Category Archives: Books

Dear Wen: Greater Things…

Dear Wen,

Graves’s Greek Myths I am familiar with. It was one of my ‘bibles of old’. Many a happy hour has been spent chasing the reference notes through the leaves of that classic. He does have his biases, bless him, as do we all, but the discipline instilled all those years ago, may have been partly responsible for my mind’s penchant to traverse, shall we say, circuitous routes.

In colour terms, we are only really lacking Green. Does the screenplay of our film being written by Greene count, I wonder? If anyone doubts the veracity of a psychological approach to the interpretation of this film we are bound to point out that both Freud and Jung lived and worked in Vienna, which could therefore be called the home of psychology. It is certainly the home of the psychoanalytic method. There are also a number of stills from the film which were used for promotion purposes which have been, ‘doctored’ to show, Holly and Anna casting Harry’s shadow. Check it out!

‘What can I do, I’m dead aren’t I?’ Gives a new perspective to the term carte blanche, perhaps.

In the film, Harry, the ‘eternal child’ who even dresses in black, like a shadow, does get raised, or rather elevated. He takes a ride on the Big Wheel, but he does so at his own instigation, and not Holly’s. Holly has arranged to meet him there, simply to be out in the open, and safe! Has he worked out that Harry murdered the Porter and the Medical Orderly we wonder? Quite possibly. In the event, Holly almost gets shot and thrown out of the cabin of the wheel when it has reached its zenith. Only the fact that the police have dug up Harry’s coffin saves him… Etruscan Architectural Traditions: Local Creativity or Outside Influence? – Brewminate

Well, as the Romans (Acch phut) habitually stole their Gods and Goddesses from the Greeks, gave them different names and tried to convince themselves that they had in fact invented them, I am wondering about the Greek original for Cloacina? Ah, she turns out to have been an Etruscan deity, and the Etruscans, were in mythological terms, heavily influenced by both the Phoenicians and the… Greeks! You begin to see the advantages of circuitous thinking, I trust?

…In defence of his flagrant racketeering Harry compares himself to the state authorities. They have their five-year plans and so does he. They refer to the proletariat, he to the mugs and suckers. It is hardly a convincing argument but recent events may have revealed it to have more truth than, perhaps, was previously thought…

Continue reading at France & Vincent…

Dear Don: Art and Soul…

Dear Don,

You might be interested in having a read through my ‘Greek Myths’ by Robert Graves… two hefty volumes, but a nice edition, with the red and black cover. I still have a fondness for Bullfinch myself, as a basic reference, even though you can guarantee I’ll grumble my way through almost every telling…

Black and red, black and white… there is something in the polarity of extremes that speaks to us wordlessly, even when we don’t consciously notice. I suppose the glitter of ‘fool’s gold’ is another such extreme contrast to the mundane grey of many lives.  But the hand that grasps finds itself shackled by its own desire, while the hand open to what is offered finds itself filled with riches…

I would watch the film but I don’t want to skim through it. I want to give it the attention it deserves… and at the moment, things are a tad manic around here. It is odd, though, how much of a mark it left on me, even as a child. I can still remember watching it on my grandfather’s television, more years ago than I care to count… and having him explain a story I was too young to understand.

As to Cloacina… a cloak, or a veil?

Rejecting ‘base matter’ never seems to get you very far, while accepting the beauty and precision of its design and interdependence, and recognising their part in the spiritual journey, could justly be called passing the first Veil of the Temple.

Cloacina, the goddess of the sewers, was also seen as Venus Cloacina, goddess of purity and protectress of marital relations. Back to extremes again… at least in as far as human perception tends to go…

Continue reading at France & Vincent…



Getting to the Hurlers proved easy enough…



Clustered, as they were, around the extremities of Bodmin Moor…



But the weather closed in…



Almost as soon as we set foot to turf…



Which made the prospect of a climb up to the Cheesewring, and Stowe’s Pound, a decidely unlikely event…



We walked as far as we could before caution proved the better part of valour…



And then, the sun came out…



Somebody, somewhere, muttered something about stones and humour.

Playing Place…


Well, it didn’t take us long to get there did it?

But let’s ponder a moment

what this structure could mean…

We could call the two flanking uprights,

Summer and Winter,

or Night and Day,

or Them and Us,

and it would not really matter which was which.

If we did that though, what would we call the holed stone?


The Rock of Brentor…


‘…A church, full bleak, and weather beaten, all alone, as it were forsaken…’


“St Michael de Rupe?”

“St Michael the Rock.”

“I thought St Peter was supposed to be the ‘Rock’?”



“The rock referred to here, is volcanic.”




“Though you would never know it now…”



“…The church-tower can still serve as a beacon.”



“Curioser and curioser…”

“Wait till we get inside, Alice.”





Circle of Stone…


If ever there was a monument that ought to be regarded as fake.

This is surely it.

So far as we know it is unique,

although there are many holed stones.

The others are usually uprights, stand alone, and have much smaller holes.

But if it is authentic, and we have never come across

any suggestion that it is not,

then it is an indication that the ancients

ritualised, and that they thought symbolically.

This should not come as a surprise.



The Marsh King’s Daughter III…


barbrook III (14)

Hi-ho the Carrion Crow, bow and bend to me…


…There usually is.

Perhaps one reason for the tale’s obscurity these days is its perceived, overtly, Christian message.

This takes the form of a priest who is captured and tortured by Helga’s Viking fosterers, provokes in her the first stirrings of love and compassion and affords the young girl opportunity to embrace the process which results in the fusing of her day/night time personalities and her achievement of wholeness in mind and form.

However, the culmination of this process is complicated somewhat by the priest’s death at the hands of robbers and his subsequent appearance in a dream vision and by the denouement of the tale which sees the Changeling Child whisked away to heaven by the priest only to return a short time later and find her original home now long lost to the ravishes of time.

The Rip Van Winkle like nature of the priest’s ‘heaven’ may give inkling  to the original story source for this episode, as might his appearance on horse-back wielding his cross much like a knight would wield his sword.

As an other-world component of the story the Christian priest is perhaps less dramatically successful than he might be as a ‘Fairy King’ or ‘Lord of Light’ but still gives us pause for thought and contemplation as to the precise mode of consciousness his figure represents.

That’s almost all, folks…


 ‘What would the world be, once bereft

Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,

O let them be left, wildness and wet;

long live the weeds and the wildness yet.’


All photos – Sue Vincent.

All epithets – The Grateful Dead, ‘Mountains of the Moon’.

Epitaph -‘Inversnaid’, Gerard Manly Hopkins.

The Marsh King’s Daughter II…



‘…The Earth will see you on through this time…’


…There always is.

The Marsh King sinks back beneath the waters with the unnamed Egyptian Princess in his thrall.

Some time later a green shoot with a water-lily bud appears above the slime.

The bud unfurls to reveal a small girl-child.

The child is spotted by a watching Stork and is taken to a barren Viking couple who, quite naturally, are enthralled with the gift and immediately besotted with the child.

Children normally display both the physical and temperamental characteristics of their ancestors, predominantly their parents, and usually in more or less equal measure.

Here, these tendencies are pronounced.

Helga, for this is the name the Viking couple choose for her, is a beautiful girl-child during the day, albeit displaying a strong blood-thirsty streak, whilst as the sun sets she turns into a compassionate, toad-like monster!

Is the name significant?

How important is it that Helga is the only named character in the story?

Could any device be better chosen to make us consider the diurnal polarity of Day and Night and their profound affects upon our consciousness and its natural tendencies?

Cold mountain…

Warm earth…

If we are in any doubt as to what we are to make of these devices we are introduced to the somnambulistic nature of both Denmark and the nether regions of Marsh-Land later in the tale.

To make matters worse, Helga’s apparent beauty beguiles all those who gaze upon her and blinds them to the reality of her brutish day-time nature.

It is only her adoptive Viking mother who witnesses and begins to see and realise the true nature of the problem presented to both her, and by extension us, in the form and expressions displayed via the mysterious Marsh King’s Daughter.

There is more…