Friday, 18 March 2016

Safe but Ugly

The eternal battle between the aficionados of elegant disrepair (a.k.a. wabi-sabi) and the philistine fixer-uppers goes on... Look what they done to my arch, ma! (see the previous photos in the post Stop That!). Even the pretty clouds have been swept away.

It puts me in mind of the famous haiku by Kobayashi Issa:
Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

(Robert Hass translation) *
I suppose it is safe, now... But, rather ugly. Some of those original bricks are quite old – at least 18th century, I'd guess, if not older. But, never mind, it was new once, and will be old again. Even if it does take 200 years. Entropy is on our side and, like the devil, has all the best tunes.

In compensation, here's another view of the iron bridge hidey-hole. Something to enjoy while it's still around.

* The translation of haiku is a tricky business. According to that great authority, Some Guy on the Web, the original Japanese goes like this:

sumi | no | kumo | anji | na | susu | wa | toranu | zo yo

corner | 's | spider | worry | do not | soot | as for | (not) remove | "look!" (a combination of an intensifier particle and an exclamatory particle)

R.H. Blyth rendered this haiku as:

Spiders in the corners,
Don't worry!
I'm not going to sweep them.

I'd have thought something like this (which, ahem, also happens to have 17 syllables) would be closer to the original:

Relax, spider in the corner!
Look! I never sweep the soot in there.


Struan said...

Somehow 'Relax spider!' sounds like a bong-inspired rendition of Homer.

Mike C. said...

Ha! Of webs and the spider I mumble... Story of my life. At least I avoided the original Yoda-ish of "worry do not!"


amolitor said...

Not only must we preserve the best examples of Brutalist architecture, evidently we must convert other structures to that style.

And then, I suppose, we must preserve them?

Mike C. said...

Not so much "brutalist" as "incompetist"... Laying a brick arch is something of a lost art.


Anonymous said...

Oh my, what a pity - they ruined it! A bit like the Spanish restore frescoes in their churches ;^). By the way, as you mentioned wabi-sabi - the previous repair (using the red plastic mesh) reminds of the way the Japanese fixed their precious tea bowls when they were broken (the tea bowls, not the Japanese). They used a mixture of lacquer and gold dust, so that the repair becomes obvious (I believe it was called kintsugi). This further increased the value of the tea bowl, since its history became richer.

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...

Yes, kintsugi -- a very apt comparison.

btw, my partner tells me a copy of Southam's "Landscape stories" is for sale in a local gallery for £15! Any interest, or are you happy with your copy? I'll probably buy it anyway...


Anonymous said...

Mike, thank you for the heads up! I'm fine with my copy, however, since the pages are clean and only the cover is in a bad condition. In a recent comment on your blog, Andrew Molitor talked about book repairs - this gave me the idea to a request the price for a new binding from our local book binder. I didn't manage to do this yet, however.

Thanks again and best regards, Thomas