Sunday, November 14, 2010


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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mere-torr (A Tower Built by the Sea)

Built to guide ships, I shall guide none,
Armada is sunk and gone,
And all the golds and all the reds in all my rooms
Fade still pristine, never ever lost or won.

Faite pour guider des nefs, je n'en guiderai point,
Armada a sombré au loin,
Et tous les ors et tous les rouges de toutes mes chambres
Disparaissent vierges encore, et ni pertes ni gains.

They sweep past me, the valiant sails,
And their lookouts to no avail
Watch for the gleam of new lands, quarries to build empires,
And sneer at the sea, and the stones, and the hail.

Elles passent et tourbillonnent, voiles vaillantes
Futilement leurs vigies mal-voyantes
Cherchent l'éclat de terres nouvelles, des carrières d'où tirer des empires,
Et méprisent la mer, et les pierres, et la grêle sifflante.

We three thus sit always alone,
All three gilded, all three wind-blown,
Come forlorn on a ship wrought only of your own dreams
If you wish to claim the star-gazing throne.

Tous trois nous siégeons retirés,
Tous trois dorés, par l'air jetés,
Venez perdus sur un navire fait de vos seuls rêves
Si vous prétendez au trône éthéré.

Click me to read spoilers

The Seastorm by Pieter Bruegel (the Elder), c. 1568.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Announcing the Metropolitan Church of Pripyat and all Deserts

Pripyat image by Matti Paavonen on Commons

To be master of one's senses is to be master of one's world.

This is a tenet of Wonderworking (and it's pretty logical, when you think about it) : alteration (and thus, control) of one's senses, especially vision, is a major aspect of the process in creating a Wonderland.

It logically follows that all that which increases control of one's senses is holy/kosher/halal/asha/etc. (pick your own) to the Wonderworker, while all that which decreases this control is evil/treif/haram/druj/etc. In a digital environment, it is relatively easy to "control" an image (once an adequate one has been found), thus the Internet is kind of the Jerusalem/Jerusalem/Jerusalem of Wonderworking.

However, it is also my intention to translate Wonderworking "in real life", and I have sometimes done so. But Wonderworking is similar to film-making, or music recording : all "unwanted input" mar the quality of the Wonder, or render it impossible to attain. Unfortunately, unwanted input is rampant in today's modern life - noises, crowds, ads, excessive lighting, etc.

Thus, I will, under the umbrella (wink, wink) of the "Metropolitan Church of Pripyat and all Deserts", explore means to alter and control my own senses and, simultaneously, to reduce "unwanted input". Since Wonderworking should stay cheap and attainable by everyone who whishes to, this will involve neither LSD nor neutron bombs (although I'd really like to visit the ghost town of Pripyat above, which, if you don't know, is the town where the Tchernobyl nuclear plant was).

Experiments will follow. More on this later.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fjallskerðandi fjallskarð (Beguiling Gap in the Mountains)

A host marches north and through the Gap
And conquers and dominates and wanes
A troop fares south and through the Pass
And vanquishes and celebrates and passes
Empires of sun, empires of snow, empires of sand and of sea all -
All but trickles of water, flowing away, drying away,
Through the Gap.
And kneels and kneels again the tame, flat plain
Yet the Pass belongs to none
But those who pass, their eyes not set on what's beyond.

Une armée marche vers le nord à travers la Trouée
Et conquiert, et domine, et disparaît
Une troupe avance vers le sud à travers la Passe
Et vainc, et triomphe, et passe
Empires faits de soleil, ou de neige ou de sable, empires de mer tous -
Tous ne sont que filets d'eau, qui s'écoulent, qui s'épuisent,
À travers la Trouée.
Et la plate plaine servile s'agenouille encore et encore
Pourtant la Passe n'appartient
Qu'à ceux qui passent, sans regarder ce qui est au-delà.

Click me to read spoilers

Blick in das Tal von Kreuth by Wilhelm Alexander Wolfgang von Kobell.

Some Escapist Partialism again (you'll notice how Escapist Partialism tends to be used with 19th century art - this one is from 1810). There seems to be no "main subject" here, but I wonder... what's this grey shape at the front ? It really looks like a giant man with a top hat. Perhaps it was intended.

It would call for a form of Frontground Wonderworking...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jórsalaferðinn (The Journey to Jerusalem)

Thus appears
Thus walks past
And disappears
The Puy du Connétable, the stone grown upon stone.
A Puy is good, weary, slow, triumphant connétable,
But have you not thousands ? Each dune build upon dune, and hill gazed upon hill,
Your well is the desert - drink it to drunkenness
And well you'll have conquered, wayward crusader !

Ainsi paraît
Ainsi marche aux côtés
Et puis disparaît
Le Puy du Connétable, la pierre tirée de pierre.
Un Puy est bon, fatigué, lent, triomphant connétable,
Mais n'en as-tu pas mille ? Chaque dune bâtie sur dune, et chaque colline vue sur colline,
Ton puis est le désert - bois-le jusqu'à l'ivresse
Et puis tu conquerras, croisé égaré !

Click me to read spoilers

This one is, perhaps, a bit far-fetched ; but consider it an exercise in far-fetching. It is an extract from "Humours of an Election" by William Hogarth, and, as you may guess, the actual subject has very little to do with Palestine or Crusader castles. William Hogarth is a well-known painter and satirist whose main subject is 18th century England.

This illustrates how Minute Wonderworking (and especially Orthodox Marginalism) often relies on a combination of detail (here, William Hogarth's background depiction of what is probably supposed to be a church, as an icon of rural England - note the cottage nearby in the original picture) and lack of the selfsame detail (here, the depiction is blurry enough that one may perfectly imagine some kind of hilltop crusader castle, akin to this one for instance).

Behold the power of Minute Wonderworking : from 18th century England to 12th century Palestine in a snap of... mind.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Steinlyptingar (Forecastles of stone)

To each hilltop its castle, and to each man his own.
Wars are long gone, now remains a labyrinth
Of ridges, of vales, of a sea of woodlands,
Of mountains undisturbed, and precious rare stonewalls.
No more kingdom in Arnor but for striders,
No more duchies in the Vosges but in dreams.

* * *

À chaque sommet son château, et à chacun le sien.
Les guerres sont depuis longtemps disparues, demeure un labyrinthe
De crêtes, de vaux, d'une mer de forêts,
De montagnes impassibles, et de rares, précieux murs.
Plus de royaume en Arnor sinon pour les rôdeurs,
Plus de duchés dans les Vosges sinon en rêve.

Albrecht Altdorfer again. But this time, the style is different, closer to medieval-style miniatures. As you can see, the picture (a "Triumph of emperor Maximilian during the Swiss war") has three "planes", and of course, only the smallest, furthest away one interests us minute wonderworkers.

Below is a wider gaze at the sea of hills and trees in which these steinlyptingar sail.

(Again, really unsubtle retouching, but the only goal is to avoid having things so ugly they distract the viewer.)

Afdölum (Hidden valleys)

The hill is climbed, the forest ended -
Is there no more, is it all done ?
No, for there stands a house on the hill beyond,
And walk towards it, I will.
And a valley, and another, and a valley once more -
Should I hear a voice saying, "This is the end, I'll settle here",
I will stifle it, stifle it with the infinite void of the valleys beyond.

La colline passée, la forêt traversée -
Est-ce tout, est-ce achevé ?
Non, car voici un toit sur la colline au loin,
Et vers ce toit, je marcherai.
Et une vallée, et une autre, et une vallée encore -
Si j'entends une voix disant, "Voici la fin, ici je m'établis",
Je l'étoufferai, je l'étoufferai avec le vide infini des vallées au loin.

Click me to read spoilers

Now this is true, orthodox marginalism, of the strict minutiaephile kind. The minute wonder above is from "The Appearance of Christ before the People" by Alexander Andreievitch Ivanov, and as you can see here, it is indeed a very, very minute wonder in the whole picture.

So much that one wonders (you should pardon the pun) why master Alexander thought and bothered with including it. But apparently, this good man took twenty years to complete this piece, so he probably had lots of time to think about adding minutiae here and there. Why he did, thought, I'd be curious to know.

Below is a less minute, but still very endearing minutia - the scattered buildings in the first valley. Perhaps it was the initial goal of our restless traveller ?

(Yes, I know - the retouching is not professional. That's because I'm not a professional.)