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I write a monthly blog to cover the things I have been involved with, events, and the sorts of things that have passed my way: art, music, theatre, books, etc. It has also evolved into a diary of the changing seasons…



What has been happening in my corner of the globe!

August, 2021

Did I say, here in my part of the globe, we seemed to have jumped from a dodgy spring into an early autumn – missing out the summer in between/ A spider in my bath in June, and ferns in the forest turning yellow! Lammas yesterday – the first stirrings of the darkness:

 

 

 

 

So, very hot – 35 in my garden – for a few days: but, LOTS of rain and clouds.

 

 

Following up from last month – a lovely – and rare! Photo of Mousehole Cave/ Many associated experiences, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last month, we have done six – yes, SIX – Musica en Moviemiento guitar workshop days: https://musicaenmovimiento.com

 

Amazing what is possible these days with ZOOM. We even manage to play music together – and silence too.

Mind you, this takes extraordinary tenacity sometimes.

Here with a micro meeting – with me represented by I-Phone on a chair. That is me and my view….. Still an extra ordinary day/ meeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, incidences of Kitchen Craft to an amazing level. This is what the Salta team produced:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me at home continues to broaden a range of cuisines and dishes. How to turn this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A kind of take on the Greek Gigantes.

 

 

Some art: the amazing work of Nicholas Roerich:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also plays from the National Theatre: Yerma and A View from a Bridge.  Both excellent, if both somewhat about the mental breakdown of an individual. Still, it reminded me how good contemporary theatre can be. The latter, in particular, by Arthur Miller, is a Masterclass in dramatic dialogue. Every sentence laden and open to reflection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, following up last month, I have been reading the final book publication of one of my favourite authors: Barry Lopez:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this book, he writes of various experiences in nature but, by doing so, manages to express our entire relationship to life and the world – indeed, what it is to be human and alive. An extraordinary read. Needless to say, he is/ was concerned: ‘What is going to happen to us?’, he asks at one point. Indeed…..

 

 

 

Sometimes, only one thing will do…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it is summer…….!

July, 2021

 

 

 

June was the month of mid-summer. Still, in England, it was the usual white/grey skies and rain!!

 

But, nature carries on. The birds have stopped singing now and their chicks are growing and fledging.

 

 

Flowers aglow in the garden and meadows:

 

   

 

 

 

Bees busy on flowers in my garden.

 

   

 

 

 

And, some spectacular sunsets and sunrises:

 

 

 

 

I escape to Cornwall for a few days and almost avoid the tourists and the G7 summit in Carbis Bay. Cliff walks and favourite prehistoric  landmarks:

 

   

 

 

   

 

I also join a group to study sun/ moon/ star alignments for various menhirs and stone circles:

 

   

 

 

 

Cornish hedgerows are alive with wild flowers.

 

   

 

 

 

In my garden, these little fellows pay a visit:

 

   

 

 

 

I also escape to Chesil beach and draw patterns with the beach pebbles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back home and I begin a new course on martial art self-defense: Wing Chun. Apparently, it was invented by Chinese women for self protection. It is therefore more close to the body work and hand based:

 

 

 

 

I had not seen it reported but I learn that one of my favourite writers Barry Lopez – had died – on Christmas day 2020:

 

   

 

 

 

 

Dusk

 

Horizon fades from blue to black

with infinite tenderness

tonight. Yet even at full dusk a smear

of cobalt rings the tree line. Maybe

endless love await us. I know you believed

so, even as forests and rivers turned to fire,

libraries to ash. Now that you’re not here

to tend them, I see the lamps you lit for us.

Sometimes it is important to see the darkness,

you would say, to regard one another other,

and our trembling. Or on other nights, like

now: we must look up. How is this same

moon in my sky hanging over you these

small hours? Do you feel its comforts?

As you sleep through the final stretch

how badly I want you to know we have

the torches now, my friend, we’ll protect the flame,

while you are free to be the wind again.

 

 

 

 

On the artist – writer, musician, painter, poet, sculptor, craftsperson – Krishnamurti nails it:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jarO1gyefWI

 

 

Then words from Bhagavan Ramana later:

 

 

 

 

 

I also visit ‘the Refus Stone’. Oddly people travel to the New Forest especially to see it. However, even though I have lived here for about 30 years, and it is only about 5 miles from where I live, I had not visited it before.

 

 

 

 

Refus – 1200s – turns out to be a ‘bad man’ – and it is not really certain that this is indeed the spot where he was ‘accidentally’ killed by an arrow glancing off of a stag. Fun but underwhelming.

 

 

 

I watched Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Good – an early play about mixed up twins and mistaken identities. Very good.

 

 

 

Also, the amazing Samsara: a film of photography depicting time, circles/ circuits, nature, life, etc.

 

 

 

 

Book and CD wise, it is not often that a book changes the way we think. This one did for me.

 

 

 

 

I find myself ‘grooving’ to summer sounds – African, South American, Mediterranean French. So, what better than Georges Moustaki:

 

 

 

 

 

Then the first European Salif Keita record:

 

 

 

 

This was an early example of what happened when the digital studio guys in Paris got hold of African stars such as Keita, Baaba Maal, Yousou N’Dour, Thomas Mapfumo, etc.

 

Ah, I remember it well: 1987, I was just getting into what became known as ‘Global’ music – which basically means anywhere. WOMAD (https://womad.co.uk) had just found its best festival site in Reading. Everything seemed possible. Little did I know that, after some years teaching French and German in a secondary school in London, my life was about to irrevocably change:

 

 

 

On the music front, great to see Andy Kershaw again producing radio shows – now as a pod cast:

 

 

 

https://andykershaw.co.uk/category/podcast/

 

The very best in global sounds!!!

 

 

June, 2021

 

 

 

 

A very late spring in England!

Nature continues its course, of course.

The month began with ‘Bird Song Day’: time to get up at 03.00 in order to listen to the Dawn chorus. I was rewarded with a beautiful sunrise preceded by fine bird song:

 

 

 

 

Basically, bird song has two messages: comes and have sex with me; get away from my territory. Life is simpler in the natural world; basically, humans have the same messages but disguise them with all sorts of cultural coverings. In terms of birds, the female chooses the male with the loudest song, so they are singing for all they are worth. If you listen carefully, there is a cuckoo on the background here. Makes me think of that famous piece of music by Delius – On hearing the first cuckoo in spring!

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xHIhcstxUM

 

 

 

Beautiful!

 

 

Trees in the forest also produced that lovely spring green that only lasts for a while:

 

                   

 

 

                 

 

 

Soon after, however, the clouds arrived and pretty much did not leave for the month – it turned out to be the wettest May on record!! Stormy winds even blew over hear pots near my house.

 

 

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

All this drove me indoors. Some more cooking experiments. A creamy, asparagus dish since that plant is now in season.

 

 

 

 

With the lockdown, some of the restaurants have tried ‘cook at home’ boxes. I ordered one to see how that would go. Quite nice, but a good example of the skills of culinary photography. Mine and their version:

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

Struck down by wind and rain, I also had recourse to my collection of DVDs. The basic rule is that I do not like any film after around 1974 (there are a few exceptions!!). So, one wet and windy weekend found me viewing a couple of Stanley Kubrick classics: Dr Strangelove and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

The first of these is a funny farce about what happens when an American General goes mad and orders the American nuclear bomb stock on the Soviet Union with no chance of recall. A brilliant account of the absurdity of the situation: like the general being obsessed with ‘precious bodily fluids’ and fluoride (Quite an interesting early version of ‘conspiracy theories’).

Peter Sellers plays four parts: one being the US President. Apparently, he improvised much of the script. A classic line, when another American General is scrapping with the Soviet ambassador, is, ‘Gentlemen, I will not have fighting in the war room’. Interesting, also, to see this film in terms of the creative process: it started out being completely different and evolved according to creative insight and necessity. Each of Kubrick’s films is unique and very different. They are all brilliant in their own way: only one – Paths of Glory – I find impossible to watch – one of the saddest films I have ever seen.

 

     

 

 

 

I remember when 2001 came out and, then, it seemed perfectly possible that we would be living like that at the end of the century – when of course, it is nothing like it. A very enigmatic film with a single strand running through it – much debated and misunderstood – like, what is the black monolith? Of course, Kubrick said things to send people off-course and even demanded his archive notes and outtake filming be destroyed so as not to give the game away. Actually, the key ideas are obvious. Firstly, the black monolith gives the man-apes consciousness by invoking ‘the other’ – this carries across the film. Secondly, the first thing the man-apes do with nascent intelligence is kill another. This is true of HAL as well: the onboard computer who terminates the lives of all the astronauts in suspended animation. Why? The stress of cognitive dissonance when he has to lie makes him paranoid; so, he makes a ‘rational’ decision, which is not rational – just like human beings. In this, he is ‘right’ that the computer’s mistake was due to ‘human error’ – just not one seen as such. Finally, the scene in ‘the hotel’. The key concept here is we are what we observe; we are where are attention is. In the film this is demonstrated in time and space. The broken glass is an ‘accident’ – or ‘shock’ – a sure way to get us to take notice (conscious energy). The final scene is ‘cosmic consciousness’, of course. Again, interesting to see how the film started out being something completely different, and the creativity that arose in making it the masterpiece it is came from taking out as much as adding – and paying attention to the unexpected!!

 

 

 

A new Eileen Agar exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. When Read and Penrose knocked on her studio door and asked her to join the 1936 first surrealist exhibition in London, she declared ‘I am not a surrealist’. They replied, ‘well, you are now!’, and she did exhibit, although she thereafter struggled to distance herself from that movement. True, her work is more than that – and endlessly inventive and interesting. It made me think about Ithell Colquhoun who I have been researching, but fared much less well – dying poor, ill and in obscurity.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/art/ithel-colquhoun-painter-and-magician/

 

 

 

 

IC has been appropriated by two constituencies in contemporary times: the feminist surrealists (‘recovering’ female voices) and the whole earth goddess/ esoteric groups. For me, ‘by overstating her achievement, they understand it’.  Still, Agar became and remained well known and successful through her life.

 

 

 

Bookwise, I have been enjoying Carlo Rovelli’s account of quantum mechanics – Helgoland:

 

 

 

 

 

Also, the biography of the French post-modernist Jacques Derrida:

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, postmodernism is and always was ‘reactionary and dangerous’. A indulgent approach to using philosophy to destroy philosophy by using philosophy; thus, wanting the benefits of being both in and outside of the field by denying its socio-structural conditions of the production of the conditions of its provenance abnd production.

 

 

 

Music-wise, some lovely singing from Moniker Kaur who offers a range of songs from the Sikh community. As I say, some beautiful singing, although I do not always get, these days, the need to give everything a dreamy, digital wash. Would much prefer traditional instruments. It’s like I never feel enthusiastic about ‘fusion’ music – individual traditions are much too rich to be ‘watered down’ and diluted by another one, in my view.

 

 

 

 

 

And, then, something completely different: Godspeed you! Black Emperor.  I originally bought a CD of their music on the basis of their name alone; figuring that anyone with the pretension to come up with such a title must be interesting (other favourite band titles are: Half-Man Half-Biscuit, Throbbing Gristle, and Gaye Bykers of Acid. So, so they were/ are in a full-throttle proggy sort of way. Perhaps such posture cannot be maintained and the new CD – AND STATES END – is good whilst perhaps not reaching the apogee of their style. Highly enjoyable, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

We move into April – a month of cold – even snow – and warm days. Spring is advanced now and the birds and animals are busy.

 

 

Some walking and the contrasting skies and branches:

 

 

 

 

 

 

But, in my garden, the next flowers appear: Apple blossom and the Rosemary flowers (delicate blue).

 

   

 

 

 

Lots of nice bright Dandelions in my garden too so I make fritters with them and Wild Garlic which is also alive and kicking this time of year:

 

 

   

 

 

 

It has been a month of talks and symposia: Like the London Textile Fashion Museum. Another on how to make Soul Dough Bread. We seem to have reverted to be being home bound – everything comes to us. Like plays: this month’s viewing from the National Theatre was Julie – a modern re-write of Strindberg’s ‘Miss Julie’:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It did not really work. While Strindberg’s ephemeral and somewhat drenched in C19 decadence, the Julie in this version just came over as a spoilt brat. Sad, really, because the acting by the entire cast was first rate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Busy with my Tai Chi: we complete the 32 Posture form very soon now. I love doing Tai Chi and Chi Gong:

 

 

 

 

There has been some relaxation of the Lockdown: not that it affects me much, but the Brits react in a characteristic manner!:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some philosophical issues to investigate relating to the relationship between the particularity and the Whole ( pace Goethe):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, been working my way through Ramana Maharishi’s Forty Verses . Amazing expression of the potential of human consciousness and its implications:

 

 

 

 

 

The other book I have been working through is Jennifer Rampling’s scholarly account of the rise of Alchemy in Britain between the C13 and C17 – a revealing text indeed, which sets the scene for understanding why we think the way we do – by what was included and excluded in modern ways of interacting with the world:

 

 

 

 

 

Also, Edgar Morin’s reflections:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The man is now 100 years old and has always been there: his account refers to the 1930s, the Second World War, the Resistance (he was an active member), and the history of post war France. He knew everyone!!!!

He made me smile: he said he met Bourdieu who was warm to him but then attacked him at the conference. I think the difference is that Bourdieu had an epistemological vision that he developed in a range of subject contexts, whilst Morin developed a different view of everything he considered. A prolific writer and TV intellectual. Just the sort Bourdieu detested but his reflections of the change in France are both personal and invoke the spirit of the times.

 

 

Lots and lots of music and from some unusual sources. First, I discover the lovely Catalonian music of Marina Rossell – certainly something to get one in the sunny mood:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then some lovely pieces from the Armenian musician Art Tuncboyaciyan:

 

 

 

 

As a follow-up to our work on the MeM AAD course, this from friend and associate Ugo Adam produced with band members – also friends and associates. Stunning stuff.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

The month was just coming to a close when a collaboration between Real World Records and the Music Department of the University of Oxford offered a Sensoround play back of a recording of the great Pakistani Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Known as the best Qawwali singer ever!!

The recording was from a WOMAD festival performance in Mersea Island in 1985 – and I was there!!! Hmmmm? 36 years ago!!!! And, what has changed since?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, Khan passed away some years back, but here is a sample of what one can expect from the CD of the same performance:

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KhGnR5C-N4

 

 

 

 

 

April, 2021

We enter March and leave in April.

 

 

 

Spring signs a welcome indication of lighter days to come. Crocuses are amongst the earliest to appear in my garden and then a stronger lighter towards the forest:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have begun a new course of Tai Chi: a form that I have not done before but where many of the individual elements are familiar.  My teacher – English name Michael – begins with warm-up and then Qi Cong:

 

 

 

 

Just been reading a new biography of William Blake:

 

 

 

 

There are lots of biographies, and still more books which offer various angles on Blake: Jung, Gender, Freud, Political, Qabalah – not to mention my own Gnostic:

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/literature/blake-and-gnosis/

 

This one by Jason Whittaker is a sober and fair account of the life and works of…Of course, almost an impossible task: so little is known about the truth of his life and his works still defy ‘translation’. That being said, the author here clearly loves the man and his art, and his is a fairly accurate picture. It errs on the side of conventionality, and an early danger sign is his enthusiastic appropriation of the first substantive biography of Blake in the 1860s by Gilchrist: much of which is second or third hand accounts – now quoted as ‘truth’ – from individuals who knew people who knew people….a lot of it smacks of mid-Victorian romanticism, sadly. Nevertheless, Whittaker does not get too carried away: but there are many omissions – Bronowsky, Wilson, etc. The accounts of the prophecies are also sketchy in the extreme. Nevertheless, the book is well illustrated and offers a good Introduction to this artist/ poet – with nice graphics to match.

 

 

 

More on the Culture front, ‘Thursday Night is Culture Night’ here at home. Amongst this month’s highlights has been Citizen Kane: Orson Welles’ incredible first film from the 1940s.

 

 

 

This movie was seminal in several regards: the whole concept of time and trans-narrative; and every shot is a study piece in cinematic photography. Of course, it begins with those last enigmatic words of Kane – “Rosebud”. Who was she? What was her significance in Kane’s life? Also, it contains that scene where Bernstein – one of Kane’s editors – tells the story of the girl on the Jersey Ferry. How Ralph McTell utilizes this story in his own song begins my book on him: Parallel Lives: the Biographies of Ralph McTell.   

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/music-n/parallel-lives-the-biographies-of-ralph-mctell-preface-content-to-the-second-edition/

Oddly, Welles’ life went pretty much downhill after this film, indeed, the story it depicts in some ways ‘paralleled’ his own life – paradoxical.

 

 

 

Then, a new translation of Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard:

 

 

 

 

Very good, of course. However, one of the invisible characters in this play is time itself, and the Chekov world tends to be elegiac. But, the translation here is very modern so the subtlety is somewhat lost. Still, great performance, of course, from Zoe Wannamaker.

 

 

 

Super interesting interview with Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare at the Whitechapel Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of new produce, so some nice recipes: a cauliflower bake, and then sea bass done Chinese style:

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month also saw the Completion of the Musica en Moviemiento At-A-Distance course:

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were 30 on the list but we were around 20 at the final meeting – the others were guests, instructors, etc. Quite something: at 6 months, probably the longest GC course – ever! I remember doing a Level 4 course over one year where I wrote weekly themes, but that was in conjunction with a residential context. The MeM course was 100% AAD. Quite intense with almost daily small group work and monthly whole-group meetings: guitar, Themes, Morning exercises, Tai Chi, Qi Cong, Feldenkreis, Kitchen Craft, Pranayama, as well as professional support and recording challenges. What now??

 

 

 

Lots of reading this months. Amongst which, two significant accounts of the lying and ineptitude of the current British government and our charlatan Prime Minister. One wonders how it got to this? Actually, we know…..what to do about it is another question as a significant percentage of the voting population have allowed themselves to be duped!!!!  

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

Hey ho!  To cheer myself up, I have been saturating myself with West African Kora music:

 

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPsvNN2iIrQ

 

 

 

Then, there is always more spring:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March, 2021

 

 

They say that February can be a wicked month. In the event, it proved so-so – but definitely temperamental. A mixture of everything of a bit of sun – LOTS – of rain, and then an icy spell towards the end.

 

 

But, nature knows better than that and Imbolg, Candlemass, or St Brigid’s Day came along around the 2ndFebruary, to duly signify that ‘the light’ was indeed growing. The skies in the morning were a celebration:

 

   

 

 

Also the birds and animals know it: lots of twitterings in the garden with a view to staking a territorial claim. Even, the local Tom cat seem to decide it was time to take a patrol of set feline boundaries.

 

 

 

A kind of quiet month with the pandemic lockdown dragging a bit. Although still very busy with various.

 

 

 

A Musica en Moviemiento event and a Kitchen Craft challenge to prepare tapas and a dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, Shrove Tuesday, so a good excuse to make pancakes by another name:

 

 

 

 

 

Culture wise, one of the standout pieces was Adam Curtis’ Can’t Get You Out of Mm Head: an extraordinary watch of getting on 8 hours of film: available on BBC I-Player for a year if attainable where you are. Striking images and music (Robert Da Naja of Massive Attack was involved) and a strong narrative about the sorry state of the world. Much food for thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Also, some John Fahey activity: with Facebook, there is a real archiving thing going on turning up all manner of recordings, photos, reviews, publicity and the like. My own contribution – interview, performance recording, and publication is here: http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/john-fahey/

I really must write-up the day I spent with him – so much more than what I was able to get into the article.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also found myself doing quite a bit of work on the Enneagram: a topic that matures and comes more and more alive for me as the years go by:

 

 

 

 

 

CD wise, I very much enjoyed John Wilson’s recording of ‘English’ strings. He does not go for the obvious – Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Holst – but still missed opportunities. No Bernard Stevens, for example, so a great composer still overlooked.

I have Wilson’s equivalent with ‘French’ strings – I think I prefer that one! Being a Francophile….

 

 

 

 

I also very much enjoyed Francesco Corti’s Little Books: J S Bach. Nice to return to solo harpsichord music. Thankfully, recordings are now able to be in a way faithful to the tonality of this instrument. Before, it could be shrill, but is mellow now. 

 

 

 

The month’s reading has been dominated with Michel de Montaigne’s Essais – extraordinary homilies on all matter of life subjects: domestic, of love, politics, and life and death itself…

Lovely reading these again:

 

 

 

 

 

In a similar mood I went back to a favourite Catholic theologian – very important for me at one point, and his explorations of a kind of spiritual existentialism are always illuminating…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2021

 

 

 

January certainly lived up to its reputation: here, in the south of England, mostly grey and rain. That means not particularly cold. When I was a child, we would get at least 3 spells of snow in the Winter and they would last for 2 – 3 weeks, but not with climate change. Still, there were some days of cold and snow; here, where I live.

 

 

 

 

 

Good for walking out in the forest as well, where everything is asleep. Also, some good sunsets:

 

 

 

 

 

Interior work, then….

Some work on a piece I am doing on William Blake. So, here he is, Lucifer, Prince of Light, representing one form of evil; probably best illustrated in the Last Temptation of Christ. The lesson here is that when the devil passes by, he does not come dressed as the devil !!

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/literature/blake-and-gnosis/

 

 

 

 

 

At the other extreme, I am super happy to receive a new edition of Travail et Travailleurs en Algérie by my friend the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu. It has been out of print for some 30 years or more. This work from 1963 really shaped his life, both professionally and personally.

 

 

 

 

 

I am referring to it in my new book, which is entitled Metanoia. http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/metanoia-and-bourdieu/

 

 

 

Also, been consulting some water colour work by a favourite, Hermann Hesse. I love his innocence and simplicity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of reading of the month, this has been varied and broad. I watched the film of ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ – which really intrigued me. Apparently, it took Suzanna Clarke 14 years to write it: a kind of mixture of Jane Austin, Harry Potter, and Dr Who. What an intriguing world she creates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also read the beautiful prose of Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways – really a book about walking old paths. There is a clearly a tradition or this sort of thing: meditations of walking, life and the environment. One thinks of Edward Thomas, W H Hudson, Richards Jefferies and indeed Bruce Chatwin. Very good:

 

 

 

 

There are not many piece of classical music, I have more than one recording of. Of those that I do, most are of Bach’s music. So, a new recording of the Cello Suites is a must for me. This one by the young cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

 

 

 

 

 

She writes of ‘the intrinsic impossibility of this music is the very source of its freedom’.

 

So true…

 

Also, this statement made me think of playing Guitarist Craft Themes:

 

  • Can you play it/ have the notes?

 

  • Can you play it in time?

 

  • Can you play it in time and good tone?

 

  • Are you counting the rhythm and the bars

 

  • Are you playing it in accord with the Primaries: alternate picking, etc.?

 

  • Can you do all this whilst giving some attention to yourself?

 

  • Can you do all this, give some attention to yourself, and the audience?

 

  • Do you know the note you are playing in respect to all the other notes in the piece?

 

  • Can you do this whilst giving attention to the piece within the set list/ repertoire?

 

  • Can you do all this whilst giving attention to the place of this concert performance within the entire concert calendar?

 

  • Can you do all this whilst setting the concert calendar within the week?

 

  • Can you set the week within the month and the month within the year?

 

  • Can you set the year within your lifetime?

 

  • Can you set your lifetime within eternity and the universe?

 

  • Can you be aware of all this when you play a single note?

 

 

Well……It is the New Year, so a piece I recorded as a New Year song – Remember:

 

 

 

January, 2021

 

 

 

December and a suitably dark month.

 

 

 

I like it in the forest though. The light becomes very crystalline – silvers and greys.

 

 

   

 

 

 

Meanwhile, things are afoot in the country – the wild life knows that spring is around the corner; they are one season ahead of us:

 

 

IMG_8919

 

 

 

Sad times, the Covid virus comes and goes according to the degree of lockdown; we are about to enter another one. Meanwhile, the UK leaves the EU. A terrible mistake brought upon by lack of intelligence and education – and cowardice. And people not speaking up for what is right and wrong. The best reply to anyone who passes off cowardice as ‘open-mindedness’ is the old advice not to be so open-minded that your brains fall out. If you are with a political movement, employer, social network or partner that insists you let your brains fall out for the sake of a quiet life, run as fast as you can.

 

 

 

We have a MeM workshop day and I present Kitchen Craft. One of the challenges was to make a bowl of soup and present it. My effort:

 

 

 

 

We also played the Third Relation: quite something – 20+ guitarists spread out across the globe all playing together thanks to Zoom:

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Guitar Craft, my ‘Brief Introductory Guide to Practice’ is now with the printer/ graphic designer. More soon:

 

 

 

 

 

It being the time of relaxation, I have been reading a lot of popular fiction: whodunits and the like. Also, ready the Autobiography of John Cowper Powys. A extraordinary man with writings and way of life – as were his brothers Llewellyn and Theodore. I am down to give a talk about JCP and Blake in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

I also like reading social history of Britain – now a book about 1965 when I was but a child. Fascinating to learn more about what was going on at this time…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..a time led, of course, by The Beatles – culturally – so, good to embrace the comfort music of Paul McCartney and his latest – III. Like catching up with an old friend after a while and finding out what they have been up to. A great CD:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December, 2020

 

 

Hello December as the year now closes in:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November is what I call the ‘pit’ of the year; especially the last two weeks as the leaves fall and the rain rains.

 

     

 

A time a meteorological disturbance. Still, on fine days, I get out into the forest.

 

Sometimes the forest seems on fire:

 

   

 

 

Spectacular skies as well. Sunrise and sunset one day

 

   

 

 

A very large Beaver Moon in November: we are now looking for the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter on 21stDecember. The first time this has happened for about 800 years.

 

 

 

 

All this talk of rural-ity and the skies brings to mind special types of music for this time of year. Lord of the Rings by Bo Hansen, which has become a classic. It reeks of misty moors and things that live there. An evocative piece.

 

 

 

 

 

I have also been listening to some beautiful Georgian choir singing:

 

 

 

 

And, still into medieval polyphony:

 

 

 

 

 

It is reputedly a time of year when the veil between the material and spirit worlds is at its thinnest. It certainly feels that way in terms of dreams, premonitions, intuitions, etc.

I have been catching up on my pagan studies care of various writings from the Boscastle Witchcraft Museum Journal. Some very interesting accounts of the way we have negotiated with nature – both visible and invisible:

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhat continuing the mood of things unseen, I have also begun The Black Notebooks from C G Jung – an extraordinary account of one’s man’s exploration of his subconscious and what it may signify for us all:

 

 

 

 

 

I have also been reading the fragments of Heraclitus: simple lines loaded with ‘points of seeing’. One of the great tragedies of humankind is their amnesia. All this was known but then….’forgotten’.

 

 

 

 

 

A little light reading as well: popular thriller writer Robert Harris and his latest: The Second Sleep. It is based in 1468 when a young priest goes to administer the funeral rites of another priest who has just died in an accidental fall. He describes a medieval world of village life and the various characters – all very atmospheric. Then, the young priest is going through the office  and desk papers, etc. of the deceased. In one of the drawers, he comes across a small object about 2 inches by 5 inches. The front is made of glass and the back is a grey metal. However, inscribed into the metal back is an Apple with a bite taken out of it. What’s going on?…..quite….read on….

 

 

 

 

 

A little bit of artwork from me of my guitar for the forthcoming GC book publication:

 

 

 

 

 

I have also posted some new pieces concerning Bourdieu: one on his Metanoia – what is it? How do we do it?

The other on Bourdieu, language and literacy:

 

 

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

 

 

http://www.michaelgrenfell.co.uk/bourdieu-language-and-literacy/

 

 

 

So, as I write this on the second Sunday of Advent – two candles lit – I end with some words from Ronald Knox, which sum up the two sides of my relationship to this time of year: one Christian and one Pagan. They are both important, but I sense the Pagan one acutely as the year moves towards its completion and we look for birth of semtpi-eternal fire.  Also, me playing a Christmas carol – waiting, in expectation, for spirit to enter into us. 

 

‘Come, Holy Spirit, not with outward manifestations, not with tongues of fire, but silently, as the warmth of spring creeps into the barren earth: come into this cenacle of a human heart, and stir its dull airs with the breath of hope’.

 

 

 

 

Midnight Clear