The Good the bad & the ugly

Summer BA /MA 

Ecological red alerts and transcendental meditation via Paul Shraders subtle masterpiece.

The Sun, the heliosphere and Spartacus :  updated as & when

The famous song goes "Mama always told me not to look into the eyes of the sun. But mama, that's where the fun is!"

Song is titled 'Blinded by the light' : Indeed Icarus flew too close to the Sun. Into the blue his red wax did run. 

solar flare is a phenomenon where the Sun suddenly releases a great amount of solar radiation, much more than normal. Solar flares are unlikely to cause any direct injury, but can destroy electrical grids and equipment. (And melt wax & feathers! ) 

Love theme from Spartacus, Yusef Lateef


Ovid.the Roman Poet Who wrote the mythic narrative poem 'The Metamorphoses' , Greek myths in Latin. 43 BC. 

Upon seeing the unseen, the meta-physical and the unviewable for the very first time one steps back. (See new unique black hole photograph below) 

And like the Hughes poem when the moon steps back upon viewing Ted's daughter, new born Frieda Hughes (and as she stares too - amazed upon seeing her first full moon) . 

"Moon!' you cry suddenly, 
'Moon!  Moon!'

The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work
That points at him amazed" 

Full Moon And Little Frieda. (by TH) 
             (Read full poem) 

Like the looking glass, this new black hole is one more philosophical, cosmological threshold. 

Do we step in like vain Narcissus or buckle up like brave Alice ? The adventuress ! - as she grew up. (grew tall literally)  

Ovids 'Metamorphoses' tales are all strong analogies as are Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' , Shelley's 'Frankenstein' and Wilde's 'Dorian Gray'. 

Vast radio cameras have captured the first image of the mythic black hole, heralding a revolution in our understanding of the universe’s most enigmatic objects at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, 55m light years from Earth. 

 The great lost minds who would have loved to have seen this image. Ada Lovelace, Einstein, Turing, Ovid etc



When we look longingly into the pool of space we must not expect to see ourselves nor seek company or communion  for that only comes internally first. And we seem a fair way off yet as a race. 

Vain Narcissus became a flower, his tragedy was missing out on rare Echo as Narcissus disappeared into himself. That's Anthropocentrism right there. 

  • Marcel Proust's Irremediable solitude: (Beckett)

Sam Becketts quote: “Friendship, according to Proust, is the negation of that irremediable solitude to which every human being is condemned.” 

*Individuality and solitude are ostensibly, on the face of it, to be celebrated but do ask Mr Robinson Crusoe more about that on the long term affectations of distance.

'Distance is something to make up - or sometimes to seek out. Closeness then comes back too.' (mmj) 

The FERMI Paradox "Where is everybody in the Universe'' ? Through the hole - through the looking-glass - it may just be us? 

The Concept of FERMI's Paradox is that despite the huge odds for extra-terrestrial Life beyond Earth - we have located nothing. 

On Earth we develop strong attachments to People and Place. 

Discuss this visually and in Text - but as Poetics and speculation not seeking empirical science. 

Sources : Popular Culture - Existentialism 


The exploration of textual and visual language in relation to Psychological states companionship and friendship - collegiality - sharing, transference, intuition, instinct, love. family. 

(excuse grammer just notes) . 

Whirlwind Soup & Matriarchal Mists - Misty eyed losses

Ms Price
Lickerish Bog Black Tea
Medicinal Whisky in the Jar'o 

And so it goes. 

Vital Statistics of the Planets Misaligned page 548. 
The Moon p549
Mercury revs p561
Venus or Mars.
"Look its Misty Mr,
It's reyt misty 
It ever so misty Ms"
Minted Thyme
Hum it aloud
Far far away
From madding crowd
Doremi Faso,... ­čÄÂ
Destiempo ! 
Whisky in the Jar-oh


Rumi the ancient deep thinker ruminates
That somewhere between the good, the bad and the ugly, there is a 'field'.... "I'll meet you there" he says.

I ruminate that one should not readily ruminate (round the ragged rocks the ragged rascal ran) but rather enter said field.

Surely it is far too Smug to wait knowingly for the promise of an 'after life'. For life may pass thru us only the once. Our 'unique particular' as Hesse rightly names it. Where the symptom of the universe passes through the unique 'us' just the once.

There is no sense of 'entitlement' in Hesses  statement it is more an acknowledgement that ideosyncrasy is something to celebrate and that life can be short.

Miranda in 'The Tempest' proclaims... 

“O, wonder ! How many goodly creatures are there here ! How beauteous mankind is! 
O brave new world, That has such people in't !”

Yes there were and are some rare ones. 

"We've got these people all revved up John" said June Carter

June & Johnny
Strong but humble

Above is verisimilitude in fine form - from the filmic landscape of 'Walk the line' performing the duet. I'm going to Jackson. 

Hey, will you sing a song with me?
I would be very pleased to sing a song with you
Sure look nice
Thank you, I'm glad to be back in Folsom
Well I like to watch you talk
I'm talking with my mouth. 

... ..... ....
MANkind is not always beauteous or benevolent. Indeed often far from it and here lies the rub. 

'O brave new world' was of course used later by Aldous Huxley for his great dystopian novel 'Brave New World' and his tale of the noble male John the Savage -  a male far removed from the superficial posturing male i.e Sergeant Troy, the shallow rogue from Hardy's 'Far from the Madding Crowd'. 

John Savage is a rarer character - Mr Oak too, from Thomas Hardy's 'Far From The Madding Crowd'.

Don't mistake kindness for weakness - and mistake consideration, receptivity or sensitivity for sentimentality. 

Beware too much ambition - too much progress. ( 'room at the top's moral )

n.b Kompridis argues for the importance of receptivity to democratic
politicsromanticism and critical theory. I have argued for it and for 'The Slow Movement' on a weekly basis in - terms of ecological crisis and our outlook on threatened habitats - and how we manage ourselves, our holistic wellbeing etc. 

Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak in the original film adaptation of Hardys novel. 

John Savage like Gabriel Oak is the central protagonist - the strongest character. (Huxley and Hardy being inside their male creations - their protagonists) The authors ideals are personified in these characters. This too is 'authorial practice'. 

John has rejected his own “savage” tribal Indian culture and is yet also revolted by the faux “civilized” immersive 'State' culture. A seductive but reductive thrill seeking, pill popping charade. 

Now he is the ultimate outsider. 

We need more Bathesheba Everdene's , more Thomas Hardys. More Tess Duberville's

As an outsider, John Savage takes his received values from Shakespeare - an ancient little green book he read like a Bible on the reservation. This enabled him to attempt to articulate his own complex emotions and reactions in the new world. 

Billy Shakes tackles the human wound - he navigates it and exposes it - he does not sentimentalise it nor prettify it - he sees it honestly and feels it and says it as it is - his embelishments are accurate to his eye and senses -  and like Heaney, Plath and Hughes - he rolls and laughs IN it - the lightness and weight of it. And so it goes.

Whereby the cynic, the materialist, the nihilist and suspicious are mostly free of such thought - and measure and observe from afar with their own self protective instrumentation. 

John, like Branwell, a sensitive but strong idealist - struggled in the new vista. It overcame him. He took the pill.  

Contemporary consumerist society's biggest trick via saturation marketing is its omnipresense. This seduction and sedation of our freewill was predicted by Huxley and co. The steering away from the real - the authentic. Be that social and political or in terms of appreciation of the day to day. 

Photo : Graham Nash 1968 California 


fleeting time - fl─ôotan - to float - afloat

(mm; from a longer essay 'Engines' )

Fleeting comes from the old word fl─ôotan, which means to float - the love float at the procession - at the Gala - at the Fair - fleet of foot. 

Branwell Bronte, Lorca, Kundera and Pinter knew this stuff - they breathed it in. 
Gifted Branwell is the author of this painting. Yet he painted himself out. His absent visage now sits in-between his equally gifted sisters. 

In this painting there is an absence and yet there is presence felt. A bioluminescence.

So it is a sad but also a glowing painting - because the same man also possessed the lightness seen illuminated here - the lightness of being - as well as the weight of it. He was flawed yet had a warmth like a LAMP - that lit up gloomy rooms. I imagine that when he stepped outside on a summer evening his coat would become coated by the most beautiful of moths. 

The painting can also be read *semiotically as male withdrawal by the males own hand. 
A frugal removal from what ? 
Well whaddya got?
Capitalism Consumerism Competition - entanglement  - materialist society - ? 
It ticks all the boxes.

In Branwell's case De-materialising from Victorian repression and parochial attitudes - a strict upbringing - which likely fuelled his exotic excess.

*semiotically ( relates to signs and their wider significance, from s─ômei┼Źsis, to signal, to interpret as a sign )

Branwell navigated away from the supercilious society - and why not.

Moth Syncopacma polychromella (Rebel, 1902) for Branwell Bronte  -  fine apparel 

S u c h   S u p e r c i l i u m  

Willow Warbler call - just arrived here now from mid April from Africa - here until October 

Skylark - Woodlark - Lullula  - Nightingale - Snipe - Curlew - Lapwing - Leeshaw 

Distance is something to make up - or sometimes to seek out. Closeness then comes too. 
Be it in the classical work of Homer's Odyssey, Telemachus' - or in Jane Eyre, James Joyce or Philip Guston's swaggering late paintings defiantly show a SHREK like irreverence to linear time, control and blinkered authority. Learn lessons from Guston and Shrek. 

The Poet, novelist, musician or the good teacher - encourages the listener to comprehend the world as a question. There is wisdom and tolerance in that attitude. In a world built on fixed certainties freedom is dead. The totalitarian world, whether founded on Marxism, Fascism or anything else, is a world of intellectuall answers rather than speculative questions. There education and liberty has no place. The failing of 'Authority' comes from having a rigid answer for everything. The wisdom of the Humanities comes from having a question for everything.

mm 2018 

10.40 am : Getting set to visit The Peoples History Museum of democracy and liberty. On foot : A superb resource for students of things that matter. This is a photo register - everyone returned safely to base camp - and no students or animals were hurt in the making of this film. 

On research: 

I say to students that reading, research, earth’s history - and one’s own history - is for me, like applying a stick to a bicycle wheel as it spins, you interact with it - and you get a humming sound back, and that vibration is akin to gravitational waves coming back at you. A voice to react to - stimulation to ignite deeper matters. 

For me and my own working methodology - well I think I am very lucky, it is a perceptive trip, very sensorial and immersive, it is an interactive, special, 'going down with the sun' type of space for me. Mythological and real all at the same time – an active place - a subject of both present and future. Not frozen or stuck. The engine is running. 


Drawing above : 250 drawings from 2012 -17 - lullaby - torch songs - sagas, love letters to various things -  all with thanks to missing Paternities. For in actuality this harder upbringing does do one good - the enlightenment of fortitude and emotional intelligence - experience.


''I fell in love with this book while I was in Prague. The book is layered with many stories that will certainly help you laugh and forget about all the narrative problems that intersect with our own real problems. This is the kind of book that one should read when the world seems to be at its worst''  Book Review One of the most beautiful books I've ever read. 

below : 

A self caricature of himself by Branwell Bronte (1847) his last drawing : In bed waiting to go. Bronte at the end - in the last minutes of his life - made sure he was stood up - he wished to go into the blue yonder stood on his feet - which he did.  .... Bravo brave Branwell ! 


 The real Wuthering Heights - Top Withens - West Riding - Lecture Slide - from my Lecture on Authorial Practice 

Ink faced - guest speaker at Birmingham University with colleague Professor Kand JS  ; image deleted

Lecture slides 

A Fortunate Man;  The Story Of A Country Doctor 

John Berger gives attentiveness to the sensual world with responsiveness to the imperatives of conscience."  ss

None of us are invulnerable - not even mighty Achilles ! And so the Achilles heel is real.
However periods of vulnerability give us strength - and allows self knowledge and wisdom.

On reading Bergers text again last week on the train into work I noticed for the first time a small but important passage of the book where a large male patient shows his vulnerability, his acumen and his mature knowledge of his own sense of self.

He describes where his personal sense of self lies physiologically and emotionally inside his body. He is talking about the location of among other things, his consciousness. Where he feels his consciousness sits.

(I'll paraphrase the quote in the book - as I don't have the book here- but the man says something like this ...

''Behind the eyes - he says - yes, I think that's where I am, where I live - just there ''  I think it is a beautiful observation. 

So this is where he 'sits' and where he feels himself to centre -  not so much his weakness but where he is centred. So to go near it with needles etc ...well ! 
Holistcially we are made - and holistically we operate. In Classical, Eastern and Medieval thought - this idea of a locus is prominent. 

So where are we ?  Head - Heart - Eyes or an amalgam of these. I shared the pages with a colleague and she said ''head, maybe head & heart''. This location of self defines our pathway - our motives, priorities and incentives - the shallow incentive of materialism - chasing wealth - or to follow the incentive of other socially minded matters. 
Many believe ones consciousness can travel - and be felt - it can extend beyond the body. We don't know this empirically. Yet we can be separated by miles or even life and death and still feel someone inside - this is not uncommon. 

Is this location our Achilles heel. Our vulnerability as well as our strength - are they inexplicably bound together ? Perhaps.

The saga of the death of Achilles appeared in later Greek and Roman poetry after Homers Iliad.

In Greek Myth, when Achilles was a baby, it was foreseen that he would die young. To prevent this his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx to dip his body in its waters; however, as she held him around the heel, his heel was covered by her grasp and not washed over by the magic water of the river. Achilles grew to be a man of strength who survived many great battles. In the end a poisonous arrow lodged in his heel, killing him shortly afterwards. 
As a metaphor we can run with this analogy - strengths - vulnerabilities - desires etc - it is the acute acumen and logic of the head forever wrestling with the intuitive heart - a great duet going on there  -  a couplet -  the vulnerable places and the stronger places - interlocked - amor fati ! To be or not to be. 

The short but full life - Dylan T - not invulnerable.

Below is a review  (not by me )  of Bergers text 
In this quietly revolutionary work of social observation and medical philosophy, Booker Prize-winning writer John Berger and the photographer Jean Mohr train their gaze on an English country doctor and find a universal man--one who has taken it upon himself to recognize his patient's humanity when illness and the fear of death have made them unrecognizable to themselves. In the impoverished rural community in which he works, John Sassall tend the maimed, the dying, and the lonely. He is not only the dispenser of cures but the repository of memories. And as Berger and Mohr follow Sassall about his rounds, they produce a book whose careful detail broadens into a meditation on the value we assign a human life. First published thirty years ago, A Fortunate Man remains moving and deeply relevant--no other book has offered such a close and passionate investigation of the roles doctors play in their society.

"In contemporary letters John Berger seems to me peerless; not since Lawrence has there been a writer who offers such attentiveness to the sensual world with responsiveness to the imperatives of conscience."-- Susan Sontag


Below; The very best of films about status , the snobbery of class - labour and love - living in the now and not in the corporate or intellectual 

p.s NOT a sentimental film - a Political film ! ( read Thoreau)  

film still from Mademoiselle  

He felt the "sweet lightness of being rise up to him out of the depths of the future and the past  .... but then he was hit by the weight -  the consequence  (Milan Kundera)

During the course of the novel, the narrator refers to the lightness of being in two different ways: the sweet lightness of being, and the unbearable lightness of being. A few characters are able, momentarily, to revel in the sweet lightness of being. A key example is Tomas, after Tereza leaves him alone in Zurich and returns to Prague: "Suddenly his step was much lighter. He soared. He had entered Parmenides' magic field: he was enjoying the sweet lightness of being" (1.14.7). For two days, he feels the "sweet lightness of being rise up to him out of the depths of the future" (1.15.4). For it only lasts for two days before he is "hit by a weight the likes of which he had never known" (1.15.4), namely, his compassion for her - Tereza.

We have all felt this instinct  - one recognises instantly that there is a depth or history to what you are doing, seeing and feeling - what one is experiencing. It is that atavistic resonance that lets you know there is an instant connection to a place or person - there is something unknown or subliminal there but likewise something familiar.

Amor fati - love of fate - 

Nietzsche's spirit of acceptance occurs in the context of his radical embrace of suffering. For to love that which is necessary, demands not only that we love the bad along with the good, but that we view the two as inextricably linked.

''Only great pain is the ultimate liberator of the spirit….I doubt that such pain makes us ‘better’; but I know that it makes us more profound.''

Nietzsche on 'eternal return'.

" Eternal return is the idea that our universe and our existence has occurred an infinite number of times in the past, and will continue to occur ad infinitum. In this theory, time is cyclical rather than linear. The idea of eternal return is an ancient one, but Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher, popularized it for modern times. That's why the narrator of Unbearable Lightness refers to it as Nietzsche's concept.

Nietzsche explored what the consequences of such eternal return would be. In his eyes, eternal return was das schwerste Gewicht, or "the heaviest weight." It was a petrifying concept to imagine that our lives have been and will continue to be repeated endlessly. But one could learn, through philosophy, to love the idea. The proper mind can embrace this weight, rather than be terrified by it. Nietzsche seems to conclude in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that we must live and act as though our lives functioned in eternal return, suggesting that we give our own lives meaning and weight by behaving this way. This brings in the concept of amor fati, or the love of one's fate. To embrace eternal return is, roughly speaking, to love one's fate. And the major question is this: which is better? Do we want lightness, or do we want weight? Which do we choose? Kundera takes a look at Parmenides, a Greek philosopher in the 5th century B.C. who considered the same question. Parmenides argued that lightness was positive and to be desired, while weight was negative. But the narrator of The Unbearable Lightness of Being isn't so sure about this. "The heaviest of burdens is […] simultaneously an image of life's most intense fulfillment," he says (1.2.4). "The heavier the burden, […] the more real and truthful [our lives] become" (1.2.4).

During the course of the novel, the narrator refers to the lightness of being in two different ways: the sweet lightness of being, and the unbearable lightness of being. A few characters are able, momentarily, to revel in the sweet lightness of being. A key example is Tomas, after Tereza leaves him alone in Zurich and returns to Prague: "Suddenly his step was much lighter. He soared. He had entered Parmenides' magic field: he was enjoying the sweet lightness of being" (1.14.7). For two days, he feels the "sweet lightness of being rise up to him out of the depths of the future" (1.15.4). For it only lasts for two days before he is "hit by a weight the likes of which he had never known" (1.15.4), namely, his compassion for Tereza.


You stated earlier that when you draw ''There is usually a confluence of emotive contexts that entangle and evolve as I work through the drawing''  ... What do you mean by that exactly ? 

MM: Well, at other times, when walking, driving or teaching and not drawing daily - then I am still thinking about that space. Obviously some places and previous encounters we experience in our early lives are very intensive and fix an impression - it may be beauty or loss - they hold you both with the same grip very often - and they can become preserved in the mind. A sort of Cryogenic memory I call it - that I can somehow defrost and re-enter that space. It is a canning of events (canonising even) like a special 'reserve'. I can go to it and take the lid off and observe. I get involved and stir it and try to engage with that sense of place or persons in the present. It is intuitive but it is difficult work. Though rooted in constant themes, these types of drawings are never that pre-planned, so the result is usually a surprise. Like all new things they are an amalgam - the sum of many parts. I dont have an audience in mind when I work. They are a form of exploration. I can't release them as songs on albums - or put them into complex dance routines so ..... so they are drawn out or written into prose etc 

These are of course my own perceptions – but interesting coincidences occur for me whilst making work and go beyond my own rational day to day understandingDespite intrepid neurological science we simply don't know as yet how the brain truly manifests consciousness. It is something that current science has yet to fathom. Diagnostic research on known phenomenas such as remote viewing or ESP etc has been intensive for years. Much of these observable phenomena are claimed by traditional science to be neurological 'pattern recognition' - or at worst as quackery - and yet perhaps it is not Twilight Zone oddity but something untapped and very capable and natural to our perceptive ability and thus atypically very 'humanist' - and ontological 'of the human' - of the 'human condition' ? 

The Scottish Lady who can detect Parkinsons disease even on undiagnosed patients via her sense of smell, is a very real and recent example of extraordinary perception. The late Dr Oliver Sachs work and his books are evidence of other beautiful rarities. There is also an excellent research duo, both Psychologists, working at Leeds Becket University on how the mind and brain perceive the material and immaterial. Extra sensory perception has been used by the establishment in many instances with success - it is not widely accepted nor reported for it is something science nor academia have empirically equated.

We are spellbound when we read Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, Joyce, Plath, Hughes, Carter or Pinter or look at a William Blake, Goya or Francis Bacon painting because they generated a sublime mythic connectivity and captured the poetics of life in an almost cryogenic freeze frame - the extraction and distillation of the Sublime and the Mythic - and through this Lens we see not only the Human and the Earthly Condition - but also the possibilities of our wider Ontology, the unknown or 'Super nature'. It is an ephemeral timescale that we have on Earth – we don't get long to work it out, all the universal Shakespearean content, trials and reward, the metaphysics of the human condition.
For me it feels negligent not to look hard at all of that matter face on, eye to eye. I can only do that through the Lens of my own experience. It is not for me to presume or visualise other people’s experiences. Ultimately much human creative investigation and expression is, I suspect, allusive of our material mortality and an inquisitive emphasis on how we live - a focus on 'being' here. .

I think the concept of our human mortality, our mortal caducity is something many of us learnt early as Children. That lesson and awareness matters in my work. I make things to explore or preserve that kind of matter, to perhaps once placate or re-balance some sort of loss or 'lack' (Lacan) - and to evidence that it mattered then and that things alter but still matter now (Not unlike the archetypal initials carved into a tree. Recorded crudely and then left out to be weathered by time and the elements). So .... ''Yes ! '' Lacan or Derrida would say ''Yes dear Mack yes, that is it ! - that is indeed what is the matter - indeed the vibrant matter with you''. 

I say what is 'Matter' exactly ? Well we are all made up of stars, Carbon, H20, amino acids etc. It goes beyond interesting! (Laughs). 

So yes, it is ultimately about engaging with this matter positively and not shying away into escapism and displacement activity. In Particle Physics the theory of 'quantum entanglement' is complex  - but I grasp the notion of two or more points in separate spheres being in contact with one another remotely or instantaneously - the lack of a 'threshold' - where a conventional notion of 'time' and distance falls away. A point where the ever present and the very faraway converge and manifest a thought or an action. Very like how osmosis occurs. It occurs in the conscious human mind all the time and happens when we think deeply or dream and when we engage in this type of creativity. Coleridge famously wrote the epic poem saga Kubla Khan more or less in his sleep after dreaming the whole tale (granted via Laudanum /Opium). There are obviously many many more sober examples. Songs Paintings Novellas Poetry etc. So a Humanist would celebrate all of this - as well as the mystic or shaman. 

There are times I prefer the drawing to take a back seat - because it can take over - but you must accept it and exercise it. If you give it a run out once a day - stretch its legs - then it will settle down by the hearth and let you get on with the other things. If I didnt teach then I dont believe I could have sustained my own work in a vacuum. Teaching enables a constant recipricol communal evaluation - discussion frames things and gives it purpose beyond the selfish act  - yes it's very sustaining and 'Humanities' students are a pleasure to work with - so it's not work really - its a warm receptive space. Precious.

How far back does memory really go in terms of atoms and DNA. There is muscle memory and what of the sub- atomic. The heart and brain - DNA memory. Can our atoms, like other birds and animals, recognise one another / communicate. 

There are incredible stories to seek out that may demonstrate this. It is accepted that when memory is recorded in the genetic material -  it is stably inherited and It becomes glued as genetic memory Therefore by definition it is a memory present prior to birth yet exists in the absence of that individuals sensory experience. It is incorporated into the genome over long spans of time' by the genomes direct ancestors. 

This is the current understanding - but this knowledge will evolve over time and surprise us all I suspect - at just how much we are influenced and directed by our genetic make up and instinct. 
A sense of de ja vu - love at first sight etc etc 

*According to Dollows Law ''an organism is unable to return, even partially, to a previous stage already realized in the ranks of its ancestors.”

However, there are very rare documented cases of 'Atavism' beyond the obvious ones like Dewclaws or vestigial tails etc. These atavisms appear to evidence that evolutionarily traits that have disappeared phenotypically do not necessarily disappear from within an organism's DNA. The gene sequence remains but is dormant and can be reawoken. The unused gene may remain deep in the genome for many generations. As long as the gene remains intact then stimulation from triggers in the genetic control suppressing the gene can lead to it being reignited and newly expressed. 

Therefore this re-ignition of a dormant gene can be applied beyond darwinian morphology to sensory thought - feelings and behaviour - Proustian thought. Our phenomenological brain sequences that sit within the particles of our genetic dna (ancestral memory, racial memory -  experience - feelings that can influence an individuals senses, thoughts and actions. Triggers enable this conflated connectivity to spark vague connectivities and one could say almost make the gene remember or reminisce.


older academic posts  - repeats from older posts 

Albertine Sarrazin, Dubbed the ‘petite saint of maverick writers’ by Patti Smith, whose life story is as intriguing as the electric prose of her cult novel, Astragal

Summer Reading: At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Astragal, by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was an enigmatic outsider who had spent time in jail and who wrote only two novels and a book of poems in her short life - she died the year before Patti found her book, at the age of twenty-nine.

K├╝nstlerroman - our roots - our biographies - mythologies 

“It’s wot’s behind me that I am… And wot a lot there is'' George Herriman - personal experience plus genetic memory ?

I grew up amidst semi rural / urban natural history - a road called 'muck road' (pictured above) but we had Red Admirals and Cuckoo Spit everywhere in June – and also lots of Skinheads – a 20th century Bronte malevolence ... and so it goes – and so we soak it up - the life and death, in sickness and in health, the ‘Birds and the Bees’, the Pond life. Early years are a different biological stage where the mind absorbs information and sensations at a far higher rate than in maturity. It is a real space that we all know – and one we all inhabit and revisit. It was a volatile but creative period in the North socially and politically – so that vital sense of place stays with you and if you are creative then it becomes a sort of seedbed, a heartland that your future stance and belief system grows from, Politically and Creatively (like the German concept of K├╝nstlerroman).  

Anthropologically the narrative belief system that we are just visiting in Earthly form - from another 'home' is an ancient worldwide custom, Native American, Gypsy, Greek, Norse, Roman - all 'seeking' and going home', be it toward an honourable afterlife or indeed home in life' if you are lucky - a form of Nirvana or Elysium. There is some of that going on in my work –mirroring psychological states - a re-aligning of things, an investigation. It is a journey, maybe full circle ? Not unlike the Salmon.

I don’t think re evaluating or re-imagining the past in the present is a retardation of growth - stuck in the past or 'pass├ęiste' as Jean Paul Sartre wrote of his friend Jean Genet . 
No, I think It is quite the opposite in this context. If you are addressing matter then it is creating new knowledge - so it cannot be 'pass├ęiste' when it is current active primary research. ''The future is in the instant'' - as it were and vice versa is a great Shakespeare quote that I cant recall. *(from Macbeth)


older posts

Question: Can sound - music - performance - stimulate people with memory loss and dementia and other complex 'shutting down' neural conditions and help to re awaken them to the pleasures of self awareness and their own sensorial and earthly history ?

Watch the film below and also get the book by Oliver Sacks ''The Man who mistook his wife for a hat '
and his book 'Awakenings' - get the book and see the DVD Film with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams ( true Story about Sacks work )

Research this work and any contemporary work in your community that you may know of or can locate. Produce a log book of visual and Aural ideas and concepts for potential workshops that you could propose for triggering memory and making people embrace new life, emotion and vigor from external stimulation.

Your recent Project X work with the Library special collections will support this project.

Watch this first please to kickstart your project -  this is the main theme 


Kate Bush CD album 'Ariel' may also help in giving you some ideas of suggestive soundscapes - and

visionary-women-who-paved-the-way-for-electronic-music - link now broken

OUTCOMES  - mainly research based but create visuals and concept visuals - montage drawing photography etc to support. The proposed possibles can be made or proposed as .....
The Spoken word, Music and the idea of SOUND as a narrative and transmitter of feeling and ideas is the key to the project -  but a VISUAL piece / object ( s) must also be included to PROP your idea and be something that can be passed around as a tactile trigger to accompany the idea
hence this will be very helpful reading also for you -  so please read it through


CONTEXTUAL *Prepare notes ( self evaluative and critical) of your summer task to go towards work for your new contextual task in September - your task will be to write an essay on this subject specifically - or on your own research into the subject -  ideally both ... OR to write an evaluation of the books and films above.

ENJOY     best wishes and see you in September   MACK ( Manning )

For the very few who were interested (in the last powerpoint lecture) here is one of the very best Poetry anthologies ever published - I've used this in my own teaching with students for a decade and half. Do go buy it if you've not got it. Published by bloodaxe , hats off to Neil Astley up by the Tyne

Reseaching archives 

2015 summer research project Level 6 

a chance to evolve your own authorial practice and celebrate your identity and voice - PLAY with visual materials,nuance and notion.

The amalgam of genuine research and playful intuitive Experimentation = strong work = good grades.  

Marsha Rowe and Rosie Boycott in the Spare Rib offices, 1972. Photograph: David Wilkerson

Updated June 5th by mm ;
2015 summer research project 

Here is your Level 5 and 6 Creative Practice research task(s)  It is optional and not assessed - but recommended for deepening your studio and contextual synthesis and knowledge. ( constellations distillation task)

Research the periodical 'SPARE RIB' (in print 1972-1993) and its social / historical 'context'. There are no anachronisms in the archive  - for it is an historical document in its own right - and a time capsule of its own 'Feminist' Zeitgeist.  (what is 'Zeitgeist' and what is an anachronism ?)

Marsha Rowe (left) and Rosie Boycott, co-founders of the feminist magazine Spare Rib, in 1972. Photograph: Sydney O'Meara/Getty Images

Regarding 'anachronisms' the archive at your disposal is not, say, a book about the Magazine with an authors view - subjective account (open to error etc) -
... It IS 'the actual magazine' itself (online) for you to research as PRIMARY material ( you are reading the contents in its time period etc )
Read through them - buy some on ebay ? dont get too bogged down by interesting theoretical issues at this stage - i.e  How has Feminism evolved or changed ? Just study the SPARE RIB archive contents and its design - the fashions and societal stance - and consider it all as a whole ? - is it  'of its time' ? and what is its relation to 'the now' ? How does it relate or not relate with today Can this set of documents trigger any visual responses and your own imagination - empathetic responses - ?  

Make intuitive visual experimental work 'inspired' by the contents and themes  - invent and make things up in response - connect your own work and ideas -  amalgamate and improvise - be playful - in 2d or 3d or both.

Take inspiration from the themes raised by the article. Hopefully you will find work in the contents that actually resonates and consolidates some of your own current thinking and ideas for creative expression - thoughts on identity and Artistic making / Societal inks etc.

very good Guardian Article here -


then study the archive in full below- be patient it takes time to LAOD up the full size pages and images 

full archive here https://journalarchives.jisc.ac.uk/britishlibrary/sparerib

very good British Library contextual bite size articles here from the main tree


Triangulate and juxtapose your research by joining up your interests with other Archives -  visit and use the SLIDE archive at MMU ( join Johns Flickr and twitter feed ) to find local images from this era that may support or juxtapose with your own thinking -  Design - colour, fashions - Politics - social tropes or trends etc?

*and then also Visit the exhibition in special collections on Art Schools and Protest for a further source of material.

This whole Task will require an genuine interest in researching text and image  - or visiting the archive - and reading through it for source material, connections and threads - then responding with visual and material experiments of your own - inspired by the connections you have made and found -  this is all stimulus for further work next term. Research the archive with patience and depth - use a good PC /Mac not a phone etc -  the British Museum / Spare Rib images take a while to load up on the archive pages;

Read Men too - read Patchen & Bukowski and Richard Brautigan - a fine punchy counter balance to the 'Oxbridge' poets ( Image of Patchen book from collection of mm)

Hard Feelings Prose and text from Spare Rib (from my collection / mm)

I highly recommended this Phaidon book;  rare /now out of print -  grab one if you source one in Hardback or softback - Editor Liz McQuiston - once my own RCA tutor:  Political Grafix from beyond europa - Poster design & much more - a superb book - I have used this book as a teaching tool for 15 years  - -  image is from my collection

two other texts I recommend are the following - again used sucessfully as curriculum texts in the past -  they are old books now but strong insights anecdotes and facts - and both very readable in a day or so - hard to put down - and both by Rosalind Miles 

Dear Level 5 / 6  I will be publishing the room number for tuesdays all day lev 5 powerpoints asap - today I'm contemplating other matters with some weekly updates and links to seminar books we discussed on Tuesday: so for follow up.

*these are the authors and books mentioned in my last semianr with level 5 -  may be of interest to some not others 
Murray Bookchin
2.  Stone tape theory ( again - yep ! this always makes an annual appearance )
some of you were asking and were curious about my talk at Birmingham City University ;  here are some of the Semiotics and Image workshop 'Metaphor and Metamorphosis" images slides content etc

 Resistance : Seminal moments : Lindsay Andersons 'IF' 

by 'ambition' - read ... 'ambition for your work' - and your autonomy as an individual - autonomy Individuality - shared, and hopefully socially minded  

real science fiction -  comets over moominland - 
'Lore' and 'making things up' - outsiders welcome 



The Rear View lens  - the future is now ? Archives;
time travel; Chris Marker and Atget :



Diane De Prima 

'zones' of magic and disbelief - merging the future and the past - Solaris & Stalker 

Stanis┼éaw Lem & Strugatsky brothers

The importance of humility over hubris  - Be Ripley -  not the above ! be for 'the good of the many' ? or just give in and own status anxiety and envy (read Alain de bottons book on status anxiety)

the importance of ones own historical palette / mythologies (  a little of mine - I used to dig Peat !)

 beauty and the beast ;   Eva Besnyo and inglorious bastards

survival .........  1930s germany and paris 
Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan WW2 and fighting National Socialism" 1930s Europe

Lee Miller in Hitlers bathtub: and in the field 

all our anthropologies 

The Primitive -   the rear view mirror - anthropology and the human as 'artefact'

more tales of the unexpected 

 'UN / Reality' and the Noumenal .... Ghosts in the machine / stone tapes - inner space outer space. Betty & Barney Hill 

 collaborations - The Kubricks, Anima and Animus
genesis p orridge and Orlan 

malevolence is not manufactured - the bogey man is us !

the child and the inner lens - the toddler mind as a brilliant spongey 'SOFT' machine - recording this and that 

Slavoj ZiZEK; possibly the best living critical thinker and speaker
( Flux magazine 2009 , illustrations by MM - editorial layout John Walsh )

this DVD is a must for anyone interested in Film and Human 'being' deconstructs the self, Hitchcock Tarkovsky and Lynch 


Stevie Smith & Basil Bunting - the voice as 'drum' 

More mythologies, felt frogs , female icons /  Euro Chic 

Changes in seeing ; feeling;  Kent Landscape  by mm 

Anecdotes: ''But who is going to protect us and will we survive ''? cold war fears , anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress in children - the danger of adrenalin  


The Holocaust as a measure -  ''it is what any serious human being always thinks about'' W.G Sebald

Art and Resilience ; R Searle

shot on location in and around the tiny village of Le Rat, in the Corr├Ęze with 
Jeanne Moreau
''Having a script written by Marguerite Duras 

based on a story by Jean Genet, The FILM Mademoiselle is seen by many as a work of art''

Anecdote:  The Exogenous and the Endogenous -  - and how we come upon things  : 

My Falmouth Lecture : The Memory and the Whistle :

Slide 1; Curlew, Snipe & Lapwing Chicks :
Life on Moors ( Mars) :

 celebration  - in the small things 


Drawing and the figure : Week 
Tutor mm
Drawing & Observation: 
Is Drawing like a Poem ? economical and 'Analogous' to Song' ?
research metaphor and analogy in visual language

Brice Marden, David Smith, Bacon

Above - Improvise on your drawings when you get them home - evolve them 

Research list - to do: search on Pinterest for
Millais drawing
Rodin drawing
Rodin Watercolour
Kiki Smith

Narrative drawing observation and seeing ones self not just the sitter:
Research : Kiki Smith, Andrew Wyeth,  

Sir John Everett Millais Slight Sketch for the painting Ophelia 1852

Above: Kiki Smith; 

below TWO drawings by RODIN

Auguste Rodin (French, 1840–1917) Graphite with wash of watercolor and gouache on cream paper; 

above; Wyeth, Baskin, Shahn, Matisse poster - see the 'interior' of figure 
and below Ned Ludd !  - and below that several pencil demos from the Tutor: (me, Mack)

Question: Do you try to create imagined worlds in your work ?

MM: Articulating any creative practice in words is never easy and yet we have to discuss it because it is such a deep and fascinating practice. I honestly find it much easier to talk about other peoples work and discuss my students work than my own output. Yet I am fascinated by the creative process which is why I love teaching this subject so much - so yes, I will happily talk about visual language and my inspirations for drawing but I will do it with my Academic hat on as that will help me be more objective. I think Cocteau was right when he said "Asking an artist to talk about his work is like asking a plant to discuss horticulture." 

To try to answer that first question. 'Do I try to create imagined worlds? I'd say no, not as such. For me, imagined worlds has certain connotations of being escapist, or 'made up' and that’s not what drawing is about for me. I think it is about engaging rather than escaping – but yes I suppose I do propose alternative realities - they are analogies and by their very nature they become quite real as material things once they exist in the world - once they are formed as it were - the drawing is the first visible materialisation of the thought - so they are not 'imaginary' but 'real' for me beyond invention. Analogy enables a slight distance from the personal nerve of things and allows more scope for irreverence and celebration - for conflated thought. Analogy and metaphor enable a  deflection from the nerve, away from the literal or over sentimantal - some theatre to frame what Pinter called Shakespeares 'wound'.

Good writers use analogy well and avoid being too close or too self-referential with too sticky a subject - it can be like glue or bad spaghetti and cling too much. I try to avoid sentimentality but I won't shy away from authentic sentiment which is different. The emigre drawings and migrant themed work in aid of unicef referenced universal families and their loss, the post-traumatic stress - how families are separated by loss and estrangement - be they migrant, emigrant, emigre or indigenous ( and this sense of displacement - this estrangement of people in society, children, families - is very close - it is known by many of us).

I was fortunate at a young age to work alongside the United Nations and Unicef. I realised then how it gave my own visual practice a socially shared context to inhabit. In other words we are not alone in the emotions we experience and although it is our own knowledge and is unique - it is also shared - and it is known or felt (by others) - even if not talked about openly by us or them - so the work you make is not just introspective - not just another navigation of the self - the work can also be communicative and be understood by others, quietly, internally. 
Drawing of course expresses thoughts and feelings too like any voice or instrument - a conduit -  a scientific and visual instrument - a way of mapping feeling and expressing strengths and vulnerabilities. A good quote from Larkin said something akin to this; 

''You must realise I’ve never had ‘ideas’ about poetry. To me it’s always been a personal, almost physical release or solution to a complex pressure of needs—wanting to create, to justify, to praise, to explain, to externalise, depending on the circumstances.”  P.Larkin

The drawings I tend to make are often quite irreverent or non-compliant toward the types of institutions that restrict people’s freedoms - one of those institutions for me personally goes beyond physical borders and is my own restriction of Linear Time ( laughs). So I like to explore this sense of past and present and merge it on one plain.  

''Every man or woman is not only him or herself ; for he or she is also the unique particular, always significant and remarkable point where the phenomena of the world intersect once and for all - and never again.''  
Hermann Hesse 1958

Some of us make our most interesting work when we are on the edge of something awkward - when the heart is up and there is something 'the matter' - an atmosphere going on inside the chest not just the head  - otherwise it can become too calculated, too logical, self-conscious and faux - or what ever you wish to call it. Too deliberate. It becomes designed. I think it's far better to be working laterally, off centre - working by heart, ....half knowing and half in the dark. I don't think you can teach it  - some people are spontaneous and trust their own intuition while others cant. Obviously as a teacher I encourage it in people. It is clearly not an appropriate efficent approach for a Surgeon or Civil Servant but for any Artist or performer who wants to interpret feeling or investigate the edges of things like a good scientist - then yes. 

The mind must also edit the 'whole' in order for us to survive the barrage that our senses endure. The common comparison of the human mind to a computer is misleading. It is far from just a processing device - nor is the heart just a pump. We know very little of the mind, especially the complexity of the brains binding factor and the hippo campus. It is of course mapped out to a point by MRI scans and the microscope but that is a technical biological insight. Neurologists do not know if the mind 'records' everything. We still have no hard proof of where memory is stored in the hippo campus. 

Jorge Luis Borges said ‘Poetry springs from something deeper; it’s beyond intelligence’ – and he’s not wrong. Analysis can kill the very nature of intuition - of what comes naturally or intuitively. The best drawings I have seen by others or that I may have made myself are often spontaneous with no initial harsh design intention - there is thought and context but no serious pre meditation or planning at the outset. This approach is usually a confluence of contexts that 'entangle' and evolve as one works the drawing toward an ending. I wont really seek to mend or adjust it afterwards for example. It just gets saved or it does not.

''I think on some level, you do your best things when you're a little off-balance, a little scared. You've got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.'' W.Dafoe