Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a bit concerned, or: signs of the times...

he got
a bit concerned
when she
insisted on him
having a barcode
tattooed on
his male member
and worse
when she insisted
on scanning him
each time
before they
made love.


from snapshots 119
(Randolph Healy's Wild Honey Press web site)

scottish landscapes (5)

Horses, horses, horses... & other friends we visited on the way.

Scottish Highlands
From west to east coast (and somewhere in the middle)
August 2010
(Photos by EK)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

scottish landscapes (4)

From a distance, you take them for rocks on the beach. Yet, as you slowly approach, step by step, their agitation becomes visible.

Half-curious, half-fearful, our mutual presence has to be carefully negotiated. They oblige and tolerate us - everything goes well.

Their countenance is so kind and, at the same time, so sharp and inquisitive. No wonder that Scottish, Irish and Icelandic folkore traditions are populated by their legends.

Selkies. They do question indeed the animal/human boundary. Where does it end, where does it begin...?

Brora / Brùra
Sutherland, Scottish Highlands
August 2010
(Photos by EK)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

scottish landscapes (3)

Travelling from the west to the east coast is like entering a different country. The topography much less inhospitable, plainer, yet the same ballet of the weather, of light and shadow. A sense of impermanence, change - despite the stones. Everywhere.

Brora / Brùra
Sutherland, Scottish Highlands

August 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

scottish landscapes (2)

Today on this shingle shelf
I understand this pensive reluctance so well
This not discommendable obstinacy,
These contrivances of an inexpressive critical feeling,
These stones with their resolve that Creation shall not be
Injured by iconoclasts and quacks . . .

Hugh MacDiarmid, from 'On a Raised Beach'.

Northwest Highlands
August 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

scottish landscapes (1)

The inward gates of a bird are always open.

It does not know how to shut them.
That is the secret of its song.
But whether any man's are ajar is doubtful.
I look at these stones and know little about them,
But I know their gates are open too,
Always open, far longer open, than any bird's can be,
That every one of them has had its gates wide open far longer
Than all birds put together, let alone humanity,
Though through them no man can see,
No man nor anything more recently born than themselves
And that is everything else on Earth.

Hugh MacDiarmid, from 'On a Raised Beach'.

There are many kinds of revelation. But the most powerful is the vision which transcends the mental boundary between life and non-life, and Scotland is a place where this sort of revelation often approaches. Staring into a Scottish landscape, I have often asked myself why - in spite of all appearances - bracken, rocks, man and sea are at some level one. Sometimes this secret seems about to open, like a light moving briefly behind a closed door. In writing about birds and stones whose 'inward gates' are open, MacDiarmid came as near as one can to finding the answer.

Neal Ascherson, from Stone Voices: In Search for Scotland (London: Granta, 2002), p. 26.

This summer, once again, I too went in search for Scotland, its birds, bracken, sea - and especially the rocks. The stones.

There is something about the Scottish landscape, in its barrenness and inhospitality, in its constant play between light and shadow, that deeply touches the heart. Your perception of time undergoes a radical change: 'a lesson in the unimaginable forces and lapses of time which have gone to shape the world', as Ascherson magisterially puts it.

You feel closer to the beginning and ending of things, part of the lichen which tenaciously holds to the less exposed crevices and surfaces of the land. Precarious, barely surviving under the harsh weather, the ruthless geology.

There is nowhere else I would like to live. Yet, I couldn't possibly live there.

It lives only in the imagination, my landscape of dreams.

Lake Torridon / Loch Thoirbheartan
West Coast, Northwest Highlands
August 2010