Cumnock Pool

My paternal grandfather worked as an ostler in a coalmine. Or was it my great-grandfather? He cut grass for the horses on the way to work. He was kicked by one of the horses and eventually died of complications from the wound. My maternal grandfather also worked with horses at one time, carrying bricks for the building of Cumnock swimming pool.
My mother lived in Kier Hardie Hill, within earshot of the pool, and when they needed her they used to play “In the mood” over the tannoy. They laid a wooden dance floor on the tennis courts just next to the pool, and used the pool’s loudspeakers system for the music. At that time, my granny used to sing in Alex Cairn’s skiffle band at Cumnock dance. My mother told me she stopped smoking two weeks ahead of each gig.

There were Free French soldiers stationed at Pennylands camp between Auchinleck and Cumnock. Some of them were very young, they lied about their age to fight with De Gaulle, and my grandparents used to invite them home. Two of them were called Max. One of the Maxes jumped off the balcony at Cumnock town hall dance in tribute to my granny’s singing – well, they were parachutists.
Anyway, in a round-about way, I believe that’s how I ended up in
France, because there was a deep love of things French in my family… among other things, they taught each other songs. "J'attendrai le jour et la nuit..."

Hostelry. Revelry. Ribald (gosh, more sex! Who would have thought... (written after jostle)). “He’s a rastler” was always spoken with contempt, so it probably meant someone who was not quite réglo but I can’t find it in the dictionary. Connotations of rascal, leading to “rogue”. I had a problem with “rogue” and "foliage” at primary school. When I came across the word “rogue” for the first time – probably in Enid Blyton – I pronounced it “rogue-you” (like argue and Montesquieu). Then I heard a teacher use the word and realised I had been pronouncing it wrong. It took me a long time to accept the new pronunciation, correct or not. The other word was “foliage”. I don’t know what went wrong but I had it stitched as “foilage” and I was loath to change to the proper pronunciation.

There is seemingly no connection to ostentation:

Originated 1425–75 from late Middle English ostentacioun, from Middle French ostentation, from Latin ostentātiōn (singular of ostentātiō), equivalent to ostentātus (past participle of ostentāre, to display or exhibit), frequentative of ostendere (to present, display) + -iōn.

Or to Jostle:

1. A rough shove or push.
2. The condition of being crowded together.

[Middle English justilen, to have sexual relations with, frequentative of justen, to joust, from Old French juster; see joust.]

jostler n.

Many a true word is spoken in _____.

I then tried to find out what “craven image” means – and I can’t. I can find Craven (adj. Characterized by abject fear; cowardly.) [Middle English cravant, perhaps from Old French crevant, present participle of crever, to burst, from Latin crepāre, to break.] cravenly cra'ven·ly adv. cravenness cra'ven·ness n.

But I don't see how that could apply to images. You cowardly picture, you!

I like the word vicarious (adjective) - taking the place of another; felt, received or done in place of another; indirect.

The Pool was a big part of my own childhood. I learnt to swim there and spent many a long summer's day oblivious to the crinkling of my toes and thumbs. My mother’s experience of the pool and my experience of the pool were both absolutely magical; the sparkly blue water (when the sun was shining), the latest records played while you swim, the pool attendants in their white shirts and plimsolls – Sammy Blackwood, David Garven, etc., – they all looked like Greek Gods to my prepubescent heart - so I feel kind of sad for the local children today that they don’t have that kind of excitement in their lives. It's the mixture of fresh air and people and music...
I know that the memory embroiders on the past and makes it seem more interesting than it actually was, but the present really does look awfully dull…


Ars Longa

When I chose the title of this blog, I thought “Vita Brevis Ars Longa” meant life is short and art is long – i.e. takes a long time and lasts a long time. The whole motto is:





Life is short, Professionalism takes long, Occasion arises unexpectedly, Trusting experience is perilous, Good judgement remains difficult. (The famous Latin version of the first lines of the book on medicine by the Greek physician Hippocrates, 460 - 377 B.C.)

According to Phrase finder.

"This can be rendered into English as 'life is short, the art (craft/skill) long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult'.

That would lead us to interpret the meaning as 'it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one's expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it'."

How did the phrase get turned round, which is the “true” version, Vita Brevis Ars Longa or Ars Longa Vita Brevis? We know it originally comes from Greek, but it is known to us in Latin. Did the original translator switch the order? What else did they switch?

So much of what we are adamantly certain about is in fact steeped in à peu près,

approximation: an inexact result adequate for a given purpose.

To be able to translate you have to make split second choices about what a source text means and how it would best be rendered in the target language. Working slowly does not always improve quality because on a leisurely stroll through the garden you can stumble onto forking paths that will open up avenues but take you too far from the case in point. To make a living, speed is an important parameter. In a rough draft I often accept a translation I am not happy with, or even transpose the French literally, to be able to make progress, but when I re-read the final version I find it is not so bad... the trap is that the mind is influenced by the written word. As a translator, I have to like what I write, or I wouldn't be able to do the job, but I also have to be willing to improve, to evolve along with the language which is living.

I know that how I feel about my translation is not always a true reflection of its value, just as, on a wider level, my force of conviction is not always a true reflection of my state of enlightenment. Sometimes I am so convinced of something I succeed in convincing other people, to everyone’s detriment when it turns out I was wrong all along… Ubending intent somehow got configured into my survival strategy. The trick would be to make it more flexible!

Translation is certainly grist for my mill. The following quotation reminded me how great it is to have role models and people we can admire:

“Handel is the only person I would wish to see before I die, and the only person I would wish to be were I not Bach.”

Johann Sebastian Bach

In the same text, I found Ad libitum” Latin ad libitum (freely, as desired). I noticed a French “À volonté” floating around which unfortunately is linked in my mind to a Bistro Romain restaurant chain I once went to with work colleagues in Paris which offers unlimited amounts of salmon carpaccio and/or chocolate mousse.

As I read it, I was aware that the “freely, as desired” doesn’t mean fay ce que voudras.

Musical improvisation is not arbitrary, absolute freedom, but relative freedom of one parameter in relation to others that must be obeyed - but what of John Cage's silence?

Libitum takes me via liberty to libido and Lacan’s “ne pas céder sur son désir” - “do not give up on your desire”. Unbending desire.

Talking about libido, I was struck by this nice description of jouissance from Zizek:

"Although jouissance can be translated as "enjoyment," translators of Lacan often leave it in French in order to render palpable its excessive, properly traumatic character: we are not dealing with simple pleasures, but with a violent intrusion that brings more pain than pleasure. This is how we usually perceive the Freudian superego, the cruel and sadistic ethical agency which bombards us with impossible demands and then gleefully observes our failure to meet them. No wonder, then, that Lacan posited an equation between jouissance and superego: to enjoy is not a matter of following one's spontaneous tendencies; it is rather something we do as a kind of weird and twisted ethical duty."

Like playing the fiddle as the Titanic sinks. Quoted by Laura Gonzalez :
“Analysis is like the Titanic and all the analyst can do is arrange deck chairs to get a better view of the iceberg. A beautiful twist on a deja-vu metaphor.”

I enjoyed Laura’s latest post on the gaze, and had never heard of Cranach the Elder before.

And from deck chairs to peer reviews via Pier culture


Crocodile tears

This is a very busy time of the year for me work-wise and I'm spending a lot of time in front of my screen. I bought eyedrops to reduce irritation and they're called "larmes artificielles". Speaks for itself. I don’t really have time to post (duh? as if any of us ever have time to do the things we want to do) so I’ll stop beating about the bush and just jot down the things that have been sifting themselves into the blog cubicles of my mind.

First I have to look up “beat about the bush” (which sounds like ‘Peter Piper Picked’ when spoken in a disincarnated, distant voice) because it came out automatically and I am not 100% sure where it comes from (actually have no idea). (quick google search) Ah, it comes from hunting and now means to avoid getting to the point of an issue. I am not 100% happy with this – is anyone ever 100% happy with anything? The meaning of the expression has deviated from the original situation – in hunting, it was necessary to beat around the bush for the bird to come out in order to capture (or kill) it.

“You may say we’ll never get there if we examine every paving stone on the way, that it’s impossible to pay attention to every single comma, every sous-entendu in Art”, he chokes.

Not the sort of food you can bolt down with your eyes still stuck to the screen. (Must look up ‘manger sur le pouce’ – to eat on your thumb – intensely annoying expression. Damn the French). The supermarket has been full of them recently, three for €1.20 (artichauts, not French people, they are more expensive :)). I bought some straight away, and was alarmed to find that they don’t keep. So I threw away the rotten ones and bought more and cooked them as soon as I got home from the supermarket.

Eating them is a leisurely zen ritual that reminds me of seafood platter evenings in Parisian brasseries (don’t go there – semantically, I mean. The starched white table linen, dry white wine in ice bucket, the yellow “robe” shining in clear, sparkling, stalked glasses, dark brown bread, butter kept cool in water, shallot vinaigrette, the waiters in their uniforms toing and froing in the huge mirrors with the art deco applique lamps, the brass handles on the evolving doors and the wood, the instant iodine fix of the oyster – what bits of the crab are we supposed to leave?).

· Artichokes are the opposite of fastfood. They take time and patience. Dedication. You rip off a leaf, which is actually a petal, gently dunk the end of it into a small pool of your favourite vinaigrette préalablement poured onto your plate, stick it in your mouth and scrape it along your teeth to extract the soft substance from the end, leaving beautiful rabbit marks – I wonder if any crimes have ever been solved by discarded artichoke leaves. Leaf after leaf you peel and devour the little bit of edibleness on the end of the petal, and the closer you get to the heart the more you worry about getting bits of the beard in your mouth. This is, after all, a thistle. You can always buy the hearts in tins.

The French expression avoir un coeur d’artichaut means to fall in love very easily…
When you steam them, the water turns a very bright, deep green.

About to switch to a new subject that has nothing to do with art or chokes, the French expression du coq à l’âne comes to mind because it means just this. Imagine my surprise to find that the “âne” = donkey is actually a female duck. It’s all water off a duck’s back!!!!

So here is Apocalyptic Dream’s latest track – they haven’t given it a name yet – I don’t know how they remember the different "morceaux" without naming them. A little sample of the unadulterated energy of 15 year –olds. I find it very exciting, but I'm hardly objective!