Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tonight, One of the Best Films I Have Ever Seen

'A sense of loss took hold of him, and it would not let go. And there were times when this loss was so great, and so suffocating, that he though it would never let go.'--Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude.

'The sudden knowledge that came over him that even alone, in the deepest solitude of his room, he was not alone, or more precisely, that the moment he began to speak of that solitude, he had become more than just himself.'--Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Late Autumn Light

Turner's father was a magician called the Great Girevole, a name the old man had not, as he would sometimes tell it, conjured out of thin air, but that he had once seen decorating a record player on a trip to Rome. Reflecting upon the resonance between his name and that of an Italian brand of turntable, he had settled upon his moniker.

Turner hated it whenever his father suited up as the Great Girevole. Always at the most inopportune times, his father would don his cape and toreador pants and, maybe, decide to pick him up from school--a sweep of his white gloved hand as he stepped out of the car, a shower of cards raining forth, or a nylon bouquet, or a length of knotted handkerchiefs--completely oblivious to the guffaws and snickering of Turner's fellow schoolmates. The man at these moments, was in his own world, inhabiting completely what he would proclaim (his eyes widening, his voice growing low and urgent) the Plain of Mystical Illusion. It became Turner's job to wear the old man's shame for him.

But soon enough, the young man decided it was his duty in life to debunk all of his father's miracles. Pay no attention, he would whisper to his friends, it was only a bit of fishing line. It was only the linking of tiny magnets. It was only a crummy sleight of hand and some careful distraction...

Then one day, after the old man was dead and buried and, along with him, the Great Girevole name, Turner fell asleep in his backyard. A cool, beatific sleep as he had never experienced before in his life. He could tell the sun was burning his eyelids, but still his whole body was relaxed, breathing deeply and hovering someplace between dream and reality. And when he opened his eyes again--after how long, he could not say--he found that he had turned completely invisible. Translucent as a sheet of ice. It lasted for only a few seconds, but he was sure, in the haze of waking, that it was real: his body had ceased to exist.

He ran back into the house and poured himself a glass of water and drank it down, reminding himself that he was being ridiculous. Such things couldn't happen. Such things were the realm of lunatics like his father, a sorry pretence for putting on a cape, a top hat, and gloves, and pretending things were more spectacular than they really were.

Some months later, after Turner had forgotten the invisibility episode, he fell into a second trance, this time at his desk. Again the calm, angelic sleep. Again the slow waking resplendence. But this time, when he opened his eyes, he was all there. He couldn't see through himself. No, this time, he was hovering above his chair by about a foot an a half. He was levitating. He was watching himself lying there on a bed of nothing above his desk.

This too lasted only a number of seconds. Then he came crashing back to the floor in disbelief, almost toppling his chair over.

For the remaining years of his life, Turner tried everything he could to recreate these two miraculous moments. He gave himself migraines, suffered an ulcer and a hernia from the strain. He joined a Transcendental Mediation group, he went on a pilgrimage to India. He sought insight from books: from the biographies of medieval monks to Zen instructional manuals. Eventually, he even thought about getting out his father's old costume, trying it on for size. But, after a hungry, pathetic search through his basement and numerous disintegrating storage boxes, he settled on the notion that the old man must have been buried in it. Standing vigil beside the grave, Turner found himself bawling out the name Girevole over and over again in delirious wonder. His eyes sparkled with tears. He was amazed and awed to find that the closed casket had been the old man's final trick.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Head Space Part 2

Something I found in my notebook today, forgotten in the earliest pages:

The thing I found most endearing about Jonathan was not his forever rumpled suits, nor his stammering over difficult words, nor the rather helpless trajectory his life had taken--no, most affecting was his skull, the whole contraption resting warily atop his shoulders. If you didn't know him, you might have thought his head and body ill-suited; Jonathan's skull was so like a full-scale helmet missing its suit of armor. I once asked him, untactfully if there had been an accident (imagining some mishap with birthing tongs), though he was so offended when I put this to him, he merely swung that brooding, beautiful, bust-like feature of his from side to side and wandered away. Whenever I saw him crossing the room, like this, in one of his grey and unkempt suits, I always thought he looked rather dramatic, like some sublime weather formation, luring the eye skywards. A cloud as perfect as an egg.

The speaker's a woman, I think. Played by Ingrid Bergman, maybe, in the film version. Here's the real-life Jonathan helping her with her zip...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


He met the first of his wives--a school teacher--while she was sitting, bored and beautiful, amidst a group of adolescent boys, all of them uniformed, all of them eating from bag lunches. It had been a field trip, he guessed. Her students were amassed around her, crosslegged, making her look like some stoical Indian chief, or a guru waiting to impart the secret of enlightenment. She was pretty, statuesque, blonde. It was her blank stare though, her melancholy look, which caught him off guard. Yes, it was her loneliness as she sat there in the middle of these quiet, unobservant boys, that got him, that clinched his heart.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Man I Love

Just some of the talismanic Men in my life. Masculine touchstones, if you will. All inspiring, all representative of a potential maturity which I have yet to establish entirely within myself. Not just the artistry but the faces, and the stories they tell. Strangely, to varying degress, I see glimpses of my father in each of them (particularly Herzog and Hopkins and Von Sydow). It's these guys who help make up the male side of my ongoing creative pantheon:

Von Sydow






Irons (I love the little window you get on early-eighties New York life in this little interview with the man in question: 'I can't! I have a phone call coming through. I've got to go and talk about Liv Ullman!')

Friday, 19 June 2009

Play, Part I

Once the realization is accepted
That even between the closest human beings
Infinite distances continue to exist
A wonderful living side by side can grow up
If they succeed in loving the distance between them
Which makes it possible for each to see the other
Whole against a wide sky--Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I don't want a lover, I just want to be seen

He could still remember the day he'd scrawled on a hazy, sepia-scorched polaroid of the two of them together on the West Coast in 1975: 'Jane, thanks for the note and keep on the lookout for me'.

This sublime photo comes courtesy of John Harding at Half Moon Bay Memories

Of course, he knew Jane from years ago, but he didn’t admit as much to his wife. When Heather asked him if he’d seen the woman in the cream dress, and whether or not he had thought she looked pretty, he only shrugged, nodded, and clenched his lips around the last of his cocktail. Meanwhile, Jane's Scandinavian-inflected accent was tickling his ears from the next room, from thirty year's distance up the hall.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bow Spirits

"Boy and Seagulls" Courtesy of Peter Jones in Taschen's Polaroid Book

I heard this today courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard: Strange Overtones, by David Byrne and Brian Eno. I can't stop playing it and taking deep luxurient breaths.

Tonight's Television, or my ongoing Poirot Obsession

Soft Cities and Windowsills

I bought this today for 89 pence and now I'm relishing the thought of it, for some reason. Something to do, perhaps, with its basic, unadorned, unpretentiousness. Its earthy beauty in a deceptively plain little box.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

My Evening

Chez Herzog et Morrissey

Shutter Speeds

'I really don't know what it is, or where it comes from,' he said, 'but I have this fascination for women holding cameras.'
'The attention,' she answered.

Liv Ullman

Natasha Poly

Can't Remember (Some Singer)

Linda McCartney

Lina Scheynius

Franciose Hardy

Monday, 8 June 2009

She said I made her heart feel young

'A sad fact widely known
The most impassionate song
To a lonely soul
Is so easily outgrown
But dont forget the songs
That made you smile
And the songs that made you cry'

I've been wondering lately when bands stopped being this pure, this authentic.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

A Woman that Rains

When I met her, Iris had just been kicked out of college for stealing art books from the college library. They opened her locker and a stash of lost monographs cascaded down. Everyone just standing there, ankle deep in an avalanche of art history--it was such a thrilling scenario. I found it brought Iris's off-kilter beauty into focus for me. Picturing her there, accused of emancipating art, I couldn't help but fall in love with her.

London Underpass, taken by Me

Friday, 29 May 2009

A Place to Live, A Place to Thrive

I need to move again. Can anyone help? The flat I'm living in now is fine, but vaguely tainted by bad flatmates and bad vibes. I need somewhere lived-in. A space respected for being more than student digs. Some walls with an old picture or two. Preferably, a little bit San Francisco, a little bit Parisienne, a little bit Park Slope, Brooklyn. And of course, centrally located somewhere in Oxford.

Townes Van Zandt's kitchen (which looks strangely like my father's)

Really, all I want is some good community: a kitchen with one of those big long unstained wooden tables you get in European households, where everyone just sits around sipping tisane...

Thursday, 28 May 2009


This was a shoot I did with the lovely artist Lucy Barlow ( The moves were hers. The camera was mine.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Did I Ever

Ginger Rogers sang this in 1933:

'Did you ever see a dream walking?
Well I did.
Did you ever see a dream talking?
Well I did.
Did you ever have a dream thrill you
With "Will You Be Mine?"
Well, it's so grand
And it's too, too divine.

Did you ever see a dream dancing?
Well I did.
Did you ever see a dream romancing?
Well I did.

Did you ever hold heaven right in you arms,
Saying, "I love you, please do?"

Well that dream was walking,
That dream was talking,
And that heaven in my arms was you...'

Monday, 25 May 2009

Gelato and Pastries

The mellow drapery of her blouse caught his eye. He looked. She saw him look. Then months, seasons passed, and never could they quite manage to recreate the moment fully--but, god, how they tried.

Then, one day, she cuffed him gently across the chin and, in that moment, they saw each other again, for the first time.