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Cluster index: Alan Wall

The world we live in.

Alan Wall: ‘he Plague is no longer a historical item, safely bracketed away with things that no longer happen. All those buboes. It is back on our streets, in our homes, in our lungs.’

Each lexicon a labyrinth.

Alan Wall: ‘We have steamrolled our modern orthography and conventions on to the Shakespeare text. We should always try to get back to the original language of Shakespeare: it can be a revelation.’

Birthing the Minotaur.

Alan Wall: ‘The price of civilization is our emotional crippledom. You want the Taj Mahal, Michaelangelo, aeroplanes? Then go buy yourself a mental walking-stick.’

Of Entropy and Knees.

Alan Wall: ‘Dyer has noticed that he’s started to get on a bit, and he’s noticed that a lot of other people have too. So he has become interested, not only in the question of his knackered knees, but also in the question of late style. So, what is it, exactly?’

The tramp’s companion.

Alan Wall: ‘The essayistic mind-set has an open aperture at both ends. It does not close itself off with conclusions. It remains provisional, in order to dance on the page.’

The first 80 years of Bob Dylan.

Alan Wall: ‘The aristocracy to aim for was the aristocracy of the road. It was the lineage described in Guthrie’s autobiography, Bound for Glory. It was there in the great blues tradition of Blind Willie McTell and Robert Johnson. You keep on moving from town to town.’

The Persistence of the Song.

Alan Wall: ‘Blues has had an incalculable influence on modern song. Many of the basic riffs of the Rolling Stones come straight out of standard blues refrains: Keith Richards has been an assiduous student of black music.’

M. Baudelaire’s nightlife.

Alan Wall: ‘Nineteenth-century France does appear to be full of fellows slagging off their old mums at every opportunity, and having tea with them the following day. Oedipus reconciled, eh. Baudelaire’s trial for obscenity took place in 1857; Flaubert’s in 1859.’

Two short poems.

Alan Wall: ‘You promised me
your imprimatur
But I knew in your heart you were
always a traitor’

Why I am not a philosopher.

Alan Wall: ‘I do have a fondness for the philosophical miscreants, the delinquents of the humanities block. Kierkegaard is at his best when he is destroying the philosophical pretensions of Hegel.’

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.’


Alan Wall: ‘When Christians decided to impose their figural readings on the Hebrew Bible, and to employ typology, they deemed the text before them to be allegorical, or at least to have allegorical potential.’

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.’

Pop Songs.

Alan Wall: ‘ You could half-whisper into a mike, and you were instantly in a bedroom, disrobing. Leonard Cohen was very close to the mike. There was a reason for this: in any orthodox sense, he couldn’t sing. He was endearingly aware of the fact.’


Alan Wall: ‘Etymology is mostly strict and scholarly these days. Even to the point where it contradicts our presuppositions. Faced with the word ravenous, we might reasonably suppose that a raven lives there. After all, this is a big, commanding, eye-plucking bird. Pruk-pruk. It used to make a feast of our dead, lying around after battle – maybe it will again one day. But here the etymology disappoints.’