online: 3 may 2009
modified: 2, 3 may 2009

2 may 2009 an evening picnic

above pond 3

...having just eaten out of doors i continue to write here on a grassy hill planted with isolated trees, and clumps of trees, so that the pond below and the rest of the heath are hidden...

... i was recently told* that my writing resembles what Richard Jefferies** wrote in the nineteenth century... i'd never heard of him but i looked today (via the web) to see if i agree... yes there are phrases that i might almost have written... and observations (of trees and grasses and animals and insects etc) that i might almost have made... but there are differences... his writing is more complex and better informed than are my brief notes...

...i particularly liked some words in which he describes his medium (pen and ink and paper):
I can never read in summer out-of-doors. Though in shadow the bright light fills it, summer shadows are broadest daylight. The page is so white and hard, the letters so very black, the meaning and drift not quite intelligible, because neither eye nor mind will dwell upon it. Human thoughts and imaginings written down are pale and feeble in bright summer light. The eye wanders away, and rests more lovingly on greensward and green lime leaves. The mind wanders yet deeper and farther into the dreamy mystery of the azure sky. Once now and then, determined to write down that mystery and delicious sense while actually in it, I have brought out table and ink and paper, and sat there in the midst of the summer day. Three words, and where is the thought? Gone. The paper is so obviously paper, the ink so evidently ink, the pen so stiff; all so inadequate. You want colour, flexibility, light, sweet low sound - all these to paint it and play it in music, at the same time you want something that will answer to and record in one touch the strong throb of life and the thought, or feeling, or whatever it is that goes out into the earth and sky and space, endless as a beam of light. The very shade of the pen on the paper tells you how utterly hopeless it is to express these things. There is the shade and the brilliant gleaming whiteness; now tell me in plain written words the simple contrast of the two. Not in twenty pages, for the bright light shows the paper in its common fibre-ground, coarse aspect, in its reality, not as a mind-tablet.
...but i usually write out doors, often in sunshine, while keeping the touch-screen in shadow... perhaps with a hand-held-touch-screen instead of pen-and-ink-and-paper Richard Jefferies would also have been able to read and write outside on sunny days? 

...looking up now i see that the sky is beginning to darken and soon i will return to the surrounding city...

...i guess he wrote indoors from memory (or perhaps from notes) whereas writing out of doors (of what is happening as i write) is an essential part of this diary...'s getting much darker now and two groups of picnickers nearby have grown silent as they stand to pack up and go... soon i will be alone here... but still in communication with people who may read this on the web in a day or two... and as yet without the permission of any kind of editor or guardian!...

...the trees now are completely still, i can hear two or three birds, and darkness is beginning to gather beneath trees and below the leaves of the undergrowth... and now i hear an owl, and an aircraft, and i can feel the irritating presence of one or two insects on the exposed skin of my neck...

...i breathe a single breath deeply... is there anything i wish to say in this writing (any message)?... no there isn't, my purpose is only to describe what is happening... whatever attracts my attention (or provokes thought)... present thought is of someone (whom i have never met outside the internet) who sent me this week a film made by John Cage and others***... the film has no subject, no purpose... apart from his inner purpose of making (by chance processes) a film that is a surprise to him and to everyone...

...and now it is more dark than light... an aircraft directly overhead sounds louder yet quieter, as if it is already half gliding, with engines on reduced power for landing... (and yes, it is said that Richard Jefferies was interested, decades before the event, in the possibility of people flying)

*by Timothy Emlyn Jones in an email

**the life and works of Richard Jefferies:

***John Cage described the film One 11 with two sound tracks 103 as follows:
the film has "no plot, no characters, nothing", hoping it would "give pleasure without having any meaning whatsoever" it is to be "free of politics, economics and even of oneself".

"Of course the film will be about the effect of light in an empty space. But no space is actually empty and the light will show what is in it. And all this space and all this light will be controlled by random operations."
...the film was sent me as a gift by Christian Glahn in Denmark who asked me out of the blue if i knew of some audio tales that are difficult to obtain... it happened that i have some which i was able to send to him... how wonderful it is that he should find (via the internet) that i had the tapes and i should receive the film, though until this week we were unaware of the existence of the tapes, the film, or each other... and also that Tim Jones was able to introduce me (so easily and quickly via the web) to the writings of Richard Jefferies... thank you to both!...

for comfortable line length set the window to about two-thirds of the screen width


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