My son has created a new character, a Goblin Barbarian. I drew this on the Ipad while watching Flight Attendant on the telly. Apparently it doesn’t match what he has in mind though.
A couple of weeks ago I joined a zoom meeting of Scientists for Labour a group affiliated to the Labour Party. The speaker was physicist and veteran science policy adviser Sir David King. He served Labour and Conservative governments. Under the Blair government he ran a large foresight programme for major events such as a pandemic. He now chairs the Independent SAGE, which appears to comprise the experts one might have expected a government to have consulted in managing a pandemic. The meeting is publicly available. While he talked I tried to sketch (not very well) and made a few notes.
Here he talks about the fact that the UK had been a world leader in preparedness for such a pandemic, setting out how to manage such an event in 2006.
“the biggest foresight program I ran was on the infectious diseases … our report … said that it was highly likely that a pandemic of the kind that has just occurred would occur … it might emerge from a wild animal … it would spread around the world very rapidly … within 3 months … it would have a genetic make up that we would have no defences against … we set out what should be done, the WHO was represented on the group … and it is kind of surprising and amazingly annoying that the country that produced this report … and the WHO responded very well … that we are the country that sits behind every country in terms of our operation. Sixty five thousand excess deaths to date …”
“it is difficult to believe a word of what the government is saying”.
“complete mishandling of this pandemic of appalling proportions”.
“A vast number of people have died unnecessarily …”
No prizes for guessing the source of the idea behind this doodle. This was overlaid onto the background shown below used in a previous post.
I have been listening to Alien: Out of the Shadows, an audio adaptation of a novel, itself written from a script of a film sequel never made. We start 40 years from the destruction of the Nostromo with Ripley teamed with the surviving crew of a mining vessel, again facing the devastating egg-laying hive monsters. The on-board computers, and those on the planet-side mining station, are corrupted by the single minded purpose of Ash, the synth humanoid she thought beaten to destruction on discovering its over-riding programming to bring back a viable xenomorph specimen, “all crew expendable”.
Fighting a plague when the governing minds have other purposes: a story for our time perhaps.
Somewhere in the Balkans the city of Besźel occupies the same topological space as Ul Qoma. The two cities are separated by culture, religion, language, taking opposite sides in the cold war and and before that between the Allies and Axis. Citizens of one space unsee, unhear, unreact to all protuberances from the other. You can reach one from the USA, the other has more links to Canada. Internet and cell phones work on both sides, but to communicate between the cities, that must go long distance through international exchanges, or perhaps not at all.
The air is shared, but aromas from one side are unsmelled on the other. Objects exist strictly in one or the other place, but as they disintegrate to anonymous detritus, they blow with the wind through both cities. They say it rains more in Besźel.
I cannot tell if this is some quirk of folded space-time that brings together these specific overlapping fragments of parallel universes separated by an historical quantum event, or instead this is an idiosyncrasy of two populations in a single conurbation reinforced by intense taboos and policed by the feared invisible omniscient Breach.
While listening to this book, I came across this video “to survive, to live – 2019” through twitter. The writer who introduced me to it now has a blog. I thought, this is the city and the city. People live precariously, and isolation during a pandemic leaves them without resource and invisible. I thought, we are not asked to judge, just to not unsee.
My guitar teacher is a sucker for Brazilian rhythms, though her interests span the globe. I am currently working on both the melody and accompaniment to a pair of Brazilian songs “Minha Jangada” and “Praia do Janga” running back to back with change of key between. The first of these is on this wonderfully pixellated monochrome video, which feels like a possible source for further artwork. Previously, I was learning two Klezmer pieces written by Josi Hartmann in commemoration of the Holocaust, one of which is here. My taking up guitar later in life led my wife to do what she had dreamed of from a child and learn to play the flute.
Zen Brush 2 app, iphone 7, fingers.
Now the warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying and all that lives is getting out
See the geese in chevron flight flapping and racing on before the snow
They’ve got the urge for going and they’ve got the wings so they can go
Words from “Urge for Going“, Joni Mitchell, 1966
A melancholy song, but from simpler time when threat of apocalypse might be a foolish press on a button, not near certainty from the ordinary actions of each of us, daily, just living our lives.
A long time with little drawing, save these sketches on a simple app on the iphone. Most are abstract, reflecting my moods and thoughts. Only one of these relates directly to our having lost our European citizenship and soon to be rights and trading partners, for a bright new future as supplicants of American corporations.
“Up in the rocks, up where nobody goes,
There’s a steep path that leads higher, to a cave.
She’ll be put in there and some food put in with her –
And once she’s in, she can pray to her heart’s content
To her god of death.”
After all her Hades talk,
It’ll be her chance to see if he can save her.
The Burial at Thebes: Sophocles’ Antigone. Seamus Heaney