Aphorisms VII

On a Certain Experience in Relation to Sex – In response to a talk by Leila Slimani, I think of someone I love browsing on tinder, or not even that, but of spontaneously, magically, having found someone to bring home and fuck. And this causes a pang of something in me. But where does this pang happen? And in relation to what? Is it a spur to action, to step through into my ideal space to avoid missing out, or to assert control? Or is it the same as the anxiety dreams I have sometimes, that in some manner everything would fall apart, that I actually have no power over them, all my power, our relationship, has been undermined or not existed quite how I thought?

What, after all, could I do? For it must be an issue of confidence here, of self-worth. I fear having no recourse to a response, no power to respond to such a situation. Insofar as it is not just a kind of pang of sadness, or of lost hope, of ‘I thought you cared, but now it seems you don’t, or at least not in the way I hoped, to enchant everything about you sexually, morally, like a kind of drug’, it is also this self-relation, that I do not even see the potential to action in response, and rather just experience it, curl up like the proverbial stamped on worm.

But of course, if someone were to perform this act, in reality, what is to say we would not be able to respond, to say ‘I value myself more than this experience, I demand of you something (submission?), a tribute, a change in you, or I will simply walk away, believing I can achieve great things again. In this way it becomes clear that the whole thing about these experiences is that they are tied up with power and power relations, which is another way of saying relations of self-image. Because power is not inherent but relational. I would not care in this case if I did not see myself as essentially powerless, though unconsciously. The whole situation would not occur without neurotic and twisted power relations already being present. All of which would indicate that people don’t get sexually jealous unless they are insecure in some basic way, or in an insecure situation.

But is this any different from betrayal, from paranoia tout court? I can imagine similar pangs happening if I knew I was missing out or hadn’t been invited to some event, though without the extra sexual fizz and burn. Then, maybe that extra fizz is just sex itself, and that is all that there is particular to an experience of sexual jealousy. Thought invests so much in sexual relationships, that they become monolithic and hard to parse.

As Leila Slimani says, I think that having secrets is important, and if not vital then helpful in all things. We must fight the urge to know all, to totalise the relationship, to totalise anything, really. We know that the total is the real lie, the real wasteland. We sense this because knowing everything can bring the moment of banal clarity, and that clarity wipes away all sexiness, all suspense, or it controls and prescribes til that controlling and prescribing becomes everything. We might agree that we shouldn’t know everything about our partners, our friends, because we might agree not to know a prescribed set of things about them every day, their breakfast, their toilet routine, their every thought, though there are exceptions to this. We just need to accept more secrets, not worry about finding out. Why act as if love is an investigation, when it’s a lot closer to gambling? In gambling, we know we lose sometimes, that’s part of the charm. But then that also brings its own problems.

‘Provocatively put’ you might say sexual jealousy is not something that people in general have, but rather certain societies have.


The New Creator – laments can be heard for a certain world which is disappearing. The new creator everywhere ignores these laments. New, at least to us, dispersed methods of editing, of production, of creation, are giving life to dying schools, dying creative industries. That death whose blame was by a sick logic laid at our feet, for not going to the cinema, for pirating music and films, for not being cultured enough for poetry, for not minding to read on a screen, that death has been revealed to be an illusion, a trick of advertising. The fault of centralising, profit grabbing, businesses drunk on their own authority, businesses which have begun to panic and crumble because they refuse to embrace the new world, refuse to create the world we want. The world, through crowdfunding, that chooses its heroes, rather than having them foisted on us by focus group. The world that, as grains of sand become a sandstorm, through becoming patrons en masse, supports what has culturally and economically been made so difficult for so long, the lone creator, the new creator. The world where authors write and make their work available directly to the readers, a world which entire businesses have attempted to make impossible. A world that reads of everything, and learns of everything, through searches, and Wikipedia, that collective institution of humanity whose ease of use and ubiquity means it is no longer okay to be ignorant. A whole generation that decides for itself what is important, bringing myths of heroes, fantasy and interstellar travel to the forefront of culture. That reinvents poetry, making it more alive, short, hotwired to the bones of culture, than it has seemed in years. A generation that also creates communities of artists, of support, of outreach, that will not believe the lie peddled by the small-minded of all times, hoping to preserve their authority, that good art can only be made by the elect few. This generation simply ignores it and carries on painting, drawing, writing, making, creating.

This new creator will have new battles, with the institutions that it is growing alongside, so long as they remain capitalist, over profit, as always. But their decentralised nature, and the ability to easily reach other likeminds, means that new solutions will always be able to be made by the creator, for the creator.

Of course this is somewhat of a myth, but each generation is entitled to its own productive myths.


Poetry without philosophy (in the wide sense, including ‘experience’) is like a supple, excellent puzzle box with nothing in it. Which can of course be intensely satisfying. Being a poet has come to have this interesting status of writing stretches of characters into the standard forms of poetry, and you might be tempted to say that, when they are free of metre or rhyme, they needn’t retain these forms, and could let themselves reveal themselves as aphorisms or some such. But the destabilising effect of what is different has its own need, its own paradigms.

To be a poet, to talk within these forms, to make readings and propogate the traditional form of the poet relative to society. The love of language is still there, and of syncopation and pause, in idea but also sound. It is a difficult proposition, but a difficult form is not bad, so long as there are steps towards understanding it. That’s a basic democratic principle, I guess. Unless there is something to be gained from mystery, which can be disenchanted.

Poetry is a strong and wide word that can stand a bit of inner stress.


It used to be – did it? – that the relations between elements in a poem were thought to have some kind of sense, whether to throw each other into relief, or counterpoint each other. But there is this third option, that I see sometimes today, and in my own writing, that of the collage, which gives free, or leaves senseless, the relations. (Or is this just how I see the poems?) But then to put a series of leaves, for example, in a press, encourages to see them as one, in a sense, regardless of how unrelated the moss and lichen are to the vine or the banana.

Maybe to write poetry is to say one thing – everything is related.


Poetry is performance – it sets up a stage on the page, and acts out… something.


The attractive thing in high heels, in sharp bright shoes, is this tight click with each step. It sharpens the character of the wearer, the overall personage. Sharpness is one ideal, softness another. Slippers and a fluffy dressing gown. These material elements bypass gender.


The trick with aphorisms is to have a thought, but then think it was worth having. This is a hard trick to pull off.


Sometimes I fantasise that the people who glance my way in cafés are time travelling tourists come back to see us working, under strict instructions to never make contact with us. They have obviously undergone months long intensive training and screening for this purpose.

I am convinced that everyone who knows the concept of time travel also has a similar fantasy.