Are the Scottish Documentary Film Institute Cheating Us?

I don't always want to be the one harping on about how public money is wasted on the arts, but it seems that the 2016 work of the Scottish Documentary Film Institute is going to drag my knuckles across the desk to the keyboard, so that I can commence with another rant.

I mean - - the fact that Creative Scotland can actually fund these guys to the tune of about £17,000 for each one minute video is insane, but that only becomes apparent when you actually see any of their work.  Having searched for the Scottish Documentary Film Institute (SDFI) I can also say they seem to be pretty well hidden, too, often hiding behind claims that their work 'needs to be secret to be effective.'

Read more: Are the Scottish Documentary Film Institute Cheating Us?

City of Edinburgh

The physical properties of the city of Edinburgh alone are enough to inspire awe in even the most determinedly impressionable, unobservant, English ape. But are best seen, rather than described. The populace, however, is ripe for ridicule. The population can be split in two roughly equal parts : Ancient and Modern. The former consists of 250,000 surreptitious wall-eyed hybrid Irish pub-dwellers, admirably possessed of a profound, seemingly infinite capacity for quiet reserve and decorous, delicate incuriosity, until drink-fuelled, they burst into extremes of hospitality and disinterested generosity.  I can't help but envy their complacent, effortless confidence in drinking every day.

Read more: City of Edinburgh

First Papers of Surrealism

appears as a signatory to the First Papers of Surrealism, although he wasn't in his day and certainly isn't today, officially aligned with the movement.  It's tough; nobody works in a vacuum, and associations are only natural.  And of all the movements of his day, Duchamp may have been drawn to Dada and Surrealism, although he was alwasy going his own way . . .

The document (I love 'Explorers of the Pluriverse') includes many who wouldn't now be necessarily thought of as surrealists, such as Edward Lear, and Marc Chagall.  But what's typically splendid about Duchamp's input is that whereas Andre Breton is the curator 'hanging' this printed exhibition, Duchamp is deliciously described as 'his twine'.

A full scan is available at First Papers of Surrealism.



Confession of Golias


In the public-house to die
Is my resolution;
Let wine to my lips be nigh
At life's dissolution:
That will make the angels cry,
With glad elocution,
"Grant this toper, God on high,
Grace and absolution!"


What Was Psychogeography?


In the 1950s psychogeography was earnest, modest, miniscule, and made no difference.

It makes me wonder too, why not just tear a page out and say it was an accident or something if anyone asks?

In the 1960s psychogeography was melded to the New Urbanism.  Architecture was the simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality, of engendering dreams, and the few who knew this had more liberty to express it than they even dreamed of.  The years were HALCYON.




Living in Europe and speaking 5 languages isn't that crazy especially since there is a lot of crossover among them.

Read more: What Was Psychogeography?

Plan Your Summer Parties

Now is the time to decide if you're going to host a super summer party, and if you are, you should make sure that your guests RUE THE VERY DAY they ever showed up at your house.

And who better to give you tips to make yours the most unpleasant invitation in town, than Alison Weekend Cutlet, party organiser to the clinically depressed.

Here, exclusively for readers of, the woman who designed Sir Elton John's wonderful 1997 suicide attempt, offers some original ideas guaranteed to create a fabulous whimper to highlight the summer gloom.

Read more: Plan Your Summer Parties

The Revival of Learning

Oh, himmin, Martha, I say Martha? Bring hence the most active hallucinogens, I feel a prophecy coming on … and lo, into the land of Tim'Bhoy, cometh the Lord of Radge callest To'sh and his Dark Companion Bobo, and there waxeth pish at Ba'a, and there is much wailing and rending of expensive replica garments, some in a criminally lurid green, calleth Sh'ell Suits. But muttering so that he alone doth understand, cometh again King Ke'enny to the land of Tim'Bhoy, and riddeth the place of the forces of Pish, unto the last Tombo'yd, and buyeth Scum from the English Second Division to replace them … and now Martha, ringeth oot a Pomegranate Supper and pass me the Scrolls, on which I have doodled this forenoon, there's a good quine …

Bitten by a Table

I gripped the table for support as everybody squeezed in - - and at that moment the first dishes were passed along.

Peter? someone said my name and the first plate landed on my left. I couldn't believe how hot the surface of the table had become, I figured that at this heat, a table of this sort should at least have melted or buckled. As my hand stuck to the hot table and peoples' voices merged so slowly that they went from speaking English into something new and foreign, I knew that I was unable to move.

The hostess squeezed a lemon over my starter. The lemon was bled, big and thick tears came out of it, a pip slipped on the seafood. People were eating down at the other end - - again someone spoke to me - the sound swelled - - others rubbed their fingers and tipped their glasses back and the nub of the table pressed itself into my body. A table leg shivered against my own which felt too weak to move or fight. The window was steaming up more's the pity - - I could still see enough glitter and spark from the cold however, and I made to stand up, apologising to those nearby.

The table gouged me - - it bit me I say - - wooden teeth seized my leg and tore  - - and that's when I tried to get up again.

I'll be remembered for pulling my plate and my neighbour's plate and two glasses of wine to the floor with me, where I stayed impressed upon the memories of all who saw me there.

Every face was a lamp above me - - the fire blistered in the grate - - I was picked up but at last I could manage myself, and I said thank you as they moved me to another room, where I rolled up my trouser and saw that indeed, there were really crude teeth marks there.

Planning Aberdeen

Aberdonian progress has not deviated since the Enlightened day that the modern town was built. The ancient map drawn by Gordon of Rothiemay in 1661 shows a trickle of a town with no design .... a selection of buildings laid in unsuitable conditions.  After a hundred years of this construction style the people were in one fell swoop placed in line by designers.  Within a century, these same people had begun to enjoy this linear living and put the solid granite effect into motion, and following the introduction of several ionic columns, porticoes and forward looking city plans, Aberdeen became is the epitome of modern rational behaviour, mens sana and lucid from street to street.

Read more: Planning Aberdeen

An Invective


Read more: An Invective



Ludwig Hatzer / Conrad Treger / Felicity / Blaurer / Clemet Ziegler / Micahel Sattler / Sebastian Franck / Capito / Wilsnack, where the three hosts Frau Wibrandis / Anna Sohmes


The Black Death in Alba

I have always been drawn to this description of the Black Plague in Scotland from Andrew of Wyntoun.  Wyntoun was a Scottish poet, a canon and prior of Loch Leven on St Serf's Inch and later, a canon of St. Andrews.

Andrew Wyntoun is most famous for his Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, which contains an early mention of Robin Hood. A striking feature in this description of the plague is the reiteration of the fact that every historian and chronicler repeats about the Black Death, that when it raged, a third of the population died from it.  Actually, chroniclers in other countries have stated that anywhere between fifty and ninety percent of the population died.

Though the plague definitely hit Scotland in 1349, it seems to have been less damaging here than elsewhere, perhaps due to the harshness of the winter.  Although this changed in 1350, the plague does also seem to have had an effect on English and Scottish relations.

I think I am most drawn in this to the cute word 'barnys' - 'bairns' to you and me.  The Book of Pluscarden (Liber Pluscardensis) also talks of a third of the population being wiped out, so the figure must be fair.


In Scotland, the fyrst Pestilens
Begouth, off sa gret wyolens,
That it was sayd, off lywandf men
The thyrd part it destroyid then
Efftyr that in till Scotland
A yhere or more it was wedand
Before that tyme was never sene
A pestilens in our land sda kene:
Bathe men and barnys and women
It sparred noucht for to kille them.


Its Simple Form a City

Wherever you stand in Aberdeen, the crime's identical : the Schemes and Projects constructed for the poor are laid out with the methodology of state planned poverty and have been designed by student architects who have only an hour to finish their thirteen-storey plans …. whereas the houses of the polite are thick walled and comfortable, well organised and laid out behind floral and gravel gardens.

It's nice in Aberdeen and in the North the living's gentle, but on the chill southern side of the River Dee, a greater caution must be taken.

Here is where technology fails. Maybe any town is the same but the intention is at its greatest in Aberdeen, for it was this deliberately divided Scottish city that invented the idea of separation, the theory of Cream and Milk.

Seen from the air and approached with red pens, the planning function is simple and a thematic map of Aberdeen develops fast. The harbour holds the fishing and the oil fleets and to the south of the harbour are the inarticulate tenements of the labour employed in these areas, along with the prison, the scrap yards, the dumps and the sheds and warehouses of all residual industry.

To the north of the River Dee is the City Centre of Aberdeen, the administration of the town, and here are many restaurants, shops, and insurance offices …. while ranged into the hills behind the City Centre are the poxy villas and cottages of suburbia.

Living here in the north, brows don't ever tend to knit from one week to the next, and just so, living away from their hated poor, this is how the bourgeois creates his geography and builds in its simple form : a City.

Art and its Viewers, Marcel Duchamp

“The exchange between what one / puts on view [the whole / setting up to put on view (all areas)] / and the glacial regard of the public (which sees / and forgets immediately) / Very often / this exchange has the value / of an infra thin separation / (meaning that the more / a thing is admired / and looked at the less there is an inf. T. / sep)."


Marcel Duchamp, Notes, note 10A

To Meta

In the juvenilia of one of the earnest poets of the past we are astonished at their seeming education and their grasp of language and forms that we cannot start to use.  I think of Matthew Arnold’s ‘To Meta’ probably written about 1849. 

Read more: To Meta

The Lapse of the Artwork into Commodity

Marcel Duchamp's Three Great Putative Gestures were:

1. Adding a moustache and beard to the Mona Lisa in L.H.O.O.Q (1919);

2. Bottling Paris air (1919);

3. The creation with Man Ray's help of his artistic alter-ego, Rrose Selavy (1920 and 1921), who featured on an empty perfume bottle, whose purpose was to provide a bottled version of the artist.

Read more: The Lapse of the Artwork into Commodity

Who Was Palinarus?

Palinarus stands for a certain will-to-failure, perhaps a repugnance to success, a desire to give up at the last moment, an urge towards loneliness, isolation and obscurity. Palinarus, in spite of his great ability and his conspicuous public position, deserted his post at the moment of victory, and opted for the unknown share …

King James Counterblaste to Tobacco

King James I and VI, advice to smokers.  King James Ist and 6th, for he was famously and simultaneously both — was King of Scotland as James VI from July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death.

As well as being the first big Unionist on the scene (#indyref) the King was a keen writer, and among other things, now described by academics and critics as 'minor prose works', wrote what we would now call an essay, titled A COUNTERBLASTE TO TOBACCO.

The kingdoms of England and Scotland were individual sovereign states in those days, with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union.  I can't work it out either, although his stance on tobacco was clear.

Read more: King James Counterblaste to Tobacco