14 July, VIRUS 2020

Heart scans of Covid-19 patients show range of abnormalities: Edinburgh University team find heart damage in 55% of ultrasounds from 69 countries. The Guardian

Coronavirus crisis may get ‘worse and worse and worse’, WHO warns. Global infections have surpassed 13 million, climbing by one million in just five days in a pandemic that has killed more than half a million people. SMH

Covid-19 malware Google detecting 18m malware and phishing messages per day related to Covid-19. The Guardian

Coronavirus: blood clotting present in each deceased patient. FR24 News

Where are they now? The stories of the 119 species still in danger after the bushfires, and how to help. The Conversation

Generation pain: millions living longer but in far poorer health. The Times

Fire-ravaged Kangaroo Island is teeming with feral cats. It’s bad news for this little marsupial. The Kangaroo Island dunnart was listed as critically endangered before fires ripped through 95% of its habitat. The Conversation

I am not reading. I am not writing. This is not normal: Novelist Amy Sackville reflects on how what sounded like a perfect occasion for creative writing has filled instead with vacancy. The Guardian

Wyn rushes up. ‘Look at the light, am in the middle of something, got to go.’ I look up from the screen, a burnished light is firing the tree tops.
I grab my camera. Red-as-coals through the entanglement of trees is a sensory experience unique to this spatial moment, contrast and brightness with the ocean to one side. The highlight only last a couple of minutes, raindrops of red light in the centre of the image squeeze through the muslin of foliage. The front garden, still in dawn’s shadow, faces a wall of mature Blackbutts, canopy ablaze.

Moments later the piercing light was gone, the birds were still singing their colloquial songs, but the wind suddenly reared up, the whole forest shifting about. I am getting the sense the world is changed, and we must make the most of every moment of beauty, light, grace. The forecast is wind, dangerous surf, dangerous cities. It’s true.

The Sugar Snap peas have flowers again, a bit of rain and some food and they have responded. And in a first the carrots look happy. I don’t stay out long. Most of the day driving rain and wind, and miserable.

Several weeks in, I caved and made a sourdough starter. (It really does seem miraculous, the raising of bread, though I won’t go on about it.) Amy Sackville[1] Just yesterday Wyn asked me what’s all this talk about baking sourdough?

I have found brief solaces in Boccaccio’s Decameron: the people of 14th-century Florence, it seems, spent the plague years holed up and drinking, or otherwise abstemiously not drinking, or they lived riotously in the streets, no longer caring. A group – call it a bubble – of noblewomen and men retreat to the hills, to villas decked with broom blossom, and fine wine for breakfast, and brief, funny, tragic, dirty stories. There’s an odd kind of aptness to it and I recommend it highly. Reading has always been, should be, both solace and tonic. Amy Sackville

~

Towards the end of winter, Dr Massaro said, the birds will begin to pair off ahead of the breeding season around September. ‘They will form pairs and find their own hollow [to breed],’ she said. [2]

We enjoy a matinee, watch an online festival we have been to a few times, a favourite, Donegal’s Earagail festival. They have guide to Glebe House again, Derek Hill’s home for nearly thirty years. I took photographs and wrote a poem about the visit that I have yet to connect up. The guided tour was half in Irish (without subtitles) – I saw one of my favourite paintings again hanging on the kitchen wall. They had run out of postcards. James Dixon’s ‘Tory Island’. He had a similar style to the better known Cornish ‘naive’ artist Alfred Wallace.

Hill helped Dixon which helped spur the island’s painting community. One of the  best known is the King of Tory, Patsy Dan Rodgers who died in 2018. On an earlier trip to Donegal (Bron’s father’s family habitat) we visited Tory, a fascinating place. The King welcomed us off the ferry and took us to the pub, where he tried to sell us one of his paintings on the walls.

~

Upstairs listening to music, from an early Barney McAll CD to Faure’s piano trio written while dying, but so lovely and light – am wondering how musicians and other arts industry personnel can survive this virus. Especially if this is an ongoing problem with spot fires igniting and reigniting keeping everyone anxiously on the alert. The dynamics of concerts, theatre, exhibitions, the whole process of experiencing art might change.

‘Those art forms that have relied on the constant circulation of people or objects across the globe will be well advised to use the hard stop brought about by Covid-19 as a prompt for a permanent revision, which is anyway urgently demanded by the climate crisis. A smaller, more local public will have to be involved more deeply in their institutions. The relationship will need to be two-way. These audiences are going to be asked to make more and more financial contributions to cash-strapped organisations. In return they are going to need to feel closer to their local orchestra, museum or theatre, becoming collaborators in a common project rather than humble supplicants at cultural temples. None of this will be easy. But the cracks were already there. Now they are visible, it’s time to repair them.’ Charlotte Higgins.[3] The same applies to most countries I would imagine.

Darkness stoops blacking out the windows, constricting physical space without a moon or a single star shining.

James Tenney, Koan, with Elisabeth Smalt on viola, 1971. A haunting minimalist piece for solo viola that feels it could keep going forever – in a good way.

Tenney commented, ‘I’m interested in a form that as soon as you’ve heard a couple of minutes of it, you get a pretty good idea of what you’re going to hear later. So you can sit back and relax and get inside the sound.’[4]
[1] Amy Sackville, ‘I am not reading. I am not writing. This is not normal.’ The Guardian, July 14

[2] Matt Bamford, ‘Galahs photo wins hearts online, but ornithologist says it hints at a deeper sentiments’, ABC Radio Sydney, July 14

[3] Charlotte Higgins, ‘The cultural rescue package will set artists against institutions’, The Guardian, July 14.

[4] D. Dennehy, ‘Interview with James Tenney’, Contemporary Music Review, vol. 27, no. 1, 2008.