April, 2024

 

So, the spring develops apace:

 

 

 

Time of year for these:

 

 

Hot Cross Buns.

 

Spring Equinox on the 21st: Half-Light/ Half-Darkness.

 

 

 

To Cornwall and my favourite place near Gwithian. I move in to the shack of friends Susie and Russ for a Robinson Crusoe few days. The expanse here is amazing – and the lights!!

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1618

 

 

 

I am down to do a Dowsing weekend on the Mesolithic age: in the UK that is about 8 – 10, 000 years BC. At that time, the sea was about 30 metres lower and England was joined to Europe by Doggerland. Basically, the Stone age.

 

 

 

I am amazed at some of the finds: this is a crude tool but look at its fine workings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunter gathering nomads moving to settlements at the end of this period.

 

 

 

I also do some art whilst in Cornwall. Firstly, Outi Pieski – a Sami artists working in the traditions of hand crafts in her tradition. Quite Shamanistic.

 

 

 

 

Rare to see some work from Pamela Colman Smith exhibited as well: one of my ‘spiritual’ painters:

 

 

Nice to be back in the Tate St Ives:

 

 

 

 

A little more local was Martina Thomas who painted locally in a fauve style: obviously inspired by Miro and Van Gogh:

 

 

And, then back to St Hilary:

 

 

 

Why is this Church filled with paintings from the cream of early C20 British Modernist?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did Mary Butts, the Great Grand-daughter of Thomas Butts – one of William Blake’s patrons – make a journey over to the Church on Sundays from Sennen Cove?

What has it to do with mining and fishing?

What is the connection to the BBC and nativity plays?

And, the connection with the Primitive Methodist Chapel in St Ives High Street?

Why was the Church attacked by a band of protestants in the 1930s? Wielding sledge hammers and cutters? Altars were broken, paintings torn down.

Why did the Vicar get imprisoned in the tower? Apparently, parishioners kneeled with candles along the track from the Church door singing hymns as he was released with the Eucharist.   

 

If you do not know the answer to these questions, you need to read my article:

 

‘The Savage Salvation of St Hilary’.

 

Cornwall’s very own Rennes-le-Chateau.

 

On the way back, I visit one of my favourite churches in Temple, with its Knights cravings:

 

 

 

My friend from Toulouse days, sends me further photos:

 

 

Yes, folks, this wamm me! A little tense in those days!

 

 

 

Quite a lot of film and culture this month:

 

An amazing film by Wim Wenders on Anselm Kiefer. I have always been a bit taken back by the sheer scale and scope of his work. But, this film converted me.

 

 

 

 

An amazing body of paintings and sculpture – with even incidental stamenet here and there on the like of Heidegger and how his philosophy ate away his brain:

 

By implications, I have been re-reading the poems of Paul Celan:

 

 

 

Also, a lovely book about breathing and breath:

 

 

Listening to the amazing String Quartets of Robert Simpson:

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXwi79lMYE8

 

25th March: the 39th anniversary of Guitar Craft.

Here are some live video recordings  of recent GC associated work with Musica en Moviemiento in Argentina.

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/musica-en-moviemiento-live/

 

A new feature, ‘Movement of the Month’: the First Obligatory.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbL9-xwj2MY&t=14s

 

March, 2024

 

Well, February, and still it rains. We are told that it has been a warm month – one of the warmest – but oh the damp!

People are scared the water table is rising where I live and homes will be flooded. Still, there are those who deny climate change. Admittedly, it is probably too late now to do much about it. Still, we drive on….

Nevertheless, there are signs of spring!!! The birds are chirping and bulbs are appearing:

 

 

 

Notice the wet puddles though!

 

I reconvene at work: a ‘post-modern’ building:

 

 

I do not normally post photos of other here. However, two noticeable events this month: meeting up with an old student friend – Richard – from my time in Toulouse, France – many years ago. He saved my bacon. He saved my bacon. Because I was not officially a student, I had to rent a private studio. I had no money even though I worked for the Aérospatiale, and no kitchen. The room was damp – literally, water coming down the walls, and I heard rats scurrying at night. No heating or sheets on the bed either. I realised in those days how ‘bourgeois’ I was. Despite all this, the thing that bugged me most was having no hairdryer!!

Anyway, my friend used to sell me meal tickets to eat in the University refectory.  They had two meals a day and only needed one. Pretty good for a few French francs – three courses of a hot dish, starter and dessert. The French way!

He also suffered my endless talk about French history and philosophy. I was very intellectual in those days!!

 

 

Tywi also came to work with me. We did a lot in one day!!

 

 

Continuing the French theme…

It being an ‘indoors’ time, I had a bit of a French cinema fest; namely, the Antoine Doinel series from the French film Director François Truffaut. They begin with 400 Coups (1958), starring the then child actor Jean-Pierre Léaud. Great film in black and white with historic shots of Paris at a time of transition. Antoine is a bit of a wayward boy constantly getting into trouble with his parents and school. Yet, seems prone to bad luck: for example, he steals a typewriter but then gets caught when he is talking it back. A great film that announced Truffaut as a leader in the new wave of French cinema:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i89oN8v7RdY

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAVOlu8WP1Q

 

The next film – Baisers Volés (1968) – catches up with Antoine again when he is now in his 20s and follows him still somewhat mystified by adult life and the opposite sex. My favourite film of the series, with Paris of the day again starring.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9d99YymOxk&t=28s

 

 

 

1970 and Antoine is now married but still crazy – Domicile Conjugal.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9gGZJdR3yg&t=15s

 

 

Finally, in L’Amour en Fuite (1979), he is divorcing his wife. Still confused, however, with his life coming back to haunt him.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b-RgvCHQww

 

 

The series tells a tale of the troubles of fitting in and finding a stable life. Léaud was the perfect actor to convey this. In fact, he became something of an unofficial adopted son of Truffaut. When the latter died, he went off the rails. Léaud did play other parts but never ever lived down being ‘Antoine’.

 

Oh, these days of wine and roses:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVh3jPtGKjQ

 

My business partner in Argentina getting the Spanish version of my Guitar Craft book about.

 

 

I have been reading the new collection of poetry by David Harsent:

 

 

I also picked up a new reprint from the J G Bennett group. The title says it all:

 

 

I have also been listening to the romantic sounds of Franz Schmidt thanks to GC Brother Ugo Adam from La Platta, Argentina drawing my attention to him:

 

 

Investigating why I have not heard of him, I read that he is the ‘composer that history forgot’. The reasons do not seem to be justified. Certainly worth unearthing:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Schmidt_(composer)

 

   

February, 2024

 

 

My return from South America was a shock to the system: like a 30 degrees drop in temperature for a start!!

 

 

Winter scenes everywhere:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Even the Dowsing Group have retreated to online Zoom meetings – weather too bad to follow Leylines:

 

 

 

Culture nights especially good:

 

 

A highly interpreted account of Shakespeare Othello, which stressed the racist aspect of the way our protagonist is set up.

 

 

 

 

Then, Top Hat – a film from all the way back to 1935: almost 90 years. Featuring the exquisite Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, legendary dance sequences/ costumes, and the marvelous music of Irving Berlin – someone who incidentally could neither read nor write music!!

 

 

January is a funny month. Days of darkness when one’s morale is low; other days where the light breaks through.

 

Even my mentor William Blake once wrote in his notebook: ‘1807, 20 January, between two and seven in the evening – Despair!’ One of the few personal comments made by Blake.

 

 

 

 

25th January was also Burns night after the famous Scottish writer. The traditional fare is Haggis, Neaps  and Tatties – basically, Haggis with mashed swede and potato – and lots of gravy! And a whiskey of course:

 

 

 

Exhibition in London of the art of Dan Van Vliet – better known as the rock legend Captain Beefheart – one of the true originals and author of the extraordinary Trout Mask Replica record!! Amongst others….

 

 

Here’s a glimpse – thank you Steve Lofkin for the photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile – Storms – Icha and Jocelyn. Rain is never far away these days – a bit like in the Blade Runner films = highly recommended.

 

31st January and the eve of Imbolc, St Brigid’s Day, Candlemass. Time to take down the last of the Christmas decorations. The first stirrings of the light, and a few flowers peek through the winter beds:

 

 

 

 

I make for the sea:

 

 

 

 

Beach art:

 

 

 

 

Seaside art:

 

 

 

The tourists have departed. This café is normally full!

 

 

 

 

Lots of music this month. Firstly digesting Peter Gabriel’s new collection the first for 20 years or so  –  i/o  !!. Actually, this was not totally new as he has been releasing tracks one by one over the course of last year – one per month. But, now is the time to digest them in their entirety; individually, set next to each other and as a group.

 

 

One has to say, he has honored himself in terms of creating music of a man in his 70s, expressing concerns that are pressing now.

Each piece by him is always worth careful attention to detail. He has moved away from lots of Global inlays in his music (although still present) and accented orchestra and choir. I found myself fixated on various pieces across the month. The upbeat Panopticom:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMJGV7GWC5I

 

And, the terribly introspective So much: a song about mortality – ‘only so much  to be done’. Always interesting to listen to his take on the songs. Here is So Much and his account of its creation:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urEbRC3PSY4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KJU9zZMzGs

 

Also, great to get the latest from Madness – C’est la vie : an essentially Pop/ Ska band that have evolved into creating urban folk operas!!

 

 

 

The introspective mood was also enhanced by my reading Ian McEwan’s Lessons. A strange, elegiac book: the story of one boy’s/ man’s life. It contains a series of tableau – for example, his childhood, school, parents, work, etc.. But the background to all this are events we who lived through the second half of the 20th Century would recognize: Suez, Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy assassination, Chernobyl, Iraq wars, Thatcher, Miners strike, Berlin Wall, Brexit, etc., etc. Against this there is aspiration, fear, abuse, misunderstanding, love – just a child’s perplexity of the adult world.

 

 

McEwan is always an enigmatic write and, sometimes, it is not sure if the main character is telling the truth or fantasizing. But, again, as with Gabriel, there is something of the mood of loss of innocence of a post-second world war generation – and with it modernist itself. So, a reflective, thought-provoking book.

 

   

 

 

December – January, 2023

 

December – 2023 – My Autumn Odessey

 

End November and we are hit by deluges of rain in the South of England:

 

 

 

 

Soon away though and walking in the sun of Buenos Aires – Argentina.

 

 

I get accosted in the street by workmen enjoying their end-of-week asado. Delighted to have captured an Englishman, they soon set about sharing with me:

 

 

 

I am down to do a bookshop/ restaurant ‘tour’: lecture on the Spanish translation of my Guitar Craft book. The La Plata act as the main band with additions from crafties across time:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, a successful time.

 

 

And then more fun with the ‘La Plata’ team:

 

 

 

 

‘Old’ friends:

 

 

 

I move on the Mendoza – my Air BnB – the Panama Club:

 

 

 

 

My area:

 

 

 

 

 

We have a week’s course with the Musica en Moviemiento team – in our favourite spot – Agrelo:

 

 

 

– and performances.

 

 

 

 

One of these is inside a balloon:

 

 

 

And another in the local archeology museum based on the enormous earthquake that hit the city in 1861, pretty much destroying most of the buildings and a fair number of people. These nights the audiences are super enthusiastic.

 

 

 

Brothers in arms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time out to visit friends:

 

 

 

 We began – 8 of us – six years ago – to the day. Now we are 30:

 

 

 

 

 

I also work on a recording of my piece Negative Earth with Marcelo and Santino:

 

 

Lots of instability in Argentina, after they vote a new President. Someone said it was the choice between Corruption and Insanity. They chose the latter:

 

 

And then time to leave:

 

 

Completion:

 

 

   

November, 2023

 

Autumn get a grip here:

 

Leaves in my garden:

 

 

 

And ominous skies around All Souls Eve:

 

 

So, Samhain: the darkness grows – we fear for light.

 

 

 

I have been continuing my investigation of the anniversary of the New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives: namely an exhibition at the Craft Centre of the University of Creativity in Farnham: there are some nice exhibits of recent artists work shown in St Ives:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also been following the work of Lizzie Black who is very prolific at the moment. She lives and work in Mousehole, and paints in a traditional, realist style somewhat reminiscent of styles going back to Stanhope Forbes:

 

 

https://lizzieblack.com

 

Managed to watch all of the 8 episodes of Robert Hughes’ Shock of the New from the 1980s – and the Coda from 25 years later. An excellent account. Hughes has an amazing turn of phrase and way of delivering it. Highly recommended.

 

 

Ahhh, I catch Covid again: the usual 3 – 4 sequence of fatigue and lethargy:

 

 

Some nice ‘Get Well’ wishes:

 

 

The Interview I did on Bourdieu is now transcribed:

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/bourdieu-epistemology-and-ontology-philosophy-and-method/

 

BourdieuEpistemologOntology23

 

Some contemporary art from me:

 

 

A visit to Dorset, and some favourite haunts – Sherborne and it magnificent Abbey and Dorchester:

 

 

 

A favourite Craft shop:

 

 

 

 

My latest version of Blake, Gnosticism and Gnosis is now available – to go into print later next years. Here are the texts – in English and Spanish!

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/william-blake-gnosticism-and-gnosis-2023/

Grenfell, M. William Blake_ Gnosticism and Gnosis-5

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/william-blake-gnosticism-and-gnosis-2023/

Grenfell, M. William Blake_ el gnosticismo y la gnosis-3

 

My Ralph McTell book – Parallel Lives : the Biographies of Ralph McTell is also now available as a PDF e-book. Downloadable from Pomara Press for just 4.099 GBP:

 

 

https://www.pomera.co.uk/product/parallel-lives-the-biographies-of-ralph-mctell/

 

Selling fast this month!

 

Here is a historic photo: the J G Bennett Dramatic Universe conference in Somerset, 2011:

 

 

 

 

I have been reading a Bibliography of William Blake this month – both of his work and what others have written about him. Edited by my old friend G E Bentley. Lots of fascination details:

 

 

 

 

The musical event of the month as we slip into November is a ‘new’ recording by The Beatles: Now and Then. Worked up from a Demo of John Lennon and backed by the 3 other Beatles, this piece finally saw the light of day thanks to technology that can clean up the sound and separate voice from instrument. Lots of discussion around ‘is it any good?’, ‘should it have been released?’, and ‘is there a clash of recording tonality across two centuries?’. All of which are irrelevant of course: it is the Beatles playing together again, albeit across time and space. The video too is emotive with a collage of the then and now. Paul McCartney periodically looking on wistfully – what was and might have been – and now. Finally, in black and white, the video takes us  back from Now through the different ages of the Beatles to them as children and then them stood at the end of one of their performance. They bow and then, as the go to stand straight fade away. With just The Beatles name left. An adieu – for sure.  Very emotional for anyone with any memory of the optimism and energy of the times, somewhat encapsulated in their music. And, Now…and now….?

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opxhh9Oh3rg

 

October, 2023

 

 

I have been reading a book about Vichy France: this was the period after the defeat of the French army in the second world war – 1940.

 

 

This period has been a speciality of mine; at least the 1930s and 40s. I think it would be fair to say that there was enormous upheaval in the 1930s – socio-economically – with strikes and high unemployment in many European countries. This manifested itself, in France at least, as a crisis in the Republic – with many looking back to previous monarchistic, religious times as better than the ones they were experiencing. One also has to recognize that before the full horror of the Nazi Holocaust and the Stalinist Gulag, the alternatives of Fascism and Communism seemed like realistic solutions. Therefore, many French men and women welcomed it when Marshall Phillippe Pétain – a hero from the first world war – took over and negotiated an armistice with the German aggressors. France was divided into ‘occupied’ and ‘unoccupied’ areas and governance share accordingly with the Germans. The Republican principles of Liberté, Fraternité and Egalité were replaced with Famille, Travail, Patrie to acknowledge a return to traditional values and ways of life. Of course, things did not work out as hoped: the war worsened for the Germans and they became increasingly demanding: for Jews to be sent to Germany and Concentration Camps, and for French workers to be sent to Germans factories as a policy of STO (Service de Travail Obligatoire). General de Gaulle flew to London and called on the French to continue to resist. This is the background to this excellent book by Julian Jackson and it tells of the trial of Pétain after the war. Many so-called collaborators were imprisoned, some were even executed. The account details the prosecution and the defense. Which were…..? Well, Pétain certainly collaborated and he stood by as the Nazis increasingly insisted on control of deportations, etc. Still, he claimed that he bought France time, and even reduced the numbers deported. There is some evidence that it could have been worst without him and Vichy (the place of government). Yet others close to him were more overtly Fascist. The overall impression is of an old man (he was in his 80s) losing control of the situation. As I say, the horrors of the Nazis were not entirely known at the time, although they became increasingly so. There was not much he could do about it and went along with things. He was found guilty and sentenced to death – which was commuted to life imprisonment because of his age. Many, however, were on his side – the Church, and those critical of the Republic. Pétain was one of the latter in the 1930s, and obviously took advantage of the situation in 1940 to re-establish a more traditional set of values in France. But, the allies and with them De Gaulle won – the Germans lost, which left Pétain marooned. He spent his last years in semi-prison on an island off of the Normandy coast, but the temptation to rehabilitate him and to use the vision he had of a non-Republican France was taken up by many in the decades that followed. Even in the last Presidential elections in France, one candidate tried to rally behind the so-called heroism of Pétain. This did not quite catch on, but the forces underpinning these moves certainly remain.

 

On the intellectual front, a new interview with me about Pierre Bourdieu – in the light of my latest Metanoiabook:

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/videos/lectures-and-interviews/

 

 

 

 

I go down to Cornwall for the early days of autumn. Stormy skies:

 

 

But, some nice cliff walks. Cape Cornwall and Godrevy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0195

 

 

   

Down in Mousehole of course….

 

 

 

IMG_0197

 

 

….and a meeting to commemorate the beach pool there. Someone has brought out a book on Beach pools of the world; this is where a pool is constructed to be replenished with water by the tides. There is one in Mousehole; constructed for the community and by the community. I join in the meeting as one who was there when it was first constructed; we children helped to clear the space of pebbles. Because of the ravages of the sea, it has had to be rebuilt several times since then.

 

 

 

 

I visit the old stone cross – the one that Ithell Colquhoun named her residence after. As a child I would climb on it.

 

 

 

Same door – me as a baby with my Grandmother – and now years later:

 

 

 

 

Then, on to Truro. The magnificent Cathedral:

 

 

 

 

I also visit the Museum there. Some exhibits concerning ancient customs. The Padstow Hobby Horse:

 

 

 

 

 

Also, an exhibition of waste objects washed up on beaches in Cornwall:

 

 

 

 

 

More walks involving menhirs. The famous Men-an-Tol:

 

 

 

 

And, a nearby standing stone:

 

 

 

Both approximately 4000 years old.

 

As always, old mine shafts are never far away:

 

 

 

 

There is a kind of anniversary exhibition of one of the St Ives Galleries – the New Craftsman. Founded by Janet Leach – wife of the famous potter Bernard Leach – in the 1950s, it has exhibited many of the leading St Ives artists since then:

 

Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham and Terry Frost:

 

 

Sandra Blow:

 

 

 

Bryan Pearce:

 

 

Matthew Lanyon:

 

 

 

Breon O’Casey:

 

 

 

 I take a special interest in some of the Churches that way. Morvah:

 

      

 

 

Oddly this church is dedicated to St Brigit of Sweden – hence the Swedish flag. The only one so named in the UK. Apparently, there was a cult of St Brigit in England in the C14. Now it is linked with an area she is identified with in Sweden – various gifts in the Church. It is quite a spare church. In fact, it was renovated in the C18. Before then, it had lost some of its wall and roof. Cattle grazed inside apparently!

 

 

St Just:

 

 

And, Sancreed Church looking very autumn like.

 

 

The coast too with approaching storms:

 

 

 

 

Penzance, and winter not far away now:

 

 

 

Revellers  in a restaurant giving onto the beach in St Ives:

 

 

 

 

I buy a Pumpkin for soup, roast, risotto, cake, etc. It IS that time of year.

 

 

The Summer is gone:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September, 2023

 

 

Summer Idyll   :   Northern Cyprus

 

 

So, to the airport and on my way via the Departure lounge:

 

 

 

And, arrive at the home of my friends. A warm welcome.

 

 

 

Soon we are off to explore the archeology of Cyprus. There is lots – everyone has invaded them at one time or another: Egyptians, Greece, Romans, the Genoese, French, Venetians, Ottomans, British.   But the archeology goes back 10 K years and includes Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages with dates not dissimilar to our own:

 

      

 

The Kolossi Castle where Richard the Lion Heart was married whilst there on Crusade:

 

 

 

 

And the Sanctuary of Apollo: now mostly Roman but predated by some centuries:

 

 

 

 

 

The Tombs of Kings near Pafos:

 

 

 

 

More museums to archaeology. Things are so well preserved:

 

 

 

 

 

Byzantine churches everywhere with magnificent wall paintings:

 

 

 

Magnificent countryside:

 

 

And, then to Famagusta – and its famous Othello castle. It is said that the real Othello on which the Shakespeare play was based lived here:

 

 

 

A strange part of Famagusta: several kilometers of coastal resort – the centre of the fashionable scene in the 1960s – Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren had houses there. The first 7 star hotel. And, then partition of North and South Cyprus in 1974. It is said the message was, ‘drop everything and run’. They did!! Leaving the place frozen in time. Most of its contents have been ransacked and everywhere nature is crawling back in. Even the construction cranes from 1974 are still there, together with shop signs, swimming pools, etc. Just held there like the Marie Celeste. Then, a few month back, a small part was opened again for visitors – under military surveillance though:

 

 

 

Lots of Pool activity from me:

 

 

 

Where I am staying:

 

 

 

But, a day’s work – examining and speaking with research students of the Cyprus International University:

 

 

 

 

Mosques also everywhere as part of the Islamitisation of Cyprus:

 

 

 

Some churches, in this case the Cathedral of Famagusta, have been converted into a mosque:

 

 

We go off track to hunt down an isolated monastery – a 700 year tree outside and still with the vestiges of wall paintings:

 

 

 

 

 

And, an exciting Boat trip in front of the Ghost town I referred to above:

 

 

Also, discover an old Knights Templar Church in Famagusta:

 

 

Then, a long trip to the Eastern most part of Cyprus. Donkeys on the way there had learnt how to stop traffic and ask for food.

 

 

 

There is then a monastery to the Apostle Saint Andrew. It is said that he was shipwrecked there. When he came ashore, he struck his staff into the ground and fresh water came for the.  And still does – I drank some.

 

 

 

Then the furthest East Point: Lands End. Marked by a carving:

 

 

 

Then, a magnificent Sculpture Park. I had never seen such a concentration of contemporary sculpture:

 

 

 

 

 

Then final days on my trip:

 

 

 

 

All the while reading Lindsay Clarke’s extraordinary The Water Theatre:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August, 2023

 

Well, after the sun of June, July has been a damp squib. This picture sums it up:

 

 

 

 

 

So, in keeping with memories of summers in England and the place I usually spent them as a child, a small photo gallery of my ancestral home – Mousehole. These photos take us on a 100 + journey: 1896, 1926, 1932, 1934, 1037, 1940, 1964, 1952, 1970, 2023:

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More internal photos another time.

 

For the moment, see the way it has changed from a living community to pretty much a holiday village.

I always felt it lost its soul when they removed the harbour crane – “for safety reasons”. It used to lower the baulk heads down to close the harbor mouth in the winter.

Mousehole became the focus for a child’s illustrated book and then cartoon – but its commercialization began long before that:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlIC69CIJ00

 

 

Lots of Guitar Craft activity and then a work day. The Spanish translation of my brief Introduction to the practice of GC – with the famous and original musician/ composer Ugo Adam:

 

 

 

 

 

His home, with the La Plata team sheltering from Winter. Bambina the dog – feline love.

 

 

 

 

Back home and driving around Bath – notice those clouds!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My article on William Blake, John Cowper Powys and Gnosticism finally was published in the Powys Journal. This is a version of a talk I gave to the Powys Society in August 2022. They said they had never heard anything like it. I took that as a compliment. Really, it is an expansive gloss on 40 years of study.

 

 

 

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/the-powys-review-2023-xxxiii/

 

 

Also some introspective reading.

 

 

Firstly, an original love of mine, Hermann Hesse and his three short stories of characters led by their hearts and the possible consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

Then a lovely book about the way composers have used Bird song on their compositions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most obvious example from another love, Delius:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdjK-k509XM

 

 

 

Lots of various music this month, but coming back again and again to the muse of Andy Salvanos. I met him in Adelaide High Street one day and we talked guitars and things. He is a devotee to ‘the Stick’ – a very demanding instrument. One thing I know, once anyone falls for this instrument, there is no way back!!

 

 

https://andysalvanos.com

 

 

 

 

July, 2023

 

 

Summer advances.

 

 

 

 

Seemingly as fast as this poppy loses its petals, we are into the second part of the year. I get up at take a photo through my window at the midsummer point:

 

 

 

But, summer is good in England and there are lots to do!!

 

 

I take a trip to Arundel to see one who I think is probably the best contemporary singer-song-writer in the UK, M G Boulter:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgmaWzWCW_o

 

 

Fascinatingly, for me, he takes his hometown in Southend as a theme for ‘Clifftown’, the title of his last CD: songs of English seaside places out of season.

 

 

 

 

The gig is scheduled for the Victoria Institute. I make off early only to arrive in a building with all the characteristics of the Marie Celeste! Not a soul in sight.  One advantage is that Matt arrives around the same time and we strike up an instant connection.

 

 

Great show with beautiful songs – I recommend. We resolve to meet up again to continue the conversation.

 

 

Contemporary art in Salisbury Cathedral. Churches and Cathedrals have a habit these days of doing summer exhibitions: I love it. This one on the Theme of Freedom in a place with a copy of the Magna Carta.

 

 

 

 

 

Musica en Moviemiento kicked off its latest AAD: Assimilation and Application. 36 names on the list and an excellent Inaugural:

 

 

 

 

These are a sample of the guys suffering for their work!!!

 

 

 

 

My Brief Introduction to Guitar Craft for Pomera Press – just 23-signed copies – sold out. Although it is available as an E-book:

https://www.pomera.co.uk/product/guitar-craft/

 

 

Amazingly – to me – a Spanish copy has also been produced: thanks to Pablo Mandel and Pablo Ferraioli:

https://www.pomera.co.uk/product/guitar-craft-breve-introduccion-a-la-practica/

 

 

20 copies of this also sold out although an E-nook is available.

 

 

I have been preparing a text for Pomera on Blake and Gnosticism.

 

 

It looks to unpack and explore such images as:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some relevant images from Blake by association:

 

 

By coincidence, I also find an old edition of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

 

 

 

Off to London – for the first time since the pandemic!!!!

 

 

I take in the concert by Peter Gabriel. Of course, a great visual show but less ‘circus’ than the past. A few favourites but 11 new songs from the i/o album he has been releasing song by song at the time of each Full Moon this year. The first new songs for some 20 years (barring an occasional commission). Peter is in introspective mood and a contemporary artist highlighted each piece. The themes covered many of the pressing issues of the conjuncture.

 

 

 

But, in this day of mass communication, you can hear the concert yourself – in its entirety:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNsfDVHKhAE

 

 

 

Onto the Globe – a full size reproduction of Shakespeare’s theatre on the South Bank in London – for a production of Comedy of Errors. Light and funny maybe, but some research showed the text was not just about mistaken identity and romance, but actually commerce: the point in time when everything became commodified/ capitalized. This implied and entire different relationship between objects and the subject – honour and time. From now on, everything would have monetary value – even cultural capital – a calculating ethos of surplus value. Basically, something for nothing. No wonder we are in a mess.

 

 

Then, off to the Tate to see the exhibition on Hilma af Klimt: a fascinating ‘spiritual’ painter from the end of C19 and beginning of C20. Actually, I have seen her work before but it is no less bewildering this time – and clearly had a definite vernacular for her. She was part of a female, spiritualist group I was looking to research: including Georgiana Houghton, Klimt, Ithell Colquhoun, Leonora Carrington – and perhaps Dorothea Tanning. That project is in the ‘to do’ drawer.

 

 

 

The curator mixed the expo with Piet Mondrian: not terribly successfully in my view!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been reading Bourdieu on Democracy: a topic often quoted – ‘the will of the people’ etc. – but seldom understood.

 

 

 

I have also been advancing my Enneagram knowledge with the latest from Anthony Hodgson:

 

 

 

Two books of Journals from the English author John Fowles (1926-2005). He was a very successful writer in the 1960, with a series of best sellers. Probably, his most enigmatic book was The Magus. However, The French Lieutenant’s Woman is by far his best. Here, it sets a contemporary existential story in Victorians times: how social impulses and personal decisions are intertwined. He does this through a series of literary devices, like having different endings, to show the consequences of decision and how, on occasion, a whole new world rests of it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Fowles

 

 

 

 

 

In the Journals – kind of Confessions – Fowles comes over as depressive and techy, although he was a warmer man personally than is often portrayed here. His Journals also give a fair account both of the history of the times and the literary generation of this post-war epoch.

 

For summer listening I have been listening to Andy Fairweather Low. Those who only know him for this….

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foTwWg1CyWU

 

….are in for a treat (excellent pop from the 60s though this was). And, his later work is a fine crafted mixture of jazz, blues, skiffle, etc.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGddmAjDPxY&list=OLAK5uy_nUKP-zzEd8vga8teAWOvRjxmggb0yW29I&index=2

 

 

 

The summer:

 

 

 

 

Metanoia still haunts this year:

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/bourdieus-metanoia-book-genesis/

‘In Classical Greek, metanoia meant changing one’s mind about something or Someone. When personified, Metanoia was depicted as a shadowy goddess, cloaked and sorrowful, who accompanied Kairos, the god of Opportunity, sowing regret and inspiring repentance for the ‘missed moment’. This conventional portrayal continued through the Renaissance. The elements of repentance, regret, reflection and transformation are always present in the concept of metanoia to some degree…’’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2023

 

 

May/ June tend to be my favourite time of year: there is so much energy around in these months – flowers blooming, birds nest-building and singing, fresh spring green, long light evenings.

 

 

 

Some signs of life around and about here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my garden, the poppies come out: they are literally ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ – and when they stop flowering, one waits a further year for them to come again!!!

 

 

I also make it to Cornwall. Great sunsets at Lands End:

 

 

 

 

I do a tour of some pre-historic sites:

 

Courtyard round houses – about 2000 years old:

 

 

 

 

Barrows and standing stones – about 3500 years old:

 

 

 

 

Quoits – the oldest of the lot – 5000 years old.

 

 

 

 

Curiously, we know almost nothing of the cultures, which gave rise to these constructions – save some seem to be on Moon/ Sun/ Season orientations. One must remember the sky was very intimate to them – they did not know that stars were billions of light years away. One might also think that they had better things to do than heap huge stones into such constructions – like living and eating – but apparently not. These things were important to them.

 

Beautiful Spring flowers everywhere:

 

 

 

 

I also visit the Lizard – the most southerly place in England – amazing colours here. 

 

 

 

 

There is a exhibition at the Penlee of Lamorna artists: and not the usual Lamorna Birch, Law, etc. paintings. For example, Marlow Moss (a fascinating painter) and Ithell Colquhoun:

 

– check out my article about the latter:

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/ithell-colquhoun-painter-surrealist-feminist-magician/

 

 

Some nice craft jewelleries from Ella Napier – a significant figure in the community:

 

 

A visit to my home village of Mousehole, of course:

 

 

 

IMG_8875

 

Finally, some more beautiful views in one of my favourite places – Gwithian:

 

 

 

 

The beginning of the month saw the Coronation of the new monarch: King Charles III:

 

 

 

 

Quite a sight. I was not particularly interested, but then began watching and was absorbed. One notices all sorts of things that were not anticipated: like the only time Charles smiled was when the Gospel group sang.

I am not a monarchist. But, there seems a curious logic in having a Crown who both has ultimate power and no power. This is where logic breaks down: in theory, an elected president would be preferable, but the latter do not have a great reputation – many autocratic and dictatorial presidents in the world. Almost as if we are not yet developed enough to accept the responsibility of democracy.

 

 

 

Very good new production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing on National Theatre at home:

 

 

 

 

I have been reading On the Origen of Time : by Thomas Hertog. An amazing account ‘the history of time’. Hertog worked with Stephen Hawkings and presents their latest thinking before the latter died. Curious concepts: the universe began minutely small and fantastically hot. There was no ‘beginning’ as such since time and space were the same. After the beginning the universe expanded fast but then slowed down and then expanded fast again. No-one knows why it slowed down but the cosmoses we know – including the earth’s – would not exist if it had not. One would think something projected out would slow down but actually the universe is expanding fast. But, it is space that is expanding not the speed of the objects in it!! Time as we experience it does not exist.

 

 

 

 

Music from Jasdeep Singh Degun:

 

 

 

I do not normally like ‘fusion music’, but this collaboration between a classical Indian sitar player and a group of classical musicians is very good:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p-FSO7-e8s

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Special

 

 

Lots of literary works and postings this month:

 

 

 

Guitar Craft Book

 

My Deluxe version of the GC was published. Just 23 signed and numbered copies : almost all are now sold.

 

 

This book was a venture of the Pomera Press project I have been involved with:

 

https://www.pomera.co.uk

 

 

The idea is to work outside of the commercial mainstream. After 25 books with commercial publishers, I have a need to work according to my own values. One of those is transparency. In this interests of this, I can say that production costs for this book were 3500 GBP and income was 1500. So, the challenge is how to be ‘non-profit’ without being a ‘charity’?

 

 

 

Conformist/ Non-Conformist Reponses to the Crisis in French Catholicism

 

 

 

I have always been interested in the way ideas shape society and are shaped by it.

 

Here is my study of the way French intellectuals responded to the ‘crisis’ in French Catholicism. France was always an avowedly Catholic country, partly as a result of its traditional, rural population.

 

However, from the C18 and C19 centuries, there was creeping, and then accelerating, secularization – what they called ’dechristianisation’. Invariably, this went with urbanization: the move from country to town and the destruction of traditional social structures, and with this beliefs.

 

This study sets out the situation; tracks the response of the Church to it – in the form of a series of ‘missions’ and Christian groups, and then the so-called ‘non-conformists’ of the 1930s. The latter responded both to the processes of secularization and what to do about it, and also flirted with alternatives to American Capitalism: Communism and Fascism.

 

Many projected a position of ‘Ni droite, ni gauche’, politically (neither right, nor left’. They were also ‘revolutionary’ – but of the spirit. A common theme was ‘ L’épanouissement de la personne’ – literally, ‘the blossoming of the person’ – or soul. How to bring this about through a range of social movements is also included in the study – like the ‘Peuple et Culture’ group who set about  developing a series of adult education (educationpermanente) groups to develop the cultural dimensions of French citizens (reading, photography, tourism, art, music, etc.) These were the precursors of the ‘Maisons de la Culture’ of the early 5th Republic.

 

There is also an account of the “Prêtres ouvriers’, where ‘worker priests were employed in factories to animate religious aspects of work life; offering Mass during the lunch breaks, etc.

 

See here:  http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/intellectual-response-the-crisis-in-french-catholicism/

 

See also chapters 3 and 4 of my book: Bourdieu’s Metanoia (2023 Routledge).

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/metanoia-and-bourdieu/

 

 

 

 

The Linguistic Corpus of Orléans: A Bourdieusian Analysis

 

 

In memory with gratitude to my friend and mentor Michel Blanc

 

 

I began my studies in Applied Linguistics with little or no intention to continue my work with the social philosophy of Pierre Bourdieu. However, it once again became immediately obvious that Bourdieu’s thinking about language was so much ahead of what was taken as orthodox linguistic study. His critique of Chomskyan transformational grammar was a case in point: a theory in search of a practice, or the study of something that simply did not exist. More on all this here:

 

 

 

 

Which is how I was confronted with a cupboard with hundreds of real-to-reel tapes in it at the University of London. They originated from a Sociolinguistic corpus that had been collected in Orléans, France in 1969. This had been a major undertaking, supported by large amounts of State sponsorship. The planning team had included Bourdieu and my then lecturer and mentor Michel Blanc. Various questionnaires (Sociolinguistic, Open-ended, and Close-ended) had been administered to a sample of 600 of the Orléans populace, of which 147 were finally also interviewed and recorded. The sample included individuals from across socio-economic categories, from manual and service workers industrial and commercial executives.  But, then, the recordings, etc. had more or less been left…

 

 

Details of my study are set out in the extracts that follow. There are many academic issues about the theory and practice of language, its variability, what is legitimate language within one context and another, and how social provenance affects all this. These are explored in the text from a Bourdieusian perspective.

 

 

I worked with a smaller sample of the corpus – about 20 individuals. My approach was first to analyse their responses to the sociolinguistic questionnaire: what they thought about ‘good’ speech, the use of dictionaries and fountain pens, who spoke best in the neighbourhood, etc. But, I also undertook various analyses of their actual language use: incidents of elisions and liaisons in their speech, syntax, cohesion and semantic formulations, etc. There was also some correlation across these various studies.

 

It was fascinating listening to what they had to say. The ‘events’ of Mai 1968 were only a year passed and they had all had plenty to say about them. One could also grasp a whole different relationship to language – say between a rich manual worker made good and a secretary. In this way, it was possible to show that language use does not always correlate with economic capital – cultural capital was the main influencing factor! Luckily, Michel had already done some work with another mentor of mine – Alex Mullineaux – in combining occupational and educational capital within the corpus. I used their work.

 

At one point, the respondents were asked how you make an omelet: theory, practice, and language.  I actually recorded these extracts and was intending to do a PhD on a study of the sociolinguistic variation within  – but that is a story……

 

I was lucky enough to be able to speak to Bourdieu about this work both as it was proceeding and the final results I came up with. At the time it was a unique study – left, like so many others – underdeveloped. The study was very labour intensive. I spent hours and hours listening to tapes, rewinding, listening again, transcribing, with a counter in hand. As Bourdieu often said to me, working with empirical data with his approach was ‘très coûteux’, Indeed!!!

 

I set my work against the whole sociolinguistic versus social psychology debate; also sociology of language itself; and writers exploring the ‘symbolic value of language’ (the original title of the research) – Sankoff, Thibaut, etc.

 

See here: http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/the-linguistic-corpus-of-orleans-a-bourdieusian-analysis/

 

 

 

 

 

The Notebook of Kathryn Hulme

 

Kathryn Hulme (1990 – 1981) was an American novelist. She is best known for writing The Nun’s Story. However, she was also a student of Gurdjieff and a member of The Rope – the all-female Movements Group based in Paris.

 

 

 

 

I came across her Notebook on Gurdjieff’s ideas, which make for interesting reading:

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/notes-on-the-teachings-of-gurdjieff-kathryn-hulme/