Wilfred Thesiger

[English | 1910–2003]

a.k.a. مُبَارَك بِن لَنْدَن‎

From Thesiger's album (Vol. 13)
Do you remember?

Thesiger was a writer, an amazing photographer and an explorer. His most notable works are Arabian Sands (1959) which documented his journey across the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula and, The Marsh Arabs (1964) which documented his time living in the marshes of Iraq.

In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions.

Wilfred Thesiger was a distinguished gentleman

I tasted freedom and a way of life from which there could be no recall.

Arabia
Arabia

p.s.
I haven’t been (yet) but Wilfred Thesiger’s book collection and his photographs are on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum (part of Oxford University 😍). For maps of his journeys in Arabia see here and here for his photographs of Arabia.

‘By hook or by crook’

any means necessary

‘By hook or by crook’ is an English phrase meaning “by any means necessary”, suggesting that any means possible should be taken to accomplish a goal. The phrase is old and the first currently known written instance of it is the Middle English Controversial Tracts of John Wycliffe.

Do what you have to do
Do what you have to do

One way, or another, I’m gunna gunna get ya


John Wycliffe (c. 1323–1384) was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, reformer and a professor at the University of Oxford. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th c. and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism.

Hook / Crook
^ Look at how they spell John.

‘Message in a bottle’

Save. Our. Soul.

Bottles out at sea
This one goes out…

A message in a bottle is a form of communication in which a message is sealed in a container (typically a bottle) and thrown into the sea.

Messages in bottles have been used to send (1) distress messages and/or to carry letters or reports from those believing themselves to be doomed (2), in scientific studies of ocean currents, as memorial tributes and (3), to send deceased loved ones’ ashes on a final journey.

Love letters have also been sent as messages in bottles. Indeed, the lore surrounding messages in bottles has often been of a romantic or poetic nature.

Nowadays, the phrase, message in a bottle, has expanded to include metaphorical uses (uses beyond its traditional and literal meaning). Say for example, sending an estranged lover an email begging for a reprieve whilst knowing a reply, let alone a reprieve is rather unlikely.

message in a bottle

Pioneer 10 plaque
…to the one I love.

📙 Fleabag

“The Scriptures”

In case you haven’t heard, Fleabag is a British TV show created and written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also stars in the lead role. Well, anyway it lasted for two seasons and went out on a high (it was kept short and sweet). Well anyway (*II) she’s just launched a book which is basically the script of the TV show:

It is very funny in a dark and frank way but as a critic did say, “long after it’s pulled you in with its irreverence and jokes about sex, and beguiled you with its cutting wit and messily human characters, it reveals that it’s actually a tragedy.”


flea___bag
portraiture, often best when in black & white

 

📙 Love in the Time of Cholera

(Gabriel García Márquez | 1928–2014)

The power of love is limitless.
A poignant meditation on the nature of desire, and the enduring power of love

It is enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.

In Love in the Time of Cholera, the protagonist, Florentino Ariza, is a hopeless romantic who falls passionately for the beautiful Fermina Daza, but finds his love tragically rejected.

Instead Fermina marries a distinguished doctor Juvenal Urbino, while Florentino can only wait silently for her. He can never forget his first and only true love. Then, fifty-one years, nine months and four days later, Fermina’s husband dies unexpectedly.

At last Florentino has another chance to declare his feelings and discover if a passion that has endured for half a century will remain unrequited, in a rich, fantastical and humane celebration of love in all its many forms.

“The nearest thing to sensual pleasure prose can offer”
Daily Telegraph

“A celebration of the many kinds of love between men and women”
The Times

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia. He is the author of many novels, including One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and The General in His Labyrinth (1989). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Think of love as a state of grace; not the means to anything but the alpha and omega, an end in itself.

There is always something left to love.

They were so close to each other that they preferred death to separation.

📙 The Secret Sharer

(Joseph Conrad | 1857–1924)

The Secret Sharer portray’s a young men at sea confronting a turning points in his life.

Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer who is now regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. Conrad’s exploration of the human condition as reflected by the men who toil at sea — or deep in jungles — can be considered as profound as most philosophical works and musings.

The Secret Sharer is a tale about a new captain who is piloting a ship in South East Asia. He is not very popular with his crew. To complicate matters, he willingly shelters a stowaway, a chief mate of another nearby ship. This stowaway is accused of killing another sailor. The captain develops an affinity to him, sees himself in him, hides him from search parties, and eventually steers his ship to a small uninhabited island so as to let the stowaway — the “secret sharer” — silently swim away and escape being punished for a murder that he was adamant was an act of life or death self-defence. The deep point is this: does the stowaway actually exist at all! Or is he but a figment of the young captain’s imagination?

We live as we dream – alone…

“I had immense plans,” he irresolutely muttered.

📙 I, Claudius

(Robert Graves | 1895–1985)

On Rome
A brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of Ancient Rome…

I, Claudius brings the ancient world of Rome to life with startling clarity and meticulous realism. The book focuses on Claudius who was despised for his weakness and regarded by his family as little more than a stammering fool. Claudius quietly survives the intrigues, bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the imperial Roman dynasties. The novel is written as if it were Claudius’s own autobiography. He watches from the sidelines to write down about the reigns of its emperors: from the wise Augustus and his villainous wife Livia to the sadistic Tiberius and the insane excesses of Caligula.

The book’s author, Robert von Ranke Graves, was a British poet, historical novelist, critic, and classicist.

On other writers:

The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.

On love:

Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher
Swept off his tall hat to the Squire’s own daughter,
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head, as she rode by.


p.s.
Here is a wonderful article by Brad Leithauser in New Yorker magazine that compares Graves to E E Cummings:
“A poet of piercing valentines.”