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”
A few ‘borrowed words’ from the novel Hot Milk by Deborah Levy:
On the 11th June 2014 I received the above message from Alexander McCall Smith. You can perhaps imagine how this affected me.
The Great Tapestry of Scotland. One of my oldest patients helped in the embroidery of one of the panels:
I subsequently made this film about visiting the tapestry in Stirling castle with my family:
Alexander McCall Smith kindly invited me to meet with him and wrote this in my grandfather’s old invoice book for his orchard:
Alexander McCall Smith has imagination alongside a natural sense of fun.
McCall Smith’s laughter is infectiously healthy!
I met Augustus Basil.
This was a day that I will not forget.
The following sentence comes from ‘Chance Developments’ by Alexander McCall Smith (from the signed copy that he kindly gave me):
[‘The future lies in the past’ might be one way of considering my films]
How silly it may be, but I sometimes imagine myself as the Antiquary and often stamp this (in water soluble ink) on places from the “past” that I have visited today. They are generally lost places:
I was born in Edinburgh in 1967. After studying Medicine in Aberdeen I studied Landscape Architecture with the University of Edinburgh gaining distinction in every subject and the Scottish Chapter prize.
Alexander McCall Smith describes Edinburgh in terms of the light. The very light that was appreciated by James Clerk Maxwell:
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
Alexander McCall Smith has brought light to so many (quotes from Chance Developments):
Alexander McCall Smith has a most wonderful PA. Thank you Lesley for understanding my wide-eyed self. Edinburgh’s shifting light, changing skies and sudden vistas.
Filmed at Lynedoch, Perthshire, Thursday 15th June 2017.
Peter is reading the words of Hilary Mantel (from the Reith lecture 2017)
Music is composed and performed by James Ross – “Beyond the Strath”
The first in a series of films celebrating the work of Geoffrey Jellicoe.
Music Credit: “Alice”
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.
I made this film after visiting the Temple of the Muses, by Dryburgh, on the last day of March 2017.
Another special novel by Anne Tyler that I would thoroughly recommend. It is a “re-telling” of The Taming of the Shrew: