Why do we hold unalloyed engagement with a show, an act, to be the most valuable form of engagement? Especially when the matter of the art is smooth and brushes at the attention with a feather.
If you do things with your phone, to engage, it can result in a deeper engagement with the matter of the art. To make pictures while you listen to the jazz. To read the mythology in the background of a painting (here to simply look is to completely ignore the painting.) To play the videogame.
To call your friend and have them hear the music through the phone. Rather than sit, absorbed, where you will forget to be with the art, and instead just watch it. Often the alloy, hardly the element.
Ends are lamps, like things in the fog
like dust clouds birthing new stars – no –
like lamps in the fog, with cut-glass;
spiderwebs in the lead-lined vents…
O friends, there is no end. Missiles
rain on my friends, there will be no
end. Just think of the desert life
vanished in the trinity test:
There is no end. Things just transform.
A paper plane flown over fields
into the lithium furnace.
Batteries to recharge and change.
Decay. Cycle again, but end?
Pages turn, like brown leaves, become
paths – monotype of the footstep –
lamps receding into the fog.
Everything’s but a pile, my friends.
A pile of such delicate mould.
Such delicate, beautiful mould.
I grow old, and softer, and old.
An end is time’s crisping edge, no –
it’s every line, every letter
An end repeats what’s never past –
An end is something just like this:
“I start digging in this medium, trawling and sifting through the past, without knowing really what to look for” – The Undercurrents
Leeds is a minor European city. It has a history, but that history is only vaguely, partially and sometimes present for me in my daily life here. We have a historical society but no popular or literary histories (or should I say, popular literary histories?) except one – the Hounding of David Oluwale. Its past is minor, imperial, and parallel to other cities whose examples might take its place in general histories of the twentieth century.
Berlin is different. It has been a capital, lost that title, and regained it, been near destroyed and separated, by concrete violence, into two smaller cities, and then re-joined. Like a churned riverbed, it shows several traumatic layers flowing together – its surface scarred. This is the surface through which Kirsty Bell moves. She buys an apartment on the canal, and spends her days of abandonment looking out of the window and seeing the past animate and haunt the view. Her book is a haunted book, about a haunted house. A house that is trying to speak to her through water.
Sometimes the heaviest reading
is the lightest – you understand?
Threading a needle envelops
the whole of us, a subtle task –
It is not a wetted slide down
in bright acrylic tubes to pools
It is a staircase and each step
slightly differs in height. Slowness
is an active ideal. I read
the day we spent in Dunstanburgh
and it is complex. Razor bills
and Shags patrol the ruined keep
in the darkness while the basalt
is thrashed by the waves. A staircase
starts halfway up a ruined stack –
The last person to take those stairs
was some unnamed and lost servant.
Yellow gorse patches over hills
which spread to the damp horizon
and fields of rapeseed glow and grow
We have steps to take and relearn
as heat passes into the sky
over the bookshop. And your kiss
stumps me like distant history
<< In-between two redbrick houses
there is an alcove and a shed
topped with a mossy corrugate.
On the campus. A leaf dances
shivers, hovers, behind the moss –
blown as if a storm plucked at it
on a taught invisible string.
I’m still in front of the horror >>
<< There is a leaf on the road home
I see in the peripheral
behind me when I look back down
the hill – on the grey concrete steps
It jumps and slaps the ground so fast
and in paroxysms of dance
confined to its small space – I blank
on everything and watch the glitch >>
<< Roland Barthes was crossing the road
when he suddenly stopped – in front
on the path ahead a brown leaf
shivered as if it was burning
but there was no smoke. Enraptured
he didn’t notice the milk truck.
As the blood pooled the leaf flew up
to hover over him, spinning >>
There’s something cleansing about watching old papers burn, something similar to watching a big long delete bar progressing on the screen, things being overwritten with randomly generated strings. The process of scrunching up letters, and then seeing them turn to ash, the randomly generated strings of the earth. Like we will!
I was going to see West Side Story, and I had a bit of time earlier in the day, so I thought I might put on La La Land to see how it’s aged.
Always, around, the posters, the crowd, in the background. When Emma Stone goes into the restaurant, she slips through time slightly, caught by a melody. Potent icon of a lost time, attractive to romantics, the jazz piano solo. Trying to escape the grind, or be successful at creating a kind of special creation, having the cake and eating it.
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