DAY 42

May 7th, 2013 § 0 comments

One of my more technically-minded followers pointed out that I could download books to my phone and read them on the Tube; and if they were out of copyright it would be free. So I could use my phone like a Kindle! The example she gave was Shakspeare’s sonnets (probably a page per sonnet); but overweening ambition led me to download Nostromo.

Nostromo-Scene1I don’t know if this has seriously overstrained my poor phone’s memory, but here are some tips for any of you who may have similar temptations: a) a page on the phone is so short that it scarcely covers one of Conrad’s sentences. (Don’t try Proust!) You have to keep flicking back to see what the man in the poncho was doing when you first heard of him. b) the software used to transfer text onto the phone is not totally up to scratch, and if you’re even mildly pedantic you’ll be irritated by a misprint at least every other page.

That said, the pleasures of ignoring the Metro and spending your Tube (or bus) journey immersed in events in Costaguana are huge, and I might even finish the book, though I imagine it runs to several thousand of the phone’s mini-pages. Flick, flick, flick. Just a taster:

“It has killed him!” he said.

He had walked straight out of town with the news, straight out before him in the noonday sun on the white road, and his feet had brought him face to face with her in the hall of the ruined palazzo, a room magnificent and naked, with here and there a long strip of damask, black with damp and age, hanging down on a bare panel of the wall. It was furnished with exactly one gilt armchair, with a broken back, and an octagon columnar stand bearing a heavy marble vase ornamented with sculptured masks and garlands of flowers, and cracked from top to bottom. Charles Gould was dusty with the white dust of the road lying on his boots, on his shoulders, on his cap with two peaks. Water dripped from under it all over his face, and he grasped a thick oaken cudgel in his bare right hand.

She went very pale under the roses of her big straw hat, gloved, swinging a clear sunshade, caught just as she was going out to meet him at the bottom of the hill, where three poplars stand near the wall of a vineyard.

“It has killed him!” he repeated. “He ought to have had many years yet. We are a long-lived family.”

The thick oaken cudgel! The three poplars! Read on…

The copyright restriction matters, although both Yeats and Freud went out of copyright in 2010 (see the 1940 poems on both by Auden). So you can download (e.g.) ‘Three Essays on Sexuality’ and, if someone is reading over your shoulder as I usually try to do, you may find a more interesting class of friend than you would on match.com..

Enough of Costaguana: increasingly confused about Syria, I got some clarification, after the Israeli bombardments from Robert Fisk: To quote:

Israeli airstrike at Al-Hama area Rural Damascus, Syria

Destruction after Israeli air attacks

‘Israel has now intervened in the Syrian war.  It may say it was only aiming at weapons destined for the Hezbollah – but these were weapons also being used against rebel forces in Syria.  By diminishing the regime’s supply of these weapons, it is therefore helping the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad. And since Israel regards itself as a Western nation – best friend and best US military ally in the Middle East, etc, etc – this means that “we” are now involved in the war, directly and from the air.

Let’s see if the US and the EU condemn Israel’s air attacks. I doubt it. Which would mean, if we are silent, that we approve of them. Silence, to quote Sir Thomas More, gives consent.

So now the Iranians and Hizballah are accused of intervening in Syria – true, though not to quite extent we are led to believe – and Qatar and Saudi Arabia funnel weapons to the rebels – true, but not quite enough weapons, as the Syrian rebels will tell you – and the Israelis have joined in. We are now militarily involved.’

As we come up to Nakba Day (May 15th), the Israelis still found time to destroy a community centre near Nablus, see this report:

‘Large slabs of wood lay scattered on the brightly tiled floor. Ripped posters were still clinging to the walls by bits of tape. A handful of computer hard drives were ripped out, and lay haphazardly on their sides. The electricity wires were cut, and broken windowpanes let in what little light entered the room.

“[The Israeli interrogator] told me, ‘We are now breaking your dream and your friends’ dreams,’” said 23-year-old Ghassan al-Najjar, while standing on piece of a broken wooden desk. “They said, ‘We will come back soon, but next time will be to take you and put you in the prison.’”’

On the way from the Euston Road to Senate House, I happened on an ‘outdoor extravaganza’ celebrating the centenary of Tagore’s Nobel prize, with readings, music, free food and collections for the Primark workers im Bangladesh.

tagoreHow long would I have to wait till another one came by? What a privilege.

Indeed here in London, after an atrocious winter, it’s been an amazing spring with cowslips, anemones and kingcups on Hampstead Heath; and more cherry blossom than I’ve ever seen. Here’s a poem (in answer to an online query, of course) about cherry trees, not by Housman:

Fujii Tikugai

Visiting Mount Yoshino

At the old imperial grave, oaks and pine trees cry to the heaven wind,
I look for a sign of spring at the temple in this mountain, but here, spring is lonely and silent.
An old Buddhist monk with white eyebrows, he stops sweeping dusts for a moment,
under the cherry blossom he tells the story of Nantyo era at its peak.

(Can anyone enlighten me on Fujii? My other sources have him down as a scroll artist, not a poet – but I expect you can do both…)

And here are probably the only Druze reggae band on the Golan Heights, ‘Toot Ard‘, featured in the film ‘Apples of the Golan’.

applesThey’re performing in Nazareth, a hit which Youtube calls ‘Roo7 Bladi’ – surely that 7 is a strong ‘h’, the word is nothing to do with James Bond. Written properly, (but it seems hard to combine Youtube’s Arabic script with Times New Roman):

 توت ارض – روح بلادي في الناصره

 

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