Anodyne
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
 



To Michael Haneke's The White Ribbon, essentially a August Sander photograph that moves. Anyone in Vancouver who hasn't yet seen it yet should head down to Tinseltown where it's still playing Wednesdays and Thursdays at 3:50pm, and where Christian Berger's striking black and white cinematography, which nods in turn to Sander, Rembrandt and Sven Nyquist, is shown off to good effect on the big screen.
 



Uneven Shutter Island: Oedipus (or Falling Angel / Vertigo / Mulholland Drive, each equally appropriate, take your pick) in Boston harbour. But I loved the shots above, and the quiet shift from gothic expressionism to straight-up naturalism in the final scene.
 
Up Grouse Mountain in grey morning light through steep forest for an hour and a half, past the resort's roaring snow machines and the eerily empty chairlift. Into the chalet, where a few Euro-tourists are watching Olympic downhill skiing on the big screens. Back out into the cold, and up along the service road to Dam Mountain. Cold wind, little flurries of snow. Up Dam Mountain -- crampons useful, the hard-packed trail all ice -- and then out east along the summer route to Crown Pass, which, past the turnoff to Thunderbird Ridge, quickly changes from an icy flat walk in the park to a 40 degree snowslope with a 500+ foot drop below it into Kennedy Lake. Sidehilling in the frozen boot track, bits of snow skittering away under my spikes, picking up speed as they bounce down the slope, ricocheting off trees and disappearing into air. Aware of my pulse kicking up a notch or two.

Crown Pass from below Little Goat Mountain looking very sheer and dark and cold, all black cliffs and white snow. Squalls blowing in from over Lynn Lake, visibility shrinking.

-It's, eh, pretty steep over there. Ted and I used a rope once. And pickets.

Words of wisdom from Mr. Blair, uncontradicted by Keefer and D. and I. No one complains as we turn around.

Steep ramble from slightly easier peak to peak to peak as the snow picks up, ravens circling around us, croaking heartily, delighted to have visitors. 1200m+ on the day.

Gondola back down to civilization, near whiteout conditions at the chalet turning to rain lower down. Trudging back along the muddy powerline to the car in torrential rain, the track flooded everywhere. Dog shit; pussywillows; salmonberry leaves budding out. Smells of spring.
Monday, February 22, 2010
 

Off climbing tomorrow in this unseasonal spring, with a group of old friends, and Rose T. Cat. Busily assembling crampons, ice axe, head lamp, cherry red Gore-tex jacket and green wool shirt.

4000-odd metres of elevation gain so far this year, and a narrower waist and better attitude for it. If there's a better cure for depression than walking steeply uphill, I haven't found it.

Back soon.

(Tomorrow's destination, the obscure but lovely west peak of Crown Mountain, visible at mid-right, and worth enlarging)
Sunday, February 21, 2010
 

Sketches for pictures
 

John Latta usefully directs me to Patrick Swift's fine example:

"Swift only held two solo exhibitions during his career, the first being in Dublin in 1952. After this first, highly acclaimed, solo exhibition Swift showed no desire in exhibiting again until 1974, when he was persuaded to hold an exhibition in Lisbon (the venue being the deciding factor for Swift). David Wright has suggested that perhaps some trauma was suffered at his first showing, and it has been noted that much of Swift's early work has an underlying tone of disquiet. We know he distrusted publicity and celebrity, which he disliked and considered a distraction, and the success of his first exhibition would certainly have attracted unwanted attention. Whatever the reasons, Swift’s art seems to have been a very personal and private matter carried out behind closed doors- very few were allowed into his studio in the Algarve. In fact, most of Swift’s output during his life was seen -if at all- by a very small number of people that he was intimate with. [Brian] Fallon says: ‘[T]his is the typical Irish artist-intellectual of the post-war years, reared on Joyce and Baudelaire, introspective, cerebral, at once cynical and idealistic, at odds with much or most of what the society around him believed in or affected to believe in.'"

(Image credit: Patrick Swift, The Springs, Ashwell, 1960)
 
"James Boswell, himself a lawyer, once asked his great mentor about the propriety of a lawyer’s 'supporting a cause which you know to be bad.' Dr. Johnson replied: 'Sir, you do not know it to be good or bad till the Judge determines it. . . . An argument which does not convince yourself, may convince the Judge to whom you urge it: and if it does convince him, why, then, Sir, you are wrong, and he is right.'"

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