Image - 'Defeated by the mosquito and abandoned to the jungle' from The National Geographic Magazine, February 1922

 

This marble punch was a snowball,
And it starred his heart
And it starred the victor’s jacket,
Starred the black victor whom nothing protects.

Stupefied he stood
Barelegged in the lair of solitude,
Beneath the gilded walnuts, mistletoe and holly,
Starred over like the blackboard in the classroom.

Often this begins at school,
These punches that fill the mouth with blood
These hard snowball punches,
That beauty jabs at the heart in passing by.

Saint-Cloud, February, 1929.

When I hear one of these phrases I close my eyes, I see again the boys’ berths on board the X., one of the largest steamers on the Marseilles-Saigon line. The X was waiting to get under way. The purser, one of my opium-smoking friends, had suggested the escapade to me. At eleven o’clock at night we crossed the deserted docks and climbed up the ladder on to the deck. We had to follow our guide at full speed and avoid the watch. We climbed over cables, worked round columns and Greek temples, crossed public squares, labyrinths of machines, shadow and moonlight, we mixed up the companion ways and the corridors so much and so well that our poor guide began to lose his head, until, softly, that powerful strange smell put us on the right path.

Imagine enormous berths, four or five dormitories, where sixty ‘boys’ lay smoking on two tiers of planks. In each dormitory a long table filled up the empty space. Standing on these tables, and cut in two by a flat, unmoving cloud half-way up the room, the latecomers were undressing, tying up the cords where they liked to hang up their washing, and gently rubbing their shoulders.

The scene was lit by the dim lights pf the lamps, and on top of them burnt the spluttering drug. The bodies were wedged against each other and without causing the slightest surprise, or the slightest ungraciousness, we took our places where there was really no place left, with our legs doubled up and our heads resting on stools. The noise we made did not even disturb one of the boys who was sleeping with his head against mine. A nightmare convulsed him; he had sunk to the bottom of the sleep that stifled him, entering into him through his mouth, his large nostrils and the ears which stuck out from his head. His swollen face was closed like an angry fist, he sweated, turned over and tore at his silken rags. He looked as though a stroke of the lancet would deliver him and bring forth the nightmare. His grimaces formed an extraordinary contrast with the calm of the others, a vegetable calm, a calm which reminded me of something familiar. What was it? On those planks lay the twisted bodies in which the skeletons, visible through the pale skin, were no more than the delicate armatures of a dream . . . In fact, it was the olive trees of Provence which those young sleepers evoked in me, the twisted olive trees on the flat red earth, their silver clouds hanging in the air.

In that place I could almost believe that it was all this profound lightness that alone kept this most monumental ship floating on the water.

Jean Cocteau, “Opium, The Diary of his Cure,” 1930

Jim’s Intro : You, Appearing – M83 : Sunset (The Death of Thumbellina) – Current 93 : Girlfriend’s Interlude : Past, present and future – The Shangri-Las : We Ask You To Ride – Wooden Shjips : Yellow Elevator #2 – The Black Angels : Striking a match : Purple Haze – Dion : Vibrating Ruler : Can I get it from You – Dave Berry : Omens And Portents I, The Driver – Earth : Lauren at the beach : Prepare for the End – David Thomas and Two Pale Boys : Pammie’s On a Bummer – Sonny Bono : Alone, Jealous & Stoned – The Secret Machines : Car Chase terror! – M83 : Rain on 22nd July 06 : Orange Country Suite, a Paris bootleg – Jim Morrison – 71 Mins

Image – ‘Defeated by the mosquito and abandoned to the jungle‘ from The National Geographic Magazine, February 1922

 

I moved the picture from my pocket again when I was outside, an action that had taken on a ritualistic feel, like making the sign of the cross. I did not look at it this time, but began tearing it in strips, lengthwise. Then I walked, and bent down at street corners, depositing each strip in a separate sewer along Fourth Avenue.

He’d told me that he’d broken his arm in a car accident, pursuing two black kids who had robbed a jewelry store.

As I released the strips of paper through the sewer gratings, I thought of the hand in the subway tunnel, and my father’s assertion that there were many body parts undoubtedly littering the less frequently traveled parts of the city. Arms legs, heads, torsos; and perhaps all these bits of photo would find their way into disembodied hands. A dozen or more hands, each gripping a strip of photograph down in the wet slime under the street. Regaining a history, a past, that they lost when they were dismembered, making a connection that I never would.

Tim McLoughlin, “When All This Was Bay Ridge,” 2004

Kalakuta Show – Fela Kuti – 15 Mins

Image – Cadavre Exquis, Pen and pencil on paper, André Breton, Man Ray, Max Morise, Yves Tanguy, 1927

 

Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large oil painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant. Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you through.- It’s the Black Sea in a midnight gale.- It’s the unnatural combat of the four primal elements.- It’s a blasted heath.- It’s a Hyperborean winter scene.- It’s the breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time. But last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in the picture’s midst. That once found out, and all the rest were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a gigantic fish? even the great leviathan himself?

In fact, the artist’s design seemed this: a final theory of my own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-heads.

The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon- so like a corkscrew now- was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the hump.

Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way- cut through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round- you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this, with such low ponderous beams above, and such old wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you trod some old craft’s cockpits, especially of such a howling night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rarities gathered from this wide world’s remotest nooks. Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den- the bar- a rude attempt at a right whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which name indeed they called him), bustles a little withered old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death.

Herman Melville, “Moby-Dick,” 1851

Arctic Beluga Whales : Ma belle dame souveraine – John Potter and Ambrose Field : Almost A Kiss – Throbbing Gristle : Saigon Pickup – John Zorn : Freight Elevator : Hortz Fur Dehn Stekehn West – Magma : Struktur XII – Karlheinz Stockhausen : Bridge To The Beyond – John Zorn : Mi Basta Chiudere Gil Occhi E – Nino Rota : Un grand sommeil noir – Edgar Varèse : The Jeweller – This Mortal Coil : The Vistitations – White Noise : Northern Winds : Le Petit Chevalier – Nico : (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons – The Righteous Brothers – 61 mins

Image – ‘Looking south upon hut point and vince cross, Antarctica,’ National Geographic Magazine, March 1924

 

16. Liturgical texts and Prayers, illuminated manuscript on vellum with Hippopotamus skin binding.

(Ethiopia, 15th century)

DESCRIPTION

122 leaves, (leaf size approximately 250 x 180 mm), in gatherings from 6 leaves to 12 leaves, 1 leaf (f.115) loose. Text varying between 20 and 34 lines, 2 columns throughout, written in black ink with titles, subheadings, sacred names, numerals, etc., in red (addition of f.85v col. 2, in a large hand in red). Written throughout in various beautiful, bold, archaic hands ranging in size from av. 4 mm to av. 6 mm. Some erasures and corrections and insertions in a smaller but equally archaic hand. Original pricking and ruling mostly visible throughout. Some intercolumnar ornament in red and black. NINE ILLUMINATED HEAD PIECES + 2 small ornaments dividing the paragraphs, all variously coloured in red, yellow, black green and blue-grey. TWENTY FULL COLOUR MINIATURES, 3 with silk overlays, 4 black pages. Some wear and darkening of edges. Most of the miniatures have some damage. The paint has sometimes cracked and there is some offsetting from facing pages. the margins of some leaves have been trimmed off in order to utilise the parchment for amulets, charms and notes of contact.

PROVENANCE AND DATE

SIGNED BY THE ARTIST. There is a collophon in the manuscript, on f.105v, which states, ‘This book belongs to Walda Mika’el and his father S’agga Za’ab and his mother S’eyon Kerbra. Walda Rufa’el painted the book.’ Walada Ruda’el’s name is also inserted in an invocation for blessing on folio 110v. The dating of early Ethiopian manuscripts is notoriously problematic. the form of the script, showing a number of archaic letter shapes, points to an early date and the style of the illumination is that of the earliest surviving Ethiopian manuscript.  This places it before the Moslem invasion at the beginning of the 16th century. Two of the Saints portrayed in the miniatures however suggest a date after the middle of the 15th century. ‘Saint’ Gabra Krestos, folio 106v, lived during the reign of the Emperor Zar Jacob (1434-68) and the Abba Sincoda, folio 107, was executed during the 1430s. It is unlikely that they would have been the subject of miniatures until after death.

TEXT

The manuscript properly begins on folio 9, the first 8 leaves being misplaced from the end. The contents are:

ff.10-60 Book of Hours of the day and the night. Subsections are identified as follows. (f.20) prayers for the third hour; (f.23) prayers for the seventh hour; (f.26) prayers for the ninth hour; (f.29) prayers for the evening; (f.33) prayers for sleepl (f.39) prayers for midnight.

ff.62-85 conatins various prayers: (f.62) Prayer for the Consolation of the Faith as we believe in Mary’; (f.65r) ‘Prayer for All Time(s)’; (f.69v) ‘Prayer for mercy’; (74r) ‘Prayer for Midnight’; (f.75v) ‘Prayer to the King of Praise’; (f.81v) ‘Prayer and Vow for the Forgiveness of Sin’; (f.85r) ‘Prayer and Praise of the Divinity an Vow to the King of Praise’; (f.85v) The ten Commandments (in red).

ff 87-105 contains liturgical texts and hymns: (f.87) ‘Hymn to Our Lord Jesus Christ which is to be read on Sunday before the Weddase maryam (Praise to mary)’; (f.94r) ‘Prayer for Monday’; (f.95r) ‘Prayer for Tuesday; (f.97r) ‘prayer for Wednesday’; (99r) ‘Prayer for Thursday’; (f.102v) ‘Praise for Friday’.

ff108 contains the Gospel of St.John. there is however a break of a page between the two blocks of text.

ILLUMINATION

This manuscript is an exmple of the earlist geometric style of Ethiopian illumination. Although Christianity arrived in the country in the 4th century, no paintings or manuscripts can be formally dated before the late 13th or early 14 centuries. The few examples that survive from the 14th or 15th centuries are broadly similar in style, with forms and iconography stemming from Byzantine and Syrian painting. the Chief charecteristics of this style are strong frontal figures articulated by geometric backgrounds.

Lot. 15 £50,000

Text and Image – Bloomsbury Auctions“Antiquarian Books & Ancient Manuscripts,” Catalogue 12, 1989

Durme, Hermosa Donzella – Jordi Savall : Lunissanti, Miserere – Enzo Favata : Symphony No.3, II Lento e largo, Tranquillissimo – Gorecki : In Darkness Let Me Dwell – John Downland : Il Prologo: Alba – Gianluigi Trovesi : Rite Of Passage A – Meredith Monk : Dos Kelbl (The Little Calf) – Iva Bittova : Da Pacem Domine – Arvo Part : Viderunt omnes – Perotin : Mothertongue: IV. Monster – Nico Muly : Mieke’s Melody #5 – Meredith Monk : Jolson and Jones – Scott Walker : Quatuor pour Cora, Dance of the Vampires – Iva Bittova – 65 Mins

 

In the dream I found myself in a magnificent Italian loggia with pillars, a marble floor, and a marble balustrade. I was sitting on a gold Renaissance chair; in front of me was a table of rare beauty. It was made of green stone, like emerald. There I sat looking out into the distance, for the loggia was set high up on the tower of my castle. My children were sitting at the table too.

Suddenly a white bird descended, a small sea-gull or a dove. Gracefully, it came to rest on the table, and I signed to the children to be still so that they would not frighten away the pretty white bird. Immediately the dove was transformed into a little girl, about eight years of age, with golden blonde hair. She ran off with the children and played with them among the colonnades of the castle.

I remained lost in thought, musing about what had I had just experienced. The little girl returned and tenderly placed her arms around my neck. Then she suddenly vanished; the dove was back and spoke slowly in a human voice.

“Only in the first hours of the night can I transform myself into a human being, while the male dove is busy with the twelve dead.” Then she flew off in the blue air, and I awoke.

C.G.Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” 1961

Whiteboard intro : Dead Horse Alive With Flies – Harold Budd : Balthus Bemused By Color – Harold Budd : Heresy III – Lustmord : Mementos – Ernie : IBM 729 II (Magnetic Tape Unit) – Jóhann Jóhannsson : Avenue of Shapes – Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd : Folding paper bridge : Vir›ulegu Forsetar, Part 3 – Jóhann Jóhannsson : Be Good To Them Always – The Books : Vladmir’s Blues – Max Richter : Organum – Max Richter : Automatic Writing – Robert Ashley – 60 Mins

Image – Pl. 260 Stone sundial in the form of a polyhedron. W.28 cm. Historiscehs Museum Basel

 

17. “What about that black violin?” Johannes asked him the third evening. “What’s interesting about that?”

Erasmus looked up and paled slightly.

“That violin? If I were you I wouldn’t even touch one of its strings.”

“Why? Is it so bad that it’s not worth playing?”

“Quite the opposite! It’s the most extraordinary instrument I’ve ever come across. A mere breath is enough to set it vibrating. But the music it makes is so strange, that to hear it once is to be changed forever. It is like taking a draught of pure happiness. Once you have tasted it, you are never the same again. Playing the black violin like that, too.”

“Have you ever played it?”

“Only once. A long time ago. I haven’t touched it since. It is like love. When you have been in love-and I’m talking here about true love-it is something you can never forget. There is nothing worse than having been truly happy once in your life. From that moment on, everything makes you sad, even the most insignificant things.”

39. I was standing in front of my workbench when the idea first hit me. Why not make a violin that was just like Carla? If I wanted to reproduce her voice, I should start by taking the inspiration from her body. I would have to make a violin that caught the black of her eyes and the color of her hair. I remembered that somewhere on one of the dusty shelves in the library I had come across a small treatise, written by Antonio Stradivari himself, which explained how to make a violin made almost entirely from ebony. When I found it, I was glad to discover that among other things, the treatise contained a secret recipe for a black varnish, a varnish that I had not used before. Encouraged by my findings, I went back to work.

The shaping of the instrument’s body and sound box was no simple matter. Ebony is an extremely hard wood, and to work it requires both strength and great care. Assembling all the pieces was no easy task either, but finally, after many patient hours, I succeeded. Then came the varnishing, which took me another few weeks of painstaking work.

Two months later, the black violin was finished. The last coat of varnish had dried, and the time had come to see how it sounded. That night there was a storm. The lightning lit up the sky.

I picked up the violin and ran my finger over the surface of the varnish. As I did so, the wood started singing. This was no ordinary violin.

The bow glided over the cords as gently as a feather settling on a ripple of water. The sound grew, and swelled: like a woman’s voice. Like the voice of a soprano.

I stopped playing, almost bursting with happiness, for I knew I had finally made my dream come true.

That night, I played the black violin, and I played in a way I had never played any other instrument before. It was like holding Carla in my arms.

40. A few days later, I returned to Venice. It was the time they call the acqua alta, when the waters of the lagoon had risen and some of the tiny streets were completely flooded. And yet I felt unmoved by this sad landscape. I was so eager to see Carla again and to show her the black violin.

The Ferenzi Palace appeared to be sinking into the water of the Grand Canal. Since the quay was under water, I moored my gondola to the bars of a window. Waves rimmed with green algae were lapping at the steps.

To my surprise it was not the butler who opened the door, but Count Ferenzi himself I was shocked by his appearance, for his cheeks were hollow, his eyes were glazed, and his skin had a waxy look to it. He had aged terribly, and seemed to be weighed down by grief. ”Ah, Erasmus,” he said, “so good to see you. Perhaps you will be able to help us.” “Why, what has happened? Are you unwell?” He took a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed at his forehead. “No, no. I’m fine,” he said, and then, in a whisper, “it’s Carla.” “Carla? What’s happened to her?” ”Ah, if only I knew. She’s been taken ill. She has been in bed for the last ten days.” “Can I see her?” Without waiting for an answer, I went in and ran up the stairs. As I opened the door I saw her lying in bed, looking pale and wan. She was clearly very ill. I went over to see her.

“Carla,” I whispered, “what’s the matter?” She turned her head slowly toward me and I could see from the expression in her eyes that she was in great pain. “Look, I’ve brought the violin I promised you. Listen what a wonderful sound it has!”

But as soon as I touched the strings, Carla looked horrified. Her eyes widened, and she grabbed my arm, imploring me to stop.

“It’s terrible,” said the Count, arriving in the room behind me. “My daughter has a high fever, and the doctors have no idea what is the matter with her. The poor child has been fighting between life and death for more than a week now. ”

I looked at Carla, lying on the bed, her face the very picture of sadness.

“And the most terrible thing of all,” said Ferenzi, “is that since the night she first became ill, she has lost her voice completely!”

I felt the ground slipping away beneath me and had to steady myself against the bedpost to stop myself from fainting.

“What’s the matter?” asked Ferenzi. “Nothing,” I said. “I just feel a little tired, that’s all.” I looked at Carla and could see that she was crying.

Maxence Fermine,The Black Violin,” 2000

Music box intro : Musica Ricerta IIGyorgy Ligeti : Nicoles Dream – Sample : La Petite Messe Solennelle. I. Kyrie – Rossini : O Venezia, Venga, Venusia – Nino Rota : Through the Streets of Venice – Pino Donaggio : Venetian Church bells : Those two girls : Stormy Weather – Lena Horne : Wind : Strange Happenings – Pino Donaggio : Symphony No.5 Adagietto – Mahler : Le Petit Nicolas – Gabriel Yared : I Only Have Eyes for You – The Flamingos : Stillness Of The Mind – Abel Korzeniowski : O Belta Rara, O Santi Modi Adorni – Gabrieli Madrigals : Tom’s farwell : Farewell Theme – Eleni Karaindrou : Crash – 55 Mins

Image -Cover of The Ravished Image Or How To Ruin Masterpieces by Restoration by Sarah Walden