Another Country

Someone Else’s House-George Shaw 2018

Somebody should have told you
That there was never any future
In lying supine,
Idly dreaming
Of your lost glory days
The vanished grandeur of your imperial passage
When you subdued the very waves
And subjugated the nations of the world
With boots pressing downturned faces
Further into the mud until they choked,
Striking accords and treaties
Then perfidiously reneging
Carrying cargo requiring whips and chains
A-looting and a-raping
Destroying and acquiring
Wholesale pillaging
But you know, all for their own good
A civilizing mission of course
Truth be told it was all a bit of a burden
But somebody had to do it and who better than us?
Quite quite but can you see the future
In dreaming of a past that was actually a nightmare
And how it poisons your present
Making your current decline
Take on the bouquet of a corpse
Your empire resulted in beaucoup bad karma
And a backlash that reverberates and echoes
Not only did you oppress and degrade the colonized
But we dehumanized ourselves in the process
Turns out that your manifest destiny
Was to be exceptional only in dissembled aggression
Yet you still wrap yourself in the flag
Butchers apron, a filthy bloody rag
While cultivating a loathsome air
Of detached superior nonchalance,
Fundamentally supercilious
Undermining any attempts at seriousness
With a deadly withering irony
A scornful reproach of all decency
Yet we are still surprised
When we encounter all the hate
Displayed by neighbours and others
Further a-field, all over in fact
Can’t they see what we did for them
All those ungrateful so and so’s
Can you believe that they think of us as some
Stricken beast too stupid to know that its dead?
Well we will show them one day
If only the enemy of the people
Those traitors and bleeding hearts
Would stop talking us down
If only we could rouse and wake up
Then we might dream
Of starting over again, though this time
We would make sure that the sun
Never ever never sets

Alienists

Blue Birds in the Tree-Scottie Wilson ca 1960

Sometimes I am overcome with the suspicion
That I am a stranger on this earth
Descended from a peripheral order of beings
An alien on this planet come from a distant star,
Faraway galaxy, parallax dimension
Some shape of a castaway, convict or changeling
Perhaps just a forgetful idler who slept passed their stop
And shuffled off at the end of the line

But the trick is to be at ease

Of course I have on occasion demanded to see the manager
But that was met with shrugs and sighs conveying
Studied confusion, blank indifference or downright hostility
Nobody seemed to know anything and cared even less
Initially I thought well what is the point of them?
But maybe they were feigning ignorance
Covering their tracks, keeping secrets, hiding truths
About myself however banal they turned out to be

Surely you realise that this is not the way to go about things
I think we may have a situation
You are clearly not at ease with yourself and your surroundings

Surrounded by screens bombarded by images and text
Deluged with data indices statistics and factoids
Which I passively absorbed hoping to later sift and sort
Through the theories ideologies conspiracies and revelations
Perhaps somewhere in this sewer of misinformation
I can decipher a message from a distant dimension
A faraway star, a parallex galaxy my lost
Home that I fell from those forgotten aeons ago

You know we have ways of making you feel at ease
And you have, despite our repeated warnings
Persisted in persisting
You leave us no choice so…
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself
You are at ease in your surroundings
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings
You are at ease in yourself
You will be what we want you to be
Feel what we want you to feel
Say what we want you to say
Think what we want you to think
Be what we want you to be

You are now at ease in yourself and your surroundings


As long as I do not remember certain moments
Incidences or sensations that elicit strong reactions
Then I will be alright, I will be at ease with myself
I doubt it ever happened that I shot my cuffs,
Lifted my finger signaling for you to come over,
Bend over my knee and lift up your skirt
That only happened in my non-existent home
Vanished star, imploded galaxy, voided dimension

They have promised me that when I feel completely
At ease in myself and my surroundings
That I will be granted a vision of the birds of paradise
Descending down from the vast unreachable heavens
Onto these somnolent suburban streets and gardens
Setting hearts and minds ablaze with motion and colour
To carry us away toward a richer more vibrant realm
A distant galaxy, faraway dimension, parallax star.

Palpating for Absolution

Kay Sage-Le Passage-1956

I touch your skin with a hope of palpating your heart
To cause an excitation within your mind that travels
Down and around towards the tenderest target zones
Leading to an exultation that abolishes all barriers
Just for a moment a confusion reigns as to where I stop
And when do you start to begin once more again

Ever constricting circles nearing the vanishing still point
The ever eluding aim the shimmering illusionary goal
Of my hesitant groping then more assured stroking
As you strain to reach those regions unknown to me
Still I long for and hasten your complete surrender
Emptied and spent experience blank devasted serenity

I touch your skin unsure whether this repetition is a curse
Or some form of blessing preceding a final absolution

Inferno

Sandro Botticelli-Map of Hell circa 1485
Sandro Botticelli-Map of Hell circa 1485

Dante’s Divine Comedy is one of the  undisputed masterpieces of world literature and the crowning achievement of the medieval world-view. Representing the allegorical journey of the soul through the three realms of the afterlife, Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, the Comedy offers a series of vividly dramatic scenes that has ignited the imagination of artists throughout the centuries, especially the unforgettable voyage through the seven circles of Hell, where Dante with his guide Virgil hear the stories of sinners as they undergo the eternal torments of the damned.

Sandro Botticelli produced a number of exquisite silverpoint illustrations, probably commissioned by Lorenzo De Medici during the latter years of the 15th Century, however the project was never completed. William Blake taught himself Italian to be able to read the Comedy in the original and spent his final days feverishly working on a series of sublime watercolours. Gustave Dore’s sombre and majestic otherworldly etchings are probably the greatest completed visual rendition of Dante’s narrative. In the twentieth century Tom Phillips produced a unique take in his limited edition of Inferno.

Below are examples of the four artists work based around episodes set in the Inferno. I have also included  Stockhausen’s Luzifers Abschied, which has to rank as the strangest, most left field, left handed experimental piece of music (or any other media, for that matter) included in Cakeland; just in case anyone wants to really immerse themselves in the infernal atmosphere of the artworks.

Sandro Botticelli-Illustration for Divine Comedy circa 1485
Sandro Botticelli-Illustration for Inferno circa 1485

William Blake-The Inscription over the Gate 1824-7
William Blake-The Inscription over the Gate 1824-7

William Blake-The Simoniac Pope 1824-7
William Blake-The Simoniac Pope 1824-7

Gustave Dore-Lucifer 1861
Gustave Dore-Lucifer 1861

Gustave Dore-Traitors 1861
Gustave Dore-Traitors 1861

Tom Phillips-Canto XIX 1981
Tom Phillips-Canto XIX 1981

Tom Phillips-Canto XIV-1982
Tom Phillips-Canto XIV-1982

 

Flora, Fauna and the Eternal Feminine

Marco Mazzoni
Marco Mazzoni

The elaborate and enigmatic drawings of the Milan based artist Marco Mazzoni are created entirely by coloured pencils. Drawing on Sardinian folklore of an underground matriarchal culture of witches and herbalist healers, his drawings frequently feature a female face surrounded by, (with the eyes always obscured), finely detailed studies of variegated flora and fauna. Combined with an undisputed mastery of chiaroscuro the effect is seductively disturbing with an undercurrent of bewitching danger and riotous decadence.

Marco Mazzoni
Marco Mazzoni 2

Marco Mazzoni
Marco Mazzoni 3

Marco Mazzoni 4
Marco Mazzoni 4

Marco Mazzoni-The Rescue 2015
Marco Mazzoni-The Rescue 2015

Marco Mazzoni 6
Marco Mazzoni 6