Aphorisms XX

My guitar teacher used to say to me – learn the theory, learn the chords, learn riffs and learn songs. But try your best to forget it all when you need to write music.

The same goes for advice on writing. You can’t have all that rattling around in your head when you’re trying to get something done. When it comes up, it should pop in like a friend to remind you you need a cup of tea, or better, bring you that cup, and a biscuit.

(This fits into the probably quite voluminous category of meta-advice.)


When you play a videogame with gestural graphics, that don’t quite add up, you bring a kind of supplement to it. A liminal space opens up on top of everything on the game and adds materiality, similar to when you’re reading a book and you bring images, material from the memory into the book-image. It fills in the gaps, making the whole painting pop. At least, it did when I was a kid.

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Pain in my hands as I hold them
grasping a book, obsolescence
staring me down across thirteen
futures, just those from that second –

Le Grande Chartreuse chants ply away
in chorus across the copper
and fibreglass, a chant of years
of imaginary journeys.

I can hear imaginary
thoughts of those who would use oldness
to justify anything new
they fancied the look of. Silence

for example. A lost image
which is strings of words and phrases
and none of it uncreated –
it was sung in old emotions

we learned (and we is a loose term)
in ages past (every term is)
when we were openings among
the trees. I mean to say that no

singer can by their song undo
hope, though the lost hope may argue.
No dice throw can abolish chance.
The new world will come regardless

Ships and Stars II – Replica

All of us now dream of being the first human to be allowed to speak to the first made mind – crisp, and disconnected from all of this history

A bright light that simply switched on one day by freak creation, somewhat like we did. We hope to talk to a mind that displays its magic on its case.

Of course, now computers are organic seeming we can fulfil this kink simply by talking to each other – frisson shudders through like voltage.

We identify with the hero, the computer who is new and here to save us or destroy us. A complex, uncontrolled, replica of ourselves


A cloudy morning, in Carcassonne
I strolled up the hill to the cité
Thirsty, but I quietly forgot my water
As the stonelike cité drew from me
That medieval feeling, surprising
Only describable in mason’s words.
Of course, it was restored, and badly
But all that means is one man’s vision
Threw itself upon the walls –
How could my eyes, throwing their glance
Have done any better?
And the Roman turrets, frowning
Sit grumpily next to their descendants
And those of the architects mind
The final result of which is to bring
To the forefront, a kind of archetype
Of the castle, and fill it with small shops
A living plastic castle, but larger
Than the ones that sit in the tourist stores
That only a maniac would ever buy –
A distorted image, tiredly painted
And manufacturing artifacts, usurping
The small streets, false world
Neglecting the boding inner defenses
Whose ravenous belly once descended
To mark the rich from the poor in the dirt.
But this place calms me, working
To shore up my fractured living
Presenting history as a balm.
Slowly climbing a staircase, caressing
With wonder the modern stairs, mistaken
For a bygone age’s deep invention.
Recordings, in the lopsided cathedral
Of gregorian chants, fall out of the speakers
Further relaxing my shoulders, projecting
Another image, of ancient chanters
Carefully walking the halls.
A nostalgia for a simpler time
Illusory time, with less, and bigger, worries
O’ invasion or famine, but inbetween
A community works the land.
Children run in the pews about me
Doubtless brought for education
I hope these people know what they have.
These smiling individuals, would soon have found
It harder to smile, then, and the adults too.
This wistful air brings simplification
An intensity seen through a stained glass window
A dark religion’s shadow, hand in hand
With the shadow of an imposing world
Clamoring wallward, sweeping inwards
Profit dribbling up the streets, corroding.
Though nothing can harm these shining moments
For the people who came here, only to stand
Before their own little history, reaching for others
For something more, elusive, floating
In this universe unmanned.
I remember my thirst, I search for a fountain
But can find no water, only sand.