Aphorisms III

Consuming isn’t easy, sometimes. It’s a form of emotional labour. Though series and films can play themselves out in front of us, we don’t just sit and absorb their images. Or at least, not by default. In this way, A Clockwork Orange has a fallacy in it – that being forced to watch something would change us, simply by being made spectator. Of course this is the case for certain experiences, that we are particularly receptive to, but the active spectator can critique whilst in the process of watching (hopefully not out loud though, for the sake of others…)

This idea has an interesting expression in the world of music – are there not songs that you love, whilst being almost completely ignorant of the lyrics, or cognisant of them only in a vague, catchphrase fashion. Consuming music like this is simply allowing it to bounce off us, alter our rhythms. But to consume the whole is to process the message of the song, and to come to a conclusion regarding its sense. I do this rarely. It’s a lot of work.


Sometimes I come across people like this. I ask – do you love books? They say – Yes, I love 1984.


Nationalism is the symptom of a badly functioning state.


“Become who you are!” Careful not to read this as an exhortation to selfishness. For who you are can well include others.


Le Corbusier said of the High Court building in Chandigarh “it’s about majesty, the power and home of the law”. And this is a crisp example of the way buildings are conditioned by histories – of the materials, of state and society. When I see poured concrete in the Indian sun’s heat, it can seem stuffy, and humid. I wonder at the corrosion brought by the rain, conditioned by my viewing of Slumdog Millionaire, absorbing the backgrounds of bollywood and countless documentaries. But to someone who was born and lives in Indian rain and humidity, coming to the High Court in 1955 will not have brought up these feelings. They might only see the rectangular immensity, the incredible newness of the state of India, the absolute unlikeness to bland imperial domination, they might see rebirth. They might see a clearness, and a simplicity which I can see through a glass darkly. Or they might not. I would love to read an account of someone coming to this building for the first time.


People say we are insulating ourselves in small online communities, because we won’t listen to their bullshit.

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In looking for happiness right where you are
Or farthest-star following
What if you find that happiness requires
The acquisition of skeletons
What if the last leap turns into a fall?

And you hit the golden rocks by the sea
Or are dragged down into it
By the weight of all these childish things.
What if to be happy, you must
Take someone else’s happiness without hesitation?

What if I am not strong enough to harm
In the end the one whom I love
Who is stopping me from being happy;
No new island without castaways;
Oh I know who I am, I know. And it is not good!

Of Cultivated Quiet

Perhaps there is more?
Something to expect from things, a tangle, or some crunch.
Sings the body, as its silent vibrations
(to which we are blind and impatient) erupt
Into glorious assonance, and deep in my gut
That tiny spring of pleasure starts up
Only a trickle, and hesistant
As it might be cut short by rocks and bits of stone
Dislodged by the slow moving of tectonic life-plates
But quiet – it waits, buoying me up on its flowing
And little by little,

A moose, born from the trees
shakes off fallen snow, crosses a road and sees
out on the river, the frozen river, dark in the dusk
a quicker path, and tentative paces out
feels the deep crackings of the ancient water
echo through its soft-shined hooves

Just so, little by little, my life begins
To ring so soft, in bright cascades
Of cultivated quiet.

Pleasure leaps forth in orgasm, in winning, in commanding
And this leaping can distract (behold the heart’s hard landing)
from the budding growth of softer joy
The intellect, and itself, deploy.

The Value of Darkness

If you talk to me of comfort, my friend
And darkness, well I’ve this –

If the nocturnal endlessness of the darksky
Were placed against her, I
Would mark it as a grain of dust
Hanging in her beam of sunlight
On a summerday’s comfort,
Gleaming ironmetal to its rust.

But perhaps you’d rather I turn your head in surprise –

She is as darkness to me, how it flies
Curving out at equal speed to light
Enveloping all most shadowly in night
As we lie together sweating sparks of touch –
She is my eclipse, my thunderstorm
My oceandeep gloom, my envelope
She is the stranger standing in the room
Who disappears on waking.
She is my light and dark, she is my gloaming.

She is not sound, but silence, after chatter
Shook violentwise the eardrum and composed
A mindset to accept the wind and void.

She is not caress, but the lack of touch
On a breathless day under unfeeling sun
When all the cares of the world burn into my skin
In all noise and fury.

You grade the universe wrong when you throw this out.
We measure all things, and give them measure
And photon impacts per second offer death to the heart.
Measuring value in metres cubed…

It might be right to prefer the end of the world, and doom
To the end of the shining connection, holding in storm
The weatherfronts of myself and her.

She is my welcome gloom.