Aphorisms VIII

Scripturience is always eschatological in the end.

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I read in Luke Kennard’s poem Ghost Story, where he talks about god making the soul pass through all possible human lives as a kind of edification or explanation or challenge or trick or joke, and remembered a very similar thought I’d had since childhood – except I imagined it would be every animal I ever stepped on, every living being including the long and interminable lives of trees, the short and inexplicable lives of mushrooms. I just remembered an ancestor to this idea, or maybe the source of it, in Douglas Adam’s book where there exists a creature that in all of its incarnations is killed by Arthur Dent. I imagine incarnations shares its root with french carné, and carnivore. Lives are the mind made meat, expendable and eaten by god’s great experiment.

I can imagine a Koan based around a similar idea – if you are to live the life of every person you have ever met, every plant you have ever seen, and every animal, fish and vegetable that you have ever eaten, would you agree to live? And then we can go on to include rocks and stars and clouds in this, and the answer might be – but this is how things already are. You are living the last life in the universe.

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Art for art’s sake is just a warning not to expect more.

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I recently realised that a lot of people write for money, and that I’ve considered myself to be doing something essentially entirely different from them, despite the fact that, at base, I write. But I never talk to anyone about it, and this disconnects me from it. Even when I read I don’t think that someone once sat and wrote this and at some point expected to get paid. That just seems very weird to me. I think I internalised that point in Orwell along the lines of – one doesn’t ‘write’ in the same way that one mines, or makes shelves, unless you’re a journalist or a paperback writer. This is at base a question about content over form. Poetry, essay and aphorism have no fixed method, nor have they a fixed outcome, though their form is relatively fixed. It’s about the purpose as well. To want to live the life of the writer is to idealise a form over anything else, like anyone who ‘wants to be an astronaut’. But which planet do you want to visit? Or do you prefer orbiting?

I think a lot of seeming contradictions in aesthetics come from the fact that there are those who need or want to make a living from their craft, and others who don’t want or need to, or find economic elements distasteful when applied to art. I fall into the latter group. The first doesn’t strike me as particularly more successful as a strategy. So in the end I am doing something different to them.

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A Small Narcissism – I sometimes have this thought that the greatest writer was someone who never let anyone read any of their work and then burned it all. That all the greatest writers are probably those who wrote in private, and realised some fundamental block or aspect to their work, or realised they would never succeed because of their uncompromising style and nature. But then the public concept of a writer requires more. I guess one can fulfil this need for readers oneself, to an extent, but still. This idea is a small narcissism and excuse, similar to the concept of genius. I find myself thinking it when I want to give up, because I ‘can’t abide the constraints of public writing’ or whatever. Bullshit, I’m just scared to find out I’m just bad, unworthy or just a nothing, a scrap of paper blown on the wind. Or scared to find out I’m not just a scrap of paper on the wind, to find out that I actually have some responsibility. A small narcissism. Publishers essentially choose random authors to publish out of a consistently good pool of submissions, so I needn’t worry. A small narcissism.

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A koan can be found by anyone, a child, a student, a fool. Just so, a good poem can be written by anyone. Religious inspiration was a great excuse to just get on with creating things without a paralysing doubt lodged real deep inside the motivations.

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When you feel paralysed, sat still for hours, it’s not necessarily something inside that’s doing this to you. Look around you – things really are making it difficult for you to move! Money, property, employment, far away friends, the dull weather, lack of personal space.

It’s like a chimpanzee born in an enclosure 1/100th of the size it would usually roam in the wild each day, with dirtied glass windows through which the children watch and tap, with ‘enrichment objects’ broken or finished with scattered around, and the same dinner tonight that it’s eaten for several days, turned around and said ‘I can’t put my finger on it, I just feel cooped up, you know?’

Chimps at least spend a large proportion of their time trying to escape.

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What is the drive towards writing a dystopia, and how is it different to the drive to make a better world? Why would one person sit down to make a dystopia? It has the potential to be a quite reactionary activity – as if the coach route was changed and the person at the back spent the next few hours writing about how bad the new route and destination was, with the original route simmering away in the background, thickening, steaming up the windows. Possibly the new route is worse, but my point remains.

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Ther yz a thote y hav sumtyms, wych ys that iv yu can ber to reed thyss, cud ber to reed thyss scrypt ot al tyms, wythote a shyvva passen doun thy spyne, congrachulayshuns, yu arnt losst. Ther ys stil howp.