Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rock Concert (and Other Animals)

The inside of Signs Cottage is about to have a white lick of paint. Not so much a facelift as a cheap, damage-limitation makeover.  For this reason, and others which I am not yet at liberty to disclose, serious de-cluttering is happening here.  Or not.  Because how do you throw out a perfectly good stone with a cluster of smaller stones glued onto it that someone once called a Rock Concert and gave you as a present, and it sat on the window ledge above the kitchen sink of wherever you were living for forty years or so?  It is has neither use nor beauty, but the stones have eyes that look at you and remind you of the person you once were and still (in a sense) are, even if you have forgotten the name of the person who gave it to you (I think she was called Lindy, and she moved to Australia). 

And what to do with the toy dog your son brought back from some local fairground, where he either won it at a stall or was given it as a consolation prize?  Such a cheap, synthetic apology of a thing, it ought never to have been brought into existence in the first place.  But exist it does, with a kind of transcendent optimism in its bearing and expression that declares its complete freedom from all pragmatic considerations or aesthetic sensibilities – and it too has eyes and looks at me.  It is hard to throw away anything with eyes. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easier to lose people than these inanimate Things.  With people you can do it casually, haphazardly, gradually.  You don’t have to put them into a black plastic bin bag, (and if that is what you do with people then obviously you are not the kind of person I want to have dealings with).  You can say, I’ll call you, let’s meet up some time, and then just let it not happen.  You can even say, I don’t love you any more, and know that whoever it is will still be out there somewhere, living their lives.  If I throw these things away they will simply cease to be because they depend on me for their existence. 

I know what you are thinking:  they are just things, and as such have no feelings.  In which case, you have never read The Velveteen Rabbit, who was made real by virtue of human love. It’s a children’s story, but no less true for that.  Perhaps it would be overstating things to say that I love these two things, but we are (it seems) in relationship.  And this complicates things.  


Pants said...

Oh yeah, Signs, The Velveteen Rabbit and let's not forget Toy Story 3. I agree - it's not possible to throw away something with eyes and toys are totally taboo.



Reading the Signs said...

I'm glad you think so, Pants. I haven't yet seen Toy Story 3 - will remedy this.

Fire Bird said...

you're not moving are you? but anyway... rock concert made me smile, but I can see it probably needs to go...

Fire Bird said...

or maybe not...

Reading the Signs said...

Finger on nose, Fire Bird, finger on nose - not moving. Yet.

And yes, the rock concert really should go, but ...

Montag said...

I agree; very difficult to jettison toys that look at you.
Also religious objects. Sort of do a Pascal's wager and keep the old things, lest some saints get their noses out of joint.

Reading the Signs said...

I had to look up Pascal's wager, Montag :) Trying to think if I have any religious objects: a little Buddha and a wooden cross is all, I think. Won't be throwing those out.

roselle said...

Somewhere there will be people who will LOVE your Things With Eyes. Give them a chance! Oxfam??

And as for VR – oh yes :-) xx

Reading the Signs said...

I don't think Oxfam would welcome them, Roselle - seriously, no-one is going to pay money for them. I am the only one who, as it were, KNOWS them. Not quite in the biblical sense of the word, but you know - that thing where once there was just matter and then there is the heart of the matter (a vision thereof). Shut up, me.

Nice to see you here x

Anna MR said...

"…where once there was just matter and then there is the heart of the matter…"

Spoken like the words of a true poet, Schwesterleinchen, which, of course, doesn't surprise your readership one iota, given that we all know you are a true poet. Incidentally, is there some oddball way of telling a true poet (apart from her words, her lifestyle, her gaze, and so on – and "his", too, of course, not implying poethood is a characteristic given only to female people)? I mean, like with princesses, beds, and peas – ye ken? Maybe you put a grub under their mattress, and at night, dream creatures with translucently glowing wings hatch, or sometimes, frighteningly beautiful grotesque creatures only to be seen with the mind's eye, or, I don't know. You, however, should know, and I believe you do. What do you put under your mattress? Tell us now, describe this litmus test of poethood.

As for throwing things away: yes. Too difficult, and morally wrong, besides, surely. Not things with eyes. Or, as it happens, without eyes either: my older son had a teddy bear, one amongst many, whom he didn't even love as dearly as many others, who had no eyes. He was called Homer (blind, see? Oh, so cultural, we were, in those days, although not). I have no idea what has happened to him – my life being the ridiculous patchwork that it is – but I surely hope I've never ditched him in some godawful bin (shudder). Let's say things with faces?

Has summer arrived to Chez Signs and the magic forest that doth surround it?


Reading the Signs said...

Ach, da bist du, Schwes! (Fanfare of Welcome in House of Signs). And cutting straight to the chase - you want to know what I put under my mattress. But someone else would have to do that because if it's a real test then I wouldn't know about it beforehand. Now you come to mention it, I suspect a number of things have been put under it. This would explain a lot of strange things. But the real question you must ask of a poet-suspect is: do you drive? Because (and I say this as someone who for a number of years organised poetry conferences and was therefore involved in how poets travelled from a to b) most of them don't. This is absolutely true. I do, which does throw up a bit of a question about the trueness of me (as poet), though with words all things are possible.

Summer has been and (for the moment) gone again.

May; and already
it’s autumn: broken gold
and crimson in the medieval
beechwoods, where our shadows come and go
(John Burnside)

But just now I am residing in planet Brighton, where there is a lot of sky and the festival is happening.

Mwah! x

Anna MR said...

Ah, planet Brighton! And I've got to say it must be the most magnificent please-prove-you're-not-a-robot picture so far, clearly from some fantabulous late-1800s-early-1900s town residence of someone like (e.g.) Vladimir Nabokov (before his exile from the commies) (I am allowed to say commies, being as I am highly left-wing, and having true red commies in my ancestry. So no need to get worried). Somehow, this olde worlde grande handsomeness (but beautiful rather than pompous) seems to go well with Planet Brighton, at the moment, in my mind. By the way, blogger has ruined the experience of posting a picture of something somewhere secret, thus creating a URL for the picture, then using the URL as your footprint to send here. I know this, because I just went through the whole fuss of trying to do so (so you could see the very grand 55 with stucco curlicues around it, the non-robot proof thing above mentioned). Bastards. It used to be fun to do that.

Fucking lovely poem, by the way. A True Poet can also be distinguished from fake phoneys by the impeccability of their poetic/general literary tastes. I have lived in a beechwood for four years, when my children were born, and have a very special love for them, and those few words nail the experience. Magic.

Und ja, hier bin ich, Schwesterleinchen. It has been a Spring of Unusual and Unique Things, but they've ended well (and those things that aren't well, never will be – see Mater situation), and I'm slowly attempting to come up for air in the Real World (here being more real than in many other places). That Thing that I was writing went well, in the end, although I gave it the fond nickname of Bearshit (karhunpaska), given the distinct resemblance of my writing to the said thing. Details upon request.

Hate to say, but we are in the abject throes of a heat wave. It is +35° in the little, um, I don't know what to call it; conservatory is waaaaaay too grand a word for the little sit-around-if-you-wanna mutli-windowed roomlike thing that one enters the (highly dilapidated yet romantic) cottage (which you've seen before) through. I am working 50% for my professor (NB I have a professor - not in the carnal sense, I hasten to add, but in the work-further study-research sense), so I feel that as I've slaved eight-hour days last week, I am fully entitled to three days off this week. Happily, he cares not a rat's ass, cares not a fig when I do the work we are involved with, long as I do it. Major hurrah. So yes, I'm here with Ms Dogot, digging in the garden like buggery (ha! That was quite funny, no?) and bumping into badgers in the woods (mistook one legging towards me at full speed for Ms Dogot, whom I'd just called with a sharp whistle. Magic). Sauna in a bit. It's good.

I drive. Although haven't for the longest while, which needs changing. But then I never was a poet, but now, I'm A Behavioural Scientist. Ha!

I've missed you a big huge bunch, Signs. So just watch it.


Montag said...

My mother has some ancient blessed palms - possibly bulrushes from the Nile - which she cannot figure out how to dispose of.

Jettisoning into a wastebasket seem lèse-majesté with respect to the Godhead.

She has the same problem with national flags.

'tis I – yer Schwessie said...

A video says a thousand words.



Reading the Signs said...



Montag said...

I have to assume that volume of prose and poetry is finished.

Mine languishes in the inhospitable garret of my mind.

Reading the Signs said...

Which volume would that be, Montag? I have many unfinished volumes. The current one, though, has broken through the 40,000 word barrier. I don't know why this should feel auspicious. But it does. If your garret feels inhospitable, give it a good once-over with a solution of bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar :) x

Zhoen said...

Just stopped by, and I missed your post for eight months. Oops.

Glad you are still around, hope you are well.

Montag said...

Once again we are at a hiatus.
Therefore, I think we shall start a story, for it was here, I think. that Polidori, the two Shelleys, and Byron told their unusual crowd-tale of UFOs...

It was a dark and stormy night...


Reading the Signs said...

Montag! Ach, Polidori and the Shelleys have done a runner - and I am now living by the sea (keeping an eye out for Percy, you can be sure). After a whole year, it is probably time for a new blog post, isn't it? I will pen one anon. I hope this May season finds you well. Here in Blighty we are mostly getting our heads around the results of the recent general election, which we are mostly not happy about. But on we go.


Di said...

Just found your blog although i see you have not posted since last year, hope you are ok? or ok as you can be. I found you after my daughter shared a post on FB about ME your daughter wrote and sent it to me.She said that was her and you are me, so to speak.
I have ME too and just wanted to pop by and say how so much that i have read here and your daughters post so rings true!
Anyhow hope you get this post, i use my art as therapy and have a card blog thats why i am able to post. I am a moderate sufferer and have had ME 10 years, i keep hoping oneday i will be back to myself again but i think i can safely say after 10 years thats not going to happen.

KInd regards

Reading the Signs said...

Hello Di - thanks for the comment. I'm glad that you found things that resonated here. Haven't posted for a while, but may take it up again at some point. Best of luck in managing this difficult illness.

Montag said...

Hi, Signs.

Thank for the contact a month ago. I was in the middle of... let me see, what shall I say? I was in the middle of... work, family, health?
No. I was in the middle of ignoring people.
Sorry I did not respond earlier.

Since you retired from blog activity, I haven't communicated with anyone who knows who Flinders Petrie was. I have discovered that it is a really big deal to talk to people who share enough curiosity about the world that they inform themselves about it.
I have talked with people (in the USA) who were not familiar with Clarence Darrow and the Leopold and Loeb trial of the 1920s, and whose eyes barely had a glimmer of recognition when Nietzsche was mentioned.
This was all in relation to Woody Allen's newest film, "Irrational Man", but I admit I had a jump on matters since I had read William Barrett's book with the eponymous title about 50 years ago, and actually dug it out of the archives 30 minutes before going to see the film.

So, I am thinking about an essay on The Enlightenment, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Woody Allen's characterization of the Irrational Man in the present age, which I may dub The Unenlightenment. (There... my post for today has been discovered!)

I think I may be able to work Sir Flinders Petrie in there somewhere.

Montag said...

email me at
as it shows somewhere in the comment page, not so sure about the profile page.

Of course, if you email me, you discover how humdrum and tedious I am, but such is life.

And of further course, I have been known to go for eons not looking at my emails.

I just recently received an iPhone. I have had it for a five week period and have used about 600 MB of data, and spoken to no one except my wife on it. Oh, One friend called.

Big on texting since it takes so little personal commitment...

As a friend once said: Necessity is the Mother of Conversation.

by the way, I am having some trouble sending this. The robot-turing-test-thingie is spinning endlessly...

Montag said...

Boy, I never had a post that had 25 comments!
(I think you had one with even more a couple of years ago.)

I was going through some things, and I noticed that one of replies to a comment (not yours) generated a delivery failure notice. That was 2 days after your comment. There may have been problems.

I think you

Montag said...

I just looked at my email, and I have a delivery failure notice today at 6:24 PM EST.

It is to a googlemail account, so I assume it is an email account of yours where a copy of the comments are sent.
You may have closed the account yourself, maybe not.

Just reporting in.

Montag said...

Call me.

Montag said...

No response.....

I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Only good things to you, Signs.

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