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Sunday surprise — literal rainfall ancient and modern

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote in the arts ]

Guillaume Apollinaire:


Il pleut

Il pleut des voix de femmes comme si elles étaient mortes même dans le souvenir
c’est vous aussi qu’il pleut merveilleuses rencontres de ma vie ô gouttelettes
et ces nuages cabrés se prennent à hennir tout un univers de villes auriculaires
écoute s’il pleut tandis que le regret et le dédain pleurent une ancienne musique
écoute tomber les liens qui te retiennent en haut et en bas.

Roger Shattuck, brilliant author of The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France) translates:

It’s Raining

It’s raining women’s voices as if they had died even in memory
And it’s raining you as well marvellous encounters of my life O little drops
Those rearing clouds begin to neigh a whole universe of auricular cities
Listen if it rains while regret and disdain weep to an ancient music
Listen to the bonds fall off which hold you above and below

As Edward Hirsch comments at Poetry Foundation:

The slanting lines of Apollinaire’s poem create the sensation of rain running downward across a windowpane. Graphic form and verbal music come together as each long vertical line becomes a rhythmic unit of meaning

— which is itself a verbal / visual DoubleQuote!


Code running downward..


This was brought to mind by the magnificent title sequence of the Le Carré thriller The Night Manager:

essentially completing a second DoubleQuote with those falling droplets. those rising bubbles — and there are several filmic equivalents of DoubleQuotes graphic matches aka match cuts — in the sequence itself: bomb cloud > martini, tea cups >machine gun, contrails > pearls..

I’m always happy to see more Le Carré on film..

Of the Mahdi and the Matrix

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

[ by Charles Cameron ]


There’s a book by Douglas Harding that I very much doubt Samir Khan has read, which may still be relevant to the ad in Inspire #4 that Jarret Brachman pointed to in this piece on Cronus Global — in which he notes the parallel between Inspire‘s ad featuring the choice between paradise and hell, and the choice featured in The Matrix between the blue and red pills…


That image, with its headless figure, put me in mind of another image that greatly interests me — a portrayal of the Imam Mahdi by Mahmud Farshchian — so I rescued it from my files to see if it was a good enough match with the ad for me to suggest a possible second graphic influence to Jarret:


Not surprisingly perhaps — considering that Samir Khan’s work is, putting it crudely, an advertising graphic, whereas Farshchian’s is a work of devotional art, and that furthermore Inspire is a Salafi-jihadist journal while Farshchian is a pious Shi’ite — the match isn’t close enough for me to argue influence…

But it did set me thinking.


The title of the Harding book to which I referred above is On Having no Head, and although it now carries the subtitle Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious it actually draws on Islamic traditions quite a bit, quoting Rumi:

Behead yourself! … Dissolve your whole body into Vision: become seeing, seeing, seeing!

and Attar:

Cover your breast with nothingness, and draw over your head the robe of non-existence.

and proposing — I’m putting this into my own words, now — the notion that the physical form of a human face is in some sense no more than a mask, veil or hijab over that light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1.9) — a light too profound for the conventional gaze.

And it is this profundity, attributed in Islam to the prophets in general and superlatively to Muhammad, which makes their literal portrayal a matter of some controversy…


Farshchian’s Imam Mahdi, like Khan’s Islamist Morpheus, is headless, I’m suggesting, because, to speak figuratively, radiance has taken the place of the face.

Which is also why, in this image of what must be for Muslims one of the holiest nights in the history of the world, the Night of the Mi’raj, the Prophet is portrayed without a face — or veiled — in this Persian miniature:


and transfigured by his own fiery “halo” of illumination in this one:


Wednesday, February 7th, 2007


So…this is that YouTube nonsense that entertains the internet masses….

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