Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Community chest.

It was thanks to Paul Prinsloo that I became familiar with the annotated image of the Monopoly board.

He used it in his brilliant presentation entitled:

Faculty as quantified, measured and tired: The lure of the red shoes.

Faculty as quantified, measured and tired: The lure of the red shoes.

Quantified, measured and tired.

It is taking more energy than I feel that I have to type this here.

A pop up notification appears on my phone:

"Congratulations: you have won an open badge for succesfully completing a course."

I feel no joy or achievement.

I feel only tired and demoralised.

I shan't ever wear those red shoes...

God be blessed (blasphemy). I suppose that is a mercy.

As a kid, I wasn't even seduced by brown shoes.

"We were never allowed brown shoes, only the privileged had them. We wore black army boots and gaiters on Thursday afternoons."


I count myself lucky to have shoes at all; others aren't so privileged.

Open badges and closed borders.

Yesterday, I conducted an English exam for a student who needed some sort of grade, any sort of institutional credit, to avoid expulsion from the country.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

A survival badge.

He started his university career with minus ten years of study of English compared with the French students.

He started his university career with minus ten years of practice of computer skills.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

A survival badge.

Community chest.

As I arrived at the university, I looked at the ongoing building work. It was for a spanking new research laboratory.  The occupation of the ex-library, once a potential space for an open learning centre, is a concrete demonstration of the power structure within the institution.

We had imagined a new pedagogical space.

Hours and hours of time invested...in praxis.

Does praxis make perfect?

Poor naive souls...

Pedagogy comes way down the list in terms of institutional priorities.

"Pedagogical project" vs "Research lab"?

There was no contest.

Shattered dreams of open community learning....

I shall get that off my chest.

Budget cuts...any budget cuts.

Rationalisation, financial control, personnel insecurity...personal strife.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

Bored room meetings.

I met a couple of bored students waiting around for an exam.

What were they waiting for?

The opportunity to gain a bit of credit to move onto the next square in this ludicrous game.

They know that they are not invited to the main board table.

The real games go on in "Grandes Ecoles", then in board rooms, or amongst the bankers.

The real winners don't need "badges" like us, they employ people to sort out pesky legal problems.

The real winners don't need to write blogs, they don't give a fuck about that, they own the platforms.

The real winners don't play games, they don't take prisoners, they have no qualms, they are killers.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

Not the banker?

I am a loser, I am not even winning at that.

I am a middling, meddling, signed up member of the mediocrity messing around in a sham meritocracy, piddling around in a sham democracy.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

The real losers, don't play games, they don't take prisoners, they have no qualms, they are killers.

Those real losers buy semi-automatic weapons from the real winners.

Oh, you can't blame the winners for over-estimating their importance.

Why be critical when you are winning the game?

You wouldn't want to question your good fortune for too long.

You're a great guy!

You're a tough guy!

You're a really mean guy!

Oh Bravo!

I listened to Piers Morgan speak on TV.

The devil's apprentice.

Devil's apprentice winner, Piers likes the sound of his winning (whining) voice.

Great guy!

Listening to Piers Morgan speak on TV about winning the ratings battle, crushing the competitors to his girly eye-brow raising, colluding, co-presenters and I feel an urgent need to vomit, to take several showers.

Oh isn't he a naughty boy!

Piers sounds like a fucking loser to me.

The real winners don't need to present morning TV, they don't give a fuck about that, they own the platforms.

Good morning Britain.

Good morning Vietnam.

Il est cinq heures, Paris se reveille...

On n' est pas couché...

Are you sure?

I am sure il a couché...ou elle.

Red shoes, brown shoes? Brown shirts...

Another mediocre privileged protofascist populist on French TV, channeling Trump, channeling Farage, channeling Orban spitting out vile.

Debout la France!

I feel an urgent need to vomit, to take several showers.

The real winners don't care about divisions created as a result of the air-time given to these bastards on their fucking platforms.

Civil wars win ratings battles.

Give them blood.

They'll have the bullets.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

Get out of jail! Free?

I wanted to be inspired by Sean Michael Morris's blog post that I read yesterday.

I read it.

I think of agency.

I feel tired, demoralised and measured in these words...

Oh agency...would that be like the drive for survival which brings people to get into boats to cross the Mediterrenean?

We need virtual exchanges to build up understanding between young people in Europe and those in the South Mediterrenean countries (Africa).

They say in the pamphlet.

"Congratulations, you have won an open badge for successfully completing a course."

Oh fuck, I am oh so so happy.

I am so fucking content with my badge.

Imagination as a precision tool for change.

I feel tired, demoralised and measured in these words...

How the fuck can I, white, bi-national shoe-wearing member of the mediocrity, imagine the lives of those risking their lives to cross the sea with their kids to come to France?

What did my imagination ever do to really change fuck?

Imagination, precision tool for change...my arse.

[I measure my words, I regret the tone, I regret the potential upset caused, I so want to be cheered, to cheer the work of those who I respect, I want to encourage, to feel encouraged, and the only words I can find to write are 'my arse'. I so wish I could steal the words of others, Freire, hooks, whoever, to feel better.]

I am sorry.

Open badges and closed borders.

I reread a paragraph about plagiarism.

What the hell is Turnitin?

I claim ignorance.

I read it and it sounds like some drug sold by Pfizer.

Can ignorance enable agency?

I feel myself writing words that I will only regret.

I am sorry.

The paragraph reminds me of the "exam" earlier in the week.

I had to explain the concept of "plagiarism" to the "candidate."

He had no English words of his own.

He was desperate to avoid expulsion.

He stole the words of others.

I begin to feel more like a border control officer than a teacher.

I find a space in the marking grid for him to express his plight in one of the five languages he masters.

Four of the languages, he points out, are not much use outside of his country.

English, he says is essential to him...to work in...management.

I hear the protofascist on TV whining on about France being colonised by African migrants.

I feel an urgent need to vomit, to take several showers.

I go back and reread Sean Michael Morris's:

"Is critical pedagogy aligned with the interests of the academy? In an ivory tower increasingly interested in credentialing as currency, competitive completion rates, models of efficiency that have given rise to online program management companies, the outsourcing of pedagogy to Pearson and Turnitin, are we confronting a reality where “Dreams are caught in the meshes of the saleable; possession of consumer goods is the alternative to gloom or feelings of pointlessness. Ideas of possibilities are trapped in predictability”? (“Art and Imagination” 124)"

However you turn it, in this occupied territory, the answer to Sean's question is:


I go back and read Sean's last paragraph.

"Before I sat down to write this talk, I would not have thought that my best pedagogical advice might be to go seeking after monsters. But I think it’s good advice, and advice I want to take. To front the reckless world. To be reminded that some things cannot be reasoned."

Some things cannot be reasoned, yes.

I don't need to go seeking bloody monsters.

Does one really need imagination to see monsters?


One does need imagination to survive these monstrous times.

GO directly to jail.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hrm, mmm, pfff...


Bzzt, bzzt, bzzzt.

Sh, shh, shhh, 

Zzz, zzz, zzz, 

Bzzt, bzzt, bzzzt.

Shh, Pff, grr, grrl, grrrl.

Brr, brrr, brrr,

Pff, grr, grrl, grrrl, nth.

Whrr, whrr, whrrr,

Hrm, hmm, hrm, hmm,

Hrm, hmm, hrm, hmm.

Pst, psst, pssst...

Sss, sss, ssss,

Mmm, mmm, mmm,


Tsk, tsk.

Grr, grrl, grrrl, nth.



Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Coming full circle...

I had the feeling that I wanted to write something. 

I had no idea what. 

Not having any idea or any sentence which came to mind, 

I sat and waited and waited...

Eventually, I settled for one word:


Well frankly it wasn't much to go with. So I waited. I felt "falling" and it brought up "gravity"..."my gravity". I had found my "baseline", I had written "baseline" with a full stop.  

"Why bother with "baseline?" I thought.

"Full stop will do." 
"It has finality, it has an ending, a succinct landing." I settled the internal debate.

How long did it take?

I have no idea.

By the time that I had got to reflecting on "gravity" and its appropriate punctuation I had lost all sense of time.

I was engrossed.

I like playing with punctuation.

"Aller à la ligne."

"Well for hell's sake why not?" I thought, "So what if it is French?"  "If people don't understand..."

Well frankly I didn't understand what I was writing about...as often.

I trust myself to trust whatever comes out...when I am engrossed.

That is rather the point of it.


Nothing more or less.

So why not "franglais"?


I mix French and English all the bloody time.

I decide to ignore linguistic boundaries which are fuzzy a lot of the time.

Whatever comes out wins the fight for exposure.

"Aller à la ligne".

I had dropped as far as I could. 

I get a clear sense of verticality, of "gravity."

I start traversing from my original ledge: "Falling".

One can only fall so far...

I build horizontally using "ing" and two syllables words beginning with f.

I don't judge what I am doing.

Whatever I am doing, I claim diminshed responsibility.

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.


I stretch out: "falling, feeling..."

"flailing" I don't like the sound of that, it just doesn't sound or feel appropriate here.

I reject "flailing".

I accept "failing", but rather "failing" as in the sense of "failing light".

"People can read what they like.." I reason.

I end up with "falling, feeling, failing" and wait and wait...

Next, the word  "fleeting" insists inclusion,  mainly, I think, because I love the sound.

I love its dissonance, "fleeting" it shall be an unusual verb, so what? 

I shall treat it like a verb and let its desire to adjectivise itself fight it out with its lot.

A mortal combat: adjective vs verb.

"Ha ha, ha, ha."

It is "fleeting" therefore I am...

I is not it, but it entails me. 

Whatever that may mean....pretension, pretention, oh whatever.

Who cares?

So I have some sort of vertical and horizontal and sonorous and dynamic (are those words) structure.

As often, it is loosely hanging together, fighting to get off the page.

Even if a word is unknown to me, or "incorrect", if a sound comes to me then it gets roped into action.

What the hell! Take all prisoners!


"Legerté" acts as counterpoint to  "my gravity".

I am both light and heavy, in this writing exercise (if that is what it is).

I can feel lightness and weight, or wait pulling me downwards towards a conclusion of sorts...or a decision to erase all...

I play with French and English, what if "legerté" exists as "legerty" in English?  I wonder.

I go off and find a dictionary.


Lovely word, unknown to me until then.

I go off and investigate.

I come back.

Now things get really strange.

I had a series of lines starting with A: 

a falling, a flailing etc or other words I forget.

The series of A plus two syllables suddenly recalls, plucks from the depths of my memory:

A Tisket 

A Tasket.

No good reason why.

Hell that will be something to explore, I decide.

Ella Fitzgerald.

I must have heard this before.

I have no memory whatsoever of it.

I enjoy these surprise appearances.

I particulary enjoy the play with nonsense words.

How often do we try desperately to make sense and end up making nonsense?

I will settle for playfulness.
I will settle for joy.
I will settle for discovery.

A tisket and A tasket are central to what this piece conveys.

It is less in the words than in the gestures, in the pauses, in the sudden jumps, the odd juxtapositions.

More sounds pop out, this time a rebuke, ironic here: "Tsk Tsk"(I should not be doing this, I should be doing something 'serious'.)

I immediately love the expression for its refusal to include any vowel.

Tsk and Pff and Zzzz marvellous subversions.

Please find me more!!!

So I go and investigate "A Tisket A Tasket".

I go away and come back and introduce Eminem's subversive rap "Without me."

The idea of this nonsense expression  "A tisket A tasket" journeying from children's play to Ella Fitzgerald to Eminem, is for me in itself glorious.

I love the connection, this weird connection.

By this time, I have lost all concern for appropriacy, I reuse "Tsk Tsk" for the hell of it, French for the hell of it, I introduce a voice of a reader, or my own voice, "Huh?",who can't make head or tale of what I or it means here.


"Tsk Tsk, crétin! MDR!"

No doubt Eminem's Slim Shady has a lot to answer for.

His joyful stealing and remixing and goading of sacred American idols is infectious.

"Tâtonner" groping away in the dark.

I love the word for its feel in my mouth, its sonority.

I love the word even more for its circumflex...its little child-felt exoticism.

I could happily put circumflexs everywhere for the hell of it.

The ton, the ton, becomes an uncle, maybe Mitterand, "Ton Ton", for the hell of it.

The sound ton, goes from "tâtonner, to étonnement, to tonnement, to Ton Ton, to tonnère." for the hell of it.

Just the sound, that is the meaning, sound for itself, any other meaning is incidental.


And then down, down to a chute, to the plunge under water.

The image of plunging invites the Grand Bleu.

Why not?

Letting go, being at peace, being animal, being part of all.


Numbers pulse my hesitation, a silence , to celebrate the slowness of my breath.

Respiration, relaxation, letting go, mediation, meditation, emptyness, peace.

Play goddam it!

How long have I spent here? 

Who cares.

What does it mean?

I could feel an element of fear for the unknown.

I could feel a moment of fear for the ununderstandable.

It is enough to write fearing.

I let others deal with my expression of fear on arriving at a full stop.

Is it my fear, or their fear?

Who cares?

Is there gravity here?

Is there depth here?


Let others decide.

I have done enough.

Falling, failing, feeling, fleeting, fearing...

I go and find an image to transform with words.

I find that image of darkness.

I didn't bother to scrutinise it, or to inspect it carefully.

I liked the fact that it was indistinct.

I go and dig out an app that I had forgotten on Apple's server.

It comes back into use.

It becomes a starting point, and end point.

Falling, failing, feeling, fleeting, fearing...

Then I see what the image was.

In the darkness, a cave-writer has connected his lines with those of bears or lions.

He is both their prey and they his prey.

I go and post the "poem" the "play" the "piece" with a couple of hashtags and then expect nothing.

I am with the cave-writer extinct and at peace.

falling, failing, feeling, fleeting, fearing.

falling, failing, feeling, fleeting, fearing.


I find my gravity.

Full stop.

Aller à la ligne.


I find my legerté (fr), legerty (sic), 


Tsk, tsk!

Mais non!

A Tisket.
A Tasket.

Rhyming Legerity.

Words, sounds, rhythms, rhymes, times, dimes,

A Tisket.
A Tasket.

Tsk, Tsk!



I tâtonne in the dark.
Tâtonne donc.


I tâtonne in the dark.

I collect sounds.
I collect words.
I collect songs.


I collect words par tâtonnement thus.



I sense my pulse,
I sense étonnement.


Suprise, astonishment.

I sense fatigue,
I sense peace.
I sense my soul.



Non, non, Ton Ton...

Tsk, tsk!

Tonnère fera ici.

S'il tonne au mois de juin, année de paille année de foin.



Hold your breath,


One, two, three, four, five, six...

En apnée.


Seven, eight, nine...

Minutes, hours...days, years.


No, no time, no time at all.

Tsk, Tsk!

Plunge deeper...



alert facile quickness of mind or body
When "legerity" first appeared in English in 1561, it drew significantly upon the concept of being "light on one's feet," and appropriately so. It is derived from words in Middle and Old French and ultimately Latin that all mean "light in weight." These days, "legerity" can describe a nimbleness of mind as well as of the feet. A cousin of "legerity" in English is legerdemain,meaning "sleight of hand" or "a display of skill or adroitness." "Legerdemain" comes from the French phrase leger de main, meaning "light of hand."

A Tisket A Tasket

The rhyme was first noted in the United States in 1938[3] as a children's rhyming game. It was sung while children danced in a circle. One of the number ran on the outside of the circle and dropped a handkerchief. The nearest child would then pick it up and chase the dropper. If caught the dropper either was kissed, joined the circle, or had to tell the name of their sweetheart.[2] An early noted version had the lyrics:
A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my mom
And on the way I dropped it,
I dropped it, I dropped it,
And on the way I dropped it.
A little boy he picked it up
And put it in his pocket.[2]
In some variants, the second line is "I lost my yellow basket". In other variants, the last line is "A little girl picked it up and put it in her pocket".
In nineteenth-century England, the rhyme used in the same game had somewhat different but evidently related words:
I lost my supper, last night,
And the night before,
And if I do this night,
I never will no more.
I sent a letter to my love,
I carried water in my glove,
And by the way I dropped it, I did so, I did so:
I had a little dog that said bow-wow!
I had a little cat that said meow-meow!
Shan't bite you, shan't bite you,
Shall bite you.
I dropt it, I dropt it,
And by the way I lost it.[4]


Monday, June 11, 2018

Found, framed. Involuntary sculpture.

"Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning."


I have walked Jazz the dog the same route countless times.  

Yesterday, it seemed that every few feet I had to stop to contemplate an art installation. 

How is it that I hadn't noticed these gallery pieces before?

Was it the storm which made me more sensitive to the environment?

Was I less caught up in my own thoughts?

Was I more open to venturing off the path, to bending down, to wandering off into the undergrowth, to varying my point of view?

What of the people who assembled the installations?

To what extent was there any aesthetic intention to the arrangement of these objects in their allotments?

Lot 1. Giraffe and bean poles.

What on earth was this elongated giraffe doing, standing jauntily amongst the bean poles?

Was there symbolic meaning to its angled emplacement?

Did it have a role of watch-giraffe, or scare crow?

Had it been bought especially for the garden or had it been unceremoniously dumped?

What had determined the plan of the planks laid out as walkway?

Had there been any thought as to the relationship between verticality of the bean poles and the neck of the giraffe?

There was no sign, no name of an artist, no leaflet to accompany my visit.

Lot 2. Pallet, panels and branches.

I suppose the pallet, panels and branches had a practical function.

They had been arranged to form some sort of obstacle.

It was an obstacle to what?

There had been some thought which had gone into the propping of the branches.

Whatever the method behind the assemblage, it had apparently been pretty haphazard.

No tools had been used to attach the pieces.

No rope had been used to bind the branches together.

No attempt had been made to minimise the space taken up by the objects.

Whatever the story behind the grouping of the objects, they stood there waiting for somebody to pay attention.

Lot 3. Sheet metal erosion.

It has obviously been standing there for some time.

The corrosion on its surface had begun to eat away at its structure.

Holes were appearing, light was boring through its solidity.

Why had noone thought to throw it away?

Why had anyone thought to leave it standing there?

What possible purpose did it have?

What might have been its origin?

Had it been part of a vehicle?

Had it been ripped off a piece of furniture?

How long had it been there?

No answers were available.

Only questions.

Had anyone else ever thought to stop to pay attention to its rotting beauty?

Lot 4. Oil drum totems, oil drum cemetery.

What is the line between tipping, pollution, and art?

I can imagine people complaining about the eyesore.

I can imagine people complaining about the abuse of nature.

I can imagine people complaining about the thoughtlessness of others.

All I could see was the cylindrical metallic form and the fading colours of the barrels framed, overgrown, accepted perhaps by nature.

I found a funereal peace, a strange spirituality associated with the place.

Was it some sort of cemetery?

Whose heads are these drumstones memorials to?

Were they totems for a rite?

Was this a shrine to unknown gods?

Had there been any decision as to whether the green drum was on the red drum rather than the other way round?

Had there been negligence or care here?

I stop and carefully frame them.

Jazz is impatient to explore.

I pull him back.

He sits down panting...waiting.

Lot 5. Wild-framing, digital filtering.

"It's not entirely representative of reality." I might hear you say.

Yes, I played with an app - Prisma, to search for an intensifying of the colour. (I had written insensifying and I hesistated before "correcting it.)

Once the colour heightened, a wildness of the fence framing is what hits me.

How many fences have you seen with such a design?

How much would you have to pay for such sculpture if displaced in a gallery?

"Oh! What Junk!" I hear you say.

"Rickety rubbish!" I hear you say.

Not to me.

Lot 6. Ramshackle dump.

There is a joy in writing, in hearing the word "ramshackle".

I go and find a quote to celebrate it.

“The windows of the houses - even if the house is ramshackle - are always beautiful because windows represent light!” 
― Mehmet Murat ildan

OK, I agree I may be reading into things more than exists.

There may be serendipity in the geometry of the sculpture figured left.

It may be a complete and to some an unpardonnable accident.

But to me, there is beauty, there is wonder.

I wonder if others have stopped to celebrate this ramshackle dump?

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 

― Edgar Degas


Involuntary Sculpture.

"A selection of photos taken by Brassai and captioned by Dali in surrealist periodical "Minotaure" in 1933 bearing the title "Involuntary Sculpture."

"Scraps of everyday débris,  - including rolled up bus tickets, a piece of bread roll, a curl of soap from a sink, and a blob of toothpaste - featured in photographic close-up as 'automatic' sculptural configurations. These banal and non-artistic objects (one of the bus-tickets was allegedly found screwed-up in the pocket of a bank-employee) were intended at least in part as a riposte to the prevailing perception of sculpture at the time."

"Brassai and Dali's photo essay provides a tantalising evocation of sculptural possibility, where forms are both shaped by human hands, sometimes with little conscious thought (the rolled bus ticket) and subject to organic growth (the piece of bread rising and changing shape in the oven). It also freezes its array of objects at a particular moment, before they are discarded, swept or wiped away, dissolved or eaten. Nevertheless, their photographic capturing does give them a certain solid presence, particulary through Brassai's use of dramatic chiaroscuro."

Chiaroscuro (English: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊər/Italian: [ˌkjaroˈskuːro]Italian for light-dark), in art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.


"Sculpture, especially in the case of antique copies and casts in white plaster, stone and marble, had exceptional photogenic qualities, setting up striking contrasts between light and shade as well as nuances of texture. In this sense both media (sculpture and photography) share a manipulation of the effects of light, as well as a concern, potentially for framing and apprehending an object from a specific point of view. Through photographic representation, sculptures can take on another life, eternalised as images in their own right in what André Malraux would call a 'museum without walls'." 

"In a late essay, Brassai would argue that the photograph developed in the dark-room acted as a metaphor for Marcel Proust's well-known accounts of 'involuntary memory', a latent remembrance suddenly triggered by an everyday object or experience, such as the taste of a madeleine dipped in tea. In that kind of moment, past and present locations are telescoped, and according to Proust, 'our whole person...totters between them...in the vertigo of an uncertainty like the kind we sometimes experience before an ineffable vision, at the moment of falling asleep, - a state of demi-sommeil."

Anna Dezeuze and Julia Kelly in "Found Sculpture and Photography from Surrealism to Contemporary Art. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Before the storm.

Early June.

Storm days, follow storm days.

Between the downpours,

Venturing out,

Light nature saturates,

Junk colour vibrates.

Temperature alternates,

Oppressive heat,
Cool breeze,

Rain again.

Breathe again.

Rumbling far.

Thundering close.

Electricity in the air.

Lightning overhead.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


"So how are we coming along with the figures?"

"No that just won't do."

"We are going to have to come up with more savings."

"Yes, you heard what I said, more savings."

"We are living beyond our means."

"We can't go on living beyond our means."

"Which means?"

We are going to have to come up with more savings."

"Which means?"

"We can't  go on living beyond our means."

"Which means?"

"We can't go on living beyond our means."

"So we need to cut costs."

"Cut costs?"

"Yes, you heard me very well. Cut costs."

"Which means?"

"We are going to have to be more productive."

"Which means?"

"We are going to have to do less with more. I mean more with less."

"But what are we doing?"

"We are looking for more savings."

"Which means?"

"You heard me very well."

"But what are We doing?"

"We are looking for savings."

"Who are we saving for?"

"We are saving for us."

"Which means?"

"It will cost us."

"Give me the gun."


"You heard what I said. Give me the gun."

"What are you doing?"

"We can't go on living beyond our means."