The quicksand and sea of mud
and the sea itself, running
with cold skies as long and deep.
Oaks step out from cobbled banks
with the train’s rumble stirring
the café in the pale house –
I cannot escape from this
barbaric lyric’s enclave –
with the way that the world goes on
how can I still find this peace?
Maybe I should have chosen
to be the gull, the shaggy
dog in the rail underpass
whose soft songs betray no-one
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!
Can’t hear this suggestion to live among the dead, a la Machiavelli and Montaigne, without also taking into account that this was their way to relax after a day of politics, making it doubly twisted.
It’s such a human feeling, or feeling of the human, to have your brain scramble for excuses as to why you have failed, or why it is unjust that you should suffer like this. And you watch it like a toddler in tantrum, and when it stops for a moment you ask – are you done? And it screams NO! Or stops, tired out. There are good reasons to despair sometimes, but when this kind of thing happens, you know there are no good reasons involved.
If you fail in love, and feel everything crashing around you, and think, this is the end, I’ll never X again, this is an example of that grasping after straws. It is so hard to be your own parent, to pick up your toddler-brain and say – it’s okay, don’t worry, let’s go get something to eat and maybe you imagined it all, but even if you didn’t, you’ll definitely meet someone new.
This might all be a little harsh, but our world really encourages us not to care too much. Searching for someone who will be special and care for you like a breathing comfort blanket, this is all well and good. But we should be careful not to undervalue ourselves. Again, the base of this kind of despair must be a lack of self-confidence. (Insofar as there isn’t an economic or material side to love – but of course there very much can be.)
Fine, but if you put all your eggs in one basket, you’d better not drop that basket.
So often in anxious times you see your own internal features expressed in silences, gaps and tones in the speech of your friends. Your own face glares back out of them darkly and says, you’re not enough, you are guilty. But, as it often turns out, they never meant anything by it.
I long for the truth of a myth of a messianic moment where understanding passes over us in a sweet rapture. But it won’t.
The most we can hope for is to taste it, from time to time.
The problem with a generation declaring literature to be basically over is that it deprives the following generations of the thought that their lives and thoughts might be worth novelising. It results in the experience I’ve had with Ben Lerner, Luke Kennard, Sally Rooney, suddenly recognising myself in the books, thinking – ah, so this is how novels shore us up. But then on the back cover of The Topeka School I read Sally Rooney’s comment – “To the extent that we can speak of a future at present, I think that the future of the novel is here”. And I feel strange. Does each modern novel writer think they are entourage to the last writers? Do they always feel the door shutting after them?
The extravagance of poetry is this contention that it deserves the amount of space it takes up. If done unconsciously, it can underwhelm, but with great confidence it shines. Like a single acorn sat in the centre of an small warehouse.
I imagine a solid gold maze hung from invisible wires in a large room, undulating under the diffuse light. Although for some it is not a luxury, poetry is luxurious speech.
Scripturience is always eschatological in the end.
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 in my head, 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. 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.
Art for art’s sake is just a warning not to expect more.
Consuming isn’t easy, sometimes. It can be 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 quasi-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…)
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!” – Easy to read Nietzsche’s phrase as a spur to selfishness. But who you are can obviously include others.
The moss between cobblestones. Rain
to break rot weakened branches. Wind
on the puddle on the bridge tears
the world into sections. I step
in the puddle and move on. Step
through the humid air. Step. I fall
through the floor and the map appears
grey and unrendered. The cloudlines
were just painted on the skybox.
I look down and I have no feet.
But the air is humid, I breathe
and smell damp old cars. Will we get
thumb arthritis, when we are old?
I see objects from my youth hang
in the air, ready for the next
cutscene. Then the quick-time event
begins. I have to tap *a* as
I drive the car home from work and
a stupid pigeon accosts me
by flying into the road. I
then miss pressing *up*, and my mind
gets caught on climate, that I can’t
be driving. There is a glitch and
I am flung into the dark sky