Wednesday, 2 March 2016

portrait of the artist as a young dog; instagram

On Saturday 9 August 2014 I finished Dylan Thomas's book Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. I'd picked up an old paperback of it - a Guild Books paperback reprint of 1956, 2 shillings (first published in 1940) - and was intrigued, as I'd never heard of it; in fact I didn't realise he'd written any prose apart from Under Milk Wood and A Child's Christmas.

Its title obviously alludes to James Joyce's book, and is a little reminiscent of that. It's a collection of shorts stories which feel like a sequence of autobiographical episodes. It was okay but pretty unremarkable; not a hidden gem or a lost treasure undeservedly forgotten. At this remove, I can't remember anything particular about it beyond that.

First line: The grass-green cart, with 'J. Jones, Gorsehill' painted shakily on it, stopped in the cobblestone passage between 'The Hare's Foot' and 'The Pure Drop.'
Last line: The light of the one weak lamp in a rusty circle fell across the brick-heaps and the broken wood and the dust that had been houses once, where the small and hardly known and never-to-be-forgotten people of the dirty town had lived and loved and died and, always, lost.

It's a nice little edition, small format and only 128 pages long. In fact what prompted me to pull it off the shelf of 'books I've read and have to blog about before reshelving or discarding' is that I was thinking of taking a photo of it for Instagram.

I signed up for Instagram just last Friday, after a conversation with Marianne, mainly with the idea of seeing photos by my friends, rather than posting up photos of my own. I did think I should use it for something, however, and, prompted by the idea of the combination suggested by the name of a visual telegram, I thought of photos of things which incorporated words. In the first instance, then, book covers - not necessarily ones I've read, but ones which are well or interestingly designed. I thought of album covers also, although a glossy CD reproduction doesn't have the character of a battered old vinyl sleeve (and I really don't want to get into buying secondhand vinyl just to take a photo of the cover; could maybe sneak photos in charity shops...); but I may still go for that. And there's also dates on buildings, which I had a phase of taking photos of some years ago but which I never did anything with.

My instagram account is here. I started off with a username relating to my email address, but managed to change it to iainphotos. Anotheriain is taken already, apparently, although whoever's taken it doesn't seem to be using it.

I am still exploring how to use it - appropriate ways to tag and comment and like, appropriate ways to follow. A number of my Facebook friends are on it, for example, but mostly showing the kind of photos I can see from them on Facebook. I'm not sure what kind of accounts people follow, or for what reasons; but I don't just want to replicate other things I'm already doing. We'll see how it develops.

I posted my first Instagram on Saturday, the cover of Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie.

Later: here's the Instagram of the cover of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog. It's a lovely old illustration, possibly deliberately putting one in mind of Under Milk Wood; nice lettering too.