April 27, 2010
April 20, 2010
SIGNS AND WONDERS?
If the ancients who saw archers, twins, lions, virgins etc. in the random alignment of stars could have had our technology, what would they have made of this picture (from BBC news) of the volcanic ash cloud travelling across northern skies?
Depending on your point of view, it's either a Disney cartoon dragon, one of the monsters described in the Apocalypse or, well, um, a volcanic ash cloud moving across Europe and beyond.
April 18, 2010
Unless you live on Mars, and even then, you can't have missed seeing this intriguingly complicated word all over the news in the past few days. Apparently its correct pronunciation is something like AYA FYATIA JO KUTLL but I prefer looking at the word and trying out the many ways it could be enunciated. You can see some videos of the actual sound and fury behind that name here. What I find both hypnotically fascinating and frightening is the way the volcano is slowly pushing a thick, smelly amorphous body out of its crater, shooting lethal glassy particles of shattered rock high up into the stratosphere like some gigantic cosmic fart.
It's been sunny over here in the past few days, but there's a gritty greyish cast over the blue sky, as if it was overlaid with one of those finely dotted screens used in printing half-tone reproductions. I may be chicken but I'm reluctant to go out at all - I'd rather be chicken than having my lungs coated in Eyjafjallajökull's sinister effluvia, even though the experts are saying 'Don't Worry' as usual.
The reason for my latest absence from blogging has not been The Ash Cloud but the very welcome presence of my 11 year-old grand-nephew who stayed with me for the past week while his father attended a medical congress in London. But The Cloud did seriously affect their departure back to Rome, with all flights cancelled and every other method of transport fully booked. They managed to catch the Eurostar to Paris, stayed overnight, then found that the current French rail strike, plus the vast number of people whose flights were cancelled meant that it was impossible to buy tickets. Someone advised them to get on a train to Milan without tickets and just hope for the best. That's what they did, along with hundreds of other people who had the same idea, fighting to climb on board. They sat on their luggage in an airless corridor, carriages bursting with exhausted and irritable passengers, stayed overnight in Milan then got another train to Rome, and home at last. No doubt their odyssey was easier than that of innumerable people with far more complicated journeys.
Makes you think about how easily all our habits and certainties can be overturned in the blink of an eye, not only with man-made disasters such as war, but with nature's own unpredictable, and predictable, mischief.
Okay, this is not realistic. I tried to give the ash cloud a sort of intestinal look. I drew it with an amazing online sketching app called Harmony that the brilliant Walt, alias Crackskull Bob, has been brilliantly playing with. Beware! You'll be tempted to spend hours, days, weeks, months, fooling around with the options this clever software gives you.
April 4, 2010
Those of you who are regulars here and who followed the God Interviews will know that I am a believer but also that where religion is concerned, I do it my way. I admit this sounds arrogant but I'm willing to be humbled anytime. The Catholic schools I attended gave me familiarity with Catholic tradition but never marked me as deeply as the sound of my father's voice praying quietly and passionately, alone behind his bedroom door. Possibly this was what shaped my conviction that a direct, open-hearted, self-stripping conversation with God is the only religion I can practice.
Wherever it takes place - alone in a room or in a field, in a cathedral, a mosque, a synagogue, or on the street - that one-to-one dialogue between the human and the Divine is the essence of faith as I understand it. All the arguments pro and con religion are swept aside when that most intimate of connections takes place and - sorry for the cliché - you just know it's real. My culture has given Christian form to my belief and it's the basic teachings of Jesus which I find most inspiring, preferably without the Church's interpretations and adornments.
Many years ago, I did thirteen pared-down ink drawings on the life of Jesus. Here are five of them. Sad to say, I don't think I could do better now.
April 3, 2010
GOOD FRIDAY THANKS TO DEAR DEPARTED
Yesterday seemed a good day to remember and honour loved ones who are no longer here. I am forever grateful to them for being in my life, for long or short times, and I want to say to their absent souls that I am sincerely sorry for not thanking them more often and I am sorry too for not giving them more of myself and not asking them more questions about themselves while they were still around.
Thank you (left to right) Sacha and Blanche, my parents; Gerardo, my brother-in-law; Alex, my cousin; Vlad, my uncle; Jacques, my uncle (apologies for the badly remembered profile); Nenette, my aunt; Alice, my aunt; Juliette, my grandmother; Constant, my grandfather; Baboushka and Diedouchka; Reg, Pat, Roy, Ted, Peg, Alexis, Michel and Suzanne, Mircea, Bernard, Mary, Decherd, and to all those whose names I may have neglected or forgotten to include but who are nevertheless recorded and preserved in the tangible and intangible matter which is who I am. May they rest in peace and when they get up from their rest, fly about with all the joie de vivre they had in this life and none of its sadness.