Silent as light

The Antiquary: “is preoccupied on every level by the relation between past and present.”

Mary Midgley: “These doctrines are often bizarrely over-confident and over-simple”

George Orwell in Why I Write: “… one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one’s own personality”

Raymond Tallis in Summers of Discontent “There are several things to be noted about emotions. The first is they fill the world with meaning”

Kenneth Calman in Makars and Mediciners:  “It is perhaps here that the role of literature and the arts generally can have an advantage, by the author exposing poor health choices and behaviour patterns, in ways which are more powerful and effective than that of the medical teacher or professor. The writer’s imagination and expression can change things. The word can be powerful.”

Nathan Filer in The Shock of the Fall: “I think that’s what I am doing now. I am writing myself into my own story and I am telling it from within”

Andrew Greig: “He knows fankle from bourach.”

Raymond Tallis in Defence of Wonder “When we are in love we see the ordinary things about another person for what they are: not in the slightest bit ordinary.”

Gilbert K. Chesterton: “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder

“She makes sunlight dim” (Sian)

Thomas Tranströmer to his lifelong friend Robert Bly: “In this climate it`s all or nothing. Anybody not 100% for is “self-evidently” 100% against. Have I given you a little picture of the climate? All you can do is Follow your own crooked conscience, wait for the moment of truth and hope you won’t need to be ashamed one day of how you lived through these years.”

Raymond Tallis: [Philosophy is a return] into that nearest, which we invariably rush past, which surprises us anew each time we get sight of it”

Tomas Tranströmer: “Balansnummer is ‘balancing act.’ The poem is partly a protest-poem against the prevailing mood in Swedish intellectual life. What I say is that finding the truth, being honest etc. is a difficult individualistic act of balance, you have to put off the rhetoric, all slogans and moustaches and prejudices and . . .”

Stephen Bann, MIDWAY: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay: “I recall saying once to Finlay that the special feature of the letter as a literary genre was that one never went back on the first draft to produce a fair copy.”

Nathan Filer in The shock of the Fall: “I have approximately 7.4 x 1027 atoms in my body”

Ian Hamilton Finlay: “Sometimes my wee best seems just not good enough”

Richard Holloway in Leaving Alexandria: “The toughest lesson life teaches is the difference between who you wanted to be and who you actually are. And it can take a whole life to teach it”

Robert Louis Stevenson: “Letter to a young gentleman who proposes to embrace the career of Art”

A. S. Byatt in Possession: “He put little slips of paper in the entries that made up his fragile narrative or non-narrative”

Adam Nicolson in Sea Room: “I’m wedded to this plunging-off form of thought, and to the acceptance of muddle which it implies”

Mukul Kesavan in Looking Through Glass: “Like all chroniclers of the relatively recent past, history ran out against the present”

Julian Barnes in The Noise of Time: “He bought a large scrapbook and pasted ‘Muddle Instead of Music’ onto the first page.”

Ronald Ross: “Science is the differential calculus of the mind, Art is the integral calculus; they may be beautiful apart, but are great only when combined.”

Walter Scott in The Antiquary (in Oldbuck’s room) “Amid this medley, it was no easier to find one’s way”

Margaret McCartney in The Patient Paradox: “The conclusion that variability is bad is distant from the much simpler observation that patients are all different.”

Robert Crawford in Young Eliot: “Leafiness suited him”

Alexander McCall Smith in Chance Developments: “His one and only book, ‘The Future Lies in the Past’, eventually published”

Patrick Deeley in The Hurley Maker’s Son: “I sensed the sun, beaming from a place that was higher than the world”

Penelope Fitzgerald in The Bookshop: “The sky brightened from one horizon to the other”

Hanya Yanagihara in A Little Life: “You made art because it was the only thing you’d ever been good at, the only thing, really, you thought about between shorter bursts of thinking about the things everyone thought about.”

John Berger in Here is where we meet: “To find any sense in life it was pointless to search in the places where people were instructed to look.”

Edmund De Waal in The White Road: “He writes a letter about how things are made, but it is actually about compassion.”

Alice Hoffman in Faithful: “No one could count all the stars. There are far too many.”

Madeleine Thien in Do Not Say We Have Nothing: “So familiar to me, like an entire language, a world, I had forgotten”

John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men: “Both men glanced up, for the rectangle of sunshine in the doorway was cut off”

Gardens of the Mind

I have put together this post in my appreciation for Geoffrey Jellicoe (1900 -1996).

Jellicoe was an architect, landscape architect, historian, traveller, lecturer and author. He has been a lasting inspiration for me.

When I studied landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh it was Jellicoe who was the guide for my mind’s eye. Without Jellicoe, I feel certain that I would not have gained distinction in all subjects along with the award of the Scottish Chapter prize. I was not a good draughtsman but I had ideas; uncultivated ideas. Six years of training in Medicine (at the University of Aberdeen) had rather stifled my creative and imaginative self and I was altogether rather too tight and rigid. In good part, I feel this a consequence of the unhelpful, and really too strict division between the so-called ‘two cultures’.

In what follows I have “borrowed words” of my betters, taking three quotes from a number of my favourite authors: marginalia and fragments that for me somehow seem to say something about Jellicoe and the ‘two cultures’. Interspersed are a few short clips of Geoffrey Jellicoe talking about draughtsmanship and gardens of the Mind.



 

The funeral took place in radiant sunshine

Auchengray House has been a ruined shell since a catastrophic fire in 1937. At the time all was going horribly wrong for the multi-millionaire owner, J M Colville. Not only did he lose in the fire his collection of fine antiques and paintings, but not long before the fire his mother had died and then his sister jumped in front to a train.

It was this darkness that led to the building of Gribloch, the new hoose, one of light, designed by Basil Spence.

Epitome of current medical literature

This film takes as its title the opening section of the British Medical Journal of the last century.

The idea behind this film is to question what may be considered as “medical literature”?

I have deliberately placed myself at the centre of this film. What may appear as “monomania” is quite deliberate! I don’t know about you, but I read for pleasure and also because it gives me access to the lives of others. Literature opens up new worlds for me.

In this film I surround myself with some of those authors I have enjoyed reading and who have helped me to grow as a person and as a doctor.

We must remember that we are all subjective. We cannot put ourselves into the minds of others and truly share their lived experience.

This film also suggests, by including reference to the “modern ruin” St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, (built in 1967, the year I was born) that we pass through time and that we age. I have included consideration of passing time as literature reminds us that medical science cannot ignore this.

In short this film is an artistic expression of the so-called “two cultures”.

Music credit: Spem in alium – Thomas Tallis

Locations:
(1) The Pineapple, Dunmore
(2) Mossgrove, Bridge of Allan
(3) Old Stirling Bridge

Backdrop:
Authors whose words have featured in my films.

The blue flower

A dear friend of mine, John Flaxman, wrote this poem saying:
“I dedicate to you and your extraordinary work.”
 
Peter

blue 
and green, upon blue
head open toward sky
petal sides burst
and 
wings fall back,
gut open back into the
blue
Unknown to  Dr John Flaxman, whose poem was written after visiting my garden in the rain, I had made this film almost two years ago. It is one of my favourite short films:
 

The city is yours

I recently transferred old family slide images to digital format.

Of the 1000 or so images, I was particularly struck by the panoramic, yet intimate nature of the photographs of my parents honeymoon in Paris in April 1964.

The city is yours from omphalos on Vimeo.

The pioneer and genius

This film is about Henry Salvesen who built, by hand, Scotland’s first car.

Salvesen built the car for his family estate, Lathallan.

Lathallan is now most ruinous. Though it still looks out. Upon a roundabout of cars.

Who would be your ‘pioneer and genius’? And who ‘sparkles and shines” for you?

The pioneer and genius from omphalos on Vimeo.