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Nature

Bat!

Exciting sighting: I saw a bat in the park today. It’s not completely unusual to see bats around here: I see a few in the summer, because it’s when I’m most likely to be outside at night. But not many. And to see one flying around over the park pond in daylight is most unusual.

I’ve no idea about the species, of course: it looked medium-large by bat standards, but apart from that… who knows.

» 3 Vintage German Halloween Diecut Bats "Vintage Halloween", posted to Flickr by riptheskull, used under a CC by-nc-sa licence, is one of a whole collection of vintage German Halloween diecuts.

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Playing with Flickr

Pictures found in the most recent photos stream on Flickr.

» 光に向かって, originally uploaded by 2 Funky. ³£«Ü¤j°¦., originally uploaded by Do as what you want. DSCF3779, originally uploaded by shadowstw.

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Culture

‘Breaking the Rules’ at the British Library

I realised that Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde 1900 – 1937 was about to close, so I popped in today for a quick gander. As ever at the BL, the range of material was impressive: they really do own a lot of stuff. Eliot, Bretton, Man Ray, Lorca, Mayakovsky, Ernst, Rodchenko… you name it, they’ve got it.

I started out carefully reading all the labels and conscientiously looking at each item, because I thought it was probably the kind of exhibition where background information and context would make all the difference. And it was interesting, but I still started to speed up fairly soon. There were some items that were nice pieces of design in their own right and had an immediate appeal even for the non-specialist; but rather more that didn’t. Particularly as they were all in languages I don’t read.

Mayakovsky's For The Voice

The material was mainly grouped by city; Paris and Moscow/St Petersburg had the biggest displays, but 30 cities were included, from all over Europe — Milan, Belgrade, Vienna, Barcelona, Brussels, Warsaw, Kiev, and so on — which did give a strong sense of this as a genuinely widespread movement. Or group of movements. Mind you, I didn’t pay that much attention to the dates, but they weren’t all active simultaneously. The exhibition covered a 37 year period, which is plenty of time for artistic fashions to sweep from one side of Europe and back again several times over.

They even made a case for London as an avant garde city, but it wasn’t completely convincing, somehow. For example, there were successful exhibitions of the Surrealists and the Futurists in London: but that’s not the same as producing the stuff ourselves. Perhaps I’m being unfair. Perhaps I just find it easier to take all these Frenchmen and Russians seriously because they’re French and Russian. Still, there was a good gag from Wyndham Lewis: apparently he supported his application for a British Army commission by saying that he had masterminded the Cubist invasion of Britain ‘without losing a single cube’.

» The picture is the cover of Для голоса (‘For the Voice’) by Mayakovsky, designed by El Lissitzky.

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Culture

More modernism and art

One obvious point to make in passing: even if there is some kind of profound connection between someone’s political leanings and the form they choose when they write a poem*, that connection is not stable over time.

It meant something different to be writing sonnets in 1520 than to be writing them in 1820 or 1920. And something different again in 2008.

Or at least, if anyone wanted to suggest otherwise, I’d need to hear some pretty convincing arguments.

* Or paint a picture, or build a house…