Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen once explained the meaning of this blog’s signature song as follows:
‘Ring the bells that still can ring’: they’re few and far between but you can find them. … There is a crack in everything … But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
Howard Jacobson, writing in the Independent, added this gloss:
‘That’s how the light gets in’. Savour that! At a stroke, weakness becomes strength and fault becomes virtue. I feel as though original sin has just been re-explained to me. There was no fall. We were born flawed. Flawed is how we were designed to be. Which means we don’t need redeeming after all. Light? Why go searching for light? The light already shines from us. It got in through our failings.
So this is all about ringing the bells that can still ring, celebrating whatever moves or inspires me – and looking for where the light gets in.
Open the book of my vanishing memory
– Paul Simon
It’s also about preserving the memory of those things. I’ve been updating this blog on a fairly regular basis since I retired from teaching in a further education college in Liverpool in 2008. I use the blog as a way of remembering places I’ve been and walks I’ve done, as well as art and photography, books and films, music and other things that have made an impression on me. Sometimes I get riled and write about injustices in the world and the destructive nature of the economic system that we live under. All these things I put down here so I don’t forget.
Remember what you have seen, because everything forgotten returns to the circling winds.
– Navajo Wind Chant
- Posts are organised into the main categories of Art, Film, History, Ideas and Politics, Literature, Music, Nature and Environment, Photography, Places, Theatre, TV and Radio. Some of these main categories (especially Place and Art) have sub-categories to explore.
- Poetry is a page with links to all the poems quoted in posts
- Walking the Canal is a journal of walks along the canal from Liverpool to Leeds
- Walking the Mersey is a journal of walks along the Mersey and its tributaries, from source to sea
- Re-Reading Dickens is a record of a project to re-read (or, in some cases, read for the first time) every novel by Charles Dickens.
- The First World War one hundred years on compiles posts on a journey I made in August 2014 to sites of the First World War on the Somme and in Flanders, plus others that are records of exhibitions of work by the war artists, and books that I have read on the subject.
- In pursuit of Bruegel documents our pursuit of Pieter Bruegel the Elder in the cities where most of his works are exhibited – including Brussels, Antwerp, Vienna, London, Berlin and Madrid.
Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way.
– Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium
I am a history; a memory inventing itself
– Octavio Paz
Liverpool – its places and history – crops up often in these pages for the simple reason that’s where I belong. For more Liverpool insights and history visit local historian Mike Royden’s website. His latest book, Tales from the ‘Pool is out now.