A SCENE FROM AN UNMADE FILM

In memory of Mantas  Kvedaravicius,documentary film maker, killed in Mariupolis,, aged 43, by  Russian Federation  forces on April 4 2022. This text appears in Livingmaps Review 12.

The  Long Room in   Putin’s Palace on the Russian Black Sea Coast. The room is furnished in the style of Louis XIV, with ornate gilt framed mirrors on the walls. At the far end there is a  bigger than life size portrait of St Vladimir, the patron saint of Russia, holding a globe  in his outstretched hands  under the legend ‘ He made our world possible’. Read the rest

IN PRAISE OF IGNORE-ANCE

 

I recently had the experience, fortunately an unusual one, of being snubbed. Blanked Out. Given the cold shoulder. The bum’s rush.   Evocative enough phrases to describe the sensation of being ignored.

I had offered to give a talk to an academic department where I had previously given seminars, in a college where I had been a visiting professor for a few years and where I had got on well with my academic colleagues.… Read the rest

The Cat Sat on the Map: Some reflections on post human cartography

The city of cats and the city of men exist one inside the other, but they are not the same city. Few cats recall the time when there was no distinction: the streets and squares of men were also streets and squares of cats, and the lawns, courtyard, balconies, and fountains; you lived in a broad and various space. But for several generations now domestic felines have been prisoners of an uninhabitable city; the streets are uninterruptedly overrun by the mortal traffic of cat-crushing automobiles; in every square foot of terrain where once a garden extended or a vacant lot or the ruins of an old demolition, now condominiums loom up, welfare housing, brand-new skyscrapers; every entrance is crammed with parked cars; the courtyards, one by one, have been roofed by reinforced concrete and transformed into garages and movie houses or storerooms or workshops…

Italo Calvino, The Garden of Stubborn Cats

 

Calvino’s famous short story was written in 1963 as the post war boom in city rebuilding was taking off in Italy; a version of architectural modernism was transforming many historic urban neighbourhoods into up or down market versions of Le Corbusier’s dream of the city as a ’machine-for-living’.… Read the rest

On losing the Royal touch

How do you map a monarchy? Depict the location of its palaces and other places of residence? Display the extent of its  material  wealth or  its  kinship connections ? Create a genealogical tree or a psycho-geography of members of the royal household? Or devise a cartogram showing  their  personal popularity or  lack of it with different groups of  ‘subjects’?

A wealth map  would be an obvious starting point, but understandably members of the  Royal Family are a bit touchy about the extent of their personal  and collective wealth .… Read the rest

A LOCKDOWN POEM

Crossing the Pandemoticon

It began with a hand

clenched experimentally to ear

not so much a fist

as a makeshift mouthpiece

designed to broadcast  miracles

speaking in tongues:

 

‘habari,kangarooshni,slapit

nego,nego,unulti possum!

craaghi covid ipsit cunnilingo ?

es krampit   todo   kwa heri ‘

 

a polyglot  mother tongue

Nordic vowels, Slavic consonants

Swahili syntax, Latin verse

with just a touch of Lewis Carroll

to stitch into proper nonsense

 

all in the hope  some passers by

might stop and listen,

become alarmed,

and call a  passing drone

to guide  me to a  ’place of safety’

where the only voices heard

were broadcast   in my head.… Read the rest

A Long Life in the Making

 

Phil’s has created a Vimeo video of the book with selected readings.


 

This is an afterword to my father’s  memoir which I have just edited  for forthcoming publication by eyeglass books.

I thought that the reader might  be interested to know a bit more  about the biographical background to this memoir, what motivated and influenced my father to write it,  its relation to other books about life in the Gorbals, and finally what was at stake for me personally in editing  the text.… Read the rest

ON THE UNHOMING OF FAMILIAR THINGS

 What follows is from a forthcoming publication  with the above title by eyeglass books  which  contains extracts from my lockdown diary. 

MATERIAL DREAMS : SOME  AFTERTHOUGHTS

Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria, declared for him: and even Stigand, the patriotic archbishop of Canterbury, found it advisable–“‘`Found what?’ said the Duck.` Found it,’ the Mouse replied rather crossly: `of course you know what “it” means’` I know what “it” means well enough, when I find a thing,’ said the Duck: `it’s generally a frog or a worm.… Read the rest

Political Mindfulness and the Pandemic : an interview

In this interview  Phil Cohen discusses his latest project and two linked publications from the Left wing think tank Compass.

How did this project come about?

For me the starting point in this journey  goes back to the 1980’s , the Kinnock years, when having abolished the Young Socialists  because it was controlled by Trotskyists, they launched an initiative called Labour listens to Youth.… Read the rest

Political Mindfulness: Fresh Perspectives on Multiple Crises’

By Phil Cohen

The text assembled here represents a thoughtful attempt to begin to find a way out of the current impasse in which progressive politics finds itself.

The collection explores the connections between the personal and political dimensions of mindfulness and how this might help us build strategies capable of winning the battle for hearts and minds in a post Brexit, post pandemic Britain.

Read the rest

Compass Webinar – Living Maps – June 17th

A Compass Webinar, in association with Living Maps
Pausing for Thought: Mindful Perspectives
on a Multiple Crisis.

Wednesday, June 17th 18:30 – 20:00    
Sign Up Here!

First there was Brexit. Then the Labour Party goes down to a historic defeat with its most radical Social Democratic agenda since 1945. Then widespread floods across the country presage an environmental apocalypse to come unless climate change is properly addressed.

Read the rest