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SOME NEW STORY K

 

 

 

The Country and the City

 

It was the ancient Greek stoic Zenodotus who first discovered that you could equate words with themselves. That you could say, for example, the table is the table. That you could write a word, put an is, and then put the same word again. I can only imagine what excitement must have taken hold of Zenodotus when he made his discovery. All that we know about his life suggests that he was simply not the same person after this experience. That he was wholly different, happier, with much lighter step. Perhaps even, according to Dioscorides, with a completely different face and body. The guiding question of this book could be seen as a direct result of Zenodotus' discovery. The question being, does this formulation, that a table, as he said, is a table, hold up with all nouns? Birds, for example? Wings, for example?

 

[...]

 

Reenpää’s theory of wings begins with the proposition wings are wings, and moves, over some three thousand pages, in an extremely musical way, to the final sentence of the work: “That is why wings are not wings.” (“Siksi siivet eivät ole siipiä,” in the Finnish original.) Reenpää’s theory is extremely beautiful, probably because of the beautiful Finnish houses he grew up around, but also very wrong. It goes wrong exactly half way through, where  Reenpää  starts to talk about his mother, her name, and so on, and some of the things she told him during his childhood. Her name is attractive enough, but from that point on, his argument progressively weakens.

Reenpää’s approach, however, considered generally, does have a certain persuasive quality. The argument, for example, that birds should be studied ”not by any sort of vulgar empirical method,” but by ”extreme and unrelenting attention to one's earliest memories, of one's father, of one's mother, and in particular the interactions between them” has undoubtedly changed the science of wings for the better. But Reenpää , in our view, does not go far enough. There are many pictures of his mother in the text, but the descriptions and analyses which accompany them are weak and often illogical. Sometimes he is fawning. Reenpää cannot be seen then, in our view, as a true ornitho-philosopher, that title being applicable only to the great Swede, Gorman Svada.

 

My theory of wings gets worse everyday. I drink more and more coffee – coffee tastes remedial. Paula comes round. Her hair is so large now that I worry, about her mental health, about my mental health, about the mental health of people in general, the possibility of any human sanity. I still let her in. I will always let her in, I think – I will always let anyone in. I sleep better at night if I have let one person, at least, through my door that day. Who knocks on a door and doesn’t want it to open? The darkness inherent in the future withdraws a little if you imagine all doors just opening, just because you knocked on them. Would you like some tea yes thank you I would like some tea good then good sit on this big old chair will you I will thank you, good.

I remember how the thought struck me: we need a new theory of wings. Sometimes I think we have explained too much, as a species I mean, but now I think we have explained the wrong things. And the explaining itself is so little understood that it doesn't matter much anyway. I was looking at birds a lot – you can't not, I find, not after the kind of childhood I had, rent by causeless acts of violence. Or perhaps part of the violence was the rending of cause from effect. The effect was pain. The doses of mental and physical were about equal, which was a blessing. When they were not, I righted the balance myself, under the covers. I feel a deep sense of balance now – I couldn't write otherwise. But I date the end of my childhood to the first moment in which I really looked at a bird, just stared at it, right in the eyes.

I didn't begin to study birds formally until I was around fifteen. Before it was just sounds. Flapping more than singing that I liked. The flapping indicating both the weight of the thing, and how the thing was in the air, weightless. Singing meant nothing. My mother had sung often, too much perhaps, and in a too bird-like a manner, for there to remain anything mysterious about the sounds of birds. And it always goes like this – what begins in wonder ends in a theory of wonder. Wonder lasts five years at best. And understanding is a way to touch it again, somehow – to knock on its door, at least, if you will. So I bought this place, out here in the country, in a village named after its only tree.

The first proposition in my theory of wings is that birds have wings. The second is that they use them – not just to fly, of course. Some birds just have them and don’t do anything with them. They just sit with them like you sit with an old person who is dying. You feel responsible so you sit there. Usually people follow me up to about the fifth proposition. The best way to do philosophy, in my view (I told my publisher I would like to have my theory classified as philosophy and not as ornithology, if it comes to that) is to begin by saying things that people find very hard to disagree with. When they get to the things they do disagree with (such as points 3 – 5 of my theory of wings, which I won’t mention here), they remember that four or five seconds earlier, they found nothing to disagree with. So they think something is wrong with them, and not the theory. And they're right, there is something wrong with them.

It’s in the nature of people that everything about them is somehow wrong. It's where the idea of evil came from. Someone looked at someone else. But then that’s also where the idea of love comes from, because when they looked at them, they liked them, or they wanted to look more, at least. Evil became love. They wanted to see that person again, that evening. They asked for that person’s phone number and that person gave them their phone number because that person was thinking the same thing. Two people, looking at each other, wanting to see each other again, later that evening – and actually meeting. That’s the kind of myth we should tell our kids. Me and Besa told our kids the wrong myth, I think. The one in Plato, where man and woman used to be one person: Zeus cut them in two like a sorb-apple which is halved for pickling.

The old myths are not realistic, I mean. It isn’t sensible to think that you and your wife used to be one person. The reference to the sorb-apple is nice. But it would be better to think that you used to be two people, that you still are two people, but you are closer together. You live in the same place – two people in a place. We should have written a children’s book together called Two People In A Place, but after seven years we split up totally (like a sorb-apple halved for pickling) and now I’m living fourteen thousand miles away from her. I told her I would send her half the proceeds and two copies of the book. But it is not going well. Increasingly, people hate theories. And they hate writers, especially ones in villages who leave their little children behind in cities. I don't know their opinion about birds. I could always steer it towards memoir, though – or at least guilt.. Which they like. In which I could at least explain a little about why I left my crying baby and my laughing wife.

For example: Paula is here now. There is the glow of the fire and the glow of the television and she is between the television and the fire. Nowhere better on this planet. And her face is very well lit. Each light source taking ten years off, about. And thirty is the best age to look, if not to be, in my opinion. Especially in the country. Though her sadness is adding another eight or nine. If I can negate her sadness somehow, she will be perfect for me. And I for her too – if I can negate her sadness, my own sadness will be reduced, too. So Paula, I say. So so so so so. Hm, she says. Here we are, she says. The two glows on her face, the sadness unnegated. I'm glad you came, Paula. Glad in my heart. Are you, she says, are you really. Who knows, I don't say. I try to let the silence answer. I am not sure to this today whether it was saying yes or no or neither.

It is Paula that keeps the memoir option alive. As in, the possibility of redemption. That the theory of wings will itself fail, hopefully dramatically, and that she, underneath her hair, will keep me grounded. I will not return to Besa, not in the sexual sense of return, though I will return to her residence sometimes. Sad, tentative, hopeful steps, each sadder, more tentative, more hopeful, winding, winding, winding, towards, finally, her door! I will visit Adnan and talk to him in a well-rounded way. Thanks to Paula, of course. That is what will keep the reader happy: that I, in my hard-earned country-life wisdom, distilled from loneliness and the touch of a good, lonely woman, can recognize selflessly that I was saved from without, not within, that my meticulous work on the theory of wings was only a sort of sad psychological escape mechanism, like all science. That true love wins in the end, completely. I will tell Adnan what a fish is, how to catch it. We will catch a fish together, in a river or a lake. Paula will be there, even, watching from a sensitive distance, allowing the father-son moment to unfold to its full potential, spreading outwards over the land, the fish drowning in the air beside us. And Adnan will return to Besa with the fish wrapped in newspaper. There will be smiles. Laughter also but not of the indulgent sort, suggestive of pain. A laughter which plays on the surface of the face (and the moment) with gentleness and understanding. A memoir.

And we do fuck, occasionally. After forty or fifty minutes of silence (and tea/coffee) one of us begins to move, towards the other. Sometimes as though starting out for a walk: covering the distance briskly, enthusiastically, practically. Sometimes the route is convoluted. I might go and feel, for example, the stuffed robin on the shelf, or look out of the window, notice whether or not it is raining, briefly examine my inner erotic world, try to repress any images or sounds relating to Besa. Or try to raise them up out of the depths, depending on my mood. Then I arrive at Paula, take the cup from her hand, put my hands on her eyes. Sometimes I imagine Paula with Besa's face, but I can never imagine Besa's hair on Paula's head. Paula's hair is incredibly particular. Or Besa's breasts for example,on Paula's back. It is easier to add than to take away, when the imagination is concerned. Sometimes I imagine them both simply grafted together. My studies of Cubism (1997-2002, University of Tirana) make the process easier. Or I imagine that Adnan might come in, by accident. With Besa I made love very silently, and Adnan was capable of walking very loudly, so it is quite probable. Forgetting the fourteen thousand mile journey. Him seeing his mother's breasts, there on Paula's back. Depending on the angle, of course. Not all of this would be in the memoir, though it is always good to linger when the question of angles, perspectives, are concerned. To exaggerate contingency where possible – it makes the redemption more welcome, when it does come. A Wing Inside A Prayer: My Life.

Last week we peeled potatoes together. That was good. I don't know what to do with the book any more. Some pages are more memoir, some are more wing-theory. They work well neither together nor apart. If only the process of peeling potatoes could be slowed down a thousand fold. And if Paula and Besa had both been involved with Adnan's conception, 45% percent each. I would be the remaining 10% that has to see Adnan sometimes, but not very often, and has certain sexual obligations to both of them.

I hope in heaven I am alone in a room with a bird. No words from my books written on the walls. Everything about books forgotten, everything else remembered. Hell being the opposite. Looking at them, Paula, Besa, Adnan, through the huge window, in the birdroom, knowing everything that had been said.

I would not want them to be in hell, but I would not want them to be in my birdroom either. I'm not sure. I would want they them to be together, so that my name would come up in their conversations. Curating my name, sometimes, with their tongues. Just enough so that I could remember myself. Mouthreader as well as birdseer. Perhaps they could all just fuck each other. I could control the blinds, choose what I wanted to see. With my mind, I mean – I wouldn't have to touch anything. My bird would be absolutely silent, even when it flapped. Perhaps one of Paula's breasts, too, could be in the room. There on the wall, at light-switch height.

I've stopped writing completely. I go through backwards, erase everything fourth word. Sometimes a strange sense emerges – as though I had planned, all along, to erase the fourth words. A sharp, crystalline quality. Meaning that perhaps I should also erase everything seventh word. Or meaning, perhaps, that I was not born to write – that I should be packing, putting the salmon sandwiches in Adnan's green lunch box, the morning sun on my cheeks, the morning light in my eyes, Besa cycling to the post office to tell everyone how everything is.

I spend less and less time with Paula. I see her through the window (on earth, I mean). She is replacing me with plants. I see how her hand moves on the plants, firmly, smoothly, grasping or separating, and do the same to me, with my hands. Possibly if I run into her house suddenly in a plant costume she will touch me again, once.

I spend more time with plants now, too. My hands move on them, grasping and separating, and I can feel the echoes of the actions on my back. Still via Paula, somehow, but I am filtering her out, plant by plant. If the wind had fingers I would never have looked a women in the eye.

 

I couldn't finish my theory of wings, son. I have come to see that no theory of wings is necessary. Best is just to look. Look while you can! Which is not to say, move. You don't need to go to it. It's there – I mean, here. Not in the air but everywhere else – things. They will tell you to travel more, swim more, and so on. But what will you regret is that you didn't spend more time looking blankly. Into the things. Just the surface of them, I mean. Dim or bright. Coloured or otherwise. The eyes of animals, especially, Adnan. It's where God is hiding. I'm certain. Come and see the room after I pass away. If you can't believe what I'm saying where you are, I think you might believe if you stand where I'm standing now. I have marked my standing point on the floor in white chalk. Tell Besa that I love her. Give this picture of Paula to her. She will understand, I think. I love you also.

No theory can explain or even describe birds. They are outside the realm of theory. If you disagree, read the Scandinavians first. They present it in the sparsest, most inspiring way. I met Gormon myself and I loved him immediately. The quiet power, the sheer volume of his body, as though he'd been poured into himself, right up to the brim. He could help you. There is something of undeniable value in every Scandinavian. But as I said, Adnan: you don't need to travel. You don't need to move. Protect your eyes. With your hands. With everything which is available to you. No short cuts, Adnan. Keep your eyes intact until the last moment passes before them. Ears are secondary, Adnan. If you can die with your eyes open, it's better.

Finally – forgiveness is everywhere. It's soft and warm. It's coming towards me now, over the hills – it's the thing you just felt leave your hands.

Thank you.

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some new things not much nowadays but some new things anyway here, now! 

 

Light/Water

 

This time, he thought, I’ll write something that sort of floats on the surface, but still gets wet – but is certainly wet, of course it’s wet, it’s on the surface, but it receives light too. What light there is, that is – but there will be light. I’ll complete the light first, then have it come up out of the water, and then remain there.

 

And he did try to do this but as with other previous pieces the question of the relation between men and women, the question of relationships in general, sexual and otherwise, the entire insane gamut of relationships, somehow, in that underhand it has, made the question of the light and the water sink beneath it.

 

It began, even, with a description of a single breast – that was how the light, according to the narrative, made it seem, that there was just one. Though the man knew there was another.

 

It got worse and worse from this point and could not, he found, be rethematised.

 

He bought a bathtub and filled it with water and put it in his study, where he wrote, and he cut the wall open so more light would fall in and the tub was close enough to him that he could kick it and the light would then be in the moving water and the strange interior contouring of the water would dance to and fro, like gills made of light, or movement, would decorate the otherwise plain walls but still the man in the story seem to stumble upon breasts or memories or breasts or and even when all the characters were clearly asexual there was still some awful sourceless tension by which the descriptions of the water and the light were hindered.

 

She was more interested in music. She could not escape the feeling that, whenever someone spoke, or wrote, or “confessed to living in language”, as she put it, they were being wilfully stupid. He could sometimes hear her through the door, though it was her strategy to play quietly enough that the sound would not pass through a wall. She liked the feeling that all of the sound she was making was contained in the space in which she was – it was an elaboration, she said, of the isolation of a room – or not an elaboration, she said, it was an investigation she said, a questioning, an escape from, she kept going, letting the synonyms unspool – she would stop when the sequence turned back on itself and then she would step over the “dead corpse of language” and return to her violin, or whatever it was, completely refreshed.

 

The violin especially though: it ate away, she said, at language, just as those things in that river enter the opening of the penis and go up into the eye, somehow, and feed of it until holes appear in the vision, one supposes – the sound of the violin might not overthrow language per se but it scratches out holes and one day it might, she hoped, clear out a large enough space that it could rest there.

 

The only thing they both did was swim. Yes – it would have been a serious matter if I had forgotten to mention how much both these individuals enjoyed swimming, and not only in the sense of two isolated bodies in a pool or in the sea itself, close to each other but ultimately divided by the tragedy of human individuality: no, rather, once in the water, the intractable problems of human relations seemed to remain behind, in the changing room, on the beach. 30-40 minutes of existence without problems was granted them, and an immeasurable closeness emerged once everything else had been removed, as though the truth of a body’s existence can only be transmitted successfully in the medium of water.

 

It is perhaps best to leave them as they were yesterday, when the most recent of their swimming days fell. There were no mistakes in the allocation of time, there were no sudden funerals or illnesses in the family requiring their attention. The bodies in the sea – at their best when moving outwards, the tender unification of the horizon, toward which both bodies must of course point, the clothes on the beach like the relics of a civilization utterly transcended, where the camera zooms now, looks over the labels and the sizes given on the labels and the patterns and structure of the thread, and seems now to be burying itself, nuzzling down a sleeve, as one would imagine a rodent might, in a strange, sniffing way, as though returning to its home after a day out hunting, but so cute.

 

To leave them that way, as bodies in a sea, as they would seem, not to your in your vague but nascent understanding, your framing of their lives, but as they would seem to a passing man or woman, in retirement and good health, having firmly established themselves in their coastal life, looking out and seeing the story of youth flapping away out there, but elegantly, sheer direction, the limbs, rising and falling, suddenly gestures belonging to a strange language, with the body alone as its root – a language which had been, thankfully, intended to be meaningless all along.  

 

 

Four stories

 

1.

 

Essentially it begins at the sea. There’s a boy there and he’s quite small. He is being watched by a man: the man does not know why he is watching the boy, he only knows he is watching the boy: the boy is in the same situation relative to the man. The scene is closed off from the rest of the events on the beach by the submergence of the why in the what. There are other people reading on the beach, certainly, but for them, the question of why exists, and keeps them at a safe distance from each other. But here whatever is happening in the seeing and the knowing you are seen, divided between the man and the boy, forecloses that kind of question. Because of its violence, that is. So that story trails off in the direction of the future. It ends in thirty years. One of the characters commits suicide at a date approximately twenty years after the events on the seaside already indicated, and the other, about ten years later still, albeit in extremely different ways. It is astonishing, in fact, that the category of committing suicide could encompass both of the techniques employed.

 

2.

 

The second story involves suicide but not the sea and is set, in fact, in a landlocked country. If any of the characters had a car, they would need to drive six hours to reach the sea, though the smell of the sea has been known to drift a half hour inland at certain times of the year. The story involves a boy of perhaps similar height to the “quite small” boy already mentioned. Thankfully for him there is no man in the story. In fact, quite unlike the previous story, in this story it is not-being-watched-by-a-man which, if an explanation was of any use, might go some way in explaining his later suicide. There is, this boy thought, a great need to sometimes be seen by a woman and a man at the same. There is, this boy thought, a great danger in spending too much time being seen by one. This boy remembers, after a hillside excursion with his mother and two sisters, walking to a local public house and standing in the middle of the local public house and taking down his trousers and his pants. Fourteen years passed between that day and his suicide which is, and he felt it at the time too, a not insignificant period of time.

 

3.

 

The third story involves neither the sea nor suicide. It concerns a boy who, like the boy in the previous story, inhabits a landlocked country, though he lives at a less depressing distance from the sea, and has a row of bottles by his bedside window each of which contains the smell, in an infinite quantity, of one of world’s major oceans. Usually he opens more than one at once and he has developed what can only be described as a music of smell, opening and closing the bottles in complex sequences. Some of his compositions require more than two hands, but he has taught his good friend Ivan a certain competence in the bottles, so the compositions can be heard in all their four-handed glory.

 

4.

 

The primary concern of the fourth story is the direct, and therefore beautiful, intersection of the sea and suicide: that is, drowning. While it is perfectly possible to drown in rivers and lakes, it has always seemed to me to be a bad idea, aesthetically speaking. It is also possible to drown without having planned to: that is just as ugly. The beauty of drowning, once opened up by intention, is proportional to the depth of the water under you. I cannot say why this is beautiful: so it goes with beautiful things generally. At best, you accept they are beautiful and move on, perhaps to another beautiful thing: at worst, the question of why they are beautiful consumes their beauty, and drives you to drug or alcohol abuse in an extreme form. I should admit now that the fourth story is not a story at all, but a description of the beautiful. I don’t know anyone who has drowned, intentionally or otherwise. Most people I know who killed themselves did so with a gun, and the closest they came to water was the generic dampness of autumn, as a tangential background.

 

Dance Classes At The Community Hall

 

Tired of being a character in a novel, you decided to try being a character in a poem.

 

The advantages of this, as you understood them, were as follows:

 

- Poems don’t have characters.

- There is no “night” and “day” in a poem. Rather grey everywhere, which turns blue very suddenly, with each new stanza.

- Your title feels unnecessary and subject to change.

 

You find time to attend dance classes, even.

 

Except: isn’t this exactly what you did back in the novel? Don’t you remember you – the waltz, e.g.?

 

So again, always one to push the boundaries, or at least rub up against them (that eternal itch!) you make a move.

 

Become: a footnote in unpublishable philosophical “manuscript” – the writer dies, and eventually his child has a look.

 

But even here you can still hear the dance.

 

Then, inevitably, you try your hand at doing a bit of writing yourself. Surely you have learned something?

 

It is set quite far underwater. Not too far (that has been done before). So that the light is still quite apparent. Important for novels (one thing you learned): enough illumination so that at least some objects/people can be determined.

 

And then, in the novel, the water starts to drain away. It means that the light gets nearer and nearer. Each chapter, it is a little nearer. The things are clearer and clearer. Then they get very clear. The novel ends: why keep writing when you can see everything?

 

A few more years as a footnote. Hibernation.

 

Now: ready to open the door.

 

 

Advice To My Older And/Or Younger Self

 

You could say it began it with the colour blue. Obviously it would be preferable to say nothing.

 

You could say it began with the colour green. It did: I remember the exact position of the sofa, of the table, when it began – with the colour green.

 

What begins with the colour green does not end with the colour green.

 

The middle could be greyblue: all men over fifty in stories have greyblue eyes. Why not?

 

He has a small Labrador puppy but really that flat isn’t big enough to accommodate it.

 

The line scrawled down the middle might signify a child. A child signifies an interruption.

 

The little alligator is smiling. Advanced story writers should not pursue that avenue unless

 

1. It literally happened / is happening

2. All other options have been exhausted.

 

The last third is a meeting of at least three of the colours.

 

Think of the short story as a scorpion, and yourself as the colour green – as previously described. This applies as much to amateurs as it does to children; as much to children as it does to the strange, continuous present which you feel under your feet when you take off your shoes.

 

Where are your shoes?

 

If you must use words from another language, at least put in a stone/stones for them to be found under.

 

If the reader doesn’t think, “this is curling,” start again, further behind yourself.

 

The text should sound nice. Some interesting words should be used.

 

Love of the reader’s boredom is central. Green or red helps with this: a rose in a field, quite far from the house where everything kicks off.

 

A somewhat elevated position.

 

As though language were the stick of a blind man: sometimes, in rage, hit the characters in the face with it.

 

The beginning of the story and the end of the story must make love at some point.

 

The painting slips down occasionally. Fear and misgivings.

 

Toy guns in the basement, shivering. 

 

Illness, Tiredness, Boredom

 

The red swirl indicates my mood: the kind of mood in which you would not only make a red swirl but the kind of mood in which you would additionally declare that the red swirl “indicates my mood.” The tree in the top right corner, conversely, is primarily accidental, with notes of intention flowing from right to left (which the grain in this pdf does not capture). Around the edges are a series of names: I would be a happier person if margins existed for that purpose – of being filled by names. Those you met and those you wanted to meet meeting together around the edges, except of course where the tree imposes itself. Which I have to say I am not completely happy about. The line running diagonally across it all suggests (I couldn’t explain how) all the foxes I have ever seen. I should note, for those who are here primarily to gather together the sad rudiments of an unwritable autobiography, that every time I have seen a fox I have been happy.

 

You will also notice, I imagine, the Hindi words which are scattered, here and there. Not, I stress, like leaves. I have not heard the words spoken and I do not know what the words would sound like, spoken, but I would like to. That is what they mean.

 

The excess of umlauts signifies my sense of the total pointless arbitrariness of everything, which penetrates even to the level of a very small dot, on a page, here, or somewhere else.

 

The font I have chosen refers to my mother, who refers to my father, who refers to the size of the page.

 

The number of paragraphs indicates the number of times I have thought about death while looking at myself in a reflective surface.

 

The pictures of paragliders I consider beautiful, in contrast to the pictures of stools, which I consider deeply ugly, and are included only for the purpose of contrast (which is important in any successful piece of writing, or dance move).

 

The length of the text refers to you.

 

I did not have space to include any of my favourite Renaissance paintings. I had commissioned someone I know to reproduce them here, somewhere (I didn’t specify where), but she was ill and tired and bored, among other things – the tedium of life, for example, which always pushes you, but extremely gently and encouragingly, in a direction you don’t want go down, at least not forwards. Their presence, most likely, would have referred to a certain rupture in historical time – as it is, their absence refers to her illness, her tiredness, her boredom. 

 

Sex / Table / Homeless 

 

Something sexual in the air / water / table. Not in myself much but still, this is something. A noteworthy beginning to a day – compared to say, yesterday, this is spectacular. I find myself quite able to say autumn today, in reference to the various colours of leaves, the cool temperature.

 

Not sexual in the sense of genitals, of fucking behind or inside sheds or even, more simply, in a practical, marital way, in beds, or next to beds, or in kitchens, or with the suggestion of underlying violence, even hate, which fucking in the bathroom seems to convey. Is it the wetness there which frees us from sympathy and compassion? Or the toilet, in the corner? But as I was saying, this is not what I mean. What I mean is something gentle but thick. A conversion of surfaces into depths. The dense forest-like meaning of thought, of conversation, falling – or rising, I am not sure – but, regardless, landing on the skin, distributing itself with scientific evenness across the surface of the skin. And suddenly each part of the skin having identical sexual significance. A situation which, you would think, would make fucking, as it is normally understood, behind sheds, etc., out of the question. But this is not what happens. The action remains, quite gloriously, in fact, but without the word, without any word. But not beyond language. This is not a time to get silly. Quite within language, but, within those limits, running around wildly. A stripper at a tennis final.

 

I don’t normally write like this. I am aware that there is a tendency to gentleness here which may even come across as a little debased, even tired. My usual military tone, my reference to guns and knifes, even bi-planes overhead (if only for context), is gone.

 

I would drop in a character at this point. Begin with the moustache, or the beard. It is my habit, usually, to transpose features of the various homeless people that I walk past on my way home from work. Their faces, it seems to me, compensate for their lack of social recognition with a triumph of particularity. Even their wounds, it seems to me, have a role this – the scars and blood and dirt of their faces and the strange disrupted veins there, and running down their legs. These faces are already eternal.

 

With a few features collated into the madness of a face, I begin. Walking, alone, usually homeless, as per their faces. Social realist, though something noirish soon happens. Some payment is required, some action is required to fund some payment, some event prevents the action from taking place, and then there is the falling action, and the end. To the extent that water has featured in my previous stories it has featured as:

 

a) the object of a desperate thirst

B) a means of torture

c) mixed with wine

d) spurting from defunct taps.

 

Sex has appeared as:

 

a) a bad memory

B) a crime

c) the impossible itself

 

 

 

(not sure if the faces wil be in finalverz)

 

But the feeling, today, persists, survives. Wanting to go back and touch the beards and the moustaches – to lick my finger and run it across the networks of desolate veins, undoing themselves under the skin, also across the mouth and then up into the hair. Generally all around, to show a sort of faith in the body. Isn’t this what is needed, this autumn? An introduction to the wholeness of the body through the licked finger of a stranger – that someone can give up on the noir, on cynicism, and go back, to the washing of the feet which is our cultural origin? Perhaps more practical than the licked, encompassing finger. That would come later, after all the feet in the world were clean. Perhaps to wash my own feet first – but those are the only feet which I don’t want to wash. The only feet that are already finished, ready.

 

Okay then. To do it. To go out. To go out with a bowl: warm soapy water. To ask them individually. And a towel, to dry the foot. What good a cold foot in autumn, out in the streets? Warm soapy water, in a nice bucket, and a towel. To open the door now, and go out, towards them, a whole body among other whole bodies, the final puzzle-piece of the Christian world.

 

Okay then.

 

kafka weeding in the garden of electronica

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Memories of fir trees, superimposed on memories of oak trees – under that, I see it now: sparkling water. Without end.

 

When Jim came around, the candles and the worms worked in synchrony, for the first time in the history of my life. And when he left, they continued doing so.

 

But what if he had stayed longer? Would they have continued to work in harmony?

 

There are some things, my old paps used to say, that are better left unasked. But his pap before him said that there are no things that are better left unasked, that every question which occurs to you should at the very same moment be asked.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Then she brings in some biscuits. No one could have anticipated this move. I begin rethinking everything. First I reasses the works of Sigmund Freud, concluding ultimately, though, that my original assessment was right – really interesting, super fucking interesting, but never more than that.

 

Kafka is a different story.

 

I eat a couple. She leaves the tray on the table, in front of the TV. Now she’s in the garden: she plays table tennis all Wednesday.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

I don’t mean that Jim didn’t stay long enough. Nor that he did. I have no perspective on that question. Just as I have no perspective on my blood, on my teeth, on the flaring wilderness of my neurones.

 

As is my opinion about Amy and Mary, neither of whom ever came to stay. Though I did visit both of them extremely frequently.

 

But Lusanne did come to stay, once.

 

Which was interesting and good, at least in the hallway.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Then the huge, unhappy ending – the nerve-endings popping like fireworks, the long and infinite explication of the word grimace, the soul selling ice-creams to itself in the darkness of everything that happened next, or that couldn’t ever have happened.

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some new things not much nowadays but some new things anyway here, now! 

 

Light/Water

 

This time, he thought, I’ll write something that sort of floats on the surface, but still gets wet – but is certainly wet, of course it’s wet, it’s on the surface, but it receives light too. What light there is, that is – but there will be light. I’ll complete the light first, then have it come up out of the water, and then remain there.

 

And he did try to do this but as with other previous pieces the question of the relation between men and women, the question of relationships in general, sexual and otherwise, the entire insane gamut of relationships, somehow, in that underhand it has, made the question of the light and the water sink beneath it.

 

It began, even, with a description of a single breast – that was how the light, according to the narrative, made it seem, that there was just one. Though the man knew there was another.

 

It got worse and worse from this point and could not, he found, be rethematised.

 

He bought a bathtub and filled it with water and put it in his study, where he wrote, and he cut the wall open so more light would fall in and the tub was close enough to him that he could kick it and the light would then be in the moving water and the strange interior contouring of the water would dance to and fro, like gills made of light, or movement, would decorate the otherwise plain walls but still the man in the story seem to stumble upon breasts or memories or breasts or and even when all the characters were clearly asexual there was still some awful sourceless tension by which the descriptions of the water and the light were hindered.

 

She was more interested in music. She could not escape the feeling that, whenever someone spoke, or wrote, or “confessed to living in language”, as she put it, they were being wilfully stupid. He could sometimes hear her through the door, though it was her strategy to play quietly enough that the sound would not pass through a wall. She liked the feeling that all of the sound she was making was contained in the space in which she was – it was an elaboration, she said, of the isolation of a room – or not an elaboration, she said, it was an investigation she said, a questioning, an escape from, she kept going, letting the synonyms unspool – she would stop when the sequence turned back on itself and then she would step over the “dead corpse of language” and return to her violin, or whatever it was, completely refreshed.

 

The violin especially though: it ate away, she said, at language, just as those things in that river enter the opening of the penis and go up into the eye, somehow, and feed of it until holes appear in the vision, one supposes – the sound of the violin might not overthrow language per se but it scratches out holes and one day it might, she hoped, clear out a large enough space that it could rest there.

 

The only thing they both did was swim. Yes – it would have been a serious matter if I had forgotten to mention how much both these individuals enjoyed swimming, and not only in the sense of two isolated bodies in a pool or in the sea itself, close to each other but ultimately divided by the tragedy of human individuality: no, rather, once in the water, the intractable problems of human relations seemed to remain behind, in the changing room, on the beach. 30-40 minutes of existence without problems was granted them, and an immeasurable closeness emerged once everything else had been removed, as though the truth of a body’s existence can only be transmitted successfully in the medium of water.

 

It is perhaps best to leave them as they were yesterday, when the most recent of their swimming days fell. There were no mistakes in the allocation of time, there were no sudden funerals or illnesses in the family requiring their attention. The bodies in the sea – at their best when moving outwards, the tender unification of the horizon, toward which both bodies must of course point, the clothes on the beach like the relics of a civilization utterly transcended, where the camera zooms now, looks over the labels and the sizes given on the labels and the patterns and structure of the thread, and seems now to be burying itself, nuzzling down a sleeve, as one would imagine a rodent might, in a strange, sniffing way, as though returning to its home after a day out hunting, but so cute.

 

To leave them that way, as bodies in a sea, as they would seem, not to your in your vague but nascent understanding, your framing of their lives, but as they would seem to a passing man or woman, in retirement and good health, having firmly established themselves in their coastal life, looking out and seeing the story of youth flapping away out there, but elegantly, sheer direction, the limbs, rising and falling, suddenly gestures belonging to a strange language, with the body alone as its root – a language which had been, thankfully, intended to be meaningless all along.  

 

 

Four stories

 

1.

 

Essentially it begins at the sea. There’s a boy there and he’s quite small. He is being watched by a man: the man does not know why he is watching the boy, he only knows he is watching the boy: the boy is in the same situation relative to the man. The scene is closed off from the rest of the events on the beach by the submergence of the why in the what. There are other people reading on the beach, certainly, but for them, the question of why exists, and keeps them at a safe distance from each other. But here whatever is happening in the seeing and the knowing you are seen, divided between the man and the boy, forecloses that kind of question. Because of its violence, that is. So that story trails off in the direction of the future. It ends in thirty years. One of the characters commits suicide at a date approximately twenty years after the events on the seaside already indicated, and the other, about ten years later still, albeit in extremely different ways. It is astonishing, in fact, that the category of committing suicide could encompass both of the techniques employed.

 

2.

 

The second story involves suicide but not the sea and is set, in fact, in a landlocked country. If any of the characters had a car, they would need to drive six hours to reach the sea, though the smell of the sea has been known to drift a half hour inland at certain times of the year. The story involves a boy of perhaps similar height to the “quite small” boy already mentioned. Thankfully for him there is no man in the story. In fact, quite unlike the previous story, in this story it is not-being-watched-by-a-man which, if an explanation was of any use, might go some way in explaining his later suicide. There is, this boy thought, a great need to sometimes be seen by a woman and a man at the same. There is, this boy thought, a great danger in spending too much time being seen by one. This boy remembers, after a hillside excursion with his mother and two sisters, walking to a local public house and standing in the middle of the local public house and taking down his trousers and his pants. Fourteen years passed between that day and his suicide which is, and he felt it at the time too, a not insignificant period of time.

 

3.

 

The third story involves neither the sea nor suicide. It concerns a boy who, like the boy in the previous story, inhabits a landlocked country, though he lives at a less depressing distance from the sea, and has a row of bottles by his bedside window each of which contains the smell, in an infinite quantity, of one of world’s major oceans. Usually he opens more than one at once and he has developed what can only be described as a music of smell, opening and closing the bottles in complex sequences. Some of his compositions require more than two hands, but he has taught his good friend Ivan a certain competence in the bottles, so the compositions can be heard in all their four-handed glory.

 

4.

 

The primary concern of the fourth story is the direct, and therefore beautiful, intersection of the sea and suicide: that is, drowning. While it is perfectly possible to drown in rivers and lakes, it has always seemed to me to be a bad idea, aesthetically speaking. It is also possible to drown without having planned to: that is just as ugly. The beauty of drowning, once opened up by intention, is proportional to the depth of the water under you. I cannot say why this is beautiful: so it goes with beautiful things generally. At best, you accept they are beautiful and move on, perhaps to another beautiful thing: at worst, the question of why they are beautiful consumes their beauty, and drives you to drug or alcohol abuse in an extreme form. I should admit now that the fourth story is not a story at all, but a description of the beautiful. I don’t know anyone who has drowned, intentionally or otherwise. Most people I know who killed themselves did so with a gun, and the closest they came to water was the generic dampness of autumn, as a tangential background.

 

Dance Classes At The Community Hall

 

Tired of being a character in a novel, you decided to try being a character in a poem.

 

The advantages of this, as you understood them, were as follows:

 

- Poems don’t have characters.

- There is no “night” and “day” in a poem. Rather grey everywhere, which turns blue very suddenly, with each new stanza.

- Your title feels unnecessary and subject to change.

 

You find time to attend dance classes, even.

 

Except: isn’t this exactly what you did back in the novel? Don’t you remember you – the waltz, e.g.?

 

So again, always one to push the boundaries, or at least rub up against them (that eternal itch!) you make a move.

 

Become: a footnote in unpublishable philosophical “manuscript” – the writer dies, and eventually his child has a look.

 

But even here you can still hear the dance.

 

Then, inevitably, you try your hand at doing a bit of writing yourself. Surely you have learned something?

 

It is set quite far underwater. Not too far (that has been done before). So that the light is still quite apparent. Important for novels (one thing you learned): enough illumination so that at least some objects/people can be determined.

 

And then, in the novel, the water starts to drain away. It means that the light gets nearer and nearer. Each chapter, it is a little nearer. The things are clearer and clearer. Then they get very clear. The novel ends: why keep writing when you can see everything?

 

A few more years as a footnote. Hibernation.

 

Now: ready to open the door.

 

 

Advice To My Older And/Or Younger Self

 

You could say it began it with the colour blue. Obviously it would be preferable to say nothing.

 

You could say it began with the colour green. It did: I remember the exact position of the sofa, of the table, when it began – with the colour green.

 

What begins with the colour green does not end with the colour green.

 

The middle could be greyblue: all men over fifty in stories have greyblue eyes. Why not?

 

He has a small Labrador puppy but really that flat isn’t big enough to accommodate it.

 

The line scrawled down the middle might signify a child. A child signifies an interruption.

 

The little alligator is smiling. Advanced story writers should not pursue that avenue unless

 

1. It literally happened / is happening

2. All other options have been exhausted.

 

The last third is a meeting of at least three of the colours.

 

Think of the short story as a scorpion, and yourself as the colour green – as previously described. This applies as much to amateurs as it does to children; as much to children as it does to the strange, continuous present which you feel under your feet when you take off your shoes.

 

Where are your shoes?

 

If you must use words from another language, at least put in a stone/stones for them to be found under.

 

If the reader doesn’t think, “this is curling,” start again, further behind yourself.

 

The text should sound nice. Some interesting words should be used.

 

Love of the reader’s boredom is central. Green or red helps with this: a rose in a field, quite far from the house where everything kicks off.

 

A somewhat elevated position.

 

As though language were the stick of a blind man: sometimes, in rage, hit the characters in the face with it.

 

The beginning of the story and the end of the story must make love at some point.

 

The painting slips down occasionally. Fear and misgivings.

 

Toy guns in the basement, shivering. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kafka weeding in the garden of electronica

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Memories of fir trees, superimposed on memories of oak trees – under that, I see it now: sparkling water. Without end.

 

When Jim came around, the candles and the worms worked in synchrony, for the first time in the history of my life. And when he left, they continued doing so.

 

But what if he had stayed longer? Would they have continued to work in harmony?

 

There are some things, my old paps used to say, that are better left unasked. But his pap before him said that there are no things that are better left unasked, that every question which occurs to you should at the very same moment be asked.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Then she brings in some biscuits. No one could have anticipated this move. I begin rethinking everything. First I reasses the works of Sigmund Freud, concluding ultimately, though, that my original assessment was right – really interesting, super fucking interesting, but never more than that.

 

Kafka is a different story.

 

I eat a couple. She leaves the tray on the table, in front of the TV. Now she’s in the garden: she plays table tennis all Wednesday.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

I don’t mean that Jim didn’t stay long enough. Nor that he did. I have no perspective on that question. Just as I have no perspective on my blood, on my teeth, on the flaring wilderness of my neurones.

 

As is my opinion about Amy and Mary, neither of whom ever came to stay. Though I did visit both of them extremely frequently.

 

But Lusanne did come to stay, once.

 

Which was interesting and good, at least in the hallway.

 

Soft electric music. Rain. The feeling that I will never do anything ever again.

 

Then the huge, unhappy ending – the nerve-endings popping like fireworks, the long and infinite explication of the word grimace, the soul selling ice-creams to itself in the darkness of everything that happened next, or that couldn’t ever have happened.

I enjoyed these in particular 

 

I find it fascinating that I can enjoy your compositions so much when I am also sometimes incredibly put off by your temporary posting habits, like using "ye" all the time which I hear in my head something like this 

;)~

 

fully acknowledge that you can post how you want and mainly just fascinated by my own brain's aversion to what I assume is your quirky spelling of "yeah" and I think you can take it!! Hugh don't ever change

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I enjoyed these in particular 

 

I find it fascinating that I can enjoy your compositions so much when I am also sometimes incredibly put off by your temporary posting habits, like using "ye" all the time which I hear in my head something like this 

;)~

 

fully acknowledge that you can post how you want and mainly just fascinated by my own brain's aversion to what I assume is your quirky spelling of "yeah" and I think you can take it!! Hugh don't ever change

 

heh - thanks a lot for reading! i wonder where i picked up ye. i have no idea. i think "yeh" looks somehow ugly, or too much like yahweh, or is too close to be an "actual spelling" but without being (like why bother with the h if you aren't going to include the trad. a?) and yeah is just too long for the sound. maybe also because i got used to saying the czech jo (phonetically yo) which is incredibly short and when i saw ye i really say it so short not at all like YE-AH which is again just like yahweh

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also you'd be surprised how many people who went to my high school drowned :icon_cry: two from my class and one younger

 

One of them id seen once in a bar within a year or so of this and played poker with him

APPLING, Ga. — Authorities identified a man who drowned at an east Georgia lake as 26-year-old Navy officer Billy Sims Jr.

 

Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician Daniel Farnsworth said the Atlanta native had been stationed at Fort Gordon's Navy Information Operations Command as an ensign since September.

 

The Augusta Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/12fxImO) that Sims was swimming with five friends at the Augusta Sailing Club near West Dam on Thurmond Lake when he went under the water Sunday evening.

 

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said the group tried to reach a buoy about 50 yards from the roped-off swimming area at West Dam. All five friends made it to the buoy and returned, but Sims went under and didn't surface.

 

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drowning-on-alcohol must be one of the biggest killer of young. the only person from my school who died died from drowning in the thames while drunk and I think two people at university died from drowning in the river while drunk.

 

loads of ppl died this summer drowning in the uk, maybe as many as 20, it's weird

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currently my fave of my things


 


He was an old man, as all people in stories secretly are, moving without the frank agility of a body actually here, a body caressed by the here and the now, the soft encouragement of the elements, the puddle you hopped over when you were truly and undeniably young. Youth! Expressed correctly isolate and with exclamation. He was an old man, then, from necessity if nothing else, and the wind came into his room because there was a gap between the window and the frame. He did not remember when the gap came to be for it was not always there, an extra centimetre or two of space which perhaps had been wandering the streets and found here a slot in which to conceal itself, though without total success. But with such gaps, he was old enough to know, it is a not a question of origin or cause but of response.


 


He was called John, as all people in stories secretly are, lacking distinction, the density and reciprocal shadow, the presence of a person actually here. Or Jonah, to some of his friends, the ones attentive to the stories and laws of the good book, who considered John as inappropriate as Jonah was appropriate, who considered it even by their standards too disjunctive to be reminded, in saying on the phone, Is that you John, that in the beginning the word was with god and the word was god, because if it was true that word was with god it would not be one uttered by John, not as they knew him. It was far less disjunctive regarding John to think of a man's body in the belly of a whale and the digestive juices there which would no doubt dissolve his skin over time. In fact this seemed remarkably fitting and not because Jonah was known for his close affinity with whales, for adventurous whale watching trips or engaged in the slaughter of whales in the South Pacific but because his skin looked somewhat dissolved and he generally had the expression of someone trapped in a place of great and strange horror.


 


He had one friend though, who still called him John despite this, and despite knowing much of the good book by heart, the first and second part, because he liked John, because he regretted the slow catastrophe of his skin, which to speak truly seemed rather like he was turning into a whale than being digested by one, hardening rather softening. He even made a point of saying the word John more than was necessary, and when in fact, was it necessary? Their meetings were not chance urban encounters in which one might call out across a crowded street, John, their meetings were arranged in advance, and they both lived alone, there was no need, in fact, to say down the phone, John is that you, unless you were sensitive, as David was, to another secret necessity, the necessity of being sometimes addressed by the name you were given at birth, because of others are failing to do so.


 


So feeling the wind, John rose. Not to close the window for the one or two centimetre gap between the window and its frame was resolute, he realised that immediately, but to challenge the cold by activity, that is, by walking around, which is the foundation, he thought as he began to move, of all human activity. He would be warmer if he could convince himself that it was day, time of light and sun. He walked into the kitchen. It is not night if you are pouring your milk into your coffee, old men do not drink coffee at night, they don't have an exam in the morning on the history and culture and science and stupidity of the Ottoman Empire, on the symbology of disappearance or the future or nonfuture or side-ways future or backwards future or impossible future or left or right or already completed future of Europe or America or Africa. No one asks them the name of a certain rock during their short passage from the bedroom to the kitchen, unless they have children or grandchildren and even then it is unlikely and John, as must be obvious, had no such children, not in the house and not at the end of a telephone line, who might inquire as to a certain rock but even then if they did so it would be out of kindness rather than curiosity and John would know it was so.


 


So John reached the kitchen without trouble, his false invigoration his only weapon against the cold. It was winter, that much was obvious. The news had not mentioned this, concerned as it was with the easily winter-surpassing tragedies spread so unevenly across the surface of the world, itself quite even, really, in comparison. He did not read the news much in winter though, the cold seemed news enough to him and the news would be the same as the cold, that sensation, somewhere between tedium and suffering which slowly lines your skin the more your read or the longer you stand there and so he was moving briskly around and reading nothing, though he had the radio on half the time, vague classical music and then off, silence. Silence, he thought, was the implied destination of classical music, but it never arrived there, he had to push it there himself, he thought, the kind of incredibly useless thought which an old man might have in winter, he thought, with no child to inquire about a rock. A thought consoling by its very uselessness.


 


So after some minutes John had poured the milk into the coffee which is to say that he had already chosen the cup and emptied the freeze-dried coffee into it and heated and poured the water. He drank it, or began to drink it. It was too cold, because he had put in too much milk, because he had looked a bird while pouring the milk, a wild bird, through the window, not trained to tell him, John, the milk, the milk, and the coffee was bad itself, freeze-dried as mentioned. He thought he could taste the word Jonah in his mouth, the taste of the sound of failure.


 


The good news was David, the one who called him John, and whom he called David, would be coming around in the afternoon. David did not like being called Dave or D or Davy as he had been called at certain times during his life. David seemed a better name to die with, even if Dave or D or Davy might have been a better name to live with. Dave and D and Davy were names without proper foundation, names which worked well at parties, they were discofriendly names, but in so being were names which, alone on a hill at 70 or 80 or worse, and without partner or employment, behind on rent, and quite hungry, offered no support.


 


And when they were together, one called John and the other called David, they were both happily conscious that between their names perhaps every imaginable Christian doctrine could be elaborated. Invisible theologies occupied, or might as well have, the chair at the end of the table that they did not occupy. In the beginning was the word and the word was your name and it was written on your birth certificate and don't forget that if you want to survive the winter with a gap between your window and your wall in your 78th year. Hi John. David, David, Hi.


 


The sexual attraction was strong but not consummated and most likely not to be consummated. It was the kind of sexual attraction which is really much better in its unconsumated form, containing in it a promise which because it is not made cannot be broken, or to put it less dramatically, cannot prove itself to have been wrong from the beginning. They allowed, that is, their sexual attraction to diffuse into their surroundings and rather than giving themselves over to the undeniably exciting or at least quite shocking togetherness of sex in practice, they sat in their chairs and watched and listened as their lives slowly became less distinguishable, like two old photographs, softening around the edges such that one can imagine they were once fused together. Or rather, more childishly and perhaps therefore more accurately, their sexual energy was like a balloon which you allow to leave your hand but which only floats up as far as the ceiling, where it stays, often for a very long time, protected from the uncertainties of practical life but nonetheless present and sometimes seeming, at least a little, like a guiding light, especially if the balloon is orange or yellow.


 


So David came around and John told him about the bird he had seen and how uninterested he had been in the bird, really truly completely unconcerned, it might as well, he said, have been a piece of cardboard on the other side of the world, or on the other side of the universe, though that, David interrupted, would have been interesting beyond words, how it could have got there above all, but also, from a technical perspective, it would be interesting to examine the condition of the cardboard, much could be learned from that, though on the other hand if such a piece of cardboard did exist, how unlikely, isn't it so, that we would ever know about it! As likely, John said, that it would come to know about us. In a similar manner – saying things they did not want much to say so that things they did not know they wanted to say could be said as a result – the conversation continued for a few hours, with John sometimes getting more coffee and pouring the milk now with far greater accomplishment, the gravity of the occasion of David being in his house, sufficient to still any tremor or distraction in his hand and he felt, anyway, no need to stare hopelessly out of the window as he had in the morning. As though, he would have thought if not fully engaged in conversation with his friend, to show winter what he was made of, that he was not afraid, for if winter has an eye into which we can stare and say that we are not afraid it is a frosty window.


 


During their conversation, as was quite usual, and as both of them had become, after their long lives, resigned to, time continued on its path, towards death, yes, but also towards spring. It darkened. It came to pass then that David stood up and said he should be going though his standing had already made this plain since neither David nor John had learned how to urinate in the house of the other. Perhaps both were afraid that even urination, a minimal sexual activity if ever there was one, would be sufficient, the unzipping and the touching of the penis, to lead somewhere, the one urinating would think of the one not urinating, and imagine, not absurdly, that left alone to his coffee in the winter cold he would either look out of the window and be distracted by a bird there, or, in the absence of a bird, feel his thoughts turn irrecoverably towards his friend in his bathroom, down the side of his friend's face, down his friend's shoulder and down his friend's arm and down his friends fingers and then, well then it would be too late, something would change, one would move in with the other and though it might possibly be glorious, it was a risk neither of them, at this late stage, was prepared to take. Their relationship as it currently stood would soften death significantly, and even if the dawn of sexual love between them would annihilate death completely, this softening, they both knew, at this late stage, was too valuable to risk.


 


So either because it was dark or because he needed to go home and relieve himself, or more likely, if that was the case, relieve himself in the snow a few metres down the road, quite remarkable that it is still this yellow after all this time, David left John's house at something like six in the evening. John didn't do much between six and eight, but a little after eight, he went to bed and masturbated twice before falling asleep, one hand, his dominant hand most likely, loosely holding the base of his penis. At some point in the night, he dreamt he was on a boat somewhere near Israel and the decision had been made to throw him, namely, Jonah, into the water. Then he was in the water. It felt strange – he had not been in water before in a dream, in fact you would not know from his dreams that water existed at all, not even in bottles or glasses. Then, following the story to the letter, a whale found and swallowed him and everything went as dark as though he were not dreaming, but merely lying down in a dark room. Then everything went very light and he could see teeth which looked like human teeth because it is not so easy to dream a Biblical story with anatomical accuracy. Through the mouth he could see an island and David was standing on the island. The whale extended its tongue, suddenly very red carpet-like, and he slid down towards David, the tongue seemed made for this very purpose, and he said, Hi David, but he woke up before, as he was expecting, David could say, Hi John, or anything else that he might have been waiting to say.


 


 


 

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ah ye maybe its a bit wank that difference, john is like associated with the line from the new testament in the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god and jonah is associated with the old testament and story of jonah and the whale where jonah refuses to do god's work for him and there is a guy called john but he acts like he shoud be called jonah cos i dunno, it would be hard to act in accordance with john 1.1. which is that bit from the new testament, word was god / with god, but ye i hope it doesn't come across as wilfully obscure, i just like the bible a whole lot

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i think this one is pretty obvously dumb and bad but i also see myself it in more than anything else i wrote because i am like really this awful. i have no idea what the last two adjectives should be, here open and ambiguous but i tried putting loads in, consoling and unconsoling, relentless and unforgetable, relenting and forgettable, lucid and terrifying, dunno, it seemed to make literally no difference to the piece itself, i suppose all pieces much have certain places in them where really there could be any word, like its justa  blindspot, just how in a landscape it doesn't matter what is behind a hedge if you can't see it and the text itself represents the vantage point frmo which it is seen and in so doing must obscure parts of itself, not obscure in that they aren't there, but obscure in that they really dont mean anything at al, and somehow ther is no way to make the adjectives describing the wifes eye's have meaning, or maybe that is just me being a terrible terrible person, really not sure 

 

 

The Tourist

He had some difficulties, they said, adjusting. He didn’t like having the wind in his hair, they said, this is the worst place to not like having the wind in your hair. We’ve no protection from the wind up here, they said, it blows all the time, in your face, in your eyes. He was sitting duck, they said. We don’t know why he came here. He looked like a happy sort of man, though. An armchair sort of happy sort of man, a married man, or a man waiting to be married, and sit in an armchair, and look at his wife, across the table, her looking at him too. We can’t control the wind, they said. It’s not ours to control. Not even God controls the wind, they said, though often, as we say, he tries, we hear his efforts, that’s the sound the wind makes, God’s tireless straining against it, it was no different when he came up here. The wind blew in his hair, and all over his face, continuously. And he didn’t understand the language. He sounded like a machine when he spoke, a very old machine, a useless machine, one you keep because the costs of disposal are intimidatingly high, they said, for reasons that frankly we don’t understand. He told us one joke, though, they said, a real cracker in fact, the kind that digs a hole in the fabric of things, of our world as much as any, digs right down and then settles and then blows and you open your eyes and its different, though no funnier – the funniness is used up, you see, in the telling, they said, but despite that, and we always welcome humour, he just didn’t belong here. Perhaps a chair wouldn’t hold him, or a wife. Perhaps unbelonging was his way, and he came for that, and if that is the case, they said, then it worked, walking around all the time like that, up at all the hours, the wind raging all over his face. He knew how to tell a joke though, like I said, they said, it wasn’t just the content of the joke but the delivery, as though he had been waiting since the day he was born to tell it. He told it with his whole being contracted, he didn’t have much being in him, to be fair, but you could tell, there was a real act of concentration going on. No one could have doubted that, they said. It was fierce. It made you want to step outside, go elsewhere, be far from where you were. I, he started off, I’m the joke. I’m the real joke here, he said, he looked you in the eye all the while, for the world as if it wasn’t an eye he was looking at but death itself but he did it funny-like. Not the easiest thing in the world to explain but what joke is? And he went on, too, it was a long joke, I can’t tell you all of it, but it ended the same way, I’m the joke, with the same line exactly, as though no joke had been told, no time had passed within which the joke could have been told. It had quite an effect on us. In terms of sadness, mostly. The joke left a trial of destruction behind it, to tell the truth, and we walk around now with a sense of gap somewhere. In us, that is, and in things, as though a tree might just open up one day and you’d fall right in, there wouldn’t be anything there, and there wouldn’t be anything in you either, and there wouldn’t be anything with which to fill what wasn’t there. A look that comes over us sometimes, all of us at once, that look which he brought here, and gave to us, for all the world as if he had nothing else to give, as if it was his only possession, the damned fool, and I dread to think what his father and his mother were like, really, nothing to give but that joke and the long trail of sadness which I imagine it must leave in all the places he goes. But I’m quite sure he’d be happy as a lark if he’d just admit it, sit down on the chair which I’m sure, they said, is waiting for him, and look across the table, into his wife’s open and ambiguous eyes. 

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i think this one is better but probably unnecessarily obscure

 

Kant 

 

Between bodies of water, spread out over the land, you find people. It is true that some of them are very boring, and even the least boring are sometimes boring. But that is the nature of things, and as you grow up, as you hit seven, eight, you start to understand: time passes. The boring become interesting and the interesting become less interesting, but then more interesting again, and if you learn patience, if you stand next to them long enough, the change happens. The boring plunges deep into the interesting and comes out cleansed, laughing and beautiful. The trick is not to read Kant too early. Not to swim much too early. To save yourself for the wonderful day – you are fifty or sixty – when you swim in a way you did not swim before and know, during the swim, that there is an – admittedly quite obscure – text by Kant, a peripheral text, on the shore, not too sandy or old to be read, waiting for you, next to your towel. Your consciousness of it now means that it will not get wet when you dry yourself and you will be pleased by the dry, concreteness of the pages. It is sunny too, on this day – perhaps your birthday, even, fifty-two, fifty-three. That much, and much else, remains very unclear. Which is good.

 

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there was a competition about writing about austria, a competition without a prize which i didn't win twice firstly

 

 

 

 

 

Vienna
 
It’s entirely constructed of rectangles, of quite even sizes, there are no triangles or circles,
 
either I was in a strange mood when I walked around Vienna or it was, a mood to be in
 
control, in the way a rectangle seems more in control of itself than a circle or a triangle,
 
despite, I’m sure, the actual way geometry works. I went there to get away from the lack of
 
historical buildings (when I refer to history I refer to human time up to 1870) which I often
 
experienced as unnavigable loss. One wants space to be mixed with time, space on its own is
 
terrifying, I thought, or might have done, sitting, otherwise very happily, on the floor of my
 
small, quite post-historical enough thank you room at the top of somewhere in Petržalka.
 
Historical but gestureless, these rectangular buildings, prophesying self-sufficiency across
 
parks to each other, they did not tend upwards like buildings do in Italy, aspiring to the
 
condition of air, they were happy to be rectangles, the enjoyed their connection to mud, just
 
as I do, their ambitions were elsewhere. There is, I felt, a great, terrible peace in this, which
 
has something to do, probably, with mountains, but Italy has mountains too, possibly even
 
more than Austria, both have a fair number. It has to do then, with Austrian mountains.
 
The people, of course, were speaking German: in the east neighbouring countries they cut the
 
sausage up, here the sausages are whole and it is the language that is put to the knife, you
 
hear the fall and rise of the blade in nearly every word, as though to admit, yes, language is
 
totally fucked up, it’s continuously fucking itself up, it doesn’t even need us to help it, contra
 
The Piano Teacher, we just have to open our mouths, though of course this is absurd, it was
 
only by not understanding what the words meant that I could understand them to be
 
declaring, continuously, the infinite fuckedupness of language, the speakers most likely were
 
actually just referring, transparently enough, to the things they believed themselves to be
 
referring to, tables, chairs, you know the story. But one must take into account the outside as
 
well as the inside.
 
Or perhaps, German: I think of a mysterious incident in my life in which a washing machine
 
and a dishwasher were misunderstood to the point of confusion, a washing machine was
 
filled to completion with forks and knives and spoons, it was turned on, the sounds began, I
 
never found out if it was a joke. The metallic quality which accompanies everything
 
accidental? The metaphor is not the important thing here, at least not to me. It wasn’t just the
 
rectangularity of the buildings but also the sonic qualities of German that made Vienna a
 
good place to escape briefly (to escape anything for a long time is terrible) the much softer
 
tragedy which characterises languages of the Slavic family, a washing machine heard over a
 
great distance, though perhaps as one listens there is a spoon in one’s pocket around which
 
one’s hand closes, warmly, but the spoon is cold.
 
The best thing, of course, was to stop half way (I used to walk there from Petržalka) on the
 
triple border, Austria / Hungary / Slovakia, there was a small stone there, like a weight on a
 
draft of a book, to stop the languages flying away, flapping upwards with their powerful,
 
manifold pages, burning up as the air warmed, as they would do if they uninhibited, if they
 
could abide as they surely want to, outside of the human mouth. But alas. I would stand there
 
for long time, with my rucksack on, less and less conscious of its weight, of anything’s
 
weight, instead just the fierce lightness of the three languages saying hello to each other
 
inside me (I knew, at least, even then how to say hello in each of them). It was very territorial
 
of me, in a way, echoing the violence of geography so carefully, but one must be territorial at
 
times, one must remind oneself of the mud.
 
In short, then, I have absolutely no idea what I think about Vienna, far less what I think about
 
Austria in general, I have absolutely no idea what I think about the 4-5 hours I spent in
 
Vienna, I can only suggest, and I don’t believe it at all, that perhaps that is the secret of
 
writing, to have absolutely no idea what you think, before, during and after, the act of
 
writing, but definitely not, and it is something else, of that I am sure, not to think anything.
 
 
 
mostly later this way of not wining the competition without the prize about austria
 

 

 

The Task of The Translator
 
 
The train is travelling east and I ready myself to look in through the window, there are many windows
 
but he always travels in the same seat, he always sees here me (we see each other), I always stand at
 
the same distance facing the same direction, in patterns only can one find and be able to recognise
 
love, not only find, not only be able to recognise. So much for patterns.
 
I am living here, a field somewhere, a place that he occasionally passes, uncoincidentally, I should
 
say, it makes me feel (that’s why I do it) like a person at the far edge of an Italian painting, small and
 
odd yet who is secretly, via a series of interconnected allegorical gestures, sparking like signal fires
 
across the canvas, the subject.
 
I can’t picture him in a car, thank God, how much more difficult would that be, he might take a
 
different route if the traffic was up, he might take another route to avoid the route on which I had
 
settled, but I’m safe from that, I’m sure, for all his radical praise of the menial in his early works it’s
 
obvious from the first word that he finds himself excluded from it completely, that’s why he praises it,
 
those deep in the menial don’t praise it all, not because they hate it, but when they’re not doing it
 
they’d rather talk about something else, that’s my impression, anyway, and furthermore, there is an
 
infinite passivity in his writing, undeniably, as though he were sitting inside the train of language,
 
rather than trying to drive it to some particular location, some beauty spot he might wish to visit, a
 
sense of stepping aside to allow language to charge on through, like one of the bulls, which you can
 
see near the beginning of Thomas Bernhard, Ein Widerspruch, ein film von Krista Fleischmanm, in
 
the beginning, just moments earlier, he is sitting on a train, train and bull, you get my point, it’s very
 
beautiful, I begged the YouTube community for English subtitles for some time, but nothing came of
 
it, why don’t you do it yourself, they said, arsepipe, we’ve got better things to do, what, I said, we
 
won’t tell you, they replied.
 
George Steiner said, in his introduction to Correction, that most of the glory was in the German itself,
 
sealed away from me forever, therefore, by the a’s, the b’s, the c’s, the d’s, the e’s, the f’s, and so on,
 
but open, like a book, of course, to George himself, well, I thought, Mr Steiner, how can you know
 
that, wouldn’t you need to not know German first, to compare, that’s what happens, of course, when
 
you learn a language, you stop being able to read the translations, at least not properly, which is to
 
say, against the backdrop, the wilderness, of your own ignorance, which is not so bad, is it, isn’t that
 
why Jesus went into the desert, to feel the empty places inside him wail aloud, not yet filled, not yet
 
ground into dust by the arrivals and evasions of the major European languages, what empty space is
 
there left inside you, Mr Steiner, that can wail itself crazy in the wilds of the desert, like this, I said,
 
pointing to myself, to my head, like this.
 
Because isn’t that what this is all about, writing – words, driving themselves madly in the direction of
 
translatability, which is to say, meaning shed of culture, God’s face over a hill, one face, one hill, one
 
over, the shy, impossible promise of singularity latent in everything, if you just stare at it enough, if
 
you just grind up against it enough, it gives over, it admits, I am one, it says, doesn’t it, George, does
 
it? Isn’t that where he was heading, George, but for all you folks, telling him, telling us, Oh, it’s better
 
in the German, trying to hold back the flaring light with your translinguistic hands, to tame it back
 
down to nativity, to put the dog back in the box? Me, no, I’m out here, between stations, living alone
 
in a tent full of baked beans, I have a single spoon too, I know the face-in- the-window behind the
 
words, I know when the train comes and when it goes, I know the seat he prefers.
 
And then one day I see the train begin to slow, oh my god, I think, oh my god, I start to run, it’s
 
slowing, I run towards the window, I look in and he looks out, I see him to start to mouth a word,
 
Thomas Bernhard, the word, though more like the tongue really, the tongue squashed like a wound on
 
the glass, meaning something, no doubt, the train completely still, I put my mouth to the window, the
 
other window, the same window, I get it, I understand, I mouth a word back, the two tongues lolling
 
inconsequentially next to each other, perhaps two words with one meaning, perhaps two words with
 
two meanings, or perhaps just two tongues, and oh my god, Mr Steiner, how much better not to
 
know?

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I sort of read 'the established outsider: thomas bernhard' by dagmarsomething since ive never heard/read of bernhard before and it says he had a psychological wound you know, that he expressed discontent of german/austrian youth on elemental not rational terms, i think. I like the poem thing it's interesting.

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some more lil thangs, i've been completely unable to use full stops so 

 

 

Red

 

The colour ran off her arm.

 

One thing which might be learned from this is that she, a woman, might have, somewhere and at some moment, been handling, in some capacity, some paint, the possibility, I mean, is opened, that she is a painter, or a painter-decorator, she has finished painting and is washing the paint from her arm, the colour ran off her arm, or perhaps she is injured, the colour being then of blood, and that she is washing her arm, after a suicide attempt of some sort perhaps, we’ve all been there, you want to die, we’re all there most of the time though we don’t always act on it, that would be absurd, what kind of a world would that be, not deserving of the name, but we all do, a bit, want to die, or to see if we really do or not, by making an initial incision, because we think we might, we have our suspicious, sitting in our chairs like this, like I am or might be now, you never know, which is part of the fun, part of us that tells us that yes, we think we want to die, but we aren’t serious, because look how fun this is, this writing about how one might be in a chair, think of the reader, how little they know, how they would have to guess, make an evidence-based judgement, what fun, who could really want to die in such a world, and world it would be, were it so, and it is, sometimes, but let’s not get distracted, the goal was to establish some interpretative pathways away from, and back towards, the given sentence, the colour ran off her arm, although of course this is already nothing more than a contribution to the growing sum of earthly distractions, the only currency of true value, the only thing between us and the inviolable certitude that really, when we get down it, when we clear our heads of our plans to suddenly take up farming in some place we don’t know the name of, etc., we start to think of it, the initial incision, much better to praise God that you have a plan to follow and follow it to its terminus, as we typically do, we put our hoe in our pocket and off we walk, by this means we keep ourselves from our knives, with which would surely be getting busy if we stayed at home, bereft of plan, in our hurry we left the knife quite at home, we can think of it, we can always think of it, but we don’t have access to it, only to our hoe in our pocket, we haven’t yet reached the point of attempting suicide with such an instrument, you need a knife on a farm of course but not on the freshly imagined farm towards which we walk, it barely exists in fact, but will enable us nonetheless when we arrive there to be at one with nature, the less tools and instruments the better, in fact, for this becoming-one, not that we would cease to be ourselves, disappearing wholly, answering to the name nature answers to which is to say, not a name, not answering, or answering only to the name of a certain leaf falling at a certain time in a certain place and that only, leave me alone until you are that leaf, then you can come a-knocking and I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, objection-wise, I would accept your invitation graciously, join me and my hoe, I would say, looking down at the grass, were any of this to happen, though of course we’re not quite at that level yet, the level of fully actualised distractions, we’re still playing around in the sandpit of the present, writing, though you know as well if not better than I do, that’s the thing about writing, it ceases to be obvious to the one writing that they are writing, while to the one not writing, while the one reading is more and more aware, as they go on, of the processual presence behind the words, while I, that is, engage in my own personal studies of forgetfulness, you involve yourself in remembering, I can certainly remember doing that, developing little techniques of memory which would help to me keep a hold on the characters, the plot, so that I might properly get lost in the book, as they say, everything outside the book not sufficing to get lost in, the clouds for example, they just look blankly down at us, no presence to speak of, anyway, back to the initial sentence, I can’t go on writing about nothing for long, I lack the skill and maturity, to go on without turning back, so as to turn forward again, to the seed, the colour ran off her arm, so it’s a woman, that’s what the her is telling us, although it could be an animal, one of those about which we typically, for whatever reason, feel the need to resort to gender pronouns, a dog, a cat, a female dog with colour on it, not impossible, a couple decide to paint their house before their little baby arrives therein and the dog which they had purchased so as to delay until now this moment of imminent parenthood attempts to scratch some inaccessible part of itself against the just painted wall, so now the paint is on the dog, the symbol of the desire to welcome to the child into the world and the symbol of the fear of welcoming the child in the world united suddenly in this painted dog, which perhaps walks out into the rain, and stands there, looking about itself, and the couple look at it, stunned somehow, looking at the colour running off her fur in the rain, all of them together baffled somehow, a moment of symbolic intensity, the strands connecting, the colour rushing now towards the drain indicating certain things about their past life, drunkenness, drug abuse, sexual excess, which they anticipate missing, and all the other sources of young adult fun, crossing roads again and again backwards and forwards with your eyes closed and so on, that’s all draining away, they can’t turn away from it, the dog, now clean, plays in the rain, and then he could put his hand on her stomach and a car or even train could hit the dog, wham, what does that mean, although typically the limbs of a dog are not referred to as arms, so the narrative does not follow from the lonely original sentence which I took, for personal reasons no doubt, to be my beginning, the place from which I set off, on my long, awful journey back to it, that’s what it means, of course, when a writer (someone who writes) offsets a single sentence at the beginning of something, it singles out a place to be returned to, it’s the territorial piss of the pen, you’ll see me again in these parts, you just need to hang around in the white space and above and below me, here the themes will yield their rewards, give it time, just a little time, I’ll be back, Godspeed, the colour ran off her arm, what next you’re thinking, so am I, perhaps she was cooking, running her hand under the tap, I’m waiting behind her to wipe the colour off my hand too, happiness, we were cooking together, it happens, a cake, for our best friend, or for ourselves, or for our wedding anniversary, for our wedding we had a blue cake and we’ll have a blue cake again goddamn it, dutiful as ever to the strange wiles of the past we went to the shop and purchased the dye no we didn’t we already had it, we’re forty or so, the same old bottle we’ve been using it all these years, amazing isn’t it, though we’re too intimate to say such tedious things, to describe anything as amazing, the word amazing underwrites our very being thank you very much, we would only muddy it by dragging it out into the open, worldly space between us, it has a life of its own, we don’t disturb it, but amazing isn’t it, we wouldn’t say, the silence peaking in brilliance at that very moment, how the dye keeps, as blue as it ever was, will be, not necessary to say, silence still in peak, not one of those short, youthful peaks, that dissipate as soon as they arrive, into extreme tension, but a long, pure, adult silence, still married and after so much, as blue as it ever was, the colour ran off her arm, or rather, he was thinking it would, run off blue, as he came back into the room, he had gone into another room, not sure why, it happens with married couples, you drift, sometimes the room is suddenly not the right size or shape for the two of you to stand there together, another room needs to be introduced, for balance, so he came back from that other room, and saw her over by the sink, cognisant of the blue dye on his own arm, the colour he was expecting to see, but perhaps it wasn’t, it isn’t, it’s red, quite red, as before, quite a lot of it, absolutely shameless, isn’t it, for her to do it now, with all the symbolic valances in place, what violence, concentrating the entire symbolic system into this terrible, suddenly red point, that’s what he’s no doubt referring to when he begins the story with those words, cut away from the rest, just waiting to be returned to, again and again, both in his mind and out, the colour ran off her arm. 

 

 

The Lock

 

The truth is I was sitting down somewhere when it happened, sitting down somewhere like any old person, I’d looked up, I’d seen the sky, I’d seen the trees against the sky, that was how my look went up, on the line of the trees, then the sky, it was obvious something was going to happen, what though, we thought, looking at each other, I say we thought, I don’t know what she thought, that’s the joy of it, love, not knowing, the slow descent into not knowing, but it’s quite specific things that you find pleasure in not knowing, proximate, invisible things, you’re outlook regarding the sky remains the same, I couldn’t sit for the rest of my life under a sky so obnoxiously ominous I tried to focus on the things I didn’t know that I also didn’t want to know, such as what she was thinking, what she ever thinks, it’s not just a question of not knowing, but question of not being able to know, the option is never open, which gives the whole thing an appearance of great clarity, people can answer the question what are you thinking when you ask them, but if you hadn’t asked them, they’d have thought something else, in that moment, and when I ask them what they’re thinking all I want to know is what they would have thought if I hadn’t asked, hadn’t interrupted, but enough about who I am, there we were, a few years ago it seems, the sky, as I said, brooding, like a teenager not wanting to be called by the name its parents had given it, wanting to wriggle free, it seemed, of the ontological commitments entailed in being sky, to be something wholly other, it had turned purple which is normal enough at sunset but it was the middle of the day, it was purple with a blue heart, it was falling out of itself or into itself, it was the climax of global warming perhaps or God blinking, which of those, I thought, is she more likely to be thinking, the climax of global warming or God blinking, I’d put down both at about 100:1, I know her quite well, better than anyone else at least, she arrives at cognition through non-cognition, erasure, she thinks about what I might be thinking and then rules it out and sees what it left which is a dangerous move, I’ve told her as much, since the way I think is agglutinative, to think all possible things in a row and then hold them at arm’s length, but hold them, she shatters them, other couples throw pieces of crockery at the walls, usually something Italian, it drips down walls better, redder, it’s like opera, we do the same with thoughts, or she does, I’m more of the creative type, which is to say uninterested in truth, she is interested in truth, which means in practice performing the slow erasure of everything I find it possible to think, and there we were, two of us in total, surprising really, you would think people would seek company if the sky turned blue at noon but it turns out that most people decide to stay indoors, away from the sky, we on the other hand hadn’t yet decided to do anything, the moment was locked at both exits by our diverse gazes, like the staring game but with the focus off stage somehow, staring with consciousness rather than eyes, though I know that the distinction is not always so clear, but it was then, I promise, there was some seal on the moment, either the rising force of love between us or the purple blue noon sky, something has to give, I thought, it’s dangerous out here, it might be the end of the world, I pictured her thinking that and erasing the thought, I don’t know how she does it, erases thoughts, with me they just build up and up and up, you’ve probably gathered as much, if only we could find the middle between us and just stay there forever, choosing the good thoughts and letting go of the bad, a bodiless but highly moral collective innerness, safe from the wiles of the then blue sky and the potential intrusions of the manifold people waiting for whatever was going to happen, because something is going to happen, I thought, in their houses, unless that’s it, that’s what’s going to happen, the natural laws are going to slide to one side, shift to accommodate the new middle space, we’ll get sucked up there, I thought, into the centre, and be added together and divided by two and sprinkled down like rain, or ash, the only true form of union occurs after death, shared burial spots, or ash in a shared container, not the ash of my body at the base and the ash of hers at the top but the two ashes stirred together, by a kind, understanding son or daughter, unless that’s the answer, a son or a daughter, a living mixture of the impossible between, running and jumping around, sometimes more me, sometimes more her, but sometimes, surely, a magical corporealized balance, standing there, just behind us, turn around, look into its eyes and the lock starts to break. 

 

A Brief Adventure

 

You are the word perhaps if you are anything and you are something and that’s what it is, I just have to start writing and you climb in, on either side of everything that word as though it were 1990 I had pulled up outside your house I was American the house was American the world was American, America still held to it a trace of the imaginable anyway, I pulled up I could drive I could be I was I pressed the horn you came out squeezed through the door in your huge infinite costume, the word perhaps, there were four of you you sat in every seat of my car I had a car I had you I had everything except I didn’t because that was the truth, and I knew it, you were the truth, the word perhaps without accompaniment, what could I say to calm it down to alter it I had to crash there were no trees no rocks no cliff faces no other car an infinite amount of petrol and of desert and driving around, the word perhaps in all seats except mine I didn’t feel so good I’ll be honest and I don’t now either. It’s so unsurprising when you explain it. Same with everything. Best to go back to the brothels, the insects impressions on the floor there, I paid them to watch me do my Kafka, making ejaculation 1/100 times but it was undoubtedly worth it, the other 99 times were still worth it somehow, hard to describe it of course that’s why people have sex, so they can say I don’t know about something and mean it, I think of all the times I said I don’t know and didn’t mean it and it makes me sick I throw up, is there somewhere here to throw up I say, where is the choicest spot they point me towards their families lingering on the curb side but I don’t get there I throw up before I arrive, then I’m back doing Kafka, sometimes I segue into Dostojevskij it makes me so incredibly hot, I don’t know how they feel, you would have to ask them, you’d have to pay them too, that’s how it works with them, perhaps they didn’t feel anything, it makes me hot just thinking about that, they saw me complete the full transformation, jump the arc of the impossible literary genealogy, and felt nothing looked the other way even, rather at the suburban death through the window than at my series of, excuse my boldness, inspired moves, it looked like I was mining myself, I was spade and hole and man and blackness down there no light and I was the terrifying hierarchical relationships behind the scenes all of it, at once they looked out of the window, into the window of Pizza Hut, it was just next door back then those were the days those were days.

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It must have been at the age of five or similar, when actions are irrecoverable, that I made the decision to write, a decision no amount of attempted revocations have revoked, of course my child-self wanted not only to write, but to be a writer, he smiled at the thought, or more likely at the word, a writer, a confident, child’s smile, and now I smile back at him, but weakly, a smile by which I attempt to deceive him, to suggest that it came to pass, that the plot lines have been flowing from me strongly and consistently, it is an attempt at a satisfied smile, but as I smile it occurs to me that the old question, what you wish you could tell your five-year-old self, is in my case – and probably secretly in the case of everyone – inverted, instead I am interested in what my five-year-old self would tell me, of course I can’t even guess, if only some line of communication would open up between me now and him then, he would be a constant source of plot, a wild flow just requiring a little external constraint to realise their potential, the bleak editorial mind of maturity, in fact it wouldn’t be a line of communication at all, if I had my way, rather a kind of one-way future-to-past opening, down which I would eavesdrop, but of course it isn’t possible, probably that is why he smiled in the first place, anticipating it all, sabotaging it from the beginning, withholding all possible plotlines in the tightly curled up ball of his brain, no, I don’t think it is so simple, his smile is more ironic than amused, more likely he was excited to see what would emerge if he kept all the plots to himself, what would remain of literature, he wanted to witness the reflexive ‘experiments’ – he winces at the word, but acknowledges its usefulness – that would exist in lieu of what he withheld, hoping that possibly, if the convolutions were tight enough, a little light might somehow make its way back to him – as down the facing mirrors of a periscope, right down to the sea bed – a gentle warmth there for a moment at the centre of his soft, boyish forehead.

 

 

somehow can't get it right

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