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Index: Notes & Comment

Angels of the singularity.

James Gallant: ‘There is no explanation for 143 of the 144 sightings studied between 2004 and 2021. This is worrying, since unidentified aerial phenomena pose a “safety of flight issue” and “possibly a challenge to national security.”’

African art.

Garreth Byrne: ‘Today’s indigenous travelling vendors trade in lighter woodcarvings and folded-up colourful patchwork quilts and paintings. They know what fits into suitcases and sells easily.’

Poetry, undefined yet concrete.

Simon Collings: ‘The concrete poetry movement emerged in several countries contemporaneously in the 1950s – Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil, Austria, Japan.’

Reading Joyce in Guarani and Hieroglyphics.

Peter O’Brien: ‘O’Neill’s detailed and exhaustive overview not only tracks each and every translation to date, he also climbs into the personalities of the members of the translational tribe. He calls such people “clearly a very special breed – and clearly given to heroic endeavour.”’

India Objectified.

Tom Lowenstein: ‘This, in sum, is a book that could not have been written or presented differently. It is bewildering in both its wealth and diversity, and no single “native” devotee could know about or understand so many other traditions.’

Plum Pudding Books.

Anthony Howell: ‘…ponder the garden of forking paths that a library may conjure up in the mind of a writer such as Borges.’

Passion framed by silence.

Michelene Wandor: ‘The Great Passion is clearly what we would call a ‘literary’ novel (a tautology! How could imaginative writing be anything but literary?). Useful definitions claim the literary as a novel which doesn’t race along on a plot axis, may be considered ‘serious’, perhaps belonging to ‘high’, as opposed to mass or popular, culture. It may garner prizes, possibly move at a slower pace than, say, a spy novel or a thriller.’


Anthony Howell: ‘It is a stressful read, an account of one man’s very real suffering, given the uncertainty as to the outcome, the steep expenses incurred in hiring a legal team for defence (over a hundred thousand pounds, only fractionally remunerated), as well as the shredding of a personal and professional reputation’

On ‘Wood Circle’.

Rupsa Banerjee: ‘The poems, taken as isolated instances, do not generate specific images, but the collection as a whole evokes a fragility of reference which alternatively hinges on poetic language’s own resistant folds and the multiple surfaces of the object-world.’

What are poets for?

Alan Wall: ‘Tarn spends a lot of time looking back, including over the religions and the peoples he has studied. He has an insatiable curiosity where cultures are concerned. He looks forward too, with Solomonic gravitas.’


Anthony O’Hear: ‘Can there be education without some aims (against which success is to be judged)? Without some sense of where the lesson might lead, even if we as teachers should be prepared to adapt the goal in the light of what happens as we teach? Can there be teaching without assessment of some sort? Isn’t assessment an integral part of teaching (as opposed to uncommunicative lecturing)?’

Citizen Fisher.

Simon Collings: ‘In the margin next to this passage Fisher has written: ‘This is terrible, in its values as well as its narrative. But it’s true. True voyeur. The horror-freak-stuff is worst. But the point of view needs doing; and my own part as real voyeur. Everybody’s a voyeur at this time.’’

Nothing romantic here.

Desmond Egan: ‘I greatly admire Gardner’s mastery of precise, unexpected, everyday imagery…’

The Beatles: Yeah x 3.

Alan Wall: ‘So cataclysmic were the changes, that we cannot re-think ourselves into a history without the Beatles. If the Stones really were an alternative, they were an alternative that couldn’t have evolved the way they did without the Beatles. They even recorded their compositions.’

The pleasure of ferocity.

Michelene Wandor: These [stories by Malika Moustadraf] are harrowing; sexual prejudice and violence; unwilling prostitution; marital misery; cruelty to children and animals; the detritus and chaos of the domestic and urban environment, with cockroaches and decaying food.’