August 28, 2005


We need to sort something out. Go there now.

Thanks to all those encouraging comments we had, there's no stopping the divine conversations now. I may as well go with this flow even if it does temporarily push the gnovel aside.

I'm thinking that maybe, when we've done about twenty interviews, instead of waiting and waiting to hear back from reluctant publishers, we should just go for a trial run of print-on demand. The big publishers can come running after us after they see what a hit we will be independently. I've been there, done that self-publishing lark in the past and I'm not keen on it. But has an interesting and different set-up which I've been looking into. I'll report back with my analysis of the possibilities.

Meanwhile, this report posted at Jonah's should not be missed. It's a first-hand account by George Wallace, a writer, of his decision to visit Cindy Sheehan's encampment at Crawford, Texas. She, and others like our own Brian Haw, may well prove to be the Davids who bring down Goliath.


August 22, 2005


Go see it now. It's over here. You can comment there as well. It's a big one so if you don't have broadband please wait. It's worth it. It kept me up for four or is it five days and nights? It must have been powerful because the internet service in the entire neighbourhood went down last night and has only just come back on.

By the way, if anyone would like me to notify them by email when a new interview is posted, send me an email.


August 18, 2005


Quiet please.

Wait a bit longer while we trash this out.

BTW, if you should happen to GOOGLE "God interview",
none of that
other stuff

is anything
to do with us.
The only genuine article can be found right here.


August 17, 2005



August 15, 2005


Giant table & chair in park.

A stroll in Parliament Fields - part of the huge expanse of Hampstead Heath and a short walk from where I live - revealed this strangely wonderful installation called The Writer, by Italian sculptor Giancarlo Neri. He said it's a "monument to the loneliness of writing". Not a beautiful object in itself but the effect of seeing it in those surroundings is magical. I think it's meant for a larger than life writer intent on producing the biggest blockbuster ever.

All lovers of the small and beautiful should go and visit Kim's place. It's alive with the sight, if not the sound, of the music of tiny inhabitants of the insect world. Plus it's got Kim's squiggly line drawings, a coded shortand for his thoughts. This is not a man of many words but he speaks with his eyes (even if they are behind dark glasses).


Giancarlo Neri sculpture, "The Writer".

(Photos © Natalie d'Arbeloff August 2005. Sculpture by Giancarlo Neri).

August 13, 2005

GABRIEL AND GOD are now here.

What is wrong with the world?

More to look at while you wait.


August 12, 2005


Small philosophy.Now that I'm going to be disciplined and focused and motivated to work on the gnovel, thanks to all the brilliant advice received in comments, I thought I should reward you all by unveiling Philosophy, one of the original Gabriel Books. The fact that it has taken me nearly all day to dig it out of oblivion, scan it, arrange it, and ponder the possibility of posting all the others, thus creating yet another distraction from my goal, is neither here nor there. I am very fond of these old (very old) Gabriel Books and you must admit the angel looks a lot like me. God in that early version isn't as charming as my recent model but the Devil does have some good lines. This does not mean that I'm avoiding getting on with God Interview No.13. That's definitely on the agenda. Please take a seat in the waiting room.


August 9, 2005


I am constantly, stupidly furious with myself for not working on the gnovel though I really truly madly deeply sincerely want to finish it. Instead I work really long hours, sometimes all night, on composing blogs in my head or onscreen and/or on reading blogs. The first thing I do when I get up (late, because of another sleep-free night) is to turn on the computer. So I'm not actually wasting time: I'm working. Just not on the right thing. And that's when it struck me with lightning force:

Playing with shadows.If I can be compulsive about blogging why can't I be compulsive about gnovelling?

Then it struck me again, with even greater force:

Why not blog only about writing/drawing the gnovel so that I can be compulsive and get it done at the same time?

This was such a brilliant insight that I couldn't believe it came from me.

Then I started seeing objections:

a) I'd be giving it all away online for free when the plan is that it should make me more or less rich and more than nearly famous?

b) Unscrupulous scurrilous people might steal it, piece by piece?

c) Potential publishers might be put off by my exposing the golden goose before it's hatched?

d) Could I work with the proper gravitas, severitas, oomphitas and demitasse in the full glare of public bloglight?

e) Wouldn't I be neglecting all the other topics I could/should be blogging about?

Help!!! I need help to decide. Could anyone, every one who passes by here please take a moment (if you've never been there before) to check out the few pages of the gnovel I've posted and then come back here and cast your vote? Your reasons would help too.

YEA if you agree that I should focus this blog only on the gnovel until it's bloody well finished.

NAY if you think I should carry on as is (see first paragraph, sentence beginning with "Instead I.....").

If you think I'm a spineless attention-seeking coward for asking people to help me decide something that should come naturally from the deep well of my creative soul, you're right. But shut up about it.


August 7, 2005


Birthday diary


August 6, 2005


When I read Tamar's answers (trackback) to Amba's interview I was moved and intrigued and asked Tamar to be my interviewer. I might have known she wasn't going to make it easy. But I'm so grateful for this challenge to my self-knowledge and for being inspired to bring out some pictures and thoughts I haven't considered for ages. This is the longest post I've ever done. I need to lie down and not think about tomorrow.

The rules of the game are as follows:
1. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
2. E-mail the blogger of your choice or leave a comment saying "interview me please."
3. Your chosen interviewer asks five questions of his/her choosing.
4. Update your blog/site with answers to the questions.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, ask them five questions.

1. Describe one or more things that you would really like to see/do/get done/experience before you die.

Finish the gnovel and find a brilliant, effective publisher for it and the God Interviews .

Make enough money (via the above) to give to those I love and to buy myself a house somewhere beautiful.

Get extremely fit, tanned and toned and stay that way.

Find some place/persons to take charge of all my remaining artwork so it won't be lost after I'm gone.

Find a great venue to exhibit my mother's paintings, currently neglected in a big portfolio upstairs. Sell them to people who will love them and give the money to Tamar's orphanage project when it becomes a reality.

Fall in love just one more time (reciprocally). This is optional.

2. Who were/are some of your emotional and/or spiritual influences? Tell us about as many as you need to name/describe.

Sacha d'Arbeloff Sad ChildhoodMy father. His influence was so pervasive that it would take too long to describe. I idealised/idolised him some of the time and resented/resisted his influence the rest of the time. When he wasn't busy he was often sad, with a cosmic kind of melancholy which shattered my childish high spirits. All I wanted was for him not to be sad. His presence was so intense, you couldn't be in a room with him and just do your own thing. He filled the space, even in silence. It was not his advice, his ideas, his theories which influenced me (I thought mine were better) but only his personality. (I know what you're thinking: he looks like the big G in this painting, "Sad Childhood". But I painted it long before I ever imagined the tee-shirted bald one). Sacha was not conventionally religious and he never mentioned what religion, if any, was in his background. But he prayed. Every morning and evening, behind closed doors. You could just hear a soft, passionate, heartbreaking sound, like a child pleading, oblivious to everything but the One he was speaking to. In Russian, I think. But you didn't need to hear the words to know that they were not learned prayers, they were straight from his secret heart. The sound of my father praying was, above all else, what shaped my spiritual self.

Happy ChildhoodMy mother. It was not until after Blanche's smileshe died that I realised she too had been a strong influence in my childhood. It was her absence during my growing years, not literally but emotionally, which made me become self-reliant and also, much later, to become "mother" to her daughterliness. There was always, right to the end of her ninety-seven years, something very young and unschooled about her and a remoteness that my father called her ailleurs: elsewhere. Blanche was beautiful and had an extraordinary smile, a smile of pure joie de vivre. You wanted to be in the beam of that smile, to be the focus of it. But you couldn't be sure. It could change and then you'd be floundering, abandoned. She did all the things good enough mothers do. She baked, she sewed, she sorted, she packed and unpacked, she gardened (plants loved her) and she made things - all sorts of original, lovely things. But still she was ailleurs. Once, I asked what she was thinking. She said, "Je chante". No complications, the words of remembered songs dancing in her head. But there was anger too (rather like mine, come to think of it), savage anger which sometimes erupted and splintered the air. She said that when she was a teenager she had smashed her fist through a window in a moment of rage. I always liked that story. Probably I envied her gumption and maybe, who knows, envied her ailleurs. The painting above, Happy Childhood, was about the good years in Paraguay, mother smiling, holding me.

American poet in FlorenceA poet, R. He was an American, in love with Italy. I met him in Florence. I was young, he was much older. I fell madly in love, believed him to be my Destiny and wanted physical confirmation of this belief. Although it was never mentioned and I didn't want to know, he was gay and uninterested in hanky panky with me, destined or otherwise. However he did love me, more truly than my feverish fantasy, and in the correspondence we exchanged for many years, he taught me more than I can express. He inspired the conception (immaculate) of my very first God comic strip, the Gabriel Books (I'll put them online eventually). He was writing a suite of poems based on paintings of the Annunciation and to amuse and/or impress him, I drew a cartoon booklet called Gabriel and God. It was the start of a whole series which did indeed influence my destiny, if not in the way I expected. Gabriel was the precursor of Augustine. And God, as drawn in those early days, was the precursor of the current tall tee-shirted bald one.
R. died of Alzheimer's years ago. I still have all his letters and postcards.

Below is the first page of Philosophy, one of my early Gabriel Books. I later produced an etched version as an artists book.

Page from "Philosophy".

I could include other influences but surely I've said enough on that topic, eh?

3. Share how you learned about your gender identity. What are your earliest memories? What was fun or painful as you learned about these aspects of your identity?

Nat as childBetween the ages of about six to nine, I wanted to be a boy - no, I was convinced that I was a boy, minus the usual tackle. It may have had something to do with the fact that my parents expected a son rather than a second daughter when I was born. Though they accepted the result quite happily, my father did sometimes call me "my son". Probably joking. (Many years later they did have a real son). Anyway I had no interest in girly pursuits and preferred climbing trees and cowboy games but when it became obvious that my sex wasn't going to change miraculously, I didn't mind. When I went to an all girl school, there were the usual girlish traumas over boys not asking me to dance (we did have dances) or being shorter than those giant American kids or enduring my pimply years. But I can't say I experienced gender as a problem in my life nor did I ever feel obliged to follow a traditional female path. Certainly I was often dominated by men but that's because I was attracted to such men and enjoyed being dominated. When I tired of this role, I stopped playing it. That's oversimplifying reality but hey, this isn't a full autobiography. The painting below isn't, as you may assume, about oppressed women. The couple are both acting roles they have chosen to play. It's a small oil on canvas titled Maja Clothed and there's a companion piece called Maja Nude (after Goya). My plan was to do a Sofa Series but, like many other plans, I didn't pursue it.

Sofa Series 1

4. How did you become interested in blogging? Has it met your expectations or how does it meet your needs lately?

Blogging was an unforeseen by-product of creating a website. When I decided to buy a Mac about five years ago, it was to experiment with it as another graphic tool. After much trial and error, I learned how to use Dreamweaver and Photoshop software and decided to build my own website as an online portfolio/gallery/archive/etc. When it was done, I found that just being out there in cyberspace didn't mean that anyone would notice. Of course I did want people to notice so I starting surfing the web, looking for other artists, writers, cartoonists, thinkers, like-minded people. That's how I discovered blogging and the bottomless blog-ocean and I thought: I want to be a blogger too. So I created Blaugustine (allright allright! She created herself) and the rest is herstory. Yes, blogging meets expectations I didn't even know I had. It has made me part of a community, forged friendships, opened windows and doors in my imitation ivory tower. And it's given Augustine her own blackboard where she can scribble to her heart's content. Unfortunately, it's also turned her into a blogaddict and I'm finding it harder and harder to stop her wasting all my time reading blogs or daydreaming blog posts instead of doing the washing up and working on the gnovel. How are we supposed to ever achieve those goals mentioned in Answer No.1?

5. What are some of your favorite sayings?

Let us sit together around my table and talk things over. But remember my subject is always love. (A.B. Christopher)

When you have found what you love best, you must immediately subordinate to it all the rest. (Michel Seuphor)

Don't worry about what people think. Most of them don't do it very often. (Anon)

Be the change you want to see in the world. (Ghandi)

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. (Ghandi)

A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. (Groucho Marx)

These are my principles. If you don't like them I have others. (Groucho Marx)


August 2, 2005


Some lavender, some honeyThose are the gifts Jean brought when she came to visit me today. Lingering, pithy, evocative fragrance and unadulterated sweetness - I can't think of a better introduction to a blogger I've met only through her writing which (coincidentally?) shares those qualities. But no matter how well you think you've come to know someone you've met only in blogland, nothing can replace a face to face, voice to voice meeting. Jean's voice is soft and shy with undertones of sadness but suddenly there is a burst of enthusiasm, fearless laughter, and you think, h'm, this woman is strong, stronger than she knows.

A wonderful afternoon. We talked a lot, drank tea and Vinho Verde and took pictures of ourselves together in the mirror. Mine came out blurred, with Natalie hogging the limelight as usual. Hopefully Jean got some better ones. I warned her that I accept only flattery.The one of me (not Nat) with a smiling Jean, though blurred, is nice, innit? Why do I have camera shake? Why don't I use a tripod?

Jean and Augustine

Jean and Natalie COMMENTS