Monthly Archives: February 2012

Something quite different

A grey day after a spell of sun. Dark heavy clouds, but the farmers talk of a drought, the rain won’t come.

Your daily two-hour walk along the public footpaths and farmers’ roads, between ditches and razed copses littered with shredded branches and shrubs. A bare tree here and there. You startle a deer. It jumps over the stumps, surprisingly bony and powerful: something quite different. The deer in turn scares a flock of crows that wheel cawing over the field.

A huge charred tree, split by lightning.

The desolation of the everyday. What else can the everyday be for you? The ruination of all plans. That which wipes out the path behind and in front of you.

At the edge of a field you come across a strange sight: a dead pigeon tied to the arm of a mechanical device, moving in a circle. ‘I’ll never shoot no pigeons with you standing there, mate.’ You whirl round and see a man with a shotgun, disguised behind the thicket. You say sorry and move on. Crossing private land as you make for the road, you hear a shot ring out.

Church of the Pines

Spring, spring, flowers blossom and bloom
Squirrel, squirrel, jump down onto my roof
Sparrow, cardinal, hummingbird
Redwood, holly tree, juniper

The service moves slowly through the hills
Faint sound of the highway
Night sets on the church of pines
Ending the day, they lay down to rest

From my room, I look at the street
And see the youths passing along
While I unwind, head in a song
And in my bed, I play the guitar
I loosen the strings till I find a tone
And if it don’t come, then I’ll put it down

Howl, howl, dogs of the neighbourhood
Moon glow, over the gravestones
Dense vines, strangle the black oaks
the lamp light, the fallen fence posts
The sun rises over the treeline
With welcoming morning light
Day sets on the church of pines
one day we’ll all be laid to rest

From the hills I look up at stars
And feel the darkness swell like a bruise
And in my head I’m playing with words
I scramble and strain to find the right ones
sometimes there are none
sometimes they don’t come

–  Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon, ‘Church of the Pines’


The closeness of our bodies, the way we walked upstairs – these too were like things from a dream out of time, and so they would remain in my memory for many years. I saw understanding and disquiet in her glances and I felt grateful to her for the way she expressed her feelings with her eyes. There, once again, it was clear that Füsun and I were made for each other. I had undergone all this anguish on account of this awareness and it did not matter in the least that she was married; just to feel as happy as I did now, climbing up the stairs with her, I was ready to undergo any further torment. To the visitor stubbornly wed to ‘realism’ who cannot suppress a smile at this, having noticed how small that Cukurcuma house is, with the distance between that table and the upstairs bathroom being perhaps four and half paces, not counting the seventeen steps, let me state with categorical and liberal-minded clarity that I would readily have sacrificed my very life for the happiness I felt during that brief interlude. After closing the door to the bathroom on the top floor, I decided that my life was no longer in my control, that my connection to Füsun had shaped it into something beyond my free will. Only by believing this could I be happy, could I indeed bear to live.

–  Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence (tr. Freely)

A drop of the sea in the sea

W. dreams of a thought that would move with what it thinks, follow and respond to it, like a surfer his wave. A thought that would inhabit what was to be thought, like a fish the sea – no, a thought that would be only a drop of the sea in the sea, belonging to its object as water does to water.

– Lars Iyer, Dogma


Impatience: what blocks you from the everyday, keeps you at a remove. From the everyday which trumps all. Which has no opinion of you.

This old dusk-dread, this no man’s land between day and night. The sky is purple, ominous. You watch the chickens pecking away at the ground. What do they care about the dusk? They’ll shuffle into their coop and sleep easy. Will they dream, as they grow their eggs? They’ll dream of sweetcorn and warm straw perhaps; their favourite things. Dreams as natural as a stream’s currents.

The chickens are joined by wild birds, attracted by the feed you’ve put out: sparrows, a wood pigeon, a brilliantly coloured pheasant. Hidden in the everyday.

To stay in the everyday: nothing is harder.

The everyday

Holiday in the country. But first you must push throughLondon’s circles of hell. Shabby blocks of flats, scrapyards, the odd garish outlet with its promise of redemption.Stratford. Half-finished Olympic installations in the damp grey air,Westfieldmall, the Gherkin on the other side, the City behind it.  Suicide stretch, you think to yourself, the planet’s suicidal thoughts materialised. All hope abandon ye who enter here, written in soot across the sky. The train squeaks down the filthy tracks intoLiverpool Streetstation. Afternoon rush hour, the city shoving out its crowds. I had not though death had undone so many…

What does it take to get away, just for a week? It takes money you don’t have, it takes a train, bus and taxi to get to a cottage by a road with constant traffic that even earplugs can’t drown out. It takes half an hour’s walk between farmers’ fields to get the zooming and clanking out of your head. The clouds part to reveal the setting sun, it warms you, you sit down on the tractor verge with upturned head. A snippet of the everyday after a day of seeming everydayness, maybe the day isn’t wasted, you think. Long rows of budding cabbage. Rolls of hay. The sun going down behind the bare trees, behind the hills, its rays spreading across the fields…

Is this the everyday? The everyday isn’t a day like today, you think, a day of travel, split into departures and destinations. Yet it has something to do with time, you tell yourself: the world’s time. Inhuman time. The everyday is universal, you think, everyday tasks notwithstanding. It’s the shifting of seasons across the earth, the orbits of moons, the lives of stars… To merge with the everyday: to let your life extend beyond your everyday self. The difficulty is to empty your mind of the noises that assail it, you tell yourself, of the stains it makes on the silence of the day.

But you’ve only just arrived in the countryside, you think, as you walk back to the cottage by the road with its non-stop traffic – the countryside that’s supposed to give you a break. The animals you’re here to feed for your holidaying friends, the rabbits and chickens, they know about the everyday, go clean their litters, watch them.


Now an angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a blazing fire —

a fire that devours fire;

a fire that burns in things dry and moist;

a fire that glows amid snow and ice;

a fire that is like a crouching lion;

a fire that reveals itself in many forms;

a fire that is, and never expires;

a fire that shines and roars;

a fire that blazes and sparkles;

a fire that flies in a storm wind;

a fire that burns without wood;

a fire that renews itself every day;

a fire that is not fanned by fire;

a fire that billows like palm branches;

a fire whose sparks are flashes of lightning;

a fire black as a raven;

a fire, curled, like the colours of the rainbow!

- Yannai, ‘The Celestial Fire’, from The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse (via here)

You start to write

You start to write — writing is impossible. Then picture yourself writing like a criminal hiding in plain sight. Write as you’d write if you were really writing. Write of your troubles, such as they are. Write of what might relieve them. As you write, your troubles and their relief start to float into eternity. You don’t know if this means comfort or more trouble. You don’t know what any of these words mean as you write them, and when you paste them into this box, under this date, and click post, their journey is complete and never-ending.

Put away

She used to say to him, If people knew what I was thinking they would put me away forever. But they would put us all away, he said. They have put us away. We are put away for our thoughts, one way or another. We have put ourselves away, he said.

– Don DeLillo, Mao II 

There is an idea in Finland that it is good to sit in silence as the light goes, to observe nightfall as a time of contemplation – ‘pitaa hamaraa’, ‘keeping the twilight’.

- Peter Davidson, The Idea of North (via here)