Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sunday Night is.. Cary Grant singing Cole Porter... his own inimitable way. I keep thinking he is being played by Tony Curtis.


Finished second of Newcastle lectures about poetry and history / politics / Eastern Europe and whether we live in ivory towers. I know I do, but it could do with some redecoration. I also packed up a working state of the new younger Hungarian poets anthology (for Salt). All work no play makes George a relieved boy. Temporarily. Temporarily.

Read Will Self on W G Sebald in The Guardian. What he misses about Max is humour and delight. I know, Sebald is melancholy. That's a given, but not that it's a droll melancholy - droll, that is, when it is he himself being melancholy. It is deep dark melancholy when it comes to the human race though. Self is right to emphasise that Sebald loves individuals but not the species.

Phenomena are another thing altogether: life in Sebald is absolutely full of extraordinary things: from moths, through the human eye, through domes, through hotels, through colours, through coincidence, through almost anything at all perceivable. It is the magical encyclopaedia aspect of his work.

It is history that is deeply melancholy for him. And so it is. For us too. That's the whole point of an ivory tower - it is an observation post from which one might survey the multitudinous seas clashing incarnadine, alas, against the rocks. Everyone needs one or else drowns. Life is not, as Pasternak put it, a walk across a field. Nor, equally alas, across water.

A melancholy thought. Put on Otis.

Phew! That was a close thing.


Nicole Segre said...

How does Cary Grant manage to sing (sort of), play the piano, smoke a cigarette and impersonate Tony Curtis all at the same time? He always has this air of not quite believing he is where he is, especially so here. Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Easier, one imagines, than singing, playing the piano, smoking a cigarette and impersonating Brian Clough.

George S said...

The true miracle is playing the piano without touching the keys.

Clough, the singer. He did once stand up Frank Sinatra I believe.

It's in the book. It must be true.

Dafydd John said...

Nothing to do with this really, but it is your 'Sunday night' entry, so I was wondering George if you follow rugby at all?!

Anonymous said...

"The true miracle is playing the piano without touching the keys." I once saw a shopping mall pull this off: The Friary, in Guildford. Bebop and swing all through a long, hot summer's afternoon in the '80s. On a white Japanese grand piano. Most impressive it was.

thijsw said...

As for me, nothing to do with this really, but it's Tuesday night now. What night is that?

George S said...

I do follow rugby in a sort of Hungarian way, Dafydd, meaning I see some of the internationals when they're on TV. I only learned to play rugby in my last year of school when, being a good sprinter, the teacher in charge decided to put me in a position where I could run. I played three games. In the third I dislocated and chipped my shoulder. End of a brief promising career (I did in fact succeed in scoring a try).

As a matter of fact I do think Union is a lovely flowing game at best, truly exhilarating. Less keen on League with all its stops and starts and shoving for a few yards advantage.

And yes, I do remember the great Welsh team of the 70s.

James - should I assume it was a player piano? (In Cary Grant's case not a player piano but a piano player elsewhere).

George S said...

thijsw - Tuesday night is uncomfortably wedged between Monday and Wednesday nights. I personally should not like to be Tuesday night. Now Thursday night is another thing. I think there may be a future in being a Thursday night.

Incidentally, I have been invited to the Rotterdam International Poetry Festival this year. I have just sent them a few poems for their translators. Including Chair.

George S said...

Nicole - "He always has this air of not quite believing he is where he is, especially so here."

That is beautifully put. And absolutely right. That is why he is such a delight.

Thank you.

thijsw said...

Tuesday wedged in between... Such a lovely 'vignette' for my dear Dutch country! We'd better start working for Tuesday night qualifications.
Wonderful news about Rotterdam Poetry International! I'll be there, or I will at least try to be there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post, and for other posts.

Everyone does need that ivory tower from time to time. We are all part of that suffering that makes humanity. But it is good to look at suffering, all of us, from a higher vantage point from time to time. How can we make it better(that includes those suffering)? For ourselves, and for others. We are all suffering in many ways.

Thanks for mentioning Pasternak as well as the video.