Not long ago I stood with a friend next to an art work made of four wood beams laid in a long rectangle, with a mirror set behind each corner so as to reflect the others. My friend, a conceptual artist, and I talked about the minimalist basis of such a work: its reception by critics then, its elaboration by artists later, its significance for practitioners today, all of which are concerns of this book as well. Taken by our talk, we hardly noticed his little girl as she played on the beams. But then, signaled by her mother, we looked up to see her pass through the looking glass. Into the hall of mirrors, the mise-en-abime of beams, she moved farther and farther from us, and as she passed into the distance, she passed into the past as well.
Yet suddenly there she was right behind us: all she had done was skip along the beams around the room. And there we were, a critic and an artist informed in contemporary art, taken to school by a six-year-old, our theory no match for her practice. For her playing of the piece conveyed not only specific concerns of minimalist work - the tensions among the spaces we feel, the images we see, and the forms we know - but also general shifts in art over the last three decades - new interventions into space, different constructions of viewing, and expanded definitions of art. Her performance became allegorical as well, for she described a paradoxical figure in space, a recession that is also a return, that evoked for me the paradoxical figure in time descried by the avant-garde. For even as the avant-garde recedes into the past, it also returns from the future, repositioned by innovative art in the present.
1 wicker basket full of young nettle tops (wash well) 1 large leek (roughly chopped) 2 medium-sized onions (roughly chopped) 2 very large potatoes (peeled and chopped quite small) 1-2 cloves of garlic (chopped/crushed) vegetable stock to taste (cube/powder, etc) 3 pints water 2.5 pints milk 4 bunches (of approx 50g) wild garlic (Allium ursinum) (finely chopped) a little olive oil cream (single or double) salt and pepper a few garlic mustard leaves for garnish (Alliaria petiolata)
Place all ingredients in a large saucepan except the cream, wild garlic and one pint of the milk. Bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour, then liquidise. Also, liquidise the remaining pint of milk with the chopped wild garlic. Swirl some of this and a little cream into the soup once you have put it in a bowl. Garnish with a couple of garlic mustard leaves.
absolutely delicious. spent the whole day cooking (feeding 17 people is a fairly major operation). soup, wild garlic and spinach pesto, coleslaw, hummus, and homemade bread.
“In this sweet Elysium [Hollywood], the years are counted for two decades and when twenty is reached, on automatically drifts into an indefinite period known as ‘the twenties.’ One stays, unless possessed of tremendous courage, for thirty or forty years, or until further facelifting becomes impractical.”—Dorothy Spensley (1930)
But you have to choose: to live or to recount. For example, when I was in Hamburg, with that Erna girl whom I didn’t trust and who was afraid of me, I led a peculiar sort of life. But I was inside it, I didn’t think about it. And then one evening, in a little cafe as St Pauli, she left me to go to the lavatory. I was left on my own, there was a gramophone playing Blue Skies. I started telling myself what had happened since I had landed. I said to myself: ‘On the third evening, as I was coming into a dance hall called the Blue Grotto, I noticed a tall woman who was half-seas over. And that woman is the one I am waiting for at this moment, listening to Blue Skies, and who is going to come back and sit down on my right and put her arms round my neck.’ Then I had a violent feeling that I was having an adventure. But Erna came back, she sat down beside me, she put her arms around my neck, and I hated her without knowing why. I understand now: it was because I had to begin living again that the impression of having an adventure had just vanished.
When you are living, nothing happens. The settings change, people come in and go out, that’s all. There are never any beginnings. Days are tacked on to days without rhyme or reason, it is an endless, monotonous addition. Now and then you do a partial sum: you say: I’ve been travelling for three years, I’ve been at Bouville for three years. There isn’t any end either: you never leave a woman, a friend, a town in one go. And then everything is like everything else: Shanghai, Moscow, Algiers, are all the same after a couple of weeks. Occasionally - not very often - you take your bearings, you realize that you’re living with a woman, mixed up in some dirty business. Just for an instant. After that, the procession starts again, you begin adding up the hours and days once more. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. April, May, June. 1924, 1925, 1926.
That’s living. But when you tell about life, everything changes; only it’s a change nobody notices: the proof of that is that people talk about true stories. As if there could possibly be such things as true stories; events take place one way and we recount them the opposite way. You appear to begin at the beginning: ‘It was a fine autumn evening in 1922. I was a solicitor’s clerk at Marommes.’ And in fact you have begun at the end. It is there, invisible and present, and it is the end which gives these few words the pomp and value of a beginning. ‘I was out walking, I had left the village without noticing, I was thinking about my money troubles.’ This sentence, taken simply for what it is, means that the fellow was absorbed, morose, miles away from an adventure, in exactly the sort of mood in which you let events go by without seeing them. But the end is there, transforming everything. For us, the fellow is already the hero of the story. His morose mood, his money troubles are much more precious than ours, they are all gilded by the light of future passions. And the story goes on in reverse: the moments have stopped piling up on one another in a happy-go-lucky manner, they are caught by the end of the story which attracts them and each of them in turn attracts the preceding moment: ‘It was dark, the street was empty.’ The sentence is tossed off casually, it seems superfluous; but we refuse to be taken in and we put it aside: it is a piece of information whose value we shall understand later on. And we have the impression that the hero lived all the details of that night like annunciations, promises, or even that he lived only those that were promises, blind and deaf to everything that did not herald adventure. We forget that the future was not yet there; the fellow was walking in a darkness devoid of portents, a night which offers him its monotonous riches pell-mell, and he made no choice.
I wanted the moments of my life to follow one another in a orderly fashion like those of a life remembered. You might as well try to catch time by the tail.
lazing around in the sunshine (there were far too many nettles - my feet still sting - but the chickens are comforting)… reaffirming to read something worth my time
The people all allowed themselves to lean back a little, their heads high their eyes gazing into the distance, abandoned to the wind which pushed them along and puffed out their coats. Now and then a dry laugh, quickly stifled; the call of a mother, Jeannot, Jeannot, will you come here. And then silence. A faint aroma of mild tobacco: it’s the shop assistants who are smoking. Salammibo, Aicha, Sunday cigarettes. On a few faces, which were more relaxed, I thought I could detect a little sadness: but no, these people were neither sad not gay: they were resting. Their wide-open, staring eyes passively reflected the sea and the sky. Soon they would go back home and drink a cup of tea all together around the dining-room table. For the moment they wanted to live as cheaply as possible, to economize on gestures, words, thoughts, to float along: they had only one day in which to smooth away their wrinkles, their crow’s-feet, the bitter lines made by their work during the week. Only one day. They could feel the minutes flowing between their fingers; would they have time to stock up enough youth to start afresh on Monday morning? They filled their lungs because sea air is invigoration: only their breathing, as regular and deep as that of sleepers, still testified that they were alive. I walked along stealthily, I didn’t know what to do with my hard, fresh body, in the midst of this tragic crowd taking its rest.
It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella for the coat check when I saw her standing alone in a corner. She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair…
one of the many reasons why english is better than other languages.
Heat a little oil in a pan then add the cumin seeds and fry for a minute or so then add the sesame seeds and fry for a further minute. Remove from the heat.
Finely chop to the onions and fry in the pan slowly until golden brown. Don’t rush the onions as this is key to the whole dish.
In a food processor add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to form a smooth paste. If required add a little water. This paste is commonly known as a masala in India.
Gently fry off your masala for 2-3 minutes before adding the browned onion to the pan.
While doing this chop your aubergines into small cubes and fry slowly with a bit of oil until tender. Then simply add the masala and onion mix to the pan (with a little water if required), put a lid on the pan then cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.