Monthly Archives: June 2011

what makes a photograph arresting?

My son, Yeshen, shares one of my passions, photography. Here are three of my many favourites. Still life of the chair …

This is exquisitely composed, I love everything about it, the light and colours, the shadow at the right corner (it wouldn’t be the same without the shadow in the right corner), the space … it’s difficult to define what makes an image special, the best I can come up with is –  I love looking at it, I can rest in this space. I would like to have a large print of it.

This scene of a street in Vietnam has a different quality, a cyclist passing before the door and the bricks that will survive him, a fleeting moment, and again, there is something about the colour tones and the composition, the lines, that pleases the eye. Notice the light spot on the stone next to the door? not sure what it is, it could be a tiny flame, and it adds something to the whole.










Bridges are powerfully symbolic. They appears prominently in my novel ‘Course of Mirrors’. This double-arched bridge at Waverley Abbey is dowsed in beautiful light, which gives it a mysterious and dreamlike quality.







Here are two sites where Yeshen’s images appear:



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Alice Meynell

I had an evening online,  jumping from link to link, randomly hunting, then serendipitously finding, coming upon treasures, like the essays by Alice Meynell. The writer had been recommended to me by a tutor when I first studied in the UK  –  as example of good essays in English. Alice Mynell’s essays  helped me back into writing at the time – which is another essay.

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The Illusion of Historic Time

He who has survived his childhood intelligently must become conscious of something more than a change in his sense of the present and in his apprehension of the future. He must be aware of no less a thing than the destruction of the past. Its events and empires stand where they did, and the mere relation of time is as it was. But that which has fallen together, has fallen in, has fallen close, and lies in a little heap, is the past itself—time—the fact of antiquity … (direct link)

Enjoy – the general link to more essays on the right, under blogroll.

And there’s another treasure I found tonight … Writers No One Reads – check the link.

Alice is one of them, I think.


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court of splendour

If you enjoy reading, I put a sample from chapter 24 of  my novel on the excerpts page …

On reflection, I added a preamble …

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carried by rivers

behind your text your voice

lives on in spacious hearts …

while language re-assembles –

chameleon-like – to frame

the silence ’round your words –

the true pitch reverberates

with a longing so strong

it makes us shiver

in anticipation

for the unknown …

an afterthought to ‘written in water’.

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written in water

a waltz of light

tilts and elides your text

to the ever-ever stream

and the gliding waters’

swoop up your tale

from the deep

your legend rebounds

with self-same code

of a longed-for world

in a plasma of vision

undulant – pending

vowels on silver and blue

surge and splatter to rhyme

carried by the consort

of waves – to where

the sea collides with land

be it carved in sand

be it marked on white

and bound in a shell

for the pearl-diver –

or flicker across a screen –

true text is reborn …

Ashen, July 2009, in remembrance of a friend


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how my dad was attacked by a tree

Here some random thoughts, interspersed with more random thoughts as well as random quotes and random links, all to do with ideas about TRUTH and REALITY …

To start with – a piece written by my son when he was, huh, quite young, describing a true experience. He gave me permission to share it.

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On Tuesday the 3d of May 1989, at eleven o’clock, me and my dad set off to Driebergen, about 20 miles from Amsterdam. It took us 45 minutes to get there. We went to see dad’s old house and it looked still the same as when he had lived there 16 years ago. Then we drove to a tennis club, called Manger Cot’s (Cat?). Dad went to the club house to meet some of his old friends, like his tennis trainer, Bill, and his father, can’t remember the name. Then we had a look if the squash club was still there, but it wasn’t, so we had some lunch. After that we went to a music shop, and I mucked about on the drums while dad talked business with the shop keepers. Later we went into the woods and walked about.

On the way back, dad was brutally attacked by a TREEbrandishing a knife stained with blood from its previous victim. Dad fell over and when he got up he looked like Frankenstein with a massive cut down his forehead and blood dripping all over the place.

Dad said it didn’t hurt, but we still went to Peter’s house (a friend of my dad) to wash off the blood. But Peter wasn’t there, and neither was his wife. So we had to walk back to the car and drive to the music shop to clean up the wound. Then the shopkeeper said he knew where there was a surgery, so we went there. When we got there, dad went in to see the doctor, and I waited outside in the lobby. Dad came out with three stitches in his forehead and a big plaster over it.

By Yeshen

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The etymology of the word TRUTH indicates – good faith, fidelity, sincerity, veracity – and agreement of fact or reality. TRUTH has been subjected to many theories and definitions, here are some of them:

1        Correspondence Theory: In the words of Thomas Aquinas, ‘Truth is the equation of things and intellect.’

2        Coherence Theory: Truth is only what is coherent with the whole system.

3        Constructive Theory: Perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent to convention, human perception and social experience, in other words, every truth is socially constructed.

4        Consensus Theory: Whatever is agreed upon …

5        Pragmatic Theory: Truth is verified and confirmed by the results of putting one’s     concept into practice. It is self-corrective over time.

6        Kierkegaard says – ‘Objective truths are final and static. Subjective truths are continuing and dynamic.’

7        Nietzsche thought untruth is better than truth if it has life-enhancement as consequence.

8        Fromm held Truth to be a functional approximation of reality.

9        Foucault refers to ‘Regimes of Truth’ that shift constantly throughout history.

10    Baudrillard: The simulacrum is true because it conceals that there is no truth.

11    Lao Tzu: Words of truth are always paradoxical.

12   A mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan, expressed TRUTH like this: Those who see the truth uncovered, abandon reason and logic, good and bad, high and low, new and old … As water in a fountain flows in one stream but falls in many drops, divided by time and space, so are the revelations of the one stream of truth. Not everyone can comprehend the idea of different truths being derived from one truth. Common sense has been so narrowly trained in this world of variety that it naturally fails to realize the breadth and subtlety of a spiritual fact so far beyond the reach of its limited reasoning.

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the view from my desk

Check out my EXCERPTS page occasionally. I frequently replace sections of my novel there.

Today, the beginning of chapter 16 – The Island


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tiny buddha’s lot

I’m in editing mode, but since I see him when I look across my screen, I’ll spare a thought on my faithful friend.

He’s been around a while. In Somerset, he made friends with young Suzuki …

In Surrey, he has been on the same prominent spot for over two decades, watched many seasons go round … 

during which he surrendered many of his finer features to the environment, shrunk his belly, and experienced some indignities …

not just from Jetty, but from Robins, Warblers, Starlings, Blackbirds and even the occasional Wood pigeon, who all use his head as a way station on their rounds through the garden.

During the last two years he grew a coat and a beard of lichen to make up for his decreasing substance, and the question arises, should he be shaved?   

Your advice is welcome.


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doing the irregular

A week of challenges, adventures, doing the irregular – attempts to stall sending out queries for my novel, or necessary diversions from too much screen-gazing? I hadn’t taken my car into the UK metropolis for years. Mission accomplished. I visited my son, his partner, and friends across London, enticed out of my comfort zone – days of inspiration.

Saturday – last-minute-decision to honour a birthday-party-invitation. I accept a friend’s lift through the rolling green hills of Surrey and Sussex– to Brighton.

*    *    *    *   random thoughts – collective words – joie de vivre   *    *    *   *

I remember her dancing Kathak on the terrace, bells on her ankles, like that …

Moving from one eternal hug to another, age is not

We’ll work and create ‘till we drop

And the birthday girl, bouncy, colourful, happy

Senegal drums in her heels – age is never, rhythm is ever

A whirling mover, therapist, shaker …

Her achievements are implicit – she is too busy to dwell on them

Glamorous daughter – back from choreographing the USA

Over there – a strange glance – is it dark – is it not?
Kiss of peace – be there such a thing – it takes two

Escape from loud acoustics to the pub garden

We challenge each other to random words

… lipstick light shines over rails …

… birds nest – friends talk – missing syllables …

… under blossoms – look behind – plastic – not classic …

… far too much – smoking seat – pink trailers – smoking …

… pink planks going in the mind …

… I think a Haiku comes later …

The birthday girl’s neighbour does Shiatsu and astrology

And her friend plans or dreams to write a book

Beware of the monstrous light – out of place

Salvaged from a railway hall – it hangs on a tiny hook

Best not stand under it …

Chequered shirts are the craze in town

We glimpse the pier and past grandeur – the royal pavilion

Onwards home through the night and shiny lights …

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