Angel Meadow- Manchester

My last post of 2016. Meaning i think i’ve managed 12, one per month. As in 2015. Angel Meadow in Manchester (long since condemed and demolished) was judged in the victorian era, Britains worst slum.

Many of the houses where one up one down. People would purportedly sleep naked to avoid lice spread from clothes. One quarter of the houses where used for illicit purposes. The words “slumming it” came from the respectable victorians visiting out of interest. The bordering River Irk was black

Friedrick Engels reffered to Angel Meadow using cliched language of today as “hell on earth” French philosopher Alexis de Toqueville described a “watery land of palaces and hovels/ where pure gold poured from open sewers” presumably reffering to the wealth of the mill owners and the squalor of the workers.

There were 20000 to 30000 people living in the slum (many Irish people escaping the potato famine) . The death rate 1888/1889/1890 was 50.9 per thousand per annum, making it significantly worse than Londons East End slums. The average for all England during the same period was 19 per thousand per annum

“Scuttlers” gangs roamed the street. With brass tipped cloggs. Body snatchers dug up corpses to sell the bones to glue factories. Live stock was kept in backyards and vegetables grown. One privy for 100 houses. Theives and prostitutes would share company with rats. People where hunted down by cholera, typhoid, TB. etc. Maybe Preston in 2017 isn’t so bad?






Two Feminists

As i male white, i enjoy reading prefferably high brow feminist texts. Also male continental Europe mainly post modernists. I find them liberating. On the basis that the world is far from a safe place or fair and just. And welcome texts questioning the metaphysical validity and truth of that world and our place in. Here are two brief soudbites on two theorists

Hannah Arendt 14 th october 1906 to 4 december 1975- German born Jewish American political theorist- she rejected the word “philosopher” as on qualified feminist grounds. Seeks to – “redress the male bias in the history of human thought”. She is concerned with amongst other things spaces- private and public. Arguing that some things need to be “showed publically” to exist at all. She presents the subject as “on trial” “in process.”

Helene Cixous 5 june 1937 Algerian/French feminists, philosopher, playwright, poet, rhetoricisn, literary critic. Is concerned with language. With art, with roots, dreams, memory. In Stigmata she unthreads deconstructs using the French language as her tool. In doing so- Looking at Rembrandt,- literally “painting death.” The love of the wolf– in which she ends “the wolf is the lamb/the lamb is the wolf.” In october 1991- a theme of Helene Cixous of almost passionatley revelling in the joyous details of a few hours or short time spent years ago in the past. Her view is post structulist. Derrida called her the “greatest living writer in the French language today. Her “escaping text” language makes her a joy to read.

There are 12 essays in Stigmata, unfortunatley i read them about 7 years ago so have trouble remembering. I cannot as yet find an  English version of “The cry of the medussa”- her most lauded work. Love in the Letterbox– essays. Three steps on the writing ladder. Coming to Writing and other essays. Are in English translation and well worth reading.


                           hannah arendt                                                 helene cixous                

Captain James Cook

An unusual subject matter. But one that reflects my current interests. As i’m part way through writing a book about explorers/exploring

James Cook 7 november 1728 to 14 february 1779. Made three main voyages, that at the time redifined the geographical view of the world. He was unusual at the time, in that he rose through the ranks to become ships captain. His father was a farm worker. While he was away on voyages lasting around three years each, his wife was left alone. He was an excellent navigator and charted coastlines with great accuracy, skills learnt during the seven year war in now Canada

1st voyage- Attempt to gain knowledge of the postulated “great southern land” ” terra australis” as captain of HMS Endeavor. Circumnavigated New Zealand sailed along the western coast of Australia

2nd voyage- Again to find “tera australis”, Log reads-“here we watered our ship with ice the 1st time/26S 44W” The voyage intended to go as far south as possible. Cook crossed the antactic circle 3 times. Reached a latitude of 71degrees 10 south and longitude of 106 degrees 54 west.

In the coarse of the voyage he visited South Georgia, Tonga, Sandwich Islands, New Hebridies, Tahiti, many of which he named. In vast sweeps of the pacific he proved no terra australis existed. After going to predicted locations. And predicted a further continent south of the ice,- Antarctica

3rd voyage- To Pacific coast of America. On HMS Discovery (where two ships, other HMS Resolution comanded by Charles Clerke.) Sailed through the Bering Straight but stopped by ice. Retired to Hawii for winter. Tumultuous reception from tribes. Cook became increasingly erratic in his decisisions and behavior. Perhaps the long years on ships where taking there toll. Left but had to turn back due to damage to ship. After an altercation Cook was killed by the islanders at Kealakekua Bay.