The mountain, Kên, stands still; above it fire, Li, flames up and does not tarry. Therefore the two trigrams do not stay together. Strange lands and separation are the wanderer’s lot. When a man is a wanderer and stranger, he should not be gruff nor overbearing. He has no large circle of acquaintances, therefore he should not give himself airs. He must be cautious and reserved; in this way he protects himself from evil. If he is obliging toward others, he wins success.
The Wanderer. Success through smallness.
Perseverence brings good fortune
To the wanderer.
A wanderer has no fixed abode; his home is the road. Therefore he must take care to remain upright and steadfast, so that he sojourns only in the proper places, associating only with good people. Then he has good fortune and can go his way unmolested.
Fire on the mountain:
The image of THE WANDERER.
Thus the superior man
Is clear-minded and cautious
In imposing penalties,
And protracts no lawsuits.
When grass on a mountain takes fire, there is bright light. However, the fire does not linger in one place, but travels on to new fuel. It is a phenomenon of short duration. This is what penalties and lawsuits should be like. They should be a quickly passing matter, and must not be dragged out indefinitely. Prisons ought to be places where people are lodged only temporarily, as guests are. They must not become dwelling places.
I had this sign many times before. And even though i haven’t moved places, at all, i have only lived in three houses in my entire life, i still feel connected with this sign.
I am working on a Scritti song. But the video is taking a bit longer than i anticipated. I do expect this video to be online somewhere next week.
Enjoy your weekend. I wish you peace and quiet.
Two years ago i went to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to see the Marlene Dumas Exhibition. I have known her work since the late 80s. It is wonderful.
It was the first time i visited the museum itself since it was opened again after a couple of years of rebuilding. It was good to see it again.
I made photos. I never showed these, apart from a Facebook entry with one photo. So here there is a larger selection.
Yesterday was a busy day. Apart from writing the Scritti Politti post i also had some family affair going on. Not something i want to talk about here.
I feel really tired now. My mind is turning in tiny circles. So yes, i give myself a day off.
Scritti Politti, number 1 on my Top 4 of Best Groups in the Entire World of All Time!
Summer 1985. A friend had asked me to live in her apartment and take care of her cat while she and her boyfriend were on holiday. They would be away for a month. They lived in the center of Rotterdam, a side street of the West-Kruiskade.
I loved it. It was warm, i had friends at art school, even though i was still studying in Delft. I was going out, giving diners. And listening to the music. The boyfriend was dj’ing. Rap, hiphop. And Scritti Politti. He had just bought their new album Cupid & Psyche 85. Which i fell in love with straightaway.
I had missed their first album, Songs To Remember. I still don’t understand why. I even had a magazine, Vinyl, with an interview with them from 1982. I was busy listening to Joy Division, the Popgroup, Rip Rig & Panic, Nick Cave, Eyeless In Gaza and Tracy Thorne amongst others, ending up with Prince. Too busy to get into Scritti Politti 1982.
I finally caved in in 85. I was hooked. I loved the lyrics, the sweet voice, the music. I didn’t understand it, not everything about it, but i was sure as hell doing my best.
When summer ended, i was back at my parents house, with this new self bought album, new friends, an upcoming apartment i would start to live in 1 December 1985. Life was good.
I didn’t know then my parents would be divorced in one years time. I didn’t know then i would stop studying in Delft and start at art school in Rotterdam within a year.
A Saturday evening, 8 February, i started to draw. I had this A3 size watercolour bloc. I had divided this into 8 different small sizes with pencil stripes. I don’t remember the first two drawings i made. But i was really surprised by the final six. I remember looking at them that evening, when i had finished. I could see they were going from quite simple, me dancing in Rotterdam with a friend, to more complex and abstract. I did not really understand these drawings, nor did i understand why i had drawn them.
I made a final addition. The last verse of A Little Knowledge. Not sure when i wrote this down, it could have been the same evening, it could be the next day. I do remember the next day i made a box of thick carton with a dark grey or black paper cover, pasting some left over pieces of watercolour on them.
Here’s a verse for nothing
To the way the world will be
Now we’re apart and alone
Mustn’t be unhappy
When you remember
Lovers never lose each other
Oh, such a lot to be learned
I realized that i wanted to give these drawings away. I first gave them to one of my best friends at the time, Iris. She returned them after a month or so. A few years later i gave them to another best friend, Femke. She returned them after a month or so as well. After that i kept these drawings. For a couple of years they were standing in a cabinet in my main room. I got them out of there late 2014. They had gotten my interest once again at that time.
The next Tuesday, 11 February 1986, i found myself in a record shop Haddock. There i finally bought the album Songs To Remember. Excited i biked back home. I could hardly wait to play my new record. When the final song played, The “Sweetest Girl”, for some reason i threw the I Ching. I got number 13 Fellowship with Man with a nine on the fifth place.
Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in the inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.
I remember sitting on the ground, reading these lines in the I Ching. I remember that i honestly believed these words. But also not. I mean, what did this mean? It was not that i could call Green up and say ‘hey lets come together‘. I didn’t know the man. These words confused me terribly. I couldn’t simply set them aside, but i also couldn’t act on them.
This moment of impossibility has stayed with me for the rest of my life. I think i have mentioned it once or twice to friends, but never really confessed what it had done to me. My life of course simply went along. In the end, the drawing of these drawings, the throwing of the I Ching, became a memory. Important, not sure what i should be doing with this, but still valuable.
I went to art school. I never regretted this. Not that i could pinpoint to other people the value of this, but i felt this was an important move for me. Not smart, no. But important.
In 1994 i decided to get a job. I didn’t really like the art world. Working seemed to me the most obvious plan.
In 1995 i got online. I started to play a muse. First Micromuse, then i started playing Windsmare. I only found this helptext. I don’t think it is online anymore.
In 1997 i started working on my own website, in my free time.
Scritti Politti was still my fave band. But it had turned quiet. I did do some research on the internet, so much smaller then. I found the Archeology of the Frivolous. I e-mailed with Erika. I went to London for a scritti get together. Fun!
In 1999 Anomie and Bonhomie was released. I enjoyed the new music. But the glory days were over, i could see that.
January 2006, there was strange news on the Yahoo group, then then current hangout for scritti fans. A gig? Double G and the Traitorous Three? Sorry? Green hadn’t played life for 25 years. I was assuming this was over and done with.
It turned out it was true. Blurry clips and images appeared afterwards. I asked in the group if there were any other Dutch people interested in going if there was a new gig announced. Marco and Ernst replied. And yes, 5 February 2006, The Luminaire was the next date. The three of us decided to go all out and fly up to London and back the next day early in the morning. No sleeping arrangements required.
I was nervous. I had never imagined i would actually meet Green. He was a firm resident of my imagination, an object of my fantasy, but that was it.
I never talked to him. I went two times more, one time in Amsterdam, another time in London once more, in the Scala. In Amsterdam me, Marco and Ernst ended up eating with the band and quite a few other fans after the gig. I remember talking with another fan, she said he was nice and all, but i couldn’t bring myself to talking. I didn’t know what to say. It felt so awkward. So i kept silent.
Apart from my talk with his girlfriend. She was nice. She asked me if i wanted to have my photo taken. Not sure about that, but she called him anyway.
I was sort of happy with this photo. It seemed to make it all real. A bit.
Over the next years i did keep up with Scritti. Marco, Ernst and myself had set up a website, bibbly-o-tek.com. John, from the United States, who had his own website with many scritti clips, had joined us.
I did stop working on my own website, lfs.nl. It was sitting there completely quiet. For eight years. It was hard to stop working, but i felt empty. Nothing came up, nothing i wanted to make, to express. I missed it. But it grew quiet in me over the years. Until it had almost disappeared from my mind.
I don’t know why i stopped making presents. It just sort of faded away. I’m glad i’m back. Source: Hey, October 13, 2014
I honestly didn’t know then that two weeks later i would be starting a new website, this one, on ellenpronk.com. A domain i had since 2010, which i initially wanted to use for work. But never finished a design for. In these two weeks i made the templates for wordpress, installed it, wrote an about page and made a new post, Hello World.
Since then i settled into a steady rhythm. In the first year i made several presents, but these have faded away. In May or June i started to sing songs i like, or love. In September i started to make video clips. I started to write posts about things that are important to me. Food. The world. My dreams. My wishes.
And yes, in one post i wrote about my drawings. The ones i had made almost thirty years before. I wanted to give these to Green. I was determined.
So yes, i was feeling a bit nervous when news about a new gig for 5 February 2016 was announced towards the end of 2015. Money was getting an issue then, so i had to be smart. I picked the cheapest way to travel, the bus, and the cheapest way to stay, via airbnb. I had my red dress, which i had bought the end of 2014 and never worn before. I had my black shoes with the zippers. I had my red nail polish Ecorce Sanguine from Chanel. I was ready!
I wrote about this evening here, on this website, in the post called Scritti Politti – Roundhouse, London – 5 February 2016. I was hesitant, waiting almost the entire evening. In the end i gave my drawings to him. I think he was a bit surprised. I also gave my e-mail address to him. And i mentioned that i had this website.
Now, eight months later, i still feel gloriously happy that i managed to do this. I know this is a very personal feeling, nobody else feels anything from this event. The world keeps on turning. Nothing changes. But still, this was something i had thought about ten years before, and i had decided then that it wasn’t something i could do. I had talked about this with friends, they advised me not to, and i went along with them. I kept it all hidden.
So yes, i gave away my drawings. Only three days before it was thirty years ago since i had made them, 8 February 1986 – 5 February 2016. And i still feel happy when i think about this. It is a very personal gift, i do know that. I’m not sure what Green thinks of them, but that is not my business anymore. These drawings are out there. Not in my possession anymore.
So yes, Scritti Politti is the best band in the entire world! Of all time! Absolute!
My life is better because of them. I know of course, in the end, it was all me. Me and my life. My choices. My dreams. My craziness. But we are all influenced by the people around us. Near and far. There are many other people and people’s work which had an impact on me. I picked Green as my main mentor. He didn’t know! He simply lived his own life, unaware of my action. There was love, yes. But looking back on it from this distance, it feels more like infatuation. I never dreamed of having sex with him, honestly. That was another part of me.
This part of my life, this part i had made myself, i truly love it.
Thank you Green, for being there.
Cupid & Psyche ’85
Early 90’s singles
Anomie and Bonhomie
Small official site: scritti.net
Scritti Politti Facebook page: Scritti Politti – Share The Love
Quiet blog about Scritti: bibbly-o-tek.com (yes, i’m one of the maintainers)
The Scritti Politti Workshop, old website with loads of articles and photos
Archeology of the Frivolous
Yesterday’s walk in Dordrecht, visit to Vreeken’s Zaden and trip on the waterbus was great!
And last night it felt like i hardly slept. Many thoughts in my mind. Crazy! But still mine. Thinking about the post for next week, about my number 1 on my Top 4 of Best Groups in the Entire World of All Time! Which will be obvious to anyone reading this website.
I haven’t started writing this post, not yet. It is all in my head.
Today i’m tired, exhausted. I even bought some lasagna at Little Italy. Too tired to cook.
Tomorrow i will work at the garden. Plant some bulbs! Happy with those. And hopefully i will sleep better this next night.
Enjoy your weekend. Salute!
Wednesday 5 October i went to Dordrecht, a small town south of Rotterdam. My first goal was to visit a gardening and seed shop with the name Vreeken’s Zaden. When i went to the shop Stek a few weeks ago to look around and buy some bulbs, i was also looking for Catmint’s seeds. They didn’t have them, but they mentioned the shop Vreeken in Dordrecht. I had never heard of this shop before. When i spoke about this in the garden, during a coffee break, i learned that many of the seeds used are from Vreeken. So then the thought came up to go and visit them.
I was lucky today. When i woke up, i felt a chill in the air. But the sun was shining. Even though there was a breezy chill in the air, it looked absolutely wonderful. The trip i wanted to take to Dordrecht was with the waterbus. A trip over water, following the Nieuwe Maas, past Kinderdijk to the Noord, ending in Dordrecht at the Merwekade. A short further trip with another boat brought me to the Hooikade, close to Vreeken’s Zaden.
After i entered the gardening and seed shop, i was simply stunned. The entire shop was packed full of cabinets of seeds. Ooh, they also had gardenings gloves, books, food for birds, houses for birds and insects, all sorts of gardening equipment and greenhouse type shelters. There is an outside with seedling plants, an upstairs with bulbs. And many people working there, going through the shop, no doubt working on orders coming through the Vreeken website.
Once i had made my first walk through the shop, i talked with one of the people working there, Ada. I told her who i am, asking permission to make photos inside the shop. I also told her i was planning on writing a post on my website. Which was fine, luckily!
After a second, more thorough trip around the shop, making photos, i settled with buying the Catmint seeds and a bag of bee attracting flower bulbs, flowering from early February until July next year.
I decided to walk back to the Merwekade over the Voorstraat, which was going through the old centre of Dordrecht. It is not a town i know well, i admit. The centre is a very old Dutch town centre, with some lovely pieces mixed into the shops. I loved the bit called the Hof, besides an Augustine church. Adorable.
I went to the Taankade, running alongside the Voorstraat for the final bit.
I ended up at the Merwekade once again. It had only taken me around half an hour to walk from Vreeken to the Merwekade. I waited there for around 15 minutes for the boat. The trip from Dordrecht till Rotterdam was an hour. With this lovely weather, not bad at all. A travel alongside man made natural areas, boat builder factories, bridges and a lovely three mast private ship.
Back in Rotterdam, i walked up to the Peace Garden, where i had left my compost bucket in the morning. A short trip to the Marqt shop to buy eggs and butter to end up at home. To rest my tiring feet!
Steely Dan, number 2 on my Top 4 of Best Groups in the Entire World of All Time!
The music from Steely Dan i got to know about from my eldest sister, Marja. I’m not sure about the exact date, but yeah, it could have been from the very start, 1972, the year Steely Dan released their first album, Can’t Buy A Thrill. I do remember an assignment i got in the first or second year of high school, when i was twelve or thirteen years old, make a new cover for an album. I choose Countdown To Ecstacy, the second album from Steely Dan. I already had this album at this time. So yes, at this age i was buying Steely Dan’s albums already.
I don’t remember this though. I do know i did this. My sister left the house and took with her all her albums. I must have been ten or eleven, 1974 or 1975. I also bought Pretzel Logic and Katy Lied. Really, both Countdown To Ecstacy and Pretzel Logic were not my faves, but i did love Katy Lied. Or in my mind, the Song of Katy. The English word lied means song in Dutch.
I also loved The Royal Scam, 1976. I remember playing this album over and over again. I loved Haitian Divorce of course, but also the other songs.
Aja was the last Steely Dan album i bought. 1977. I was thirteen years old. This was right before my big turnaround and discovery of my own music taste. Nina Hagen, the Specials, the Selector, the Police were all all around the corner waiting for my discovery. But Aja was still in my music time so much influenced by my sister.
Years later i read about an English band called Deacon Blues. They had named themselves after the greatest song of all time, by Steely Dan. I had no idea.
I liked Steely Dan around that time. I enjoyed many songs. My fave albums were their first one, Can’t Buy A Thrill, their fourth one, Katy Lied and their fifth and sixth one, The Royal Scam and Aja. But after 1977 i was enchanted by a whole new musical world. New wave. Post punk. I went to see a lot of bands. Eyeless in Gaza. Nick Cave, who i saw four times performing in Rotterdam. The first half of the 80s, with me growing up from 16 years old till i’m 21, that first half was my most excellent music time. No Steely Dan then.
In the 90s i sometimes listened to Steely Dan once again. The Eagles – my other former fave 70s band – were firmly directed to a lower tier area, to be ultimately neglected for good. But the Dan, they were rising slowly. I still had all their albums. Nobody i offered my old albums to when i was around 16 years old was tempted to buy any of them.
I just checked to see if i had any Steely Dan albums in my iTunes list. Yes! I’m happy to say. This was before Spotify, which i started using in 2010. From that time i have worked on making my ultimate mixtape, which features many of Steely Dan’s songs. After today even more! I realized over the past five years that Steely Dan was creeping up my appreciation ladder, until a year or so ago, when i realized they were settling in at number 2.
I don’t even know all their albums. This week i will listen to the ones i have, and hopefully also the ones i don’t have. There are still many layers i need to uncover, many details i need to uncover in their music and their lyrics. Exactly what i wish for in any music.
Steely Dan’s lyrical subjects are diverse, but in their basic approach they often create fictional personae that participate in a narrative or situation. The duo have said that in retrospect, most of their albums have a ‘feel’ of either Los Angeles or New York City, the two main cities where Becker and Fagen lived and worked (see below). Characters appear in their songs that evoke these cities. Steely Dan’s lyrics are often puzzling to the listener, with the true meaning of the song “uncoded” through repeated listening, and a richer understanding of the references within the lyrics. For example, in the song “Everyone’s Gone to the Movies,” the line “I know you’re used to 16 or more, sorry we only have eight” refers not to the count of some article, but to eight-millimeter film, which was lower quality than 16 mm or larger formats, underscoring the illicitness of Mr. Lapage’s (assumedly pornographic) movie parties.
Thematically, Steely Dan creates a universe peopled by losers, creeps and failed dreamers – often victims of their own obsessions and delusions – and frequently suggests the moral reckoning that is due them. These motifs are introduced in the Dan’s first hit song, “Do It Again” – where we hear of a murderous cowboy who beats the gallows, a man taken advantage of by a cheating girlfriend, and an obsessive gambler, all of whom are unable to command their own destinies; similar themes of being trapped in a death spiral of one’s own making appear throughout the corpus of their catalog. Other themes are also present, such as prejudice, aging, poverty and middle-class ennui, and are typically seen from an ironic and detached perspective. The moral point-of-view expressed in Steely Dan songs reinforces traditional values, that substance abuse and sexual promiscuity lead to ruin.
This evening i listened to Aja. It gave me chills, listening to these familiar songs once again. Wonderful. Once i go to bed i will watch the Classic Album episode about Aja.
And tomorrow i will sing a song from Steely Dan. Not sure which one. Not yet. Do It Again? Perhaps?
Enjoy the music!