Wednesday, August 23, 2006

No Connection

Our internet has been down at home for a few days. We were racking our brains as to what could have gone wrong (the help desk didn't, really) only to discover that my housemate who pays the broadband bill had defaulted on one of his direct debit payments a few months back when he was hard up, which led to us being disconnected - only we didn't know this because the person in question never opens any of his post!! Anyway, we're all up and running again now; I'm sure there's a simple moral somewhere in all this!

I have no idea how to link up the things I've been preoccupied with during my internet-free period, so I'll just list some of them (in no particular order). Perhaps I'll see the relationships when they're written down.

The still-appalling situation in Lebanon, in which a ceasefire appears not to apply to Israel if they don't feel like it, because of course all their actions are 'defensive'. While trying to fix the internet, I ended up inadvertently stumbling upon a way to fix my sound card, which hasn't been working, so yesterday I finally got to hear Mazen Kerbaj's recording of himself playing trumpet in duet with the Israeli airforce during the night of the 15th and 16th of July. I can't say anything about this, except that you must hear it. It's available here.

The Albert Ayler Quartet at John Coltrane's funeral. The sound on this six-minute recording is dreadful, but the performance absolutely searing, particularly at the end when Ayler starts vocalising. Of course, the emotional charge of knowing when and where this music was created plays no small part in its power, but it really is like he's about to break through music to something else entirely.

Peter Riley's extraordinary collection of prose poems, Excavations. They are meditations on 19th century accounts of prehistoric burial grounds, interspersed with fragments from 16th or 17th century English lyrics. Though deliberately disjointed and 'modernist' in form - Riley himself described them to me in an email as 'risk[ing] an unpredicated sequentiality' - the emotional charge and intellectual rigour of his attempt to explore the extent to which we can have any sense of common humanity with people who died many thousands of years ago is very moving.

The farcical end to the fourth test between England and Pakistan. I don't have a judgement on the rights and wrongs of the situation, but I'm sure the way it was handled was not the optimum solution. A bad taste is left in the mouth after what had been until then a fantastic series.

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