Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Dr. Zhivago"

[larger version to read handwritings]

I don't get clearly if "middle class" is an accusation here like "lies" or a casualty like "nazi victims". They say that most of people in UK define themselves as a "working class" even if they are white collars and that stuff - a different picture with US (and, as I suppose, with Russia Moscow) where "middle class" term is used unconcernedly even if you have nothing to save.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lions again

Remembering recent comparison of Trafalgar square and British museum lions, today we suddenly discovered a new pair placed at the opposite side of the British museum building:

In the light Harold Speed regarded those sculptures (the importance of minding material peculiarity while still transmitting original's message), it's perfect, if you ask me - I mean, the mane is successfully simplified and so on. Also, it can be easily compared with Trafalgar square lions for the pose is almost the same and size doesn't differ that much either.

I've even checked the book again if the author had actually these stone lions in his view mentioning British museum, but no, he did really mean little heads on the front side railings.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 book presentation

Today, thanks to my friend's tip, I've visited this event. Despite my fears it wasn't just a boring promotion and the lecture turned out to be rather captivating and funny.

Key phrases:

"Never trust anybody who didn't watch The Wire"
"Actually, Barack Obama is the first white president"
"I've met my first Conservative at age 22"

Also, as an English neophyte, I've spotted one of those lovely BrE/AmE differences. In the beginning, Lander had read #11 Asian Girls post aloud, and here in UK the word "asian" stands for people from India, Pakistan and that region predominantly, in contrast to Chinese people in US.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crunch effects

It is not a secret that UK job market is rather tight nowdays, but few outside of the country do realize how much is it. I'm gonna demostrate it.

A short intro first. Usually recruiters send dedicated emails to candidates even if message is the same for all who have applied for a role advertised. So, the thing is that I've got another message of this type today with usual formal questions about my expectations from the role. This letter, like other I received, was addessed only to me. Quite a feeling that you may be not the only one who's being asked about the role but at least, say, a named guy to remember, and you may think your chances are not that weak. It's okay.

But there was a slight difference this time that made me to write this post. I mean, then the recruiter decided to send an minor update for this letter, and unlike the first message, it had all the recipients listed at its To: field.

Now, remember that there were not listed all who had applied, but only those who were recognized as somehow relevant and were decided to be asked further questions. Also keep in mind that the ad I'm talking about appeared online less than 24 hours before. And then, if you have a mental picture of the scene, you can proceed with caution to next paragraph:

In that email, 209 recipients were listed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mind the gap

Looks like this ad was specially designed for Russians: this poem becomes enormously impressive for a person brought up on The Plum Stone by Leo Tolstoy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Advancing through the guide I had cited from before, the following passage caught my attention:
What are those qualities of hair that are amenable to expression in stone? Obviously they are few, and confined chiefly to the mass forms in which the hair arranges itself. The finest sculptors have never attempted more than this, have never lost sight of the fact that it was stone they were working with, and never made any attempt to create an illusion of real hair. And in the same way, when working in bronze, the fine artist never loses sight of the fact that it is bronze with which he is working.

How sadly the distinguished painter to whom a misguided administration entrusted the work of modelling the British emblem overlooked this, may be seen any day in Trafalgar Square, the lions there possessing none of the splendour of bronze but looking as if they were modelled in dough, and possessing in consequence none of the vital qualities of the lion. It is interesting to compare them with the little lion Alfred Stevens modelled for the railing of the British Museum, and to speculate on what a thrill we might have received every time we passed Trafalgar Square, had he been entrusted with the work, as he might have been.
Obviously, places mentioned are familiar not only to newbie londoners like us but even to every tourist, so today we went to hunt some lions down and to check author's conclusion.

This is the Trafalgar one:

Impressive with its mass, although I can't really say it's breath-taking as a stand-alone sculpture (if no history behind imagined), but for other reason. My perception is stopped far earlier than it comes to bronze or dough or anything. I mean, that time of cheap high-quality photography dominance we're living in accustomed me to expect something to be unnatural (say, plainly geometric or surreally complicated) in an artwork. Just to be lifelike is no longer enough and some emotions must be expressed that can't be caught with a camera that copies shapes and colours religiously.

But what about British museum lions? Here they come:

Remember, the sculptor was complimented for taking material into consideration. If it really was the reason for partition, then his possible way of thinking could be rendered like this: "Hm, the bronze is not a material to represent a lion. Indeed, lions are made of flesh and blood, I've never seen a lion to be bronze. So - eureka! - there won't be a lion carved, only parts of it!"

As I said before, I don't like Trafalgar square lions much, though they are okay for their role in the ensemble. But I really can't understand how British museum railings can be compared with them. First, the very genres are different and second, those parts of lions that are still visible bear the same mane and paws realistic technique as Trafalgar beasts do. Yes, railings lions are more simplified, curls shaped without hair net carved on surface - but I think it's rather a matter of figures size, fine details would be lost under the mould precision limit anyway.

So, I didn't manage to see that difference in the artistic attitude. Maybe it's because of my ignorance. By the way, the idea with the railings wasn't original as I suppose, for there are a number of similar sculptures of the same age within the city centre:

Nevertheless, this walk was more informative than usually.

Central sketching

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sorry, bookworming again

From The Practice and Science of Drawing, 1913:
But while in science observation is made much more effective by the use of mechanical instruments in registering facts, the facts with which art deals, being those of feeling, can only be recorded by the feeling instrument—man, and are entirely missed by any mechanically devised substitutes.
While art is still opposing other activities here, please note that the author is trying to put it into a rational coordiate system with an explanation of an artist being a recorder for feelings, a complex recording device, not yet studied thoroughly but probably would sometime. No references to divine intervention and that pathetic stuff: the nature of many things and processes is unknown but there must be an explanation, and meanwhile we can give them names (i.e. Harmony, Beauty, Rhythm) and use them as black boxes knowing input and output.
[...] beauty is, strictly speaking, a state of mind rather than an attribute of certain objects, although certain things have the power of inducting it more than others
What a lovely Victorian era echo, badly missed nowdays.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Additional terms

Reading The Abolition Of Slavery (you can get this free ebook in Mobipocket format) revealed an interesting fact about US history, concerning the procedure of slaves emansipation. This procedure was difficult to perform without facing a contradiction with existing legislation (as the Congress initially refused to interfere with the institution of slavery).

The solution was found in putting this civil problem under the war jurisdiction, as Congress had limited war authority and the powers of war were limitated by the laws of the nations only. And according to the war powers slaves belonging to an enemy were regarded as belligerents first of all (for they had supported enemy's economy with their labour).

So, Southern slaves were being first taken as captives and then set free as a prisoners of war. Released captive is a free man, so it resulted to slaves in loosing their previous status. More exactly, not loosing but becoming free people in addition, which was enough to prevent masters from reclaiming their property back.

What has drawn my attention in this story is how it was necessary to become a prisoner first in order to become free.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doors open day

Are there any subscribers here who don't know me in person? If you are one of them, would you mind to leave a comment?

I'm curious because this blog has been advertised among my contacts only, so it would be nice to know that somebody who got here on occasion finds it interesting too (but, seriously, why?).

Thanks and have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Street newspaper

I've seen many people who looked like being homeless with the same magazine, captioned The Big Issue.

Some days ago I noticed another fellow sitting near a Tesco store not only with this magazine, but with a blue distributor's badge visible. So it really turned out to be a working distribution network (and, at least as they say, either profitable enough and charitable).

Another common local situation which is hard to imagine in Russia.

Continuing to discover Gutenberg Project

Just finished Pygmalion. Lively and vivid at the beginning, it almost bored me by the end - and this, as I can suppose, is not the book's fault but mine.

Still, what I really don't like in literature is when hypothetical and knowingly simplified actions are taking place at the hard-nosed, realistic sceneries. I mean all those real steet names, Mr. H.G. Wells appearing at the final essay and other details that make too much contrast with purely theatrical characters bearing one strain each.