Joan Miro by Paul Éluard

Sun-prey prisoner of my head,
rub out the hill, rub out the forest.
The sky is more beautiful than ever.
give it form so precise
that I disperse with a wave.

Clouds of the first day,
insensible clouds, that nothing authorised,
their grain burns
in the straw-fire of my eyes.

In the end, to cover itself in dawn
the day must be as pure as the night


The language engineers at work
in caves, at the timefall, at work
tending herds of grammar, culling
precious words. Tapping flints on walls

patiently guiding neurons through
submerged caverns, through pinching caves,
seeding fields in the deep. Alas
memory is weak and falling

and the dark is never ending.
Scathing eyes and reticent laughs
fill the blackness. Babel was made
here, by someone, alone. The bricks

to build towers are clay and hay
which pour from loners’ joyful mouths.
Like wildfire a new word comes
and burns the village to the ground,

No, it says. I have caught this fire
I climbed the black mountain alone
and god spoke, spoke in flame to ME,

is fickle – do not expect much –
The terrain is rough, and fools rush
to smooth it out. I build, I sculpt
a language which must crack and fail


Hold your fist in the air. Support
the sky by leaving it there. Pride
of the world, you say, with your hand.
This elbow node of the culture,

bent at its soft angle. As if
to say, we are both atlas, and
if we fail each other, the sky
may break into pieces and fall//

Hail hits the windows, rattles vents
and the game console cools slowly
and out of the pattern of snow
on the window, and hot plastic

something forms. It’s an odd meaning
that shifts and cracks and congeals out
of the air. This passage of heat
towards the cold. In sheds, remains

of the past sit in the chill air
and spiders die among them. Peace
steps through the door in the shape of
someone who cares. They nudge you out

of a rut you slid into when
time disjointed. One day, the earth
will cool to a black lump, but still
we have lived and learned together

Aphorisms XIX

The hatred of brutalism and modernism is a kind of prolonged hate, by the children of imperialists, of something that was made by or at least sometimes for, in a really important way, us, the children of the workers who held the empire for them. These buildings we built, when the people were in real power for the first time, just worry those with that shrunken ideology that would go back but can never outline where to, beyond that road where we slaves were strung up, on the way to the senate. They are a too forward sign that the new did happen, and could happen again.

The fact that they are disliked, helps us to remember their importance. The first mass architecture stripped of everything non-secular, not taking the temple or the church as its model. Not a castle, but a standing commune.


You don’t even need to look up who said ‘each Englishman’s home is his castle’. You just know they had a big house, and a big garden, and probably a servant or two.


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The green dawn never came. This land
sank under the sea. We might have
been a new Atlantis. No more –
ships, lost and riding the dark sea

watch ignorant spitfires flee.
A wall surrounds the island, seen
from the water as grey cliffs are
seen. So. If everything old burns –

that is after all, what you wanted –
was it not? You had rather seen
a new England, where car horns blare
nine coughing blasts and then we drown.

Enough of these childish things.
we can barely breathe. If flames rise
and cast their shadows on the sea,
each of you who brought this rank fate

will meet the avenging angel
in your dreams, burning and the sun
burning, burning. You take Blake’s name
in vain to sing Jerusalem.

Blake sings with me. Your hope was not.
And now as your voices raise up
in panic, I let a half smile –
a great red dragon smiles in me

Aphorisms XVIII

Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius – The Borges story offers quite a neat allegory for the post-truth/propaganda situation. The fake encyclopedia begins as an experiment – can we create a world in detail without the usual connections between material reality and the conceptual scheme? Can we jettison praxis altogether and have its opposite occur? In that world, the concepts begin to cause things to happen, simply by being made. The markers of this are objects that propagate themselves, but slightly changed, exaggerating some aspect – conspiracy objects. Then the completed encyclopedia begins to disturb reality – reality as a scheme begins to collapse due to the overstrong influence of the unreal.


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