Monday, 26 January 2009

Wapping Project

This is where I am reading tomorrow night. Or rather the bookshop that is part of it. On Saturday I am in Belfast, examining. The following Wednesday talking at the LSE.

In the meantime, between endless marking, and stuff I should be doing, I am crawling along, occasionally sprinting, with the three lectures (three evenings in a row) I am to give in Newcastle in the middle of March. The subject of those has long been in my mind in a general way, but only now is it beginning to take some shape. It is, after all, two hours of consecutive talking, so it had better add up. I am starting from seas and rivers, with a brief stopover at a delta and a lagoon. Wet wet wet. And cold.

What I generally feel when putting together any public lecture is a vast ignorance. This partly comes from having read everything I have read for myself without all the usual scholarly apparatus or guidance. Art college education, when I went, consisted chiefly of being physically in an art college with some other students, and occasionally talking to a passing artist. Learning things wasn't what we did. We learned being. I don't say I didn't enjoy it. As one Canadian lecturer put it to me in my first year: We're not interested in artists. We want to make beautiful people.

So here I am in the middle way, a beautiful person (and not so beautiful either) pulling together thin strands of knowledge from books my eyes have skimmed, scooted, blundered and scribbled through. And what have I learned? A limited number of ways of looking at a blackbird. Let's say, thirteen.

I am not writing anything on Gaza at the moment. I will be curious to see whether the current casualty figures hold up. An Italian paper today has reduced the estimate by half, and I remember Jenin when they plummeted from 1500 to about 60 or so, But that may not be the case, and however many deaths there have been, they are still deaths. Nothing to crow about. As if. History is the usual nightmare.

Which could take me back to the subject of the Newcastle lectures. Cold dark deep and absolutely clear. Something is.


Rachel Phillips said...

The Wapping thing says you are reading on the 20th. Today is the 27th. Hope you didnt miss it.

George S said...

No - we changed the dates but somewhere along the line someone forgot to tell one or two of the papers (eg The Guardian). Time Out gets it right. All is in hand. I am told the bookshop is a small space and can seat only about six very small mice, so everyone had to pre-book anyway.