Leonora Carrington – Top 10 Quotes

1. “Military people never seem to apologize for killing each other yet novelists feel ashamed for writing some nice inert paper book that is not certain to be read by anybody.”


2. “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats.”
The Hearing Trumpet


 

3. “Do you believe, she went on, that the past dies?
Yes, said Margaret. Yes, if the present cuts its throat.”
The Seventh Horse And Other Tales


 

4. Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 16.16.12

5. “One has to be careful what one takes when one goes away forever.”
The Hearing Trumpet


 

6. “The task of the right eye is to peer into the telescope, while the left eye peers into the microscope.”


7. “I do miss England. Well, I miss the idea of England, I think. But I haven’t been back for years. I probably just miss the past.”


8. “There are things that are not sayable. That’s why we have art.”

9. “I do not know of any religion that does not declare women to be feeble-minded, unclean, generally inferior creatures to males, although most Humans assume that we are the cream of all species. Women, alas; but thank God, Homo Sapiens! Most of us, I hope, are now aware that a woman should not have to demand Rights. The Rights were there from the beginning; they must be Taken Back Again, including the Mysteries which were ours and which were violated, stolen or destroyed, leaving us with the thankless hope of pleasing a male animal, probably of one’s own species.”


10. “I had no idea what maternal instinct was until I had my children.”

The Wednesday Painting – Horses

This week’s Wednesday Painting is my own Horses. I hope you like it!

horses

Ink on canvas. 2016. People and horses from the past are returning to me and I speak of it to you over those closest to me. People under the sea can find each other and be happy.

This painting is based on a drawing that I created a couple of years ago. The original drawing was made using chance operations.

jay10

The original drawing. Artist pens on watercolour paper.

The Diaries of Sun City – A Short Story

Dear Diary,

Hello. It is Monday. I live in Sun City. Sun City is a city that is entirely contained inside an enormous concrete building in the shape of a sun. Its rays house our living quarters; its circular centre is where we work and shop. No one has ever been outside of the city; it is generally suspected that the environment outside of the city is uninhabitable.

People write diaries for a particular reason here, where our social etiquette is constricting. Diaries are so popular that they have their own shop. The shop is called ‘We Are Diaries’. I have not owned a diary until now. The idea of placing my most secret, most sacred feelings out in the world terrifies me but today I bought a small, black book with blank, white pages and the word ‘Diary’ embossed on its cover.

I walked from the shop and through the city centre with the diary in my pocket and caught the bus that runs up and down the concrete ray that houses my apartment.  My apartment is at the very end of the concrete ray.

Inside my apartment, I sat facing the far wall. I lay the diary on my lap, opened it at the first page, then began to write in it with pen and ink.

Why can I not tell Miss Baraclough that I care for her? It would be wrong to of course, inappropriate. She would be offended, that would be expected of her. Reluctantly, her associates would be obliged to sever their relations with me; my associates would be informed and forced to sever their relations with me also. I would feel ashamed because it would be expected of me. Yet I would not feel ashamed when talking to you dear Diary; I would be proud. But I cannot say it to her so this ink is wasted.

 

Dear Diary,

It is Tuesday. Despite my dismissal of its worth, I have decided to write to you again. When I opened the diary this evening I discovered the first page to be blank! My memory of writing on the page is clear. Is my memory lying to me?

 

Dear Diary,

It is Wednesday. When I opened the diary this evening the first page was blank again. Is the ink fading? I am scared. Imagine saying that to a colleague. ‘Mr Barton, I am scared.’ Imagine his horror, his embarrassment, his contempt. Tomorrow, I will whisper it to his back.

 

Dear Diary,

It is Thursday. When I opened the diary this evening, the first page was blank again. I decided to count the pages. I counted 362. The pages are disappearing. Someone must be stealing the pages. I have begun constructing elaborate scenarios from my suspicions. Who would want to know my secret thoughts? But had I not once wished to see inside Miss Baraclough’s diary? If I had spied it when visiting her in her apartment and she had briefly left the room to make a cup of tea, would I not have been tempted to steal a glance at a few words? From this confession, dear Diary, I deduce that the pages could have been stolen by absolutely anyone.

I expect that by tomorrow evening this page will also have disappeared.

 

Dear Diary,

It is Friday. I was right; the page has gone. Today, on the bus, I wanted to shout obscenities and bare myself to the other passengers. My confessions to you, dear Diary, are becoming more honest with the thought that they are being read. I am no longer scared of my words being seen because they are evidently being read by someone who welcomes them, who needs them. But I am fantasising.  My door is bolted from the inside at night and there are no windows in my apartment. How then are the pages disappearing? Am I destroying them myself in my sleep?  Is there a part of me that abhors these words, that would rather I was a perfect citizen with no feelings that need to be hidden? I will stay at Miss Baraclough’s tonight.

 

Dear Diary,

It is Saturday. The page has gone. The ‘We Are Diaries’ shop is wrong; they are not diaries. I do not write to them and it is not this book that I am writing to either. I am not addressing these paper pages or their cardboard cover. Dear Diary, who are you?

 

Dear Diary,

It is Sunday. I want to leave the city. What is outside of the city? Is that where you reside? Do you have a throne on the other side of the world?

 

Dear Diary,

It is Monday. I am hammering a chisel into the far wall of my apartment, the end of the concrete ray. Bang follows bang with no lessening of passion. My desire grows as my energy fades. Bang. Bang. It falls away in chunks.

I can see a little light that grows.

The hole is big enough to crawl through.

I crawl through.

It is so bright! The ground is covered in pages, knee deep, for as far as I can see. White pages covered in writing in different hands lay naked, exposed, pressed against one another. It is overwhelming. I wade through them.

I walk in a straight line all day, bewildered but purposeful, towards Diary’s throne.

In the distance I can see other people. They are also wading through the pages, striding from every direction towards the same destination, fearless, with nothing to lose. Could it be that everyone has broken through their respective concrete rays at the same time and for the same reason as I?

When we reach a distance where Diary’s throne should be in sight, we all realise that it is not there, and that it is not the throne that we are walking towards but each other.

The air is full of unrestricted speech.

We now no longer live inside the sun but are illuminated by it.

Now we become the throne.

Now we are Diary.

 

 

Copyright © 2014 Mike Russell. All Rights Reserved.

The Picture in the House – H. P. Lovecraft

debry

I decided to start my weekend by reading H. P. Lovecraft’s The Picture in the House, one of his shortest shorts. It’s a great little story which plays with one of society’s greatest fears… not just being killed, but what will happen to your body once your spirit has gone? It’s always fascinated me that people will dwell on this to such an extent.

Above is the page from Thomas Huxley’s Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature, which features heavily in The Picture in the House and describes the Anziques as cannibals, although Lovecraft references Pigafetta’s Regnum Congo. The engraving is by Theodor de Bry and is apparently not even close to being one of his most disturbing images (see heading picture). His interesting and indeed creepy work has been reproduced many times since the 16th century.

They have shambles for human flesh, as we have of animals, even eating the enemies they have killed in battle, and selling their slaves if they can get a good price for them; if not, they give them to the butcher, who cuts them in pieces, and then sells them to be roasted or boiled. It is a remarkable fact in the history of this people, that any who are tired of life, or wish to prove themselves brave and courageous, esteem it great honour to expose themselves to death by an act which shall show their contempt for life. Thus they offer themselves for slaughter, and as the faithful vassals of princes, wishing to do them service, not only give themselves to be eaten, but their slaves also, when fattened, are killed and eaten. It is true many nations eat human flesh, as in the East Indies, Brazil, and elsewhere, but to devour the flesh of their own enemies, friends, subjects, and even relations, is a thing without example, except amongst the Anzichi tribes. 

– from Chapter 5 of Regnum Congo

Today, the Anziques are known to be called the BaTeke and the claims of cannibalism are in some considerable doubt.

Anyway, back to The Picture in the House!

In the doorway stood a person of such singular appearance that I should have exclaimed aloud but for the restraints of good breeding.

-from The Picture in the House

Throughout the story I am amused by the snobbery of the narrator, commenting on his own “good breeding” and becoming seemingly bored by the old man once he realises that he possesses a child-like intelligence.

I’ve said before on this blog that I like a horror story which reaches the senses. My favourite parts of The Picture in the House are those which describe the surroundings, making me feel as though I can touch and smell the walls, books and other objects surrounding the narrator.

Inside was a little vestibule with walls from which the plaster was falling, and through the doorway came a faint but peculiarly hateful odour.

I love to be in an old building where the slightest touch causes bits to crumble from the wall, and smell is always my favourite sense to read. If anyone knows of a book or essay in which the portrayal of odour in fiction is discussed, please leave a comment! I must admit that I haven’t yet searched for it myself.

This 2009 well-made amateur film is a fun adaptation of the story and was an official selection of the American H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival of the same year. It’s nice to see short stories kept short when put on the screen and they’ve managed to produce an excellent, effective old-film feel. An Indie film for an originally Indie author!

10 Short Stories challenge – day 5

Today I read Ghost Q & A by Anne Carson. This is listed as a poem but I think it can be considered a short story too. I love it whatever it is.

Ghost Q & A is exactly as it sounds, a long question and answer session between a living person and a ghost. It reminded me of John Cage’s chance writing, or the automatic writing of the Surrealists. It’s funny, sweet, a little sad and sometimes confusing (in a good way). Here’s a little extract:

Q do you see people can you see me

A if you close your eyes

Q what about moods

A the edges are freezing”

I also stumbled across this beautiful quote from Carson:

“Eros is an issue of boundaries. He exists because certain boundaries do. In the interval between reach and grasp, between glance and counterglance, between ‘I love you’ and ‘I love you too,’ the absent presence of desire comes alive. But the boundaries of time and glance and I love you are only aftershocks of the main, inevitable boundary that creates Eros: the boundary of flesh and self between you and me. And it is only, suddenly, at the moment when I would dissolve that boundary, I realize I never can.”
Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet (1998)
I think I may have to buy this...
I think I may have to buy this…
 I read Ghost Q & A over at This is a Public SpaceGo and have a read and come back to tell me what you think in the comments.x