Skyline

A videohaiku shot on Primrose Hill, London. The area where people are congregating includes a quote from William Blake incised into the curb/kerb: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun on Primrose Hill.” Here’s the background on that. Unfortunately, too many people were sitting or standing on the quote, posing for selfies or admiring the view — I wasn’t able to video it. I like the shot I used, but it took me several days to come up with a fitting textual accompaniment. One draft I particularly liked…

skyline
the moving domes
of umbrellas

…until I looked at my footage again and realized there weren’t many umbrellas in it.

Where the dead

The latest videohaiku uses footage shot in Kensal Green Cemetery, the oldest of London’s “Magnificent Seven” Victorian garden cemeteries, which is just a half mile from my wife’s house. The footage reminded me initially somehow of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 (“That time of year thou mayst in me behold…”) — time and timelessness being hard not to think about in a cemetery in any season.

Sleep was of course the dominant metaphor for death in the Victorian era, a fact that was brought home in a lecture we attended at another of the Magnificent Seven last week, Brompton Cemetery, about the once-popular custom of posing the recently deceased for photographs. Hopefully the faceless figure in the video suggests something of my feelings about our fondness for euphemisms around death. I also gave the video misty edges as a general nod to Arcadian sentimentality.

I can’t help thinking though that this would be greatly improved by the addition of a black metal soundtrack…

200 years

View on Vimeo.

A brief videohaiku tribute to the 200th anniversary of John Keats composing “To Autumn” in September 1819. I’d thought about going to the Keats house next to Hampstead Heath to shoot video, but instead I was charmed by this tiny square of wildflowers that someone had protected in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street (Kilburn Lane) closer to home. It speaks to me of how greatly wild spaces have diminished in the last two centuries, and much British people still love nature despite having so little of it left.

In wild

Watch on Vimeo.

The latest videohaiku. The London Borough of Brent put in “wildflower” beds in several of its parks this spring, part of an effort to stave off population crashes of wild bees and other insects in the UK, where the farming lobby is out of control. Unfortunately, the seed mix they used seems to be weighted more toward showy flowers than to UK natives, but it’s a start.

Falconiform

Up, and am sent for to Sir G. Carteret, and to him, and there he tells me how our lists are referred to a Sub-committee to consider and examine, and that I am ordered to be there this afternoon. So I away thence to my new bookbinder to see my books gilding in the backs, and then to White Hall to the House, and spoke to Sir W. Coventry, where he told me I must attend the Committee in the afternoon, and received some hints of more work to do. So I away to the ‘Chequer, and thence to an alehouse, and found Mr. Falconbridge, and agreed for his kinswoman to come to me. He says she can dress my wife, and will do anything we would have her to do, and is of a good spirit and mighty cheerful. He is much pleased therewith, and so we shall be. So agreed for her coming the next week. So away home, and eat a short dinner, and then with Sir W. Pen to White Hall, and do give his boy my book of papers to hold while he went into the Committee Chamber in the Inner Court of Wards, and I walked without with Mr. Slingsby, of the Tower, who was there, and who did in walking inform me mightily in several things; among others, that the heightening or lowering of money is only a cheat, and do good to some particular men, which, if I can but remember how, I am now by him fully convinced of. Anon Sir W. Pen went away, telling me that Sir W. Coventry that was within had told him that the fleete is all come into the buoy of the Nore, and that he must hasten down to them, and so went away, and I into the Committee Chamber before the Committee sat, and there heard Birch discourse highly and understandingly about the Navy business and a proposal made heretofore to farm the Navy; but Sir W. Coventry did abundantly answer him, and is a most excellent person. By and by the Committee met, and I walked out, and anon they rose and called me in, and appointed me to attend a Committee of them to-morrow at the office to examine our lists. This put me into a mighty fear and trouble; they doing it in a very ill humour, methought. So I away and called on my Lord Bruncker to desire him to be there to-morrow, and so home, having taken up my wife at Unthanke’s, full of trouble in mind to think what I shall be obliged to answer, that am neither fully fit, nor in any measure concerned to take the shame and trouble of this office upon me, but only from the inability and folly of the Comptroller that occasions it. When come home I to Sir W. Pen’s, to his boy, for my book, and there find he hath it not, but delivered it to the doorekeeper of the Committee for me. This, added to my former disquiet, made me stark mad, considering all the nakedness of the office lay open in papers within those covers. I could not tell in the world what to do, but was mad on all sides, and that which made me worse Captain Cocke was there, and he did so swear and curse at the boy that told me. So Cocke, Griffin, and the boy with me, they to find the housekeeper of the Parliament, Hughes, while I to Sir W. Coventry, but could hear nothing of it there. But coming to our rendezvous at the Swan Taverne, in King Streete, I find they have found the housekeeper, and the book simply locked up in the Court. So I staid and drank, and rewarded the doore-keeper, and away home, my heart lighter by all this, but to bed very sad notwithstanding, in fear of what will happen to-morrow upon their coming.

falcon in a birch
the nakedness
of the world


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 2 October 1666.

Building site

Still from "Building site" showing a digger in the middle distance surrounded by huge mounds of dirt.

View on Vimeo.

Where does all this soil end up, I wonder? It’s being removed to make room for the un-earth of a mass transit hub which, it seems, nobody really wants except for the investors.

Not the most brilliant footage, but I’m kind of pleased with the haiku.

Back alleys

still from "back alleys" showing two alleys side by side

View on Vimeo.

The latest videohaiku. I’ve been fascinated by the contrast between the super-scruffy Billy Fury Way, connecting West Hampstead and Finchley Road, and the posh alleys on Hampstead Hill just the east of it – my walking route to Hampstead Heath passes through both. This time of year, especially, it’s fascinating what decay looks like in each environment. Which is more magical, more portal-like? (I waver on this.) And which back alley better exemplifies the wabi-sabi aesthetic: the one colorful as a year-round fall, with dead pigeons and abandoned shopping carts, or the the one as clean and “natural” as a Zen temple?

Peace garden

Antony Gormley sculpture at the peace park

A videohaiku filmed at the Maygrove Peace Park, one of at least six gardens or parks in London dedicated to world peace – but the only one with an Antony Gormley sculpture, untitled (listening). Also featured in the video is Hamish Black’s Peace Crane. This park is just down the road from us in Kilburn, but few people outside the immediate neighborhood seem to be aware of it. For more on the park, see the friends group website.

Micturition

Strange with what freedom and quantity I pissed this night, which I know not what to impute to but my oysters, unless the coldness of the night should cause it, for it was a sad rainy and tempestuous night. Soon as up I begun to have some pain in my bladder and belly, as usual, which made me go to dinner betimes, to fill my belly, and that did ease me, so as I did my business in the afternoon, in forwarding the settling of my house, very well. Betimes to bed, my wife also being all this day ill in the same manner. Troubled at my wife’s haire coming off so much. This day the Parliament met, and adjourned till Friday, when the King will be with them.

with what
freedom I piss
this rainy night


Erasure haiku derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Tuesday 18 September 1666.