Nowadays, cameras can tell you exactly where you were when you took a photo, as well as exactly when you took it. But I can’t be doing with all that. I prefer taking photos like this one as I do my out-and-abouting, that say, as this one does, “You Are Here”:
And that one says it in French. Excellent.
We’re in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, in the bitterly cold February of 2012. Even remembering how cold that visit was makes me shudder now. But the Pompidou Centre itself was warm enough, and the views in it and from it were most diverting.
I have quite a few Paris postings here now, but have yet to transfer any of the postings from the old blog that I did about that earlier 2012 trip . My favourite, from a more recent and much warmer visit, featured my all time favourite food photo.
Two photos I took within moments of each other at Vauxhall Station, in January 2011:
I show you that one because I really like it. The Three-Eyed Elephant-and-Castle Tower looked particularly good when isolated, as it no longer is, and when framed by stuff in the foreground.
And then there’s this one, which does not score nearly so well for artistic effect, but which does show you that the Shard was then in the process of being constructed:
There the Shard is, or at any rate what they’d so far done of the concrete spine of it, on the left.
I can remember having friendly disagreements with Michael Jennings about whether they’d actually build that Thing, despite all their protestations that they would. I thought they’d build it, because I’m a pathological optimist. He doubted it, because he did. Because of that, the building will always have, for me, a slightly miraculous quality about it. Michael only had to have been a bit more right than he was (and we are talking about a man who is very right indeed about a lot of things), and like the Helter Skelter, the Shard might never have happened.
Here are some photos I took in and around City Island in 2017, while it was in the process of being constructed:
As you can see, there are maps and images as well as photos of the finished objects, to tell you what this place was going to be like. And cranes.
City Island is a particularly perfect illustration of what Modernist Architecture has now become, and as I have said here before, I quite like it. I especially like how City Island has what amounts to a moat around it, which gives it the appearance of a micro-Manhattan.
I entirely understand why Ancientists think that Ancientist architecture should also be allowed, and I’d also quite like to see more of that. But I suspect that if there were more of that, even the protagonists of such buildings would find themselves being somewhat disappointed, both in how others react and in how they find themselves feeling about what they were in theory so keen on seeing.
The basic aesthetic problem that new building of the sort we see on City Island is the sheer amount of it that is liable to be happening at any given moment. If lots of buildings are required, all for some similar purpose, then whatever gets built is liable to start out looking and feeling rather meaningless. And that emphatically will apply, I believe, if a mass of fake-Ancient buildings is what happens. That is awfully liable, at least to begin with, to look all fake and no Ancient. To look, in short, meaningless. So, why fight it? Why not build what makes economic sense, in a style that is rather bland, but efficient and reasonably smart looking, and be done with it?
What gives meaning to buildings is not just the way they look when they first appear; it is the life and the work that subsequently get lived and done in them. Because of those things, buildings acquire a particular character, and people start to have positive feelings about those buildings, provided of course the life and work they associate with the buildings is something they also have a positive feeling about.
If people hate what happens in new buildings, they’ll hate the buildings and yearn to see them destroyed, no matter what style they were built in.
It became clear from the very first paragraphs of False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg that I was going to have to start revising my prejudices about its author. If, later in this book, Lomborg ever tries to downplay the centrality to the climate argument of the claim that our planet is heading for a climate catastrophe, as opposed merely for a dose of mere climate change, and to deny the centrality of climate science to the climate debate, instead banging only entirely about mere economics, he certainly doesn’t start his book by doing anything like that. Quite the opposite (pp. 3-4):
WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF FEAR – particularly a fear of climate change. One picture summarizes this age for me. It is of a girl holding a sign saying:
YOU’LL DIE OF OLD AGE
I’LL DIE OF CLIMATE CHANGE
This is the message that the media is drilling into our heads: climate change is destroying our planet and threatens to kill us all. The language is of apocalypse. News outlets refer to the “planet’s imminent incineration” and analysts suggest that global warming could make humanity extinct in a few decades. Recently, the media has informed us that humanity has just a decade left to rescue the planet, making 2030 the deadline to save civilization. And therefore we must radically transform every major economy to end fossil fuel use, reduce carbon emissions to zero and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity.
Children live in fear and line the streets in protest. Activists are cordoning off cities and airports to raise awareness that the entire population of the planet is facing “slaughter, death, and starvation”.
Influential books reinforce this understanding. In 2017, journalist David Wallace-Wells wrote a lengthy and terrifying description of global warming impacts for New York magazine. Although the article was generally panned by scientists as exaggerated and misleading, he went on to publish the same argument in book form in The Uninhabitable Earth, which became a bestseller. The book revels in unabashed alarmism: “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” Likewise, in his 2019 book, Falter, naturalist Bill McKibben warned that global warming is the greatest threat to human civilization, worse even than nuclear war. It could finish off humanity not with an explosion but “with the burble of a rising ocean.” A bookshelf would groan under the weight of recent books with deliberately terrifying titles and messages: Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change; Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity; The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; and This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America.
Media outlets reinforce the extreme language by giving ample space to environmental campaigners, and by engaging in their own activism. The New York Times warns that “across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.” The cover of Time magazine tells us: “Be worried. Be very worried.” The British newspaper the Guardian has gone further, updating its style guidelines so reporters must now use the terms “climate emergency,” “climate crisis,” or “climate breakdown.” Global warming should be “global heating.” The newspaper’s editor believes “climate change” just isn’t scary enough, arguing that it “sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”
Unsurprisingly, the result is that most of us are very worried. A 2016 poll found that across countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates and Denmark, a majority of people believe that the world is getting worse, not better. In the United Kingdom and the United States, two of the most prosperous countries on the planet, an astonishing 65 percent of people are pessimistic about the future. A 2019 poll found that almost half of the world’s population believes climate change likely will end the human race. In the United States, four of ten people believe global warming will lead to mankind’s extinction.”
You can read the first twenty five pages of this book, including the above quote, here.
I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, and I came to realise that the permanent photo on my computer wasn’t helping. It was of a boarded up house in Brittany, and it was there because that seemed appropriate for the times we are all trying to live past. But, because it was so appropriate it was also deeply depressing, just like the times we are all trying to live past, and it was making those times, for me, even worse.
So, I changed the photo to this:
That’s quite a proclamation there, I think you’ll agree:
EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT
This sign is still, so far as I know, to be seen in one of my favourite spots in London, which is the top of the Tate Modern extension. I must have photoed literally thousands of photos up there, and in a lot of them the evening sunshine is bouncing about in there in highly confusing ways, what with all the glass partitions there are there. The above photo, one of many I have photoed of this slogan, is chosen so as to be clear what’s going on. Some of the others are major puzzles, I can tell you, but this one is simple and readable. You know where you are with it.
This slogan was installed in Tate Modern in 2018, it having previously been elsewhere. As prophecies go, let’s just say we’ve all seen better, and it’s meant to be ironic. But despite its comically extreme inaccuracy, I have found it to be strangely soothing, and a great improvement on the boarded up house.
So numerous and complicated have been the photos I have photoed in this place that I haven’t known how to display them. The answer is just to make a start, and keep on doing it. More to come, I (almost) promise.
TATE MODERN IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. I really miss the place. Most of what’s in it always looks very ignorable, so I mostly ignore it, but I do like this sign.
My life and the world are both a bit of a mess at the moment. I’ll spare you the details of the former, by just saying that these details are indeed messy without in any way being life-threatening. The mess the world is in you know all about, even as you and I may well quarrel about who’s fault it is and what needs doing about it. Just so you know, I’m right about that and if you disagree you’re wrong, but I see no need and now feel no desire to elaborate on that basic truth.
So, escape, in the form of yet more happy memories from The Time Before All This:
This was a game of cricket at the Oval, a walk across the River from me, in July 2016. I was originally only going to post the one with the silly hat and the artistic one, with the shadows, photos 8 and 7. But then I thought, have a good old wallow. Thank you again Darren. Darren being my friend Darren, the Surrey Member, who gets me in with him as a guest.
Photo 1 is the first ball of the match, between Surrey and Gloucester, hit by Jason Roy, pictured there, to the boundary. Photo 9 is the end of the match, with Surrey having won at a canter. All the others are the sort of photos of sporting events that Real Sporting Photographers ignore, but which I really enjoy. All the incidental stuff. The signs and commemorations. The groundstaff and their equipment. The crowd and their various habits and antics, fuelled by drink.
I can wait to go to the Oval again, to see another game. But only because I will have to. Can’t come too soon.
Things here have been a bit casual today, so here’s a quota photo to beef things up, of the I Just Like It sort:
This mysterious photo was photoed by me somewhere in the Centre Point Covent Garden sort of area of London, in May 2015. I don’t think I have ever done a blog posting about it before. I think that because I still don’t know what I could possibly have said about it, and I don’t know now either. What does it mean? He really wants to see what is in front of him, and what’s behind him, is all I can think of.
It looks like a rather old photo, from the sixties or some such antique time, and maybe rather famous. But, what do I know?
I like the L-plate. Riding that would take a bit of learning.
The basic reason I do personal blogging has always been that I don’t want any constraints placed by some agenda, in my case a political one, on what I consider to be interesting, or beautiful, or amusing, or interesting, or just likeable in some indefinable way. The rule I try to stick to is: Never, if I actually do not, say what I think or feel that I am supposed to think or feel. If that results in “contradictions” between things I consider of interest, so be it.
All of which is a preamble to saying that I hope I never stop doing postings like this one, with photos like this:
All of the above photos were photoed in March of 2012, on the way to (photo 1), on the way from (photo 28), or at or from (photos 2-27) the Royal Victoria Docks, which are out beyond Docklands. This evening, I came across a little directory, where I’d put them all, with something like this in mind. All the work of selecting had been done. So here they all are. And yes, you are right, I do have very conventional tastes in sunsets, with interesting things in the foreground. But if you ever decide to dislike something you like, because other people also like it, more fool you.
I love how shoving up great clutches of photos like this is so much easier than it was at the old blog, and that it is easy for you to click through them, if you want to, just as slowly or as quickly as you like, without a lot of backwards-and-forwards-ing. I don’t think that’ll ever get old.
Two Big Things were, at that particular moment, under construction. They were finishing up with The Shard, and they were building that weird cable car thing across the River, having, in March 2012, got as far as building the towers but being yet to attach the cables or cable cars.
One of my favourite Things at these docks is the new footbridge they built across it. It’s great to look at, and it’s great to look from.
I really hope that by the time half decent weather returns, some time around March 2021, I’ll be in a fit state to take advantage of it, and do more of this kind of photo-perambulating.
I am happy to note from my site stats system that a posting I did here about Jeppe Hein‘s Modified Social Benches has been receiving a regular trickle of visitors, as has this posting of photos of these red benches done more recently, during Lockdown, with consequent silly plastic tape all over them.
So, here are some more photos of these red benches, photoed by me on the very first occasion that I saw them, or at any rate the first time I properly noticed them, on May 22nd 2017:
As you can see, they were still working on their installation. But already, you could see that they were being well received. I now realise that the biggest one to be seen in these photos, the one in photos 3, 6, 7 and 8, was only there for a short while. It doesn’t appear in my later postings, so it had to have been gone. I would not have missed it otherwise.
In the first posting above, the photos were all done in rather dim weather, which emphasised how colourful these things are. The above photos, done in bright sunlight, are no less colourful, I hope you will agree.
I made my trip (see below) to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and the trip had the effect of making the state I was in, i.e. the reason I went, worse. Any posture is uncomfortable for me just now. Even just sitting in a moving bus is a bit of an ordeal. So the X-raying was no fun, especially when I had to lie down. They wanted my toes pointing inwards, for some reason, and that was, it turned out, particularly uncomfortable. But they were very nice and didn’t waste any time, and here I am back home.
But not in any state to post more than one quota photo, of a sign, in the cubicle where I went to get changed beforehand:
As of now it is unclear what is/are the cause/causes of my present bodily discontents. For more about that, I must await the X-ray results. But I think we can cross that one off the list.
This did make me worry that I was in a seriously wrong place, though. No matter how much they smother a big and busy place in signs, if you’re visiting it for the first time, you get things wrong. I still don’t know if I committed any violations of a woman’s right to a safe space. I encountered no angry women, so no harm seemed to have been done.