Carina Nebula

It’s a Museum like many others and I wander around checking stuff out. There is an exhibit on Maps at the moment. Someone’s had the idea of including one room with images from Hubble.

I’ve seen most of these before but they’re pretty spectacular nonetheless, particularly the large, super-high definition prints they’ve put up here. The Eagle Nebula, the Crab Nebula, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, the Sombrero Galaxy. There’s still no agreed upon explanation for the expanding fireball of V838 Monocerotis.

One of the images I haven’t seen before is of the Carina Nebula. The print is a big one, taking up almost a whole wall. I sit and look for a long time. What to me seems like a long time. The light from the galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field just next to me took 13 billion years to reach us. That’s as far away in time and space as we’ve seen. Almost as old as the universe. The cosmologists didn’t think they’d see much in that tiny, boring, empty patch of space but they let the light trickle in for days, photon by photon. That’s another story.

The Carina Nebula is incredible. I don’t have the words and the image is better. There are billows and clouds and rivers, the birth and life and death of stars, a nuclear conflagration. You project your own thoughts into an image like this and it projects itself into you. Am I particularly twisted or is that a skull I see in the left hand side of the image? Isn’t there another face in the middle there?

I must have been sat there a good while - the Security Trog starts looking at me funny. I guess he thinks I’m eyeing up the kids wandering around the exhibit. Am I old enough to be considered a potential paedo now? Dark days. There are a lot of kids around. Their expressions are too cool. One takes a look at the pictures, totters over to the visitors' book, spends a long time carefully writing (on tip-toes), takes another look around and runs off. I get up and look at the book.

This is asome!

I wish I could see

this picture

when I




Me too. Strange thing to say. Maybe this kid has hypnopompic visions - swirlings of dream and reality seen at the time of waking, a reworking of images seen in the past and in the imagination.

The visitors' book is full of AWESOME and COOL! and AMA-ZING and WOW. There’s a crucifix and a Star of David. In neat, flowing Arabic script someone has transcribed, with translation the first Quranic verses :

Read! In the Name of your Lord who created. Who created man from a clot of blood. Read!

Sword fittings

This cabinet is labelled ‘Sword Fittings : Death and the Passing of the Seasons.’ Images and words from classical Japanese poetry such as the Kokinshu and the Tales of Ise adorn the scabbards, handles and grip-guards of Samurai swords.

You cherry blossoms,

I too would like to scatter,

for human beings

are but dismal spectacles

once their brief blossoming is done

The spring cherry blossoms are apparently uncommon as images in this type of piece. Given the context, it’s autumnal images that abound. Dying grasses, fading flowers, migrating geese.

If in exchange for meeting you,

is death so great a price to pay?

The swords and fittings are beautiful. Slashy slashy. Enough museum. Time to find a pub.

  • The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland : “Mapping the Cosmos”
  • Image of the Carina Nebula from Hubblesite here

I love rituals.

It's true. I love pipe smoking because you have to sit down, select a pipe, select a tobacco, roll the tobacco through your fingers and thumb, pack the bowl well, light, tamp, light and smoke slowly.

Any drink that involves measuring, mixing, shaking in a shaker and serving with ice is fine by me, too.

I could easily be attracted to heroin. Not for the rush, but for the whole water, spoon, candle, cotton ball, tying off etc. thing. *shudders*. Thank God for my innate common sense.

A long time ago when I worked sort of in a tattoo parlour, I loved soldering needles to bars. You took out a selection of needles from a box of medical supplies, checked em with a loupe for hooks or barbs, and then put them in a jig, and soldered them gently, with a delicate touch, in specialised groupings onto a needle arm. It was the kind of patient, delicate preparatory work I love. And it was the kind of busywork that the artist hated. Most people buy disposable needle arms with pre-soldered needles, so the whole trip of making them and sterilising them is a dying art.

I bought a huge bolt of canvas, some lumber, and stretcher bars, as well as gesso and marble dust. Once I've done some more paintings, I'll gesso three canvases I made with my own hands.

I've tried something ghetto: heavyweight canvas dropcloth from Home Depot, attached to $1.25 stretcher bars, cheaply made bars that slot together into a rectangular frame. That, combined with a staple gun and canvas pliers, enables you to convert spare wood and canvas dropcloth into a heavyweight, drum-tight surface to paint on.

And for the final act, I converted some wood into an eight foot by 44" frame with a miter box and some screws. I bought a bolt of canvas eight and a half feet long, 48" tall. I will have made an enormous canvas costing more than $100 for perhaps $40. And I've found with my strength and my patience, not only do I have a nicer, tauter surface, but better canvas and stronger support.

I'm a red ass hair away from grinding my own pigment with a mortar and pestle into a walnut oil binder.

One night in a bar named Fallout.

at the end of a long ride

         sitting around the bars 
                  inside I can see 

               no jobs
 the sickness.

      the music of pulled shades


men ramble on 
   smashing into things;

to make you feel better about yourself 
                  he said, fuck well
   careful not to fall in.

he drank too much          this man who had once been young

    who’s lived 7 or 8 lives in one

            I hope to leave no trace
      perching on a stool
we decide not to remain strangers?

    I liked what I saw     
       from the looks of things      he looked soft & ready

  if only to say
stop bending the truth

About a year ago, we picked up a couple of wacky barn cats. Leap is an obnoxious turd of a cat. She gets you to pet her, and then takes a swat. Tip sounded like Lauren Bacall after smoking four packs of Chesterfields, but she was a grateful, skinny old girl.

They say only the good die young, and Tip proved them right. We didn't know how old she was, but she was certainly up there in years. My wife knew when Tip wasn't well, and she warned the kids that Tip wasn't long for this world. When I went into the barn to pay my respects, she lay half-out of her little sleeping crate, barely breathing in little spurts. I stroked her once to say goodbye. My wife and youngest daughter talked and pet her, and she found the will to give one good last purr session before expiring. She knew she was loved.

We dug a grave and buried her in a Doc Marten's shoebox. I'll miss the old girl.

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