Category: Collected Items

Gathering

Collected Items 28.09.13

Gathering is peculiar, because you see nothing but what you’re looking for. If you’re picking raspberries, you see only what’s red, and if you’re looking for bones you see only the white. No matter where you go, the only thing you see is bones.

Tove Jansson, The Summer Book trans. Thomas Teal (London: Sort of Books, 2003) p. 30

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The Nowaks’

Collected Items 01.08.13

I pushed open the door and, in doing so, jarred the handle of the frying pan on the stove which stood just behind it. In the tiny kitchen there was barely room for the two of us together. A stifling smell of potatoes fried in cheap margarine filled the flat.

The living room had a sloping ceiling stained with old patches of damp. It contained a big table, six chairs, a sideboard and two large double-beds. The place was so full of furniture that you had to squeeze your way into it sideways.

I descended slowly the five flights of stairs to the courtyard. The bottom of the court was clammy and dark, although the sun was shining on a cloud in the sky overhead. Broken buckets, wheels off prams and bits of bicycle tyre lay scattered about like things which have fallen down a well.

Christopher Isherwood, Goodbye To Berlin (Penguin: Harmondsworth, [1939] 1958) pp. 102-106.

Universalism

Collected Items 25.02.13

The virtue of Kandinsky’s theoretical work, the fact that it is not a dry intellectual construction but an organic and vital creation opening wide perspectives to the future, is due, in large part, to the personal qualities of the author. A free and independent spirit, he sought in a union of knowledge and concrete experience a new universalism embracing life in its entirety – daily existence, thought and feeling, the arts & the sciences – a universalism which he himself possessed to the highest degree. The spiritual life was for him an immanent reality, communicable by means of created signs (in the realm of the visual as well as of vocal language) by sounds and rhythms as well as colors, points, lines and surfaces. By means of these broad and deep conceptions of art Kandinsky tended toward a new conquest of the world. It was in this sense that he sought the essential spiritual basis of all phenomena, uniting in a creative harmony the infinitely tiny with the macrocosm. In like manner his paintings are always filled with mental vibrations, communion, meditation and ecstacies from which there well up gaiety, humour and dramatic passion. The liberation from all material causation created an irrational time and space wherein this world of spiritual forms soars aloft, and it does so in the very name of “that final unity of the human and the divine”, such as Kandinsky defined it.

Carola Giedion-Welcker, ‘Kandinsky the Theoretician’ in Wassily Kandinsky (Poligrafa: Barcelona, 2009) p. 63.

Collected Items 27.01.13

Franz said, ‘Beauty in the European sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We’ve always had an aesthetic intention and a long-range plan. That’s what enabled Western man to spend decades building a Gothic cathedral or a Renaissance piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a completely different base. It’s unintentional. It arose independent of human design, like a stalagmitic cavern. Forms which are in themselves quite ugly turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with a sudden wondrous poetry.’
Sabina said, ‘Unintentional beauty. Yes. Another way of putting it might be “beauty by mistake”. Before beauty disappears entirely from the earth, it will go on existing for a while by mistake. “Beauty by mistake” – the final phase in the history of beauty.’
[…]
Franz said, ‘Perhaps New York’s unintentional beauty is much richer and more varied than the excessively strict and composed beauty of human design. But it’s not our European beauty. It’s an alien world.’

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being trans. Michael Henry Heim (London: Faber and Faber, 1985) p. 97-98