thought I should share it. via iGNANT.de – art, design, photography and architecture, celebrating ideas and creativity.
Toronto’s Queen Street is one of those endlessly fascinating downtown streets – everything from the people to the graffiti to the shop windows and alley-ways entertain, amuse, and surprise the eye. From the ‘photo a day’ series on Queen Street West, here are James Dean and Elvis.
Thanks to Mark Lafer for drawing my attention to the Wikipedia entry on carbon printing – and great to see John Bentley’s name listed, the last entry in the chronological history. If reinforcement is needed, the Wiki article surely reinforces the case for collecting John’s work now, while you can! via Carbon print – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A second instalment of the sad, true, disturbingly familiar account by Nathan Rabe of the aid world as cult or addiction, and what it means to to break with it all and start over. I can’t help but be reminded of what it was like working for NGOs and politically-aligned education think tanks in South Africa in the eighties and nineties – such hope and inspiration, on the one hand, and yet so much that was wrong – intellectually dishonest, manipulative, or just plain ignorant or incompetent – notwithstanding the nobility of purpose. The references, in Rabe’s article, to an ‘echo chamber,’ a closed, self-justificatory world, are especially depressing because so instantly recognisable. The sense when I left, not only of relief, but of cleansing, from some viral ideological infection, was like a rebirth. via Life after aid work: Beating the addiction | Devex.
John Bentley makes the rarest and most gorgeous carbon colour prints the eye can imagine – subtle, voluptuous, detailed, expressive – and is surely an undiscovered artist whose time has come. Rob and I are lucky to own one of his extraordinary prints, ‘Miracle of Order,’ which you will see in the video clip in this piece about the man and his work – if you have any interest in fine art, and in photography, do yourself a favour: read the article and watch the video. In addition to being an artist of huge talent and integrity, John is also a friend and a lovely human being. If you’re interested in his art, and would like to get in touch with him, just let me know. And do refer others to his work, also – I would love to see him getting, finally, the attention and recognition he so hugely deserves. via The Last Colour Carbon Transfer Printer in Canada — Harrowsmith Now.
Harper Lee died this week, as the world knows. So too did Umberto Eco. Unnoticed by the media, the cognoscenti, and the society pages, but mourned by those who knew and loved him, my ex brother-in-law Neville passed away too – modestly, as he had lived, without fuss and palaver. As good and decent a man as you could hope to find, kind to a fault, without a mean bone in his body. You can’t do much better than that. The last time I saw Neville would have been at my daughter Kathy’s wedding, half-a-dozen years ago. My divorce from his wife’s younger sister was in the final throes of completion, after a long and painful struggle, and I hadn’t seen any of her side of the family for several years. Yet all of them – Neville included – greeted me with nothing but kindness and compassion, a gift for which I will always be thankful. Divorce may have taken
‘I sick,’ I used to say to my mother, as a child. ‘I sick,’ I said to my mother, the other day, on Skype. Some things don’t change. Except that they do, and what the child says innocently is said knowingly by the adult. And, at my time of life, with irony and amusement, and a sly tip of the hat at Old Father Time who watches, impassive, from a table in the corner. When you are a child there is only the present. As an adult, bringing up children, building a career, you live in the future. The future is less interesting now, and the present, now a river, carries as it winds its slow way to the ocean the sediment, vegetation, of every minute of the past.
“Will you put on your nurse’s uniform for me?” I plead with Rob. “You know, with the push-up bra and the fish-net stockings and the little red fuck-me pumps?” “And the bare behind,” she adds, egging me on. “Ooh, and the bare bottom, too,” I coo. And then we have a little chortle, and I swallow my cough medicine, and she tucks in the sheets, because I am in bed on the day before Valentine’s Day, with a horrible cold, a head full of cotton-wool and gunpowder, and enough phlegm in my throat and my nose to seal a doorway. That’s one of the things about living together, for almost a decade: the old jokes become ritualised. Their humour is in the repetition, the reminder: they have become a code, a bond, a staple. So, how many times have we played this movie? We smile at our own foolishness. And we smile also, I suppose, because we are older, and
I think all of us wonder, at one time or another, what difference we’ve made in the world, and whether our struggles have been worth it. Here’s a ‘sadder and wiser’ reflection on this question, from an aid ‘lifer’ – dispiriting reading, I have to say, and with more than a few echoes. It’s an exploration, or excavation, I will no doubt return to, in one of my own blogs – but I’d like to hear from my colleagues and friends, too, about their own reflections. Meanwhile, do try to read this – I apologize in advance, should you find that you’re unable to access all of the story. Life after aid work: Heading for the exit | Devex.
This morning I received a ‘friend’ request on FaceBook: I don’t really “do” FaceBook although, yes, I know, this blog will be posted to my FaceBook page. But bear with me. The request was from someone I haven’t seen or heard from in, oh, I’d say more than thirty years. We were at varsity together, in the seventies; she went on to join the armed struggle, was detained and, if I am not mistaken, tortured and held in solitary confinement. I’ve followed her career, at a distance, over the twenty or so years since the end of apartheid and the beginning of democracy: she was, as I recall, at one point involved in monitoring conditions in the prisons service – poetic justice – and now has a very senior position in government, something important, to do with women. The issues that all of this raises are never far from my consciousness, quite honestly: the awareness of what others did, during
Time strips us bare. In ’45 Years,’ the truths and assumptions that underpin a relationship are called into question when
Ageing is the law of diminishing returns, in slow-motion action. Everything takes more effort, and the pay-off is smaller. Sex – some people say, though I wouldn’t know this for certain – is a perfect example. Exercise is another. And don’t even mention weight-loss. Mind you, peeing seems to run in the opposite direction. Where once I wouldn’t pee during the night at all, now I can pee two, three, four, five times. That’s progress. Pregnant women, apparently, also pee more often. And babies – babies are the peeing champions! Boy-babies, especially – they can pee straight up and hit you in the eye before you can say ‘wipe bottoms.’ This is what I will be reduced to, come August – a pissing contest with an infant. My first grand-child, in fact, due to my youngest daughter, Eve, and Shaun, her husband. A true gift to us all, one that makes ageing worth it.