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International Poetry Day

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 21 Mar 2015, 02:53

Today 21 March is International Poetry Day.

So here's one of my favorite poems. I often think about it. Its author is Issa and the date it was written is March 1818.

A pheasant calls out

As someone blind

Crawls across the bridge.

Credit

Haiku adapted from Chris Drake's translation.

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Calendar leaves haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 12 Mar 2015, 01:42

A movie cliche.

The wind takes the calendar leaves.

We still cry though.

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Oliver Sacks

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Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks has let it be known that he is dying.

For many years he has been an inspiration to me, ever since I read The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.

His writing combines relentless scientific curiosity with a deep empathy towards the patients he comes into contact with. This has earned him a world-wide correspondence and the many case histories people have sent him over the years make his books fascinating almost beyond belief.

In the final chapter of The Mind's Eye, he gives a courageous personal account of suffering from a retinal tumor. At the time it was successfully removed. Unfortunately it must have left behind a trace which has since spread.

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The millpond

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 3 Mar 2015, 00:29

Watching lights in the millpond.

My hands frozen to the rail.

No movement.

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Riddle Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 1 Mar 2015, 01:50

Blown off in autumn.

Missed in winter snow.

Blossom. No need now.

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New blog post

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 22 Feb 2015, 15:43

Recently the Belgian Artist Frederik De Wilde exhibited a square blacker than any human being has ever seen before. Blackboards look black to us but actually reflect as much as 10% of the light falling on them. De Wilde's black square reflects 0.01% - one thousand times less.

There is an impressive image here. New Scientist magazine have described it as an attempt to paint nothing.

The work is a reflection of the celebrated Black Square that the Russian Malevich showed in St Petersburg in 1915. The image above is an image of Malevich's work that I found in Wikimedia Commons. This painting had huge influence at the time and I believe at the end of his life the artist had it hanging in his bedroom. Today it is in a fragile state (with the black foreground crazing to reveal the white below), and in another echo from the past De Wilde's NanoBlck-Sqr #1, which uses carbon nanotubes on a white frame, is so delicate that you are only permitted to view it under supervision.

But neither Malevich nor De Wilde have captured what nothing looks like. The blind have a better understanding, which you can share. What do you see round the back of your head? You've no eyes there, so you just saw (or didn't) nothing. And it's not a bit like black.

This might seem trivial or frivolous, but it's not at all. I have a big blind spot (nearly half my vision) and people ask me frequently what I see there. They expect it must be a black patch. But it's not: it's nothing. That's very hard to explain. And impossible to paint. It wouldn't be an empty canvas, a sort of visual equivalent of John Cage's composition 4'33''. And it wouldn't be a black square. It would have to not exist.

 

 

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Sonnet and Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015, 02:28

One of the verse forms I most admire is the sonnet, and another is the haiku. There are many differences but both display a classic structure and an economy of expression.

A favorite sonnet of mine is Shakespeare 73.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
 
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
 
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
 
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
 
I tried to compress this into a haiku. Here is my attempt.
 
It's autumn now
Smell of burning leaves. Winter follows
Hold tight, hold tight.
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Warm in Bed?

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 7 Feb 2015, 01:54

Everything else being equal, will you be warmest

a) Sleeping on the floor?

b) Sleeping on a mattress on the floor?

c) Sleeping on a mattress on a bed?

I've tried all three. I think most will agree b) beats a). But what about c) versus b)?

I felt warmer, and explained this by the air between the bottom of the mattress and the floor being a thermal layer.

However a friend disagrees (strongly). In their view the air gap between mattress and floor makes no difference. Any warmth that percolates down from my body to the air layer below will simply flow out the sides, and so only the mattress sits between me and the temperature of the floor.

Who is right in this heated debate? Can anyone comment?

 

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My Current Book

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 30 Jan 2015, 02:11

Life, A User's Manual, by Georges Perec

I've often heard of this book but never read it. Glad I didn't before, because it means more to me now.

Two thirds to go, but summarized

A Parisian apartment block appears as a doll's house, but with the lives of inhabitants minutely described (unlike a real doll's house).

At the same time it's a chessboard, perched on a jigsaw puzzle.

The moving part is the lives described and the sympathy shown.

I was surprised by all this. I'd really like to know how other people react to the book. Please write in.

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People and tree rings

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Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 10 Jan 2015, 00:36

Before reading this I never thought about how human populations, like trees, carry evidence about past weather events.

In a bad year trees add narrower tree rings. Children grow less.

The impact of the 97/98 El Nino storms on rural populations in Chile caused people to grow up nearly a hand's width shorter than otherwise expected. That's a lot.

 

 

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I keep another blog...

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... where I write about visual perception and matters to do with disability and my personal experience of it.

If you are interested you can visit partialinsight.wordpress.com

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Frozen Lake Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 6 Jan 2015, 01:33

Ducks were skidding

On a frozen lake.

Where a fox thought it would catch them.

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Haiku without a season

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 5 Jan 2015, 01:24

You knew I was lying.

Cried the liveforeverbird.

You knew. You knew.

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Haiku for winter

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 29 Dec 2014, 01:36

In summer the old man puts up a brave face.

Easier in winter.

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My other blog...

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 19 Sep 2014, 01:49

... is about vision and what it's like to lose part of it:

http://partialinsight.wordpress.com

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New mist

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 7 Sep 2014, 01:12

Wading through tiny mist

Suddenly it's autumn

Yesterday summer.

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Warm and cold haiku

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It's winter now

Our warm feeling for war

Dismays me more than ever.

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Summer haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 24 Aug 2014, 03:03

 

Why was I brought into existence cries the philosopher.

The grasshopper does not answer.

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Rain haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 00:22

It's easy now

Living with a bunch of ghosts

Except when it rains.

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Volunteering

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 00:23

Not that much to say really. Just that having a stroke decided me to volunteer for the Stroke Association. I think it's an impressive organisation.

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Haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 9 Apr 2014, 00:36

Old man

Why do you still keep the big plates for the winter feast?

Time.

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My new blog

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If you find your way here stranger, I have become visually impaired and now blog about my experiences at

http://partialinsight.wordpress.com/

I hope you may like to follow me there.

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"After the rain"

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 29 Dec 2014, 01:42

After the rain

The stickleback

Came back up the stream again

And the hedgehog to the lane.

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New blog post

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 10 May 2012, 01:30

Spring rain,

And a frog on the path.

Tread carefully old man.

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a haiku

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I dislike the booted

gardener crushing snails.

But applaud the thrush.

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