Camus in Algiers

Reading Geoff Dyer’s essay about Camus (filled with so much wisdom and beauty) and came across this passage. Dyer is in Algiers on a sort of tribute tour of the places that helped form Camus’ world. Walking one day he passes a group of boys playing football and writes:

‘As I continue walking the sun bursts out again, making the bank of cloud smoulder green-black, luminous over the sea. Perched between the road and the sea, between sun and cloud, some boys are playing football in a prairie blaze of light. The pitch glows the colour of rust. The ball is kicked high and all the potential of these young lives is concentrated on it. As the ball hangs there, moon-white against the wall of cloud, everything in the world seems briefly up for grabs and I am seized by two contradictory feelings:

there is so much beauty in the world it is incredible that we are ever miserable for a moment; there is so much shit in the world that it is incredible we are ever happy for a moment.

Dyer, Geoff. Anglo-English Attitudes (p. 177). Canongate Books. Kindle Edition.

Just that. Just that.

Camus in Algiers

On blind accordionists

Geoff Dyer, in the Ongoing Moment, his divergent attempt at a taxonomy of photography, spends a lot of time tracking pictures of blind accordionists through the 20th century. It might seems an unlikely procession but, being blind, these accordionistas are the perfect subject for a street photographer who wants, above all, to take his or her photographs unobserved.

The first accordion player was photographed by the Hungarian Photographer, André Kertész in 1916.

Kertesz Accordionist

It’s worth pointing out that our man isn’t blind, just short sighted, but the photograph still inspired this poem by George Szirtzes:

The Accordionist

The accordionist is a blind intellectual
carrying an enormous typewriter whose keys
grow wings as the instrument expands into a tall
horizontal hat that collapses with a tubercular wheeze.

My century is a sad one of collapses.
The concertina of the chest; the tubular bells
of the high houses; the flattened ellipses
of our skulls that open like petals.

We are the poppies sprinkled along the field.
We are simple crosses dotted with blood.
Beware the sentiments concealed
in this short rhyme. Be wise. Be good.

Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment is well worth a read.

On blind accordionists

Coincidence?

Browsing in the best bookshop in Britain* (IMHO) on Thursday, I was nosing around Geoff Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment – a Book About Photography and found, in its opening paragraph, this quotation:

A few minutes later C came over to show me a book of poetry she was thinking about buying, called Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe. It’s epigraph was this:

Small coincidences are surprisingly satisfying aren’t they? I’d never seen the quote before, or been charmed by the idea of a Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge (surely something sorely needed in a world full of ill intentioned information), but I felt at once as though I was in tune with the universe.

Reader I bought the Geoff Dyer.

It’s only when I set the two quotations down in this post, that I realised the they are not identical.

*Topping and Company in Ely.

Coincidence?