Inktober Day 12


Corstorphine Old Parish Church, Edinburgh

I stumbled across this lovely church just a couple of weeks or so ago as I walked on an errand. It became the subject of a watercolour painting that I decided to do that same weekend.

Inktober was created by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

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“Back to the Seventies” by Umberto Eco

Of course, Licoln was quoting the Gospel of Mark 3:25. I find so much of Eco interesting and have read one of his last collections, “Inventing the Enemy”. You are surely correct that much more tolerance is essential to rational discourse, especially where feelings run high over political issues.

Stuff Jeff Reads

This short essay on terrorism is included in the book Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism.

Eco begins by asserting the primary goals of terrorist activities.

What is a terrorist act usually intended to accomplish? Since a terrorist organization pursues and insurrectionary utopia, its primary aim is to prevent the establishment of any kind of agreement between the opposition and government … In the second place, terrorism aims to goad the government in power into hysterical repression, which the citizens will then find antidemocratic and unbearably dictatorial, and hence to spark an insurrection among the vast pool of “desperate proletarians or lumpenproletarians” who were only waiting for the last straw.

(Turning Back the Clock: p. 225)

When I think about how divided the US has become following the 9/11 attacks, I can only sense that the terrorists were successful. A wall is now in…

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The Chinese Restaurant in Portrush by Derek Mahon

Before the first visitor comes the spring
Softening the sharp air of the coast
In time for the first ‘invasion’.
Today the place is as it might have been,
Gentle and almost hospitable. A girl
Strides past the Northern Counties Hotel,
Light-footed, swinging a book-bag,
And the doors that were shut all winter
Against the north wind and the sea mist
Lie open to the street, where one
By one the gulls go window-shopping
And an old wolfhound dozes in the sun.

While I sit with my paper and prawn chow mein
Under a framed photograph of Hong Kong
The proprietor of the Chinese restaurant
Stands at the door as if the world were young,
Watching the first yacht hoist a sail
— An ideogram on sea-cloud – and the light
Of heaven upon the mountains of Donegal;
And whistles a little tune, dreaming of home.

Image result for Chinese restaurant

This is the third poem upon this theme following my previous posting. Notice that the place is only almost hospitable. This reservation is somehat typical of Mahon. Nevertheless there is a lovely  relaxed and informal feel about this poem and the sense that home is not entirely out of reach.

Poetry and Chinese Restaurants

It may seem niche and perhaps surprising that some great poems have been written in this context. Here is the one which carries ecclesiastical overtones:-

This interesting poem seems to be set in some town with spires and appearing in the early sixties examines the racial tensions between the conventional attitudes of the clerical customers in the slightly exotic atmosphere of the restaurant and those of the Chinese staff. Its tone is sardonic and wistful. There is a definite culture clash going on as well as some confusion over philosophies and belief systems.

I am not quite sure why the owner’s brother is burning money and the theme of incense seems to resonate throughout. Has he a drug habit or is he having to pay protection money? Both seem possible. The attitude to the Africans seems indulgent as well as racist. It is not entirely clear if it is the poet or the Archdeacon who takes this view over them. There again the eating habits of the customer’s are much disapproved by the Chinese traditionalists and authorities.

A somewhat sifferemt but related poem by D.J.Enright may be found at


Inktober Day 7

Impressive- what sort of pen or brush is being used?


Sohar Fort, Oman

I lived in Oman for a few years in the early 1970s at which time the old forts in the country had not yet been renovated. This one was at Sohar, little more than a fishing village, but strategically important for its position in the north of Oman.

Inktober was created by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavor with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year.

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Nadar: the story of a photography pioneer

Fascinating introduction to an early photographer.

Last year the Bibliothèque nationale de France organised Les Nadar, un légende photographique, an exhibition on this family of photographers (accompanying catalogue: S950.b.201.5289 featuring Paul Nadar’s portrait of Sarah Bernhardt on the cover). The most important of these was Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, photography pioneer, freelance writer and caricaturist, known by his pseudonym, Nadar. In addition, his son Paul and his half-brother Adrien Tournachon were gifted photographers.

Caricature of F. Nadar in La lune, 1867, 2015.8.2833

Félix Nadar was born in 1820 into a family of printers and booksellers in Lyon. From a young age he was an admirer of Dumas, Hugo and Balzac. He started to study medicine in Lyon but once his father died in 1837, he had to quit and moved to Paris. There he started his career as writer and caricaturist, collaborating in some journals. He frequented the Parisian bohemian scene in the Latin Quarter; where…

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Art, Literature, Poetry, Politics and a little History