Lungo i Portici

 Posted by at 1:56 pm  Old Men Travelling, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Jun 192013
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What are the older men looking for?

Squeeze up, make some more room. No, we can’t! There isn’t any.

The thing is that there are too many of us to fit one street bench, and there’s a limit especially for older men with our spreading waistlines. Even if it is a long one, and the bench in the square looks that it is longer than usual. Demand exceeds supply.

Added to which it is obviously uncomfortable for us to sit on. The bench is made of stone, with a hard flat seat, and there’s no back to lean against. Of course it looks attractive lined up with the stone sculpted round balls, and functional too, but it isn’t possible to sit there for very long, even with the ingenuity of older men.

Maybe if I sit on my jacket. No, better not. I’ll get a terrible ticking off if I do, and it is all creased when I get home.

In fact, it is the clever ones who stand. From there they have a better chance of hearing more of what is being said. More than those sat at either end who can’t hear a word of what is being said more than two men away.

What did he say? Never mind, my friend. You don’t want to listen to him.

And stood up there’s also a better chance of making a monologue and dominating the conversation. The seated ones may wave their arms more trying to get their share of the speaking air space, but it is the stood ones who can control things.

Except that the driver sat in the white taxi parked behind the bench, a small thickset woman in a light blue shirt and black trousers, has turned up the car radio, and the mushy pop music is playing so loud that it is drowning out all the older men’s conversation.

At least they are out of the house! So she can get on with her chores, and the unmarried children and unemployed grandchildren who are still living at home can get on with their work, playing on their computers, or business, whatever that might be.

There’s one younger man stood behind the bench where the old men are sat. His mobile phone rings and he begins speaking loudly. As well it is an intimate conversation about sex, as if the old men don’t exist.

Shall we have sex too?

I don’t think your father is feeling well today, she says to her grandson. What is it Papa? Nothing, nothing. I am just going out now.

Don’t forget to buy the lottery tickets, she shouts after him from behind the front door which has just been slammed shut.

What are the older men looking for?

Each household gives us a job to do, a small task to perform while we are out. It is nothing too important, mostly  something to keep us occupied.

It means a journey into the city centre. And at least the authorities are making an attempt to help. We can take the senior citizen free bus pass to the city centre, and walk from the bus stop and cross the road in reasonable safety now that most traffic has been excluded from the roads.

Apart from the bench it is empty in the square where we like to meet. Although the white stone bench’s design and civic location has its obvious shortcomings, it has been given a fine Mission Statement:

Needs (wellbeing, lifeskills, social capital) – helping to meet
Happiness (fairness, social justice, participatory politics) – contributing towards
Gaps (intergender, and intergenerational) – speaking across

In a word, community. Fine words…

But it has to be said that we recall with longing the old days when we could sit on the steps in the arcades, smoke our cigarettes, and look up the legs of the passing women as they came out of the smart shops with their shopping bags.

Oh, I shouldn’t have said that!

Jun 112013
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You’ll remember me saying.

Well, perhaps I don’t, the other replies.

Two men in conversation: it is not difficult to find many explanations for the disconnect in what they are saying to each other – reinventing the tradition, as Walter Scott said reputedly, always comes easy:

- Walter Benjamin walking with Baudelaire in Paris and transcribing what he once said or wrote in long sections of  The Arcades Project

- Joyce and Beckett walking on I’Ile aux Cygnes, Paris at the Francis Kyle Gallery (London from July)

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- “Ulysses’ ship in the Grand Basin of the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris”, my friend DRK says, searching for the right words and failing to find them, as he says he commonly does.

It is not exactly unsafe here, but it is always possible to detect danger, and hunched forward around a small cafe the four of us are speaking quietly together and being careful with our words. For one thing it is quite possible the large monumental figure on the pedestal above us is listening. He appears to belong to the apparatus of state authority and in a state of excitement with his erection, and something on a stick is pointing down towards us: a microphone. Or perhaps it is a weapon, something electronic and threatening.

Anything is possible on this bright and beautiful day isn’t it? While  the tourists are happily milling through the city gardens, jumping for joy, great red spots are beginning to fall from the sky. Or blood is exploding from somewhere, a body perhaps, and it could very quickly become a crime scene. The police will be arriving from every direction in the next instant, and the whole place will be locked down.

Something else red and intense and also exploding is under the bridge by the river Seine below where the two writers Joyce and Becket, if the two small waling figures precisely unrecognisable at such a distance are them – (DRK ”She  glanced at her lovely echo. Joyce and Beckett walking on I’Ile aux Cygnes, Paris.”).

The chances are there could be several kinds of explanations for these explosion altogether. Go to Firenze to try to find out and whether such phenomena are also to be found in that city. Her lovely echo: under the Ponte Vecchio, once walking close by I remember noticing the dusty dried out grass thick with discarded hypodermic needles, and plastic bags, occasional used condoms, and piles of black plastic garbage bags were scattered close by on the flat ground between river wall and the flowing water. Another time, I watched a group of young men playing football on a cleared grassless area, and skillfully avoiding letting their ball go out of play on the river side. And along the arcades –  lungo i portici - there were to be found young men and women, some of them wild eyed and revolutionary, sat beneath the grafitti of political slogans.

And so on, reinventing the tradition. lungo i portici : I also understand that the Grillini are now already in total disarray.

La Fondazione

 Posted by at 10:14 pm  Old Men Travelling, OVER and BEYOND  Comments Off
Jan 022013

2013 – Welcome back at the inauguration of our News-stand: And don’t be put off by that hairy one growling at you in the shadows by the entrance. Come on in and have a good look around.

Is this “A Coming of Age”? Well, we have initiated a Triple Entry System to help us all find our way about:

1. The Topicalities – you can follow these through the Tag Cloud – describe the passagen-werk of our writer’s kiosk across a number of fluid continental locations

2. The Writing Style – this is one kind of Category – which is distinguished by IN… ON… OUT… & OVER… prepositions (ie shown in capitals)

3. The Collections of Bundles – this is our other kind of Category – which are the heaps of posts classified by their titles (ie x8 in all currently + x1 which is “Atelier” =  unknown)

In principle, the new system can be applied to everything. So for instance the “writer’s kiosk” is 1.) a news-stand, 2.) a frontier post, and 3.) a wisecrack location.

And so on… In this “Coming of Age” we don’t have any preferences for one meaning more than another: the Triple Entry System is as much a Partita Triple (in tre serie di conti or resoconti (reenactments)) or Dreifactbuchfuhrung, as a Tertius Furcus or 3-way, T (and cul-de-sac), and Y Junction, and/or equally a fork in the road (3-way rather than fourway carrefour / quadrifurcus / crossroad), and crossing point between worlds, valico di frontiera , Nexus Externa, Altweganstatzpunkt (aka Walter Benjamin), or Thirsa.

In this age of ours, which is one of changeability, uncertainty and austerity with the extremes of inequality and misery – much the same the same inopia which Leo XIII first described in 1890… and preached to America - only more so, we champion the Partita Triple  as the successor to the previous double-entry method, that cornerstone of capitalism invented by the merchants of Florence and Genoa 800 years or so ago, and brought to perfect being by Fra Luca Pacidi (1447-1517), the franciscan monk and collaborator with Leonardo da Vinci.

Under this new method we are searching for crumbs – “the gleanings” as we learned to call them last summer in Glasgow – those fragmentary elements in broken time and the relative dimensions of space.

Feb 232010
wordstall graffiti

Roberto Bolaño, Los Detectives Salvages (1998)


…With its front piece quote from near the end of Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano:

“Do you want Mexico to be saved? Do you want Christ to be our King?”



…And transcriptions of the accounts of the crowd of witness, painstakingly reconstructing the scene (‘pay attention’). What have we got to go on so far, one of the crime-busters asks, Not even vaguely anywhere, not even vaguely any day, the other one replies.


What we don’t get, and what we can’t even expect, is the story, such as the myth itself, or anything like it. There are a number of possibilities of course, the usual suspects. For example, here comes The Golden Fleece, the ‘sparkling into the dust’ for instance, which one of the super-sleuths also notices, and you have to take your hat off to them, these detectives don’t miss a thing. Yes, one of them says pointing into the crowd, Put that one in the line-up, agrees the other.


So they bring forward Jason, one of those amechanos kind of men (according to the Greeks), somebody we would judge these days as not lacking in courage, staying power or ambition, not a harmless fool by any stretch, but simply short of the necessary imagination, or perhaps better put, the ‘cunning’ to transform the objective.


Look for any blood on him, one of the detectives says.


They probably find plenty. Some hero of our modern age, they think to themselves, pretending it was he who did it, all blood and fluids and bits of gut on his arms. And the smell! Like the dragon’s teeth, one of the detectives says holding his nose, Right, the other agrees, There is no point keeping him, let him go.


They return to the task, walking slowly around and around, stopping and stooping every now and then to pick up any possible clues, even the smallest pieces, and laying them side by side in rows. What Walter Benjamin called Urgeschichte (‘primal history’), both demonstrating the practice and describing the method of research in his late masterpiece Das Passegen-Werk.